narrative

Islam’s new kartinis

by mgopin on January 11, 2010 · 8 comments

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“None but a noble man treats women in an honorable manner. And none but an ignoble treats women disgracefully.”
– The Prophet Muhammad (At-Tirmithy)

Last year, I was approached by MarcGopin.com to write a column focusing on positive incremental change.
While I am always in favor of an optimistic approach, I confess that it is sometimes hard to remain positive. This is especially difficult considering the many challenges women – and especially Muslim women – continue to face in establishing and preserving their rights. 

For example, it is true that the tribal practice of honor killing – in which women are slain to restore the “honor” of their families and communities  –  is not exclusive to Islamic societies and even existed in pre-Islamic times. However, it is also true that the perpetrators of these crimes are often Muslim – and their victims, numbering in the thousands each year, are Muslim …

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Recent Book Talk in Toronto

by mgopin on October 14, 2009 · 2 comments

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I had a wonderful experience  recently in Toronto. This is a photo of my book talk at Indigo Books, where I spoke on my recently published To Make the Earth Whole: the Art of Citizen Diplomacy. I had been invited up by the Mosaic Institute to speak on a panel on the state of Middle East peace, together with Fawaz Gerges and Bessma Momani. The event was terrific, but the book talk was also fun because Hind brought so many of her good friends in Toronto, and we were able to celebrate with friends our work together in Syria.

hind marc

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Below are two extraordinary stories. One is an excerpt from an inside look at how and why extremists still filter into Iraq from Syria. It is hardly the tale that neoconservatives gunning for war with Syria want to hear, but it is far closer to the harsh reality and complexity of the situation. The only answer seems to me to be a strengthening of Western-Middle Eastern relations, everyone’s acknowledgment of shared responsibility for Iraq’s situation, better communications, and more cooperation on state strengthening and the rule of law.

The second story is an astonishing tale of reunion between a Syrian soldier and an Israeli soldier who had been on the same battlefield. But where they reunite is shocking, and is s a testimony to our common humanity.

An excerpt from “Merchant of Death”:

suicide bomb

It is common sense and supply and demand. When the decision was made that Saddam Hussein had

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What is *Reality*? – Welcome to the Sulha

by mgopin on September 29, 2008 · 4 comments

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In the context of major global conflicts, where everyone is analyzing what is right or wrong, black or white, left or right, it has occured to me that the definition of reality sometimes gets lost in the mix.

Here are few definitons of reality occording to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary

‘Reality’

1: the quality or state of being real

2 a (1): a real event, entity, or state of affairs reality(2): the totality of real things and events
realityb: something that is neither derivative nor dependent but exists necessarily

Imagine for just a moment if headlines coming out of the Middle East read like this tomorrow….

Today thousands of Arabs, Jews, Israelis,
Palestinians, Seculars and Religious, Christians, Muslims,
Druze, young and old gathered to dance, to cry, to share, to
laugh, to work, to play and ultimately, to live together for
three days just a few miles outside of

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That is what my daughter Lexi wrote on an elaborate sign, beautifully painted, that greeted me one Sunday morning.

I could not imagine who Freddy was. Hours earlier, with the family still asleep, I had discovered a small mouse in our guest room. I scooted out and shut the door fast. We knew we had to find some sort of trap before the house became infested. Well, Lexi went into a serious funk. She has just become vegetarian, animals are everything to her, and here I was about to kill “Freddy”. What she did was to name the thing I was about to kill. She had never met the mouse, but she just knew that she wanted me to stop. So she made several pictures about Freddy, but most importantly, she named him. I was no longer going to get rid of a pest, I was about to kill ‘Freddy’.…

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