Sunday, July 31, 2005
Shame! A protester getting beaten during an anti-Mubarak demonstration yesterday. Now wouldn't that tarnish the image of Egypt's government? And wouldn't our anti-terror demonstration that got canceled have improved the image of Egypt at least a little bit?
Saturday, July 30, 2005
Yesterday night, I got the news that the permit for our candelight vigil has been revoked. It was not a surprise. You can expect anything to happen if you're dealing with Egypt's tremendous bureaucracy. Since we didn't manage to get the permit, I decided not to go. I really wanted to do it the right way and not get in trouble with the police like what happened last Sunday.
I got a phone call from Sandmonkey today evening informing me that some people whom I don't know decided to go ahead and hold the vigil even without the permit. He asked me if I would like to pass by the Azhar Park just to see what those guys managed to do, if they in fact did anything.
We got in a cab and went straight to Azhar Park. When we approached the park, we were welcomed by a throng of policemen, security soldiers, and 4 huge riots police trucks. The atmosphere was tensed. We didn't stop and ordered the cab driver to take us back to where he picked us from.
Why did our permit get revoked? Why did the police send such a huge number of security soldiers to an anti-terror demonstration? I believe the answer lies in the phobia that our government has towards any sort of demonstration even if it was a protest denouncing Osama Bin Laden. They hate assemblies, period. May be the police was afraid lest our protest turn into an anti-government or an anti-Mubarak demonstration or something. They just don't want the hassle.
It is sad that terrorists are murdering innocents around the world yet we, a group of normal young Egyptians, cannot have the chance to tell the terrorists "NO"
I'll keep you posted if I got any news about those who went ahead and had the vigil today.
Anyway, since I couldn't go today, I might just hold the candle right now:
Thursday, July 28, 2005
The candlelight vigil is canceled after the security permit has been revoked due to security reasons.
Anti-Terrorism Protest and Candle Light Vigil on Friday July 29.
A candle light vigil will be held tomorrow (Friday July 29th) from 6-9 P.M at Al Azhar Park. Permission was granted. If you are in Cairo, please come wearing white and bring as many people as you can.
FYI: The Azhar Park was originaly a garbage dump. It was transformed into heaven on earth by the Aga Khan Development Network.
Here Comes the Jewish Connection
When 7/23 (Sharm bombings) happened, I was waiting for the "Jewish/Israeli connection" that follows every mass murder committed by terrorists who claim that they are carrying out God's orders. You know, kind off like the rumour that 4000 Jewish employees didn't go to work in the WTC on Sept. 11.
The first idiot to come up with his own theory was a member of our parliament. He appeared on Al Jazeera (what else!) and blamed Israel for killing 88 people in Sharm El Sheikh. "The evidence is the suicide car plates. The plates showed that the cars entered Egypt from Taba and so they came from Israel" the MP said. So, the Mossad carried out this sophisticated attack yet forgot to change the car plates! What a jerk!
Today as I was buying my weekly newspapers, I saw the second theory. Al Arabi newspaper (a popular opposition paper) had this major headline in bold typing: thousands of Israeli tourists leave Sinai hours before the bombings. Here comes the second theory.
Any third theories out there?
You like my new logo? Thanks to Nickie Goomba who designed it and helped me add it to the blog.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Monday, July 25, 2005
There will be an anti-terror protest in the coming days. I believe this one will be more organized and with more people. I'll keep you posted.
I want to thank all those who sent condolences notes via email or the comments column. I got many emails, I apologize for not responding to all of them.
(scroll down for updates)
Today was a great day for me. I feel very satisfied with myself. Today I felt that I really did something against the terrorists even if what I did was not so huge and lasted for 20 to 30 minutes.
Sandmonkey and I joined 5 other young Egyptians in a protest against terror. We stood on top of one of Cairo's busiest bridges and carried large placards with the words "No to Terrorism", "Islam Against Terrorism", "Egypt Against Terrorism" written on them in bold letters.
We stood on the pavement facing the passing cars and held those placards. I felt as if I looked like the guy who carries the "The End is Near" sign!!
Well, carrying and displaying the "No to Terrorism" sign made me feel soooo good. At last I did something. I felt as if I was poking my finger into the eyes of an ugly terrorist.
People started looking and reading what was written. A number slowed down just to read what we were displaying. Others sounded their car horns. I felt we were getting a very positive response from the people until Egypt's "do-not-disturb-the-peace-whatsoever" police destroyed our utopia and our ecstasy the same way Samson destroyed the temple.
A soldier came up and told us that his officer demands to know what we're doing. After informing him about what we're doing, he asked us to speak to his boss or get off the bridge. Yet he said something that really touched my heart. "We were all affected by what happened. We lost a lot of comrades." It is true, many policemen perished in Sharm el Sheikh. It was clear that the polite soldier was very fond of what we were doing.
Two of our team went to speak with the big guy, the officer. After failing to convince him to allow us to carry out our silent demonstration, he disclosed a top secret. "We received info that the bridge will get bombed" he said. Yea yea, nice try Mr. officer.
We then decided to get off the bridge and continue what we were doing in Zamalek, an affluent part of Cairo. Suddenly, two police vehicles came after us. It appeared that we got on the police airwaves and they were looking for us! A police officer carrying a walkie-talkie approached us and asked about what we were doing, blah blah. We told him that we were normal young Egyptians who just wanted to demonstrate their anger at what happened in Sharm.
