Friday, June 30, 2006

I’ll Be Back

Apologies for the light blogging. A very dear person passed away yesterday as a result of a massive brain hemorrhage. This person is our housekeeper and my grandma's nanny. She has been serving my family for over 30 years. Her faithfulness and love towards us was unimaginable. I truly lost a family member, a second mother.

Blogging to resume very soon.

  Posted by BP at 7:37 pm Comments (6)
Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bin Laden = Che Says Aki Nawaz

Pakistani British rapper Aki Nawaz will release an album in which he equates Bin Laden with Che Guevara and glorifies suicide bombings.

The album, All is War (The Benefits of G-had), contains one track which uses the words of Bin Laden issuing "a statement of reason and explanation of impending conflict" and equates him with Che Guevara. Another forensically recreates a suicide bomber at work. The opening song is a rejection of what Nawaz sees as the hypocrisy and immorality of the west. One supposedly dream-like track predicts the demise of America at the hands of Islam.

Nawaz, a former drummer in the Southern Death Cult, said yesterday: "I have a right to push the boundaries as much as anyone else has, whether it's Ken Loach or Harold Pinter or George Galloway or Neil Young or the Sex Pistols."

My question for Mr. Nawaz: if the West has hypocrisy and immorality, why are you still living there?

Two record company executives are threatening to resign

The impending release of the album has already caused consternation. Nawaz says two silent directors of his label, Nation Records – Martin Mills and Andrew Heath of Beggars Banquet Records – have threatened to resign if he releases the album, which he intends to. Neither Mr Mills nor Mr Heath were prepared to comment yesterday.

No wonder the anti-immigrantion British National Party doubled their seats in the last local elections.

Now the one million dollar question is this: how will the Muslim community react to this? Well, judging from how they reacted towards terror both in Europe and Iraq (as opposed to their reaction to 4 months old cartoons), I'm not betting much money on them, I'm not betting a single penny really.

  Posted by BP at 8:02 am Comments (2)

This is Not Norway

Hardline Hamas leaders in Syria bless the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier, Isreal then arrests Hamas MPs and ministers after flying F-16s right above Bashar Assad's palace. Hamas indirecty tells Israel "oh no, you arrested the political wing, they were not involved in the kidnapping. It was the military wing."

What's going on? What is this mess? Well, this mess is the Middle East. As former Lebanese president Beshir Gemayel said "this is not Norway, this is the Middle East."

  Posted by BP at 7:36 am Comments (4)
Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Kidnapping and Hamas Power Struggle

Hamas leader residing in Demascus urged the group in Gaza to kidnap more Israelis. Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas' prime minister, called for the release of the captured soldier. What's going on? A Hamas power struggle.

The kidnapping earlier this week of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit has revealed the nature of the secret power struggle that has been raging among the top brass of Hamas political leadership ever since the Islamic movement won the parliamentary election last January.

Today it is evident that there are two major forces in Hamas – one headed by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and the second by Damascus-based Khaled Mashaal. Haniyeh represents the relatively moderate and pragmatic camp in Hamas, whereas Mashaal is viewed as a hardliner who is taking Hamas toward further extremism.

Read it all.

Read it all.

  Posted by BP at 12:00 pm Comments (44)
Monday, June 26, 2006

On Muslim Silence

I have blogged before about Muslim silence in the face of terrorist attacks not just in non-Muslim countries like Europe but in Muslim countries as well. This deafening silence and their unwillingness to take action towards claiming their religion back from the terrorists/radicals only enhances the negative connotations people ascribe to Muslims and Islam in general.

Remember my 10 commandments? One of the commandments asked Muslims to forget about protesting the killing of non-Muslims for the time being but instead speak out against the killings of Muslims by fellow Muslims. Iraq is a good example.

There was a much talked about article by the Associated Press that tackled the issue of Muslim silence on Europe attacks. I would like to discuss this particular article.

Europe's Muslims have remained largely silent in the face of terrorist attacks that have killed 254 people in Madrid, London and Amsterdam. Europeans want to know why.

I have the same yet a slightly different question. Why are you silent in the face of terrorist attacks that have killed other Muslims?

Seek them out in the neighborhoods where they live and work — in the outdoor markets and butcher shops that sell halal meat, in the book stores that display literature on Islam and the West, in the boutiques that promote Islamic dress codes, in the Turkish restaurants and smoky Tunisian teahouses, in their schools and youth clubs — and they denounce, the vast majority unequivocally, attacks against civilians in both Europe and the United States.

Denouncing was never ever enough.

For some of the more than five dozen Muslims interviewed for this story in Amsterdam, Paris and London, it's a sense of shame, or even guilt, that innocents have been killed in the name of Islam; they say those feelings make them seek to be "invisible."

