Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Welcome to Turkey 3, Istanbul chillin'

The conference is finished.



For the most part, the experience of the confernce was amazing, the ideas presented, the scholars, polititians and activists who spoke and presented, the sheer scale of it all, I loved being part of it, and even more I loved that was able to contribute positively, and even though I expected the cold shoulder from the organisers after my little outburst, they were actually very gracious and curteous towards me. I was actually very happy about this seemingly insignificant point because if this happened in an arab country, the organisers would have kicked me out the country for not sharing their exact values and beliefs.



The aftermath of the confernence was just as exciting, if not more exciting than the confernce itself. The organisers set up a trip around trousti areas in Istanbul such as the Hagia Sofia and the TopKapi Palace.




The Hagia Sofia

When the Ottomans took over Constantinople in (circa) 1200 C.E. The ruler at the time Mohammad II bought the church there (called Hagia Sofia, also the biggest church in eastern Christendom at the time) and converted it to a moque, and it remained a mosque untill the pig Attaturk converted it to a museum.



It was a fascinating experience to see this place, one thing you noticed straight away was how large it was, the cieling was at least 80 meters in the air, There are very large green plates on the walls with the names of the prophet (pbuh), the 4 kaliphs and the two sons of Ali (May Allah be pleased with them all).



The contrast between byzantine christian architecture and islamic verses and arts was very clear, however the dominant factor was the age of this building, the old faded red cobble stone walkways looked felt and smelled like a thousand years old.


Though to be honest, nothing came closer to the majesty of the blue mosque, but we'll get to that later.


TopKapi

In arabic it's الباب العالي, The High Gate, it's the name of a palace which used to host the ottoman ruling family.
Again the weight pulled by Milli Guruc is shown again as our tour guide takes us through the long lines and gets us free tickets to get in. we were pretty stoked at that.

The palace itself is a work of fiction, the front gate is one of the most amazing sites to behold.



One thing you notice about the history and architecture of Turkey is that it's clearly islamic, ofcourse this is because Islam was the official relegion and choice of rule for close to 800 years.

The text on this gate (which is the entry to the topkapi palace) is a verse of the Quran that says "A victory from God and a conquest, and give gladtidings to the belivers oh Mohammad".

From this angle you can see that wonderful blue mosque in the distance, but we'll get to that later.

The 2 Km walk to the actual palace is lush green park with trees and the river (I Don't know what river it is but I know it's the one that seperates Asia Turkey from Euroupe Turkey). Though the feeling you have in these places is that ONCE it belonged to a great world power but now it's the remains of a long dead old man. What fills the gardens is now dignitaries and princesses but tourists and beggars.

Once inside, we are again struck by the lavishness of these living qurters. how large they were, how intricate the smallest detail was, from the water fountain to the furniture to the doors and gates to the windows. Oh man I wish I could have been a visiting diplomat to Turkey 300 years go. From the FAMSY organisation in Australia, hahahaaha !

We saw the Topkapi museum, world famous for its artefacts from the prophet's time and beyond, but to be honest it was a dissapointment, the items placed in front of us, said to belong to the four kalifs or of prophet David etc... It's highly doubtfull. It may very well be true, but I wouldn't bet on it.

The women's quarters were the most intresting part, an enclosed minipalace on its own, decorated with rich gold and red colors, baths, budoirs, chillout rooms. it was magnificent to see, if you go there you should definitely see this place rather than anything else.

One place you should NOT GO at the this palace is the restaurant, OH MY GOD IT'S SO EXPENSIVE ! I ended up paying 60 YTL (50 Euros) for 4 pepsis, a plate of chips and four rice puddings.

I'm tired, I'll write the rest later.

Is this intersting to anyone ?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Welcome to Turkey 2, the conference

I saw a huge mosque, one of the mosques you see in posters about Islam, my heart skips a beat and I ask the person sitting next to me "Is that the infamous blue mosque ?", he smiles and says "no brother, that's just the mosque down the street".  It seems that most mosques in Istanbul are built in this grandiose fasion. so after the first three times I mistook the 'mosque down the street' to be a historic land mark, I shut up and waited for the mosque to show me itself. 

But we'll get to that later. 

I arrive at the hotel at around 8am, where I meet the organisers and the other guests from other countries, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Kyrgystan (yes, Kyrgystan is 60% Muslims). However I didn't have time to meet and greet, the counference was going to start in another half an hour. I needed to get ready, so half an hour later I was all dressed up and on the bus to the conference venue. 

As I mentioned previously that customs kept me an extra two hours, so my australian counterpart (Zayed, FAMSY president, Sydney) was panicking, emaling from Australia and fussing about in Istanbul with the organisers about find me, so whoever of the organisers sees me they'd be like "Oh brother ! the other Australian brother was looking for you ! Alhumdulillah you're here". here. 

We arrive at a place, not a university venue, not an old run down mosque, not Clayton community center. This place was a full on conference venue ! I was very impressed, this was not muslim standards. so far so good ! This place was a TV station and newspaper printery with adjacent conferencing facilities. Upon walking in you could see just how many people were involved in this, later on it was counted that almost 150 attendants from 55 countries had attended (54 countries, they counted New Zealand as a country, though I was representing Austalia). 

Notes:

Nedede means where is. 

Ne Ka da means How much ? 

Lutfun means please. 

Moving on. 

It was then made clear that the confernce was held by Saadat Party, Aka Milli Gorus, the biggest islamic movement in Turkey currently. Saadat Party is also known for winning by popular elections twice in the past 40 years and were forcibly removed by the Army ( for more info on the history of the Ottoman empire, Turkey and the pig Attaturk, have a read here  ) . 

So there guys aren't an MSA, they're not a "umbrella group", they're the real deal ! a successful contemporary islamic project ! which means what they had to say, I wanted to hear. 

Though deep down I thought alot about this, I am not an eastern muslim, I don't live in a muslim majority country, I live in Australia. so what I aim for isn't to apply the Milli Gorus model there because Australia is majority not muslim. How can I apply what I learn then ? 

More on that later. 

I have to take a moment to complement the translators for the amazing work they did, for the three days we were at the conference there were 4 languages spoken and two men translated instantly (over mikes distributed) for that whole time ! for one thing it was a testament to the unity and variety of Islam, but also these guys did marathon translation sessions mashallah. 

There were also speakers from other countries like Pakistan, Morroco's Justice and development party, the president of the imam's association of Malawi ( I think Malawi, or Ghana, I'm sure it was a subsaharan african country). 

Most of the ideas and intiatives they shared with us were amazingly insightful, after long years of the tradition of corruption and opression in Arab and Muslim countries it was refreshing to see balanced sucessful moderate minds leading the way to salvation from the black hole Muslims are in now. 

One thing that we could not ignore was the consistent attack on the west as a whole and the US specifically, I mean I do agree with some of the ideas they had of the effects of Imperialism and the foriegn policy of the US seems to blindly attack anything that has a connection with Islam, and in the process killing and causing generally alot of harm to Muslims. 

These guys however were going on about more than that, they were attacking all of the west uniformally because they (the west) were deemed to hate us (the muslims) and want only to control us and make us exactly like them. 

A couple of years ago I would have agreed with these ideas, but now I found them to be immature and a bit blind sighter, I was actually surprised to hear these ideas, what's worse is that no one seemed to have a problem with it. 

Near the end of the second day we (I and Zayed, my president) decided to bring this point to light to at least clarify where we stand, and because Zayed already did do a bit of speaking in the begining of the conference, I spoke this time. 

I was a bit nervous, thanked them and mentioned for them how important it is to have this conference and to bring together the muslim youth of the world to see these achievements. However ! 

We as Australians could not in all honesty share thier views of the west, I spoke alot about how there were many Australians were entering Islam because of their love for goodness and truth, and that even if not all of them are entering Islam, it is true that many of them support Muslims for no other reason than the fact that it was the right thing to do, how thousands of people go out rallying against thier government in support of the human rights of Muslims who they've never met in countries they've never been. This was something that the prophet pbuh illucidated himself when he mentioned صلح الفظول (The Fudhool pact) and stated that if it was called for today he was join it. I was a bit fearful of rotten tomatoes being thrown at me by the other attendants, so I was surprised when fresh applause was thrown my way. Alhumdulillah it seems I was not the only one to think like this. 

I've written enough today. 

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Welcome to Turkey

My actual entry into turkey was not getting off the plane into the Attaturk internal airport in Istanbul, it was when I got into the turkish airways plane. The airhostesses who couldn't give a +0$$ about us, the pilot who did not speak engish arabic, the recorded onboard message about the trip and they safety instructions. The freely served alcoholic beverages consumed by arabs with beards. it was interesting. I was just happy the plane didn't crash. 

The airport itself was big and clean (not the toilettes) and it was what I would have imagined a soviet era airport to look like. Maybe I should check my history. 

Coming straight out of the UAE there was one thing I could not help noticing. There were NO indians ! most of the people around were turks or iranians. I met alot of iraqis at the airport as well coming mostly from the Kurdish north for business. 

The line through to customs was loooong ! this is stressful in a third world country where if you blink 5 people push in line, with thier kids and luggae and passport problems requiring an extra 20 minutes, you had to be ready for that shit ! 

