The ONLY active voice for American Arab Journalists.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

New play addresses religious oppression in Iran, debuts in Chicago in November

For Immediate Release: September 19, 2008
Jay Paul Deratany, Writer/Producer, 312.375.3574
Two Iranian Teenage Boys sentenced for crimes against God
Permoveo Productions, presents the world premier of the play:
Haram Iran a play written by Jay Paul Deratany
At the Athenaeum Theater
Please Be Our Guest on Opening Night, Saturday, November 8th, at 8 p.m.

Chicago – Haram Iran, written by Jay Paul Deratany and Directed by David Zak, is based on the true story about the trial of two Iranian teenagers in Mashad, Iran in 2005.
Haram Iran tells the story of two boys coming of age, and struggling with their identities as Arab Iranians, and as typical teenagers longing to discover their place in the world. Ayaz Marhouni and Mahmoud Asgari, two fifteen year old boys who may have been experimenting with their sexuality-- like many teenagers do, however, they get caught in an innocent situation, publicly humiliated and tried in the Iranian legal system. The story follows the boys' passions--one for literature and the other for sports--and their friendship. The play takes the audience into the complexity of their relationship, and then the horrifying ordeal of being tried by an unforgiving Iranian legal system which misinterprets the Muslim law of Sharia.
The dates, names and many of the facts are true, however the trial scenes and much of the side story of the boys is fictional since it is not known exactly what occurred during the trial. What is known is that they were adolescents, who were tried and sentenced for "moral sins".
In Iran thousands of people, including children, are jailed or killed each year, some because they are women who have had pre-maritial sex, and others because they are considered to be homosexual.
Haram Iran is critical of Iranian politics and their very flawed legal system. This play does not, however critique or criticize Muslims, or the Islamic faith, which is a loving and peaceful religion. In fact, to the contrary, the writer draws the distinction between a loving faith and some of its misguided extremist followers.
Producer/writer Jay Paul Deratany has said "this play is about exposing the human rights violations being committed on a daily basis, therefore I will be donating a significant portion of the of the profits from this play to Amnesty International for the aid and assistance to Iranians who suffer from torture and injustice." So when you buy your ticket, remember that some of your ticket price will go to help those who are in desperate need of our care and love.

Opening Night
Thursday, November 8th at 8:00
Regular Performances are
November 6, 7 and 8 - 8:00 pm
November 9 - matinee 2:00 pm
November 13, 14, 15 - 8:00 p.m
November 16 - matinee 2:00 pm
November 20, 21, 22 - 8:00 pm
November 23 - matinee 2:00 pm
November 28, 29 - 8:00 pm
November 30 - matinee 2:00 pm
December 4, 5, 6 - 8:00 pm
December 7 - matinee 2:00 pm
$20 for Adults
$18 for Students & Seniors
Theater seats 60
Tickets are available through TicketMaster® at or by calling TicketMaster® at 312-559-1212, you will be able to guarantee your space and print your tickets online.

Tickets are also available at the Athenaeum Theater.

2936 N. Southport
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 935-6860

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Taybeh Palestine OctoberFest Oct 11-12,2 008

Release, Taybeh Municipality,
Taybeh-Ramallah, Palestine
Festival Coordinator: Dr. Maria C. Khoury,
Mobile: 054 5 465 845 or 059 318 347 Email:
(Nadim Khoury +972 2 289 8868) Sept 20, 2008

Taybeh Oktoberfest, the 4th annual village festival is scheduled, Sat and Sun, Oct 11 &12, 2008 in Taybeh-Ramallah, Palestine, 11 am to 10 pm with the opening celebration, 11am at the Taybeh Municipality on Sat, Oct 11th including Al Kamandjati Music and Duernbach Blas Music Band from Bavaria. A successful 2005 first time event initiated by Taybeh Brewing Company, the Oktoberfest in Palestine promoting all local products produced in Taybeh thus boosting the local economy has become a favorite for thousands including dignitaries, ministers and head of representative offices. The festival is the cooperative work of Taybeh Municipality ( and its mayor David Canaan Khoury with all local civic organizations.

