Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Global Voices..

See Update below, Global Voices Responds

I do not know why Global Voices is insisting on referring to me as "He writes" here and here. I am a very proud "She" by the way:) I resent the treatment of being reduced to a "He" with all due respect to all the "He"s:) ..... Just a remark, because every time I read "He writes", I really laugh......


My blog post did not mean really pointing at mistakes, I was saying it jokingly, the most important thing is spreading the word. I am taking the opportunity to applaud the work of Global Voices. They are incredibly doing a great job trying to bring all those Middle Eastern bloggers together in one place when each one of them is having his/her agenda. Global voices is relentlessly promoting freedom of expression and speech, an effort that generally faces lots of obstacles when it comes to the ME. I am thanking Amira Al Hussaini, the MENA regional editor, for her prompt response to my post.... Here is part of her response...

"Dear Freedom,

My name is Amira Al Hussaini and I am the MENA regional editor for Global Voices Online (GVO). I am sorry I keep referring to you as he and have corrected the mistake. I came across your 'objection' as I was skimming through the blogs this morning trying to pick interesting posts for linking them to GVO. Finding links is a tedious chore, considering I have the whole of the Middle East and North Africa to scan for interesting blogs! Had I not seen your concern, I would have continued doing the same mistake again as I really like what you write and the valuable points you raise. Having said this, we are only human and if we are not told that what we are doing is wrong, we will never be able to see through our mistakes. Thanks again for understanding. ......."

Sitting In for Gateway Pundit Thursday and Friday

Friends and Foes, I will be posting on Gateway Pundit some blog posts as of tomorrow. I do not have the same prolific writing skills as Jim, but I will try to do my best. I ll probably be doing some cross-posting about Egypt with no readers' abuse... guaranteed.... FFE.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith in Egypt

The American media outlets have been covering the death of the popular playboy model Anna Nicole Smith for weeks now. The diva gave birth to her new baby girl late last year and died all of a sudden in an hotel early this month at the age of 39. It was a shock to most of the people given her fame, popularity and young age. It was said that she could not take her teenager son’s death who died when she was in the hospital giving birth to her baby girl.

As most of you know how media in the U.S. is so focused on America, Smith became the story number one on most of TV cable news channels, especially after the row on where she should be buried. The judge few days ago ruled that she will be buried next to her son in Bahamas. Smith is an example to the American life in the sense that she is that ordinary girl who grew up in this tiny village in Texas who made it to the world of fame in Hollywood and everywhere in the U.S.

To be honest, I had no interest at all to follow hours and hours covering her death and the burial lawsuit in court. But one thing drew my attention through out all American media coverage to the story. This woman was into the playboy world of fame, however there was no one single story judging her based on morality, religion or ethics.

The upcoming row in court after resolving the burial issue is the daughter parentage. There are three men who are claiming to be the daughter’s father. This means that the three men slept with her during a very short period of time that the three of them are now fighting over the daughter. However, no one in the United States is judging Smith or trying to deviate into personal talk about her private life. Everyone is respecting the fact that the case is in court and no one is giving extra interpretation to the incident on how dare she to sleep with three men and cause all this confusion. Literally everyone is minding his own business.

I am imagining if Smith was in the Egyptian media, oh my God, the press would have literally slaughtered her and her family. The press would have kept coming up with stories since her 7th grandfather who was also running a prostitution network. The society would have ruined the future of her daughter forever and never giving her a chance to live normally. Everyone will have the right to talk about her private life, judging her based on moral and religious issues. Morality will be the judge. Religion will be the sword.

The family will disown her forever. Probably all her family members would have cut their relationship with her since she started modeling for playboy. The word "playboy" does not exist in the dictionary of Egyptian families to begin with. If she has sisters, they will never get married because their sister disgraced the family forever.

Males in the family would have died to sleep with her, but never letting their women mingle with her, fearing that she will corrupt them with her shameless acts.

