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Historic Islamic Art Museum “Completely Destroyed”


Egypt’s treasures destroyed

Egyptian Streets

Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities has announced that Cairo’s Islamic Art Museum has been “completely destroyed,” in a moment of anger and frustration.

The Minister’s statements came after a car bomb exploded outside the Museum and the Security Directorate, killing five and injuring more than 80. The explosion was one of three in Cairo today, with one killed at a Metro Station in Dokki.

While the extent of the damage is not yet clear, the Minister was earlier quoted as saying the damage is in the “tens of millions of dollars,” but vowed to restore the Museum and any antiquities that remain.

The Islamic Art Museum in Cairo houses one of the most extensive and important collections of Islamic art in the world. The Museum displays priceless Islamic art work from all periods of Islamic history, including one of the rarest copies of the Quran.

Until 2010, the Museum had been closed for…

View original post 30 more words

Libya’s Choices


110525 Libyan women torn between regime, rebel...

Image by Magharebia via Flickr

There has been serious uproar in Libya and in the Western world this week, as interim leader Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, chairman of the Transitional National Council, announced that Libya’s new Government would follow Sharia Law…a harsh form of religious law which is entirely inconsistent with democracy, and highly unfavorable to women.

It seems inconcievable to us that Muammar Quaddafi would be defeated by brave freedom fighters only for them to voluntarily submit to an archaic system of chopping off of hands and repressing women.

What exactly is Sharia Law? According to Wikipedia:   A code of conduct or religious law of Islam. Most Muslims believe sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharia

I think that most people who read this blog know that I am not anti-Islam. I have many Muslim friends and they are all honoring to women. Education is highly valued, the Muslim women I know are loved and treated respectfully by their husbands. These women are very intelligent and speak their minds!

In Sharia law as I understand it, women are officially inferior, they are even blamed when they are raped. Sharia imposes punishments that are barbaric and intolerable in “civilized” countries such as honor killings, and stoning to death.

These tenets of Sharia Law seem inconsistent with the claim that Islam is a Peaceful religion. There is much violence contained in Sharia Law towards people who practice it. It is very difficult for outsiders to understand. It is not consistent with the claim that Women are honored in Islam.

What are we missing?

You can read more about Sharia in the ariticle below:

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/peter-worthington/sharia-law_b_1030508.html

It seems to be a mistake in this Twenty-first Century, in a progressive area of the world like North Africa, to forbid Libya’s women from taking part in forming their country’s future.

This same interim leader said in an interview with the pan-Arab news channel Al Jazeera, he is requesting that NATO continue its air patrol until the end of the year because there remain some Quadaffi loyalists in country.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/27/world/middleeast/libya-leader-wants-nato-presence-through-2011.html

So, this inconsistency is interesting, but the country is not yet one week old. I say, give it time, though Tunisia, the bright hope of the Arab spring just had it’s vote and the Islamists won. It is anybody’s guess whether Sharia law will follow.

So, do we fear Sharia Law as the outcome of the Arab Spring? I don’t think so! I think that the perpetrators of Freedom had more than repression in mind when they began to rebel against 40 plus years of harsh dictators. But they will not become subservient to America either.

One idea would be to look to Indonesia, the largest Muslim Nation in the World, for an example of a workable democracy. The concept of Indonesian style democracy has been worked out after a dictator (Sukarno) was forced out of office. Indonesia used the principle of picking and choosing what was good from the world’s governments. As years have gone by the people have learned how to govern themselves effectively.

Is Islam Incompatable with Democracy?


The Coat of Arms of Indonesia is called Garuda...

Indonesia's Coat of Arms: Garuda Pancascila

This is a question many people in the West are asking.

Indonesia‘s example clearly shows otherwise, but, the story is not finished.

http://www.commongroundnews.org/article.php?id=29488&lan=en&sp=0

Interlude


Sunflower

Hoping for Sunshine

My husband and I are going out of town for some Sabbatical Care. I’m purposely not taking my computer along, which allows me to; put in check any Blogging addictions, help my mind to focus on real life, and, oh yes, spend time with my husband! :+)

I’ve been researching interesting websites, and “hot links” for years. Now, with my blog,  I’ve found a place to share them for the benefit of my readers.  This interlude would be a great time for you to check out some of them.

You’ll find them listed on the right hand side of the blog, categorized under my areas of interest from:  “Adoption” and “Middle East: Adopt a Terrorist: Pray for Him” to  “Non-Violence” and  “Writing”.  Please enjoy exploring!

