The Big Pharaoh: 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005
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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I Have Hair, So Do You!

I have a female friend whom you have to think twice before telling her something that doesn't make sense. She always lashes back with the most powerful arguments you'll get.

Anyway, this friend was once in a cab. She took her pocket size Quran out of her bag and started reading in it. The cab driver saw her in the rear view mirror.

Driver: Since you're religious and you read the Quran, why aren't you wearing the hijab (head cover).
Friend: Why would I wear it?
Driver: So that you protect your hair and yourself from the "eyes of men."
Friend: And why aren't you wearing a hijab?
Driver: How come, I'm a man.
Friend: Yea but you have very attractive hair. Do you think I cannot get attracted to your silky hair? Don't I have feelings as well?
Driver: (speechless)

Hats up for my friend.

Will the Germans Do It?



Angela Merkel might be on her way to become Germany's first female chancellor if she won the elections scheduled for September 18th. Her party is currently leading in the polls but she still needs a good winning margin in order to avoide forming a coalition with Schroeder's party.

Angela, a good friend of the US, will restore US-German relations as well stregthen Europe's knees when dealing with Iran.

Schroeder tried to use the "Iran card" to help his numbers just as he played the "Iraq card" in the previous election, but he failed. The mess he created in Germany is so big.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

My heart goes out to Cindy Shehaan. Look at her weeping there with Al Sharpton. What a touching holy moment.

Ops...what's that




WHAT'S THAT???






Are all those grieving with the grieving mom?????

















Welcome to the Sheehan Show


Monday, August 29, 2005

"Shut this son of a faggot up"



From Egyptian Person:

"While in the city of Port Said, Noaman Gomaa, the candidate for Al-Wafd Party, was fed up by the shouts and slogans of his supporters that did not allow him to start his speech. He tried staring at those leading the shouting so that they would understand and stop, or even asking them to stop and give him a chance to speak, but that didn't work.There was one guy who kept shouting in support of Gomaa and interrupting him, when finally, Gomaa walked away from the table microphones (forgetting he had a small microphone attached to him) and asked one of his aids "Is there no one who is capable of shutting up that boy, that son of a faggot??" which was heard by the audience and on TV channels. In his following speech in Rod Al-Farag, the people still wouldn’t stop shouting, but this time he remembered the microphone and started the speech without waiting for them to stop."

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Big Pharaoh in Al Ahram Weekly

This blog was mentioned in Al Ahram Weekly, an English language weekly paper. The story also mentioned bloggers Sandmonkey and Baheyya.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Please Tony Let Me Stay, Pleeeeeeeeeease!!

Radical cleric Abu Baser Al Tartosi issued a fatwa declaring that suicide bombings are now forbidden. That's good news right? Well, yea it is, but look closely here. Tartosi actually lives in London! That raises 2 points.

First, it's very probable that Tartosi issued such a fatwa so that Tony will let his sorry ass stay in Great Britain. I just can't believe how those jerks play with religion. Now, with the threat of getting kicked out, Tartosi just backs off from everything he preached before 7/7.

Second, what the hell was he doing in London anyway?

Source: Al Arabiya (Arabic)



I'm Leaving Londistan

Radical Saudi dessident El Massa'ry shut down his London based website and announced that he might be leaving the UK. His move came after the British government passed laws banning the publishing of terror materials.

We have an Arabic proverb that says "a harmful thing might be beneficial", that suits 7/7 so well.

I'm wondering where El Massa'ry will go. He can go to Qatar, the "London" of the Middle East. Qatar, Saudi Arabia's enemy and competitor, loves to host such people in an attempt to protect itself from them.

London thought the same thing.

Source: Al Arabiya (Arabic)

OMG It Happened!!

Egypt national TV aired criticisms of Mubarak's regime and the government. I am stunned. This is the first time that such a thing happens ever since Egyptians knew what a TV is!

I admit I don't watch our national TV at all and opt for satellite channels. I guess I should pay more attention to them.

I hope these changes are not just a decor for the elections.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

UK government wants to deport extremists. Extremists say "in your dreams, we're going nowhere."

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Al Hurra and Radio Sawa Rates Go Up
(scroll down for new post)

A recent AC Nielsen research found that exposure to US based Al Hurra channel and Radio Sawa increased by 10% from last year. Viewers' trust in Al Hurra rose in 3 Arab countries including Egypt where it increased from 70% to 92%. These are amazing numbers especially since Al Hurra received tremendous negative media coverage and skepticism upon its inauguration.

