The purpose of this blog is to explore cross-cultural Saudi/non-Saudi relationships and their broader Arab-Muslim/Western contexts, as well as the background for improving understanding across these cultures.
Wow! Time flies, and I almost missed congratulating Chez Chiara on turning 6. On the other hand, this year has been very slow in terms of posts, and replies to comments and questions, for which I sincerely apologize.
Chez Chiara has been negatively affected by my health issues, which are resolving--but all too slowly!
Well, not exactly ready to party, but hopeful for a more productive and fun blogging year.
My thanks to all for their patience and kindness.
Let's hope this 6-year-old will be better behaved blog-wise than this 5 year old was!
In the spirit of interfaith celebrations, October 4, 2014 was also the Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan Order, and Patron Saint of Animals and the Environment. His (failed) mission through the Holy Land, and ineffective attempt to convert the 4th Ayyubid Sultan of Egypt, al-Kamil (nephew of Saladin) in an effort to end the conflict of the Crusades, nonetheless left a positive legacy for Franciscans as representatives of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land. Huffington Post celebrates the 3 faith holy day with excellent photos of Jerusalem: Celebrating EidFrancisKippur! Jews, Muslims, And Christians All Have Holidays On Saturday, October 4th
Apple blossoms are one of the flower symbols of eternity, so they are a fitting illustration of this Father's Day post in memory of my father whom I will love for all eternity.
They are also fitting as a more prosaic, and comical (depending on your perspective), of my father's suffering as Dads do, through their wife's and daughter's landscaping instructions. We design, Dads dig, and plant, and dig up, and re-plant. My mother and I once decided a crab apple tree needed to be turned to best suit the backyard aesthetic.
So my father dug up the tree he had planted a number of years before, and turned it this way, and that, and a little more this way, and a little more that, until we were perfectly happy. Then he exploded, "You made me move this tree a quarter of an inch!". I would have protested (from the far side of the yard), but that was exactly how far it was now turned. We confirmed the infinite superiority of its new position, and my Dad re-planted it. We never dared to ask him to turn a tree again--well not that one, anyway.
"Cerisier rose et pommier blanc" which reminds me of both my parents and how they love(d) being together (In English as "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White")
Happy Father's Day
to all fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers, cousins, special friends,
It is often enlightening to view one's own country from the perspective of an outsider. I discovered the article below on Loonwatch. This isn't the first or only time that Canada has made the Loonwatch. However, Haroon Siddiqui's article from his regular column at the Toronto Star, not only meets his usual high standard for insightfulness and accuracy, but provides a summary of recent and current policies by Canada's current Prime Minister that reflect strong biases against Arabs and Muslims--beyond his well known pro-Israeli stance. Siddiqui also situates them within broader strategies of the current government.
I would only add that Harper courts wealthy immigrants in key ridings. as part of an election strategy modeled on that of Karl Rove in the US.
Emilio Morenatti / Associated Press
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s highly publicized trip to the Ukraine on Feb. 28, 2014, is an unapologetically Conservative mission, not a Canadian one, says Haroon Siddiqui.
Stephen Harper governs not so much for Canada as for his Conservative party. He used to do it by stealth. Now he does it openly, like the Republicans in Washington who, in fact, are beginning to pull back from their partisan brinkmanship just as he is bulldozing ahead with greater arrogance.
Take his proposed changes to the Elections Act, which would favour the Conservatives — gut the power of the chief elections officer Marc Mayrand (who had taken the Tories to court for breaking election laws) and make it more difficult for voters to cast ballots but easier for political parties to raise money.
Take John Baird’s highly publicized trip to the Ukraine — an unapologetically Conservative mission, not a Canadian one.
Take the government’s boycott of the opposition from the Aga Khan’s speech Friday at Massey Hall. Even the MP for the riding, Liberal Chrystia Freeland, was frozen out.
All this follows Harper’s recent trip to Israel and the West Bank, which was crassly political in more ways than one.
At one event there, Conservative MP for York Centre, Mark Adler, barred the respected Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, who had gone to Israel on his own dime. Harper’s unusually large delegation of 200 did not have a single Canadian Arab but included a representative of the extremist Jewish Defence League, which works with, among others, the right-wing and Islamophobic British group, English Defence League.