A Dark Spot on Egypt’s Revolution


4/365

Image by anna gutermuth via Flickr

President Obama phoned CBS correspondent, Lara Logan, on Wednesday expressing his concern for her.

She is the journalist who was brutally raped by a crowd of thugs near Tahrir Square while reporting from the Egyptian Revolution on Friday, the day President Mubarak stepped down.

I imagine, female reporters like Lara, who lay their lives on the line for a news story in volatile places, must be prepared, as are women in the military, for the “unthinkable” to happen.

But this degree of brutality, including rape, is devastating. Lara was rescued by a group of women and Pro-democracy demonstrators.

Egyptian women had reported that the Pro-democracy demonstrators, a crowd of predominately Egyptian men, were unusually polite, perhaps, for a short time, mesmerized by the shared dream of democracy.

On the night of Lara Logan’s attack, the arrival of violent thugs into the demonstration was in stark contrast, and their behavior towards Western news media so threatening, most saw it as a desperate last effort by forces loyal to Mubarak.

Critics of the media have been quick to fault CBS for not immediately reporting the attack, though I’ve learned that this is policy when a female correspondent is attacked and especially raped.

Others seem to exalt in finding the dark underbelly of the Egyptian Revolution, feeling vindicated that the Muslim “hoards” are truly just what they suspected all along.  How quickly they dismiss Egypt, the intellectual center of learning and education before the West was civilized.

Then of course, Muslim reporters have criticized Lara for being uncovered, and wearing short sleeves; provocative dress, in a crowd of Muslim men.

Here is the original story and an update:

February 15, 2011  

CBS News’ Lara Logan Assaulted During Egypt Protests

CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Separated From Her Crew And Brutally Assaulted on Day Mubarak Stepped Down

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/02/15/60minutes/main20032070.shtml

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2011-02-15-logan-egypt_N.htm

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2011/02/did_anti-mubarak_protesters_as.html

Democracy for Christians in Egypt, Too?


It is natural to question what the future will hold for Christians in Egypt, given past tensions and real repression during the thirty year reign of President Hosni Mubarak .

The following interview is a discussion of religion in the “New” Egypt. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/episodes/february-11-2011/religion-in-a-changing-egypt/8132/

February 11th, 2011

Religion in a Changing Egypt

BOB ABERNETHY, host: There was jubilation in the streets of Egypt Friday (February 11) after President Hosni Mubarak finally decided to step down. He handed power to the military’s Supreme Council. The Council pledged to meet protestors’ demands for a peaceful transfer of authority that will lead to a free democracy. Meanwhile, debate continues over the role religion could play in a new government. Kim Lawton and I examine the week’s dramatic developments in Egypt with Geneive Abdo. She’s a longtime Middle East reporter and author of the book “No God but God: Egypt and the Triumph of Islam.”

http://www.amazon.com/No-God-but-Egypt-Triumph/dp/0195157931

She’s a fellow and analyst at the Century Foundation and National Security Network. Welcome to you.

GENEIVE ABDO: Thank you very much.

ABERNETHY: Geneive, one way or another there’s going to be a new government in Egypt. What can we say about the degree of religious influence that we can expect in that government?

post0b1-changingegyptABDO: Well that, of course, Bob, is the question everyone’s been asking, and I think that there’s no doubt, I mean as everyone has been reading about this big organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, that they will have a role in the government. I mean there’s no doubt about that.

KIM LAWTON, managing editor: And that’s different, right? I mean, they’ve been not having an influence, and so this would be a change?

ABDO: Yes, I mean, they’ve been a banned party, so this is a huge, huge change in Egyptian history, and they’ve been in Egypt since the 1920s, so this will be their first time to actually enter government.

ABERNETHY: There was a poll that came out this week taken by phone in Cairo and Alexandria asking questions about these things, and a very low percentage, 15 percent, said they approved of the Muslim Brotherhood. Has there been a change since years ago in that as a new generation has come up?

ABDO: Well, I think that the statistic that people that have used is 20 percent generally—that if there were free elections today, 20 percent of Egyptians would vote for Brotherhood candidates, but I think that could be sort of an underestimation.

ABERNETHY: But so what would that mean in a government if the Muslim Brotherhood or any strongly Islamist group had influence?

