ISSUE #38 CONTENTS:
- Film Fest in Fayoum: Celebrating Human Rights
- Runway Revolutionaries: Underground Iranian Couture
- Eid al-Adha: Celebrating the Sanctity of Life
- Quiz: Which Essay Contest winner was on Oprah?
- Become a Partner in CRIME
Film Fest in Fayoum: Celebrating Human Rights
Last month, the Cairo Human Rights Film Festival drew international media attention and an international audience, as five films on human rights made their Egypt debut. Now festival organizer Dalia Ziada, director of AIC-Egypt, is taking films on the road, traveling outside the capital for grassroots screenings in local villages.
On December 5, Ziada joined with the Rawaq forum to host a screening in Fayoum (85 km south Cairo) celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She screened a special film produced by Amnesty International called "UDHR Animated," which features short artistic clips exploring a range of individual rights, including freedom of expression. After the screening she presented on the history and reason for the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and distributed copies of a comic book on MLK and nonviolence.
"The audience was over 90 ordinary people, including many women and illiterate villagers," reports Ziada. "But they were very smart and eager to learn. They were excited that a young woman had come from Cairo to discuss the importance of individual rights. We also discussed women equality and the inherent power every one of us has to change the world for the better."
Billowing hair, towering heels and a secret, invite only guest list are de rigeur not only for exclusive fashion events in London or New York, but also for runway shows in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The shows are advertised by word of mouth, are for women only and border on the illegal. In a recent report, CNN showed that fashion is flourishing in Iran despite restrictions which include its banishment as a university subject and the omnipresent threat of police who can throw a woman in jail for showing "excessive" amounts of hair.
The fashion police urge women to don a black chador, but many Iranian women go to great lengths to avoid it and doll up to the limit of the law, and sometimes beyond. Sadaf, a rising designer, says that "underneath their chadors, they [Iranian women] take care of their appearance." Finding trendy clothes is a challenge because anything that does not conform to government demands is not allowed in stores. At official fashion shows designers have to meet further demands, which result in clothes whose artistic nature is so toned down that the designs are dreary and bland.
This stifling environment pushes designers like Sadaf to stage their fashion shows underground They are difficult to organize and designers have to rely on friends to be both models and customers. Iranian fashion is underground for now, but with lots of talent and a strong, albeit hidden desire amongst Iranian women to be well dressed, the future of Iranian couture cannot be held back for long.
Weekly headlines from across the Middle East report terror bombings that claim the lives of innocent civilians. Most these victims are Muslims, according to a study by the American Islamic Congress. Media dehumanize these victims, while extremists reduce them to casualities in their "righteous" struggle. In honor of the celebration of Eid Al-Adha, the AIC continues its campaign to counter the forces promoting bombings and so-called "honor killings."
Last year, HAMSA's Nasser Weddady published an editorial in the International Herald Tribune in the spirit of the celebration: “The climax of Eid al-Adha offers an unequivocal denunciation of human sacrifice, even when it appears divinely sanctioned... Eid al-Adha's profoundly moving message of redemption offers a strong and compelling argument to be wielded against the extremists who delight in human sacrifice.
Quiz: Which “Dreams Deferred Essay Contest” winner was featured on Oprah?
Answer: Houda, last year's "Dream Deferred Essay Contest" second-place winner. A native of Mauritania, she was interviewed on Oprah's November 20 episode, "Beauty Around the World." She spoke on the traditional definition of beauty in Mauritania: plump, stretch marks, and preferably divorced! With the extra weight come a host of obesity-related health problems:"My father [a doctor] deals every day with women with serious, serious health issues such as high blood pressure," Houda said.
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- Sign a petition in solidarity with Mohammed Al-Maskati.
- Write a letter to imprisoned Egyptian blogger Kareem Amer
- Apply to participate in HAMSA’s civil rights fellowship program.