Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Poverty in the Arab World

The Arab media have been flooded with reports on poverty rates throughout the Arab world, and despite various discrepancies, the consensus is that poverty and unemployment in these nations are threatening their future growth.

A report published by the Arab League and the United Nations Development Program (UNPD) Sunday said that 140 million people were living under the poverty line throughout the Arab world.
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, however, recently told a League convention that 65 million people were living under the poverty line throughout the Arab world, and while the discrepancy is large, it may stem from various definitions of the "poverty line." MORE HERE

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Situation of the Christians in the Arab World

The ongoing Christian flight from the Middle East was high on the agenda of the Vatican's secretary for the relations with states, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, when I met with him recently in Rome.
The lengthy exodus of ancient Christian congregations from the greater Middle East's last redoubts of religious pluralism is accelerating. Terrorism, conflict, and the rise of intolerant Islamism are to blame, Vatican officials explain. There is a real fear that the light of Christian communities that was enkindled personally by the apostles of Jesus Christ could be extinguished in this vast region that includes the Holy Land.
This trend could be reversed or at least halted, but probably not without Western help. Thus far, the rapid erosion of Middle Eastern Christianity has drawn little notice from the outside world. MORE HERE

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas in Bethlehem

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (Reuters) - Thousands of pilgrims and dignitaries crowded into Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity for a Christmas Mass, where Latin Patriarch Fuad al-Tuwal urged visitors to return home bearing a message of peace for the Holy Land.

Entertaining crowds outside, bagpipers played carols and whirling dervishes danced, unfurling giant white skirts embroidered with the word peace in various languages.

Some 15,000 visitors packed into the stone flagged square opposite the small Door of Humility where pilgrims stoop to enter the multi-denominational church, built above the spot where Christians believe Jesus was born. MORE HERE

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Syrian Orthodox Church in Mosul attacked

Last week we requested prayer after bomb attacks outside two churches in Mosul on 15th December. We regret to report that there was a further attack yesterday (Wednesday 23rd December) at another church in Mosul.

A Syrian Orthodox Church appears to have been deliberately targeted. Two Muslims were killed outside this church building. One report indicates a neighbouring Chaldean Church may also have been damaged in the bombing.

Recall that Security forces had voiced concern in recent days that Christmas gatherings and Shiite Ashura holiday observances would potentially draw attacks. In addition to the attack against the church in Mosul, reports indicate six Shiite pilgrims preparing for Ashura were killed by bombs exploding at different times on Wednesday in three Baghdad neighbourhoods. 43 People are reported to have been wounded in these attacks.

Some churches had curtailed their programme of events. After yesterday's attack, all services at Catholic churches have been cancelled in Mosul and Kirkuk.

These attacks are occurring within a context of an increased number of bomb attacks, which many regard as part of a campaign to destabilise the country in the run up to parliamentary elections scheduled for March next year.
(c) Middle East Concern

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What Morocco thinks of Algeria. And of Egypt

Finally! The Algerian people have had a chance to witness the true feelings of millions of Moroccans harbor toward their neighbors to the east.  Moroccans’ celebrations of the historic win of the Algerian soccer team against Egypt were heartwarming. The spontaneous explosions of joy by thousands of Moroccans celebrating a well deserving Algerian team were unprecedented considering the tense relations between Rabat and Algiers over the Western Sahara conflict. Moroccans, holding Algerian flags, streamed into the streets of several Moroccan cities including Casablanca, Rabat, and the border town of Oujda rejoicing along with the Algerian public across the “closed” borders.
In the last thirty years, the Algerian people were subjected to several rigorous anti-Morocco campaigns conducted by the Algerian Military establishment. To reinforce their grip on power, some in the Algerian  demonized Morocco, making it a favorite punching.  Events such as the Sands war, the Moroccan Green March, the mass expulsion of thousands of Moroccans by the Algerian government, and Morocco’s impulsive and one sided closure of Morocco-Algeria borders in 1994 led to a progressive worsening the relations between the two peoples and re-enforced the “evil” image of“suspicious” Morocco in the eyes of millions of Algerians. MORE HERE

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pew Forum: US 'allies' Egypt and Saudi Arabia very poor on religious freedom

U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Egypt are among 10 mostly Muslim nations whose governments impose the most curbs on religion, according to a report on Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
Afghanistan's government also ranked poorly, highlighting a potentially sensitive diplomatic flashpoint as President Barack Obama sends more U.S. troops to the Central Asian country to quell a growing insurgency.
The Pew report says nearly 70 percent of the world's 6.8 billion people who live in countries that have severe restrictions on religion.
The report ranked countries by two measures: government restrictions on religion and restrictions from violence or intimidation by private individuals or groups. Saudi Arabia was the only country to rank "very high" in both measures. MORE

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Iraqi Christians have requested our prayers

In Mosul there were three bomb attacks outside churches. At approximately 10:30 a.m. on 15 December small bomb damaged the wall of a Syriac Catholic Church. Four people were killed, possibly bystanders, when a second bomb exploded 10 minutes later and grenades were thrown at a nearby Christian school. That afternoon a larger bomb at a Syriac Orthodox Church caused significant damage, injuring a number of people.

These attacks followed the bombing on 26th November of two other church properties in Mosul. There were no casualties, though a Chaldean Catholic Church was virtually destroyed. Church leaders in Mosul described these attacks as the latest in a campaign to force Christians to leave.

Church leaders in Baghdad have been warned by the authorities that further bomb attacks might target church buildings, especially during the Christmas period.

These attacks have occurred within a context of an increased number of bomb attacks, which many regard as part of a campaign to destabilise the country in the run up to parliamentary elections scheduled for early next year. Recent large-scale bomb attacks in Baghdad have targeted government buildings. However, some church properties located nearby have been damaged, including the Anglican Church and the offices of the Chaldean Patriarch. In the latter case nobody was injured, despite the building being badly damaged, because all staff were attending mass at the time.

Iraqi Christians request our prayers that:
a.  All Christians in Iraq will know the Father's peace and protection as they attend worship services over the Christmas period
b.  Church leaders will know the Spirit's wisdom and guidance in all aspects of planning services and providing pastoral support to their congregations
c.  The bereaved will know the peace and comfort of Jesus
d.  The wounded and traumatised will know the healing touch of Jesus, both physically and psychologically
e.  The perpetrators will be convicted by the Spirit and seek the Father's forgiveness through the Son's death for them
f.  The authorities will provide adequate protection, and actively promote religious and other forms of tolerance.
Source: www.meconcern.org

Is it the Virgin? is it a pigeon?

Hundreds, if not thousands, have been lining up for hours every night at the Virgin Mary Orthodox Church in a Cairo neighborhood just off the Nile. Many of them claim that a mysterious light hovering above the church's domes is an apparition of the Virgin Mary who will bring Christian Copts prosperity and relief in a time of national and religious struggle.
The crowds began appearing Thursday evening when a number of residents spotted a flickering light. No one was sure where the illumination was coming from, and word quickly spread that the light took the shape of the Virgin Mary wearing a blue gown and standing in the sky between the church's two high crosses. MORE

Monday, December 14, 2009

Who is this Majed el Shafie from Egypt?