Less known has been Harper’s decision to exclude Baruch Frydman-Kohl, the highly respected rabbi ofthe liberalBeth Tzedec Congregation, one of Toronto’s largest synagogues.
Frydman-Kohl is president of the Toronto Board of Rabbis, which in 2012 denounced the Jewish Defence League for hosting American anti-Islamic blogger Pamela Geller. Describing her views as “distasteful,” the board said that “there was no sense in inviting her here to speak before a Jewish audience.”
Fryman-Kohl clearly does not fit Harper’s definition of a good Canadian Jew, nor does Cotler.
These examples, as others before, fit into a well-established pattern — Harper’s “you are with us or against us” approach to governing; his hijacking of Canadian foreign policy to serve Conservative interests; and his divide-and-conquer tactics of pitting one ethnic community against another.
He was right to honour the Aga Khan, making him an honorary citizen in 2009 and having him speak to Parliament on Thursday and in Toronto on Friday. But the prime minister’s motives are clearly suspect. His wooing of the Ismaili community in Canada follows the pattern of Conservative niche marketing to several other minorities.
He has done so not only with the Jewish community — in the recent provincial byelection in Thornhill won by the Conservatives, many Jewish voters let it be known that they had, in fact, “voted for Harper.” He has also made inroads into the Hindu, Sikh, Bahai, Coptic Christian, Pakistani Christian and Pakistani Ahmadiyyah Muslim communities.
Nothing wrong in a government paying attention to minority concerns in their ancestral or spiritual homelands — except when the catering to special interests is so obviously tied to fishing for votes and financial contributions for the Conservative party, or worse, it fans rather than reduces old-country troubles in Canada.
In Harper’s black-and-white world, supporting Israel means opposing Arabs in Canada. He has little or no engagement with Canadian Arabs, up to half of whom are Christian, even though at 780,000 they are more than double the Jewish population of 329,000. Not that numbers should dictate policy but a cavalier disregard for specific communities by their prime minister demeans the office he holds.
Harper also ignores Canada’s Muslims, the fastest growing and the youngest demographic in the country, with a median age of 28.9 years vs. the Canadian average of 40.2 years, according to Statistics Canada. At more than one million, they are now nearly three times the population of Buddhists (368,000), more than twice the population of Hindus (498,000), Lutherans and Pentecostals (478,000 each) and Sikhs (455,000), nearly double that of the Christian Orthodox (550,7000) and half as many as those belonging to the United Church (two million).
He has particularly solicited the smaller minorities that have come to Canada escaping persecution in Muslim lands. Their plight was real enough. But he and the Office of Religious Freedom that he established rarely speak out on behalf of persecuted Muslim minorities in such places as Myanmar.
All such selective, ideological, partisan and vindictive activities sacrifice the common Canadian interest in the service of the ruling party. Worse, they exacerbate our differences by pitting one minority against another or stoking divisions within a community. That’s no way to govern a highly diverse, but still united, nation.
What of value have you learned about your own country by reading or listening to others' perspectives?
Are there any similarities or differences in how your country/ current government handles minorities, or specific minorities.
Any other comments, thoughts, feelings?
As for Canada, it seems that for now the loonies are in full flight.
Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of my father's passing. I never really forget him, though I do remember him more acutely when there is a reminder of an activity we enjoyed together, or the need for someone to do "Dad things".
I must say that this anniversary snuck up on me, even though in some ways this year I have been more sensitive to his absence.
One of the reasons is that my own delayed diagnosis reminds me of how his family doctor's mismanagement, at times seemingly willful, contributed to his suffering needlessly, and ultimately to the generally weakened state that contributed to his death.
It is easy to blame doctors, and often this blame is misplaced grief or anger. However, there are all to many patients who "fall through the cracks", have avoidable delays in diagnosis and treatment, or unwittingly are subjected to their physicians' biases.
This hibiscus flower, or hibiscus syriacus, is a symbol of resiliance. Though a misnomer, as it is not native to Syria, it still symbolizes persistence despite challenges great or small, collective or individual.
I thought it a fitting emblem to also honour my father, who persisted in trying to be well, and there for his family despite the considerable medical challenges he was facing.