Sunday, December 18, 2011


Every now and then something reminds me to be thankful that I am Muslim.

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Loonwatch hits!

Two fantastic videos I found through the always-incisive Loonwatch:

Islamophobia and Antisemitism - Same message, different minority:

Ron Paul campaign video: Imagine.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A familiar tune

I'm almost done reading William Darymple's The Last Mughal , a history of the city of Delhi in 1857, during the tragically self-defeating mutiny against the British East India Company by its native soldiers. Having not read much at all about the place or the period, I can't say much about the accuracy of Darymple's account, but damn, the man can write. If this book were a Hollywood movie, it could easily be a blockbuster.

(To those to whom I have promised to read other books, I'm sorry, but this recommendation came from a source I couldn't refuse).

Central to Darymple's narrative is the tragic figure of Bahadur Shah Zafar II, the title character, who by the end of the book is locked up in the dungeon of his own palace, and put on trial by the British for masterminding a rebellion that he never wanted. His prosecutors alleged that Zafar, a syncretic Sufi Muslim emperor who participated - and believed in - Hindu rituals and festivals, was a participant in a vast conspiracy stretching from Turkey through Persia and into India to unseat the enlightened British Empire. To quote the chief prosecutor:

"The known restless spirit of Mahommedan fanaticism has been the first aggressor, the vindictive intolerance of that peculiar faith has been struggling for mastery, seditious conspiracy has been its means, the prisoner [Zafar] its active accomplice, and every possible crime its frightful result . . . The bitter zeal of Mahommedanism meets us everywhere . . . perfectly demonic in its actions. . . "
As Darymple points out, however, 65-85% of the rebel army that joined the soldiers who first rushed into Zafar's pristine audience hall with their horses and muddy boots were, in fact, Hindus.

To English people who didn't know any better, however, the idea of a global Muslim conspiracy directed against them seemed appealing.

The words change, but not the tune.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Amira Hass on Negotiations

The only Israel journalist who actually lives in the territory that it is her job to report on:

Palestinians must say no to negotiations with Israel

The Palestinians' application for membership in the United Nations was welcomed, even by critics of the Palestinian Authority, because it was understood as the close, albeit belated, of an overly long chapter. This was the chapter in which the Palestinian leadership, in exchange for dubious guarantees and slivers of privilege for a small group, took part in a charade of negotiations, while in reality, the area intended for the realization of the Palestinians' right to self-determination kept being reduced and fragmented. This chapter exposed the fact that the parties in Israel's various coalition governments disagree on only one thing: the number and size of the Palestinian Bantustans in Israel's master plan.

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Americanization of Canadia Media

Our national media in Canada have always had its share of fiscal conservatives and dogmatic free marketeers, and CBC is, contrary to what its detractors say, is no exception. What we didn't always have in our national media, however, was the loud, confrontational, sound-byte-driven drivel that passes for news in the United States. That seems to be slowly changing. For example:

"Listen, don't take this the wrong way, but you sound like a left-wing nutbar."

The statement itself betrays a mind that was not in gear before its owner engaged his mouth. There is only one way to take a statement like "you sound like a left-wing nutbar." Kevin O'Leary must have thought he was delightfully clever when he put that one together, and must have been rather dismayed when Chris Hedges both gave him the verbal thrashing he richly deserved, and, having made his arguments clear, made it clear what he thought of the "Lang and O'Leary" exchange.

Recently, CBC distanced itself from remarks made by Don Cherry, the star of its Hockey Night in Canada sideshow "Coach's Corner." Of course, anybody in Canada who doesn't live under a rock has some idea of who Don Cherry is, and the remarks he made about fighting in Hockey shouldn't surprise anyone. Everyone knows that Don Cherry is there specifically to entertain, not to inform.

CBC's News programming, on the other hand, should be there to inform. Yet O'Leary's attitude towards his guest as well as the garbled attempts he made at responding say far more about the CBC than anything Cherry said.

Will CBC distance itself from O'Leary as well? Don't hold your breath.

Perhaps, given the attitude of the Harper government towards public institutions in general, their silence has some wisdom in it.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

6 words Israel should say if it is serious about peace







The fact that Netanyahu refuses to say it betrays his intentions.

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Pamela Geller in her own words

Sometimes you don't need a shorter, folks.

