Posts Tagged ‘arab world’

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A Letter to My Belly

January 6, 2012

Only one week before your birth, only 7 days before you become an autonomous human being. I am feeling insomniac and stressed like never before. It’s worse than waiting for an exam results, a feedback on an interview or a message from a loved one. This is the countdown for LIFE. So I decided to do what I do best: writing therapy. Yet, it feels much more difficult and serious than writing an article for a newspaper or a note for my blog. This is writing a letter for an unknown being inside my belly, my son.

I remember the day your father proposed to me. I was in Morocco and he was in Egypt in the middle of an apocalyptic demonstration where he was seeing people being shot around him, furious youth chanting, and a smell of spring and hope in the air. No romantic speech, no diamond ring, no leaning on his knees, just a ‘’If I die tonight, the only thing I will regret is not marrying you and if I survive and Mubarak’s regime collapses it will be a sign that everything is possible and that we are meant to be together’’… and I said Yes!

I remember how I felt when one morning one month after our big fat Moroccan wedding; I woke up feeling dizzy and strange as if I sensed an unusual presence in my body. Your father and I went to the doctor all confused, and in the echography screen there was a cell and inside the cell a tiny white blinking spot, ‘’it’s the heart of your baby!’’ said the doctor. From that moment I fell in love with you even before you becoming a proper human being!

There are many things I need to apologize to you for. First for dragging you around in 4 continents for the last 9 months on planes, trains, cars, boats, buses and microbuses. If you choose later to become a hard rock musicians I won’t blame you because I will be responsible for that one! However, you can consider yourself a lucky child who has lots of experience even from within, and you can put on your CV that you met Sheikha Mozah, Ban Ki-Moon, and Erdogan, visited the State Department, the Council of Europe and the NATO, had dinner with Marzouky, Hermes and tata Corinne, smelled Musk, Hash and Tear Gas, and tasted Caviar, Foul, and Couscous…

I also need to apologize to you for violating your intimacy, exposing you on social media and nicknaming you Sardina. Forgive me baby, but my friends and family are all around the globe and the joy of having you is so big that I needed to share it with the world. For the Sardina part, I think no matter what we will name you on formal papers by now everyone know you with your nickname. I even surprised your father one Ramadan night praying God and saying ‘’Please God bless and protect my son Sardina’’, so even up there they know Mr. Sardina Mohamed Awad!

Furthermore, I need to apologize for bring you to the world in such a date, where our region is living a turmoil and everything is uncertain. I know the earth is overcrowded and over polluted with toxic wastes and hatred speech and maybe the fruits won’t taste the same as when I was a kid myself, nor the landscapes will be as green. Yet, I can promise you that there will still be flowers to smell, seashells to collect, books to read and animals to play with.

I will not impose on you my taste, my choices, my religion, nor my political views, because I believe that the clever baby you are already have inside of him the light of the truth. Therefore I will do my best to help you keep that flame alive. In addition, I don’t want to impose on you my Moroccan culture or your father’s Egyptian culture, with all our heritage of chauvinism, guilt, schizophrenia and frustrations. Even if I had the chance and the strong temptation, I didn’t want to give birth to you in the US or Europe for offering you a blue passport, as I don’t want to doom you to a history, an anthropology or a geography. I would like you to be proud of being a fruit of a multicultural love, to have access not only to our two cultures but to all cultures and to choose by your own where your heart belongs to.

Finally baby I am asking you to give me a chance to learn how to be your mother. I confess having no previous experience for this risky job. I have tried my best reading books, singing songs and caressing you while inside my belly, but I know that it takes more than that to be a good mother. You didn’t choose to be my son, while I chose to be your parent. That’s why I am sorry if I don’t meet your expectations, if I am chaotic, idealistic and badly prepared for the adventure of motherhood. All I have to offer for sure in my unconditional and infinite Love. Would you accept it?

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Confessions of Ali, a Revolutionary Opportunist

May 27, 2011

Revolutions are made of some few idealistic, committed and honest people and thousands of opportunists who go with the crowd, seize the moment and mobilize a noble fight for their personal sick materialistic or psychological interests. These specimens are often misunderstood and hiding their intentions in the shadows of their dark minds. I will be enjoying today doing the autopsy of Ali, a revolutionary opportunist from the Arab World.

Profile: I am not too tall, not too short, not too handsome, not too ugly, an average guy from an average family, who was average in my studies, my personal life and in my career. I always felt misunderstood and gifted in a way that I cannot explain. Sometimes I feel like killing or making suffer these people who have better girl friends, better cars and better job positions, but I can’t because I am too coward, so I spend my time stabbing them on their backs and gossiping about how life can be unjust with an average citizen like me.

