Gabriella Naseem Akhtar van Rij’s “With All My Might”

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Gabriella Naseem Akhtar van Rij’s With All My Might chronicles the many instances of racism that she has encountered throughout her life as a woman born in Pakistan and raised by adoptive Dutch parents in the Netherlands.  When she was a child, a Frenchwoman asked her why she was dirty and had not washed herself properly because of her brown skin, and as an adult, the ignorance did not improve much, even living in different times, when race relations have ostensibly improved.
At the airport in Brussels, she learns a very important lesson about pride and not being ashamed of who she is.   Security personnel told her she was in the wrong line, not bothering to look at her EU passport; she notices a foreign looking man in the EU line who stands his ground in a “dignified” manner against the racist security guards, asking to see a supervisor, showing his army credentials that he is a colonel of the French army, and defends van Rij’s rights, telling them not to give her any trouble.
When he asked her if this happened to her often, he says, “he was ashamed that people would treat others like that and told me to stand up for who I was…And I always did after that!” She describes the experience of being “attacked for something you cannot change at all,” like the color of your skin, which “you cannot even begin to try to change” as a “crippling feeling.”  From this negative experience, van Rij gained valuable insight and learned an important lesson, that “we need to stand up for who we are and defend our rights.”  She discovers that “my pride is all I had” and that “no human should make us crawl and feel inferior because of race or colour.”
Although the tensions of race relations have superficially loosened, since 9/11, race has again become a heated issue and many Muslims and people of Middle Eastern descent are treated with the same cruelty, ignorance, and prejudice with which blacks were treated before the Civil Rights Movement.  With All My Might offers readers important lessons about the value of courage, pride, and not allowing people to make others feel inferior; only in defending rights can the marginalized factions of society gain acceptance and respect and change the attitudes of the prejudiced.
Contact: Gabriella van Rij –

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites and (Illinois News Network at

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post,, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

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