My March For The Alternative.


Well, Saturday was quite a day! I haven’t seen so many of my fellow citizens out on the streets since the Stop The War protest about a decade ago – which, until last year, was the only protest I attended as an adult and made a big impression on me. It was a very moving experience being a part of such a wonderful day on Saturday. Contrary to the hyperbolic hysterical media reports, my overall experience was one of solidarity, creativity and peaceful protest, like well over 99.9% of the half a million people (at least) that were Marching For the Alternative. Of course there was some violence, there was some violence (deplorable, of course), but it was not what the march was about, nor what UKUncut was about.

I’ve been very proud to participate in the UK Uncut movement. I’ve previously been at sit ins at Vodafone, who have been let off a whopping SIX BILLION POUNDS (Yes, billion, not even millions) in tax – which is a strikingly similar amount to the cuts to welfare that the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society rely on to live. I’m also got my first ban a few months ago – at Topshop, where I was sitting in with other concerned members of our society campaigning against the moral abomination that is Phillip Green , ‘Efficiency Tsar’ to the coalition government, a man who has registered his companies in his wife’s name in Monaco, meaning that, even though he runs the company, he doesn’t pay tax on earnings. He paid nothing on a £1.2 billion dividend, while advising the government on how to make ‘efficiency savings’ (by cutting jobs, welfare, the NHS, public services). The government is using the global financial crisis as an alibi, while destroying the very ‘Big Society‘ they are espousing (double-speak if I’ve ever heard it!).

I am proud of being a part of UKUncut and am horrified by the arrest of 168 peaceful protesters, while only 11 other protesters were arrested for violent offences. Democratic peaceful protest is our heritage, and possibly the most important part of our heritage – to criminalise it is, in itself, criminal, in my opionion – and a subversion of the principles of justice and democracy that should be held above all in our society. The police tricked the protesters into leaving by saying that they would not be arrested – these are political arrests, nothing more. It’s important that we do not get intimidated into not standing up and protesting when we need to. What kind of a world would we live in without the changes that have happened as a result of legitimate protest?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Reactions to the Disasters in Japan – the Good, the Bad, the Ugly.


Nobody could fail to be astounded at the images and videos coming out of Japan, after the Tsunami. The devastation and scale of the disaster seems impossible to comprehend in my little human brain. It’s bad enough in my imagination,but to see the multitudes of people who have somehow survived who are dealing with the reality and the aftermath evokes in me a deep sense of empathy and solidarity, as it should. If a tsunami wasn’t devastating enough, the potential for nuclear disaster is a further devastation for people already going through unimaginable conditions.

The international response has, as it should be, been willingly forthcoming and prompt. On the whole, it restores my faith somewhat in humanity when I see evidence of humanistic unity in the face of disaster. It’s sad that sometimes, it takes disaster to bring out the best side of humanity, but good to see when people are concerned for their fellow human. I was surprised that Japan did not accept aid offered by China, as, how could that be in the interest of the Japanese people who could probably have done with that aid?

If that thought relieves me somewhat, the inhumanism and the worst of humanity also seems to come out of disaster. One would have thought the only person to be pleased about the Tsunami would be Gaddaffi & those dictators who would be relieved to have attention diverted from them. To see some reactions, rejoicing in the anguish of the Japanese, claiming it as ‘karma’ for Pearl Harbour and for military transgressions 60 YEARS AGO, and being filled with joy and smugness, just confuses me – I just can’t understand it. I’ll bet that many of the people celebrating weren’t even born yet! Are they so indoctrinated in hate that they can’t empathise? Do they REALLY believe what they are saying? And, then, there’s  the trolls using as a joke, also completely lacking any tact or humanity (just have a look here: http://www.tntmagazine.com/tnt-today/archive/2011/03/15/tamtampamela-video-god-is-so-good-for-japan-s-earthquake-and-tsunami.aspx to see what I’m talking about). I despair, I really do!

So, for the Japanese people and any other people suffering anywhere, now, I express my solidarity, and I’m sorry for your suffering.

To the woman in the link I just posted, and to all the other haters, this is to you, from me x

We Should All Be Upstanding And Outspoken For Bradley Manning


What would you do, if you had evidence of the criminal acts of murder, cover-ups, and corruption and you knew you were the only person that had the capacity to bring these injustices out into the open? Would you feel it your duty to your fellow human to do the right thing, by exposing the truth, in spite of the personal danger you would face? Or, would you be complicit in those crimes, and try and forget that you ever had the chance to do something about it?

