Saturday, December 31, 2011

Afghan child bride tortured

Another Afghan tragedy reported by Yahoo

An Afghan child bride on Saturday spoke of how she was tortured by her mother-in-law who locked her in a toilet for six months, beat her, pulled out her fingernails and burned her with cigarettes.

Sahar Gul, 15, is recovering in hospital in Kabul, her face bruised and swollen, her skin still bearing the marks of her ordeal, barely able to speak.

Police have said she was locked up when she defied her in-laws who tried to force her into prostitution. Her brother had sold her to her husband about seven months ago for $5,000.

"For several months I was locked up in toilet by my in-laws and particularly my mother-in-law," she managed to tell media in a frail voice during a visit from Afghan health minister Dr Suraya Dalil.

"I was denied food and water. I was tortured and beaten."

The minister said it was an example of "increased cases of violence against women in Afghanistan".

Women continue to suffer in Afghanistan despite billions of dollars of international aid which has poured into the country during the decade-long war.

Dalil said Gul was suffering from severe blood loss, with multiple burns and injuries.

"She is also suffering from trauma and psychological problems," she said.

"She is still a child, below the legal age of marriage. She is only 15 and from a remote part of the country. It's a tragic and heartbreaking story for Afghanistan."

Shoulda seen that coming: Hamas bans fortune tellers in Gaza

From Ma'an
Hamas cracks down on fortune-tellers, mannequins

The Hamas-run government has launched a series of campaigns targeting fortune-tellers, mannequins and cigarette vendors in the Gaza Strip.

Police sources told Ma'an that 142 fortune tellers were forced to sign an agreement at the Ministry of Interior pledging that they would not practice their craft.

As well as predicting the future, fortune tellers sell amulets for protection and are sometimes called on to solve personal or family problems.

Another campaign targets boutiques displaying lingerie on mannequins. Police officials told Ma'an that security forces inspected clothes shops across the Gaza Strip and warned owners not to display naked mannequins, lingerie or "indecent advertisements."

Police are also targeting vendors selling smuggled cigarettes and tobacco, confiscating their goods, police suorces said.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Women's Equality in Gaza

Palestinian women who are members of Hamas security forces march with Kalashnikovs in Gaza during a graduation ceremony for new recruits in Gaza City

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What would Freud say? Cleric bans womens from handling bananas, cucumbers

I'm not making this up. You do trust me, don't you?

Read it here

An Islamic cleric living in Europe said that women should not be close to bananas or cucumbers, in order to avoid any “sexual thoughts.” The unnamed cleric, was quoted saying that if women wish to eat these food items, a third party, preferably a male related to them such as their a father or husband, should cut the items into small pieces and serve.

Carrots and zucchini are also forbidden to women.

Answering another question about what to do if women in the family like these foods, the sheikh advised the interviewer to take the food and cut it for them in a hidden place so they cannot see it.

I guess Daikon radish are also out.

More Muslim Zionists leaving the Closet

From Ray Cook's Blog As I See It – Israel, Zionism and the Media

“Life is a lot happier when you don’t hate as much”

Thus said Kasim “Kaz” Hafeez in the final session of the Politics thread at the Big Tent For Israel in Manchester on November 27th.

Kaz was part of a panel discussing “How to change the narrative in the Muslim community”.

He told an enraptured audience how he had very nearly ended up in a Jihadi training camp; how he was brought up to hate Israel and Jews.

Kaz, whose website, attempts to describe the current anti-Israel and antisemitic trends of Islam in the UK and abroad and put the record straight, made a huge impression on several hundred people, mostly Jewish, assembled in the International Suite of the Piccadilly Hotel in central Manchester.

Even though I knew his story, I was moved to simultaneous tears and laughter as Kaz told us how he is a Zionist and has the Israeli flag on his desk at work.

Tears, because the idea of any non-Jew, let alone a Muslim, proudly declaring himself a Zionist and lover of Israel is profoundly moving. We, the Jewish people, are so inured to hate and being despised that when we find we are not alone, that we have friends, that is worth a few tears of pride and relief.

Laughter, because the idea of a proud, practising Muslim displaying the Israeli flag at work is very amusing.

Then Kaz came out with the quote of the year: “Life is a lot happier when you don’t hate as much”.

Everything is contained in that one phrase; life, love, happiness, toleration, respect.

This perfectly describes the solution to what troubles so much of the world today.

Hate. Unthinking, bigoted, hatred fuels the world’s ills.

Such is the hatred much of the Arab and Muslim world feels, especially for Jews. It is this hatred which drives Islamists to acts of violence, not just against Jews, but against other Muslims, Christians and Hindus.

Are they happy in their hate? I doubt it. How can you be happy to hate?

Hatred is not confined to Muslims. Yet it is Islamist terror and intolerance that characterises the beginning of the 21st century.

Kaz made me cry because he offers hope. He offers hope that Muslims and Jews, Israel and Palestine, can put aside hate and learn tolerance and respect.

It gives me the hope that, in this country, Kaz and those like him, such as Hasan Afzal, can have some influence in their community to stop the hate and lies and half-truths.

If Kaz can do a 360 degree turn, surely many more can manage 180?

How did Kaz learn to be happier? He read, he studied and he had the strength of character and moral courage to go see for himself. he had the honesty to see that everything he had been taught was wrong.

I said to another Muslim at the conference: “We don’t expect Muslims to be Zionists, we just want a fair hearing”. Not the most profound statement I’ve ever made, but it’s true.

Cut the hate and have an honest discussion. Criticise, don’t demonise. Tolerate don’t delegitmise.

It was a great conference and I heard many wonderful things, but Kaz’s simple, heartfelt, unprepared statement will always be the memory and the inspiration I carry from the conference. All the hours, all the hard work, all the arguments and stress were worth it to hear that one axiomatic utterance -

“Life is a lot happier when you don’t hate as much”

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Syrian Blogger Razan Ghazzawi Arrested

The real "Gay Girl of Damascus" is missing.

From her blog:
"I was born in the US but never lived there. My parents went to KSA where we lived for 10 years in Jaddah. Then they went back to Syria and now we’re based in Damascus.

After I graduated from English literature department in Damascus University, I wanted to pursue my studies so I went to Lebanon and spent five years of my life there.

I enjoy photography, drawing cartoons, and writing Arabic articles which I do not do most of the time.

I am vegetarian, genderqueer and kind of pissed of at everything. But a person who cries genuinely while watching Daddy Long Legs cartoon".

Razan Ghazzawi "Redrazan", one of the few Syrian activists who blogs under her real name has been arrested at the Syrian-Jordanian border. She was on her way to attend a workshop for advocates of press freedoms in the Arab world.

Raza was the Media Officer at Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression A statement issued by the Center said Razan Ghazzawi was arrested by police and immigration officials at the border. The Local Coordination Committees activist network confirmed her arrest Sunday.

Ghazzawi is a human rights advocate and had been documenting violations and arrests in Syria since the start of the uprising against President Bashar Assad in March.

Accordering to her friends, her Facebook page has been taken down. Her last tweet was Dec. 2. Razan has been in hiding in Syria for the past few months.

Lets keep the pressure up until Razan is free.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The global march to Jerusalem: the latest provatilla

Its all about keeping up the pressure- of poking and prodding and teasing and tormenting, until there is an explosion. Then we get to cry victim hood.
The latest provocation is the Global march to Jerusalem, organized by the Iranian theocrats of the United Ummah. The basic theme of the march is that Israel is illegitimate, and has no right to defend herself or to protect her borders. The plan is to amass tens of thousands on the borders of Israel, no doubt with women and children front and center, (after all, women and children first is a sign of chivalry, is it not?) The goal is to ' peacefully" invade this sovereign nation. The underlying thought is particularly scary, and its something you'll never read about in the mainstream media. There is an Islamic End of days scenario. This act is intended to trigger the end times.