If these numbers are indeed accurate, I believe the increase in trust was a direct result of Al Hurra's correspondent in Egypt Tarek El Shami. His reports cover Egypt's political news very well. In addition, it is very clear that Tarek, as an Egyptian citizen, is sympathetic to the opposition. He once wrote an article in one of the major opposition weekly papers where he attacked the government and the entire regime after the police confiscated a tape that showed security thugs beating up protesters in downtown Cairo.

Even though Al Hurra might be the third most watched news channel (I am not sure though), it is still far behind its 2 main competitors in reporting breaking news and professionalism. The channel sometimes repeats its programs more than twice and it just lacks the sophistication of Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. I am not sure why especially since it enjoys a good budget paid by American tax payers.

I believe Al Hurra managed to break the "trust" barrier a little, but it still has a long way to go to reach the standard of Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya.

Source: Radio Sawa (Arabic)


Big Pharaoh on Christian Science Monitor

Check out this CS Monitor story on Egyptian blogs. This blog is listed there.

Pros and Cons

It was very interesting to read the comments on my last post in which I discussed the possibility that the CIA can help Kurdish and Arab rebels in Iran. It was clear that most readers were critical and apprehensive towards my idea. It seems that my post brought flashbacks of previous cold war tactics.

I admit that I was not feeling very good towards my idea as well. It is sad that I even thought about it. When the coalition went into Afghanistan and Iraq, we all thought that Iran would be sandwiched emboldening the Iranian people to kick off their long awaited second revolution. Now, it appears as if Iran is one of the biggest gainers of the war in Iraq. Don’t get me wrong. The Mollahs are indeed sandwiched and not feeling comfortable from the US presence on both their western and eastern borders, but it seems their mere discomfort will not develop into deep worrying as long as the US is boggled down in Iraq. This is the reason why they are supporting both the Shia government in Baghdad and the terrorists.

Messing up in the Kurdish and Arab territories of Iran might disrupt Iran’s plans in Iraq, but such an option does not lack drawbacks. Here are the pros and cons.

Pros:

-Disrupting Iran’s politics in Iraq and keeping it occupied. This might lessen its grip over Iraq’s south.
-Giving the US and the coalition a card to play: you end up helping the terrorists and messing up in the south, we stop our support to the Kurds and Arabs.
-If given the right weapons, the Arabs might blow up Iran’s oil fields thus cutting the “oxygen” off the regime.
-A Kurdish and Arab revolt might embolden the Persians to turn against their rulers. The regime might crumble afterwards.

Cons:

-Kurdish and Arab rebels might engage in terrorism against Iranian civilians.
-Iranian army succeeds in crushing both rebel groups and take revenge by increasing the heat on the US in Iraq. This won’t be good at all.
-If US withdrew its rebels support for whatever reason, the Iranian army will literally eat the Kurds and the Arabs alive. Does the Southern Vietnamese army ring a bell?
-If Arabs blew up the oil wells in their area, expect to pay $80 per barrel.
-US loses the support of the ONLY most pro-US people in the Middle East.

I just wish my idea gets implemented with less damage as possible. Well, don’t we all wish that for all our ideas?!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Why Not Play it Dirty?

Time magazine just informed us that Iran is supplying the terrorists in Iraq with sophisticated roadside bombs that have already killed American and British troops. In addition, the theocracy has managed to exert tremendous influence in south Iraq via the Iraqi Shia parties that were stationed in Iran and by infiltrating thousands of religious charities and networks in Iraq. In fact, one of Iraq’s most powerful militias that are keeping the peace in the South, the Badr Brigades, were formed in Iran and are being financed by it to this very hour. Given the hands off approach of the British, Iran has managed to form a satellite state right in the oil rich South.

It might be confusing as to why Iran would support the terrorists and at the same time ensure that there is a friendly regime in Baghdad. I guess Iran does want to maintain control over the powerful Shia parties yet at the same time it wants the US to bleed slowly in Iraq and keep it occupied there.

It is very obvious that the US and Britain do not have a card to play visa vie Iran. The nuclear issue doesn’t look as if it is having an effect on Iran’s behavior. In addition, a revolution that will eliminate the regime there is not likely to happen in the near future. The Iranian people, especially the youth, are living in tremendous political apathy and anther mass revolution is currently not on their minds. This might change however if the rule of the new president eradicated the few freedoms that they enjoyed under Khatami and the economic situation stayed as it is today. But right now, a change in Iran’s behavior or a regime change in Tehran are very unlikely to happen.

