Overheard around NYU

Two things you should know that your history books don't teach you: Man in his early 40s approaching a small group of NYU students demonstrating against the inhumane conditions in Gaza: Excuse me, excuse me, I couldn't help but hear you shout long live Palestine.... Do you know the implications of that... Student:.... Man: Palestinians should go back to Saudi Arabia where they came from... Student:..... Man:.... Saying that Palestine should be freed and the palestinians returned to their "country" is like saying that India is British and the Indians should be kicked out of India so that the British can go back.
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Veil Your Lollipop (Part 2)

And the mission to cover up all the women of Egypt continues... but who is behind all these disgusting ads? After Ursula posted about the lollipop, I found this candy ad via Wael Abbas It says, "A veil to protect or eyes will molest" on the top while below it has a quote from the Quran that mentions how God wants people to walk in the right path while those who are sinful/lustful want you to deviate from it.
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A Visa to Heaven

I went today to get my Schengen visa (EU visa) and was glad to get away from the embassy as quickly as I did. You see, visits to "First World" embassies and consulates here in Egypt always remind me of two things: (1)that I am nothing more than a potential illegal immigrant until proven otherwise and (2)that bureaucracy is a European invention. So if you are a "Third World" citizen planning to apply for a Schengen visa here are my suggestions for you to prepare yourself psychologically, mentally and physically for the mission on hand: 1) Never ever go to any EU embassy with the attitude that it is your birth right to get a visa, because it isn't. You are a Third World citizen, your birth certificate doesn't include that right so play submissive till you get it -that is IF you get it. 2) Read your horoscopes daily and if you know of any fortune teller visit him/her regularly to make sure you know before hand if "travel is in the horizon". You see, waiting lists for EU visa appointments are at best between two to four weeks ahead (plus the two weeks you have to wait as your visa gets processed) and so things like "But I just found out I have to go to Europe at the end of this month for a four day conference" or "but my relative will die any minute and I have to see him as soon as possible" won't do. You have to know that you are going to Europe at least two months before hand and even then you might not make it on time. 3) Before your scheduled date for the visa interview go and check the location of the embassy. If people going for interviews are allowed inside then make sure you get yourself a nice bulky book to read. You see, yes they expect you to be on time or your visa interview is canceled but once you are there you'll be kept waiting for at least one hour (this is known in the US army as "hurry up and wait", which reminds me to tell you to make sure you have the day off from work because once you are there you are not going to walk out that easy.) If the people going there for interviews are kept in a long line outside in the street with a guy from the consulate who looks like an ex-prison guard hovering around them like an angry dog waiting for one of them to make a mistake so he can bark at them, make sure you get one of those chairs that can be folded. You see, you will be kept for quite a looong time outside standing with no where to sit (and leaning on green plate cars is a definite no no). Also make sure you have an umbrella, a water bottle and sun screen lotion with you, you don't know how long you will wait. If you are going there in the winter make sure you have an extra jacket. 4) Make sure you have a bank account and/or credit cards. You see, the EU countries are no countries for poor men. What? You think it doesn't apply to you because the people inviting you over are paying for your stay? I'm sorry but you are mistaken. Whether or not your stay is fully covered you have to have a bank account or credit cards. As one of the employees in one of the consulates I have been to said to me when I asked for a three month visa, "We only give those long term visas to very rich people" (she stressed the words "very rich") 5) If you are applying for a long term schengen visa make sure you own a flat. What? You are under 30 years old and do not have the money to buy a flat yet? Well, don't expect to get the visa then. like I said, Europe is no country for poor men besides not owning a flat means you have no intention of returning back to your home country which means that you are planning to become an illegal immigrant! 6) Some embassies hand out an extra application that you have to fill. If you see questions like "Have you ever been a member in a non-governmental military or religious organization?", "have you ever received military training in a camp funded by foreign military or religious organizations?" or "Have you ever made plans or harbored intentions to harm your country?" try not to burst out laughing. Laughter offends their IQs. 7) If you are traveling as a family be prepared to have the application of one of the children rejected and the other accepted or the application of one of the parents' rejected while the rest of the family is accepted. I never tried that but I have seen three such cases in two different embassies. Above all this be prepared to be inhumanely treated by embassy workers who talk to you through shaded glass windows, give you your papers without looking at you, let alone smile and who talk to you in monosyllabic abrupt orders and send you back and forth from the embassy to the house and vice versa at least two times to get a three day visa! And if you complain all you will get is an "I couldn't care less" shrug from them. As one very frustrated middle aged man said loudly as he left one of the consulates I have been to lately, "what is this treatment?!! Are we applying for a visa to heaven?!" Whether or not Europe is heaven that is open for debate. One thing I know for sure is that its embassies are Purgatory.
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There must be violence against women

