Monthly Archives: November 2013

Women’s Rights in Sudan

Developing countries have a history of humans rights abuses. For women in Sudan, this is unfortunately the case there as well.

The Sudanese Penal Code of 1991 sets strict rules for how women can dress in public. The law is not specific towards women, but allows for punishment of anyone who is determined to be dressed “inappropriately”. The exact law says, “whoever does in a public place an indecent act or an act contrary to public morals or wears an obscene outfit or contrary to public morals or causing an annoyance to public feelings shall be punished with flogging which may not exceed 40 lashes or with fine or with both.” (Huffington Post)

In August of 2013, a woman was arrested for refusing to cover her hair with a hijab when she was out in public. According to Sudanese law, that is punishable by flogging if convicted. Amira Osman Hamed was arrested over a decade ago for wearing pants in public. She refused to wear a headscarf because she was protesting the laws requiring her to cover up. 

According to Amnesty International, women suffered many abuses in response to political demonstrations that arose over the summer. Some women were “subjected to repeated virginity tests, amounting to torture or other ill-treatment.” (Amnesty International). Any demonstrators who attempted to get treatment at hospitals were then arrested by plain-clothed security officers.

In February of 2013, a young woman named Safia Ishaq was arrested and then gang-raped by Sudanese officials. Three members of the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Service arrested her for participating in a mass protest. When she resisted one of the men, she was beaten unconscious and then gang-raped. When she was released, she uploaded a video about it to YouTube because she refused to stay silent about sexual abuse.

You can read more about Sudan’s human rights violations at


by Courtney Doll


Sports in Iraq

By Congrong Zheng

When we talk about the sports of Iraq, we can never forget to mention the soccer (also called as football) in Iraq. The Men National team of Iraq soccer right now is ranking 109 and the women national team is ranked as 126, according to FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association). In Iraq there is about 540,000 soccer players , 16,000 registered players and 110 soccer club at Iraq.  Iraq national men football team is also the leading team in Asia. The national football team in Iraq has been established from 1948.

having a record won of a total of four Arab Nations Cup (1964, 1966, 1985, 1988). On the Asian level Iraq is one of the powerhouses having won the AFC Asian Cup once (2007), the Gold Medal of the Asian Games (1982), Three Gulf Cups of Nations (1979, 1984, 1988), and West Asia Championship (2002).

Iraq have been awarded the AFC National Team of the Year award two times (2004 and 2007), being the only team from West Asia to win this award.


Political issue has influenced the growth of Iraq football team.  On November 20, 2009, FIFA decided to suspend the Iraqi Football Association (IFA) due to governmental interference.

As we talked before, there are several women issues at Iraq. Women sports also faced a lot of obstacle and challenges. But Iraq women sports are still growing.

Jordanian Cuisine

Jordanian_FoodThe Jordanian cuisine is extremely festive and is heavily influenced by Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine. Pretty much every mealtime is a social event, where people gather together to share the prepared food. There is a large variety of cooking styles in Jordan but it is mostly the authentic meals such as shish kababs, shish taouks,and stuffing of vegetables (grape leaves, eggplants,etc) that stand apart from any other country.  Hummus is a very common and delicious appetizer that is eaten with freshly backed pita bread. “Mansaf is a Bedouin dish and often symbolizes a occasion. Mansaf consists of Arabic rice, a rich broth made from dry sour milk (jameed), and either lamb or chicken.” One can say that Jordanian cuisine highly resembles the Greek cuisine or Mediterranean cuisine.

The collective manner of sharing each meal, allows the Jordanian people to express their hospitality and generosity towards any guests and extended family members.  All the meals are put into appealing arrangements and that allows a person to get what they want easily.  Food is extremely important to Jordanian families because it reflects their culture and tradition.

Posted by Irina Franz

Worlds Highest Twitter Penetration

Worlds Highest Twitter Penetration

When you think of what country would have the most users on twitter, which country do you think of? The answer is Saudi Arabia. Does this answer surprise you? Well a surprising 41% of Saudi Arabian internet users have accounts on Twitter. While this number puts them in the lead for number of twitter users in proportion to area and population, the actual number of users is small. Only 54% of the population in Saudi Arabia uses the internet. So actually only about 6 million internet users are on twitter as compared to the 40 million users in the US. Only about 18% of the United States’ internet users are on twitter.

