Film Review – “Wadjda”


Starring: Waad Mohammad, Reem Abdullah, Ahd Kamel, Abdullahrahman Al Gohania, Sultan Al Assaf. Directed by Haifaa al-Mansour (98 minutes).

Reviewed by Randeep Purewall

Wadjda has generated so much publicity since its release at the Venice Film Festival in August 2013, one fears that the hype surrounding Haifaa al-Mansour’s debut feature would overshadow the film itself. Thankfully, al-Mansour has made a film that stands on its own merits as a funny, uplifting and endearing story of a girl wanting to buy a bicycle.

Wadjda is the title character played by Mohammad, a spunky, entrepreneurial ten-year old who wears sneakers to the madrassa, listens to rock and roll and dreams of buying a bicycle and racing one of the neighbourhood boys, Abdullah (Algohania).  Her mother (Reem Abdullah), when not distracted by Wadjda’s antics, does her best to convince her husband (Sultan Al Assaf) not to take a second wife.

At the madrassa, Wadjda is frequently censured by the headmistress Ms. Hussa (Ahd Kamel) for selling soccer bracelets, not wearing her hijaab and for acting as a go-between between girls inside the school and the boys outside. The headmistress thinks she may have gotten through to Wadjda however when she convinces the girl to enter a Qu’ran recitation competition for which the First Prize is enough money to allow Wadjda to buy the bicycle she hankers after.

Al-Mansour has created an engaging film which touches on some of the issues faced by women in Saudi Arabian society through Wadjda, her mother and Ms. Hussa. Wadjda, irreverent and care-free, has to hear from her mother and Ms. Hussa how girls cannot ride bikes and to live with the feeling of being second-best to her father for not being born a son. In one scene, Wadjda sees an empty space on her father’s family tree where she had placed a sticker with her name on: only the male branches of the family are included.

Ms. Hussa is a modern-day Wackford Squeers: cold, unfeeling and embittered by an inegalitarian social culture. She chastises schoolgirls for laughing, telling them a woman’s voice is her nakedness and in one scene, publicly shames two students for engaging in “forbidden” acts, after which no girl may exchange flowers or letters or hold hands with one another. Wadjda’s mother lives in fear her husband will take another wife so he can have a son. She tries on a dress she sees in a shop window not because she likes it but because Wadjda’s father might do so.

These three female characters form the heart of “Wadjda” and are performed wonderfully with pluck, steel and grace by Mohammad, Kemel and Abdullah respectively. From start to finish, it is Wadjda, who wins our hearts, as she smarts her way out of trouble, takes advantage of an opportunity or flirts convention. The film is not without its saccharine moments including when Abdullah tells Wadjda that he wants to marry her when she grows up. Those frills aside, Wadjda is a charming film about a girl who wants her bike, her freedom, which alone makes it worth the hype.


Attack on Syria – Courting the Third World War?

The following post, reprinted from EU Times Online Newspaper, provides information on the impending attack on Syria by the ‘West’. It also illustrates for us the preoccupations of our chosen leaders at a time when Pacific Ocean is being contaminated with radioactive materials from the 2011 melt of Fukushima Nuclear power plant, to mention just one of the many leaks, spills and melts that are underway on this planet. Snowden may be right, that the governments knew for 14 years that sun flares may begin to occur a lot more often around this time, but they kept a lid on it. Not in our interest, but to extend their corporate control and influence. But before that, here’s a call for action to Stop The Impending War on Syria. It sounds hopeful in its ability to stop the Regimes from declaring war on small countries to defend and expand their markets but that does not mean it cannot happen. Uddari.


Putin Orders Massive Strike Against Saudi Arabia If West Attacks Syria
Posted by EU Times on Aug 27th, 2013


A grim “urgent action memorandum” issued today from theoffice of President Putin to the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation is ordering a “massive military strike” against Saudi Arabia in the event that the West attacks Syria.

