May 29, 2006

The Hijab: The Pathway to Fame?

I watched with great interest yesterday the weekly program on LBC, الحدث ("The Event"). The program, hosted by Shada Omar, discusses issues of interest to Lebanon and the Arab region including those related to politics, economics, and society at large. Yesterday's show focused on what the producers called a "new trend" on the small and big screen in the Arab world: actresses, singers, presenters, and news anchors donning the Islamic headdress, the hijab. The topic of the show was not whether hijab is a requirement for Muslim women, but whether the decisions of various popular female personalities to dress this way was driven by a quest for more popularity and fame. Without a doubt, it was a heated discussion between the show's guests because the issue involves fame, religion, women, and of course: "the veil".

I'd like to reflect on some of the statements made by the women on the show, and elaborate on the topic of the show without getting into the religious intricacies related to whether hijab is a requirement in Islam and the bigger issue of women & Islam. So please, take this as a disclaimer. I'll try my best to focus on the issue discussed on the LBC show without digressing too much. Also, I will attribute to the guests statements that I recall them making on the show in Arabic and will translate to the best of my abilities in English. This is *not* an English translated transcript for the show, rather my own interpretation of the statements, and I will try to make it clear when I'm putting my own thoughts and when they are the speakers' own words (from my memory).

The show featured three female guests: Khadija Ben Guenna, senior AlJazeera news anchor & presenter; Mona Abdel-Ghani, Egyptian actress & singer; and Iqbal Barakah, editor-in-chief of the Egyptian women's magazine "Hawwa". Khadija and Mona chose to begin wearing the hijab in the past few years and have fervently defended their decision to do so as a personal matter. Of course, women like these two who became "household names" initially gained a lot of media attention for donning the hijab, considered a "controversial" issue for some people. Most female artists in the Arab world who choose to make this decision usually put an end to their acting or singing careers and choose to remain out of the spotlight for a few years, although some return to host Islamic oriented shows or play less scandalous roles in TV series or movies.

Iqbal Baraka, who repeatedly nagged about authoring a new book on the subject, accused Ben Guenna and Abdel Ghani and other popular female figures of choosing to wear the hijab in order to gain attention and fame. She argued that these women represented a "dangerous" trend that "pressured" women across the Arab world to follow in their footsteps and take on this "radical" step, which she believes is not required by Islam. At one point she said, "I don't want to learn my religion from a women who just decided to wear the hijab and who probably knows less than I do about Islam. She's not a scholar, yet when she dons the headscarf, people treat her like she is. She receives offers to host religious programs and is instantly on the cover of popular magazines across the region." In my view, Baraka came off as unprofessional and simply weak in her argument because she resorted to personal attacks (see below) and ignorant generalizations.

Khadija Ben Guenna was the most eloquent of all, as I had imagined she would be. She spoke using sound arguments, and defended herself not by attacking others, but by using pure logic. She wondered why people made a huge fuss about her personal decision to wear the hijab, which she said was rooted in personal conviction and without any desire for fame. She bluntly told Baraka that she was a well-respected and popular news anchor before she wore the hijab, so she didn't need to wear a headscarf to gain attention. Khadija added that she had expected to be faced with a negative reaction and prepared herself for this challenge, but was now being accused of having ulterior motives for her choice of dress. Directing her question to Baraka, Ben Guenna asked "why some women who claim to champion women's rights seek to constrain other women like herself from practicing their religion freely, a right that is guaranteed in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?" She also mentioned that ban on the headscarf that countries such as Turkey and France have in place which cause significant challenges for many Muslim women. This includes herself as she experienced this scrutiny when she was assigned to interview French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin whose country recently decided to ban the hijab in state schools. Ben Guenna added, "In many Muslim countries today, Muslim women wearing the headscarf represent a majority. If television and art is a representation of popular culture, shouldn't these millions of modestly dressed women be entitled to a handful of females on television screens who 'represent' them?! Is it too much to ask for some representation?" I think not.

Mona Abdel Ghani also stated that her hijab was her personal choice and that she did not accept this generalization about the motives of actresses like her who had begun wearing the hijab. She bothered me a little because she kept interrupting the guests and didn't speak as eloquently as Ben Guenna, but then again the latter is a respected and well-educated journalist whose job depends on her ability to speak publicly. (This article gives a better idea of Mona's thoughts on her hijab decision).

Hanan Turk, one of the most popular actresses in the Arab world today, also appeared on the show via phone as she confirmed rumors that she had decided to wear the hijab in the past few days. Asked by the show's host for the reasons why she had made this decision at this point in time, Hanan confidently responded saying that she had been "considering this issue for years now" and that Allah had finally given her "the strength to take this step." Is this a temporary thing or your final decision? asked the host. Hanan said that she had taken this decision with "full conviction" that it was something she was "required to do by her religion as a Muslim woman" and that she "prayed to Allah to help her remain steadfast and patient." She said that she is not stopping her acting career, and is in the midst of taping the series "Awlad Shawari3" produced by Dubai TV. As soon as the call with Turk ended, Iqbal Baraka began attacking her, sarcastically saying "Thank you Hanan for that wonderfully crafted speech which I can see took you a long time to memorize and practice. Now that you are such a religious and spiritual person, you can keep regurgitating these lines all over television shows and in other interviews." How much more childish could Baraka get?

In any case, I found the discussion to be insightful especially because it was not just another show that attempted to delve into the scriptural details of the obligation of modesty in Islam. This type of discussion usually gets out of hand and defeats the purpose as most guests on such shows loose their temper and begin hurling insults at one another.

My personal view on the whole subject can be narrowed down to a few rather simple points:

1. Women, Muslim or not, should have the right to dress in any way they want without being intimidated or discriminated against. Whether it is a headscarf, yarmulke, or sari, such choices are personal and should be respected especially when they are a manifestation of an individual's religious beliefs. These decisions do not threaten the freedoms of others and therefore should not be scrutinized and/or jeopardized.

2. The decisions of women to put on or remove the hijab is a personal, regardless of whether they are public figures or not. In Islam, the belief is that individuals will be judged for their actions and intentions, the latter of which can only be determined by Allah. Therefore, speculations about the reasons why a news anchor wears a headscarf are simply that: speculations. Whether I agree or disagree with the individual's choice, I should not be allowed to prevent them from making that choice.