The guy told us that he respected what we were doing and that he himself is so affected by the terrorist attack because he lost colleagues. Another officer looked at the placards and said "an exciting way by a group of excited youth." Yet we were still not allowed to protest even in Zamalek. "Someone might not like what you are doing and engage you in some violent manner" he said.
The officer talked to his superior, the very big guy, on the walkie-talkie and the orders came piercing through our ears. "Get them out of there" the very big guy said. "OK sir, I will carry out your orders" the officer responded.
I knew that we had to call it a day. The guy got an order and he had to obey it. There was no point in arguing with him. He told us that if we wanted to demonstrate then we had to get a permit from the Public Relations department of the Interior Ministry (our FBI and homeland security department).
Even if we did get this paper, it won't mean anything. Egypt is a lawless country. We can still get arrested even if we had a paper with Mubarak's signature on it. The only way we can carry out any future activity is by getting this permit and bringing a high rank police guy with us. He will be responsible to talk to the police when they show up.
Anyway, the experience was worth it. And I have to admit that the policemen were themselves very supportive. They just followed the usual rule of Egypt's police force: do not allow anything to disrupt the peace no matter how good or bad it is. I just don't understand the logic behind this rule. Why would we allow only the terrorists to be the ones who "disrupt the peace"?
Update: Check out MSNBC's story on the protest.
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Egyptian American blogger Karim is organizing an anti-terror demonstration on the 6th of October bridge. A long bridge over the Nile. I am not sure about the numbers who will attend but I will definitly be there. If 20 people showed up, then we can call the demo a success. "No to Terrorism" banners will be held.
I am not sure if any media will bother to come but I know better than not acting towards what happened in Sharm El Sheikh.
Info for those who want to come:
Place: 6th of October bridge between Zamalek and Tahrir.
Time: 5:30 pm Cairo time
- wear white t-shirt
- Park your car in Zamalek (the Le Pacha area for example) and get on the bridge by foot
- Bring your friends.
Saturday, July 23, 2005
Terror hit the nerve of Egypt's tourism. The Sharm El Sheikh resort is literally the epicenter of the tourism industry. One of Egypt's most beautiful spots. The terrorists knew where to hit. They knew where it will hurt. Up till now we know that 4 car bombs killed 43 people. The explosions were in different places across the resort.
The attacks were very well organized and very sophisticated. We truly entered world war 3.
I have been to Sharm countless times. As I was hearing the eyewitness reports, I could feel I was standing right there. The attacks are very serious and deadly to Egypt.
I just remembered the headline of an article written by Sayed El Qimni (who stopped writing after receiving threats) right after the Taba bombings last year. The headline read: This is Egypt you dogs of hell.
May God save us and have mercy on those who perished.
Update: News reports say 49 dead and 7 car bombs.
Update: The front side of a hotel was completely destroyed. Bodies were all over the place. The dead included Egyptians, Britons, French, Spaniards, Dutch, Qataris, Kuwaitis. You can almost find any nationality in Sharm.
Update: 85 people killed. I called someone I know who owns a shop in the Sharm market. He was in Cairo on his way to Sharm when his bus was ordered to return back to Cairo. He told me that he plans to shut down his shop in Sharm and return back to his hometown of Luxor. "Tourism is over in Sharm" he told me.
A friend of mine called me and told me that one of his friends was sitting in a cafe 50 meters away from one of the explosions. He told him that he saw pieces of body parts all over the place and burned bodies that looked like charcoale.
Update: Police say that 2 cars and a possible suitcase full of explosive might be behind the attacks. Most of the dead are Egyptians.
Update: I am trying to contact people so that we can carry out an anti-terrorism demonstration anywhere with any number of protesters. I am not sure if I will succeed or fail.
Update: I was in a cab today. The can driver told me that he was shocked by what the barbarians did. "What did those innocent people do to derserve such a death" he said. "These are people who just want to earn money to feed their children".
The radio in the cab was on. Egypt's foreign minister was talking about a phone call he got from Britain's Jack Straw. He went on to add that in the past Britain always issued warnings against traveling to areas that were hit by terror attacks. Now the British government adopted a new policy that do not issue such a warning. "They believe today that we cannot defeat terror by hiding but by confrontation" he said.
I am not sure if that will help Sharm. I read reports that tourists are already leaving. But this is defintly a good move by the British.
I hope that we as Egyptians would take such a confrontational stand. I hope that any protest can be organized. I hope that our "intellectuals" will abandon their "this-is-because-of-dictatorship" and "this-is-because-of-Iraq" and "this-is-the-work-of-the-mossad-no-egyptian-can-carry-out-such-an-attack" arguments and other excuses that come out of their mouth. I hope they see the only truth I am seeing which is that innocent Egyptians and others were killed on Egyptian soil. PERIOD.
Friday, July 22, 2005
Thursday, July 21, 2005
My interview on NPR will air tomorrow (Thursday July,21). The program is called Day to Day and the interviewer is Eric Weiner. I guess you can find the timing here.
I got several emails from those who listened to the advertisement today.
Thanks Eric, I really enjoyed it.
Update: You can listen to the program here
People are asking whether Iraq motivated the terrorists who attacked London on 7/7. Anti-war activists and other whenever-sh*t-happens-blame-the-west folks claim that, without a shadow of a doubt, Iraq was what drove those 4 young men to bomb the 3 subway tubes and the bus. Many, if not the majority, within Britain's "disenfranchised" Muslim community are saying the same thing: if Tony Blair hadn't join George Bush, London would have not been attacked. So, was Iraq behind 7/7? The answer is a tiny yes and a big no.
