Middle East culture

The paradox of Christmas

(The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday, December 20, 2014)

ISTANBUL, TURKEY ✦It was a Sunday, the first day of Advent, en route from Hamilton to my African home, when I toured the Old City here, a place where religions and cultures and empires have collided for centuries. This is when my guide for the day said what he did.

I had asked him about some historic notes and holy relics in the Topkapi Palace Museum, items identified as thousands of years old from ancient Israel, but looking dubiously more modern and Ottoman-like, when he told me as plainly as if he was giving the weather report that, “It’s all mythology anyway. Whatever you believe is true, that’s the truth.”

Ottawa impotent in Kazemi case

A handful of lessons are buried in the sorry state of Iran’s recent investigation and trial involving the death of Canadian photo- journalist Zahra Kazemi. They’re buried in the pile of lies and nonsense that’s often engrained in the not-so-free world, where, in my experience, up is certainly down if the right person says it’s so.

Learning Arabic 101

Iraq. Can it be saved? Six months after its liberation, Iraqis are still short on power, electrical and otherwise. The Yanks are still being greeted with grenades as much as with flowers and hugs. And how did those weapons of mass destruction disappear?

Who will play the movie’s wacky Iraqi?

Telling Lies in Iraq is my choice for the name of the flick we can only hope will be made about former Iraqi minister of misinformation Mohammed Saeed Sahaf. If it’s anything like a satirical Web site on this new cult figure, a site that once had an incredible 4,000 hits per minute, this movie will be stunning.

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