3. Feminists and others who's goal is to champion women's rights should be the first to defend a Muslim woman's right to wear a headscarf. As long as it is a personal choice and not one that is forced by any other individual, then there should not be any consternation about it. Islam itself is a religion that does not advocate any compulsion with regards to religious duties, "Let there be no compulsion in religion" 2:256. The idea that women who did not wear it before, especially those who are educated professionals such as Ben Guenna, are forced to wear it is absurd.

4. If anyone is pressuring young girls in the Arab world to dress a certain way it is the dozens of scandalously-clad-cheap-looking-hoe-like "pop stars" who's skirts keep inching higher and tops inching lower. Their images are plastered on billboards and music videos are incessantly replayed across every TV screen in the Middle East. The idea that modestly dressed women on a few religiously oriented programs and possibly a news anchor or two are "pressuring" young girls in the Middle East to dress more conservatively is laughable. The latter are proving to be role models for young girls, empowering them to educate themselves, and decide if that is a step they would want to take. On the other hand, the Haifa Wahbi type wardrobe sits in the windows of boutiques and malls across Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, luring young girls to show as much skin as possible, inevitably turning some girls into the sex-symbols that feminists should be speaking out against.

5. The real pressure is also on news anchors, presenters, and even other singers who choose to remain somewhat descent when they appear on our television screens. Whether they are threatened with losing their job for choosing to wear a headscarf or refusing to wear a tighter shirt and shorter skirt, women in all fields and especially those public ones are losing this freedom of choice. As long as her way of dressing does not get in the way of completing her job, then women should not be harassed to wear or not to wear the hijab or any other article of clothing.

Clearly, this subject is larger than one single post, and I may come back to it because it has been deemed so "controversial" in recent times, an argument I simply don't buy. The root of the issue is freedom of choice, which should be respected by all to avoid discrimination against certain segments of society who wish to fulfill certain religious or moral obligations. Intentions of individuals are theirs alone, and whether we believe they are pure or not, does not entitle us to discriminate against them, especially in the work force and education sector. Preventing women from getting an education because of their dress does not liberate them and will only help to promote ignorance and oppression.

I'd like to see the energy used on debating the hijab focused on more pressing issues facing women in the Middle East such as lack of access to education, discrimination in the workforce, domestic abuse, health problems, lack of political participation, etc. I don't like double standards. A woman's choice is a woman's choice, whether it's considered "liberal", "conservative", "Marxist" or anything in between. Unfortunately, when the spotlight is placed on women's rights in Islam, double-standards, generalizations, and misconceptions are common.

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May 28, 2006

"And so, chaos reigns" Iraq

The meeting between President Bush and PM Blair last week attempted to show support for the new Iraqi government and reassure the world the Iraq is indeed on the right path towards democracy. Most observers, however, quickly picked up on the uncertainty that laced the leaders' words, especially as Bush expressed regret for egging on the Iraqi insurgents in July 2003 (it was one of his many cowboy moments) when he said: "bring 'em on!". Iraqi government or no Iraqi government, the reality of the situation across the Cradle of Civilizations is chaotic at best. My friend and fellow blogger Fatima describes the challenges of everday life in post-war Baghdad, from sleepless nights without electricity to risky walks to the grocery store. This is from her latest post:
So I continued the other way, and stopped by to chat with my husband's aunt. She was telling me that her 20 year old son, B, was standing in line for gasoline this morning, and saw some cars pull up and shoot some poor guy in front of his house. His body was left out in the burning sun for a couple of hours before anyone picked him up. Horrible, but sadly becoming a daily recurrence here.
She also describes the measures average Iraqis have taken to protect themselves and their property because they cannot rely on the government to ensure their safety:
This particular neighbor had their oven gas canisters stolen on two different occasions from their doorstep. Since then, they have covered their gate with barbed wire, and put a spiky metal piece on top of their gate door. They had to take security matters into their own hand, because no matter how many times these thieves come to our neighborhood, more than likely, no policeman has the time, dedication nor ability to catch them. And so, chaos reigns.
This is the reality of Iraq today. I don't want to hear Rumsefeld's rhetoric about a few thousand Iraqi policemen who were trained. Don't tell me about improving electricity or water availability or catching insurgents when every family suffers because the lack of the most basic needs that were available even during Saddam's reign.

For god's sake, just admit you were wrong, Messieurs Bush, Blair, Cheney, Rumsfeld. Admit you had no plan B. Admit that you invaded Iraq knowing you could win the battle but forgetting that you had to also win the peace. Admit that your "coalition" was the weakest that history has seen and now has fallen apart. Admit that you ignored advice from top level officials and continue to ignore advice from congressmen and former military men who are telling you that you are only digging yourself a deeper hole.

Your dignity has already been lost.
Your words are no longer believed.
Your rhetoric is "so yesterday."

Relevant articles:
Iraq is the Republic of Fear; The Inshallah Occupation; Exporting Chaos*

h/t Jordan Journals]

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May 27, 2006

Another Quake...Another Devastation

Of course they are bound to occur. Natural disasters are usually unaviodable. Humans attempt to build structures to stem the effects of hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, etc. We try to take precautions and prepare people so that they can take specific steps that will help them save their lives and belongings during such disasters. But there is only so much individuals can do.

Governments of course have a role because we entrust them with providing us security and stability in our lives, including during natural disasters. But not all governments are equal. Not all states have similar resources.

So why not creat an international force that can leap into action at the first signs of an earthquake, tsunami, or hurricane?

This would be a neutral, strictly humanitarian coalition of professionals including doctors, nurses, paramedics, rescuers, engineers, etc who would be trained in dealing with disaster stricken areas of all kinds. At the first sign of such a disaster, the affected nation would immediately contact this UN sponsored committee and ask for assistance.

Without too much paperwork and bureaucratic strings attached, this international force would leap into action and be ready to go within hours of notification. They should arrive at the disaster zone no later than 24 hours from the time of contact and shall be equipped with all necessary equipment for them to do their work efficiently. Their work is saving lives. Period.

The amount of people who are afflicted with disease, hunger, malnutrition, etc in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster can be significantly diminished if such a force existed to help with food distribution, setting up temporary homes, and make-shift hospitals.
I realize that when such disasters occur, many governments around the world extend their hands in assistance with money, manpower, medicine, food, etc. However, this usually takes a few days before individuals are deployed to the disaster zone. An internationally sanctioned humanitarian force would be more efficient and more powerful in numbers and tools to do the work they need to do.

