السبت، 31 مارس 2007

Seeking New, Enlightened Pan-Arabism

I am for Pan-Arabism, I have always been, I believe that we have a great potential as a common block than we do as single countries.

The Pan-Arabism that I seek is an enlightened one; it is based on mutual goals of prosperity and economic development,

It is based on sharing a new value set that promotes diversity and doesn't exclude the "other",

Pan-Arabism is not a race-based movement; We should seek and embrace groups who do not feel they belong to it such as Berbers in North Africa, the Kurds, Turkmen, in Syria and Iraq, Africans in Sudan, basically, anyone who doesn't consider himself Arab ethically (if there were ever such a thing), or otherwise! Their culture and customs should be preserved since their diversity will enrich the total

Its prime engine is the economy, and it promotes the optimization of natural and other resources to maximize the use of individual and collective comparative advantages,

We need to unify standards, we need a more proactive economic commission at the Arab League with greater authorities to promote the idea that Arab Economic Unit (and maybe political later on) has something for everyone.

I wrote an article 4 years ago that was never published; it was describing an idea on how each country in the Arab bloc should lead in one or more economic sectors, and own that sector in the region.

The idea is simple; a country such as Egypt shouldn't be building factories in domains that it doesn't have economic advantage in, on the other hand, investment and manpower working in all 22 countries, should have open market in the country that "manages" this sector!

More detailed example:
If Saudi Arabia has an advantage, and hence "manages" petrochemical industries sector, then, it should manage all petrochemical industries in all 22 Arab countries, and, it should open its market to investments and workforce specialized in this sector from all 22 countries. No other country should compete with the country that manages certain sector in that economic sector, so all countries will complement rather than compete with each other.

In this model, each country will focus on sectors where it excels, leading to economies of scale, and more competetivenss worldwide.

I don't know how far we are from that goal; with European Union at 50, I think we should start taking notes, and draft our similar plans.

الخميس، 29 مارس 2007

Egypt: Extreme Luxury..!

I couldn't believe my eyes while watching this movie!

The project is really ambitious, the design is futuristic, and I hope it materializes.

One last thing is that the first phase is already sold out!!

We need more of this stuff in Egypt…

الأربعاء، 28 مارس 2007

They are also indoctrinating their kids to hate!!

I am posting this story dating back to last summer as a result of an anonymous comment on my previous post. I do believe that two wrongs don't make a right, but I also need to point out that engaging in sowing the seeds of hatred, is not only done by Arabs and Moslems, but also by others, in this case Israelis. The above photos tell the story clearly; you have children signing artillery shells before these are lobed into Lebanon killing probably similar children. Outright ignorant act on the side of the parents of these children who are bringing up their kids with the wrong value set. The following is the comment from the digger of this story:

"Israeli children sign bombs ready for Lebanon children
The saddest of all the images that have appeared on TV recently showing the horror of war were not the scenes of dead children, but the happy faces of the little Israeli children writing pleasant greetings and birthday wishes on big bombs meant for Lebanon
and signing their names to them....

Read more here, And here digg story

الاثنين، 26 مارس 2007

Indoctrinating our children to hate Jews

This video on YouTube is posted on the MEMRI site. It has been the reason behind banning the channel in France. In the video, the pathetic ignorant presenter is pushing the 3 yrs old kid to pronounce her hate to Jews, and citing the story of poisoning the prophet by Zeinab Bint AlHareth (Arabic link). This doesn't represent me, and I hope it doesn't represent the majority of Moslems either in Egypt or other Moslem countries. I felt disgusted after watching it. We shouldn't (and I hope most of us don't) hate Jews, or the followers of any religion! Our problem with Israel is about a piece of real estate. Stop turning it into a religious war...!

P.S. Did you note the veil worn by the 3 yrs old child????

الأحد، 25 مارس 2007

عبثية الجدل حول تعديل الدستور

الموضوع ده مكتوب عند بلوستون بعنوان
القهوة العالية: خللوه ....
وفيه بتتكلم على عبثية الجدل حول التعديلات الدستورية.