Motivation: Revolutionary winds are shifting powers in the Middle East, this is maybe my chance to shine and become a star. I have no principals except my Marlboro Light and my daily Beer at the bar with my friends over a good Barca match. Ideology? Are you kidding me ? the best ideology is to be against EVERYONE, and EVERYTHING, ALL THE TIME. It makes me look intellectual and critical in front of innocent girls I want to flirt with during the debates I have in the coffee shop.

Why I do this? Well I find it not fair that Youssef has a BMW where I only have a Renault. I hate the fact that I only get 1000euro per month whereas Asmae gets 5000, and why the hell does amine get to party every night when I just can afford going out twice a week? See how unjust is my country and my society? Yeah and all that health, education and poverty stuff the media talks about!

To say the truth, I was always dreaming about being in some kind of opposition of some kind of issue and being interviewed by some kind of media and telling them some kind of lies that the masses love to hear. Nothing can flatter my ego like receiving admiring phone calls and praising comments on my facebook wall, and maybe even meeting some of that open-minded girls who participate in demonstrations. I heard that they are very flexible about sexual intercourses! That’s what I call a revolution man! And at the end of all this mess I may become a parliamentary member for the party of lemons and bananas or even a minister of Islamic Affairs! God bless the revolution!

Steps to follow: it’s all easy, I have to grow up my hair and my beard, wear a shirt with the face of Che Guevara, a purple Palestinian Kofeya  and go everyday to the bars and coffee shops where the pseudo-intellectuals gather, until they all become my friends, so I start telling them fake adventures about the day I was beaten by the police and the day I did a hunger strike at the ministry of interior. Next step is to create a blog where I insult the king, the army, the police, the media, God and even my mother if it can be useful, without forgetting to update my twitter and facebook account with news and articles and sharing revolutionary statements like: ‘’I will die for my country’’, ‘’we will not fall until the regime falls’’, ‘’with our resistance we will break the chains of injustice’’…

In action: I am not interested in spending the night at the square or in front of the parliament because I cherish too much my body for that, but I convince my band of revolutionaries that I spend the night doing grater missions lobbying for our cause (with my play station) and protecting my neighbourhood from thieves (while sleeping 12 hours every night on a cosy bed). My favourite moments are when I take the microphone at the demonstrations and exteriorise all my frustration. I truly get my inspiration and anger from the memory of Youssef stealing my lollypop at first grade. That traumatised me for the rest of my life. I also enjoy speaking to lost foreign media reporters I meet in the square, to whom I introduce myself as the leader of the leaders of the revolution and an expert of social media and political analyst and journalist and human rights activists and representative of the cats and dogs initiative for the freedom of donkeys and ponies. I always explain to them ‘’how much the situation is complicated and the inequality is prevailing and that the youth of this country are ready to die for liberation because all of them have lost their lollypops with a tyrant dictator’’.

Look around you and tell me how many of Ali you can see in your direct surroundings nowadays. How many people just became revolutionaries just two days ago, without cleaning the street, educating their children on democratic ideals, helping the poor, planting a rose or spreading hope? Remember that Kaddafi, Mubarak, Ali Abdallah Saleh or Ben Ali were all of them one day revolutionary opportunists like my Ali!

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What if the US invades Libya?

March 12, 2011

Who would have thought that a country like Libya who was a geopolitical Terra Nullius for the past 40 years, would become at the very centre of international debates and strategies? Libya is a very ancient civilization which enjoys a strategic position in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, rich with its generous oil reserves. Yet, Kaddafi erased Libya from the maps since 1969 with two decades of isolation, embargo, dictatorship, absence from the Union from the Mediterranean, and caricatural political positions.

If we learnt something since January from the Arab turmoil, it would be that no matter how logical and accurate you keep your analysis it cannot be applied to the Arab world, and I am using the constructed term ‘’the Arab World’’ consciously because I believe in the rise of a neo-panarabism in the region. So if we follow the illogical and unexpected series of events, we can imagine everything including a US invasion of Libya: ‘’Surprise! Surprise!’’

People familiar with international relations would understand that severe violations of human rights and crime against humanity can justify interference in the internal issues of a sovereign country according to the UN doctrine, and Mr. Kaddafy who is raiding and bombarding massively his population in front of international cameras has given all justifications for a military invasion of Tripoli. And any person, who was following the events during the past 10 years, would deduce that it took less than that for the US to invade Iraq and Afghanistan! But we all know that no country will engage in warfare out of charity and compassion, unless it has some interests to defend, and the US real-politics machine seems to have several interests in Kaddafiland:

– Saharian Africa and Al Qaida of the Islamic Maghreb: With the conflicts in Sudan which the US is having a hard time controlling with the presence of the French in the Tchad-Darfur situation and the Chinese domination over the economy and the oil companies, and with the annoying presence of Al Qaida of the Islamic Maghreb in Saharian Africa, the US will have a on-field control over the situation if it get stationed in Libya which is well in the centre of all this, and maybe the King of Kings of Africa Muamar Kaddafi will leave his throne to the Afro-American King Mr. Obama.

