On a break
Be Back Sunday!
Be forewarned: The writer of this blog is an extremely cynical, snarky, pro-US, secular, libertarian, disgruntled sandmonkey. If this is your cup of tea, please enjoy your stay here. If not, please sod off
Since we agreed to let the road between us
Fall to disuse,
And bricked our gates up, planted trees to screen us,
And turned all time's eroding agents loose,
Silence, and space, and strangers - our neglect
Has not had much effect.
Leaves drift unswept, perhaps; grass creeps unmown;
No other change.
So clear it stands, so little overgrown,
Walking that way tonight would not seem strange,
And still would be followed.
A little longer, And time would be the stronger,
Drafting a world where no such road will run
From you to me;
To watch that world come up like a cold sun,
Rewarding others, is my liberty.
Not to prevent it is my will's fulfillment.
Willing it, my ailment.
Goodbye ! Sam
I just want to set a couple of things straight: I am not taking every opportunity to criticize Islam, nor am I an Islamophobe (and yes, I am aware that Faithfreedom.org exists, thank you very much, so stop forwarding its link to me). I am just pointing out the issues that I think deserve to be debated in our Islamic culture and I welcome anyone's opinion who can actually give me an argument or show me where I am wrong. And no, "Cause God said so" doesn't cut it! And yes, I will continue pointing to the things that I believe to be wrong in the Islamic ideology and not point to the positive stuff. My goal is to neither defame nor defend, but rather to fix. To reform. To clean up the mess that those clerics -who do nothing but encourage their followers to accept instead of think and analyze- put the majority of the Muslim world in. Despite Popular belief and logic, pointing to the good stuff doesn’t make the bad stuff go away, nor does it excuse it. Fix the bad stuff, then point all you like to the good stuff, ok? I know it may sound completely arrogant; I know that I may not be the best candidate or advocate for Islamic reform; and I know that I don’t have all the answers nor will I be able to change the whole world. But I am fed up with the way things are and I am willing to give it shot. I am willing to talk about it. I am willing to point at the things that we all know are wrong and say “That ain’t right!” I may not know all the solutions but I can identify the problems and that’s a place to start from. I may not be able to change the world but I will be pretty damn stoked if I can get 10 people to change their minds or at least open them to other possibilities and think things over. You know? Stop repeating that Islam is a word that comes from peace, and that the only problem Islam has is the misconceptions of the ignorant west. You know it’s not true. Islam means submission, and while the west has its wrong misconceptions about it, it still has its share of problems, whether in the sharia, the people practicing it or in the Islamic culture as it is known today. It’s time to stop pointing fingers, stop making excuses, or point to other religions and cultures and say “They do it too!” or “Look at the problems they are having, is that any better?” The fact that there are other people doing wrong things doesn’t excuse the wrong things you do. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is. Break Time is over people. We have serious problems and we need serious people to solve them in the Islamic world. And yes, I am talking to you! Offer arguments, propose solutions, join the debate, and help out, or shut the fuck up. There are enough dickheads out there making the Islamic people look bad as it is, they don’t need your help defending them. Ok? And if you do defend them, take a cold hard look to what exactly you are defending first. You are not defending Islam or Muslims, you are defending those who have made a possible terrorist suspect in the whole world out of you. They are not doing you any favors, so stop defending them and stop condoning them. They are the ones- not the west, not the Jews, and not the Christians-who are giving you and your religion a bad name. Put the blame where it belongs! It’s time to clean the house people… Who is with me?
In case you didn't read it, go check out Nadz take on an article that defines the role women are supposed to have in Islam. Needless to say, she rips the writer a new one!
Okay, this just pisses me off: A Muslim sheik told followers at a public meeting in Bankstown that women who were raped had incited men's lust by dressing immodestly and only had themselves to blame. Sydney-born Sheik Faiz Mohamad, 34, a former boxer who teaches at the Global Islamic Youth Centre in Liverpool, made the comments during a lecture for more than 1000 people at Bankstown Town Hall. The Sun-Herald has a recording of the March 18 speech in which Sheik Faiz said: "A victim of rape every minute somewhere in the world. Why? No one to blame but herself. She displayed her beauty to the entire world . . . "Strapless, backless, sleeveless, nothing but satanic skirts, slit skirts, translucent blouses, miniskirts, tight jeans: all this to tease man and appeal to his carnal nature." He compared a woman dressed in such a way to a sheep. "Would you put this sheep that you adore in the middle of hungry wolves? No . . . It would be devoured. It's the same situation here. You're putting this precious girl in front of lustful, satanic eyes of hungry wolves. What is the consequence? Catastrophic devastation, sexual harassment, perversion, promiscuity." Ok, can we just say this one more time please: WHAT THE WOMEN WEARS OR DOESN'T WEAR IS NOT AN EXCUSE FOR RAPE! I don't care if she walks naked in the street, it doesn't freakin matter, that still doesn't give anyone an excuse or an invite to raping her. CAPICE? This drives me nuts, because it's not just this crazy bastard in Australia, its a view held by many many people and i am ashamed to say many many egyptians. Even the women. The women will blame the girl who get raped for getting raped, for "walking alone at night dressed this way", even if dressed this way is nothing but an unveiled girl wearing tight pants. It is not the man's fault at all, men are animals, they can't help it. BULLSHIT! This is my greatest beef with Islam and Muslims (including friends, co-wrokers and members of my own family), when it really comes down to it: the belief that men and women are nothing but animals or pieces of flesh; that women have to cover themselves cause they might entice men to sin or rape them and that men should not be punished or held accountable for not having any self-control. "I couldn't help it, the way she was dressed made me rape her" shouldnt even be contemplated as an excuse. I am sorry, just ain't happening. And while we are at it, leaving a man and a woman in a room together doesn't mean that they will automatically have sex. I know it's a hard concept to grasp, but women won't just spread their legs to the first man who manages to get in a room with her; and neither will men automatically sleep with any woman that they are left alone in a room with. Take my word for it, it doesn't work like that! We are not cats and dogs people and there are things called attraction, self-respect, and that really strange concept called self-restraint. You may not have heard of it before, but it does exist, and it is not another tool for the evil west to corrupt our islamic morals and faith. And while we are at it, if you are really a good muslim and really have faith, then it doesn't matter what the woman is wearing, you shouldn't be sleeping with her in the first place, RIGHT? Remember that whole thing where if you even look at a woman lustfully you are committing Zennah ( fornication)? You do? Good, practice it. The next time you see a woman dressed provocativly, how about you just look away? You are a muslim, you have faith and you are a believer in god; how is it that the godless western heathens manage to hang out at nude beaches and NOT rape the women, while you consider that the way a woman is dressed on the street is an excuse to rape her? Aren't you the moral highground guy? Aren't you the one following god's true religion? Yes? Good, then FUCKIN FOLLOW IT! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Oh, those freakin hypocrites; they make me so so mad.Take deep breaths! Ok, i am calmer now. I propose that we take every man who rapes a woman and cut off his dick and then lump him together with the men who say that women are responsible and at fault for getting raped and send them all to an OZ like US priosn where they are to become official prison Bitches and have them get sodomized at least 4 times daily without condoms for a period that is a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 25 years. We should then release the pictures of the sodomy acts and their video testimonials all over the world and see what those rapist apologists will have to say then about how excusable rape is. Ohh, and if any of them gets HIV for getting raped up the ass by any chance, we will just tell them that they shouldn't have dressed as sexy as they did in Prison. After all, rape is the victim's fault!
