الجمعة، مارس 25، 2016

Under a refugee skin

Anyone who lived in Norway for sometime and became familiar with the Norwegian traditions, habits and customs, knows about the obsession which many Norwegians have with reading crime stories and know that many of them spend the whole week of Easter vacation going through such violent literature and watching movies that have bloody content. That obsession can be explained by the fact that the life in Norway is so calm and peaceful and the crime ratio here is one of the lowest in the world and that make any crime -no matter what it is- that may take place anywhere in the country, presented intensively in the news headlines as if it is a highly important and worth to be covered and discussed widely.  They feel that their life is enough boring that they are in need to bring some sort of excitement into it, and the crime stories and bloody movies are the best thing that can kick the boredness out of their life with no serious side effects!

But that obsession also can explain the way that most Norwegians look at and treat those who have some foreign origins and live among them in the country, particularly those who escape poverty, war or political-religious persecution and came here aiming to have a new bright start.
The structure of any crime story depends mainly on three basic characters that can be considered the main elements which no crime story can stand lacking one of it, those characters are : a criminal or a suspect, a victim and an inspector/policeman/savior (sort of hero).
The criminal is always representing the evil side and the policeman/inspector/savior is always representing the good side, while the victims are remaining neutral mostly and it doesn’t matter whether they are good or bad, they are supposed to stick to their roles as victims and even if they show any positive signs like being brave, doing their best trying to defeat the evil, this will not make them equal to the eyes of those who are obsessed with such literature as the absolute hero who is of course, the one who saved the victim from the “bad guy” who were chased by “the hero” that will finally manage to neutralize, kill him or end up putting him under arrest.
Immigrants who came from outside this continent, especially those who came as refugees are expected to resemble one of just two crime story’s roles in the Norwegian mentality, so they expected either to be “the retarded bloody tough criminal” who chase his “poor helpless victim” and kill, steal or rape “her” (mostly taking as men chasing women) without any sense of mercy, or they are expected to be those poor helpless victims who are waiting for “The brave courageous white tall smart blond handsome muscular young man” to save them and such glorious role is just exclusive for white Norwegians to play!
Many Norwegians consider those who came to their country as refugees, role models who are here to fulfil their fantasies and to give their lives sort of excitement and they are expecting them to stick to one of their tiny stupid roles or swing between the two but with no real ambition to get out of this circle and have a normal life which they-refugees- came here dreaming of.
I remember this guy I met right after I landed in Bergen’s airport the first time I came to Norway, who told me that he is originally from an Arab country and that he has been living long enough here and how he manages to get the Norwegian citizenship. He told me that getting the citizenship doesn’t make you Norwegian citizen as someone who were “native” or born here. The society and the Norwegian system have a different look at immigrants and treat them quite differently regardless how long they’ve lived here. At that time, I was just new here, full of positive feelings toward the country, as I was under the spell of the media propaganda which presented the living in the Scandinavian countries meant the access to freedom, to equal opportunities, to prosperities and to transparency and that made me ignore what that guy said to me. Since I have enough amount of hate and negativity toward Arabs and Muslims fed by my bad experiences that I had back in Egypt, it was easy for me to omit all what he said and think that he is probably hiding some conservative ideas and views that made him unable to adapt and enjoy the freedom and other great values that supposed to form this society and its system and that might make him feel that he doesn’t belong here.
Later when I get more and more into the Norwegian society and system I started feeling that there is something wrong. The Norwegian system when it comes to its written laws and rules is close to be one perfect systems; it guarantees equal opportunities for everyone regardless their ethnic or religious backgrounds. However, the system isn’t run by robots, it is run by the society, by people!  Even if people are trying to stick to the written laws that they are supposed to apply and follow, their personal views and ideas are not neutral and it can influence the way they look and deal with different people.  Then the influence which crime story’s roles have over Norwegians and the way they categorize people interfere and damage such amazing system and discrimination start taking place.
When it comes to the Norwegian society, most people don’t look at immigrants as they are people who represent themselves by their good or bad acts or habits, but they are representing something they like to refer to as a “culture”! This so-called “culture” is always a set of customs, traditions, beliefs, food, drinks, habits, actions and many other things. Basically and in Norwegian thoughts, belonging to a certain “culture” means that you have to fit into “The cultural box”, which means you’d represent all the customs and socio-cultural background of the country you came from, no chance that you are maybe different of the image their imagination has already drawn. Usually, when I meet someone for the first time and the he or she start asking where I came from an alarm tickle inside my mind telling me this is another stupid person trying to figure out in which cultural tiny box he or she can place me!
