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Let’s Speak Dutch!

February 23, 2012

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by the awesome Bart Van Ballaert [ @bavbll ] from the University of Antwerp’s monthly paper “dwars“. Dwars has a monthly section for international students to contribute a piece of their choice – as long as it links to students at the university level. How great is that?

At first I was a little stumped on what to write about. But then it came to me – the political divide of student bodies in Lebanon, the country’s political parties and their influence in student elections, and of course Hezballah. However, with a little motivation, and a tiny idea given to me by Bart in regards to Hezballah and Lebanon’s American institutions, I was well on my way.

I think it is great to have a chance to talk about Lebanon whenever we get the chance. For a small country, we are largely misunderstood – on all levels. Speaking about such tiny things like student elections and student-body divide can go a long way. I encourage all of us to get involved and send out articles about Lebanon to international sections of any paper – student or other.

So, in conclusion – thanks Bart and thank you dwars!

Anyway, check it out on the dwars website where it can be downloaded in PDF format.

Loss Of A Great Voice

February 13, 2012

A lot of things have been wrong with the world lately. With chaos in almost every corner of the globe, I find it a little sad that we had to lose probably one of the greatest voices on the planet. Yeah, everyone jumps on the bandwagon when a celebrity passes – and I don’t want to be one of those people, but credit and respect must be given where it is due. Whitney Houston was a voice to remember and the news of her passing has touched people around the globe. So take this as my tribute to a legend.  Rest in Peace Whit.

A Video Of A Tribute For Whitney From Dubai

I Miss My Blog..

February 3, 2012

I miss blogging ;(

My Tweets On USA and the #MENA

January 3, 2012

As promised for those who asked, I have summed up my tweets on USA and Iraq here. Here you go, it all started with this tweet I came across:

Iraq’s Sunni finance minister narrowly survived a car bombing on Monday that has increased sectarian tension #Iraq http://tgr.ph/tMWv8E

This is what the Bush Administration has created

Okay, wait, let’s see #Iraq? Sectarian tensions? *grabs face* you dont say!! Iraq’s sectarian tensions have increased sectarian tensions in the whole region, if people haven’t noticed. Thank you very much Bush Administration. Pricks. Then, because of this, we have Christians saying “look at the Christians of Iraq”, and Sunnis saying “look what happened to us there”. So in other words, Bush’s illegal and unjust war on Iraq created hatred across the entire Middle East. Plus, us Lebanese? Look, tnen meto bi China lyoum, shu ra2ykon n2atil ba3ed kermeilon? Sectarian issues my ass… we are just puppets in a US play. Hell yeah!

Then we, the stupid Arab world, thought the US wanted oil. OBVIOUSLY NOT, they have something much better. A #MENA thats killing itself. You think the USA didnt know they were gonna have to pull out of#Iraq? And that Iran wouldn’t fill the power vacuum? Yes! They wanted that so Sunni Arab World can claim Iran is out for them, take it out on Arab Shiites and there you go! They play must go on!

Now don’t get me wrong, Iran – like Turkey, is a threat to the Arab world. But I think we have bigger fish to fry. Plus, question? Had the Arab world been functioning properly, would Turkey and Iran have a say in our affairs? Nope. So back to my post on my blog last week – the older Arab generations RUINED us. We sit at the mercy of sectarian Iran and power hungry Turkey. SOO, when power-hungry “Empire States” support one or another in our region, it does one thing – keep thugs like Assad in power longer. In order for a proper Arab Spring to take course, we need to drop our attachments to Iran, KSA, France, Turkey. Its for the Arab people, not for the Iranian and Turkish benefits. Its us who die and suffer. So in other words, drop the Empire fucks and focus on us ONLY. I am a “Sunni” – IDC if Turks are all Sunni or supporting the “Sunni Cause”. Theyre only doing it for one reason – more power in the region. Same thing with Iran and the “Shiite Cause”.

IDC what anyone says. Screw all of these outside fucks. Time for us to wake up. Thanks again Bush Administration. Putting us behind the rest of the world for another 60 years. Increasing our tensions, war, killings, and instability. On, and for opening the doors for outside nations to continue what you started – destroying the #MENA.

The Older Arab Generations Ruined Us

December 27, 2011

In the Middle East, and usually around the world, older generations are usually seen to be wise individuals who you give good advice and know how the world works and what to do with large problems…any problem really. I, a youth of the Arab World, disagree with this. I disagree with all of this. I disagree with this whole “older people are wiser” bullshit.