كلامها مضبوط مية في المية! الحكومة لما مبتحبش تحترم الدستور، بتقوم ضارباه بالجزمة، فمش فارقة!الفريق الأكثر نباحاً هم الأخوان الأظلاميين؛ هما فاقعهم فقرتين؛ الفقرة الأولى لأنها بتنص على حق المواطنة وتساوي المواطنين في الحقوق والواجبات، والمتحدث بتاعهم طلع في التلفزيون وقال نحن نرفض المواطنة لأنها كلمة "مطاطة"... والفقرة الخامسة بتاعة منع الأحزاب والدعاية السياسية على أساس ديني. وعلشان كده، انا صوتي مع التعديل الدستوري.

اما موضوع الأشراف القضائي على الأنتخابات، فبصراحة أولاً القضاة لم يستطيعوا منع التلاعب في الأنتخابات، ثانياً من ساعة الحكم على كريم وحكاية المستشار مراد وانا فقدت ثقتي في القضاء.

السبت، 24 مارس 2007

Egypt: the Aftermath of a Demographic Explosion

Demographic explosions differ from bomb explosions in two ways; first, their shrapnels' are in the form of millions of human beings walking "flying" around, and second, they don't happen in an instant, but rather over an extended period of time! However, they are in no way less lethal, in fact, they are much more lethal than bomb explosions, and we are living one of them in Egypt nowadays…

The signs of this explosion are everywhere (see photo above taken from Yacoubian Building movie); drive in Cairo streets and you will notice it, go to the crowded public schools (100pupil/class in some cases), ride the crowded public buses, take a turn in a public hospital, the list can go on and on…

In 1952, Egypt's population was about 20 million. The amount of water flowing into the Nile –which is about the only irrigation source we have, was about 56 Billion m3 on average (it wasn't constant because there was no dam). Today, in 2007, Egypt's population has crossed the 77 million mark and the amount of water flowing into the Nile is still 56 m3. Why isn't there famine? Escapes me..!

For too long, Egypt's population has been living on subsidies! Food & Fuel are heavily subsidized. Instead of spending money on research and universities, the government is forced to direct most of its revenues to make food affordable to the 1.5 million new babies every year. The bottle of formula milk is being sold at about US$ 0.7 while the actual price is about US$ 4.0. The price of fuel at the gas station is one of the cheapest in the world! It ranges from US$ 0.14 – 0.25/liter depending on the level of octane. I can go on, and on citing examples of heavily subsidized economy.

When the government tried to lift subsidies in 1977, there was a general uprising that was soon taken over by looters and thugs who burnt buses and shops across Egypt.

Of course, as time passes by, the level and quality of all these subsidized items is reaching new low every year. The total collapse of public health and education systems under the heavy weight of the population is a matter of time!

The government has tried for so long to convince people of the necessity of family planning. Large portions of the Egyptian populace rejected the idea on religious basis; Egyptian people are very religious, so the Moslems hung on to the Hadeeth (Prophit's Narrative) "Reproduce, I will be proud of you on the day of judgment" while Christians hung on to "Be fruitful and multiply". Some even think it’s a plot against Islam to ask people to plan families; however, these are the same who later complain that they don't have enough money to feed their 4 or 6 Children.

The recently publicized phenomenon of Street Children –estimated by some at 2 millions in Egypt, didn’t happen in one day; it took decades for the system to overflow. These children were brought to this life with the parents thinking that God will look after them; they will have their own Rizq (Bestowed from God)!

Some people are arguing day and night that the problem is mismanagement, and comparing Egypt to Japan, saying that Japan doesn't have any natural resources! That's a big misinformation! Japan has about 4000 m3 of water per capita (all flowing inside the country) compared to. 890 m3 in Egypt (99% flowing from outside the country). 29% of it's surface is agriculture (some of the most fertile lands the world), compared to less than 4% in Egypt, Japan has 65% of the country covered with forests (these are natural resources treasures), Egypt has 0% forests, Japan has 15% of the world fish production, I don't know the comparable figure for Egypt but I'm sure its insignificant.

In addition, one of the most important motives for perfection and production in Japan is the culture, they have a culture that glorifies work and invention as opposed to our culture that glorifies worship in a way that makes people leave their work and pray en masse during working hours in a national bank leaving frustrated customers waiting for half an hour as shown below, and discussed on another post in this blog!

