Jul 24, 2006

Saying Goodbye...
A Final Khodahafez

A couple of days ago, an elder auntie passed away leaving behind a feeling of emptiness within many of us. She was a beautiful soul. Even with her physical aches and pains, her difficult financial situation, her worries and stresses, she had a positive energy about her. I will truly miss her, as will many others.

We went to the Masjed for the pre-burial ceremony. We waited in one of the large praying rooms while the washing (Ghusl) and the shrouding (Kafan) of the deceased took place. An hour and a half later, once the ritual had been completed, we (the women only) were finally allowed to see her to say our final khodahafez.

The small group of us entered the brightly-lit room, filled with a pungent smell of camphor. And there she was, lying on a stretcher-like table, all wrapped up, head to toe, in a white sheet with only her face visible. She looked so peaceful, like she was in a deep sleep.

The crying had begun upon entering the room. Black-garbed bodies of women were moving around her helplessly. Bawling. Sobbing. Holding one another. We took one last look and left the room. Closer family members stayed behind for an extended final goodbye.

We returned to the praying room and waited. Earlier, we had found out that the Imam who was to lead the funeral prayers would not be able to make it. The only other knowledgeable person to do this was an elder auntie, who was uncomfortable with the idea. We were in a predicament. The only other option was to carry on with the prayers as a group - with no particular person leading. And this was clearly, not the way to go either.

We were sitting in our grief, some of us wondering how to proceed with the prayers, others too emotional to even worry about that. We heard a loud wail and knew the coffin was on its way. The doors in the back end of the room opened up with two men carrying the coffin. They laid it on the stand situated in the front part of the room, facing the direction of the Qibleh.

We rose from our seats. Then, the front doors opened and a man, who looked like an Imam, walked towards the coffin in a hurried manner. He spoke to us in broken Farsi, and based on certain words he used, I gathered he was an Urdu speaker; the similarity in the languages helped him communicate with us. He asked us to line up in rows, facing the coffin, men in the front, and women in the back. He stood in front of us, and without hesitation, we began.

"Allahu Akbar..."

After the ceremony was over, and we were scattered outside the front doors of the Masjed, I overheard an uncle explaining something regarding the Imam who had lead the prayers. Apparently, the Imam was on his way home, when something told him to turn the car around and head back to the Masjed. He felt that there was some unfinished business he had to deal with, not knowing what. Upon his arrival at the Masjed, he was told about a funeral ceremony without an Imam to lead the prayers.

He had arrived at the exact time we needed him. It may have been a strange coincidence; but I would like to think my auntie had something to do with it. Who knows. What I do know is that she was (and will continue to be) loved by so many of us. We will miss her very much.

Jul 23, 2006

What the Eff is Going on?
Blog Spaces Unsafe Spaces...

Here I was caught up with my own personal issues (lot going on) while not realizing there was some effed up situations happening on The Women of Color Blog (BrownFemiPower) and Nubian's blog (and a few other spaces as well).

When I first started blogging, Brownfemipower and Nubian were part of a community of bloggers that truly inspired me because of the content of the posts. These bloggers put their politics out there in a raw and personal way. What they posted was (and continues to be) thought-provoking, challenging and REAL. What is truly effed up is the ways in which bloggers are continually "punished" and "attacked" for that very reason.

The blogosphere is great in so many ways, but it NOT a safe space by any means...and can never really be one. This is especially the case when it comes to blogs that are actively working towards an anti-oppression agenda. Shame, shame shame. It is truly upsetting and disgusting. It seems that folks cannot handle dialoguing about the "difficult" topics (i.e. racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.) These are the topics that requires one to challenge oneself, for one to be challenged. These are precisely the kinds of topics and discussions that are so NEEDED in order to work towards anti-oppression.

This is the same old story, again and again and again. Damn.

I really don't know what to say, except that we need to continue challenging one another - no matter how draining it gets. We take the timeouts when needed, but keep going on.



ps. Brownfemipower, if you're reading this, please know that I've been trying to post on your site and my comments just won't publish for some reason. Let me know.

Jul 21, 2006

Guilt, Anger, Helplessness...

This letter written by Hanady Salman (an editor at As-Safir newspaper in Beirut) was posted today on the "Angry Arab" blog.

For me, what hit most about the letter was Hanady's feelings of guilt and anger at her own privileges and helplessness in the situation. She says,

"The first three or four days were very strange. I was in Beirut , sitting in an air conditioned office, watching the devastation of the South and the southern suburb. It felt like when you watch news and pictures from Palestine and Iraq. You feel frustrated and concerned, but you know there's not much you can do for them, for mere geographical reasons, at least that's the excuse one uses to comfort one's self. But "this" was happening a few kilometers away and I'd still be sitting here watching. The other weird feeling was related to the first one: I felt that I was paying my dues. The guilt feeling I've always had toward Palestine, and later towards Iraq, has diminished a little bit. I felt like hugging Palestine and Iraq and screaming to them "We're with you, like you: left alone, suffering and part of your cause, a great one." Sometimes I just flip and cry. Cry because I'm so helpless and angry."

Many of us share those feelings of guilt, anger and helplessness. No matter how much you feel a sense of solidarity or empathy with the people who are facing horriyfing situations, such as what is happening in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and many other parts of the world (including the wars of poverty, racism, etc.), if you have some distance from the situation (both in the metaphorical and actual sense), you are able to "disconnect" - you have the priviliege of "disconnecting". At the same time, in many ways, you are also helpless (or are you?)

There's always privilieges amidst the most horrifying of situations. I can relate to Hanady with my own experiences of the Iran-Iraq war. Those of us living in the capital, Tehran, dealt with a completely different situation that those living right by the border, where the bloodshed was happening. There were totally different experiences in different parts of the country. I think about those of us that could travel to different parts of the country - to the "safer" areas - because we had privileges (such as access to transportation, accomodation, etc.) that facilitated the process. Then there was the issue of food and other basic necessities that some of us had access to and others did not.

