Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Dar Al Saki

Memoirs of a Nobel Peace Prize: Shireen Abadi on Iran Islamic Revolution; (Mar. 10, 2010)

Iranian lawyer and judge, Shireen Abadi, received Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for defending Iranian civil and human rights.

She was a renowned judge during the Shah’s regime and then supported the nascent Iranian revolution in 1979 before it turned fundamental Islamic.

Shireen (Shirine) is banished from Iran and has published in English “Iran awakening: memoirs of revolution and hope, (2006)”.  This manuscript was translated into Arabic by Hussam Itani and published by “Dar al Saki” in 2010.

In autumn of 2000, judge Abadi stumbled on a nerve wracking file: An Iranian information minister had previously ordered the assassination of Abadi.  Before Khomeini returned to Iran after 14 years of absence in February 1979, Shereen was demonstrating in the streets to oust the Shah of Iran.  As Khomeini stepped out the airplane he was asked “How do you feel today?”  He replied “I feel nothing.”  That was a bad omen for a start.

Judge Abadi never wore the veil in her life.

The newly appointed temporary general secretary to the ministry of justice after the revolution asked Abadi to wear the veil.  She refused; he said: “Do it out of faith at least”.

This judge, Fateh Allah Bani Sadr, was the brother of the next President of the Islamic Republic Hassan Bani Sadr.  Fateh Allah was soon demoted and when his brother was elected President,  Fateh Allah offered Abadi the post of the President legal counselor; she declined.  The appointed counselor was executed as soon as Hassan Bani Sadr was deposed!

The next day, judge Abadi parked her car in front of the Justice Palace.  She noticed that motorcycles replaced cars; judges and personnel were wearing dirty robes to prove love for poverty; she could not smell cologne or perfume; the staunchest Shah’s supporters turned staunch Islamic revolutionaries.  People have been changing outfits for a new role in the play.

It is said that Ayatollah Talkani who was appointed to re-write the Constitution shouted “What are those shameful luxury sofas and couches?” He sat on the ground for a couple of hours and then decided that sofas were far more comfortable.

There were strong rumors that women would be banished from judgeship: they were not focused, lacked determination, and are generally lazy.

Abadi refused the higher post of court investigator because she sensed that the intention was to rob her of her chair as judge. She was finally ordered to the position of assistant to research department!

In November of 1979, a group of adolescents took over the US Embassy and took captives for 444 days; Khomeini was jubilant but most Iranians felt that the revolution has deteriorated.

Actually, the Islamic revolution was losing momentum and support until the US ordered Saddam Hussein of Iraq to invade Iran in 1980.

The Iranian people had no choice but to support the existing Islamic regime against the aggressors.

During 8 years of this insane war that left over one million dead and several millions injured the Islamic Revolution felt free to execute thousands of intellectuals and liberal-minded people. Abadi did a simple calculation and figured out from the monthly toll of executed citizens to the number of the population that her turn will soon come within 8 years.

Thousands of adolescents were sent to the front as living mine sweepers.

Every morning, two dozens of martyrs “Shaheed” were prayed upon in front of the Justice Palace.  Abadi finally shut off her windows, even during summer, in order not to hear the prayers and laments and find a corner to cry her eyes out.

Note: I was eye witness to the revolutionary zeal of the Iranians at the university campus of Norman (Oklahoma).

Almost everyday, half a dozen Iranian political parties crisscrossed the campus in demonstrations, discussion groups, and participating in meetings.  An Islamic Republic was not in the agenda of most of the parties: they just wanted the Shah’s regime out and a new regime in.

It is documented that US oil multinationals were displeased with the Shah leading OPEC oil producers for ever higher oil prices to cover his megalomania expenses and military dominance of the Persian Gulf region.

“Farewell Beirut”, by Mai Ghoussoub , (November 14, 2008)

Farewell Beirut is fundamentally an autobiography and is of 220 pages and containing 15 chapters of short detailed stories that late Mai Ghoussou witnessed.

Mai Ghoussoub, a writer, sculpture, theater promoter, and a co-founder of the publishing house Dar Al Saki, was 54 when she died of complication from a surgery in London on February 17, 2007.

Mai participated in the Lebanese civil war by caring for the downtrodden Palestinians living in shantytown of refugee camps. She lost an eye by a rocket that hit her car while aiding in a clinic of Nabaa in East Beirut, and she suffered greatly for three years out of that injury.  Mai decided to leave Lebanon in 1979 and lived for a while in Paris and then moved to London.

Mai suggested to her old school friend Andre Caspar, who was hitchhiking in the USA, to join her and open a library that would offer Arabic books and manuscript.  The library led to instituting the publishing house Dar Al Saki in 1983. Mai married Hazem Saghieh, a writer and newspaper editor.

