The Revolutionary Cannot Speak

We were taught that the sun does not always shine
We were taught
Thousands mirrors worth a truthful face

We tried to unlearn, those many lines our memory cannot forsake
The revolution, we repeated, the revolution is the solution
A task we may never undertake

Our revolution is pure, and it is not White
It’s grounded and rooted in our sinful eyes

We are the people
We are the words of wisdom
Your books and think-tanks so eloquently did not foresee

The power lies in people
The Black Palestinian painfully teaches us

Why do I feel that I’ll soon be the last Syrian alive
40, 000 corpses can never lie
They lay underneath our sacred soil
They haunt us in protests
Occupy our banners
and online profiles

A burden I cannot bear
So like others, I long for the day I join the Shuhada

I cannot be the last Syrian alive
I cannot be the Syrian who left, and still alive

You think “critically” of our raw revolution, you say
You think and cite our savagery with references of youtube videos
You are as powerful as the states you oppose
States silence us with machine guns
They send us sleepless killers in black suits
States fight among each other
We have learned the drill

But you, like the White, speak on behalf of us
You are the intellectual whose privileged voice silenced our indigenous voices
You’re no friend of mine
The leftist, feminist and the pro Palestinian activist
Are names of spaces you proudly occupy
To me, they’re just another privileged class
You made it possible to become my enemy

Yes, I have said the word “enemy”
And I would say it in the class you teach
Below the many articles you publish
Where you could tell the world how my struggle isn’t consistent with yours

What is your struggle, I wonder
When you’re the diasporic subject and I am the postcolonial
I stand in front of systems, machines and propaganda
In my besieged land

Your battle has become my dream of freedom
Your intellect has become another bullet in my chest
A “friendly fire,” I do not call it

I am being silenced by your pen

The revolutionary cannot speak
She may never speak for years to come
She writes in her mother tongue
Speaks folky words and songs your memory can no longer grasp
The revolutionary speaks to her gender-less comrades
And you
The powerful male intellectual
You are not one.

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#KolenaLaila: From a Radical Feminist to a Liberal: You Suck

Source Belief Net

Ever since my “teenage-hood” days, I followed the assumption that befriending writers, filmmakers, sculptures and those who’re interested in arts and revolutionary books are necessarily people with free minds, and hence, are people who won’t disrespect me as a female or the way I chose to live my life. I was not only wrong, I was also simplistic.

Today, large number of these people who used to be my friends have become/are becoming my enemies, for they, as the masses, they begin their sentences with the same line a lot of sexist people do: “A woman should/shouldn’t be/do bla bla bla….”.

First I want to give you examples of how liberal women and men prove to be sexists as they’re trying to be free from “conservative” values. Some of these people consider themselves feminists, progressives, thinkers, and activists, pro women and LGTBQ rights.

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كلنا ليلى في سوريا #KolenaLaila

فكرة “كلنا ليلى”

انطلقتْ فكرة “كلنا ليلى” عام 2006 بمبادرة مدوِّنة مصرية باسم “لستُ أدري” بالإضافة الى العديد من المدوّنين في العالم العربي. و تتلخص فكرتها في دعوة المدونين العرب إلى التعبير عن آرائهم ومشاهداتهم فيما يتعلق بوضع المرأة العربية بكل حرية وصراحة، خاصة في ظل التأثير المتصاعد للإعلام الجديد على مجتمعاتنا متمثلاً في المدونات. وقد رأينا ذلك الأثر في الأعوام الماضية حيث اهتمت صحف ووسائل إعلامية عدة بالمبادرة منها الجزيرة والبي بي سي وصحيفة المصري اليوم والدستور وغيرهم . هدفنا من هذه الحملة المساهمة في إثراء الحوار حول حياتنا الإجتماعية العربية وما يتخللها من نجاحات أو إخفاقات. ونؤكد أن الفكرة ليست للترويج لثقافة أو قيم بعينها، ولكنها دعوة لنقد ومراجعة سلوكياتنا اليومية برغبة حقيقية في التغيير. ندعوك للمشاركة معنا سواء كنت ممن يعتقدون أن مجتمعاتنا محافظة إلى حدٍّ كبير، وتُعطي الأفضلية للرجل وتقلل من شأن المرأة وحريتها، أو كنت ممن يؤمنون أن مجتمعاتنا منفتحة وأنها أعطت المرأة نصيبها من الحقوق بما يكفي.

