January 11, 2008

Halal Mix Tape Vol. 1

I haven't laughed this much in a gazillion years as I did after watching this video by Lota-Pani Productions and Gandaghee. Young North American Muslims with a huge sense of humor!

December 30, 2007

Al-Baal Café ends the year...

...with the beautiful song by greek duo Kostas Hatzopoulos and Katerina Nitsopoulou also known as Anemos.

Miazis me fotia (tr: you look like fire) she sings in greek with a hint of middle-eastern and medieval sounding tunes playing in the background. I absolutely LOVE it, and I am sure you will too.

Purchase the CD A Mediterranean Odyssey for more amazing tunes like Miazis me fotia.

December 29, 2007

Rain over Rawalpindi

One persons death can have such a great impact on the world. I spoke with a friend in Pakistan who tells me about streets with not a single car on them at 8 pm in the evening, not a store open, and flights not going in the major cities of Pakistan, like Lahore. Riots, violent attacks on any car that dare go out in the street for whatever errand.

Benazir Bhutto was a strong personality if anything and with her death, whatever indescrepancies she has been associated with, they will be forgotten and instead the last memory of her in her signature white "duppatta" (headscarf) waving and smiling to her supporters, defying all threaths to her life, will remain in even her opposers mind.

I have been phoned by swedish media asking me to comment on her death and if there were going to be any memorials for her by the pakistani community in Sweden. Her death and funeral has been all over swedish media. People really were affected by her, in whatever way, she did leave a lasting mark.

As I wrote earlier, as a child growing up she was an inspiration to me as a Muslim girl looking at a strong, intelligent and charismatic Muslim woman, defying all rules of traditional conduct. And perhaps her last sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice for her country forces us to think that perhaps she did care about the future of Pakistan.

Initial reports on her death said that she had died from a bullet wound, or some sort of shrapnel from the bomb, in her neck. Now all of a sudden the official version has changed dramatically. She died from a fall in her car somehow banging against the sunroof?

Few believe that theory. I doubt we will know for sure what version was the real one.

The future of Pakistan? People I talk to are worried, sad and depressed. They fear something worse is waiting. We can only pray and hope things calm down.

The hunt goes on to find the culprits of the murder of this mother of three, daughter of the east, reunited with her father and main inspiration.

In the news:

Email only to be used "If I am killed"

Oxford friends remember "fiery and fun" Benazir.

84 flights cancelled.

BB manuscript rushed into print

December 12, 2007

Happy Birthday & gTunes!!

It's been exactly one year since I started www.globalthemes.org
and today, 11 000 vistors and more than 1000 posts, two Photobloggies 2007 Awards nominations, 20 photographers from diverse backgrounds and more than 40 themes of photography later, the blog is still going strong and has become a hub of psoitivity and photographical exchange on the web.

To celebrate the past year, a sister blog called gTunes has been set up where all the fabulous Global Tunes that have been playing on www.globalthemes.org will be collected with info on artists, videos and pictures.

So if you haven't visited www.globalthemes.org or gTunes yet, now is the time!

October 19, 2007

Benazir Bhutto Returns...

..and so does mayhem. More than 100 human beings with families, jobs and lives, killed in Karachi. The spread of extremism is just increasing day by day, the longer the war on terror goes on and the longer one ignores the socio-economic reasons for the spread of extremism, the bloodier Pakistan will get.

I avoid writing about politics in general because I am no politician, no conoisseur of the political life and thought. I have a general naivity or dismay for politicians...not the desired ingredients of a commentator on politics.

Having said that, I don't have to be a plumber to know a clogged drain.

I always liked Bhutto. The few years I spent in Pakistan as a young girl while she ruled as PM, I saw her as a positive figure, a Muslim woman (the first Muslim female leader in the Muslim world) amongst men, charismatic and elegant.

But the truth of the matter was, Pakistan under her and subsequently Nawaz Sharif was a big disaster with corruption allegations left right and centre. In NWFP where I lived time stopped. And the rich got richer, and corruption flourished. Looking back on it now I am reminded that she, as a woman, never did a single thing to change the faulty Hudood ordinance for rape victims (the one where supposedly a woman has to produce four witnesses to prove a rape case). She had two terms as PM to do something about it and never did.