If such an entity already exists, then I am not aware of it as I did not see it put to work during the earthquake in Iran, the tsunami in East Asia, Hurricane Katrina, and many others.

The devastating earthquake in Indonesia is a sad reminder to us all. For the sake of thousands that have already died, and the many others that have been displaced and injured because of these disasters, will someone please do something?

UN Security Council jocks, are you listening to me?!

[photo of Indonesia earthquake aftermath, Reuters]
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May 24, 2006

Palestinian Sanctions Bill Passed as Olmert Addresses Congress

A bill seeking to impose sanctions on the Palestinians for participating in democratic elections that resulted in the success of a party not in the liking of the US was passed yesterday by a majority in the House. For more on the serious consequences of this bill, see my earlier post. Despite the fact that 361 congressmen voted for the bill, grassroots campaigns by pro-Palestinian organizations here in the US helped to delay the vote, trigger serious debate on the House floor, and spur some changes in the bill. Here is what the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation had to say:

Although the bill passed, our tremendous grassroots opposition to it prevented the bill's supporters from rushing it through for a quick vote with no debate. We succeeded in delaying the bill for months, helped to get it watered down at the committee level, and forced AIPAC to expend enormous amounts of political capital to pass it.

In fact, our opposition helped generate something last night on the floor of the House of Representatives that has not occurred in a long time: the House held an open and honest debate about US policy toward Israel/Palestine for nearly three hours. This afforded many Members of Congress an opportunity to speak out in forceful terms against the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act (Congressional Record, H2990-H3012).

Even though the House has passed the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, it is still a long way from becoming law. The Senate has yet to take up its less draconian version of the bill (S2370) and even if the Senate passes this bill, it will need to be reconciled by both houses in committee and signed by the President before becoming law. In other words, we still have many opportunities to continue to mobilize opposition to sanctioning the Palestinian people for exercising their right to vote.

The US Campaign urges its supporters to take one additional, extremely important action on HR4681. Please contact the Representatives who voted against or abstained on HR4681 and/or who spoke against the resolution last night. It is especially important if you and your organizations reside in the district of a Representative who took one or more of these steps against the resolution. It is critically important for Representatives to receive support when they act or vote courageously.

TAKE ACTION: Contact Representatives who voted against or abstained on HR4681 and/or who spoke against the resolution. To send a letter to them, click here. You can also call the Capitol switchboard at 1-888-355-3588 and ask to be transferred, or call them directly on the numbers below.

Click here to find out how your congressman voted on this bill and contact them ASAP with a letter of support or a letter expressing your disappointment for the way he/she voted. The main goal of any congressman is to be voted again to office this November, and their future is in your hands. Give them a piece of your mind and let them know that they will or will not have your support in the upcoming November elections. Your voice does make a difference.

Meanwhile, Israeli PM Ehud Olmert received a red carpet kind of welcome as he met with President Bush and later addressed a joint session of Congress-- "a rare honour reserved for close allies of the US." The US media is still apparently very confused about whether Bush is backing or rejecting Olmert's West Bank withdrawl plan. Olmert of course needs strong support from the administration and Congress because "withdrawl" plans require lots of US tax payer $$$. Yes, that means your money and my money, Mr. Average American Joe.

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May 23, 2006

When the "Sniper" hit home: a personal account

Some of you may have heard about the "sniper attacks" that haunted the Washington D.C. metro area in October 2002 and ended up killing 10 innocent people. An article today on the CNN homepage brought back memories of the horrifying experience that we went through during those three weeks in October. This is the main headline from the story:
Lee Boyd Malvo testified Tuesday that his former partner and father figure, John Allen Muhammad, told him before the 2002 sniper attacks "we're going to terrorize this nation."
Malvo said Muhammad also outlined a plan for six sniper shootings a day for 30 days, to be followed by a bombing campaign that would target schools, school buses and children's hospitals.
Some people are really sick and I wish we could get all these psychopaths in hospitals before they go out on shooting sprees like these two did. So what was it like to drive the streets of northern Virginia knowing that there are two men lurking out there killing people through a small hole in a white van? It was scary as hell.

I first found out about this early on October 3rd when I tuned in to watch the morning news. All the local networks were covering this story of a series of shootings which they were still unsure if they were all connected. Now shootings in various parts of the DC region is not uncommon, but the way the networks were covering these shootings live from the scenes and waiting for press conferences caught my attention. I was glued to the TV for an hour or so, as the news started to come in reporting that two women had been killed within one hour, one while reading a book on a bench and the other while pumping gas into her car.

At that point, the police hadn't connected a shooting that had occurred the night before in a grocery store parking lot, and 2 other shootings earlier in the morning that killed a man mowing his lawn and another cab driver pumping gas into his car.

Now everyone was one edge, waiting for the forensic reports to indicate whether the shots fired were from the same gun, and therefore from the same shooter.

When I finally managed to get myself away from the TV, I headed to my university with the radio on still following the investigations, and getting more freaked out by the minute.

That evening, the forensics reports proved that all 5 victims so far had been shot by the same gun, and that eyewitness reports indicated that a "boxy white van" had been seen in the area before a few of the shootings.

By the time I come home from college, everyone is talking about the "sniper," as he/they came to be known. A few hours later, we would find out on the 11 o'clock news that another innocent person had been killed, this time a 72-year old walking on a street in D.C.

The problem is that there was nothing in common among the victims. Their ages varied widely, men and women, of all races and ethnicities (white, black, Hispanic, Indian, etc), of all social classes, and in various areas of the DC metro region and during all times of the day and night.

They were completely random shootings which made anyone living in northern VA, southern MD, and Washington D.C. a possible victim. That includes myself, my family, my friends, my co-workers, my college classmates, my professors...everyone one of us was a potential target.

The tips from various individuals that the sniper was traveling in white boxy van was probably the worst part of this ordeal. I'm not sure if it's just this area that we live in or all over the US, but white boxy vans are everywhere! They are used mainly by various kinds of services such as painters, carpet cleaners and movers, A/C fixers, plumbers, handy men, craftsmen, and various other types of businesses. If you don't see like 10 of them on the road everyday then something must be wrong! One of my neighbors even had one for a business that he had.

