Tuesday, October 26, 2010

In support of Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy, renowned Indian novelist and activist, may be charged with "sedition" by the Indian government for speeches she made recently in militarily-occupied Kashmir.

I publish her response as a gesture of support:

Pity the Nation
by Arundhati Roy

Kashmir, Oct. 26 -- I write this from Srinagar, Kashmir. This morning's papers say that I may be arrested on charges of sedition for what I have said at recent public meetings on Kashmir. I said what millions of people here say every day. I said what I, as well as other commentators, have written and said for years. Anybody who cares to read the transcripts of my speeches will see that they were fundamentally a call for justice. I spoke about justice for the people of Kashmir who live under one of the most brutal military occupations in the world; for Kashmiri Pandits who live out the tragedy of having been driven out of their homeland; for Dalit soldiers killed in Kashmir whose graves I visited on garbage heaps in their villages in Cuddalore; for the Indian poor who pay the price of this occupation in material ways and who are now learning to live in the terror of what is becoming a police state.

Yesterday I traveled to Shopian, the apple-town in South Kashmir which had remained closed for 47 days last year in protest against the brutal rape and murder of Asiya and Nilofer, the young women whose bodies were found in a shallow stream near their homes and whose murderers have still not been brought to justice. I met Shakeel, who is Nilofer's husband and Asiya's brother. We sat in a circle of people crazed with grief and anger who had lost hope that they would ever get insaf -- justice -- from India, and now believed that Azadi -- freedom -- was their only hope. I met young stone pelters who had been shot through their eyes. I traveled with a young man who told me how three of his friends, teenagers in Anantnag district, had been taken into custody and had their finger-nails pulled out as punishment for throwing stones.

In the papers some have accused me of giving 'hate-speeches', of wanting India to break up. On the contrary, what I say comes from love and pride. It comes from not wanting people to be killed, raped, imprisoned or have their finger-nails pulled out in order to force them to say they are Indians. It comes from wanting to live in a society that is striving to be a just one. Pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds. Pity the nation that needs to jail those who ask for justice, while communal killers, mass murderers, corporate scamsters, looters, rapists, and those who prey on the poorest of the poor, roam free.

Arundhati Roy is the author of the novel The God of Small Things, for which she received the 1997 Booker Prize. Her newest book, published by Haymarket, is Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers, a series of essays examining the dark side of democracy in contemporary India. More on the ongoing debate in India over Roy's comments on Kashmir: <ibnlive.in.com/news/sedition-case-civil-rights-groups-back-arundhati/133762-37-64.html>.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The crack down on bloggers

My son, out of love and concern for my well being, sent me this article from
the Economist

After he read the article, my husband, out of love and concern for HIS own freedom, is encouraging me to blog more often and more boldly.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

الفرق بين تشيلي و مصر

المساحة: ء
تشيلي: طويلة ورفيعة
مصر: مربعة

السكان: ء
تشيلي: 17 مليون
مصر: 80 مليون

من الكوارث: ء
تشيلي: إنهيار منجم وإحتباس 33 عامل تحت الأرض
مصر: إنهيار ثماني كتل صخرية فوق 50 منزلا في الدويقة، مصرع 22 شخصا، وأصابة 35 آخرون، بينما لا يزال عدد غير معروف من السكان تحت الأنقاض

تصريحات المسؤلون: ء
تشيلي: نعد بإنقاذ جميع العمال سالمين ونعد بتحقيق ذلك في أقرب وقت ممكن
مصر: خدوا الشر وراحوا

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

ما قل ودل

روى صديق أن الأوتوبيس الصحراوي الذي كان يقله من القاهرة إلى الأسكندرية قد توقف لأخذ بعض الركاب الذين تعطلت بهم السياره. 
لاحظ السائق بين الركاب فلاح مصري بسيط في الغالب تصادف مروره في هذا المكان في ذلك التوقيت.
قال السائق للفلاح الذي كان قد هم بالركوب: لاموأخذة يا بلديتنا، الأتوبيس دا غالي حبتين
نظرالفلاح للسائق بعزة وقال: إيه يعني!!
قال السائق:  التذكرة بخمسين جنيه يابا
بانت الدهشة على وجه الفلاح وقال : ليه يعني؟؟
ونزل فلاح ما قل ودل من الأتوبيس.ء
تذكرت هذا الموقف موأخراً.
عندما تم إبعاد إبراهيم عيسى من أو تي في، ثم تم إغلاق ستوديوهات الأوربت فأنحبست أصوات كل من عمرأديب، وجمال عنايت، وبثينة كامل. ومع ذلك وعملاً بالأيه "إن بعض الظن إثم"، صدقت ما قيل من أسباب حميدة لهذا كله وقلت: إيه يعني!!
أما بعد إبعاد عيسى من الدستور، ومنع الأسواني من الكتابة في الشروق كمان، فلا مفر من الترديد وراء الفلاح الفصيح: 
ليه يعني؟؟

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Kalam by Cicero

"Not to know what happened before you were born is to be a child forever."

