Monday, April 11, 2011

Towards Justice and Global Integrity

Greetings everyone,
In conjunction with the rapid revolutionary peaceful demonstrations currently occurring across the Arab World. I've decided to publish my participating essay in the global peace initiative organized by The Goi Peace Foundation & UNESCO and Endorsed by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan, Japanese National Commission for UNESCO, Japan Broadcasting Corporation, Nikkei Inc. and Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education.

Note: The content of the essay is free to be shared on the condition that the author's name should be referenced.


Towards Justice and Global Integrity
“Where there is no justice there can be no secure peace”
Aung San Suu Kyi (Essay in Quest of Democracy)

Nowadays, the world is experiencing a rapid change in all aspects of life. After the World War II, people around the globe started to realize how important is to spread peace and harmony among mankind. The United Nations Organization came into existence by the demands of the world community to increase cooperation and understanding between its nations. Sadly, such initiatives haven’t stopped conflicts from being erupted. Wars continue to emerge, poverty continues to scale up, crimes continue to escalate, disharmony and corruptions continue to exist. For these reasons, there ought to be better approaches to handle such conflicts from dominating the world. Some of those approaches are through implementing systematic agendas to promote justice and global integrity among the international community.

Justice and peace are highly correlated. Whenever justice is served in a certain community, peace and harmony will prevail. It can take place in both internationally or within a certain country or society. In a society, justice is needed within the system to prevent chaos from reoccurring. Iraq for example is one of those societies struggling to maintain and promote a post-war justice in order to regain back its sense of peace. There can never be any development or social progress in any society without having a strong governing system that enforces the laws of justice and equality within all ethnicities. Such good governing system can only exist by having healthy non-violent practices within a country’s political system. Through the means of democratic elections and transparency, a good governing system will emerge. This democratic government will strive in establishing and enforcing effective anti-bureaucracy and anti-corruption mechanisms and promoting human rights laws.

World peace can occur through the cumulative efforts of those good governing democratically-elected systems and through securing international justice within world nations. Today’s world conflicts are the result of the absence of effective international laws that ensure everyone’s right to exist. Tensions caused by some powerful countries oppressing the rights and sovereignty of weak ones by imposing their cultural values and diminishing local values are the main reasons of the world major problems. Palestinians for example, haven’t got the sovereign independent country they’ve struggled for since 1948 and today we could see how horribly the situations in Gaza strip are after Israel’s blockade of that territory. The vast majority of the people there are on the edge of malnutrition, depending on international charities for their daily nourishment. At the meantime, Israel itself is being considered, by some, a democratic country with relatively effective governing system. Thus, this made me believe that promoting democracy and good governing practices alone don’t serve global justice. Therefore, a crucial factor that needs to be considered in order to promote a peaceful and harmonious world is the importance of global integrity. Hatred and discrimination are overwhelming the world nowadays despite all peace initiatives to bring societies closer together. Stereotypes particularly in relation to race, culture, gender, religion, class and nationality are among the sensitive issues that need sincere efforts from us especially from those role models and social innovators capable of applying major, needed structural social changes locally and internationally. Interfaith initiatives such as the one called by King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia in Madrid, July 2008, were ways to bring cultures closer together through mutual respect. It is this type of interreligious and intercultural dialogues that promote understanding, tolerance, coexistence and global integrity among the world community.

I’ve came to realize that the world’s harmony we hope to achieve comes by cultivating the mode of peace in ourselves. As a youth, I’ve always encouraged myself to engage into social activities that helped realizing such harmony. Youths of the world can play important roles and take peaceful initiatives by engaging into those activities. Through interfaith dialogues, we can learn how almost all religions of the world support and strongly encourage peace not only within ourselves but also within our surrounding nature, our neighbors and our societies. Through charities, we can grow a sense of care and awareness of those needy and victimized people from catastrophic disasters around the globe. Through drama and group discussions, we can eradicate misconceptions and stereotypes caused by nowadays media. Youths especially younger generations can generate a more sense of harmony than many adults. As Mahatma Ghandi once said, "And believe me, from my experience of hundreds, I was going to say thousands, of children, I know that they have perhaps a finer sense of honour than you and I have. The greatest lessons in life, if we would but stop and humble ourselves, we would learn not from grown-up learned men, but from the so-called ignorant children." (Ghandi, 1931: 361)

Author:
Mohammed A. Alfakih

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Reel Bad Arabs (How Hollywood Verlifies a People)


Where are the human images of Arabs and Arab Americans? That’s the topic of a new film called “Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People.” It’s based on a book by the same name by acclaimed media critic Jack Shaheen. Both the book and the film explore the American cinematic landscape to reveal a stark pattern of Arab stereotyping and its disturbing similarity to anti-Semitic and other pernicious caricatures through history.


JACK SHAHEEN: For years, I have looked at how we—particularly, when I say “we,” image makers—have projected Arabs on silver screens. In my latest book, Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People, I looked at more than 1,000 films, films ranging from the earliest, most obscure days of Hollywood to today’s biggest blockbusters. And what I tried to do is to make visible what too many of us seem not to see: a dangerously consistent pattern of hateful Arab stereotypes, stereotypes that rob an entire people of their humanity.

