The Big Pharaoh: 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005
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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Positive Developments in Egyptian Media

I noticed very new developments in the newspapers that belong to the opposition. They are becoming increasingly bolder in directly criticizing the president by name. For such a long time, the office of the presidency here was like the pope or the Grand Ayatollah, a position with a lot of reverence and fear. I can see this barrier crumbling down.

Two major newspapers were allowed to circulate this month, Al Ghad and Al Destoor. Al Ghad is Al Ghad party’s official paper and Al Destoor is headed by a brilliant author who was on the terrorists’ death list back in the 90s because of his anti-radicalism writings. Al Destoor is not a new paper, the government shut it down before. The fact that the government allowed it to circulate is an indication that something is happening here.

Al Ghad’s latest issue had a very interesting report on what a number of President Mubarak’s party members did when Ayman Noor was released. They put up banners in populated areas that shouted slogans such as: yes to Mubarak the leader, no to every coward Egyptian who is an American agent / Yes to Mubarak the leader, no to foreign financing. Of course they want to falsely proclaim that the “American agent that gets foreign finances” is Ayman Noor, an accusation that kills the future of any political activist here.

Al Ghad paper responded by saying: is that how Mubarak’s party will kick off its campaign? / the minister of interior asks us to avoid cussing yet will he obligate his party members first? I loved what they said next: are we allowed to respond by the same manner?!!

I am glad that the opposition is getting a little bit bolder because as I said before I am sick and tired of having Islamists and radicals as the only vocal dissenting voices here. I think this is something that President Mubarak should encourage for the sake of the country’s future. I still strongly believe that we are not ready for changing the president but we definitely need more dissent that doesn’t have a religious tag attached to it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Amina Wadud the zionist neocon imperialist american agent!

I am sure you all heard about Amina Wadud, the lady that lead an Islamic prayer service and caused huge controversy in the Muslim world. I spotted a number of articles in Al Ahram newspaper and couldn't stop laughting at how they explained "Amina's bomb". One author describe her as a neocon agent that neoconservatives in the Bush administration use to alter Islam to serve their interests. He cited the huge attention this event received in the American media and concluded that "America is trying to change Islam".

Fahmy Huwaidi, a known Islamist writer and a regular Al Ahram contributor, didn't go so far. He also position Wadud in the great conspiracy to fabricate Islam to serve the interests of the west.

I have one question for these people: what if Amina Wadud was from Mosambique? Will she still be a agent to the Mosambiquian neocons?!

I admire Amina Wadud so much. If I was in America, I would have surely gone to the church that she prayed in (no mosque in the USA allowed her to hold her service). I love people who challenge the status quo and rock some boats. To all her opponents I say: she was praying to Allah and not to my new god Neudenus!!

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Muslim Brotherhood flexes Muscles

The Muslims Brotherhood organized a rally today to demand for reform and an end to the emergency laws in Egypt. The organizers said that 3000 protesters were present, the government said 1000. Security was mega intense around the area and the government arrested around 50 MBs before the protest.

I believe that was an effort by the MB to flex its muscles and show its power after all the attention that Ayman Noor got over the past 2 months. They just want to say: hey, we're here, we're still the major opposition, and hell we're strong.

Now, I don't mind the full participation of the MB in the political process. However, I don't want to give them emancipation right now. First, they still do not believe in democracy even if they repeated the word "democracy" as much as they repeat the word "Allahu Akbar". After all, their leader is "selected" and not "elected". How can an organization preach and call for democracy while it doesn't practice it within its own structure? Second, they are definitely not liberal. Their agenda on women rights, Christian rights, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom to change religion whether it is Islam or Komalizombanism (an African religion I never heard about!), etc, etc, is still very hazy.

Their full emancipation and embrace can only come when Egypt's liberal democrats strengthen their bones in Egypt and counter the influence of the MBs. In other words, when we have many more Ayman Noor's in Egypt's political arena, something I do not see as possible before a minimum of 5 years provided that President Mubarak will grant total freedom to these people.

The Muslims Brotherhood are not violent, but let us not forget that they are the roots of all terrorists organizations we see today. They provide the initial ideology, the initial first step, that people need before becoming full hardcore terrorists. They are the kindergarten that graduates non-violent kids who can become terrorists adults in the future. A person who enters the MB kindergarten can graduate and still become a nonviolent MB who wants to participate in Egypt's political life and use nonviolent means to change the country according to his beliefs. Another person who enters the MB kindergarten can graduate and later seeks higher education at Al Qaeda State University.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

My new email is:

Poll: 63% of Najaf support multinational forces' stay

A poll in Najaf, the most holy Shia city, found that 63% want the multinational forces to stay. Ummmm, wasn't Najaf the city that US forces "destroyed and dirtied" while they were figthing the holy hero of the Arab MSM Muqtada Sadr???

