قصيدة "الجسر" لمحمود درويش

 

الجسر

مشيًا على الأقدام أو زحفًا على الأيدي، نعودُ  قالوا ..  وكان الصخر يضمر  والمساء يدًا تقودُ ..  لم يعرفوا أن الطريق إلى الطريق  دم، ومصيدة، وبِيدُ  كل القوافل قبلهم غاصت،  وكان النهر يبصق ضفّتيه  قطعاً من اللحم المفتت  في وجوه العائدين  كانوا ثلاثة عائدين  شيخ، وابنته، وجندي قديم  يقفون عند الجسر ..  كان الجسر نعسانًا، وكان الليل قبعة، وبعد دقائق يصلون هل في البيت ماء ؟ وتحسَّس المِفتاح ثم تلا من القرآن آية  قال الشيخ منتعشًا: وكم من منزل في الأرض يألفه الفتى  قالت: ولكنّ المنازل يا أبي أطلال

فأجاب: تبنيها يدان ..  ولم يُتمَّ حديثه، إذ صاح صوت في الطريق: تعالَوْا  وتلته طقطقة البنادق ..  لن يمر العائدون  حرس الحدود مرابط،  يحمي الحدود من الحنين 

أمر بإطلاق الرصاص على الذي يجتاز هذا ) الجسر، هذا الجسر مقصلة الذي رفض التسول  تحت ظل وكالة الغوث الجديدة. والموت بالمجان  تحت الذل والأمطار، من يرفضه يُقتل عند  هذا الجسر، من الجسر مقصلة الذي ما زال يحلم  بالوطن )

الطلقة الأولى أزاحت عن جبين الليل  قبعة الظلام  والطلقة الأخرى ..  أصابت قلب جندي قديم ..  والشيخ يأخذ كفَّ ابنته ويتلو  همسًا من القرآن سورة  وبلهجة كالحلم قال، وعينه عند النجوم ـ عينا حبيبتي الصغيرة،  ليَ يا جنود، ووجهها القمحي لي  والفستقُ الحلبي في فمها  وطلعتها الأميرة، والضفيرة  ليَ يا جنود  ليَ كلها، هذي حبيبتي الأخيرة 

قَدِمُوا إليه .. مقهقهين  ـ لا تقتلوها.. اقتلوني  اقتلوا غدها، وخلوها بدوني  وخذوا فداها،  كلَّ الحديقة، والنقود،  وكل أكياس الطحين  وإذا أردتم، فاقتلوني 

كانت مياه النهر أغزر .. فالذين رفضوا ) هناك الموت بالمجان أعطوا النهر لونًا آخر  والجسر، حين يصير تمثالاً، سيُصبغ - دون  (ريب - بالظهيرة والدماء وخضرة الموت المفاجئ

.. وبرغم أن القتل كالتدخين..  لكنَّ الجنود الطيبين،  الطالعين على فهارس دفترٍ ..  قذفته أمعاء السنين،  لم يقتلوا الإثنين ..  كان الشيخ يسقط في مياه النهر ..  والبنت التي صارت يتيمة  كانت ممزقة الثياب،  وطار عطر الياسمين  عن صدرها العاري الذي  ملأته رائحة الجريمة  والصمت خيَّم مرة أخرى،  وعاد النهر يَبصق ضفّتيه  قطعاً من اللحم المفتت  .. في وجوه العائدين  لم يعرفوا أن الطريق إلى الطريق  دم، ومصيدة، ولم يعرف أحد  شيئاً عن النهر الذي  يمتص لحم النازحين 

الجسر مِقصلة لمن عادوا لمنزلهم، وأن الصمت مِقصلة ) الضمير. هل يسمع الكتاب،  تحت القبعات، حرير نهر من دم، أم يرقصون  الآن في نادي العراة كأن شيئًا لم يكن،  (ومغنيات الحب - كالجنرال - يشغلهن نخب الانتصار -؟