Here is the typical misogynist argument we have to fight against everyday. Human rights and feminist NGOs aim at destroying family morality because they want women to report their abusive family members to the police!!
There must be violence against women

By: Maged Thabet Al-Kholidy majed_thabet@hotmail.com  
This title may sound strange, but it’s actually not just a way to attract readers to the topic because I really do mean what it indicates. Violence is a broad term, especially when used regarding women. In this piece, I want to shed light on those instances where violence against women is a must.First, we should know the meaning of the word violence. Longman’s Dictionary of Contemporary English defines violence as “behavior that is intended to hurt other people physically.” However, the term violence mustn’t be confused with other concepts and terms such as gender inequality or absence of women rights. Occasionally – if not daily – we hear about events occurring in Islamic and Arab societies. Some human rights organizations recently have attacked violent acts against women, standing against any type of violence – even that between a father and daughter – and citing the cases of some women as examples. Consequently, they offer solutions such as complaining to the police, taking revenge or leaving them men, who are either their husbands, fathers or brothers – with no exceptions. One such case involved a woman whose husband allegedly had beaten her. Without revealing the husband’s reasons for doing so, such human rights organizations immediately urged the wife to complain to the police and the courts, while at the same time generalizing the instance and other similar solutions to any type of violence. If a man and woman are husband and wife, the Qur’an provides solutions, firstly reaffirming any logical and acceptable reasons for such punishment. These solutions are in gradual phases and not just for women, but for men also. For men, it begins with abandoning the marital bed, by opting to sleep elsewhere in the house. After this, they may discuss the matter with any respected person for the husband’s or the wife’s family, who could be in a position to advise the wife. If this also does not work, then the husband yields to beating the wife slightly. They do this because of a misunderstanding in the Quran, as the word says Darban, which is commonly understood today as beating. However, in Classic Arabic it means to set examples or to announce and proclaim. The more accurate meaning of this last one is that the husband finally has to set forth, to make a clear statement or proclamation, and if these measures fail, then divorce is preferable. Similarly, wives may take actions such as abandoning the marital bed, following by leaving the husband’s home for that of their parents, brothers or any other relatives. They may do this more than once, but if such action fails, they may not continue to live with their husband and via their relatives, they may request a divorce. Despite such instructions, beating is considered a type of violence, according to human rights organizations, which urge women to complain to the police. I just wonder what kind of families our societies would have if Muslim women started doing this regarding their husbands. Relationships between fathers and daughters or sisters and brothers also provoke argument from human rights organizations, which propose the suggested solutions for all relationships. Personally, I don’t think fathers or brothers would undertake such behavior unless there was a reason for it. Fathers are responsible for their daughters’ behavior, but human rights organizations deny this too. Brothers also should take action regarding their sisters’ behavior, especially if their parents are too old or dead. If a daughter or sister makes a mistake – especially a moral one – that negatively affects the entire family and its reputation, what’s the solution by such organizations? According to them, women should complain to the courts about any type of violence against them. Likewise, should fathers and brothers complain to police if their daughters or sisters violate moral, Islamic or social norms? Fathers should handle their daughters via any means that suits their mistake; thus, is it better to use violence to a certain limit or complain to the police? Shall such women then complain to the police against their fathers or brothers? It’s really amazing to hear this.
Here is the rest of the "article".
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About the Women Only Cars in the Metro

I had to take the metro the other day in order to go downtown only to discover that the rumors of moving the women only cars from the front of the train to the middle were true. So why did they do that? Let me start from the beginning. Right during last eid a metro train couldn't stop in time (some said because the breaks were not working others said because the driver was going too fast). Anyway, the train went off the rails and 34 people were injured. All local newspapers and news agencies reported the news at first giving these two reasons (high speed, bad breaks) as the likely reasons for the incident. A day or two later, after the driver was interrogated the news changed. Now the reason of the accident was neither that the driver was reckless or that there was negligence in train maintenance, instead the reason for the accident was the loud voices of the women and the children in the women's only car which is situated right behind the driver's cabin! You see, the poor driver was distracted by the women and their naughty children who kept banging on his cabin door and so he left his cabin and went into the women's car to shout at them which is why he couldn't stop the train in time! So this incident having opened the eyes of the officials to the fact that women are loud and very talkative and that children are terrible bugs and that this incident is only a small example of things to come if women are kept behind the driver's cabin, they decided to move women's only cars to the middle of the train because men are more sensible and once they are in the first car they would never distract the driver. In case you can't read the last Arabic news report I linked to here is a rough translation:

