Sunday, July 31, 2011

Podcast: Khawater's Ahmad Alshuqairi Interview

It's not often that one is impressed with an arabic television program.

I know this may be harsh, but sadly it's painfully true. The content is quite often lacking, and tries often to rely on telenovella tricks to grab attention. Often times there is overuse of sexuality in innuendo and suggestion (because Arabic Television is hypocritically conservative) or the overuse of screaming to instigate excitement.
Other programs famous in Jordan and the Gulf are those depressingly basic storylines about death, treachery and battles over inheritance. In the end it's difficult to find a good show. A show you want to watch but won't feel guilty about watching.

Khawater is such a brilliant success of a show. Based -of all places- in Saudi Arabia. It delves into real issues of weakness prevalent all over the Arab world. Though the way it chooses to illustrate these issues is not so much confrontational as it is a way of making us laugh at ourselves while learning.

There is a lot to be said about this show and its founder, Ahmad Alshuqairi. Though I'll suffice by giving this link to some of his shows  and of course a streaming podcast of the interview I had with him last week ( 28th July 2011). Enjoy

(you can download the podcast here if you don't like streaming)

For those living outside of the Arab World (like me) here is a link to the first episode of the 7th season of Khawater. 
If you follow the group you will be able to watch the rest inshallah.

ALSO I found this youtube video of the same first episode


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The lashing of the year.

As I'm writing this I'm still astounded that something like this is so ... I'm speechless actually.

So... In this age of terrorism, Islamophobia and the dominance of terms nobody really understands but peddles anyway like sharia, jihad and taqiya. There is an unending source of interest the media continuously returns to whenever the news cycle is quiet or when the public attention needs to be diverted.

A cycle has now started that is so formulaic you can almost foresee it before it happens. Here is the latest breakdown of the formula

1- A news story breaks out, it's outrageous, it's clearly wrong, illegal, criminal etc... Muslims are involved somehow.
2- A direct or (in most cases) indirect connection is made to Islam. So this crime is sanctioned or caused by Islam.
3- Commentators on talkback radio and newspaper opinion pieces stoke the flames of xenophobia and intolerance. Breaking the story down into a black and white.
4- Spokesmen for the community come out and attempt to clarify, explain, distance the larger muslim community from the act, by this time though there is a strong foaming-at-the-mouth momentum of fear and hate too strong for any logic or sense.
5- Crazies come out from both sides making nutty claims and incredibly divisive statements that are of benefit only to said crazies.
6- The government, hungry for attention and acceptance from the voters and egged on by the media. Come out and make ill informed vague rhetoric statements that call upon the values and  integration. In some cases a politician may pass a totally irrelevant or even redundant law that makes lives harder for the whole community.
7- The noise dies down gradually, the crazies crawl back into their holes, the media latches on to another rating maximizing issue, until the next cycle.

So, what's the cycle this week, you ask ?

1- A dude gets lashed. It seems he was a recent convert to Islam who still had a taste for the bottle. Some "brothers" found out and decided to take a law  (not the law of the land) into their own hands.
2- The ever present fear of Islam and Sharia is jumped upon again. It's clear whoever did this not in any stretch of the imagination representative of anyone but themselves. That doesn't stop commentators and the scores of hateful trolls on forums and comment sections of news articles and youtube videos to warn of creeping sharia law Muslims going back where they come from etc...
3- The media tirade is too fast to catch up with, just google lashing Sydney (within the time limit) and you'll get plenty to keep you scared and angry.
4- Balanced, educated sane people try to put things into prospective, hence Ahmed Kilani's interview at 2UE radio speaks wonderfully. Alhumdulillah for people like him. He clearly states that Islam is innocent of such savageries. Others I'm sure have also tried to restore sanity.
5-The crazies, I'm not even going into this. (Though I have to say I'm disappointed with George Negus for giving a platform to that individual)
6 and 7 are yet to come, and then I can say I told you so !

The fact is, sharia law is a vast field of jurisprudence that has its own philosophy built on justice and its own purposes, sources and flexibilities. In a very specific context of time, space and culture, flogging a man for drinking was sanctioned. However in Australia, in 2011. This can not be sanctioned for two very simple reasons:
1- Australia does not apply sharia law. We may not like it, but people here (including Muslims) drink, gamble, engage in premarital sex, pee when standing up etc... We may hate it, but other than advising them, we can't do anything about it.
2- Sharia law isn't a stick anybody can pick up and beat up others with. If it's a law of the land. The authorities can apply it.