ABDO: Well, there are a lot of parties in Egypt. There are a lot of political parties, as we all know. Some of them are secular, some are nationalist. The Brotherhood is only one of them. However, the Brotherhood is very well organized, and they’ve been around for a long time. They’re a social, also, organization. They run hospitals. They do a lot of sort of social work in Egypt. So they are very, very influential.

post0b2-changingegyptABERNETHY: But in terms of policies, what would it mean—a policy, for instance, of Egypt toward Israel or toward the United States?

ABDO: The Brotherhood’s position today—and actually one of their leaders has been on television answering that question and he’s been reluctant to answer. He says we don’t know yet. Let’s not talk about foreign policy. But historically, the position of the movement has been against the peace agreement with Israel.

LAWTON: One of the issues I’ve been interested to watch is different representatives from the Muslim Brotherhood this week were sort of doing a Western PR campaign, and many of them said we want to have democracy but we don’t want it to look like American democracy per se, and they said they do want to see Islamic values somehow incorporated into a new government. But I think that’s what has people wondering, well, what does that mean in terms of everyday life in Egypt?

ABDO: Yes, and I think that this is something—I mean, if you can imagine, even for the Brotherhood I don’t know how they could answer this question, because they’ve never been in power. But I think that what they want—and they’ve been very clear they are for democracy, but as you say, not a Western–style democracy, and they want—whatever government the new government comes to be in Egypt they want it to reflect the values of the society.

ABERNEHTY: What does that mean, “the values of society”? Does that mean the same as strongly Islamic values?

ABDO: Well, I’ll just give you an example, okay? When the Brotherhood wrote a draft party platform three years ago, they said that they wanted a group of scholars to vet laws passed by the parliament to make sure that they conformed with Islamic values, so that’s one thing they have proposed.

post0b3-changingegyptABERNETHY: For instance, relating to women?

ABDO: Relating to women, relating maybe even to, you know, what students learn in school, relating to whether women wear headscarves. They have said they won’t make veiling mandatory. They have said this.

ABERNETHY: Would an Islamist government or a government with strong influence from the Muslim Brotherhood—would it be different as far as attitudes towards the United States are concerned?

ABDO: I do think so. I think that we have to be very careful not to be alarmist at this point, but I do think that not only the Brotherhood but many Egyptians actually believe that they should be sort of not so reliant on the aid that they receive from the United States, and they want to be more in charge of their own destiny.

LAWTON: There’s been a lot of different countries that have tried to incorporate Islamic values and democracy. What are the challenges? You know, some people say, is democracy compatible with Islam? Is this a new experimental point?

ABDO: I think it really is, and if we, even though this has been written about so much this week, I think if we take the two models we know of now, right, Iran and Turkey, I think that we are looking at a future Egypt that resembles Turkey much more than it resembles Iran. And Turkey, let’s face it, I mean Turkey’s been very successful. They have a vibrant economy, and they have so far been able to walk this tightrope, and I know that that’s something—

ABERNETHY: So we would not be looking at a theocracy.

ABDO: Definitely not. I don’t think—that is definitely not coming to Egypt.

ABERNETHY: What about the other religions in Egypt—the Copts, for instance, ten million of them? What’s the outlook for them in a new kind of government?

ABDO: The Copts, as we all know from reading the papers, have been the target of a lot of violence in Egypt, and I think that we know also that some of this violence has come from the state security services and the forces. So if there is a new state presumably there will more religious tolerance, I mean, we can only hope so. Just today, for example, there was a report that the current interior minister may have been involved in the attack on a church in Alexandria.

ABERNETHY: We have to leave it there. Geneive Abdo, many thanks.

ABDO: Thank you, nice to be here.

Continue reading

The EarthQuake across the Middle East


Celebration of Egypt’s success is spreading to Gaza, Tunisia, Jordan, Qatar. What will be the “Domino Effect” on generations of family dynasties in countries where aging leaders rule a young, educated population?

Two main questions prevail: Will the Egyptian military or Muslim Fundamentalists step in to enforce yet another type of dictatorship? There are many good reasons to think not.

Here is the scene in Gaza:

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11761.shtml
Palestinians in Gaza react to Egypt, Tunisia uprisings
Pam Bailey writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 29 January 2011

Palestinians in Gaza gather in solidarity with Tunisia, 16 January 2011. (Pam Bailey)

As news of the uprisings in a growing number of Arab countries spread like wildfire around the world, residents of other countries struggling under their own oppressive governments and soaring unemployment were celebrating on the streets, on Twitter and on Facebook. The occupied Gaza Strip was no exception.

