The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Posts tagged bloggers
Another letter from Alaa from, and on, prison

Alaa Abdel Fattah, the Egyptian blogger and activist who has been jailed for refusing to answer the questions of a military prosecutor about the Maspero Affair, has been shifted to another cell. In another heart-breaking dispatch from prison, he explains why:

I am writing this note with a deep sense of shame. I have just been moved from Ist’naf (appeal) prison, at my request and insistence, because I simply couldn’t withstand the difficult conditions there: because of the darkness, the filth , the roaming cockroaches, crawling over my body night and day; because there was no courtyard, no sunshine and, again, the darkness.

However, what I couldn’t stand, above all, was the revoltingly toilets. I just couldn’t do it, I couldn’t navigate my way around the filthy, door-less, overcrowded toilets. So I spent my first five days simply “keeping it in”. Until I could take no more.

I found Nouara’s piece, celebrating my “manliness”, confusing, but Najlaa Budeir’s article reminded me how, in my previous stint here, my blog was my refuge, the sanctuary where I could be brutally candid with myself.

So yes, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t “man up” and bear it, even though I knew only too well that thousands were bravely and stoically enduring far worse conditions, even though I never had to suffer the untold horrors of military prisons, nor was I ever subjected to the torture meted out to those comrades of mine who had been sent down to the military courts.

And so, I let my Maspero protest comrades, my fellow prisoners facing the wrath of the ministry of defence, as well as other political detainees, down. I let down all those prisoners who had been moved, upon seeing the mayhem and fracas that my presence had been causing, to come and speak to me, sharing their tales of the horrors endured at the hands of the interior ministry, all so that I could tell the outside world about it. They were overjoyed that someone was going to speak up about the baltagia and the gangs.

Yet, I left them behind, because of dirty toilets.

Read the rest here.

In Translation: Alaa Abdel Fattah on Meena Daniel

We have a special article for this week's translated commentary from the Arabic press, provided as always by the full-service translation firm Industry Arabic.

Alaa Abdel FattahA few days ago, the Egyptian military announced that the activist and blogger (and pioneering geek) Alaa Abdel Fattah and another activist, Bahaa Saber, were being summoned by the military prosecutor. No reason was given why, but the summons came soon after an article by Abdel Fattah came out in al-Shorouk newspaper in which he gives a heart-rending testimony of the death of activist Meena Daniel at Maspero on October 9 and puts blame at the feet of the military.

Meena DanielThis article, reproduced below in English, was circulated widely on Facebook and elsewhere. It is possible that Abdel Fattah and Saber are being summoned on accusations of inciting violence at Maspero, but equally possible that this article pushed the military to act. These latest actions by the military council, even after it claims that the use of military tribunals will stop, shows the increasingly authoritarian way in which the military is acting and mounting pressure on mainstream media as well as activists to end public criticism of the SCAF.

LIVING WITH THE MARTYRS

By Alaa Abdel Fattah, al-Shorouk, 20 October 2011

A couple days spent at the morgue. A couple days amid the corpses of those struggling to preserve their martyr status, fighting against the Mubarak regime in its entirety; not just against Mubarak’s military who ran them over, not just against Mubarak’s media machine which denied them the honor of martyrdom and turned them into mere killers, and not just against Mubarak’s judicial system which denied them their rights.

These corpses are fighting to preserve the glory of their martyrdom in the gloomy morgue of a poor government hospital. They are fighting against the insanities of the Mubarak era claiming that an autopsy would harm the sanctity of the deceased and won’t bring them the triumph they deserve. They are fighting against the domination of the sultan’s theologians and priests who want us to believe that those seeking justice in this life are abandoning their right for justice in the afterlife. They are fighting against Mubarak’s politics of division, which made the poor believe their enemies lie among the poor, thus turning their attention away from those embezzling their daily bread.

A couple days spent with merciful death and merciless shame. My God, why do most of our martyrs belong to the poor? How were they discerned by the tank and the gun? Don’t we all bear the same blood and lie in the same grave? Still, it seems we have let the martyrs down, over and over again.

Our Egypt is incredible. It only picks the best of us. Meena Daniel was its right choice. It was him who sealed our triumph in the morgue.