All aspects of our culture project the Arab as villain. That is a given. There is no deviation. We have taken a few structured images and repeated them over and over again. Whether one lives in Paduka, Kentucky or Wood River, Illinois, we know basically the same thing. We know the mythology—the mythology, namely Hollywood’s images of Arabs.

We inherited the Arab image primarily from the British and the French. In the early days, you know, maybe 150 years, 200 years ago, the British and the French who traveled to the Middle East, and those who didn’t travel to the Middle East, conjured up these images of the Arab as the Oriental other. The travel writers, the artists, who fabricated these images and who were very successful, as a matter of fact—and these images were transmitted and inherited by us. We took them, we embellished them, and here they are.


He contends that the movies with the most anti-Arab content are: Rules of Engagement (2000), The Delta Force (1986)Death Before Dishonor (1987) and True Lies(1994).

Included on the "worst list" is:



Inspired by the "worst list", a 9-minute-long trailer called "Planet of the Arabs" was assembled. This short was an Official Selection at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.
The much smaller "Best" list includes Hollywood films that give a balanced heroic portrayal of Arab characters. Included on this list were:

Sources:
Levesque, John (2002-03-21). "Arabs suffer in the hands of Hollywood".
Shaheen, Jack (2001). Reel Bad Arabs. ISBN1-56656-388-7.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Invention of the Iron Wheels

Invented: 721BC - 705BC

Location: In the ancient city of Khorsabad, Iraq

History: The invention of the wheel was one of the greatest contributions made by the ancient Mesopotamians to the whole of humankind. This early iron wheel (23 cm diam.) with bronze hub and bearings may have been part of a wooden ceremonial cart. It was found in the temple of Nabu, the god of writing and scribes, in the ancient city of Dur-Sharrukin (modern-day Khorsabad).

First Iron Wheels, Iraq

Image Source: ~click here for visual exploration~

Collected by
Gordon Loud (in charge of excavations at Khorsabad)
Excavated by The Oriental Institute 1932-1933

Info. Source:
http://mesopotamia.lib.uchicago.edu

Monday, May 15, 2006

The First Cities in History

Founded: Around 4000-3500 BC.

Location: Between Present-day Syria and Iraq; Mesopotamia.

For the ancient Mesopotamians, their cities were the centers of life. When they looked back to the beginning of time, they did not see a Garden of Eden, but rather an ancient site called Eridu, which they believed was the first city ever to be created. Ancient Mesopotamia is where the world's first cities appeared around 4000 - 3500 BC.

Mesopotamian City, Center of Life

Image Source: ~click here~

No one knows for sure why urbanization began in Mesopotamia. The development of cities could have occurred due to environmental conditions. Lack of rainfall might have been the inspiration for people to organize themselves in a common effort to build canals for the irrigation of farmland. Another reason may have been the need for protection on the open plain, which could have led people to gather together to create walled enclaves. Whatever the reasons, this was the first time in history that humankind channeled its energies towards addressing the needs of a community as a whole.

Info. Source:
http://mesopotamia.lib.uchicago.edu/mesopotamialife/index.php

Friday, May 12, 2006

Returning Back From a Long Holiday

Greatings Everyone,

Well here I am, back again from a looong vacation..Missed my lil blog here ;^)
I shall start back with new and intresting articles concerning ancient cultures along the Arab World, probably might have some other new ideas in the future..Before I start, I would really like to thank everyone who stated comments in my blog..Thank you !

If anyone got any opinion or new suggestions for this blog..Please feel free to state your comments here..

Salam !!

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Invention of Writing

Founded: Between 3200-2900 B.C.

Location: In the present-day Iraq.

History: Writing emerged in many different cultures and in numerous locations throughout the ancient world. It was not the creation of any one people. However, the Sumerians of ancient Mesopotamia are credited with inventing the earliest form of writing, which appeared ca. 3500B.C. The clay tablets shown on the left date from around 3200 B.C. They were unearthed by Oriental Institute archaeologists at the site of Tell Asmar in Iraq.

The writings on these tablets are simple pictures, or pictograms, which represent an object or an idea. Because clay is a difficult material on which to draw lines and curves, the Mesopotamians eventually reduced pictograms into a series of wedge-shaped signs that they pressed into clay with a reed stylus. This wedge-shaped writing is called cuneiform.

The invention of writing was the dawn of the information revolution. This great technological advance allowed news and ideas to be carried to distant places without having to rely on a messenger's memory. Like all inventions, writing emerged because there was a need for it. In Mesopotamia, it was developed as a record-keeping vehicle for commercial transactions or administrative procedures. There are also texts that served as "copy books" for the education of future scribes. Eventually, cuneiform script was used to produce some of the greatest literary works in recorded history.

Source:
http://oi.uchicago.edu/OI/MUS/ED/TRC/MESO/writing.html

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Ancient Civilizations & World Wonders in Arabia

The Ancient Mesopotamia (Cradle of Civilization)

Existed: From 9000 B.C. until 500 B.C

Location: Between the present-day Syria and Iraq.

