The Big Pharaoh: 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005
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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Why the Muslim Brotherhood Fared Well?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Coming up next:
What must be done now?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Bombs target Bangladesh lawyers


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

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

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


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

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

A colleague of mine just told me this story:

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

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

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

Monday, November 28, 2005

Chitchatting with a Christian

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

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

My friend got a little agitated.

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

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

Sunday, November 27, 2005

That's Sanity

Washington Post:

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

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

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

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

MB Countdown: 75 seats

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

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

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

All these questions remain unanswered for the time being.

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

The Big Pharaoh in Al Mashareq

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

Egyptian bloggers comment on ongoing parliamentary elections

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

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


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

Iraq Ranks Third Most Politically Free Arab Country!

Index ranks Middle East freedom

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

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

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

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

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

INDEX OF POLITICAL FREEDOM

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


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

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Naked Mona


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

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

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



Chitchat

1. Bush is Good Now

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

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

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

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

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

2. Holy Man Wins Votes

A Plumber came to fix the drain in my house.

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

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


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I Disagree with The Sandmonkey

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

2 young girls

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

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

baby

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

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

fingers

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

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

observer

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

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

N.B: Above text is tongue in cheek!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Pentagon official called the Daily Mirror report "absolutely absurd."

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

Islamist gains in Egypt give Washington pause

Reuters:

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

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

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

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

Elections Egyptian Style!

e1

Welcome to Egypt's taste of democracy.

e2

"Back off soldiers. We're protecting you"

e3

Yes, that's a sword! I am not sure if this is blood on it or not though.

e5

Fighting for votes.

e7

Does this pic need a comment? I don't think so.

e8

An excited campaigner.

e9

"I just went to vote"

A Foretaste of What to Come

I will try as much as possible to give you a foretaste of what to expect the coming Egyptian parliament to be like or to the stuff they will discuss. In doing so, I will refer to examples of countries that gave a little freedom to Islamists. Remember, my first example was Algeria.

Now Bahrain. The liberals there are waging a campiagn against their government's appeasment of Islamists that lead to "banning music concerts, gender segregation at universities, attempts by islamists to segregate males and females in shopping malls". The liberals groups said that there are attempts to curb the freedoms Bahrainis had in the past decades. The campaign is called "We have a right".

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

Source: Al Arabiya (Arabic)




Al Hurra Under Scrutiny

I am glad that Al Hurra channel's problems are now being discussed. As someone who was yearning for an alternative to the mainstream government influenced Arab channels, I was looking forward for a channel that would be both informative and entertaining and would abstain from the anyone-who-blows-himself-up-has-a-good-excuse-to-do-so rhetoric. However, the channel's performance upon its inauguration was very poor, not because of lack of money, but as a result of tremendous mismanagement and lack of professionalism. Even though there has been some improvements, the channel is still behind in the basic tenants of journalistic professionalism.

The American Prospect has published a full investigative report into Al Hurra and I’m quite surprised by what they found. In addition, the congress (the channel’s financers) is beginning to look closer at how that channel was run and hopefully take corrective actions.

As far as Egypt is concerned, I believe the channel gained ground as a result of its good correspondent here. It’s coverage is now viewed more positively and even Muslim Brotherhood officials, who previously refrained from appearing on an “American funded” channel, are starting to show us their nice faces. The channel is among the first to appear in and report about demonstrations and other political events.

It was shocking to hear that Salama Neimat, one of the most balanced Arab journalists around, was booted off the air simply because he criticized its management. Neimat was a frequent quest on Al Hurra. This is very worrying and it shows that the channel is being run by a small clique who are after their own interests.

I believe heads have to roll at Al Hurra and a more serious management put in place.

American Prospect:

“Mamoun Fandy, a senior fellow in Middle East policy at Rice University's Baker Institute, says that the rules governing the networks have made little difference, and that MBN is operating "runaway stations that need to be brought under control." He also says, "Alhurra looks like the Middle Eastern states it wants to change: It’s run by a small dictator who is totally corrupt" -- although he and other critics concede that they know of no criminal wrongdoing.
….
Salameh Nematt, who succeeded Harb as the Washington bureau chief of the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat, says that the broadcasting executive is "more important in shaping public diplomacy than Karen Hughes,” the former Bush communications adviser who now serves as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. Nematt, who used to appear regularly on a weekly Alhurra talk show but was booted off the air after he criticized the network, doesn't conceal his contempt for Harb or Alhurra. “He’s a third-rate journalist who has hired fourth-rate journalists,” Nematt says. “Most of them don’t speak English well, and they don’t know much about the Mideast, let alone America. No serious journalist from the Mideast works there.”
…..
“What Middle Easterners expected was a high-quality American station on the level of American commercial television that had interesting shows like 60 Minutes,’” observes a State Department expert on international broadcasting. “What they got was a third-rate Lebanese station.” As a result, former Ambassador William Rugh, an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute and author of an influential book on Arabic media, has called Alhurra "a big waste of money.” “It’s an embarrassment,” he says. “The Arab audiences know it’s a poor representation of the American media but nobody in [authority in] Washington knows that it’s poor and the harm it’s doing, tarnishing the image of the U.S.”

