Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Dubai ports firm enforces Israel boycott
The parent company of a Dubai-based firm at the center of a political storm in the US over the purchase of American ports participates in the Arab boycott against Israel, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
"Yes, of course the boycott is still in place and is still enforced," Muhammad Rashid a-Din, a staff member of the Dubai Customs Department's Office for the Boycott of Israel, told the Post in a telephone interview.
US law bars firms from complying with such requests or cooperating with attempts by Arab governments to boycott Israel.
Oh no. Is this is the final nail in the coffin of the Dubai ports deal?
I am so disappointed at how this issue developed. A recent poll found that 70% of Americans are against the deal. A quick look at the cartoons published in American print media show how nowadays anything Arab is being associated with Osama Bin Laden. And what have we done to correct this? Nothing.
Update: It seems that Dubai ports does in fact deal with a large shipping company in Israel.
AgoraVox is a cool cool cool project that started in Europe. It looks like the European version of Pyjamas Media. The project enables regular internet users to become "citizen journalists" who report news from their local areas. This blog is one of their reporters. You can also listen to blog posts!! That's the coolest thing. I loved listening to what I wrote. Check out AgoraVox here.
Arab League chief says cartoons part of anti-Islam battle
AMMAN - Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa on Monday considered the Prophet Mohammed’s cartoons as part of a “battle against Islam” rather than a symptom of conflict among civilizations, and urged Arab parliamentarians to put pressure on the United Nations to come up with a “strict” solution to this problem.
“I don’t think the issue pertains to an inter-civilization conflict. We have to mention the issue in its real perspective - it is a battle against Islam,” Mussa said at the opening session of the Arab Parliamentary Union (APU) conference at the Dead Sea resort in Jordan.
I just can't figure out whether these words were actually said by Amr Mousa or by the radical imam of the mosque in the slum outside Cairo. Mousa's comments will only add to the radicalism we're suffocating from and fuel the all-the-world-wants-to-destroy-Islam conspiracy that 99.99% of the people believe in.
And what kind of "strict" punishments does he want? Burn the cartoonists at stake? Well, Mr. Mousa, Europe left that history behind and they won't return back to it just to appease you (ummmmmm I hope they won't!).
Amr Mousa knows he is popular in the region because of his big mouth. Yet his big mouth will only keep us in this terrible abyss of stupidity and ignorance.
A poll was carried out in several nations and found that the unanimous majority in these countries believed the war in Iraq has increased the threat of terrorism.
There are other interesting findings though.
In Iraq itself, opinion is evenly divided with 49% favoring an early withdrawal and the same number wanting US-led forces to stay.
I've always said that Iraq was the most pro-war country in the world. The vast majority wanted Saddam out and the vast majority welcomed coalition troops as liberators. However, fatal mistakes by the US, the ruthlessness of the terrorists, and other reasons have squandered the "joy" of Saddam's removal and the goodwill the US could have garnered from Iraqis.
The poll also found out that 74% of Iraqis say that Saddam's removal was the right decision. That's amazing. Despite all the daily hardships, such a huge percentage still believed it was worthwhile to remove him.
However in Iran, perhaps surprisingly, support for the US-led forces remaining jumped from 36% to 74% in response to an Iraqi request.
Now that's interesting. It is time for us to learn how to differentiate between the Iranian people and their rulers. They are the complete opposite. Opposite in everything. They share nothing in common. Even religion, the Iranians, especially the youth, are becoming less and less religious.
To download the survey results click here.
Israel will rethink its bilateral relations with Russia after it invited Hamas to Moscow. In addition, Israel is also concerned about Russia compromise position regarding the Iranian nuclear issue.
It appears that Vladimir Putin longs for the days when the Soviet Empire was a major player in the Middle East and often sided with whomever the West opposed. I don't believe Putin is a friend of Hamas nor Iran, yet he only wants to increase Russia's political influence in the region and simply make his country more important and influential through relations with hated entities. By opening a dialogue channel with Hamas, he will make Russia the only country the US and Europe are forced to turn to in case they wanted to send "undertable" messages to Palestine's new leaders. The same goes with Russia's relation with the Iranian Mullahs.
Putin still believes Russia today can still have the same influence the Soviet Union once had. Or at least a small part of it.
Another thing. By being the first European country to invite Hamas, Putin befriended and extended his hand to a very popular Islamist organization in the Muslim world. This action will intercede for him when he fights his own Islamists in the south.
No one can say he's not being smart especially with the tremendous influence Islamists have across the region.
I just finished reading The Davinci Code.
Blasphemy!!!! How dare him Dan Brown say that about Jesus who is revered by both Christians and Muslims? Where are the protests, the riots, the fire bombs, the flags burning??
It is worth mentioning that the book was banned by the Lebanese church yet I heard it is still available there anyway. The Arabic edition of the book was banned in Egypt. The government might have done so to avoid yet another problem that involves religion or simply at the request of the church in Egypt.
Yesterday I went to buy some stuff from Metro supermarket. The Danish products boycott sign was still at the entrance. I went to the butter section to see if anything changed. The sign announcing the removal of Lurpak butter was gone. And right in the middle of all Dutch and French butter I found a box full of small Lurpak cubes sheepishly displayed and saying "I'm baaaaack".
Monday, February 27, 2006
CAIRO, Egypt - Archaeologists discovered a pharaonic sun temple with large statues believed to be of King Ramses II under an outdoor marketplace in Cairo, Egypt's antiquities chief said Sunday.
This is amazing. They just discovered an untouched tomb in Luxor (south of Egypt) and now this temple in Cairo. They're still uncovering ancient Egyptian stuff after all those years of excavation!
It appears the Bill O'Reilly has thrown in the towel of Iraq. During the February 20 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Bill O'Reilly suggested that the United States "hand over everything to the Iraqis as fast as humanly possible" because "[t]here are so many nuts in the country -- so many crazies -- that we can't control them." O'Reilly then claimed that the "big mistake" was actually "the crazy-people underestimation."
Ladies and gentlemen, if Bill O'Reilly has thrown in the towel then we have to presume that Iraq is getting pretty desperate. I have a way out though:
1. Withdraw all US and coalition troops to Kurdistan in the north. Declare the creation of the state of Kurdistan.
2. Turkey will go nuts and remind the US that it has betrayed US-Turkish relations. Remind Turkey that Turks are one of the most anti-American people in the world and a single Kurd is more pro-US than a 70 year old stars and stripes banner waving farmer in rural Oklahoma.
3. Support rebel movements in Iran. Arabs, Baluchis, Kurds, all these hate the Mullahs. Finance them. Drop weapons from the air. Keep the Mullahs busy so they won't occupy South Iraq and swallow it (along with its oil fields). The Iranian people will not be happy with the US creating internal trouble in Iran? Well, with all my due respect to the Iranian people, the world can't wait any longer until they start a second revolution to overthrow the Mullahs.
4. Take the 3 brothers of Iraq The Model, Zeyad, and the other bloggers out of Iraq and into the US or Kurdistan. If they refused, sedate them, put them in a bag, and transport them. Don't forget their families though.
5. Release Saddam Hussein and issue an apology letter to the great tamer of Iraq.
6. Bring lots of beer, pizza, and enjoy the civil war waging down there.
My word to Mr. O'Rielly: sir, Iraq is not the only country that has crazies. We have crazies here to. So please, if you have access to the Bush administration, just beg the president to halt his "democracy crusade" a little. Just ask him to pause a little and ponder if there is any other possible way to develop the greater Middle East besides slamming a ballot box in our faces. Ummm, just tell him that you can't have elections while crazies are anticipated to be the biggest victors. There must be some other way. If not, ask him to sedate me, put me in a bag, and transport me to a place where I won't find those crazies.
