Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Why the Muslim Brotherhood Fared Well?

That’s a simple question yet it has many interconnected answers. Regardless of whether there was some sort of a deal between the MB and the regime or not, there are several reasons for the surprising performance of the MB. These reasons are not mutually exclusive from one another.

1. The drastic failure of the National Democratic Party (Mubarak’s party) in meeting just the basic needs of Egyptians. The NDP failed in all sectors: health, transportation, infrastructure, education, you name it. The socioeconomic situation of the people is getting worse and it seems that the NDP, as represented by the government, simply can’t do a thing about it. They haven’t even done any effort to do a thing about it. People are angry at the government and they conveyed their anger by choosing the NDP’s nemesis: the MB

2. The NDP did nothing in rejuvenating itself and serving the people instead of the regime and its group of multimillionaire cronies. The strife between the new guard, represented by Gamal Mubarak’s ilk, and the old guard has crippled the party and prevented it from presenting a new face to the public during these elections. If the NDP wants to improve its relation with the people, it should understand that Egyptians are not slaves working in the NDP plantations. I am hoping that the MB shock will force the NDP to wake up and start serving the people.

3. The MB is very organized and very well financed (thanks to foreign donors). Their network of social services in poor areas filled the vacuum left by the state and earned them credibility and appreciation from many poor voters. This phenomena doesn’t only exist in Egypt but across the Arab world as well.

4. The MB have the luxury of not having ruled the country before. They can present themselves to the Egyptian public and the international community as the champions of human rights and democracy simply because they have never reached power in Egypt. In other words, they have not been tested.

In the 70s, Khomenie was the champion of all human rights organizations, the BBC, and leftist French philosophers. He talked about democracy, equality and human rights. I think I don’t need to tell you about what happened when he took over Iran.

5. As a result of socioeconomic pressures and the crushing of the middle class, this strata of the society started to get more and more religious. Unemployed young Egyptians who don’t see a bright future ahead of them tend to either spend their time in a café or in a mosque. Many of them get high on hash or on Karl Marx’s opium. Iran is our opposite. It’s youth who are also mired in unemployment and oppression are only addicted to opium. They can’t escape towards religion because religion is ruling them and it’s not doing a good job there. Therefore, as a result of the wave of religiosity that invaded Egypt in the past 20-30 years, the MB became the answer to many voters who think that religion is the answer to Egypt’s ills.

6. The MB are the only representatives of political Islam in Egyptian politics. As a results of the failure of the secular regime, political Islam became the most powerful force in our politics.

In addition to that, what made matters worse is that since they are now the only representatives of political Islam, they eventually became the representatives of Islam itself. The official media calls them the “religious wave� and they are the only entity calling for Islamic law. I have talked to several religious friends whom I know would hate the MB to take over Egypt yet they were so careful not to criticize or attack the MB. These people’s minds made the extremely dangerous association or link between Islam as a religion and the MB as a political organization.

7. The other legal opposition parties, who are mostly secular in nature, lacked the organizational skills and the financial resources of the NDP and the MB. These parties are like dead corpses thrown across Egypt’s political arena. They are lifeless, broke, with no popular appeal. As a result, they failed to become an alternative to the NDP and the MB.

In addition, our dictatorship was keen on suppressing those secular entities. The regime knows very well that the international community, especially the US, is yearning for a secular opposition in Egypt that can one day become an alternative to the Mubarak regime. It is so sad that a main reason for the rise of the Islamists is the government itself. For the past 50 years, the government has suppressed all forms of political discourse and activity, yet they naturally failed to close down thousands of mosques across the country. Now, as a result of suppressing the secular voice, we are left to choose between the state and the mosque.

Coming up next:
What must be done now?

  Posted by BP at 12:56 pm Comments (10)
Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Bombs target Bangladesh lawyers

DHAKA, Bangladesh (Reuters) — Eight people were killed and 65 wounded by suspected suicide bombings in two Bangladesh cities, apparently the latest in a wave of attacks by militants fighting to turn the country into a sharia-based Islamic state.

