Tuesday, December 27, 2005

On Mona Eltahawy

Mona Eltahawy is a bright, young, female egyptian journalist who lives in New York. I knew her primarily through the weekly article she writes for the panarab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, and I found most of her articles to be pretty mature for her relatively young age (she was born in 1967). She also writes in english, and I found some of the articles she published in western journals to denounce extremism in our midst [sample no. 1, sample no. 2], or to promote a better understanding of Islam in the West [sample no. 3] to be pretty good. (In some instances, I also found that she missed the mark, like here - but that's an other story.)

So much for the introduction. Recently, I learned that Mona Eltahawy has got herself in trouble after she published a coureageous opinion piece in the International Herald Tribune, in which she expressed sharp criticism of the elections in Egypt. Ms. Eltahawy was summoned to a meeting with egyptian officials, during which she was told that her actions are being monitored by the egyptian government.

Two thoughts about this incident. First, the egyptian government, by taking this step, actually lends credence to Ms. Eltahawy's assessment of the status of democracy and civil liberties in her country. Second, I think that the Egyptian government must feel in a position of force that enables it to do this, and sentence Ayman Nour to five years in prison for some rather dubious forgery allegations, without fearing an international uproar. In my opinion, this is evidence that Egypt is still being needed as one of Washington's key allies in the war on terror. Thus, in this particular case, we may again conclude that the threat of terrorism has only served to further strengthen a repressive arab regime and western ally, not exactly what the extremists sought.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Miscellanea

In yesterday's issue of the International Herald Tribune, an interesting article on the occasion of the centenary of the law separating the Church and the State in France. I especially liked the passage where the author likens the French interpretation of secularism to a new "state religion", which in my opinion is a fairly accurate characterization. France's brand of secularism is a self-centered, intolerant ideology that severely limits people's religious freedoms. What is worse is that, despite the recent riots and despite all the tensions that traverse French society because of it, the French people are not prepared to do anything about it.

There were also some disquieting comments by the iranian president. After eight years of conciliatory policies under former president Mohammad Khatami, Ahmadinejad is trying to revive the revolutionary zeal of the early days of the revolution, and his fiery comments are attracting growing suspicion from neighboring countries as well as from the West. I don't like bragging, and I find Ahmadinejad's bragging about Iran being the standard-bearer of "true islam" a little offensive. True islam, Mr. President, will shine through your actions, not just through your words. When your actions will measure up to the fairly high standards of your religion, people will notice, even if you don't say a single bragging word about it. This ideological bragging makes all the difference between Ahmadinejad and someone like Khatami. For while both were devout muslims, Khatami never bragged about it, or about his nation being at the forefront of "the struggle for Islam": he just let his actions speak for him. I am afraid that Ahmadinejad's comments will only invite trouble for his country and for the whole region.

[Note added: after I wrote the above, I discovered that Ghassan Sharbal has an opinion piece just about this in today's issue of al-Hayat. Take a look: it's a great read, as usual ;-) ]


Friday, December 16, 2005

"The French Democracy"

C'est le titre d'un "film" qu'Alex Chan, un jeune parisien issu de l'immigration (ses parents sont des immigres chinois), a produit au sujet des recents evenements de violence dans les banlieues francaises. Le film, qui a ete applaudi aussi bien par les internautes que par la presse internationale, dure a peu pres 13 minutes, et peut etre visionne avec Windows Media Player.

Pour voir le film, cliquez ici.

Pour lire des articles sur le film et son producteur, cliquez ici, ou bien ici :-)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Avian flu: is it a hoax ?

Wanna know more ? Click here, and read on :-)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

On Mohamed El-Baradei


In today's al-Hayat, there was a short biography of Mohamed el-Baradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who was this year's recipient of the Nobel peace prize.

Apparently, el-Baradei has declared that he would offer half his share of the prize money to support orphans in Egypt. A humane gesture worthy of great respect.

My sincere congratulations to Mr. El-Baradei, and to the egyptian people. The Egyptians now have four Nobel laureates. Very diplomatic and hard working, they definitely deserve their title of leaders of the arab world.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Un grand peuple

Alain Peyrefitte raconte dans ses memoires que le General de Gaulle, lors de son premier voyage en Allemagne de l'ouest apres la deuxieme guerre mondiale (c'etait en fait a la fin des annees 50, il s'etait rendu en RFA pour rencontrer le chancellier allemand Konrad Adenauer et sceller la reconciliation franco-allemande), etait tellement impressionne par la rapidite avec laquelle les allemands etaient entrain de reconstruire leur pays qu'il s'etait exclame a haute voix dans sa cabine de train: "Quel grand peuple !" Venant d'un leader nationaliste dont le pays avait ete envahi et occupe par les allemands, et qui avait combattu l'allemagne au cours d'une guerre specialement meurtriere, cette exclamation admirative etait pour le moins surprenante.

Je n'ai pas pu m'empecher de penser a de Gaulle et a sa fameuse exclamation quand, hier matin, j'ai lu dans un article du New York Times qu'un jury a Tampa avait disculpe un professeur palestinien de l'accusation "d'association avec un groupe terroriste" sur laquelle il avait ete demis de ses fonctions et emprisonne pendant de longs mois (certains ont vu dans son emprisonnement une volonte d'intimider les activistes pro-palestiniens, l'accuse ayant lui-meme ete un ardent activiste de la cause palestinienne aux Etats Unis). Dans l'amerique du "Patriot Act", des americains ordinaires donnent une lecon de justice et de liberte d'expression a leur gouvernement, et montrent encore une fois que ce sont en fait les gens ordinaires qui tiennent le plus aux ideaux d'egalite et de justice sur laquelle cette nation a ete fondee.

Malgre toutes ses contradictions et toutes ses tares, le peuple americain reste un grand peuple. Et il le demeurera tant qu'il y aura des gens comme les membres de ce jury de Floride pour croire a des ideaux que les politiciens ont depuis longtemps repudie.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Dennis Prager: Five questions non-muslims would like answered

In a recent LA Times article, radio talk show host Dennis Prager has addressed five provocative questions to the US muslim community that, he contends, non-muslims would like answered. The questions are as follows:

(1) Why are you so quiet? [i.e. : in the face of all the terror committed in the name of Islam]

(2) Why are none of the Palestinian terrorists Christian?

(3) Why is only one of the 47 Muslim-majority countries a free country?

(4) Why are so many atrocities committed and threatened by Muslims in the name of Islam?

(5) Why do countries governed by religious Muslims persecute other religions?

After having asked the above questions, he goes on to explain his motives:

"As a member of the media for nearly 25 years, I have a long record of reaching out to Muslims. Muslim leaders have invited me to speak at major mosques. In addition, I have studied Arabic and Islam, have visited most Arab and many other Muslim countries and conducted interfaith dialogues with Muslims in the United Arab Emirates as well as in the U.S. Politically, I have supported creation of a Palestinian state and supported (mistakenly, I now believe) the Oslo accords.