(/above post written out of anger)
Sunday, February 26, 2006
El-Sallab got a harsh worded letter from an alumna who said that he gives AUC a bad name. Check it out.
The Iranian anti-semitic and holocaust cartoons website is up and running. We're still awaiting the anti-semitic and Holocaust cartoons done by Jews themselves. Let us see who will outdo and other.
The Iranians behind the website think the US will close it down. Well, it seems they're not aware of the fact that the world is not run by Iranian Mullahs law.
Egypt's most eligible bachelor Gamal Mubarak, son of President Mubarak, will get engaged to Khadega el-Gammal, daughter of contractor Mahmoud Yahya el-Gammal and a graduate of the American University in Cairo (AUC).
Dream no more Egyptian girls, Jimmy has been taken.
Words from people at AUC indicate that Khadega is a hottie. Well, isn't that an enough reason to welcome Gamal as future prez? It is for me! hehehehe.
(hattip for this news: Tomanbay)
Khadega with her mom. Khadega is on the left.
I haven’t seen the movie Paradise Now and so I won’t comment on it. However, I want just to discuss the Palestinian suicide bomber or the PSB and his/her effect on our socities.
First, there is a current controversy regarding the country origins of this Oscar nominated movie. Well, this movie is Palestinian and its from Palestine and the word “Palestine” should be on the Oscar list. I don’t know any other way to say it more clearly. Palestine is a country even if it’s still not on paper. Case closed.
Now the Palestinian suicide bomber. I regard the PSB as someone who have done lots of harm to the Arab/Muslim nations and no good whatsoever. A PSB embodies everything horrible, everything stupid we are suffering from. I have no sympathy whatsoever for the PSB, I hate him, I hate her, and I believe s/he resides now in the lowest pit of hell. If the devil himself thinks its too hot down there.
We have a saying in Egypt that says “if you play with fire, you will get burned by it”. We as an Arab/Muslim nation have embraced the PSB as a holy martyr and we ended up being burned by the same fire that killed those Israeli civilians in the Tel Aviv café or pizza parlor. In other words, by legitimizing the PSB, by glorifying him as a martyr, we as an Arab/Muslim nation have given our approval to this sick method of killing. What was the result? Other groups started to use the same method to kill Americans in New York, Brits in London, Egyptians in Sharm el Sheikh, Jordanians in Amman, Bengalis in Bangladesh, and Muslim Shias in Iraq and Pakistan. We ended up drinking from the same cup we gave to the Israelis.
Second, I don’t have any problem with someone who prays before he goes to war or someone who blows himself up as some sort of sacrifice. Yet I do have a problem with the person who religiously sanctions the killing of innocent civilians. If you want to kill civilians, go ahead and do it, yet please don’t involve the divine in your sick mission. Don’t claim that God ordered you to kill those people and don’t claim that he will welcome you with open arms up there. You know why? Because God is not that sick.
Third, the PSB has created a cult of death in our nations. Just watching Palestinian kids donning suicide belts in street parades and pictures of PSBs adorning streets in Gaza and Lebanon just makes me want to vomit. Legitimizing and religiously sanctioning the despicable act of the PSB is sending a very wrong message to our children. Instead of looking up to scientists, athletes, or even army generals, we teach our children to take killers as heroes and role models. This is pathetically sick.
Well, the Palestinian suicide bomber is desperate! Yea right. The above kid is much more desperate yet he doesn’t blow himself up yet alone kill others in the process.
The feeling on the streets of Cairo is that America is not really serious about democracy in the Middle East, where - if they are given the choice - people will opt for the green flag of Islam, not the orange one of Kifaya.
Read and weep.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Amr Khaled, an infamous Muslim televangelist, will embark on a campaign to "explain Islam" to Danes. He will organize an interfaith youth conference in Copenhagen in an attempt to open a dialogue with Danes and show them what real Islam is.
Well, this is definitely a noble thing to do; however, I think it will amount to nothing.
First, it seems that Mr. Khaled and virtually the entire Muslim world cannot fathom the fact that the Danish media does not represent the Danes. The Danes have nothing to do with what a single paper printed there. Unlike our media, the media in developed countries reflect the opinions of those who work at the media outlet and not the entire public. If Amr Khaled wants to do a conference, the ones who should be invited are those working for J-Posten.
Second, the Danes don't even know their god! Very few have stepped inside a church (weddings and funerals excluded!) So I don't think they would bother to know about a god of someone else. They don't have the time. They're busy. They know about gods of other people from how these people react, period. And judging from how we reacted towards the cartoons issue, well, I don't need to say huh.
Third, the milk has already been spilled Mr. Khaled. The reason I joined the "Buy Danish" campaign and the reason I was all against this stupid boycott was because I knew Arabs/Muslims would squander an amazing opportunity to show the world how well they will react. Instead of writing angry letters to J-Posten's editor and boycotting companies that advertise in the paper, the crazy knee jerk reaction coming 4 months after the thing was published destroyed all hopes for using this opportunity to "explain Islam".
So Mr. Khaled, save your money.
Violence is continuing across Nigeria where religious riots have claimed more than 100 lives this week.
A number of deaths were reported and churches and shops burned on Friday in the towns of Kontagora and Potiskum in the north and Enugu in the south-east.
The violence began last weekend with demonstrations by Muslims in the north against cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad. More than 30 Christians were killed in riots in two mainly Muslim towns.
More than 80 people were then killed in Onitsha in two days of reprisal attacks by crowds of Christians armed with machetes.
Oh dear! All because of 12 cartoons!
Friday, February 24, 2006
There was a solidarity rally in front of the Danish embassy in Washington. The rally was led by Christopher Hitchens. I'm thinking of organizing the same rally in Cairo. I just need 70 bodyguards, 3 armored humvees, plenty of tear gas, and 3 helicopters to immediately airlift the participants in case things got nasty. If you would like to participate please register your name by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
The rally's moto will be "Don't Be A Child, Eat Danish"
Jumblatt Says "I'm Sorry"
US Secretary of State Condi Rice met with Lebanese Druze (a sect out of Shia Islam) leader when she made a surprise visit to the country yesterday.
There is a rule in Lebanese politics that says: today's friend could be my enemy the coming hour, and viceverse. However, no Lebanese politician has managed to change positions like Jumblatt. A mere 3 years ago, he was a staunch ally of Syria and a US hater. Today he is the complete opposite.
Well, Jumblatt's new look forced him to apologize to Rice for something he said at the beginning of the Iraq war. He said that Rice's skin is oil-colored and hence she went into Iraq!
Jumblatt also expressed regret that Paul Wolfowitz was not killed when a missile hit the Baghdad hotel he was staying in. This led the US government to revoke Jumblatt's entry visa to the US. I guess the Druze guy has to also apologize if he met the world bank president.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
I had an hour to spare at work today. I got off my desk and walked down the corridor talking with a few colleagues about the bombing of the Shia shrine yesterday. The only word I heard more than a hundred times was "America". My fellow educated colleagues actually believe it was US forces behind the bombing of the shrine in order to implement their "divide and conquer" plan. They (i.e US forces) want to plant sectarianism in Iraq and so they kill Shias and bomb their holy mosques in order to fuel hatred towards Sunnis.
"Ummmmmmm" I said. "Well, thanks, you just made me a worshipper of America. I stopped believing in God. Because if what you are saying is true, then America was in fact capable of convincing thousands of Sunni youth from outside Iraq to not just kill Shias but to die in the process as well. Definitely America has supernatural power in order to be able to convince such a huge number of suicide bombers and therefore the statue of liberty and the casinos of Vegas are God. America Akbar!"
Egyptian born Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi blamed the US and Israel for.............the bombing of the Shia shrine in Iraq.