Monday, November 21, 2005















2 young teenage Egyptian girls. They are too young to vote yet they are campaigning for an MB candidate. They were told that God demands them to wear a piece of cloth on their head in order to be "complete Muslims". They were told that covering your hair is as essential as bowing down in prayer. They were told that, unlike their uncovered friends, they will get "extra points" in paradise for doing so even during Egypt's dreadful summer heat. They were told that as soon as you see blood coming out of you, you turn into a walking vagina and so you have to cover as much as possible because every walking sperm around wants to devour you. Well, who knows, may be those 2 innocents were covered up while they were still preteens. They were told many things and the disaster is that no one is telling them the opposite. Those who used to say the opposite are gone. Gone during 50 years of dictatorship and 50 years of destruction of the Egyptian person. Today, even if those who said the opposite rose again, they won't make any difference because the Egyptian masses changed. The Egyptian pyche changed. The Egyptian mentality changed. Thanks to years of dictatorship, oppression, and a sickening wave of fake religiosity that destroyed everything beautiful in Egypt.

(Pic courtesy of The Sandmonkey)

AAAA77777EEEEEE (FOR THE THIRD TIME)



The Muslim Brotherhood secured 14 more seats in yesterday's elections. The rest of their undefeated candidates will re-run against the NDP candidates. And we still have the final round of elections on December 1st!!!! My bet is 75-80 seats for the MB in all. Anyone want to place another bet??

AAAAA777EEEEE. (You don't know what A7E means? see the first A7E here)


Now, what are the reaction of the people. I managed to talk to a few and got the following reaction:

Anti-MB Muslims: jaws dropped, and started imagining what the future will be like or what "genious" stuff those 75 or 80 MBs will discuss in parliament.

Christians: pale face. A very pale face. And 2 eye balls at least 5 cm out of their sockets!!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

BREAKING NEWS:

Al-Zarqawi May Be Among Dead in Iraq Fight

"U.S. forces sealed off a house in the northern city of Mosul where eight suspected al-Qaida members died in a gunfight — some by their own hand to avoid capture. A U.S. official said Sunday that efforts were under way to determine if terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was among the dead."

Please God, Please, Pleeeeeeeeeeease.


Another breaking news:

Report: Sharon to Quit His Likud Party

"Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has decided to quit his Likud Party and set up a new party for upcoming general elections, Army Radio reported late Sunday."

This is getting very interesting.

BBC:

"Egypt has arrested hundreds of members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood as voters elect a second batch of legislators, the Muslim group has said.

The BBC's Heba Saleh in Cairo says that the government appears to have been disturbed by the strength of support for the Muslim Brotherhood in the first round of the voting. "

It seems that the government wants to reduce the strength of the Muslim Brotherhood during this round. It is so sad that in order to reduce the strength of a devil, you have to use wrong devilish methods. This is the huge dilema facing many of us here.

Mammon & Allah

The first round of the parliament elections showed that there are 2 forces that shape the political landscape of Egypt: Mammon and Allah (or religion). The failure of the secular opposition, which was the cornerstone of the political revival of this year, showed that without Allah or money, very few political entities can fare well in Egypt, and in most poor developing countries.

Mammon:

That’s a powerful incentive for voters. In the elections last week, the “price of a vote” exceeded 500 Egyptian pounds ($86) in some areas. An elections monitor told me that when he asked a large group of voters standing idly outside the polling station whether they voted or not, they informed him that they postponing their voting for a while until the “price” increases even more.

In addition to the government’s powerful apparatus, money is the main weapon in the NDP’s (Mubarak’s party) arsenal. Businessmen and entrepreneurs in Egypt have to forge good relations with the government in order to facilitate their business as well as gain power and influence. Several heavyweight businessmen make up the ranks of the NDP and they use their money, businesses, and government affiliation in order to win.