Cicero, a Roman statesman and orator.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Last Word

I was enjoying an oversees electronic conversation between my husband and my children, regarding the illegitimate marriage between money and politics. They all agreed that the first offspring of this ungodly union is unlimited power and the ability to get away with murder. They were also discussing what looked like the one and only exception to this rule.

I was wondering how long will this go on when suddenly, the conversation came to an abrupt end. The reason was not an interruption in internet services, nor a dramatic change in the current business and political power balance in Egypt, but rather because  my eldest son has decided to join the conversation.

He had the last word when in his signature concise and sarcastic manner, he wrote:

"Moral of the story for wealthy businessmen/politicians in our beloved country is: 
Only commit crimes within Egypt's international borders."

Friday, October 8, 2010

Both Right and Left Handed

Bouthaina Shaaban holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of Warwick and has served as the first Minister of Expatriates in the Syrian government. She is currently the political and media adviser to President Bashar al-Assad and has been described as the Syrian "regime's face to the outside world.

Shabaan's book Both Right and Left Handed: Arab Women Talk About Their Lives, published in 1988, is based on interviews with Lebanese, Syrian, Palestinian, and Algerian women expressing a wide range of opinions on the Arab traditions and mores and how they shape their lives and control their roles as daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, professionals, activists, and even guerrilla fighters, in the Arab society.

Neither a surprise nor a secret, yet it was still heart breaking to read about the dire conditions of Arab women regardless of the social or economic backgrounds they come from. But the most depressing fact repeated by the women interviewed was that - even as early as the 80s of last century - it was clear to them that the social gains won by women in the 50s and the 60s are systematically lost to the wave of Superficial Islam that is sweeping the Arab World.

By the time I reached page 221 and seeing that there were only a few pages left, I had given up any hope of finding a single Arab society where women were treated with the respect and appreciation they deserve. So I was happily surprised when the exception to the rule came from the least likely location in the Arab World.

The light at the end of the tunnel came from the reddish Sahara of southern Algeria. Shaaban explains: "As a woman I found in Al Tuareg society a unique type of women's emancipation which derives its mores and logic directly from the same historical source as all Arab countries' laws, namely the Koran and the sayings of Prophet Mohamed."

I suggest that Arab women read this book to find out why most of them should be extremely envious of the Tuareg women. I also recommend that all women whose fathers, brothers, husbands, or sons are typical male chauvinists spend any money they can spare on one-way tickets for those men to spend a year in Tigmar, Dirhinanen, or Askaram living among and learning the customs and traditions of the Tuareg tribe.

Return tickets will only be granted to the men who, at the end of the year, pass a thorough an extensive exam to ensure that they have fully understood and adopted the Tuareg mores. Flunking the exam means walking home.

Monday, October 4, 2010

فقه النكد

لن أذكر إسم المدينة التي جرت فيها الأحداث التالية، مش خوف، لكن مجرد جبن اللى هو سيد الأخلاق في بلادنا.  لأ بجد مش مهم المكان خالص، لأن اللي حصل يتكرر بشكل أو أخر في كل بلد عربي، وفي الغالب في كل بلد إسلامي كمان.ء

كنا في أجازة قصيرة مع أصدقاء، وكنا قد قررنا أن نقضي اليوم على شاطئ البحر. ولأننا كنا في نهار يوم الجمعة، أقترح زوجي أن نتوقف بالمسجد الكبير بالمدينة ليصلي الجمعة هو وأبني صديقتي اللذان لا يتجاوز عمرهما السبع سنوات.ء

وفعلآ نزلوا هم عند مدخل الجامع وإنطلقنا أنا و صديقتي بالسيارة لنجلس في مكان قريب حتى إنتهاء الصلاة. كانت صديقتي سعيدة لأن الولدان لم يبديا أي أعتراض على تأجيل الذهاب إلى البحر بل على العكس، كانا فرحين بالذهاب إلى الجامع لأداء صلاة الجمعة.ء

لحد هنا والقصة تنفع فيلم عائلي نهايتة سعيدة.ء
ماتستعجلوش. دلوقت حيقلب فيلم رعب.ء

وإحنا في وسط حديث شيق، فجأة إتنفضت صديقتي في مكانها، وفتحت شنطتها لتفحص تليفونها الجوال. وفعلآ لقيناه علي سيلنت ووجدنا ميسد كولز من زوجي ورسالة تطلب منا العودة إليهم فورآ. طبعآ مافيش تفسير للي حصل إلا إن قلب الأم دليلها. طب ما جوزي معاهم، أمال أنا مانطيتش وماتفزعتش ليه؟دة طبعاً لإن مافيش حاجة إسمها قلب الزوجة!!ء
 المهم، لقيناهم قاعدين قدام الجامع على الرصيف زي الغلابة.ء