The poll also showed that 62% want Islam to be the main source of legislature, however, only 38% want it to be the only source.

Source: Iraqi Dewan (Arabic)

Friday, March 25, 2005

Unveiling the mind

I had a very heated debate with a colleague of mine that literally raised my blood pressure! I want to share it with you.
My colleague is a very decent guy and a little bit religious. I will call him AB. Below is a brief transcript of our conversation.

AB: I am getting engaged.

GM: Mabrouk (arabic for congrats). Who is she?

AB: A friend from college. She is very good, religious, and muhajaba (wears the head cover or the veil).

GM: OK but wearing the veil is not indication of how "good" someone is. Many muhajabat are decent and good girls but other muhajabat are not, the same with those who don't wear the veil.

AB: You are right, but as you know, the hijab is a fard (an obligation on all muslim women)

GM: Says who? How can Allah be so small as to concentrate on a piece of cloth? How can Allah send a good woman to hell just because she is not wearing the veil? He can't be so unjust and unfair and so narrow minded.

AB: So you want Muslim girls to wear bikinis and tight jeans? Is that what you want? The hijab protects the girl from hormone driven males?

GM: nonsense. Why do you go to extremes? Why do you think I want girls to run around in miniskirts? Besides, the hijab cannot guarantee their protection. I have seen muhajaba girls get harassed on the street. Haven't you read stories of veiled girls who got kidnapped and raped? They face the same danger as those who don't wear it.

AB: The hijab is a fard. You cannot choose to do some of God's orders and leave others.

GM: says who? The hijab is a new phenomenon that mushroomed in the 70s during the rise of political Islam in Egypt.

AB: That's wrong. It is written in the Quran and Hadith (sayings of the prophet). Haven't you read Al-Noor chapter?

GM: I did. I read the Quran and the Bible as well. Let me explain my point clearly. I said that in Egypt we have witnessed the rise of the hijab phenomenon during the revolution of political Islam that President Sadat allowed in order to counter the influence of communists in Egypt's universities. I am sure you've seen some of Um Kalthoum's (a very popular singer who died in 1975) concerts; I'll give you $1 million if you spotted ONE lady who was wearing a veil! Go ask your grandmother whether she wore the veil when she was 20. She'll tell you no. I asked my grandmother and she told me that nobody heard about the obligation of the hijab during her years as a young lady. I have seen pictures in her album and I haven't seen ONE single muhajaba woman. Weren't those ladies back in the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s Muslims?? They prayed, they gave alms, they did all the obligatory stuff but no one back then heard that the hijab is a green card to paradise or that it is a must.

AB: you are wrong. Look at the 1919 revolution, they were wearing the veil. It is written in the Quran. You cannot deny this.

GM: In 1919 it was more of a traditional dress. It was a full attire and not just a head cover. It hadn't this religious connection back then. As for the Quran, people can interpret the Quran as they see fit. The scriptures that discuss the covering of women are open for dialogue and interpretations and re-interpretations. They are not crystal clear given the fact that we should take the historical context into consideration. Besides, some of the things written in the Quran we cannot do today. The Quran and the sayings of the prophet were written in a specific period of time for specific people who were living in a specific time frame. Our job is to use our minds and discover the basics that the Quran calls for and realize that some of the "non basic" stuff were written to suit this period. For example, over 150 years ago, a man could buy as many female slaves as he wants to sleep with them even though he was married. If you spoke to him back then, he will swiftly respond that his actions are condoned by Islam. He is right, the Holy Scriptures allow such behavior. We do not do such stuff today because it is not allowed worldwide anymore. Religion allowed it because it was normal back then. We need to use our minds and not take the scriptures so literally while closing our eyes to the historical context.
AB: You know, all the problems we face are because we do not do Allah's commands.
GM: I don't know why you changed the subject AB but I will answer you. I disagree with you. Back in the golden liberal age of Egypt, when this country was the hub of literature, music, movies, and poets of the region, the people might not have been as religious crazy as they are today. Yet no one can deny that Egypt back then was more successful than today. Our stock exchange was ranked among the top 10 in the whole world, look at it now! Being religious or not is not a factor in success.