Lawyers said the militants were apparently trying to scare legal professionals before courts began trials of hundreds of detained Islamists for suspected involvement in recent blasts.

Bangladesh has been hit this year by a wave of bombings blamed on militants demanding Islamic law in the mainly Muslim democracy.

Bangladesh should end its occupation of Iraq NOW! Bangali troops, out of Iraq!

N.B. I believe those who keep on linking Iraq to world terror should pack up and live in the south pole

  Posted by BP at 5:17 pm Comments (6)

A colleague of mine just told me this story:

“I was walking with 3 of my friends in the street. A group of 4 guys passed by. One of them started to verbally harass one of the girls. A guy from the group rebuked him and asked him if he would like someone to harass his sister like that.

“No, my sister is wearing the hijab (head cover). She is a Muslim” the guy responded.

My colleague and her friends are all Muslims, they just don’t cover their hair with a scarf. Now, a girl’s morality is based upon whether she dons the cover or not. I really don’t know where this country is heading.

  Posted by BP at 1:04 pm Comments (12)
Monday, November 28, 2005

Chitchatting with a Christian

A colleague of mine was giving me a ride home. She is a Christian. We were talking about the usual stuff when our conversation turned to something very interesting. I’ll call my friend M.

M: So, how is N?
BP: N is fine..just busy with her daughter.
M: What about her husband?
BP: N got divorced 2 years ago. She’s a single mom now. I’m encouraging her to get married.
M: No she can’t marry. It’s against our faith.
BP: What do you mean? The lady is divorced, a single mom, why can’t she get married?
M: The Bible says so. A divorced woman can’t get married.
BP: Look..this girl went through hell to be granted a divorce from her abusive husband from her orthodox church. We’re close friends and she told me her story. She spent years running between courts and church officials in order to get rid of her jerk. I don’t fully understand the mechanics of granting divorces in church, but she finally got hers. Why can’t she get married again to a man she love?
M: She can’t. The Bible says whomever God joins let no man separates.
BP: Well, guess what, I am sure God didn’t join her with such an abusive husband. So the decision was hers and not God.
M: I am sure God gave her signs when she knew this man. But she didn’t heed to him and went ahead and got married.
BP: so you’re contradicting yourself. You just said that God joined her with this man, and now you’re saying that God sent her signs that this man was not a good person. I’m not getting it!

My friend got a little agitated.

M: Yes..if he was abusive, I am sure God sent her signs before their marriage. Now she can’t get married again. See, marriage is a holy union, it is not a game.
BP: Believe me, nothing was holy about their marriage.
M: I am talking about any marriage. We believe that God didn’t allow open ended divorce because that would ruin the meaning of marriage and make it a game. She should bear the responsibility of her decision.
BP: I thought God was a god of mercy. I mean he forgives mistakes right? Why can’t he forgive a mistake like this one. And what was her mistake? Not listening carefully to him. Sorry I don’t buy it.
M: Look BP, our Bible is clear.
BP: Nothing is clear. The Bible could be clear on basic stuff like prayer and the tenants of Christianity. But other stuff are subject to interpretations while taking the historical context of the text into consideration. This girl must have a way out of her misery just as a killer has a way out by repentance and stuff. If she thinks that getting married will help her and her daughter, I believe God won’t be so angry if she did so.
M: You’re thinking with your head. There are things that we will never know. God’s thoughts are not like our thoughts.
BP: That’s the lame excuse of everyone who doesn’t want to think and wants to live in the comfort zone he builds around himself. This is a huge problem and people are suffering from it. You cannot afford not to think about it. You can afford not to think about big stuff found in religion , however, personal matters such as marriage and divorce affect people’s lives and so we must think about it. That’s the same problem with Islam. Some maniacs want us to live according to how Muslims lived 1400 years ago without thinking about the consequences. That’s a classical problem. Most people don’t differentiate between unchangeable spiritual matters and worldly laws that affect our daily lives.
M: Look, I am not convinced with what you say. You don’t know what you are talking about.

