checkpoints and washington, dc

June 11, 2008 at 7:37 pm (anti-oppression, anti-racism, palestine)

when i would return from the west bank to my birth city of wash, dc, people would ask about the danger level in the west bank.  two things i would always say: my biggest threat is from the israeli soldiers who claim to be keeping the peace between the palestinians and israeli settlers and in many ways it is no more dangerous than here.
how can the police officers tell the difference between kids coming home from choir practice and kids selling violence?  are they psychics?
when you build a cage for a community do you still think of them as human beings like you?  or as a breed?
Lanier plans to seal off rough ’hoods in latest effort to stop wave of violence

WASHINGTON (Map, News) – D.C. police will seal off entire neighborhoods, set up checkpoints and kick out strangers under a new program that D.C. officials hope will help them rescue the city from its out-of-control violence.


Under an executive order expected to be announced today, police Chief Cathy L. Lanier will have the authority to designate “Neighborhood Safety Zones.” At least six officers will man cordons around those zones and demand identification from people coming in and out of them. Anyone who doesn’t live there, work there or have “legitimate reason” to be there will be sent away or face arrest, documents obtained by The Examiner show.

Lanier has been struggling to reverse D.C.’s spiraling crime rate but has been forced by public outcry to scale back several initiatives including her “All Hands on Deck” weekends and plans for warrantless, door-to-door searches for drugs and guns.

Under today’s proposal, the no-go zones will last up to 10 days, according to internal police documents. Front-line officers are already being signed up for training on running the blue curtains.


Peter Nickles, the city’s interim attorney general, said the quarantine would have “a narrow focus.”

“This is a very targeted program that has been used in other cities,” Nickles told The Examiner. “I’m not worried about the constitutionality of it.”

Others are. Kristopher Baumann, chairman of the D.C. police union and a former lawyer, called the checkpoint proposal “breathtaking.”

Shelley Broderick, president of the D.C.-area American Civil Liberties Union and the dean of the University of the District of Columbia’s law school, said the plan was “cockamamie.”

“I think they tried this in Russia and it failed,” she said. “It’s just our experience in this city that we always end up targeting poor people and people of color, and we treat the kids coming home from choir practice the same as we treat those kids who are selling drugs.”

The proposal has the provisional support of D.C. Councilman Harry “Tommy” Thomas, D-Ward 5, whose ward has become a war zone.

“They’re really going to crack down on what we believe to be a systemic problem with open-air drug markets,” Thomas told The Examiner.

Thomas said, though, that he worried about D.C. “moving towards a police state.”

Staff Writer Scott McCabe contributed to this report.

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hamas hits out at obama

June 6, 2008 at 5:08 am (palestine)

are you kidding me?  an undivided jerusalem?  no.  obama.  what the fuck.  seriously what the fuck are you thinking?  no.  no.  no.

i was already pissed about the ‘i will talk to anyone but hamas’ line you were running.  but honestly, what right does israel have to an undivided jerusalem?  what level of hawkish pro-israel populations do you need to attract to your side?

no.  no.  no.

Hamas hits out at Obama
04/06/2008 21:36  – (SA)


  • Clinton supporters want VP bid
  • ‘America, this is our moment’
  • McCain calls Obama ‘reckless’
  • ‘It’s clear who Hamas wants’
  • DisplayDCAd(‘220×120′,’1’,”);

    Gaza City – The Islamist Hamas movement that rules the Gaza Strip slammed a speech by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Wednesday, saying it confirmed US “hostility” to Arabs and Muslims.

    “We consider the statements of Obama to be further evidence of the hostility of the American administration to Arabs and Muslims,” Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP.

    In the speech delivered to a powerful US-Israel lobby group in Washington, Obama reaffirmed his support for Israel and said Jerusalem should remain Israel’s “undivided” capital.

    Palestinians, including moderate president Mahmoud Abbas, have demanded that east Jerusalem – occupied and annexed by Israel in the 1967 war – be the capital of their promised future state.

    The international community, including the United States, has never recognised Israel’s claim over the whole city and virtually every country in the world has its embassy in the seaside city of Tel Aviv.

    Obama did however say he would push for a negotiated settlement to the decades-old conflict if he is elected to the White House in November.