Hundreds of millions of non-Muslims want honest answers to these questions, even if the only answer you offer is, "Yes, we have real problems in Islam." Such an acknowledgment is infinitely better — for you and for the world — than dismissing us as anti-Muslim.

We await your response."

Now, here is a chance to explain our side of the story to somebody who is willing to listen. Any ideas on how one may, in an honest and objective way, address Mr. Prager's questions?

Monday, November 21, 2005

الرجل الثالث

In yesterday's al-Hayat, another great opinion piece by Ghassan Sharbal about the situation in Iraq: lucid and to the point.

Looking at the situation from afar, it seems to me that sunni arabs, being the great losers of the current war, have a very hard time agreeing on the new rules of the political game in Iraq, rules that are dictated by demographics and by the sheer numbers of non-sunni arabs, i.e. of shias and kurds. On the other hand, the shia and the kurds were so oppressed by successive sunni governments (not only by Saddam) in the last 40 years (in fact since the fall of the monarchy in Iraq, the latter having reportedly been more lenient toward them) that they won't trust sunni arabs anymore. The fact is, the situation in Iraq is far more complex than what most arab commentators will dare to admit, and as Ghassan Sharbal is explaining in his essay, it will take a lot of wisdom and of goodwill from all sides in order to achieve some sort of peace in Iraq and avoid the terrible specter of a civil war that has been looming on the country's horizon since the toppling of the Baath regime back in 2003.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

On the fate of al-Khalil's palestinian population

In yesterday's al-Hayat, an interesting article about the palestinians of al-Khalil (Hebron), and how they were coerced into fleeing their homes in the past decade:

أكد تحقيق صحافي نشرته صحيفة «هآرتس» أمس ان المستوطنين في محافظة الخليل وبدعم مباشر من جيش الاحتلال الاسرائيلي كانوا وراء إرغام نحو 30 ألفا من سكان المدينة على الرحيل تاركين وراءهم ممتلكاتهم وبيوتهم ليستولي عليها المستوطنون ويسكنوا بعضها ويدمروا أخرى ويعيثوا خراباً في ما تبقى.

وكتب الصحافي ميرون ربابورت بعد جولة قام بها في المنطقة المعروفة بـ «اتش 2» التي ما زالت تخضع للاحتلال الاسرائيلي ان الجيش الاسرائيلي يبرر ما حصل للفلسطينيين بأنه «فصل بين اليهود والعرب،» فيما يصفه الفلسطينيون بـ «الترانسفير» ويطلق عليه قائد قوات المراقبين الدوليين في المنطقة «تطهيراً». وأضاف الكاتب تحت عنوان «مدينة أشباح»: «تحت ضغط مزدوج من المستوطنين والجيش الاسرائيلي فرغ مركز مدينة الخليل من سكانه الفلسطينيين. لم يحصل مثل هذا الأمر منذ العام 1948. لم يبق من المواطنين الـ30 ألفاً سوى قلائل، والشوارع بدت خالية حتى يوم عيد الفطر».

To read the full text of the article, click here.

Monday, November 14, 2005

In memoriam

Mostafa Akkad, 1933-2005

Great Arab movie director, killed, with many others, in an ugly
act of mass murder in a Jordanian hotel while attending a wedding.

May your sole rest in peace. Amen.



Enemies of Life - Al-Hayat article (english)

Al-Hayat (arabic): مصطفى العقاد نشر رسالة الاسلام سينمائياً وسقط ضحية التطرّف

Asharq al-Awasat (arabic): عرس الدم: بطولة مصطفى العقاد

Sunday, November 06, 2005

A few thoughts about the Mehlis report

Now that the initial dust has settled, here are a few thoughts about the Mehlis report:

1. First, as most observers have noted, the report did not identify any single suspect. Instead, it has hinted to several possible leads, with only fragments of proof here and there, and no material evidence a prosecutor can build a case on, as of yet.

2. There has been a lot of fuss in the media (especially western media) about the role played by Syrian intelligence in Lebanon, and hence about a possible involvement of the Syrian government. Particular emphasis was put on the short but tense meeting between then Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and Syrian President Bashar Assad, where Assad bluntly told Hariri that Lahoud's mandate was to be extended for an additional term, or else to be prepared to incur Syria's wrath. As a good friend of mine pointed out to me, all this happened in August 2004, and Hariri has backed from his position (which was never publicly known anyway) and bowed to Assad's demand, and Lahoud's extension passed. Now, here is my question: how do these events constitute a motive for the assassination ?

3. In fact, there is nothing new in these elements: any observer even remotely familiar with lebanese affairs knew before the Mehlis report that Syria had a lot of influence in Lebanon, to say the least. The fact that a Syrian official (in this case the deputy foreign minister) has lied to the Mehlis commission cannot reasonably be considered as tangible proof of official Syrian involvement in the assasination. As my friend told me: "What did you want the Syrians to say ? That "yeah, we interfered in Lebanease affairs..."? Or that "yeah, we were running the show behind the scenes"? Of course they lied, as all other powers do every single day... Is that a reason to invade or embargo a country? If it is then there are many western democracies which should be invaded and embargoed in the first place." He may not be totally wrong.

4. Obviously, Syria's involvement in Lebanon was well-known to western governments, but not to the western public at large. In constitutional democracies, a certain degree of public support is needed in case a war is to be waged. It thus appears that the Mehlis commission was set up so that Syria's abuses in the Lebanon could be exposed in western media for later use by the war propaganda machine.

5. Of course, the Syrian government is a brutal dictatorship, which is capable of acts worse than this one. Yet, in this particular case, a clear motive for syrian involvement is lacking. Syria has not benefited in any way from Hariri's murder, and it is somehow difficult to believe that the syrians, which have played their lebanese cards so intelligently in the past, may have (mis)calculated that they would reap any benefit from the crime. Of course, I am not trying to absolve the Syrians, but sometimes, one has to look for the culprit in the most unexpected places.



To read more:

Jihad al-Khazen, on the possible role played by the sect of the Ahbash: The International Investigation and Old Security Files

Hazem Saghieh, on how Baath's ideology has driven Syria to the current impasse: Sacrificing the Baath to Rescue Syria

Mohammad Sayed Saeed, on what might be next for Syria: اختيارات صعبة بعد تقرير ميليس

Abdulwahab Badr Khan: الجميع كان يعرف

Dawood Shirian, recounting a meeting with Syrian Defense Minister before he "commited suicide": This is how I saw Ghazi Kanaan

Thursday, October 20, 2005

On Saddam's trial

Read, today, a very good opinion piece by Gassan Sharbal, editor in chief of al-Hayat, about the trial of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Check it out when you get a chance: it's just excellent.