I am convinced that no one reads the state-owned Egyptian newspapers the same way that i do. I am. What i notice is never what other people notice, and that's probably because i don't think most people really read it the way it is supposed to be read: a mouthpiece for Mubarak. And the worst, the absolute worst of them all is Al Ahram. Like I remember 2 weeks ago reading those 2 front page news articles, one stating that the change of constitution to allow people to run in presidential elections will include a clause that will prohibit anyone who has any sort of foreign funding ( even from Egyptian abroad) from running. The other was one about the Union of journalists staging a protest against “Foreign intervention”. They seem unrelated, but they are not, especially when you have Ayman Nour being the official challenger- and US favored- in the next election, and you know that he also happens to be a journalist. I remember going to my cousin who works as one of the top managers in another leading state-run newspaper and showed it to him and was like : “Tell me those 2 articles are not related!” and he just laughed and told me “You know they are. It’s official policy now man!” But the thing that riled me up was Yesterday’s newspaper and its FrontPage. One third of it was dedicated to the series of televised Mubarak “candid” interviews called “A word for History” that are conducted by Emad Adib and directed by Sherif Arafah (Egypt’s versions of Larry King and Michael Bay) and broadcasted on Egyptian television, and the satellite broadcasted Arabic speaking Nile news channel and English speaking Nile TV( all also state owned and operated). Among the “news” and “revelations” included in the interview are that 1) Mubarak never received handouts and accomplished everything by himself, which is what thought him responsibility; 2) He doesn’t mind the opposition and never gets mad at someone who disagrees with him and 3) He is the one who rebuilt the Egyptian air force that of course was the #1 reason for our “glorious victory” in the Yom Kippur war. The election campaign is in full effect people. But the interesting thing, and the connection, and the point behind this whole article, is the news article underneath that interview, and that’s the interview that Ibrahim Nafea, the editor in chief, had with Russian President Vladimir Putin. What’s the 36 font bold quote that makes the headline? “ Egypt is operating on the correct political model, and any foreign pressure in the name of Democracy should be opposed and rejected!” Nice, huh? An Egyptian reader will read this and think: “Even the President of Russia sees the American Zionist conspiracy in the name of spreading democracy; I am not the only one who thinks this way!” and will ignore the fact that Putin has been more or less operating as a dictator in Russia and has been warned publicly by Condi to not seek an illegal third term as President. Now tell me that those 2 articles are not connected!
With london's elections looming soon, a group of muslims set out to particpate in the political process, by declaring that any muslim who votes is an apostate. Satire is officially dead! The extreme Islamist group accused of threatening George Galloway and hijacking a meeting of moderate Muslims is planning to step up its direct action campaign to stop fellow believers from participating in the election. The Guardian can reveal that the gang of youths who stormed two election meetings this week are members of al-Ghuraaba, an offshoot of the now disbanded radical organisation al-Muhajiroun. The group's east London campaign is being run by Abdul Mueed, a student, who promised yesterday that al-Ghuraaba would continue to disrupt events and target candidates to get across its message to Muslims that they will go to hell if they vote on May 5. "It is not the lifestyle of a Muslim to vote, and it is not from Islam," Mr Mueed, 22, said last night. "George Galloway and Oona King and the heads of all the political parties are fighting Muslims, they hate the lifestyle of the Taliban and the Muslims living in Iraq, that's why they are willing to carpet bomb them all." Don't you just love it when a 22 year old student- who probably just learned how to tie his own shoes last year- makes such statements about muslims and Islam? Ohh, and you wanna know what happens if you vote, according to Mullah Mueed? The leaflet says voting for a political party is a "major apostasy and will take you outside the fold of Islam ... It will also nullify all your good deeds ... and guarantee your seat in Hellfire forever!" Sweeet! Now it all makes sense. Arabs and muslims are living in dictatorships because voting would make us all apostates. Those despotic arab leaders care about us after all, well, in the after-life anyway! Awwww... You know something though, that democracy is haram stuff, i know i heard it somewhere before. I just can't remember who said it. Rats!
It has been a while since i mentioned the development of the next democracy success story in the middle east: Lebanon! You better get down with the cedar reveloution baby, or get the hell out of its way. Just saying! Well, for starters, the 6 commanders of the lebanese security services alongside State Prosecutor Adnan Addoum are getting removed. The new Secretery of Interior just stated that its a forgone conclusion that their heads will roll. About damn time! They may have killed Rafik Harriri, but as they say in Egypt "He who has children never dies", and that man has 3 sons, and Saad Hariri, the middle son, has been unanimously chosen by the family to take up his father's political mantle. Take that Bisho! Omara Karami says he has been double crossed. Cry me a freakin river will ya? Syria's final withdrawell just got wrapped up and Bush asserts that Syria must get out, Hizballah must disarm, and to drum up global monetary assisstance for Lebanon to get up on its feet. I am guessing the US is gonna get really popular in Lebanon for future generations. Let's hope that everything stays stable and Lebanon returns once again to being the Paris of the middle-east. GO LEBANON!
Ok, I saw this article today and I immediately thought that it qualified as a perfect example of rule # 3 from the 7 rules of the Arab Parallel Universe (A.P.U.): If there is any credit at all that can be contributed to Arabs in any way, they will take it. Here is the money shot: Years of armed struggle by militants, and not negotiation, prompted Israel to decide to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, a top member of the Islamist group Hamas said in a rare interview published on April 14. Mahmoud Zahar, the Hamas leader in its Gaza Strip stronghold, also said that his movement hoped to win its first legislative elections when it stands against Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' moderate Fatah movement in July. "Very simply, nobody can deny that if Israel is going to leave the Gaza Strip and part of the West Bank, that was because of the intifada, because of the armed struggle, because of the big sacrifices of Hamas for this goal," Zahar, 60, told The Times of London newspaper, speaking at a secret location in Gaza. "It was not because of negotiations, or the goodwill of Israel, or the Americans or Europeans," he said. Ok never mind that Sharon has been declaring his “unilateral plan” to pull out from Gaza for the past 2 years while the Palestinians were protesting against it; Never mind that the Israelis made Hamas their bitches and not only killed their spiritual leader Ahemd Yassin- with a freakin missile mind you-but also killed the other 2 leaders that came after him within a week; Never mind that Hamas is so scared that they won’t announce in public the name of their new leader. Never mind all that. Ignore it, we all know that logic is a Jewish Zionistic tool of propaganda anyway. The truth is, apparently, that Hamas are the ones who are kicking Israel out of Gaza and “no one can deny” that! Gotta love the A.P.U. !