Anyways, 2 hours later my turn comes up, the hungover looking policeman looks at my dodgy passport (New Zealand passport issued in Saudi, it looks how a fake passport should). He looks at me, then at the passport, then at me, then at the passport, then he asks, is this you ? Yes it is. He shrugs his shoulders like he doesn't care if I'm a drug peddler or an international assasin, go through dodgy passport guy ! thank you, and i'm out ! 

So I'm in the aiport trying to find my minders, and while I'm waiting around my mind wanders to a few days ago....(make your imagination blurry like in movies when people recollect).

I'm checking my email, FAMSY's been invited to some sort of confernce in Turkey,  but it's a late invitation so there is no real feel to go to it. My wife's like, why don't you go ? you're still famsy right ? and you're close by ! and you get a change from the work environment here.

Naah, I think.

Next day, naaah, I think.

Third day, I send an email, I can go !

Fourth day, I book a ticket,

Few days after that, (this is where your imagination blurs back to me in the airport) I'm back in the airport. 

Understandably I'm a blur, it's 8am (I got on the plane at midnight). For the first time in my life I'm alone in a country that doesn't speak arabic or english. I know nothing about this place. What DO I know about turkey ? 

Birth place of the ottoman empire, the land where the khilafa died, Attaturk (I'll get to him later), crazy mosque architercture, dodgy sleazy turks, Erdogan and Gul, a country of history and contradiction placed on the geopolitical fault lines of Asia, Euroupe and the middle east. 

A man comes to me with his hand extended, I take his hand and confirm that yes I am abdulnasser, he speaks some arabic thank God, he's my picker upper from the conference organisers. 

The conference, yes it's the IYF, the international youth forum on cultural cooperation of the muslim youth. Held by Millî Görüş . From the little bits of information available online we were not sure about the direction or agendas of this conference, but we were keen to meet and connect with islamic youth organisations from around the world, so we went. 

The trip to the hotel was amazing, after living for almost a year in a desert country like the UAE, driving through miles of trees and gardens was therapy for my brain. The driver didn't speak english or arabic but he was still trying to describe Istanbul to be, I understood Bizance to be Byzantian, he was ofcourse pointing to the 1000 year old Byzantian wall still standing. it was amazing to see living history infront of me, this is the wall that faced Sultan Mohammad the second

During al l this, for those of you who know, you should also imagine my constantly clicking camera, living in the uae I had reached a saturation of what I could take shots of. There were environemts and objects to shoot but because I had my job routine I couldn't or was not much keen to take these shots, I had no time, when I had the time I couldn't find the energy to go out in the melting heat etc... So here the weather was amazing and the sights were all historic and almost made for my camera to capture. 

End of part 1 (it's 10 am and I have work tomorrow) . 

Ramadan Kareem

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Contraversial

Let me make myself clear, the only reason I'm putting this up is because I like the way the poet converys his ideas. I do not condone any of what's written, because I don't know so much to praise or criticise. 

وَيـحَ العَـمَـائِـم التي .... صَـارتْ عَـلـيـهِ مِـئـزرَا 


مُـنَـافِـقـونَ رَبّـكُـمْ ..... دِيْـنَـارُكُـمْ حَـيْـثُ انـبـرَى 

لـكُـمْ يَـدَان ِمِـنـهُـمـا .... دَمُ (الـحُـسَـيـن ِ) قـطـرَا 

وَاحِـدَة ٌ تـلـطـمُ وَالأخـرَى تـسـلّ ُالخِـنـجَـرَا 

وَاللهِ لـوْ أنَّ (الـحُـسَـيـنَ) جَـاءَكـمْ مُـعَـفـرَا 

وَصَـاحَ : (هَـلْ مـن نـاصِـر ٍ) ثـانـيـة ً.. لنْ يُـنصَـرَا 

ستقتلونه....... كما قتلتموه نكرا 

وَتَـرقـصُـونَ فـوقـهُ..... مَـيْـتـاً... كِـلابـاً سُـعَّـرَا 

(مـنـصـورة ٌشـيـعـتُـنـا مـنـصـورة ٌيـا حَـيـدَرَا)!! 

جَـمـيـعـكُـمْ (شِـمْـرٌ) وإنْ جَـبـيـنُـكُـمْ تَـطـبـرَا 

تُـففففٍ عَـلـيـكمْ إنـنـي ..... أتـفِـلـُهَـا مُـسْـتَـكْـثِـرَا

Friday, August 08, 2008

Random News of the day

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20462.htm

McCain the Antichrist?

By Robert Dreyfuss08/08/08 "The Nation" -- - -

Biblical scholars in Colorado Springs have uncovered startling evidence that Senator John McCain may be the Antichrist.
Their conclusions, while highly controversial, may have a dramatic impact on the 2008 elections, since many Bible-believing Christians have already expressed doubts about McCain’s fealty to Christianity.
The analysis was conducted by the respected True Bible Society, and it will be published next month in the End Times Journal.
The analysis was especially ironic, given that it came out just one day after McCain was accused of subtly hinting that Barack Obama could be the Antichrist. McCain ran a commercial depicting Obama as “The One,” giving rise to charges that he was sending a subliminal messages to anti-Obama Christians.
“What started us looking at this issue is the fact that Senator McCain has declared his intention to maintain US forces in Iraq for a hundred years,” said David Jenkins, a leading Biblical scholar. “That means that McCain wants to control Babylon for at least a century.”
According to many scholars of the Book of Revelation, the Antichrist will try to rebuild the ancient city of Babylon in order to use it as a springboard for an international effort at world domination. Ultimately, the Antichrist will marshal forces from Babylon to spark a showdown with Christian and Jewish-led forces in the battle of Armageddon.“We believe that the End Times is near, based on the pattern of wars, earthquakes. and other strange phenomena we’ve been witnessing since the start of the New Millennium,” said Jenkins. “Given that it may be imminent, the person who controls Babylon must be the Antichrist.”
Until 2003, many Christians believed that Saddam Hussein might be the Antichrist, since he started excavations to restore Babylon in the mid 1970s. But Hussein’s death meant that the Antichrist is someone else.
Since Obama wants to get out of Iraq, he can’t be the Antichrist either, concluded Jenkins.Jenkins said his teams suspicions were further heightened when genealogical research showed that McCain’s great-grandfather was actually not John McCain, but John Mihai. Mihai is an ancient Romanian name, and according to Bible-believing Christians, the Antichrist is likely to be a Romanian. “What clinched it for us was that the name Mihai means ‘who is like the Lord,’” said Jenkins. “As far as we’re concerned, that was enough. It means that McCain might easily pretend to be the Redeemer.”McCain’s geniality and folksiness are consistent with his being the Antichrist, Jenkins said.
“Many people think that the Antichrist will be a evil-seeming leader, but in fact the Bible tells us that he will be charming.”So far the McCain campaign has refused to comment on Jenkins’ study.Robert Dreyfuss, a Nation contributing editor, is an investigative journalist in Alexandria, Virginia, specializing in politics and national security. He is the author of Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam and is a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone, The American Prospect, and Mother Jones.

Copyright © 2008 The Nation

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Jedda and rap, a strange combo that works

I stumbled upon to this clip today. 

I watch the first 30 seconds and it's just a traditional Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) wedding, some guy is singing an offtune song to a happy family etc... boring, not worth my time. 

BUT ! 

the quality of the video was professional, so I mustered up some faith and kept watch, and that's when I was surprise; The groom breaks into a mix of arabic and english rap. 

Many have tried and failed at this english/arabic rapping mix, they sound too tryhard, thier english is horrendous etc... but this was quite good ! The overlapping mix of arabic (Saudi) and western (American) cultural terms and features was very smooth, it actually worked. 

The fact that it tackled a wholesome topic such a marriage did not lessen its hipness. I loved the fact that they did not use sex or cursing to commercialise thier art. Also, they did not use music ! and if I hadn't told you, you woudln't have noticed ! MAD ! 

The crazy thing is that it's Saudis. I did not take saudis to be so .... artistic, so I'm quite impressed by that as we.. 

I checked out thier other songs through through facebook group (f#@%ing facebook!) and they were ok but not that great, and they contained the usually tryhard with swearing rap stuff so that was a bit of a let down. Through I'm still impressed and in love with this wedding rap. 

I think that maybe to pass the song through Saudi Arabia's stringent censorship laws. because this song is devoid of anything that could pass as immoral. It would have even been played on TaliTV (the Taliban's official TV station-if there was such a thing). 

Now I'm going to take on my friend's role of the dark attitude basher guy towards these things (friend=person I can't name). 

1- Westernization, if this guy is a Saudi, how the heck did he have such a better than average command of american singing style and terminology ? How much TV did he watch ? How has this affected his morals and ideals ? 

2- Well to be honest I can't think of a numebr 2. Something about American hegemony, but I've already spoke too much.

done...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The importance of being earnestly racist

Even since I started going hot and heavy with Islamic work, I've tried very hard to reduce or remove racism from my attitude and thinking, it helped that I was not really all that racist to begin with. Still I found it difficult to completely avoid it because the people ad culture I mix with were outwardly and inwardly racist.

Inward racism is (according to Nasser's Convenient Dictionary TM)feelings that you have for people of a certain ethnicity, but which you do not allow to influence your attitude or treatment of said people.

Outward racism is (same source) yelling out "BLOODY CHINK ! ! !" as you drive by a any person of asian appearance.

You can't control your thoughts, especially since your understanding of the world around you is a product of inputs such as TV and the media, as well as the inherent racism in the culture you grew up in.

