Geneva, the land of neutrality.

Salamssss, to whoever is reading!

I hope your doing well blog readers. I am doing excellent, hamdullah ya rab (praise be to Allah). I am officially graduated from the University of Alberta!!! *woohooooo*. I would have to say that the years I spent working towards my undergraduate degree at the U of A were one of the best times in my life, FO SURE. The experiences and friends I made throughout the years are keepers; my degree in Political Science has served me well so far too haha 😉

Since I made this blog for the purpose of archiving my experiences……get ready ’cause Nariman is off to another great experience- inshallah, if I find somewhere to live haha. I have been offered the position of Advocacy Intern for the spring semester of 2012 at the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies in Geneva, Switzerland!!! I am so so so so so unbelievably excited to start interning there; it’s honestly a dream to have the opportunity to intern in the land of neutrality haha, I mean obviously for the sole existence of the second largest UN office haha! I’m also very excited to head over to Europe for the reason of seeing family members as well! It’ll be the second time I visit them and I am just so excited to reunite with the French side of my family…I’m really abusing the exclamation mark here…

So, just a bit more about the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, here on out, CIHRS. They’re:

“an independent regional non-governmental organization founded in 1993. They aim at promoting respect for the principles of human rights and democracy, analyzing the difficulties facing the application of International Human Rights Law and disseminating Human Rights Culture in the Arab Region as well as engaging in dialogue between cultures in respect to the various International Human Rights treaties and Declarations”

“CIHRS enjoys consultative status with the United Nations ECOSOC, and observer status in the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. CIHRS is also a member of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) and the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX)”

So to list off some of the duties that I will be doing while interning, I think one of the most exciting will be the chance to observe, document and monitor proceedings of the U.N, I’m hoping I get the chance to sit in on a Human Security Council Session….’cause come on that would just be a-m-a-z-i-n-g. Another aspect of my internship that I’m looking forward to is the legal and factual research on initiatives concerning human rights abuses in Arab nations, including issues of arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, violation of freedom of expression…the list goes on and I can’t wait to get started, especially with what’s been happening in Egypt lately with the crackdown on NGO’s in Cairo. According to the Supreme Miliatary Council, they are responsible for “accepting illegal foreign funds with the purpose of causing turmoil in the country and attempting to topple the regime” HAHAHAHAH. What a joke. As noted by many, the revolution in Egypt is still going on and human rights organizations are proudly going on strong and not backing down to holding their governments accountable.

The spirit of human rights culture in the Arab world has made a huge comeback- with human rights organizations existing since the late 70’s, constantly harrassed and under scrutiny by past dictatorships, they’ve now found a platform in the last year where there’s finally breathing room for these guys to do what they’ve set out to do since their origination: ‘Promote Respect for the principles of Human Rights and Democracy’. The concept of human rights within the region has been underrated to say the least. However, can you really blame them? Since the time of colonization which than smoothly transitioned into fully fledged dictatorships, Arabs and Middle Easterns alike have had fear injected into their conscioussness. With 2011 bringing in the air of revolution, as I wrote in an op-ed for my undergraudate online journal:

“Something beautiful has happened in the Arab world, the air of revolution stepped inside, lingered and decided to extend its visit in an attempt to leave a permanent footstep in the consciousness of all Arabs. Since January 2011, the Arab world has witnessed revolutionary uprisings among all segments of the population- demanding equality, accountability, an end to the culture of impunity and most importantly a plea for justice”

I hope you enjoyed this blurb and I can’t wait to come back with exciting updates during my internship! Until next time peeps, Nari,

Peace in the Middle East

Experiences and People that will last me a lifetime.

Salem,

I know I promised to update this blog more often than I have been so I’m going to do my BEST to update who ever is interested in keeping up in what I was up to  in D.C. Firstly, the people that I met at TPP are truly friends that will be there for a lifetime. All those projects and assignments and trips to Pinkberry we’ve done at TPP …memories to last a lifetime for sure 🙂

I have visited more than enough memorials. The picture below is one of my favorite ones that I took this summer. It’s a picture of the Lincoln Memorial behind a fence. The reflecting pool is still in construction so they blocked off the area with wired fences and this is the result! The Lincoln memorial is probably one of my favorite memorials at night because of the sheer light that illuminates it.