In my personal opinion, Saddam is someone who deserves the death penalty not only once, but a million times. And yet, for the sake of justice, he must have the right to a fair trial, with due process and access to legal counsel.

A friend of mine jokingly told me: "If it was for me, I would just let him go." Then he added: "On the condition that he takes home in some popular (i.e. modest) neighborhood of Baghdad."

I bet there are a lot of shia in Sadr City (and elsewhere) who would love to have him as a neighbor :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Saddam Hussein and the town of Dujayl

In today's Los Angeles Times, a very sad story about the atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein, more specifically about the revenge he took on the people of Dujayl, a shii dominated small town 40 kilometers north of Baghdad, after a failed attempt on his life by someone there. The story is a little long, but certainly worth a read:

DUJAYL, Iraq — Once a torrent of water coursed through this central Iraq town, which takes its name from Nahr Dujayl, the Little Tigris River that for centuries nourished its lush palm groves and orchards.

Now, only raw sewage flows through open gutters along the city's unpaved alleyways.

Inside a mud-brick home, an old man chokes back tears as he recalls his three sons. They were killed, prosecutors say, as a result of then-President Saddam Hussein's vengeful fury following a 1982 assassination attempt.

"One by one, my sons were taken from me," said Ali Hossein Mussawi, a 68-year-old onetime farmer. His humble living room is filled with fading photographs of the three young men. "Saddam took away my sons, he took away half of my heart."

Hussein's Sunni Muslim-dominated regime unleashed a wave of retaliation within hours of the July 8, 1982, attack in the Shiite-majority city, Iraqi officials, prosecutors and witnesses say. At least 148 were rounded up and executed, an Iraqi prosecutor said. Some estimate three times that many were killed. Prosecutors allege that almost 400 men, women and even children were in custody for years.

The small river running through the town, which gave it life and prosperity, was cut off, plowed over and eventually turned into an asphalt road. The date palm groves and gardens where residents earned their livelihoods were bulldozed or left unwatered until they died too, according to prosecutors and townspeople.

Few Iraqis were brave enough to speak about events in Dujayl. Days after the botched assassination, the state-controlled newspaper Thawra sardonically hailed plans to "redevelop" and upgrade the town.

But as soon as Hussein fell in April 2003, people began speaking out. "If someone tries to kill the president, you should arrest the suspects," said Jawad Massoud, 38, a produce wholesaler and Dujayl native who lost relatives. "Why destroy everything? Why punish everybody?"

To read the full text of the article, click here.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

On Turkey's prospects for joining the EU

Read, yesterday, an interesting article in Al-Ittihad by a Lebanese intellectual about Turkey's candidacy for membership of the EU, and what this entails for both Turkey and western Europe:

استطاعت تركيا بفضل مساعدة بريطانيا (أو بالأحرى الولايات المتحدة) الفوز بالدخول إلى مفاوضات العضوية الكاملة مع الاتحاد الأوروبي· وهذا الانتصار الذي عملتْ له تركيا سنواتٍ وسنوات له حدودٌ طبعاً بقدْر ما لهُ من آفاق· حدودُهُ تتمثل في طول المدة التي تستغرقُها المفاوضات على العضوية الكاملة: عشر سنوات! وحدودُهُ التشكيك من جانب دولٍ أوروبيةٍ عديدة في طليعتها فرنسا(!) في إمكان انتهاء المفاوضات بالعضوية· أمّا الآفاقُ فبعضُها مُدّعى أو مأمول، وبعضُها الآخَر تحقّق أو هو في طريقه لذلك·

أولُ المتحقّق وأَهمُّهُ: تغيير وجهة تركيا، من دولةٍ شرقيةٍ وعسكرية الطابع، إلى أُخرى أوروبية أو غربية حديثة· والأمر الأول ما بدأ اليومَ، ولا مع الدخول في المفاوضات مع أوروبا قبل ثماني سنوات· إنما بدأ بدخول تركيا في حلف الأطلسي عشية نشوب الحرب الباردة أواخرَ الأربعينيات· وقد ترتبت على هذا الدخول تغييراتٌ استراتيجيةٌ كبرى أهمُّها تحوُّلُ تركيا إلى دولة مواجهة على حدود الاتحاد السوفييتي، مما رفع من قيمة موقعها من جهة، وعرَّضها لمخاطر من جهةٍ ثانية· وعلينا أن لا ننسى أن تركيا شاركت عسكرياً في كل مواجهات حلف الأطلسي: من الحرب الكورية عام 1951 وحتى حرب أفغانستان عام 2001/·2002 بيد أنَّ الدور البارز للعسكريين الأتراك في السياسات الداخلية خلال عقود الحرب الباردة، عرّض الدولة الوطنية التركية لخضّاتٍ وتعطيلات للدستور وللنظام ذي الطابع الديمقراطي، والذي تحول لأكثر من عقدٍ في ما بين الخمسينيات والثمانينيات من القرن الماضي، إلى نظامٍ عسكري، استتر حيناً بالعلمانية، وأحياناً بضرورات الانتظام الداخلي والاستقرار

To read the full text of the article, click here.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

All Moroccan schools to have internet connection in three years

Morocco is launching a project aiming at equipping all schools with Internet connections within three years, which will benefit six millions students. The cost, it is said, is only about US $133 millions. This is certainly a good move, and might help our future youth to use the Net in other ways than chatting, which is by far the activity of choice of today’s Moroccans. Besides that, such a decision means, logically, that Morocco should hire a large number of computer application teachers and IT technicians. Logically. Wait and see!

On a different, albeit related, topic, there are 100,000 Moroccan subscribers to Internet, 60% of which using the ADSL. Although the price for having such a service is slightly higher than, say, in the US, and although salaries are by no means comparable between the two countries, it is quite interesting that many people in Morocco assert that ADSL is not expensive. Getting used to expensive life might explain such a difference in price appreciation!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Robin Cook, a man of dignity

"We would have made more progress against terrorism if we had brought peace to Palestine rather than war to Iraq".

These were the words of Robin Cook, who has suddenly passed away this weekend, while he was hiking in the Scottish Highlands. He was a man of great political integrity and "one of the most principled and eloquent politicians of our time", according to The Independent. One of his articles, published in the aftermath of London’s terrorist attacks, is in one of our previous topics.

If we had a sufficient number of politicians of his caliber, we sure would have been living in a better world.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

On defining terrorism

Isn’t it ironic that "terrorism", a word in everyone’s mouth now, and arguably the most debated issue over the last five years, has yet to be explicitly defined? Neither the United Nations, nor less prestigious institutions, - let alone individual nations- have ever dared to propose a concise definition of the word “terrorism”.

