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Notes on “The Fault In Our Stars”

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I hate hospitals, the smell of medicine, and everything that has to do with the themes of sickness and death. When I realized that “The Fault In Our Stars” was a book about two teenagers with terminal cancer, I was like “Oh, cr*p! What did I get myself into?” But I kept going on because I’d promised to read the book.

As I advanced in the reading, however, I found myself indulged in John Green’s sharp, crispy, witty and funny writing style. I particularly loved the bits of the book that are garmented with a touch of spicy sarcasm and enchanting metaphor. I also enjoyed the language of the book. The coinage of words such as “uncancery,” “Breakfastization” and “unlove” is typical of contemporary pieces, and it witnesses the fact that Green could be anything but a vocabulary Nazi.

The story of Hazel and Augustus is heartrending, though. Both teenagers suffer from cancer; a curse that many people would make use of to fish for sympathy and attention. However, these cancer-struck kids do teach us valuable lessons on life, death and love. From where I see it, their struggle is not meant to tell us how cancer patients go about their daily lives, but to show that they are not less normal than any other person. Did Green make an allusion to Orwell’s “Animal Farm?”. Maybe. However, this probably explains the abundance of instances of ups and downs in Gus’s and Hazel’s lives.

The main message in the book, among others, is twofold; (a) “the world is not a wish-granting factory,” and (b) “some infinities are bigger than other infinities.” I thought it was a so powerful message to tell the readers that not all of their wishes shall come true, but Green was bold enough to do it, and I think the outcome has been very positive. Furthermore, the idea of  relativity is heavily influencing. Green is transmitting the idea that small things can mean a lot if, and only if, they come from deep within the heart.

Among other attributes, it’s the blend of delicate and shocking storytelling that makes the reader wonder if the book is destined to make you laugh, cry, sympathize, think, or feel. For me, it was a bit of everything. So, if that’s how you define a good book, then “The Fault In Our Stars” is a must-read.

A dramatization of the novel is to be expected very soon.

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Abdelmjid Seghir’s Facebook Page

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Dear readers,

I’d like to invite you all to join my Facebook Page here.

 

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Please, make sure to join the discussions and check the photo albums.

Thank you all. 🙂

Is “Sex Jihad” The Next Stigma The West Wants To Associate With Islam?

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“Don’t believe everything you read.” I learnt this not from my Moroccan schoolteachers or parents. I learnt it from American TV. I heard it on TV a couple of times as a teenager and I never believed everything I read or heard unless there were proofs that sustained those claims.

Unfortunately, many Americans seem to have forgotten this golden rule. In fact, I’m no longer surprised to encounter Americans with unbelievable assumptions and overgeneralizations that they picked up from some magazine or blog post. Running to premature conclusions seems to have become very widespread among Americans nowadays, especially if a degrading piece of news about Islam is what’s making the headlines.

The latest scandal Western media focused on went viral when some outlets reported that 13 Tunisian girls went to Syria for “Sex Jihad,” where they are reported to have had sexual intercourses with up to 100 men! The girls are now back to Tunisia with bubbled bellies and infected wombs.

Who are these girls? Who sent them to Syria and why? Who’s behind the “Sex Jihad” rumors? Who would benefit from stigmatizing the concept of Jihad and the “Syrian Free Army”? These are all questions that one should ask before jumping to conclusions.   Nevertheless, when asked about their assumptions, people say that they believe so because they heard it on the news, or read it somewhere on the Internet! How credible is that? How is it possible for a sane man to send his daughter to a place like Syria for “Sex Jihad?” I wonder where did the American sense of critical thinking disappear.

The least thing one should do when hearing a controversial piece of news is try to measure its validity and credibility by comparing it to what other people, newspapers, TV channels have to say about the same subject. Perspectives matter, and that’s one important point that’s being marginalized in today’s biased media.

Of course, it is understandable that people from different cultures might think differently. However, when it comes to feelings of fatherhood and motherhood, I believe we’re all the same. An Arab father loves his kids as much as an American father loves his kids. YES, Arabs and Muslims can love, too. I bet you don’t hear that very often on Fox News!

Book Review: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

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I know very well that you can’t judge a book from its cover. Nevertheless, the moment I set my eye on The Kite Runner’s cover on one of my favorite bookshop’s  shelves, I decided it was good. The moment I read the synopsis on the back cover, I decided it was great. One hour later, I was telling myself it was one of the best books I’d ever read!

