Posts Tagged ‘MENA’


Hundreds of writers are taking part in readings in support of the Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh, who has been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia.

More than 120 events are being held in 44 countries on Thursday as part of a campaign organised by the International Literature Festival Berlin.

It is calling on the US and UK governments to intervene on behalf of Mr Fayadh, who is accused of apostasy.

He denies the charges and claims that another man made false accusations.

Human rights activists also say Mr Fayadh was denied access to a lawyer throughout his detention and trial, in clear violation of Saudi and international law.

‘Unjust and morally repellent’

Mr Fayadh, a 35-year-old poet and art curator who was born in Saudi Arabia to Palestinian refugee parents, has been a key figure in taking Saudi contemporary art to a global audience, according to the International Literature Festival Berlin.

Chris Dercon, the director of Tate Modern gallery in London and a friend of the poet, has described him as “someone who is outspoken and daring”.

Mr Fayadh was arrested in August 2013 following a complaint by a Saudi citizen, who alleged that he was promoting atheism and spreading blasphemous ideas, according to Amnesty International.

He was released the next day, but was rearrested in January 2014 and charged with apostasy because of his supposed questioning of religion and spreading atheist thought through his collection of poetry, Instructions Within, published in 2008.

He was also charged with violating the country’s anti-cyber crime law by taking and storing photos of women on his mobile phone.

In April 2014, the General Court in the city of Abha sentenced Mr Fayadh to four years in prison and 800 lashes for violating the anti-cyber crime law. But it found his repentance in relation to the charge of apostasy to be satisfactory and not requiring further punishment.

However, an appeals court overturned his original sentence and sent the case back to the General Court, which sentenced him to death for apostasy on 17 November.

Mr Fayadh has asserted that the poems are “just about me being [a] Palestinian refugee… about cultural and philosophical issues. But the religious extremists explained it as destructive ideas against God.”

Irvine Welsh, who will read at the Two Hearted Queen coffee shop in Chicago on Thursday, said he hoped the worldwide reading campaign would put “pressure on governments who espouse democracy and freedom to consider their actions in dealing with [Saudi Arabia]”, according to the Guardian newspaper.

A L Kennedy, who will be attending a reading organised by PEN England at the Mosaic Rooms in west London, said Mr Fayadh’s persecution was “very obviously unjust and morally repellent”.

The Saudi government has not commented publicly on Mr Fayadh’s case.


This is a sample of his beautiful, moving poetry, translated by Mona Kareem,


Ashraf Fayadh’s “Disputed” Poems, in English Translation

petroleum is harmless, except for the trace of poverty it leaves behind
on that day, when the faces of those who discover another oil well go dark,
when life is blown into your heart to extract more oil off your soul
for public use..
That.. is.. the promise of oil, a true promise.
the end..
it was said: settle there..
but some of you are enemies for all
so leave it now
look up to yourselves from the bottom of the river;
those of you on top should provide some pity for those underneath..
the displaced is helpless,
like blood that no one wants to buy in the oil market!
pardon me, forgive me
for not being able to pump more tears for you
for not mumbling your name in nostalgia.
I directed my face at the warmth of your arms
I got no love but you, you alone, and am the first of your seekers.
you are inexperienced with Time
lacking rain drops
that could wash away all the remains of your past
and liberate you of what you had called piety..
of that heart.. capable of love,
of play,
and of intersecting with your obscene withdrawal from that flabby religion
from that fake Tanzeel
from gods that had lost their pride..
you burp, more than you used to..
as the bars bless their visitors
with recitations and seductive dancers..
accompanied with the DJ
you recite your hallucinations
and speak your praise for these bodies swinging to the verses of exile.
he’s got no right to walk however
or to swing however or to cry however.
he’s got no right to open the window of his soul,
to renew his air, his waste, and his tears..
you too tend to forget that you are
a piece of bread
on the day of banishment, they stand naked,
while you swim in the rusty pipes of sewage, barefoot..
this could be healthy for the feet
 but not for earth
prophets have retired
so do not wait for yours to come to you
and for you,
for you the monitors bring their daily reports
and get their high salaries..
how important money is
for a life of dignity
my grandfather stands naked everyday,
without banishment, without divine creation..
I have already been resuscitated without a godly blow in my image.
I am the experience of hell on earth..
is the hell prepared for refugees.
your mute blood will not speak up
as long as you pride yourself in death
as long as you keep announcing -secretly- that you have put your soul
at the hands of those who do not know much..
losing your soul will cost time,
much longer than what it takes to calm
your eyes that have cried tears of oil
* These poems appeared in Fayadh’s poetry collection Instructions Within which was published by the Beirut-based Dar al-Farabi in 2008 and later banned from distribution in Saudi Arabia.
Translated by: Mona Kareem