The door opened and someone entered. We had to change the subject. I am glad we did that because my blood pressure was beginning to rise! Also it seems that nothing will convince my friend. That was so clear from the way he wanted to change the subject.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Terrorist Media Hub Gets Tarnished by Terror

That was the headline of an article written by a progressive Arab writer in liberal website The author was commenting on the bombing in Doha. I wish I can translate his article and post it here.

I wrote a post not long time ago about how the ruler of Qatar thought that he can "buy terrorists" and prevent attacks on his tiny country. He finances Al Jazeera, a channel with clear Islamist leanings and a mouthpiece for Al Qaeda, he hosts radical Sunni figures ranging from Algeria's Salafi leaders to Chechen seperatists, and he tries to portray his country as sempathatic to those radicals. In return for having the benefit of living under the auspices of his royal highness, those figures should keep their mouth shut regarding the huge US base nearby and the ever growing relations between Qatar and Israel. Islamist leaders from around the world flocked to a conference in Doha where they issued a communique calling for the "fighting of everything that attacks Muslims and their lands". The guys didn't mention a single word about the US base nearby that was used to attack both Afghanistan and Iraq!

It was so interesting to see how Al Jazeerah reacted to the bombing. First, they kept using the word "suicide bombing" over and over again when refering to what happened. Previous suicide bombings in Saudi and Iraq got labels such as "bombings", "someone bombed himself", "attack". The word "suicide bombing" was never used repetitively to describe attacks on Saudi and Iraqi soils. The words "suicide bombing" is more powerful than the words "someone bombed himself" due to the grave sin that suicide is in Islam.

Second, there is no tape until now! Whenever a terrorist attack occurs in Saudi, Al Jazeera airs a tape of the perpetrators who claim how their attack was directed at "the puppets of America and the infidel royal family". This time there is no tape telling us how this attack was a result of "the infidel Qatari ruler who hosts the largest US base in the region and who's wife invites Israeli ministers". Even after Hariri's death, Al jazeera had a tape for all of us to see. Where is the Doha tape Al Jazeera????

I couldn't stop laughing when I saw Sheikh Qaradawi gather his cronies in a demonstration against the bombing. I'm wondering why we haven't seen such protest when over 120 Shias were killed in Hilla or when the Saudi ministry of interior was bombed. What a pathetic idiot.

Emir Hamed Bin Khalifa, you cannot protect yourself from terror. You cannot write a contract with terrorists. Now, I can hear Saudi, Iraq, Kuwait, Algeria, Egypt, USA, Spain, and Indonesia telling you: JOIN THE CLUB SIR.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Husayn, an Iraqi blogger, tell us about his feelings 2 years after the war in Iraq. His post is a masterpiece and I believe it should be published in newspapers worldwide. Reading about Husayn's feeling is special because he lost his cousin in the Hilla terrorist bombing.

He says:

"To may outsiders, like those who protested last year, who will protest today. This was a fools errand, it brought nothing but death and destruction. I am sheltered in Iraq, but I know how the world feels, how people have come to either love or hate Bush, as though heis the emobdiement of this war. As though this war is part of Bush, they forget the over twenty million Iraqis, they forget the Middle Easterners, they forget the average person on the street, the average man with the average dream.

Ask him if it was worth it. Ask him what is different. Ask him if he would go through it again, go ahead ask him, ask me, many of you have.

Now I answer you, I answer you on behalf of myself, and my countrymen. I dont care what your news tells you, what your television and newspapers say, this is how we feel. Despite all that has happened. Despite all the hurt, the pain, blood, sweat and tears. These two years have given us hope we never had."

Read the rest here.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Dear Hezbollah, Just want to apologize because the pic below was not adequate. I hope this one bothers you more. Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Story of Two Revolutions

