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The Arab Spring has been hijacked, corrupted and sabotaged.
From Tunisia, the birthplace of the popular revolution that came to be known as the Arab Spring, through Libya and Egypt, the mass uprisings that swept aside decades of dictatorships and stagnation have turned into a devastating cyclone, destroying every semblance of progress and modernity in its path.
Nowhere is this clearer than in Syria, where the popular revolt of ordinary Syrians seeking their inalienable civil and political rights has turned into a maelstrom of backwardness and reaction. What began as a mass uprising has turned into a deadly pitched battle between a fascist, murderous, sectarian dictatorship on the one hand, and ultra-reactionaries and primitives on the other.
In Tunisia and Libya, the momentum of progress has been lost and turned into a paralysis punctuated by random acts of terrorism. And in Egypt, those who hijacked and derailed the 25 January revolution have met their match, and are now languishing in prisons, where they belong.
Who is to blame?
Without a doubt, the criminals, the thieves, the hijackers of the popular will are the Muslim Brotherhood, a far-right religious cult that is no less warped than David Koresh’s Branch Davidians, which was responsible for the Waco siege in the United States in 1993.
With a pretence of moderation and commitment to democracy, the Muslim Brotherhood is the sewer filling in the rotten swamp in which the likes of Al-Qaeda, Ansar al-Shari’ah, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis and other jihadis grow, like deadly viruses.
The common objective of the Muslim Brotherhood and its virus offspring is to establish shari’ah, or Islamic law. That is, they want to apply a 1,500-year-old law to all predominantly Muslim countries.
Aside from the absurdity of wanting to establish an ancient law in countries whose peoples aspire to catch up with the 21st century, a major problem is that no one knows what shari’ah law really is. Because it is not formally codified, there are various methods of interpretation and scholars can sometimes reach wildly differing conclusions.
So, what to do?
I am fairly confident that, after much bloodshed, the bearded, ugly, misogynist, genitalia-obsessed perverts and charlatans of the Muslim Brotherhood and their virus offspring will meet the bloody end they seek for everyone who’s not exactly like them.
As for shari’ah, there would seem to be only one thing that the Muslim Brotherhood and its proteges can do with it, as illustrated in the diagram below.
The other day my wife and I treated ourselves to an evening of burlesque – a sort of sexy cabaret – at a theatre near us. It was fantastic: the girls were supremely, tastefully erotic and scrumptious. I could have made love to each and every one of them.
However, amid the beautiful breasts and the perfect, bare bottoms, I found my mind wondering and thinking about, believe it or not, Islamists – the Salafis and Wahhabis who nowadays are peeping out of every nook and cranny in the Arab world.
In case you suspect I’m losing my mind, I do have some mitigation. We – myself included – are all victims of religion – not just Muslims, but also Jews and Christians. Religion screws up our minds and leaves a permanent blot on our psyche. So, I suppose thinking about ugliness amid beauty is a symptom of the damage left on my sub-conscience by the contaminated environment in which I have been brought up.
I have never been religious and I cannot honestly say that I respect religious people. Live and let live is my motto but how can I respect someone who is irrational, an adult who believes in fairies and fairy tales?
That is not to say that I am antagonistic towards believers: they can believe in whatever they like as long as they don't try to impose their views and beliefs on me or anyone else. And vice-versa: while one should feel free to question believers about the "logic" of their beliefs, in the end it's their choice whether or not to be religious.
Although I have been living in the West for many years, my mind and my habitat are in the Arab world. So, it is not particularly surprising that I should be thinking – even for a few fleeting seconds here and there – about the ugliness afflicting my part of the world even while beautiful, exquisite angels are dancing semi-naked before my eyes.
In the interval during the burlesque show I looked around at the packed audience. They were decent people of various ages: young, middle aged and bordering on the old. Some were in burlesque-type attire while others wore formal or casual clothing. Most or all were couples: girlfriend-boyfried or husbands and wives. No hang-ups or complexes. Everyone seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. And after the show I suppose they will do what we did: go home, have a cup of tea and go to bed. The show’s over and tomorrow is another day.