Blessed are the meek

They came to the hospital by the hundreds, searching for wounded bodies to treat and murdered bodies to bury. They came searching for a shelter from the night that embodied all their fears. They came searching for anyone willing to share their anger and seeking strength in numbers. They came as the “church’s flock.” The hospital was surrounded by plainclothes assailants (perhaps these are the honest citizens cheered day and night by Mubarak’s military?), backed by the defenders of our security and revolution, seeking to assure these people that their only hope is to belong to the church’s flock.

We came looking for our friend from the Square, the guy with the charming smile, Meena, who belongs to us and to whom we belong. Martyrdom chose Meena as he belongs to the church’s flock as much as to the revolution. These were the words of his family members who insisted on involving his buddies in every decision – we are his buddies after all. Meena struggled from his afterlife hoping we’d be accepted by the families of the martyrs, making us a group of comrades in the same struggle. We all bleed and weep the same, don’t we? Just as the truth – hushed on television stations – kept sprinkling out of the tears of the mothers of martyrs, it shows in our tears. They understood we were Meena’s buddies; that was enough for them to forget to ask our names in their usual suspicious manner.

So the hospital issued its report on the Maspero incident: did they die of cardiac arrest or was there a fight? The priests came forward with their advice: let’s bury them quickly as it’s hot outside and there is no refrigeration in the morgue. This is where we intervened, strong with the arrogance and naïveté of our revolt: What about justice? What about punishment? This is our last chance to uncover the criminals; we need the forensic report.

How insane this was of us! Do we really mean to ask for an autopsy in our quest for justice we have never seen before, not even once? Not even by coincidence? What justice are we seeking, we, the poor? What justice are we seeking, we, the Copts? What justice are we seeking from the criminals ruling us? Don’t you understand that we’re vulnerable?

Still, Meena was one of us. His sister was the first to agree to an autopsy and this was enough to convince others, one after another. They were reluctant and we were insistent. Lawyers encouraged us amidst hours of weeping, hugs and debates. We were running against the clock, bringing every ice cube and every miserable fan we could find, hoping that our affection would be enough to maintain the purity of the bodies.

The next morning, the prosecutors arrived to find half of the families demanding an autopsy. This is when the noble judge issued his rule: I could either issue burial permits or forensic requests, aren’t we all equal in death? Of course, the priests were here to spice up the atmosphere: our monsignor will celebrate the mass for their companions in a short while; so you’d better hurry before it’s too late. Have mercy on your children, their reward in Paradise is grand.

We stood unified in our fight against the regime. This time, however, the battle field has changed. This time, it’s about reason, logic and compassion. We made it in defeating the regime which faced our resolute rows of anger, bricks and solidarity. This time, however, we needed to lead a long debate before the prosecutor agreed to an autopsy for all the corpses… provided that we take charge of the forensic work.

What a sad truth this is turning to be! We had, first, to manage the security of our demonstrations. Next, things evolved and we had to ensure the smooth running of public facilities. Now, we have the duty of ensuring the work of public servants, on behalf of the government! Why, thus, would we bother to ask the police and the army to do their job. After all, it shows clearly on the corpses of our martyrs.

We had the families understand that the autopsy is a lengthy procedure. Thus, it was wise to move the corpses to the Zeinhum morgue where the services are convenient. Fear invaded the place again; it’s true that Meena made them believe in our country, still, rumors never stopped spreading while the gangs of “gentlemen” standing outside kept on terrorizing the crowds all night long. While we didn’t admit it openly, we got the message: We won’t leave the Coptic neighborhood because God knows what evil awaits us over there.

So we had to secure the hospital. We had to ensure appropriate working conditions for the forensic team. We had to evacuate thousands of scared souls from the building and control the reactions of thousands of angry people. There were just a handful of us to manage this whole procedure. Ironically, we had to assume the role of the Central Security Forces too. It seems we have a new battlefield to take over with our only weapon being our solidarity.

The forensic team started its mission, guarded by us and supervised by our lawyers and doctors, our unseen soldiers who experienced all kinds of injustice and who knew how to unveil evidence of murder, torture, crimes and massacres, much better than forensic experts. The team began its work while we were frightened by the idea of letting a family member see the infuriating scene of a scalpel cutting through the corpse of a dear son. We were frightened by the idea of seeing our ranks crumble in the face of the “gentlemen” attacks or the outrage of the bereaved.