If Smith’s daughter was in Egypt, let me tell you that she will have to spend her entire life to prove that she has a father in the first place. Whoever this father is, he will continue to deny her because she “ben haram”, a daughter who came out of a wedlock. Currently in the American courts, there are three men fighting over the daughter. He will have to be one of them anyway. If the daughter was in Egypt, she will be stigmatized forever by the fact that her mom slept with a man and conceived her outside wedlock. The daughter will be denied the social recognition forever and will be treated as an outcast.

If she were in Egypt, Anna Nicole Smith will never be treated as a playboy model. People like her in Egypt are defined as whores or part of a prostitution networks who have police records and are subject to arrest and humiliation at anytime.

March 12 set For Egyptian Blogger Abdel Kareem's Appeal Court Hearing

Here is the news from the Washington Post. More support and presence are still needed for Egyptian blogger Abdel Kareem who writes under the name of Karim Amer. Kareem was sentenced last Thursday four years in prison for insulting Islam and the President of Egypt.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

It Is a Real Sad Day!

This morning, I checked the news of Egyptian Blogger Abdel kareem Nabil Soliman Amer and as expected he was sentenced to four years in prison. I did not expect the four years but a prison sentence. There is still the appeal procedure but who knows....

It is really sad! Egypt is setting a dangerous precedent for trying and sentencing internet writers and bloggers when other countries are working on raising the ceiling of freedom of expression.

And the biggest disaster is that it is not the issue to agree or disagree with Kareem Amer's blog, but the real disappointment is that many people are supporting jailing Kareem, including his family. They do not know that regardless where do they stand on politics or religion, their turn is coming....

I am not shocked but sad.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Take a Life Ride with No “Amputated Spirit”

Few days ago I had the chance to watch the 1992 movie production, “Scent of a Woman”, by Al Pacino. I have watched this movie in Cairo in one of the movie theaters back at that time. I find it so interesting to rewind time and watch old movies again. I guess it is like leaving wine in the cellar. The older it gets the better it tastes.

The movie is rated as one of the top productions of the Hollywood movie industry. The dialogue and characters are fascinating. Two words or phrases drew my attention in this movie. They were said in two different occasions; “conscience” and “amputated spirit”.

It was that scene when Al Pacino or Frank Slade was about to kill himself with the gun in a very dramatic scene while wearing his army uniform. And Chris O’Donnell or Charlie tried to save him. The battle between Slade and Charlie seemed so unfair. With the determination, will and strength of Frank to kill himself and the inexperience in life and the lack of understanding of Charlie, the situation or the scene was so unbalanced. However, Charlie was determined also to save Frank. When Frank asked him why do want to save my life, he replied “conscience”. The impact of the word was too strong to bring back the balance to the scene again. When Charlie uttered such a strong value that he feels inside him, the scene almost unwrapped a new character in the movie despite his apparent inexperience about life and innocence.

In the finale or the last scene of the movie, Al Pacino used a phrase that caught my ears like thunder. He said “amputated spirit” when he was trying to defend Charlie against the disciplinary committee’s decision to expel him from university upon allegations that he is hiding the truth when in fact he refused to sell himself to buy his future. It is the first time that I hear this phrase. When I saw the movie the first time, I did not even notice it. The entire movie is about whether we decide to take our life ride with an “amputated spirit” or not. Our choice simply determines the feel, color and scent of our ride. The movie is not really about Al Pacino’s capability to ride a car or dance the Tango when in fact he is visually impaired. But it is rather about deciding to take the ride and enjoy it no matter what happens to us to cause defeat. With the help of Charlie, he succeeded in unamputating his spirit. The very popular Tango dance of the movie was very symbolic too. Though it is modern American Tango, however, it says life is all about the old saying “it takes two to tango”. Al Pacino decided to take the ride of life differently after taking another fraternal ride with Charlie that freed his soul and spirit.

Frank Slade in "Scent of a Woman"; "The day we stop looking is the day we die...."

Other Movie-Related Blog Posts:
Trois Couleurs: by Krzysztof Kieślowski (1993 -1994)
“Teach Me How to Dance”, Alexis Zorba
Syriana: Living Our Fragmented World and Shattered Dreams
“This is How the World Fucked Africa”

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Globalization is...

… an Egyptian woman getting an Argentinean Tango class by a French guy in the United States ... Just a thought...

