free stats Carmen's Web: February 2006
Sunday, February 26, 2006
"Lila Says"...


...a lot in this movie and it's always brazen. A young 16 year old girl moves into an Arab ghetto in Marseilles and hypnotizes the boys in the neighborhood (and us) with her vixenous eyes and her provocative talk. A sweet and incredible movie, mastered by an actress in a role of sexual impetuousness. If you have the chance, you have to see it.

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The tragedy of chronic unemployment and hopelessness among North African youth in contemporary France explodes in this movie based on a controversial book published in France. Fatherless, poor and, like most of his friends in the Arab ghetto near Paris, without a job or prospects, Chimo finds that writing about Lila, a 16-year-old girl who befriends him, transports him from the bleakness of his life. Chimo is an unremarkable, shy and sensitive boy; Lila's angelic looks are a stunning contrast to the precocious fantasies about sex that she shares with him. An enigma in the projects because of her blonde hair, blue eyes, Christian faith and elusiveness, as well as the crazy, devil-fearing aunt with whom she lives, Lila confides only in Chimo. Is she a hustler working for rich men in the city or just a confused kid whose fantasies serve as her own method of escape, much as Chimo's secret nocturnal writing acts are his? Its melodramatic ending a shocking surprise, this movie resonates powerfully.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 2:42 PM
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Friday, February 24, 2006
Make her stop! Please!

Goodness gracious, will somebody please stuff an old gym sock in Irshad Manji's mouth? Her appearance on Bill Maher tonight made me want to inflict damage to my television. Leave aside her self-proclaimed expertise in all things Islamic that aggravates me to the core, her lack of knowledge on ANY topic is so glaringly evident that I can't seem to understand how she's managed to create enough credentials to become a Fellow at Yale University. Her constant attempts to place herself in the spotlight at the expense of logic, the self-posturing....geeez. How long can this go on? No wonder I decided to leave academia.

Here's what happened when an intelligent woman had a brief encounter with her last year:

A self-proclaimed Muslim Refusenik, Irshad Manji embarks on a jihad for itjihad, while besmearing the Muslim religion and those who practice the faith today. Itjihad is different from jihad, although both maintain the underlying principle of struggle. Jihad, contrary to popular thinking, actually means the struggle for a better way of life—not a holy war. Itjihad, although it sounds very similar to jihad, also means struggle; but this is a struggle for understanding or, just simply, the use of independent reasoning.

Throughout her book of banter, The Trouble with Islam, Manji audaciously attacks everything that is linked to Islam, whether it is the people, the country, or even the simple veil used to modestly cover oneself. She turns to petty rhetoric in describing the Muslim figures throughout her book, resorting to terms such as “woolly-headed Islamists.”

Irshad Manji delivered an indoctrination of her thoughts at the Graduate Center in a lecture given on March 18. The event was to be held from 7:00-9:00 pm, but, not surprisingly, started well after 7:15 and ended around 8:40 (remember, the book buying and book signing is an important element as well as the admission fees). Throughout her sermon, Manji conjured numerous terms that did not sit easy; such as “God 3.0,” “supremacy complex,” “stony silence”, and so on. Her air of confidence consumed the stage as she flagrantly slumped back into her chair and haughtily scanned the faces of her “followers”, who were intimately eating her every word.

From the very first pages of her book, Manji’s words are transformed into hurling daggers. Predictably, she questions why a woman cannot lead prayer, why men and women must be separated in the mosque, why prayers must be recited in the Arabic language. Nonetheless, the reader may lapse into a state of “shock and awe” after reading her book, full of phrases like

“…Islam itself was a plane cruising toward some haven of human rights, and […], had September 11 not happened, the passengers of Air Koranistan would have reached their wondrous address with nary a bump, thank you very much.”

These self-righteous words mixed with her inherent arrogance simply gleams through the pages of her book and stares the reader dead in the eye. Perhaps respect for a holy book is not part of Manji’s itjihad.

After she concluded her sermon, I stood in line waiting for the Muslim Refusenik to sign the book I purchased previous to this sideshow. Her eyes were glowing as each person was hailing her as an inspiration; I was next in line. As I approached her, Irshad greeted me with her measured smile and quickly began signing her name. I needed to talk about the line quoted above, and so I did. I asked Sultan Manji why she took a holy book and converted it into a manmade airline service? Immediately, she informed me that the book may be holy to me but not to her.

As proclaimed by Manji, “strike one!”

Then, I quickly pointed out that during her indoctrination, she did refer to the Koran as a holy book—as you might guess, she refuted that.

“Strike two!”

Furthermore, I indicated that if she did not consider the Koran sacred, she should at least respect the Koran because it remains a holy book to others. But respecting the Koran would mean to refrain from petty rhetoric, which is the basis of her entire book.

“Strike three!”

Uncomfortable with my rapid responses, she quickly interjected by reminding me that I was taking too much of her time now and we should keep the line moving. This is, after all, business.

Her confusion and media-molded smirk may be attributed to her abusive childhood and domineering madressa teacher. Experiencing traumatic events as a child could foster such internal resentment against one’s religion, especially if those events did center on religion. This may be the case for Irshad Manji, as she professed from the beginning of her book. Therefore, this is an ideal book for readers who are not interested in viable sources or scholarly footnotes but would rather like to read the personal opinions and unverified anecdotes of a woman who does not even seek to understand Islam. Instead, it is fueled with raging hatred. Her depiction of “Ahmed” the cabdriver is one component of deficiency in this book. Irshad Manji dangerously reinforces the overwhelming misperceptions of Islam, which creates more problems than it solves.

Elvan Zelda Elcin is in the MA Political Science program, concentrating on International Relations and minoring in Comparative Politics.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 11:56 PM
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Wednesday, February 01, 2006
The Zoraida Syndrome
In "The Man from La Mancha" Cervantes writes about the beautiful Zoraida, the Moorish woman who helped Don Quixote escape his imprisonment. Zoraida was Muslim, Don Quixote Christian. She had fallen in love with him from afar and snuck into his Algerian prison cell every night where he had fallen in love with her back. One evening she sneaks into his cell with a letter declaring her love for him and money she had saved to be used for his ransom. He buys his freedom the next day, kidnaps Zoraida, they move to Spain where she converts to Christianity and marries him.

The "Zoraida Syndrome" is now used to describe the taboo of loving a foreigner in the way this is lodged in the heart of a woman of Islamic origin.

In the late 19th century there was a princess by the name of Sayyida Salme. She was the daughter of the Sultan Said, Lord of Oman and Zanzibar. Sayyida fell in love with a German merchant and at one point it is discovered in the palace that she is pregnant. With the help of her brother she leaves her native land with her lover. She converts to Christianity shortly thereafter in order to be able to marry her Christian lover and gives birth to a baby boy in Aden before heading to Germany, publishing her memoirs in 1866.

The Islamic community today will never acknowledge these stories. Don Quixote will be dismissed as a work of fiction and Sayyida will be dismissed as a bad apple. Women like them will never be given a place in Islamic history because they rock the boat. They give other young girls too many ideas, threaten the foundation of Muslim religious sensibilities. A woman like Sayyida is considered an apostate. My cousin, who has fathered three different children from three different women and doesn't support any of them, who is a plain hypocrite, will forever be considered a Muslim in the eyes of the community. The crazy fundies blowing up the world are condemned, but I have not heard one person declare them apostates. But a woman who has the nerve to fall in love with a Christian will be kicked out. It's the women, not the men, who apparently are the maintainers of all things Muslim.

It's frustrating for me when I hear liberal Muslims discuss how Islam is the only religion that allows interfaith marriage. In theory, yes, that's true. Islam is the only one of the three monotheistic religions that allows for interfaith relationships. Under current interpreation it allows for Muslim MEN to marry non-Muslims. It must therefore mean that Islam promotes interfaith relationships if MEN are allowed to do it. But then, of course, who cares what women can and can't do.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 3:31 PM
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Who: Carmen

Mini-Bio:
xx-something egyptia-yorker who's spent over half her life stuck in two worlds not of her own making. unable and unwilling to fully embrace one identity over the other, she created (is trying to create) her own place in the world where people love each other unconditionally, irrespective of artificial boundaries, and where dancing merengue is as necessary to life as breathing air.

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