Monday, July 31, 2006

Freedom is Radio Blogging with Gateway Pundit

On Saturday, July 22, I had the honor to be Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit guest for one hour on air to talk about Danish cartoons, the situation in Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and so many other Middle East related topics. It was truly an exciting experience to be with Gateway.

He is doing it every Saturday. He always makes announcements for his show and his guests. You can listen to his show on the internet. It comes via Wide Awakes Radio.

It is just another experience that tells you what a small world we are living in. Jim was in St. Louis, I was in Washington, DC, and the radio is broadcasting from California. I really wish that faster and easier technological proximity can connect humans better.

Thanks Jim for inviting me to your show. It was great to be your guest!

Last Friday Gateway Pundit was interviewed by STLmedia and wrote an article about his efforts in the blogosphere, highlighting his different daily life talents. He mentioned a couple of international bloggers. I felt so flattered to be one of them.

Leilouta, Freedom and Nouri in a Moroccan Restaurant in DC

Two weeks ago, I met with the incredible Tunisian blogger Leilouta and Nouri in a Moroccan restaurant in DC. I thought we made a perfect alliance for the North African bloggers. I always wanted to have a Tunisian friend for all the social freedoms and openness I heard about in Tunisia and here is Leilouta. Nouri was the youngest among us all. I do not know how Algerians look like but apparently Nouri is a mix. He can be many things other than being an American/Algerian. Good for you man! I forgot to ask him how Algerian men look like. He could pass for an Egyptian, easy.

Leilouta and her husband are one of the most admirable couples I met in the States. They truly make a wonderful example for a couple and above all for that that bridge between the west and the east. Two worlds we might think will never meet, especially in view of all the current events around us.

The best part about the Moroccan restaurant was the belly dancing part. It was great. I felt I am so home. Part of my Egypt has just moved to DC that night to fill me with happiness and joy.

The only part that made me feel I am still in DC and not in Cairo is the reaction of the audience to the belly dancer. In Egypt, when a belly dancer starts dancing everyone starts clapping and some stand up to dance. It was only me and Leilouta who were giving the right reactions but I guess we knew why. We were the only two persons who are familiar with how should belly dancing should be treated. Leilouta gave her Tunisian ululation (zaghareet). Egyptians have a very recognizable one as well but regrettably I do not know how to do it. We do it in all weddings as a sign of happiness and way to declare that a celebration is taking place. The belly dancer was dancing on Egyptian music and that really made my night. I did not hear Hakim since a long time ago in a party. She was dancing on one of his songs.

I only regret that I forgot my digital cam to take pictures for the belly dancer, next time!

I borrowed this picture for Leilouta and Nouri from here. I refused to take pictures. I am in that mood since at four months that I do not want to take pictures, I do not know why. I was a photo manic until few months ago.

Individualism Will Leave Societies "On the Ash Heap of History"

Two articles were published by the Washington Post on Egypt during the month of June that I would like to refer to here, not only for their content but for what they represent. One is “Democracy Policy in Ashes” by Joshua Muravchik and “The Wrong Way to Sway Egypt” by Jon B. Alterman. I am by no means not putting the two articles for comparison but rather examples for my blog post. I am sure that you will also enjoy reading them.

Think tank institutes or centers regardless of their affiliations or orientations are a culture that really does not exist in the Middle East countries for reasons that are related to the exiting political systems. These think tanks are powerful places that influence the decision making process in the United States. Because people find several ways to express themselves at the different levels, think tanks are just a natural emergence to the general atmosphere of freedom of expression that takes a political nature. You may agree with their political orientations or not, but their existence says something.

We sing the song of the empowerment of the civil society in Egypt and how essential is it for the development process. Think tanks are another face for a very active civil society that represents a sector of citizens that are efficiently and highly engaged with what is happening in the U.S and worldwide.

In the Middle East countries as the decision-making process takes a centralized form, peoples of the region tend to believe that the same system is applied everywhere. Their analytical skills tend always to pinpoint one sole person as a responsible which is true for their cases but not in the western world. They fail to dig deep enough to analyze systems or political ideologies created by parties or powerful groups that know how to lobby and sell their ideas in their countries, something that never happens except under clearly defined political systems.

