"To the impartial eye, the world not only seems an unlikely one-off phenomenon, but a constant strain on reason. If reason exists, that is, if a neutral reason exists. So speaks the voice from within. So speaks Joker's voice." - Jostein Gaarder

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Syrian Bloggers: Free Kareem

We, as a community of Syrian bloggers, condemn the arrest and sentencing of Egyptian blogger Abdel Kareem Nabil Soliman for the peaceful expression of his dissenting views. We ask the Egyptian government to reconsider its decision to arrest and prosecute Abdel Kareem. The stated reasons for their action include the preservation of the public peace and state security, and the prevention of incitement against Islam. We contend that his arrest will achieve neither. Silencing such dissenting voices as Abdel Kareem’s, serves only to strengthen the hands of extremists who will not shy away from violence to achieve their goals. Moreover, we remind the Egyptian government that his arrest and prosecution violates at least two articles (see below) of the 1948 United Nations universal declaration of human rights to which Egypt was a signatory.

Relevant United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights articles:

Article 18. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Such rights for freedom of expression are also enshrined in the 1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam and the 2003 Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the World's religions.

Signed by,

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Februray, Last Year

Jaiboul - 2006, Haitham's

It was cold, and beautiful...

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

One of the reasons I dont blog much about Japan

Is what my friend Alisa puts out so bluntly here...

I will not say that Japanese are racist, but, I can definitely say with confidence that a huge number of them are...

You see, we "gaijin" or "mukonohito" = the people from far, will never have the pure genes of the superior japanese...

we've gotten used to being eyed in the train, or people leaving their seats when u sit, or not talking to u when u need to ask for direction, or... or...

read the post... it's kind of like "fashet khele2" but, the problem goes way much deeper inside...

I'm feeling better now, much better.

In Japan you have to get over things quickly.

They have a saying that means "there's no way around it"- shou ga nai.

They say it often, too often. They use it as a blanket to cover all kinds of sins, corruption, and laziness. But the culture of shou ga nai is infectious, a carte blanche for every inaction.

But, take my example. When I was searching for apartments I got rejected from four different places, sight unseen, because I was a foreigner. The first time, I was really hurt and stunned. The second time, I was angry. The third time I was annoyed, and the fourth time, I was numb to it. Shou ga nai.

This is how it happened. I was sitting in a sunny realtor's office, flipping through a gigantic binder of apartments in an area I wanted to live in. When I found one of a decent size for a good price, I would tell the kid who was helping me, and he would call the other realtor's office. They would say if the apartment was still available, why it was so cheap, and when it would be available for a viewing. If everything seemed OK, my agent would go into his speech:

"Now there is just one thing, my client is a foreigner. She's a girl, she's American, she works for a Japanese company, she has two guarantors, the president of her company, and another friend, who is Japanese. Is that OK?"

Then there would be a pause, and sometimes he would say "yes, she speaks Japanese...Thats OK? Alright thank you."

I got so used to the eventual OK that I was beginning to think that the whole process was just a formality. It wasn't.

Eventually I asked about a place in the area and the guy went through his lines. Then the pause.

"Oh. Oh. Oh I see. Well, thanks anyway."

I watched his face as he put down the phone, and I could see the poor kid was trying to work out how to break the news to me. "Well, apparently they don't rent to foreigners. They've asked the landlord before, and they've always said no"

He watched my face as I took the news. I didn't say anything, I just smiled and blinked. What could I say? I wasn't surprised, and although I was angry, who could I be angry with? It wasn't the fault of this kid in front of me, nor the decision of his manager. I couldn't blame the voice on the other end of the phone, and the landlord, three degrees of separation away from me, was probably some crotchety old lady who didn't like anybody and was afraid of everything.

After a few minutes, he said. "daijoubu desuka?" I looked at him and smiled too big. "Hai."

The next day my coworker tried to explain it to me, "Well, you know, the landlords, they don't like renting to gaijin because they don't know their habits."

I threw down my chopsticks and gave him the most dangerous look I've given anyone in a while. I was sitting in a basement restaurant, eating raw egg and grated yam over rice. No one had any right to say anything to me about my "habits". He didn't notice my look though. He continued, "What? They don't know what they will do to the room? Desho?"

No. Not "desho". This is what I wanted to say, but what I couldn't say:

"Don't justify their RACISM to me!!"

That's right people, I said RACISM.. about JAPAN!!! Not xenophobia, or protectionism, or isolationism, or any of the politer words that Japan, as a world power, seems to be entitled to.

I can't go into all the reasons why Japan systematically and unrepentingly gets away with racism. It has to do with their massive foreign PR mechanisms, their houdini-like ability to pretend problems aren't there when they are, and the magical timing of the MOJ, which swoops in with symbolic reforms just as people were starting to make a big to-do about some injustice.