Here's the promotional brochure for the Global March. Full color and glossy, so you know they are serious. And well funded.

The part I find disturbing in their plan is the complete denial of any Jewish ties to this holy city. Denying history, denying archeology, denying ourselves.
Well, three American students inadvertently entered Iran. They were jailed for years. But that's different.
Scary times ahead for all who really value peace

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Starving Gaza eating grass? I dont think so. The making of a skeptic

It wasn't that long ago that we- the collective "we" of the west- were told that Gaza was starving,and that the precious children were forced to eat grass in an effort to sustain life.

There was skepticism about this claim- we'd been shown, over and over, photos of starving children from Africa, after all. Those photos were indelibly etched on our minds as we drank our bubble teas and complained about food in the school cafeteria. I did a quick image search for starving African children for photos to post here- but it was too heartbreaking to look at. It made me, and others wonder. Where were the photos of starving Gazan children?

There were never any photos of starving children in Gaza. Ever.

The skeptism grew as the flotillas began. We all saw the photos of Lauren Booth in a fine looking seaside hotel. We saw the photos of her shopping at a well stocked grocery store.

For me, the skeptism reached a crescendo when ISM activists brought in the headmistress of a Gaza school to talk on campus. The woman was virtually spherical, and when she spoke of the starving children in her school, all I could think of was that scene from Oliver Twist, where the children beg for more gruel. If the children of Gaza were starving, the reason was obvious- she was eating their food.

More and more information leaked out from Gaza- some of it was the inadvertant work of activists, posting their personal photos on their blogs and independent news sites. We saw beautiful malls , hotels and restaurants in Gaza. We saw modern parks and recreational facilities. We saw cafes with wide screen TVs, water parks, equestrian resorts

More information leaked out. We learned of acclaimed restaurants like Roots in Gaza, with a 14 page western style menu.

And still, not a single photo of a starving child of Gaza.

We're learned recently that the Palestinians are spending tens of thousands of dollars on American public relations agencies to "manage" their image in the mass media, social media, and amongst people of power and influence.

The Palestinians have been told that their eternal victimhood routine isnt working with the American public. Sell the Palestinians as a real people, they were told. Make this about a real people's search for human rights.

A real people, though, has history. Culture. Collective memory that goes back more than a few generations.

A real people has food culture. And I present to you what $30,000 a month buys- a photo essay on the food and the flavors of Gaza

"Hot chile and dill: This is the quintessential modern Gazan spice combination. Whereas Lebanese cooks have no tolerance for spicy heat, and cooks from other parts of Palestine use it in moderation, Gazans take pride in making you sweat, whether using fresh green chile peppers crushed in a mortar with lemon and salt or else filfil mat'houn, ground red chile peppers preserved in oil and sold as a condiment and ingredient, resembling North Africa's popular harissa. The ubiquitous tabikh bamia, okra stew with oxtail, and molukhiyya, mallow soup, are both served with green chile and dill seeds crushed with lemon, cutting their dark tastes with a blaze of brightness. Chiles are ground with meat to make kofta kebab and they are mashed, in the uniquely Gazan clay bowls called zibdiya, to make Gaza's signature tomato salad, dagga. Sun-dried, the same peppers are used in winter dishes such as maftul, the Palestinian version of couscous, in which the chile is called "the bride of the maftul" (arusit al-maftul) for the modest and delicate way it perfumes the grains as they steam. "

Nothing about Starving Gaza.

Mine is just a plea, after all, for more honest rhetoric. The lies dont serve the people of Gaza- they dont brighten the darkness or serve the cause of peace. There is no starving Gaza- and there never was.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Haniyeh Dedicates new Gaza school

A new school was opened in Gaza this week, miraculously created out of duct tape and string , since no building materials are allowed in Gaza. It was dedicated by Prime Minister Dr Ismail Haniyeh, and named after Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

Photos from the Palestine Times:

Sheikh Ahmed Yassin In 1989, Yassin ordered Hamas to kidnap Israeli soldiers inside Israel, to murder them and bury their bodies in a manner that would allow Hamas to negotiate the exchange of bodies for Hamas prisoners, who would be released from jails in Israel. Yassin was arrested after the abduction and murders of IDF soldier Ilan Sa'adon, and Avi Sasports. He was tried in Israel and received two life sentences for his involvement the murders

A promotor of terror, of murder and racial hatred. This is who is deemed an appropriate role model for children in Gaza

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Oppressing Women

I liked this. Thanks, Noor for it sending it in. What do you think?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Israel's representative to Miss Earth Competition: Arab model Huda Naccache

Huda Naccache, a Arab model from Haifa will be representing Israel in the Miss Earth competition in Thailand this December. Thats some apartheid state.

But its Huda's appeareance on the cover of Lilac magazine thats really turning heads right now. The cover shoot was the first time an Arabic magazine in Israel has put a model in a bikini on its cover, and the first time an Israeli Arab model has been featured on a front page in so little clothing.

"I have a family that supports me very much and had no objections whatsoever to me appearing on the cover in a bikini," she says, seated in front of a mirror in a white and red string two-piece, prepping for another shoot.

"My father was very pleased when he saw it for the first time," she adds. "He said it was very beautiful and wished me good luck."

Lilac's editor Yara Mashour defends both Naccache and the cover shot, saying her magazine has been pushing boundaries since it was established in 2000 in Nazareth, home to the biggest Arab-Israeli population in the Jewish state. "Huda, in my opinion, is probably the only Arab model in this country who is a true professional. She has world-class qualities,"

Read all about it

Monday, October 31, 2011

Work accident in Gaza

From Ma'an

Mohammad al-Ghourani, 26 died in a blast in his Jabaliya refugee camp home on Monday, medics said.

(Its Israel's fault)

Al-Ghourani was handling a homemade explosive device when it detonated.

(Its Israel's fault)

Three of his relatives were transferred to hospital for shock, medics said.

(Its Israel's fault)

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said three children were injured last Wednesday when a suspicious object they were playing with exploded in northern Gaza town Beit Hanoun

(Its still Israel's fault)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Gaza: Where Murderers go for Rest and relaxation

Many of the ex-convicts released to Gaza in exchange for Gilad Shalit are staying at the 5 star Al-Mashtal hotel.

(Why, yes. Thats a wide screen TV and breakfast buffet in the Worlds largest open air prison)

These and more photos are available at the Palestine Times

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Israeli Arab refuses to Cut his hair During Gilad Shalit's Captivity

"It was hard for me to see this abduction destroy the peace process. Such a kidnapping is not courageous and is not based on the culture of Islam."
Mustafa Salim, on his solidarity w with Gilad protest

Mustafa Salim, 35, an Arab Israeli resident of the northern village of Muqaibla did not shave or cut his hair for more than five years until this week.

Salim, who stresses he is not a religious person, refused to cut his fair since Gilad Shalit was abducted into Gaza in 2006. On Tuesday, upon the completion of the prisoner swap deal and with Shalit's return home, he was finally able to shave and get a haircut.

Salim claims that his gesture drew much criticism. Many thought he had become more religious. "During this time I was in the territories quite often," he said. "And when they asked me I told the truth. Some said 'let Gilad Shalit die' and some supported me. I am very proud of what I did and of the State of Israel."

YNET has more

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Female Genital Mutilation: Running the numbers

From an article by Wendy Rose Gould;

1,400: The number of years that female genital mutilation has been performed, though some references estimate that girls have endured FGM for up to 2000 years. The practice begun during what Muslims refer to as the "era of ignorance."

3: The different types of female genital mutilation. The three include circumcision, or amputation of the clitoris; excision, removal of the labia minora and clitoris; and infibulation, the removal of labia majora, clitoris and labia minora. Girls who receive the latter often have their wounds stitched together will only a tiny opening for urination. In addition to these types, the vagina may also undergo pricking, piercing, incisions, scraping, burning or be introduced to corrosive substances and herbs to tighten the opening.

