Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A00101 - Mahershala Ali, First Muslim to Win and Academy Award for Acting

Ali, Mahershala
Mahershalalhashbaz "Mahershala" Ali Gilmore (b. February 16, 1974, Oakland, California), an American actor and rapper, began his career as a regular on series such as Crossing Jordan and Threat Matrix before his breakthrough role as Richard Tyler in the science-fiction series The 4400. His first major film release was in the 2008 David Fincher-directed romantic fantasy drama film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and his other notable films include Predators, The Place Beyond the PinesFree State of JonesHidden Figures, and as Boggs in The Hunger Games series. Ali is also known for his roles in the Netflix series House of Cards as Remy Danton and as Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes in Luke Cage. 
For his performance as mentor Juan in the drama film Moonlight (2016), Ali received universal acclaim from critics and won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, the SAG Award and the Critics' Choice Award for Best Supporting Actor, and received a Golden Globe and a BAFTA Award nomination.  his win at the 89th Academy Awards made him the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar. 
Ali was born in 1974, in Oakland, California, the son of Willicia and Phillip Gilmore. He was raised in Cleveland, Ohio, and returned to Oakland when he was fourteen. He is named after Maher-shalal-hash-baz, a biblical prophetic-name child. Raised Christian by his mother, an ordained minister, he later converted to Islam, changing his surname from Gilmore to Ali, and joining the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. His father appeared on Broadway.  He attended St. Mary's College of California (SMC) in Moraga, where he graduated in 1996 with a degree in mass communication.
Though Ali entered SMC with a basketball scholarship, he became disenchanted with the idea of a sports career because of the treatment given to the team's athletes. Ali developed an interest in acting, particularly after taking part in a staging of Spunk that later landed him an apprenticeship at the California Shakespeare Theater following graduation. Following a sabbatical year where Ali worked for Gavin Report, he enrolled in New York University's graduate acting program, earning his master's degree in 2000.
Ali was known professionally as Mahershalalhashbaz Ali until 2010. He is known for his portrayal of Remy Danton in the Netflix series House of Cards, Cornell Stokes in Luke Cage, Colonel Boggs in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2, and Tizzy in the 2008 film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. 
His first major film release was in the 2008 David Fincher-directed romantic fantasy drama film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and his other notable films include Predatorsthe Place Beyond the PinesFree State of JonesHidden Figures, and as Boggs in The Hunger Games series.  
For his performance as mentor and drug dealer Juan in the drama film Moonlight (2016), Ali received universal acclaim from critics and won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, the Screen Actors' Guild (SAG) Award and Critics' Choice Award for Best Supporting Actor, and received a Golden Globe and a BAFTA Award nomination. His win at the 89th Academy Awards made him the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar.
Ali married Amatus-Sami Karim in 2013.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A00100 - Hadje Halime, The Mother of the Chadian Revolution


Halime, Hadje
Hadje Halime, a Chadian activist, educator, and politician called the "mother of the revolution", was born in Salamat, Chad.
Hadjé Halimé Oumar (b. 1930, Salamat, Chad - d. January 7, 2001) was born in the town of Salamat in 1930 to a mother from Salamat and a father from Abeche. She became involved with the Parti Progressiste Tchadien (PPT) in 1950 while working as a Quranic instructor. She was able to bring in more women who did not know French due to her knowledge of Chadian Arabic. At the time she had only a limited grasp of French. She was particularly close to Gabriel Lisette, the founder of the party, and his wife, Lisette Yéyon. She became responsible for recruiting Northern women following the General Meeting of April 2, 1950.  Halimé harshly criticized the colonial administration's poll tax, and declared that if the PPT secured a victory, the poll tax would be abolished for all despite the platform calling for ending the tax only on women. She declared that Lisette was the undisputed leader of the party, despite the rise of Southern Chadian politician Francois Tombalbaye, and traveled to France on Lisette's urging to meet with the French politician Rene Coty. 


