Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Misogyny in Egypt: More than Attitudes

A few days ago I came across a disgusting picture on Facebook (and of course it has many), but this particular one had hit a chord. It was a picture that portrayed Egypt in a sort of damsel in distress situation where a ghoulish hairy hand in trying to strip her naked in the name of freedom. 
And who was that freedom ghoul? You guessed it! 
The United States of America and its alter ego (NGOs), Israel, Youth of the 6 of April movement (pro democracy group of kick ass Egyptian activists, and the news services which regularly cover violations by thugs of the Egyptian government).

The misogyny and patriarchy of the general Egyptian population is now used for political propaganda.

Here is the offensive picture (the translation is mine.) Look at the shaming and xenophobic messages implied! Outrageous!
 They like to portray Egypt as a woman, because they want to keep her 'covered', facts and all. They want to shame freedom seekers into submission and call upon the "men" of the country to protect their so called honor.  Just as they do when want to incite sectarian violence

Well, I say shame on them! And their women-belittling ways! 

Monday, February 27, 2012

My New Work from Home in Egypt Website

As evident by the title, I've started a new blog Work From Home in Egypt
(fair warning: it's in Arabic ;) )

I have been wanting to relay my experiences as work from home mom and as a work from home freelance writer for quite some time. This another side of me less glamorous albeit more practical that I feel can benefit many of the moms (or dads or students) looking to explore the lifestyle and look for hints.

I started it our in Arabic because there are no websites or blogs that offer help to Egyptian people in their native tongue, and many of them prefer to read information that way. If I could only help

The blog will discuss work from home opportunities in general, and writing in particular. It will also talk about bid sites, with a focus on the website I have most experience with: Odesk. So, the Odesk tips and hints will be quite extensive over time.

If you could benefit from the tips in Work From Home Blog or know someone that will please spread the love.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Salafism has Never Been More Happenin'

Costa Salafis: "We always Pay Our Dues" Adaption of Costa's Logo
You don't know what Salafism is? Join the club! Almost no one did, until January 25th revolution sparked interest in this lesser known term describing a non-defined group of Suni Muslims whose aim is to strictly adhere to the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him,)

Salafism, as a movement, was so obscure to me that I had to actually look up the term in My Oxford English Dictionary when I started to hear more and more about the bunch. The definition read that Salafism was a strictly orthodox Muslim sect advocating adherence to early Islam and the Prophet's teachings. Huh? Isn't that what all Muslims do (the Sunni ones anyway)?

So far so good, I thought. What sets Salafis apart is their fundamentalist approach, their strict interpretation of the texts (Koran and Sharia'). It is Islamic fundamentalism then. As time went by, however, it became obvious that the word Salafi became euphemism for bigot. As in "Ahhhh! He's a Salafiiist!" *eyes rolling* "You can expect anything from that bunch."

And then came a most progressive-- and hilarious-- group of Salafi-activists who call themselves "Salafyo Costa" Salafyo is the Classical Arabic word for Salafis, and Costa--well, Costa is your friendly Capitalist Coffee Franchise down the corner. They are a bunch of young hip and happenin' revolutionists who are, incidentally, Salafis.

They are progressive, modern, and very charming. All in all, they chatter any preconceived notion one might have about  Islamists in general  and Salafis in particular.

They are also  politically active and community-oriented.

One of their latest excursions was a trip to the village in Ameriya district where the latest sectarian crisis took place. (If you need a refresher on that click here) They came up with a relatively thorough independent report on what went down. And by relatively I mean a loose adaptation of tell-tales and hearsay from the village. Still though, it is the initiative that counts.

If you read Arabic check out their Facebook page: Salafyo Costa
and watch them on YouTube:  Salafyo Costa's Channel

Monday, February 13, 2012

Rule of Law and Lawlessness in Resolving Sectarian Conflicts in Egypt

This is yet again another post about another "conflict" in Egypt, the Land of unfortunate events about a topic all too familiar: conflicts sectarian in appearances but cultural in essence. Unlike the events that transpired in May of 2011, this particular incidence has not deteriorated into a church burning one. Instead,  Coptic (Egyptian Christian) families are facing deportation out of their own village and the seizing and forceful selling of their homes, lands and cattle.