لكنَّ صوتًا، فرَّ من ليل الجريمة  طاف في كل الزوابع  ورَوَتْه أجنحة الرياح  :لكل نافذة، ومذياع، وشارع   عينا حبيبتي الصغيرة " ليَ، يا جنود، ووجهها القمحي لي  الفستقُ الحلبيُّ في فمها  وطلعتها الأميرة، والضفيرة  "لا تقتلوها .. واقتلوني

وأُضيف في ذيل الخبر : كل الذين  كتبوا عن الدم والجريمة  :في هوامش دفتر التاريخ، قالوا  ومن الحماقة أن يظن المعتدون،  المرتدون ثياب شاه،  أنهم قتلوا الحنين  أما الفتاة، فسوف تكسو صدرها العاري  وتعرف كيف تزرع ياسمين  أما أبوها الشَّهْم، فالزيتون لن يصفرَّ من دمه،  *ولن يبقى حزين  ومن الجدير بأن يسجل:  *أن للمرحوم تاريخًا، وأنَّ له بنين  

الجسر يكبر كل يوم كالطريق، وهجرة ) الدم في مياه النهر تنحت من حصى الوادي  تماثيلاً لها لون النجوم، ولسعة الذكرى،  (وطعم الحب حين يكون أكثر من عبادة

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قصيدة "لا تصالح" لأمل دنقل

مقتل كليب: الوصايا العشر

.. فنظر "كليب" حواليه وتحسَّر، وذرف دمعة وتعبَّر، ورأى عبدًا واقفًا فقال له: أريد منك يا عبد الخير، قبل أن تسلبني، أن تسحبني إلى هذه البلاطة القريبة من هذا الغدير؛ لأكتب وصيتي إلى أخي الأمير سالم الزير، فأوصيه بأولادي وفلذة كبدي..

فسحبه العبد إلى قرب البلاطة، والرمح غارس في ظهره، والدم يقطر من جنبه.. فغمس "كليب" إصبعه في الدم، وخطَّ على البلاطة وأنشأ يقول ..

(1)

 

1) لا تصالحْ! ولو منحوك الذهبْ أترى حين أفقأ عينيكَ ثم أثبت جوهرتين مكانهما.. هل ترى..؟ هي أشياء لا تشترى..: ذكريات الطفولة بين أخيك وبينك، حسُّكما - فجأةً - بالرجولةِ، هذا الحياء الذي يكبت الشوق.. حين تعانقُهُ، الصمتُ - مبتسمين - لتأنيب أمكما.. وكأنكما ما تزالان طفلين! تلك الطمأنينة الأبدية بينكما: أنَّ سيفانِ سيفَكَ.. صوتانِ صوتَكَ أنك إن متَّ: للبيت ربٌّ وللطفل أبْ هل يصير دمي -بين عينيك- ماءً؟ أتنسى ردائي الملطَّخَ بالدماء.. تلبس -فوق دمائي- ثيابًا مطرَّزَةً بالقصب؟ إنها الحربُ! قد تثقل القلبَ.. لكن خلفك عار العرب لا تصالحْ.. ولا تتوخَّ الهرب!

 (2) لا تصالح على الدم.. حتى بدم! لا تصالح! ولو قيل رأس برأسٍ أكلُّ الرؤوس سواءٌ؟ أقلب الغريب كقلب أخيك؟! أعيناه عينا أخيك؟! وهل تتساوى يدٌ.. سيفها كان لك بيدٍ سيفها أثْكَلك؟ سيقولون: جئناك كي تحقن الدم.. جئناك. كن -يا أمير- الحكم سيقولون: ها نحن أبناء عم. قل لهم: إنهم لم يراعوا العمومة فيمن هلك واغرس السيفَ في جبهة الصحراء إلى أن يجيب العدم إنني كنت لك فارسًا، وأخًا، وأبًا، ومَلِك!

