The Qur’an, Jews and office security

My place of employment, of the past month, is definitely much more entertaining and interesting than my previous job experience.

These days, seeing that my boss is on vacation, I’ve been burdened by quite a large volume of work. This usually translates into my having to stay extra hours (and sometimes weekends), to ensure that I don’t lag behind in my responsibilities. This has, obviously, meant increased interaction with the only other person who remains after regular working hours – the security guy.

There are in fact three security guards at my place of employemnt. They work in shifts; two alternating the morning and afternoon shifts and the remaining guard only working nights. Because of this increased interaction, I have managed to be-friend all three… at various levels of “friendship” (I’ve only known/seen them for a month). My favourite one is Assem. Guessing from his stories, I would say he’s in his mid-forties.

He’s my favourite because he used to be a reserve officer in the Egyptian Armed Forces. Not only that, he used to be an officer of the Air Defense Forces (El-defaa El-gawee). My years-old hobby of collecting books and information on weapons, of all sorts, automatically gave us both a common topic that we can both discuss.

Over the days (weeks now) that I’ve remained after working hours, our conversations expanded to discuss Egyptian Politics, the War in Lebanon, Corruption, Land Reclamation (His bachelor’s Degree was in Agriculture), Electronics & Circuits (His long-time money-on-the-table job, even before graduating from University) as well as your regular office gossip (ashamedly enough).

Just a half-hour before this post was written, I went to the office kitchen to make myself a cup of tea, and found him there sipping on his own tea. He offered me a ciggarette and I accepted and sat down for a smoke with my tea (we closed the kitchen door and turned on this huge fan-thing they have in there).

He started talking, and a few words into his sentence I realized that the topic of the day would be corruption. So we talked corruption. We discussed Ayman Nou, Hussam abo el Fotouh and the Judges issue. This didn’t last for 5 minutes before the topic moved to Weapons of Mass Destruction.

He said that Israel has Nuclear weapons, to which I replied with “Egypt has Chemical & Biological weapons… or so I hear”. He shook his head.


He said that was the reasons Abo Ghazala was removed from office. He realized that his President & Commander-in-Chief was a *expletive that I can’t translate at this point* and because he was a pure military man, he realized that Egypt would not be safe from the Israelis. Assem claimed that he had the Egyptian Military manufacturing Mustard Gas  in what seemed to be an aerosol producing factory at Alexandria.

So basically there was no “deterrent” against Israel’s possible use of Nuclear weapons against the Egyptian Armed Forces. He then moved on to conventional weapons by mentioning that the Merkava, Israel’s primary Main Battle Tank (MBT), was fitted to fire missiles. (This has not been verified). Allow me to digress here for a second to explain the significance of this statement. Tanks usually carry various types of shells; Armor Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot (not sure if I’ve forgotten anything there) [I like its generic name: The Long Rod Penetrator. Is it because I’m male? Probably.], High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT), High Explosive Anti-Personnel (HEAP) would be the main ones. The M-1A1, which Egypt has the largest amount of, outside of the United States, uses these as primary armament.

The M-1A1, according to a source that I’d read from before but cannot remember, has a maximum firing-range of four kilometers. Missiles can have, easily, three to four times that range. Thus the M-1’s advantage (and four kilometers is an advantage) is invalidated. Keep in mind that the largest amount of Israeli tanks that fell, both in 1973 and in the War in Lebanon, were because of either Rocket-Propelled Grenades (RPGs), mines or Anti-tank guided missiles (like the Sagger that Egypt used in 1973).

So basically, the security guy was saying that we wouldn’t be able to stand up against them… or so I thought. I forgot to mention that earlier in the conversation he’d specifically said that Arab rulers keep using the Israel/America cards to scare their people [into submission].

The next 10 minutes was about the 1973 & 1967 wars, prisoners-of-war and things of that nature. Nothing of relevance was mentioned.

I then asked him if he’s saying that we’re bound to lose if we enter any war and, more to the point, if the Arab rulers are then correct with their claims.

He replied by saying, “la, enta fehemtenee ghalat. Dana kont ba’ool 7aga tanya khales. El yahood doal 3omrohom ma momken ye7arbook waghan le wagh. Dayman lazem yestekhabo warra 7aga. Dee maktooba fel Qur’an *Rough Qur’an quote by him*. Ya3nee momken ne3tebr khat Bar-Lev keda…”

*Rough Translation goes as follows:” No, you misunderstood me. I was actually saying something totally different. (These) Jews would never fight you face to face. They always have to hide behind something. It is written in the Qur’an *Rough Qur’an quote by him*. So, we can think of the Bar-Lev line as falling under that category…”

Though we continued talking, all I was thinking was: Why did you have to bring Jews & The Qur’an into this?! Why did you have to quote the Qur’an at me?

