Saturday, December 22, 2007
An Arab, or an Egyptian?. Yes the endless debate that you probably had more than a thousand times with your friends, specially if you were like me, someone who call himself an Egyptian and does not consider yourself an Arab. I said that once to a taxi driver and i can't forget the look on his face, the man looked at me as if i had just killed a child, with friends the debate usually goes for hours without a result, usually i end up being called ''sheyoo3i'' which means communist in literal translation but just someone who opposes everything in native slang.
The irony is that we as ''Egyptians'' tend to call most people from the surrounding middle eastern countries and specially the gulf states as ''Arabs'' to distinguish ourselves. Now riddle me this, if i am an Arab and i want to talk about people from the gulf, why would i say the ''Arabs'' did this and the ''Arabs'' did that. And why in arguments or debates we always use the term ''Arabs'' in reference to the actual Arabs. The answer is simple, we are not Arabs, never were, never will be. Now people who want to be Arabs so bad need to have a reality check or open a history book or something because it's ridiculous really, specially when it comes from educated people.
First of all most Egyptians and a lot of Arabs associate being a Muslim with being an Arab and it's wrong, there are plenty of Islamic countries in the world today who does not call themselves Arabs, most notably Iran who happens to be a middle-eastern Muslim country but their people did not give up on their history or identity. Beside Arab does not mean Muslim and vise versa, there are Christian-Arabs and there are None-Arab Muslims. So the term ''Arab'' has nothing to do with your religion as a person or ours as a country.
Now i know what you all must be thinking,it's the language man!, Iran and other none Arab countries do not speak Arabic, and thats why they are not Arabs. Well hmmm, then the language defines your identity?. The answer is no or else we would be referring to every individual on God's green earth whose first language is English or French simply as English or French, LOLZ.
So there is no such thing as Australian or American, their first language is English and guess what, they are mostly Christians as well!!! therefor they are not Australians, they are English!. Same applies to Scotland, Wales, USA, Antigua And Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Gambia, Ghana and the list goes on and on. All these people according to the language = identity logic are English. Which mean that the world is mainly divided between three people English, French and of course the Arabs. As Egyptians throughout our long long history we spoke so many languages, and if our identity is defined by the language we speak then god forbid if we were to be invaded tomorrow by the Chinese and started adopting their language, then we will become Chinese.
If it's not about the language or the religion, then what is it about?. Well it's all about the culture and history, because the culture and history of a nation is what makes it to be. We have a very different culture than the Arab culture, we have a longer and much more complicated history than that of the Arabs. Without transforming this post to a history lesson, reading through a history book or just a quick read about true Arabs habits and customs will tell you that we both Egyptians and Arabs descend from a very different background culturally and historically. We settled down by the Nile about 7000 years ago, and started a ''Civilization'', a ''Kingdom'' that became an ''Empire'' and inspired the world. During all these ages and a until a relatively modern age most of Arabia was a desert inhabited by nomad and Bedouin travelers who has a completely different cultural background than that of the Egyptians. Even to this modern day, the true Arabs who live in Arabia are still attached to their ''Tribal'' culture and customs.
I am not trying to say someone is better than another, and i am not trying to compare cultures because every culture was valuable to mankind as a whole. But all that i am saying is that, we are Egyptians, not Arabs and will never be Arabs. The Americans will never be English and vise versa, well by now if you haven't had got the point then i give up.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Lost in translationBy:
Experts confirm that Iran's president did not call for Israel to be 'wiped off the map'. Reports that he did serve to strengthen western hawks
June 14, 2006 12:49 PM | Printable version
My recent comment piece explaining how Iran's president was badly misquoted when he allegedly called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" has caused a welcome little storm. The phrase has been seized on by western and Israeli hawks to re-double suspicions of the Iranian government's intentions, so it is important to get the truth of what he really said.
I took my translation - "the regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time" - from the indefatigable Professor Juan Cole's website where it has been for several weeks.
But it seems to be mainly thanks to the Guardian giving it prominence that the New York Times, which was one of the first papers to misquote Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, came out on Sunday with a defensive piece attempting to justify its reporter's original "wiped off the map" translation. (By the way, for Farsi speakers the original version is available here.)
