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".

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Weekly Report 3

I did some research on the Arab singer Amal al-Atrash, more commonly known by her stage name Asmahan. She was born in Syria in 1917 and ended up moving to Cairo Egypt. She sang most of her songs in Egyptian Arabic. Her family was actually famous for a number of reasons. Her brother Farid al-Atrash was also a famous singer and her family itself was known for having a big role in the resistance of the french mandate in the 1920's. Asmahan was born on a boat while her family was fleeing Syria after it fell to the allies. Her entire family was musically gifted but she and her brother were the best. She began her singing career when she was only a teenager, singing at the Cairo opera house. Most of her songs were written in classical Arabic but sometimes she used the eastern dialect of Arabic. She had three husbands in her life and died at the age of 26 in a car crash, theories have it that she was killed because she was secretly a british spy.
One of her most well known songs was Ahwa:


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Dr. Deveny's Lecture Reflection

In 711 Islamic troops came to Spain from Africa and took over almost all of the Iberian Peninsula. They conquered the area of AndalucĂ­a, called Al-Andalus in Arabic, a mountainous area in southern spain. Before the Muslims came the Visigoths ruled Spain. The Visigoths were a tribe that ruled through monarchy, but before they had full control over Spain they had to defeat another tribe called the Vandals. The Muslim conquest of Spain began in 711 when Adb-ar Rahman came from Africa and declared himself leader, creating the Umayyad Empire. Rahman was the son of an Umayyad prince and his family was overthrown from their place as rulers in Syria. The other important person in the expansion of Islam in Spain was his grandson Abd-ar Rahman III who became the caliphate. Being a caliphate gives complete control not only over the army and government but also over religion.
During the caliphate rule, Cordoba became the most beautiful city and an amazing center of arts and knowledge. Cordoba was one of the three most important cities in Spain during the Muslim rule. The others were Sevilla and Granada. The amazing things happening in Cordoba were the opposite of what was happening in Europe because this time was known as the “dark ages” in Europe. Cordoba essentially experienced the enlightenment before Europe did. It had extensive libraries with many more books about Islam than there were any Christian books or even Christian libraries. At that time there were no libraries in Europe, and very few elsewhere, making the hugeness of the Cordoba library so amazing. The most important architectural work in Cordoba was the great Mosque. It was beautifully decorated and embellished. In Sevilla the most important architecture was the Giralda. It was a Minerate, or tower used for the call to prayer. In Granada the most important architecture was the Alhambra palace. It was so special because it had many fountains and ponds and at that time water was an example of wealth and power.

The Muslim Armies did not have a lot of issue with conquering Spain, mostly because the last king of the Visigoths died before Adb-ar Rahman got there so there was no organized resistance to their takeover. During the time that Spain was under Muslim rule, the Christians living there were called Mozarabs. At the Battle of Tours the Muslim armies were stopped from their advance into the rest of Europe by French leader and Christian, Charles Martel.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Weekly Report 2

Abu al-Qasim Al-Zahrawi was born near Cordoba in 936 CE, and went on to be one of the first surgeons and greatest surgeons. He studied medicine for 50 years and wrote down all that he had learned in a set of encyclopedias. It was translated into Latin in the 12th century and later into other european languages like french and english. His encyclopedia had a great influence on surgery and medicine in Europe. It was used both for medical students and practicing doctors and surgeons. He included pictures of surgical tools and how they should be used. He also identified many diseases and their treatment. His encyclopedias were so versatile and helpful they became the basis for most medical practice in Europe once it was translated.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Weekly Report 1

Article Title: Turkey Says it Wont Leave Syrians Refugees to Die
As more refugees leave Syria, Turkey says they will accept them. They have accepted the most refugees of any country and they do not really have enough space for more but the president said he will open the borders if necessary, if they have nowhere else to go. The refugees are still waiting for the Turkish border to open and are staying in camps with tents and food provided for them by aid agencies. The refugee camps are getting overwhelmed with Syrians. There are foreseen issues such as lack of space, clean water and food for the refugees as there are so many of them. three of the hospitals used for the refugees have been bombed so it is hard to get medical care. Aleppo city is where many refugees are waiting to get in to turkey and the main supply line to it has just been cut off which is concerning. Red Cross and other medical teams have gone in to the town of Moadamiyat al-Sham to bring medical supplies and food for about 700 families. 
Diplomats trying to resolve the conflict have made a plan to meet for peace talks on the 11th after the ones last week fell through.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Reflection Number 1

When looking at SIS options I chose this class because it seemed the most relevant and informative to current events, as well as being interesting. We as American students are not taught much about the Arab world and the traditions and religions that come from it. We have a skewed view of what people from the Arab world are like, only being exposed to news of terrorists and nothing of the culture. I wanted to better understand a part of the world that I know nothing about. I love to travel and have never been drawn to that part of the world because it is not a place often discussed when talking about traveling. From what i can tell the culture is so much different from mine and i would love to better understand it. Since i was only 6 when 9/11 happened i believe i was raised in a time of complete turmoil and misunderstanding of the Arab world. My parents did not plant any ideas in my head but i heard enough in the news as i grew up to form a negative image of people from the Arab world as men with big black beards and hateful eyes bombing the U.S.. Of course when the country is in so much pain after a huge attack like 9/11, they lash out and refuse to acknowledge any other part of Arab culture. I learned nothing growing up about the real people from the Arab world; what they eat, what they wear, how their religions really work. I look foreword to having this class as an opportunity to show me the things i missed as i grew up in such a dramatic time for American and Arab relationships.