Well, I came up with a card that the US can play. It is not a very clean card, but my sinful man tells me that sometimes such dirty cards do work. My idea goes on like this: if you are messing in Iraq’s south and helping the terrorists, we’ll mess up with your Arab and Kurdish territories.

The persecuted Arabs and Kurds of Iran hate the Mollahs’ guts. And the Mollahs freak out whenever there is unrest in the oil rich Arab areas or in the Kurdish towns. They brutally suppressed the protests that were carried out by these 2 people not long time ago. In fact, the Kurdish protests were a few days ago and they were put down by helicopters and live ammunition.

Luckily, the Kurds live in the Iran-Kurdish Iraq borders. A smart CIA team can establish contacts with Kurdish Iranian leaders (with possible help from the Kurds of Iraq) and sneak through weapons and other stuff that would piss off the Mollahs. The same could happen with the Arabs. They also live along the Iran-Iraq borders.

Imagine this: armed Arab and Kurdish rebels messing up Khamenei’s heavenly dreams at night. Splendid! After messing up with his bed time, the coalition can have a very effective card to play in Iraq.

I hate these type of tactics and this option might backfire, but I believe that’s one of the very few choices available. What do you think of this card?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Disaster in the making, who will stop it?

U.S. diplomats have conceded ground to Islamists on the role of religion in Iraq, negotiators said on Saturday as they raced to meet a 48-hour deadline to draft a constitution under intense U.S. pressure.

U.S. diplomats, who have insisted the constitution must enshrine ideals of equal rights and democracy, declined comment.

Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish negotiators all said there was accord on a bigger role for Islamic law (based upon the interpretation of some Iran backed Shia parties) than Iraq had before.

But a secular Kurdish politician said Kurds opposed making Islam "the," not "a," main source of law -- changing current wording -- and subjecting all legislation to a religious test.

“We understand the Americans have sided with the Shi’ites,” he said. “It’s shocking. It doesn’t fit American values. They have spent so much blood and money here, only to back the creation of an Islamist state ... I can’t believe that’s what the Americans really want or what the American people want.”

Now, why not tell this Kurdish politician "what the American people want"? Why not tell the state department and the US diplomats in Iraq "what the American people want"? Why not side with those Iraqi women who demonstrated for equal rights in downtown Baghdad and not let them down? Why not side with those secular and religious Iraqis who do not want a constitution dictated by Iran? I'd rather have the constitution delayed for 10 more years than rushing it through like this!!

Please take a few seconds to call the US state department NOW and raise this issue. The deadline for the constitution is tomorrow (Monday August 22nd).

US State Department:

202-647-4000

More numbers here.

A Change?

I was watching Iqra, a religious Islamic channel, today and I saw something interesting. There was this Saudi cleric on the channel preaching about how suicide bombings against civilians and other non-military targets is forbidden in Islam. The interesting part was there there was no ifs, no buts, no Israel, no US, the guy just stated that suicide bombings against non-military targets is wrong. I hoped he would have elaborated a little and said that suicide bombings against Iraqi civilians is wrong and I was waiting for his curses over those who call themselves "resistence" in Iraq. Anyway, I was happy with what I got. I am still waiting for this fatwa against Al Qaeda and other terrorists coming out of the heart of Mecca though.

Check out this. Egypt's elections explained well.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Go Home Bangladesh

More than 350 small home-made bombs exploded Wednesday in almost every town and city in Bangladesh, the world's third largest Muslim majority nation. Two people were killed and more than 100 suffered slight injuries. A Bangladesh madrassa student found with a video of speeches by
Osama bin Laden' name and military training tactics was among 100 people held after a nationwide wave of bombings linked to Muslim extremists, police said.

Bangladesh should leave Iraq now!

Ops, are there Bangali troops in Iraq anyway? Raise your hand up if you can even locate Bangladesh on a map?

Friday, August 19, 2005

We Got Political Ads!!
(scroll down for updates)

Today as I was flipping through Al Ahram daily paper, I saw the first full page campaign ad by one of the 2 prominent candidates running against President Mubarak, Noaman Gomaa. My eyes literally popped out. I am just not used to seeing any political ads except those praising the achievements of Mubarak. I believe this is the first campaign ad in Egypt's history as a republic. I'll be looking forward to how the other candidates, especially Ayman Noor, will run their ads.

