Miss Mabrouk of Egypt

Check the archives too - a lot of good stuff to enjoy. Me myself? Off to new adventures in the blogosphere, if time permits.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Postcard From Paris

How Could They?

Surely, rioting McDonald's is punishable by international law? picture via LGF

The Election

I am not sure I want to blog the current elections to the parliament... well maybe I do, if there are any good news about it. Meanwhile, let me just sum it up with this one quote, from a leading member of the ruling party's policies secretariat, in the Guardian:

"Mr Mubarak now saw political reform as his 'legacy', he added.

Yet few in the opposition see the election in the same terms."

57+ Dead, Says Programmer Craig

Frequent commenter Programmer Craig left this message to my Amman-Explosion post:

57 dead now, according to the latest news reports. 2 car bombs and 1 suicide bomb, orchestrated to go off at the same time. So, there's some kind of organization behind it. Supposedly, there is a "manhunt" underway for suspected conspirators right now. But with 64% of Jordanians polled supporting terrorist bombings, I fear they could find suspects by picking people out of any crowd at random :\

More Information on Abdolkarim

More information via Global Voices and Alaa - follow those two links for the full text; the information is from the HR lawyer and bloggers in Alexandria who are following the case of Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman.

Repeated attempts by family members and Alexandrian human rights lawyer Mohammed Khaled Al-Tunsi to get more information on Suleiman’s case from Alexandria Security have met with no success.

On Nov. 6, security agents returned to Suleiman’s house and told his family that he was being held in an unspecified detention center for political prisoners. They did not specify on what charges he was being held. … Since Security agents visited the Suleiman house a second time, the Suleiman family has been less willing to talk about the case. …

Suleiman is either unlawfully detained or has been detained under the Emergency Law. …

Alexandria Security now has two options: They can either detain Suleiman under the provisions of the Emergency Law that allow detention without charge of individuals deemed to be a threat to public order, or they can charge him with defaming religion or exciting sectarian strife … [which] allows for sentences of between six months and five years or fines of between LE500 and LE1000 …

Suleiman’s defenders grant that his October 22 post held Islam in contempt and, given the background of sectarian strife in Alexandria, could be read as “prejudicing national unity and social strife.”

The latter option would play better in Egypt, where the Emergency Law is unpopular and Islam is popular, but would risk turning him into a cause celebre abroad, particularly among religious conservatives in the United States.

Detaining Abd al-Karim under the terms of the Emergency Law carries its own risks: In his campaign for reelection this summer, President Hosni Mubarak promised to suspend the Emergency Law in favor of a counterterrorism law and to pass legislation reinforcing citizens’ right to a fair and speedy trail. Invoking the Emergency Law, particularly in such a high-profile case so soon after the election, would give lie to these promises of reform and would also surely raise eyebrows abroad.

Nowhere did Suleiman call for violence against Muslims. Nor did any such violence follow his post. There is little to suggest that his blog was widely read in Muharram Bek, a working-class neighborhood where economic constraints make Internet use rare. Suleiman himself does not own a computer and maintained his blog from a local Internet cafe. Suleiman was not responsible for the violence in his neighborhood, nor will his detention solve the problems that led to it.

The question of the legality of Suleiman’s detention aside, Egyptian officials conducting a cost-benefit analysis of Suleiman’s continued detention must conclude that it’s not worth it. His detention has already attracted significant attention from local and international human rights groups and media. Particularly on the eve of the World Summit on the Information Society, where Egypt has the opportunity to present itself as a regional leader in attempts to foster an information society, Suleiman’s case has the potential to cause more trouble for the government than it’s worth.

Alaa: Bloggers Should Support Karim's Release

Blogger Alaa wrote a very important message on Monday. The full text is here. Alaa says his post is coming late. I say it can never be late and we all know that while the rest of us are busy blogging, his efforts are not limited to the net; he is actually doing something in the real world. I’ll post a few more comments from him soon; here is a bridged version of this message, don't miss the bullet points!:

... when I got to read his article which (probably) got him arrested, I felt disgusted and I almost puked before finishing it off. ... Karim's article about Moharem Bek protests was a childish anger outburst that lacked both civility and meaning, just like the incident itself. Which makes me wonder how it qualified as a civic dialogue, which is the name of the website that posted this article. Also Karim paid the price of being bravely stupid by posting his picture, address, cellular number on the same website. ...

... the Freedom of speech is a non-compromiseable and undisputed right. Everybody is allowed to say whatever he wants and at the same time he/she should take full responsibility for his words. For example, if the speech was found hate inciting, people or organizations have the right to react and sue his ass or just refute it in another article. But this kind of "Moral Panics" that hits the government every time something out of the usual happens in this country is unacceptable. This Gestapo style of the government enforcers held in the name of the "Emergency Laws" should stop right now.

... Bottom-line, this guy disrespects Muslims by generalizing them in this way. He cussed Islam and the Prophet and he also described us as "cattle". Thus Muslims have every right to feel angry and despised. But there are civilized ways ... through refuting his posts or by civil suits and for the religious ones by privately praying for either his "salvation" or his burning in hell.

BUT no one deserves what happened to this guy, although we are not sure what really happened to him but anything that involves amn el-dawla is far away from good. And you can trust me on that, judging from my own personal experience with these thugs at a very young age. They are merciless even with kids.