My kingdom is not of this world

It is true that the unity of our ranks worries all those opportunists; the traders of the cause being the most treacherous of them all. They are everywhere around us: Do you really trust this lawyer? She’s so young and unproven… I have a much broader experience, and who are these? All of these are Muslims! How could you trust them? You have warned us for months, dear Meena, when you said: it is crucial that Maspero joins forces with Tahrir Square. It is crucial that the demands of the Copts remain the demands of the people and vice-versa. The choice is so hard, dear Meena. While the oppressive authorities are hitting indiscriminately, these opportunists know well how to hit where it hurts most. So we spent the rest of the day fighting their deceitful rumors and fake accusations. Our goal was to return confidence and tranquility to the souls of our people.

In the beginning, we assumed a role we thought was similar to that of the Central security forces. We soon realized how both roles were so different. I will never understand how security forces anywhere in this world could believe that violence is the way to bring discipline back into masses of angry or scared citizens. I also wonder who recommended to the world’s governments that using guns and bullets in the face of the masses would deter them. The only thing we thought of as a weapon in front of the waves of anger surrounding us was our chests. We threw ourselves in front of the crowds and we cried for our martyrs. This is how we were able to drive out the delusions of a sectarian military reality and to spread the truthful dream of a free Egypt.

Dear Meena, our revolution is so fragile! Any stray bullet could topple it. Dear Meena, our revolution is so strong! One powerful sole would suffice to save it. Dear Meena, you made me grasp the teachings of the prophets. When will the military do the same? As soon as the forensic team started its work, complaints started on the lack of means, on the poor circumstances and on the nuisance of the surrounding guards. Still, the team had to accomplish its mission. When it was known that the team is almost done with the autopsy and is about to put up its report on the causes of death, someone began spreading rumors of false reports being prepared. Since the cause of death could refer to a single mortal wound, while the corpses are filled with scores of them, this was enough for the families of the martyrs to believe what they heard, and it was enough for the waiting crowds to burst in outrage. This was also enough to cause our ranks to collapse.

On the brink of victory, we found ourselves facing the toughest ordeal. The families believed in the dream of justice; they let us dissect the corpses of their sons while they delayed the funeral mass that was to be celebrated by the monsignor, which led in turn to another night’s delay of the burial. They made all the sacrifices we asked of them despite their initial reluctance. Now, they demand assurances; they want to experience the justice they are after. In return, all we had for them was a bunch of incomprehensible technical and legal stuff. Indeed, why does the report say run over by a “heavy vehicle” when truth is clear and we all know it was an armored tank? Why doesn’t it say it was an armored tank? Why is there a mention of fiery projectiles? Why is there no mention of “security service bullets”? Haven’t we been promised justice? Why can’t we read the name of the criminal who is known to all of us?

I didn’t grasp the victory we achieved while we were inundated by tons of details. At one moment in time, I looked around and saw that our unified ranks gained the sympathy of the hospital staff, the doctors and the priests! What have you done, dear Meena? Is it the vulnerability of our families that awakened their conscience or is it your strength that burst out their imagination? Did we really succeed in overcoming all these obstacles in just a few hours? I can claim that even the forensic doctors joined our ranks too. The only solution was to sit with each family, explain the causes of death and point out the details that will be shown in the forensic report. That’s in addition to explaining the role of the prosecutor and lawyers. Our unity was contagious enough to attract the forensic doctor who forgot he was just a public servant and who made himself our judicial representative. When he sat with the families and explained the content of the reports, something he was only used to doing with the powerful class, he may have remembered that justice is always by the side of the vulnerable. I saw them describe the features of the martyrs to their families, a way to make them believe that they are not just corpses and to prove that they know them and care for their memory. I finally witnessed the dream, for which you reached martyrdom turn into reality, even for a short moment.

On our way to the church, our victory was total. None bothered to check who carried the martyrs and who led the acclaim. Was it a Muslim who was shouting “We either bring them justice or we die like them”? What a silly question. Don’t we all have the same blood and cry out the same tears?

Turn the other cheek

Before moving to the Coptic hospital, we were in another hospital, away from the battle scene, waiting for the X-ray of Ahmed’s foot, injured with a live bullet.

