Friday, June 30, 2006

Dalia Ziada won honorable mention from HAMSA organization

kids



I have just won an honorable mention from HAMSA (Hands Across the Mideast Alliance) organization which is the coordinator of the famous "Dream Deffered" Essay Contest. My name (Dalia Ziada) has become so popular now. Thanks God! My winning essay talks about Women Rights in Egypt through my own story with my Mom.
To read it go to this page http://www.hamsaweb.org/winners.html. search for my name "Dalia Ziada" in the honorable mentions list where you can rea my article in both English and Arabic. If you want to go directly to the English version click here http://www.hamsaweb.org/honorme.html#dal and if you want the Arabic original go here http://www.hamsaweb.org/honorme.html#dala
To know what does it mean for me to win such prize, I'd like to tell you that I am working in the field of Human Rights since only six months ago. That is one of my very first steps towards success in such great field. So can you see? Moreover, my essay is one of the best ten essays among 2500 essay. Read this:
Inspired by the Langston Hughes poem What Happens to a Dream Deferred?, this essay contest asked young Middle Easterners and young Americans to address civil rights repression in the Middle East. The essay questions (participants from each region had a choice of three) focused on the importance of individual rights, how grassroots reform efforts could challenge restrictions, and the possiblity of future reform. Rather than focus on US foreign policy, participants were encouraged to see themselves as agents of change.

2,500 people from 20 different countries submitted essays (in English, Arabic, French, and Farsi), which were in turn evaluated by a panel of celebrity judges. $10,000 in prize money was available for five winners each from the Middle East and the US (10 total), as well as book prizes for 50 outstanding essays.

Representing just 0.4% of the 2,500 essays submitted, the following essays were selected as prize winners after a lengthy evaluation process. From among hundreds of strong essays, these winners stood out for their bold ideas and compelling messages. Their varying approaches reflect the need for diverse responses to the problems posed by repression in the Middle East. Brief comments highlight the outstanding elements of each essay.
Actually, I feel more than happy right now. Thanks God! the next step is much greater. HAMSA initiative announced this:
The essay contest marked the inaugural program of the HAMSA initiative. Already plans are underway to mobilize and connect the hundreds of young people who participated in the contest and showed a commitment to taking action in defense of individual rights. We also hope soon to be able to run a follow-up essay contest.
So, let's do it now! let's forget all the pains of the past and launch some new bright future, wherein Dalia Ziada is a celebrity HR activist.




Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Congrats Alaa Saif; yours Dalia Ziada


This is a rare pricture for Alaa Saif; the moderator of http://www.manalaa.net/ blog in prisoners' uniform. He was released yesterday after 45 days in prison for no legal charge. This picture was taken by a mobile camera and I was lucky enough to be the first ever to translate this story of releasing Alaa. The story is originally published in Arabic on www.hrinfo.net (wherein I work as a translator).


The English translation of the story is below:

After 45 Days of Unjustified Detention
Egyptian Bloggers' God Father;
Alaa Saif Released

Cairo - 20 June 2006

Arabic Network for Human Rights Information welcomes the release of the God Father of the Egyptian Bloggers, Alaa Saif, after 45- day detention in prison with no legal charge.Alaa Saif, the manager of http://www.manalaa.net/ blog, was arrested on 7th May 2006 while he was expressing his solidarity with reformist judges calling for independence of judiciary as well as eliminating elections forgery in Egypt. Alaa Saif and his colleagues refused to be questioned by State Security Prosecution, due to its absolute bias to Egyptian Political Police named State Security. They persistently demanded to be investigated before a magistrate. Up till now, the prosecution still turning a deaf ear to their demand.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Dr. Tareq Al-Suwaidan and Dalia Ziada


For those who do not know him, he is Dr. Tareq Al-Suwaidan from Kuwait. He is an Islamic preacher and a well-known human development trainer. He is the owner and chairman of Gulf Innovation for Training and Consulting Company. He runs a TV station named "Al-Resalah TV" which is rather Islamic. That is not all; Dr. Tareq Al-Suwaidan is the presenter of many TV programs dealing with both Islamic and Human Development issues.

For me, Dr. Tareq Al-Suwaidan is more than that. I call him the wizard of my life. He was the reason why I feel satisfied and why I enjoy success right now. Though that we have never met yet. The whole story started like this. I was in a big trouble. A seventy-something years old christian lady approached me and tried to convince me to leave my religion (Islam) and gain salvation by being christian. At the beginning I was strong enough to say no and debate with her on this issue. We used to meet daily and she was intelligent enough to attract me to her religion.

At this moment, I was about to lose control and be christian.I tried to contact many Shiekhs and preachers in my neighbourhood and my province. Most of them insulted me, while few other sympathized with me and blamed me for having low knowledge on Islam. None of them gave me true advice. None of them told me what to do to stop this lady.