The tiny yes.
OK, the 4 guys might have killed 54 people in London because of Iraq. They were under the influence of a fiery sheikh who kept bombarding their "disenfranchised" British Muslim minds with words such as "look what the British are doing in Iraq, they are killing innocent Iraqis along with their infidel American brothers", "look at Gitmo, 500 brothers were tortured there, look what happened in Abu Ghraib, they kill innocent Iraqis everyday". The 4 guys heard such rhetoric and remembered how "disenfranchised" they were within Great Britain's 5 o'clock tea drinking society and so decided to blow up some subway tubes and buses.
Now, since we established the fact that Iraq might have been a motivation, let us look at 2 points. First, if Al-Qaeda folks really wanted to send a message to the British people that Blair's involvement in Iraq was what motivated their attack, why didn't they recruit 4 Iraqis to do it? That would have nailed the message so well. The perpetrators were 3 Pakistanis and 1 Jamaican. I am sure that finding Iraqis to carry out the attacks wouldn't have been impossible. If an Egyptian was willing to murder tourists and fellow Egyptians in Cairo, and if a hippie from San Francisco was willing to fight against his own country along with the Taliban, then I suppose finding 4 Iraqis wouldn't have been unattainable. Al Qaeda just had to search a little bit hard within Britain's Iraqi community that was overwhelmingly in favor of liberating their country from Saddam's rule. They also had to recruit a Shia, a Sunni, a Kurd, and a Christian (how they'll recruit the Christian, I have no idea) to represent the nation of Iraq in bombing London!
Second, we haven't heard anything from Al-Qaeda about the massacres of innocent Iraqis that their fellow "freedom fighters" are committing every single day. Last week, a "brother" of the 4 London terrorists drove his explosives laden vehicle into a group of children receiving candy from US soldiers. Over 20 kids were slaughtered. Were the 4 London "freedom fighters" avenging for the death of such kids, or they only avenge for the death of those who are killed as a result of an American and/or British military action?
The big No
No, Al Qaeda only uses Iraq and the Palestinian issue in recruiting weak souls. However, the absence of the above 2 factors will not prevent the terrorists from attacking. The 19 guys who committed the 911 attacks went to their Florida flight schools in June 2000, in the heights of the peace talks when Bill Clinton was working his ass off to create a Palestinian state.
I will tell you something that you ought to never forget. Write this statement on a piece of paper and stick it on your fridge: The sky is the limit with terrorists. If a terrorist in Baghdad found legitimacy in slaughtering over 20 kids who were receiving candy from US soldiers, then another terrorists will find his own "legitimacy" in attacking a target in Cairo, Riyadh, Paris, and London. Don't worry; they have a bag full of "legitimate motivations."
You want a proof for what I'm saying? Well, look at France. It is probably the most anti-US policies country in the world and the most pro-Palestinian cause European nation. A nation that Arabs and Muslims adore. Yet France has anti-terror laws that are not available in other European countries. Why? It seems the French stuck my statement on their fridges long time ago: The sky is the limit with terrorists.
Dear Disenfranchised British Muslim,
If you are feeling disenfranchised within Britain's society. If you feel like a black chick among yellow ones. If you don't like how the British culture is pulling you away from Islam. If you feel that the native Brits are weird creatures on their way to hell. If you don't see yourself "in". If you are feeling isolated. If you feel that you are more Muslim than British and more Pakistani than British. If what is binding you to Britain is your job and the taxes you pay. If you are angry with Tony Blair's policies and feel that they are personally targeting you. If all what you do in Britain is whine about how undemocratic, racist, bigot, and horrible the native brits are. Please rest assured because I have a special place for you that would make you feel much more comfortable. It is called Heathrow Airport. A very nice place really. Trust me, I've been there.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Congressman Thomas Tancredo (R-CO) said in a radio interview that if a multiple-city attack happened in the US and was found to be the work of “Islamic” terrorists, then “we should take out their holy sites.” Asked if that meant Mecca, he answered, “Yes.”
I couldn’t believe that such words would come from a US congressman, supposedly someone who is trying to build a bridge between the US and the Muslim world. His words are a spit in the faces of millions of Muslims around the world and Muslims in the US and in Colorado. Upon visiting Tancredo’s website, I found out that he is very active in helping the Sudanese people of Darfur. I am sure that those people whom he is trying to help won’t appreciate his stupid comment given the fact that most Darfurians follow the Muslim faith.
The only thing Tancredo can do is resign from his post. I don’t know how that might happen or the mechanics of it, but nothing else can at least slightly lessen the damage his irresponsible comments have done.
This morning several independent newspapers carried major headlines such as “US congressman wants to nuke Mecca”, “Nuking Mecca, the latest call of American extremism.” America should thank Tancredo for the great service he has done for the US!!
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Ruby Power makes it to Jordan
Ruby, one of Egypt's pop stars, held a concert in Jordan despite the objection of Muslim Brotherhood members in the Jordanian parliament. 5000 people attended the concert that she shared with other pop singers.
It seems these guys didn't read my post about Ruby Power. I said that if such power swept through this region, we will have less terror, less hatred, and less bigotry. Don't you agree?