"We cannot imagine that the Iraqi Sunnis did this," said the influential Sunni cleric Sheik Youssef al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian who lives in Qatar. "No one benefits from such acts other than the U.S. occupation and the lurking Zionist enemy."
Qaradawi, who lives in a mansion not very far from the US military base in Qatar, is a perfect example of how some US allies such as Qatar want it both ways. The presence of US bases on their soil and excellent relations with washington, and the presence of radical crazy clerics and TV stations that appease the fundamentalists.
Saudi Arabia is another similar case. Saudi rulers want good relations with the US yet in the same time their money goes into funding one of the worst brands of religion in the world.
Unfortunately, the US can't do anything about both cases. It needs oil from Saudi and military bases from Qatar.
- the brutal killings in Iraq
- Swedish Iraqis voted for the religious Shia list
-Muqtada Sadr just named the new Iraq prime minister
- Sunni terrorists killed thousands of Shias and there is no way they could have done that without at least some support from the local sunni population in central Iraq
- Shia militias controlled Basra and turned into the Shia version of Taliban's Kandahar.
- Shia controlled police force abducted Sunnis and tortured them.
After all these things and more, I just feel like saying something. I just feel its the only realistic thing to say now:
WE ARE VERY SORRY, PLEASE COME BACK
I got several emails asking me to post my opinion regarding the ports management thing.
I am not quite aware of the operations of a port in Egypt yet alone in the US but I would still give my 2 cents here.
First let us start with the concerns voiced by US legislators. They have a reason to be concerned. UAE banks were involved in 911 money. The banks were not involved themselves in the attacks, but the terrorists used the Emirates’ sophisticated banking system in order to wire thousands of dollars to Atta and Co. Therefore, it is very possible that terrorists sympathizers might infiltrate the management company just as Cocaine drug smugglers might infiltrate a Columbian company. In addition, the concern over this deal is bipartisan. And when both Democrats and Republicans agree on something then this something must be of some importance!
However, the Bush administration is right to say that a company’s origin should not be a reason to avoid dealing with it especially if this country is an ally in the region. Besides, refusing to go ahead with the deal will send a very wrong message to the world about how the US conducts its business.
So in my humble opinion, I think the US government should work out a deal with the company in a way that eases the concerns of the legislators. Probably the US government could ask for unrestricted security access to the ports or something.
To sum, it would be wrong to reject the company just because of its nationality, and it would be unwise to brush aside these concerns.
On a different note, it’s funny how the Arab media is treating this issue. Nobody wants to give Bush some credit for standing up and defending this deal to the extent of threatening a veto if it was hurdled. Arab media give credit to Bush??!!!! Blasphemy!!
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Naser Khader is a Danish Syrian/Palestinian member of parliament and the leader of The Democratic Moslems. He has been instrumental in easing tensions in Denmark as well as in fighting crazy Imams there. They don't like him. I do though. The Islamic word needs more Khaders. People like Naser Khader are the only antidote to the state of maddness and stupidity we're in.
Check out Khader's website and his 10 commandments of democracy.
Unfortunately, these very few brave men are waiting for their trial. This is why ladies and gentlement we're going to stay in this pit of darkness for a very very long time.
In Yemen, an editorial by Muhammad al-Assadi condemned the cartoons but also lamented the way many Muslims reacted. "Muslims had an opportunity to educate the world about the merits of the Prophet Muhammad and the peacefulness of the religion he had come with," Mr. Assadi wrote. He added, "Muslims know how to lose, better than how to use, opportunities."
Mr. Momani and Mr. Assadi are among 11 journalists in five countries facing prosecution for printing some of the cartoons. Their cases illustrate another side of this conflict, the intra-Muslim side, in what has typically been defined as a struggle between Islam and the West.
"I keep hearing, 'Why are liberals silent?' " said Said al-Ashmawy, an Egyptian judge and author of books on political Islam. "How can we write? Who is going to protect me? Who is going to publish for me in the first place? With the Islamization of the society, the list of taboos has been increasing daily. You should not write about religion. You should not write about politics or women. Then what is left?"
Read it all here (registration required)
Egyptian authorities turned down a request from Hamas to meet with President Hosni Mubarak, following a request last month by a visiting Hamas delegation after the victory in the Palestinian legislative election.
Hamas was sure Egypt would change its position after Hamas's election victory. Apparently, the rejection stems from Hamas's failure to respond to Egypt's demand that it recognize Israel, accept the signed agreements and end the violence against Israel. This is why Egypt decided after the election to recall most of its representatives from the Gaza Strip.
The Egyptian refusal to meet with Hamas could change if there is a change in Hamas' positions.
I hope this will hammer Hamas and force it to change. I also tend to believe that Mubarak's refusal to meet Hamas is related to his refusal to meet Egypt's branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. If he met Hamas, people will start asking: why isn't he seeing his own MB?
On the other hand, Egyptian officials told Fatah representatives that they would like to see the group join a Hamas-led government. They recommended that Fatah accept the offer to join the government, on the assumption that after Hamas forms a government the preventive security service will remain under the control of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Fatah rejected the proposal.
I am against Fatah joining. Hamas should bear the responsibility of its failures (or successes). Fatah should be busy reforming itself and examining what went wrong. And Israel should be busy thinking about how to help Fatah in the future. Enough what happened.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
In less than one hour I got phone calls, emails, and text messages on my cell phone warning me to avoid drinking or even using tap water because peasants in Egypt threw dead birds in the Nile River. You can't believe what happened at my workplace. People left work and started calling and text messaging everyone they knew to pass the message.
"It's a rumor". That was the first thing I said. To relax my colleague, I logged on news websites to find if they mentioned anything. They didn't. My colleague kept calling her parents and friends, I went to the loo!
We're a nation that is easily affected by rumors since truth is so hard to be found. The flow of information is always blocked either by the government or by the culture itself. This is why people believe anything.
A similar mega rumor was also going around the grapevine 2 weeks ago. I got zillions of text messages informing me of what thousands of Danes were planning to do on a Saturday evening. They were planning to burn the Quran in downtown Copenhagen.
I'm now thinking of making and circulating my own rumor: Birds in the air carry bird flu, don't breath for the coming half hour until Egypt's air force chase the birds away. How about that?
Eight hurt in Egypt clash
Eight Egyptians have been injured in clashes between Muslims and Coptic Christians in a village south of Cairo.
It reportedly followed Muslim anger over the construction of a community centre by the local Christian minority.
Muslim residents accused the Christians of seeking to turn the centre into a church.
Egypt's Christians, who account for around a 10th of the population, need authorisations to build churches, while the construction of mosques is virtually unrestricted.
Sectarian tensions have been on the rise in recent months.
How dare them those evil Christians think about building a church?!! Can't they realize we're in the middle of a fight with Lurpak butter and Danish cows?
Now isn't that more of an insult to Islam than 12 cartoons?
The recurring frequency of this incident is very alarming. Christians can't built a church and so they go ahead and turn a house/community center into a church. Local Muslim population gets agitated, clashes erupt, people get killed. This scenario has occurred over and over again.
And why did tolerance vanish from a country that once had a Jewish finance minister back in the 30s? The mosque is preoccupied with telling girls how God gonna get pissed off if they didn't hide their hair under a scarf, and with rioting over cartoons published 4 months ago.
What a shame.
The Danish government thinks Egypt was a huge catalyst for instigating this whole cartoons issue. I wrote on December 21st, 2005 that I believe the government was frantically trying to ignite the fire just to appear as if it's our "guardian of the faith" especially after the Muslim Brotherhood victory in the parliamentary elections.