Bradley Manning is nothing but a hero. The consequences of his bravery and honesty have been further-reaching than he had possibly even imagined. The truth of innocent, defenceless civilians and journalists being gunned down in cold blood as if they were mere characters in a video game, may never have been uncovered if it was not for Bradley. You can see it here yourself, if you have not already. When you have watched it, in the knowledge that innocents died and that it was being covered up, ask yourself what you would have done about it, and whether you would be willing to put your life on the line in the name of justice and humanity? You are only able to watch this because Bradley Manning made it possible.

How much of the protests and the reclamation of power by Arabs has been galvanised by the revelations that Manning enabled? What price is he, now paying? I believe that we should all, as global citizens, as people denied the truth, that we should be standing up for Bradley Manning in the way that he has stood up for truth and justice. The price he is paying is appalling and inhumane. He is being tortured, in Quantico and faces the death penalty. He is in solitary confinement for 23hrs a day and is stripped naked and humiliated in an attempt to break him, breaking the Geneva convention. The inhumanity and hypocrisy of the US Government who has the audacity to preach about human rights and democracy is breathtaking, wasn’t Obama supposed to put a stop to this kind of thing? Is it time he handed back the Nobel Peace Prize? Even a US state official described it as ‘stupid and counterproductive’. 

It’s not only the US government, but the UK government, that is complicit in this. Bradley Manning is a UK citizen (as you can see here, Amnesty have made an appeal on his behalf: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/01/bradley-manning-uk-citizen). It is the DUTY of a government to protect it’s citizens, and as Bradley Manning is a UK citizen it is the British government’s responsibility to intervene on his behalf. You have to question the nature of the US-UK ‘Special Relationship’ whereby one allows the other to torture it’s citizens without question, not even bothering with the pretense of responsibility to it’s citizens. Mind you, after Moazzem Baig and the complicity of the UK government, I don’t know why I’m surprised. 

On 20th March, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, there is going to be a day of international solidarity. (http://www.facebook.com/#!/InternationalFriendsOfBradleyManning) After what Bradley Manning has done for us, I think we should all take it upon ourselves to be outspoken in our support and to stand in solidarity with Bradley, for would any of us have been brave enough to do what he has done?

The Blood Of My Sisters


The blood of my fallen Sisters has become so cheap

With the first full turn of this revolution, a new world for us?

Yet, still, in powerful places, we have no voice to speak

Denied once again, a voice, a face

How many turns of revolution will it take?

Before we stop coming full circle

And the blood of my sisters who fall and suffer is precious and protected

Like oil?

Happy International Womens’ Day! (Or, Is It?)


Well, today’s the day that we celebrate women and commiserate on the secondary role that women are forced to occupy in many aspects of our lives. It is a beautiful sight to see so many women (& men!) out in solidarity and with equality in their minds.

On Saturday, I went to a wonderful event organised by several charities called 6 billion ways, which was all about ‘making another world possible’. Imagine my excitement when I saw that revolutionary socialist and activist Gigi Ibrahim was speaking. She has been a loud and eloquent member of the revolution who has (in my opinion) been a wonderful ambassador for Egyptian women and one who I have been proud to see, as it shatters many ideas that I have encountered about Muslim/Arab women (such as being passive and without a voice). I asked her at the end of her presentation about the revolution about the representation of women and what part she thought that feminism played in the revolution and what role the revolution will play in the future of feminism in Egypt and more widely in the Middle East? I guess she gets asked this alot, or about the role of women in Egypt as she replied that she is sick of being asked this question and that women played their part in the revolution and were present and that the problem  of gender discrimination/inequality is NOT big in Egypt, and the big problem is class discrimination. I have to say, I was quite disturbed by her reply. She said that they do not show women on the media, but that they are present and represented. I think she also assumed that I was British (& didn’t really know what I was asking about). It’s a shame that I was not given the opportunity to respond, as I know personally that gender is a big issue in Egypt. I would like to know if she thinks it acceptable that women have not had a SINGLE representative on the national committee which was created to write and establish the new constitution, which illustrates why inequality is a problem which doesn’t seem to have ended with the revolution.

Personally, I find class and gender discrimination a big problem, as well as many other types of discrimination and inequality in Egypt. There is a problem with racism, as well as homophobia, some religious intolerence and many other problems. I do think, however, that discrimination against women is rampant and needs to be addressed URGENTLY in Egypt and I am extremely upset that the lives of my sisters that fell in this revolution seem to be valued less than those of the men. Why are we being denied the opportunity to rebuild Egypt. How are we expected to change the entrenched bigotry that blights womens’ lives all the time if we are not present in the committees that will be shaping our new country. I am still impressed with Gigi’s story and with her bravery, activism & eloquence. I do hope, though, that more women of Egypt are given a platform, as Gigi was literally the first woman (& even man) that comes from Egypt that I have spoken to that denies that there is a problem with gender inequality in Egypt. Perhaps women that aren’t sick of being asked questions that they don’t like, it’s not exactly the best decorum for a speaker on a panel to have that kind of attitude – not the best impression to give. I hope that more Egyptian women are given a platform, heaven knows we have precious few!

