Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Half Of The World Is Revolting, Million Poet Finale

David Ignatius
Ben-Dror Yemini

Wow, so much going on in the world today, it seems as if half of the world is in protest... It may be quiet in Iran, and the tea partyers are gearing up for April 15th, but the situation is getting worse in Thailand. Beginning as a peaceful protest, Red Shirt demonstrators stormed Paliament and government buildings., forcing ministers to flee by helicopter. Yes, they have an overly sense of the dramatic... The: "announcement came after nearly a month of street demonstrations by the red-shirted protesters, who have paralyzed the city’s commercial district and paraded through the city in defiance of government restrictions. They are demanding that Mr. Abhisit dissolve Parliament and call new elections.

The declaration of a state of emergency gives the military the power to suspend certain civil liberties and ban public gatherings of more than five people. It creates a Crisis Solution Center under joint civilian and military control." Will there be new elections? Will Thai iced tea be served among the protesters? We'll know by the end of the week.

More rare, was a reform protest in Cairo, Egypt: "Down, down, Hosni Mubarak," a group of more than 200 chanted as they tried to gather in central Cairo's Tahrir Square. Police hauled away a group of about a dozen protesters, shouting "freedom, freedom" near parliament, minutes later.

Hundreds of riot police were also stationed across the capital, encircling small groups of protesters as they gathered to converge on the centre. Police beat some with sticks and dragged dozens away, witnesses said. They also chased off reporters and seized cameras being used by media trying to cover the protest. Such demonstrations are rare in Egypt, an important U.S. ally in the region, and are usually swiftly quashed by security forces." The protest was timed to coincide with an international antiquities meeting being held, and they were hoping for maximum exposure. At the same time, in the north of Egypt: "Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog, has issued a public call for political change in Egypt ahead of presidential elections planned for next year."

Of course, the protests could have been sparked by the surge in energy and intellectual activity due to the current shortage of hashish. Or, because of the hashish, the protesters were all released later today...
"I got dizzy looking for it. Everyone now says there's nothing,"

The threat of violence had the UN observers pull out of Darfur and go home, now the election is up for sale, even though the oposition has pulled out of some of the polls. They think it is easier to pull off a military coup than win an honest election...

In the most dramatic development, what began as a massive protest grew until it actually overthrew the government in Kyrgystan, with the incredibly corrupt president leaving by plane to save his butt...: "Tensions had been growing in Kyrgyzstan over what human rights groups contended were the increasingly repressive policies of President Bakiyev, but it appeared that the immediate catalyst for the violence was anger over a reported quadrupling in the prices for utilities.

Mr. Bakiyev made no public comment on Wednesday, and an official at the airport in Bishkek said in a telephone interview that Mr. Bakiyev took off from the airport in the early evening. The airport official said Mr. Bakiyev was flying to Osh, a major city in the southern part of the country, but that could not be confirmed."

The US operates Manas Air Force Base there, and uses it to send fuel and supplies to troops in Afghanistan. Supposedly, the president was a friend of ours, but he is seen as a cruel leader, treating everyone like indentured serfs. Journalists and human rights activists who criticized him were routinely lured outside of the country, then assassinated.

It's not clear what will happen during the next few days. The opposition, which has taken over the television stations, are demanding that the government resign. Russia may intervene and reinstate the ousted president, though they appear to have their attention diverted elsewhere right now. Will truth and justice prevail? Will Ahmadinejad say nasty things to bait the American president? Will China allow the free flow of information over the Internet? Most important of all, who will win the Million Poet competition tonight...

In Britain and America we have television shows like American Idol, where contestants sing for their supper and a chance at fame, be it so fleeting. There are lots of other, more weird and creepy shows that try to mine the fringes of reality and talent, shows that distort regional cultures and the roles women play in them, scripted so that we can mock and make fun of them.

Very few shows these days try to promote art and creativity. The lone exception this season comes from the country of Abu Dhabi, where they have been showing a poetry competition on Wednesday evenings.. Tonight is the final, with the winner receiving $1.3 million. The contest is in the Nabati style, which is the free verse of the Arabic Peninsula, and an estimated 18 million people are expected to tune in. Sheikh Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai and also a Nabati poet, explains the style: "Nabati poetry is also known as "the people's poetry" and "Bedouin poetry". It is considered the richest form of popular literature, and seen to reflect the reality of everyday life.

Nabati poetry is a great literary treasure, and a phenomenon unique to the Arabian Peninsula. Its form and content, literary significance, social function and historical value also make it a unique style of poetry. It is the document on which one can catch a glimpse of the past, or even get a more precise idea of historical customs. It depicts the situations faced by the countries of the Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula before their modern-day renaissance."

One of the finalists Hissa Hillal, created controversy by reciting her poem about some of the Saudi fatwas that had been issued which were demeaning and cruel:

I have seen evil in the eyes of fatwas,
at a time when the permitted
is being twisted into the forbidden.
The clerics are vicious in voice,
barbaric, angry and blind,
wearing death as a robe cinched with a belt.

Hissa is one of tonight's finalists, and is considered a longshot because of her controversy. But I am rooting for her, GO HISSA!

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