Sunday, March 30, 2008

Egypt Alerts

I subscribe to a service by Google which sends alerts (once a day, once a week, or as it happens) regarding any keyword one chooses. I have many of those (yes Zamalek & Celine are on my list but I have many more that are less embarrassing) and needless to say, Egypt is on top of my list.

Here is a sample of alerts I got regarding Egypt this past week:

Egypt editor given six-month sentence for Mubarak rumours
Egypt snubs Arab summit as tensions run high
Eleven dead in crash after wedding shopping in Egypt
Bread Crisis in Egypt Leads to Clashes
Unrest grows in Egypt as food prices soar
EGYPT: Gas to Israel ignites criticism
Luxor Residents Clash With Riot Police
Egypt: Journalist in Hiding, Home Raided

Is this enough? Or should I list some more? If this is the kind of news I get with "Egypt" as the keyword, I wonder what would I get if I had an alert for the words "Disaster", "Unrest", or "Please depress me"???

I think I've just put my hand on the source of my depression which prevented me from writing new posts for the past couple of days. I will delete this alert before my condition deteriorates any further.

As for all you Egyptians out there, I advise you to add this alert to your gmail accounts to stay abreast of Egypt's news. This is your duty as an Egyptian. No excuses accepted. You are concerned about your mental health? I am shocked by your selfishness. Your concern for Egypt must be above all. And if you happen to fall victim to depression, I know an excellent psychiatrist who will take good care of you. Yalla go ahead and create the alert.

BTW, my husband's phone number is ........................... Just mention Google alerts to him and you will get a discount!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

How Fish??

My two sons have come up with this term and they don't shy from saying it out loud whenever they see what they define as an "odd couple", that is, a beautiful woman and a plain looking man. I guess to them it means:" How did this guy catch such an attractive babe?"

(Sorry guys, but when I remembered this, I thought it would make a good post. BTW, now that your secret is out, it is not advisable to use the term when meeting friends and family anymore!!)

In their best seller Freakonomics, Stephen J. Dubner & Steven D. Levitt, have asked a similar question:"Why Do Beautiful Women Sometimes Marry Unattractive Men?" And the answer they came up with was: "It may be that the unattractive man has a lot of money, or some other compelling attribute. But a new study by Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics, suggests it may be a simple supply-and-demand issue: there are more beautiful women in the world than there are handsome men."

Guys, I know that you have read the book, and because you are still asking "How Fish?" I am guessing that the above answer did not convince you. If I were you, I would be happy with this phenomenon, since it improves your chance in marrying a mozza. I am not implyng that you are unattractive. On the contrary, I think the two of you are the best looking guys ever. But this feeling might have a lot to do with an Egyptian proverb that involves monkeys, mothers, & gazelles!!!

p.s. The image of the monkey couple was chosen instead of any real couples to avoid lawsuits.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Road Accidents: Enough!!

Approximately 6,000 people are killed and another 30,000 injured in road accidents in Egypt annually.

Egyptians can blame the government for the poor road conditions, poor enforcement of traffic lows, high (90%) reliability on trucks (instead of the safer railroads or boats) in the transport of goods, and for the psychological pressures on the people due to the poor living conditions, but they have themselves to blame for the most important factor contributing to accidents: Driver's Behavior.

Driver errors, intoxication, ignorance, over confidence, arrogance, risk taking, racing, and many other forms of irresponsible behavior that can be described as criminal, are the main factor in more than 80% of accidents.

So even if the government & parliament enforce the current traffic law, approve a new traffic law, improve the roads, or take as many precautions as possible, this will not resolve the problem. You & I, the Egyptian drivers, must take responsibility to stop this hemorrhage. Please wake up. The blood on our roads is that of our brothers & sisters, parents and children, friends and neighbors. Please obey traffic laws. Please do drive defensively. Please do save Egyptian lives.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Quality or Quantity?

Men and women have different tastes in food, researchers said in what was touted as the most extensive study to date of gender differences in eating habits. More than 14,000 adult men and women were surveyed from May 2006 to April 2007, to determine their eating habits.

