Thursday, March 31, 2005
Positive Developments in Egyptian Media
I noticed very new developments in the newspapers that belong to the opposition. They are becoming increasingly bolder in directly criticizing the president by name. For such a long time, the office of the presidency here was like the pope or the Grand Ayatollah, a position with a lot of reverence and fear. I can see this barrier crumbling down.
Two major newspapers were allowed to circulate this month, Al Ghad and Al Destoor. Al Ghad is Al Ghad partyâ€™s official paper and Al Destoor is headed by a brilliant author who was on the terroristsâ€™ death list back in the 90s because of his anti-radicalism writings. Al Destoor is not a new paper, the government shut it down before. The fact that the government allowed it to circulate is an indication that something is happening here.
Al Ghadâ€™s latest issue had a very interesting report on what a number of President Mubarakâ€™s party members did when Ayman Noor was released. They put up banners in populated areas that shouted slogans such as: yes to Mubarak the leader, no to every coward Egyptian who is an American agent / Yes to Mubarak the leader, no to foreign financing. Of course they want to falsely proclaim that the â€œAmerican agent that gets foreign financesâ€? is Ayman Noor, an accusation that kills the future of any political activist here.
Al Ghad paper responded by saying: is that how Mubarakâ€™s party will kick off its campaign? / the minister of interior asks us to avoid cussing yet will he obligate his party members first? I loved what they said next: are we allowed to respond by the same manner?!!
I am glad that the opposition is getting a little bit bolder because as I said before I am sick and tired of having Islamists and radicals as the only vocal dissenting voices here. I think this is something that President Mubarak should encourage for the sake of the countryâ€™s future. I still strongly believe that we are not ready for changing the president but we definitely need more dissent that doesnâ€™t have a religious tag attached to it.
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Amina Wadud the zionist neocon imperialist american agent!
I am sure you all heard about Amina Wadud, the lady that lead an Islamic prayer service and caused huge controversy in the Muslim world. I spotted a number of articles in Al Ahram newspaper and couldn’t stop laughting at how they explained “Amina’s bomb”. One author describe her as a neocon agent that neoconservatives in the Bush administration use to alter Islam to serve their interests. He cited the huge attention this event received in the American media and concluded that “America is trying to change Islam”.
Fahmy Huwaidi, a known Islamist writer and a regular Al Ahram contributor, didn’t go so far. He also position Wadud in the great conspiracy to fabricate Islam to serve the interests of the west.
I have one question for these people: what if Amina Wadud was from Mosambique? Will she still be a agent to the Mosambiquian neocons?!
I admire Amina Wadud so much. If I was in America, I would have surely gone to the church that she prayed in (no mosque in the USA allowed her to hold her service). I love people who challenge the status quo and rock some boats. To all her opponents I say: she was praying to Allah and not to my new god Neudenus!!
Sunday, March 27, 2005
Muslim Brotherhood flexes Muscles
The Muslims Brotherhood organized a rally today to demand for reform and an end to the emergency laws in Egypt. The organizers said that 3000 protesters were present, the government said 1000. Security was mega intense around the area and the government arrested around 50 MBs before the protest.
I believe that was an effort by the MB to flex its muscles and show its power after all the attention that Ayman Noor got over the past 2 months. They just want to say: hey, we’re here, we’re still the major opposition, and hell we’re strong.
Now, I don’t mind the full participation of the MB in the political process. However, I don’t want to give them emancipation right now. First, they still do not believe in democracy even if they repeated the word “democracy” as much as they repeat the word “Allahu Akbar”. After all, their leader is “selected” and not “elected”. How can an organization preach and call for democracy while it doesn’t practice it within its own structure? Second, they are definitely not liberal. Their agenda on women rights, Christian rights, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom to change religion whether it is Islam or Komalizombanism (an African religion I never heard about!), etc, etc, is still very hazy.