Another different note that I would like to point to here is that the Washington Post despite its fame worldwide, it is a controversial paper in the U.S, in a positive way. Some Americans in some instances tend to like it or dislike it according to their political affiliations. Egyptians tend to read the articles in the Washington Post as if they represent the opinion of the entire United States. The reality is completely the opposite. Another important difference that I would like to point to here is that in the U.S, the individual attains a very important status. It is the culture of the individual. Political life in the U.S. unlike the Middle East countries consists of layers of very precious individuals to their country that tend to group, de-group and re-group to serve their agreed upon goals that should serve the United States’ interests at the end. The common notion among most Egyptians is that one sole person who rules the United States which I consider a projection to the reality of the Middle East countries in general. The President of the United States acts within the consititutional rights bestowed upon and exceeding his limits might put him into trouble.

I believe that there will be no true understanding between countries of different economic and developmental positions except with bringing the political systems a bit closer bit by bit to avoid these halos of hatred and aggression that continue to grow among countries. Hatred that mounted to the levels of terrorism.

Muravchik is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is writing a book about Middle Eastern democrats.

Alterman directs the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

De Heise Online on Egypt

German De Heise Online had this article on Egypt and President Mubarak titled "Das mit den Reformen ist nun vorbei" by Alfred Hackensberger. It included several different topics from Yacoubian Building to the freedom of expression in Egypt among other important topics. The article had a link to my blog, using me as a reference that drew traffic to my blog.

The world attention will continue to set eyes on Egypt's progress and slackness... We better be careful... but who listens...

Summer Marriage Shopping

I was talking with one of my Egyptian girlfriends in Cairo few days ago about a new suitor who proposed to her. Sounds like an interesting story that should have a happy ending. In fact, it is a horror story and just tells me how many values in our Egyptian society is so mixed up and confused. I felt so sorry.

She told me that her mom asked her to visit with her one of her friends. My friend was well-intentioned and went with her mom. But of course there was a surprise waiting for her. Fine, arranged marriages are among the most popular forms of marriage in Egypt.

My friend wants to marry a guy whom she falls in love with. That’s sounds to me so normal and the right thing to do especially when it comes to spending your life with someone. May be me and my friend are from this old-fashioned school that belives that the only basis for marriage is love. We are so outdated now.

She could not take the guy and told the friend of her mom her position of marriage. Everything until now is ok. What was not ok is the reaction of this woman who arranged this meeting. My friend was in shock and I was shocked when I heard the story as well. I thought it is because I have been away from my home for sometime. The guy is very rich and he lives abroad and he is visiting Egypt to shop for a bride in the summer. The woman told her you can marry him, setting some conditions before signing the marriage contract. She told her you can try him if you do not like him, you will have him make you a transfer of some of his properties and money and this way you do not lose anything and you do not waste your time. I am not so sure here what did she mean? Is this guy or a fridge that my friend will have at her place to try for sometime and she can return and get back her cash? What’s wrong with you my people?

Friday, July 14, 2006

Israel Rolls Up Sleeves to Hit Damascus

I am actually on holiday and I have intentionally made limited access to technology, however a war has just started in my neighborhood. I felt there is a need to write. However as I mentioned in my previous blog, I will be back to regular blogging, emailing late next week.

I am not going to write about the sequence of events and how crazy to kill the civilians, I will leave that to the human rights organizations and other political parties concerned.

What I am going to write might annoy many of my readers but this is how I am seeing what is happening.

The truth is that Syria is the only country meant by Israeli war. Lebanon is the scapegoat and the prelude to the escalation that will lead at the end to hitting Syria. I hope I am wrong.

Syria’s regime has always played its cards under the table while maintaining other players on the stage to act on its behalf. The sole defender, protector and creator of the failure that’s called pan-Arabism is Syria. The project that has brought despotism, dictatorship and failed regimes to rule in the Middle East was created by this fascist regime. Time for a confrontation…

The true axes of pan-Arabism were Iraq and Egypt and Currently Syria. After the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraq was liberated from the despotism of the project of the Pan-Arabism. Egypt, though during the past 25 years under President Honsi Mubarak was the sole defender of Syria, was saved when President Anwar Sadat signed a peace treaty that protected and stopped the bloodshed. Syria is the only regime that is maintaining the corruption and the hatred embedded in this project.