The Kite Runner Book Cover

Amir and Hassan are bond by a friendship that is closer to brotherhood. Hassan and his father are Hazara Shia who work for Amir’s father who is a Sunni Pashtun. Nevertheless, the alleged superiority of Amir’s descent and religious affiliation, and the continuous molestation of Amir’s Sunni Pashtun neighbors never made him give up on Hassan…until the day cowardice betrayed him.

So, Hassan got raped and Amir couldn’t do anything about it, although Hassan suffered his fate just to secure Amir’s glory after he’d won the kite running competition in Kabul. He could’ve given Assef the blue kite and saved himself but he hadn’t wanted to betray Amir who, on the other hand, just hid there and watched his friend, brother and servant get humiliated in the most awful of ways.

Leaving your friend suffer this atrocious humiliation is a coward deed, indeed. However, and since he’s not a naturally bad kid, his indignation and fury get beyond description and what does he do to redeem himself? He plans to kick Hassan and his father, Ali, out of their mansion! Guilt and disgrace are killing him in the inside and he can’t stand looking Hassan in the eye anymore.

When the Russians invade Afghanistan in 1979, Amir and his father sought refuge in the USA. As years passed by, Amir has succeeded in becoming a published writer. He’s now married to a beautiful Afghan girl with a suspicious past but they’re in love and happy as can be.

…But sometimes, it only takes one phone call to change the course of our lives.

Rahim Khan, Amir’s father’s friend, calls Amir from Pakistan and tells him that Hassan was killed by the Taliban along with his wife and that their son, Sohrab, was still alive in Kabul. Rahim Khan then whispers a phrase that shakes Amir’s world and life: “There’s a way to be good again.”

As it turns out, Rahim Khan knows about everything and he’s now providing Amir with a chance for redemption. Nevertheless, Amir is happy and relatively well-off now. Should he opt for his happy American life or go to Kabul and haunt his haunting past in a city controlled by the Taliban wolves?

As mentioned above, Amir wasn’t a bad kid and he hasn’t grown up to be a bad man, either. Therefore, he  seized the opportunity to reconcile himself with his past and undo his mistakes.

Kabul is not a welcoming city, neither are its rulers. However, true Afghans like the driver Farid and Rahim Khan are there to help. Amir sets foot in Kabul with one goal in mind; finding Sohrab. Sadly, Amir learns the boy is sold to entertain one of Taliban’s big guns, whom, it turns out, is no one but Assef, Hassan’s rapist!

After a big quarrel between Amir and Assef, and with very considerable help from Sohrab and Farid (Sohrab is genius with the slingshot and Farid is an amazing driver,) Amir manages to break free from the Taliban. After an even bigger administrative quarrel, Amir succeeds in getting Sohrab out of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Adult Amir and Sohrab

“The Kite Runner” is a feelings stirring phenomenon. I think that you can hate the book, but you I don’t think you can deny it moved you. The reason I used the word phenomenon is because, up to now, there is not a single person I know  read the book and wasn’t moved by the events. Some people liked the book, others loved it, and a few hated it, but they were all moved to different extents and in different ways. Actually, someone complained that she hated the book because it was TOO moving!

The story in “The Kite Runner” is a complicated mixture of overlapping connections. Friendship, brotherhood, bravery, regret, guilt, redemption, racism, in/justice and love are all heavily presented themes. Hosseini makes good use of his storytelling skills to convey images that actually speak to you. The description is startling yet realistic. The thing about “The Kite Runner” is that the film plays on after one or two lines. I know we can imagine while reading other books but the description and the storytelling in this book enjoy a high quality graphics! Also, the events are enchanting in good and bad ways but they’re all deeply moving. If this book doesn’t move you, I don’t know what will.

As far as the characters are concerned, one cannot but remark that each one of them enjoys unforgettable traits. Amir, Hassan, Baba, Ali, Rahim Khan, Sohrab, Assef, The General, Soraya…are quite different people but whose behavior is very relatable. I think one of the most attracting features in this book is that the characters’ traits are not farfetched. You can see relatable examples of their behavior in everyday life.

However, I think that this novel falls short in describing the Taliban. I’m sure they’re bad people but Hosseini’s description was extravagantly grotesque. Hosseini sure hates them, but the way they are portrayed is surreal. Sometimes, I felt I wouldn’t be surprised if the book said the Taliban had fiery eyes and threw flames of fire out of their mouths!