Owing to the recrudescence of terrorism in the recent weeks, Kofi Annan looks more eager to convince all the protagonists on a single and clear definition. According to this article, he seems to have convinced Amr Moussa the head of Arab League for accepting this definition: Terrorism is "any intentional maiming or killing of civilians as terrorism, regardless of cause". Amr Moussa’s reaction "This is a definition we can agree on", certainly under the pressure of the last bombings in London and Charm Sheikh, is not in line with that of the Arab states, who are not reluctant for condemning terrorism per se but do not want this definition to be applied to Palestinian suicide bombings, because, they say, this should be seen as a "right of national liberation movements to fight foreign occupation".

In my view, this attitude, in addition of being morally unacceptable, is defensive and counterproductive. If anything, it is only fueling the misunderstanding between Muslim and Western civilizations. What are Arab States expecting when they show reluctance to back such a clear statement as "intentional maiming or killing of civilians is terrorism, regardless of cause", other than a further alienation of Muslims and Arabs from the rest of the world? My guess is that Arab leaders fear the anger of the Arab “Street” that a condoning of Annan’s proposal might entail. They will be seen, they think, as “selling the Palestinian cause” and acting as a proxy of Western imperialism. This is nonsense and the kind of things, which are preventing us from moving ahead.

Instead of adopting a hardly defendable stance, Arab states should be much more offensive. They should condemn any Palestinian suicide bombings targeting civilians. They just can’t hide behind the eternal excuse of resistance. After all, Bin Laden and company, use this very argument to justify terrorism, which, they claim, is a response to injustices done to Palestine, Iraq and other Muslim lands. By offensive, I mean they should not only accept without questioning Annan’s proposal, but go beyond. They should say, that yes, Palestinian suicide bombings against Israeli civilians is terrorism. They should insist, moreover, that the definition of terrorism stated above should be as protective of civilians as possible. By this, I mean that any excuse by somebody (or some entity) killing civilians that he (it) intended to kill some “enemy” that happened to be close to them is unacceptable. In this case, any bombing of an enemy is some urban street or place should be considered as terrorism. Accordingly, Sheikh Yassine and Rantissi assassinations should be declared as terrorism because along with them many civilians were assassinated. Otherwise, the definition of terrorism above will be useless. Any suicide bomber might also claim that killing those civilians in Israel was intended to kill the military personnel that happened to be 30 meters away… The moral of the story is that, to effectively fight terrorism, we shouldn’t play games with coherence. Either we decide once for all to be coherent either we must admit that we are fooling ourselves and are acting irresponsibly.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Tharwa project

Diversity is a notion that is not sufficiently appreciated in the muslim world these days. Today, I want to share with you a website that is dedicated to increasing the muslim people's awareness of the rights of minorities within their societies and of the benefits of cultural and ethnic diversity. The website bears the name of "Tharwa", or wealth. Its motto says it all: "Difference is Wealth" (The arabic version of the website says: "الإختلا ف ثروة") This is a international initiative, with financial support provided by several NGOs from across Europe, and with a diverse advisory committee, with such serious academics and journalists as Saad Eddine Ibrahim, Gilles Kepel, or Brian Whitaker. The mission statement of the Tharwa project states that it is " an independent initiative that seeks to provide a free platform for the discussion and dissemination of ideas that can contribute to raising the standards of civic awareness in the Broader Middle East and North Africa Region".

The goals of the project include:

• Facilitating the occurrence of a constructive dialogue between the various communities inhabiting the Broader Middle East and North Africa Region.

• Supporting ongoing processes of democratization in the Region, especially local independent initiatives.

• Supporting ongoing peace-building initiatives in the Region.

• Providing a more objective and balanced coverage of developments in the Region, specifically those with potential implications for inter-community and gender relations as well as youth issues.

• Creating a network of organizations and individuals interested in raising the standards of civic awareness and involvement in the Region.

• Engaging in activities and programs meant to help empower the Region’s youth movements.

• Helping in bringing greater understanding to gender-related issues in the Region.

• Assisting in monitoring and assessing developments with potential impact on the Region’s physical environment.

• Remaining committed to and helping promote the basic principles of human rights and dignity outlined in such charters as the International Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, among others.

I invite you to have a look at the Tharwa website [english, arabic], it's worth the detour. Happy reading!

Friday, July 08, 2005

Best and worst articles on London attacks: Jallal's selection

Well, here is my own list of the top ten articles (in decreasing order) regarding the terrorist attacks in London. This post will be edited in order to add new entries and update the ranking according to the quality of the articles. I might also add a list of worst articles.


Top Ten Articles

1. Khaled al-Harrub, Palestinian writer and London resident, in al-Hayat.

2. The struggle against terrorism cannot be won by military means, by Robin Cook.

3. The reaction of Tariq Ramadan, in English et en Français.

4. Ken Livingstone's statement

5. So who was it? First impressions, by Jason Burke

6. Al-Qaida: Wrong answers to real problems, by Soumayya Ghannoushi

7. We rock the boat, by Dilpazier Aslam

8. Challenge to civic society, by Leader (The Guardian). This is a highly respectable reaction to the shocking announcement that the suicide bombers are likely to be four British-born youngsters.

9. The Sun and the terrorists: an unholy alliance, by Oscar Reyes.

10. The label of Catholic terror was never used about the IRA, by Karen Armstrong

Worst Articles

1. Nothing surprising, Why here and why now? by Anthony France (The Sun).

2. Sans surprise, Pascal Bruckner : «Gare à la rhétorique de l'«apaisement !»

3. Du sang et des larmes, par Alain Hertoghe

4. Needless to even mention the likes of Ann Coulter, D. Pipes, Scarborough, Savage, O’Reilly, Bill Maher and many others. I stopped watching/reading them a long time ago.

Top ten opinion articles on London attacks: Karim's picks

Here is a short list of the most interesting articles I have read so far on the London attacks (I will update the list in the next few days as I read more articles). After I am done with the list, I will try to comment on each article and why I included it in my list (at Jallal's suggestion, I might also do a "worst article" list):

1. Khaled al-Harrub, Palestinian writer and London resident, in al-Hayat, on how the muslim community in England should respond to the London attacks.

2. Op-ed piece by Thomas Friedman in the NY Times: If it's a muslim problem, it needs a muslim solution. [For an arabic version of this article, click here.]

3. The Newsweek editor Fareed Zakaria, in Khaleej Times International: Prevailing over terror

4. Abdurrahmane Arrashid, in Asharq al-Awsat: قلنا لكم امنعوهم.. واليوم نقول اطردوهم

5. Ghassan Charbal, Editor in chief of al-Hayat: في سياق الحرب العالمية

6. Carlos Fuentes, in the spanish newspaper El Pais: London, the terror

7. Tareq al-Hamid, in Asharq al-Awsat: ارفع القبعة احتراما

8. Jamal Khashqaji, in al-Ittihad: من بين ركام تفجيرات لندن: لماذا يتطرف مسلم ويعتدل آخر؟

9. Olivier Roy, entretien accorde au quotidien francais Le Monde du 09 Juillet 2005.

10. Jihad al-Khazen, in al-Hayat: (الارهاربيون لا يستحقون الحياة)

Thursday, July 07, 2005

On today's terrorist attacks in London

As I arrived to work this morning, and went online for my usual tour of newspapers and media outlets, I discovered, to my horror, that the London subway has been the target of terrorist attacks. In the words of Ken Livingstone, mayor of London: "This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty or the powerful, it is not aimed at presidents or prime ministers, it was aimed at ordinary working-class Londoners," he told reporters. "Black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindus and Jews, young and old," he said. It was an "indiscriminate attempt to slaughter irrespective of any considerations for age, class, religion -- whatever."

