Forthcoming

Senator Elizabeth Warren "We're a country that is built on our differences; that is our strength, not our weakness"

 

Nov 5, 2018 A report on two pstate NY races:--CD 19, and NY State Senate 42. From Egypt and Tunisia new films by and about women-- "Youm el-Setat" and "El-Jaida"

Sept 24 Do war memoirs really advance education? Attacks on BDS and Americans' freedom of speech continues.

Sept 17-- Sport stars and politcal dissent stemming from Kaepernick's actions. NY State's Sept 13 Primaries

Sept 10  Assessing Muslim Americans' ongoing fight for Muslim rights, and in the context of today's election cycle.

Aug 27, Where are Muslim Americans in the US administration's immigrant purge?

Aug 20 Celebrating achievements-- Sam Anderson and Rosemari Mealy. And still more published memoirs fro Middle East peoples

August 1- The inexorable struggle for Palestinian rights

July 2, WBAI Radio  Exploring EXILE in American literature:--  "Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits", and "In The Light of What We Know".

June 25 EXILE in literature: a review of the novels "Cutting For Stone" and "A Thousand Years of Good Prayers".

June 18, The vicissitudes of Nepal's fledgling democracy. And a review of White House Ramadan "iftar" ceremonies.

June 11 The rentier economy of Jordan and current public protests. How the UK and US use Jordan. And celebrities' role in news.,

June 4 "Naila and The Uprising" a film memory of Palestinian resistance. And: why is Tariq Ramadan imprisoned?

April 30 How could detante in Korea affect other conflicts? And a look at our own role in plastic pollution.

April 23  The US mission creep into Syria, and more reviews of children's books about refugees. 

April 16  Why are Islamist rebels are being escorted out of the so called liberated areas, and where are they going? and a review of new Arab American memoirs 

April 9; Saudi Arabia's long and deep times with the US film industry. And we review the plethora of Arab women's memoirs

April 2 documenting war trauma. Do some war traumatized matter more than others? 

March 26 Iraq's neglected agricultural industry, and the persecution of Swiss-Arab Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan

March 19, Iraq today. And the legal challenges facing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against apartheid Israel.

March 12,Commentary on the fall of Myanmar's Ang Sang SuKyi; and recent observations for Iraq.

Jan 8, 7:45 am Film review of "Land of the Pomegranates", and an introduction to the American organization "Muslimish"

Nov 27, Russia and Syria: commentary on this longstanding relationship in the current international scene

Nov 20. A look at the new crisis created around Lebanon PM Hariri's resignation. Comments on a culture that's infused and spilling over with sexual predators.

Nov 13 Update on Kirkuk, Iraq. Veterans Day USA: Is celebration of war heros increasing?.

Nov 6, WBAI  News of Kirkuk, N. Iraq after the failed Kurdish referendum; Accusations towards male religious figures in ongoing sexual abuse exposes.

Sept 25: Syria update: the changing status quo and resulting change in US media coverage.. The Kurdish referendum

Sept 18: Myanmar's Ang San Su Kyi's eary history; beware of simplistic sectarian analyses

Sept 11: women as pawns in justifying American "wars to protect"

August 28, 7:45 am WBAI. Linda Sarsour, Arab American and US Muslim community leader: in her defence. Margo Shetterley author of "Hidden Figures"

Aug 21, WBAI Palestinian-American Rasmea Odeh, stripped of citizenship and deported this week.

Aug 14: BN Review of the anti-Israel boycott action in the US Congress. WBAI, 90.5 fm

July 10:  Nepal just completed its first election in 20 years for nationwide local admin posts.

July 3, WBAI Radio. "All politics is local":-- the hard work of using local news resources.

June 26: WBAI Radio We ask why is there no anti-war movement in the US? And: “Martyrdom”—an archaic phrase but a concept we need to think about today.

June 19  On the 50th anniversary of the 1967 war, and Israel's seemingly unstoppable political, diplomatic and territorial march, it’s remarkable that the Palestinian voice is heard at all.

June 12  The dilemma of 'moderate Amercian Muslims; following ReclaimNY , a child of Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer.

May 1, Workers Day, WBAI 99.5 fm. BN Aziz highlights the rise of the 'gig economy'

April 24, 7:45 WBAI 99.5 fm. A check on our progress as American Muslims; and, Lynne Stewart: the Peoples' Lawyer. 

See Ramzy Baroud's assessment on how our Muslim community misuses celebrity Muslims as surrogates for their own stuggle.

 

Monday April 17 WBAI Radio, NYC. Why is there essential no anti-war movement in the USA?

April 10;  A critical look at media coverage of the US assault on Syria; and an update on ReclaimNY.

B. Nimri Aziz weekly radio commentary on events around the globe and in the USA. Listen in at 99.5 fm, or online www.wbai.org where we are livestreamed.

"We are more alike than we are different"

  Maya Angelou

March 8, Women's Day Radio Specials  10-11 am on WJFF Radio, 90.5 fm, and 11:am on WBAI, 99.5 New York: B. Nimri Aziz interviews director Amber Fares about her new film "Speed Sisters" and exerpts from 2009-2010 interviews with professional women in Syria, Nadia Khost and Nidaa Al-Islam.

 

 

As a Black writer, I was expected to accept the role of victim. That made it difficult in the beginning to be a writer.      James Baldwin

I often feel that there must have been something that I should’ve done that I didn’t do. But I can’t identify what it is that I didn’t do. That’s the first difficulty. And the second is, what makes you think you’re it?   

         Harry Belafonte, activist and singer at 89

 

It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble; It's what you know for sure that just ainst so.

Mark Twain

 

You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you.

