I love what he has to say.
To me, this is a post about the myth of accepting those of a different faith in Egypt and how the word moderate is now used by anyone who is not a card-carrying member of a religion-based organization or group.
I love what he has to say.
To me, this is a post about the myth of accepting those of a different faith in Egypt and how the word moderate is now used by anyone who is not a card-carrying member of a religion-based organization or group.
Tentative list of those killed in the fight against the brutal, repressive Egyptian regime and its President since #jan25.
Al-Masry Al-Youm, the Arabic Egyptian daily paper, ran a front page headline story (English Version) on the Egyptian Minister of Industry and Trade, Rasheed Mohammed Rasheed, and his recent visit to Germany where he commented on the on-going German Companies bribery scandal (an issue that has been occupying front page news in Cairo for sometime).
In remarks he made, the Minister actually said (Al-Masry Al-Youam has this as a direct quote): “The problem is not the presence of corruption, but the taking of a clear position which would deter violators”.
Well, Minister, it’s quite obvious that your methods of deterrance are not working. The country is rife with corruption. It absolutely stinks with the stench of it.
It seems that the poor violators are not connected well enough to escape the wrath of the powers that be now that their little secret has been exposed for all.
According to Al-Masry Al-Youm, the Minister also said that “Corruption is in all countries, and the cases in question are clear evidence of this, in addition to the existence of corruption cases in which big German companies are involved”
I’ve noticed that our government’s new method of deterring any international criticism is by proclaiming that everyone else has whatever problem seems to be discussed as well. When steel magnate, millionaire, Minister and Member of Parliament Ahmed Ezz was interviewed on CNN, he specifically said to Christian Amanpour that Egypt’s Emergency Law was our version of the US PATRIOT ACT which Egypt would do away with as soon as the security situation in the Middle East will allow! He said it in a tone which clearly implied: don’t you dare accuse us of anything if you have that.
Christian Amanpour’s reaction was (and this is on youtube): Oh my Godness!
So corruption is not the problem, eh Minister?
… and these three pieces only served to remind me of why:
Check this bit in the article out:
The IDF says the bulldozing was meant to stop the activities of militants in the area. It adds that the bulldozer driver could not see or hear Corrie and its own investigation found no Israeli soldier was to blame.
Nothing in the article about what other, mutiple, activists saw or observed that day… though there is plenty of published information with their statements. Either the nice reporter didn’t do her homework or she didn’t bother. The rest of the article portrays the human side of the brave activist and how difficult it has been for her parents (something which I’m obviously not disputing)… but I find it difficult to believe that a reporter from a land where all politicians and journalists attack channels like Al Jazeera and accuse them of portraying the story from one side, amongst many other things, could have missed something I noticed in as long as it took me to read the article.
A lackluster piece about the recent Israel/America schism (or not, according to the writer) which included these lines:
Only time will tell if what began with a slap in the face over an announcement over one housing development will be seen one day as the wake-up call that forced a moment of truth in the Middle East peace process — and whether Netanyahu had the courage to turn this crisis into an opportunity to achieve real peace and security for Israel.
What? Did you run out of interesting material and so decided to write such a ridiculously naive article where you actually say that any Israeli leader (particularly one who has been voted in a second time… with time in between to reflect on his first term) actually wants peace?!
Also, it’s not just ONE housing development. It was one housing development this time and hundreds more since 1967… but, of course, your readers will nod their heads and say: so what’s wrong with one development? Why is Obama annoyed? What’s wrong with these Arabs?!
What about these lines?
President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met for more than three hours Tuesday evening amid a dispute over Israel’s decision to build new Jewish housing on disputed land in East Jerusalem.
Netanyahu’s visit to Washington comes as Israel and the United States find themselves at odds over Israel’s plan to build new housing on disputed land in East Jerusalem — a plan he defended sharply Monday night. Israel’s announcement two weeks ago that it plans to build 1,600 apartments in an area claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians
Palestinian leaders have refused to rejoin peace talks until Israel freezes the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. But Netanyahu said “everyone knows” the neighborhoods where the new housing units will be built “will be part of Israel in any peace settlement,” and the new construction “in no way precludes the possibility of a two-state solution.”
FYI, my western readers, East Jerusalem is not disputed land. It was captured illegally during war. If you think it wasn’t captured illegally and think that Israel gets to pick and choose what statutes and decisions that are binding, by International Law that Israel has agreed to, then I think that all suicide bombers, the rocker launchers and militants are totally within their rights to do what they’ve been doing for years.
Mr. Ben-Ami, who wrote the second article mentioned here, should have probably read this last piece before his piece was posted on the CNN website. I think there’s your answer Jeremy. Netanyahu said pass on the peace. Why? Because apparently not “everyone knows” that East Jerusalem has been theoretically annexed to Israel (though on the ground, that is the de facto state of things).