If you compare Egypt to any African country, you will find that Egypt is much poorer in natural resources than most of these countries. Try DRC, Kenya, Tanzania, Central Africa, etc…

Another myth that is often mentioned as a reason for Egypt's underdevelopment is theft and corruption. While Egypt does have corruption, it is by no means among the highest in the world (look at oil rich Nigeria), in addition, we have an excellent system of audit that captures significant corruption cases (General Organization for Auditing/Accounting), and insignificant corruption such as passing cigarettes or LE10 to a public clerk to finish a transaction is definitely not the most significant impediment to development. The other funny thing is that large sections of the population believe that Mubarak and his family are diverting billions of public money to Swiss banks in their names, and that’s why Egypt is not doing well! These are just unfounded rumors that were never substantiated. I haven't seen Mubarak or his sons on the cover of Forbes Magazine!

Our major impediment to progress is the expanding population. Having more than two kids per family is a crime against the country because that family will ask the rest of us to pay for the subsidies of their food, education, energy, health, etc…

Egypt cannot sustain 1.5 million new souls every year, it is going to collapse, that means the current per capita income of US$ 1440 will start regressing, the debt will start rising again, the percentage of imported food will increase again, Tourism and Suez Canal revenues will not suffice to fill the gap in the balance of trade.

People of Egypt, my fellow citizens, you have been forewarned!

الجمعة، 23 مارس 2007

the Apple iRack - Hilarious, you gotta see this!


Hilarious video from MadTV!

But seriously, I think that W jeopardized world peace by invading Iraq under the pretext of looking for the non-existent WMDs. He has created a terrorist-magnet state, and destroyed the lives of millions of innocent Iraqis in the process. Sadam Hussein was evil; there is no doubt about it! He massacred Kurds in 1988, and Shiet who revolted against him in 1991, in addition to other Iraqis of all denominations. He also attacked Iran and caused a senseless war that lasted for 8 years killing more than one million people and shattering the lives of more millions. He transformed his oil-rich state into a poor state. He deserves to be ousted and brought to justice, however, that had to come from within not through an American invasion. In all fairness, he also wasn't in anyway supporting Al-Qaeda, despite what some neocons want you to believe. And that war has distracted the world from the real war against Al-Qaeda and their supporters back in Afghanistan.

الخميس، 22 مارس 2007

Egypt: More Sectarian Polarization..?!

In 1986, during the time of interior minister Ahmed Rushdi –arguably the best ever to hold this post, cars started to wear bumper/windshield stickers that display religious affiliations of the drivers! In what I perceive as a high level of patriotism, the government took a decision to activate a law that bans all sorts of bumper/windshield stickers in order to minimize what can lead to sectarian friction.

This phenomenon is coming back, and much stronger. The photo above shows one of the most common stickers on show in Egyptian streets these days. It has the Moslem Shihada "There is No God but Allah, Mohamed is his Messenger". Similar, though smaller stickers are also shown on Christian's cars identifying clearly the affiliation of the driver in the same way.

Something has to be done!

الخميس، 15 مارس 2007

9/11: Time to put conspiracy theories to rest

The confessions of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (wiki) of his responsibility of masterminding the attacks of 9/11 (among other crimes) should put to rest any doubts our people have about this plot. I think we should accept responsibility for having a system to produce these evil minds.

At least 50% of any group I discuss the events of 9/11 with would suspect that the real story wasn't told, and that these infamous 19 murderers were not the true killers on that date. Some would compromise by admitting that these are the true killers, but someone else mislead them (of course the usual culprits in Arab minds...).

The excellent reporter Yousri Fouda, presented numerous programs describing how Al-Qaeda was able to pull-off the 9/11 attacks, such as here where he discusses with a panel of experts the details of the plot, and here where Bin Laden brags about his knowledge of the origins of each of the 19 hijackers. He also had a one on one interview with Sheikh Mohamed shortly before his arrest in Pakistan, however the transcript of this program seems to have been removed from Al-Jazeera site.
I think it is about time to believe that there are no cover-ups, and that we should do something about our education system to prevent this system from producing such criminals.

الثلاثاء، 13 مارس 2007

Egypt: Nostalgia to better times...


I came accross the following video of Princess Fawzia daughter of the late King Fouad, and sister of the late King Farouq. she was the was the first wife the late Shah of Iran. She is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen, but also was involved in a lot of charity works.