“كلنا ليلى” اليوم

فى عامنا هذا تهتم “كلنا ليلى” بالكشف عن قصص التحدي والتغيير والمحاولة عاشتها ليلى. نهتم أن نعرف رحلة نجاح المرأة في بلادنا، مازاد عليها وما غاب وما نطمح أن تكون عليه أحلامها ومساحتها من الواقع.. ومحاولتها لمستقبل أفضل.

كيفية المشاركة:

المشاركة متاحة ومفتوحة للجميع نساءً ورجالاً، وللجميع مطلق الحرية في إبداء الرأي بأي من وسائل التعبير المتاحة: مقال، فكرة، صورة، تصميم، قصة ، أو أي شكل آخر. ويمكنك كذلك أن تختار بين النشر في مدونتك الخاصة أو النشر في المدونة الرئيسية للحملة. ليست هناك أية قيود سواء على الموضوعات أو الأفكار المطروحة، أو اللغة المستخدمة (رغم تفضيلنا للغة العربية لتكون اللغة الرسمية للمبادرة)، كما يمكن للمشاركة أن تكون مكتوبة أو مسموعة أو مرئية. كل ذلك مرحبٌ به ما دام صاحبه مؤمناً به ومسئولاً بشكل شخصي عن الدفاع عن آرائه أمام وجهات النظر المضادة ومستعداً كذلك لتغييرها إن اقتنع بأوجه القصور فيه.

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Iraq's New Surge: Gay Killings

Excellent article on the killings of gays in Iraq written by Rasha Moumneh appeared yesterday on Foreign Policy:

Western attention has always focused primarily on sectarian attacks in Iraq. Yet al-Sadr’s militia and its counterparts in countless neighborhoods and towns have long had other targets in their cross hairs. These men claim to bear the banners of religion and morality, defending against any transgressors. They paint themselves as the caretakers of tradition, culture, and national authenticity — which often means keeping women, as well as men, in their rigidly enforced traditional roles. Ironically, they sell their violence as a means of security: Amid the total upheaval of Iraqi society over the last eight years, many people regard any relaxing of gender roles as a threat to public order, undermining patriarchal power. And since the coalition forces failed to provide security after the invasion, such cultural conservatives have moved in to fill the role. Many aimless, unemployed advocates of rigid traditionalism have taken up the task with their guns.

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Documentary on "Crimes of Honor" in Occupied Palestine-AR (EN Subtitles)

Today I have discovered a new bloggeress from Syria, her name is Hanadi and her blog seems promising. She posted a documentary on “crimes of honor” in occupied Palestine, and it tells the stories of four women accused of bringing shame to their families.

Check Hanadi’s blog here and watch the documentary here.

Below are the details of the documentary as appeared on Culture Unplugged website:

Maria’s Grotto : Director: Buthina Canaan Khoury | Genre: Documentary | Produced In: 2007

Synopsis: A gripping portrait of women, whose lives were dictated by a moral code, Maria’s Grotto is a painful true film about the issue of honor killings in Palestine. Khoury explores the issue through the stories of four women: one is wrongly accused of dishonoring her family and then murdered; the second dies after being forced by her brothers to swallow poison; the third survives repeated stabbings inflicted by her brother; and the fourth is a Hip-hop singer who dares speak out about honor killings, and faces death threats. Through these stories, Khoury exposes the magnitude of honor killings in Palestine.

Bloggers Against "Crimes of Honor"

They have always been.

As far as I know, the first Syrian blogger who have posted her opposition to “honor killings” is Rima Msabbani, a blogger who’s dear to my heart and who rarely blogs. She and a fellow blogger, Shady Zaiat, were the first to put a widget on their blogs sidebar that denounces article 548 from the Syrian penal code which states that any male relative who kills a girl for the sake of “honor” would only be sentenced to six months. Opposers to article 548 believe that the reason why girls are being killed in cold blood is exactly because the murderers know they can get away with it in few months.

