Sunday, February 25, 2007

Prisoners Released!!

Dr. Al Sehlawi and Mr. Al Habshi are released. Mahmood's Den has a nice article (with a picture too!) about it on his blog (click on his name to read it). I wish to congratulate these two men for standing their ground and their families for their release. I also want to thank all those who continued the pressure and their support. And of course all the bloggers that continued to write about them.

There are some who seemed shocked and rattled that I would write about Dr. Moh'd Al Sahlawi and Mr. Hussain AL Habshi's arrest. Some surprised that I would care! Why??? Because I don't share their politics or views. Because it seems in many way we are polar opposites. I explained that it doesn't matter if Al Sahlawi and Al Habshi are leftists, rightists, religious zealots, communists, liberal, etc. What matters is that they were punished for exercising their rights.

I support every Bahraini, regardless of their politics, affiliation, and faith, in exercising their rights, whatever those may be. I may not agree with what you say or how you act, but if its within your rights, I respect and will defend your right to say and act how you wish. Let us wake up people! I wish we give as much as we demand. We want to be free to express and act how we want, yet do we wish that these rights extend to all Bahrainis, even the ones we disagree with? I wish more of us would be more indignant when one of us-a fellow Bahraini- gets arrested or even worse for exercising his/her rights.

Kuwait May Require Visas for Bahrainis

I heard murmurs about Kuwait thinking requiring visas for Bahrainis. Of course, Kuwait is somewhat upset over Bahrain latest wave of illegal and unconstitutional naturalization. This time we welcome among our folds a tribe (??)/group of Iraqi Tikriti Baathists. I read a figure of 3000 although some say alot more. Anyways, here is the email I received:
أفادنا مصدر مطلع فضل عدم الكشف عن اسمه، عن نية دولة الكويت بإلزام مواطني مملكة البحرين لاستصدار تأشيرة دخول "فيزا" لدخول الأراضي الكويتية. وتأتي هذه البادرة بعد تناقل الكثير من الأخبار المؤكدة عن منح آلاف العراقيين من أصول حزبية معادية لسيادة الكويت الجنسية البحرينية، وإلحاقهم بسلكي الدفاع والداخلية.
والجدير بالذكر أن ولي العهد الكويتي الشيخ نواف الأحمد الجابر الصباح قام بزيارة مملكة البحرين في شهر يناير الماضي، وذلك للتباحث والتشاور مع السلطات البحرينية حول ما أشيع عن نية البحرين لتجنيس آلاف العراقيين ذوي أصول "بعثية"، وما يترتب عليها من آثار تراها دولة الكويت تهديداً لأمنها واستقرارها. كما عرض الوفد الكويتي الذي زار مملكة البحرين عن نية الكويت بإلزام البحرينيين لإصدار تأشيرة دخول "فيزا" لكل بحريني ينوي السفر لدولة الكويت، بهدف ضبط و منع دخول "البعثيين" العراقيين الممنوحين الجنسية البحرينية أرض الكويت.
وتأتي نية دولة الكويت على إجبار مواطني مملكة البحرين لأخذ تأشيرة الدخول، كأول رد فعل خليجي واضح، لكبح جماح النظام البحريني لردع الوفود المجنسة حديثاً من تمازجها مع مجتمعات خليجية أصيلة.ويعلق مراقبون "إن ما ستقوم به دولة الكويت لإلزام البحرينيين بتأشيرة دخول لأراضيها، هو باب ستقرعه دول خليجية أخرى، للسيطرة على نسيجها الاجتماعي، وثوابتها الأصيلة من الخطر الذي ستساهم فيه مملكة البحرين بمنحها الجنسية البحرينية من ذوي الكفاءات المتدنية، وعبر معايير وأهداف سياسية وغير قانونية. بالإضافة لعدم الاختلاط الاجتماعي الغريب، الذي يهدد الوضع الأمني في دول الخليج

The Search for the Perfect Red

I can't begin to tell you the amount of research I did in search of the perfect red. No, I am not talking about the red states or anything serious for that matter. I am looking for the perfect shade of red lipstick. I am desparate so I will settle for the perfect red gloss. I always loved red lipstick (when worn well) but always assumed that I couldn't get away with wearing it. I thought my color, shade, undertone, lipshape, just about everything was wrong for red. I swear a girl just can't get a break sometimes!
I don't know when I began to think different or why, but suddenly I have an overwhelming urge to wear red. I am liberated!! I can and god willing will someday soon sport awesomely red lips. I just have to figure out how!

