The Big Pharaoh: 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005
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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Reforming Islam: The Forbidden Fruit

In the midst of all the talk about democracy and freedom in the Arab world, one crucial issue still remains an untouched hot potato which is the call to reform the religion Islam. I believe this issue remains the most central and supercedes the importance of democracy and political reform in the greater Middle East region.

If you looked at the world's great faith, you will realize that nearly all have undergone some sort of reform or attempts to marry old historical holy texts with the realities of our ever changing modern age. However, Islam still remains untouched and mired by those who believe that the societal laws of 660 AD could be applied today. In addition, the religion is still enslaved by religious leaders who demonize and persecute any voice calling for reform or a reinterpretation of the Quran or of what the prophet said over 1400 years old in the sun burned desert of Arabia.

With the current wave of Islamization in the greater Middle East countries and in hosts of large Muslim communities (i.e Europe), the issue of reforming Islam is still not taking the importance it requires. What makes matters worse is that many in the West, in their attempt to search for Muslim reformers, describe a person as "moderate" or "reformist" just because of the mere fact that he condemned violence or rebuked Bin Laden on September 11th.

For someone like me, a Muslim reformist is someone who calls for the reinterpretation of what the prophet Muhammad said 1400 years ago and who is not afraid to dismiss Shariah law as a set of laws that were promulgated in a period that was very different than the one we're living in today. Right after 911, many Islam haters started quoting the "violence verses" in the Quran in an attempt to prove that the 19 hijackers were carrying out Allah's orders. Muslims responded by saying that such verses should be taken "within their historical context." I am wondering why we can't take the saying of the prophet, the actions of his companions, and Shariah law in their "historical context" as well.

Islam is currently in a crisis and it is sad that very few Muslim thinkers and leaders are noticing it. They are busy hoping for the white people of the US and Europe to have a positive opinion of Islam while neglecting the root of the problem which is that Islam, in its current unreformed state, is not compatible with the values that Catholic Brazil and Buddhist Korea are trying to adopt. For example, I have a very dear friend who is a typical example of a "westernized" Egyptian youth. He graduated from the American University in Cairo, works in a well known multinational firm, speaks English better than many Americans, and plays jazz on his 6 guitars. In a recent conversation, we started talking about Shariah law and I was stunned when he told me that he believes Shariah is divine and Allah's answer to all our ills. He then started bombarding me with absurd justifications for stoning, whipping those who drank a bottle of beer, and executing those who converted out of Islam. When I cornered him by detailing how his current life will change if Egypt adopted full fledged Shariah law, all what he said was "I'll give it a try."

My friend is innocent. Nobody taught him better and he is not bold enough to search for himself and return to God with the conclusion he reached. Our mainstream religious leaders might not be calling for the implementation of Shariah law, yet very few are tackling the issue of reforming the Islamic way of life. My friend is their victim.

Can I Cuss?

I feel like cussing today. Excuse me everyone:

AMR MOUSA YOU ARE SUCH AN A** HOLE.


Prince Charles to plead Islam's cause to Bush

The Telegraph:

"The Prince of Wales will try to persuade George W Bush and Americans of the merits of Islam this week because he thinks the United States has been too intolerant of the religion since September 11."

And I think you have been too intolerant of your first wife.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Religious Interconnection Vigil

There will be an interfaith vigil next Sunday October 30th (6:30 pm) in front of the Basilica Church in Heliopolis. The vigil is aimed at expressing Egypt's social harmony between Muslims and Christians especially after the events in Alexandria.

I am sure you all know that I believe that such social harmony has disappeared over the past 20 years or so, yet holding such a vigil is a good idea and that's why I'm mentioning it here.

