Ignorance Breeds Corruption

Program interruption: I was meaning to continue posting my diaries in Lebanon, but had to stop here for my country’s call. And postpone the dairies until a further notice.

We are sick and tiered of corruption in our parliament and government. This parliament that was a residue of the populous seeking their personal benefits. Their misconduct of democracy enriched some people like mushrooms growing on our reserves. And empowered some others who were practically ”no one” and now are taking control over all aspects of our lives and mishandling the reserves of our future generation.
They were nothing, we were the ones who made them, and allowed them with our ignorance to grow like cancer. It’s about time to fight the cancer before it takes over the remainder of our beloved country.
Their power handicapped women’s participation in political affairs of the country for years. And now they are fighting to keep the constituents divided to 25 areas or may be more despite the prime minister’s good intention to reduce them to five, because this is the easiest way for them to stay in power.
Some may argue that this will not stop the corruption, and I do agree. But nevertheless it would reduce the chance. It is by no mean our final goal to fight corruption, but it is one step toward the right direction.

Please show your patriotism and join in the campaign that was initiated by the blogging community and led by Shabab Sa7at Elsafat

Click here

Complaining alone will not get us anywhere; we have to make a move now, or else…..go figure.

Four Days of Adventure in Beirut (II)

A continuation
Friday, April 14, 2006

I awoke this morning with angelic sounds coming from the nearby church of Mirti2lah (Hazmiya), it sounded like an old recording of Fairooze (the leading female singer of Lebanon), but the music sounded live. What a nice way to detoxify the still banging noise in my head from the night before. The alternating voice with chorus worked as magic; it tranquilized me as if a soft lullaby and tempted me to stay longer in bed and meditate. It also made me feel for the first time that I was in Lebanon. Fairooze, the mountains and Lebanon to me signify one being, one entity that has its own special flavor. I learned later that the singer’s name is Jumana Mdawar, and made a mental note to get her CD from virgin.

Today is the Sad Friday. In the US they call it the Good Friday and in Spain and Canada (as far as I know) the Holy Friday. In any case; to me it’s a true relaxing Friday where my meditation started rather early and unexpectedly.

After lingering in bed and meditating for few hours, I had brunch with my other two friends and then we took a cab to Byblos (Jbeil) where we met our Canadian friend Jack. The weather was warm and nice for tanning and wandering around history. Most of the small gift shops were closed and the same church chorus I was listening to this morning was playing in its vicinity as if accompanying me wherever I go. Yellow seas of tiny daisy colonies interrupted by protruding bright red Amapolas* carpeted the area around the ruins.

We entered the museum that was preserved by the Cubic province of Canada, and on one of its open roof tops Magi and I could not resist the tranquil feeling of the place where the eye sight extended for miles ahead, portraying the panoramic view of Beirut atop one of the oldest sucsesive civilizations. The nice music in the background added beauty to our sensations. We found a shaded area and started meditating. Elegance and Jack lingered behind in the museum to discover more history. Jack spotted us as he climbed to a higher roof. And facing us, he took a nice picture of us in deep meditation.

Only twenty minutes passed and the nearby mosque started its Friday preaching (khu6bah) and the coarse voice of the Imam, shouting in the microphone disturbed our peace and tranquility, I urged Maggi to ignore it and just keep her mental elevation. But a family of may be twelve members kept coming back and forth to where we were sitting, their children’s mocking distracted us that we could not continue, so we decided to stop what we were doing and go fetch our friends.

We left the museum and strolled some more around the ruins, by then the old gift and artisan shops were open, so we strolled some more through the old snaked alleys of the old sooque until we felt the Pangs of hunger.

Then atop the almost 6000 bc old ruins at Abi Chmou, Lighthouse Motel and Restaurant we decided to have a snack. The owner greeted us warmly and hospitalized us to some special Easter dishes on the house, he also invited us to a party at the same place at night where a program of Lebanese Debki was supposed to take place, but we had to turn his invitation down since we already had other plans. We had nice Lebanese meza with Almaza (believe me I can go on this diet for months and never get tiered of it). The waiter; Abo George, an adorable older man in his seventies fell in love with our green eyed Magi and he also love Elegance’s dark skin and tall elegant body that he asked her hand for marrige to his son.

