Mona Eltahawy keeps making me like her…

Looking at the state of Libya and Syria today, post-Arab Spring, do you ever wonder if this was worth it?

No. I often compare Egypt to a house in which every window and door has been closed shut for the past 60 to 65 years. The revolution basically opened a window in that house. And you can imagine the stench that comes out after all those years. It’s horrible, and your first instinct is to close it because it stinks. But the only way to get the smell out is to continue to open all the windows.

via

Mona Eltahawy Doesn’t Need to Be Rescued – NYTimes.com.

Prison-Protest

Still… let’s be fair!

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/book-reviews/why-mona-eltahawys-provocative-new-book-headscarves-and-hymens-falls-short-in-its-goal-to-change-the-arab-world/article24009841/

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A movie to remember why people dies crossing the Mediterranean to reach places where they’re not welcome…

This road movie portrays the perilous journey of well-known intellectual Yassin al-Haj Saleh and young photographer Ziad Homsi through Syria, at a time when the country edges towards the brink.

Yassin (53), who spent 16 years in prison for belonging to the Syrian left, goes underground in 2011 to serve Syria’s popular uprising, while Ziad (24) – occasionally fighting with the rebels – takes photographs in his hometown Douma. In this Damascene suburb – where Yassin and his wife Samira Khalil found shelter – the two men meet and become friends.

Together, they embark on an adventurous journey through the desert to al-Haj Saleh’s native town Raqqa in Northeast Syria. Upon their arrival, Raqqa is occupied by the “Islamic State in Iraq and Levant” (ISIS), which also kidnapped two brothers of Yassin.

Consequently, the thinker leaves for Istanbul to pursue his writing for the revolution, hoping for a reunion with his wife Samira who remained in Douma. Ziad – abducted by ISIS on his way back – rejoins Yassin after his release, hoping to return home soon. All hopes are shattered when Samira gets abducted jointly with human rights lawyer Razan Zeitouneh.

And the film ends while Syria tumbles into a yawning abyss.

via

Our Terrible Country | Doc Alliance Films: Your online documentary cinema.

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This movie is full of pearls of knowledge and wisdom, all of them learnt sourly during these years of hell for Syria.

The most important of all…. Syrians’ main enemy is not Assad, it’s not Daesh… it’s no one from outside.

Their most terrible enemy is deeply rooted inside them.

And it will be like this for generations. 

Syria… anymore? (Because of us… because of them)

But it isn’t only the international community and Assad who are to blame. The Syrians themselves have failed as well, at least their leaders and representatives. They all have pushed themselves deeper into a bloody conflict, which, thanks to goings on in Iraq and meddling on the part of Gulf states, Ankara and Tehran, has now become so very sectarian that it’s no longer imaginable that Syrians will ever again work together as a united people.

Up until four years ago, Syria was a fascinating country with a diverse culture, governed by a brutal dictatorship. But this country no longer exists. Syrians themselves have, with the help of foreign allies, destroyed it and allowed the creation of an atmosphere of hate, death and violence in which their children will have to grow up for years to come. As the rest of the world looks on.

via

Opinion: Everyone has failed Syria

 DW.DE

 15.03.2015.

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As the old Spanish saying states…

“Entre todos la mataron y ella sola se murió”*. 

(*) They killed her all together and then she died all alone.

See, quite a rare bird: a Muslim Critic

It is my thesis that most of the problems of the Muslim world boil down to lack of criticism, self-criticism, which also means lack of imagination and creativity. And if we are to change things for the better, first of all we have to critically engage with the world. Even before we do that, we have to appreciate that we live in a diverse and pluralistic world, with different notions of truth. That means we have to learn to appreciate other notions of truth and look at them with respect and dignity, and realise that our claim — that we have the monopoly over sole truth — looks quite absurd to others.

At the same time, we have to look critically at ourselves, our worldview. A great deal of what we believe in is manufactured dogma. A lot of this was manufactured in history but sometimes in front of our eyes and justified with all sorts of Ahadees which have no basis in authenticity or our history. So criticism is essential. Critical Muslim is essentially about looking at Islam, Muslims and the world critically. We critique everything — the West, the Muslim societies, culture, science and technology. We believe that without thorough criticism, we cannot reach a true understanding of life and do something positive to change our societies.

via

“Much of what we believe in is manufactured dogma”

 TNS – The News on Sunday.

