“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"


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 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.



Move Over
by Barbara Nimri Aziz

We are the spreaders of payer rugs
in highway gas stations at dawn.
We are the fasters at company banquets
before sunset in Ramadan.
We wear veils and demin,
prayer caps and T-shirts.
We don't know what to do at weddings:
wear white and cut the cake,
or red and receive garlands,
sing rap songs or rap tambourines.
It doesn't matter.
We will intermarry
and co-mingle
and multiply.
Oh, how we'll multiply
the number of Mohammed-loving Muslims
in the motley miscellany of the land.

Mohja Kahf


"Move Over" is the title of a poem by Mohja Kahf. And for me it is a statement that Western feminists need to hear. It is time for Western feminists to step aside and let women from other parts of the world speak. Why is it that feminists who serve as book editors and conference organizers urge me to talk about my victimization at the hands of my brother, husband, or another Arab man? Why won’t they hear me explain the injustices of Western actions, for example, in the Gulf War? These women, perhaps more than my Arab brother, are an obstacle to my true liberation.

Do you remember the opening passages of Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior, or Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, or Nawal el-Saadawi’s The Hidden Face of Eve? I cannot forget them, and you, too, may remember how each opens with a powerful scene of a woman being abused. Either she is raped, or driven to suicide, or violated in some other way. A coincidence? "Abused Third World Women." Is such a portrayal a fair reflection of reality, or a pre-judgment? By selecting these themes, can publishers of our work influence our voice?

The books I note, and many more like them, were celebrated in the West, especially by feminists. As a result, they appear in many world literature courses and are a must on any women’s studies college reading list. Even high school teachers assign these books. Think about receptive young readers eager to learn about the wider world. Often these stories are the first image young people have of Asians, Africans, or Arabs.

Why do so many stories about third world women portray us as victims? I only began to ask myself this question very late in the game because it took me years to break through the conditioning and to say, "Wait a minute. Is this really what I am?" Finally, when I did speak out, Western feminists responded that, "The world must understand what hardships you face." Moreover, they maintain, "These sufferings bond women worldwide. These stories arouse interest where, before, there was none at all. We take pity on you."

Why do we need bonds of suffering to unite us? And why do stories of our suffering seem to dominate what is published, and thereby what is known about us? I am speaking not only about Asian, African, and Arab women but also about those of us identified as Hindu, Muslim, African-American, Nicaraguan, or Bosnian—all so-called third world women.

In the United States, the power centers are the Congress, the judiciary, corporate boards, the clergy—Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, and Jewish—the military, and the press. All these remain entrenched male domains. Before the Western feminist movement began in the 1970s, scholars, journalists, and activists gave little thought to the power of our patriarchy here. Then feminists began to expose social inequities and call for a balance. There were some changes, and some women entered places where they had once been excluded. Yet gains were limited.

So I can’t help wondering: is it possible that, because of their frustration over limited success at home, feminists have shifted their attention to women worldwide? Are these women distorting the third world situation to create a winning argument for themselves at home—to make it appear they are really better off, after all? And why the focus on the abuse of third world women at the hands of their patriarchal systems? What about the exploitation of third world women by international corporations, by arms suppliers from the industrial world?

The Arab or Muslim woman is a prime example of the edgy relationship that third world women have with Western women. Recall Taslima Nisrine, the lately celebrated writer in Bangladesh. She was publicly denounced in some circles within Bangladesh because she had criticized some interpretations of the Qur’an. Newspapers worldwide rushed to report how rampaging hoards of Muslim men were out to kill her. What a boon for Western feminists! They could expose the excesses of Islam, and its abuse of women, especially those who aspire to be freethinkers. In the end, Western women offered Nisrine and other Muslim women little real assistance. (Nisrine herself, I was told, was aware that she might be exploited by Western women if she called for their help.) Before this, Nisrine’s writing hadn’t interested American readers, and her work was not translated into English. But once she Wt the stereotype promoted by feminists—sure enough, a collection of her work is being translated for publication by a major house in the United States. Meanwhile, the American public was left with the impression of another ugly incident from the "undeveloped, extremist" third world.

Let’s come back to the roles of American women. Where are American women effective today? Few women, regrettably, have risen to positions of power in the Senate or in corporate America. One place they seem to be more influential is the local media and publishing. Feminists have a major impact on what is published about women in the world and thereby on what is taught about other societies in schools and colleges.

The Arab or Muslim woman finds herself defined by experts in women’s studies. Repeatedly we find the same simplistic presentations. First, we are perceived as weak. Second, we are seen as victim. Third, our oppressor is typically a male relative. Fourth, we appear uneducated and incapable of managing without outside help—namely support, publicity, and ministering from those already educated and liberated, the capable Western women. Fifth, the Arab or Muslim woman is caged and needs to be released. Everything is set up for the arrival of a fairy godmother.

The pattern I speak about is very real, and I believe that it is by design. It is not a conspiracy in itself. It is rather a natural spin-off of arrogance. These women often exhibit the same patronizing attitude for which they fault the men of their own society. Remember their complaints of how they were criticized by men for their oversensitivity and weakness? Aren’t they making the same accusation toward Arab and Muslim women? Western women assume that they are somehow historically better placed to take global leadership of women’s issues—that they evolved ahead of others to an advanced stage of social and sexual enlightenment.

The assumptions of Western women are unfounded. There is also a racist element in their attitude. We have repeatedly tried to correct this. But the many objections voiced by women worldwide are unrecorded in the West. Americans and Europeans simply fail to hear third world women when we call out to them, "Wait a minute! We do not all feel the way such and such an author reports we feel. What about my brother? What about my father? What about the strong among us?"

Meanwhile, to verify these Western claims, a select group of third world authors are trotted from one TV round table to another, from one feminist conference to the next, and featured in magazine stories on a regular basis. Take the example of Arab women and the Egyptian writer, Nawal el-Saadawi. Careful research by Amal Amireh, presented at the 1995 Middle East Studies Association conference, pointed out that current editions of el-Saadawi’s work in English have been altered to overemphasize violence to women and demonstrate apparent intolerance in Islam. Perhaps against her own wishes, el-Saadawi has found her work used by others to try to illustrate the general oppression of Islam toward women.

The best known books about Arab and Muslim women are, in any case, not by Arab authors, but by American women. Anne Mahmoody’s book Not Without My Daughter has been made into a successful film. More recently, in the wake of the Gulf War, we have Price of Honor, by Jan Goodwin, and Nine Parts of Desire, by Geraldine Brooks. Goodwin and Brooks (both journalists) draw on the research of Arab women scholars, and therefore bring an "insider" authority to their claims.

As third world women, we must not be intimidated. We must ask: Why this fascination, this curiosity, this obsession with the lives of Arab and Muslim women, almost to the exclusion of other subjects? And what happens to our male writers?

We have many male novelists of the caliber of Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz. Yet few are published abroad and most remain unknown outside the Arab world. Many find themselves overlooked in favor of Arab women writers who are, perhaps, less accomplished. And, when Arab male writers are sought out, it is less for their humanistic creative work and more for their analyses of Middle East political events. But that’s another story.

In the end, let us recognize that Western feminism, including its academic dimension, has its cultural context and its political agenda. The women who embrace us and pander to us as victims must step back. Then they must learn to take our strength with our weakness.

Kahf's poem "Move Over" appeared in the 1990 # 36 issue of The Exquisite Corpse, Journal of Books and Ideas, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

(The copyright on this essay is held by the author. For permission to duplicate:

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