As a native Syrian and elected leader of the Reform Party of Syria, Farid Ghadry has dedicated his life to reforms in the Arab world. His intimate knowledge of the people and the politics of the region have been gained through firsthand experience.
Mr. Ghadry was born in Aleppo in northern Syria and grew up between Aleppo, Damascus, Riyadh, and Beirut. He comes from a prominent Syrian family that included many politicians and civil servants. In 1982, Mr. Ghadry became a US citizen. Today, Mr. Ghadry is a businessman.
Mr. Ghadry visited Dachau outside Munich at the age of 13 where he learned about the history of the Holocaust after being taught to hate Jews. Seeing Dachau was a life changing experience for him.
At the age of 17, he was arrested by the Syrian intelligence in Zabadani, outside Damascus and imprisoned for civil disobedience. To this day, Mr. Ghadry is still pursued by the Syrian intelligence from this incident in 1971. At the age of 34, he was beaten with a cane by the Saudi religious police because he refused to pray in a Mosque in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
All these experiences, and because of oppression in Arab countries, have given Mr. Ghadry the impetus to become more involved in changing the Middle East.
His Vision for Syria
Mr. Ghadry believes that Syria’s political system is a breeding ground for terrorism. Peaceful transition to democracy is the answer. Syria needs to strike peace with Israel supported fully by both the Syrian and the Israeli people. For Syria to succeed, it must become the beacon for tolerance and acceptance in the Arab world. Mr. Ghadry also champions economic and political reforms that can bring prosperity to offset against the rise of fanaticism and terrorism.
His Vision for Reforming Islam
Mr. Ghadry believes that because Damascus has a very important history as the capital of Sunni Islam, reformed Islam emanating from Damascus will have a great impact on the Levant region. Today, the most important three Islamic universities are educating extreme Islam to our youth. Mr. Ghadry advocates building an Islamic university in Damascus that can play an important role in easing the tensions between civilizations and providing young Muslims with an alternative interpretation of the Holy Koran; one that permits other religions to flourish side-by-side with Muslims.
He has testified in the US Congress on extremism and freedom. He also spoke at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Johns Hopkins University (SAIS), Harvard University, University of Virginia, the European Parliament, the French Parliament, Belgian Senate, and more recently Mr. Ghadry has been invited by the Israeli Knesset to address the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the first Syrian dissident to speak at the Knesset (Assad revoked his Syrian citizenship in 2007 as a result of that visit). He is a member of the Committee on the Present Danger (www.fightingterror.org). He has written several articles and essays on Syria and the politics in the Levant. He is in the process of writing a book on Syria and his experiences as a political leader.
Mr. Ghadry is married to Ahlam Ghadry (Lebanese). Together they have four children, Omar, Samer, Kristofer and Dahlia. He has served on several boards of companies and the Board of Trustees of Norwood School in Bethesda, MD. Ahlam is a Board Member of the Visiting Ladies at Children’s Hospital in Washington D.C.
Some of His Blogs & Articles (more on www.ghadry.com)
Comments by Others
“Farid Ghadry is a Syrian patriot, a defender of Arabs, and a proud Muslim. He wants the best for the peoples of the Middle East. He wants the people of the Middle East to live in freedom and democracy, with human rights guaranteed, and with abundant opportunity, hope and prosperity. For these reasons, he has been imprisoned in Lebanon by Syria, beaten in Saudi Arabia and denounced by the dictatorial regimes of many other countries. Those are all badges of honor for Mr. Ghadry, a brave and charismatic leader helping pave the way to a better future for a troubled region.”
Clifford D. May, President, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
“Gossip is he is the next president of Syria”
John Loftus of the John Batchelor Talk Show on ABC Radio
“Mr. Ghadry is one of the successful open minded businessmen the Arab world needs to help push forward the economic and political liberalization agenda, one of the most effective tools in fighting terrorism.”
Mouafac Harb, Executive Vice President of Middle East Television Network (Al-Hurra TV)
“Farid Ghadry is a dedicated freedom fighter and a brave activist for democracy. Within the context of the modern Arab Middle East that makes him a revolutionary.”
Peter Hannaford, Committee on the Present Danger
“In my many years of opposition to the regime of Assad, I have never met someone like Farid Ghadry. He is a passionate leader and a real democrat. I am proud to serve as the spokesman of the Reform Party of Syria under his leadership”
Oubai Shahbandar, Spokesman, Reform Party of Syria