And the reason.... *drum roll please*.... You guessed it! Yet another mixed-religion affair. A Muslim gal had a consensual sexual relationship with a christian dude, and apparently they also indulged in the risque behavior of filmingه and/or taping their heinous acts. (Who would do that in rural Egypt? Yeah I know!!)

Muslim Men of Shirbat Village, in the Ameria County, have reportedly held a "tribal tribunal Council" to look into "the matter"; and they have concluded that it was best that the involved Coptic families be deported out of the village--their land and properties sold by the Sheikhs of the village.

And my question is: WHERE is the law in all this? Why are eight (in some accounts six) families ordered out of their village over this anyway? And most importantly when are men going to stop turning matters of  female sexual freedom into feuds? I am afraid that I know the answer. For Egypt, this is not going to happen anytime soon.

Activists talking to Parliamentary Members
 The Supreme Council of Armed forces, and their Commander-in-Chief Mubarak before, have given us headache after headache with their "lawful" rule and the importance of order. They even warned that "revolutionaries" seek to spread anarchy and chaos . 

Well, this looks like chaos alright! Where is the law? The police stood and watched as these people were forced to walk away from everything they hold dear. And the Parliament refused to intervene until marches organized by human rights activists proved to the esteemed PMs that the Egyptian people were not about to tolerate this kind of prejudice.

 As the fate of the families remains undecided, I do hope that they are allowed to safely go home --not only for their sake, but for us all.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Goodbye Whitney Houston: The Day The Music Died

I spent hours crying this morning after I heard the news.
"Goodbye...goodbye Whitney Houston!" I said, sobbing in my parked car. Now, let me make it clear that I am no 'fan girl' and not that easily moved by news of the demise of the rich and famous celebrities. I did not cry when Michael Jackson died, nor did I stop and ponder upon his addiction, his tragedy or his death. But, Whitney? Whitney is a whole different ballgame.

Whitney Houston- May She Rest in Peace
I grew up listening to Whitney, like I had been listening to Michael. But Whitney was the epitome of strength. Whitney was the woman I wanted to grow up to become. Whitney was beauty and elegance. Whitney was romance and the love I wished to have. Whitney was an embodiment of talent I could only dream of having. Whitney sang the soundtrack to my first love story. Whitney's voice carried me through and through, times and times again.  Whitney wasn't just a celebrity to me, fallible and flawed. Whitney was "every woman." She embodied everything a woman should be. Everything I ever wanted to be.

And herein lies the tragedy. I thought that Whitney, being accomplished, successful and beautiful and all, was happy. To find out that she was on drug was the ultimate shock to me, like a child thinking their parent had it all together only to find out that this is far from true. And to find out that she died, I was crushed with sadness. This came at a time where I was weighed down with dreary philosophical wonderings of the soul, and revisited existential  dilemmas; the sort of thing that can happen often with many dead and dying all around me on the streets of Cairo.

Then, her sweet voice came back to me. "If I should die this very day, don't cry because on this earth we weren't meant to stay." And I cried some more.

This is precisely our conundrum, we aren't staying. None of us are. But we all act like we are, and because of that, the void consumes us all. We think that if  only we were prettier, if only were thinner, if only we had more money or fame or lovers, we would finally be happy...finally be free.

But the sad truth of it is—none of it matters. 

So many people had it all, and yet had nothing. We keep seeing that time and time again, but are we ready to wake up?

Maybe we should be less concerned with how much we have and how good we look and even how happy we are because , indeed, "on Earth we weren't meant to stay."  And our end may be sooner than we think. After all, she was only 48.

Whitney you will be missed, and you will sure never be forgotten. Between "I wanna dance with somebody" and "My love is Your Love", Whitney, you were indeed every woman.

May you rest in peace.