Joining the "off the map" crowd is David Aaronovitch, a columnist on the Times (of London), who attacked my analysis yesterday. I won't waste time on him since his knowledge of Farsi is as minimal as that of his Latin. The poor man thinks the plural of casus belli is casi belli, unaware that casus is fourth declension with the plural casus (long u).
The New York Times's Ethan Bronner and Nazila Fathi, one of the paper's Tehran staff, make a more serious case. They consulted several sources in Tehran. "Sohrab Mahdavi, one of Iran's most prominent translators, and Siamak Namazi, managing director of a Tehran consulting firm, who is bilingual, both say 'wipe off' or 'wipe away' is more accurate than 'vanish' because the Persian verb is active and transitive," Bronner writes.
The New York Times goes on: "The second translation issue concerns the word 'map'. Khomeini's words were abstract: 'Sahneh roozgar.' Sahneh means scene or stage, and roozgar means time. The phrase was widely interpreted as 'map', and for years, no one objected. In October, when Mr Ahmadinejad quoted Khomeini, he actually misquoted him, saying not 'Sahneh roozgar' but 'Safheh roozgar', meaning pages of time or history. No one noticed the change, and news agencies used the word 'map' again."
This, in my view, is the crucial point and I'm glad the NYT accepts that the word "map" was not used by Ahmadinejad. (By the way, the Wikipedia entry on the controversy gets the NYT wrong, claiming falsely that Ethan Bronner "concluded that Ahmadinejad had in fact said that Israel was to be wiped off the map".)
If the Iranian president made a mistake and used "safheh" rather than "sahneh", that is of little moment. A native English speaker could equally confuse "stage of history" with "page of history". The significant issue is that both phrases refer to time rather than place. As I wrote in my original post, the Iranian president was expressing a vague wish for the future. He was not threatening an Iranian-initiated war to remove Israeli control over Jerusalem.
Two other well-established translation sources confirm that Ahmadinejad was referring to time, not place. The version of the October 26 2005 speech put out by the Middle East Media Research Institute, based on the Farsi text released by the official Iranian Students News Agency, says: "This regime that is occupying Qods [Jerusalem] must be eliminated from the pages of history." (NB: not "wiped". I accept that "eliminated" is almost the same, indeed some might argue it is more sinister than "wiped", though it is a bit more of a mouthful if you are trying to find four catchy and easily memorable words with which to incite anger against Iran.)
MEMRI (its text of the speech is available here) is headed by a former Isareli military intelligence officer and has sometimes been attacked for alleged distortion of Farsi and Arabic quotations for the benefit of Israeli foreign policy. On this occasion they supported the doveish view of what Ahmadinejad said.
Finally we come to the BBC monitoring service which every day puts out hundreds of highly respected English translations of broadcasts from all round the globe to their subscribers - mainly governments, intelligence services, thinktanks and other specialists. I approached them this week about the controversy and a spokesperson for the monitoring service's marketing unit, who did not want his name used, told me their original version of the Ahmadinejad quote was "eliminated from the map of the world".
As a result of my inquiry and the controversy generated, they had gone back to the native Farsi-speakers who had translated the speech from a voice recording made available by Iranian TV on October 29 2005. Here is what the spokesman told me about the "off the map" section: "The monitor has checked again. It's a difficult expression to translate. They're under time pressure to produce a translation quickly and they were searching for the right phrase. With more time to reflect they would say the translation should be "eliminated from the page of history".
Would the BBC put out a correction, given that the issue had become so controversial, I asked. "It would be a long time after the original version", came the reply. I interpret that as "probably not", but let's see.
Finally, I approached Iradj Bagherzade, the Iranian-born founder and chairman of the renowned publishing house, IB Tauris. He thought hard about the word "roozgar". "History" was not the right word, he said, but he could not decide between several better alternatives "this day and age", "these times", "our times", "time".
So there we have it. Starting with Juan Cole, and going via the New York Times' experts through MEMRI to the BBC's monitors, the consensus is that Ahmadinejad did not talk about any maps. He was, as I insisted in my original piece, offering a vague wish for the future.
A very last point. The fact that he compared his desired option - the elimination of "the regime occupying Jerusalem" - with the fall of the Shah's regime in Iran makes it crystal clear that he is talking about regime change, not the end of Israel. As a schoolboy opponent of the Shah in the 1970's he surely did not favour Iran's removal from the page of time. He just wanted the Shah out.