It is now official: Joseph "Papa Ratzi" Ratzinger is now officially Pope Benedict XVI. This won't probably go well with those concerned that the Pope might actually be- gasp- a conservative christian. Amongst those people,Tonecluster reports, a guitarist and his girlfriend who think the new Pope is a Neocon and wanted to petition the church not to "ratify the pope". Apparently what they want to do is , and i quote: "Oh, well, then we need to pressure these guys to put someone more liberal in there.. someone who's not a tool for the neocons." God bless the stupid, for they make me laugh!
Colin Powell apparently isn't happy with his exit of the political arena on the hand of W. and he is going for a little revenge: He is influencing 2 wavering republican senators to vote against confirming Botlon. President Bush on Thursday issued a strong new defense of John R. Bolton, his nominee as ambassador to the United Nations. But associates of Colin L. Powell, the former secretary of state, said he had expressed reservations about Mr. Bolton in conversations with at least two wavering Republican senators. The associates said Mr. Powell, in private telephone conversations, had made clear his concerns about Mr. Bolton on several fronts, including his harsh treatment of subordinates. The accounts of Mr. Powell's private messages about Mr. Bolton suggested a new gulf between the former secretary of state and Mr. Bush. In a speech in Washington on Thursday, Mr. Bush portrayed Democratic opposition to Mr. Bolton as politically driven, and urged the Senate to confirm the nomination. The fact that some people still listen to Colin Powell blows my mind. The man has no credibility left, both on the left and the right. Not to mention, he sucked at his job : Condi achieved in the past few months more then he was able to do for 4 full years. You know why? She tells it like it is, and he is more the "diplomatic" type. Which is why he doesn't like Bolton, another tells it like it is guy. This man is being berrated and might not get confirmed for calling Kim Jong II a “tyrannical dictator" and life in North Korea a "hellish nightmare", which for the record is true. Amazingly no one of those attacking him raised a single objection when North Korea called him a "Bloodsucker" and "Human scum". Guess that's the diplomatic term for someone who tells the truth these days!
This is the second part of my airport story. Check out the first part here!
Did you hear that the Pope converted to Islam before he died? No, you didn’t? But that’s all over Egypt. It’s the latest rumor of the week. People who support it point to the fact that the Pope had dirt put on his corps ( an Islamic burial tradition) and that he wanted his memoirs burned to hide his secret conversion of course ( why else would he have them burned they would argue), which he showed in his establishing of good relations with the Muslim community and opposition to the Iraq war. The Pope, they would say without a shred of doubt in their voice, died a muslim. And some people actually believed that! Ain't that some shit? Ohh and in case you haven’t heard, Bill Gates also declared his conversion to Islam. I got that piece of news in an e-mail. Apparently he announced it at a house-party ( where they didn’t serve alcohol I am certain) and told his “shocked” guests that he amassed all the wealth in the world and bought everything he ever wanted, but only found peace of mind in converting to Islam. The E-mail had a snapshot of a newspaper article, which I am sure isn’t made up or anything. And again, apparently some people believed it. Jesus. H. Christ! Ok, what is with muslims? I am begining to think that they may have serious self-esteem issues. Why the making up of stories of celebrities and important people converting to Islam? Does it make them feel better to make up lies? Isn’t it freakin enough that there are more then one billion muslims in the world? Do they also have to have celebrities? What is it? I mean, I am sorry, but you never see the jews bragging about the jewish stars or artists who convert ( Madonna a.k.a. Ester, anyone?). You don’t see them celebrating it! And you don’t see the Christians caring that much when someone who wasn’t suddenly becomes Christian or declares himself born again. I know a lot of Christians and I personally didn’t see anyone excited about the fact that Mase became a reverend or that the guitarist from Korn found Jesus and quit the band. But there isn’t a muslim that I know that doesn’t brag about Mohamed Ali ormention with great pride that Cat Stevens (sorry, Yousef Islam) converting to Islam ; Never mind that Mohamed Ali joined the nation of Islam, which is to Islam what the Mormons are to christianity, and that Cat stevens didn't have a hit out in 20 years (and that "Father and Son" remake with Ronan Keating doesn't count you MTV Europe watching smartass bastards). What is it about muslims? Why do they care so much about celebrity endorsements of Islam? My own theory is that Muslims do have self-esteem issues, and that’s because the majority of Muslim celebrities are, well, let’s just say, not the kind of people you want representing your religious group( Louis Farakhan, Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban, etc..). This is why they love it when a western celebrity converts and will make up stories about it to make themselves feel better. That’s the only explanation that I have for it. Anyone else have a theory? Ohh, and by the way and for the record, Will Smith did not convert to Islam when he was shooting the Movie Ali, no matter what you may have heard. This is an old one, but still lives to this day. If you really want another western celebrity who did convert, check out Everlast. That guy- in his duet with Carlos Santana “ Turn your lights on” on the "Supernatural" CD- actually inserted a “La elah ella Allah” ( There is no god but Allah) line in the end of the song and almost no one noticed. Everlast, however, isn’t that big or famous or know in the world ( A tragedy, since he was the dude in House of Pain that made the song “Jump around”), so i guess it makes sense that no one is bragging about him. No?
Wow, I needed this vacation. 2 days of rest and not watching the news: Does the mind and soul good. You know, between you and me, if I wasn’t such a political junkie, I wish I would be one of those people who don’t know anything about anything that’s going on in the world. I envy the ignorant, the uninformed and the stupid: They have it EASY! Those lucky bastards! Oh well! Ehh, may the blogging commence?