I don't want to get into the validity of flogging someone drinking if Sharia was applied today in some Muslim country, that's another topic. It is however important to understand that this type of action is not sanctioned at any time. This is plain criminal. I just hope those four guys who beat up the poor convert person weren't ordered to do so by an organization leader or something.

Wallahu A3lam.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

"There is always a bigger fish"

A quote from the movie "Star Wars" episode 1 I think, in which there was literally a bigger fish.

Yesterday I was in a discussion about the old social structures in Iraq and the Arab world before the wave of colonization near the start of the 20th century. It was interesting and insightful in light of the last 20 years I guess.

Previous to Colonization, Countries like Iraq, Palestine, Syria and Egypt were under the control of the Ottoman empire. At the end of the 19century and the beginning of the 20th century that control was waning. There developed a localized system of ... policing I guess you'd call it. Every suburb or every couple of streets there would be a person who would act as the sheriff of that area. He would be a large muscly man with a massive mustache, a 'araqchine or a taqia on his head (similar to but larger than a yarmulke)  and a yashmagh scarf over his shoulder. This man would right the wrong, if a girl was harassed by someone she'd go to him and he'd beat up whoever was doing the harassing. If somebody was wronged in anyway he'd go and right that wrong. He operated on the principle of nakhwa or chivalry. I don't know what he did about money, but I think at the time these places were not poverty stricken so whatever he did it was enough to keep him happy. In Iraq this type of character was called Futuwa, in Egypt it's Mi'allim, and in the Sham (Syria Palestine Lebanon) it's Abadhai (I'm not 100% sure about this, if you're from those countries please confirm or correct this fact).

Well when the British, French and other European countries came as uninvited guests for anywhere from 50 to 120 years to the middle east and north Africa. They were there to stay, and accordingly they tried to change the social norms, customers and governance systems to model their own more enlightened system. The causes for these changes are still felt today in the many social diseases and problems in the Arab world,

One change that happened was the change in power structures, the colonizing power was not the police, that or the corrupt indigenous police force under the control of the colonizers anyway. The previous mode of order (Futuwa and the like) having lost their power and I'm guessing since the allocation of resources changed. Evolved to a more deformed image of their previous selves. Now they were known for being the bag guy. The bully who takes people's money and who wrongs people himself and in many cases no one can stop him. Or sometimes they would work for money. So they were be paid to disrupt a rally by a political party asking for reforms etc... 

Even when the British and other powers left after installing puppet regimes, those futuwa stayed. Now under a new name reflecting their changed dispositions (Shaqi). However it seemed the puppet regimes were the bigger fish. At the time of Abdul Karim Qasim those futuwa were collected and brutalized through torture and imprisonment and basically to stay home and die. In one year. This phenomenon of the Shaqi died out, never to be seen again. 

The government now acted very similarly to a shaqi in all Arab counties. They protected the people from outside danger, they provided infrastructure and policing etc... to give some semblance of a state. But at the end of the day ALL Arab governments siphoned off the majority of their country's money for themselves and their cronies while the masses starved and themselves became deformed. The government was the bigger fish. This has been going on since the beginning of the century.

Enter the new Era, Iraq has been invaded by the US under false pretenses. The old system (secular0 socialism) is completely changed and Democracy is installed. The US is now siphoning hundreds of billions of dollars of Iraq's money directly and indirectly while providing a semblance of democracy while at the same time allowing the corrupt puppet government militias to bully the masses. Bullying now is the form of massacres, rapes, torture and unlawful imprisonment.

The US is now the bigger fish.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

East and West story

An amazing story worthy of sharing for all Arabs. I'll translate it when I have time.

هل يمكن لامتنا ان تنهض؟؟!! - قصه حقيقيه موجهه لجميع العراقيين
كتابات - د.معتز الصباح 

منذ نعومه اضفاري كنت اسمع والدي (ادام الله ظله علينا) يردد عباره ( عيش وشوف ازرع كطن يطلع صوف)!! كنت لا اعرف معناها لكن قافيتها عجبتني فكنت ارددها دائما عسى ان افهمها عند الكبر وكان هذا في ثمانينيات القرن الماضى . 