I want to borrow from what happened in the Lebanon revolution and try to apply it to the Iranian revolution that we all wish for. The events in Lebanon can offer us a blueprint to what can happen in Iran in the near future. The vocal opposition to the Syrian occupation of Lebanon was first limited to the Christian population there. Back in the late 90s we often heard of anti-Syria protests by students of Christian universities in Lebanon and those were easily cracked down by a couple of hosepipes and a few tear gas bombs. Syria always said that only a “minority” wanted it out and so the occupation continued. I was in Lebanon when the Druze community joined their fellow Christians in the opposition. I remember staying glued in front of Lebanon’s TV as I watched the Maronite Patriarch Sfier make an unprecedented trip the Shouf mountains, Lebanon’s Druze enclave. He asked his fellow Druze to join him in burying the past (Christians and Druze savagely fought each other during the civil war) and work towards the good of Lebanon. Later, Walid Jumblatt, the Druze leader, joined the opposition Rafik Hariri, a Sunni, made his opposition so vocal when Syria went through with its plans to change Lebanon’s constitution and allow its puppet President Lahood to stay for another term. Hariri used his excellent international relations especially with France’s Chirac to push for UN resolution 1559. He didn’t know that he was pushing for his death certificate. His assassination was the finger that pulled the already pressured trigger. Hariri’s appeal across Lebanon’s sects and his importance as a Sunni leader made the majority go crazy when he was assassinated. From this scenario we can deduce that the revolution blossomed after 2 stages: A vocal opposition that grew bigger and a single incident that triggered the revolution. In Iran, the vocal opposition is mainly composed of the young university students. They hold demonstrations every now and then and the devilish theocracy there know that these demonstrations will grow bigger and one day break its backbone. This is why they crack on them so severely. As for the trigger, I am not sure what will unleash a massive revolution in Iran but it hope it will be like Lebanon, something that will force the majority of Iranians to the streets until they pull the regime down.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Joke of the Day - Episode 2

Remember when I wrote about Al Ahram's (Egypt's leading newspaper) reaction towards the Iraqi elections result. Well, Al Ahram did it again but this time they tried to hide or downplay the revolution in Lebanon yesterday.

The news of what happened in Lebanon was thrown to the bottom of the front page and and the headline was small enough so that it won't get noticed by million of Egyptians who don't watch the news and tend to read only the major headline every morning before turning to the sports section. As for the major headline, it read: The European Union confirms that the security of the Middle East is of its interests! Umm, this meanigless headline gets all the spot light while Lebanon's revolution gets an insignificant column at the bottom.

Guess where I found the details? PAGE 8

Monday, March 14, 2005

Nasrallah, Hezbollah's leader, wanted to wage a "war of numbers". Well, he got the answer today! Go Go Lebanese, students of the purple fingers. Posted by Hello

Your Forgot Qatar Mr. Bin Laden!

Not long time ago, Al Qaeda’s branch in the Arabian peninsula threatened that they will attack Kuwait if it didn’t kick US troops there out. When I heard the news I thought: ummmm, interesting, but what about Qatar? Why didn’t Al Qaeda extend its threat to Qatar as well? After all, it hosts the largest US military base in the region, the center command from where the Iraq war was carried out. The US base in Qatar is the actual backbone or nervous system of the entire US army in the region. Why wasn’t the tiny island on Al-Qaeda’s hit list?

I believe the presence of Al-Jazeera channel is a major factor in preventing any Al-Qaeda attacks. The Qatari ruler finances Al Jazeera for three main reasons. One, to give his tiny insignificant island leverage and status among the Arab countries provided that the Islamist run channel never messes up with his rule (The channel never mentions the 1995 coup that the current ruler carried out against his father or how he kicked an entire tribe that was pro-his father). Two, Al-Jazeera is a perfect weapon against Qatar’s archenemy: Saudi Arabia. Right after Hariri’s assassination, Al-Jazeera’s played a tape showing a person claiming that the attack on Hariri was because of his relations with the Saudi royal family. The channel then started broadcasting pictures of Hariri with Saudi officials on a continuous basis right after the tape. Saudi Arabia used its own channel Al-Arabiya to enormously highlight the recent trip of an Israeli minister to Qatar. Third, the channel “buys Al Qaeda” so that it won’t attack the island even if the channel hosted the largest US military base and built very warm relations with Israel.

It is well known that Islamists and radical Arab nationalists constitute the top management of Al Jazeera. A New York Times investigation on Al-Arabiya mentioned how a number of Al Jazeera employees shifted to Al Arabiya because they were uncomfortable with the Islamist atmosphere at Al Jazeera. Tayseer Alouni, the channel’s former correspondent in Afghanistan, is currently under arrest in Spain for financing Al Qaeda members. Ahmed Mansour, an Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood member, was a journalist in Pakistan during the soviet occupation and forged ties with radicals there. I couldn’t stop laughing when I heard Uday Hussein refer to him as “this Mansour boy” during one of meetings that the former Al Jazeera general manager had with Uday to seek his “guidance”. In addition, it is well known now that the channel is Al Qaeda’s mouthpiece in the region. Why attack the country that hosts and finances its mouthpiece to the world?