The most magnificent site in Taybeh, the Byzantine ruins of St. George Greek Orthodox Church is now a national protected archeological site. New plans are underway in cooperation with Riwaq and the Spanish Cooperation for preventive restoration of Taybeh’s historical old town maintaining traditional architecture with the vision of moving future Oktoberfest activities to the historic neighborhood.

The Taybeh Oktoberfest allows participants to share in the ancient roots of Palestine since Taybeh is one of the oldest places in the region known by its Biblical name Ephraim thereby offering visitors a cultural, educational and ancient heritage on one of the highest mountain regions in Palestine. With a population of less than 2,000, Taybeh residents who suffer to exist under Israeli occupation experience the Oktoberfest as the ultimate form of non violent action.

Taybeh Beer, a leading Palestinian manufacturer who made history launching Taybeh Golden Beer in August 1995 will continue its leading role by introducing the first Palestinian non-alcohol Brew made in traditional German style, 100% malt. This light, crisp, refreshing drink will continue to inspire a Palestinian Oktoberfest in search for freedom and democracy.

The origins of the “Oktoberfest” date back to 1810, when a lavish five-day celebration was held all over Munich to mark the wedding of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig.

Music groups will include Spafford Children’s Center, Wael Abu Salom and Mohamed Hadeeb; Culture Shock, the new Rock-Rap Band; Sanabel; G-Town Hip Hop Makers; Zaman Arabic Gipsy Music; Cinderella-Al Kasaba Theater; Karate Demonstration from Japan; Sarab for Dance; Assayel Dance Troup; Ramallah Orthodox Club; Al Ghad Al Jadid Folklore (Beit Sahour); Ibdaa Dance Troup (Bethlehem) and many local Dabkeh groups. Taybeh will host the first Tag Rugby in Palestine Ramallah Blue Snakes vs Beit Jala Lions RFC, 1 pm, Sunday, October 12th, Taybeh Soccer Field, North entrance of Taybeh.

Please join us Saturday and Sunday, October 11 and 12, 2008, in Taybeh, Palestine.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Press COnference Thursday Sept. 25, New York on anti-Muslim hate DVD "Obsessions"

Contact and RSVP: Meryl Zegarek Public Relations,, 917-493-3601


DATE/TIME Thursday, September 25, 2008 4:30pm - 5:30pm
WHERE: Intersections, 274 Fifth Avenue (at 29th Street) NYC
WHAT: The Cost of War at Home & Abroad Series addresses Muslims in the Media– panelists discuss the media's portrayal of Muslims post 9-11 and how that has affected the Islamic community. They will also address the 60 minute video “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” distributed by the Clarion Fund, which plays on fear, and distorts the reality of the Muslim community. As recent as this past weekend, this DVD has begun distribution to 28 million households in the U.S. bundled as an advertising supplement in newspapers, including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal (specifically in cities outside of NYC). The film features Daniel Pipes, Alfons Heck, Walid Shoebat, Nonie Darwish and others.

Intersection’s Executive Director, Rev. Robert Chase, will moderate the press conference and will also unveil a new website about Muslims in America called The website addresses the lack of understanding of Muslims in the U.S. with the intent to build bridges of understanding across lines of faith and culture, and counter the stereotypical narratives of Muslims portrayed in our media, and in propaganda such as the Obsession video.

