Queen Rania sums it up in this short interview with Becky Anderson. Extremism has been eating us up for few decades now. It is no longer about our image in the west but more about protecting of what is remaining of our countries and societies. We need all to stand up and think.
Posted originally on Bayt’s blog.
I hated composition assignments at school. I was never good in languages classes like I was good in math or science. When I wrote something down, I used to make sure no one reads it, and when that happened, I would die of embarrassment.
I felt more comfortable with numbers than letters. Numbers didn’t entail self-expression; they didn’t push me out of my comfort zone as a shy kid. I also had an interest in arts. Drawing was my subtle way of self-expression at that age.
Things changed with time.
I studied Computer Science at college as a natural consequence of my scientific interest and the popularity of the field at the time. It wasn’t my first choice though; I wanted to study architecture thinking it would satisfy my interest in both numbers and arts. If you live in Jordan then you must know the Jordanian system of universities’ admission. Despite getting 92.8% in the Tawjihi (Jordanian High School degree), I didn’t meet the requirement of studying Architecture that year (1996), which was set at 95% at the University of Jordan. So Computer Science emerged as a second option, and I found myself searching for an artistic side to that discipline. I found it in the colorful pages of the web. And so, trying to avoid sticking to becoming a programmer, I worked hard to become a web designer, but I also fell short because I had no Graphic Design background. I ended up being a User Interface (UI) developer for many years after that.
I enjoyed the first few years of working as a UI developer. The combination of HTML code snippets with Photoshop slicing and Style Sheets coloring met my interests in logic and design. But it didn’t satisfy me completely. Maybe it had to do with the nature of the business of the company I worked for at the time. There was no emphasize on creativity, the design had a secondary priority, and thus I ended up feeling like I was doing a soulless job. A couple of years down the road, I was desperate to break off and look for something else!
Working online helped me explore my writing and communication skills. As part of my job as a UI developer, I had the internet open to discussing and debating issues that mattered. I used Yahoo Message Boards at the time to debate a TV series I used to love (not telling you which one it was). I became more comfortable in expressing myself with words. I felt that my background in Computer Science helped me in shaping logical arguments. And soon, letters started to appeal to me, and language started to become dearer to my heart than numbers.
I launched my own blog in 2006 and started expressing myself like I never had before. I had so much to say and didn’t shy from that. Language wasn’t my strongest asset, but I made up for that by being genuine and original in the ideas I wanted to communicate. With time, my writing skills improved and so did my way of thinking. Suddenly, it became apparent to me that language is larger than numbers, and that thinking is bigger than logic. Playing with letters became much more fulfilling than playing with numbers, and coming up with an original idea started to make me happier than solving a mathematical equation.
After that, I decided to switch from Web Design into Social Media where I could do more writing and communication than coding and coloring. I was also able to collect my ideas and write my first novel “Aroos Amman” (The Bride of Amman) which witnessed success since it saw the light in 2012. The passion of connecting with people grew within me and I found myself longing to write more and more and shape myself into a fiction writer. I got a scholarship and went back to school. I did an MA in Creative Writing and Critical Thinking at the University of Sussex in the UK and graduated with a Merit.
(During the signing of my first book, Aroos Amman)
Today, I am waiting for the release of my second book “Janna Ala Al Ard” (Heaven on Earth), a science fiction story that builds on all the things I love: science, philosophy, exploration, language, logic, design, communication, achievement, and creativity.
I guess it came with age. At 36 years old now, I find myself passionate about many different things in life. I have more appetite for exploration and a much bigger arsenal of skills to portray things the way I want them to be.
My tumultuous career taught me that we may not always get exactly what we want, but, with time we learn to broaden our horizon and pick up whatever falls in our paths. We just have to keep on marching.
تامر أمين يثير الشارع المصري بعرض فيديو قصير لمجموعة من الشباب في حفل يدعي أنه حفل زفاف لرجلين تم في مصر ويدعو المصريين إلى هبة للوقوف ضد ما سماه المجاهرة في الفجور لحماية الأخلاق المصرية. تنتفض المباحث العامة المصرية، والتي يبدو أنها مازالت تعمل بنفس آلية وعقلية نظام مبارك، وتقبض على سبعة من الشباب حضروا الحفل وتحولهم إلى الطبيب الشرعي للكشف عنهم والتأكد من أنهم “مثليين”! يكشف الطب الشرعي على المتهمين ويخرج بتقرير يقر بأنه لم يظهر على أي منهم ممارسة اللواط.