Holding my copy of the book

Finally, I think that, although it might bring you down to tears, “The Kite Runner” remains one of the most enjoyable reads I’ve had. Also, if you’re into writing as I am, then this is the kind of book that when you finish might scream: “This is the book I want to write.”

Book review: “OCCUPY” by Noam Chomsky

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When I bought the book a week ago in Rabat, I thought it was written by Noam Chomsky. When I started flipping thorough its first pages on the bus, I discovered it wasn’t actually written but SPOKEN by Chomsky. This pamphlet is a collection of Chomsky’s speeches and discussions with some Occupy militants where he answers their questions and provides insights for the movement.

The book is divided into 5 main sections: Occupy, After Thirty Years of Class War, InterOccupy, Occupying Foreign Policy and Remembering Howard Zinn. In the end of the book, there is a Q&A section that gives guidelines as to how to protest and what should militants know before they sit-in or when the police knock on the door.

Professor Noam Chomsky with some militants of the Occupy Movement

Chomsky calls attention to many interesting issues such as; economics, the working class, the 1% and 99% imagery, political parties, elections, etc. which he discusses not in great depth but with a simplicity that makes international matters accessible for the average reader. Nevertheless, if one is not acquainted with the American political and social systems, one might find some difficulty in absorbing all the jargon.

When asked if he’d speak for and represent the movement, he simply said that his voice wouldn’t be heard and that the PEOPLE should depend on themselves. Chomsky believes that the movement doesn’t need leaders, but that it needs to be organized and mobilized.

The most striking idea I came across in this pamphlet, however, was Chomsky’s vision of how REAL democratic elections should take place. After denouncing the American electoral system which Chomsky regards as “farcical” and “radically undemocratic.” He moves to explaining his idea in an InterOccupy conference call as follows:

As I mentioned to Occupy Boston, the people in the town would get together have town meetings and discussions and come up with some ideas that they think ought to be done in the locality, in the country, foreign policy, the whole range. They might just pick their own candidates; or, if there are national candidates running, they could say, “You can come to visit us if you’d like, but we don’t want to hear speeches from you, we’re going to tell you what we think policy ought to be, and if you can convince us that you’ll accept these policies and carry them forward, then maybe we’ll vote for you.”

So basically, Chomsky says that Instead of listening to politicians, politicians must listen to the people. This sounds not like a unique concept but the way Chomsky puts it makes the whole concept crystal clear. I think that this  would sound like a very unorthodox idea of how elections should take place to many people. Yet, I am quite positive that they’ll find it very appealing and extremely democratic. The changes, policies and all major decisions should stem from the people, from the base, a bottom-up strategy and not the other way around. This is exactly what the people are longing for.

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One could speak volumes about each of the topics discussed in Chomsky’s “Occupy.” The bottom line, though, is that Noam Chomsky continues to be faithful to his beliefs, and he’s always trying to provide all the help necessary for the people’s voice to be heard.

I Miss My Blog!

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Ah, I missed my blog those I follow and my dear followers!

I haven’t been able to blog for the last three months. My old Mac broke down and I needed a new one. Although I’ve had a desktop computer running under Windows, WordPress wouldn’t show properly for some reason. So, I had to wait, save money and get a new Mac…

With my Macbook Pro

 

…DONE! 😀

So yes, this is basically just an “I’m back on track” announcement. I’ll check what I’ve been missing out on WordPress and try to catch up.  How are you guys doing?

 

Hasta Cuando?

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No son criminales. Tampoco son animales. Son un grupo de gente con mucha ilusión. Son seres humanos llenos de sueños de una vida mejor. Solo querían estar en un lugar donde pueden encontrar lo que no han encontrado en su país; trabajo, respeto y dignidad. Desafortunadamente, el sueño fue recibido con hostilidad y muerte!


Sí, la muerte fue el destino de 7 personas de un grupo de 25 inmigrantes clandestinos que intentaban llegar a Lanzarote. Lamentablemente, el sueño se convirtió en un desastre cuando una patrullera de la Guardia Civil ahogaba el barco, y con él los sueños de los inmigrantes en la madrugada de este Miercoles. (11/03/2013).

No tengo nada contra los Españoles, al revés, QUIERO a los Españoles. Mis mejores amigos y hermanos platonicos son de España. Seguro que ellos tambien denunciaran esas practicas  vergonzosas del gobierno Español.

Os dejo con este video y con un articulo del periodico Español, El Diario.