Monday, January 30, 2006
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- A Hamas leader asked the international community on Monday not to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority, insisting the money would go toward helping the Palestinian people and Hamas was willing to have its spending monitored.
''We in Hamas are ready to meet and have an open dialogue with the Quartet,'' he told a news conference in Gaza City. ''We assure you that all the money will be spent under your supervision.''
Oh, so now you're not the matcho man anymore. I once wrote about why the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is so powerful. I said that they depend on God and mammon. Without mammon, they can't reach out to people and tell them they're God's ambassadors on earth. Without mammon, Hamas wouldn't have managed to set up its massive social services network and provided services that the corrupt Fatah failed to provide.
So, Hamas shouldn't get a penny from the international community. If the international community is to respect the choice of the Palestinians, the choice of the international community should be respected as well.
It's so funny that those who told countless Palestinian youth that blowing themselves up in an Israeli shopping center will earn them a place in heaven are now concerned lest the donors turn off the tap. I mean, I am so upset with Hamas, they should have more faith than this!! (sarcasm)
On the cartoons
I have been thinking about what's going on regarding the cartoons that appeared in an independent Danish newspaper. I have the following remarks:
1. What escalated the issue these days? The cartoons were published over a month and a half ago. The reaction back then was not as extreme as it is today. I even posted about this issue on December 21st, in other words, a whole month ago.
2. The reaction of the Arab/Muslim public points out the fact that we still do not know what a free press is. In our countries, we are used to see total government control over the media. Even our so called independent media (Al Jazeerah, Al Arabiyah, etc) are linked to one government or another. We believe that the Danish government can somehow punish the newspaper or issue a degree banning it from publishing what we consider as blasphemous stuff. The truth is, even if the Danish government is against what the paper did, and I am sure they are, they still cannot do anything to Jyllands-Posten.
3. The cartoons issue brought back the debate of whether Muslims can in fact integrate within European societies and accept the values that Europe bleed for. In Europe, you can say that Jesus had sex with Mary Magdalene and get away with it. Europeans expect their Muslim immigrants to behave the same way. In fact, they should behave the same way if they want to move to prosperous Europe. If they don't want to behave the same way they could just simply stay at home!
4. Muslims have the right to protest against the newspaper by writing emails and boycotting it. However, they should not demand that it issues an apology or expect the Danish government to implement some sort of censorship on the paper. In addition, they have the right to boycott Danish products, yet I find this so naive because it only shows how ignorant they are of the mechanics of a developed country where you can disagree with what someone says yet defend his/her right to say it even if what is being said is so outrageous and inflammatory. Besides, what if a single newspaper in all European countries published those 12 cartoons. Will we boycott Europe?!
5. The Jyllands-Posten case is one of those cases that you hate yet you cannot do anything about it. I really wish it hadn't published such terrible cartoons. Even if the case highlighted something in Denmark (the editor said “the cartoons were a test of whether the threat of Islamic terrorism had limited the freedom of expression in Denmark), it only widened the huge current gulf between Islam and the West. Muslims around the world believe that the Westerners have nothing to do except plotting against Islam. The Jyllands-Posten case gave us another reason to believe this myth.
6. I can't end the post without saying: when will we grow up?? The Da Vinci Code did not harm Christianity, 12 cartoons won't harm Islam either!!
After reiterating that I believe those cartoons were stupid, insulting, hurting, and lacked any intellectuality.
I still believe Jylland-Posten had the right to publish whatever it wants as long as it is not considered hate speech towards a particular people. The Prophet Muhammed is just like Alexander the Great, Jesus Christ, Moses, Buddha,Napoleon, Churchill, a historical figure subject to praise or criticism in any manner.
I also still believe Muslims need to grow up a little and pay attention to the more serious problems inflecting them. I would also like to remind them of a book currently being sold, The Da Vinci Code, that says Jesus had a love affair with Mary Magdalene. Christians around the world did not call for the boycott of an entire nation's products because a single book was written and published within the borders of this country. The church that used to burn its dissidents is doing nothing to The Da Vinci Code author. They grew up, when will you? For your info, the book did absolutely nothing to Christianity around the world.
