Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Alexandria

Shantytown gone: And Movie pictures stay. 

Where is this Mafrouza shantytown in Egypt?

Shantytown Mafrouza, in Alexandria (Egypt), by the Greco-Roman necropolis, is now long gone.

Luckily, between 1999 and 2003, Emmanuelle Demoris spent two years filming the shantytown and the daily living of these poor families.  The movie director Jean Gruault decided to produce the long 5 movies, two hours and a half long each!

Initially, the project of Emmanuelle Demoris was to capture the relationship between the living and the dead, and stumbled of the shantytown Mafrouza: How practical and handy for the subject.

Like the current reality TV series, the inhabitants in Mafrouza got used to the filming every day.  “She is filming you girl.  Is that why you are turning your back?” would say a woman.

The five long movies showed the inundations, wedding ceremonies, separations, baking of daily bread under the rain, amorous dates, daily routine of a shop, tentative of taking over a mosque by Moslem fundamentalists, resistance, births,…

Non-entity people, brothers and sisters, who learned to conquer their fears facing the monsters of video equipment that were taking pictures of the real living conditions…

Typical Mafrouza people:  Current events of “Arab Spring” revolts have uncovered these typical Mafrouza people, many who were filmed and no longer exist, vanished from the reality of the living, “gone with the wind”, still existing in movies they have never taken seriously, another dimension to their daily living…

Note 1: Mafrouza in the Arabic language means a Real Estate that is subdivided. The inhabitants of Mafrouza must have known that their shantytown is going to be demolished by the oligarchy in order to build luxury hotels with view to the sea.

Note 2: This article was inspired by a piece published in the French weekly Le Nouvel Obsevateur and written by critic Pascal Merigau

Myth feeding on myths; (Feb. 19, 2010)

            I was reading a special issue of a French magazine on slavery and black literature and was taken aback by this strong and inevitable tendency of black intellectuals and black soul songs paying particular attention to the myth of Moses leading “his people” from Egypt to freedom.  This myth appears to form the cornerstone for what slaves in America wished to be a replica process to their emancipation.

            Without any exception, all black authors, intellectuals, orators, preachers, political and social leaders, from Olaudah Equiano (1745-97), to Frederick Douglas, to Du Bois, to Langston Hughes, to Frantz Fanon, to Martin Luther King, to Stokeley Carmichael, and even Malcolm X could not help but regurgitate the Moses myth to expressing their yearning for emancipation and human dignity.

            I don’t mind that a culture resurrects a myth to be upon their set of values.  Actually, the basic characteristic of a myth is that it is beautiful, especially the awesome imaginative creations, expressions on life, and good finally vanquishing evil. I have problem when people fail to recognize a myth and take it at face value as real story in history.  I have problem when black Protestants and Baptists go beyond the myth into coinciding it with Zionist movement ideology.  This is very odd since Zionism chased out people from their land and ended up establishing an apartheid “homeland”

            It is important to recognize that the story of Moses is a myth, a fantastic and emotionally encompassing myth, where slaves flee to freedom and survive hardship of desert climate and the multitude of tribal revolts under the guise of worshiping other Gods and a variety of multiple semi-Gods.  It is a myth even though we may fabricate reasonable conjectures to constructing feasible occurrence. One of the conjectures is that not all the fleeing people were slaves and not all were non Egyptians.  People fled when the ancient class of priesthood who adored God Amon overturned the only God Aton (the Sun) that King Akhenaton instituted.

            The story of Moses is a myth since there are no tangible proofs either in writing (in any language) or existing artifacts that may shed any bit of reality. If we know that the Old Testament was written in around 200 BC in Alexandria then what has been transferred as oral stories should not constitute factual happenings but smart stories reflecting customs, traditions, and set of values of people.

            Faith in one God, creator of man and the universe, has nothing to do with considering stories and sayings of assigned “prophets” to be adopted as act of faith.  You may like or dislike a few stories; you may adopt in actions and behavior what a few “prophets” said but there are no harms admitting that these myths describe reasonable ways of living, attitudes, and behaviors.

            I can understand why Malcolm X had to talk about Moses: he was a black Moslem and Islam combined the Jewish and Christian Books as intrinsic part of Islam faith.  I got into thinking. If it was not for Islam that sheltered and protected Jews from persecution of the Byzantium Empires then the Jewish religion would have disappeared.  The Zionist movement is a scorpion that could not help but sting its benefactor and protector from extinction.  The Zionist movement through its racist and apartheid system has driven many Moslems into extreme tendencies to be freed from occupation and apartheid domination in Palestine.