We are curious whether of our brothers in Egypt, anyone knows more of this gentleman who calls himself 'Rev Majed al-Shafie'?  This is what we see on his website:
Born in Cairo , Egypt into a prominent Moslem family of Lawyers and Following in the footsteps of his father and uncles, he too chose to become a lawyer.
Through the witness of his best friend, Tamir, he experienced the love of Christ and made the decision to give his life and service to the LORD.
He began the mission to bring the Christian community all the same legal rights as the Moslem community in Egypt . He began a ministry which in just 2 years grew to 24,000 Christians. The Egyptian Government did not tolerate this and Majed wound up in the torture section of the Abu Zaabel prison in Cairo. MORE HERE

Ongoing war between Saudi Arabia and Yemen

At least 70 people were killed in a Saudi air raid on a Yemeni village near the border with Saudi Arabia on Sunday, Yemen's Huthi rebels alleged, declaring the attack a "massacre."
A spokesman for Yemen's army, Askar Zuail, confirmed air raids in the region but said they were carried out by Yemeni planes and targeted rebel positions and not civilians.
An Internet rebel statement said the attack was carried out Sunday morning against the village of Bani Maan in Razeh region of northern Sadaa province, the mountainous stronghold of the rebels. MORE

the Arabic Greek Oriental Orthodox Church in Prayer

Watch HERE a video of Christians in the Holy Land in the Greek Oriental Orthhodox Church in Akko. Every year they celebrate the festival of Saint George;  they pray that they will share in his love for the Christian community in the Holy Land. 
Lets all pray together for peace and harmony between all human being and let God to be our guidance because with his love and mercy we can never make mistakes.  God is love and only true love can come from him and last forever.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hypocrisy: Saudi Arabia, the country that won't allow churches or synagogues, calls for boycott of Switzerland over minaret ban

From www.jihadwatch.org:

That is, it is hypocrisy from a Western point of view. As far as the Saudis are concerned, Islam is the truth, its truth is self-evident, and therefore the Swiss are obligated to accommodate it in a way that the Saudis are not obligated to accommodate non-Muslim religious observance.
"Saudi Arabia calls to boycott Swiss over minaret ban," by Roee Nahmias for Ynet News, December 8 (thanks to Fjordman):
A number of religious figures in Saudi Arabia called to boycott Switzerland and withdraw all Muslim deposits from bank accounts in the country in protest against the Swiss referendum that banned building new minarets. The UAE-based newspaper al-Bayan reported that religious moderator Khaled al-Shamrani called for afar-reaching boycott on all good and products originating in Switzerland. He also called upon Muslims to avoid traveling to the country. Religious figure Ahmed al-Hassan called wealthy Muslims to withdraw their deposits from Swiss banks.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Egypt Christian Group Seeks to Change Muslim Status

Ayman Raafa, an Egyptian born a Christian, was nine months old when the father he never knew converted to Islam.
Now 23, Raafa is fighting to get the Christian faith he professes recognized by the state and registered on his identity documents vital to daily life.
Raafa was raised a Christian but the state says children automatically become Muslim on a father's conversion, a policy that places dozens of people in limbo in a society that does not -- in practice -- recognize conversion away from Islam.
Raafa is one of a group of 40 facing the same identity conundrum and now filing a lawsuit to have their Christian faith recognized, touching a raw spot in relations between Muslims and 10 percent of Egypt's 77 million people who are Christian. MORE HERE

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Iraq the worst abuser of human rights in the Arab World

Human rights conditions in 12 Arab nations continued to deteriorate last year, according to a report issued Dec. 9 by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS). The publication, entitled "Bastion of Impunity, Mirage of Reform," is the group's second annual report. It condemns violations of human rights, including those against political and reform activists. According to the report, Iraq continues to be the region's worst offender despite "relative improvements," while Egypt, Morocco, and Bahrain are identified as having regressed significantly since last year.
The report criticizes the Organization of the Islamic Conference for its efforts to subvert human rights protections and international monitors on governmental accountability. Additionally, the League of Arab States is condemned for citing "national sovereignty" as grounds for refusing to take action against rights abuses in the region, including those occurring in Sudan.
CIHRS released its inaugural report, "From Exporting Terrorism to Exporting Repression," last year to coincide with the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That edition also found Iraq to be the leading offender in human rights violations, a conclusion similar to those of other prominent human rights and refugee organizations. Last year, the UN envoy to Iraq praised the creation of an Independent High Commission for Human Rights, calling it a "milestone" for human rights in the region. (Jurist, Dec. 9)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Human Rights worse in Arab World in 2009

Human rights deteriorated across the Arab world in 2009 with torture widely practised in several countries, namely Egypt, an Arab watchdog said in a report released on Tuesday.
The report by the independent Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies surveyed 12 countries and said that most of them repressed human rights activists, press freedoms and discriminated against religious minorities.
The state of human rights in the 12 countries -- Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen -- "has worsened compared to 2008," the report said.
"Arab governments remained wedded to a broad array of repressive laws that undermine basic liberties," compared to the previous year, said the report, "Bastion of Impunity, Mirage of Reform."
"Peaceful rotation of power through representative politics, and clean and competitive elections remained a dream in most countries covered by this report," it said.
Egypt and Syria were singled out as leading offenders, with Cairo said to lead the region in practicing torture and Damascus for repressing rights activists. MORE HERE

AFP reports: 5 Swiss missionaries evicted from Morocco

Morocco has expelled five foreign Christian missionaries for holding "undeclared meetings" in the mainly Muslim north African kingdom, police said Tuesday.
Police at Oujda in northeast Morocco also accused the five of "evangelist proselytism," or missionary preaching, according to a source contacted by AFP. The five were expelled on Saturday.
Two of the foreigners came from South Africa, two from Switzerland and one from Guatemala. They were part of a group that also included 12 Moroccans, who were freed the same day.
The whole group was arrested on Friday during a raid on a house in Saidia, a seaside resort 70 kilometres (45 miles) north of Oudja.
Three of the foreigners -- the two Swiss and the Guatemalan -- were "sent out through the frontier post with Melilla," one of the Spanish enclaves on Morocco's coast.
The two South Africans, who already had airline tickets, were taken to Casablanca airport, the police source told AFP.
Last March, four Spaniards and a German woman were similarly expelled after they held a missionary meeting with Moroccan nationals, according to a statement from the ministry of the interior.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Egyptian state media: first love Mohamed ElBaradei, now hate him

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Yemen on the brink of collapse

The president's new mosque shimmers over this ancient city like an illusion of stability against images of MIG fighter jets screeching overhead toward rebellion in the north or the latest news of pirates seizing ships in the treacherous Gulf of Aden.

In Sana's snug alleys, men speak of war, secession and Al Qaeda, which is busy scouring schoolyards and mosques for new recruits while much of the population spends hours each day getting a mellow buzz from chewing khat leaves.

If Yemen were a theater, which sometimes it appears to be, it would be an unnerving place of trapdoors and shifting facades. This is the poorest nation in the Arab world and one of the most strategically located, with 3 million barrels of oil sailing daily past its shores, tucked between Saudi Arabia and Somalia. MORE HERE

Saturday, December 5, 2009

How to pray for Saudi Arabia

 9 Prayer Challenges for Saudi Arabia

1 Saudi Arabia once had a large Christian population. They were expelled when Islam gained control 1,300 years ago. It is now one of the least evangelized nations on earth. No Christian workers are permitted and all Christian "propaganda" banned. No Christian is permitted to set foot in Islam's holiest city, Mecca. Pray that one day soon this land may have many Christians praising the Lamb that was slain.
2 The world's 1.2 billion Muslims are required to pray towards Mecca five times daily. Every year over two million make the Hajj or pilgrimage to the city. This is the culmination of many people's religious lives. Pray that many may have their eyes opened to see the emptiness and bondage under which they live, and embrace the freedom that is in Christ. Praise God that a small but growing number are doing just that – even in Saudi Arabia!  MORE HERE

Saudi's panicking because of Shiite Yemeni rebels cross border

Jordan has sent several hundred troops from its special operations forces to help the Saudi military with its many Shi'ite units contain the Yemeni Shi'ite rebellion, which has spread deep into the Arab kingdom. MORE HERE

Friday, December 4, 2009

Egyptians Protest ‘Islamic Hate Channels’

