Burned Alive

by Souad | Biographies & Memoirs |
ISBN: 0553816306 Global Overview for this book
Registered by marko167 of Sant Pere de Ribes, Barcelona Spain on 3/23/2007
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10 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by marko167 from Sant Pere de Ribes, Barcelona Spain on Friday, March 23, 2007
WOW!!!! What a powerful book!

It is the sad, horrific and ultimately inspiring story of a young Palestinian women who fell in love and pregnant. Her family horrified at this decided that she should be killed in order to protect the honour of the family and agreed that her brother in law should carry out the deed.

The story tells of her life as a girl and young woman growing up in a small extremely traditional village, the incidents leading up to when she was set on fire and then her escape, recovery and ultimately her new life in Europe.

I cannot say I enjoyed the book, it made me angry, sad and insignificant. How this practice and these beliefs can continue into the 21st century is inconceivable to a modern European but continue they do and it is our job to try to educate other societies in the equality of all humans and that violence is wrong.

This one is definitely bound for a ring.

Journal Entry 2 by Colombine from Basel, Basel-Stadt Switzerland on Monday, April 16, 2007
Violence is wrong....and sexism is dreadful!
I enjoyed this book, not so much as my hubby (and previous poster), though. He was really touched by it. I think part of the reason is that I had read a few other books that portray this sort of deeply disturbing story; I can think of Sold, set in Yemen or Virgins of Paradise, in Egypt (this one, not so horrific because it's a work of fiction!), plus Maya Angelou or Alice Walker's work.
There's so much that could be said, too many mixed feelings that, as a woman, you get when you learn what hundreds of thousands of other women have to go through every day just because they have been unfortunate enough to be born in certain parts of the globe, or in certain cultures, but I feel this is not the place to start philosophing or ranting away, so I'll just heartly recommed this book to anyone up for a very simply and candidly written autobiography that shines a light on daily life, beliefs, rituals, etc...in an extremist society.

Journal Entry 3 by marko167 from Sant Pere de Ribes, Barcelona Spain on Monday, May 07, 2007
BOOKRING

1. Triggerfish
2. Divineselene
3. Okyrhoe
4. WanderingB
5. UnwrittenLibra
6. Menita
7. ClassicFox
8. LadyKnightNiko
9. Back to me.

Journal Entry 4 by marko167 at BookRing in Book Ring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases on Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Released 12 yrs ago (5/8/2007 UTC) at BookRing in Book Ring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases

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Off it flies to the land of whiskey, haggis and deep fried mars bars.

Journal Entry 5 by Triggerfish from Edinburgh, Scotland United Kingdom on Sunday, May 20, 2007
This book arrived on Thursday 17th, but my internet connection has been down since then . Connected to outside world again, thank gooodness!

Thanks for sending the book from Switzerland, the land of watches and chocolate(unfried) and em, well must be something else but can't think of it!

Journal Entry 6 by Triggerfish from Edinburgh, Scotland United Kingdom on Sunday, May 27, 2007
A bravely told story, offering insight into the brutality faced by ordinary Muslim women in the West Bank. Unfortunately these "honour" murders go on in European countries too, as immigrants bring their customs with them. And let's face it, women of all countries die at the hands of their men, regardless of religion etc. The difference is that these "honour " murders seem to be sanctioned by the perpetrators' communities.
A heart breaking story but very worthwhile. Thank you for sharing this marko167.
Will post on this week.

Journal Entry 7 by Triggerfish from Edinburgh, Scotland United Kingdom on Monday, May 28, 2007
posted airmail today to the land of sunshine, olives and Samos wine.

Journal Entry 8 by DivineSelene from Athens - Αθήνα, Attica Greece on Sunday, August 26, 2007
Finally i got it!! It was sent on the 28th of May and until the 4th of July (when i left the town) it hasn't arrived...! Now i'm back, and it was waiting for me! Thank you Triggerfish!

Journal Entry 9 by DivineSelene from Athens - Αθήνα, Attica Greece on Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Sent it today to Okyrhoe!

Journal Entry 10 by okyrhoe from Athens - Αθήνα, Attica Greece on Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Found this waiting for me in my p.o.box today. Thanks marko167 for including me in the ring, and DivineSelene for posting it to me!

Journal Entry 11 by okyrhoe from Athens - Αθήνα, Attica Greece on Thursday, October 04, 2007
My reactions are mixed. On the one hand I fully understand Souad's fate and the horrors of her experience. On the other hand, I feel that this book oversimplifies the circumstances of her life and her culture.

