Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Muslim Brotherhood

East of Eden (Aden) and West of Allah?

Too powerful a condemnation of 1400 years of ignorance by late poet and playwright Muhammad Maghout

Having in mind the Wahhabi Islamic sect of the Arabian Peninsula and the Muslim Brotherhood religious ideology

Apparently, a religion targeting the people of the deserts, people who abhor abstract concepts and dogma, when adopted by other more urban empires, they revert to their original habits and belief systems.

1400 later, the people of the deserts came 360 degrees around and what was developed in their life-style in urban surrounding didn’t change much in their belief systems, and they ended up reverting to their original desert habits and in their mentality.

يقول محمد الماغوط في كتابه “شرق عدن غرب الله“:
١٤٠٠ عام .

منذ ١٤٠٠ عام عاشوا في البراري ناموا في المضارب
أضاؤوا لياليهم بإشعال الزيت والحطب ..
لم يعرفوا غير الرعي والسبي والغزوات ..
تيّمموا بالتراب ..

تقاتلوا .. تحاربوا .. تناحروا .. تزاوجوا

منذ ١٤٠٠ عام تركوا لنا قصصاً وسيراً ذاتية وأحاديثاً ونصوصاً …

قالوا أنها مقدسة كما قال الذين من قبلهم ..

وبعد ١٤٠٠ عام يتوّجب علينا
أن نفكّر كما كانوا يفكرون ..
أن نلبس كما كانوا يلبسون ..
أن نعيش كما كانوا يعيشون ..

أن نتقاتل كما كانوا يتقاتلون ..
أن نتزوّج كما كانوا يتزوّجون ..

١٤٠٠ عام من التزوير والمطلوب أن نصدّق كل ماوردنا …….

ونحن نشهد تزوير الحاضر ..

١٤٠٠ عام من التمترس خلف شخصيات وحكايات ……..

لا نعرف شيئاً عن حقيقتها ..
ويتوجب علينا
أن لا نخرج من عباءاتهم ..
أن نقتدي بهم ..

أن نمتثل لهم ..
أن نتعلم منهم وأن ننتقم لهم وأن نبكي عليهم ..
وأن نسير في مواكب تشييعهم وأن نزور أضرحتهم حتى اليوم ..

١٤٠٠ عام ونحن نفسر ماذا قالوا ولماذا قالوا وماذا كانوا يقصدون ..

١٤٠٠ عام من الصلوات والدعاء على اليهود والنصارى
لتشتيت شملهم .. ولم يتبقى لنا شمل ..
لتدمير أوطانهم .. ولم يتبقى لنا أوطان .

لسبي نسائهم ولم تُسبى إلا نساء المسلمين

١٤٠٠ عام من صلوات الإستسقاء ..

والأمطار تغمر العالم إلا بلاد المسلمين ..

١٤٠٠ عام من الزكاة وعدد الجياع والمحرومين يزداد كل يوم في بلاد المسلمين ..
١٤٠٠ عام من الصيام والبطون تكبر والأوزان تزيد عند شيوخ المسلمين ..
١٤٠٠ عام من رجم الشيطان .. والشيطان يتكاثر في بلاد المسلمين ..

أيتها الأمة النائمة :
إن من تصلّون وتدعون عليهم وصلوا إلى الفضاء وناموا على سطح القمر وشطروا الذرّة وجزّأوا الثانية واخترعوا الثورة الرقمية وأنتم لم تفلحوا إلا ……..بثورة الأعضاء التناسلية

وتتدارسون حتى اليوم طريقة دخول المرحاض ……..وماذا يفسد الوضوء غير المرأة والكلب الأسود ..

وعندما اجتهد العلماء توصلوا إلى جهاد النكاح وسفاح القربى وإرضاع الكبير ووداع الزوجة الميتة ……..

وكتبوا كتباً في الطريقة النبوية السليمة في نكاح المرأة والبهيمة ..

أيتها الأمة النائمة ..
ألا يحق لعقولنا أن تتأثر بهذا الفيض من المعارف والعلوم والتكنولوجيا التي تحيط بنا ……..

.وهل يتوجّب على عقولنا أن تبقى رهينة منذ ١٤٠٠ عام

وتنهل منها كلّ العلوم لطالما كانت صالحة لكل زمان ومكان ……

كما تدّعون ولو كانت صالحة لماذا بقينا على تخلفنا .
..ولماذا لم يأخذ منها الغرب .

عندما نضع الحصان لفلاحة الارض …والحمار للسباق ……
فلن نجني خيرا ولن نكسب الرهان ..!!

الماغوط العظيم

How to wreck a country in 369 days?  Blame it on Muhammad Morsy?

Note: The USA decided to bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt when the Spring uprising was successful to bring Mubarak down. Since this movement was the only organized party, Obama and Hillary refused to delay the election so that their preferred choice gets elected.

MICHAEL WAHID HANNA published in Foreign Policy this JULY 8, 2013

Let’s make this abundantly clear: No one should be pleased with the division and bloodshed playing out in the streets of Cairo right now, particularly as military repression escalates.

But let’s also make this abundantly clear: One man bears the ultimate responsibility for the crisis of leadership — Mohamed Morsy

With Morsy now arbitrarily detained by the military following his July 3 ouster and Egyptian security forces indulging in violent, reckless repression, the former Egyptian president and his Muslim Brotherhood movement have legitimate grievances regarding their unjustifiable treatment.

But let’s not forget how we got to this grim point.

On the night of June 30, in the face of unprecedented, nationwide mass mobilization and protest, Morsy was politically wounded, his legitimacy undermined, his ability to govern Egypt irreparably damaged.

In response to the bottom-up, grassroots campaign that brought millions out into the streets, critical sectors of the state bureaucracy openly abandoned the president, leaving him with an illusory and nominal grip on power.

He faced a country dangerously polarized, its social fabric fraying. At that moment, Egypt had fleetingly few options for avoiding the grim possibility of civil strife — and all of them resided with Morsy.

Despite inheriting intractable political, economic, and social problems, when Morsy ascended to power on June 30, 2012, he had choices — and he chose factional gain, zero-sum politics, and populist demagoguery.

In a system without functioning checks and balances, those choices generated increasing levels of polarization, destroying trust and crippling the state. These decisions were a reflection of his hostility to criticism and his and the Muslim Brotherhood’s denigration of the opposition’s role in Egyptian society.

In the period prior to this year’s June 30 mass protests on the first anniversary of Morsy’s swearing-in, when concessions and compromise might have found an orderly way out for Egypt, Morsy instead grudgingly offered airy promises and hollow gestures.

The fateful, misguided decisions made throughout his tenure and in the run-up and aftermath of the June 30 protests have now put Egypt on the cusp of civil strife and violent conflict.

An intransigent, isolated President chose to ignore reality and set the country on the course for an undeniably unfortunate military intervention into civilian politics. (Egypt has been governed by the military since 1955)

While Morsy and the Muslim Brotherhood will undoubtedly now assume their more familiar role as victims, significantly aided by the brutality and stupidity of a repressive Egyptian security sector, the primary responsibility for Morsy’s ouster and Egypt’s perilous state resides with the deposed president and his Brothers. None of this was inevitable.

This is not to suggest that the Brotherhood should now be ostracized, persecuted, or forced underground. The Muslim Brotherhood is an organic and deeply rooted religious, social, and political movement with a robust and resilient base. It must be a part of Egypt’s future. But its part in Egypt’s recent past has been an unmitigated disaster.

Morsy’s fatal final decisions confirmed his insular, factional worldview, which prioritized the Muslim Brotherhood before the nation. Simply put, he failed to comprehend that his secret society had no monopoly on Egypt and that their electoral victories were not an unlimited mandate. The Muslim Brotherhood believed that the series of elections throughout 2011 and 2012, which represented in many ways the last elections of Hosni Mubarak’s era, bespoke something essential about Egyptian society and the Brotherhood’s place within it.

These traits — bullheadedness, insularity, and paranoia — were on vivid display as Egypt careened toward June 30, but they had manifested themselves repeatedly over the course of the Brotherhood’s short, unhappy time in power.

Morsy’s 369 days in power were typified by a lack of reform, which alienated activists and reformists; a lack of reconciliation, which blocked any potential outreach to members of the former regime; and narrow, monopolistic governance, which alienated all political forces — including his erstwhile Islamist allies, particularly the al-Nour Party, which abandoned Morsy during his final hours. This reckless approach to power spurred alienation, paralyzed governance, and resulted in repression and discontent — and opposition grew.

The bill of particulars is damning and dates back to the immediate post-Mubarak period, when the Brotherhood chose to pursue a formalist procedural transition that saw elections alone as democracy, while ignoring substantive reform of a failing system.

The narrow window for confronting Mubarak’s police state and crony capitalism would have required a modicum of solidarity among the forces that propelled the uprising against Mubarak. But in the first of a series of betrayals, the Muslim Brotherhood set out on a course to retool Mubarak’s authoritarian state and co-opt its tools of repression, with the Brotherhood itself in the helm.

Not only did the Muslim Brotherhood help craft and endorse the interim military ruler’s flawed transitional road map, which was filled with gaps and omissions, but the Brotherhood  immediately set about stigmatizing its opponents on the basis of crude religious and sectarian demagoguery.

Reformist and activist forces who sought to challenge the emerging political order were tarred and treated as obstacles in the Brotherhood’s pursuit of factional gain. Hence was set in motion a substance-free transition whose sole defining feature was a grueling series of elections.

12NEXT

 

Repression Deepens in Egypt

At first it was the Muslim Brotherhood. Now dozens of journalists, non-Islamist activists and students have been detained and beaten.

