Ammar Abdulhamid

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Ammar Abdulhamid
عمار عبد الحميد
Ammar Abdulhamid..jpg
Abdulhamid at FDD
Born (1966-05-30) May 30, 1966 (age 49)
Damascus, Syria
Residence Washington D.C
Alma mater University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point
Occupation Author, Activist and thinker
Spouse(s) Khawla Yusuf
Children Oula and Mouhanad
Website ammarabdulhamid.com
Syrian Revolution Digest

Ammar Abdulhamid (Arabic عمار عبد الحميد; born May 30, 1966) is a Syrian-born author, human rights activist, former radical Islamist, political dissident, co-founder and president of the Tharwa Foundation. Ammar was featured in the Arabic version of Newsweek Magazine as one of 43 people making a difference in the Arab world in May 2005.[1][2]

Career[edit]

Early life[edit]

Abdulhamid was born on May 30, 1966, to Syrian actress Muna Wassef and the late Syrian filmmaker Muhammad Shahin [3] in Damascus, Syria. He used to be a radical Islamist until

By mid-1987, Ammar embraced the religion of his father, Islam and was a committed Sunni Muslim. He described himself as a 'radical Islamist' and had the intention of flying to Afghanistan via Pakistan to join the Mujahideen and fight in the Soviet-Afghan War but decided against it once he found out that after the Soviet withdrawal, the Mujahideen were fighting each other.[4]

He spent approximately eight years in the United States (1986–1994), studying astronomy and history. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science in history. He returned to Damascus in September 1994.

Ammar briefly taught social studies at the Pakistan International School of Damascus (PISOD) then located in Mazzeh, Damascus, between 1995-1997. Known to his students as "Mr. Ammar", Abdulhamid was a respected teacher who encouraged creative thinking and was not afraid to objectively discuss the faults of monotheistic religions, in particular Islam, which at times lead to discontent among some conservative students and their families, but also drew respect and admiration from students of various backgrounds.

He married author and human-rights activist Khawla Yusuf.

Adbulhamid and Yusuf fled Damascus in September 2005, after calling for the overthrow of the Assad government. They currently live in Washington, D.C.,with their two children Oula (1986) and Mouhanad (1990) awaiting political asylum in the United States.[5] Oula works at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and writes regularly.[6] Mouhanad has recently joined the International Medical Corps team.


Foreign policy[edit]

Abdulhamid was a visiting fellow in the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution 2004-2006.[5][7]

Abdulhamid was a fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and is member of its Syria Working Group.[8]

Abdulhamid was the first Syrian to ever testify in front of American Congress 2006/2008 against what he viewed as crimes by the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and briefed presidents of the United States among other world leaders.[9]

Syria[edit]

In April 2012, a delegation of Syrian opposition members lead by Ammar, visited Pristina, Kosovo with the aim of learning guerilla tactics from the Kosovo Liberation Army. Ammar stressed that the delegation has come to Kosovo to "learn" and that Kosovo had walked the path of civil war which "would be very useful for us."[10]

In 2014, Ammar called for the United States to arm the Syrian opposition, enforce a no-fly zone and expand U.S military action beyond Iraq.[11]

Foundations[edit]

Abdulhamid and Yusuf have founded several politically oriented foundations:

  • DarEmar: In 2003, they established DarEmar, a publishing house and non-governmental organization dedicated to raising the standards of civic awareness in the Arab world.[12]
  • Tharwa Foundation: In 2003, they founded the Tharwa Project while still residing in Syria. After relocating to the U.S. in 2005, they founded the Tharwa Foundation as an offshoot. The foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots political organization that encourages diversity, development, and democracy in Syria and across Southwest Asia and North Africa. (The foundation's name comes from the Arabic word tharwa or "wealth" while playing on thawra or "revolution.") The foundation works to break the information blockade imposed by the government of Bashar Al-Assad with a cadre of local activists and citizen journalists to report on socio-political issues in Syria.[13]
  • Hands Across the Mideast Support Alliance (HAMSA): In 2008, Abdulhamid co-founded Hands Across the Mideast Support Alliance (HAMSA), an initiative to mobilize international grassroots support for democracy activists in the Arab world.[14]
  • I Am Syria: a non-profit media based campaign founded in 2012, that seeks to educate the world of the Syrian conflict. This movement is dedicated to let the people of Syria know that the world is supporting them through video, pictures, and media attention.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "43 people making a difference in the Arab World". Newsweek. 
  2. ^ "Meet the Irreverent Activist, Syrian thinker Ammar Abdulhamid". The Daily Dot. 20 July 2015. Retrieved 22 January 2016. 
  3. ^ "Damascus International Film Festival". 
  4. ^ "Meet the Irreverent Activist, Syrian thinker Ammar Abdulhamid". The Daily Dot. 20 July 2015. Retrieved 22 January 2016. 
  5. ^ a b "Leaving Syria". NPR. 1 August 2006. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  6. ^ http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/experts/view/oula-abdulhamid-alrifai
  7. ^ "The Internal Dynamics of Syrian Politics (Event)". Brookings Institution. 20 July 2004. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  8. ^ Muravchik, Joshua. "Ammar Abdulhamid". FDD. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  9. ^ "- Foundation for Defense of Democracies". Retrieved 4 February 2015.  horizontal tab character in |title= at position 4 (help)
  10. ^ "Syrian opposition studies terror tactics in Kosovo". Russia Today. 4 May 2012. Retrieved 22 January 2016. 
  11. ^ "Obama has ignored Syria for too long: it's the rise of Isis, stupid – now help". The Guardian. 25 August 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2016. 
  12. ^ "Home". Dar Emar. Archived from the original on July 5, 2008. 
  13. ^ "Ammar Abdulhamid". Tharwa Foundation (Arabic). Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  14. ^ "About". HAMSA. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  15. ^ http://www.iamsyria.org/about-us.html