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Thinking Bloggers

Syrian blogger Golaniya, formerly known as Sham in Ashrafiyeh, has nominated me for a Thinking Blogger award, which is an internet meme or thought virus that began here. The inventor of the award nominated five people whose blogs made him think, with the request that they each nominate five others, and so on. Since the award is designed to grow exponentially, the only question is whether the blogosphere is growing faster than the award, or whether every blogger in existence will one day be a Thinking Blogger. That’s possible because it only took two months for the meme to reach me. Now it’s my turn to choose five blogs that make me think, and introduce them to you, my readers. I apologize to those of you who never learned the language of Asterix and Tintin because three of my five selections are in French.

Let me start with the shining star of the Anglo-Dutch-Moroccan blogosphere, BO18, whose clean and articulate blog is a sassy mix of politics, culture and personal observation. I’ve already quoted him here several times, starting with his post about losing his cultural identity called The Moroccan Touch, through a discussion of homosexuality and Islam, and an ongoing debate about the possible dangers if Islamists win this year’s Moroccan elections. BO18 is an avowed procrastinator and book sniffer who once ate something really disgusting, but none of this detracts from his originality and charm. He’s active on Mideast Youth, is a student in swinging London, and can appreciate how a guy looks in a burka.

On a different wavelength we have Ibn Kafka, jurist and defender of Moroccan freedom. His posts are often long and full of references to the legal code, but they betray a fine sense of irony that makes them a pleasure to read. An example can be found in his self-description at the top of his blog, “un juriste en liberté surveillée.” “Liberté surveillé” means “on probation,” but translates more literally as “freedom under surveillance.” I take this to refer not just to himself, but to Moroccan society as a whole. In a few words he hints at what the rapper Bigg puts in harsher terms in his song “Al Khouf” (“Fear”). Ibn Kafka was one of the strongest defenders of journalist Aboubakr Jamaï when Jamaï was forced to leave Morocco so his magazine Le Journal could continue its work. Although his personal views are progressive, he has defended the right of Islamic conservatives to criticize the Moroccan system, so long as they don’t cross the line into violence. His response to the recent spate of Casablanca suicide bombings was to tell his readers, “Perhaps this will shock you, but I feel pity for these clueless kamikazes who came from the black misery of our Casablanca slums, at least today’s (two brothers!) who killed no one but themselves…. It’s terrible that so much determination and spirit of sacrifice wasn’t or couldn’t be used for more productive ends, for them and their country.” There are many excellent bloggers working the terrain of Moroccan current events, such as AbMoul, Nadia Lamlili and Larbi, but what distinguishes Ibn Kafka is his passion for justice and his principled humanism.

Kenza, a Marrakechi living in Québec, has inpsired me with her blog Murmures since I first began blogging. Like BO18 she combines political and social commentary with personal reflection, but in a more introspective style. Kenza first caught my eye with a post about wife-beating in Islam, in which she tore into the bigoted sheikhs who support this idea, while insisting on her right to interpret her religion according to her own conscience. “I know what’s written in my Qur’an,” she explained. Kenza is an avid reader, and often discusses the books she loves on her site. Through Kenza I met other bloggers who write in a similar style, such as Mon Massir, “a free and independent woman,” and Loula la Nomade, “exile by nature, rebellious by temperament.” They deserve your attention as well, but Kenza gets the prize because she was my gateway to the others.

Next I’d like to recommend the Antiblog of Yahia Chlyeh. I first discovered Yahia through the comments he made on blogs I was reading. I like to click on the names of commenters who interest me, because it draws me into the labyrinth of blogs and causes me to lose many hours of precious sleep. Once Yahia and I got to know each other, I asked him why his blog is called the Antiblog, and he said it’s because he doesn’t like to write about personal things like “My goldfish died today.” Instead, he chooses a theme like loss of identity, homosexuals in society, television or global warming and examines it in detail. His motto is, “Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress,” so check out his blog and disagree with him! His blog design is as meticulous as his writing. He also posted here on eatbees about God and destiny.

My only non-Moroccan choice is Egyptian journalist Hossam
el-Hamalawy, whose blog 3arabawy is essential for understanding the Egyptian reform movement. I’ve already linked to him several times, whether I was talking about police torture or Hosni Mubarak’s campaign to rewrite the Constitution. He covers the resistance in all its forms, whether it be activist conferences, labor unrest, political trials, or the issues of the greater Middle East. He was an early champion of blogger Kareem, who is now serving a four-year prison sentence for his criticisms of Mubarak and Islam. Unfortunately, a new blogger is now in the spotlight as the latest victim of Egyptian police repression. Journalist Abdel Monem Mahmoud, a crusader against police torture, was pulled off a plane at Cairo International Airport on April 15, while about to travel to Sudan to research a report about human rights in the Arab world. Monem has defended Kareem in the past, even though Kareem is an extremely harsh critic of Islam and Monem is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. This type of solidarity should now extend in the other direction. Monem has already been arrested and tortured once in an attempt to break his spirit, but it only made his commitment stronger. I salute 3arabawy for his reporting, without which stories like this would not be heard in the West.