Date: Sunday October 30th
Time: 6:30 pm
Venue: In front of the Basilica church in heliopolis (next to Al Horria Mall)
Comments: Wear a white t-shirt and bring a candle

For more info, check One Arab World


Mahfouz's Days

Naguib Mahfouz (age 94), Egypt's Nobel literature laurate, had this to say about Muslim-Christian relations during his times:

"Every society in the world has a core of beliefs that defines its way of life. For Egypt one such premise was national unity. My generation stuck together. We didn't think of ourselves as Muslims and Copts but as Egyptians. And this was at a time when the British were still in Egypt and political strife was a daily phenomenon. In his memoirs Lord Cromer said the only difference between a Muslim and a Christian in Egypt is that one goes to a mosque and the other to a church. Aside from that they live the same way, observe the same traditions and share the same language and culture.It was only by chance we would know the religion of a friend. No one asked and no one paid much attention. I discovered that one of my closest friends was Christian only when his father died and I was told that he would be available for condolences at the church. In my time the cabinet included 12 ministers among which it was customary to have at least two Copts. Wissa Wassef, a Copt, was parliamentary speaker for many years. When prime minister Ismail Sidqi, a Muslim, disbanded parliament Wassef attacked him fiercely and was hailed as a national hero for doing so."
(Source: Miss Mabrouk of Egypt)

Sorry Mahfouz, your days are forever gone. I don't expect them to come back in my lifetime. I would be a very decomposed dead body if my grandchildren were to experience what you experienced. The damage done to Egypt and to the Egyptian psyche was so great.

I blame the crazy military dictators who ruled Egypt since 1952. They destroyed our soul, they destroyed our will. And I blame the foul wave of religiousity and fundamentalism that started to invade Egypt 20 years ago. It destroyed our mind, our intellect, and our hearts.


The UN Adds

It seems that it's not just a number of "Bush" senators who are saying that British MP George Galloway took money from Saddam Hussein. The UN report that was released yesterday said the same thing as well.

"The new claims came in a United Nations report which alleged that Mr Galloway's wife, Dr Amineh Abu Zayyad, received more than $120,000 (£80,000) into her personal bank account.
The investigation also alleged that he received more than 18 million barrels of oil both directly and indirectly and that 11 million were allocated in his name.


The development comes a few days after a US Senate Committee accused Mr Galloway of lying about the oil allocations under oath."
(Source: The Telegraph)

Down you go you scum.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Question: Why you should always read The Big Pharaoh?

Answer: Because The Big Pharaoh offers analysis that often turns out to be true.

In May 18, 2005, I said the following:

George Galloway made a huge show during the senate panel hearing yesterday. Galloway’s performance and attempts to steer away from the topic did very little to eliminate the very foul odor I am smelling coming from this man. I believe the key in this whole case is the Jordanian businessman Fawaz Zureikat who donated about $600,000 to Galloway’s Iraq charity.

Now, let us look at the case from a different angle. George Galloway admitted that Zureikat had “extensive business with Iraq (i.e Saddam)” and that he might have “signed an oil contract”. “It is not my business” Galloway then added. Well, sir, it is your business. $600,000 is a huge sum given that it is coming from a citizen of a country that is poorer than Egypt and into a charity of a controversial British MP! Why didn’t Galloway ask his generous donor about the source of his money given the type of regime that Saddam lead (which Galloway said he opposed)?

Looking at Galloway and his relations with Saddam’s regime won’t do any
good, the key here is Fawaz Zureikat.



The Times wrote 2 days ago:

GEORGE GALLOWAY faces possible criminal charges after a US Senate
investigation tracked $150,000 (£85,000) in Iraqi oil money to his wife’s bank
account in Jordan.

The report says the Jordanian middleman Fawaz Zureikat, a
close friend of Mr Galloway and his representative in Baghdad, funnelled
$150,000 from Iraqi oil sales to Mr Galloway’s wife and at least $446,000 to the
Mariam Appeal. On the same day Mr Zureikat also paid $15,666 to Ron McKay, Mr
Galloway’s spokesman. Mr McKay could not be contacted for comment last
night.