Before any of this post’s readers come to any hasty conclusions, let me clarify that Assem doesn’t seem like a religious person. He smokes, swears (albeit very very very lightly) and I haven’t seen him pray in the time I’ve known him.

Still, he keeps saying Muslims, Jews, Qur’an quite a number of times. It’s not as if I’m an atheist. I just like to keep god out of it. I fancy myself an agnostic but, still, I suppose its the idea that one doesn’t have complete control over one’s life that doesn’t sit well with me. Either way, I get quite irritated when people say that because I generally feel like it’s an excuse for failure (though in this case, Assem wasn’t making excuses. He specifically said it was because they make good weapons and good fortifications and used the Vickers Gun – which made me chuckle until this website informed me that Israel did, in fact, have Vickers guns in 1973.)

Either way, I just wanted to say that people would be able to think of more open-ended possiblities and solutions (in addition to lessening my discomfort) if they were to stop saying: The Jews, The Qur’an & The Prophet. Just say: Those fucking Israelis.

Works out mighty fine that way.


Very Weird

I just added a Links page and an Archive Page.

For some weird reason, they both have a previous post’s title as their title. Or so it seems to me.

Interestingly enough, it says:

To be sure, this is interesting.

Doesn’t seem like a coincidence 😉

Update: Now they’re saying: Things that make you go WTF…  I guess its cycling through my titles. Don’t know if this is a wordpress problem or me not fiddling with the correct settings problem. Either way, my bubble is burst.

Strange that the two titles it chose to show me are ones that would actually fit the subject that they cover.

When political analysis goes bad…

So Hassan Nasrallah comes out on television and says that he did not expect the magnitude of Israel’s response and that if he knew that so much destruction would ensue, he would not have kidnapped the two soldiers.


Does that make the Israeli attacks, in terms of size and magnitude, and the destruction they caused in Lebanon acceptable now? Certainly not!

Apparently though, to Big Pharoah, this implies that Nasrallah and all those who supported the war do not think. It also means, again to Big Pharoah, that Nasrallah is trying to “whitewash his tarnished image in lebanon”.

What’s up with you people? So let’s say you thought that Hizbullah cast the first stone, and a mistake was made (Utterly ridiculous of course, but it goes to show…), now that the whole thing is over and Nasrallah becomes one of the first of this generation’s leaders who have chosen to enter an armed confrontation, that speaks out and says his estimates were incorrect.

This says two things to me: The main is a shrewd politician and he knows he has unbelievable popular support from the people whose support he needs.

In this Israeli-Hizbollah war, I have clearly and obviously sided with Hizbollah. Why? Well, let’s put it this way. Israel, as a state and government, doesn’t deserve to exist. Why? Well, the minutest of reasons would be their clear and obvious disdain towards the words Justice and Peace. They haven’t abided by international law ever since their declaration of their State and it seems they don’t plan to do so anytime soon.

I think anyone who doesn’t support Hizbollah on this, even if they are anti-islamist, and chooses to take sides while spouting things like “Hizbollah needs to go but Israel was too tough” can be placed in the same category as our beloved President. Why? Because they all come up with statements like: How can we expect Israel to abide by International Laws and Agreements if we do not do so ourselves?

I seeeeee.

So you’re saying that after almost fourty years of not abiding by International Laws and Agreements, Israel was ready to fully withdraw from the West Bank & Gaza. But, shame on them, Hizbollah’s move made this impossible, and now they will never do it, and it’s all Hizbollah’s fault.

Grow up, will you.

It doesn’t take someone with the analytical abilities of a ten-year old to figure out that statements like these are complete and utter nonsense. If a schoolmate has been picking on you for the past three years, and remains more powerful than you are, with stronger friends than the cowards that hang around you, and continues beating you up, every now and then, for years… chances are, the next time he see you, he’ll beat you up.

The fact that the school tells him this isn’t right, but do nothing about it, and he completely disregards what they’ve been “ordering” or instructing him to do for the those past 4 years… is a pretty solid indicator that he will continue to ignore those orders/instructions.

Like I said, it doesn’t take a ten-year old to figure that one out.

