Monthly Archives: November 2013

How to squeeze a reading hour in a busy schedule?

In today’s rapidly moving society, even the biggest bibliophiles sometimes have problems finding the time to sit down with a good read. But if you are creative and observant, you’ll begin to see how parts of your everyday routine can be used as reading opportunities.

1) To save some time, buy or download an audio copy of a book so you can listen to instead of reading; although this is not my favorite option.

2) Carry your reading material everywhere you go. This way if you have a few moments for yourself, you’ll have the opportunity to read.

3) Read (or listen to your audio book) while you are waiting in line, for your food, for paperwork, while you’re in the bank.

4) If you are a college student, read a book between classes instead of fooling around.

5) Mark where you left reading so you wouldn’t reread pages you already read or waste time finding your page.

6) For all girls out there buy a purse that is actually big enough to contain your book.

7) Join a book group! This commitment will enable you to read faster and have a more enjoyable reading experience.

8) Read everyday when you go to bed or when you wake up in the morning.

9) Read with your husband/fiance/ best friend/ favorite person in the world, which will give you an amazing reading experience and a great experience for the both of you.

10) Most importantly read what you LOVE.  If you don’t like what you are reading and it’s not required, read something else. There’s no law that says you can’t abandon a book just because you don’t like it. If you do love a book, you’re more likely to return to it and you’ll probably finish it faster.



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The uprising of women in the Arab world through “Confessions of an Angry Arab woman”

صوت المرأة ثورة

The Modern Uprising of Women through the specs of I killed Scheherazade.

On the Author:

Joumana Haddad (born Salloum, December 6, 1970,Beirut) is a Lebanese poet, translator, journalist and women rights activist.She has already published several poetry collections, widely acclaimed by critics. Her books have been translated to many languages and published abroad. Speaking seven languages and has written books in different languages, and has also published several works of translation. Joumana Haddad has been awarded the Arab Press Prize in 2006. In October 2009, she has been chosen as one of the 39 most interesting Arab writers under 39.In November 2009, she won the International Prize North South for poetry, of the Pescarabruzzo Foundation in Italy. In February 2010, she won the Blue Metropolis Al Majidi Ibn Dhaher Arab Literary Prize. In August 2010, she received the Rodolfo Gentili Prize in Porto Recanati, Italy. In November 2012, she received the Cutuli Prize for journalism in Catania, Italy. In July 2013, she was appointed honorary ambassador for culture and human rights for the city of Naples in the Mediterranean by the mayor of Naples Luigi de Magistris. As of February 2012, Joumana also teaches at the Lebanese American University in Beirut.

About the Book:

I killed Scheherazade is a very brave, courageous and illuminating book. It is  a revolution within female literature among the Arab world. I killed Scheherazade plays as a manifesto for the Arabian female persona, Haddad breaks all the rules and plays on the restricted and the taboo. Joumana Haddad broke the silence of Arab women with a voice that can not be unheard. This book teaches young women in the Middle east to be authentic, to be intellectual and not to be intimidated.

Analysis and the relation to the Modern Uprising of Women in the Arab World:

In I killed Scheherazade Joumana Haddad is angry. She finds the West’s portrayal of Arab women appalling and the image projected by many Middle Eastern women infuriating. In I Killed Scheherazade, Haddad challenges prevalent notions of Arab womanhood and, in the process, shatters the centuries-old stereotype of Scheherazade, the virgin heroine of The Arabian Nights who won the king’s affections. Fiery and candid, this provocative exploration of what it means to be an Arab woman today will enlighten and inform a new international feminism. I Killed Scheherazade is a rapid-fire literary, often poetic, attacks upon the enemies of full, thus explicit, feminist expression, both the covert adversaries and the obvious ones, that hits the bulls-eye time after time. With the precision of a sniper and the tenacity of a pit bull. Joumana Haddad turns over all the rocks to expose the life beneath them: Western feminist ideas about Arab women, Arab hypocrisy in literary criticism, and Christian and Islamic fundamentalism. A force this strong has the potential to become a tsunami, given time, circumstances, and audience. As a young author living in a time of revolution and liberation, Haddad’s ebullient expression is a foretaste of the broader vision that will surely be realized, one which her own voice has inspired. Joumana Haddad is a symbol for the awakening of Arab women, for the revolution of the female character against her oppression. I am not saying that all women are oppressed and on all levels, but one would be amazed to find some of the oppression stories within Middle Eastern societies, one of the biggest examples is honor killing. Honor killing has to be the most important issue we as females MUST fight in the Middle East to save women, whether a woman was a sinner or not, whether she was a prostitute or a saint, no one has the right to decide to end the life of a human being.  If we tried to relate this work of revolution to the Women’s revolution in the Arab world, we’d find that Joumana Haddad has been a spark, a torch for the change. Joumana Haddad serves as a force for every female to change, to define herself as an independent, productive, active and significant part of society. The uprising of women in the Arab world suggests that the young women were captivated by the uprisings that swept the Middle East and North Africa last year. The moment was a poignant one for Arab feminists. Though few outside the Arab world know it, women’s radicalism in the region has long and deep roots that span more than a century. As the uprisings unfolded across the region, this legacy was there for all to see. Women stood not only in defiance of brutal dictatorships, but also cultural norms that many times encouraged, and in some cases enforced, women’s exclusion from the public sphere. Yet, the euphoria following Mubarak’s fall had barely subsided when disturbing reports began to surface. In Egypt, women who had gathered in Tahrir square to commemorate the first international women’s day following the revolution, were, as Hania Sholkamy has reported “attacked, harassed, ridiculed, shouted down and ultimately chased out of the square.” In the months that followed, women protesters would be arrested and subjected to virginity tests, intimidation, and trial by military tribunals.  Moreover, eminism belongs to all women, comes from all women and is practised at some level by all women. Feminism is a direct response to  misogyny, violence, discrimination, sexism and the disaster that is patriarchy – disaster for both the earth and humanity. Arab women have been feminists since the year dot and do not need Western women or Arab  men to tell them how to be feminists or not to be feminists.

