culture, discussion, Gender, personal, psychology

School – The place of Horrification

I have never felt happy about going to elementary school when I was a kid. Everything was just chaos there. We had students 5 years older than me in the classrooms and whenever they make troubles, everyone in class pay the price and get punished. It was impossible to pass a week without being beaten up by them or by any of our teachers. Wallah I have never forgot the face of my Arabic teacher when he screamed at my face like  crazy because I forgot my homework. I remember his steps as he came closer to me, held my hands and started beating me using his bamboo*  I cried and begged him for a mercy and forgiveness at that time but he didn’t even look at my eyes.  Anyway, I still hear stories similar to my story even in the present time.

Children are exposed to sex harassment in school from their teacher and other students of a higher grade. I remember when I was a kid, one of my classmate was receiving love letters from religion teacher! It was obvious to know what the teacher was going after. The teacher touched the student one time inappropriatly. My classmate told his parents and they came to school and asked to ban the teacher from teaching. The teacher end up teaching another classroom without facing any charges. We hear so many disturbing stories about children being beaten up or sexually harassed by their teacher or other students in school but we never take action because we always like to wait until we see the problem fall on our own children. Until that happen to any of our children, we shouldn’t be worried, should we?

Chaotic School:

My experience in elementary and intermediate school wasn’t pleasant at all. I struggled a lot in understanding kids at my age. Teachers weren’t encouraging the open discussion and critical thinking.  The environment was really chaotic, student screams and make noises during the lunch break or in any absent of the teachers. Noise was my biggest weakness. I would rather be killed and tortured thousands time than living in noisy and chaotic place.

Notes:

* Bamboo was  commonly used by teacher to beat  and hit students’ hands when forgot the homework

– Since schools are segregated I have no information about sex harassment in Girl school. I am trying to find some women who can talk about their experience when they were in the elementary or intermediate school.

discussion, Gender, poetry, Politics, religions

Would You Permit Me?

by Nizar Qabbani*

In a country where thinkers are assassinated, and writers are considered
infidels and books are burnt,
in societies that refuse the other, and
force silence on mouths and thoughts forbidden,
and to question is a sin,
I must beg your pardon, would you permit me?

Would you permit me to bring up my children as I want, and not to
dictate on me your whims and orders?

Would you permit me to teach my children that the religion is first to
God, and not for religious leaders or scholars or people?

Would you permit me to teach my little one that religion is about good
manners, good behaviour, good conduct, honesty and truthfulness,
before I teach her with which foot to enter the bathroom or with which hand she
should eat?

Would you permit me to teach my daughter that God is about love, and
she can dialogue with Him and ask Him anything she wants, far away from the
teachings of anyone?

Would you permit me not to mention the torture of the grave to my
children, who do not know about death yet?

Would you permit me to teach my daughter the tenets of the religion
and its culture and manners, before I force on her the ‘Hijab’ (the veil)?

Would you permit me to tell my young son that hurting people and
degrading them because of their nationality, colour or religion, is considered a
big sin by God?

Would you permit me to tell my daughter to revising her homework and
paying attention to her learning is considered by God as more useful and
important than learning by heart Ayahs from the Quran without knowing their
meaning?

Would you permit me to teach my son that following the footsteps of
the Honourable Prophet begins with his honesty, loyalty and truthfulness,
before his beard or how short his thobe (long shirt/dress) is?

Would you permit me to tell my daughter that her Christian friend is not
an infidel, and ask her not to cry fearing her friend will go to Hell?

Would you permit me to argue, that God did not authorize anyone on
earth after the Prophet to speak in his name nor did he vest any powers in
anyone to issue ‘deeds of forgiveness’ to people?

Would you permit me to say, that God has forbidden killing the human
spirit and who kills wrongly a human being is as if he killed all human kind,
and no Moslem has the right to frighten another Moslem?

Would you permit me to teach my children that God is greater, more
just, and more merciful than all the (religious) scholars on earth combined? And
that His standards are different from the standards of those trading the
religion, and that His accountability is kinder and more merciful?

Would you permit me?