According to Kremlin sources familiar with this extraordinary “war order,” Putin became “enraged” after his early August meeting with Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan who warned that if Russia did not accept the defeat of Syria, Saudi Arabia would unleash Chechen terrorists under their control to cause mass death and chaos during the Winter Olympicsscheduled to be held 7-23 February 2014 in Sochi, Russia.

Lebanese newspaper As-Safir confirmed this amazing threat against Russia saying that Prince Bandar pledged to safeguard Russia’s naval base in Syria if the Assad regime is toppled, but he also hinted at Chechen terrorist attacks on Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi if there is no accord by stating: “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us.”

Prince Bandar went on to say that Chechens operating in Syria were a pressure tool that could be switched on an off.“These groups do not scare us. We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role in Syria’s political future.”

London’s The Telegraph News Service further reported today that Saudi Arabia has secretly offered Russia a sweeping deal to control the global oil market and safeguard Russia’s gas contracts, if the Kremlin backs away from the Assad regime in Syria, an offer Putin replied to by saying “Our stance on Assad will never change. We believe that the Syrian regime is the best speaker on behalf of the Syrian people, and not those liver eaters” [Putin said referring to footage showing a Jihadist rebel eating the heart and liver of a Syrian soldier HERE], and which Prince Bandar in turn warned that there can be “no escape from the military option” if Russia declines the olive branch.

Critical to note, and as we had previously reported on in our 28 January 2013 report “Obama Plan For World War III Stuns Russia,” the Federal Security Services (FSB) confirmed the validity of the released hacked emails of the British based defence company, Britam Defence that stunningly warned the Obama regime was preparing to unleash a series of attacks against both Syria and Iran in a move Russian intelligence experts warned could very well cause World War III.

According to this FSB report, Britam Defence, one of the largest private mercenary forces in the world, was the target of a “massive hack” of its computer files by an “unknown state sponsored entity” this past January who then released a number of critical emails between its top two executives, founder Philip Doughty and his Business Development Director David Goulding.

The two most concerning emails between Doughty and Goulding, this report says, states that the Obama regime has approved a “false flag” attack in Syria using chemical weapons, and that Britam has been approved to participate in the West’s warn on Iran, and as we can read:

Email 1: Phil, We’ve got a new offer. It’s about Syria again. Qataris propose an attractive deal and swear that the idea is approved by Washington. We’ll have to deliver a CW (chemical weapon) to Homs (Syria), a Soviet origin g-shell from Libya similar to those that Assad should have. They want us to deploy our Ukrainian personnel that should speak Russian and make a video record. Frankly, I don’t think it’s a good idea but the sums proposed are enormous. Your opinion? Kind regards David

Email 2: Phil, Please see attached details of preparatory measures concerning the Iranian issue. Participation of Britam in the operation is confirmed by the Saudis.

With the events now spiraling out of control in Syria, and London’s Independent News Service now reporting that Prince Bandar is “pushing for war,” Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich further warned the West today by stating, “Attempts to bypass the Security Council, once again to create artificial groundless excuses for a military intervention in the region are fraught with new suffering in Syria and catastrophic consequences for other countries of the Middle East and North Africa.

Heedless of Russian warnings which have fallen on deaf ears, however, British Prime Minister David Cameron this morning recalled the British Parliament to vote on attacking Syria as the Obama regime abruptly cancelledtheir meeting with Russia scheduled for tomorrow on finding a path to peace for Syria, and the West begins its plans to attack the Syrian nation “within days.”

As Syria itself has warned that should it be attacked by the West there will be “global chaos,” the Western peoples themselves have not been told of the fact that on 17 May 2013, Putin ordered Russian military forces to “immediately move” from Local War to Regional War operational status and to be “fully prepared” to expand to Large-Scale War should either the US or EU enter into the Syrian Civil War, a situation they are still in at this very hour.