Well, it seems the Egyptian government is still on its "Jihad to defend the prophet". Today they announced in the official Al Ahram paper that "Egyptian diplomacy thwarted an attempt by a Swedish to publish insulting cartoons of the prophet." The news was printed on the bottom of the frontal page.
Around of applause for our "guardian of the faith" please!
The Egyptian government has ordered the slaughter of all poultry kept in homes, as part of efforts to stop the spread of bird flu in the country.
The government has called on Egyptians to stay calm, and not to dispose of slaughtered or dead birds in the roads, irrigation canals or the Nile River.
Correspondents say the sudden arrival and spread of the disease over the past few days has caused widespread panic among Egyptians.
Yes..Everyone is panicking. Millions of chicken and other birds are kept in homes in all Egypt, in literally all cities of Egypt. The economic impact will be devastating. The poor paultry seller was ordered to close down his shop. Farm owners lost millions of pounds as they had to slaughter all their chicken. This is very serious.
A friend stopped eating cakes. I asked for the reason. "Eggs go into the making of cakes" she said.
To my fellow Egyptians: they were asked not to "dispose of slaughtered or dead birds in the roads, irrigation canals, and the Nile River." Please say a big AMEN.
Holocaust denier Irving is jailed
British historian David Irving has been found guilty in Vienna of denying the Holocaust of European Jewry and sentenced to three years in prison.
He admitted that in 1989 he had denied that Nazi Germany had killed millions of Jews. He said this is what he believed, until he later saw the personal files of Adolf Eichmann, the chief organiser of the Holocaust.
"I said that then based on my knowledge at the time, but by 1991 when I came across the Eichmann papers, I wasn't saying that anymore and I wouldn't say that now," Irving told the court.
"The Nazis did murder millions of Jews."
As someone who disapproved of the childish "boycott Denmark" campaign and as someone who believes that millions of Jews and non-Jews perished in the Holocaust, I say that today is a shameful day for freedom of speech and expression. Jailing someone because he denied the Holocaust is wrong. I know countries that adopt such Holocaust rules have their own reasons, but I am afraid I don't think any reason should stand in the way of freedom of speech. I am glad most European countries, among them Denmark, don't have Holocaust laws.
Countries with laws against Holocaust denial: :
Monday, February 20, 2006
The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood announced that they would raise funds for Hamas after the international community pledged to cut aid. This will cause a very complicated problem. Muslim Brotherhood supporters are all over the world including the US. Now any money donated to the Palestinians would be considered to be directed towards a terrorist organization because Hamas is now in control of Palestine's economy and finances.
I admit I haven't given the issue much thought. I don't want Hamas to get hundreds of millions of dollars, yet I don't want to see more suffering on the average Palestinian who just wants to put food on the table. It's a dilema. I'll think about it and post about it later.
Well, wait a minute. I have a short term solution. Yasser Arafat left around $200 million (according to Forbes Magazine's estimate). Why can't Soha Arafat loosen up the bank accounts a little bit? Well, I don't think she'll do that. Why would she? Her husband didn't do it to his own people.
Source: Al Arabiya (Arabic)
I had the following conversation with a friend "F".
F: They can't deny the holocaust.
Me thinking..ohhh, that argument again.
BP: Well..given the fact that only a few countries have these Holocaust rules, given the fact that Denmark has no such laws, given the fact that you can draw cartoons of Moses and mock the Jewish faith even in countries that have Holocaust laws, and given the fact that countries such as France adopt the same rules for the Armenian genocide, do you know when will Muslims get treated in the same way as the Jewish Holocaust?
BP: When there is a Muslim Holocaust in Europe.
End of discussion.
I just read in the independent paper Al Masr Al Youm that the Danish government is accusing Egypt of being a major player in inciting the cartoon issue and fanning the flames of rage.
The Danish government is totally correct. I wrote about the role of the Egyptian government back in December 21, 2005. Say it one more time: December 21, 2005!
I said that by carrying out the "cartoons jihad" itself, Egypt's government aimed at portraying itself as "the guardian of the faith"especially after the Muslim Brotherhood's spectacular victories in the parliamentary elections. It also wants to divert attention away from internal issues especially since everyone was talking about internal affairs back then (presidential elections, parliament elections, etc).
I believe the Egyptian government resorted to Big Brother Saudi Arabia after the cartoon things failed to "click" with the masses ops I mean the sheep. If you remember, hell broke loose when Saudi clerics adopted the jihad themselves and started the boycott in Saudi. The snow ball started to move from that stage. And it was 4 months after the thing was published.
It's not a surprise then that Egypt's ambassador in Denmark was replaced. I won't be surprised either nor saddened if Denmark decided to cut diplomatic relations.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Age: 35 (brain 1.3 years)
Date: 19 February, 2006
Patient visited The Big Pharaoh Medical Center (BPMC) after complaining of abnormal reactions after being exposed to newspaper cartoons. Patient said that whenever he sees a cartoon, he gets the feeling that he wants to “burn an embassy, burn a flag, and get himself killed by anti-riots police.” He also stated that his eyes turn red and his veins pop out at the sight of danish pastry.
BPMC underwent several psychological exams on the patient. The patient was exposed to cartoons and pieces of danish pastry. After 2 minutes, patient exhibited the same reactions he said he exhibits when he sees these 2 objects.
Pieces of American brownies were then administered to the patient in order to know if there was a direct relationship between the country origin of the pastry and the symptoms the patient exhibits. The patient fainted when the American brownies were administered.
The sight of KFC’s Colonel Sanders triggers immense gagging as well.
BPMC found that the patient suffers from Muslim Cartoon Syndrome epidemic discovered by Professor The Sandmonkey. He was exposed to cartoons insulting the prophet 4 months ago yet exhibited no symptoms. Symptoms started to appear 4 months after exposure date.
This perfectly coincides with the findings of Professor The Sandmonkey. “MCS is a fast spreading epidemic, that has a very good chance of getting an unspecified number of people killed, but is especially good at getting Muslims to kill other Muslims. It can be spread via 1) Hearing about cartoons insulting the prophet, or 2) Reading about cartoons insulting the prophet. However, actually viewing such Prophet-inuslting cartoons will not cause an infection; on the contrary, nothing will happen and no one will get agitated.” Professor The Sandmonkey wrote in the latest issue of Medical Blogs.
BPMC prescribed the following medication:
1.Massaging body with Lurpak butter twice daily.
2. 3 daily tablets of Puk cheese.
3. Keeping a Danish cow as a pet at patient’s home.
4. Hiring a nurse to repeat those words to patient 24 hours a day: grow up Islam is not in danger, grow up Islam is not in danger, grow up Islam is not in danger.
Thank you for consulting BPMC.
We laughed enough over the cartoons issue. We had a good laugh at the boycott and the boycott the boycott thing. Yet that still cannot negate the fact that the issue is in fact very serious and troubling.
I wrote before that we’re currently in the midst of a clash of civilizations and this clash won’t end unless Islam experience what Christianity and Judaism experienced which is religious reform. However, there is another clash going on, a subset of the larger clash of civilization, a clash between Islam and Christianity.
As I mentioned before, we tend to look at everything through the prism of religion. We believe that everything around us has a religious explanation. The US invaded Iraq, that means the US wants to destroy Islam and suck up its oil. A number of Arab Christians write an evangelizing Christian book and call it the Furqan, that means the US government is writing a new Quran in order to convert Muslims to Christianity. An independent Danish newspaper prints insulting cartoons of the prophet, that means Christians are out there to insult Islam.