    Abu Zuhri said Obama’s statements on Jerusalem “confirm the consensus of the two American political parties on unlimited aid to the (Israeli) occupation at the expense of Palestinians and Arabs”.

    The speech, he said, “destroys any hope for change in American policies toward the Arab-Israeli conflict”.

    Obama also reiterated that he will not negotiate with Hamas – which won parliamentary elections in 2006 and seized total power in the Gaza Strip in June 2007 – until it recognises Israel and renounces violence.

    “We must isolate Hamas unless and until they renounce terrorism, recognise Israel’s right to exist, and abide by past agreements. There is no room at the negotiating table for terrorist organisations.”

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    In May Obama’s Republican opponent John McCain said Hamas would welcome an Obama presidency, charges the Democratic candidate denied as “offensive” and “disappointing”.

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    first writing since

    May 17, 2008 at 12:29 am (anti-oppression, anti-racism, anti-sexism, middle east, palestine, women of color)

    this poem inspired me to go to palestine.  It gave me a specific sense of where I beloned in the world.  Stretched across the world.  She wrote it after 9/11.  And told a story of her discovering the bombings in her home city.  For the first year I had a limewire edition of her reading it for Def Poetry.  I would cry.  And promise myself to write something that held the world as honestly.

    suheir hamad:

    today is a week, and seven is of heavens, gods, science.
    evident out my kitchen window is an abstract reality.
    sky where once was steel.
    smoke where once was flesh.

    fire in the city air and i feared for my sister’s life in a way never
    before. and then, and now, i fear for the rest of us.

    first, please god, let it be a mistake, the pilot’s heart failed, the
    plane’s engine died.
    then please god, let it be a nightmare, wake me now.
    please god, after the second plane, please, don’t let it be anyone
    who looks like my brothers.

    we did not vilify all white men when mcveigh bombed oklahoma.
    america did not give out his family’s addresses or where he went to
    church. or blame the bible or pat robertson.

    and when we talk about holy books and hooded men and death, why do we
    never mention the kkk?

    but i know for sure who will pay.

    f there are any people on earth who understand how new york is
    feeling right now, they are in the west bank and the gaza strip.

    6. today it is ten days. last night bush waged war on a man once
    openly funded by the
    cia. i do not know who is responsible. read too many books, know
    too many people to believe what i am told. i don’t give a fuck about
    bin laden. his vision of the world does not include me or those i
    love. and petittions have been going around for years trying to get
    the u.s. sponsored taliban out of power. shit is complicated, and i
    don’t know what to think.

    but i know for sure who will pay.

    in the world, it will be women, mostly colored and poor. women will
    have to bury children, and support themselves through grief. “either
    you are with us, or with the terrorists” – meaning keep your people
    under control and your resistance censored. meaning we got the loot
    and the nukes.

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    vanishing the palestinians

    May 17, 2008 at 12:16 am (middle east, palestine, west bank)

    vanishing the palestinians

    This was the narrative I grew up with in Britain. It was so effective that no one here doubted its truth for decades and Israelis themselves were astonished to “discover” the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza after 1967. However, in occupying them, Israel was back to the old problem of how to keep the new land without the people. Since physical expulsion was no longer an option, the alternative has been to make the Palestinians disappear as a nation by destroying their society. The history of the last 37 years of Israeli occupation can perhaps be best understood in this context. The Israeli colonisation of land and resources has strangled the Palestinian economy and made statehood unviable. At the same time, the destruction of Palestinian history proceeds unabated. One of the least noted aspects of Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon was the removal to Israel of truckloads of crucial Palestinian archives and documents from the PLO Research Centre in Beirut. The Israelis did the same in 2002 when they invaded Ramallah. Vital statistics, computer hard drives, population statistics and land registers were taken out with the aim of destroying the Palestinian collective memory, history and national existence.

