Bassel Khartabil

What would Bassel Think?

What would Bassel think with the state of the world?

What has changed since Bassel’s time in Syria? How about the “Israel-Hamas War” as it is called on Wikipedia? Do you agree with that framing? Who controls the technology and narrative?

Only questions to ponder today as we look back and say Happy 43rd Birthday to Bassel.

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May 22, 2024

Bassel 42

Happy Birthday Bassel. We all are mindful of your life and legacy. We are keeping you in our hearts. We miss you.

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May 22, 2023

Bassel Is Here

Bassel Was Is Here.

Today we come together on Bassel Khartabil’s birthday to remember, celebrate and reflect upon the impact Bassel has had on us. Bassel is known as a pioneer tech entrepreneur, open source activist, and the first investor in the first Bitcoin miner. He is loved. This writing is a reflection on him and his accomplishments.

May 22, 1981: Bassel is Born.

Bassel was born to a Syrian mom and Palestinian dad, the late Jamil Khartabil in Damascus, Syria. A gemini like Lawrence Lessig, Joi Ito, Kanye West and Ai Weiwei. What was the day like? The weather? The atmosphere is what I want to know from Bassel’s Mom. Was he born in a hospital? Or at home?

Two people came together and created Bassel Khartabil. Can you imagine a baby bassel: a little head, full of hair and a neatly trimmed goatee :) He briefly cries once he emerges from the warm embrace of his mother’s womb. He is greeted by his Mom and Dad with love.

The baby calms down. Both Bassel’s Mom and Dad cry tears of happiness realizing their lives are forever changed. Little did they know, Bassel would change the world in profound ways.

He changed your life.

May 22, 2022: Bassel is Celebrated.

I start each of Bassel’s birthdays with my morning ritual. I stretch and say a prayer. The memories come flooding back and I grasp for the memories deep in my mind, written on my heart.

Today, I turned to my email “memory”. I typed “Bassel Safadi” and found amazing gems.

Thank you to our wonderful technology, which Bassel contributed source code too. Without Bassel, I could not find these emails. AH! These emails date back to the first time I met Bassel. I am joyful that each email is a path to stories that we experienced, but which the clouds of experience have buried. Some of the emails have people also in the communication.

I begin by replying to each email where there is a person attached. There are so many names :)

Noura, Donatalla, Joi, Dana, Sultan, Christopher, Barry, Pete, Celine, Habib, Mohamed, Oussama, Bilal, Niki, Ryan, Eric, Larry, Jimmy, Mitchell, Stephanie, Adam, Michelle, Katherine, Spencer, Jillian, Danny, Mark, Mike, Clement, Landon, Brad, Tyler, Noura. (Pause) Jamil, Aaron, and Elliot. Respect to those also no longer with us.

The projects are expansive that we created together in order to Free Bassel: Trees planted for bassel (“Tree Bassel”), countless books, music projects, art spread around the world, New Palmyra, and a statement from the White House. We gave it our all. We did the best we could, with what we had at the time.

The conversations are not over. The proof of life is the trickle of replies :)

Bassel is with us. Today is the day we choose to celebrate Bassel’s contribution to our lives.

May 22, 2222: Bassel Will Still Be.

Without a doubt, Bassel existed, exists, and will exist. The spirit of our friend, is etched in time, written on the global blockchain we all share. He brought us together, brings us together and will continue bringing people together.

We do not need a time machine to know the party in 2222 will be something else! We only have to live in the present moment, consider our friend and what you did with Bassel. Have you told your family about him?

Today I am sitting on a plane writing this text. I cannot wait to see my daughter, Li Li. She is 2. I’m going to spend the day with her and tell her about Uncle Bassel.

I’m going to take Li Li to eat Bassel’s favorite food, Pizza on Bitcoin Pizza Day. We are going to listen to the Wu-Tang Clan, Bassel’s favorite music. I’m gonna share with her that time he bought a fake ticket accidentally to enter Tiananmen Square. I’m gonna share with her Bassel’s paintings made from Adra, scattered around the world. I’m gonna share with her his character: he chose to go back home to Damascus to a certain fate in order to help his family and friends.

We know the rest of that story. That’s the Bassel I know. Who is the Bassel you knew? Could you share that with someone :)

Happy Birthday brother, for all time.

~ Jon Phillips

Join the #bassel41 Celebration

May 22, 2022

Thank You Jamil.

March 3, 1948 - September 20, 2021

It is with great sadness that we announce that Jamil Khartabil has passed away. He was with family earlier in the day on September 20 in Damascus. He did not check in like normal, come evening time. He died of natural causes.

Before the Syrian Civil War in 2011, Jamil was a kind scholar whose home was filled with culture and his own published books. He believed in education, discussion and was a progressive man. His most progressive act was raising his son, Bassel Khartabil.

