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.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Egypt Arrests Another Blog Critic

Police in Cairo have detained a blogger whose posts have been critical of the Egyptian government.

Rami Siyam, who blogs under the name of Ayyoub, was detained along with three friends after leaving the house of a fellow blogger late at night.

No reasons have been given for Mr Siyam's detention. The other friends were released after being questioned.

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Egypt arrests another blog critic

Egypt Detains Blogger

Egyptian police detained an opposition blogger in a chance security check on Sunday, a human rights group said.

Blogger Rami Siyam, who runs ayoubelmasry.blogspot.com, was detained with three other bloggers leaving a friend's house in downtown Cairo around dawn, said Gamal Eid, director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.

Egypt detains blogger in random security check - Yahoo! News

Monday, November 13, 2006

Police Detain Opposition Activist

Egyptian police have detained the opposition Kefaya movement's coordinator in western Cairo hours before he planned a demonstration to demand better public services, the movement said on its website on Monday.

Read More: IOL: Egypt police detain opposition activist

Amnesty Concerns About Freedom of Expression

Amnesty International is concerned by the arrest and detention of blogger and former al-Azhar University student Abdel Karim Sulaiman Amer apparently because of his critical writings about Islam and Egypt's al-Azhar religious authorities, and the recent imprisonment of Tal’at Sadat, a member of parliament, for “spreading false rumours and insulting the armed forces". These cases represent a further erosion of freedom of expression in Egypt.

Read More: Egypt: New concerns about freedom of expression

UN Tries to Heal Religious Divide

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is due to be presented with a plan of action to ease increasing polarisation of Muslim and Western societies.

The report is by a group of prominent international figures, including Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu and ex-Iranian president Mohammad Khatami.

They have been brought together under the United Nations initiative, the Alliance of Civilisations.

The report will be presented at a ceremony in Istanbul. It is the product of 20 minds: prominent international figures from a variety of religions.

They have been meeting over the past year to examine the root causes of the increasing divide between the Muslim world and the West.

Their mandate was to propose a concrete plan of action to bridge the gap and overcome mutual feelings of fear and suspicion.

BBC NEWS | Europe | UN tries to heal religious divide

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Best Arabic Blog 2006: Jar el Kamar

The 15 winners of the Deutsche Welle Best of Blogs - BOB - award was announced today. Global Voices blogged the ceremony in Berlin. Alexandrian blogger Jar el Kamar is the best Arabic blog. Motivation:
An example of citizen journalism, Jar el Kamar has been able to cover incidents in his local city of Alexandria more bravely than your typical media outlet. He was on the front line of dangerous situations including violence happening around parliamentary elections and church attacks. He blogs also about culture, social issues and other topics.

Well earned and many congratulations! Read about winners in other categories here.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Blame the Iraqis First

Forgive me for thinking that this article on Iraq by Arnold King is hilarious. Highlights:
I think that American troops should stay to protect the oil fields in Iraq. They should also seal the Kurdish region. On the other hand, I'd be happy to see our soldiers walk out of Baghdad, not with their tails between their legs but with their middle fingers in the air. ... We gave them an opportunity to experience freedom and democracy, and they responded by shooting one another and blowing people up.

... It's like "American Idol," but instead of singing or dancing they use beheadings and car bombs. In Iraq, stardom means blowing people up.

TCS Daily

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Free Abdel Kareem - Redux

A security official has confirmed that blogger Abdel Kareem is once again held by state security. I pray for him. He is in trouble for posting comments critical of Al Azhar, the country´s Islamic authority. They ought to be tolerant and have faith that if God have a problem with anyone, he will hand out the punishment himself. Of course, the issue is not merely theological to them, it is about power.

Once again are religious institutions confusing themselves with God: instead of seeing that they are part of the problem, they interpret any criticism of the institution as criticism of God. Such confusion, at least in my ears, is blasphemy. The reaction of the authorities, the religious and the state security, is a sign of weakness: they fail to provide the arguments or set good examples, so they resort to power. I´ll remember that next time someone is claiming that Islam does not need a reformation or that its leading scholars are not backwards.

I don´t know why Abdel Karim persist: he must have known what was coming. Whatever his reason, he is facing up to powers who long ago lost any claim of authority. I respect him for that, and I wish him luck.

What you can do to help is to make sure that you and others are not staying quiet.
Abdel Karim Nabil Suleiman, 22, was detained Monday in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria after being summoned for questioning by state security...

...the blogger lashed out at Al Azhar University - the highest seat of Sunni Islamic learning in the region - from which he was expelled earlier this year.
... "I say to Al Azhar and its university and its professors and preachers who stand against anyone who thinks differently to them: 'You are destined for the rubbish bin of history, where you will find no one to cry for you, and your regime will end like others have'," he went on.
The blogger was already arrested in October 2005 after posting a vitriolic comment condemning the Muslim reaction to a Coptic Christian play that sparked violent clashes after some Muslims deemed it offensive to their religion.