"The Obama legacy will not only be the degenerate spending which led to the economic downfall of this country, but he will also go down in history as the first anti-freedom leader whose foreign policy led to a universal caliphate across the world."

It's not just a phobia. It's a complex of fixed, false beliefs that cannot be exorcised or even called into question by facts or reasoned argument. It's a delusion.

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

Farewell Jack

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'oun

". . . Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one - a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world's environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. . . "

- From Jack Layton's Open Letter to Canadians, written two days ago.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011


Most Norwegian kids have never lived in a war zone, and so have never been stalked through the woods by a ruthless killer, intent on their extermination.

The immigration and diversity that Anders Breivik and his ilk hate so much helped to save Norwegian lives.

From the Moscow Times:

Chechen War Prepared Teens for Norway Terror

Two Chechen teenagers who survived last month's massacre on Norway's Utoya Island said they pelted right-wing extremist Anders Breivik with stones and saved lives.

Movsar Dzhamayev, 17, and Rustam Daudov, 16, told the Norwegian Dagbladet daily that they were reminded of the war in their native Chechnya after seeing Breivik killing three people in front of their eyes on July 22.

"I have seen people being shot before in my country when I was small and had flashbacks," Dzhamayev said in the interview published late last week.

But after speaking to his father by cell phone, he pulled himself together. "My dad said, 'Attack the perpetrator and do it properly,'" he said.

With a third unidentified friend, the teens armed themselves with stones and returned to the scene only to witness Breivik killing another young camper on the island outside Oslo.

"We stood three meters from him and wanted to beat him, but then he shot one of our friends in the head. So we just threw the stones and ran for our lives," Daudov said.

While he was unsure whether he hit Breivik, Dzhamyev said he was certain he had.

"First he howled and then turned to me and shouted, "[expletive] [racial slur]," he said.

The teens said they decided that it was too difficult to stop the gunman and better to save lives. They discovered a cave-like opening in a rock where they managed to hide 23 children from Breivik, who ended up killing 69 people at the camp and eight more people in a bombing in central Oslo.

Dzhamayev, who kept guard outside, also dragged three youngsters from the lake who were close to drowning.

The two Chechens, who both live in Norway, said they first met each other at the summer camp and immediately became close friends.

Norway has a sizable population of Chechens, most of whom came as refugees from the wars that have ravaged the North Caucasus republic over the past 15 years.

Dzhamayev and Daudov are not the only Chechens reported to have survived the camp. A third, Anzor Dzhukayev, 17, was briefly arrested after the massacre on suspicion that he was an accomplice, Norwegian media reported last week.

A police spokesman said he was suspected of throwing away his gun and blending in because he showed no emotions, the Verdens Gang newspaper reported Friday.

Dzhukayev, who was released the following day, explained his coolness with his childhood experiences. "When I was little, I lived in a house full of bodies. I remember seeing dogs eating them," he was quoted in media reports as saying.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Attacks of some kind

I don't agree with Akiva Eldar's perspective on Israeli-Palestinian peace, but he is right about one thing: Netanyahu will use the attacks to justify even harsher treatment of the Palestinians, and the blood of those victims will then be used to pull the Palestinians back towards a maximalist position, since every other strategy seems to end in failure.

"The attacks in the south should remind us that in the Israeli-Palestinian military arena there is no knockout victory. Whoever didn't want the Palestina Liberation Organization got Hamas. Whoever didn't want Hamas is getting Al-Qaida."

The myth of Israel's Goliath image has been slain
From Ha'aretz

Akiva Eldar

The planning, time, place and methodology of the attacks in the south indicate that the intention was not just to kill Israelis, avenge Palestinian deaths, or speed up the end of occupation. Whoever sent the terrorists is no friend of President Mahmoud Abbas and his people, who are scurrying around trying to lobby support for a UN General Assembly vote for a Palestinian state next month.. . .

Read the rest.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

A website I wish I had made. . .

. . . and, in fact, did.

A couple of years ago, when I had a lot of time on my hands, and the quantity of subject material was more manageable, I created a blog called The Mozlems Are Coming! I had intended to devote it to ridiculing the xenophobic conspiracy theory, forwarded by Spencer, Geller, Wilders and co., that there is a vast and ancient Muslim plot to conquer and subjugate non-Muslims everywhere.

