Copyright © 2003-2011, Aishah Schwartz. Permission granted to circulate among private individuals, groups, or in not-for-profit publications in full text and subject title. All other rights reserved.

January 31, 2010


Taken from rooftop of the building where I live in Hurghada, Egypt. Just a small sampling of the street sounds for roughly 2+ hours after the football match ended on the evening of January 31, 2010.

LUANDA // Substitute Mohamed Nagui struck five minutes from time to secure Egypts third African Cup of Nations title in succession after a 1-0 victory over Ghana.

Nagui netted with a fine curling shot from inside the box to give Egypt a record seventh title in the continental tournament.

Ghana, who were looking for their first Nations Cup title since 1982, defended neatly throughout but were helpless when Nagui raced into the box and unleashed the winner following a swift one-two.

Egypt, unbeaten in their last 19 African Cup of Nations encounters, were pipped by Algeria for a World Cup finals place in South Africa but they have beaten four World Cup-bound teams en route to their triumph.

* Reuters


January 30, 2010

MWA Director, Aishah Schwartz Welcomes Saudi Reversal in Al-Timani Forced Divorce Case

King Abdullah Urged to Continue Support of Advances Made in the Elimination of Gender Bias Against Women

WASHINGTON, D.C. – (MWANET) Jan. 30, 2010 – Breaking news from Saudi Arabia today brings the welcomed announcement that the Kingdom's Supreme Court of ruled on Jan. 29 in favor of overturning the forced divorce of Mansour Al-Timani (40) and his wife, Fatima Azzaz (36), opening the way for the pair, and their two children, to be reunited.

"On learning about the appellate court decision to uphold the July 20, 2005 lower court ruling, obtained absentia, forcefully divorcing Fatima and Mansour Al-Timani on the basis of his alleged lower social status, there was no doubt in my mind that Muslimah Writers Alliance would join in supporting their attorney, and scores of Saudi women activists and journalists, in appealing to the widely reported track record of mercy on the part of King Abdullah, in whose hands lay the power to reverse this travesty of justice," stated Aishah Schwartz, Founder and Director of the Washington, D.C.-based organization.

"By forwarding Fatima and Mansour Al-Timani's case to the High Court, King Abdullah took a step forward in reinforcing his established trend of reform by mandating, implementing, and enforcing existing, pending, and/or proposed measures designed to ensure that women's rights in marriage and divorce, as well as various other aspects of daily life, are dealt with in accordance to the Shariah. Repealing local, cultural and socially backward man-made, convenience-based laws, is a moral obligation we must strive for on behalf of Muslim women world-wide," Ms. Schwartz concluded.

MWA launched the Say 'No' to Forced Divorce – 'Yes' to Reforms online petition drive in February 2007 in support of reuniting Mansour and Fatima, in addition to calling for reforms pertaining to the rights of women in the Kingdom. The petition reached 1,000 signatures within one month representing a global outcry from more than 40 countries, 56 foreign cities, 21 U.S. States and 45 U.S. cities in support of Mansour and Fatima's case.

The original legal action, filed by Fatima's half-brothers after the death of her father, claimed that Al-Timani misrepresented his tribal affiliation (or social status) when he sought permission to marry Fatima. Al-Timani denied the charge, and in the single court appearance Fatima was made aware of, she adamantly declared to Justice Ibrahim Al-Farraj, that she did not wish to be divorced from her husband.

Pending Friday's ruling, Fatima and her son had been living in a women's shelter. Had she returned to the guardianship of her brothers, she would have been forced into remarriage to another 'more suitable' man. Fatima told the Arab News in November 2007, "I'm leaving this place on one condition only: that I go back to my husband."

"Fatimah's case, and numerous other cases, are basically rooted in the right of the guardian to control life, marriage, and in our cases, education and travel," stated renowned Saudi poet and activist, Nimah Ismail Nawwab.

Nawwab further asserted, "Women all over the world are being harmed because of it [guardianship] and our local, legal decisions are being picked up by others and cited as precedents, creating a domino effect that is widespread and tragically timeless."

GAZA UPDATE: MWA Director, Aishah Schwartz Echos Baroness Jennifer Tonge, "What are we doing to these people?"

JANUARY 21, 2010 - Recently a large delegation of western lawmakers went to visit Gaza on the anniversary of the Israeli onslaught code-named "Operation Cast Lead". They have now returned, and have given a special press conference showing and explaining what they saw. Press TV covered this press conference and this is the report by Fareena Alam, Press TV London.

"The international community fails to take any action against Israel so the situation continues. What are we doing to these people? and I repeat what time bomb are we creating in Gaza for the future?" Baroness Jennifer Tonge, House of Lords

"The only way in which anything will happen is if the average Israeli feels the effect of economic sanctions in their pocket and then puts pressure on their own government to take action. The Israeli government seems to be compeletely impervious, deaf, to the pleas of the international community, and only some kind of economic action will have any effect, so we are very keen for the British government to go further than they have so far, and suspend the EU Israel trade agreement," stated Sir Gerald Kaufman of the House of Lords.

