I don't want to see stores looted or buildings burned; but African- Americans have been living in burning buildings for years, choking on smoke as flames burn closer and closer.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

That’s not a chip on my shoulder. That’s your foot on my neck.  – Malcolm X

"We must never, ever give up. We must be brave. We must be courageous." John Lewis, activist, congressman. 1940-2020 

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. ~ Dalai Lama

"Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public."  Professor Cornel West.

"Only by learning to live in harmony with your contradictions can you keep it all afloat."  Audre Lorde

"The serious function of racism is distraction". 1995, Toni Morrison; Portland lecture, Playing in The Dark

“If I tell the story, I control the version. Because if I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me.” Nora Ephron

"Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another." author Toni Morrison (1931- 2019)

“If I tell the story, I control the version. Because if I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me”; Nora Ephron, author/comedian

"Make your story count". Michelle Obama

"Social pain is understood through the lens of racial animus". Researcher/author Sean McElwee writing in Salon, 2016

"We are citizens, not subjects. We have the right to criticize government without fear."  Chelsea Manning; activist/whisleblower

“My father was a slave and my people died to build this country, and I’m going to stay right here and have a part of it, just like you, And no fascist minded people, like you, will drive me from it. Is that clear?” Paul Robeson; activist/singer

“We have a system of justice in this country that treats you much better if you're rich and guilty than if you're poor and innocent”. from civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson

“This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today?” Frederick Douglass, WHAT TO THE SLAVE IS 4TH JULY? 07.05.1852 (full text in blog)

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

"We are more alike than we are different" ~ Maya Angelou

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 singe


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.


“Tahrir is Here!” shout American protesters on Wall Street


by Barbara Nimri Aziz

Whoever thought the Arab people today would inspire an American democratic movement? Who ever thought Steve Jobs, Apple’s celebrated founder, reputed world changer and one of the most brilliant minds of the century, was Arab?  Who conceived a Yemini woman would be our 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate, that Syrian people would shout in their streets for freedom? 

Meanwhile back on Wall Street: young Americans have begun a sit-in, copying Egyptian youth who set up their workstations and tents and sleeping bags and heath centers in Tahrir Square. Within 3 weeks, the Occupy Wall Street movement, joined by unions and well known intellectuals, has sprung up in several cities. (Angelina, what are you waiting for?)

There is doubtless much that the West could learn from Arab peoples today. But they fail to see it and cannot acknowledge even the possibility. We in the Arab lands have abundant heroes and heroines, from those Iraqi doctors who stayed on, in impossible conditions to tend the sick through decades of sanctions, abandoned by their own western teachers, to our astute journalists and Palestinian poets from Suheir Hammad to Mahmoud Darwish, women and men who speak for the oppressed worldwide, to teachers and mothers who keep the promise of education in the forefront of the lives of young Arab girls and boys, to the men and women who search out cluster bombs dropped by Israeli bombers across their farms. There are the psychiatrists who treat our traumatized millions through war after war after war, and the courageous women and men of Syria. Their fortitude and creativity and generosity is unmatched. And if recognized for their courage, all these Arab minds would indeed arouse people everywhere.

But it was Cairo’s Tahrir encampments and outrage that is the model for young Americans on Wall Street-- the 99%. They are indeed the “99%ers” whose combined assets equal the 1% of America’s richest. One slogan at the Wall Street sit-in shouts “Tahrir is Here!” Here, in the financial capital of the world, the center of lustful, unmitigated greed and power. These demonstrators, like those in Tahrir Square, Cairo, are young and jobless; they too have college degrees (a sign-carrying protestor cries: ‘I lost a job, found an occupation’). They do not use the word ‘dictator’ to address their enemy, but the CEOs are indeed dictators; their tyranny applies across the globe. Neither do the “99%ers” utter the word corruption—not yet-- although what they oppose is the theft of their lives and hopes by corporations whose immunity is sanctioned by Washington, and who enjoy privilege and wealth of obscene proportion, while poverty and despair grow. The US government refuses to acknowledge the link between the unbridled license of banks and thedespair of millions of its citizens;  Washington also refuses to consider the cost of its wars as a source of the country’s economic woes; neither officials nor the rich will admit their profits are based on US imperialist polices. These young people make the connections. And finally their anger has found expression.

It is not as if the problem is a mystery. Analysts have been exposing the issue for years: take a statement by former US Treasury official and economist Paul Craig Roberts, as recently as September 30, 2011: “…..(US) wars and military attacks have cost American taxpayers in out-of-pocket and already-incurred future costs at least $4,000 billion dollars--one third of the accumulated public debt--resulting in a US deficit crisis that threatens the social safety net, the value of the US dollar and its reserve currency role, while enriching beyond all previous history the military/security complex and its apologists.”

What is this but corruption?

I often walk along Wall Street and note the undiminished delight of tourists having their photograph taken in front of the New York Stock Exchange. Do they realize that if they attempted to enter the sacred gate of NYSE, they would surely be pounced on and arrested?

All day and through the night, I see rows of black limousines, engines purring, waiting in the streets adjacent to Wall St. for their masters to emerge, then rushing them to their stately, gated homes. We never see the faces of the rich. No general traffic is permitted anywhere along Wall Street today; security throughout the area is very tight, day and night, seen and unseen. Surveillance cameras abound, as do police. Every year, more barriers are installed to protect these offices from would-be attackers. This is indeed the seat of empire.

For over a decade I have questioned the political naivety and despondency of Americans through the many wars, during the 2008 economic collapse, reading exposes of the reckless but filthy rich investors and bankers. Citizens accepted the powerlessness of  their government to reign in these ruthless corporations or to punish offenders. Watching people worldwide rally against food prices, corrupt officials, and impotent or lackey governments, I asked “Why are Americans not in the streets?”

Well, maybe they needed the example from Cairo. If the Egyptians could unseat their dictator, maybe their daring could be replicated in the USA. For the first time in more than 20 years, I am hopeful.

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We each begin in innocence;

We all become guilty.

Leonard Peltier, imprisoned Native American leader

Tahrir Diwan

a poem.. a song..
poem Rumi's "I am You"
by translator and interpreter Shahram Shiva

See poems and songs list

poem Allahu Ya Allah
Praises to the Prophet, by women of As-Siddiq Institute and Mosque

See audio list

Book review
Karen Armstrong's
Fields of Blood: Religion and The History of Violence
reviewed by BN Aziz.

See review list

Tahrir Team

Saadia Aslam
Read about Saadia Aslam in the team page.

See Tahrir Team

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