This sort of inherent racism is what makes it easy for some people to take part in incredible massacres, because as children we are indocrinated with all sorts of beliefs.

Examples: The Nazi youth who killed all those jews did not think of them as human but as vermin, so it was easy to justify attempting to wipe them out.

The Srebreniza massacre, 80000 civilians killed in an organised campaign over 4 weeks by serb soldiers. The constant telling and retelling of the history of how the serbs were killed and raped by ottomans made it perfectly acceptable to pack halls with unarmed civilians with kill them by the hundreds.

The massacres and enslavement by European colonialists to the indiginous peoples of Asia, Australia, Africa, South and North America and the Middle East came also as very easy because they believed they were superior species of humans. and that the natural order of things is for non europeans to serve europeans.

I digress.

The issue of arabs and indians is a very sensitive one, arabs feel they are superior to indians, why ?

a- because they smell funny ?
b- becuase they are not majority muslim ?
c- because indians were brought to arab countries as servants by the british ?
d- other

I have no idea, but when I speak to most arabs, they have a consensus on the sterotypical indian in his look and his walk and his talk and his ethical conduct etc... While the fact is that there are 1.3 billion indians of numerous languages and cultures and relegions and socio-economic backgrounds, but why let the truth get in the way of a good yarn ?

I personally have many friends who are indians and who I repsect and hold in high regard, so when my arab friends talk badly about them, I'm almost always defending.

I say almost, because sometimes it's funny to make fun of indian accents.

A have a friend, a very good freind (who shall remain nameless) who says this all the time

"الهنود ما يفيدهم الا الكفخة" which roughly translates to "Indians are only good for slapping around, or, indians will only work if you slap them"

So as much as I love my friend I always get into debates with him about this, what the hell are you on about ? you're telling me ALL indians are like this ? what if it's like, the one guy who happened to be indian is like this and the rest are normal people ?
You're too bloody ideal Nasser, I worked in Dubai, if you want to see real indians go there and see them. in their hundreds and thousands, If you respect them they are rude to you, if you slap them or yell at them, they'll do what you want.

You're just being an idiot, you're telling me that they are genetically predisposed to being insulted ? what you're saying makes no sense, I have many muslim friends and they're the most respecable people I know !

Listen, you go to Dubai and you'll know what I'm talking about, you're talking about Sceince and genetics and all that, but this has nothing to do with it.

End of debate

And subhanallah, life just happens to place me in this little patch of desert and oil. The United Arab Emirates.
And I've dealt with indians.
Infact most of the people I've dealt with have been indians, because as you may not know, people from the indian subcontinent (Pakistan, Indian, Bengaladesh, Sri Lanka) make up a majority of this country, and given the nature of my work I do meet and speak to alot of them.

Many of the indians I speak with are ofcourse nice respectfull people who don't jump queues, who understand and apprecait personal space and hygine, who ask a question once and are satisfied with the answer etc...

But not all.

Infact, and sadly, these people are a small percentage.

MOST of the indians I deal with are rude, they have no concept of a system, of organisation. They (for lack of a more appropriate term) piss me the hell off ! They tend to be rude-not because they mean to, they probably never had to use manners where they came from- They tend to smell horrendously bad, like I'd be talking to them and breath from my mouth at the same time. They are just worst customer, other than the local with his head up his ass.

So, I guess in a sence my freind is right, the slap is veyr usefull at times.

But does that make me racist ? I don't think so, because I don't summarily dislike all indians, I just understand that from a third world country of 1.3 billion people , there are bound to be alot of poor ignorant people, and it just happens that the UAE needs alot of poor ignorant people to work to death to achieve its vision of whateverthefuckitis.

If you want to accuse me of anything, call me third worlist, but I am no racist.





Disclaimer: Please forgive me if I inadvertently insulted you, that was not my aim, I only wanted to be honest.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Feeling Buddist

What did Budda do ? he sat under a tree and pondered, thought about all of creation and and people and actions and behaviours etc.. etc..., the observations and teachings he came up with were pretty insightful.

The vacuume created to clear your thoughts and make these insights can be attained through either absolute calm or absolute chaos, depends on the person I guess.

In my case, I think best in chaos, when I'm in a calm environment I can't think or concentrate, I tend to fidget and seek distraction, very much like an iranian kid I once knew who took 8 pills of caffine for a night out and ended up at home, with eyes as big as saucers, climbing walls and laughing in a wierd way.

But I digress.

I've lived in this country for 10 and a half months. I've been a bum, a project leader, a supervisor, an australian, an iraqi, a whistle blower, a husband.

Lately though I've been getting bussier and bussier with work, the bussier I get, and the more people I interact with, I go back to thinking about my identity.

I saw a friend of mine from Australia who was transitting through, he asked me how long I was staying and I replied that my time here was temporary and that sooner or later I was coming back home.

At the moment I said that word "home" I started thinking, really ? Sydney is my home ? a place I only spent less than three months at ? What makes that city my home ?

Well for one thing, my family is there, the only family I know, I can be myself at, I know I'll be accepted no matter how many speeding tickets I get.

What about Iraq ? well as I mentioned before even if I was to go to Iraq and speak the only arabic dialect I know and eat the food I'm familiar with and understand the only culture I was brought up in, I would not fit in. I would not feel a part of them and they would certainly not accept me as a part of them, for many reasons, too numerous and complex to discuss now.

New Zealand ? I really like NZ and I feel it was the place where I had my transition from childhood to adulthood, I lived alone, I lived with family, I made friends and failed exams and passed in many more exams. Then again NZ was like a small town I waited to leave to go to bigger things, like Melbourne.

Melbourne is an amazing city, the people, the places, the opportunities and the institutions are unique to that city. If I had a choice I would bring my family and live back in Rowville, Melbourne Australia.

However I can't really say that this is my home, it just happens to be a place I love and feel at home in, but I havn't stayed there for long enough to genuinely call it my home.

There are two possible solutions to this.

1- I have no identity, I'm like that animal that changes color to blend with whatever background it's at.

2- I have a very complex invisible set of identities; I'm Muslim, I'm of arab iraqi background with an NZ citizenship living in Australia, currently living in the UAE.

That sounds like it describes the stages of my life rather than my identity. It is however what defines my outlook on life, my accent, my behaviour and the the clothes I wear.

Recently my wife has been dressing me, so I guess that's another layer in the onion skin that is my life.



Finally, are you asking yourself "why is this guy talking about himself?" ? Well it's not for my ego, it's because there are hundreds of thousands of people like me. We break down barriers and dilute stereotypes. We're the minoroty that slips through the cracks. If there is any hope for holding the world together, it's us- the human bridge between cultures, relegions and languages.

Friday, July 04, 2008

The debate IV

Continued from The Debate III, the debate II and the debate. Which I guess you could call the debate series.

I'm sorry for these big blocks of text, I promise next time I start a huge debate I'll do the whole thing in cryptic seemingly wise hai ku's, but you know it took me almost half an hour to discern what's my text and what's his text.

I have not replied to this post yet because I haven't had time, and because there is alot to answer in this post and this guy sounds very confused and angry. Maybe this month I'll reply.






Nasser , I was not going to send this to ya cause its really not necessary, we live live in complete different cultures, I am an atheist, you a muslim, we are different folks, in my head that’s 100% ok, I see it as a good thing that people are not all the exact same, I don’t want to live in a mono culture, not any more than I want to eat monsanto´s monocrops. But I just got reminded of how much I hate religion and just how close this war is to me tonight when I read the local news. I am so fucking sick of religion and government, I am so completely tired of their wars and all the other products of their sad inventions. I just want to live, grow, create, love, I have no need for some other mans dogmas, superstitions, or power games. Anyway… here is my response to your response.

"The poem says roughly “oh you who attempts to knock down the mountain by kicking it, feel sorry for your foot, not the mountain”.

