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When society is made up of men who know no interior solitude it can no longer be held together by love: and consequently it is held together by a violent and abusive authority. But when men are violently deprived of the solitude and freedom which are their due, the society in which they live becomes putrid, it festers with servility, resentment and hate.
A World I Loved: The Story of an Arab Woman | by Wadad Makdisi Cortas
The images are extracts from the text which stood out to me in particular. Click to enlarge.
Wadad writes a truly stunning memoir of her life and time spent in the Middle East, Europe and the ties it had between North Africa also.
This isn’t really a review; more so, it is a short write up on how reading this text made me feel.
For the first time in a very long time, I felt enamoured with a writer, figure and the words written on the page like no other time before. I tend to keep my reading list fresh week in, week out, yet this has been the first text in a while where I genuinely wished it hadn’t ended.
The writer, Wadad, writes with such passion, enthusiasm. Unfazed by what her counterparts may think or say of it. She has her (educated) opinions on a vast amount of topics, and isn’t afraid to express them. Her role as a hard-hitting head teacher of an all girl’s high school was testimony to her vast knowledge as well as strong demeanour.
To my delight, I spotted a photo of a young Edward Said in the text amongst a family of Lebanese and Palestinians. He was in fact, married to Wadad’s daughter. She doesn’t mention him at all; this is only mentioned by Wadad’s daughter Mariam Said (Edward’s wife). Mariam speaks of how Wadad avoided attracting attention to the fact that Edward was her son in law - instead preferring to refer to him as ‘the scholar Edward Said’.
I felt a lot of similarity between myself and her. She, as with myself, felt a great connection to her roots. She prided herself in learning, writing, teaching and living the culture she was brought up in (Lebanon). The clash of French rule, against that of British rule yet still holding on to her Arab identity and religion (Christian).
Her story of course moves between the 1930’s to around 1970 in the Middle East and North Africa. Though this time frame is way before my birth, it still resonated lot with me. Almost like I had lived it, or empathised greatly with it. She makes a lot of heavy reference to the French rule of Algeria during the fight for independence, and how (as sometimes, it is completely disregarded or skipped from history texts) that many of the Arab states such as Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq were vehemently with Algeria and the want for an independent Algerian state. She talks of how she meets Algerians in Paris during her time in France. Their excitement when they find out that she too speaks Arabic. Their ability to break free from a totally French identity for just a few minutes (both herself and the Algerians) made me rejoice: any excuse to parade your own culture is worth so much.
Aside from my excitement at seeing the Maghreb mentioned fiercely throughout (mentions of Morocco and the French keeping military bases stationed in Tunisia); I also learned a lot about the Levant, and Iraq. Though these places have always been at the top of my reading, political and linguistic agenda, to be able to hear about it from the mouth of a woman who experienced all of these during a war was wonderful. The relationship between Beirut residents, Damascus families, Palestinian farmers and Iraqi merchants exemplified it as one huge community. In fact, that is always what the Arab world held strongly as a social moral and value: family To hear her speak of the tight bonds created between these different yet similar people made my heart soar. Not only did my heart soar, it also ached greatly. All of this love and passion for ones people, country, blood and language was being expressed in the midst of British, French, American and Israeli invasion.
Wadad’s world was a blend of Muslims, Christians and Jews, who all worked and lived with one another. The Iraqi Jew did not shy away from helping his Palestinian Christian neighbour, and the Muslim Jordanian was just around the corner to lend a helping hand also.
This painted vividly exactly what I needed to read: cohesion is and has been possible. As humanity, never mind separate nations, we have lost our way. I think for many, we don’t even know what battles we’re fighting anymore. Just pick a side and see what happens.
A World I Loved: The Story of an Arab Woman is available as an English language memoir, and Arabic language memoir.
The illusion of asymmetric insight makes it seem as though you know everyone else far better than they know you, and not only that, but you know them better than they know themselves. You believe the same thing about groups of which you are a member. As a whole, your group understands outsiders better than outsiders understand your group, and you understand the group better than its members know the group to which they belong
The Internet’s Population Doubled Over the Last Five Years
Royal Pingdom susses out some interesting trends about the world’s 2.27 billion Internet users:
- Africa has gone from 34 million to 140 million, a 317% increase.
- Asia has gone from 418 million to over 1 billion, a 143% increase.
- Europe has gone from 322 million to 501 million, a 56% increase.
- The Middle East has gone from 20 to 77 million, a 294% increase.
- North America has gone from 233 to 273 million, a 17% increase.
- Latin America (South & Central America) has gone from 110 to 236 million, a 114% increase.
- Oceania (including Australia) has gone from 19 to 24 million, a 27% increase.
They also note that Asia’s Internet population is almost double the entire Internet population was in 2007.
A new online video has called on Asma al-Assad, the wife of Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, to stand up for peace and stop her husband’s brutal crackdown on anti-government demonstrators.
The video was conceived and produced by Huberta von Voss-Wittig, the wife of the German ambassador to the United Nations, and Sheila Lyall Grant, the wife of the UK ambassador.
Both countries have taken a hard line against Assad and Syria at the UN, and now Voss-Wittig and Lyall Grant are coming down just as hard on Asma al-Assad, who has stood by her husband.
Al Jazeera’s Kristen Saloomey reports from New York.
"Racist" cake and accountable politicians
We hear your reaction to whether a cake in Sweden is “racist” & ask should politicians be held personally responsible for actions they take on behalf of their government?