Sunday, May 8, 2016

Reflection 8

It has been a very long and interesting semester in this class. I have learned a lot more than I intentionally expected myself to learn. One of the most memorable lessons is the one we had about the Palestine and Israel conflict. Having Dr.Zaru come in there and tell us about how life was for people who lived on occupied land was very eye opening. I did not know that Israel had divided Palestine into 3 areas (A,B, and C). Within these 3 areas of 1 country, there were 3 various "leaders", but Israel has a say in all of these 3 areas. Going to the various embassies was also fun and educational. I learned about the various policies in each of these embassies we visited. This was a great class to take, because it helped me see the world in a different light. Living in the US and watching news here, it is natural for one to be bias on certain issues that they do not really understand. But taking this SIS has made me a better researcher, I do not only rely on western news, I look at other news sources so that way I can see two different opinions.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Suheir Hammad

Suheir Hammad

Suheir Hammad is an Arab-American poet, political activist, author and performer. She was born to Palestinian parents in October 25th, 1973 in Amman Jordan. When Suheir was five years old, her parents immigrated to New York. Suheir Hammad’s work has appeared in over a dozen anthologies and numerous publications.I find Suheir Hammad to be
very interesting because of her book “Born Palestinian, Born Black & the Gaza Suite”. In this book she writes about culture, consciousness and also conflict.
There is one poem by Suheir that I find to be very touching and inspirational. This is the poem she wrote after the 9/11 terror attacks. To sum up the poem, she was talking about how she was disappointed that her “brothers” were the ones who committed the crimes. There is one line in the poem that I found astounding, when she said

on my block, a woman was crying in a car parked and stranded in hurt.
i offered comfort, extended a hand she did not see before she said,
"we're gonna burn them so bad, i swear, so bad." my hand went to my
head and my head went to the numbers within it of the dead iraqi
children, the dead in nicaragua. the dead in rwanda who had to vie
with fake sport wrestling for america's attention.
yet when people sent emails saying, this was bound to happen, lets
not forget u.s. transgressions, for half a second i felt resentful.
hold up with that, cause i live here, these are my friends and fam,
and it could have been me in those buildings, and we're not bad
people, do not support america's bullying. can i just have a half
second to feel bad?

I have put a link to the video of her reciting the poem. Hope you enjoy


Monday, April 25, 2016

Weekly Report 9

This is by far one of my favourite weekly reports to write and this is because of my 20 years on earth I did not know that half of the people I listen to and watch on TV are of Arab descent.

To my surprise I found out that Vine Vaughn and Shakira both had Lebanese descent. Today I will only be writing about Shakira :).

Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll was born on February 2, 1977 in Colombia. Shakira's paternal grandparents migrated from Lebanon to New York City. Shakira's father was born in the USA and when he was around the age of 5, his family moved to Colombia. The word "Shakira", is actually an Arabic feminine version of "Shakir" which means "grateful". When Shakira was four years old, her father took her to a local Middle Eastern restaurant where she first heard the doumbek (a traditional Arab drum) played for the first time. Little Shakira started dancing on the table after hearing the drum play, from that moment she realized her love to perform. 

You can see how Shakira embraces her Arab side in her music video when she dances.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Weekly Report 8

For this weeks weekly report, I decided to write about how novelist Alaa Al Aswany contributed to the revolution in Egypt.
 In the article I read about how Aswany studied the previous revolution of Egypt around 1919; he notes how the revolution was unexpected and took the world by storm. People called Aswany 'optimistic', because in interviews he would talk about how another revolution was brewing up."I was always optimistic, I was accused of being too optimistic by some friends. I believed that at some point there would be a revolution in Egypt."- Aswany

The Egyptian people were tired of living in poverty and it became to a point that they could no longer stand it and therefore revolted. In the article, I like how he notes that the Egyptians did not need countries like the US to help aid them through the revolution.