We picked up Ahmed from Talaat Harb Street while he was trying to save his homeland by joining his companions gathered in the Tahrir Square. The fall of our martyrs had happened just a few hours earlier. Our youth did not bother to have a count and see which group outnumbers the other. They did not either think about what action to take in the face of the “unarmed” forces (according to the press conference) showering them with bullets.

They were only worried about the gravity of events that might follow if they left the Square to the demonstration of mercenaries shouting “Islamic! Islamic!”… a demonstration organized with the blessing of the army and the police. We all knew it was a fabricated demonstration, an attempt to bring a civilian touch to a military-driven massacre, thus directing the blame towards the Salafis.

We saw in Ahmed a mythical hero when he resisted his friends and refused to be hospitalized claiming that his wound is superficial and is just an impact of a tiny projectile. Still, we managed to convince him and take him away on our shoulders. On our way by taxi to a private hospital, away from the events’ scene, he told us how he was arrested and tortured by the “honest” military and how he was allowed a “fair” trial in a military tribunal. He told us how he got shot during the Abbassiya battle of treachery. His injuries did not prevent him from rejoining his companions who were facing the horror of live bullets.

Once at the hospital, and after we confirmed he was hit by live bullets and not just tiny projectiles, we were visited by a police investigator. Ahmed’s resolution was impressive, replying cold-bloodedly and defiantly to the officer’s questions. He impressed us further when he showed his disgust following the officer’s asking his name: “So you’re a Muslim”… Would he have refused his release from the hospital if he were e a Christian? The only moment during which Ahmed showed his vulnerability, just like ours, was when he cried while the doctor was sterilizing his wound. We haven’t noticed his young age until he replied with fear to his mother calling him on his mobile: “Maspero? What do I have to do with that Mum? I’m hanging out with my friends…”

Does Major General Hamdi Bedeen realize that some of us fear our loving mothers more than they fear bullets and tanks? Did the Marshal hear us shout “O Marshal, O Marshal, here comes another bridegroom from Tahrir” while taking Meena on his last visit to the square? Does anyone of the military realize the deep meaning out of seeing the mother of Khaled Said visiting the mother of Meena Daniel? Or did they forget the value of blood, tears, hugs and dreams? They no longer have a place amongst us but we are more tolerant towards those who let us down in the beginning.

Free Bahrain's Ali Abdulemam

Blogger Ali Abdulemam was arrested over a month ago and has been held in solitary detention ever since. His trial is today, but the charges against him are unknown. There is an active campaign in his favor, which produced the above video. Abdulemam's arrest is part of a wider crackdown on civil society that has taken place in recent weeks, with many arrested and held illegally and fears that they may be subjected to torture.

Update: Here's an AP report from the trial.

The Real Bahrain

The Real Bahrain - WSJ.com

In 2005, The Wall Street Journal carried a front-page news story about Ali Abdulemam, a young blogger in Bahrain, the island nation off Saudi Arabia's coast that hosts the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet. The article reported that Mr. Abdulemam's blog mixed "irreverent politics and reverent Islam," and that Mr. Abdulemam had, several years earlier, stopped using a pseudonym. This was remarkable since Bahrain's Sunni-led government has historically used arbitrary detention, torture and other tactics to stifle calls for political equality by Bahrain's majority-Shia population. Mr. Abdulemam's decision to post openly came after King Hamad, who assumed power in 1999, had instituted reforms that included holding elections for an advisory parliament and ending torture.

It would be telling—but impossible—to ask Mr. Abdulemam if he now regrets discarding the pseudonym. On Sept. 4, Bahrain's National Security Apparatus called him to appear for questioning. After making a Facebook post about the call and attempting to contact a lawyer, Mr. Abdulemam left for the Apparatus's headquarters. He did not return.

The next Mr. Abdulemam's family heard of him was from a government news agency's story, reporting that prosecutors were questioning Mr. Abdulemam in a "terrorist network" investigation. Mr. Abdulemam, the account continued, had been "diffusing fabricated and malicious news on Bahrain" and receiving funding from a London-based "terror mastermind."

