Last week, when my teenage daughter came back from school, she proudly showed me her newly bought t-shirt. This t-shirt had an intriguing slogan: "The invisible children."
After asking her few questions and to my incredulous look, she told me the following: "An organisation from the U.S. came to our school and spoke to us about child soldiers in Congo and other African countries. This organisation is on a school tour in North America. It sells crafts and other items in order to help raise money that will be used to award these kids scholarships... Isn't that great?" She was very enthusiastic.
The recent arrest of four young men in Ottawa has been portrayed by the media and by some security analysts as a brand new threat: the radicalization of youth. The typical terrorist is no longer a sombre looking foreigner or an immigrant with a heavy accent immersed in martial arts -- instead he is a middle-class family man, funny, "well integrated," and well educated that you can never detect or almost never...
While I was visiting my family and friends in Tunisia this summer, I came across a new feeling, or maybe it is an impression -- a feeling or impression that I never encountered before in the country that is proud today to be called the sparkle of the "Arab Spring."
I grew up there in the '80s. I remember seeing in people's eyes the fear of authority, humiliation, loss of dignity, the sorrow of poverty, suspicion, but I didn't see the "fear of terrorism." Even in the darkest hours of the country, during the '80s, when there were violent incidents attributed to Islamist militants, I didn't hear from people around me that they were afraid.
After reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, I couldn't stop comparing myself to her. After all, Sheryl Sandberg is almost my age. We were both born in 1969. We grew up in a middle-class family and went to business school.
But perhaps the similarities stop there.
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I never liked the term "Arab Spring"; it has a connotation of over-optimism that can't be rationally understood in a region that painfully emerged out of French and British colonialism to quickly fall into a new era of cultural and economic colonialism where foreign soldiers were replaced by TV satellite dishes, Coca-Cola and Star Academy-like shows.
What Is Stephen Harper Reading? That was the title of a book Yann Martel wrote in 2011. He wrote it as a compilation of recommended readings he sent bi-monthly to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. I know it is a bit late but I wish Martel had included among those titles Capital in the Twenty-First Century, the newly released book authored by French economist Thomas Piketty.
As an economist by training, Stephen Harper would be interested in reading what Thomas Piketty has to say about capitalism and the threat that rising inequality is representing for the whole economic system.
As a francophone, a North African and a veil-wearing Muslim woman, I felt deeply concerned by the debate around the Charter of Values that created turmoil in la belle province since last fall. This debate suddenly died after the crushing defeat of Pauline Marois and the Parti Québécois.
Moreover, as someone who first migrated to, then lived and studied in Quebec, I always had a special place in my heart for Montreal. I have emotional memories there. Somehow I left my heart there in one of its streets.
Last fall, I even started writing a regular column in French for the Huffington Post Quebec where I shared with readers my worries, my opinions, and even good advice that Pauline Marois chose to ignore...
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The sky is raining medals on Canadian and Quebec athletes. This is excellent news for all Canadians, but definitely more so for the Harper government and for the Parti Québécois government of Pauline Marois.
Both governments are plagued with corruption scandals but the Winter Olympic Games of Sochi seem to be giving them a free, long and happy ride.