Nevertheless, it appears that Gomaa's newspaper ad had to be REALLY edited in order to get published in Al Ahram, Egypt's top paper. I visited Gomaa's party website and found the below ad which is another version of the one I saw in the paper today.





The ad reads: We Suffocated (emphasis added by BP:we use this term when we want to say that we really reached the end of our ropes)! The whole world is changing while we're not. And this is our political state.

Words describing the state of the country are written on those yellow notes underneath.

Now, I mentioned in my last post that the election laws prevent any candidate from directly attacking his opponents. It seems that Al Ahram thought that this version of the ad directly hits on Mubarak and his 24 years record in office and so asked Gomaa to remove the entire text except the heading "We Suffocated" and the "suffocating faces." The yellow notes were replaced by a picture of Noaman Gomaa and a sentence urging the voters to rise up and vote for his party. Poor Gomaa, it seems he had a very tough time getting his ad published!

Update: Today's (August 19th) Al Ahram had a double spread page carrying 2 Gomaa's ads including the one above. It seems the candidates will get more freedom in the media than what I expected. I am still waiting for Ayman Noor's ad. This is getting very interesting.



Mubarak Gets COOOOL



President Mubarak's campaign is being run by a group of young tech savvy computer and media specialists whose main job is to rejuvenate the image of the president. Mubarak's son, Gamal, is considered to be the man at the helm of the Mubarak campaign. In other words, the aim here is to make the president look cool, modern, forward looking, and hopeful for the future.

Mubarak also got his georgewbush2004.com website, ops, I mean mubarak2005.com website! The site contains news about the elections, the president's campaign agenda, and a "letter to the president" email link urging readers to "talk directly to the president, ask whatever they want, offer comments, and express themselves." There is also a section about the first lady. The website is in Arabic and English.

Well, I really have to say this, I really like Mubarak's picture in the campaign logo. The logo reads: Mubarak 2005, the leadership and the crossing towards the future.

Update: Mubarak has a documentary about himself. I know that the film and video clips director Sherif Sabri is heavily involved in Mubarak's campaign, I am wondering if he was the director of this documentary. Sherif Sabri is Ruby's director and mentor. It has been rumored that he was asked to stay away from Ruby until the end of the elections! lol


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Elections Blues

Today the presidential campaigns will kick off. I am not sure how the campaigns will look like since this is the first time in Egypt’s republic history to have a multiple candidates election. I do expect a lot of banners in the street and most of them will be by businessmen, members of parliament, etc supporting president Mubarak.

Below are a few notes about the elections:

The candidates:

As you all know, the election law that was passed literally bars any independents from running. All candidates must belong to one of the existing parties. Most of the parties, who were originally allowed to operate by the government controlled parties committee, are very weak and baseless. Very few of them can claim they have a real support base.

There are 10 candidates who will run on September 7th, president Mubarak is among them. The most notable candidates running against Mubarak are Ayman Noor from Al Ghad party and Noman Gomaa from El Wafd party.

The campaigns:

The government controlled media will allow the 9 candidates to have 189 hours of space. However, no candidate is allowed to attack the other! That means that those opposing Mubarak can not air ads that attack his record over the past 24 years! I expect that there will be a lot of fuss especially from the Ayman Noor camp when the television officials censor their anti-Mubarak ads.

Reaction from the people:

Zero, zut, nill. I personally know of only ONE person who will vote. See, only those who are registered will be allowed to vote and the registration period ended before president Mubarak announced his decision to allow for multiple candidates elections! Just like the vast majority of Egyptians, I don’t have an elections registration card and so unfortunately I won’t be able to post my phosphoric finger on the blog. Yea, irremovable phosphoric ink will be used to mark the fingers of those who voted. Iraqis used purple ink, we’ll be using phosphoric ink!

In addition, political apathy in Egypt is so huge. Everybody knows who the winner will turn out to be and so nobody cares. I seldom hear people talking about the elections on the street. I am hoping that with the campaign ads and so forth the “political waters” of Egypt will move a little bit.

Who will win?

Definitely Mubarak. I have mentioned before that I do want Mubarak to have a fifth term. I hope that as a result of the new stuff we’re seeing, the political life of Egypt will get some oxygen and we will witness the rise of non-Islamist parties or politicians who will be able to run in the presidential election in 2011. The world and especially the US should continue pressuring Mubarak in order to liberalize the political atmosphere in order for this to happen.

These elections, despite all the drawbacks, are a step forward in ending the disastrous status quo that has crippled our political life and allowed mosquitoes and germs to accumulate in our “political waters.”