Bullshit. If you feel ashamed then you have to do something about it. A Muslim organization in the US decided to do something about it yet guess what happened, very few showed up at their anti-terror rally. That was a huge shame.

For those lucky enough to have jobs, there is little time to protest or even write letters to newspapers.

Really?! So the millions who protested the war in Iraq are all unemployed? The thousands of demonstrate for various causes everyday are all unemployed? If you want to attend this rally, you would, if you want to write this letter to the editor, you would.

For others, there is fear of being branded anti-Islam in their communities.

That's a correct reason. Currently, radicals (both violent and non-violent) control the Islamic discourse around the world. The sane reformist Muslim voice is almost no where to be found. The hold that radicals are having over Muslims is so great to the extent that the average Muslim who wants nothing in life except praying to his god and putting food on the table thinks that true Islam is in fact what these guys are saying. The poor guy was never exposed to an alternative.

Dutch Muslim rapper Yassine SB wrote a song about his anger over Van Gogh's murder but scrapped plans to perform it out of fear of being ostracized by the Islamic community. He also turned down requests by a popular Amsterdam radio station to sing a song against terrorism.

Why would the Islamic community ostracize this Dutch Muslim rapper? Muslim communities around the world, including Europe, want to play the victim role. They want to feel they are the victims. Their land is occupied, their hair cover is being fought by the French, the crazy laws they consider as god's laws are being second guessed, and today law enforcement agents are visiting their sons more often. They want nothing to end this victim mentality. A Muslim rapping against terrorists would do just that.

"If you sing that, it's like you choose the Dutch, not Muslims," said Yassine SB — the initials stand for his surname Sahsah Bahida — who is popular among Dutch North African youths like himself for his songs against racism.

"People will say 'you are a traitor,'" said the 20-year-old musician.

Oh, you're a traitor if you sang against terrorism! See, its the victimhood that the Muslim communities want. They want Yassine to continue singing about Palestine and "the horrible life Muslims are living in Europe." And just forget about those Muslims killed in foreign and Muslim lands.

That's one reason. Another reason is the power that the radicals are having over the Muslim communities and their mosques. You cross them, they will be all over you. "You traitor, you attack the Jihadists while you're brothers are being killed in Palestine, Iraq, blah blah" You get the idea? 

Besides, Yassine said something that grabbed my attention. He said "if you sing it's like you chose Dutch, not Muslims." Ummm, I thought Muslims in Holland are supposed to be Dutch as well. Well, if you're a Muslim and you're living in Holland and you think you're more Muslim than Dutch, then what on earth you're doing there hypocrite.

Many find the very idea of being asked or expected to denounce such acts "extremely offensive and insulting," said Khurshid Drabu, a senior member of the Muslim Council of Britain.

"I'm British," said Tuhina Ahmed, 24, a British-born Muslim in London whose family came from Gujarat in India. "I could have been blown up as well." Why, she asked, should she have to make a public statement to prove her objection to terrorism?

Really?! Well you know why you should make a public statement to prove your objection to terrorism? It's because terrorists say your religion has ordered them to kill. Isn't that an enough motivation for your butt to move?

Olivier Roy, a respected French scholar of Islam, says Muslim silence is a "classical psychology of immigrants" — wanting to be "normal" and become mainstream. "For them, integration means to be recognized as citizens. They don't want to be recognized for their specificity."

excuse moi Olivier Roy. But they are silent here as well. Are they immigrants in their own land?

I'll end with the excellent words of Kuwaiti Journalist Ahmed Al-Rabei

"Isn't silence, justification, fear and hesitation in condemning terrorism, a factor in the encouragement of these individuals to appear on numerous platforms and satellite channels and claim that they represent a religion in the absence of active influential groups and institutions?" asked a blog entry by Ahmed Al-Rabei, a Kuwaiti journalist who works for London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat.

"Isn't it a tragic crime to label the millions of European Muslims as guilty because of the rhetoric of a few professional lunatics, while the rest remain silent and wallow in self-pity? We have to admit that Islam has been hijacked particularly in European countries."

If only we had more Rabaeis and Yassines.

  Posted by BP at 9:26 am Comments (3)
Sunday, June 25, 2006

Races on a plane

Sweet.

  Posted by BP at 3:51 pm Comments (1)

Sane and Crazy Saudis

Sane Saudi

Crazy Saudi

  Posted by BP at 1:47 pm Comments (27)

Syria’s MB: We will negotiate with Israel

The exiled leader of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood said that his group is willing to negotiate with Israel if it reached power in Syria.

The exiled leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria Ali Bayanouni said if his movement took power in Damascus it would be willing to hold peace talks with Israel. "If talks lead to withdrawal from occupied land and give Palestinians their rights then what's wrong with it? There is no problem," he told Reuters.