Removing Women's Only Cars in the Metro Away from the Driver's Cabin to Protect Drivers' from Chatter and Children's Games

Cairo: In an effort to provide drivers with an atmosphere that would help them focus in work, the Metro management has decided to move women's two cars to the middle of the train. The decision to move women away from the driving cabin was taken so that their chatter would not annoy drivers. According to Al Massa' newspaper, it was because of women and their children who distracted the Helwan Metro driver and made him leave his cabin to chase the children that the train crashed against the station barriers leaving more than 43 injured. So you see, instead of punishing the driver, the management sympathizes with him and creates a lot of chaos in metro stations by changing the place where women only cars are. Of course since many sensible people don't buy the story that the accident was because of the women and since it is clear the management went along with it because that is better than saying that there was negligence on their part, officials are now changing their comments. You see, now changing where women are is for "the public good" since women's cars are usually empty while the rest of the train is crowded because not many women can walk all the way to the front of the train! Again, another huge lie! Anyway, back to my story. By the time I realised that the stories I had heard were true I was already in front of the front car (previously a women's only car) which I always took specially at rush hours to avoid potential harrassment in other mixed cars so I just walked into it and stood there with angry thoughts racing through my head. I was angry that misogynism has become so widely spread and acceptable that when a wacko guy blames women for his mistake he is believed and his absurd generalization is taken for a fact and reported about with no comments or criticism. The only thing that people questioned was whether that was the real reason behind the accident or not. The fact that action was quickly taken to move women away in a place and a country where action is hardly ever taken at all is very, very insulting. Standing inside the metro train I decided never to take women's cars again. These same misogynist officials found no other way to limit harrassment than to pack all the women in two out of the many cars of each train. If men are to respect us we will have to teach them to see us as the equal human beings that we are and that cannot be done by hiding away in "women only" spaces that they have allocated for us.
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Saudi Arabia Eases Laws on Solo Women

Ok, so I get why they have to show an ID to the hotel manager, but why do they have to register with local police for staying in a hotel!!!
The authorities in Saudi Arabia have decided to end a ban on unaccompanied women staying in the country's hotels. A woman can now stay in a hotel alone as long as she carries identification. Based on a royal decree, the move marks a break from religious codes requiring women to be accompanied by a male guardian at all times. The decree allowed the Ministry of Trade to outline new regulations simply requiring women to show photographic ID to hotel managers. This must then be registered with local police. The decision was reported by the local daily al-Watan newspaper, which is considered close to the Saudi government, on Monday.
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Rape Apologists

news-allcom_554156.jpg Two more additions to my black list. This time under the subtitle of rape apologists. If you had read this week's Sawt Al Ummah or Al Ahram Weekly you must have heard of what happened to the Lebanese singer Marwa and you would know why I have picked Sawt Al Ummah's Hassan Abdel Fattah and Al Wafd's Mohamed Mustafa Sherdi for number three on my list. Over ten days ago the Lebanese pop singer, Marwa, was singing on stage in a music festival in Al Agamy when she was all of a sudden sexually attacked by young Egyptian men in the audience (remember the Eid incident). She was traumatized and the festival was cancelled. Here are excerpts of Abdel Fattah's report on the incident that at best can be described as shameless: (Italics mine) "The audience molested Marwa who was wearing a green low cut dress that made her look very sexually provocative. After she ended her show, and in spite of the presence of more than 50 body guards around her, the singer was suddenly surrounded by young men whose hands were centered on her chest area which was naked." "What happened made Marwa panic and she kept crying nonstop for a whole hour and yet she turned down her body guard's request to report the incident to the police. Because of her sexually provocative songs Marwa was responsible for the cancellation of the rest of the festival." And then he concludes, " It remains to be said that Marwa's sexually provocative song "You Don't Know How To [do it]" was the first spark that made the young men attack her and try to rape her especially with the very hot way she sang it." Al Ahram Weekly quotes Sherdi saying : (italics mine) "We definitely condemn what the audience did, but I also strongly reject the provocative acts of the singer [Marwa]. I condemn this strange trend mushrooming among female singers who wear revealing clothes... her performance was replete with overt sexual innuendo." I too condemn the low quality of her songs, her bad music and bad voice but what does that have to do with her being sexually molested? Read the quotes again and you come up with one conclusion, she had it coming. It wasn't nice of the guys to molest her but, you know, they are guys, she seduced them, it's not their fault. Poor them! Men who walk around thinking that they have the right to molest any woman who doesn't follow the dress code of "virtue" disgust me! Thanks SP.
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Tamer Amin Haters' Club