We then hailed a taxi back to the flat; the taxi driver had a tape playing in the car that at first I thought was a recording of the regular khutbat eljim3a because of the shouting and ordering style of the Imam, we soon realized that it was a Christian sermon. It did not differ much than that of the fear inducing Moslem diction. And we girls started a conversation about the art of preaching and how religious clerics lacked it. The purpose of the preaching is to grab the hearts and direct them using passion and logic, but unfortunately; this style which is seemingly prevailing around Arab countries is pushing the mass away from religion.

At night we met our friend Jack with another local (Allen) for dinner at Solidere’s Scoozi restaurant. Another Kuwaiti friend also joined us for an after dinner chat. I shared sushi and warm sake with Allen while the rest had pasta. I really don’t know if the sushi was all that great or was it the combination of weather, sake, and the company that gave it that special taste. All I know is that it was the best sushi I ever had.

Then we strolled along to the nearby Buddha Bar for a cozy atmosphere and a couple of drinks. I tried their special drink “Spicy Chocolate Martini” which was a bit sweet for my taste but was not bad at all. The place was not much impressive; it lacked Buddha Bar Music. The music that gave this place its fame. The decor also did not match that of Paris and Dubai. But the young men inside weren’t bad at all 😉

Then we were off to Monot. But to our surprise; Allen drove us right to Shah and left the car for valet parking. We girls glanced each other with a “no way” look. This time we weren’t going to waste our time, so we stayed for a drink as a courtesy to our friends, and then said our goodbyes and split to the nearby Crystal night club.

Crystal was packed; there was nowhere to sit, not even a chair or a table on which to place our bags. And as we were scanning around with our eyes to find a space, the music almost stopped and the DJ shouted through the speakers: “Viva Espania”. A roar of “hola’s” rose from the table we were standing by. We looked behind and in no time my tow Spanish friends got acquainted with a group of almost eight Spaniards. They offered us their seats, not to sit on them, but to stand and dance with them. Totally crazy people; good crazy that is. We had such a great time as if we’ve known them for years. People were dancing all over the tables and seats. And music was just fantastic.

*Shaqaeq al-Nu’man is the name in Arabic I believe
To be continued

Four Days of Adventure in Beirut (I)

As usual when I’m on vacation I try to write my diaries, of which some I post and some I keep to myself. This time I decided to post, so if you do not like diaries especially the spicy ones, then refrain from reading right here and just enjoy the sceneries in the pictures I posted of Al Jumaiza, because these posts I write as a memoir to myself.
Thursday, April13, 2006

Today was a busy day; Elegance, Maggi and I arrived around two PM at Alhareeri Airport and went directly to my friend’s apartment, changed and hit the road to get some fresh air. Had a snack in Qahwat Qzaz ( ahwit Azaz in Lebanese slang); one of the oldest coffee shops in Al Jumaiza (Ashrafiah), and then we walked for about an hour through the oldest streets and alleys of Beirut. The weather was cool and the sun was shining bright on our bare shoulders. A perfect chance to get that special radiant tan, and to prepare our skin gradually for the harsh summer sun.

For dinner we met some local friends and they took us to an Armenian restaurant called Manoging (Ashrafiah) (I think this is the correct spelling, if not; please correct me). The construction and decoration of the restaurant grabbed my attention the minute I entered the restaurant. Rooms leading into each other through arched doors and forming semi-private quarters and corners. We were ushered to a quarter where a table stood by a window overlooking other tables situated in the open area of the restaurant, but on a half story, lower floor level. An architecture that added a subtle feeling of having the required privacy in public. Artisan chandeliers of different sizes and colors, extended from the middle of carved circular grooves in the ceiling, and from the center of the arch decorating the outline of each window. Each light shadow enhancing the other by breaking the monotonous pattern reflected on the walls, and creating their unique silhouette against the colorful lights of the background. Traditional tiled floors of earthy colors blended with shades of royal red carpets extending in and out of each arched opening. The walls were of natural, randomly broken concrete bricks with yellow paste added serenity to the place and gave the sense of hospitable homey surrounding, and I immediately felt relaxed.
The food was simply delicious. We were six people and every dish came in six small portions. I asked if this was their Easter specialty and the answer was no, this was their tradition round the year. Too bad I could not remember the names of the dishes I had, but every dish was yummy.

