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.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Eid Saeed

Happy Holidays, everybody! It is Eid al Fitr and I guess some of us bloggers will stay of the grid for a few days - I don´t know yet what I myself may be up to or not. There is an extensive report on how the feast is celebrated in different countries on Wikipeida.
I got this beautiful image from the beautiful
JanMania blog, Jordan.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Veiled for a Day

Muslim journalist Zaiba Malik had never worn the niqab. But with everyone from Jack Straw to Tessa Jowell weighing in with their views on the veil, she decided to put one on for the day. She was shocked by how it made her feel - and how strongly strangers reacted to it.
Guardian Unlimited

Good is the King

A reminder that good is better than bad and that if you are so inclined to believe, God is good.
No matter what power human beings may have over one another, it is nothing against the power of God. No matter how much influence one may have over events on the earth, it is no match for the dominion of God.

It should serve as a reminder for those who think they can rule and run the world for their own agenda. ...

It should also serve as a reminder for those who commit terrible acts of inhuman violence in the name of the King. They think that they are doing good; nay, they do a terrible evil, and we can see through their guise of piety. ...

Hesham Hassaballa is quoting the bible on altmuslim.com.

Veiled Perspectives in the WP

The Washington Post is trying to leverage the discussion about veils, hijabs and naqibs by telling the story of three veiled women with different perspectives. "Islamist Propaganda" says Little Green Footballs. Can´t bother about that. I suggest instead a good roundup by the veiled lady herself, blogger The Anchoress. The Anchoress: WaPo gives three veiled perspectives

US bans Vegemite

Finally at least one government who understands that since the dark, salty spread taste shit, it probably is shit, thus a hazard to the public health. I hate it!

It´s all over the blogsphere, link to Tailrank:
US bans Vegemite

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Festival of Light - Wish it was Cairo

Berlin's Cathedral turns into a kaleidoscope: Lighting designer Andreas Boehlke has been illuminating public spaces for 23 years. For almost two weeks night-time Berlin is illuminated by the "Festival of Lights."
Photo: Reuters. Link to pictureshow at Spiegel Online.

Sex and the Muslim City

Oh! Apparently there is sex in this part of the world. Too bad no one told me :-) The in-depth research and fine reporting is brought to us by Spiegel Online. The magazine is running a lengthy feature titled Love, Lust and Passion: Sex and Taboo in the Islamic World. My cheeks are still burning, I am unable to comment or provide further insight on the topic, but here are a few lines that caught my veiled eyes:

According to Google Trends, the Pakistanis search for "sex" most often, followed by the Egyptians. Iran and Morocco are in fourth and fifth, Indonesia is in seventh and Saudi Arabia in eighth place. The top city for "sex" searches is Cairo.

When the terms "boy sex" or "man boy sex" are entered (many Internet filters catch the word "gay"), Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are the first four countries listed.

"They were already convinced that my girlfriend was a whore," says Gundi. The couple ended up behind bars, even after telling the police that they planned to get married in a few months. Only after the woman notified her father the next day were the two released from jail. For Gundi, one thing is certain: "If the officer who stopped us hadn't been so sexually frustrated, he would have let us go."

Link to the article

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Liberal Freedom - For a Few

I received an e-mail in response to my previous articles this week about liberal freedom and the niqab. It is too long to post in full here, but I will put it in the comment area of this post. A few excerpts:
... It has nothing to do with Islam or Muslims. ... Here's what the problem REALLY is: It is deeply offensive to the most fundamental feeling of people in free societies to see other people openly oppressed. ... To see degradation of another human being worn publicly and held up as a virtue of some sort is simply sickening to us. ... It may be a cultural norm elsewhere to mutilate the genitals of little girls, and considered a virtue; that is not the case here. ... It may be a cultural norm for men to have four wives - but polygamy is unlawful here, and disgusting to the majority of citizens.

.... what if people, for religious reasons, wore men’s clothing designed to expose the testicles, that women's clothing bare the breasts? Would we not all find this appalling? ... The dehumanization of women is obscene to us. To deliberately throw it in the faces of one's neighbours does more than separate - it's offensive. ...

... If people are going to emigrate to free societies, they must understand that they are guests and conduct themselves accordingly, at least in shared public life. Or, live elsewhere. I cannot help but wonder what it is that attracts immigrants to places for which they have such contempt. Please, be happy, perhaps somewhere else. ... Please don't confuse this perspective with any wish to hurt Muslims in any way. It's the custom that's offensive, not the person.

