Thursday, November 20, 2008

Desperate Housewives of Disney

As someone who looks forward to the Desperate Housewives shinanegans every Sunday, this forward gave me a good laugh:

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Democracy and Liberty

I heard something yesterday that I couldn't stop thinking about, a statement I found so profound: if you have a democracy without [the presumption of] liberty, then you are screwed; you end up in a place controlled by thugs.

Democracy without liberty leads to tyranny. The worst kind of tyranny, where people are oppressed and subjucated under the guise of freedom.

I believe it is why all the democracies out side of the West (by West I mean Western Europe and North America) are failing or have already failed. The presumption of liberty is missing.

It is this presumption of liberty that is lacking in Bahrain. With the new reforms, all 'societies' are scrambling to secure their right to co-rule (through the parliament of course), to exercise their rights and let the people's voice be heard, only to subjugate their own people once they are in the positions of power.

People don't fear the leader that rises from among them, they look up to him. This leader cannot oppress you, because he is you, came from within you, to champion your causes and further your future. He is where he is today because you believed in him, choose to follow him. So clearly he has your best interest at heart. This belief in the righteousness of the leader is maginified when the leader is shrouded by a holy cloth. The leader is a man of the people and more importantly, a man of God. God is on his side and as such he can do no wrong. Slighting this leader, is an offensive to God, akin to blasphemy. This line of reasoning is a dangerous fallacy, a trap that most people fall into.

Why is it that the very group that fought for your voice to be heard are now attempting to squash it? Whether through the law or from the pulpits they are now twisting people's arms to accept their way. Objectors are tarnished as traitors or appostates, and they are marginalized by the very people who in reality are victims too of the politicians and religious leaders oppression.

Why? Because liberty is missing from the equation.

People often take liberty for granted and assume that it is part of the democracy equation. It is, only if you deliberatey make it to be. For liberty restrains democracy and democracy is a threat to liberty.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Bahraini Women Don't Work!

Have you heard the latest news? We, Bahraini women do not work! Nops not a single one of us. Not only do we not want to, we surely don't need to. Why? Because we are all sitting on oil fields. Where the luckier ones of the world have blue circles in the back yards, we in Bahrain have black circles, brimming full of oil instead of the aqua blue.

So I was told today by a coworker who apparently heard the above from the mouth of an Arab coworker. One who was amazed, that I, Gardens in all my riches and glory, would stoop so low as to work a 9 to 5 job. It is simply not done! Beneath me!

Yup, I work because my job is my hobby; I am a glutton for punishment. I can't get enough of the snobbery, incompetence, buffonery, medicoreness, and laziness that I deal with everyday at work.

Or maybe I work so I can look down my Bahraini nose at those working to feed mouths and clothe bodies, while I choose to work on a whim.

Whatever my frivilous reasons to work, I apparently broke the rule as we Bahraini women simply don't work. It's just not done!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Ramadan Kareem

مبارك عليكم الشهر، تقبل الله منا و منكم صالح الأعمال

Have a blessed ramadan!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Muslim Voters Detect a Snub From Obama

The New York Times
June 24, 2008
Muslim Voters Detect a Snub From Obama

As Senator Barack Obama courted voters in Iowa last December, Representative Keith Ellison, the country’s first Muslim congressman, stepped forward eagerly to help.

Mr. Ellison believed that Mr. Obama’s message of unity resonated deeply with American Muslims. He volunteered to speak on Mr. Obama’s behalf at a mosque in Cedar Rapids, one of the nation’s oldest Muslim enclaves. But before the rally could take place, aides to Mr. Obama asked Mr. Ellison to cancel the trip because it might stir controversy. Another aide appeared at Mr. Ellison’s Washington office to explain.

“I will never forget the quote,” Mr. Ellison said, leaning forward in his chair as he recalled the aide’s words. “He said, ‘We have a very tightly wrapped message.’ ”

When Mr. Obama began his presidential campaign, Muslim Americans from California to Virginia responded with enthusiasm, seeing him as a long-awaited champion of civil liberties, religious tolerance and diplomacy in foreign affairs. But more than a year later, many say, he has not returned their embrace.

While the senator has visited churches and synagogues, he has yet to appear at a single mosque. Muslim and Arab-American organizations have tried repeatedly to arrange meetings with Mr. Obama, but officials with those groups say their invitations — unlike those of their Jewish and Christian counterparts — have been ignored. Last week, two Muslim women wearing head scarves were barred by campaign volunteers from appearing behind Mr. Obama at a rally in Detroit.

In interviews, Muslim political and civic leaders said they understood that their support for Mr. Obama could be a problem for him at a time when some Americans are deeply suspicious of Muslims. Yet those leaders nonetheless expressed disappointment and even anger at the distance that Mr. Obama has kept from them.

“This is the ‘hope campaign,’ this is the ‘change campaign,’ ” said Mr. Ellison, Democrat of Minnesota. Muslims are frustrated, he added, that “they have not been fully engaged in it.”
Aides to Mr. Obama denied that he had kept his Muslim supporters at arm’s length. They cited statements in which he had spoken inclusively about American Islam and a radio advertisement he recorded for the recent campaign of Representative Andre Carson, Democrat of Indiana, who this spring became the second Muslim elected to Congress.

In May, Mr. Obama also had a brief, private meeting with the leader of a mosque in Dearborn, Mich., home to the country’s largest concentration of Arab-Americans. And this month, a senior campaign aide met with Arab-American leaders in Dearborn, most of whom are Muslim. (Mr. Obama did not campaign in Michigan before the primary in January because of a party dispute over the calendar.)

“Our campaign has made every attempt to bring together Americans of all races, religions and backgrounds to take on our common challenges,” Ben LaBolt, a campaign spokesman, said in an e-mail message.

Mr. LaBolt added that with religious groups, the campaign had largely taken “an interfaith approach, one that may not have reached every group that wishes to participate but has reached many Muslim Americans.”