مضت الايام ودخلت مرحله الشباب وبدأت افكر في حال الامه وبالاخص مجتعنا العراقي فرأيت دكتاتورا تصفق له الجماهير بمناسبه وبغير مناسبه مع انه اذل القوم وسفك دمائهم صحيح ان هناك من يجبر في مناسبه ما ان يمجد الدكتاتورويصفق له لكون حياته تصبح على المحك ولكن وجدت اناس يمجدوه ويصفقوا له دون مناسبه ويسفكون دماء من اجل ارضاءه ويصعدون على اكتاف الخيرين وعلى جثث الابرياء فصعدت الى العلا الدنيوي اراذل وطمر اخيار. 

بدأت ارى في اواخر التسعينات العجب العجاب من سلوكيات ابناء هذا المجتمع اناس تسعى الى الصعود باي ثمن دون استحقاق ويجرفون الخيرين في طريقهم ويقتلون طموحات اخرين وشبان خيرين. طفا الى السطح الكثير من الانتهازيين واصبحوا قاده وشرد الالاف من الكفاءات ودارت الامور بهذه الامه من سئ الى اسوأ. 

بدأ الانترنت يصلنا في 2002 وبدأت اطلع على احوال الامم وبالاخص الغربيه ووجدت انهم يتقدمون بنفس السرعه التي نتراجع بها وانا اتسأل نحن امه فضلها الله على بقيه الامم ونحن خير امه اخرجت للناس فنحن اهل الدين ومنبع النبوه والامم الغربيه ليست كذلك . اذن ما هذا التناقض؟ 

المهم اصبحت طبيبا وبلغ عمري 33 سنه وتغير النظام وسقط الدكتاتور وذهب الظلم واخذتني الغبطه وقلت في نفسي لدينا الفرصه لنلحق بالامم فثرواتنا اصبحت لنا وجاء من يعدل كفه الميزان . 

الى ان صادفتني انا شخصيا هذه التجربه..............! 

جائتني دعوه لحضور مؤتمرا طبيا في ايطاليا وفرنسا وكانت فرصه عظيمه لشاب طموح مثلي ان اطلع على ما وصلت له الامم ونقل تللك الخبره الى زملائى ومؤسساتنا الصحيه التي تحتضر والتي تمارس بعضها ممارسات ليس لها علاقه بالطب اصلا!!! 

اخذت موافقه رئيس القسم وعميد الكليه التي اعمل معيدا بها وذهبت الى رئاسه الجامعه لكي احصل على دعم مالي حسب توجيهات الوزاره التي شجعت المشاركه بتلك النشاطات الثقافيه في اوربا ووافق رئيس الجامعه ومسؤول القسم المالي على هذا التخصيص بعد شهرين من البيروقراطيه والتاخير !! ذهبت بعدها الى قسم البعثات والعلاقات الثقافيه لطبع الكتاب عند السيد............... رئيس القسم فدخلت الى مكتب ( معاليه ) فوجدت رجلا بلغ من العمر عتيا واصفرت اسنانه وازرقت شفتاه من النيكوتين فسلمته الكتاب وقرأه وقال: 

انته بعدك صغير على هيج مشاركات اذا انته بهلعمر تسافر لاوربا شخليت للكبار!!! 

فاستغربت كثيرا من رده وعذره فقلت له انا مسؤول ردهه الانعاش الوحيده في المحافظه والجمعيه الاوربيه قد اختارتني للمشاركه والمسؤولين الكبار في هذه المؤسسه قد وافقوا على تخصيص دعم مالي لانجاح المشاركه في هذه المؤتمر وكنت اول السباقين في هذا المجال . فاخذ الكتاب وذهب الى رئيس الجامعه وغير هامشه ليلغي امر ايفادي وقال البكلوريوس يحضرون ورشا تدريبيه وليس مؤتمرات! 

بعدها بشهر جائتني دعوه من جامعه كوبنهاكن الدنماركيه لحضور ورشه عمل في امراض القلب واخذا الموافقات الاصوليه وذهبت الى نفس العبقري وكان هذا في صيف 2008 فقال معاليه انني يجب ان اعرض الموضوع على مجلس الكليه وهو يعلم اننا في عطله صيفيه وان المجلس لن يجتمع من اجلي !! ثم قال بعد موافقه مجلس الكليه يجب عرضها على مجلس الجامعه وهو يعلم ان رئيس المجلس خارج العراق ولن يعود قبل ايلول 2008 وكان تدريبي سيبدأ بعد اسبوعين فقط من تقديم طلبي وان تاشيره الدخول تحتاج الى اسبوعين في الاقل. 

