Discover more from Sa'alouni El Nas
Guest Feature: Arij Mikati
Nayra Ashraf Abdel Qader, a student at Mansoura University in Egypt, was stabbed to death earlier this week by a classmate who had continuously harassed her on Facebook and whose marriage proposal she had refused.
A few days after, Iman Irshaid, a nursing student in Jordan, was shot and killed on campus by a man who said “I will come talk to you today and if you reject me I will kill you the same way the Egyptian killed the girl today.”
Those are just two examples from this week alone in what is truly a crisis.
The alarming rate of femicides in the region is beyond horrific and awful. And yet, despite this happening far too many times, nothing changes structurally or societally to protect women. As a friend of mine said on Twitter, misogyny kills.
I have no words, other than to express grief and sorrow for Nayra and Iman and their families.
Thank you, friends. Now, to indulge in a positive and happy escape, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Arij Mikati
Arij is the Managing Director of Culture Change at Pillars Fund, where she designs and leads programming that challenges damaging narratives about Muslims in the U.S. and amplifies Muslim voices in artistic spaces. Her storytelling work seeks to change the lens through which Muslim stories are told to one that is authentic, complex, and honest.
Arij has more than ten years of experience as a storyteller, nonprofit executive, educator, and creative consultant. She is also a devoted anti-racism educator, who, as a Social Impact Advisor for Inspire Justice and leadership team member of Chicago Regional Organizers for Anti-Racism, works to foster radically inclusive, just, intersectional spaces.
Arij earned her BA in theatre and political science at the University of Minnesota and holds an MA in education from the University of North Carolina. She loves returning to Lebanon, her first home, to eat all the things and hug all the people.
Another fun fact about Arij: she has to be the biggest Minnesota Timberwolves fan I think I have ever met (that’s basketball for those who may not know). Arij clearly does it all and is incredibly thoughtful with her approach in these spaces. But she’s also just a great friend and dope human being with an amazing taste in music, as evidenced in her answers:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
This song entrances with its simplicity. I can (and do) listen to it on repeat and think of the people I have loved and the people I will love, in all of love's forms.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
We gotta take it all the way back to 1976 for this timeless joint by the oft underappreciated Shirley Bassey. Her absolute unabashedness in letting you hear every contour of her pain, anger, and grief will validate whatever is happening inside your head and heart.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
When my mom entered the hospital to give birth in Tripoli, Lebanon on May 28th, 1989, the gardenia flowers were all budding and ready to burst. When she left a few days later, they were in full bloom. The intoxicating scent wafted through the city. My parents took their time in naming me, and my grandfather suggested naming me Arij, which means the essence of the flower, to honor what was transpiring around us. My elders sang this song to me often as a child, and it reminds me both of home (the place), and home (the people).
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
If we ever do karaoke together, chances are extremely high you will see me give 110% to this song, and I will unapologetically live my rock and roll dreams out on stage by throwing myself to my knees without even realizing I'm doing it at some point. I'm such an even-keeled and patient, but very passionate woman-- I think getting a little spice out through music helps me remain my most compassionate self in all my relationships. This question is making me miss being in a band.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
Man, this song never goes out of style. If I were a baseball player and I got to choose the tunes they played when I was up at bat, this would be it every time. The video is also utter perfection.
Big shout out to Arij for joining and sharing her song selections! Most of Arij’s songs are available on Spotify and will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. Check out Arij on Instagram and Twitter as well!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Flows 🎧
Ghadara - MarSimba
Lilymothersuperflower - Felukah
chosen - Dua Saleh
Malhi Di - TaffyRaps
SAWWAN - Bu Kolthoum
Wa7da Mn Million - Marwan Moussa
Liyam - Maria Nadim
French Toast - SLVY
All the Time - Sofco
Je t’aime à l’algérienne - Zaho
🎤 Latinx & Hispanic Vibes 🎤
Just A Stranger - Kali Uchis featuring Steve Lacy
Replay - Maikal Delacalle
Say It Right - Nelly Furtado
Efecto - Bad Bunny
Anda Sola - Jay Wheeler
De Rumba - Casper Magico
Maviri - Mont
El Redentor - ROSALÍA
TUMIBú - DEVA
Nunca y Pico - Yandel featuring Maluma and Eladio Carrion
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
BREAK MY SOUL - Beyoncé
Tie That Binds - Drake
Beautiful Sunflower - Falz featuring Tiwa Savage
Blameless - Jenevieve
Space + Space - Aroe Phoenix
Can’t Help Falling In Love - Kacey Musgraves
The Sun - Brandon Banks
Shellys (It’s Chill) - Blimes and Gab
Scared Money - NxWorries, Anderson .Paak, and Knxwledge
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Lebanon's natural heritage threatened by rampant development - Marie de La Roche Saint-André, Middle East Eye
How illegal construction, abandoned quarries, defaced coastlines, and unnecessary dams worsen Lebanon's environmental and economic woes.