Dear Readers ( Yes! I always wanted to say that.), I wanted to bring two things to your attention: 1) I have been changing the contents and format of my posts a bit lately, you know, giving my blog more of a personal side and writing more personal posts rather then strictly political ones. I am doing that because: 1) It was getting monotonous and I wanted to shake things up a bit; 2) the current political situation has been depressing me- in case you haven’t noticed- and I don’t want this blog to be depressing, which is what it will be in case I keep blogging non-stop about it; and 3) As many people have pointed out to me over and over again, it may be good for my own sake to tone things down a bit for a while. Since I refuse to do that, cause I think it would be the equivalent of selling out, I figured I could tone it down by reducing the quantity of the political posting instead of the quality. This is a good way of doing that I reckoned, because it will keep you guys entertained on the days I am not feeling overtly political. A compromise so to speak! 2) In case you also haven’t noticed (Jeez. You guys need Ritalin or something?), I have been extra prolific today with my posting, and that’s because I am taking a 2 day break from Blogging. It’s vacation time, and my mind and body could use the rest. So I figured I’ve written enough in this blog this past week to keep you busy and entertained for the time being. So don’t go away; go read them and leave lots and lots of comments. Ok? I will be back on Saturday and it will be story time: I will tell you of the time that I got held up at gunpoint at Logan Airport 3 weeks after 9/11 for by-passing all the security checkpoints without an ID or boarding pass and for carrying explosives. And no, I am not kidding. I wish I was! This is a true never-told-before story from the history files of the Sandmonkey, and it will be told for the first time here on Saturday! Make sure you don’t miss it! Love you all, The Sandmonkey PS: Happy Moled El Nabawy everybody!
People seem to be split over the choice of the cardinal conclave to chose cardinal Ratzinger as the newly elected Pope. While some people are relieved that the wait is over, others are concerned that he may not be exactly what the catholic church needs at the moment. Besides the fact that at some point in time he was a member of the Hitler Youth, the New York Times has a list of reasons why his choice may not be a very good one in these modern times. Here is the moneyshot: "Having seen fascism in action, Ratzinger today believes that the best antidote to political totalitarianism is ecclesiastical totalitarianism," he wrote. "In other words, he believes the Catholic Church serves the cause of human freedom by restricting freedom in its internal life, thereby remaining clear about what it teaches and believes." Totalitarianism, indeed, critics might say. They cite a long list of theologians Cardinal Ratzinger has chastised for straying from official doctrine; his condemnation of "relativism," or the belief that other denominations and faiths lead equally to salvation; his denunciation of liberation theology, homosexuality and feminism; his attempt to rein in national bishops conferences; his belief that the Second Vatican Council of the 1960's, which led to a near-revolutionary modernization of the church, has brought corrosive excesses. The man is basically a purist to a radical extent, and that seems to be a problem for those demanding that the church refroms. It is no secret that the Catholic church has been losing members over the years because some of their policies are considered, ehh, to be not compatible with modern times (“using condoms is abortion” anyone?) , not to mention the whole covering up the child molestation thing. Even the biggest defenders of the catholic church must’ve cringed when they saw that good ole Cardinal Shaw was given the honor of being one of the 9 main cardinals at the Pope’s funeral. It just didn’t look right! Anyway.. The whole thing doesn’t affect me really since I am not catholic, so whether or not Ratzinger( BTW, does anyone else thinks he looks scary?) will be an extremely conservative pope doesn’t bother me much. I was however interested in the pope selection process because they were mentioning that there is a chance that the new pope may be Black or Hispanic. It made me wonder what the worldwide catholic reaction to a Black pope would be: Would the white Catholics be ok with it? Would it be hailed by Black people as a victory for the black race? Would it piss the Hispanics off? Does it matter at all what color the pope is? Some people argue that a black pope would help draw more black people to the Catholic Church. I guess they are trying to offset the fact that more and more white people are joining the Baptist church. Hmm……
This little anecdote was told to me by my co-worker W. today and i thought i would share it with y'all. Make of it what you please: After work Yesterday W. had to hail a cab to go home, because his car is currently at the car shop getting fixed. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts to get a cab to stop and take him to El Mohandeseen neighborhood- Egyptian cab drivers are snobbier then NYC cabdrivers if you can imagine such a thing- where he lives, one finally agreed to stop for him. The following is what happened: W. (opening the cardoor and attempting to get in to sit- car door not shut yet mind you): “El Sallam Alleikom!” CD: “Why did you close the car door by slamming it?” W. ( looks at still the open door confused): “Ehh.. The door is still open; I still haven’t even shut it! What are you talking about?” CD (indignantly): “Well, it seemed like you are the kind who slams other people’s car doors. You seemed like you wanted to slam it. What am I supposed to do, wait till you slam my door?” W. ( realizing that the man is a litle cooco): “Nope. No one can fault you there! Here ( closes the car door very slowly), is that ok?” CD (huffily): “That’s ok. It’s just that people coming in and out of my cab keep slamming my door, slam slam slam. It’s messing the door up and it is gonna cost me money to fix it. And the country’s economic condition sucks. No one has money! What am I supposed to do? Wait till you people break it I have to fix it? Huh?” W. (sinking in his chair and cursing the day his a/c broke down): “Ooookk!” After an undisclosed period of uncomfortable silence, the Cab driver starts to yell again... CD (in anger): “Ohh, that’s great. That’s just terrific!” W. ( kinda bored): “What is it now? What’s wrong?” CD (still angry): “Look at the road, it’s empty. There is very little traffic!” W. (confused): “and that’s a bad thing because..???” CD (annoyed and irritated): “Cause it probably means that Habib El Aadly ( Minister of Interior, the big police and security Honcho) is going to pass by soon. If the streets are empty here it’s because they are emptying it for him. Those Goddamn police bastards. May god have mercy on us and take ( i.e. kill) them!” W. stays silent and doesn’t say a thing! CD: “Anyway. So, where exactly do you want to get off?” W.: “You know Habib El Aadly’s house?” CD (bitterly): “Of Course! Who doesn’t know where his highness resides?” W. (very matter-of-fact-ly): “Right there!” CD (now looking a little worried and nervous): “Well, I hope you didn’t get me wrong about him! Besides what those people who work under him do to please him, He is a great man and a great minister of interior. ( he starts talking a little faster now) The man provides us all with great security and safety. I wish all the ministers were like Habib El Aadly. A man of great integrity and honor. And all the people love him. Especially me! I really really love that man and I wish that he never ever gets replaced!” W. stays silent and only nods his head. Within a minute the cab had stopped next to the El Aadly residence and W. got out and proceeded to give the man the fare, when the man started refusing to take it. CD (in a slightly loud voice): “No way sir. There is no way I am taking this cab fare from you. You are a great man and you honored me by riding in my cab. It’s not everyday that I get a customer like yourself. This time it’s on me.( His tone suddenly turns desperate) I can’t take your money. I just want you to know that I love Mr. Habib, and I love President Mubarak, may he keep on living. May them both lead long prosperous life. I have 3 kids and I need to raise them. They have no one in this world to take care of them but me. ( He then goes back to being slightly loud) And this is a great country and we live in the best ages of democracy and prosperity. Long Live Egypt and long live Mubarak!” And then the cab driver drives off quickly without taking his fare, and before W. gets the chance to tell him that he lives in the building on the opposite side of El Aaadly residence.