In retrospect, events during the last weeks of August foretold Mr. Abdulemam's arrest. On Aug. 13, authorities detained longtime opposition figure Abdul-Jalil Singace after he returned to Bahrain from a House of Lords event in London. Shortly after, 20 additional "terrorist network" figures were arrested, including well-known activists, Shia clerics, and a dentist. A charge sheet without reference to any purported facts accused them of "organizing. . . to overthrow and change the political system of the country," and of "working with international organizations."

Also do read this Economist piece on Bahrain.

When slander no longer works

I don't usually like to blog about personality clashes happening in the American blogosphere (the Egyptian already blogosphere and twittosphere provides plenty of amusing clashes) but put up with me on this one.

Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of the leftish but rabidly pro-Israel magazine The New Republic, has penned a 4,000+ word attack on the prominent blogger Andrew Sullivan (of the centrist but rabidly pro-Israel magazine The Atlantic Monthly) calling him an anti-Semite, apparently because he has lately become mildly critical of Israel, or at least of the Netanyahu government, even though he feels obliged to repeatedly profess his love of Israel. 

Only in America.

There's plenty to dislike about Sullivan — another prominent, pro-Israel leftish American blogger, Eric Alterman, once did a fine hatchet job on his schizophrenia as a liberal Republican in the age of George W. Bush — but he certainly is not an anti-Semite, as many have rushed to point out. I perhaps liked best prominent blogger Matthew Yglesias' (of the progressive ThinkProgress, which is reasonable on Israel) take:

If you call anti-semites anti-semites, then people who aren’t motivated by anti-Jewish racism will figure “hey, since my political opinions aren’t motivated by anti-Jewish racism, then I’m safe.” The idea is to put everyone on notice that mere innocence will be no defense. 

Yglesias goes on, rightly, to defend the likes of Walt & Mearsheimer from the anti-Semitic label that Wieseltier likes to use. I think this is one of those moments in American intellectual life where everyone, long after having realized it, can actually finally say that the emperor has no clothes, and that the bullying of the likes of Wieseltier, Krauthammer, Peretz and other will simply not be taken seriously at all. Now, let's get on with the business of criticizing Israel and its influence on American policy in the region (which has plenty of faults that have nothing to do with Israel) as we do so many other countries.

Links for Jan.05.10
akhbare-rooz (iranian political Bulletin) | List of organizations considered "subversive" by Iranian ministry of inteligence [in Farsi].
The Daily Star - The Gaza scorecard, one year later | Rami Khouri.
Israel approves east Jerusalem building project | Yet another new settlement.
Library of Congress on Islam in Early America « Anonymous Arabist وين الناس | Fascinating.
Tweet freedom | On Twitter activism in Egypt, unfortunately confuses arabawy.org for arabist.net.
Cairo's US Embassy is Worse by Far | Mamoun Fandy: "The embassy has become an embodiment of the meaning of disgracefulness in Cairo, in terms of people's behavior, rudeness, and impoliteness."
gary's choices - The Decade's First Revolution? | Gary Sick on Iran.
لا لحجب الإنترنت بالجزائر - Non à la censure de l'Internet en Algérie - No to Internet Censorship in Algeria Petition | Petition.
Egyptian minister slams Al-Jazeera for 'instigating civil war' - Ynetnews | Over Gaza wall.
Video: Gaza war: One year on, Palestinians struggle to rebuild life from the rubble | guardian.co.uk |
CIA Bomber a Jihadi Blogger? — jihadica | Interesting background on Abu Dujana, as the bomber was allegedly known.
Dear Metallica | Letter asking the metal band not to perform in Israel.
Free Barghouti Now - Haaretz | OK.
The Daily Nuisance | News From The Frontier | New online site from Israel/Palestine
Three days in Iran - The Big Picture - Boston.com | Great pics of Iranian protests.
Links for Dec.13.09 to Dec.16.09
� Egypt puts archives on Web to boost Arabic content | But what's the address?
� Muslims in Europe: A Report on 11 EU Cities | Open Society Institute | Tons of interesting questions raised by this ground-breaking poll.
� Abkhazia Is Recognized by Even Smaller Nauru - NYTimes.com | Sharqeya next?
â�© Pro-Israel Lobby Group’s Iran Petition Features Lots of Questionable Names « The Washington Independent | Such as "Porn Sex Video" and Comfylovely".
� LedgerGermane: Karzai Says Afghan Army Will Need Help Until 2024 | Yikes.
� Future of US-Egypt Relations: A View from the Next Generation | Notes on another POMED event.
� POMED Event: U.S. Military Assistance: Obstacle or Opportunity for Reform? | Steven Cook, Emile Hokayem, etc. some discussion of Egypt-US military relations.
� Mideastwire.com | Zaitout: reports about Algeria-US agreement over temporary military bases | Handle with care.
� British court issued Gaza arrest warrant for former Israeli minister Tzipi Livni | The Guardian | More of this please.
� Nights to remember - The National Newspaper | Arabian Nights conference in NYU Abu Dhabi.
� Obama's Big Sellout : Rolling Stone | Must-read Matt Taibbi story on Obama's bailout of Wall Street.
� Al-Masry Al-Youm | Police raid home of prominent blogger | Wael Abbas sentenced to six months of prison in absentia for stealing his neighbors' internet??!?!
� We will not bow to this Moroccan king | Paul Laverty and Ken Loach | Comment is free | The Guardian | Strongly worded op-ed for Aminatou Haidar.
� David Ignatius - Jordan's ex-spy chief wasn't too good to be true | On former GID chief Saad Kheir - a dubious tribute.
� Orientalism in Reverse | Brian Whitaker critiques Joseph Massad's "Gsy International" theory.