On some friday cold night I was home alone watching TV. On Smarts-Way TV, I saw Dr. Tareq Al-Suwaidan for the first time. It was December, and the holy month of Ramadan was about to start. I liked him so much. The way he was talking affected me and made me feel safe and relaxed. So I decided to contact him. By the end of the program, this link was written: Dr. Tareq Al-Suwaidan (www.suwaidan.com). It was like the drop of water given to a lost man in the desert for me. I visited the website and picked his email and messaged him. He was sincere enough to reply to my emails. He helped me to deal with that woman and guided me to a bright future. He supported me for almost four month to launch my difficult and joyful path in life. He is still replying to my emails till now and he never let me down.

From here, form my own blog I would like to declare it to the world. I like this man and hope that me and him meet in paradise with our dearest beloved Prophet Mohammmad (Peace and Blessings be Upon Him). Thanks God for having Dr. Tareq Al-Suwaidan in my life.

Now, I am the moderator of "Cultures Forum"; an English section of "Al-Suwaidan's Forum" which you may visit on www.suwaidan.com/forum . I also work as a remote translator for Al-Suwaidan's Gulf Innovation Company located in Kuwait. That is beside my work as a translator for a human rights organization located in Egypt (www.hrinfo.net) and the Executive Director of Softcopy Translation Center (http://targama.bravehost.com). I also translate as a volunteer for some human rights organizations and publishing houses in Egypt. He ehlped me to be Dalia Ziada as I love she to be.

Dr. Tareq Al-Suwaidan; Thank You. Yet, I have to thank Allah first. So thanks God.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Muslim = Ambitiously Satisfied Human



The word Muslim refers to the person; male or female, who chooses the Islam to be his/her religion. That is the definition mostly used by academic studies and public. Yet, the word Muslim has more profound meanings, because Islam is not merely a religion that one should keep in his heart and practice in Masjid and no more. Islam is the religion who taught the human how to live, how to deal with his/her own self and how to interact with others. Therefore, I believe that the word Muslim has much thorough meaning.

My definition for the word Muslim may be summarized in the following sentence: "Muslim= An ambitiously satisfied human". I invented this definition upon my own experience for being a Muslim for almost 24 years (my lifetime). That is how I was taught to live. Frankly enough, not all Muslims practice their Islam in the same way. Some Muslims are still "ghafelin" [unaware of the fact of their lives] and some others are "motazamedien" [extremists]. i.e., the above definition may not be applied on all Muslims. However, the person who could reach this point and practice his/her religion as an ambitiously satisfied person will gain success in both current life and the after-life.

Can you see any contradiction in the above definition? Actually, there is no contradiction. Let's analyze the items of the definition to eliminate any misconceptions that might affect you as a reader. The definition contains only three words: "Muslim= An ambitiously satisfied human" [ambitiously, satisfied and human].

The first item "Ambitious" refers to the power that must overwhelm the Muslim in all his actions and reactions in life. For the Muslim to be ambitious means to have a certain goal in life. This goal must be derived from the ultimate goal that any Muslim seeks; which is to please Almighty Allah. That does not mean to pray all day and night. Allah created us to bring life to the Earth. So one may be ambitious in his/her work out of his/her ambition to please Allah.

The second word is "satisfied". Satisfaction means to accept and be pleased with all you have, because in fact this is granted to you by Almighty Allah. Allah is fair. If you do not have all the pleasures that the other person have, it does not mean that Allah disregarded you or does not love you. Allah is fair. As long as we believe that Allah is fair, we must accept all He is doing with our lives even if we do not like this thing to happen. For example, if Almighty Allah caused your dearest person to die, you have to be sure that Allah is hiding a better reward for you (only if you did not object).

Satisfaction does not contradict ambition. You might have a question: "if satisfaction means to accept what Allah grants me and ambition means to seek progress and do my best to have a better life, how could I apply this on myself to be a True Muslim (according to the above definition)!! Let me provide you with the answer. It is true that satisfaction means to be pleased with your statuesque and ambition means to seek the development of your statuesque. Yet, you did not notice the amplification of this. Ambition is to "SEEK"; i.e. to do your best and pray for Allah to help and support you. That is what makes our lives valuable enough to live. However, if after all the efforts you exerted to achieve your goal, Allah decided not to grant it to you never be unsatisfied. You have to be sure that Allah did this because He knows what is best for you. Allah the most Merciful loves us His servants. Just wait and you will see. After a few days, months or even years, you will find the reward of Allah for being satisfied with His decree.

The last word in the definition is "HUMAN". What a word!! It needs hundreds of pages to be clarified. The human is the inheritent of Almighty Allah on Earth. The Human is the supreme creature honored by Allah. You have an intellect, your body is straight, you look beautiful and you are decent and merciful. That is how Almighty Allah created you and wanted you to be. Now, please ask your self: "Am I truly a human? Do I deserve this title?" If you are, praise Allah and thank Him for this. If you are not, please try to change your self and pray for Allah to show you the right way. Be a human as Allah wants you to be, in order to be a true Muslim who shall gain success and love in this life and paradise and joy in the other life.This is how the Muslim should be; from my own point of view.

