Star-struck teens: A fad or a foe?

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Updated 30 January 2013
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Star-struck teens: A fad or a foe?

Singing along to Lady Gaga is one thing, but imitating her sense of fashion and way of life is quite another. After all, many celebrities, divas and superstars are terrible role models.
“I love Lady Gaga’s clothing. She is unique and nobody can do fashion like she does,” said 17-year-old student Heba Talal. “I sometimes try to imitate her in part of my clothing because I know it’s an eye catching style that no one dares to wear. No one understands my love for Lady Gaga. I see people all around me listening to her music and singing along to it, but when it comes to me impersonating her, it’s like I did something wrong! I mean, come on, this icon is getting dressed by major fashion brands like Armani and Cavalli!”
Families are getting more concerned about their children’s behavior due to offensive lyrics and video clips.
“This obsessive compulsive behavior is all because of people in the music industry who keep making these catchy, inappropriate songs just for money,” said Intesar Mohammed, a concerned mother. “Their music is nothing compared to their video clips that are filled with sex scenes and naked models — going against our Islamic religion and traditions. Yet, I cannot ask my children to not watch them because they will find a way to do so behind my back.”
According to 13-year-old student, Basma Mohammed, it is very easy nowadays to get the latest news and gossip about celebrities. All you have to do is search the Internet.
“I usually surf the Web looking for news on my favorite celebrities. I feel like it has become a new hobby of mine to know more about them and their life. I have a huge folder with all Justin Bieber’s news updates and pictures, as I admire him the most — not just his music but his looks and style too,” said Mohammed.
Even more, teen bedrooms have turned into photo albums of their favorite celebrity icons, reflecting their love for them.
“I designed my bedroom according to Hanna Montana’s bedroom in her show. I watched this show so much that I styled my room after hers and added some photos of her as an artistic touch,” said Lama Awwam, a 15-year-old student. “My mother rejected the idea at first but my insistence made her finally agree. After all, I’m just a teenager and my room is my kingdom, so I should be able to do what I want with it.”
Concerned mother Hadeel A. said this obsession with celebrities is just a phase teenagers go through. “My 13-year-old daughter is obsessed with one of the Jonas brothers, as they are both diabetic. I sympathize with this fact, but I don’t support her obsession with this figure and I don’t encourage it — I usually ignore her comments and actions. However, we all used to do the same thing when were young and our obsession faded with time, so what’s the harm?”
In fact, Hadeel’s daughter changed her last name on Facebook to Yasmin Jonas (naming herself after Nick Jonas) as she deeply wishes for a happy ending with the singer. “After I attended my first Jonas Brothers concert, I was hooked. I now own a couple of posters that are hung in my bedroom and a necklace that I will never take off,” she said. “I would agree to marry him in a heartbeat!”
Eighteen-year-old Rafeef Jadaani’s obsession went from Barney to Twilight. Ever since the age of three, she had been obsessing with one icon after another.
“I remember when I was three, I used to memorize all the songs from the Barney Show, as my parents used to play them over and over to me. Then, I started loving the Twilight TV series, especially Edward, the main character. I keep his picture in my wallet and as the background for my laptop and cell phone. Just looking at him makes me feel good and happy, so why not? I believe that years from now I’ll be laughing at myself, but for now, I’m just going to enjoy the moment,” said Jadaani.
Essam Ali, a family therapist and consultant, said the freedom that celebrities have is the reason why most teenagers follow them and want to be them.
“Those teenagers wish to have their own life, house, money and car. I believe that normal teenagers are expected to study and graduate from school and that’s pretty much it. But they want more out of life than just that. This is one main reason why they obsess over celebrities and divas even if just through Internet pages and by taking their photos,” said Ali.
“Normally parents shouldn’t disallow this phase because it’s harmless. They should also not make fun of their teenage children for feeling attached to pop idols. Many people find it appalling and annoying, but like I said, it’s just a phase that goes away with time so let them enjoy their teenage life.”

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Rare silk Qur’an helps preserve Afghanistan’s cultural heritage

Updated 23 May 2018
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Rare silk Qur’an helps preserve Afghanistan’s cultural heritage

  • Each of the Islamic holy book’s 610 pages was produced by hand in a painstaking process that took a team of 38 calligraphers and artists specializing in miniatures nearly two years to finish
  • Turquoise Mountain began work in 2006 in Kabul with the aim of preserving ancient Afghan craftsmanship, including ceramics, carpentry and calligraphy

KABUL: One of the only Qur’ans ever made from silk fabric has been completed in Afghanistan — a feat its creators hope will help preserve the country’s centuries-old tradition of calligraphy.
Each of the Islamic holy book’s 610 pages was produced by hand in a painstaking process that took a team of 38 calligraphers and artists specializing in miniatures nearly two years to finish.
Bound in goat leather and weighing 8.6 kilograms, the Qur’an was produced by Afghan artisans, many of them trained at British foundation Turquoise Mountain in Kabul.
“Our intention was to ensure that calligraphy does not die out in this country — writing is part of our culture,” Khwaja Qamaruddin Chishti, a 66-year-old master calligrapher, said in a cramped office inside Turquoise Mountain’s labyrinthine mud-brick and wood-paneled complex.
With the Qur’an considered a sacred text, calligraphy is highly venerated in Islam and Islamic art.
“When it comes to art we cannot put a price on it. God has entrusted us with this work (the Qur’an) ... and this means more to us than the financial aspect,” Chishti continued.
Using a bamboo or reed ink pen, Chishti and his fellow calligraphers spent up to two days carefully copying Qur’anic verses onto a single page — sometimes longer if they made a mistake and had to start again.
They used the Naskh script, a calligraphic style developed in early Islam to replace Kufic because it was easier to read and write.
The decoration around the script, known as illumination, was more time-consuming, each page taking more than a week to complete.
A team of artists used paint made from natural materials, including ground lapis, gold and bronze, to recreate the delicate patterns popular during the Timurid dynasty in the 15th and 16th centuries in the western city of Herat.
“All the colors we have used are from nature,” Mohammad Tamim Sahibzada, a master miniature artist who was responsible for creating the vibrant colors used in the Qur’an, said.
Sahibzada said working on silk fabric for the first time was challenging. The locally sourced material — all 305 meters (1,000 feet) of it — was treated in a solution made from the dried seeds of ispaghula, or psyllium, to stop the ink from spreading.
Turquoise Mountain began work in 2006 in Kabul with the aim of preserving ancient Afghan craftsmanship, including ceramics, carpentry and calligraphy.
It hopes the silk Qur’an will generate demand for more handmade Islamic religious texts that could create employment for its artisans and help finance the institute.
“We will show it to other Islamic countries to see if it is possible to create job opportunities for graduates to work on another Qur’an,” said Abdul Waheed Khalili, the organization’s Afghan director.
For now, it will be kept in a specially made hand-carved walnut wooden box to protect its delicate pages from the elements at Turquoise Mountain’s offices, which are in the restored Murad Khani, a historic commercial and residential area in Kabul’s oldest district.
There Turquoise Mountain has trained thousands of artisans with the support of Britain’s Prince Charles, the British Council, and USAID.
“The copying of the Qur’an onto silk is very rare,” country director Nathan Stroupe said.
He said the project has been “an amazing way to train our students at an incredibly high level in a very traditional type of work.”
“If a book collector in London... was interested in it, we would be thinking in the $100,000 to $200,000 (price) range,” he added.