مجموعة من الأخبار المجنونة التي تلخص تفاهة الفكر المجتمعي السائد وجهله لمبادىء الفكر السليم، عدم معرفته بماهية الجنسانية، وغياب الاحترام لحقوق وحريات الانسان الفردية. الإدعاء بأن حفل لمجموعة من الشباب أنه حفل زفاف، مثير للضحك، فالقضاء المصري لا يعترف بزواج المثليين وكذلك المؤسسة الدينية في مصر. لذلك فإن الحفل لا يمكن أن يكون حفل زفاف حتى لو ادعى القائمين عليه أنه كذلك، فهو يفتقد للمقومات الأساسية التي تعرف حفل الزفاف. تبادل خاتمي الذهب أو الألماس والرقص على أنغام الموسيقى لا يحول الحفل إلى زفاف، والتزام فردين في علاقة طويلة الأمد لا تعترف بشرعيتها إن لم يكن هنالك اعتراف رسمي من الدولة أو من مؤسسة دينية بها في مصر.
يشبه هذا المشهد الإعلامي المصري نفس المشهد الإعلامي الأردني في الأونة الأخيرة حين أبدع في اطلاق تسميات مختلفة على حفلات خاصة يقوم بها الشباب الأردني. فالحفلات التنكرية ذات التيم المختلفة أصبحت مهرجانات كبيرة تتعارض مع عادات وأخلاق المجتمع في نظر الصحفي صاحب الأخلاق الرفيعة والداعية الديني المتشبق للشهرة.
المحزن في القصة المصرية هو هبة المباحث العامة للقبض على هؤلاء الشباب وتحويلهم للطب الشرعي في مشهد مؤلم يغيب فيه احترام الانسان وجسده وخصوصيته. فالفحص الشرجي للتأكد من عدم ممارسة الشاب للجنس الشرجي هو امتهان للكرامة الإنسانية وكذلك مخالف للدستور المصري الذي لا يوجد به مادة تجرم هذا الفعل الجنسي. كذلك فإن الربط المباشر للميول الجنسي بالايلاج الشرجي يدل على جهل في فهم جنسانية الإنسان. فممارسة الرجل للجنس الشرجي كان مع رجل آخر أو إمرأة، حتى لو كان هو المستقبل في الفعل الجنسي مع امرأة تستخدم أداة جنسية، لا يعني أنه مثلي الجنس. وكذلك كشف الطب الشرعي عدم ظهور علامات لممارستهم الجنس الشرجي لا يعني أنهم ليسوا مثليين. وهنا تكمن المعضلة في التهمة الموجهة إليهم، حيث لا يمكن اتهامهم بأنهم مثليين لأن القانون المصري لا يجرم الميول الجنسي، ولا يمكن اتهامهم بممارسة اللواط لأن القانون كذلك لا يجرم الفعل الجنسي. القانون يجرم خدش الحياء العام، وهو نفس القانون المطاطي المطبق في الأردن والخاضع لمعايير الحياء الخاص لضابط المباحث العامة. هذا القانون جاهز لتجريم كل من لا يمتثل للصورة النمطية لما يراه المجتمع الذكوري مناسبا لشكل وحركة كل من الرجل والمرأة في المجتمع.
الحرية والعدالة الاجتماعية التي طالبت بها الثورة المصرية لا يمكن التقدم بها من دون نمو الوعي الشعبي ليعترف بأن الحرية تعني حرية الجميع والعدالة الاجتماعية تعني مساواة في حقوق كافة أفراد المجتمع بالتعبير عن أنفسهم سواء كان ذلك في اللفظ أو الكتابة أو الجسد. لربما تكون الثورة أخطأت في توجهها السياسي، فحاجتنا اليوم أقوى إلى ثورة إجتماعية تزيح الفرعون القابع في عقولنا وتعيد تشكلينا تحت مبادىء حقوق الإنسان العالمية.
Tima Shomali: I believe now is the time for Jordanian TV to rise.
