Adonis Diaries

Archive for July 2013

Wisening up? Who is your teacher? Buddha, Jesus, Obama… 

A few bits of wise sayings

Is it you either believe in a God or submit to a life of despair?

As if living among the religious clerics and fanatic religious believers is not the ultimate in desperation.

In the Far East, the source of mass production of cloths, people still manually weaves the garment of monks and for burial ceremony.

What do you gain from meditation?

From The Idealist‘s photo.

Have you already been in Hell? Probably you are a spiritual person

From Freedom Is A State Of Mind‘s photo.

Neuro Linguistic Programming impression on us

"The true focus of revolutionary change is never merely the oppressive situations which we seek to escape, but that piece of the oppressor which is planted deep within each of us, and which knows only the oppressors’ tactics, the oppressors’ relationships."</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Audre Lorde
And I’m still free, totally free
Like @[136336876521150:274:Sun Gazing]</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Please Share
Generation Alpha‘s photo.

The Roman philosopher Epictetus wrote:
“Is there another end but death? It is the fear of death that is cause for the cowardice and despicable nature of mankind.
Practice against the fear of death. To that end, let all your words, studies, lectures, and behaviors be guided to taming fear of death.
It is the only way for people to feel liberated…”
(Accepting death can be forced on us in due time. Accepting that it is natural for people to kill me is out of the equation for accepting death. Otherwise, why are we striving for companionship and for compassionate communities?)
The irony is that religious clerics are professional con artists, and they are honored and paid to resume their conning activities every day.

Arab Humor: Omayyad period, Part 3

In this period, three poets were famous: Jarir, Farazdak and Al Akhtal. Three humorous characters stand out:

1. Abul Aswad Du3aly (605-688). He was famous for his proverbial avarice. He fought with caliph Ali against caliph Mu3awiya in the battle of Siffin. He used to say “If we had to feed all the poor, we end up quickly in a worst situation”

2. Cha3bi (640-721). He was a modern liberal and had a prodigious memory. He was a frequent companion to caliph Abdel Malik ibn Marwan

3. Ach3ab (630-727). He represented the classes avid of quick wealth and honor at any price. The classes of parasites… He was the mouthpiece of clowns and public entertainment and the preferred humorist for a long period.

Samples of humor:

1. The friend: “Thank God for your illness”. The sick man replied “I don’t dare thank Him. Didn’t he say “If you thank me I’ll give you more?” And I don’t care for a worse illness

2. Robbers emptied the house of Abu Said. He followed them, carrying a few items the robbers didn’t find worth taking. The robbers turned and said “Why are you tackling us?” Abu said replied “I’m in search of a bunk to take refuge in

3. A robber didn’t find anything worth stealing in a house. The master of the house told him: “Close the door behind you”. The robber retorted “With all I got in your house, and you want me to be your servant too?

4. A beggar asking charity to a woman standing in the balcony. She was saying “I don’t have bread, cloths, this or that…” Finally, the beggar hollered to her “What are you doing up there? Come down, join me and beg with me

5. A Syrian grabbed an apple from the basket of a traveler ahead of him and then gave the apple to a beggar. His reason was “Stealing this fruit is one bad action. Giving it to a beggar is worth ten good actions

6. A beggar shouting in front of a house “O noble and pious residents of this house…” A voice replied from the inside “They have transferred

7. A man from Hijjaz said to ibn Chubruma “The source of science is from Hijjaz” To what he retorted “Yes, but your science never returned there

8. Ugly Walid ibn Yazid (future caliph) came in to visit caliph Hisham, his uncle. Walid was wearing an intricate laced turban that cost 1,000 dinars. Hisham was flabbergasted by this expensive item. Walid said: “This turban covers the most important part of my body. You purchased a girl slave for 10 times that amount, just to satisfy the vilest of your parts…” (The Omayyad Empire reached its vastest expansion, from Afghanistan to Spain during Hisham

9. The wife heard the imam preaching: “If your husband “honors” you once, you set the foundation for your palace in Heaven. If he does it twice, you erect the walls, the third times you raise the arches…”  The husband had to be awakened several times that night to build the entire palace. At last the husband got a relief as he reminded his wife “The masons told me that if the clay is not allowed to dry and hardened, the whole palace will collapse…”

Note: Extracted from the French book “The book of Arab Humor” by Jean-Jacques Schmidt

Marcus Aurelius (161-180): Roman Emperor and philosopher?

In his manuscript “The Reflections (thoughts)”, Marcus Aurelius wrote:

1. “The duration for a human life? A period. It’s substance? Regressing. The sensation? Obscure. The body composition in its whole? Ready to rot. The soul? A whirlwind. The fate? Difficult to predict. The reputation? Uncertain.

To sum it all, the elements of the body flow as a river. The elements of the spirit are but dreams and fume.

Life is a war and a strange sojourn. The fame we leave, if any, sinks into oblivion. What could make us suffer life?

One thing: Philosophy!”

In another section, Aurelius writes:

2. “What a thin fragment of infinite time is this part of every being? Quickly, the being disappears in the eternity.

What a thin fragment of the total substance. And what of the universal spirit?

On which tiny parcel of earth are you walking? Reflect on all these questions, and nothing is as great as acting like what nature wants and to submit to what this universal nature produces.”

3.”I can no longer read. It is always allowed for me to repulse violence out of my heart. I am permitted, always, to despise the pleasure and the pain.

I am always entitled to be superior to vain glory, not to lose temper against the idiots and the ungrateful.

It is my obligation to resume doing what is good…”

And yet, Aurelius was no different from most emperors in have the Christians been eaten by the beast in the arena to please the Romans.