January 28, 2010

International Activist, Aishah Schwartz on Women's Rights in Saudi Arabia



Through MWA her activism received international recognition in 2006 after a successful campaign to avert removal of a prayer space in view of the Kabba designated for women in the courtyard of Makkah's Grand Mosque.

In an October 2006 issue of Al-Ahram Weekly, Margot Badran wrote, "Aishah Schwartz, founder-director of the Muslimah Writers Alliance in Washington, set up the Grand Mosque Equal Access for Women Project that circulated a petition protesting the restrictions [on women]. Very quickly over a thousand signatures were collected. Women inside Saudi Arabia and around the world, meanwhile, carried on protesting in the media. It was the most striking example to date of concerted Islamic feminist global protest and one that authorities could not ignore."

On September 11, 2006, the proposal was overturned based in part on pressure from international media outlets and response to the online petition endorsed by Muslims worldwide.

Rep. Brian Baird's OpenCongress Blog Gives Nod to Gaza Support from International Activist, Aishah Schwartz


January 26, 2010

International Activist, Aishah Schwartz Commends Action of 54 U.S. Congressmen in Supporting End of Siege and Embargo on Gaza

WASHINGTON, DC (MWANET) Jan. 26, 2010 – On Jan. 2, 2010, Muslimah Writers Alliance Director, and international activist, Aishah Schwartz, returned from a 4-day siege breaking passage into Gaza from Egypt's Rafah border crossing more determined than ever to lend her voice to the global outcry, evidenced by the massive convergence of over 1,300 representatives from 43 countries, in Cairo, Egypt for the Dec. 31, 2009 Gaza Freedom March, and cal for an end to the siege and embargo on Gaza. Elated to learn that a positive result of the joined efforts of all who have lent their support to the Palestinian cause was so quickly achieved, Schwartz swiftly moved to alert her community.

On January 21, 2010, less than one month after a Dec. 29, 2009 report affirming that two lone U.S. Congressmen, Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Brian Baird (D-WA), whose year-long struggle in solidarity with more than 1.4 million Palestinians facing an increasingly dire humanitarian crisis, resulting from the Israeli imposed June 2007 siege and embargo of Gaza, followed by its 23-day air assault, ending January 18, 2009, resulting in excess of 1,300 deaths, were able to secure the signatures of an additional 52 representatives endorsing a letter to President Barack Obama, delivered by Ellison and Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA), advocating for implementation of a variety of immediate relief efforts. The letter stipulated, among other things, the following:

       Movement of people, especially students, the ill, aid workers, journalists, and those with family concerns, into and out of Gaza;
       Access to clean water, including water infrastructure materials;
       Access to plentiful and varied food and agricultural materials;
       Access to medicine and health care products and suppliers;
       Access to sanitation supplies, including sanitation infrastructure materials;
       Access to construction materials for repairs and rebuilding;
       Access to fuel;
       Access to spare parts;
       Prompt passage into and out of Gaza for commercial and agricultural goods; and
       Publication and review of the list of items prohibited to the people of Gaza.

January 11, 2010

Arabic Media Covering Gaza Freedom March Delegate, Aishah Schwartz


Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatuallahi wa Barakatuhu,

For the Arabic speaking/reading community passing through, linked below are 3 items from the Cairo, Egypt news journal, Alwafd, featuring my participation as a Gaza Freedom March delegate.

ARABIC: Aishah Schwartz Visits Al-Amal Institute for Orphans, Gaza – (PDF Pg. 16) Alwafd, Jan. 7, 2010 (2MB)
Aishah Schwartz (article image file here) 

ARABIC: Aishah Schwartz Featured in Follow-Up to Journalists Syndicate Protest and GFM – (PDF Pg. 4) Dec. 31, 2009 (2MB)
Aishah Schwartz (article image file here) 

ARABIC: Aishah Schwartz Joins Delegates in Appeal to President Mubarak at Offices of Cairo's Alwaft News Journal – (JPG) Dec. 29, 2009
Aishah Schwartz (article image file here) 

More here:


Aishah Schwartz to Congressmen Ellison and Baird: YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

"It would appear that, despite repeated efforts to bring the humanitarian crisis caused by the illegal Israeli invasion on the Palestinian territory to the forefront, Congressmen Ellison and Baird continue to run into a wall – not unlike the steel wall currently being built along the Rafah border in Egypt; a wall that threatens to further choke-off access to life-sustaining necessities the Palestinian people have been forced to secure through an underground tunnel system," stated international activist Aishah Schwartz, who just returned from a four-day visit to the Gaza Strip Dec. 30, 2009 – Jan. 2, 2010.

"It's time to President Obama know that we are paying attention; and the change he purported to support in his election campaign cannot come fast enough – particularly for the people of Gaza," stated Schwartz.