CM cover1 Jan-Mar2012.indd

Rest in Peace, all those dreamers in Middle East… and stand up in peace, all those still to come.

A few days before her assassination, Shaima tweeted: “Living in this country has become painful and cold…I hope that its soil is vaster… and the bosom of its ground broader than its sky.”
The Ministry of Interior acquitted itself, as it does often, saying that professional elements infiltrated the march and killed Shaima. According to the autopsy report and eyewitnesses who were standing next to Shaima, a soldier fired a barrage of shotgun shells at her from a distance of eight meters. The authorities hate the voices of the January youths, who say that “the Interior Ministry are thugs.”

Sabbagh fell in Talaat Harb Square. She was with her leftist comrades from the Socialist People’s Alliance Party (SPAP). They were walking peacefully toward Tahrir Square, singing and chanting: “Living – freedom – social justice.”

None of the goals of the January 25 Revolution have been achieved. They were consumed and digested by the old dictators.

Even carrying flowers on the anniversary of those who passed away in Tahrir Square in 2011 is forbidden to Shaima and her companions, disappointed with the comments of passersby, who watched and said critically: “Enough revolution and destruction, shame on you.”

In Egypt, Tyrants Fear Roses and Songs:

A Eulogy for Shamia Sabbagh 

Al Akhbar English.

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Let’s not forget as well, that only a day before, Egyptian student Sondos Abu Bakr was killed, in a nearly identical manner to Shaimaa, after security forces started shooting at a demonstration she was attending in the city of Alexandria. Sondos was only 17.

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The weapon and method used to kill both women was the same, and so were the culprits yet the coverage of both incidents could not have been more different. The killing of Sondos, once confirmed, received little to no coverage, whether on social media or on news outlets. There were no condemnations or special tributes, no major articles or investigations. I can’t help but think, had Sondos been protesting under a different (read “liberal”) banner, her death would have received more sympathy and certainly more coverage. It’s true that that the killing of Shaimaa was more well-documented than that of Sondos, and it’s also true that it took place in an area and time of great significance to the Egyptian revolution… but does that really justify the disparity in coverage?

I am not here to “compare” deaths or claim that the killing of one was more outrageous than the other. That would frankly be quite repulsive and counter-productive. I am simply trying to point out the sheer hypocrisy in our principles and stances that deem some lives more worthy of mourning than others. The fact of the matter is that the majority of people only started caring about the death of “Islamist” Sondos when it was linked to the death of “liberal” Shaimaa. Sondos was just an afterthought.

Via:

MuslimGirl.net

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Yesterday Sondos, today Shaima.

And still the world watches on #Jan25#Egypt#KilledByCops

SYRIAN LESSON FOR LIFE: Be careful about planning HOW to make your dreams come true… For they may die. Or kill you.

These activists were predominantly liberal and secular, but hailed from all social and religious backgrounds. They were united by a vision and a noble aim. They espoused the kinds of freedoms and political rights for which most Syrians yearned. The way they were marginalized and ruthlessly hunted — first by the regime and later by the extremist Islamist rebels as secular apostates and the moderates for exposing their crimes — is just one more tragedy in a seemingly endless list that has afflicted this miserable nation.

The civil activists are now a dying breed, hunted into extinction by the malice of those who view them as a threat. In Syria, that means just about anyone with a gun. Most of them are now dead, in jail or have fled the country.

via Syria’s Islamist rebels force Christian activist to wear veil

– Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East.

Hope (1)

It’s been a while since I used the tag “Arab Spring”. Too much sadness and pain and death and dellusion grew from those  sprouts growing in Tahrir, in Tunisia… then came Yemen…. and unfortunately someone decided that it was right to give islamists a chance in Libya… and in Egypt… to a point that even these idealists from Damascus, Aleppo, Tartus… soon accepted that maybe having those long beards fighting side by side would give a true meaning to the  revolt.

It would even mean a proof of the reconciliation of every side who stood up against the regime, against all totalitarian arab regimes… a chance to shut up the western mouths and tell them that arabs could work united their own way, so islamists were as respectful as any other…  and why not saying it, it would also mean to restore the memory of those thousands killed in Hama.

Like father like son, they said, and we must stop Bashar first, more than anything, because we may not have a new chance and international support. In any case, this is not Libya!… Syrians are multiethnical, respectful, convivial people, who even share temples in some places between confessions.

Yes,… the good old times, when muslims and christians could share a banquet or even a prayer in Seidnaya. 