135 million: The number of girls and women worldwide who've experienced gential cutting. Consequences of FGM range from urinary infections to HIV to sterility to death.

92 million: The number of African girls who are 10 years old and above that have had their genitals removed.

3 million: The number of girls who are at risk of undergoing FGM annually.

7 and 10: The most common period of time in a woman's life to undergo FGM, according to the United Nations Population Fund.

10 - 14: The number of days that girls legs are bound after undergoing female genital mutilation. The legs are bound to make the girls immobile, which allows scar tissue to form.

25: The number of countries that have banned FGM and prosecute those who continue the practice.

171: The number of countries in the world that do not ban female genital mutilation.

Ms. Gould's work has appeared both online and in print for Hearst, Conde Nast, AOL, USA Today and other publications. She is an avid traveler who has lived abroad and traveled the world extensively. She holds a B.A. in Journalism and another in Philosophy.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Transgender in Lebanon

“Islam bans the purposeful act of someone transforming his or her sex,” says Sheikh Khaldoun Araymet, secretary general of the Higher Islamic Council in Lebanon, Dar al-Fatwa. “A human who suffers from this perplexing condition … is unbalanced in terms of his behavior, his religion and his psychological condition.”

FROM Being Transgender in Lebanon

AAccording to Simon (who requested that only his first name be used to protect his anonymity), a social worker at the gay rights organization Helem:

“The main challenges they face are social rejection … and discrimination when it comes to work,” says Simon. “They earn less than their colleagues, and that’s if they find a job … They get harassed in the street and often beaten.”

Simon says that as a result of the lack of employment opportunities, many transgender people turn to prostitution.

In Simon’s experience, the constant strain of social rejection often leads transgender people to consider suicide.

“Every transgender person I know has tried to commit suicide more than once,” he says.

Dr. Michael Khoury, a clinical psychologist based in Beirut who treats many transgender people, says that when they reach out to a health care professional, most are shunned.

“Lots of people try consulting doctors,” he says. “Most doctors in Lebanon faced with a transgender patient are inaccurate and condescending, if not downright abusive.”

As for receiving treatment for their condition, sex-change surgery is illegal in Lebanon, and Simon says that hormones are difficult to obtain legally.

“Hormones are expensive, so many transgender people start hormones without consulting a doctor,” he says. “They get them on the black market, which is extremely dangerous because they don’t know the effects of these hormones or what kind of risks they might face.”

According to Khoury, many transgender people also turn to black-market surgery. “One of my patients is a female-to-male transgender,” he says. “He had his breasts removed on the black market, and one day he showed me his scars. They were terrible.”

Khoury says that transgender people in Lebanon face the additional challenge of living in a country with strong religious roots.

“There is a strong sense of sin and not belonging to their religion,” he says. “It’s excommunication at the deepest level.”

Read more:
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

Culture-Jamming "Tweepstrike" on Twitter

Now this is funny.

The International Solidarity Movement sent out an email, asking people to tweet about Palestinian prisoners hunger strike. They just couldn't bear that Gilad Shalit was getting all the attention.

Several zionist sites recommended active participation in an equal and opposite direction. Apparently several people decided to play along, and as of this afternoon, they succeeded in cuture-jamming the tweet.

Yes, among other demands, the Palestinian prisoners want satellite TV, a free college education, and whole chickens. No, Im not making this up.

Sarra Besbes Tunisian Fencer Guilty of Unsportsmanlike behavior?

Did Sarra Besbes, a high ranking Tunisian fencer deliberately throw a fencing match? At the World Fencing Championship in Catania, Besbes was scheduled to compete against Israeli Noam Mills.

Italian media reported that Besbes remained immobile during the match. She cried after her loss, which effects her world ranking. I can't help but wonder what happened before this match. Was Besbes threatened? Was her family threatened? What would cause someone to behave this way?

By losing, though this defeat forces her to face Li Na, a higher ranked competitor.

"I hope this is an isolated incident that isn’t repeated,” said Italian fencing federation president Giorgio Scarso, according to the ANSA news agency. “The fact that the Tunisians did it this time took us all by surprise, because until now that had never happened.”

The only answer is to bar players who discriminate in this manner. Choices should have consequences

Friday, October 7, 2011

From antisemite to Zionist by Kasim Hafeez

From antisemite to Zionist by Kasim Hafeez.
From an article in the JC

He writes
"Growing up in a Muslim community in the UK I was exposed to materials condemning Israel, painting Jews as usurpers and murderers. My views were reinforced when I attended Nakba Day rallies where speakers predicted Israel's demise.

My hate for Israel and for the Jews was fuelled by images of death and destruction, set to the backdrop of Arabic melodies about Jihad and speeches of Hizbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah or Osama Bin Laden.

There was also constant, casual antisemitism around me. My father would boast of how Adolf Hitler was a hero, his only failing being that he didn't kill enough Jews. Even the most moderate clerics I came across refused to condemn terrorism against Israel as unjustified."

So what changed?

" In Waterstones one day I found myself in the Israel and Palestine section. To this day I don't know why I actually pulled it off the shelf, but I picked up a copy of Alan Dershowitz's The Case for Israel.

In my world view the Jews and the Americans controlled the media, so after a brief look at the back, I scoffed thinking "vile Zionist propaganda".

But I decided to buy it, eagerly awaiting the chance to deconstruct it so I could show why Israel had no case and claim my findings as a personal victory for the Palestinian cause.

As I read Dershowitz's systematic deconstruction of the lies I had been told, I felt a real crisis of conscience. I couldn't disprove his arguments or find facts to respond to them with. I didn't know what to believe. I'd blindly followed for so long, yet here I was questioning whether I had been wrong?

I decided to visit Israel to find the truth. I was confronted by synagogues, mosques and churches, by Jews and Arabs living together, by minorities playing huge parts in all areas of Israeli life, from the military to the judiciary. It was shocking and eye-opening. This wasn't the evil Zionist Israel that I had been told about.

After much soul searching, I knew what I had once believed was wrong. I had to stand with Israel, with this tiny nation, free, democratic, making huge strides in medicine, research and development, yet the victim of the same lies and hatred that nearly consumed me.

As an outsider, I ask why so many in the Jewish community are closing their eyes to the constant stream of anti-Israel hated spewed out from all facets of British society.

And while pro-Palestinian organisations burn Israeli flags, urge boycotts of Israel and protest against appearances by Israeli politicians or artists, UJS's response is shameful. It is not the time for UJS or any other group to engage in hollow flag-waving to show their "progressiveness". Let Israel's democratic history speak for itself. "

Read it all.

Monday, October 3, 2011

"I'm a Palestinian Protesting in Support of Israel"

There's hope for us all. Really. There is. Sons and Daughters of Abraham.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

"Illegal" Lesbian Wedding Dress

This woman was buying a dress for her wedding. And when asked for the groom's name, she crossed out 'groom', and wrote 'partner', and then her girlfriend's name.

They called back and told her they wouldn't sell her the dress.

So how weird it must have been to get a call on Tuesday from Donna (she wouldn't tell you her last name, and she wouldn't tell me, either, when I spoke with her yesterday), and to have a conversation so different from the one you had with her on Saturday.

Apparently, Donna was stunned to learn, after reviewing your customer-information sheet, that you're a lesbian. On the paperwork, you'd crossed out the word "groom" and written "partner" instead, and then inserted your fiancée's name.

"She said she wouldn't work with me because I'm gay," you recalled. "She also said that I came from a nice Jewish family, and that it was a shame I was gay. She said, 'There's right, and there's wrong. And this is wrong.' "

She also said - and you have the voicemail to prove it - that what you were planning was "illegal" and that "we do not participate in any illegal actions."