In another section:

4. “The best way to despise songs, dances, games, wrestling… All you have to do is to divide these activities into their elements. You’ll discover that there are no charm to the elements. Only virtue is indivisible…”

5. “Who can catch the present moment can sees all that occurred during eternity and all that will happen to the infinity of time

6. “What, the light of a candle is as strong even before the candle is finished. Truth, Justice, and Temperance in you will go off when you just die.”

7. “What if you were fired after the third of a five-act piece? Three acts are good enough for the drama you have lived. The one who had the responsibility to finish the 5th act is the cause of the dissolution of the other actors”

8. “O Cosmos! Whatever satisfies you do suit me fine. Nothing is premature or late of what comes from you. O Nature, I bear the fruits of your seasons. All comes from you, in you is All, towards you all go”

9. “Your slaves are human persons. This is my certitude. This shall enter as law. Rugus (owner of over a thousand slaves), if you kill a slave, you shall be prosecuted as criminal. If you torture a slave, the law will punish you and oblige you to sell the slave. You are no longer to separate family members: you must sell the entire family. You are no longer entitled to dispatch your slaves to the arenas or to force them to prostitute…”

Note 1: The persecution of Christians (Christos) began in earnest during Trajan and continued under Hadrian, Antonin… Marcus Aurelius murdered the Christos in public arenas out of despise: Fanatics will ultimately be fanatics in exterminating who they consider as infidels and contrary to their religious beliefs. That what Popes of Rome did for 11 centuries, and the “Christians” did in the colonies, wiping out entire civilizations.

Frankly, it is not possible to grab power unless you manage to turn fanatics your followers around a few abstract notions.

Note 2: Pline the Young was appointed magistrate in north Turkey by Emperor Trajan. He wrote to the Emperor:

“I need your orders relevant to the ways of legally treating with the increased number of Christos in the countryside. They assemble on fixed days, before sun up. They sing hymns to Christos as a God, swear not to steel, commit adultery, pay off their debt…They share ordinary breakfast together… They refuse to honor our Gods and do not consider the Emperor as God…”

Note 3: Before Christianity, people honored and prayed before idols, but they were sane enough not to adore these stones and wooden idols: The idols represented the power of nature and the process of nature and they prayed to survive within the forces of nature.

It is the Christians who began to adore the pictures, stones and wooden representations of the Virgin, Jesus, and the Saints…

Arab Humor. Before Islam. Part 2

Before Islam, four idiot characters stood out:

1. Ijl ibn Lujaym, the idiot of the Christian tribe of Bakr ibn Wael, which lived in Yamama in Iraq.

2. Bakil of the tribe Iyyad ibn Nizar ibn Ma3ad that lived in Mecca and on the borders of Najran in Yemen.

3. Habannaka of the tribe of Banu Kays ibn Tha3laba.

4. Maria bint Mu3anj, nicknamed Dugha (butterfly) of the same tribe of Ijl.

1. The son killed his mother instead of the man who was “honoring” her: “Otherwise, “I’d be killing a man everyday of my life”

2. Salama ibn Jandal was nonplused with the request of the tribe of Banu Tamim for “chanting a poem” to their glory. salama replied: “Do something that gives me ground to praise you…”

3. Bakil bought a sheep for 11 dirham. Unable to talk properly, he showed his 10 fingers and got out his tongue.

4. The girl proposing to a young man “Marry me. I’ll be associated to your worries and material difficulties”. The man replied “I have none of these worries”, and the girl said: “You’ll have plenty of them once you marry me…”

5. Ijl wanted to call his spirited horse the “One -eyed”, and went ahead and gouged an eye to his horse.

6. A man was overjoyed with a horse that came first in the race “I own the bridle”

7. Habanna Kaysi offered 2 camels for anyone bringing back a lost camel of his “There is so much joy finding a lost property”

8. A man swore to sell a 1,000-dirham camel for a single dirham if found. The camel was found and a cat was sold for 1,000 dirham as one lot with the camel.

9. “What have you anticipated for winter?”  The Bedouin replied “A long shiver”

10. Hajib ibn Zurata was dispatched by the prophet Muhammad to the Persian King Anu Sharwan.

He presented himself as “One of the Arabs”.  As he faced the king, he upgraded his status to “The Lord of the Arabs”. Why? He has met a king who addressed him and talked to him.

11. An old woman met the prophet as she was visiting his wife Aicha. She asked that Muhammad includes her in heaven. Muhammad replied: “Old women have no access to paradise” The woman was crying as he re-entered the house and he continued “In heaven, God transforms women to young virgins”

12. The third caliph Omar ibn Khattab was told “This person is ignorant of what is bad”. Omar replied “He risks to be the victim more than anyone else”

13. Zayd ibn Darim was in delegation to the king of Himyar (Yemen) who was on a mountain hunting trip. The kind ordered Zayd to sit down “thib”. The man jumped off the cliff. Thib in Zayd Arabic slang meant “jump”. The king concluded “Anyone entering Dhofar must learn our Himyari language”

Note: Extracted from the French book “The book of Arab Humor” by Jean-Jacques Schmidt

‘None of Morsi’s failures justified a coup’

Whom are you willing to believe? On the hard facts of how many died and how many were injured last week in Egypt?
The Moslem Brotherhood claim 200 killed by snipers on the head and chest, and over 1,000 injured around Egypt.
The various media increase the numbers gradually, from 27, to 53, to 77… just not to disturb the peaceful transition into hell.
Egypt is slowly but surely sliding into civil war, thanks to the army getting involved directly into political matters.
Egypt is a divided nation now and the ousted Moslem Brotherhood are not about to relinquish their legal and legitimate rights to govern “democratically”.
At the instigation of the USA, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Emirates and Kuwait are injecting $12 billion in Egypt and the IMF is about to saturate the finances with over $5 bn… just to keep the image of a stable Egypt holding up.
Political negotiation is a must, and” Former” President Mohammad Morsi will eventually be reinstated for another year, after a fresh parliamentary election….
Former President Mohammad Morsi’s abilities to govern a country in transition did not help Egypt’s already huge list of problems. However, his party’s faults hardly justified the kind of coup that took place, Middle East blogger Karl Sharro told RT.

