In travel news....

I’m still traveling the world one country at a time. I was in Lebanon in late February/Early March. And I’ll be in Portugal and Malta in 2 weeks time. So, I thought I’d share are some of my travel pics from Lebanon and some from my trip to Costa Rica in October. (I haven’t unloaded any pics from my Nikon so all the Lebanon pics are from my iPhone, tho the Costa Rica pics are from a professional photographer)

^This is Byblos, Lebanon. And this was the old castle there. The vie from the top of it was spectacular.^

^Another shot from the top of Byblos Castle.^

^The old Souk in Byblos. I bought so many souvenirs here.^

^A shot of the city of Byblos. I LOVED it there. Of all the places I visited in Lebanon Byblos was my favorite.^

^I believe this is Jounieh. I was driving to Byblos.^

^Downtown Beirut^

^Lebanon from the plane.^

^White water rafting in Costa Rica. This was the most fun yet most terrifying thing I’ve ever done. Everyone on my side of the raft actually fell out at one point. I’m happy I tried it but I’ll never be doing it again! lol

^Ziplining in Costa Rica. This was super fun! And despite being a thousand feet from the ground it wasn’t as scary as I imagined.


Kitchen Floor

If you are born a female in the middle east, you will find that in most cases, your dreams and ambitions mean nothing to society. Your place in this world has already been decided for you since birth; a mother, a wife, a housekeeper, a cook… do not dare to seek more. 
And in support of International Women’s Day, this project portrays this form of oppression in a series of pictures which show a group of ladies giving up on their dreams for… well, jobs that have been assigned to them since birth, hence without them having a say in them.

أرض المطبخ

عند الحديث عن المرأة، في الشرق الأوسط خاصة، تُغفل عادةً أحلامها وطموحاتها، إلى درجة أصبحت فيها وظائف معينة (كالطبخ والترتيب والتنظيف… إلخ) منوطة بالمرأة فقط. وبمجرد أنها أنثى فهذا في أغلب الحالات يعني تخليها عن هذه الأحلام والطموحات السابق ذكرها. حتى أنها في الحالات التي لا تكون فيها مجبورة بشكل مباشر على التخلي عن هذه الأحلام، فإن الوقت غالباً لا يسمح لها بالسعي وراءها، ما دامت مشغولة بالأشغال المنزلية والاعتناء ب"صغارها" (بحسب الافتراض الشائع أن هذه وظيفتها وحدها) وغير ذلك. 
ويهدف هذا المشروع، الذي أتى دعماً ليوم المرأة العالمي، إلى تسليط الضوء على هذا الشكل من أشكال الظلم الذي تعاني منه النساء، من خلال سلسلة من الصور التي تضم عدداً من الآنسات اللواتي خضعن لما يسمى ب"العادات والتقاليد"، مما يعني تخلّيهن عن أحلامهن وطموحاتهم التي كانت مهددة أصلاً بالزوال منذ ولادتهن.

Palm Sunday in Egypt: 31 killed in blasts in, near Coptic churches
By Joe Sterling, Faith Karimi and Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN

”Bombs targeted two Coptic churches in Egypt as the Christian faithful observed Palm Sunday, one of the most important day on the religion’s calendar.

A powerful blast rippled through a Palm Sunday service at a Coptic Christian church in the northern Egyptian city of Tanta, killing 25 people and wounding 60 others, state TV reported. The explosive device at St. George Coptic church in Tanta was planted under a seat in the church, where it detonated in the main prayer hall, it said.At least six have been killed and 33 others wounded in a suicide bomb attack outside the Saint Mark Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria according to two state-news outlets. Egyptian state media also reports that the head of Egypt’s Coptic Church Pope Tawadros II was inside the Church when the blast happened.”

لقد صار قلبي قابلا كل صورة
فمرعى لغزلان ودير لرهبان

وبيت لأوثان وكعبة طائف ،
والواح توراة ومصحف قرآن

ادين بدين الحب انى توجهت ركائبه
فالحب ديني وأيماني


ابن عربي 

“ My heart can take on any form:  a meadow for gazelles, a cloister for monks, For the idols, sacred ground,  Ka'ba for the circling pilgrim, the tables of the Torah,  the scrolls of the Qur'án.