Yesterday my dad informed me of something that we both found very amusing: One of his friends, who happens to be one of the leaders of the Egyptian socialist Tagamo’ party, received a surprise phone call from President Hosny Mubarak the other day. On the phone the president was extremely nice, informing the man how in case he decides to run again he would like to depend on their party’s support, and how for it he promises to be willing to discuss things and meet their demands and how all of us Egyptians should stand with each other against “foreign intervention”. The man told my dad that he started calling other political leaders to find out if this was an isolated incident and he came to find out that most of them did get a similar phone call as well. It seems that, for the first time ever, Hosny Mubarak is actually campaigning for the support of the opposition parties. I guess it only makes sense. I mean if I were him and I am so desperate that i am negotiating an alliance with the MB, I would want to get the other parties support as well. After all, he really doesn’t want to have someone else running against him and challenging him on his record. And even if someone did run opposing him, and only got like 200 votes, it’s still 200 votes too much for his liking. The man is really scared and I can’t help but be loving it! I am loving it, because for 24 years this man with his god-like executive powers has done nothing but make the life of every and any egyptian opposition very very difficult. And now he is shmoozing for their support. I can’t imagine how it’s like for him to lose the backing of the USA so publicly to the extent that he needs, for the first time ever, to kiss ass with those he previously deemed too insignificant to even talk to. Must really really really suck!
Awesome Book. From the same guy who wrote American Psycho and Less then Zero, and it's equally funny and equally brutal! Some of my favorite Quotes so far: “A smart suit," she sighs. "Being buff. A cool haircut. Worrying about whether people think you're famous enough or cool enough or in good enough shape or . . . or whatever." She sighs, gives up, stares at the ceiling. "These are not signs of wisdom, Victor," she says. "This is the bad planet."
TALK, v.t. To commit an indiscretion without temptation, from an impulse without purpose.
A piece of news caught my eyes on the front page of the Egyptian Today newspaper the other day, so I figured I would tell you all about it, and you can decide whether it’s something funny, or tragic, or tragically funny. Ok? The piece of news was talking about the diligent efforts of the Egyptian Anti-drug administration fighting the drug menace that is Marijuana, by arresting the people who sell T-shirts with Marijuana leafs on them ( example here) or that may have drug friendly verbal content, and stickers and key chains in the shape of a Marijuana Plant. The article was mentioning how the police arrested about 5 shop honors, and about 10 workers with the charge of “Promoting drug-use” and as evidence they seized and I quote: “130 T-shirts with ‘Unlawful’(without mentioning what makes it unlawful mind you) drawings and verbal content, 3 hats, 13 metal key chains and 33 car stickers all shapes and sizes in the shape of a Marijuana leaf.” The Article also said the following: “ And it should be noted that there were previous numerous media campaigns that have warned of the spreading of strange sentences and slogans on the cloths of girls and boys that contradict our definition of morality and encourages decadence and debauchery, alongside with stores that got involved in selling gear that gets used by some society members that fall in the dangerous trap of blindly imitating the west and following western traditions that are not suitable or compatible with our traditions and society”! Ok, when I first read this article I fell on the floor laughing cause i thought it was a joke or someone’s idea of a satire, but it seemed to be serious and legit ( front page and all), which made it all the funnier. The reason why it’s so damn funny is due to the fact that like many other Egyptians, I am aware of the fact that the whole Egyptian Anti-drug administration doesn’t really try to arrest drug dealers, but actually collaborates with them and facilitates the drug trade all over Cairo. If you think I am kidding then drive your car to either the Suez or the Wahhatt highways and you will find every 100 meters or so a number of kids ages 11-22 standing alongside the road and all of them sell drugs. You park your car and they come over and lean on the car, you tell them what you want and they sell it to you and then you drive away. A couple of miles later you will find a police checkpoint where they will only stop your car and find the drugs and arrest your astonished ass. What you don’t know is that the drug dealing kid, while leaning in your car and talking to you, uses a piece of chalk to mark your car from the side. The cops at the check point only stop the cars with such a mark, because they know that you have drugs on board. Now you have 3 options: 1) you call your highly connected mommy, daddy, Uncle or friend and he talks to the cops and gets you out of it, and convinces then to let you go in exchange of a future favor ( very few can pull it off); or 2) you bribe the police with a lot of money to let you go and you have to give them the drugs as well (a lot of people do that); or 3) The cops will arrest your poor unconnected common Egyptian ass and hauls it to jail for a couple of days where they will beat the shit out of you and then you will have yourself a drug charge and you will get your car confiscated ( the unfortunate rest). The beauty of the deal is that the cops get to arrest some people, make a lot of bribe money or do some really important people “a big favor” that they can cash on later on, and the drug dealers get to sell their drugs and make their profit- which they share with the cops naturally- without ever getting hassled or arrested. The perfect example of a symbiotic relationship; everyone wins! Well, almost everyone! Ohh , and in the case you are one of those selfish drug dealers that want to keep all their profit to themselves, the police will make an example out of you so that the others will learn that sharing is indeed caring and that selfishness will get you in trouble. They will arrest your ass, steal any cash you may have around, and take away all your drugs, yet will only report the exact amount necessary to make it a major drug bust while dividing the remaining drugs among themselves. The officer who gets his share can then chose to use the drugs himself, or give them to a friend, or give them to a drug dealer who will sell it for him and give him the profit or have it around in case he ever has to arrest someone for whatever reason and needs some evidence to plant. I will never forget the day I was with my friend Sameh and his Police officer friend came over and gave him 4 KG of Hash wrapped in newspapers that were “his share” of today’s bust. That day we ended up getting a huge amount of free drugs from a police officer. Isn’t that nice? I thought it was very sweet of him. So yeah, you can imagine my shock- or disgust, up to you really- when I found out that the anti-drug police was arresting shop owners and workers who were selling shirts and car stickers with marijuana on them while allowing the actual drug dealers to have free reign and sell the actual drugs to whomever they please. I thought it was kinda ironic that they were arresting those earning their income through legitimate means and letting go of those who didn’t, you know? Anyway.. So upon reading this piece of news, I started calling everyone that I know that had such a shirt or had a pot sticker on his car to inform them of this disturbing new development, to find out that they already know: The ones with pot stickers on their cars got arrested and charged with “conspiracy to promote drug” and had their cars seized and confiscated because it was a “drug promoting and advertising” tool. Their parents freaked out and called all of their friends and relatives, and faster then you can say “Reefer Madness” any T-shirt the kids of those people had that had any kind of plant or tree or English sentences on them were thrown in the trash can. The Mass hysteria then flowed all over the malls in Egypt, with the owners quickly going through their stock and getting rid of any merchandise that may remotely resemble the criteria used by the police for arresting shop-owners and workers. Better safe then sorry , you know? Upon finding all of this out I started to think that the joke wasn’t all that funny anymore, and I certainly stopped laughing all together when I watched the Interview that the popular Egyptian TV Talk-show “ The House is Your House” had with the head of the Anti-drug administration. The following quotes are his responses to the questions presented to him by the 2 hosts of the show. Those are his actual words, I swear I am not making this up: On the purpose of this new campaign that just started out of nowhere and whether there is a