It’s been exactly one year since I first posted my welcome blog, or ‘Salam alaykoum,’ here on S-L-M: Peace.
My husband and I in NYC. He serves to clear up any misconceptions I might have regarding Islam.
My introduction was to the point when it came to my views and goals:
Unfortunately, there is not a lot of peace in the world today. A lot of people, including radical Islamists, do not believe in peace or equality and thus there is a lot of fighting in the world. Similarly those who are suppressed are forced to struggle for their rights.
The Middle East today is quite far from the peace and “surrender” that Islam suggests. As Muslims themselves misinterpret the Koran for their own power and political gain and the West focuses on solely these negative people, misunderstanding occurs.
My goal, therefore, is to spread two messages: one, that Islam is a peaceful and righteous religion and thus the mistreatment that occurs in it’s name should be stopped, and two, that the Western world must educate itself about the real, and good, Islam that exists.
This blog has served as the ultimate research paper for me. I hope to one day publish a book based on the research I have done on this blog, a sort of analysis of politics and human rights and culture of this fascinating area, and the region’s affect on the greater world. I have learned so much in writing this blog which (after finally reading some of my posts) my sister concurred with, saying that I “know way too much about the Middle East.” To me, that’s a good thing.
My greatest hits, so to speak, are kind of fun to analyze. Most clicks went to my posts about Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, the young 20-something Egyptian activist who decided to bare all in a black-and-white photo to protest the freedom of speech. The second most clicks went to my post “Supermarket Treats in Egypt,” in which I had described the snacks I enjoyed living in Egypt. Apparently, people want to look at naked girls and eat. Rien a changer! We’re still like animals after all: looking for sex and something to fill our bellies left, seeking comfort and pleasure; after all, my posts about films Ma Tigi No’ros, The Dictator and Nobody Knows about Persian Cats also made the top-10, while some of my more serious analysis did not.
It is hard to describe the Middle East a year after the start of this blog. At the time, Egypt was still ruled under the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) and transitioning badly, post-January 25th. Colonel Muammar Ghaddafhi was still alive and ‘ruling’ Libya. The protests in Syria had not yet achieved the intensity and notoreity that they now have, nor was Turkey sending troops to protect it’s borders from Syria.
Is the Middle East more peaceful than it was a year ago? I would say no; if anything, it’s more incendiary. The people are still frustrated; protests still occur. Has extremist behavior gone down? Perhaps it’s popularity has-check out Robin Wright’s book Rock the Casbah for her great analysis on this-but terrorists still remain, if the shooting of Malala Yousufzai is any indication. The Western view on Islam and the Middle East is undecided: although the world applauds the Arab Spring protests and the women from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain who participated in the Olympics for the first time ever, world opinion on Palestine has not improved (still the US leans solely towards Israel); Iran is still ostracized; Syria is still left to the mercy of Bashar al-Assad and New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. transit authorities approved racist banners in their stations.
I hope peace comes to the Middle East this year, but more importantly, inshallah, I hope that all people in the region become free. Free to make their own choices, free to worship as they choose, marry who they want; free to pursue their dreams and free to voice their opinions. I, of course, will be watching, waiting and hoping with them.