Couldn't stop laughing at this. A group has been created in facebook for those who hate El Beit Beitak's Tamer Amin, the most condescending, know-it-all, snobbish, full-of-himself show host I have ever seen. Check out the posts on "Akbar Mawkif Khalak Tekrahou" (the one biggest situation that made you hate him). tamer-amin.jpg The cigarrette pack is called "Sakhafa" i.e. nonsense, and at the bottom of the pack it says "Tamer Amin is bad for the health... and could kill you." So far 911 members have joined the group, I guess I'll be 912. lol
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My Black List

Dear Readers,

I have decided to start my own "Black List of Psychopathic Woman Haters in Power". It will include all public figures (male and female) who make any sort of misogynistic comments in the media (believe it or not some women out there are more royal than the king). The ranks will be updated regularly so that the number one on my black list would be the one with the most outrageously sexist remarks.

Remember Judge Dakrouri, well he is currently number two on my list because number one is now the amazing Karam El Hafian the NDP MP (by the way his family name means in Arabic "the bare footed").

Sawt Al Ummah has quoted this wacko (who fainted in the middle of a parliamentary session after getting all worked up about Farouq Hosni's "insult" to Islam) saying that women should never become judges because of the menstruation cycle! What does being a judge have to do with having the period? I have been cracking up my head to understand the reason but couldn't find any except for the disgusting widespread belief that menstruating women are dirty creatures, if that is his attitude well….

Anyway, since women have, unfortunately, been appointed as judges, the poor man had to accept the status Quo. However, in a parliamentary session that discussed the retirement age for judges he decided he's not keeping his opinion to himself any longer and demanded that men should retire at 70 while women should retire at 60.

"This is not discrimination," he said, "This is due to the biological difference between men and women and their ability to give. Men become wiser and closer to God as they grow older but women become senile…. and their temper becomes more acute because of menopause." In other words, women can't judge when they have their periods because they don't think clearly when they do and they can't judge when they stop having their periods because, again, they can't think clearly when they do. Hmm, it seems like he's difficult to please!

I would really love to know what science books this guy has been reading. Maybe one of those twisted Victorian Age books that "proved" that women and colored people are less developed than the White Man? In that case he should definitely look in the mirror, he is "colored". Anyway, he doesn't look like the type that would waste their time reading anything.

What is even worse is that he is absolutely unaware of his male chauvinism. He thinks of himself in fact as a supporter of women, and his reasons? "Egypt has become socially and economically backward ever since women went out to work (again I wonder what history and economic books he has been reading?). It was a bad decision to allow women to leave the house. I believe that women should leave the house only when necessary, this is because I consider women jewels that should be preserved and guarded. Women should remain at home to wait on their husbands and take care of their children." He explained.

I'm gonna exert self control and hold back all the swear words that are echoing inside my brains just in case he decides to sue me BUT I have to admit that right now a lot of violent scenarios are taking place inside my head.

Anyway, since violence never turns stupid people sensible, I have a better plan for revenge. I think that he should be put in an office where his boss and colleagues are sturdy, broad shouldered middle aged women civil servants (the overweight type of mouwazzafat we see in governmental offices) so that he would think twice before ever speaking about women like that again. What do you think?

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Nawal Al Sadawy, an ex-Member of the MB!

As most of you must have heard, late in February Al Azhar decided to report Nawal Al Saadawi, Egypt's most outspoken feminist, to the police because of a play that she wrote back in the time of President Anwar Al Sadat and which she just published by the end of 2006. The play, "God Resigns in the Summit Meeting," would have passed unnoticed if not for one thing, the role of Sadat is symbolically played by God.

"So what?" you'd think, "this is just fiction, it is not to be taken literally; besides, religion shouldn't interfere with creativity." Well, try explaining that to the honorable Azhar "scholars" who (after reporting the atheist writings of their student, Abdel Karim Soliman, to the police last year) seem to be successfully working towards the resurrection of the medieval inquisition.

Anyway, now Nawal Al Saadawi is being sued for insulting "The Divine Entity" and for blasphemy and all thanks to Sayed Tantawi and his Islamic Research Council who came up with the decision that her play is an insult to the Muslim creed after three hours of heated discussions!