The rapid spread of Twitter in Saudi Arabia can be attributed to three main reasons, the largest two being the availability of high-speed Internet and smart mobile devices.

Smart phone penetration in the Kingdom exceeds 72 percent. The hot climate also makes the Internet in general and social networking sites in particular a real resort for the youth.
Thirdly, a large group of journalists, intellectuals and athletes, as well as foreigners residing in the Kingdom, use Twitter network to communicate with each other and discuss various social and local issues and developments in the Arab world.
These factors and others have contributed to the creation of more than a million new accounts on Twitter during the past year alone.

Posted By: Brittany Lintner


Women’s Rights Struggle in Jordan

jordan-s6-c30Although Jordan seems to be moving in a positive direction towards their future in area’s such as economy, environment and politics, the country is at standstill when it comes to women’s rights. Recently Jordan has seen a rise in women protesters on the streets. The women are strongly unsatisfied with their limited role in the country and politics. Women’s issues are not a priority for the country and the women are finally getting enough courage and strength to take their objections to the streets. It is estimated that approximately 55 percent of higher education is received by women. Yet, it is still not enough for the males to take notice of this fact. Most leadership positions are held by the males and the females are not even considered for these positions.

Recently Jordan updated their constitution to fit the countries pathway for the future. However, gender equality was absent and this pushed the women to form a protest against the absent of their rights. Recent studies show that women’s rights are being left behind or taken away due to  the Arab Spring. Many Muslim countries are looking towards conservative religions for some guidance.  Jordanian women need to keep pushing till they get some positive results from their government.

Posted by Irina Franz

Typified by Oppression, Women in Iran Fight for Essential Rights

By Connor J. Wangler

As in many countries where Islamic Sharia Law reigns supreme, the rights of women are often starkly different compared to those typified within Western culture. Iran is perhaps one of the most oppressive governments when it comes to women’s and girls’ rights as it is one of the most adherent law systems when it comes to Islamic law.

One area that seems to be a beacon of hope for women in the Islamic Republic, however, is in women’s education. According to Nayereh Tohidi, more than half of the university students in Iran are female, making up at least 70% of those studying engineering and science. Some fundamental conservatives in Iran argue that this will lead to a disparity in education and economic imbalances between men and women. This view hasn’t stopped several universities from encouraging the education of women by creating Women’s Studies programs that go up to the Masters Degree level.

Here is an interesting piece by FreeMiddleEast regarding what they call Iran’s “Gender Apartheid.”

Despite this prospect of advancement in education, women still suffer greatly in their inequality with men when it comes it several areas. One of these areas is female participation in sports. The “Bad Hijab” law, outlawing the exposure of any part of the body other than hands and face, has made it very difficult for Iranian women to participate in the full range of sports. This often leads Iran’s international representation in sporting events, such as the Olympics, to be dominated by men.

Source: Change for Equality

Even the fight for women’s rights is vilified by conservatives within the country as anti-Islamic and, therefore, morally reprehensible. The “One Million Signatures” campaign is an effort to end discrimination of women in Iranian laws by collecting one million petition signatures. One such law the campaign focuses on is one that gives greater value to male legal testimony over the testimonies of females. The female leaders of this campaign, unfortunately, have been attacked and, often, arrested. Several leaders of the campaign were arrested for allegedly contributing to banned websites.

Saudi Arabia’s Grace Period for Illegal Workers Comes To an End- Thousands Arrested

On Monday, Inspection squads started massive raids across Saudi Arabia to catch labor and residency law violators following the end of the amnesty period.

Thousands of illegals were apprehended in various regions of the kingdom. Roughly 5,000 unregulated men and women were apprehended over the course of one day.

Inspectors raided several public places and squares as well as places where illegals used to gather in various parts of the city.

A long queue stretched down the road outside a visa office as foreign workers tried to leave without paying fines for overstaying. Some carried personal possessions in hopes of leaving immediately.

In the Batha district, home to many low-paid foreigners, some shops were shut and only Saudi employees were working in others. Market stalls had vanished from the normally busy street where vendors hawk fruit, vegetables, clothes and mobile phones.

Before the amnesty period expired on Monday the government issued repeated warnings to foreigners to correct their status or face punishments including prison, fines and deportation. Companies employing expatriates without proper visas will also be fined, as will people or firms that charge expatriates a fee to sponsor their visa.