"I was devastated," you told me. "I was crying. I called her a bigot; I told her, 'I am a happy person and you are a miserable person.' Then she hung up on me."

You admit to using some choice words when you called her back. But trust me, whatever you said was probably poetry compared with what I believe most decent people would've spewed at her on your behalf.

You know what's strange? When I called Donna yesterday to get her side of the story, she both confirmed your version of events and accused you of "stirring up drama." She said that your writing the word "partner" was basically a provocation, evidence of a need "to show that she's different."

"They get that way," she told me.

By "they," she meant women who were fed up with men because "men can be difficult," and so now they "experiment" with female relationships because they're tired of having men boss them around.

She told me about a friend whose wife left him for another woman. And about a young family member who was molested by a same-sex adult male. And about a gay man who once plunged a knife into a chair in the restaurant where she worked. And - she finally lost me here - something about the Navy SEALs.

"It's a lot of drama," she said.

She also found you "aggressive," didn't appreciate your cursing and thought I should speak with your father before writing this column, as she "sensed" his disappointment in your decision to marry a woman.

Yeah. Seriously.

It sounds like this woman is going to be okay. Her family is supportive, which is so important. Some bitchy store clerk is not going to bring her down. She'll have a great wedding. But wow. Just wow.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Tragedy in Norway: The queer angle

From the Envoy

"As Norway continues to grapple with the attacks by a home-grown extremist that killed 77 people last month, one couple, who moved to help young people fleeing from gunman Anders Breivik, is getting a bit of belated recognition.

Hege Dalen and her wife, Toril Hansen, were eating dinner on July 22nd on the other shore from Utoya island when they heard screaming, the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sannomat reported. After bombing government buildings in Oslo, Breivik had come to the island dressed as a policeman and went on to shoot more than 100 young people attending a Labour party camp there.

"We were eating," Dalen told the newspaper. "Then shooting and then the awful screaming. We saw how the young people ran in panic into the lake."
The couple took off in their boat for the island, picking up shocked victims from the water and transporting them to the mainland. They made four runs in all, helping rescue some 40 of Breivik's victims, the paper reported.

"Between runs they saw that the bullets had hit the right side of the boat," the paper wrote.

Some lesbian-gay news sites and blogs have picked up the account in recent days, noting the same-sex married heroes of the story haven't gotten much attention in the Western press."

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ramadan Mubarak

On this evening of Ramadan, there were 140 of our brothers and sisters killed in Syria. But please, go ahead and talk about Gaza.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Al Andalusia Mall opens in Gaza

The Al Andalusia Mall open last week in Gaza. In addition to shops, the mall has a swimming pool and a cinema.

Photos from the Gulf News:

People keep saying this, so its almost cliched at this point, but I can't resist "Just like the Warsaw ghetto"

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Opening of the Metro Market in Gaza City

More Photos here:

Friday, 15/07/2011
إفتتاح مترو ماركت بمدينة غزة Opening of the Metro Market in Gaza City,
تفضلو وجولة بأقسام الماركت
مكان المترو : غـزة - شارع الشهداء - بالقرب من مستشفى أصدقاء المريـض Metro Place: Gaza - Al-Shuhada Street
الصور منقووولة ! Menkowolh images

Remind me again why the Flotilla is directed TOWARDS Gaza?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

5 Star Hotel Opening in Gaza

After all the publicity about the "humanitarian aid" flotilla coming or not coming to Gaza this week, this is especially ironic news

From Palestine Today

A new five star hotel,the Movenpick Gaza built at a cost of $ 45 millionis opening later this month. It has 225 rooms and suites,restaurants, galleries and swimming pools. It is expected to employ around 100 people.

The hotel is offering 50 % off for new guests. I guess they were hoping the Flotilla members would be staying with them

Monday, June 27, 2011

Reading Break

Something people might be interested in; I'm reading The Shia Revival by Vali Nasr. I'll be able to say more when I'm done, maybe I'll do a real review, but I'm still in the first chapters, where he talks mostly about early history.

I'm kind of embarrassed to say how much I'm learning. I know next to nothing about the history of Islam in India, for example. And he writes a lot about Shia women and shrines women visit specially. The kind of thing I'd be interested in, you know?

Anyway, that's what I'm reading on the bus to work. I have noticed that people give me a weird little look when they see the cover. I don't think the title would even mean anything to most people, so maybe it's the men in turbans in the cover photo? Damn, people.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

"A Gay Girl In Damascus" was a Hoax

Amina is actually a Scottish man (straight), who lives in Istanbul.

He wrote this to his readers:

He's been touched. **facepalm** Well I'm pissed off. Next time, he can save the crap about 'liberal Orientalism', and write a novel.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Arab-American groups blocks musician over 'freedom' song

Why does Syria's suffering mean so little, even to Arabs? This breaks my heart.

A leading Arab American group dropped a prominent Syrian-American musician from performing at their annual convention in a dispute over a freedom-tinged song that he was set to perform.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, a longtime Washington civil rights group, repeatedly asked the German-born Syrian composer and pianist Malek Jandali to reconsider his piece choice, Jandali told POLITICO. When he refused, Jandali was told today that he couldn't perform at this weekend's event.

Jandali's "Watani Ana: I am my Homeland" doesn't specifically mention Syria or the broader Arab Spring uprisings, but is heavy on the themes of freedom and liberty. Jandali calls it a "humanitarian song." But lyrics include "oh my homeland, when will I see you free" and "When the land is watered with the blood of martyrs and the brave/ And all the people shout: Freedom to mankind."

Jandali himself declined to speculate why he wasn't allowed to perform "Watani Ana," and an official at the ADC, Nabil Mohamad, refused to explain its decision.

"Is is it the words? The scale of the music? Was the rhythm too slow? Did the melody maybe bother them?" Jandali asked POLITICO. "I really would love to hear their answer. It would have been a perfect song."

"It doesn''t mention the word 'Arab' or 'Syria' or anything," he said. "It''s a humanitarian song."

However other observers speculated that the song's implications might have troubled the Syrian government, which is in the midst of a bloody crackdown on its citizens, or its allies. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has defied international calls to end the crackdown and ordered security forces into the streets to quell unrest. He has also ratcheted up tensions with neighboring Israel, allowing Palestinian and Syrian protesters to approach the sealed Syrian-Israeli boarder. Twenty-three of those demonstrators were later killed by Israeli forces after they tried to rush the border.

"We are just saddened by the atrocities and the killing of innocent children," Jandali, an American citizen who was born in Germany but raised in Syria, said.

The chairman of the ADC board, gynecologist Safa Rifka, is aligned with Syria's ambassador to the United States Imad Moustapha. In a blog post, Moustapha called Rifka one of his three "best friends" in Washington D.C. The ADC describes itself as the largest Arab-American grassroots advocacy group and vows to end "discrimination and bias against Arab Americans wherever it is practiced."

"I have nothing to say on that," said ADC Vice President Nabil Mohamad on charges that politics were the reason. The ADC cited logistical problems in canceling Jandali's performance. "You should get the facts," said Muhamad in a brief interview with POLITICO before declining to comment further.

This is the song.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Woman Imams in China

Apparently, in China, woman can be imams.

Don't these woman have beautiful faces, full of knowledge and compassion?

The original article is here:

"When I was a girl most of us females were illiterate. We knew nothing about the world. Taking these classes gives us so much knowledge about how to conduct ourselves as good Muslims and the right values with which to bring up our families," says Ma Fen Zhen, who, at 70, is the oldest student at these classes.

A hundred miles east of Yinchuan in the small town of Ling Wu, 50 other women, their heads covered with scarves, sit in a room reciting verses in Arabic from the Koran. They are being taught by Yang Yu Hong, one of two women imams at the Tai Zi mosque. Yang received her title of Imam from the Islamic Association four years ago. She is one of approximately 200 certified women imams in the province.

