Saturday, December 24, 2005


taxi: what language are you speaking?
global soul: Arabic
taxi: where are you from?
global soul: Bahrain, you?
taxi: Oromia
global soul: Oromio? Where is it located?
taxi: Northeast Africa.
global soul: hmmm, interesting.
taxi: you've never heard of Oromia?
global soul: nope! is it an indepdent country?
taxi: yes yes…
global soul: what’s the capital city?
taxi: Finfinnee
global soul: and what language do you speak?
taxi: Oromiffa
global soul: okay! I’ll search for it tonight..
Taxi: yeah… go to Oromia Online…
global soul: okay, thank you
Taxi: thank you bye

--- exiting the cab ---

friend: this guy is making his country up… I’ve never heard of Oromia…
global soul: oromia is probably the “Kurdistan of Africa”…

--- back home, checked oromia online, and the following info appeared:

People: Oromo
Country: Oromia
Area: 600,000 approx.
Capital: Finfinnee (also called Addis Ababa)
Population: 30 million (1995 estimate)
Language: Oromo, also called Afan Oromo or Oromiffa
Economy: Mainly agriculture (coffee, several crops, spices, vegetables) and Animal Husbandry; Mining industry; Tourism trade; Medium and small-scale industries (textiles, refineries, meat packaging, etc)
Religion: Waaqqefata (the traditional belief in Waaqa or God), Islam, and Christian (Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant)

“The Oromo make up a significant portion of the population occupying the Horn of Africa. In the Ethiopian Empire alone, Oromo constitute about 30 million of the 55 million inhabitants of the Ethiopian Empire. In fact, Oromo is one of the most numerous nations in Africa which enjoys a homogeneous culture and shares a common language, history and descent and once shared common political, religious and legal institutions. During their long history, the Oromo developed their own cultural, social and political system known as the Gadaa system. It is a uniquely democratic political and social institution that governed the life of every individual in the society from birth to death.”

Read further and you’ll learn about the Ethiopian aggression against the Oromo people and their struggle for independence

Serious violations of human rights are occuring in Oromia and barely anyone knows about it.... same thing happened in Rawanda...and is happening in many other places around the world but no one intervenes until it's probably too late at which time it also becomes worthy of media coverage.

La Vie!

Monday, November 07, 2005

A beautiful thought

“dai diamanti non nasce niente… dal letame nascono i fior”
– Fabrizio DeAndre’ (Via Del Campo)

It translates into something like:

“from diamonds nothing is born… from manure flowers are born”

Friday, November 04, 2005

A Modest Proposal to the Leaders of the Arab World

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Your Royal Highnesses: Kings, Sultans, Sheiks, Generals, and Presidents of the Arab World

My God’s Peace and Blessings be Upon You,

The state of affairs in our great Arab land from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Gulf has been going through an unprecedented decline that I felt strongly obliged as a loyal citizen to direct my solace and advice to those who deserve it most, your majesties- the great leaders of our Arab world. You are, perhaps, in no need for my modest proposal… you being the most cognizant, the most prudent, and the most concerned about the state of affairs in our great nation. I am certain, however, that sharing my opinion and offering my advice poses no harm and could serve as a useful reminder.

In an era sustained by the power of science and technology, I find it appropriate your majesties to begin this proposal by commenting on the state of those two disciplines. I often ask myself, your majesties, how many scientists and inventors do we have? How many patents of the world’s inventions do we own? How much money do we invest in science and technology every year? After some thorough research, I came to the conclusion that we do lag behind the entire world. On a positive note, however, I assure you that you should not be in the least distress upon the lack of scientific and technological innovations. What difference does it make if an Arab or an American or an Indian or a Chinese invents the latest technology? Sooner or later we will all have access to it. Back in the days, it made a difference. The flow of information was so slow that being the inventor placed one ahead of the game and we were indeed ahead of the game when times necessitated. Today, however, thanks to globalization, all we need is our money and in no time we can possess anything we want. Instead of reinventing the wheel we can use our purchasing power to support the hardworking men and women around the world. We are on the right track your majesties and have admirably contributed to the efficiency of the world trading system. Moreover, we have already had our share of contribution in history and so it’s about time for others to pitch in.