While Egypt's Islamist president, Muhammad Mursi, is hitting the headlines for challenging Iran during the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran over its support for the murderous regime of Bashar Assad in Syria, back home his party, the Muslim Brotherhood, remains on course for taking Egypt back to the Dark Ages.
According to the Egyptian Independent, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s advocacy and guidance department, Abdel Khaleq al-Sherif, has asked the religious university of Al-Azhar, the Ministry of Religious Endowments, and religious scholars to issue a collective fatwa, or edict, on the permissibility of the 4.8-billion-dollar International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan being sought by the Egyptian government.
Al-Sherif's request comes against the background of squabbles among Egypt's Islamists on whether a loan attracting interest is permissible under Islam, which considers interest on loans as usury. According to the paper, last week the Salafi Nur party issued a statement claiming that “borrowing from abroad is usury". Meanwhile, another Islamist functionary, Yasser Borhamy, the vice-president of the Salafi Daawah party, issued an edict saying that the IMF loan would not qualify as usury because interest on it was only 1.1 per cent.
Whether or not the loan is usury under Islam, the question that Egyptians should be asking themselves is this: is it right in this day and age to determine economic policy by reference to religious texts ‑ and the widely differing interpretations thereof ‑ written 1,500 years ago? Shouldn't Egypt's politicians be debating instead whether loans are the appropriate long-term solution to the economic problems of an already heavily indebted country?
Anecdotally, it would seem that a significant minority ‑ if not the majority ‑ of ordinary Egyptians are reverting to superstition as well as scriptural and other primitive "remedies" and practices to solve pressing problems of the modern age. Thus, it can be argued that the Islamist ignoramuses and charlatans are a symptom of a contagion that is gripping Egypt and most of the Arab world and that, in a democracy, one should not be too upset to find ignorance and other manifestations of backwardness reflected in public debate and public policy.
This is the journey that we Egyptians and Arabs in general must travel before we wake up to the fact that one cannot cure a disease by swallowing poison.
As a lifelong leftist I have always believed that there are two paths that lead to justice for the poor, the wronged and the downtrodden. One is the force of argument and the truth – the essential prerequisites for grassroots organization and mass mobilization. The other is armed struggle, but this would be doomed without organization and mass mobilization. In other words, without a persuasive argument backed by the truth, there is little prospect for salvation for the victims of oppression and injustice.
Over the years my experience with leftists has left me increasingly disenchanted with them – their ignorance and intellectual idleness (or lack of intellect altogether), their slogan-mongering and shallow, doctrinaire politics and, most disturbing of all, their disdain for the truth and their lack of respect for facts and for evidence.
A case in point is an article I came across recently by Jamal Kanj, a Palestinian author. Before I go any further, let me say that I am actually a fan of Mr Kanj and have a lot of respect for him. I am picking on his article only because it is the most recent symptom I have encountered of the problem I am talking about.
In the article, “Syria, Arab Spring or civil war” Mr Kanj says, among other things:
The Syrian opposition should take clue from the militarized conflict in Libya. Until NATO direct intervention, the armed rebellion failed badly in toppling Kaddafi. NATO interference brought both wanton destruction and lucrative business deals for Western companies to rebuild what their governments destroyed in the first place.
Now, I am no fan of NATO – a body which I believe should have been disbanded the moment the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Nor am I a champion of NATO’s key players – the US, Britain, Germany and France – who are pioneers and sustainers of international hypocrisy and injustice.
However, facts are facts and must never be covered up, no matter what we may feel about the parties concerned. In the case of the Libyan conflict, here are the facts:
Fact #1: Had it not been for NATO’s intervention, there is no doubt that Gaddafi would have committed mass murder in Benghazi and elsewhere where the people had risen up against his despotic, fascist rule. He promised to do so on state television, and on the day the French air force launched the first NATO strike on Saturday 19 March 2011 Gaddafi’s armoured forces and armed thugs entered the outskirts of Benghazi, killing and shooting at random as they advanced.
