This blogname was derived from the novel The Secret Life Of Saeed The Pessoptimist by the Palestinian Israeli Emile Habiby: absurdism as weapon against the (ir)realities of daily life in Palestine/Israel. (The subtitle is from a book by Dutch author Renate Rubinstein. It could as well be my motto).
My real name is Martin (Maarten Jan) Hijmans. I've been covering the ME since 1977 and have been a correspondent in Cairo. I started my 'Abu Pessoptimist' blog in January 2009 out of anger during the onslaught in Gaza. The other one, The Pessoptmist, is meant to be a sister version in English. (En voor de Nederlandstaligen: ik wilde in november 2009 een tweede blog in het Engels beginnen en ontdekte te laat dat als je één account hebt, een profiel dan meteen ook voor allebei de blogs geldt. Vandaar dat het nu ineens in het Engels is... So sorry.)
'Cigarettes kill, matches as well,' is what this cartoon says. It is taken from the Algerian daily Al Watan, which wrote that the number of people who followed the example of Mohammed Bouazizi, the man from Sidi Bouzid in Tunesia who set fire to himself and ignited a revolution, now amounts to 30. It was not clear whether Al Watan only counted the numerous people in Algeria who did so, or included cases in other countries (in Egypt some 10 cases, one of which died, on Saturday one case in Saudi Arabia). The headline in Al Watan: 'Je brule, donc je suis' - I burn, so I exist.