Aunt Amaline’s mouneh: Living off the land in Lebanon - Rita Kabalan, Al Jazeera
In Mazraat al-Toufah, the author’s aunts and cousins carry on the age-old tradition of preserving what the land gives.
Life in the shadow of Lebanon's crumbling health service - Tala Ramadan, Thomson Reuters Foundation News
As Lebanon's economic crisis sends doctors and nurses abroad in search of a better life, Thomson Reuters Foundation correspondent Tala Ramadan reflects on what that means for those left behind.
In a season of migration, of what use is ‘home’ to Lebanon’s artists? - Jim Quilty, L’Orient Today
Note: This story includes excerpts of a long interview with Lebanese writer Lina Mounzer, which took place some weeks before the intelligence branch of the Internal Security Forces summoned her for questioning on Tuesday, June 21
Lebanon banks association calls IMF draft agreement 'unlawful' in letter - Timour Azhari and Rodrigo Campos, Reuters
Lebanese banks said the country's draft agreement with the International Monetary Fund was "unlawful" and "unconstitutional" in a letter sent to the IMF by an adviser of the Association of Banks in Lebanon.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
This Arab is Queer: My intersectionality was my biggest bully - Amna Ali, The New Arab
This essay is extracted from This Arab is Queer: An Anthology by LGBTQ+ Arab Writers, published by Saqi Books.
The Killing of Shireen Abu Akleh: Tracing a Bullet to an Israeli Convoy - Raja Abdulrahim, Patrick Kingsley, Christiaan Triebert, and Hiba Yazbek, The New York Times
Joining other outlets like The Washington Post and CNN, a New York Times investigation confirms eyewitness accounts and found that the bullet that killed a Palestinian-American journalist was fired from the approximate position of an Israeli military vehicle.
Corruption 'eating away' at football in World Cup-bound Tunisia - Souhail Khmira, BBC Sports
"Results in Tunisian football have never been honest and truthful."
With Kalashnikov Burgers and Black Comedy, Libyans Try to Move On From Conflict - Vivian Yee, The New York Times
“We want to taste life, not death.”
‘Amman is a prison’: Rise in suicides highlights mental health crisis in Jordan - Marta Vidal, The New Humanitarian
‘Instead of addressing the structural problems, the government is trying to punish and repress the symptoms of the crisis.’ (*Content warning: suicide)
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
Elyanna is the moment - Amina Kaabi, Cosmopolitan Middle East
The 20-year-old Palestinian-Chilean singer seems to have come close to cracking the underhanded codes of the industry.
Katelina Eccleston Is Giving Black Latinas In Reggaeton Their Flowers - Ruth Etiesit Samuel, HuffPost
The artist and music historian is amplifying voices and calling out the erasure of Black Latino contributions to music through her platform, Reggaeton Con La Gata.
Pusha T could rap forever, but only on his terms - Julian Kimble, The Washington Post
At an age when most rappers drop off, Pusha T has figured out how to stay consistently at the top of his game.
Drake Finally Stopped Trying to Do Something For Everyone - Jordan Rose, Complex
Drake’s latest studio album, Honestly, Nevermind, is his first project in years where he made something entirely for himself, instead of catering to each faction of his massive fanbase.
Saving Historic Songs, and a Jewish Culture in Morocco - Aida Alami, The New York Times
For centuries after the expulsion from Spain, Morocco’s Sephardic Jewish women sang of love, loss and identity. Now, they’re almost all gone.
📚 Other Reads 📚
The failed Rwanda deportation flight was a rare victory for refugees - Maria Brul, gal-dem
The first deportation flight was cancelled after a last-minute court judgement, but we will have to continue to fight the government’s unlawful neocolonial tactics.
Biden’s dismal record on helping people fleeing from danger - Marcela Garcia, The Boston Globe
The United States is falling short of its moral responsibility to aid migrants and refugees at a crucial moment of need.
Inside the Push to Diversify the Book Business - Marcela Valdes, The New York Times Magazine
For generations, America’s major publishers focused almost entirely on white readers. Now a new cadre of executives like Lisa Lucas is trying to open up the industry.
The Shore’s Taffy Tradition - Kae Lani Palmisano, The Inquirer
Salt water taffy is as iconic to the Jersey Shore as the beach itself.
Inside the Messiness of SCOTUS’s “YOLO Court” - Dahlia Lithwick, Slate
On Slate’s Amicus podcast this week, UC Irvine’s election law expert Richard Hasen and CNN legal analyst Joan Biskupic discussed the ongoing upheaval and whether the justices will be able to change course before the beginning of the next term.