Then, a combination of being busy, being lazy, the mushrooming of the Fear-O-Sphere genre, and the limited hit-count of this blog itself led me to put the project on hold indefinitely. It's something I regret. Since then, what used to go on in the darker corners of the internet has gradually moved into the mainstream, from the anti-Mosque protests in New York to the appearance of the many books penned by anti-Muslim wingnuts in hands of strangers I see on busses and trains. Before he spectacularly and gruesomely disproved every argument ever made about Scandinavians and racial profiling, Anders Breivik added his own 1500-page magnum opus to this growing body of hate literature.

For Spencer, Geller, et al to claim they weren't responsible is a bit like saying that Wagner wasn't responsible anti-Semitic violence. It's true, but he did inspire some people who were.

It is, therefore, regrettable that there aren't more people engaged in countering this burgeoning industry, whose intellectual products have already made a bloody imprint upon the world. Fortunately, a few brilliant people have stepped into the gap:

The site provides profiles regular updates on all the activities going in the Fear-O-Sphere, well-informed refutations of its (ahem) "scholarly" works, and unlike most political blogs (including and especially the anti-Islam ones), some healthy debate and disagreement in the comments, with regular contributions from a haters themselves.

I highly recommed the exposé on "Muslim Reformer" Wafa Sultan, one of the leaders of the cottage industry of Islam-Experts-With-Funny-Sounding-Names that professional hatemongers have come to rely upon.

None other than anti-Islam kingpin Robert Spencer himself has taken to flailing wildly at Loonwatch, calling it an "Islamic hate site." No comment from me is needed.

In summary: TheProudIslamist <3 Loonwatch.

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Rock Bottom

Even though I haven't actually read any of the Harry Potter series, nor seen any of the movies, and even if their global success has been more the product of some well-designed marketing than of their literary merit, their author has, nevertheless, accomplished something remarkable.

So I thought I'd share an interesting quote from J.K. Rowling that I came across in an unlikely place:

“I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised…I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

An absence of Schadenfreude

Despite my criticism of its government, its military, and its founding ideology, there has always been one positive fact about the State of Israel that has provided a true - if generally non sequitur - argument in its defense:

Out of all the Middle Eastern states, within the territory it captured in 1948, freedom of expression has been the strongest.

It's been hardly ideal, mind you, considering that people were still jailed for advocating against Zionism, but it has still, traditionally, been legal for people within the Green Line to write, talk, and demonstrate for the Palestinians, about what has happened to them, and it has remained legal for some of them (particularly Jews) to point out the problems that Zionism has wrought.

All of that is changing.

With the passage of these laws, Netanyahu and Lieberman have again changed the score in the Middle East, and not in Israel's favour. Where the Arabs are moving towards freedom, laying down their lives for the right to write and say what they want, the Knesset is curtailing those rights. While the Turkish government is finally making some move to reduce the restrictions on Kurdish culture and language, the Israeli government is making it illegal to talk about what happened to the Palestinians in 1948.

I don't say this with any schadenfreude. It would be nice to feel some pleasure at watching the State of Israel descend into fascism, but it isn't humanly possible. It is, however, possible to hope that this signals the conflict entering its final phase, and that Zionism will finally be forced to take a look at itself in the mirror to see what it has become.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Universal God

A fantastic article I stumbled accross.

Allah Hafiz vs. Khuda Hafiz

Trust me, my God can understand all the languages he created.

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Driving change

There are fewer things more symbolic of the mysoginy of Arab culture than the Saudi ban on women driving. With no basis in any Islamic text, and the majority of scholarly opinion from Iran to England being against it, the ban epitomizes the backwardness of this 21st century kingdom, not just for non-Muslim liberals who cluck admonishingly at the repression of women, but for Muslims whose feeling about it range from anger to embarrassment.

Thanks to this woman, it might be about to change:

Story here.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Shorter Danny Danon (Likud)

Hat tip to an associate of mine stranded in the US of A, who found this gem in the NYT:

Making the Land of Israel whole

The Palestinians had better not declare independence, or else we're gonna occupy them.

Bibi, I've figured it out!

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Shorter Michael Taube

Stephen Harper's former speech writer, published every Saturday in the loony bin of the Postmedia news empire:

Geert Wilders' Canadian hosts did us a favour

While I knew that he felt threatened by Islam and wanted to ban the Qur'an, I was shocked to find out that Geert Wilders also doesn't like Muslims.

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Monday, May 2, 2011

60% of us didn't want it

But we got it anyways.