A big problem with this argument is the assumption that women are forced, or brainwashed, to wear the hijab or niqab. It happens and the pressure from a narrow-minded society is indeed increasing. But for many people it is also a choice, a personal step to fulfil their lives. I respect that.

I think we also need to reflect on the differences between some Muslim societies and some liberal societies in the West. The big difference is of course that the Muslim society is a developing society. Therefore, laws and practises that permits polygamy may be in action but it doesn´t mean the society at large are pleased with them, or that people actually use them. Where they do, it will change, in some places sooner than later. In contrast, in the Western society, people do not marry several spouses at once, but after each other. Statistically speaking, a marriage is not supposed to last ten years. Most children grow up with different sets of parents, or single parents. Sleeping with different partners, outside marriage, is considered normal. Regarding clothing that is exposing the human anatomy: women already show off their breasts and no one care too much when men is parading with pants that just about reveal the hair on their testicles. People get away with a lot, because it is a liberal society.

Unless you are Muslim, of course. If you want to wear items your are comfortable in outside your house, people like this e-mail writer freak out. Well, let them freak. It is my right in a liberal society to freak you out. My name may not be Vivian Westwood but I still have the right to wear what I wish. Even if you do not like it. Even if you have nightmares about all the horrors you imagine that I am going trough and that you soon will be experiencing once the people "of my kind" get their hands on you, drag you to the basement to cut your genetials and then marry you off to my uncles in Tehran. Dream on, because it will never happen outside your head and that is why my right to wear what I like is greater than your right to tell me it is not suitable "in your country."

Finally, immigrants are not guests, they are part of the society. With the same rights and obligations as everybody else. You can not dictate how they should live their lives more than they can say how you should go on with yours. You are not above them, they do not answer to you. That is the law. If people in Britain would grasp it, senseless debates about what "foreigners" can or cannot do would soon end. And the liberal society would again flourish.

The Big Pharaoh in a Niqab

Not really, just joking. But he is annoyed that actress Hala Sheeha is donning the niqab. I am too. I wouldn´t want any young woman to wear a hijab or niqab if it is not an individual choice. In her case, it is probably the only way to survive. God knows what the fanatics have said they will do to her otherwise. Really, I do think that is why famous singers and actresses are turning all-holy on a spot. Check out BP´s before and after pictures, quite funny.

The BP also have this disturbing piece of news:
Well, I just came from Al Arabiya website and saw this news report about a young Egyptian man who raped little girls having religious class in a mosque. And he did it in the mosque's bathroom and he did it in Ramadan!

Gamal Al-Banna in the NYT

I didn´t expect to find an article about an Egyptian free thinker on the NYT frontpage this morning, but I did. It is of course Michael Slackman who is providing the fine reporting. I am glad he haven´t given up on Egypt yet.
GAMAL AL-BANNA is 85, and for much of his life he has been overshadowed by his famous brother, Sheik Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist political party and antecedent of a host of militant Islamist organizations, from Al Qaeda to Hamas.
He is a liberal thinker, a man who would like to see Islamic values and practices interpreted in the context of modern times. Egypt’s gatekeepers of religious values, the government-appointed and self-appointed arbiters of God’s word, condemn, dismiss and dispute what he says.
“If religion was correctly understood, it would be a power of liberation,” Mr. Banna said. “But it is misunderstood, and so it is driving us backward.” The views alleged to fall outside religion include those on women: They are not required to wear a veil, as most do in Egypt, Mr. Banna believes; they should not be forced to undergo genital cutting, as most do now in Egypt; and they should be allowed to lead men in prayer, which is forbidden in Egypt.

The New York Times: A Liberal Brother at Odds With the Muslim Brotherhood

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Veiled Women of London

The veiled women in Britain will loose the battle because they are an extermist minority that are not wanted within another minority, says the Asharq Alawsat general manager Abdul Rahman Al Rashed.
The real loss is more important than a piece of cloth and it is that Muslims have lost a great deal of sympathy because of the practices of an extremist minority. In fact, the presence of this minority within western society contradicts not only the principles of the host country but the group’s own principles and religious beliefs.
It is better for that Muslim teacher to leave the country and live in a Muslim country that respects her privacy rather than living in a society where social values and what she considers a religious duty conflict.
Living in Britain, is like living in any Islamic state in that it is governed by rules and regulations to which residents must abide and must respect. If they cannot, they should go back the way they came.