Many young talents have emerged in the TV and Film production industry in the past few years but no one were as successful and productive as Tima Shomali. In less than five years, she starred in three popular TV shows, produced two of them, started her own production house, and working on a new production that aims to make Jordanian drama sell in the region.
With more than 285K fan on her Facebook page, 86K follower on Instagram, 69K follower on Twitter, and millions of accumulated views on her youtube’s Fe-male show, Tima is certainly a national phenomena.
While visiting Dubai on a business trip, I had the chance to chat with her, asked her about her beginnings, challenges of Jordanian dram and her future plans. Read the full interview below:
Fadi: You are the most successful young actress in Jordan with an impressive track record of quality TV productions starting from Bath Bayakha to Fe-male (two seasons) and Zain. All of that happened in a short period of time and at a time where many young talents of your generation are fighting hard to find an opportunity in an industry that is still in its infancy.
I remember first time I saw you at the Royal Film Commission in 2009, you were merely starting. Back then you were working on developing a short film script. Few months later you attended the 3-weeks comprehensive film making workshop and were happy to stand behind the camera taking the director role. A year later you applied to RISCA and were among the first batch of film makers graduates. Then we saw you on TV in the successful first season of Bath Bayakha.
Tell us more, how did that? How did you reach this far?
Tima: First of all thank you, I do not consider myself an actress as much as a storyteller, whether it was by writing, acting or producing stories that i would like to tell.
I have the passion for story telling since i was a kid, and how I reached this far is by hard work and God’s well.
Fadi: I feel sad that RISCA couldn’t survive for a longer time. I heard the news last year from Fadi Haddad (Director of When Monaliza smiled) and Nadia Olewat (Producer of the same film), two RISCA graduates who moved to teach at the American University in Dubai. How do you rate your experience at the school? how do you feel about the fact that it is closed now? Do you think there is a market for such caliber of film making graduates in Jordan?
Tima: Its really sad that RSICA had to shut down, but schools like this have lots of costs and is very expensive to operate, and if
there are no students that are able to pay the high fees how do we expect it to survive? and as you know i don’t think we have the mentality yet in our culture for the majority to pay high fees for what most consider a risky career specially in Jordan, its sad but its true!
I have graduated from RSICA with MFA degree in producing/writing and I am a RSICA baby. RSICA is one of the main reasons of what I am now to be honest, I owe it a lot and it was the best time of my life.
Fadi: One of my favorite episodes on Bath Bayakha 2, it is also one of the most popular episodes on youtube with more than 400K views, is “Al Hakika Al Murra” (the ugly truth). Like Aroos Amman, it hit a sensitive nerve of young Jordanian women obsessed in marriage. Do you remember the reactions to that episode?
Tima: I joined Bath baykha team as a writer and lead female actress for 2011 season. It was the first thing I did after graduating from RSICA and it was a great experience.
“The ugly truth” sketch was very popular I think because it was very real and people related to it. Its like the things we all know its a fact but we never talk about it.
Fadi: Bath Bayakha started as an online show, right?
Tima: Bath bayakha started online and then it became an online and TV show, it was aired on OSN and Roya TV.
Fadi: You also started Fe-male as an online show before taking it to the screen and showing it on Ro’ya. How did the online sphere helped you? and what opportunities are their online for young talents?
Tima: I really think that what actually helped my career is the online platform, because it has no rules, you create your own rules, and anyone – I mean it – anyone can do something and show it online now. It gave a chance to all talented people to showcase themselves. It is easy to put it online but that doesn’t mean its easy to succeed. Its actually very hard, first of all because the online generation are really picky, and they choose what they see its not forced on them like TV, second of all there is a lot of competition out there, but for me the secret for any thing to succeed online is not the quality, not the star, its the unique content, thats the secret. Work on your content and then everything else will come by default. If you succeeded to have a a good content you’ll attract people, and step by step you’ll be able to work on the quality.. and other stuff, and thats how it happened for me in Fe-male show, its started a one woman show online, and then it developed to have a full crew not leads than 25 people working on it, other than the actors, and we got sponsors who invested in the show, and then it developed to be on TV. its a ladder, you climb it along the way as long as you have the right base, which is good content.