Now, we are in the uncomfortable position of praying that we were wrong about the implications of a Konservative majority.

. . . Or that whatever damage is done to this country and its institutions over the course of the next 4 years can be repaired as quickly.

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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Stephen Harper: Still Hating Canada

Either Stephen Harper doesn't understand Canadian democracy, or his opinion of the Canadian public is so low that he believes that we don't.

Either he has no recollection of what he himself proposed in 2004 in order to bring down Paul Martin, or he believes that Canadians have such a poor grasp of history that we won't recall it.

Either he is being profoundly - if honestly - mistaken about a matter that he has chosen to make the centrepiece of his campaign, or he is being viciously mendacious with the public, along with his own supporters.

As the always astute Gilles Duceppe pointed out, here is what Harper himself wrote to Adrienne Clarkson in 2004:
I don't know whether or not Harper's focus on process issues rather than policy will be successful or not. On both counts, however, his party is taking Canada away from its traditions as a parliamentary democracy and towards an American-style of politics. On the process front, they are doing this by:

1) Fostering the impression that we directly elect the Prime Minister (as in a Presidential system) rather than local MPs.

2) Trying to collapse the opposition parties, who together represent the Canadian tradition of the representation of significantly divergent viewpoints, into a single entity - the "Coalition."

3) Relying on personal attack ads, both during and before the election, to shift the discussion from issues to personalities.

4) Ending the per-vote subsidy, without which parties rely on individual donors with deep pockets to finance their operations.

5) Finally, and perhaps by doing the above, he is trying to destroy the Liberal Party of Canada, particularly where finances are concerned, which the party has come to rely upon since Jean Chretien (perhaps in a final flipping of the bird to the hapless Paul Martin) placed limits on campaign contributions. I don't have any special place in my heart for the Liberals, but if they are defeated, it should be because their ideas were bad, and not because the party was outspent.

On policy, there are no shortage of reasons to suspect that Stephen Harper Hates Canada. Some are documented in this blog. On foreign policy, his is Canada's Likud government. On the economy, his is the party that has perpetually ignored homelessness as an issue. On health care, his supporters have long cried for an American-style health care, even if the party itself denies it. On the environment, his was the government that was instrumental in scuttling the Copenhagen talks. The list goes on . . .

So if you love Canada please, please, don't vote Konservative.

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Failing to resist

So the die is now cast. The UNSC has voted, and it has voted for war against Gaddafi - that is, after all, what this is. This isn't a "no-fly" zone - as the resolution itself says, it's an authorization to use military force to protect civilians; and if a few civilians get killed along the way, so be it. Allied forces are claiming that there have been no civilian casualties from all the missile strikes and bombings. I don't believe them.

Some intelligent arguments have been made over the last 2 days by people who are less than thrilled about this. They argue that the motivations of those involved in the airstrikes (the usual suspects) are less than pure, and that very similar action against Saddam Hussein in 1991 led to a 12-year stalemate in which millions of civilians were killed, and the relative strength of the regime against its opponents on the ground provided one of the myriad excuses for the 2003 invasion and occupation of the country.

These are not baseless arguments. The Americans, British, French, Italians, and yes, Canadians too, likely do not have purely humanitarian concerns at heart. The question is, exactly who does? The argument that Western governments will be condemned no matter what they do isn't entirely hollow - if America had sat by and let Benghazi fall, I know lots of people who would have said it was because they privileged Libya's oil supplies over its people.

The missing question in all this debate is "Where are the Arabs?" For sure, most of their leaders actually have no interest in seeing the rebellion against Gaddafi succeed - as current events in Bahrain demontrate (another place where you won't see the Americans leaping to the defence of civilians, despite having a base on the island). It was heartening for sure to see the Arab league demanding action to reign in one of their own colleagues. It was equally disheartening to see them doing absolutely nothing about him themselves.

The ever-plaintiff Amr Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League, was among the first to complain when the bombs and missiles started hitting Libya, as if he had expected something different. Moussa, an Egyptian, is himself now a favourite to win Egyptian presidential elections, and a former Egyptian foreign minister.

And where has Egypt been all these days, exactly? One might imagine that post-Mubarak Egypt migh have a bit more interest in helping to - at the very least - stabilise the situation in neighbouring Libya. It certainly has the wherewithal: Egypts armed forces are, after the IDF, the most well-armed in the Middle East, receiving $1.3 billion in military aid from Washington each year, and with an army and air force that are more technologically advanced than anything Libya has to put on the field.