One deep lesson of what happened in Egypt is that we don’t need an American invasion to get rid of a dictator. We can do it ourselves without all the casualties or occupying another country. And we did that in eighteen days. This is the end of an era of the post-independence dictatorships, which were the model for the region. It’s a matter of time for the other dictators. I could give an exception for the Gulf countries because they have enough money to make their people satisfied or to delay the revolution.
The fact that Aswany is so analytical to the extent that he see's how the Gulf countries will continue to have monarchs because of the amount of money they pump out to their citizens (makes them satisfied with life). However, this trend will soon end, because there's a new wave in the Arab world. People want democracies.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Reflection 6

Today we got an amazing opportunity to hear Dr.Leahy talk about the international communities relationship with the Israel and Palestine conflict. She talked about how after Hamas won the elections in Palestine, not only did the UN stop funding them, but so did the US, Russia etc. The US says it will support Israel no matter the conditions. We all came to a conclusion that the US will ignore all the international law that Israel breaks, because they are our ally. I completely agree with all the statements that were made in her lecture. Given the history, Israel gets away with a lot of crime it commits because it knows it has one of the most powerful nations behind its back. We also learned about how the big 5 nations in the UN affect the whole function of the organization. This makes it useless when it comes to the mistreatment of the people of Palestine. 

I find it also unfair how the US spends tax dollars on Israel each year. The US gives Israel approximately 3.2 billion. Mind you Israel is not a third world country, we need to stop spending money on Israel and actually help countries that are in dire need of money and resources. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

US-Arab Relations

The problem in Syria and also Isis is no longer a problem for the Middle Eastern countries, but it affects people on a global spectrum. Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with president Barack Obama last week and Isis, PYD and PKK were subjects of their conversation. The US and Turkey see eye to eye when it comes to the groups I mentioned above. According to reports the PYD and PKK are working together.

The facts on the ground support Turkey's claims: In Nusaybin, where the Turkish security forces have been cracking down on PKK networks, the terrorists have been receiving support from al Qamishli - a PYD-controlled town across the border. Meanwhile, PKK militants have been targeting security forces with IEDs - a skill that the PYD learned f from DAESH. To make matters worse, the authorities discovered that at least two PKK- affiliated suicide bombers, who blew themselves up in Ankara, had previously received training among the PYD ranks.

They had been a little friction between the US and Turkey foreign policy. The US supported PYD because they believed it was their ally fighting against Daesh. However, it turns out that PYD was fighting with other intentions (to get their own land) and the Turkish government was upset that Washington did not label PYD as a terrorist organization.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ref #5

So recently in the Arab world we have been talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and it is a really touchy subject that we need to quickly find a solution to. The lecture by Professor Zaru gave me a very clear insight of what life is like for people of Palestine who live in an occupied land. I think what would be a good solution to this conflict would be for Israel and Palestine to be two separated states and for the Israel government to respect the Palestinian land. It is clear that the current "two-state" plan is not working because Israel is clearly abusing the human rights and international laws of the Palestinian land. This whole division of Palestine with area A,B, and C is unfair to the people of Palestine. First and foremost Israel is mistreating these people (occupiers), they decide when they will cut off both water and power supplies. Life is unpredictable for Palestinians and it is very unfortunate that they have to live this way on a daily basis.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Washington DC Field Trip

On Thursday March 31st, 2016 the class had an amazing opportunity to go and meet with the representatives of both the Qatar and Tunis embassies. In addition to the embassy tours and discussion, we got to got to the Islamic Center of Washington DC and the Palestine Center. I learned a lot about the foreign policies the United States has with these nations. I learnt more in depth about the revolution in Tunis; how it was the first nation in the Arab world to recognize women rights and also make it illegal for a man to marry more than one wife.

