Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas in Libya

Two years ago, I vowed not to remember anyone's special celebrations unless they remembered mine. I was offended at how come I wished all my friends and acquaintances Christmas, Chanukah, Veterans Day, Independence Day, Nairuz etc... and those same people only remembered Christmas and New Year, no good wishes at all directed to the Muslim world.  I checked and checked on Facebook to see any reaction this year too and it was only from the usual suspects less than 3 people in total ( apart from the Arabs), who do remember every date. The others would remember silly birthdays but nothing more it was as if our festivities do not exist even my Asian friends who have a mix in their respective countries did not remember so I was not going to blame the other folks...

So for all the talk about multiculturalism and melting pots not sure it is working some people think they are superior. The only ones who turned to have the real spirit of multiculturalism were Arabs funnily enough.

And to prove it this is a first in Libya now that Ghaddafi is gone even the Tripoli Post is wishing readers Merry Christmas - go Libya GO ! well done !

So in the true spirit of Christ who originated from our part of world, I am taking my vow back and wishing everyone and not just the usual suspects publicly everything good  for whichever occasion is at hand. After all if someone is not a good person we do not need use the same style of treatment....and here is my first new year resolution...

Merry Christmas everyone !

PS have you wished Libyans a Happy Independence Day ? it was yesterday on Christmas Eve :P

Monday, December 12, 2011

Versatile Blogger Award : The Libyan Bloggers

First of all I want to thank Khadijateri who has awarded me and a number of other Libyan bloggers  this award.

To explain about it I'm going to use the same words she did - so much easier and I'm being lazy tonight !
and I agree with her 100% that internet connection has not been good lately bordering on the unreliable, but to be honest it is difficult to be mad after all the country has been through a war  an I'm grateful that a lot of things still work.. ok back to the award :)

What is it?

The award is a kind of pay-it-forward award. Those who receive it are  asked to thank and link to the giver and then elect 5 to 15 other  bloggers with the Versatile Blogger Award and let them know by leaving a  comment on their blog.

Khadijateri beat me to some of my favourite bloggers :) so....

Who gets the award now ?

It's difficult to choose from so much talent, Libyans had to be creative in the Gaddafi era and now there is so much we want to talk about . So I really want to award this to all the Libyan bloggers and bloggerettes and a large number of them are collected in this blog those who write in Arabic and those who write in  English and some write in a few other languages. Please click on them all pick your choice and then please come back and tell me who did you like and what did you find special about their writing ?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Highlights of a Libyan Meal Plan: Guest Column by Carolyn K

Carolyn from Blog Content Guild has recently come across my rant on the Islamist wave sweeping the region on the trails of the so called Arab Spring ( I hate that cliche), and she suggested to publish a piece here about what can be learned from the culture of Libya through its traditions and food.

Why not? I said and here we are.....I admit it feels strange to read about Libyan dishes presented thus but it certainly is a change for me from war and politics ! right ?

This post has actually reminded me of  wonderful  British-Libyan blogger Soad whose recipes and the end product are absolutely delicious so if you want to check what Libyan food looks like and try out how it tastes please make a stop at her blog as well.
Ok no more chit chat from me here is Carolyn talking :

"Food in Libya is some of the best in the world, and people should relish in the delicious recipes Libya has to offer, when they can. The people of Libya know how to cook lamb. In fact, it has been asserted by some that lamb is cooked more in Libya than in any other place else in the world. If this is true, it means that there is no shortage of opportunity to eat some delicious lamb in the country. Fortunately for people who find themselves in Libya, the delicious meal plan options aren’t limited to just lamb. There is an array of scrumptious meal offerings to be enjoyed. Here are a few dishes that Libya is famous for:

1. Bazin – This dish is essentially a ball of dough (from barley flour) in the middle of delicious stew. The stew includes lamb, potatoes, tomato paste, olive oil, and spices like turmeric. 
2. Shorba Libiya –Libya is famous for its delicious soups, and it is most famous for Shorba Libiya. This is a lamb and chickpea soup that is traditionally eaten during Ramadan or for other special occasions. It usually has minty and coriander undertones and a spicy kick to it. If you’re in the mood for this soup, you’re in luck. You can find it just about anywhere in Libya.

3. Sand Baked Bread – Some bread bakers in Libya will actually bake their bread in the hot sand. In general, bread in Libya is hearty in taste and in terms of thickness. If the idea of eating bread that is baked in sand isn’t your cup of tea, you can get pick up some delicious bread baked in a tagine (a clay or terra-cotta pot) instead.

4.  Magrood – If you want to satisfy your sweet tooth in Libya, you have to try magrood. It’s a pastry dipped in sugar syrup with a date filling. Be careful, though. It’s easy to eat a whole plate of magrood cookies and end up with a stomachache from all the sugar!

5. Usban – This Libyan sausage is the perfect snack to fill you up before your next hearty Libyan meal. Usban is typically stuffed with herbs, rice, lamb, and liver. So, it’s sure to please your palate and help fulfill your body’s daily protein quota.

