Showing posts with label Islam. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Islam. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

This Lebanese Film Looks Hysterical

Laughter might be the only tool to fight hatred."In a remote Lebanese village, Muslim and Christian women band together to prevent their men from killing each other."

Monday, May 9, 2011

Exiting Cairo

The alleged cause of deadly violence against Egypt's minority Coptic Orthodox Christians over the weekend mirrors themes in Cairo Exit, a gripping film we saw in New York's Tribeca Film Fest two weeks ago.
Update from the Economist 5/11: the latest Christian-Muslim conflict "in the Cairo slum of Imbaba on May 7th, left 12 people dead, more than 200 injured and several churches smashed, with one burned to cinders along with Christian-owned shops and homes. The trouble began when a small group of Salafists—Muslims inspired by Saudi-style puritanism ... marched on a church in response to rumours that a female convert to Islam had been kidnapped and was being held there.” The churches: St. Menas church in the slum and a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, according to the UK's Daily Mail.
In the movie, a Coptic girl and a Muslim guy, both from slums, fall in love and their only hope is escape from Egypt, to Greece, where the economically-frustrated masses blame immigrants for problems. There is no exit!
I won't tell you how Cairo Exit ended, but Egyptian-American Director Hesham Issawi shot the film before the revolution in Egypt raged; read his insights on the Tribeca Film Fest blog.
Copts were protected under former President Mubarak, they were loyal, and now they are suffering the consequences. I've heard people say that Copts are resented because a number of them are rich, though there are more Christians in slums.
The violence is not new. In 1996, I talked with Copts who feared reprisals just for talking with me about a new Coptic Church near Palatine, Illinois for the Chicago Tribune. The design was based on a Cairo church. I also included a Coptic timeline that's still online.
Here's the Wall Street Journal's sad slide show on the weekend events and the WSJ article . Also, a WSJ Feb 1 piece with more background including December bombings.
Also: one blogger's review of Cairo Exit. Cairo Exit is an official selection of the European Independent Film Fest 2011 according to Facebook, but it's not released yet. No trailers, no Netflix.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Turkey As Model For Egypt?

The New York Times offers up Turkey as the model for Egypt's reformation - with a twist of Islam. Fascinating that the first quote comes from a formerly objective journalist, Hugh Pope, who is now an apologist for Turkey. The model offers little hope for Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Christians. Will Copts continue to live without adequate protection, and dwindle in numbers -- and in unsavory ways -- like the minorities trapped in the demise of Ottoman Turkey? In Alexandria, a church bomb killed more than 20 in December, the most recent on a long list of intimidations.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I Read Too Much Today

As things "wind down" in Iraq, reflections on Baghdad journalists who lost their lives.

How the multi-billionaire Koch brothers are financing think-tanks, Tea Party rallys and Libertarian causes with inocuous-sounding organizations. The August 23 New Yorker (summarized in August 29 New York Times OpEd)

The bed bug beat: desperate people are setting houses ablaze. The Wall Street Journal

India's second quarter economic growth was near 8.8%, yet a diarrhea outbreak is killing people and 900 are sick. (Wall Street Journal story and video)

Obituary of Colin Tennant, a Caribbean bon-vivant who lived off the industrial success of his Scottish forebears. In New York Social Diary

Times wedding announcement for Dr. Mehmet Oz's daughter, who married a Chicago man in Serbian Orthodox and Swedenborgian ceremonies. Dr. Oz once said he has an affinity for Sufi Islam, with his Turkish roots, but apparently three was a crowd.

The fine print on Yoga Bunny Detox drink: "Best when chilled, as indeed we all are." (From Pret A Manger, coming to Chicago soon.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Celebrity Geneology

Finally, some reality television with a reasonbly intelligent and emotional component, albeit celebrity, produced by Lisa Kudrow, to get the show on the Networks. Looks like the heritage stories on Who do You Think You Are, to be aired on NBC starting March 5 at 8 p.m. EST, weigh heavily on African American and Jewish heritage, (Kudrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, Spike Lee, Brooke Shields). Comparing the NBC Website preview to the geneology program PBS has been airing, Faces of America, it's like Hollywood vs. Harvard. The New York Post called Faces of America "a cheek-swab 'Charlie Rose Show.' " An examplary must-listen: American doctor and son of Turkish immigrants Mehmet Oz, as he explains the secular and religious in Turkey and his affinity for the mysticism of Sufi Islam. His wife also is interested in mysticism as a "Swedenborg" Protestant, he says. Faces of America airs Wednesdays on PBS through March 3 from 8 - 9 p.m. EST on PBS, and you can watch the first two episodes online, as well as some interesting video outtakes ... Queen Noor of Jordan, chef Mario Battali and more.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Islam in Turkey