Their full emancipation and embrace can only come when Egypt’s liberal democrats strengthen their bones in Egypt and counter the influence of the MBs. In other words, when we have many more Ayman Noor’s in Egypt’s political arena, something I do not see as possible before a minimum of 5 years provided that President Mubarak will grant total freedom to these people.
The Muslims Brotherhood are not violent, but let us not forget that they are the roots of all terrorists organizations we see today. They provide the initial ideology, the initial first step, that people need before becoming full hardcore terrorists. They are the kindergarten that graduates non-violent kids who can become terrorists adults in the future. A person who enters the MB kindergarten can graduate and still become a nonviolent MB who wants to participate in Egypt’s political life and use nonviolent means to change the country according to his beliefs. Another person who enters the MB kindergarten can graduate and later seeks higher education at Al Qaeda State University.
Saturday, March 26, 2005
My new email is: email@example.com
Poll: 63% of Najaf support multinational forces’ stay
A poll in Najaf, the most holy Shia city, found that 63% want the multinational forces to stay. Ummmm, wasn’t Najaf the city that US forces “destroyed and dirtied” while they were figthing the holy hero of the Arab MSM Muqtada Sadr???
The poll also showed that 62% want Islam to be the main source of legislature, however, only 38% want it to be the only source.
Source: Iraqi Dewan (Arabic)
Friday, March 25, 2005
Unveiling the mind
I had a very heated debate with a colleague of mine that literally raised my blood pressure! I want to share it with you.
My colleague is a very decent guy and a little bit religious. I will call him AB. Below is a brief transcript of our conversation.
AB: I am getting engaged.
GM: Mabrouk (arabic for congrats). Who is she?
AB: A friend from college. She is very good, religious, and muhajaba (wears the head cover or the veil).
GM: OK but wearing the veil is not indication of how “good” someone is. Many muhajabat are decent and good girls but other muhajabat are not, the same with those who don’t wear the veil.
AB: You are right, but as you know, the hijab is a fard (an obligation on all muslim women)
GM: Says who? How can Allah be so small as to concentrate on a piece of cloth? How can Allah send a good woman to hell just because she is not wearing the veil? He can’t be so unjust and unfair and so narrow minded.
AB: So you want Muslim girls to wear bikinis and tight jeans? Is that what you want? The hijab protects the girl from hormone driven males?
GM: nonsense. Why do you go to extremes? Why do you think I want girls to run around in miniskirts? Besides, the hijab cannot guarantee their protection. I have seen muhajaba girls get harassed on the street. Haven’t you read stories of veiled girls who got kidnapped and raped? They face the same danger as those who don’t wear it.
AB: The hijab is a fard. You cannot choose to do some of God’s orders and leave others.
GM: says who? The hijab is a new phenomenon that mushroomed in the 70s during the rise of political Islam in Egypt.
AB: That’s wrong. It is written in the Quran and Hadith (sayings of the prophet). Haven’t you read Al-Noor chapter?
GM: I did. I read the Quran and the Bible as well. Let me explain my point clearly. I said that in Egypt we have witnessed the rise of the hijab phenomenon during the revolution of political Islam that President Sadat allowed in order to counter the influence of communists in Egypt’s universities. I am sure you’ve seen some of Um Kalthoum’s (a very popular singer who died in 1975) concerts; I’ll give you $1 million if you spotted ONE lady who was wearing a veil! Go ask your grandmother whether she wore the veil when she was 20. She’ll tell you no. I asked my grandmother and she told me that nobody heard about the obligation of the hijab during her years as a young lady. I have seen pictures in her album and I haven’t seen ONE single muhajaba woman. Weren’t those ladies back in the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s Muslims?? They prayed, they gave alms, they did all the obligatory stuff but no one back then heard that the hijab is a green card to paradise or that it is a must.
AB: you are wrong. Look at the 1919 revolution, they were wearing the veil. It is written in the Quran. You cannot deny this.