It doesn’t matter if there are more atheists in Denmark than people who just believe in God, yet alone Christianity. It doesn’t matter that the vast majority of Danes didn’t even set a foot in a church before. Danes have fare skin, Danes have blue eyes, Danes have a cross on their flag, so Danes are Christian. That’s how the thinking goes. And this is why Christians were attacked in Iraq, Lebanon, Nigeria, and threatened in Palestine (luckily, Egypt was sparred, but that train is never too late!). And this is why Muslims are asking the question: don’t we respect Jesus as well, why don’t they respect Mohamed? They simply don’t know that someone in the “Christian” west had decided to put a crucifix in a jar full of his piss and call it art.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are marching towards very dark days. The gulf between Islam and the west is getting wider everyday. And the west don’t need to show more tolerance because it has already shown it. It is us who need to change. It is us who need to complete what we started over 80 years ago and got interrupted by fake nationalism and lately chauvinistic religiosity.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with the results of a poll I saw on a religious website. The poll asked visitors whether the cartoons crisis indicate a strive between Islam and Christianity or a strive between people of religion and radical atheists. 53.08% said it’s a clash between Islam and Christianity.
Now that’s troubling. I can hear victims of religious wars agreeing.
Now for a good laugh, check out Sandmonkey's new epidemic
The Egyptian authorities decided to annihilate over 10,000 chicken in a farm 60 kilometers north of Cairo. They will also start searching farms in the area looking for bird flu infections.
The problem is that most of the chicken in Egypt are not kept in farms but on houses' rooftops. This is very serious and could cause a disaster. Prime minister Ahmed Nazif urged people to get rid of their home chicken.
People are panicking especially in rural areas where its an ancient habit to keep birds at home. They're refusing to touch chicken. A strange looking bird at a railway station in Alexandria freaked people out.
This is very very serious. Given our government's inadequacy in dealing with any emergency, I am very concerned.
People are asking: don't we have enough problems already?? That's a very good question.
KANO, Nigeria (AFP) - Rioting in Nigeria left at least 16 people dead, as police moved to disperse demonstrators caught up in the unabated furore over the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, witnesses and police said.
The protesters in the northern city of Maiduguri turned on the Christian minority, burning churches and shops, as army troops and police reinforcements were deployed to restore order, police spokesman Deputy Commissioner Haz Iwendi told AFP.
This is getting absurd. Someone has to stop the maddness, someone has to do something. This just can't go on.
in an old abandoned cafe in Cairo
I finally found it!!
Saturday, February 18, 2006
An recent opinion poll in the Netherlands found that 44% of Dutch are becoming more afraid than before of a clash between Islam and the West. Almost half think that Islam and democracy are not compatible and 40% think it is a violent religion.
Bravo! To all those who burned Danish flags and vilified an entire nation because of what an independent paper did there: bravo! You just lost Holland as well. One of the most open and tolerant countries in the world. Their tolerance knows no limits to the extent that the Dutch left Amsterdam to the immigrants! I remember the last time I visited Amsterdam was for just one day, I had lunch at a Korean restaurant and got a free Coke from an Egyptian cafe. I bought Dutch souvenirs from a shop owned by a Chinese!
Source: Elaph (Arabic)
Voltaire is inviting all those in the UK to join the March for free expression in Trafalgar Square on Saturday 25th of March.
I'm all for this march, but please don't burn our flags! Be nice!
Check out Voltaire's march here.
Muslim Boycotts of Danish Products Costly
COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Consumer boycotts of Danish goods in Muslim countries in protest of the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad are costing Denmark's companies millions, and have raised fears of irreparable damage to trade ties.
"The Danish government has nothing to do with it and has been very correct that they have nothing to say about what newspapers publish, and we should not let these religious fanatics try to make them," said Tijl Vercaemer, an engineering student in Ghent, Belgium. He started his supportdenmark.com Web site after watching Palestinian gunmen briefly take over an EU office in Gaza on Jan. 30 in anger over the drawings.
Vercaemer said he has received thousands of e-mails in response to his site — one of many that have sprouted up in support of Denmark — including from Muslims expressing their solidarity.
You all know by now how I think that this boycott thing is so childish and further tarnishes the image of Muslims and Arabs. And this is why I have decided to join the "Buy Danish" campaign in order to express my disapproval of this childishness and stupidity.
Here is an excellent very clear list of Danish products you will find in any supermarket. Please concentrate on Arla Foods products. To the Americans reading this, please next time you shop at Wal Mart or 7 Eleven, make sure to buy Arla Foods products. I've been to the US and I've seen how you guys SHOP!
ISTANBUL, Turkey - The exiled political leader of Hamas said Friday the world has the wrong image of the Islamic militant group
I'm laughting out loud.
Egypt confirms first H5N1 case
CAIRO (AFP) - Egypt confirmed it had detected the first cases of bird flu in the country, saying they involved the highly pathogenic form of the H5N1 virus, a government spokesman announced.
Magdi Radi said six cases had been detected in the greater Cairo area and one in the southern governorate of Minya, 250 kilometres (155 miles) south of the capital.
They say denial is a river in Egypt. That's true. Here the government loves to deny things and pretend that they don't exist. If a disaster is hitting everywhere they just repeat the same chorus "everything is fine in Egypt and we're taking all necessary measures". Well, I'm surprised, that was one of the very few times they actually admited something. And we got 7 cases!!
Thursday, February 16, 2006
It seems that the Danish government is upset with how a number of European companies have reacted.
Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Thursday that attempts by European companies in the Middle East to disassociate themselves from Denmark or Danish products were "disgraceful."
Mr. Rasmussen did not refer to a particular business organization or country. But his response came in reply to a question referring to attempts in the Arab world by companies associated with Nestlé, the Swiss food giant, and Carrefour, the French retailer, to distance themselves from Denmark. Danish industry estimates it has lost more than $55 million in sales in the Middle East since the furor began a week ago.
I've said before that Carrefour Egypt did a correct business decision by removing Danish goods from its shelves. However, I've also stated that the signs that were placed at Carrefour to announce the boycott were very misleading and made it as if there was a systematic anti-Islam wave all over Denmark. If Denmark wants to have serious talk with Carrefour, then it has to be over these signs.
First Lady Suzanne Mubarak bent down and kissed her husband President Mubarak as she was celebrating Egypt's win of the African nations football championship. Millions saw the "kiss clip" live on TV or via chain emails.
You might say "big deal". Well, it's big deal here. This might be the very time in Egypt's presidential history for Egyptians to see the wife kissing her president husband live on TV. Nevertheless, I believe what she did triggered more positive reactions than negatives. It is true that husbands and wives don't kiss in public in traditional Egypt, and it's true that the president is expected to retain "his dignity". However, Egypt was in the midst of a huge celebration and Suzanne's reaction was very natural and understandable.
Now the talk of the town is: was it a French kiss??!
Another famous first lady kiss involved Jehane Sadat, wife of Anwar Sadat. She didn't kiss her husband in public, she got a kiss from Jimmy Carter. My parents told me that people were joking about it, fanatics were not so happy though.
To view the Mubarak Kiss, click here.
N.B. Many thanks to Egyptian blogger Tomanbay who told me about Google Videos. Apart from the long video verification period, Google Videos is great.
1.It’s rich history, just makes me feel so proud.
2.The beautiful scenery especially in the Red Sea and Sinai.
3.The hospitality and kindness of Egyptians.
4.The fact that you can win over any Egyptian if you smiled at him/her
5.The Egyptian sense of humor. The ability to laugh at your problems and miseries.
6.The readiness of an Egyptian to help even if he/she doesn’t know how.
7.The lifestyle of Egypt’s upper and upper middle class. The idea of merging elements of the west with eastern traditions. It’s cute.
8.The weather. Gets unbearable in the summer but other countries are definitely worse.
9.The social life. The importance of family and family life.
