Thursday, March 26, 2015

Teacher Confronts Islamophobia with "The Garden of My Imaan" by Farhana Zia

Amy Vatne Bitliff used Farhana Zia's The Garden of My Imaan in her public middle school.
Then two days prior to Zia’s visit, one of my students who had really been pushing against the text said, “You mean a Muslim is coming here?! They chop people’s heads off. If she’s coming here, I’m not coming to school." ... read more ...

Friday, March 20, 2015

Review: How Does it Feel to Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America by Moustafa Bayoumi

How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? Being Young and Arab in America by Moustafa Bayoumi (Penguin Press HC, The, Hardcover, 9781594201769, 304pp.)

The author relates the stories of seven Arab-American youth from Brooklyn, New York.

It's hard for me to relate to the stories in this book because I'm much older than the subjects, I've never lived in a place with a lot of Arabs (or great ethnic diversity) and I've never had the family, financial and legal struggles many of them had.

Nevertheless, the stories were engaging, and I read the book quickly. Each subject's story made me think about things differently, and I suspect each reader would draw unique lessons for himself or herself.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Walls of Freedom: Street Art of the Egyptian Revolution

To purchase the English version of the book, visit the publisher's web page. The book has its own website. The Facebook page has ongoing developments, including the Egyptian government's efforts to erase the graffiti.

This article reports that the copies were seized in Alexandria over a fee dispute, not censorship.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review: Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley

Roots: The Saga of an American Family
When I was a child, before DVRs and Tivo and even video cassette recorders, the first big TV event I remember was the ABC miniseries "Roots" based on Alex Haley's book of the same title. I have this memory (or imagination) of people looking at their watches and saying, "I know what you are telling me is important, but I gotta get home to watch the next episode of Roots." I thought I had watched it, but I had forgotten everything except Kunta Kinte's capture and somebody saying, "Lizzie, Lizzie." I was fortunate to acquire a minimally-scratched used recording of Avery Brooks's abridged narration of the 30th anniversary edition, which included an illuminating forward by Michael Eric Dyson.

Having read Alex Haley's first breakthrough book, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and Marable Manning's biography of Malcolm X, in which Haley plays a prominent role, I felt like I heard the Nation of Islam's influence, especially in Haley's description of Kunta Kinte's village in The Gambia and his rejection of the descendants of African slaves whom he encountered.

So much has been written about this book. I strongly encourage readers of this blog to read or listen to a copy or at least watch the miniseries.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Review: The Eternal Nazi: From Mauthausen to Cairo, the Relentless Pursuit of SS Doctor Aribert Heim by Nicholas Kulish & Souad Mekhennet

The Eternal Nazi: From Mauthausen to Cairo, the Relentless Pursuit of SS Doctor Aribert Heim
By Nicholas Kulish & Souad Mekhennet
(Doubleday, Hardcover, 9780385532433, 320pp.)
Publication Date: March 25, 2014

I originally learned about this book following tweets regarding a January 10, 2015 newspaper article by Nicholas Kulish entitled "Old Nazis Never Die." Many twitter users came to the conclusion that escaped Nazis exerted strong influence in Egypt and Syria, and many attributed some of the animosity in those countries to the Zionist project to Nazi-style anti-antisemitism. A French film, which I have not seen, explores Nazis who fled to Egypt and Syria. See this article written by its director, Géraldine Schwarz, and published in Le Monde of January 2, 2015.

So I wanted to read this book to learn about this influence, but that is not its main focus. The authors focus on the process of denazification after World War II, from whose chaotic, unfocused, politicized origins emerged human rights laws and eventually war crime tribunals.