Veiled Truths

She was shrouded in many layers that defined her in a manner that suited others. Her name carried the weight of heavy, hyphenated labels that pretended to know her better than she knew herself. People looked at her and saw her as an outsider, forgetting that they themselves often did not belong. She didn’t know how to explain to them that she came from a place where the best of friends could suddenly turn against one another, once they were old enough to understand politics, a place where children died before they could understand the concept of death, their laughter interrupted with an act of ruthless precision.

She had been that child once. She remembered the Damascus of her childhood as one filled with high-spirited street vendors who winked at her whenever she went to the market with her father, the smell of roasted sunflower seeds always present in the thick, summer air. She remembered standing on the marble floors outside the Umayyad Mosque at night, watching her reflection stare back at her toothlessly as she held both her parents’ hands.

People wouldn’t believe her if she told them that she also felt afraid. She walked past them everyday and recognized the anger and caution in their eyes. Sometimes there was hatred; mostly, there was indifference. In her black veil, she had an advantage, and this is what unnerved them the most. They couldn’t see anything except her dark, unwavering eyes, so they said nothing. But their thoughts were anything but silent, and she heard them all. In the same way little children pointed and their parents whispered, she learned to decipher the unspoken word. She wondered if they could do the same, if they could hear her even when she hadn’t spoken. I know I don’t belong here, she thought, just in case they could. But I don’t belong there, either. Tell me, then, where should I go?

For Whom Shall I Cry

Tonight I cry tears for every man, woman and child who has suffered at the hands of oppression and injustice. I cry for the children in Syria, the mothers in Ghaza, the family and friends grieving in Ferguson.

But I also shed my tears for the oppressors, the wielders of swords who press their blades against their victims’ necks and take pleasure in hearing their dying pleas. I cry for them because they are lost, and I wonder where we went wrong to have let such people slip through the cracks.

We live in a world where science and technology continue to grow at such a pace that it seems as though we might actually have a chance to become advanced creatures, both in the way we think and how we learn to adapt to these new groundbreaking inventions.

The number of amazing feats doctors, artists, engineers, designers and scientists alike have been able to accomplish is a rapidly growing phenomenon that I personally doubt will slow down any time soon.

And yet

And yet, in the midst of all these wonderful discoveries, these glorious designs and intricate blueprints that are a product of the creative imagination, we find the black holes preventing us from reaching our true potential as human beings.

Alas, sometimes the apple we thought was ripe and ready for picking turns out to be the one with the most rotten of cores. Tell me, am I the only one who finds it hard to believe that among us there are still those who choose to believe that they are, in fact, better than others? That they are entitled to certain things? That they can determine their rank and file in society by obliterating any and all things or people standing in their way? I refuse to believe that there are people who are inherently bad. After all, it isn’t the apple’s fault that it became rotten.

However, in light of recent events, my optimistic view of humanity has been shredded, the scattered remains of what were once innocent thoughts now nothing more than a bittersweet memory floating like ashes over the image of Michael Brown.

Words mean nothing. Would words have helped young Michael, had he pleaded for his life in the soft undertones of someone who knows the odds are against them? Would words have made a difference if Michael had screamed against the injustice that had chosen him because of a history that bound him just as chains had bound his ancestors before him? Words are the trivial leftovers of our raw emotions, our pathetic attempts to express something that can never be captured after it has already occurred. Words are nothing more than the aftermaths of moments, and yet I find that I have no other way of showing my pain, my desperation. My horror.

So if words do not carry weight, then let my heavy heart be a testament to the pain I feel

I did not know you, Mike Brown, but I know your story. Because you are not the first, nor will you be the last. So long as we keep advancing with our sciences, our engineering, our space programs and nuclear weapons…so long as we continue to educate ourselves about the future, and ignore the past, we will soon realize that we’re really only going backwards

Morals. Responsibility. Decency. Modesty. Leadership. Honesty. Compassion. Empathy. Strength.

Let these be the characteristics we nurture within ourselves, so that there is no room in our hearts for evil to worm its way in and fester like a growing tumor. Let us allow our minds and hearts alike to be fruitful with knowledge, knowledge that goes beyond the classroom. Knowledge of ourselves. For if we do not understand who we truly are as individuals, how can we learn to appreciate and respect someone else for who they are?

A Call To Rise

I call upon the people of Sudan, of that nation which has endured the effects of an ineffective regime, its people always reluctant and hesitant to stand up for their freedom. Until now. Now we see that revolution is that contagious effort that so easily spreads like wildfire from nation to nation. We have seen the Middle East over the extent of two years acquire its own voice, its own demands, its own freedom. By way of that reserved right that is democracy, we have witnessed the birth of new governments and the fall of outdated regimes.

And now? It is our turn. It has taken a long time for Sudanese people to realize that it is their duty to bring down a regime that has been idle and ineffective for the better part of 25 years. Since its division in 2011, Sudan has become an unstable country, gas prices skyrocketing due to government-initiated subsidies and the public becoming increasingly aggravated with inflated prices and a weak economy. Part of the problem, a significant part, is the fact that there was no vision in the past, no unanimous vote to take action against Al-Bashir’s government. People were hesitant to start uprisings, as they saw the consequences that followed such actions in neighboring Egypt and, of course, the horrid reality of Syria’s revolution.

It is past due that the Sudanese people have finally decided to speak out, to let their voices echo in the streets of Khartoum and Omdurman. While violence is sure to follow such actions, it is a necessary step forward toward the inception of a new reality, a new Sudan.

It is absolutely vital that we each do our part to ensure that this first step is not smothered by the government. Now that the flame has been sparked, it will take every necessary effort to keep it from extinguishing. I call upon the youth, the elderly, the teachers and the poets, I call upon the disgruntled and the furious, the saddened and disheartened. I call upon my people to stand firmly on the foundations of liberty, so that we can build a formidable barrier that will keep injustice at bay.

It is not enough to chant that the people want the fall of the regime — we must push and fight and resist until it crumbles.

Nihal Mubarak