Another individual, known as “oil trader 2”, told the investigators that he
learnt in summer 2000 that the Iraqi Government had granted an allocation of oil
to someone represented by Mr Zureikat. Oil trader 2 said: “At that time I knew
that the individual that Zureikat represented was a British official named
George Galloway.”

He added: “Officials of the Iraqi State Oil Marketing Organisation
confirmed to me that Mr Zureikat represented Mr Galloway in the sale of
Galloway’s allocations of Iraqi crude oil.”


Bingo

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I won't be able to post in the coming week. In the meantime, I've compiled a number of my favorite posts below. Enjoy the read and don't go away.

I have a dream

We're not the only ones with nuts among us

The Right Wish from the Right People

In Interviewed Ronald Reagan

Help Me I'm a Muslim

Important Dead Man vs Unimportant Dead Man

America the slave

Because of the opening

Egyptian women emancipation: the progress

Gitmo toilet & Hindu fire

Memo to Arab/Islamic (media, religious leaders, governments, street)

Monday, October 17, 2005

Hats Up for Zalmay



If the US can consider an official who really did a good job in Iraq then this person has to be US ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad. Zalmay has been instrumental in dealing with Iraqis from different spectrums and a large part of the credit for the recent constitution compromise has to go to him. He knows the region quite well and I believe his Muslim background (his native land is Afghanistan) has helped him in creating rapport with Iraq's leaders.

Check out Fareed Zakaria's editorial on Khalilzad and the burgeoning smart strategy in Iraq.

Sandmonkey tells us why Egyptians need a vodka faucet right next to the water one. Hilarious!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Iraqis Do It Again



One more time, millions of Iraqis didn't fail to amaze the world with their courage.

Even though I now admit that I believe the Iraq war was an unnecessary mistake, I think we don't have the luxury of sitting back and just repeating the "it was a mistake" chorus. In spite of yesterday's successful referendum, we still cannot anticipate whether Iraq will produce an acceptable outcome or not. All we have to do is stay the course, its the only option we have.

Yesterday's vote was not about a "yes" or a "no" to the constitution, it was about the "Sunni vote". Fortunately, the Sunni turnout was rather high and this in itself was yesterday's real good news even if the constitution was rejected.

Frankly speaking, I wish the constitution fails to receive the three thirds majority in 3 governorates (Sunni governorates). This will show the Sunnis that they can replace their support for terrorists with a ballot. In addition, I hate Iraq's current parliament. It has many Iran-backed cronies as well as it is not representative of the 3 Iraqi segments. If the constitution was annulled by the 3 Sunni provinces, the current parliament will dissolve paving the way for a new parliament and fresh discussions on the document.
The huge future milestone is the coming parliament elections on December 15th. Many expect the secular forces of Iraq (headed by Ayad Allawi) will coordinate with Sunnis (Islamists and secularists) in order to offset the power of Iran in Iraq. The Allawi coalition is likely to receive considerable support from Arab countries (i.e $$$) and the US.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Alexandria on Sectarian Fire

Around 3000 Muslim protesters surrounded a church in Alexandria to protest a church play that they deemed as "offensive to Islam." Police cordoned off the building to protect it from the angry crowd.

According to Al Jazeera English website, the play "features a poor Christian university student who converts to Islam when a group of Muslim men promise him much-needed money. When he becomes disenchanted with his decision, the men threaten him with physical violence to prevent him from returning to his original faith."

The news of this play was reported in a low circulation tabloid known for its anti-Christian slant. Protesters were distributing copies of the article and DVDs of the play in order to fan the flame of rage.

I heard that this play was 2 years old and it was banned by the Christian leadership in Cairo. I saw parts of the play and it was indeed very offensive and disturbing. If anyone is to blame then it has to be the Alexandrian local church pastor who allowed such a play in his church.

This incident raises 2 issues. First, why did the tabloid mention this play today even though it was banned by the Christian clergy 2 years ago? And why didn't they mention that the play was in fact banned? These idiots will do anything just to sell their sorry excuse of a newspaper even at the expense of tearing the already torn social fabric of Egypt.

