Let’s talk about sex, baby: a look at what goes on in Arab bedrooms

In a fun style and with a lot of intimacy about love and lust from Cairo to Casablanca, the Berlin journalist Mohamed Amjahed talks to us in his book written in German. Reporter Melanie Christina Moore read it for Qantara.

Muhammad Amjahid is mentioned on the page Before the last of his book there is a famous Arabic proverb that says that there is no shame in religion, as if he intended to redeem himself from what preceded the two hundred and eighteen pages of the book, in which he did it. not a single thing or an incoming left, and he did not hesitate to mention the smallest details. In the introduction to the book, Amjahid informs his readers that the experiences of people, whether he met them, grew up with them, or even spent a few months or hours with them, all these experiences happened exactly as he it in his book.

Some of these stories are surprising and disappointing, Others are humorous and influential, but they primarily belong to reality, a reality that transcends the boundaries of religious and societal norms that limit members of society and face dangers that require them to be creative. In his book, Amjahid tells us about dangerous abortions, mass stalking of gay men, exhausting sexual relationships, dating sites and life in barbershops. In one of those salons he spent a considerable part of his youth. It is all these experiences that are mentioned that make that personal character of this work in its frank and refreshing style.

The cool ancestor “Cool”

Amjahid is presented in the book titled chapter “The cute, cool Salafi” asked a question: Is this honesty a reason for pride or a source of concern? While he tells us about his companion, Muhammad, who on the one hand fully practices the teachings of Islam, but on the other spends intimate times with his friend, the gay dentist.

Moreover, Muhammad is married Of a religious woman who dedicates her life to entering Heaven and sees her bond with her husband as an opportunity to “save him from the customs of Lot’s people mentioned in the Koran.” At first glance, this story may seem like it was taken from a movie script, and that’s because every time we see ourselves facing the same stories and the same fates in life, or maybe that’s how we want it to be.

To return to the question posed by Amjahid, This openness is certainly a good thing, because of its positive effect of correcting the view of things and of putting aside clichés and removing stereotypes from the mind. The transparency of that Salafi friend is beyond the limits of our assumptions, and beyond the accepted facts to which we are accustomed. Whenever we hear about such experiences or experience such facts, our view of things changes and our ability to absorb different facts becomes part of the norm.

Haram TV Haram TV – Proponents of satellite channels and pornographic films

In Germany, a TV channel called “The Bible Channel” broadcasts religious sermons and sermons around the clock. This is the closest analogy to the television channels that invaded the screens of Arab homes and specialized in broadcasting the programs of satellite channels in the late nineties of the last century. Amjahid’s father was a loyal follower of Iqraa, one of the most popular Arabic religious channels at the time, although this did not prevent him from watching Haram TV channels.

Haram TV. It is not a name for a specific TV channel. Rather, it is a description of the moments of blind eye when hot, sexy shots are shown in American movies and series, when women and men exchange hot kisses that can develop into morally wicked consequences. In such cases, Amjahed’s father makes sure that the remote control is always within his reach, so that at the crucial moment, i.e. when the shot gets really hot, he can intervene and change the channel in a flash.

The further the reader scrolls forward The book reveals to him that we all consume sex in different ways, based on where we were born or the country we grew up in, and that we respond to our desires in various ways, albeit sometimes with limits. This is according to the social milieu in which we grew up and the living conditions in which we lived. But at the end of the day, sexual desire lives in all of us. When the mobile phone network in Cairo crashes in the middle of the night due to the high demand for access to pornographic websites, the reason is not that the demand of Cairo residents for pornographic websites is higher than the demand of Berlin residents, for example , but rather it is most likely only due to the weakness of the network.

Lack of privacy

“One of the most difficult problems faced by young people in North African countries who want to have uncomplicated sex is the lack of privacy,” Amjahid assures us. Whoever is unable to provide a private home due to financial circumstances must live with members of his (extended) family, which consists of several generations living under one roof, which may even apply to members of the middle class .

This means that young people must be innovative to create a space for themselves. Like making excuses not to go to so-and-so’s wedding with the rest of the family, or exaggerating about the final exam they have to prepare for over many nights and days.

These safe spaces in North African countries are not only essential for making love, but are often a place for safe social contact. Women, especially those married to authoritarian men, benefit from frequent encounters with their female neighbors. They meet under the pretense of attending Koran memorization sessions, and often take the opportunity to talk freely with each other, away from others, and the topic of sex is certainly not absent from these conversations.

The style of the book “Let’s talk about sex, baby!” Direct narration style full of countless English terms. Even if it is too much “too much” for the reader, it is certain that shedding light on broader horizons such as the one the book offers lessens the impact of its shortcomings. Even though Amjahid uses a simple style in his book, he still expects the German reader to have prior knowledge of many things.

It would have been desirable in many places to clarify some of the terms used and classifications, for example when talking about “Salafis” or about “Salafist Mall”. The use of politically charged terms associated with established concepts can lead to unintentional misunderstandings.

Examples of this include the terms “Salafi” and “Salafists”, which are used in Germany, especially in a security context, by the intelligence services. On the other hand, Amjahid tells us in his book about the private life of some Salafis, which is full of strong contradictions. He should have provided some clarification on the use of the term “Salafist” in this context to clear up the German reader’s confusion.

At the end of the book, Amjahid confirms that, of course, he does not claim perfection in what he writes. After all, we love and yearn for each according to his own desire, whether we are in North Africa, the Levant or Europe. Let’s talk about sex, baby! It is a work unique in its original style, which makes it worthy of a place on the shelf of every reader’s library.

Melanie Christina Moore

Translated by: Suhaib Fathi Zammal

Copyright: Qantara 2023 website

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