Monday, July 18, 2005
Sayed al-Qimni is a prolific secular and anti-fundamentalism author. His pen strips the so-called “Islamic” fundamentalists naked. Al-Qimni’s writings always point to the deficiencies in the current interpretation of Islamic law and to the need for reform in order for us to catch up with the developed world.
Terrorists didn’t like al-Qimni. They threatened him countless times and the government had to assign bodyguards for his protection so that he won’t meet the fate of his fellow secular author Farag Fouda who was shot dead right in front of his house.
It seems that the terrorists were determined to rid the world of someone who causes them so much headache. They sent an email telling that killing him is so easy and that the protection won’t do him any good. “We have people who want to wash their sins with your blood” they told him. Al-Qimni decided that he won’t take it anymore and that he doesn’t want his children to face what Fouda’s children faced and so he announced that he will stop writing and appearing in the media. He also fulfilled another demand of the terrorists and declared that he is backtracking from everything he said and wrote.
I personally find some of al-Qimni’s writing a little bit extreme, but no one has the right to prevent him from voicing his opinions. It seems that terrorists and their “non-violent” supporters want to be the only voices heard even if they used murder for it.
Do you agree with al-Qimni’s decision? Would you have done the same thing?
Sunday, July 17, 2005
A friend of mine invited me to a meeting organized by “Youth for Change”, a youth version of the Kifaya movement. I felt that this would be an interesting opportunity to take a closer look at a newly born opposition movement.
“Youth for Change” is composed of members who adhere to a wide spectrum of political ideologies. From what I saw and heard, it appeared that the majority were leftists, Nasserites, liberals, secular democrats, communists, and Arab nationalists. There was a sprinkler of Islamists as well.
The meeting itself was very informal. Anyone got a chance to speak by simply raising his/her hands. A moderator was trying to exert some order on those who were yearning to voice their opinions and comments. The topics discussed ranged from last Thursday’s successful demonstration against unemployment to the decision of whether the group will join next Wednesday’s demonstration by the Muslim Brotherhood’s newly formed coalition.
It was so interesting to watch such a discussion between people who adhere to very different ideologies. The environment of tolerant that was prevailing throughout the meeting was amazing and very encouraging.
When discussing the latest demonstration, a number of speakers stressed upon the fact that cuss words and rough actions against the security forces should not be allowed under any circumstances. A speaker said that the soldiers whom the government sends to suppress the protesters are just poor weak Egyptians who are following orders and that the demonstrators must show them how different they (the demonstrators) are from the soldiers’ superiors. I then heard the story of a security soldier who refused to hit the protesters and ended up getting beaten by his superiors.
The meeting didn’t lack an interlude of sad drama. A fine looking young lady stood up to address the crowd. “Most of you have backs (for protection and aid). When something happens to you, you will find those who can back you up. But I don’t have such a back. I am being harassed and blackmailed and I am very scared. I have been living in fear for the past weeks” she said before breaking up in tears. I just didn’t get it. Why would the security apparatus harass such a young lady who definitely does not belong to some terrorist group or a drug dealing mafia? That’s a question for our dictatorship to answer. I also learned that a number of “Youth for Change” members lost their governmental jobs when their political activities were exposed. How sad.
The group tries very hard to convey the image that they are united with whomever will oppose the Mubarak regime. However, I sensed that some felt they were backstabbed by the Muslim Brotherhood who always took a distance from the overly secular Kifaya and its branches and preferred to act alone. The MB did send a number of their members to the Kifaya demonstrations but the bulk of their previous activities was done alone. I tend to believe that the MB formed this new coalition in order to exert its full control over it and use it in negotiations with the regime and extracting benefits from it. Kifaya would never compromise with the regime, the MB is used to such tactics. What do you expect from people who use religion in order to reach a political goal?
Anyway, my overall reaction after leaving the meeting was positive. I am sure that the momentum will not stop even after the expected Mubarak win next September. All what I am hoping for is that the regime will lift its heavy hand of such people and that the internal and external pressure will continue. We want them ready for the elections in 2011.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
The world would be a much better place if:
Muslims heed the following:
- The so-called Shariah law or Islamic law is a set of laws that were promulgated hundreds upon hundreds of years ago. We simply cannot live by a lot of these laws today. Such laws were for specific people who lived in a specific time. Without changing the basic tenets of Islam, Islamic law should be reformed so that it suits the year 2005 and not 1005.
- Killing innocents in the name of Islam is wrong. No buts, no ifs, no ummms.
- Allah does not give a dead rat's ass about a girl's hair. If you're sexually excited when you see a girl's hairs then you're the sick pervert. Hijab is not a fard (obligation). It does not add or decrease the "good points" that a girl gets when she makes it to heaven. Perceived verses about women's covering were for the women of the year 620 AD. I assure you they were living in a very, and I mean very, different environment than the women of today. To sum up, Allah is not as dumb as to care about a piece of cloth on a girl's head.
- The funny creatures called non-Muslims living in Muslim dominated countries are to have equal right. Their rights should not come from the Quran, the Bible, or the Buddha Book. They should come from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- Muslims who convert out of Islam to become whatever they want to become should not get killed. They also have the right to make their decision public even in downtown Riyadh.
- Authors have the right to express their opinions freely even if they wrote books that would make Salman Rushdie look like a pious Muslim. They should not get arrested and they should definitely not get killed. Writers are free to criticize the Christian faith in the West; the same should be with Islam's Voltaires.