Second, what happened in Alexandria only proves the terrible state our "national harmony" is in. There is tremendous hatred and misunderstanding between the 2 camps. Our social fabric has torn apart and I don't believe it can be mended in my lifetime. Christians are responding to the hate they see on Egypt's newsstands and witness in the government institutions with their own hate within the walls of their church and the anonymity of the internet.

I am very depressed. Egypt was not like that. My grandparents and my parents told me so.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Breaking News: Syria’s Ghazi Kanaan “Commits Suicide”

Syria’s news agency announced that interior minister Ghazi Kanaan has committed suicide. Kanaan was also Syria’s powerful intelligence chief in Lebanon, literally the virtual ruler of the country.

Now, there is a rule in the Middle East that says as follows: never believe the news of the suicide of some politician. “They killed him”. That was my first reaction when I read the news headline and I believe it will be the reaction of many across the region, especially in Lebanon.

Al Arabiya website stated that Kanaan, who was questioned in the investigation of Rafik Hariri’s assassination, mentioned that he was willing to provide information provided that he be outside Syria. Ummm, I’m smelling something here.

So the questions we have are: If Kanaan was killed, why was he killed? What information did he know? Did Kanaan know about Hariri’s assassination plot before it happened? Was Kanaan willing to speak out in order to save himself?

I just can’t imagine how stupid the Syrian thugs can become. “Committing suicide” is such a very old way of getting rid of unwanted politicians in the Middle East. Can’t the Syrians come up with something new?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Pakistan's Political Religious Parties: Earthquake Punishment from God

Al Arabiya website is claiming that some Pakistanis believe that the earthquake was send by God to punish Pakistan for keeping President Musharaf in power and for his support for the US during the war in Afghanistan. The news site also mentioned that this could be used by the political religious parties in Pakistan to undermine Musharaf. What is far more worse is that I don't rule out the fact that many Pakistanis, especially the poor uneducated from them, will believe what their mullahs will say. These people never fail to amuse me with their ugly stupidity. They never fail to make me sick.

Source: Al Arabiya (Arabic)

Monday, October 10, 2005

Here's The Score Mr. Galloway
(scroll down for updates)

Right before the start of the war in Iraq, I heard radical leftist British MP Georges Galloway say the following on TV: "Bush will fall, Blair will fall, Howard will fall, Berlusconi will fall, Aznar will fall"

Even though the war in Iraq was indeed controversial in the countries that joined the coalition, it is very interesting to see whether Galloway's prophecy did come to past. The truth is: it didn't.

Bush: reelected

Blair: reelected

Howards: reelected

Junichiro Koizumi : reelected by a landslide. Koizumi is Japan's first prime minister to deploy troops after the second world war.

Aznar: lost even though he was leading in the polls a day before the Madrid bombing. He lost because he lied to his people right after the bombings.

Berluscouni: Elections next year but he is likely to lose.

And guess what happened today, Germany's Shroeder is gone for good. Angela Merkel became the country's first female chancellor. Even though Merkel didn't manage to fully convince the German people with her economic plan (she didn't get enough votes to rule alone), I believe her presence will be felt in foreign politics.



Newsweek discusses America's friends in the mountains: the Kurds. When will the US pick up the Kurds and dump the America hating Turks?


I mentioned before that, regrettably, the media, the religious leaders, and many on our "street" think that katrina was a punishment from God for the US. Well, if Katrina was America's punishment, what about Pakistan's earthquake that killed over 30,000 poor Pakistanis? Was God punishing Pakistan because Pervez Musharaf is considered a "US allie"? If your answer is yes, then please be advised that you need to visit a doctor.

French Terror Cell Linked to Iraq al-Qaida

A French terror cell suspected of plotting attacks on the subway and other targets in Paris had contacts with Iraq's al-Qaida leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a leading French counterterrorism official said Monday.
France should end its occupation of Iraq now!!

