Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hareega's List of the Ten Most Controversial Figures in the Arab World

In a nation of more than 300 million people, who are extremely emotional, every famous person is a controversy.
But those ten people I'm going to discuss here were very exceptional in that the controversy they have created was very significant and lasted for a long time. Their lives, actions, thoughts and struggles have affected and will continue to affect our lives, thought, actions and struggles in the future.

1- Hasan Nasrallah

Despite the negative image about him in the West, the Arab street's opinion is split on the Hizbullah leader, and one can hardly find anyone who has a neutral opinion about him. To some he's the first Arab to score a military victory against Israel in decades, but to others he's only serving Iran's interests in a critical area in the Middle East. Regardless of what you think of him, his influence has been dramatically rising inside Lebanon and in the region and that doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon.

2- Nawal Saadawi

One of the most liberal writers in the Arab world, Saadawi's writings and opinions caused her to get expelled from her job, go to jail, and receive numerous threats from Islamic groups. She suffered from genital mutilation herself then became an adovcate against it. Her writings inspire a lot of feminists in the Arab world. She remains a very controversial figure, and here's a short clip to help you understand why:

3- Hoda Shaarawi

The leader of the feminist movement in Egypt. Not only did she study in Europe and accompany her husband to many political meetings, but in 1923 she removed her face veil in public. She lead the first women's first street demonstration, the first women's social service organization, and published the first feminist magazine.

4- Faisal Al Qasim

Many things can shake relationships between two Arab countries, but very few would have expected it could be merely a TV debate show airing every Tuesday night. His provocative introductions have triggered verbal and near-physical attacks between his guests almost all the time , closed embassies and made angry people protest in the streets. Just to tell you how pissed off some governments were, his brother singer Majd Al Qasim was prohibited from entering Egypt for one debate show that Faisal hosted the week before.

Here's a clip from one such debate:

5- Yasser ArafatHe was the symbol of Palestinian resistance with all what it meant, but at the end many Palestinians thought he gave up too much and gained too little and wasted decades of fighting and sacrifice in vain. They also blame him for the corrupt officials they ended up having up to this day. They can't forget though that he was able to have all sects sit on one table. That became more clear after his death.

6- Nizar Qabbani

His tragic personal life brought the best of him. All of his poems about women, love, feminism and nationalism stirred controversy. It's not unusual to have his poems banned from schools and it would be hard to see anyone reading them uncensored on a TV screen. Many singers have to edit his erotic poems to make them a more family-friendly material for singing.

7- Moammar Qaddafi

He has been the leader of Libya for nearly four decades. He has supported liberation movements all over the world, which created many enemies especially in the Arab world. He has been linked to bombing a commercial flight, bombing a discotheque, kidnapping a Shiite leader, invading a neighboring country, and appointing himself as the "king of Africa". He also insists that Coca Cola is African, not American.

8- Jamal Abdil Nasser

The father of Arab nationalism. Had enormous dreams about Arab unity and liberating Palestine only to have them all crushed in the 1967 defeat. Has many followers to this day who name themselves after him. His critics hold him responsible for the shameful six-day war defeat and permanently destroying the self-esteem of Arabs.

Here's a clip playing the death announcement by Anwar al-Sadat and parts of his funeral.

9- Sayyid Qutb
An Egyptian Islamic writer and philosopher who had a massive contribution to the emergence of Islamic brotherhood on the political scene. He despised everything about America, supported the 1952 coup in Egypt against the monarchy but disagreed with the non-Islamic Abdul Nasser regime, which earned him a few years in jail. He was accused later of a plot to assassinate Abdul Nasser and was therefore executed in 1966. For that reason he is considered by his followers to be a martyr. Ironically Al-Azhar considers him to be a defiant.

10- Haifa Wahbi

Among all the new female Arab singers who are showing more flesh and less talent, Haifa Wahbi stands out. A former Miss Lebanon, she is a pioneer in the modern Arabic music era. More than that, this woman is beautiful and she was chosen as the 41 st most beautiful woman in the world per People's magazine. She proved that beauty and a few steamy clips can bring you a lot of money and fame in the Arab world, raising many serious questions among Arabs on how conservative we really are.
If you don't think so, watch this and tell me you didn't like it:


KittySigurdardottir. said...