So, while being down here I have attended a few briefings and seminars that were a part of my program at the Washington Centre as well as commiting myself to a civic engagment project

  • The European Union Response to the Arab Spring; A STATESMAN’S FORUM WITH CATHERINE ASHTON, HIGH REPRESENTATIVE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND SECURITY POLICY at the Brookings Institute
  • Visiting the Saudi Embassy and getting a lecture by Nail al-Jubeir, Director of Information, about the U.S-Saudi Relations and the Arab Revolutions
  • Attending a Human Rights Panel at the University of California- Washington Centre that included:
– Christina Finch, Amnesty International
– Maureen Meyer, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)
– Ammar Abdulhamid, Leading Syrian Human Rights and pro-democracy activist
  • Breakfast at the American Society of International Law where I heard amazing women who work in the field of international law will forever stay ingrained in my mind. I know it’s lame but I seriously picture myself in these women’s places and I only hope one day I can aspire to be as influential as these women are.

All in all, my experience in D.C, summer of ’11, was a great one that I will keep locked  away in my memory forever 🙂

Dr. Ibrahim Abu-Rabi, may Allah have mercy on your soul.

Dr. Ibrahim Abu Rabi,

Knowing you as a professor and mentor has changed my life. Literally.

I would not be here in Washington, D.C without your words of encouragement to explore and see the world. Your willingness to write me a recommendation letter, twice (because I did not accomplish getting the Washington Internship the first time) has truly changed my life for the better, because you helped me get here.The first time around, I remember feeling so embarrassed to bother you on the weekend to ask if I could pick up the letter but you offered, out of your own time, to meet me on campus. The second time around, I was again quite embarrassed to ask you to write me another reccomendation letter but you so willingly and lovingly offered to do more than what was neccessary to see me succeed. Your classes were enjoyable to say the least; I’m sure that all my classmates/friends would agree that we did not even feel that were per se in ‘class’ as much as we were in another world under your instruction. Your knowledge, history and experience made me want to fight for the cause of Palestinians and you opened up my eyes to my own religion; you made me search deeper to understand what Islam is and for this I will forever be grateful.

Dr. Abu-Rabi, your willingness, commitment and hospitality to invite your students into your home and share the knowledge that we as students can only dream to attain and retain as much as you did and your commitment to your students, your friends, your family and your religion was that of a true respectable man and you will forever be loved for the impression you have left in everyone’s hearts.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un.

May Allah have mercy on your soul Dr. Ibrahim Abu Rabi, grant your family patience and have your spot in Jannah waiting for you. Ameen.

ان الله وان اليه راجعون رحم الله امرا عرف الكثير من ما انعم الله عليه من علما في دين الله لقد نفع. الكثير من عرب وعجم ونطلب له الله ألرحمه والغفران وصبر اهله وذويه جميع الصبر ولسلوان اللهم تغمده برحمتك الوا سعه امين

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My time in Washington so far…..is AWESOME!

Hey Guys,

So as my title indicates, my time in Washington so far can best be explained in one word.

Awesome.

Almost two weeks have just flown by with an injection of awesomeness, words don’t do justice to how hype this place is. But the word awesome is pretty close to describing this place haha! If your remotely interested in politics or business, D.C is the place to be. So, if these two weeks are any indication of how the rest of my summer is going to be, this is going to be one hell of a summer people.

Okay so to recall what I’ve been up to for the past two weeks, there’s so much….where do I start? Let’s start with my internship, I’m interning with about 12 or 13 other people all from different places all over the States as well as two lovely ladies from Europe, one from Sweden and one from London who are both lawyers specializing in International Law so it’s cool to have interns who are lawyers. Oh there’s also a cool intern from Egypt who’s getting his doctorate in law and practiced as a prosecutor for about 6 years in Egypt. So to be exposed to these people including the rest of my amazing co-interns is great. For the first week we got assigned research for a publication that is coming out on behalf of The Protection Project (TPP). The publication will be educating the public about the best practices to combat human trafficking and it was our job to revise all the practices that were collected from SAIS master students and than further research from us. This last week, we were introduced to all the projects that we could take on this summer with The Protection Project and so I as well as another co-intern took on the project of country reports which I have to say I am SO excited to start working on. Our job is to revise old country reports on the status of human trafficking and I got assigned to start an official NEW report on the State of Palestine (*WOOT WOOT*) as well as revising country reports on Yemen, Kuwait, Tunisia, UAE and Saudi Arabia  so I honestly can’t wait to delve into the research, even though I know it’s going to be a crap load of work haha.