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Welcome to the Club Madame et Monsieur

“Death to England, death to Germany, death to France, death to the United States, death to Israel.” That’s what the Iranian government’s militia chanted in front of the British embassy in Tehran.

That’s awesome news. I would like to congratulate my European friends for joining Iran’s “Great Satan Club”. I am so glad you’re in.

See, These are the options regarding the Iran issue:

-US and the 3 Europeans countries work side by side in pressuring Iran and threatening to take the issue to the security council.

-US tacitly coordinates with the Europeans while at the same time stands at a little distance with its own stick.

-Military action

I go for the first option. We have seen that when the US and Europe work together, they can do wonders. Lebanon and the peace treaty of Sudan are excellent examples. It would be very counterproductive if any rift starts to emerge between the US and Europe.

The military action option should be removed from the table for two main reasons. First, the US cannot engage in another military conflict. Second, if Iran is to be free, the Iranians themselves should be the ones who throw their own dictators. A military action will rally the public around the mullahs and destroy the Middle East’s ONLY true hope for a secular democratic country. The military option should not even be considered an option, not for the sake of the Mollahs but for the Iranians.




Monday, August 15, 2005

Congratulations Congratulations
(for update scroll down)

Congratulations ladies and gentlemen, Iraq's politicians agreed on a constitution and they will sumbit it to parliament today at midnight. Congratulations, pop the champaign, and let us party and be happy.

BUT, they decided to put off the issue of Kurds seperating in the future and women rights. See, giving women their rights is such a difficult thing. It needs time. It needs thinking. It needs talking.

Yea yea, we're in the age of sending shuttles to Mars and our dear friends in Iraq are finding it so hard to give women some rights.

Someone weep please.

Update: Iraq's parliament OKs constitution delay.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

More of Those Please

Meet Sheikh Abd Al-Muhsin Al-'Abikan, advisor to the Saudi Justice Ministry and member of the Saudi Shura Council. Sheikh Al-'Abikan is one of those I referred to as "our hope" in my last post. He is one of those rare voices out of the religious establishment who were willing to stand up and declare that something is wrong. I don't know much about Sheikh Al-'Abikan and his relation visa vie the religious establishment in Saudi, but I know that the region and the world would be a much better place with more Abikans around.

Sheikh 'Abikan said: "the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood movement was the reason for the emergence of some of the armed terrorist groups in several Arab countries, among them Saudi Arabia. According to him, "the aim of most of the Islamist groups is political, not religious… One of them is the Muslim Brotherhood movement. Their ideology was the reason for many of the explosions and civil wars, since [the movement's leaders] amuse themselves with the religious aspect while, in truth, they are interested in the political aspect."

Well said Sheikh.

Source: MEMRI


Hats Up for Israel

I have been reading how the Israeli media reported the murder of 4 Israeli Arabs by a Jewish Israeli soldier. To tell you the truth, I was intrigued. The right wing Jerusalem Post, the relatively leftist Haaretz, Yediot Ahronot, all called the killer "a terrorist", some even called him "a Jewish terrorist." The guy did not even get buried in the army's cemeteries and his family had troubles finding a place to bury him in.

Oh, if only we can treat our own terrorists the same way.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Why we're in the mess we're in?

I was discussing the current events with a friend. "What do you think is the solution to what we're in?" he asked. "Islam must change" I answered.

He gave me a look that said that he wasn't expecting such a straight forward simple answer.

"Islam must change just as Christianity and Judaism changed" I continued. "Religious reform cannot be separated from political reform. In fact, I consider it to be much more important."

Around 600 years ago, a guy named Martin Luther discovered that something was wrong. Rabbis who were part of the Jewish reform movement also discovered that something was wrong. I really think it is about time for Muslim leaders to finally wake up to the fact that something is definitely wrong here. When the so called "Islamic law" or "Shariah law" strick so much fear in many Muslims before non-Muslims then surely something is wrong with it and that there is a huge possibility God is not happy about it too!

What is really needed here is a reinterpretation of Islamic law and what constitutes as the "right Islamic way of life". There are some things that can never change throughout history. The 5 pillars of Islam and the basic message of the religion cannot be changed. However, issues such as judiciary law, personal affairs laws, rituals, relation between mosque and state, personal freedoms, etc can definitely be subjected to reinterpretation and to the furnace of reform.

Who is talking?