With Putin’s previous order, and as we had reported on in our 17 May report “Russia Issues “All-Out War” Alert Over Syria,” and now combined with his new ordering of massive retaliatory strikes against Saudi Arabia, any attack on Syria is viewed by Russia as being an attack on itself.

And as we had previously explained in great detail, the fight over Syria, being led by Saudi Arabia and Qatar and their lap-dog Western allies, has but one single objective: To break Russia’s hold on the European Union natural gas market which a pipeline through Syria would accomplish, and as reported by London’s Financial Times News Service this past June:

“The tiny gas-rich state of Qatar has spent as much as $3bn over the past two years supporting the rebellion in Syria, far exceeding any other government, but is now being nudged aside by Saudi Arabia as the prime source of arms to rebels.

The cost of Qatar’s intervention, its latest push to back an Arab revolt, amounts to a fraction of its international investment portfolio. But its financial support for the revolution that has turned into a vicious civil war dramatically overshadows western backing for the opposition.

Qatar [also] has proposed a gas pipeline from the Gulf to Turkey in a sign the emirate is considering a further expansion of exports from the world’s biggest gasfield after it finishes an ambitious programme to more than double its capacity to produce liquefied natural gas (LNG).”

And in what is, perhaps, the most unimaginable cause to start World War III over Syria was noted by Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Aleksandr Lukashevich who said this past week: “We’re getting more new evidence that this criminal act was of a provocative nature,” he stressed. “In particular, there are reports circulating on the Internet, in particular that the materials of the incident and accusations against government troops had been posted for several hours before the so-called attack. Thus, it was a pre-planned action.”

For the West to have so sloppily engineered yet another “false flag” attack to justify a war where they posted thevideos of this so-called chemical weapons attack a full day before it was said to occur is the height of arrogance and disdain, but which their sleep-walking citizens, yet again, will fall for as they have done so many times in the past.




Fundamentalist Consumerism and an Insane Society by Bruce E. Levine

Z Magazine
February 2009
Volume 22, Number 2

At a giant Ikea store in Saudi Arabia in 2004, three people were killed by a stampede of shoppers fighting for one of a limited number of $150 credit vouchers. Similarly, in November 2008, a worker at a New York Wal-Mart was trampled to death by shoppers intent on buying one of a limited number of 50-inch plasma HDTVs.

Jdiniytai Damour, a temporary maintenance worker was killed on “Black Friday.” In the predawn darkness, approximately 2,000 shoppers waited impatiently outside Wal-Mart, chanting, “Push the doors in.” According to Damour’s fellow worker Jimmy Overby, “He was bum-rushed by 200 people. They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me.” Witnesses reported that Damour, 34 years old, gasped for air as shoppers continued to surge over him. When police instructed shoppers to leave the store after Damour’s death, many refused, some yelling, “I’ve been in line since yesterday morning.”

The mainstream press covering Damour’s death focused on the mob of crazed shoppers and, to a lesser extent, irresponsible Wal-Mart executives who failed to provide security. However, absent in the corporate press was anything about a consumer culture and an insane society in which marketers, advertisers, and media promote the worship of cheap stuff.

Along with journalists, my fellow mental health professionals have also covered up societal insanity. An exception is the democratic-socialist psychoanalyst Erich Fromm (1900-1980). Fromm, in The Sane Society (1955), wrote: “Yet many psychiatrists and psychologists refuse to entertain the idea that society as a whole may be lacking in sanity. They hold that the problem of mental health in a society is only that of the number of ‘unadjusted’ individuals, and not of a possible unadjustment of the culture itself.”