For information on what you can do to help with his release, go to Amnesty International at this address..



I highly recommend reading this gifted poet, and of course, signing Amnesty’s petition for his release.


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I never knew death until I saw the bombing of a refugee camp Craters filled with disfigured ankles and splattered torsos But no sign of a face, the only

Source: A Poem for Gaza

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Masha Shekarloo was a young, energetic pioneering passionate brilliant women’s rights activist in Iran, Just saying that should earn her respect, that she in a country so built on oppression, especially towards women,  would dare to stand up is admirable.  She was a pioneer but a woman, born in Tehran, educated in Chicago, who returned to Tehran and saw an oppurtunity to make a change.   Please read the article below and share it, share her passion, her belief in the possibilities and her work.




Also, I highly recommend following the link to her online magazine, called badjens. It’s truly worth a follow!


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I found this article this morning while surfing the dreaded but unavoidable Facebook and it struck a chord with me. I remember the nights  directly after Obama won his first term as President. I was in Stockholm and everywhere there was a sense of enormous relief. Not only did it mean the imminent departure of Bush and Cheney, but we all wanted to believe it would bring about changes the likes of which we hadn’t seen for some time. The types of changes that we had been longing for, the types of changes that people were fighting and dying for. A government,  with a considerable amount of power, might turn back  to diplomacy as the first course of action. A government that might actually keep its promises, closing gitmo, ending the illegal and immoral wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A government that finally would repair perhaps the biggest wrong in the 20th century, and force Israel to return to its 1967 borders, one that would force Israel to rethink the nakba and allow the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. A government that would free its political prisoners both those inside their own prisons and those illegally kept in prisons throughout europe. etc etc etc


Did we expect too much?   How much IS too much? What do we have the right to expect from our governments and from those who proclaim to be the world leaders?

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts after reading this article..





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I found these three wonderful poems written by Zeina Hashem Beck on a page I follow on Facebook. (NO, my friends, not everything on FB paltry pics of someone’s breakfast. )  I was immediately moved to share them with as many readers as possible.

The first  poem, entitled “Inside Out” is a strong poem, showing the terror of war against the backdrop of the World Cup. The images are strong as they should be, but it is so very moving at the same time. The second poem, entitled “Gaza Mothers Soothe Their Kids” is a beautiful work, short and simple it shows the difficulty of trying to explain something as terrible as war to your children in a way that comforts them and hides the horrible acts of men. The third and last poem is also short and to the point, which I love. It is entitled “Maysam” and I’m going to let you read that one without the unnecessary introduction from me. Her work speaks for itself. Do follow the link below. I truly hope you find Ms. Becks” work as beautiful and moving as I do.


Inside out: three poems on Gaza by Zeina Hashem Beck.

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Tänk på en strand, Fredrik


Om du är ledare led oss rätt;
för många vägar i världen leder oss fel och snett.
Skärpning man, det e dags för dig att ta ditt ansvar.
Plocka upp telefonen ring ett fredssamtal! ( Ett brev, Timbuktu)


Fredrik, kan du bara för en stund,

Bara en kort stund, en minut bara..