I believe the main reason why we don't hear much about religious reform is because the wrong people are discussing this issue. Apart of the hardcore terrorists who claim that they are carrying out God's orders, currently there are 3 people who are involved in the "Islamic discourse":

Mainstream religious clerics: These folks form the bulk of the religious clerics. Many of them are clerics by profession who want to earn a living. They preach what a normal preacher preaches, yet very few will dare to think differently. Changing Islamic law is not on their agenda. Many of them consider the idea of changing Islamic law as blasphemy, others just don't think about the issue.

If one of them talked about reform and altering Islam's 1400 years old status quo, he gets persecuted and disowned by those who gave him his degree: the Al Azhar University, the world's largest Sunni institute that has a habit of silencing any voice that calls for reform even if this voice came from a secularist or from one of its own students.

Non-religious intellectuals: By these I mean intellectuals and authors who do not belong to the religious establishment. They are the most outspoken and might be the only ones calling for a change in Islam today.

These guys were so powerful in the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. In these periods, Egypt's upper and middle classes listened to these folks due to the fact that Egyptians were more liberal back then and were more able to brush aside what Al Azhar and the "religious folks" were saying.

Today, this group almost lost its voice because of 2 main reasons. One, our consecutive dictatorships paralyzed our intellectual community and wiped out those who think. Second, the foul superficial wave of religiosity that is currently sweeping across the nation made the message of those intellectuals less appealing to the public. For example, if you told my grandma when she was 20 to don the hijab, she would have told you to sod off because Mr. Qassim Amin (prominent women rights defender) said that covering up a woman was something of the past and that she believes God looks beyond what's on her hair. Now, today if you went up to an average veiled Egyptian girl and told her that the hijab is not a religious obligatory, she will probably call you an infidel who doesn't read his/her Quran. You get the idea?

Religious reformers: These are our hope, reformers who were born out of the religious establishment. Clerics and Islamic thinkers who will stand up and declare that we must witness drastic changes in Islam. Martin Luther was a priest; the Jewish reformers were rabbis, Islam's reformers must be Sheikhs.

However, as mentioned above, the mainstream religious establishment persecutes and silences those people. They have done that to an excellent reformer who lived in the 19th century, Mohamed Abdou. And they have done the same thing 20 years ago with one of Al Azhar's professors, Dr. Ahmed Sobhi Mansour. Anyone who calls for a different interpretation of Islam gets demonized.

Unless we witness the rise of religious reformers, this part of the world will stay well behind for a very long time.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The clash of civilizations

Omar's (Iraq The Model) post today was about a demonstration by more than a hundred Iraqi women who were calling for their rights and raising their concerns regarding the current draft of Iraq's constitution. I paused a little in front of 2 particular pictures and started to ponder about their true meaning.

By God, which group of women look more forward looking, civilized, and hopeful? Which group of women would you like to be filling your country? I am not the kind of person who judges people by how they dress or by how they interpret their religion, but forgive me, I cannot help but say that those who want to suppress women in the name of God are purely wrong and I wish that they vanish from this world. Come on, which group is more likely to produce Iraq's Oprah Winfrey or Iraq's Carly Fiorina.

This group













Or that group












And please don't tell me that the unveiled jeans wearing ladies are less Muslim than the women who are clad in black. Please don't try to convince me that Allah or God who created Mars, Venus, Jupiter, the rivers, the roses, and the water falls had a bad day today because a group of Iraqi women dressed in jeans decided to braze the terrorists and a terrible weather to demand equal rights and a better life.

Here is what I wrote a few days ago about the clash of civilizations we're undergoing here. I will write more about this topic in the coming posts.

N.B. These brave women need US help. They need the US to exert pressure on the Shia "religious" parties or talk to the Kurds and ask them to make a fuss if the rights of women were undermined. I hope what they did today will not be in vain.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Jokes

Let us take a break from politics. Here are a number of jokes I translated from Arabic. A serious post will be coming soon.

1. A man died and went to hell. He met the devil.
devil: welcome
man: Hi..I can see ladies turning around in hell..why are they doing so?
devil: It's a punishment. The lady that betrayed her husband with another man turns once. The one who betrayed her husband with 2 men turns twice and so on.
man: Cool..where is my faithful wife..she passed away last year.
devil: ahhh, your wife, she's the fan over there.