 (3) لا تصالح .. ولو حرمتك الرقاد صرخاتُ الندامة وتذكَّر..  (إذا لان قلبك للنسوة اللابسات السواد ولأطفالهن الذين تخاصمهم الابتسامة) أن بنتَ أخيك "اليمامة" زهرةٌ تتسربل -في سنوات الصبا- بثياب الحداد كنتُ، إن عدتُ: تعدو على دَرَجِ القصر، تمسك ساقيَّ عند نزولي.. فأرفعها -وهي ضاحكةٌ- فوق ظهر الجواد ها هي الآن.. صامتةٌ حرمتها يدُ الغدر: من كلمات أبيها، ارتداءِ الثياب الجديدةِ من أن يكون لها -ذات يوم- أخٌ! من أبٍ يتبسَّم في عرسها.. وتعود إليه إذا الزوجُ أغضبها.. وإذا زارها.. يتسابق أحفادُه نحو أحضانه، لينالوا الهدايا.. ويلهوا بلحيته (وهو مستسلمٌ) ويشدُّوا العمامة.. لا تصالح! فما ذنب تلك اليمامة لترى العشَّ محترقًا.. فجأةً، وهي تجلس فوق الرماد؟!

 (4) لا تصالح ولو توَّجوك بتاج الإمارة كيف تخطو على جثة ابن أبيكَ..؟ وكيف تصير المليكَ.. على أوجهِ البهجة المستعارة؟ كيف تنظر في يد من صافحوك.. فلا تبصر الدم.. في كل كف؟ إن سهمًا أتاني من الخلف.. سوف يجيئك من ألف خلف فالدم -الآن- صار وسامًا وشارة لا تصالح، ولو توَّجوك بتاج الإمارة إن عرشَك: سيفٌ وسيفك: زيفٌ إذا لم تزنْ -بذؤابته- لحظاتِ الشرف واستطبت- الترف

 (5) لا تصالح ولو قال من مال عند الصدامْ ".. ما بنا طاقة لامتشاق الحسام.." عندما يملأ الحق قلبك: تندلع النار إن تتنفَّسْ ولسانُ الخيانة يخرس لا تصالح ولو قيل ما قيل من كلمات السلام كيف تستنشق الرئتان النسيم المدنَّس؟ كيف تنظر في عيني امرأة.. أنت تعرف أنك لا تستطيع حمايتها؟ كيف تصبح فارسها في الغرام؟ كيف ترجو غدًا.. لوليد ينام -كيف تحلم أو تتغنى بمست??بلٍ لغلام وهو يكبر -بين يديك- بقلب مُنكَّس؟ لا تصالح ولا تقتسم مع من قتلوك الطعام وارْوِ قلبك بالدم.. واروِ التراب المقدَّس.. واروِ أسلافَكَ الراقدين.. إلى أن تردَّ عليك العظام!

 (6) لا تصالح ولو ناشدتك القبيلة باسم حزن "الجليلة" أن تسوق الدهاءَ وتُبدي -لمن قصدوك- القبول سيقولون: ها أنت تطلب ثأرًا يطول فخذ -الآن- ما تستطيع: قليلاً من الحق.. في هذه السنوات القليلة إنه ليس ثأرك وحدك، لكنه ثأر جيلٍ فجيل وغدًا.. سوف يولد من يلبس الدرع كاملةً، يوقد النار شاملةً، يطلب الثأرَ، يستولد الحقَّ، من أَضْلُع المستحيل لا تصالح ولو قيل إن التصالح حيلة إنه الثأرُ تبهتُ شعلته في الضلوع.. إذا ما توالت عليها الفصول.. ثم تبقى يد العار مرسومة (بأصابعها الخمس) فوق الجباهِ الذليلة!

 (7) لا تصالحْ، ولو حذَّرتْك النجوم ورمى لك كهَّانُها بالنبأ.. كنت أغفر لو أنني متُّ.. ما بين خيط الصواب وخيط الخطأ. لم أكن غازيًا، لم أكن أتسلل قرب مضاربهم أو أحوم وراء التخوم لم أمد يدًا لثمار الكروم أرض بستانِهم لم أطأ لم يصح قاتلي بي: "انتبه"! كان يمشي معي.. ثم صافحني.. ثم سار قليلاً ولكنه في الغصون اختبأ! فجأةً: ثقبتني قشعريرة بين ضعلين.. واهتزَّ قلبي -كفقاعة- وانفثأ! وتحاملتُ، حتى احتملت على ساعديَّ فرأيتُ: ابن عمي الزنيم واقفًا يتشفَّى بوجه لئيم لم يكن في يدي حربةٌ أو سلاح قديم، لم يكن غير غيظي الذي يتشكَّى الظمأ

