In the Spirit of…

Some bloggers here have expressed their anger and disgust after finding Christmas decorations stuff in some supermarkets in Riyadh. Their reasoning: “we are not responsible for bringing joy to Christians who live among us because Christians in other countries are killing our Muslim brothers.” I have to say that I was totally disturbed by this senseless statement.

This way of thinking seems very similar to some reactions in the U.S. after 9/11: “hey, let’s kick Muslims out of this country altogether.” This is no good, and this is what gives extremists on both sides the chance to shamelessly voice their narrow-minded opinions. This is what makes people like Debbie Schlussel objects to Barack Obama’s nomination for presidency because his father was a Muslim “when we are fighting the war of our lives against Islam” she says in a recent, as well as senseless, post. I think people everywhere should realize that we, the whole world, are fighting a war against extremism of every kind, and not this faith or the other.

I can understand how some people feel threatened and want to protect their faith and beliefs, but I think it can be way too extreme sometimes. It is not as if these guys were putting a big Christmas tree in the middle of King Abdullah Rd., or as if they were forcing everyone to join the party. These Christmas decorations were even purposely distributed in the supermarket in such a way that it doesn’t feel they were there to celebrate the season.

Just because you don’t believe in something doesn’t give you the right to deny others from believing in it, especially when it has nothing to do with you whatsoever. We need to learn how to be more tolerant and accept differences, and that “different” does not necessarily and always equals “bad”.

Homegrown vs Imported

I wonder if anyone in the local blogosphere has written about the recent Asian Games that took place in Doha earlier this month. The Qataris have managed to organize a really great sports event, and they are already talking about bidding to host FIFA World Cup in 2018. I don’t have much to say about the Asian Games: the Sydney-esque opening ceremony was spectacular, and I enjoyed watching some of the competitions.

I just wanted to point to this report by Chris Turner for the IAAF about Saudi athletes. He compares our homegrown talents who won 9 gold medals in the Asiads to the imported athletes of Bahrain and Qatar, and he thinks they may have the potential to compete in World Championships and the Olympics Games.

Lebanon is Sinking

As much as I admire Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah as a person and respect the achievements that he has led the Lebanese resistance to achieve over the years, I find myself quite displeased with the situation that he and his allies have created in Lebanon during the past few weeks.

Hizbollah have accepted to become a part of the government. No one prevented them from that, and no one forced them into it. They have a demand (a national unity government), and they have the right to put it on the table to be discussed. If consensus is reached via dialogue that’s good, if not there should be a vote to resolve the issue. Whatever result the vote yields, everyone should adhere to it.

When the majority refused to answer Hizbollah’s calls, the latter have decided to withdraw from the government. After withdrawing they said the government is not constitutional because it doesn’t represent all the Lebanese people. This is ridiculous because they have withdrawn at their own will; it is not as if someone has kicked them out of the government.

They have the right to demonstrate, and it is the government’s duty to protect their right to demonstrate. However, accusing everyone else of disloyalty and treason is unacceptable, and it won’t get them anywhere.

I could talk endlessly about the situation in Lebanon and how wrong and absurd it is. And the words above are no political analysis as I’m not an expert on this topic, and I could be mistaken but at least this is how I see it. Now let me come how I feel about it: I feel bad, really bad. Because I have always looked up to Lebanon as a role model for other Arab countries when it comes to freedom, democracy and diversity. Today all I can see is a country sinking in a deep dark sea of wars, conflicts and selfish interests.

I know for sure that Lebanese people would rise this country from the ashes, as they always do, but let us not forget how many souls were lost and how much time has gone and will never comeback.

Prioritization (or the lack thereof)

When asked about issues such as women’s driving and providing more entertainment outlets for youth, some decision makers here say: this is not a priority for us in the present time. Very diplomatic, but also very alarming because these officials don’t bother to tell people their other priorities, if there was any of course.

I find the idea of prioritization somehow troubling, especially when discussing national issues and in the absence of an elected parliament that reflects the opinion of the nation. I think that some officials use prioritization as an excuse to ignore, avoid, or delay taking decisions even though he knows deep down these are the right decisions to take, only because such decisions don’t go well with his personal agenda. What we have now is different trends in the society having different priorities, and different leaders having different priorities, all while our most pressing issues remain unsolved and get even more complicated.

Now my question for you dear readers: if you have the ability to solve one of our national issues, what is the single most issue you would like to solve?