Follow the links to read the whole thing.
During the 18 glorious days of the revolution, there was no divide between men and women, between Muslims and non-Muslims, between rich and poor and between the educated and the illiterate: all were undertaking the same responsibilities and acting freely by disregarding the conventional gender relations that have been entrenched in our minds by a vicious media, unethical education and an inconsistent political discourse. The former regime sometimes used religion and sometimes used culture to justify the strict gender division that put women aside and that prevailed for decades.
Despite the millions in Tahrir Square, women of all ages were treated with respect, and there was not a single case of sexual harassment reported. Some young women slept side by side at night in Tahrir Square, and women prayed side by side with men during Friday prayers. Men and women kissed one another when victory was achieved. . . .
There is a high rate of illiteracy among women in Egypt, amounting to at least 30 per cent, and the rate of illiteracy among women is almost double that among men. These are only examples of institutionalised gender discrimination. Let us make use of the revolution to dismantle what the regime strived to do for decades, in other words to divide and rule. Let us use the revolution to free women in order to be able to stand side by side with men to rebuild a just and equal Egypt.
Fatma Khafagy, “Now for the gender revolution,”Al-Ahram, February 17-23, 2011
One of the more bizarre aspects of the Obama Administration’s reactions to developments in the Middle East is its refusal to talk about human rights. For reasons that are obscure, it has developed the neologism “universal rights.” . . .
It’s an odd phrase, and what does it add? Unless it is meant to give protection now to as-yet-undiscovered forms of life on distant planets (who would not be covered by mere “human” rights) it sounds mostly like an effort to be different—to leave behind the language of predecessors like Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush, all of whom spoke about human rights a good deal. The phrase “human rights” tells us that there are inalienable rights to which every human being is entitled, and that may not be stripped away by a government. “Universal rights” communicates far less and is disconnected from the great history of the human rights movement. The President ought to tell his speechwriters to knock it off.
Elliot Abrams, “Whatever Happened to ‘Human Rights?’”Council on Foreign Relations, February 18, 2011
Hardline Islamists from Somalia’s most dangerous militant group amputated the hands of two men on Saturday as punishments for accusations of theft, witnesses and officials said. . . .
The amputations carried out by the group al-Shabab are not traditional punishments in Somalia, and they show the influence of hardline foreign fighters from the Middle East who are part of the group’s leadership.
“Somali Fighters Cut Off Hands of 2 Accused Thieves,”Associated Press, February 19, 2011
Muslims broke into the home of a Coptic family this afternoon and abducted their 18-year-old daughter Nesma Sarwat. The home belongs to the building contractor who built the controversial St. Mary and St. Michael church in Talbiya, within the Omraniya neighborhood of Giza. The abductors wrote messages on the home’s wall, the messages said “Islam is the solution” and “The Church has to be demolished.”
Mary Abdelmassih, “Muslims Abduct Coptic Christian Woman in Egypt,”Assyrian International News Agency, February 19, 2011
US President Barack Obama betrayed the Palestinians and the Arab world by instructing the American delegation to the United Nations to veto a Security Council resolution condemning Jewish settlements in the West Bank as illegal, United Arab List MK Ibrahim Sarsour wrote in an open letter to Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas Saturday. . . .
“Obama cannot be trusted. We knew his promises were lies. The time has come to spit in the face of the Americans.” . . .
“We had hope in Obama but his unwavering defense of Israel has left him in an unexplainable coma when it comes to the peace process,” Sarsour said. “He gave into threats from Jews in Congress and stopped seeking true peace, so we have no choice but to tell him that he is no longer wanted in the Middle East and that he can go to hell.”
Gil Hoffman, “Angry Arab MK: ‘Obama can go to hell,”Jerusalem Post, February 20, 2011
EGYPT’S distinct comedy made an appearance during the recent protests in Tahrir Square calling for the end of Hosni Mubarak’s rule and political reform.
Egyptian people are renowned for their sense of humor and nowhere was this more apparent than the protester who carried around a sign reading “Please leave. I want to get married” or the young woman whose placard read “If you decide to leave the country, don’t worry, I’ll call and ask about you”. . . .
Many used the opportunity to personalize their political statement. One man’s sign – aimed at Hosni Mubarak – read: “My wife is going to give birth after two days and my son has said to me that he doesn’t want to see your face”.
Naif Masrahi, “Egypt’s sense of humor brightens protests,”Saudi Gazette, February 20, 2011
PERHAPS THE most shocking thing about the despicable sexual attack on CBS correspondent Lara Logan in Cairo’s Tahrir Square is that to those who know Egypt, it wasn’t shocking at all. . . .
In a swath of the globe notorious for mistreating women, Egypt is particularly infamous. According to a survey conducted in 2008 by the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights, 83 percent of native Egyptian women and 98 percent of women visiting from abroad have experienced some form of public sexual harassment. More than half the Egyptian women reported being molested every day. And contrary to popular belief, most of the victims were wearing modest Islamic dress. . . .
The Egyptian uprising has inspired flights of excited rhetoric about freedom, reform, and a new beginning for Egypt. But the sickening assault on Logan is a reminder that much of Egypt’s cruelty and corruption had nothing to do with Mubarak or his regime. No nation or culture that subjects half its population to the degradation suffered by women in Egypt and so much of the Arab world can ever hope to rise to greatness.
Jeff Jacoby, “No rights for women, no freedom in a nation,”Boston Globe, February 20, 2011
“We no longer want to be subjects. We want to be citizens.”