The strained relationship between Muslims and Mr. Obama reflects one of the central challenges facing the senator: how to maintain a broad electoral appeal without alienating any of the numerous constituencies he needs to win in November.

After the episode in Detroit last week, Mr. Obama telephoned the two Muslim women to apologize. “I take deepest offense to and will continue to fight against discrimination against people of any religious group or background,” he said in a statement.

Such gestures have fallen short in the eyes of many Muslim leaders, who say the Detroit incident and others illustrate a disconnect between Mr. Obama’s message of unity and his campaign strategy.

“The community feels betrayed,” said Safiya Ghori, the government relations director in the Washington office of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

Even some of Mr. Obama’s strongest Muslim supporters say they are uncomfortable with the forceful denials he has made in response to rumors that he is secretly a Muslim. (Ten percent of registered voters believe the rumor, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center.)

In an interview with “60 Minutes,” Mr. Obama said the rumors were offensive to American Muslims because they played into “fearmongering.” But on a new section of his Web site, he classifies the claim that he is Muslim as a “smear.”

“A lot of us are waiting for him to say that there’s nothing wrong with being a Muslim, by the way,” Mr. Ellison said.

Mr. Ellison, a first-term congressman, remains arguably the senator’s most important Muslim supporter. He has attended Obama rallies in Minnesota and appears on the campaign’s Web site. But Mr. Ellison said he was also forced to cancel plans to campaign for Mr. Obama in North Carolina after an emissary for the senator told him the state was “too conservative.” Mr. Ellison said he blamed Mr. Obama’s aides — not the candidate himself — for his campaign’s standoffishness.

Despite the complications of wooing Muslim voters, Mr. Obama and his Republican rival, Senator John McCain, may find it risky to ignore this constituency. There are sizable Muslim populations in closely fought states like Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Virginia.

In those states and others, American Muslims have experienced a political awakening in the years since Sept. 11, 2001. Before the attacks, Muslim political leadership in the United States was dominated by well-heeled South Asian and Arab immigrants, whose communities account for a majority of the nation’s Muslims. (Another 20 percent are estimated to be African-American.) The number of American Muslims remains in dispute as the Census Bureau does not collect data on religious orientation; most estimates range from 2.35 million to 6 million.
A coalition of immigrant Muslim groups endorsed George W. Bush in his 2000 campaign, only to find themselves ignored by Bush administration officials as their communities were rocked by the carrying out of the USA Patriot Act, the detention and deportation of Muslim immigrants and other security measures after Sept. 11.

As a result, Muslim organizations began mobilizing supporters across the country to register to vote and run for local offices, and political action committees started tracking registered Muslim voters. The character of Muslim political organizations also began to change.
“We moved away from political leadership primarily by doctors, lawyers and elite professionals to real savvy grass-roots operatives,” said Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, a political group in Washington. “We went back to the base.”

In 2006, the Virginia Muslim Political Action Committee arranged for 53 Muslim cabdrivers to skip their shifts at Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia to transport voters to the polls for the midterm election. Of an estimated 60,000 registered Muslim voters in the state, 86 percent turned out and voted overwhelmingly for Jim Webb, a Democrat running for the Senate who subsequently won the election, according to data collected by the committee.
The committee’s president, Mukit Hossain, said Muslims in Virginia were drawn to Mr. Obama because of his support for civil liberties and his more diplomatic approach to the Middle East. Mr. Hossain and others said his multicultural image also appealed to immigrant voters.

“This is the son of an immigrant; this is someone with a funny name,” said James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, who is a Christian who has campaigned for Mr. Obama at mosques and Arab churches. “There is this excitement that if he can win, they can win, too.”
Yet some Muslim and Arab-American political organizers worry that the campaign’s reluctance to reach out to voters in those communities will eventually turn them off. “If they think that they are voting for a campaign that is trying to distance itself from them, my big fear is that Muslims will sit it out,” Mr. Hossain said.

Throughout the primaries, Muslim groups often failed to persuade Mr. Obama’s campaign to at least send a surrogate to speak to voters at their events, said Ms. Ghori, of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

Before the Virginia primary in February, some of the nation’s leading Muslim organizations nearly canceled an event at a mosque in Sterling because they could not arrange for representatives from any of the major presidential campaigns to attend. At the last minute, they succeeded in wooing surrogates from the Clinton and Obama campaigns by telling each that the other was planning to attend, Mr. Bray said. (No one from the McCain campaign showed up.)
Frustrations with Mr. Obama deepened the day after he claimed the nomination when he told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that Jerusalem should be the undivided capital of Israel. (Mr. Obama later clarified his statement, saying Jerusalem’s status would need to be negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians.)

Osama Siblani, the editor and publisher of the weekly Arab American News in Dearborn, said Mr. Obama had “pandered” to the Israeli lobby, while neglecting to meet formally with Arab-American and Muslim leaders. “They’re trying to take the votes without the liabilities,” said Mr. Siblani, who is also president of the Arab American Political Action Committee.

Some Muslim supporters of Mr. Obama seem to ricochet between dejection and optimism. Minha Husaini, a public health consultant in her 30s who is working for the Obama campaign in Philadelphia, lights up like a swooning teenager when she talks about his promise for change.
“He gives me hope,” Ms. Husaini said in an interview last month, shortly before she joined the campaign on a fellowship. But she sighed when the conversation turned to his denials of being Muslim, “as if it’s something bad,” she said.

For Ms. Ghori and other Muslims, Mr. Obama’s hands-off approach is not surprising in a political climate they feel is marred by frequent attacks on their faith.

Among the incidents they cite are a statement by Mr. McCain, in a 2007 interview with, that he would prefer a Christian president to a Muslim one; a comment by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton that Mr. Obama was not Muslim “as far as I know”; and a remark by Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, to The Associated Press in March that an Obama victory would be celebrated by terrorists, who would see him as a “savior.”