WHO: (the multi-cultural global initiative of The Collegiate Churches of NY), and Faith House Manhattan. Panelists will address the press and take questions (prior to the public event, 7pm - 9pm)

• Debbie Almontaser, founding & former principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy
• Anisa Mehdi; Emmy-award winning filmmaker, consultant about Muslims to academic institutions and media outlets;
• Hussein Rashid, founder of, works with major political figures and institutions, advising them on the history and culture of Muslims. – is a new website aimed at combating harmful stereotypes about Muslims that persist in American society. It was inspired by a new and major report, Changing Course: A New Direction for U.S. Relations with the Muslim World. The report was compiled by the Leadership Group on U.S. Muslim Engagement, comprised of more than thirty American leaders, including such luminaries as Madeleine Albright, Stephen Covey, Daniel Yankelovich, Vin Weber and Imam Feissal Abdul Rauf. This report will be released on September 24th at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

(Daisy Kahn, Ex. Director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA), is on the public panel, but not yet confirmed for the press conference.)

Meryl Zegarek Public Relations, Inc.
255 West 108th Street, Suite 9D1
New York, New York 10025
Office/Land-line 917-493-3601 Fax: 917-493-3598

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

ADC commemorates Sabra and Shatilla massacres

ADC Remembers Sabra and Shatila

Washington DC | September 16, 2008 | | Today, marks 26 years since one of the bloodiest and most brutal massacres in recent history, the 1982 massacre of Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

Twenty six years ago, shortly after the Israeli army seized control of West Beirut, Lebanon, right wing Phalangist militia forces, under the direction of Israeli forces, made their way into the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila located on the outskirts of the city. Once in the camps the militias massacred hundreds of defenseless men, women and children. Israeli troops, who were in control of the area, allowed the militias into the camps, prevented the refugees from fleeing for their lives, and lit the night sky with a continuous series of flares as the killing raged for two days. The US had pulled its troops out of Beirut just days prior to the massacres, and had given a guarantee of protection to the residents of the refugee camps.

Following massive outrage and protest from the international community as well as from Israeli citizens, the Israeli government formed The Kahan Commision of Inquiry. The Commission found that Israel was responsible for participating in the violence and recommended the dismissal of the Army Chief of Staff. Then Defense Minister Ariel Sharon was also forced to resign after the Commission concluded that he bore personal responsibility for the massacre, and should never hold public office again. In 2001, Sharon became the Prime Minister of Israel a position he held until he suffered a massive stroke which rendered him incapable of carrying out his duties as Prime Minister.

ADC C President Mary Rose Oakar said, "We must take the time to remember the victims of the horrific Sabra and Shatila massacre. The massacre is a reminder to us all of the tragedy of Palestinian refugees who have been excluded from their homeland for more than half a century and their vulnerability as a stateless people. It underlines the necessity for a just settlement to the refugee issue based on the Right of Return, which is enshrined for all refugees in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Fourth Geneva Convention, and was specifically applied to the Palestinian refugees in UN Resolution 194."

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee |
1732 Wisconsin Ave., NW | Washington, DC | 20007
Tel: 202-244-2990 | Fax: 202-244-7968 | E-mail:
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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Arab author dissects Sarah Palin in new book "Barracuda"


This timely book describes how McCain’s choice of ‘the Barracuda’, a.k.a. Sarah Palin, as his running mate, opened the flood gates of the media to controversy and speculations.

While Radio host Rush Limbaugh and former Bush adviser Karl Rove hailed Palin, some Republicans were dismayed, who felt the choice underscored McCain's weaknesses. Palin is facing an investigation in Alaska for alleged abuse of power involving her former brother-in-law.

McCain’s choice of Palin could not have been more timely and savvy. Palin managed to steal all the attention and the limelight from Senator McCain who could not be happier!

American media has quickly turned its attention from JoeBama to McPalin – but more so to Republican VP and Alaska Governor Sarah. Where does Palin buy her eyewear? Will Oprah ever have Palin on her show? She’s been in the spotlight for few days and has given plenty of news for the media to talk about

McCain-Palin Republican presidential campaign buttons now read “The Hottest Chick,” “Our mama is better than your Obama,” “Read my Lipstick,” “She proved you can throw a punch with a French manicure.”