 At the Qatar embassy I learned about how they are trying to treat employees better and come up with policies that protect the foreign employees in Qatar. The lecture I enjoyed the most was the one with the Tunis embassy, because the speaker was very clear in giving the history of the progression in Tunis. She explained how the revolution did not just come up overnight, but in fact began years and years ago. The visit to the Islamic Center was also fun, I got to ask questions and get clarification. It is apparent that western news outlets tend to be a bit bias when it comes to news regarding the Arab/Islamic nations. I learned the importance of also researching for myself; not just believing what the news say. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Israel/Palestine War

Summary Execution of Wounded Palestinian
The war between Israel and Palestine has been going on for  over 66 years. The land of Palestine has been shrinking and taken by Israel throughout this bloody and lengthy war. There is hatred among brothers and sisters (Israel/Palestine), and the cries of the Palestinians are being heard but no one is doing anything about it. I read an article about a shooting of a Palestinian man by an Israelite (nothing new with this script), but footage of the shooting has surfaced but no judgement has been made.

March 24,2016 in the West Bank city of Hebron,an Israeli soldier opened fire and shot an unarmed Palestinian. “The video of al-Sharif’s killing by an Israeli soldier shows both an apparent cold-blooded murder and numerous witnesses, which should make for a strong legal case,”.“The question is whether Israeli authorities will do what they haven’t done in countless other cases and bring the alleged killer to justice.”
Although this article mostly highlights the shooting of the young man and Israel's injustices;I was more upset by the fact that incidents like this happen on a day to day basis and the international community just ignores it.
It is apparent that we are not humane anymore, we have become so used to seeing blood shed. Something needs to be done to not only stop this war but unite the people of Israel and Palestine. No human deserves to be called a dog. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Reflection 4

On Tuesday we had an opportunity to get a lecture from Dr.Boukhars about radical Islam and also about the Sunni and Shia divide. Isis origins can be traced back from the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Isis was then known as Al-Qaeda, but as time went on it branched out to Syria and then changed its leadership and name, to what we know it to be now ; Isis. It is clear that the divide between the Shia and Sunni has worsened terror groups. The Sunni population is a majority in nations like Syria, and it is ruled by Shia authority, which tends to mistreat them. Extremist groups such like Al-Qaeda and Isis, try to gain people’s support by saying that they are fighting for the Sunni Muslim populations. Nations like Iran (majority Shia), in fact support terror groups like Hezbollah because of this need for power to the opposing sides of Islam (Sunni and Shia). Having powerful nations support extremist groups does not better the chances of these radical groups declining.

Another important thing that was brought up from the lecture, was the profile of these people joining these terror groups. A group like Isis, preys on youth who were juvenile delinquents and have just converted to Islam. People who join terror groups also tend to be discriminated against or feel like they do not fit in their communities.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Reflection #3 Massamba Diop

Reflection #3
Massamba Diop

The drumming concert by Massamba Diop was very intriguing and inspiring. The passion that the drummer had was easily noticeable and they also had a dancer who was very good and passionate about his culture. The drumming was heavily influenced by the Mali empire music and Massamba spoke of his heritage and how they had influences of the French and also Arabs. One thing that made me happy was how they tried to get the audience involved in their performance. It was a really great site seeing everyone getting involved and also interested in the culture of the Grios (uncle Massamba’s tribe). Sama waye (my friend) was a theme of the show, they talked about how friendship was important; we need to value the relationships and also be one with nature.

 This is a song sama waye, it is not the same version we heard, but it has the same message.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Musicians of the Arab World- Cheb Khaled

الموسيقى العربية translation : Arab Music

I was so excited when I found out that this weeks report involved music!! I love music so much and believe that it connects the world; you don't have to understand a language a musician is using but just FEEL the emotions coming from them as they play an instrument or sing. The musician that I am going to write about is Cheb Khaled; he is actually one of the reasons why I was drawn to the Arab world.