“All you have to say is Barack Hussein Obama,” said Arsalan Iftikhar, a human rights lawyer and contributing editor at Islamica Magazine. “You don’t even have to say ‘Muslim.’ ”

As a consequence, many Muslims have kept their support for Mr. Obama quiet. Any visible show of allegiance could be used by his opponents to incite fear, further the false rumors about his faith and “bin-Laden him,” Mr. Bray said.

“The joke within the national Muslim organizations,” Ms. Ghori said, “is that we should endorse the person we don’t want to win.”

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Proving His Metal: Obama is just as prejudiced as the next guy.

Muslim woman: Scarf kept her from seat near Obama

DETROIT (AP) — A young Muslim woman said she and another woman were refused seats directly behind Barack Obama — and in front of TV cameras — at a Detroit rally because they wear head scarfs.

Hebba Aref said Wednesday that she and Shimaa Abdelfadeel were among 20,000 supporters who gathered to see the Democratic presidential hopeful on Monday at the Joe Louis Arena when the groups they were with were separately invited by Obama campaign volunteers to sit behind the podium. But Aref said the volunteers told members of both parties in separate discussions that women wearing hijabs, the traditional Muslim head scarves, weren't included in the invitation and couldn't sit behind the podium.

Aref, a 25-year-old lawyer, said a member of her group was told by a volunteer that she could not invite Aref because of "a sensitive political climate."
Obama spokesman Bill Burton issued a statement saying such actions are "not the policy of the campaign."

"It is offensive and counter to Obama's commitment to bring Americans together and simply not the kind of campaign we run. We sincerely apologize for this behavior," the statement read.
Aref said she replied by thanking Burton, but requested Obama apologize directly to her and Abdelfadeel, as well as invitations to sit behind him at a future campaign event. Obama spokeswoman Amy Brundage said the campaign has apologized.

"He needs to take the matter seriously and send a strong message against any kind of discrimination," Aref said.

A message was left Wednesday morning by The Associated Press for Abdelfadeel.
Presidential campaigns routinely invite audience members they believe will enhance the image their candidate wants to convey on TV to stand behind the candidate at rallies.
Aref, who was born in the United States to Egyptian immigrants, said she had defended Obama during the primaries against a constant drumbeat of rumors that he was Muslim. Obama is a Christian.

Obama also has been careful in denouncing the links, noting that some rumors about him also have been insulting to Muslims.

"I don't want to be called something I'm not, but I felt like ... everyone was treating this accusation of being Muslim as though it were some sort of crime or sin," Aref said.
She was grateful that the group she was with at the rally, which included her brother, Sharif, as well as non-Muslim colleagues of his, declined the invitation to take seats behind Obama after she was refused.

Still, she said, it was difficult to hear Obama's message of unity among races.
"As he's saying it, I'm thinking, 'Well, wait a minute, I was obviously ... profiled and discriminated against an hour ago.'"

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Happy Reading

I am excited! Today I dropped by Barnes and Noble for ten minutes or so and ended up buying four books! My fingers tingled as I walked out of the store and there definately was a skip to my step. I can hardly wait to start reading..there is nothing like losing myself in a good book.

I bough The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks, Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen and The Devil & Miss Prym by Paulo Coelho.

I picked those books at Random. The only two authors I've known of is Nicholas Sparks (Message in a Bottle) and of course Paulo Coelho. Hopefully, I have made good choices.

I'm also borrowing The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet and The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen from my local library. Both are audio cd books that I am hoping will turn my work commute into an enjoyable (I'd settle for tolerable) ride!

Happy reading everyone!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

It’s the Foreigner’s Fault!

Just wanted to share a funny conversation that transpired in my microeconomics class at 9:30 pm on Monday. What could be so funny in a 9:30 pm microeconomics class? Usually NOTHING, but this time the professor said something so profoundly true and with such libertarian gusto that upon thinking of it for a minute or two I burst out laughing!! Yes , I know I sound like a nerd (wish that I were one though!) and I am sure some students thought me weird but if only there knew Wonderland, they would see the humor.

So here goes:

Dr. C was pontification on how non-economists wrongly view the world through pessimistic eyes and how we economists being the wiser need to dispel the misconceptions. For example he says, most people are negatively biased towards immigration. They think it’s the worst thing that can happen to their country. They blame the foreigners. Everyone blames the foreigners. No jobs, it is the foreigners’ fault. High crime, it is the foreigners’ fault. Inflation, foreigners’ fault. Failing education and health systems’, yup you guess it, foreigners’ fault. Yet when you go around the world, I have yet to encounter one people that admit that they are the fault. Foreigners are always to blame yet who those foreigners are depends from one country to another. One thing the countries have in common: IT IS NEVER THE LOCALS’ FAULT! You never find a people that admit that they are to blame somehow. If only I acted different the world would be a better place!

In the USA, people are freaking about the influx of the Mexicans. The Mexicans meanwhile are going crazy trying to stop the Guatemalans from illegally entering Mexico! A Indian newspaper lamented the influx of Bangladeshi immigrants to India. Apparently they are lowering the standard of living in India and taking away all the jobs! Upon hearing the last statement I burst out laughing. How many times did I hear Wonderlandians complain about the Indians taking all the jobs and driving the wages down….aaaaah sweet justice! Lol I can just imagine what the Wonderlandian would say: Allah ma edeg eb 3a9a/ God doesn’t hit with a stick! (I on the other hand never harbored such a thought!)

And of course remembering the flood of immigration in Wonderland immediately wiped the smile off my face. How I long for the days of old when expat workers were the only kind of foreigners my country folk complained about. I lifted my hand to ask the professor his opinion of government driven illegal naturalization but the class ended.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Post-Midnight, Pre-Dawn Ramblings

Warning! This thread is a post-midnight, pre-dawn rambling. I am NOT a morning person, and the hour being dawn and all, I can’t guarantee that this thread would make any sense!