I haven't lived the days of the monarchy, but from what I read, it was the golden age of Egypt, however, in all fairness, population reached only 20 millions, with the same resources we have now, water is almost the same, the effects of the extra water we got after the Aswan dam were offset by the reduction in soil fertility caused by the disappearance of sedimentation blocked by the dam. Again, to be fair, pauverty in the south was much more that it is now! It was close to slavery!

In the fourties, Egypt had a very strong economy with a real industrial revolution thanks to world war two, and the strategic position of Egypt. in 1949, Egypt built the first locally manufactured plane! can you imagine how far we regressed!!!

الأحد، 11 مارس 2007

A Match Made in Heaven?! Ann Coulter & Ayman Zawahry for World Peace…

This is a late night post, I feel high, although I am not on anything! Just had this great idea to solve world problems!!! –since I am thinking all the time about how to achieve world peace ;-) Why don't we match Ann Coulter, the ultra-conservative, outspoken, AKA feminine Rush Limbaugh, to one of the heads of the ultra-conservative, terrorists, "Dr." Ayman Al-Zawahri? All she would have to do is to lay down and think of England! Oops, I mean think of world peace! It’s a small price to pay… don't you think?
They are more compatible then you think! They are both narrow minded, bigots, and although she is not a murderer like him, but she can learn! They both hate homosexuals (as displayed by Ann's latest remarks!), but what they both agree on the most is their hate of liberals, in fact, she wrote her best seller book " Godless: The Church of Liberalism (June 2006)" which echoes many of Zawahri beliefs (just switch Christianity with Islam in her book), while he wrote the other best "distributed" since it wasn't published except probably in Talibanistan, "Knights under the Prophet's Banner: the al-Qaeda Manifesto (Kandhahar University Press, ?)".

The bride and groom will have a very nice wedding party attended by these right wing, trigger happy, dignitaries;
Who will have some fireworks to celebrate the golden cage ...
But eventually, with more marriages of these type, right wingers on all sides will cool down, and world peace will prevail...

http://www.anncoulter.com/ (for her views)

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0PBZ/is_1_85/ai_n14695417 (Zawahry's book review)

Egypt: Judge to file a law suite to block 21 blogs!!

Just read this on Arabawi, in which he translates a letter from Amr Gharbia stating that Judge Abdel Fattah Morad, head of Alexandria Appeal Court, has started a lawsuit against the government in Egypt’s Administrative Courts in order to block a number of Egyptian websites including a list of 21 blog sites. If this is true, it will be a catastrophic event for freedom of expression in Egypt. This judge is the same that is suppose to preside over the court that will hear the appeal of Kareem, and is a known plagiarist (Arabic link) in his book about the Internet.

The government is innocent of this crime if it is for real; the real conspirator here is a judge, and the lawsuit is against the government. I wish I can scan his brains and find how was he educated? was he severly beaten as a child? did he have to endure hardships in his life that made him hate freedom? just some thoughts!

السبت، 10 مارس 2007

Egypt: Petition to Amend Article 2 of the Constitution

In a strong gesture, 100 of Egypt's elite –mostly Moslem- politicians, writers, professors, lawyers, etc... Signed a petition pleading with President Mubarak, the legislators, the political parties, NGOs, and the people of Egypt to interfer and amend article 2 of the constitution within the package of amendments being currently discussed in the parliament. Article 2 states that "Islamic Shariy'a is the main source of legislation". This article was introduced in its current form in 1980 by the late President Sadat who sought to counter leftists and communists by inflating the power of religious groups who later turned against him and killed him.

The petition was distributed by Egypt's Center for Human Rights (a local NGO). In the letter, the activists stated that declaring a particular religion for the state is against the supposedly neutral status of the state, which belongs to different religions not mentioned by the Egyptian constitution. This has resulted in rulings that denied some
Egyptian citizens the right to state their beliefs, leaving them with the only option to change or lie about their beliefs to get official documents such as IDs. Here is a "hard" translation of the text of the petition I found on the follwing source:

The 1980 amendment that declared Islamic Shariy'a to be the main source of legislation does not state any other sources for this purpose which makes it the only source. This has been used in reality by the Constitutional Court in related rulings, besides, legislations in any country are formed by a mix between elements inspired by its accumulated civilizations and responding to the needs of development of the society in space and time. No one argues that Islamic Civilization forms a main source in the cultural composition of Egyptians, however, it is not the only component otherwise it will erase the other contributions -such as Pharaonic, Coptic, and others- in forming the conscience, and culture of Egyptians.