So, leaving our emotions behind, let me sum up to you why we should support Karim in his ordeal, in the following points:

* Freedom of Speech right is non-compromiseable... it's all or nothing but all.

* Only civic ways should be used to hold him liable to his words, if it was categorized as a hate speech. Also if he really pissed you off by his words, you have the choice to tell him that through comments and emails or simply click the X in the top right corner of your browser like I did!

* National Security methods of arresting and interrogations are barbaric. Karim's next 15 days (the interrogation detention period which is renewable) are going to be intolerable to any human.

* This angry guy is only 21 years old.

* Don't create an anti-Islamic martyr out of him, just like our stupid government did. The Islamophobes just love this kind of stuff and they are just waiting for such an opportunity.

[Edits and bolds are my responsibility - original, full text is here.]

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Update, Detained Blogger Abdolkarim

Sabertooth at the Tar Pit blog is working very hard to raise awareness about the detained blogger Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman. He is encouraging congressmen who are due to have a press conference about Egypts Coptic Christians to raise the issue of Abdolkarim. Read his round-up.

53 Dead in Amman Suicide Attacks

Head for the news channels.

Sabbah blogged the first announcement from Jordanian TV. He is posting updates at Global Voices.

Yahoo! has about 25 pictures so far.

Roba is blogging as well.

Follow the aggregator, Jordan Planet, to see what the Jordanian bloggers are saying.

God Bless

PS: just returned, will probably be back to blogging late tomorrow.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Holiday Note: Barbie Wears the Hijab

Jordanian blogger Sabri Hakim says this picture is from a coloring book. I love it as well, Sabri!

I'm rushing to the train for a few days outside Cairo.

Meanwhile, if you want to make sense of what's going on in the world, head to The Anchoress who always manages to tell right from wrong and open my eyes to things I had not seen before.

Abdolkarim: Alaa is tireless in his efforts to make sure everybody knows what is going on and that the information is correct; follow his blog and notice that he also dropped a few links in the comment forum to my previous post; a statement by a HR NGO and a message from Arabic blogger Malcolmix.

The more people who spread the word to the world, the better. Big Pharaoh and Sandmonkey will also let you know what they think about the situation, as will tons of other bloggers; follow the links in my previous posts; track it via technorati and you'll be amazed to see how much has been said already - although it is only the beginning. Keep also an eye on Mr Ghost and Fayrouz, like most on my blogroll they have a lot to say.

That's it, gotta run, see ya in a few days. / ritzy

Abdolkarim: Push the Petition!

So far the petition to free Egyptian blogger Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman has received 89 signatures. Please sign. Please forward the link to your friends and everybody else. Here is the link.

More information at the Committee to Protect Bloggers. Updates, more information and banners at Manalaa's blog.

My previous posts here and here. Also keep an eye on the CPB box in my sidebar - there are more bloggers in trouble and other petitions you can sign when you're at it. Link to CPB here.

Technorati tag: , ,

Viral Hanky Panky

Evolution or intelligent design? Darwin against God? The current debate in the U.S. is bizarre: why would you not teach science and be able to introduce the opposing theories at the same time? I thought learning was about realizing how little we actually know. Is not Plato speaking to American educators any longer?

Here is someone else they should listen to since we perhaps are up for a nasty demonstration of evolution in action. “Spare a thought for H5N1, the virus causing avian flu,” evolutional biologist Olivia Judson is writing.
The virus might infect someone already sick with a strain of human flu, and the two viruses could have sex, thus creating a new virus that contains some genes from each. Such viral hanky-panky is thought to have led to the flu pandemics of 1957 and 1968.

Or the virus could mutate in such a way that it becomes able to travel between people. Mutations to an avian flu virus are thought to lie behind the 1918 pandemic.
Sex and mutation are two fundamental mechanisms of evolutionary invention. Mutations alter the information content of genes; sex shuffles the pack, generating new gene combinations. ... Now that we can sequence genes and genomes, we know precisely how evolutionary changes accumulate. We know the differences between a fruit fly and a mosquito, between a human and a chimpanzee, between a virus that kills chickens and a virus that kills people. ...

Whether it's preventing a flu pandemic or tackling malaria, we can use our knowledge of evolutionary processes in powerful and practical ways, potentially saving the lives of tens of millions of people. So let's not strip evolution from the textbooks, or banish it from the class, or replace it with ideologies born of wishful thinking. If we do, we might find ourselves facing the consequences of natural selection.
- IHT 

Death on the Nile, 4,000 Years Ago

The story of a mysterious massacre in the royal city of Mendes in the Nile delta area is being unearthed by archaeologists who were stunned to find some 36 bodies in a mass grave under a temple.
They found old and young, men and women, tumbled in disordered heaps. In a civilization that made a cult of death, such discoveries are rare: even the poorest were interred formally, and with some provision for the afterlife.
It is an astonishing discovery; the arid climate in Egypt helps in preservation but this part of the country has been inundated by the Nile every year, at times for up to ten months of the year. Archaeologists say the bodies “are virtual powder in the mud.”