But I want to live in a world where we have the ability to choose other paths in life, I don’t want to live in the shadow of such a mountain. Im not gonna kick it, that’s not how you move mountains, it takes logic and common sense to move mountains my friend. But we are not talking about mountains, we are talking about people and the way that they interpret huge books that other people have written that they are convinced they must live by. I don’t want to be forced into living under the veil of whatever dominant religion of the region or culture or government that happens to take root in my path. I have respect and love and compassion, I protest war, government and police brutality, I believe that humans and animals alike should not be raised in cages to be slaughtered not for food, and not for resources, not to feed the fat bloated ones who stand on our shoulders with their hands covered in blood. I already know from living most my life in the American police states that life amongst a culture whos operating system is an ancient dogmatic religion whos scriptures can be read any way you want to read them, is not the type of life I want to live. Not the style of life that I would choose to raise my children in, if indeed I felt it appropriate to bear children in this world of war and struggle whos future is looking rather dim. Which makes me even more frustrated when I see people all around me breeding like flys, when it is their violent consumerism driven mess that is at the heart of my very decision to not have children, but that is a different topic.So you see, there was no violence or clash of any kind, and in any case, since then I have changed my views about this issue, and the only reason I keep this deviation is for artistic value. a couple years before the cia sponsored osama cult took down the trade centers, we were in seattle protesting the WTO ,(well I wasn’t, I was in prison at the time) the whole city got shut down, there were an estimated 30,000 of us on the streets saying no to capitalism, no to the police state, no to the oil wars, no to sweatshops and sanctions and the IMF, no to the rape and pillaging of the third world, no to the building of prisons and bombs and malls. AND to my knowledge, not one person died. That is not to say that there was NOT violence, the police are always violent, they , like the military, serve as tentacles of the state. They serve to protect the infrastructure of power, by any means necessary, and when they succeed in securing it they move on self replicating like a virus, that’s how you go from a struggle on the streets of America to an all our war thousands of miles away a handful of years later. Ofcourse it is much much more complicated than that.On sept 11th I was living not too far from the place where they refined the materials for the Hiroshima bomb, and off to the other direction was an army base where they had massive storage bunkers crammed with leaking chemical weapons…. i didn’t like living amongst weapons of mass distruction, but life in America isn’t what as nice as some dumb folks think. It was a little town in the desert by the name of Kennewick Washington.When the towers got hit I hate to say this, but my first response was not terror, the first thing I thought was …….. wow that’s the home of the WTO, they really pissed the wrong folks off. I thought for sure that this was the start of a revolution of sorts, I thought for sure that it would wake up America and provoke them to think about the significance of their actions abroad and at home too. I was convinced that people would start looking into what might provoke people to take such drastic measures. I couldn’t help but to think about how many cia fuckers and bankers and other crooked power fiends were probably in those buildings, I felt horrible for the folks on the planes, I felt horrible for them, but still yet it was all so remote, just another mass casualty on tv ( yeah I had not yet boycotted the tv, the tv boycott was in the brewing for me and I didn’t know it) Then came the American media, I remember there was a local radio station handing out flags, and then almost imdiatly I knew that amerce was not going to question the WTO, they were going to go to war, this was not about human rights, or love, or compassion, this wasn’t about justice and peace. This was a propaganda campaign. Back before the WWII Hitler burned one of government buildings. It got the people of germany behind him even more. This is what was happening. Would it be aphganistan? Pakistan? No cuz they have nukes…. Would it be iran? No cuz they would kick our ass and we wouldn’t get nothing in return. Would it be Syria? I didn’t even know enough about the middle east to get that far…. It happened over night , they started recruiting people from the schools even more than before, and prowling through the ghettos and malls. Everybody started wearing redwhite and blue, and flying flags off their big bloated vehicals. I was a criminal at the time, I had been addicted to drugs before, and I felt that it was a good time to start back up. I spent that fall and winter car prowling at shopping centers. I ended up moving back to my home town stay out of trouble and focuss on learning how to tattoo. I watched it all unfold….. I talked to every one, did lots of reading, became active on the web. Educated myself, and tried to keep up with what was happening. I never went to school much, and always had really bad grades when I did, I have never been big on politics until this all started. I made me want to know the truth, and the more that I read, the more I realized that Americans were being lied to, yeah sure sadam was a piece of shit, but Americans, at least the ones I knew personally, none of them cared about Iraqis, nor did the care about securing peace.. or whatever else bullshit reasons they gave for terrorizing the world. About a year later.I remember this kid that I used to know told me he had joined the army…. He said he was preparing to go off to iraq. I asked him WHY? He responded smugly. “to go kill towel heads” I lectured him for about the rest of the night. Then not to long afterwords I saw him drunk and he was leaving the next day. I told him he had a choice, and all about the fact that islam is not the reason the towers fell, and that iraq is by no means a threat to the usa, and that the real terrorists were amongst us…… later on I cant help but to think… did he ever ponder what I said when he was out there so far from home, bloody and trembling with fear? i am not a violent person, but I hope he did. It is him that I think of when I think of the armies, and it is the racist hostile Christians that I grew up with that I think of when I think of religion. I a million other examples but these are a couple good ones. This is where I am coming from, I don’t have the time to tell you everything about me, or how I think, but I do want you to realize that there is indeed a middle ground that we can reach. But we need to be tolerant of one another to reach it. We cant have any of this pathetic nationalism and the religions just like the cultural diversity that makes us stand out as different from one another…… CAN NOT be a division. BUT likewise, we can not allow our leaders to lead. Because when we are being led then that means we are not thinking. We need to think, we need to communicate. We need to make friendships, dispite what I believe or what you believe. I see religion as a hindrance to that unity, most religions attempt to convert through their followers…… they attempt to seclude and divide rather than make peace and unite. Do you really think we need more walls? Any one that likes walls and boundaries, I beg for them to go live in palestine a day. I want to live in a world where we have smashed all the walls and made friends with our neighbors, I want to have a big garden and grow food and eat and paint, and make music. I want to hear children playing and birds singing. Fuck war and anything that creates it.Islam needs to address its violent doctrines…… but it has issues with this because the poor people have been subjected to war and it has even made violence more natural….. it is human instinct to adapt and normalize their envioronment, which in turn shapes the culture and if not corrected it becomes codified and incorporated into its roots. The fruit can then seed new problems when this is allowed. This is what is happening here in Europe with the kids that are coming from such places, they are not like the kids from here, and there is no mistaking about that. Blame who ever you want, but this is another thing that and another topic that is causing a lot of misguided frustrations. Take denmark for instance, it opened its doors to some immigrants and is now in a crisis because of it. The danes are a very very different people than Americans, and drasticly different than folks from the middle east. And then when you throw in a few hundred thousand people who are sellshocked and traumatized from war now you have a problem. Because the danes see their society becoming violent like never before, their first approach has been top accommodate isalm and dedicate resources to aid its people, but islam from the Saudis or wherever is telling these people they need to hate the danes……. And so on, and the kids who are all fucked up from war are in gangs now and fighting, and women are getting raped and banks robbed, cars being bombed, I mean come on. I am totally for NO BORDERS, but whats up? How do we fix this and fix it NOW? A boycott of denmark, wouldn’t be appropriate enless all the muslims went back home to where they came from and gave us back our welfare state and other resources that WE pay for beings the fact that MOST immigrants are still not working, not that I am too concerned with who is working or not, but actually I am , because when one group lives off another and then wants to boycott them while they are still milking their society , im not even gonna mention the parallels between the way arabs and Scandinavians breed, I will just say that you don’t see many danes putting out that many kids. Hello, our world is over populated already, what is sustainable about that? Nothing, islam doesn’t preech sustainability, it preaches military tactics to conquere every culture in its path to world domination, and stil yet, your prophet is no less dead than jesus, or any other of the thousands of self proclaimed know it alls and gateways to god. Yeah I said that. Are you still peacefull? It doesn’t really matter, because even if you are not one of the folks who interprets your religion in a way that condones violence…. it does nothing to change the horrible fact that there are many many fanaticals that DO SEE the Koran and its offspring teachings as an incitement to commit murder in the name of a so called god. I am NOT simply against the Koran, and I am certainly not against you personally. But I am against ANY value or mindset, any cause or ideal, ANY religion or way of life that interferes with my free thought, my free expression, my free will, my free life. I am a human, I was not “ut here by a god” I am not to be mastered or corralled by a nation or state, I will not be subject to your laws. BUT BUT BUT I will NOT interfere with your life. I will be kind to you. But I will never be accepting of ANYTHING that can influence people to commit acts of war and oppression or hatred……. And if you say islam does not do this, I ask you to explain just what was it that stoned all those women? Don’t tell me it has not happened or that it was just an isolated “accident” ONE LIFE TAKEN, IS ONE LIFE TOO MANY. What about the gay folks in Islamic states? I have some very close friends who are gay I would rather put a bullet in your non existent god any day than to watch one of my loved ones hang or get stoned by a crowd of idiots chanting god is great. What about the honor killing that my wife came within an hour of accidentally witnessing at a train station? Them stupid sorry mother fuckers. HUH what about that poor girl who is fucking dead now because of the influence of your holly prophet god may HE rest in peace?What about the little girls who don’t want to be married to crusty old fuckers they have never met? And then forced to just roll over and take the dick every night because if they leave they will run the risk of being murdered. And likewise what about all the little girls who have clits mutilated by some sick fucking religious fool.Or what about the fact that women’s testimony in the courts of Islamic states is basically worthless. Just like their rights? And how about the caning or lashing stoning hanging of them when they get gang raped by thugs? Yeah sure Christianity can be debated in the same way, and I would be happy to talk lots of shit about western cultures problems too cuz I by no means cherish western culture or its dogma.. I don’t believe in western states and their religions any more than I do islam. Fact I see a lot of good things in islam. BUT the fact is that it can be interpreted in very negative ways too just like all religions, ideals, etc


You have to understand that the whole uproar thing that happened wasn’t because these cartoons were drawn, it was because these cartoons were meant to insult muslims world wide. As a person who claims to follow the teachings of Islam, I and millions of Muslims like me are not seeking to control the west nor sensor it.

My wife would like to ask you if you have ever even read or even looked at a Danish newspaper? Because they draw those cartoons of everyone, she listed a long list of them , kings, queens, ministers, other politicians religious leaders, pop stars….. I would like to add that I feel you are playing into the hands of the folks who would like to.(censor us) I have heard countless muslims talk of changing the law to make it to where we cant have the freedoms to insult religion…. BUT HOW ARE WE ALL GONNA EVER WAKE UP FROM THE DOGMATIC SLUMBER OF RELIGION, IF NO ONE IS PERMITTED TO INSULT IT. Because as you and I both know from isreals perspective, if you even question the jews you are insulting them, and are at risk of being blacklisted by their world banking scheme as an anti-Semite potential terrorist nazi sympathizer or radical islamist…..blah blah blah.If you go to any library in the world and any university also you would find hundreds of books and theses that attempt to disprove Islam or to belie the prophet Muhammad as a prophet, some even make the claim that Islam and its teachings are evil etc... There have been drawings and illustrations of the prophet, and there have never been any anger or violence before it either. This is different because it aimed to insult an important concept and a beloved person that is part of a world religion.

