Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The In T View: Nadz: Proud and Free

Never Preachy, Frequently Optimistic, a Strong Advocate for Woman's Rights, Arab American
Blogger Nadz, reporting from a Secret Location
in the Big 50, provides a Frank and Honest Look
at the Mideast and World Events via her Blog: Nadz Online.

And in The In T View: Nadz: Proud and Free,
she discusses everything from Moderate Muslims
to Islam to Hugging Trees to Palestine to
the Kingdom of Saud to Irshad Manji to Riverdance...and much more.

It's The In T View: Nadz: Proud and Free

Interview: Mister Ghost. Artwork: Diane Carriere & Mister Ghost

MG: Hello Nadz, How are you?

Nadz: Hi there, Mr Ghost. I'm doing great.

MG: What does Love mean to you?

Nadz: Hmm, good question. Love means respect and faith in a person. Sticking together through thick and thin, when things get rough and the early idealism is gone. Having confidence in a person's goodness. Lots of cliches.

MG: What do you think of the Views of Irshad Manji?

Nadz: Part of me thinks that she might be a bit naive, but another part of me thinks that Islam needs people like her to reform it. I don't know if Islam can be reformed to accept gay feminists like her, and I don't know why she hasn't just given up on faith. However, she clearly thinks that there's something there worth saving, so kudos to her for being brave enough to call for change.

MG: Moderate and Secular Muslims are out there, but seem silent
or silenced compared to the Radical and Fundamentalist Islamicists.
How do you get the Moderate and Secular members of Islam to Speak
Out and make their Views and Presence Known, to avoid disasters
like the Muslims Against Terror Rally that drew a disgraceful
36 - 200 participants?

Nadz: 36-200? Wow, that is bad. What a shame. Well, I think blogs and the internet are a good start. It allows us to talk to each other and others with more anonymity. I think there are quite a few of us out there, but we're too intimidated to speak out en masse. I wish I had a solution.

MG: Have you ever hugged a tree?

Nadz: Hahaha! I've climbed many, but as you can probably guess from my anti-hippy comments, I'm not big on bonding with plants.

MG: You've probably already been told this, but your Nickname/Blogname is slang for a certain part of a man's anatomy. Are you good to go with this and see
it as a Badge of Honor, saying in essence, I've Got Balls! LOL?

Nadz: Lol! I guess I tend to kick men in the balls with my angry ranting, so I've kinda earned my name.

MG: What is your Favorite Part of a Man's -- or to cover all the bases -- Woman's Body?

Nadz: I like men's arms. A nice back is also a plus. I'm not into women in that way, but everything about Angelina Jolie is smokin' hot - except for the homewrecking part, of course.

MG: Do Camels smell?

Nadz: They reek! Especially when they leave camel droppings outside of your house.

MG: You have an American Mom and a Palestinian Father and have spent considerable time in Middle East, even in the Tragic Kindom of Saud. How has this affected your worldview? Do you think of yourself as being more worldly than your peers?

Nadz: Being from a multicultural background has helped me see both sides to many debates, and made me see the pluses and minuses of different cultures. I guess I try to be open-minded, see both sides, and watch out for extremists!

MG: What do you consider yourself to be? Are you an American, a Palestinian,
a Moslem, or just a human being?

Nadz: Arab-American. I'm both an American and a Palestinian, as far as I'm concerned. I'm not a huge fan of labels, though.

MG: Ever been involved in a Snowball Fight?

Nadz: Yes! When I was younger. There wasn't much snow on the ground, so the fight didn't last very long.

MG: Do you have any Pets?

Nadz: I have a dog and a hamster. I'm a slave to them both.

MG: What do you think your Totem Animal is?

Nadz: Totem animal? I guess a porquepine (did I spell that right?) - small and short-tempered. But also cute and relatively harmless.

MG: Is there Life on other Planets?

Nadz: I hope so. I think with the vastness of the universe, it would be pretty arrogant to think that we're the only life form. We may never run into them, but that would be something if we did. You never know - Michael Jackson may call the mothership if he gets convicted.

MG: You're an Atheist and don't believe in God or Allah.
You know this could get you killed in 4 out of every 5 Islamic Nations?

Nadz: Yes! I'm familiar with the apostacy laws, and don't think much of them. I don't consider myself an apostate, though, because I've always been an atheist. When I was six years old and was told about God, I thought it didn't make sense - why should I believe in invisible men unless I have evidence for them?

MG: Nadz, recently there were riots and deaths in the Moslem World,
because of what seems to be a false rumor that a U.S. Soldier flushed
a Qumran down the toilet in Guatanamo -- Never mind, how the hell
do you actually flush a thick book down a toilet -- But should anyone die
because of a book?

Nadz: No, absolutely not. People are way too touchy about their Holy books - if you have such faith in your infallible religion, surely it can handle a little desecration? I understand how people were offended by it, but it's no reason to kill people. I think the riots in Afghanistan are about more than the Koran incident - it's a chance for the clergy and the radicals to show that they're still a force to be reckoned with.