The cause of death is not known but researchers have established that the victims were killed elsewhere and “thrown in front of the podium.”  - The Guardian.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Cruising Britons Banged, Blew Scary Pirates

A luxury cruise ship on its way from Alexandria, Egypt to Mombassa, Kenya was attacked by sea-pirates with rocket grenades as it rounded the Horn of Africa. The Bahamas-registered ship with 302 passengers and crew defended itself with a large bang: a sonic blaster developed by American forces sent out high-powered air vibrations that blew the assilants off their feet.

- Times.

Voting with New Shoes

"New shoes or otherwise, petty political paybacks are quite commonplace in this district. “Nour spoiled many young men in Bab Al Shaariya by giving them a monthly salary just in exchange for supporting him,” Shami adds. He also showed Cairo a pile of job applications that the NDP candidate had collected from supporters. The applications had been passed on to the Minister of Finance, Youssef Boutros Ghali, and at the bottom of each was a written confirmation that the applicants had been hired in a tax agency."

- Cairo Magazine.

Saddam in Exile

Did Saddam Hussein agree to give up power and leave Iraq to avert the war? Not a chance; he and those around him would never give up any privileges; therefore, how would he be willing to give up power? “All that is said about the former Iraqi president's willingness to give up power in the early nineties is merely part of the sly attempt to improve his reputation.” – Ahmed Al-Rabei.

KSA to Bulldoze Mohammed's House in Mecca

The House of Saud is to tear down the House of the Prophet Mohammed in Mecca. The 1,400 old house is to give space for a parking lot, hotels and luxury apartments. Should we be surprised? It is said that in the last two decades, 95 per cent of Mecca’s 1,000-year-old buildings have been demolished. The big surprise is that no Muslim leaders or nations are protesting. Read more at Sabbah's Blog.

The Danes Just Don’t Get It

I still think the editor of the Danish paper who published cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed (insert blessing) should apologize to his Muslim readers. See, it is a major sin to portray the Prophet. Your legal right to do it doesn’t make it less sinful; in the eyes of the believers it will always be a major offence. You ought to respect that. In return, you can ask the Muslim community to respect your values and traditions. That way, everybody can live happily together.

The Danish PM is right in that there is nothing he can do – legally. But refusing to see ambassadors from eleven Arab states is a major snub. Recognizing that the paper has stepped on some peoples’ most sacred value would have been a gentleman’s move. A modest acknowledgement that what is right often depends on where you are standing. To challenge other people's conception of what is right and wrong is healthy. But there are better ways of doing it than throwing crap in someone's face. The Danes won't get it, but in the eyes of the believers, that is precisely what they have done.

Police Hospitality

According to the information the CPB has received from the EIPR, “Human Rights activists in Egypt think that by detaining Abdolkarim, State Security is protecting itself from the results of whatever trouble he may find himself in by clashing with the Islamist Fundamentalists in his neighborhood.”

How noble of them. I can’t wait for the day when they drag me out of my bed at 3 a.m. and lock me up in an unknown location for as long as they please. Hearing that it is in my own interest to be kept away from the dangerous streets will be the additional spoon of sugar in the tea I didn’t ask for but cannot refuse.

Abdolkarim is Not Coming Out This Year

The good news is that Abdolkarim’s brother has spoken to the police who now have confirmed that the 21 year old blogger in fact is currently being detained. It is not clear in which detention centre he is held.

The bad news is that Abdolkarim is not coming out this year. That’s according to Human Rights activists who also said the best chance for Abdolkarim is to get him out of the ‘emergency-law’ detention and into a court to be tried for religious contempt. That would give him a sentence of between six months and five years; his young age and the recent sectarian strife in his neighborhood will hopefully result in a short sentence.

Via the Committee to Protect Bloggers, The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

Detained: Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman. Sign the petition.

Sign the Petition for Abdolkarim

The Committee to Protect Bloggers is asking you to sign the petition for Abdolkarim, the blogger who was detained last week. It takes 30 seconds and the petition will be delivered to Egypt's government. Please forward this link!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Egyptian Missions Abroad - the list

Egypt's ministry of foreign affairs has an extensive list of its missions abroad; many entries include e-mail addresses. There is also a list of foreign missions in Egypt. This site and this site may provide some useful links as well.

Traffic Signs for Dumbasses

Child abductor crossing proceed with caution. This one is usually found near school yards or playgrounds. Keep your eyes open for dirty old men in Sponge Bob or Pokemon shirts handing out candy bars.

Sperm Crossing.

-More at the Phat Phree

Has Europe Escaped a Major Terror Attack?

It seems so, says Judith at the History News Network:
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s terrorism experts note that this is he first time Western intelligence agencies have picked up the trail of an al Qaeda network weeks before it goes into action. And for the first time, they had a chance to get a close look at a complete network and study its methods of operation before it scattered to the four winds after an attack.

The key discovery, which confirms the findings from the March 2004 railway bombings in Madrid and the July 7 London blasts, was that al Qaeda’s rings do not depend on local Muslim radicals but are a calculated mix of local collaborators and Muslim operatives from other countries. They are brought together and remotely controlled by a distant coordinating headquarters.

It also emerged from interrogating the suspects that although active members of the network, they were given only code names for reaching their operational superiors, the faceless operatives who determined targets, supplied weapons, explosives and cash, organized exit points for the mission-bearers and escape routes for accomplices. Therefore, apprehending terrorist network members or even accomplices of the New York, Spain, Istanbul, London and Sharm el-Sheikh attacks led investigations nowhere.