Anyhow people here don’t need to know much about our backgrounds in order to define us “culturally”, it's obvious from our skin, eye and hair colors that we are foreigners, so they can just classify us, in their minds, to one of those two roles, and since I am biologically a male, their mind can’t think of any better role for me than the bad one to play in their deep fantasies.
Even if people tried to present themselves differently and show the fact that the so-called “culture” of the country where they came from doesn’t represent them at all, that will not change anything, not because they don’t believe them, but because they don’t want to drop their own fantasies by placing people outside such boxes and giving them different roles to play.
And for the sake of such fantasies, they also help immigrants especially those who came from Muslim countries to switch between the roles by turning them from being helpless victims to Islamic extremists that are ready to commit violence- crimes and terrorism at any given opportunity just by being exposed to a huge economic and social pressure that make them look back to their religion that many of them were not paying much attention to it before. Getting them into extreme circles which exist in the mosques they built for them and as Norwegians didn’t experience any tragic bloody Islamic terrorist attacks in Norway before, think that everything is under control!
In the Norwegian law all citizens are equal, but to their eyes and in their minds of the vast majority of white Norwegians, equality is just a myth. They don’t have to say that frankly, as do openly racist and discriminatory views and attitudes are not mostly welcomed in the society but such views and attitudes can be hided under some masks that make it more attractive and acceptable.
Every Time I was expressing my anti-Islam ideas and views through my social media posts and my media interviews, many of my Norwegian acquaintances were showing that they are unhappy with it and some of them were gossiping about me and saying that I am giving a hand to the Norwegian right wing by expressing myself freely. Later, I realized that their anger was not about my views, but it was actually against me as a person who give them sort of confusion by staying out of the cultural box they put me in already, for them I shouldn’t be anything but a violent retarded Muslim who is just pretending he's normal.
The bad influence that Norwegian society have over the Norwegian system can also justify the crime story’s theory in understanding the Norwegian mentality. According to the Norwegian mentality or way of thinking, white Norwegians are the smartest, even if their IQ is one of the lowest, and “the others” are the most retarded, even if they are actually smart! That can explain things like why many immigrants have to take the basic high school Norwegian subjects regardless their education level, graduated or not it is means nothing here. In a matter of fact, criminals and victims should always be considered less smart than the brave white hero!
 The same thing goes to the work market where immigrants are considered unqualified for most of jobs except for jobs such cleaning and helping oldies (if they managed to get it actually). Because their names don’t include the special Norwegian letters Æ, Ø and Å, they have to obey the advice of their blonde Norwegian language teacher who ask them to change their names into Norwegian ones hopefully they will get the honor of being called to a job interview, that can be considered as a proof that the society is trying to fit immigrants to the two roles I already mentioned. Indeed, an immigrant is supposed to be either a drug dealer or a prostitute otherwise, they have to stay home pretending that they are applying for a job that they will never get, in order to convince their “saksbehandler” that they are “aktiv arbeidssøkere” to get their monthly social help paid!  Criminals or victims living by the social sidelines, nothing more there to be expected!
I am aware that I am disappointing my dear Norwegian acquaintances by not being able to play the evil role they think it fits me perfectly. The fact that I am human who is identified as a male, and that I was born, grew up and spent the biggest part of my life in the shithole which people referring to as Egypt and that I was brought up by my alleged biological family who happened to be conservative violent Muslim with extreme violent and bloody ideas and views concerning women and non Muslims. Furthermore, I look for most of you ugly and scary that some women runaway in front of me when I am walking in the street, for no obvious reason, despite all these things that you might think should identify me as the best role model to ever exists, who can pop up in your scary nightmares, I am really sorry that I can’t fulfill your fantasies and play the evil role in the fairytales and crimes stories you’ve been reading during your lifetime, because simply I have never been like that. I am the one who always was bullied and beaten at school by my colleagues and teachers when I was young. I grew up as an introvert person who avoid social life and has no friends and never played any kind of sports that can make me tough and violent, and in my early adulthood I started feeling disgust toward my family violent ideas and views that are inspired from their religion and I took strong stand against it that led me to be socially rejected and sent me to jail for four years at the age of 22. Unfortunately, all my personal history and living make of me the worst role model who can fulfill your fantasies by just being the bad guy who kill, steal and rape. I am really sorry to disappoint you, that nothing not even the discriminative treatment you’re showing or you will continue too will make me fit. So at the end and while you’re reading this article, where I am presenting myself as a helpless victim, I hope you can find some satisfaction and same excitement you may experience when you’re reading your crime-story books!