Egyptian human rights advocates demand the government remove provocative television channels from the air. 
Egyptian human rights activists submitted a report to the Egyptian government this week demanding it ban aggressive religious Islamic channels from broadcasting.
The activists, who include lawyer and human-rights activist Nagib Gabriel, described these channels as extremist and said they were disseminating “subversive ideas that call for discrimination against women and Copts and lean towards radical behavior that is far from the spirit of Islam,” according to a report in the Kuwaiti Al-Jarida.
Gabriel, who heads the Egyptian Union for Human Rights, expressed concern about these channels and stressed the need to “close any channel that fuels internal strife and threatens the social peace, whether among Christians or Muslims.”
The activists demanded that the Egyptian satellite operator Nilesat stop carrying these “extremism channels,” naming stations such as A-Nas, A-Rahma and Al-Hafiz. MORE HERE

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Corruption in Jeddah led to deaths by drowning

Last week the Saudi city of Jeddah was afflicted by heavy rains that lasted only a few hours but caused massive flooding and the deaths of more than 500 people. To lessen the embarrassment, official reports shrank the number of flood-related deaths to just over 100.
Many Saudis are asking how such a catastrophe could occur in one of the world's richest countries and in its second-largest and most cosmopolitan city.
This was the most severe nature-related calamity that the world's largest oil exporter has seen in the past 50 years but the real reason for the death and destruction that occurred last Wednesday is endemic corruption in the Saudi government.
Jeddah is a great example of corruption. This city of more than 4 million people still lacks a sewage system and treatment facility. The rain that fell last week had nowhere to go but to flood the streets and neighbourhoods, creating havoc and death in its path. MORE HERE

Why Dubai matters, according to Businessweek

After Dubai announced in late November that the state-controlled investment firm Dubai World was seeking to reschedule payments on some $26 billion of debt, global markets went into a tailspin. While foreign bourses quickly rebounded, local shares have taken a pounding, and the credibility of Dubai's leadership has suffered serious damage. Yet lost in all the drama is the fact that Dubai is an important economic experiment in a strategically vital region. The humiliating debt implosion aside, the emirate remains the most dynamic business hub in the Gulf and has become a model for its neighbors.
In a region of conservative, autocratic countries long chained to the boom-and-bust cycles of the oil industry, Dubai stands out for creating an open economy that has diversified well beyond energy. With nowhere near the oil and gas reserves of other Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, it had to. "Dubai shows that if you are part of the global economy, you do well; you don't have to have oil," says David Aaron, director of the RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy in Washington.MORE HERE

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Egyptian government is shameless and insults the Coptic minority

It is so habitual in Egypt.  Muslims attack Christians, the police acts too late, and then the authorities put pressure on Christians to not file charges in order for the perpetrators to not be punished.  This is shameless behavior by the authorities. Minorities deserve protection, especially when they are the victims of abuse by the government.

But the Copt of Farshoot are not prepared to give up on their rights.   They have said they will not be coerced into overlooking the mass riot that left reportedly 65 Christian shops damaged, as reported by Assyrian International News Agency on Sunday. Instead, they are uniting to make authorities recognize what happened and punish perpetrators.

Authorities, however, reportedly are putting pressure on the Coptic Church in Nag Hammadi, which is under the same governorate as Farshoot, to tell the victims to accept extrajudicial reconciliation and reopen their businesses without compensation. Police in Farshoot are also reportedly refusing to issue police reports to victims, forcing them to travel 37 miles away to make a report with the Attorney General in Qena, the capital of the governorate. Authorities have also not carried out an estimated loss investigation despite requests the church has made for a week. MORE HERE

Monday, November 30, 2009

Christian Ray Hanania wants to be president of Palestine

Ever since I was a child, I remember the heart and spirit of the Palestinian Revolution was to create a "secular independent Palestinian State where Muslims, Christians and Jews" could live together as equals and in peace.
It was a mantra of my mentor, the late Professor Ibrahim Abu-Lughod who was an activist partner with the late Edward Said. Christian and Muslim Arabs fought for Palestine as indistinguishable brothers and sisters in conflict, they taught me. But now that they are gone, their lessons are being lost.
Both the conflict and attitudes have changed. Raising the issue of Christian rights in the Arab World provokes a reprimand from Palestinians and Arabs, not because the simmering Christian-Muslim Arab conflict does not exist, but rather because the critics hope that if we pretend it doesn't exist and not discuss it, it will go away.
That's been the Arab attitude towards Israel, too. If we just pretend they don't exist, one day they will mysteriously vanish.
Instead, when the issue of Christian relations in the Arab World is raised and overcomes the resistance, it is placed immediately into the political context of the abuses of the Israeli occupation causing the disappearance of the Christian presence in Palestine.
But it is not just the fault of the Israelis, whom the Arabs blame for everything; although in truth, the Israelis are no different and they blame the Arabs for everything, too. The issues of blame are symptoms of the problem, not the cause of the problem. So is the simmering relations between Muslims and Christian Arabs.
That's one reason why I announced I have formed an exploratory committee for my candidacy for President of Palestine on the Yalla Peace political party. My platform embraces compromise based on two-states as the foundation for Israeli-Palestinian peace. More importantly, my platform seeks to define and endorse an achievable vision of a Palestinian State first before seeking to resolve the toughest individual details. MORE HERE

Looting of Christian shops in Upper Egypt

Muslims attacking Christians shops in Upper Egypt.  While they shout La illag ila allah (There is no God but Allah) they destroy and plunder shops of Christians.  See HERE

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Does Egypt have ulterior motives in its extreme and irrational measures regarding H1N1 Swineflue?

The H1N1 virus was causing global panic, nobody knew how severe the epidemic would be and governments were scrambling to respond. That was the situation this past May as this reporter, along with fellow travelers from a British Airways flight, was trying to navigate Cairo’s airport.
Health officials in Cairo had set up makeshift stands in front of the immigration booths, ordering each traveler to take a temperature test via ear thermometer.
The test was, one might say, less than sanitary. To the alarm of many aboard my flight, the officials took each person’s temperature, quickly wiping the thermometer’s earpiece with a tissue before administering the test to the next person. MORE HERE

Egypt's contempt for Africa shown in football

One of the most stark features of the Algeria vs Egypt imbroglio is the undercurrent of contempt that most Egyptians seem to harbour for the rest of Africa. Its a sort of "us" and "them" mentality.
When Alaa Mubarak, who rarely gives public interviews, called all Algerians "mercenaries", he seemed to be articulating the opinions of millions of Egyptians towards their African brethren. 
There is nothing called Arab nationalism or brotherhood, this is just talk, that doesn't mean anything in reality.... When Algerians learn how to speak Arabic they can then come and say that they are Arabs.
This is what sticks in the craw of most Egyptians. That a supposedly "inferior nation", an "usurper" of pan Arabian nationhood as espoused by Gamel Abdel Nasser has the temerity to beat them in a soccer match. These feelings of injustice are being cleverly exploited by Hosni Mubarak who has been the de facto ruler for many decades in a country with weak democratic credentials to drum up support for his regime once again.

