Now that Ramadan 2013 and Eid al-Fitr have concluded, let’s take a look at a high’s and low’s round-up of what went down.
Although my husband and I didn’t celebrate Eid al-Fitr together, we had an iftar dinner during the last week of Ramadan along with a friend of mine who is a Muslim of Indian background. I made Hawashwy, my favorite Egyptian dish, along with a special ice cream cake that I’m obsessed with (OK, ice cream isn’t a traditional Arabic treat, but I am definitely not a fan of the sweets typical of the region, like baklava), and my friend, who likes spicy food, taught me how to spice up bland chicken by pouring a little vegetable oil in a pan, adding crushed red pepper and this shish taweek flavoring and frying the concoction. The chicken turned out very spicy (for me anyway) but very tasty, and now I have a new dish to prepare!
Celebrities celebrated each iftar in style, tent-hopping from one exclusive Ramadan tent to another (based on blogger The Fierce Nay’s Instagram postings, it seems like the cool thing for the ‘In’ crowd to try to visit as many tents as possible). Like their plebeian counterparts, the rich and the beautiful suffered through hunger pains and posted mouthwatering dishes (Shaza Hassoun, celebrating in Dubai, in particular loved posting various dishes as well as photos of her in djellabas). Haifa Wehbe performed several times over the course of Ramadan, culminating in a glitzy event on LBC channel with Tony Baroud, where she donned this stunning Zuhair Murad dress for Eid Festivities (which she posted on her Instagram). Maybe not the most modest option I saw for Eid style, but she looks fabulous in it!
Not Football: During the month of Ramadan the Libyan women’s football (soccer) team was banned from playing at an important pan-Arabia tournament in Germany because the Libyan Football Association, helmed by Nasser Ahmed, decided that the young women shouldn’t go because it was Ramadan. Many believed that it was just to cover-up the fact that conservative Libyans are highly against women playing sports, which was quite limited under the Ghaddhafi regime. What I wanted to know, which went unanswered in the Guardian article, was: were the girls going to fast on the days they played?! I hope not!
On the flip side, the Islamic religion might have been the victim in an incident in France (uh-oh) when four camp counselors from Gennevilliers were fired when it was discovered that they were not eating with the camp children, as required (For “safety reasons”) in their job contracts. I don’t feel that this was motivated by racism or Islamophobie, but rather was an unfortunate situation where religion did not jive with the law (in this case, a job contract). This brings us back to the crucially difficult question of where religion and secularism come into play. Should the counselors have been fired because they weren’t eating “properly?” Ultimately I’d say no, because they did eat twice a day, just at different times than the campers; however, if their contracts stipulated eating normally, it would be difficult to make an exception for these counselors and not, say, for a counselor who was perhaps diabetic, fasting for non-religious reasons or might even be anorexic.
On Thursday August 8th, the first day of Eid for many of the world’s Muslims, a cemetery was bombed in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan. Reuter’s reports that it is common for Afghans to visit family members’ graves on the first day of Eid; the 14 women and children who were killed were picnicking at family graves. Culturally, I found this an interesting story because I was under the impression that Islam did not promote grave worshiping or any such devotion outside of the masjid. Socially, I am disgusted that terrorists do not stop even for the holy holiday of Eid. Who did these women and children harm? What war did they start? And yet-they suffered the consequences.
Lest we conclude what is such a joyous time for Muslim worshipers on such a sad note, let me share with you Haifa Wehbe’s near heart-attack on Ramez Galal’s “Punked!”-style TV program’s “3ankh Amun” Ramadan episodes, which aired on the Al-Hayah network. Galal, a fast-talking Ashton Kutcher-wannabe, decides to trick Haifa into being lowered into a Giza pyramid and, well, you’ll see… Many Arab viewers felt that Galal had gone too far and should be sued. What do you think?
1. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/08/us-afghanistan-graveyard-idUSBRE9770E520130808 August 8th, Additional reporting by Rafiq Sherzad in NANGARHAR and Mohammad Zainullah in HELMAND; Editing by Nick Macfie
2. http://www.france24.com/en/20120801-town-retreats-after-ramadan-sackings-gennevilliers-national-front-muslim-france whaaaaat for not eating??!!
3. Libya soccor team banned ramadhan http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/19/libya-womens-football-team-banned-ramadan