GM: In 1919 it was more of a traditional dress. It was a full attire and not just a head cover. It hadn’t this religious connection back then. As for the Quran, people can interpret the Quran as they see fit. The scriptures that discuss the covering of women are open for dialogue and interpretations and re-interpretations. They are not crystal clear given the fact that we should take the historical context into consideration. Besides, some of the things written in the Quran we cannot do today. The Quran and the sayings of the prophet were written in a specific period of time for specific people who were living in a specific time frame. Our job is to use our minds and discover the basics that the Quran calls for and realize that some of the “non basic” stuff were written to suit this period. For example, over 150 years ago, a man could buy as many female slaves as he wants to sleep with them even though he was married. If you spoke to him back then, he will swiftly respond that his actions are condoned by Islam. He is right, the Holy Scriptures allow such behavior. We do not do such stuff today because it is not allowed worldwide anymore. Religion allowed it because it was normal back then. We need to use our minds and not take the scriptures so literally while closing our eyes to the historical context.
AB: You know, all the problems we face are because we do not do Allah’s commands.
GM: I don’t know why you changed the subject AB but I will answer you. I disagree with you. Back in the golden liberal age of Egypt, when this country was the hub of literature, music, movies, and poets of the region, the people might not have been as religious crazy as they are today. Yet no one can deny that Egypt back then was more successful than today. Our stock exchange was ranked among the top 10 in the whole world, look at it now! Being religious or not is not a factor in success.
The door opened and someone entered. We had to change the subject. I am glad we did that because my blood pressure was beginning to rise! Also it seems that nothing will convince my friend. That was so clear from the way he wanted to change the subject.
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
The Terrorist Media Hub Gets Tarnished by Terror
That was the headline of an article written by a progressive Arab writer in liberal website Elaph.com. The author was commenting on the bombing in Doha. I wish I can translate his article and post it here.
I wrote a post not long time ago about how the ruler of Qatar thought that he can “buy terrorists” and prevent attacks on his tiny country. He finances Al Jazeera, a channel with clear Islamist leanings and a mouthpiece for Al Qaeda, he hosts radical Sunni figures ranging from Algeria’s Salafi leaders to Chechen seperatists, and he tries to portray his country as sempathatic to those radicals. In return for having the benefit of living under the auspices of his royal highness, those figures should keep their mouth shut regarding the huge US base nearby and the ever growing relations between Qatar and Israel. Islamist leaders from around the world flocked to a conference in Doha where they issued a communique calling for the “fighting of everything that attacks Muslims and their lands”. The guys didn’t mention a single word about the US base nearby that was used to attack both Afghanistan and Iraq!
It was so interesting to see how Al Jazeerah reacted to the bombing. First, they kept using the word “suicide bombing” over and over again when refering to what happened. Previous suicide bombings in Saudi and Iraq got labels such as “bombings”, “someone bombed himself”, “attack”. The word “suicide bombing” was never used repetitively to describe attacks on Saudi and Iraqi soils. The words “suicide bombing” is more powerful than the words “someone bombed himself” due to the grave sin that suicide is in Islam.
Second, there is no tape until now! Whenever a terrorist attack occurs in Saudi, Al Jazeera airs a tape of the perpetrators who claim how their attack was directed at “the puppets of America and the infidel royal family”. This time there is no tape telling us how this attack was a result of “the infidel Qatari ruler who hosts the largest US base in the region and who’s wife invites Israeli ministers”. Even after Hariri’s death, Al jazeera had a tape for all of us to see. Where is the Doha tape Al Jazeera????
I couldn’t stop laughing when I saw Sheikh Qaradawi gather his cronies in a demonstration against the bombing. I’m wondering why we haven’t seen such protest when over 120 Shias were killed in Hilla or when the Saudi ministry of interior was bombed. What a pathetic idiot.
Emir Hamed Bin Khalifa, you cannot protect yourself from terror. You cannot write a contract with terrorists. Now, I can hear Saudi, Iraq, Kuwait, Algeria, Egypt, USA, Spain, and Indonesia telling you: JOIN THE CLUB SIR.