Tima Shomali: for me the secret for any thing to succeed online is not the quality, not the star, its the unique content, thats the secret
Fadi: In Fe-male you are a writer, a producer and an actress, how did you manage to take on all of these roles and come up with such quality production? Was the show your idea?
Tima: Fe-male show to me is my starting point, before that i was not 100% sure I can continue in the field and not have a side job. I didn’t know even if it can be an actual career, because its really risky. But after Fe-male show I realized this is what I want to do and fight for for the rest of my life – film and TV productions.
Fadi: I loved the modern reflection of Jordanian young women in the show, it is the first time that we saw such true manifestation of young couples in West Amman. In the past, Jordanian drama focused on Bedouin or small towns outside the capital. It was a fresh experience to watch something that is closer to our lives on screen. Do you think that’s one of the reasons behind the success of the show?
Tima: Fe-male show was an instant hit. I didn’t expect that to be honest, but I think it got popular because it is natural, real, close to people, and you start to feel that the characters are your friends because we actually talk to the audience. It was the characters stress release moments when they’re in the studio and able to say what they actually feel to their audience, and because the subject, which is the couple relationship is attractive and everyone goes through these things! or know someone who does.
Fadi: Fe-male was very balanced in criticising both genders. Tima represented the rebellious young woman and Raja’e was the lazy young man. They both stepped up to their responsibilities as a newly wed couple in the second season. We loved their quarrels and arguments. Is there a 3rd season planned?
Tima: When Fe-male show was created, it had no plan to continue for many seasons, so its hard to force seasons on it just because it was a hit!
I do believe in the saying “quit while you’re on top”, maybe in the future there will be a spin-off or something, but at the moment there is nothing planned.
Fadi: You started your own TV production House “Filmizion”. It was behind the production of Fe-male show. You have also produced Zain (not through Filmizion though). Tell me more about your production experience. What are the challenges you faced in the Jordanian market? You told me before that it is still hard to sell Jordanian drama in the region and that you are on a mission to change that. What’s your plan?
Tima: My theory, Jordanian drama sells in jordan but doesn’t sell to the whole arab world (except the Bedouin series of course). The only drama that succeeded to cross barriers to the whole arab world were the Egyptian and Syrian drama, so that makes it hard to sell a pure Jordanian show out of the blue – at least not with full Jordanian cast to the arab world, specially that Jordanian culture and accent are not very familiar to arab audience just yet.
We need to make jordanian drama (modern one) known for arabs in a clever way, which I think could be in having multi-arab nationalities stars in a Jordanian production, and then, i believe, step by step, we can slowly have an independent Jordanian drama that sells to the arab world
Trying to finance a project is really hard, for Jordan, because we are still young as an industry (not as individuals), but i think the past two years Jordan started to boom, and I believe now is the time for jordanian TV to rise.
Fadi: What’s your upcoming project?
Tima: Actually now i am dedicating my full time and effort for a new project “كباتن” (Capaten), a Jordanian production yet an arab series. Its the production of my company Filmizion in partnership with Bayt alshawareb productions, and i have lots of passion for this project and hopefully you’ll hear the news about it soon!
Fadi: Can you tell us more about Capaten?
Tima: I can’t at the moment share information about the show, but hopefully soon i can share more info.
Fadi: We love you and proud to have such a young Jordanian talent. We look forward to watch “Capaten” on screen in the near future.
In may she celebrated me on her radio show “Celebrity of the week” on BeatFM, and today I am celebrating her on my blog. At the time, she told me that she is preparing a musical comedy TV show with Jana Zeineddin to be aired in Ramadan on Ro’ya. Being already a fan of her after seeing her performing with Dozan Awtar last Christmas, I was looking forward for the show. Though I have to admit that I didn’t expect Fa Sol Ya to be of this quality, it was a nice surprise to see such brilliant new genre hitting the local screen. An entertaining quality musical production that captured our hearts in Ramadan. I was surprised to see myself rewinding and watching the episodes over and over again because of its lovely music.
This is the first time I use this platform to interview other people. I believe that we have so much talents in Jordan and little media coverage. Lama Zakharia (@lamaonbeat) is a brilliant young star. Watch out for the name which I predict to become a very important regional star in few years down the road. I asked her about her talent, Fa Sol Ya, her stand on sexual harassment and women rights, her views about women in the production industry in Jordan and more.
