Friday, December 28, 2012

Come To Nashville, Music City

I took a trip to Nashville TN, the birthplace of country music and the place where rock star and other musicians go to get inspired. Country music is a lifestyle in this city and most of their bars feature country music live bands every night. Tennessee is an interesting state--a very long state to drive in. But through it all, the trip is worth taking. The music is something you do not see or hear in places like New York. Country music still tried to find better stories to tell about us.  

You walk down Broadway in downtown Nashville, and you will feel it right away. People dig this music thing, the Western life and the hat and boots. Stores in that area also can sell you an awesome guitar and cross the street you can pick up a pair of boots. The city has a great feel and tourists from around the world visit. I have indulged in some awesome meals and sweets the city celebrates life with.

To be candid, I felt place gets a bad name from the civil war era and various stereotypes about people down there. I was astonishing how graceful the people are and how mixed and diverse the cities are. The North preaches getting along, but in reality they do not practice it--maybe they do not have too. In the American South, I felt people people get along just fine and it looks beautiful. There people out there who believe in America and cherish it. I know, I was always pleased to see sings made in the USA next to a product I want or love. Roa was able to tell the difference and point to how charming people are down there.    

The best thing about the trip is the people of the South, they are nice courteous and fun loving. Big portion is the way to go. Big trucks, big parking spaces, big dinner briskets. Elvis is King of that land, people know his history and his must by heart. I did also mange to go to Memphis, I felt Nashville did a better job claiming the music scene. Memphis is where Graceland is and great BBQ. I do not think, we have a city like Nashville in the Middle East. I feel Iraq in its glory days (1920s to 1950s) had that kind of vibe. Beirut may come close.

good music, good people and great food, take me to Nashville place.  
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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I Would Never Buy A Gun, But The Right Is Sacred

After the news broke of the mass shooting in a school in Connecticut, it seems it has become in style to attack gun owners and advocate of American's right to carry firearms. Adam Lanza did a horrible thing and he had clear mental issues, those close to him should have seen it coming. The innocent who have been murdered are not the first and I hope they would be the last. Many Americans do not ask for much, they know however, that the second amendment is on of the rights they cherish the most.

I tend to find myself a purist when it comes to the US constitution, it's a sacred document for many and has worked and been working for a long time. My concern is if you start getting into intentions behind the law and what the founders had on mind, you start getting into muddy water.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. 

Freedom of speech could be on the line. Those who want guns will get them--the Oregon Mall shooter stole his, the guy in Norway bough his online from America. I think the issue is mental state of Americans. I understand the fear of guns, but people living in the cities do not understand the value in rural America where hunters live and making a living. They have the right to feel protected, and by owning a firearm, they are saving tax payers money.  There is a reason why America works, too many laws that mock the US constitution are no needed.

Look no further, than Israel. People there have so many guns, but you do not see many of them engaging in mass shooting--the do that in Gaza and the West Bank. But in their cities, they do not have many incidents like the ones we do in America. I also think that most Americans are not violent by nature, many American homes where loving families dwell own firearms. I know those people are not heartless, and they feel for the victims of mass shootings. The solution is not in arming everyone and certainly not in disarming everyone.

I hope they would not make any dumb laws that would infringe on the American right to bear arms, and I see eye to eye with justice Scalia "I take that to be any weapon you can carry." I hope American politicians won't instate knee jerk solutions for a problem that would only cure the symptoms but not the real disease--mental illness.

And for conservatives, do not cut any more funding for metal illness programs--otherwise, you would have to deal with people like Adam, Holmes, and Virginia Tech massacre guy.    
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Monday, December 10, 2012

On A Scale Of 1 to 10 Middle Fingers

Ever since I started driving the quality of my day has been affected by the sheer number of middle fingers I bring upon myself from those impatient drivers. So, if you drove in the DC area for the past four months, and have given someone the middle finger more than once--chances are I have ran into you on the road.

When you do not give me a middle finger, how else can I tell if I did something wrong? Your middle finger is like a tip, on how not to do things. So when you are nice to me, I might make the same mistake again. So the quality of my day would be nice if the I keep the middle fingers per day ratio to under two.

Anything more than four middle fingers and my day is not going so well. However, as time passes by, I get better at this driving thing and naturally the middle fingers start coming from me--not yet though. 
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Sunday, December 02, 2012

Drinking Beer In Mecca!

On my trip to Raleigh, I visited the downtown area and spotted a neon sign for a restaurant called Mecca. I was cool, this looks like an interesting establishment to visit. My first thought this is some Arabic food place, that serves Halal meat or something of that nature.

We walked around and then looked for a place to grab some food, we were back close to the restaurant and there we go, their menu is at the door. I looked and then came the surprise. This was no Halal place, not even close. This is a 1930 establishment that is still standing till now.

It's a diner where they actually serve tons of wines and beers. I was confused and not sure how the name came about  It might not be an insult for Islam's holy city, but I do not know why Mecca came to be a place for a drinking. I am aware that in the pre-Islam era, alcohol was the cool thing to do in that Mecca. But Mecca is neither known for its food nor for its drinks. This is like having an accounting/auditing firm with the name Washington, DC in the title. It does not really add up.     
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Monday, November 26, 2012

Thankful to Be Alive In Gaza: My Family's Story of Survival

To read the article on the Huffington Post click here

My two-year-old nephew Omar had been confined to a small apartment with six other screaming children and their families since Israel began its bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

Shortly after a cease-fire was announced on Wednesday, he and his parents returned to our family home in Bait Lahia. My mother, who I spoke to over the phone, said that the first thing that Omar did was rush up the stairs in search of his most prized possession: his bike.

 To read the article on the Huffington Post click here
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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Arab- American, American Football and Pumpkin Pie

I spend my thanksgiving in Raleigh North Carolina, and I loved it. For Thanksgiving, the downtown area was a zombie town--no one as much as walking down the streets. I guess people down there take family values seriously.

But I was invited to a nice home for a retired Palestinian American doctor (they live in Durham) where they were two dozens of people mostly Palestinian Americans. What was interesting  the family had the turkey and had hummus too. They had rice and salad too. But when it came to desert they went all American with Pumpkin pie and cheese cake. What I learned.

Despite embracing American life to the fullest, most Arab immigrants I know, resent pumpkin pie. They we were surprised I loved it so much--I had plenty o it. I mean the boys in the room were watching the Dallas Cowboys vs. The Washington Red Skins, but still no love for this traditional treat.

And students who go to Duke, talk about it as if it was some religion. Which is pretty cool if you go or work in that great institution. We met a Yemeni and Egyptian girls who go there, and boy they were talking up that school more than they were talking about their families.

