Reader Christina notified me of a "nationality campaign" blog that was launched here in Washington DC last week. The blog, found here, features six organizations in the Middle East and North Africa that are working towards changing legislation so that women are granted equal citizenship rights. According to Christina, the aim of the blog is to create a network of concerned citizens that want to work together for change and to produce a constant resource for women and human rights activists dedicated to this issue.
I think this is a wonderful idea. Raising awareness about the rights of women to grant citizenship to their children is highly needed. Stripping me of the right to pass my kids Jordanian nationality means that every single time my future children (who have a non-Jordanian father) decide to visit Jordan they will need a tourist visa! If they ever decide to live in Jordan then they will need to get a residency permit, which would not be granted to them automatically. It is a long and hectic process! However, children of Jordanian men married to foreign women are granted nationality automatically. Sexism at its best!
I had the opportunity to meet Moroccan author Laila Lalami face-to-face the other day in Washington, and I must say that she is extremely admirable and more impressive in the flesh than in cyberspace. She was in Washington, DC this past Thursday to read some excerpts from her debut novel, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits (signed copies link), which I read several months back and liked very much. I enjoyed her reading immensely as I did the discussions that followed. Lalami eloquently managed to answer every question directed at her, the majority of which came from euroarabe.
One question someone asked was who she has in mind as her audience when she writes. Her reply was simply: "I write for myself. I am my ideal audience." I thought the answer was brilliant because as an aspiring fiction writer myself I tend to fall into the trap of thinking a great deal about my audience, something that can sometimes make me feel mentally impotent. I end up failing to jot down anything for fear of retribution from a certain individual or a group. I think I will try her method and think solely of myself when I write.
It was also fascinating for me to see the large amount of her blog readers who showed up at the event. She got a great deal of praise for her blog from the audience with one describing her site as "the best literary blog out there." Following the reading, I had a quick but pleasant chat with Laila in which we exchanged compliments and pleasantries and took a couple of pictures. The husband and I wrapped up the evening with a nice dinner in DuPont Circle with some wonderful friends, including Basboos, Leilouta and her husband, euroarabe, and another non-blogger friend of ours. All in all it was a perfect day in the city.
Leilouta has already discussed the embarrassing incident of several days ago, exposing my footwear dilemma (and Hal’s shoe supply service), so I’m not going to dwell on it here, as I’ve yet to recover. Instead, I will focus this post on the wonderful time we had during our Metro area female Arab blogger meet-up here in the nation’s capital this past weekend.
Those who attended the meeting were Beisan, Hala, Leilouta and yours truly. We had a truly wonderful time, hitting it off as if we’d known each other for years. We talked mostly about blogs (of course), Arab politics (what else!) and life in the US. Joking about our different accents also dominated the discussions [can we really avoid that?].
Sometimes it really blows my mind when I think about the number of truly amazing people I’ve been fortunate enough to meet through this remarkable outlet called blogging. Life never ceases to amaze me.
While visiting friends and family here in Amman, the subject of my blog came up on quite a number of occasions. I was quiet surprised — and humbled — that a significant number of my friends and relatives follow my on-line scribbles religiously. In the past few days, I’ve received a lot of feedback filled with encouragement, criticism and some suggestions. One common comment I heard from a number of people was the following: "Natasha, enough of those political posts. We want to read more personal pieces!"
As someone who follows the news for a living, it might prove hard for me to separate my personal self from my political self. However, I’m willing to compromise. Here is an open question to anyone that takes the time to read my blog every once in a while: What’s your preference? A) Personal B) Political or C) A mix of both? I would love to hear from you. Feel free to send me an e-mail or leave me a comment.
The other day, I had a chance to meet face-to-face with the infamous, the one and only Egyptian blogger Sandmoneky. We met in downtown DC, where we talked mostly about the political mayhem that engulfs our volatile region. Blogging in the Arab world was also another topic of intensive discussion. As expected, Sandmonkey is smart, very funny, extremely friendly and tremendously well-informed. This is a proof, ladies and gentlemen, that blogs do provide a realistic picture of their authors.
As a huge fan of the Sandmonkey blog, meeting the man was certainly a real treat! Last month, Roba wrote a compelling post about the blogging culture and how, in addition to expressing themselves online, bloggers are actually forming their own communities off-line. I must agree. I will end this post with a great quote by "power blogger" Ethan Zuckerman:
Become a blogger and you’ll never have to have coffee alone again.