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Amin had to stay away from this blog since 2010. Please refrain from posting comments for the time being as he won’t be able to read them. He hopes to be back soon, and he extends to everybody his heartfelt apologies and his best regards.
Friends have told me — both in writing and in conversation — that this blog ought to be more visible and “better referenced”. It certainly will be, eventually. But that isn’t what I’m after at the moment. I called the first article I posted ‘Blog — freedom and bondage’ because this wonderful instrument offers us both, as does everything that modernity brings us, and it is only by using it that one can find out on which path one is travelling.
Those who know me know that I write in an atmosphere of calm, solitude and serenity, and that I distance myself as much as I can from the hubbub of the world. Given this, I find blogging a paradoxical experience. If it were to invade my life and encroach upon the novel I am writing, I would have no choice but to run away. But I don’t plan to do that. One only has to see the pace at which I write my posts to realise that I enjoy the experience, and that I intend to keep at it.
I will continue because keeping a blog meets a need, a specific need that is increasingly clear to me: what I would like to do is leave ajar the door to my office so that any friends passing by may glance within and nod a quick greeting, perhaps let their eyes wander over a few pages that I’ve left out for them to see, then continue along their way with the promise of dropping by again later.
In short, I don’t want to keep my door tightly closed, nor do I want to want to put myself squarely in the public eye, with the doors and windows open to every gust of wind, my pages fluttering about everywhere.
Is this unrealistic? Doesn’t the Web have its own inherent logic from which no one can escape? I don’t think so. This blog will be what I make of it, and what my visitors help me make of it. I hope that it will be a space for thinking about literature, about languages and words, about the Obama years — what I call “the Washington Spring” —, about the world in which we live, a world that is both fascinating and worrying. And I will undertake to make it exactly that.
Something eludes me in the story of al-Megrahi, the Libyan official who has just been released in Scotland.
If he is guilty of a crime as dreadful as the Lockerbie bombing – that is, of using a bomb to destroy an airliner and cause the deaths of 270 people -, why has he been released after just ten years in prison?
If he is innocent, then why were some people surprised to see him greeted with flowers upon his return home?
I won’t speculate on his guilt or innocence. One thing, however, is absolutely certain: if this man did indeed commit the abominable act of which he is accused, he did it not for his own account, but for that of his superiors. This is a patent, incontestable fact. Yet no one seems embarrassed to receive these same superiors with all the usual fanfare, or to accommodate their every whim. No one thinks twice before being photographed at their sides, or before signing lucrative contracts with them. Yet when al-Megrahi’s masters pose in photographs alongside the underling who paid for their crimes, we are supposed to be outraged.
Many of those familiar with the affair – notably, some of the victims’ parents – are convinced that the trial was shamefully rigged, that the Libyan official wasn’t guilty at all but rather served as a scapegoat to protect the real perpetrators, whether Libyan or not. Indeed, the Scottish Secretary for Justice, Kenny MacAskill, implied as much when he decided to free al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds. Because even if the man suffers from an incurable disease that leaves him little time to live, he could have been conscientiously treated in a British hospital. Certainly, he should never have been allowed to return home – not unless there are serious doubts about his culpability.
Everything leads us to believe that certain people have struck a sordid bargain for oil, or for commercial or political gain. Plenty of clues point this way. If this is indeed the case, then there are some who have no business lording it as though from some great ethical height. By dint of compromising values in the name of ‘realism’, by dint of interpreting principles according to what’s currently convenient, the West will eventually lose all moral credibility; as for her adversaries/partners across the Mediterranean, they never had much moral cradibility to begin with.
I don’t know whether, one day, the truth about the Lockerbie bombing will come completely to light; whatever that truth might be, however, one thing is certain: the affair exposes the moral failure that marks our times, a failure in which no leader – not in the West and not in the Arab world – hasn’t played a part. It is a failure from which no one can walk with head held high.
A few friends urged me to me keep this on-line journal; others tried to dissuade me from it. Some explained that nowadays, one needs a space where one can express oneself in complete freedom and with complete peace of mind; a space where one can sometimes think aloud; a way to recommend a book or article to one’s readers.
Others warned me that I was opening a Pandora’s box, one that I would never again be able to close; that far from granting myself a freedom, I was putting myself in bondage. They told me that henceforth, I would spend hours every day chained to this blog.
I take the plunge now without knowing which of my friends I will prove right and which I will prove wrong. This tool appeals to me and frightens me all at once, and I continue to harbour the illusion of being able to use it without becoming enslaved to it.