Without further ado, your majesties, I offer you my condolences for all your dead subjects in Sudan, Iraq, and Palestine. I’m sure the past few years have been very difficult for you. Despite the political turmoil, however, our resilient economy has faired pretty well. Growth was respectable, oil prices have been firm, interest rates low, inflation low, stock markets up, real estate markets strong *. I believe this tendency for our nation to prosper while our people perish is a beautiful demonstration of the solidarity within the Arab World and the extent to which our people… your people are willing to sacrifice their lives in order for the nation to be.

Your majesties, I know I am in no position to interfere in personal family matters, but stemming from a personal sense of duty, I feel obliged to encourage you to expand your progeny. We have a great religion that allows the just and equitable man to marry one, two, three, and four wives in times of ultimate necessity. Who is endowed with more justice than your majesties and what could be more necessary than safeguarding our nation from anarchy and turmoil? A strong and fortified nation needs people of candor and caliber to carry on your legacy and no one could or would accomplish that more faithfully than your own children, your own flesh and blood.

Moving on your majesties, I have to address the state of the military. There is indeed an important consideration rightly to be borne in mind when inquiring into the characteristics of the military and that is whether to have citizens, auxiliaries, or mercenaries as a defense force. It has been the tradition to hire citizens on the assumption that they are the most loyal to their country. But that is a common fallacy which has led many leaders into the sad ending of a coup d’etat. We only need to recall the military coups in Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, and Tunisia in order to realize that they were all perpetrated by citizens of those countries. Having said this, it is only logical to conclude that employing mercenaries is the best option. As for auxiliaries, needless to say, what is more rewarding than having the most powerful army and armada by our side, protecting us and lending us its support in a time of war and hardship?

But since prevention is better than cure, your majesties, having a strong military should remain a secondary objective. It is certainly better to avoid conspiracies and hatred than exert any amount of effort to suppress them. There are simple yet effective techniques to acquire the love and affection of the populace. One very effective method often used by leaders around the world is called pseudo-austerity. All you have to do is display some degree of resemblance to your subjects. Meaning, you don’t have to appear in a military suit or hang a huge dagger on the belt of your robe. Just keep it simple. Ghandi was simple, Ho Chi Minh was simple, Madiba was simple, and they were all loved by their people, just because of that.

With regards to freedom of expression, your majesties, it is undoubtedly a fundamental freedom but just like everything else in this world, freedom is not without limits. It should be subject to reasonable limits set by people like your majesties. Those who incite hatred against you for no justifiable reason and defame your esteemed selves and spread lies that are a far cry from reality belong, ideally, to one place: the prison. Your benevolence and grace, however, is far greater than their transgressions. As such, forgiving political dissidents and other perpetrators will make you the national heroes you are. Locally, you’ll be deservingly acknowledged as the benevolent leaders, the forgivers, the second-chance givers. Internationally, you’ll be acknowledged as the reformers, the freedom supporters, and the human rights promoters. It's a win-win situation, your majesties.

Before I end this proposal, there is one more important issue to be addressed and that is Democracy. I heave a sigh, your majesties, as I write to you that democracy is an illusion. It’s a virtue with no basis in our Arab world. Democracy in our great nation will result in a state of tyranny from the majority and the majority in our Arab nation are poor, illiterate, gullible people who do not know what is best for themselves so how could they ever know what’s best for the nation? Furthermore, all the great American thinkers and scholars have declared democracy to be a disaster in the US and that George W. Bush was not the elected leader so why do we load ourselves with more than we can bear when the most powerful nation in the world has failed to carry that burden? At least your majesties are bona fide monarchs and elected presidents for life in bona fide monarchies and republics. To each plant its own soil, your majesties, and the soil in our Arab land is not yet ripe for democracy.

Finally, I profess, your majesties, in the sincerity of my heart, that I have not the least personal interest in endeavoring to offer you my free expertise and counsel. My only motive is that of any loyal citizen- to serve my great and noble leaders in every possible way.

Sincerely Yours,
A loyal citizen

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Video Test

Friday, April 29, 2005

My Flickr

I populated my flickr account with some old and new photos, many of them have already been posted in my blog. I will continue to add more pictures regularly so keep checking. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


What’s great about having a blog (even a frequently dormant one like mine) is receiving e-mails from all sorts of interesting people. I have recently been corresponding with a Canadian Unitarian minister who is interested in Islam and other world religions. I asked him about Unitarianism and he was more than generous in his response:

Today the Unitarian church is the most liberal of the protestant groups. Some Christians and even many Unitarians do not consider us Christian. We are very humanistic in our outlook.

