Discover more from Sa'alouni El Nas
Guest Feature: Abeer Najjar
If you’ve been keeping up with the news in Egypt, you know that President Sisi has renewed his effort to crack down on human rights organizations in an attempt to silence anyone who criticizes him or the Egyptian government. Last month, three staffers with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) were among those who were inexplicably detained by government security forces and charged with belonging to a terrorist organization.
EIPR has done incredible work in the country to strengthen and protect basic civil liberties for all Egyptians. And sadly this is not the first time that President Sisi has used these kinds of tactics against the organization.
There has been public outcry over these arrests from other activists, celebrities, governments, literally anyone who understands how wrong this treatment and these detainments are. Yesterday, EIPR finally received some good news that those staffers were released from detainment. While the terrorism charges haven’t been dropped against the staffers, the fact that they are released is still positive news. And in this wild year, we’ll take any good news we can get right now.
Let’s hope the charges will be dropped next.
We have so much to get into today. I’m very excited to welcome our guest feature this week: Abeer Najjar!
Abeer is a chef, food writer and the founder of Huda Supper Club. A Chicago native and child of Palestinian immigrants, her culinary approach reflects her family's heritage and city upbringing. Abeer works to preserve culture and stimulate conversation about identity by using food as a canvas for storytelling.
Abeer is hilarious, incredibly empathetic, and cares deeply about her community. And she thinks about music with the same energy and passion that she has for her culinary craft:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
Abdel Halim Hafez "Sodfa". I started diving deeper into Arabic music in the last year or so and Abdel Halim's been one of my favs. He's an artist from a different era, but his songs on love, heartache and relationships are evergreen. "Sodfa" is a classic love song with a playful orchestral backdrop, perfect for the hopeless romantic.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
Jhené Aiko "Born Tired". This song got me through so many rough days this past year. When I'm exhausted but trying, this song is both validating and motivating. As Jhené says, "Tired, but I'm fired up."
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
Hamid Al Shaeri "Habiba" & Aaliyah "Are You That Somebody". There's a small set of Arabic songs I remember from my childhood, usually songs my parents had on cassette tapes that they played often. "Habiba" is one that always got me and siblings hype and hearing it always takes me back to those days. "Are You That Somebody" takes me back to long summer days on the southside of Chicago, when Aaliyah dominated the radio waves but somehow never got played out.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
Rihanna "Bitch Better Have My Money". This is for every email that says "we don't have a budget, but you'll get lots of exposure."
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
Omar Offendum & Thanks Joey "Yo Yo". This song always instantly lifts my mood and makes me dream of having a post-pandemic 'azoomah with friends.
Big shout out to Abeer for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Abeer’s songs will be included with this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. And be sure to follow Abeer on Instagram and check out all of her incredible work on her blog (try out all of her recipes!)
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Arab Flows (Middle Eastern & North African artists) 🎧
Rassa - Big Hass featuring TooDope, T.A., and MoSauce
Mesbah - Hamsa Mounif
Latte - Blvxb featuring TooDope and Freek
Ana Men - May Abd El Aziz
Ana Delali - MIYA
Kima Dima - Sanfara
Hant - Ahmed Amin featuring Zanib
El Keya - Rooofa
WAYAK - Azira, MRD, and Mrabet
Mawwal Hobbak Yemshi Bdammi - Roro Harb
🎤 Las Vibras (Latinx & Hispanic artists) 🎤
Lento - J Balvin featuring Mr Eazi
Bailemos Enamorados - La Melodia Perfecta featuring Marval
Más De La Una - Piso 21 featuring Maluma
Si Nos Vamos - Vale
Dia Gris - Valentino Rico
PRENDIDA - Jessie Reyez
El Pacto - Paula Cendejas
Báilame - Pj Sin Suela featuring Pedro Capó
Intensa - Rosaly Rubio featuring Ceky Viciny and Alex Duvall
Mi huella - Ptazeta featuring Juacko
🎼 Other Music 🎼
CUFFED UP - PARTYNEXTDOOR featuring Quavo
What’s New - Megan Thee Stallion
Mixed Signals - Fasina featuring Bridge
Therefore I Am - Billie Eilish
Black Moon Rising - Black Pumas
Playas Gon’ Play - 3LW
DOUBLE PARKED - Mike Classic
Good Love 2.0 - Priya Ragu
That’s How You Feel - Drake
Nightmare - Handsome Ghost
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Driven out of Bsharri, Syrians seek refuge on the streets of Tripoli - Abby Sewell, L’Orient Today
“They broke the door and came in, they were hitting us. … They were pushing the children, they broke the doors, they broke the glass”
Lebanon basketball players ditch game for better future - Ahmad Muhieddine, Agence France-Presse
Basketball was once the sporting pride of Lebanon, but with the economy in free fall, the tiny nation is now losing some of its best basketball players, who are emigrating or swapping their jerseys for business shirts.
