Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Supplement: Nasir Muhammad, al- - Sembene, Ousmane

Nasir Muhammad, al-
Ninth Mameluk sultan of Egypt who was inaugurated three times, from December 1293 to December 1294 , from 1299 to 1309 and from 1309 till his death in 1341 .

Al-Nasir Muhammad  (al-Malik al-Nasir Nasir al-Din Muhammad ben Qalawun) (Abu al-Ma'ali) (b. 1285, Cairo - d. 1340, Cairo) was the youngest son of Sultan Qalawun and the brother of Sultan Al-Ashraf Khalil. He was born in Cairo at Qal'at al-Jabal ( Citadel of the Mountain ). His mother was of Mongol origin. His reign was in three stages, marked by temporary depositions.

After the assassination of Al-Ashraf khalil in December 1293, he was installed as Sultan with Zayn-ad-Din Kitbugha as regent and vice-Sultan and Emir Sanjar al-Shuja'i as Vizier. Al-Nasir was only a nominal 9-year-old Sultan. Kitbugha and al-Shuja'i were the actual rulers of Egypt. The two Emirs, Kitbugha who was of Mongol origin and al-Shuja'i were rivals and had bad relations with each other. Al-Shujai with the support of the Burji Mamelukes planned to arrest Kitbugha and assassinate his Emirs but Kitbugha sieged the Citadel and the conflict ended with the murder of al-Shuja'i and the removal of the Burjis from the Citadel.

When Emir Hossam ad-Din Lajin who fled after the murder of Al-Ashraf Khalil showed up in Cairo, the Burji Mamelukes who were called al-Mamalik al-Ashrafiyah Khalil (Mamelukes of al-Ashraf Khalil ) and who were removed from the Citadel by Kitbugha, rebelled and went on rampage in Cairo as Lajin was not arrested and punished for his involvement in the murder of their benefactor Sultan al-Ashraf Khalil. The Ashrafiyah were defeated and many of them were killed and executed. Lajin convinced Kitbugha to depose Al-Nassir Muhammed and install himself as Sultan after he warned him that the Ashrafiyah and later Al-Nassir himself would seek revenge for the murder of Khalil in which Kitbugha also was involved. Kitbugha deposed Al-Nassir Muhammad and installed himself Sultan with Lajin as his vice-Sultan. Al-Nassir, who was by then 10-years-old, was removed with his mother to another section in the palace where they stayed until they were sent to Al Karak ending the first reign of Al-Nassir Muhammad.

In 1296 Kitbugha was deposed by his vice-Sultan Lajin and he fled to Syria and died in 1297 while holding the post of the governor of Hama. Lajin ruled as a sultan until he was murdered with his vice-sultan Mangu-Temur in 1299 by a group of Emirs led by Saif al-Din Kirji. After the murder of Lajin and his vice-Sultan, the Emirs, including al-Baibars al-Jashnakir, assembled and decided to call Al-Nassir Muhammed from Al Kark and re-install him as Sultan with Emir Taghji Vice-Sultan. Hpwever, recall of Al-Nassir was delayed for sometime as Emir Kirji, who murdered Lajin, and the Ashrafiyah Emirs persisted that Taghji should become the Sultan and Kirji be the Vice-Sultan. At last, Al-Nassir was recalled and he arrived with his mother in Cairo amid wide celebration of its population. Al-Nassir, who was by then 14-years-old was re-installed with Seif ad-Din Salar, who was an Oirat Mongol, as vice-Sultan and Baibars al-Jashnakir who was a Circassian as Ostadar. Al Nassir was, again, a nominal Sultan, the actual rulers were Salar and Baibars al-Jashnakir.

The Burji Mamelukes became more powerful during the second reign of Al-Nassir Muhammed. They imposed taxes on the persons who needed service or protection. This official bribery was called " Himayah". The rivals of the Burjis who were led by Baibars al-Jashnakir, were the Salihiyya and the Mansuriyya Emirs led by Salar and al-Ashrafiyy led by Emir Barlghi.

News reached Cairo that Ghazan was preparing to attack the Levant with a big army and about 30 Crusade ships arrived in Beirut. The Emirs decided to send forces from Egypt to Syria. While the Crusade ships were destroyed by storm before the crusaders took ashore, Ghazan, after arriving in Baghdad had to change his plan after one of his commanders named Solamish Ben Afal fled to Egypt and asked for help to fight him.

In 1299 Sultan Al-Nassir led the Egyptian Army to Syria to encounter the army of Ghazan. While the Sultan was on his way to Syria, some Oirats conspired with a Mameluke of the Sultan to kill Baibars al-Jashnakir and Salar in order to bring Kitbugha, who was in Hama, back to power. The sultan's Mameluke attacked Baibars al-Jashnakir and tried to kill him but he was himself killed. The Oirats attacked the Dihliz of the Sultan but they were stopped in a way that made Salar and Baibars think the Sultan was involved in the conspiracy. The Oirats were arrested and punished and the Mamelukes who were involved were sent to Al Kark.

The army of Al-Nassir (ca. 20,000) clashed with the Ghazan army (ca. 100,000) in a battle that became known as the Battle of Wadi al-Khazandar. Al-Nassir's army was defeated with relatively low causalities (200 to 1000 men) after inflicting high causalities on Ghazan's army (ca.14,000 men). Al-Nassir's forces retreated to Homs followed by the army of Ghazan for some time. Al-Nassir left Egypt and Ghazan took Homs. The population of Damascus fled towards Egypt. The leaders of Damascus appealed to Ghazan not to kill the remaining population of the city. Ghazan arrived on the outskirts of Damascus and his soldiers looted it. Damascus, with the exception of its citadel, submitted to the Mongol commander Qubjuq.  The Mongols kept looting Syrian villages, towns and Damascus itself.

In Egypt, the defeated soldiers of Al-Nasir kept arriving in disorder. The deposed Sultan Kitbugha who was in Syria also fled to Egypt. Cairo became overcrowded as a huge number of Syrian refugees fled there. Al-Nasir Muhammed and the Emirs began to prepare for a new march to the Levant. Money, horses and arms were collected from all over Egypt. An attempt to reuse an old Fatwa which was issued during the reign of Sultan Qutuz and which obliged each Egyptian to pay one Dinar to support the army failed thus it was decided that the people should pay by free will and not by law. But suddenly the news arrived in Cairo that Ghazan left the Levant after he installed two of his commanders as his deputes there. Sultan Al-Nasir sent letters to Ghazan's deputes asking them to submit to him and they agreed. Kitbugha was granted the post of the governor of Hama and Salar and Baibars al-Jashnakir traveled with an army to the Levant to liquidate the remaining forces of Ghazan. The Druze who looted Al-Nasir's soldiers during their retreat to Egypt were attacked at their strongholds and they were forced to give back the weapons and the properties which they robbed from the retreating soldiers. The submitted deputies arrived in Egypt and were received by Al-Nasir Muhammed. The name of Sultan Al-Nasir was mentioned again at the Syrian Mosques. He was again the sovereign of the Levant.

In addition to the Mongols' threats in the Levant, the second reign of Al-Nasir Muhammed witnessed also disturbances inside Egypt itself. There were religious riots in Cairo and rebellions in Upper Egypt which were harshly suppressed. In 1301 parts of Armenian Cilicia were looted and Sis was attacked by Al-Nasir's forces led by his Emirs as the Armenians tried to support Ghazan and in 1302 the Crusade island of Arwad was assaulted and looted as the crusaders used it as a base for attacks on Muslim ships.

In 1303 Ghazan's army crossed the Euphrates river and marched towards Syria. The Syrians fled from Aleppo and Hama to Damascus. An Egyptian force led by Baibars Al-Jashnakir arrived in Damascus. The population of Damascus wanted to flee also but they were warned that they would be killed and their money would be seized if they tried do that. A force of Ghazan attacked Turkmen villages and took women and children as prisoners but the Sultan's forces led by his Emirs clashed with the Mongols and freed about 6000 Turkmen after they annihilated the Mongol force.

On April 20, Al-Nasir Muhammed and the Caliph arrived in Syria from Egypt and while the Emirs were greeting them, news reached them that a Mongol army of 50,000 soldiers led by Qutlugh-Shah, the deputy of Ghazan, was approaching. Al-Nasir and the Emirs decided to take the fight to Shaqhab. A force of about 10,000 men led by Qutlugh-Shah attacked the right flank of Al-Nasir's army but units of Baibars and Salar gave their support and pushed Qutlugh-Shah back. There was a confusion on the battleground as many thought that Al-Nasir's army was defeated when they saw the Mongols passed the right flank of Al-Nasir's army. Qutlugh-Shah withdrew to a mountain believing also that he had won. But from his position on the mountain he saw the army of Al-Nasir standing firm on the left flank and the soldiers were filling the field. Qutlugh-Shah who was puzzled asked an Egyptian Emir who was taken prisoner about the army which he was seeing. The Emir answered him that it is the army of the Sultan of Egypt. Qutlugh-Shah was shocked as he did not know that Al-Nasir had arrived with the Egyptian army. When Qutlugh-Shah saw his army defeated and fleeing he too fled at sunset. The next morning Qutlugh-Shah returned to the battlefield but he was defeated again. His third offensive happened early in the morning of the third day but his army was utterly annihilated. Only a small number of the Mongols survived. When Ghazan heard about the defeat of his army he was so stressed that he suffered a severe nose hemorrhage and he died a year later. Al-Nasir Muhammed returned to Egypt amid overwhelming festivity. Cairo, which was full of people who came from all over Egypt to celebrate, was decorated from Bab al-Nasr (Victory Gate) to Qal'at al-Jabal. The prominent Egyptian Mameluke historian Baibars al-Dewadar was present at the Battle of Shaqhab which is also called Battle of Marj al-Suffar.

In 1304 Sis was raided again by Al-Nasir's Emirs and a group of Mongols led by a prominent commander named Badr ad-Din Albaba were welcomed by Al-Nasir in Cairo. Al-Madrasah Al-Nasiryah which had the gate of the Cathedral of Acre which Al-Ashraf khalil brought to Egypt in 1291, was accomplished. 1304 witnessed also the birth of Al-Nasir's son Ali.

In 1309 Al-Nasir Muhammad felt fed up with being dominated by Salar and Baibars al-Jashnakir. He informed them that he was going to Mecca for pilgrimage but, instead, he went to Al Kark and stayed there ending his second reign. But Al-Nasir actually did not mean to resign. He knew he would not be able to rule while Baibars al-Jashnakir and
Salar were there as he probably also was aware that sooner or later they would depose him or even kill him and take the power. Al-Nasir tried to arrest Baibars and Salar but when he failed he calculate that by being in Al Kark, faraway from their eyes, he would be able to make new alliances with the Sultanate deputies in the Levant who could offer him support against the two Emirs when he return later to Egypt. When Al-Nasir refused to go back to Egypt, Baibars al-Jashnakir installed himself as the Sultan of Egypt with Salar as his vice-Sultan

Baibars al-Jashnakir ruled Egypt ten months and 24 days. His reign was marked by social unrest and threats from the Mongols and the Crusaders. The population of Egypt who hated him demanded the return of their beloved Sultan Al-Nasir Muhammad. Baibars al-Jashnakir was forced to step down and flee from the angry mob. Al-Nasir returned to Egypt. During his first reign he was dominated by Kitbugha and al-Shuja'i and during his second reign he was dominated by Baibars al-Jashnakir and Salar. Al-Nasir, who was by then 24-years-old, was determined not to be dominated or deprived from his Sultanic rights by any Emir. Al-Nasir executed Baibars al-Jashnakir  and accepted the resignation of Salar as vice Sultan.  Al-Nasir replaced Salar with Baktmar al-Jukondar then after a year he arrested him. Salar died shortly thereafter in prison. The Mamelukes and proprieties of both Baibars and Salar were seized.

In 1310 the vice-Sultan Baktmar and Emir Bikhtas conspired to overthrow Al-Nasir and replace him with Emir Musa, son of as-Salih Ali, son of Qalawun. Musa agreed but the conspiracy was revealed to Al-Nasir by an Emir and both Bikhtas and Musa were arrested. The vice-Sultan Baktmar al-Jukondar was arrested a year later after being accused of plotting to overthrow Al-Nasir and throne himself. Baibars al-Dewadar became the new vice-Sultan. Because of his old experience with the Emirs and their tricks, Al-Nasir Muhammad was a very suspicious and sensitive Sultan who took attention of every detail. He even exiled the Caliph himself to Qus in 1338.

Slowly but systematically Al-Nasir Muhammed grasped his Sultanic power and took revenge on the Emirs who were unfair to him in the past and on the Emirs who plotted against him after his return to Egypt. He abolished a few official positions, seized the wealth of corrupted officials, discharged the Oirats Mongols from royal services and annulled the exceptional taxes and surcharges (Mikoos) which were imposed on the commons by the authorities and enriched officials and made Emirs more powerful. He employed Emir Ibn al-Waziri, a man who was known to be tough on corruption, as the head of Dar al-Adl (Court of Justice) and he himself used to sit there every Monday to listen to complaints from the commons against the officials and the Emirs. He prohibited his governors from executing or physically punishing convicts without his permission and he shut an infamous dungeon prison that was near the citadel. In 1314 he abolished the post of vice-Sultan. And in 1315 he made a land survey to re-establish the amount of the taxes which the land owners and the landlords had to pay to the state.

During the third reign of Al-Nasir Muhammad Egypt did not witness external threats as both the Crusaders and the Mongols were enormously weakened by their frequent defeats and their internal conflicts. However, Mongol ruler Oljeitu besieged Mameluke fortresses but left due to deadly heat in 1312-1313. In 1314 the city of Malatya was surmounted by Tunkuz the deputy of Al-Nasir in the Levant. Sis and other places were raided by the forces of Al-Nasir but no serious problems developed. Inside Egypt, there were a few disorders in Upper Egypt due to law breaking activities by Arabian tribesmen which were easily subdued. However, in February 1321, a rather serious uproar between Egyptian Muslim and Christian communities developed after a few Churches were suddenly destroyed simultaneously in various parts of Egypt and was followed by a series of fires at Mosques and buildings in Cairo. A few Christians were arrested while they were trying to set fire at Mosques and buildings. Though the economy of Egypt flourished during the third reign of Al-Nasir, his era was struck a few times by financial problems and a rise in prices caused by the circulation of underweight and alloyed coins. Al-Nasir minted a few thousands coins to fight the spurious coins.

Under Al-Nasir Muhammad the position of Egypt as a political power also flourished. Foreign delegations and king's envoys with gifts visited Cairo frequently seeking the help and the friendship of Al-Nasir. Most remarkable visits were from the envoys of Pope John XXII and King Philip VI of France. The Papal envoys arrived at Cairo in June 1327 with a gift and a letter from the Pope who appealed to Al-Nasir to treat the Christians well and to protect the Christian holy places and to stop his attacks against Sis. Those were the first envoys of a Pope to go to Egypt since the time of Sultan as-Salih Ayyub. In February 1330, King Philip VI sent a delegation of 120 men who appealed to Al-Nasir to grant Philip the city of Jerusalem and areas on the Levantine Coast. Al-Nasir reacted by insulting the French envoys and their King and ordered them to leave Egypt.

Al-Nasir Muhammad's long reign marked the apogee of Mameluke power and the high-water mark of culture in Egypt since Ptolemaic Alexandria . Extraordinary public works were set in motion. He redug once again the canal connecting Alexandria with the Nile: it was opened to traffic in 1311 and required workforces on a Pharaonic scale. Some of his marvelous works in Cairo were the huge square that was called al-Midan al-Nasiri, Qasr al-Ablaq (al-Ablaq Palace) and the restructuring of the Iwan which was built by his father Qalawun. In addition, he built Madrasas, magnificent public baths and renovated more than thirty Mosques which belonged to the most splendid examples of Islamic architecture . His own Mosque in the Citadel which stands today was decorated with stone brought in triumph from the ruined cathedral of Acre. He also added to his father's complex of structures Cairo's first sabeel, a fountain for the use of all, especially welcome to the poor who might not have access to a well.

Both the father and brother of Al-Nasir were celebrated Sultans and eight of his sons and four of his grandsons were throned as Sultans of Egypt:

The sons of Nasir Muhammad who became Sultans of Egypt from 1341 to 1361 were:

    * al-Mansur Abu Bakr
    * al-Ashraf Kujuk
    * al-Nasir Ahmad
    * al-Salih Ismail
    * al-Kamil Shaban
    * al-Muzzafar Hajji
    * al-Nasir Hassan
    * al-Salih Salih

The grandsons of Nasir Muhammad who became Sultans of Egypt from 1363 to 1382 were:

    * al-Mansur Muhammad
    * al-Ashraf Nasir ad-Din Shaban
    * al-Mansur Ala-ad-Din Ali
    * al-Salih Haji

Nasir-ud-din Haidar
The second King of Oudh (r. October 19/20, 1827-July 7, 1837).

Nasir-ud-din Haidar (b. c. 1803 – d. 7 July 1837) was the son of Ghaziuddin Haider.  After the death of Ghazi-ud-din Haider, Nasir-ud-din Haider ascended the throne on October 20, 1827.