Researchers found that men were more likely to eat meat and poultry, especially duck, veal, and ham, and certain shellfish such as shrimp and oysters. Women instead were more likely to eat vegetables, especially carrots and tomatoes, and fruits, especially strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and apples. And regarding high risk foods, the researchers found that significantly more men consumed undercooked meat and eggs than women. From Google News.

The Nahoul conclusion:
  • Women are smarter!
  • Women have more common sense!
  • Women live longer!
  • Men live happier! (Bummer)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy Mother's day

The third special occasion in this festive week is Mother's Day. In Egypt, this occasion was established by Mustafa Amin, the Egyptian journalist, who was known for adding a human dimension to journalism. Amin, who believed in western-style democracy, involved his readers in a vote (the one and only free & uncontested vote in the history of Egypt) to choose a day to celebrate Egyptian Mothers. Most readers chose March 21st (the first day of spring) which symbolizes birth, serenity, & blossom.

The first Egyptian Mother's Day was celebrate in 1956. Later, several Arab countries followed suit and the day is now celebrated in 14 countries.

Some voices have risen requesting changing the name of the occasion to Family's Day. Their reasoning is, fathers too deserve to be celebrated and that the occasion might be painful to children who have lost their moms. To the two groups I say:
  • If you haven't noticed yet, there are 365 days in the year. March 21st is Mother's day. You still have 364 days left (& even 365 days in leap years) to choose a day to celebrate Father's or Family's Day. All I can say to people who still wanna hijack March 21st, and as best said by Salah Mansour in the movie "elZawga elThania" : "Heya 7abaket????"
  • I am capable of and I actually do a lot of mean things. But one thing I would never want to do is to hurt the feelings of others. Moreover, I would rather die than hurt the feelings of a child. Yet to those who want to change the day to a Family Day not to hurt orphans, I say: "In a society that claims that it is the most religeous society in the world, if orphans do not find a relative, a neighbor, or a friend who would replace (as best as possible) the mother this child has lost, then there is a huge problem with the society, and the problem won't be treated by canceling Mother's day.
  • If you are still not convinced, .............. well, I ran out of good arguments, so just let's celebrate.
Happy Mother's Day to my mom, & to all mothers in Egypt, the Arab world, and the whole world.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Mawled

Today is the 12th of Rabi Ist, Prophet Mohammed's birthday. Kol sana w all my readers tayyebeen. I have a few short points to make on this great festive occasion:
  • I do mean all readers regardless of their religion since Mohammad and the Islam I believe in promote tolerance and love between followers of all religions. I am blessed and consider myself very fortunate that a couple of my best friends are non-Muslim.
  • Muslims should take this opportunity to remember Mohammad's deeds as a man who called for and actually enforced social equality and virtue between his people. Wearing a thoab, and growing a beard are not what Mohammad was really sent to us to promote.
  • Depicting Mohammad, or any other prophet or religious symbol, in an insulting or degrading manner is absolutely unacceptable. But to me it is more unacceptable that followers of a religion would insult their own religion and own prophet by claiming to be true believers while their behavior and actions are far from righteous or proper.
  • God sent religions to spread love and tolerance between humans. When will followers of all monotheistic religions stop using religion as another reason (as if we are short of reasons) to hate, hurt, and kill?
  • If you think that what I am saying is too Utopian, then can we at least take this opportunity to try to promote love and harmony between the followers of the different sects within Islam?
  • Finally, I have a question. My daughter (who always asks me difficult questions that I am usually not ready for) asked me about the symbolism of the horse and the doll as Mawled toys and sweets for the boys & girls respectively. She wants to know if this is just another example of how a religious occasion (or in other cases, a religious decree) was hijacked by traditions to reinforce gender-roles. If you know the answer, then please help me out.
Salam to all.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Noise Levels Driving Cairo Residents Crazy

Egyptians have developed a particular national driving style: instead of putting their hands at the 10 and 2 position on the wheel, drivers generally put one hand on the wheel and the other on the horn - the optimal position for continuous beeping. Beeping and other noise pollution has gotten so out of control in Cairo that, according to a 2007 study, living in the center of the city is the same as living inside a factory in terms of noise levels.