So you can imagine how scared people were as they drove in the streets and avoided every white van they saw. I would avoid eye contact with the drivers but still try to get a good look at them in case I saw something and had to give a description to the police. I examined their facial expressions and wondered if they were the sniper. They, on the other hand, looked just as scared as we all were. All of them were being scrutinized because of the possibility that one of them may be used by the sniper. They were even forced to stop at certain checkpoints and random stops by the police. Many businesses chose to stop using their trucks for a few days until things settled down. But the shootings continued, and got closer to my home.

Montgomery County police chief Charles Moose became a household name. We waited daily for his press conferences on the morning & evening news, to hear if the next victim was shot by the same gun. If there were any clues found at the scene. If there were any more tips that would help us find this animal who was terrorizing our towns. In D.C., volunteers from a group I can't remember the name of came to gas stations to fill up for people who were too scared to get out of their cars (4 people were killed at gas stations).

My family tried to limit our outings. They forced me to come home early from college, and drive on certain roads they thought were safer than others. They wanted me to avoid the highway which the police had said the sniper was traveling on. If a class was not important, don't go, they told me. "Don't go to the gas station; your dad will fill up for you." Just sit at home and wait for the bastard to be caught so we can live normally again.

But the shootings continued. A 13-year old boy was injured by a shot near his school. Mothers loading their shopping bags into minivans were killed in open parking lots. October 7, 9, 11, 14, 19, 21, 22, 23. During each of those days there was at least one shooting. The days that there weren't were even worse as the panic attacks continued. Schools considered shutting down until the sniper(s) was caught. The shooting on October 14th in the parking lot of Home Depot in Falls Church, Virginia was the closest to my home. Only 20 minutes away, I knew the area by heart; I had been in that parking lot; I had dined in the restaurant next door. This was too close, too damn close.

The media of course took this story and ran. We have a tendency here to blow things out of proportion, to scare people rather than make them feel safe. And the media did just that. Of course it was a scary and dangerous time, but the media used it to their advantage, getting people glued to their TV screens. I mean, in this area, we panic when we get more than 3 inches of snow and people rush to the stores to buy milk and bread, so you can imagine what it was like at this time.

Living in an area with a good number of Muslims and Arabs of course raised other fears. We prayed together and hoped that the perpetrator would not be Muslim or Arab. A year after 9/11, we did not need something like this to strike our community again. Please God don't let him be Muslim...Please.

With all the attention on the sniper, all the tips and all the clues, we all expected a Hollywood-like arrest. Maybe a high speed chase on our own Interstate-95. But the end wasn't even close to anything dramatic.

On October 24, police received a tip of a suspicious car in a Maryland highway rest stop. When the police arrived, they found two black men sleeping in their 1990 blue Chevrolet Caprice with a rifle that later proved to be the one used to target 11 of the 14 shootings. Wait, let me repeat, they were SLEEPING. And they were not in white van. The white van tip turned out to be fatally wrong. The men had a small firing port in the car where one could lie down and shoot without being seen and other drove the car after the shots were fired. The rifle could never be seen by the public.

And then, their names were revealed. The older man, John Allen Muhammad and his younger counterpart, 17-year old Lee Boyd Malvo, had worked together during the shooting spree. Originally John Allen Williams, he changed his name in Oct. 2001 after having joined the Nation of Islam a few years earlier.

Of course, our worst fears became a reality when we heard his last name, Muhammad. But the fact that he wasn't part of mainstream Islam, and that the investigation revealed that his religion was not a motive, put many of us at ease. They had planned to some how terrorize the region and extort $10 million from the US government.

Finally, the case was put to rest in our view when they were arrested, later charged, and eventually convicted and given the death penalty and life in prison (for the younger). It was something I had never experienced before, living in such fear. Of course the cliche is that it makes you appreciate the safety you live in. That my neighborhood has not witnessed any such crimes on a regular basis. That I don't find drug dealers near my home, or drive by shootings outside my window.

Thank God they were caught. They got what they deserved as they destroyed families and terrorized millions in our area.

[more on the sniper attacks]

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May 22, 2006

Action Alert: Don't Let the House Impose Sanctions on the Palestinians!

I just finished calling my representative's office in the House in regards to HR 4681 "The Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006" which seeks to impose sanctions against the Palestinian people for choosing to participate in democratic elections and subsequently electing Hamas to power.

The call was very easy and took literally 2 minutes from me, and thankfully congressman Jim Moran will most likely vote against the bill. Please don't underestimate the power you have as a constituent of your congressman.
Just call 1-888-355-3588 and ask for your representative in the House (you can find out who he/she is by entering your zip code here).

Once you are connected to your congressman's office, tell the staffer that you are a constituent and would like to urge you congressman to vote against HR 4681 because sanctions against the Palestinians would not be in the interest of the US right now, nor would it help put an end to the suffering and conflict in the Middle East today. This is not the right step, and will only cause more chaos in the territories which are already experiencing a humanitarian crisis. If your congressman is already voting against it, then call to express your support for his/her decision which is just as important as calling to express concern.

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation summarizes the reason why we are against HR 4681:

HR4681 is the most draconian sanctions bill that Congress has EVER considered imposing against the Palestinians. The anti-Palestinian sanctions in it include:

* Restricting US humanitarian aid and potentially eliminating entire US aid projects, such as infrastructure and small business development;

* Threatening to withhold a portion of US dues to the United Nations because it maintains bodies that advocate for Palestinian human rights and seek to hold Israel accountable to international law;

* Defining territory controlled nominally by the Palestinian Authority as a "terrorist sanctuary", thereby requiring US businesses to obtain special export licenses for most goods destined for the Occupied Palestinian Territories and gutting the provisions of the US free trade agreement with the West Bank and Gaza;

* Refusing visas to members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Palestinian Mission to the UN, even those who belong to political parties that the United States does not classify as "foreign terrorist organizations";

* Restricting the movement of PLO diplomats at the United Nations and threatening to close the PLO's office in Washington, and;

* Instructing the US representative to the World Bank to use the considerable strength of the United States in international financial institutions to vote against the continuation of humanitarian aid projects.

Please take 2 minutes out of your day and call 1-888-355-3588 right now, for the sake of the Palestinian people.

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May 20, 2006

More of the s(h)ame

After taking a short break from my usually "serious" political posts and from blogging all together, I tried to get back into "my mode" all day today but I just couldn't. I hit my usual daily visits to the BBC, Aljazeera, Washington Post, NYTimes, and the blogosphere in the hopes that a bright yellow bulb would light in my head or that something would catch my attention and produce a post, but alas, nothing. Nothing new that is.