10.Old Egyptian movies (I watch them and weep over what we missed)
10 Things I Hate About Egypt
1.The ugly bureaucracy and corruption of the entire administrative system
2.The roads. The air pollution, noise pollution, bumpy roads, crazy drivers, etc.
3.Poverty, illiteracy, and ignorance of a large chunk of the population
4.The ugly fake mindless religiosity that has eaten up our minds.
5.The absence of the word “planning” from Egypt’s dictionary.
6.The inability to produce stuff with no faults. A fault is omnipresent in almost anything made in Egypt (except is this thing is destined to be exported!)
7.The deteriorating relationship between Muslims and Christians.
8.A Saudi who lives in Mecca can drink alcohol in Egypt during the month of Ramadan while an Egyptian can’t! (To appease religious radicals, the government forbids serving of alcoholic beverages to Egyptian citizens during Ramadan, non-Egyptians are allowed)
9.Foreigners or Egyptians with dual citizenships are treated in a much better way (by police, government employees, etc) than the country’s citizens.
10. The horrible fact that nothing gets done if you don’t have the necessary connections!
BERLIN -- A Muslim cultural institute in Germany on Monday criticized Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad for disparaging the Holocaust, daring him to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp.
"In this place of horror he can again deny the Holocaust, if he has the courage," a spokesman for the Islam-Archiv-Deutschland Central Institute told the German Catholic press agency KNA.
By denying the Holocaust, Ahmadinejad not only denigrated the Jewish victims of the genocide but also the 200,000 Roms and Arabs murdered in the "gypsy camp" of Auschwitz-Birkenau and other camps, the institute spokesman said.
The fact that the president of an Islamic state repeated Nazi anti-Semitism was harmful to the image of Islam and "a disgrace for all the world's Muslims", he added.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
From: Colonel Sanders
To: Pakistani Students
Re: Why me??
Dear my Pakistani students friends,
I am writing concerning the distrubing news I saw today on HNN (Heaven News Network). Today you, for the zillionth time, burned me. I just want to ask the simple innocent question: why me??? Why burn me???
I went on the internet and did a little research on the number of times you burned me verses the number of times you burned my good friend Ronald McDonald. I surpassed Ronald. Why?? Am I synonymous of US power? I don't think so. I'm just an old man who used to cook chicken. I don't fry B52 aircrafts, I fry chicken. One of the weakest animals on earth! By the way, the prophet Muhammad loves my chicken. He places an order almost everyday. Moses was hesitant to order KFC when we first met, but I assured him they're Kosher. However, Jesus doesn't eat my chicken, he likes fish. Buddha doesn't eat KFC either; he says they're not healthy especially since he has an already big belly.
Anyway, I don't see any reason for burning me and my shops. Just like my good old friend and competitor Ronald McDonald, you can find my face in almost all the countries of this world. I employ thousands of your brothers and sisters and my international outlets are owned by local entrepreneurs. My main mission in life is to combine the good crispy taste of my chicken with the fun you can get when you visit one of my branches around the world. So why burn me?? Why cause misery to your brothers who work in my branches and damage your reputation around the world?
Besides, instead of burning me, why not try to learn from me in order to improve your sorry countries. I was a retired colonel with a chicken recipe. I visited hundreds of restaurants in order to sell my recipe and make a better living. All what I got was a big NO from all these restaurants. I didn't give up. I used to sleep in my car waiting for my YES. The day came when I heard that word and I became a multimillionaire afterwards. So instead of burning me and further tarnishing your image and the image of your religion, it would be much better for you to learn how I managed to reach success and try to copy what I did.
There is another thing that really really pissed me off. I somehow understood the motives behind your behavior when you burned me during the Palestinian intifada and before the war in Iraq. I simply can't understand why you burned me today? You were protesting against some cartoons published in a Danish newspaper (I heard they were published 4 months ago, my goodness!). What business do I have in this?? Why did you f*ckin burn me (I hope no prophet is around)? OK you burned Ronald today as well, but why did you burn us?? I fry chicken and Ronald makes hamburgers. I have no relations whatsoever with Danish cows. Well, Ronald does have some relations with Danish cows. The clown makes cheese burgers. Still, you shouldn't have burned him because of cheese burgers!!
Last but not least, I have a message for you from one of my biggest customers, the prophet Muhammed. He is informing you that he's not concerned about 12 cartoons published in a single newspaper in Denmark and he's just asking you to grow up!
No....This is getting hilarious by the minute. Do you guys remember Shabaan Abdel Rahim, the satarical Egyptian singer and his mega popular hit "I hate Israel"? Now, Shabaan or Shaboola as we nickname him has a new song. It's not anti-Israel this time nor is it anti-America..it's....yes you guessed it....anti-Denmark!
My favorite part of the song:
What Denmark?! Even cow owners?! Who are they to insult the prophet.
The Arabic lyrics rhyme very well!!
The song is all over the music channels. Denmark, for the zillionth time, welcome to the club, go sit beside your fellow club members Israel and America. And don't worry, your membership gonna last for a looooong time.
Egyptian blogger Jimmy has analysis on the song. Check it out.
I have to admit it!
A Danish paper publishes a cartoon that mocks Muslims. An Iranian paper responds with a Holocaust cartoons contest - - Now a group of Israelis announce their own anti-Semitic cartoons contest!
Amitai Sandy (29), graphic artist and publisher of Dimona Comix Publishing, from Tel-Aviv, Israel, has followed the unfolding of the "Muhammad cartoon-gate" events in amazement, until finally he came up with the right answer to all this insanity - and so he announced today the launch of a new anti-Semitic cartoons contest - this time drawn by Jews themselves!
Amitai Sandy's contest website.
(Hattip:The Egyptian Sandmonkey)
A group of religious personalities from around the world issued a statement condemning the violence that accompanied some of the cartoons riots and called upon Muslims to "avoid reacting towards the insults in ways that are not allowed in Islam". They said that such actions "tarnish our just demands and cause isolation that prevents us from addressing the world".
"Bringing victory to our prophet does not come by breaking his laws" the statement said. Then they went on to warn against "holding non-Muslims in our countries responsible for the actions of those who insulted our prophet".
The statement did not refer to the boycott at all. So it seems that they are not endorsing not rejecting it. It then called upon the international community to pass laws that makes the insult of Mohammed, Jesus and Moses a criminal offence. (what about Buddha?)
Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader currently residing in a palace in Doha Qatar, and one of the ugliest hypocrites on the face of this earth, refused to endorse the statement that was issued by very high profile Sunni and Shia leaders. Al Arabiya said that his refusal might be because he wants to "exacerbate" the issue.
This statement is a huge positive development. I am so glad it was issued and I hope it gets media attention abroad.
However, I do have 2 comments. First, my main concern in this who cartoons issue is not the violence that happened but rather the entire knee jerk reaction that happened 4 months after the publication of the drawings. Second, I am totally against the boycott and the vilification of an entire nation because of what an independent newspaper printed there. This boycott showed how far away we are from the concept of free press and free speech. In short, the whole "boycott Denmark" thing was simply just so stupid.
The right reaction to the cartoons is as follows: millions of letters to the editor and a boycott of companies that advertise in J-Posten. Period.
The prime minister of Denmark is not responsible for what J-Posten prints, so is the Danish cow.
Source: Al Arabiya (Arabic)
Today I tried to find Lurpak butter in the Egyptian market. I went to 2 small grocery stores and I didn't find it.
I then went to Metro, a German supermarket chain. At the entrance I bumped into a sign that read "Metro stores decided to boycott Danish products as a result of their insult towards the Prophet Muhammed". That's the literal translation of the Arabic. I'm wondering how can Danish products insult the prophet!
Anyway, I went to the butter section and saw stacks of butter from all around the world: France, Germany, Holland. No Denmark I'm afraid! I turned right and saw a sign. "Danish Lurpak butter and Puk cheese were removed from our shelves" it said.