The malls down there were a lot of fun, people are naturally all about serving, smiling and getting since they were born so customer service feels great. Why people take time to talk to you and go above and beyond to be helpful. I like that.  

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

My Conversations With My Mom In Gaza

My mom is the Matriarch of our family. She is the family’s central bank and the great mother and a grandmother you would want for your own kids. While Israel was waging its war on the civilians in Gaza, my mother Fatema was busy keeping her 30 grandchildren entertained. They have been losing power often -- more often than they are used to -- due to constant shelling and interference by the Israeli army.

“Tonight, I will wear an extra pair of pants, to be ready. In case anything happens to us at night, I will be decent as I am being transported to a local hospital or morgue. I want to look good even if I have left this earth.” As I felt a chill up my spine, she went on to tell me about our next door neighbour Essam; the 19-year old was bombed on his motorcycle near our Beit Lahia home.

She told me that my cousin Rabah also suffered some injuries from the same attack. Rabah is the kind of Palestinian entrepreneur that Wall Street would love. He came from humble origins and grew up to own one of the largest textile businesses in Gaza. At one point he was even a main business partner with Israel jeans producers. My mom has always liked Rabah because she says he has a good head on his shoulders. She told me that at the crowded hospital he was given a band-aid and told to go home and return once the military assault is over for surgery.

My mother mentioned the other day that the Israeli attacks have brought her closer to her favorite grandson, though she would never admit it. She is very protective of him and every time my family home shakes, she races for Omar and holds him tight. She is not obsessive, but she was the images of recent dead Gaza infants.Little Omar is her new life and she will do everything to keep him safe.     

She just called me a few hours ago to let me know that they no longer live at home and that the entire family has moved to my brother’s small apartment 15 minutes away. When I saw her number on my caller ID, my heart began racing, expecting the worst. Then I started to calm when I reminded myself I have not read any more names that I know. “I worried that you would call us at home, and get no answer, so I did not want you to worry for us. There are many Israeli shellings in our area, so we evacuated and took the kids.” She added that it seem the Israeli military wants to bomb the Abu El Mezza home, right next door to ours. Abu El Mezza is a large family that already lost their 19-year old son Essam on the first day of the attacks.

In most cases, Israelis do attempt to target specific homes, but nobody can predict the damage of those airplane bombs. Take for example, the home of the Abu Alfool family in Beit Lahia. It was first targeted with a warning shot and an hour later the real bombs were dropped. As a result, at least seven homes saw major damage from those bombs. Not only is this collective punishment, but it’s also inhuman. Fifteen bystanders walking the streets were taken the hospitals with mild to serious injuries. The home where my family has taken shelter is three blocks away and as a result of the bombs dropped, the indoor glass shattered all over the property. Luckily none of our family members have been hurt, which is something I am incredibly grateful for. 

Now my family is crammed in a small apartment trying to convince themselves that they will be safer when they know this to be untrue. During the Israel’s Cast Lead Operation in 2008-09 they also moved toward the city center when my cousin Hope was shot in the kitchen as she made mint tea. My mother says that even though it’s very cold outside, they have to keep all the windows open because the constant shelling and rocket noises shatter the glass. “This way the windows won’t be shattered and do us harm.”

While people are scared for their lives because certain death is incredibly close. My little sister-in-law Raghad who is on third grade has taken up poetry as a mechanisms of coping with the madness and fury the Israeli army has unleashed on Gaza. She read us her latest poem about her hopes for her favorite holiday coming back for the sake of the children she said.   

Meanwhile, pro-Israel activists in the U.S. have been mocking Palestinian deaths -- even the cold blooded murder of babies in their cribs. These desensitized feelings are troubling even to observers in Israel. Only people who have never seen a real war can be this naive about true human suffering as a result of these conflicts. Many of these bigoted commentators are confusing popular war games with full blown wars; these are real people, not avatars. For the sake of my family in Gaza and all families in the region, I hope this madness ends soon.        

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Netanyahu’s political pandering leads to more Palestinian bloodshed

Time and again when the actions of a Palestinian group result in as much as scratching an Israeli citizen, the Israeli military retaliates. Using the logic of ‘might makes right,’ which plays itself out in cycles of bloodshed, Palestinians have to die. This is the logic of extremes, devoid of dignity, signaling little respect for human rights and the autonomy of democracies. The logic paves a path to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office and overlays that path with Palestinian blood. The motivation behind Netanyahu’s call to arms is the inexorable political pandering to his right-wing coalition, and the lives of Palestinians should not get in his way.

The horror sewn by Israeli might is tragic. Blood soaked boxes of Palestinian body parts are the evidence of the loss of innocent civilians. These boxes, collected by paramedics after the Israeli assault and visible in film footage, may set into motion a counter logic among the Gaza militia to target Israeli civilians. Like in ancient Greek tragedies, an unstoppable cycle of revenge might escalate.

Where are the voices of reason sickened by random rocket attacks on Israeli civilians and bombings of Palestinians? “Let’s send the people of Gaza to heaven”, said one Israeli politician as his country’s army was shelling people living less than 20 minutes away from their headquarters.   

While people of Gaza have seen a lot of suffering and God knows what the top Israeli war generals have in store for them, I have spotted grown men crying at the scene of the blood and the ambulance. I fear for my family who have been made refugees in Gaza for 64 years now. Sixty Years ago, they fled for safety in Gaza. Now they are being bombarded again by the descendants of those who have made them refugees in the first place.

Cruelty upon cruelty is the only way to describe the plight of the Palestinians who have been under siege since 2007. My family closed their businesses early and went into hiding in different places to increase the odds of their survival. Their  neighborhood in Beit Lahia has already been targeted by the Israeli Airforce. Children in these areas are unsure what to make of the strange times they have yet to understand.

The Israeli government will tell you that they are running surgical operations in Gaza and expect you to cheer them on. But by their actions, this Israeli government has only taken Hamas seriously and has never bothered to talk to the peace-minded Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. President Abbas is waiting for a phone call and all he gets is mockery and insults from various government officials in this Israeli coalition. Netanyahu’s government has marginalized both the Palestinian peace movement and his own. In essence, they have empowered the hawks at home and in Gaza.     

While many militants have been murdered by the Israeli military campaign on Gaza, some civilians have also been killed. Take four year old girl Anan Arafat, who has just been pulled out of the rubbles of her family home in Gaza. How the Israelis find themselves threatened by a four year old is a mystery to me.  If killing Palestinians gives some Israelis short-term peace of mind and comfort, I hate to think what any future peace agreements with such characters would look like.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

From Russia Today With Love

They did not tell me it will be on camera, I thought I was on the phone, and the camera looked not on. sorry for not looking to the camera.