Yang's husband, also an imam, is currently studying theology in Egypt. She says that both he and other members of her family supported her decision to study religion and qualify for the title
of imam.

Yang adds that she does not see anything un-Islamic about the concept of women imams. "There are many things that are easier for women to talk about with other women. And everyone, man or woman, has a duty to study and understand the religion."

While the women are granted the title of imam they are still not allowed to lead men in prayers. Their role is more that of a teacher and their students are exclusively female. "The women imams are respected people whom the community looks up to but of course they do not have the same religious powers as men. Men and women are equal but their roles are different," says Ma Xiao.

The people interviewed in the article say that they don't suffer any government control or restriction of their religion. I'm not sure I believe that. It's China after all. But it's so amazing to see how beautiful and diverse Islam is in the world today.

Egyptian general admits 'virginity checks' conducted on protesters

Mubarak is gone, but the army is still in power. Can we hope for change?

Egyptian general admits 'virginity checks' conducted on protesters

This is their excuse:

"The girls who were detained were not like your daughter or mine," the general said. "These were girls who had camped out in tents with male protesters in Tahrir Square, and we found in the tents Molotov cocktails and (drugs)."

The general said the virginity checks were done so that the women wouldn't later claim they had been raped by Egyptian authorities.

"We didn't want them to say we had sexually assaulted or raped them, so we wanted to prove that they weren't virgins in the first place," the general said. "None of them were (virgins)."

Because only virgins can be raped, you see...

These women=so, so brave.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Frameline LGBT festival under attack by haters

Ohy, dear. I just received this email from someone who pretends she cares about LGBT rights, but clearly is just into the identity politics game.

For the second year in a row, the San Francisco International Lesbian/Gay/Bi/Trans Film Festival has accepted Israeli sponsorship and money. This is unacceptable to queers who are committed to promoting human rights for all people, not just narrow civil rights for some queers.

(What???? Palestinian queers go to Isarael for sanctuary. Everyone knows that)

Several months ago, we forwarded to Frameline, the presenters of the Film Festival, an open letter from Palestinian queers for BDS asking international artists and activists to respect the cultural boycott of Israeli institutions (note that the boycott does not target individual artists or filmmakers who are not representing the government or participating in "pinkwashing" of Israeli apartheid).

(The boycott absolutely does target individual- look at how many of their facebook pages have been hijacked by those pretending to care about human dignity)

It is deeply offensive that an institution which claims to promote diversity and liberation for queer people would slap Palestinian queers in the face by accepting money from the Israeli government.

(But go ahead and slap Israeli queers in the face. Thats ok, because they are Israeli. No one cares)


Please call Frameline any time on Wed June 1st and ask that they not give in to the haters and to the bullies Remind them of Israel's record of promoting LGBT inclusion. If you get a voicemail, leave a message. If you get a busy signal or no answer, send a fax (preferably) or email and

You can also FAX messages to them in addition to calling.

The Frameline phone number is: 415-703-8650 .
The FAX number is: 415-861-1404 .

Check out the GLAZE facebook page- its brand new- for more information on Israel's LGBT record

If you need talking points:

LGBT Rights in Israel

-Gays have full rights to serve in the military

-Sodomy laws were struck down in 1988

-Full civil rights for LGBT people established in 1992

-Partner benefits for all governmental employees, including the national airline, El Al

-Partner adoption rights

-In 2007 the State agreed to recognize same gender marriages preformed abroad, similar to its recognition of other civil marriages from other countries

LGBT Pride in Israel

* Pride parades take place annually in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Eilat and Haifa. Attempts by Muslim, Christian and Jewish religious groups to stop the parades, mostly in Jerusalem have consistently been blocked by the Israeli Supreme Court.

* The first transgender person to win the Eurovision contest was Israeli Dana International in 1998 with her song, "Diva". Eurovision is watched by hundreds of millions of people through Europe, Asia and Africa.

* Openly gay singer Ivri Lidder is amongst Israel's most popular entertainers

* Openly gay movie producer Eytan Fox has become one of Israel's most important film exporters to the world, with his movies "Yossi and Jagger", Walk on Water" and "The Bubble".

* Openly gay politicians have served in the Israeli Kenneset and on the city councils of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem

For more information

The Agunah, Israel's main LGBT civil rights organization

Jerusalem Open House, the LGBT community Center of Israel (also serving the Palestinian territories)

Gay Middle East, covering Israel and the entire Arab world

Go gay (Hebrew language portal)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Afghanistan's accidental gay pride

Pride flags are cool in Afghanistan. But not for the right reasons

From an article by Nushin Arbabzadah in the Guardian

If you are gay and proud, Afghanistan is quite likely the last place on earth to show it publicly. How, then, are we supposed to make sense of the recent very conspicuous appearance of the rainbow-coloured gay pride symbols all over the streets of Kabul and other urban centres?

The pioneer Afghan Pajhwak news agency took it upon itself to investigate this unusual sociocultural phenomenon, sending a reporter to interview drivers who had decorated their cars with gay pride stickers and rear banners. After all, these Chinese-made car accessories had suddenly become popular, available in any garage supplying vehicle parts.

Even more remarkably, Afghan drivers seemed to have little concern about using their cars to openly advertise being gay and proud of it. In a country where social conservatism sometimes results in gay men sharing their life with their partner of choice and an arranged wife so as to keep up appearances, there was certainly something very unusual about this apparently new openness.

Needless to say, Pajhwak's reporter soon discovered that Afghans who had decorated their cars with the rainbow symbol had no idea what it stood for. For them it was just the newest car fashion accessory but, on learning of its meaning in the west, drivers immediately started removing it.

The rainbow stickers had first arrived on secondhand cars imported from Canada. Afghans had simply assumed that the colour combination was the latest fashion fad in the west, and duly adopted it.

Had it not been for the news agency's interest, the gay pride symbol would have continued to flourish in Afghanistan. Uprooted from its original cultural environment and landing in the country by sheer accident, it would have led an existence devoid of any meaning aside from showing that, like everywhere else in the world, Afghan men loved their cars.

But since Afghanistan is no longer an isolated country, imported symbols are bound to be recognised and decoded not only by globetrotting members of the middle class but also the many expatriate internationals and returnee Afghans. Once informed about the symbol's meaning, the stickers were removed en mass. One commentator even expressed the hope that the embarrassing incident would serve as cautionary tale, warning Afghans against their tendency to blindly follow fashions imported from elsewhere.

The confusion that had allowed for the gay-pride car accessories to become coveted goods in Afghan garages is not restricted to the symbol itself. Judging by the way homosexuality is debated in the public sphere, the term itself is understood incorrectly.

It is usually used as a synonym for what would be described in Europe and North America as paedophilia. Hence, on the rare occasions when Afghan writers dare to publicly tackle problems related to sexuality, we encounter the local terms hamjins baazi (homosexuality) and bacha baazi (paedophilia) used interchangeably, as if they both deal with the same phenomenon.

There seems to be little awareness of the fact that in liberal democracies of the west the term strictly refers to relationships between consenting adults.

Given that Afghanistan is an exceedingly conservative society, it is astonishing that articles openly discussing homosexuality actually exist. The content of such articles is often surprising. Hence, in what – by Afghan standards – is a frank and almost judgment-free article, one writer establishes that it is the country's social conditions that contribute to unorthodox practices. Blaming strict gender segregation, the author points out that since desire is natural to humankind, its suppression is bound to make it resurface in a different guise: "For example, monks and those who renounce worldly pleasures quite often tend to be fat, with big bellies. Their desire has resurfaced as greed for food."

Following this rather strange line of argument, the reader is then confronted with a bizarre assessment: if necessary, relations with underage persons should be conducted with girls rather than boys because even if they are physically immature, the female anatomy still renders girls more natural partners.