Unitarianism has its historical roots in Eastern Europe, England and the United States. In Eastern Europe it has survived in the Transylvania area. In England it developed out of the non-conformist church. In the United States it was the religious dimension of the "New England Enlightenment" of the early part of the 19th Century. It is Unitarian in that they denied the notion of the trinity. We jokingly say that "Unitarians believe in one God, at most!" This narrow theological doctrine has never been the extent of our religious view. We tend to have a more positive view of human nature than mainstream Christians do. The other branch of our denomination, the Universalists originally defined by the theological idea that all men and women would be saved. They had a very positive view of a benevolent God as opposed to the "fire and brimstone" theology of evangelical Christians. A funny expression among us is that "The Unitarians believed that Man was too good to be damned while Universalist thought that God was too good to damn Man." Both were Anti-Calvinist movements. Both have deep roots in the American ethos. They have been called "Americas Fourth Faith" along with Catholics, Protestants, and Jews. A case could be made for the Fourth Faith to include besides Unitarian and Universalists, Liberal Quakers, Reformed Jews, Ethical Culturalists and Religious Humanists. [The US (and Canada) has changed due to immigration such that Muslims, Hindus and Buddhist are significant in number to our religious tapestry. The idea of America having three or four faiths is outdated.]

Socially Unitarians are usually very well educated, socially and politically involved in their community. They seem to believe that Faith has more to do with how you behave rather than what you say you believe. "It is best to be known by deeds rather than creeds". Historically we have been in the forefront of education for women, concern for convicts, mental health, social work, anti-slavery, civil rights and opposition to war.

Part II:

Throughout Christian history there has been a minor theme of Unitarian Christianity. In fact, early in its history Unitarian theology might have been a majority view. At the Council of Nicea Trinitarian Christianity was made the orthodoxy. Since then Unitarianism has been a heretical view. It has had other names. Other than Unitarian. Today there are Christian theologians who do not hold to Trintitarianism in mainstream Christianity. There certainly is room for dialogue.... Channing was one of the early shapers of Unitarianism in America. The other two were Theodore Parker and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Parker was most famous for his anti-slavery efforts and Emerson was a literary figure. Emerson had notions in his writing influenced by Hindu thought. He wrote about the notion of the "oversoul". All three of these men were Unitarian clergymen.

Internationally, Unitarians belong to the International Association for Religious Freedom. This is an interfaith group. It even includes one small Muslim group if i remember correctly. There are also Buddhists, Hindus and Shinto and other groups. We are excluded from the Christian Council of Churches for we refuse to swear to a creed. Usually these groups require one "Believes in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour". Our faith has no creedal test of membership. Lots of Christians do not hold strictly to this test but swear to it for the sake of Christian Unity. In fact, I have recently read some Christian material that is indistinguishable from current Unitarian views. We are no longer such a heretical group.

Unitarians have long bee interested in World Religions. I spent one year taking a course at Harvard's Centre for the Study of World Religion. In the 19th Century and into the early 20th Century Harvard was the intellectual centre for Unitarianism. Harvard Divinity School has trained many of our ministers. I attended Tufts University, a Universalist University. I also took courses at Harvard, Boston University School of Theology and Andover Newton Theological School. Those were my days as a wandering student in Boston…

and a follow up:

I just googled "Antitrinitarianism" there is lots of information available on the history of this unitarian view of the Christian doctrine of God. The major history of Christianity has been written by Trinitarian Christianity but the unitarian view goes back to the beginning and has a persistent influence through the ages. There are many names for unitarian views: Armininism, arianism, socinianism, Polish Brethren, antitrinitariansm, protoantitrinitarianism etc. Seventh-Day Adventist today hold a unitarian view of God.

Unitarians, Universalist and other liberal Christians are comfortable with a unitarian view of God. Of course, in the modern day in Christianity there are few theological debates except among academics.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


Maqamworld is a really cool website. Although primarily an educational website for musicians learning or interested in classical Arabic/Middle Eastern music, each maqam page also includes recording samples of pieces composed in that maqam which is great for people like me who lack the musical talent but not the interest. Here are some of my favorite pieces: AlNikriz, AlHijaz (Foug Il Nakhal), AlBayati, Nahawand. While surfing I also came across interesting pieces of “uyghur muqams” which I thought are a fascinating mix of classical Middle Eastern and Chinese music. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Les Arabes à Londres!