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    black women, islam, and hiphop

    May 7, 2008 at 4:43 pm (anti-sexism, islam, middle east, palestine, women of color)

    there is a great article at racialicious

    on black muslim women and hiphop.  Okay actually the article originates on Muslimah Media Watch. Gorgeous pictures of Erykah Badu and Eve. And a discussion as to what consitutues Islam. It reminded me of my first visit to the West Bank and haing a discussion with a teeenager muslim woman named yasmmina about he connection between Black Muslims and Islam. Malcolm X and Sunni. Yasmina who considered herself an Islamist thought of Islam as both a policial as well as a spiritual idenity. And while we did not have a discussion about the dogma or beliefs of the Nation of Islam and 5 percenters, there was a definite connection and appreciation that people would be willing to take on the label of ‘Muslim’ especially in a post-9/11 world.

    What struck me was how much variety and diversity Yasmina assumed to be a part of the Islamic world. And the variety of wary that Muslim women have interpreted the Koran and present themselves to the world.

    I appreciate that Eve gives gratitude to Allah but says that she cannot follow Islam properly. I think that in the Black community, women identifying as Muslim in many ways gives them a hiphop cred that is difficult for women to achieve. In that Muslims in hiphop culture are considered to be ‘deep’, ‘strong’, and ‘dedicated soldiers’ that allows for Black women to be able to move through many of the sexist assumptions about women mc’s. There is also a sense within the Black community that Muslim women are somehow moe socially protected and respectable than other women. (ya know there are ho’s and then there are queens).

    One of my inspirations to live in the Middle East was the respect I had for Muslimwomen in hiphop. So that political connection that Yasmina and I talked about matters.

    I am going to try to get the original article by McMurray.

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    statement of solidarity with palestinians arab and muslim women facing war

    April 3, 2008 at 1:20 am (anti-racism, anti-sexism, middle east, palestine, women of color)


    INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence endorses the following statement.


    Given that International Women’s Day coincided with the catastrophic events in Gaza , please show your solidarity by signing the statement below from the Campaign of Solidarity with Women Resisting U.S. Wars and Occupation.  You can send your name, affiliation, and place of residence to:

    Piya Chatterjee & Sunaina Maira 

    An Open Letter to All Feminists:
    Statement of Solidarity with Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim Women Facing War and Occupation

    As feminists and people of conscience, we call for solidarity with Palestinian women in Gaza suffering due to the escalating military attacks that Israel turned into an open war on civilians. This war has targeted women and children, and all those who live under Israeli occupation in the West Bank , and are also denied the right to freedom of movement, health, and education.

    We stand in solidarity with Iraqi women whose daughters, sisters, brothers, or sons have been abused, tortured, and raped in U.S. prisons such as Abu Ghraib. Women in Iraq continue to live under a U.S. occupation that has devastated families and homes, and are experiencing a rise in religious extremism and restrictions on their freedom that were unheard of before the U.S. invasion, “Operation  Iraqi Freedom,” in 2003. 

    At this moment in Afghanistan , women are living with the return of the Taliban and other misogynistic groups such as the Northern Alliance, a U.S. ally, and with the violence of continuing U.S. and NATO attacks on civilians, despite the U.S. war to “liberate” Afghan women in 2001. 

    As of March 6, 2008, over 120 Palestinians, including 39 children and 6 women (more than a third of the victims), in Gaza were killed by Israeli air strikes and escalated attacks on civilians over a period of five days, according to human rights groups.[1]  Hospitals have been struggling to treat 370 injured children, as reported by medical officials. Homes have been destroyed as well as civilian facilities including the headquarters of the General Federation of Palestinian Trade Unions.[2]  On February 29, 2008, Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister, Matan Valnai, threatened Palestinians in Gaza with a “bigger Shoah,” the Hebrew word usually used only for the Holocaust.[3]  What does it mean that the international community is standing by while this is happening? 

    Valnai’s threat of a Holocaust against Palestinians was not just a slip of the tongue, for the war on Gaza is a continuation of genocidal activities against the indigenous population.  Israel has controlled the land and sea borders and airspace of Gaza for more than a year and a half, confining 1.5 million Palestinians to a giant prison.  Supported by the U.S. , Israel has imposed a near total blockade on Gaza since June 2007 which has led to a breakdown in basic services, including water and sanitation, lack of electricity, fuel, and medical supplies.  As a result of these sanctions, 30% of children under 5 years suffer from stunted growth and malnutrition.  Over 80% of the population cannot afford a balanced meal.[4]

    Is this humanitarian crisis going to approach a situation similar to that of the sanctions against Iraq from 1991-2003, when an estimated 500,000 Iraqi children died to lack of nutrition and medical supplies, and the woman who was then Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, proclaimed that the death of a half million Iraqi children was worth the price of U.S. national security? 