“Though Sarah Palin is clearly a powerful speaker, I kept thinking it was a monologue on Saturday Night Live and Palin was "news roaster" Tina Fey, says one commentator.

“Will the media test her on substance or let her play "Ms. Congeniality?" It is up to the public to see through the fact-free diet we're being fed. Despite Campaign Spin, McCain Would Be a Disaster on Women's Rights”, claims columnist Laura Flanders.

Columnist Kimberly Gadette describes Palin pick as “The Bikini Car Wash: One Sexist Tradition” “in selecting Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, John McCain is dusting off an old GOP tool: the estrogen guard. Slap a friendly, female face on a hard core-conservative political platform, and pray that the pundits will only take pot-shots and talk about gender. It worked for George W. Bush and it just may work for Palin”.

The choice of Sarah Palin, as it seems, is a high risk bet that could bring high rewards, but there are no guarantees. Many wonder whether she is ready to be vice-president and lead the US, should something happen to McCain if he is elected president.

Democrats said they felt insulted that McCain thought he could woo women by just putting any woman on his ticket, with one sentence making the rounds: "Palin, you are no Hillary Clinton".

Aladdin Elaasar’s BARRACUDA is a must-read for all American voters and those following American elections and politics. The result of this year’s election will not only impact the USA, but many nations around the globe.

In this timely book, Aladdin Elaasar investigates: Who is the real Sarah Palin? Palin’s Political Records; Palin’s connections with Big Business and Big Oil. Is Sarah Palin’ an Extremist? Is she a Zombie Republican or a Right Wing Feminist? How Populist is Sarah Palin? Can Sarah Palin's faux-feminist machismo and her handlers succeed in using purely symbolic appeals and Culture Wars to camouflage her actual record and the plain contradictions in her story? Will the Slogan of the McCain/Palin Administration- in their quest for oil- be: Drill, Baby, Drill?


For media reviews and interview:
Please contact

Aladdin Publications
1723 Hudson Bay,
Palatine, Illinois 60074
Tel 847 668 4206

About the Author

Aladdin Elaasar is a syndicated columnist and lecturer. Some of his writings are: “Iraq, the State and Terrorism”; where he predicted the downfall of former Dictator Saddam Hussein. Elaasar also wrote: Silent Victims: The plight of Arabs and Muslims in Post 9/11 America. And “The Last Pharaoh: Mubarak and the Uncertain Future of Egypt in the Volatile Mid East”. Elaasar has been a frequent commentator on Middle Eastern affairs on several local American TV and Radio networks and media and cultural consultant since 1992. Email him at:

Praise for the Last Pharaoh

"Peeling back layer after complex layer of Egyptian intrigue, culture and politics, Aladdin de-mystifies Egypt without tarnishing her almost mystical status as the pinnacle of Arabian culture, and the bedrock of human civilization. The book is stunning in its revelations of Mubarak’s stranglehold on every aspect of life in this glorious, long suffering nation. Connecting one mysterious dot to the next, Aladdin teases the reader from chapter to chapter as he lucidly explains the details of Egypt’s worst kept secrets of all…the ‘secret’ of Mubarak’s power and how he plans to rule from his own royal crypt. "

- Professor Tate Miller, expert on International Negotiations; Conflict Management; Government Relations and Diplomacy; Cross-cultural Communication, and Senior Lecturer at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

The Last Pharaoh should be indispensable to anyone -

“Combining an uncanny sense of clarity and understatement, Aladdin Elaasar weaves Egypt’s historical grandeur with an unnerving cascade of political intrigue that reveals a side of Mubarak the world cannot long ignore. In one fell swoop, my admiration for Egypt is both strengthened, and the source of my unease revealed, as the author sheds light on the darkness of Egyptian politics that could one day turn catastrophic. With so much at stake, the west is slowly coming to grips with a new reality; a reality which no single book or author could possibly address. But the views expressed by Aladdin Elaasar in The Last Pharaoh should be indispensable to anyone hoping to understand Egypt’s role, not only the Middle East, but the potential for Mubarak’s Egypt to impact the destiny of global events.”