            I got into thinking that the limited and racist Neo-Conservative “Christians” in south USA got impressed by the beautiful and soul searching Negro soul songs and music referring to Old Testament stories; those tight-assed conservatives revised the fantastic lyrics and rhythms into petrified ideology.  It is unfortunate that diamonds, more often than not, fall on pork’s ears.

The barbaric Catholic Church; (October 13, 2009)

 

            There is a resurgence of Islamophobia in France couched under the pretext of discovering the origins of European civilization as a combination of Greek and Christian cultures. It would be worthwhile to set the historical facts straight for any meaningful reply.

            Since 325 AC to around 700 AC there was a Christian Empire dominated by Byzantium with Capital in Constantinople. This empire was to the east of the Euphrates River, crossing Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, all the way to England and including North Africa. It was basically a Mediterranean Sea Empire.  To the west of the Euphrates River there was a Persian Empire, mostly under the Sassanide Dynasty.  The Arabic Empire did not conquer the western part of Turkey which remained with the Byzantium Empire until 1450 when the Ottoman Sultan Muhammad 2 entered Constantinople and spread all the way to the borders of Vienna in Austria.

            In around 1000 a major schism in Christianity split the Catholic Church of Rome with the Christian Orthodox Church of Constantinople. Actually, the initial Crusade campaigns had for objective to conquer Constantinople and coerce the Orthodox Church into uniting with Rome. That is what took place and Constantinople was ransacked and burned before the Crusading forces marched on toward Jerusalem. The other successive Crusading incursions had for objective to capture Egypt and free the spice routes directly to Europe without paying taxes to the Moslem Kingdoms along the maritime and land caravan routes.

            Thus, from 325 to 1450 Europe was Christian.  Why Greek civilization, if Europe insists on taking the source of its culture from antique Greece, was not prevalent during over 11 centuries?  Why Europe remained barbaric till the 15th century?  Is it because the Christian dogma of Rome was barbaric and refused other civilizations and cultures to infiltrate Europe?  Certainly the Christian clerics were at least bilingual, mostly Latin and Greek, and consequently, if Greece had any culture it would have been translated into Latin. Some would give the lame excuse that the scholars in Europe, mostly the clerics, could read the Greek manuscripts in their original forms and had no need to translate any manuscripts into Latin or other live languages; this would be another proof that the Catholic Church of Rome was barbaric and refused philosophical and scientific disciplines to penetrate into Europe.

            Europe experienced a demographic surge around 1000 AC; it is after getting in contact with the Near East culture and civilization (under Arabic/Islamic kingdoms) during the Crusading campaigns that culture entered Europe from the open door.  Even after the total defeat of the Crusaders in 1200 the Near East culture permeation would continue via Andalusia in southern Spain. The Arabic/Moslem civilization in Spain was the main source for the transfer of sciences into Europe until the “Christian” Spanish monarchs conquered completely Spain in around 1400 and chased out Moslems and Jews from its territory.

            Greece after Aristotle did not produced much in culture.  It was just a brilliant century for the City-State of Athens during Pericles period, as so many glorious periods for a dozen other City-States that dotted the Mediterranean shores and the Euphrates River, from Mary, Harran, Edessee, Ugharite, Tripoli, Byblos, Beirut, Sidon, Tyr, and much later Alexandria, Antiochus, and Ephesus, and on that scholars and archeologists have to start focusing on for the origins of civilizations.  The proof is that the Byzantium Empire that was established in Greece for over 11 centuries is no where mentioned as source for any worthwhile civilization.

            Macedonian warriors under Alexander conquered the Near East; it is not because the Near East people, from Alexandria, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and coastal Turkey, who assimilated the Greek language and spread their own culture and civilization in the Greek language that Europe has to claim its civilization to Greece. Europe should not. It is the Near East culture and civilization that assimilated the languages of the various conquerors (Mesopotamians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs from the Arabic Peninsula, Ottomans from the Turkish Plateau, French colonialism, and English colonialism) that absorbed and disseminated the fundamental cultures and civilizations to its neighboring environment.  

            It is not because of the invasion of nomadic warriors from the Arabic Peninsula that Arabic civilization should be labeled Arab.  Why the Mogul Empires that lasted longer than many Empires and stretched much further than many are not given any civilization?  It is a shame that Europe still feels the urge to attribute civilization to military conquering warriors.