– The Mediterranean: We have the feeling since the end of the Cold War that more or less the European Union is a solo player in the Mediterranean with its neighbourhood policy and newly born Union for the Mediterranean. We don’t need to mention how important is the Mediterranean for international trade, NATO, migration flows, and intercultural dialogue, so we can imagine easily the US wanting a share of the tomatoes, cheese and olive oil Quiche.

– Mashrek and Maghreb: The US has already a hand in Iraq at the eastern edge of the Middle East, and had strong allies in North Africa in the person of the falling dictatorships, so no wonders that in a situation where it would be very problematic to control Egypt directly because of the high political awareness of the populations and the high pressure of international media and Arab lobbies in the west, it would be wiser to target a country which is next door but which has a less significant emotional importance for the rest of the Arab public opinion. If the US invades Libya, it will have eyes and hands East and West and would protect the interests of Israel more closely.

– The Oil benefits: Libya has one of the biggest reserves of oil in the world. Unfortunately its incomes were scattered around following Kaddafi’s fantasies without benefiting directly to the Libyan people. Without focusing too much on the oil factor, it remains an important argument if the US plans any attacks.

As a counter-argument we can mention that the Obama administration is a hardcore Republican, and is too clever to commit such a mistake. We have witnessed that contrarily to Democrats, the Obama regime is more focused on internal issues and giving more weight to intelligence and alternative diplomacy in terms of its foreign policy, rather than military intervention which was the biggest shame of the Bush cabinet. However, 2011 is the year of all surprises and everything remains possible!

If a US invasion to Libya becomes a reality, Kaddafi would have done to the Libyan citizens what is worse than oppression, tyranny, and extermination: ‘’Occupation’’

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A Picture of Mohamed, Ahmed, Hosni, Hassan or Hussein

January 26, 2011

Black and White Picture:

When you were born in the late 70s and early 80s there was a black and white picture hang in the birth registration office. The picture represents a thin man with a military suite. That man’s name is n. He claims that he united the country, that he has beaten the enemy, that he will reform all the legislative and executive powers of the state, and that he is your hero.

Sepia Picture:

You start going to school and there is a sepia picture of Mohamed, Ahmed, Hosni, Hassan or Hussein, but this time he is wearing a modern suite and Rayban glasses. He became friend with the so called ‘’enemy’’, he ‘’united’’ the country around values of corruption, dependency and fraud, he did many reforms at the legislative and executive powers of the state to allow his family member, military friends and foreign investors to dominate the politics and the economy, and to allow himself to remain in his golden chair for long time, and he is still claiming himself your ‘’hero’’.

Coloured Picture:

Things get hard for you, you live your first love stories and have the features of a real woman/man by now and you go to the university. In the conference hall there is a well situated picture of Mohamed, Ahmed, Hosni, Hassan or Hussein. The picture is in colours, but he seems getting fat while the shopping purse of your family is getting small. Your former enemy is now called the potential investor and tourist, the country is very united except when there are ethnic, religious, ideological or tribal tensions, which happens more and more often. Reforms are doing ‘’great’’, the telecommunications, water, electricity, tobacco, gaz, cement, and even sewage and your wastes are privatized to foreign companies. You start looking in history, philosophy books, and Indian movies and even in football player for someone you can call a hero.

Photoshoped Picture:

Maturity is not easy to face when you have a miserable job which destroys your self esteem every day, when you start avoiding your girl friend’s questions because you have empty pockets and a heart full of dreams that will not satisfy you daily needs as a couple. You walk in the streets thinking about a solution, and on the corner there is a banner with a huge picture of Mohamed, Ahmed, Hosni, Hassan or Hussein. The picture is photoshoped in order to reduce his belly and to give a lifting to his old face. You examine yourself with your hand, and you start thinking that you would use of some photoshop magical touches too. You receive a notification on your Gmail from your Facebook on your Blackberry about a demonstration. You change your Profile picture, push the Like button, update your status and send a message to your friends on BBM. After all, he is maybe a real hero. We are having a pretty good life! Why we always compare ourselves to other countries? We are a Special case!

Burned Picture:

You roll a join of hash or go to the mosque to reach a status of peace and forget that your girlfriend married an engineer in Kuwait, that your parents are getting old and tired, that Mody the son-in-law of the manager got the promotion you were dreaming of,. In the street there is a growing noise of young people like you shouting. You follow the voice and found a burned picture of Mohamed, Ahmed, Hosni, Hassan or Hussein. The demonstrations are calling for real reforms for withdrawing the man in the picture and for some dignity for people like you and me. You belong to a generation that never thought revolutions really exist, that they are just old people’s tales, that you will live and die and leave Mohamed, Ahmed, Hosni, Hassan or Hussein as a heritage for your kids. Well, in the name of all this generation who has been digging and digging with our broken fingers, scratching and scratching with our weakened pens, kicking and kicking with our tired legs… now we can see some light at the end of the tunnel and the Hero who made it happen can be called YOU if you help us digging!