* Nizar Qabbani is a Syrian poet whose poems have made a lot of controversies in Middle East

blogging, discussion, friends, Gender, Media, panaroma, Politics

Bloggers Panorama

  • “I too don’t like the concept of everything happened for a reason or fate, the resaon -whatever it was- may take longer than our life time to be revealed” Hala Aldoseri commenting in one of Marahm post regard fate
  • “Oh, no! If people got to know each other before marriage, NO ONE would get married!” Marahm quoting her Egyptian’s friend during a lively discussion
  • “I have always said that Saudis should not complain about how hard it is to get a visa to any country as long as it is still extremely hard to get a visa to come here. The foreign ministry is not making a good point when they compare Saudis to citizens from other Gulf countries; these countries offer visas to EU citizens on arrival at the airport. It is all about reciprocity” from Ahmed Al-Omran post Visa Wars and Reciprocity 
  • “It is probably best to believe that discrimination against, race, gender or faith would never change. To live in a remote state, while “others” fix the problem” said Aysha Alkusayer when she couldn’t enter the audition for a comedy in Riyadh after it has been announced that is is open for men and women
  • “We didn’t and still don’t know the truth about this country (Iran) and of its social and intellectual structures. I would say that I didn’t notice in those days when I walked between the exhibition halls and the streets of some of the popular markets and five stars hotels and popular restaurants and businessmen’ palaces, any manifestations of signs or indications of a strongly revere and sanctification of Khomeini and his group as we imagine*” said Yaser Alghaslan in his blog post Tahran as I see it (*translated by me)

culture, discussion, Gender, psychology, religions

Breaking The Wall

 

the copyright of the pic is for firendarkness
the copyright of this pic goes for firendarkness

Have you ever heard of the westbank wall that separates Israel from Palestine. Well, we have exactly the same one in Saudi Arabia, but it is between men and women. This wall was built as a result of religious and social conflicts and so people thought that building such a wall is probably the best way to avoid the conflicts. Many people nowdays come to realize that the separation was such a stupid solution because separation between genders, races and religions has never  ever solved any conflicts. It has in fact caused more conflict than ever before. In my opinion, I think:

  • Separation wall is always built to give one group more power over the another one and in our case, men are taking the power over women.
  • Separation leads one group to build his understanding of the others based on an assumption that is often untrue and unreal. It is even worse to realized that people begin to behave and act based what they assume and what has been assumed of them. 
  • Separation moves the society backwards because there is no channel of communication to exchange the ideas and knowledges between men and women. Saudi women are very creative and amazingly talented. So, their absent in any intellectual and social discussion cause huge gap. 

What do you think of the idea of seperation? Do you agree or disagree? and why?

culture, friends, Gender, Panorama, personal, philosophy, poetry, religions

the 6th panorama

I.”at some circumstances, slavery means a total freedom and pain means a total happiness”
talking with myself while i was walking
II. “I don’t believe in god, i don’t really like the concept of organized religion but at the same time, i don’t consider my self as an atheist”
An american friend talking to me about religion
III. “women enjoy sex too! their orgasm is twice as men orgasm”
one of my friend talking to me about sexuality from women perspective

IV. “i know myself,, saudi women can’t fit with my lifestyle” saudi student explaining to me why he doesn’t want to marry a saudi girl

V.”human beings can’t invent lie, they can produce it.. produce it from their past, from something they hide so long or something they fear to tell”
” talking to one of my friend about how we can learn so much about a person through his lies”

VI.”yes, we had sex several times”
saudi classmate talking openly about his sexual relationship with his girlfriend

VII. “my family get so angry and upset when they knew that i am in relationship with an american girl. they said that their reputation was ruined because of that” a saudi guy telling me about his problem with his family. it is count unacceptable in saudi culture to be in relationship with a girl without a marriage contract

VIII. “Wallah, it is very hard to describe my feeling, she came to me with her nude body and dance around me, seduced me.. but i couldn’t touch her*.. i feel like i am weak,, or slave to her body”
saudi guy describing to me his experience in nudity-topless bar.
* in nudity bar, people aren’t allowed to touch the nude girls unless she give them the permission or the client pay more or something,,, that is what the guy told me, but i am not sure though if that is true or not!
IX.”there are many thing  in life that can’t be seen or touched”
my respond to one of my friend when she ask me if i have seen god visually
X.”just like i survived 18 years in my country without meeting myself”
” my respond to my friend when he asked me: how could you survive 3 years in US without meeting your family?”
XI. “when you suffer so many times, pain would become your companion, you wouldn’t feel the pain but rather the joy that comes with it”
a friend talking  to me,,,( just like i expected,, people enjoy pain more than happiness )

XII.“Eventualism isn’t designed to answer all questions. It’s designed to question all answers” one of my friend believe Eventualism, i love to have friend who has a different ideologies

XIII. “I believe in myself slowly, it takes all of the doubts i’ve got. it takes my wonder”
reading a post on tri-met bus
note:
please don’t make any generalization based on one individual observation of these, individual represent only themselves
culture, Gender, history, philosophy, psychology, religions

Who Are We?

Throughout the history, every society starts its civilization by answering a very simple question; Who are we! As easy and simple this question may appear for many of us as hard it is to find an answer for it in reality.  