    As feminists and anti-imperialist people of conscience, we oppose direct and indirect policies of ethnic cleansing and decimation of native populations by all nation-states.

    In the current climate of U.S.-initiated or U.S.-backed assaults on women in Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan, we are deeply troubled by one kind of  hypocritical Western feminist discourse that continues to be preoccupied with particular kinds of violence against Muslim or Middle Eastern women, while choosing to remain silent on the lethal violence inflicted on women and families by military occupation, F-16s, Apache helicopters, and missiles paid for by U.S. tax payers.  This is a moment when U.S. imperialism brazenly uses direct colonial occupation, masked in a civilizational discourse of bringing Western “freedom” and “democracy.” Such acts echo the  language of Manifest Destiny  that was used to justify U.S. colonization of the Philippines and Pacific territories in the 19th century, not to mention the genocide of Native Americans.  U.S. covert, and not so covert, interventions in Central, South America, Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean have devastated the lives of countless indigenous peoples, and other civilians, in this region throughout the 20th century.  The U.S., as well its proxy militias or client regimes, has inflicted violence on women and girls from Vietnam, Okinawa, and Pakistan to Chile, El Salvador, and Somalia and has avenged the deaths of its soldiers by its own “honor killings” that lay siege to entire towns, such as Fallujah in Iraq.  

    It is appalling that in these catastrophic times, many U.S. liberal feminists are focused only on misogynistic practices associated with particular local cultures, as if these exist in capsules, far from the arena of imperial occupation. Indeed, imperial violence has given fuel to some of these patriarchal practices of misogyny and sexism.  They should also know that such a narrow vision furthers a much older tradition of feminist mobilizing  in the service of colonialism—”saving brown, or black women, from brown men,” as observed by Gayatri Spivak. 

    While we too oppose abuses including domestic violence, “honor killings,” forced marriage, and brutal punishment, we are disturbed that some U.S. feminists—as well as Muslim or Middle Eastern women who claim to be “authorities” on Islam and are employed by right-wing think tanks—are participating in a selective discourse of universal women’s rights that ignores U.S. war crimes and abuses of human rights.

    While some progressive U.S. feminists claim to oppose the hijacking of women’s rights to justify U.S. invasions, they simultaneously evade any mention about the plight of women in Palestine , Iraq , or Afghanistan .  Their statements continue to focus only on female genital mutilation or dowry deaths under the guise of breaking the “politically correct” silence on abuses of women in the “Muslim world” that the Right disingenuously laments.[5] 

    Some progressives may support such statements with good intentions, but these critiques ignore the fact that Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim feminists have been working on these issues for generations, focusing on the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, class, and nationalism.  Their work is ignored by  North American feminists who claim to advocate for a “global sisterhood” but are disillusioned to discover that women in the U.S. military participated in the acts of torture at Abu Ghraib.

    We are concerned about these silences and selective condemnations given that the U.S. mainstream media bolsters this imperialist feminism by using an (often liberal) Orientalist approach to covering the Middle East or South Asia .  For example, on March 5, 2008, as the death toll due to Israeli attacks in Gaza was mounting, the New York Times chose to publish an article just below its report on the Israeli military incursions that focused on the sentencing of a Palestinian man in Israel for an honor killing; the report was deemed worthy of international coverage because the Palestinian women had broken “the code of silence” by resorting to Israeli courts.[6] 

    The implications of this juxtaposition of two unrelated events are that Palestinians belong to a backward, patriarchal culture that, rightly or wrongly, is under attack by a modern, “democratic” state with a legal apparatus that supports women’s rights.  Others have shown that the New York Times gave disproportionate attention to the Human Rights Watch report in 2006 on domestic violence against Palestinian women relative to its scant mention of the 76 reports of Israeli abuses of Palestinian rights by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Israeli organization, B’Tselem.[7] 

    Similar coverage exists of women from other countries outside the U.S. that are portrayed as victims only of their own cultural traditions, rather than also of the ravages of Western imperialism and predatory global capitalism.  No attention is paid in the mainstream U.S. media to reports such as that in Haaretz documenting that Palestinian women citizens of Israel are the most exploited group in the Israeli workforce, making only 47% of the wages earned by their Jewish counterparts in Israel, and with double the rate of unemployment of Jewish women.[8]  Little is known in the U.S. about what the lives of Iraqi women are really like now that they are pressured to cover themselves in public or not work outside the house, nor of Afghan women whose homes are still being bombed in a war that was supposed to have liberated them many years ago. 

