The choice of the date for Obama's address indicates his attention to detail. It coincides with the anniversary of the start of the first battle between Islam, under Prophet Muhammad, and Christendom in the shape of a Byzantine expeditionary force in AD629. The “address to Islam” also marks the 30th anniversary of Ayatollah Ruhallah Khomeini's demise and the appointment of Ali Khamenei as the new “Supreme Guide of the Islamic ummah”. More importantly, it also coincides with the rebuilding of the Ka'abah, the stone at the heart of Mecca, which had been destroyed in a Muslim civil war.
Rich in symbolism, Obama's “address to Islam” is also full of political implications. Obama is the first major Western leader, after Bonaparte, to address Islam as a single bloc, thus adopting the traditional Islamic narrative of dividing the world according to religious beliefs. This ignores the rich and conflict-ridden diversity of the 57 Muslim-majority nations and fosters the illusion, peddled by people such as Osama bin Laden and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that Islam is one and indivisible and should, one day, unite under a caliphate.
Wait til you get the tab for the Egypt trip where Obama submits to Islam.
Okay, I know it's Debka. But, come on. Let's watch the White House try and spin this.
US president Barack Obama has not yet decided
whether his historic speech reaching out to the Muslim world will be
delivered on June 4 from a lecture hall at Al Azhar University in Cairo
or its main mosque, DEBKAfile's Middle East sources
report. If the second, his address will take place in the presence of
Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, the Sunni Muslim world's greatest religious
authority. In any event, Al Azhar is the most eminent school of Islamic
learning in the world and the US president therefore expects its impact
to far outweigh his first address to Muslims from Istanbul.
arrival from a meeting with Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh on June 3 is
planned to add extra weight to Obama's dramatic outreach to Muslims,
since the king officiates as Custodian of the Holy Places to Islam.
Radical Muslims will therefore have all the more reason for rejecting it.
transports have been landing at Cairo airport, unloading a fleet of
armored vehicles, White House helicopters, counter-terror weapons and
the vanguard of the 3,000 Secret Service officers backed by CIA and FBI
personnel who will secure the US president during his stay in Egypt.
Cairo will soon be in turmoil as forces are deployed from a command
center at the American Embassy to control sections of downtown Cairo,
with guard posts on the Nile River's banks, the international airport,
main railway terminals and approaches to the city.
30,000 Egyptian security personnel including army units stationed in
Cairo have been placed on special duty until the American president
leaves. Their names and those of the welcoming party at Al Azhar
University were submitted to the US presidential security center.
is due to land in Cairo Thursday at 10 a.m., drive to the Abidin Palace
to meet President Hosni Mubarak and proceed from there to Azhar
University. His convoy will be escorted by vehicles equipped with
sensors for detecting firearms and explosives and covered by Marine
Until the last minute,
the president's routes to the university have been withheld from
Egyptian security authorities as a safeguard against leaks to hostile
News travels fast in Cairo but it usually travels wrong. In the
1980s, riots broke out and people were killed over a wild rumor that
Christians were spray-painting crosses on Muslim women's dresses using
invisible ink. Subsequent rumors claimed that the iconic label of
Coca-Cola (the company was fresh out from under a two-decade Arab
League boycott for having a bottling plant in Israel) showed the Arabic
words "No Mohammed, No Mecca" when viewed in the mirror. One would
imagine that with a little squinting, literate Egyptians would be uniquely positioned to
disconfirm such a thesis. In the end, it took Egypt's grand mufti to
issue an opinion that the logo had been "designed in Atlanta 114 years
ago in the state of Georgia and was written in a foreign language, not
No sooner had the Coke business been put to bed than another rumor
cropped up claiming that aftermarket seat belts made in Israel
contained a chemical designed to make Arab men sterile (Cairo's
enormous fleet of cabs have been retrofitting seatbelts in recent
years). As with the invisible ink rumor, this one probably cannot be
disproved, though with population densities in "popular" quarters
pushing 1,000 per acre, it is hard to see what all the fuss was
about. Not surprisingly, Egyptians get on each other's nerves...
It is estimated that 46 percent of all women are harassed daily and the fact that 50 percent of the women wear the hijab, and 9 percent wear the niqab? It don't matter! Being veiled is not the great protector of female modesty and chasity that our Muslim friends claim it to be.
"This was not the Egyptian hospitality we knew..."
As night falls over Egypt’s capital, youth gather along the banks of the Nile where a carnivalesque atmosphere prevails.
and Mido have taken up positions on the railing next to the river. As a
group of veiled teenage girls approaches, the duo works in tandem.