After dinner our friends took us to Rue Monot (Ashrafieh); an area filled with pubs and night clubs. We wanted to check out as many clubs as we could and so decided to have only one drink in each. Our plan did not work because the second bar we went to was Shah. And apparently it was the favorite on our local friends’ list, they seemed enjoying the live Arabic music and so we stayed. The place was packed and jumping with adults of all ages. A whole family; the father, the mother and their two daughters were dancing up and down the table beside us. Actually it would have been perfect if it wasn’t for the stereotype, overworn style songs like ya bint elsutan and so on. The singer’s voice was too loud in the microphone and way too annoying, we decided to leave early with a sense of guilt toward our friends, but knowing that they’d have to wake up early for work the next day, we convinced ourselves that we did them a favor. The banging on the head stayed with us all night. But we knew that we girls had to do our own exploring from then on, after all we only had three more days in Beirut and we weren’t going to waste them.

To be continued…

Political Islam

When my daughter first learned to write her full name she wrote her first name then mine then her father’s as her official full name on school math test paper. The teacher noticed that while she was passing to check the names. And asked her to change it, but she refused saying innocently that she was the daughter of AyyA as well as her father’s and that she loved me more than she did her father, and that’s why she placed my name after hers. If you know my daughter; you’d know what stubbornness I had to deal with especially at that young age ( she was considered a slow learner). She refused to write her name the traditional way and her teacher got a blank paper from her, with only her name on it; her way. This annoyed the school and they contacted me for an explanation. It took me a long time to convince her that this is not the way it’s done. And that love had nothing to do with it. This conversation took us to women suppression in our society, off course at her innocent level. She asked questions that I could not answer. One of the questions I remember was; why do women have children if they can’t carry their names? It was a very challenging situation especially that I wanted to be honest with her and at the same time had to beat around the bush for lame excuses that did not convince me, let alone her. Off course she forgot about it as time passed.
The other day I read what Dala3 Elmofti wrote in Alqabas about this subject and remembered this incident that happened with my daughter. And I came to one conclusion; children think more logically than adults. It is we and our stereotype teachings that suppress their logical thinking, and this was just another example.
Practically speaking and away from women’s lib; in a country like Kuwait where almost all Mohammads have to name one of their sons Jasem as a tradition. And Jasems name theirs Mohammad. How many Jasems and Mohammads we have in the gulf as a whole? Almost every other three houses (that’s my estimate), and so names like Mohammad Jasem Mohammad Jasem( you may start the name with Jasem) is very common. And accordingly you can measure other typical, widely used trailing names.
Similarities in names is becoming inevitable, a lot of people have been held at the borders for having suspicious names ( similar to some wanted by law), and this was causing a lot of discomfort and embarrassment to some, that’s why the Interior ministry had to include mother’s names in their computer systems to verify identity. It would be less headache if mother’s name is included in the official name, wouldn’t you think? So what’s the big deal with the name? And why can’t a person choose his official name as he wants? Who said mother’s name should die with time?