Let's pray for Gaza

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

The GOP and The OMG Moment

So the Republican party is not having a great time at the moment, they are as toxic as they come. I honestly think much of the blame goes to the vocal firebrand politicians from the Tea Party. I do not think the new Americans are a lock for the DNC, they are not and they can move if they feel like it. It's just they have not been pandered to.

These folks had to call themselves patriots upfront. But what they say or do have little to do with patriotism. At first they scared the black voters and got them rallied up to bring them down. They called Hispanics name and wanted to dance on their graves. They insulted every and each Muslim and Arab and immigrants in this country and expected them to vote for them.

While there is a great majority of the Republican party who really make sense and appeal to the mainstream  those ones have gone into hiding due to the 2010 election results. The crazy ones would now come out of the dark and spread their poison. There's no reason why Senator Bob Bennett is not back in the US Senate, but they buried the poor guy.

And yes one more thing, the crazy wing of the party scared the hell out of each women on this country and made is sound like being raped as something to look forward to. Call this gross does not quite cut it anymore. And worse, the reasonable voices of the party were shy from criticizing those voices. So one insult after another, everyone who had an issue with the Tea Party stood in lines to help bring them down and they did.

Part of the Romney's strategy was the following, some people will not go to vote--not as excited about Obama this time around. He was right, but they were voting against the GOP and its crazy sounding politicians. Those voters, do not want stuff, they wan freedom, they came here for this freedom. While the tea party talks about freedom, the immigrants value it most--they know what it feels like to be denied it.

I do not think white people are a minority, they are not, but the crazy ones are so. While, America is changing, the white voters are still the bread and butter of every politician out there. The challenge for the GOP was not to scare people. On one front the GOP was not attracting new voters, and on the other hey were shedding so many of them so fast--young people and women combined with the minorities helped push the Obama ticket all the way to the top.

Romney had a lot of mistakes on his operation, but it's not that he was a weak candidate, he could have won, but those extremist GOP voices have undermined his chances. I have said this before even before this election, It's not that I do not agree with the Republican party--because I do on many issues, but it's that they do not make me feel welcome. So yes, I am glad to see the ten Tea Party congress members and senators out the door. Maybe they would help empower the voices of reason withing the Grand Old Party.

Myself and a lot of immigrants care about issues the GOP once led on, but giving that they just have lost the foreign policy argument, it's hard to see them owning the next White House. I know the GOP does not have to compromise its values, but if they do not figure out a way--they will soon be unable to win an national election. Many immigrants do not like abortion and they may not approve of gay marriage. But they also remember having to leave such places where others pushed their beliefs on them. To me, America is about both Freedom and Justice. Not one and not the other.  
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Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Gaza Crocodile Is In My Hometown

Folks in my town of Beit Lahia--north of the Gaza Strip have finally arrested one wild crocodile that manged to sneak into the local sewer. the local sewer is a huge one and it feeds from the various pipelines in the area. A friend of mine Ashraf Qahaman was one of the people who trapped the crocodile.

I am certain this poor animal was smuggled from Egypt, put in a zoo and then found its way to the Sewer system. But it could also be that its owner got sick of feeding it so, he or she got rid of it.

The local government that Hamas runs made a big deal out of this and trapped the crocodile, and manged to got the local and international press involved. I like how they wore gloves since the crocodile has been swimming in the sewer   

"The crocodile, which was 1.7 meters (5.5 feet) long, was captured alive after intense and difficult attempts following complaints from residents that their lives were in danger," it added.

An official in the area said the crocodile was transferred to the Gaza Zoo.

It's nice to hear one's town in the news, my town usually gets in the news if someone dies or some house gets demolished  A crocodile is happy news for most of us.
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Friday, November 02, 2012

How Do You Sum America In A Hundred Question

I have read that the test for becoming an American citizen has 100 question which each applicants has to study. The questions are in both US history and government, all applicants have to study up--those who are 65 or older can be exempted.

In the interview you are only to be asked 10 questions out of those one hundred. You would need to get at least six correct in order to move to the next round in the citizenship journey. The questions are pretty basic and most people would pass them, but the disturbing thing is when I read some American born do not know the answers to such questions.

But my biggest concern is with the complexity of America and its history. A 100 question barely scratch the surface of anything. And yes some figures and events are a topic of debate and discussion. White Americans and other Americans agree on certain events, but when opinions and perceptions are sometimes mistaken for facts. This is not to say, there is no consensus among Americans, it does exit and there are things are shape the unique American story. Many are proud to be Americans, but they may disagree on what that term means, hence you have two major parties with two different mindsets.

I do not know, but I sure would like to find out this Tuesday what Americans value the most.
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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Vs. Outdoors Crazy People

It's easy for people to say, hunker down at home during the storm  I think it makes sense not to put oneself in danger. Being selfish never helps make anyone better off especially if you have to be rescued. I tried to stay home but I get sick of the indoors, I do not know what it is, but I cannot lock myself in. If I was able to do that, I would move back to Gaza and live in such a confined space. Glad, no cop was in the street urging us to go home. This is America, you can be stupid if you want too--not on planes though.

But I also understand people who want to get out and be in the outdoors. While I did not do any crazy stunts, I tried to walk around the block and it was no walk in the park. The wind blew my umbrella way, my glasses had so much rain water on them and on top of that it was really cold. But the good news 7/11 was open, so hot chocolate it was. I did also watch a lot of movies and comedies, they came in handy. I did also work on my music blog which was something I am always up for.

So, do not lock me in, I had to take a walk, glad to have run into two other people who were walking their dogs. Luckily, we did not lose power, it did flicker once and the street lost power for a second. I could not see us going to work on Monday, but Tuesday was the end of it at least here in the District.  
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Thursday, October 25, 2012

DC's Dog Parks And The Easily Irritated People

Each morning like every morning  I walk to work. Thus, I pass by the famed 17 and S street dog park on the borders of the Dupont Circle and U Street area every day twice. Today was a little different, as I strolled down the street heading for work this morning, some guy who lives in a building across the street form the park was screaming from his bedroom---"Enough parking already!"

People in the park were giggling as few dogs gathered--one particular dog was being loud and obnoxious. There were attempted to stop the dog parking, 30 seconds later, the same voice comes, "Make It Stop Please!". I think it was funny to hear this kind of exchange in the early morning.

