Obsession with hate!

It seems that someone is trying to build on the hate triggered towards us in the US by distributing 28 million DVD!

Ali brought this to my attention and asked me to publisize the anti hate campaign that was started with the aim to stand up against the hate DVD.

Check Out the Obssesion with hate website and take action here

We are a nation that are desperate for peace. We are a nation of love and harmony. We are people who want to live and create. Let us fight those who tries to manipulate us and distort our beautiful nature.

Is it the time for ‘A Jihad for love’?

Looking at the current world affairs, one would notice that homosexuality is gaining moral ground each day. It happens at the same time where Islam is losing moral ground due to some fanatic extremists who took over custody of the religion and flattened the beautiful sides of Jihad to demonstrate a state of terror.

This post isn’t meant to compare between a sexual orientation and a religion. The only common ground between the two, are the headlines that they are making in the media around the globe. There is no denial that there is a mass interest in both identities.

It comes to no surprise the emergence of films like ‘Jihad for Love’. ‘Jehad for Love’ is a documentary films that highlights the lives of several people around the world who identifies themselves to be Muslims and homosexuals at the same time. Despite the contradiction that arises when someone hears both words as Islam forbade homosexuality, and homosexual acts defies Islamic rules, those people in the film refuses to let go any of their identities. How would they when religion can be as strong as a definition of their own life, and when homosexuality is part of their inner body nature rather than an immoral tendency?

The films takes us to South Africa where a Muslim Imam who happened to be married and have children come to realize his homosexuality. I know that the mere existence of such a man, or even mentioning him, would be perceived as an offence to many Muslim people. He, himself, seems to realize that, but he wasn’t ready to quite his mission as a servant of Allah, and he wasn’t ready as well to betray his own nature. He decided to be as honest as a real human can be, he studied his scriptures and found a common ground between his religion and sexual orientation, he found his inner peace and decided to take it to public. He came out to the Muslim South African community. He was faced with rage and death threats, but he decided to fight. He believed in his moral cause not just because it suits his homosexual nature, but because he believed that this is what is good for his religion: His belief in the sexual tolerance of Islam and its necessity for the religion itself. He knew his Jihad, and went after it.

In the same sense, the film takes us to Iran and the flee of a homosexual Muslim guy from prosecution by the government to Turkey and how he seek asylum to Canada because his life was threatened. It then highlights the life of two lesbian Muslim women living in Turkey and shows their religious side and their love for each other. It takes us as well to France and highlights the life of Mazen the Egyptian Muslim guy who has been prosecuted for the Queen boat incident in Egypt and now is living in France for his people and country failed him.

The beauty of the film lies in the human essence of those people. The taken scenes of them praying in mosks and refusing to abandon their religion is very human. It shows us the real strength of Islam. Because, despite the global assault on it, a 1500 years old religion must be deep enough to come up over the bruises caused by its enemies and its distorted loyalists.

Islam needs more people to ‘jihad’ (fight) for love. The title of the film is beautiful, not in the essence of just same sex love, but in the essence of what Islam needs at this point of time. Those homosexuals, and despite of their people failing them, are coming out to the world and declaring the beautiful face of Islam. This is a true ‘Jihad’, and it is beautiful.

Nermeen Murad on the Books@Cafe issue – Jordan Times

I loved this article from the Jordan Times

Nermeen Murad

If you want to find out what is really happening in Jordan, you must read the blogs. Newspapers and Jordan Television obviously think that it is not their job to allow discussion of any controversy or draw attention to anything that in any way can be construed as “rocking the boat”.

The job of the local press is to publish the statements of senior officials verbatim, laud those senior officials and, for a bit of colour, attack former officials for not being as efficient as the current ones. Now, obviously this is cyclical and therefore today’s most lauded official could very easily be tomorrow’s most hated, and then back on the favoured list, and so on.
But the local press doesn’t only feel it is not its job to criticise officials; it also ignores controversial issues that stir the wrath of the traditionally conservative forces in the country, be they tribal or religious.

So the illegal shutting down of a licensed restaurant in Amman during Ramadan wouldn’t make it into the newspapers because, firstly, “who cares about this bourgeois restaurant anyway” and, secondly, “the young people who hang out there are immoral, are not fasting during Ramadan, shouldn’t be allowed to behave as they wish” or any of the statements that basically mean if we don’t go there and they aren’t like us, why should we protect their rights or their business? Especially if it also means that we would be lambasted by a religious cleric or tribal dignitary for daring to go there.