Sunday, March 20, 2005
Husayn, an Iraqi blogger, tell us about his feelings 2 years after the war in Iraq. His post is a masterpiece and I believe it should be published in newspapers worldwide. Reading about Husayn’s feeling is special because he lost his cousin in the Hilla terrorist bombing.
“To may outsiders, like those who protested last year, who will protest today. This was a fools errand, it brought nothing but death and destruction. I am sheltered in Iraq, but I know how the world feels, how people have come to either love or hate Bush, as though heis the emobdiement of this war. As though this war is part of Bush, they forget the over twenty million Iraqis, they forget the Middle Easterners, they forget the average person on the street, the average man with the average dream.
Ask him if it was worth it. Ask him what is different. Ask him if he would go through it again, go ahead ask him, ask me, many of you have.
Now I answer you, I answer you on behalf of myself, and my countrymen. I dont care what your news tells you, what your television and newspapers say, this is how we feel. Despite all that has happened. Despite all the hurt, the pain, blood, sweat and tears. These two years have given us hope we never had.”
Read the rest here.
Saturday, March 19, 2005
Dear Hezbollah, Just want to apologize because the pic below was not adequate. I hope this one bothers you more.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
The Story of Two Revolutions
I want to borrow from what happened in the Lebanon revolution and try to apply it to the Iranian revolution that we all wish for. The events in Lebanon can offer us a blueprint to what can happen in Iran in the near future. The vocal opposition to the Syrian occupation of Lebanon was first limited to the Christian population there. Back in the late 90s we often heard of anti-Syria protests by students of Christian universities in Lebanon and those were easily cracked down by a couple of hosepipes and a few tear gas bombs. Syria always said that only a â€œminorityâ€? wanted it out and so the occupation continued. I was in Lebanon when the Druze community joined their fellow Christians in the opposition. I remember staying glued in front of Lebanonâ€™s TV as I watched the Maronite Patriarch Sfier make an unprecedented trip the Shouf mountains, Lebanonâ€™s Druze enclave. He asked his fellow Druze to join him in burying the past (Christians and Druze savagely fought each other during the civil war) and work towards the good of Lebanon. Later, Walid Jumblatt, the Druze leader, joined the opposition Rafik Hariri, a Sunni, made his opposition so vocal when Syria went through with its plans to change Lebanonâ€™s constitution and allow its puppet President Lahood to stay for another term. Hariri used his excellent international relations especially with Franceâ€™s Chirac to push for UN resolution 1559. He didnâ€™t know that he was pushing for his death certificate. His assassination was the finger that pulled the already pressured trigger. Haririâ€™s appeal across Lebanonâ€™s sects and his importance as a Sunni leader made the majority go crazy when he was assassinated. From this scenario we can deduce that the revolution blossomed after 2 stages: A vocal opposition that grew bigger and a single incident that triggered the revolution. In Iran, the vocal opposition is mainly composed of the young university students. They hold demonstrations every now and then and the devilish theocracy there know that these demonstrations will grow bigger and one day break its backbone. This is why they crack on them so severely. As for the trigger, I am not sure what will unleash a massive revolution in Iran but it hope it will be like Lebanon, something that will force the majority of Iranians to the streets until they pull the regime down.
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Joke of the Day – Episode 2
Remember when I wrote about Al Ahram’s (Egypt’s leading newspaper) reaction towards the Iraqi elections result. Well, Al Ahram did it again but this time they tried to hide or downplay the revolution in Lebanon yesterday.
The news of what happened in Lebanon was thrown to the bottom of the front page and and the headline was small enough so that it won’t get noticed by million of Egyptians who don’t watch the news and tend to read only the major headline every morning before turning to the sports section. As for the major headline, it read: The European Union confirms that the security of the Middle East is of its interests! Umm, this meanigless headline gets all the spot light while Lebanon’s revolution gets an insignificant column at the bottom.
Guess where I found the details? PAGE 8