Friday, October 9, 2015

The Radicalization roadmap; Iyad El-Baghdadi

Iyad El-Baghdadi is a writer, human rights activist, and career entrepreneur. In 2011, with the “Arab Spring” uprisings, Iyad began tweeting about the Egyptian revolution, translating statements, chants, and videos from Arabic to English, which allowed the international audience to understand what was happening. In February 2011 he translated Asmaa Mahfouz’s now-famous pre-revolution call for Egyptians to go down and protest. This video collected over a million views, and Iyad’s translation became the standard in literature documenting the revolution. 

During the Libyan revolution, Iyad continued tweeting, cultivating reliable sources for information, making him one of the most active and important voices during that revolution. Between February 17 and the international intervention on March 19, 2011, he became known for his maps showing strategic on-the-ground positions. 

After March 2011 he became well-known for his The Arab Tyrant’s Manual, a collection of satirical tweets poking fun at tyrants in trouble. The “canonical” list became so popular that within a few weeks it had already been translated into 13 languages. The hashtag #ArabTyrantManual continues to be active and relevant today. 

Iyad is a stateless Palestinian born and raised in the UAE. On the morning of the April 30th, Iyad was summoned by the Immigration department in his town of Ajman and informed of an expulsion order against him. He was jailed and held until the authorities could figure out where they could send him. No reasons were given for his expulsion and there was no process for appeal. He was then deported to Malaysia whilst his wife was seven months pregnant. His baby son was born while he was stranded in Malaysia.

Today Iyad resides with his childhood sweetheart and wife, Ammara, their baby son, Ismael, and Iyad’s “buddy”, Aldo the cat, whom he rescued from the streets six years ago. His interests include political theory, Islamic history, and philosophy. 

Iyad's most important work is The Arab Spring Manifesto, a two-volume book detailing his vision of an Islamic libertarianism which he envisions to be a potential post-Arab Spring ideology. The book is due to be completed in December 2014, with release in Summer 2015.

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