Lozah

I love the desert.

By the awesome TGaaly http://tgaaly.blogspot.com/

By the awesome TGaaly http://tgaaly.blogspot.com/

This picture was taking while I was sandboarding at an area called Qataneyya dunes, about an hour and a half outside of Cairo. It’s incredibly breathtaking. And sandboarding is so much fun, I recommend to anyone at least once.

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January 22, 2010 Posted by | Personal | 5 Comments

Ikhwanweb takes random comments from Facebook?

So apparently I was interviewed by the Muslim Brotherhood without even knowing about it. Imagine that!

Someone pointed out to me the other day that I was quoted on Ikhwanweb, who made it sound as if we had actually had a conversation. Far from a conversation, this quote they attribute to me is actually a comment I made on a friend’s wall on facebook. Ikhwanweb had apparently no journalistic or ethical qualms with copy-pasting that comment and using it in their article as if they had interviewed me without asking my permission.

This is how they used my comment in their article:

“Not exactly shocking I guess, the Nobel has always been colored by Western interests. Nothing new there. But what’s crazy is that he got it after being in office for less than a year and after accomplishing nothing substantial,” said Deena Khalil, an Egyptian blogger. “He basically got it for talking a good talk, without having to walk the walk.”

Khalil believes that speeches are one thing, but “results are another. But, I guess if Begin could win it then really, anybody can.”


Like many Egyptians and Arabs, the belief is Obama has yet to accomplish much in deserving to win the prize. Khalil says that this is not surprising, as the President has only been in power for less than one year.

“What are they giving him the Nobel for, if not his actions?” she questioned.

Ha! Yes, I question indeed.

January 22, 2010 Posted by | Egyptian Affairs, Media/Press | Leave a comment

Can the eternal victim ever be empowered?

This article was originally published at BikyaMasr.com

In the intellectually bankrupt world of dichotomies we seem to be living in, the issue of empowerment of women is caught in the middle of a reductionist whirlpool just like every other complex multi-layered issue. Women are either eastern or western (posing interesting identity politics for those of us who are both), they are either oppressed or liberated, and when they are oppressed, they are either eternal victims or they are themselves to blame for their own oppression.

The world has had a strange victim fetish for as long as injustice has existed, and it is by no means exclusive to the realm of the portrayal of women. During the recent Egypt/Algeria scandal we saw this fetish manifest itself in the opinion that the thugs who vandalized and bullied others are just poor Egyptians who have no other outlet for their frustration. As if they are so victimized that they have contracted some irrepressible urge to act as hooligans. The same pattern can be detected when analyzing rhetoric surrounding economic development. For years the dominant development paradigm was based on a theory called “dependency theory”. This theory posits that many nations are underdeveloped because they have been victims of colonization, which is true, but the theory takes it one step further by claiming that their victimization is so extensive that they are no longer capable of even participating in their own development.

When it comes to women, this pattern of thought is alive and stronger than ever. Whether its the cliche Hollywood damsel in distress, or the stereotypical portrayal of Muslim women by the media as oppressed downtrodden souls, the world is always looking for someone to save, liberate, or enlighten. This worldview becomes especially problematic when speaking of women’s empowerment because a belief in chronic victimhood directly conflicts with the notion of self-empowerment. And there is not an issue that stands in the way of women’s empowerment today that can be solved without their own initiative.

The issue of sexual harassment in Egypt provides a prime example. Those who aren’t busy denying sexual harassment usually explain it using one of many predictably simplistic approaches. There’s the camp that feels sorry for the male perpetrators of harassment and blames the female victims for somehow bringing on this abnormal behavior. And there’s the camp that acknowledges the issue, but sees women as the silent victim who can do nothing but wait for the problem to be solved by somebody else.

I am not pointing this out because I am against providing explanations for such a phenomenon. Quite the contrary, I believe that understanding the root causes of any problem is crucial before we can find a solution. What worries me is that such a simplistic perception of a complex phenomenon necessarily results in ineffective solutions.

Consequentially, the “blame the victim” camp, rather than advocating for the education of men, advocates to place restrictions on women so as to avoid posing any temptations to potential perpetrators. On the other side of the coin, the “eternal victim” camp believes women should not speak up against harassment but should rather suffer in silence and wait for somebody else to do the talking. Interestingly, many (and I dare say most) women subscribe to these opinions just as often as men do.

It is important to acknowledge and admit the sad state that many women find themselves in today before we can ever hope to alleviate these horrible circumstances. The problem is that oftentimes the victimhood of women is talked about, and then talked about some more, and then it turns into a kind of obsession. By the time we begin to talk about solutions it’s time to go home.

Any strategy for long-term empowerment must have two wings: the outcome wing and the process wing. Even though the intended outcomes may be economic, social, or cultural, the process must necessarily be political in order for it to be sustainable, and this can never be achieved without the full commitment and active participation of women.

January 22, 2010 Posted by | Development, Egyptian Affairs, International Affairs, Media/Press | Leave a comment