Atorabi(click the link) wa ma adraka ma Torabi
In one of my older posts I wrote a topic about 7ijab and challenged others to bring me any proof that it’s mandatory in Islam the way it is worn today. Off course a lot of people discarded my opinion because they consider me a secular who does not understand anything about religion although none submitted any proof. Well never mind; can anyone one discard Altorabi’s declaration? Now here is a prominent Islamist who said it loud and clear ( as fatwa). And off course all Islamists kept a low profile and did not comments on his radical declarations ( khamooooosh). That goes to tell you one thing; they all know the truth, yet the truth is not beneficial for them to be declared. They prefer fooling people; especially women who easily swallow the bait. Wake up; it’s a struggle for a political identity and you are only being used.
Another thing that caught my attention in Altorabi’s fatwa is the marriage of a Moslem woman to a non-Moslam man. I have not seen or read anything forbidding it in Islam. And as per our sharee3a; a Moslem man can marry a non-Moslam woman, but if she did not convert, and the marriage, for some reason, did not survive, she has no right of inheritance and she loses the custody of her children. In other words; she is forced to convert in an indirect way. Where does religion stand in all this? Wake up; THEY ARE FOOLING YOU.
He also mentioned that Islam does not consider alcohol consumption a felony that should be punished by law. D&G (as young and innocent as she is) wrote about this subject and was practically slandered. I ask those who opposed her to answer Altorabi; yallah, hatha elmaidan…..
Alturabi; two thumps up to you

Consider this post khu6bat eljum3a…. LOL

PS; I know I promised to post my diaries in Lebanon, but too much going on and occupying my mind. The post is ready since I wrote it when I was there, but have to do some proof reading and will post soon inshallah.

Bits and Pieces

As long as there is a demand, this will continue. You can’t enforce banning of Alcohol, people would rely more on drugs which is far more dangerous than controlled Alcohol. Use logic for a change.

Kalimatik dorrar , but where is the listening ear?

Ya 7asratna

The way the government and the parliament handling eldawa2r elintikhabiya sounds like a good subject for Abdel7sain Abdelridah’s next masra7iya. Where Abdel7sain has to only change his hat (or guitra) and seat; mara 7okoomi wi mara mostagil. El7aseelah? Nothing would change.
Guys; they are playing you. So don’t get your hopes high, just enjoy the play.

Mabrook liga2mat elta6weer, wi hard luck ya ashwaq. Next time have a back up.

So what else is new ? If you had a chance to make another ka3ba, you would have built another one to segregate men and women. Wi yama ne3eesh wi nishoof.

I guess this is enough politics for one day, let’s change the mood:

A poem by anonymous:

Last Comment

Once upon a time I was a virgin
My cheeks reddened with a slightest compliment
At nights I revised each word of my days
A simple flirt stayed with me for months
I was totally obedient to your preaching
I was as innocent and believing as innocence can be
But not today
No you can’t fool me today
I’m not a virgin anymore

Got to get away, leaving for Beirut tomorrow. Tewasooni 3ala shay?
Take care; love you all

Photography/ Animal Kingdom and More

Ms. “K”; my baby getting ready for shower

Mr.”B”; the baby I baby-sit sometimes

Strawberry fields forever

Ya gazalin bil falla

3aaaaib, not in public


Mr. “F”; my other baby, trying to get my attention

Mr. “T”; a frequent guest

Please release me let me go

Flamingo Road

Under Da Sea

AlBagli Democracy

Ali AlBagli wrote in AlGabas today that we “the Arab countries” do not deserve democracy. And he gave examples of what had happened in Iraq and Egypt. And I add here Palestine. I would have to disagree with him on the bases that we do not deserve democracy although I know he said that out of desperation and that was his sarcastic way to let out. Democracy is our only way to survive. Yet democracy needs its prerequisites. It can’t be applied to a nation or nations which do not believe in human rights. Islam and human rights do not go hand in hand. Applying democracy in Moslem countries is wrong so long religion is a part of its legislation. Religion has to be separated completely from state and citizens should be fully educated and aware of their basic rights. The populous especially women have to change their preprogrammed mentalities of being justified by an unjust ideology and then you can apply democracy. That’s why democracy had succeeded in Japan and other dictatorial countries in a significant time frame and it will never succeed in Moslem countries no matter how long it is practiced.