- A Muslim is a Muslim in his house, among his kids, and in his mosque and NOT on the streets. A Muslim should not force his own interpretation of religion on others. The idea that Islam is a religion and a state should be dumped in one of New York's garbage dumps. In the year 2005, in the age of Bill Gates and invading Mars, there is nothing called a state that is based upon a religion. All religions in the state should be respected and all should live and let live.
- Israel is not going anywhere so live with it. Accepting that fact would make you feel better.
Christians heed the following:
- God does not give a dead rat's ass about those zillion denominations. A Christian can have communion in any church he bumps into. Any priest/pastor/bishop/etc who refuses a person because of his denomination should get kicked out of church.
- The teachings of Jesus are enough. In fact, the world would be paradise if all humans actually managed to do everything that Jesus said. So no need for the zillion so called teachings of "church founders", "saints", etc.
- The orthodox and catholic church should allow divorce. The sight of Egyptian orthodox women filling up psychiatrist clinics because they find it hard living with their husbands is not cool at all.
- There is nothing, and I mean nothing, in the Bible that says "Thou shall not use condoms". Are you reading this blog pope?
- Confessions in the catholic and orthodox churched should be abolished. A priest is just as human as you are. The idea that he has more power or authority than you is nonsense. You can enter a seminary, live for some years in a monastery, and surprise you become a priest!
- There is nothing wrong with women preaching, period. A female bishop is just as good as a male bishop. If a woman can rule a country then she can definitely work in a church.
Jews heed the following:
- Hasidic and ultra-orthodox Jews are not necessary the best Jews around. All Jews who follow the basic tenants of Judaism are as good. Wearing black hats all day and adopting harsh kosher laws won't earn you any points. God, ops I mean G-d, looks at the heart, besides, he cares more than your clothes or your dietary habits.
- Saturday is for G-d. If you're not planning to go to the synagogue or you're not planning to spend some time with G-d at home, then go to work and make yourself useful.
- Gaza and the entire West Bank belong to the Palestinians, period. All Israelis living in Gaza and the West Bank should move to Tel Aviv and Ascalon. The idea that this land belongs to the Jews is nonsense. What would you do with the millions of Palestinians there, pray 24/7 that they vanish? Those Jews who believe that all settlers must go are NOT less Jewish than the others.
- The Haram al-Sharif or the Temple Mount is a Muslim area, period. Even if you believe that it's the holiest site in Judaism, that won't really change anything. The Temple Mount belongs to the Palestinians and the Western Wall belongs to the Jews. Jerusalem should be shared. What is Muslim and Christian is Palestinian and what is Jewish is Israeli. Where did I get this from? From the Bill Clinton plan, the best solution so far.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
US soldiers were distributing candy to a group of Iraqi kids. A terrorist didn't like it so he slammed his explosives ladden car in the US soldiers and the children around them. One US soldier and 2 dozens kids were killed. Wow, how wonderful the resistence is!
Upon reading this story, I immediately logged on to Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera websites. Here is how the 2 channels covered the same story:
- Al Arabiya mentioned that kids were killed
- They mentioned the "candy story"
- Al Jazeera website did not mention that kids were killed. They just said that "24 Iraqis and one US soldier was killed".
- They did not mention the "candy story".
I have mentioned before that Al Arabiya channel started to take an anti-terrorists in Iraq stand when the great Abdul Rahman al Rashed became its general manager.
My web counter indicates that I do get a lot of visitors from the US State department and the Department of Defence. To those people I want to say this: the war on terror will never be complete unless there a change in the top managment of Al-Jazeera. The ruler of Qatar must be forced to fire Al-Jazeera's top management and replace it with a sensible one just like what the Saudi owners of Al Arabiya did. The ruler of Qatar must be forced to do so even if this means shutting down the huge US base in Doha.
Dear readers, please send this post to any official you know.
Al Jazeera's story (Arabic)
Al Arabiya's story (Arabic)
Update: Al Jazeera's Arabic website now (at last!) mentioned that 13 children were killed. However, this is mentioned only in the body of the story and not in the headline as every other news agency did. It seems that AJ reached the conclusion that they cannot hide the fact that 13 kids were killed especially after all major agencies reported that. However, AJ said that they were killed as "the bomber was targeting a US convey" (in a way of adding some legitimacy to the terrorist). And by the way, no word was mentioned on the "candy story". The kids were murdered as they were receiving candy from US soldiers.
The US should give the ruler of Qatar a choice: either you choose us or you choose Al Jazeera and your relationship with the world's most radical forces, you cannot have both your royal highness. Will the US do that? Or its hands are still tied because of the need for the US base in Doha?
Al Jazeera's "improved story" (Arabic)
I was at a newsstand buying my weekly papers when my eyes fell on Hi Magazine. The magazine targets Arab youth in the Middle East and is published by the US State department. Its aim is to cascade aspects of America's everyday life and create a link between American and Arab youth. The magazine also features a section that details the success stories of different Americans and especially Arab Americans.
I remember buying this magazine a long time ago for 5 pounds ($0.83). I looked at its price and found that it now sells for 2 pounds. It seems that it wasn't selling that well and hence this decrease in price. It's very interesting what the US is doing, publishing a magazine and launching a radio and a TV station. Now, what are we doing? Where are our PR tools? It seems that our "intellectuals" and "religious" leaders are so busy laughing their heads off at America's PR while they're doing nothing to proclaim their religion that was hijacked by a group of mass murderers.