While people can resist the cheap-stuff propaganda and not worship at Wal-Mart, Ikea, and other big-box cathedrals—and stay out of the path of a mob of fundamentalist consumers—it is difficult to protect oneself from the slow death caused by consumer culture. Human beings are every day and in numerous ways psychologically, socially, and spiritually assaulted by a culture which:

* creates increasing material expectations
* devalues human connectedness
* socializes people to be self-absorbed
* obliterates self-reliance
* alienates people from normal human emotional reactions
* sells false hope that creates more pain

Increasing material expectations. These expectations often go unmet and create pain, which fuels emotional difficulties and destructive behaviors. In a now classic 1998 study examining changes in the mental health of Mexican immigrants who came to the United States, public policy researcher William Vega found that assimilation to U.S. society meant three times the rate of depressive episodes for these immigrants. Vega also found major increases in substance abuse and other harmful behaviors. Many of these immigrants found themselves with the pain of increased material expectations that went dissatisfied and they also reported the pain of diminished social support.

Devaluing of human connectedness. A 2006 study in the American Sociological Review noted that the percentage of Americans who reported being without a single close friend to confide in rose in the last 20 years from 10 percent to almost 25 percent. Social isolation is highly associated with depression and other emotional problems. Increasing loneliness, however, is good news for a consumer economy that thrives on increasing numbers of “buying units”—more lonely people means selling more televisions, DVDs, psychiatric drugs, etc.


Promotes selfishness. Self-absorption is one of many reasons for U.S. skyrocketing rates of depression and other emotional difficulties—and self-absorption is exactly what a consumer culture demands. The Buddha, 2,500 years ago, recognized the relationship between selfish craving and emotional difficulties, and many observers of human beings, from Spinoza to Erich Fromm, have come to similar conclusions.

Obliterates self-reliance. The loss of self-reliance can create painful anxiety, which fuels depression and other problematic behaviors. In modern society, an increasing number of people—women as well as men—cannot cook a simple meal. They will never know the anti-anxiety effects of being secure in their ability to prepare their own food, grow their own vegetables, hunt, fish, or gather food for survival. In a consumer culture, such self-reliance makes no sense. At some level, people know that should they lose their incomes—not impossibilities these days—they have no ability to survive.

Alienation from humanity. The priests of consumer culture—advertisers and marketers—know that fundamentalist consumers will buy more if they are alienated from such normal reactions as boredom, frustration, sadness, and anxiety. If these priests can convince us that a given emotional state is shameful or evidence of a disease, then we will be more likely to buy not only psychiatric drugs, but also all kinds of products to make ourselves feel better. When we become frightened and alienated from a natural human reaction, this “pain over pain” creates more fuel for depression and other self-destructive behaviors and harmful actions.

Pain of false hope. The false hope of fundamentalist consumerism is that we will one day discover a product that can predictably manipulate moods without any downsides. Modern psychiatry is a full member of consumer culture. Its “Holy Grail” is a search for the antidepressant that can take away the pain of despair, but not destroy life. In the late 19th century, Freud thought he had found it with cocaine. In the middle of the 20th century, psychiatrists thought they had found it with amphetamines, and later with tricyclic antidepressants like Tofranil and Elavil. At the end of the 20th century, there were the SSRIs, such as Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft, which were ultimately found to create dependency and painful withdrawal and to be no more effective than placebos. Whatever the antidepressant drug, it is introduced as taking away depression without destroying life. Time after time, it is then discovered that when one tinkers with neurotransmitters, there is—as there is with electroshock and psycho-surgery—damage to life.


Fundamentalists reject both reason and experience. Fundamentalists are attached to dogma and if their dogma fails, they don’t give it up, but instead resolve to deepen their faith and double down on their dogma.

Erich Fromm, 54 years ago, concluded: “Man [sic] today is confronted with the most fundamental choice; not that between Capitalism or Communism, but that between robotism (of both the capitalist and the communist variety), or Humanistic Communitarian Socialism. Most facts seem to indicate that he is choosing robotism and that means, in the long run, insanity and destruction. But all these facts are not strong enough to destroy faith in man’s reason, good will, and sanity. As long as we can think of other alternatives, we are not lost.”