 

Note: The title was meant to be catchy to drive through the purpose of the topic. I have no zeal to dwell into religions of any kinds. I would like readers to refer to my recent post “Damascus saved the Greek culture”.

Damascus saved the ancient Greek culture; (October 10, 2009)

 

            The German philosopher Heidegger stated: “Philosophy is purely Greek” and thus, the European love to believe that philosophy is purely a western conception. In “Aristotle at mount St. Michel”, the latest book of Sylvain Guggenheim, it is said in substance that Europe would not have needed the Arab civilization to accede to the Greek heritage in philosophy and sciences and that it is the Christian “Arabs” who introduced Hellenisms in the Islamic-Arab world. It goes on “As a religion, Islam didn’t offer anything to the European civilization, neither textual reference nor theological argument. It goes also in the legal and political domains.”

           

I got into thinking.

            The Islamic armies defeated the Byzantium forces of Heracles in Syria and the Persian Sassanide forces in Iraq and expanded into Egypt during the second Caliphate Omar Ibn Khattab.  Within five years, the Umayyad dynasty of Moawiyat decided on Damascus for Capital of the new Arab Empire.

            Damascus was the hotbed of most of the Orthodox Christian sects that paid allegiance to the center in Byzantium and they were learned in the Greek language along with the Aramaic popular language.  The “heretic” Christian sects had fled beyond the Euphrates River to the kingdom of Persia.

            The Arab Umayyad dynasty relied on the Orthodox Christian educated people to translate Greek philosophy, medicine, mathematics, and science manuscripts into the Arabic language; the Aramaic language was the root language for the spoken Arabic language in the Arabic Peninsula and thus it was easy for the Syrian to adopt Arabic and translate the Greek and Roman manuscripts.

            It is not that the Near East people just loved the ancient Greek manuscripts of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Euripides, and Sophocles. It is more likely that most of the Greek schools of sciences, philosophy, and medicine were erected by Greek speaking scholars born on the Mediterranean shores from Alexandria, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey; those famous scholars span from Euclid, Thales, Heracles, Plotine, Zenon, Ptolemy, and passing by the great law givers and founders of the Roman Empire located in Beirut.

            If the new Islamic Empire failed to settle on Damascus as Capital and opted to stay in Medina then it is very likely that the Greek manuscripts and culture would have vanished during the hegemony of the Arabic Empire.

 

I got into thinking.

            If in the nick of time, the fourth Caliphate Ali ibn Abi Taleb decided not to defeat and pursue the army of Mouawiyat then the Capital of the Islamic Arab Empire would have been Koufa in Iraq.  The ancient culture of Persia would have been the civilization of the land from the confine of China to England.  What the European scholars love to label their race as Indo-European would have been a more fitting name: the Persian-Indian culture and civilization.

 

I got into thinking.

            If the Prophet Muhammad did not adopt the Jewish Bibles and the Christian New Testaments as integral part of Islam in an attempt of consolidating common denominators among these monotheist religions then what kind of Christianity Europe would be having today?

            Damascus saved the ancient Greek language. Damascus saved its culture.  Like it or not, the European should be proud of their real Near Eastern heritage along the eastern Mediterranean shores. (More on that topic in following posts).

Jesus is denied the Sanhedrin; (September 20, 2009)

 

            Thus, Jesus accompanied by large numbers of followers is marching slowly toward Jerusalem. Jesus and most of his disciples are apprehensive of entering this hostile city of Jerusalem; they belong to a Jewish sect Essonite (Essenian) who worships in the Great Temple on Mount Carmel. The Sanhedrin in Jerusalem has infiltrated the masses of followers and is luring Jesus to advance.  The Sanhedrin formed of the highest priests of the Pharisee and Sadducee sects have no administrative, religious, or political hold on Jesus in the countries of his peregrination. (Read https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/09/19/complete-story-of-jesus-visit-to-jerusalem/)

            Jesus camped outside Jerusalem City limits and enjoyed a triumphal entrance on Sunday; he was acclaimed “Glory to son of man” (Oshana Ibn al Inssan).  Jesus returned to outside the city limits and sent Judas Iscariot (a genuine Jew from the tribe of Benjamin in south Palestine) to negotiate a formal meeting with the highest priests of the Sanhedrin.