However, in 1959 and 1960, Tombalbaye gained power and Lisette was removed from power.  Halimé became the target of repression soon after independence, unlike her PPT female colleague Kaltouma Nguembang.  As part of a purge of those near to Lisette, Halimé's only son was murdered, and she was arrested in September 1963. At first, she was taken to Massenya in Chari-Baguirmi Region, then to a central prison in Chad's capital of N'Djamena, and finally to a dreaded prison at Kela. At the Kela prison, she was regularly tortured by guards through electrocution while French and Israeli army officers supervised. Her torture resulted in her losing all her fingernails and hair. Despite Tombalbaye wanting Halimé to be killed, a French officer spared her life. In an interview, she stated that only her faith was able to keep her going through the difficult circumstances of torture. She was finally released on April 28, 1975, days after the overthrow of Tombalbaye and his regime. Out of 600 people who were imprisoned during this purge, she was one of only 45 who lived.
Lisette, who had been exiled in France, helped bring her to Paris to receive medical treatment. Halimé spent time in a hospital in Cote d'Ivoire, where the president Felix Houphouet-Boigny mandated that her medical care be free. She later joined the National Liberation Front of Chad or FROLINAT, which was based in Libya. In 1978, she moved to Tripoli and returned to politics. FROLINAT members dubbed her "the mother of the revolution", and the party seized power in 1979. She also began educating girls in Libya and founded an Islamic school, the Rising New Generation, where she taught religion, home economics, and child care. She taught over 3600 girls at the school during her years there.
Halime returned to N'Djamena in 1980 with the Popular Armed Forces (FAP) leader Goukouni Oueddei. She was then the president of the women's faction of FROLINAT. After the election of Hissene Habre in 1982, she left with forces loyal to Oueddeï in Libya. While in Libya, Halimé taught military skills to exiled Chadian women. She returned to Chad in 1991, a year after the overthrow of Habré by Idriss Deby.  Many people told Deby they would support him only if he received the backing of Halimé, which she eventually gave. Shortly after her return, she won a seat in Chad's parliament and served there until 1996.
In 1993, Halime participated in the National Sovereign Conference (CNS), and was one of the most fervent defenders of the Arabic language. In 1994, she created an association called Women Az-Zara. On behalf of the association, she was voted among ten women candidates to be a member of the Higher Council of Transition, staying four years. In June 1996, she ran for parliament as a member of the opposition National Front of Chad party, as it was impossible to run as an independent. She was defeated but maintained the election was rigged. Halimé afterwards cared for orphans whose parents were killed during the Habré regime. She also opened an Arabic school in N'Djamena.
Halime went on six pilgrimages to Mecca in her life, including one last trip in 2000. She died on January 7, 2001.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A00099 - Shirin Ebadi, First Muslim Woman (Iranian) Nobel Peace Prize Recipient

Ebadi, Shirin
Shirin Ebadi (b. June 21, 1947, Hamadan, Iran) was an Iranian lawyer, writer, and teacher, who received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2003 for her efforts to promote democracy and human rights, especially those of women and children in Iran. She was the first Muslim woman and the first Iranian to receive the award.

Ebadi was born into an educated Iranian family; her father was an author and a lecturer in commercial law. When she was an infant, her family moved to Tehran.  Ebadi attended Anoshiravn Dadgar and Reza Shah Kabir schools before earning a law degree, in only three and a half years, from the University of Tehrān (1969). That same year she took an apprenticeship at the Department of Justice and became one of the first women judges in Iran. While serving as a judge, she also earned a doctorate in private law from the University of Tehrān (1971). From 1975 to 1979 she was head of the city court of Tehrān.

After the 1979 revolution and the establishment of an Islamic republic, women were deemed unsuitable to serve as judges because the new leaders believed that Islam forbids it. Ebadi was subsequently forced to become a clerk of the court. After she and other female judges protested this action, they were given higher roles within the Department of Justice but were still not allowed to serve as judges. Ebadi resigned in protest. She then chose to practice law but was initially denied a lawyer’s license. In 1992, after years of struggle, she finally obtained a license to practice law and began to do so. She also taught at the University of Tehrān and became an advocate for civil rights. In court, Ebadi defended women and dissidents and represented many people who, like her, had run afoul of the Iranian government. She also distributed evidence implicating government officials in the 1999 murders of students at the University of Tehrān, for which she was jailed for three weeks in 2000. Found guilty of “disturbing public opinion,” she was given a prison term, barred from practicing law for five years, and fined, although her sentence was later suspended.