This could have severe health effects for residents of the growing mega-city. According to scientists, noise pollution can be just as deadly as chronic stress, leading to a slew of health problems including hypertension, hearing loss, heart attacks and general irritability. The noise pollution caused by car horns, loud music, elderly car engines and people shouting on the street is particularly harmful to pregnant women. From TreeHugger.

I guess this explains a lot!!! Especially, the "general irritability" side effect!!

Do you have any practical solutions for this problem?
What did you say??? I cannot hear you!!!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Egypt Woman's Day

I apologize for my ignorance since in my post titled "International Woman's Day" & dated March 8th, I questioned the logic behind celebrating Egypt Woman's Day on a date other than the International Day.

Turns out that March 16 was chosen as Egypt Woman's Day in pursuance to a UN resolution urging member states to celebrate their own women's day each in accordance with a history event. That day in the year 1919 marks Egyptian women's revolution against colonialism, their struggle for independence, and the death of Hameida Khalil, the first woman to sacrifice her life for the cause.

On that day, 300 women demonstrators led by Hoda Sha'arawi took to the streets raising the crescent and the cross to symbolize national unity and denouncing British occupation and colonialism. On the same day, four years later, Hoda Sha'arawi called for a demonstration, the first of its kind, for the foundation of the first Egyptian Women's Union. Her purpose was to improve women's educational level & to ensure political and social equality. From

Happy Woman's Day to all Egyptian women.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


"Unable to account for the extraordinary success of his book which has sold some 35.000 copies in half a year, Khaled al-Khamisi is well aware that he has spoken to something deep in Egyptian society at the moment. In small reports from conversations with taxi drivers in 2005-06, Khaled shares some of the wry and burlesque humor of the drivers he has met. But he has a vision for a cultural renaissance of this country. That, he says, is the only way to save it.

A scion of a family of well-known leftist writers, al-Khamisi was destined to become an author himself, but it was only in his 44th year that he finally published a work of his own. The taxi-drivers helped him, you might say. But the work stands out for its simplicity, its frankness, and its social commitment, even if it does not seem to offer the classical revolutionary solutions of the left." Click here for the complete article.

I envy Khaled. Well I actually envy of all writers, novelists, singers, actors, and musicians for the telnet they possess, but I am extremely envious of Khaled for thinking about writing a book about his conversations with taxi drivers. I wish I thought about this before he did. Although his book is truly entertaining and it candidly reflects the nature of the Egyptian people, yet I still think that had I collected my family's experiences with taxis in a book, I would have made a fortune.

If you don' believe me, let me give you a taste of some of my taxi stories:
  • My husband, his brother-in-law, and I were in an extremely old taxi driven by an extremely old driver. A plastic egg was hanging from the rear view mirror. Since the taxi was going no faster than 25 Km/Hr (for obvious reasons) "7oda" decided to start a conversation with the driver. He asked about his name, and the cute driver said: "My name is Badawi, but everyone calls me Hagg Batta(duck)!!!" Hearing this, 7oda(with his excellent sense of humor) held the egg and said " I see, and this must be your picture when you were a baby!!!"
  • Upon his arrival in Cairo, my husband's friend took a taxi from the airport to his hotel in downtown. The driver asked for an outrageously high fare. The friend, looked to the driver in the eye and said:"I need to warn you, I am a sorcerer and am capable of hurting you, so don't make me cross with you." Smiling, the driver said:"Fair enough. Proof it to me, and I will only charge you 10 pounds." The friend said: "Let's see. Your name is Abbas."Impressed the driver said: "Not bad, what else?" Continuing he said:"You took part in the 73 war and you have two kids, a boy & a girl." Astounded, the driver slowly moved his wide open mouth to say: "Give me my 10 pounds and get off please." After paying him, the friend got off, and talking to the driver through the open window he said:"By the way, your name is written on your key chain. Every Egyptian man your age took part in th 73 war, and I noticed the pictures of your kids on the back of your car's sun shades. Salam ya 3ibs". Outraged, the driver shouted: "YABN EL (son of) ....................." (assume the worst), then he quickly pressed the gas pedal speeding away & looking for a new customer.
  • Finally, how about when my husband & I forgot our 2 year-old son in the Taxi??? Eat your heart out Khaled. I bet can never beat that!! (I will not write this one since my son is still traumatized by the experience, but I will include it in my book)