Success, not Failure

The Bassel Khartabil Fellowship expresses gratitude to everyone who loved Bassel and his father Jamil. After Bassel’s passing, we worked very hard to get both Noura Ghazi supported and Jamil to Canada to live out his days with his family. In the end, we did not accomplish that goal. Since, we have learned much.

Not so long ago, the Syrian Civil War appeared as a far-away uprising that could never happen “where I live”. In 2019, after the largest democratic protests ever in Hong Kong that spread globally which then segued to the Covid-19 Pandemic worldwide which led to large scale social unrest, humanity seems connected through world tragedy.

Jamil taught Bassel to be a non-violent pacifist. Both of the Khartabil’s, Father and Son, believed in peace and harmony, not conflict and violence.

The Bassel Khartabil Project wanted to say thank you to you for your part in fighting hard, in a non-violent, peaceful way to support Jamil and Bassel while they still joined us in this reality, on this Earth.

Life is hard. Syria has so many tragic tales of human suffering. Jamil and Bassel both brought us together to this common cause.

“Success” is that we struggled together to bring meaning to the tragedies.

And, through our shared struggle, the story of Jamil and Bassel has successfully touched millions of people, for all the ages. The story does not exist without you.

Charges for the Future

Our work is not done. There are three major efforts we would like you to join. First, Jamil was a scholar who spent his life writing and producing work. Unfortunately, this work is scattered. We will do our best to combine it together here. If you have a lead on Jamil Khartabil texts, please let us know so we may include.

Second, Jamil looked forward to visiting his ancestral home, Safad, Palestine. This did not happen. In the future, we will do some effort or gathering there in Safad. If you have an opportunity on this, let us know. Remember, when many of us met Bassel, he was Bassel Safadi. Palestinians often took on the name of their ancestral homes as a token of remembrance.

And third, let us find ways to work together with and support Noura Ghazi and the project NOPHOTOZONE she and Bassel co-founded. Please get in touch to support this project.

Bassel and his Dad were both Atheists. Bassel’s dad was persecuted, jailed and beaten, often for these beliefs he espoused through his writings. That might not mean much to those of you who believe in God(s). If anything, underscores the need for us come together in-person in the land of the living. That is where our work exists and that is why it is imperative to fellowship together while we are living.

To join our efforts, please email info@basselkhartabil

Jamil Khartabil was a Palestinian International writer and scholar who believed in peace, non-violence and published broadly in Arabic language on Atheism. He earned a degree in Art & Arabic Language from the Beirut Arab University BAU, and and an Institute degree in Electronics. He studied journalism and worked in the press as an editor. He taught Arabic language in Syria, then completed research and writing. Throughout his career he published a number of articles and stories in Palestinian and Arab magazines. He was born in Safad, Palestine on March 3, 1948 and died in Damascus, Syria on September 20, 2021. He is survived by his loving Khartabil family spread around the world and Noura Ghazi, the widow of Bassel Khartabil. His teachings, patience and love live on through the millions of people living who know of Jamil’s greatest gift to the world, his son, Bassel Khartabil.

September 27, 2021

Join #NEWPALMYRA Panel at Creative Commons Summit 2021

Join the #NEWPALMYRA panel with Barry Threw, Dorotea Gucciardo, Annie Schneider and Jon Phillips in celebration of Bassel Khartabil’s project and Creative Commons’ 20th anniversary. More surprises await up to and during that panel.

Join the #NEWPALMYRA Panel

September 16, 2021

7 Days Left in the #OPENGAZA Campaign

Only a little more left to go in the campaign organized by Bassel Fellow Tarek Loubani’s Glia Project. Do what you can to support the effort.

Support #OPENGAZA Initiative

August 24, 2021

Awareness is Enough (in 40 Parts)

Part 1: The Prompt

Where do we go? Do we fight? Do we hide? Do we have a choice? Are we the actors on a large stage that we do not control? We sit at a crossroads, a ceasefire.

Who are you at war with?

Part 2: How did you first meet Bassel?

When I first met Bassel in-person it was after a leap of faith when he invited me to Damascus in 2009. We were about to pull off the biggest feat of our lives: to launch Creative Commons Syria. I arrived at the Damascus airport after a wild ride from China. When I landed at my stopover in Qatar, I had never seen such diversity in cultures. I had a work call and went to the only place I could find with power and internet, an Airport lounge. Have you ever tried every credit card in your wallet, and one-by-one they are blocked for security reasons?