That is despite Morsi’s lack of understanding of how to properly mix religion and politics.  And how to avoid marginalizing a large segment of Egypt’s population.

Interview published on RT this July 12, 2013
RT: The overthrow of Morsi has been called a coup, but clearly he had massive popular support, so is that strictly the term to be used here?

Karl Sharro: Absolutely. We have to look not only at popular presence on the street, but at procedure. The army was  involved: tanks and armored personnel carriers were driven around, and the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood were arrested –   including the president. There is no other way to describe this than a coup. So I think that needs to be made very clear.

The Muslim Brotherhood keeps saying ‘resist the army’;   they are calling for peaceful revolt, but we live in the real  world. Every time this happens there is bloodshed.

KS: Unfortunately this is the kind of situation where the  military had, in its reaction to the popular uprising, contrived  to create. But let’s remember what the real interest here is.  It’s not the continuation of the democratic revolution. The  military stepping in and effectively carrying out this coup is to stop the spread of the January popular uprising.

Aand in my book, that would include people taking power and resorting to a democratic process. What we saw there is exactly the opposite,  which is canceling the results of democratic elections.
RT: What would you say were the failings of Morsi’s  term in power? We talked about the economy and what went wrong,  but it wasn’t just that.

KS: There was a host of failures. I don’t want to give the  impression that I’m a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood: I’m  usually critical both, of the role of religion that they brought  into politics and of their lack of competence in administering  the country and managing the transition towards democracy,  reviving the economy and the sectarian language they’ve used  consistently.

There is a huge host of problems and a lack of  ability for President Morsi to step up and represent the entire  Egyptian population – the people that voted and represented him –   and the other camp as well. So I think there are huge failings, none of which justify a military coup against him

RT: And religion was one of the key parts that went  wrong for him, no?
KS: Yes, absolutely. I think that alienated both people  like Christians and secularists, but also Muslim people who don’t  think religion should be brought into politics in such a crass  manner. But at the end of the day, the Muslim Brotherhood was  elected with people knowing who they were. And not only did they  win the presidential elections – with the help, of course, of  people from other political affiliations – but they also won the  parliamentary election, the results of which were canceled and  the parliament was also annulled and disbanded.

There’s a host of  grievances, and they reflect on that period in the Egyptian  transition when there wasn’t a single authority that was in  control. But having said that, Egypt should have been given the  chance to transition towards a more democratic future, and carry  out the process and for the Muslim Brotherhood to be kicked out  of office by resorting to that democratic process – not by  military means.    

RT: What should the Muslim Brotherhood do now? The interim  government is saying there will be new elections and a new  parliament early next year. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are  saying they don’t want anything to do with that. But should they  get in on it while they still can?
KS: That’s a tactical decision that at the end of the day  will be up to them. But what we have to look at is that by  participating in that process they would be legitimizing this  sort of coup, which is something we’ve seen already when Western  governments – America and Europe – lectured us for a long time  about the merits of democracy.

You can’t legitimize that as the  Muslim Brotherhood and I think a form of boycotting might be the  tactical choice, but that will be done down the road, in the  realm of details, because nobody can say conclusively there  wouldn’t be some kind of deals to bring the Muslim Brotherhood  back in one shape or another, because the military doesn’t want  to be in the front row leading the country, so it will seek to  cover itself and bring some sort of civilian legitimacy to it.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT

A few adage for experiencing full consciousness

1.  Who believes he reached his goal must have missed everything else.  Zen

2. All begins in necessity. All must end in freedom. (Maurice Zundel)

3. The many little pains offend us far more than a single violent one.

4. Never forget: You are what you consider banal. Banal events and feeling are what constructed your essential ideas and viewpoints.

5. Abstaining of thinking is what we are incapable of mastering and controlling. This is our worst constraint.

6. Goodbye, and remember: Faith is more beautiful than God.

7. Are you a poet? You should notice the clouds hovering over your piece of paper: Clouds are the source of your writing paper. (Thich Nhat Hanh)

8. At every second, we either enter paradise or exit from it. (Christian Bobin)

9. Truth is earth without paths. (Tiziano Terzani)

10. Where’s my pain? It’s just a murmur at the edge of the sun. (Paul Fort)

11. The spirit doesn’t look back or forward. Only the present moment is source of our happiness (Goethe in Faust)

12 Who can catch the present moment sees all that occurred during eternity and all that will happen to the infinity of time. (Marcus Aurelius)

13. Breath. Breathing transforms the experience of what we take for reality.

14. Suffering? Breath. Distressed? Breath. (Happy? Breath)

Note: Extracted from the French  “Meditate in full consciousness. Day after day in 25 lessons” by Christophe Andre

Backers of surveillance program battle a challenge

The White House and congressional backers of the National  Security Agency’s surveillance program warn that ending the massive collection  of phone records from millions of Americans would put the U.S.  at risk from another terrorist attack.