As much as it is not possible to abstract the Islamic Civilization only in the legislations that this civilization has produced at a certain era, nor is it possible to abstract it by one of the many political trends that flourished in that era. Hence, it is imperative that the text [of the constitution] reflects that historical and contemporary fact, to avoid being accused of working to force the rulings of certain religion on those who do not believe in it in contradictions to all international treaties for human rights to which Egypt is a signatory, hence ignoring the presence of other religions and beliefs in the Egyptian society with different rulings, degrading the value of these beliefs and religions, and their followers. This fact has its reflection in social and political day-to-day life, and in court rulings, deepening the feelings of injustice and insignificance by other religions and beliefs' followers, and increasing the feelings of superiority and contempt to others by the other party.

The experience of a quarter of a century since the introduction of this amendment shows that this amendment was a factor -besides other factors- in the decline of the supposedly neutral role of the state towards its citizens, and in breaching the right of equality without regard to religion, which has become an incontestable reality no one can deny no matter how large or small this inequality is in all aspects of life be it social, cultural, political, economical (including Banking and Stock Exchange), and the spread of an environment of extremism, on the account of freedom of scientific research, innovation, artistic and literary creativity. Educational material, and government owned media outlets became a prime source for spreading religious xtremism to the extent that the ministry of endowment published a book pronouncing the followers of other religion to be infidels, and that their money and blood are fair game.

In order not to misunderstand the signatories of this petition, the undersigned emphasize the fact that Islam is the religion of the majority of citizens, and that the general values and principals of religions are some of the important sources of legislation, in a way that does not conflict with Egypt's international obligations according to international human rights treaties, nor should this conflict with the rights of citizenship, and all civil rights that doesn't depend on the individual's religion, and it is important that all government body be neutral towards the [different] religions and beliefs and their followers.

The undersigned appreciate the good intentions behind the proposal to add the "Principal of Citizenship" in article one of the constitution, they note that this amendment doesn't provide any tangible constitutional guarantees, especially in the presence of article 2 as it is, which makes amending this
article a necessity.

The undersigned include Dr. Refaat El-Saeed (Tajamoo Party), Hussein Abdel-Razik (General Secretary Tajamoo Party), Farida El-Naqash (editor of Ahaly newspaper), Bahyeldin Hassan (Cairo Center for Human Rights), Ahmed Higazy (poet), Sayed Al Qemni (thinker), Father Ikram Lmaey (Professor of comparative religions), Gamal El-Bana thinker and islamic missionary), Hafez AbouSeada (National Center for Human Rights) Ahmed Seif Al-Islam (manager of Hisham Mubarak for law), Dawood Abdel Sayed (movie director) Dr. Gaber Asfour (former head of supereme councel for antiquity) Mahmoud Amin El-Alem thinker), Mohamed Nouh Musician) Dr. Hala Mostafa (editor in chief of Democracy magazine), Dr. Fouad Abdel-Menaem Riyadh (National Council for Human Rights), Nigad El-Boray (Democracy Developement Group), Mohsen Lotfy ElSayed (chairman of Masr El-Om party - pending approval), Dr. Kasem Abdou (head of History Department), Sameh Fawzy (Writer & Political Analyst), Magdy Khalil (Political Activist), Adel Al-Gendy (Writer), Nabil Sharaf eldin, Maged Ateya, Nabil Zaki, Ahmed Samih(manager Andalus Center for Tolrerance Studies), Mohamed Zarea (manager of Arab Organization for Criminolgy Reform) Moataz Al Fogairy (program manager - Cairo Center), Gamal Eid (manager - Arab Network for Human Rights Studies), Hosam Bahgat (Manager - Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights).




الجمعة، 9 مارس 2007

A Tale of Two Egypts;

If you follow the different debates taking place in Egypt these days will come to one conclusion: There are two, maybe three, totally different, mutually exclusive, Egypts!!!