Moving on to this piece.
The writers says that
Despite the toe-to-toe standoff with the United States, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had dinner with Biden in Washington and met President Barack Obama, though he fiercely reiterated Israel’s right to build on land claimed by the Palestinians while he was in the United States.
Notice how Netanyahu’s quote is not preceded or followed by quotation marks? That means our writer was probably paraphrasing… was it Netanyahu that explicitly added the bit about the land being claimed by Palestinians? Or, was it the writer’s own little expenditure of effort and willingness to be daring and sound just like a lawyer when using the word “claimed”.
Let me just help the man out: it’s not claimed, fool. It’s the Palestinians’ right as per the law. The same law that allowed the people that call themselves Israeli now to “claim” that they had any right to this piece of land in the first place.
I think Egypt, Italy and Greece should claim Palestine too… after all, the Ancient Egyptians (preceding Judaism), the Romans and the Greeks once ruled this land as well… for hundreds of years. Hell, maybe we can have France and England claim it… remember the crusades?
Two interesting things came to my knowledge in the past day. The first was through personal experience and the second was something that a friend told me about. They may be inconsequential to some (my friends certainly thought so), but I found them worthy of mention.
I went down to Maadi Grand Mall (located in Maadi, a Cairo neighborhood and where I live) yesterday to this internet cafe that I have been frequenting, on and off, for the last 7 years. It is the one of two internet cafes that I’ve been to in Maadi (the second one foundered and closed down) and I’ve gotten to know the owner pretty well over the years.
This day, he had a paper sign on his glass door which said, roughly and in Arabic, “Under the instructions of the Ministry of Interior, all internet users must leave their data with the management.”
A few days before that, coincidentally, I was at the store when this dude comes in with a clipboard and talks to the store owner for 10 minutes. I heard him talk about a meeting and other things. When the man left, I turned to the store owner and asked him what that was about. He said the man was a plain-clothes officer from the Maadi Police Station who was informing him about this annual State Security (Amn EL Dawla) meeting of Internet Cafe owners.
And now this.
Oh, and when I asked him if this paper sign was related to the meeting, he said yes… and that it was State Security that gave him the instructions. He also said not to worry about it and that nothing will come of it.
A friend of mine just came back from a trip to Lebanon and she told me that they now give them little slips of paper on the plane, before landing, asking them to fill in how much foreign currency they have, how much Egyptian currency they have amongst other things. Apparently, you aren’t allowed to be bringing in any gift that is worth more than $1,500 too. Also, they’ve gotten quite uptight about letting young males of military age that have not yet completed military service from leaving the country unless it’s for a medical reason or they’re visiting their parents who are outside of the country.
They are required, it being Egypt, to provide tons of documents proving these claims.
I now know for sure that I won’t be going to that internet cafe to use the internet. I cannot explain the psychological effect of knowing that whatever I do on the net can be traced back to me, even if I don’t want it to be. That day I went, I was just checking my email accounts… but still, it’s the “Big Brother” feeling.
Hello. We’re here. We know what you’re doing. Ha ha ha. You won’t get away with it, whatever it is.
I’ve been told by friends that this was already in effect in various other neighborhoods around Cairo… that may be so, but this is definitely a first for Maadi. What this means to me is that State Security are spreading their tentacles and giving us healthy doses of good, old fashioned totalitarianism.
I had hoped that all my previous posts were enough for those that do not know me to realize that I am quite secular in my social and political views. Having said that, let me make it clear that having a secular view point does not mean you don’t care about religion or, at least, theology and/or the idea of religion.
But, apparently, some people think that’s true. It is amazing how, in e-mail correspondance with someone I do not know personally, I was addressed in a radically different fashion when I pointed out that I consider myself an Agnostic.. and I do consider myself an Agnostic. It just pissed me off that were I not an Agnostic (as was thought by the other party) then whatever I say, as someone who is officially considered a Muslim, is just… useless nonsense.
The reason I write this post, though, is that I came across an interesting website. Now, again, I have nothing against anyone attempting to let their plight be known to the world through the internet. I do have problems with something that looks like mere propaganda and totally un-substantiated by fact. The sad thing would be if these claims were supported by facts. Why on earth do they not show them, in some form or another, these facts?! I’ve had Christian friends (and Muslim friends as well, but I suppose that they wouldn’t pass the Officially Reliable Source Inspection) that specifically say that most of these incidents are Christian girls who fall in love with Muslim men and run away.
They also say that sometimes the man doesn’t love them, or wants to steal their jewellery and sell the different rings/necklaces/bracelets for money or just wants to have sex with a good looking chick or whatever. But, that these men don’t force the girls to run away in any manner different from that which a lover (or someone who makes the other believe they love them) would use. Their (my friends’) point is, they don’t believe they’re really kidnappings.