So I am sitting here wide awake when it is 3:53 am. Why can’t I sleep? Because I slept all day! No I din’t plan on sleeping the day away, I am lazy but not that lazy! I had a million and one things to do but unfortunately I woke up with a wicked migraine. I knew it was brought on by my sinuses. I felt them throb all night. It is the weirdest feeling like a heart beat but behind your nose. Throb, throb, throb. I should’ve known that the pitter patter of my sinus spelt trouble. Your sinuses are supposed to throb dummy, only your heart.
So I end up taking an antihistamine to calm down my sinuses, a nasal decongestant and a migraine medicine. Well, next thing I know, not only are my sinuses throbbing, my head pounding and am getting drowsy from the antihistamine, but I also got nauseous from the stupid migraine pills that were prescribed to me in Bahrain.

After taking an anti-nausea medicine I give in to the drowsiness and fall asleep. Even after a couple of hours of sleep, I was still drowsy and lethargic all day. Until bedtime of course.
Being awake with absolutely nothing on TV I got to thinking about the number of pills I take everyday.

After watching Dr. Oz I thought I better listen to his advice and get myself some Vitamin D pills. I don’t spend much time in the sun and over 60% of people tested are Vitamin D deficient. So I got me some Vitamin Ds.

Watching another episode of him on Oprah convinced me that I need me some Omega 3 and Omega 6 pills. I don’t eat much seafood nor do I eat my Flax seed cereal (sounds yum I know) cereal regularly. (Flax seed in Arabic is bethrat al kattan). So after giving my mum grief about popping Omega 3 pills (so and so told her it’s good for the brain), I now take two Omega 3 and 6 pills everyday.

I’ve always takes a multivitamin pill but after realizing how my eating habits are not optimal I got myself Vitamin C pills. I just don’t eat as much fruit as I would like.

I also take allergy pills daily thanks to all the trees and vegetation. Per my Dr. I have to take the pill daily to avoid my allergies developing into bronchitis. Great!!

So tallying everything up got me thinking that I am nuts. Normally, I take 6 pills daily. Folks I’m only adding up the vitamins and allergy pills. Now that I am sick, I take an additional 2. I’ve been told to take echinacea pill or tea and some lysine to boost the immune system. Never took them but have some in stock in case I fall desparately ill and need to help my immune system.

Plus all the doctors advicing people to take metamucil because we don't eat enough fiber (alyaf). You can take the pills (a whopping 6 pills a day) or dissolve the powder in a cup of water for a tang-like flavor. I prefer the latter.

Seriously, seriously!! America is one pill-popping society and they are dragging me to the dark side.

Researching all the things I take took a lot of time. It was also very informative. I guess I will keep taking the various vitamins, at least until I can improve my eating habits. The allergy medicine is something that I just have to live with. All the research made me tired! Nothing like honest work, huh! This has turned into an informative babble!!

Cocoa-Bean Frankie Roxy

I miss Cocoa-Bean Frankie Roxy. So much. I wonder if she remembers me. Probably not. She is happy that she is with her mummy and daddy. And her name is Lily, not Cocoa-Bean Frankie Roxy. Besides what kind of name is that for a dog. A small dog at that. I am glad her owners found her but a part of me wishes she still was with me. I found her outside a shop in West Virginia while visiting friends. She was scared and shivering with the saddest eyes. I went in the shop and when I came out she was gone. I found her in the middle of a street with cars whizzing by. She was terrified and crying, following two girls home. The girls did not know Lily, so I wound up taking her with me. I looked her up and she is a Dachshund. How can something so ugly be so cute? I couldn't pick one name so I chose 3; Cocoa-Bean because of her color, Frankie because she was shaped like a frankfurter (hotdog), Roxy because I was so stressed about what to do with her that I dreamt about her and in the dream her name was Roxy!

She latched on to me. She would follow me wherever I went. At night, she cried when I din’t let her in my bedroom. She was so sweet, licking my hands, sitting on my lap. Matching every step of mine with a step of hers. She would only sleep on my lap. We called the animal shelter, a radio show and the vet to see if someone reported her missing. I knew the best thing would be to leave her at my friends’ place in case her owners called. I can’t have pets in my apartment. Who would take care of her when I travel. And who would keep her company while I’m in college? She cried when I left. An hour after I left, I called them and told them to not to take her to the pound, that I wanted her. I asked them to keep her til I could come get her if her owners did not call. The called me back and told me her owners called and that the dog’s name is Lily. She danced when she heard her name. I am glad her family found her. She was so happy to see her owners. I din’t expect to get so attached to her but I miss her terribly. The funny thing is that I don’t even like dogs.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

BD50, Who Gets It and Why?

I wonder how the Bahraini government determines who is eligible to receive the BD 50/- a month for a year. (It is for a year right and not a measly one-time deal?) How does the government know who is needy or isn’t?

Here in the US, I received a letter from the Internal Revenue Service informing me that in May I will receive a one-time check for $600.00 if I filed a single tax return or $1,200 if I filed a joint tax return. The mailing also stated that you are still eligible to receive the amount if you din’t pay any taxes but have an earned income of $3,000, or something like that. This comes as a part of tax relief plan.

The US disbursements are clear, clearer than the Bahraini ones; the criteria for eligibility are stated and you know how the US government determined if a person should get relief or not. It determines a person’s needs, accurately or inaccurately, based on the individual’s tax returns.

When I received the mailing, I felt happy, then disgruntled and now somewhat puzzled. Happy because I am getting money, from the government no less! Disgruntled because instead of disbursing funds as a relief, the government could’ve just not collected as much taxes from me (yeah right! I know it’s a far fetched thought). Puzzled, because it got me thinking about Bahrain and the BD50/-. How is the Bahraini government determining who is eligible for the funds.

