Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Threatened Voices

One of the core issues on Fustat during it´s 50 something months has been Egyptian bloggers, their rights and violations against them. During the same period, Global Voices among many others has been a true friend of the Egyptian bloggers,taking over the torch from the Committee to Protect Bloggers if i remember correctly, in trying to track and provide help in form of a platform, being one of the hubs in fighting censorship, protect the written word online, and those bloggers/online journalists whom constitutes 45 per cent of all media workers in prison worldwide.

Those of you who follow my twitter account, might have noticed that my interest for free speech online, and bloggers rights is stretched around the globe, and not only to Egypt and the Arab World, so it will really be interesting to follow the new Global Voices advocacy project that is being launched today - Threatened Voices - described on it´s website as:

A collaborative mapping project to build a database of bloggers who have been threatened, arrested or killed for speaking out online and to draw attention to the campaigns to free them.

I´m looking forward to follow how this progress, and want to wish Sami Ben Gharbia and all at Global Voices involved in this ,as well as their network of partners the very best of luck!

This will be cross posted at Fustat.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Excuse Me Your Dick Is Out

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Excuse Me Your Dick Is Out
Daily Show
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Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

This one has nothing to do with the court verdict yesterday, banning pornographic websites in Egypt. It´s just the once regular Bush/Cheney-administration bashing,with the typical John Stewart touch.

I am almost getting nostalgic. It was so much easier to make good politial satire when the old administration was around. No further comment, just watch the clip, and enjoy!

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Nahna wa al Qamar jiraán

This is my contribution for the best ever Fairuz song, Nahna Wa al Qamar Jiraán, it´s a clip from the early days of the only living arabic diva, indeed the last of only a handful uniqe artists who shaped arabic music during the latter part of the 20th century, their legacy and influence will live on, for generations to come,just days ago we weré reminded of another icon in the same category, Muhammed Abdel Wahab .

The clip and the blog post is dedicated to Abu & Um Junia, both of whom played an instrumental part, in me falling in love with Fairuz´s fantastic repertoire.

All those Sunday mornings, with her, and the Rahbani brothers music on the CD-player, the most pleasant way of waking up before being treated to a full Lebanese weekend breakfast, quite the opposite of being deprived of sleep by waking up to the Red Army Choir on full wolume... believe me, i learnt it the hard way..

To Abu & Um Junia , for the very best of friendship, for more years than we wish to remember..

Also, Many thanks to Fida, and Lasto Adri for reminding me of how special this song is to me.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pope Benedict , Abu Kufiyeh

This photo was taken at the Vaticabn today, when the Pontiff recieved a Kufiyeh from a Palestinian Catholic youth group.

The ultimate symbol for Palestine on the pope´s head will certainly resonate both positively and negatively in the holy land, the importance of the Kufiyeh is perhaps overstressed by Yasser Hirbawi who owns one of the few Kufiyeh factories left in Palestine, but this Hebronite´s words is certainly not too far off:

"We are making the symbol of Palestine. This scarf is the history and the heritage of our country."

The pope will travel in the troubled holy land for a week from May 8th-15th.

Photo, courtesy of AP.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sandstorm in Riyadh

You can watch more photos on the Sandstorm in Riyadh in the Guardian and on Saudi Jeans.

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Open letter to Obama urging promotion of Democratic Reform & Human Rights in the Muslim World

Yesterday, 143 scholars from the U.S and abroad signed an Open Letter to President Obama, asking him to promote democratic reform and human rights in the Arab and Muslim World.

Obama coming in after eight years of Bush, with the symbolism of his victory and the new spirit of a different and if i may say so better White house,with a lot of positive capital, has never the less taken the world by surprise in terms of speed, it feels like the new administration has done more in 50 days than the former administration in half a term of office. Guantanamo is of course the most symbolic step, though i hope for more. Putting the peace process firmly on the agenda is another, though i can´t say that i´m that impressed with the administration´s less than subtle tilting toward Salam Fayyad as P.M in a new palestinian government, that is an internal matter, and the administration´s policy resembles the old one in practically every way visavi Hamas. There´s been tougher talk on Israeli settlements which is a good thing though. The Secretary of State didn´t impress me with her talk on human rights in Sharm al Sheikh, and the open letter couldn´t have come at a more appropiate time.

The list of scholars is a virtual Who´s who of Middle East analysts and democracy & human rights groups. To name but a few , Dr Anwar Ibrahim , the former Dep PM of Malaysia and current leader of the opposition, Michele Dunne, one of my favourite scholars , her colleague Nathan Brown, John Esposito my fellow Egyptian blogger and journalist Mona el Tahawy, her namesake Mona Yacoubian of the U.S peace Institute. Heavyweighters like Francis Fukuyama among many others.

It´s perhaps important to point out that three of the seven Egyptians/Egyptian/Americans who signed the petition to President Mubarak on Feb 28th, was also among the signatories to this letter, Saad Eddin Ibramin, Omar Affifi and Dina Guirgis.