I read articles, studied pics, looked at celebrities with my color and undertone to see what shades of red they wear, went to numerous shops, even bought 2 red lipsticks and 2 lip glosses, but still no success. :-( May be I am not used to seeing myself with red lips but so far everything looks BAD. One shade was so ugly that my sister upon seeing my picture declared it a horrendous look on me. Objectively looking at the picture, I realized I looked like a vampire whose mouth is dripping blood! UGH!! :-S Thanks to photoshop and the edit tools, I know look quite chic in a black and white pic.
But I will not give up! And yes, I know that I can be and am in this case a huge metfa'3ah. It is a stupid thing to be obesessed with. It just would be so lovely to own the perfect red. I know it will. Every girl should own a red lipstick. Girls just make sure you don't end up looking like you belong to the Adam's family. :-p

Ok, now that I pschyed myself with this post and restored my belief in red, I will resume my quest for the perfect anyone?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

How do You View Your Government?

Here is how Thomas Paine: Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one.

Thomas Jefferson: Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms [of government] those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.

The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves.

Thomas Edison: There is far more danger in public than in private monopoly, for when Government goes into business it can always shift its losses to the taxpayers. Government never makes ends meet, and that is the first requisite of business.

Louis D. Brandeis: Our government... teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. Louis D. Brandeis

Larry Flynt: Majority rule only works if you're also considering individual rights. Because you can't have five wolves and one sheep voting on what to have for supper.

Sydney H. Harris: Democracy is the only system that persists in asking the powers that be whether they are the powers that ought to be.

Abraham Lincoln: No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent.

George Washington: Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.

Lewis Mumford: The way people in democracies think of the government as something different from themselves is a real handicap. And, of course, sometimes the government confirms their opinion.

However, Karl Marx states: The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.

I view government at best a servant assigned by the public to serve and protect its interest. At worst, the government becomes a tyrannical master with the citizens his slaves.

Now my fellow reader, how do you view governments?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Problem with Labels

What are you? Are you a conservative or a liberal? A capitalist, socialist or communist? A believer or an atheist? A right winger or a left winger? Are you male or female? A primarily Arabic or English speaker? Are you Sunni, Shia, or as a friend put it, Shunni? Are you even Muslim? If you aren’t Muslim, are you a Christian, min ahl el ketab? If you are a Christian, are you a Baptist, Catholic or a Mormon? Are you… are you … are you?

Can we mix any labels? Are we able to be two opposite things? Say a conservative liberal or a liberal conservative? A right winger with left wing tendencies? A religious person with secular leanings? I know some self-professed communists that are the embodiment of capitalism.

All these questions and numerous others serve only to label you. And thereby the problem starts. The problem with labels is that they by definition serve to classify and describe someone or something. The label becomes your identification. Once you are labeled you are confined to an expected set of actions, views, opinions and beliefs. Think different, act different and you are ‘labeled’ a fake at best or a ‘traitor’ to your cause/sect/faith/politics.

I think it is human nature to label something. It makes the object easier to understand and deal with. We tend to peg things and try to make them fit in the tapestry of our lives. So either the piece goes along or we discard it, reject it as an unfit addition. But are humans like objects, so easy to label with predictable modes of behavior and actions?

When applying labels to people, aren't we setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment? Someone is bound to act in a way unbecoming of the label and then what do we do? Either we realize that labels really don’t work but use them anyway, or we become more rigid in the label system, writing the person off as a deserter of the cause, whatever it may be.

Labels limit our opportunities and bind us with their chains inside a box. When we do manage to break free, the damage to the box is substantial and those left inside suffer the consequences.

Labels also employ our preconceived notions and subconsciously play on our prejudices allowing us to pass judgements on whole groups of people. Labels can have you instantly dismiss a person as someone who at best has nothing in common with you and at worst, an enemy. Labels are also syptomatic of societal tensions and problems. If a person acts outside of what is expected, this person or even the action is seen as the exception to the norm. Even though he/she is ------, they do not act like it/are not lazy/are nice.

Here in Bahrain, labels are busy at work leading some to believe that a figure is for a certain group or against them not based on the person's actions but to the group such figure belongs to. Our parliament is a prime illustration with encumbants serving another term simply for belonging to a certain group (and thus labeled as a 'friend' or 'pro-this or that') when their track record proves other wise.

Ask yourself, would a shia candidate with the best professional track record and high morals ever win a seat in a primarily conservative sunni locale ex. Riffa? Would a sunni ever win a seat in a conservative shia village ex. Daih? The chances are remote not because of the candidate's credentials but because the candidate lacks the right label, he/she (don't even get me started on the she issue) doesn't belong.

I try to think of what labels I want, other than those I have to carry. I find myself shying away from defining me. The chant “I am more, I am more” keeps ringing in my head loud and clear. There are certain truths that I know about myself. Yet I hesitate to speak them out loud for fear of being pegged.