In these sad moments, my thoughts and prayers go to the victims and their families.

Today's cowardly attacks show one more time the ugly face of ignorance combined with religious fanaticism. Let's face it: muslims today are in a state of deep moral crisis, and the large majority of them do not even know it. The day the muslim ummah will realize how much the religious discourse of certain currents within it has deviated from Islam's ideals of humanity and justice, we will have gone a long way toward eradicating this evil among us.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

On the outcome of the Iranian presidential elections

In yesterday's al-Hayat, an interesting and quite balanced opinion piece on the Iranian presidential elections:

درس في الديموقراطية

جهاد الخازن الحياة - 28/06/05

نتائج انتخابات الرئاسة الايرانية صدمت الولايات المتحدة وفاجأتنا، وأعطت الجميع درساً في الديموقراطية

كانت الادارة الاميركية قررت سلفاً ان الانتخابات الايرانية غير ديموقراطية، وتبعها "صوت سيده" البريطاني، الا ان الحقيقة الناصعة هي ان الانتخابات كانت ديموقراطية جداً، على رغم استبعاد معارضين ونساء، وهي قد تكون اقل ديموقراطية من الانتخابات البريطانية، الا انها في مستوى ديموقراطية الانتخابات الاميركية حيث اجد شائبة غلبة عنصر المال من مستوى استبعاد ناس عن الترشح في ايران.

اذا كانت ادارة بوش تريد فعلاً ديموقراطية وحرية في العالم كله، خصوصاً الشرق الاوسط، فعليها تحمل نتائجها كما رأينا في ايران، حيث فاز مرشح متشدد قريب جداً من مرشد الثورة الاسلامية على مرشح لم يكن اصلاحياً اصلاً، وانما هو احد رموز الثورة منذ قيامه

To read full text of the article, click here.

If you'd rather read something in English, I would strongly recommend this thoughtful post on Jawad's blog, or this article from today's Slate. Both make the case, rightly I think, that domestic issues played a decisive role in the iranian elections (for the record, the NY Times ran an article with basically the same analysis). Finally, an insider's opinion: an interview on today's al-Hayat of an iranian cleric and director of a "strategic studies" center in Qom, Iran. The interview, in my opinion, shows that iranians have attained a degree of political maturity that is still unparalleled in most muslim countries (with very few exceptions, such as Malaysia and Turkey), even though they still have quite a long way to come to achieve true democracy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

On the upcoming presidential elections in Iran

In today's New York Times, an interesting article on the presidential elections in Iran this coming Friday:


Iran's Giant Question Mark: To Vote or Not?

By NEIL MacFARQUHAR

TEHRAN - With just days left in Iran's short presidential election campaign, the reformist camp finds itself facing a fork in the road: to vote or to boycott the ballot.

Iran's reform movement emerged full-blown after the surprise triumph of President Mohammad Khatami in 1997. After he defeated the chosen candidate of Iran's mullahs by a wide margin, hopes soared among many Iranians that he could usher in greater political and social freedoms. But hard-line clerics retained control over the powerful police, judiciary and intelligence agencies, reining in demonstrations, shutting down outspoken newspapers and disqualifying reformist candidates for office.

To read full text of article, click here.

I have always thought that boycotting an election was a very counterproductive form of political activism, and that is why I very much respect and support the position of Dr. Mostafa Moin, the reformist candidate, who refused to heed other reformists' demands that he withdraws from the presidential race. I also always thought that a more liberal Iran, with genuine democracy, solid institutions and true constitutional checks and balances, can be of great positive influence on islamist movements on a global scale, and can help shape the islamist political discourse in the arab world. So let us hope that the Iranian elections of this coming Friday will bring to power the right person who can deal with the pressing social and economic issues facing iranian society and at the same time negociate a better share of power for the office of president of the Islamic Republic.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Patrick Seal on the prospects of democracy in the middle-east

Patrick Seal is undoubtedly one of the most knowledgeable european specialists of the middle-east, and one of the foremost advocates of arab issues in the West. Today, I would like to share with you an opinion piece by him that has appeared in today's al-Hayat on the prospects of democratisation in the arab world (I think I read somewhere that he has perfect command of arabic, and I would not be surprized if what you will actually read was written directly in that language):

أي أمل في ديموقراطية العرب؟

باتريك سيل الحياة 2005/06/3

هنالك في العالم العربي اليوم ظاهرة لافتة تتمثل في شعور السأم ونفاد الصبر يكاد يبلغ الثورة على الوضع الراهن. فالتعطش إلى التغيير أصبح ملموساً، والعرب من المحيط إلى الخليج - عدا بعض الاستثناءات النادرة - مستاؤون من سياسات حكامهم ويسود شعور في بعض الدول بأن هناك انفجاراً قريباً.

وحين يصيح المصريون مرددين «كفاية»، فإنهم يعبرون عن مزاج من التحدي والتمرد يكاد يعم، بصورة أو بأخرى، العديد من المدن العربية الكبرى.

وربما كانت الشكوى الرئيسية التي تغذي هذه الظاهرة تكمن في الطبيعة القمعية للأنظمة العربية. فالنخبة الحاكمة تتشبث بالتمسك بالسلطة وبالامتيازات الاقتصادية حتى لو كان في ذلك محذور دمار البلاد. فالفساد في حالة اجتياح وتوزيع الثروات غير عادل والفقر منتشر في كل مكان، والمعارضة مخنوقة، وأما الحوار فيندر التسامح معه. كل ذلك أدى إلى خلق خزان ضخم من الظلم يهدد بالتحول إلى عصيان.

ولعل أحد عوائق التغيير هو ازدواج السلطة السياسية بالمكاسب الاقتصادية. فإذا كان فقدان السلطة سيؤدي إلى فقدان الثروة - وربما إلى فقدان الحياة - فلن تتخلى النخب الحاكمة بمحض إرادتها عن السلطة. وأما المصدر الثاني لنقمة الجماهير فهو عجز الدول العربية عن حماية نفسها من الأعداء الخارجيين. ورغم الموارد النفطية الضخمة فإن الأنظمة العربية تبدو عاجزة عن إنشاء أنظمة مسلحة فاعلة. فلا تزال إسرائيل تتابع تدمير المجتمع الفلسطيني من دون أي عقاب. في الوقت الذي هاجمت أميركا بكل صلف واحتلت ودمرت بلداً عربياً كبيراً من دون أي اعتراض أو استنكار من جانب الأسرة العربية

To read the full text of the article, click here.