I liked the fact that the letter includes parts of George Bush´s second inaugural speech as well as Condi Rice´s speech at the AUC in June 2005, and of course this line from the Obama inauguration -
“To those who cling to power through
corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side
of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

The most important part of the letter, is in my view this sample.

¨In his second inaugural address, President Bush pledged that the United States would no
longer support tyrants and would stand with those activists and reformers fighting for
democratic change. The Bush administration, however, quickly turned its back on Middle
East democracy after Islamist parties performed well in elections throughout the region.
This not only hurt the credibility of the United States, dismayed democrats and
emboldened extremists in the region, but also sent a powerful message to autocrats that they could reassert their power and crush the opposition with impunity.

In order to rebuild relations of mutual respect, it is critical that the United States be on the
right side of history regarding the human, civil, and political rights of the peoples of the
Middle East. There is no doubt that the people of the Middle East long for greater
freedom and democracy; they have proven themselves willing to fight for it. What they
need from your administration is a commitment to encourage political reform not through
wars, threats, or imposition, but through peaceful policies that reward governments that
take active and measurable steps towards genuine democratic reforms. Moreover, the US
should not hesitate to speak out in condemnation when opposition activists are unjustly
imprisoned in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, or elsewhere. When necessary, the
United States should use its considerable economic and diplomatic leverage to put
pressure on its allies in the region when they fail to meet basic standards of human rights.
We recognize that taking these steps will present both difficulties and dilemmas.
Accordingly, bold action is needed today more than ever. For too long, American policy
in the Middle East has been paralyzed by fear of Islamist parties coming to power. Some
of these fears are both legitimate and understandable; many Islamists advocate illiberal
policies. They need to do more to demonstrate their commitment to the rights of women
and religious minorities, and their willingness to tolerate dissent. However, most
mainstream Islamist groups in the region are nonviolent and respect the democratic

The letter makes a lot of sense to me, i never believed in W Bush´s democracy promotion talk , he was always a man of lofty words on democracy and human rights, but with very little intention of actually implementing any of the lofty language in real statements or policies on the ground. The authors of this letter praises his rhetoric while critizing the actual content of tools, or lack of tools of policy. He did the talk but shied away from the walk. In my view, the Bush administration liked to talk about human rights in Egypt, when it came to people like Ayman Nour and Saad Eddin Ibrahim, whom they could symphatize with and understand, but very seldom on human and political rights when the victim happend to be a member of the Muslim Brotherhood for instance. Speaking out against human rights violations, regardless of what political view the wictims of those violations should be policy, and that has not been the case since at least 2006.

I salute the 143 people who signed the letter.

The letter in it´s entirety can be found here. More can also be found at the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy(CSID). Michele Dunne writes about it here.

I might say something more about it tomorrow(it´s five o clock in the morning and i badly need my sleep).

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Happy Aid al Fitr and Rosh Hashannah 5769

I would like to wish a happy Eid al Fitr to my Muslim readers and Happy Rosh Hashannah, the Jewish new year to my Jewish readers, today it´s 2nd Tishri 5679.

Kol sanna wa antum tayyibin and Shana Tova Umetukah (A good and sweet year).

Kahk al Aid
There is something that´s practically obligatory on all tables in Egypt on Eid al Fitr, that is Kahk. This tradition of eating Kahk on Eid al Fitr goes back about 1000 years, during the Fatimid Dynasty in Egypt, according to legend the ruler al Aziz(975-996) used to distribute Kahk to the people of the newly established city of al Qahirah(Cairo), it was also about that time that al Azhar was created as a religious institution by the Fatimids.

I would like to send 1 Kg of virtual Kahk al Aid to Sheikh Youssef al qaradawi, the highly popular and influential religious scholar, whom himself was educated at the very same institution some 980 years later, if he were to take a walk down the Memory Lane of his formative al Azhar years he would find himself passing by al Kahkeen alley, were the Kahk makers used to create their culinary masterpieces in what seems to have been a cultural high point in the City´s history, when the City was governed by the Fatimids , whom ruled over a population, most of whom belonged to another Muslim Law school. Tolerance seem to have been the name of the game, for most of the Fatimid years(al Hakim´s rule differs sharply from that pattern).

Qaradawi has been acting rather cranky and grumpy, as of late and perhaps he needs the Kahk to recover from the feverish statements he gave during the latter part of Ramadan, he obviously had some Basbousa or Konafa that made it possible to see things in a slightly different light, but in my view the issue was totally uncalled for from the outset, just because it´s fashionable with that kind of rhetoric at this particular point in time, be it from so called statesmen or religious scholar, it dosent make it right.

Happy Aíd!

This will be cross-posted at Fustat

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Monday, September 15, 2008

First International Day of Democrracy

Today marks the first UN International day of Democray, the decision was taken on Nov 8th 2007. It´s about time i would say.... Better late than never! I´m celebrating!

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