MG: Nadz, how different would Islam be, if the Prophet was a Woman?

Nadz: Wouldn't that have been something? There were some female prophets around at the time, apparently. If the Prophet was a woman, I'd suspect she'd preach a more egalitarian system, emphasize the "sacred feminine" concept, place more value on children, sex as a positive force, and economic justice.

However, Islam probably would have not taken off the way it has with a woman as its founder - I don't think men would have listened, sadly. Some might have followed her, but sexism has been around long before monotheism made it worse.

MG: Is Islam a Misogynistic Religion or is it the Interpretation of Islam
by those shepherding and preaching the faith that leads to Honor
Killings, Subjugation, Veilings, Restrictions of Freedom,
and Genital Mutilation among women?

Nadz: Like all religions, Islam is a patriarchal system that preaches male superiority over women. There are some verses in the Quran that are blatantly sexist. However, the problems in the mideast are not all due to Islam, but the way it mixes with cultural traditions and mysogynistic thinking. For example, FGM and honor killings aren't sanctioned in the Quran, but the ideas in the culture and religion about female "honor" allow it to happen.

There is an agrument, however, that interpretation has a lot to do with it. There is mysogyny in the Bible and the Torah as well, but most people choose not to listen to the sexist verses. Muslims need to learn to do the same - to take the good and leave the bad. And it's only through the efforts of women, I think, that will bring this about. But the fact that all religions are rooted in patriarchy is a problem. The more fundamentalist the religion, the worse it is for women. Oh, and the clergy are jerks.

MG: What is your favorite place in the Mideast and why?

Nadz: Petra, in Jordan. It's a beautiful, ancient place. A Nabatean city carved out of rock into the mountains - I'd recommend that everyone see it, and I may even post some pictures of the place on my blog now.

The entrance of the city also features two carvings of Amazon women - it reminds me that women in this part of the world were not always oppressed, and that we don't always have to be.

The coasts of Lebanon are also beautiful - Beirut is an amazing city. The Dead Sea, the hills of the West Bank, the mountains...I love 'em all. But I have a special place in my heart for ancient places.

MG: Lebanon: According to DEBKA, Michael Aoun, the former president
of Lebanon, is returning to Lebanon from 14 years exile in France
(the "Lucky" Guy) to run in the upcoming Lebanese Presidential
elections. Do you think Lebanon and the Lebanese will finally be at peace?

Nadz: I hope so - the Lebanese deserve peace, especially after the horrible civil war they went through. It's not going to be all smooth sailing in the near future - there are still sectarian tensions and Hezbollah are still very powerful. But I think the anti-Syria, pro-democracy protesters have shown that Lebanon is moving forward, and there's no going back for the reactionaries. There are too many people who have had enough.

MG: Palestine: Nadz, you say The Intifadah "was a disaster."
And hopefully, anyone with more than half a brain won't disagree
with you. So, what do the Palestinians do now to extricate themselves
from the morass they've buried themselves under?

Nadz: Stop the pattern of justifying the militants' actions, and make it clear to the Israelis that Hamas and Islamic Jihad no longer speak for us. Then, create a massive non-violence movement - the "violence movement" never works, but Ghandi's tactics have never failed. If we find peaceful ways to resist the occupation, we'll give the Israelis reason to think that we're not out to drive them into the sea.

Reform the PA. Create an efficient governmental system. Stop blaming Israel for everything, and learn to fix things ourselves. Instead of complaining when the Israelis take a step backwards, take the initiative and move in the right direction. Continue non-violence tactics, get international attention and demand to get back to the negociating table. Make sure that Arafat doesn't come back to life (shivers).

Above all though, stop shouting for revenge and instead call for reconciliation. We will never turn the clock back to pre-1945, so we have to accept that we can't have everything. We need to accept some hard truths and learn to forgive. There is so much bad feeling now, both sides have to forgive a little for the sake of peace.

MG: You've spent time in Saudi Arabia. What was it like to live
there? How restrictive was it?

Nadz: I didn't think much of the dress code. Well, it's not as bad as its sometimes made out to be - it depends on what area you're in. But generally, when I'm in the Kingdom, i feel restricted, uncomfortable, unable to breathe freely. It's a little suffocating, especially with all of the security now because of the terrorist attacks.
There are some good things about it - nice beaches, a relatively comfortable standard of living, cheap gasoline. But it's not a good place to be a woman - you feel hostility and begin to want to be invisible, just to avoid the scutiny. You don't feel free to speak your mind, express yourself, act as you see fit - it's a theocracy.

MG: And what about the Saudi Educational System? How did it feel to attend
Saudi Schools? Was there a lot of Anti-Semitism and Anti-Americanism
inundating the students?

Nadz: It's not a daily occurance, but it's there. Islam class was the worst in terms of the hostility towards Americans and Jews. I didn't spend all of my time in Saudi schools, though - I was in an American cirriculum for a while, and went to school in other middle eastern countries as well. But the education system is pretty bad - no room for independant thinking at all.