Khaled Hadj Ibrahim (Cheb Khaled), is an Algerian musician. He was born February 29,1960. There is really not much information about his childhood or anything, but we now jump into the most interesting part of his life... His music! At the age of 14 Khaled started his own band "Les Cinq Etoiles" and this is when his career kicked off. Later on after starting his band (behind his parents back), Khaled got into a lot of trouble especially by his father for not investing his time in school but rather music. Khaled got expelled from school at age 14 and from then his music career started getting a lot of attention. There was a new movement in Algeria with music that was deemed as "morally wrong", and the young Ibrahim was one of the most influencial in this movement. The type of music was known as the "Rai Movement".

One thing that is different about Cheb Khaled's music is his modern twist. The first song I heard by him was Hiya Hiya, and he featured Pitbull in this song. I was taken by surprise and started listening to a lot more of his music. My ultimate favourite song by him has to be Yamina. This is an old poem (love story), that Cheb Khaled took and made his own.

The lyrics are :Hada elyoum sa'eed mbarak Kiwafitak Yamina
This day is a happy & blessed day ( my lucky day ) Because I met you , O yamina
Ya taj alkhoodat khbarak , El mard eli beek hlikna
Your news are like crowns & your desease killed us
( × 2 )

Mali taka a'leek nshoofk Wi nsaksi fi elnas khyana
I don't have any window that overlooks you & I ask people about treason
Mithawil kalbi min darak,kan almoula yikbal mina
My heart is really hurt because of you , God might have accepted our prayers
( × 2 )

Wah wah wah Yamina , Ma a'tham zinak almklooa'
Yeh , yeh Yamina ! How great your beauty is , crazy girl !
Wah wah wah Yamina , Ma a'tham zinak Yamina
Yeh , yeh Yamina ! How great your beauty is , O yamina !

Bilhima shahreen nwadi , 7ata dubt thwab elmilha
I have been feverish for two months , until I melted like salt
Kul lila winhar innadi , Ma yihlash innam allmha
I call out day & night , I can't miss the glance

Rah eldar sfi min jasdi , Orbi a'aff osibt elraha
I have no harm anymore , God healed me & I got better
Nid'i allah ana nzoujak , Alshr' walhak m'ana
I pray god to mary you , The religious law gave us the right for that
( × 2 )

The first time I heard this song I felt the love that Cheb felt and quickly looked up the lyrics and to my guess I was right about the song being about love.
It is clear that Cheb Khaled's music is very versatile in the sense that it is modern but has characteristics of much older music which is very impressive.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Reflection 2 : Al-Andalus

Today we learned about the rich history of the Al-Andalus. And you may wonder what exactly is
Al-Andalus? If you are like me and have no idea what in the world it is, well you are about to be enlightened. Al-Andalus is known as the  Muslim Spain. It is the territory that was occupied by Muslim and became their empire in Southern Spain. The city of Cordova became one of great importance in the world during the Middle Ages.
Arab culture advanced to interpenetrate the Christian culture of the early Middle Ages. Climax of the Muslim civilization came between the 9th and 11th century. During 750 the Umayyad dynasty in Damascus was overthrown by the Abbasid family. Abd-al-Rahman was the only remaining successor from the Umayyad dynasty who ran and escaped to North Africa. He then declared himself caliphate and later regained Spain back. Under Abd-al-Rahman, Spain became the first province to shake off the authority of a recognized caliph in Islam. Later on in his reign, he managed to build great cities and have the most amazing palace. One thing that fascinated me about Abd-al-Rahman was how intellectually strong his people were. For example he built a library and this library had approximately 400,000 books. These books were all HAND WRITTEN which is an amazing thing to accomplish especially during that era.

There is no doubt that the Muslim/Arabs influenced the Spaniards. Till this day, the influence of the Arabs can be seen in music,art,poetry and even language in Spain. The song above is a great example of how culturally rich Spain was during that period. The lyrics of the song are not only in Arabic, but also in Spanish and were composed by a Jewish composer Jehuda Halevi.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi

Arab and Muslim contributions to world civilization

The people of the Arab and Muslim have contributed a lot to this global civilization with revolutionary medicinal techniques, mathematical and geographical achievements.