p.s. If you are wondering, the driver did return our son but not before my husband & I almost killed each other. Seriously, those 15 minutes, the time between the taxi leaving our house and returning back with our son, were the worst and longest 15 minutes in my life. And since the second story portrays a greedy driver, I have to mention that this kind & honest driver refused to take any money for his good deed. Thank you Mr. Taxi driver.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Ibrahim Issa

Ibrahim Issa is one of my favorite journalists. I also enjoy his TV program "Al Fihres" (Contents) which airs on Dream2 every Thursday at 7:30 pm Egypt time. Although he is strongly opinionated, Issa always speaks to ones mind & logic and is far from being biased or prejudiced in his views.

For example, in last Thursday's episode, Issa reminded all Arabs that the Islamic civilization, that has directly and indirectly influenced societies on every continent, did not flourish solely on the shoulders of Arab scholars, but rather was the result of the collective minds and works of Arabs and non-Arabs.

Here are some of great Islamic scholars who are non-Arab or of mixed origin:
  • Al Bukhari - Sunna: Bukhara - Uzbekistan
  • Muslim - Sunna: Nishapur - Persia
  • Ibn Maja - Sunna: Qazwin - Persia
  • Abu Dawood - Sunna: Sijistan - Afghanistan
  • Al-Nasa'i - Sunna: Nasā - Persia
  • Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna) - Medicine, Chemistry, Philosophy, & Astronomy: Bukhara - Uzbekistan
  • Razi (Rhazes) - Chemistry & Medicine: Rayy, Persia
  • Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnī - Anthropology, Psychology, Astronomy, Chemistry, Historian, Geography, Geology, Mathematician, Pharmacy, Philosophy,Ash'ari & Sunna: Persia
  • Al-Khwārizmī - Mathematics, Astronomy, Astrology, and Geography: Khwārizm - Persia
  • Gaber ibn Hayan - Father of Chemistry, Chemistry, Astronomy, Engineer, Philosophy, and pharmacy, and Medicine: Persia (could be of Arab origins)
  • AlFarabi - Philosophy, Cosmology, Logic, Music, Psychology, and Sociology : Persia
  • And many more
The above mentioned great scholars, all of whom would have defiantly won the Nobel prize in every branch of science they specialized in had there been such a prize in their time, are enough reminder that Islam and the Islamic civilization are not an exclusive property of Arabs. Accordingly, the Islam of non-Arabs should never be doubted or looked upon as less than that of Arabs. To summarize what Issa wanted to stress (and I fully agree with him), I quote prophet Muhammad's last sermon:

"All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Guest of Dishonor!!

Two European Book fairs in Paris & Turin have decided to make Israel their guest of honor!!! About 39 writers from Israel will be honored on the occasion of the Zionist state's 60th anniversary.

There is a lot of debate between Arab intellects about the proper way to protest this brazen invitation. A number of Arab & Islamic countries and writers have already announced boycotting the fairs. The Muslim scholar and activist Tariq Ramadan and the Anglo-Pakistani writer Tariq Ali are among those endorsing the boycott. Mohamed Salmawy, president of the Writer's Union of Egypt, wrote to the Italian writers union to say that "writers all over the Arab World" had been "shocked" by the Turin fair's decision and that the writers unions in Jordan, Tunisia and Egypt had all officially condemned the choice. The book fair's decision, Salmawy wrote, "has antagonized Arab public opinion."