Syrian officials have come to realize that the number of “honor killings” in Syria is escalating, so last year the government sponsored and organized the First National Meeting on “honor crimes” out of which the organizers agreed on final recommendations approved by the religious clerics present:

“Tighten the penalty for adultery for men and women equally, to disseminate Fatwas prohibiting “crimes of honor”, and to prevent the murderers to take advantage of a “moral” excuse or of the mitigating punishment. Reported on Syria News.

وشهد العام الماضي انعقاد الملتقى الوطني الأول حول جرائم الشرف برعاية حكومية حيث دعت التوصيات الختامية التي وافق عليها رجال الدين الحاضرين دون تحفظ إلى “تشديد عقوبة الزنا للرجل والمرأة على قدم المساواة، وتعميم فتاوى تحرم ارتكاب جرائم الشرف، ومنع استفادة مرتكبيها من العذر المحلل أو السبب المخفف للعقاب”.

ووفق أرقام قدمها ممثل إدارة الأمن الجنائي في الملتقى فإن عدد الجرائم التي وقعت في سورية بدافع الشرف وصلت إلى 38 جريمة من أصل 533 جريمة قتل حصلت في العام 2007 .

ووصلت جرائم الشرف حتى الشهر الثامن من العام الماضي إلى 29 جريمة شرف, وسجلت محافظة إدلب أعلى نسبة من جرائم الشرف بواقع 22% ثم محافظة حلب بـ 15%.

“According to figures provided by the representative of the Criminal Security Department in the First National Meeting, the number of crimes of honor that took place in Syria reached to 38 out of 533 murder crimes occurred in 2007.

Whereas 29 honor killings were documented last year 2008 up to August.  Idlib province recorded the highest proportion of crimes of honor to 22%, then the province of Aleppo to 15%.

Another report published on Syria News said that Syria is ranked the fifth in the world with regards to the so-called “honor crimes”.

One influential website that has been documenting the cases of “honor crimes” in Syria for the past six years is Syria Women website. The owner of the website is Bassam Al Kadi and he has initiated a petition that calls for the abolishment of article 548 of Syrian penal code. 24 Syrian websites and human rights organizations so far have joined Al Kadi’s battle against the legalization of honor crimes in Syria.

But that’s not all, Bloggers throughout this region have similar disgust to “honor killings” as well as to legalizing it.

It started with the Jordanian blogger Kinzi, who have written an email to Jordan Times to express her “disgust” of how murderers are getting away with their murder:

I urge all my friends to write to the Jordan Times jotimes@jpf.com.jo expressing their disgust at the way these murderers of innocent women are just allowed to go free (or have a short prison sentence) under ‘the fit of fury’ law and the allowing of the dropping of charges because the offender is part of the same family as the victim. The following opinion piece by Nermeen in today’s Jordan Times is excellent.

http://www.jordantimes.com/?news=15267

Several Bloggers, Jordanians, Syrians and a Canadian, followed Kinzi’s appeal and wrote on their opposition and thoughts on “honor crimes”.

Qwaider from Jordan, is working on creating a database for the victims of “honor crimes” occured around the world in honor of their memory:

What do all the honor murderers try to accomplish with murder? To wipe out the shame and the name of their victims from history. Right?

Here’s a good way we, as a society, help thwart that goal. Let’s all keep their memory alive!

Do you know the name of an honor murder victim? From anywhere in the world? Well, here’s your chance to avenge her tormented soul.

Isobel, a blogger from Canada, followed Kinzi’s call and urged other bloggers to do the same:

“[A] man and his two sons are charged with beating to death the daughter for leaving the house in make up and talking to a strange man…”. (International Herald Tribune) It wasn’t long ago (2007) that a similar tragedy happened here in Canada to 16-year-old Aqsa Parvez who was strangled to death for refusing to wear the hijab. Each time I ask myself, how can anyone kill their own daughter/sister over the family honour…which in itself is a frightening order of priority. Killing your own child does not soil the family rep but a young woman wearing makeup does?