In my opinion, women who wear the Niqab will lose this battle, primarily because they are a minority within a minority and because many Muslims do not consider it a compulsory part of Islamic dress and so on.
Azmi has indicated that she is willing to take off the Niqab, therefore may be able to return to teaching. The biggest supporters of the Niqab in Britain are the leftists and liberals who believe in freedom of dress as one of the fundamental freedoms that the country sanctifies. In the Sunday Times, India Knight defends the Niqab and expresses her view that Muslims today are experiencing the same oppression as the Jews once did.

The Veiled Women of London, Part Two, Part One

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Andrew Sullivan Disagrees

Turns out that the best conservative blogger on the net has an opposing view on the issue of teachers wearing a niqab. Shame, I would have loved to stand on his side. Andrew´s point is that a) if you are working for the government you have to follow the rules; b) the rule is to teach clearly, which you cannot do if your face is covered; c) dresscodes and uniforms for public officials is not an infringement of freedom.

Well, he is wrong.

A. This is not a question about following the rules, it is a questioning of the rules. If the rule said "wear bananas if you like", the naqib would not be an issue. The discussion should question the fairness of the rules, not if people are inclined to follow them.

B. Why is everybody assuming that a niqab and teaching is in conflict? Or that a teacher who wear the niqab on her way to the school is necessary insisting on wearing the niqab in class? Personally, I can remember many teachers who were so ugly I never wanted to see their face, but that is another story. (I´ll call my shrink).

C. If I were a Hindu I would really be offended if I couldn´t wear a turban on my head at work, even if I at the same time have to put up with the silly uniforms some nutty manager ordered for me from the all-polyester discount store. What Andrew and others are saying here is that they do not think that a ban on "religiouswear" is an infringement of personal freedom because they do not think that those religious outfits ought to be so important to anyone. Well, that is a value-statement, not a fact. In my eyes, it is not up to them to decide! Nor me, or you.

Andrew Sullivan: The End of Multiculturalism.
My previous post today: Lipstick Jihad

Internet Explorer 7 is Released

Internet Explorer 7 is here, finally. The "Google Operating System" blog has the full story.

It has been said that it will be released as an automatic update: if that is still true and you have automatic update turned on, you may want to change it or you will find a new browser version on your system soon.

Is Miss Mabrouk IE7 compliant? I wouldn´t know, you let me know :)

Is IE7 a good browser? I tried a couple of the beta versions and I didn´t like its performance. Features, yes, impressing. Switching from Firefox? Can´t see the point. How about you?

Help! Google is Pornofying MY Blog!

Beggars belief... on my own blog:

I ticked the "no smut please" box when I set up Google Adsense for this blog but it didn´t help. I am not sure I want to keep the ads anyway, it is a trial phase I am going through. But I do like the Firefox ads in the sidebar. I love Firefox.

Royal Sohour in Amman

King Hussein of Jordan and his family enjoying a late evening meal at a restaurant in an alley in downtown Amman. Lovely! I found the picture at Sabbah´s Blog, he says it appeared in Jordan Times. Just imagine if we would see a picture of Hosni and family on a night out in Attaba!

Mubarak's Quarter of a Century

Nice roundup if you want an introduction. And it is safe for kids, the most scary parts are not mentioned - and I am not talking about the artificial colouring of his hair. By the BBC´s Martin Asser.

Egypt Frees Brotherhood Members

Egypt's largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, says one of its senior figures and 14 others have been released from custody.

No reason was given for the release of the group's secretary-general, Mahmoud Ezzat, and his fellow party members, who have been in custody since August.

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Egypt frees Brotherhood members

Lipstick Jihad

Time´s Tehran correspondent writes Why Tony Blair is Right About the Veil. I have a problem with the assumptions behind the argument. But first, here is an extract from the column with the second level header Muslim women can't integrate with British society from behind a mask:
The idea that women in niqab can assimilate properly into a community or be effective as teachers distresses me, because it is at heart disingenuous. Clearly, meaningful social exchange requires a face. And the argument that non-verbal communication is inessential only addresses half the problem. The obscured woman, who can see her interlocutor clearly through her slits, is enjoying contact with a face; it's the other party, conversing with a tiny black tent, that bears the burden of the discomfort. It would be more sincere for niqab-wearers to say that they accept the cost of refusing to compromise on the niqab; that it will be considered provocative by their non-Muslim fellow citizens, that it might slow their own assimilation into British society.
The point that follows is that teachers are role models and children should not have to be confronted with a discussion about why a male teacher may find the faces of his female colleagues morally offensive. Further, the underlying idea that men cannot control their sexual impulses is discriminating to men. I can appreciate the argument but I am a liberal so I have to disagree, mostly.