The trauma and terror of war are beyond words. Experiences and intensities of that trauma are different for each person. But one thing is for sure, that trauma stays with you for a lifetime. You may work towards dealing with it, but no matter what, part of it will always remain with you.


Please note (and let others know) that donations are urgently needed for supplies for internally displaced people flooding into central Beirut, Lebanon. A citizen's committee, Sanayeh Relief Center, has formed, and is currently working with 5000 refugees sheltered in schools to provide basic supplies to the refugees. It has also put out a call for international solidarity actions.

For details on the initiative and how to donate in Canada click here:

Jul 20, 2006


For updates on the war on Lebanon, check the Electronic Intifada website.

Jul 19, 2006

Express Your Outrage!

This is a forward I received and I'm posting it in hopes of getting the word out as quickly as possible. Many emails have gone out, but please continue to pass this info on.


In Lebanon as in Gaza, hundreds of people have been killed; bridges, roads, buildings, power plants, petrol stations, ports, airports, vehicles have been destroyed. Israel is maintaining a land, sea and air blocade of the country, with devastating consequences. Under the attack, people are abandoning their homes and fleeing into central Beirut with nowhere to go.

Yet the Prime Minister of Canada, in recent public statements in London, England, framed the military assault as a matter of Israel's legitimate right to self-defence and characterized it as "measured". Meanwhile, the Minister of Foreign Affairs in his 12 July statement, condemned Hizballah for its actions against Israeli military targets but remained absolutely silent about Israel's crimes against civilian populations.

**In the NEXT 24-HOURS, please CALL, FAX and EMAIL Prime Minister Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Mackay.

INNUNDATE THEIR LINES and let them know that WE WILL NOT TOLERATE their support for war crimes. DEMAND that Canada immediately and forcefully condemn Israeli war crimes and demand that Israel immediately cease its aggression towards and withdrawfrom Lebanon and Gaza.

Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada,
Telephone: 613 -992-4211 and Fax: 613-941-6900
pm@pm.gc.ca and Harper.S@parl.gc.ca

Peter MacKay, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Telephone: (613) 992-6022 and Fax: (613) 992-2337


* The destruction to lives, public infrastructure and private property in both Lebanon and Gaza has been appalling, even measured against theIsraeli government's habitual disregard for international law and human life. Israel has invaded a sovereign country, is bombarding civilian areas indiscriminately, has systematically destroyed land, sea and air routes out of the country and is holding all of the people of Lebanon undersiege. Entire families have been murdered, buried under their houses, fleeing in cars, walking on the streets.

* Statements by Harper and MacKay on the current crisis in the Middle East have been entirely lacking in balance, in any measure of objectivity, in basic knowledge of the region's history, in respect for international law, and in basic compassion for human suffering. Mr. Harper's statements in London, England early last week, condoned the Israeli military assault on Lebanon and charaterized it as legitimate self-defense and "measured" - an extraordinary claim when measured against the reality of the destruction wreaked the country and the hundreds of civilian deaths on the pretext of the capture of three of its soldiers. Peter MacKay's July 12 statement condemned Hizbollah and called on the governments of Lebanon, Syria and Iran to take measures to bring an end to the crisis. Not one word was directed at Israel. These statements are tantamount to condoning state crimes, state terror, the disregard of international law and conventions,and whatever geo-political aims lie behind the Israeli government'sappalling contempt for human life.

* Israel demands the implementation of UN Resolution 1559 from 2004, that among many things, calls for the disarmament of Hezbollah. Israel itself fails to respect the multiple resolutions adopted by the UN decades ago in favour of the rights of the Palestinian people; the international community fails to enforce them. The non-application of these resolutions- most importantly that of UN Resolution 242, that for close to 40 years has called for the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from the territories occupied in 1967 - is the context of the current conflict.

* The government's stance on this issue - as well as that of the Prime Minister - has helped squander the precious political or moral capital Canadians have with people in the Middle East, and Arab and Muslim communities around the world. It has encouraged racism and exacerbated divisions between communities within Canada. It has undermined whatevercould be taken from the fact that Canada did not publicly stand on the same ground as the United States when it came to its dealings in the Middle East. This will not be easy to recover.
Whose Lives are More Precious?

Media coverage of what is happening in Lebanon reeks of racist bias. It is not a surprise. It is absolutely sickening. As Jonathan Cook wrote in a recent article,

"The BBC is no worse than CNN, Sky and, of course, Fox News. It is possibly far better, which is reason enough why we should be outraged that this is the best international broadcast coverage we are likely to get of the conflict. The reporting we are seeing from the BBC and the other broadcasters is racist; there is no other word to describe it. The journalists’ working assumption is that Israeli lives are more precious, more valuable than Lebanese lives. A few dead Israelis justify massive retaliation; many Lebanese dead barely merit a mention."

Many of us have expressed feeling helpless. We may not be able to stop the death and destruction, but one thing we can do is spread the word on what is actually happening in Lebanon. There are alternative media sources that are providing information on what is not being covered by mainstream media. Let's get this information out there.

Jul 17, 2006


I am out of words
I am truly out of words
My heart aches, I feel helpless
I feel like screaming
people are dying and the sick stench of war is creeping over the region
it's going to spread
I am horrified


Jul 7, 2006


I'm starting to sound broken
like a record
not the kind you play
at the club while making people
while making other
people happy I
mean that same shit
I keep coming at you
with over
and over
and over again
where I keep stabbing
my own heart
as you hold my hand
through it all
loving me
but leaving
your silence cuts
deep your absence
is breaking me
into pieces
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