Any narrative, whether fictional, historical, or autobiographical, must attempt to explain the nature of its theme, even if that theme is cruelty and/or evil. I don't feel particularly enlightened after finishing the book.

The 'moral' code which led to Souad's physical mutilation is not foreign to me. My father has spoken of similar crimes perpetrated in his village (southern Greece) during his childhood, pre-WWII. Word got around that a female cousin was caught 'looking at' a man. The family required that the honor (of the family, not the girl's) be expunged by eliminating the girl. So a couple of men from her family killed her outside her house one day. What was her name, what was her misdeed, no one remembers anymore. She was erased from the collective conscience.

But does this prove that this custom was normal? It happened in my ancestral village, but not all of Greece behaved this way. And was it the rule, the norm, in our village? No, because other girls were 'merely' pressed into a quick marriage if a rumor about their 'improper' glances or behavior became known.

I am convinced that there are always individuals (the silent ones) in that society who clearly KNOW & FEEL that a particular belief is wrong or unjust. My own grandfather was as cruel as Souad's father, but his children at some point stood their ground against him. The cycle of violence was broken from within.

And I will go so far as to say that the perpetrators of the crime, in my ancestral village as well as in Souad's village, were/are fully aware that 'their' behavior is not a universal value. If Souad's father traveled out of his village to sell his produce, he must have seen that alternative codes of conduct existed. He KNEW his 'justice' differed from that of the rest of the country. But he also KNEW he could get away with it, because of the passive complicity of the silent ones.

Also, I disagree with Jacqueline, that when she is in the Middle East she, as an outsider, must 'respect' the local tradition, even if it is 'bizarre'. What is 'traditional' about Souad's village and family moral code? I have lived in the Middle East and know very well that what goes on in the affluent/urban areas is very different from what goes on in the destitute/rural areas. If a particular belief, or code of conduct was truly 'traditional' to a culture, it would apply throughout the region, regardless of the social, educational, or economic circumstances. From the testimony of my Middle Eastern acquaintances, Palestinian families who belonged to the educated urban class didn't enforce this 'tradition'. So I will have to say that these extreme moral codes are anomalies, rather the norm, as far as the Palestinians, other Middle Easterners (or even rural communities in Greece) are concerned.

To give another example, people say it is 'traditional' for women in Saudi Arabia not to have the right to drive. How can this prohibition be a 'tradition' or a 'cultural matter' when just across the border in other Arabia-peninsular societies (the Gulf states, Yemen, Oman) don't enforce the same restriction. Furthermore, these very same Saudi women are allowed by their families to drive, if they are outside of the country!

It is facetious to say we respect the 'cultural traditions' of a particular country or peoples when it is clearly not a 'tradition' but an oppression masquerading as tradition.

Another point: Souad's terrible ordeal is a product of a sexist/patriarchal belief system, but other social systems can be just as cruel and destructive. This can be exemplified by the extermination of individuals in Communist totalitarian regimes. Maybe it was for political reasons, rather than a code of honor, but the motivation & result is the same: Your behavior in some way disrupts the rule of order. You are sent to a gulag, or murdered outright, and any mention of you in the media & in history books is deleted forever. All in the name of the powers that be, to preserve the status quo. And again, the silent ones are complicit in your fate.

Finally, I would like to say that as with Souad's children, I feel that 'bearing witness' and 'empowerment' means going back to face your enemy, directly or indirectly, in some form or another. Souad says the most she is comfortable with is bearing witness by narrating her story for this book, rather than traveling to confront her family. It's her choice. I hope that some day her children (all three of them) eventually face their grandparents, aunts & uncles in the village for the sake & honor of their mother.

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Excerpts from Souad: Newspaper feature - Chapter
Critical book review: "Truth, History, and Honor Killing"

Journal Entry 12 by wandering-B from Tai Po, New Territories Hong Kong on Friday, October 12, 2007
Received this today. Looking forward to reading it, but have two in front of it.

Thanks for sharing!

Journal Entry 13 by wandering-B from Tai Po, New Territories Hong Kong on Friday, October 26, 2007
Contacting unwrittenlibra for an address. I am putting my thoughts in order prior to posting a reaction to this book.

Journal Entry 14 by wandering-B from Tai Po, New Territories Hong Kong on Friday, November 02, 2007
Still not sure what to write as a comment on this book. It was powerful, sad and frightening all at the same time. It is on it's way to unwrittenlibra - thanks marko167 for sharing it.

Journal Entry 15 by UnwrittenLibra from Middleton, Wisconsin USA on Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Received today in my box here in Amherst, MA...beautiful stamps and postcard, thanks Wandering-B! I have a few more rings right now but I'll try to move it along. Thanks, Wandering-B and marko167!

