Arab American woman in strong position to become Boston mayor

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Updated 09 September 2021

Arab American woman in strong position to become Boston mayor

Arab American woman in strong position to become Boston mayor
  • Since its founding in 1630, Boston has only elected white males as its chief executive officer
  • Currently, 65 percent of Boston’s population identifies as “people of color”

CHICAGO: Tunisian American politician Annissa Essaibi George is in a tight race to become a run-off finalist as the first female mayor of the US city of Boston, recent polling has shown.

Her late father, Ezzeddine, a Tunisian, met her Polish mother, Barbara, when they were studying in Paris. George said that the election season marked a critical moment for Boston not just in terms of electing its first woman mayor, but also possibly its first Arab American mayor.

Since its founding in 1630, Boston has only elected white males as its chief executive officer. That ended when Boston Mayor Marty Walsh left office in March to become labor secretary in US President Joe Biden’s administration.

Currently, 65 percent of Boston’s population identifies as “people of color,” and the four leading candidates to succeed Walsh are all women who are serving as members of the 11-member Boston City Council.

George was first elected as a citywide delegate-at-large to the council in 2015. Rival Michelle Wu, also a citywide delegate-at-large, held a slight lead over George in recent polling. The two other council members leading in the race are Kim Janey, the city council’s president who was named to fill Walsh’s vacancy, and Andrea Campbell.

In the Sept. 14 election, the top two vote-getters will continue on to the Nov. 2 general election. That election will be a critical turning point in Boston politics, as it is extremely likely that the next mayor will be a woman and possibly an Arab American.

 

George said: “Women are coming into their own power here in the city of Boston. Obviously the four of us come from the city council. It is about building bench strength and that is the bench, the city council in many ways has become the bench for the mayor’s office although mayors have come from the state legislature.

“Our former mayor, now Secretary Walsh, was a state representative prior to becoming mayor of the city. Before him, mayor (Thomas) Menino actually came from the city council. So, there is a little bit of a pipeline that we are able to cultivate.

“But women are becoming more involved in political life running for office and winning. And that has been a real shift especially over the last five years or so, or if you look a little further back 10 years you saw that tide begin to change.

“This is about women in public life. Women sort of taking the lead which is so important for women to do. But also, high-quality women candidates, that is also really important.

“You want the women in office because that is important. Representation in office. But you want the right woman in office. You want the woman that has the skillset and experiences to lead, and I believe that’s me. I think the voters of Boston, the residents of Boston, see that as well and that is why I have done so well in the polls,” she added.

George said her Tunisia-born father objected to her pursuing politics and encouraged her to become an educator and she was an educator and teacher at East Boston High School for 13 years before entering politics.

“When I was in high school here in Boston, I got engaged in student government. I became a member of my school student council. We have a citywide Boston student advisory council that does a lot of work, especially around education and student voice and all of that work,” she added.

 

“I said to my parents, and I said to my father specifically, that I am going to run for mayor of Boston. I’m 15, 16 years old at this point. My father was very direct and said an Arab girl with an Arab name will win nothing in this city. Consider a life in law. Go to business school. Do something else.

“And he was always my biggest cheerleader, my biggest supporter. He always encouraged me to strive and set high goals. But he just didn’t see a future for me in politics because of the city that he had come to. And his experience was not always an easy one being an immigrant to the city, being a foreigner, being an Arab, being a Muslim.”

The three male candidates in the race, Richard Spagnuolo, Robert Cappucci, and John Barros are all trailing far behind the four women, who also represent a wide racial diversity. George is Tunisian and Polish, Wu is Asian, and Campbell and Janey are African American.

George is recognized as the first and only Tunisian American to hold public office.

 

“The Arab population here in Boston is growing, but it is growing slowly. We see it in certain parts of our city. We don’t have a critical mass here in the city,” George said.

“So being an Arab comes up in some conversations that are more of an inquisition, an education, and an introduction to the Arab community, to the Tunisian population, and to the culture and the religion.

“We do have in Boston a very large Lebanese population and again in parts of our city they tend to be really great supporters in this race. As an Arab woman, engaging with them has been a lot of fun, sort of reconnecting in my own roots,” she added.

George’s husband Doug is part Albanian, and they have four sons.

George made her comments during an appearance on “The Ray Hanania Radio Show” which is broadcast on the US Arab Radio Network in Detroit and Washington, D.C., and is sponsored by Arab News. The interview is available in podcast format online at ArabNews.com.