 (8) لا تصالحُ.. إلى أن يعود الوجود لدورته الدائرة: النجوم.. لميقاتها والطيور.. لأصواتها والرمال.. لذراتها والقتيل لطفلته الناظرة كل شيء تحطم في لحظة عابرة: الصبا - بهجةُ الأهل - صوتُ الحصان - التعرفُ بالضيف - همهمةُ القلب حين يرى برعماً في الحديقة يذوي - الصلاةُ لكي ينزل المطر الموسميُّ - مراوغة القلب حين يرى طائر الموتِ

 وهو يرفرف فوق المبارزة الكاسرة كلُّ شيءٍ تحطَّم في نزوةٍ فاجرة والذي اغتالني: ليس ربًا.. ليقتلني بمشيئته ليس أنبل مني.. ليقتلني بسكينته ليس أمهر مني.. ليقتلني باستدارتِهِ الماكرة لا تصالحْ فما الصلح إلا معاهدةٌ بين ندَّينْ..  (في شرف القلب) لا تُنتقَصْ والذي اغتالني مَحضُ لصْ سرق الأرض من بين عينيَّ والصمت يطلقُ ضحكته الساخرة!

 (9) لا تصالحْ

ولو وقفت ضد سيفك كل الشيوخْ

والرجال التي ملأتها الشروخْ

هؤلاء الذين يحبون طعم الثريدْ

وامتطاء العبيدْ

هؤلاء الذين تدلت عمائمهم فوق أعينهم

وسيوفهم العربية قد نسيت  سنوات الشموخْ

لا تصالحْ

فليس سوى أن تريدْ أنت فارسُ هذا الزمان الوحيدْ وسواك.. المسوخْ!

 (10) لا تصالحْ لا تصالحْ

فلماجاءت الوفود ساعية الى الصلح, قال لهم الامير سالم: أصالح اذا صالحت اليمامة.. فقصدت اليمامة امها الجليلة ومن معها من نساء سادات القبيلة, فدخلن اليها, وسلمن جميعا عليها, وقبلت الجليلة بنتها وقالت: أما كفى؟ فقد هلكت رجالنا وساءت احوالنا, وماتت فرساننا وابطالنا. فأجابتها اليمامة: أنا لا أصالح, ولو لم يبق احد يقدر ان يكافح..

نوفمبر "تشرين الثاني" 1976

 
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Blood-red Plums

They ripen , but you can't pick any. They seem like a waste of fruit. On the first day they look painfully delicious. Then they start to lose their rich color and acquire a yellowish tinge. After a while the physical pain seizes. You become numb, even when the skin breaks. It's just anger bottling up inside you. The lump in your throat is like the cork stuck in the bottle's neck. I choose his favorite china. My heart beats faster as I drop one plate after the other. When they break , my heart swells with joy and pain. I feel divine. I keep the biggest one till he wakes up. I save it just for him. He is scared. He tries to calm me. The cork pops. When all the small white plates are broken , silence creeps in. He does not understand. I am calm. I even speak calmly when I tell him that it's over. He won’t plant any more plums on my flesh.I am divine. I take the last plate and bash it to the side of his head. The bottle stops foaming and I finally feel that I can taste what's inside. **************** I bought the rocking chair that was denied me for so long. I bought the cat I have always longed for. I listen to the music that splits my heart into two and I am alive at last. I sit in my chair with a bowl of ripe blood-red plums on my lap , I bite into them one after the other. Their skin breaks and their blood trickles down my chin. I laugh till I break down and cry. I am divine. But the cat thinks I am insane.
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Secrets Kept By Palms