            The Sanhedrin had gathered through intelligence on Jesus; it knew that Jesus of Galilee was the “son of Marie”; it was convinced, and their rumors aided a lot, that Joseph was not the legitimate father of Jesus; Mathew poured oil on the fire by relating a not convincing story 60 years later. I don’t care one way or another who was the real father of Jesus but everyone else at that period did care and must have known, especially the Sanhedrin. The Jews named the sons and, especially, the eldest son after the patriarch of the family.  The Sanhedrin knew that Jesus was a “gentile” who was circumcised by law during the century old Macabe Kingdom and were coerced to follow the Jewish rituals. Jesus sect the Essonite had many headquarters outside Galilee; it had the largest and most flourishing center in Alexandria and other centers in Damascus in Mesopotamia. Jesus was a high priest in that sect.  The Essonite sect read from their own Books and the educated members were very literate in Greek philosophy and Indian theologies; they preached mostly Gnostic messages while adhering to the strict Jewish laws and rituals.

            Initially, Jesus was to disseminate the Essonite message in Galilee and around Damascus. Then, on the third year of wandering in the vicinities Jesus was assigned the task of including the Essonite as a formal sect in the Sanhedrin along side the Pharisee and Sadducee sects. It was fundamentally the job of imposing reforms within the Sanhedrin to unite all Jewish sects under common denominators. Jesus entered Jerusalem in a strong show of force; his followers were numerous, a credible entity, and willing to accept Jerusalem as one of their main religious centers for worship.

            Judas was lured into believing that a meeting is scheduled on Thursday.  The Sanhedrin was not about to permit Jesus in the Holy of Holy of the Jewish organization; Jesus was to face humiliation and an appropriate punishment for spreading a different message to the masses. Judas must have told Jesus that the Sanhedrin position was to apprehend Jesus for questioning before any decision of formal meeting could be contemplated. Jesus realized that his mission has failed and that he is trapped; the chances were very slim to meet the high priest at equal footing but it was an opportunity not to avoid. Jesus ordered Judas to lead the apprehending force.  The customs were that anyone with high rank or standing should be apprehended with someone of equal ranking; since no high priest was to lead the force then Judas is bestowed the rank of brother; honor was saved.  Indeed, the kiss of Judas to Jesus at Gethsemane was of equal ranks nature; Judas was thus to lead the disciple in periods of emergencies.  The swift trial and execution dashed any hope for further leadership.  Jack, the brother of Jesus and not even one of Jesus’ followers or believer in his message, was anointed leader of the congregation: customs are hard to break. In any case, the third of the original disciples were close relatives of Jesus and of the same town of Qana (Lebanon).

            Most probably Judas hoped that Jesus will have at least an occasion to expose and discuss his proposal; he had no idea that the events were planed to end into putting Jesus to death and even crucifixion, the lowest forms of execution. Jesus loved Judas and Judas’ family and this love was returned.  Judas could not imagine the Sanhedrin behaving for these kinds of humiliations and mistreatments. 

            Judas did not flee; he stayed in Jerusalem and bought a piece of land. Judas was not scared of the disciples who were huddled in secrecy and scared for their lives; actually, Judas didn’t have the heart of meeting with this bunch of cowards who followed Jesus in triumph and failed to support him in time of need: they would have had a stoke assuming that he might be leading the Pharisee forces to their hideout.  Judas followed ordered; he was the man for the hard missions, and he had no excuses to offer to anyone.  There are two stories: Judas hanged himself or he fell from a wall while working in his olive field. Both versions are plausible; I am inclined that Judas had the courage to decide for his own destiny. He was a leader, he had a mission, he failed, and he must commit suicide.

            The first martyr, the Greek educated Saint Etienne (Estephanous), was lapidated to death shortly after Jesus crucifixion. The Nazarene congregation in Jerusalem (as they were called for over 30 years after Jesus crucifixion), was headed by Jack (brother of Jesus).  Jack easily stroked a deal with the Sanhedrin; mainly with the Pharisee sect within the Sanhedrin. It seems that the terms were acceptable to Jack and most of the original ultra conservative disciples who observed the Jewish laws even stingier than the majority of the Jews in Jerusalem. This moratorium with the Sanhedrin could not have been reached without the initial attempt by Jesus and Judas Iscariot.

            A barely tenable coexistence went on for another 20 years until Jack was lapidated to death; the “Christians” fled Jerusalem and settled first in Qana (the birth town of Virgin Mary in Lebanon) before pushing further on to all directions.  I contend that most of the Essonite members in these vicinities joined the Nazarenes.  It is during this peaceful period that St. Paul visited the Nazarene congregation three times in Jerusalem. Saint Paul transformed the Essonite sect from one of the Jewish sects into a new religion with world ramifications.