FGM( Female Genital Mutilation)

Jandeef Khaan posted sometimes back on Sa7at Alsafat about FGM, and indecently I was reading “Why I Am Not a Moslem” by Ibm Warraq about the same issue which he covered well in two chapters of his book. Here is a definition of FGM by Toni Nelson”Euphemistically referred to as female circumcision, FGM encompasses a variety of practices ranging from excision, the partial or total removal of the clitoris and labia minora, to infibulation, in which all the external genitals are cut away and the area is restitched, leaving only a small opening for the passage of urine and menstrual blood. Nagla’s mutilation, performed by a local barber without anesthesia or sanitary precautions, was typical. Although the physical and psychological consequences of FGM are severe and often life-threatening, the practice persists due to beliefs that emerged from ancient tribal customs but which have now come to be associated with certain major religions.”1

Excision; notice the word ex-cision, it sounds like ex ing femininity, rendering a woman a cold statue to please her male companion and be the incubator for his offspring. Imagine yourself (male or female) getting excited by foreplay and the hormones in your body shoot up high, then no matter how much you try to release the pressure inside you can’t, because there will be no orgasm. Wouldn’t you have preferred to be dead and not get into this frustrating situation? That’s why I think the word ex cision is a better definition than female circumcision or FGM, it implies deforming God’s creation and causing a permanent handicap to women. Excising does not remove desire in women, God created that desire for a purpose, Excising prevents her to fulfill her building desires. In other words; eliminate her, delete her. Quoting Ibn Warraq “”Anatomy is destiny,” says Freud, in which case a mutilated anatomy is a mutilated destiny” 2

Ibn Warraq goes on to describe the act “According to the omniscient Burton, 586 “in the babe [the clitoris] protrudes beyond the labia and snipping off the head forms female circumcision.” “Excision,” continues Burton, is universal amongst the negroids of the Upper Nile, the Somal and other adjacent tribes. The operator, an old woman, takes up the instrument, a knife or razor blade fixed into a wooden handle, and with three sweeps cuts off the labia and the head of the clitoris. The parts are then sewn up with a packneedle and a thread of sheepskin; and in Dar-For a tin tube is inserted for the passage of urine. Before marriage the bridegroom trains himself for a month on beef, honey and milk; and if he can open his bride with the natural weapon he is a sworder to whom no woman in the tribe can deny herself. If he fails, he tries penetration with his fingers and by way of last resort whips out his whittle and cuts the parts open. The sufferings of the first few nights must be severe.” 2

But the damage of excision is not only psychological, it is also physical as Ibn Warraq emphasized “In modern times little seems to have changed; here is how the Economist describes the situation in 1992: “The procedure varies from mildly painful to gruesome, and can involve the removal of the clitoris and other organs with knives, broken glass, and razors—but rarely anesthetic. It can lead to severe problems with menstruation, intercourse and childbirth, psychological disturbances and even death.” In this gruesome act of “disbudding” of the female are embodied all the Muslim males’ fears of female sexuality.” 2

And although excision is an ancient custom to which some stories go back to Greeks, pharos, Jewish and christens, we see it still widely spread amongst Moslems although it’s kept discrete. Why is that? I tried to search for the basis or the religious references on which this barbaric act is committed since Ibn Warraq only mentioned that “female excision is not mentioned in the Koran and learned doctors of theology, when they deign to address the matter, spend very little time on it, simply recommending it as a pious act.” 2, and I only found one tradition that addresses this issue:
”Sunan Abu Dawud Book 41, Number 5251: Narrated Umm Atiyyah al-Ansariyyah: A woman used to perform circumcision in Medina. The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said to her: Do not cut severely as that is better for a woman and more desirable for a husband.”
This tradition or 7adeath some sects claim is not based on reliable sources, in other words not authentic (gair masnood)and that’s why not all Moslems are obliged to perform excision. But regardless of that; I don’t see that this 7adeath explicitly requires this practice. But that does not exclude the fact that a lot of Moslems perform this custom as Sunna and that every year millions of little, helpless girls are being butchered.