I felt my friend wanted to throw me off her car. I called it a conversation and kept my mouth shut.

  Posted by BP at 3:21 pm Comments (38)
Sunday, November 27, 2005

That’s Sanity

Washington Post:

“Democrats fumed last week at Vice President Cheney’s suggestion that criticism of the administration’s war policies was itself becoming a hindrance to the war effort. But a new poll indicates most Americans are sympathetic to Cheney’s point.

Seventy percent of people surveyed said that criticism of the war by Democratic senators hurts troop morale — with 44 percent saying morale is hurt “a lot,� according to a poll taken by RT Strategies. Even self-identified Democrats agree: 55 percent believe criticism hurts morale, while 21 percent say it helps morale.

The results surely will rankle many Democrats, who argue that it is patriotic and supportive of the troops to call attention to what they believe are deep flaws in President Bush’s Iraq strategy. But the survey itself cannot be dismissed as a partisan attack. The RTs in RT Strategies are Thomas Riehle, a Democrat, and Lance Tarrance, a veteran GOP pollster.

Their poll also indicates many Americans are skeptical of Democratic complaints about the war. Just three of 10 adults accept that Democrats are leveling criticism because they believe this will help U.S. efforts in Iraq. A majority believes the motive is really to “gain a partisan political advantage.�

  Posted by BP at 10:56 pm Comments (12)

MB Countdown: 75 seats

The Muslim Brotherhood increased their share of the parliament to 76 seats after winning 28 seats during yesterday’s re-run elections of stage 2. Today is another shocking day. If you remember I placed a bet that the MB will win between 75 to 80 seats in total. I lost. It seems they are on their way to garner over 100 seats.

I cannot explain this. All what I can say is that there must have been some sort of a deal between the MB and the government. The degree of freedom that the MB enjoyed during these elections was unprecedented.

Was there indeed a deal between the MB and the regime? Or did the government just grant the MB conditional freedom so that their victory will scare those calling for democracy in Egypt, namely the US administration? If there was a deal, what were its conditions? Will the government grant concessions to the MB during the coming 5 years in return of stuff the regime wants from the MB? And how will these concessions affect my personal life? And how will the Bush administration respond to these developments unfolding in a strategic country such as Egypt?

All these questions remain unanswered for the time being.

The final stage of the elections (Stage 3) is next Thursday. The MB are expected to flare well and surpass the 100th seat for the very first time in their complicated history with Egypt’s successive regimes.


The Big Pharaoh in Al Mashareq

This blog was quoted in Al Mashareq, a news portal sponsored by the US Central Command. Their report also mentioned other Egyptian bloggers such Sandmonkey, Freedom for Egyptians, and Rosetta Stones.

Egyptian bloggers comment on ongoing parliamentary elections

Celebrity Egyptian blogger the Big Pharaoh is worried about what he sees as efforts by the government to “appease” the Muslim Brotherhood who is winning a high number of seats in the parliament.

“I will try as much as possible to give you a foretaste of what to expect the coming Egyptian parliament to be like or to the stuff they will discuss,” blogged the Big Pharaoh.
Referring to the current political development in Bahrain, he said: “The liberals there [Bahrain] are waging a campaign against their government’s appeasement of Islamists that lead to banning music concerts, and gender segregation at universities.”

“Now, as a result of the tremendous power of the Muslim Brotherhood we all witnessed in Egypt elections, it is not unlikely that the government will ‘bend’ and concede some stuff to our beloved Islamists just as the Bahraini king is doing,” wrote the Egyptian blogger .”Only God knows what? And only God can save us from that,” he concluded.”


Iraq Ranks Third Most Politically Free Arab Country!

Index ranks Middle East freedom

“The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranked 20 countries on 15 indicators of political and civil liberty.

The Index of Political Freedom lists Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Iraq and the Palestinian Territories as the most democratic parts of the region.

Libya received the lowest rating, below Syria and Saudi Arabia.

As for Iraq, its high score is a bit surprising, given the level of violence there, our correspondent says.