I quickly grew wary (I guess it’s the economist in me, or the libertarian thought that dominates the economic department of my college), how does the Bahraini government know who is eligible and who isn’t? Does the government keep tabs on its citizens’ earnings? The answer may not be as puzzling really, it can determine what an individual makes based on the amount that gets deducted for retirement etc. But what about the self-employed, most of whom do not make a bunch of money. The women that drive children to schools and such, it would be ridiculous to assume that they are putting any funds into retirement. How is their eligibility determined?

With the different questions popping in my mind, a final one leaves me worried, however flawed the means of determining eligibility, the government has a plan in place to do that, right? Or does it just pick names from a hat, or a favorable list???

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Witness to Discrimination: What Would You Do?

Witness to Discrimination: What Would You Do?
Bystanders Turn Away When Muslim Actor Hired By 'Primetime' Encounters Hostility

Feb. 26, 2008—

The Sept. 11 attacks, the Iraq war and suicide bombings worldwide have changed not only the way we live but the way we look at those around us, especially Muslims. "Islamophobia" has entered the American vernacular, and the anti-Muslim attitudes and prejudice it describes remain common.

But what if you witnessed "Islamophobia" in action and saw someone being victimized because of someone else's prejudices? What would you do?

ABC's production crew outfitted The Czech Stop, a bustling roadside bakery north of Waco, Texas, with hidden cameras and two actors. One played a female customer wearing a traditional Muslim head scarf, or hijab. The other acted as a sales clerk who refused to serve her and spouted common anti-Muslim and anti-Arab slurs.

The polarity of reactions was shocking, from support to seething disapproval. Never did we expect customers to be so passionate or candid.

His Place, His Right Our actor, Sabina, walked into the bakery in search of apple strudel. When she reached the counter, an actor posing as a sales clerk was quick to greet her with hateful anti-Muslim language.

"Get back on the camel and go back to wherever you came from," he said. "You got that towel on your head. I don't know what's underneath your dress. Just please take your business and go elsewhere with it."

"Sir, I am an American, I was born and raised here," she said.
The other customers seemed to hear the exchange but they barely looked toward our actors. When no one came to her defense, Sabina made a direct appeal to one customer.
"Sir, would you mind ordering me an apple strudel? That's why I am here," Sabina said.
Though visibly shaken by the hateful words, the man gave Sabina the cold shoulder, completed his purchase, and walked out of the bakery. "I really think that a person who owns his own business should be able to say who they sell to," he said after we told him about the experiment.

In fact, it is illegal for public establishments to deny service based on someone's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, according to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Regardless, this man was not the only customer to defend our sales clerk's "right" to discriminate.
A Narrowly Defined America A little while later, Sabina again entered the bakery, and again our sales clerk refused to serve her. This time, one man spoke up, but not on behalf of the Muslim woman. He was adamant that our sales clerk did the right thing. "She wasn't dressed right," he said. "If I was running the place I'd do the same thing." Once again, our sales clerk garnered customer support. After Sabina left the bakery seemingly frustrated and empty-handed, one man thanked the sales clerk for his discriminatory behavior. He then gave our actor a thumbs-up, not once, but twice. Jack Dovidio, a social psychologist at Yale University, said these men seemed to define "American" based on the way people look. They connected with the sales clerk and considered our female actor an outsider. "When we as Americans feel threatened from the outside, we're going to define ourselves in very rigid fashions," Dovidio said. "Either you're with me, and if you're not really one of me, then you must be somebody else who's against me."

A Very Different AmericaThe young woman in our experiment was an actor, but many of the hateful words she heard were based on the experiences of Chicago-born Nohayia Javed, who was watching our experiment from the control van. Javed said she has continually suffered verbal abuse and said she has even been physically attacked by fellow Americans  just because she is Muslim. "They always start off with, 'you're a terrorist, Osama-lover, towel-head, camel jockey' on and on," Javed said. "If I tell them I'm American, they're like, 'No you're not. Just because you were born here doesn't make you American.' And I'm like, 'What makes you American?'"

Javed is not alone. The number of anti-Islamic hate crime incidents in the United States has more than quadrupled from 28 incidents in 2000 to 156 incidents in 2006, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's most recent figures.

Back in the bakery, the next customers had a very different answer to the question of American identity. First we met a man who angrily refused to buy anything when the sales clerk refused to serve Sabina. When our actor chastised him for being a "bad American," he begged to differ. "I believe I am a good American," he said. "My son just came back from serving in the army for over a year in Iraq and that has nothing to do with her [Sabina's] rights. I am deeply offended by this."

When we told him about the experiment, he explained why he stood up for Sabina. "I believe that people who use dress, skin color, language, heritage, financial means, education level, any of those things to say one group is better than another are using empty excuses for bigotry and hatred, and there's been enough hatred," he said.

We also met two young women who refused to let our sales clerk's hateful words go unchecked. "Sir, we are not buying our kolaches because you are really offensive and disgusting," one said. "Just because she's dressed like that doesn't mean anything," said the other, a Muslim-American woman herself. Rather than simply taking their business elsewhere, the young women demanded to speak to the manager, and they also challenged our sales clerk's definition of "American." "She's American. She's American. I'm American. You're the one that's anti-American right now," one said to the sales clerk.
When he refused to budge and our actress turned to leave, the two women walked out with her in a show of support.

The Silent Majority Even though people seemed to have strong opinions on either side, more than half of the bystanders did or said absolutely nothing. This is a familiar reaction for many Muslims such as Javed. "I was shocked because when these things happen to me in real life & I never see what happens after I walk out of that store," she said. "I would try to justify & that they probably didn't hear it & when I watched it, I realized, no, they hear it and they see it and they're okay with it." For Javed, tears of fear were mixed with tears of thanks for those she saw come forward to support Sabina. "In my lifetime, I've never ever had anybody stand up for me," Javed said. "It's very touching to see that because that's the right thing to do, I believe & as an American."

Copyright © 2008 ABC News Internet Ventures

Kiss Kiss

Remember this song? For some reason it popped into my head..Enjoy!