The Egyptian daily Al-Ahram reported last week that representatives of 25 professional associations in Cairo sent the French Foreign Ministry a note protesting the decision to make Israel the guest of honor because of the Jewish state's alleged violations of Palestinian rights over its 60 years.

I claim that I only support the Palestinians and condemn the Zionist state because I am a righteous person and not because I am an Arab or a Muslim, but you don't have to take my word for it. Therefore, I will not mention my personal opinion on the subject, but rather the opinion of two Israelis:

Yael Lerer (An Israeli Publisher): "This is a clear message by the French government in support of the Israeli Aggression, Occupation & Apartheid."

Aharon Shabtai (An Israeli Poet): "I do not believe that a State that maintains an occupation, committing on a daily basis crimes against civilians, deserves to be invited to any kind of cultural week. That is, it is anti-cultural; it is a barbarian act masked as culture in the most cynical way. It manifests support for Israel, and even to France that sustains the occupation. And I do not want to participate."

I rest my case.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

AlQahira's Pigs

During my lunchtime, I am usually able to follow part of the popular TV program AlQahira AlYoum presented by Amr Adeeb. In the past couple of years, and specially with the departure of annoying Nirvana, Amr has gained a lot of popularity and fame. Although most daily "journalism - entertainment shows" (Al 3ashera Masa2an, 90 Minutes, El Bait Baitak) more or less discuss the same topics, Amr is still able to attract more viewers because of his long experience, genuine interest in the topics he discusses, and excellent sense of humor.

The only thing that annoyed me, was his views when it came to women which he usually expressed on his weekly segment with Ragaa Gidawi. But I always interpreted those views as a way to make the program more entertaining (by pretending that he is a chauvinist pig), and accordingly did not take them seriously.

After watching part of last night's show, I actually decided to stop my subscription with Orbit. Amr has fell to new low (which I cannot overlook or excuse even though he is a loyal Zamalkawee). The views he expressed regarding women were extremely offensive and totally unacceptable. When a TV personality, who is expected to help develop the society, has, and is not ashamed to publicly express, such backward & regressive views, then responsible viewers have an obligation to boycott his program.

The guest Amr most agreed and identified with (needless to say he was totally against every word uttered by his other guest Ikbal Baraka) was another chauvinist pig who started a group called "Sisayed"(after Nagiub Mahfouz's lead character in his trilogy). This idiot who promotes the need to go back to the family setup of the thirties when women were not allowed to leave the house and were treated as a property owned by their husbands has totally missed Mahfouz's opinion of Ahmed Abdul Gawad (aka Sisayed).

To Amr and his friend I need to explain (even though I doubt they have the capacity or will to understand) that Mahfouz has portrayed Adbul Gawad as a hypocrite who is extremely stern with his wife and kids, not allowing his wife to leave the house even to visit a mosque or her married daughters, while he lead a life of a brazen adulterer who spends his nights in brothels drunk in the arms of prostitutes. To have him as your idol speaks loads of your messed up moral believes. If this character is the idol of Amr Adeeb and his guest, then I gladly tell them that they have my disdain & disrespect.

And I would love to see how Amr will defend his views to his wive. My guess is: he is in big trouble. Unless of course he is married to Miss Piggy.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Over the past week, I watched one TV program after the other discussing the same subject. Upper middle class Egyptians giving their life savings to a person to invest it for them, then (naturally) this person disappears with their money. Different swindlers, different "victims", but same style, same strategy, and the same end result.