She never got to know how mother found out. Her belly hadn't even rounded yet. She herself hadn't discovered it until six weeks had passed. But mother must have sensed it because she had been giving her suspicious looks for a week. I would never have thought about it if she hadn’t told me, that's why how mother felt it is so confusing. She never dreamt mother would suspect anything, let alone call the mid-wife early one Friday morning to hopefully prove her gut feeling wrong. I heard her screams first: surprised, muffled, then agonized and slow. For a second the silence was too loud; it was all that was there. A second later, mother's shrill scream penetrated it shattering it to pieces. Her screams were mingled with the mid-wife's hissing voice telling her to quiet down; telling her that we didn’t need a scandal. They whole village doesn’t have to know. The door opened quietly. As the mid-wife led mother out of the room wailing and sobbing, I saw her. She was not moving. She was sitting on the bed with her night-dress around her hips, her strong brown calves and thighs naked, her knees clasped together. A key was thrown at me and I heard a voice telling me to lock the door. As I pulled the door towards me, she smiled. While small single tears rolled down her broken smile and fell into her lap, she told me what she had been telling me for the past week. She told me that it was not her fault. ************************ I was sent to fetch him. He walked back with me joking all the way, poking me and asking how everything was. The smile was wiped off his face when my mother greeted him with the news. He looked angry, scared and disgusted. He told mother that this was to be expected to happen when there isn’t a man to take care of things. Women disgrace their families when there is no man to control them. With a crazy look in his eyes, he announced to himself that now he was man of the house. He led her out of the back door with her face battered and bleeding. I ran to the nearest window and jumped after them, following them as they went far into the fields. They kept walking till they reached a clearing where 12 palm trees stood huddled together. He tied her arms and threw her on the soft dirt among the ripe dates. It was dusk and the day was dying behind her. He threw a shotgun on the ground crushing the small ripened pieces of fruit it fell on. He moved closer to her and pinned down her legs to the moist earth with his feet. He pushed her dress up to her waist. Then, she let out a cry that was lost in the twilight; a cry that would haunt me for the rest of my life. As he hovered over her raising his galabiya, she asked him if he was man enough to kill his own child inside her, his own flesh and blood. I turned around and ran all the way home.
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Iman Mersal

A poet I just discovered and really liked:
Iman Mersal was born November 30, 1966 in Mit ‘Adlan, a small village in the northern Egyptian Delta. Her first poems were published in local poetry magazines while she was still a student in high school. Subsequently, she attended the University of Mansura, graduating in 1988 with honors in Arabic literature. From 1985 to 1992, she co-edited the independent feminist magazine, Bint al-Ard (Daughter of the Earth), which published the creative work of young female writers, as well as non-fiction articles on feminism and Islam. From 1988 until 1998, she lived in Cairo writing, editing, studying, and teaching Arabic literature. Mersal’s first book of poetry, Ittisafat (Characterizations, Dar al-Ghad, Cairo) debuted in 1990. A stellar collection of measured verse, Ittisafat was enthusiastically reviewed by the renowned novelist and literary critic Edward Kharrat in the London-based al-Hayat (September 1, 1991). Following its publication, she stopped writing for several years. Her second book Mamarr Mu‘tim Yasluh li Ta‘allum al-Raqs (A Dark Passageway Is Suitable for Learning to Dance, Dar Sharqiyat al-Qahira, Cairo, 1995) took a new direction, forming part of an avant-garde poetic movement. Mersal and other poets of the “90s generation,” adopted new genre that came to be known as qasidat al-nathr or prose poem. The new form freed them from the grandiose rhetoric and large ideological focus of modern Arabic poetry, enabling them to explore the details of daily life. Because of resistance from the mainstream, the nascent movement found its home in independent magazines—often small and struggling—including al-Garrad (The Locusts) and al-Kitaba al-Ukhra (The Other Writing)...
[Here is one of her poems recited by her] Thanks SP
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2007 Book List