Nasir-ud-din Haidar was fond of woman and wine and he had a strong interest in astrology and astronomy.
Nasir-ud-din Haidar set up an observatory at Lucknow -- the Tarunwali Kothi which was bedecked with exceptionally good astronomical instruments.

Nasir-ud-din Haidar made additions of Darshan Vilas, a European style Kothi, to Claude Martin's house - Farhat Buksh in 1832.

Nasir-ud-din Haidar reproduced a Karbala at lradatnagar for his place of burial.

By the time of Nasir-ud-din Haidar, the Oudh government had started deteriorating. The administration of the kingdom was left in the hands of Wazir Hakim Mahdi and later to Raushan-ud-Daula.
Nasir-ud-din Haidar was poisoned by his own friends and favorites.

Nasir-ud-din Haider died without an heir and Ghazi-ud-din Haider's queen 'Padshah Begum' put forward Munna Jan, as a claimant to the throne though both Ghazi-ud-din Haider and Nasir-ud-din Haider had refused to acknowledge him as belonging to the royal family. The Begum forcibly enthroned Munna Jan at Lalbaradari. The British intervened and exploited the situation to their interest. They arrested both the Begum and Munna Jan and arranged for the accession of the late Nawab Saadat Ali Khan's son, Nasir-ud-daula, under title of 'Muhammad Ali Shah'. Nasir-ud-daula had promised to pay a large sum of money to the British for this.

Nasrallah, Hassan
Leader of Hezbollah. 

Born in a poor Shi'ite neighborhood of Beirut, Lebanon, on August 31, 1960.  When Lebanon's civil war broke out in 1975, Nasrallah's family fled Beirut and settled in their ancestral Shi'ite village in south Lebanon.  In 1982, Nasrallah helped to form Hezbollah to fight Israeli forces, which subsequently occupied southern Lebanon.  Along with other Hezbollah leaders, Nasrallah advocated the extermination of Israel.

In 1992, Nasrallah was chosen secretary-general of Hezbollah after Israeli forces assassinated the movement's leader, Sheik Abbas al-Musawi.  Nasrallah's own son became a Hezbollah fighter and was killed by Israeli soldiers in 1997.  A charismatic leader who quoted classical Arabic texts, Nasrallah emerged from the conflict with Israel with greatly enhanced prestige in predominantly Muslim countries of the Middle East.

In July 2006, Hezbollah fighters crossed into northern Israel and captured two Israeli soldiers, prompting military reprisals by Israel on Lebanon.  Hezbollah responded by firing missiles on population centers in northern Israel.  Over 1,000 people in Lebanon and Israel died as a result of the conflict, and Israeli air attacks inflicted serious damage on parts of Lebanon. 

Nasser, Khalid Abdel
Eldest son of Egypt's second President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Khalid Abdel Nasser (also spelled Khalid 'Abd al-Nasir (1948 or 1949 – September 15, 2011) was the eldest son of Egypt's second President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Nasser's public profile became pronounced in his early adulthood on account of his often troubled relationship with Egyptian president Anwar El-Sadat, his father's successor. Time Magazine stated that when Sadat asked to acquire Gamal Abdel Nasser's bulletproof limousine, Khalid refused and after a heated argument with Sadat, he set the car on fire, destroying it.

In later years, Nasser became a vocal critic of Sadat, and his presidential successor, Hosni Mubarak, both of whose policies had diverged significantly from those of Gamal Abdel Nasser. In 1988, he was accused of being part of a secret leftist organization, Egypt Revolution ("Thawret Misr,") a Nasserist group that violently opposed the 1979 Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel. The Mubarak government sought the death penalty in a case which accused Nasser of trying to overthrow the Egyptian government, and of involvement in a spate of assassinations and bombings. The case eventually became a test of strength between the judiciary and the executive when judges threw out much of the case, accusing police and prosecutors of collusion in torturing the defendants.

In the mid-1990s following international sanctions against Iraq, Nasser received $16.6 million worth of Saddam Hussein's oil vouchers in the Oil-for-Food Programme, more than anyone else in Egypt, according to the list of beneficiaries. He later became a professor in Cairo University's Faculty of Engineering, a job which he held for the remainder of his life.

In February 2011, during the 2011 Egyptian revolution, Nasser joined pro-democracy demonstrations in Tahrir Square against Mubarak and his regime. Later that year, on August 30, he fell into a coma ending in his death at age 62 in a Cairo hospital on September 15.

Nazik al-Malaika
Iraqi poet. 

Born in Baghdad on August 23, 1923, to a mother who was also a poet and a father who was an editor and teacher of Arabic, Nazik al-Malaika was one of seven children.  She wrote her first poems, in the classical Arabic form, when she was ten (10).  She graduated from the Higher Teachers Training College in Baghdad, where she studied the classical Arabic poets and the modernists of the early 20th century, as well as learned to play the oud, an Arab lute, and attended classes in acting.

Nazik al-Malaika learned English and French and won a scholarship to study at Princeton University.  In 1954, she continued her studies at the University of Wisconsin, earning a master's degree in comparative literature.  She returned to Baghdad and married a fellow student in the Arabic language department, Abdel Hadi Mahbouba.  With her husband and others, Nazik al-Malaika helped found the University of Basra in the southern part of Iraq.  Many of her works were published in Beirut, Lebanon, where she moved in the late 1950s. 

Later, in 1970, she moved to Kuwait, where she taught for many years, but like many Iraqis was forced to return to Iraq when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990.  Soon after the gulf war ended in 1991, she fled to Cairo.

In 1947, Nazik al-Malaika published her first collection of poems under the title "Night's Lover" (A'shiqat Al-Layl).  Her second collection came out in 1949 and was a volume of free-verse poetry entitled Shazaya wa ramad ("Ashes and Shrapnel" or "Sparks and Ashes").  It was this volume which helped launch free verse as a new form for avant-garde poetry.  A third volume, "Bottom of the Wave" was published in 1957.  Her fourth collection, "Tree of the Moon," came out in 1968. 

The old two-hemistich mono-rhymed form had flourished unchallenged for fifteen centuries.  Experiments outside the rigid structures started in the beginning of the 20th century, but it was not until the mid-forties that poets succeeded in creating an acceptable form of free verse.  Al-Malaika's book contained eleven poems and an introduction, in which she explained the advantages of the new rhyme patterns as opposed to the old.

Earlier 20th century Arab poets had already begun controversial experiments outside the rigid classical form, in which each verse ends with the same rhyme scheme and each line has the same number of beats.  However, it was her writing and that of a handful of contemporaries that popularized free verse, and she gradually became a celebrated figure and her poems the subject of academic studies. 

Nazik al-Malaika was one of a small group of Iraqi poets who broke away from classical Arab poetry, with its rigid metric and rhyme schemes.  Influenced by the writing of Shakespeare, Byron and Shelley as well as by classical Arabic poets, these poets took up modern topics and used lyrical language that spoke with the immediacy of life on the Arab street.

Much of the poetry of Nazik al-Malaika dealt with alienation and the fear of fading into oblivion.  She also wrote essays on the constraints imposed on women in Arab society and as an early feminist questioned the patriarchal structure that deprived many women of choices in marriage and career. 

Nazik al-Malaika died on June 20, 2007, in Cairo, Egypt.  She had had Parkinson's disease for many years but died of unspecified natural causes related to old age. 

In Iraq, a country riven by sectarian strife, the life and work of Nazik al-Malaika as a poet and a literary critic were poignant reminders of Iraq's cultural renaissance in the mid-20th century.   

Ndiaye, Boubacar Joseph
Curator of the House of Slaves landmark in Senegal.

Ndiaye was born on October 15, 1922, in Rufisque, near Dakar, and was among the soldiers from French colonies who fought for France during World War II and the Vietnam War.  After his military career ended, he worked in commerce before dedicating his life to the House of Slaves.

For forty (40) years, Ndiaye oversaw the memorial on Goree Island, off the coast of Senegal at Dakar.  The island was used to hold captured Africans before their perilous voyage to the Americas.  Ndiaye was the main architect of the defense of the memory of the Atlantic slave trade, the man most opposed to any revisionism.

Countless tourists came to hear Ndiaye recount the mistreatment suffered by African slaves.  Among those who visited his site were South African President Nelson Mandela, United States President Bill Clinton and Pope John Paul II.
Boubacar Joseph Ndiaye died on February 6, 2009 in Dakar, Senegal.


N'Diaye, Iba
French-Senegalese painter. 

Born in Saint Louis, Senegal, when Iba N'Diaye was 15 years old he began his studies at the prestigious Lycee Faidherbe.  As a student, he painted posters for cinemas and businesses in his town.  He studied architecture in Senegal before traveling to France in 1948, where he began studying architecture at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Montpellier.  The sculptor Ossip Zadkine introduced him the traditional African sculpture and he traveled throughout Europe, studying art and architecture.  N'Diaye frequented jazz music clubs while in Paris in the 1940s, and his interest in the medium continued to show itself in his work throughout his career.  In Paris, he studied fine art at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and Academie de la Grande Chaumiere.

When Senegal achieved independence in 1959, N'Diaye returned at the request of President Leopold Senghor, to found the Department of Plastic Arts at the National School of Fine Arts of Senegal in Dakar.  There he exhibited his work in 1962 and worked as a teacher until 1966.  He taught and inspired a generation of fine artists, including painters such as Mor Faye.

In 1966, N'Diaye organized a large exhibition of Senegalese modernists for the first World Festival of Pan-African Arts in Dakar.  While making there formative contributions, however, N'Diaye also fundamentally disagreed with the primitivist bent in art espoused by many of his Ecole de Dakar colleagues, who believed that new work had to look distinctly non-colonialist to be authentically Africa.

N'Diaye, along with Papa Ibra Tall and Pierre Lods founded The Ecole de Dakar, a genre which allied painting, sculpture and crafts into the literary movement of Negritude.  An attempt to assert a distinctively African voice in the arts, free of, if borrowing elements from the traditions of colonial nations.  "Africanite" (Africaness) combined the Negritude of Senghor and the Pan-Africanism of decolonialism, N'Diaye, though, remained committed to teach the fundamentals and techniques of Western art, at times putting him at odds with his fellow teachers and artists.  He wrote of the danger of "Africaness" sliding back into a simplistic Noble savage self-parody if rejecting Western forms meant rejecting a rigorous technical background.  The pursuit of this "instinctive" Africaness is best exemplified by Papa Ibra Tall, who felt that African artists must "unlearn" western habits, tapping instinctual African creativity.  Tall and N'Diaye were the two best known French educated Senegalese fine artists of their time.  While Tall's vision was to win out in the short term, the 1970s and 1980s saw a reappraisal of N'Diaye's positions and an eventual rejection of the more straight-forward state sponsored "Africanite."  President Senghor, as a poet and one of the founders of Negritude, devoted as much as twenty-five percent of the Senegalese budget to the arts and was seen as the patron of artists like The Ecole de Dakar.  Misgivings by artists like N'Diaye (as well as outright opposition by artists such as filmmaker/author Ousmane Sembene) fed into a later creative break with Negritude, in the 70s led by the Laboratoire Agit-Art art community in Dakar.  N'Diaye's disenchantment and return to France in 1967 came just a year after the World Festival of Black Arts was founded in Dakar -- a triumph of the "Africanite" arts.

Although he made many beautiful drawings based on the forms of traditional African masks, N'Diaye  painted in oil of canvas and in a semi-abstract School of Paris style that made little direct reference to African subjects or techniques.  His allusions were often to classic Western painters like Goya and Rembrandt, to which he gave a mordant political twist.  His 1986 version of Velazquez's famous portrait of Juan de Pareja presented its startled-looking black subject under attack by dogs.  Much of his work was also influenced by jazz, an art of the African diaspora, in which he had immersed himself in Paris as a young man.

Partly in response to art fashions with which he was uncomfortable, N'Diaye again left Senegal and returned to Paris to live in 1967.  Working at his Parisian "la Ruche Atelier" and his home in the Dordogne, N'Diaye painted some of his best known works, a series on the theme of the biblical ritual slaughter of a lamb.  Known as the "Tabaki" series, these images while being based on the ritual slaughter of sheep for religious purposes, are actually about human cruelty and oppression.  N'Diaye  exhibited them at Sarlat in 1970 and at Amiens in 1974. 

N'Diaye has also exhibited his paintings in New York City (1981), in Holland (1989), in Tampere (1990), and at the Museum Paleis Lange Voorhout in The Hague (1996).  In 1987, N'Diaye was the subject of a retrospective at the Museum fur Volkerkunde in Munich.  In 2000, he returned to Saint Louis for his first exhibition in Senegal since 1981.  In 1977, he was the subject of a retrospective at the Musee Dynamique, while in 1981, his work was presented at the Centre culturel Gaston Berger de Dakar.   Since that time major showing of his work was staged at the Senegalese Galerie nationale (2003) and the Musee de la Place du Souvenir (2008), both in the Senegalese capitol.

N'Diaye died in Paris on October 4, 2008, at the age of 80 of heart failure.  He was interred in the Catholic cemetery of Saint-Louis, Senegal.

Njembot Mboj
c. 1800-1846
The famous Linger, or Queen Mother, of the kingdom of Walo (Senegal) who dominated the political life of that state from about 1830 until her death in 1846. 

Njembot Mboj (c.1800-1846) emerged during the civil war following French withdrawal from Walo and abandonment of the agricultural colonization scheme at Richard Toll in 1829.  Both the French and the Trarza Moors were seeking hegemony over Walo.  Her influence was decisive in the nomination of Fara Penda as Brak in 1831, instead of the French supported candidate, Xerfi Xari Daro.  The Trarza emir, Muhammad al-Habib, moved into Walo.  However, filling the vacuum left by the French Njembot and Fara Penda went into exile in Kajor.

Negotiating an already severely compromised national sovereignty, a group of the nobles proposed the hand of the most prized woman of Walo to the Emir of Trarza.  The marriage was celebrated June 18, 1933.  Suddenly, the two kingdoms north and south of the mouth of the Senegal River were united in a single family, an alarming spectacle to the French commercial colony at Saint-Louis.  Within a month, the French forces and auxiliaries invaded, raiding, pillaging, and burning crops standing in the fields to try to force the annulment of the marriage.  Linger Njembot and her allies again sought asylumin Kajor.  After two years of inconclusive warfare, Walo was barren and deserted by its inhabitants, and French trade was at a standstill.  Peace negotiations resulted in a pair of treaties in 1835.  By the first treaty, Muhammad al-Habib renounced all claims to the throne of Walo, for himself or his offspring (he and his wife were at that moment awaiting their firstborn).  By the second treaty, the exiles in Kajor were allowed to return and resume their thrones in Walo.  There were great victory celebrations in Walo, and Njembot’s authority was reinforced.  Five years later, when the Brak died, she was able to ensure the election of Mboj Malik through generosity to the electoral council. 

Njembot was never officially king, as tradition forbade a woman to reign as Brak.  However, her power was such that Mboj Malik was considered a front for Njembot, who was the real decision maker.  She died in 1846, too soon to see her son Ely Njembot accede to the throne.  Her younger sister, Ndate Yala Mboj, succeeded her and proved an equally notable personality. 

Griots still celebrate Njembot’s legendary marriage.  In one version, Njembot is the pearl of the kingdom who sacrifices herself in marriage to save Walo from the misery of the Trarza war.  In another she is a woman of overwhelming ambition, who wanted to be known in history as Kumba Linger, and to leave the two kingdoms of Walo and Trarza to her son.  In fact, her son Ely was crowned king of Trarza and throughout the late 1840s and early 1850s was the virtual ruler in Walo as well.  His pretentious to the throne were quashed only by the French conquest and partition of the kingdom in 1854.  

Obama, Barack Hussein
Father of Barack Hussein Obama II, the 44th President of the United States of America.

Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. (1936 − 24 November 1982) was a Kenyan senior governmental economist, and father of the President of the United States, Barack Obama. He is a central subject in his son's memoir, Dreams from My Father.

Barack Obama Sr. was born in Kanyadhiang village, Rachuonyo District on the shores of Lake Victoria just outside Kendu Bay, Kenya, at the time a colony of the British Empire.  He was raised in the village of Nyang’oma Kogelo, Siaya District, Nyanza Province. His family were members of the Luo ethnic group. He was the son of Onyango Obama (c. 1895-1979) who had at least three wives. Barack Obama Sr. was the son of Habiba Akumu Nyanjango of Karabondi, Kenya, the second wife. However, he was raised by Onyango's third wife, Sarah Ogwel of Kogelo, after Akumu left her family and separated from her husband in 1945.

Before working as a cook for missionaries in Nairobi, Onyango had travelled widely, enlisting in the British colonial forces and visiting Europe, India, and Zanzibar, where he converted from Roman Catholicism to Islam and took the name Hussein Onyango Obama. Hussein Onyango was jailed by the British for two years in 1949 due to his involvement in the Kenyan independence movement. According to Sarah Onyango Obama, Onyango was subjected to brutal torture.