Yes, the Iraqis finally managed to form themselves a government despite pressure from the Americans and from each ethno-religious faction to do this or that, or hand this ministry to this Shiite or that Kurd.

Meanwhile, the average Iraqi doesn't really give a damn because he's sitting at home, unemployed, afraid to be out buying groceries at 5 pm, listening to gun shots and mortars exploding outside his home, and attempting to rationalize the death of a close relative. He's also contemplating packing up and taking his family across the border like thousands of other Iraqis who simply find life in Iraq unbearable in every sense of the word.

Oh, and we can't forget about the Palestinians, can we know. An Israeli air strike killed a grandmother, mother, and her 4-year old son who were riding with a member of Islamic Jihad, the "target" of another Israeli state sanctioned assassination plot. In another incident, an explosion in an elevator killed 2 and seriously injured a dozen others including Tareq Abu Rajab, the head of intelligence for the PA. To make matters worse, Palestinian security officials accused Hamas of attempting to assassinate Abu Rajab, while Hamas called on all parties to remain calm and not jump to conclusions. This comes after Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas' continuous attacks and accusations of Hamas' involvement in the Jordan weapons smuggling fiasco. As if Hamas is still a party in opposition, and not a party in control of government, Abbas treats the Hamas-led government almost as an enemy, further enforcing the idea that a civil war is inevitable in Palestine, which I find highly unlikely. Hamas is not helping its image either by refusing to participate in investigations or respond fully to the accusations hurled at the government.

Meanwhile, the average Palestinian is caught in the middle of an international "mind game" that is essentially starving and killing dozens of innocent people as we speak because they decided to democratically hold a party accountable for years of corruption, theft, and utter recklessness in their handling of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as well as internal Palestinian affairs.

Normally I would be feeling frustrated and angry at all this. The problem is I feel nothing...almost indifferent. It's like déjà vu every day. So what's the difference? The other day I was watching the regular Aljazeera headlines at the top of the hour and what caught my attention was that there was no report of a car bomb or similar explosion in Iraq. I kept on listening, and even reading the headlines scrolling on the bottom of the screen, waiting for the number of dead today. But it wasn't in the top headlines. It's sad. Why do I notice such things? Have the car bombs become a norm? An expected headline everday? Do I just wait for the "number" of people who have lost their lives because some bastard decided he was powerful and smart enough to be able to drive a bomb laden car through a crowd on a Baghdad street? And what's the different between 10 and 75 anyway?

Or those poor souls in Darfur, protesting and begging for some attention from the world. Don't even get me started.

I wish I could visit the moon or Jupiter for a few days, or maybe a few months.

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May 18, 2006

Where is Waldo?


the sea of green

catch me if you can ;)

oh and that's only the College of Arts & Sciences, not the whole class of 2006!
( i couldn't resist not blogging for a day; but i promise to get back to all serious topics tomorrow :))

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May 17, 2006

Roses and Rain

A light post today with some pictures I took of a rainy day last Thursday, and a dozen beautiful roses. I should be back to blogging on Friday as tomorrow is my graduation ceremony :)

i know the flash was too much here but i liked how the colors turned out

the truth is, nothing can capture what the eye can seei love the flush of green in this picture
the rain from my bedroom window


May 16, 2006

Gamal Mubarak Meets "Secretly" with Officials in Washington

Last week, the Egyptian authorities conducted large numbers of arrests at various demonstrations in and around Cairo related to the judges' case and the temporary laws. The Egyptian "security" police arrested members of the Muslim Brotherhood, supporters of Kifaya, and others who were peacefully speaking out against the intimidation which two judges have been facing since they spoke out against the last parliamentary elections in Egypt. One of our fellow bloggers, Alaa, was also arrested which sparked wide spread condemnation throughout the Arab blogosphere.

The Bush administration mustered up a weak statement expressing "concern" with the Egyptian government's actions that stifle freedom of speech and expression. They followed that with a disclaimer that they were in no position to delve into the domestic issues of a country like Egypt, failing to mention that their $2 billion support for the government encourages such abuses.

Yesterday's episode of "From Washington" on Aljazeera with host Hafez Almirazi broke the story that a secret meeting had occurred between Egyptian and American officials. Aljazeera's White House correspondent had been there for a briefing when she spotted an Egyptian delegation (ambassador Nabil Fahmy and VP Gamal Mubarak) passing through to the Old Executive Building which houses the offices of VP Dick Cheney and National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley.

The reporter said that her calls to the Egyptian embassy resulted in top officials telling her that they had no knowledge of the visit. Later, the White House acknowledged that Gamal Mubarak and Fahmy were present for a meeting with Cheney and Hadley. President Bush also stopped by to say hello to Gamal, and Condi Rice also attended part of the meeting.

The visit is important because it was unannounced and wasn't meant to be public, and more importantly because it followed recent tensions in Egypt regarding the protests and arrests. Gamal Mubarak apparently came to reassure US officials that "democracy reforms" in Egypt were still being given top priority as the US had wanted, and that these "minor incidents" are not representative of the "progress" which Egypt is undergoing. This is what the WP had to say about the meeting:
Gamal Mubarak, 42, a powerful political player and widely considered a possible heir to his father, Hosni Mubarak, told the U.S. officials that Egypt is committed to further democracy but said it would be a long-term process that will include setbacks. "There was no tension at all," Egyptian Ambassador Nabil Fahmi said in an interview. "They listened to his explanation of what was happening." But U.S. officials have publicly called themselves "deeply concerned" about Egypt's recent actions and they used the opportunity to press upon Gamal Mubarak their views of what needs to be done to further genuine reform in Egypt, said a Bush administration official who was not authorized to discuss the meeting on the record. The administration has been impressed by Egypt's moves to restructure its economy but disappointed at the government's failure to open its political system more.
Ambassador Nabil Fahmy tried to sugarcoat the recent violence and give the impression that these were isolated incidents of protestors "breaking the law":
Fahmi called the clash an unfortunate upshot of a more democratic Egypt in which people previously silent now are expressing their views. "I just see this as a normal consequence of the opening-up process," he said. "Would it have been better if no one had gotten arrested during protests? Sure. . . . Hopefully, in time, people will demonstrate without violating the law, and demonstrations will occur without people getting arrested."
Oh thank god we have Fahmi and Gamal to tell us the truth; we thought something really serious was going on! Of course, the Egyptian police wouldn't have done anything wrong unless the protestors went overboard by breaking the law. These respectable individuals would never violate the law by beating, sexually harassing, and/or imprisoning innocent Egyptians! God forbid! Now that Gamal cleared everything up, we can continue to pump the millions into the coffers of his Papa!!!

related: TIME's Stomping on Democracy in Egypt

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May 15, 2006

On the anniversary of the Nakba: Israeli Oppression Continues, Palestinian Suffering Continues

I do not have a personal history related to the Nakba, the great catastrophe of 1948 in Palestine. My grandparents were not kicked out of their homes, they don't have keys to a home in a village somewhere in Palestine, they don't have memories of being forcibly removed from their homes.