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Film Review: 5 Broken Cameras by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi

A Palestinian must watch!

sabi HC

5 broken cameras

Film Details:

5 broken cameras is a 2011 documentary directed by the Palestinian Emad Burnat and the Israeli Guy Davidi. 5 broken Cameras takes place in Bil’in, a village in Palestine West Bank threatened by the increased number of Israeli settlements and Israeli barriers. The documentary was shot by the Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat with the help of the Israeli director Guy Davidi.

Nominations and Awards:

5 Broken Cameras won the World Cinema Direction Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, it also won the Golden Apricot at the 2012 Yerevan International Film Festival, Armenia for best documentary film. The film also received the Special Broadcaster IDFA Audience Award and the Special Jury Award at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam in 2011. Furthermore, 5 Broken Cameras was nominated for a 2012 Academy Award. 

Brief Summary:

The self made and self educated cameraman/director Emad Burnat experienced his first camera experiment in 2005 when he bought his…

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Syrian Literature under Revolutionary circumstances: The Shell; Diary of a Voyeur by Mustafa Khalifa


Book Information:

Author: Mustafa Khalifa

Language: Arabic

Country: Syria

Genre: Memoir

Number of pages: 383

Published: 2008

 Brief summary about the book:

The Shell: Diary of a Voyeur is a compelling contemporary Arabic prison  literature written by the Syrian author Mustafa Khalifa. This novel revolves around the political situation in Syria  through its main character; the christian detainee Mustafa Khalifa.

Mustafa Khalifa is a young man who studied cinematic direction in France , he decided to return to his country Syria in the 1980s, the time Syria suffered from political problems under the rule of Hafiz Al Asad. To his surprise, Mustafa Khalifa gets arrested the moment he reaches mainland Syria and spends 12 years in a desert prison (from 1982 till 1994). The novel covers some of Khalifa’s life events before the arrest, his arrest, his 12 years of imprisonment and the year after he was released.  The reason for Khalifa’s arrest is cooperation and being part of the Muslim brotherhood; ironically Khalifa is christian.

Critical insight through Khalifa’s Shell:

Mustafa is arrested upon arriving at the airport, brutally tortured at an interrogation center of the military security service, mistakenly placed with detainees who are suspected members of the Muslim Brotherhood, and then sent to the “desert prison”. He will not learn what precise crime he had been accused of until close to the time of his release. Like many prisoners, Mustafa discovers and masters the skill of oral composition and memorization. He has no paper and no pen. But throughout his detention, in his mind, he composes his diaries, memorizes them word by word and sentence by sentence, and retains each entry in his memory until he is eventually able to record them on paper after his release. Except for the very beginning, the novel is composed of these dated entries—some just a day or two apart and some separated by several months. Each entry contains parenthetical observations—editorial comments or additions that the narrator makes to his own memorized composition, seemingly at a later point in time. Mustafa is never sentenced by a court, and he is never placed on trial, but he will spend twelve years in the desert prison. He is however, sentenced to silence by his fellow detainees, when he is overheard telling his torturers that first, he is a Christian and then declaring himself an atheist and therefore in no way affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

The subtitle of the novel is Diary of a Voyeur that describes the state of mind Kahlifa lived in for 12 years, building his shelter as a sanctuary for peace at the time he was afraid of being murdered.

Important Questions to ask:

Some of the most important questions that should be asked by everyone who read The Shell and is following the Syrian revolution are:

1-What is the role of the enforcement of complete submission: eyes on the ground, no move without asking permission, humiliation. And their significant as disciplinary techniques that diagnose the prisoners into enemies or loyal citizens depending on their willingness to cooperate.

2-What is the concept of power in Syrian prisons? What are the thematics of a political Arabian Prison?


The Shell and the modern civil War/revolution in Syria:

It is hard to read The Shell without relating it to the daily events of Syria today. Now that the Syrian people have taken to the streets, the crisis of apathy – or what looked like apathy – is over. But even as a host of urgent new questions are arising in Syria, Khalifa’s doubts echo a political moment that has not yet ended. It was one in which state oppression was publicly, but silently, understood. There has been much talk about silence in Syria, the very real culture of fear, but Khalifa’s bitter questions get at a neglected consequence of this silence for society more broadly. The trouble with the silence of the people walking by is that you just can’t tell: are they afraid…or ignorant? Do they oppose violent regime tactics, or do they support them in their hearts? The bigger question is will the Syrian people continue their silence in the current events allowing the victory of another dictatorial regime? An intellectual point of view is that ” This silence is being forced into extinction as the regime’s increasingly brutal response to the uprising polarizes the country. Some have stepped into the open to initiate the complex process of building a political culture that would encompass difference and disagreement in Syria.”



Finally, what is emphatically not debatable is that the decision of the community to neglect their voices under the ruling of a tyrant regime is what will destroy them. But this is no longer happening, the community has spoken and accumulated its ability to assert a collective ruling with the freedom of choice, justice and democracy. But while fearing their fates, will the community obey the injustice pyramid of power by deleting and canceling the significance of their voices?. Syria is living is juxtaposition; there is an atmosphere of rebellion and an atmosphere of total fear and complete submission that threatens to disrupt the shell; in this case Syria. The Shell by Mustafa Khalifa gave a spark for the people to think about and consider, but it all comes down to raising ones voice against oppression.

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