Posted By: Brittany Lintner

Sudan in the News

It’s been a busy week in the news for Sudan, and a lot of the news reflects poorly on the country. Here’s what’s been making headlines in Sudan this week:

  • Sudan’s most popular newspaper has (finally) been allowed to re-open after being forced closed for a month. The country had a string of protests against rising oil prices that cause extreme censorship of the media. The paper is run by al-Bashir’s uncle. Other media stations forced to close have still not been allowed to re-open. Sudan ranks near the very bottom of the list of countries based on free press. (Via Yahoo! News)


  • The Sudanese foreign minister Ali Ahmed Karti said that Sudan denied the Iranians when they offered to build Sudan missile defense platforms. These platforms would have helped the country stop future Israeli attacks. Many believe Israel attacked Sudan at least twice since 2009. (Via Sudan Tribune)JPEG - 32 kb
  • Parts of the country have begun a large campaign to reduce polio in the country. Officials hope 150,000 people will be able to get vaccinated to help prevent the spread of the disease. At least 3 people have been diagnosed with polio in South Sudan, and officials worry the disease will spread to Sudan.  (Via AllAfrica)
  • Sudan’s presidential assistant, Nafie Ali Nafie, is accusing “some” western countries of using their pull with the World Bank to harm Sudan. He says these countries, which he will not name, are trying to prevent Sudan from obtaining its rights. Nafie “said that Africa has long suffered from foreign agendas behind the humanitarian work, describing the African experience with the western voluntary organizations as “rough.” (via Sudan Tribune)
  • Sources:

Posted by Courtney Doll

Western Culture Influences Turkey

by Jessica Stone

The most known Turkish music types and popular music genres played in Turkey are:

  • Classical Turkish Music
  • Polyphonic Turkish Music
  • Turkish Folk Music
  • Arabesque / Belly Dance Music
  • Pop, Rock and Jazz
  • Military Music
  • Religious and Sufi Music

However, Western culture has greatly influenced popular music in Turkey.  There are several songs on iTunes Turkey Top 100 songs (updated hourly) that are also popular in the United States.  Besides their cultural music, Turkish people have been downloading songs such as The Monster by Eminem (feat. Rihanna) and Talk Dirty by Jason Derulo (feat. 2 Chainz).  The third most downloaded song is from one of Turkey’s pop artists, Erdem Kinay.

Popular Turkish movies reflect the people and culture of Turkey.  Similar to Americans, Turkish people go to movie theaters in their leisure time.  Here is a link to a blog by an American student studying abroad in Turkey.  In one post he wrote about the distinctions between the process of going to a movie in Turkey compared to America. Although the process is similar in some ways, which suggests the West’s cultural influence, he says the movie-going experience was much more enjoyable in Turkey.

According to Today’s Zaman, “Turkish films are very dramatic — the plot nearly always includes gun chases and romance. They always have a sad ending.”  The columnist also provides a descriptive list of leisure time activities in Turkey, and specific cultural names for traditions and items associated with popular activities.

Wikipedia‘s list of movies filmed in Turkey is actually surprising.  A few films on the list have received exceptional reviews and remain popular in the United States.  For example, two James Bond movies – The World is Not Enough and Skyfall – were filmed in Turkey, as well as Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,  Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Hitman. 


Jordan’s culture is very unique compared to other countries. When it comes to conversation,  Jordanians love to talk about religion but not if you are trying to push a different religion on  them. If you are trying to take the missionary approach, it might hurt your relationship with that person. They aren’t opposed  talking about money  such as  wages, rent, and other money related items. One thing you should try to avoid is asking them about their personal relationships with their spouses. This is considered very impolite. They enjoy talking about  soccer because it is the sport that brings the communities together. Talking about current event could be risky, especially if it’s about the west or Israel.

Gift giving can be tricky. Usually when you provide a gift to a family, it means that you are better off than them. Most of the time they will not get offended especially if you do it in secret or if you bring the gift to the children. Begging is extremely normal in Jordan. Actually, the beggars are considered to be sophisticated and well-trained and surprisingly the  profession is not considered to be t the bottom of professions. When it comes to expressing themselves, when Jordanians use quiet voices it shows that the person is well matured and respected. Loud voices reflect their emotional state, it could be love, grief or hate. Standing close to each other is actually very common and should not be surprising. Overall, Jordanians are extremely welcoming and nice people to all who enter their home.

Posted by Irina Franz