One person who stood out the most to me is Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī, he was a Muslim astronomer and mathematician who is known as the father of algebra. Mūsā al-Khwārizmī was a scholar who worked in Baghdad close to the caliphate al-Maʾmūn at the school “House of Wisdom”.The House of Wisdom acquired and translated scientific and philosophic treatises, particularly Greek, as well as publishing original research. Al-Kwārizmī’s work on elementary algebra, Al-Kitāb al-mukhtaṣar fī ḥisāb al-jabr waʾl-muqābala (“The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing”), was translated into Latin in the 12th century, from which the title and term Algebra derives. Algebra is a compilation of rules, together with demonstrations, for finding solutions of linear and quadratic equations based on intuitive geometric arguments, rather than the abstract notation now associated with the subject. Its systematic, demonstrative approach distinguishes it from earlier treatments of the subject. It also contains sections on calculating areas and volumes of geometric figures and on the use of algebra to solve inheritance problems according to proportions prescribed by Islamic law.

The introduction of algebra to Europe was monumental and revolutionary. Can you imagine having to use to Roman numerals on a day to day basis? It would take a lot of time to jot down a number like 123400. The Qu'ran played an important role in the educational advancements of the Muslim/Arab people, because it encouraged obtaining knowledge. Symmetries are also largely used in temple (mosque) designs. It is clear that numbers and geometrical shapes are a common trait in Arab and Muslim countries.
Some examples of the complex symmetries used in Islamic temple decoration
Some examples of the complex symmetries used in Islamic temple decorations


Sunday, February 7, 2016

What is happening in Syria?

Weekly Report 1: Syria

Weekly Report 1: Syria

In the mist of the current chaos in Syria, one may have questions about why and how the situation in Syria escalated so quickly ? I will try to answer these questions by first going back in time to see how this problem began and see if there are any possible solutions to this issue.

Formally known as al-Qaeda in Iraq around 2003; Isis is a militant Islamic group that derived from the al-Qaeda jihadist group. In 2011, AQI changed its name to what we now know it as Isis/IS/ISIL which stand for Islamic State of Iraq,Islamic State,  Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant etc. Isis is responsible for a lot of murders not only in Syria (Middle East countries), but also in Europe as well (the Paris attacks). Isis has this idea of creating an Islamic State, and they are going to do whatever it takes for them to do so.
Given the great threat Isis gives to the whole world, a lot of western countries (Russia,France,UK,USA) have stepped in to stop Isis. The intentions of the western countries seem to be of good reason, but not so much certainty with Russia’s involvement. Putin’s decision to intervene, was win-win for him: if the Russian attacks succeed, he’s shown leadership; if they fail, the intervention will have killed lots of bad people, to the world’s benefit, and the blame for the failure will still rest mainly on the United States and its coalition for not cooperating with Russia. Besides the point, the situation in Syria is chaotic and more countries should get involved in trying to stop Isis.

Sources Used:

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Why the Arab world?

Reflection 1:

This past year I was introduced to the Arab world in a political approach. Although the Middle East is not necessarily the Arab world, it does entail a lot of cultural aspects the Arab world values. My course in the politics of the Middle East made me want to do more research on the history and lives of people in the Arab speaking countries. I love the rich culture these people in the Arab world share, not only linguistic but also a lot of similarities in values and the social aspects. Prior to the 9/11 attacks I honestly did not know anything about these regions of the world. The fact that the 9/11 attacks happened when I was 7 years old has really helped me not be too judgmental towards Arabic people. Growing up, I would always see people tie the Arab people to the awful terrorist groups that attacked the United States. I did not let other peoples views to cloud my thoughts on the people in the Arab world. I am grateful for getting the opportunity to come to college and actually expand my mind by doing research and answering a few questions I had about the Arab people. One important thing I learnt was that Arabs are not all Muslims and that not all Muslims are terrorists. This is one thing that the society I live in fails to realize, but hopefully in time it will.