هذا هو الجانب الاسود من القصه لكن اسمعوا الجانب الابيض.... 

اتصلت بمسؤول التدريب وكان بروفسورا دنماركيا لم اتصل به من قبل قط فاخبرته ان حضور التدريب على نفقتي سيكلفني مبلغا طائلا لا استطيع الوفاء به فاخبرني ان امنحه فرصه ليبحث كيف يمكنه مساعدتي!! 

اتصل بي بعد يومين وقال لي ان احد المشاركين قد انسحب وفاض بعض المال لديهم فحوله لي ليدفع رسوم الاقامه واجور المشاركه في التدريب لي !! فسألت نفسي لماذا لم يضع الاستاذ الدنماركي ما فاض من المال في جيبه ؟؟ الا يعرف كيف يضع اسما وهميا و( يلغف ) ما بقي من المال كما يحصل في ( ولايه فرهود!!) 

بعده بيوم اتصل بي وقال انسحب شاب اخر وفاض مال اخر!! سادفع لك اجور الطيران كذلك لمساعدتك في الحضور! عجيب قلت في نفسي لماذا يسلك ذلك الدنماركي مثل هذا السلوك معي وانا لست من بلده ولا من دينه ولا من سنه ولا من مرتبته العلميه؟؟ 

ذهبت الى السفاره الدنماركيه وقدمت طلبا للحصول على تاشيره دخول واجابني القنصل ان نسبه الموافقه هي 1% فقط !! 

لماذا ؟ عرفت بسرعه . عادي اني عراقي! اتصلت بالرجل الطيب واخبرته ان هناك مشكله في السفاره فقال انا ساتكفل بالامر! 

اتصل الرجل بوزراه الخارجيه الدنماركيه وكفلني هناك واتصل بي وقال ان الفيزا قد صدرت لي فعلا وعلي الذهاب لاستلامها!! الامر الذي اثار استغراب موظفي السفاره حول سرعه اصدار الفيزا وكيف اني عرفت بامر اصدارها حتى قبل السيد القنصل نفسه؟!! 

استلمت الفيزا يوم الخميس وكان الجمعه عطله رسميه لم احصل على حجز طيران وعلي الحضور يوم الاحد هناك 

فاتصلت بالرجل الطيب وعرضت عليه مشكلتي وقال لي ساحجز لك الكترونيا على الخطوط البريطانيه وستصلك تذكره السفر خلال دقائق!! 

وفعلا وصلت !! ذهبت الى دمشق وراجعت مكتب الخطوط البريطانيه وقالوا لي انني لا يمكنني الطيران لعدم امتلاكي تاشيره دخول مؤقته الى لندن حيث ساهبط ( ترانزيت) 

كيف احل تللك المصيبه بعد كل هذا العناء لن اتمكن من السفر؟؟! 

كيف تعتقدون انى وجدت حلا؟ طبعا اتصلت بالرجل الطيب واخبرته بالمشكله وقد (اعتذر لي ) لعدم معرفته بتلك المساله وبعث لي بتذكره الكترونيه اخرى على متن الخطوط التركيه حيث الامر لن يحتاج الى تاشيره مؤقته!!! 

طارت بي التركيه باتجاه كونبهاكن وانا اكاد لا اصدق ما فعله ذلك البروفسور . لماذا قدم لي هذا العون الفائق وهو لا يعرف عني أي شئ وكنت اقارن دائما موقفه مع موقف ( المسلم ابن بلدي ) مسؤول قسم البعثات والعلاقات الثقافيه في جامعتي 

في الدنمارك شاهدت قوما اخرين واخلاق اخرى وتوجه اخر يختلف عن ما شاهدته في بلدي اختلافا عظيما!! 

عندما رجعت الى العراق سألني زملائي : ماذا تعلمت؟ اجبتهم : عرفت ( ليش الله موفقهم ) الان تم الاجابه على تساؤلاتي منذ الصغر لماذا الامم الغربيه في عليين وامتنا اسفل سافلين!! 