May Allah help me and you to be an ambitiously satisfied humans; a Muslim.

Who is Dalia Ziada?



Dalia Ziada, Egyptian liberal human rights activist.

I was born in Cairo, Egypt in January 2nd, 1982 and I still live there. I hold BA in English Literature from Ain Shams University. Right now, I am studying for MA Degree in International Relations from Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. I do believe in myself and in my unlimited ability to achieve my goals.

My interest in advocating civil freedoms and human rights in the Middle East and North Africa region started as a personal cause. Since I was 8 years-old, I wanted to change my family's stance towards women's rights in general and stop using violence against women in particular.

When I grew up, my personal interest in having more equal rights as a woman expanded to my country, Egypt. As an undergraduate, I co-launched a campaign with four of my class-mates to spread awareness about the horrible psychological and physical consequences of Female Genital Mutilation and try to convince parents not to practice FGM against their innocent helpless daughters.

After graduation, my interest in women's rights expanded to be an interest in human rights and civil freedoms in the whole Middle East and North Africa region. I joined Al-Ahram newspaper as a sub-training and then a professional reporter on foreign affairs. I worked their for two years before the tragic sudden death of my father in 2004. It took me a whole 18 months to accept his death and be able to go back to normal life and continue pursuing my dreams.

By the end of 2005, I joined the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information as a translator and researcher. My top notch under working with ANHRI was co-creating a bi-lingual report on freedom to use the internet in the Middle East and North Africa region, titled "Implacable Adversaries: Arab Governments and the Internet."

By the end of 2006, my friend blogger Kareem Amer was taken to jail for allegedly "defaming the Egyptian president and disdaining Islam on his blog!" I co-launched an international campaign to defend his right to freedom of expression, but unfortunately the court sentenced him to 4 years. He is still in jail up till this moment.

By the beginning of 2007, Tharwa Foundation offered me a part-time position as their local coordinator in Egypt. I worked with them till the end of 2007. My top notch under working with Tharwa Foundation was authoring an analysis report titled "Egypt, Whereto?!" on the future of political and civil rights movements in Egypt.

By July 2007, I quit ANHRI to found the Cairo office of the American Islamic Congress and manage AIC activities in the MENA region. My top notches under working with AIC include: starting the first human rights film festival in the history of the Middle East, translating the Montgomery Story comic book into Arabic and distributing all over the MENA region, launching 5F campaign to promote religious tolerance in Egypt, launching the "AB Human Rights Campaign" for Egyptian primary school children, working on a long-term women's rights project aiming at adopting a new narrative for women in the Muslim World, and advising local (Egyptian), regional (MENA), and American policymakers (i.e. Senators, Congressmen, White House Advisors, State Department officials, etc.) on how to best address human rights, women rights, and freedom of expression in the Middle East. In June 2009, I was invited to the historical speech of President Obama to the Muslim world from Cairo. After the speech, I met privately with White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarret.

I gave different lectures and presentations on civil rights, human rights, women's rights, Muslim-American relations, and the power of nonviolent action in different places all over the world; US, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, etc.

In addition, I am still running my small business at Softcopy Translation Center. Also, I facilitate work for international NGOs (e.g. Avaaz.org, and others) in Egypt and the Middle East.

Accordingly, I had several appearances on prominent international media outlets. My favorite are: CNN commenting on President Obama's Cairo speech in June 2009 as I was invited to attend the speech and afterwards I met privately with White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarret; Time Magazine which labeled me as Muslim Rights Champion; Cultural Connect magazine which profiled me as a successful young business woman when I was 24 years-old; Rosalyusif interview which profiled me as one of Egypt's success stories; BBC Radio interview which profiled me as one of the women on the forefront in Egypt, and the French Le Monde interview which portrayed me as a leading political and woman rights activist.

One more important final thing; I am a poet. My first poetry book was published in January 2010 and distributed in Egypt. Early in 2006, I wrote a poem titled "Lam Alef" about the power of the word "No!" in Arabic and translated into English. It was political and critical to the submissive nature of Egyptian public against their suppressors. Mideast Youth website published it for me. Few weeks later, I was surprised when an American reader bought it to hang on the wall in her house. By the end of 2006, I wrote a poem defending freedom of expression titled "Prisoner" in Arabic and translated into English. By the beginning of the year 2007, I was shocked when I learnt that an Egyptian judge filed a claim in the court against me. He was offended by my poem and demanded from the court to block my own blog, only because of this poem. Thank God! By the end of 2007, the court rejected his claim and my blog is still here.

P.s. This post was last updated on Sunday July 25th, 2010.