Tamer removes the girls’ headscarves with his eyes, while sexually
nuanced words roll off Mido’s tongue.
"Girls love the attention - it makes them feel attractive," says Mido,
an engineering student, as the girls divert their eyes to the pavement
and nervously scurry past. "They pretend to be innocent, but it’s just
part of the game they play."
Women insist it is no game. They say the amount, and intensity
of street-level sexual harassment has increased in the past decade.
The journey home from school or work can require running a
gauntlet of gropes and taunts. "I’ve encountered every form of sexual
harassment from men on the streets," complains Dina El-Sherbiny, a
31-year-old office administrator. "They ogle, touch, use the filthiest
A study published last year by the Egyptian Centre for Women’s
Rights (ECWR) found that 46 percent of the 1,000 women who were
surveyed, were harassed on a daily basis.
"The results were a shock for us - this was not the Egyptian
hospitality we knew, and it was not compatible with all our ideas about
harassment," ECWR chairwoman Nehad Abu El-Komsan told IPS.
Cairo University has postponed student exams set for next Thursday
and the Egyptian president's security service took over the campus in
anticipation that President Barack Obama will address the Muslim world
from its main hall.
While the American Embassy in Cairo will not
confirm the venue, Egyptian officials say Cairo University will be the
site of Obama's June 4 speech aimed at repairing U.S. relations with
the Muslim world.
University spokesman Sami Abdel-Aziz said it is
"90 percent" certain that Obama will deliver his speech from the
campus, located off a palm tree-lined square on the Nile's west bank.
landmark campus, which has been at the center of student pro-democracy
protests, would provide Obama with a symbolic backdrop linked to
liberal Arab learning. Its graduates include Nobel Prize-winning author
Naguib Mahfouz. "It is a symbol of liberalism in Egypt," said
Egyptian writer Ali Salem. "People used to send students to get
bachelor's degrees to Europe to come back and teach. So this university
was meant to be a real window to the world."
The university was
apparently chosen over another deeply symbolic setting. The
1,000-year-old Al-Azhar mosque, the heart of a revered institution for
Islamic study in Cairo's crowded and conservative old quarter, was also
said to have been on the short list of venues considered.
Al Azhar mosque, that 'famed symbol against Western imperialism' is on the short list. Problem arises with the thousands of shoes that would have to be left at the door - on a brighter note, I guess that means no one is going to be throwing one at his head.
One question: Since Obama's thinking about speaking at a mosque, will the women have to listen from the basement?
When President Obama addresses the Muslim world from Cairo next
month, Egyptian officials hope he will choose the 1,000-year-old
Al-Azhar Mosque, the heart of a revered institution for Islamic study,
as his backdrop to convey U.S. respect for Islam.
U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Margaret White said there has been no
decision yet on the venue for Mr. Obama's June 4 speech on U.S.
relations with the Muslim world. But two Egyptian security officials
said Thursday that an American advance team scouted five potential
sites this week and narrowed it down to a short list of three - the
Al-Azhar Mosque and two other locations connected to it.
Al-Azhar is one of the oldest, most prestigious and influential institutions of higher learning for Sunni Islam.
Delivering his message from the 10th-century mosque would convey
the American president's regard for Islamic religion, culture and
history, Al-Azhar officials said.
Egypt's decision to ignore U.N. advice and cull its pigs over flu
fears has unintentionally fanned sectarian tensions in the mainly
Pigs in Egypt are primarily reared by Christian garbage collectors
who let their animals scavenge on organic household waste in
fly-infested slums. They sell the meat, which Muslims consider unclean,
largely to other Christians.
"The Christians are Egypt's garbage men, and we are not liked,"
said Marzouk Badr Adli after taking part in a recent protest against
the cull in Cairo's Manshiet Nasser shantytown. "We serve the people
and they come and cut off our livelihood."
Christians account for about 10 percent of Egypt's population, spanning
all social classes. Relations with Muslims are usually harmonious
although disputes over land, religious buildings or women occasionally
erupt into violence.
t has not helped that truckloads of security forces now stand guard
at the entrance to garbage collector slums to help workers enforce the
cull order, or that compensation has been low at just 100 Egyptian
pounds ($17.79) per adult pig.
"We are starting to get concerned at the strong sectarian tone that
is beginning to dominate the public discourse," said Hossam Bahgat of
the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.