Abdelilah Benabdeslam, quoted in Borzou Daragahi, “Tens of thousands march peacefully for reforms in Morocco,”Los Angeles Times, February 21, 2011
Israel’s Channel 2 News last year interviewed two Israeli women of Libyan origin who claimed to be distant relatives of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
The older of the two interviewees, Guita Brown, said she is Gaddafi’s second cousin (Brown’s grandmother was the sister of Gaddafi’s grandmother). The younger of the two women, Rachel Saada, granddaughter of Brown, explained in more detail:
“The story goes that Gaddafi’s grandmother, herself a Jewess, was married to a Jewish man at first. But he treated her badly, so she ran away and married a Muslim sheikh. Their child was the mother of Gaddafi.” . . .
If the story told by Brown and Saada is true, Gaddafi is entitled to immigrate to Israel as a Jew under Israel’s Law of Return. Even if every other country on earth refused him entry, Israel would be obligated by its own laws to take Gaddafi in.
“Libya’s Gaddafi could find refuge in Israel,”Israel Today, February 21, 2011
While the state-controlled and -aligned media in Iran for the most part either denied that there were protestsin the nation’s capital and several other cities on Sunday (sample headline: “Tehran saw no anti-govt. rally: Police”) or simply ignored them, there has been extensive and sympathetic coverage of the ongoing protests in Bahrain, Algeria, North Yemen, and, in particular, Libya. . . .
The hacking of the Voice of America website and nearly its entire system of affiliates, apparently by the regime-organized and -authorized Iranian Cyber Army, ended around 1:30 p.m. Tehran Time. Control of the domains was usurped from VOA for more than eight hours. The substitute homepage mounted by the hackers listed a total of 94 hacked websites. Almost all of those checked by Tehran Bureau were indeed hacked, though VOA’s Azerbaijani sitewas still operable.
Dan Geist, “Iran ‘Condemns Clampdown on Pro-Democracy Protesters’ … in Libya,”Tehran Bureau, February 22, 2011
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that Israel will allow 300 Palestinians in Libya to enter the Palestinian territories in the coming days.
“Because of the current violence in Libya I received a personal request from [Palestinian] President [Mahmoud] Abbas … that Israel allow a number of Palestinians to leave Libya and to enter the West Bank … so Israel will enable 300 Palestinians to enter the West Bank,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu said the move was made as a humanitarian gesture because the Palestinians were under threat.
Barak Ravid, “Israel to allow 300 Palestinians in Libya to enter West Bank,”Haaretz, February 23, 2011
“We believe the biggest guarantee of peace is having democratic neighbors.
We are happy to witness this democratic revolution taking place in the Arab world.”
Shimon Peres, “Google and Facebook will bring Mideast peace,”Haaretz, February 23, 2011
Bahrain’s Jewish ambassador to the United States, Houda Ezra Nonoo, has remained silent in the media about her fellow citizens’ calls to dismantle the government and end the monarchy in her small nation. . . .
The granddaughter of Iraqi Jews who migrated to the Persian Gulf nation of some half a million citizens, Nonoo was the first Jew, and the first woman, to be appointed to her diplomatic position in 2008.
But Nonoo considers herself a Bahraini first, and a Jew second, describing herself as an “Arab Jew” descended from a grandfather who was elected to, and served on the 1934 municipal council. She has since told numerous reporters that headlines trumpeting her appointment as a PR move by the Sunni monarchy — which she attributed to her work as a founding member of the Human Rights Watch Society — upset her. . . .
King Hamad Al Khalifa has clearly made efforts to reach out to his country’s Jews, both internally and throughout the world. In media interviews on trips abroad, he openly encouraged the return of those who have left and in 2004 lifted the kingdom’s boycott of Israeli products.
Chana Ya’ar, “Bahrain’s Jewish Ambassador Silent on Upheaval at Home,”Israel National News, February 23, 2011
This morning I receivedan e-mail from the great scholarly journalist Edward Jay Epstein. It was about the something-or-other dictator of the Libyan state. Read for yourself:
My confusion about the leadership of the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya: No one has his name right.
Does anyone know who is the head of the so-called Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya—or even if the first letter of his surname name is A, E, G, K, or Q?
According to the New York Times, he is “Muammar el-Qaddafi,” to the Wall Street Journal he is “Moammar Gadhafi,” to the L.A. Time he is “Moammar Kadafi,” to the Washington Post, he is “Moammar Gaddafi,” to Reuters, he is “Muammar Gaddafi,” to Bloomberg, he is “Muammar Qaddafi,” the AFP, he is “Moamer Kadhafi,”, to the English edition of the Xinhua News Agency . he is “Muammar Khaddafi,” to the US State Department, he is “Mu’ammar Abu Minyar al-Qadhafi,” to the CIA, he is “Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi,” and to his official site he is “Muammar Al Gathafi”.
Can this be a single person, or some kind of transliteration junta? And what is his—or their—job in the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (which means “masses” in Arabic)? CNN calls him “President,” the Boston Globe calls him “strongman,” the Sun (London) call him “dictator,” the Daily Mirror calls him “Mad Dog,” while the CIA factbook, somewhat understatedly, says that he “holds no official title, but is de facto chief of state.” Can any (other than his voluptuous Ukranian nurse) clarify this issue?
Martin Peretz, “How The Middle East Uprisings Disprove One Myth In American Foreign Policy,”The New Republic, February 24, 2011
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad expressed his astonishment over what is happening in Libya, asking rhetorically, “How is it possible that the ruler of a country kills his own people with tanks and guns, and then announce that whoever protests it will also be killed?” Predictably, Ahmadinejad did not explain why he does not ask himself the same question.
Muhammad Sahimi, “Ahmadinejad’s Astonishment, New Green Charter,”Tehran Bureau, February 24, 2011