When I went to Amsterdam after 911 and wanted to take a one day visa because of a flight delay, the policeman at the airport treated my Egyptian passport as if he was handling a bag with a severed decayed cow head inside. I felt very humiliated and angry, yet I later realized that it is us Arabs and Muslims who brought this upon ourselves.
What happened after September 11? How did the majority react? How did the Arab media and the religious establishment react? First, by denying the whole thing, saying that it was a smart attack, as if they wanted to say that Arabs or Muslims are too dumb to do it. Then by circulating and believing a rumor that 4000 Jews knew about the attacks on the WTC and they didn't go to work on Sept. 11. This rumor was so powerful here; even my smart dad was on the verge of believing it. Then we were anesthetizing ourselves by news stories about how Americans are mass converting to Islam after reading a book or two or two about the faith. Well, sorry, but no 4000 Jews stayed home and opinion polls indicate that the percentage of Americans who have a negative view of Islam is increasing yearly.
Where were the mass demonstrations against Al Qaeda? Where are the mass demonstrations against the daily killings of Iraqis by terrorists in Iraq? Where are the fatwas against Bin Laden coming from the heart of Mecca? Kamal Nawash, the founder of Free Muslims Coalition, decided to organize an antiterror rally on Capitol Hill. Only a handful of people attended. Why didn't the mainstream "Muslim organizations" in America join Nawash in his demonstration? If they didn't like Nawash for one reason or another, why didn't they organize their own protests? The last time I checked, the garden in front of the congress is open for everyone.
Many Arab/Muslims might not like to demonstrate against terror while "America is killing in Iraq"? OK, for the sake of the argument, let us equate Bush and Blair with Bin Laden. In the US and Europe, thousands upon thousands marched against the war in Iraq. They took an action, they said that they are against the war and they proved it on the streets. Why aren't Muslims in Europe marching against Bin Laden? Why aren't they marching against Zarqawi today? Why did it take a train bombing for Spain's Islamic officials to issue a fatwa against Bin Laden? Why did it take bombings in London for their British counterparts to issue religious edicts against the terrorists? Besides, issuing religious edicts from an air conditioned mosque is not enough. The Western world believe in public demonstrations, if you want them to believe that Islam is a religion of peace and get a better treatment at their airport terminals, then get out of your fantasy world and start demonstrating on the streets of London, Paris, Rome, Cairo, and Mecca.
Why there aint any demonstrations or high profile fatwas against Al-Qaeda and the other terror masters? When will the good guys take over? Believe me, I have no clue.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Monday, July 11, 2005
Sunday, July 10, 2005
Here is how the Egyptian media dealt with the killing of our ambassador in Iraq.
The government owned official media condemned the killing and called al-sharif “a martyr” and the killers “terrorists”. I find that ironic because a day before his killing the same media branded the terrorists with terms such as “militants”, “armed groups” and “resistance”. However, after the killing of a government official in Iraq, the state media cannot call the killers anything but terrorists. Will it always be the case? No. Give it a week or 2 and the killing of al-sharif will soon be forgotten and we’ll return back to the original terms. I hope it doesn’t turn out to be that way and we witness a shift against the terrorists in Iraq. I doubt that though.
The opposition media blamed the government and said that al-sharif’s blood is on “the government hands”. Well, the opposition is an opposition, they blame anything that happens on the ruling party. In addition, the opposition is stuffed by some of the most ferocious anti-America entities (radical leftists, radical Arab nationalists, and Islamists) and so those blamed the government for sending an ambassador to “occupied Iraq” without expressing an atom of condemnation for what the terrorists did. These people support the killers in Iraq even if those killers slaughtered Egyptians at the base of the pyramids. They support the killers because the killers are against America and they are with whomever is against America, period.
Will the general public turn against the terrorists in Iraq? I don’t think so. First, Iraq is currently not on the mind of the average Egyptian. The daily life struggle is chocking any attempt to sit down and contemplate on what happened to al-Sherif and come up with an opinion. Second, the media is the only tool capable of doing any change in the public sentiment. Al Jazeera will never turn against the terrorists (they might do so if it was the Qatari ambassador who got killed), the opposition media is blaming the government and not the killers, and I expect the official media will return to its original position once what happened is forgotten.
It is worth mentioning that all entities, the government, the opposition, and the religious establishment, condemned the killing but I am talking here about whether what happened to the ambassador will cause a shift in the sentiment visa vie the terrorists in Iraq.
I have to admit that I read a number of articles in both official and opposition newspapers attacking the tactics of the terrorists, but those articles are exactly like someone singing “old McDonald has a farm” right in the middle of a fully packed soccer stadium.
Anyway, I’ll end this post with what I heard from a colleague of mine this morning. He told me that he watched an interview with al-sharif’s daughter where she said something remarkable. She was living with her dad when he was Egypt’s envoy in Israel and she said: we lived among the Jews for 4 years and nobody touched us, and now when my father went to an Arab Muslim country, he got killed immediately.”
Egyptian Person has more reactions here.
Sleeping with the viper
You’re mowing your grass, suddenly you saw an ugly poisonous viper right in front of you. You run to fetch an axe in order to kill it but your wife screams at your face and orders you to stop.
“Are you crazy? You want to kill a living soul! You are barbaric” she screams.
“But its dangerous. It can kill us” you say.
“No, it is not. And what options do you have. Do you want to kill it and commit murder? Do you want to throw it out of our house so that some viper hunter will take it and abuse it. PETA will not be happy with that. You should respect the Universal PETA Rules. Now I want to teach you a lesson you barbaric human being. I am going to sleep with the kids and you’re going to sleep with the viper” your wife says.