Iraqis no long live under a dictatorship and now have plenty of publications and political parties to choose from. But their freedom of movement is constrained by the bombings and kidnappings, and that is a big limitation.

INDEX OF POLITICAL FREEDOM

Israel: 8.20
Lebanon: 6.55
Morocco: 5.20
Iraq: 5.05
Palestine: 5.05
Kuwait: 4.90
Tunisia: 4.60
Jordan: 4.45
Qatar: 4.45
Egypt: 4.30
Sudan: 4.30
Yemen: 4.30
Algeria: 4.15
Oman: 4.00
Bahrain: 3.85
Iran: 3.85
UAE: 3.70
Saudi Arabia: 2.80
Syria: 2.80
Libya: 2.05

While Iraq definitely enjoys considerable political freedom now, I don’t think it has civil liberty yet. You can’t have civil liberties while Shia militias and radical Sunni groups are intimidating the population and theatening their personal freedoms. However, for Iraq to be ranked third among Arab nations is a very good surprise indeed.

  Posted by BP at 11:22 am Comments (2)
Thursday, November 24, 2005

Naked Mona

Mona Eltahawy, a New York-based journalist and a columnist for the pan-Arab daily Al Sharq Al Awsat, appeared on Al Hurra not many days ago to discuss Egypt’s parliamentary elections. The interviewer asked her if she considers the Muslim Brotherhood to be a “moderate Islamist group”.
Mona refuted this and told him about what happened during a recent interview she had with Mehdi Akef, the MB’s superior leader. She asked him if the MB were planning to alter the constitution if they reached power and whether that will include women issues.

Akef was firm in conveying his organization’s belief in full women rights. He gave her a proof to what he just told her. “See, you are now sitting with me even though you are naked� he said.

Naked? Yes naked. That was the word Akef used to describe Mona who does not don the head cover. Mr. Akef, the leader of all the MB branches around the world, considers an uncovered lady to be naked. Come on, we have to admit the Mb are so much fun to watch.



Chitchat

1. Bush is Good Now

My brother’s ability to comprehend politics is below zero. That’s probably why he gets influenced so easily by the anti-Americanism of our media. My brother is a staunch anti-Americanist and we often had arguments whenever we discussed US policy.

Brother is shocked these days. He tries to hide it but his disturbance is pretty obvious. The Muslim Brotherhood’s victory destroyed every comfort zone he built around himself.

We were watching Al Jazeera together and an MB guy was being interviewed.

Bro: This damned channel is the mouthpiece of the MB and Al Qaeda.
BP: Yea
Bro: Bush was going to bomb it!

So, now Bush turns out to be a good guy after all!

2. Holy Man Wins Votes

A Plumber came to fix the drain in my house.

BP: Whom did you vote for?
Plumber: I don’t have a voting card but the people I know voted for the MB candidate.
BP: Why?
Plumber: He is a man of God. Has good reputation in our area. He built us a garden where kids can play. He also opened a number of clinics.

Do you hear that secular parties??? Can you move your butts and start to at least do what the MB does? In a poor developing country like Egypt, meeting basic needs is all what elections are about. May be you don’t have “Allah” on your side, however, at least try to woo those who don’t get influenced so much by religious slogans.

  Posted by BP at 1:34 pm Comments (0)
Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I Disagree with The Sandmonkey

Egyptian Sandmonkey posted a number of pics of what he called Ninjas or the all covered up MB female supporters. He then commented on every pic he posted. I would like to disagree with some of what he said.

2 young girls

Sandmonkey says: Too young to vote, not too young to get coverd.

I say: These 2 girls reached puberty and so they have the ability to entice walking sperms on the street. And just for your info, we’re mammals and male mammals tend to sniff menstruation blood to know whenever to jump.

baby

Sandmonkey says: And all age groups (notice the tiny veiled girl held by her mom in the cnter-left of the picture? According to her parents she is old enough to entice men to sin and therefore must be coverd. Nice, huh?)

