The Washington Post‘s new on-line feature "PostGlobal," which is being moderated by David Ignatius and Fareed Zakaria, is hosting a debate this week on the replacement for Kofi Annan as UN chief. As I blogged previously, Jordan’s prince Zeid bin Ra’ad is among the candidates to replace Annan. Though he has an outside chance, he’s well qualified, having earned his BA in Poli-Sci at Johns
Hopkins and a PhD in history from Cambridge. He served as Jordan’s
deputy permanent representative before his current permanent representative post. As a UN chief, Prince Zeid would most likely put the Middle East crises on the global agenda. In this day and age, this is more than needed.
The Post debate is ongoing, though I couldn’t help but notice there there doesn’t seem to be much support for the prince. Here are few snippets from what readers are saying. Veteran journalist Daoud Kuttab said:
If the international community is serious about solving the Palestinian conflict then it should vote for the Jordanian candidate. Judging from the UN’s record, it seems unlikely that a Jordanian official — even a Hashemite prince — can do much, but it might be worth giving this seemingly intractable problem a chance to find a permanent solution.
On the other hand, if the position of the UN General Secretary is little more than a representative of the world conscience, then the smooth-tailing, experienced Indian candidate will probably prove more successful.
Another comment that caught my eye is one from Patrick in Egypt, who is not that excited about having a Jordanian chief.
I honestly think that South Korea’s leader will be the most impartial and suitable leader. Jordan’s leader should be ruled out. We’ve had an Arab Secretary-General in the 1990s (Boutros Boutros Ghali of Egypt) and having another one so soon would be understandably unfair. Furthermore, Prince Zeid would be too closely involved in a region that will probably be the focal point of many important and controversial UN measures. The UN can’t survive allegations of bias or unfairness.
Reader Christina notified me of a "nationality campaign" blog that was launched here in Washington DC last week. The blog, found here, features six organizations in the Middle East and North Africa that are working towards changing legislation so that women are granted equal citizenship rights. According to Christina, the aim of the blog is to create a network of concerned citizens that want to work together for change and to produce a constant resource for women and human rights activists dedicated to this issue.
I think this is a wonderful idea. Raising awareness about the rights of women to grant citizenship to their children is highly needed. Stripping me of the right to pass my kids Jordanian nationality means that every single time my future children (who have a non-Jordanian father) decide to visit Jordan they will need a tourist visa! If they ever decide to live in Jordan then they will need to get a residency permit, which would not be granted to them automatically. It is a long and hectic process! However, children of Jordanian men married to foreign women are granted nationality automatically. Sexism at its best!
Hat tip: [Euroarabe]
I had the opportunity to meet Moroccan author Laila Lalami face-to-face the other day in Washington, and I must say that she is extremely admirable and more impressive in the flesh than in cyberspace. She was in Washington, DC this past Thursday to read some excerpts from her debut novel, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits (signed copies link), which I read several months back and liked very much. I enjoyed her reading immensely as I did the discussions that followed. Lalami eloquently managed to answer every question directed at her, the majority of which came from euroarabe.
One question someone asked was who she has in mind as her audience when she writes. Her reply was simply: "I write for myself. I am my ideal audience." I thought the answer was brilliant because as an aspiring fiction writer myself I tend to fall into the trap of thinking a great deal about my audience, something that can sometimes make me feel mentally impotent. I end up failing to jot down anything for fear of retribution from a certain individual or a group. I think I will try her method and think solely of myself when I write.
It was also fascinating for me to see the large amount of her blog readers who showed up at the event. She got a great deal of praise for her blog from the audience with one describing her site as "the best literary blog out there." Following the reading, I had a quick but pleasant chat with Laila in which we exchanged compliments and pleasantries and took a couple of pictures. The husband and I wrapped up the evening with a nice dinner in DuPont Circle with some wonderful friends, including Basboos, Leilouta and her husband, euroarabe, and another non-blogger friend of ours. All in all it was a perfect day in the city.
Leilouta has already discussed the embarrassing incident of several days ago, exposing my footwear dilemma (and Hal’s shoe supply service), so I’m not going to dwell on it here, as I’ve yet to recover. Instead, I will focus this post on the wonderful time we had during our Metro area female Arab blogger meet-up here in the nation’s capital this past weekend.
Those who attended the meeting were Beisan, Hala, Leilouta and yours truly. We had a truly wonderful time, hitting it off as if we’d known each other for years. We talked mostly about blogs (of course), Arab politics (what else!) and life in the US. Joking about our different accents also dominated the discussions [can we really avoid that?].
Sometimes it really blows my mind when I think about the number of truly amazing people I’ve been fortunate enough to meet through this remarkable outlet called blogging. Life never ceases to amaze me.