Instead of securing leads to the elusive masterminds of those atrocities, they found themselves clutching at thin air and forced to accept that those men remain out of reach in deep shadow.

Paris is Burning...

...Welcome to Hell says Mr. Ghost at the Iraqi Bloggers Central: "Paris is burning, soon the rest of France could be. Let's hope they take action soon, before we have to send in American Troops to rescue the Stinky Cheese Eaters again."

"I'm more concerned for Lancome products. I can't live without them," says Fayrouz.

Cartoons Causes Egypt-Denmark Crisis

Egypt is closing its dialogue with Denmark on Human Rights and discrimination because of a dispute over cartoons portraying the Prophet Mohamed that was published by a newspaper last month.

The diplomatic snub comes after the Danish prime minister refused to meet Egypt’s ambassador, along with ten other ambassadors from Muslim states. The PM said that if they thought he had any power to influence what a national newspaper did and printed, the essence of Danish democracy had been lost on them.

Egypt’s Embassy Councilor said that “the case no longer rests with the embassy. It is now being treated at an international level. As far as I have been informed by my government, the cartoon case has already been placed on the agenda for the Islamic Conference Organization’s extraordinary summit in the beginning of December.” h/t: Dhimmi Watch

Here is how it started.

Abdolkarim: Useful Addresses

Via comments on this and Big Pharaoh’s site; Olive Branch and Iraq Blog Count, some useful addresses if you want to inquire about the detained blogger Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman’s fate:

Egypt’s Embassy in Washington D.C.: embassy@egyptembdc.org
Egypt in the UN: egypt@un.int
Australia: consular@egypt.org , auinfo@egypt.org.au
Jordan: egypt@embegyptjordan.com
Canada: cetech@cetech.ca
The US Consulate in Cairo: ConsularCairo@state.gov
Fax, telephone to Egypt’s Embassy in the US and Canada.

Read about the detention of Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman here (loads of links provided).

Democracy Promotion

Shadi Hamid is guest blogging about Egypt's election and the shaping of U.S. foreign policy at Democracy Arsenal. The "emerging consensus" on democracy promotion is that Islamist groups must be included in the political process. Fine. Democracy may not come by itself but it aint rocket science either - most people can understand the basic principles. A good starting point is Alexis de Tocqueville. From there on, any library has miles of literature on theories of democracy. And that’s in addition to tons of books on comparative politics; a treasure to those interested in all other countries experience of democracy. It is not the theory that has to be changed, it is those who are about to practice it.

Dubious Democracy on the Nile

Hala Mustafa, editor of Al-Ahram's quarterly journal al-Dimuqratia (Democracy) is writing in the WP:
Unfortunately, it is difficult to believe that the elections will lead to substantial change in Egypt's political system, regardless of whether they meet international standards. Although clean elections are a necessary component of democracy, in Egypt they cannot -- and will not -- guarantee reforms.

The political domination of Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) extends to the security services, government bureaucracy and national media. In fact, the security establishment is deeply involved in the selection of parliamentary candidates. Accountable political parties are suppressed, so that there appears to be no political alternative except the Islamist movement.

Debate on reform in Egypt must look beyond elections, which can be expected to reflect that status quo. Change must take place through constitutional reform that will restructure political life to allow new and dynamic parties to compete with Mubarak's NDP. Egypt also needs more civil freedoms, more rights for women and minorities and a reshaping of the political elite to include a greater diversity of voices.

Welcome, Instapundit Readers

Many thanks to Glenn Reynolds as well as Charles at LGF who are the only power bloggers that so far has given the story of our Egyptian blogger in trouble the attention it deserves. It is the first time Egypt's security is clamping down on a blogger. Although MSM is censored, we bloggers have enjoyed more freedom than our neighbours in other Middle Eastern countries. This blow will make many bloggers think hard before they publish anything about politics or religion again - and this at a time when there is only four days left to the parliamentary elections. It is just past midnight here in Cairo so I do not expect any further information about Abdolkarim's fate at the moment. Please trust that I - and many other - will do our best to keep you updated tomorrow and in the following days or weeks.

You can help Abdolkarim by forwarding this story to your friends and other bloggers; the e-mail envelope icon at the bottom right of the post may be useful. You can bookmark the page with my update on Abdolkarim on Del.icio.us and Furl. You can write to the Egyptian embassy in your home country and ask them to guarantee Abdolkarim's freedom and safety. You can also participate in the discussions; in addition to this space is Alaa's comment forum where not everybody at the moment feel Abdolkarim deserve our support - your input is needed, the link is in the blog entry below. Alaa’s bi-lingual site also has the html code for the Free Karim banners; look in the comment section for current links to the English version (like this) or copy the link from the banner in my sidebar.

Thanks for coming around and your support – I’ll be back in the morning!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Anti-Islamic Blogger Detained, Missing

The whereabouts of blogger Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman who was abducted from his home by Egyptian state security on Wednesday Oct. 26 is still not known. The police refused to answer questions by AP, the first wire to run the story. The last report about his whereabouts said he was on his way to an unknown detention center.

It was 3 a.m. when seven police officers took the 21 year old blogger away from his family home in Alexandria. His mother, Yousseira, says the house was searched; books and copies of Seliman’s writings were confiscated.