Sharif Abdel Kouddous  published in The Nation. December 9, 2013

The Abu Zaabal prison complex lies some twenty miles northeast of Cairo, where the dense urban cacophony of the capital quickly gives way to rolling fields, rubbish-strewn canals and small clusters of hastily built red brick buildings.

Outside the main gate—a pair of large metal doors flanked by Pharaonic-themed columns—sit 4 army tanks, their long snouts pointed up and out.

Gehad Khaled, a 20-year-old with an easy laugh and youthful intensity, has been coming to Abu Zaabal on a regular basis for nearly four months to visit her imprisoned husband.

Abdullah Al-Shamy was among hundreds rounded up on August 14, the day security forces violently stormed two sit-ins in Cairo and Giza that formed the epicenter of support for the deposed president, Mohamed Morsi, leaving up to 1,000 people dead.

Rabaa

The front gate of Abu Zaabal, a prison north of Cairo where hundreds of protestors are currently detained (photo by Mosa’ab Elshamy)

Abdullah was at the Rabaa Al-Adeweya sit-in for work. As a correspondent for the satellite news channel Al Jazeera, the 25-year-old journalist had been stationed at the pro-Morsi encampment for six weeks, becoming a familiar face to the channel’s viewers in one of the summer’s biggest international news stories.

Gehad would visit Abdullah at the sit-in, where he was working around the clock.

The two had been married in September 2012, though Abdullah spent little time at home because of regular deployments to countries like Mali, Libya, Ghana and Turkey for Al Jazeera. “The longest period we spent together since we were married was in Rabaa,” she says with a smile.

Now, Gehad sees Abdullah just once every two weeks inside Abu Zaabal, waiting hours each time for a fifteen-minute visit. She brings him food, water, clothes, newspapers, books, toiletries and other necessities to alleviate the austere conditions inside Egypt’s jails.

The prison waiting room is bustling with other families carrying plastic bags and suitcases of supplies.

Children scamper around their parents, women carry babies.

Over the past few months, thousands of Brotherhood members and Morsi supporters have been rounded up and thrown in prison. More than 700 of those arrested in the August 14 raid on Rabaa were imprisoned at Abu Zaabal, and the walls of the waiting room bear the signs of the political divisions that have torn Egypt apart.

Drawings of a hand holding up four fingers, a symbol for Rabaa (Arabic for “four”), are scrawled in felt pen alongside slogans such as “Down with military rule” and “CC the killer,” in reference to army chief Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, who deposed Morsi on July 3.

Some of the graffiti has been angrily crossed out by family members of prisoners convicted of regular crimes who oppose the Brotherhood.

Similar divisions exist within Gehad’s own family.

Her father is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and a staunch supporter of Morsi, yet Gehad, who has began protesting the regime since 2008, says she doesn’t support the group and accuses them of abandoning the revolution. (Applying their own brand of religious despotism?)

In what has become an increasingly common phenomenon in Egyptian society, the political cleavages within her family often spilled over into heated disputes, compelling her to refrain from discussing politics with her parents and siblings.

Despite her misgivings about the Brotherhood, Gehad spent a lot of time in the pro-Morsi Rabaa sit-in, not just to see her husband but to be a part of the protest.

“We have been standing against the military since 2011, and we still are now,” she explains. (Actually, the military in Egypt has been ruling for 5 decades and have their own economic and business institutions)

“We didn’t change our position, the Brotherhood did. Now they stand against the military too. We are continuing, and they have joined us.”

Her attitude is not shared by other revolutionary activists who view the Brotherhood not just as political opportunists but as a separate wing of the counterrevolution. These activists point to abuses the Brotherhood committed during their time in power as justification for refusing to join even a tactical alliance with them against the military after the coup.

Abdullah’s younger brother, 23-year-old Mosa’ab, sits next to Gehad in the waiting room. Mosa’ab also spent a significant amount of time in Rabaa, but only in his capacity as a journalist, not as a protester. A talented and intrepid freelance photographer, one of his photographs, from a police attack on the sit-in on July 27 that left dozens dead, was selected as one of Time magazine’s Top Ten Photos of 2013.

Similar divisions plague the Al-Shamy family as well. Mosa’ab says his father, a Brotherhood member, and his eldest brother, Anas, are often a united front arguing vociferously against him, Abdullah and his younger brother, all of whom were more critical of the Brotherhood and Morsi. “It wasn’t pleasant,” Mosa’ab says.

On August 14, the day of the police raids, Mosa’ab was in frequent phone contact with Abdullah as they both covered the carnage unfolding in Rabaa. Their youngest brother, 19-year-old Mohammed, a photographer working for the Turkish news agency Anadolu, was there as well. Mosa’ab and Mohammed left together in the afternoon, not long before security forces had completely moved in and cleared the sit-in.

By nightfall, Mosa’ab found out that Abdullah had been detained, arrested by security forces as he was walking out of Rabaa with Gehad. Nearly four months later, he remains imprisoned, and there have been no significant developments pointing toward his release.

Like thousands of protesters arrested over the past few months, he is accused of inciting violence, disturbing the peace and destroying public property.

“I’m more afraid now,” Mosa’ab says of continuing his work as a photojournalist in Egypt. “I think about it 1,000 times over before I go out to cover something.”

* * *

Abdullah has spent the past four months struggling to endure the monotony of prison life.

“People should appreciate every moment they live in freedom,” he says in an interview from jail. “I never thought I could stay this long here. The worst thing is that every day is like the other. You wake up with nothing to do.” (It is very common with many well-off people outside prison. It is like watching the weather in California: the same news and numbers)

He spends his days reading, writing and speaking to other prisoners. (Great opportunities Not available outside prison)

He shares a cell with 66 other men, in a room approximately forty square meters. There are no beds; prisoners sleep on the floor, with blankets provided by their families.

For the first eight weeks, hardly any water was provided, and prisoners had to structure an equitable sharing system in order to shower. The cell is open for an hour a day, when prisoners can walk around the building but are not allowed outside.

Ever the journalist, Abdullah has spent much of his time in prison interviewing all of his fellow detainees and documenting their cases. He plans to write a book once he is released.

He says those imprisoned with him include Islamists spanning different ideologies (wondering what ideology has to do in religion) as well as street vendors, minors and even one man detained simply for standing near police on the day of the Rabaa raid who says he is staunchly opposed to Morsi, voted for his rival in the presidential election and took part in the anti-Morsi protest on June 30 and the pro-military one on July 26.

Like many other prisoners, the worst abuse Abdullah suffered occurred when he was first detained. Officers arrested him as he was walking out of Rabaa with Gehad past a security checkpoint. They asked for his ID, but all he had was his passport, which was filled with entry stamps from the countries across Africa where he had been deployed for Al Jazeera. “They considered me a spy,” he says. “They thought I was a big catch.”

He was taken to the nearby Cairo stadium, where prisoners were being mistreated and harassed by the police. The next morning he was transferred with several dozen others to a police station, where they were greeted by the notorious “welcome party”—a common practice of forcing incoming detainees to run through a gantlet of waiting soldiers, who beat and whip them with sticks and belts.

Once inside, police stole money, watches and IDs from the prisoners while continuing to beat and humiliate them, Abdullah says.

All of them were eventually transferred to Abu Zaabal, where they have remained ever since, relying on regular supplies of food, water and other essentials from relatives, as is customary in Egypt’s crippled prison system.

“I do have hope,” he says. “But sometimes I feel down because my wife has to endure this in the beginning of our marriage. I am lucky she is a very strong lady and is supporting me when I should be supporting her.”

Abdullah has received scant backing for his plight from other journalists in Egypt outside of his friends.

The Journalists’ Syndicate has not taken up his case, and calls for his release are largely absent in the local press. “Some Egyptian journalists are very happy about it, including people that we know,” says his brother Mosa’ab. “They think he deserves it.”

Abdullah’s network, Al Jazeera, has long been criticized as being heavily biased in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Morsi government’s agenda (Qatar is the main supporter financially of the Muslim Brotherhood and Turkey politically)

After Morsi’s ouster, authorities raided the offices of Al Jazeera’s local affiliate in Egypt and briefly detained its staff. In September, a Cairo court ordered the channel and three other stations to stop broadcasting, saying in its ruling that they “hurt national security.”

Yet the criticism did not just come from the military-backed government. Even Mosa’ab would argue with Abdullah over the channel’s coverage. “I would criticize Al Jazeera and tell him about my reservations and tell him to keep his integrity,” Mosa’ab says. “He always took the criticism well but did what he believed.”

“Every channel is biased or has its agenda, no channel is completely neutral,” Abdullah says.  “I always challenge people to point to something I said on air, and I will face any allegations,” he says. “Our job is to help the weak. But unfortunately, in Egypt most journalists stand with those in power, either Mubarak or the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces or Sisi.”

In the deepening polarization following Morsi’s overthrow, many pundits on private media outlets have voiced complete support for the military, adopting its language of a “war on terror” and vilifying Al Jazeera and demonizing all Islamists as violent extremists unfit for political life.

“The polarization was a big divide that resulted in a lack of empathy and solidarity between journalists,” says Sherif Mansour, the Middle East and North Africa coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“This is one of the main reasons we’ve seen these attacks on journalists increase but also go unpunished.” Seven journalists, including Abdullah, are currently imprisoned in Egypt, according to Mansour, while dozens of others have been briefly detained.

Meanwhile, after months of a vicious crackdown targeting the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi supporters, the Interior Ministry has turned its attention to the activist community that first launched and sustained the revolution.