A recurrent theme in all such debates is a juxtaposition of European countries' treatment of the hijab with their attitude towards homosexuality. Authors are genuinely puzzled that France has banned the hijab, which in their view is a religious obligation, but protects the rights of homosexuals – which they say is banned by all religions.

Such articles as a rule make generous use of question marks and exclamation marks. These loud orthographic markers, in turn, echo the profound divide that separates the Afghans' traditional society from the liberal markets from whence secondhand cars make their journey across continents, sometimes complete with dangerously loaded but misunderstood ornamental accessories.

Egyptian Women Speak Out Against Sectarian Strife

From Nasawiyah:

A large number of Egyptian women participated in a march entitled “No to sectarian strife” which appeared with its ugly face in the district of Imbaba. They participated in this march to stress the values of citizenship and tolerance and to prevent the strife that has been witnessed in the district and in many different places in Egypt after the revolution. The Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights affirms that the incidents that happened between Muslims and Christians are a clear attempt to abort the 25th of January revolution through the use of women to fuel strife.

ECWR praises women who participated in this march: they included women from all political sides and also from the district of Imbaba. The women participants in this march were from all categories: housewives, employees, female Muslims carrying the cross and female Christians affirming the values of full citizenship with their chants. ECWR thought that women’s participation in this march came to affirm their refusal to be used, and to affirm their refusal to use the religion in their name in terms of trading with religion by the two sides.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Cynthia McKinney in Libya and Iran

Well, I'm back. My kid sister graduated this weekend, so I had to fly to the East Coast, do the family thing.

I got back, threw my clothes in the washing machine and made some coffee, before I checked out LezGetReal, and found out that while I was wearing high heels to make my mom happy and telling all my aunts I'd get married real soon, Cynthia McKinney was on Libyan TV. And she was not camping out to show her solidarity with the rebels, oh no, she was on state TV, Qaddafi's own personal network, calling for NATO to back off Libya and let Qaddafi kill as many of his people as he wants. She called Qaddafi a 'hero for African rights and liberation'. Akh laa! Spare me.

This is the same week that she was at some 'peace conference' in Iran, on TV there. I know some people from Iran. Let's just say that if you get on the television there...basically, Cynthia McKinney is running around, kissing up to tyrants that murder their own citizens, their own people, and acting like she should get the Peace Prize for it.

My girl Linda Carbonell at LezGetReal got real: McKinney lacks the capacity to understand which groups are being oppressed by whom. Someone needs to send her the video of Neda Agha-Solton dying in the street in Tehran and ask her who the real victims are in that country – the government that is charging ahead with plans to put nuclear plants on active fault lines or the people in the street who were protesting a repressive theocracy. Then, send her some video from Misrata so she can see what Qaddafi is capable of – the wanton leveling of a city of 300,000 to retain power.

And that's the truth.

Cucumbers for Peace. Israeli/palestinian Agricultural Co-operation

This is interesting,and its a good example of why co-operation is the way to go, and why I personally reject BDS as a divisive and manipulative tactic, and as an obstacle to peace:

The Civil Administration, in coordination with security forces and the Ministry of Defense crossings operators, works to ensure the marketing of 15,000-18,000 tons of cucumbers, which in turn supply Palestinian farmers with approximately 60 million NIS in revenue. The produce is significant to the 3,000 families of Palestinian farmers in the northern West Bank who consider cucumbers their primary source of income, as well as for Israelis wherein 60% of their cucumbers are brought from Jenin.

In order to best answer the farmers’ needs, the hours of the Gilboa Crossing have been extended during the coming weeks in order to allow all the produce gathered throughout the day to be exported, thus maintaining the freshness of the vegetables. Furthermore, the Civil Administration’s Agricultural Coordinator, Samir Muadi, has ordered agronomical examinations on the produce in order to ensure the public’s health.

It should be noted that in the last year the Gilboa Crossing was equipped with an X-ray scanner costing millions of shekels, which allows for the transfer of products without opening their packaging. This has significant impact on the quality of the product as well as the security checks needed.

Israels buy 60% of these cucumbers. What would happen if Israelis decided to return the BDS favor? Would these cucumbers rot in storage? Would other markets be found for them? What would happen to the Palestinian farmers if they couldn't find another regional market for their cucumbers?

Co-operation. Mutual aid. Interdependence. Closer , better ties. These, not BDS are the real path of peace

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Child Suicide Bomber in Tahir Square, Egypt

Originally found here

This does not give me great hope for the future of Egyptian democracy. So, what is the message when you dress a young boy up in a mock-bomb belt, pose him with a mock rocket, and photograph him smiling flashing a peace sign?

What the men of Bashar are doing to Syrian women : Rape as a weapon of war

"Let the entire world hear what is happening to us"

A widow from Homs, Syria tells her story of how her house was attacked. Her head scarf was ripped off, she was tortured with cigarettes, and she was raped by 5 men.

They threatened to kill her son, her only son. How heartbreaking.

Be strong, Um Abdullah. Be strong.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A Church On Fire Is Never A Good Thing

This picture upsets me so much. It's from earlier this week, when a church was set on fire in Cairo in 'sectarian violence'.

CNN ran a whole story about what's been going on, with a lot of details.

Some of my friends were so excited about Egypt's revolution. I want to be too. But I see more and more violence against Christians, and between religions, and I wonder if this is really freedom? Is this what freedom looks like? Just people free to kill each other over religion?

That can't be what freedom means.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Gay Imam Spread Message: "Homosexuality Is Not Sinful"

If I were a guy, I think I'd be in love.

South African Muhsin Hendricks is an Islamic cleric and a gay man.

He runs a foundation called The Inner Circle, which helps Muslims, who are struggling to accept their sexuality. He has come to the Netherlands to spread a simple message: “It’s okay to be Muslim and gay!”

It’s a message not everyone agrees with and the reason why Mr Hendricks is no longer officially a cleric.

Muhsin Hendricks looks a little tired. He is in the Netherlands at the invitation of the Amsterdam branch of gay rights organisation COC and he’s on a punishing schedule. There is enormous public interest in the “pink imam”, as he’s been dubbed.

But every trace of fatigue vanishes as Mushin Hendricks talks about his faith and his sexuality.

“Being Muslim and being gay are both strong identities. And I think that they are both innate identities for me. So somewhere along the line I had to reconcile the two.”

You can read the rest here.

His organization's web page is here.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Photos From Gaza Unity Day Parade

Palestinians from the Gaza Strip celebrate the political unity deal between Fatah and Hamas during a rally held on May 5, 2011 in the Unknown Soldier square in Gaza City where for the first time since 2007 the yellow Fatah flag was allowed to be displayed as Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip celebrated the reconciliation deal signed by the two rival movements in Cairo the previous day.

More photos at Daylife

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Lesbian Blogger in Syria Goes Underground

I can't imagine how brave this woman is, or how scared she must be. Her father sounds like an amazing man. I can see where she gets her courage from.

I pray for her and her family to be safe.

The Unsettling Story Of A Lesbian Blogger In Syria

One brave blogger has been telling her story of life as an openly gay woman in Damascus, Syria. But now she's gone underground.

Amina (whom we first heard about on Autostraddle) started A Gay Girl in Damascus in February, explaining,

"I'm [...] aware of the winds of freedom and change blowing from one end of the Arab world to the other. And I want that freedom wind to bring with it our liberation, not just as Arabs and as Syrians, but also as women and as lesbians."