So, warm your heart with some Shorba Libiya and spend some time savoring all of the wonderful food Libya has to offer!  "

So I would LOVE  for my readers Libyans and non Libyan  alike  (those  that still exist of course and I want to publicly thank you here and make a virtual curtsey for sticking with me :P !)  to share their reactions with me, please tell me what do you think these dishes say about the Libyan culture and are Libyans really lovers of lamb meat  - I would vote yes  for kharouf watani  :P !

Friday, December 02, 2011

Libya, Western policy & the so called Islamists: when you cannot beat them, join them!

After spending part of the 20th Century funding and forging alliances with anyone with an 'Islamist' agenda to counter Communism, the US and the Western world in general decided Islamists were the bad guys. So then they spent the next decade fighting them all over the globe even if they were democratically elected. Post 9/11 it was even worse and there was total breakdown in communication. This attitude from the West has helped fuel hatred towards not only Islamists but really anything and anyone Muslim (at least that's my impression) which fell right into the lap of the extremists and helped further their plans thereby resulting in  a vicious cycle of violence that targeted not only western interests but ordinary Muslims and non- Muslim alike.

The horrible wars fought by proxy in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia etc.... are a witness to this  yet it was and has always been a loosing war for the western powers; with resounding defeats in my opinion in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia and  Sudan. Troops are pulling out steadily but surely, which means that they will have to come to accept these 'people' and negotiate some kind of  honourable retreat a la Iraq for example. The Taliban are still powerful in Afghanistan, the Iranian mullahs have gotten hold of Iraq, Pakistan? no comment and Somalia is run by those Shababs, Sudan ? they had to be pushed into partition, Palestine, into a civil war, Algeria are still reeling from their post election war in the 90s that seem to have put them  out of the 'Arab Spring ' loop  for the moment ....etc.....etc...

There is a saying which I oft repeat "when you cannot beat them, join them" and that is a wise advice :) but the US and the Western world cannot do this without looking like losers  and like all this money and the  lives lost were for nothing. So to save face the iconic figure of Islamic fundamentalists had to be demolished. Nothing  more cathartic then murdering Bin Ladin to send the right message, to  back home, to your average  Arab  and Muslim but also to your so called Islamist. The message was that if we get this 'victory' we bury the hatchet and you guys get the opportunity to for the first time of your life get on the political stage legally.

So when Arab countries started to revolt  I was sure that whatever I brought up here would  be kicking in fast along with the political machinery that goes with it. The other dimension is the involvement of ambitious GCC countries not exactly beacons of democracy and who fear Iran's domination and whose human rights record is appalling .

To prove my  conspiracy theory let's glance at the newspaper headlines for 2011 post 'Arab Spring' developments:

Islamist leader named Morocco PM [source]
Tunisia Islamist Party wins vote [source]
Islamist strong ahead of Egypt poll [source]
Fatah Hamas prepare to bury the hatchet [source]

Saudi Arabia is the bedrock of Wahhabism and yet is America's best ally, Qatar is forging a name for itself and funnily has been linked from the beginning in the Libyan uprising and other pots. The Bahrain revolution has been violently stymied down, Syria is heading towards civil war unless a miracle happens, Yemen we are in season two of the revolution and not sure what the world is waiting for, Lebanon is in such a mess that nothing needs to be done to make it worse, Oman saw a very short lived movement and Saudi Arabia pumped money to its people, Jordan is trying a balancing act, Kuwait had the daring movement of the storming of its parliament and  so many other examples all over the region

Even in Libya it seems that the US would give it's blessings to an Islamic government as long as its own interests are safeguarded check this headline. We need to remember that this cleric mentioned here is believed to be an American /Qatari stooge by a large number or Libyans....and he has ambitions of( or for his party) to lead in Libya.

Who would have thought this possible a mere year ago? the key word seems to be 'moderate' Islamist. Nevertheless it is a U turn for the US and others  and now it seems that  it has been decreed that the old dictators were no longer useful, they are ushering a new breed disguised under something that they believe will be acceptable to the people.

The fishy stink is can be smelled from kms away... I want to be optimistic for the freedom, but I don't dare lest my hopes are dashed to the ground. May I be wrong and just a crying Cassandra but in light of what is happening and what has happened in 2011, my words on Feb 28 of this year now seem almost prophetic:

I am terrified that when all the ashes from the uprisings that are consuming us settle down we become blinded by the celebratory mood and find ourselves having exchanged one agenda for another whose nature would be like an octopus: soft but with many slippery tentacles."

I'm not angry or bitter but simply realistic and accept the truths, I hope that in Libya we do not fall into this trap as I have nothing against Islamists on the contrary a lot of their ideas sound very valid and strike a vein but I do not want them with the blessings of America, it just means they are the new puppets. Libyans are not dumb but I hope that for the sake of peace they do not let themselves be played with like pieces on a chess board.

And finally as I said, the west  could not beat them and so decided  to embrace them and the choices of its regional allies and influence the democratic process.... sigh