Although Obama Sr. was born into a Muslim family, he was an atheist before he came to the United States. Obama Sr. was married in 1954 at the age of eighteen, in a tribal ceremony to Kezia, with whom he had four children.

While still living near Kendu Bay, Obama Sr. went to Gendia Primary School and transferred to Ng’iya Intermediate School once his family relocated to Siaya District. From 1950 to 1953, he studied at Maseno Mission School, an exclusive Christian boarding school in Maseno that was run by the Anglican Church of Kenya. The head teacher, B.L. Bowers, described Obama Sr. in his records as "very keen, steady, trustworthy and friendly. Concentrates, reliable and out-going."

Obama Sr. received a scholarship in economics through a program organized by nationalist leader Tom Mboya. The program offered Western educational opportunities to outstanding Kenyan students. President Obama said of his father's scholarship, "The Kennedys decided: 'We're going to do an airlift. We're going to go to Africa and start bringing young Africans over to this country and give them scholarships to study so they can learn what a wonderful country America is. This young man named Barack Obama [Sr.] got one of those tickets and came over to this country.'"

An article by Michael Dobbs in The Washington Post, however, states that the Kennedy family did not become associated with the educational airlift until 1960, a year after Obama Sr. was studying in the United States. Initial financial supporters of the program included Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Jackie Robinson, and Elizabeth Mooney Kirk, a literacy advocate who provided most of the financial support for Obama Sr.'s early years in the United States, according to the Tom Mboya archives at Stanford University.

At the age of 23, Obama Sr. enrolled at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, leaving behind a pregnant Kezia and their infant son. He had turned away from Islam and become an atheist by the time he moved to the United States.  On 2 February 1961, Obama Sr. married fellow student Ann Dunham in Maui, Hawaii, although she would not find out that her new husband was already married until much later. Obama Sr.'s and Dunham's son, Barack Obama II, was born on August 4, 1961. Dunham left school to care for the baby, while Obama Sr. completed his degree. He graduated from the University of Hawaii in June 1962 and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, leaving shortly thereafter to travel to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he would begin graduate study at Harvard University in the fall.

Later that summer, Dunham and the year-old baby Barack stopped to visit her friends in Mercer Island, Washington, the Seattle suburb where she had grown up, before joining Obama Sr. in Cambridge. However, mother and son soon returned to Seattle, where she enrolled at the University of Washington. Dunham, missing her family, then moved back to Hawaii and filed for divorce in Honolulu in January 1964. Obama Sr. did not contest, and the divorce was granted. He visited his son only once, in 1971, when Barack was 10 years old.

While at Harvard, Obama Sr. met an American-born teacher named Ruth Nidesand. She followed him to Kenya when he returned there after he received a master's degree in economics from Harvard in 1965.  Nidesand eventually became Obama's third wife and had two children with him before they divorced.

On his return to Kenya, Obama Sr. was hired by an oil company and then served as an economist in the Ministry of Transport.  He later became a senior economist in the Kenyan Ministry of Finance.

In 1959, a monograph written by Obama was published by the Kenyan Department of Education, entitled Otieno jarieko. Kitabu mar ariyo. 2: Yore mabeyo mag puro puothe (English: Otieno, the wise man. Book 2: Wise ways of farming).

In 1965, Obama Sr. wrote a paper titled "Problems Facing Our Socialism," published in the East Africa Journal, harshly criticizing the blueprint for national planning, "African Socialism and Its Applicability to Planning in Kenya", which had been produced by Tom Mboya's Ministry of Economic Planning and Development. The article was signed "Barak H. Obama."  As his son describes in his memoir, Obama Sr.'s conflict with President Kenyatta destroyed his career.

Obama Sr.'s life then took a tailspin into drinking and poverty, from which he never recovered. His friend, Kenyan journalist Philip Ochieng, has described Obama Sr.'s difficult personality and drinking problems in the Kenya newspaper The Daily Nation. Obama Sr. lost both legs in an automobile collision, and subsequently lost his job. He died in 1982, at the age of 46, in a car crash in Nairobi.

Obama Sr. is buried at the village of Nyang’oma Kogelo, Siaya District, Kenya. His funeral was attended by ministers Robert Ouko, Oloo Aringo and other prominent political figures.

Obama, Barack Hussein II
The 44th President of the United States.

Barack Hussein Obama II was born on August 4, 1961, at the Kapi'olani Medical Center for Women & Children in Honolulu, Hawaii, United States, to Stanley Ann Dunham, an American of mainly English descent from Wichita, Kansas, and Barack Obama, Sr., a Luo from Nyang’oma Kogelo, Nyanza Province, Kenya. Obama's parents met in 1960 in a Russian language class at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, where his father was a foreign student on scholarship. The couple married on February 2, 1961, and Barack was born later that year. His parents separated when he was two years old and they divorced in 1964. Obama's father returned to Kenya and saw his son only once more before dying in an automobile accident in 1982.

After her divorce, Dunham married Indonesian student Lolo Soetoro, who was attending college in Hawaii. When Suharto, a military leader in Soetoro's home country, came to power in 1967, all Indonesian students studying abroad were recalled and the family moved to the island nation. From the ages of six to ten, Obama attended local schools in Jakarta, including Besuki Public School and St. Francis of Assisi School.

In 1971, Barack returned to Honolulu to live with his maternal grandparents, Madelyn and Stanley Armour Dunham, and attended Punahou School, a private college preparatory school, from the fifth grade until his graduation from high school in 1979.

Obama's mother returned to Hawaii in 1972 and remained there until 1977, when she relocated to Indonesia to work as an anthropological field worker. She finally returned to Hawaii in 1994 and lived there for one year before dying of ovarian cancer.

Of his early childhood, Obama recalled, "That my father looked nothing like the people around me—that he was black as pitch, my mother white as milk—barely registered in my mind." He described his struggles as a young adult to reconcile social perceptions of his multiracial heritage. Reflecting later on his formative years in Honolulu, Obama wrote: "The opportunity that Hawaii offered—to experience a variety of cultures in a climate of mutual respect—became an integral part of my world view, and a basis for the values that I hold most dear." Obama has also written and talked about using alcohol, marijuana and cocaine during his teenage years to "push questions of who I was out of my mind". At the 2008 Civil Forum on the Presidency in 2008, Obama identified his high-school drug use as his "greatest moral failure".

Following high school, Obama moved to Los Angeles in 1979 to attend Occidental College. After two years at Occidental, he transferred in 1981 to Columbia University in New York City, where he majored in political science with a specialization in international relations.  He graduated with a B.A. in 1983. He worked for a year at the Business International Corporation and then at the New York Public Interest Research Group.

After four years in New York City, Obama moved to Chicago, where he was hired as director of the Developing Communities Project (DCP), a church-based community organization originally comprising eight Catholic parishes in Greater Roseland (Roseland, West Pullman and Riverdale) on Chicago's far South Side. He worked there as a community organizer from June 1985 to May 1988. During his three years as the DCP's director, its staff grew from one to thirteen and its annual budget grew from $70,000 to $400,000. He helped set up a job training program, a college preparatory tutoring program, and a tenants' rights organization in Altgeld Gardens. Obama also worked as a consultant and instructor for the Gamaliel Foundation, a community organizing institute. In mid-1988, he traveled for the first time to Europe for three weeks and then for five weeks in Kenya, where he met many of his paternal relatives for the first time. He returned in August 2006 on a visit to his father's birthplace, a village near Kisumu in rural western Kenya.

Obama entered Harvard Law School in late 1988. He was selected as an editor of the Harvard Law Review at the end of his first year, and president of the journal in his second year. During his summers, he returned to Chicago, where he worked as a summer associate at the law firms of Sidley & Austin in 1989 and Hopkins & Sutter in 1990.  After graduating with a Juris Doctor (J.D.) magna cum laude from Harvard in 1991, he returned to Chicago. Obama's election as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review gained national media attention and led to a publishing contract and advance for a book about race relations, though it evolved into a personal memoir. The manuscript was published in mid-1995 as Dreams from My Father.

From April to October 1992, Obama directed the Illinois's Project Vote, a voter registration drive with a staff of ten and 700 volunteers. It achieved its goal of registering 150,000 of 400,000 unregistered African Americans in the state, and led to Crain's Chicago Business naming Obama to its 1993 list of "40 under Forty" powers to be.

For twelve years, Obama served as a professor of constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School; as a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996, and as a Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004. In 1993 he joined Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, a twelve-attorney law firm specializing in civil rights litigation and neighborhood economic development, where he was an associate for three years from 1993 to 1996, then of counsel from 1996 to 2004, with his law license becoming inactive in 2002.

Obama was a founding member of the board of directors of Public Allies in 1992, resigning before his wife, Michelle, became the founding executive director of Public Allies Chicago in early 1993. He served from 1994 to 2002 on the board of directors of the Woods Fund of Chicago, which in 1985 had been the first foundation to fund the Developing Communities Project, and also from 1994 to 2002 on the board of directors of the Joyce Foundation. Obama served on the board of directors of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge from 1995 to 2002, as founding president and chairman of the board of directors from 1995 to 1999. He also served on the board of directors of the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, and the Lugenia Burns Hope Center.

Obama was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996, succeeding State Senator Alice Palmer as Senator from Illinois's 13th District, which at that time spanned Chicago South Side neighborhoods from Hyde Park-Kenwood south to South Shore and west to Chicago Lawn. Once elected, Obama gained bipartisan support for legislation reforming ethics and health care laws. He sponsored a law increasing tax credits for low-income workers, negotiated welfare reform, and promoted increased subsidies for childcare. In 2001, as co-chairman of the bipartisan Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, Obama supported Republican Governor Ryan's payday loan regulations and predatory mortgage lending regulations aimed at averting home foreclosures.

Obama was reelected to the Illinois Senate in 1998, defeating Republican Yesse Yehudah in the general election, and was reelected again in 2002. In 2000, he lost a Democratic primary run for the U.S. House of Representatives to four-term incumbent Bobby Rush by a margin of two to one.

In January 2003, Obama became chairman of the Illinois Senate's Health and Human Services Committee when Democrats, after a decade in the minority, regained a majority. He sponsored and led unanimous, bipartisan passage of legislation to monitor racial profiling by requiring police to record the race of drivers they detained, and legislation making Illinois the first state to mandate videotaping of homicide interrogations. During his 2004 general election campaign for U.S. Senate, police representatives credited Obama for his active engagement with police organizations in enacting death penalty reforms. Obama resigned from the Illinois Senate in November 2004 following his election to the U.S. Senate.

In May 2002, Obama commissioned a poll to assess his prospects in a 2004 U.S. Senate race.  He created a campaign committee, began raising funds and lined up political media consultant David Axelrod by August 2002, and formally announced his candidacy in January 2003. Decisions by Republican incumbent Peter Fitzgerald and his Democratic predecessor Carol Moseley Braun not to contest the race launched wide-open Democratic and Republican primary contests involving fifteen candidates. Obama's candidacy was boosted by Axelrod's advertising campaign featuring images of the late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington and an endorsement by the daughter of the late Paul Simon, former U.S. Senator for Illinois.  In the March 2004 primary election, Obama won an unexpected landslide victory with 53% of the vote in a seven-candidate field, 29% ahead of his nearest Democratic rival, which overnight made him a rising star in the national Democratic Party and started speculation about a presidential future.

In July 2004, Obama wrote and delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts. Though it was not televised by the three major broadcast news networks, a combined 9.1 million viewers saw Obama's speech, which was a highlight of the convention and elevated his status as a star in the Democratic Party.

Obama's expected opponent in the general election, Republican primary winner Jack Ryan, withdrew from the race in June 2004.  Two months later, Alan Keyes accepted the Illinois Republican Party's nomination to replace Ryan. A long-time resident of Maryland, Keyes established legal residency in Illinois with the nomination. In the November 2004 general election, Obama received 70% of the vote to Keyes' 27%, the largest victory margin for a statewide race in Illinois history.

Obama was sworn in as a senator on January 4, 2005. Obama was the fifth African American Senator in U.S. history and the third to have been popularly elected. He was the only Senate member of the Congressional Black Caucus. CQ Weekly, a nonpartisan publication, characterized him as a "loyal Democrat" based on analysis of all Senate votes in 2005–2007. The National Journal ranked him as the "most liberal" senator based on an assessment of selected votes during 2007; in 2005 he was ranked sixteenth most liberal, and in 2006 he was ranked tenth. In 2008, ranked him as the eleventh most powerful Senator, and the politician who was the most popular in the Senate, enjoying 72% approval in Illinois.
Obama voted in favor of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and co-sponsored the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act. In September 2006, Obama supported a related bill, the Secure Fence Act. Obama introduced two initiatives bearing his name: Lugar–Obama, which expanded the Nunn–Lugar cooperative threat reduction concept to conventional weapons, and the Coburn–Obama Transparency Act, which authorized the establishment of, a web search engine on federal spending. On June 3, 2008, Senator Obama, along with Senators Thomas R. Carper, Tom Coburn, and John McCain, introduced follow-up legislation: Strengthening Transparency and Accountability in Federal Spending Act of 2008.

Obama sponsored legislation that would have required nuclear plant owners to notify state and local authorities of radioactive leaks, but the bill failed to pass in the full Senate after being heavily modified in committee. Obama favored tort reform and voted for the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 which grants immunity from civil liability to telecommunications companies complicit with NSA warrantless wiretapping operations.

In December 2006, President Bush signed into law the Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act, marking the first federal legislation to be enacted with Obama as its primary sponsor. In January 2007, Obama and Senator Feingold introduced a corporate jet provision to the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, which was signed into law in September 2007. Obama also introduced the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act, a bill to criminalize deceptive practices in federal elections and the Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007, neither of which was signed into law.

Later in 2007, Obama sponsored an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act adding safeguards for personality disorder military discharges. This amendment passed the full Senate in the spring of 2008. He sponsored the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act supporting divestment of state pension funds from Iran's oil and gas industry, and co-sponsored legislation to reduce risks of nuclear terrorism. Obama also sponsored a Senate amendment to the State Children's Health Insurance Program providing one year of job protection for family members caring for soldiers with combat-related injuries.

Obama also held assignments on the Senate Committees for Foreign Relations, Environment and Public Works and Veterans' Affairs through December 2006. In January 2007, he left the Environment and Public Works committee and took additional assignments with Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. He also became Chairman of the Senate's subcommittee on European Affairs. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Obama made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. He met with Mahmoud Abbas before he became President of the Palestinian Authority, and gave a speech at the University of Nairobi condemning corruption in the Kenyan government.
On February 10, 2007, Obama announced his candidacy for President of the United States in front of the Old State Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois. The choice of the announcement site was symbolic because it was also where Abraham Lincoln delivered his historic "House Divided" speech in 1858. Throughout the campaign, Obama emphasized the issues of rapidly ending the Iraq War, increasing energy independence and providing universal health care.

A large number of candidates entered the Democratic Party presidential primaries. After early contests, the field narrowed to a duel between Obama and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, with the race remaining close throughout the primary process but with Obama gaining a steady lead in pledged delegates due to better long-range planning, superior fundraising, dominant organizing in caucus states, and better exploitation of delegate allocation rules. On June 3, with all states counted, Obama was named the presumptive nominee and delivered a victory speech in St. Paul, Minnesota. Clinton ended her campaign and endorsed him on June 7.

Obama proceeded to focus on the general election campaign against Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, in the lead up to the Democratic National Convention. He announced on August 23, 2008, that he had selected Delaware Senator Joe Biden as his vice presidential running mate. At the convention, held August 25 to August 28 in Denver, Colorado, Hillary Clinton called for her delegates and supporters to endorse Obama, and she and Bill Clinton gave convention speeches in support of Obama. Obama delivered his acceptance speech to over 75,000 supporters and presented his policy goals; the speech was viewed by over 38 million people worldwide.

During both the primary process and the general election, Obama's campaign set numerous fundraising records, particularly in the quantity of small donations. On June 19, 2008, Obama became the first major-party presidential candidate to turn down public financing in the general election since the system was created in 1976.

After McCain was nominated as the Republican candidate, three presidential debates were held between the contenders spanning September and October 2008. In November, Obama won the presidency with 52.9% of the popular vote to McCain's 45.7%, and 365 electoral votes to 173, to become the first African American to be elected president. Obama delivered his victory speech before thousands of supporters in Chicago's Grant Park.

Obama announced on November 13, 2008 that he would resign his senate seat on November 16, 2008, before the start of the lame-duck session, to focus on his transition period for the presidency. This enabled him to avoid the conflict of dual roles as President-elect and Senator in the lame duck session of Congress, which no sitting member of Congress had faced since Warren Harding.

The inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president, and Joe Biden as vice president, took place on January 20, 2009. In his first few days in office Obama issued executive orders and presidential memoranda reversing President Bush's ban on federal funding to foreign establishments that allow abortions, changed procedures to promote disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, directed the U.S. military to develop plans to withdraw troops from Iraq, and reduced the secrecy given to presidential records. He also issued orders closing Guantanamo Bay detention camp "as soon as practicable and no later than" January 2010.