So upholding the law depends on who this law affects and, more importantly, whether we morally approve of that person. The rights of a restaurant owner are just not important. The rights of a woman who wants to divorce her husband are not important. The rights of the child of an illegal relationship are not important. The rights of a woman being denied her inheritance are not important. The rights of a domestic servant are not important. The rights of a foreign labourer are not important and, of course, how can I forget the rights of a Jordanian woman married to a foreigner which are also irrelevant.

Books@café just off the Rainbow Street, leading to the 1stCircle, was one of the first projects that drew people back to the old areas of Amman and contributed to the increased interest in its preservation. It was also one of the first projects in Amman to marry culture and intellectual pursuit (in this case reading) with a hospitality service.

It acquired its own character through years of hosting generations of youth in its warm environment that started by providing a coffee, a book and an astounding view combination to a cult-like hangout for the artsy crowd of Amman.

During the month of Ramadan, blogs in the know tell us, Books@café was closed by what the owners and the blog writers believe is a vindictive and disapproving official, in contravention of their licence, which would have allowed them to remain open during this month.

The “inspector official” apparently made the comment that the place was immoral and should have been shut long ago. His yardstick for morality in no way infers that this is a place of vice or disrepute, only that it just didn’t conform to his own personal moral code.

We all know that in a country like Jordan there are sectors of society that live according to completely different moral and religious codes. A short walk along any of the city’s streets will reveal ladies covered in black garb with only slits for their hardly visible eyes, women in floor length jackets and headscarf, women in long dresses with a colourful headscarf, women in tight jeans, bouffant type headscarves and makeup, women in jeans, trousers, knee-length skirts, really short skirts, long sleeves shirts, short sleeves shirts and sleeveless. You will also find men in short thobs with slip-on shoes and long beards, men in suits and moustaches, men without moustaches, in jeans, shorts, etc. All these people, with the different moral implications of their dress or undress, carry Jordanian passports and belong to the legal structure that governs our lives. They all have different beliefs under the predominantly two monotheistic beliefs.
If we the people of Jordan want to preserve our freedom to practise our moral and religious preference, we have to protect the freedom of the others to practise theirs. If I want to swim and wear a bathing suit freely in Aqaba, I have to protect the right of the woman who wants to swim in a Sharia-compliant bathing suit or even not swim at all, and vice versa.

The government, through the equitable and fair application of the law, and the media, by bringing forward and reporting any infringements on these freedoms, are the foremost guardians of these personal freedoms. In the case of Books@café, both failed to protect the Jordanian citizen from injustice and bowed down to the threats of those who do not see a place for freedom and democracy in Jordan.

Closing of Books@Cafe!

This is INSANE!

Written By: Madian al Jazerah, co-owner of Books@Cafe

This is about where we stand in hypocrisy and bigotry…and where we will be if we remain quiet.
Books@Cafe and many other establishments have been closed this week. Here is what I witnessed and what happened to us at Books@Cafe:
The night before Ramadan, the police violently stormed into the café and asked us to close down. “This is the holy month of Ramadan!” they barked. Since we are officially licensed and they could provide no official papers, we refused to close.

This is the third year we operate, fully licensed by the Ministry of Tourism and the Hotel and Restaurant Association. This is very important, because we are categorized as 3-star tourist, with recent faxes from the Ministry endorsing the permit to operate all day with regular food and drink service, including alcohol.

Last Wednesday, we hear that a security committee (Al lajna al amnia) has been formed and comprises of 3 groups: The Hotel and Restaurant Association, the Ministry of Tourism, and the Governate. All three must be present when this committee goes out to inspect.
That Wednesday night, the new committee barged into Books@Cafe (making sure every one saw them) and bullying everyone with their looks and comments.
They then walked into the kitchen while many of us including my brother were standing and witnessing.
One person proceeds to tell our chef that there are cockroaches, insects, mice in the kitchen. Every one was baffled and were telling him to show us what he was talking about! Of course there was nothing, but with every accusation, he ordered one of his committee members to write it down and then adds, “let them get what they deserve for serving alcohol in this holy month.”

Our chef kept asking the guy to show him where he saw cockroaches, mice, however the inspector was not there to listen; he was just there to write us up and penalize us.