Seconds later the dog stops parking, and the same voice shouts "Thank You!" I wasn't the only one to notice, others including bystanders could not miss it. I consider myself as a dog friendly person which means, I do not pet them as they pass by, I only smile and stay out of their way.

I thought it was funny that people pay top dollars to live in that particular neighborhood, only to be awaken everyday by parking dogs. You might not hate dogs, but you may appreciate your sleep a little bit more than you appreciate those fuzzy creatures.  

I find it intersting that some people tolerate parking dogs, but when it comes to crying babies, they get easily worked up. Thus those people are often the first people to complain in a restaurant if a baby cries.    
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

This Fiscally Conservative Farce

Republicans like to lecture Americans and the rest of the world about the need to stop the "dependency culture." They are often right to make that call, it also pleases some people. I too think government doe waste a lot of resources. But my issue with such mentality is it often comes form someone who has not lead by example.

Correct me if I am wrong:

  1. Do you know one Republican old Tea Party politician who has turned down the health insurance bought to them with taxpayers money  I do not know a single person to walk away form this perk.
  2. Do you know one Republican, who tells the government, I do not need my pension. Do what you like with it. I do not know anybody that has done something like that.
  3. I find it also funny that Republicans tend to have the largest offices and staff in their congressional offices. They are not paying for those, the taxpayers are. They even use taxpayers to buy cookies takeout lunches.
So it's OK for them to get a government handout, but it's not OK for that while single mother, Mexican family or black family to get food stamps? I never liked people getting stuff for free, it does not work. But people who get such handouts do feel bad about it. Isn't time for fiscally conservative members of Congress to give back to taxpayers. Most of these people are rich anyway, have other jobs, and have a spouse that works--where they can get health insurance.

I am writing this not because I like to pick on Republicans, I just like people to be consistent. I find peace in the fact that America and its politicians are still far less corrupt that other places in the world. 
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Monday, October 22, 2012

"I Will Sue" My Friends Favorite Phrase

OK, she is not good friend, she is an acquaintance. But I have noticed that my friend who is African-American like to yell, "I will sue" whenever anything goes wrong. At the Frozen Yogurt place, as she was serving herself some hot chocolate, she spilled some on her hand, she yelled, "I will sue" This was my first time hearing say that.

Then at the drive through, they mixed up her order, and she yelled at the person serving her that she will sue them. She seems to restore to this talk whenever anything and I mean anything goes a way she has not anticipated. Which makes me wonder, if African-Americans use such threat to even the filed that they may see as rigged against them. It might be the the collective society gives sub-bar services to African Americans promoting them to make such threats to make things right or let others take them seriously.

I do not know, but my friend might be this way because of some experiences she have had. But then the guy, we bought the car from is also African American, as he was driving us back to our place, in a Narrow New York Avenue street, a truck almost hit him. When I told him this was "close", he looked at my with pride and said,  "Had he actually hit me, I would have owned the company he works for by the time I am done suing them"

This is not African American thing, people like to make things right, I know my friend June from Alpine Utah, once sued in small claims court a business for messing with her, she won her case. While,  luckily, I have never had to sue anybody. I find communication is the best appraoch to solving conflicts, mediations can also be used if needed.

I have also heard that other minorities like the legal system here--which is good. It's a tool to make things right for them. I say, stay out of trouble, be careful and give people the benefit of the doubt. If that fails and you are still wronged, then go for it--the lawsuit.

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

On Selective Faith, Muslim Rage And Spitting

I find is interesting that most people of faith are so quick to have faith when it comes to their our religion yet they are so quick to dismiss it when it comes to other people’s religion. I am talking about the mainstream, and not the vocal extreme that always makes it to the news editing room.

The Koran is filled with stories and examples of miracles and issues pertaining to faith, we as Muslims are thought many stories form the Jewish, the Christian  faith as well as other religions too. We are asked to believe them. Noah, Moses, Abraham  Joseph, Mary and many more. In my observations, Muslims tend not to be as selective about other faiths.

Sure many Jewish and Christians may think that Prophet Mohammed is fraud, but in his teachings they are both revered in Islam and so are the books they came with. Muslims take all the stories of the prophets--the ones we know of and the ones we are unaware of to be true. Most choose to believe miracles and blessings God has passed on to certain individuals even if they had to suspend the rules of physics.All Muslims believe in the Virgin birth, even though a lot of Christians question it.    

So, next time you see an angry Muslims projecting intolerance  know he does not understand his religion very well. A gloried movie trailer, an ad on the subway or Metro, a guy burning a copy of the Koran are nothing to be alarmed about. They should know that any insults and disrespect for Islam, its teachings and its main prophet is nothing more than a spit in the sea. It does nothing and changes next to zero!

Sami Yusuf - It's a Game
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Monday, October 08, 2012

Sorry Subway, But I Hate Your Sandwiches

Subway is one American chain I can care less for. I have tried few times and each time. I try to really like it, but I fail to fall in love with America's biggest sandwich chain. The food tastes bland, it lacks flavors and it almost always comes with an after taste in one's mouth. I did get sick once at college after eating Subway, but I do not hold that against them. Yet, I am still not too pleased with their subs. I am certain, they have a huge budget for adverting and they are everywhere, but nothing makeup for a sub-par taste.

At best it tastes like chewable cardboard. The bread lacks that distinct bread taste, and has a strange texture. The meat is anything but fresh--now we know they do not slice their meat in the back of the store but in some factory in Iowa. And the fresh produce are really fresh, but fresh does not always mean good tasting. It's if Subway has pledged to purchase only the freshest produce in exchange for a good taste. Mass production sacrifices the flavor of the food.

Then all those  lackluster combinations they make--the best thing about the sub is its creative marketing name, but the end product often disappoints. This is not an issue of healthy food--even the fattening versions of Subway creations disappoint in the taste test. I think they have also made it a lot more confusing with their different charts and prices for foot long, it's like gambling, you never know what to order.

I do not have any of those experiences at their rival stores--Quiznos and Arby's offer plenty of taste and freshness too without that after taste I only seem to get at the Subway. I am hardly the only one to write about this, just to be sure about it, I asked Roa to join me for a lunch in two different occasions, and every time she gets upset by the food we order from the Subway.  And the sad part is, neither of us are food snobs.     
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Thursday, October 04, 2012

50 Percent Republican 50 Percent Democrat

As I speak to many Arab-Americans in Washington, DC and beyond, I realized as a people we tend to agree with 50 percent of what the Republicans are saying and 50 percent with what the Democrats are saying. Yet, the majority of Arab-Americans tend to favor voting for the Democrats. For one reason, they feel there's space for them in the big tent. Whereas the Republicans do not let Arab-Americans, Hispanics and other groups welcome in their party.