For the above reasons I say it out loud
I encourage everyone to buy Danish products and compensate what might be lost as a result of the boycott.
For more info on Danish products go here.
To American consumers: Buy Arla Foods products, their US website is here.
I'm going to buy Lurpak butter tomorrow!
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Today I went to see Egypt play against Ivory Coast in the African cup of nations. Egypt won 3-1 after a spectacular game.
The stadium experience was a thrill. Wow, nothing like watching a game of soccer in a stadium with over 70,000 people cheering like crazy.
I am so glad Egypt won. We still have to wait for tomorrow's match between Cameroon and Congo to know whom we'll play against in the quarterfinals. I hope we meet Congo and not Cameroon.
To all fellow Egyptians: MABROUK (congrats) and Hossam Hassan is still the man!!!
Going up the stadium. Rushing to get a seat.
Waiting for the lights and the teams.
Lights are on
Ivory Coast team
Egyptian team warming up
Egypt player injured
Egyptian chickas leaving the stadium
Stadium after most people left.
Leaving the stadium
On the street
Last but not least, The Big Pharaoh. Sorry can't show my face!
Friday, January 27, 2006
Hamas was expected to fare well, but nobody expected a landslide victory, not even Hamas itself. The case of Palestine is not different from that of other countries in the region. Corrupt inept governments fail to serve the people who eventually turn to the Islamists whenever they get the chance to do so.
Fatah, the secular opponent of Hamas, is a huge dysfunctional and corrupt organization that failed to help the Palestinian people out of their misery and poverty. As a result, the humiliated people turned to religion and voted for the organization that never ruled them before. This scenario is common in almost all Arab countries including Egypt.
I hope the following 2 things happen:
1. I hope Fatah avoids joining a coalition government with Hamas. Let Hamas rule and bear the responsibility of its failures (or successes). Sensible figures within Fatah such as Mahmoud Dahlan should get their act together and see what went wrong.
2. I know this sounds crazy, but I do hope Israel releases Marawan Barghouti. Barghouti is a leader in Fatah who spoke against the Palestinian Liberation Organization. During the Intifada, it was widely believed that he was the leader of the Al Aqsa Brigades that copied Hamas and Jihad's tactics in killing Israeli civilians. However, Barghouti recognizes Israel's right to exist and calls for the creation of a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza.
Now why I would like to see Barghouti released from his 5 life terms he is currently serving? Because he is the only one who can counterbalance the power of Hamas and act as Fatah's new charismatic leader. I know Israel considers him to be a murderer. But hey, its war, previous murderers can become tomorrow's friends. Yasser Arafat engaged in terror, yet Israel accepted him as a peace partner back in the early 90s.
Besides, a "secular killer" is better than a "religious killer". A religious killer will kill you and think that by doing so he is drawing a grin on God's face. Now that's not so nice.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Islamic fundamentalists who oppose U.S. interests in the Middle East have benefited from the U.S. policy of promoting democracy, making significant gains in recent elections.
Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East expert at the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, says the United States has pressured Egypt, Iraq and the Palestinian territories to hold free elections.
"The pro-democracy effort has had the actual effect of strengthening fundamentalist movements," Katzman says.
Ladies and gentlemen, for the zillionth time I say: democracy is not just about ballot boxes and ballots and happy faces throwing pieces of paper in a box. Democracy cannot be separated from the values of liberal democracy, from the values that many of you take for granted. Values such as human rights, minorities rights, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to change religions, equality, women rights, and the seperation of religion and politics. Values that are found in Protestant America, Catholic Italy, Buddhist Korea, and Shinto Japan. These values won't arrive on our shores unless we experience religious reform, when Islam signs a peace contract with the year 2006 and not 1006. It's the same peace contract that Christianity in Europe signed. Religious reform was a main catalyst for the advancement of the West.