(Showing the face to children of any sex is typically not a problem for the woman in the niqab. When the kids are turning into young men and become a threat, they are also old enough to appreciate that some teachers in the school are very serious about their religion).

  • Religion is an individual choice, mostly. Although sometimes people don´t think about it as an option, it is as natural to them as breathing air, thinking about the loved ones and falling asleep.
  • A society is a gathering of individual people, all with their own habits, thoughts and beliefs.
  • A liberal society is a society where everybody is respecting that people are different.
  • People who are originally from another culture and country are not lesser people than those whose parents and grandparents were born in the country. They are just the same and deserve the same rights and respect.

Therefore, it doesn´t make sense to tell a person that your values and beliefs are not appreciated in our corner. It is rather rude, actually.

That said, I too think it is desirable if less women wear the niqab. But I do not demand it from them. People in Egypt are becoming more intolerant, ignorant and religious at the same time. Of course there is a connection. But I try to meet that trend with opposition, arguments and education. Not a ban, demand or legal regulation. For the same reason is neo-nazi groups allowed to demonstrate in Western cities: because it would do no good to shut them down (they will continue recruiting underground and will feel victimized). Instead, they are allowed to speak; in the name of democracy and to protect democracy.

The proper conduct is to welcome everybody, regardless of belief. To realize that this is new to me, but I will learn and understand. Above all, to recognize my own fear of what I do not know. Instead of saying "poor darling, hiding under that", think "oh, did you see what beautiful eyes."

All arguments in these discussion are based on the same fear and assumption: we know what we have; we see what we can get and we don´t like it, therefore we resist it.

I can not agree with that position. My liberal heart is bumping too fast. There is room for everybody, everywhere. Just because my neighbour is Buddhist, I don´t have to be. Or care. Or worry. It is not to say there is not a problem, or that non-muslim peoples position should not be respected. But it is to say that Blair is looking in the wrong direction and that he in doing so are becoming part of the problem instead of the solution.


Swimming Hijab Story Continues

Who would have thought the debate is till going on. The Islamic swimsuit issue has now become an editorial in the Islamic Tourism Magazine!

Previous posts via Google.

Saudi Jeans on BBC

Blogging boom in Saudi Arabia, says the BBC. Featuring our favorite blogger Saudi Jeans, among others:

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Saudi Arabia's bold young bloggers

Friday, October 13, 2006

Finally, a Worthy Peace Prize Winner

Clap your hands, the Nobel Peace Prize is finally awarded to someone who have done something for the world, compared to previous winners with a questionable role on the world political scene. This Bangladeshi banker is helping his poorer nationals. Hurray!
The inspirational economist Muhammad Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize today for helping lift millions of his fellow Bangladeshis from poverty through a pioneering scheme that lends tiny amounts of money to the very poorest of borrowers.

'Banker' who lends to the poor wins Nobel Peace Prize - World - Times Online

No Niqab Dorm Rule

Female students were kicked from their dormitory for wearing a niqab, face-veil. Egyptian Human Rights watchdog EIPR is protesting - Brian Whitaker picked up the press release. Some quotes:
...(EIPR) today condemned the decision by Helwan University's President to expel female students who choose for religious reasons to wear the niqab, or face veil, from the university's hostel....

The only thing worse than the arbitrary interference with women's right to choose their dress code is to deprive them of government-subsidised accommodation and meals solely on the basis of a decision they made in accordance with their religious beliefs. ...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Plane Hits Manhattan High-Rise

Plane. Hits. Manhattan. Three words I never wanted to say again. This time, it is a small plane. No big fuzz, yet. US Airforce is said to be patrolling in the skies though, because it is prudent to do so. I second that. Is George W. flying in circles as well? I haven´t seen any headlines about some obscure websites with videos of people taking the credit for the "attack." If it is a terror-attack, does it mean that the war on terror has failed? If it is not an attack, how is it still possible for anything to fly into a building in N.Y.? Should there not be a gigantic electro-shield or some other star-war-esque energy-bubble protecting the city?