Syria has maintained strong grip on Lebanon to suck its money economically and sheltered Hizbullah figures and leaderships. Syria had never worked towards a path that should lead to peace and prosperity for its people or the neighnbouring countries. Terrorists are inflitrating to Iraq through Syria. Car bombs are exploding in Lebanon killing key figures by the Syrian intelligence as investigation reports hinted.

After the declaration of the plans for the greater Middle East, the United States made its to way Iraq and pulled Saddam Hussein from a hole in the ground. However, the United States did not plan on grabbing every dictator in the Middle East from a hole in the ground. Israel assumed an inactive role since the war on terrorism has started. It was inactive until few days. However, I always thought Israel will play its role with Syria sooner or later. The day has come. Israel p now plans to hit Damascus. The escalation is intentional. Arabs’ lack of long term strategy will help Israel play its role.

Along the history, it is well known that the Middle East was not handed from one empire to another except at least with the fall of two capitals; Baghdad was one and Damascus is coming!
The Arab propaganda media machines have already started beating the drums, glorifying the might of Hizbullah and Hamas, calling them a resistance. Well, let the Arab media play the people as usual. I am not surprised. Let’s not Aljazeera channel when it was airing the Iraqi Information minister Al Sahhaf who was saying lies all the time about how they are stopping the US army until cameras showed the US troops behind his back asking him to surrender. Dictator regimes/leaders are capable of creating out of reality heroes. That’s the only thing they can do to their people. Israel is a nuclear country. Hizbullah army is not self-sufficient. Hamas government could not pay the salaries and had to beg for money from the EU and Arab Gulf rich countries.

I am afraid Israel will finish its job regardless of who says what. The decision has been taken.

The Lebanese and the Palestinian peoples will be paying a dear price for all the failures of the leadership to establish a decent life for them. The world has started to show zero tolerance for acts that cannot interpreted by the human logic, like suicide bombing or kidnappings which are the only means that groups like Hamas and Hizbullah use to fight their enemies.

I am bitterly realistic because of the horrific nightmare that the peoples of the region are living right now.

I am afraid the Middle East region will continue to be on the roller coaster, I do not know until when…...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Independence Day in DC, Happy Fourth!

I believe that part of living in the United States is experiencing the American life or spirit. Parades on national occasions in the U.S. are family get-togethers and a true celebration. Adults and children are dressed with the colors of the American flag or having flags in their hands to wave. I had never seen such a great love. There were two young girls next me cheering the bands as if they were in a staduim according to my Egyptian standards. They did not look as if they were celebrating a major national occasion. It is a country that gave a lot to its citizens. So you could feel that the people here take pride in being U.S. citizens and being part of this nation. One of the things that I have noticed in U.S. parades that some nationalities that became Americans take the chance to celebrate as well in the name of their countries to stress the friendship bond between the U.S. and their native country. I think it is a way also to express gratitute to the U.S for being their adopting country. I saw the Taiwanese and filipino Americans in the parades with both their countries and U.S. flags saying Happy Birthday to the U.S. The last thing I can say it about American parades that it is about the love; the love of the crowds and everyone participating in the parade. It is so in the air and no one can miss it. The last real parade in Egypt took the life of our late President Anwar Sadat on October 6,1981. Sometimes the Egyptian government pretent to do parades during spring time but nobody cares. So really I cannot compare the American parades to anything I have ever experienced in my life in Egypt.

Here are some picturs I took today at Constitution Avenue in Washington DC today. I am now resting at home, getting ready for the fireworks. Happy Independence Day to everyone!

U.S. Army forces
U.S. Army forces.

U.S. men and women in uniform made a wonderful presence and were cheered by the crowed.

This car had two persons dressed up as President Abe Lincoln at one side and President George Washington at the other side, but you cannot see him. I was standing at the Lincoln side.
Some war veterans waving to the people.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Freedom will be Back

It has been a while since I blogged. I also apologize for not being being to respond to your emails but I all do very soon. I know there is a lot to catch up with, I am missing a lot. I guess it is summer time rhythm but also I am crazy busy these days. I will be explaining later. I guess I ll be less committed after mid-July. However, I promise to be back to blogging before that!

Happy FOURTH to all my friends in the United States!!! This is not a fireworks celebration as it may seem, it is the celebration of one of the most important documents produced by humanity. It is the Declaration of Independence...


That was my first blog post on June 25, 2005: Egypt's history reversed 300 years since 1952! And I am still as proud as ever..