Despite the fact that only representatives from the Ministry and the Governate were there – no one from the Hotel and Restaurant Association. The guy then tells us we should not be serving alcohol on the terrace; we immediately pulled all liquor sales indoors.
Sunday night, we get shocked with the visit from the police with an order to close. There was no reason within the order. Of course, they only come at night so that there is no one to call or anything to do.
When we showed them our papers, they kept calling us a night club. We are licensed as a restaurant. To them, if alcohol is served, then it is a night club. This is the logic we encountered, regardless of the fully accredited and legal license.
To our shock, the order started with the same Ministry of Tourism representative who received us like we were dirt at the ministry.
He had sent a document with 18 accusations at us including the basic cockroaches, insects etc. Including another accusation “jalsat 7ameema wa tabadol al qubal.” Roughly translated into “intimate gatherings and exchange of kissing.” He also mentions that someone told him to go and form his prayer ablutions with beer! The document stated that this was all happening on the terrace, in public and in front of us and everyone! The guy was lying through his teeth!
For now Books@Cafe is closed.

We are trying to get the license to reopen and have to send a “ister7am” as in begging for mercy for something we were legally doing and licensed by our ministry to do. To date the Ministry of Tourism and the Hotel and Restaurant Association have done nothing. The star rating system they have created has no value or protection.

Any comments on our system? Do we pay a rashwa to get things done or do we fight to make Jordan and our system fully protect our rights? Or do we just close up and leave the country and lose all our love and loyalty to Jordan? I prefer to fight for a better Jordan and I think everyone should do the same. This is my country and I live in it and I will contribute to a better Jordan.

UPDATE: The ministry has a list of 60 places recently closed. Cupid Cafe, Irish Pub and others are included.

Jordanian boys culture and the tawjihi under-achievement!

80% is the ratio of female to male entering the Jordanian public university this year!

That is, in my opinion, *over-achievement* of women calling for equality in a society that suffers from male domination in many different ways.

First of all let’s congratulate the ladies for their success.

But then, such ratio is absurd! One would want a rational explanation of why our male youth are under performing? No?

I think the reasoning of Mr’s Khaled Al Khawaja in Al’Ra’ee news papers yesterday is very sound. There is something wrong in our upraisal system. Girls schools are doing much better than boys schools. They are more disciplined, they have better teachers, and they get better results.

So what is wrong with our upraisal system?

Boys are raised different that girls. They enjoy more mobility freedom, less moral judgement and an emphasized expectation to prove their masculinity in an exaggerated way that is reflected from the worshipping of masculine behaviour from the society at large.

That is all triggered an unhealthy violent culture in between young boys. For breaking the laws has grew as admirable trait in the young male communities. There is a gang culture, and the toughest is the most popular rather than the one with the highest moral values.

A week ago, my little brother’s friends attacked a guy from a different school for insulting their school. The group of boys attacked this single guy brutally where they left him with a broken nose, a broken shoulder and an eye bleeding. All for the sake of proving their masculinity.

Today my mother had to go pick up my little brother early from school because the other school boys are grouping each other and planning to launch a revenge attack.

The incident in itself is a demonstration of our tribal mentality reflected on our young male communities. Schools identities are the road of our boys towards manhood in order to be fit towards their roles in our tribal system.

In the other hand girls do spend more time at home. They have less freedom and a stronger culture for achieving and improving themselves. There is also a kind of social pressure for marriage and a sense of competition where a higher educational achievement reflects a good girl – that is a marriage material.

Would an equal(same) nurturing system result in a more even results? I bet it would. In the meantime, I think the government should pay a closer attention to boy schools and try better disciplinary methods.

The Vatican approves Darwin’s theory!

So now the Vatican, and after 150 years, discovered that Darwin’s theory of natural selection doesn’t contradict the bible’s story of creation and thus they approve it!

It took the Church that long to understand their own scriptures! So how long would it take for Muslim clerks to look deep into the Quran and give the green light for Darwin’s theory?

Is it possible that natural selection doesn’t contradict with the Quran story as well?

Nothing is impossible, no?


"It is against our culture" – Another red card.

“It is against our culture” – Another red card.

How many of us has been faced with this simple sentence when presenting an argument or behavior that is considered outside of the norms of the perspective of the person holding this card?

My intention of this post is to try to address the validity of this argument and its relationship with what we call cultural conflict. I honestly want to debate here my intake on this issue and how I see it more of a social progression rather then a cultural imperialism as some other people see it. I will also try my best not to be as provocative as I have been in other posts.

Let us start by defining culture itself. I went over its definition over wickipedia and picked up the following:

Culture can be “understood as systems of symbols and meanings that even their creators contest, that lack fixed boundaries, that are constantly in flux, and that interact and compete with one another”

The entire Wickipedia page about culture is interesting. It isn’t just the lack of fixed boundaries and the constant flux but also the dynamic nature of cultures is what is really important.