In fact, many of the base of the Replication party can be hostile to members of those groups, which leads to many tense moments. The GOP does not do retail politics, they can only preach, I will lover your taxes, join me, but I ain't going to talk to you or pander to you.

Arabs are socially conservative and they hate to see anything go to waste, but in issues of foreign policy, Democrats get their votes. Even though Republicans tend to deliver better than Democrats on issues of importance to the community. I think the reason for this, GOP talks on issues like Lebanon/Palestine and Israel in terms of the Bible--for many of them it's a real estate guide. While Democrats tend to be more pragmatic.

The GOP really needs to try to pander to other communities, Arab-American also like their guns too, don't let that scare you, looking at you GOP.    
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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Israel, The Jewish People's Plan B

Well Jewish people of the world left and right might speak ill of Israel, criticize its actions and trash its government, but at the end of the day, Israel is their plan B. So, every Jewish soul out there can count on the State of Israel to be their home if all things go south in their respective countries. That's the plan all calling and I certainly can understand that.

Israel welcomes them with open arms, some cash and language and career training. I wish we Palestinians have a default plan B, a country that will always be there for us. Sure, you can say, go to one of the Arab countries. Most refugees live in those lands with not passport or travel documents some of them do not even get an ID.

While, we love them and we feel close to them, we are not their problem to fix. If you break it, you pay for it. Those Arab states did not break Palestine, Britten, the UN and the Jewish gangs did that. If a county like Egypt does not let me pass via their land to go home, do you expect them to host me as one of their own?

So the luxury of plan B is not afforded to the Palestinians whom continue to live in refuges camps around the Middle East. I know many Palestinians excel outside home, and make a home for themselves away from that area. But they have earned their stripes. They almost did not get any help to get their.

So it;s unfair to tell Palestinians to go look somewhere else for a home whiles most Jewish people have at least two homes and two passports.         


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Monday, September 24, 2012

The Muslim Brotherhood Vs. Jihadist Salafis, The Showdown

The Muslim Brotherhood  Vs. Jihadist Salafis, The Showdown

The anti-Islam film responsible for provoking protests across the Muslim world over the past two weeks was, to say the least, a bad idea. This is a project with a lot of vile motivations behind it that must be uncovered. At the same time, violence as a response to a film is certainly the wrong way for Muslims to react. These are truths that most people seem to accept by now.

However, what demands more discussion is the fact that this film has provided one more in a long list of excuses for governments in the Middle East to confront extremists at home. The political landscape in the Middle East has changed dramatically due to new leadership in many countries and the general political pressure brought to bear by widespread political change. Let’s look at some examples.

1.           On September 17th, 2012, Hamas handed down 4 convictions to Salafi-linked extremists responsible for killing Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni last year. Two of them will serve life; the third will be in jail for 10 years. They would have sent these men to be hanged had it not been for the Arrigoni family asking that the death penalty not to be imposed. "They will find justice with God and not with this court," a relative of the one of the defendants muttered.

2.           On the same day, the Tunisian forces surrounded the house of Saif Al Hussini, a Jihadi Salafi, in his stronghold mosque in downtown Tunis. The government accuses this Al Hussini of instigating the riots surrounding the American embassy and American school that lead to the deaths of 4 people. Al Hussini, who has traveled and worked in Morocco, London, and Pakistan, is defiant and continues to criticize the government. “I do not fear the threats made by the Ministry of the Interior; this government is a dictatorship that is picking fights with the Salafis”

3.           A day earlier in Egypt, the Minister of the Interior personally went down to the streets of Cairo and led the operation to clear the streets of protesters (mostly Salafis) who are seizing on the opportunity to draw global attention to their agenda. As a result, the American embassy in downtown Cairo has been placed inside of a kind of de facto safe zone. Close to 200 rioters and violent protesters have been rounded up. Other troublemakers have been chased off.

Governments in those three places are made up of Muslim Brotherhood linked/affiliated individuals. This is somehow the new model in the Middle East: put the moderates in charge and let them reason with the ultra-conservatives. A microcosm of this model has been working in places like Saudi Arabia, where religious scholars often sit down with terrorists and potential terrorists and attempt to reason with them and get them to change their violent ways. Many young people who have been “mislead” or “brainwashed” return home.  After all, if they fail, a drone will meet them wherever they are going.     

"Our manner of protesting should reflect sense and reason," said renowned cleric Youssef al-Qaradawi in his Friday sermon. The Egyptian-born and Qatar-based Al-Qaradawi has a global following thanks to Aljazeera and YouTube.  This is a very sobering call from the same figure who called for unrest in Egypt, Libya, and now Syria. He is not the only one to make such statements.  Scholars and imams in most Muslim countries have echoed the same remarks. An Indonesian Muslim scholar, Komaruddin Hidayat, noted that Muslims have the duty to oppose anything they deem offensive to their faith, but must "avoid using violence in expressing their objections." At the other end of the Muslim world in Nigeria, a top Islamic leader, Sheik Sani Yahaya Jingir, said violence never brings "any benefit to Islam."

I am watching this with mixed feelings. Certainly, Jihadist Salafis subscribe to extremist (and sometimes violent) ideas. They come across as angry, and they hold themselves above the rest. Thus, they give themselves the right to harass other people and try to force them to submit to their strict interpretation of Islam. The right thing to do, according to these folks, is whatever they tell you. They claim to know best, when in reality they know little. Such people tend to idolize their leaders and imams to a startling level. This is why a lot of Muslims rightfully fear the Jihadi Salafi mentality. These people shun weddings, entertainment, the human body, science and oftentimes education. They expect people not to make mistakes, and often quote the Quran and the Sunnah. But when they themselves sin, it should of course be understandable and forgiven. They are often dismissed and ostracized by societies, but for the most part they are not doing anything illegal. They may stop you in the street and give you a cassette tape or a book about the virtues of modesty. They are often mocked for their uncontrollable appetite for food and polygamy. And historically, most Muslims have questioned their sources of funding, which invite a whole host of conspiracy theories.

But now things are different for these Jihadist Salafi; they are no longer facing off against a secular out of touch government. Instead, they are answering to whole new governments courtesy of the Arab Spring. Their brothers in faith--as they call them-- are firmly in the driver’s seat; The Muslim Brotherhood is well acquainted with these Salafi groups. Jihadist Salafi can no longer claim that the government imprisoning them is run by godless goons. They are both on the same moral ground, except one has a mandate to govern and a country to run and the other wants to sing the blues about the nostalgic “glory days” of his/her religion. One wants to work with everyone and the other wants to force his views on the rest of us.