Read the full interview below:
Fadi: You are an actress, singer and radio show hostess. There is so much going on in your life and you are multi-talented. Tell us more, who is Lama Zakharia?
Lama: I’m actually undergoing an experimental phase in my life doing all these things mentioned above. Like any 24 year-old, I’m just trying to discover where I stand and really understand what my ideals are. I am also fortunate to have a very supportive family who is pushing me towards perusing my passions which will ultimately help me answer “who is Lama Zakharia” for real.
Fadi: Lets start with your latest, Fa Sol Ya. There is much creativity and talent in the show. There is good chemistry among the cast and the music is just brilliant. How would you define Fa Sol Ya? Whose idea was it? and how did you guys develop it into production?
Lama: Atef Malhas (a guitarist and friend) and I were approached for our work in ‘Kash Kash’ by Shashat with interest to develop our concept for TV during Ramadan. At this point I brought in Jana Zeineddine to act as a creative comedic consultant and felt we would be a good match. After many discussions and meetings with Shashat, Atef and I decided that this was not the favorable direction to take Kash Kash into. Once we had the concept fine tuned, to take social issues and conceptualize them through musical comedy, Fa Sol Ya was born. The idea was to take a pop song, put some Arabic lyrics, (develop a story with 3-dimensional characters) and make it happen on TV. The more Jana and I worked on concepts, the more I realized what a good match we are. I needed comedic guidance, she was there to offer it, she needed more Jordanian cultural insight, I was there for that, and most of all, we had the same exact type of humor. She became basically, my creative soul sister.
Fadi: What are the reactions for the show so far?
Lama: Extreme I can say. People either love it or hate it! I feel the general Jordanian audience is warming up to it but the idea is still foreign and bizarre for many. As for people who have been exposed to musicals before regardless of their background, they seem to understand us more and appreciate what we’re doing.
Also, in each episode we are introducing a different type of comedy – from dark humor to absurdist to situational – and comedy is culturally specific. People will react to it with apprehension initially if it’s not familiar to them, and that is something that we have been seeing. However, part of our show’s goal was to expose Jordanian audiences to the many different types of comedy, and music was a great vehicle with which to do that.
Fadi: How do you feel about the reactions?
Lama: I have to admit, being my first experience, I was hurt, shocked, and hopeless when I saw all the negative comments on Youtube. But later on when I started listening to the positive ones. I realized, as Jana would say, extreme reactions are better than no reaction. It means that our performance has affected someone at some level.
Also, as you mentioned, many of our episodes confront social issues head on, and for some audiences, that can be uncomfortable and cause extreme reactions as well. Many of the negative comments reflect a lack of understanding of the episode’s intention, and that is to be expected.
Fadi: You are right, extreme reactions are better than no reaction. Is there any specific reaction that you remember and like to share with us? a positive or negative one?
Lama: There was one reaction directed towards the 2atayef song where people claimed we should not have thrown food on the floor, and especially not during Ramadan. I have to say we tried our best to be culturally sensitive, but some people still felt personally insulted rather than entertained.
We always tried our best to keep the balance between taking risks to reach the level of comedy we felt was right and downplaying lyrics or plots to avoid certain discomfort. It’s not a question of not taking risks with the issues we address or the way they are presented and performed, but rather maintaining a level of cultural sensitivity. Jana and I have many ideas that we would still love to present at a future date and will hopefully be able to balance between challenging cultural norms and drawing awareness to issues while maintaining a high level of comedy. At the end of the day, Fa Sol Ya is a new concept that’s bound to receive mixed responses. The good thing is I learned a lot about my society and how I can work on my delivery for the future.
Fadi: I have been really enjoying the show mostly for the music, and your voice of course. Who picked the music?
Lama: Thank you Fadi so much. You’re so supportive!. Some songs came from personal inspirations and some came from Jana. We followed our impulses mainly when selecting what songs to use. Each episode has a different story and we really were on the same page with our vision which made the creative and song selection process smooth. Also working with a genius arranger like Nareg Abajian, and a highly talented sound producer Qusai Diqer (who were both in Syria) was challenging but so rewarding. We also had the support and the amazing spirit of Saeed Bazouqa from Loriana studios when we were recording the vocals which facilitated the process.