If you are into Arabic literature, I strongly recommend you read the following books:
  • كأنها نائمة (Ka'annaha Na'ema) : This novel by Elias Khoury is one of the most complex Arabic novels I have ever read. By taking the stream of consciousness narrative technique to a higher level, the novel raises many metaphysical questions through an eerily familiar context of never ending dreams. In it the boundaries between reality/dream, life/death, sleep/death as well as poetic inspiration/religious revelation are blurred. Set in the Levant of the early 20th century, just before European Jews occupied Palestine, the novel draws on a lot of Eastern Orthodox Church tales of ancient prophets and predicts the wars to be fought in the region. The novel is incredibly rich and deep and needs to be read at least twice before some of its many meanings can be grasped. Elias Khoury has actually just received the prestigious Sultan ibn Al Al Ouwais cultural award for this novel.
  • نون (Noon): In this novel, by Sahar El Mougy, the life journey of a group of Egyptian friends towards self knowledge is narrated by Hat-hoor the Egyptian goddess of love. The title of the novel does not refer to the "noon" of the Arabic alphabet but to the Noon of the Egyptian myth of creation. According to that myth Noon is the womb and the darkness from which the god Ra' (the sun) emerged allowing the world to come into being thus symbolizing the growth of the characters from ignorance (darkness) to knowledge (light). The beauty of this novel lies in how (though at first it is difficult to see the connection) ancient Egyptian mythology is revived and immersed with a strong and vivid contemporary middle-class Egyptian atmosphere.
  • قطعة من اوروبا (Qet'a men Oroppa): If you enjoy reading historical novels then this is a must read. The novel, by Radwa Ashour, traces Egypt's history during its transition from a kingdom to a republic through the first person narrative voice of a man living and experiencing the changes in downtown Cairo, the Egyptian neighborhood that was modelled like European cities (hence the title of the novel). The novel is not just about the political but also the social changes in a neighborhood that was one of the most cosmopolitan places in Egypt until the 1960s.
Both Sahar El Mougy and Radwa Ashour won the Greek Cavafy award for Arabic literature.
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Nazek Al Mala'eka

nazekalmalaeka.jpg Just heard the news, Nazek Al Mala'eka, the Iraqi avant-garde of modern Arabic poetry has died at the age of 85. (Born 23 August 1922, died 20 June 2007) For Arabs, Nazek Al Mala'eka was in poetry what Virginia Woolf was for the English in the novel –one of the pivotal figures of the 20th century. Nazek's main contributions lay in her introduction and development of what came to be known as Al She'r Al Hurr (free verse); a new type of Arabic poetry which did away with the traditional two column lines and the need for a rhyming scheme. This new type of poetry was met with strong opposition from traditionalists who saw the move as detracting from the uniqueness of Arabic poetry. However, Nazek stood her ground and produced several volumes of this new free verse in addition to publishing several books of criticism. By the second half of the 20th century her efforts combined with those of other free verse poets had paid off and Al She'r Al Hurr became accepted as a new poetic genre. Many papers, books and dissertations have been done on Nazek Al Mala'eka's works making her one of the most written about literary female figures of the century. Some of her collections of poetry are: 'Asheqat Al Lail (1947) Shazaya Wa Ramad (1949) Qararat Al Mawga (1957) Shajarat Al Qamar (1968) Al Salah Wa Al Thawra (1978) The last poem she wrote was an elegy to her deceased husband entitled "Ana Wahdi" (I'm Alone) in 2001.
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Nawal Al Sadawy, an ex-Member of the MB!

As most of you must have heard, late in February Al Azhar decided to report Nawal Al Saadawi, Egypt's most outspoken feminist, to the police because of a play that she wrote back in the time of President Anwar Al Sadat and which she just published by the end of 2006. The play, "God Resigns in the Summit Meeting," would have passed unnoticed if not for one thing, the role of Sadat is symbolically played by God.

"So what?" you'd think, "this is just fiction, it is not to be taken literally; besides, religion shouldn't interfere with creativity." Well, try explaining that to the honorable Azhar "scholars" who (after reporting the atheist writings of their student, Abdel Karim Soliman, to the police last year) seem to be successfully working towards the resurrection of the medieval inquisition.

Anyway, now Nawal Al Saadawi is being sued for insulting "The Divine Entity" and for blasphemy and all thanks to Sayed Tantawi and his Islamic Research Council who came up with the decision that her play is an insult to the Muslim creed after three hours of heated discussions!