I didn’t even know what Bassel looked like! This was pre-cameraphone guys. I landed. BMWs were there standing by on the tarmac. WOW! VIPs hopped off the jet and off they went! This was my first time in the Arab World. I didn’t even know if I could look at people in the face. I didn’t know how to interact with anyone. I kept to myself, slightly nervous. After a very lax immigration, I walked thru the gate. Have you ever seen 50 people with hawks on their arms in an airport?

I walked forward. Only with my empty brain and open heart could I take the next step. A sea of cacophonics entered my ear from all manner of person: “Taxi?”, “Amerikii?”, “Bus?”, “Cellphone?”

And a gentle figured emerged: “Hey man, how are you?”

Part 3: Who was Bassel to you?

To me, he had 3 names. The first name I saw in a chat window on the open source project, Inkscape: BASSEL. After I put out a call for help. BASSEL, was the only one who responded. He gave me a gift, a gift of code. In my culture, from the heart of America, St. Louis, Missouri, the Mississippi River Basin, I was taught by my Mom and Dad to first trust people 100%. And, that’s what I did.

Later when planning the Creative Commons Syria launch, I learned BASSEL’s name was Bassel Safadi. Down the road, post-launch, I helped Bassel prepare some paperwork to travel to Singapore. It was the first time I saw his real family name in English, Bassel Khartabil.

“Dude, what’s up with the fake name? I am sponsoring your trip. My ass is on the line!” I asked intensively. He said, “Safad is the name of my family’s home. It is common for Palestinian refugees to take on the name of their home.”

Needless to say, I got more intense on him to insure I was dealing with the real Bassel Khartabil. And, it struck me. Who is Mark Twain? One of the most storied well-known well-read authors of all-time, born in Hannibal, Missouri, the Mississippi River Basin, like me. As many of you know, his real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910).

Part 4: The Conclusion

Today is May 22, 2021. Bassel Khartabil would have turned 40. The 2021 Israel-Palestine Crisis that has killed Israelis, Palestinians and possibly more, in unknown numbers with unknown names associated with the deaths, is in a ceasefire. Globally, people around the world are mounting all forms of rallies to call attention to this conflict for many sides of which way the world should spin.

Bassel, as I knew him, was a non-violent, peaceful human, who had studied all forms of nonviolent communication. He was gentle. He had a pet turtle he named Aiki and a cat he named CiCi (after Creative Commons). He left the world loved by his beloved Noura Ghazi, his father Jamil, and countless other family and friends.

The love persists. His message of peace and nonviolence, too.

Today is a day of remembrance, and I charge you up with the prompts: How did you first meet Bassel? Who was Bassel to you?

Please share wherever and however it makes sense to you, because its #bassel40 baby!

Part 40: What I’m Doing

What can I do? I have learned so much from you, too. THANKYOU.

I’m not the same as when Bassel was on the Earth. I’m someone new. Do you feel the same?

I needed power for the Italian-keyboarded MacBook Pro with the last Intel-chip inside Ai Weiwei got for me to finish “the most expensive part” of his Opera delayed by the pandemic. I re-entered my family zone and my 17 month year old, Li Li came running…”Da Da!!!!!”, she gleefully shouted.

I grabbed my power adaptor thru the Dad tricks I have learned. I stealthily tried to slip out the door. “Da Da!!!!!””, she ran to me, grabbed on and wouldn’t let go. I hugged her. I squeezed a bit harder today. I teared up and said to her, “I love you so much.”

Back to finishing this writing, the St. Louis Arch, in my view. I said to myself, “Yeah, here’s what I can do.”

Two fragments enter my mind: (1) A Jewish friend of mine told me, after I told him the story of losing my sister Charis Phillips and then Bassel Khartabil, that in Jewish culture, the highest form of honor of someone who has left the earth is to take up their spirit, their cause. (2) Heard of Bitcoin? Bassel was the first investor in the first Bitcoin miner, Qi Hardware’s Milkymist.

Today, May 22 in St. Louis Missouri from three to five pm (and around the world) I am leading with friends, the largest Pizza Party Ever. Today is also the anniversary of the first Bitcoin business transaction. Those in cryptocurrency call today, Bitcoin Pizza Day.

Today is a celebration in honor of Bassel, in honor of peace, in honor of $hope, and in honor of you!

Oh, and by the way, “Bassel’s favorite food was pizza, man,” said Jon Phillips.

Join the #bassel40 Celebration

May 22, 2021

Glia USA Brings Medical Device Manufacturing Forward from the American Heartland

Today, as part of the Bassel Khartabil Fellowship, the Fabricatorz Foundation, Glia, Bassel Khartabil Fellow Dr. Tarek Loubani, Well Made Workshop, Alderman Cara Spencer and partners, launched Glia USA to add capacity to Dr. Loubani’s Glia Open Medical Device project’s American supporters.