Donna  Cassata published in the Lebanese daily “The Daily Star” this July 24, 2013:

WASHINGTON: With a high-stakes showdown vote looming in the House of Representatives,  White House press secretary Jay Carney issued an unusual, nighttime statement  on the eve of Wednesday’s vote. The measure by Republican Rep. Justin Amash  would end the secret program’s  authority, an action that Carney contended would “hastily dismantle one of our  intelligence community’s counterterrorism tools.”

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 23: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) arrives for a news conference in the Ohio Clock Corridor at the U.S. Capitol July 23, 2013 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) arrives for a news  conference in the Ohio Clock Corridor at the U.S. Capitol July 23, 2013 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP

Gen. Keith Alexander, head of the NSA, made a last-minute trip to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to urge lawmakers to reject the measure in separate, closed-door  sessions with Republicans and Democrats. Seven Republican committee chairmen  issued a similar plea in a widely circulated letter to their colleagues.

An unlikely coalition of libertarian-leaning conservatives and liberal Democrats  says the program amounts to unfettered domestic spying on Americans. Amash and Democratic Rep. John Conyers  are the chief sponsors of an  amendment that would end the ability of the NSA to collect phone records and  metadata under the USA Patriot Act  unless it identifies an  individual under investigation.

Amash said his measure tries to rein in the NSA’s blanket authority.  Responding to the White House statement, the congressman tweeted late Tuesday:  “Pres Obama opposes my #NSA amendment, but American people overwhelmingly  support it. Will your Rep stand with the WH or the Constitution?”

Republican leaders allowed the House to consider Amash’s amendment to a  $598.3 billion defense spending bill for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

The vote on Wednesday would be the first time Congress has weighed in since  former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden  leaked documents that revealed  that the NSA had collected phone records, while a second NSA program forced  major Internet companies to turn over contents of communications to the  government.

“This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open or deliberative  process,” Carney said. “We urge the House to reject the Amash amendment, and  instead move forward with an approach that appropriately takes into account the  need for a reasoned review of what tools can best secure the nation.”

Proponents of the NSA programs argue that the surveillance operations have  been successful in thwarting potential terrorist attacks, including a 2009 plot  to strike at the New York Stock Exchange.

“This bill would basically turn off our ability to find terrorists trying to  attack us,” said Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the  Intelligence panel.

Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the Intelligence committee, joined other  Republican chairmen in a letter urging lawmakers to reject the Amash  amendment.

“While many members have legitimate questions about the NSA metadata program,  including whether there are sufficient protections for Americans’ civil  liberties, eliminating this program altogether without careful deliberation  would not reflect our duty, under Article I of the Constitution, to provide for  the common defense,” the chairmen wrote.

The debate over privacy and national security has prompted calls and emails  to lawmakers, said Republican Rep. Tom Rooney, a member of the Intelligence  panel who said members of Congress are facing competing pressures.

The overall defense spending bill would provide the Pentagon with $512.5  billion for weapons, personnel, aircraft and ships plus $85.8 billion for the  war in Afghanistan for next budget year. (For how long this war on Afghanistan will siphon billions each year)

The bill is $5.1 billion below current spending and has drawn a veto threat from the White House, which argues that it would force the administration to cut  education, health research and other domestic programs to boost spending for the  Pentagon.

In a leap of faith, the bill assumes that Congress and the administration  will resolve the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts that have forced the  Pentagon to furlough workers and cut back on training. The bill projects  spending in the next fiscal year at $28.1 billion above the so-called sequester  level.

In addition to the vote on the Amash amendment, the House also will consider  an amendment prohibiting any U.S. funds for military or paramilitary operations  in Egypt and barring the administration from arming the Syrian rebels without  congressional approval.

On Tuesday the House voted to cut $79 million from the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund, reducing the amount to the current level of $200 million as  projects have been delayed. The House also endorsed the $70.2 million in the  bill to study the feasibility for an East Coast missile defense site.

($85.8 billion for the  war in Afghanistan and cutting down on the $200 million for Afghanistan infrastructure…?)

The overall bill must be reconciled with whatever measure the  Democratic-controlled Senate produces.

Read more: (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

Unpacking Anti-Muslim Brotherhood Discourse

Noam Chomsky’s Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda argues that effectively crafted and controlled media messages can turn otherwise rational people into “hysterical” warmongers.

Chomsky’s analysis focuses on how western governments and elite-led media in democratic societies have successfully employed propaganda campaigns to achieve political aims. Egypt has experienced its own propaganda program in recent months. What is perhaps unique about Egypt’s propaganda campaign is that it is an anti-government campaign initiated by a diverse group of oppositional forces.

Mohamad Elmasri posted this June 28, 2013 on Jadaliyya

“In post-revolution Egypt–or maybe not–Hosni Mubarak-era media owners, Mubarak regime loyalists, and key members of Egypt’s liberal and secular opposition have teamed up to create arguably one of the most effective propaganda campaigns in recent political history. In a matter of months, these forces have managed to demonize Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails, to the extent that many Egyptians openly call for the overthrow of the democratically elected government and the imprisonment of Moslem Brotherhood members.

Brotherhood members have also been the victims of systematic violence–which has included the live burning of Muslim Brotherhood youth, the killings of Brotherhood members, and the arsons of Muslim Brotherhood buses and offices across Egypt. Government buildings have also been vandalized, and the presidential palace and other government buildings were set ablaze by firebomb-hurling youth in December.

Since inheriting Egypt’s mess of an economy and myriad environmental, health, transportation, education, and energy crises, Morsi and the Brotherhood have made some progress on several political fronts.

They have also made mistakes, which have included releasing reckless statements about women, failing to share enough political decision making with liberals, and mishandling political crises surrounding the Ethiopian Dam project,

Morsi’s controversial November decree, and the appointment of a hardline Islamist as governor of Luxor, among other things didn’t make matters better.