With all that’s going around us in the region, I have realized this “older the wiser” crap is just that. Crap. It dawned on me one day, we are in the current situation now because of the mistakes of the generations before us. I was speaking to my father about the current situation we are in earlier on in the day. It was then, and there, I realized the older generations of Arabs are a mess. My father hold a P.hD – he is a very educated man, his friend also is a very well-read man – so you would expect more logic and more open-mindedness from two educated people. It was there I realized that, well, these older generations believe what they want to believe because not only does it suit their personal opinions, but because whatever they support (or not support) gives them two excuses:

1.) To give the mistakes, they know they made, some legitimacy.
2.) To allow them to further cling on to this “power” they believe they have.

Either way, it is frustrating and the best way to anger someone. You know, its also very insulting. They see the auditions on Arab Idol and Superstar then say “this is your generation of the revolutions?”. They sit back and watch the uprisings and protests and crying youth who have no jobs and say “it’s okay, God will send us. We should focus on Israel”. You know what? NO. We shouldn’t. How do we stand up to Israel and the USA when we have so much garbage, so much hurt, and so much problems going on in our nations? Don’t you have to be strong in order to stand up to those who oppress us and hurt us? Don’t we have to clean up the mess we have first in order to clean the mess of the others? To them? The answer is no.

Youth around the world have opportunities and scholarships and job offerings – we sit at home and watch the flies sit on the wall. When they get angry, they are heard and supported by their families and friends until those in power listen to them. Then, when we have reached breaking point, we leave our homes and our nations and sit in God-forsaken foreign lands to make a living – and while doing so we live in humiliation and heartbreak. Why? Because these older generations could not make us a future in our home lands. Why do we have to leave Jordan and Lebanon to live? Why do we have to leave because these regimes YOU IDIOTS put in power hurt us further and dig us deeper into the ground? Why do we have to keep quiet while the situations you created for us get more out of hand? You expect us to do what you did? Hold onto our Bibles and Qurans and say tomorrow God will give us a better day? No.

I came across another older individual on Facebook today who really angered me. I tweeted about it. I think in my anger, and through my tweets, I conveyed this idea much more effectively than I ever could now (calm). I received a suggestion to sit and post my tweets here, on my blog post. I will do so here (in paragraph form), although they were a series of tweets. They were as follows:

You know what? I am going to put #Syria on the side for a quick second. Im sick and tired of 60 year old Arabs trying to tell us what to do, your generations had the chance and you guys ALL failed us. Soon you will all die, and we are left to clean up your shit. It is the younger Arab generations who have a say now. It is US who choose what we want to do with our nations and our futures. Leave us to do our thing! US = Arab youth around the #MENA. Leave us to make our future, you failed in making us one, we must do it now. I have just about had it with these 60-90 year old Arabs talking like were fools. Walk yourselves to your homes and shut up…NOW! While you sat in your living rooms cheering on the pieces of scum who have destroyed us year after year, we grew up ans have no future. I understand what the Arab youth are doing now is new and different and out of the norm for you older generations, but do you blame us?

The Arab youth are NOT drug-addicts, and uneducated thugs. We ARE educated and we have no jobs, no futures, no money..nothing! What do we do? Do we sit and watch you guys further dig us to the ground? No. We will not. None of us will. We need to live.We need some light in the darkness you older generations created and put us in. No more darkness. Hello lights. Don’t like it? Too bad :D. If we get arrested, if we get shot…good. Maybe those after us or those who survive may have a future. I am done with you old Arabs. Give yourselves a pat on the backs, you ruined us and created what we have today – more uncertainty than ever before.

And that’s it. Older Arab generations can’t let go of this “authority” they think they have. Its stupid. It’s our future. You stayed quiet when your rights were oppressed, you stayed quiet when you had no jobs, you stayed quiet when you couldn’t drive because you are a woman, you stayed quiet when minorities were slaughtered, you stayed quiet when you couldn’t go to universities because it was expensive, you stayed quiet when you were slaughtered, and you stayed quiet when no jobs were available to you because the regimes and leaders want to keep you poor and under their control. Those days are done and gone.

Welcome to the light. You can’t handle it? Put some shades on. It’s our Middle East now.

Patriarch Rai Of Lebanon

December 27, 2011

Patriarch Nasrall Botrous Sfeir

I think many were saddened that Lebanon’s long-time Patriarch Mar Cardinal Nasrallah Boutrous Sfeir gave up his post after all these years in the position – I, was one of these people. Being an influential religious, and often political, character I believe that him resigning was a very scary thing for the Maronite Church and many of the Lebanese people. I, although not Maronite, found myself thinking about who would replace such a man. Then, Bechara Rai (or Patriarch Bechara Rai) took over the post.