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Jasmine for Egypt “مسائك فل يا مصر”

January 17, 2011

I prepared a tea with jasmine to celebrate the Tunisian revolution, and I sat in front of my notebook to do my morning tour on facebook. The red of the Tunisian flag masked the blue of the social network, and the videos and caricatures of ‘’Zin El Haribiin’’ – as the online community call him – covered the pages of most of Arab users. Yet, what I would like to share with you here are the facebook statuses and their trends from one country to another with a special focus on the country of my heart: Egypt.

Self-Immolation – burning one’s body with fire- is not like burning a DVD on a computer. It is a holy act symbolising purification by fire in ancient religions which became on the 60s a Bonzo Buddhist way of protestation against oppression, and on the 80s and 90s a signature of the PPK ‘’Kurdish Workers Party’’ to attract the attention of the world. However, we are witnessing a unique rise of this phenomenon in the Arab world. First the Tuk-Tuk  suicides in Egypt and now a graduated Tunisian who burned himself and started a revolution on the streets and on the internet. The story of this hero chocked the Arab facebook population, and produced a flow of comments and statuses. 

It is not surprising how the Egyptian humor took over the guilt and the shame of not doing a revolution of their own. I saw somewhere that the more oppressed are the people; the more their humor is strong and creative as a way to exteriorize the pressure they undergo. The jokes talked the Ben Ali escape, the comparison with Egypt, the Arab leadership with a sparkle of Adil Emam and Advertisement quotes which only Egyptians can understand, like : ‘’Tunisia chose change, and Egypt chose Shipsy with shrimps’’! Well I allow myself to criticise the Egyptian reaction, because I left my heart in Alexandria and I feel real concern and love for this country. I was laughing with amusement at first while reading the comments, but later I felt the bitterness of disgust in my through and the tears filling my eyes. I started repeating to myself, here they go again laughing about it instead of taking action. Here they go again spending all their energy in longue articles, analysis and poems instead of standing up for justice! 

We all know Tunisia is not Egypt, not anthropologically, not geopolitically and not politically! The foreign powers sat on their shares watching the former Tunisian Regime collapsing without a move because they have pragmatically no interest in the land of the Cathagians except from some mild investments here and there. Yet, Egypt is the neighbour of a boiling Sudan in the south, and You Know Who in the east, and all the super powers invested so much in the stability of the region to risk it like this. Without getting into the details of the nature of the Egyptian elites, the problematic of the army or the heterogeneity of the dominating ideologies in the country, let’s just admit that Egypt is ready for its revolution to the extent that we hear the countdown tic-tac of the bomb in the air, but not in the Tunisian way in the Egyptian way which unfortunately will be bloody and spectacular enough for a 80 million inhabitant and a 5 millennia of history. 

For the Moroccan facebook population we can note three trends. The first one is the total support and happiness of Moroccans for the second liberation of Tunisia after 1956. However, most people on my list didn’t express any envy or desire to import the revolution to their kingdom. The second trend is the minority of intellectuals who had a really out of context discourse about having a Moroccan Revolution! What is amazing about this second trend is that the revolutionary fever took the people to the extent that sounded like being in Burma not in Morocco, and being just angry in general without précising what is the real subject or object of their anger! The third trend is the most intriguing for me, as some Moroccans were promoting for an Algerian Revolution against the army in the country. I wonder is it out of solidarity between neighbors, or a hidden hope to see the supporters of the Polisario on their knees. 

Regarding our friends from the Gulf countries, I didn’t notice much concern about what happened as if Tunisia was a small island next to Madagascar far from the minds and hearts. The few comments I saw were from a religious point of view, explaining how Ben Ali was banning Hijab and religious symbols and how the Tunisian believers are liberated now on. Watch this discourse, because it is from this part of the Arab body that the capitals come from!

Finally, the heroes of the day: the Tunisians! If they didn’t call the revolution the Jasmine Revolution, I would call it the Internet Revolution. Tunisians were acting as live reporters from their street corners reporting to the world the bloody confrontations with the Police. We witnessed a high quality of information, up-to-date news and sense of patriotism from the people living in Tunisia and the Diaspora living abroad. While the Tunisian national TV was broadcasting documentaries about zebras and crocodiles, the average Tunisian was shouting online his glory to the world. 

At the end I would love to offer a necklace of Jasmine to Egypt on the 25th of January. One of those ‘’Ful’’ ornaments sold by young gipsy girls on the cornice to busy drivers stuck in the jam of life who forget how frail is a jasmine flower and how refreshing is its smell, just like the smell of freedom. Massa’k Ful ya Masr!