Ohh you cant tell me anyone has not been murdered for insulting islam.THEN why is it such a big deal when movies like fitna come out? Why do people get death threats when they question your peaceful religion?

Now in saying that, I would also have to argue that even though there is about 1.5 billion muslims in the world, it cannot be said that all of them follow islam. Many of them have very little knowledge of Islamic teachings and know what they know from traditions of their fathers. For these masses it’s easy to have a blind rage march in the streets, but it doesn’t mean that any of the millions of other speakers, community leaders and religious scholars actually called for any of these.

OHHHHH OK this explains it all, this makes it perfectly acceptable. This is a great excuse to condone all of the senseless misery that world religions and their political regimes have inflicted upon life on mother earth.Most of the violence happened in third world countries where there was already war and violence, so this was just an extension of it. Yes I do indeed understand this, and I am aware of this, BUT I don’t pay much attention to what is going on in Pakistan because of that, I am repulsed by that sort of a mob, in my opinion that is exactly why America has nukes. And that’s not a good thing. Because we don’t need to be setting those things off. But those olks need to get themselves under control, again, if that is what islam amounts to then, that’s just another stike against islam. And if your prophet is the one who inspired all those suicide bombings and idiots running down the street slashing their faces, and kids having to watch all this shit unfold, I wonder what is such a big deal with him having a bombhat? Does it not fit? Also if you remember in Pakistan they burned flags of Denmark etc… well these guys burn flags of anything that angers them, AND I BURN FLAGS TOO, BUT I AM NOT GONNA TURN RIGHT AROUND AND FLY ONE MYSELF. Its ok to burn flags if you are antinationalist, its pointless to burn flags if you yourself have one hanging out of your ass, so fuck packistan, those folks need to evolve, (but not their cooking cuz that’s fine the vegi stuff is good.

a few years ago they burned an effigy of an Australian cricket captain because he said something negative about the Pakistan cricket team.

That’s seriously funny, hate sports, I guess packistan isn’t that bad after all, I take back what I said about nuking them? Did I say that?

Sadly the media carries over to the west the violence and the hate of this ignorance, and leaves out the scores of initiatives for peace and understanding that sprung forth in the muslim world. From all countries from Egypt to Australia and everything in between.

I HATE THE MEDIA, THAT’S WHY I SAY BOYCOT THE TV. I HAVE BEEN ON A TV BOYCOT FOR YEARS. AND THE OTHER FORMS OF SO CALLED NEWS ARE JUST AS BAD.I get a lot of my news from places like independent media center. And from local collective organizations that the governments and corporations are NOT a part of.

Again I remind you that Muslims are not part of one huge organic consciousness, so that what a Moroccan does in Holland is not automatically sanctioned by me.

Then why follow the Koran at all? Why not follow your heart if there is no god that unifies you with this beautiful natural world that we live in? why not lose the man made in trade for what is real, what is natural. You sacrifice your entire existence for something that is entirely faith based and dividing from the rest of the universal web of life…….!?A number of years ago when something happened in Europe of I think the pope saying something against Islam. I say fuck the pope, that man is a perfect example of bloated rich old guy at the top of a pyramid scheme who does nothing good at all, he lets his priests stick their dicks into little boys, supports the spread of disease by his stance against contraception, nurtures the mass breeding of his fellow cattle so they will over populate the world while trying to become the most powerful most holiest cult on the planet, fuck the pope!

There were hundreds of articles and rebuttals of muslims in the east and the west arguing and presenting arguments against the pope’s argument. It was peaceful and not news worthy. Two weeks later there was a peaceful march in London to protest these remarks as not being constructive in a world context. MOST people walked peacefully and carried signs with peacefull messages. About 30 protestors though with some warped militant mentality hijacked the rally with very provocative messages supporting Bin Laden and promising a massacre in Britain etc, one person was stupid enough to wear a mock suicide bomber vest.

That’s almost funny, he was probably working for MI5 someone should have shot his ass, no seriously, they probably were working for the pigs, but that doesn’t make the religion any more right, nore does it make it appropriate to indoctrinate the masses with a script that is so flexible that it can mean peace to one and war to another, any guide to life such as a religion should be leading folks to peace or it should be burnt at the stake.

Suffice to say the whole march was tainted by the actions of a minority, and that is just what these people are, a minority, mostly fueled by ignorance and closed mindedness. Also in regards to the honor killing thing, It is an age old Arabic tradition to kill for honor, but Islam stopped it as it stopped many other inhumane and barbaric acts the arabs and other cultures used to do before embracing Islam. Honor killing is not an Islamic concept and it has not been condoned by any muslim authority ever.

I don’t believe you entirely, I think it has been adopted by islam, as you and I both know, religions adopt the customs of the people they conquer, just like Christians and their Christmas tree that actually came from the Nordic yule celebrations, islam now has honor killing, Christians have a yule tree.

I welcome your question and arguments in regards to this matter, as a muslim I feel I always have the responsibility to clarify Islam to people, especially now with all the wrong images of it being propagated by muslims and non muslims. Thanks again, and I look forward to your reply.

Nasser Alkhateeb

P.S. Don’t call me a bastard man ! you hardly know me !
OK I apologize for that, I don’t mean to offend you, I just get carried away sometimes, I think a lot of it comes from my being born and raised in America, they are a rather rude and obnoxious people if you have not noticed. I don’t miss America at all, I am actually trying to lose a lot of my American attitude, and the accent too.

P.P.S. Is it ok that I post this message and reply on my blog ? I’ll wait for your confirmation before I do so.

Yes yes, you can do that indeed, but if I get a bunch of death threats I hope your know its not gonna make islam look peaceful.
_________________________________________________

The end, my reply will be posted as soon as I've actually written it down

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The debate III

The follow up from the debate and the Debate II posts. Fun follow up stuff !

Sorry for replying so late, I’ve started a full time job and it’s quite busy.
I would first of all like you to visit this link again [link] to read the comments made on this deviation and the replies I made to them.
I would also like to clarify that in this deviation, I did not call for violence or killing or burning or hatred of any kind.
There are two bodies of text, the first clearly calls for a boycott of Danish products, the second is poem about the person who orchestrated the whole caricatures issue. The poem says roughly
“oh you who attempts to knock down the mountain by kicking it, feel sorry for your foot, not the mountain”.
So you see, there was no violence or clash of any kind, and in any case, since then I have changed my views about this issue, and the only reason I keep this deviation is for artistic value.



I agree with the bulk of what you say in your previous argument. People throughout history have used ideology of race, geography, language or creed to rally those around them to garner power. Having lived in Iraq I have first hand experience in this where for 8 years, Saddam Hussien lead Iraqis against a war of arab nationalism against Persian encroachment on the western gate of the Arabian nation. These terms and sentiments are exactly how the propaganda machines made millions of Iraqis believe and killed or imprisoned those who didn’t.


You have to understand that the whole uproar thing that happened wasn’t because these cartoons were drawn, it was because these cartoons were meant to insult muslims world wide.
As a person who claims to follow the teachings of Islam, I and millions of Muslims like me are not seeking to control the west nor sensor it. If you go to any library in the world and any university also you would find hundreds of books and theses that attempt to disprove Islam or to belie the prophet Muhammad as a prophet, some even make the claim that Islam and its teachings are evil etc...
There have been drawings and illustrations of the prophet, and there have never been any anger or violence before it either. This is different because it aimed to insult an important concept and a beloved person that is part of a world religion.

Now in saying that, I would also have to argue that even though there is about 1.5 billion muslims in the world, it cannot be said that all of them follow islam. Many of them have very little knowledge of Islamic teachings and know what they know from traditions of their fathers. For these masses it’s easy to have a blind rage march in the streets, but it doesn’t mean that any of the millions of other speakers, community leaders and religious scholars actually called for any of these.
Most of the violence happened in third world countries where there was already war and violence, so this was just an extension of it. Also if you remember in Pakistan they burned flags of Denmark etc… well these guys burn flags of anything that angers them, a few years ago they burned an effigy of an Australian cricket captain because he said something negative about the Pakistan cricket team.
Sadly the media carries over to the west the violence and the hate of this ignorance, and leaves out the scores of initiatives for peace and understanding that sprung forth in the muslim world. From all countries from Egypt to Australia and everything in between.



Again I remind you that Muslims are not part of one huge organic consciousness, so that what a Moroccan does in Holland is not automatically sanctioned by me.
A number of years ago when something happened in Europe of I think the pope saying something against Islam. There were hundreds of articles and rebuttals of muslims in the east and the west arguing and presenting arguments against the pope’s argument. It was peaceful and not news worthy.
Two weeks later there was a peaceful march in London to protest these remarks as not being constructive in a world context. MOST people walked peacefully and carried signs with peacefull messages. About 30 protestors though with some warped militant mentality hijacked the rally with very provocative messages supporting Bin Laden and promising a massacre in Britain etc, one person was stupid enough to wear a mock suicide bomber vest.
Suffice to say the whole march was tainted by the actions of a minority, and that is just what these people are, a minority, mostly fueled by ignorance and closed mindedness.
Also in regards to the honour killing thing, It is an age old Arabic tradition to kill for honour, but Islam stopped it as it stopped many other inhumane and barbaric acts the arabs and other cultures used to do before embracing Islam. Honour killing is not an Islamic concept and it has not been condoned by any muslim authority ever.
I welcome your question and arguments in regards to this matter, as a muslim I feel I always have the responsibility to clarify Islam to people, especially now with all the wrong images of it being propagated by muslims and non muslims.
Thanks again, and I look forward to your reply.

