Showing posts from June, 2012

Military Dictatorship in Egypt - now fully in place

What is determining Egypt's future is not happening at the polls.
- Sherine Tadros, Al-Jazeera
[SCAF’s] new constitutional declaration completed Egypt’s official transformation into a military dictatorship. - Hossam Bahgat, Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
Egyptians were depressed leading up to this weekend’s presidential elections – from business men to college students to waiters and taxi drivers, people I’ve met all week keep using this word: “depressed.”It reflects the horrible political situation, and it reflects the dismal, “depressed” economic situation.And for all of them, personally, it reflects their moods.And so, there was zero enthusiasm for either of the two choices Egyptians were facing at the polls on Saturday and Sunday: the Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammad Mursi and the regime’s candidate Ahmad Shafiq.
There is nothing to boost Egyptians' spirits now that the results are coming in.No matter who is declared the “winner”, the military will remain in nea…

Election Day(s) in Egypt - a new President?

Egypt's political system continues to shock and surprise us. 

A few days ago, the supreme constitutional court ruled that the Parliament was not elected according to the constitution, and therefore it was invalid and should be disbanded.  The court also ruled that the constitutional assembly, which was supposed to write the new constitution, also was invalid as it was chosen by the Parliament.

Of course, if that were the case, then the presidential elections going on today and tomorrow also should be declared invalid, right?  These candidates came out of this process, so why should these two candidates be considered legitimate?

Egypt's military (SCAF - the supreme council of the armed forces) holds all power - "SCAF" is the president and it has assumed (as of yesterday) all legislative powers and control over the budget.  It will appoint the 100-member constituent assembly, to write the new Constitution.  The only check on the executive and legislative powers is the…

His Royal Highness Prince Hassan bin Talal

What a day it's been.  Our meeting with Prince Hassan lasted nearly 3 hours.  We expected 2 hours at most, yet the questions and discussion with HRH, the Prince, was so rich, that he extended his time with us another hour.  I can't really give an account of the talk (at this time); it was so wide and deep a discussion (plus I'm 'spent' from all the work, excitement, and efforts everyone put into it to make it a success). 

for the moment, I'll simply post our group shot with HRH, after the talk.  And will put up other pics in the days ahead.

Huskies got Talent! (Final Arabic presentations)

Today, Sunday, was the day for Arabic students to make final presentations, in Arabic.  Some danced Dabkeh (Sam, Eric), sang (below), made a cookbook and read it out (below), wrote a children's book (below), drew and wrote a poem (Ian, below), or made videos (to be posted soon). 

Tonight is our farewell dinner, hosted by SIT. 

AND TOMORROW, we have an audience and Dialogue with His Royal Highness Prince Hassan, brother of the late King Hussein.  So, WATCH THIS SPACE tomorrow night, so I can report back and show some pics (insha'Allah).

June 5-8 Southern excursion, discovery, reflection

June 4-5:  After visiting Dana Village (see below), we made camp in Rumana Camp for the night.  Here are a couple pics from my 6:30 am hike around the “words-can’t-describe” canyons and valleys and mountains of Dana nature preserve.
After this, we headed to Petra.  Students were escorted to the opening of Petra at 2 pm, where they were guided into the area and given the time and freedom to roam, hike, climb, and otherwise just enjoy the stunning beauty of this Nabatean wonder of the world.  The Nabateans, nomads from Arabia, arose as a culture and an economic power some 2,400 years ago.  They carved their way across Arabia, and what is now Jordan, Israel, Palestine, and into the Sinai.  The most famous of their architectural wonders is Petra.  In 106 A.D./C.E., the Roman Emperor Trajan effectively annexed the Nabatean Kingdom into the Roman Empire. 
June 6:  After Petra, we left the next afternoon to visit a school for the deaf community and other ‘at risk’ children, women, and men.…

Karak Castle & Dana Village

Nothing beats experience.No amount of classroom time in Boston can match putting students into a place where they can see, hear, touch, smell, taste, or otherwise acquire first-hand knowledge in the field itself. In this picture, students were visiting Karak Castle, originally built as a Crusader castle in 1132 AD/C.E.
The castle fell to Saladin’s army in 1188, after which time it took on major changes, the basic form of which we still can explore in the 21st century.Today, we see the differences between the rough and dark Crusader masonry and the lighter, softer limestone used by the Muslims, as well as some Ottoman additions from the late 19th Century.
Here, our students climb up to a lookout position in the upper court.I believe none of these students had ever explored a Crusader or a Muslim castle until this visit.They learned from us a bit about the history of the Crusades and the Muslim responses to that Christian Holy War originating in Europe. --------------------------------…

Jerash and Ajloun

Today, we visited Ajloun and Jerash.  The latter is known as the 'Pompeii of the East'. Here is how our SIT hosts presented the information about both:

Jerash is one of the best preserved and most complete Roman cities in the world. It was a member of the Decapolis group of cities, one of the ten biggest Roman cities. With a rich history going back several thousand years, the site is very expansive and lies in a green and fertile valley nestling in the hills of Gilead.Visitors wander among colonnaded streets, temples, theaters, plazas and baths that lie within the ancient walls. The site is breathtaking and archaeologists are still revealing more all the time.
Ajloun Castle:  20 minutes drive west of Jerash.  Sitting atop a high peak is the 12th century Arab fortress of Ajloun. Visible from all directions, the castle was originally built in 1184 by a nephew of the great Arab leader Salahaddin (Saladin).  It was used as a base in his successful campaign to drive the Crusaders fro…