The first 100 days of Barack Obama's presidency included his signing into law a $787 billion economic stimulus package on February 17, 2009, aimed at helping the economy recover from the deepening recession. The bill included increased federal spending for health care, infrastructure, education, various tax breaks and incentives, and direct assistance to individuals. Although Obama made a high-profile visit to Capitol Hill to engage with Congressional Republicans, the bill ultimately passed largely on a party-line vote.

On February 18, 2009 he announced that United States troop strength in Afghanistan would be boosted by 17,000. In the announcement, Obama asserted that the increase was necessary to stabilize a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, which had not received the strategic attention, direction and resources it urgently required.  On February 27, 2009, Obama declared that combat operations would end in Iraq within 18 months. Obama stated in his remarks to Marines who were about to deploy to Afghanistan, "Let me say this as plainly as I can: By August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end."
Obama was an early opponent of the George W. Bush administration's policies on Iraq.  On October 2, 2002, the day President Bush and Congress agreed on the joint resolution authorizing the Iraq War, Obama addressed the first high-profile Chicago anti-Iraq War rally, and spoke out against the war. He addressed another anti-war rally in March 2003 and told the crowd that "it's not too late" to stop the war.

In a 2006 interview, Obama highlighted the diversity of his extended family: "It's like a little mini-United Nations," he said. "I've got relatives who look like Bernie Mac, and I've got relatives who look like Margaret Thatcher." Obama has seven half-siblings from his Kenyan father's family, six of them living, and a half-sister with whom he was raised, Maya Soetoro-Ng, the daughter of his mother and her Indonesian second husband. Obama's mother was survived by her Kansas-born mother, Madelyn Dunham until her death on November 2, 2008, just two days before his election to the Presidency. In Dreams from My Father, Obama ties his mother's family history to possible Native American ancestors and distant relatives of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. Obama's great-uncle served in the 89th Division that overran Ohrdruf, the first Nazi camp liberated by United States troops during World War II.

Obama was known as "Barry" in his youth, but asked to be addressed with his given name during his college years. Besides his native English, Obama speaks Indonesian at the conversational level, which he learned during his four childhood years in Jakarta.  He played basketball, a sport he participated in as a member of his high school's varsity team.

In June 1989, Obama met Michelle Robinson when he was employed as a summer associate at the Chicago law firm of Sidley Austin.  Assigned for three months as Obama's adviser at the firm, Robinson joined him at group social functions, but declined his initial requests to date. They began dating later that summer, became engaged in 1991, and were married on October 3, 1992. The couple's first daughter, Malia Ann, was born in 1998, followed by a second daughter, Natasha ("Sasha"), in 2001. The Obama daughters attended the private University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. When they moved to Washington, D.C., in January 2009, the girls started at the private Sidwell Friends School.

Applying the proceeds of a book deal, the family moved in 2005 from a Hyde Park, Chicago condominium to a $1.6 million house in neighboring Kenwood, Chicago. The purchase of an adjacent lot and sale of part of it to Obama by the wife of developer, campaign donor and friend Tony Rezko attracted media attention because of Rezko's subsequent indictment and conviction on political corruption charges that were unrelated to Obama.

In December 2007, Money magazine estimated the Obama family's net worth at $1.3 million. Their 2007 tax return showed a household income of $4.2 million—up from about $1 million in 2006 and $1.6 million in 2005—mostly from sales of his books.

Obama is a Christian whose religious views developed in his adult life. In The Audacity of Hope, Obama writes that he "was not raised in a religious household". He describes his mother, raised by non-religious parents (whom Obama has specified elsewhere as "non-practicing Methodists and Baptists") to be detached from religion, yet "in many ways the most spiritually awakened person that I have ever known". He describes his father as "raised a Muslim", but a "confirmed atheist" by the time his parents met, and his stepfather as "a man who saw religion as not particularly useful". Obama explained how, through working with black churches as a community organizer while in his twenties, he came to understand "the power of the African-American religious tradition to spur social change". He was baptized at the Trinity United Church of Christ in 1988 and was an active member there for two decades. Obama resigned from Trinity during the Presidential campaign after controversial statements made by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright became public.

Obama's family history, early life and upbringing, and Ivy League education differ markedly from those of African-American politicians who launched their careers in the 1960s through participation in the civil rights movement. Expressing puzzlement over questions about whether he is "black enough", Obama told an August 2007 meeting of the National Association of Black Journalists that "we're still locked in this notion that if you appeal to white folks then there must be something wrong." Obama acknowledged his youthful image in an October 2007 campaign speech, saying: "I wouldn't be here if, time and again, the torch had not been passed to a new generation."

Obama is frequently referred to as an exceptional orator. During his pre-inauguration transition period and continuing into his presidency, Obama has relied on his oratorical abilities to deliver a series of weekly Internet video addresses similar to Franklin D. Roosevelt's famous fireside chats to explain his policies and actions.

Obama won Best Spoken Word Album Grammy Awards for abridged audiobook versions of Dreams from My Father in February 2006 and for The Audacity of Hope in February 2008.  His "Yes We Can" speech, which artists independently set to music, was viewed by 10 million people on YouTube in the first month, and received an Emmy Award. In December 2008, Time magazine named Barack Obama as its Person of the Year for his historic candidacy and election, which it described as "the steady march of seemingly impossible accomplishments".

Ojeili, Abdul-Salam
Syrian novelist and foreign minister. 

Ojeili was born in Raqqa, about 350 miles northeast of Damascus.  He trained as a physician and was elected to Parliament in 1947.  He held a number of ministerial posts, including the foreign, culture and information portfolios, until 1962.

Ojeili published forty books, mainly collections of short stories and novels.  Among his best known works are "Basima Between Tears,"  "Hearts On Wires," "The Obscure," "Unknown on the Road," and "Land of the Lords." 

Ojeili died on April 5, 2006, in Damascus, Syria.

Okur, Mehmet
Professional basketball player. 

Mehmet Okur was born on May 26, 1979 in Yalova, Turkey. He was a 211 cm (6' 11") power forward/center.

Okur cited Toni Kukoč as his favorite player while he was growing up. Okur led the Turkish 22-and-under national team to sixth place at the 1997 world championship. Mehmet transferred to Efes Pilsen in 2000 and won a championship in the 2001–2002 Turkish Basketball League season. He averaged 13.5 points per game during his last season in Turkey.

Okur was selected 38th overall in the second round of the 2001 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons. He played two seasons for the Pistons from 2003 to 2004, helping Detroit win the NBA championship in June 2004. He became the first Turkish player to win an NBA championship. Due to salary cap limitations, the Pistons were unable to pay a top-level salary for Okur, but he was able to parlay his success into a six-year, $50 million (United States dollars) contract with the Utah Jazz.

At 2.11 m (6'11") and 119.3 kg (263 lb), Okur played the center and power forward positions for the Utah Jazz. He had an inside presence, but also had a reliable jump shot extending to the three-point range and was a solid free throw shooter with an 80.7 career percentage. During his first season (2004-2005) with Utah, Okur played in all 82 games, starting in 25 of them. Nicknamed "Memo", Okur made his presence felt during his second (2005-2006) season with Utah from 12.9 points per game the previous season to 18.0 points per game, leading his team in scoring and rebounding, making him one of the league's most improved players. He started in all 82 games for the second straight season, the only Utah Jazz player to do so.

Okur was named to the Western Conference All-Star team for 2007 NBA All-Star Game. He and Ray Allen were selected as replacements for injured original members Allen Iverson and Steve Nash. Okur was the first Turkish player to participate in this event.

He married model Yeliz Çalışkan, and they had a daughter, Melisa, born on March 21, 2007.

Omar ibn Said
Islamic scholar from Futa Touro who was captured and enslaved in the United States.

Omar ibn Said (1770–1864) was born in present-day Senegal in Futa Touro, a region along the Middle Senegal River in West Africa, to a wealthy family. He was an Islamic scholar and a Fula who spent 25 years of his life studying with prominent Muslim scholars, learning subjects ranging from arithmetic to theology in Africa. In 1807, he was captured during a military conflict, enslaved and taken across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States. He escaped from a cruel master in Charleston, South Carolina, and journeyed to Fayetteville, North Carolina. There he was recaptured and later sold to James Owen. Said lived into his mid-nineties and was still a slave at the time of his death in 1864. He was buried in Bladen County, North Carolina. Omar ibn Said was also known as Uncle Moreau and Prince Omeroh.

Although Omar converted to Christianity on December 3, 1820, many modern scholars believe he continued to be a practicing Muslim, based on dedications to Muhammad written in his Bible, and a card dated 1857 on which he wrote Surat An-Nasr, a short sura which refers to the conversion of non-Muslims to Islam 'in multitudes.' The back of this card contains another person's handwriting in English misidentifying the sura as the Lord's Prayer and attesting to Omar's status as a good Christian. Additionally, while others writing on Omar's behalf identified him as a Christian, his own autobiography and other writings offer more of an ambiguous position. In the autobiography, he still offers praise to Muhammad when describing his life in his own country; his references to "Jesus the Messiah" in fact parallel Quranic descriptions of Jesus (who is called 'the Messiah' a total of 11 times in the Qur'an), and descriptions of Jesus as 'our lord/master' employ the typical Islamic honorific for prophets and is not to be confused with Lord; and description of Jesus as 'bringing grace and truth' (a reference to John 1:14) is equally appropriate to the conception of Jesus in Islam. Given Omar's circumstances of enslavement "among the Christians" and the possibilities of lobbying for his freedom that only came with confessing Christianity, his conversion can be argued to have been made under duress. In 1991, a masjid in Fayetteville, North Carolina renamed itself Masjid Omar Ibn Said in his honor.

Osman, Ertugrul
Prince of the Ottoman Empire and the 45th Head of the dethroned House of Osman (r.1994-2009).

Ertuğrul Osman was born Ertuğrul Osman Efendi Hazretleri in Istanbul on August 18, 1912.  He was fourth in line to rule when the monarchy was abolished in 1923, and the modern Republic of Turkey replaced the Imperial Dynasty. He was regarded by Turks as the "last Ottoman".
Osman was the youngest son of Prince Mehmed Burhaneddin (1885 – 1949).  His father served as Captain of the Ottoman Army.  From 1914 to 1919 his father was crown prince of Albania by his marriage to Aliye Melek Nazlıyar Hanım Efendi, daughter of Huseyin Bey.

Osman attended school in Vienna, Austria. In 1924, while studying in Vienna, Osman received news that all members of the Sultan's family were to be exiled.  He would not return to his native Turkey until the 1990s, when the Government of Turkey agreed to grant him Turkish citizenship. He began living in the United States in 1933, and later resided in New York City.  He became the 45th Head of the Imperial House of Osman in 1994.

As a young man, Osman ran a mining company, Wells Overseas, which required to travel frequently to South America.  Because he considered himself a citizen of the Ottoman Empire, he refused to carry the passport of any country.  Instead, he traveled with a certificate devised by his lawyer.  He continued to do so until after security measures were tightened after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  In 2004, He received a Turkish passport for the first time.

Osman lived modestly in New York after 1945, residing in a two-bedroom apartment above a restaurant.  He returned to Turkey in the 1990s (August 1992), having been invited by the country's government.

He spoke Turkish, English, German and French fluently and understood Italian and Spanish.

Ertuğrul Osman V died aged 97 on September 23, 2009, in Istanbul. The Turkish Culture Ministry stated his death was due to renal failure.

He married twice, first in New York City, New York, on January 20, 1947 to Gulda Twerskoy Hanım Efendi (born in Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa on March 20, 1915 - died in New York City, New York, on September 16, 1985), without issue. His second wife, whom he married in New York City, New York, on September 27, 1991, Zeynep Tarzi Hanım Efendi (born Istanbul, 16 December 1940), is the daughter of Abdulfettah Tarzi, niece of the former King of Afghanistan, Amanullah Khan, and of Pakize Tarzi, a pioneering Turkish doctor from a deep-rooted Ottoman family.

Ertugrul Osman was the last surviving grandson of an Ottoman emperor.  His grandfather, Abdul Hamid II, ruled from 1876 to 1909.  Osman was thus a claimant to the Ottoman throne.   The list of claimants to the Ottoman throne since 1922 are:

Mehmed VI (1922)
Abdülmecid II (1922–1944)
Ahmed Nihad (1944–1954)
Osman Fuad (1954–1973)
Mehmed Abdulaziz (1973–1977)
Ali Vâsib (1977–1983)
Mehmed Orhan (1983–1994)
Ertuğrul Osman (1994–2009)
Bayezid Osman (2009–present)

Osman, Fathi
Voice for modernism in the Muslim faith.

Fathi Osman was born on March 17, 1928, in Minya, Egypt.  He earned a bachelor's degree in history from Cairo University in 1948, a law degree from Alexandria University in 1960, a master's degree in history from Cairo University in 1962, and a doctorate in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton in 1976.

In the 1940s, Osman joined the Muslim Brotherhood, an anti-colonialist and Islamist group, and helped edit the Brotherhood's weekly newspaper.  He was a friend and colleague of Sayyid Qutb, the newspaper's editor-in-chief and one of the founding fathers of radical Islam, but broke with Qutb and the Brotherhood in the 1950s.  In 1960, he published "Islamic Thought and Change," setting forth his more moderate version of Islam. 

Osman published several books in Arabic that explored Islamic thought as it pertains to human rights and legal systems, notably "The Individual in Muslim Society: Mutual Rights and Obligations" (1963) and "Human Rights in Western Thought and Islamic Law."

In the 1960s, Osman held several posts at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, where he worked on overhauling the Islamic curriculum at Egyptian universities. 

After teaching at universities in Algeria and Saudi Arabia, Osman enrolled at Princeton, where he earned a doctorate in Near Eastern studies in 1976, writing a dissertation on Islamic land ownership and taxation.  He then took a post in the history department at Ibn Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Osman moved to the Los Angeles in 1987 to become a resident scholar at the Islamic Center of Southern California.  He also founded the Institute for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World at the Los Angeles-based Omar ibn Al-Khattab Foundation and was a senior scholar at the University of Southern California's Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement. 

Osman wrote more thatn 25 books in Arabic and English, including "Concepts of the Qur'an: A Topical Reading" (1996), a unique English language commentatry on the Qur'an that presents the  text in a format organized by topic.  Published with the help of the Islamic Center of Soutthern California, "Concepts of the Qur'an" includes Osman's interpretations of the Qur'an's major teachings, such as its controversial pronouncements on the role of women.

With moderate views on issues such as human rights, religious pluralism and gender rights, Osman was a major pioneer in Islamic reform in the twentieth century.  In "Concepts of the Qur'an", Osman presents the Qur'an according to broad topic areas, including divine law, human rights, economic justice, the family, workship and angels.  Osman's commentary sought to counter misconceprtions about Islam, such as the popular belief that the Qur'an advocates the superiority of men. 

Osman was married to Aida Abdel-Rahman Osman.  They had one daughter, Ghada Osman.

Fathi Osman died on Septermber 18, 2010, at his home in Montrose, California, of congestive heart failure. 

Otemisuly, Makhambet
A Kazakh poet and political figure.

Makhambet Otemisuly (c.1803 - October 20, 1846) is best known for his activity as a leader (with friend Isatay Taymanuly) of rebellions against Russian colonialism. This activity is believed to have resulted in his murder in 1846. His first rebellions took place against Zhangir-Kerey Khan of the Bukey Horde. Because the rebellion was badly defeated and a bounty was placed on Utemisov, he had to flee the region.

Makhambet's early education took place at a Russian language school in Orenburg. At any rate, his poetry was more closely tied to Kazakh culture and literary tradition. The major themes of his poetry were of two types: political criticism of Russia or the khan, or more general poetry devoted to themes about human existence and life.

Oudeh, Mohammad Daoud
Palestinian known as the planner, architect, and mastermind of the Munich massacre of Israeli Olympians during the 1972 Olympic Games.

Mohammad Daoud Oudeh, commonly known by his nom de guerre Abu Daoud or Abu Dawud (1936/37, Silwan – July 3, 2010, Damascus) lived in Jerusalem until the 1967 Six-Day War, when he was displaced when Israel captured the eastern portion of the city.  He resettled in Jordan, where he joined the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). In 1970, Daoud was one of the founders of Fatah. From 1971, he was leader of the Black September, a Fatah offshoot created to avenge the September 1970 expulsion of the Fedayeen Movement from Jordan and carry out international operations. The group gained international notoriety for its role in the Munich massacre at the 1972 Munich Olympics, in which a number of athletes on the Israeli team were taken hostage by Black September operatives. Eleven Israeli athletes and a German policeman were killed by the end of the multi-day standoff.

After the Black September operations, Oudeh resumed his activity in Fatah and the PLO in close collaboration with Abu Iyad and other officials. He led armed units in Lebanon during the Lebanese Civil War. In January 1977, Oudeh was intercepted by French police in Paris while travelling from Beirut under an assumed name. Under protest from the PLO, Iraq, and Libya, who claimed that because Oudeh was traveling to a PLO comrade's funeral he should receive diplomatic immunity, the French government refused a West German extradition request on grounds that forms had not been filled in properly and put him on a plane to Algeria before Germany could submit another request. After the 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre, Oudeh fled to Eastern Europe, then to Lebanon until the 1975 Lebanese Civil War broke out, then back to Jordan.