The same with regard to Israel. The Iranian president is undeniably an opponent of Zionism or, if you prefer the phrase, the Zionist regime. But so are substantial numbers of Israeli citizens, Jews as well as Arabs. The anti-Zionist and non-Zionist traditions in Israel are not insignificant. So we should not demonise Ahmadinejad on those grounds alone.
Does this quibbling over phrases matter? Yes, of course. Within days of the Ahmadinejad speech the then Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, was calling for Iran to be expelled from the United Nations. Other foreign leaders have quoted the map phrase. The United States is piling pressure on its allies to be tough with Iran.
Let me give the last word to Juan Cole, with whom I began. "I am entirely aware that Ahmadinejad is hostile to Israel. The question is whether his intentions and capabilities would lead to a military attack, and whether therefore pre-emptive warfare is prescribed. I am saying no, and the boring philology is part of the reason for the no."
Sunday, December 16, 2007
A Muslim boy is being touted as a "hero" after he saved a group of young Jewish subway-goers from a brutal beating by a gang of Christian thugs in New York, press reports said Wednesday.
The incident took place last Friday night, when 23-year old Jewish man, Walter Adler, boarded a New York subway train with three female friends.
According to Adler, someone in another group wished them "Merry Christmas" and he and his friends replied, "Happy Hanukkah."
Soon, the group of about 14 Christian men and women attacked the Jewish group, calling them "dirty Jews" and "Jew bit***s," the New York Post reported.
Amid the huge scrum, 20-year-old Bangladeshi Muslim student, Hassan Askari jumped in. He pushed one of the men away, and was then pounced on by the group.
"They grabbed me and punched and beat me up," Askari said. "I didn't get a chance to punch him back," the New York Daily News quoted him as saying.
Askari's interference allowed Adler to pull the emergency brake, which alerted police to trouble on the train, the paper said.
Askari, who was left with two black eyes and a sore nose, said he has no regrets: "I just did what I had to do…My parents raised me that way."
"In Islam it teaches you to be helpful to your fellow man, to be kind, courteous," he told the Post.
The Jewish victim Adler said he was amazed by Askari's bravery: "A random Muslim guy jumped in and helped a Jewish guy on Hanukkah - that's a miracle."
Adler said he and his friends might have been beaten to death, but for Hassan: "He was the only person to help us…He's basically a hero," said Adler, who also suffered a broken nose and required four stitches to close a lip wound.
Adler invited his new friend over to celebrate the Jewish Festival of Lights. The two men reportedly broke bread together and laughed off their injuries.
Askari, who is studying to be an accountant, said he hasn't gone to the doctor because he's too busy working two waiter jobs and doesn't have money for medical care, the Daily News said.
New York Police arrested ten people in the underground attack - including two men who have been arrested for race crimes before.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Now let's consider one common factor between all Egyptians, despite everything wrong in this country believe it or not in 2007 Egyptians as people are still holding on to Islam and it's teachings even though we have a lot of bad habits such as sexual harassment that contradict the kind teachings of Islam and contributes massively in harming it's image and our reputation as a nation. Islam strictly forbids premarital sex and most Egyptians are abiding by that rule, but at the same time marriage in this country became the beast who chases every young male in his dreams. The high costs of marriage, finding a house not to mention the excessive demands and requests made by the bride and her family make marriage mission impossible for most Egyptians.
People need to open their eyes here and realize that sex is a basic human instinct just like hunger and humans haven't learned yet to get rid of it by a magic pill. And sexual hunger and loneliness contributes into transforming humans into Animals. Back in the days of the great Islamic Empire, premarital sex was of course forbidden but there was no such thing as sexual harassment, why? Back then marriage was quite easy and life requirements were much less, not to mention that people weren't greedy like now and their demands was quite realistic. Back then all it took is to be a good person coming from a decent family at the legal age of marriage at the time, and that was about it.
But today, as i said earlier marriage became almost mission impossible and a lot of youngsters became sexually frustrated and reached a desperate situation, so they find a breath of air in sexually harassing women, be it by words and stares going through the occasional touching and ending with rape, usually by people who reached rock bottom. Thats one of the main reasons behind sexual harassment.