The premium on Arabian purity extends to the Sudanese. A big part of the anticipated Sudanese support for Egypt in the Khartoum clash was based on the fact that there are thousands of refugees in Egypt fleeing the civil wars in that country. What is less known is that these refugees are subjected to intense racial discrimination in that country because of their colour. They cannot seek jobs in a country that is reeling from record unemployment. The refugees in turn look to Egypt as a transit point to their ultimate destination, in a strange twist, Israel.
The Egyptian media dismiss them as "Africans", making a derogatory distinction between them and the rest of Africa. As this article points out:
Ask most Sudanese, Somalis, Ethiopians or any other person of dark skin and they will relate stories of racism: not getting to rent a flat because the landlord thought they were "dirty" and would "destroy the place.
The 81 year old president has finally found a heir apparent in son, Gamal Mubarak. It is a strange conundrum because the pan- Arabist position furthered by Nasser was catered towards the Western world while the Islamist position was much better articulated and accepted by the Muslim Brotherhood. The disputed soccer match has come at a convenient time to create an artificial hypernationalism to set the stage for Gamal Mubarak's entry into politics. It was much easier years ago before oil and Israel sidelined Egypt's pre-eminent position in the Arab world. (c) Soccerblog.com

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Witchcraft in Saudi Arabia - punishable by death

The New York-based group Human Rights Watch has called on Saudi Arabia to overturn a death sentence given to a man convicted of practising witchcraft.
The organisation said Ali Sibat appeared to have been condemned because of psychic predictions he had made on Lebanese TV from his home in Beirut.
He was arrested during his pilgrimage to the Saudi city of Medina last year.
There is no legal definition of witchcraft in Saudi Arabia - a deeply conservative Muslim nation.
The country's religious authorities condemn any practices deemed un-Islamic, including horoscopes and fortune telling.
But BBC Arab affairs editor Sebastian Usher says there is still a thirst for such services in a country where widespread superstition survives under the surface of religious orthodoxy. MORE HERE

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Monarchy, Mosque and Market: Rami Khouri analyses Arab society

The “market” is the most recent power center that has emerged in the Arab world, and is by far the fastest growing one. The most common visual signs of shared urban values in the Arab world these days are billboards that advertise massive shopping malls, American soft drinks and fried chicken, European and Japanese cell phones, German cars, or fancy gated communities and other ex­pensive real-estate developments that are affordable mainly to the wealthy (who dominate the “monarchy” and “market” groups). 
Private-sector “market” forces continue to slowly infringe upon or even completely take over functions once monopolized by the state and the “monarchy,” such as telephones, education, drinking water and other basic human needs. Multinational money and trans-regional Arab capital are major elements of the “market,” to the point where private investments across the region are probably the single strongest form of pan-Arab integration and solidarity. FOR THE WHOLE STORY >> SEE HERE

Sudanese Jeans Woman sneaks in niqab out of Sudan

Sudanese journalist Lubna Ahmed Hussein said Tuesday she had donned a full Islamic veil to sneak out of Sudan and travel to France, two months after she was freed from jail for wearing trousers.
On a visit to Paris to promote her new book, Hussein accused Khartoum of trying to block her departure and said she was determined to exercise her right to travel freely as she met Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.
"They wanted to prevent me from leaving, I resorted to the niqab and managed to leave," said Hussein, who was jailed for a day in September for violating Sudan's clothing decency laws by wearing trousers.
"I requested documents to be able to leave, to be able to travel, and this is the only means I found to be able to leave Sudan," she told journalists. "I did not flee Sudan. I am a Sudanese citizen." MORE HERE

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Muslim Violence Ongoing in Egypt -- Christians Plead For Help

Farshoot, Egypt (AINA) -- Since early morning on Saturday, November 21, the Upper Egyptian town of Farshoot, as well as the neighboring villages of Kom Ahmar, Shakiki and Ezbet Waziri, has been the scene of ongoing Muslim mob violence against Coptic Christian inhabitants. The mob looted, vandalized and burnt Coptic property, while Copts hid indoors fearing to venture out. Reuters Cairo reported that a witness said "chaos is overwhelming (in the city)."

The Violence is still going on. There are reports that seven Coptic women have been abducted.

Witnesses said that nearly 3000 angry Muslims have congregated since the early morning in front of the Police Headquarters in Farshoot, in an effort to kidnap Girgis Baroumi while being transported to court to renew his detainment, in order to kill him. Bishop Kirollos said it was agreed with the family of the Muslim girl Yousra to await the Court decision "but they did not wait for that."

Coptic priest Rev. Benjamin Noshi was driving his car when the mob stopped and assaulted him, fracturing his skull. He is currently in hospital.

By the evening most Coptic businesses were looted and burnt. "They are destroying the Coptic economy in these areas," says Wagih Yacoub of Middle Eadt Christian Association.

A witness said that some Coptic families were thrown out of their homes, which were occupied by Muslims.

Although security forces were deployed, they are not taking any action to stop the violence, they are stationed to protect the Farshoot police headquarters after the angry mob pelted it with stones before going in and attacking the officers. Chief Investigating Officer Essam Hany was injured along with others.

Witnesses said that the Police watched the mob but made no arrests and were just dispersing the mob from one street, only for them to appear in the next.

The violence was prompted by reports of sexual abuse of a girl by 21 year-old Copt Guirgis Baroumi, from Kom Ahmar, on Wednesday November 18, 2009. The 12-year-old Muslim girl has been identified as "Yousra." Girgis is detained by the police pending investigations and awaiting results of forensics. Many Copts believe that the rape incident is by Muslims to use it as a pretext to start violence against them.

In an interview with Free Copts, Bishop Kirollos said that the attacks were definitely preplanned and made use of the students from Al-Azhar Institute in Farshoot. He also pointed out to the failing role of the security forces, which disappeared without giving proper justifications, despite several demands by the church to put an end to these grave violations against Christians and their property.

He also added that even if the story of the indecent assault on the Muslim teenager was true, this was purely an individual incident and does not call for an attack on masses of peaceful Christians, who denounced this individual act which does not comply with Christian teachings. "So why the barbaric attacks by the mobs? and why have the security forces not stopped them?"

Talking to Coptic News Bulletin, the Bishop said that after being informed of the accusations of the rape on Wednesday, he has taken the frightened Copts of the villages of Kom Ahmar and Shedid out of the village to safety. "However, Coptic-owned businesses, pharmacies and cars in Farshoot and Ezbet Waziri are completely destroyed," he said.

Rev. Elisha, Pastor of St. Michaels Church in Farshoot described Saturday's violence as "similar to the Tartar Wars, they burnt down shops, pharmacies, broke down doors of homes and terrorized the inhabitants." Commenting on the alleged rape incident, he said that it is doubtful, besides prosecution did not allow anyone to meet with the accused Copt. "The Farshoot investigating officer told me that the Muslim girl was only sure that her attacker wore a black jacket -- nothing more."

"We have never been so frightened and humiliated as Christians in all our lives. The mob made wooden crosses and burnt them in the street," according to one witness. "Our religion, and our Lord were openly insulted."

As no one is venturing into the streets, none of the Coptic inhabitants contacted were able to confirm if there were any losses in human lives, or the number of injured.

Bishop Kirollos held an urgent meeting with all Coptic priests in the region, in view of the gravity of the situation. He gave instructions that no Sunday church services would be held on 11/22/09 fearing for the safety of the Christian congregations.