The video of Haifa Wahabi sort of puts me in mind of how I'd be in church wheni I was supposed to be worshiping GOD.

Let me tell you, I recognize the pleasure in her smirk,she knows what she is doing it tells,it is all planned and calulated down to the last detail.She makes sure that all her good assets are extended and that the men get a good view as she engages them with her smile.She covers up her thick thighs howerver,they may be ham hogs like Scarlett Johannsons's and turn men off.All flaws are covered up at all times.
After the performance I'd go home and recreate the men's reactions over and over in my head like a CD set on repeat. The show is created to turn men on and make them lust after the woman.

mab3oos said...

أستغفر الله
إنما هذا رجس من عمل الشيطان

رايح تشوف نص الكمنتس عن هيفاء و خصرهاالنحيل

مين جمال عبد الناصر؟
إسِمّ بدن العرب ما أقرفهم

Devilstine™ said...

hehe... haifa is ugly btw! very ugly!!

Anonymous said...

A Nice idea, I might steal from you, but with my own list of course! :)

I can not say that you were wrong, but I agree and differ with you on a number of things.

Most of the names are good candidates for my list as well.

However, I have a reservation on the homophilic lady being more influential than Yasser Arafat or Jamal Abdulnaser! I bet you not many people know here.

Finally, I have to say I was very disappointed to see Haifa on the list!! your argument is valid, and she might well be a big influence, but just admitting that makes me loathe myself!..

Good piece.

Anonymous said...

I don't know Hareega, this list seems to be pretty arbitrary to me.

Certainly Anwar Sadat caused alot of controversy when he signed the Camp David peace accord, and that ultimately led to his assassination.

What about Saddam Hussein ? he was pretty controversial wasn't he ? You even showed a video of two people having a very heated discussion about him :-)

But at the end of the day, that is your own personal list as noted in the title :-) .. good one though

Waed S. said...

Nasrallah,Sadat,AbdulNaser are leaders who are certainly controversial as to al Qaddafi I think he's just cuckoo that's all !

Al Sadawai , maybe if I lived another kind of life one in which I am the victim as all her heroines are I would've related to them more! she is certainly a controversy in our countries but I am not sure if she adds that much to what is already out there but kudos to her work against FGM !

Huda Al Sharawi , I have her ayam men 7ayati but I still haven't read it ! :S

about Haifa I admit she's good at 5ale3 and I, like many others ,listened to her "songs" and at times sang along :|

Hareega said...

Krystal... you can get a PhD on Haifa Wahbi! Great anaylsis.

maf3oos, i think your prediction is turning to be true hehe

devilstine, i don't think the majority of Arab men agree with you

Hareega said...

Ehab, if you read the title it wasn't most about who was most influential, I'd include Saddam if so, it was about who is most controversial.
Al-Sadat may qualify, however when he signed the peace treaty the vast majority of Arabs were against it.

za3tar, as for Sadat I answered Ehab above. For Saddam, I don't think he's very controversial except maybe in Jordan and Palestine. Most Arabs have an unfavorable opinion about him. In the gulf and Egypt they hate his guts, in Afrcian Arab countries he's not popular either, and most Arabs who feel bad about Iraq now don't feel so because they think he was a just leader.

Lost Within, Haifa Wahbi is more of a sex symbol of a mini-sexual revolution Arabs are witnessing, a revolution that exposed a lot of socail hypocricy we had for a long time.

Anonymous said...

None of the above

Anonymous said...

Ironically Qutub and Nasser made it to the same list.. Sends out mixed messages to your audience, does't it? :)
On another note, a nice quote Nasrallah said during his last war
"لن يبني لنا أحد بيتا هدمناه من أجل كرامتنا"
tells you a lot about what kind of a man he is. Maybe we ought to learn something from what he did..

Hareega said...

london, there are no mixed messages here. I wasn't talking about the people I lik, it's about people who made Arabs have long debates and re-examine their ideologies