    We stand in solidarity with feminist and liberatory movements that are opposing U.S. imperialism, U.S.-backed occupation, militarism, and economic exploitation as well as resisting religious and secular fundamentalisms. 

    We also support the struggles of those within the U.S. opposing the War on Terror and racist practices of detention, deportation, surveillance, and torture linked to the military-industrial-prison complex that selectively targets immigrants, minorities, and youth of color.  We are grateful for the courageous scholarship of academics who are at risk of not getting tenure or employment because they do research related to settler colonialism or taboo topics such as Palestinian rights and expose controversial aspects of U.S. policies here and abroad. 

    At a moment when U.S. military interventions have made “democracy” a dirty word in much of the world, we strive for true democracy and for freedom and justice for all our sisters and brothers. 

    Piya Chatterjee, University of California-Riverside
    Sunaina Maira, University of California-Davis

    Campaign of Solidarity with Women Resisting U.S. Wars and Occupation
    South Asians for the Liberation of Falastin

     [1] “The Tragedy in Gaza ,” Kinder USA, March 5, 2008.
    [2] Weekly Report on Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory : “Wide-Scale Israeli Military Operations Against the Gaza Strip.” Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, March 6, 2008.
    [3] Rory McCarthy, “Israeli Minister Warns of Holocaust for Gaza if Violence Continues.” The Guardian, March 1, 2008.
    [4] “The Tragedy in Gaza .”
    [5] For example, Katha Pollitt’s petition, “An Open Letter from American Feminists,” posted at:
    See also: Debra Dickerson, “What NOW? Feminist Fatigue and the Global Quest for Women’s Rights,” Mother Jones. www.MotherJones_com.News.mht
    [6] “16-Year Sentence in Honor Killing,” The New York Times, March 5, 2008.
    [7] Patrick O’Connor and Rachel Roberts, “The New York Times Marginalizes Palestinian Women and Palestinian Rights.” November 7, 2006.
    [8] Ruth Sinai, “Arab Women – the Most Exploited Group in Israeli Workforce.” Haaretz, January 2, 2008.

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    first independent palestinian lgbtq organization!

    March 11, 2008 at 2:45 am (anti-heterosexism, anti-oppression, anti-racism, palestine, west bank)

    wow this is amazing.  when i was in palestine before i looked for a west bank queer organization and heard rumors of some, addresses of places that didnt exist, names without phone numbers, etc.

    so any of you, especially in the west bank, should check this out and let me know who they are.  what they are up to.   and hey i  learned a new word in arabic: al-qaws means rainbow.


    Registration of the First Independent Palestinian LGBTQ Organization
    Jerusalem, January, 2007-

    Al-Qaws, the Palestinian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Trans and Queer (LGBTQ) community project of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance (JOH), has achieved a mile stone development in which it decided to become an independent entity, constituting the first-ever official Palestinian LGBTQ organization. The Al-Qaws (“Rainbow”) project was initiated in December 2001 by the JOH in order to address the special needs of the Palestinian LGBTQ community in Jerusalem . The project was specifically designed to reflect the special nature of one of the most traditional communities in Jerusalem .

    During the six years of its existence, Al-Qaws has undergone an all-embracing organizational process of development. What started as a local professional-oriented project has grown into a national community and grassroots organization, with activist leadership.

    This major development has been made possible thanks to the leadership group’s determined investment, the deep commitment of Al-Qaws activists and the autonomous space provided to Al-Qaws within the JOH, enabling Al-Qaws to address the needs of the Palestinian LGBTQ community.