Mary Tyler Moore

 

 You can’t defend Christianity by being against refugees and other religions

Pope Francis:

 

"I don't have to be what you want me to be". Muhammad Ali

"The Secret of Living Well and Longer: eat half, walk double, laugh triple, and love without measure"  attributed to Tibetan sources

Recent audio posts include interviews with Rumi interpreter Shahram Shiva, London-based author Aamer Hussein, South African Muslim scholar, professor Farid Esack, and Iraqi journalist Nermeen Al-Mufti's brief account of Kirkuk City history. Your comments on our blogs are always welcome.

 

Mohammed Ghani Hikmat, 1929-2011 (see our Sept 27 podcast)

2011-09-19

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

To know Mohammed Hikmat Ghani was to know Iraq… well, Baghdad—vibrant, dynamic, proud, all-embracing. With a long, productive career, his work valued by museums and collectors internationally, Ghani the sculptor needs no introduction.

I first met Ghani in 1990 on my initial visit to Baghdad. It was a propitious encounter since through him, I made many good friends who helped me understand and like Iraq. Our encounter moved from a professional relationship-- I first interviewed him about his work for a US magazine-- to an enduring friendship with the entire family.

I remained close to Ghani and his wife, archeologist Gaya Rahal, up to the time we last met, a year ago at their home in exile in Jordan. His son Yasser, with his wife Rana, and their children, had just left for overseas. Ghani was so sad he could not talk about it. He was never a person lost for words, so we knew this separation was very hard for him.

Whatever the misfortunes of his homeland, the absent friends, and his personal disappointments, Ghani never relaxed his enormous energy as a sculptor, and his artistic imagination never flagged. That week in Amman, he had had a hugely successful exhibition of recent work. “All sold”, he said, with some astonishment. “I have new orders from many people who were too late to buy a piece in the show. I have to start working again, immediately.”

Collectors of Ghani’s recent work are Iraqis in the Diaspora, especially those living in Jordan. He was proud of this, proud that his people, despite recent hardships and material losses, continued to value art and the work of Iraqi artists in particular. Indeed, since 1991, the year when UN-US sanctions were imposed on Iraq, the Jordanian capital had emerged into something of a regional art center—this largely due to the influx of Iraqi artists driven there by lack of materials, by the closure of museums, and due to the decline of Iraq’s middle class who had supported the arts in their homeland.

The only time I witnessed a hiatus in Ghani’s production was during the US bombing of Iraq in early 1991. He was angry and shocked and would never forgive the Americans for that assault. During those 42 days, before he could repair his bombed studio, under siege, confined to his home, Ghani occupied himself assembling a photographic collection of his work—sketches, photographs and notes from his entire career. He set about preparing this for publication. (Indeed, within months it was printed, now certain to become a collector’s item.) In this he recruited the help of his skillful and devoted daughter Hajjar.)

Ghani often recalled his years in Rome, and kept in touch with fellow artists there. He knew Italian so well that when conversing in English, which he did with relative fluency, he spoke with an Italian accent.  Whenever lost for an English word, he quickly substituted with an Italian. This Iraqi’s conversation in English was often colorfully peppered with Italian.

During his exile in Amman, Ghani resumed his work, and to a degree the family’s social life continued. Any meeting after 7 pm with Ghani and Gaya was bound to be an Iraqi party; down the street or across town, Iraqi friends were gathering, and if I was in town, I accompanied them. Invariably I was gratified by hilarity and uplifting company. It was the same in Baghdad where I spent time with the Ghani family on every one of my dozens of visits there during the 13 years of sanctions from 1990-2003.

At their modest Baghdad home the atmosphere was always relaxed; I often joined Ghani and Gaya in the evening to find myself among Iraq’s most accomplished musicians, artists and scholars, among them oud master and composer Munir Bashir, literary critic Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, artist Laila Al-Attar, archeologist Walid Al-Jadir; with others, they made Baghdad the dynamic and vital city it was. Of course all that changed as the merciless sanctions took their toll, driving people out of the country, striking down many with illness or despair.

During the day, whether in Iraq or in exile, Ghani was not to be seen. He had a strict regime—at work in his studio by 9 am, an hour for lunch, then back to work until seven in the evening-- even at the age of 82. He was not to be disturbed when at work. Not even Gaya ventured into the studio. Only Yasser, in the years that he was an apprentice to his father, might be in the studio with him. I was once in his workplace, only because I was to interview him about his career, arguing that it was essential for me to be with him among the mock-ups and his finished pieces while we talked.

Ghani and his family survived the sanctions, but not without difficulties.

 “Never”, said Ghani; “these sanctions will never reach inside my house”. So he kept the mood upbeat, and an open door for guests including his children’s school friends. Although those sanctions did invade even this home—nothing could withstand that brutal, cold-blooded assault. The death or departure of friends and neighbors took its toll; still Ghani stayed on. It was not until the American led invasion, bringing threats to his family and the ransacking of the museums, that he went into exile. Before long though, in Amman, he was at work again.

“The mayor of Baghdad has asked me to return”, he told me in 2010. There will be work there for me. But as long as my country is occupied, I shall not go.”

The determined mayor persisted it seems, and finally last October, Ghani revisited his country. It was a bitter-sweet encounter. However, the sculptor did agree to design a series of pieces for the city. Back in Amman, in his final months, as he was failing, Ghani worked with his son Yasser to direct the details of the casting and the installation of his last works—four new sculptures to be erected in Baghdad. When they are installed, they will partner with the already well known Ghani landmarks in Baghdad to decorate this city he called his “most beautiful lady”.

Today his body rests there, a final wish of Ghani, awaiting these new installations.

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