point to arresting those people: “The Law is clear. It states that any one who promoted, aided in the promotion, advertised, educated or advocated any form of drugs or drug-use is aiding in drug trafficking. That’s what having those disgusting shirts are doing. Those kids who are wearing them are blindly imitating the west (That sentence again! Talking points anyone?) without any respect to our society, tradition ,laws or reality. I mean, look at this shirt for example, it shows a Marijuana Leaf and the word peace underneath it. If using Marijuana brought lead to peace, then the whole world would be at peace right now. But the whole world isn’t at peace, it is full of war and conflict, so that’s proof that the Marijuana use doesn’t cause peace and might actually be the reason for some of those conflicts.” ( Sorry, LOL LOL LOL! Ok, ok, moving on!) On the people who got arrested for working in shops that sold those T-shirts and the fact that the majority of them didn’t know what those T-shirts said because they don’t know and can’t read English: “ Well, that’s their problem. They should have someone translate for them what each T-shirt means if they want to stay out of trouble!” On whether this whole thing was a ploy by the government to distract the public during this time of political unrest and instability: “That’s absolutely not true and we refuse to acknowledge such ridiculous theories. Those people violated the law, and since our job is to enforce it, we had to arrest them!” On the logic behind only arresting those with T-shirts that had drugs or drug messages on them and leaving those who wear T-shirts with women in bikinis or with sexual messages roam free: “Who said we will let them roam free? We will arrest those people as well. But that’s not our job, that’s the job of the Vice police. But I assure you that they are working on it as we speak!” Ohh lord, I better get rid of that “ Kiss me..I am Egyptian” T-shirt quickly, huh? All kidding aside, this blows my mind, because of the stupidity of it all and what it means to our society. The idea that someone who was against drug-use will see a pot sticker on a car that will somehow make him violate his personal convictions, principles and morals and make him want to go and do drugs just blows my mind. I mean, how strong can those morals or convictions be if they can be turned over their heads by a sticker or a key chain? Please, take me down that scary road from your kid seeing a Pot sticker on a car to him doing drugs and selling his ass to gay Arabs in the Semriamis Intercontinental Hotel (Gay Arab Hot spot in Cairo) to score the price of a fix and I will get behind this measure ( No pun intended). But you know and I know this is not about drugs or drug-use; this is about controlling freedom of expression. This is about keeping people in check in a time of political unrest, while making those we know to be corrupt the new guardians of morality and decency. They are sending out the message that they have the ability to mess with you anytime they feel like it to the extent that they can arrest you for something that you are wearing in the name of protecting morality and decency. Never mind watching out for what I say in public, now I have to check what message my T-shirt may or may not send as well, cause it might be grounds to my arrest! What’s next? Arresting girls for wearing revealing cloths that violate our society’s perception of how a moral woman should be dressed? Or maybe get back to arresting people who wear Black T-shirts out of suspicion that they are Satanists? You never know! These days anything can happen! The sky is the limit so to speak. By the way, did anyone else notice the subliminal message in that whole “the dangers of blindly imitating the west” shtick? LOL We live in funny funny times!
I’ve had a dream! (Sorry for using the cliché MLK quote, but it’s appropriate) That dream was that Egypt, the country that I love, would soon be able to shed its old skin, and have democratic reforms that would bring change and breathe a new life in a dying country. That dream was that I would able to say what I want here, without being afraid that someone from Amn El Dawla (National security) might knock on my door at 3 am and arresting me for saying things that are considered “unpopular” by the government. I had a dream that Egyptians would join their Iraqi and Palestinian brothers, be given the right to chose and be able to decide their own destiny. And you know, up until yesterday, it seemed like that dream might actually come true. It seemed that we, in Egypt, were about to embark on an era of changes and reforms- sparked by inside movements and sustained by American pressure- that would eventually bring us democratic presidential elections, and maybe, just maybe, end to the state of political stagnation and corrupt despotic rule we have been living under for the past 24 years. Sure, fulfilling that dream wouldn’t be easy, and there would be a rocky road ahead, but at least we were going to start walking on that road. Good or bad , we would be moving forward, and wherever we would end up going, it would probably be better where we were. The only opposition movement wasn’t the Muslim Brotherhood any longer; we had Hezb Elghad, we had the Kifayah movement, we had the Save Egypt Front. We, for the first time ever, had real options, and the government didn’t seem to be the scary Boogeyman that terrified and eviscerated any opposition to its rule for the past 2 decades. My dream was slowly becoming reality. And now my dream is crushed! What happened? Well, let me tell you. Apparently, the Mubarak government and the Muslim Brotherhood have been talking to each other for quite some time. According to “The Egyptian Today” ( Masr el Youm) Newspaper , they were having negotiations with the top level Hanchos in the Egyptian government and they have struck a deal: The Muslim Brotherhood would “calm down” their public anti-government demonstrations that get the attention of the international media, they would publicly denounce “American pressure” and every other form of “foreign intervention” and their agents, they would not meet or have any kind of deal with the American administration, and to not collaborate with the “Kefayah” or the “Save Egypt” movements. In return , the Government would release the imprisoned MB members arrested in those last few demonstrations , they would release some of the Movement’s imprisoned leaders and members and improve the conditions of the rest, they would ease the pressure on the Brotherhood and Improve the government relations with it and most importantly allow them to form in the near future a Political Party so that they can participate in the parliamentarian elections. The MB promised that if their demands are met, they would not only voice their support for another 6 years of Mubarak’s rule, but they would actively campaign for him. Now isn’t that nice of them? Well, I can hear some of you wondering, “Well Sam, why is that bad news exactly? How does such an alliance kill your dream?” Hmm, allow me to explain: Mubarak has been in a tight spot lately, with the Americans on one hand giving him the cold shoulder and announcing that they would support whomever the democratic elections would bring to power, even if they were islamists, and the various opposition movements making all kinds of demonstrations against him. Without the Americans support, Mubarak basically has no legitimacy and couldn’t fake his way into another 6 years of Power. What the man needed was inside support, support from the majority of the Egyptian people, something to counter the massive hissy-fit that the American administration would have if he ran for another 6 year term and won. He would need to show them that he is democratically elected, that he is a credible leader, and that the people do want him to stay in power despite his massive incompetence and autocratic rule over the past 24 years. He needed the popular support of the people, and not having it, he made a deal with those who did. It’s a desperate move of someone who wanted no matter what to stay in power, consequences be damned! I’ve got to give props to Mubarak: he is far shrewder then I’ve given him credit for. He did it again, but this time he won't get away with it unscathed! Mark my words, this is what is going to happen in Egypt, more or less, over the next few months if both parties keep their end of the bargin: The MB would start massive rallies in support of President Mubarak and against any form of “American & Foreign intervention in Egyptian affairs” and branding those who have connections or funding from abroad ( Elghad, Save Egypt, etc..) as “American agents” who are nothing short of “American pawns” used to serve the interests of their “American Zionist imperialistic masters”. This would lead to the marginalization of Ayman Nour, the only remaining opposition or challenge to Mubarak, cause then Nour would be nothing more of an American agent. The rallies would also allow the MB to stretch its political muscles and show its true size, and ready its support base for the next parliamentarian