July 2008

Move over Barack. Lawyer and activist Melody Moezzi is organizing an event to coincide with the Democratic National Convention in Denver and all you will need besides a commitment to peace in the Middle East is a hula hoop. Here is how she describes it.

I am an Iranian-American. I have two homelands: the United States and Iran. I am not half-Iranian. I am not half-American. I am 100% Iranian and 100% American. Thus, peace, particularly between the US and Iran, is not simply a political issue for me: It is deeply personal. Any attack on Iran by the United States would constitute the eruption of an internal civil war within me and so many other Iranian-Americans. It would be a conflict that I am not certain my soul could withstand, and it would be a conflict that would result in the loss of my countrymen on both sides. Indeed, I am not taking up peace as a cause because I am some delusional hippie (far from it) and have nothing better to do (I assure you, I do). I am doing this for unabashedly selfish and painfully practical reasons: I do not want my family, my countrymen, or my generation to die or struggle at the hands of others. I have presented my “home,” which includes all my biases and underlying intentions here, so if this is too much for you, then HHP is likely not your ball of wax, or more specifically, your ring of plastic. (more…)

A year ago from August 8-13 an international conference on “Music in the World of Islam” was held in Assilah, Morocco, jointly sponsored by The Assilah Forum Foundation (Assilah, Morocco) and the Maison des Cultures du Monde (Paris, France). The papers from this conference are now available in pdf format online. Music and dance are described for Afghanistan, Algeria, Andalusia, Azerbeijan, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Central Asia, East Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kurdistan, Kuwait, Liberia, Malaysia, Morocco, Russia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey and Yemen.

A description of the conference is described by its main organizer, Pierre Bois: (more…)

[The following commentary discusses a recent attempt in Yemen to create religious police, such as are found in Iran, as an intrusion on Yemeni values and rights in the modern state.]

The paradox of “Mashaqir” and the religious police

Dr. Mohammed Al-Qadhi, Yemen Times

I think the best response to the establishment of a religious police force, under the banner of promoting virtue and curbing vice, is the mashaqir (traditional flowers women put on either side of their head) function run by the House of Folklore. I was extremely thrilled with spiritual joy with the function that revived in everybody nostalgia for a simple and pure life for both men and women free from extremism and fanaticism. The mashqour, a singular form of mashaqir, is a symbol of chastity and freedom women enjoyed in an ordinary rustic life. It also stands for an abused femininity now by a puritanical interpretation of life where everything is devilish and hellish and a male-dominated and masculine culture that considers women inferior to men.

See the paradox between a group of fundamentalist clerics that want to kill life and a function organized by Arwa Othman, director of House of Folklore, that wants to revive and breathe life into the society and women through restoring the culture of the mashaqir. (more…)

Remember your Rousseau: “man is born free, but he is everywhere in chains.” Updating the male-oriented language of his day, women must also be born free. Feminists would argue that everywhere she is also bound in chauvanistic chains, but what would Rousseau say about women who in some places are hidden away head to toe in full-length veils? To veil or not to veil: that has become more than a philosophical question these days. A recent legal opinion in France denied Faiza Silmi, a Moroccan woman, French citizenship because of her insistence on wearing the niqab, which obscured all but a narrow slit-view of her eyes in public. In a similar context, a Muslim woman in Florida was not allowed to have her driver’s license picture taken without showing her face. While relatively few Muslim women in Western societies choose to be chador laden or walk around in full-length woven tents, the few that do invariably stir strong feelings. If the intention is to be invisible, the opposite response is inevitable. In both these cases the issue was not one of physically removing their choice of dress in public, but one of a lack of the conformity necessary for negotiating individuality in the public sphere. If you want to become a French citizen, an option rather than a natural right, then you must accept the range of behavior agreed upon as acceptable in secular French culture. Dressing like Muhammad’s wives supposedly did in the 7th century may convince the authorities in Saudi Arabia, but modern France freed itself from the bloody history of religious bigotry that such symbols often cover. If you want the privilege of driving a car, then you need to pass a driving test and not obstruct your vision or prevent authorities from identifying you by failing to show your face. (more…)

One of the most common Orientalist tropes about the Middle East is the image of the camel, the ship of the desert. Bernard Lewis angered Edward Said by comparing one of the Arabic terms for revolution (thawra) to a camel’s rising, a point made in the old Arabic lexicons. But the camel strikes back on Sharjah Television. On the program “Medicine and Islam” the benefits of camel’s milk are spelled out, including some rather grand claims.