قصه موجهه الى جميع العراقيين 

نعيب زماننا والعيب فينا وما في زماننا عيب سوانا 

رحم الله نزار قباني عندما قال: 

نصنع من اشرافنا انذالا نصنع من اقزامنا ابطالا 

نرتجل البطوله ارتجالا تنابلا كسالى 

ونشحذ النصر على اعدائنا من عنده تعالى 

ارواحنا تشكو من الافلاس 

ايامنا محصوره بين الزار والكأس والنعاس 

هل نحن خير امه اخرجت للناس؟

Monday, July 04, 2011

Why I hate russians

A friend of mine complained recently that her visa application to russia was taking for ever because of all the bureaucracy, red tape and paperwork involved to applying for a Visa. I found myself thinking; why on earth would anyone ever want to go to russia ?
I found that thought to be very strange, since I usually love travelling to different countries and I don't remember thinking the same about any other country. I was even thinking of going to israel at some point !

Another friend is currently in iran seeing the sights and staying with people. Though I feel sometimes a tinge of tension, I would actually love to visit iran. This acceptance of iran is quite recent. As a person who lived through the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war. I grew up on a steady but continuous diet of propaganda against anything iranian or Persian. One interesting thing is that since iraq was at the time a secular socialist regime. Religion didn't feature prominently in said propaganda. I vividly remember comics and cartoons of angry hateful iranians (always referred to as Furce, meaning persians) living a life of violence and paid amongst themselves with the tacit understanding that they want to export that paradigm of hate to iraq.
I remember reading a warped version of history in which Iraq was invaded was those hateful alien Furce when the arabs kicked them out at the battle of Qadisya. A completely Arabcentric secular perversion of history completely blotting out the persian civilisation, islam, the centuries of shared culture or the shia sunni issue. I am still impressed by the iraqi government's Orwellian control of young iraqi children's minds through this control of history and media.
I even remember there was a species of ants which were especially large which also were able to bite quite painfully. We used yo call them naml farisi-persian ants.

Eventually later on as I developed a passion for rereading history, and of course my migration from iraq to New Zealand and then australia. I started recognizing the propaganda patterns more clearly.

All the while though, due to the cold war. There was a much more subversive and powerful propaganda campaign launched by the US against Russia (the soviet union) during the cold war. This wasn't some small third world effort with second rate cartoons and some history books. THIS WAS A GLOBAL EFFORT TO DEMONIZE A MORTAL GLOBAL ENEMY. So the world's most prolific producer of propaganda and movies gave us such jewels as Rocky4 and Rambo3 and countless other movies and television programs making sure that all Americans and anyone watching those high budget overly simplified black/white good guy/bad guy movies would always root for, and love, and seek to iemulate Americans while at the same time hating, fearing and wanting nothing to do with Russians.
It doesn't matter that the cold war is over now. It only matters that at the end of the cold war i am still not at peace with my Russia phobia. And that's what it is. A phobia caused by years of watching American movies. Since then I've tried to read up about Russian history and culture. Yeah...

This brings me to the next wave in American propaganda movies against Arabs and Muslims. Since the 1980s a new campaign of anti Arab anti Islamic propaganda has been gaining momentum. Then after 9/11 it got that catalyst that has catapulted anti Islamism to new heights. Now it's not just movies, magazines editors, writers, academics and failed politicians have found that demonizing Islam and Muslims to be the ace card they need for fame and fortune. Much of what is said is full of misinformation, inaccuracies and sometimes blatant lies, but in a society made fearful for its safety and identity. That is of little importance. It's only important to rally passionately around what we determine as us against this (again) Orwellian orgy of hated and fear.

So now there are expression and terms which are hated and feared whithout a clear understanding of what they mean. Terms like sharia, jihad, khilafa etc..

So now people are scared of me(not so much me because i don't satisfy the look of the classic evil Muslim ). People are scared of my sister when the call her a fucking terrorist at a shopping center or my wife who got told to fuck off with her bomb somewhere else as she walked by a bus stop. This happens everyday to thousands of Muslim around the west because of this sustained islamophobia campaign. Fueled again by Hollywood movies.
I apologise to Russians if i caused you offense. I promise to visit Russia at some point, after i visit Iran of course.
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