We Simply Do Not Deserve It

Posted on: November 30th, 2009 by Ramsey 8 Comments

Egypt Algeria WCup Soccer

(AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

Written by Khalid Jabaly

This month we witnessed a milestone in the history of Middle Eastern sport as Egypt and Algeria locked sides for their last chance at qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, resulting in the birth of one of the most heated rivalries in the history of football in the Middle East. A lot of blood, sweat and tears was shed only to see Algeria qualify to the grand stage and Egypt fall back to where they struggled from. The build up to this match was one of the most heated and anticipated build ups in the history of Middle Eastern football, an indicator that the sport is moving forward within the region, as the beauty of football is reflected through the colors, the cultures and the philosophies behind both nations’ social aspects, additionally, the violence that took place prior to the match was a serious indicator of how the game is being appreciated and a reflection of the public’s passion towards their teams, something rare to see in the Middle East, and whether you agree or not, violence is a part of what makes this game so beautiful to watch.

Let’s take a look at Football’s most notable rivalries, starting off with the Classico; a rivalry that revolved around principles and spirit where the Catalans stood up to the Fascist regime of Franco, as the likes of Kubala and Di Stephano defended their principles alongside their partners to rise on top of their conflict, backed up by the support of their fans who never failed to cheer and jeer. Lets also take a look at the War that takes place in Rome between Lazio, the elite of the society, and Roma, the working class team that fought for their rights and expressed their philosophies through football, let’s also take a look at the most recent rivalry in Manchester, where a team stood united for so many years achieving endless achievements and the other struggled with its citizens until money was injected from the UAE, where the question of integrity and history came into place, as money can’t buy trophies. Lets even take a closer look at what we have in the Middle East where Al Ahli and Al Zamalek have been fighting for so many years to prove who is to be the most valuable and the most dominant, same with Jordan, however, politics took the rivalry into another direction where both teams represented neighboring nations; one represented by their people and the other represented by their refugees. A lot of rivalries in football have taken place, and they are all justified with reason and backed up with violence when provoked; unlike this rivalry between Algeria and Egypt where violence was provoked over the lack of sportsmanship and the lack of respect and over something the game guarantees: winning and losing.

There is no doubt that during the past four years, players from both nations gained international recognition from football fans and from world class teams, as many of those players were recruited for their services; sadly enough they never maintained consistency. Let’s take a few examples; Not so long ago, Amr Zaki was the most talked about striker in the Premier league, scoring 10 goals in the first two to three weeks of the season, and rumors started spreading around that Real Madrid were considering a move for him and all this hype was flushed down the toilet the minute his head became too big to carry and decided not to go to trainings and fight with his manager along fellow unprofessional act, Mido, by the end of the season they were both labeled as ‘the most unprofessional players to ever deal with’ by Steve Bruce. If we even go a few years back, specifically to 2006, Mido pulled off his infamous rant and refused to get off the pitch when he was subbed by his manager Hassan Shehata during the Semi final bout against Ivory Coast in the African Cup, nevertheless, he never failed to impress with his unprofessionalism furthermore, as he went off form the following season after having millions invested in him. Later he joined Birmingham city only to claim that he was bigger than the club and failed to turn to training several times resulting in his shipment to Middlesborough, and later to Wigan where alongside Zaki pulled off great unprofessional gigs. Another player, who held a lot of potential, was Hussam Ghali; a person who won Al Ahli’s game against a full throttle Real Madrid during their galacticos era, managed to act amazingly unprofessional when he disrespectfully threw the Tottenham shirt to the floor on his way to the bench after playing 20 minutes of horrible football. The story doesn’t end here, as most recently, Hadary, the best goalkeeper in the history of the Middle East, managed to find it in his heart to turn his back to the fans and to his team mates at al Ahli when he decided to play for a Swiss side without any notice. These are the most notable stories from the most notable Arab football stars.
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Theater Review: Crosswords