Fadi: I loved most of the episodes I watched. You have tackled different issues such as corruption, tawjihi, media, parliament among others. My personal favorite is “Ramadan Song – Katayef”. It is a dark comedy that touched me strongly and made me feel bad about what mothers go through on a daily basis (Alla ye3eenhom). I like the feminist edge in it.
Which is your favorite episode? Why?
Lama: Wow! I’m always happy when someone gets what we mean! That’s exactly what we meant by the 2atayef song and Jana portrayed that extreme emotion with perfection. My personal favorite is actually Darbet 6arab. I am actually proud that we managed to produce a classical medley of Arab pop songs. I’m also in love with how it was shot even though, believe it or not, it was all last minute. I just love how this one was delivered.
Fadi: The first time I have seen you acting what on stage at Christmas time with Dozan Awtar. I instantly fall in love with the grandma character you played. The play itself was a nice breeze and captured Christmas spirit very well. I can see some of Dozan’s cast playing on your side in Fa Sol Ya, you guys make a brilliant group. Tell us more about Dozan Wa Awtar. How did you get involved with them? any future plans for the group that you’d like to share with us?
Lama: Dozan Wa Awtar is the backbone behind this project in many ways. Firstly, I met the musical mastermind Nareg Abajian through Dozan. I’ve also met my creative sister Jana through Dozan as the director of Project Christmas which you’ve mentioned above. Most importantly, this establishment is such a unique loving and supporting family, they just made the process of performing and recording more professional, smoother, and even more enjoyable. As for future plans, there will always be future plans I am part of Dozan after all.
Fadi: I really love your voice. Would you ever consider developing your own pop music album? I’d certainly be the first one to buy it.
Lama: Thank you! Actually at this stage, not really sure I can go down this road. I believe any person who wants to be a singer, let alone a composer or a lyric writer, should work a lot on themselves before earning that title. Once I’m satisfied with what I’m doing and can plaster a label on my forehead I’ll go ahead with it and present the first copy to you Fadi J
Fadi: That’s a day I look forward to.
Fadi: Have you seen the horrible video of the gang sexual harassment in Irbid? You have once addressed the issue with music and delivered a strong message in your show Kashkhash. How was the reactions to that? What’s Kashkhash? and how do you think we could fight such phenomena?
Lama: I think this issue is one that angers me the most in life. I will continue writing music about this and I even have something in mind to tackle this Irbid issue particularly. I think exposure is the first step towards reaching a better place than we’re in. Making people realize “THIS IS WRONG” is what we need to do first. If you look at the comments on the video, many commenters think the girls deserve this treatment. Let’s first make it visible to people how wrong it is through music, awareness campaigns, videos, verbal expression and then we can move forward to more targeted measures. This is a deeply ingrained cultural problem. More so than a sexual one. That’s my opinion.
Fadi: On may, I was honored to be hosted in your show “Celebrity of the Week” on Beat FM. How is the show going? Who was your favorite celebrity to host?
Lama: I loved that interview! Especially that I’m a huge fan of yours (funny you’re interviewing me now) “wa7de b wa7de”! lol. The show is good I keep learning every day and that is my favorite feature as I get to meet amazing people like you. My favorite was Tim Sebastian the interviewer of the year several times in Britain. He was a tough cookie. Loved interviewing him. Learned a lot from that.
Fadi: There are so much young talents in Jordan. The Royal Film Commission trained many in Film and TV production but we are yet to see the industry mature. At the front of the industry we see some women leading the way such as Nadine Toukan, Rula Nasser, Tima Al Shomali, Rania Kurdi, Saba Mubarak and Jana Zeineddine. What do you think of the creative industry as a good platform to change cultural norms and push women rights? Do you think that you (women) have done enough on that front?
Lama: I think the industry still needs more female presence. I love and respect any woman who merely expresses herself in a public way. That is enough for me. I just think more women should do it and with more intensity. I think the creative industry serves as a platform for “exposure” which is the first step to changing cultural norms. But I don’t think it’s enough on its own. You have to add all the other ingredients to form a noticeable change.
Fadi: Have you watched Fe-male past Ramadan? What do you think?
Lama: Yes some episodes! I am a fan of Tima just because she’s never afraid of being goofy on TV. She really opened up that space for a lot of women. She’s quite bold and I love it.
