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  • July 2018
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Historic Islamic Art Museum “Completely Destroyed”

Egypt’s treasures destroyed

Egyptian Streets

Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities has announced that Cairo’s Islamic Art Museum has been “completely destroyed,” in a moment of anger and frustration.

The Minister’s statements came after a car bomb exploded outside the Museum and the Security Directorate, killing five and injuring more than 80. The explosion was one of three in Cairo today, with one killed at a Metro Station in Dokki.

While the extent of the damage is not yet clear, the Minister was earlier quoted as saying the damage is in the “tens of millions of dollars,” but vowed to restore the Museum and any antiquities that remain.

The Islamic Art Museum in Cairo houses one of the most extensive and important collections of Islamic art in the world. The Museum displays priceless Islamic art work from all periods of Islamic history, including one of the rarest copies of the Quran.

Until 2010, the Museum had been closed for…

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Who Is This Man?

Who Is This Man?.

Discussing the benefits of Stoning

Sitting on the sofa, in our campus neighborhood, baby on his blanket giggling happily between us, the conversation turned to Sharia Law.

“It would be so much better for the Taliban to be in charge in our country than for the Warlords to take over, because the War Lords are Savages”, her husband said from certain knowledge I didn’t need to question.

“At least the Taliban have a law that is unified through out. They do not act on their own, But rather on God’s Law. That is best by far. When you have a system, like here in the USA, a system with law and order, it is at least a good one. But in our country there is NO law unless you enforce the law of God.

The Warlords on the other hand are without God’s Law, they are a law unto themselves. They stop people on the roads, rape and steal from them, demanding all of their goods on a whim.  You don’t have that with the Taliban.” He says it as though it is settled.

“But the stoning!” I say, certain that I’ve brought up a point that he’ll consider and agree is too extreme.

“Only for Adultery“, he clarifies,  “only for married women, and men,” he adds.

Surprisingly, the wife who has sat silently says something in their native language. Under her breath as usual.

“What did she say?” I ask, because I feel complete freedom with them and her.

“She says, “It is fair, because there is no excuse for a married person to commit adultery. It is your choice to marry someone.

Why would you then be unfaithful to that partner? It is a deterrent to adulterous behavior”.

“Is it?” I ask, as I look down at her little innocent baby, amazed that I am involved in this conversation.

“Yes, it is a very good deterrent”, they answer nodding.

“If anyone survives,” I say, “do people survive?”

“If anyone survives, yes, some do”.

The husband then tells me the story of the now famous scene we all have seen on our TV screens where we see a woman in a veil kneeling in the stadium in Kabul and where she is killed in front of a jeering crowd. I’ve forgotten if she is stoned.

The background information is that she arranged to have her husband killed by her boyfriend so that she could then marry him.

This is the story behind her severe punishment. To my friends, it was perfectly logical to be  punished for such a terrible betrayal.

Again, I glance down at the little baby with the very beautiful Arab nose and think how many light years I am from this culture’s assumptions and way of thinking.

An Almost Halal Disaster

Massive ruts coming down from Shenli Daban Pas...

We received the phone call at 4:30 pm, ten minutes before the guests arrived, “Is there a halal restaurant in the area? My parents have never eaten in a non Muslim‘s home before.”

Our friend from Western China had asked if he could bring his father and mother to stay overnight in our home while he showed them our University Campus. Of course, we welcomed him, since during his time here, he and his wife had been like family to us. We had even brought their first-born baby home from the hospital after his birth when the wife remained hospitalized due to serious complications.

From the desert at the base of the mountains of Xinjiang Province, our friend was the first from his “wild western” village to travel outside of China, and then to the USA for his PhD. We were eager to meet the parents of our Chinese cowboy! Continue reading

Should the USA Rule the World?

A friend suggested I read the following article, about now being a decisive time for the USA to choose to decline or continue seeking to maintain superpower status in the world.

While reading, I kept thinking about how the world is changing.  Not only regarding race, but to sum up my thoughts: The Non-Western/Non-white world population now has a face.

We’ve learned from history, that aside from dehumanizing and killing the Native Americans who lived in North America, another tragic outcome of the era of “world domination” by Western “Civilizers”, occurred at the division by the British and French on the Continent of Africa.

Africans say that it was a terrible mistake to draw arbitrary (country)  lines on their continent. India, Kashmir, Pakistan, Bangladesh, all of these countries have the Brits to thank for many of their boundary issues too.

I know that there are many sides to history. Probably all but the most degenerate of leaders have intentions that are neither all good nor all evil, maybe most leaders are self-deceived. Some, may suspect it.

I believe that N. America can have a positive influence because of our history and education and much that is good in our internal example.

But, now the citizens of formerly colonized nations are our peers in world leadership.  They are no longer  masses to be ruled, we must change our superior attitude to welcome their ideas, desires, vision and hopes.

I’m concerned that it will be impossible for Conservatives to make the shift from “superior controlling on high” to “colleagues engaging one another for mutual influence and education”.

But the age of world authority and our ruling over others (as the Middle East thinks we want to do in Afghanistan despite our best efforts at denial), the Neo-Con* view of the World, is over.