"A discourse that implicates Christians with impurity on the one
hand and disease on the other could have alarming consequences," he
A government minister has described Egypt's pigs as a time bomb, an
Islamist parliamentarian appeared at a session in a protective mask,
and the Coptic pope has stepped in to assure Muslims that most of his
people don't eat pork. The meat is mainly consumed, he says, by foreign
tourists and expatriates.
"This is not happening in a vacuum. It is happening in a context of
a polarised society and a high degree of sectarian tension," Bahgat
said of the cull and response.
But the decision to cull, while it does disproportionately affect
Christians, was not taken for sectarian motives, most analysts agree.
Rather, it was a chance for Egypt to rid urban areas of pigs --
something the government has long wanted.
Next, they'll want to rid urban areas of Christians.
P.S. Hey, here's an idea. To improve sanitation in their fly infested slums, how about ridding their urban areas of GARBAGE DUMPS?
Pig farmers, many of whom keep their animals in the backstreet slums
of the capital, Cairo, mounted a blockade against government workers
moving in to slaughter their animals.
When they began throwing
stones at police trying to force a way through, officers fired shots in
the air and let off tear gas. At least 12 people were injured in the
melee, according to one report.
The cull has been criticised by international agencies such as the
World Health Organisation and the Food and Agriculture Organisation,
who say that despite the name there is no possibility of pigs passing
on the disease.
The Egyptian authorities have admitted since ordering the slaughter
last week that it was mainly a pretext for carrying out a
reorganisation of the country's pig farms, which are used to supply the
country's Coptic Christians, ten per cent of the population.
One security source said police had gone to the Manshiet Nasr
neighbourhood, a mix of concrete and brick apartment blocks and
makeshift shanties, to seize pigs belonging to garbage collectors who
make their living sorting trash.
But another security source
said police were simply surrounding the neighbourhood to prevent
residents from moving their animals outside the neighbourhood to hide
them from officials seeking to enforce a cull.
"We serve the
people and they come and cut off our livelihood. The pigs don't have
any disease. The country is diseased. Take samples from the pigs and if
they have disease, we would cull them," Manshiet Nasr resident Marzouk
Badr Adli said after the clashes, complaining about the cull.
The regime-run news agency, Fars News reported that the Islamic
Republic of Iran has announced a one million dollar reward for
individuals who assassinate the president of Egypt. The news agency
"The ceremony for the designation of the
reward for the revlutionary (sic) execution of the filthy traitor, Husni
Mubarak has been organized through the justice-seeking movement of the
(militant Basij) students as well as the cooperation of various other
organizations. During this ceremony Forooz Rejaii, the secretary
general of the organization entitled Rewarding The Martyrs of the World
of Islam (and the suicide bombers brigade) spoke."
important to that the Rewarding The Martyrs of the World of Islam is an
organization designed and supervised by the Iranian revolutionary
guards. Hat Tip Banafsheh Zand Bonazzi
Somali pirates seized an Egyptian cargo ship and its 28 crewmembers on Thursday while a Malaysian military helicopter saved an Indian tanker from being hijacked in the new year's first attacks by pirates in the dangerous Gulf of Aden.
Fifteen armed pirates snatched the Egyptian vessel, called Blue Star,
after the ship exited the Red Sea and entered the gulf, carrying a
cargo of 6,000 tons of fertilizer, according to Egyptian Deputy Foreign
minister, Ahmed Rizq.
The pirates then steered the ship toward the coast of Somalia, Rizq said.
said contacts were under way with "international and regional parties"
to get the ship released — which likely meant there were attempts to
negotiate with the pirates.
other attack Thursday, a Malaysian military helicopter saved an Indian
tanker carrying a full load of oil when it was attacked by two skiffs,
one of which carried seven pirates dressed in military-style uniforms,
said Noel Choong of the International Maritime Bureau's piracy
That Movie: How The Innocence of Muslims Was Made When struggling actor Tim Dax was hired to star in a swords-and-sandals movie titled Desert Warrior, he was just happy to have the job. One year later, Dax and the rest of the film’s cast and crew would look on in horror as The Innocence of Muslims—a crudely dubbed version of the movie they thought they were making—ignited protests across the Arab world and controversy at home. Speaking with many of the film’s principals, Michael Joseph Gross reports on a story as old as Hollywood itself: a pursuit of fame and fortune that ended in tears.
Pravda to Americans: Never Give Up Your Guns "These days, there are few few things to admire about the socialist, bankrupt and culturally degenerating USA, but at least so far, one thing remains: the right to bare arms and use deadly force to defend one's self and possessions."