The first Egypt has about 5-10% of the population; they are the ones you see shopping in City Stars, and Maadi City Center shopping malls, they go to Cairo Opera House concerts, follow the latest fashion, mostly well educated, and have an ideal vision of Egypt. In Cairo region, they usually live in Zamalek, Garden City, Dokki, Mohandessin, Ma'adi, Moqatam, Helipolis, and Madinet Nasr in the city, or in suburbs such as Qatameiya Heights, Dreamland, Beverly Hills, Mansouria etc…

They are members of elite socio-sportive clubs such as Gezira, Heliopolis, Maadi, Shams, Zohour, and the new clubs like Wadi Degla, and Dreamland. They speak the same language, share the same aspirations, they come largely from the middle and upper middle classes, both Moslems, and Christians, although they range from mildly religious to atheists. They are the ones who are behind the movement to amend article 2 in the constitution as one of the amendments the government is trying to pass (AP Report). This article was introduced in its current form by the late president Sadat to counter Communism and Nasserism, and it states that "Islamic Shariy'a as the main source of legislation in Egypt."

The former Gama'a Islamiya member, and current leader in the Moslem Brotherhood Dr. Issam El-Eryan provided fresh ammunitions to the critics of this article by saying that only religious parties (or groups such as MB) are the ones that truly respect the constitution since they are the only ones following article 2!!!

The latest onslaught by this first Egypt to amend article 2 was in the form of a petition signed by 100 of the society's thinkers and educated elite demanding the removal or amendment of article 2, since it contradicts the principle of citizenship, and equality.

The second Egypt is composed of 10–15% of the population who are devoted Moslems with large percentage of former and current expatriates in the Gulf countries, and a small percentage of Christians. They try to follow their religion -according to tough interpretations- to the letter. For most of them, life is tough, but it doesn't matter, since life is just a phase in existance. Among this Egypt, there is a small percentage of these who are wealthy enough -either from overseas remittances or retail trade activities- to build mosques, fund social services attached to these mosques -such as MB financiers recently arrested.

Numerous websites (example) from the second Egypt dedicated their efforts to counter and ridicule the petition to amend article 2. They would have wanted it even amended to the other direction by adding the word "the only source of legislation" instead of the "the main source of legislation."

The reason behind the explosion of religiousness in Egypt is simple; the government has shutdown any form of political gathering for so long! The only available network for indoctrination became the mosque or the church! You don't have to be educated; you don't have to commute for large distances; you just walk to the house of worship even at the university where political activities are banned. University mosques have been used over and over again in political mobilization by what used to be known as the Islamic Front students.

Between the two Egypts, there is a sea of indifferent people who don't have the time or the energy to fight for either direction they don't vote in legislative elections, presidential elections, referendum, etc... They are lost in their 16 hours, 2 or 3 job workdays, and their daily struggle to provide food and shelter. For them, the first Egypt is repulsive, since it represents the wealthy ones who have everything. Deep down, they feel that the people of the first Egypt should suffer like them. They would have formed a perfect prolitaria for a communist nation.

I remember one day, a French friend and co-researcher told me that he is surprised that poor people are not revolting against rich people in Egypt because of the big gap! His surprise might disappear soon, since signs of social friction are starting to appear with wealthy people moving out of the city and living in gated communities, and the majority of Egyptians lose hope in getting a better life on earth, and start working to guarantee a place in the afterlife heaven.

In my view, the solution to reunify the many Egypts into one Egypt again is a mixture of improvement policies that should amount to revolutions in the following fields; education, population control, regional equalities, cultural change. The political system should change.

الأربعاء، 7 مارس 2007

Mubarak should go to Iraq in solidarity against the cult of blood thirsty butchers!

I browsed through some of the main Arab newspapers to find what I was expecting! Nothing! No strong words! Only mild protests against the massacres of Shyiaa pilgrims in Hela, and Karbala, Iraq. I don't know what religion or sect if any justifies the butchery of innocent pilgrims on their way to pay what they consider a religious duty.

I am filled with anger and disappointment. I can't find a rationale for our governments and our people who filled the air against the massacres committed by Israel in South Lebanon in July! Although, at least, these were in response to military activities by Hizbollah, while the Iraq massacres are totally unprovoked.