Manal Rostom becomes first Egyptian woman to reach Everest summit

Manal Rostom becomes first Egyptian woman to reach Everest summit
Updated 17 May 2022

Manal Rostom becomes first Egyptian woman to reach Everest summit

Manal Rostom becomes first Egyptian woman to reach Everest summit
  • Rostom took two months to complete her journey to the top of the tallest mountain on Earth
  • In 2019, Nike chose Rostom to be the first veiled Egyptian Arab woman to serve as the face of their international women's sportswear brand

LONDON: Extreme climber, marathon-runner and mountaineer Manal Rostom has become the first Egyptian woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

Rostom reached the world's highest peak earlier this week, and in the weeks beforehand shared a social media video on her thoughts and fears ahead of the final push to the top. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Manal A Rostom (@manirostom)

 

Rostom took two months to complete her journey to the top of the tallest mountain on Earth, which stands 8,849 meters tall.

Rostom has previous taken part in marathons around the world including in New York City, Berlin, Chicago, Boston and London, as well as the Great Wall of China.

She has also previously climbed some of the world's other highest mountain summits, namely Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya and Elbrus, and made it to the Mount Himalaya base camp in 2016.

In 2019, Nike chose Rostom to be the first veiled Egyptian Arab woman to serve as the face of their international women's sportswear brand.


I need a shot of tequila for my knee pain, pope jokes

I need a shot of tequila for my knee pain, pope jokes
Updated 17 May 2022

I need a shot of tequila for my knee pain, pope jokes

I need a shot of tequila for my knee pain, pope jokes
  • The pope said: "Do you know what I need for my leg? A bit of tequila"
  • One of the seminarians posted the exchange, which took place at the general audience last Wednesday, on TikTok

VATICAN CITY: His doctors probably don’t agree but Pope Francis thinks a shot of tequila just might help his painful knee.
While his popemobile stopped in St. Peter’s Square at his last general audience, a group of Mexican seminarians shouted out to him, asking how his leg was doing.
“It’s being naughty,” the Argentine pope replied in Spanish. A flare up of pain in his knee and existing leg problems have forced the pope to use a wheelchair at times recently.
One of seminarians then thanked the seated pope for continuing to carry out his duties despite the pain, telling the 85-year-old Francis that his persistence was an example for them as future priests.
Noting that they were Mexican because of the flag they were carrying, the pope said: “Do you know what I need for my leg? A bit of tequila.”
After much laughter, one of them shouted back: “If one day we go to Santa Marta, we’ll bring you a bottle,” referring to the guest house where Francis lives in the Vatican.
One of the seminarians, Rodrigo Fernández de Castro, posted the exchange, which took place at the general audience last Wednesday, on TikTok.


Tinder Swindler’s Scandinavian victims to speak at the Arab Women Forum in Dubai

Norwegian TV star Cecilie Fjellhøy and Swedish business owner Pernilla Sjöholm were the Tinder Swindler's victims. (Supplied)
Norwegian TV star Cecilie Fjellhøy and Swedish business owner Pernilla Sjöholm were the Tinder Swindler's victims. (Supplied)
Updated 15 May 2022

Tinder Swindler’s Scandinavian victims to speak at the Arab Women Forum in Dubai

Norwegian TV star Cecilie Fjellhøy and Swedish business owner Pernilla Sjöholm were the Tinder Swindler's victims. (Supplied)

LONDON: Two women who were defrauded by Simon Leviev — notoriously known as the Tinder Swindler — are to speak at the Arab Women Forum in Dubai next week.

Norwegian TV personality Cecilie Fjellhøy and Swedish business owner Pernilla Sjöholm rose to fame after the Netflix documentary “The Tinder Swindler” told the story of how they were swindled by the Israeli conman through the popular dating app Tinder.

Leviev emotionally manipulated Fjellhøy, Sjöholm and others into giving him millions of dollars to support his lavish lifestyle and, as he claimed, to escape his “enemies.” Reports show that Leviev conned his victims out of more than $10 million.

The Arab Women Forum – a thought leadership platform for women — is taking place in Dubai on May 17 and will form part of the annual “Top CEO” awards and conference event organized on May 17 and May 18 by the Dubai-based publisher and event management company, Special Edition.

Julien Hawari, CEO of Special Edition, told Arab News he was fascinated by the strength the women showed in fighting a man with a long scamming experience.