"If the International Human Rights Organizations around the world keep quiet about what is happening to the Copts in Egypt, then they are of no use, they just use slogans, nothing more," one witness lamented.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sudan - women have no freedom to wear jeans

A few months after she was arrested for wearing pants, Lubna Hussein was lounging around her home in a shady, upper-class neighborhood in this capital along the Nile River. It was a hot afternoon, but the 34-year-old Sudanese journalist was wearing thick jeans adorned with sequins and embroidered flowers.
"Since all this happened, I will only wear pants," she said in the calmly defiant manner that led to her fleeting global celebrity as "the trouser lady," and a less-publicized backlash that has included anonymous death threats and newspaper columns calling her a prostitute. "If you have something to fight for, you can lose your life."  MORE HERE

Egypt faces a new dynastic struggle

Eighty-one-year-old President Hosni Mubarak, a former military strongman who has ruled Egypt for 28 years, has been clearing the way for a successor predicted to be his son Gamal, when Mubarak's latest term ends in 2011.
The secrecy and interlocking interests of the ruling elite have much in common with the pharaoh's court. Constitutional changes have thrown up roadblocks to genuine political opposition, keeping dissenting candidates from winning the country's top office in a freely-fought election. MORE HERE

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Saudi Arabia battles increasing number of al-Qaida linked websites

Abdulmanam Almushawah, the head of a Saudi government program called Assakeena, checks radical web sites in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009. Assakeena, Arabic for "God's Presence", aims at combating Islamic militant Web sites. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Increasing numbers of English-language Web sites are spreading al-Qaida's message to Muslims in the West.
They translate writings and sermons once largely out of reach of English readers and often feature charismatic clerics like Anwar al-Awlaki, who exchanged dozens of e-mails with the Army psychiatrist accused of the Fort Hood shootings.
The U.S.-born al-Awlaki has been an inspiration to several militants arrested in the United States and Canada in recent years, with his Web-based sermons often turning up on their computers.
"The point is you don't have to be an official part of al-Qaida to spread hatred and sectarian views," said Evan Kohlmann, a senior investigator for the New York-based NEFA Foundation, which researches Islamic militants. MORE HERE

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Global Warming will hit Arab World very badly

Government representatives, social-policy experts and business leaders from across the region will descend on Beirut, Thursday, for the start of what is being billed as the most significant Arab environment summit of recent times. The Annual Conference of the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED) will seek to educate private and public-sector delegates on the dangers of climate change, ahead of the crucial COP-15 Copenhagen round of talks in December. 
As well as seminars and lectures from a variety of Arab environmentalists, the conference will see the launch of AFED’s annual report, titled: The Impact of Climate Change on Arab Countries.
The report’s editors, Mostafa Kamal Tolba and Najib Saab, urged those attending the conference to take the issue of climate change seriously. 
In findings revealed to The Daily Star, the report suggested that the Arab region could be hard hit by the impact of changing global temperatures. 
“Given the very high vulnerability of Arab countries to the projected impacts of climate change, it cannot afford inaction on either the global, regional or national scales,” the report said. 
“We can categorically state that the Arab countries are in many ways among the most vulnerable in the world to the … impacts of climate change.” MORE HERE

Turbulent future for Sudan

The complexity of the history and conflicts in Sudan is rarely fully understood, according to the most recent Warburg lecturer, Richard A. Lobban, Jr. Lobbans is the executive director of the Sudan Studies Association, adjunct professor of African studies at Naval War College and professor of Anthropology and African studies at Rhode Island College. He presented at last weekís Warburg Lecture on "the connectivity of conflicts in Sudan."

The first time Lobban and his wife visited the Sudan was forty years ago as journalists. Since then, he was banned in 1989, re-permitted, and returned again. Today, his expertise in conflict history and resolution is in demand at a number of institutions of higher learning.

"The Sudan is misunderstood, reduced to simplicities, or misrepresented," he said. There are countless ethnic and religious minorities in all corners of the unusually large African country that complicate relations in every region. MORE HERE

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What motivates Saudi Arabia to fight Yemeni rebels?

Caryle Murphy delves into the war between Saudi Arabia and the Yemeni ebels, trying to find out what is behind it:
Saudi Arabia’s ongoing military offensive against rebels in neighboring Yemen — the first time its armed forces have gone into combat in almost 20 years — underscores Riyadh’s deep concern about Yemen’s crumbling internal stability, and the possibility that Iran will exploit the turmoil to spread its influence.
The Saudis’ sustained air-and-ground offensive against the rebels, known as Houthis, is also raising questions about Saudi objectives and how they will extricate their forces from what is a messy and volatile internal struggle in an increasingly dysfunctional state.
“It is hard to know what the Saudis intend to achieve in terms of specific military objectives,” Kristian Ulrichsen, Kuwait Research Fellow at the London School of Economics, wrote in an e-mail. They “would be well-advised” not to get involved in what “is rapidly becoming a failed state” in Yemen.
Yemen’s slide into ungovernability has raised alarms among counterterrorism officials everywhere because of the presence there of a potent Al Qaeda franchise. The fears are particularly acute in Saudi Arabia because Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), as the group calls itself, is infiltrating operatives into the kingdom from Yemen.

Friday, November 13, 2009

More wives means less adultery?

Don’t marry young virgin girls; marry single mothers or widows instead. This was a suggestion made recently by a Kelantan state (Malaysia) official to would-be polygamists.
But the idea drew flak from some critics, who said instead that more efforts should be made to reduce divorce rates and assist single mothers.
The issue of polygamy is being hotly debated now, with the controversial Kelantan official’s suggestion and the emergence of a Polygamy Club founded in August by the wife of a polygamist.
Hatijah Aam, 55, said she started the club with the aim of curbing social ills such as prostitution and adultery. It has 300 members.
“After sharing the same man for 30 years, we are like sisters,” Hatijah told The Straits Times. Sitting beside her, Noraziah Ibrahim, 52, the younger wife of Hatijah’s husband, smiled. MORE HERE

The heat is on in Southern Sudan

Over the last 12 months or so violence in South Sudan has steadily increased. Rumours are rife that militias are being armed in the south to create fear and tensions in the run up to one of the most anticipated referendums in world politics scheduled for 2011 – to determine whether South Sudan secedes from Khartoum and opts for independence as stipulated in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in 2005. One thing is certain - the road to the CPA referendum vote will be bumpy if not potentially lethal. MORE HERE

Rami Khouri: 'The Wall will fall in the Arab World'

Rami G. Khouri wrote this article - published today in the Jordan Times. Read the whole article HERE
The 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall a few days ago passed very quietly in the Arab world, because the meaning of the wall’s fall - the transition from total state control to human freedom - also bypassed the Arab world. Not the Islamic world, or the Middle East, but the Arab world.

For many reasons, the Arab world, collectively, is the sole exception to the global wave of liberalization and democratization that touched every other region of the planet. It is difficult to predict how and when our region will change, liberalize and democratize. The spark that sets off a chain reaction for freedom could happen in one country, and then spread to others - like the Solidarity movement in Poland ultimately echoed throughout the Soviet bloc and resulted in its total transformation.

175,000 people discplaced in Saudi Arabia because of war with Yemeni rebels

Some 240 villages in Saudi Arabia have been evacuated and scores of schools closed due to fighting which has now spilled over from Yemen, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Friday, citing local contacts.
Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, launched an offensive last week after Yemeni rebels seized Saudi territory along the mountainous border from which they said the Saudis had been allowing Yemeni troops to use to attack their positions. "Fighting has now spilled into Saudi Arabia, reportedly causing 240 villages to be evacuated and more than 50 schools to be closed," Sigrid Kaag, UNICEF's regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement. MORE HERE

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Did muhammad prescribe his followers to drink camel urine?

Christian fundamentalist websites are trying to show Islam in bad light by quoting hadiths and showing how un-scientific they are. One of the website says: "A few teachings found in these divinely inspired texts include the medical virtues of camel urine: The prophet ordered them to follow his camels, and drink their milk and urine, so they followed the camels and drank their milk and urine till their bodies became healthy."MORE HERE

Saudi women may soon practise law

In yet another sign of Saudi Arabia shedding its conservative image, women lawyers may soon be allowed to represent female clients in courtrooms, close on the heels of the kingdom opening its first co-educational university.

Under a proposal floated by the Saudi Ministry of justice, women lawyers will be issued a restrictive form of license which will give them access to certain areas of courts and in cases in which they are representing female clients only, Arabic daily Al Madina reported quoting a senior official.