To those bloggers I’ve named, BO18, Ibn Kafka, Kenza, Yahia and 3arabawy, nothing obliges you to accept the award. If you do, please write a post on your own blog highlighting five more blogs that make you think. The only condition is, they should be blogs that haven’t been chosen before. If you send me the link to your post, I’ll put it in an update here so my readers can follow the chain a step further.

The “thinking virus” seems to be sweeping the blogosphere, because in just the past few days I’ve come across two other blogs that were recently nominated, including Homeyra, whose blog Forever Under Construction I highly recommend. Congratulations Homeyra!

If you’re interested in supporting jailed bloggers Kareem and Monem, click on their photos in the left sidebar for more information.

UPDATE: Moving the Thinking Blogger award solidly into the French-speaking blogoma (Moroccan blogosphere), Kenza presents her five nominees in this post.


Comment from Golaniya
Time: April 27, 2007, 05:44

Wow..thank you for introducing these active original creative blogs, I know 3arabway but I rarely visit his blog.
Excellent choices. You have no idea how delightful to read more of Maghreb Arabi bloggers, those we know nothing about.
I also read your two previous posts, your blog is as essential read as your nominees ;-)

i’d like to link to Kareem and Monem via HTML script, but i don’t know how to do that, do you have the code? or maybe recommend a site that teaches “easily” how to do that?

Comment from Kenza
Time: April 27, 2007, 11:05

Ooooh Eatbees that was such a delight and honor to be nominated by you for this award.

I like your blog and the way you analyse things and I am happy to see that you appreciate mine :)

I accept the award with great pleasure (I’ve always dreamed of saying this :D ), I will write a post and nominate other blogers as soon as possible

Keep the good blogging :)

Comment from Ibn Kafka
Time: April 27, 2007, 15:05

I am flattered, eatbees. I do not think I deserve all those nice appreciations, and I am not sure that I could stand close scrutiny on all those counts you list in my favor!

I’ll try to pass the buck on my blog!

Comment from eatbees
Time: April 27, 2007, 16:33

@Kenza, Ibn Kafka — No reason to be TOO flattered, it’s not an Oscar, it’s only me saying the blogs I like to read! ;) The way I picked them is to start with blogs I’ve quoted here at one time or another. I figured that was a good sign that they make me think!

The person who came up with the award has a “blog about blogging” and picked other blogs like that—so it’s interesting to see the award diversify as it is passed from hand to hand—after all, “thinking” means different things to different people!

@Golanyia — I think it will be easier for me to explain to you what to do, than for you to find it on a site. Of course I’m glad you want to spread the word about Kareem and Monem. I will try to write more about Monem soon. For me it’s important to support BOTH of them, not just one or the other, though politically they are pretty much opposites. I will send you some code in an e-mail, but I hope you already know about “img” and “a” tags! If you do, the rest isn’t hard at all….

Comment from homeyra
Time: April 28, 2007, 00:50

Thanks eatbees. This isn’t an Oscar :) but a great occasion to create ties and get introduced to other bloggers.

Comment from Youssef {BO18}
Time: April 29, 2007, 06:13

Thank you eatbees!

*Speeching, crying and stumbling off the stage* :P

I will pass the award on, soon

Comment from Kenza
Time: April 29, 2007, 11:38

I see that everybody was as emotional as I am about the award lol

I passed the award, I just put a post and watend to let you know :)

Comment from eatbees
Time: April 29, 2007, 14:01

@Youssef — Wth all the emotion, I’m worried that you’re trying to do too many things at once. Please don’t hurt yourself!

@Kenza — Thanks, I updated the post and will do the same for the others “as the results come in”….

Comment from Kenza
Time: April 29, 2007, 14:35

Loula just posted her nominees
I am very happy to see that the award is moving in such different paths :) that was the purpose I guess

And I am discovering some very interesting blogs … thanks again for that eatbees

Comment from nadia
Time: May 3, 2007, 14:09

Eatbees, thinks for your appreciation.
But let me tell you some think. I would like if I can write english fluently like you. :-)

Comment from eatbees
Time: May 6, 2007, 22:24

@Nadia — It’s the language I got from my parents, so that’s my advantage… but of course the secret to learning any language is to use it often… even so, I revise and revise to get it right, but a river flows from the mountains to the sea without revision!

It’s a pleasure to read you and to see you here. :)

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