Monday, February 05, 2007

Super Bowl Night

Yesterday was a big night in the U.S. It is the night when some cities here are just turned into ghost cities simply because it is the Super Bowl night. The Indianapolis Colts won the Super Bowl 29-17 over the Chicago Bears on Sunday. It is so important to the American people that the U.S. President calls the winner to congratulate the team. I believe the night is like a national day.

I might sound like I understand something about the Super Bowl, but the reality that I have no clue. I was not alone in this situation last night, another two of my friends who are Latinos shared my ignorance of the Super Bowl. Their country is well-know for soccer. Egypt’s primary sport is also soccer. American football is really an invention for the three of us. In the U.S, if you say football, people will understand that you are talking about American football.

My friends and I pretended that we have interest in the Super Bowl and said we will at least watch the commercials. Yes, do not ask me why the commercials of the Super Bowl are very popular and people wait to see it anxiously.

Anyway, the game was over and the trophy was about to be awarded to the winning team. The presenter said now the trophy goes to the “world’s champion Indianapolis Colts”. I looked at my friends and said did you hear what he has just said? Before I get the answer from them, I hear the presenter says one more time “world’s champions”. I said to my friends excuse me, do you know of any country that plays American football? Were there any international teams? They were only States’ teams. A long moment of silence….

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Strangest Friday

Yesterday was really weird. I had an appointment at the Library of Congress to pick up a book. I made a phone with my cell phone from home, making sure that I will find the book I want. I left home by noon. I took the metro. Everything was great. I had my Ipod with me to listen to some Arabic music and songs. I can never be in a better mood, though it was a grey rainy day. However, I learned with difficulty to separate the weather conditions from my general mood. Growing up in Cairo, sunny days are my only definition for a weather forecast in any season of the year. I went to the Library of Congress to pick up the books. I met people from the Middle Eastern Reading Room at the Jefferson building, one of the most beautiful buildings anyone can see, and we had a lengthy discussion about the library and volunteering there. My books arrived. I took my books and left happy. I went to the metro one more time. Looking in my purse, I did not find my cell phone. I said no way and this can never be happening to me now by all means. I looked everywhere in my purse, it was not there. Here is another lovely weekend is about to begin. I asked what could be happening that I am losing my personal belongings. A week ago, I was at the National Geographic to watch a documentary movie. While watching the movie, I was by chance checking my pearl pair of earrings. Shoot. I discovered that I lost one. Those were my favorite ones. I wear them all the time. I spent the rest of the movie trying to figure out where did I lose them. But I knew the scenario. My hair entangled them and I pulled my hair. The earring flew somewhere, god knows where. The movie was followed by a reception. But guess where I have to spend the rest of my evening? With the security folks who offered to scan the auditorium trying to find it. I knew I won’t find it, but I was hopeful. They gave me a number to call in case the cleaning crew finds later at night. I knew that I had to I say goodbye to my earring.

I bid my earring farewell with sadness and I accepted the loss. I wasn’t very sure yesterday that this was the case with my cell phone. I stepped out of the train the next metro station to call my cell, hoping someone had found it. My cell was in a place that was not within a network reach or was closed. So I thought I must have lost in the train. This means another goodbye, but I wasn’t sure I can take the stress of losing my phone. I went home and I had all the catastrophic ideas filling my head. I called the woman from the Library of Congress I knew and asked her to give me the number of the lost and found desk. She gave it to me. It is Friday and the building is about to be closed. People are going home. I called the number. A person told me you might have to wait until Monday to check back. Now I am almost having a heart attack, asking myself where the hell was my mind when I lost this phone. Then he told but you can call the police operations, they work around the clock and you can get your cell if it was found during the weekend. I called I gave my descriptions of my cell. The most beautiful surprise was on my way. My cell phone was found. I guess I was about to kiss the sergeant over the phone.

