I am a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew and a Buddhist too. If you don't like it, then this place is not for you, but as long as you don't force your beliefs on anyone, you're welcome to join in, it doesn't matter if you're a liberal, a republican or just simply you.
I guess better late than never and I'm glad to hear that Prince Alwaleed's objections against Park51 are based purely on logic, common sense and human decency.
WTG Highness! ^5 :)
I for one lost a long time American friend (over this very issue), because he kept on insisting that I denounce Islam/Muslims entirely as ""pure evil" for seeking to inflict even more pain on the American psyche by wanting to build this so-called "Gound Zero Mosque".
In his first public comments on the issue, he said: “I heard and saw a lot of news about me being associated with it and this is all wrong. We did not finance this thing.
“I say that I am against putting the mosque in that particular place. And I’ll tell you why. For two reasons: first of all, those people behind the mosque have to respect, have to appreciate and have to defer to the people of New York, and not try to agitate the wound by saying 'we need to put the mosque next to the 9/11 site'.
"The wound is still there. Just because the wound is healing you can’t say 'let’s just go back to where we were pre-9/11'," he said. “I am against putting the mosque there out of respect for those people who have been wounded over there.”
Prince Alwaleed added: “More importantly, the mosque is not in the best location, the mosque has to be in a dignified location. It can’t be next to a bar or a strip club, or in a neighbourhood that is not really refined and good. The impression I have is that this mosque is just being inserted and squeezed over there. So I am personally against putting the mosque over there…"
"I believe that Christians have the right to build churches where they want and Jews have the right to put synagogues where they want and Muslims have the right to put a mosque where they want. But you have to take care and respect the dignity of those New Yorkers who have been hit badly. Ten years ago is nothing when you talk about history.”
It seems pretty clear that the internet is paving the way to social change and the development of democratic institutions in the Middle East. I am posting the entire opinion piece here, written by Sherif Mansour of Freedom House, because the L.A. Times sometimes requires registration to read its articles.
Right now, the government of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is considering blocking Facebook, the social networking website that has become a popular hangout for twentysomethings worldwide and a favorite venue for Egypt's disaffected youth. The reason: In April, one group of young citizens mobilized 80,000 supporters to protest rising food prices. Facebook networking played a crucial role in broadening support and turnout for an April 6 textile workers' strike and protest.
The Egyptian government, which has governed for 25 years under emergency law and doesn't allow more than five people to gather unregistered, hit back hard, jailing young dissidents and torturing Ahmed Maher, a young activist who tried, unsuccessfully, to organize a second demonstration in early May.
Despite these setbacks, the "Facebook movement" in Egypt is significant for several reasons. First, it challenges the perception that there is no prospect for independent, secular opposition in the country. The majority of Egyptians are under 30 and have known no other ruler than Mubarak. They have not seen real political parties because the government has long restricted opposition parties and free media. The Facebook movement engaged large numbers of youth for the first time.
Second, the Web offers a safe political space -- a role the mosque has traditionally played in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood has for decades been the only viable opposition. With Facebook, young secular people can communicate, build relationships and express their opinions freely. (Significantly, the Muslim Brotherhood opposed the successful April demonstration but supported the unsuccessful May event.) Every member in the 100,000-strong online community could be, at any given moment, a leader of a movement.
Third, engaging Egypt's youth is an important item on the agenda of Mubarak's son, Gamal, as he works to gain support for his succession to power. As a young politician, Gamal established the Future Generation Foundation in 2000, which incubated many of the current leaders of the ruling National Democratic Party and the new Cabinet. Facebook activists and their supporters should be able to turn to this group for support. A few weeks ago, Belal Diab, a 20-year-old college student, interrupted one of the Egyptian prime minister's speeches to protest the arrests of Facebook activists, shouting: "Look who are you fighting; it is us, the younger generation who stood with you and supported you!"
Nevertheless, Facebook activists are being targeted by government-based media campaigns defaming the website and the youth activists who use it. The government also warns media not to talk about the phenomenon. I saw the heavy-handed efforts of the government while recording a TV show with Maher. During the taping, Egyptian police broke into the studio, threatened the station manager and forced the guest outside the room.
What can be done to help this movement? The international community and the U.S. government should pressure the Egyptian government to support Internet freedom and keep Facebook accessible to Egyptians. One young activist, Ahmad Samih, is campaigning to gain local and international support to prevent the Egyptian government from blocking Facebook. So far, nearly 20 Egyptian human rights organizations are supporting this cause. International human rights organizations should publicly join in that show of support.