Breaking free of fundamentalist consumerism means thinking of alternatives and it also means an active defiance: choosing to experience the various dimensions of life that have been excluded by the dogma.

Bruce E. Levine is a clinical psychologist and author of Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic: How to Find Morale, Energy, and Community in a World Gone Crazy (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2007).

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Religion-based Crimes in Pakistan

Religiously motivated crimes are escalating in Pakistan, and new threatening tones can be heard in the voices of religiously motivated criminals and their supporters. Ideas and actions that are in clear contradiction to the UN Charter of Human Rights are being openly propagated and executed; and, violence against women is unashamedly condoned by the elders and lawmakers.

No wonder, Pakistani rights activists and defenders are aghast at the spectrum.

Each religion and each religious grouping exists because its members think that the universal and ultimate truth resides ‘herein’, and the rest of the population is walking the ‘wrong’ path that needs to be ‘corrected’ for the universal good and for their own salvation in the ‘thereafter’. So, in a religious context, the most discriminatory, even violent, ideas and actions are justified, and then projected as admirable and rewarding acts. I was about to cite an example when i realized that i was choosing between the many violent incidents that have happened in Pakistan in the past couple of weeks. I wish to never find myself in a situation of such multiplicity again but clearly we have been furnished last Sunday with some of the classic examples of faith-based crimes by a TV anchor, Dr. Amir Liaquat Hussain in a religious program called ‘Alam (Scholar) Online’.

In a TV broadcast on 7 September 2008, this religious ‘scholar’ with two other cowards ‘declared’ that in accordance with Islamic teachings, the Ahmadi sect members are Wajib ul Qatal ‘Must be killed’ for not believing in the last prophet Mohammad PBUH.
‘Dr. Amir repeated his instruction several times, urging fundamentalists Muslims to kill without fear’. Within 18 hours, a 45 year-old Ahmadi leader in Mirpur Khas, Dr. Abdul Manan Siddiqui was executed with 11 gun shots by six people; he ‘died on the spot’. His private guard and a woman sustained injuries. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) notes
The killers remained at the hospital until the doctor was declared dead, then they walked out of the building’s front entrance. Police registered the killers as unknown‘.
On September 9, Mr. Yousaf, a 75 year-old rice trader and district chief of the Ahmadi sect was killed on his way to the prayer house in Nawab Shah, Sindh.
Yousaf was fired on from people on motor bikes, and sustained three bullet wounds. He died on the way to the hospital. The assailants had taken a route past a police station. No one was arrested‘.
PAKISTAN: TV Anchor Incites Murders of Two People

This is happening amidst threats of acid attacks on women, closures of schools, women being buried and burnt alive for a male concept of ‘family honor’; protectors become perpetrators; and, the worst atrocities in the name of ‘honor’ are being justified and covered up on the basis of tradition.

Still, in my view, Saudi Arabia is way ahead with a Saudi cleric who wants death for TV ‘sorcerers’. Sheikh Saleh al-Fozan told al-Madina daily ‘The Muslim consensus is that the apostate’s punishment is death by the sword’ and ‘Those who call in these shows should not be accorded Muslim rites when they die’; that the purveyors of horoscopes on Arab television should be sentenced to death. This came ‘days after another cleric argued death for TV owners’. Situation in Pakistan however is not as luxurious as for us to be going after horoscope-readers or tv-owners yet because here we are still going after women and minorities; and, within it, the women of lower economic/social status and members of Muslim Ahmadiya community.

Today, Indian Mujahideen killed 20 and injured 100 in Delhi with a series of bomb blasts in the busy commercial centers of the city. And this sad day was made sadder by the news that UK has allowed Muslim clerics to form Shariat Courts and to implement Shariah Laws for Britain’s Muslim communities. ‘The British government has ‘quietly sanctioned’ shariah judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to domestic violence’.
UK’s first official sharia courts

Fauzia Rafiq

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