I say: Yes she is old enough to entice men to sin. Didn’t you hear of perverts before? The veil will protect the baby from perverts. In addition, what if the baby girl passed away for some reason? Do you want her to meet God with uncovered hair? Her parents want to guarantee her paradise even at such an early stage of her life.

fingers

Sandmonkey says: “You mean I have to take my glove off to dip my finger in the ink? You mean I will have to expose my hand for everyone to see? But then they will get all kinds of sinful masturbatory thoughts and urges from viewing the exposed sexy flesh on my finger. Oh God, is there no other way?”

I say: Yes. A finger is a sex object. Don’t you know of the expression “give him the finger”. Do you want this lady to expose such a dangerous member of her body. Besides, a finger is a sex tool. You refered to “masturbatory thoughts” right?

observer

Sandmonkey says: And last but not least, I leave you with an MB election observer. Doesn’t she look great?

I say: So you’re being sarcastic here Sandmonkey. I don’t like this attitude. This lady is the perfect antedote to ballots forgery. She looks scary and so the government employed election workers will think twice before pissing her off.

N.B: Above text is tongue in cheek!

  Posted by BP at 11:34 am Comments (4)
Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Report: Bush Talked of Bombing Al-Jazeera
(scroll down for updates)

A civil servant has been charged under Britain’s Official Secrets Act for allegedly leaking a government memo that a newspaper said Tuesday suggested that Prime Minister Tony Blair persuaded President Bush not to bomb the Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera.

The Daily Mirror reported that Bush spoke of targeting Al-Jazeera’s headquarters in Doha, Qatar, when he met Blair at the White House on April 16, 2004. The Bush administration has regularly accused Al-Jazeera of being nothing more than a mouthpiece for anti-American sentiments.

The Daily Mirror attributed its information to unidentified sources. One source, said to be in the government, was quoted as saying that the alleged threat was “humorous, not serious,” but the newspaper quoted another source as saying that “Bush was deadly serious, as was Blair.”

Up till now I cannot believe this report. The Daily Mirror is a British tabloid that has publish hoaxes before. However, this report is all over the Arab media now. Al Jazeerah has been talking about it as soon as the story got published in the UK. The White House and Downing Street should come out NOW to comment. This is dead serious.

It would be an utter disaster if this “transcript” turnd out to be true even if Bush was joking about it. The meeting between Bush and Blair was during the Fallujah operation and Al Jazeerah was the terrorists’ media outlet. May be Bush was joking as a way to vent off his anger at Al Jazeerah. However, this wouldn’t still decrease the magnitutde of the public relations disaster that will follow.

Lets keep our fingers crossed that this story is untrue even though that will do little to convince many here.

Update: White House official: “We are not going to dignify something so outlandish with a response.”

Update: Downing Street is saying that it won’t comment on a memo that is subject of court action. The ones who leaked this memo are now being charged for leaking a top secret document. However, it is unknown whether the Al Jazeera thing was indeed in these leaked memo.

A Pentagon official called the Daily Mirror report “absolutely absurd.”

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera is playing victim and reporting this story on all its news broadcasts.

  Posted by BP at 6:45 pm Comments (4)

Islamist gains in Egypt give Washington pause

Reuters:

“The United States inadvertently helped Egypt’s Islamists make strong electoral gains this month and is now rethinking the wisdom of pressing rapid democratic change in a major Arab country, analysts said on Tuesday.

The secular opposition parties which Washington favored have performed poorly, picking up only a handful of seats — way short of the five percent threshold they would need if they want to field a candidate in presidential elections.

“The Americans have reassessed the situation and come to the conclusion that fast and vigorous democratization in Egypt is impossible and will work in an undesirable way,” said Mohamed el-Sayed Said, a political analyst at a Cairo think-tank.”

That’s good news. I have always argued for a slow transition to democracy in Egypt. In other words, pressures to be added on the regime so it opens up a bit by bit. Aprubt democracy and sudden elections are not necessary the best way forward.

  Posted by BP at 5:23 pm Comments (8)