She also said, "I can, because I'm a dual national and have benefits of politically connected relatives, be more visible than many women here." However, Syria has been a tumultuous place in the wake of the fall of Hosni Mubarak, and authorities have cracked down on protesters. Last month, Amina wrote that men from "security services" had shown up at her family's home, accusing her of "conspiring against the state, urging armed uprising, [and] working with foreign elements" in her writing. When her father defended her, they asked him, "Did she tell you that she likes to sleep with women? That she is one of those faggots who fucks little girls?" And one added, "Maybe if you were with a real man, you'd stop this nonsense and lies; maybe we should show you now and let your pansy father watch so he understands how real men are." Her dad's response is worth reading in its entirety, but here's part of it:

"Your father," he says to the one who threatened to rape me, "does he know this is how you act? He was an officer, yes? And he served in ..." (he mentions exactly and then turns to the other) "and your mother? Wasn't she the daughter of ...?"
They are both wide-eyed, yes, that is right,
"What would they think if they heard how you act? And my daughter? Let me tell you this about her; she has done many things that, if I had been her, I would not have done. But she has never once stopped being my daughter and I will never once let you do any harm to her. You will not take her from here. And, if you try, know that generations of her ancestors are looking down on you."

At the end of the post, Amina wrote that she and her father would stay in Syria despite its dangers: "He's staying so so will I." But then things changed. In her most recent post, dated yesterday, Amina wrote that her father had left Damascus. He told her,

"They came back for you. This time, there's nothing I can do. Go somewhere and don't tell me where you are. Be safe. I love you."

She says, "I ended up at an old friend's home in an area where it's ‘safe'," and that she's "trying to figure out the next step." She adds that she'll continue posting as she's able. We hope she's able to continue shedding light on something often overlooked in the west — the way all the events of this spring have affected LGBT people in the Middle East. But most of all, we hope she and her family are safe. In closing, here's the final passage of her most recent post, offering a note of hope amid uncertainty:

"[A]s grim as it may seem right now, the way to freedom has never seemed clearer! Our revolution will win; we will have a free and democratic Syria soon. I know it in my bones. Our greatest age is about to appear and we shall once more amaze the world. We will have a free Syria and a free nation; it is coming soon. The revolution will succeed and we will rise above sectarianism, despotism, sexism, and all the dead weight of these years of bitterness, of division and partition, of oppression and of tyranny. We will be free!"

Marriage Equality, Lebanese Style

While my friends and I are fighting for the right to marry our same-sex partners here in California, young Lebanese activists are fighting for the right to have a civil, non-religious, wedding.

The U.S. Embassy in Beirut explains this: All marriages in Lebanon are performed by a religious authority and are registered in the husband's jurisdiction of birth. Those wishing to have a civil marriage must marry outside the country. In cases of interfaith relationships, either partner can convert to the faith of the other for the purpose of marriage.

So that's okay, right? I wonder if couples flip a coin to see who gives up their religion.

I figure that Lebanon isn't going to have same-sex weddings for a long, long time, but you have to start somewhere, right?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Destroying Homes In Tyre

There's a struggle going on in Tyre in the south of Lebanon on the coast, where people are building homes illegally on public land. This isn't a strange thing. As this article explains, poor people who can't afford land often try to build wherever they can. If you read the Lebanese press, you know that this happens all the time.

This current situation in Tyre has gotten super bad. In April, two people were killed when the police fired on a crowd of people who were trying to defend their building.

Now, the builders have been told they have forty-eight hours to tear down the buildings or the police will do it for them.

I don't know if the people building in Tyre right now are Palestinians or not, but a lot of the people are who try to build illegally. Palestinians in Lebanon aren't allowed to buy land, you see, even if they can afford to, or own a house. They can't send their kids to public schools, or go into most professions. They're not second-class citizens, because they aren't citizens. They're just tolerated, until some imaginary day when Israel will have to take them back and Lebanon can wash her hands.

I don't know what to do about any of that; I can't even vote in Lebanon. But it pisses me off that people I know here in Berkeley, who walk around with kufiyat around their necks, talking big about the Palestinians don't know anything about any of this--oh, and when I tell them, they don't care.

The death of Osama Bin Laden: the feminist angle

White House senior officials were still sorting through the details today of the dramatic U.S. raid on bin Laden in Pakistan.

Counterterrorism chief John Brennan told reporters that while bin Laden had vowed to go down fighting, in his last moments alive the master terrorist hid behind a woman.

"From a visual perspective, here is bin Laden who has been calling for attacks, living in this million-dollar-plus compound, living in an area that's far removed from the front, hiding behind women who were put in front of him as a shield," he said.

"I think it really just speaks to just how false his narrative has been over the years, and so again looking at what bin Laden was doing, hiding there while he's putting other people out there to carry out attacks, again, just speaks to, I think, the nature of the individual he was."

The woman who bin Laden tried to use as a human shield was killed in the U.S. raid, Brennan said.

I guess chivalry really is dead.

Update 9:40
Oops. apparently mainstream media screwed up again. No dead wife. No human shield. My apologies.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Nawal El Saadawi: Egypt's radical feminist

"For me feminism includes everything," she says. "It is social justice, political justice, sexual justice . . . It is the link between medicine, literature, politics, economics, psychology and history. Feminism is all that. You cannot understand the oppression of women without this."

79 year old Egyptian Writer Nawal El Saadawi continues to inspire and amaze:

Read the full article in the Guardian

El Saadawi already seems to have lived more lives than most. She trained as a doctor, then worked as a psychiatrist and university lecturer, and has published almost 50 novels, plays and collections of short stories. Her work, which tackles the problems women face in Egypt and across the world, has always attracted outrage, but she never seems to have balked at this; she has continued to address controversial issues such as prostitution, domestic violence and religious fundamentalism in her writing.

This has come at considerable cost. In 1972, her non-fiction book Women and Sex (which included criticism of female genital mutilation) led to her losing her job as director general of public health for the Egyptian ministry of health. In 1981, her outspoken political views led to her being charged with crimes against the state and jailed for three months – she used the time to write Memoirs From The Women's Prison on a roll of toilet paper, with an eyebrow pencil smuggled in by a fellow prisoner. In 1993 she fled to the US after death threats were issued against her by religious groups.

Her work continues to be explosive. Her play, God Resigns in the Summit Meeting – in which God is questioned by Jewish, Muslim and Christian prophets and finally quits – proved so controversial that, she says, her Arabic publishers destroyed it under police duress. And recently her criticism of religion, primarily on the basis that it oppresses women, has prompted a flurry of court cases, including unsuccessful legal attempts both to strip her of her nationality and to forcibly dissolve her marriage.

As El Saadawi prepares to talk about her life at a PEN literary festival on Friday, she is unrepentant. "It's all worth it," she assures me. "If I went back I would do it all again. That is what I have learned from my experiences, that I was on the right track." Her energy, she insists, comes from the 10 to 15 letters she receives every day from people who say their lives have been changed by her writing. "A young man came to me in Cairo with his new bride. He said, I want to introduce my wife to you and thank you. Your books have made me a better man. Because of them I wanted to marry not a slave, but a free woman."

Girl Geek Camp--Summer 2011

Any of our readers in Lebanon? Got a daughter or sister the right age? This sounds so amazing.

From Nasawiyah.

Are you a girl who loves technology? Interested in computers? Want to spend an amazing week this summer learning all about useful digital skills? Then join our summer Girl Geek Camp!

What Is It?

Take Back the Tech are organizing a geek camp for 25 girls this July 11-17, 2011 in Lebanon. You will learn from experienced young women how to:

Create a blog, write and express yourself, and do citizen journalism

Use social networks like Facebook and Twitter to spread useful information

Film a video on your camera or mobile phone, edit it, and upload it to YouTube

Take great photographs

Do research online

Pick a university major related to technology

Browse and use the internet securely

+ all about computer languages, open-source, creative commons, and lots more!

Who Is It For?

The camp is open to all girls who are:
Between 15 and 18 years old
Have some basic experience in using computers and the Internet
Interested in gaining more technology skills

When and Where?

