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My body behind the Egyptian flag in my grandma’s home, Cairo, 2011. (Credit: Farah Khalaf)

Where I come from, I’m the devil’s incarnation

The fallen woman

Lilith.

You see, there’s always a dichotomy at play:

The sinner, not the saint.

The whore and the prostitute.

I am the one without a hymen

The one mothers spend lifetimes

protecting their daughters from becoming.

Even by cutting off their clitoris

By subjecting them to a lifetime of neurosis

And depriving them of sexual pleasure

Of their natural ‘birth-right’.

Their birth was a catastrophe

For they lacked a cock

Dangling between fleshy thighs

I am the adulterous. The mistress.

The one who says fucking and not making love.

The one who is unabashed.

“Have you no shame?” they ask in disgust and disbelief

“No.” I say in front of my people.

Those who condemned me

To a lifelong of oppression

And if they could, they would stone me

Scornful laughter and feet stomping

on the jagged streets of Cairo.

“What a whore… She deserves even more.

We pray to Allah that she rots in hell”

The noises pierce through my damaged body

My cracked bones and open skull

My protruding eye

Bloody lips.

I broke out of society’s contours.

Dictating, policing, destroying, desiring and fearing my body.

Am I a fallen woman because I experienced my sexuality?

Or is it because I dared derive pleasure from it?

Perhaps because they couldn’t detect a trace of shame.

Of regret. Of loss.

They believe a woman gives herself up during sex.

For me, it’s a process of mutual transaction: I give and take pleasure.

Never saw it as a form of sacrifice.

Never sensed a lack upon fucking.

And never did I ‘value’ myself less, because a membrane is gone.

I have inked my body and ripped through many skin tissues.

No one seemed to mind when the scars were red and visible on my arms.

The only wound they saw in me was me: The opening between my thighs.

My vagina. I was my vagina and they saw me as colonized by a foreign invasion that they needed to revolt against.

I am the enemy now.

I am a dangerous force to my home.

I’m calling for sexual-liberation and empowerment. But both the women and men fear me.

Or despise me.

I have been condemned to death by stoning.

Come and enjoy the spectacle tomorrow in the main square.

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► Monday: Kreuzberg – Amerika

phot

As a part of the collaborative project Werkstatt für Photographie 1976 – 1986, this exhibition traces the history and influences of the Berlin based photography institute to commemorate its 40th anniversary. The renown of this institute is a result of its innovative approach towards photography as an independent form of art and a means of cultural expression. Over 250 photographs, both iconic and lesser known, are featured in this exhibition. They include works from 70s and 80s West Berlin as well as the United States.

  • When: 11:00 – 20:00
  • Where:  Amerika Haus – Hardenbergstraße 22–24, 10623 Berlin
  • Admission: 6€
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Muhammad Osman Ali Chaudry’s Wisdom Salad is available locally in Pakistan as well as the Bard College Berlin library.

Chaudhry’s Wisdom Salad

Osman Chaudhry, age 18, is Bard College Berlin’s youngest published author. His first book “Wisdom Salad” (named after his band) is currently available in Pakistan, as well as in the Bard College Berlin library.

In the form of poems and brief commentaries, this book is a thematic mixture of religion, death, love, hate… you name it!

“I was young and idealistic,” Osman says, “so I decided to solve the problems of the world,” he smiles to himself. I smile too, why stop being young and idealistic?

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Cover photo

In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art. (Rumi)

Peaceful silence fills the largest hall of the Werkstatt der Kulturen. Around three hundred people inhabit its rows waiting for the attention-catching moments they can eternalize with their prepared cameras. Their curious expressions and high expectations come into being without uttering a single sound. Their eyes are fixed on the stage; their gaze awaits the dancing energies of the divine to materialize. Three minutes later, they finally do.

Everyone finds themselves in a paralyzing trance of the whirling dervishes and the accompanying, divinely-inspired psychedelic music. Ever since 13th century Persia, the Islamic branch of the Mevlevi Sufi Order has mesmerized, awed and enchanted the spectators of their dance and music. Seven centuries later, on a chilly & gray Berlin afternoon, the Sufi Ensemble Rabbaniyya gathered Berliners of all ages and boroughs to Neukölln and its cultural hub (Werkstatt der Kulturen) for one of the most memorable performances at the intercultural Sacred Music&Dance Festival.

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'Hier ist Kunst' - this year's festival motto

‘Hier ist Kunst’ – this year’s festival motto

Known for its scope as the largest annual art festival in Berlin, this year’s 48 Stunden Neukölln, taking place from the 14th to the 16th June, managed to attract a lot of media attention and visitors to the often disregarded Berlin district – Neukölln.

The specific aspect of the festival is its openness when it comes to participation. Every artist or resident, living in Neukölln, is welcome to register and thereby get involved. There is no jury that decides what fits the program, and as long as the deadlines are met, all cultural events imagined by Neuköllner artists, performers, dancers, and freelancers are welcome for presentation. The main concept of the festival is therefore ‘open access to everyone’, which presents itself as an opportunity for the realization of artistic and cultural projects that in the end improve the quality of life in the area.

Nine Small Prints Can Alone Constitute A Whole Exhibition - according to this Neukölln artist

Nine Small Prints Can Alone Constitute A Whole Exhibition – according to this Neukölln artist

48 Stunden Neukölln, organized by Kulturnetzwerk Neukölln e.V., is held for exactly 48 hours – from 7pm on Friday to 7pm on Sunday. All parts of the program take place in the “Altstadt” of Neukölln and a new motto is chosen each year. This year’s eye-catching motto, found on almost every building, as soon as one approached the Neukölln area, was Hier ist Kunst, or Here is Art: a catchy phrase that invited all visitors to join the Neukölln art world.

Of course, as many festivals of open nature such as this one, 48 Stunden Neukölln too had a lot of very qualitative and some less artistically–rich program. I would say, however, that its main goal of improving the cultural conditions in Neukölln was quite successful – the whole area seemed enlivened during the two days of the festival, with many visitors both from this district and from all over Berlin. The atmosphere was cheerful: music, art, theatre, and different voices of expression overflowed Neukölln during this period.

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Digitally Divine

Digitally Divine

Pope John Paul II introduced the world to the “Pope-mobile.”  Pope Benedict XVI’s Church of the new millennium gives “mobile” new meaning.  Released only a few weeks ago, the app Confession: A Roman Catholic App, available for iPhones, iPods, and iPads, allows those who are equally devout to their smartphone as to their faith to take their penance on the go.

The app was not designed by the Catholic Church but it has received an official imprimatur from a bishop. This is like the Church’s gold seal of approval. With its penchant for bureaucracy, this certification by the Church in effect endorses the new smartphone feature as a legitimate means of practicing the faith.

The Catholic Church has been in the process of updating its image lately.  The Pope is now on YouTube, and he recently issued a statement encouraging the flock to make use of modern technology for religious endeavors, albeit with a caveat of caution. “Entering cyberspace can be a sign of an authentic search for personal encounters with others,” he said, “provided that attention is paid to avoiding dangers such as enclosing oneself in a sort of parallel existence, or excessive exposure to the virtual world.” (Reuters, Jan. 24)

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