Fadi: and Rania Show?
Lama: That was the talk of the town when it was on which is GREAT. I want to see more female-led comedy and Rania is so talented in that way. She was bold, challenged some boundaries, and led to some talk which is what we need for this industry to start growing.
Fadi: One last question, what are your future plans?
Lama: I am now considering studying music professionally as a basic plan to be able to be more technically adept and more capable vocally. When and where this will happen I can’t answer honestly because I decided on that just three days ago. This is how spontaneous my life has been. I just hope I’ll still have the resilience to offer something to my community in the long run. I’ve learned through my first experience that this industry is the hardest to work in Jordan. Hopefully it will be easier for people like Jana and I to keep going the way we are down a much smoother road.
I would say that Ken Follet is by far my favorite writer. He came to my attention in 2007 by Oprah Winfrey when she selected his book “The Pillars of the Earth” for her book club. When I picked up the book, I couldn’t put it down despite its 1000 pages. It was as she put it back then “a page turner”. Two years later I read the sequel “World Without End” and was reminded of how exciting reading for Ken Follet is.
Ken Follet writes history fiction, the first two novels I mentioned above addresses a middle-age England and shows the power struggle of the elite at a time where the Church dominated the political and social life in Europe. There are so much parallel lines to draw between then and today’s rise of Islam and state of Arabic world. As George Santayana once said “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”, we have obviously failed to learn anything.
That goes too for Ken Follet century trilogy, “Fall of Giants’, “Winder of the World” and soon to be released final instalment in the trilogy “Edge of Eternity”. In the first book he covers the state of events in World War I, in the second – the subject of this review – covers World War II, and the third one will be addressing the cold war.
Why do we fail to learn from History?
I remember when they taught us history at school how they addressed World War II. It was a major chapter on modern history but cut down for a brief main points to memorise back then: The reason behind the eruption of the war, the major countries involved, and the results. It was never complimented with any fiction recommendation to read in order to grasp a better understanding of what happened at the time.
In comparison, in my Creative Writing and Critical Thinking MA, I had a course entitled “The Novel and History” that focused on World War II. I read many novels that gave me a closer understanding of what happened in different areas affected by the war such as the state of affairs in Poland prior of the German Invasion in “The Tin Drum” for Gunter Grass, or the life in the international settlement in China at the time of the Japanese invasion in “When We Were Orphans” for Kazuo Ishiguro.
Understanding history is never an easy task, but outlining it the way they teach it in our schools is a total failure. I personally believe that reading historical fiction is the best way to learn history and if you ask me to recommend the best fiction to understand World War II, I would say without hesitation “Winter of the World” for Ken Follet.
Brutality of war
In his previous books, Ken Follet never shies in showing the brutality of wars and conflict, but he tops himself in this book. There is nothing that matches the effect of the death of a dear one in the hands of his beloved. Follet knows that very well and used it in many incidents in the book. He toys with the read, keeps us hanging with a glimpse of hope that a certain character, who had gone through a brutal torture would make it and live, only to kill him abruptly showing us the insanity of human beings.
In a scene towards the beginning of the book, he successfully depicts the brutality of the Nazis in a concentration camp. He shows how corruption and hatred unite to punish a gay couple who owned a restaurant in Berlin at the time of the rise of the Nazis. A corrupted police officer forces the owner to sign off the restaurant to his brother by torturing his boyfriend in front of him. He blind fold the victim in a wired surrounded area and let savage dogs eat him alive in front of his boyfriend. When the boyfriend surrender and agrees to sign on his ownership in the restaurant in order to have the chance to hold his boyfriend who was brutally attacked, he kills the boyfriend in his hands.
In a similar incident he kills one of his major characters, Walter. Walter is a German who comes from an aristocratic family, fought in the front line for Germany in World War I, and opposed courageously the rise of the Nazis. He gets his brutally beaten in his old age and throws him at the doorstep of his home, only to die in the hands of wife.
There is no shortage of brutal scenes in the book, and that’s a good trick to give a glimpse of the horrors of the war. The most brutal and hard wrenching one I would say is the scene of Carla’s group rape. It is the most shocking brutal scene I have ever read that combines the ambivalence of hatred and love of humanity.