I would argue, however, that none of their mistakes warrant systematic demonization, terrorism, or overthrow. There is a massive disconnect between the Brotherhood’s mishandlings and the reaction that they instigated, thanks to the propaganda that the Brotherhood’s challengers have spread.

As someone who has studied discourse for 11 years, the anti-Brotherhood, anti-Morsi propaganda is unlike anything I have ever seen, primarily because news reporters and organizations–rather than political figures–seem to spearhead the propaganda efforts.

The lack of objectivity in Egyptian news is perhaps unsurprising, given the reality that many Egyptian journalists perceive themselves more as political activists than as watchdogs, and other research suggesting that Egyptian journalism suffers from an overall lack of professionalism.

The opposition’s propaganda machine–aided by a plethora of private television networks and newspapers owned by Mubarak-friendly businessmen like Ahmad BahgatSalah Diab, and Mohamed al-Amin–has successfully manufactured discourses designed to designate the Brotherhood and Morsi as lacking in basic integrity and unworthy of political participation.

To be sure, Islamist media, having begun in recent years to discuss politics on otherwise exclusively religious satellite television channels, dish out their own fair share of propaganda. Their political impact, however, pales in comparison with independent news outlets that are devoted to political news reportage, have greater reach, can boast well known commentators, and that proclaim the goal of covering political affairs in an objective manner.

Relatively greater levels of professionalism at some news outlets (and by a handful of television news personalities) notwithstanding, the anti-Brotherhood bias in independent Egyptian news media is obvious and overwhelming.

As part of a pre-reading of Egyptian news broadcasts designed to develop a coding scheme for an upcoming research project, I watched the 25 March 2013 episode of OnTv’s From Anew. The program featured 9 consecutive anti-Islamist guests over a period of about 75 minutes. Such blatant imbalance is not uncommon.

Frequently, talk shows–such as OnTv’s Respectable People and From Anew, and CBC’s From the Capital and As Clear as the Sun–invite multiple guests, all of the same anti-Islamist persuasion, for lengthy discussions of political events. Other programs, such as Wael Al-Ibrashi’s The 10 p.m. Show on the Dream Network and Ibrahim Isa’s From Cairo on the al-Qahira wa-al-Nas network, I would argue, have blatantly one-sided slants, as evidenced by their story ideation, guest selection, and interview questioning processes.

One of the few independent news stations in Egypt that consistently tries to provide some balance and debate is Al Jazeera Live Egypt. Because the channel usually features the Brotherhood perspective alongside that of the opposition, critics often call it “Al Jazeera Muslim Brotherhood.”

One consistent discourse that has emerged in recent months in Egypt defines the Muslim Brotherhood as un-Egyptian, and caring more about their own narrow agenda than the country’s national interests. For example, reports routinely claim that Morsi is not a president for all Egyptians, but rather only for his Islamist comrades.

Other reports discuss the Muslim Brotherhood’s relationship with Hamas, and their desire to sell off parts of Egypt to foreign countries. A 30 May 2013 article in online newspaper: 24 summarized novelist and political commentator Gamal al-Ghitani’s views on Brotherhood politics in its headline, which read: “Gamal al-Ghitani: The Brotherhood are a foreign organization and their rule of Egypt constitutes a foreign occupation.”

On 21 June 2013 al-Ghitani appeared on the OnTv program The Complete Picture boasting that he began writing about the “occupation” thesis last summer, immediately after Morsi’s election. For weeks in early 2013, President Morsi’s office and the Qatari government were forced to fend off baseless rumors–given major attention on television news and in newspapers–that deals were in place for Egypt to lease the Pyramids and sell the Suez Canal to Qatar.

This discourse—that the Brotherhood are not true Egyptians and do not have Egypt’s best interests at heart—is used to justify sub-discourses about the Muslim Brotherhood. Those include discourses that the Brotherhood is occupying all state institutions, produced a catastrophically bad constitution that suits only its own interests, and intimidates and kills the opposition with its “militias.”

The next few sections will examine these discursive sub-constructions contributing to the anti-Brotherhood, anti-Morsi fervor in Egypt.

The “Brotherhoodization” of the State

A dominant theme in Egyptian media and political discourse argues that the Muslim Brotherhood is bent on occupying all state institutions and hoarding power. This “brotherhoodization” (“akhwana,” in Arabic) thesis dovetails nicely with other discourses about the Brotherhood’s alleged desire to sell off Egypt and its disloyalty to the nation.

The akhwana (brotherhoodization) thesis is the most damning, and oft repeated, of all anti-Brotherhood discourses. It has become so hegemonic that many Egyptians take it as a given. It is difficult to find an independent talk show that does not regularly obsess over the Brotherhood’s takeover, a topic which opposition figures often use as a political battle cry. Some western news outlets have also reported uncritically about the alleged Brotherhood takeover. I would argue that the “brotherhoodization” thesis holds very little weight, if any at all.

Opposition forces in Egypt claim that, having secured the presidency, the Brotherhood has moved to take over various government ministries, the judiciary, the armed forces, the media, and other aspects of Egyptian society and culture. The opposition points to Morsi’s administrative appointments and the domination of the constitutional assembly.

Lost on those who advance the “brotherhoodization” thesis is the fact that the Brotherhood has won multiple free and fair elections and thus has the political and democratic right to control at least part of the government until their term expires.

Also lost on people is the fact that the new Egypt will experience regular elections, as stipulated by the constitution, and whoever wins elections after the Brotherhood will have the similar chance to hold sway. This is how democratic politics works: groups who win elections have the right to govern for a few years, implementing their political program along the way.