Prominent figures, like blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah and Ahmed Douma, have been arrested in the middle of the night at their homes and accused of violating a draconian new anti-protest law.

Dozens of non-Islamist protesters—among them some of the country’s most notable female activists—have been detained during peaceful demonstrations and beaten and abused while in police custody. And security forces have tried to quell a growing firestorm of protest and dissent on university campuses with brute force, killing at least one student and arresting scores in mass sweeps.

“I don’t think the people who stood against Morsi wanted this,” Abdullah says. “The way things are going, nothing is going to change in Egypt.”

Read David Mizner on hunger strikes around the world.

Note: Hillary Clinton clearly expressed the US policy: “We wanted the Muslim Brotherhood to come to power. (Not only in Egypt but in Syria and Libya and in any state they are strong). We were taken aback when Sisi succeeded in his coup d’etat. We tried military intervention in Egypt but we backed off when Egypt army, marines and air-force showed their willingness to defend their coup”

Coprolalia on Syria, European pseudo-Leftists, and Žižek

I was a bit disappointed when I read Žižek´s article on Syria.

It is true that the people in Syria have no excuse for not making a revolution, but compassion is a virtue.

Maybe if “comrade” Žižek could´ve taken the time to scribble them a manual of “Revolution 101″ they could´ve been brought to their senses.

Possibly a syllabus of recommended readings? Žižek has a lot to teach the people in Syria and Egypt.

The European Left as a whole has much to share itself. I mean, Europe has been revolting for decades and the victories of the European Left are a source of global envy.

Žižek himself has lead the barricades and put a stake to the heart of neo-liberalism in his own country.

Leil-Zahra Mortada posted this Nov. 12, 2013

Zizek 1 

Only if the people in Syria could read Žižek!  Only then they´d see how mistaken they have been.

They´d see that revolution is not about survival.

It is not about teaching your kids that their life does matter despite the international silence that hollowly echo the atrocities they have been witnessing for over three years; let alone the terror of the decades before.

Revolution is not about reminding yourself and those around you that it is ok to continue living though your friends are either killed or are being tortured in detention camps as we speak.

Revolution is not about carving the walls of your city with “Down with the Regime” knowing that you are not risking your life only, but also the lives of your family members.

Revolution is not about making a song that resonates in the voices of hundreds of thousands across the country, then have the regime forces slit your throat open and distribute a celebratory video of your dead body.

Revolution is not about women taking to the streets after hearing the constant stories of gang rapes of both men and women by Assad´s thugs.

Revolution is not about thinking how to get food to the besieged towns and villages.

Revolution is not a small activist group working to deliver/smuggle vaccines to counter the outbreak of polio in northern Syria.

Revolution is not about all the creative direct actions in Damascus.

Revolution is not about the Local Coordination Committees (LCCs) organizing and working under bombardments, detentions, shortage of basic needs, the Assad regime, Islamic fundamentalism, and constant pressure to prove that they are “revolutionary enough”.

Revolution is not about not-writing leftist communiques because your people are refugees jumping on the first ship to sink, and you don´t have the time nor the energy to prove to Europe that you are “revolutionary enough”.

Revolution is not about dreaming and plotting about the future while all you see around is hunger, pain and death. Revolution is not about still believing that another Syria is possible despite Assad, the Islamic fundamentalists, the international meddling, and the international hypocrisy; plus the constant reproach of the European/International Left.

Revolution is not what Syria is doing. This is what Žižek wants us to know.

I wonder if Žižek took the effort to google for an hour or two before he wrote his opinion. If he bothered to check the hashtag #Syria on Twitter while he is waiting for his turn to speak on some academic conference.

I wonder if he tried to get the contacts of Syrian activists and rebels for some firsthand accounts on what is happening while he is on his way from his hotel to his BBC interview.

Or maybe acted like a revolutionary would and headed there on a solidarity field trip, or maybe volunteered for a week or two at a refugee camp in Turkey and recorded all the “social theories” he´d witness there!

Maybe then he could´ve read Kafr Nabl´s banners that would put him to the shame he deserves.

Maybe then he could´ve relayed to the European Left the communiques of some LCCs; or maybe the photos of the courageous media collective “Lens of a Young Homsi“, or those of “Lens of a Young Woman on a Summer Vacation“.

He could´ve heard of the Spray Guy, or the smuggling of tape-recorders into governmental buildings in Damascus then blasting revolutionary chants from within.

People would´ve told him about Damascus waking up to find the fountains in its squares spilling red water in protest against massacres committed by the regime.

If Žižek took the time to use google he could´ve heard about the “Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression” and its detainees; he could´ve read about the “Violations Documentation Center in Syria” and the inspiring work of Razan Zaitonah.

There are so many names and groups and organizations to come across, it is easy to see how much revolutionary work is being done if he could´ve just went through the names of the detainees and what they were doing before getting arrested.

I wonder if he ever heard the name Bassel Shehadeh! I wonder if he spoke to some activists or refugees which can be found all over European streets, before he decided that Christians (in such ignorant generalization) are siding with the regime.

Yet, Žižek decided without the minimal respect for the lives of those killed, to flamboyantly disseminate a whole uprising! He had the “Leftist” audacity to sit on his European academic pedestal and wipe these people off the revolutionary map.

It is quite impressive how many Europeans feel entitled to dictate on other people what they should or should not do.

I don´t remember Tunisian leftists telling the Occupy movement what to do.

I don´t remember texts from Bahrain telling Acampada Barcelona that what they are doing is not changing a thing.

It is only Europeans and North Americans that feel that it is perfectly normal for them to judge and intervene in the smallest details of other political movements, to tell the world how to talk and where to walk, without doing the indispensable research ahead.

In the same way Žižek laid misinformed and misrepresented “facts” about Syria, he did about Egypt.

To consider that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt were ever “surprised impassive observers” shows great ignorance. When were they “surprised impassive observers”?!

When they met with Omar Suleiman (intelligence agency chief) even before Mubarak stepped down?

Or when they were playing on various fronts sending their youth to Tahrir Square while they were striking deals with SCAF?

Or when they were actively supporting and defending the same military regime that is killing them now?

To consider that the “agents of Tahrir Square” are passively supporting the crimes of the military is another blatant sign of lack of touch with revolutionary reality. Or maybe it is all built on what is coming out in the European mainstream media?

Activist groups and revolutionaries in Egypt, despite having suffered the brutality of Morsi´s regime, have been actively and loudly denouncing Sisi´s massacres.

They too are worn out from the immense revolutionary weight yet still carrying out the Not-so-glamorous tasks of dealing with the detainees, military trials, the injured, the housing problems, the families of the martyrs, sectarian violence, the attack on liberties, the writing of the constitution, the attack on women´s bodies and rights…and the list can go on longer than Žižek´s scheduled appearances on magazine covers.

They are working day and night to stop the further division of their society, to fight against the stigmatization of even their enemies (Muslim Brotherhood) so that they can build a country where a woman can´t be arrested and tortured for wearing a veil and protesting for someone she believes was the democratically elected president.

Even if this ex-president has blood on his hands and favored neoliberal economical policies.

The same way Europe is obsessed with secularism, it is obsessed with “democracy”. But did anyone stop and ask  the European Illuminati what democracy are they talking about?

The votes bought with sugar and flour “donations”? Or the political affiliation paid for with medicines for those who can´t afford a loaf of bread?

Or the democracy that is built on fueling sectarian violence and telling people that voting for one party would make you a better Muslim?

The democracy that made the votes for Mursi modern-day indulgences!

Žižek then moves to reduce popular dissidence and rebellion against Mubarak to a “predominantly the revolt of the educated middle class, with the poor workers and farmers reduced to the role of (sympathetic) observers”.

Does anyone truly believe that the middle class (to which I belong) is capable of holding up nonstop on the barricades for days and nights?

Does anyone really believe that if it wasn´t for the youngsters from Egypt´s slums and their bravery on the frontlines, the middle class could´ve ousted Mubarak?

Does anyone really believe that without the Bedouins in Sinai, the workers in various factories, the strikes and the workers descending on the square, any of this would´ve been possible?

Do people truly still believe that this all happened thanks to Twitter and Facebook?

Of course activists from the middle class played an important role in this, but it was in no way more important than those from the crushed classes of the society.

Go over the names of the martyrs, the names of the injured and the names of the detainees, and scan their economical backgrounds, then come talk about the poor being “sympathetic observers”.

zizek 2 

Žižek´s article is the perfect example of every European leftist (prick) sitting in some bar drinking beer and talking about entire populations fighting in ways he only saw in books and movies.

The story of our lives, immigrants in Europe.

His/their portrayal of the options we have as

A) supporting Assad or

B) supporting the Islamists is the typical and historical mistake of a big section of the European Left.

With all his/their “social theory” expertise they didn´t come across options C, D, E, F and the numerous combinations.

It is like talking about the USA and saying that the only two options we have, as radical leftists, are between the Republicans and the Democrats, completely dropping the extensive network of activist groups who are doing inspiring work.

Since when did we measure European activism according to the major political forces on the scene?

Yes, superficially these are two options we have, but not if we did our revolutionary homework and looked for people who are too busy getting up every morning to face both A and B instead of sitting on their computers and write letters of self-validation to the European Left.

But of course, it is the duty of Syrian leftists to clarify these issues for the European Left.

I mean, “comrade” Žižek and other “comrades” are busy setting up the EU on fire, attacking US military bases, World Bank headquarters are under siege, and immigrants are welcomed into the fortress by revolutionary committees. They are too busy to google Syria.