Yet Egypt sits on its hands, it's leaders pining away (at least, publicly) for London, Paris, and Washington to come and save the Arabs from one another.

And so the Arabs continue to receive the treatment reserved for those who cannot take care of themselves - to be continually taken advantage of by those with the means to forward their own interests. This situation will not change until the Arabs choose to change it. That process started in January with the people of Tunisia. Time will tell whether they succeed. Western intervention in Libya is, however, another example of the Arab failure to resist.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Say it with a smile

There's been a lot to watch in the world this week, and a lot I have wanted to say - not just about the history being made all over the Arab world, but about other things closer to home. For now, I just wanted to highlight this photo from the Independent, of protesters in Bahrain.

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Seat of the pants

Ahead of Business Class
Ahead of First Class
Ahead of Executive,
Gold Star, Diamond,

And of course, Super-Elite,
Are special seats,
Reserved for those who fly,
By the seat of their pants.

Because everyone in this section,
Is rushing towards some destination,
The section uses the abbreviation
To save time.

And many of them are sops indeed,
Dishevelled poets, most of these,
Overcoming their tribulations,
With romantic sentimentality.

But not all of its denizens,
Are inhabitants by choice.
And near them you can sense,
Frustration in their demeanour,

Hurling profanity,
At the connection they missed,
And swearing quietly,
At a loved one they miss.

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Look, it's totally not apartheid. . .

They support equality, but please, no Arabs . . .

The secretary of the settlement of Elazar, Yossi Kaufman, told Haaretz: "[Residents of] Elazar have approached the regional council and requested that the settlement's buses not have an Arab driver. If army directives require a guard for an Arab entering the community, there can't be an Arab school-bus driver. If someone wants to earn a living, be my guest. In fact, Arabs built the houses in Elazar. When it comes to children, that's an issue of safety. We were notified that the driver is not Arab and that was the end of the story."

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Evil or stupid?

"I feel a lot of respect and empathy [for] Mubarak. He was an important leader for his country, I believe he enjoyed the respect of many Egyptians," Barak said, adding that Mubarak was "quite successful, under the circumstances" in dealing with Egypt's many challenges.

-- Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, speaking to CNN.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Help the revolution

A friend of mine with a lot of experience in activism recently told me that he hates awareness-raising. In the discussion that ensued, he made an awfully good case for ignoring how media outlets will report an event, and instead working to change the facts on the ground.

I don't know if this will actually work. While there are probably lots of men of conscience in the armies of the Arab world, there are also probably lots of opportunists (especially in the top echelons) who will only refuse their orders if they know that they will be caught on camera, and the images broadcast to the world.

So I think this is a pretty good idea:

Blackout-Proof the Protests

Give what you can.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Subjects of History

January was a historic month for Egypt and her neighbours. On the far side of Libya, Ben-Ali was tossed out by the popular uprising that inspired Egypt's own. To the south, Sudan may finally know a lasting peace. All the while, the monarchs of the Arab world and the Israelis are watching nervously, seeing their cherished stability unravel in the face of popular sentiment that loathes the injustice necessitated by that stability.

We in the West are used to thinking of Muslims, and particularly the Arabs, as the objects of history. They are like surgery patients, lying paralysed on the operating table, waiting for people with power to do various things to them - usually without anaesthetic. They may have opinions, but they do not matter, because those opinions are rarely rational, and generally dangerous. Edward Said only wounded Orientalism. He did not kill it.

As many have pointed out, including a few of the Middle East's wiser observers and denizens, the danger remains that it will be the Egyptian military leadership, and not the people of Egypt, who will determine the nature of the new order. As the formidable Robert Fisk wrote:

. . . the future body politic of Egypt lies with up to a hundred officers, their old fidelity to Mubarak Рsorely tested by Thursday's appalling speech, let alone the revolution on the streets Рhas now been totally abandoned. A military communiqu̩ yesterday morning called for "free and fair elections", adding that Egyptian armed forces were "committed to the demands of the people" who should "resume a normal way of life". Translated into civilian-speak, this means that the revolutionaries should pack up while a coterie of generals divide up the ministries of a new government. In some countries, this is called a "coup d'etat".
Fisk, however, for all his decades of experience living and working in the Arab world, didn't predict the uprising to begin with - to my knowledge, no one did - and so we can hold out some hope that his grimmer instincts may yet prove wrong.