- Professor Tate Miller, Assistant Dean for Academic Programs and Senior Lecturer of International Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies

Why everyone has to read this book? -

“Let me give you the four scariest words I can't pronounce in Arabic: Egypt after Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak's "emergency rule" dictatorship is deep into its third decade, making him one of Egypt's most durable pharaohs. His succession plan is clear: Son Gamal tries to replicate Beijing's model of economic reform, forestalling political reform... “

- Thomas P. M. Barnett, Esquire columnist and author of “The Country to Watch: Egypt"

Friday, September 05, 2008

Aramica Publisher maced by Police at Denver Democratic COnvention

View the New York Times video report?

SPJ criticizes arrests at conventions

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Clint Brewer, SPJ President, (615) 301-9229,
Scott Leadingham, SPJ Communications Coordinator, (509)859-2818,

ATLANTA – Leaders of the Society of Professional Journalists, currently meeting in Atlanta for the annual SPJ Convention and National Journalism Conference, are expressing outrage over recent arrests of journalists at both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions.

SPJ, which represents journalists in all types of media outlets, is especially concerned that police in Denver and St. Paul=2 0have displayed aggressive tactics that interfere with the free flow of information and the constitutional guarantee of a free press. Additionally, what may have been viewed as an isolated incident in Denver last week has spilled over to St. Paul. SPJ firmly believes that both incidents represent an unacceptable infringement of the rights of journalists and, ultimately, a disservice to the public.

“There is a distinct and important difference between law enforcement officers keeping order and arbitrarily exercising police power,” said SPJ President Clint Brewer. “It’s clear that in both Denver and St. Paul, the journalists who were arrested were fulfilling their professional obligation to report objectively and fairly. As an organization that advocates on behalf of the journalism profession, we can’t sit idly by while members of our industry are treated unfairly.”

Last week, ABC News producer Asa Eslocker was arrested in Denver as he and a film crew were preparing an investigative piece on the role of lobbyists at the DNC.

This week, the arrests of journalists continued in St. Paul as three people with the independent news program “Democracy Now!” were arrested while covering the story of protests at the20RNC. One of those arrested was the show’s host, Amy Goodman, who ran to the scene after receiving a phone call that two of her producers, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, were under arrest. A now popular video on YouTube shows Goodman’s arrest. The video suggests that Goodman was acting as a journalist seeking information about her producers, not as a protestor. Matt Rourke, an Associated Press photographer, was also arrested in the same incident.

While SPJ is disturbed that the police have blurred the line between protestors and journalists covering such protests, it is not condemning the actions of police to maintain public safety when demonstrations become violent.

“Police have a duty to protect and serve the public. So, too, do journalists serve the public interest,” said Brewer. “SPJ doesn’t object to the police stopping violence. Rather, we are merely alarmed by the disconcerting trend of journalists being treated as if they are a threat to public safety, when they are clearly fulfilling their roles as professional reporters.”

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, the Society of Professional Journalists promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For further information about SPJ, please visit


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sheikh Zayed Book Award entry deadline approaching

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award, one of the world’s most prestigious and well-funded prizes, to see whether we could post a call for nominations for the award’s 2009 session on your website.

Writers from across the world are invited to apply across all nine categories of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award – with AED 7 million (€1,282,868) in prize money available for the winners.

Two of the 2008 Sheikh Zayed Book Award winners, whose work was judged to have contributed to the Arab world’s cultural development, were based in Europe.

Ibrahim Al Kouni, who resides in Switzerland and spent his childhood in the desert in Western Libya, won the Sheikh Zayed Book Award for Literature prize for his novel A Call Not Too Far. Rifa’at Al Chadirji, who now lives in Britain, won the 2008 Sheikh Zayed Book Award for Fine Arts.