It is important for social movements, and revolutionaries, to communicate, debate and discuss what is happening in the world and in their respective movements.

This is what true solidarity is all about. But communication shouldn´t be a simplex circuit, it shouldn´t be one directional, else it will be another form of political colonialism and cultural superiority!

Communication should be interactive and opinions should be informed. It should be based on equality, on built and informed trust, and on respect.

Unfortunately this is not what is happening, all the effort is being put into a condescending patriarchal lecturing and continuous ignorant yet firm discrediting.

So what is happening in the majority of the European (& academic) Left these days? Nothing really special, except that Lady Gaga is one step closer to becoming the world’s new superpower while its competitors are eagerly weakening each other.

Note: From 2011 to 2013, the Syrian regime bombed every town where secular activists locally organized the community. Its sustained bombing allowed the extremist Islamic factions to step in and control all these towns and cities. With the total support and aid of Saudi Kingdom,Arab Gulf Emirate, Europe, USA  and Turkey Moslem Brotherhood ideology.

No. She didn’t win the Nobel for literature

Egyptian writer and journalist Nawal Alsaadawi

The TV announced that a Belarusian woman author got it instead.

I don’t mind that critical political messages be attached to an award: (Dictator) Belarus President elected for 5th term

Though I think Egypt political system has been going through tougher times than Belaru to be considered as a timely

But Nawal could as well vie for the peace award

It has been half a century since a writer working primarily in non-fiction won the Nobel – and Alsaadawi is the first journalist to win the award.

Svetlana Alexievich

Image copyright

Andrew Bossone shared this link

Nawal El Saadawi, the great Egyptian feminist and writer, lives on the 26th floor of a biscuit-coloured Cairo tower block about half an hour by car from Tahrir Square.

Built in the 1990s, it seems much older, its forbidding brutalist exterior sprayed with wonky satellite dishes and precarious air conditioning units, its stifling lift threatening at every floor to judder permanently to a halt.

“No, I am not rich,” she notes, waving an arm in the gloom of her book-lined sitting room, which is shuttered against the noonday heat.

But then, since when were dissident writers in it for the money, especially in Eygpt, where copyright is, to put it mildly, tricky to enforce? “Publishers have always taken from me!” she says, her voice rising indignantly.

“But still, I am privileged even though I’m poor. I am in the 5%. I have an apartment and air conditioning. Some people in Egypt live in graves, and they’re the lucky ones. Some don’t even have a grave.”

Besides, she has come to love this spot. She has a view, her two children live close by, and here in Shubra, her neighbours are mostly Copts, a community she adores.

She feels safe for the first time in many years. The revolution has, she believes, protected writers like her, who in 2011 found themselves a focus for opposition.

“I’m surrounded by young people, day and night. Thousands of them. The government is afraid of the young, and they won’t touch me because they know I have the power of the young people behind me.”

Like many of the older leftists and intellectuals who joined the crowds in Tahrir Square in 2011, she simply can’t agree that General Sisi, who came to power on the back of a coup in 2013, is ruling as a counter-revolutionary, just as Mohamed Morsi did before him (it is an awkward fact that state killings and the numbers of government opponents languishing in prison are both dramatically on the rise).

“Not at all,” she says, stubbornly. “There is a world of difference between Mubarak and Sisi. He has got rid of the Muslim Brotherhood, and that never happened with Mubarak, or with Sadat before him.”

Yes, she wanted rid of Mubarak. But she did not regard the elections that followed his spectacular fall as free and fair: in her view, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood bribed and deceived their way to power encouraged, she insists, by Washington and London.

(An unreconstructed Marxist, El Saadawi views pretty much everything through the prism of imperialism).

“No, I am not happy that Morsi is in prison,” she says. “I’m against prison. But I am happy that the Egyptian people, with the help of the army, got him out. We found him and his followers to be mad. As for Sisi, how he does now depends on the people. I don’t believe in individuals. He is only temporary. The people decide whether he works for them or not, and if he behaves like Mubarak, he is out.”

And counter-revolution or not, her profile has never been higher. In Egypt, her supporters have established a Nawal El Saadawi forum, which holds regular meetings in Cairo and elsewhere at which her books – she has published more than 50 titles in Arabic – are discussed at some length.

The international awards continue to pile up – at this point there are too many to count – and so, too, do the invitations to speak.

Later this month, for instance, she will be in the UK, promoting new English editions of several of her most important books, among them the novel Woman at Point Zero, which tells the story of Firdaus, a victim of sexual abuse who now awaits execution in a Cairo prison cell, and The Hidden Face of Eve, her classic analysis of female oppression in the Arab world (among its pages is a taboo-breaking description of El Saadawi’s circumcision at the age of six, an operation that was performed on the floor of the family bathroom while her mother looked on, laughing and smiling).

Her opinion is much in demand. Everyone wants to know what she makes of Isis and the radicalised girls who join it; of the veil, against which she has campaigned all her life; of the Charlie Hebdo attack.

And if she sometimes sounds rather old-fashioned and autocratic – query her obsession with colonialism at your peril – she is also entirely fearless, striding where others still fear to tread.

“This crush (stampede) in Saudia Arabia!” she says, referring to the recent deaths at Mecca. “They talk about changing the way it [the hajj] is administered, about making people travel in smaller groups. What they don’t say is that the crush happened because these people were fighting to stone the devil.”

Her voice is full of disdain. “Why do they need to stone the devil? Why do they need to kiss that black stone? But no one will say this.

The media will not print it. What is it about, this reluctance to criticise religion?” Perhaps, I say, people worry they’ll be seen as racist.

“Well, religion is the embodiment of racism. All gods are jealous. People get killed because they are not praying to the right god.

She let go of God long ago, and never looked back. “These girls [who join Isis]. There is a lot of misery among young people. They can’t get work, they are poor and unemployed. But the nonsense they read about Islam and all that… I had to get educated, I had to divorce three husbands, and there they are: ignorant, brainwashed, reading about the [so-called] equality between men and women in Islam.”

She waggles a finger at me, today’s representative of the lily-livered media. “This refusal to criticise religion,” she says, sombrely. “This is not liberalism. This is censorship.”

Who is Nawal El Saadawi?

Her story has an epic quality, as if it were one of her own novels or one of those old and overblown Egyptian films.

She was born in 1931, in the village of Kafr Tahla, just north of Cairo, the second of nine children in what she describes as a more than usually “complicated” family. Yes, she was cut as a child.

But she was also encouraged to study. “I was brought up in two different classes: the poor peasant class of my father [a government official] and the upper bourgeois class of my mother, who went to French schools and wanted to ride horses and play the piano. My father came from the village. His mother went hungry to pay for his education, and it was his education and his ambition that enabled him to marry my mother. He was 30, she was 15.

Of course, my parents preferred my older brother. But he was spoilt, and he didn’t study, and was always failing, while I was good in school. So they began to support me. They wanted to marry me when I was 10, but when I rebelled, my mother stood with me.” She was, she thinks now, lucky to be a girl: “It was a handicap that pushed me.”

Her first dream was to be a dancer; she loved music, and she was beautiful.

But her father could not afford to buy a piano, so she turned her attention instead to reading and writing.

“I hated doctors, and didn’t want to be one,” she says. “But I was top of my class at high school, which meant that it was [almost automatic] that I would study medicine. I got a scholarship.”

She graduated from the University of Cairo in 1955, specialising in psychiatry, and returned to Kafr Tahla to work as a doctor, over the years becoming increasingly prominent.

In 1963, she was appointed the director general for public health education. However, her political activities were now beginning to work against her.

In 1972, she published Women and Sex, the first of a series of books in which she attacked the aggressions carried out against women’s bodies: not just female circumcision, but also the brutal rituals associated with society’s fixation with virginity (the same dayas [midwives] who circumcised children were often required to prove a girl’s hymen was intact on her wedding night). Soon after this, she lost her job, and al-Sihha [Health], the magazine she had founded three years previously, was closed down.

Was she allowed to marry for love?

“No, no, that’s the problem. My first husband was a great man, my colleague in the medical college. He was fascinating, and he was the father of my daughter. My father didn’t want me to marry him because he had gone to Suez to fight the British. But then [after Suez] the guerrilla fighters were betrayed, many of them imprisoned. This crisis broke him, and he became an addict. I was told that if I married him, he might stop his addictions, but he didn’t. He tried to kill me, so I left him.”

And husband number two? “He was a man of law, very patriarchal.” A snort. “I’m telling you frankly: I am not really fit for the role of a wife, you must be sure of that.” She divorced again.

My third husband [Sherif Hatata], the father of my son, was a very free man, a Marxist who’d been imprisoned. I lived with him for 43 years, and I told everyone: this is the only feminist man on earth.

And then I had to divorce him, too. He was a liar. He was having relations with other women.

Oh, the complexity of the patriarchal character. He wrote books about gender equality, and then he betrayed his wife. Ninety-five per cent of men are like that, I’m sure.”

Is it hard to be a divorced woman in Egypt? “If you are an ordinary woman, it is. But I’m very extraordinary. People expect everything of me.” She laughs heartily, her nimbus of white hair bouncing up and down in time to her breath.

All the while, she continued to write – Woman at Point Zero was published in 1973, and The Hidden Face of Eve in 1977 – and the state continued to make her life difficult. It was inevitable that they would one day come for her, and eventually they did.

“It was 6 September, 1981. I was in my old apartment in Giza, alone. The children were with the father in the village. I was writing a novel when I heard a knock on the door, and then the words: ‘Open up! Didn’t you hear the president’s speech last night? We are the police.’”

