Monday, January 23, 2012
The above is a picture of the first session of the newly elected Egyptian parliament that have been circulating on fb! When I first saw it, I thought we should all relax; at this rate, they won't be up to much mischief! But then I learned that one of the sleepers is actually blind and the other had a particularly tough day. In other words, things are not as they seem.
And to prove that they were not actually sleeping some of those folks tried to rock the boat by insisting on adding a few words to the regular parlimentarian oath.
More posturing of this sort is to be expected, but what matters is how much the salafis are going to force the Muslim Brotherhood to move more to the right.
Of course, the liberal (or non-Islamist) opposition, though a minority, does need to exert its own influence to hopefully pressure the dominant Brothers to move in the other direction, or at least stay where they are. Well, they can try.
But frankly the MB seem to be confident in their own power and are reaching a deal with the Military Council on their own, a deal that will not rock the boat of SCAF. In other words, it will not challenge the military economic privileges and will protect them from prosecution for murdering Egyptian citizens.
As to the women in the new parliament, I had a hard time finding them. I may need to get a more powerful prescription for my glasses.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
The Salafi preacher Khalid Abdullah seems determined not to let any woman activist escape his venomous attacks. His latest victim is Tawakkul Karman (also Tawakel Karman), the Yemeni activist who won the Nobel Piece Prize for her role in the Yemni revolution against Ali Abdullah Saleh. On his show, he plays a tape of an interview with her, but not before blurring her so she is unrecognizable. She doesn't even deserve to have rose substituted for her face the way salafi election posters did in the recent elections in Egypt. Instead, she appears as a blotch, a ghostly figure, not to be seen, and to be heard, grudgingly, and only to hang with her words.
But why is Karman the target of Abdullah's anger? For unlike the other women that Abdullah and his salafi friends have been character assassinating, such as Nuwara Negm, she has solid Islamist credentials as a high-ranking member of the main Islamist party in Yemen, Al Islah. She is the aristocracy of Islamist women activists and politicians.
Not according to him. "Who is she to be given the Nobel Prize and to be going here and there to give talks and and lectures?"
Here is why Khalid decided to take her down:
One: She believes Islam should be a source of inspiration not legislation. That is a no no in his book! And I would say in the book of the Muslim Brotherhood as well. Karman is clearly pushing the envelope on this one.
Two: She believes in a civic state as opposed to a religious state because she wants the state to be for all its citizens, including Christians and Jews. She believes a Yemeni Jew has the right to be president of the country. This is a big NO No for the salafis.
Three: She doesn't believe the Niqab, the full face covering (in case you still don't know what that is) is not of Islam and that she wore it for many years but eventually found it a barrier to communication. She calls on other women to do without it because she wants them to participate in public life without any barriers. Women should not be speaking from behind any walls, she says. Khalid's response to that is to blur the heck out of her. Clearly, the salafi version of women's choice is that a Muslim woman is allowed to say her opinion of the Niqab only if she agrees with it wholeheartedly and recommends it to all Muslim women.
Four: She doesn't have any problem dealing with the United Sates and the west generally as long as she uses their support to advance her agendas. In response, Khalid accuses her of being brainwashed and used. And to trash by association he mentions "training in Serbia"!!!
Khalid concludes his attack by expressing his regret that this woman is considered a Muslim at all. Clearly, on his Salafi measuring scale of who is a Muslim and who is not, she gets a zero.
Whose next on his assassination list? I'll keep you posted.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Friday, January 20, 2012
Thursday, January 19, 2012
The incitement of some of the Egyptian media against activists must be taken seriously, as the physical attack on Nawara Negm attests. Nawara has been one of the brightest faces of the Egyptian revolution and its articulate conscience. I fear for her. The campaign against her began with character assassination delivered by Tawfiq Ukasha, in his program "Mesr Al Youm" (Egypt Today) (his how has been shut down for crossing the decency line). He mocked Nawara for her criticism of SCAF, telling her that he found her a groom who will reign her in, since nobody else can. Khalid Abdallah also wanted her to get married so she can stop attacking the salafis. An online vicious attach was conducted against her and her father, the leftist poet Ahmad Fouad Nagm. She was accused of being a foreign agent because her mother is a Shi'a. Then a law suit was filed against her, accusing her of inciting violence against the army!!!! And now, she was physically attacked by 25 people who accuse her of wanting to divide the people and the army.
This is serious. Not because it will silence Nawara. It won't. But because it will silence others and it will further isolate and discredit activists. The only protection they have is that of the people. The media is working on eroding that support and cracking the shield.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Golshifteh Farahani is banned from returning to her homeland after posing nude for a French magazine. Of course the lesson women are being taught here is that their bodies do not belong to them, but to the whole nation. If you own your body, you lose your nation.
Well, that's arguable better than being accused of "spreading corruption on earth" for that can cost you your head.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Tareq al Atrash for his song "Al Sigara." It's not enough that the whole song is a celebration of smoking, it's also sexist. The guy loves smoking so much that for him a cigarette is worth ten women: السيجارة بعشر نسوان". Oh, and the video clip masterpiece is directed by a woman.
Dumb and sexist. Go away people!
Which is what the Iranian government is doing because in their view the dolls represent western decadence and un-Islamic values. This ban will make Barbie far more desirable than any bust increase or waste decrease or hair extension will do. Forced to go underground, Barbie will acquire an aura of danger and rebellion that will make it more desirable for girls and parents alike. (I'm not sure what the Iranian official attitude to Ken is, but if Barbie goes underground, he'd better follow). The ban is the best face lift that Barbie has received in a long time. Matel must be rejoicing.
I'm not a fan of Barbie, particularly the one that used to say "I'm no good at math!" (that model was discontinued after parents and feminists protested it). I confess that as a child I wanted one badly but it was out of reach because we couldn't afford it. Instead, my mom bought me a cheap kind of doll that was sold on carts in Ramallah. The kind that didn't even make it to a toy store. They were bald and boring and had only one outfit. I hated them. They were one step above the ones my grandmother would make from buttons and sticks and yarn. By the time I could afford a barbie, alas I was a feminist!
I feel bad for Sara and Dara, the local Iranian alternatives. For banning Barbie will not help them one bit. On the contrary, the government-sanctioned dolls will be seen as too uncool, too conformist, if not even sell outs. Too bad really-- they are pretty cute.
Monday, January 16, 2012
Awesome young feminists in Lebanon organized a demonstration against rape and sexual harassment, demanding new laws that offer better protection against sexual violence outside and inside the home. The pouring rain failed to dampen their passion for justice.
The Egyptian youth activists, The April 6th Movement, are on the defensive after the military council succeeded in discrediting them through the media as agents of outside forces, as this article shows. It does not mention, however, the active role the Muslim Brothers and Salafis played in this character assassination although they were the main beneficiaries of the youth revolutionary mobilization. Live and learn again and again and again.
Friday, January 13, 2012
article that reminds of some crucial facts regarding Israeli settlements in the West Bank, all of which are illegal under international law. The writer is responding to those who claim that settlements are not an obstacle to peace (HA!!) because they are built on only 1% of the land. Lara Friedman points out that, according to a new report by Peace Now, settlers control 50% of the land. Here are a couple of maps for the visually inclined.
An important Ha'aretz editorial about the Israeli Supreme Court decision that Palestinians who are married to Israeli citizens DO NOT have the right to live in Israel with their spouses. The last word in the article is the key word: apartheid.