You know what, I’m really fond of the Qatari ruler. He plays it very well. He funds a channel that gives Saudi Arabia hard time and buys him protection from Al Qaeda attacks. Free from the threat of terror, the Emir can invite the US military in as well as forge relations with Israel positioning his tiny island as a lighthouse of reform and modernity in a sea of backward Arab countries. He doesn’t give a hoot about the terror and radicalism that Al Jazeera promulgates across the region as long as it is away from his fat rich ***.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The dogs are unleashed

It was interesting to watch the editorials in the government owned newspapers the past 3 or 4 days. I noticed an unprecedented array of anti-America articles and columns that reminded me of the days preceding the war in Iraq. What happened? Well, the government unleashed its dogs.

This new offensive attack on America and its president started after Bush’s latest speech (where he mentioned that democracy is on the march in the Middle East) and the mounting US pressure on President Mubarak after Noor’s arrest. The first government official to attack the speech was Egypt’s secretary of state who ridiculed Iraq by referring to the bombs and killings there. Mr. Secretary failed to mention the 8.5 million purple fingers though!

I expect ferocious anti-Americanism to dominate the government owned media in the coming days especially after the government’s forced release of Ayman Noor. The government wants to tell us: hey, don’t forget that we’re not the cause of your ills, don’t ever think that we succumbed to US pressure, the cause of your ills is America, they occupy Iraq, they help Israel, they abused prisoners in Abu Ghraib, blah blah blah.

I blame President Mubarak for the situation he finds himself in. I thought he was smarter than that. Noor should not have been arrested in the first place. Why put yourself into this uncomfortable position Mr. President. I want your grandchildren and my children to live under the rule of someone like Ayman Noor and not the Muslim Brotherhood. Please, for the sake of the future of your grandchildren and my children, give freedom to liberal democratic voices.

Saturday, March 12, 2005


Ayman Noor released on bail.


I was sure Ayman Noor would be released just like his predecessor human rights activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim. I was also speculating that Noor's release will come before President Mubarak's annual trip to Washington. It turned out I was correct.

I credit Ayman Noor's release (if he won't be arrested again) for two main factors. First, the Egyptian elite who are not connected to the government were clearly sympathetic towards Noor. They just didn't understand why the government would arrest Noor in particular. They know why Islamists get arrested, but they just cannot comprehend the jailing of someone like Noor. It is worth mentioning that independent newspapers who are not tied to the government or have something against Noor were sympathetic towards him as well.

The second factor is the US factor. Imagine if President Mubarak made his annual trip to Washington while Noor was still in jail. It would have been a huge embarrassment to President Bush. In addition, Mubarak would have probably faced an angry US media that reserved considerable space to Noor when he was arrested.

I want to direct a few words to my president: You are greater than this Mr. President. As an Egyptian who respects you and believes that you are still the safety valve of Egypt, I ask you to give liberal democratic voices such as Ayman Noor the freedom to operate on a grassroots level. Mr. President, it hurts me to see Islamists and Nasserites (remnants of the Nasser era) as the only vocal opposition to you. Egypt deserves better opposition entities and you can help in creating them. Yesterday I was standing at a newsstand and I overheard a man asking for Al Ghad party's (Noor's party) newspaper. The seller told him that the weekly newspaper vanished from the market because of the high demand for it. You should be grateful that this man wasn't seeking an Islamist paper!

To sum up, Noor should not have been arrested in the first place. My president is a very smart politician and he should have realized back then that what happened with Saad Eddin Ibrahim will happen again with Ayman Noor. In addition, President Mubarak should have understood that the US will not play by pre-911 rules any more. The resident of the White House today is so determined about this "democracy in the Middle East thing". His mind is as stubborn as a well done piece of steak. After all, he's from Texas remember.


Ayman Noor refused to be released on bail. His lawyer said that Noor considers his case to be politically motivated and he will not accept to pay "a price for his freedom".

Sourch: Al Arabiyah (Arabic)


Noor finally accepted to pay the 10,000 Egyptian pounds bail and was released from jail. He went to his district that he represents in the parliament and announced his bid for presidency from there. He appeared in the midst of tens of his supporters who were trying to hug and kiss him.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Why they didn't move a single hair

Jordanian news sources mentioned that the suicide bomber who killed over 130 Iraqi Shias in Hilla was a Jordanian named Raed Mansour El Banna. A telephone call came to his family informing them that Raed was "martyred" in a "martydom" operation. The family held a funeral and his father stood proudly to accept the condolences! The news sources also mentioned that Raed was in the US when the attacks on New York and Washington occurred and the 911 attacks turned him from "a normal person to a very religious person" according to his brother.