A few Characteristics of Ne0-Conservative:

*January 2009, at the close of President George W. Bush’s second term in office, Jonathan Clarke, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, proposed the following as the “main characteristics of neoconservative”:[44]

  • tendency to see the world in binary good/evil terms
  • low tolerance for diplomacy
  • readiness to use military force
  • emphasis on US unilateral action
  • disdain for multilateral organizations
  • focus on the Middle East
  • an us versus them mentality”.

We are in a time of great influence. We have regained respect that we had lost almost entirely (acc. to world opinion) unfortunately during the Bush years. (this saddens me because I did have great hopes for the Compassionate Conservative).


Order in the Court!

“You! Three! Out of my Courtroom” !!! At 61 years of age, I had the thrill of being thrown out of a court room last night for causing a disturbance!
The judge had announced previously that this courtroom was not “free” as I went up front to grab my Asian friend’s wandering toddler who was apparently causing havoc to the decorum in the court!
As I walked back to my seat, baby in tow, I said, tongue in cheek to the baby and some of the seated citizens, “Sammy, this courtroom is NOT Free!”, thinking ironically how his parents had really come from a country that epitomizes the very lack of freedom that our judge could not possibly understand.
How ironic, that the judge would choose those words, to discipline us, “not free”! Whatever that meant, it made me want to laugh.
If he only knew how free his courtroom really is! No AK 47s! No one standing by to cut the skin off my face! Ahhhh what freedom I felt.
Probably few people could understand my complete peace and tranquility as I participated in this minor drama.
I felt giddy, and sort of angry that the judge would take himself so seriously. I really tried to think through on how important the judge felt this event was…my friend whom I was helping, was accused of driving out in front of someone (an “Indonesian clear”  is how my husband and I refer to it, and in our case, we pull out fast enough so that traffic doesn’t have to slow down). This is in fact, unlike Indonesia, where cars, trucks and motorcycles can appear suddenly in front of normal traffic flow resulting in horrible pile-ups.
My friend had made a judgment call, with her young toddler and pregnant belly. After driving for four years, I feel quite confident she’s not going to endanger herself or her child. But because a police car was behind the oncoming car and had to apply its brakes, she got caught for “not obeying a stop sign”. How wrong!!!
We had decided, due to the lateness of the hour, her advancing due date, and to avoid the hassle, just to pay the fine and not argue her case. We thought we would be out of court in a few minutes. How misguided!
Getting back to the judge’s words about the courtroom not being “free” and the contrast between here and the repressive military regime in her country of origin.
Unlike in her country, my friend has the right to a fair trial, she has the freedom to speak on her own behalf, she has the right to counsel.  She has the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty. Unlike in her country where only a privileged few have any rights at all, while the majority have no freedom, but are raped, burned out and destroyed at the Junta’s whim.
Poor little toddler, running around in the courtroom at will, because he was exerting his little freedom! His mom was experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions the entire time, so I didn’t blame her for not controlling him better. It just seemed silly to kick us out of the courtroom for disturbing the court. It would have made more sense to me if he  had called our case earlier instead of making the pregnant lady with the toddler wait for two hours while calling everyone else before her!
But, I have to say, It’s an experience I’ll be talking about for sometime! The Bailiff with gun on hip, pointing to a toddler, pregnant woman and mature lady, barring us from the court room! Giggle! Gasp! Is something wrong with me that I think this is awesome material?

Building bridges with your Enemy

This is an image I photographed at a refugee c...

Refugee from Camp in Thailand

Sitting in a coffee shop this morning, we were working through a relationship issue between Ethnic groups from the country of Burma. Here’s what we heard.

“Since 1948, the Military Junta has been ravaging our villages, killing our teachers, kidnapping our family members, and terrorizing us. Soldiers took my grandmother far up into the hills and she had to walk back. (the rest was left to our imaginations) They took my teacher,  tied his hands and feet, and used his body as a swing for the soldiers until he died in front of his little girl and pregnant wife.

They tore the face and scalp off of one villager. They burned our family home down. When you heard the dogs barking, whatever time of day or night, you knew to be afraid because the soldiers were coming. Every year about this time it was time to gather crops before the military got to them.

We had to run and hide in the jungle, and they kept us on the run, so nobody could go to school.

My mother never had a chance to go to school at all. Her life remained very simple, just fields and nature.

When she came here, the world became so big for her, but she isn’t used to it. It’s difficult for her to take it all in. Making progress in reading and writing and speaking English is slow for her.  It’s all just so much.

Can we speak to that Ethnic group people here? That is, not our Ethnic group? Well, it depends. Can we trust them? Not if they will return to our country. We don’t know why they are here, or how they got here.

If they are here to stay, we have nothing against them.”

“But you don’t talk to them,” I say. “Is it because of your mother? This would be understandable.”

“We don’t have any problems”, he states, “I just haven’t seen them in a while, and I am shy to go visit them.”

I know from others that this is not true. There has been a great rift,and long time of not speaking, many hurt feelings. A sea change in attitude since his family came to town as refugees. (We have quite personal knowledge having sponsored both extended families)

Is he in denial, I wonder?

How can we, sheltered Americans, foreign to this life of terror by day and night, possibly help bridge this gap?

Can we only cross the bridges we ourselves are responsible for building?