“I went to London for two weeks to take a break from my tribal affiliations… but, I found the tribe waiting for me at Heathrow Airport.”

That’s how Nizar Qabbani begins his article in which he describes the pathetic state of Arab tourists in London. He then continues to lament the London he once knew before the Arabs have invaded:

Where is London that I knew in the fifties? London that offered me the best of my poetry and the best days of my life? Where is the beautiful gray color, and the beautiful civilized silence, and the Victorian tea halls, and the mythical English countryside? Where is Covent Garden, and the Royal Albert Hall, and the Royal Festival Hall, and the Old Vic Theatre? Rest in Peace! We’ve eaten them all! Queen Victoria, and King George V, and King Edward VII sold their palaces and their royal carriages to Arab financiers, and Shakespeare sold the scripts of Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, and A Midsummer Night's Dream for 50 pounds… bought with it a pair of jeans and a pair of shoes and traveled on the back of a vehicle after conceding that the new owners of the British Isle do not honor music, theatre, and drama.

He who does not want to travel should go to London in the summer. He who wants to master all the accents of Quraish* should stroll through Oxford Street, and the Piccadilly Circus, and Leicester Square, and Soho, and Knightsbridge, and Cromwell Road… and he who wants to remain seated in Al-Fishawi café in Sayyidna Al-Hussein*, the cafes in London are its second edition.

Arabism, on my eyes and my head*. It is my mother, my sister, my love, and all the family tree but is it necessary to carry the family tree on my back and roam with it across the globe? Is it a requirement for loving one’s country to have all the thighs and bellies of Quraish sitting on my lap?

* Quraish: A renowned Meccan tribe in
* Sayyidna Al-Hussein: A neighborhood in Cairo.
* Arabic expression

I hear family, friends, and other people who spend their summers in London grumbling about the same thing (i.e. the whole Arabization of London in the Summer… every Summer) which sounds a bit odd because the very people who complain are often the ones who contribute to this whole phenomenon as well. But, be it a good thing or a bad thing or just a thing…why do Arabs get the blame? There are little Italies, little Chinas, and little Indias all across the world so why should Arabs be deprived from having their own little communities let alone enjoying their summers in London and pumping loads of money into the economy while doing so. Why does the presence of Arabs seem to be so bothersome to many people including Arabs themselves?! What is it that we’re not doing right? Could Nizar Qabbani’s final remarks serve as an answer?

…it is the first time in my life to witness a model of Arab imperialism. I feel appalled and disgusted and I ask myself: is this how we’ll rule the world if it was destined for us to rule it? Of course, I haven’t seen armies proceeding and flags waving, nor have I seen armors, knights, and dead people. All the dead people I have seen were the deads of gambling, sex, and porn film piled up over each other on the sidewalks of Park Lane under the feet of Anglo-Saxon prostitutes.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Sticks and Stones

Bill O’Reilly, the host of The O'Reilly Factor on Fox network is one freaky man. If freedom of speech has any downside then it is people like him. I am taking an entire course this semester on media and the agenda-setting role it plays and have since then been more skeptical of what I read, watch, and listen to. It is beyond shocking how brainwashed, mislead, and intellectually disenfranchised people become in a world dominated by media conglomerates with vested interest in a misinformed complacent citizenry. The Fifth Estate’s documentary Sticks and Stones reveals one side of this often unscrupulous media and it does so in the context of discussing the schism between the conservative right and the liberal left in the US. It’s a 45 minutes documentary, worth watching if you have the slightest interest in the issue. It is also an interesting insight into the Canadian perspective of US media and politics. The Canadian media can also be very biased in its own right. This documentary, for example, certainly tries to vilify one side in favour of the other. I’m sure conservatives in the US can have a better representation than those sick people interviewed in the documentary or do they? Anyway, I was taken aback by a couple of segments in the doc particularly Bill O’reilly’s interview with Jeremy Glick whose father was killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Bob McKeown’s exchange with Ann Coulter was also quite interesting. "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity" she says. When McKeown asked her whether her comment was a joke she said "no, it is not.. and I think Canada might have noticed this... point one and point two are already official US policy."

To watch the documentary click here.