Fortunately when that happened Nawal Al Saadawi was in Belgium and is now in the US as visiting professor, so I don't think we will see her serving any jail time soon.

As I mentioned earlier, this happened a while ago and I should have written something about the topic back then but I got very busy. So what is new?

Well, after news of her "blasphemous" play circulated around what I like to call the "Islamist blogosphere", an interesting rumor followed. According to this rumor, Al Sadawy was a Muslim Brotherhood member, and not just that, but she used to wear the veil (back in the 40s!!) and lead women in prayer and helped get many into the brotherhood!

The source of the rumor is a book, Wa Areftou Al Ikhwan (And So I Came to Know the Brotherhood), about the history of the Muslim Brotherhood written by a Mahmoud Game', an ex-MB member, in which he claims that Al Saadawi was his classmate and that they helped organize MB events together.

What is even worse than the rumor is the way it has been used by these Islamists. According to this website, Nawal Al Sadawy is living proof that pious people are liable to lose their faith if they are not careful and avoid deviating from the right path.

So how do the pious deviate from the right path? The blogger enumerates several reasons the most outstanding being: "by hanging around "perverts" a lot who will drag the pious slowly and inconspicuously away from doing good deeds and remaining with the good people; and by reading "skeptical" books that would make them lose hold of the "useful" knowledge that helped them remain pious."

The writer then enlightens us by revealing that the first symptom of losing your piety is "rebelling" because rebellion leads to questioning God's words and the words of the prophet and the scholars which will ultimately lead to the pious becoming atheists.

Well, and I thought it was my duty as a good Muslim to question everything!

Anyway, in the following interview Nawal Al Sadawy said that she never knew this Mahmoud Game' and strongly denied ever being a member of the MB and ever wearing the veil which she has always believed is not part of Islam.

Hmm, too bad for the "how the pious turn evil" theory!

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Why Women Can't be Judges

Just when I thought we were done with the whole "women can't be heads of state" issue and I thought misogyny was just the specialty of Azharites, one of our highly esteemed judges proved me wrong! In an interview with Al Masry Al Youm, judge Yehia Ragheb Dakrouri, head of the State Court judges' club, stated that women becoming judges is against the constituion and the Sharia laws. Before I explain his "proof" I would like to point out that in Egypt we do have women judges but only for administrative cases (with the exception of one who was appointed by the president) women are not allowed to become criminal court judges. Back to the story. According to Dakrouri women can't be judges because all religious schools with the exception of the Hanafiya have said so. "Why should we disregard what all scholars said and follow the Hanafiya."He asked. Well, let me answer that; because Imam Abu Hanifa was a very well read scholar who, unlike the great majority of other imams, lived at a time and place that resembles our complex urban life (minus the misogyny) and so is a better source for Shariaa interpretation than the others. Secondly, he says that women can't be judges because, like the Caliph, a judge is a religious leader and women can't be religious leaders!! Well, I thought that definition ended with the end of the caliphate and that now being a judge is just another profession! (I'll overlook the part about women being religious leaders for now). His third reason is even more ridiculous and incredibly insulting to all humans both female and male; women can't be judges because judges have to meet in a closed room with their counselors to discuss the different cases and this would mean that if the judge was a woman she would be acting against the sharia ban of Al Kholwa (i.e. a woman and a man who are not related or married alone in a room) !!! The fact that a man like him would come out and imply that if a female judge meets with her counselors in a closed room they will be thinking of sex instead of the cases they have at hand is sickening. It reveals that for him woman is never anything more than a sex object and if that is the opinion of a supposedly educated man what are we to expect from the illiterate who take the Kholwa rule a bit too literally. That was why he believes that it is against the Shariaa to have female judges. As for why it is against the constitution, his highness enlightens us by explaining how women get child birth and child care leaves that men don't and this is a violation of the idea of equality which is stressed in the constitution. Well, I guess he is right in this one! Men should also get childbirth leaves; in fact they should help their wives and get pregnant instead of them. Or maybe women should get the pregnancy leave and men get the child care leave! If you thought his reasons were ridiculous, wait till you hear the last one. According to his highness women get pregnant and if people see a pregnant judge that will be very damaging to the image of the judges!!!!!!!!! I didn't know that the appearance of a pregnant woman is damaging or degrading!! Apparently he wants people to think of judges as gods who do not do what other humans do! If his sensibilities are offended by the appearance of a pregnant woman then he shouldn't have offended other people's sensibilities by coming into the world! Off to drink some chamomile!
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