Ebadi wrote a number of books on the subject of human rights. These include The Rights of the Child: A Study of Legal Aspects of Children’s Rights in Iran (1994), History and Documentation of Human Rights in Iran (2000), and The Rights of Women (2002). She also was founder and head of the Association for Support of Children’s Rights in Iran. In addition to writing books on human rights, Ebadi reflected on her own experiences in Iran Awakening: From Prison to Peace Prize, One Woman’s Struggle at the Crossroads (2006; with Azadeh Moaveni; also published as Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope).

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A00098 - Al-Dimashqi, Medieval Arab Geographer

Dimashqi 

Shams al-Din al-Ansari al-Dimashqi or simply al-Dimashqi (Arabic: شمس الدين الأنصاري الدمشقي‎) (1256–1327) was a medieval Arab geographer, completing his main work in 1300. Born in Damascus — as his name "Dimashqi" implies—he mostly wrote of his native land, the Greater Syria (Bilad ash-Sham), upon the complete withdrawal of the Crusaders. He became a contemporary of the Mamluk sultan Baibars, the general who led the Muslims in war against the Crusaders. His work is of value in connection with the Crusader Chronicles. He died while in Safad, in 1327.

Al-Dimashqi (1325) gives very detailed accounts of each island in the Malay archipelago, its population, flora, fauna and customs. He mentions "the country of Champa ... is inhabited by Muslims and idolaters. The Islam came there during the time of Caliph Uthman ... and Ali, many Muslims who were expelled by the Umayyads and by Al-Hajjaj, fled there, and since then a majority of the Cham have embraced Islam."

Of their rivals the Khmer, Al-Dimashqi (1325) mentions they inhabit the island of Komor (Khmer), also called Malay Island, a land of many towns and cities, rich-dense forests with huge, tall trees, and white elephants; they supplemented their income from the trade routes not only by exporting ivory and aloe, but also by engaging in piracy and raiding on Muslim and Chinese shipping.