The Brotherhood are now in control, but the Salafis seem to think that the new governments of the Arab world will let them get away with these shenanigans instead of arresting them like the secular dictators did for years. Little did they know, the Muslim world’s two dominant strains of political Islam are now pitted against one another, and the whole world is watching.

It isn’t clear if this change –the installation of moderate political Islamists in seats of power in the Arab world-- will pay off in the long run, but it’s certainly worth a try. Until then, this will continue to be a debate between the party that wants to play ball and the party that wants to spoil the game for everyone.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Old Dominion Speedway In Manassas, The Good And The Bad

Finally, I get my chance to see a real NASCAR race. Roa and I ended up going to the Old Dominion Speedway in Manassas, Virginia. A 45 minutes drive from Washington, DC. I wish to go back again, as we had to leave earlier due to the very cold night and us wearing short sleeves.

The Weird Vibe

  1. The website for the speedway is outdated and needs a complete redesign. It did not give me a good vice about this adventure.
  2. The seats are made out of good and they seem to be 60 years old--the year the track was originally founded. They are OK, but you cannot help but be a bit worried.  
  3. A local church had volunteers talking to people about "changing their lives" and "Jesus", they offered to give me a free book too.
  4. It's fun to see crashes and people being out in danger. 
  5. Really long lines at the food place and it seems to lack organization. Lines cross each other and
  6. Bathrooms do the job, but nothing fancy. Men stall are kind of a communal experiences--no individual stalls. 
  7. I wish the track was better at getting people to bring food to the seating area. I would pay a little bit more to avoid the line. This is an area that can bring extra cash.  

The Good Stuff
  1. There is plenty of parking, no worries there. We had good parking karma
  2. You will actually find tourists coming to enjoy this experience--Asians, Indians and few Muslims also attend this world famous sport. 
  3. It's very easy to get into the game and cheer for your favorite race. No need for complex rules and detailed scoring systems. 
  4. Food is cheap and there's plenty of it.
  5. Lots of smoking all around--I get that we are in Virginia
  6. Everyone is friendly and super nice. They actually smile.  
  7. Jeans is what everyone at the tracks wears. Nobody seems to try to outdo the other, simple look.
  8. Big families and lots of kids attending and providing free often lovable commentary.     
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Saturday, September 15, 2012

anti-Islam movie ‘weirdest movie scam of all time’

This Anti-Islam movie gets weirder and weirder. Here's a great video reporting on this movie, a person that was actually in the theater and saw the movie along with just 10 people. The promotional material is really strange as it plays like it's pro Islam, only to show a movie that's blatantly anti-Islam.

This is not the one thing weird about this film, watch the video to see more. The people who made the movie are a weird bunch who wanted to stir trouble and provoke Muslims. Cenk Uygur from The Young Turks on Current TV reports

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Are The Muslims Really Forcing Their Way Of Life On The World?

Listening to NPR as my wife drove us to the grocery store, a caller calls in and says, Muslims are the only ones to blame for the murders; they are trying to force their way on us"

While, I do agree with the caller's first statement, it's his second that I take issue with. Here,s why:

If anything, Muslims have little impact on the life of an average American. On the other hand, America (or someone in America) makes money every time, a Muslim guzzles a soft drink; a bag of Doritos; washed his/her hair with Pert Plus. Every time, they go to the movies; every time they shave; every time they sport some cool sneakers; ever time, they use Google and Facebook. These are all American things, they are part of the American narrative and they have been forced (without violence) on many people around the world. The average American would be mistaken to think that Arabs/Muslims are forcing their way on America.

They are merely telling you, "Stop offending my, stop insulting my religion". It's all a misunderstanding. America fails to see how serious people are about their religion, they are no longer able to process that. Arabs/Muslims do not fully understand the freedom of speech and its almost sacred position. Some Muslims, fail to see that a crappy film made in California, has nothing to do the pop in the Vatican. Otherwise, they would never ask him to apologize for the film that I am certain he has no idea about.

Being anti-religion is a virtue (or a vice) that came in from the West. The Muslims can also claim, that the West is forcing their way of life on them. Mainstream Muslims almost never engage in any act that disrespect or violate any religion. Most scholars in Muslim countries with a stable economy have sobering messages that asked people to chill out. In poor countries, no such restrains exist.

Violence is wrong, the mob are tainting Islam and the message of Mohammad (peace be upon him). Yes, the filmmaker is an idiot, but we are the bigger fools here. Sorry, but you just do not murder people. Spreading fear is against the teaching is Islam; the sanctity of life is far more important than the holy Kaaba. 

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Anti Islam Film "Innocence of Muslims" Kills People

For starter, I wish we Muslims do not get worked up as much about things that are offensive to us. This rage can be used against us and it certainly can be used to harm others among us. If we get upset every time a moron makes a vile movie about Islam, draws a cartoon of the prophet, or says dumb things, we are in trouble. Because certain people will use that to get us to react in a certain way to show others that we are not civilized. But this is what we have to deal with. We should not kill people even if we do not like them, this should be our attitude.

The teaser movie "Innocence of Muslims", depicts Muhammad as a fraud and a womanizer. that has been making the rounds on the internet had 54 actors in and and close to 50 people behind the camera it cost 5 million dollars to make. We are also being told that it was financed by a 100 Jewish funders. The director of the film is an Israeli who lives in California and now is in hiding. He made this movie despite the facts he knows what will happen. He now has blood on his hands. Why did he release the movie now?

Now this is where my opinion kicks in, Obama is trying to get elected and he is having to answer a lot of questions. Now he has to explain to the American people about the death of American diplomats in Libya and trouble in Egypt. It will not make things easier for him. If anything many ultraconservative Israelis seem not like him and are more interested in seeing him gone. The preview was also released on the 11th anniversary of 9/11.

It seems the director wants to see this get worse, he is adding gasoline to the fire....with statements like "Islam is a cancer" and 100 Jewish people funded my project. I think most Jewish people are smart enough not to put a dime for such a project. And then this is this annoying Coptic activists lawyer who has been attached to the film. He is a disgrace to his people and he is making his life much worse for his peers. He is not helping them. For this reason, more than a 130 Coptic group have spoken out against this film and the activist.

The movie goes out of its way to insult Islam and the prophet. The film has nothing to say about Islam and rather an assortment of ill informed and vile interpretations of events that taken place 1500 years ago. The crew had the right to make a movie about this, I also have the right to scream fire in a packed movie theater or tell the bus people there's a bomb. This is all free speech, but we all self censor our speech for the betterment of everyone. Aside from the obvious white washing where the cast is largely made out of white actors, this movie has a bad taste and no artistic integrity.