I took back the metro to the Jefferson building. The building was closed. I asked the officer at the gate how to get in? He described another door at the very end of the world. I walked to the door, it was closed and no access except for staff. I went back to him and I told him, could you please help me get to this room where the library’s police operations. He made a phone call. I was told to go to another building and take the tunnel to the Jefferson building. Now it is like taking a long hike. I told myself not bad for exercise. I have to admit that security personal were super nice to me and that released my stress, starting from the officer at the gate to the building police officers. They gave me printed maps and the officer took the time to draw with a pen how to find my way to the intended room. I am the worst person when it comes to maps and directions. I really have to make an effort to memorize a map. I told the officer if I do not appear within 30 minutes, you will know that I am lost. You will have to come and pick me up. He told me jokingly I will send my dogs. I found my way and I got my cell. I promised my cell that I never treat it with negligence and that I will behave from now on. On my way out, I met the same officer who was on the gate and he kindly showed me the way to where I began my trip. I would have spent the rest of the evening trying to get out. They would have probably located me with buildings’ cameras. I was lucky not to have to spend my night looking for an exit under the ground.

I was on my to the metro and my cell was in the safest spot in my purse. That was the longest day. When thoughts are rushing in my head in all directions this is when I feel the time is not passing.

I was home by 6 PM. Unbelievable! I had totally different plans for Friday.

The day ended with a movie called “Wind”. It is about sailing. One of my friends told me that she will be watching this movie and that she has dinner for the two of us. I told myself, it is not a bad idea after such a day. I like the ocean and being close to the water gives me an unlimited feeling of relaxation, but to be in a boat in a rough sea trying to fight waves, I am not so sure that was my cup my of tea. I have been fighting the waves all day trying to find my cell. But I was still happy that I did not have to say goodbye to my phone…

I thought we are understood

I was talking to one of my friends about a Muslim woman who holds more than one Arab nationality. When I asked this woman, where do you can relate yourself more in terms of places? I meant country A or country B. She said she does not belong to any and that she is a human being. I did not intentionally ask her this question, but there are questions you ask and the answer turns to be a moment of revelation for a psychological state.

I was talking to my friend and told her I have my doubts about this woman’s inclinations in life. She asked me why? I told her she declares herself as a virtuous Muslim and says she has no sense of a belonging to a place. People with no sense to belonging to a place are like those Brits who exploded themselves in London’s subway. They did not feel their British citizenship, they had another ideological affiliation.

My friend did not seem to understand what I was hinting at. I told her such people like this woman would support Muslims in Pakistan rather standing by Sudanese people in Darfur who are miles away from where they grew. She still did not understand and she excused because she is coming from a completely different region in the world. Her world does not have the word Islamist in the dictionary.

I asked her do you know the difference between and an Islamist and a Muslim. She thought they are the same. I explained to her many people around the world are born Muslims by birth but their identity will never be Muslims. Their identity is the environment where they grew up which is normally a country. People usually hold pride in their countries. Many Muslims around the world categorize themselves as practicing, non-practicing, liberal or secular Muslims. An Islamist will not belong to a place. He/she would belong to an idea or an ideology that takes the slogan of the supremacy of Islam as a political system for a way for living. That explains why an Egyptian Islamist would oppress an Egyptian Copt in support of a Bosnian Muslim. Islamists believe in political Islam and that Islam will eventually lead to a Caliphate.

The discussion with my friend was so simple, but confusing the definitions of a Muslim and Islamist can lead to dangerous consequences. Underestimating the dangers of Islamists within their nations or in the world in general can have horrifying consequences. Categorizing all Muslims as Islamists can lead to the most discriminatory treatment ever.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Egyptian Blogger Abdel Kareem' Update for Feb 1

Sandmonkey has the update on today's court trial for Egyptian blogger Abdelkareem Nabil Soliman Amer.

Two Egyptian Bloggers Tie the Knot, Mabrouk!

Isn't this invention crazy? This blogosphere is taking many bloggers to unexpected realms.

Amr Ezzat and Radwa, two Egyptian bloggers, got married last week. They met in an anti-regime demonstration downtown in Cairo. And here we go, from a protest to a consent on marriage.

Congratulations to the new couple! You can read the entire love story on Global Voices.

One day and before I shut down "Freedom for Egyptians", I will write down a lengthy blog post about what did this blog to my life as well ... It is a mindboggling experience that I never planned.