I know his taking over the post has been ages but I didn’t know what to think of him. Really. I know the opinions of Lebanon’s Maronites is what matters most, however, one cannot deny the importance of Lebanon’s Patriarch. I do confess, many other groups in the country have for the most part “made null” many of the nation’s institutions and organizations *cough* – but I would love to think that the Bkerke still is as influential as it has been for hundreds of years prior.

Bkerke - The seat of the Maronite Church

So looking at Patriarch Rai now, I think the Lebanese Maronite Church is looking for a very bright future. Now, I know he is popular among many groups, simply because they think he “supports them and their cause”…but I do not think that’s the case, but let them pretend. His “cause’ is the Church and those who follow his leadership – I digress. The point is, looking at Rai’s decisions in his short time in leadership, I have to say he has won me over quite a bit.

I find him a breathe of fresh air for Lebanon’s Christians – and, ironically, Muslims. When I listen, or read, on Rai I find a man so devoutly in love with the nation he comes from and the history of it’s people and Church. Many times over the past few months Rai has made me feel more at ease when it comes to Lebanon. He is active, vocal, says his opinions honestly and openly, and couldn’t care less about what anyone thinks or says about his opinions. In other words, Rai has taken on the role as a LEADER and not a follower – something any religious institution needs.

Patriarch Bechara Rai

Lebanon, however, has a problem. When changes occur in the region, Lebanon changes as well – however, we as the Lebanese see this as hypocrisy and “timsee7 joukh“. In mid-September, speaking from Paris, Patriarch Rai upset many by stating that “as long as their is an Israeli occupation, Hezballah should keep it’t arms”. This, naturally, sent all the yellow-flag holding supporters of Hezballah into a love fest for Rai. Oddly enough, as the region and Lebanese politics changes again, Rai (this week) shared opinions with March 14’s Future Movement, calling for a “weapon free Lebanon”… he stated the following:

“It is the duty of the state alone, entrusted with the security of its citizens and peace in the country, to collect weapons and place them under the sole control of legitimate Lebanese forces so that Beirut and all of Lebanon can become weapons-free” – The Daily Star

Not surprisingly, this set many who once flocked to the streets of South Lebanon to greet the Patriarch soon after taking his post into a little bit of an angry fuss. Now, many will tell you “no”, so let me quote: “Rai changed his mind? Forgot what he said earlier? Brianwashed or he got a hefty payment”. Honestly, I do not think that Rai is one to accept bribes from ANYONE. His statements regarding France’s comments calling for “Christians to leave Lebanon for Paris” was enough proof of that. No?

Also, I think it’s important to mention one of Rai’s most amazing moments – calling the regions Christians to “remain strong and persistent and to not flee their countries”. Great! I think I also read once that Rai and the Vatican were trying to bring Christians who left Lebanon back home – even offering aid. Another great move on his behalf.

Patriarch Rai on his South Lebanon tour

Recently, he also addressed the issue of “Land Sale” in Lebanon, calling it “a treason for a Lebanese to sell his/her land”. No to mention the controversy he sparked by voicing his support for civil-marriage in Lebanon, stressing on the government to make it compulsory. He also renewed his call for a new social contract among the Lebanese based on the 1943 National Pact. Wow. Talk about a man tackling many of Lebanon’s problems. I really believe this man is looking for change and betterment in Lebanon – even if many believe it is for the interest of Lebanese Christians only. That’s ridiculous – the man addresses all Lebanon, and so what if he places emphasis on Lebanon’s Christians are we forgeting the man is a religious leader of an entire Christian sect?

On December 2nd, the Patriarch’s stance (and comments) about “not hiring non-Christian employees in Lebanon’s Christian institutions” sparked some outrage. Some called it sectarian. Others looked at it as a silly comment. I personally agree with him. Why? Well why should they hire non-Christians when so many of Lebanon’s Christians (including refugees) are out of work? I mean I would have said the same things after the murder of Myriam Ashkar. Are we surprised? Obviously many were offended. Plus I do remember Rai stressing on “non-Christian FOREIGNERS”.

The 77th Maronite Patriarch: Bechara Rai

So what if Rai is not all for the Syrian Revolution (even though hes not against it out of love for the regime, you can listen to his words to Vatican Radio here)? It does not mean he is for one political party over another – he made that clear in St. Louis, Missouri, USA by stating: “I do not follow any party. The Patriarch does not follow any party, he is followed by them”. Amen to that your Beatitude…Amen to that.