But mostly, mostly, it has to do with the fact that foreigners like myself, white, privileged, educated foreigners, are generally treated very, very well here. They love my English, they love my skin, and they love me when I can use their chopsticks and eat my food. Sure they may never accept me, they may never offer me a real job and they may get huffy when I refuse to leave after three years or so, but when I complain about those things, people just scoff and tell me to get over it. Of course, every once in a while, the deep seated racism that lives in this country blindsides me in a way that ruins my week and makes me angry. But because I can't complain about the general way my life is going, I forget about it that too. In a few days I feel better, and I let it go.

The people who lose in this situation are the Chinese, Korean, Southeast Asian, and Middle Eastern residents, immigrants, and temporary workers. They don't get well compensated for their jobs; nearly no one finds them "cute" or "kakkoi". They don't have time to write letters to their prefectural government, or write blogs about racial equality in a supposedly homogeneous and traditionally isolated country.

The racism, the widespread, institutionalized, and accepted racism in this country needs to stop. And not because Japan will need to open its borders as their workforce decreases, and not because they signed some pact with the UN. Just because its wrong, and because its wrong anywhere.

Yeah, I know my life isn't in danger, and in other places there are genocides and riots and violence over race. And I know America has far more race- related problems than Japan. But at least in America we can talk about it. We have shows like Chappelle's show, which actually brought some complicated racial dynamics to the forefront. We can major in Ethnic studies, and we can talk about the psychological impact of transracial adoption. (right lisa?). But because everyone thinks that Japan is a magical land of cherry blossoms and lollipops, where the trains run on time and everyone is polite, nothing ever gets discussed. And therefore nothing ever changes.

For anyone needing some final proof about the extent of the problem, check out the review of a magazine that was released and sold in Family Mart, a huge convenience store chain. It is a sensationalistic, fear mongering chronical of evil foreigners and the crime wave they are inflicting on Japan. Check out the evil, slanty-eyed Chinese, whose inferior DNA makes them predisposed to be violent. And how about that terrorist in the background? This magazine was published with cooperation from the national police force, making it in part a government concoction. Imagine if a magazine like this was sold in a 7-11 in America. Just imagine it.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007


1970: Japan's GDP per Capita = 6 * Syria's GDP per Capita

fast forward,

2005: Japan's GDP per Capita = 26 * Syria's GDP per Capita


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Tuesday, February 06, 2007


I need to reprogram me. period.

It's just not working. It's not... Me has totally stopped functioning.

I dont remember when was the last time that i had a real sense of accomplishment, for something that I honestly worked hard for... If I wanted to be honest with myself I'd say, Bakaloria...

I donno for how long I'm gonna get these free passes that are still moving me up the ladder. And I'm just so fucking frightened to my bones from that moment where I, just simply, Fall flat.

I need to start functioning again. Clean my head, clean my soul, clean this fucking room.

Friday, February 02, 2007

I'm an Atheist Moslem

I'm an atheist; I don't believe in God, I don't believe in his existence in any materialistic or spiritual way. Yet, I acknowledge the probability of his existence. My belief is my own personal opinion about those 2 probabilities.

I believe in the big boom, and I believe that we don't know a lot of stuff, but that doesn't "necessarily" mean that it's supernatural. It might, It might not. I feel [through experience, life, readings, and way of thinking, as ME] more for the "Might not" option. Very simple.

I believe in trial and error, I believe in proofs. I don't believe in Myths. Although i enjoy reading them, immensely. I enjoyed reading the bible, just as I enjoyed reading Greek and Nordic mythology.

I believe that, even in case God turned out to be a real thing, in any of the old, or new forms, whether the Sun was God, or whether Jesus was the son of God, or whether God was merely light... No God has the right to question my decision to stay honest to what I feel inside, and what I sense outside... and that is exactly what I'm doing.

I, too, consider myself Moslem. I was born to a Moslem family [My Grandfather, his father, his grandfather... were very important religious figures in their sect, although my father turned Marxist, that doesn't change the fact that everyone else in the family is deeply religious], I've lived in a country with an overwhelming majority of Moslems, albeit, most are moderate, but still.. I practiced a lot of the social traditions, I celebrate Eid, I enjoy the culture, I enjoy reading Quran, I enjoy the History, I feel proud to belong to such history. I enjoy a lot of the traditions.

I know very well that I've read about Islamic History more than half of whom they claim themselves as the "Protectors" of this religion.

I am a member of this civilization. I am a member of this culture, I'm not a member of this religion [Islam], but no one, has the right to say I'm not a Moslem. because, Islam, is also a cultural identity.

The Islamic Civilization at its Height, was not only made by Moslems... there were Christians, Jews, Atheists... two of my favorite poets, and probably of the most famous Arab poets in history, are Abu Nawas and Abu al-'Ala' al-Ma'arry. Who are well known Atheists... in the modern sense of the word.

So, yes, I am proud of belonging to this culture, a culture that reached its height by opening up to all currents of thinking.

I might understand, why a Japanese person, with his own mindset, and his stereotypes might not understand that.

But, why is it so hard for us?