The move came after the ministry’s recommendation that the best way of protecting women’s rights in various cases would be by allowing them to be represented in the court by a female lawyer. MORE HERE

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Saudi Arabia setting up buffer zone in Yemen, says Yemeni rebel

Saudi Arabia is trying to set up a buffer zone inside Yemen after its week-long offensive against the Yemeni Shiite insurgents along the border, a rebel spokesman said Wednesday.
Mohammed Abdel Salam said Saudi warplanes and artillery have been shelling deep into border areas to create the zone and drive the rebels away.
"Their goal seems to be establishing a buffer zone or a no man's land on the border," he said in a telephone interview from the rebels' strongholds in Yemen's northern Saada province. "It is obvious, they are trying to scare us and make us leave the area."
Saudi Arabia launched an air and ground offensive against the Yemeni rebels last week after skirmishes along the border. Both Saudi Arabia and Yemen have accused Shiite Iran of backing the rebels raising concerns of another proxy war in the Middle East between region's Shiite and Sunni powers. MORE HERE

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Saudi attack on Yemeni rebels continues

Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday it would continue its offensive against Yemeni rebels unless they retreated well away from its borders, after insurgents said they had seized more territory near the world's largest oil exporter.
Saudi Arabia is getting increasingly drawn into a conflict to its south between the Yemeni government and Shi'ite Muslim rebels, which Riyadh fears could weaken the kingdom's stability.
"We will not stop the air strikes until they retreat tens of kilometers away from the Saudi border," said Prince Khaled bin Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz, assistant minister for defense and aviation, speaking on Al Arabiya television.MORE HERE

Apocalypse Later

This seems like a very interesting book to me.  The man proposes Christians in the Western World to not look at the Middle East through the spectacles of Eschatology, but through the perspective of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Barry Rubin: The Sad Fate of Arab Moderates

You have to feel sorry for those courageous enough to be Arab moderates. Most of your countrymen hate you, the government wants to crush you, the Islamists want to kill you, and the West doesn’t want to help you. I told this story in my book, The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East.
Despite all the endless talk of finding moderates in the Arab world, the real ones—few and far between—generally get ignored while preening, posturing extremists are treated as romantic figures.
So given all this pressure, the limited space permitted for free thought, the moderates have to talk like radicals to survive. In political terms, faced with the battle between the two giant movements of Islamism and Arab nationalism, they have to choose sides. Most liberals back their governments even though these are repressive dictatorships as a lesser of two evils to living under an Iran-, Gaza-, or Taliban-type state.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Saudi Arabia's airforces bombing Yemeni rebels

Saudi warplanes and artillery bombarded a Shiite rebel stronghold in northern Yemen Saturday for a third straight day, according to the rebel fighters, and Yemen's president vowed to wipe out the insurrection.
The sporadic five-year conflict between Yemen's weak central government and rebels in the north of the impoverished country escalated dramatically this week when Saudi military forces began shelling and bombing rebel positions.
The two nations are cooperating and sharing intelligence in the fight. Officials in neighboring Saudi Arabia have been increasingly worried that extremism and instability in Yemen could spill over to their country, the world's largest oil exporter.
Publicly, Saudi officials say their military action has been limited to areas inside its own borders, targeting fighters who have crossed into its territory. But Yemeni rebels, military officials and Arab diplomats say the Saudi air and artillery strikes began to hit deep inside northern Yemen on Thursday. MORE HERE

Friday, November 6, 2009

Arab Human Development Report 2009

The last AHDR, sponsored by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) was published in July 2009. It was the grimmest. Its statistics are intriguing, although depressing.

2.9 million square kilometers of land in the Arab World are threatened by desertification. Natural resources are depleting at an alarming level. Birth rates are the highest in the world. Unemployment is skyrocketing. 50 million new jobs must be created by 2020. Arab oil-based economies leave some Arab countries entirely vulnerable to market price fluctuations or the depletion of oil altogether. While many economies, especially in Asia are shifting or have already achieved great strides into becoming knowledge-based economies, Arab economies are still hostage to the same cycle of oil and cheap labor. In fact, 70 percent of the Arab region’s total exports, according to the report, is oil.
The problem is not just economic, or environmental, it’s societal as well. Inequality is entrenched in many Arab societies. Women’s rights are not the only individual rights violated. Men’s right are violated too, that is if they are not members of the dominant group, which are either divided by blind political allegiance, tribal or sectarian membership, or economic leverage. 


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Saudi Arabia attacks Yemeni rebels with airstrikes

Saudi Arabia said on Friday that it had launched air strikes against Yemeni rebels to "neutralise" infiltrators who had crossed the frontier and killed a Saudi border guard.
The air strikes from southern Jizan province were to "neutralise the firing by intruders" and to clear areas where they had encroached on Saudi territory, the government said in a statement on the official SPA news agency.
Earlier, a government advisor said Saudi F-15 and Tornado jets had begun bombing the positions of the Zaidi rebels inside Yemen territory on Wednesday in response to a rebel attack on a border post a day earlier in which one Saudi was killed and 11 wounded.
"They've been hit hard and it's ongoing," he told AFP on Thursday. (c) AFP

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Saudi rapist beheaded and crucified

A Saudi man convicted of kidnapping and raping five children, one of whom he left in the desert to die, has been sentenced to be beheaded and his body publicly crucified, the Saudi Arabian media said today.
The court upheld the gruesome death sentence against Muhammed Basheer al-Ramaly, 22, from the northern city of Hail, and ordered his execution to take place at noon tomorrow, according to Saudi reports.
Under Saudi law, he will first be beheaded by sword, then his body will be tied to a wooden cross and his head stuck on a pole in public as a deterrent to other would-be killers. MORE HERE

Saturday, October 31, 2009

How to get a job in Saudi Arabia

AmericanBedu has, helpfully, put some information together for how to get a job in Saudi Arabia.  HERE the link

Brother Andrew shares real stories of Muslim Christ-followers

This is a very eye-opening and insightful book full of information and true life experiences of the day-to-day journey of being Muslim and a secret believer of Christ. Author Brother Andrew and Coauthor Al Janssen who have written and coauthored numerous books including “God’s Smuggler” began taking Bibles behind closed borders in 1955, which led to the organization of Open Doors International, a non-profit group that gives aid, training and spiritual assistance to any persecuted church in restricted and unstable regions of the world. Brother Andrew has worked diligently alongside coauthor Al Janssen, who is a board member and director of communication for Open Doors International. MORE HERE

Friday, October 30, 2009

Picturing the Prophet

Are representations of the Prophet Muhammad permitted in Islam? To make or not to make images of the Prophet: that is the question Oleg Grabar (picture) will try to answer. It is an unexpectedly burning question, as the newspapers regularly demonstrate. But both the answer to the question and the reasons for raising it require a broader introduction.

There have been many times in recent years when one bemoaned the explosion of media that have provided public forums for so much incompetence and ignorance, not to speak of prejudice. Matters became worse after September 11, for two additional reasons. The first is the propagation of a climate of fear, of ever-present danger from ill-defined foes, which led in the West, and especially in the United States, to a plethora of security measures ranging from reasonable and useful to ridiculous and demeaning. Penetrating and perverting institutions and individuals, this fear collided in the Muslim world with a complex ideological and psychological evolution that led many people in Muslim countries and communities to a reflexive and often self-destructive brutality in reaction to the slightest whiff of verbal or visual provocation.

MORE of this article by  Oleg Grabar, professor emeritus at Harvard University and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, in The New Republic

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Obama administration strongly against 'defamation of religions' legislation

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke forcefully against international efforts to adopt policies outlawing the defamation of religions while presenting the Obama administration's first report on global religious freedom.

The State Department issued its annual assessment of the conditions for religious expression in 198 countries, the first such report since President Obama took office in January. The report, issued Oct. 26, demonstrates there have been both positive and negative trends in the last year, a State Department official told reporters.