When you hit the son of a bitch, unexpectedly, or when you cause him enough pain (where it hurts) the next time he sees you and your friends… be sure that he will think twice about beating you up again. Also be sure that “again” won’t be anytime soon.

That is why I fully support Hizbollah.

It took Europeans two World Wars to figure out that the wars they’ve been engaging in for centuries were not really all that helpful. It seems that tens of millions had to die in a cumulative span of ten years for them to figure that one out.
And it’s not like people learn from others’ mistakes. Check your history books. Look at the United States now. Can anyone say ROMAN EMPIRE? Do the words BRITISH EMPIRE mean anything to you? They should. If not, go back to those textbooks. (As a former teacher, I can gladly point out some. Don’t worry! They’re written by westerners and are fully neo-con approved.)

Now, it is obvious that this region has to pass by a level of suffering and pain and death and all that that is sufficient in size and magnitude to have people change the way business has been carried out. Who knows what might occur? The Palestinian people may be wiped out. Or Syria. Or Egypt for that matter. Maybe Israel will shrink in size, or move to Uganda or Argentina like they orginially wanted to. Who knows?

The process has to take place though, there’s no doubt about it. That’s why I do not lament the actions of Hizbollah under Hassan Nasrallah’s leadership. If it had to happen, and the man obviously figured that out, he might as well be ready for it.

I read about people saying: Israel won! or Hizbollah won! or None of the two won and the Lebanese people lost! etc. Now, while not attempting to belittle the political/military/economic analysis and studies some of those people went through to reach a conclusion, I am sincerely advising them to let it go.

Only Israel and Hizbollah know who won. It is in my opinion that the winner here is the person who achieved their desired objectives. Hell, maybe they both won!

Now, let’s not be silly and suppose for one instance that their declaration of supposed desired objectives over the news media should be the measure of how well they did. I’m not saying don’t use that information… by all means do. I personally hope that the people in charge of countries these days, those who have to make such decisions, are not dull enough or stupid enough to make public their strategic (and/or tactical) objectives in such a war. I don’t see a reason why they have to make them public at all.

I would say that it’s quite obvious that they don’t. Judging how Israel wanted to first rescue the two soldiers (that failed). Annihalate or eradicate or eliminate some other -ate Hizbollah forces (failed again). Then they will reduce Hizbollah’s capacity (sorry!). Then came the buffer zone to the Litany (Oops!). The buffer zone shrunk (Not quite there still!). They then wanted to get to the Litany again but those evil men at the UN saved Hizbollah from the major offensive that was going involve 30,000 BAD ASS Israeli soldiers (Can’t quite judge there, can I. Damn the UN! Damn them!). This is, of course, according to their publicized statements made by Olmert or some other Military/Government official.

I started grinning the moment they came up with the “Litany River” objective.

Much like Big Pharoah grinned at our Arab ignorance (Neo-Cons click gleefully).

End of the day? Hizbollah is satisfied with what they did.

I’m satisfied with Nasrallah comments and statements. The war is over, they pledged to help the people with money from “Bad Ahmedinajad Dude” (BAD).

More Iranian influence in the region. Why not? United States in Iraq. Iran in Lebanon. Maybe they’ll keep playing Leap Frog (or over and under Relays) until they get to the continental United States.

Sorry Mr. & Mrs. NeoCon, your child’s school-mates don’t like to be beaten up in the playground. I’m afraid they’re fighting back.

I wonder who’ll get to keep Antarctica?


Dissent in Egypt

Hussam El-Hamalawy, a friend and a “The Arabist” Contributor, has this link to a video on “street activism“. I hadn’t seen it before and found it quite interesting.

What interested me most was the bit near the end. The group of young people that the Journalist/Reporter talked to were, as far as I could tell, AUC Undergraduates. I do not know except two of them personally.

Since I’m a judgemental SOB, let me just say that these people (as AUC students) do represent young people that the NDP would recruit. Those of the NDP target-market are people who see the benefits of being a part of the system, yet at the same time they want reform (or so they say). I had discussed something similar, on this blog, a number of days ago about two of my friends.

What do I think? I think the idea is despicable. Understandably, some of these people I refer to are not like my friends in the fact that some of them are members of the NDP already, and others are well-known for their NDP-sympathies.