And what is really disturbing is the fact that excision is not only spread amongst ignorant and laymen, but also very much in literate surroundings (check Sa7at Elsafat link above). And unlike male circumcision, excision is done very discreetly, and in some tribes more than once in a woman’s life time according to Deborah Balk “According to the DHS data, in Sudan, 13 percent of women have had a sunna “circumcision, ” 73 percent have had a pharaonic (also called, Sudanese) “circumcision, ” and 2 percent have had matwasat—literally meaning intermediate—“circumcisions” (DHS 1991). Girls are usually (initially) “circumcised” somewhere between the ages of four and eleven (e.g., El Dareer 1982; Hicks 1993), although the range spans from shortly after birth until puberty, at least in northeastern Africa. According to two prior surveys in Sudan, the mean age of “circumcision” is about 6.5 years, or between six and eight years (Ministry of Planning 1979; El Dareer 1982; respectively). The simpler forms of “circumcision,” such as the sunna type, typically occur only once in a woman’s lifetime, but women who are once infibulated need to be de-infibulated for childbirth and often for sexual intercourse before that; and many are then restitched after giving birth. Some women who are excised may also need to be de-infibulated, either at marriage or childbirth because their remaining labia have fused together, producing a closure similar to an infibulation (e.g., Agugua and Egwuatu 1982; Hosken 1982; Widstrand 1964). Reinfibulation also occurs among some women whose husbands are absent from the household for a time and among divorced and widowed women who want to remarry (e.g., El Dareer 1982; Boddy 1982; Hayes 1975; Cloudlsey 1983). Evidence” 3

And what’s more? Excision has migrated to Europe and USA with immigrants of which some still demand the right to perform it according to their religious customs as they claim although the law of the those states forbids it, here is a quote by Linda Burstyn “Today, migrants are bringing FGM out of its traditional societies and into Europe, North America, and Australia. Approximately 2 million girls are at risk each year… As more and more immigrants from countries that practice FGM come to make their homes in Western countries, these countries are facing the task of confronting a custom that is rigidly adhered to and yet taboo to discuss. The United States has not given FGM the attention or the illegal status that many other nations have given it. The United Kingdom has a full-fledged and longstanding anti-FGM movement that involves the country’s social-service agencies. France, Canada, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, and Belgium all have outlawed the practice. The first attempt to prohibit FGM here died in the previous Congress. However, the legislation has been reintroduced by its original co-sponsors, Representatives Pat Schroeder, of Colorado, and Barbara-Rose Collins, of Michigan. Senator Harry Reid has proposed similar legislation in the Senate. Three states, New York, Minnesota, and North Dakota, have passed laws making the practice of FGM a felony unless it is medically necessary.” 4
But even with passing such laws western countries find it very difficult to apply it on Moslem immigrants as Ibn Waraq emphasized “ In an article in the British daily, the Independent 7 July 1992, we read that: “Local authorities and social workers have turned a ‘blind eye’ to the genital mutilation of young girls among African and other Third World communities in Britain for fear of being labeled racist,” even though genital mutilation was made illegal in 1985. The article goes on to say, “Social and health service staff are also ‘nervous’ about preventing or reporting mutilation as they feel it conflicts with anti-racist policies. ‘There continues to be confusion as to what is legitimate in culture, which should be respected, and what is human rights abuse.’ 2

Sometimes back I read an article in the newspapers stating that unlike other immigrants, Moslem immigrants were not being treated fairly by immigration offices in the West, they claim that they are obliged to answer questions and make declarations to obey the rules of the state which they sought to be an act of racism, and after researching FGM which is one of the points discussed by immigration offices, I tend to understand the preventive measures the West is taking specifically with Moslem immigrants. Barbaric customs regardless of any connection to religions have to stop. And it is a shame that the ones who are defending Moslem women’s rights are not Moslems.

ارحموا من في الارض يرحمكم من في السماء

1 Toni Nelson, “Violence against Women,” World Watch July-Aug. 1996

2 Ibn Warraq, Why I Am Not a Muslim (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1995)

3 Deborah Balk, “3 To Marry and Bear Children? the Demographic Consequences of Infibulation in Sudan,” Female “Circumcision” in Africa: Culture, Controversy, and Change, ed. Bettina Shell-Duncan and Ylva Hernlund (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2000) 56

4 Linda Burstyn, “Female Circumcision Comes to America,” The Atlantic Monthly Oct. 1995