Fortunately when that happened Nawal Al Saadawi was in Belgium and is now in the US as visiting professor, so I don't think we will see her serving any jail time soon.

As I mentioned earlier, this happened a while ago and I should have written something about the topic back then but I got very busy. So what is new?

Well, after news of her "blasphemous" play circulated around what I like to call the "Islamist blogosphere", an interesting rumor followed. According to this rumor, Al Sadawy was a Muslim Brotherhood member, and not just that, but she used to wear the veil (back in the 40s!!) and lead women in prayer and helped get many into the brotherhood!

The source of the rumor is a book, Wa Areftou Al Ikhwan (And So I Came to Know the Brotherhood), about the history of the Muslim Brotherhood written by a Mahmoud Game', an ex-MB member, in which he claims that Al Saadawi was his classmate and that they helped organize MB events together.

What is even worse than the rumor is the way it has been used by these Islamists. According to this website, Nawal Al Sadawy is living proof that pious people are liable to lose their faith if they are not careful and avoid deviating from the right path.

So how do the pious deviate from the right path? The blogger enumerates several reasons the most outstanding being: "by hanging around "perverts" a lot who will drag the pious slowly and inconspicuously away from doing good deeds and remaining with the good people; and by reading "skeptical" books that would make them lose hold of the "useful" knowledge that helped them remain pious."

The writer then enlightens us by revealing that the first symptom of losing your piety is "rebelling" because rebellion leads to questioning God's words and the words of the prophet and the scholars which will ultimately lead to the pious becoming atheists.

Well, and I thought it was my duty as a good Muslim to question everything!

Anyway, in the following interview Nawal Al Sadawy said that she never knew this Mahmoud Game' and strongly denied ever being a member of the MB and ever wearing the veil which she has always believed is not part of Islam.

Hmm, too bad for the "how the pious turn evil" theory!

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The Women and Memory Forum's Story Telling Night

Last week I had the greatest time ever attending a story telling event held by my favourite feminist NGO in Egypt, The Women and Memory Forum.

One of the main targets of the WMF is to rewrite our folklore from women's point of view and that is what it has been doing throughout its series of story telling evenings, the latest of which I was lucky to attend.

At 7:30 in the evening I made it to the Rawabet theatre with a friend of mine and one of my professors who I ran into during our hectic search for the theatre which is situated in a narrow side street (Al Nabarawy st.), Downtown, and soon after arriving the story telling begun.

This time the story telling event was entitled "Qalat Al Rawiyat… Ma Lamm Taqolhou Shahrazad" (The Female Story Tellers Say… What Shahrazad Never said) and as you can tell from the title it was based on the Arabian Nights except that they start from where Shahrazad left off, from the 1002nd night.

What I love about the stories is how subversive and empowering they are (for women, that is). In my favourite story Shahrazad is writing a letter to her sister, Doniazad, in which she describes her intimate relationship with her husband and asks her sister to burn the letter after reading it as they always do. Through the description of the development of their relationship Shahrazad emerges as the stronger partner while Shahrayar's apparent strength and tyranny are quickly discovered to be a cover for his weakness and lack of confidence.

While this story (written and told by Sahar El Mougy) shows Shahrazad as a very romantic and passionate woman, other stories show her as a clever and cunning woman or as a housewife trying to get rid of her husband's control.

Not all stories revolve around Shahrazad though, the majority of them are written in the form of stories that you could be reading from the original Arabian Nights with jinn and fairies and nymphs.

My two other favourite stories are that of "Sett Al Molk and the Bottles of Musk", written and read by Maha El Said and a romantic dialogue between Shahrazad and Shahrayar written by Mona Ibrahim. The first talks of a secret revolution for the right to dream and express oneself carried out by slave girls under the leadership of Sett El Molk the sister of the Caliph, while the second highlights the hypocrisy and the lies in men's promises to women.

In addition to the beautiful story telling techniques of the WMF members, the background music and the lighting were so perfect I regretted not taking my camera with me on this perfect night.

Luckily the stories told in this event were all collected along with some more stories in a book published by the WMF under the same title, and I bought myself copy.
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