“You heard me honey. The viper is sleeping in our bed, right beside you so that you learn how to respect animal rights”
So, you pick up the viper and place it in your bed. The viper sleeps peacefully beside you for 3 days. On the fourth day, you wake up screaming. The viper bit you.
Why am I telling you this story? What do I want to say exactly?
You don’t know?
Well, I’ll give you a hint: London is your bed.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Egyptian Women (1900-1920)
Egyptian women (1920-1940)
Egyptian women (1940-1975)
Who will break this cycle?
Elected militiants do it again.
Here is their first time.
Ayman Noor's trial was postponed till September 25, after the presidential elections. This means that Noor can still run in the elections. I believe today's decision is a results of 2 factors.
One, if the court acquitted Noor from the charges, he will gain credibility and support among the population. Second, if the courts decided that he was quilty, then the Egyptian government would face the anger of the international community especially since everyone now knows that this case is politically motivated.
So the courts decided to allow Noor to run yet leave the case hanging over his head.
I apologize for telling you before that there is considerable tension in the relation between Muslims and Christians in Egypt especially in the lower middle and lower classes. It seems that I was wrong and both communities are living in harmony and sharing a lot of stuff. How did I know? Well, Pope Shenouda, the Pope of the Coptic Orthodox church, copied what his fellow Muslim preachers are saying and said in an interview that "women are not suitable for any religious position". "Not a Patriarch, a bishop, nor a priest, religious positions are not for women" he added. He justified this by saying that there are psychological differences between a man and a women.
Wow, it's nice to share stuff between brothers.
Well, a woman can be an engineer, doctor, president, or a boxer yet she cannot be a bishop!
I know that women in ministry is a controversial issue in the West and other Christian regions too, however, the status of women improved a lot especially in the fast growing evangelical church, all because of the magic word: reform. For example, the popular American Bible teacher Joyce Meyers is very popular even in Egypt. As far as I know, her Arabic translated books are sold in almost all Christian bookstores that cater to the evangelical/protestant community or to all 3 main denominations (orthodox, catholic, and protestant).
Source: El Osboa (Arabic)
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
I was reading the transcript of Condi Rice’s speech at the American University in Cairo. The speech was bold and unprecedented, the secretary of state used the phrase “the Egyptian government should..” at least 5 times. Rice also met with a group of opposition leaders in an attempt to listen to their points of view.
Now, can Miss Rice do the same thing in other countries? Can she visit other countries in the region and meet opposition figures and deliver harsh speeches there? Can she do the same thing in Saudi and Qatar for example?
I believe the Egyptian government is currently under this US pressure for reform for two main reasons. First, Egypt is still the center of gravity of the entire Arab world no matter how weak politically and economically it may seems to be. Egypt led the way when Arab nationalism was the fashion. Arab countries started to make peace with and contact Israel only after Sadat went to Jerusalem. And currently the Arab world suffers from a thing that was born in Egypt which is political religious fundamentalism. The US and the rest of the Western world are hoping that this time Egypt will lead the Arab countries towards democracy.
The second reason why Egypt has all the eyes on it is the fact that we sell tomatoes to America and not oil nor land for military bases.
Condi Rice cannot go to Saudi Arabia and give a speech demanding the Saudi king to carry out a certain list of reforms. Apart from one or 2 statements urging reform, She still cannot meet Saudi dissidents on Saudi’s soil. The US is still held hostage to its demand for Saudi oil and that ties its hand preventing it from adding more pressure on the Saudi regime which is responsible for a lot of the mess the world is in now. Just look how the Saudi prince was greeted in Crawford (President Mubarak was asked not to visit the US this year!). President Bush was almost going to kiss the guy a la Francais, all in an attempt to convince him to pump more oil.
Look at Qatar. The tiny country hosts and finances a channel managed and influenced by people who are known to be members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Al Jazeera used to receive orders and money from Uday Saddam Hussein and that could mean that it does have ties to the current terrorists in Iraq. Qatar itself pays Al Qaeda and offers its media outlet to the terror network in return for a pledge that it won’t get attacked. Why didn’t the US put tremendous pressure on Qatar, a country that prides itself with having excellent relations with Washington? Well, the US has a huge military base not very far from Al Jazeera or from Sheikh Qaradawi’s multimillion dollar palace.
If Mubarak wants to feel comfortable and ease the pressure on his regime, then I guess he has to start praying for General Motors to invent SUVs that can work on tomato juice produced from Egyptian tomatoes, and only Egyptian tomatoes.
Sunday, July 03, 2005
Egypt's Ambassador to Iraq Kidnapped
Egypt's first ambassador to post-Saddam Iraq was kidnapped. It is clear that the terrorists want to send a message to all Arab countries telling them not to send envoys to Shia/Kurds dominated Iraq.
Now it is very clear that the insurgents are very well connected, very well financed, and they can carry out almost any operation that hits their imagination. Besides, it is very clear that they do enjoy considerable support among Iraq's Sunni population. You want to know why? Well, imagine that in 1920 blacks took over Alabama and the KKK started a terror campaign against the new rulers of the state. I am sure many whites would at least silently support what the KKK were doing even if they didn't engage in the violence themselves. Suddenly the KKK will became the "spokesperson" or the "defenders" of the whites and those who fight for their place in Alabama. This is the reason why those Sunni politicians, who just like their fellow Shia/Kurds entered Iraqi politics on a US tank, are now calling the terrorists as "resistance". They know that many fellow Sunnis (who will give them their votes) believe that the terrorists are "resistance" who are fighting the US and the Shias/Kurds who benefited the most from post-Saddam Iraq. Just go to BBC forum and read the comments coming from Iraq, Sunnis are from Mars, Shias/Kurds are from Venus.
