The rise of the Islamic State and the internationalization of the Syrian War have led many to overlook the uprising in Syria, which started in 2011. It saw large numbers of Syrians taking it down to the street in the context of the Arab Springs. The regional aspects of the Syrian crisis involving Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran are well known as are its international ramifications involving Russia, The United States and the refugee situation faced by the EU. Sadik al-Azm, who was forced to leave Damascus in the aftermath of the civil war, will bring a Syrian perspective to the perceptions and analyses within Syria and explicate the aspirations and assessments which led – and still lead – so many Syrians to revolt and fight.
Sadik al-Azm, born in Damascus in 1934, is one of the Arab world’s most influential intellectuals. He is Professor em. of the History of Modern European Philosophy at the University of Damascus in Syria and has held numerous professorships around the world. Until 2007 he was a Visiting Professor at the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, where he currently is a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for the Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia. As one of the most prominent human rights activists and advocates of intellectual freedom, free speech and secularism in the Arab World, he participated in the “Damascus Spring” in 2000-2001 fighting for democratization in Syria. He is the president of the League of Free Syrian Writers and editor-in-chief of its journal Awraq. His many books, articles and pamphlets, published in Arabic and English, have contributed significantly to major social, political, religious and ideological debates in the Arab World from the 1960s until today. His recent publications include Collected Essays (2014), Critique of Religious Thought (2015) and Self-Criticism After the Defeat (2011). He was awarded the Erasmus Prize and Leopold Lucas Prize in 2004 as well as the Goethe-Medal in 2015.
Adam Baczko is a PhD Candidate at the EHESS, Paris and a Research Fellow at Noria Research. He carried out fieldwork in Northern Syria in 2012 and 2013 and is the co-author of a book on the Syrian Revolution, to be published soon. Currently, he is a Visiting Fellow at the IWM.
Christian Ultsch is the Head of the Foreign Politics Department at the Austrian daily Die Presse.
In cooperation with the Austrian Newspaper Die Presse and generously supported by EVN.