Lastly, I think the actions of the men attacking my sisters in Tahrir today, who were marching for the advancement of womens’ rights and to celebrate International Womens Day (the first time they have been able to!) is an illustration of the entrenched endemic hate that many men have with women in Egypt. I am sick of this problem being brushed under the carpet. If being attacked, insulted, spat upon, harrassed and sexually harrassed is what women are putting up with in public with the media present and on a day like today, then imagine what they go through everyday of their lives?

I don’t feel like there is much to celebrate today as I see the plight of women today in the world. All I can hope for is that this time next year, I can look back at today and think about how much things have changed for the better.

I have said it before and I will say it again – Egypt needs a feminist revolution. The time is now or never.

Humanism, Inhumanism and changing my mind about Annihilation.


So, as I said a few days ago, for the first time I was feeling quite nihilistic, which was a first for me. I am very grateful for the relief of not feeling that level of philosophical despondency – a bit like sinking in quicksand. For awhile, I couldn’t see the humanitree for the inhumanitrees. The inhumanity of the world was becoming overwhelming (an indulgence, considering what others are going through now).

Personally, something which I found very pleasing (as I understand, many people did) is that all of these Arab revolutions and uprisings have seemed to be based on humanity. People putting aside their differences, uniting as humans and demanding their dignity & rights. Something more beautiful than I could ever have imagined (although the horror of seeing such violence and inhumanity inflicted on peaceful, righteous protesters is something I will never forget and the joy of seeing the revolution finally unfold was a bittersweet one).

I’ve considered myself a humanist (if I HAVE to have a label) and on a personal level, I initially found that these humanistic, unifying uprisings in the face of corruption, unfairness & oppression a perfect example of why I find humanism so compelling – the idea that all we need in our reason and our humanity & mutual respect in society to be able to live ethically & fairly. I’ve always been saddened to see divisions in society which divide us when we are all, at the end of the day, supposedly equal human beings. To see the unity between the Copts & Muslims was beautiful, everybody can agree. My biggest hope for Egypt (& everywhere else) is that the revolution that was fought for on the streets is continued in our minds. Our biggest hope for real change that makes a real difference is if we respect the differences between ourselves and stop seeing people as part of some strata of society and see each others in the spirit of sister and brotherhood, as individual human beings.

We have to start treating each other as equals and acknowledge and challenge the prejudices that we all have within us. The way we look at people poorer and wealthier, the problem with the way that the underpriveleged and poor in Egypt have been treated, the inequalities between the sexes, homophobia, religious animosity and discrimination of those who may not have a religion or be atheist, even the way we treat animals – all things that have upset me and things we need to confront collectively. It’s not only the regime that needs to change, but we as a society, each and every one of us. We have had enough dehumanisation of people and inhumanism with the corrupt Mubarak regime. Don’t we all owe it to ourselves to change everything for the better, starting with ourselves? We have to ask ourselves – what kind of a world do we want to live in? Perhaps, with this new Arab Renaissance, we can reclaim the humanity, compassion and hospitality that has been denied to us for so long.

I am, but only, my Brother’s Mother’s Daughter.


I’m the eldest of a four siblings. I have only one brother.

Today, my Mum changed her name on facebook to that of Umm (Umm)-my brother.  Which irritated me now, as much as it did when she used to call herself Umm-my brother when I was little. 

Although the reasons why have changed somewhat, from ‘I was born first, I’ve been your kid the longest, why not me?’ when I was a child – to, as an adult, feeling sad that (i) my Mum chooses to ignore and disacknowledge the three of us without a penis who my Mum also gave birth to, but (ii) and more sadly for me, that my Mum’s identity seems to have been subsumed and exchanged with that of my brother. If anything, shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t my brother identify himself as son-of-my-Mum, she has done everything for him? My Mum will argue that this an Arab/Islamic/Traditional thing to do, but it isn’t it just reducing women to the producers of heirs, as if that is their role, par excellence, in society, and their highest accolade? Is it not a symptom of society that dismisses the achievements and identity of women?  Shouldn’t a woman be as proud to identify themselves as mothers of their daughters, as of their sons  – and what’s this ridiculous idea that we should not use our names and use that of our sons to identify ourselves? I think it’s a stupid, dehumanising tradition and one that soon, I hope, is forgotten.