The way I see it, they can be categorized into these groups of people (Keep in mind that most of their parents are rich businessmen or “industrialists” or what have you):

  1. Those that are are ignorant of all the political, economic and social atrocities committed by the NDP. They probably think its confined to not allowing people to protest and arresting dissenters and throwing them in jail. They probably think that removing those specific conditions, and not having the road blocked for a couple of hours when Mubarak passes by, will probably mean more democracy in Egypt. They have no knowledge that there are poor people in Egypt beyond the few beggers they see in Cairo. Charity, and not development, does wonders to alleviate any kind of guilty feelings they have (and many of them do, as I’ve seen and heard) towards the current social and economic class distinctions.
  2. Those that know that real power lies within joining the NDP. The current Patron-Client system (Shokran ya Menza!) is something they are willing to be a part of in excahnge for a carte blanche that allows them to go about their business successfully without any of the other NDP or NDP-affiliated businessmen enchroaching on their turf. They usually are willing to comprimise their moral beliefs, if they had any to being with, to this effect.
  3. People that cannot be placed in groups 1 or 2. Some think that the way the country is run right now is good. Some believe in reform from “within”. Others believe in other stuff that I, personally, am not privy to.

Those AUC-ians? The boys are mostly of the Group 2 Variety and the girls are mostly of the Group 1 variety. Of course, I say mostly and not completely. There are those that would attend any meeting that they believe to be more constructive because it is carried out in a nice, air-conditioned place where the attendees all speak English and look like they belong to the same social class.

That’s about it.

Please keep in mind that I was not trying to be mean, in the least. I am disgusted sometimes, frustrated at other times, but mainly… I just ignore them. Oh! One last thing, did you hear that remark about “future leaders”? More AUC-implanted class distinction bullshit which, by the way things are going, is highly likely to occur.

Bit of an Announcement…

Two new addresses to type into your address bar:

The Egyptian, a new Weblog which was supposed to start a couple of months ago is now entering the scene. It is an attempt at collaborative, group, or mutli-contributor blogging (or whatever you wish to call it).

Egypt Blog Review; Political Blog Aggregator with interviews and analysis from various Egyptian Bloggers as well as its own Blog.


This weird thought…

… keeps crossing my mind every now and then; setting up one of those Multi-Contributer Blogs which cater to a variety of topics and interests. In fact, I tried it once and attempted to contact people (who initially showed great enthusiasm) and ask them to contribute.

After the initial enthusiasm, things died out. Which was expected. Shamefully, only one post was published (and it wasn’t even mine!). When I think about it though, I think of the difficulties involved in setting something like this up. Or the lack of, at the same time.

A group of people who know each other well, are interested in blogging and generally agree on a good number of issues are more likely to set up something successful in that regard. Meanwhile, I suppose most of the others would start as individual or two-person endeavours and then expanding to include other bloggers (who would probably be known to the first individual or two through cyber-reputation, I guess).

Would people have to agree to set up something along the afore-mentioned lines and still ahve it be successful? I’m not sure about the answer to this one. Then there’s the language barrier. I, for example, can’t type worth sh*t in Arabic. Not to mention the fact that my written Arabic undergoes revival once every 5 years or so and I’m not at the beginning of that cycle. I can thus read Arabic language blogs, but I don’t know if Arabic language bloggers would a) read mine b) be interested in joining up with English language bloggers for something along those lines and c) be interested in working together for a two-language blog thingy.


Most of the bloggers I know personally a) (Obviously) have their own blog and b) are too busy for me to even think about asking them. Then there’s the issue of topics. Would it be Miscellaneous? Political? Socio-Economic? How about sports? Would be news-like? Or more informal? Will it have a message or is everyone free to express their opinions? No rights and wrongs, of course, but so many variables which people should agree on, if this endeavour is to be successful.

I guess I’m just going to lie dormant for the time being.

Frankly? I’m not convinced.

So today in the morning, and while I was ironing a shirt, I heard something quite interesting on television. It was actually my grandmother (I’m staying with my grandparents these days – long story), who wakes up quite early, watching an Egyptian soap.

Since she’s a bit hard-of-hearing, old age and such, the volume was set pretty high on the television (I was in a different room, definitely over 10 meters away). The soap she was watching was set in the 1950s (I heard Gamal Abdel Nasser’s famous 1956 Suez Canal Nationalization speech just before it ended), but it didn’t seem like that to me. In fact, in the beginning I thought it was one of those programs where someone would explain different parts of supposed Islamic Sharia and all that. You know, one of those “religious shows”.