elections. Whether or not they got the approved to form a political party is irrelevant, because the organizational structure is already there and their candidates are already known; getting their party approved is a symbolic gesture at best that shows that the government recognizes them. Running candidates whose campaign slogan will be “Islam is the solution”, they are bound to sweep the majority of the seats and gain control of the Parliament. In exchange they won’t challenge Mubarak in the presidential election and allow him to stay in power for the next 6 years. Mubarak wins, the MB wins, the rest of Egypt loses. The MB, as the new party in power in the parliament, would have control over new party approval and suspension, and amending the laws and the constitution. They would then start demanding the practical implementation of the Sharia in every aspect of Egyptian life, and if Mubarak refuses, they would start public demonstrations that would denounce him as “Islam’s enemy” and an “Infidel” and there might be a couple of assassination attempts on him based on someone’s fatwa. It will be the Sadat story all over again and the victim list this time won’t just be the Christians. It would include the women, the freethinkers, the liberals, the Pro-US people, and anyone who basically won’t agree with their view or what they want to do with the country. We will be living in Iran and Life would suck really really hard! You think I am exaggerating? It has already started. Check this out: The deputy for the General Guide of the banned Ikhwan al-Muslimin (Muslim Bothers) group in Egypt, Muhammad Habib, said that his group is making negotiations with the Egyptian authorities over plan to organize a massive demonstration in Cairo in rejection of foreign pressures that aim at forcing internal reform for the sake of change. The leading Muslim Brothers figure expressed his confidence that the authorities will agree with the organization on the demonstration in the few coming months which Habib expected to be "attended by hundreds of thousands." Habib explained that the government will make use of showing citizen's opposition to foreign and American pressure, in particular for maintaining the political change in Egypt where President Hosni Mubarak assumed power since 1981. He added that the demonstration will send a message to the authorities stating that in order to be able to withstand the American pressures you have to "accelerate reforms." The deputy chairman of the Muslim Brothers described the activities if the Egyptian movement for the change "Kefaya" (Enough), which is dominated by liberals and leftists with few Islamists, as a mere parade rather that an organized group. It has already started! I’ve had a dream, and now that dream is dead!
The new Kingdom of Heaven Trailer looks amazing! And the background music is just awesome. Call me mr. consumer-victim-of-advertising, but i can't wait to see this movie!
Create your very own Bush conspiracy here! After all, why should Michael Moore have all the fun?
Surprise Surprise: The Arab world has been issued a report card by the United Nations, saying that it has failed in human development reforms, trailing behind other regions. The report found that the Arab world had less freedom, less democracy and the slowness of tectonic plates in implementing reforms. "Why, among all the regions of the world, do Arabs enjoy the least freedom?" the authors of a United Nations sponsored report ask. Gee, i wonder about the same thing myself! The countries of the Arab world get failing grades in democracy, failing grades in freedom of the press, failing grades in freedom of speech and failing grades in movement toward political and social reforms. In some Arab countries - the report points to Egypt, Sudan and Syria - the state of emergency has become permanent and ongoing, while "none of the dangers warrant it". This is kind of true. The emergency law in egypt did not stop the Islamic Terrorist attacks; the islamist groups were the ones who decided to stop themon their own because it made them extremly unpopular with the egyptian population, especially the attacks against tourists. It's kind of funny - or telling, take your pick- actually, that the people didn't mind the assassination attempts against the government minsiters and the President, as much as they did the attacks that affected Tourism- Egypt's # 1 source of revenue. Anyway, the point is , the emergency law did not serve its purpose, so keeping it around using "combating terrorism" as an excuse is a bunch of self-serving bullshit. Continued application of so-called Emergency laws, and in many cases martial law, deny the citizens many constitutional rights. Basic civil rights and privileges, often taken for granted in most of the world, such as inviolability of the home, personal liberty, freedom of opinion, expression and the press, confidentiality of correspondence, rights of movement and assembly, are widely ignored across much of the Arab world. Bingo, that's the real reason why we have that crap imposed on us. It keeps those in power, well, in power, without being checked or opposed. While political stagnation generally has been the rule, some changes are creeping in. Lebanon has campaigned for the departure of Syrian forces from its territory and Jordan's King Abdullah II on Tuesday appointed a new prime minister, instructing him to speed up reforms. In Syria all hope for reforms now hinges on the forthcoming Baath Party regional conference, expected to take place in May or June. Rumors have it that some "very big changes" are on the way. "The biggest change Syria has seen in 50 years," report Syrian exiles. SyriaComment.com, a usually well-informed blog site, quotes sources outside the country saying that these changes could include emptying all prisons, allowing a free press, authorizing new political parties, allowing the return of thousands of Syrian exiles and issuing Syrian passports to Kurds. Those are indeed great expectations. And you know something? This would never have happend without the US applying pressure on Syria. You know it, and I know it! The problem is, the arabs will never give the US the credit. You really think Bisho and his goons would be allowing this to happen if there was no pressure from Bush and if the US army wasn't next door? And mind you, even if there wasn't a US army in Iraq and Bush wasn't in office, for how long did you think the free-world would let this go on? Even the report mentions it: The UN report cautions that if the Arabs themselves do not take real steps toward change the global powers will step in and lead the process of reform from outside. "Arab countries cannot ignore the fact that the world, especially the powerful players in the global arena, will continue to safeguard their interests in the region," the report stated. I know the conspiracy theorists among you will point at the word "interests" and scream that it is evidence of "western imperialism", but that's not true. Believe it or not it is the world's interest that we stop having repressive undemocratic regimes. The Free-world would like a stable democratic arab region that can join them in the 21st century; not the despotic repressive breeding-ground for terrorism that it is now. If we- as arabs- don't take the initiative and clean ourselves from our opressors and join the civilized world fast, the rest of the world will eventually come over and forcibly clean us, just like the US did in Iraq by removing Saddam Hussein. They will do it, and it won't be because they like us;it will be because we will be a danger to them: An infested area that threatens their well-being and safety if left unchecked. If you think that spreading democracy is a front the US is using to hide its intrests then you got it all twisted; Spreading democracy is in their interest. It is their interest! It's the only way, short of nuking this region to kingdom come, to ensure that something like 911 doesn't happen again. And if things continue to remain the same, and the majority of people refuse to address those issues or pursue those reforms and continue to defend their despotic rulers- like some syrian bloggers do- then, well, we are all digging our own graves here. And if you don't want to take the word of a "Bushloving american agent traitor" like me for it, then be my guest and take the word of the UN report, which words couldn't be a more fitting conclusion to this post. The continued usurping of power in the hands of Arab leaders, be they royalty, military dictatorship or civilians elected without any real competition "has created a kind of political black hole at the center of Arab political life", the authors say. "By twenty-first century standards Arab countries have not met the Arab people's aspirations for development." This status quo "is no longer sustainable". The authors of the report warn, "If the repressive situation in Arab countries today continues, intensified societal conflict is likely to follow," leading to violence in "the absence of peaceful and effective mechanisms to address injustice". The result could be "chaotic upheavals". Amen!
