Thursday, September 22, 2005

Americans in the Arab World

I had nightmares about the Hope not Hate event for many nights. But I heard about two American singers who were comming on campus to sing arabic songs. I checked out their site before they came and I was impressed, I could tell their presentation was going to be very interesting.

I attented the presentation and I must say that it was much better than my high expectations. Cameron and Kristina have been around the arab world, they have been to Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Palestine and Iraq. They talked to a largely American audience about the arabs and their culture. All the time Cameron had a 3ood in his hand and Kristina has her beautiful voice, and every now and then they would sing a famous arabic song. All kinds of songs, from Fairooz to "6ala3 al Badr 3alaina"

They spoke about how hospitable and friendly arabs are. They spoke of the pain we go through. They spoke of Palestinian refugees. As an Arab I had never been more proud since I came here. But what really effected me was that after they were done I saw many Americans from the audience going up to them and thanking them for changing their perspective.

I went and thanked them myself, for they are a bridge that is badly needed.

Representing Islam

There is an Arab club on our campus and I must admit that unfortunatly the first seminar they held was a complete failure. It was the "Hope not Hate" event. Its title was Islam and the US. Many people showed up and I was one of them.

There were two speakers, one talked and talked without making much sense. Confusing everything and seriously I couldn't even give you a summary of what he said. The second guy who is a new convert to Islam talked like he was there to convert everyone. He would say things like "All your souls KNOW that Allah is your God, you just have to be brave and admit it"

I buried my face in my hands and felt so ashamed. But wait, that was not the end of my misery. SOme articles were being passed around, they were supposed to be a MUST READ. So I did read..... just to find out that the article was all about how Katrina is a punishment from God. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT??!

No wonder muslims have such a bad image here.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Mike does it again

Friday, September 2nd, 2005Vacation is Over... an open letter from Michael Moore to George W. Bush
Friday, September 2nd, 2005

Dear Mr. Bush:

Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag.

Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are? We could really use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping with national disasters. How come they weren't there to begin with?

Last Thursday I was in south Florida and sat outside while the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed over my head. It was only a Category 1 then but it was pretty nasty. Eleven people died and, as of today, there were still homes without power. That night the weatherman said this storm was on its way to New Orleans. That was Thursday! Did anybody tell you? I know you didn't want to interrupt your vacation and I know how you don't like to get bad news. Plus, you had fundraisers to go to and mothers of dead soldiers to ignore and smear. You sure showed her!

I especially like how, the day after the hurricane, instead of flying to Louisiana, you flew to San Diego to party with your business peeps. Don't let people criticize you for this -- after all, the hurricane was over and what the heck could you do, put your finger in the dike?
And don't listen to those who, in the coming days, will reveal how you specifically reduced the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for New Orleans this summer for the third year in a row. You just tell them that even if you hadn't cut the money to fix those levees, there weren't going to be any Army engineers to fix them anyway because you had a much more important construction job for them -- BUILDING DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ!

On Day 3, when you finally left your vacation home, I have to say I was moved by how you had your Air Force One pilot descend from the clouds as you flew over New Orleans so you could catch a quick look of the disaster. Hey, I know you couldn't stop and grab a bullhorn and stand on some rubble and act like a commander in chief. Been there done that.

There will be those who will try to politicize this tragedy and try to use it against you. Just have your people keep pointing that out. Respond to nothing. Even those pesky scientists who predicted this would happen because the water in the Gulf of Mexico is getting hotter and hotter making a storm like this inevitable. Ignore them and all their global warming Chicken Littles. There is nothing unusual about a hurricane that was so wide it would be like having one F-4 tornado that stretched from New York to Cleveland.

No, Mr. Bush, you just stay the course. It's not your fault that 30 percent of New Orleans lives in poverty or that tens of thousands had no transportation to get out of town. C'mon, they're black! I mean, it's not like this happened to Kennebunkport. Can you imagine leaving white people on their roofs for five days? Don't make me laugh! Race has nothing -- NOTHING -- to do with this!

You hang in there, Mr. Bush. Just try to find a few of our Army helicopters and send them there. Pretend the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are near Tikrit.


P.S. That annoying mother, Cindy Sheehan, is no longer at your ranch. She and dozens of other relatives of the Iraqi War dead are now driving across the country, stopping in many cities along the way. Maybe you can catch up with them before they get to DC on September 21st.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Lack of Identity

I was reading Chanads "Just Say No to Public Bumlicking" and as I was reading the comments I noticed one anonymous dude who said

"I dont know wich bahraini homes youve visited but ive seen quite a few who proudly display picture of the qeyada… its called patriotism
this article is exactly whats wrong with the arab world today… no solidarity no feeling of unity"


well what a coincidence, in my last "politics in the Middle East" class we were discussing lack of identity in the Middle East. The conclusion I reached from that class is that in some countries in the Middle East the problem is that the government treats a certain part of the population as outsiders, making them feel like they do not belong in that country. And to stop opposition they accuse those same people of being unpatriotic. The prof. gave examples of Iraq and Turkey.

How do governments make certain people into "the other", well 2 examples would be: 1) They favour other groups of citizens 2) through Education.

About Bahrain, well you cant really say that Shiites are treated equally with other Bahraini citizens. And how much do school books tell us about shiites?? The government is the one excluding the shiites from being part of the country. And then when people demand their rights, suddenly they are not patriotic!

The so-called king of Bahrain needs to know that if he wants Shiite Bahrainis to be "patriotic" he needs to treat them like citizens!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

100% happy?

There was a picnic downtown last week. It was celebrating the beginning of the semester here at Beloit College in Wisconsin. This is the college I will be spending my next two years in and graduating from.

After I started eating my sandwich (filled with lettuce andpickles) I realized that it was a very nice sunny day. There was live music and everybody was happy and dancing. Afterall, why not be happy, right? WRONG, I found myself sitting there and wondering... at this very moment how are other people around the world. Specifically how are Iraqis living? and Palestinians, what are they thinking about. Can one be 100% happy when there is all this injustice in the world?

I talked to a friend of mine who said "we should celebrate the present and not think about the past"... yes even if the past included an original sin. Lets say, killing Native Americans and taking their land. I gave her that, but argued that even if u want to forget about the past, can u ignore the present?? You are paying taxes to a government who is causing pain to so many. ANd her answer was " As long as I am happy and comfortable I have no reason to think about any1 else". For her that was a very normal thing to say. For me.... it was an explosion. It had never occured to me that some people, after they find out the truth, they would simply not care. They are happy, that is what matters.

In my English class today we read a short story that is really powerful, about a perfect society. However this perfect society has a little child imprisoned in a little room, and this child is what all their happiness depends on. It would make them sad, but eventually they would accept it and realize how lucky they are. The ending presents the reader with two choices: accepting or leaving this "perfect" society. My choice would be.. none of the above. My responsibility would be to help that child. It is the responsibility of every citizen in this society, for that child is the innocent prisoners at Guantanamo, and the innocent Iraqis who are suffering, that child is every Palestinian.

I would recommend this short story to everyone, it really is something that will make you think. I will post the title and author of the story later...