The author seems to believe that democratisation of the middle-east is inescapable, and that it is only a question of time before change takes place, and on this I tend to agree (even though the pace of change is much slower than what one would hope for). He also pleads in favor of nonviolent means to achieve democratisation, and I also agree on that, even though I fear that the situation in many places is getting so explosive that it may well run out of control.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Saad Hariri triumphs in Beirut vote

A couple of months ago, Saad Hariri, the son of assassinated former Primer minister Rafik Hariri, was known only as a young highly successful businessman in Saudi Arabia, taking care of the empire built by his father. Today, he is on the verge of becoming next Lebanon’s prime minister, nothing less! The bloc of candidates he led won all City of Beirut’s seats in the first elections held in Lebanon after Syrian troops left the country.
As this article points out, Saad Hariri’s list was a strong one. By including among others such prominent forces as Hezbollah and some Christian parties, the chances of losing were quite slim. This kind of coalition built around a wide spectrum of political and ethnical parties shows that this country is much ahead in the Arab world as far as the game of politics and democracy is concerned. The war that devastated the country is certainty one of the reasons for that. Less flattering though, is the fact that Hariri’s campaign rhetoric was mainly an emotional one, being heavily associated with his father “martyrdom”. Worse, the fact that Saad Hariri is keen in becoming the prime minister, although he is a novice in politics, without any experience whatsoever, and the fact that the nation does not seem to oppose what would be an amazing shift in Saad’s career, shows, in my opinion, the fragility of Lebanon’s democracy.

هل يجوز للمرأة أن تقود السيارة؟

Read, today, a very interesting article by the Saudi political scientist Khaled al-Dakheel on the "debate" currently taking place in Saudi Arabia on whether women should be allowed to drive cars:

تعود للمرة الرابعة, وربما الخامسة, قضية قيادة المرأة للسيارة موضوعا للجدل في المجتمع السعودي. والجدل الساخن, بل والحاد أحيانا. ما يميز بروز القضية هذه المرة أن الجدل بدأ من داخل مجلس الشورى, وعلى يد الدكتور محمد آل زلفة, عضو المجلس. ومن هناك انطلق موضوعا للأخذ والرد على طول المجتمع وعرضه: في المجالس, والصحف, ومنتديات الإنترنت عدا طبعا التلفزيون السعودي الذي عادة ما يتعفف عن الدخول في مواضيع أو نقاشات تتسم بالحيوية والسخونة, وذات علاقة بهموم الداخل.
لا يمكن بأية حال أن يستمر منع المرأة السعودية من القيادة إلى الأبد, وأظن أن هذا أمر بديهي وواضح. لكن لا بأس هنا من إيراد الأدلة على ذلك. أبرز هذه الأدلة وأكثرها مباشرة يتمثل تحديدا في إلحاح المشكلة على البروز بشكل مستمر, وضاغط على المجتمع. قبل ثلاثين سنة على الأقل لم تكن المشكلة مطروحة. والسبب بسيط وملحوظ لمن يريد أن يتعامل مع الواقع. آنذاك لم يكن المجتمع في حالة تجعل من قيادة المرأة إشكالية تتطلب المواجهة. أما الآن فقد أضحى الوضع على العكس من ذلك تماما. أصبحت قيادة المرأة مشكلة, ولا أحد ينكر ذلك, خاصة المعارضين لقيادة المرأة. كلاهما, المؤيد للقيادة والمعارض لها يعترف بوجود المشكلة الآن, لكنهما يختلفان حول الحل الناجع لها. بل إن المجتمع ككل اعترف بوجود المشكلة, إلا أنه بدل مواجهتها اضطر للهروب منها باعتماد فكرة السائق الأجنب

To read the full text of the article, click here.

Given the impact that Saudi Arabia has on muslims and on the image of Islam worldwide, it is to be hoped that saudi society will evolve toward a more reasonable and mature interpretation of islamic teachings. Salafism, in its current form, is definitely not the answer.

Friday, May 20, 2005

One year after the Abu Ghraib scandal: the humiliation of muslim detainees continues

[The following are excrepts from a statement of Human Rights Watch - click on the link below to access full text of the statement.]

Human Rights Watch said that the dispute over the retracted allegations in Newsweek that U.S. interrogators had desecrated a Koran at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has overshadowed the fact that religious humiliation of detainees at Guantánamo and elsewhere has been widespread.

Newsweek was not to blame for the damage inflicted in the riots, Human Rights Watch said.

“The damage in the riots was directly caused by violent protestors and poorly disciplined Afghan police and troops, not by Newsweek’s editors,” said Reed Brody, special counsel for Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch noted that the Newsweek story would not have resonated had it not been for the United States’ extensive abuse of Muslim detainees.

“If the U.S. government wants to repair the public relations damage caused by its mistreatment of detainees, it needs to investigate those who ordered or condoned this abuse, not attack those who have reported on it,” said Brody.

Common Article 3 to the Geneva Conventions, which sets out minimum requirements for the treatment of persons in armed conflicts, requires detainees to be treated humanely without adverse distinction based on religion or faith. Outrages upon personal dignity are prohibited, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.

On improving the image of Islam in the West

On today's Wajahat, a very interesting article on what muslims can do to improve the image of their religion in the Western hemisphere. I won't comment much on the article, it doesn't really need any comment. Read and see for yourself, it's well worth a few minutes of your time :)

في إحدى ضواحي شيكاغو تقع منطقة سكنية لا يقيم فيها سوى أميركيون سود من أصل أفريقي. وفي قاعة الكنيسة الميثودية- الأنجيلية- التي امتلأت بالمؤمنين رجالاً ونساء وجدت أن أفضل ما يمكن أن أبدأ به حديثي إليهم هو رواية قصة الأمير عبد الرحمن؛ لقد كان أميراً أفريقياً, درس في مدينة تمبكتو - مالي اليوم- عندما كانت واحة للعلم في أفريقيا جنوب الصحراء. وفي تمبكتو عرف الأمير بإصابة زائر أيرلندي يدعى الدكتور جون كوكس بمرض شديد. فاهتم به واستضافه في بيته وسهر على علاجه حتى شفي تماماً. ثم ساعده على العودة إلى بلاده آمناً سالماً. غير أن الأمير عبد الرحمن وكان عمره 26 عاماً سرعان ما وقع بعد ذلك في أسر تجار الرقيق الذين نقلوه مع مئات آخرين من أبناء تمبكتو بحراً إلى الولايات المتحدة حيث اشترته إحدى العائلات الأميركية في ولاية مسيسيبي. في عام 1807 وبعد أن ضربت المجاعة أيرلندا، هاجر الدكتور كوكس إلى الولايات المتحدة واستوطن فيها. وشاءت الأقدار أن يلتقي صدفة في سوق الخضار في بلدة "ناتشه" بالأمير - المستعبد - عبد الرحمن. حاول مساعدته دون جدوى. فالسيد الذي اشتراه من سوق النخاسة كان يتمسك به ويرفض المساومة على التخلّي عنه. بعد مرور 25 عاماً على استعباده وجد الأمير طريقه إلى الحرية، فعاد إلى بلاده حيث وافته المنية بعد ذلك بوقت قصير