Mammon is not only a weapon for the NDP, other rich independents use it as well. That was the case of Shahenaz el Nagar. She is a female, doesn’t use Allah, yet she has a lot of cash. Even though females don’t get elected that easily here, El Nagar managed to buy her seat in the parliament.

Allah:

Another powerful weapon, used mostly by the Muslim Brotherhood and believe it or not by some NDP candidates whenever they face a strong MB opponent. Allah cannot operate in a vacuum, the MB or their surrogates have to utilize external factors if Allah were to carry them to power. These factors include: the religious wave sweeping Egypt, the harsh economic situation that has brought the middle class to its knees, the failure of the Mubarak regime in meeting the magnificent needs of Egyptians. These 3 factors are the gas in the MB’s car. Allah is the car itself.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Big Pharaoh's Top 10 Countries

1. United States 71.5 %
2. Egypt 5.5 %
3. Canada 5.0 %
4. United Kingdom 3.9 %
5. Australia 1.7 %
6. Germany 1.3 %
7. France 1.0 %
8. Netherlands, The 0.8 %
9. Italy 0.8 %
10. Israel 0.8 %

Bush Rejects Calls for Iraq Withdrawal

To those democrats who call for an abrupt withdrawal: you're stupid, period. Saigon, Beirut, and Somalia should have taught you better.

82 Die in Attacks on Iraq Mosques, Hotel

Thousands of Jordanian demonstrated against the terrorists bombings in Amman. That's good news since it's a very very rare thing in the Middle East. Now, when will we see demonstrations against the daily massacre of innocent Iraqis by the same terrorists who struck Jordan.

Hello! Terrorists Desecrated the Quran

"Suicide bombers struck in eastern Iraq and the capital on Friday, killing at least 74 Shiite worshippers near the Iranian border and eight Iraqis at a hotel — the second attack against a compound housing Western media and contractors in less than a month.

At sunset, hours after the nearly simultaneous bombings of two mosques in the border town of Khanaqin, dozens of people were still searching for relatives and friends. Others collected shredded copies of the Muslim holy book, the Quran."

Will we see demonstrations against this desecration of the Quran by terrorists? Most probably not. Why? Because of the almighty H factor: hypocrisy.



Poll Results

















Christians and Athiests/Agnostics love The Big Pharaoh!


Situation back to normal in France after riots: police

"Only" 98 vehicles were burned today!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Saudi Embassy Lies
(scroll down for updates)

Reader Jonas emailed the Saudi embassy to protest against what happened to high school teacher Muhamed al-Harbi. And that was their reply:

"Thank you for your e-mail. Al-Harbi's crime was not that he opposesterrorism - whoever reported that is not telling the truth. Opposingterrorism is a good thing."

Ummm, well, what was al-Harbi's crime then? Can you please inform us of the crime he committed, the crime that lead to this terrible punishment? It seems that the Saudi Embassy in the USA didn't read the report of the SAUDI OWNED English paper Arab News.

The Washington Times has a report here.

Please keep those calls and emails going.

Saudi Embassy in USA

(202) 342-3800

email: info@saudiembassy.net

Saudi Embassy in Great Britain (London)

Tel: +44 (0)20 7917 3000

e-mail: ukemb@mofa.gov.sa

Saudi Embassy in Canada

Phone: (001) 613 237 4100

ryadh@dfait-maeci.gc.ca

Update: Here is the Saudi Embassy's reply to Jonas second email:

"Please be advised Arab News is not owned by the Saudi government. It is privately owned. I have not seen the article you referred to, but I will try to find it."

Ummm, so the Saudi embassy wants to tell us that Saudi has private owners of media who can publish and report whatever they want. Hallelujah, Saudi has free press!!

It seems that the embassy did in fact find out the article that details the true story of the brave Muhamed al-Harbi. How did I know they found the article? They blocked the Arab News site! I thought Arab News was private!

Update: After a period of time when Arab News couldn't be accessed, the site is up again. You can read al-Harbi's story here.

Booze To Stay in Algeria

Islamist members of parliament in Algeria failed to pass a law banning alcohol sales and consumption in Algeria. That gives us a fore taste to the debates we'll witness in our new parliament that will include a sizable number of Muslim Brotherhood seats. Their debates and proposed laws revolve around booze, music clips, music concerts, and the lower part of a women. The upper part is not that important to these guys. Well, I mean the upper part above the breasts. Ops, I'm sorry. The upper part is also important. These dumbasses say that Allah will throw a girl in hell if she met him with uncovered hair, so I guess they do care about the upper part after all.