A00097 - Ibrahim Yazdi, Khomeini Advisor

Yazdi, Ibrahim
Ibrahim Yazdi, or Ebrahim Yazdi,  (Persian: ابراهیم یزدی‎‎; b. September 26, 1931, Qazvin, Iran – d. August 27, 2017, Izmir, Turkey) was an Iranian politician and diplomat who served as deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs in the interim government of Mehdi Bazargan,  until his resignation in November 1979, in protest at the Iran hostage crisis. From 1995 until 2017, he headed the Freedom Movement of Iran.
Yazdi studied pharmacology at the University of Tehran. Then he received a master's degree in philosophy again from the University of Tehran.
After the military coup of 1953, which deposed the government of Mohammad Mossadegh, Yazdi joined the underground National Resistance Movement of Iran, and was active in this organization from 1953 to 1960. This organization opposed to the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Yazdi traveled to the United States in 1961 to continue his education and in the United States, continued his involvement in political activities against the Shah.
Yazdi was co-founder of the Freedom Movement of Iran, Abroad, along with Mostafa Chamran, Ali Shariati, and Sadegh Qotbzadeh in 1961. They were all part of the radical external wing of the group. In 1963, Yazdi, Chamran and Ghotbzadeh went to Egypt and met the authorities to establish an anti-Shah organization in the country, which was later called SAMA, special organization for unity and action. Chamran was chosen as its military head before returning to the United States.  In 1966, Yazdi moved the headquarters of SAMA to Beirut.  In 1967, he enrolled at Baylor University and received a Ph.D. in biochemistry.  Yazdi became a naturalized United States citizen in Houston in 1971. 
Yazdi worked as a research assistant of pathology and research instructor of pharmacology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston until 1977. He also worked at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Houston.
In 1975, Yazdi was tried in absentia in an Iranian military court and condemned to ten years imprisonment, with orders issued for his arrest upon return to Iran. Because of his activities, he was unable to return to Iran and remained in the United States until July 1977. When Ayatollah Khomeini moved to Neauphle-le-Chateau, a Parisian suburb from Iraq in 1978, Yazdi also went to Neauphle-le-Château and began to serve as an advisor to the Ayatollah. He was also his spokesperson in Paris.
In 1978, he joined Ayatollah Khomeini in Paris where the latter had been in exile and became one of his advisors. He translated the reports of Khomeini into English in a press conference on February 3, 1979 in Tehran.  He was the deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs in the interim government of Mehdi Barargan,  until November 6, 1979. Yazdi proposed to celebrate 'Jerusalem Day' and his suggestion was endorsed by Khomeini in August 1979. In May 1980, he was appointed by Khomeini as head of the Kayhan newspaper.
On November 4, 1979, the United States embassy was taken over for a second time, this time by a group calling itself "Students Following the Line of the Imam (i.e. Ayatollah Khomeini)” and led by Mohammad Mousavi Khoeiniha, who had closer ties to certain revolutionary leaders.
As before, Yazdi was asked to go to the embassy and resolve the crisis. He asked and received permission of Khomeini to expel the occupiers, but shortly thereafter found out Khomeini had changed his mind and appeared on state television openly endorsing the takeover of the embassy. The entire cabinet of the interim government, including Yazdi and Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan, resigned in protest the next day. They stated that they opposed the embassy takeover as “contrary to the national interest of Iran”.
The embassy takeover is considered to have been motivated in part by an internal struggle between various factions within the revolutionary leadership, with Yazdi and Bazargan on one side, and more radical clergy on the other. The embassy attackers, in subsequent statements indicated that one of their primary objectives in the takeover of the United States embassy in November 1979 was to force the resignation of Yazdi, Bazargan, and the entire cabinet.
Among the areas of conflict between the two factions was the behavior of the Revolutionary Courts and the Revolutionary Committees. Yazdi and Bazargan supported a general amnesty for all members of the Shah’s regime, provided that they cease to act against the revolution. They publicly opposed the secret trials and the summary executions carried out by the Revolutionary Courts, led by Ayatollah Sadegh Khalkhaali.  Bazargan and other members of the interim government called for fair and open trials for those accused of crimes committed under the Shah’s regime. The radical clerics, on the other hand, stated that the rapid trials and executions were essential to protect the revolution.
After resignation from office, Yazdi and other members of the Freedom Movement of Iran ran in elections for the first post-revolutionary Islamic Consultative Assembly or parliament. Yazdi, Bazargan, and four other members of the Freedom Movement, namely Mostafa Chamran, Ahmad Sadr, Hashem Sabbaghian, and Yadollah Sahabi, were elected. They served in the parliament from 1980 to 1984.
After the Iraqi invasion of Iran in September 1980, Yazdi fully supported the Iranian war effort against the invasion, but opposed the continuation of the war after the Iranian victory in Khorramshahr in 1982. The war continued for an additional six years. During these six years, Yazdi and others in the Freedom Movement issued several open letters to Ayatollah Khomeini opposing the continuation of the war. These letters and other public statements resulted in the firebombing of Yazdi’s residence in Tehran in 1985, and the arrest and imprisonment of several members of the Freedom Movement.
In subsequent elections in Iran for president, parliament, and city councils, Yazdi and other members of the Freedom Movement filed for candidacy but were barred from running by the Guardian Council, because of their opposition to policies and actions of the government.
After the death of Bazargan in January 1995, Yazdi was elected as leader of Freedom Movement of Iran. Under pressure from the revolutionary court prosecutor, Yazdi offered his resignation as FMI Leader on March 20,  2011 to the leadership council of the FMI. By the time of Yazdi's death the leadership council had yet to accept his resignation and Yazdi continued to function as the leader of the Freedom Movement of Iran.
Yazdi was arrested in December 1997 for "desecrating religious sanctities" and was freed on December 26 on bail.  Even after his release, he was barred from leaving the country for many years, and was summoned on a regular basis to answer questions before the revolutionary council, with his lawyer, Nobel Prize–winning Shirin Ebadi. 
On June 17, 2009, during the 2009 Iranian election protests, it was reported that Yazdi was arrested while undergoing tests at the Tehran hospital according to the Freedom Movement of Iran website. On June 22, Yazdi was released back to the hospital for a medical procedure. On December 28, 2009, Yazdi was arrested again in the wake of renewed protests, according to the Jaras reformist website.
Yazdi and several others were arrested on October 1, 2010 in Isfahan for participating in an "illegal Friday prayer." All others were freed within days. Ibrahim Yazdi remained in "temporary custody" — first in Evin prison and then in a "secure" facility under the control of Iran's security forces until March 2011. He was released in April 2011.
On August 27, 2017, Yazdi died of pancreatic cancer in Izmir, Turkey, where he was under treatment.  His body transferred to Iran and was buried in Behesht-e Zahra.  