Now, again, I’m not saying that no one gets kidnapped… not at all! I don’t know who or when or how many people get kidnapped. It just gets pathetic that even those times that girls say they weren’t kidnapped, I hear claims from Christian Blogs and websites that they were “drugged” or “not fully aware”. What? Were they drugged with super-coke? Did they remain in their drugged state forever? So let’s say they were drugged… why not interview them after the drug’s effects wear off. It’s just amazing how these girls that say they weren’t kidnapped ALWAYS manage to make it into the news whilst in a drugged state.
It’s also quite amusing to think that the kidnappers are adept at obtaining and using the type of drugs that put the girls in a delirious state for days.
Finally, I am not saying that there aren’t Muslims who attempt to convert Christians to Islam (and/or vice-versa) in Egypt. I just want substantiated stories. Not 3-4 vidoes which are apparently irrefutable proof that this is a phenomenon as opposed to isolated incidents. Damn! Most of the videos aren’t even videos of the girls. They’re either telling us that this happened or they interview Egyptian Christians who describe how the girl in question failed to show up somewhere after leaving or going somewhere. I suppose that if she runs away, she’ll come back home for her dinner and her bed then up and run-away in the morning again, won’t she? These videos say nothing concrete and can be interpreted in any way that anyone wishes. They sure aren’t concrete proof. Well, unless you’re the sort of person that just needs to hear someone to tell you that “something” occurred for you to believe it.
I’ve heard it being said that the only reason families believe their girls have been kidnapped is because they cannot conceive of the idea that their girl ran away with the male in question. Not only that… but because of Egyptian culture… it would be quite dis-honorable and shameful for the family. I’ve also heard that the families say their girl was forced to convert to give her a chance to use the same argument with the Church so that she could claim that being forced to convert (for probably a completely silly reason) means that she shouldn’t be excommunicated. Personally, I can imagine this happening in a variety of issues in Egypt that have nothing to do with Religion.
I have to say though that I don’t know how the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt, and other Churches here, treat Christians who willingly convert to Islam and them want to return to christianity. Personally, I’d take him back; They were probably thinking about the whole thing.
Honestly though? People should take this religion thing with a grain of salt. If only they’d confine their feelings towards whatever supranatural entity they believe in to the private domain (and by this I mean anyone who follows any religion/way of life) we’d all be better off. You can leave”Missionary Notes” on bulletin boards and those interested can pick ‘em up, read about your religion and then choose if they think it works for them or not.
Oh and one last thing, and this goes to both sides: If you’re going to quote scripture (Qur’an or Bible) then at least get your god-damned meanings right and stop this half-assed out-of-context bullshit that infuriates the hell out of anyone that understands the language and doesn’t even follow the faith!!!
Here’s hoping people grow up. Academically as well as psychologically/emotionally.
Not the best of places for people who aren’t well off.
“When my daughter tried to buy some clothes some time back, she came back home with a shocked expression” , exclaimed the cab driver in a low, but angry, tone of voice. “I asked her about what was wrong. She said she couldn’t afford to buy clothes with the current prices and the amount of money she had.”
Strangely enough, what sparked off this topic was my excuses to the man for having to sit in the back seat of the cab (it was a small vehicle and I was wearing a suit and already running late for a morning meeting). I do not remember how it developed into a discussion of the man’s, and the average Egyptian’s, life… but that it became until he dropped me off in Manial, where I work.
His complaints were many… but he was not whining. He was merely indignant.
He told me that (beta’at el tamween – بطاقات التموين) are slowly being stopped. Even though they only mean half-a-kilo of oil and sugar… and bad sugar at that. He told me that the price of a kilogram of meat is now pushing 40 L.E. A chicken… is for 20-25.
He said that he isn’t a rich man. That he cannot afford to buy chicken anymore.
We discussed the (El-Malek El-Saleh – الملك الصالح) bridge that had been under maintenance for about a week. The cabbie commented on the fact that they were hammering and placing whatever substance they were using to “fix” the road… using manual equipment. (From my own personal experience, I can say that many of them looked like the kind of equipment that street sweepers use here… except they had more, and tougher, bristles).
I remember that before the bridge, at the bit where the Corniche joins the Helwan Agricultral Road (Helwan el Zeraee – حلوان الزراعي), a two-door, dull blue-grey Suzuki Swift was speeding and he swerved heard in front of us, in the process of going from the right-most lane to its partner on the other side of the road.