On July 27, 1981, Oudeh was shot 13 times from a distance of around two meters in a Warsaw Victoria hotel coffee shop, but he survived the attack, chasing his would-be assassin down to the front entrance before collapsing. Oudeh claimed the attempted assassination was carried out by a Palestinian double agent recruited by the Mossad, and claimed the would-be assassin was executed by the PLO ten years later.

After the 1993 Oslo Accords, Oudeh moved to Ramallah in the West Bank. Following a trip to Jordan and the publication of his memoirs, Oudeh was banned from returning to Ramallah. He settled with his family in Syria, the only country that would take him. He lived on a pension provided by the Palestinian Authority and gave interviews to Aljazeera and other Arab and international media outlets about his life, the Munich events, and Palestinian politics. Oudeh was allowed safe passage through Israel in 1996, so he could attend a PLO meeting in the Gaza Strip to rescind an article in the PLO charter calling for Israel's eradication.

Oudeh said his commandos did not intend to harm the Israeli athletes, but only to use them as bargaining chips to free 236 Palestinian prisoners. He blamed their deaths on the German Police and the stubbornness of then Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. Oudeh said two of the athletes were killed at the start of the operation because they resisted the commandos. Despite promises to the contrary, Oudeh said German police went back on their word and opened fire on the militants and hostages at the airport after promising to let them leave. The killings created a public outcry against the Palestinian cause. However, Oudeh reiterated that he had no regrets about his involvement.

Oudeh published his autobiography Palestine: From Jerusalem to Munich in French in 1999. It was later published in English as Memoirs of a Palestinian Terrorist, also titled Palestine-A History of the Resistance Movement, by the Sole Survivor of Black September. The book is a first hand account of the rise of the Palestinian resistance movement from its inception to the attack at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

On July 3, 2010, Oudeh died of kidney failure at Al-Andalus Hospital in Damascus, Syria. After a funeral service in the Al-Wasim Mosque in Yarmouk with his coffin draped in the Palestinian flag, Oudeh was buried in the Martyrs Cemetery of the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp on the southern outskirts of Damascus. He was survived by five daughters and a son.

Pakzad, Bijan
Iranian designer of menswear and fragrances, and self-titled "Owner of The Most Expensive Store in the World."

Bijan Pakzad was born on April 4, 1940 in Tehran, Iran.  Bijan immigrated to Los Angeles in 1973. His exclusive boutique on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills was established in 1976.  The store was known as a store that could be visited by "appointment only" and was described as "the most expensive store in the world".

Bijan's main residence was in Beverly Hills, California, but he was also known to own residences in New York and Malibu, as well as Milan and Florence, Italy. Up until the time of his death, Bijan was one of few Iranians in the media limelight who were still permitted to enter Iran.

Bijan was also known for his automobiles. Most notable in his car collection was a yellow Bentley Azure with black interior, as well as a Black Bentley Azure with yellow interior. He was also known to have a black Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren with a customized paint scheme, a yellow Ferrari 430 roadster, a yellow Rolls Royce Drophead coupe, and a Bugatti Veyron, all of which he was known to park outside of his Rodeo Drive boutique.

In the late 1980s, Bijan designed a golden Colt revolver. The gun had a leather handgrip fashioned for a .38-caliber Colt revolver inlaid in the cylinder was 56 grams of 24-karat gold. The gun was placed in a mink pouch in a Baccarat crystal case embossed with the customer's name. Bijan's own signature was engraved in gold on the barrel of the gun. Only 200 such guns were made. In 2005, one of these guns sold to Jacob Nahamia at Christie's auction house for over $50,000.

In 2000 Bijan, courted controversy when an advertisement featuring a "rotund [nude] model named Bella" and himself was at first rejected by New York magazines before it was accepted by Tina Brown's Talk magazine.

On April 14, 2011, Bijan suffered a stroke and was immediately rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He had brain surgery but never recovered.  He died two days later on April 16, 2011 at 8:05 am.

Bijan dressed some of the world's most powerful men: President of the United States Barack Obama, former President of the United States George W. Bush, Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger, American actor Tom Cruise, German television host Thomas Gottschalk, British actor Sir Anthony Hopkins, President of Russia Vladimir Putin, United States Senator John Kerry, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair, Michael Jordan, Paul Allen, Jay Leno, Giorgio Armani, Usher, Carlos Slim Helu, Steve Wynn, Oscar de la Renta, Tom Ford, Shahram Nazeri and United States President Ronald Reagan have all been dressed by Bijan.

Bijan's fragrances for both men and women were known for their distinctive circular glass flacon with an open center and a dividing web. When half full, the fragrance filled two separate chambers, seemingly defying the law of gravity that liquid seeks its own level. One of these perfume bottles is featured in the permanent exhibit of the Smithsonian Institution.

Bijan had three children. His first-born, Daniela Pakzad, from his first marriage, and his other two children—Alexandra Pakzad and Nicolas Bijan Pakzad, from his second marriage, to Irish-Japanese Model/Interior Designer Tracy Murdock (Tracy Hayakawa).

Pamuk, Orhan
Nobel Prize winning Turkish novelist. 

Orhan Pamuk was born in Istanbul on June 7, 1952.  He grew up in a wealthy industrialist family.  He was educated at Robert College in Istanbul.  Then he studied architecture at the Istanbul Technical University, due to family pressures to become an engineer or an architect.  However, he left the architecture school after three years to become a full-time writer, and graduated from the Institute of Journalism at the University of Istanbul in 1976.  He was a visiting scholar at Columbia University from 1985 to 1988, a period which also included a visiting fellowship at the University of Iowa.  He returned to Istanbul, where he lived until 2006, when he returned to the United States to take up a position as a visiting professor at Columbia University.

Orhan Pamuk started writing regularly in 1974.  His first novel, Cevdet Bey ve Ogullari (Cevdet Bey and His Sons), was awarded the first prize in the 1979 Novel Contest of the Milliyet Press.  This book, published in 1982, also won the Orhan Kemal Novel Prize in 1983.  He received the 1984 Madarali Novel Prize with his second novel, Sessiz Ev (The Silent House), published in 1983, and the 1991 Prix de la Decouverte Europeenne with the French translation of the novel.  His historical novel Beyaz Kale (The White Castle), published in 1985, extended his reputation abroad.  The New York Times Book Review wrote: "A new star has risen in the east -- Orhan Pamuk, a Turkish writer."  His 1990 landmark novel Kara Kitap (The Black Book) has become one of the most controversial and popular readings in Turkish literature, due to its complexity and richness.  In 1992, Pamuk wrote the script of the film Gizli Yuz, directed by the prominent Turkish director, Omer Kavur.

Pamuk's fifth novel Yeni Hayat (New Life), caused a sensation in Turkey upon its 1995 publication and became the fastest-selling book in Turkish history.  By this time, Pamuk had also become a high-profile figure in Turkey, due to his support for Kurdish political rights.  In 1995, Pamuk was among a group of authors tried for writing essays that criticized Turkey's treatment of the Kurds.   In 1999, Pamuk published his story book Oteki Renkler (The Other Colors).

Pamuk's international reputation continued to increase when he published Benim Adim Kirmizi (My Name is Red) in 2000.  The novel blends mystery, romance, and philosophical puzzles in a setting of 16th century Istanbul.  It opened a window into the reign of Ottoman Sultan Murat III in nine snowy winter days in 1591, inviting the reader to experience the tension between East and West from an urgent perspective.  Benim Adim Kirmizi has been translated into 24 languages and won international literature's most lucrative prize, the IMPAC Dublin Award in 2003.

Pamuk's novel Kar, published in 2002 (English translation, Snow), explores the conflict between Islamism and Westernism in modern Turkey.  The New York Times listed Snow as one of its Ten Best Books of 2004.  He also published a memoir/travelogue Istanbul -- Hatiralar ve Sehir in 2003 (English version, Istanbul -- Memories of a City, 2005).  Orhan Pamuk won in 2005 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade for his literary work, in which "Europe and Islamic Turkey find a place for one another." 

Pamuk's books are characterized by a confusion of identity brought on in part by the conflict between European and Islamic values.  They are often disturbing or unsettling, but include complex, intriguing plots and characters of great depth.  His works are also filled with discussion about, and fascination with, the creative arts.  Pamuk's work often touches on the deep-rooted tension between East and West and tradition and secularism.

On October 12, 2006, the Swedish Academy announced that Orhan Pamuk had won the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature.  In its citation, the Academy said: "In the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city, [Pamuk] has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures."

Pamuk married Aylin Turegen in 1982.  However, the couple divorced in 2001.  They have a daughter named Ruya, whose name means "dream" in Turkish.  His older brother Sevket Pamuk -- who sometimes appears as a fictional character in Orhan Pamuk's stories -- is a historian, internationally recognized for his work in the history of economics. 

Pangeran Dipo Negoro
c. 1785-1855
Javanese leader in the 19th-century conflict known to the West as the Java War (1825-1830).

Pangeran Dipo Negoro, also called Raden Mas Ontowirjo (b. c. 1785, Jogjakarta, Java [Indonesia] — d. January 8, 1855, Makasar, Celebes), was the Javanese leader in the 19th-century conflict known to the West as the Java War and to Indonesians as Dipo Negoro’s War (1825–30). During those five years Dipo Negoro’s military accomplishments severely crippled the Dutch and earned for him a prominent place in the Indonesian nationalist pantheon of heroes.

The sultanate of Jogjakarta was created February 13, 1755, by a Dutch treaty that dismembered the once-powerful Javanese kingdom of Mataram. Although Dipo Negoro was the eldest son of the third ruler of Jogjakarta, Sultan Amangku Buwono III, he was passed over for the succession in 1814 on the death of his father in favor of a son whose mother was of higher rank, but he was promised the throne should his half brother predecease him. He was a deeply religious person who throughout that period lived in meditative seclusion, and historians disagree on whether he wanted the throne or whether he spurned it in favor of a contemplative life.

There is no doubt, however, that during the 1820s Dipo Negoro came into conflict with Dutch officials and by 1825 emerged as the leader of disaffected aristocrats in the Jogjakarta region. The Java War itself was triggered by a series of draconian land reforms that undercut the economic position of the Javanese aristocrats.

There were mystical overtones to the conflict as well, drawn from traditional Javanese and from Muslim sources. Dipo Negoro clearly was cast in the role of the Javanese ratu adil (“just prince”) come to save his people, but the struggle was also seen as a Muslim jihād (“holy war”) against the infidel Dutch. The outbreak of the war was accompanied by reports of revelations and prophecies and miraculous events.

Dipo Negoro had a strong following in the Jogjakarta region and launched a guerrilla war that was quite successful for nearly three years. In late 1828, however, Dutch forces won a major victory that proved the turning point in the war. Under General H. Merkus de Kock, the Dutch proceeded to develop a system of small, mutually protecting outposts linked by good roads that enabled them to quell the natives’ guerrilla warfare. In 1830 Dipo Negoro agreed to meet with Dutch representatives for peace negotiations, but during the meeting he was arrested. He died in exile.

Patterson, Lorenzo Jerald (MC Ren)
American rapper.

Lorenzo Jerald Patterson was born on June 14, 1969, in Compton, California.  Under the name of MC Ren, he joined the gangsta rap group N.W.A. (Niggaz With Attitude) after finishing his senior year of high school. He contributed vocals on the Straight Outta Compton (1988) album as well as co-writing several tracks after Ice Cube left the group in 1989. N.W.A became the first gangsta rap group to gain mainstream success. However, as their album Niggaz4Life reached the #1 spot on the Billboard 200 in 1991, financial conflict between Dr. Dre and Ruthless Records led to the group disbanding. Group member Eazy-E was accused of skimming money along with the group's manager, Jerry Heller. Dr. Dre left to form Death Row Records. MC Ren subsequently released his debut album in 1992, entitled Kizz My Black Azz which went platinum. MC Ren's next album, Life Sentence, was scrapped when he converted to the Nation of Islam (which he later left). Shock of the Hour in 1993 was released the next year. It also features the single "Mayday on the Front Line" which appeared in the film CB4. MC Ren soon fell on hard times when DJ Train died in a burning house before the release of The Villain in Black (1996). The album sold relatively well for a brief period. Before leaving Ruthless Records, MC Ren released Ruthless for Life (1998) which proved a small comeback, selling moderately well. He appeared on the posse cut "Some L.A. Niggaz" from Dr. Dre's 2001 album. In 2000, he appeared on the song "Hello" which featured Dr. Dre and Ice Cube on Ice Cube's War & Peace Vol. 2 (The Peace Disc) album. He joined the Up In Smoke Tour that same year just to rap this verse on this track.

In addition, MC Ren released the straight-to-DVD movie entitled "Lost in the Game" in 2004. His most recent work has appeared on some more politically-oriented projects such as with Public Enemy, specifically Paris' album Hard Truth Soldiers Vol. 1 as well as on Public Enemy's album Rebirth of a Nation.

MC Ren appeared on the VH1 Hip Hop Honors talking about Eazy-E in the tribute to him. In 2009, MC Ren finished his fifth studio album entitled Renincarnated which was released under his own record label Villain Entertainment on October 31, 2009. Renincarnated was only released in the U.S.


    * 1988: Straight Outta Compton
    * 1992: Kizz My Black Azz
    * 1993: Shock of the Hour
    * 1996: The Villain in Black
    * 1998: Ruthless for Life
    * 2009: Renincarnated

People's Mujahedin of Iran

The People's Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI, also MEK, MKO) (Persian: sāzmān-e mojāhedin-e khalq-e irān) is an Islamic Marxist organization that advocates the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In 1965, MEK was formed by a group of Iranian college students as an Islamic political movement. Grounded in the democratic tradition of Iran’s Constitutional Revolution, the ideals of Premier Mohammed Mossadeq, and the pro-democracy protests of the 1960s, the organization held a liberal interpretation of Islam.

The PMOI was originally devoted to armed struggle against the Shah of Iran, capitalism, and Western imperialism. The group claimed to have renounced violence in 2001 and today it is the main organization in the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an "umbrella coalition" claiming the role of a parliament-in-exile dedicated to a democratic, secular and coalition government in Iran. The group had thousands of its members for many years in bases in Iraq, but they were disarmed in the wake of the United States-led invasion.

On July 28, clashes erupted at Ashraf in Diyala Province when the ISF attempted to establish a police presence inside the more than 3,400-person compound of the terrorist Iranian dissident group Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). The clashes resulted in the deaths of 11 MEK members and injuries to 30 ISF officers. The government credibly claimed the MEK provoked the clashes by staging a violent demonstration to block the ISF from entering the compound.

Considerable controversy surrounded the issues of whether the NCRI is merely a front group for the PMOI; whether the NCRI is involved in terrorism, or if it is "a legitimate dissident organization fighting for democracy in Iran" whose Western accusers were attempting to use it as a bargaining chip in negotiations with its enemy the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The PMOI's armed wing was called the National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA). The Iranian government officially refers to the organization as the Monafeqin (literally, "Hypocrites"), maintaining that PMOI was not truly Islamic.

The United States designated the PMOI a terrorist organization. On January 26, 2009, the Council of the European Union removed the PMOI from the European Union list of organizations it designates as terrorist. The group said it was the outcome of a seven-year-long legal and political battle.

The PMOI and the NCRI claimed to have provided the United States with intelligence on Iran's nuclear program in 2002 and 2008.

Qabisi, al-
d. 967
Arab astrologer who is known in the West as Alcabitius.

Qabisi, al- (‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Qabisi) (Alcabitius) (Alchabitius) (Abû al-Saqr al-Qabîsî 'Abd al-'Azîz ibn Uthmân), also known as Alchabiz, Abdelazys, or Abdilaziz, was a 10th century Arabian astrologer.  He is primarily known for his treatise on judicial astrology, Introduction to the Art of Judgments of the Stars, dedicated to the Sultan Sayf al-Dawlah (r. c. 916-967) of the Hamdanid dynasty, a work which, in Latin translation, was highly prized in medieval and renaissance Europe.

A 13th century Latin translation in manuscript by John of Seville was printed in 1473 under the title Alchabitii Abdilazi liber introductorius ad magisterium judiciorum astrorum (the work is also known as the Liber isagogicus de planetarum coniunctionibus).

He died in 967.


The terms Qahtanite and Qahtani (Arabic: transliterated: Qahtan or Qaḥṭān or Kahtan) refer to Semitic peoples either originating in, or claiming genealogical descent from the southern extent of the Arabian Peninsula, especially from Yemen. The rival group to the Qahtan are variously known as Adnan, Ma'add or Nizar.

The Qahtani people are divided into the two sub-groups of Himyar and Kahlan, with the Himyar branch as Himyarites and the Kahlan branch as Kahlanis.

Arab tradition maintains that a semi-legendary ancestral figure named Qahtan and his 24 sons are the progenitors of the southern inhabitants of the Arabian peninsula known as Qahtani.