In the United States, it is hardly controversial that the two major parties vie to control both the executive and legislative branches of government. In fact, it is seen as an admirable goal for any given party that believes its program is the most suited to serve the country’s well being. Interestingly, a 2000 Wall Street Journal survey of political science, law, and history professors concluded that–according to respondents–many of the most productive presidents in US history had control of both the executive and legislative branches of government for the entirety of their terms in office.

The United States and arguments about the relative merits of divided versus unified control of government aside, it remains that the Brotherhood does not have, and will not have, a stronghold on the Egyptian state. First, the Brotherhood does not control the army, and it would be impossible for them to do so in the foreseeable future. For starters, it would be unconstitutional and illegal for the president or anyone else to install Muslim Brotherhood members as high-ranking army officers. Even in Egypt, such appointments can only occur naturally and with requisite qualifications and years of experience. Not surprisingly, there has been no indication that anyone inside the presidency or the Brotherhood is attempting to commit such a gross violation.

The situation is similar with respect to the judiciary, which is also subject to a formal system of appointment that depends on qualifications and experience. Brotherhood opponents have, however, criticized the Islamist-dominated Shura Council’s proposal to reduce the retirement age for judges from seventy to sixty. Critics say the judicial authority bill could give the Brotherhood a chance at padding the judiciary with its loyalists, while Shura Council members say that the bill is necessary to purge the judiciary of judges loyal to Mubarak.

The deposed president had gradually increased the retirement age from sixty to 70 in order keep judges loyal to him active. In any case, the argument that the Brotherhood could use the law as a means to “Brotherhoodize” the judiciary is unconvincing for two reasons:

First, the Brotherhood does not have a community of potential loyal judges who are ready for promotion.

Second, the new age limit would apply equally to all judges and not favor Islamists over liberals.

The intimation that the Brotherhood controls the interior ministry is similarly out of place. If it was not initially clear that the interior ministry was, and is, controlled by most of the same faces that controlled it during the Mubarak era, it should be now. There is fervent anti-Brotherhood sentiment within the police and security forces, who in recent months have protested against the Brotherhood, organized strikes against Morsi, and–in spite of repeated anti-Brotherhood arsons–have refused to protect the Brotherhood headquarters from angry protesters.

Morsi and the Brotherhood can be criticized for not doing more to purge the ministry now–indeed, the merits of a gradualist strategy are debatable–but the Brotherhood’s more gradual approach to purging the ministry cannot also be the subject of a “brotherhoodization” argument.

In government, even after recent Morsi appointments, only ten out of a total 27 governors and eleven out of 35 cabinet members hail from the Muslim Brotherhood.

The opposition is up in arms at these ratios, but it is both logical and fair for an elected president faced with repeated attempts to remove him from power to rely on governors and cabinet members who are loyal to him. And, at any rate, 35%  representation is hardly excessive for a ruling party.

Morsi has offered numerous government positions to opposition politicians, but they have declined for various reasons. Some simply have not wanted to affiliate themselves with a Brotherhood government. Others have declined because of fears that it would be difficult to engage in substantive work given the extreme anti-Brotherhood program ongoing in Egypt. Vice President of the liberal Ghad al-Thawra Party, Mohamed Mohie El-Din, confirmed to me in a 23 June telephone interview that Ayman Nour, who heads the Ghad al-Thawra Party, has been offered the position of Prime Minister on several different occasions since the start of the Morsi presidency.

On 4 July 2012, just days after Morsi took over as president, former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi acknowledged on Mahmoud Saad’s talk show Akher al-Nahar that Morsi offered him the position of Vice President. Sabbahi, too, declined.

Prime Minister Hesham Kandil, who is not himself a member of the Muslim Brotherhood or any Islamist party, has said on multiple occasions, including most recently in a televised interview on 21 June 2013, that he has offered numerous ministerial posts to opposition figures. Most have declined, with some indicating they might accept a post when “things calm down.”

Morsi’s 26 June 2013 national address also mentioned that non-Brotherhood ministers from the previous government had been given the chance to stay on the job, but declined. Given that non-Brotherhood politicians have regularly rejected participation in government, it is anything but surprising that President Morsi has found little choice but to tap Brotherhood members for government posts.

The “brotherhoodization” argument picked up steam in mid-November 2012, when liberal members of the constituent assembly withdrew from the assembly citing what they called the Muslim Brotherhood’s inordinate influence on the constitution drafting process.

Those who complain that the Brotherhood dominated the drafting of the new constitution overlook the fact that Egypt’s constituent assembly was formed by a democratically elected parliament, and that twenty-two Egyptian parties—which formed the near entirety of Egypt’s political spectrum (at that time)—signed off on the basic composition of the constituent assembly in June 2012.

Interestingly, current hardline opposition and al-Wafd Party leader al-Sayed al-Badawi led the press conference announcing the agreement on the breakdown of the assembly. The agreement dictated that the assembly would give 39 out of one hundred total assembly seats to members of parliament, with these seats being divided up according to parliamentary proportions. The remaining 61o seats would be divided amongst scholars of constitutional law, al-Azhar University and Church representatives, and various labor and social groups.

Because some of the sixty-one non-parliamentary seats could go to individuals affiliated with political parties and movements, the agreement further outlined the ways in which these seats would be divided up, according to Mohie El-Din, who was a member of the assembly. He said it was agreed that the final one hundred-member assembly was to include thirty-two members of the Muslim Brotherhood, eighteen members of al-Nour Party, eighteen representatives of “the state,” and thirty-two liberal party members. This specific breakdown was designed to give fifty seats to Islamists and fifty seats to non-Islamists, Mohie El-Din told me. However, since some of the eighteen “state” representatives (for example al-Azhar University scholars) could reasonably be considered “Islamists” (depending on how the term is defined), the agreement dictated, in practical terms, that more than fifty percent of committee members would be of “Islamist” persuasion, Mohie El-Din said.