MG: When will the poor Saudi Women be allowed to vote and will they even be able to see the Ballots from under their Burkhas? And how will they know if it's a
woman voting - it could be a man in disguise you know? And will the Saudi Men
even be allowed to touch and count the ballots, after women have handled them -
Won't the ballots have to be disinfected?

Nadz: Hahaha! Don't forget the high rates of rape and prostitution the voting will also cause! One quick note: in Saudi Arabia, women wear Abayas, not Burkas - they're black instead of blue and don't have that mesh thingy over the face.

Seriously, women will get the vote when they demand it - take to the streets and insist on their rights. Suffragettes in the States and Europe had to go on hunger strikes and chain themselves to railway tracks before they were given the right to vote. I hope it won't come to that, but it will take some action to get the vote. Time for a feminist revolution!

MG: What's the Best Movie you've seen in the last six months and why?

Nadz: I see lots of movies - I'm a big movie buff. the top of my head, I'd say Hotel Rwanda was a very powerful, touching movie. I loved the "lord of the rings" movies. I saw "Dr Stangelove" only recently and loved it.

MG: How did you become interested in Blogging, and how did your Blog:
Nadz Online come about?

Nadz: I had starting following mainstream blogs and learning about them through friends. Then, I started to follow a lot of the Iraqi and Middle Eastern blogs, and was encouraged by all of the pro-democracy, moderate bloggers saying things that we couldn't say on the streets. But I noticed that there were very few Arab female bloggers. I guess I wanted to add to the conversation about the mideast in the blogosphere, and make sure that women weren't left out of the dialogue.

MG: Besides your own Blog, what other Blogs do you read and can recommend?

Nadz: I like Instapundit, Buzzmachine, Publius Pundit and sometimes Little Green Footballs. As for the Middle Eastern blogs, I like Healing Iraq, Iraq The Model, Hammorabi, Mental Mayhem, Sandmonkey, Big Pharoah, The Bedouin Cowboy, Amarji The Heretic, Neurotic Iraqi Wife. Mahmoud's Den and Iraqi Blogger's Central, of course. I don't agree with her politics, but Riverbend is a great writer, so I read her blog. I've just discovered Baghdad's Mistress (through your blog, actually), which I find really interesting.

MG: What is your Favorite Food?

Nadz: Anything with cheese on it.

MG: Do you have a Sweet Tooth? Any dessert or junk food you absolutely
go Ga-Ga over?

Nadz: Chocolate chip cookies and tiramasu.

MG: Are you a South Park Republican?

Nadz: I think so. I've read some that book, and it sounds like me - socially, I'm probably liberal, but economically, I'm a little more conservative. I like laughing at both sides, however, and try to stay in the middle.

MG: So, you don't like Riverdance? How is this possible? Are you not wowed by the dancing mastery of one Mr. Michael Flatley?

Nadz: It's scary! It doesn't seem like dancing to me if no hip-shaking is involved - it's just kicking the air with freakishly accurate coordination. And Flately, I suspect, is pure evil.

MG: You talk about the "Hijab Squad" in your blog. Could you tell us who this
mysterious group of individuals are?

Nadz: They are a group of conservative Muslim women who are basically, intentionally or unintentially, cheerleaders for partiarchy. They like to claim that their hijabs are about "empowerment", that shariah is egalitarian, and that women have separate but equal roles. In reality, they end up apologizing for the oppression of their sisters and sanctioning male mistreatment of women. They're so vocal that they tend to drown out other Arab and Muslim women who are not so keen on being mouthpieces for sexism.

They were a bit mysterious until I revealed their leader, the Grand High Cheerleader of Patriarchy, in my blog. I still haven't found their secret volcano lair, however.

MG: Nadz, you don't wear the hijab yourself. Don't you know that the uncovered
hair of a woman produces sex rays that causes men to be filled with
Uncontrollable Lust and to lose all their control around women - even worse
than alcohol?

Nadz: Yep, I'm aware of the magical rays in my hair - it's all part of my sinister plan to control men and take over the world! Seriously, though, isn't that ridiculous? They think that all men are perverts because they're perverts themselves. And I wouldn't plan on using the magical hair ray defense in a rape trial - there's that other disgusting defense of "she asked for it".

MG: What's the Strangest Thing you've seen in your life?

Nadz: A man jogging with a cigarette in his mouth.

MG: Have you ever fallen under the sway of Moammar Ghadaffi?
That's one Stylin' Dictator - He could sweep you off your
feet, Nadz, if you're not careful.

Nadz: Hehe. Have you seen his all-female bodyguard squad? If I wasn't so anti-dictator, I might have to sign up. He's more stylin' than Kim Jong-Il, that's for sure. I'd probably prefer to be a crazy dctator than serve one, but that's just me.

MG: Thanks Very Much for a Nice Interview, Nadz, and Final Question:
Have you ever seen a Ghost?

Nadz: Thanks. No, I haven't seen a ghost. When I was 5, I thought I
saw one of Santa's elves - then I learned there was no santa, and my childhood ended.

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