To read full article, click here.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

اللهم احمنا من حمقى المسلمين، قبل أن تحمينا من حمقى غيرهم

Interesting article on al-Ittihad of today by a Saudi writer, about the irresponsible behaviour of some religiously observant people with superficial understanding of the tenets and ultimate purpose of their religion. I found the article to be a little comical, although in a sad way. Have a look:

أتذكر صديقاً متديناً في السعودية توقف عند عامل آسيوي كان يعمل في بناء منشأة جديدة، بين الأذان والإقامة، فنزل إليه وقبل أن يسأله لمَ لمْ يتوجه للصلاة؟ أو لمَ لمْ يتوقف عن العمل إن لم يكن مسلماً؟ فإذا به يهوي على وجهه بصفعة اهتززت لها مع أني لم أكن صافعاً ولا مصفوعاً! غني عن القول إن صاحبنا الصافع كان قبل بضع سنوات من الحادثة أحد من تتمنى قوات الشرطة القبض عليهم نظير احترافهم "التفحيط"، وهي عادة شبابية تنتشر عند شباب الخليج بالذات، يقوم صاحبها بالتمايل بالسيارة كما لو كانت لعبة وسط حضور مشجعين، كلهم من المراهقين، مقامراً بحياته، وحياة من حوله، دون توفر أدنى أسباب السلامة في المكان أو الهواية، فكيف بتوفر نظامية التصرف من الأساس

To read full article, click here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

At long last: Koweiti women gain political rights

Encouraging news today: the Kuwaiti parliament has voted to give women the right to vote and to run for office. It is to be hoped that other states in the region will follow in Koweit's footsteps, although in ultraconservative places like Saudi Arabia, that may prove difficult.

I previously had thought that the process of granting women political rights in Kuwait would take a long time. I was wrong, and I hope future will prove me wrong in the case of Saudi Arabia too!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Arab-Latin American summit

Lula, the first leftist president ever of Brazil, is striving, since he was elected a couple of years ago, to help third world and emerging countries to rise up and counter the hegemony of the superpowers on world’s economy. The task is certainly a tremendous one but Lula is showing his pairs that such an endeavor is worth it. He has multiplied visits to Arab states and is organizing now a summit between Latin America and the Arab world. Arab countries would be much inspired if they follow Lula’s steps and look for alternatives markets instead of continuing to be closely tied to the same partners. The latter are certainly not keen on changing the status-quo.
Jallal

Monday, May 09, 2005

Ghassan Sharbel on the uneasy transition in the Middle-east

Read, today, an outstanding analysis by Ghassan Sharbel (al-Hayat's editor in chief) about the difficult transition many middle-east countries are now facing:

لا غرابة في ارتباك دول المنطقة وشعوبها. المهمات المطروحة استثنائية فعلاً. ما كان ممكناً قبل أعوام صار متعذراً أو مستحيلاً. لم يعد إقفال النوافذ يجدي في إبعاد الرياح. انها تتسلل بلا استئذان عبر شاشات الفضائيات والانترنت والشروط الجديدة للعلاقات الدولية وعبر العلاقات الاقتصادية ايضاً. لم يعد الجمود ضمانة للاستقرار والاستمرار. تحول عبئاً ينذر بمضاعفة الصعوبات والمخاطر. لا بد من التحرك إذاً لحماية الاستقرار بالتغيير. وهنا يطرح السؤال عن الاستعداد والقابلية والضغوط والقدرة على التكيف والبوصلة. كل الملفات المؤجلة انفتحت دفعة واحدة.

To read the full text of this article (which I strongly recommend to anyone interested in middle-east politics), click here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Moderation

Each new day which passes convinces me a little more of the great political maturity of the shia leadership in Iraq. While, a few days ago, the sunni leader and vice-president Ghazi al-Yawr was asking for seven ministries for the sunnis in the new iraqi government (despite the fact that sunni arabs are a tiny minority in the newly elected parliament), today, there was a report in al-Hayat that Grand Ayatollah al-Seestani has advised the prime minister to offer ten ministries to the sunnis as an effort of goodwill to appease the fears of shii hegemony of their sunni brethren. I am decidedly very impressed by the Grand Ayatollah's moderation.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Is Hamas becoming another Taliban?

In today's Wajhat, an interesting opinion piece by the Palestinian coulumnist Khaled Al-Harroub about an incident in Gaza where, allegedly, armed islamists from Hamas killed a Palestinian woman while she and her fiancee were having some intimate moments in a car near a beach in Gaza:

مقتل الشابة الفلسطينية يسرى العزامي في سيارة خطيبها على شاطئ غزة يوم 10 إبريل برصاص مسلحين منسوبين إلى حماس وبوازع "الردع الأخلاقي ومحاربة الفساد"، وضرب خطيبها وإسالة دمائه، هو جرس إنذار خطير وأكثر من أن يكون حادثة عابرة لا تستحق التوقف عندها. خطورة هذا الحادث تتجلى في كونه ليس حادثاً فردياً بالشكل الخالص للكلمة، بل تم التخطيط له من قبل جهة أو لجنة مهمتها "مكافحة الفساد الأخلاقي"، وتضمنت سيارة وعدة مسلحين وغير ذلك (كأنه عملية عسكرية!). معنى ذلك أنه قد يكون واحداً من حوادث عديدة لكنه وصل إلى الإعلام بسبب بشاعته وولوغه في الدم. على حماس أن توضح هذه النقطة وتقول للناس فيما إن كانت لديها أي لجان منوط بها "مراقبة أخلاق المجتمع"، وإن كان لديها أي شيء من هذا القبيل عليها أن تعلن حله مباشرة وبلا تردد. فسواء أكانت تلك اللجنة/ اللجان موجودة فعلاً أم أنها هلامية التشكل أو غير ذلك فإن الخطورة في كل ذلك تكمن في تعزيز المناخ الطالباني المتطرف في محافظته الذي قد يتطور ويعتاش على مناخ إقليمي أوسع ومواتٍ يتلاقى فيه التطرف البوشي مع الطالباني على برنامج واحد وهو تأخير هذه المجتمعات وسد آفاق المستقبل أمامها.