I have said before, the West should not fear weak Muslims nor strong ones, they should only fear those who feel disrespected. It's then when people feel vulnerable and their acts do not always make sense. I hope the film crew are feeling extra American today as they watch their country men murdered by angry mob upset with a movie they made to advance their lunatic agenda.

On a personal note, a cousin of mine was murdered (and his body was disrespected) by a mob in June 2007 in Gaza. I am not the one to approve of mob justice.  

Update: The American patriots should think abut how one Israeli filmmaker is making the world is more dangerous place for Americans. It only takes on idiot to rally up the easily offended religious mobs. Why did he chose America, not Israel as a place to make his vile movie?

Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman on US Embassy protests
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Friday, September 07, 2012

The Free Will And Stupid Stuff Religious People Do

I have always had issue with government or entities forcing religion on people. If God wanted to coerce people into believing, no one else can do a better job than he can. But he gave us all a choice--a Free Will. This free will is too much for certain people to understand so in their attempt to try to get everyone to be "religious" they step on this right.

When we force our way of life on people, we lose so much. In my opinion this attitude poisons the well. Robbing people's soul helps no one. God does not want a bunch of zombies worshiping him because they have been coerced to doing so.

Examples that rattle me:

  1. Iran is a conservative country by many measures, Iranians away from their country open the best bars and night clubs--just go to LA and see for yourself.
  2. Saudis live in an ultraconservative Kingdom where if you do not show your religion, they will force you to live up to their standards. Most--not all Saudis come to America and London, they give strip clubs, night clubs and escorts services a lot of business.
  3. My American Christian things would not do or share certain activities with their parents or peers out of fear of being judged or condemned. Drinking energy drinks is one example, another is smoking hookah and having a gay roommate.
  4. Hindus would rather marry someone from their own religion who does not fit them nor fits their lifestyle for no good reason. That's why the government in 1955 had to step in and pass the marriage act.   
  5. Government in Gaza (Hamas) and certain Churches tend to give food to the needy only if they show up to prayer and take up the faith.      

We cannot outdo one another in silly and ceremonial religious rituals. We should only try to do one another in lifting other people up, how much we can do for other people, and not how long is our prayer. That's why I have always found myself gravitating around people who live around their own community yet chose to uphold their religion. Muslims in North America have choices yet they stick to their religion. I salute Christians living in Muslim countries.   
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Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Three Different Phases Of Islamic States

I have been studying up on my history and found myself studying a book about the Muslims states and the history of Islam and governance. We all now see Islamic law leaning politicians winning elections and preparing themselves to rule over countries for the first time.  

I have came to a conclusion about the three different phases a Muslim State goes through
  1. The Inception Stage; we love everyone, everybody is welcome and they can worship as they wish. Fasting with the Jews of Arabia on Yom Kippur.  This is the good phase where we see a hug fist and tolerances high. This is when people wanted to join the religion based on their heart not some calculation. The Muslims were learning the principles of the religion--they were weak and poor but had a lot of faith in what to come.   
  2. The Vulnerable Stage, the Muslims had to live in this one after they were defeated in the battle of Ohod. They lost really bad during this war after the other army lured the archers to collect the spoil of war before the war has ended.  In the aftermath, revenge was the normal. Anyone who has mocked Muslim state or disrespect had his head cut off. They really had to scare off people so that they can buy time tell they make a comeback. At this stage many of the common rules do not apply as people are emotional than logical. Think Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan 
  3. The Mighty State: Islam prevailed, people have submitted and joined the religion, no need for violence or senseless murder, people know you are in charge. This phase started as the Muslims walked into Mecca and told their enemies, stay in your home and you will not be fought, you are safe and so is your property and money. It's in this stage where forgiveness and the real civilization took hold. Universities and education were made a priority.  The States would defend itself and fight back those who fight them. It was at this stage, when Arabs started translating the literature work of the rest of the world to learn from them. Think Turkey, Indonesia
This is not unique to Muslims, you do not see much violence and senseless murder in a strong and well developed country. But then, if you dare to cross one of those mighty countries of today's world, you will hear the answer withing minutes. I know the States know this very well, the moment something about the mishandling for the Koran or an inappropriate quote about Islam comes out--they try to make it right in a bid not to come across as someone who belittles the religion of Islam or its figures. 

While I have tremendous disagreement with some of the Salafi groups, I happen to agree with them on few things. For example, I have read that in Tunisia they have tore down a number of shrines where some Muslims go to worship by the graveside of some righteous person. Many got upset, but not me....God does not need a middle man to answer your prayer, he hears you. No need to go visit the grave of some guy to ask him to pray on your behald, this is bullshit. By the same token I disagree with those who forget that there are no sainthood in Islam.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Afghanistan Solution, How To Exit In Style

It's clear to me that the more extreme elements in the Afghan society are not slowing down and they are certainly not letting others enjoy their life or even leave them in peace. There is certainly too much bloodshed, guns and people with agendas. Again, if this is the people of Afghanistan fighting off an occupation I will stand with them, but they are also damaging their own people and destroying their own economy.

I say, it's time for action, the military cannot win this--there is nothing to bomb really. And the mountainous region is no help either. I would suggest, evacuate all females from the country and their little kids with them. Leave the men behind to kill one another. If the goal is to give women freedom, this way you do that.

Again this cannot be optional thing, you need to evacuate women form Afghanistan, keep them separate from the men who might force them or intimidate them. If the women chose to go back to be with their husbands, they can do that and you should wish them well.

But those violent elements in the society would also learn a lesson without women, their life is shitty and that might teach them a lesson in women rights. If women are really suffering, they would take this offer and make a new life for themselves in a place of their choosing. Most countries would welcome women refugees--it's the men who cause trouble.

This would be cheaper solution than keeping armies and weapons from a dozen nations. This would give Afghanistan a choice, they can start over and get away from all the abuses (real or perceived). I think about 10 million women  would take up the offer. Iran, the Gulf, Canada, America should absorb these ladies in. This way the bleeding hearts can celebrate, the conservatives, can cheer the cuts in military spending and nation building--less taxes.

The men meanwhile, will keep fighting, or dabble into homosexuality--which by many religious accounts can bring destruction upon a nation. So let the extremists destroy bring destruction upon themselves. Otherwise, the leaders of the free world would have to cut their losses and be stuck in Afghanistan forever.       

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The One Way To Wake Me Up According To My Wife

True Story....