We would therefore like to encourage any writers whose work has contributed to the Arab world’s cultural development to nominate themselves before the October 15 2008 deadline.

One of the 2008 Sheikh Zayed Book Award winners, whose work was judged to have contributed to the Arab world’s cultural development, resides in Switzerland. Ibrahim Al Kouni won the Sheikh Zayed Book Award for Literature prize for his novel A Call Not Too Far.

The award, which was established under the umbrella of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage and in memory of Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the UAE, has been running for three years with nine categories open for nominations:

• Literature
• Children’s Literature
• Translation
• Young Author
• Fine Arts
• Publishing & Distribution
• Cultural Personality of the Year
• Development of the Country
• Best Technology in Culture

Winning authors from previous years have received considerable attention in the international media as well as coverage across the Arab world.

If you would like some more details on the application process for next year’s award, visit

Monday, September 01, 2008

NAAJA protests arrest of Arab American journalist and two colleagues outside GOP Convention

Arab American journalist Sharif Abdel Kouddous, a producer at Democracy Now (, was arrested outside the GOP Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota along with host Amy Goodman and Nicole Salazar. They were covering a street protest.

The National Arab American Journalists Association ( , founded in 1999 and with 275 members nationwide, has issued a formal protest demanding the release of all three journalists.

"The National Arab American Journalists Association today protests the arrest of Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Amy Goodman and Nicole Salazar as they were reporting on a street protest outside of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul today," said NAAJA coordinator Ray Hanania.

"NAAJA demands thatr the three journalists be released immediately. Their arrest while covering a street protest is a violation of the protections accorded journalists in this country."

Here is the release issued by Democracy Now on the arrests:

ST. PAUL, MN-Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman was unlawfully arrested in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota at approximately 5 p.m. local time. Police violently manhandled Goodman, yanking her arm, as they arrested her. Video of her arrest can be seen here:

Goodman was arrested while attempting to free two Democracy Now! producers who were being unlawfully detained. They are Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar. Kouddous and Salazar were arrested while they carried out their journalistic duties in covering street demonstrations at the Republican National Convention. Goodman's crime appears to have been defending her colleagues and the freedom of the press.

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher told Democracy Now! that Kouddous and Salazar were being arrested on suspicion of rioting. They are currently being held at the Ramsey County jail in St. Paul.

Democracy Now! is calling on all journalists and concerned citizens to call the office of Mayor Chris Coleman and the Ramsey County Jail and demand the immediate release of Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar. These calls can be directed to: Chris Rider from Mayor Coleman's office at 651-266-8535 and the Ramsey County Jail at 651-266-9350 (press extension 0).

Democracy Now! stands by Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar and condemns this action by Twin Cities law enforcement as a clear violation of the freedom of the press and the First Amendment rights of these journalists.

During the demonstration in which they were arrested law enforcement officers used pepper spray, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and excessive force. Several dozen others were also arrested during this action.

Amy Goodman is one of the most well-known and well-respected journalists in the United States. She has received journalism's top honors for her reporting and has a distinguished reputation of bravery and courage. The arrest of Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar is a transparent attempt to intimidate journalists from the nation's leading independent news outlet.

Democracy Now! is a nationally syndicated public TV and radio program that airs on over 700 radio and TV stations across the US and the globe.

Video of Amy Goodman's Arrest:


Democracy Now! airs on over 650 radio and TV stations, including Pacifica, NPR, community, and college radio stations; on public access, PBS, satellite TV stations (DISH network: Free Speech TV ch. 9415 and Link TV ch. 9410;

Sharif grew up in Cairo, Egypt. He joined the Democracy Now! staff in 2003 after leaving the lucrative world of corporate investment banking. As the U.S. led occupation of Iraq was in full swing, Sharif traveled to Baghdad with DCTV filmmaker John Alpert. In addition to shooting video footage in Iraq for Democracy Now! Sharif reported from the streets of Baghdad on the occupation.

-- Ray Hanania