tuque /tūk/ n Canadian English, var. toque [19th c. Canadian French, from the French toque, from the Basque tauka] 1 A close-fitting knitted cap, often with a long tapering end or tassel or pompom. 2 fig Something quintessentially Canadian.
souq /sūk/ n from the Arabic سوق var. souk 1 An open-air marketplace. 2 fig A central meeting place for the circulation of news and ideas.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Maher Arar launches new online magazine

Maher Arar--the Canadian citizen of Syrian origin who was once extraordinarily renditioned by the United States with Canadian complicity, jailed and tortured for 10 months in Syria, and then fully exonerated by a Canadian judicial inquiry which found that the RCMP not only was complicit in misidentifiying him as an al-Qaida-linked terrorist but also engaged in a conspiracy with Canadian intelligence officials to cover up some of the truth of how Arar was sent to be tortured in a foreign land--has started his own online magazine.

PRISM Magazine is a new not-for-profit venture that Arar has developed for a general Canadian audience, focusing on issues of National Security, Human Rights and International Law.*

Among the features in the launch issue of the online publication:
According to an article in Global Winnipeg, Arar chose the name PRISM because it "is something that takes one type of light and defuses into many lights, emphasizing the analyses. Prism means transparency, too. That's the kind of impression we want to portray."

Coincidentally, "Project Prism" is the code-name of a recently revealed and continuing RCMP investigation, started in 2006, into whether charges against Canadian officials were warranted in the Arar case. One official reportedly questioned was retired Canadian diplomat Gar Pardy, one of PRISM's new regular contributors.

[Tip o' the hat to Canadian Magazines blog]

* - Arar's PRISM is not to be confused with another similarly titled publication, Prism International magazine, the fifty-year-old quarterly literary magazine published by the University of British Columbia.)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Loose lips sink dictatorships

[Illustration from Bendib via Arabist]

The so-called Arab Satellite Charter is a proposal to create an Arab-wide media "monitoring" (a.k.a. censorship) outfit to police programming on Arab satellite TV. The proposal is being discussed today at a summit of the Ministers of Information of the 22 members states of the Arab League

Specifically, the three main (and privately owned) satellite stations the charter will target are: Al-Manar (the satellite mouthpiece of Hezbollah); Al-Aqsa (the satellite mouthpiece of Hamas); and Al-Jazeera (the Arab world's first and only independent satellite news network).

In unquestionably related news, these three satellite networks are among the most critical of Arab regimes and dictatorships, especially Egypt and Saudi Arabia, whose Ministers of Information hatched this censorship proposal so that they might be spared the daily criticism from popular media beyond their well-censored borders.

Qatar, in whose capital city Al-Jazeera is based, and Lebanon, home to Al-Manar, are said to be among the few Arab countries who oppose the proposal.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Do not pity the fuul

An Arab Foodie blog? Why didn't I think of that?

One of the newest Middle Eastern blogs, from blog-mad Egypt, is called al-Masri al-Yum (a play on the Arabic al-Masri al-Youm, a popular Egyptian newspaper whose name translates as Egypt Today). The site offers recipes, reviews, snarky critiques of Egyptian food culture, and plenty of steaming hot puns.

Its authors give the following reasons for starting the blog:
"First, complaining about Egyptian food is a hardy perennial Cairo whine amongst khawagat and others. As an alternative to whining, we’re suggesting a more constructive activity: Learning to cook.

"Second, while we enjoy the restaurant reviews in some of our favorite local publications, we often find them a bit milquetoast for our tastes, sometimes reading like glorified press releases.

"Third, we love food, and it is sometimes very difficult to write about it, so we’ll try to sharpen our skills."
Check out the site here. Without further ado, here is al-Masri al-Yum's recipe for that most basic and delicious of Egyptian dishes, fuul:

Umm Lady HaSha’s Fuul
The recipe as written will feed a brunch full of hungry people. Feel free to scale up or down as you wish.
  • 2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
  • 4 chopped onions
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 1 green pepper, coarse chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, diced or 1 can diced tomatoes
  • .5 tsp of salt, pepper and cumin
  • 4 cans of fuul (not the mashed beans, the cans with the whole beans. They are called “fuul medammis bil-khalta al-misriyya”)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • Juice of 1 lime
Saute the onions in oil on low heat. Add garlic and pepper. Add tomatoes and spices. Add fuul and tomato paste. Stir occasionally, maintaining low heat throughout. Add lime juice. Taste it. Add more spices or lime to taste. Serve immediately.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Jesus sees you... and now he will blow your head off

The American military, still involved in two land wars in Asia despite credible advice to the contrary, recently upgraded a crucial part of its arsenal with a little help from the man upstairs.