Links for 11.16.09 to 11.18.09
ضغوط أمريكية لزيادة الغاز المصري لإسرائيل وخفض أسعاره - بوابة الشروق | al-Shurouk reports that US is asking Egypt to increase gas deliveries to Israel, and at cheaper price.
US rebukes Israel on settlement plans - Yahoo! News | ... but will do nothing about it.
Nubian fury at 'monkey' lyric of Arab pop star Haifa Wehbe | World news | The Guardian | The Haifa Wehbe / Nubian scandal.
The Obama admin is selling the peace process, but the press is not buying it. | Phil Weiss has surreal transcript from State Dept. over new settlements.
Readability - An Arc90 Lab Experiment | Very nice bookmarklet for reading long articles.
Palestinians say they will ask UN to recognise state - Yahoo! News | Doesn't the UN already accept previous resolutions with the 1967 line? Regarding my previous comment on US senators' call for a veto, the Palestinians do appear to want to take it to UNSC, not UNGA.
Le Figaro - Conjoncture : Le grand Monopoly mondial des terres agricoles | Nice chart accompanying this article on the sale of arable land to food importing nations.
U.S. "would veto" Palestinian state move: Senators - Yahoo! News | I suspect recognition by the UN would take place by the General Assembly, not the Security Council, so that turncoat Lieberman can take his veto and shove it...
The pro-Israel lobby in Britain: full text | openDemocracy | Report on UK Israel lobby by documentary filmmaker Peter Oborne.
FT.com - Inflation rears its head again in Egypt | Mostly affecting food prices ahead of Eid.
Egyptian Blogger Beaten | "During the mayhem of a major soccer match, Egyptian blogger Kareem el-Shae’r was kidnapped and beaten. El-Shae’r moderates the Free Egypt blog and is a member of Ayman Nour’s el-Ghad party and the April 6 Youth movement. For his activism, el-Shae’r has been arrested several times and beaten before. The Egyptian interior ministry refused to comment on the incident."
Gaddafi hires 200 young Italian women – to convert them to Islam | And tries to convert them to Islam.
Israel must end Gaza blockade, evictions, alleged abuse of Palestinian children - Ban | "Israel should end the blockade of Gaza, cease evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes, and ensure that the rights of children are respected and that all allegations of torture and ill-treatment are promptly investigated and perpetrators prosecuted, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in an annual report released today."
Yemen Finds Dreamland of Architecture - NYTimes.com | On Yemen's traditional architecture.
The Arabs by Eugene Rogan | Book review | The Guardian | Robert Irwin reviews this book, which I am currently reading.

Links for 11.07.09 to 11.09.09

Israeli Asks Abbas Not to Step Down - NYTimes.com | What a weird headline: the Israeli in question is the president of Israel, Shimon Peres (aka Skeletor, Evil Lord of Destruction). Not that knowing this makes the whole thing any less weird, although it is telling to see how much the Israelis like Abbas.


