My views, observations, questions about everything in this world ....and that country they call Egypt.

19 April 2008

It's Simple We Don't Wanna Kill

One arguments that opponents of the publishing of the Danish Cartoons, and all other such media, use in Egypt is the laws against Holocaust denial/revisionism that are in effect throughout Europe. The argument goes something like this: Westerners shout free speech when we object to and oppose the publication of Danish Cartoons and Fitna, but when it comes to the Holocaust, they jail anyone who dares to even revise the number of victims. They use that to argue a worldwide global pro-Jews, anti-Islam agenda.

It has always been bothering, this alleged double-standard: You are free to speak if you're challenging Muslim beliefs but you're not free to speak if you're challenging the Holocaust. It has been bothering me for a while but never got the chance to delve into it until recently. Through a discussion with a Canadian/Jewish blogger I got the chance to dig up some info and I made sense out of it.

Here is the deal: It is not illegal to challenge Holocaust data as long as you're doing it from a historical/scientific point of view. It becomes a crime if your arguments are associated with defending these acts or advocating violence. This makes perfect sense. It is not free speech anymore if you're trying to persuade people to kill.

This is from the ISRAELI legislation:

A person who, in writing or by word of mouth, publishes any statement denying or diminishing the proportions of acts committed in the period of the Nazi regime, which are crimes against the Jewish people or crimes against humanity, with intent to defend the perpetrators of those acts or to express sympathy or identification with them, shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of five years.


The publication of a correct and fair report of a publication prohibited by this Law shall not be regarded as an offence thereunder so long as it is not made with intent to express sympathy or identification with the perpetrators of crimes against the Jewish people or against humanity.

Very fair indeed!

15 April 2008

Used To The Noose They Obey

Let's get back to the movie Fitna. I just want to document my disappointment in the Muslims' response. I surfed some blogs and sites to get a feel for the Muslim response... The reaction I found was almost unanimously rage. My disappointment is mainly because of two things:

1- I have not seen a single Muslim yet that disagrees with the movie's message but at the same time recognize Geert Wilders' freedom of speech... i.e. his right to make this movie.

2- I have not seen a verse by verse, frame by frame response to the movie from anyone. A lot accuse it of taking the Quranic verses out of context but they do not get into specifics. Show me how each verse quotes is misinterpreted and what its correct message is! Show me frame by frame, the fallacies in Geert Wilders' arguments. Tell me that Bin Laden & Co. are not Muslims cause they're not getting the Quran right!!

Here are some of the responses I've read/seen:

Schism: This is a short movie made by a Saudi blogger doing with the Bible what Fitna does with the Quran. His argument is one of two: a) the Bible has questionable verses too. b) you can take verses from any book out of context and make it look violent. Throughout his video, it just seemed to me that he was running out of material to showing that the Bible entices violence. Now the Bible has many problems but enticing violence is not among its main ones like it seems to be for the Quran. This blogger chose to attack another 'holy' book instead of refuting the arguments presented in Fitna... why??

Almouftinoun: This is a movie by the Arab European League responding to Fitna. In my opinion, the only thing going on for this movie is the music. This movie mainly shoots down the credibility of Geert Wilders, the film maker. However, it attempts to make dangerous, yet fallacious, argument that being anti-Islam is racist just as Nazism is racist... being anti-Jewish!! However, if what the rest of this movie says about Wilders is true, then he is in fact a racist. The film then moves on to show that Wilder has some ties with Israel and the Mossad. It then makes a bold statement: Zionism is the most aggressive form of racism today. The rest of the movie argues that Muslims are oppressed around the world, but ends taking a shot at the Talmud. Again, what has this movie done to rebuff the accusations made in Fitna on the Quran??? None.

Cairo Today: This is an Egyptian TV show that usually features different guests discussing religious topics and other. The host and the rest of the panel displayed a great deal of rage... unfortunately, nothing else. Some of the guests did mention that the verses were taken out of context and that the translation was coarse but they did not get into specifics. They basically just sat around and condemned the film and called for an action to be taken against the Netherlands. More of the same here again. The official response of just states that the messages in Fitna are ignorant and false. Why??? Tell me why the movie is wrong... give me specifics, give me arguments, condemn all violence in the name of Islam. It only quotes a verse from Quran showing that it's all about peace & love or something to that effect. I'm afraid that's not enough. I did search the site for a point-by-point response but found none!!

06 April 2008

Even A Blind Squirrel Finds A Nut

The following has been bothering me for a while now, among other things. The concept/word of entertainment. When I think of that word I feel its emptiness and disgust at myself at the same time. To me, entertainment includes things like TV, movies, casual readings (magazines & novels for ex.), meaningless outings, solitaire... etc. Entertainment is that which carries no (or very little) beneficial value to the individual but consumes time. I don't think I have to define it further, you know what it means and you know when you're engaging in it.

It sickens me how much time I, and everybody else, spend being entertained! I am fine if you're sitting at a doctor's clinic for example waiting to be admitted and you entertain yourself. It's ok to pick up that magazine. But to actively seek entertainment and make it a goal is depressing. I mean what the hell??? Have we run out of things to learn, problems to solve, or people to help that we just decide to give our time up. To talk about new movies, to gossip about celebrities, to talk about new cars, to play backgammon for hours in a cafe smoking shisha... it's all the same. What are we waiting for? Are we waiting to die and just entertaining yourself till that happens? We're never gonna be this young again. I have a feeling when we grow older we're not gonna look back and cherish the time we've spent watching mindless sitcoms that we've seen many times before!

I wanna cry for all the time that I've spent on such things. What if I had used this time to learn a new language? or get a degree? or educating myself about an interesting topic? or start a project? Forget all that. How about if we had just spent this time contemplating what we wanna do our your lives? What we wanna accomplish before it's all over? Oh well... All I can do from now on is be aware of the high price of entertainment and try to keep it to a minimum. Even if this is just a pointless reflection on my part, at least I'll be self-aware next time I give my life away.

I'm gonna leave you with this excerpt on the thoughts of Martin Heidegger from a book I was reading:

But the danger we face is a sort of everydayness; the danger that the thousand and one cares and little things that we have to deal with in our daily living will take us over. We are in danger of being reduced to the status of utensil. A tool, a utensil, has meaning only if people use it for their own ends. Everydayness is the tapestry of events that tends to reduce us to utensil status, impoverishing or openness to Being, locking us into limited horizons, reducing possibilities, being absorbed into the status of a being, losing the meaning of our own being.