Monday, March 03, 2008

It's no slur to be called a Muslim

1 Mar 1, 2008 - 6:58:57 PM
by Naomi Klein

The turban photos affair was a missed chance for Obama. If he really is to repair the world, he must tackle this Islamophobia. Hillary Clinton denied leaking the photo of Barack Obama wearing a turban, but her campaign manager says that even if she had, it would be no big deal. "Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely."

Sure she did. And George Bush put on a poncho in Santiago, while Paul Wolfowitz burned up YouTube with his anti-malarial African dance routines while World Bank president. The obvious difference is this: when white politicians go ethnic, they look funny; when a black presidential contender does it, he looks foreign - and when the ethnic apparel in question is vaguely reminiscent of the clothing worn by Iraqi and Afghan fighters (at least to many Fox viewers, who think any headdress other than a baseball cap is a declaration of war on America), the image is downright frightening.

The turban "scandal" is all part of what is being referred to as "the Muslim smear". It includes everything from exaggerated enunciations of Obama's middle name (Hussein) to the online whisper campaign that Obama attended a fundamentalist madrasa in Indonesia (a lie), was sworn in on a Qur'an (another lie), and if elected would attach speakers to the White House to broadcast the Muslim call to prayer (I made that one up).
So far Obama's campaign has responded with aggressive corrections that tout his Christian faith, attack the attackers and channel a cooperative witness before the House Un-American Activities Committee. "Barack has never been a Muslim or practised any other faith besides Christianity," states one fact sheet. "I'm not and never have been of the Muslim faith," Obama told a Christian News reporter.

Of course Obama must correct the record, but he doesn't have to stop there. What is disturbing about the campaign's response is that it leaves unchallenged the disgraceful and racist premise behind the entire "Muslim smear": that being Muslim is de facto a source of shame. Obama's supporters often say they are being "Swift-boated" (a pejorative term derived from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign against the 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry), casually accepting the idea that being accused of Muslimhood is tantamount to being accused of treason.
Substitute another faith or ethnicity, and you'd expect a very different response. Consider a report from the archives of the Nation. Thirteen years ago Daniel Singer, the magazine's late Europe correspondent, went to Poland to cover a presidential election. He reported that the race had descended into an ugly debate over whether one of the candidates, Aleksander Kwasniewski, was a closet Jew. The press claimed his mother was buried in a Jewish cemetery (she was still alive), and a popular TV show aired a skit featuring the Christian candidate dressed as a Hassidic Jew. "What perturbed me," Singer said, "was that Kwasniewski's lawyers threatened to sue for slander rather than press for an indictment under the law condemning racist propaganda".

We should expect no less of the Obama campaign. When asked during the Ohio debate about Louis Farrakhan's support for his candidacy, Obama did not hesitate to call Farrakhan's antisemitic comments "unacceptable and reprehensible". When the turban photo flap came up in the same debate, he used the occasion to say nothing at all.

Farrakhan's infamous comments about Jews took place 24 years ago. The orgy of hate that is the "Muslim smear" is unfolding in real time, and it promises to greatly intensify in a general election. These attacks do not simply "smear Barack's Christian faith", as John Kerry claimed in a campaign mailing. They are an attack on all Muslims, some of whom actually do exercise their rights to cover their heads and send their kids to religious school. Thousands even have the very common name Hussein. All are watching their culture used as a crude bludgeon against Obama, while the candidate who is the symbol of racial harmony fails to defend them - this at a time when US Muslims are bearing the brunt of the Bush administration's assaults on civil liberties, including dragnet wiretapping, and are facing a documented spike in hate crimes.
Occasionally, though not nearly enough, Obama says that Muslims are "deserving of respect and dignity". What he has never done is what Singer called for in Poland: denounce the attacks themselves as racist propaganda, in this case against Muslims.

The core of Obama's candidacy is that he alone - having lived in Indonesia as a boy and with an African grandmother - can "repair the world" after the Bush wrecking ball. That repair job begins with the 1.4 billion Muslims around the world, many convinced that the US has been waging a war against their faith. This perception is based on facts, among them the fact that Muslim civilians are not counted among the dead in Iraq and Afghanistan; that Islam has been desecrated in US-run prisons; and that voting for an Islamist party resulted in collective punishment in Gaza. It is also fuelled by the rise of a virulent strain of Islamophobia in Europe and North America.

As the most visible target of this rising racism, Obama has the power to be more than its victim. He can use the attacks to begin the very process of global repair that is the most seductive promise of his campaign. The next time he's asked about his alleged Muslimness, Obama can respond not just by clarifying the facts but by turning the tables. He can state that while a liaison with a pharmaceutical lobbyist may be worthy of scandalised exposure, being a Muslim is not. Changing the terms of the debate this way is not only morally just but tactically smart - it's the one response that could defuse these hateful attacks. The best part is this: unlike ending the Iraq war and closing Guantánamo, standing up to Islamophobia doesn't need to wait until after the election. Obama can use his campaign to start now. Let the repairing begin.

Source: Guardian (UK)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Secret

I decided to treat myself the other day. After all, us gals deserve treats & little pick me ups every now and then. So I purchased The Secret (book) and started reading it today. I have been skeptical of it and still am to a degree. However, I do believe in the principle premise and have always believed it.

I remember telling a friend that who she is, her thoughts and expectations, determines to a large degree the man that is attracted to her. I really believe that our aura (or whatever you wish to call it) attracts certain experiences or people to us. My friend always lamented how she ended up with the wrong man. I always thought that her expectations and thoughts attracted certain men. Example, you don't think you could do better, so you don't get better.

All my life, education has never been a problem for me. Passing or failing was never an issue; not only did I know, fully believe that I would pass but I knew with certainty that I could and would score among the highest, whatever the class was. Somewhere between then and now, I started doubting myself and abilities. For the first time in my life, I began thinking, can I do this, am I cut out for a Phd, should I even be here, am I smart enough. Now for the first time in my life, I find myself struggling with college.