Fatah al-Islam Connected to Israeli Elements- Lebanese Security Source Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English) | Really: Fatah al-Islam, connected to the Palestinians, the Syrians, the Americans, the Saudis and now the Israelis. I am beginning to wonder whether it even exists.


The Dark Side of the Bright Side -- In These Times | I love Barbara Ehrenreich's books.


The Associated Press: Islamic critics blast Beyonce on eve of Egypt show | Muslim Brothers attack "nudity concert".


23 CIA Officers Convicted in Italy, in Abstentia | For extraordinary rendition of Egyptian man.


Middle East Bloggers: The Street Leads Online - Reports - Committee to Protect Journalists | CPJ report on bloggers in MENA, especially the rising use of emprisonment against them: "Individual bloggers face enormous threats; the medium as a whole faces significant challenges. Increasingly, governments are creating new laws to regulate the Internet and amending old ones to encompass online expression. Already authorities are exploiting the isolated nature of bloggers and the lack of institutional protections for online journalists. As the Iranian regime exhibited this year, governments are willing to take severe measures when they perceive a threat to their power."


Holiday sales could launch e-book readers as mass-market must-haves | If you're interested in ebooks, this is a pretty good piece on the state of the industry. Has anyone tried Kindle downloading in Egypt? Is it restricted?


Japanese contractors owed billions by Dubai firms - The National Newspaper | Dubai is a bad debtor.


Waq al-Waq: The Big Question for Saudi Arabia | Who runs Saudi Arabia's Yemen policy?


Obama's Failure in the Middle East | Stephen M. Walt | KA-POW: "I never thought I'd write the following words, but is it possible that Obama's handling of the I-P peace process might actually end up being worse than George Bush's?"


Berman’s Response to Goldstone on House Gaza War-Crimes Resolution « The Washington Independent | The assholes who run Congress reply to Goldstone.


Report: Mossad hacked Syrian computer to uncover nuke site - Haaretz - Israel News | Basic snooping software found super-classified info? Either this is not true or the Syrians are mega-stupid. But since the allegation is that Syria had a secret nuclear research facility, I'll lean towards the former - this was all bullshit from the beginning.


ATTACKERMAN » Somewhere, Khaled Meshal Is Laughing | Obama messed up doubly with Goldstone as well as backing down on settlements. What's a Palestinian leader (any of them outside Hamas) to do?


Lebanese opposition agrees to govt line-up: Hezbollah


(AFP) | Cabinet crisis over?


Clinton has 'productive meeting' with Egypt on Mideast peace process - washingtonpost.com | Hosni Mubarak loves nothing more than being made to feel important. Clinton's entire trip to Cairo is about this: "Clinton attributed the apparent softening in Egypt's position as a response to her personal diplomacy, conducted over visits to four capitals in the region over the past five days. "I thought it was a very productive meeting," she told reporters traveling with her after the news conference, adding that it "shows the value of consultation and listening and sharing ideas and hearing the other side and putting forward your views and explaining.""




Links for 10.26.09 to 10.27.09
LRB · Nicolas Pelham: Diary | Nic Pelham's diary about Gaza.
Almasry Alyoum | NDP Talks Youth | Second in a series on youth and the NDP in Egypt: “We have to use the Internet, especially with so many people trying to turn our achievements into failures and to tarnish the reputation of public symbols. We have to be present online to correct those misconceptions.” Now who could they be talking about?
Almasry Alyoum| Gamal Mubarak: Nepotism "Unknown To Private Sector" | In this story, Gamal says nepotism "is part of Egyptian culture." You don't say.
Chomsky Receives Highest Pentagon Honor | Chomsky book "Interventions" banned in Gitmo.
YouTube - Slackistan Trailer | This is a good and funny idea - you could do it in the Arab world, too.
Inanities: The Gamal Show | About Gamal's Sharek event: "The Gamal Show is Gamal Mubarak’s attempt to convince us that he’s Barack Obama."
Bakchich: Interroger des… interrogatoires | Accounts of police interrogations of non-fasters in Morocco, interrogates them about Abou Bakr Jamai (prominent editor forced into exile), and more. Thoroughly depressing.
Arab Media & Society | The end of the beginning: The failure of April 6th and the future of electronic activism in Egypt | About online activism, its failure so far, and how to move beyond cynicism.
Almasry Alyoum | Gamal Mubarak And The Power Of Web 2.0 | First in a series of articles about the NDP's efforts to attract young Egyptians to politics. This one focuses on Gamal Mubarak's "Sharek" (Participate) online Q&A event.
J Street's Ben-Ami On Zionism and Military Aid to Israel - Jeffrey Goldberg | A very revealing interview of J Street's Jeremy Ben-Ami which conirms my doubts about the whole project.
Morocco press freedom on the decline, RSF study shows (Magharebia.com) | A marked increase in fines, imprisonement and intimidation of the press.
Dar Al Hayat - A Presidential Battle without Candidates | Muhammad Salah on the Egyptian presidency.