Dreaming is dangerous, you know?

Specially when you live life pretending to make it look like a dream. Because life is not a dream. It’s real. Blood and flesh. Air and water. Sickness and joy. Hunger and hope. 

Those who pretend to live a dream must remember that dreams end up when we wake up. While nowadays in most of Syria people may feel lucky enough to die while sleeping. 

This Mossarab hates to see history repeating in Syria as it happened in Iraq:

“It is impossible for Christians to live with this armed opposition. … When I asked what they will do with them, some groups said they will force them to wear the veil. Others said they will kick them out. … I was wrong, your fears were justified. Leave this country, it’s not ours anymore.”

And yes, there are still honourable Syrian dreamers fighting the regime. It’s not only beardies doing so (the “govt sponsored” beardies, the not so bad but also not good Al-Nusra guys, or the almost good “saudi sponsored” Islamic Front boys…)… And of course, there is also the kurds I admire.

But there’s less and less of those secular visionaries left alive or inside the country.

“They’re fighting because they have honor, because they are noble men. But they see the crimes of the rebels and the extremists, and they want out. Many are afraid to leave, afraid of reprisals by the rebels or being caught by the regime. They don’t trust the regime enough to give themselves up. They think they’ll be killed.”

That sums up the dilemma of all honorable Syrians, surrounded by enemies on all fronts in a war of dishonor.

Syrian war lasts for more than 3 years now. Spain’s Civil War lasted from 1936 to 1939. After that we went thru 40 years of dictatorship.  Many left the country for exile and never came back. Half of those staying went thru repression and prosecution. Jail and humiliation…

We had to wait until a man from inside the regime and a reformist young King, dared to give shape to a new democratic Spain. That man from inside the regime was called Adolfo Suarez and became the first democratically elected Spanish Prime Minister after Franco’s death.

He passed away 3 days ago and was buried with all honours. 

While  I remembered his achievements and his visionary compromise with my nation, I could not help asking myself where was the arab Mr. Suarez. For a while I thought he was Mohammed Elbaradei. He had everything needed. Except coming from inside the old regime. And that’s why he failed to convince his people and lead the change, and “He has spent to many years outside Egypt”, was the most usual excuse to dislike him.

Then… who may be the leader of a future Syrian transition, when its best hope, its dreamers… may be facing too many years outside their country,… or death? 

I just hope someone inside Syria is watching the cherry and almond trees covered in spring flowers… and planning a dream, instead of dreaming a plan.

That’s why I used again this tag.

Because I do hope some time the flowers will give fruit. 

Egypt: From MarienBad to MarienWorst.

So now, we are hearing rhetoric that is both disturbing and frustrating, along the lines of “let the state tighten its grip over protesters, we have had enough”, and “it is time to work and stop protests, we need to eat”, and “what has protesting done so far except damage to the whole country”.

Indeed, what has protesting accomplished? So far, none of the demands of 25 January have been met. The first demand, the first spark for that revolution, was to bring an end to the interior ministry’s brutality. Reforming that institution was the first reason people took to the streets (remember Khaled Said, whose killers are acquitted?) and now the protest law requires that same institution’s blessing to allow people to take to the streets. What happens now when Egyptians decide again to rise up against the brutal ministry? Go get approval from the ministry for their route, give the ministry the names and addresses and phone numbers of the organisers? Hell, you might as well detain yourself right then and there!

But then again, this is Egypt, where no law is enforced and those who should enforce it are the first ones to break it, so no need to fret. Right now, and without any law put in place, the amazing Ministry of Interior detains anyone anytime and for charges we only saw in movies criticising Gamal Abdel Nasser’s rule. Charges like distributing “papers” calling for protests, being in possession of the yellow Rabaa sign, or having “anti-regime documents” on your computer… and this is without even having protested yet! People are being tortured, sometimes to death, in detention facilities and police stations during questioning for such ridiculous charges. No need for a law or a fine or a prison sentence; our police are taking matters in their own hands anyway, and who is to tell them not to? Who is to hold them accountable? No one did during Mubarak’s rule, nor SCAF rule, nor Morsi’s rule, and obviously not now (whoever’s rule this is!)

via The right to say NO!

 Daily News Egypt.

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And Elbaradei saw it coming… and he was right… and then he was called “traitor”. 

Ah… Misr, Misr… how much can you keep doing it wrong?

…4 days for Bassem to come back. Counting.