Apart from Lebanon, I don't smell any democracy in all these Middle East countries that just held elections. Some might say that the ballot box will eventually lead to the values of liberal democracy. That might be true, but unfortunately, I'm not really looking forward for that day. You know why? Because I'll be a dead man rotting in my grave when that happens. I just hope my children will see this day, when Muslim Egypt will adopt the same values that exist in Protestant America, Catholic Italy, Buddhist South Korea, and Shinto Japan.
VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI said in his first encyclical Wednesday that the Roman Catholic Church has a duty through its charitable work to influence political leaders to ease suffering and promote justice.
Benedict stressed that the state alone is responsible for creating a just society, not the church. But he said the church has the right and the duty to be involved in politics by helping "form consciences in political life and stimulate greater insight into the authentic requirements of justice as well as greater readiness to act accordingly, even when this might involve conflict with situations of personal interest."
Pope Benedict, we're having hard time convincing our "holy men" to keep their noses away from politics, so please don't tell me you have a duty to influence leaders. As far as my humble limited knowledge is concerned, I don't recall Jesus trying to influence Caeser!
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
A woman in niqab? A "conservative" woman trying not to entice men? A Gulf princess trying to hide from the public? A woman in black?
No..this girl is Michael Jackson coming out of a mall in Bahrain. Jacko didn't forget to cover up his son as well.
Come on you have to admit it, isn't he so much fun??
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Today I saw a very disturbing clip that I got by email. It appears that this chain email has been going around inboxes because I received the same clip twice. The video clip showed a popular call-in show that featured Sheikh Khaled el Gendy, a supposedly moderate preacher whom I admit I liked. That changed after I heard what he said.
A young kid around 5 years old called the show and asked Sheikh Khaled a very “smart” question. “Sheikh Khaled, is celebrating Christmas Haram (forbidden)?”. Khaled’s answer popped out my eye balls.
“You shouldn’t be celebrating Christmas. Instead of receiving gifts from Baba Noel (Santa Claus, Baba Noel literally means Father Noel) you should be receiving gifts from Baba Mohammed (Father Mohammed)” Khaled said. He then went on to explain how Christmas is not in Islam and that we shouldn’t mix up stuff and copy everything the West does! The show presenter himself was shocked and told him that it is OK for Muslims to enjoy the fun of the Christmas season just as it is OK for a Christian kid to play with Ramadan lanterns. Khaled won’t buy what he said.
Now the problem is not in just what Khaled said, but in how the kid’s parents made him ask such an ignorant stupid intolerant question live on TV. Now how will this kid look upon his Christian colleague when he goes to school tomorrow? Will he still play with the kid who celebrates something Sheikh Khaled said was “Haram”?
And what if Muslims brought a Christmas tree or accepted gifts from Santa? Do Mr. Khaled think God will get angry? And if God will in fact get pissed off, can Mr. Khaled kindly tell me how can I avoid meeting this person when I leave this life?!
Well Sheikh Khaled, let me tell you this: I celebrate Ramadan and Christmas and if Jews were still in Egypt I would be celebrating Hanukah as well. I do this because I am more tolerant than you, period.
Damn, and they say this guy is moderate and modern. Damn, I really don’t know where this country is heading to.
If you can understand Arabic, you can see the clip here.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Egypt's Hosni Mubarak Dies from Heart Stroke
Chaos Engulf Egypt Political Future
Fathi Sorour, president of the parliament, becomes acting president.
Mubarak's son Gamal announces his bid to run for president
Democracy advocates express their fear of transferring Mubarak's mantle to his son.
Saad Iddin Ibrahim (human rights and democracy advocate): These coming elections will be no different from the elections that Mubarak held. There won't be any democracy under the National Democratic Party.
Unknown group of military officers, calling themselves the Righteous Officers, order their units to occupy army bases around Egypt
Righteous Officers seize control of the Egyptian army and isolate the minister of defense.
RO units surround the parliament, the national TV, and presidential palaces.
Gamal Mubarak and his family flee Egypt to Qatar on a private jet belonging to businessman Ahmed Ezz.
RO in total control of Egypt. They declare their willingness to hold free elections and adopt a democratic system based upon Islamic principles.
