Syrian media activists make a difference on Obama’s website! – a Forward Magazine scoop..

We are glad to have Camille Alexandre Otrakji, a Syrian residing in Canada and the founder of, as a guest writer on Forward Magazine’s blog. His post, below, discusses a very interesting story about a recent interaction he had along other Syrian activists with Obama’s transition-into-presidency website & team:

Syrian media activists make a difference on Obama’s website - Forward Magazine finds out

One of my American friends, who happens to be a die-hard democrat, sent me a link to President Obama’s slick transition website at

When I realized that the transition team offered the site’s visitors a “contact us” page, I could not resist the temptation to “say something” to the Obama team. Knowing fully well that they already received thousands of other messages so far, I realized that if my message was to be read by anyone other than the first-level junior assistants who judge the usefulness of these online comments, my message had to standout from the rest.

So I remembered a story I heard from a foreign journalist who visited Damascus last week about Obama T-shirts in Damascus selling equally well compared to the classic best seller Nasrallah T-shirts.

So I started to fill Obama’s online form with the required fields … name, last name, email, address, city, state, country.

Country… They had a drop down list that included almost every country on planet earth. Even Sudan and Iran were there.

But Syria was not on that list!

That was not the end of the world but … then again, why is Iran, a fellow “axis of evil” member in that list, but not Syria?

I decided to write to 25 of my Syrian friends on Facebook – who are eloquent writers in English. After I explained to them the bizarre and unique absence of Syria from Obama’s online list, quite a few of my friends joined me in writing polite and friendly messages to the Obama team to congratulate the new president and wish him luck and … to ask why is Syria not on that list?

I’m happy to report that the Obama people, no doubt busy with a million other tasks these days, responded to our request within few days.

No, they did not add Syria to the list. But they removed all other countries from that list.

So I guess we … did a good thing? : )