I will fill my mind with positive thoughts, stop dwelling on the negative-no more of the we are doomed, the world is going to hell in a handbasket, people are nuts, selfish, greedy, corrupt-kind of thoughts. Somehow I gave up hope in alot of things and people, started focusing on the bad rather than encouraging the good.

Who knows what may happen, the mind is powerful thing. I hope (I am full of hopes this evening!) that I follow this through and that life doesn't get in the way. I don't know if changing the way you think can make you a millionare or heal you from a terminal disease (while I believe some can do it, I think the majority are unable to do so), I really think that changing your thoughts can lead to your happiness and inner peace.

Excerpts from The Secret-
Relationships: Treat yourself the way you want to be treated by others .. love yourself and you will be loved [...] Focus on being grateful for what you have already .. enjoy it!! Then release into the universe. The universe will manifest it. [...] What you focus on with your thought and feeling is what you attract into your experience [...] Whatever it is you are feeling is a perfect reflection of what is in the process of becoming.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

News and Blogs

I stopped reading the news on a regular basis two years ago. I found that listening to the news during lunch made me queasy and gave me a tummy ache, reading the news during my time off made me depressed and watching it before going to bed gave me nightmares. So I stopped, or tried to stop. I began to skim the headlines and read only what interests me.

It was right about then that I started reading blogs. Not that one is a substitute for the other. Except that blogs, especially the personal ones are so telling and informative. They shed light on what the average person is going through and experiencing. The disconnect from reality that seems to exist between many sections of society that is then translated into some blog or the other. Living for the time being far away from home, Bahraini blogs offered me a rare opportunity of keeping up with my society, the trials and tribulations, the moans and groans, happiness and successes that my people are going through.

I am sure you have a selection of local, regional and international blogs that you read regularly. Here are a few blogs that touched something in me.

Here are a few I like reading: Muslim Hedonist, Raising Yusuf, Neurotic Iraqi Wife, The Angry Arab News Service, and Mosaic. There are a few more that I can’t seem to remember.

Any recommendations?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Whose Fault is it Anyway?

Through the years, the people who have visited or lived in Bahrain all shared a similar experience; they were all surprised and pleased by the Bahraini people's tolerance, down to earthness, kindness and generosity. Despite the varying experiences of foreigners and expats in my country, some negative & many positive, one thing the folks I came across stressed: the Bahraini people's goodness.

Bahrain among its Gulf counterparts has always presented the real easts meets west pot, where foriegners and locals all were part of one society. At least that is how it seemed to me. This is now all changing. With the recent wave, no FLOOD, of illegal immigration Bahrainis are becoming less and less tolerant. Racial slurs are printed in the press and celebrated. The patriotic thing it seems is to berate and belitte the naturalized. Uncivilized, uncouth and unworthy are some of the names they have been called.

Emails containing pictures of naturalized citizens' passports are forwarded. A song of an Indian singing Bahraini ana (I am Bahraini) came out mocking those that came adrift the naturalization flood. The author of an article (see below) that I received in yet another forward showed disdain that a Bahraini would be called Daniel/Danielle, wondering if such a name is native or Arab or the name of a prophet.... Ironically, our sectarian rife society unites in discriminating against the new citizens! FYI, Daniel is a prophet in the Torah and Old Testament. Tsk tsk author, do better research next time, it might increasing your credibility.

I have to wonder at all the discriminatory remarks going around. Is this the new low that Bahrainis are stooping to? Is it that these new citizens are the low wall that we can vent our frustrations on? Who would forgo what they would view as a better life for themselves and their kin, what could be their only way out?

Whose fault is it anyways? Shouldn't the mockery and blame be directed towards those who put this policy in effect?

I can't help but think of how all these reactions towards the newly naturalized only serves to further divide our polarized socity. Let's face it folks, naturalized or local, we are all in this mess together. Let us stop slinging mud.

Here is what sparked this rant: (I did not list the author's name, as I got this in a fwd and did not see the original piece)