His friends and family says Seliman was targeting radical Islam in his writings, despite his strong connections to the Muslim community. Seliman is a student of law at Al-Azhar, the world’s highest seat of learning for Sunni Muslims. His pious Muslim family had returned from a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca just days before his arrests

"He is stubborn, he has ideas that contradict the true religion and he posts that on the Internet, serving no one but himself,” Seliman’s mother said.

Another blogger who closely followed Seliman’s detention says it is the fundamentalist Islamic Salafi movement that is behind the arrest. The blogger, Malik Moustafa, said Seliman recently had accused the Salafis of inciting the latest sectarian tensions in his neighbourhood of Mouharm Bay.

Three days before he was detained, Seliman had posted an article to his blog commenting on the violent riots that erupted when security forces clashed with thousands of angry Muslims in front of a Coptic Christian church. Four Muslims died and hundreds of people were injured during the clashes. Christians fled the area or avoided to leave their houses.

Seliman is also a correspondent for Copts United and is also writing for Civic Dialogue and his own blog (Arabic). His hard-language criticism of the Islamist’s has led other bloggers to speculate if he is a convert to Christianity. Many says Seliman’s writing is so radical and offensive that he doesn’t deserve the support of the bloggers who are spreading the words about the detention, the first security clamp-down on a blogger in the country.

Blogger Baheyya who was one of the first to alert the blogsphere about the detention of Seliman said such discussions are counterproductive and that it is much more important now to monitor the situation closely and work to obtain concrete information from State Security. (I have quoted Baheyya here). Alaa and Manal are maintaining a discussion forum about Abdolkarim where they are also posting news and html code for the ‘Free Karim’ banners we urge everybody to display on their blogs.

Since Seliman was detained by the security agency Amn al-Dawla, few believe he will see daylight during the next fourteen days or that he even will be put before the state prosecutor or be given any chances to defend himself or receive assistance.

Bloggers Amr, Tarek and Big Pharaoh are also defending Abdolkarim Seliman’s right of free speech. The Committee to Protect Bloggers has contacted several hundred media outlets.

Update 10 p.m.: CPB is posting news here. Read also the article by Global Voices, it has additional information and links.

My previous posts are here and here. Read about the sectarian tension in Alexandria here.

I have used information from AP for this write-up. Jerusalem Post and a couple of other media have already published brief stories about the detention of Seliman.

Technorati tag:

Killing the Reef to Save the Reef

A French diver convinced Hurghada's government, diving community and environmental organizations that he could protect and replace coral reefs damaged by pollution and careless divers. He did more harm than good. Marine biologist have concluded that 500 colonies of reef where cut and misplaced. Half of the transplanted coral colonies had died upon removal. So who is this man? An experienced diver with good intentions, Alain Deguine was backed by French marine biologists, conservationists, university professors and several volunteers from Deguine’s organization in France, Compagnons des Mers (Friends of the Sea), who lent their services to the project. Now, he is wanted by the Egyptian authorities. The national park rangers have fined him $62,300. But he is hardly coming back to Egypt, neither will the government bother to request his extradition.

Coupling Fossils

This was no one-night stand. Scientists in India say they have discovered two fossils fused together in sexual union for 65 million years. Link.

Michael Moore owns Halliburton

He said he doesn't own a single share of stock. He is right. He owns tens of thousands of shares, including 2,000 shares of Boeing and more than 2,000 of Halliburton - the company most vilified in 'Fahrenheit 9/11. Hypocrite!!

Noam Chomsky who is calling America a police state and Pentagon "the most hideous institution on earth" did not hesitate to let the U.S. military pay for his entire academic career. Hypocrite!!

Barbara Streisand is an environmentalist who drives a SUV and lives in a mansion with a $22,000 water bill. In the past, she has driven to appointments in a motor home because of her aversion to using public bathrooms. Hypocrite!!

- Source: WorldNetDaily.

The Ghost City of Cyprus

Michael J. Totten took his camera with him and entered the off-limit city of Varosha, "The Ghost City of Cyprus," that stands, unhabitated, the way it was left when the Turkish military invaded the island in 1974. From the beach, he snaps the city without people before the army is chasing him away.

Rommel Goes On the Run at El Alamein

On this day, 4 Nov. 1942:: The German army in North Africa is in full retreat, after suffering a comprehensive defeat in Egypt at the hands of the 8th Army under General Bernard Montgomery. It is also the day in history when the US embassy in Tehran was taken by militants (1979) and Ronald Reagan beat Carter in a landslide victory (1980).

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Manalaa Make it to Top 100

At 23:19 pm Cairo time (two hours ahead of GMT), Manal and Alaa's bit bucket post 'Egyptian Blogger taken in Detention' was one of the 100 most linked to sites in the BlogsNow index of most linked to in 14,196,168 weblogs. At the time of writing, the Manalaa's position is number 81, with 14 links in the past seven hours. It is great to see that an Egyptian voice is heard, especially when it is such an urgent matter. Link them up, let the world see that we have a blogger in trouble.

Welcome Also

Friends of Dr. Sanity are also very welcome to the Egyptian blogsphere as hosted by Miss Mabrouk! Current challenges to our sanity is an imprisoned Egyptian blogger; imprisoned and harrassed opposition candidates; sectarian trouble in the ancient city of learning, Alexandria; a troubled border to Gaza; global bird-flu scare. And of course, what to do now when Ramadan is over and the Eid holiday just has started! Enjoy yourself and please let me know what's on your mind.