Sadat, it seemed, had announced that 1,000 dissidents would be arrested, that they would be “smashed”. El Saadawi tried to stay calm. “I was frightened, my heart was beating wildly, but I’m very obstinate. I asked them if they had a warrant, and when they told me they did not, I replied that I could not open the door. They disappeared for half an hour. I put on my shoes, and I got my key and bag, and I was ready. When they came back, they broke down the door: 30 of them, very savage. They pushed me out into the street, where there were 10 police cars. I could see my neighbours peeping out of their windows, all very frightened.”

At the prison, she shared a cell with 12 other women: some were Marxists, others was Islamists. “They were crying all day and night because they thought Sadat was going to kill them. But I was sure of myself. Every morning, I did my gymnastics. I danced, I sang. One of the prostitutes who came with our jailer to bring our breakfast smuggled an eye pencil to me, and I wrote my memoirs with it on toilet paper.”

She had a feeling that everything would be all right – and so it proved.

On 6 October, Sadat was assassinated. “We knew this had happened, because we had smuggled in a small transistor. When we heard, the Marxists all knelt and prayed, and the fanatical Islamic women who considered dancing a taboo took off their veils and danced. But we had to pretend we didn’t know [to the guards]. We had to act normal, to hide our happiness.”

Four weeks ticked by. Eventually, she was taken to see the new president.

“Suddenly, I was in front of Mubarak. He invited some of us to his palace: he chose 20, of which two were women. I was one, the other was a religious woman. I thought I was being taken to another prison. They didn’t tell me I was going to be released. He sat with us for two hours, and then he told us we could go home. But I was angry. I said I was going to sue the government. You can’t hold someone for three months who hasn’t committed a crime, who doesn’t know what has happened to her husband and children, and keep her in conditions that even animals wouldn’t live under, and then just say: go home. No! You must be accountable. I was the only prisoner who sued the government, and I won my case and millions of dollars, though I never saw them.”

What happened after this? She shrugs. “I went on as before. I wrote exactly what I wanted.”

This time, the government took a different approach. She was allowed to live at home, but she was effectively isolated.

Her work was censored, threats were made against her life. She was included on a “death list” that was published in a Saudi newspaper.

One evening, she even heard her name during the call to prayer: “Nawal El Saadawi should be killed,” said the muezzin. Mubarak sent guards to her house, ostensibly to protect her. But she knew better than to take this at face value. People like her were often murdered by their so-called guards. “My husband said: you have to leave, and I am coming with you. So, we went into exile.” For the next few years, she taught at universities in Europe and the US.

But she couldn’t stay away for ever, and in 1996, she returned. “Mubarak was still insisting Egypt was a democracy. But I could see the situation. He paid people to stand against him. It was a facade. So [in 2004] I decided to stand against him.

The government was frightened because I was very popular, and they sent the police to my village, where I was having meetings, and they went to every home and they made threats: if you are a teacher, they said, you’ll be dismissed if you support her; even prison was threatened. So then I declared I was boycotting the election.”

She moved to her current flat in 2009, and from the moment she arrived, she sensed things were going to change sooner rather than later. “It was always filled with young people who’d read my work. Small demonstrations started, against Mubarak’s son at first, this idea that the presidency could be inherited. Slowly, slowly, the idea of revolution was propagated until… we moved to Tahrir Square.”

We’ve already talked about the revolution, and the coup that followed it. But how does she believe that it, and connected events elsewhere, have affected the position of women in the Arab world?

The Hidden Face of Eve, published almost 40 years ago, was shot through with an optimism for the future that seems misplaced now (she saw the revolution in Iran, the Marxist government in South Yemen and the struggle of the Palestinians as agents for the liberation for women).

As a campaigner against the veil, it must dishearten her that more women are covered now than in the middle of the last century. “Well, the veil is a political symbol,” she says. “It’s also a fashion. Some women who wear it, they wear tight jeans, they show their thighs and their breasts and their stomachs.” But then she can contain herself no longer. A wail goes up.

“Something has happened over the last 45 years. The brains of women and men have been ruined, ruined! Doctors, even university professors, are veiled.” What about FGM [female genital mutilation]?

When she wrote her book, 90% of girls in Egypt were cut. But the government made the practice illegal in 2008. Is that number now beginning to fall?

“No, it has stayed the same. You can’t change such a deep-rooted habit by passing a law. You need education. The law was passed to satisfy the west. They wanted to cover that disgrace, not to eradicate the practice itself. You have to change the minds of the mothers and fathers and even of the girls themselves, who have been brainwashed to accept it.”

How long will it take to change attitudes? “It depends on the courage of writers. But it will come.

Fifty years ago, when I opened my mouth, you couldn’t speak against it. Now you can.

Even some religious figures are saying it is against Islam.”

Not that she thinks the west can afford to be smug. For one thing, she believes religious fundamentalism is on the rise in all faiths, everywhere. For another, she regards nakedness and veiling as two sides of the same coin.

“No one criticises a woman who is half-naked. This is so-called freedom, too. The problem is our conception of freedom. Men are encouraged neither to be half-naked, nor veiled. Why?” She gives me a fierce look.

“Liberate yourself before you liberate me! This is the problem. I had to quarrel with many American feminists – Gloria Steinem, Robin Morgan – because I noticed that many of them were oppressed by their husbands, and then they came here to liberate me!”

She contemplates me, beadily. “Do you feel you are liberated?” Tentatively, I nod my head.

“Well, I feel I am not.” Another look. “The problem, by the way, is not Egyptian men. I have Egyptian female friends who married British and American men, and they lived in hell. Maybe your husband is very good, but theirs weren’t. Egyptian men are not violent relative to American men. They’ve been conquered by colonialism, so they’re not so full of machismo.” She sighs. “Well… It’s a battle, but we shouldn’t be miserable. Now, please, eat a biscuit.”

A silence opens up between us. The air conditioning unit beeps and falls quiet, and there follow a few moments of drama as, alarmed, she tries to get it working again. Then she turns her attention to returning me to my hotel.

In the two hours since my arrival, the lift has packed up. It’s all quite complicated. Having summoned a young man by telephone, she entrusts me to his care, and he leads me up one flight of stairs and through a dark service corridor which takes us into an adjoining tower, in which, one floor down, there is an operational lift.

When we get to the bottom, he walks me to the Corniche, flags a cab, and hands his mobile to its driver. The driver listens silently, before passing it to me. On the line is – I can hear her before I put it to my ear – El Saadawi. “I’ve told him how much you are paying, and I have taken his number, and if there is any problem, he will be in trouble!” she shouts. “Please ring me when you get to your hotel so I know you have arrived.” And then she hangs up, abandoning both of us – the driver, admonished before he has even begun, and me, feeling like a small child – to the endless honking traffic.

Her best-known works in English translation

  • Memoirs of a Woman Doctor (1960, 1980; translated by Catherine Cobham, 1989)
  • Searching (1968; translated by Shirley Eber, 1991)
  • The Death of the Only Man in the World (1974; translated by Sherif Hetata, 1985) Published in English under the title God Dies by the Nile
  • Woman at Point Zero (1975; translated by Sherif Hetata, 1983)
  • The Hidden Face of Eve: Women in the Arab World (1977; transl. by Sherif Hetata, 1980)
  • The Circling Song (1978; transl. by Marilyn Booth, 1989)
  • Death of an Ex-Minister (1980; transl. by Shirley Eber, 1987)
  • She Has No Place in Paradise (1979; transl. by Shirley Eber)

The book caused controversy and outrage when it was first published in Egypt, where reviewers called it a “slanderous piece of fantasy” and part of a “hysterical chorus of Fe-men attacks”.

Nawal has also been critical of her home country’s government, leading to a period of persecution – in which her telephone was bugged and she was banned from making public appearances.

 

 

A look at the writings of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi – sentenced to 1,000 lashes 

Raif Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for setting up a website that championed free speech in the autocratic kingdom. His blog, the Saudi Free Liberals Forum, was shut down after his arrest in 2012.

The lashing are sets of 50 lashes, and the next set is tomorrow.

Ian Black analyses extracts from his key published Arabic writings that show a man who risked his freedom to question some of the basic tenets of life in Saudi Arabia – especially the central role of religion

Saudi blogger faces next 50 lashes as Amnesty calls on UK government to act

Raif Badawi
Raif Badawi. Amnesty Photograph: Private/Amnesty

Reflecting on the role of the Muslim religious establishment on 12 August 2010, Badawi warned about the stifling of creativity:

As soon as a thinker starts to reveal his ideas, you will find hundreds of fatwas that accused him of being an infidel just because he had the courage to discuss some sacred topics. I’m really worried that Arab thinkers will migrate in search of fresh air and to escape the sword of the religious authorities.

Badawi argued on 28 September 2010 in favour of “secularism [as] the most important refuge for citizens of a country.”

Urged by clerics not to attend “heretical” celebrations marking Saudi national day, he underlined the importance of separating religion from the state.

He does not attack the Saudi monarchy and even praises the liberal governor of Mecca, the intellectual and poet Khaled al-Faisal Al Saud.

Secularism respects everyone and does not offend anyone … Secularism … is the practical solution to lift countries (including ours) out of the third world and into the first world.

Badawi linked Palestine, one of the touchstones of Arab solidarity, to the question of political Islam, attacking Hamas.

I’m not in support of the Israeli occupation of any Arab country, but at the same time I do not want to replace Israel by a religious state … whose main concern would be spreading the culture of death and ignorance among its people when we need modernisation and hope. States based on religious ideology … have nothing except the fear of God and an inability to face up to life.