In addition to a full press release, media kit images and more, please follow along with our official witter account, @basselkhartabil.

Read the Press Release

March 16, 2021

An interview with Majd Al-shihabi

We sat down with Majd Al-shihabi this week to catch up one our first Bassel Khartabil Fellowship winner from 2018. Majd is a creative technologist working in Lebanon, where he is finishing a master’s degree in urban planning, and working on projects related to digital rights. He has been active advocate for open knowledge and digital rights, especially open source projects and technologies. Read about what he is up to below: 

June 25, 2020

Bassel's Birthday Forges Friend Fellowship

Happy Birthday Bassel! Today would have been your 39th birthday. We lost you too young. Today I woke to a strange feeling. It was not loss, or sadness. It was a simple mandate: serve people.

May 22, 2020

Bassel Khartabil Fellowship Awarded to Dr. Tarek Loubani and Glia to Combat COVID-19

Saint Louis, MO, USA — April 2nd, 2020 — Fabricatorz Foundation, Creative Commons, and the Mozilla Foundation have awarded the prestigious Bassel Khartabil Fellowship to Dr. Tarek Loubani, Medical Director for Glia. The Glia project makes equal care possible through Open Access manufacturing and distribution of key medical supplies, desperately needed in the global fight against COVID-19. Further details on the Fellowship and Glia are available at

April 02, 2020

Bassel Khartabil Day 2020 Join Us Live on Instagram

Join us on Sunday, March 15, 2020 for the first #basselday. This is the first activity being held. Expect more updates on our social and here at up until and during our moment of active celebration of Bassel.

Join us live on our Instagram account for 1 hour from:

  • 1 PM St. Louis Time
  • 6 PM GMT/UTC London UK Time
  • 11 AM San Francisco Time
  • 8 PM Beirut Time
  • Find time here

Join US

March 10, 2020

Bassel Khartabil Fellowship 2019 Proposals Being Reviewed

Thank you for all the submissions to the Bassel Khartabil Fellowship 2019.

We are currently reveiwing the proposals and will post an update shortly.

October 01, 2019

Bassel Khartabil Fellowship Opens 2019 Call for Proposals with Mozilla Foundation and Creative Commons

Individuals and Teams Eligible for 1 Year 50,000 USD Fellowship



Saint Louis — September 3rd, 2019 — Today Fabricatorz Foundation is pleased to invite applications to the second annual Bassel Khartabil Fellowship, honoring the legacy of beloved artist, open source technology innovator, and free culture advocate Bassel Khartabil. This prestigious fellowship supports outstanding individuals or teams developing free culture in their communities under adverse circumstances with financial stability and mentorship. The Fellowship is organized by Fabricatorz Foundation with support from Mozilla Foundation and Creative Commons, along with partnership from Khartabil’s final projects: Nophotozone and #NEWPALMYRA. Full Fellowship details and a submission form are available at

August 20, 2019

Berlin Artists, Coders & Friends of Bassel, Join Majd's Palestine Mapmaking Saturday

Bassel Khartabil fellow Majd Al-shihabi is holding a Palestine Open Maps Mapathon in Berlin on Saturday, May 18 from 1:30 pm until 4:30 pm CET at bekech Anti-Cafe.

May 17, 2019

7 Ways to Support Majd Al-shihabi

Majd Al-shihabi is the 1st Bassel Khartabil Fellow. He has produced much work in his one year tenure. Here are 7 ways to support him moving forward.

1. Share Your Feedback on Majd and Mahmoud’s presentation at Creative Commons Summit.

May 11, 2019

Bassel Khartabil Fellowship Partners with Noura Ghazi's Nophotozone

The Bassel Khartabil Fellowship Supports International Human Rights Lawyer Noura Ghazi’s Launch of “Nophotozone” Organization to Support Detainees Forcibly Disappeared in Syria, like Bassel Khartabil


Saint Louis/Damascus — March 21, 2019 — Today the Bassel Khartabil Fellowship announced its partnership with International Human Rights lawyer Noura Ghazi’s Nophotozone organization. Nophotozone supports forcibly disappeared Syrians, and their families, through legal assistance, empowerment, and advocacy. Nophotozone was an idea originated by Ghazi together with her late husband, Bassel Khartabil, the Syrian-Palestinian technology innovator and activist who opened the Internet for the Arab world who was also a victim of unlawful Syrian disappearance.

March 20, 2019

The first Bassel Khartabil Fellowship Awarded to Majd Al-shihabi

photo CC-BY Ziad Tareq Hassan

The inaugural Bassel Khartabil Fellowship was awarded today to Majd Al-shihabi, a Palestinian-Syrian engineer and urban planning graduate based in Beirut, Lebanon.

April 15, 2018

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