On the Charlie Hebdo Shootings

I guess by now everyone has heard of the Charlie Hebdo shootings that took place in Paris last week. To avoid any confusion let me start by making a clear point: I do not condone the attack in anyway and there is no reason in my mind to justify it. It was an act of terrorism, and a stupid one for that matter.

Having established that let me move on to what I found mind boggling about this whole thing. People have been dealing with the issue as a matter of terrorism against freedom of speech, but I really couldn’t see it that way. This was a conflict of extremes. A clash between 2 kind of extremists: On the one obvious side of course we have the killers, those who planned and carried out the armed attack on the newspaper. However, on the other side we have another kind of extremists, those who took it upon themselves to ridicule the beliefs and culture of a large part of the French population, let alone the world, and hence alienate and humiliate them by insulting what they choose to believe in. And in between these two extremes we have hundreds of thousands of French people, Muslims, Christians, Jews, atheists, people of all faiths and ideologies who don’t make it their life quest to insult and ridicule other people’s beliefs or stage terrorist attacks on them.

You cannot ask for a peaceful world if you are not willing to respect other people and their right to believe in whatever they believe in. Again, I’m against terrorism and violence, but I’m also against disrespect and alienation. You know what I’m also against? Double standards. When a person like Netanyahu who killed 17 journalists in Gaza last year goes to Paris to participate in a march for freedom of speech then you know it’s an utter farce. When this same newspaper pretending to defend freedom of speech has fired a cartoonist in 2009 over “anti-Semitic” cartoons then you see that this is a march for elective freedom, one that agrees with the current world order and which the powers that be approve of.

But was it really a shock for this to happen in a country like France? Think about it. A country that keeps bragging about being the land of freedom and equality while continuing to issue discriminatory laws and regulations limiting the freedoms of certain groups of its population, giving way for more resentment and feelings of injustice to build among these groups and giving other groups more reason to be racists and hateful on the micro level, creating a fertile soil for hate and sectarian grudges to thrive in all directions.

Hate breeds hate, and violence breeds even more violence, and people everywhere continue to pay the ultimate price because other people won’t let go of their prejudices, and others give themselves the right to kill over them, end of story.

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Observations at the Supermarket

An eminent snow storm is an event of epic proportions in Jordan. After all, it’s not something we’re used to, not even something that happens every year, despite the fact that this is the second year in a row. People are dashing out to stock on bread and groceries like there’s no tomorrow, which would be good if all that shopping kept them home for the next couple of days instead of blocking streets and causing traffic jams which, like the tragic events that took place last year, could cost others their lives. The countdown has begun, few hours before storm Huda graces us with her presence. I woke up this morning with no reason to leave the house, and having finished work early I was looking forward to a day of Agatha Christie books and a wide array of movies to choose from. But then somehow it hit me that this would be probably my last chance to get out of the house for the next few days, and to be honest we didn’t have enough milk for sahlab, and that was reason enough to go on a short drive to the nearby supermarket. The relatively large supermarket was thronging with people. I dodged my way through the aisles, picking things off shelves and returning them again after thinking that it’s not the best idea to have too much chocolate and cookies handy while home-bound. After some negotiations I settled on the final groceries that seemed reasonable enough and stood in the line that formed in front of the cash counter, the like of which this supermarket doesn’t witness too often, it looked like there was a rumored war indeed. Like most people I’m not fond of waiting in queues, it really feels like a waste of time, precious minutes of your life wasted doing nothing if you only choose to stare at the back of the person directly ahead of you and do nothing else. However, sometimes waiting in line has its advantages, like being there to take your surroundings in and perhaps get a load of something interesting or overhear an interesting conversation. As I waited, I caught a glimpse of a fifty-something looking woman standing nearby. The reason I took notice of her was that 3 little girls had just come in and were ecstatic to see her. They were obviously sisters, they looked alike but each of them had a distinctive feature that set her apart from the other two. One had golden curly hair, another one had brown wavy hair and the eldest one had black, slightly wavy hair. The gathered around the older lady and yelled things that indicated she was their grandmother and they were surprised to run into her there. They were acting like they haven’t seen her in ages, which obviously they did since they apparently live in the same area or at least visit often as the grandmother’s reaction wasn’t that of one who hadn’t seen her granddaughters in a year or two. But the girls were going crazy, and the grandmother tried to contain them by humoring them and telling them to go buy whatever they liked (God bless grandmothers, they should rule the world), but they didn’t go off right away as they had something important to tell her which is that they saw her car outside and there was a “boy” in it, to which she responded that it was their grandfather. The whole scene made my day for some reason. The little girls reminded me so much of my nieces, the way they dressed, the way they talked, the way they picked which stuff to buy and how to share. And they were so happy getting chocolate and kinder surprise and whatnot, like they’re getting ready for the storm. I bet they can’t wait for the snow. The age of innocence where you can’t get enough snow and you never want it to melt away. I remember when I was a child how I used to get upset when my father would pray for the snow to go away. Little did I know I would have the same wish years later when snow meant being trapped at home and not being able to run your errands and do what you needed to do. Or to think of all the people to whom snow means unbearably cold nights and leaking roofs. But the snow is coming whether you like it or not. And I’m not going to lie, I am excited about it, I can’t help it. You don’t have to cry yourself to sleep and hate snow to prove that you have compassion with others, but you can help others enjoy the snow instead of suffering through it, anyway you can, because this is the way it should be. Stay warm everyone…