It is true that there are some labels we can’t escape. Others we proudly carry. I am a Muslim Bahraini female. These are labels I am proud to have. But they are not all that define me.

Everyone expects me to act a certain way: Because I am female, my society restricts me (ex. can’t be out after 11pm, can’t expect to enjoy the same freedoms as your counter males).

Because I am Muslim, often the world discriminates against me (ex. I thought you were progressive, what do you mean you are a practicing Muslim? You are Muslim, but you are so normal! If you were a good Muslim, you would wear hijab).

Because I am Bahraini, certain behaviors, choices and actions are expected of me (ex. Why are you still abroad, don’t you love your country?)

At times, I can't help but disappoint those around me. It is inevitable. My existence goes beyond my labels. That catches the people around me off guard and makes them wonder if they really knew me. Sometimes, I wonder too. Do they really know me, or do they know my labels and what I am ‘supposed to be’?

So fellow reader, think some and share if you like, what labels define and confine you?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Julia Botros - Win el Malayin

Another Julia video. I promise this is the last one.

Enjoy if you can... I too wonder where are we?

Julia Boutros Ahibaii Videoclip

I love Julia Boutrous, a truely wonderful artist. She reminds me of Fairooz and Majida Al Roumi. Just heard this song through her website. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Not in Defense of Mushaime, but for the Love of the Country by Al-Naeemi

Excellent letter/article written by none other than Abdulrahman Al-Naeemi.... (I know the font is too small, click on the image to read the article)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Sleeping with the Enemy

Strange bed fellows, don't you think? For more on Shimon Peres's visit to Qatar, please click on the title.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Yet Another Quote!

A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right, a man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice, a man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.

- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Bahraini Ten Commandments

1. Recognize and pay homage to the powers that be.
2. Thou shall see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Pretend you are in paradise and everything is just dandy.
3. Thou shall not consider yourself human.
4. Thou shall not make negative statements about the powers that be, actually just keep your mouth shut.
5. Remember that you are a nothing and act accordingly.
6. Thou shall honor the powers that be.
7. Thou shall not think for yourself.
8. Thou shall not expect any basic human rights. In fact, expect nothing.
9. Thou shall not bear as a true witness to all the corruption.
10. Thou shall be grateful for the little morsels of humanity thrown your way.

Now memorize them well and heed what they say. Remember in Bahrain these commandments are the most holy. They are crucial to your well-being!

Another Slap on the Face

Barely two months into 2007 and the champions of a democratic Bahrain were dealt yet another slap on their respective faces. A lesson was met out to explain for all the limits of Bahraini 'freedom.'

Dr. Moh'd Saeed and Mr. Hussien Al Habshi were sentenced to serve terms of one year and six months respectively for exercising their right of free speech.

To rub salt onto the wound, Abdulhadi Khawaja (president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights) and Hassan Mushaime (secretary general of the Haaq Movement) were arrested earlier this morning.

It is a shame and a crime that families have been robbed of their loved ones and men taken away from their lives, just so we can all be taught a lesson.

Oh powers that be, we learnt our lesson: we know you consider us subhuman not worthy of the space we occupy. Message received LOUD and CLEAR. Now powers that be, can you please let these men go...

No wait, I realize now that someone has to pay and it certainly won't be you.

The Dream that was a Nightmare

Once upon a time, a long time ago, there was a tiny kingdom that was known as the jewel of the seas. Though plain, this island was magical and bewitched all its inhabitants. The citizens loved this kingdom deeply and thought it the greatest place on earth. Life wasn’t easy for the people faced many hardships. But all considered themselves fortunate to be part of this great kingdom. As the years went by hope blossomed in the hearts of the citizens that this great kingdom of theirs will afford them basic provisions. Now these people weren’t greedy nor were they lazy, for these provisions were part of human nature.

Well, what were those provisions you ask? It is quite simple really; these folks wanted a better life for all. This hope grew into a dream and soon many of the wonderful citizens believed that this dream will come true. They worked together to accomplish their goal. Day and night they toiled. And just when the dream started to materialize, a storm descended on this magical island. The good people were scattered about, some buried in caves that bound them. Other were carried by the mighty winds and placed in lands unknown. The storm was so ferocious that some were robbed of their voices and went about their lives silenced and torn. Many years passed with the people sad and worn.

However, the people of the magical island did not lose sight of their goal. Hope grew inside them ready to burst until they were compelled to act upon it. Just when the dream began to bear fruit, suddenly another storm rolled, threatening to sweep all their hard work. The wind gusts were powerful and caused significant damage but the people remained strong.

During the storm, a thought was planted in some minds: what if this hope that grew into a dream….what if it was a nightmare all along?