RO leader Gamal Abdul Montasser visit the Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader.
"We were secret Muslim Brotherhood members when we were in the army under Mubarak yet the RO will not side with the Muslim Brotherhood during the coming elections" RO leader Montasser says.
Egypt witnesses first free elections
Muslim Brotherhood win Egypt elections
Gamal Abdul Montasser becomes Egypt's president.
Millions of Egyptians take to the streets to celebrate MB win
Secretary Rice applauds Egypt's democratic elections. Calls for the MB to respect rights and adhere to Egypt's peace treaty with Israel.
President Montasser assures that his government will respect human rights and rule according to Islamic principles.
Secularists shocked after Egypt elections.
Mantasser forms Shura Council to oversee Egypt legislation's adherence to Islam.
Secularists condemn Shura Council. 82% of Egyptians support Shura Council.
Islamic thinker and reformist Gamal al-Banna says dark days are ahead in Egypt
"Neither the holocaust nor even Hitler ever existed. Jews in Israel should move to Mozambique. Israel should be destroyed" says Mehdi Akef, spiritual leader of MB.
Israel Defence Force on high alert
Pro-Israel lobbies call for congress to terminate Egypt military aid
Mass exodus of Christians from Egypt
US terminate military aid
Egyptian blogger The Big Pharaoh leaves Egypt to Canada
Egypt young generation disillusioned by Egypt religious system
"There can't be any true freedoms without the elimination of the Shura Council and the separation of religion and politics" says Haitham Iddin Ibrahim, human rights and democracy advocate.
Shura Council bans books by secular Islamic thinker Sheikh Sayed Abdul Razek who announced that Islam is a religion only and not a religion and a state.
Head cover sellers run out of business as less Egyptian girls don the traditional head cover.
Is Allah Dead in Egypt?
Mosques use rock music and free sandwiches to draw worshippers
Massive demonstrations calling for a secular constitution in Egypt.
Egyptian quasi-democracy falls. Secular democratic state established.
World oldest blogger The Big Pharaoh dies. His body is buried in computer-shaped tomb on Nile's bank.
WASHINGTON - A top Republican lawmaker said Sunday that America must explore alternate energy sources to avoid being held hostage by Iran or by "wackos" in Venezuela — an apparent reference to Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's populist president.
Could someone applaud this man. I have stated before that the US is addicted to 2 things that have crippled US foreign policy options: oil and military bases. The oil has prevented the US from pressuring the Saudi govenrment in matters concerning terror and radicalism. Military bases have prevented the US from pressuring Qatar to fire Al Jazeerah's top management and replace it with an anti-terror and anti-radicalism management team.
The US administration decided to postpone Egypt's Free Trade Agreement deal because it is disappointment with my government's political reform especially after November's parliament elections. The US administration can really pressure the Egyptian government much more than Saudi Arabia or Qatar. We don't have enough oil to sell and we don't grant military bases.
GUELPH, Ontario (Reuters) -- Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin accused Conservative leader Stephen Harper of being a clone of the U.S. extreme right on Saturday, but polls showed Harper on track to defeat him in Monday's election.
Please Canadians, vote this idiot out of office tomorrow! It seems that defeated politicians can't find anything except ugly anti-Americanism to save their sinking ships.
An old Arab lived close to *New York* City for more than 40 years. One day he decided that he would love to plant potatoes and herbs in his garden, but he knew he was alone and too old and weak. His son was in college in Paris, so the old man sent him an e-mail explaining the problem:
"Beloved son, I am very sad, because I can't plant potatoes in my garden. I am sure, if only you were here, that you would help me and dig up the garden for me. I love you, your father."
The following day, the old man received a response e-mail from his son:
"Beloved father, please don't touch the garden. That is where I have hidden 'the *THING*.' I love you, too, Ahmed."
At 4pm the FBI and the Rangers visited the house of the old man and took the whole garden apart, searching every inch. But they couldn't find anything. Disappointed, they left the house.