The victims' stories had the following in common:
  • All perpetrators promised/gave unbelievable interest rates that are not possible even in illegal trades (drugs, arms, money laundry,.. - I sound like I am expert on the subject!!!)
  • All perpetrators were closely acquainted with a"STAR" of the society (politician's son, artist, soccer player, ..) who (willingly or not) provided him with a halo of trust & respect
  • Some victims claimed that they did not ask (actually did not care) how this "investor" made such profits
  • Others chose to believe the fairy tales they were told about smuggling cell phones, or any other product (which they knew was illegal)
  • They all trusted the perpetrator because they saw wise (professors & bankers) or powerful (police & army officers) members of the community dealing with him
  • They all invested obscene amounts of money that I was surprised they had in the first place, and even sold their cars and apartments to give the swindler as much money as possible (ranging from 100,000 to several millions of pounds)
  • Most of them made the mistake of asking the swindler to invest any interest they made (no wonder he was able to promise such high interest rates!!!)
  • None of the victims showed any remorse or regret for their ungratefulness & thanklessness for what the initially had and unashamedly admitted that they fell for the scam because they envied others who were bragging about their high-return investment
From all the above, I declare that I don't sympathize with any of those "victims". They were not the victims of those scoundrels, but rather victims of their own greed. They are criminals cause they willingly investing in an illegal trade and they are idiots to fall for the same scam that swept Egypt back in the 90s.

When will so many Egyptians learn from history and previous mistakes?
When will so many Egyptians learn to only enjoy money that they actually worked and toiled for??
When will so many Egyptians stop leading this double life ??? One of a devoted religious & pious person on the outside, and another of a lazy greedy money-worshiper????

As for the "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" who are now leading splendid lives abroad, enjoy while you can. Money will buy you a lot of comforts. But never love or happiness.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

International Woman's Day

On March 8th, 1914, women held rallies all over Europe either to protest the war or to express solidarity with their sisters in Russia who have observed the first International Women's day as part of the peace movement brewing on the eve of World War I. The date is also linked to women's movements in the US. I have no problem celebrating in solidarity with the Russian, American, or women from any other country, religion, or color.

Yet, as an Egyptian, I also celebrate in solidarity with numerous Egyptian women who paved the way for me and millions of other Arab women. But I just discovered that we have an Egyptian Women's day which is celebrated on March 16 (have no idea why we had to have a different women's day than the rest of the world). In any case, I would like to take this opportunity to thank and pay my respect to some Egyptian women pioneers:

Aisha Ismat Al-Taimuriya (Writer)
Amina El-Said (First PHD in Arts, Cairo University, Writer, Jounalist)
Amina Rashid (Activist)
Amina Shafiq (Writer & Activist)
Aziza Hussein (Veteran Champion of Women's Rights)
Aziza Moharram (Pilot)
Duria Shakik (Jounalist, Women's Rights Advocate)
Farkhonda Hassan (Scientist, Politician and Development Specialist)
Fatma Moussa (First woman head of English Lit. Dept, Cairo Univ)
Fatmah Rushdi (Actress, Film Maker)
Helena Sidaros (First Woman Doctor to Practice in Egypt)
Hoda Shaarawi (Leader of the Egyptian Feminist Movement)
Inji Aflatun (Painter)
Laila Doss (First woman Radio broadcaster, UN Assistant Sec-General)
Laila Takla (Human Rights Activist)
Latifa El Zayyat (Writer & Activist)
Lotfia Elnadi (Pilot)
Malak Hefni Nassef (aka Bahithat Al-Badia, Women's Rights Advocate)
Mufida AbdelRahman (Attorney, Writer, Women's Rights Advocate)
Nabaweya Musa (Educator, Activist)
Nawal Al-Saadawi (Psychiatrist, Writer)
Qut Al-Qulub (Activist, Writer)
Rose Al Youssef (Actress, Journalist)
Safia El Mohandess (Radio Broadcaster)
Safiyah Zaghlul (Mother of the Egyptian People)
Saiza Nabarawi (Journalist, Activist)
Samira Moussa (Nuclear Scientist)
Shahinda Maklad (Activist)
Sufi Abdullah (Writer)
Tahia Halim (Artist)
Um Kalthoum (Singer)
Widad Metri (Activist, Journalist)
Zeinab Hassan (Chemist)

Needless to say, this list is only of some pioneers who lived in the past century. As an established Mastoul, I am sure I forgot to mention some pivotal names. Pioneers of the more distant past and contemporary ones are not listed, but are in my heart. Pioneers of the future are in my dreams.