I profess the religion of love;  wherever its caravan turns along the way,
that is the belief,  the faith I keep. “

ISIS Claims 2 Deadly Explosions at Egyptian Coptic Churches on Palm Sunday
The bombings, which killed at least 40 people and injured dozens of others, happened weeks before Pope Francis was to visit Egypt
By Magdy Samaan and Declan Walsh

Two explosions at Coptic churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday left at least 40 people dead and injured dozens of others as a day of worship in the besieged Christian community turned to destruction and carnage.

The first blast ripped through St. George’s Church in northern Egypt in the Nile Delta city of Tanta, 50 miles north of Cairo, during a Mass about 9:30 a.m., according to an official from the Health Ministry. The deputy minister of health put the death toll at 27.

Hours later, a suicide bomber set off an explosion outside the main Coptic church in Alexandria, St. Mark’s Cathedral, killing at least 13 — including three police officers — and injuring 21 others, the Health Ministry said.

The explosions followed a number of attacks by Islamic State militants targeting Egypt’s minority Christians. And on Sunday, the group claimed responsibilty for both bombings.

An online statement shared by sympathizers and attributed to the militants said: “A security detachment of the Islamic State carried out the attacks against the two churches in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria.”

The bombings happened weeks before Pope Francis was to visit Egypt, and a week before Easter.

The second attack took place while worshipers at St. Mark’s were leaving at the end of Palm Sunday Mass. The service had been led by the Coptic pope, Tawadros II. The pope had already left when the explosion happened.

Photos from St. George’s circulating on social media showed scenes of blood and devastation inside. Initial reports said that the explosion occurred in the pews near the front of the church, and that many of the dead were children.

A security official told the state news agency they believed the blast had been caused by an explosive device planted inside the church.

After the first blast, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi ordered military hospitals to treat the injured, Sky News Arabia reported.

Eyewitnesses said that an angry crowd outside the church in Tanta attacked a young man they accused of being involved in the attack.

After that explosion, the provincial governor, Ahmad Deif, told the state-run Nile News channel, “Either a bomb was planted or someone blew himself up.”

Christians, mostly Orthodox Copts, account for about 10 percent of Egypt’s population, which is predominantly Sunni Muslim.

In December, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a chapel in the grounds of St. Mark’s Cathedral, the main Coptic Church in Cairo, killing at least 28 people.

In February, hundreds of Christians fled northern Sinai, where the Egyptian Army is fighting a local Islamic State affiliate, following a targeted campaign of violence and intimidation.

In 2011, a suicide bombing ripped through a throng of worshipers outside a Coptic Christian church in the port city of Alexandria, killing at least 21 people in one of the worst attacks against Egypt’s Christian minority.

Earlier this month, an explosion near a police training center in the Nile Delta city injured 13 officers.

Francis’ planned trip to the country is seen as an opportunity to improve ties between Christians and Muslims. The pontiff is to visit with Mr. Sisi; the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church; and the grand imam of Al Azhar, a 1,000-year-old mosque and university that is revered by Sunni Muslims.

In a news conference to provide details about the trip on Friday, the Catholic archbishop of Egypt, Bishop Emmanuel, said that the pope’s pending journey was a signal that Egypt is safe for visitors.

On Sunday, Francis said in response to the first bombing: “We pray for the victims of the attack carried out today, this morning, in Cairo, in a Coptic church.”

He called the leader of the Coptic Christians his “brother” and expressed his “deep condolences” to the church and the Egyptian nation.

The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, also responded in a post on Twitter: “As we come to Easter, pray for victims, the justice of the cross, hope & healing of resurrection.”

In a Twitter post, a spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Affairs Ministry, Ahmed Abu Zeid, said, “Terrorism hits Egypt again.”

Gal Gadot, an ex Zionist occupation soldier, she publicly supported the massacring of over 500 Palestinian children in Gaza in July 2014. She is supporting the occupation of Palestine, the illegal colonization of Palestinian land, the looting of the Palestinian natural resources, the ethnic cleansing and elimination of Palestinians and all other forms of oppression used by Zionist occupation forces.