ماصليتوش ليه ياشباب؟
علشان فيه واحد واقف على باب الجامع - مركزه الوظيفي غير محدد - رفض إنه يسمح لأحد الولدين بالدخول.ء
ليه؟ لأن الشورت اللي لابسه مش مغطي إلا نصف ركبته.ء
 ياسلام!! طب ماأخوه لابس نفس الشورت.ء
يمكن علشان .............................ء
ولا علشان................................ء
 لأ جائز ....................................ء
بااااااااااااااااااااااااس، أرجوكم ماتحاولوش تلاقوا تفسير منطقي لتصرف غير منطقي.ء
عندك حق.ء

للأسف التفسيرالوحيد لتصرف حارس الجامع - اللى فاكر نفسه حارس الإسلام - هو ما كان يطلق علية فرج فودة (ألله يرحمه) فقه النكد

 أعاننا ألله وأعان أبنائنا وأطفالنا على التمسك بصحيح ديننا السمح السهل الجميل في هذا الجو الخانق من الغلظة والتشدد والجهل.ء

Friday, October 1, 2010

Oh Man!!

By the end of my second visit to the Sultanate of Oman, I decided to officially change its name to the Sultanate of Oh Man!! (exclamation marks included).

Oh Man!! earned its new name not only because I enjoyed visiting a dear friend who recently moved there, but also because of its natural beauty - which needs a more poetic writer than moi to do it justice - its impressive cleanliness, its homogeneous white  buildings, and the friendly nature of its people.  On two different occasions, and when we asked for directions, instead of the familiar Egyptian di wasfa sahla di wasfa hayla which translates into I have no idea but I will still tell you how to get there, the Oh Manis!! literally escorted us to our destination.

Not impressed? How about if I added that the second Oh Mani!! was originally driving in the opposite direction and he turned around and drove away from his destination to show us the way? 

Only half impressed?  What if you find out that, making a U-turn was no easy task since we were on a narrow mountain road?

Now you might be thinking that this is too good to be true, and that we are too naive or even stupid to trust someone who literally goes out of his way to help two lost tourists.

I fully agree, and I am typically suspicious and  scared of my shadow (as we say in Egypt) but on this occasion I was calm and had full trust in our Oh Mani!! guide Why? Because of what happened on our first visit. 

After asking the concierge of our hotel for directions to the famous al-Bustan Hotel, my hubby drove the rented car to the intersection just outside the hotel premises, and then he asked me whether to turn right or left?
"I don't know. You asked the concierge. YOU are the one driving."
"Exactly, I am the one doing all the driving, so YOU should have paid attention to be able to give me directions."
"Then why didn't you say so earlier?

I will spare you the marital dispute and just say that too embarrassed to go back and ask the same guy for directions again, my hubby parked the car and approached a number of young men playing football in a nearby field. Instead of returning with directions, he came back with the Goalie!! He had asked him  to come give ME the directions, I guess so that if we are lost, I would be the one to blame.

Mr. Goalie started giving me directions, then he stopped in the middle of a sentence, asked my hubby to wait, went and talked to his friends in a language I could not recognize, and then came back with another player and asked us to follow his car. He had decided to take us there. My hubby tried to dissuade him from leaving the game, reminding him that his heroic efforts are needed to defend the den of his team, but Mr. Goalie insisted.

We followed him through valleys and mountains, populated areas and deserted ones. That was fine while we could see our surroundings aided by the last light before sunset. But when it became pitch dark, I started panicking.

After following them for over twenty minutes, I couldn't believe that our destination was so far away from where we started our journey, and the fact that Mr. Goalie asked a friend to accompany him, and remembering that they spoke in a strange language (I later I found out that it is called Balushi) was enough evidence that we have been abducted. So I started pleading with hubby to turn around to try to lose our kidnappers. But as usual, he never listens.

Since no matter how hard I try, I can't remember any other indecent  when I was wrong and  hubby was right, you can imagine how happily surprised I was when a few minutes later we arrived safely at al-Boustan. Unfortunately, Mr Goalie and Mr. Left-Back did not wave and leave as I was hoping they would, no they had to rub it in. They walked up to us to bid us farewell and apologized for not being able to come in with us to buy us dinner or to have a conversation over a cup of tea cause they were still in their football shorts and cleats.

We thanked them for their kindness, and walked towards the hotel lobby.  As hubby was basking in his one and only, once in a lifetime, good judgment triumph, we heard them running after us. My wicked soul wished they would say or do anything nasty, so I can later brag: "See, I was right after all!!" But instead, Mr. Goalie informed us that he remembered that he has a cousin who works at al-Boustan, and that he called him and found him on duty. So guess what?  This cousin was coming to meet us at the main entrance to show us around, and to escort us to the Hotel's best restaurant.

As I was looking around waiting for the crew of "Candid Camera" to come out of hiding, cause there was no way those guys were for real, Mr. Goalie gave hubby his card so that we can call him if we needed him to return in a few hours to escort us back to our hotel!!!  Oh-Man!! Oh-Man!! Oh-Man!!