‘Where is equality?’

Equalityhome_3Freedom House is running a new nationwide advertising campaign in Jordan that asks "Where is equality?"

The campaign, featured in popular magazines and television commercials, uses a long blue bar and a short pink bar to represent the rights afforded to men and women. Badges featuring the campaign’s logo encourage people to ask about the meaning.

The year-long campaign is part of Freedom House’s "Together Achieving Women’s Advancement in Services, Opportunities and Legal Rights" program.

Source: [Freedom House]

This is a highly needed initiative since, sadly enough, Jordanian women are still not treated equally when it comes to issues of inheritance, citizenship, and others. I admire the work of Freedom House, especially when it comes to highlighting the issue of press freedom violations around the world. However, I wish this campaign had been initiated on a local level, as I believe local campaigns have a higher impact on the general population.

Morcheeba Live: As good as ever

Morcheeba plays the 9:30 Club Since moving to the US nearly three years ago, I have not had a chance to see many live concerts. I saw The Gypsy Kings live on my 30th birthday at Wolf Trap and really enjoyed it. Back then, I made it a point to see more concerts, but we got busy and did not have the time or energy to commit to attending major events.

However, things are getting less chaotic here at the Tynes House. We are slowly settling into our new home and Spring is almost here, which means time for some fun. So last week, we made our way to the 9:30 Club in DC to see Morcheeba, a band I discovered through Pandora, live.

I have been listening to Morcheeba for a year now and they have made their way to the top of the list of my favorite bands. I can listen to their album Big Calm over and over again and it always makes me smile. My favorite songs: The Sea, Friction and Blindfold. Played live, the band sounded fantastic. They were as good as the recording. The performance of the lead guitarist was impressive, as was the performance of the fairly new lead singer.

The only disappointment was the audience. Few of them seemed fully engaged, which I attribute to the uptight nature of DC in general. I felt I stood out somehow because I was among the few that knew all the lyrics and swayed constantly to the music. Although the concert was sold out and people seemed happy when they left, I wondered if the crowd uptightness was a DC thing or it was because it was a Monday. Regardless, we had a great time. I will definitely keep my eyes open for upcoming live concerts. The picture here was from the hubby’s mobile phone from our balcony seat.

Meanwhile, I continue listening to Pandora. I recently discovered a band called Bitter:Sweet, which plays chilled out trip-hop tunes that appeal to me. The advent of online customized radio stations such as Pandora and last.fm is making my life more enjoyable, that’s for sure!

Good Friday or Sad Friday?

While I was having a discussion with Jeff about Good Friday this morning, I realized that Good Friday (which I believe is the Western term) is called “Sad Friday” or Aljoumaa Al Hazeeneh (الجمعة الحزينة) in Arabic. I have never noticed this before.

I guess Sad Friday makes more sense (to me at least), as it is the day of the crucifixion. But then again in the Christian faith it is the start of good things to come. This difference in cultural perspective is really intriguing, no?

Anyway, be it Good Friday or Sad Friday, Happy Easter everyone.

The slow demise of press freedom in Jordan

I lost hope in freedom of the press in Jordan a long time ago. I can’t remember exactly when but I think it goes back to my early twenties when I first joined the ranks of repressed Jordanian journalists. I have written about violations of press freedom on this blog many times, then I got tired of it. Until when, really? Things seem to be going from bad to worse.

From the whole fiasco of ATV to suing AmmanNet, I do not see any bright future for the press in Jordan. I decided to write about the most recent press violation, the sentencing of four journalists to prison, for two reasons.

  1. I find it ironic that after Jordan proudly announced that journalists would not be sent to jail, the trend continues using other legal artillery, the Penal Code rather than the Press and Publications Law.
  2. One of the journalists sentenced, Osama El Sherif, was my boss for my many years and was the one who trained me and taught me the tricks of the trade. What’s baffling in this case is that the journalists’ crime is publishing a news item "about a citizen who filed a motion with the Higher Judicial Council against the judges of the Higher Court of Justice, who had upheld a decision by the Civil Status and Passport Department depriving the plaintiff from his citizenship." Since when is reporting on a court case a crime in Jordan? I’m baffled. 

Anyway, enough about this. Talking about press freedom in Jordan is simply pointless. There’s more on Lina’s blog.

Good news: A prize for the best Arab fiction

I was extremely pleased to learn of the existence of the brand new "International Prize for Arabic Fiction," which this year went to Egyptian author Baha Taher for his book Sunset Oasis. According to Bloomberg, "The $50,000 prize, announced at a ceremony in Abu Dhabi, aims to secure recognition for outstanding Arabic authors and to ensure that their works will be translated."

The list of finalists includes:

  • June Rain by Jabbour Douaihy (Lebanon)
  • The Land of Purgatory by Elias Farkouh (Jordan)
  • In Praise of Hatred by Khaled Khalifa (Syria)
  • Walking in the Dust by May Menassa (Lebanon)
  • Swan Song by Mekkaoui Said (Egypt)
  • Sunset Oasis by Baha Taher (Egypt)

Yes, I’m pleased to see a Jordanian on that list. This is really great news for Arab fiction and it is highly needed. I always enjoy reading Arab fiction. I have enjoyed it still more while here in the US since it is so hard to find. My friends and family have been extremely generous in providing me with the latest in Arab contemporary fiction. For that I’m truly grateful. Now I’d love to get my hands on a copy of Elias Farkouh’s The Land of Purgatory. Can anyone hear me?

Hat tip: [Moorish Girl]