“We, as Palestinians, salute the Tunisian people and any Arab nation rising against injustice,” said Saber Zanin, coordinator of the Local Initiative Committee for Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. However, perhaps the most excited were the youth of Gaza, who saw the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Jordan as evidence of the latent power of their generation.

“There was much excitement from what happened. I spent the whole day just following up with what was going on in Tunisia and I was actually very proud with what the people have done,” said Sameeha Elwan, a 23-year-old blogger, shortly after the uprising there. “It gave me some hope and I got back the faith I have in people.”

Jehan “JeJe” al-Farra, a 20-year-old English literature student, said immediately after the Tunisian uprising, “The message I got from the Tunisian movement is that the people are the cause of change. If there is any change you want you have to do it yourself. If you wait on the world, you will have to wait and wait and wait. The only way you can do anything is to revolt.”

The biggest challenge facing the Arab world today is youth unemployment. According to Foreign Policy magazine, North Africa and the Middle East now have the highest percentage of young people in the world. Sixty percent of the region’s’ people are under the age of 30, twice the rate of North America. And with the unemployment rate at 10 percent or more, the area also has the highest regional rates of joblessness; for young people, it’s four times that.

However, it’s even worse in Gaza. The Sharek Youth Forum (recently shut down by the Hamas government), reported that approximately 60 percent of youth between the ages of 15 and 30 were unable to find jobs in 2009 despite a high university matriculation rate.

In the West Bank, appointed Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad immediately saw the parallels between Gaza and Tunisia and spent more than two hours on 16 January talking to forty Palestinian journalists at his Ramallah office about the economic situation and living conditions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He attempted to reassure the journalists that economic conditions were good in spite of reports on the rise in consumer prices and relatively high unemployment and poverty figures.

The Gaza-based, Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government, as well as Islamic Jihad, organized demonstrations in downtown Gaza City celebrating the Tunisian uprising. In a statement to the Ahlul Bayt news agency, a Hamas spokesman said the movement “respects the will and choice of the Tunisians and assures it will stand by them.” Fathi Hammad, foreign minister in the Gaza-based government, added, “We are with the Tunisians in choosing their leaders, no matter what sacrifices it takes.” He didn’t seem to consider the possibility that the same power could be turned against his party which won the last Palestinian legislative election to be held, in January 2006.

However, Muayed Elmishal, a leader of the Sora youth group in Gaza, saw a similarity between the Tunisians’ frustration and that of young Palestinians: “The Tunisian people suffered dictatorship for long years, and promises of democracy and freedom were never delivered. The Palestinian people are experiencing the same thing: After the democratic elections in 2006, never repeated until this moment, we have two separate governments — one in the Gaza Strip and the other in the West Bank. This has caused deep frustration among the Palestinians and made them feel desperate to do something.”

The authors of the Gaza Youth Break Out manifesto — which published on Facebook an angry call for help that lashed out at Hamas, the United Nations, the United States and Israel — agreed. “There is an uprising coming to Gaza,” said one, who asked not to be named due to fear of retaliation.

Despite this frustration, nearly everyone in Gaza is in agreement that there is one big difference between Tunisia and Palestine: the fact that Palestinians are under occupation by Israel, which they view as responsible for the majority of their problems.

“The Tunisian people have problems with big corruption in their government; that’s their main problem,” said Ghassan al-Khaldi, a civil engineer, shortly after the Tunisian uprising. “We may not like our government, but the Palestinian people have one primary enemy — Israel, which takes our lands, our dreams, our sons.”

Egypt, however, is a different story. Its government cooperates with Israel in keeping the people of Gaza imprisoned within their cramped, occupied territory. Opinions about what they want and what will happen as a result of the ongoing uprising in Egypt vary within Gaza — ranging from euphoria, to skepticism that Mubarak would actually fall, to concern that the alternative to Hosni Mubarak will be an Islamist government like Hamas, which has become unpopular among many Palestinians in Gaza.

Wasim Zaher, member of a new youth group called Yala, said “I don’t think the uprising in Egypt will make Mubarak fall but I hope it will make him and the Egyptian government correct their policies for the Egyptian people and toward Palestine and Gaza.”

Whatever the assessment, there’s no doubt people in Gaza are watching closely as the people power moves closer to their border.

Pam Bailey is a peace activist and communications professional from Maryland who recently received a Community Human Rights Award from the UN Association of the National Capitol Area. She can be contacted at peacenut57 A T yahoo D O T com.