Update: Belgium Is Trying to Unravel the Threads of a Terror Web

The random arrest set in motion a cascade of events that underscored the extent of the radicalization of young Muslims throughout Europe - and a rapidly expanding and homegrown terrorist threat.
Belgium should end its occupation of Iraq now!!


Once, in his Tel Aviv office I took note of a lava lamp standing on his desk. He laughed, thinking that I thought of Egyptians as militaristic and had mistaken it for a model of an Egyptian missile. Two days later a limo from the Egyptian Embassy turned up at my home delivering the lava lamp as a present from Ihab, and presumably from the people of Egypt.
Check out Yaakov Kirschen's, Israel's Dry Bones cartoonist, account of his friendship with Ihab al-Sharif, Egypt's assasinated ambassador to Iraq (and previously Israel).

Friday, October 07, 2005

Mohamed El Baradei: Egypt's Fourth noble Prize Winner

Mohamed El Baradei and the IAEA won this year's Nobel peace prize. That makes him the fourth Egyptian Nobel laureate and the second Egyptian to win the peace prize.

I hope this prize will induce El Baradei to continue working on preventing a drunk driver from having a car's keys, preventing Iran's crazy Mullahs from acquiring nuclear materials that can easily be transformed into nuclear weapons.

Egyptian Nobel prize winners:

1. President Anwar Sadat: peace prize (1979)
2. Naguib Mahfouz: literature prize (1988)
3. Ahmed Zewail (also an American): chemistry prize (1999)
4. Mohamed El Baradei: peace prize (2005)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Saudi Blogs Blogger.com!!

Reporters Without Borders says that Saudi Arabia blocked Blogger.com! I just emailed Saudi Jeans to get more info.

Update: Blogger isn't blogged anymore in Saudi Arabia. Saudi bloggers are confirming this. (Hat tip: Miss Mabrouk of Egypt)

Iran "behind attack on British troops"

"Britain has accused Iran of responsibility for explosions which have caused the deaths of all eight UK soldiers killed in Iraq this year.

A senior British official, briefing correspondents in London, blamed Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

He said they provided the technology to a Shia group in southern Iraq. The Iranians had denied this, he added."

If that's not a casus belli, then what a casus belli is? Iran is acting like the unstoppable bully on the block who is not afraid of anyone. Remember Time magazine's report on Iran's support to the terrorists on the Sunni side? Now they're using Muqty's thugs to go after the British. If there was a time when the US and Europe had to really unite against the Mullah's of Iran, then this time is definitely now. It's time for Europe to wake up, roll up its sleeves, and get dirty. A good way to start is to pressure Russia and China to minimize their political support towards the Iranian dictators.

Source: BBC

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Reforming Egypt: In Search of a Strategy

Check out the latest report from the International Crisis Group on Egypt's political reform. You can find the full report here and the media release here. Quite an interesting read.

(Hat tip: Josh from The Arabist Network)


A Royal Hit and Fly

A terrible accident happened around a week ago that brought back the issue of how rich Arab tourists are treated in Egypt and the extremely negative attitude that many Egyptians hold towards their oil rich guests.

A Qatari prince was among several participants of an illegal car race on Cairo's airport highway. The prince's car flipped and landed on a group of youth who were watching the race from the sideway. 5 youth were killed on the spot. The Qatari royal simply ran away, took his private jet and flew to Qatar. There are speculations that Egypt's police were complacent in his escape. In addition, it appears that the authorities in this particular area of Cairo were well aware of the existence of the race but turned a blind eye because of some hefty bribe they got.

There is a tremendous sense of resentment among many Egyptians regarding what happened and especially how the prince managed to escape so easily. Many ask the question of what would have happened if an Egyptian worker killed a dog in an Arab oil rich country. They believe he would have been in deep trouble. In addition, many people believe that the Egyptian government facilitated the prince's escape in order not to taint Egypt-Qatar relations.

