Friday, March 09, 2007

When

Wajeha Al-Huwaider, a reformist author and journalist in Saudi Arabia, along with others, wrote the poem "When," which she calls "an ode to the troubles of the Arab citizen." The invaluable MEMRI has translated an edited version:


When you cannot find a single garden in your city, but there is a mosque on every corner - you know that you are in an Arab country…

When you see people living in the past with all the trappings of modernity - do not be surprised, you are in an Arab country.

When religion has control over science - you can be sure that you are in an Arab country.

When clerics are referred to as 'scholars' - don't be astonished, you are in an Arab country.

When you see the ruler transformed into a demigod who never dies or relinquishes his power, and whom nobody is permitted to criticize - do not be too upset, you are in an Arab country.

When you find that the large majority of people oppose freedom and find joy in slavery - do not be too distressed, you are in an Arab country.

When you hear the clerics saying that democracy is heresy, but [see them] seizing every opportunity provided by democracy to grab high positions [in the government] - do not be surprised, you are in an Arab country…

When monarchies turn into theocracies, and republics into hybrids of monarchy and republic - do not be taken aback, you are in an Arab country.

When you find that the members of parliament are nominated [by the ruler], or else that half of them are nominated and the other half have bought their seats through bribery… - you are in an Arab country…

When you discover that a woman is worth half of what a man is worth, or less - do not be surprised, you are in an Arab country…

When you see that the authorities chop off a man's hand for stealing a loaf of bread or a penny, but praise and glorify those who steal billions - do not be too surprised, you are in an Arab country…

When you are forced to worship the Creator in school and your teachers grade you for it - you can be sure that you are in an Arab country…

When young women students are publicly flogged merely for exposing their eyes - you are in an Arab country…

When a boy learns about menstruation and childbirth but not about his own [body] and [the changes] it undergoes in puberty - roll out your prayer mat and beseech Allah to help you deal with your crisis, for you are in an Arab country…

When land is more important than human beings - you are in an Arab country…

When covering the woman's head is more important than financial and administrative corruption, embezzlement, and betrayal of the homeland - do not be astonished, you are in an Arab country…

When minorities are persecuted and oppressed, and if they demand their rights, are accused of being a fifth column or a Trojan horse - be upset, you are in an Arab country…

When women are [seen as] house ornaments which can be replaced at any time - bemoan your fate, you are in an Arab country.

When birth control and family planning are perceived as a Western plot - place your trust in Allah, you are in an Arab country…

When at any time, there can be a knock on your door and you will be dragged off and buried in a dark prison - you are in an Arab country…

When fear constantly lives in the eyes of the people - you can be certain that you are in an Arab country.

4 Comments:

Blogger Tom said...

Very good, and sadly accurate.

That Wajeha Al-Huwaider is described as a reformer and not a moderate tells me she is someone worth listening to.

What's the difference you ask?

After an act of terrorism carried out by say al Qaeda, we ask a moderate and a reformer what they think

The moderate condemns the attack but says that Islam has nothing to do with it.

The reformer condemns the attack but says that yes, Islam drove the attackers, and that the Koran et al needs reinterpretation. Until Muslims face the facts of how the words etc of Muhammed are interpreted and taught we're going to continue to have problems.

Sat Mar 10, 12:24:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Bill. said...

Hi Tantor,
Can you drop me a line? I have a couple of questions for you about the Walter Reed protests. Thanks.
Cheers,
Bill Putnam.

Mon Mar 12, 12:36:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Tantor said...

Bill,

I don't see an email address in your profile nor blog. You can reach me at the email link in the upper right corner of my blog which will take you to mightytantor@yahoo.com.

Mon Mar 12, 01:43:00 PM 2007  
Anonymous hoads said...

Hi Tantor,
I was hoping you would be an eyewitness again. Incredible coverage--the best anywhere on the net. I thought you might post your link at powerline and since you didn't--I did. Thanks--what a great service you did in your thorough and witty coverage of this event.
hoads

Mon Mar 19, 05:59:00 PM 2007  

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