Nov 1, 2011
Jun 30, 2011
Jun 15, 2011
prospective Egyptian presidential runner, is a man to watch out and fear. Why else would Egyptian state TV ban his appearance on one of its programs?
The Mubarak regime had a long list of personalities who were banned from appearing on state TV. The list included outspoken critics of the regime as well as Islamist clerics of various persuasions. It was clear that El Baradei was a persona non grata, for he never made an appearance on state TV. After the revolution, the ban seems to have been lifted. Islamists became regular guests on TV shows and the Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide was given ample and celebratory airspace.
When it was announced that El Baradei was scheduled to appear with popular preacher Amr Khaled, who had been banned himself from appearing on state TV, we thought it was meant as a gesture of inclusion after so much exclusion, an acknowledgement of his right as an Egyptian citizen to appear on national TV which is paid for by taxpayers’ money.
But the news arrived that El Baradei was not allowed to appear. The question is: what exactly is threatening in El Baradei? Could it be that he is advocating the dangerous message that all Egyptian citizens are equal? It’s a subversive view to be sure, one that might destroy the very foundation of society.
There are reports circulating now that El Baradei might still appear on the Amr Khaled show after all. To the decision makers who, in the span of a few hours, allow, then ban and later re-allow, all I can say is we “must just pray that when your head's finished turning, your face is to the front again.”
Jun 14, 2011
“To be honest, if this man were a spy for real, he must be prosecuted on grounds of stupidity”.
“As a matter of fact, if a spy managed to do all that, he ought to be declared innocent and we must arrest the whole Egyptian people”.
“Is this man stupid or what? He comes to Egypt to spy at the time of security vacuum? Isn’t Israel worried about its spies?”
“The spy was arrested because he worked illegally and didn’t obtain a work permit”.
Spontaneous, off-the-cuff humour never ceases to amaze me.
Jun 12, 2011
Jun 11, 2011
Did God punish Egypt for the sake of the Muslim Brothers?
This is what the Supreme Guide of the MB recently asserted. When Gamal Abdel Nasser persecuted the Muslim Brothers in 1954 and 1965 Egypt was miltarily defeated in 1956 and 1967 respectively. So according to our Muslim Brother, Badie, the fight was between Nasser and the MB, with God taking the side of the latter. The question to ask is: and where, pray, do the Egyptian people fall in this equation?Unfortunately for the MB the Egyptian people do not exist. This is no great wonder. A former Supreme Guide openly expressed his disdain for Egypt when he said “Egypt can go to hell”.
May 31, 2011
Apr 13, 2011
The topography of autocracy in the world today shows a marked concentration of brutal, despotic regimes in the Arab world. No Arab regime, whether monarchic or republican, can claim to be exempted from the pattern. While it wouldn’t be fair to blame the rise or longevity of those despotic regimes on the West, it would be blatantly unfair to deny the role played by various Western governments in aiding Arab tyrants, boosting their images and facilitating their robbery and abuse of their people.
A combination of internal factors such as poverty, poor educational infra-structure and prevalent paternalistic traditions have no doubt contributed to the emergence of tyranny as a recognizable structure in Arab societies, allowing those home-grown dictators to hold on to power for decades on end virtually unchallenged.
But Arab despots in fact survived and thrived under the guidance of western governments/leaders and with their blessings. Western leaders, on their part, seemed only too willing to oblige their autocratic counterparts and had surprisingly few qualms in displaying their partiality in public, often referring to them as staunch allies or forces of stability and of good. Most shocking of all, however, was the footage showing Berlusconi kissing the hand of Gaddafi. To dismiss this gesture as the momentary aberration of a man with questionable attitudes, to say the least, would be to misunderstand the symbiotic relationship between these despots and their Western allies, the bond between organisms that survive by feeding on each other.
Western leaders in fact have been kissing the hands of our brutal, blood-thirsty dictators, both literally and figuratively, for many decades now. As prime minister, Tony Blair accepted a Christmas holiday paid for by Mubarak in 2001, and more recently French Prime Minister Fillon also had a taste of lavish Egyptian hospitality. Did it occur to either of them that these holidays were actually sponsored by the citizens of a country where the minimum monthly wage was less than USD 50? This is hardly likely.
But paid holidays are perhaps only the icing on the cake of booties and we may yet to learn the full extent of this exchange of gifts, for how many spoonfuls of sugar were offered to make those unpalatable regimes go down? Equally disturbing is the complicity of various Western institutions with autocratic regimes, particularly academic establishments of the caliber of the London School of Economics which had no scruples in accepting a gift of 15 million pounds by the Libyan regime. Did the venerable establishment know that Gaddafi in one of his amazing speeches ranted against schools and universities as “a corrupt western invention” that he wanted to replace with some form of traditional home schooling? If such were his views of western academia, why on earth was he keen on securing a Ph.D. for his son from LSE? And why did LSE oblige?
Western governments have helped, and still continue to help, Arab despots to hold on to their power. Led by the US, they supplied Mubarak, as well as other Arab tyrants, with their arsenal of weapons, which included riot gear, tear gas and electric batons, although they must have been aware that these implements would be used against unarmed civilians. Particularly obnoxious is the supply of fancy, state-of-the-art torture gadgets that had been ingeniously invented to be used by security services against dissidents. Were all these part of the aid package that the US sent to Egypt? Had they been funded by American tax-payers? Are the American people informed about these deals? Why do Western governments which claim the high moral ground turn a blind eye to the brutal practices of their accomplices and strongmen? These are pressing questions that still need convincing answers.
In allowing their banks to become secret treasure boxes for Arab dictators, Western governments are also guilty of partnering with them in the theft of their people. By withholding information on the fortunes amassed by the Mubaraks and Gaddafis of the Arab world, they have made it possible for those rulers to operate with impunity, away from the gaze of their impoverished population.
The inevitable question is why western banks should accept to deposit huge funds which they know could not have come in a legitimate manner. According to Egyptian law, for example, a president should not engage in any form of business and should not make any financial gains out of his position. This in fact renders illegal all the wealth that he and his family have accumulated over his thirty years in power. This wealth is in fact the property of the Egyptian people. It should therefore be returned without fuss or mess, and without unnecessary legal wrangles that are only intended to confuse and divert attention.
I believe it is the moral responsibility of the countries where the personal fortunes of international heads of state have been deposited to disclose all their details. It is also their ethical duty to return all the money either stashed away in their banks or floating in their financial institutions. This should apply to unseated tyrants as well as to those whose seats are shaking at the moment. I realize of course that in the ruthless world of business where money and power are Siamese twins, such views will easily be dismissed as starry eyed, naïve and impossible to implement. But I am certain that the majority of the population of western nations would not approve of such shady collaborations if they were given the proper information.
Western governments must stop kissing the hands of dictators. If they did, there would not be any need to bomb those very dictators later. I hope that Western leaders realize that the transition from hand kissing to bombing is as absurd as it is morally outrageous. I sincerely hope that the free people of the world would stand and speak against the complicity between those magnificent despots and their western accomplices.