During an art exhibition in Shore Ditch London, Mai and her Israeli actress friend Anna Sharbati donned Moslem attires and held tennis rackets to stir any climate of conservatism in London, but nobody noticed them.

Mai recalls that at the age of 12, she was attached to her French teacher Nomie.  To please her teacher she wrote a lengthy fictitious essay that ended with an injunction for revenge on harms done to her.  Nomie gave her only 10 out of 20 points because the want for revenge is the basest of emotions… Mai retained that lesson and struggled with it most of her turbulent life, especially during part of the civil war.

First story.

Tiny and sickly Latifa was barely 9 years old when her Syrian father “rented” her for a year to work as maid (house helper). Latifa was to get up before any member of the family and go to bed in a corner of the kitchen after every member was asleep and work non-stop most of the time. Latifa, treated worse than a slave, endured all the miseries and humiliations. Latifa’s father used to show up drunk once a year to be paid without even bringing his daughter a token of a gift or spending any time with her.

Latifa was raped by the eldest son of the family and she was no longer permitted to leave the apartment. During the civil war in Lebanon, tiny Latifa was to brave the snipers and rockets to bring food to the family.  Latifa joined the militias of the neighborhood and moved with them; she covered her face with a hood (cagoule) so that nobody would recognize her, but her large eyes could not conceal her.  Latifa never took revenge on her “masters”, but tried her best to move forward.

Latifa got famous as “Um Ali”, and one of the toughest fighters in Beirut.  She was killed mysteriously and her “masters” had no photo of her to plaster it on the street in remembrance of a “martyr”.  Latifa lived incognito and died incognito.

Second story.

Said was the only son of the owner of a small grocery.  His family was constantly worried for his upbringing.  Said was a short, stocky, jovial and smiling helper; he delivered the groceries to the homes and was liked by the entire neighborhood; he wanted to join the “hospitality” business.

The civil war changed Said: he joined the militias and became a tough fighter.  There were plenty of rumors about Said’s deeds during the war; a sniper, a blackmailer, a leader of a group of fighters and anything that warriors are expected to end up doing among scared and humiliated citizens.

Said opened a small hotel after the war.  The author was unable to label a definitive judgment opinion on Said as she recalled him when Mai was settled overseas.  Can a man be fundamentally good and change to the opposite when circumstances change?

Third story.

Hashem is an Iranian refugee in Beirut, fleeing the new Khomeini Islamic regime.  Hashem is well like and funny and has strong and definite positions against the Western States and cultures.  He immigrated to Denmark during the Lebanese civil war and married the tall, beautiful and blonde Kirsten.  Kersten did her best to assimilate Hashem’s culture and tradition; she befriended his friends, learned to cook Iranian and Lebanese dishes, helped bring Hashem’s family to Denmark and had promised him to wear the veil when they decide to return to Iran or settle in Lebanon.

Hashem fell in love with Maria, a Chilean girl, while attending a Danish language center.  Maria didn’t care for Hashem’s friends or even his health; all she cared for was her relationship with Hashem.  Kirsten didn’t like the situation; she never reprimanded Hashem verbally: her eyes and silence and posture expressed her displeasure.

Hashem was killed in Danmark in 1989; Kirsten set up an official obituary in her church and in the mosque; she organized the funeral to its minute details and delivered the eulogy; she persisted on keeping Hashem’s memory every year and obliterated Maria from the picture. From now on Hashem solely belongs to Kirsten.

Mai volunteered her aid in the clinic of the Chatila Palestinian camp at the start of the civil war; she cataloged the medicines and shelved them accordingly. A young Palestinian leader visited the camp and saw Mai; he sent one of his sbirs to fetch Mai to his headquarter. Mai and Abu Firas enjoyed a secret amorous affair for long time until Mai’s brother got injured.  Abu Firas made the error of visiting Mai at the hospital; Mai’s family and acquaintances got wind of her marginal affair and she had to leave Lebanon to Paris when her brother recovered.

Mai never carried a weapon or engage in any skirmishes.  Mai was comfortably installed in Paris when she received a long distance call from Lebanon; Mai refused to take the call of Abu Firas:  instead, she wandered in the streets of Paris to relieve the anxiety of the onslaught of her memory of the civil war.

Mai had questions nagging at her “would she ever be able to convince herself that she didn’t participate in the civil war?”, “would she be able to erase the facts that she met assassins and didn’t oppose their deeds?”

One thing that Mai is convinced of is that she allied to mercenaries on ideological grounds and let her country go to hell.




March 2023

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