And on the Syrian blogsphere, Abu Fares posted an insightful post mostly on the social structure of Syrian society and problems surrounding it:

Not a single monotheist religion advocated banishing slavery! Just think of this notion for a minute. God spoke to us three times (at least) in this part of the world. Three times… and he never told us that slavery is ungodly. Before we call for political reform we’d better get indoors, within the dank walls of our own homes and rummage around for rot, pests and rodents in our basements, in the core of our foundations.

Last but not the least, another Syrian blogger, Kinan Jarjous, wrote a touching short story called “Why Did I Kill My Sister?” in which he has indeed “hit the nail on the head” as one commenter said:

What happened to my family honor now? The daughter dead, the son in jail? What happened to my image… am I a hero now? Or a guy from prison? When I get released… will I marry? Who will marry me? A monster who kills women?

I should have checked if the guy was her friend’s relative. I should have checked it was all about homework.

The term “crimes of honor” in the Arab-speaking world is usually associated with murdering girls who supposedly have given away their virginity. In this context, Honor then is associated with the tradition of virginity. However, girls in this region are not being killed for the sake of “honor” only when a father, brother or a male relative is suspicious of a girl’s sexual activities, but also when she runs away and marries someone from another sect or another religion, which to the murderers, they’re doing so to “clean” or “purify” the family’s “honor” from shame. So notice, whether she’s having sex prior to marriage or not, a girl is threatened to be killed only because she isn’t following the social norm.

While the latter case of honor murder is embedded with sectarianism, the motivation to kill here is not in my opinion due to sectarianism, but rather to to the “image” of the family within the social structure and system of traditions and habits. This point is explicit in Kinan’s story where the brother killed his sister after he went to the shop to buy a magazine and he was very worried what the owner would think of him.

And it’s also a question of power, which Kinan also rightly referred to in his story: the brother needs to look like he’s in control of his sister, he needs to look like a “man”. Manhood in this region is about power over women, the more powerful and control you are of women in your family the more of a man you are. And society does celebrate this notion.

I think sectarianism has little to do with “honor killings” because all sects and religions in this region have a history of killing their daughters when they decide to escape the social rules. So this is not about religion or sect as much as it is about the constructed social structure in which a male and female have certain sacred roles to fill. This social system is hierarchal: men socially, economically and legally are the “defenders”, “protectors” and “guardians” of women. Men have set the norm and women who choose to flee it are considered “whores”, and in some cases these women get killed.

“Honor killing” is not simply about girls having sex or not, but about a girl who made a decision to live by her own rules away from the community or society she lives in. It’s a question of authority and autonomy and those who refused to be submissive to authorial people are being killed or locked in their houses.

This conflict is not between men and women, but between authorial people and autonomous people.  What people call “sexism” is nothing but a social system, and gender authority.

"Curing" Lesbians by Raping Them

An article published on the Guardian on Thursday 12 March reveals that one of the leading football female players has been raped and stabbed 25 times for being a Lesbian:

The partially clothed body of Eudy Simelane, former star of South Africa’s acclaimed Banyana Banyana national female football squad, was found in a creek in a park in Kwa Thema, on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Simelane had been gang-raped and brutally beaten before being stabbed 25 times in the face, chest and legs. As well as being one of South Africa’s best-known female footballers, Simelane was a voracious equality rights campaigner and one of the first women to live openly as a lesbian in Kwa Thema… Human rights campaigners say it is characterised by what they call “corrective rape” committed by men behind the guise of trying to “cure” lesbians of their sexual orientation.

It is important to see that precisely because she’s open as a Lesbian and activist that she was subjected to this “corrective” criminal reaction in her society. Like in Lebanon, where gays and Lesbians have their NGOs, bars and night clubs mostly in Beirut and some are openly activists for their rights that we heard of  two gay couple had been subjected to similar criminal reaction only this time by those who were supposed to protect the law.