In other words, Islamist currents may have enjoyed a majority inside the Constituent Assembly and its committees, but the important point is that all of this was specified, understood, and agreed to by all twenty-two parties, despite what the opposition now claims.

It is plausible that many of the liberal parties viewed these proportions as relatively favorable, since it is likely that a national referendum would have yielded a much higher number of Brotherhood members. The Brotherhood-led coalition had, after all, won forty-seven percent of parliamentary seats in Egypt’s first post-revolution democratic elections, with an additional twenty-five percent of seats going to the more conservative Salafist coalition.

It is not ideal for popular parties to have significant representational advantages in constitution drafting assemblies, and scholars such as Linz and Stepan have argued that majoritarian rules are unhealthy for constitution building, while also acknowledging that the practice has been prevalent (p. 83). As scholars Patrick Fafard and Darrel Robert Reid note in their Constituent Assemblies: A Comparative Survey, constituent assemblies are usually governed by the rules of “partisan politics.” The researchers posit: “It has generally been assumed and accepted that the political and economic elites who dominate the political process will exercise a similar dominance in the process of drafting or amending the constitution” (p. 22). Discussing the example of the United States, Fafard and Reid note that, “proceedings of the Philadelphia Convention itself were characterized by a remarkable federalist consensus throughout” (p. 26).

The fact that some non-Islamists withdrew from the Egyptian constituent assembly is undeniably problematic. Some of the liberal members of the assembly undoubtedly had legitimate concerns about some of the document’s articles. However, they withdrew before exhausting discussion, and refused to return to the assembly after repeated official invitations to come back for discussion of contentious articles.

Perhaps more damning for non-Islamist claims of an unfair constitution building process is that many of the assembly’s liberals seemed to abandon the process early on, and well before it was exhausted.  For instance, according to Mohie El-Din, some members of the assembly seemed bent on withdrawing from the outset. “We had [non-Islamist] people who withdrew upon entering the assembly. [Their attitude seemed to be,] ‘Good morning, we withdraw,’” said Mohie El-Din, in a 20 December debate held on the campus of the American University in Cairo.

Mohie El-Din also claimed that many of the non-Islamists who withdrew were systematically absent from assembly sessions throughout the process of drafting the document. He said that he was sometimes the only non-Islamist representative in attendance. During other sessions, liberal assembly members would only show up for “ten minutes” before exiting. “Can you, given these circumstances, say that you have had an influence? Of course not,” Mohie El-Din said.

A few of the complaints of inordinate Islamist influence over the document’s content are ill conceived. For example, liberals have criticized Article 4, which gives Al-Azhar oversight on matters pertaining to Islamic law. What many overlook, though, is that this article was a liberal suggestion.

The thinking of liberals inside the assembly may have been that al-Azhar would be a safeguard against the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood and more conservative Salafists. Islamists in the Constituent Assembly agreed to Article 4, and other proposals submitted by non-Islamist representatives. For example, an article about religious freedoms specifically requested by the assembly’s four Church representatives was included as is, word for word, said Mohie El-Din at the AUC debate. The article was not removed, and no one suggested it be removed or edited, even after the Church representatives withdrew from the assembly, he said.

An overwhelming majority of voters (sixty-four percent) approved Egypt’s new constitution despite hysterical propaganda against the assembly and the document, which included the distribution of fake constitutional drafts. Importantly, a national dialogue held in January announced that Morsi had agreed to form a pluralistic committee to revise controversial articles in the constitution. Many key members of Egypt’s liberal opposition have rejected dialogue and Morsi’s proposal to revise the constitution, however, and have instead insisted on pursuing their ongoing “rebel” campaign, which aims to remove Morsi from power, select a new constituent assembly, and draft a new constitution.

The National Salvation Front, the largest and most organized opposition bloc, has refused any dialogue with the president until all of their preconditions – the sacking of the Prosecutor General, an independent committee to revise the constitution, and a national unity government – are met.

The Muslim Brotherhood “Militias”

The Mubarak regime consistently propagated talk of “Muslim Brotherhood militias.” Such claims have increased since Morsi took power, as newspaper headlines and television news talk shows have casually and matter-of-factly discussed the “Brotherhood militias.”

When, in isolated instances, individual Brotherhood members have responded in kind to anti-Brotherhood violence (in ways that the Brotherhood has later condemned in official statements), the violence has been immediately attributed to the “Brotherhood militias.” The claim that the Muslim Brotherhood maintains so-called militias, however, is unconvincing. For one, if the Brotherhood really had militias, why did it not deploy them during Mubarak’s rule, or during the violent stages of the 2011 eighteen-day uprising?  Why has the Brotherhood not relied on these “militias” to prevent the burning of thirty of its offices in late 2012?

The events of the past year indicate that the Brotherhood has often been the victim, rather than the instigator, of violence. In all, thirty Muslim Brotherhood offices have been set ablaze or destroyed, and some members of the Brotherhood have been killed or burned alive. Graphic images of anti-Brotherhood violence, and evidence of what has transpired in recent months, has prompted even some liberals to acknowledge, finally, that the Brotherhood “militias” do not exist.