We will leave Beirut in a bus on Monday, July 11 at 8am and return to Beirut on Sunday, July 17 at 6pm. We will be camping in the beautiful EcoLodge in Taanayel and the program will include lots of sports, games, social activities as well as – of course – the technology training sessions.

How Much Does It Cost?

As much as you can pay! We are raising funds to cover the camp expenses, so you can pay anything between $10 and $200 to cover your costs, whatever you can afford.

How Do I Apply?

That’s all you need to apply! If you’re interested, please fill in this application form and you can also email or call 03-487051 for more information. Applications close on May 20, 2011!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pakistani eunuchs to have distinct gender classification

Um. What kind of "social reason" promotes castration at a young age? Just curious, you know? This is good news, though- it shows a growing tolerance for gender diversity

From the BBC:
Pakistan's Supreme Court says eunuchs must be allowed to identify themselves as a distinct gender in order to ensure their rights.

The eunuchs, known as "hijras" in Pakistan, are men castrated at an early age for medical or social reasons.

The court said they should be issued with national identity cards showing their distinct gender.

The government has also been ordered to take steps to ensure they are entitled to inherit property.

There are estimated to be about 300,000 hijras in Pakistan and they are generally shunned by the largely Muslim conservative society.

They tend to live together in slum communities, surviving through begging and by dancing at weddings and carnivals.

A hijra association has welcomed the order, saying it is "a major step giving respect and identity in society".

Indian authorities last month agreed to list eunuchs and transgender people by using the term "others", distinct from males and females, on electoral rolls and voter identity cards, after a long-running campaign by the members of the community.

First Muslim Poses for Playboy. Is this real liberation?

"Girls, we don't have to live according to the rules imposed upon us...For years I subordinated myself to various societal constraints. The Playboy photo shoot was a total act of liberation." German/Turkish actress and model Sila Sahin declared, defending her recent 12 page spread in Playboy.

Her parents are horrified and Sahin's mother has cut off contact. Sila Sahin, the 25-year-old star the German soap opera "Good Times, Bad Times," has been called a "whore" and a "western slut" on Islamic web message boards, claiming Sahin was "shaming Muslim womanhood" and "prostituting herself for money," while others warned that she "needs to be very careful." Another commenter simply said, "She must pay," according to the UK's Sun newspaper.

From a German paper
"Muslims are absolutely not allowed to do something like that", said Furkan, the owner of a small kebab restaurant in Bonn.

Asked what he would do if Sahin were his sister or daughter, Furkan was unequivocal.

"I would kill her. If I were to see pictures like that, I would kill her. I really mean that. That's not something for me, not for my culture. I was raised differently. That doesn't fit with my culture."

For Sila, however, this was an act of rebellion akin to Che Guevera.

I have mixed feelings about this. Yes, its empowering after years, no, after generations of oppression to take control of your own body. But is this really the way?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Arab Journalist condemns Arab regimes.

Faisal Al Qasim, a Syrian journalist based in Doha writes: Zionist crimes pale in comparison with the manner in which some Arab regimes have cracked down on their own people for merely seeking change

The Arab media has, for over half a century or so, strongly condemned Zionist crimes against the Palestinians and other Arab peoples. It has in actual fact provided a hell of a lot of satire on Zionist brutality, which is fair enough. But is the Arab media still able to satirise Israeli barbarism with the same vigour after it has witnessed what Arab dictators have done to their own people? Isn't it a bit silly to bombard the Israelis with criticism and keep quiet about savagery against unarmed demonstrators?"

He's writting this in the Gulf News, btw.

"When Israel killed about 1,400 Palestinians during Operation Cast Lead against Gaza, the Arab media raised its voice, and thankfully drew world attention to Israeli atrocities. But when we compare the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza with the number of Arabs being killed these days by Arab dictators, we will be horribly surprised.

In fact, the Sudanese regime killed hundreds of thousands of its own people in Darfur. The so-called Janjaweed gangs in Sudan used to annihilate the people of Darfur like flies simply because the latter clamoured for their basic rights. An Arab satirist once commented that an Arab dictator would not accept the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza even as an appetiser!

Recently there were reports that deposed Tunisian president Zine Al Abidine Bin Ali ordered his air force to bombard a civilian area in the Al Qasrain region because the people there demonstrated against his regime. Thankfully, the army refused to carry out his order.

The ongoing Arab intifadas have shown that some Arab rulers can beat the Israelis at their own game. An Arab website recently carried an opinion poll asking readers: ‘Who will be a killioneer?' Sure enough, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya won the day. Not only did he kill a lot of his own people but also almost flattened many Libyan cities. It brought to mind western cities flattened by Hitler's forces during the Second World War.

Take Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen. WikiLeaks has revealed that his ‘chairmanship' gave the green light to American aircraft to bombard civilian areas to quell a local revolt. Add to this, of course, his brutal handling of the Yemeni revolution.

Other Arab despots are reported to have asked their security forces to aim their guns at protesters' heads. Have you ever seen an Israeli officer torturing a Palestinian civilian to death in the street for everybody to see? Definitely not. Many of us have seen that in some Arab towns lately."

Its worth reading the whole article

"It is true that Israel is forcing an embargo on Gaza, but I do not think that the Israelis are preventing the Palestinians from getting their daily bread, whereas the security services in some Arab countries stopped cars carrying food from entering certain areas. Nor are the Israelis cutting off electricity, telephone and other communication services from houses, hospitals and schools.

It has been reported that the security services stopped nurses and doctors from treating the injured during certain Arab demonstrations as a punishment for rising against the ruling regime. The thugs contracted by the police to help quell protests went even further. They shot at ambulances.

Unlike in some Arab countries, Arabs living inside Israel can organise sit-ins very comfortably. And when the Israeli police intervenes, they never beat demonstrators to death. And if we compare how Israel treats Shaikh Raed Salah with the way some Arab dictators treat their opponents, we will be horribly surprised, as the Israelis are very much less brutal.

It is true that Israel used internationally prohibited ammunition during Operation Cast Lead, but some Arab despots used some chemical stuff to disperse demonstrators.

Israel can always claim it is facing an enemy, whereas Arab dictators are facing their own people"

Now excuse me for a minute while I look out my window for flying pigs

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Arab and Arab American Feminisms

Ok, I'm curious. I am trying to go this evening. I hope its a real feminist talk- not just a "Oh, we'll deal with honor killings, domestic violence and forced marriages to our first cousins after we run the Zionist entity into the sea" type talk.

Arab and Arab American Feminisms
Modern Times Bookstore 888 Valencia st., San Francisco.

A celebration of the new book “Arab and Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, and Belonging,” edited by Rabab Abdulhadi ,Evelyn Alsultany, Nadine Naber.

In this collection, Arab and Arab American feminists enlist their intimate experiences to challenge simplistic and long-held assumptions about gender, sexuality, and commitments to feminism and justice-centered struggles. Contributors hail from multiple geographical sites, spiritualities, occupations, sexualities, class backgrounds, and generations. Poets, creative writers, artists, scholars, and activists employ a mix of genres to express feminist issues and highlight how Arab and Arab American feminist perspectives simultaneously inhabit multiple, overlapping, and intersecting spaces: within families and communities; in anticolonial and antiracist struggles; in debates over spirituality and the divine; within radical, feminist, and queer spaces; in academia and on the street; and between each other.

Contributors explore themes as diverse as the intersections between gender, sexuality, Orientalism, racism, Islamophobia, and Zionism, and the restoration of Arab Jews to Arab American histories. This book asks how members of diasporic communities navigate their sense of belonging when the country in which they live wages wars in the lands of their ancestors. Arab and Arab American Feminisms opens up new possibilities for placing grounded Arab and Arab American feminist perspectives at the center of gender studies, Middle East studies, American studies, and ethnic studies.