Lebanese crisis deepens Syrian refugee misery - Issam Abdallah, Reuters
Poverty among Syrian refugees in Lebanon is soaring, reflecting deepening hardship among the entire population.
Too Little Too Late: A Timeline of Lebanon’s Response to COVID-19 - Hussein Mehdy, The Public Source
Conflicting responsibilities and jurisdictions, unilateral decisions and a lack of clear communication, palpably absent preventive actions, and delayed responses have characterized the government’s response to the pandemic since the first case was recorded in February.
Alone and unpaid, Lebanon's migrant maids in grip of mental health crisis - Abbie Cheeseman, Reuters
Exhausted by economic collapse, COVID-19 and an explosion that devastated parts of the capital, Lebanon’s woes are taking a heavy toll on the nation’s mental health - especially among its most vulnerable people.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
The personal is political: A journey through Palestinian exile - Ahmed Moussa, Al Jazeera
As a Palestinian, Ahmed Moussa constantly find himself asking where he belongs. The answer invariably is that there is no space for him, literally or metaphysically, he says.
Carrying Home Within - Zaina Erhaim, Newlines Magazine
To the world, Idlib is the site of countless tragedies. To me, it is home.
Sisi unleashes another crackdown in Egypt - Nancy Okail, The Washington Post
“The lack of serious action from the international community has provided Egypt’s military rulers much leeway to commit numerous atrocities and crimes against citizens expressing dissenting views.”
‘We’re not alive, we’re not dead’: Thousands of migrants are trapped in war-torn Yemen - Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times
Driven by poverty or conflict, tens of thousands of migrants leave their homes in East Africa with Saudi Arabia in their sights, seeking safety and economic opportunity. Thousands wait here in Ataq, the capital of Shabwa province, eking out a threadbare existence on the streets.
So far, Iraqi and international investigators have discovered 17 mass graves in Sinjar, containing the bodies of some of the 3,000 Yazidis killed by ISIS. Even for survivors of almost unimaginable violence and loss, the grave in Solagh prompts a special anguish.
🎶 Music & Culture 🎶
Nigerian pop star Davido: 'Africans were made fun of. Now everyone wants us' - Emmanuel Akinwotu, The Guardian
The singer was taking a good-time sound to the world – but after his song Fem became the anthem of the EndSars protesters, he joined them on the streets.
How Black Power, Jazz Music Inspired Morocco’s Rebel Cinema of the 1970s - Kaleem Aftab, Variety
With six films from Morocco in this year’s program, documentary festival IDFA put a spotlight on the North African country’s documentary film scene and its artists.
Afrobeats’ Global Takeover - Puja Patel, Pitchfork
A conversation about the captivating sounds, burgeoning industry, and increasingly global influence of West African pop music, on the podcast The Pitchfork Review.
Experts to study whether Arabic music can be used for therapy - Sahar ElKabbash, Doha News
Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar has been conducting research to investigate whether Arabic music can be beneficial to treat or help different medical conditions.
Selena’s Special Genius - Elijah Wald, The New York Times
The Mexican-American star, who was killed at 23, is the subject of a new Netflix bio-series. But what was the root of her musical powers?
📚 Other Reads 📚
No game days. No bars. The pandemic is forcing some men to realize they need deeper friendships. - Samantha Schmidt, The Washington Post
From Zoom poker games to neighborhood-dad WhatsApp chains, casual chats about sports and politics have suddenly led to deep conversations about life.
I’m 33 Years Old. I Got COVID-19 Eight Months Ago. I’m Still Sick. - Nidhi Prakash, BuzzFeed News
Nidhi Prakash is just one of the thousands of Americans who have long-term post-COVID symptoms. This crisis won't end with a vaccine.
Uber made big promises in Kenya. Drivers say it's ruined their lives. - Amanda Sperber, NBC News
“When you have a family to feed, kids to pay school fees for, rents to pay, a loan to pay and your work is too much and exploitative, what happens?" a driver said.
Inside a Xinjian Detention Camp - Megha Rajagopalan and Alison Killing, BuzzFeed News
In a lush countryside idyll known for its horse farms and fields of yellow flowers, China built a system of total control.
The Voice of Black America? - Rachelle Hampton, Slate
How the white political establishment anointed Charlamagne tha God as the spokesman for all Black voters.
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