What kind of sick people are they? The father and the brother were proud of what Raed did. They were proud that he killed over 130 people just because they were Shias. I can accept the fact that sick evil animalstic people live among us, but I just cannot understand why the Sunni establishment is silent. Why didn't the Sunni leaders of Al Azhar (the world's largest Sunni unversity) here in Cairo stage a protest after the Hilla massacre? Where are all the demonstrations we saw before the Iraq war? Where are the Sunni leaders in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and Indonesia? Why are they silent? Why didn't they fill their capitol's streets and ask their people to do so as well? I will tell you why ladies and gentlemen. I will tell you why nobody moved after the Hilla massacre or after yesterday's massacre in Mosul that slaughtered over 50 Shias. They didn't move because those Iraqis were not killed by Americans. They were not killed by Israelis. I said it and I say it one more time: here in the Arab/Muslim world, a corpse with an American or an Israeli bullet in it is worth a billion times more than 100 bodies that were torn apart by non-American and non-Israeli explosives.

Source: Elaph (in Arabic)

Lebanon's Two Demonstrations

Lebanon has two demonstrations, one calling for independence from Syrian domination and the other for thanking Syria! The pro-Syria one was mainly backed by Hezbollah.

Well, I'm leaving you to choose between the two and tell me which demonstration would you love to be in, this or that.

Source: Rantings of a Sandmonkey

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


Please welcome Waheed, the new Afghani blogger blogging from Afghanistan. WOW

Tattooed Prayer!

MaGdee, an Egyptian blogger, writes about why a policeman prevented him from entering a mosque. Check it out

Ayman Nour Runs for President

Al Ghad party's newspaper appeared on the newsstands today. The main headline announced: From Tora prison, Ayman Nour declares his candidacy for president.

I am not sure when Ayman Nour will be released or how this case tarnished his image. However I was impressed from the view articles I read in the new paper.

One of the article discussed how the opposition parties were shattered by years and years of oppression and so today they don't have enough courage to come up with their own candidate. The article went on to add that today's opposition parties are composed of old politicians who are anonymous to the Egyptian public (do you guys remember when I wrote about that). Another article said that removing the Religion section from the identification cards do not contradict Islamic law. Egypt’s ID card has a section where the citizen has to mention his religion, Christians complain that this increases the discrimination against them in employment and other day to day issues. An article in the Al Ghad newspaper was critical of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Well, I think Ayman Nour and his party passed my test. I don’t know much about the guy, but his arrest infuriated me because I believe Egypt is looking and yearning for liberal democratic opposition figures to neutralize the power of the Islamists. I am seriously thinking about voting for him even though I believe Egypt is not ready to change its president at this stage in time.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The tale of two leftists

Radical Leftist A

Country: A nation that joined the coalition in Iraq
Occupation: Radical leftist journalist
Event: Kidnapped by terrorists in Iraq
Al Jazeera Video: "Please withdraw the troops from Iraq. Save my life. End this evil occupation."
Reaction of fellow leftists back home: " Bring the troops home! End this illegal war! He/she will die because of this war that you Mr. President joined"
MSM reaction: the kidnapping will surely add pressure on President X because he joined George Bush.
Ending: Country pays millions to free the hostage. Kidnappings escalate. Money helps in furthering the killing of Iraqi soldiers, Iraqi civilians, and coalition troops.
Reaction of freed hostage: "The kidnappers were cool patriotic people. They treated me well."

Radical Leftist B

Country: France (country that opposed the war)
Occupation: Radical leftist journalist
Event: Kidnapped by terrorists in Iraq
Al Jazeera Video: "Please Mr. Chirac, repeal the law that forbids the wearing of the Muslim veil in France's public schools" / "The kidnappers would like to negotiate with French politician Julia" (Julia is known to have very good ties with Iraq's former rulers and the current rulers of Syria"
Reaction of fellow leftists back home: Sshshshshshs (silence)
MSM reaction: Shshshshshshshs (silence).
Ending: Country pays millions to free the hostage. Kidnappings escalate. Money helps in furthering the killing of Iraqi soldiers, Iraqi civilians, and coalition troops.
Reaction of freed hostage: "The kidnappers were cool patriotic people. They treated me well."
Reaction of President Chirac: "I thought I was anti-war, why did they kidnap French journalists?!!!!!!"

Monday, March 07, 2005

UPDATE: Check out Mona El Tahawy's website Many of her articles are there.

Big Pharaoh on C-Span!

