Tag Archives: Middle East

Attempting Freedom


Attempting Freedom (Randyjw; July 18, 2016)


Amongst the war cries and the power struggles for primacy in the Middle East, we have another attempted effort by the population to subvert the oppressive yokes on their shoulders weighing them down into subservient sheep of their masters. Just as the Arab spring started a movement, begun in December of 2010 in Tunisia, which rapidly spread throughout the region, it has continued, unabated, even to the present, with no apparent end in sight.


In Bahrain, the civil uprising was put down by government and Saudi intervention.


In Egypt, president Hosni Mubarak was overthrown and given life imprisonment. Mohamed Morsi was next elected to the presidency. His status deteriorated, and he was then replaced with Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil El-Sisi.


In Iran, occasional people’s revolutions kept trying to gain a start and a foothold, but they were outnumbered and lacked sustaining momentum, eventually quashed. Spontaneous outbreaks of Pharell Williams’s “Happy” song were sung by students and young adults everywhere, only to find disastrous results, such as jailings, for the participants — definitely a most unhappy outcome. Previously, they had known a more jovial, secular time under the reign of the Shah of Iran, but not every “Revolution” results in the rule of democracy, for, in 1979, Iran underwent an Islamic revolution. Now the country is under very strict laws, where women dress fully covered, and the genders are more separated, etc. It is this way, still, today.


In Jordan, constitutional changes were put into place.


In Kuwait, changes in government were begun.


In Lebanon, governmental changes were also begun.


In Libya, an uprising against the 42-year reign of Colonel Moammar Khaddafi began, eventually supported with military action by France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and a later coalition of 27 additional European Union and Middle Eastern states. Khaddafi was killed.


In Mauritania, there were civil protests.


In Morocco, there were new reforms made to the Constitution.


In Oman, governmental changes were made.


In Saudi Arabia, there were protests.


In Sudan, there also were protests.


In Syria, a civil war between president Bashar Al-Assad’s government forces and various civilian opposition groups has been raging without stop, causing a major exodus of Syrians fleeing the country. This has spurred the impetus for a flood of migrating Middle Easterners to safer havens of refuge in free countries, due to the perceived willingness toward an open-door acceptance to all. This has overwhelmed Europe, especially with its Shengen Agreement allowing open borders and passage through all countries in the European Union, swamping resources under the tremendous influx of migrants.


In Tunisia, president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was overthrown, and citizens ensconced the main Islamist party, Ennahda, to a constituent assembly, which would draft a new constitution. Forty-two women were elected. Parliamentary elections and presidentials were held, making Beji Caid Essebsi president, bringing his secular party, Nidaa Tounes, which he founded in 2012, to the fore.


Beyond doubt, what we keep seeing are akin to the forces of dark versus light, good versus evil. We briefly have a bout of democratic-minded citizens finding the courage to break out against their oppressive rulers, only to not be ready to take over and make it stick.


There was a period of carefree living in the world, back in the 1960’s and ’70’s, even in the Middle East, which saw the sexes blending unreservedly, and freedom of dress really did result in freedom of movement.




(Iranian women cracking the books at Tehran University, Iran during the 1960’s or 1970’s; to me it appears it is the 1970’s, based on the fashions popular during those times)


Undoubtedly, we also saw the extreme inverse, with groups such as Black September, a terror group formed of the newly-minted people known as the Palestinians, from their newly-minted terrorist group, the P.L.O. (and all its various pop-up factions splitting off when discrepancies in methodologies arose), whose main goal was devoted to wresting the land of Israel from the Jews, committing terrorist acts, such as the 1972 Olympic massacre in Berlin, where 11 members of the Israeli athletic team were murdered by them. This was the dawning of airplane hijackings, bombings, and other cruel Arab acts of terrorism, despite the loving mood of people in the world, elsewhere.


The sense of Arab unease and disenchantment with their lives can only be seen as one, among many, symptoms of discontent with their political system, as well as, perhaps, its never-ending proportional battles to concile the religious aspects of their lives into its political realities. The violence which emanates from the culture cannot be dismissed. It doesn’t seem to matter whether the government is a religious one, or a secular one.


Nevertheless, I was disappointed that the recent attempted Turkish military coup on July 15, 2016 to overthrow the increasing adherance to Islamic rule extending over the people through forceful government motions ended in one day, with the soldiers partaking in the exercise surrendering themselves to authorities in government. Many lives were lost, and they did not receive the expected support from other military factions, nor even from the populace, who were either too scared of the repercussions from their government to join a freedom-setting alliance, or were too incubated in Islamist ideology to fathom that freedom could also grant the practice of Islam to them, as well.


I don’t know. That’s the way I see it, anyways. Another massive loss of lives in another wasted opportunity to taste the beauty of freedom, without oppression, in the Middle East.


Article information found in “Arab Spring”, Wikipedia.org; accessed approximately July 17 and July 18, 2016:



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Freedom: The Story of My Second Life – by Malika Oufkir


Copyright 2006 by Malika Oufkir. Jacket designed by Beth Middleworth. Author photo by Melanie Dunea. Hyperion, 77 West 66th Street, New York, NY 10023-6298. Printed in USA ©2006 Miramax Books.


This book is one of the cherished volumes of my personal collection that just can’t seem to make it into a “give-away” pile to allow room for new reads on the shelf. Each time I say that I’ve read enough that I ought to be able to detach it from my core staples, it keeps coming back and taking its place among the rightly-deserved designated “keepers”.


Why this should be so is due to Ms. Oufkir’s beautiful Middle-Eastern phrasing and mindset. No-one can write with the allegory and turn-of-speech better than a son or daughter of the Levant (including the northern reaches of Africa). Think number one books, such as the Bible, or number one authors or poets, such as Khaled Hosseini or Khalil Gibran, respectively, which bring to mind examples for the simplicity of sentence regaling the beauty of a song.


Malika’s prose and outlook are remarkable, given the harsh treatment received throughout much of her life. She was the favored playmate in childhood of the King’s daughter. Later on, her father would be executed and she and her siblings and mother imprisoned for twenty years as collective punishment for the assassination attempt on the King in a coup d’etat allegedly involving Malika’s father. Their subsequent escape, recapture and final harrowing push to freedom are relayed in a compelling saga woven as beautifully as an embroidered wedding dress.


Her first book, Stolen Lives, was an international best-seller and relates her years during captivity. It doesn’t matter which book is read first; I almost prefer having read the sequel with which to gird oneself for the harshness of the first.


This post is dedicated to freedom and to the brave souls who fight to find it.

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