    This process culminated in the decision of the Al-Qaws’ leadership to secede from the JOH and establish an independent organization.  With this decision, our community begins a new journey with a committed leadership group and widespread local activists, friends and supporters. In November 2007, Al-Qaws received the formal status of a nonprofit organization and a new name: Al-Qaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in the Palestinian Society.

    Haneen Maikey, Al-Qaws Director, commented, “This change is incredibly exciting. This new phase presents new opportunities with promises of growth through self-definition for Palestinian LGBTQs.”

    True to its deep commitment to advancing the status of LGBTQ people in Jerusalem , the JOH has provided constant support for Al-Qaws toward this development. This has made the transition period an easy, productive and exciting stage for all those involved. The JOH will continue to host Al-Qaws in its new community center in downtown Jerusalem . The two organizations are committed to exploring wider fields of cooperation in the future towards the advancement of our common goals.

    Noa Sattath, JOH Executive Director, stated, “The Palestinian LGBTQ community is fortunate to have such strong and capable leaders. We look forward to working together with the leadership of Al-Qaws for a better future for all our community members.”

    For further details, please contact:
    Haneen Maikey
    Al-Qaws  for Sexual & Gender Diversity in the Palestinian Society +972-2-6250502 ext 128 +972-54-4898062

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    a slow burn

    January 30, 2008 at 11:43 pm (anti-oppression, middle east, palestine)

    today i heard on democracy now that bush just authorized for federal  intelligence agencies (nsa) to monitor internet and email of federal agencies.  slowly. slowly they will make it legal to spy on all of us all the time.  i know that sounds paranoid.  but its like israel.  they do just enough that they can get away with.  slowly. slowly. and a couple of months later, they do just a little bit more illegal and make it legal.  and we dont see it day by day.  like living in palestine watching israel take palestinian land slowly slowly.  painstaking.   but every year palestinian territory shrinks.  wasnt malcolm x who said something like : you cant have freedom without land.

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    supporting palestinian women

    October 21, 2007 at 5:14 pm (palestine, Uncategorized)

    angry arab: More Arab women are killed annually by Israeli occupation forces than those who die from FGM and “honor” crimes combined. Yet, Western feminists don’t seem to care for the victims of Israeli violence. If you set up an organization in the Arab world to advocate against FGM, millions in US/Europe/UN aid will come your way. And if you set up an organization to advocate against Israeli killing of Palestinian women and children, the organization will be immediately added to the list of terrorist organizations.

    wow i didnt know this statistics.  although it is definitely true that the west is obsessed with seeing arab women as victims.  i mean people act as if we went to afghanistan to liberate the women from burkas.  ‘those poor women’.  how does the israeli occupation effect the west bank women?  affect palestinian women?  

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    also angry arab translation of musa

    June 7, 2007 at 8:34 am (middle east, palestine, poetry)

    “O, comrade
    My heart is fatigued
    and my dreams are dark
    My night is cold
    and there are only
    ashes in my fireplace
    Do I sing?
    I was singing yesterday
    I had a house, and chats
    and food
    My fields were islands
    of goodness, and I was
    carrying the crop with
    my right hand
    and the joy of the folks
    were in my left hand
    O comrade
    Don’t ask about the poems
    I did not lose the white poems
    They are enamored with my
    night, woven with warmth and tales
    My lazy beach
    is slipping on the morning [like]
    I have become, and my night, have
    from bullets and shrapnels
    and my morning is filling coasts
    with the remains of victims
    and blood is painting my horizons
    with worries and disasters
    o blood of children,
    you have not left any remains
    of love
    you weave poetry, not
    coals for fireplaces
    producing warmth and filling
    the womb of warmth with poems
    o comrade
    `Id has arrived, and my children
    are barefoot
    covering the sun with thin arms
    `Id has arrived, and my children
    are unclothed
    And their nights with the boogyman
    are long…
    O comrade
    For whom is God?
    For whom is God?
    For them, the conquerers?
    to the women of the conquerers?
    For the children of conquerers?
    I will not pray for a god who
    make the usurpers victorious
    His face is in the face of my enemies
    and his behind is in my face
    His hand is giving my enemies
    and I have not worshiped other
    than Him
    O comrade
    My God has been lost
    among the conquerers
    I will not pray for a God
    who is lost among the conquerors”

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