Some societies comes from nothing and starts building its own identity and its own civilization. other societies like ours always ignore ( and sometimes prohibit ) thinking of this type of question while in the same time it spend most of its time thinking of what it want to be!
How can we become what we want to be if we don’t know who we are? Why we (Saudi) don’t like to confront the fact that we don’t have an identity.
Please don’t tell me the your identity is what you inherited from your grand grand grand parents 200 years ago. I want to know your identity now. who are you? who am I? who are we? Can you answer any of these simple questions!
Identity isn’t something we inherited from previous generation but rather something that we give to the next generation and i don’t see anything that we would give to the next history other than fights over who is gonna enter the heaven first, or a fight over how saudi women and men should dressed in the public, or a fight over why women shouldn’t drive, etc…
we are so pathetic, aren’t we?
believe me!
you might be able to ignore the question, but you will never be able to ignore the scary feeling that you get when (yourself) approach you and ask you : who are you?
culture, Gender, Panorama, philosophy, psychology, quotes, religions

the 2nd Panorama !

This is a second attempt of combing several stories together at one page. I am thinking of doing a panorama every week. I thought it is a good way of presenting a long stories in short sentences.

I.”the most difficult stages of grief are those that can’t be expressed in our face”
(photographer describing a pic of someone)
II.”It is only until you have accepted your insanity that you are truly insane”
(homeless holding this post in a pioneer square)
III. “you can’t really tell how many girls are sexually abused in a country like Saudi Arabia since there is no valid source that can tell you that. Victims rarely tell their family or even a police about their rape issue because they know that they will be questioned  and blamed first”.
(my respond to one of my friend when he said that the rape statistic in KSA is very low because of restriction that comes from religious police)
IV.”Aha,, so it isn’t men problem,, it is women problem.. this is very interesting! blaming the victim for a crime that men do”
(my respond to a guy at PSU when he said ” women are raped because they don’t dressed properly)
VI “the different between a victim and a survival is that a survival speaks out”
(a girl that was sexually abused speaking out at PSU park)
V. “i am willing to work as a dish washer.. or even bathrooms’ cleaner at the university. it is just a great opportunity to experience a different life”
( answering my friend’s when he asked me ” why do you want so hard to work at campus”)

VI.“We might be products of our past but we don’t have to be prisoners of it”
(a text message that i got from one of my friend at 12 a.m)
culture, discussion, Gender, philosophy, Politics, psychology

the evil side of collectivism

Before you read, 
“The following writing represent only me and my thoughts. It doesn’t represent any specific society or religion as a whole. So please, don’t make any generalization based on what you read. my thoughts are open to discussion and disagreement and i am willing to change anything you find it wrong”. 
…………………………………………………………………………………………….
There is a good side and evil side for everything. 
but for collectivism!!, 
It seems to me that the evil side appears more frequently than the good side.
Why? … well, because of the following :
1) Losing the identity of one’s self
The problem with a collective system is that it forces a person to lose his conscience of one self.
in a collective society like mine, a person make an account for the group more than him self. We behave in this way because the group behave in this way.
We talk, think, dream, love, smile, sleep and believe in specific way because the group ( that we belong to ) want us to be like that. This exactly illustrate the slavery by its true meaning. We are basically slave to our group. It is as simple as that. 
2) Judging a person by the group:
Another problem that a collective society generate is that it judges the person by the group
and the group by the person. 
For example, if a girl in a collective society committed adultery, she and her family would be held accountable for that. No one would marry any of her sisters just because of what she has done. This in fact against the teaching of Alquran since god judge individuals based on what they do,, not based on what their relatives do!!
3) Being identical in thoughts, beliefs and practice:
One common thing that all collective societies share is that they don’t accept easily disagreements. So basically, in order to survive, you need to follow what the group believes and practice without questioning its wrongness !
This means that you need to sacrifice your rationality and logic !!!
Now, since you can’t question or disagree with anyone of your group, all people becomes identical to the degree that you can’t differentiate one from another. 
 