آشوف طالت وشمخت ... يا مجنسالذي يحصل في بلادنا البحرين .. في هذه الأيام .. من قبل المجنسين الصحراويين .. شيء لا يمكن السكوت عنه أبداً أبداً أبدا , ولا يرضي أي بحريني ( بغض النظر عن إتجاهاته الطائفية أو ميوله السياسية والإجتماعية ) لا من قريب ولا من بعيد ..فهؤلاء المجنسون الصحراويون أصبحوا خطراً خطيراً علينا وعلى أرواحنا وعلى أهلنا وأولادنا حاضراً ومستقبلاً .. وأصبح التصدي لهم يستلزم منا التكاتف جميعاً ضدهم .. وجميعاً تعني جميع البحرينيين الشرفاء من سنة وشيعة بلا أحقاد دفينة ولا عداوات معلنة أو مخفية , واليوم هو يوم الإتحاد مع بعض ووضع الأيادي بعضها مع بعض والوقوف صفاً واحداً للدفاع عن هذا الوطن وأبناءه ضد هؤلاء الذين جائوا كي يفسدوا في أرضنا ويعيثوا فساداً في وطننا ويهددوا أمننا وأمن أهلنا وأولادنا ..هؤلاء المجنسون الصحراويون الذين يتجمعون مع بعض على شكل فرق تخريبية وترهيبية تضم الأعداد الكبيرة من المراهقين والشباب والكبار , والمتسلحين بالسكانين وألواح الخشب الكبيرة المغروس فيها الكثير من المسامير الكبيرة الحجم .. هؤلاء ( الرعاع ) أصبحوا يتواجدون في أماكن كثيرة من البحرين ويمكن لأي شخص أن يرى قطيعهم في الرفاع الغربي والرفاع الشرقي وجو وعسكر والمحرق والبديع وأماكن أخرى كثيرة .. والمشكلة هي أنهم يتحرشون بكل بحريني يقترب منهم أو هم يقتربون منه تعمداً , والذي سبق وأن حصل في مناطق عديدة من البحرين وآخرها في مدينة المحرق .. من هجوم على البحرينيين الآمنين وضربهم بالسكاكين والألواح الخشبية والمسامير وتعريض حياتهم وحياة أسرهم للخطر .. ما حصل هو فقط القليل جداً مما سوف يحصل مستقبلاً من قبل هؤلاء إن يجدوا من يقف في طريقهم ويثبتهم عند حدودهم ويعلمهم أصول الإحترام للبلد التي إحتضنتهم .. فأما الإحترام وأما المغادرة .وهؤلاء المجنسون الصحراويون الذين أصبحوا يسيطرون على موقع منتديات مملكة البحرين ويدخلون إليه بأسماء مستعارة .. مثل أسد تكريت ودانيال نعمة الله .. ويسبون ويلعنون كل بحريني وكل مواطن صالح لبلده وأهله , هؤلاء هم الذين يحتاجون إلى من يقوم بتأديبهم وتأديب أهلهم أولاً لأنهم هم الذين يتسببون في إشعال الفتن بين الشعب البحريني الواحد , وهم الذين يحرضون إخوانهم من بنوا جنسهم ( الصحراوي ) لأعمال التخريب وإشعال الفتنة .. نحن اليوم في البحرين .. نريد أن ننسى إختلافاتنا في وجهات النظر جانباً , ونعتبر أن تلك الإختلافات في وجهات النظر لا يجب أن أن تصل بنا إلى الخلافات حول تأكيد من وجهة نظره هي الصائبة .. نريد أن نثبت المثل الذي يقول أنا وأخى ضد إبن عمي , ولكن أنا وإبن عمي على الغريب .. والغريب هنا هم حملة الأسماء الغريبة في مجتمعنا الخليجي المعروف بأسماءه وبأنسابه .. الغريب هنا هو شريفط ومريفط وتويسان .. الغريب هنا هو دانيال نعمة الله .. دانيال ؟ هل هذا إسم شخص بحريني ؟ هل هي بنت أم ولد ؟ وعندما تسأله عن إسمه يقول هذا إسم نبي من أنبياء الله .. هل سمعتم بإسم النبي دانيال ؟ أستغفر الله العلي العظيم ..لنتحد جميعنا .. سنة وشيعة .. ضد هؤلاء المجنسين الصحراويين قبل فوات الأوان ..
How about we unite not againt the blameless but against the corrupt policy that drowned the country with this flood? How about putting the not-to-be-mentioned report back on the discussion table and investigating its accusations? How about holding those responsible for unleashing the gates responsible? Naaaah, that would be too logical, let's just continue beating on the scapegoat. It won't change a thing but a few ppl might feel better.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Saudi Arabia to lift ban on women drivers

Got this in an email. Congrats to our Saudi sisters on this victory, may this be the first of many human and women rights & freedoms gained back in Saudi and the region as a whole.

Daily Telegraph: Saudi Arabia to lift ban on women driversBy Damien McElroy in Riyadh
Last Updated: 1:02am GMT 21/01/2008

Saudi Arabia is to lift its ban on women drivers in an attempt to stem a rising suffragette-style movement in the deeply conservative state.

Government officials have confirmed the landmark decision and plan to issue a decree by the end of the year.

The move is designed to forestall campaigns for greater freedom by women, which have recently included protesters driving cars through the Islamic state in defiance of a threat of detention and loss of livelihoods.

The royal family has previously balked at granting women driving permits, claiming the step did not have full public support. The driving ban dates back to the establishment of the state in 1932, although recently the government line has weakened.

"There has been a decision to move on this by the Royal Court because it is recognised that if girls have been in schools since the 1960s, they have a capability to function behind the wheel when they grow up," a government official told The Daily Telegraph. "We will make an announcement soon."

Abdulaziz bin Salamah, the deputy information minister, said the official reform programme had been dogged by debate over the issue.

"In terms of women driving, we don't have it now because of the reticence of some segments of society," he said. "For example, my mother wouldn't want my sister to drive.

"It's something she cannot grapple with. But there is change on the way. I think the fair view is that one can be against it but one does not have the right to prevent it."

If the ban on women driving is lifted, it could be years before the full impact is seen. Practical hurdles stopping women obtaining licences and insurance must be overcome.

Mohammad al-Zulfa, a reformist member of the Saudi consultative Shura Council, which scrutinises official policies in the oil-rich state, said reversing the ban was part of King Abdullah's "clever" strategy of incremental reform.

"When it was first raised, the extremists were really mad," he said. "Now they just complain. It is diminishing into a form of consent."

Saudi Arabia maintains a strict segregation of the sexes outside the family home.
An unaccompanied woman must shop behind curtains and cannot hail a taxi.

Critics believe allowing women to drive would be the first step towards a gradual erosion of the kingdom's modesty laws. A woman would have to remove the traditional abaya robe to get a clear view behind the wheel.

"Allowing women to drive will only bring sin," a letter to Al-Watan newspaper declared last year. "The evils it would bring - mixing between the genders, temptations, and tarnishing the reputation of devout Muslim women - outweigh the benefits."

Saudi women have mounted growing protests. Fouzia al-Ayouni, the country's most prominent women's rights campaigner, has risked arrest by leading convoys of women drivers. "We have broken the barrier of fear," she said. "We want the authorities to know that we're here, that we want to drive, and that many people feel the way we do."

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

My Beloved's Fool

My heart bleeds as I hear news of my beloved. I stare on, listening while my heart is thumping in my chest, thinking to myself, where is this, this isn’t the beloved that I know. I don’t recognize this monster that is being described. This terror, corruption, greed and evil that has ingrained itself into the very fabric of this beloved of mine. What has become of my beloved and where is she headed to? Destruction, doom, and sadness seem to be the path she is heading off to. Fool that I am I fell for her. Drunk in her love, I swallowed all the lies and believed that a leopard can change its spots.