There is no justification for the oppression of human beings by other human beings, let alone under the name of god. Human wisdom and passion has excelled to a level to create laws in protection of our environment and its inhabitants. It is unconscionable to accept the extreme gender inequality, which in many areas reaches the extent of gender apartheid, to be tolerated as traditional norms of life. As my sisters and their daughters demanded in their courageous gathering outside the Tehran University’s main gate on March 08, 2005; women’s rights IS human rights, women’s freedom is equality for everyone.

- By Amir Normandi

More pictures below here and here, and at Iranian.com here.

Clear Voter Boxes

Transparent elections have arrived in Egypt with the introduction of transparent election boxes, I blogged with sarcasm on Tuesday – check the picture. This report is quoting the officials who introduced it as well as monitoring committees who says it is one step forward but not enough. The elections to the Peoples Assembly begin on November 9. If you want to know how the recent presidential election was handled, see my Election Irregularities Report and this addition.

Egyptian Blogger in Jail

An Egyptian blogger was taken from his home by security forces on Wednesday Oct. 26. This is an update to my 4:07 pm post:

Big Pharaoh says at 6:43 pm: "Abdulkarim apparently comes from a Muslim background (he has a Muslim name) yet his writings contains remarks that attack Islam. His writings drew many negative comments on his blog.Abdolkarim could be a convert to Christianity or someone who left the Muslim faith, and I was stunned when I saw that he posted his picture on his blog. Anyway, he will be in a very serious situation if a case was levied against him. If sent to court, the charge of "izderaa el adyaan" or "blaspheming religion" can be applied leading to his imprisonment."

Tarek says at 17:57 pm in Manalaa's forum: "ِLike most of you I totally disagree with Abdulkareem's writings, but I still cannot find any reason for arresting someone for what he says or writes. And for those who think that he should be arrested for offending Islam, I belive that arresting him is more offending to Islam. Because by arresting him you are just telling everyone that Islam is in a real danger because if a couple of blog posts. And if you agree today on arresting someone for offending Islam, then you will be forvced to agree on arresting others for defending Islam tomorrow. One more thing to know well is that Islam is great enough not to need any security forces to defend it."

Technorati tag: (Seems they have several hours delay now but I encourage everybody to keep using this tag to make it easier for us all to track the issues development).

Update, Banners: Release Karim banners can be found here. They are available in English and Arabic. (The one in my sidebar is one of them). If you want to the image to be on the blogspot server, I have uploaded this and this.

King Tut Meets 900,000 Visitors

Egyptian Boy King Tutankhamon is on display in Los Angeles since mid-June. The exhibition is now extended with five days in a bid to attract more than 900,000 visitors to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. On a previous visit in 1978, King Tut attracted more than 1.25 million people.

Egypt’s chief of antiquities, Zahi Hawass is disappointed: "If the exhibition will not reach a million, it is not the fault of King Tut, but the people who handled the exhibit," Hawass said from Cairo. If attendance reaches 1 million, Egypt's share of the gate will guarantee that it will reap $9 million from Tut's L.A. sojourn.

Tut’s next stop on his American tour is the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where the exhibition opens Dec. 15 for a four-month run.

Related: Farmers threaten Pharaohs – one more account of how irrigation water is causing damage to reliefs and monuments. It is an emergency situation and the money from international exhibition contributes to preserving these treasures that belongs to the whole world. Also related: The Tomb of Thutmose III is on display in Edinburgh. More Archaeology: Nabta Playa is an archaeological site in the western deserts of southern Egypt, where some of the earliest known evidence of domesticated cattle have been identified. The first house at Nabta Playa was built about 8500 BP. (BP? Pretending it’s not BC?)

Where Christ is Taken Out of Christmas

Bureaucrats in Lambeth council are making sure their seasonal lights are bereft of any connotation of Christianity. Instead, council officials have used the words “Winter Lights” and “Celebrity Lights”. From the Times.

The Big Penile Defence

A 21 year old Canadian tells the court he could not have committed a sexual assault because his penis is too big. Although his doctor happily testified it is among the biggest thing he has ever encountered, the Crown's attorney scoffed, calling it an exaggeration. The defence has produced a plastic model of the accused's private. Justice Margaret Eberhard is obliged to weigh the evidence. h/t: regina

Piggy Bank Story Not True

Remember last month when MSM and bloggers were taking great joy in telling how intolerant Muslims in the UK have become? It was the Piggy Bank story - a claim that banks were taking the piggy bank off their counters; as to not offend the anal muslims and despite crying children who were now robbed of their chance to learn about the life time benefits of saving. The story was not true. Here is what Media Watch has to say:

Halifax: While it is true that we do not longer have any piggy banks, "Halifax has not withdrawn any piggy banks from branches. As a matter of fact we have not used piggy banks in our branches for a number of years."

NatWest: "There is absolutely no fact in the story. We simply had a UK wide savings marketing campaign, which included pictures of piggy banks, running until the end of September. Piggy banks have been and will continue to be used as a promotional item by NatWest."

Both banks were disappointed that media outlets didn’t check with them before they ran with the story.

Robert is willingly admitting the mistake.