The next day, the old man received another e-mail from his son:
"Beloved father, I hope the garden is dug up by now and you can plant your potatoes, that is all I could do for you from here; Your loving son Ahmed.
Friday, January 20, 2006
French President Jacques Chirac has said France would be ready to use nuclear weapons against any state which launched a terrorist attack against it.
Down with the unilateral warmonger Bush!!
Ops I mean Chirac!
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Youths try to halt church building in Egypt
ASSIUT, Egypt, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Egyptian police clashed overnight with a group of young men who had tried to stop Christians starting work on a new church in southern Egypt, a security source said on Thursday.
Twelve people were wounded in the clashes in the village of el-Udaysaat near the southern town of Luxor, about 500 km (300 miles) south of Cairo.
The Christians called the police when the group set fire to building materials with which they planned to turn a house into a church. They did not have official permission to build the church, the source said.
The problem is that it is literally impossible to build new churches in Egypt. Unlike building new mosques, the restrictions and red tape placed on building churches are crippling. So there had been several incidents where Christians just went ahead and worked on converting a house to a church since they can't obtain a permission to build a new church to serve the community they are in. In many of these cases, zealot Muslim radicals who consider it anathema for a church to be in their midst attack the site to halt the building of the church.
Egypt that once prided itself in the number of Jewish synagogues it had has now radicals tearing churches down. What a shame.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Arab media fall silent on Khaddam
There are signs that influential Arab media outlets have been instructed not to carry more statements by former Syrian Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam, who has called for the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad.
Several Saudi-owned outlets have not shown or published lengthy interviews that they have conducted with Mr Khaddam.
There has been much talk about the "independent" media that mushroomed in the Middle East during the past years. You know, channels such as Al Jazeerah, Al Arabiyah, etc. To a close observer, these TV channels and other media outlets are far from independent, they are all owned or partly financed by countries in the region. Al Jazeerah is financed by Qatar and closely follows what the Qatari government is expecting from it. The same goes with Al Arabiyah and Al Hayat newspaper, both have strong Saudi ties and so they think twice before messing up with Saudi's rulers.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
OK. No more pop-ups. I have removed the webstats. 34% of those who voted said that the pop-ups really bother them. If you still get a pop-up even after I removed both the counter and the webstat, please tell me so coz I'm gonna shoot myself!!
Monday, January 16, 2006
After blogs started to watch the media, it became like the dog below:
A good example of what I'm talking about is the picture below
The New York Times put this caption under this pic
Pakistani men with the remains of a missile fired at a house in the Bajur tribal zone near the Afghan border.
Correction: A picture caption on Saturday with an article about a U.S. airstrike on a village in Pakistan misidentified an unexploded ordinance. It was not the remains of a missile fired at a house.
Blogs: power to the people who were stuffed for so long by the MSM.
N.B. Please cast your vote in the poll.
Several people complained that they get pop-up ads when they log on to my blog. I have nothing to do with these ads. I don't even see them when I log on to the blog from any computer. So if you know the source of these ads and how to get rid of them please shout out.
Update: I've removed the counter. Please tell me if pop-ups are still there. I don't want to remove webstats because its a good tool for me to monitor traffic. I will remove it only if it does bother many people with pop-ups. So please tell me if you're still having problems with pop-ups.
Update: VOTE NOW
Please vote now for whether I should remove webstat in order to stop pop-ups or not. I'm going to remove webstat only if 20% or more said that pop-ups really bother them.
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Here are some of the pics I took when I was on vacation
On our way to Hurghada.
Windmills on the eastern desert of Egypt. I loved how they looked like when they were rotating.
The Gulf of Suez. The far mountains are in Sinai, on the other side of the Gulf. Check the map in my Jan 7th post.
Man made lake in El Gouna.
Seagull resort. The resort we stayed in in Hurghada.
The view from my hotel room. Isn't it awesome to see this view when you wake up every morning?! The pool was great but we prefered to swim in the sea. We have pools in Cairo yet no seas.
