Arab translator of freedom classics works in secret

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A heart—warming story last week from Johathan Rauch of the National Journal, titled, "In Arabic, 'Internet' means 'Freedom'." Rauch reports on an anonymous scholar in Baghdad known by the pseudonym H. Ali Kamil.

Dr. Kamil is working in secrecy to edit new Arabic versions of Liberalism, by the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, and In Defense of Global Capitalism, by the Swedish economist Johan Norberg. He is doing this at some risk of kidnap, beating, and death, because he hopes that a new Arabic—language website called LampofLiberty.org ——— MisbahAlHurriyya.org in Arabic —— can change the world by publishing liberal classics.

"A Shiite from Iraq's south, he is an accomplished scholar, but he asks that no other personal details be revealed. Two of his friends have been killed in the postwar insurgency and chaos, one shot and the other "slaughtered." Others of his acquaintance are in hiding, visiting their families in secret. He has been threatened for working with an international agency.

Now he is collaborating not with foreign agencies but with foreign ideas. He has made Arabic translations of all or parts of more than two dozen articles and nine books and booklets. "None," he says, "were previously translated, to my knowledge, for the simple reason that they are all on liberalism and democracy, which unfortunately have little audience and advocators in the Middle East, where almost all publishing houses and press outlets are governmental —— i.e., anti—liberal." Kamil's work is anonymous out of fear, not modesty. Translating Frederic Bastiat's The Law, he says, took 20 days of intense labor.

"I am proud of that, especially when I knew that the book has never been translated before. This is one of the works my heart is aching for not having my name in its front page."

Asked how he began this work, he recounts meeting an American who was lecturing in Baghdad on principles of constitutional government. The message struck home.

"Yes, you could say I am libertarian," Kamil says. "I believe in liberty for all, equality and human rights, freedom and democracy, free—market ethics, and I hate extremism in everything. I believe in life more than death as being the way to happiness.""

Read it all. We can't liberate the Middle East without opening the minds of its intellectuals and scholars. Some thoughtful benefactor should be supporting a great translation project of the major library of freedom.  Muslims around the world should know that they are not the first to have to live in fear ——— that is where we all come from. And they should know there is a history of successful resistance to tyranny.

Maybe the Hoover Institute at Stanford University should adopt a new mission: Not just preserving the history of the Cold War, but providing the same essential service for future generations, by supporting Arabic translators of the great classics of free thought. And not just Arabic —— also Farsi and a dozen other major languages.

It is hard to keep liberty alive without understanding the philosophical foundations.

A heart—warming story last week from Johathan Rauch of the National Journal, titled, "In Arabic, 'Internet' means 'Freedom'." Rauch reports on an anonymous scholar in Baghdad known by the pseudonym H. Ali Kamil.

Dr. Kamil is working in secrecy to edit new Arabic versions of Liberalism, by the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, and In Defense of Global Capitalism, by the Swedish economist Johan Norberg. He is doing this at some risk of kidnap, beating, and death, because he hopes that a new Arabic—language website called LampofLiberty.org ——— MisbahAlHurriyya.org in Arabic —— can change the world by publishing liberal classics.

"A Shiite from Iraq's south, he is an accomplished scholar, but he asks that no other personal details be revealed. Two of his friends have been killed in the postwar insurgency and chaos, one shot and the other "slaughtered." Others of his acquaintance are in hiding, visiting their families in secret. He has been threatened for working with an international agency.

Now he is collaborating not with foreign agencies but with foreign ideas. He has made Arabic translations of all or parts of more than two dozen articles and nine books and booklets. "None," he says, "were previously translated, to my knowledge, for the simple reason that they are all on liberalism and democracy, which unfortunately have little audience and advocators in the Middle East, where almost all publishing houses and press outlets are governmental —— i.e., anti—liberal." Kamil's work is anonymous out of fear, not modesty. Translating Frederic Bastiat's The Law, he says, took 20 days of intense labor.

"I am proud of that, especially when I knew that the book has never been translated before. This is one of the works my heart is aching for not having my name in its front page."

Asked how he began this work, he recounts meeting an American who was lecturing in Baghdad on principles of constitutional government. The message struck home.

"Yes, you could say I am libertarian," Kamil says. "I believe in liberty for all, equality and human rights, freedom and democracy, free—market ethics, and I hate extremism in everything. I believe in life more than death as being the way to happiness.""

Read it all. We can't liberate the Middle East without opening the minds of its intellectuals and scholars. Some thoughtful benefactor should be supporting a great translation project of the major library of freedom.  Muslims around the world should know that they are not the first to have to live in fear ——— that is where we all come from. And they should know there is a history of successful resistance to tyranny.

Maybe the Hoover Institute at Stanford University should adopt a new mission: Not just preserving the history of the Cold War, but providing the same essential service for future generations, by supporting Arabic translators of the great classics of free thought. And not just Arabic —— also Farsi and a dozen other major languages.

It is hard to keep liberty alive without understanding the philosophical foundations.