It's gonna be a very interesting parliament indeed.

Source: Al Arabiya (Arabic)

AAAAAA77777EEEEE (for the second time)



AP:

"Candidates affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest Islamic fundamentalist party and its most powerful opposition movement, appeared to be making gains. Early results said Brotherhood candidates won at least 31 seats, with 43 for the ruling National Democratic Party."

We still have to wait for the "official" results but there is no doubt that the MB will win big this time. But if the "31 seats" number is true, I'll be a very sad person with a very wretched soul. And that's still stage 1, we have 2 stages to go!!

31 seats! A77777eeeeee.

Earthquake in Heliopolis



I just heard on the news that there has been an earthquake in Heliopolis, a beautiful residence area built a hundred years ago by the Belgian entrepreneur the Baron Empain (pictured above). The buildings there are just splendid, designed by masterful European architectures. Heliopolis is one of my favorite parts in Cairo.



The news indicates that the earthquake was a result of the rapid movement of Baron Empain's skeleton inside his tomb. It appears that the Baron was very disturbed and agitated after he heard that the MB are most likely to win in the Heliopolis area. Poor Empain!

The MB so far have secured one of Heliopolis' seats (provided that the government won't change that). And it looks as if there will be yet another re-run for the second seat.

The MB flared well in the Heliopolis area for 2 reasons:

1. Heliopolis has a very low turnout. Its anti-MB Muslim and Christian residents don't give a hoot about politics. I hope that changes in 2011.

2. The area is lumped up with Nasr City in the same voting district. Nasr City is a new residential area that houses many of those Egyptian who went and worked in the Gulf area during the oil boom and later came back with some money and a brain contaminated with the terrible kind of Islam practiced there. These people adhere to MB ideology. In addition, Nasr City also incorporates slum areas where the MB do have support.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Brave Man to Be Whipped!

Saudi officials think the US media portrays the kingdom in a very negative way and doesn't highlight the anti-terror efforts of the theocracy. Well, it is very hard for Americans and the world to have a positive outlook towards Saudi especially after Saudi courts sentences a high school professor to three years in prison and 750 lashes — 50 lashes per week for 15 weeks. The teacher's crime? He was a staunch enemy of terrorists.

Please read the full story of Muhamed al-Harbi at The Religious Police.

Now, why not do something that might help al-Harbi, or at least do something to tell the Saudi authorities, who care so much about their image in the US, that the world is watching? Please give the Saudi embassy a call (or send an email) and tell them that Saudi, the Arab/Muslim world, and the entire world need people like al-Harbi. This guy doesn't deserve to be whipped!

Saudi Embassy in USA

(202) 342-3800

email: info@saudiembassy.net

Saudi Embassy in Great Britain (London)

Tel: +44 (0)20 7917 3000

e-mail: ukemb@mofa.gov.sa

Abdolkarim Released

Egyptian blogger Abdolkarim has been released after 18 days behind bars. He posted a short entry on his blog saying that he will tell us about what happened to him and that he thanks everyone who stood beside him even if he/she didn't share his thoughts. Of course, those who helped Abdolkarim include a lot of non-Egyptians who took the time to email or call the Egyptian embassies around the world.

I will keep you posted with his new entries.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Syria: A Better Egypt?

My mother just came back from a trip to her native land Syria. It was her first visit to the country of her ancestors. She brought lots of yummy Syrian sweets to satisfy my sweet tooth. I also got a couple of handmade woolen pullovers.

She kept describing the natural beauty she saw and the jolly spirit of the Syrians. Then she said something very remarkable. She went on to tell us about something that drew her attention on Damascus’ streets.

“Girls wearing tight jeans and tight tops were walking freely without getting verbally harassed on the street. That reminded me of Cairo back in the 60s when we used to wear whatever we want even in downtown Cairo. It is true that many, if not most, of Syrian girls were wearing the head cover, yet those who chose to wear the tight jeans didn’t get the sexually motivated comments Egyptian men like to spew” she said.

In addition, she told me that liquor stores were displaying their products freely on the frontal view of their shops. In Egypt, many liquor stores prefer to do their business discreetly especially if they exist in a neighborhood that doesn’t really welcome their presence.