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A00096 - Fadwa Suleiman, Syrian Actress and Activist

Suleiman, Fadwa
Fadwa Suleiman or Fadwa Soliman (b. May 17, 1970, Aleppo, Syria – d. August 17, 2017, Paris, France) was a Syrian actress of an Alawite descent who led a Sunni-majority protest against Bashar al-Assad's government in Homs.  She became one of the most recognized faces of the Syrian Civil War.

Born in Aleppo, Suleiman moved to the capital Damascus to pursue an acting career where she performed in numerous plays, Maria's Voice and Media, and in at least a dozen TV shows, including in The Diary of Abou Antar and Little Ladies.  She also played an art teacher at an orphanage in Small Hearts, a television series that helped raise awareness about human organ trafficking and was broadcast by several Arab channels. She also acted in an Arabic adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House at the Qabbani theater in Damascus.

At the beginning of the Syrian uprising in 2011, Suleiman was one of the few outspoken actresses against Assad's government. Knowing her fate would be death or prison, Suleiman wanted to participate in the demonstration to dispel what she said was public perception that all in the Alawite community, which comprised around 10 per cent of the Syrian population, supported Assad's government. She also wanted to dismiss the government's narrative that those who participate in protests were either Islamists or armed terrorists. She appeared at rallies demanding Assad's removal, sharing the podium with soccer star Abdelbasset Sarout, one of a number of Syrian celebrities who backed the revolt.

Suleiman also delivered impassioned monologues to the camera, calling for peaceful protests to continue across the country until Assad was overthrown.  In one video message in 2011, Suleiman said security forces were searching Homs neighborhoods for her, and beating people to force them to reveal her hiding place. She cut her hair short like a boy, and moved from house to house to evade capture. In 2012, she fled with her husband via Lebanon and moved to France, where they resided in Paris. 

On August 17, 2017, Suleiman died of cancer while in exile in Paris, aged 47.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A00095 - Rula Quawas, Champion of Feminism in Jordan


Quawas, Rula
Rula Butros Quawas (b. February 25, 1960, Amman, Jordan - d. July 25, 2017, Amman, Jordan) was born in Amman, into a patriarchal society — women were not given the right to vote until 1974 — that as an adult she would refuse to accept.



Born and raised in Jordan, Rula Quawas graduated with a Ph.D. in American Literature from the University of North Texas. At the University of Jordan, Professor Quawas began teaching a wide array of undergraduate and graduate courses pertaining to American Literature, one of which was a groundbreaking course on feminism, focusing on American feminism and its complexities. In addition, she has taught on Arab feminism and contemporary Arab women writers in translation for CIEE (Council on International Education Exchange). As founder of the Women's Studies Center at her university, she was the director for two years -- from 2006- 2008. In addition, she was the founder of Knowledge Production Unit at the Jordanian National Commission for Women in February of 2009. She also serves on many editorial boards such as the Journal of Women’s Entrepreneurship and EducationStudies in Literature in English, and the International Journal of Arabic-English Studies.




In the fall of 2012, Professor Quawas was removed from her position as Dean of Dean of the faculty of Foreign Languages at University of Jordan after a class project created by her students was uploaded to youtube. The video project entitled displayed women students holding signs that depicted insults and verbal harrassment that men have said to them in public.




In 2013, she was named a Fulbright scholar in residence at Champlain College in Vermont. In Jordan, Princess Basma Bint Talal presented her in 2009 with a Meritorious Honor Award for Leadership and Dedication for her efforts to empower women. And she was a finalist for the State Department’s International Women of Courage Award in 2013.