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Monday, April 18, 2005

Woman at Point Zero

I just started reading this book. It's a short one, 108 pages long, and I got through the first 50 pages in a single sitting. This book was a required reading for one of the courses I was taking 2 years ago, and while I had bought the book, I never had the time to read it. Seeing as it was short and I was in the mood to read (it's not easy for those of us suffering from ADHD to be in that kind of mood), I took it up. I must say that I am amazed by how touching it is. I got goose bumps while reading it. I would argue that it would sound even better in the original (Arabic), as the translation (by Sherif Hetata) seems to be overly simplified. The novel is, so far, very poetic. But the plot unfolds very quickly, which is what makes it a page-turner.

Those of you who are wondering what the book is about, here's what the back cover says: "From her prison cell, Firdaus, sentenced to die for having killed a pimp in a Cairo street, tells of her life from village childhood to city prostitute. Society's retribution for her act of defiance - death - she welcomes as the only way she can finally be free."

It is a feminist novel. It is also quite political (outside of feminism, that is). For example, here's a passage: "When they pronounced the word 'patriotism' I could tell at once that in their heart of hearts they feared not Allah, and that at the back of their minds patriotism meant that the poor should die to defend the land of the rich, their land, for I knew that the poor had no land" (28).

I can't wait to resume reading the book, but I had to do a search on google before continuing. So I did, and it turns out that she has a website. On digging through the site in search of her political opinions especially on the Middle East, I noticed an interesting article on terrorism. Quite articulate I must admit, especially with the following:
These measures envisioned as effective ways in the fight against terrorism, are they not in themselves of a "terrorist" nature, a reflection of a "terrorism" imposed by the State, by the rulers of the United States in the name of their "war against terrorism"? Perhaps that is why they are meeting with a mounting opposition from law makers in the Republican and Democratic parties, from political and academic institutions, from peoples organizations and associations for whom issues related to democracy and the loss of civil liberties are becoming a growing concern.

If the policies being implemented by the United States administration are shot through with an increasing violence against the American people said to be needed in order to ensure their "protection against future terrorist attacks" and maximize "internal security" would it be surprising if the violence exercised against other poorer, weaker peoples in the world is reaching the proportions we are witnessing today in the so called "war against terrorism" and the "spread of democracy"?

I keep wondering how the military intervention and occupation first of Afghanistan, then of Iraq can further "the fight against terrorism for humanity." How the increasing death and destruction meted out to the Afghani and Iraqi people can quell the fires of hatred or, dissipate the desperation which helps to fuel the loss of faith in collective, democratic action. I wonder why the killing of Palestinian men, women, and children by a regular technologically, nuclear, laser equipped army continues to be qualified as self defense, why military invasion and mass massacres by "coalition troops" are not described as "terrorism" but as civilizing, democratizing missions meant to free our world of the "Bin Ladens" who have arisen, and continue to arise in different parts of the world.
Yes, very eloquent. I highly recommend that you pick up this book. If not buy it, then get it from the library. I promise that it will neither harm you nor waste your time. On the contrary, I think that it will raise a lot of awareness of the struggle of women in the Middle East, not only in terms of bombs, war, and death, but also in terms of corrupt, sexist regimes, the very regimes that never tire of propagandasing the cause of freedom from occupation. What about the occupation that women live in? It's time that men in the Middle East (and this is directed not only at Muslims as most of you will think, but also at Christians and Jews - there is A LOT of sexism in the last two, but it is not talked about as much - thanks to the media and the glorification of those religions and the denigration of Islam) open their eyes and realise that their patriarchal systems need to be dismantled and a new system of equality and mutual respect should take their place.

Edit 1: Does anyone know how I can wrap text around the photo?!?
Edit 2: I finished reading the book last night. Wow. Just wow. Read it.

put this inside the img tag:

align="left" vspace="4" hspace="4"

Of course that can be "right" or "left", and space is up to you!
Thank you.

My coding skills do suck... :)
u keep talking about middle east in your blog[this particular one on "woman at point zero"] and at one point you write how the story tells about women's social/sexist struggle in MIDDLE EAST, and this is how the story is about an egyptian woman and as far as i remember the whole plot takes place in Egypt.
and Egypt is NOT located in the middle east...it is an african country.people's confusion, i assume is because of the muslim egyptian population and the country being islamic...
but seriously pick up a world atlas/map sometimes...for your own good:P
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