This is the essence of my disgust: our leaders can’t tell the difference between mediocrity and strength.

Still, even a mediocre inquisitor has sufficient power to detain and torture. This is the essence of my fear. And my terror. My would-be torturer will be a mediocre figure, working for a mediocre President, in a mediocre country, going through mediocre crises, that could have been averted through the application of a mediocre amount of wisdom (they had none), still the torture will be no less painful.

Syrian poet and activist Ammar Abdulhamid, founder of the Tharwa Project and Dar Emar, author of the novel The Whore with The Trillion Vulvas and blogger.

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region,