Tänka på en strand

En vit strålande strand,

Varmt vatten, solen skiner,

En strand bara, inte i Sverige, men i Gaza

Tänk på barn

En fotboll

solen skiner

Sju barn, bröder och kusiner,

En familj, som gillar att spela tillsammans, hela tiden, på en vacker strand,

Bara barn, barn till fiskare bara, inget hot

På en strand


Kan du se dem, Fredrik?

Kan du se dem springa?

Kan du höra dem skratta?

Känner du deras glädje?

Ser du deras glädje när de spelar fotboll och leker kurragömma

Sju barn

Det här kan inte vara så svårt, eller hur?


Nu, föreställ dig att bara tre av dem kommer att överleva dagen

Föreställ dig att en israelisk missil kommer att döda fyra av dem

Föreställ dig att sanden byter färg från vitaste vitt till rödaste blod


Hur känns det?

Blev du arg?

Blev du besviken?

Vill du göra nåt?

Det är du som representerar oss

Kanske är det bara du som har makt i vårt land

Kanske är det bara du som kan göra nåt


Plocka upp telefonen och prata med Netanyahu

Säg till honom att det här är fel

Säg till honom att vi inte kan förstår hur han tänker


Har du mod att göra vad vi alla vet är rätt?

Har du mod att stå upp tillsammans med oss?

Har du mod att stå emot de andra svaga EU-ledare?

Eller kan du stå ut med vad som händer med barnen på stranden?


Plocka upp telefonen, ring ett fredsamtal.



Alla offren var söner till fiskare. Ismael Mohammed Bakr, Zakaria Ahed Bakr, Ahed Atif Bakr och Mohammed Ramiz Bakr var mellan nio och elva år gamla. Missilerna kom från ett krigsfartyg ute till havs. När människor sprang till stranden för att hjälpa pojkarna, sköts en ny.


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These are photos from the demonstration on the 12th, held at Medborgarplatsen here in Stockholm. There is a demonstration going on right now, and they plan on moving to the Israeli embassy. I wish with all my heart that I could be there but as happens, life doesn’t allow. However on Sunday, at 13:30 again at Medborgarplatsen, I’m definitely going! 

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Beautiful poetry from Palestine. I would highly recommend it to all my followers. His work truly puts a very real human perspective on their struggle.


A Stray Bullet.

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Making Peace

By Denise Levertov

A voice from the dark called out,
“The poets must give us
imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar
imagination of disaster. Peace, not only
the absence of war.”
But peace, like a poem,
is not there ahead of itself,
can’t be imagined before it is made,
can’t be known except
in the words of its making,
grammar of justice,
syntax of mutual aid.
A feeling towards it,
dimly sensing a rhythm, is all we have
until we begin to utter its metaphors,
learning them as we speak.
A line of peace might appear
if we restructured the sentence our lives are making,
revoked its reaffirmation of profit and power,
questioned our needs, allowed
long pauses. . . .
A cadence of peace might balance its weight
on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence,
an energy field more intense than war,
might pulse then,
stanza by stanza into the world,
each act of living
one of its words, each word
a vibration of light—facets
of the forming crystal.

Denise Levertov, “Making Peace” from Breathing the Water. Copyright © 1987 by Denise Levertov. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: Breathing the Water (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1987)

Making Peace by Denise Levertov : The Poetry Foundation.

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Seeking peace in times of war

Rush, pause, begin again

Cycles of endlessness


Seeking wisdom in times of lies

Open close and open again

Old books mislead the foolish


Spark of genius is hushed away

Mind opened then closed then never opened again

Walls built of stone, fear and intolerance


We showed these lines to our mother

She smiled, wept and smiled again

The earth lay in silence awaiting her death


We showed them to a minister

He prayed, cursed us, his faith, life, marriage then prayed again

His death is but a certainty and he is afraid


We showed them to the President







Read the first three stanzas and begin again

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