The arrest took place on the same day that Paris-based international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders published a new list of 13 countries that it describes as "enemies of the Internet."
"Many bloggers were harassed and imprisoned this year in Egypt, so it has been added to the roll of shame reserved for countries that systematically violate online free expression," the group said.

"President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power since 1981, displays an extremely disturbing authoritarianism as regards the Internet," the watchdog said, listing a number of recent cases in which bloggers were harassed. ...

Middle East Times: Egypt arrests blogger who criticized Al Azhar, by Jailan Zayan, AFP November 8, 2006

My Previous post today.
Previous posts about Kareem.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Blogger Kareem Arrested Again

Says the Big Pharaoh:
Controversial student blogger Abdul karim Suliman Amer, known as "Kareem Amer", was arrested for the second time by the state security police. It seems that this time they are determined to put Abdul Karim behind bars and we'll have to start the "free abdul karim" campaign one more time. I am starting to become very worried about internet freedom of speech in Egypt especially after the state knew how powerful blogs can be after they exposed the mass sexual harassment incident in downtown Cairo.

Read the full post.

My Previous posts.

The Children of the High Dam

A Journey Along the Nile Reveals an Egypt At the End of a Long Era of Broken Promises, Moving Into a Less Certain, Less Secular Future.

Lengthy report by Anthony Shadid, The Washington Post.

Despite All, a Good Day at LGF

Little Green Footballs is always a very good blog, even when I don´t approve of what it says and that is not as often as you might think. This morning, it was even better. Here is how blogger Charles started out in the post The Morning After:
Good morning, lizards! Our job of saving the world just got a little harder, with the appeasement and anger party in control of the House (and possibly the Senate too).

Followed by some hard news:

Hamas is calling for attacks on the US.

The democrats who have ready lists of investigations and subpoenas.

Last but not least, the UN Celebrats Democrat Win.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Since RSF is Trying, We Ought to Participate

Right now on the net, Reporters Without Borders are hosting a cyber demonstration against online censorship. More information here. Perhaps if I had a French sense of orientation and logic I would find the campaign site useful. But I don´t. To me, it is just very French. I expected to be able to click on any of the countries on the map that has taken over the front page at www.rsf.org, but it doesn´t work (try Internet Explorer if you care to play around more than I did).

That said, the site offer an opportunity to record a message to Yahoo!´s founder, to protest against Internet Black Holes. The information page also promises the launch of an Arabic RSF site today. Me myself cannot find it. Here is what RSF says about Egypt:
Aside from a few sites linked to the Muslim Brotherhood’s religious movements, Egypt does little online filtering. But President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power since 1981, displays an extremely disturbing authoritarianism as regards the Internet. Three bloggers were arrested in June 2006 and were held for two to three months for calling for democratic reforms. Others have been harassed, such as Coptic blogger Hela Hemi Botros, who was forced to close down her blog in August under pressure from the police. Finally, a Council of State administrative court recently ruled that the authorities could block, suspend of close down any website likely to pose a threat to “national security.” This could open the way to extensive online censorship.

RSF 24 hour campaign

Monday, November 06, 2006

Cyberdemo Against Online Censorship

Reporters Without Borders

Tomorrow November 7 at 11 AM
to the same time on November 8

"Reporters sans frontières are asking Internet users to visit their site to show support for RSF's campaign against internet censorship. You can click on an interactive map of the world showing "Internet black holes" (countries which censor Net use e.g. imprison bloggers), send a message to Yahoo against their censorship of search engine results in China, etc."

Read more at A Consuming Experience

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Low IQ and the Curse of Africa

A scholar at the London School of Economics is taking heat for publishing research that says "African states were poor and suffered chronic ill-health because their populations were less intelligent than people in richer countries," writes the Guardian.

Of course we should question the point in opening the lid of this box again - it is not that many years ago that researchers at all good universities were measuring skulls to compare different races, such as caucassian and negro. But it is of course also appropriate to defend evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawas right to publish his research. It is academia, after all.

Kanazawas is concluding that "low IQ levels, rather than poverty and disease, are the reason why life expectancy is low and infant mortality high. His paper, published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, compares IQ scores with indicators of ill health in 126 countries and claims that nations at the top of the ill health league also have the lowest intelligence ratings."

Leaving the obvious criticism aside, such as whether there are any reliable data to draw such conclusions from, I find two other questions far more interesting:

1. What effect does poverty have on intelligence over generations? In richer countries, researchers are now pointing to how low nutrition diets and in particular bad fats are directly affecting how brain cells are connecting to each other. Good food = many connections = fast working brain. Bad food = few connections = slow thinking.