Links for 09.20.09 to 09.21.09
✪ Blogging in the Middle East: License to Differ | Good response to Larry Pintak's and Yousri Fouda's rather misguided piece on blogger-journalists.

✪ To each according to his greed—By Slavoj Zizek (Harper's Magazine) | On the global economic crisis.

✪ A man of extinction: J.G. Ballard's distinctive cast of mindâBy Nicholas Fraser (Harper's Magazine) | Good article on J.G. Ballard (sub).

✪ Entering Gaza: The Hard Way in from Egypt - TIME | Account of the border crossing at Rafah.

✪ Fashion, Qaddafi-Style | vanityfair.com | Slideshow of Qadhadi's sartorial experiments.
Links for 07.31.09
allAfrica.com: Egypt: Bloggers Fly Into Security Trap (Page 1 of 1) | On the recent spate of arrests of bloggers at Cairo Airport. Makes you think, did they get a new computer system or what?
Grading places - The National Newspaper | Marc Lynch on AHDR 2009: I don't get what all the debate is about.
The Federal Budget and Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2010: Democracy, Governance, and Human Rights in the Middle East | Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) | Well-researched report on US democracy promotion spending in the Middle East.
From the inside - The National Newspaper | Iason Athanasiadis on his ordeal in Iran.
EGYPT: Coptic pope likes president's son | Babylon & Beyond | Los Angeles Times | Shenouda yet again says he supports Gamal Mubarak presidency.

Links for 07.23.09 to 07.24.09
Ethar El-Katatney's Published Stories: Online Archive | This writer recently was awarded a prize for Middle Eastern journalism, check out the interesting story about Egyptians doing business on Facebook.
Hymen: The Arabs’ Finest Fetish « the long slumber | Continuing on a quite original series about sexuality in the Arab world.
Organ Trafficking the Only Solution for Egypt's Poor | AHN | "The World Health Organization considers Egypt to be the Middle Eastern epicenter of organ trafficking, one of the top five 'hot-spots' after China, the Philippines, and India."
Activists say Israel gave key site to settlers (AFP) | It continues... "AFP - Israel has handed control over much of a key Palestinian area in annexed east Jerusalem to hardline settler groups in a creeping takeover kept away from public scrutiny, a report by an activist group said on Thursday."
Israel cuts 1948 'catastrophe' from Arabic texts - Yahoo! News | Classy.
Blast injures 50 at wedding for nephew of Fatah leader - CNN.com | Assassination attempt against Muhammad Dahlan?

Links for 07.22.09 to 07.23.09
Writer banned from ‘DailyKos’ after satirizing settlements | Shame!
More of the Worlds Worst Dictators | Parade.com | What, Hosni only at #20?
מגזין הכיבוש Occupation Magazine | How Israel is hiring students and demobilized soldiers to wage a propaganda war through comments across the web.
Israeli FM wants Hitler photo to mute world pressure - Yahoo! News | Pathetic.
Saudi Efforts to Combat Terrorist Financing - WINEP | I hate to link to WINEP's fluff piece for Stuart Levey, but my hatred for the al-Sauds trumps all. Of course they tolerate individuals who donate to extremists, and we still don't know enough about their role in 9/11.
Mubarak invited to Washington in August | The Cable | Egyptian reports had put date at August 15, this says August 17. But will it not be a state visit? Nothing formal announced by White House yet.
Amnesty condemns Saudi anti-terror campaign | World news | The Guardian | This comes after years of hearing about how great the Saudi rehabilitation model is... but many of those arrested in anti-terror campaign are just dissidents.