World Focus tonight posted a story on Islam's rising influence in Turkey. It's not possible for a country to be totally secular, and the story conveys how difficult it is for Turks - raised since the 1920s to deny the role of faith in society - to accept that religious groups should feed the poor and provide them medical care. But the story also addresses the problem you would expect with repression: evidence of extremism within some Turkish Islamic groups. Needless to say, when it comes to providing a place for Orthodox Christians or Jews in Turkish society, everyone is suddenly secular. Nice job to the journalists behind the project: none other than fellow Knight-Bagehot Bryan Myers, the producer, and a friend of a friend, Gizem Yarbil, who reported the story. Nice assignment!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


A good video from a Time columnist on "Happy Muslim Men, and Women who confuse you." She balks at media images that exclusively portray stereotypes of bearded angry men and women covered head-to-toe in black. One that struck me recently: a U.S. newspaper photo of dour choir girls standing behind the Pope on his recent visit to Israel. It wasn't staged, but it was another deliberate click of the shutter.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Combating Fear

Last week when I was wandering alone on the dark, stone lanes of Old Jerusalem, or in a conservative Istanbul neighborhood, I didn't feel courageous. But several people very close to me have admired my courage for going to both places. I wasn't courageous, or foolish. Journalists in Gaza, Israeli soldiers in Gaza, those who choose to live in Gaza -- that's courage. It's just that we are so isolated in America, it's easy to get sucked into the never-ending headlines without juxtaposing them with the everyday reality beyond Gaza's rockets. Consider these headlines from recent days: From Turkey, "More Arrested in alleged plot by Turkish ultranationalists to bring down the Islamic-rooted government." (Wall Street Journal) Turkish fighter jets danced over Greek territory. As for Israel: Gaza rockets have gotten within 20 miles of Tel Aviv, warning sirens went off in Jerusalem Wednesday (erroneously, says the Jerusalem Post) and the Palestinian death toll is approaching 1,000. But even in a "dangerous" place, and I wouldn't call Istanbul or even Jerusalem that, everyday life goes on. I definitely was scared when I arrived in Jerusalem because there were things on fire in the street. But at the wedding in Tel Aviv, there wasn't any security. Four of us got lost and entered the celebration through the kitchen without question. The bottom line is we can't live in constant fear of isolated terrorism, even if, today, Osama Bin Laden is urging a holy war over Gaza. I'm glad I am home. Then again, the New York Times suggests moving to Istanbul: look what $800,000 buys!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Don’t Fear the Reaper

OLD CITY OF JERUSALEM, Israel - In the dark of a cold January night in Jerusalem’s Old City, I found myself at the tomb of Christ, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre tonight. I walked there completely alone on desolate cobblestone paths. I found it by accident, walked in after a small negotiation partly in Greek, and there were no lines, competing guards or services. It was a coup, a miracle – I started to cry – truly the experience was “awesome.” There are dangling, sterling lamps overhead – scores of them – and at the small marble tomb, I was able to briefly kneel totally alone and pray. In quiet. Can you imagine? This never, ever happens for Christian pilgrims. But because of the tense security situation today, the first Friday of prayer for Muslims since the Israeli bombings of Gaza began, Jerusalem’s Old City was in lockdown. Right as I walked out, an Italian tour of 50 was trying to get into the Sepulchre church.
That was the exception to a city otherwise still and divided between Arab and Jew moreso than usual, by all counts. I didn’t see many Christians at all. At dusk, I walked from the Mount of Olives, through the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus spent his last hours with his disciples and made my way through the imposing stone Lion’s Gate into the Arab Quarter. The area was desolate and the first thing I saw in Jerusalem. I couldn’t help but realize that I was privileged to be there: how many of my Jewish friends wouldn’t or couldn’t do that walk, alone at night – especially on a tense day like today? And how many women just plain wouldn’t take that walk? Only a few young men walking with commitment to their destination were around me. The polished cobblestone streets were mostly empty, the tourist souks and shops mostly closed, the food stands – and I am only imagining this because of what I didn’t see. I was headed for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the gate road turned into Via Dolorosa, but I took a left somehow and ended up at the security checkpoint for the Western Wall as swarms of Hasidim in massive hats whooshed by. By essentially coming in the back door to it, I avoided the Dung Gate lines that were about really, really dense. There were young Israeli soldiers everywhere, boys and girls, with rifles casually slung on their shoulders, over their baggy coats and cargo pants. No men under the age of 50 were allowed to enter the old city today – especially to the mosque at prayer time – but there were busloads of Birthright Israel kids at the Wall. And groups of Orthodox and Hasidic men, on their side, were dancing and singing and jumping at the wall. When I left, walking backwards from the Wall in respect, I stopped into the first café I could, and they had those mahmool date cookies I love. After I asked for directions to the Holy Sepulchre, the cashier seemed relieved to have me as a customer in his empty shop and gave me the cookie as a gift. Imagine that thousands of people pass his café-restaurant, just beyond the plaza where people worship at the wall, and his shop was empty today. Arab vs. Jew. I bought packaged hummus, toursi and pita with zatar at a grocery, and took a cab to the hotel from the Damascus Gate where about a dozen Israeli army guards lingered, eating mandarin oranges.