There was a really cool conference at TPP on the 14 and the 15th, it was officially the: Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Isses Iraqi Women’s Delegation with amazing Iraqi women such as Zainab Ahmed from Karbala, journalist and lawyer who founded Women for Justice in 2009, a non-profit organization dedicated to the legal and social empowerment of the women in Iraq. She has grounded experience in media and legal advocacy and has used her platform as a TV broadcaster and journalist at media outlets such as BBC, al-Iraqi TV, Al-Somayiya and Al-Arabiya to shed light on violence against women and the status of human right in Iraq. I have to say it was such a pleasure to meet her and learn about how involved she really is in the process of socially empowering Iraqi women. The women at these conferences were honestly a beacon of inspiration and I can’t wait to meet and mingle with more women of such stature. The conference was basically a learning session for the Iraqi women of methods they can learn and bring back to their own society. Dr. Mohamed Mattar, who is the executive Director of The Protection Project delivered some amazing speeches about the role of women within Islamic countries when it comes to violence against them. I learned so much more than I expected to and I honestly can’t wait to learn more.

In the past two weeks I have gone to two lectures/speeches. One was organized by the Washington Centre. We had a lecture by Sentaor Chuck Hagel at the Department of Interior which I have to say was probably the most boring/waste of two hours of my life. The lecture was titled ‘The Future of American Policy‘ and there wasn’t one single ounce of valuable information that I could take from his lecture and say ‘Wow I feel like I have learned something’. Basically, his lecture entailed of broad and elusive content pertaining to America’s foreign policy that any idiot could tell you, his so called ‘points’ that he kept trying to make were pretty much laced in with Republican-agenda like values. He insisted that America has never in it’s history been challenged to the point where they will ever lose their leadership and that cooperation is key to America’s foreign policy, however as far as sane people are concerned, as long as their is a Republican agenda on the table, American foreign policy is screwed. According to Hagel, the Middle East and North African region is filled with ‘danger and combustibility’ and  ‘we’re going through a system of self-correction’. The only concise argument I could summon from his lecture was that the MENA region was unstable and needed some form of stability (why thank Mr. Hagel for F*&% informing us on an essential point that we were completely oblivious to) and that get this guys, are you ready? (*Drum roll please*), ‘the U.S.A is in the only position to lead’. HAHAHAHAH. Because the people of the MENA region are just incapable of leading themselves Mr. Hagel. Thank you for enlightening me.

The second lecture I attended, I am pleased to say, actually added value to my life haha. I had the amazing opportunity to visit the State Department through the Centre for Global Understanding, which is a non-profit, non-advocacy and a non-religious organization designed to bring people together by building a bridge between different cultures and religions. They essentially believe that the only way to bring people together is through educating everyone about different cultures, religions and their values. I found out about this cool organization through my program advisor at the Washington Centre so I have to thank her for connecting me. We had the pleasure of having an intimate conversation with Rashad Hussain, who was appointed by President Barack Obama as Special Envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) with basically seeks to ‘deepen and expand the partnerships that the United States has pursued with Muslims around the world’. Mr. Hussain was really cool and actually wanted everyone to introduce themselves and get to know us, devoting more time to hearing our questions than lecturing. I have to say when I asked him his opinion about when it comes to the long-standing issue of the Palestine-Israel conflict, how much positive and productive change is really being achieved under the Obama Administration he answered my question the best way he could, by admitting that there’s only so much that the administration can achieve. So I definitely appreciated his honest but still limited in scope answer. We than had the pleasure of being lectured by Mr. Peter Howard, who is the Regional Affairs Strategic Analyst in the Office of Regional Affairs in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. I can legitimately say he gave us a great lecture about the role of the bureau of public affairs when it comes to the MENA region and so I was pretty impressed since I took a lot of it.

P.S- I think I mentioned this already or maybe not, I can’t remember, but riding the Metro here is pretty cool. People are actually generally very very friendly in D.C, maybe a little too nice sometimes…. HAHA. They’r pretty nice in Virigina as well, which is pretty much a suburb of D.C. Random fact which I’m sure many of you know already but I didn’t! The District of Columbia is NOT an actual state , it’s just a district. So, your thinking, okay so what? Well that means no one here get’s voting rights. SUCKS, RIGHT? I was dumbfounded when I found that out. On anther note, very random story that I will tell you guys of my daily excursions and awesome luck that I have. I hung out with classmates after class this past Thursday and probably stayed out later than I should have, ended up getting caught in an amazing/rain-drenching thunder storm and than taking the Metro back ended up being in the middle of drug bust on the Metro. I mean I felt pretty safe since there were like 10 police men ahahah but come one, seriously? OH an another fun fact, there was a bomb threat on one of the Metro lines at the Pentagon station which basically means it takes FOREVER to get ANYWHERE during rush hour now. HAHA. But, I’m not complaining if that means people’s safety is a top priority. Gotta love the States.

Alright, so I’m all typed out. If you made it to the end of this blog, I commend you and appreciate your time.

Peace in the Middle East and everywhere else that needs it.