My grandparents are not Palestinian, I don't think I have any Palestinian blood, per se.
But in my heart, I somehow feel Palestinian.
Somehow, some way, I feel a connection to this holy land. I feel connected to the suffering that occurs there everyday. I feel the sadness that many others feel on this 58th anniversary of the day when thousands were forcibly removed from their homes forever and others who died fighting the occupier.

I think about the millions of Palestinian refugees scattered across Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Europe, North America, and every corner of the earth...their dreams of returning to the land of their fathers and grandfathers. Many still live in refugee camps, unable to find a permanent home; many not wanting to find any home other than their own in Palestine.

Their right of return is constantly denied, questioned, and ridiculed. A cowboy from Texas thinks he can brush off this right with a simple statement on the White House lawn. He does not know or care to know what this "right" really means to millions across the globe. A rogue and racist government continues in the same path of its Zionist founders, denying the existence of the millions of Palestinians who are the true owners of the land which settlements are built upon.

This day is not just a remembrance for the events that occurred in 1948. The great catastrophe continues today as the occupation of Palestinian land continues, and the oppression of Palestinians continues on a daily basis. The Israeli government's efforts to kill off the Palestinians one by one is a reality, and their efforts to permanently separate Palestinians from their families and their homes is a law.

But why, why do I feel this pain for Palestine? Why does Palestine make me cry?

Maybe it is because I'm human. Or Muslim, Arab, or Jordanian. Maybe because somehow my parents raised me to love this land, to understand its significance. Maybe because injustice is something I can't accept. In the end, I don't think it matters as much why I love Palestine. What matters is how I love Palestine.

I dream of setting my foot in Jerusalem, sitting in the shade of the olive trees, praying in the Al-Aqsa mosque, smelling the holy air, walking in the old streets of al-Quds, and waving at the old man in the kafiyeh whose wrinkles tell the stories of a once peaceful yet currently miserable Palestine.

Ahh, Filasteen! Kulluna Filasteen. We are all Palestinian.

More on al-Nakba, the Great Catastrophe:
Al-Nakba Archive Project
Where is the global outcry at this continuing cruelty? (Guardian UK)
The great catastrophe (Guardian UK)
Palestine Remembered
Electronic Intifada on al-Nakba
(click to enlarge, courtesy of IMEU)

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May 14, 2006

Automatic Wudu' Machine

Is your mosque suffering from slippery bathroom floors because too many people are splashing around while making wudu'?
Do you notice that people are preforming the pre-prayer Islamic ritual in the wrong way?
Would you be interested in a tool that can help them make ablution the right way without wasting time teaching them how to do it?

Do not fear, the Automatic Wudu' Washer is here!
Coming to you all the way from Aussie land, this state of the art user-friendly technology is for all your wudu' needs. It does everything for you, without wasting or splashing too much water. It even dries you off, so no need for all those paper towels! It's clean, efficient, and very convenient for your home or business :)
(click photo to enlarge)
Order one today!

And for a limited time offer, when you order 10 AWW's, we will send you a complimentary Automatic PRAYER Chair*! Yes, you heard me, a Salat chair! Just pop your butt on the seat, strap your arms to the sides, and your feet to the bottom, and the rest is on us! The chair will move you in all the right directions. Worried about how long your ruku' or sujood will last? No worries! This amazing technology allows you to program how long your sujood and ruku' will last.

, there's more! The side of the headrest includes discreet earphones which you can put on and click on the chapter of the Quran that you would like to recite. Haven't been memorizing those verses have you? Well, no worries, the Quran recitation system is included and will help you if you stumble on a verse or two! (Heck, if you don't want to read it, just listen!)

Don't miss out, quantaties are limited
(the Saudis already ordered 5,000, enough for the whole royal family!)

Please call this toll-free number now: 1-800-LAZY-MUSLIM

[*the Automatic Prayer Chair is a figment of my imagination, but don't be too disappointed, because the Wudu' Washer really is in a store near you (if you live in Australia, but I'm sure they deliver)!]

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May 12, 2006

An Egyptian Reporter's Account of Abuse & Sexual Assault at the Protests

Before she could even begin to see the crowds, snap pictures, make notes, or talk to protestors, Egyptian reporter Abeer Al-Askary (also Abir al-Askari) was attacked by plain clothes policemen as soon as she stepped out of a taxi cab on Thursday. The men dragged her to a minibus close by, put her inside, and proceeded to beat her and hurl insults and threats at her.

She tried to yell and scream and attract people walking by as she was removed from the bus and into the station, but anytime someone tried to approach the men and defend her, the plainclothes policemen told them to leave her alone because she was "this and that" and did "this and that" (in other words, they made it seem that they were arresting an adulteress so that nobody would come near them).

An officer then came to take the reporter to a nearby police station, where she was taken to a filthy room and the beating continued.

The police officers kicked her, beat her, spit on her, ripped off her clothes and her hijab (headscarf), and threatened to rape her adding that they had done the same to her journalist friends who were now in jail. They told her she would not see the light of day again. When her cell phone rang, they grabbed it and turned it off. She told them, "now my friends will know that I've been arrested."

At this point the officers decided it would be better to release her somewhere further from the center of Cairo. They allowed her to put whatever was left of her clothes, and wrap whatever was left of her scarf back on her head, and dragged her away and left her on the street. She found a small convenience store and sought the help of the owner who gave her a prayer rug so she could cover herself as he saw her clothes were torn. The men then came back and threatened the store owner, so the latter was forced to ask her to leave.