Looking at how active he is in Lebanon, especially at a time when we have psychotic Islamist groups jumping around the Middle East (yes, Sunni and Shia, lets not lie and say only one of them is to blame), it is a good time to have a Christian leader being so vocal about everything in his nation – no matter what they are. Now, after listening to the Christmas address by Patriarch Rai, I have even more hopes for Lebanon and it’s Christians.What do you guys say? Agree or disagree?

**Looking to discuss? I came across this Article on NowLebanon. It seem’s Patriarch Rai isn’t so popular with  many journalists. Take a read why and give me your thoughts: Between Father Paolo and Patriarch Rai, a mountain of disgrace
To read more: http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=341827&MID=0&PID=0#ixzz1hibPSL2F

Films of The Middle East: Sounds of Oud

December 25, 2011

With the current film “Beirut Hotel” being censored in Lebanon earlier on in the month – yet another fail on behalf of the Lebanese censoring committee – I think its good to shed light on many other films coming in the MENA region.  Here’s the thing. I am all for the freedom of expression in the Middle East, simply because it’s what this region is trying its very hardest to achieve. But besides that, and besides the idea of freedom of expression and so on, I believe the culture of the region (or various cultures) are all beautiful in so many ways. Sharing them with the world really is a must – especially for a region so greatly misunderstood.

I decided to do a feature on a film that came my way. However, if you have an suggestions for any other films or musicians in the Middle East/North Africa region that you feel need recognition, pass it my way in the comments and I would gladly look into them!

Sounds of Oud scene

With that said, a very intriguing film was brought to my attention by a very dear friend of mine. Now this film has caught my attention for more than one reason, primarily because it is a Yemeni film. It seems that in the Middle East, Lebanese and Egyptian films always get the recognition (which are deserving, don’t get me wrong), when our neighbors around us all are producing awesome films as well. Personally, I have never watched a Yemeni film (or Arab film directed by a Yemeni), so I find the idea of  it to be a breathe of fresh air. So back to the main point of this post. Arie [@Dilmunite] contacted me about the film early on last week. Let me give you the gist of what its all about. A Middle Eastern couple moves to New York City to start a new life together. You can imagine the conflicts that arise when any couple coming form a land bound by tradition, faith, and culture move to the USA. The film focuses on the wife, Rasha, and her husband Jawad. However, Rasha realizes her husband’s love does not belong to her… dun dun dun!

Another scene from Sounds of Oud

I don’t expect this film to be viewed in Lebanese theaters however. Tackling various topics from love, sex, Islam, homosexuality, and conflict of cultures – it doesn’t sound like something our censoring committee in Lebanon would approve of. Again, what a shame. However, with its release date set for some time in 2012, I hope we can fix our censorship issues by then [LOL].

The film is directed by Ibi Ibrahim [ @ibiibrahim ], who last year won the GLAAD award, and who I also expect to direct much more films in the future with great success. I have heard remarkable things about Ibi, so really, I am expecting a lot more awesome works from him. If you are like me, then music plays a big role in any film. With music by the Lebanese May Nasr and the very talented Gaida - I think music selection is just amazing.

A third scene from Sounds Of Oud

With all that said, I must point out that like any director with a new film coming out for the first time, Ibi Ibrahim seems to be short of funds to help with the finishing touches of the film. This is totally a normal thing, I am sure even the biggest of directors across the world will tell you the troubles they encountered when creating their first works. But it goes just beyond the issue of funds. Getting the word for this film [and any other film from the region] out is crucial. People need to hear about a film in order to view it, and ultimately make it a success. I know of a campaign that is set up here that was established in order to raise the needed funds to help this film pay for the final touch-ups. But, like I said, funds aren’t the only thing that matters. Share information about the film, let people expect it.

Sounds of Oud scene

I think the primary point of this post is, well, we really have a lot of talent, and we really have a lot to show the world about our region, our lives, and the problems we share with the globe as a whole. Film is an expression of oneself, a people, emotions, and ideas – and we have some pretty good ones floating about. Nadine Labaki is one fine example of how the Arab world shone and continues to shine in film. So lets put more of that talent out there. Hollywood’s getting old and dry, and we have a lot of untapped topics that we can share ;). So, soon enough this film will be out and hopefully it will be screened in theaters where you live. Give it a watch.

Sounds of Oud trailer: http://vimeo.com/27066055
Sounds of Oud Facebook Page:  http://www.facebook.com/soundsofoud [photos in this post all came from here]

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