CNN - Developing story.

100 Dollar Laptops to Pupils in Libya

Yes, it is true. Negroponte met Gadhafi and the laptops will soon be on their way to Libya´s schools:

The $250 million deal, reached on Tuesday, would provide the nation with 1.2 million computers, a server in each school, a team of technical advisers, satellite internet service and other infrastructure.

Read article at AlJazeera.net

Previous post.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Secret Letter From Iraq

A marine´s very frank letter home. It is a good read. So good that I have to steal and republish two items that caught my attention more than the other:
Biggest Surprise — Iraqi Police. All local guys. I never figured that we'd get a police force established in the cities in al-Anbar. I estimated that insurgents would kill the first few, scaring off the rest. Well, insurgents did kill the first few, but the cops kept on coming. The insurgents continue to target the police, killing them in their homes and on the streets, but the cops won't give up. Absolutely incredible tenacity. The insurgents know that the police are far better at finding them than we are — and they are finding them. Now, if we could just get them out of the habit of beating prisoners to a pulp . . .
Favorite Iraqi TV Show — Oprah. I have no idea. They all have satellite TV.

Link to the full letter:TIME.com, The Secret Letter From Iraq

Videos on Muhammad Taken Down

COPENHAGEN, Oct. 9 -- Videos showing anti-immigrant party members mocking the prophet Muhammad were pulled from Web sites Monday as two youths seen in the clips were reported in hiding and the Foreign Ministry warned Danes against traveling in the Middle East.

Muslim clerics from Egypt and Indonesia condemned the video broadcast in Denmark last week showing members of the Danish People's Party youth wing with cartoons of a camel wearing the head of Muhammad and beer cans for humps. A second drawing placed a turbaned, bearded man next to a plus sign and a bomb, all equaling a mushroom cloud.

Read the article: Danish Web Videos on Muhammad Taken Down - washingtonpost.com

Monday, October 09, 2006

Pyramid Found in Europe

... the most extraordinary discovery of the millennium: Europe's only pyramids, dating back to the late Ice Age, exceeding in scale and perfection those of ancient Egypt or Latin America.
Well, perhaps not, says The Guardian.

Opposing Double Standards

Amr Moussa, the Secretary General of the Arab League, is not someone I agree with, but he does have a point about how we perceive freedom of expression:
What about freedom of expression when anti-Semitism is involved?" asked Mr Mousa. "Then it is not freedom of expression. Then it is a crime.
He accuses the west of double standards:
But when Islam is insulted, certain powers... raise the issue of freedom of expression. Freedom of expression should be one yardstick, not two or three," he said.
I agree with him about the double yardsticks: the people who are opposing the Muslims criticism of the cartoons decepting the Prophet as a mad terrorist and his beheading on a stage do it on grounds of the universal human right of freedom of speech, opinion and expression. They do not recognize that this right already is limited. These limitations have been put in place to protect the fundamental freedom from abuse that would erode it.

Thus: if we accept that the right of freedom of expression can be limited (which it is) we must also ask why we do not accept that a large portion of the population of the world consider it outrageous that picturing and slandering the Prophet is not one such accepted limitation.

The reason why it is not is because it was not an issue at the time when all human rights were drafted by, at large, the West, in the UN in the US after the second world war. Eleanor Roosevelt, if the name rings a bell. The voice of the people in the Muslim world was not the voice that it is today, for reasons of political systems and economic development. Today when a global world require a global sense of justice and with Western societies having to face what integration and multi-culturalism really mean, it is a different situation. It doesn´t provide answers automatically, but it poses new questions.

The limitations imposed on the freedom of expression was not put in place overnight. It is still a grey zone in International Law. There is no reason why we should not have a discussion about what constitute a proper limitation today. With the aim of protecting the right, not taking it away.

I am not arguing for new limitations. I am arguing for a debate about the limitations. The outcome may be that all kinds of limitations are wrong and therefore everybody have the right to say anything at any time, at any place. If not, we must have a valid answer to why we should not protect religious symbols. That the people who are opposing it are not religious or consider those who are religious backwards, is not a valid answer.