Well, I didn't find Lurpak butter, but I found its Egyptian counterfeit.
This is the ad that the Arab Physicians Association published in last Sunday's Al Ahram newspaper urging doctors and pharmacists to boycott Danish pharmaceutical products in order to "make the prophet victorious". They listed the Danish medical products on the right column and the Egyptian alternatives on the left.
Well, what if a patient has to take the Danish medicine as it was the case with my colleague's mother and sister? Certain medications do have an Egyptian alternative, others don't.
The insanity of what they did is unspeakable. Words cannot describe how stunned I am. The words of my colleague are still ringing in my ears. "Do they think the prophet will be happy when a sick person won't find the medicine he/she needs? Is that how you make the prophet victorious?"
This is not just getting stupid, this is getting crazy.
Monday, February 13, 2006
I got several emails and comments from fellow Middle Easterns asking me why I am constantly criticizing and pointing fingers at us. Well, I have a very simple answer to this question: the problem is in US and the problem is not in THEM. I will keep repeating it till the last day of my life. I believe that's the only thing available for me to do in order to create a better future for my children. I will keep swimming against the current even if the majority is swimming in the other direction.
I will keep reiterating the fact that the problem is in US simply because that's the same thing the Japanese and the Germans did when they miserably failed over 50 years ago. Really, it doesn't have to take a huge failure for us to start looking in the mirror.
For the time being, all what I am going to do is speak out my mind without dilution, hypocrisy, and political correctness.
I was just informed by a colleague at work of something very disturbing. I entered his office and he greeted me with what his mother did yesterday.
"Both my mother and my sister are diabetic. They should take Insulin Mixtard on a constant basis. That's the only insulin their body is comfortable with. Yesterday while reading the paper, I came across an ad published by the Egyptian Doctors Syndicate. They were advising pharmacists to stop buying Danish pharmaceutical products. They had a list of medicine the pharmacists should boycott. Insulin Mixtard was on the list. When I told my mom, she quickly got on the phone and ordered a 4 months stock of Mixtard. That's very serious. If we couldn't find Mixtard, we'll have to import it ourselves" he said.
Ladies and gentlemen, is insane a good word to describe this situation. I simply can't find any other word. My mind is blocked from the level of ignorance and stupidity I'm bombarded with ever since this cartoons thing erupted (4 months after they were published!)
God save us.
I just came across this article in the Time. My jaws dropped when I read the following:
A Taliban leader reportedly offered 100 grams of gold to anyone who killed the cartoonists. It wasn't hard to find potential takers. "The word Islam is derived from peace. You cannot just go and attack people," says Walid el-Sallab, 23, student-union president at the American University in Cairo, who organized a peaceful rally against the cartoons. "But honestly, I feel that if I were to see the Danish Prime Minister, I might kill him myself without thinking."
If these words did in fact come from the student-union president of the American University in Cairo, the region's beacon of liberal arts education in the Middle East, then we're in serious, very serious, trouble.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
(scroll down for updates)
There is a kind of euphoria spirit going on here. A spirit of victory which is something rare in this nation and this region. The victory is not over some disease we managed to cure or an economic indicator we managed to increase, the victory is over a small Scandinavian European country that makes butter and toys. The victory is over a western country that in our minds represents the entire west. In other words, the victory many of us are feeling today is over the west as a whole.
From my conversations with my friends and the articles I read in our papers, I felt that there is a sense of victory after the apology of both the Danish government and J-Posten (neither apologized for publishing the cartoons however). A feeling that we finally managed to defeat Lurpak and Legos after we dreadfully failed to defeat Boeing and Coca Cola. As someone who longs for my region to experience a triumph after another, I cannot partake in this illusionary “victory” because, just like many of what we consider as victories, it is fake and has done more negatives than positives.
We are a defeated nation. Defeated in almost all areas of life. This is the reason why we search, in fact we sniff, for any victory, no matter how fake it turns out to be. Our inability to achieve real and beneficial triumphs forces us to accept illusionary victories that we accept without any rational thinking. In addition, we have the horrible habit of blaming others for our defeats, and since these days we look at everything through the prism of religion, we direct our blame at the Western world.
We are the complete opposite of the Japanese who lost their empire yet made a U-turn and became a world economic superpower once again. They made their U-turn by asking themselves the crucial questions of “what went wrong?” and “how can we fix it?”. They didn’t blame the west but rather copied the west and excelled over it in many areas. The Germans have done the same thing. They have looked in the mirror and accepted defeat and worked on finding a solution out of it. Our problem is that we don’t have a mirror to look at. We think we, such poor wretched souls, are being attacked from all directions and the whole world wants to suck our oil and terminate our religion. We are consumed by these thoughts, we definitely have no time to look at the mirror.
Now, why do I think the “Battle of Denmark” was a total defeat for the Arab/Muslim world? The Danish government and the paper issued an apology. The Arab/Muslim world were united against Lurpak and Legos, they don’t unite themselves behind a common cause that often. The entire world knew that Arab/Muslim anger is something to be reckoned with, and papers around the world will think twice before offending Muslims because what happened to Lurpak gave them a lesson. Aren’t all the above facts victories? The answer is no.
First this cartoon issue was another misstep in which Arabs/Muslims tarnished their image even more. The idea to boycott an entire nation and vilify an entire people just because of what a single independent paper there did was childish and stupid. This boycott of all Denmark and not just the companies that advertise in J-Posten showed that up till now the Muslim world is foreign to the concept of free speech and freedom of expression. This leads to the assumption that we have a long way to go before accepting the values of liberal democracy that will give our “Voltairs” the right to lambaste our religions and walk down the street without fearing for their lives.
Second, we failed to understand how things are in Denmark and we ended up vilifying a country that was once supportive of our causes. The vast majority of Danes are tolerant people and Denmark itself is one of the most open societies in the world, much more open and liberal than the UK and the US. This majority believe the cartoons were insulting yet they also believe J-Posten had the right to publish them. Our failure to understand this simple logic led us to demonize the same people who once supported our causes and opened up their country for millions of Muslims. And once again the Arab/Muslim image was tarnished by the same hands that tarnish it every time: the Arab/Muslim hands.
My fellow Arabs and Muslims. You managed to bring Denmark to its knees? Bravo! You managed to bring a western country to its knees by boycotting butter and milk? Bravo! Yet, your knee jerk reaction, coming 4 months late, created a fool out of you and showed how weak your faith is because as Andrew Sullivan said “a self-confident faith is not this defensive and touchy. It can and must brush off provocation, or be consumed by it.”
And the illusion lives on.
N.B For another good read, The sandmonkey’s 7 questions.
Update: Norm wrote this comment to the above post:
BP...you are absolutely correct. Both the image of Islam and the Arab nation has been tremendously damaged.From my conversations with people whohad been neutral or actual Jew hatersshow a change in attitude. Freedom to express one's thoughts is a right taken very seriously by the entirepolitical spectrum. Now is the time for all Arab liberals to enter this fray and open their mouths...even if it means danger and jail. Time is running out.
To the Arab/Muslim nation: Bravo! Excellent achievement!!
Saturday, February 11, 2006
"We are shocked to see, yet again, the miraculous icon of the mother of God used in a [profane] way for advertising and business purposes," said Paulinian monks at Jasna Gora monastery in the southern city of Czestochowa, who are custodians of the icon that Poles believe was painted by St Luke the Evangelist.
Pop magazine Machina published a photograph of the sacred icon, with pop idol Madonna's face transposed over the face of the Virgin and one of the singer's children in the place of the baby Jesus, on the cover of the issue that hit the newsstands on Thursday after a three-year publishing hiatus.