Egyptian Blogger Detained

An Egyptian blogger was taken from his home by Egyptian State Security on Wednesday 26 October. The security agency (Amn al-Dawla). confiscated hard copies of his writings. It is reported that he is now on his way to an unknown detention. Says Alaa:

"Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman is a 21 year-old Egyptian student of law at the Azhar University, Damanhour Campus, a women's-rights activist and a correspondent for Copts United. In addition to writing at Civic Dialogue, he also publishes at a blog he maintains.

Three Egyptian bloggers visited Abdolkarim's family. The family attributed the state security raid to his writings, although it was not clear if his blogging is directly related. According to his brother, Abdolkarim's relations with Islamist Fundamentalists in his neighborhood of Moharram Bek, Alexandria, are tense. It is possible that the fundamentalists have filed a security complaint that led to his detention."

Baheyya is reporting that Seliman "lives in the Muharram Bek neighborhood that witnessed rioting by 5,000 Muslims outside the Mar Girgis Church on Oct. 21, resulting in three deaths and more than 100 wounded. Security forces detained 100-some rioters but recently released many of them."

Baheyya says "It remains to be seen whether he has been "preventively detained" for the usual 15-day chunks and whether he will be formally charged by State Security Prosecution. The first few days (sometimes weeks) of a detention are always the murkiest, with Amn al-Dawla deliberately keeping everyone in the dark to instill fear and confusion. The causes of Karim's detention thus remain entirely unclear. Did neighborhood toughs instigate the police to arrest him? Are security agents punishing Abdel Karim for his writings? "

Bloggers and readers are questioning why we should defend Seliman, on grounds that his own writing is radical and questionable. Don't let them get away with it! Credits to Alaa and Baheyya for defending his freedom of expression. To use the words of Baheyya:

"It seems to me counterproductive to traffic in unsubstantiated theories and rumours, or to reflexively sensationalise this as an Iranian-style 'crackdown on bloggers,' or to bicker about whether Abdel Karim's views are "representative" or worth defending. This is basic: a person's views are never the issue when it comes to arbitrary and unlawful detention. The issue is security agents' behaviour, plain and simple. ... It is much more important now to monitor the situation closely and work to obtain concrete information from State Security, as Egypt's human rights groups have always done in these situations."

Amr has alerted the Commitee to Protect Bloggers and are posting news in Arabic and English with the technorati tag .

Coptic Church Launch Love TV

Egypt’s Christian Coptic Minority is to launch its own satellite TV channel this month. Aghapy TV – which means love in the Coptic language, is guided by Pope Shenuda III himself.

The channel will be run out of a convent northeast of Cairo, according to its executive father, Bishoy Al-Antony.

It will not show the controversial play that caused thousands of Muslims to attack a church in Alexandria recently. But Father Antony says the channel will strictly focus on issues related to the Coptic Church.

The promotional poster features a Biblical quotation and a glowing Jesus next to a Coptic cross. It promises viewers a bonanza of hymns, holy liturgies and documentaries on ancient monasteries.

Although Egypt’s Coptic minority constitutes some ten percent of the population, the Church’s presence on national TV is restricted to only a few live broadcasts per year. The Pope was recently criticized for engaging in political affairs when he instructed all Copts to vote for the incumbent president Mubarak. Link.

On a related note:
A Christian Church will be built in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar.
The Christian Science Monitor is running a story on Anti-Terror Ramadan Soaps.
The Anchoress is writing about attempts to introduce a religion-neutral calendar. Read the whole post. I’ve noted how some organizations have replaced with BC/AD with (eh... can’t even remember) but without changing the calendar’s starting date. I think that is very superficial. What’s the point of pretending we’re not counting the days since the birth of Jesus if that is what we’re doing, just with a different name?

Good Day and Welcome

It is the first day of the Eid holidays. Instead of blogging this morning, I’ve enjoyed a long sleep-in and a social lunch. Upon my return to my beloved Internet connection I found friends of The Anchoress roaming my pages. What more could one ask for on a lovely day like this? The sun is of course shining, as always in Egypt. Welcome everybody. Please do enjoy the holidays, wherever you are.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The picture is called 'Sisterhood' and is from the exhibition 'No veil is required' -- A multi media presentation dedicated to the women of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Jordan, Egypt. By Amir Normandi. See fifteen marvelous pictures at Iranian.com h/t: Stefania, Free Thoughts

Windows Live is On Line

Windows Live - still in beta - is Microsoft's first step to shift all its services to the Web. Analysts said the move was prompted by competition from Google and other rivals.

My first reaction is: Isn't there a limit to how many personalized web pages that can be offered with Weather Forecasts, Horoscopes and Mail Alerts etc. etc. I for one certainly don't need another one. That said, Microsoft Live is a first step with some new features and among the gadgets one can add is photos from Flickr. I haven't tested the RSS feed reader but since Google recently put out its own Web based reader, it could be fun to watch and compare if I'm in a geek mood over the holidays. Read also PC World's reflection.

1500 Refugees Fear Forced Repatriation

The World Organization Against Torture says it is gravely concerned by the situation of 1500 Sudanese refugees who, since 29th September 2005, have been living in front of the UNHCR offices in Cairo. They are protesting the fact that their request for resettlement was frozen following the signing of the recent peace accord between the Sudanese government and the South People’s Liberation Army.