2. Does IQ really matter? In other words, is it and adequate method for measuring intelligence?

The case of MENSA

Over the years, I´ve met plenty of people who consider themselves really smart and they are quick to point out their IQ levels which have qualified their membership in an obscure organization called MENSA (? I think) where other high-IQ scorers are meeting to tell each other how smart they are. The problem is, most of these people can´t tell their face from the ass. There are more wrongs coming out from their mouths than rights. That is of course only my observations. But to qualify it, I have also had the fortune to know some really smart people - and I mean really smart and capable - and I don´t think any of them would ever dream about making a test to prove their IQ to their peers; they would probably rather die than joining an organisation like MENSA.

Can we measure intelligence? Does it mean anything?

The Guardian Observer

Danger at Home

Ahlan wa Sahlan.
MAGINE VISITING a country where there are more than two guns for every three people, which suffers 45 murders and manslaughters a day, which has 70 active militias and 16,000 gangs in 800 cities, which has been at war with someone for most of its existence, and where the elected president has a 1-in-4 chance, historically, of being killed, wounded or shot at.

But you don't have to imagine, you already live here, in the United States. And the figures above, taken from the FBI and Robert Young Pelton's book, "The World's Most Dangerous Places," are a way of putting travel risk in perspective.

Foreign destinations are often no more fraught with risk than home, sweet home.
Seattle Times

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Police Seize 1,400 kg TNT in Sinai

Oh dear, someone was planning a good firework for Christmas this year.
... a cache of 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) found 30 kilometers (20 miles) east of Gaza was to be smuggled across the border. A second cache of 400 kilograms (882 pounds) found east of the Suez Canal city of Ismailiya appeared to be for Egyptian militants.
The TNT appeared to be of the same kind that was used by militants in terror attacks on Sinai beach resorts, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to talk to the media.


BlogHype: Saddam was Going Nuclear

Was Saddam only one year from buildning a nuclear bomb? According to the Drudge Report, the NYT was preparing an exclusive story yesterday, with Iraqi intelligence documents backing the claim. The morning after, the story wasn´t quite as dramatic, yet there is a lot to learn about what was available to Saddam during an era of UN sanctions.

Right Winged
Captain´s Quarters

On topic: Six Arab states join rush to go nuclear

Friday, November 03, 2006

To Believe or Not to Believe, That is...

Two really good articles if you are interested in the academic discussion of religion.

The Crusade Against Religion - Wired.com

What´s Good About Atheism - TCS Daily

The Right Path - Cosmetic Wise

Upsi, be careful next time you ask some friends to bring in some favourite skin care products next time - it may turn God´s wrath upon you. According to a new Fatwa by our own Mufti, Dr. Ali Gomaa, creams that lighten the skin is a sin forbidden in Islam. The article doesn´t say if men who use the same cream are sinners as well. Then again, a man who is using face-cream at large must be a sinner per definition, or?

Funny, by the way, did you ever notice in the museum that women always have light skin and men dark in the ancient pictures? I wonder why, since dark is beautiful. I agree with the Mufti - bleaching your skin is a sin. My position is not religious though, I just don´t see the point in changing from beautiful colour to pale.

Here is another funny one: "Gomaa approved of liposuction and stomach stapling for overweight women if there was a medical necessity." Of course it is a necessity my dear Doctor, you are not accusing me of vanity, are you?

Veil Debate Redolent of Nazism

The public debate over whether or not Muslim women should be allowed to wear veils is redolent of Nazi Germany, according to London´s Mayor Ken Livingstone.
The suggestion that Muslims are the cause of the racial divide in Britain “echoes very much the demonology of Nazi Germany when Hitler said it was the Jews' fault and the problems were brought upon themselves.”

“There is a faint echo of that in a lot of the rubbish we have been seeing in the media recently,” he said.


I Agree, the Niqab is Not Pretty

The Veil Storm Hits Egypt
It expresses an extremist attitude ... Wearing the niqab is as outrageous as wearing a bathing suit or pajamas to the office.
Salama Ahmed Salama in Al-Ahram (via Kuwait Times)

Yes, I agree, at least from a fashion point, it is a serious crime.

Mobbing the Other Sex

Groups of young men chasing women down the streets of down town Cairo to celebrate the end of Ramadan and the feast - how untraditional is not that. It has been reported by bloggers and mainstream media picked up the story faster than usual. Says the BBC:
According to the bloggers, the attackers targeted veiled as well as unveiled women who happened to be on their own.
Seconds later young boys were shouting that there was another one by the Miami cinema. We went there and saw another girl surrounded by a crowd trying to assault her. She managed to run inside a nearby building.

The question is: why are we surprised? Of course, we never imagined such mass-attacks would take place. But we should have. The lid has been held down with force too long. We have opened it up and it is about time we realize the transition is not going to be easy. Liberty will be interpreted "do what I like" until a leader is emerging who is capable to explain that freedom is right and any right is always corresponded by an obligation: the obligation that comes with freedom is responsibility.

Welcome to reality, everyone.

Link to BBC article.