Something tells me that the ambassador will be released unharmed just like the Egyptian diplomat who was also kidnapped a year ago. Egypt has a strong intelligence system, I bet they know a Sheikh in Cairo who knows a Sheikh in Demascus who is in contact with the Saddamists in Syria who are supporting a Sheikh in Baghdad who knows the terrorists.
The way forward cannot be different from the below 3 options:
1. Sunnification. This is what's happening now. Talking to the Sunnis and their "resistance" to bring them in. However, some might agree to lay down their arms, others might continue killing until they extract new demands, and others will never lay down arms because they believe they are currently having the upper hand and the thought of sharing Iraq is an impossibility. Sadamists might agree to talk, hardcore Islamists will fight till their death, yet removing the Sadamists from the equation will be a huge step forward.
2. Fight till they're defeated and couple that with political action. This is the route taken by Israel in the intifada. Fight fight fight, kill Sheikh Yassen, kill Rantisi, build a huge wall, yet still get out from Gaza. The political action taken by Israel is taken while Hamas and Co. are deeply hurt from the assassination of a number of their most notable leaders, even those who are in Syria. Hamas & Co. cannot feel victorious the way Hezbollah felt when Ehud Barak pulled out from Lebanon.
This option would require at least 350,000 more US boots and of course that's an impossible decision for Bush to take.
3. Civil War. Withdraw coalition forces, arm the Kurdish and Shia militia to the teeth, and sit back and watch a civil war unfolds over a 5 years time span. Let the civil war dictate the realities on the group a la what happened in Lebanon. If this option was adopted, we can kiss the Iraqi enterprise goodbye.
I go for the first option. The other 2 options are dreadful. The first option is very slow and extremely painful as we're witnessing now, yet its the only logical option. In other words, there is nothing else that could be done besides what is being done now. May be greedy Shias/Kurds should offer more concessions or more pressure added on Syria, but I don’t see anything else to be done. Withdrawing US troops is an impossibility and adding to their current levels is an impossibility as well.
Saturday, July 02, 2005
A surprising turnover happened last Thursday in Ayman Noor's forgery case. One of the witnesses, Ayman Ismail, confessed that he was coerced into saying that Ayman Noor forged "power of attorney" documents for his party. Ismail said that "members of the security apparatus threatened him that his family might be harmed if he didn't confess against Noor". The court will resume hearings next Wednesday.
This is getting very interesting. I believe Ayman Noor will be acquitted at the end.
An unbelievable thing happened to me today, it's around 3:35 am now and I just can't sleep without telling you about it.
Well, around 11:30 pm today, I took a cab to go home. I always motion for empty cabs so that the driver won't have to drop someone else before me. As soon as I stopped the cab and bent over to tell the driver where I was heading, I noticed that there was a young lady, around 20 years old, sitting at the back seat. I don't know why I didn't see her as the cab was approaching me; probably she was hiding behind the front seat. Anyway, it was too late to ask the cab driver to go away and so I hopped inside on the front seat.
The streets were empty and the driver was going so fast. I didn't know who will get off first, me or the girl. I just sat there enjoying the wind blowing over my face.
Suddenly the girl at the back leaned forward and spoke in my left ear.
"Do you want to come with me?" she said softly.
I couldn't believe what I just heard, but then I knew that she was a hooker and the driver might have been her pimp or simply her "facilitator".
"Excuse me! What did you say?" I asked.
"I said do you want to come with me?" she repeated.
"Sorry I don't know what you mean" I said while trying to act stupid.
"I mean, me and you can go together, eat something, and stay together" she said.
"Why?" I shot back (also acting stupid)
"I like you. You're handsome"
"Sorry. I am sorry. Plus I don't have any money"
"No, I will be upset now. Who told you I need money. I just want to know a handsome guy like you" she said and touched my hair.
I jerked my head forward away from her hand and shouted to the driver "what's this??"
"That's not my business. It's between you and her" he answered.
"Well, isn't this your car??"
He stayed silent.
"Listen, I know you guys are working together and I personally don't care. I wish you luck. However, I am not interested really miss" I said.
"Why, am I ugly?"
"I didn't say that, I just DON'T KNOW YOU"
"We can get introduced."
"Why sorry" she said and I then felt her 2 hands on my chest.
I jerked my body forward and grabbed the steering wheel and ordered the driver to pull over.
"You're going to turn the car over" the driver screamed.
"Pull over .............. (censored cuss word!)" I shouted.
The driver pulled over and I got out. The hooker looked out of her window and said "bye ya amar (amar means moon, we use this term to describe someone who is good looking)"!!. And they drove off.
Friday, July 01, 2005
For all those who want Egypt's Mubarak to be removed now. For all those who imitate their favorite animal the ostrich and bury their heads in the sand not wanting to know what will happen to Egypt if Mubarak was removed now and the Muslim Brotherhood got enormously powerful as a result of the weakness of the other political forces. For all those who think that an old dirty ballot box is all what democracy is about. For all those people, I give this story. Please note that Hamas is Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood.