Monday, April 25, 2016

Weekly Report 7

I chose to write about Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad also known as Dean Ahmad. He is a part time professor at UMD College Park and other schools as well as the president of Minaret of Freedom Institute which is a Muslim think-tank and the president of the Islamic-American Zakat Foundation which is a religious charitable organization providing services for poor muslim families in he U.S.. He was born while his parents were fleeing Palestine for the U.S. and was raised in Pennsylvania. He earned a bachelors degree from Harvard and a doctoral degree in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of Arizona. He has been involved in lots of political activism, speaking out against the neoconservative U.S. foreign policy. He was also one of the Muslim Americans who were part of the "First Conference on Jerusalem" focused on their liberation. He has served as chair of the Libertarian Party of Maryland and has managed four campaigns. In 1988 he ran as a libertarian for the U.S. senate even though only republicans and democrats could run. He challenged this law and was able to obtain 1000 signatures to get on the ballot. Dean Ahmad has been a very active muslim in the United States. He not only teaches but practices his ideas in politics.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Weekly Report 6

Alaa Al Aswany is an Egyptian author who wrote and still writes articles in Egyptian newspapers as well as being a novelist. In his novel "The Yacoubian Building" he criticized Egyptian government and displayed its  corrupt ways. His book and later the movie based off of it, was one of the only dissenting pieces of literature about Egyptian government, discussing the rigging of elections and other taboo topics. It is believed that his book sparked the Egyptian revolution in 2011 because it brought attention to the issues in the government. Aswany was also one of the most prominent people during the revolution although it had no real leader. He was there when the president resigned during the revolution. He also confronted and questioned the newly appointed president and got him so flustered and out of control that he was fired. Aswany had a large role in the education of Egyptian citizens and brought to light the many issued with the government. He was a key part of the beginning of the revolution and remained a strong supporter of the revolution.

Reflection 6

The Lecture Dr.Leahy gave was incredibly interesting. She presented with a lot of enthusiasm and clearly stated all of the reasons for the tension between the USA and the Middle East. I knew very little about our involvement with the middle east except that i knew it was a big issue and that our relationship is not very positive. In learning about the issue between Israel and Palestine in previous classes and lectures i had a new appreciation for how ridiculous it is for the US to support the Israeli army, especially when we don't support other dictatorships and governments that violate human rights the way the Israelis do. We give 40% of our aid to Israel but they have one of then highest incomes and do not need our money. One of the few things i knew about the US and the Middle East was our invasion of Iraq. What i did not know was that the claim that there were WMD's was false and a cover for the real reason to invade which was mostly for oil and to spread Westernization. The Middle East has a very negative image of the US, rightly so, because we only interfere when it is in our interest. We look to gain things from our relations with them and disregard the harm we are causing. When we cut funding to places in the middle east they lose food and jobs. The US also indirectly harms the middle east through their dealings with Israel because many of the horrifying acts perpetrated by the Israeli Defense Force are only possible through our funding of them. an example of this is The Battle of Jenin when the entire Jenin refugee camp was demonished and civilians were killed because of a suspected terrorist threat. I believe that the middle east has every right to the anti-American sentiment we hear about based on all of these atrocities committed by the US and Israel which it funds completely      

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Reflection 5

I think that it is incredibly hard to come to a solution for a problem as large as the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. I felt my first twinge of confusion when i learned that when the Israeli's were displaced during WWII they invaded and settled in Palestine, resulting in the displacement of Palestinians. I find it strange that people flee for their safety and choose someone else's home as their destination and end up hurting them. I don't see why they could not have found a way to incorporate Israelis into Palestine without displacing Palestinians and causing so much conflict. conflict resolution is so weak when this type of thing happens, there have been many conflicts in history due to the invasion of new people and displacement of the ones living there. I honestly do not know what can be done to prevent this or solve it except for the Israelis and Palestinians to learn to live together. It is so incredibly selfish and horrible how the Israeli army invaded Palestinian land and turned them into prisoners of their own homeland, stripping them of rights and freedom. I do not see why this happens so much in history and why people seem to still think its okay. Perhaps if they cannot live together in harmony there should be a divide in the state, giving half of it to Palestinians and half to Israelis so that they can each control their own area and limit the fighting. This probably would not work particularly well either, but without telling one of the groups to vacate the state, this is the only solution i can see.  

