The Crazy Middle East, Con’t

Malhass is trying to become the first female body builder from CanadaThis edition of the Crazy Middle East brings us stories from Jordan and Egypt.

–  Egyptian scholars are arguing over the suitability of the classic tale “Arabian Nights.” The story, which has been collected for centuries is part of a dispute between those who believe that the characters in the book as well as the theme of sexuality present an affront to Islam.  A new version of the book started the controversy and could potentially be banned in Egypt.

“I was shocked at the offensive phrases it contains,” said Ayman Abdul-Hakim, member of Lawyers without Shackles, the non-governmental group that filed a complaint with Egypt’s Prosecutor General calling for the withdrawal of the new edition from the market and for banning the book altogether.

[tweetmeme] Opponents have been calling the book a waste of public money while those not in favor of banning to book have have said “[t]he fact that the first edition was sold out shortly after it was issued shows that Egyptians are avid readers and that they will not be influenced by a bunch of people who take advantage of Islam in order to suppress freedom.”

– In Jordan, where honor killings still haunt the relations between men and women, one women is trying to make a stand.  And I don’t think anyone will physically get in her way.  26 year-old Farah Malhass is training to become Jordan’s first female body builder.  Covered in tattoos (done in Beirut to be sure) Malhass is creating ripples in her family as well as in Jordanian sports, marketing, sponsoring and the entire Jordanian community.

The Jordanian bodybuilding federation has difficulty accepting a woman into its ranks. “Aren’t you ashamed of parading in front of the world in a bikini,” she is asked.

So far only one Jordanian athlete, Zeid al-Far, has supported her. He is also competing in Toronto and they are sharing the cost of their training.

They are also seeking sponsorship together but this is proving elusive, with just one radio station manager in Amman and a nightclub owner in Beirut taking any interest.

Photo from Al Arabiya

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