The choice: A letter to my mother, and everyone else


A dear brave gay friend of mine came out to his mother two months ago. He wrote this touching letter and asked me to published it on my blog:

The choice: A letter to my mother, and everyone else.

You choose to be gay, and you can “unchoose” it.

Do we choose to cast disappointment on those we love the most?

Do we choose to rob ourselves from the look of love and pride our parents reserve for our siblings who marry their opposite sex?

Do we choose to worry about what the next door neighbours will think and if they’ll report us to the police?

Do we choose to uproot ourselves from everything we know and lived with, every single time a government cracks down on us and we seek refuge somewhere else, amongst foreigners who never saw us battle through our lives since our childhood?

Do we choose to not get married right now because the country we live in doesn’t recognize our union, and one of us has a passport that doesn’t allow us to rest our tired souls on its soil, unless we get married somewhere else, away from everyone that have witnessed our birth and childhood?

Do we choose to worry about, if one of us gets sick and needs rushing to the hospital, what story we’d come up with about the nature of our relationship to the nurse and doctors?

Do we choose to worry about the people who always see us together, grocery shopping, going to the gym, checking in at hotels and ordering a king size bed?

Do we choose to have to delete any of our endearing messages and photographs on our phone should we detained at the airport security offices, in fear that we’d be put in hal and deported?

Do we choose to turn our backs on those we thought love us without any boundaries, because all they us to be is like the rest?

Do we choose to run to every single grave we know, asking their inhabitants if indeed Hell is reserved for us?

We choose to live through it all, because at the end of the day, our love for each other, and for our own selves, is worth it. This is the choice we make. Every single second of every single day.

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A tale of two singers: Elissa and Fadel Shaker – the ambivalence of the Arabic culture


Fadel Shaker holding a gun

Fadel Shaker holding a gun

Elissa winning two Murex D'or Award 2013

Elissa winning two Murex D’or Awards 2013

A few years ago, Elissa and Fadel Shaker came together into a duet song called “Gowwa Al Ro7” (inside the soul); a romantic song of two lovers conversing how much they love each other. At that time, it was a perfect match for two of the most popular Arab singers who excelled in these types of songs. Fadel was no less romantic than Elissa, and his songs carried no less love.

Fast forward to the 23th of Jun, 2013 (yesterday), Elissa is on stage in one of the biggest celebrations of the TV industry in the Arab World, The Murex D’or, celebrating her success with two awards: Best Lebanese Singer, and Best Arabic Song “As3ad Wahdah” (the happiest). On the other hand, Fadel Shaker is sieged in a Mosque in the Lebanese town Seida, and fighting with a terrorist Salafi group against the official Lebanese army. On stage, Elissa appears in an extravagant white dress, she talks about how she doesn’t feel being the happiest tonight for one can’t help it not to be affected by the killings happening on the ground, but yet what makes her happy is the fact that this event is actually taking place and that people are still celebrating music and life. In a video that came out early in the same day, Fadel Shaker appears with a long beard, cursing Hezb Allah and his leader Hassan Nasrullah and threatening – actually promising that he will – to kill the mayor of Seida.

Seeing Fadel Shaker in video talking like that is mind boggling. I can never understand how a man who has an angelic voice and who has been singing for love for many years drops everything and becomes an agent of hatred and murder. I don’t want to play the devil advocate here, but watching other videos for him, he comes across to be sincere in terms of believing in the cause he is fighting for. One can’t deny the horrors happening in Syria, and the urges of wanting to stop the killings is totally natural, still the means of defending those innocent people are questionable. I would rather see him fighting with his voice, singing for that nation, singing for peace and harmony, that would be much more effective than joining the devilish game. That’s what Elissa is doing. She has never shied of speaking up her political stand. She probably hates Hassan Nasrullah and Bashar Al Asad even more than Fadel, but she expresses that in words, not bullets.

But looking at the photos of both singers above, I can’t help myself thinking about the gender divide in the Arab world. We regularly talk about the injustice women face in the Arab world, and that is totally true and I am an avid advocate for the fight against that injustice, but taking a closer look, one would wonder if men are in no less horrible situation. In fact, Arab men are on the track of a death discourse. The value of life has taken a backseat next to distorted values of honor and pride.

If one looks at the most Arab followed tweeps online, one would see the list is divided between the female lebanese singers and the religious Saudi leaders! In fact Elissa herself enjoyed more than 1,375,000 follower and is ranked at number 4 in terms of online influence in the MENA region according to Klout. In comparison, Fadel Shaker’s twitter account shows 147,830 follower. That is a huge indication of the polarisation taking place in the Arab world between religious and non-religious people and how men and women fit into that.