Clinton, in introducing the report, took the opportunity to express her disapproval of the defamation of religions movement. Led by the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the effort promotes the condemnation of messages that defame religions and can lead to violence.

"[S]ome claim that the best way to protect the freedom of religion is to implement so-called anti-defamation policies that would restrict freedom of expression and the freedom of religion. I strongly disagree," Clinton said.

"The United States will always seek to counter negative stereotypes of individuals based on their religion and will stand against discrimination and persecution. But an individual's ability to practice his or her religion has no bearing on others' freedom of speech," Clinton told reporters. "The protection of speech about religion is particularly important since persons of different faiths will inevitably hold divergent views on religious questions. These differences should be met with tolerance, not with the suppression of discourse."

The American experience shows "the best antidote to intolerance is not the defamation of religions approach of banning and punishing offensive speech but, rather, a combination of robust legal protections against discrimination and hate crimes, proactive government outreach to minority religious groups and the vigorous defense of both freedom of religion and expression," Clinton said.

The OIC may introduce a defamation of religions resolution at the United Nations any day, according to an Oct. 28 report by the American Center for Law and Justice. Such a resolution "stifles the religious freedoms of millions of Christians around the world," ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow said. It could encourage U.N. members to enact laws barring defamation of religions, empowering Islamic states that seek to ban the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus, he said.

The U.N. Human Rights Council adopted in March a defamation of religions resolution with a plurality, not a majority, of its 47 members in support. The non-binding resolution, which cited only Islam as a specific target, urges countries to protect "against acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation of religions and incitement to religious hatred in general." MORE HERE

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

USA almost to war with Sudan in 2006

The United States and Sudan came close to a military confrontation in 2006 after Sudanese authorities held eleven US military personnel for five hours at Al-Fasher airport in Darfur, a US defense magazine reported today.

The Air Force Times online magazine reported that the standoff between both sides was an unexpected development in the course of events from a semi-routine mission planned by the US military base in Camp Lemonier, Djibouti.

The assignment objective was humanitarian in nature which is to pick a US military liaison from the capital city of North Darfur and fly him back to Djibouti to reunite with pregnant wife who was sick. MORE HERE

Islam is a religion, not a race

Islam is a religion not a race. Therefore, like any religion or belief, it has to be open to criticism and even ridicule. This becomes even more important in this day and age give that it is the ideology behind a political movement that is wreaking havoc across the world. It must be criticised and ridiculed because that is how throughout history reaction has been pushed back. Our criticism is often all we have to fight this movement.

Islamophobia - and now by the way the Church has asked that Christianity-phobia also be included in UN rights terminology –are not racism because criticisms of a religion, idea, a belief and even the practices that result from beliefs – even a phobia and hatred against beliefs have nothing to do with racism against real live human beings. Just as an attack on the belief and practice of Female Genital Mutilation is not an attack on girls who have been mutilated, just as a criticism of Judaism or the Israeli government is not an attack on Jews and just as Monty Python’s Life of Brian is not an attack on or racism against Christians.

Saying it is racism is merely part of the effort to silence criticism of religion and the political movement that holds it up as its banner. MORE HERE

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The thuggish family of the wife of Tunisia's president

Of all the Arab wives I deplore, Tunisian First Lady Leila Ben Ali takes home every dishonor imaginable. She was previously a simply salon owner and the mistress to the current president (then prime minister) and upon getting pregnant lied to him and told him it was a boy. Unhappy with his first wife (whom bore him a daughter) and eager for a son, he divorced and brought Leila along for his new career as president (installing himself after dethroning President Bourguiba in a medical coup in which the senior president was declared senile - which was true and constitutional permissible). MORE HERE

Saudi female journalist gets 60 lashes for TV show

A Saudi lawyer says a female journalist has been sentenced to 60 lashes for her involvement in a TV show in which a Saudi man publicly talked about sex.
Rozanna al-Yami is believed to be the first Saudi woman journalist to be given such a punishment. The charges against her include involvement in the preparation of the program and advertising the segment on the Internet.
In the program, aired on a Lebanese satellite channel, Mazen Abdul-Jawad, scandalized Saudis by describing an active sex life. MORE HERE

Egypt Muslims stone Coptic churches in sectarian clash

Muslims students stoned Coptic Christian churches and homes in a southern Egyptian village on Saturday after four Muslims suspected of killing a Copt were kept in custody, police said.
The unrest began when the prosecutor extended the detention of the Muslims in the village of Dairut who are suspected of killing an elderly Copt in his home last week, a police official said.
Stone-throwing Muslim students and Copts clashed before police deployed in the town, the official added.
The men in custody had allegedly sought to attack the Coptic man's son, who was dating a Muslim girl and was rumoured to have passed out a CD with explicit pictures of her. Instead they found only the father at home.
Copts account for six to 10 percent of Egypt's 80-million population. They complain of discrimination and have been the targets of sectarian killings and violence. (c) AFP

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The perverse sexual habits of the Prophet - by Abuna Zakaria

Father Zakaria Botros recently ran a show dedicated to discussing the question of morality and how it is—or should be—one of the hallmarks of “prophethood.” At the start, he posed the focal question of the show: “Was Muhammad the prophet a moral man—the most upright man, worthy of being emulated by the world?”
He opened the show by relying on an Ibn Taymiyya quote, which evaluated the signs of prophethood. Taymiyya asserted that there are many false-prophets, such as Musailima “the Liar,” a contemporary of Muhammad. Taymiyya concluded that many of these so-called prophets are, in fact, “possessed,” and that the only way to determine the authenticity of any prophet is by examining his biography (sira) and deeds, and see if he be found worthy of the title.
Being that this is the first of several episodes devoted to examining the concepts of morality and prophethood (with the notion that the former reinforces the latter), the theme for this particular episode was “purity” (tahara): “Was Muhammad a ‘pure’ man?”—in this context, a question concerning his sexual mores (or lack thereof).
After the preliminaries, Botros looked at the camera and gave a stern warning: “This episode is for adults only! I am going to discuss many things that make me blush for shame, so please: have the women and children leave the room.” MORE HERE

Monday, October 19, 2009

The World's Muslim Population

Here on Wikipedia the complete list of countries where Muslims reside in measurable numbers.  Figures are based on the demographic study by the Pew Research Center report of Mapping the Global Muslim Population, as of 8 October, 2009.  Look at Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Indonesia.  THAT is where Islam resides...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tension rise between Iran and Pakistan

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's public accusation of "certain officials in Pakistan" cooperating with the main terrorists involved in Sunday's brazen attack in Iran's Sistan-Baluchistan province, will add to Pakistan's list of security-related woes, senior western diplomats warned on Sunday.