A statement says the police have repeatedly arrested and confiscated their identity papers given to them by the UNHCR, and they have also been subjected to violence. Furthermore, the refugees have been stigmatised by the press. Link.

Egypt Soldiers Kill Two at Egypt-Israel Border

Egyptian security forces shot dead two Egyptian men they said were trying to smuggle tobacco into Israel from Egypt, security sources said on Tuesday.

The men had failed to respond to warnings after they were spotted trying to cross the border near El Kuntilla, 55 km (35 miles) north of the border town of Taba, they added. Link.

Crew Escape Egypt Liner Blaze

Nearly 60 crew members escaped a fire which raged aboard a Panamanian-flagged passenger liner off Egypt's Red Sea coast.

It was unclear what caused Tuesday night's fire. One crew member was injured and treated aboard another ship. No passengers were aboard the ship, which was heading from the port city of Suez for Saudi Arabia, but caught fire off the coast of Hurghada, 225 miles to the south. Link.

The picture is called 'Monitored' and is from the exhibition 'No veil is required' -- A multi media presentation dedicated to the women of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Jordan, Egypt. It is a tribute to Iranian/Canadian photographer Zahra ZIBA Kazemi and Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh who lost their lives in defense of human rights. By Amir Normandi. See fifteen marvelous pictures at Iranian.com h/t: Stefania, Free Thoughts

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Unhinged: The Mug-shot Collection

Blogging journalist Michelle Malkin is officially launching a new book today: Unhinged, Exposing Liberals Gone Wild. I take it that she doesn’t like Democrats too much. I don’t know. I met very few. I don’t like the Clinton’s. Although I never met them. I never met Barbara Bush either, but I always liked her. That makes me scary, right? But less scary than the people who don’t understand why Tony Blair’s wife is scary. Right? I would like to meet George and Laura; check out their Rose Garden, that kind of stuff. Anyway, Michelle’s Mug-shot collection is the pictures that didn’t make it into the book. Let’s call it a web exclusive. I have never seen so many ugly faces. I didn’t know liberals were so ugly. Or that they did so many stupid things. Suddenly, Egypt’s political scene seems very civilized.

Surprising Things About Iran

The Independent is listing "Ten very surprising things about Iran" and here are a few items I was surprised by:

- Iran has one of the only condom factories in the Middle East, and actively encourages contraception as a means of family planning.

- More than 3,600 Iranians have been killed in the past 25 years fighting heroin smugglers. Iran itself has more than two million addicts.

- Transsexuals are permitted to have sex-change operations in Iran by the decree of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini himself.

Transparent Ballot Boxes, Literally

Egypt is experiencing with democracy, sort of. Someone high up said on television that the upcoming elections to the parliament would be transparent. A bit further down in the hierarchy, someone gave it a good think-through. Transparency, what can it mean? Eventually, the ministry of interior was charged with making a further announcement:

"It promised the parliamentary elections will be honest and supervised by an independent judiciary, adding that ballot boxes will be transparent for the first time."

No kidding:

Via Raed in the Middle who says: Making the ballot boxes out of glass makes democracy more transparent in the Middle East! h/t: ‘Aquoul

I haven’t seen it elsewhere myself but Egypt would be the place where it would happen first.

Demand for Viagra set to Rise During Eid

With only a couple of days left of Ramadan, Egyptians are stocking up on the miracle pills. But tell me, why is it that Egyptian men always seem to be proud of their Viagra consumption?

The Forgotten Mummies

Indiana Hawass finds the greatest treasures are not hidden in the desert but in his own cellar. From the NYT.

Documenting Break Ups, Online

There is a site for every matter. Here is a hard break up, the easy e-mail way. Romeo + Juliet. h/t: Regina

Iran’s Blunder is Back-Firing

President Ahmadinejad’s statement is a useful reminder of the true nature of Iran’s regime. The core is racial and religious hatred; it is not news that they hate both Jews and Arabs -- or that the sentiment is returned, writes Jim Hoagland in the WP.
He seems to have been shepherded into office by the ruling ayatollahs to pursue the politics of hatred and confrontation after a period of conflicting signals on their intentions. Thanks for the reminder, guys.

A reminder of what Ahmadinejad also said at the at the "World Without Zionism" conference that has not been widely reported:
We are in the process of an historical war between the World of Arrogance [i.e. the West] and the Islamic world, and this war has been going on for hundreds of years.

Is it possible for us to witness a world without America and Zionism? But you had best know that this slogan and this goal are attainable, and surely can be achieved...

The Iranian president’s chief strategist is reported to have said:
We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization... we must make use of everything we have at hand to strike at this front by means of our suicide operations or by means of our missiles.

There are 29 sensitive sites in the U.S. and in the West. We have already spied on these sites and we know how we are going to attack them.

h/t: Judith, Gatewaypundit

Why the U.S. Troops Will Not Leave Iraq

Most of the troops are only slightly inconvenienced by their tour in Iraq. Radio stations, coffee shops, massage parlours, water polo tournaments, perfume and lingerie shops, condoms, restaurants, beauty salons, basketball courts, pools, ironing services, college classes -- that's the holiday activities most are enjoying while a few are charged to secure the country. "We have Enough Troops," an army officer in Iraq is writing. h/t: Andrew