Early Islamic historians in attempting to harmonize Arab and Judaeo-Christian tradition identified Qahtan with the Biblical Joktan, although their names have different Semitic roots and appear thousands of years apart in history.

Among the sons of Qahtan are noteworthy figures like A'zaal (believed by Arabs to have been the original name of Sana'a, although its current name has been attested since the Iron Age) and Hadhramaut. Another son is Ya'rub, and his son Yashjub is the father of 'Abd Shams, who is also called Saba. All Yemeni tribes trace their ancestry back to this "Saba", either through Himyar or Kahlan, his two sons.

The Qahtani people are divided into the two sub-groups of Himyar and Kahlan, who represent the settled Arabs of the south and their nomadic kinsmen (nomads). The Kahlan division of Qahtan consists of 4 subgroups: the Ta' or Tayy, the Azd group which invaded Oman, the 'Amila-Judham group of Palestine, and the Hamdan-Madhhij group who mostly remain in Yemen.

The Kahlan branch includes the following tribes: Aus and Khazraj, Ghassan, Azd, Hamdan, Khath'am, Bajflah, Madhhij, Murad, Zubaid and Nakh', Ash'ar, Lakhm and Kindah.

The first groups of Semites that moved northward already developed the early Semitic names derived from triliteral and sometimes a quadriliteral verb root that first appeared in early (now extinct) East Semitic languages, especially Akkadian, Assyrian, and Old Babylonian. A closer examination reveals connections with the Central Semitic language family including: Aramiac, Phoenician, Hebrew, and Nabatean, which is closely related to the Southern Semitic languages Minaean, Sabaean, Qatabanian, Awsanian, Hadhramaut, and Himyarite.

Early Semites who developed civilizations throughout the Ancient Near East gradually relinquished their geopolitical absoluteness to surrounding influences and neighboring empirical powers, usually due to either internal turmoil or outside conflict. This climaxed with the arrival of the Neo-Babylonians, and subsequently the rival Medes and Persians, during the 7th and 6th centuries B.C.T. respectively. Though the Semites lost geopolitical influence, the Aramaic language emerged as the lingua franca of much of the Near East. However, Aramaic usage declined after the defeat of the Persians and the arrival of the Hellenic armies around 330 B.C.T.

The Ghassanids (ca. 250 C.C.) were the last major non-Islamic Semitic migration northward out of Yemen. They revived the Semitic presence in the then Roman Nabataean-controlled Syria. They initially settled in the Hauran region, eventually spreading to modern Lebanon, Israel/Palestine and Jordan, briefly securing governorship of Syria away from the Nabataeans.

Between the 7th and the 14th centuries, the Arabs forged an empire that extended their rule from Spain and southern France in the west, to western China in the east. During this period of expansionism, the Arabs, including Qahtanite tribes, overspread these lands, intermingling with local native populations while yet maintaining their cultural identity. It is not unlikely to find Arabs of Qahtanite descent as far away as Morocco or Iran, and many can trace their heritage with profound accuracy. Among the most famous examples of Qahtanite Arabs is the social scholar Ibn Khaldun who was born in Tunisia to a family that immigrated from Islamic Spain (Al-Andalus).

Raden Ngabei Ronggowarsito
A court poet of Surakarta (Indonesia) and the author of the Paramayoga and the Pustakaraja Purwa which describe a mythical history of Java from the time of Adam to the year 730 AJ. 

“AJ” stands for anno Javanicae.  Numerous traditional calendars have been employed in the archipelago at various times. The Muslim calendar is lunar, with a year of 354 or 355 days divided into 12 months.  The counting of years commenced in 622 C.C. with Muhammad’s flight (hijra) to Medina and Muslim dates are commonly denoted in English by AH (anno hijrae), in Indonesian by H (years according to the Christian calendar being marked with M for Masehi).  The year 1410 AH commenced on August 3, 1989, of the Christian calendar.

The Javanese calendar, also lunar with 354-355 days per year, was adopted by Sultan Agung of Mataram, using much Muslim terminology, but with a somewhat different division of months and arrangement of leap years and a base year of 78 C.C., the putative start of the Hindu-Javanese era.  Years are now commonly denoted with the initials AJ (anno Javanicae).  For agricultural purposes, the Javanese also used sun-years (mangsa), but these were not counted.  The year 1922 AJ commenced on August 3, 1989. 

During the Japanese occupation, the traditional Japanese system of counting years from the founding of the imperial dynasty was used.  Thus, 1942 became 2602.

Raden Ngabei Ronggowarsito is generally regarded as the last of the great Javanese court poets.

Raden Ngabei Ronggowarsito (Raden Ngabehi Rangga Warsita) (March 14, 1802, Surakarta - December 24, 1873, Idem) was a Javanese poet. He was born into a famous literary family in Surakarta, in Central Java, the Yasadipura family. People regarded him as the last Javanese poet.

The real name of Raden Ngabei Ronggowarsito was Bagus Burham. He was the son of Mas Pajangswara and grandson of Yasadipura II, the famous poet of Kasunanan Surakarta (Kingdom of Surakarta). His father was an offspring of Kesultanan Pajang, whereas his mother was an offspring of Kesultanan Demak.

Radi, Selma al-
Iraqi-born archaeologist who began and led the over twenty year restoration of the Amiriya Madrasa complex in Rada, Yemen.

A diplomat's daughter, Selma Al-Radi was born in Baghdad on July 23, 1939.  Her father was the Iraqi ambassador first to Iran and later to India.  She was raised in Tehran and New Delhi.

Al-Radi earned a bachelor's degree from Cambridge in Oriental Studies, with a concentration in archaeology and ancient Semitic languages; a master's degree in art history and Near East archaeology from Columbia; and a doctorate in archaeology from the University of Amsterdam, where she wrote her dissertation on a Neolithic site in Cyprus.

During her career, Selma al-Radi worked on excavations in most countries of the Middle East, including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait and Egypt.  For many years, she was a research associate at New York University's Institute of Fine Arts. 

In 2003, Selma al-Radi was one of a group of specialists appointed to investigate the looting of teh National Museum in Baghdad in the wake of the invasion of Iraq.  Though she discounted initial reports of losses as exaggerated, she reported that some 6,000 to 10,000 items were missing, with many more broken. 

Selma Al-Radi came upon the Amiriya Madrasa in the 1970s, and enlisted the financial help of the Dutch and Yemeni governments in its restoration. She had traditional materials used rather than modern substitutes. Italian restoration experts restored the murals, but local workers were trained and in time did more and more of the restoration work.

Al-Radi published two books on the Madrasa project, “The Amiriya in Rada: The History and Restoration of a Sixteenth-Century Madrasa in the Yemen” and “Amiriya Madrasa: The Conservation of the Mural Paintings”.

In 2007, Al-Radi and her Yemeni colleague, Yahya Al-Nasiri, received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for their work in the restoration.  Presented every three years, the award honored outstanding architectural achievements throughout the Muslim world. Al-Radi received the Yemen Presidential Medal of Culture in 2007.

Al-Radi was the sister of Nuha al-Radi (d. 2004), the author of "Baghdad Diaries." Al-Radi was married to Qais Al-Awqati, a Professor of Medicine and Physiology at Columbia University.  Her first marriage to Muqbil Zahawi, ended in divorce, but did produce her son, Rakan Zahawi.

Selma al-Radi died on October 7, 2010 at her home in Manhattan, New York.  The cause was ovarian cancer.

Raja, Wasim
Pakistani cricket player and referee. 

Wasim Hasan Raja was born on July 3, 1952 in Multan, Punjab.  Wasim, the brother of fellow Pakistan international cricket player Rameez Raja, was a left-handed middle order batsman.  He was often described as the most gifted cricket player of the 1970s.  Wasim, who could also bowl top-spinners, played 57 Tests between 1973 and 1985, scoring 2821 runs at 36.16 with four hundreds, the best of which was 125.  He also took 51 wickets at 35.80 with a best of 4 for 50.  Both his career best performances came against India at Jalandhar in 1983-84.  He also appeared in 54 one-day internationals and was subsequently a match referee in 15 Tests, the last of which was in 2003-2004.

Raja's average of 57.43 from 11 Tests against West Indies in the Clive Lloyd-Viv Richards era surpasses those of Sunil Gavaskar (53), Graham Gooch (45), Allan Border (39), Mohinder Amarnath (38) and Allan Lamb (34).

He settled in England after studying at Durham University and marrying an Englishwoman.  He died on August 23, 2006, in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, England from a heart attack suffered while playing for Surrey over-50s. 

Reza Quli Khan
The Persian author of texts on political, literary and religious history.  He was known as Hidayat in poetry. Along with Furughi, Reza Quli Khan revived the tradition of the mystical ghazal.

Reza Quli Khan (Rezā Qoli Khān Hedāyat) (June 8, 1800 - June 29, 1871) was a Persian writer and poet, and the tutor of Mozaffar al-Din Shah Qajar.

Reza Quli Khan was born in 1800 in Tehran. Upon the completion of his education he entered the service of Prince Hossein Ali Mirza Farman Farma son of Fat'h Ali Shah and governor of Shiraz. He was given the title of Khan and of Amir-ol Sho'ara in 1830, when Fath Ali Shah visited Shiraz.

In 1838, Reza Quli Khan returned to Tehran. Mohammed Shah instructed him to remain at the court and in 1841 selected him as tutor to his son Prince Abbas Mirza Molk Ara. In 1847 he was appointed governor of Firuzkuh.
In 1851, Reza Quli Khan was chosen by Naser al-Din Shah to lead the Embassy to Khiva. He was minister of education in 1852 and principal of the newly founded Dar-ol-fonoon College at Tehran.

In 1857, Reza Quli Khan was selected as tutor of Mozaffar al-Din Shah.

Reza Quli Khan died from a severe illness in 1871. He had two sons, Ali Qoli Khan Mokhber ed-Dowleh and Ja'afar Qoli Khan Nayer-ol-Molk. Reza Qoli Khan was also great-grandfather of Sadeq Hedayat.

Rifa'a Rafi Tahtawi
A member of the liberalizing element within the Egyptian ‘ulama’.

Rifa’a Rafi Tahtawi (1801-1873) was a member of the liberalizing element within the Egyptian ‘ulama’ (Islamic religious and legal scholars). Tahtawi studied with Shaykh Hasan al-Attar at al-Azhar and was influenced by Attar’s description of his experiences with the French expedition to Egypt (1798-1801), when he had visited the French Institute and observed the work of the scholars there. Tahtawi’s career served as an important link between the more traditional elements of religious and scholarly life in Egypt and the Westernizing trends of the country’s leadership.

Tahtawi was appointed Imam (spiritual counselor or guide) to the new Egyptian army and spent five years in France, 1826-1831, as Imam to the Egyptian educational mission sent there by Muhammad Ali.  Upon his return in 1832 he became editor of the Official Gazette, in addition to translating many classics and works of philosophy from French into Arabic.  He was appointed a member of a governmental secretariat on education in 1836.  Tahtawi’s career suffered a brief eclipse during the reign of Abbas I (r.1848-1854), but he was returned to favor by Sa‘id (r.1854-1863) and helped set up the new Egyptian educational system.  He fell out with Sa ‘id toward the end of the latter’s reign but was again restored, this time by Isma‘il (r.1863-1879).  Tahtawi became editor of an educational magazine, resumed his directorship of the Language School at the School of Artillery (a post he had first held in 1833) and became head of the Translation Office.

Saad al-Sabah
Emir of Kuwait. 

Saad al-Abdullah al-Salim al-Sabah was born in 1930.  He was the eldest son of Sheik Abdullah al-Salem al-Sabah, the eleventh emir of Kuwait.  Saad received his basic education in Kuwait, then took courses at Hendon Police College in London until 1954. 

Saad held various posts in the Kuwaiti police and public security services until 1959, when he was appointed deputy director of the police and public security department.  he remained in that post until 1961.  Saad served as the president of teh Police and Public Service Department from 1961 to 1962.

In January 1962, Saad was appointed interior minister in the first Kuwaiti cabinet after it became independent from Britain.  In 1964, he was also put in charge of national defense.  Saad would serve as both interior minister and defense minister until 1978.

Saad was Kuwait's crown prince from 1978 to 2006.  He was also prime minister from 1977 to 2003, when he gave up the post because of poor health.  Saad also served as the Military Governor of Kuwait from 1991 to 1992.

Saad played a major role in liberating Kuwait from Saddam's regime.  He refused to compromise with any of Iraq's ministers, and with the head of the PLO, Yasir Arafat.  He announced that he would discuss nothing but liberating Kuwait from the Iraqi regime. 

Additionally, Saad played a major role in getting Sheikh Jaber out of Kuwait and into Saudi Arabia when the Iraqis first invaded.  While in exile in Saudi Arabia, during the first Gulf War (1990-1991), Saad gave a famous speech, mistakingly referring to Alaa Hussein Ali, the Kuwaiti quisling, as Aladdin.  This mistake was marked by jokes, prompting one of the newspapers in Kuwait to publish a famous headline on its front page, translating to "Where is Aladdin?"  This referred to the sudden disappearance of Alaa Hussein Ali following Kuwait's liberation.

Saad suffered from colon problems and cancer.  He was already ailing when he succeeded to the throne in 2006 after the death of his predecessor, Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah.  Saad actually attended Jaber's funeral in a wheelchair.  His continued health problems caused some to question his ability to rule.   Some members of the Kuwaiti parliament expressed concern that Saad would not be able to deliver the two-line oath of office, scheduled for January 24, 2006.

On January 23, 2006, Saad agreed to abdicate following a discussion within the ruling family, and only after ten days on the throne.  On January 24, 2006, the Kuwaiti parliament voted Saad out of office, moments before an official letter of abdication.

Saad al-Sabah died  of heart failure on May 13, 2008 in Shaab Palace in Kuwait City.

Sabbagh, Hasib
Billionaire Palestinian contractor.

Hasib Sabbagh (also spelled Hassib) came from a Christian family in Safed in Palestine, although he was born in Tiberias. He graduated from the Arab College of Jerusalem in 1938, and in 1941 earned a civil engineering degree from the American University of Beirut.

Hasib attended the prestigious Government Arab College of Jerusalem, which only the top public school students in Palestine attended. It was headed by Ahmad Samih al-Khalidi and staffed by some of the finest teachers in the Arab world. It was a boarding school with regimental discipline, where the highest standards were set for the students. They were expected to study night and day, and were allowed only one day off for sports and other recreation. It was there that he established some of the friendships that were to last a lifetime.

In 1938, Hasib enrolled at the American University of Beirut (AUB), as a sophomore, in the college of engineering.  Attending AUB was to be one of the more significant experiences of his life. Not only was he being trained for his future profession, but he was also exposed to a rich and varied political life. AUB students came from throughout the Arab world, and represented many political currents.  There were the Syrian nationalists, followers of Antun Sa‘adeh, the communists led by Khalid Bikdasli, the Arab nationalists whose ideologue was Professor Constantine Zureik of AUB, and the Arab Ba‘thists who adhered to Michel ‘Aflaq’s ideas.

In 1970, Hasib met Yasir Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), at the house of a mutual friend, Abdul Majid Shoman, in Beirut.  Afterwards, he developed a close relationship with Arafat and other members of the PLO leadership. Hasib, Basel Aql, and Walid Khalidi became intermediaries between the PLO and the Lebanese government, trying to inform and explain the complexity of Lebanese confessional politics to Arafat and his colleagues and interceding on behalf of Palestinian refugees with the Lebanese authorities. It was the Lebanese civil war, however, that made Hasib an activist - an activist for peace and reconciliation between the various Lebanese parties and between the Palestinians and the Lebanese.

Hasib recognized the danger of the situation in Lebanon when, in April 1975, twenty-six Palestinians were shot to death by Phalangist forces in ‘Ayn al-Rumanah, in retaliation for the assassination of two of their bodyguards. The next day, he met with Abu Iyad, the PLO’s second in command, at Walid Khalidi’s house. The Palestinian leadership had also understood the potential threat to Lebanese - Palestinian relations this incident portended. Abu Iyad asked Hasib to convince the Maronite patriarch, Antonius Butrus Khraysh, to condemn the killing publicly in order to preempt a further deterioration of the situation. Hasib, accompanied by a member of the Phalangist party, visited the patriarch, who agreed to make a statement on the radio that same evening condemning the killings. Hasib also asked the patriarch to invite both Pierre Gemayel, the leader of the Phalangist party, and Yasir Arafat for lunch at the patriarchate to effect a reconciliation between them and their communities. The invitation was accepted by Gemayel, but Arafat declined, saying that it was too soon after the ‘Ayn al-Rumanah killings to meet with Gemayel. Hasib Sabbagh believed that had that meeting occurred between the two leaders at the onset of the conflict, it may have prevented much of the bloodshed and disaster that took place in the following days, months, and even years. Hasib was involved in many other efforts to bring leaders of the various factions together in order to resolve conflicts or prevent their escalation.