History: Mesopotamia, called the "cradle of civilization", was the site of early river valley settlement. Conditions in the area led to people constructing permanent communities, practicing sustained farming methods, and evolving from a hunter-gatherer society into agriculture communities. Housing evolved into walled cities. Similar river valley civilizations soon followed in the Indus and Nile River regions. Today Mesopotamia is part of Iraq. This river-valley region was the site of a series of city-state kingdoms including Sumer, Babylon, and Assyria.




Petra (The Lost Kingdom of the Nabataeans)

Existed: From about 300 B.C. until 600 A.C.

Location: The area of present-day northern Saudi Arabia and southern Jordan .

History: The queen of the caravan cities, the legendary Petra at the edge of the Arabian Desert was the glittering capital of the Nabataean King Aretas IV (9 B.C. to 40 A.D.). Masters of water technology, the Nabataeans provided their city with great tunnel constructions and water chambers. An amphitheatre, built after Greek-Roman prototypes, offered space for an audience of no fewer than 4,000 persons. Still today, the Palace Tombs of Petra, with the 42-metre-high Hellenistic temple façade on the El-Deir Monastery, belong to the most impressive achievements of Middle Eastern culture.

The Pyramids of Egypt

Built: From about 2700 to 2500 B.C.

Location: Giza, Egypt, on west bank of Nile River near Cairo

History: The Egyptian Pyramids are the oldest and only surviving member of the ancient wonders.

Of the 10 pyramids at Giza, the first three are held in the highest regard. The first, and largest, was erected for the Pharaoh Khufu. Known as the Great Pyramid, it rises about 450 feet (having lost about 30 feet off the top over the years) and covers 13 acres.
It's believed to have taken 100,000 laborers about 20 years to build the mammoth Khufu pyramid, using an estimated 2.3 million blocks. By one theory, crews dragged or pushed limestone blocks up mud-slicked ramps to construct the royal tombs.

Many scholars think the pyramid shape was an important religious statement for the Egyptians, perhaps symbolizing the slanting rays of the sun. Some speculate the sloping sides were intended to help the soul of the king climb to the sky and join the gods.

Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

Picture Source:
http://www.exfoleyation.co.uk/photography/egypt2/images/3_%20Nine%20pyramids%20of%20Giza_JPG.jpg

The Pharos (Lighthouse) of Alexandria

Built: About 270 B.C.

Location: On ancient island of Pharos in harbor of Alexandria, Egypt

History: Upon its completion, the Alexandria lighthouse -- commonly estimated to have been about 400 feet high -- was one of the tallest structures on Earth. The Greek architect Sostratus designed it during the reign of King Ptolemy II.

The Pharos guided sailors into the city harbor for 1,500 years and was the last of the six lost wonders to disappear. Earthquakes toppled it in the 14th century A.D.
An Arab traveler made notes in 1166 that provide intricate details on the structure. From his writing, archaeologists have deduced that the lighthouse was constructed in three stages. At the top, a mirror reflected sunlight during the day, and a fire guided sailors at night.
The structure was so famous that the word "pharos" came to mean lighthouse in French, Italian and Spanish.

In November 1996, a team of divers searching the Mediterranean Sea claimed to have found the ruins of the fabled lighthouse of Pharos.


Alexandria Lighthouse

Image Source:
http://www.billmunnsgallery.com/images/SWGLH1.jpg


The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Built: About 600 B.C.

Location: In Babylon near modern-day Baghdad, Iraq

History: These gardens -- which may be only a fable -- are said to have been laid out on a brick terrace by King Nebuchadnezzar II for one of his wives. According to the writings of a Babylonian priest, they were approximately 400 feet square and 75 feet above the ground. His account says slaves working in shifts turned screws to lift water from the nearby Euphrates River to irrigate the trees, shrubs and flowers.



Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Image Source: http://home.cogeco.ca/~sbye/

The Ancient City of Sana'a

Founded: Between 5000 BC to 2500 BC.

Location: On the South West of Arabian Peninsula, Yemen.

History: According to popular legend Sana'a was founded by Shem, one of the three sons of Noah. The story tells of how Shem after coming a long way from the north, finally reached Yemen and found the plain of Sana'a most suitable for settlement. Shem chose originally the western part of the Sana'a plain close to Mount Aiban. When he began to lay the foundations a bird came and picked up his sounding lead. Shem followed the bird convinced that it was sent by Allah to show him a more suitable place. The bird flew to the eastern part of the Sana'a plain and dropped the lead at the foot of Mount Nugum.

Shem then laid the foundations for a city that was called "Madinat Sam" (the city of Shem). Later, the name changed to Azal (from the biblical Uzal -Gen. 10:27 - the sixth son of Joktan, the Arabic Qahtan). Finally, it was called Sana'a, meaning "the fortified one", in ancient inscription.

Bab El-Yaman, Sana'a


Picture source: http://www.geocities.com/Maldiveshores/Sana.jpg

Source of Information:
http://www.mideasttravelling.net/yemen/sanaa/sanaa_history.htm