الثلاثاء، مارس 22، 2016

The Inspirational dreams of Malala and King (School task)

Freedom fighters and those who sacrificed their lives, freedom and safety in order to tackle all sorts of injustice and cruelty around the world are not just those historical or fictional figure who are presented in books fairy tales or movies, there are also many people living in the current world who took strong actions against many things they thought it shouldn’t be there in a world that supposed to be a better place for all its inhabitants.
Not all of those people who are fighting for freedom nowadays are well known or recognized as Media can’t cover everything, but one of the most well recognized examples that has been mentioned all over the news and her face became almost familiar for everyone is the Pakistani young girl Malala Yousafzai, the 2014 Noble Peace Prize Winner.
If Malala can be compared to another historical figure who fought for similar noble causes and put his life on the edge for what he believed in, that person can the Afro-American civil rights movement leader Martin Luther King, Jr (1929-1968) who also won Noble Peace Prize in 1964, just 50 years earlier than Malala.
Both of them took strong standings against several unjust practices which was targeting them and their people in order to change such reality and make the world a better place for everyone.
Malala on one hand, is a young woman who lived in Swat Valley under the role of Taliban, the radical Islamic movement, that tried to deprive women in the region from their right for education in order to make them obedient and ignorant (Utdanningsdirktoratet, 2013:Appendix4), and Martin Luther King on the other hand, the young African American who grew up in a country where Jim Crew Laws which were enforcing a fully racial segregation in the southern USA is taking place.(Wikipedia)
Their main motivation was personal, Malala had a dream, and her dream was represented in continuing her Education. King also had another dream, he wanted to be looked at and treated on the equal scale together with his white American peers. Such dreams led both them afterwards to think on the wider scale and include all those who are suffering the same problems into their struggle, so Malala chose to fight for the right of girls to get their education, first in Swat Valley opposing the Taliban’s planes to ban girls from such right, and then all over the world by creating “Malala fund” which helped to build schools around the world, and King among others founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) which organized a non-violent protests that supports the civil rights causes. (Wikipedia)
Both Malala Yousafzai and Martin Luther King in a contrast to their peaceful struggle, their lives was put on an edge. They received death threats and faced assassination attempts. In October 2012, when she was only a fifteen, a terrorist belongs to Taliban shot Malala in head while she was going back home from school. (Utdanningsdirktoratet, 2013:Appendix4)
Fifty four years earlier, at the age of twenty nine and while he was signing copies of his book Stride toward freedom in Blumstein’s department store in Harlem September 1958, a woman stabbed Martin Luther King in chest with a letter opener. Both of them were survived those assassination attempts. (Wikipedia)
Both Malala and Martin Luther King inspired Millions of people around the world and motivated them to stand strongly against the injustice and tyranny by both their stories and speeches. Her biography, I am Malala which was published in 2013 and tells the story of her struggle against radical Islamism and have been published in several languages and distributed worldwide and Malala became a role model for many young girls who follow her footprints and continued her fight for their rights equal opportunities in life.
During the 1963 march on Washington for jobs and freedom, Martin Luther King delivered his most famous speech which well known as I have a dream in front of Lincoln memorial, with strong words king inspired and still inspiring millions of people around the world to stand against all sorts of discrimination and injustice and encouraged many to move against oppression in order to change all sources of suffering. (Wikipedia)
While he was standing on a motel’s second floor balcony in Memphis, Tennessee 4th April 1968, Martin Luther king was shot in his head and died, that was a sad end for one of the most well respected freedom fighters who through his struggle manage to put an end for the racial segregation era in the USA and make it possible for the country to elect the first Afro-American president 50 years later (Wikipedia), on the other hand it’s hard to say that the efforts of Malala Yousafzai managed to achieve similar goals as the struggle in order to obtain a full equality for women in Muslim countries has still a long way ahead due to so many obstacles; religion social norms and traditions,  that complicate the situation but as the fight for this cause is continuing, the change will be accomplished step by step.
Utdanningsdirektoratet, 2013
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King,_Jr. (Access date: March 17th 2016)