Throughout the war, Hasib acted as intermediary and mediator, trying to find solutions to the conflict that was destroying the country. He passed messages from the PLO to the United States administration and back to the PLO (although he was not the only channel that Arafat used to communicate with the United States). In 1982, after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, Hasib, accompanied by Munib al-Masri and Abdul Majid Shoman, went to Saudi Arabia to ask King Khalid to intercede with the United States in an effort to stop Israel’s bombing of Beirut, to allow the PLO to leave the city. When the bombing stopped, Hasib was instrumental in passing information from the PLO to the United States about the PLO’s conditions for its peaceful departure from Beirut.

In 1943, with four other contractors, Hasib established the Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) in Haifa. Sabbagh left Palestine in April 1948 and moved to Lebanon. CCC was reestablished there in 1950, becoming the region's largest multinational and one of the largest contractors worldwide.  Hasib became one of the world's billionares, and ranked as high as number 16 on the list of the world's richest Arabs, with a net worth of $4.3 billion.

The Consolidated Contractors Company thrived in some of the world's most volatile regions.  The company constructed the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, which was completed in 1969, a decade before Saddam Hussein became president.  The CCC also built a terminal extension at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington. 

The CCC moved its headquarters to Athens from Beirut after civil war broke out in Lebanon in 1975.  The CCC then benefited from the economic construction boom in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and provided offshore services to the oil and gas industries in the Persian Gulf.

A longtime member of both the Palestine National Council and of its central council, Sabbagh provided crucial international contacts for Yasir Arafat during the 1970s and 1980s. Most controversially, his 1978 meeting with the Phalange, first agreed to and then denounced by Arafat, provoked condemnation from the Lebanese and Syrian governments as well as from Palestinian opposition groups. In 1988, his active support encouraged Arafat to steer the Palestine Liberation Organization firmly toward a renewed peace initiative.

After the death of his wife, Sabbagh founded the Diana Sabbagh Foundation.  The Diana Sabbagh Foundation received one percent of Sabbagh's annual income and distributed it to a wide variety of institutions in the Middle East, Europe and the United States.  Through the Diana Sabbagh Foundation, one of the largest Arab charitable foundations, Sabbagh supported institutions of higher education across the Arab world and the West, and influenced a range of dialogue initiatives, notably in the United States at the Council on Foreign Relations, the Carter Center, and the Center for Muslim - Christian Encounter, and in Palestine within the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH), under Hanan Ashrawi. Hasib also cofounded the Welfare Association for Palestinians, chaired the Palestinian Students Fund, and has been on the boards of the Arab Bank and of many academic institutions and pro-Palestinian think tanks, such as the Institute of Palestine Studies.

Hasib Sabbagh passed away on January 12, 2010, after a long illness.

Saeedpour, Vera Beaudin
Scholar and Archivist of Kurdish culture.

Vera Beaudin Saeedpour (pronounced sah-EED-por, March 27, 1930 – May 30, 2010), was an American researcher and scholar who specialized in the study of Kurdish people. She opened the first library and museum in the United States dedicated to the subject.

She was born Vera Marion Fine in Barre, Vermont on March 27, 1930, to Jewish immigrants from Russia. Her father sold scrap metal and rags for a living. She grew up in the only Jewish family in the town. At age 17, she eloped with Marcel Beaudin and moved to Brooklyn, where she worked at a bakery. She later spent eight years working as an assistant to New York City real estate developer Seymour Durst. The couple had four sons, Marc, Paul, Adam and Jeb, and one daughter, Rebecca.

At age 40 she enrolled at the University of Vermont, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and earned a bachelor's degree in sociology.  She stayed on at the University of Vermont to earn a masters degree in philosophy. After her divorce from Beaudin, she enrolled at Teachers College, Columbia University, where she earned a Ph.D. in 1976.

While at Columbia, Vera moved to an apartment in Harlem. When her home was robbed, she called out to a man in an apartment across the street to ask if he had witnessed the burglary. That man, Homayoun Saeedpour, a 26-year-old Kurd from Sanandaj, would later ring her doorbell, offering cake and flowers. They married soon after.

After her marriage to Saeedpour, Vera developed an interest in the plight of the Kurdish people. She was unfamiliar with the Kurds and their history when she first met her husband, but a decade later she felt she got to "know the Kurds better than any Westerner living". At one point, in need of a bone marrow transplant to treat his leukemia, her husband's doctor refused to treat him, believing that he was Iranian.

The Saeedpours were married 5 years. Following her husband's death, in 1986, Saeedpour opened the Kurdish Heritage Foundation of America with a library in her Prospect Heights, Brooklyn brownstone. The museum, opened in 1988, was the first museum with a focus on the Kurds in the United States. The library currently contains more than 2,000 texts in Kurdish and other languages, as well as Kurdish artifacts, art, costumes and maps.

Saeedpour also edited the International Journal of Kurdish Studies as part of the Kurdish Program she established together with anthropologists at Harvard University and Cultural Survival. Before the Gulf War, Saeedpour also organized a speaking tour for Kurdish politician Jalal Talabani, who later became President of Iraq.

A resident of Fort Plain, New York, Saeedpour died at age 80 of a heart attack on May 30, 2010, in Schenectady, New York. She is survived by her five children and two grandchildren.

Said Mohamed Djohar
President of the Comoro Islands. 

The half-brother of 'Ali Soilih, Said Mohamed Djohar was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Comoro Islands when Ahmed Abdallah was assassinated.  Constitutional mandate placed the Chief Justice first in line to replace the President until elections could be held.  Said Mohamed Djohar therefore became interim President in November 1989.  He was replaced briefly by mercenaries who attempted to seize power directly, but France and South Africa suspended aid and France intervened militarily in order to oust the mercenaries.  He was then elected President in 1990 in two separate elections and France resumed its aid.  (The first election was abandoned due to claims of fraud lodged by his opponent Mohamed Taki).  He survived two coup attempts in 1990 and 1991, and one assassination attempt in 1994.  He reinstated a multiparty system, granted amnesty to all political prisoners, established diplomatic relations with the United States, and supervised the signing of a bilateral agreement with South Africa for Comorian development.

Djohar was ousted by a band of mercenaries led by Robert Denard in September 1995.  French troops ended the coup and re-installed Djohar under bilateral accords with the Comoros, a former French colony, and captured the mercenaries led by Denard.

Djohar died at his home in Mitsamiouli on February 22, 2006, two days after Denard went on trial in Paris on charges of overthrowing Djohar and installing two opposition leaders, Mohammed Taki and Said-Ali Kemal.  Djohar was remembered by Comorans as the father of democracy in the Comoros.

Saleh, 'Ali 'Abd Allah
b. 1942
President of Yemen 1990 to 2012.

ʿAlī ʿAbd Allāh Ṣāliḥ, Salih also spelled Saleh (b. March 21, 1942, Bayt al-Aḥmar, North Yemen) was a Yemeni military officer who led a coup against the government of North Yemen in 1962 and became president in 1978. In 1990, Saleh became president of a reunified Yemen.

Ṣāliḥ attended the local Qurʾānic school and joined the army at age 16. Four years later, on September 26, 1962, he led a military coup that replaced the imamate of North Yemen with a civilian government. Continuing to advance in his military career, he helped to bring Ibrāhīm al-Ḥamdī to power in a 1974 coup, but the assassination of Ḥamdī in 1977, and of his successor in the following year, threw the country into turmoil. The result was Ṣāliḥ’s elevation to the presidency by the People’s Constituent Assembly on July 17, 1978. He survived an attempted military coup later in the year and in 1983 was re-elected unanimously by the People’s Constituent Assembly to a new term.

From the beginning Ṣāliḥ promoted the unification of North Yemen with South Yemen (Aden), and the merger finally took place on May 22, 1990, with Ṣāliḥ as president. In April 1993, in the first elections held after unification, Ṣāliḥ’s party, the General People’s Congress (GPC), won the largest representation in the House of Representatives (parliament). A full-scale civil war between forces of the north and the south broke out on May 5, 1994, but when the fighting ended on July 7, Ṣāliḥ remained firmly in power. In elections held in 1997, the GPC consolidated its control of parliament, further strengthening the president’s position. In the first direct elections for the presidency, held in September 1999, he won more than 96 percent of the ballots cast, although most opponents boycotted the voting.

In February 2001, constitutional amendments put forth by Ṣāliḥ and the GPC to extend the presidential term from five to seven

years and the legislature’s term from four to six years were passed in a national referendum. In the 2003 legislative elections, the GPC further strengthened its position in parliament, and in the presidential elections of September 2006 Ṣāliḥ was re-elected to another term as president.

In January 2011, as a wave of popular protests swept through the Middle East and North Africa, demonstrations calling for Ṣāliḥ to step down as president were held in Yemen. After making some economic concessions, in February Ṣāliḥ pledged not to seek re-election in the next presidential election, scheduled for 2013. The concessions failed to placate protesters, who noted that Ṣāliḥ had reneged on a previous pledge not to seek re-election in 2006. As protests demanding his immediate ouster continued, Ṣāliḥ resisted, saying that his departure would cause chaos and that the protest movement threatened the country’s unity. On February 28, 2011, Ṣāliḥ offered to form a unity government with members of the opposition, who rejected the offer.

Support for Ṣāliḥ eroded further in March. Deadly clashes between security forces and protesters provoked a number of Yemeni officials, military officers, and tribal leaders to declare their support for the opposition. The defection of senior military officers led to a standoff between units that had sided with the opposition and units that remained loyal to Ṣāliḥ. Limited fighting between the two factions occurred in mid-April.

In late April, Ṣāliḥ announced that he had accepted a transition plan sponsored by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The plan, which stipulated that Ṣāliḥ step down after a month in exchange for immunity from prosecution, was cautiously accepted by representatives of the opposition. However, the initiative stalled in early May when Ṣāliḥ, in an apparent reversal of his position, refused to sign the agreement. In late May, after some formal changes to the agreement had been made, Ṣāliḥ’s representatives announced that he was prepared to sign. However, Ṣāliḥ once again refused at the last minute, causing the GCC to withdraw the agreement and suspend its effort to mediate between Ṣāliḥ and the opposition. Following Ṣāliḥ’s refusal to sign, heavy fighting broke out in Sanaa between pro-opposition tribal militias and troops loyal to Ṣāliḥ.

On June 3 Ṣāliḥ was injured and seven of his guards were killed by a bomb planted inside a mosque at the presidential palace in Sanaa. Rumors quickly circulated about Ṣāliḥ’s condition, leading his representatives to deny that he had been gravely injured or killed in the attack. Hours later Ṣāliḥ released an audio statement in which he asserted that he was in good health and condemned the rebel al-Ahmar tribal fighters as outlaws. On June 4 Ṣāliḥ was transported to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment, and reports indicated that Yemeni officials had understated the severity of his injuries, which included shrapnel wounds and extensive burns. Ṣāliḥ’s vice president, Abd al-Rab Mansur al-Hadi, took the position of acting president in Ṣāliḥ’s absence.

A televised address by Ṣāliḥ—his first since being injured in June—was broadcast in Yemen on July 7. He appeared to speak with difficulty, and his hands were heavily bandaged. In the address, Ṣāliḥ said that dialogue would be necessary to resolve the crisis in Yemen.

On September 23, amid a new round of fighting between forces loyal to Ṣāliḥ and the opposition, Ṣāliḥ returned to Yemen.

After several days of negotiations in late November, Ṣāliḥ signed an agreement to transfer power to Vice President Hadī in exchange for immunity from prosecution. The internationally mediated agreement called for Hadī to cooperate with the opposition to hold new elections and reform the constitution. Under the agreement, Ṣāliḥ was left with the honorary title of president for a period of 90 days, the amount of time projected for organization of the elections.

Saleh, Joseph
Film producer and real estate investor. 

Joseph Jamiel Menashi Saleh was born on January 18, 1934, in Hamadan, Iran, the son of Menashi and Naima Saleh.  The family  came to the United States in the 1940s.  After graduating from Colgate College in 1954, Saleh did graduate work in sociology at Columbia University. 

He became an associate director of research at CBS News in the 1960s, focusing on public opinion polling.  At CBS News, Saleh developed the first network election night forecasting system in 1964.  He later had a position with Columbia Pictures as Director of Research.   

In the 1970s, Saleh produced four feature films, including Bombay Talkie and Savages (1972), and early Merchant Ivory film.  Saleh would produce many of the films of James Ivory and Ismail Merchant. 

Saleh financed the movie Streetwise, a documentary about teenage runaways in Seattle, which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1985.

Saleh was also a successful real estate developer during the 1980s.  It was during this period that he created, in 1989, the first multiplex movie center, the Angelika Theater, in Soho that showcased independent films and created a social climate for exhibitions and "Cafe Dialogue."  

The theater was a project which Saleh operated with his first wife, Angelika Ohl.  Saleh served as president of Angelika Film Center and the Angelika Films Corporation while Angelika was the chairwoman.

Together with his booker, Jeffrey Jacobs, he helped launched such commercial hit as Drugstore Cowboy, The Crying Game and Pulp Fiction at the Angelika Theater.   He was also responsible for the distribution of over 70 films in the United States among them:  Sweet Lorraine, The Suicide Club (he produced and financed those two films) and the Italian classic masterpiece, We, the Living.  He also distributed On Valentine Day, 1918, (written by Academy Award Winner Horton Foote), Liquid Sky and End of the Line among others.

In 1994, Saleh received an award from the City of New York as Cinematic Entrepreneur of the Year. 

In 1999, Saleh divorced Angelika and married Jackie Raynal, a filmmaker and prior owner of Bleecker Street Cinemas and the Carnegie-Hall Cinemas.

Saleh died on April 18, 2007, near his home outside Paris, France.  The cause of death was complications from a stroke.  Saleh was survived by his wife Jackie Raynal, his daughters Jessica Hunt and Eva Saleh, his mother Naima Saleh, his sister Angela Shashoua, and a granddaughter.

Salih, Al-Tayyib
Sudanese writer. 

Al-Tayyib Salih (Tayeb Salih) was born in 1929 in Marawi, a town in the Northern Province of Sudan.  He was educated first in Islamic schools.  He studied at the University of Khartoum before leaving for the University of London in England.  Coming from a background of small farmers and religious teachers, his original intention was to work in agriculture.  Except, however, for a brief spell as a schoolmaster before coming to England, his working life was in broadcasting.

The works of Al-Tayyib are generally political, dealing with themes such as colonization and gender.  Salih was also considered one of the best short story writers working in Arabic today.  Having studied both western and Arab literature, philosophy, and society, Salih intermingles aspects of both cultures in his works.

Salih achieved immediate acclaim when his 1967 novel The Season of Migration to the North was first published in Arabic in Beirut in the late 1960s.  In 2001, this was declared "the most important Arabic novel of the 20th century" the Syrian-based Arab Literary Academy in Damascus.  His works have been translated from Arabic into more than 20 languages.

Salih completed three other novels and a collection of short stories.  His  1969 novella The Wedding of Zein was made into a drama in Libya and a Cannes Festival prize-winning film by the Kuwaiti filmmaker Khalid Siddiq in the late 1970s.

For more than ten years Salih wrote a weekly column for the London-based Arabic language newspaper, "al Majalla," in which he explored various literary themes.  He worked for the BBC's Arabic Service, and later became director general of the Ministry of Information in Doha, Qatar.  He spent the last 10 years of his working career with UNESCO in Paris, where he held various posts and was finally UNESCO's representative in the Gulf States.

Salih's works reflect the Arab and African quest for identity, especially in the 1960s, which saw the end of colonialism and the rise of nationalism across the region.  His 1966 masterpiece, The Season of Migration to the North, deals with a clash of civilizations.

The story of The Season of Migration to the North is about intellectuals torn between the culture of their native Sudan and that of Europe, where they lived for a time.  A main character describes his time in the West, where he seduces and then leaves a succession of British women before finally marrying one in a stormy love-hate pairing that ultimately results in her murder at his hands. 

Critics speculated that the novel drew heavily from the author's own life, but Salih, who married a Scottish woman, always denied this.

In the late 1990s, the Sudanese government attacked the novel as pornographic and said it violated Islamic teachings, though it was not officially banned.  Most believe the government's displeasure with the book stemmed from its harsh description of the political and cultural conditions in Sudan.

Salih's other works include The Cypriot Man and The Wedding of Zein, which was turned into a Kuwaiti film, Urs Al-Zayn, in 1976.  Salih also contributed to a monthly London-based Arabic publication, Al-Majalla.

Al-Tayyib Salih died on February 18, 2009, in London.

A Kurdish poet.

Abdul-Rehman Begi Saheb-Qiran (1800-1866), famous by his pseudonym as Salim or Salem, was born in 1800 in Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan. He is one of the most significant classic Kurdish poets. He was the uncle of Nalî and the cousin of Kurdî, two famous poets. He died in 1866 in Sulaimany.
The content of Salim's poems mainly consists of philosophy, mysticism and history. Most of his poems are in the form of ghazal, but he has some quatrains (ruba'is) and qasidas. His poems are in Kurdish, Persian and Arabic. He was influenced by Hafez and Kalim Hamedani among Persian poets and Nali among the Kurdish poets. His poetry is meterical.   He used Hazaj meter in his poetry which proved suitable for Sorani poetry. There are many Persian and Arabic words in Salim's Kurdish poems.