Finally, I wish all my fellow women a happy, prosperous, productive, and fulfilling life. To Egyptian women in particular I say: "Let's not disappoint our pioneers."

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Gardens of the Devil

Robert Fisk wrote: "Egypt calls its own Second World War minefields "the Gardens of the Devil", and they run from El Alamein to Mersa Matruh, east of the Libyan border. As the Egyptian Mail pointed out last month, we in the West remember the dead of Alamein every year. But who remembers the dead of Egypt? And just for the record, although the British and Italians and Germans have all forwarded their ancient minefield maps to the Egyptians – and although the Egyptian army cleared 2,976 mines between 1983 and 1999 – there remain about 17.6 million landmines beneath the Egyptian coastal strip, according to the country's clearance organization." Click here for the complete article.

"The Gardens of the Devil" is the moral; if not legal because unfortunately International laws were carefully crafted to protect the perpetrators of the crime; responsibility of the former Allies of the Second World War. Egypt should press its Western "friends" to help de-mine the area to stop the on-going loss of Egyptian lives, limbs and futures. Almost every inhabitant of Al-Alamein knows someone who has been killed or maimed by a landmine. If the Western conscious is not moved by this facts, then we should try another approach suggested by an expert on the subject. This area of land has huge prospects in agriculture, mining, oil& gas, & tourism. The Allies should help us de-mine and develop it because this new employment market will reduce the outrageous unemployment rates in Egypt and accordingly, reduce the numbers of illegal immigration to the West and will close a wide door to despair and terrorism.

De-mining "The Gardens of the Devil" should be high on our government's priority list. And I will not take "we are too busy with other more urgent matters" for an answer. If the leadership in Egypt can find the time to resolve the problem of AlAhly's "goalkeepers", then this same leadership must find the time to resolve the problem of the required "minesweepers". Not the computer game, real ones!!

p.s. I apologies to my "smart" readers for adding the last sentence. I know that you did not need an explanation. This sentence is exclusively for our officials (some of whom are known to be a bit slow).

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Pride Not Prejudice

Do you remember Louise Woodward? Neither did I. Well, allow me to refresh your memory as Wikipedia refreshed mine. Louise is the former nanny (au pair) convicted, at the age of 19, of the involuntary manslaughter of 8-month-old Matthew Eappen in his home in Newton, Massachusetts. Louise sentence was reduced to time served (279 days).

I am not interested in the case itself. What I found interesting, or rather outrageous, and the only reason I still remember this case, is the obscene display of prejudice by the majority of two supposedly civilized peoples. Even before the trial started, the British & Americans looked & sounded like spectators in a boxing match. In the right corner, we had Louise wearing the Union Jack, and in the left corner we had the parents of Mathew wearing the Stars & Stripes. And the Atlantic divided the spectators into a side that blindly believed in the complete innocence of the British nanny and another that blindly believed in her absolute guilt.

This stance was an excellent example of how when ignorant patriotism comes in the door, common sense, logic, and even morality go out the window. This also applies to nationalism, religion, color, language, social status, and a number of other supposedly noble reasons for pride & unity. They could easily lead us to the wild river of prejudice which drowns its victims and strips them of their moral obligation to be righteous.

I am proud to be an Egyptian, an Arab, a Muslim, a Woman, a Zamalkaweya (well not too sure about this one), but I make a effort to close all the windows before I take sides.

p.s.#1 To be totally honest, I am not that perfect. When I judge men and Ahlaweya, I leave the windows ajar.

p.s.#2 BTW, another excellent common sense and morality replant is fear. Unfortunately, I can't take credit for this discovery. Politicians made (and used) this fact looonnnggggg ago.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Hole in a Beautiful Kite

Staying in Afghanistan for the second post in a row, I would like to discuss the novel "The Kite Runner" by Afghan American author Khaled Hosseini. Hosseini is an excellent story teller. I could hardly put the book down. The complicated yet very believable relation between Amir & Hassan almost captivated my emotions throughout the pages of the book. I say "almost" since in spite of all of the above, I still felt like there was a big hole in Amir's story, or that the book I read had a number of missing pages.