WHAT???!!! Is that it? That's the protest??? No boycotting of all Poland? No vilification of Poland? No burning Polish flags in Catholic Italy and Brazil?? No demanding an apology from the Polish government for what the INDEPENDENT magazine Machina printed? No riots???
Ohh, Catholics are sissies!
Egypt won the African Cup of Nations for a record fifth time, beating Ivory Coast 4-2 on penalty shootouts after the match ended in a 0-0 draw. The match was emotionally damaging as we had to stay on our nerves for around 1 hour and 20 minutes.
I really wanted Egypt to win not just because it's cool to be Africa's football champions, but I just wanted something that will make millions of Egyptians happy. We have enough stuff that makes us sad, from the ferry boat disaster to our everyday hardships, this victory was much needed.
Here are a few pics I took on the street after the game
Thursday, February 09, 2006
A voice came out of the fire telling me “The Big Pharaoh, I am Allah, I chose you to carry a message to my beloved Muslims. I know they are not happy with how they are looked upon internationally and especially in the Western world. I know they are trying to find ways in order to remedy that and this is why I will give you 10 commandments to post on your blog. I just hope they listen to me”
1.Thou shall not have westophobia. The west is not plotting against Islam, they don’t give a hoot about your religion nor the religion of this old Hindu man walking in downtown Calcutta, India. The West is busy with far more important things.
2.Thou shall remember that millions of Muslims in Europe have far more rights than non-Muslims in Arab/Muslim lands (for more info, contact the Christian villagers of el-Udaysaat) So quit playing the victim here. I simply don’t buy it.
3.Thou shall understand that the West is a pool of ideas and people. In the west you will find: Non-muslims who love Islam (Karen Armstrong and Prince Charles), non-Muslims who hate Islam (J-Posten and Oriana Fallaci), converts to Islam who love Islam (Murad Huffman, Roge Garoudi), converts out of Islam who hate Islam (Hirshi Ali and Ibn Warraq). So for heaven’s sake, you can’t paint the West with one brush.
4.Thou shall understand that the West gets their info on Islam not from your preaching nor from the books you translate to them but from your actions.
5.Thou shall riot and protest when Muslims kill other Muslims (for more info, contact the Shia families of Iraq and Darfur Sudanese)
6.Thou shall try to riot and protest when Muslims kill non-Muslims. If that’s not possible, at least try to do commandment 5.
7.Thou shall NOT riot over cartoons published 4 months ago. Try to riot over cartoons published 2 months ago. At least it might make more sense that way.
8.Thou shall not boycott an entire nation because a single newspaper, TV channel, radio station, politician, actor, actress, etc, etc, in that nation said or wrote or drew something that offended you. Why? Because its stupid and childish to do so and it further hurts your image.
9.Thou shall incorporate the values of liberal democracy. The Catholics of Italy, the Anglicans of England, the Buddhists of Korea, and the Shintos of Japan have done so. I don’t see a reason why you can’t do so as well.
10.Your leaders should know that what was OK in the year 706 might not be OK in the year 2006. I won’t get upset if you changed a few things in the laws and regulations as long as you continue to profess faith in me, pray to me, fast during Ramadan, give alms, and perform Hajj if you’re capable of doing so.
An Egyptian diplomat has been abducted by Palestinian gunmen in Gaza City, reports say.
According to the reports, the diplomat was on his way to his office when masked gunmen surrounded his car and forced him into another vehicle.
I guess those who abducted him were Fatah gunmen. Unlike Hamas, Fatah's militias are not diciplined and do not follow a central command. The organization itself is disorganized and in disarray and that has increased after its defeat. Probably the Fatah gunmen were unhappy with Egypt's meeting of Hamas leaders who are now leaders of the Palestinian government.
This is just in.
Suicide Blast, Clashes in Pakistan Kill 22
USTARZAI, Pakistan - A suicide bombing ripped through a Shiite procession Thursday in northwestern Pakistan, sparking riots during the Muslim sect's most important holiday. At least 22 people were killed and dozens injured, officials said.
The bomb targeted hundreds of people in a bazaar soon after they emerged from the main Shiite mosque in the town of Hangu, district police chief Ayub Khan said.
My fellow Arabs and Muslims, please pause for a second and fathom about what happened. A sunni guy decided to sacrifice his life just to blow up a few Pakistani Shias (a.k.a Muslims). And this isn't the first time such a thing happens. It happened before in Pakistan and happens daily in Iraq. Do you see the magnitude of this disaster? There appears to be multitudes of your sons who are willing to die just to kill other Muslims!
Now where is your outrage? All of you who stopped buying Lurpak butter just because a single INDEPENDENT newspaper in Denmark published some cartoons. All of you who now demonize the entire West because of what a single Danish paper did. Isn't what happened in Pakistan more insulting to Islam? I bet you that tomorrow morning only 0.0002% of the Arab/Muslim world would have heard of what happened today in Pakistan.
The bomb won't leave the turban as long as you are so indifferent towards the lives of your fellow people. I can assure of that.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Oh these words! They are controversial. Samuel Huntington was scorned for coining them 15 years ago. Everyone wants to avoid them. Even those who believe in the clash of civilizations don't admit it and run around the bush instead
Well, here you go. Hear it from an Egyptian. I believe in the clash of civilizations. I firmly believe we are currently living through it. Let me explain.
The notion of a clash between civilizations is rarely discussed because people don't want to appear as if they are discussing a state of enmity between Islam as a religion and the Western civilization, or to be more specific, the Christian world. Nobody wants to discuss that. Nobody wants to imply that Western or Christian values are superior to Islam.
I look at the issue a little bit differently. I don't regard it as a clash between the West or the East, or Islam and the West, or Islam and Christianity. Instead, I believe that there is an undeniable clash between practiced Islam and the values of liberal democracy, the values that are not just adopted in the "Christian west", but also in countries such as Japan, South Korea, and to some extent India. So do I think there is a clash between the currently practiced Islam and the values that Brits, Americans, Koreans, and Japanese hold? The answer is a definite yes. Islam, as it is practiced today, is not compatible with freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom to change religions, gender equality, minorities' rights, and the crucial thing which is called separation of religion and politics.
So, are we doomed for good? Yes we're doomed until the day Islam experiences what Christianity had experienced in the past, which is reformation. Ohhhhhh, this magical word. It's like music to my ears and cheese cake to my lips! Only religious reformation will prevent a perceived clash between the values of liberal democracy and religion. It happened before in Europe, the church dogma that was the major stumbling block in the way of modernity, enlightment, and even democracy reformed itself and stopped being so. The same should happen to us. There is simply no other way.
Now, the question some might ask is: for how long shall we wait for this reformation? I am afraid we shall wait for so long. There are 2 main reasons why we most probably won't be alive when Islam enters the same furnace Christianity and Judaism entered.
First, Muslims are busy preoccupying themselves with the West! They think westerners have abandoned their daily lives and businesses and are busy making plots against Islam. Germans stopped making cars, Danes stopped milking their cows, and the French abandoned their wineries (Americans of course stopped watching the Super Bowl), all in the attempt to come together and find ways to destroy Islam whether through silly cartoons or movies made by a Dutch Somali member of parliament. You can't look in the mirror when you're busy looking at someone else!
Second, the Islamic discourse today is mainly controlled by those who don't see the dire need to reform. In fact, many of them believe that Islam can't be reformed, nothing is wrong with it to be reformed. They simply don't understand the fact that reformation does not mean to change the basic tenets of the faith, but it means to reform the laws that might have been applicable thousands of years ago yet they're not anymore today.
I have hope though. What worked for the Europeans will work for us. It might take generations, yet it is bound to happen. In the mean time, the clash of civilizations continues.