The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

While we were away


Photo of parkour demonstration in Cairo, by Nasser Nouri.

Christopher Hitchens lamented the disappearance of Egypt's pigs but rejoiced that it was another example of stupid religion, garbage continued to accumulate around Greater Cairo, and Egypt's police continued its now decidely official policy of deporting foreign pro-Palestine activists. Farouq Hosni, UNESCO's sore loser, began to be criticized as he normally is, and the US and Egypt co-sponsored a UN statement on freedom of expression and respect for religion. Sheikh Tantawi was said to be against the full-face veil, although this may be more about Masri al-Youm's need for scoops than any real policy, and religious scholars wanted to ban imports of fake hymens from China. Everyone continued to wonder whether Gamal Mubarak would become president. Al Ahram decided it would stop interviewing Israelis, and young Muslim Brothers were said to want change, but be willing to wait for it. Egyptian children returned to school despite the swine flu and Egypt was ranked 123 out of 182 in human development rankings, down from 112 in the previous ranking.

Outside Egypt, Bibi Netanyahu decided to not to go into an East Jerusalem tunnel, Palestinians rioted at al-Aqsa, and some wondered whether the Third Intifada would start soon. Mahmoud Abbas delayed UN action on the Goldstone report, and appeared to be digging his own grave. Rami Khouri wrote his obituary. Hamas banned women from riding motorcycles "for citizens' safety."

Christian fundamentalists continued to spread in the US army, and the government asked not to talk about them. The Obama administration rushed to reveal a new Iranian nuclear fuel enrichment plant, because the Iranians had revealed it to the IAEA, while Tehran was busy working on investments abroad, kind of. Google launched a transliteration service that includes Persian and The Century Foundation launched Over 61% of Americans would support a military strike on Iran, a poll said. Robert Fisk said Arab states were concerting with Europeans and China to stop using the US dollar for oil trading by 2018.