Just like Egyptians, she said the Syrians were extremely hospitable and always made sure you never leave their house without filling your stomach with their delicious food. It was during a dinner invitation when she met a prominent official of Syria’s national television. She later discovered that this person was Christian. A Christian occupying an important position in Egypt’s national television is an unthinkable thing here.

I see a lot of similarities between Egypt and Syria. Both were ruled by military dictators. Both countries are relatively poor with overpopulation. In addition, as a result of poverty and unemployment, a religiosity wave swept through both countries making the Muslim Brotherhood the most prominent opposition to the secular regimes in both nations. Yet if my mother’s stories were true and accurate, I can’t help but wonder about why she felt something different in Syria. I really don’t have an answer now but I will try to find out.

Update: Alif has been to Syria and he posted this comment:

In my visit to Syria in August 2004, I had noticed all of this and more, since I toured many cities and towns.Not only do people respect each other's private space, they are also noiseless!Imagine walking in a souq were everything is sold and bought and not hearing voice? not a vulgarity, not a call, not a loud occasional phrase.

In a city like Hama for example, don't dream of seeing the colour of a woman's dress. Everyone is dressed in coats (yes in August), in the hometown of MB.

But nevertheless, in every city, town and village, you can't, no matter hard you strain your eyes to notice, find garbage or piles of trash. you can literally sleep on the street anywhere and stand up as clean as you were, after merely dusting your cloths.

Every house, no matter how poor in some poor village in the mountain, is clean; By poor house here I mean a room or two that are used for sleeping at night and for living after packing the matrices at day.

A magnificent country.Under the surface of accepting the other (and there are lots of OTHERS in Syria) there is an unspoken air of weary anticipation, however.We'll see what will happen. Hopefully the best.




Re-run Elections Tomorrow

Tomorrow will witness the re-run elections of stage 1 of the parliamentary elections. The game will be mainly between the National Democratic Party (Mubarak party) and the Muslim Brotherhood candidates, and between the NDP and other independent candidates.

Given how the government exerted its full control over the results of last Wednesday, it won't be a surprise if they did exactly the same thing again. My predictions of the coming parliament are as follows:

- The NDP will hold the majority of the seats as we all anticipate.
- The government will allow the MB to win more seats this time. The MB know that very well and it's part of their agreement with the government.


The larger number of MB seats in the parliament will be an enough proof that the coming parliament is "representative".




Please take 2 seconds to answer the question of the poll.

EU offers France $80m to quell riots

"The European Union has offered France 50 million euros ($A80.27 million) to help it tackle problems in its suburbs that have provoked unrest, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso says."

Do you guys remember when the EU press made fun of the US for taking Katrina donations?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

You have to read this. Can't say anything more.

Inspite of the "curfew"

French Police Clash With Youths in Lyon

I blame Mississippi governor Haley Barbour. Isn't Lyon in Mississippi?

meanwhile in Belgium

About 60 vehicles have been burned in Belgium in the past week, including more than a dozen already over the weekend.

I blame anything American!

Friday, November 11, 2005

I'm Still the Boss Here, Says Regime

We all know the Muslim Brotherhood candidates managed to do so well in stage 1 of the parliament elections. Several media outlets reported that the MB managed to obtain several seats in key areas. Well, the government is not letting that happen yet.

The "official" numbers indicate that many MBs who did well will have to go through a second election with National Democratic Party members. In fact, only 4 MBs managed to secure a seat last Wednesday. The others will have to go through the second elections.

Our parliament elections system entails that only candidates who managed to win a 50%+1 majority will secure a seat without going through the second elections which are literaly called "repetitions". It is very clear that a lot of ballots were rigged so that the MB won't obtain the seats that voting gave them even though it is expected that the MB will increase their share of the parliament during these elections.

If these elections were to point out something, then it has to be the weakness of the secular and liberal (reformist/progressive) parties. These entities have a long way to go and a lot of very hard work to do before influencing the masses. That would be very hard simply because these guys don't have "Allah" and the "Quran" by their side. The MB do.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

AAAAA7777EEEEE






That's what I have been saying yesterday after knowing some results of the first stage of the parliament elections. "A7e" is pronounced as "Aahe. The "7" sounds like a strong H and this letter is not found in the English alphabet. "A7e" means "darn" or "damn", you say it when you hear something you don't like. There is another 3 letter word but its a bit obscene, let us be polite on this blog!