Egyptian democrats are "Facebooking" their advocacy in order to escape heavy recriminations. It would be shameful for the international community not to stand up on their behalf against a government that seeks to deny them even that small space to express themselves. Otherwise, Mubarak's self-fulfilling prophesy as the only alternative to the Muslim Brotherhood will continue to hold Egypt back from the democracy its people deserve.
Sherif Mansour works at Freedom House, a human rights organization that has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties in Egypt since 1972. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's always great to see minorities elevate their status -- in this case a Jewish woman from the Persian Gulf. From the JTA via the Jerusalem Post:
Bahrain will name a Jewish ambassador to the United States, a report said.
Huda Azar Nunu, a Jewish woman who is a lawmaker in Bahrain's upper house, will be named to the Washington position, according to a report this week in A Sharq al-Awsat, a Saudi-owned pan-Arab daily published in London.
"The sources denied that the appointment of Nunu as a woman and a Jew is a public relations campaign by Bahrain in the West, emphasizing that Huda Nunu has proven her qualifications, whether through her membership in the Consultative Council or through her work in human rights associations, of which she is an active participant in Bahrain," the newspaper said.
Bahrain, a Persian Gulf state sandwiched between Iran and Saudi Arabia, has a tiny Jewish population dating back to Talmudic times. Nunu is descended from Iraqi Jews who migrated to the port of Manama in the late 19th century. Jews in Bahrain have kept a low profile but generally have been treated well.
Shunned by most Muslim countries where pork consumption is a religious taboo, pig farming is blooming in Morocco thanks to a growing tourist industry and pragmatic breeders like 39-year-old Said Samouk.
"If there's tourism, it would be better to have pigs," said Samouk, who raises 250 pigs at his farm 28 kilometres (17 miles) from the seaside town of Agadir.
After being battered by a wave of bird flu, the Moroccan farmer launched a pig operation 20 years ago in partnership with an elderly French man.
Today, Samouk spins dreams of doubling his production within three years to help meet the demands of some 10 million tourists expected to visit Morocco in 2010 - up from 7.5 million who flocked to the north African country in 2007.
"I'm a practising Muslim. I don't eat pork and I don't drink alcohol but it's just a breeding operation like any other and no Imam has ever reprimanded me for it," he said of raising pigs - whose consumption is prohibited in both Islam and Judaism.
Outlawed in Algeria, Mauritania and Libya, pig farming is nonetheless authorised in Tunisia as in Morocco, to cater to the flocks of European and other non-Muslim tourists who head to north Africa's spectacular beaches and deserts.
"Our clientele is 98 percent European. They want bacon for breakfast, ham for lunch and pork chops for dinner," said Ahmad Bartoul, a buyer for a large Agadir hotel. Signs are posted on buffet tables to avoid any confusion about the meat's origin.
Morocco's swine industry comprises some 5,000 pigs raised on seven farms located near Agadir, Casablanca and the north-central city of Taza. The breeders include a Christian, two Jews and four Muslims.
In contrast, take a look at the latest news from Algeria......who would have thought...
Well, she was the first Arab fashion designer to participate in Milan Fashion Week last month and I haven't heard a word about it till now. I don't know about you, but I kinda do like to know about these things.
ABU DHABI, 17 March 2008 — Lebanese designer Milia Maroun, aka Milia M in the fashion world, who recently returned from her successful showing in Milan, opened Abu Dhabi Fashion Week with her Fall/Winter 08/09 collection last night.
Milia M made history in the fashion world last month by being the first Arab fashion designer to participate in Milan Fashion Week.
AL-AHSA, 19 September 2007 — She wasn’t a hooligan, but she might as well have been for all the match-interrupting trouble she caused by daring to attend a free sporting event. According to yesterday’s Al-Watan newspaper, a free football match at a public stadium here was stopped in the 36th minute in order for stadium officials to order a 12-year-old girl out, because apparently the presence of a girl at a sporting event is offensive to people who don’t have better things about which to complain and get self-righteous. Before the game started, one particularly offended referee refused to start the game with the indecency of a female child attending the match. Another more rational referee dismissed his colleague’s concern and managed to get the game started. Later, however, stadium management decided to stop the game and asked the girl’s relatives to escort her out. The sporting event had been billed as a free community event, but apparently “free” and “community” only refers to half of the population — the ones who were born male.
In a prison cell south of Cairo a repentant Egyptian terrorist leader is putting the finishing touches to a remarkable recantation that undermines the Muslim theological basis for violent jihad and is set to generate furious controversy among former comrades still fighting with al-Qaida.
Sayid Imam al-Sharif, 57, was the founder and first emir (commander) of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad organisation, whose supporters assassinated President Anwar Sadat in 1981 and later teamed up with Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan in the war against the Soviet occupation