الثلاثاء، مارس 01، 2016

The American Dream: illusion or reality? School task

Since the emerge of Homo sapiens as a species in East Africa thousands of years ago, people have been on the move. Humankind has emigrated from one place to another for many reasons such as escaping natural disasters or looking for food and water to survive. This human behavior doesn’t stop throughout the history but the motivations behind the moves have changed as people have developed their needs.
The American dream can be considered a chapter in a long human history where people tend to leave the places where they live in a search for food, water and protection of wild animals and natural disasters. The need of food and water developed into a need of better life opportunities, while the need of protection developed into seeking asylum as many are escaping from wars, political, ethnical and religious persecution.
The meaning of the “American dream” has been changed over the course of the history and include both personal components (such as home ownership and upward mobility) and also included global vision. In his book The epic of America James Truslow Adams stated that the “ The American dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better, richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement”.
People were looking at America as a land of opportunities for prosperity and success. Also it was resembling the freedom which they were lacking in their own countries. Such needs and hopes motivated many to do their best in order to get there and make their “American dream” come true!
But do the American dream really represent a real life opportunities where people can improve their own lives and make it much better for themselves and for their children? Were Christie and Joseph from the Hollywood movie Far and Away right when they believed that their life would change if they moved from Ireland to the USA back in the end of 19th century? And does such story resembling the reality of American life or is it just part of an American propaganda?
In one of his stand-up comedy shows where he was criticizing the idea of The American Dream, George Carlin said: “ It’s called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it”, was he right?
Many of those who manage to flee their countries to America have their lives changed for the better way; become rich, become successful and achieve a big part of their dreams. But such success and achievement were not given to them on a golden plates, but they had to work/fight hard to get what they want in a country where people have to run in a race not that different from “Oklahoma Land Rush” which Joseph (from Far and Away) had to take part in it to get his “Dream Land”, and not everyone is fit, strong or smart enough to win such daily life races. What about the weak, disabled or people with less IQ? Can the American Dream also be generous enough to include them? Or is it just exclusive for the Hollywood movie’s superheroes?
In his novel Of mice and Men, John Steinbeck is telling a story of two random migrant workers who have kind of an “American Dream”. George Melton, a quick witted man, shares a dream with his best friend Lennie Small who is mentally retarded. They are working hard and dreaming that one day they will be able to buy a piece of land and a house and that Lennie will manage to practice his habit of tending the rabbits. Their dream is abolish by the end assuring that “The American Dream” is not illegible for everyone.
Sometimes the dream of having a better life in America motivates people to commit crimes in order to get there, taking into consideration the story of Chen, the 14 years old Chinese boy who was smuggled with false documents on a flight to New York. The parents of Chen thought that it would be better for his life and future to send him there to work and earn money, they borrowed a huge amount of money they can’t afford paying back from their little salaries to achieve their own “American Dream” for him! Such dream costs him his childhood which he spent working in restaurants instead of going to school and playing as the children of his age should do.
The American Dream is a controversial idea, some think it’s real, others have many doubts about it. Many of those who stand strongly to defend the idea of the American Dream they do it because they were lucky enough to end up in America, became successful and achieved what they were dreaming of, or they are believing in it because of the influence of the Hollywood movies and American media. While others who doubt or criticize it they do because either they got some points or they just disagree with American way of life or because they stand there on the left side, however, people will never stop dreaming of improving their life and getting a better opportunities and many will continue having similar dreams which might drive them in the future somewhere out of this planet!
Adams James T. Little, Brown et al. 1931. The Epic of America :p.214-215
Areklett et al. 2013. Stunt. Oslo: Det Norske Samlaget.
Burges R. & Sørhus T.B. 2009. Passage. Oslo: Cappelen Damn.
Carlin George, The American Dream, YouTube.com, Uploaded on Dec 26, 2008
James Caryn , Review/Film; Cruise and Kidman in old fashioned Epic. The new York Times, May 22, 1992, , http://www.nytimes.com/1992/05/22/movies/review-film-cruise-and-kidman-in-old-fashioned-epic.html (Access date 17.02.2016)
Steinbeck, John. 2000. Of Mice and Men. Great Britain: Perason Education Limited
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Dream (access date 17.02.2016)