When I am tired, I dose off on the bed, I get in heavy sleep mode, and Roa knows that nothing can wake me up. That happened few days ago, I was exhausted, and was lacking in sleep. I slept while watching a comedy with her.

She let me sleep for an hour, but then she would not let me sleep early...and it's Ramadan, if you can eat, eat and do not sleep. So in order to wake me up...she used a fool proof trick. I learned this after I have gotten married.

It turn out no mater how tired I am, if I spot a plate of sliced up watermelons and a fork next to them, I will wake up, this is the bait Roa uses to get me back from my deep sleep. I have embraced it too. That's why Roa always makes sure, we got plety of watermelon--at least during the summer season.

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Me, Myself and My Muslim Eid

The Muslim holiday of Eid is almost upon us (this Sunday by most accounts), marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims abstain from many things including food and drinks from dawn to sunset. Eid is the day we no longer have to fast and we can feast upon whatever the heart desires. It’s a day where many Muslims get stomach aches from pigging out. I learned this the hard way a few years ago on my first Eid at home after being away for so long. The next day I fell ill due to eating lots of candy, desserts and nuts during my visits with family and friends.

I realize that many of the Muslim countries and communities around the globe have their own rituals to celebrate the day. The biggest winner on this day of celebration are the kids who extort cash and gifts from the adults in the family, most notably their parents. It’s a great day to be a kid as you get to buy pretty much whatever you like and eat all the candy and street food you can find.

I recall not going to sleep on the eve of Eid as the mosques go crazy with their microphone praying and wishing everyone a happy holiday. But that’s not why I would not go to sleep, it’s just that we are excited for this day to come. We would put our new clothes next to our beds and wake up first thing in the AM. We would break into our parents’ bedroom, kiss their hands looking cute and wait for them to give us our cut. This became an issue for many countries, as there would be a shortage of smaller bills and coins because everyone wants change to hand out to people. As kids, the last thing we wanted to hear from our parents was “I will you give you your cash gift once I have change.” Instead we would offer to go break the money for them and we would do just that.

I lived part of my childhood in Dubai, and on the day of the Eid we would wear our new clothes--the ones we bought just a few days prior, and then accompany our parents (mostly our dad) to the mosque. Everyone looked so happy and so shiny on this day, and yes, everyone gets a new pair of shoes, too. Aside from getting cash or (عيدية) from our parents, in Dubai it was common for strangers to offer you gifts, cash and candy on that day. Some would even walk around the rich neighborhood and knock on doors, asking for something. The streets were decorated, and the shops were well stocked with toys and anything that kids like.

At the mosque, complete strangers would shake your hand and give you hugs; people were joyous. I remember being impressed by the Pakistani and African Muslims who would wear their brightly-colored national dresses on this day--something I still see here in the States, too. Afterward, everyone would head home where they would partake of a feast--mostly containing salty food. In Egypt and many Arab countries they would consume Feisikh (grey mullet left out to putrefy, then salted and left to pickle for several months). I was not a fan, but my mom would never know it.

This is the one day when as a kid, you get to go through your wish list and pick out something nice for yourself. Some mothers try to reason with their kids and persuade them to let mommy hold that money for them--not me. I remember in every Arab country boys would buy kites, trucks and swords. But the most popular boy toy was a plastic gun, either water or firecracker. We would organize games where we’d play off against the guys two streets down from our homes. Needless to say, while boys are rolling in the dirt and running around, girls are looking snazzy with those fancy purses and popular dolls. In Dubai, the local politician would have an open house where people would come to meet and greet--they could also pick up a generous gift on their way out.

Most countries release some inmates on this day to have them be with their families, a nice gesture that most Muslim countries do around the holidays. TV would show the best movies and the best music videos all day in the hopes you would get home and watch their ads. Families would also visit with each other and bring sweets and sometimes raw meat.

Eid stops to be fun for boys who are in their early teens, as at that point people start to treat you as a grown man and not give you a cash gift. Lucky for the ladies, they will always get those cash gifts--people are very religious about this. Brothers, fathers, and uncles who are too poor to give out cash gifts still visit their female relatives and strive not to come empty-handed.

At one point when I realized I could no longer receive cash gifts, I figured out another way to make money. I started a toy stand where I would make money selling toys for boys and girls around town. I did well that day, even though I did not get to rest, but the money was worth it and I found a way to be busy on this day.

In Dubai we did not have family, but when we relocated to Gaza, the family came into the picture and we would get more cash gifts--also my dad had to give a lot more than he used to in Dubai. My lovely grandparents were the most generous with us and their gift to us meant a lot more. We liked their teasing and jokes about us--of course we would still kiss their hands and place it on our forehead. A few things make Eid different in Gaza: for starters, there seems to be a truce between the Occupation and the Palestinians on this day. It’s something that most appreciate, though the Israelis have used that day to sneakily abduct or assassinate people whom they do not like. Another thing is the funeral homes, where if a family has seen the passing of a family member it has an open house where people can swing by to visit with those in mourning. At the time, there were not too many places one could go in Gaza for Eid. You could either go to the beach or the Gaza business district and buy a liver and onion sandwich for about 25 cents. Yet somehow, family made all the difference and our days of celebrations were fun filled even in this hot spot. Regardless of where one lives, it’s always good to have a good time.
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Monday, August 06, 2012

Bizarre! Arabic Wedding Invitations/Announcements

A friend of mine asked me this: Do you guys--Palestinians send wedding invitation/announcements?

I said yes, but we do not include a photo. It turn out that including a photo with the wedding announcement has not gone mainstream here.

But I had one thing to share with my friend, some wedding invitations back home, they do not include the name of the bride. While the great majority do, a sizable number of people chooses to block the name of the bride place is with a flower.

So you will have the father of the groom and under it, the name of the groom, then next to them the name of the father of the bride and the name of his daughter is substituted it with a flower. This is not just the case with few families, many opt out for this practice in Jordan and most those Bedouin communities.

I know this is odd, it makes be women names are so shameful and for these people they are part of the national security. I think this is not only dated, it goes against nature and kills the joy of seeing the name of the bride on something other than her birth certificate.

A flower says, that our girl is too delicate to have a name and we think you guys are not worthy of knowing her fine name. It's also an insult to the guy who is not marrying a real person, but rather a flower. He spends the rest of his life sniffing its scent. This is about distrust in the good in people, like if I know the name of your gal, then I will use it in a disrespectful manner. Which goes to speak about this male dominant mentality.

I think people who do it ought to be ashamed of themselves. There's nothing embarrassing a bout the name of a woman. And I am hardly the only one who sees it this way. 
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