Success stories of Palestinian achievers from all over the world

Aous Shakra

Personal Info

  • Country of residence: Jordan
  • Gender: Male
  • Born in: 1908
  • Age: 107
  • Curriculum vitae :


Aous Shakra was an existential philosopher and politician. He was the Palestinian ambassador to the U.N. in 1991; a position he held for 6 months.

He was raised a Christian, and attended Catholic School in Safed during the British Mandate of Palestine. In 1935, he immigrated to Canada with his family where he graduated with a Bachelors in Philosophy. He received his PhD in Law and International Relations from Harvard University and taught there until his return to the Middle East in 1965 after an absence of 30 years.

In 1967, he created the Arab Association for Freedom of Thought and began publishing a monthly magazine "Al Fikr Al Horr" in Beirut. He continuously argued against the religious extremes and falsely nationalistic tendencies he felt he found among Arabs. While he despised the Nationalist Lebanese Right, he also found fault with the Arabist Left. He claimed the Left was unable to build constructively upon its popular Arab support out of incompetence and greed, while the Right was based upon racist and highly deceived individuals. In 1985, Shakra declared his Atheism, a comment which angered Arab Islamists and lead to death threats and continuous harassment.

His best known writings are "What? When? How?," written in 1974, and "A Short History from Rex to Dex," written in 1952. Shakra advocated smoking marijuana in his younger days, saying that it helped elevate oneself from a normal state of mind to a state capable of conceiving of the idea of "Existence precedes essence". He was a strong supporter of Darwinism, and was spiritual in the Humanist sense. His Humanism is seen in the first sentence in his book, "Masafi" (Distance) describing humanity's failure to self-actualize.

"Humans were brought to this world for one singular reason: to live. Unfortunately, it is a task they have miserably failed at appreciating."
In his final speech at the United Nations in New York City, he criticized the World for allowing itself to be controlled:

"If your well-being is not subject to anybody or anything, only then are you free. Otherwise whether you're in a prison or jogging on the beach, you shall always remain a prisoner within yourself. Break-free from the religious institutions that set you apart, and from the Governments that seek to control your every thought."
For all his achievements and intellectual contributions to society, Aous Shakra is also remembered for having quite the peculiar behaviour. For instance, it has been reported that in a sudden outburst in a meeting with his colleagues from "Al Fikr Al Horr" he famously held his cigarette bud and for absolutely no reason flicked it at his fellow thinker Hussein A.H.

On the morning of April 1, 1992 Aous Shakra died in Amman, Jordan at the age of 84. He was still very active at this age both on the physical and intellectual level. The conditions surrounding his death remain mysterious, and several newspapers reported the possibility of this being an assassination. Despite being a man of many friends, Aous Shakra had a lot of enemies in the Islamists and the Israelis. In the aftermath of his death, members of his family and his lifetime friends created the Aous Shakra Foundation which rewards people for their contributions to the liberalization of the Arab world.


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