Jesus--that tireless humanitarian still plugging away at his job despite 2000 years of "Dear Jesus, if you get me outta this jam I promise I'll go to church every Sunday"--has been enlisted to help the American military shoot bad guys, most of whom are reportedly Muslim.

The military contractor Trijicon (possibly a front for Dr. Evil) has produced thousands of rifle scopes for the US and allied infantry, scopes etched with what appears to be serial numbers that all end with JN8:12.

Bible thumpers and fans of the film Shawshank Redemption will recognize this nomenclature as John chapter 8 verse 12: "And Jesus said to them, I am the light of the world; he that follows me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life."

The rationale for baptizing guns in the sweet water of Jesus' creed: The scope is "designed to function in low light or no light conditions... [and] is ideal for combat due to its high degree of discrimination even among moving targets," said a statement by the manufacturer.

In other words, people who shoot other people are often in the dark and therefore could use a bit of light, light only they and not their enemies can see.

Jesus: better than night-vision goggles, and a whole lot cheaper.

So the American military via its orthodox contractor is hoping to embolden its infantrymen mired in unending, unwinnable wars in Muslim countries by arming them with guns blessed by a deity whose singular message was Love.

Reached for comment, a Pentagon spokesperson was reportedly "disturbed."

Reached for further comment, a Jesus spokesperson was reportedly "not f*cking surprised."

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Mohamed Kohail won't die today

The CBC and the Globe and Mail are reporting that Canadian citizen Mohamed Kohail, on death row in Saudi Arabia for allegedly causing the death of a schoolmate in 2007, is no longer sentenced to die.

According to the reports, the Supreme Judicial Council, Saudi Arabia's highest court, has revoked the death penalty against Mohamed Kohail though not against his brother Sultan (who is being tried separately for his unclear role in the same incident) and not against a third defendant, a Jordanian citizen. It appears that Mohamed may simply be tried again by a newly constituted lower court.

It is unclear how this new ruling is different from a similar one in February of last year, when the Supreme Judicial Council in essence revoked the death penalty against Mohamed by returning the case to the lower court for further review.

Then as now, the ruling apparently in Mohamed's favour is not tantamount to clemency. As the Tuque Souq has commented, only King Abdullah (perhaps under diplomatic pressure) or the family of the victim (perhaps after a restitution payment of several million dollars) can grant clemency.

The guilt or innoncence of Mohamed Kohail under the arm of Saudi jurisprudence has not changed, either. Therefore all we know for sure is that Mohamed Kohail won't die today.

Related posts:

Mohamed Kohail, in his own words

Chop Chop... is Mohamed Kohail next?

Save Mohamed Kohail: Update February 2009

Mohamed Kohail update: Urgent appeal for clemency

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Even TSN loves Nazem Kadri, as long as he's more Canadian than Muslim

Nazem Kadri, the Lebanese-Canadian hockey star, whose name loosely translates as Sublime One Who Submits to the Will of Fate, is on his way home to London (Ontario) with a silver medal around his neck, after Team Canada dropped the championship game in overtime to the Americans tonight at the World Juniors in Saskatchewan.

The debacle in the gold-medal game notwithstanding, the Canucks excelled on the ice and Kadri in particular shone with 3 goals, 3 assists, and 472 hits principally of the bone-crushing variety.

TSN's television coverage was predictably patriotic. They ran regular featurettes on Canada's stars, and it was finally Kadri's turn for a profile tonight. Naturally, TSN played up the immigrant angle. The clip of the piece can be found here.

At the outset, the narrator tells us that Nazem Kadri's father, Sam, was "four years old when civil war broke out, prompting the family to move to Canada in 1968." (Note to TSN fact-checking department: the Lebanese Civil War in fact began in 1975.)

Later, we learn that Sam's decision to encourage his son to play hockey met with disapproval from "some members of the Lebanese community." (Note to TSN editing department: Please locate some stock footage less stereotypical than Muslims praying in a mosque to depict "some members of the Lebanese community.")

And, at the end of the clip, Sam says of his talented son that "at the end of the day, he's just another Canadian kid doing what Canadians do." (Note to TSN producer: Please don't encourage the use of pallid idiomatic expressions. At the end of the day we're just fed up with that saying.)

TSN also treated us to footage of a trio of Arab-Canadian former hockey players. They left out at least one other part-Arab who is in the NHL right now. Justin Abdelkader, a second-round pick of the Detroit Red Wings in 2005, is a Michigander whose parternal grandfather hailed from Jordan. The 22-year-old left-winger has 3 goals and 3 assists in 38 games this season.

However, you wouldn't guess his pedigree from the way his name is spoken. Far from an Arabic pronunciation, CBC Hockey Night in Canada announcers pronounce Justin's last name as something close to abdicator. Telling? (To be fair, Justin's bleach-blond hair doesn't exactly make him look like King Abdullah.)