Two hundred meters from the Arab League HQ in Cairo, two kiosks are selling anti-semitic books, such as Mein Kampf and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. As you know, it is not unusual. Anti-semitism - not only anti-zionism - is widespread and nothing that most people think twice about. In some western countries, it is forbidden and those texts cannot be sold in shops. Says the BBC:
But it's clear that some publishers in Egypt do not practise the kind of respect for religious groups that Mr Mousa is calling for from the West.
It is clear that it is not only the people in the West who are practising double standards. Which is also a reason why we should take this discussion seriously, today.

BBC: Contradiction in Arab Cartoon Views

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Womens Right by the Book

Ramadan Postcard, by Amir Normandi

"Even in the Age of Information, it would seem that not all information is created equal: the closure of a successful 3-year-old production of Mozart's opera 'Idomeneo' because, said Berlin police, it posed 'incalculable risk' of inciting Islamic fundamentalists to violence, is a stark reminder that censorship throbs with power while the lifeblood of art is wrung dry. Last year, outrage from Muslim students led Harper College, located just outside Chicago, to remove an exhibition of works by Amir Normandi depicting the oppression women suffer in many Islamic countries."

Partly in response, Normandi, himself an Iranian-born Muslim, has curated a new exhibition of works:'Desire No Shackles/ Imagine No Borders', to examine oppression and the notion of borders in Islam and other contexts. Read more at http://noshackles.blogspot.com

More pictures about Islam by Amir Normandi on this blog here, here, and here.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Europe vs. Islam, Continued

My previous post raised a few questions, delivered via e-mail and in the comments. While the promise to explain the remaining part of the argument still stands, I want to make a few pointers in that direction today.

Timothy Garton Ash wrote a comment in today´s The Guardian, titled "The struggle to defend free expression is defining our age."

Fanatiques sans frontières (my bold) are on the march. It's wrong to describe this as a single "war on terror"; our adversaries and their ideologies are so diverse. But if you think we are not engaged in a struggle against manifold enemies of freedom, as potentially deadly as those we faced in the 1930s, you are living in a fool's paradise. Which is to say: you are a fairly typical contemporary European.

Fanatiques sans frontières? Excellent expression! But is the threat from the fanatics as dangerous as the fascist ideologies from the pre-war era? It presumes that the larger Muslim population are inclined to embrace it. I do not think so and I am stressing think because I do not claim to know. But I doubt, because societies are complex by nature and it seems to me that Garton-Ash think that the fanatics are unofficial spokespeople for the Muslim world, which is not true. Perhaps he is giving them more credit than they deserve.

There was a book in the mid-90´s, a Harvard professor explaining why the German mindset at the time accepted the Nazi ideology. You would have to explain the Muslim society and "mindset" in a similar way before concluding that the fanatics can win the hearts and soul of the peace loving people I am acquainted with.

But let us move on to the core of Garton-Ash´s argument and two points that are often overlooked in this discussion.

But self-censorship can also flow from a well-intentioned notion of multi-cultural harmony, on the lines of "you respect my taboo and I'll respect yours" - what I've described in this column as the tyranny of the group veto. And there are misguided attempts by democratic governments and parliaments to ensure domestic peace and inter-communal harmony by legislating to curb free expression. ...

We need a debate about what the law should and should not allow to be said or written. Even Mill did not suggest that everyone should be allowed to say anything, anytime and anywhere. We also need a debate about what it's prudent and wise to say in a globalised world where people of different cultures live so close together, like roommates separated only by thin curtains. There is a frontier of prudence and wisdom which lies beyond the one that should be enforced by law. ...

The fact is that the guiding principle of freedom of expression do not equal "anything said goes". International law - which is constituted by declarations, agreements and court-rulings - is full of explanations and decisions that try to draw the line between what falls under freedom of speech and what is abusing it. In the European "international" legislation, that is, principles and rulings from the European Court of Justice as well as national constitutional laws, you will find that the right is often defined as a right to hold an opinion, as opposed to express.

In other instances, it is well known that freedom of expression is limited. For example laws that state that you cannot desecrate the national flag or insult the royal family. Or that you cannot call your neighbour names or slander your workmates.