ليس من حق "المقاومة"، أي مقاومة، أن تبتز المجتمع الذي تدافع عنه ضد عدو خارجي بفرض رؤية اجتماعية محددة عليه باستخدام القوة والتهديد. لا يجوز استخدام "الرأسمال المقاومي" الذي يحظى بتأييد وإعجاب شرائح واسعة من المجتمع واستخدامه لترسيخ الرؤية الاجتماعية الأيديولوجية (أو الأخلاقية الدينية والثقافية) التي تتبناها أية حركة مقاومة. خاصة عندما يتم ذلك في وقت وعلى حساب مجتمع ليست شرائحه كلها متدينة، ولا يمتد تأييدها لبرنامج المقاومة الذي يتبناه تنظيم معين ليشمل البرنامج الاجتماعي الأيديولوجي (الديني هنا) لذلك التنظيم. فهنا وقع وما زال يقع التوتر بين ما هو "مقاومي" وما هو "اجتماعي" فيما تطرحه حركات التحرر عادة. وحماس تتورط الآن في نفس الصيرورة التي مرت بها حركات كثيرة قبلها، عندما تقدم أو توازي أو حتى تقرب برنامجها الاجتماعي (لأسلمة المجتمع) من برنامجها المقاومي. ويجب أن تعلم أن الأول قد يخسرها بسهولة ما تكسبه عن طريق الثاني بصعوبة

To read full article, click here.

Although Islam views intimacy between unmarried men and women to be immoral and unlawful, and although Islam also prescribes forbidding "evil" as a duty on every muslim, there are several reasons one should condemn incidents such as the one this article is talking about. The author of the above article cites the need for Hamas to focus on the palestinian issue, and argues that to impose a very conservative religious view on a society that is not uniformly religious may eventually lead to a loss of support of Hamas, which will inevitably be discredited in the eyes of a large portion of the Palestinian population. We may add to the above that no one person or movement should be allowed to take the law in his own hands: the responsability of "forbidding evil" in Islam falls onto the ruler of the islamic state, who, through judicial courts should establish without the shadow of doubt that an illegal or wrongful act has been committed before administering the proper punishment which should be equally shared by the two partners, not only the woman (the fact that the woman was killed while her partner only molested shows the machismo of islamists and their strong misogynic bias against women). The murder of this poor Palestinian girl cannot be justified from an islamic point of view under any circumstance, and this incident is nothing but another sad manifestation of the extremism that permeates through the culture of sunni islamist groups nowadays, which I think should be opposed and condemned in the strongest possible terms.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

At long last!

It seems that, at long last, women can now (or will soon be able to) apply for a Driver's License in Saudi Arabia. I didn't read anything entirely dedicated to this momentous piece of news, but this is what this article on women's rights in the muslim word seems to convey. Hmmm! I'll wait until it actually happens to really believe it!!!

Monday, April 18, 2005

Islamophobia in Europe: alive and well

Lu, Vendredi dernier, les declarations de la reine du Danemarque sur Islam Online ou elle estimait que l'Islam representait une menace a l'echelle planetaire ("global threat"). Excuse-me ? Meme les ultraconservateurs d'amerique n'osent pas dire pareil au sujet de l'Islam en tant que religion. S'il etait question d'al-Qaeda, ces propos seraient bien sur parfaitement justifies, mais accuser la vaste majorite de musulmans a tort et a travers me semble etre une grave erreur de jugement. Apres des siecles de lumieres, d'humanisme, et d'etat de droit, ces propos xenophobes nous replongent dans les tenebres moyenageuses de nouveau: on se croirait au temps des croisades, presque, ou le sentiment dominant etait cette haine viscerale de tout ce qui est musulman. A quand les buchers, l'incarceration de tous les musulmans du Danemarque dans des camps de concentration, et le lynchage public des imams incultes?

Note added April 19: A Dane friend just told me that the queen came under heavy fire from the media in her country for her xenophobic declarations. Bien fait pour elle!

Friday, April 15, 2005

On John Paul II

It has been a little while since John Paul II left us. Here is an intimate and quite revealing testimony by a lebanese sunni muslim who had the opportunity to meet him personally:


أول مرة التقيتُ البابا يوحنا بولس الثاني كان في عام 1987 أثناء زيارة رسمية كان يقوم بها إلى مالطا. كنت في ذلك العام أشارك في مؤتمر دولي في العاصمة فاليتا. قدمني إليه أسقف المدينة مع عدد من الأصدقاء المشاركين في المؤتمر من دول عربية مختلفة. وعندما ذكر له اسمي واسم الدولة التي أنتمي إليها، استوقفني البابا وأمسك يدي بكلتا يديه وقال: مِن لبنان؟.. ماذا تفعلون للبنان؟. وكان ردّي على الفور: بل ماذا تفعلون انتم من أجل لبنان؟.
يومها كانت الحرب اللبنانية الداخلية تمرّ في إحدى أسوأ مراحلها المدمرة. كان الضحايا يتساقطون في الشوارع، وكانت البيوت تنهار على من فيها من شدة القصف، وكانت المزارع تحرق بما فيها من ضرع وزرع.
فوجئ البابا بالجواب، وعلت على وجهه حمرة شديدة وقال: سوف ترى ماذا نفعل للبنان.. إن الوقت ليس مناسباً الآن لكلام أكثر

To read more, click here.

Let us only hope that the Catholic Church will chose someone as enlightened as Jean Paul II as its next leader.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Welcome to our Current Events section!

Quoi de mieux pour commencer cette section traitant des faits d'actualite qu'un article sur la proliferation des blogs dans le monde arabe?

حسمت الشهور الأخيرة مسألة انتشار المذكرات الالكترونية بين الاجيال الشابة في العالم العربي. فقد أعرب العديد من الشباب عن توجههم الجديد بتأسيس صفحات البلوغ الخاصة بهم بعد ان أعلنوا تمردهم على المنتديات التي استقطبتهم مع بداية علاقتهم بالشبكة. "والقليل المفيد منها" كما يقول احد البلوغرز في سورية، مختف في أعماق قلاع محصنة تحميها اشتراكات وكلمات سر وتسكنها غيلان القص واللصق وأشباح قرصنة البرامج والآداب ووحوش التوقيعات الملونة ذات الصور المتحركة". ولم تفته الأشارة الى سيطرة مديري نظم المنتديات من خلال رؤيتهم الشخصية للرقابة.

وعزا الشباب إقبالهم على النشر، بهدف التواصل مع الآخرين، عبر المدونة الالكترونية، الى حلول الرقابة الذاتية مكان مقص الرقيب، في الهيمنة على الفكر والرأي، سواء في وسائل الإعلام التقليدية او في المنتديات الإلكترونية

Pour lire la version integrale de l'article, cliquez ici.

Les prix d'internet au Maroc ayant considerablement baisse ces derniers mois, on est en mesure d'esperer que de plus en plus d'internautes marocains deviendront des adeptes du blog, qui peut ainsi devenir un espace important de debat et d'echange d'idees.