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Laila .. Hold your Ground

This Post is part of Kolena Laila initiative

I chose to wear the Hijab when i was 15 years old. My family was against this decision and my mum tried to convince me to delay this step claiming that I am too young and when I join college and see my friends dressing up and changing hair styles every now and then I would get jealous and might take it off. But I held my ground. it was my life and I had the right to choose. Now, it has been 14 years 5 months and 15 days and i have never regretted this decision.

I chose to join the Faculty of Arts and study English Literature. If you are familiar with the educational system in Egypt you would know that the Faculty of Arts is not exactly classified as one of the top faculties to join. My grades were really high and my family tried to convince me to join something else, but I loved Literature and I knew I wouldn't be comfortable studying anything else. So I held my ground. it was my life and I had the tight to choose. It has been 8 years sin…

Kolena Laila!

The first time I heard about Kolena Laila was through a tweet from my cousin. I was really intrigued to find out more about it. I mean, why Laila? Why not Samia, or Rawya or any other name?

Kolena Laila or "We are all Laila" is a virtual initiative on the blogosphere that calls to review values and prevalent ideas related to females, and how society enacts them with no consideration of their impact on women themselves. The call here is not to propagate a certain value or culture, but it is rather a call to criticize and review our own daily behavior, with a true desire to change and purify our attitudes in life.

The idea started with a group of female bloggers, and despite the fact that Kolena Laila was founded by bloggers from Egypt, the founders assure that it is for all Arab women in general, not only Egyptians.

Why Laila?

Simple, it is an adoption of the heroine’s name from the novel "The Open Door", written by the Egyptian novelist "Latifa El Zayyat", wh…

My fellow women beware … in France you have no freedom of choice!

Yesterday President Nicolas Sarkozy addressed both houses of parliament and during his speech he showed his support to banning the Niqb (a veil which covers the face, worn by some Muslim women as a part of their Hijab). Sarkozy attacked the Niqab describing it as “a sign of subservience” that suppresses women's identities and turns them into "prisoners behind a screen."What amazes me is that Sarkozy assumes that all women who wear the Niqab are forced to do so and he didn’t stop for a one minute to consider that may be … just may be some women wear it because they truly believe that it is part of their religion’s teaching and they are willingly following it. I am a Muslim woman and I don’t believe in the Niqab but I wear a scarf on my head (Hijab) that was my choice and my belief. However even though I don’t believe in the Niqab I don’t think that anyone has the right to deprive a woman from her own freedom of choice. Every woman has the right to choose what to wear, wha…

Arab Media Forum Disappointment!

Yesterday was the first time for me to attend the Arab Media Forum. I had a meeting at the morning but luckily I finished just in time to catch the session I was really interested in attending; “Daily Newspapers: Crisis in the West, growth in the Arab World."
We have all been arguing about the death of printed media and the rise of digital and social media. Yet one year ago, The National newspaper was launched in the UAE and a couple of months ago Alrroya Aleqtisadiya newspaper did. In Egypt I honestly lost track of newspapers launched as every now and then I hear of a new one. My colleague just read that a new printed newspaper will launch in Oman. Does this look like a growth in printed media or what?So I was really looking forward to the session hoping it would shed the light on the reasons behind this growth or proving the death of printed media, especially with the prominent media figures speaking and attending. I was expecting a great debate and a heated discussion among all…

In response to: PR and the press: it’s over, but let’s still be friends!

I have been in the UAE for two years. For the past year and six months I have been working in PR and so far I enjoy it.However, ever since I started I couldn’t help noticing that weird love/hate relationship between media and PR here. So many times I have read and heard journalists talking about how the PR industry is woeful and PR people are a mere hindrance to them. I kept quiet till I read today’s article in The National.
I really liked it when Tala was talking about the ethics of journalism and said “some of us...” I liked how she acknowledged that some journalists understand true journalism and others don’t. I just wish that she did the same talking about PR because, believe it or not, there are good PR people out there just as there are bad ones. I really don’t think that Tala met or dealt with every single PR person here.
I agree that PR shouldn’t be the journalist’s only source of information. But why not be one of many? I know my client’s business better than anyone, I know wha…

Why is everything turning into Muslim Vs Coptic Issue?

Ever since the Egyptian government decided to slaughter the 350,000 pigs in Egypt because of Swine Flu and I have been hearing conflicting thoughts and views as some are praising the decision and others are fighting it and accusing the government of ignorance. Honestly, I was ok with that; after all you could never please everyone.I still haven’t made up my mind regarding the rightness of this decision though. Sometimes when I read in websites like CDC about how Influenza viruses can be directly transmitted from pigs to people and from people to pigs, I say may be it was the right decision, may be it is better to be safe than sorrow. We already screwed up the Bird Flu situation, should we wait till we screw up this situation as well!Other times when I read that there are no confirmed cases of transmission between pigs and humans at this point as per WHO and hear people argue; should we kill humans infected as well? I re-think the whole situation. I mean I know I can’t compare humans t…

The $1,000,000 question …How many genders are out there?

All my life I knew that there were two genders; male and female, apparently however I was totally wrong and ignorant.According to digg.com there are 16 types of genders that you have to choose from when creating your profile.1-Guy2-Girl3-Dude4-Lady5-Fellow6-Bird (Birdy Egg from Nest Ville – Oak land, signing up to Digg) 7-Chap8-Grrrl9-Gentleman10-Damsel11-Beau12-Belle13-Male14-Female15-Transgender16-None of the above (Aliens who want to Digg)
See how ignorant I was =)

Funky Arab… Are we indeed?!

I have watched lately Jad Choueiri’s video Funky Arab, I read the comments on Youtube, face book and listen to people at the office arguing about it. To be honest when I first saw the video I was totally shocked. One of my colleagues said "I understand your shock but at least he is out there trying to do something to change how people, especially in the west, perceive Arab."As an Arab, I for once am totally against labeling Arab as angry bearded men or women covered in black, but the question here is do I want to be labeled in the way Jad reflected in his video?!I honestly don’t think that what Jad reflected has anything to do with how the Arab or funky Arab looks. I didn’t know that being funky meant wearing bikini, botox injecting my face, smoking and dancing around like a B***h, or wearing sunglasses at night and chains all around my neck.Is this really the kind of image I want people to perceive Arab as!Some of the comments on Youtube accused those against the video of b…

Why do I confuse you?!

I have recently watched this amazing video The Happy Muslims Who Confuse You,by syndicated columnist Mona Eltahway, talking about Muslims stereotypes and how they are seen by media. The image you get about Muslims especially in the West is angry bearded men and women covered in black that are almost invisible in every way. Watching the video I realized that I too am judged based upon this stereotype image. I am a moderate Muslim woman, I wear the hijab; I am not covered in black, but I have a scarf on my head and I wear ordinary skirts, pants and dresses with long sleeves and I work in PR. I never thought that being the way I am would confuse people till one day when I was having a cup of coffee with a journalist and he said “I don’t think you are wearing the hijab because you are convinced of it.” When I asked why would he think that he answered “because you are so open minded!!” The answer really shocked me!Does being a Muslim woman in a hijab means I should be close minded! Does it…