2. 2 hashasheen (guys stoned on hash) were smoking pot and were stoned like hell.
h1: Hey..I got married..marriage is a wonderful thing..i got a new apartment. Come over let me show it to you.
The two stoned bums go to the apartment.
h1: This is the living room.
h2: Very nice furniture.
h1: This is my kitchen
h2: great looking kitchen
They then move towards the bedroom. H1 opened the door. His wife was in bed with another guy.
h1: This is my bedroom.
h2: wow, very nice.
h1: And this is my wife.
h2: wow, pretty lady.
H1 points to the guy sleeping with his wife.
h1: and he is me.

3. Osama lost his ID card. He went to the police to file a report.
O: I lost my ID card..My name is Osama.
Police: Osama the son of a bitch?
O: How dare you call me son of a bitch..I am going to the head officer to complain.
O: Good evening officer..your subordinate called me a son of a bitch.
Officer: Whats your name?
O: Osama.
Officer: Osama the son of a bitch?
O: How dare you call me that..I am going to the minister to complain.
O: Good evening minister..the officer called me a son of a bitch
Minister: Whats your name?
O: Osama.
Minister: Osama the son of a bitch?
O: Noooo. This is getting unbearable..I'll go and raise this to President Mubarak.
O: Good evening Mr. President..They are all calling me a son of a bitch. This is against my human rights.
President: Whats your name?
O: Osama
President: Osama the son of a bitch?
O: No way..I am outta this country. I am going to complain to President Bush.
Osama flies to the US
O: Good evening Mr. President. Look what your ally Mubarak is doing. He is calling me, a citizen, a son of a bitch.
Bush: What's your name?
O: Osama.
Bush: Osama Bin Laden?????!!!!!
O: Noooooooooooooooo, Osama the son of a bitch.


4.

"Fastest" way to committ suicide


Sunday, August 07, 2005

2 Worlds Apart

I have a daily habit of checking the news headlines on Yahoo every morning. Around one week ago, I logged on to Yahoo and saw this headline “NASA sends Discovery to space”. Right underneath this headline was another one “Iraq constitution might undermine women’s rights.”

“Wow, what a difference” I said. Here are NASA women sending a shuttle to space while Iraq’s Shia parties and their women puppets in parliament are trying to unfairly use religion in suppressing the rights of women.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the main reason for the ailments of this region. Besides the dictatorial regimes governing us, we have another dictator: the dictator of the mind. The use of religion to draw us backwards instead of forward and to place a gloomy dark cloud over our minds so that it paralyzes our ability to think rationally. Ironically, religion was meant to be a modernizing force and a mean of changing the old status quos. It’s funny how humans can transform it into a force of destruction.

The US, which has tremendous influence in Iraq, must exert maximum pressure on the Shia religious parties in order to prevent this disaster from happening. If Iran is interfering in the political dynamics of Iraq, then the US should do so as well. And it is not only me who is asking for this, Iraq’s women activists found no one to raise their concerns to except the American ambassador Khalilzad!

Friday, August 05, 2005

Look Who is Talking Now


I am currently reading this book, "The Battle of the Egyptian Woman to Exit the Harem Era". The book is a compilation of essays on women rights written between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.

The good thing about this book is that the compiler added essays that convey both views and arguments. At least half of the essays were written by women activists and male intellectuals who argued for the right of Egyptian women to have access to education, to enjoy political rights, and to be able to take off the hijab or the all inclusive veil that Egyptian women used to wear back then. This hijab covered the entire body and the face and it was not like the head cover that they wear today.

The other camp were the rejectionists, those who argued that women cannot be equated with men and so they are naturally not entitled to obtain what men have. They also stated that women cannot imitate their European counterparts by going out with an uncovered face and hair because that would "contradict our traditions and religious values." Ironically, a number of the essayists who argued against women rights were women themselves! Do the female Iraqi members of parliament who are calling for the implementation of the outdated Sharia Law ring a bell?? In addition, this camp often used religious tones in presenting their counter arguments stating that giving "Western style" freedom to women and allowing them to abandon the veil run against "our religious values." Doesn't that sound like medieval Europe when the religious establishment stifled any attempt of reform and innovation?

The most amazing thing about this book is that it gave me a glimpse into the issues that people were discussing during this period and then, judging by what happened back then, I managed to see who actually won the debate. It is clear from history that the pro-women rights camp had the loudest voice and the greater influence on the Egyptian public. Those women activists, intellectuals, and the religious leaders who supported their views won the debate and Egyptian women started getting an education in schools and gradually became involved in politics in later years. In addition, the veil totally vanished at least within Egypt's top and middle classes. They beat those who wanted women enslaved and they also defeated Al Azhar (the world's largest Sunni Institute) that had and still has a habit of persecuting and demonizing anyone who calls for reform within Islam's worldly laws.