 

Note 1: The Prophet Muhammad was initially a convert to an Essonite Christian sect in Mecca (the Arabic Peninsula).  The first 13 years of Muhammad’s message was to unite the three main Christian sects in the Peninsula under a common denominator dogma. The religion of Muhammad deleted most of the abstract concepts in the Byzantium “orthodox” Christian religion into a down to earth and simple dogma that could be understood by the Arabic tribes. (read “Common denomenator prophet”)

 

Note 2: The Christian Copts in Alexandria (Egypt), mostly of Essonite sources, converted to Islam: there were no major theological differences between their brand of Christian dogma and Islam. This principle applies to many Christian sects in Syria, Lebanon, and Mesopotamia (Iraq) when Islam conquered all these lands.

“Ain Wardet” (Village) by Jabbour Douweihy (Book Review, April 26, 2009)

 

Note: I like a novel to be told chronologically; Ain Wardet was not; it is in Arabic and was translated into French.  I could not read it in one trait but as I finished the third of the story then I knew that I had to review it.  A general event becomes a particular one; a common person takes the dimension of an individual. I started taking notes knowing that the review will be in chronological order, no matter what: the reader of review needs clarity before he gets excited to venture on the original manuscript.

 

It is the family of Al Baz (Hawk) that immigrated to Egypt and settled in Alexandria; it made a fortune and got bankrupt as the price of cotton plummeted.  The grand parent Francis Senior remembered that he had a country of origin and relative in Lebanon and they returned home.  Francis Sr. built a large house in the mountainside village of Ain Wardet (Rose Eye or Rose Fountain) and close to the Capital Beirut.

The Al Baz carried on the traditions and celebrations of Alexandria for many years and clung to friends from Alexandria.  They could speak Egyptian Arabic slang but wrote in French.

The first generation of Al Baz is of Francis Jr., Massoud, and Nouhad.  Massoud was simple minded and pissed anywhere outside when the urge demanded.  Massoud predicted his death to the hour and removed all the patron saints pictures in his room before he died; for example, Saint Joseph disliked people who never used the proper tools.

Nouhad was a tiny spinster that played the matriarch and she maintained the household and the family “status and honor”.  At the end of any serious disagreement with the family she would declare “If I am a burden then I am going up to pack and leave”.  Nouhad was a prude girl and never admitted that girls should entice men for marriage because either you fall in love or you don’t.  She ended suffering from Alzheimer and moved to a retirement community in Bhorsaf.

Francis was led by the director of the internal security to believe that he would be candidate to the parliament on the list of the President of the Republic.  In return, Francis had to accommodate an Arab tribe in his basement that moved from Syria and were given Lebanese citizenship.  Consequently, Francis would have the authority to buy and sell over 200 heads of the eligible tribal members at election times.  As the patriarch of the tribe told it the tribe was located in Mohammara near Homs.  One morning an infant stopped suckling and cried pointing westward. The tribe took down the tents and moved for months, guided by the baby’s finger, until they reached a mountain side in Lebanon; then, suddenly the baby stopped crying and his smile showed his only two front teeth.

Francis married Julia of Beirut.  Julia was the only kid in her family and educated at a French nuns school; the French Admiral would arrive with his fleet as her dad was in Jerusalem trading gold.  Nouhad had no liking for Julia and saw to it that no furniture should be displaced.  Francis had Joujou, Rida, and Sara.

Joujou was over 35 when he married Marguerite, a very young Austrian girl studying archeological artifacts in Lebanon during summer.  Rida was a master chess player, aloof, and strong headed; at the age of 10 Rida demanded his own chair at the dining table; he wrote and posted the dishes that he didn’t like, and the family did its best not to antagonize Rida.  Sara married a Moslem contractor working in Kuwait.

By the time the civil war in Lebanon started the family was already financially broke but the house and the land could not be sold; a special contract called “Progeny inheritance” with clauses that postulated that only the third generation could dispose of the property or any function made of it.  This clause prevented Marguerite to carry on her dream project of transforming the first floor as European restaurant.

Rida fell in love head over toe with Nadia and they began reading the 7 volumes of Marcel Proust’s “Reminiscence of lost times”.  I will skip this enchanting tale of love story.  Nadia died of car accident and Rida decided to isolate in his room.  The war trauma generated whiteness in Rida’s fingers that progressed to cover his face.  I will skip the corny tale of Rida encounter of the Arab “Femme Fatal” who was abused by her brothers for gain.  I have already published a chapter of the war events under the title “Siege Attitudes…”  Good reading.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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