If you asked any Egyptian about his opinion on oil rich Arabs, you would mostly get words such as "snobbish", "arrogant", and "dislikes Egyptians and look down on them." I am well aware of the bias of stereotyping but definitely these feelings did not arise in a vacuum. Personally, I think such feelings are understandable due to the actions of some rich Arabs in Egypt, but we just cannot paint the entire Gulf area with the same brush.

Well, if this is how many Egyptians feel towards Gulf Arabs, I would love to know how they feel towards Egyptians. If you are a Gulf country citizen or you're someone living in the Gulf and know about this issue, please email me or post your comment on the comments column.


"Terrorist attacks aren't caused by any policy except that of the bombers themselves."

Hitchens on the Bali bombings. A must read.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Memo

To: Arab/Islamic (media, religious leaders, governments, street)

From: A very sick and tired Big Pharaoh

Re: Your hypocrisy

Dear all,

Three days ago, over 100 Iraqi Shia civilians were brutally murdered by 3 suicide bombings in the Iraqi city of Balad. The car bombs followed each other to ensure the maximum number of casualties. Earlier this week, terrorists entered a school and lined 5 teachers against of a classroom wall and gunned them down right in front of the school kids. And what was your reaction? Nothing.

I haven't noticed a single reaction from your end. I haven't seen gruesome pictures in your media. I haven't heard of a single fatwa issued by your religious leaders. And more shamelessly, I haven't seen a single demonstration on your streets. To be very blunt with you, I am sick and tired of you and your hypocrisy and I wish that one day I'll be snatched away from your sick culture.

The reason I am so angry with you is not because of your indifference towards the daily massacre of innocent Iraqis per se, but because I can see a tremendous amount of ugly hypocrisy emanating from you. You held large demonstrations during the Palestinian Intifada and before the war in Iraq. Your media turned into an emotions crushing one-sided propaganda machine that did nothing except radicalize thousands of your youth and turn them into potential suicide bombers. You rationalized the murder of people in America, Madrid, and London by referring to your political grievances in Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Yet after you did all that, I find myself very puzzled and bewildered towards your indifference (and sometimes joy) towards the daily killing of Iraqi civilians.

You claim that you don’t want your fellow Muslims being killed in Palestine and Iraq, yet not a single hair on your left butt cheek moved as a reaction to the terrorists’ massacres in Iraq or the genocide in Darfur. Hell, believe me, I’m not searching for your sympathy towards the American employee who jumped out of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 or the Indonesian Hindu shopkeeper who got torn into pieces yesterday in Bali, I’m just looking for your sympathy towards your own people. I can’t believe how your hatred towards the US and your media’s obsession with everything America does blinded your eyes and froze your heart towards the suffering of the same people you claim you support. What kind of rationale is this?

To sum up, I am simply sick and tired of your straight forward hypocrisy, denial, and culture that never fails to baffle my mind. This foul culture and sick mentality that places a price tag on your dead based upon who killed them. This culture that believes Katrina was a lesson from God to the US while doesn’t pause and ponder about what lesson was God giving the thousands upon thousands of poor Iranians (a.k.a Muslims) who died in the Bam earthquake or the multiple thousands of Indonesians (a.k.a Muslims) who perished in the tsunami.

You might call me a “self hater”, “someone who is tarnishing our image in front of his international readership”. Tell you what, I don’t give a hoot about what you might call me. I didn’t start this blog to please you neither did I start it to please whomever decides to log on here. I started it to channel my thoughts and opinions as well as vent off my anger towards your behavior and especially that of your awful media.

Yours,

The Big Pharaoh

Saturday, October 01, 2005

30 Reported Dead, Hurt in Bali (Indonesia) Explosions

Indonesia should end its occupation of Iraq!

France's Sarkozy to Boost Surveillance Amid Threat of Attacks

France should end its occupation of Iraq!



I hate NY Times. I hate their Time Select. I hate the very day they came up with Time Select. They will be getting lesser readers by making people pay for selective columnists.

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