In an interview she says:

“I am a female political leader fighting to bring modernity, communication, education and technology to Pakistan.”

Musharraf however, being the dictator he is, did something about it and the law was modified earlier this year (with the help of Dr. Hassan Hanafi of Cairo University whom I met with earlier this year). Whether he did it to score browny points or not, I will never know.

Democracy, yes. It is important, it is vital and it should be the goal. I hope to see it in place in Pakistan again. But Pakistan has had it for decades and each leader that came hid behind it and sucked Pakistan even more dry than before, and as Bhutto steps out of her plane with a decade old corruption charges against her, waving her heavily bejeweled hands, sparkling with gold (after her 8 years in Dubai), a feeling of worry hits me.

Have the cleaners come back to Pakistan?

October 18, 2007

A cracked olive branch

I had dinner with a friend of mine the other day. She had been to see her relatives in Betlehem over the summer and served a bowl of green olives from her Grandmother's 30 year old plantation. As she served me some she told me that this is the same plantation that doesn't exist anymore after it was bombed by the Israeli Military last summer.

We ate those olives like they were the last olives on earth. "I'm really sorry," was all I could bring myself to say. I didn't know what else to say to her, and she herself said nothing more on the matter.

She doesn't hate Jews or Israelis, and we often talk about the situation "down there" and more than often is she critical of "her own" people, in particular the new trend of being a "hamsawiyyeh" (follower of hamas) or not being one.

But I cannot help but react to the stories I hear from her and many other friends who visit or try to visit their family in Palestine. The harassment at the airport in Tel Aviv, not even being sure if they will be let in or not. The resentment that is created cannot be good for the future of the land?

I want to understand.

October 17, 2007

11 000 year old paint

Those of you who have followed my blog from the start know how much I love Syria and its people, food, culture and language. So I am happy to present to you what is believed to be the oldest wall painting in the world, 11 000 years to be exact, found in Jaadet Al-Maghara. Like the article in NG suggests, it does look like modern art!

"Researchers uncovered the prehistoric artwork while excavating the dwelling near the Euphrates River some 280 miles (480 kilometers) north of Damascus (see map)."
-National Geographic Online Continuation of story...

*Photograph by Directorate of Museums and Archeology/HO/AP

October 16, 2007

Main Vari Vari

In 2005, Bollywood produced a historical film by the name of Mangal Pandey : The Rising. It refers to what the British historians (many of them til this day) called The Mutiny in 1857, but which in reality was a revolt against the opressive rule of the British Raj.

The music which can be credited to A.R. Rahman (whose website in itself is a treat!), is truly a delight to listen to and one song and video in particular stands out; Main Vari Vari (click to listen to it).

But it is best heard together with the amazing classical indian dance video with english subtitles.

A fellow blogger has uploaded the whole movie to his/her blog and can be watched here.

How many villas can a person have?

Founder of SOS Children's Villages, Hermann Gmeiner
together with children in Poá, Brazil
Photo: Alexander Gabriel

Henning Mankell, one of Sweden's most popular authors, whose books have been translated into many languages, decided that it was time to do something about the 800 000 orphaned children in Mocambique, so from his own quite large pocket he extracted 15 million Swedish crowns, which is roughly 1,5 million Euros. Together with one of my favorite organisations SOS Children's Villages, he is building a village for 150 orphaned children in a country he has spent almost 25 years living in off and on.

According to Svenska Dagbladet Mankell was surprised that more people with larger fortunes didn't do the same.

"How many villas can a person have?" he replied.

You can follow Charles Kiyimba, official SOS Children's Village Blogger as he with words and pictures unfolds the reality and everyday going ons at the Children's Village Gulu in Uganda.

October 15, 2007

Don't be such a turtle!

In Tanzania or Tanganyika as it is called in Swahili, a large population of Muslims live. Being almost half of the country's population, Ramadan of course does not go unnoticed.

Not every Muslim Tanzanian fasts, and for those that pretend to be fasting while secretly eating anyway, the Swahili speaking Tanzanians have given the name of Kasa which means Turtle. Perhaps because the turtle is both on land an in water and has a shell to hide under?