So why was I saying "A7e" or "Aahe"? Because the Muslim Brotherhood managed to win unexpected seats yesterday in Cairo. And guess what? They even won in my area! They are not expected to take over the parliament, but in yesterday's "medium free" elections, the MB are expected to double if not triple their seats in parliament after stage 2 and stage 3.

Another big surprise was the loss of Ayman Nour in his own district! He lost to a member of the National Democratic Party (Mubarak's party). I am not sure what effect will that have on his newly formed party, we'll have to wait and see. Also, Mounir Abdoul Nour, one of Al Wafd's heavyweight lost as well.

Anyway, I said the biggest "A7e" when I discovered a poll on Masrawy.com, Egypt's number one web portal. The question asked the visitors about whom they will vote for? The majority said that they will not vote (the majority of Egyptians don't have a voting card). Yet the majority of voters said that they will vote for the "religious streams".

Q: Who will you vote for in the parliament elections:

NDP: 12.358%

Religious Streams: 34.870%

Opposition parties: 9.319%

Independents: 7.749%

I won't vote: 35.705%

Now, that's a big "A7e" guys. A very big one indeed.

Well, I consider myself to be a victim of democracy's spread in the "wider Middle East", this is why I am now 100% positive that I need a Plan B if the shit hits the fan in my homeland. I cannot continue living peacefully in the midst of my compatriots' religious fantasies. I know very well that my compatriots have to taste the MB one day or another, but I am sorry to say that I am not willing to go through this experiment.

I am currently in the process of convincing my family of emigration. This is our Plan B.

So, take a deep breath ladies and gentlemen and say after me: AAAAHHHHEEEAAAAAA





Analysis

Now, what do these elections tell us? They show that the government wanted to convey to the world, and especially the US, that it held a free parliament elections. "See, the Muslim Brotherhood, our main and probably only viable opposition, won a good number of seats, we held free elections as you demanded Mr. Bush." That might be the sentence Mubarak will tell Bush during their next telephone conversation.

There was a clear sense of facilitation and alliance between the ruling NDP and the MB. The MB enjoyed stuff they never had in a very long time. They were free to hold street rallies, fill Egypt with their original posters, and use their controversial slogan "Islam is the solution". Only a stupid person will say that there wasn't some sort of cooperation between the 2 rivals.

Nevertheless, I am not claiming that Cairo wil turn into a Kandahar tomorrow. However, we can anticipate a number of crazy laws to be passed through the coming parliament. In addition, political Islam has definitely entered the official political life of Egypt. Thanks to the government.






Our Technician Offers Analysis

Today I had this conversation with the technician of our company.

BP: Hey, you heard the results?
T: No
BP: the MB won big gains. Their guy in our area won as well. We will get screwed.
T: Great..let them fix the country. I hope this guy fix it.
BP: I am telling you we will get screwed.
T: No..they are people of Allah. May Allah bless them.
BP: People of Allah??? These guys use religion for their political objectives.
T: Don't say this Sir. I am very upset with you now. May Allah reward them for their work.

And he left the room.

Well, the problem is that we are currently witnessing a religious tsunami in Egypt. The current economic situation and the political stagnation is leading people towards religion and so they are more opt to believe any candidate who will quote a verse or two out of the Quran. We are the exact opposite of Iran. In Iran, the youth there are running away from religion even though they are facing the same poverty and stagnation we're in. The Iranian youth are running away because religion is ruling them and its doing a shitty job.

Now, my technician needs to taste the full rule of the MB. The problem is, I'm not willing to wait till Mr. Technician get convinced that mixing religion with politics is like mixing strawberry jam with mashed potatoe.




Aqad Seriously Injured in Amman


On a different note. World renowned Syrian born director Moustafa El Aqad was seriously injured in the terrorist attack in Amman, Jordan yesterday. Among Aqad's most famous works is The Message and Lion of the Desert. Both movies starring Anthony Queen.

Source: Filbalad (Arabic)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Why you should always read The Big Pharaoh?

Do you remember when I asked you this question? I said that you should read the Big Pharaoh because he offers analysis that often turns out to be true.

Well, it happened again. Ever since Michael Jackson moved to Bahrain, I had this strong feeling that he won't live in the US again because he is afraid lest new charges rise up again. It's a pity I didn't post about how I felt.

Today the AP reported that Michael's father says his son will come back to the United States, but it's unlikely the King of Pop would ever make it his home again.

Now, remember many years ago when Michael settled a case with a family after paying millions? And he got out of the recent case as a result of hiring a multimillion dollar attorney. What guarantees that another kid won't speak up especially since 2 jurors said they regret Michael acquittal?