Liberal activist and writer Mahmoud Salem, known as Sandmonkey in the social media world, was one of the first liberals to publicly acknowledge this reality in a 26 March 2013 Daily News Egypt article. He wrote the following about what he called the “myth” of Muslim Brotherhood militias: “From everything we have seen in every major clash with the MB and its members, this myth is also simply false. The MB is organized and can mobilize its members, but its members are mostly educated middle class and are not trained in militant warfare.”

It is worth nothing that Salem’s “myth” article came in the aftermath of violent 22 March protests organized outside the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in al-Muqattam. During these clashes, the Brotherhood, again, suffered major casualtiesone hundred seventy six injuries, twenty six of them serious, and one fatality–as they attempted to protect their headquarters, after police appeared unable or unwilling to do soPlaying a key role in the al-Muqattam protests was political activist Ahmed Douma, who said on multiple occasions prior to the 22 March clashes that burning down Muslim Brotherhood offices is a “revolutionary act.”

What is arguably most troubling about the anti-Brotherhood violence is the callousness with which at least some supporters of the opposition discuss these events, sometimes suggesting that Brotherhood members deserve violent treatment. I recall a widely circulated photo of a Muslim Brotherhood activist set ablaze, his upper body completely on fire.

Many Egyptians praised and joked about the incident in the comment field below the photo on Facebook, and some circulated a “Muslim Brotherhood: before and after” photo mocking the burned activist. It is important to note that the 2011 uprising against the Mubarak regime was, with some rare exceptions, overwhelmingly nonviolent. After Mubarak’s ouster, both liberal and Islamist revolutionaries credited the peaceful nature of the protesters as one mark of the revolution’s greatness. In a short period of time, some in Egypt have become convinced that violence against an elected president and ruling political group is legitimate.


Anti-Muslim Brotherhood propaganda may be the result of a concerted effort by media tycoons unfriendly to the Brotherhood, a consequence of decades of anti-Brotherhood fear mongering, or both. The general lack of professionalism that plagues much of Egyptian journalism–something which I discussed at length in my dissertation research in 2009, and which helps create a systematically imbalanced discussion–almost certainly plays a key role.

In any case, what becomes clear from any serious reading of Egyptian politics is that there are groups in Egypt–Mubarak regime remnants, media figures, and members of the opposition–that refuse to let the Brotherhood rule the country. It is true that anti-Brotherhood sentiment has increased in recent months, and that Morsi’s politics have turned off many Egyptians. It is also true, however, that Morsi’s mistakes have been exaggerated and, importantly, that there were many Egyptians not prepared–from the start–to accept a democratic Egypt ruled by Islamists.

Here, it is important to note that the first arsons of Brotherhood offices occurred well before Morsi’s controversial 22 November decree, which lasted all of eighteen days and has been exaggerated by the opposition. It is also worth noting that calls for a new “revolution” began last August, just two months after Morsi took power and when his approval rating was higher than 70 percent; and that members of Egypt’s opposition, including 2012 presidential candidates Hamdeen Sabbahi and Amr Moussa, have been calling for an early end to Morsi’s term since last summer–just after they lost the presidential race. Indeed, it seems some in Egypt’s opposition were ready to move away from Brotherhood rule almost as soon as it began.

At best, the Muslim Brotherhood is struggling to solve Egypt’s myriad problems, simultaneously battling thugs in the street, a seditious opposition, corruption in the judiciary, and a state that is in shambles at many levels. At worst, they are incompetent rulers. Even if the incompetence theory proves true, the Brotherhood does not deserve violence or overthrow, despite what the propaganda war against them may suggest.

Note: Egypt is divided and for a long time. A reasonable resolution is to reinstate Morsi for another year, after a fresh parliamentary election. Military officers should be excluded from candidacies before they retire for a few years.

Have you lately used Darwin’s name in Vain?

It is survival of the Gene stupid, not your own life…

There are growing number of research pointing to the qualitative altering of genes as people change their daily behaviors.  Sort of nurturing changes the default genes of acquired habits and customs.

These results bring to the forefront deductive ideas:

1. Genes are but structured system of acquired customs and habits that we use in our daily transactions and behaviors, acquired over generations…

2. If a group of people assemble and get organized to change their habits and customs, this gathering of people will basically tend to alter their genes, creating a new species of mankind

3. The species of mankind that is resuming the current consumption civilization, which defies the sustainability of earth and nature, is ultimately doomed, and replaced by

4. The new breed who takes the attitude of never challenging nature, of consuming what nature is able to produce, of maintaining a healthy environment… this new species of mankind could survive…

These ideas and deductions were inspired by this short post in Reine Organized Chaos.

 posted this July 24, 2013:

“When you ask some people why they act in ‘selfish’ ways, why they are out to fulfill their own self-interest, many might attribute it to a ‘survival of the fittest’ strategy.

I’ve been reading a book on evolutionary biology, an extension of Darwin’s theories, and the biggest insight so far is the following:

It isn’t about the survival of the fittest individual but survival of the fittest GENE.

What does this imply?

That maybe a few selfless acts on the individual level might be just what you need for that particular gene to survive!

Selfless animals that act upon the gene causing them to scream out might suffer on an individual level when a predator finds them, but that gene called out a warning to other animals in the vicinity, inevitably creating a proliferation of that particular gene through saving all those lives.

We, the human species should start wondering whether the way we’ve misunderstood ‘survival of the fittest’ might be causing us to act in contrast to actual evolutionary biology.

And whether we’re slowly decreasing the number of genes that can allow us to actually survive”.

Note 1: Low and high altitude mankind species

Note2:  Reine Azzi is an instructor who teaches at a Lebanese university! Best way to remain passionately challenged!  She has the licensee, curator, and host of TEDxLAU which adds so much excitement to my life!




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