Mona El Tahawy, a very insightful columnist and one of my favorites, gave a presentation on Arab media and bloggers on C-Span. She mentioned my blog along with Zeyad's. El Tahawy is a regular commentator in the Pan-Arab daily newspaper Al Sharq Al Awsat. I am very honored and humbled.

Watch the movie.

Source: Jackson's Junction

Sunday, March 06, 2005

UPDATE: Letter by Ayman Nour

Opinion Poll

I found an opinion poll on Egypt's famous web portal. Here were the results:

Mubarak decision to allow elections with multiple candidates:

1. An Egyptian demand for democratic environment: 13.5%
2. As a result of people's will: 20.3%
3. Other reasons: 58.5%
4. I don't care: 7.6%
Total Votes: 10119

I am not surprised that the majority think that "other reasons" forced Mubarak and not a demand for democracy or the will of the people. Of course the "other reasons" are namely outside pressure. I blame Mubarak for that. His decision came very late especially after initially refusing to amend the constitution and putting Ayman Nour in jail. He could have made this decision earlier and gained credit for it.

Egypt Elections

The picture is still very foggy regarding President Mubarak surprising decision to allow multiple candidates elections. A lot of missing information is still not clear. Ayman Nour is still in prison but the official newspaper of his party will start circulating this Wednesday. Also emergency laws are still intact. They were introduced in 1981 right after President Sadat’s assassination and they give the government unrestricted authority to arrest anyone anytime anywhere. I am not sure how the candidates will campaign in light of the emergency law.

Also a candidate from an opposition party said that he will challenge Mubarak. I don’t know much about him. The Muslim Brotherhood sent mixed signals. First they welcomed Mubarak’s decision and said that they might present their own candidate. Later they said that they are willing to endorse Mubarak on certain conditions. I think those conditions might be giving them more freedom to operate.

We all believe that Mubarak took a huge step. I believe he will win in the elections and I am quite satisfied with this. Mubarak can have another term and then work on nurturing the democratic future of Egypt. He can enter history by doing this. All what I am asking him to do is give the civil society and other liberal voices more freedom to operate. The stifling of liberal dissent was a main cause in the rise of Islamists.

They said "terrorist"!!

Someone hit me now. Someone punch me in the face because I still cannot believe what I read today on the front page of Al Ahram newspaper. They published a picture of an Iraqi man rescuing a young girl right after a motorcycle suicide bombing in Iraq. The caption under the photo went like this: Iraqi man helps young girl after a terrorist attack in Azamiyah in Iraq.

My jaws dropped when I read this caption. This is the FIRST time Al Ahram, Egypt’s largest newspaper, uses the word terrorist to describe an attack on Iraqi civilians in Iraq!!! It never happened before. Such attacks were simply described as “bombings” without the word “terrorist”.

If such an attack happened in Algeria or Saudi Arabia then they would definitely describe it as a “terrorist attack”. The reason behind this is because Al Ahram and most of the Arab media do not want it to appear as if there is another enemy in Iraq besides the USA, not mentioning that there are many sick disgusting Arab commentators and journalists who still long for any destruction in Iraq as long as it will make the US unhappy.

I am 99.999% sure that a typo put the word “terrorist attack” in today’s photo caption. I will inform you if Al Ahram underwent a change of heart, something I really doubt.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Matt Sherman shares a number of pics he took in Fallujah. He bought a bottle of Pepsi from a Fallujah shop for $1! The shop owner ripped him off and I'm glad Matt accepted the ripping with open arms. Here you can buy about 6 bottles of Pepsi for $1.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Big Pharaoh vs. Great Britain

I was so delighted when I heard the news that a Muslim school girl in Britain won a case against her school that prevented her from wearing a jilbab, a long gown that covers the entire body, from head to toe. The school sent her home because the jiljab is not an official school uniform. Now she can go to school with the jiljab which exceeds the normal head cover that millions of Muslim women wear.

The girl's win proves that "religious rights" should be placed above all other rules and laws in Britain. The British court's ruling is so encouraging to me because I am thinking about suing the British education authorities when I go to the London school I enrolled in.

See, yesterday I converted to a religion called Nudadism. It is a very peaceful religion that rejects any form of clothing. In our holy book Nudaible, our god Nudenus orders us to go to school naked because clothing is an evil human invention that man made in order to cover Nudenus' creation. We have a verse in our Holy Nudaible that says "Oh Humans, We have created thou naked, thou go to school naked"

It would be a huge infringement of my religious rights if my London school prevented me from going to class naked. The evil racist bigot education authorities must understand that Great Britain is a "multicultural" society that must accept all religious beliefs. If my religion orders me to go to school naked then I have the right to go naked no matter what the school's rules are! I don't give a hoot about the school's uniform guidelines. Great Britain opened its door for me and so it must put up with ALL my religious rites even if they contradicted their laws and regulations.