January 07, 2010

Aishah's Journey Continues...GAZA: Never Forget

MWA Director Aishah Schwartz Among 86 Delegates Standing in Solidarity with Palestinian's of Gaza in March for Freedom Dec. 31
Part 1 of a Series

CAIRO, EGYPT (Jan. 1, 2010) – Joining 86 delegates, representing 16 nations (including Algeria, Australia, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Palestine, Poland, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, USA, UK and Venezuela), in solidarity with hundreds from the Gaza community, Muslimah Writers Alliance (MWA) director, Aishah Schwartz, led a heart-felt chorus of "Free Gaza Now!" the afternoon of December 31, 2009 as participants in the Gaza Freedom March, marking the first anniversary of the Israeli led illegal massacre in Gaza that left 1,419 dead (including 326 children and 111 women), made their way along a course that would lead them to the Erez border crossing separating the Palestinian territory from Israel.

Although jubilant with enthusiasm, sparked by the warmth and hospitality offered by the Palestinian people in welcoming their guests, the delegation's departure from Cairo on the morning of Dec. 29, was marked by nothing short of a miniature civil war outside the windows of the two buses that would deliver them to Gaza.

The stage was set on the evening of Dec. 28 when organizers announced they had accepted an agreement apparently brokered through meetings with Suzanne Mubarak, chairperson of the Egyptian Red Cross and wife of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, granting permission for 100 of the roughly 1,400 original delegates, to cross the border at Rafah.

Who Would Go?

From a downtown Cairo hotel, organizers sat with laptops and coordinated spread sheets containing names and contact information with just two hours to organize a delegation – minus more than 1,300 – a daunting task to say the least.

Standing outside a take-away restaurant around 10PM on Dec. 28, Ms. Schwartz answered an incoming call from Gaza Freedom March organizer, and ultimate hero, Tighe Barry. "Congratulations! I heard you rocked the media!" Barry exclaimed, referring to an article appearing earlier that day in a leading Cairo news journal, Alwafd.

The article, published after a Dec. 27 meeting with Alwafd Editor-in-Chief Said Abd El Khalek, provided Ms. Schwartz with an opportunity to prevail upon President Mubarak to grant the then 1,400-strong delegation, permission to pass from the Rafah border crossing into Gaza.

Barry's enthusiastic tone, delivering the question, "Would you like to go to Gaza?!" left Ms. Schwartz standing motionless in the middle of a busy sidewalk. But it didn't take her long to answer, "Yes! Yes!" 

All Aboard! Or Not…

In a blog post made from the driver's seat of the first bus lined up in front of a downtown Cairo sidewalk, Ms. Schwartz wrote from a mini laptop, "This is it everyone! The Egyptian government has granted permission for 100 delegates to cross the border at Rafah and proceed onward to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their commemorative March for Freedom, and I am one of 100 that's quickly dwindling down as protesters outside the bus chant "All or none!" "All or none!"

Adding fuel to the fire, announcements were delivered by protesting delegates boarding the bus to declare that the GFM executive committee had reversed itself overnight taking the decision to NOT accept Mrs. Mubarak's "crumbs" and to proclaim, "We called Gaza and the Palestinian's don't want you there!" 

United We Stand

"I came independently, three hours after deciding the day before that it wasn't too late. Every step of my journey has been facilitated and I am not about to get off this bus," Schwartz stated adamantly to the delegate sitting beside her, Margrethe Salvesen of Norway.

With a burst of determination sparked by Schwartz's words, Salvensen rose from her seat and marched to the steps of the bus shouting back at the intensifying crowd gathered on the sidewalks in front of her, "There are no voices in Gaza! This is not a war!"

"If you are a believer, trust God," Schwartz stated to a woman moving to step off the bus. "You are here for a reason. Don't get off this bus," she implored.

Outside the bus the chanting continued with, "We stand divided!" "We stand divided!" – words that ultimately blemished the trip from beginning to end (more as the series progresses).

"You don't live in Gaza! You don't live in Gaza!" Salvesen echoed.

"Trip of a lifetime? I suspect so," Schwartz wrote.

The two buses rolled out of Cairo, final destination Gaza, four hours after the initially appointed start time; minus a few delegates, but carrying those determined to not disappoint the hopeful Palestinians on the other side of the border – instinctively certain that the Palestinian people did, indeed, want them there.

MWA Director Aishah Schwartz Featured in Gaza Freedom March Follow-Up Article - Alwafd News Journal (Page 4) – Dec. 31, 2009 (ARABIC)
MWA Director Joins Delegates in Appeal to President Mubarak on Behalf of Gaza Freedom March at Offices of Cairo's Alwafd News Journal – Dec. 29, 2009 (ARABIC)
Quarantined U.S. Citizen Gaza Freedom March Advocates Released – Dec. 29, 2009

Copyright © 2010 Aishah Schwartz

Permission is granted to circulate among private individuals and groups, to post on Internet sites and to publish in full text and subject title in not-for-profit publications. Contact author for all other rights, which are reserved.