What's going on. The spiritual leader of Egypt's branch said that it's OK for tourists to drink alcoholic beverages inside their hotels. And now his Syrian colleague says his group is ready to talk to Israel if reached power.

Are the region's "moderate" political Islamists exploiting the current political upheaval to present themselves to the West as moderates? Or are they actually changing? I believe it is both. There is definitely a group within the Muslim brotherhood that calls for reform and new ideas. Their reform is not the reform we have in mind but it's still reform at the end of the day.

Bayanouni also said that he thinks the Syrian regime is on the brink of collapse.

"I think a lot of the reason the Syrian regime receives support is due to … fear of an outcome like Iraq," Bayanouni told Reuters, adding that foreign pressure could lead to the collapse of the government.

"The regime is scared. It is scared of internal things. This has increased repression," London-based Bayanouni said. "The Syrian regime lives in a state of fear and terror … It doesn't know what will come out of the Hariri report," he said. 

Syria is just like Egypt, its brutal dictatorship crushed any secular opposition leaving the Islamists as the only option. They crushed the Islamists too, but as I said before, secularists are not as lucky, they don't have mosques and they don's have "god" on their side. 

  Posted by BP at 1:28 pm Comments (36)

Letter from Ayman Noor

Ayman Noor sent a letter to the EU. It's dated May 30th.

From Ayman Nour:
30 May 2006

Tura Mazraa Prison
South Cairo

From: Ayman Nour
To: Esteemed Members of the European Union Deputy Head of the European
Parliament

I address this very short letter to you and to all the honorable and free
people in the world, to all the representatives of the free people and those
whose consciences refuse oppression, injustice, false accusations and
merciless murder.

My letter is very short due to the circumstances out of my control
restricting my freedom and depriving me of my human rights, the foremost of
which is the right to write, express and reject the injustice and suffering
I am subjected to!!

The day my freedom was taken away in January 2005, your great efforts -after
God and combined with the efforts of my supporters- played a crucial role in
my release. The first faces I saw -an honor to me- were the faces of a
delegation of European male and female parliament representatives. Your
visit to me during my imprisonment is not only reason for breaking the doors
of this prison and my temporary release, it also gave me the possibility of
exercising my right in running for the first presidential election. I was
imprisoned to prevent me from running for the election in January 2005. With
God's grace and the enthusiasm of the reformists I was able to come in
second to the president and be the only competitor to him and his son
despite the rigging and all forms of injustice, defamation and changing the
results. I also paid an extra price when my constituency's election results
were rigged thus causing me to lose my permanent seat in the parliament due
to blatant rigging. Some of you were in Cairo and witnessed a part of the
tragedy.

Today I pay a new and high price as punishment for having run for the
presidential election. I am also being prevented from continuing the
democratic reform path in Egypt so that the current regime can strengthen
its presence by claiming there is no alternative for it other than
fundamentalism and terrorism, thus forcing people inside and outside Egypt
to accept its presence.

Unfortunately, ladies and gentlemen, I do not pay this price alone. My
children, family, party, my whole generation and all the reformists in this
country pay the price, too. I lost my freedom, my work as a lawyer,
journalist and chairman of the first and only civil political party to be
established in a quarter of a century, the duration of Mubarak's rule. I am
threatened of remaining in prison for five years and prevented from
exercising my political rights for another five years to guarantee that
Egypt is inherited by Mubarak's son, as well as making me an example to
anyone who thinks of breaking the power monopoly not only in Egypt but in
the Arab world!!

I call upon you to exert every effort to defend my fair case not for my
sake, nor for the sake of my children or my party that is being destroyed,
my human rights which are violated in this prison every morning, or my life
which illness, injustice and oppression are eating away at. I ask you to
defend my fair case to keep hope alive for the coming generations which we
do not want to lose hope. It is for these generations that I call upon you
to exert every effort to defend my fair case and to visit me in prison to
witness the truth which the Egyptian regime is very good at concealing and
telling lies to prove the opposite. Free people of the world. I am dying
alone for a principle, for my country and for freedom.

Please raise my voice before my spirit departs this world.

Ayman Nour

  Posted by BP at 12:59 pm Comments (16)

Al Sharq Al Awsat Responds to Mona

Al Sharq Al Awsat's editor in chief responded to Mona Eltahawy's article in the Herald Tribune.

Tariq Alhomayed, whom I personally respect, gave a comprehensive rebuttal to Mona's article. Yet he didn't answer the most important question: why was Mona banned in the first place? He caleld Mona a liar, but that won't change the fact that an excellent columnist was banned from his paper. We want to know why.

  Posted by BP at 12:51 pm Comments (20)