Ideologies and today’s events
The book shows us the rise and fall of Fascism in Europe. It highlights the conflict between communism, democracy and fascism. A deep ideological battle that is not far from today’s ideological battle in the middle east between religious fascism, nationalistic fascism and democracy. I guess that is a stage of a society maturity where it struggles to define the appropriate path for its future. Unfortunate this madness that precedes adulthood leaves a big scare behind it.
One thing that you can’t miss readying the book is seeing the similarities between the brutality of the Nazis towards the Jews and the brutality of Israel towards Palestinians today. It feels that no one has actually learnt from history and that we tend to repeat it more often than we think.
Human history is full of brutality and heroism. We can be mad and sane at the same time, we murder and we build. We never learn and learn much. We print our past with blood, but hope for a better future. I just hope that one day, we could put all that madness behind us, and champion love.
جاء ذلك الفيديو الذي انتشر عبر وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي كي يكون بداية لدعوة مكافحة التحرش الجنسي في الاردن، وتبعا لذلك أكد وزير العدل الدكتور بسام التلهوني أن اللجنة القانونية التي تعمل حاليا على مراجعة قانون العقوبات ستشدد العقوبة على الأفعال التي تصدر عن فئة الأشخاص التي تخرج عن عادات وأخلاق مجتمعنا الأردني المحافظ. المصدر
تأتي تصريحات وزير العدل الدكتور بسام التلهوني كرد فعل على انتشار فيديو التحرش الجنسي الجماعي في إربد والغضب الشعبي المرافق له. وفقا للوزير، فإن الحل المطروح يكمن في تشديد العقوبات على الأفعال التي تخرج عن عادات وأخلاق مجتمعنا الأردني المحافظ، وهو يتابع في التصريح الصحفي الذي أدلى به ليقول بأن قانون العقوبات يقر بأن أفعال التحرش الجنسي تحاسب تحت باب الفعل المنافي للحياء، وهو هنا يقصد القانون المطاطي للحياء العام.
لقد تعودنا القوانين المطاطية عند المشرع الأردني وكذلك تعودنا الحلول السهلة الخاطئة التي تعالج المشكلة في واحدة أكبر منها وذلك لأن المشاكل الاجتماعية التي تظهر نتيجة العقلية الذكورية السائدة تعالج في العادة بنفس العقلية الذكورية! فمثلا ارتأى المشرع الأردني اسقاط عقوبة الاغتصاب عن المغتصب إن تزوج ضحيته كي يتجنب التوجه الاجتماعي بقتل الضحية. على نفس المنوال تتجنب الحكومة الأردنية تعميم تجربة المدارس المختلطة العامة كي لا يحرم الأهالي بناتهم من التعليم. وهنا الأمر لا يختلف ابدا، فتغليظ عقوبة الحياء العام، وإن كان الغرض منها معاقبة المتحرش جنسيا، إلا أنها فضفاضة وقد تستعمل لمعاقبة الضحية من النساء اللواتي خالفن الحياء العام من وجهة نظر القاضي وخرجن عن “عادات وأخلاق مجتمعنا الأردني المحافظ” بلباسهن الذي قد يعتبر غير محتشم.
قانون الحياء العام سيف ذو حدين، فهو قد يكون فعال في محاربة بعض الأفعال الاجتماعية الضارة ولكنه مطاطي وضيق بضيق الحياء الخاص للقاضي مستلم القضية أو ضيق الحياء الخاص للشرطي مطبق القانون. المطلوب قانون خاص للتحرش الجنسي يكون واضح وصريح، يوضح بالتفصيل ما هو التحرش الجنس وما هي أنواعه وما هي عقوبة حالاته المختلفة.
أتمنى من المشرع الأردني أن يكون أكثر شفافية ودقة في القوانين المطروحة كي لا يمعن في ظلم الضحية ولا يعتدي على الحريات الفردية. قانون الحياء العام يقيد حرية الأفراد في المجمتع حسب المنظومة الأخلاقية لمطبق القانون بسبب مطاطيته. يجب علينا الغائه اليوم والتعويض عنه بقوانين مختلفة تعالج المشاكل المختلفة كل على حدى.
لا مجال للكسل في التشريع، ولا مجال لظلم الضحية ولا للحلول الخاطئة بعد اليوم..