Societies will never change if things kept in the secret, if things remain within the “political correct” constructed formula. While it is very difficult to be open as a gay person, it is very important to do so in order for societies to process this radical change in its structure even if by doing so you’ll be under serious attack.

In Syria there has been a sexual abuse by Shahabandar police station where police officers were harassing and mocking a transsexual person, male body with female sexual organs. They took off his clothes and touched him sexually and took pictures and videos of him. This harassment has been documented and videoed via cellphone that was distributed all over Damascus via bluetooth. My father who works in the Shahabandar area told me that the shops’ owners neighboring the police station heard a female voice shouting for help from within the station and hence they all went there to stop what they assumed to be a rape taking place. When the shop owners found out that the female voice was actually coming from a male voice with a female sexual organs they all disappeared and left the person alone facing abuse by the police just because he is neither a woman, nor a man, hence not a human being with equal rights that abusing him wouldn’t be exactly as abusing a woman, or man. Wondering if these incidents will ever take place in the Syrian streets, hmm..

There is something about these so called “protectors of law” and LGTB community. It is not a secret that the Tripoli police officers in Lebanon made arresting gays a hobby for them. No wonder why Anarchists hate the police so much ;-)

The Feminist Collective Project Launched!

I am proud of these inspiring Lebanese women who’ve put some great efforts to make this project happen. I’ve met some of the founders of this project in Beirut the past year, they’re good people and I have high hopes for this project.

One thing I dont like about their website, however, is that it’s mostly in English, and English is just not our region’s language and we cannot make a change adopting other people’s languages. After all, language is about communication, even though I think it’s much more than that, but I do not believe that any change could happen addressing the English-speaking people when they’re are, perhaps, more familiar with feminism. Unlike a blog, a project that has goals to achieve in a certain region needs to address the regional people in their very language. God knows that the very reason that I am hated by some Syrian bloggers who write in Arabic for my posts on LGTB were written in Arabic, not in English.

In other words, it’s easier to write in English about a topic that is far from familiar to the Arab world. Not to say that I think the west supports LGTB rights, I mean, in the west, they’re all about “free talking”.

But I am sure they’ll be working on this issue in the near future. Anyways, back to my sisters over here, check their core of values:

– Domestic migrant workers are employees and should have all the rights of employment, starting with respect and equality.

– We have a responsibilty to be smart consumers since what we buy and where we buy from are political as well as personal choices that effect us all.

Here is a list of things they believe that need to be changed:

– We are supposed to be smart and educated, but only to a certain extent.

– We are supposed to go out into the world, but only if we are chaperoned by a male family member.

– Throughout our lives, we have to prove that we are good daughters and then good wives and then mothers.

– We are supposed to want to be wives and mothers.

– We are all supposed to be strictly heterosexual.

– We are expected to look desirable but not act on our desires.

– We are expected to look good but not too good because then we’d be looking for attention, harassment, and even rape.

– Our family is supposed to be our protector, but a huge number of us are abused, physically and/or orally, inside our homes, by members of our families, and there are no laws to protect us from familial violence.

– In a country where more than half of the population are women, we have only 6 women parliament members, and only one minister is a woman.

– We are required to go from our parents’ house straight to our husband’s house.

– We’re not really Lebanese citizens, we’re just the daughters of Lebanese men. Because if we really did possess a Lebanese citizenship, we’d be able to pass our nationality to our husbands and children; but we can’t.

– And even though we are supposed to be equal in the eyes of the law, we are far, very far from being equal to men.

Their take on the argument that treats Arab feminist movements as westernized and imported:

Feminism is not an imported idea. Every time a woman stands up and refuses to be abused and exploited, every time she speaks up against her abusers, every time a woman believes in her capabilities and pursues her needs and ambitions, every time she resists being a victim or an object or an inferior being, she is being a feminist. And we don’t need any Western movement to teach us that — we’ve been doing it all along! And even though some of you may not call yourself a feminist, we’re sure you’ve been doing it too.

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And finally, on Women’s international day, they’re going to hit the streets of Beirut,  check their event on Facebook, their posts on their website, in EN and here in AR.