While no body can deny Elissa’s popularity, one can not also deny that there is a big side of the Arabic culture that looks down at her and what she represents. In her fist video clip she appears with no clothes, only a blanket that covers her body and moves along with the wind. The song, “Baddi Doub” was a big hit, but Elissa had to fight for years to prove herself and break out of the accusations of her using her body to overcome her weak voice. The “blanket singer” is still how many sees her today after more than 15 years of her career.  It is also true that her appearance in that clip opened the door for a new wave of singers that flaunted their sexuality and femininity to gain popularity, something that is rejected by many men and women in the Arab world.

If you look at Fadel Shaker’s singing career, he had to face nothing of that. After all, he is a man. He has been pretty much respected for his voice and his songs. Sadly, he asked people not to listen to his music for he believes it is forbidden (haram!). What is interesting is the reaction of people to that change. While many people have been cursing and insulting him for appearing like a terrorist and fighting the Lebanese Army, others on twitter have been applauding him for “repenting” and choosing Allah’s path. They see him as a hero who is fighting to protect his fellow Sunneh.

For me, I would vote for Elissa heroism all the way. We had a history of looking down upon female artists especially those who escapes the boundaries of the culture and celebrates their femininity. For some, it may be an over exposer of women sexuality and objectifying of the subject of women, yet it may very well be what were are missing these days; more women celebrating their gender expressions in whatever way they see fit.

I really wish Fadel Shaker was there yesterday next to Elissa on stage, receiving an award for celebrating life.

A week of positive news, who is in?


We are sick of all the negativity in the mainstream news and which people pick up and share on their social media accounts. We want to raise our voices and demand highlighting positive and happy news in this country. We know that there is so much love to share. We will not share any negative news in the coming week. Who is in?

A week of good news

A week of good news

أسبوع للأخبار الحلوة
أسبوع للأخبار الحلوة

A short Story: The Table


7005252-chips-and-ace-king-hand-on-a-gambling-tableOn new year’s eve, it was okay to gamble. As a child, I have never connected the dots, didn’t know what gambling really means, and didn’t reflect on its connection with the grown-ups table that shows some seriousness and tension and attracts lots of attention at the extended-family end of year, longest night, party. The music was usually up, family members chat chat chat all over the place, kids get to catch up and lern better about their second cousins. TV was usually on, out loud, specially at the moment where the year ends and another year comes into play. Cheers, screams, countdown, hugs, kisses, congratulations, love, but the silent table stays out of this world. Wives, run to hug their table husbands, and kids rush to wish their dads a happy new year.

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When Monaliza Smiled: smoothes the hardship of reality with the tenderness of love


When Monaliza Smiled – Jordanian Movie

When Monaliza Smiled, we smiled.

Many familiar faces attended the private screening of the new Jordanian romantic comedy “When Monaliza Smiled” film yesterday at the Royal Film Commission yesterday. Faces that included many well known bloggers, online faces, and young talents involved in the local films scene.

The film that is set to hit local theaters soon is another major milestone that highlights the emergence of a dream to create a film industry in Jordan. The film industry which is still at its infancy, has no pre-set formulas, no expectations and no previous success stories to copy. All what it has is some very well trained and talented young Jordanians who are courageous enough to take on the challenge of doing their own experimentations and carve the stone for generations to come.

That what makes this film unique in many ways.

It is VERY much “Jordanian”. A love story that builds comical situations on highlighting stereotypes in this country with a romantic lens that gives a “feel good” to the whole experience. It smoothes the hardship of reality with the tenderness of love. A glimpse of light that brought hope back to my heart knowing that no matter how social restrictions grow, humanity will always find a place for love and happiness.

Ironically the cheerful part of the film came from the Egyptian worker main character. He added an Egyptian edge that reminded us of how much we love Misr. A bridge that was smartly (not sure if intentionally) built between the infant Jordanian film industry and that well established historical Egyptian film legacy.

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The fruit of the Spirit


I believe that the meaning of a name does indeed have a certain effect on his/her carrier. For me, Fadi, which means the savior, has always translated into a need that grew inside of me to help other people. While being lazy has always prevented me of doing any help the requires “movement”, helping through talking to people and easing their pain through words has become something that I love to do.

Yesterday I have received a wonderful birthday gift from a wonderful person who have been very supportive for me lately. She put it in a touching story..

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