Posted on: November 29th, 2009 by Ramsey No Comments

Words and photography by Rian Evers

Crosswords Theater Play

When the lights in the theatre dim, the vibrant rhythm of the seven actors and actresses moving in sync on stage becomes audible. Creatively arranged lights produce doubled shadows on the wall in the back. It becomes immediately obvious that the characters in this play are crazy; the actresses have long disheveled hair, both the actors and actresses wear exaggerated make-up, their movements are spastic, uncontrolled and their mouths twitch in funny angles every now and then. I’m pleasantly surprised to be a witness of this silent physical performance, the first of its kind I observe here in Jordan.

The theatre play “Crossword”, directed by Dr. Mohammad Khayr Alrifa’i, brings a fresh new breeze into the mainly traditional theatre-landscape of Jordan. It’s a relief to find an attempt for innovation, experimentation and new forms of theatre on the main stage of the Royal Cultural Centre during the Jordanian Theatre Festival which concluded last week.

A clear storyline is absent from the play, and it lacks traditional characters with psychological struggles and conflicts. Perhaps that’s why some classify the play as post-modern or even post-post-modern. However, with body movement, constant varying interaction between the actors, choir work (a group of actors moving as one) and strong facial expressions as the main theatrical ingredients, I prefer to regard it as physical theatre.

The actors and actresses, all theatre students from Yarmouk University, give more than 100 percent on stage. They carry out detailed and precise physical actions with enthusiasm and conviction from the first to the last scene and maintain a harmony in exact timing and movement despite the changing rhythm and dynamic of each scene. This results in beautiful visuals, further emphasized by the clever ways in which the director makes use of the whole stage. The actors and actresses are flexible on stage: merging with the group in the background when required, while showing outstanding individual performances when they’re in the spotlights. The way in which they are comfortable being physically close to and with each other also pleased me a lot.

 

Since the director proves capable of presenting catchy visuals, funny tableaux vivants (frozen images), rhythmic physical scores for the whole group, and subtle highlights on actors’ individual talents, it is unfortunate to sometimes see him fall in the trap of superficial and unnecessary comical acting. The play intends to deliver a profound and intellectually challenging message to the audience about the manipulation of the masses through media, but only an amusing and entertaining sequence of scenes comes through; the audience embraces the comical notes while fishing for the hidden message. While some may have been able to make a story of their own, others had their laughs and left merely entertained. While this might have resulted partly from the absence of speech and storyline, it is also inherently connected to the directors’ choice for crazy characters; distancing the audience from whatever takes place on stage. No matter how much a director wishes to reflect an aspect of general human behavior to the audience by staging crazy people, craziness never works as a mirror.

So far I have seen three plays of the Jordanian Theatre Festival. Though their stories, stage-designs and theatre-genres differ significantly, they have one thing in common: all of them stage crazy people. Without denying that the actors’ performances in all these plays were impressive and require guts and courage, I must voice my disappointment for the directors’ choices in this matter. For, wouldn’t their message to the audience be more confronting and effective when we’d see people like ourselves struggle with the issues presented than when they’re left to be solved by the insane…??  

Rian Evers is a graduating theatre-student from Holland.

A Legal Framework Against Sexual Violence

Posted on: November 26th, 2009 by Ramsey 12 Comments

sexual assault

Written by LS.

From my previous work experiences as a case worker, social work (SW) practices became embedded in my insight as a Jordanian-Palestinian: I came to believe that nothing is more sacred than protection from gender based violence (GBV) and sexual violence (SV). SV is “any sexual act or attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances or threats of harm, by any person regardless of relationship to the victim” (ISAC, 2008). In Jordan, women are at risk of SV including rape and sexual harassment (SH). Most women and girls who experience the trauma of SV will be left with psychological after-effects, which may need to be addressed such as post-traumatic shock disorder, loss of self-esteem, feelings of guilt and shame, self-blame and suicidal thoughts.

