Elias Muhanna: Since when have Middle Eastern governments, or any governments for that matter, managed to stifle religious parties in the Middle East by preventing them from coming to the fore? If they pass a political parties law in Syria but they don’t allow religious parties, don’t you think that’s just gonna blow up in their face?
Camille Otrakji: No. . . . Anything that separates Syria or divides Syria is not a good thing. . . . It’s too dangerous to start reform along those lines. . . . Let’s keep the religious, ethnic, and regional divisions out [of the political parties law]. . . .
Elias Muhanna is a PhD candidate in Arabic and Islamic studies at Harvard University. Camille Otrakji is a Syrian political blogger based in Montreal. Video by Bloggingheads.tv (recorded on 20 May 2011; posted on 21 May 2011). The text above is an edited partial transcript of the dialogue between Muhanna and Otrakji. See, also, Elias Muhanna, “Talking about a Revolution: An Interview with Camille Otrakji” (Qifa Nabki, 2 May 2011); SyriaNow, “Syria: To Amend Article 8 of the Constitution, But Not to Allow the Establishment of Religious Parties” (MRZine, 9 May 2011); and Mark Memmott, “World Has Simplistic View of Events in Syria, Says Reporter Who Sneaked In” (NPR, 13 May 2011).
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