Nasser Alkhateeb

P.S. Don’t call me a bastard man ! you hardly know me !
P.P.S. Is it ok that I post this message and reply on my blog ? I’ll wait for your confirmation before I do so.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The debate II

The followup from Debate post

This is the first message sparking the debate:

I found your profile from your boycott Denmark piece. I would be interested in discussing this topic with you.

First off let me explain that I am an ex American who left the states for Europe because I could no longer tolerate the fact that my taxes were going towards the international war of terrorism, I never did support and never will support American policy, not at home and certainly not abroad. I protested the war in Iraq before it began and still continue to do so today. I protested it not because of my religious stance but because it was wrong. They were wrong to even be bombing Afghanistan. I believe that 911 was allowed to happen so that the worlds rightwing Christians and Jews could begin an international war against freedom , against life, against the poor people, against small farms, against tribal people, against nature. They want to build walls and put up gun towers and fences, checkpoints and borders. They want to reallocate all the worlds’ taxes and riches and wealth and put them to use building prisons and death camps. They want to do this because THEY are the rich and powerful, they are the bloated, they are the pigs who need a war machine to keep their power, a factory, a sweatshop, a world full of slaves. They want to control ALL of the world’s resources.

Now lets discuss this THEY that I am referring to, it is not a religion, or a nation, not a race or a people, not an ideal or a single definable body, it is power. POWER, it is the people who have the power at the moment, the so called leaders who will always kill for it and fight to maintain it. They use all of the above mentioned... religion, nationalism, race, class, they use everything at their disposal to win OUR allegiance, they use pop culture, they use psychology, high level marketing and mind control schemes, they use consultants and professionals of all kinds, from the clones on the battle field to the fat bloats in the highest towers.

The nature of power is what should be examined here now in the HERE AND NOW, the nature of power is all consuming, the nature of power is inherently flawed. We live in times of WAR there is no peace only apathy, slavery and exploitation. The quest for power over nature, power over animals, and then power over people has always been and always will be - from the kings to the prophets to the television - the root of all of humanities problems.

When a person buys into their system they become no more than a cog. Fighting one another is not the solution. They keep us divided so that we don't unite and wake each other up from our dogmatic slumber. Arguing over cartoons is not going to stop the multi billion dollar war industry my friend. I understand that drawing a picture of your prophet is an offensive thing. But like you probably know, cultures are different around the world.

Islam is not making friends by attempting to undermine freedom of speech, censorship is the tool of the systems a vast majority of us oppose. I won’t go into debating religious dogma with you because I don't buy into it, I would like to think that I am not a follower of any mans concoctions. I guess you could call me an atheist in a sense, I believe in nature, but that’s beside the point. My point here in this letter to you is that I want to explain that in your struggle to push Islam’s laws upon the world, you have contributed in making my tolerance for Islam fade with a quickness.

When I came to Europe almost three years ago I was completely against America and the right wingers in Europe, I was completely in support of asylum seekers, right down to the point that I convinced my wife to vote for a party that stood behind them. I was very sympathetic of the poor folks in Palestine and Iraq, in Afghanistan, I even signed some petitions to keep a few people from getting deported. But that all started to change when you bastards started talking about killing Lars Vilks, and then came the planned assassinations of Kurt Westergaard, and then I started reading about all the people who have indeed been murdered by Islam’s sloppy assassins such as Theo Van Gogh just to name one. and the honor murders of which my wife came only hours from almost being a witness to one, when some freak killed his sister cuz she fell in love. And then came the death threats on Gert Wilders which made me want to watch the movie so I did and could not help but to agree with every fucking thing the man is trying to say.

so congrats, your protests against Denmark has just made everything legitimate that you had to say about liberating your sheep I mean people irrelevant, and in doing so have helped to further the support for your blood enemies.

Cheers enjoy your holy war now while it lasts, people are going to wake up someday.



My reply to come soon, watch this space

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The debate

Behold the artwork that sparked this debate


All that I can do 4 my Beloved by *iraqiguy on deviantART

In the next week or few weeks I'll be posting up the contents of a longish debate that started between me and an american guy BECAUSE of this work. I though the topics we raised were quite interesting and worthy of exhibition.

So, watch this space.

Bread and Blood

A poem by a compatriote of mine.

تلوث الخبز بالدم

تسع سنين رايح للمدرسة
ساعة سبعة الصبح
الندى عالورد بعده
ماما حطتله اللفة بالجنطة
صديقة يوسف ينتظر بالمدرسة
يمشي عالرصيف ازركَ قميصة
الناس طيبة تمشي يمنة و يسرة
و اجا النذل المجرم
يسوق السيارة بشوارع بغداد
التكسي ورا يدور رزقة
المهندس كَدامة رايح يدرس
....
و فجر نفسة الخسيس
فجر نفسة و اخذهم كلهم
الناس الطيبة ماشية يمنة و يسرة
المهندس, الطبيب, الحجي
شبابنا مستقبلنا
و احمد
تسع سنين
ما وصل للمدرسة
دفترة حل بي واجب البارحة احتركَ
و صمونتة تلوثت بالدم
فاز المجرم
قتلهم كلهم
بس الله يساعد اهلهم
و هذا المجرم خلي يفيدة
وية امثاله بجهنم للأبد
و احمد لا تزعل حبيبي
صمونتك بالجنة تاكلهة


English Version

Heading to school
Its 7 am
Dew on flowers still
Gave him the sandwich for school his mama
In his bag she put it
Yusuf his friend in the school yard awaits
On the pavement he walks
Blue shirt he’s wearing
Good people walking
Right and left
And the scoundrel criminal came
In Baghdad’s streets he drives
The taxi driver searching his living
The professor on his way to teach
…..
And did it the bastard
Blew up and took them all
People walking right and left
The teacher, doctor the old man
Our youth Our Future
And Ahmed
9 springs
He couldn’t get to school
His little notebooks Ripped and Burnt
And his piece of bread, stained with blood
He won, the bastard
Killed them all
Only god with their families
And the contemptible criminal
In hell with his likes for all eternity

Ahmed don’t be sad my dear
You’re bread in heaven awaits

iraqifreak

http://iraqifreak.deviantart.com/art/Bread-and-Blood-81180596

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The end of the Sami al-Hajj ordeal

An amazing story about Aljazeera camera man sami al-haj. Who was the first media person to be improsoned in that nightmare called guantanamo. The most powerful is not love, but the anger of being opressed, and this guy WAS opressed. Because he was really only in gitmo for his connection with aljazeera.




These images were reprouduced drawings of his while he was in gitmo (the orignals were banned by the US army). They are amazingly haunting, very shocking about not just the description of his treatment but the way he viewed himself.










Sami al-Haj is a journalist, but one unlike any other. For over six years since December 15, 2001 -- when he was seized by Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan border while on assignment as a cameraman for the Qatar-based broadcaster al-Jazeera -- he has been in a disturbing but unique position: a trained journalist held as an "enemy combatant" on the frontline of the Bush administration's "War on Terror," first in Afghanistan, and then in Guantánamo.

The outline of Sami's story should be familiar to readers; last summer AlterNet published a detailed article by Rachel Morris: "Prisoner 345: An Arab Journalist's Five Years in Guantánamo," which made clear how Sami was seized because of the erroneous claim that he had interviewed Osama bin Laden, and the disturbing fact that his many interrogations in Guantánamo have focused solely on the administration's attempts to turn him into an informant against al-Jazeera, to "prove" a connection between the broadcaster and Osama bin Laden that does not exist. As his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith of the legal action charity Reprieve, noted bluntly and accurately in his book Eight O'Clock Ferry to the Windward Side: Seeking Justice in Guantánamo Bay, "Sami was a prisoner in the Bush Administration's assault on al-Jazeera."

Less well known is Sami's frontline reportage from within Guantánamo. Stafford Smith recalls that when he asked Sami for information, he "would assemble important facts on almost any topic in the prison relying on the incredible prisoner bush telegraph." These have included reports on the religious abuse -- primarily of the Qu'ran -- that preceded a series of hunger strikes and suicide attempts, and a pioneering assessment of the number of prisoners who were under 18 at the time of their capture.

Since January 7, 2007 (the fifth anniversary of his detention without trial by the US), Sami has been on a hunger strike. Although he is strapped into a restraint chair twice a day and force-fed against his will and despite the fact that he is "very thin" and "[h]is memory is disintegrating," according to Stafford Smith, Sami continues to seek ways to publicize the plight of his fellow prisoners. During the most recent visit from his lawyers in February -- with Cori Crider of Reprieve -- he produced a number of morbid, and almost hallucinatory sketches illustrating his take on conditions in Guantánamo, which he described as "Sketches of My Nightmare."

Fearing that they would be banned by the military censors, Crider asked him to describe each sketch in detail and when, as anticipated, the pictures were duly banned but the notes cleared, Reprieve asked political cartoonist Lewis Peake to create original works based on Sami's descriptions.


