The “Story” of Suha Omar Ali

Haya, Sama, and Julia, Suha Omar Ali's daughters, who drowned. [Source].

“I can’t follow the news anymore, it’s too much.” Over the last two years, I’ve heard this sentence over and over again from friends and family who no longer live their lives to the soundtrack of Arab satellite channels, from local variants like Libya Al-Ahrar to the pan-Arab channels Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera. It has become too much. When they say this, they’re talking about car-bombings in Iraq, drones in Yemen, militias in Libya, the “second revolution” in Egypt, and most of all these days, th … [Read more...]

Double Standards on Public Decency

A scene from Tamer Hosny's music video for Si El Sayed. [Source].

My cousin’s daughter is smart. She recently summed a deeply rooted societal problem in few words. The little girl is relatively chubby and her mom, my cousin, keeps giving her remarks on her weight and looks. At one point, she responded: “Don’t you see that you are fat too! Plus, you are the one who keep feeding me all the time!”Hypocrisy is the first word that came to my mind when I first saw this headline: “Morocco teens held for kissing photo on Facebook”. As mentioned in the story, the te … [Read more...]

The H Word: A Piece of Cloth Loaded with More Than It Can Bear?

Different styles of hijab reflect the influence of different ethnicities. [Source].

I have to admit that hijab narratives in media turn me off. Whether because it is exhaustively discussed or because most of these narratives rely heavily on clichés and fallacies, hijab is a subject that seems to me overloaded with notions that are not related in any way to what I see as the core of its true essence. However, being surrounded with multitudes of articles and reports on the topic, and being a Muslim woman living in a Muslim country that witnesses a shift in the way people perceive … [Read more...]

Women’s Involvement Is Nothing New

Women march to Tahrir on January 25, 2013. Credit Gigi Ibrahim

When you google the possible variations of these words: Women, Role & Arab Spring, you will be faced with massive numbers of articles, studies and interviews that examine thoroughly women’s involvement in the Arab Spring. The prevalent sentiment of such works revolves around how it's newsworthy that “Women played an active role during the Arab Spring” or “Women have emerged as key players in the Arab spring”.  What I read between lines is: It’s unbelievable to find you among the people who to … [Read more...]

Ramadan Resolutions, Revolving Revolutions: In One Year, Out the Other

One of the Mawa'id Arahman in Egypt. [Source].

A couple of years ago, I heard a story about an Egyptian woman who decided that she would cook the Ramadan favourites she usually cooked for iftar, but she and her family would not eat the meals she prepared. Instead, the food was distributed among the poor and they broke their fast on flat bread and fava beans. Maybe this is impractical idealism, or even (if you’re cynical) a form of poverty tourism, but the story struck me as a personal way of relating to Ramadan in a way that breaks from the y … [Read more...]

9 Things That Make Ramadan Memories Special to Me

Suhur at the open yard of Sultan Eyup Mosque.

Ramadan is here! And although its true essence is all about our pursuit of spiritual elevation, we – Muslims – celebrate it in every way possible. Thus, special memories about Ramadan are engraved in our hearts, and I would like to share some of mine here.1. I was born in Ramadan: When I was a little kid, I thought this makes me special. Ramadan is a holy month and I always believed that anyone born in this month is holy or maybe a wali (saint)! This was my childhood wishful thinking, for I’m … [Read more...]

Empowered Women in the Age of the Harem

“Backwards” is the word often associated with pre-modern ages, and “oppression” is the word that comes to our minds first when we describe the state of women during those ages. Thank God we live in the modern age where human rights activism has brought women rights that they’ve never had before. Right?Sorry to shake your beliefs, but there existed times where pre-modern women (in Egypt in particular and the Middle East in general) were granted rights that modern women strive to acquire in man … [Read more...]


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