She walked further and hid behind an electric post, crying on the street, and waiting for her friends from the newspaper to come rescue her.

This account is a brief summary and translation of the sources I found on this story, most of which are in Arabic (Kifaya website, Elaph, Alquds Alarabi, Reuters).

The only English information I found on this is a news alert from the Committee to Protect Journalists and a mention from the Daily Star in an article about the protests.

If this is what the individuals who are responsible for maintaining law and order are doing, then why should any Egyptian feel safe in their own home, not to mention on the street?!
This is not an isolated incident. The attacks on journalists by the Mubarak regime are consistent, systematic, and deliberate.

Rest assured, however, that the actions of these thugs and their leaders cannot be hidden forever. We do not live in the stone age. A simple click of a camera, or a personal account on a blog is enough to get the word out.

Now that the word is out, what will we do?!

Related post

[hat tip: Baheyya]
[picture courtesy of SM]
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May 11, 2006

Some thoughts on blogging on the occasion of joining Jordan Planet

(caution: long, but interesting, personal post ahead!)

I'm very excited to have been recently admitted as a new citizen to the community of Jordanian bloggers at Jordan Planet :o) After a few months of blogging and following the Arab blogosphere, I feel as though I am already part of this unique and dynamic community.

So after waiting in a long line at the Jordan Planet virtual headquarters (similar to waiting in a Jordanian government office but without the cigarette smoke), my "application" was finally accepted, mind you, without a was6a ;)

I discovered the world of Arab and Jordanian bloggers a few months ago, and decided to begin blogging again after an initially slow start (as you can see on my profile, it says I started in March 2005, but I didn't seriously begin until October 2005).

I have to admit that following these blogs has become a daily routine for me, and has had a much more profound impact on me than I could've imagined. When reading these blogs, I feel as though I am interacting with the young "Arab street" on a daily basis, hearing it from the horse's mouth, without anyone getting in between us. Do I really need to stop by Aljazeera or the BBC to read the latest about what's going on in the Middle East? Why should I read what some embedded reporter sees through his tank in Iraq when I can read about the real impact of the occupation from Iraqis living in the midst of it all? Why should I listen to the rhetoric of Abbas, Hamas, Olmert, or Condi when I can read the daily accounts of Palestinians living in Gaza and Bethlehem?

On a more personal level, however, the Jordanian blogosphere has helped me reach into this brain of mine and really take a closer look at an important part of my identity, my Jordanian identity.

As a Jordanian who did not live in Jordan more than 6 months (during 2nd grade in '91), but who vacations there frequently, I must admit that I have not been "in tune" with my Jordanian identity as I would've liked to be. Even though I speak, read, and write Arabic fluently (attending an Arab/Islamic school helps), and consider myself a practicing Muslim, "Jordan" has not really been a huge part of my life in the US except for my summers.

I grew up with Egyptians, Palestinians, Saudis, and Somalis as my best friends in the school that I attended throughout my elementary, middle, and high school period here in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. I remember when I was in 2nd grade, coming to the US from Jordan and before that living in Saudi Arabia, I was considered a "FOB". I spoke the "shami" Arabic accent but most of my friends either didn't speak much Arabic or didn't understand my dialect. So I started using the Egyptian and Saudi dialects, depending on who I spoke to. My mom wasn't too pleased with that, and kept telling me to speak with a "Jordanian" accent. Until today, my Arabic dialect is although predominantly "shami", isn't as Jordanian as my relatives in Jordan, for example (that's why I'm so amused when some Jordanian bloggers occasionally blog with a hard core Jordanian accent which I'm not used to hearing/reading except for 2 months out of the year).

Being a lonely Jordanian in a large, vibrant Arab community doesn't help either. This is a typical conversation I would have with any Arab here in the US who would meet me for the first time:

Arab person: so, where are you from?
me: Jordan
Arab person: like, really really Jordanian or originally Palestinian?
me: really really Jordanian, as much as I would be honored to have any Palestinian roots
Arab person (not yet convinced): so where in Jordan are you from?
me: Irbid (this usually gets them b/c they think everyone is from Amman?)
Arab person: ohhh, ok. well I guess your like the 2nd Jordanian I've met in my life
me: ahla w sahla, we're not really that different :)

Some Arab Americans here find comfort in having social events with their fellow Egyptians, or Yemenis or Syrians and can easily find a bunch of families to get together with. My family, on the other hand, wasn't too keen on that mainly because not many people in our area identified themselves as Jordanian. I grew up with Libyan, Iraqi, Palestinian, Egyptian, Syrian family friends. And I loved it.

But sometimes you wonder how it would be if you had a Jordanian friend who knew what mansaf was, or might happen to know where my family lives in Irbid, or would understand if I told them that my mom is "mggab3ah ma3ha ilyoom" :)

Following the Jordanian blogosphere has given me a bird's eye view into the lives of young Jordanians like me that I had not been exposed to before. I do have some cousins in Jordan who are my age but my interaction with them in the summer visits isn't enough for me to know them as well as I feel I know some of my fellow bloggers. I also haven't been in Jordan long enough to cultivate any serious friendships which I also attribute to my inability to connect with the average non-English speaking Jordanian. The fact that my cousins speak mostly Arabic and the bloggers write in English but live somewhat similar lives is one of the reasons I'm able to relate to the bloggers more than my family members. Even though I can speak to my cousins in Arabic, I cannot relate to them on many levels because the way we were raised is different and our world views are naturally different.

Although it has been pointed out on other blogs that many of the Jordanian bloggers are not very representative of Jordanian society as many would be considered upper middle class and have lived abroad, I still think that I have a much better picture of Jordanian society than I did a few months ago. I feel like I can relate to many of their experiences and critiques of some aspects of Jordanian society, and at the same time get their perspectives on living in an Arab country. While most young people in Jordan (including cousins) aren't politically aware/engaged, I found it easy to connect with the Jordanian bloggers who exhibit a higher level of socio-political awareness and engagement, if that makes sense. As someone who graduated with a political science degree and who considers herself politically aware and active, I could not handle the fact that many young people in Jordan could careless about what was happening in the country next door to them!

So why all this analytical blabbing? Simple. I think it's really amazing how following the Arab blogosphere in general and the Jordanian blogosphere in particular for a few months has made me feel closer to my Jordanian identity than any other trip or book or family member has in the past.