No matter what happens from here, though, the precedent has been set, and the principle established. Kings and generals may have power and influence, but the final say goes to the population, if they all want the same thing badly enough. They are no longer passive objects, but active participants in their own history. They have an opinion, and it matters.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Evocative, poetic writing in Dawn:

Karachi: The Great Work

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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Blocking the tanks in Tahrir Square

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Change Gonna Come

Mohammed Bouazizi, 1984-2011

At the end of his 26 years in this world, Mohammed Bouazizi doused himself in solvents and set himself ablaze, and died of his burns 3 weeks later. Did he have an inkling of the fire that his own self-immolation would spark?

As I write this, people are waking up for Fajr prayer in Cairo. There are massive demonstrations planned after Jumah prayers. As my previous post demonstrates, I tend to be conservative in my predictions - I tend to bet on things staying the same, because that has been, in my experience, the safe bet.

I'm going to revise that prediction now. Many of the dictators of the Arab world are finding themselves backed into corners, particularly in Egypt and Yemen, but also in Jordan, Algeria, and probably also Libya. When they heard of what happened in Tunisia, some Libyan associates of mine seemed uncharacteristically ecstatic, especially given their typical reticence to discuss politics.

I don't know if Mubarak will fall tomorrow. Even if he does fall, I don't know if he won't just be replaced by one of his current associates, an opportunist who sees that the old man isn't going to get any younger anyways.

It does seem apparent, at this point, though, that a sea-change has taken place in the world of Arab presidents-for-life - the pseudo-monarchs who don't call themselves kings, but nevertheless rule as despots and groom their own family members to take power when they retire or die. An Arab president has been forced to leave office against his will, and that does set a precedent. If it didn't, the streets of Cairo and Sana would not have thronged so.

There is also a tremendous irony, that the American rhetoric about bringing about a flowering of democracy to the Middle East has proven so empty. They, along with the British, French, and Israelis, have been publicly professing a desire to free the people of the Middle East, all the while building stronger and harsher cages for them, frightened of the reckoning that would come if their prisoners ever got loose. Yet a vegetable seller with a can of paint-thinner has accomplished far more than the entire might of the US military-industrial complex could have, even if it had been honourable in its intentions.

I pray, and I urge anyone reading this to do the same, that the demonstrators are successful in influencing their governments in a meaningful, permanent way. I fear, though, that Mubarak in particular won't allow that to happen. Something big will happen, but if the security forces cooperate (and I pray they won't) the response could be extreme, designed to make an example of the poor earnest souls who will take to the streets in a few hours.

Either way, I don't think that the sparks lit by Mohammed Bouazizi will fizzle without something dramatic happening.

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Sunday, January 23, 2011


I have had a lot of thoughts about what happened recently in Tunisia, and people who are familiar with the politics of the Arab world all wondering aloud "Will this spread?" Maybe, but not soon, is my guess. At any rate, Maher Arar wrote this very insightful piece for the Globe and Mail. While I'm mildly upset at the title, and the linguistic trap it perpetuates, it's still worth a read.

. . . The White House remained quiet about the situation in Tunisia almost until the end, although police had by then killed dozens of peaceful protesters. It wasn’t until Mr. Ben Ali was over the Mediterranean that Mr. Obama applauded “the courage and dignity of the Tunisian people.” This face-saving statement came just two days after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton indicated that Washington was not taking sides.

The French position was similar, although with the twist that Nicolas Sarkozy’s government offered to send anti-riot police to help crush the uprising. After learning that Mr. Ben Ali had fled, Mr. Sarkozy had a change of heart, refusing French residency to the dictator. . . .

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Phantom Menace

While I frequently deride the Ottawa Citizen for being the looney bin of the Postmedia newspaper empire (formerly the CanWest media empire, before the company brightened my day by going broke), it has to be said that a glimmer of sanity is occasionally seen from the paper, despite its propensity for American-style wingnuttery.

While the wording of this piece by Dan Gardner is occasionally unfortunate (as I discussed in this post from 2008), the diction doesn't negate the importance of the point he makes. Nor does it make his shots at professional bedwetter Mark Steyn any less delicious.

Anyhow, here is the article.

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