The suicide attack, claimed to have been carried out by Jundullah - a militant Sunni Muslim group, killed at least 42 people in Pishin, a town in Iran's Sistan-Baluchistan province which borders Pakistan's own southwestern Baluchistan province. MORE HERE

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mr Tolerance vs Osama bin Laden

I came across this digital comic book by Dr Tawfik Hamid.  A very tolerant western gentleman is so overjoyed to find out that Osama bin Laden's faith is not so bad after all. :-)  Download HERE

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Opposition in Egypt campaigns against the coming kingdom of Egypt

A prominent Egyptian opposition leader said on Wednesday he was launching a campaign to block President Hosni Mubarak from passing on his post at the helm of the most populous Arab country to his politician son Gamal.
Ayman Nour, who came a distant second to Mubarak in a 2005 presidential vote before being jailed for over three years on forgery charges, said he was launching the campaign alongside other opposition activists including Islamists and liberals.
"One of the goals of the campaign is to get rid of this ghost of succession and oppression and corruption," Nour told Reuters on the sidelines of a news conference to announce the move at the headquarters of his liberal al-Ghad party. MORE HERE

Monday, October 12, 2009

Christian conscript murdered in Egyptian army

Mistreatment of Christian conscripts in the Egyptian army, including beatings, psychological harassment and torture, at the hands of radical Muslim officers to force them to convert to Islam is widespread, but is rarely reported by conscripts for fear of reprisals.
In the latest incident, 22-year-old draftee Mubarak Masood Zakaria, a Coptic Christian, died in mysterious circumstances on August 15, 2009. Three days after his death the police in Mallawi summoned his father, Masood Zakaria, to inform him of his son's "sudden death" of "natural causes," and give him the body and burial permission. "We were not allowed to see the body," said the father, who works as a rope spinner and lives under the poverty line, in the Upper Egyptian village of Deir Abu Hennes, Mallawi, in Al-Minya Governorate.
Although the death certificate stated "cause of death still under investigation," permission for burial was granted.
On their way to the church for the funeral ceremony, the odor from Mubarak's corpse was so offensive the Zakaria family and some mourners decided to inspect the body before its burial. They discovered that Mubarak's body was riddled with bullets, his face was bruised and his abdomen was cut open and sewn.
The military prosecutor in Assiut summoned the father several days after the burial and tried to explain to him how his son shot himself during his sleep, with the weapon that was with him, reported Ms Nermine Reda, correspondent for Copts United advocacy.

Church growth for Adventists in Egypt

An ongoing series of evangelism meetings in Cairo, Egypt called the Revelation of Hope, has brought attention and new interest to the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Egypt--which the church's president in Egypt, Samir Berbawy, describes as dying.
On the books there are 840 members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Egypt. But in reality only about 200 people throughout the entire country are active in the church, Berbawy says.
Through meetings held at the Heliopolis, Cairo Seventh-day Adventist Church 17 people, 10 Sudanese and seven Egyptians, have committed to taking more Bible studies to prepare them for baptism into the Adventist Church.
"This is a significant number of people," says Berbawy. "We have not had non-Adventists make decisions like that for years."
He adds, "We haven't had such a meeting in Egypt for years and years and years. This has been good for our members and has been helping with the awakening of our local members."
See more in press release of ANN

Adventist Church in Iraq targetted by bomb

A car packed with an estimated 330 pounds (150 kilograms) of dynamite was detonated outside the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Baghdad late Friday night Sept. 10. While there were no services in progress at the time, a guard was present on the church compound and escaped unhurt.

"Details are still sketchy, but it appears to have been a deliberate attack on the church since there are no other significant targets on the side that was bombed," says Homer Trecartin, secretary-treasurer for the Adventist Church's regional headquarters in the Middle East. As yet, nobody has claimed responsibility.

The car was parked on the side of the building, adjacent to the church vestry and electrical control room, which also served as a storage area. The ensuing fire gutted both these rooms, and most of the windows in the main worship area were blown in. Oweda Wahba, pastor of the Baghdad Adventist Church, who was on the scene within 15 minutes of the blast, feels that the flying glass would have caused serious injuries to worshippers had the car bomb gone off during regular Sabbath morning services.

Local and international radio and television reporters interviewed Pastor Wahba, and news of the explosion was carried on most Arabic satellite channels as well as the local press and Reuters news agency.

Adventists in Iraq have been on high alert since six bombs went off outside Christian churches on Sunday, Aug. 1, killing 11 people. From that time, the Baghdad church board took the brave decision to continue meeting on Sabbaths but incorporated several security precautions, such as erecting concrete barriers, increasing the number of guards, and transferring church services to the basement hall until the situation improves.

This is the second time the church has sustained bomb damage in less than a year. Last October a powerful explosion, which destroyed the Red Cross headquarters 200 meters away, shattered the stained glass windows on the other side of the church.

Michael Porter, president of the Adventist Church in the Middle East, is concerned about the escalating insecurity in Iraq.

"Last month, a member of the Baghdad Church, a mother of three young children, was caught in cross fire on her way to a relative's wedding in Mosul and lost her life. It is hard to imagine the daily stresses the people are under. We earnestly pray for restraint and that the various factions in Iraq will end their quarrels so the wonderful people of this beautiful country may be given a chance to flourish once more," Porter said.

Baghdad Iraq, Seventh-day Adventists believers in Baghdad participated in their weekly services on Sabbath, March 29, say staff members at the church's regional headquarters in Nicosia, Cyprus. It is not clear how many members were able to make the journey because many use public transportation, which is seriously disrupted.

As the bombing of the Iraqi capital continues, there is growing apprehension about the safety of families and friends of regional headquarters employees still living in Baghdad. The bombing of three telephone exchanges on March 28 has rendered communication with several sectors of the city impossible.

One Iraqi worker at the Nicosia office says, "I was very concerned because I heard on many of the Arabic radio stations that some of the residential areas near our home had been hit on Friday. I desperately wanted to check that my family was safe but couldn't get through on the phone. My only option was to telephone an Iraqi friend in Nicosia and ask him to call his family in Baghdad, an area where the phones are still working, to get more accurate information. To my relief the report came back that the rockets had fallen about one kilometer short of our neighborhood."

In a telephone conversation with ANN at deadline, Pastor Michael Porter, president of the church in the Middle East region, said there had been no new reports from Baghdad. He indicated that the church building in Baghdad, which so far has been unharmed by military action, is located about 4 kilometers from the center of the city, in the eastern part of Baghdad, away from areas which have so far been bombed. Source: ANN (c)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Islamic women need prayer as they are attacked for wearing Niqab

We are in an era of trials and tribulations, as foretold by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Al-Fitan – tests of faith, confusion between truth and falsehood, mutual dissensions, obscurity between right and wrong, widespread killing, war, and natural disasters – are rampant. Not to mention that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for Muslims to be able to freely practice their faith without facing some form of persecution, disdain, discrimination, humiliation or verbal assault.
Those of us who are living in countries where the Shariah is openly adhered to have no idea what it is like to be discriminated against. The alleged statements of Sheikh Tantawi of Al-Azhar University caused an outcry in the international media, perhaps blown totally out of proportion and context, to cause yet another furor against the niqab. Circles of so-called “progressive” Muslims, who wish to see the growing trend of young Muslim women willingly donning the face-veil banned, particularly in western countries, have jumped at the chance to denounce this trend, which they claim is an ancient “custom”, and not a part of Islam.
MORE of this column by Sadaf Farooqi in the Saudi Gazette HERE

Dubai merges all state-owned media

Dubai's ruler ordered Sunday that all government controlled media outlets, including radio stations, newspapers and television, be brought under the umbrella of one holding company.

Assets previously held under Dubai Holding's unit Arab Media Group, including the newspapers Emirates Business 24/7 and Arabic daily Emarat Al Youm, will now fall under the ownership of Dubai Media Incorporated, according to a directive from the emirate's ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Maktoum. (photo)

The emailed statement specifies that "printing and publishing, Dubai Radio and television, with all their assets, rights, contracts and liabilities will transfer from Arab Media Group to Dubai Media Inc."

Dubai government-owned companies are under pressure to restructure as the emirate struggles to revive an economy that's been hit hard by the global financial crisis.

Abdullatif Al Sayegh, chief executive of Arab Media Group, didn't answer phone calls.

Dubai Holding said in August it would pare down its businesses to concentrate on property, business parks, hospitality and investments. In June, Emaar Properties said it will merge with Dubai Holding's real estate units - Dubai Properties LLC, Sama Dubai LLC and Tatweer LLC - to help absorb the impact of the collapse of the sheikdom's real estate market.

Sheik Mohammed created Dubai Holding in 2004 by consolidating a number of companies that he used to spearhead some of his most ambitious infrastructure and investment projects. (c) Business Maktoob