Michael Jackson's case should shed light on a major deficiency in the US justice system which is the use of money. If Michael was an average guy, he wouldn't have been able to hire such a skilled attorney and get acquitted despite the evidence he faced.

Abdolkarim's Gets Media Attention

El Destoor, a popular opposition weekly newspaper in Egypt, reported the news of Abdolkarim's arrest. As typical of Egyptian/Arab media, there was a twist in the story. The paper, which is staunchly anti-Mubarak, said that the blogger was arrested because the government didn't like how he reported the events of Alexandria (the riots over the church play) and that it considers some of his writings to be "off the script". The paper didn't mention that Abdolkarim's posts against religion might be a reason for his arrest.

I am sure the paper didn't mention the above fact because it knows many people won't have any sympathy for Abdolkarim. Unfortunately, years of dictatorship and the current wave of foul religiosity have made many in our society immune to one of the basic elements of liberal democracy: freedom of speech.

On other hand, it was so encouraging to notice that many of those in the blogosphere who support Abdokarim's release do not agree with his views. There is hope I guess.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Good News For Americans & Joooooz

I've good news for Americans and Jews, another member joined your club. The French have just joined the "disliked list" of many in this region. I've been reading comments written by people here about the France Intifada and the vast majority are very critical of France. It has been called "racist, unfair, hater of Islam, builder of the Demona nuclear plant in Israel".

Americans and Joooooz, pardon s'il vous plait, move aside a little, you've got company.

Al Hayat: Syria Sending Signs of a "New Equation"

It seems that pressure is working on the isolated Syrian regime. Respected Pan-Arab daily paper Al-Hayat said that Syria is sending signs and signals indicating that it is willing to change its behavior. This change will result in a new approach towards Lebanon, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and Iraq.

Three things are needed from Syria:

1. Leave Lebanon alone.

2. Help Mahmoud Abbas and stop undermining his authority by supporting terrorists against Israel.

3. Stop or at least try to stop the infiltration of terrorists into Iraq and terminate any terrorist operations and logistics insdie Syria.

I am a firm believer that the Assad regime should stay and that the US and Europe should work on pressuring the regime and not changing it. A regime change in Syria means the accention of the terrible Syrian Muslim Brotherhood to power. There is currently no secular or non-radical alternative to the Assad regime.

If the Syria regime delivered on the above 3 issues, it should be pressured to adopt measures towards a more open system, just like what is happening in Egypt.

Source: Al-Hayat (Arabic)

First Death in France Intifada

"The first fatality was identified as 61-year-old Jean-Jacques Le Chenadec. He was trying to extinguish a trash can fire Friday at his housing project in the northeastern Paris suburb of Stains when an attacker caught him by surprise and beat him into a coma, police said. "

I blame Israel. I blame Bush

Intifada Might Spread to Belgium and Germany

I blame Karl Rove

N.B. France, Belgium, Germany opposed the war in Iraq. Still, I blame Bush!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

What I Suspected Came True

Committte to Protect Bloggers:

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights has spoken to Abdolkarim's aunt. She said Abdelhadi Seliman, Karim's brother, was told at the Bab Sharqi police station that his brother is, in fact, currently being detained. There are two detention centres in the vicinity of Alexandria, but it is not clear yet which one he is in. Human rights activists in Egypt think that by detaining Abdolkarim, State Security is protecting itself from the results of whatever trouble he may find himself in by clashing with the Islamist Fundamentalists in his neighborhood. They also said the best chance for Abdolkarim is to get him out of "emergency-law" detention and into a court to be tried for "religious contempt," for which he may receive a sentence of between six months and five years. The activists are hopeful that his young age and the recent sectarian strife events in his neighborhood would result in a short sentence. Abdolkarim, they say, is not coming out this year.

As Amr has said, "While the activists have their estimations, we bloggers live in a free world." In other words, we do not need to wait for common wisdom to play itself out.

In addition to the emails bloggers are sending to Egyptian embassies and consulates in their countries, it would be of benefit to put a petition for signing on the web, directed at the Egyptian Minister of Interior General Habib Ibrahim Habib El Adly Here is his email: moi1@idsc.gov.eg.

Technorati Tags: , ,

We will try to do this later today, but if anyone has the wherewithal to do it sooner rather than later, let us know.

'ello? Kin I spek wit Jeorge?