Journal Entry 16 by UnwrittenLibra from Middleton, Wisconsin USA on Sunday, November 11, 2007
Bumped this one up to the top of my TBR list and started and finished it backstage tonight during a performances of The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh at the Curtain Theater, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

I was completely drawn in by Souad's story - it was a perfect 10 of a book. Reminded me a lot of Anthony Flacco's Tiny Dancer, a must read for anyone looking for more insight on similar topics. Souad is an incredibly brave young woman. She made mistakes, but it didn't show that she was irresponsible - rather, she is a flawed human being, just like you and me. Even though her naivete got her in her terrible condition - think of the life she'd be living had she stayed in the village. Sometimes you have to go through rough patches to come out on top. I know - I've been there, sort of. Not to her degree though. I would love to meet Souad one day, should she choose to "come out."

Mailing off to Menita as soon as I can get to the post office.

Journal Entry 17 by UnwrittenLibra from Middleton, Wisconsin USA on Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Sent off to Menita in Philadelphia, PA today, from the post office in Northampton, MA! Go book go!!!!

Journal Entry 18 by rem_PRM-849164 on Saturday, November 24, 2007
Received this one last week and started right away,
fascinating!
Thanks for sharing it.

Journal Entry 19 by rem_PRM-849164 on Saturday, December 01, 2007
Okay, this is a very fascinating book. The story immediately catched me and I finished it very quick. It is a very compelling story, you feel bad for Souad, her whole tragic life and so on. But then, at the end of the book, something doesn't feel right and it seems the book is there to promote Surgir, an organization started by the woman who saved Souad. Since I was curious about the whole story, I did some Googling, and found the following site: http://www.antiwar.com/orig/ttaylor.php?articleid=5801. The book review of Souad given here is -of course- not very obejctive, but I must say there are some points that definitely make sense and also bothered me while reading the book. I think the main point is that Souad refers to the place where she grew up as 'the Westbank', and, if I remember correctly, she never described herself or her people as arabs or anything else, besides 'people from the Westbank' or 'people where I'm from'. I think that's very weird, that she just describes her country as Westbank, cause anyone from there will call it Palestina and himself a Palestine. I don't want to suggest that this book is written by a pro-Israel group, or anything related, but I just think it's weird.
Anywyaz, definitely worthwhile reading,but do keep in mind that this whole Soad person might not exist.....
I'll sent it out ASAP to classicfox.

Journal Entry 20 by classicfox on Friday, December 07, 2007
Arrived today and will start reading immediately. I found Menita's comments interesting and will read with tongue in cheek. Back later to give review.

12/9/07: Fascinating, powerful read. I don't even know what to say except this has been a real learning experience for me. Naturally as most people do, I knew of the violence against women in that area, but had no idea of the viciousness of it and how widespread it is. I believe her story and understand the need to remain anonymous. Her calling her home the "West Bank" and not Palestine just reinforces to me how naive she probably still is to this day. When she lived there she had no idea there was another world outside her own village. Now she cannot get too specific as she could still be hunted down. We will never know of most of the murders committed as there are few survivors. I applaud this woman for writing (speaking) this book as it must have been horrible to re-live those horrors she endured. How blessed are we that we live in a "civilized" society? This I don't often think about as I mainly feel rage at Bush and what he has done to the U.S., but I feel educated now and realize how much better off we are here. Trite, maybe, but true. On to LadyKnightNiko tomorrow.

Released 12 yrs ago (12/9/2007 UTC) at Controlled Release in Controlled Release, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases

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This has been dropped in the mailbox on its way to LadyKnightNiko.

Journal Entry 22 by LadyKnightNiko from Liberty Township, Ohio USA on Thursday, December 13, 2007
This was waiting for me when I got to my parents' house tonight. I've already started, and should have it out again in the next few days!

Journal Entry 23 by LadyKnightNiko from Liberty Township, Ohio USA on Saturday, December 15, 2007
Wow! It's been hours since I closed the covers, and yet, Souad's voice is still in my head! I certainly won't forget this one for a while.

What happened to her was terrible, and I'm saddened that things like this continue to happen in the world. So many of us take so many things for granted (myself included.)

I'm waiting on marko's address, then I will have this book on it's way home again!

Released 12 yrs ago (12/18/2007 UTC) at by mail in To the next participant, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases

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On it's way home!!!

Journal Entry 25 by marko167 from Sant Pere de Ribes, Barcelona Spain on Thursday, January 10, 2008
Arrived back home safe and sound.

Many thanks to all who took the time to read and journal their thoughts.


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