The beach. Tourists, mostly Russians, sunbathing. I have noticed that Hurghada gets a lot of Russian tourists. Sharm el Sheikh gets a lot of Russians but I saw more Russians in Hurghada. I saw shops with signs in the Russian language. I guess this might be because Hurghada is cheaper than Sharm el Sheikh.
Horse carriage turned into a motor carriage.
Marina at El Gouna
Boats that belong to foreigners and Egyptian movers and shakers.
Mama, I want this toy!!!
Miriam Fares, Lebanese pop singer held a concert at El Gouna. I was standing in the middle of the cheering throng, turned left, and saw Onsi Sawiris, Egypt's richest man, standing right beside me! Forbes magazine estimates his net worth to be $5.2 billion. Onsi's son Sameeh is the developer of El Gouna.
On our way back
This is just in:
Sources: Airstrike may have killed bin Laden's No. 2
(CNN) -- A CIA airstrike on a building in Pakistan may have killed Osama bin Laden's most-trusted aide, sources said.
The building where Ayman al-Zawahiri was thought to be is in Damadola, a small village near the Afghan border.
Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease let it be true.
I really want to buy one of these drones.
Update: al-Qaida Leader Not at Site of Airstrike
DAMADOLA, Pakistan - Al-Qaida's second-in-command was the target of a U.S. airstrike near the Afghan border but he was not at the site of the attack, two senior Pakistani officials said Saturday. At least 17 people were killed.
"Their information was wrong, and our investigations conclude that they acted on a false information," said a senior intelligence official. His account was confirmed by a senior government official, who said al-Zawahri "was not there."
That's so sad. Sad because Zawahiri is still on this planet and sad because of the people who lost their life. It is very probable that "sources" tend to give the CIA wrong information in order to get rid of people. They have done that in Afghanistan. People falsely claimed the presence of the Taliban or Al Qaeda so that the US army would strike a competing war lord or tribal chief.
It is also very probable that Pakistan's intelligence agency, that had excellent connections with al-Qaeda and the Taliban, would never allow Zawahiri to be killed so they won't upset the tribal areas on the Pakistan-Afghan borders. I remember reading that it was the Pakistani intelligence who helped some al-Qaeda figures to escape when Egyptian secret agents were close enough to capture or kill them in Pakistan. The Egyptian agents were after them after Zawahiri ordered the bombing of the Egyptian embassy in Pakistan.
I just came back home. I am EXHAUSTED. It was a long journey, 312 miles from Hurghada to Cairo. That might not be much to some but given my height, I find cars to be very unpleasant places to spend around 5 hours in.
There was a slight change in our plans. We stayed in an awesome resort in Hurghada (15.5 miles south of El Gouna, see map below) instead of El Gouna. We went back and forth between Hurghada and El Gouna.
I took a number of good pics. I'm too tired to upload them now from my camera, gonna do that tomorrow.
Thanks for all who sent greetings.
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Happy Eid (feast) to all Muslims and Merry Christmas to all Christians celebrating it today.
I have a week off because of eastern Christmas and Eid el Adha. I'm on my way to El Gouna on the Red Sea. I'll go from Cairo to the Gulf of Suez then to El Gouna (see map). It gonna be a long drive.
Check out El Gouna
Gonna take lots of pics. See you all next week.
I went to see a movie today, "Daam el Ghazal" or "The Deers' Blood". I heard the movie delt with the issue of terrorism and how the slums of Egypt were the breeding grounds for the many terrorists who hit Egypt back in the early 90s.
I went anticipating a great movie that addressed what we're witnessing yet I was greatly disappointed. The movie lacked a sensible storyline, its makers failed in transforming such an important and interesting topic into a message that people return home with. The viewer would leave the cinema not knowing what the movie makers wanted to say. What a waste!
Anyway, I took pics of City Stars, the huge complex the houses the movie theater.
That's where I had dinner. Sbarro, the popular Italian food chain.
Banner advertising Amr Diab's latest album. Amr is Egypt and the Arab world top singer.
OK, I can stay forever here. The one and only Cinnabon. I love my cinnamon to have lots of dark chocolate syrup ontop.