The second point I am picking up from Garton-Ash´s article is that it must be clear that the discussion of what is proper conduct is not necessarily a legal discussion. Laws typically reflect what we perceive to be right and wrong, but not all issues are always regulated by law. The law is only the codification of our position. Thus, the discussion about printed pictures of the Prophet and his head falling on a German theatre stage is primarily a discussion about how we respect each other and moral conduct in our society. It becomes a legal discussion when we start to debate whether someone ought to be punished for doing something we object to. It is perfectly possible to argue that by beheading the Prophet you are violating the principle of freedom of expression because that principle is resting on an assumption that we share a perception of morality and you are abusing it. But this is a philosophical discussion, not a political standpoint. We have this discussion because we want to strengthen the principle of freedom of expression. If we did not have this discussion we would leave the playing-field open to those who are violently attacking it and those who are allowing it to erode by thinking there is no need for a discussion.

Because of the grey zone in International law, our communities find it difficult to deal with issues of defamation, discrimination and hate-speech. It becomes extra difficult because the same communities nowadays are populated by people with sometimes fundamentally different views living side by side with people who fail to recognize that our own perception is derative from a common way of thinking at a time when a society only had to accommodate those Christians who were for the Pope and the Vatican, and those against these institutions. Facilitating a discussion that preserve values and include everybody does not have to be the same as giving up your values or excluding someone else. The point of discussion is to see what we cannot see today. Or, to clear the grey zone. That is, we have to trust that we are capable of preserve and include at the same time, even if we today do not know how.

Enough on this topic for today, please trust I will return with more to say. Please do read Garton-Ash´s article in The Guardian.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

1st Carnival of African Women

October 9: The first Carnival of African Women which I was kindly invited to participate in. So, do watch this blog and the Carnival page next Monday. There is also a blog aggregator for African Women. Interesting! I am looking forward to learn more from all participators.

Monday, October 02, 2006

9-11 Atta on Video at Bin Laden Camp

Apparantly, Egyptian Mohamed Atta was in a jolly good mood already a year and a half before he hijacked a plane on 9/11. The Sunday Times has the video: Osama Bin Laden´s HQ.

As a backgrounder: my post "Attas Father praises London Bombs."

Sunday, October 01, 2006

She Aint Pink No More

Done! Every girl who wish to reclaim her reputation can do with a little makeover -- too bad I myself didn´t remember this earlier, perhaps it would have made it more appealing to dive back into the heavy blogging business. Today´s changes will do for now, or what do you think? I have tested the archive- and item pages back and forward and it seems to be in working order. I look forward to switching to a custom made template (and indeed I began working on one about a year ago that is not finished, yet). Nothing wrong with Blogger's common goods but you know, it is like buying cloths of the rack - especially when you know you´re gonna have to wear it in public. It doesn´t make your day but it is better than running around town naked. Sometimes.

I have made a few updates that you may want to know about:

1. The standard Atom feed is now full length, the URL to paste in your reader is:


Or perhaps better, use the Feedburner smart atom/rss combo feed, also full length and no summaries, which you can get from the orange colour button in the sidebar, or with this URL:


2. A somewhat shortened blogroll has the bloggs I am trying to keep an eye on for various reasons. Among them, I learned today that Tarek at Green Data is still doing a great job AND he has a very practical design.

3. The e-mail address has changed as I mentioned earlier today. The mailto: link has a permanent place in the sidebar, just replace the DOT in missmabrouk@gmailDOTcom with a real "."

4. The "Suggested" section of the sidebar is now called "Bookmarklets" because that is what the links are about. I added "Del.icio.us this page" to encourage you to bookmark individual pages on del.icio.us. More links will follow, to Digg and other trendy places.

That is it for now. Thanks for coming around and please do let me know what you think about the new colour!

DIY Make Up Day

Today is my do-it-yourself site makeover day: figured it was time to re-evaluate the funding template and give the basic colours a major overhaul. Rouge and lashes will be re-added to the sidebar, item per item, as my day in the blogger beauty salon is moving on. Enjoy.

Pharaoh, my Pharaoh

The Big Man himself. Via blogger Canadianpharaoh who says this is "The New Ramses."

Updated Contact Info

I have updated my e-mail address in the sidebar link and on the profile page. During my time away from blogging, Yahoo! de-activated my inbox and deleted everything I had in it. I successfully re-activated it and have used it for a while but since the messages couldn´t be restored, I´m not too pleased with Yahoo!. So I am with Gmail, of course. If you haven´t switched yet and would like an invitation, send me a message.

Yesterday, I accidentally turned on comment moderation. I am sorry about that. It will not happen again. Comments are now open as normal.