I hope to continue to learn from and contribute to the dialogue generated through our blogs by adding my personal perspective as a Jordanian and an American. Maybe you'll find a way to see through my semi-confused state of identity as a Muslim-Arab-Jordanian-American female. Maybe not.

A big thank you to the individuals who put their personal time and effort into making JP one of the most active Arab blogging sites. It is indeed a great resource for us all!

Okay, if you got sick of this rambling post and decided to just scroll down to the last sentence, what I really meant to say is that I'm super excited about becoming a citizen of Jordan Planet! Yippeee :)~


Mubarak's Police State

As much as I like to believe that this cannot be happening in the year 2006, that it cannot go unnoticed, that such abuse cannot be hidden from the world, I am constantly slapped in the face by this ugly reality.Disturbing news is emerging from Egypt about the various demonstrations taking place and the despicable actions of the state police forces towards the demonstrators. Seeing the pictures puts everything into perspective...a picture really is worth a thousand words.

In case you haven't heard yet about the latest events in Egypt, here is the latest from the BBC:
Egyptian police have clashed violently with protesters rallying in support of two senior judges who have been spear heading calls for reform.

News agency reports said some people were beaten up and others detained as they tried to reach a court house where the judges faced disciplinary action.

Hessian bastes and mammoth Meiji face dismissal for criticizing last year's presidential election as fraudulent.

The Aljazeera headlines as well as various other news outlets reported that reporters were attacked, cameras confiscated, etc. An Aljazeera cameraman was badly beaten up by the Egyptian police. This should not come as a surprise. An Aljazeera reporter was arrested just two weeks ago for "inciting violence" when he reported about events in aftermath of the Dahab bombings.

The Arab blogosphere has been right on top of these events as they begun with the arrest of fellow blogger Alaa and some others over the past few days which resulted in a campaign to bring attention to the plight of Egyptians seeking to voice their opinions about the current state of oppression and corruption in their country.
Indeed, the $2 billion in US aid to Egypt doesn't seem to be much encouragement for serious reform. Fellow blogger Mahmood sums it up nicely when he tells us "how to flush $2 billion":
Give it to the Egyptian government in order to help them continue to be the voice of the Arab Nation, the voice of Arab Democracy and the voice of Arab Modernity.

That's what was on the brochure that sold the story to donors, the reality of course is much different. What Egypt is, is simply a police state headed by an octogenarian refusing to give up power, still deep in the belief that He is doing his country good, and to hell with the people.

I have nothing less than utmost respect and admiration for these protestors who dared to stand in the face of oppression. I salute them for their courage and their willingness to stand up to one of the most repressive regimes in the Arab world, one that continues to be propped up (financially and politically) by the West and predominately the US. I am glad to see that these protestors were united by their mission, regardless of their ideology or political affiliation, because our fragmentation will only lead to our demise.

It's up to the people to bring change, and this is just one of the ways to bring attention to the misery that is the life of most Arabs under similar regimes. Protesting is only one way. Bloggingg, sharing information, and encouraging dialogue is another way. Standing up for truth and justice is the best way, and each of us can do it in our capacities.

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[pictures courtesy of the AP through the BBC]

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May 10, 2006

Free Alaa

Those of you who follow the Arab blogsphere will know that one of our own has been arrested by the Egyptian authorities for peacefully demonstrating in support of the independence of the judiciary in Egypt and the release of previous demonstrators who were detained two weeks earlier.
Alaa, a prominent Egyptian blogger at Manal & Alaa's Bit Bucket, will now be detained for another 15 days pending an investigation which could be renewed indefinitely by Egyptian authorities.

In support of free speech and peaceful demonstrations in the Arab world, I add my voice to the many bloggers who have called for the release of Alaa and all others who were detained. It may or may not be a coincidence that Alaa is an active pro-democracy Egyptian based blogger who happened to be targeted during this demonstration. The point is that him and the others should possess the right to speak their mind and voice their concerns about the current state of political oppression in Egypt by the Mubarak regime.

Human Rights Watch has issued a press release on the recent arrests:

Egyptian security officials arrested 11 more political reform activists, including an award-winning blogger, Alaa Ahmed Seif al-Islam, Human Rights Watch said today. This brings to more than 100 the number of people detained over the past two weeks for exercising their rights to freedom of assembly and expression.

Approximately half of those arrested are members of the Muslim Brotherhood who were putting up posters and distributing leaflets protesting the April 30 extension of emergency rule for another two years. The Emergency Law has been in effect since President Hosni Mubarak came to power in October 1981. The others were detained for demonstrating in support of a group of judges campaigning for greater judicial independence.
Please check out the Free Alaa! campaign blog for all the latest updates.

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May 9, 2006

NYT: Funds Cut, Gaza Faces a Plague of Health Woes

Hanin al-Hilo was screaming at the nurses at the main Gaza hospital, Al Shifa: "If I called and said I was the son of Mr. Somebody, some big shot, I'd have a place!"

But with a third of the hospital's dialysis machines awaiting repair and spare parts, Mr. Hilo, a policeman, and his father, sitting weakly in a wheelchair, had to wait in the corridor. Even those using the machines are not being given the normal dose of hormones and minerals, a nurse explained, because the hospital has run out. "Soon they're going to need blood transfusions instead," she said.

With a sudden shortage of everything from disposable needles and adhesive tape to vital drugs, Gaza's once impressive public health system is running down fast under the dual pressure of aid cutoffs and the closing of the Karni crossing point with Israel.

Already, says Al Shifa's general director, Dr. Ibrahim al-Habbash, the hospital can no longer provide chemotherapy for many forms of cancer, has only a few days' supply of important surgical drugs like atropine, adrenaline, heparin and lidocaine, and has used up its strategic three-month cache normally kept for a health crisis.

In addition, armed men have been forcing their way into the hospital demanding preferential treatment for relatives, clan members or friends, and authorization to travel outside Gaza for medical treatment.

"We've suffered in the past, of course, but in the last month, the problems have really increased," Dr. Habbash said. "There are shortages of medications and disposables in all departments, we're trying to limit the operating list and people are suffering, even dying, because of these shortages."

Dr. Habbash hands over his list of urgent needs that he has passed on to the financially troubled Palestinian Ministry of Health. It includes numerous drugs and antibiotics, as well as plaster of Paris, syringes, disposable bed sheets and intravenous solutions, surgical gloves, suture sets and blood-testing needles.

Continue reading full article
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