The man was being asked questions in English and was responding in Arabic which was then translated. In fact that very first sentence I heard was “… el rad bel kamel ba3dain targemo enta” (I will give my complete response, and then you can translate it). I suppose he was speaking to a translator-actor-person.





The two questions that I heard were about women in Islam. The first was concerning inheritance and the second marriage. It was an obvious attempt to respond to various criticisms regarding Islam (though why they’d show it to an Egyptian/Arab audience is totally beyond me. Hope they didn’t believe foreigners would watch this stuff and have to listen to the atrociously-accented, highly inaccurate translation and grammer).

The actor here was none other than Hassan Youssef, famous for all his movies throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s with such stars as Soad Hosny and Magda. Having undergone a radical islamcization during the last few years of the twentieth century and the beginning of the 21st, he is back. In a role which I would think he’d think suits him more.

The first question was along the lines of: Why are Muslim women not allowed to marry non-Muslims? (It wasn’t “Why are Muslim women not allowed to marry non-Muslims whilst Muslim men can marry Christians and Jews?” Perhaps this was their attempt at not drawing attention to that fact?)

His response: As Muslims, we believe in Christians and Jews. We believe that their prophets were true messengers of God as Mohammed was. We believe in their holy books. This is why a Muslim man is allowed to marry Non-Muslim women. She should have no fear of him

I would have thought that since she’s marrying this guy, she shouldn’t have fear of him period. But, of course, this is the way I view marriages should go. This, obviously, does not apply when arranged marriages occur where you should be especially afraid, as a woman, if the guy is from your same religion and denomination.

He continued by saying that if Christians and Jews believed in our prophet, teachings and Holy Book like we believe in theirs, there would be no problem in Muslim women marrying their men.

He was then asked a second question: Why do Muslim men get double Muslim women when inheriting? So the actor smiles in that way which says: “Old, wise man that I am, I expected this question O innocent and naive child. Now you shall be blessed with my ancient, wise yet succinct answer because I am an old wise man”.

His response: Islam has made the man responsible for spending and taking care of his house, wife and children. Thus with the increase in financial burden, this is an equitable distribution seeing the amount that each are more likely to spend. The woman, on the other hand, is “spent on” by her father in the beginning, then her husband. Still, Islam provided adequately for the woman who, due to circumstances, is not married and lost her parents.

I’d finished ironing my shirt by then, and had to go get dressed to leave for work. I do have these thoughts on the matter.

In the beginning, when he made the Muslim/Christian/Jew marriage response I’d thought: That makes sense. It’s when he responded to the second question that I thought… actually, neither of his responses make sense.

In both responses, there is an obvious bias towards men. I’ve heard a lot of the arguments about why Muslim women cannot marry non-Muslims. The one I’ve heard most often is thus: Since a child’s religion, as with the name, follows his father’s… if the father is Christian than the children will be Christian. If the father is Jewish, then the children will be Jewish. *End of Arguement*

Strangely enough, when I was younger I would always nod my head and dismiss the whole conversation (not because I thought it unimportant, or that I disagreed with what was said. Just because it wasn’t relative to my circumstances generally. I am a Muslim Male. Officially that is). Now that I think about it, I realize I should have said: Er, so what? So what if a Muslim woman marries a Christian man or a Jewish man or even an atheist.

I’ve always believed that religion is the relationship between you and your god (whichever god) and should be treated accordingly. If these couples (that might get into these sorta marriages where the two come from different religions) raise their children properly, it really wouldn’t matter what religious label they choose to use. Of course, I’m not discussing the social ramifications, merely the children.

Keep in mind that to Christians and Jews, Muslims are friggin heretics. Why on earth would Jews or Christians want to marry heretics?! The way I see it, most people who get into these mixed-religion marriages are not religious to begin with. From what I’ve seen, that solves like 75% of their problem. The remaining 25% is, of course, society.

Now, how about that extremely obvious patriarchal rule/law/whatever you want to call it? What about women who choose not to get married, emancipate themselves from their parents and support themselves throughout the rest of their lives? Better yet, what if they get married early, husband dies, they work and they only get half of what their brother gets because he’s male?

Actually, what about the fact that they’re human beings too? Such a law, when set in stone like that, goes against the general concept that Islamic Sharia and edicts are eternal.

The way I see it? All religions are good without all the specific laws and regulations.

P.S. After many failed attempts to insert pictures of Hassan Youssef, I chose not to because either wordpress isn’t being cooperative or I wasn’t very smart about it. I’m guessing it’s the latter.