The video on Islamic Tube is accompanied by the following article from the Khaleej Times:

SHARJAH. A research body here is seeking global tie ups to produce drugs to treat deadly diseases including Aids from the unique antibodies found in camel`s milk. (more…)

Screening and Discussion:
Sneak Preview Screening of Jawad Metni’s “Lebanon Cluster Bomb”

To mark the 2nd anniversary of Israel’s brutal war on the people of Lebanon, Alwan for the Arts and Deep Dish TV present four evenings of films from Deep Dish TV’s new eight part television series NOTHING IS SAFE. The screenings are on consecutive Wednesdays July 23, July 30, Aug 6, and Aug 13.

July 30, 2008 Program
Free and Open to the Public
A sneak preview of Jawad Metni’s new feature documentary “Lebanon Cluster Bomb”

Sneak preview (2008, Jawad Metni, 90 min)

LEBANON CLUSTER BOMB follows the men and women of South Lebanon who were hired and trained to clear unexploded cluster munitions after the July 2006 war. The Israeli Defense Forces dropped nearly 1 million of these dangerous weapons across 40 million square meters of South Lebanon. Hundreds of thousands failed to explode, and continue to kill and maim civilians 2 years after the war. The film is a primer on the cluster munition problem in Lebanon, but much more so an intimate portrait of those struggling to rebuild their lives after the devastating 2006 war. The under-represented of South Lebanon are given voice here, as they work shoulder to shoulder to return the land back to their fellow Lebanese. (more…)

(A)-Map of tracksite with ornithopod (trackway o1) and sauropod (trackways s1–s11) trackways, (B)-Trackway of the ornithopod (trackway o1: steps 3–10), and (C)-Sauropod left manus and pes print (trackway s6: step 12).

Scientists have discovered the first dinosaur tracks on the Arabian Peninsula. In the May 21 issue of the journal PLoS ONE, they report evidence of a large ornithopod dinosaur, as well as a herd of 11 sauropods walking along a Mesozoic coastal mudflat in what is now the Republic of Yemen. “No dinosaur trackways had been found in this area previously. It’s really a blank spot on the map,” said Anne Schulp of the Maastricht Museum of Natural History in The Netherlands. He conducted the study with Ohio University paleontologist Nancy Stevens and Mohammed Al-Wosabi of Sana’a University in Yemen.

The finding also is an excellent example of dinosaur herding behavior, the researchers report. The site preserved footprints of 11 small and large sauropods — long-necked, herbivorous dinosaurs that lived in the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods — traveling together at the same speed. (more…)

by Omar Dewachi

On April 23 , the New York Times published an article, “A Bit of Old Baghdad With a Western Twist,” in its ‘Dining and Wine’ section, reviewing La Kabbr, an Iraqi restaurant in New York City. Instead of drawing on an expert of Iraqi cuisine, the author of the article chose to focus on the Times Bureau Chief in Baghdad, now the editor of the world section of the Times Magazine, who had spent 4 years covering the war. The article celebrated how this restaurant in New York has become a “clubhouse for journalists and officials who have spent time in Baghdad, and for Iraqi expatriates and Iraqi-Americans.” Aparisim (Byline, Bobby) Ghosh the Baghdad Bureau chief seems to speak as an authority of Iraqi cuisine when he is quoted in the article saying:

“I wonder why Iraqi cuisine is not more sophisticated,” he said. “It is essentially peasant food, which I happen to love because it fits my palate perfectly. But intellectually, you wonder why, with all of its influences, the food isn’t more complex.”


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