Nari

Washington, we have a mission.

Hi guys,

I am finally down here!

Washington, D.C. The America’s. Home of the brave and free. Everything that you can possibly imagine to go wrong while your travelling went wrong. Because life just loves Nariman haha. Departing from Edmonton International airport my luggage was 6 lbs over, no big deal right? K, so I dealt with that fine. Onto the next obstacle that life so lovingly throws at me, I forgot to print off a receipt that prooves I paid my visa fee. So off to some random room I go. I try to phone my awesome travel buddy, shout out to Kusmu!, and than security rushes over to me like it’s the end of the world because I took my cell phone out, insisting I’m breaking American Federal law because I have my phone out while the Department of Homeland Security is going over my papers. Haha.

So I finally get through customs, and hoped to Allah nothing else goes wrong haha. Our flight went pretty smoothly, with a satisfying Mc D’s lunch in Minneapolis, we landed in D.C around 9 pm. Departed ways with Kusmu and went off to my ‘luxury apartment’ at the Meridian at Braddock station. I was a bit nervous because I didn’t make the effort to write down the EXACT address, all I knew was that I was staying at the Meridian at Braddock Station and my taxi driver was like so… what’s that? So naturally I was FREAKING out, quickly put my sim card back into my cell so that I could phone my sister to get the exact location because I couldn’t reach into my e-mails that far back BUT he found it in the end. *phew*. I met my cool roommates, two Americans, both from Texas, Kendra and Haleigh
and Claire who’s also from the U of A, whom were waiting for the ‘fourth’. I’m unpacked and settled in.

I’m off to Orientation today and hopefully I can figure out how this city is set up so that I can leave my mark on it (I know, lame and cliche-ish) but I truly intend to!

Claire and I in front of the White House.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peace in the Middle East, Nari

Marhaba/Shalom/Salut/Nei ho/ Ciào!

I am new to the blog world so this should be a good experience, that is, if anyone reads this.

Please do. I promise I’ll enrich the two minutes, or if I’m lucky enough to captivate your interest, perhaps even more time that your taking out of your busy or maybe chill day to read this. I shall stand by this promise in two ways:

1. By documenting what will probably be very ordinary events in my life in the most comical and brutally sarcastic way so as to please you.

2. By enriching your life with a new viewpoint. Mine 🙂

Now to start blogging…

I created this blog for TWO reasons that your probably not superbly keen on knowing but I’ll tell you anyways, because I’m cool. You know I am. So stop thinking otherwise. Okay, so the first reason I created this blog is because I have the AMAZING OPPORTUNITY of going to Washington, D.C this summer for an internship. I applied earlier this year through my university, U of A (*woot* *woot*), and got accepted into the Washington Centre Internship program where U of A has selected eight of us to go this summer. This is their website, I suggest visiting it and if you  enjoy my blogging-experience, you should apply too!

http://www.twc.edu/internships

Before I go on explaining this internship, I have to pause and take time to thank my AMAZING parents who have done nothing but encourage me to go for my dreams. I really love them very much and everything I do in my life is laced with the intention of pleasing the people who gave life to me. Thank you for your sacrifices and keeping me and my goals in your prayers; most importantly thank Allah for showing me the right path so that I can follow it and for guiding my soul, my heart and my intentions towards only pleasing you.

Now, I have to admit that the amount of stuff I’m going to have to do this summer is a bit overwhelming/intimidating and still all a big jumble in my head. So, I guess I won’t really know what’s going on until I get down there. For now, I can say the most solid thing I know about this summer is where I will be sleeping while I’m down there and who I will be interning for. Good start I must say 😉

I will be staying at what I believe is a new section of the Washington Centre:

The Meridian at Braddock Station

This place looks SO cool. I can’t wait to upload pictures for you guys! But of course, where I’m staying only composes about 10% of my excitement in being in Washington. The rest of my charged 90% excitement is towards the class I will be taking (which I don’t know yet, so I’ll get back to you guys on that) AND the interning part!

I got an awesome, awe-inspiring and alarmingly amazing opportunity to intern with the Protection Project (Do you like my alliteration? If you don’t, don’t worry. I’m aiming at pulling a David Theo Goldberg who published ‘The Threat of Race: Reflections on Racial Neoliberalism’ and try and annoy the hell out of you with as many alliterations as possible. You can thank Goldberg for the inspiration).