The Taxi driver said: “Mesh Kol sawa2 ma3a rokhsa… we mesh kol wa7ed ma3a rokhsa sawa2. Aho el 7omar da mabye3rafsh yesoo2” (مش كل سواق معاه رخصة، و مش كل واحد معاه رخصة… سواق. أهو الحمار ده ما بيعرفش يسوق). [Translation: Not every driver has a license and not every person who has a license knows how to drive.] When the cabbie noticed that the car had the blue “Government” Registration plates (secretly, I was sure that was bound to bring forth some form of comment from him), he immediately said: “Mahee mesh beta3tak… mesh 7atkhaf 3aleiha” (ماهي مش بتاعتك – مش حتخاف عليها). [It is not yours (the car)... you're not worried about it.]
And he was right.
He asked me, rhetorically, why there still remain people who are either affiliated to the government or are government employees, whilst their pasts are “black with infamous deals, actions and crimes”. He asked me whether this was fair, or just, or even humane.
I saw him go through many emotions; indignation, anger, exasperation, sadness and trepidation during a twenty-minute ride.
They all deserve to be tried for their crimes against the Egyptian people.
[NOTE: Arabic inserted after original post was published.]
… keeps crossing my mind every now and then; setting up one of those Multi-Contributer Blogs which cater to a variety of topics and interests. In fact, I tried it once and attempted to contact people (who initially showed great enthusiasm) and ask them to contribute.
After the initial enthusiasm, things died out. Which was expected. Shamefully, only one post was published (and it wasn’t even mine!). When I think about it though, I think of the difficulties involved in setting something like this up. Or the lack of, at the same time.
A group of people who know each other well, are interested in blogging and generally agree on a good number of issues are more likely to set up something successful in that regard. Meanwhile, I suppose most of the others would start as individual or two-person endeavours and then expanding to include other bloggers (who would probably be known to the first individual or two through cyber-reputation, I guess).
Would people have to agree to set up something along the afore-mentioned lines and still ahve it be successful? I’m not sure about the answer to this one. Then there’s the language barrier. I, for example, can’t type worth sh*t in Arabic. Not to mention the fact that my written Arabic undergoes revival once every 5 years or so and I’m not at the beginning of that cycle. I can thus read Arabic language blogs, but I don’t know if Arabic language bloggers would a) read mine b) be interested in joining up with English language bloggers for something along those lines and c) be interested in working together for a two-language blog thingy.
Most of the bloggers I know personally a) (Obviously) have their own blog and b) are too busy for me to even think about asking them. Then there’s the issue of topics. Would it be Miscellaneous? Political? Socio-Economic? How about sports? Would be news-like? Or more informal? Will it have a message or is everyone free to express their opinions? No rights and wrongs, of course, but so many variables which people should agree on, if this endeavour is to be successful.
I guess I’m just going to lie dormant for the time being.
I haven’t commented at all on the current situation in the Middle East; the Israeli “invasion” of Gaza or Southern Lebanon. It’s because I feel that I don’t have anything new or original to add to the discussion. That and the fact that I try not to use my blog as a medium where I criticize other bloggers’ views.
I did find a debate, or discussion if you will, which I feel strongly enough towards that the urge to write something would not dissipate however much I willed it to. I am, of course, talking about the criticism of Hezbollah, by Arabs, in the past three weeks or so.
First of all, let me (for the umpteenth time) clearly say that I am staunchly anti-islamist when it comes to politics. Basically the day will not come that I would support an Islamic government over a secular one… no matter what.
Having said I wish to make it clear that I am 100% behind Hezbollah in the current endeavour. This stems from many reasons, of which I will list the most important to me:
Basically, these are the main reasons. I have no less then 6 more… but I really don’t think I needed to mention anything over any three of the aforementioned ones.
I don’t have any solutions though. Sadly. I can’t tell the Lebanese people what to feel or say; I don’t live there right now. I’m not Lebanese. But, so is every other non-Lebanese in the Arab World.
What I tell those others is this: why don’t you keep your god-damned mouth shut if you aren’t going to support Hezbollah. If you don’t like them, now is not the time (under ANY POSSIBLE CIRCUMSTANCES) to adopt the point of view of a country like Israel or the United States.
And that’s the way I see it.
Ahmed El-Sharqawi and Karim El Sha’er, two recently released activists with Youth for Change, have been abducted and detained from Abdel Khaleq Tharwat Street in downtown Cairo by plain clothes security agents.
The two were taken to Qasr El-Nil Police Station after their arrest. Inside the station, security agents took turns torturing the two young activists by severely beating them. Those agents then abused Sharqawi by inserting an object up his anus.
The two have been referred to the State Security Prosecutor’s office in Heliopolis (a Cairo neighbourhood). Their lawyer has managed to see them. The last thing known is that the two detainees refused to be interrogated, demanding medical examination by forensic authorities to document their injuries and the abuses carried out against them.
The two detainees have submitted official requests to that effect but that cannot happen before saturday (probably since Friday is the one unified official holiday in Egypt). Sharqawi and Sha’er also asked to be examined by a doctor, who was present, but their request was refused by the Prosecutor who also refused to have them transferred to a hospital.