Look at what had happened after the European peoples succeeded in removing the clergy from public life and restricting them to their churches. They built up human beings and (promoted) enlightenment, creativity and rebellion. States which are based on religion confine their people in the circle of faith and fear. (Note that Israel is becoming a religious State too)

The only article of Badawi’s hitherto translated from Arabic into English denounces the demand of Muslims in New York that a mosque and community centre be built on the site of the World Trade Centre, where 3,000 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks by al-Qaida.

It goes against the official Saudi position by linking the terrorist group to the kingdom – and accuses Muslims of intolerance.

What hurts me most as a citizen of the area which exported those terrorists … is the audacity of Muslims in New York that reaches the limits of insolence, not taking any regard of the thousands of victims who perished on that fateful day or their families.

What increases my pain is this [Islamist] chauvinist arrogance which claims that innocent blood, shed by barbarian, brutal minds under the slogan “Allahu Akbar”, means nothing compared to the act of building an Islamic mosque whose mission will be to … spawn new terrorists …

Suppose we put ourselves in the place of American citizens. Would we accept that a Christian or Jew assaults us in our own house and then build a church or synagogue in the same area of the attack? I doubt it. We reject the building of churches in Saudi Arabia, not having been assaulted by anyone.

Then what would you think if those who wanted to build a church are the same people who stormed the sanctity of our land? Finally, we should not hide that fact that Muslims in Saudi Arabia not only disrespect the beliefs of others, but also charge them with infidelity to the extent that they consider anyone who is not Muslim an infidel, and, within their own narrow definitions, they consider non-Hanbali [the Saudi school of Islam] Muslims as apostates.

How can we be such people and build … normal relations with six billion humans, four and a half billion of whom do not believe in Islam.

In the first weeks of the Egyptian revolution in February 2011, Badawi hailed the drama in Cairo’s Tahrir Square as an example to the whole Arab world. The Saudi government, by contrast, was horrified by the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak and delighted when Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood veteran elected to succeed him, was ousted.

It is a revolution, led by students and the marginalised, a revolution in every sense of the word … that is … a decisive turning point … not only in the history and geography of Egypt but everywhere that is governed by the Arab mentality of dictatorship and security. It is not yet clear whether is Egypt is about to change, but it is our hope that a new Egypt will emerge from the painful birth pangs its people are experiencing … after years of subservience and oppression.

In Sepember 2011 Badawi launched a witheringly sarcastic attack on Saudi clerics after a TV preacher called for astronomers to be punished on the grounds that they encouraged scepticism about sharia law.

Actually, this venerable preacher has drawn my attention to a truth that had been hidden from me and my dear readers – namely, the existence of the so-called Sharia astronomer.

What a wonderful appellation! In my humble experience and in the course of my not inconsiderable research into the universe, its origins and the stars, I have never once come across this term. I advise NASA to abandon its telescopes and, instead, turn to our Sharia astronomers, whose keen vision and insight surpass the agency’s obsolete telescopes.

Indeed, I advise all other scholars the world over, of whatever discipline, to abandon their studies, laboratories, research centres, places of experimentation, universities, institutes etc. and head at once to the study groups of our magnificent preachers to learn from them all about modern medicine, engineering, chemistry, microbiology, geology, nuclear physics, the science of the atom, marine sciences, the science of explosives, pharmacology, anthropology etc. – alongside astronomy, of course.

God bless them! They have shown themselves to be the final authority with the decisive word in everything, which all mankind must accept, submit to and obey without hesitation or discussion.

In May 2012, shortly before his arrest, Badawi addressed the nature of liberalism.

For me, liberalism simply means, live and let live. This is a splendid slogan. However, the nature of liberalism – particularly the Saudi version – needs to be clarified. It is even more important to sketch the features and parameters of liberalism, to which the other faction, controlling and claiming exclusive monopoly of the truth, is so hostile that they are driven to discredit it without discussion or fully understanding what the word actually means.

They have succeeded in planting hostility to liberalism in the minds of the public and turning people against it, lest the carpet be pulled out from under their feet. But their hold over people’s minds and society shall vanish like dust carried off in the wind.

His final thought quoted Albert Camus: “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

In another piece that month, Badawi invoked the Quran to support the importance of liberalism, the need to separate religion and state and implied that Islam itself has been distorted by the Saudi political establishment to promote illiberal and authoritarian ideals.

No religion at all has any connection to mankind’s civic progress. This is not a failing on the part of religion but rather that all religions represent a particular, precise spiritual relationship between the individual and the Creator. ..

However, positive law is an unavoidable human and social need because traffic regulations, employment law and the codes governing the administration of State can hardly be derived from religion.

Translations: Mona Mahmood, Amnesty International, Ian Black, Raya Jalabi and Gatestone Institute.

 

The Israel-Egypt-Jordan Natural Gas Agreement and the July 2014 War in Gaza

The Financial Times article of 21st Mai 2014, reported that Israel was very close to signing agreements with Egypt and Jordan for exporting Israeli natural gas to these countries, from Leviathan, Israel’s largest natural gas field.

What happened in the time between the Financial Times article on 21 Mai 2014, which reported that Israel was close to signing the agreements and the Haaretz article on 30 June, which reported the actual 30 billion dollar agreement between Egypt and Israel?

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/02ea38aa-e0e2-11e3-a934-00144feabdc0.html?siteedition=intl

(you can click on the picture to enlarge it)

Israel Egypt Jordan PA

 Posted on

At the following article of Haaretz, which is as you can see at the following Wikipedia link, Israel’s oldest newspaper, and its English version is published with the New York Times,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haaretz

It was reported on 30 June 2014 that Israel did finally sign an agreement to export to Egypt 30 billion dollars of natural gas in the next 15 years. That is 2 billion dollars of natural gas each year, and it amounts to 20% of Leviathan’s capacity.

http://www.haaretz.com/business/.premium-1.601980

At the following article of the Times of Israel, an electronic newspaper that is published in 3 languages, it was reported on 3 September 2014, that Israel did finally sign an agreement to export to Jordan 15 billion dollars of natural gas in the next 15 years.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-signs-15-billion-gas-deal-with-jordan/

What happened in the time between the Financial Times article on 21 Mai 2014, which reported that Israel was close to signing the agreements and the Haaretz article on 30 June, which reported the actual 30 billion dollar agreement between Egypt and Israel?

Well what happened is that Israel claimed that the 3 Israeli teenagers were abducted by Hamas on 12 June 2014, as you can read at the first line of the following Wikipedia link, in section “Immediate Events”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Israel%E2%80%93Gaza_conflict#Immediate_events

At the first paragraph of the following Wikipedia link, you can read that on 7 July 2014, one week after the agreement between Israel and Egypt, Hamas took responsibility for the teenagers’ abductions (I recall that Hamas denied any involvement in that affair) and at the same time it launched 40 rockets to Israel (in reaction to Israel bombing Gaza first)

One day later, on the 8 July 2014, the Israeli army entered Gaza.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Israel%E2%80%93Gaza_conflict

It is well known that Hamas is funded by Qatar. Hamas won the elections in 2006 by providing financial help to the people of Gaza. In a sense Qatar bought a military camp at the Israeli borders. Qatar is the 3rd richest country in the world in terms of proven natural gas reserves, after Russia and Iran, and could have easlily provided the natural gas to Egypt and Jordan instead.

One of the main reasons that Qatar funded and wholeheartedly supported  the Muslim Brootherhood candidate in Egypt, Muhammad Morsi, is that if Morsi was in power he would have never made a deal with Israel, since the Muslim Brotherhood is supported by Qatar.

At the following Wikipedia link, section ‘Aftermath’, 2-3 lines before the end of the section, where the consequences of the Arab Spring on the Egypt-Israel 1978 Peace Agreement are examined, you can read that the deputy chief of the Muslim Brotherhood said that the Brotherhood does not recognize Israel’s right to exist.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egypt%E2%80%93Israel_Peace_Treaty#Aftermath

At the following BBC article you can read how much Qatar supported the Muslim Brotherhood and its candidate Morsi. In the 6th and 7th paragraph you can read that Qatar did not give all that money for nothing, but instead to make sure that Egypt would buy natural gas from Qatar. I copy these two paragraphs.

“….But this was not a charitable giveaway. It was in the nature of an investment. A Qatari economist told the BBC: “We couldn’t stand by and let Egypt collapse”, but the billions came with an expectation – “I’ll give you the money, show me the outcome,” he said.

The Qataris had already secured a lucrative deal to sell their gas to the Egyptians and they were proposing to heavily invest in the redevelopment of the Suez Canal…”.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-23185441

Many socialists that are financed by Qatar say that the Brotherhood was democratically elected. As you can read in the 3rd paragraph of the following Wikipedia link, as soon as he was elected, Morsi started changing the law to rule as a dictator. I copy from the link.

“…As president, Morsi granted himself unlimited powers and the power to legislate without judicial oversight or review of his acts….”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohamed_Morsi

You can read at the following Haaretz article that the Israelis have agreed to sell to the Palestinian Authority in West Bank 1.2 billion dollar in natural gas.

But this is a small amount compared to the 45 billion dollar deals with Egypt and Jordan, and Qatar would have not probably minded.

As you can see the deal was singed in January 2014 and there was no war in Gaza. It was before the agreements with Egypt and Jordan that the war broke out. Nobody starts a war for 1.2 billion dollars.

http://www.haaretz.com/business/1.567216

“Down with this Classist Society”:

A Letter from Mahienour El-Masry

An Egyptian girl serving a 2-year prison sentence or allegedly organizing an unauthorized protest during the Khalid Said murder retrial.