The Protection Project (TPP) is a research and training institute linked to the John Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Shout out to my awesome advisor at the Washington Centre, Sweeta Hutchinson, for forwarding my resume to amazing institutions such as the International Association of Women Judges, World Organization for Human Rights USA, American Task Force on Palestine, Human Rights Watch, Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International, Save the Children and so many more! I wish I could intern for ALL of them. But that is not humanly possible. And I only got contacted by one institution. HAHA. Thank Allah they offered me a position *phew*. Back to TPP. From what I understand they rely on interns to support activities of the project by conducting research, thinking through and analyzing information collected, and assisting in the organization of seminars and conferences. The main them of TPP is HUMAN TRAFFICKING, with a focus on women’s and children’s rights more broadly. I am very excited about having the opportunity to focus on subjects such as legal reform in the Middle East and the intersections between the Islamic legal system and the international human rights framework.

Check out the projects website!

http://www.protectionproject.org

So, for those of you who want to keep up with what I’m doing this summer, I really hope you enjoy this. I will be flying down to Washington on the 5th of June and heading back to Edmonton on the 13th of August with the promise of blogging on memoryforforgetfulness once a week!

So with Washington being my incentive to start a blog, the second reason that I have created this blog is because I would like to get out my views on what is going on in the world. What better platform than a blog, right? So to narrow down these supposed views of mine I should start out by telling you my interests. I am lucky enough to actually study something that I love love love: Political Science and Religious Studies. Just ask anyone I know, they will tell you how much I love talking about what I study. My coolness radar is just skyrocketing right now haha. I consider myself to be an aspiring social activist with deep rooted interests in social causes that focus on human rights. Since 2009, I have been involved with educating and involving myself in the Palestinian cause. Throughout memoryforforgetfulness I will most likely be ranting on about the latest issue when it comes to Palestine and Israel and spewing my thoughts, frustrations and inspiration. I would have to thank my father for my obsession with politics, as we can spend hours on end talking about any political issue. Both my parents come from Tunisia, North Africa and so I am proud to say that I have been raised in Edmonton and consider myself to be a proud first generation Muslim-Canadian from Tunisia, North Africa. I’m passionate about the current issues in Africa and the Middle East and I know it’s corny but I really believe in the importance of being an active community member. I enjoy the company my family and friends and I definitely consider myself a fully pledged news-junkie who obsessively likes to talk about and eat great food. Okay…so I feel like I’m selling myself on a dating website or something HAHA so ENOUGH about me. GAWD, I’m so self-obessive and vain. Get over yourself Nariman.

To finally end this ridiculously LONG first blog I will conclude with the reason for why I have decided to call my blog memoryforforgetfulness. I wish I could take the credit for what I think is an AWESOME title, but for anyone who loves poetry and is interested in poets from all corners of the globe, I have borrowed this title from a famous Palestinian poet: Mahmoud Darwish(1941-2008). Darwish was one of the foremost contemporary Arab poets, I was exposed to him in a class I took last semester with Iman Mersal, an Egyptian Poet!, who I have had the pleasure of being a student for a couple of years. Darwish uses Memory For Forgetfulness ‘as setting the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and the shelling of Beirut, recreating in this sequence of vivid prose poems the sights and sounds of a city under siege. This book is an extended reflection on the invasion and its political and historical dimensions. It is also a journey into personal and collective memory. What is the meaning of exile? What is the role of the writer in time of war? What is the relationship of writing (memory) to history (forgetfulness)? What will become of the Palestinian people? In raising these significant questions, Darwish implicitly connects writing, homeland, meaning, and resistance in an ironic, condensed work that combines wit with rage. His masterly text testifies to the heroism of the people under siege, and to Palestinian creativity and continuity’. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this masterpiece so if you’re interested, I guarantee it won’t be a dull read.

The actual title Memory for Forgetfulness spans farther than Darwish, the title refers to the famous story of Abu Nawas from the Abbasiyad Empire. Abu Nawas was a great poet of the Abbasiyad caliphate born around 756 CE, his poetry celebrated the luxuries of life and wine, which was unusual for classic Islamic poetry. If memory serves me correctly, it was Nawas who was searching to being the BEST poet in the Empire and so he found another poet who was considered to be the best. When he found this poet, he was told to travel far and wide and meet all the poets across the Empire and memorize every single poem out there to be considered the best poet. Nawas was determined to be the best so he travelled far and wide and came back to the poet. When he told him of his travels and recited back all the poetry he memorized, he was told to forget it. When he asked in frustration why, the poet simply responded ‘Because the best memories are the ones forgotten’. I hope have summarized this story well and I truly truly apologize if this account is wrong, feel free to correct me if I have recounted this story wrong!

Anyways, if you have made it to the end of my first blog, I COMMEND and APPRECIATE YOU for taking the time to read about me.

Peace or Violence; You choose. Nari