OK. Let us talk serious now. If the school rules set a specific uniform then the Muslim veil must go, the Jewish head cap must go, the Sikh turban must go. If that's not possible, then the Muslim girl must enroll in a school back in Pakistan, the Jewish boy can join a yeshiva in Jerusalem, and the Sikh can return back to India. It is as simple as that.

To all my European friends, your beautiful culture and history are being eroded by this lie that is called "multiculturalism" while you are standing idly like an iceman in a desert. You cannot please everyone. First it was the head veil, then it is the jilbab, in the future it will be the Taliban Burqa (not to mention my nudism!!). Ohhhh, Praise Nudenus!

N.B I took a rest from serious politics. I just wanted to write something sarcastic this time! Tell me what you think.

Is Florence Aubenas a card in the hands of Syria?

The kidnapped French journalist Florence Aubenas appeared on a video and pleaded for help. She specifically asked deputy Didier Julia to help her. Julia went on a freelance mission before to try and win the release of the 2 kidnapped French journalists and he made the French government so angry for forcing himself into this matter. After Aubenas’s plea, the French government asked Julia if he can help . The fact that Aubenas asked Julia for help raises a lot of suspicion because of the known relations that he has with the Syrian government and Iraq’s Bathist party. I am beginning to believe that Syria managed to put its hand on Aubenas (or even kidnapped her) in order to have a “card” to play with the French government.

A cornered animal will do anything in order to escape or relive the pressure on it. This is exactly the situation Syria is in now. It is increasingly under pressure from the Lebanese people and the recent spectacular marriage between Bush and Chirac. Syria has intelligence agents in Iraq who work with Iraq’s insurgents. A proof to this was Syria’s decision to hand over Saddam’s half brother after denying countless times that it does not harbour any former Iraqi leaders. By handing this man, Syria wanted to see if it can win concessions from Paris and Washington or simply to show the world that it is “good Syria” that helps Iraq.

Syria wants another card to play with France in order to gain some concessions in Lebanon and I believe this card is Florence Aubenas. Upon Syria’s order, her kidnappers might have asked her to seek Julia’s help so that this man can act as a mediator between his Syrian buddies and the French government.

Kidnapping hostages is not a new phenomena in the Middle East. During the Lebanese war, hostages from various countries were kidnapped in order to put pressure on their governments. The kidnappers often had links with rogue states such as Syria and Iran.

Things To Look For

A poll done by a government owned pollster found that 80% of Egyptians will vote in Egypt’s upcoming presidential elections. I am not sure whether this percentage is hyped or not but it seems that more people will vote in these elections than the previous shame ones. Despite the skepticism, there is a sense here that something is happening, that the pyramids are finally beginning to move a little bit.

Skepticism is an integral part of Egyptian society. Our governments have been lying to us for such a very long time and nobody believes what they say. Some people believe that the elections will be forged. Others say that Mubarak took this step as away of “legitimizing” the enthronement of his son Gamal (whom I like). A colleague of mine told me that he will “definitely vote even if the elections were forged”. An office boy told that me that he won’t vote because he doesn’t want to stand in the very long queue to get the registration cards. He also believes that Egypt has no hope of changing no matter what. See, he is a university graduate who was forced to work as an office boy because he couldn’t find any other job.

The picture is still foggy and the mechanism of the elections is unknown until today. We should look at the following:

- Will international observers be allowed to monitor the elections
- The turnout. I expect the government to mobilize the millions of state employees to vote for President Mubarak.
- Will independents be allowed to run or only the legalized parties. Here, all opposition parties were “allowed” by the government to operate.
- Will Mubarak’s opponents enjoy access to the state owned media
- The role of the government controlled parliament in the elections. If the parliament must “approve” each candidate, then it’s clear that Mubarak wants to handpick his opponents.
- Mubarak will definitely win. He is popular enough and he has all the assets for a mega campaign. However, what percentage of the vote will he get?

I will keep you updated with developments. For the time being, I really wish that we won’t repeat the latest Tunisian elections where President Bin Ali handpicked his opponents and won by 96% instead of 99%! Egypt is bigger and more strategically important than Tunisia.

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