"The first sketch is just a skeleton in the torture chair," Sami explained. "My picture reflects my nightmares of what I must look like, with my head double-strapped down, a tube in my nose, a black mask over my mouth, strapped into the torture chair with no eyes and only giant cheekbones, my teeth jutting out -- my ribs showing in every detail, every rib, every joint. The tube goes up to a bag at the top of the drawing. On the right there is another skeleton sitting shackled to another chair. They are sitting like we do in interrogations, with hands shackled, feet shackled to the floor, just waiting. In between I draw the flag of Guantánamo -- JTF-GTMO -- but instead of the normal insignia, there is a skull and crossbones, the real symbol of what is happening here."

In recently declassified testimony, Sami described more of his recent experiences of the force-feeding process:

On the Monday before last [February 11] a white male came to do the force-feeding. They gave him only ten minutes training, then he did three of the eight men being fed that day, including me. He screwed the tube into my nose, not slowly, and not using lotion. I had flu at the time and my nostril was closed. It made it much harder. I was in the chair. I could barely talk, and my mouth was covered with the mask they put on. I was waving my hands.

"That's very painful!" I eventually said. There were tears streaming down my face. "I am meant to do this to you," the man said, harshly. "If you don't like it, don't go on strike." He would not look me in the eye. He did not look in the least bit ashamed. He never said sorry, or paused when I was in pain. I almost thought he seemed happy that he was doing it.

They used my feeding tube for another man last Monday [February 18]. This, even though they have marked the boxes for each tube. I have been getting a sore larynx, maybe from the infection of another person using my tube. I requested a spray but it was denied.

Sami's second sketch is his take on the familiar JTF-GTMO sign outside the prison.


"This time," he explained, "the hooded skeleton is in a three-piece suit [the prisoners' term for being shackled at the wrists, ankles and waist]. The head is totally blacked out. The wrists are shackled at the back, with chains running down the legs. There are very elaborate arm bones, leg bones and the spine. And again the flag, the Jolly Roger of JTF-GTMO with a diabolical smile on the skull."

For his next sketch, Sami shifted his attention to the prison hospital.


"There is a third sketch, which is about the Hospital," he said. "Again it is a skeleton, but with a face this time. The top of the skull is dotted with tracks, tracks of pain. This is the hospital gurney prisoner. He sits completely still, his hands and feet shackled to the side of the bed."

In his testimony, recently released, Sami has elaborated on his experiences of the hospital:

I am very concerned about having cancer. I have had blood in my urine for a long time. They refused to believe me until I showed them urine in a container that had red in it. Since then they have had seven positive tests for blood in my urine.

I have a pain all across my chest and stomach, and in both kidneys. To begin with they thought it might be a kidney stone, but I had a scan for that. They did not give me the results for two weeks, and I worried all that time. It was negative.

So then they did a second scan with a tracer in the blood. This time, they did not tell me the results for two months. Again, I was left to worry about what might be wrong with me. Again, eventually a doctor came to see me, a black male, about 40 years old, clean shaven, in a uniform without rank on it. He saw me for only give minutes. He began decently, but then got rather hostile. He told me the test was negative, meaning that there was no kidney stone. "From my experience," the doctor said to me, "I think it's cancer."

They then said that the next time a doctor would be coming with the appropriate expertise would be in May. Nobody would be coming before that, and he might not come even then. "You will leave me worrying about this for months?" I asked. "I don't have the necessary equipment," said the doctor. He apparently thought the prisoners were not as important as the soldiers in his care. "I don't mind if you suffer or not," he said. "It's not my problem. I'm not here for you." He left.

I worried too much after this. For three days I got barely any sleep. I was worrying that maybe I was dying. Then the brothers around me said, perhaps they are just telling you this, just trying to break your strike. I took some heart from this. But I still worry, as Abdul Razzaq died of cancer here, and it was a very painful death [Abdul Razzaq Hekmati, an Afghan who died on Dec.30].

I have all the other medical problems too. Really, I have pain almost everywhere -- all over. I have pain everywhere. It's hard to identify one thing as it's all over. My back, kidneys, chest, stomach, knee, I even have hemorrhoids. When I do get released, I am going to need to be taken to hospital right away.


In the fifth sketch, Sami explained the meaning of the bloated body, noting that, even if the prisoner's weight were to rise due to force-feeding, he would still be losing his mind.


"In the second half of this drawing the prisoner is inflated," he said. "The man is strapped to the gurney, and the weight on the scale reads 250 lbs. He has filled out, there are rolls of fat on his belly, but he is still mad. The pumps are all hooked up, forcing food into him. But the top half of his head is still vacant."

The last of his declassified notes add a disturbing conclusion to the story of the doctors' involvement in the force-feeding process, and the horrendous isolation and deprivation that still prevail in Guantánamo:

We met recently with a senior female doctor from the hospital. "Only if you break your strike can we give you medical care," she told those of us on hunger strike. "Otherwise we cannot help you." Some have now broken their strike. Four men are very sick, and were suffering too badly. But the truth is that they have given no help even to those who stop.

I am having bone problems. The cold is bad. I am on disciplinary for being on strike, so I get a plastic blanket at 10 pm, at least three hours after our last prayer time. Every other day I hardly get to sleep anyway, as rec [recreation time] is in the middle of the night.

For eight days I had the same clothes. I have not been given proper toothpaste for two years and seven months now. I am allowed a fingerbrush for just five minutes each day, and it doesn't reach the back of my mouth. I am not allowed a prayer rug. I am not allowed a prayer cap. I am not allowed my prayer beads. I am not allowed any holy book except for the Qur'an. I have no books to read. The last book I was allowed was in December 2006, before I began my strike.

All I have are orange clothes, flip flops, an isomat, a Qur'an, and a bottle of water. I suppose I should think myself lucky. Another of the men here has been disciplined by having even his isomat take away -- for a whole year. Another man has lost his right to a water bottle for a whole year. All this made another man so upset that he tried to hang himself.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bearing fruit.

I was in the center today. . .

I should first of all clarify that "The Center" is the service center where I'm currently supervising, and not a secret terroristical lab.

. . . and one of the staff called out to me "Ustath !" . . .

Ustath for you non arab muslims does not mean just islamic teacher, it just means teacher, or in this case it's like saying sir, or Mr Alkhateeb.


. . . so I say 'what's up Nima ? (not her real name), and she tells me what had happened earlier in the day when I went out of the center for a meeting. A customer had come in and for some reason (I'm betting the hot weather and the retarded arab procederal system) he descided to take out his frustration on her. He picked on little things, he questioned endlessly and complained needlessly. She told me this story because she had not fought back with this guy -though she was known to fight with customers- and she did exactly what I would have wanted her to do, which was to help him and direct him to the reception which she couldn't do any more for him.

This incident would have taken a very different course prior to Last week when I had to put up with some shit from a customer just to make a point to the staff about customer service.
So when Nima told me this story I was very happy that these girls . . .

The staff is made up of 18 girls and 3 guys were actually learning

. . . are actually learning from my example, prior to today I thought that when I spoke to them to explained differnet concepts etc... that they weren't really listening. Today though was a good day, a customer received a semblance of proper customer service when he was being an asshole.

yay !

Remembering Oz

During my final year at uni, I sort of developed a routine for my friday morning breakfast.

Because I had to be at uni in the morning, I used to stop by a small chinese shop right next to uni, having already picked my copy of The Age, The Herald Sun, and The Australian (or the israelian according to a freind of mine), I order 2 eggs, sunny side up, and a tea.
I spend about 40 minutes there eating my eggs and reading my three newspapers in a very quiet restaurant, it was a real pleasure.

Now ofcourse living here in Dubai, I don't have the privilidge of this pleasure any more, I do however live with my wife, so I'm not complaining, just remeniscing alhumdulillah.

classic text and eternal sentiment

From The Merchant of Venice.


"Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal'd by the same means, warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge. The villainy you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction."
—Act III, scene I

Swap "jew" with "Muslim" and it becomes terrorism and attempts to change the west's way of life.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

shit

Today something very not nice happened to me.

An asshole customer said some nasty racist things to me, and beacuse I was the supervisor I couldn't yell at him or scream or even say something calmly and meanly.

Usually I make a point of telling my staff to respect all customers no matter where they're from, I try to be fair to everyone. which lands me in hot water sometimes because sometimes people clearly think they deserve better treatment than the rest of the people.

Some of them are owners of companies or frequent customers, and that's fair enough because it's not racism or bigotry.

This local guy though was just looking for a fight, I'm trying to help him by giving him options, and he's treating me like I'm a fuckin slave of his trying to steal his money. So I left him coz I felt that any further conversation with him would not be constructive.

Then he speaks to the receptionist of the center about how rude I am, and he looks at me and says "go back to iraq, you deserve everything Saddam did you to"

Now to be honest, in my 15 years of living in NZ and Australia, I've never ever run into open cruel racist talk like this in my life, I was so socked I just stood there looking at him. I didn't feel rage as I felt saddness. you know sometimes a person can say something and inadvertantly hit a button, that guy really cut me.

I read a book a long time ago by Bruce Courtney called Tandia, about a girl (called Tandia) who was half indian, half african, and who was living in south africa. she was not sure of her identity, of what she should call herself, untill she gets raped by a afrikaan army officer who hatefully calls her "kaafir" (a derogatory term for africans in south africa).