I couldn't stop laughting when I read this comment on the Little Green Footballs. The comment was to a post on the riots in France:

"Oh, to be a fly on the wall.

This might be wrong, but man can I just hear this in my head:

Ring, ring, ring.

Good evening, White House switch board.

(insert French accent) 'ello? Kin I spek wit Jeorge?

I am sorry sir, who are you trying to reach?

Jeorge, Jeorge Bush! The President.

I am sorry sir, he is not available, would like you like to leave a message?

This is Jacques Chirac, I am the President of la Republique Francaise, and I demand to spek to the President!

Um, sir, he really is not available- he is in Argentina.

Sacre bleu! Hokay, I will spek wit Sheney.

Please hold, sir.

(pleasant music)

Um, sir, he said he has nothing to say to you.

But, but, ee must spek wit me! I want eem to send the soldjers, again. Paree, she is burning.

Please hold, sir.

(pleasant music)

Sir, he told me to tell you that you will have to get the UN's permission to send troops in, and that you are exaggerating- Paris is not burning, the suburbs of Paris are burning, and the United States will not commit troops based on your faulty information.

But, but, ...

Thank you for calling the White House, sir. Good Night."

I love the ending!

Now, excuse me my dear French readers, I love you but your media has stripped American naked over Katrina. Now it's the Americans turn to laugh, even though I'm sure they wouldn't hesitate to save Paris one more time (am I correct here Americans?)


Canadian counter- terrorism investigators have dismantled a suspected terrorist cell in Toronto

It's all Canada's fault. Canada should end its occupation of Iraq NOW!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Egyptian Blogger Arrested
(scroll down for updates)

Egyptian blogger Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman who runs the blog Kareem Amer was arrested on October 26h from his home. According to his family, his arrest might be a result of his writings. His brother said that Abdolkarim has a tense relation with Islamists in his hometown of Alexandria. He added that the Islamists might be the ones behind filing a complaint against his brother.

I didn't know Abdolkarim's blog before. I visited it and discovered something very strange. Abdulkarim apparently comes from a Muslim background (he has a Muslim name) yet his writings contains remarks that attack Islam. His writings drew many negative comments on his blog.

Abdolkarim could be a convert to Christianity or someone who left the Muslim faith, and I was stunned when I saw that he posted his picture on his blog. Anyway, he will be in a very serious situation if a case was levied against him. If sent to court, the charge of "izderaa el adyaan" or "blaspheming religion" can be applied leading to his imprisonment.

Check out Manalaa blog and read the comments below (there are comments in English). You will notice that there are 3 types of comments: those against his arrest, those hailing the arrest of the "infidel", and those who disagree with Abdolkarim's opinions yet are against his arrest.

Update: Abdolkarim's story is picking up international attention.

Here is a report from the Jerusalem Post. And another comprehensive story from the Associated Press:

"It is the first security crackdown on an Egyptian blogger, a growing community that has flourished in Egypt over the last couple of years. "

Sandmonkey offers analysis here.

The bloggers campaign to free Abdelkarim:



Update: Committee to Protect Bloggers has updates here. Up till now, as far as I know, only the Jerusalem Post and the AP reported this story.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

AFP:

"Montasser al-Zayat, a former militant from Egypt's bloodiest Islamist group and ex-prison mate of Al-Qaeda's current eminence grise, is taking his battle against the regime to the ballot box.

He will face a myriad of other candidates, from the ruling National Democratic Party as well as several from an opposition coalition that includes the Wafd, leftist parties and the powerful Muslim Brotherhood.

"I wish I didn't have to compete against a member of the Muslim Brotherhood when we both believe Islam is the solution. I failed to convince them not to field a candidate there," he said.

But the former militant of the hardline Gamaa Islamiya (Islamic Group) didn't have only kind words for his rivals.

"The Brotherhood has not worked hard enough in parliament for the adoption of the Sharia," or Islamic law, he said."

Bad Muslim Brotherhoods, bad. They are not good Muslims!

"It's not like fire will engulf Egypt if we rule one day. Opposition will have its place if it's the will of the people," said Zayat.

You're right. Fire will not engulf Egypt, it will burn it.

"But Copts should stop asking for minority rights and to build more churches than they need. They are full-fledged partners in the state," he added in the same breath.

Because Copts are full-fledged partners in the state, they should stop asking for more chuches even if they thought those more chuches are needed. OK, I get the idea.


Alexandria, Yesterday and Today.

A must read article by Mona El Tahawy.

Her latest article on the same issue is here.

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