I expected Khaled Hosseini to at least shortly mention the pivotal role that the US played in adding to the chaos in Afghanistan, arming, training, and recruiting what it called the Mojahedeen. The same Mojahedeen whose Afghani members became known as Taliban and whose Arab members became the nucleus for Al Qa3da. I cannot imagine that he totally omitted any mention of this role, that changed the face of Afghanistan, and that lead to the infamous events of 9/11, the war in Afghanistan in 2001, and the war in Iraq in 2003. Events that can only be described as "hard to ignore".

If Hosseini ignored the American role to avoid controversy in his new adopted country, then he has committed two grave errors. First, he did not respect the intelligence of his readers to think that he could get away with such omission. And second, he was short sighted to trade higher sales for his own credibility.

p.s.The movie based on the book will be showing shortly in Egypt. The role of Amir is played by the Egyptian Scottish actor, Khalid Abdulla. I look forward to watching the movie hoping that the film makers will avoid the same mistake. I doubt it, but we'll see.

Monday, March 3, 2008

A Royal Wasta!!!

Dear British Royal Family, the British Government, & the British Ministry of Defense,

Although as an Egyptian I do know a lot about wasta (favoritism), I have a couple question for you regarding the Royal British wasta. I just read that Prince Harry's war game was cut short when his deployment in Afghanistan (which was initially subject to a news blackout in a deal struck between the MoD and newspapers and broadcasters in the UK and abroad) was leaked by an Australian magazine and a German newspaper.

So to help me understand how wasta works in the UK, please answer the following questions:
  • How do you decide on who is too valuable to die and who is not?
  • Why did Harry go into the military in the first place if he was not to be allowed to see "regular" action?
  • If it is taboo to allow a royalty to be shot at, why isn't it also a taboo to allow a royalty to shoot and kill others?
  • How is the morale of the other (disposable) members of his regiment and their families?
  • Do families of the other British soldiers and more importantly the families of all the Afghans your troops killed (intentionally or as "collateral damage") in your war in Afghanistan love & cherish their kids any less than Harry is loved & cherished by his family??
  • What the heck are your troops doing in Afghanistan anyways???????
Please note that I do not wish Prince Harry any harm, and I am glad that he is safe and sound. It's just that I do wish the same to all other humans regardless of their religion, nationality, color, or social status.

Best regards

Sunday, March 2, 2008


"The unexamined life is not worth living" - Socrates.

"An examined life is painful.” - Malcolm X.

"Excuse moi! I'll go take a couple of pain killers before attempting to make my life worth living." - Nahoul.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Tragedy of Al

Andalus, Andalusia, Moorish Spain, Islamic Spain are all names given to those parts of the Iberian Peninsula governed by Muslims or Moors at various times in the period between 711 and 1492.

When it comes to Al Andalus, I am extremely ambivalent. Don't know whether to:
  • Feel proud for the great Arab/Islamic civilization that flourished there for almost 800 years or ashamed for the humiliating self destruction that lead to it's demise.
  • Celebrate the great scientists, philosophers, poets, architects, and artists whose works became a major influence on the intellectual life of medieval Europe, or mourn the millions of valuable manuscripts that were burnt in 1499 by direct orders from Cardinal Ximénez de Cisneros, Queen Isabella's confessor.
  • Admire and long for the tolerance that became an inherent aspect of Andalusian society where religious minorities were treated better than any other time or place in history, or scorn the violence, discrimination, and forced conversion suffered by the Muslim/Arab and Jewish populations after the reconquest.
Andalusia is a rich and valuable history lesson that all Arabs should know inside out. If you are not in favor of dry history books, then allow me to recommend two great novels that are honest, informative and enjoyable:
  • Granada, by Radwa Ashur
  • Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree, by Tariq Ali
Reading those two books might help us find the "Andal" (rascals) who caused the fall of the ""