Sano, Mohamed Kemoko
Choreographer and director who founded Les Merveilles de Guinee, an African dance and music troupe. 

Born in a village near Macenta, in the Forest Region of Guinea, Mohamed Kemoko Sano became a leading figure in the country's performing arts in the decades after Guinean independence in 1958, when traditional arts were revived and initially supported by the government.  He performed with Les Ballets Africains and later with Ballet Djoliba through 1986 and was resident choreographer at Les Ballets Africains from 1987 to 2000.

In 1986, Sano founded Les Merveilles, which toured the world, appearing in New York City several times.  He taught music and dance as a Fulbright artist-in-residence at San Francisco State University in 1994 and at Long Island University/C. W. Post and the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 2000 and 2001.

During the last year of his life, Sano collaborated with the choreographer Hamidou Bangoura on the creation of an evening-length work, "Memoire du Mandingue," for Les Ballets Africains.

Mohamed Kemoko Sano died on May 25, 2006, in Conakry, Republic of Guinea from complications of diabetes.

Saqafi, Khadijeh
Wife of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. 

Saqafi married Khomeini in 1931, and later gave birth to seven children, although only five (three daughters and two sons) survived infancy.  Her eldest son, Mostafa, was murdered in 1977 while in exile with his father in the Iraqi city of Najaf.  Mostafa's murder is believed to have been carried out by SAVAK, the notorious Iranian intelligence service of Shah's regime. Her other son, Ahmed, died in 1995 at the age of 50 after suffering a massive cardiac arrest. 

Khomeini called Khadijeh Saqafi the "Mother of the Islamic Revolution."  She died on March 21, 2009, in Tehran.

Saqr bin Mohammad al-Qassimi
Emir of Ras al-Khaimah, one of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), from 1948 to 2010.

Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammad al-Qassimi (c. 1920 – October 27, 2010) became the Ruler of Ras al-Khaimah on July 17, 1948, when he overthrew his uncle and father-in-law Sheikh Sultan Bin Salim al-Qassimi in a bloodless coup d'etat. Sheikh Saqr exiled the Sultan to Sharjah. Under his rule, Ras al-Khaimah joined the United Arab Emirates in 1972.

At the time of his death in 2010, he was the world's oldest reigning monarch at age 90.

Sheikh Saqr's ancestral line goes back to Rahma Bin Matar Bin Kayid, founder of the Al Qasimi dynasty., which ruled the northern part of the Greater Oman Region following the fall of the Ya’aribah state and the emergence of the Al-Busaidi State in Sohar and Muscat in 1747.  He was born in the city of Ras Al-Khaimah, where he was brought up in an Islamic Arabic environment under the care of his father, Sheikh Mohammad Bin Salim, who ruled the emirate between 1917 and 1919.

Sheikh Saqr received a religious and an academic education. He learned to read from regionally-renowned clerics as a youth, and later joined a semi-regular school in Ras Al Khaimah to further study reading and writing, as well as principles of mathematics.  He also studied oratory and Arabic arts.

Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammad al-Qasimi became the ruler of the Sheikhdom of Ras Al Khaimah on July 17, 1948, after a bloodless takeover from his uncle and father-in-law Sheikh Sultan bin Salim al-Qassimi.

Following the 1948 coup, Sheikh Saqr worked to consolidate his rule, particularly among the Bedouins from the south, the low land mountaineers from the east, and a combination of a group of highland non-Arab pygmies known as the Shihuh and other tribes from the north, all of whom had been sources of opposition to the coup. This result was a period of instability and violence in which Sheikh Saqr's followers battled those opposed to his rule. Misinformation was rife during the unrest, with many combatants unsure whom they were fighting and unaware that Sheikh Sultan Bin Salem Al Qassimi had been exiled to Sharjah.

After Sheikh Saqr gained complete control of Ras Al Khaimah, he began to delegate power through tribal leaders in order to avoid further bloodshed among and facilitate cooperation with the tribes. These tribal leaders functioned as middlemen between Sheikh Saqr and the people of Ras Al Khaimah. No tribal member could meet with the Sheikh without the permission of his respective Sheikh. Though the influence of the tribes has weakened since Ras Al Khaimah joined the United Arab Emirates in 1972, the last emirate to join, the Government continues to delegate through tribal power structures.

Sheikh Saqr refused to support Ras Al-Khaimah's accession to the UAE when it was formed on December 2, 1971, due to a dispute with Iran over a series of disputed islands, two Ras Al Khaimah islands and one Sharjah island. An Iranian naval expeditionary force landed on the islands on November 30, 1970, and Sheikh Saqr wanted guarantees from Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan and Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum of Dubai that the new UAE Federal Government would not relinquish Ras Al-Khaimah's claim to the islands. Once this guarantee was granted, Ras Al-Khaimah joined the UAE on February 24, 1972.

Sheikh Saqr appointed his oldest son, Khalid bin Saqr Al Qasimi, as the Crown Prince of Ras Al Khaimah in 1974. Sheikh Khalid was replaced by another of Sheikh Saqr's sons, Sheikh Saud bin Saqr al Qasimi, on April 28, 2003, and Khalid chose the Omani capital Muscat for his unconditional exile. The transfer of power marked the first time in the UAE that a Crown Prince had been removed in such a manner. At the time of the decree, and UAE Army soldiers and tanks were deployed around sensitive sites in Ras Al-Khaimah in case of unrest.

Khalid had a reputation as a supporter of women's rights and a Western reformer, and his wife, Sheikha Fawqai al-Qasami, was a playwright and an active campaigner for women's issues. Sheikh Saud was seen as more of a traditionalist.

Sheikh Saqr died, after being ill for several months, on October 27, 2010.

Sheikh Saqr was succeeded as leader of the Ras al Khaymah emirate — one of seven composing the United Arab Emirates — by a son, Sheikh Saud bin Saqr al-Qasimi. Sheikh Saud was chosen as crown prince in 2003, opening a family feud with his half brother.

The line of succession in the emirate had been a simmering dispute since Sheikh Saqr rejected his eldest son, Sheikh Khalid bin Saqr al-Qasimi, as the crown prince in 2003 and chose Sheikh Saud to succeed him. In 2010, Sheikh Khalid stepped up his efforts to succeed his father, hiring an American public relations firm to press his case in Washington. He did not, however, possess any authority to block the succession.

Federal authorities moved quickly to forestall any challenges to the succession. The Federal Supreme Council, made up of the rulers of each of the emirates, announced its “full support” for Sheik Saud as Ras al Khaymah’s new leader.

Saud Nasser al-Saud al-Sabah
Former Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States and Great Britain.

Shaikh Saud Nasser Al-Saud Al-Sabah (3 October 1944 – 21 January 2012) was a member of the Kuwaiti royal family and the former Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States and Great Britain.

Saud Nasser al-Sabah was the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States during Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait and the American-led war to oust Saddam Hussein’s forces.

A member of Kuwait’s royal family, Saud was a leading voice calling for international help during Iraq’s occupation. But he was forced to defend his tactics after the revelation in 1992 that it was his teenage daughter, Nayirah — who had been identified at the time only by her first name — who testified before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in October 1990 that she had seen Iraqi soldiers yank newborn Kuwaiti babies from incubators. Her account, which helped galvanize American public opinion in favor of war, was later questioned by human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, which had originally verified it.

Saud was Kuwait’s envoy to Washington from 1981 to 1992. He later served as the information minister and oil minister. In later years, he was regarded as an elder statesman with close ties to the White House and American officials.

Saud was a strong critic of the anti-Western views expressed by Islamic hard-liners in Kuwait. In 2003, he joined other Kuwaiti leaders in endorsing the United States invasion of Iraq, calling it the “beginning of the end” for Muslim extremists.

Saud and his daughter Nayirah were reportedly involved in Citizens for a Free Kuwait – a front group established by the Kuwaiti government to promote US involvement in the First Gulf War. This involvement was covered in the 1992 documentary film To Sell a War.

Saylan, Turkan
Physician and social activist.

Türkan Saylan (December 13, 1935 – May 18, 2009) was a Turkish physician in dermatology. She was famous for fighting leprosy, and for founding a charitable foundation called "Association for the Support of Contemporary Living"(also known as the "Support for Modern Life Association" or "CYDD").

Turkan Saylan was born on December 13, 1935 in Istanbul.  Saylan received a degree from Istanbul University's school of medicine in 1963 with a specialization in venereal diseases and dermatology.  She taught at Istanbul University, becoming an associate professor in 1972 and a professor in 1977.  She retired from the university in December 2002. 

Saylan concentrated her work on leprosy in 1976 and founded the Leprosy Relief Association & Foundation.  She was also a founding member of the International Leprosy Union (ILU). 

Saylan earned an international reputation for her wide-ranging medical, educational and social work on leprosy.  In 1986, she received the International Gandhi Award, which was presented to her in India. 

Saylan served as a member of Turkey's Higher Education Board (YOK) between the years 2001 and 2007. 

Saylan founded the Association for the Support of Contemporary Living in 1989 to build schools and provide grants to poor students, especially girls.  However, in April 2009, police searched the Association for the Support of Contemporary Living headquarters and branch offices as well as Saylan's house in Istanbul as part of the ongoing investigation into Ergenekon, a clandestine network charged with plotting to overthrow the government and prepare a suitable atmosphere for a military coup. 

When Saylan's house was searched, she was terminally ill, and her situation sparked a new debate over the Ergenekon case.  There were allegations that the CYDD had strong ties with Ergenekon, but others discounted these allegations.

Saylan promoted the image of secular Turkish women and denounced the sexual inequality often associated with the world view of the governing party.  In her later years, she dedicated herself to the education of young girls in rural parts of Turkey, where local customs forced many to marry and have children when they were as young as 12.  The Association for the Support of Contemporary Living is credited with having given grants and scholarships to at least 58,000 students.

Turkan Saylan died on May 18, 2009 in Istanbul, Turkey.  She was survived by two sons, Cinar Orge, a medical doctor, and Caglayan Orge, a graphic designer.

Sembene, Ousmane
Senegalese filmmaker and writer. 

The son of a fisherman, Ousmane Sembene was born in Ziguinchor in Casamance to a Muslim Wolof family.  He went to an Islamic school (common for many boys in Senegal) and to the French school, learning French and basic Arabic in addition to his mother tongue, Wolof.  He had to leave his French school in 1936 when he clashed with the principal.  After an unsuccessful stint working with his father (Sembene was prone sea-sickness), he left for Dakar in 1938, where he worked a variety of manual labor jobs.

In 1944, Sembene was drafted into the French Army in World War II and later fought for the Free French forces.  After the war, he returned to his home country, and in 1947, participated in a long railroad strike on which he later based his seminal novel God's Bits of Wood.

Late in 1947, he stowed away to France, where he worked at a Citroen factory in Paris and then on the docks at Marseille, becoming active in the French trade union movement.  He joined the communist led CGT and the Communist party, helping lead a strike to hinder the shipment of weapons for the French colonial war in Vietnam.  During this time, he discovered writers such as Claude McKay and Jacques Roumain.

Sembene drew on many of these experiences for his French language first novel Le Docker Noir (The Black Doctor, 1956), the story of Diaw, an African stevedore who faces racism and mistreatment on the docks at Marseille.  Diaw writes a novel, which is later stolen by a white woman and published under her name.  He confronts her, accidentally kills her, and is tried and executed in scenes highly reminiscent of Albert Camus's The Stranger.  Though the book focuses particularly on the mistreatment of African immigrants, Sembene also details the oppression of Arab and Spanish workers, making it clear tht the issues are as much economic as they are racial.  Like most of his fiction, it is written in a social realist mode.  Many critics today consider the book somewhat flawed.  However, it began Sembene's literary reputation and provided him with the financial support to continue writing.

Sembene's second novel, O Pays, mon beau peuple! (Oh country, my beautiful people!, 1957), tells the story of Oumar, an ambitious black farmer returning to his native Casamance with a new white wife and ideas for modernizing the area's agricultural practics.  However, Oumar comes into conflict with both the white colonial government and the people of his home village, and is eventually murdered.  This second novel was an international success, giving Sembene invitations from around the world, particularly from Communist countries such as China, Cuba, and the Soviet Union.  While in Moscow, Sembene had the opportunity to study filmmaking for a year at Gorki Studios.

Sembene's thrid and most famous novel is Les Bouts de Bois de Dieu (God's Bits of Wood, 1960).  Most critics consider it to be Sembene's masterpiece, rivaled only by Xala.  The novel fictionalizes the real life story of a railroad strike on the Dakar-Niger line and lasted from 1947 to 1948.  Though the charismatic and brilliant union spokesman, Ibrahima Bakayoko, is the most central figure, the novel has no true hero except the community itself, which bands together in the face of hardship and oppression to assert their rights.  Accordingly, the novel features nearly fifty characters in both Senegal and neighboring Mali, showing the strike from all possible angles.  In this, the novel is often compared to Emile Zola's Germinal.

Sembeme followed Les Bouts de Bois de Dieu with the (1962) short fiction collection Voltaique (Tribal Scars).  The collection contains short stories, tales and fables, including "La Noire de ...'' (which Sembene would later adapt into his first film).  In 1964, Sembene released l'Harmattan (The Harmattan), an epic novel about a referendum for independence in an African capital.

With the 1965 publication of Le mandat, precede de Vehi-Ciosane (The Money Order and White Genesis), Sembene's emphasis began to shift.  Just as he had once vociferously attacked the racial and economic oppression of the colonial government, with this pair of novellas, he turned his sights on the corrupt African elites that followed.

Sembene continued this theme with the 1973 novel Xala, the story of a El Hadji Abdou Kader Beye, a rich businessman struck by what he believes to be a curse of impotence ("xala" in Wolof) on the night of his wedding to his beautiful, young third wife.  El Hadji grows obsessed with removing the curse through visits to marabouts, but only after losing most of his money and reputation does he discover the source to be the beggar who lives outside his offices and who he wronged in acquiring his fortune.

Le Dernier de l'empire (The Last of the Empire, 1981), Sembene's last novel, depicts corruption and an eventual military coup in a newly independent African nation.  His paired 1987 novellas Niiwam et Taaw (Niiwam and Taaw) continue to explore social and moral collapse in urban Senegal.

On the strength of Les Bouts de Bois de Dieu and Xala, Sembene is considered one of the leading figures in African postcolonial literature.  However, a lack of English translation of many of his novels hindered Sembene from achieving the same internation popularity enjoyed by Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka.

As an author so concerned with social change, one of Sembene's goals had always been to touch the widest possible audience.  After his 1960 return to Senegal, however, he realized that his written works would only be read by a small cultural elite in his native land.  He, therefore, decided at age 40 to become a filmmaker, in order to reach wider African audiences.

In 1966, Sembene produced his first feature film, La Noire de ..., based on one of his own short stories.  It was the first feature film ever released by a sub-Saharan African director.  Though only 60 minutes long, the French language film won the Prix Jean Vigo, bringing immediate international attention to both African film generally and Sembene specifically. 

La Noire de ... (Black Girl) is commonly referred to as the first African film.  Combining realistic narrative techniques with elements of traditional African storytelling, it tells the story of a young woman named Diouana who commits suicide after traveling to Europe with her French employers.  Diouana's identity crisis foretold some of the central themes of Sembene's later work.  He directed ten features and numerous shorts.  The tensions between tradition and modernity and between newly independent African nations and their erstwhile colonial masters are sources of drama and comedy in Sembene's films, which are nonetheless focused on the lives of ordinary people .

Sembene followed his success with the 1968 Mandabi, achieving his dream of producing a film in his native Wolof.  Later Wolof language films include Xala (1975, based on his own novel), Ceddo (1977), Camp de Thiaroye (1987), and Guelwaar (1992). 

Xala, which many critics consider to be Sembene's finest film, takes a humorous look at polygamy, traditional African medicine and the contrasts between urban and rural life.  Neither mocking nor nostalgic in its treatment of traditions, it is as much driven by the personalities of its characters as by its ideas about African life.  At the same time, the characters' foibles are clearly symbols of political and social dysfunction.

The Senegalese release of Ceddo was heavily censored, ostensibly for a problem with Sembene's paperwork, but more probably for its anti-Muslim themes.  However, Sembene distributed fliers at theaters describing the censored scenes and released it uncut for the international market.  In 1971, Sembene also made a film in the Diola language and French entitled Emitai.

Recurrent themes of Sembene's films are the history of colonialism, the failings of religion, the critique of the new African bourgeoisie, and the strength of African women.

Sembene's final film, the 2004 feature Moolaade, won awards at the Cannes Film Festival and the FESPACO Film Festival in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.  The film, set in a small African village in Burkina Faso, explored the controversial subject of female genital mutilation.

Sembene was a founder, in 1969 of FESPACO, the biennial festival of film and television held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

Ousmane Sembene died on June 9, 2007, at the age of 84.  He had been ill since December 2006, and died at his home in Dakar, Senegal, where he was buried in a shroud adorned with Quranic verses.

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