Another reason is how women and girls became very negligent of their looks and appearance after marriage. You can wear a veil but still look decent you know? this way your husband won't have to turn his head 180 degrees whenever a foreign woman is walking the street. After marriage everything changes, the smell of perfume is replaced with the smell of onion and garlic, the make up becomes just an illusion of a distant past, the butterfly you married transform into an eating yelling screaming machine. Seriously how many were victims of that vicious con? and how do you think they will feel when they see an attractive young woman walking in the street, of course one away or another they will sexually harass her for that breath of fresh air.
Also one of the most important reasons for sexual harassment amongst the poorly educated class who represent a big portion of our glorious nation is how females are being portrayed as sex objects by a lot of our lovely very untalented artists. To make it as a female singer today it does not require you any talent of singing or a powerful voice or any of that old crap! It only takes a decent face a banging body and a will to display that package on TV. Now to these poorly people the message is crystal clear, ''these are women and this is what they are made for, displaying their bodies as a commodity''. Eventually they learn not to respect women and we end up oppressing them, it's all connected really.
One last thing is that every rule has it's exception and it all really comes down to how people are raising their children, and that has nothing to do with the social class or economical class. Some people despite their harsh conditions and their inability to marry still remain very respectful of women, some very well educated rich folks who happens to be married as well still disrespect women, mainly because they weren't raised properly or came from a home where women are being disrespected.
These were just few reasons out of millions why this disease is spreading, the solutions? They are simple really only if people are actually willing to do something:
1.To the religious figures in this country, start telling people that sexual harassment is everything against what Islam teaches as you keep telling them off premarital sex.
2.A massive media campaign that women are not sex objects and they actually have a great role in society. Women who achieved great useful things should be the models presented and not some naked 19 year old who is proud because she just showed her butt to 80 million people.
3.Improve the education and encourage respect for others personal freedoms, ''I may not disagree with what she wears but i do not have the right to harass her'' the kind of attitude we dream of, this is another thing that the Religious figures can promote.
4.Government financial contribution to help the young fresh poor class graduates finding jobs and settling down, monitor strictly how this help is divided fairly,be it in financial funding for their own private projects or in form of houses or any kind of these projects.
5.Strictly apply the law in any case of sexual harassment even if it's a minor case of verbal harassing, eventually when you set the example others will think twice before doing it.
6.People should consider their daughters and sons future and well being, but it's not really quite an Islamic or a morale thing to complicate marriage like a lot of Egyptians do now days.
If you have any comments, extra reasons why or other solutions please contribute.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
I mean come on if you had walked down the streets of Cairo during the danish cartoon fiasco and saw the anger on the people's faces you would have said these people would die for their own religion. You would have taken the impression that these people are actually jealous about their own religion and felt really offended of what that Danish newspaper had published about the Prophet (PBUH), and actually they were!.
But today in 2007, Egyptians seem to care much more about the shell of Islam and not the core itself. I remember a while back on facebook there was an argument about how today the girls dress in provocative revealing clothes and someone said that they deserve what comes to them!.That person isn't the only one with this kind of attitude, maybe he was the only one to admit it, but honestly how many think like that?
I mean people come on, isn't there a reward for the Muslim who resist temptations. If there is a woman wearing revealing clothes in the streets and you look to the other side instead of staring will you not be rewarded by god, isn't that Ghad-Al-Bassar is all about?
And what about the veiled Muslim girls? Are they being provocative by just walking in the streets? If you are so jealous about your own religion i think you should act in accordance with it and not like animals, because eventually people will say Muslims are animals and trust me alot of them do. By doing that you didn't only disobey god, you also harmed Islam and it's image.
Respect is something you earn, you're not born with it and to be respected you have to respect others. It's really simple, if you can't respect women then you're not a respectable human being not to mention a respectable Muslim. And if you want to change a situation that you don't like, then you should do it by kind words. These women walking down the streets are someone's sister or daughter or even mother, it could even be your wife. So if you tolerate this then your mother, daughter, sister, wife is going to be next.
To Be Continued.....
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Even more, i don't like people who obsess about things that they are not very well informed about. As a matter of fact people ignorantly obsessing about certain things provoke me and push me to bash that thing and disagree with whatever the hell they say about it even if it's right and i know what they say hold some truth. crazy or confusing?