Just another sign that the end of days are upon us! President Bush solicited foreign policy advice from former President Bill Clinton at CIA briefings this week and even told Mr. Clinton that he liked his approach to reforming Social Security. 'It was really a lot of fun, Mr. Bush told reporters yesterday after spending three days with Mr. Clinton and former President George Bush in Rome. ' These CIA briefings a lot of time prompt policy discussions,' he added. 'It's interesting to get their points of view about their experiences in particular countries.' ***snippet*** The president also praised one of Mr. Clinton's domestic policies -- trying to reform Social Security. Both men have proposed personal savings accounts as part of the solution, an idea that is vociferously opposed by congressional Democrats. 'I was telling President Clinton I remember watching one of his town hall meetings in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on this very subject,' Mr. Bush said just hours after bidding farewell to his predecessor at the Rome airport. 'And I thought it was a very impressive presentation,' he added. 'By the way, a lot of the language happens to be pretty close to some of the town hall meetings we've had.' If you listen very carefully now, you can hear the sounds of Bush and Clinton haters' heads exploding!
In case you needed another reason why it's a good thing that Kerry did not win!
You know, we may have just found my arab female equal: NADZ! She is funny, she is hardcore and she definitely deserves more attention. You need some evidence to persuade you, check out her latest post here on "Hijab female empowerment": Anyhow, I thought I'd continue what I began with my bashing of the college hippies by discussing another group on campus that annoys the crap out of me - the hijab squad. They're a group of creepily pious Muslim women who go around campus talking about how flawless conservative Islam is and how "empowered" they are by their headgear. Yep, empowered. Everyone seems to love that word now, despite the fact that it's pretty meaningless . Porn actresses talk about how "empowered" they are by their "work". The "actresses" in the recent Charlie's Angels movie (*shudders*, the movie that sucked out my soul) talked about how killing people and blowing things up was about empowerment. And now these little postergirls for male oppression are getting in the act. Glad i am not the only one who thinks that this sharia female empowerment stuff is a bunch of bullcrap! There is more! Read the whole thing!
You know, i used to like to read Ted Rall's columns, because-nutty as he is- he offerd his readers an unapologetic, honest, uncensored, no pretense glimpse of how the american far left thinks. I say i used to like it, because i am starting to re-think the whole "honest" aspect of his column, especially after what he wrote in his latest one: If you read newspapers, listen to the radio or watch television, you know that the media has assigned Muqtada al-Sadr a peculiar job title: radical cleric. "Gunmen fired on supporters of the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Friday," reports the Associated Press wire service. National Public Radio routinely refers to "radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr." "The protesters were largely supporters of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr," says CNN. Even Agence France-Press refers to him the same way: "Followers of a radical Shiite cleric marched in Baghdad." I wonder: Does he answer his phone with a chipper "Muqtada al-Sadr, radical cleric!"? Does it say "radical cleric" on his business card? It's a safe bet that neither al-Sadr nor his Iraqi supporters considers him particularly "radical." And, if you stop to think about it, there's nothing inherently extreme about wanting foreign troops to leave your country. Radical is a highly subjective word that gets thrown around without much reflection.But that's the problem: the media has become so accustomed to absorbing and regurgitating official government propaganda that they never stop to think. Hmm, so Al-Sadr isn't radical, and it's all just the government's propaganda at work? I beg to differ, and so does Zeyad at HealingIraq: Students of the Basrah and Shatt Al-Arab universities in Basrah city have been on strike for the last three days as a reaction to the attack last week by Sadrists and Mahdi Army militiamen on tens of students organising a field trip or a picnic at Al-Andalus park, downtown Basrah. Hooded men assaulted the students with rubber cables and truncheons which resulted in the death of a Christian girl, Zahra Ashour, and another student who came to her rescue after militiamen had tore off her clothes and were beating her to death. He was shot in the head. Students say that their belongings, such as mobile phones, cameras, stereo players and loudspeakers, were stolen or smashed to pieces by the militiamen. Girl students not wearing headscarves, most of them Christian, were severely beaten and at least 20 students were kidnapped and taken to Sadr's office in Al-Tuwaisa for 'interrogation' and were only released late at night. ---snippet--- A Sheikh As'ad Al-Basri, one of Sadr's aides in Basrah, stated that the 'believers' of the Mahdi Army did what they did in an act of 'divine intervention' in order to punish the students for their 'immoral and outrageous behaviour' during the 'holy month of Muharram, while the blood of Imam Hussein is yet to dry.' He added that he had sent the 'group of believers' to observe and photograph the students, and on witnessing them playing loud music, 'the kind they play in bars and discos', and openly talking to female students, the 'believers had to straighten things out'. No reaction yet from the Governorate council, the police, or the British forces in Basrah. Thousands of students have been demonstrating in front of the Basrah Governorate building in Asharr for the last three days, shouting 'No to political Islam', 'No to the new tyranny' and 'No to Sadr'. The police (which is loyal to Da'wa in Basrah) reportedly attacked the students in order to disperse the demonstrations. All this while some people are campaigning for Sistani to receive the Nobel peace prize. One can't help but wonder if these kinds of events are what the Islamists have in store for us when they insist on 'respecting the Islamic identity of Iraq'. The Sadr people are , by the way, the group of Shia who organized the April 9th anti-american protest and who were joined in it by the Baathist Sunnis. Or as the never-biased Raed Jarrar reported it: "Sunni, Shia marchers demand end to occupation!" You know, i often wonder about Raed: Does he know how full of shit he is or does he actually believe his own spin? Cause it seems that a lot of people believe him, so i am just curious if he is a malicious liar or just a self-delusional nitwit! Does anybody know?