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[Image originally posted to Flickr by Gigi Ibrahim.][Image originally posted to Flickr by Gigi Ibrahim.]

[The following is an English translation of a letter circulating in social media by Egyptian activist Mahienour El-Masry, who is currently serving a two-year prison sentence for allegedly organizing an unauthorized protest during the Khalid Said murder retrial. The letter was translated by Reem Abou-El-Fadl]

“I do not know much about what is going on outside, ever since the sentence against me was upheld. But I can imagine, based on what we used to do when one of our “circle” was imprisoned, that slogans of “freedom for X” and “freedom for the brave” and so on are now filling up cyberspace.

As for me, ever since I came to Damanhour Women’s Prison, and was placed with the prisoners of Ward 1 – relating to Public Funds Fraud – all I can repeat is “down with this classist order.”

Most of the prisoners in the ward with me are in jail because of IOUs they could not pay back, whether it was a woman buying furniture for her daughter’s marital home, a woman collecting funds for her husband’s medical treatment, or a woman who borrowed 2,000 pounds only to discover that she owes three million.

The ward itself is a small society: the rich get all they need, and the poor sell their labor while in prison.

The ward is a small society, in which the prisoners discuss current affairs in our country. Here I found women who support al-Sisi based on their belief that if he wins, he will grant amnesty to those imprisoned in IOU cases.

There are some who choose him because he will deal with terrorist demonstrations with an iron fist – that is, despite their sympathy for me and their feeling that I am probably innocent and wrongly imprisoned.

There are others who support Hamdeen (the challenging candidate in the Presidential election) because he is the son of the same earth, and because they believe that he promised to free the prisoners – only to be screamed at by the first camp, who insist that Hamdeen was referring only to political prisoners.

And there are still others who see the whole process as a farce, and say that if they had been abroad they would have boycotted the elections.

The ward is a small society. I feel that I am among my family – they all advise me to focus on my future prospects when I get out.

I tell them that the people deserve better, and that we have not yet attained justice, and that we will keep trying to build a better society.

Then I hear the news that Hosni Mubarak has been given three years in the presidential palaces case, and I laugh and tell them: obviously the regime believes that Um Ahmad, who has been in prison for 8 years and has six left, because of cheques whose value does not come to more than 50,000 pounds, is more dangerous than Mubarak. So what future prospects do you want me to look out for in an unjust society?

Mubarak, who supports al-Sisi, is seen by the prisoners as their saviour. But they still talk about social justice and the class society without trouble.

We must not forget our main goal in this battle of ours, in which we are losing our friends and comrades.

We must not turn into groups that call for the freedom of X, and forget the demands of the people, who need to eat.

Alongside chanting against the Protest Law, we must work to bring down the classist order, and organize ourselves, engage with the people, and talk about the rights of the poor and our solutions for them, and we must call for the freedom of the poor, so that people do not feel that we are distant from them.

Ultimately, if we have to raise the slogan “freedom for X,” then I say freedom for Sayyida, Hiba, and Fatma–three girls I met at the police station, accused of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, among other charges that can lead to death sentences. They were arrested randomly, and their detention has been renewed since January without them ever appearing in court.

Freedom for Um Ahmad who has not seen her children for eight years, and freedom for Um Dina, who is the breadwinner in her family, and freedom for Ne’ma, who accepted illegal means to feed her children.

Freedom for Farha, Wafaa’, Kawthar, Sanaa’, Dawlat, Samia, Iman, Amal and Mervat. Our pain is nothing in comparison to theirs.

We know that there is someone thinking of us, openly proud because they know us, whereas those who are proud to know them only speak about this in family gatherings.

So down with this classist society. We will not be able to achieve that unless we never forget the truly oppressed.

Mahienour El-Masry

Room 8 – Ward 1
Damanhour Prison
22 May 2014

 

 

Three girls in the nude at Egypt embassy in Paris: Demonstrating against the mass death penalty in a single session

Is Egypt on a steady course of self-destruction?

Khaled Fahmy published in Aswat Masriya  this April 29, 2014 :

About two years ago, I had a very interesting conversation with my neighbor who lives in the same apartment building in Zamalek, Cairo. I remembered this conversation today in light of the notorious verdict today by a judge in Minya sentencing 720 people to death.

My neighbor is a nice, decent man in his late sixties, and we have always had a cordial relationship with each other, despite once causing serious damage to his apartment when a water pipe burst in my apartment flooding his just below mine.

Relatives and families of members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Mursi react in front of the court in Minya, south of Cairo, after hearing the sentence handed to Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie and other Brotherhood supporters April 28, 2014. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

I was rushing to some demonstration against the ministry of interior to protest against the endemic use of torture in police stations. I had my kufiyya on (head gear), and was already waving the Egyptian flag. I ran into him on the landing on the third floor.

“I see you are going again to join the Tahrir Square crowd. Don’t you think it is enough?” he asked half-jokingly.

“Not enough,” I replied. “Nothing has changed since we started demonstrating a year ago, and the notorious police have yet to mend their ways.”

The minute I said this, the guy’s face changed, and I immediately realized my mistake. My neighbor is a retired police officer.

“You’re a good man, Dr. Khaled, but you are mistaken. The police are not that bad, we are all serving our country with our full hearts.”

“I have no doubt, sir. And of course, I have nothing but respect to you personally. But I am talking about those younger police officers who order people to be tortured as a matter of course, not even in political cases.”

“Well, let me ask you a question,” he said. “Don’t you remember when your own brother who used to live in your own apartment before you moved in – don’t you remember when his car was stolen right here from in front of the building?”

“Yes, I do remember that incident. What about it?” I replied.

“Do you remember when he got it back?”

“If I remember correctly, not before long.”

“Exactly,” he said. “And do you know how? I’ll tell you how. It is through the diligent work of the Egyptian police. Because your brother is a decent man like you, I immediately called some of my colleagues and they sprinted to action in no time, and in a matter of a few hours we managed to identify the culprit. We rounded up some suspects form the street, and encouraged them to confess in the police station,” he said with a twinkle in his eyes.

“But, sir,” I replied, “this is exactly what I am talking about. You rounded up 10 innocent suspects, beat the hell out of them in the police station, and one of them confessed under torture.”

“So? What’s the problem then? Didn’t your brother get his car back? And in no time? And didn’t we succeed in catching the real culprit? What’s the problem then?”

“Sir, with all due respect, this is not a proper way to conduct an investigation. Yes, my brother got his car back, but at what cost? The police come and picked up the ten car attendants and doormen of the neighboring buildings; they then took them to the police station where they were subjected to severe beating and humiliation; one of them eventually confessed. Case closed and my brother got back his car.

But what about the 9 innocent guys who were beaten up for no fault of their? How do you think my brother is supposed to feel when he now knows that he is being blamed by these innocent men for something they didn’t do? Yes, my brother got his car back, but he also got with it the enmity and deep resentment of nine innocent men. And I also know what happened to these men in police custody. They were being rounded up by some basha, beaten up for something they don’t know, and the only way they could get out of this mess was to promise to be a snitch.

And finally, what about the police officer who instead of conducting a proper investigation and applying what he is supposed to have learned in the police academy about criminal investigations, cuts corners, chooses the easy way out, and decides that the fastest way to resolve the case is by torturing innocent people? What kind of society is being created by resorting to torture so wantonly and so freely?”

“Oh, youth. Always idealistic and naïve.”

I didn’t want to tell him that I was nearly fifty, and that our disagreement had nothing to do with our respective ages.

Off I went to my demonstration, and he went to his apartment.

I remembered this conversation today in light of the notorious verdict issued by a judge in Minya.

I know it is tempting to read this verdict as a politicized one; a feature of the ongoing struggle between the military-led government and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The judge must have received a phone call ordering him to pass on this bizarre verdict sentencing to death 720 people in one day.

But I believe things are more complex – and more simple at the same time.

Like my police officer neighbor, I believe the judge to be a decent man. Honest, upright, and hard working. He must have sat pondering the case for hours yesterday. He believes he is protecting the country, defending basic rights, passing out heavy verdicts to people who deserve it.

The country is in turmoil, the judge must be thinking. We have to stop this. We have to defend our nation. We have to send a strong signal that we are serious, that we are not joking. The stability of the regime and of the whole country is at stake. No compromises. No mid-way solutions. Hanging is the only deterrence, and we should not hesitate in resorting to it.

Like my neighbor, however, this judge, even if I give him the benefit of the doubt (and I have bent over backwards to do so), is in fact undermining the stability of the country while thinking that he is doing the opposite.

The judge may be thinking that he is sending a clear message that the Egyptian state is not to be tampered with, that it will hit back hard and swiftly at those who dare to violate its sanctity. But the only thing he actually managed to accomplish is to erode whatever faith people still have in the judiciary.

How can anyone now believe in an independent judiciary when one judge passes these draconian verdicts with such speed in complete disregard to the most basic rules of justice?

These verdicts were passed without even allowing the lawyers to present their cases, and instead of pretending to do so, he actually fined the lawyers and charged them of contempt of court. Instead of being investigated or suspended, this judge is still sitting on the bench and passing one notorious verdict after another.

This is not only a travesty of justice.

It is not a violation of basic legal and constitutional rights.

It is a very reckless and dangerous political move. If there is a sure way to bring down the Egyptian state, it is not by attacking police stations or throwing Molotov cocktails at the presidential palace. It is by making sure that people lose whatever respect and confidence they still have in one of the main pillars of the regime, namely the judiciary.