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Weekly Report 4

I found an article from the Palestinian News Network about Israeli settlers militarizing to attack Bedouin Palestinians in the West Bank. The Bedouins in Palestine have formed close-knit communities and the infiltration by Israeli soldiers puts them in a very dangerous position. The head of the committee for protecting Bedouins said that this will increase violence against them. The Israeli army announced gathering settlers from around the West Bank to monitor the Bedouin communities. The reason the Israeli soldiers were given permission to do this it because the Bedouins have been accused of living there illegally. The article mentions that the Bedouins that live under Israeli military administration have been suffering invasions and other violations at the hand of the Israelis for many years. They have been under constant threat of displacement, and what I find to be most ridiculous is the fact that the Bedouins are accused of living on the West Bank illegally but the Israeli settlers who are actually living there illegally are getting all of the benefits of a legal citizen. I don’t know all of the history behind this conflict but it is interesting to me how the Israeli forces were able to invade the Bedouins just on the suspicion that they were living there illegally, with no proof. It is true that most power is abused. The Israeli army has the power in this situation so they are using it to falsely accuse in order to achieve the result of being able to infiltrate the Bedouin communities.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Reflection 4

Dr.Boukhar's lecture on radical Islamist groups was definitely very interesting. There is so much in the news and all over the media about radical islamist groups such as ISIS and these groups give a bad name to the muslim religion when they really have nothing to do with it. Most of the world and certainly most of the U.S. are ignorant to the true basis of Islamic religion and since the only news they hear is of radical groups and terrorism, thats what comes to mind when they think of Islam.
I have of course heard of ISIS through the news and social media, but I like most people do not know much about it's ideology.
I have always known that the U.S. played somewhat of a role in the creation of these radical groups, since the invasion in 2003 caused so much discord in the middle east. What i did not know is that ISIS started as the direct result of the 2003 invasion in Iraq. Many people believe that ISIS is just an extreme representation of Islam, but in reality it is a group with their own idea of what Islam should be. ISIS thrives on the unrest and convolution of societies in the middle east because it recruits members from the margins of society who feel like they are being persecuted and discriminated against by government. ISIS claims that they speak on behalf of the Sunni's because in many countries, although Sunni's are the majority, they feel displaced and persecuted. As Dr.Boukhar said "Sunni's are a majority but have a minority complex", this is a very confusing position to be in and creates a breeding ground for ISIS recruits. When Sunni's in various countries are discriminated against and there is a lack of state and political power behind them, there is a vacuum for power that ISIS fills. ISIS feeds off of sectarianism. Without the marginalization of Sunni Arabs they would not have a growing growing army.
This was certainly an interesting thing to learn. I did not know where ISIS found its supporters and now it makes sense to me, praying on the weak and the people who have no sense of connection to their society who are more likely to look for other ways of belonging.  

Friday, March 4, 2016

Reflection 3

I was unable to go to the concert on wednesday because of a class, but I am so glad I was able to see the musicians and hear about them a little bit on thursday. Every one of them brought such a positive vibe and joy for what they do. The drumming was really amazing, I had never heard a talking drum before and it was a very unique sound. It is really interesting how the talking drum used to be a major form of communication in Senegal. One of the musicians discussed how it used to be that the talking drum was used to communicate between villages, before telephones were around. The tradition of playing the talking drum is passed down in families and used to be a very important skill to have. The man who was playing it told us that he learned from his father but that his son does not have an interest in learning from him. With the modernization of culture and media everywhere, the importance of the tradition of the talking drum is diminishing. That makes me think of how the oral tradition of storytelling in Islam has died out a bit with the rise of internet and tv. People put less value on those seemingly "outdated" ways of communication and passing on of tradition.
The discussion of Muslims on Senegal was interesting. The Muslims who live in Senegal do not need to abide by any dress code. They are not easily identifiable and do not wear traditional clothing the way Muslims in some other places do. They pray and are devoted to God but the only really important part of being a Muslim in Senegal, as was said to us in the lecture, are praying and helping others. One of the men said "Muslim is not in your clothes or shoes. Muslim is in your heart".