I remembered this because as I mentioned previously in my blog, I may be born in iraq, I may speak arabic with an iraqi accent, but I don't really feel iraqi, I don't know what I feel, I have my western identity, I have my arabic culture, I have my islamic background. but where do I belong really ?
This guy's words hit my like daggers as he told me what I was, an iraqi who deserved what saddam did to him.

I didn't say anything then because I tell my staff that the customer is always right, that even if they customer gets angry, they should smile and not yell back. so as a matter of principle, plus the fact that I didn't want to get down to that guy's level, I didn't say anything, and it hurt more to be silent.

Afterwards all my staff came over and were very supportive, don't worry sir he's a nobody, don't mind what he said, it made me feel better but still, I really wanted to do something humiliating and hurtfull to him, like squeezing his balls untill his eyes watered.

Anyways, in my blog, my space, my oyster, I can talk back to him.....

I was going to say something very rude, but I realised it was not worth it. whatever I would say, I would disrepsect myself.

So, الله يجازيك

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The wisdom of the father.

Even though I spent almost exactly half my life outside iraq, it was the latter half and so the more relevant one. So even when in this country (UAE) I speak the iraqi dialect and so am treated as an iraqi (which is pretty sweet coz most arabs love iraqis). I don't feel it so much. Mostly because after the first gulf war, I (hopefully not just me) felt very dissilussioned with nationalism and the arabian dream, more so when we moved to NZ and then Australia and I started subscribing to a more logical type of *ism that is Islam.


I remember in the first years in NZ, my brother and I faced many problems of fitting in, probelms of bullies (me), no friends, language barriers etc... made us a bit standoffish about what I shall term 'white people', this coupled with our previous propaganda saturated education in iraq about how arabs the best and the west is more or less shit.



My dad used to talk to us about the differences between the east and west, about how people in the west are more direct, more genuine, how arabs generally carry double standards. I used to argue so much with him on these points, along with my brother we thought dad's arguements were due to his illusion of the greatness of the west.
At the time we were in our teens and illogically opposed to our dad's ideas and theoroes. alhumdulillah for his patience and love for us.


For some reason we didn't seem remember that our dad had spent some 45 years in Iraq, he had joined in 2 wars and lived through like 5 or 6 wars and two revolutions, that as a doctor in Iraq, New Zealand and Australia he's had exposure to alot more sections of the community in all those countries.



Coming here and working with these people on lower levels (the service center) and higher levels (expensive marketing projects) it's amazing how on the ball my dad was, I must acknowledge this is not a perfectly accurate fact for ALL people. , but subhanallah the respect and appreciation for systems and rules in australia is so clearly contrasted here by the almost absolute lack of repsect, and unconcious resistance to following or respecting any regulation. I've noticed that alot of people here just WANT, without regards for anyone or anything else.
I've also noticed that no one here keeps thier word, it's so wierd but there are so many promises and so many boastings of achievements, and yet when you come down to business, people are such bums ! no regards for deadlines or promises ! in the begining it can be frustrating but then you just count those instabilities into the realities and contingencies of project development.

so what can I say ? dad you were right, I'm just glad I realised that while my dad is still alive.

Monday, April 07, 2008

pressure

I yelled at a guy two days ago.

I was at the helpdesk and this guy was having problems with his governmenal application form, and whatever I did, we could not find out what the problem was, so I suggested he go to the ministry again to ask about it, because this problem was obviously not from our side. He started complaining about how he'd been going back and forth all day (literally, from 9am to 1pm) and that he'll make us print it again no matter what.

That's when I lost it, I stood up and screamed at him, WHAT DO YOU MEAN NO MATTER WHAT ! IT'S NOT OUR FAULT OR PROBLEM ! WHAT DO YOU THINK I'M GONNA FORK OUT 200 DIRHAMS TO PRINT YOUR DOCUMENT !

He walked away, I sat down, instantly I felt so bad, I'm becoming a product of my environment, where I thought of the prioroty of the customer just a few days ago, I was yelling at customers now. I was not a happy chappie that day.

Yesterday I saw him again, he had to come to our service center because we have exclusive service right to Ajman. I saw him, and with him I saw a chance of redeeming myself, of being able to sleep better at night, so I went to him, shook his hand and hugged him, and apologised.

You would not believe how happy he became for being given respect, he apologised for his impatience with his, and I told him that it should be me who apologises, I gave him a complaint card and told him to write a complaint about me and that I woudl't hold it against it because it was his right. Alhumdulillah he didn't :)

SO ! yesterday I learned a lesson. Don't opress people just because you have a position of power, your conciousness, and more imporantly Allah will not forget it.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The arab façade

Let me just say that I'm very excited to be able to spell façade correctly.

Well I'm now here in this great ocean of contradictions called the Emirates. The new Hong Kong, the new Singapore, the new indian subcontinent, the new pan arab state, the new everything you want it to be, if you have the money.

and I've started my job, officially on my work visa I don't know what my job title is, and I couldn't say that I'm only and strictly a service center supervisor, that title is so limited while what I do is so varied.

Today though I'd just like to talk about my ever expanding experience as a supervisor. I was excited about this job because it meant I'd have a contribution (however minute it might be) in setting down a set of rules, a system, and following through with it, in an environment where there is little regard for the process, for the system, for the principle of following the system or applying the rules.

I may be a bit biased in this issue, because I despise this concept of the all great arab that is respected out of fear, where acting on anger is respected, where racism is normal and where the law of natural selection finds home. It's funny because it was the arabian prophet Mohammad (pbuh) who very clearly instructed people that this way of thinking and acting is wrong and that resepct for other people and more importantly for oneself is what we should be doing.

Moving on.

So far it's been two weeks. Some days I must admit I come home tired and feeling down because of the 500 or so people who I have to patiently convince of the importance of the system (patiently, I'm not very patient). Most other days alhumdulillah people actually see the light ! I get comments like "it's so much better now with the system in place" that make me so happy I celebrate by buying a Dr pepper.

So what is the system ? it's really quite simple; you come in, head for the front desk, wait your turn for less than a minute, speak to the front desk person to determine what you need, get a little piece of paper that tells you your number in the queue, and chill out to wait for your turn !

simple ? not for arabs ! (to be fair it's also confusing for indians, pakistanis, bangladeshis, iranians etc...)

There are three types of people in this case.

1- The local: The local knows no laws, he OWNS the country, and the people, and the institutions, and the air you breath ! he walks straight through and sits in front of the typist, throws his paperwork on her desk and from the cool stare of his $5000 sunglasses tells her "finish this up I'm busy".

Now imagine trying to convince this guy to take a ticket ! and (horror of horrors) wait with the indians ! ! ! WTF are you kidding me dog !


2- The arab (palestine, syria, iraq) : Also, some sort of genetic aversion to queues; he SEES the queue, and it's EMPTY, and yet he still walks around it to walk to the front desk. I ask them sometimes "you see the queue, why did you walk around it ? is it not clear that it's a queue ? do you need us to post an indian next to it to tell you that it's a queue ?"

This man is eternally angry at the world. He comes in expecting a fight, so he gets a ticket, and if his waiting time is 10 minutes or an hour, he will argue, and veins WILL pop on his bald head and threaten a melt down. Usually after that orgasm of rage they sit down and wait thier turn, so it's all good.

3- the indian subcontinental: I try to be fair with these people beacuse their being in the emirates means they're getting a shit deal. but it's hard to be fair when the guy lies in your face, and does everything in his (or her ! this is an equal opportunity blog) way to break the system. Sadly they were the ones who usually have to wait the most because as I mentioned before, they're bottom of the food chain. This is something I find hard to accept because in Australia I have alot of very good subcontinental friends. Here though it seems every one is comfortable with their stereotype.

ofcourse not ALL locals, arabs and subcontinentals are like this, there is a large number of people who respect the system, who wait without complaining, who understand reason when you present it to them. This is the usually the case though, out of 500 people, if I get ten who are trouble makers, the system suffers.

this center has been open for two years, so me coming in and changing the culture in a few weeks is quite an ambition task, but inshallah I'll be able to do it. and the management offers strong support so alhumdulillah I'm appreciative of that.

Everytime I come to work, I remember going to VicRoads in Australia, and I remember no matter how many people are waiting, there is such an air of control and civility, and I think to myself, why can't we achieve that here ? what do aussies have that arabs don't ?

I'll leave that for another blog entry.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Ze update vun !

it's 230 am, a woke up to a mosquito flying close to my head, a bit slowly having drank a litre of my blood, so I pifpaffed my room and now I'm waiting for that damn insect to die. I'm also watching an interview with Moqtada alSadr.



So what else has been happening ? I haven't updated in a long time, especially not about the most important thing, or the most significant change in my life, that is living in the east, the middle east, the UAE; probably the best available model of a modern arab country today, an equally positive and negative point, but I'll get to that later.

A very dear friend of mine took the time and effort to call all the way from Austrlia to see how I was doing, and explaining to him how I WAS doing and WHAT I was doing, I was surprised and amazed at the nature of work and life here, the change had been gradual for me so it had not hit me ( so to speak ) untill I actually spoke about it. so I thought I'd start blogging my experiences and observations while in this facinating country (I'm in love with the word 'facinating' it makes me feel so sophisticated and open minded, but I digress).

For now though, I'm just going to watch a bit more of this facinating character, Moqtada alSadr, his accent is so strong !