Arab News is cooperating with the annual women-focused forum as its exclusive media partner. The event is held at a time of significant social change in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Both countries have seen major reforms in recent years, including unprecedented freedoms granted to women in Saudi Arabia and the establishment of a gender balance council in the UAE.

The editorial cooperation includes moderating, participation, and special coverage of the event which also features leading international female executives and policymakers.


Lebanese activists launch mock ‘lollar’ currency

Lebanese activists launch mock ‘lollar’ currency
Updated 13 May 2022

Lebanese activists launch mock ‘lollar’ currency

Lebanese activists launch mock ‘lollar’ currency
  • The Lebanese Transparency Association (LTA) decided to take the joke to the streets, with a stunt encouraging people to use “lollars” for the day
  • The “monetary disobedience” campaign, entitled “Currency of Corruption,” encourages people to print their own “funny money” at home

BEIRUT: Lebanese activists Friday rolled out mock banknotes featuring paintings of a gutted central bank or the Beirut port explosion to denounce high-level corruption that has helped to wreck the country.
The collapse of the Lebanese pound and frozen bank accounts have left Lebanon with a confusing currency system, with a multitude of exchange rates applying to various situations in daily life.
The dollars stuck in accounts that citizens can only withdraw in Lebanese pounds at a fraction of their original value are known locally as “lollars.”
With parliamentary elections two days away, the Lebanese Transparency Association (LTA) decided to take the joke to the streets, with a stunt encouraging people to use “lollars” for the day.
The “monetary disobedience” campaign, entitled “Currency of Corruption,” encourages people to print their own “funny money” at home and try to use it as a means of raising awareness.
“We will not adapt to this mockery anymore, we are #NotPayingThePrice,” the LTA said in a statement unveiling the campaign and its hashtag.
The mock banknotes feature paintings by acclaimed Lebanon-based artist Tom Young depicting calamities that have hit Lebanon in recent years, from the deadly August 2020 port blast to forest fires, solid waste pollution and shortages.
On one of Beirut’s main squares Friday, organizers installed a fake ATM from which passers-by could withdraw “lollars.”
LTA communications officer Hazar Assi said the campaign was aimed at reminding voters that their current plight was to blame on the country’s corrupt hereditary leaders.
“When people vote, they should make a choice based on accountability and rejecting the corruption that is affecting all of our lives,” she said.
Lebanon’s traditional sectarian parties will seek extend their stranglehold on power in parliamentary elections on Sunday but a new generation of independent candidates are hoping for a breakthrough.


Movie critics gush over Tom Cruise’s return in ‘Top Gun’ sequel

Movie critics gush over Tom Cruise’s return in ‘Top Gun’ sequel
Updated 12 May 2022

Movie critics gush over Tom Cruise’s return in ‘Top Gun’ sequel

Movie critics gush over Tom Cruise’s return in ‘Top Gun’ sequel
  • "Top Gun: Maverick" earned a 96% positive rating on the Rotten Tomatoes review aggregation website among 57 reviews as of Thursday
  • The movie debuts in theaters on May 27

LOS ANGELES: It took Tom Cruise 36 years to head back to the danger zone to bring a “Top Gun” sequel to the screen, and the first reviews from movie critics said it was well worth the wait.
“Top Gun: Maverick” earned a 96 percent positive rating on the Rotten Tomatoes review aggregation website among 57 reviews as of Thursday. The movie debuts in theaters on May 27.
Cruise returns in the film as Pete Mitchell, the cocky Navy pilot, codenamed Maverick, who has never risen through the ranks because of his penchant for bucking authority.
Mark Kennedy of the Associated Press called the movie “a textbook example of how to make a sequel.”
“The movie satisfies with one foot in the past by hitting all the touchstones of the first film,” Kennedy said, “and yet stands on its own.”
Box office analysts project the movie from Paramount Pictures will rank as one of the biggest box office hits of the summer.
The movie had been scheduled for release in June 2020, but Paramount delayed its debut multiple times during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Critics said the movie offers thrilling flight scenes, an emotional story and strong performances by supporting cast including Miles Teller, who plays the son of Goose, Maverick’s partner who died in the original 1986 film.
But most of the praise was reserved for Cruise.
“It’s a fresh-faced gloss on the original ... powered, like the original, by a star who’ll simply never stop being a star,” wrote K. Austin Collins of Rolling Stone.
Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly said the movie “belongs in almost every scene to Cruise.”
“At this point in his career, he’s not really playing characters so much as variations on a theme — the theme being, perhaps, The Last Movie Star,” she said. “And in the air up there, he stands alone.”