Cultural structure and function are primary factors when discussing SV, since these play an integral part in the harassing of women by strangers. Therefore, it plays a very important part in the issue of SV because this kind of gender-based violence is specifically informed by cultural practices. However, we should not serve to legitimize such violence under the banner of cultural norms. Specific programs to counter these must be developed, both at the local and national levels.

In Amman, I had the chance to interview two cases of exposure to SH where it most commonly occurs, on the main road or in the workplace. My first case Kate (not her real name) was an American-Asian woman in her 30s. Her incident happened in the evening around 8:00pm. She was walking by herself on a foot bridge at 3rd circle. The perpetrator was walking from the other side of the bridge, and when he passed her, he turned around then groped her from behind. Kate said: “When the perpetrator harassed me, I told him ‘haram aleik’ (what you did is prohibited).” He calmly smiled and walked away. After the incident, Kate expressed that she felt sick to her stomach. For many months, Kate became afraid to walk by herself, particularly at night, and she felt hatred for males, seeking to avoid contact with them for over a month after the incident.  Another case Nadine (not her real name) was walking in the early morning around 8:00am up some steps leading onto Rainbow Street in Jabal-Amman, and a man was waiting there. Nadine mentioned that when she walked past him, he placed his hand on her breast – she immediately smacked it off and screamed. The perpetrator turned around and calmly walked down the steps and acted as if nothing had happened. Nadine stated that she screamed “haram!” at him, “but that would not mean anything to someone as Godless as he was – so even using that word was futile.”

These two cases are examples for other women and girls who are victims of SH in Jordan. Unfortunately, these result from a socio-cultural heritage and a weak legal framework in which a woman’s body is treated as property. Jordanian laws provide little or no protection for female victims of violence. Jordan’s penal codes classify SV as against public morals and ethics, explaining that any crime against an individual is a crime against the norms and values (Amnesty International, 2005). The legal and social barriers (culture of silence) and discriminatory legislation in force in Jordan does not act as a restriction to violence, nor does it provide victims with adequate rights for the abuse they have suffered. Therefore, these risks should be taken into serious consideration when confronting the phenomenon of SV.

The Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), requires the Jordanian government to take action to eliminate violence against women as a form of discrimination that inhibits women’s ability to enjoy rights and freedoms on a basis of equality with men. Despite the ratification of CEDAW, it is evident that the Jordanian government continues to fail to take this convention seriously. Researchers should focus on analyzing: the notion of GBV and the dynamics of acts of SV in the Jordanian society, with the aim of providing feedback for a comprehensive action program on this issue. Also, they should refine the concept of SV through workshops, which would prepare the ground for qualitative field research in Jordan that could help examine the link between cultural norms of gender, ethnicity, and age.

A critical area for the 21st century that has great potential for bringing about change is the issue of gender activism. Gender activism can bring about expansive change by implementing action against crimes of violence, like SH and by creating public awareness of this issue.  These activists can redress various instances of gender discrimination and constantly monitor government agencies, police, and the judiciaries.  They should also be aware of the local policies and laws affecting the victims of SV.

SV is a crime not only against women and girls, but also a crime against humanity.  Institutions and leaders must join efforts with the wider civil society, including political parties, to put an end to this horrific phenomenon.  Victims must be protected and the perpetrators of these crimes must be appropriately punished and re-educated.

Resources:
Amnesty International (2005). Women and conflict, the untold story. Available at: http://news.amnesty.org/. Accessed November, 2009.
Inter-Agency Standing Committee (2008). Guidelines for Gender-Based Violence interventions in Humanitarian Settings. Geneva.
The United Nations Population Fund (2005). Discrimination against the girl child Available at: www.unfpa.org/. Accessed November, 2009.

Picture of the Day | A View of Downtown

Posted on: November 25th, 2009 by Ramsey 10 Comments

Downtown Amman

Photo by Khalid Jabaly   -   منظر عام لوسط مدينة عمان من شرفة ديوان الدوق