Some of the Arab population are mislead to thinking that what's happening in Iraq is resistance to occupation! This misleading is done by the media! And guess what, I came accross some bloggers are also circulating Zarqawi's terror materials on the Internet, spreading hatred against Shiaa Moslems, including lies about their sect.

What's more sad is that these low lives went about their butchery thinking that they will get laid with 72 virgins as a reward to the carnage they left behind! How many kids became orphans? How many men and women became widows? How many mothers and fathers lost their loved ones?????

I dream that Mubarak will take a strong stand against this nonsense and pay a condolence visit to Iraq as a proper gesture in support of the unity of Iraq, and against those murderers. He shouldn't give any weight to the line of thought that such visit could be interpreted as a blessing to the occupation. This is not as important as showing the Iraqi people that we care about them, and that their blood, no matter what sect they follow, is dear to us. But I am sure my dreams will only stay like this; dreams…

الاثنين، 5 مارس 2007

Cairo; an Unfriendly Travel Guide!

I came across the Lonely Planet Destination Guide's entry for Cairo. I have to say that I was surprised to read the description of my beloved city in such an unfriendly and inaccurate way! The guy who wrote the description must have had a very tough experience there. Read on the description below which I quote as written on their site and let me know what you think!

Cairo isn't a gentle city. Home to more than 16 million Egyptians, Arabs, Africans and sundry others, the 'Mother of the World' is an all-out assault on the senses. Chaotic, noisy, polluted, totally unpredictable and seething with people, the sheer intensity of the city will either seduce or appal.

Cairo doesn't have the resources for graceful boulevards and
cobbled squares and the kind of dolled-up, prettified buildings that cry out to be photographed and stuck in an album. Historic buildings are buried in age-old quarters of the city that have yet to be tamed and made tourist-friendly.

When To Go
Cairo has only two seasons: summer and 'not-summer'. Given the choice, you're far better off visiting during 'not-summer', a period that stretches roughly from September to April or May.

It's also worth considering the timing of the various Muslim festivals when planning your trip. During Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, many businesses work half-days, museums and tourist sites shut early and many restaurants only open after sundown. Alcohol is rarely served outside hotels and you may have to show a passport to prove that you're not Egyptian (they're forbidden from drinking in public places throughout the month).

السبت، 3 مارس 2007

Zindani: We cured people from AIDS!!!

I just watched a program on Al-Jazeera TV channel where the guest of the show, the Yemeni Sheikh Abdul-Majid Al-Zindani (wiki), claimed to have cured AIDS in 10 out of 13 cases that came to him. The Sheikh, who is labeled by the US as "specially designated global terrorist" founded the university where John Walker Lindh has studied before heading to Afghanistan to join Taliban.

He went on to say that the cure was made based on Prophet Muhammed's teachings (Hadeeth & Sunna). He also said that he had two papers published in two conferences, and that he is taking steps to patent the cure, and will reveal it afterwards.

الجمعة، 2 مارس 2007

"Chicago": The new novel by Dr. Alaa Al-Aswani

In his new novel titled "Chicago", Dr Alaa Al-Aswani was successful in displaying the inner personality of his Egyptian characters. Like his previous novel "Yacobian Building" , "Chicago" made it to the bestsellers list in Egypt. Although the name of the novel is of the famous American city, it mostly portrays the relationship among several Egyptian graduate students studying medicine at the University of Illinois. There are other elements in the story including the American professors and Egyptian American professors who immigrated around the 60s and 70s, with their different views of the American culture, ranging from fully adapting it, to living with it without fully comprehending it.

It took me 3 days to finish the 450 pages novel. I was really glued to its portrayal of the life of Egyptian students abroad especially since I was one of them few years ago. In a way, I can identify similar characters I met during my graduate study years. You get the feeling that the author has spent some time researching the environment -the city of Chicago- and the University itself. However, on recent interview on the famous BBC show Hardtalk Extra, the author revealed that he himself studied there, which explains his excellent description of the place where the story is happening. He was earlier interviewed on National Geographics where he also revealed many sides of his personality.

Reading through, you get a better understanding of the conflict in the main characters' minds. In a way, he is exposing the Egyptian cultural struggle for identity, a struggle that is going on these days all around us, but is more visible when we are exposed to the higher-level western civilization.