4) You and Me working for the desire of OTHERS : 
Many people think of a collectivism as a good system since it emphasizes the importance of community’s needs more than individuals’ needs. They think that would leads to eliminate the selfishness of individuals. 
I wish it does but unfortunately what the collective society does is, , as Jarret Wollstein said, ” sacrificing you  and me to the desire of others”
5) The impossibilities of changes:
Don’t think about change in the collective society! Because you aren’t dealing with individuals, you are dealing with groups whose values and principles inherited a long time ago from past generations. 
Take women’s driving as an example, 
Why it is so difficult for women to drive in Saudi Arabia? Why the government hasn’t been able to force a law that can allow women to drive? Why didn’t women make a step forward and drive since they think it is their individual freedom!
Well, that is all because they are waiting for approval from something superpower called (a society).
My conclusion is that :
No major changes can happen in our society unless we transform it from the collectivism to the individualism!!
Something i realize and learn after reading khuled’s comment :
 we don’t want to be individualistic to the degree that make us selfish and think only of our self nor collective to the degree that makes us ” a product of someone else”
Gender, Politics, psychology, religions

Discussion with High School Students

Last week, we had a meeting with a high school students about the culture, the religion and the society of Saudi Arabia.
We started our programs by playing a movie that gives an exploration of Saudi Arabia. To be honest, I watch the movie as I am watching something that is totally new to me. I didn’t recognize some of the places. I saw women exposing their face without any distraction of any body. That is so beautiful but ,, is that real? i don’t really know what would happen to my sister if she walks in the Riyadh’s streets without covering her face fully!!
Anyway, i sat with students in the table and they started shooting me questions.
Tough questions that i have never thought about before !!
i don’t remember their questions literally but it goes around this

Q: Do you recognize all the places in the Movie?
not really, my country is big and i haven’t travelled that much.

Q: where do you live?
I live in the eastern part of Saudi Arabia. My city is close to Daharan. the main city of Oil. also, i wanna add that each part of Saudi Arabia has a different culture and life style.

Q: what about Sunni and Shiia in Saudi Arabia? are they in fight with each other like Iraqi?
Not really, i am Shia and i have so many sunni friends, i have never gotten in fight with any of them because of what they believe.
The difference between Sunni and Shiia is much smaller than the difference between Catholic and protestants Christian. Our problem doesn’t come from religion. It comes from not listening to each other. as you know, when we don’t listen to each other, we become more likely to misunderstand and misconceive each other.
Anyway, I am very optimistic with the change that comes out from King Abduallah. Both group are getting in dialogue to resolve their misunderstanding.

Q: can you talk a little bit about women in Saudi Arabia? are they forced to wear the Abaya?
We have a a great respect for women in our society. There are so many women who got scholarship to come and study here. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any incidents where women are treated unequal. yes, they are forced to wear the Abaya. yes, they can’t work without a permission of their parents or husband. yes, they can’t drive cars. and yes i agree with you that these things have to be changed but how, this is the question. Saudi Arabia is in process of change. These things can’t be changed at once. we are living in a society where tradition is greatly valued. i think we need to change gradually and from the down to up so we minimize any damage of that change

Q: Is saudi Arabia %100 muslims? and what would happen if someone convert to another religion?
they said that it is %100 muslims but i don’t think that is true. It is impossible for any country be all muslims or all christen. There has to be people who has a different belief than we are and that is the nature of life. Even in the time of prophet Mohammed, there were christena and jews. i think there are Christian and Jews minorities at some part of my country. However, i don’t think that they practice their believe in public.
as for converting, if any muslims convert to any of other religion, he would be killed according to my country law. I am totally against that. I believe strongly that everyone has a right to believe in whatever they want and that they should not be forced to believe in Islam.
by the way, you need to differentiate between Islam and muslims. Muslims in many times do things that are totally against the teaching of islam and the problem is that they justify what the do by covering it under islamic law!

Q: i have read an article that talks about homosexuality in Saudi Arabia! It said that there are many guys who practice sex with each other and that is because they don’t get an opportunity to have a sex with women unless they married?
i didn’t give a good answer for the students at that time. all i say is that yes, homosexuality exist in everywhere!
but when i came back and thought of the question again, i found a different answer.
it is the following:

any body who doesn’t fulfill his sexual needs, will try to find any possible alternatives to do so.
It is like if you were starving, you would eat whatever around you. ant, dog, cat, anything! you wouldn’t care, would you?
psychologically speaking, the desire for sex become so strong and devastated when our emotional needs aren’t fulfilled enough.
you need to know that people don’t practice sex just for the orgasm of 11 minutes. Some people, feel that sex is a temporary solution for some of their problems. The guy who lost his job, want something that can give him the security. The girls who lost all her beloved one wants something can make her forget all of her pains.
i think ( and that is my opinion) our problems in Saudi Arabia is that our emotional needs aren’t fulfilled well enough. What i see is that people are really shy of saying I love you. You don’t hear these 3 words very often in family !

Q: Do you guys drink Alcoholic in back home?
no, we don’t drink because drinking would affect and damage our brain.

notes: 
I re-post this again due to  the request one of my friend. 
Please, understand that i am not trying to damage the image of my country. All i am trying to do is to be honest about our problems. we can’t solved our problems unless we admit that it exist.