More than any one else, this judge has had a huge contribution in undermining the stability of the Egyptian state.

* Khaled Fahmy is a professor and the chairman of the History department at the American University in Cairo. He studied Modern History at the University of Oxford and previously taught at New York University. 

Note: As soon I get a link of the nude girls in front  of Egypt embassy I’ll post it.

 

Thankless work of a ‘fixer’ Foreign journalist

Andrew Bossone, a contributing editor based in Beirut and Cairo for the mobile news organization Circa, published this April 30, 2014 

The best journalists in the Middle East are from the Middle East. Thanks for your continued great work Mohannad Sabry, Moe Ali, Nayel Nabih Bulos and for helping me get my first byline in the Columbia Journalism Review

The thankless work of a ‘fixer’ Foreign journalists know they’d be lost, or even dead, without the locals they hire, but do they give them credit back home?

Foreign journalists usually find fixers from colleagues in the area or through online forums and groups like Facebook’s “Vulture Club.” If a media outlet has a bureau, it often has on staff a salaried local journalist called a news assistant. In places where there is no bureau, it may have a stringer who receives a monthly retainer to be on call and feed news regularly. Fixers, by contrast, tend to be employed ad hoc.

I first met Mohannad Sabry in 2005, when I arrived in Egypt for an unpaid internship with The Associated Press. We became fast friends through my roommates, and he joined me in Alexandria on a reporting trip to cover parliamentary elections.

I knew little about Egypt and its players at the time, and since I couldn’t put together a sentence in Arabic, he went with me even though I couldn’t afford to pay him.

Only because of Sabry skills and knowledge was I able to report from inside a polling station and at the office of the Muslim Brotherhood. It was the first of many times I received invaluable help and insight from fixers, the resourceful, well-informed locals who assist foreign correspondents. Most in this region are fluent in Arabic and many are aspiring journalists.

In Egypt they command roughly $50 to $250 per day, depending on whether big news is raising demand. A fixer’s day may include monitoring local outlets and Twitter and writing up a news brief, arranging logistics, securing and translating interviews but also conducting them, and providing background.

In the Middle East, fixers are essentially journalists but, all too often, they receive little or no recognition, even when they are entirely responsible for the scoops credited to their foreign peers. These people are not mere translators who provide a service in exchange for payment.

Our work—and, on occasion, our safety—depends on them. I moved to Beirut in late 2010 to gain experience outside Egypt, but four months later the Egyptian revolution started. I landed in Cairo on January 28, 2011—the “Friday of Rage.”

Internet service and telephone lines were cut across the country. When service was partially restored the next day, I called Mohannad to meet for coffee. The second night of curfew was approaching. We left for a friend’s apartment to spend the night. We stopped for food along the way, but forgot tea to keep us awake, and garlic and onions for the dish we were preparing—molokheya, an Egyptian specialty.

So Mohannad and I headed back to the street near the start of curfew. Vegetable sellers were rushing to restock their shops and close for the night. As we left a shop, goods in hand, a young policeman stood in our path. He cocked his shotgun and shouted at us. “We just want to pass!” Mohannad said. “We just want to go home!” “Which way?” the policeman asked. “Straight ahead,” Mohannad answered, pointing toward the apartment. “Run. If you go left or right, I’ll shoot you.” We ran.

Mohannad told me to go straight. I followed him. Although I had studied Arabic, the fact that I didn’t fully understand the officer’s orders reinforced for me just how essential fluent Arabic is. The influx of print and broadcast journalists into Egypt during the revolution provided work for a lot of fixers.

McClatchy hired Mohannad as a news assistant. Soon he was getting bylines and managing the Cairo bureau while the correspondent was reporting elsewhere. But when another correspondent came in to run the bureau, it was clear Mohannad couldn’t advance further. “I’ve seen a lot of local correspondents who are more worthy of having a foreign correspondent position than a lot of foreign correspondents covering their country,” Mohannad said. “What you need is someone who knows the country’s politics, knows the country’s history, knows the country’s geography . . .

This is something that’s pretty impossible for someone who doesn’t speak the language.” While at McClatchy, Mohannad received a reporting fellowship from the news website GlobalPost for a project to pair and train young foreign and local journalists around the world. It began in Egypt, and Mohannad was chosen as the managing editor. When mass protests led to the military’s ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, longtime foreign correspondent and GlobalPost co-founder Charles Sennott turned to Mohannad to report with him for a GlobalPost-PBS Frontline segment.

“I never could have accomplished my work [around the world] without the help of a colleague—a journalist—who is local and who speaks the language fluently and can work with me and understands how we as journalists work,” Sennott said. “Those people are sometimes called ‘fixers,’ and I put that word in quotes, because it’s not a word I like. They do so much more than fix things. They make it happen.”

Mohannad introduced me to another Egyptian fixer in Cairo, Merna Thomas. As she described her work, I was surprised that she didn’t consider herself a journalist. Like other fixers interviewed for this piece, she suggests how to get stories done, lines up sources and conducts interviews independently.

Basically, Merna does everything short of writings articles. It’s not as if she couldn’t write, though; she was an English major in college. She says she fell into journalism by chance. Yet on her first assignment she landed difficult-to-get sources, like Bassem Youssef-often referred to as the “Egyptian Jon Stewart”-early in his TV career, as well as a member of the “Black Bloc” protesters who disguised themselves in black and were often on the front lines of clashes with police.

“A lot of times, what a journalist can or cannot get depends on a fixer’s personal relationship with these people,” Merna said. “I have interviewed a lot of people who don’t normally give interviews except that they know me and they respect me.” In two years of working with journalists, Merna has received credit in print just twice. She doesn’t ask for recognition, but some journalists have misled her into thinking their outlets don’t give credit to fixers.

Amelia Newcomb, the foreign editor of the Christian Science Monitor, where Merna’s work has appeared, told me it is absolutely not the policy of the paper to exclude credit for fixers. “We leave it up to the reporter,” she said.

Of the outlets I contacted—the Monitor, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Guardian—none have an official policy on naming local journalists who work with correspondents. Some are more fastidious than others.

The Guardian said credit is given when “people have contributed to the journalism,” but did not specify what qualifies as contribution. The Times and the Post provide credit to fixers when it’s determined they have made a “significant” contribution to the story. Tasks like logistics and basic translation do not warrant a contributor line.

Both the Times correspondent in Beirut, Anne Barnard, and the Post’s foreign editor, Doug Jehl, said the work of fixers is essential, and that they deserve credit for it. “Foreign correspondents have always relied heavily on local staffers to help with translation, navigation, sourcing and reporting,” Jehl said. “Until recently, those local staffers’ contributions often remained invisible; now, in order to be more transparent with our readers, we tend to recognize those contributions.”

Naming contributors is a positive step for transparency.

But it leads you to the next question: Why shouldn’t the very best fixers and news assistants be correspondents themselves?

“If I went to the United States I wouldn’t get hired if I didn’t speak the language,” said Moe Ali Nayel, a freelance journalist and fixer in Beirut. “Why is it the other way around [in the Mideast]? Why do journalists get sent to this part of the world when they don’t speak the language?”

Moe lived in the US for six years before returning home to Lebanon. He said that Americans’ lack of knowledge about the Middle East motivated him to become a journalist. Although he still works as a fixer, Moe has become an outspoken critic of foreign journalists. After one too many dealings with correspondents who he says mischaracterized context and people or outright distorted facts, he wrote a searing piece on his blog in 2010.

Moe admits that fixers who are less than scrupulous sometimes mislead journalists, but says ultimately the facts and ethics of journalism are the responsibility of those who put their names on stories. The fixers’ worst horror stories involve journalists on temporary assignment.

Merna said she has worked with many who come unprepared. Another fixer in Cairo told me that one journalist arrived asking to interview “Banna,” or Hassan Al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood—who died in 1949.

Nabih Bulos, who reports for the Los Angeles Times, said a writer told him she was coming to report on Beirut’s alternative arts scene. When they met, she said she also wanted to visit the “opium fields of Hezbollah.” “It’s frightening,” he said. Let me be clear. Many foreign correspondents in the Mideast are performing superbly. (The ones who come most readily to mind, not coincidentally, speak fluent Arabic.)

Too often, though, news organizations are sending reporters who lack expertise. As I look at the fixers who call the Mideast home and are among the best journalists here, I couldn’t complain if I were replaced by one of them.

Says Mohannad, “If you give them the credit they deserve, give them the training that you owe them and endorse them, you will be building fantastic journalists and correspondents that would one day write stories that will win the world’s elite awards.”

Arwa Gaballa commented on FB:
A few months ago, I was fixing for a big-name journalist at a big-name newspaper. I got the journalist an interview with a minister, which of course he didn’t appreciate because he thinks ministers in Egypt just gladly agree to host journalists at their officers for hours. He couldn’t imagine just who I had to know/call to make that happen.
Anyway, we get there, and he starts asking his embarrassing (that’s the politest description I could think of) questions, including whether said minister thinks Sisi is doing a good job as a president! The minister stared at me in confusion as he explained to him that Sisi wasn’t president yet!
I had prepared a list of questions for him, but he dismissed it (after asking for it) and went with his own. The supposed-to-be journalist staying at the 5-star hotel and getting paid in dollars while I get paid pennies was incompetent and awkwardly ignorant of Middle East affairs and politics.
At the end, I got zero recognition of course, even though, like many fixers here tend to do, I conducted some of the interviews.

Bossone Twitter handle is @abossone – See more at: http://www.cjr.org/reports/the_thankless_work_of_a_fixer.php?page=all#sthash.d5yAfJUY.dpuf


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