It is sad that things turned upside down these days. Today, the "non-reformers" and those who are driving us backwards have the upper hand and the loudest mouth. They control the religious satellite stations and the rhetoric today. Egypt's intellectuals, artists, free thinkers, and religious reformers who were alive and well back in the first half of this century are almost no where to be found today. Even if we still do have a number of them, I simply cannot hear their voices very well, the noise around them is too loud.


Readers of this blog know that I have always been a critic of how Israel carries out its military actions in the Palestinian territories. However, I cannot help but comment on the irony here:

When a Palestinian intentionally kills Israeli civilians, the Palestinians and the rest of the Arabs call him a martyr on his way to meeting a happy God.

When an Israeli Jew intentionally kills Israeli Arab civilians, the Israeli government calls him "a bloodthirsty terrorist."

Why can't we all treat civilians as red lines that cannot be crossed?

Sex in Egypt

A very interesting article on sexuality in Egypt by the BBC. I also tend to believe that premarital sex is a rising phenomena here especially in the big cities. You will find everything in Egypt, whether on or under the surface.


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Sandmonkey tackles the war of ideas that should be happen here.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Ditto the Opposition

As I watched in horror how brave protesters, who were protesting against Mubarak's fifth term, were beaten and crushed by government affiliated security personnel and thugs, I found myself asking this question: why didn't we see huge anti-terrorist protests following the Sharm terrorist attacks? Why didn't we see something similar to what happened in the US, Spain, and London? People in those countries united together in mass protests and vigils just to tell the terrorists "NO". Where were our huge mass protests? Why weren't there any significant anti-terror demonstrations in Cairo? The government didn't allow them; didn't they cancel your own protest? You might say. Well, if an anti-Mubarak protest could be organized last Saturday, then an anti-terror protest could have also been held even without a permit.

Frankly speaking, I wasn't expecting the government to organize a massive anti-terror protest following the Sharm bombing. The one in Sharm was organized by those poor employees who were badly affected and their Western tourists friends. I didn't expect the government to mobilize the grieving Egyptian public simply because Egyptians are dying everyday whether in filthy public sector hospitals or from the contaminated water that the rural village gets. The "Egyptian Person" is so cheap to those who are ruling us. This is the reason why I was expecting the opposition to use its "demonstration skills" and organize an anti-terror protest for the sake of the very Egyptians they claim they care about and want to save from "dictatorship" and "oppression". I expected the wrong thing.

The mood within the opposition was something like this "ummmm, aaaaah, we condemn the terrorist bombings, yet we will not use our "demonstration skills" in staging a massive anti-terror protest lest we side with the government and allow Mubarak to score some points out of it." That reminded me with what happened on the stairs of the US congress hours after 911. The staunchest anti-Bush congress members stood side by side with their fellow staunch pro-Bush congress members and sang "God Bless America". The anti-Bush folks didn't mind if President Bush will "benefit" from the terrorist attacks, all what they cared about was telling the terrorists "NO". Bush's approval ratings did surpass 90% and his opposition went back to business as usual. But when terrorists hit and kill, then it ought not to be business as usual. It is sad that the ones who want to "save us from Mubarak" failed to react appropriately while Egyptian blood was still fresh on Sharm's asphalt.

Leaving the opposition beside, another reason why we haven't witnessed clear demonstrated outrage on the streets of Cairo by our "intellectuals", "media pundits", and "religious big mouths" is what I call Atmosphere of Justifying Terror, AJT. Terror happens because of poverty, oppression, Mubarak's dictatorship, America, Israel, Namibia, Mozambique, excuses, excuses, excuses. We hear only excuses. We hear only diluted condemnations, "ummm, we condemns the bombings BUT it is America, the Jews, Iraq, Palestine, etc, etc." Terrorists are murdering everywhere from London to Bali and all what we get are those excuses from our "brainy people". As long as there is this diluted condemnation, the "NO" message coming out of the Arab/Muslim world will never reach the terrorists.

I sensed a lot of grief and puzzlement from fellow Egyptians after the bombings. I witnessed how people positively reacted to the small short anti-terror protest we had on this bridge over the Nile. It is sad that those who are hiding in the caves of Afghanistan/Pakistan didn't hear it out loud.



Sheikh Horn


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