For a lot of us, and for me at a previous stage of my awareness, I used to perceive culture as a static entity, where when anyone referred to *our* culture, I used to think of it as an Arabic Islamic Culture that has been always been the same through out our history and that doesn’t differenciate between the different Arabic and Islamic countries. The general notion of *our* culture is a static projection of our current perception of this culture to cover the entire time and space.

In reality that is very far from truth.

A culture is a dynamic entity – This is very important to understand -. What we call Arabic Islamic Culture these days is different than what Arabic Islamic Culture represented 100 years ago. The nature of cultures is based on the collective sum of all the ways of life at a specified point of time. I added the specified point of time because we all know that “all ways of life” change as we progress in time. It isn’t just that people’s awareness change, but also technological and scientific inventions do have a deep impact on the way people live their lives and thus reflected on the current cultural attributes.

Cultures do as well influence each other. This has been happening through the entire timeline of history. What we call now Arabic Islamic Culture has been influenced by other cultures at different time intervals and has also influenced other cultures as well in the same matter. For instance, what we call Arabic world today used to enjoy more sexual freedom in the 18th century that is has today. The shift of moral codes has been influenced by the European values of the Victorian age.

West and East have never been two separate worlds as the media tries to present it today (especially after 9/11). Cultures from every part of the world have always managed to influence each other. The world culture is more different if you look at it in terms of different historical intervals rather than different point of space. A scientific invention takes no time of spreading all over the world and affecting the different cultures.

Having said that, and looking back to the civil rights people around the world have been able to achieve in the past decades. Gender equality, sexual liberation, and social tolerance have all been part of the progression of the human perception rather than a static cultural attribute that is meant to eat out our own static culture.

I would really want to build a seperation between real social progression and real cultural conflict. I would want to highlight how cultures have been used as much as religions for political agendas and power plays. I would want to erase the inherited fear of colonization that blocks our way. I would want people to realize what is really meant when someone says ‘It is against our culture’!

Action Alert | Ramadan Food Drive


So it’s that time of the year again folks and hopefully we can rally together to make a difference in the lives of a few citizens. The Action Committee has started its food drive for Ramadan and your help is needed! The Ramadan food package is going to cost 20JDs and will contain:

3 kg Rice
3 kg Sugar
2 kg Beans
2 kg Lentils
6 Packs of Pasta
2 Cans Tomato Paste
1 kg Tea
2 A’mar Eldin
1 Oil
½ kg Dates
12 packs Maggie

The drive is underway and will last for the next week or so, depending on the donations. The Action Committee is targeting the last 10 days of Ramadan for distribution.

So tell a friend, tell a family member, tell the neighbor, tell the people at work, even the weird guy who sits in the corner of the office and who no one talks to; this could be your chance.

For bloggers: Forward this message. Post about it. Spread it. Mobilize!

Just like last time, when we went from this, to this. It’ll be interesting to see the extent to which blogs can make a social impact in Jordan.

You can contact Sara at 079-5154498

The Facebook Group

Social movements and the Arab leaders

Social movements in the Arab world have been plagued by the political power play of the Arab leaders and their regimes. Military coups left them wary of any social movement that would gain ground in the street and threaten their leadership. They have been short sighted, and for the fear of their chairs, they ended up destroying social communities, suppressing freedom of speech and killing the dreams of many Arab people who were merely looking for a better future.

Is everyone after the helm? I don’t think so. People would be happy and content having a wise leader taking them forward. Ofcourse, there should be some security measurement to guarantee the stability of a state, after all we all don’t want an insane person to take the lead, do we? But at the same time people need a space to work in, people need freedom to express their opinions and the ability to work for imporving their communities. Good leaders are the one who build on that and support it rather than suppress it.

For ages, Jordanian social communities have been wary of forming any kind of movement, but today things are different. There is a leadership awarnace of the importance of social communities for the progress of the country. There is some kind of support and encouragement for people to get in and help in the development of their sub communities. I guess that we have reached a level of maturity that allows us to gain some social grounds.

Jesus Crist has been the person who had the greatest impact on my thinking and personal beliefs, and while I am not a religious person and don’t really care about his holy nature. I do admire him as a man with a mission of love.

It is the method of his social mission that I value the most. His way of preaching for social change without residing to building power and taking over authority. Something we desperatly need to learn in our societies today.

Real social activits are the ones looking for real social change and not leadership.