Fact #2: NATO strikes had brought no wanton destruction. The fact is that NATO action had been remarkably well targeted on Gaddafi’s military wherewithal – the tanks and Grad rocket launchers wreaking terror on the civilian population of Misrata and other towns struggling for their freedom. There was one big mistake, notably a hit on a building that resulted in 79 civilian deaths, and several smaller mistakes where rebels were bombed in error. In fact, on numerous occasions where Gaddafi’s thugs had regularly and randomly fired on civilian positions from tanks and missile launchers ensconced in residential areas, including next to hospitals and mosques, NATO took no action to avoid collateral damage, despite knowing the positions of Gaddafi’s thugs.
Fact #3: The “lucrative business deals for Western companies” after the downfall of the Gaddafi regime were not “to rebuild what their governments destroyed in the first place” but in fact were the same deals concluded by the Gaddafi regime and currently under review – there have been no new deals worthy of mention The fact is that all the civilian infrastructure destroyed during the eight-month Libyan conflict was destroyed by Gaddafi’s forces, not NATO (e.g. the oil installations in Brega and Ras Lanuf).
Mr Kanj, please don’t put yourself in the same camp as the ideologues and demagogues of the self-styled but utterly fake “leftists” and “anti-imperialists”. The truth must always come first, even if it temporarily deprives our enemies of the bad light they generally deserve.
Female circumcision is part of the prophetic Sunnah, said MP Nasser al-Shaker of the Salafi-led Nour Party, who previously proposed a bill that would allow the practice.
On a morning show on Mehwar satellite TV station, Shaker said notable Egyptian scholars have said the practice is part of the Sunnah.
Imam Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, Abdel Halim Mahmoud, former Islamic Research Academy member Sheikh Attiya Saqr and former Egyptian Mufti Nasr Farid Wasel — all prominent Egyptian religious figures, the first three of whom have died — had all authorized the practice, also known as female genital mutilation, Shaker said.
Repulsive, misogynist creeps they may be, but there's something you've got to admire about Egypt's Islamists.
Without a care in the world, they're behaving as if there's no world out there. As with the Israelis and North Koreans, they're don't give a cahoot about what the world thinks about them (I won't even bother mentioning concepts such as equality and human rights, which are completely alien to them). As far as they're concerned, they're the centre of the world, they have a monopoly over the truth, they're all that matters and that's all that's to it.
So, less than a month after reports emerged that Egyptian Salafi and Muslim Brotherhood MPs proposed to legalise necrophilia and paedophilia – reports which the Salafi al-Nur party and the Muslim Brotherhood have still not denied – a Salafi MP is now proposing to reintroduce female genital mutiliation on the grounds that the Prophet Muhammad thought it was cool.
Why, you may ask, are the Islamists so preoccupied with matters sexual and genital when Egypt is teetering on the brink of collapse politically and economically?
The answer is quite simple and probably unpalatable to the average Western liberal. As I said in a previous blog post,
...as anyone who has met Islamists would know, your typical male Islamist, whether Muslim Brotherhood, Salafi/Wahhabi or Al-Qaeda-type jihadist, is driven largely by sexual frustration and a chronic social ineptitude that makes it difficult for him to form relationships with women (hence the prevalence of homosexual acts among Islamists, e.g. in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia) and leads to pathological misogyny.
But although your typical male Islamist may have difficulty relating to and sexually performing with women, he is expected to marry at least one wife and thereby meet one of the criteria for "respectability" (it's a bit like members of the British Conservative Party).
This expectation, however, creates its own problems: married but sexually inadequate, your typical Islamist is chronically insecure and haunted by the spectre of his wife (or wives) being unfaithful through dallying with more sexually capable "real men".
Preoccupied with matters sexual, the Islamist therefore sees female genital mutilation as the solution to his pathological insecurity, on the grounds that cutting off the female clitoris will remove her libido and make her less likely to go off with other men.
Is this primitive and disgusting or is this primitive and disgusting?
Don't get excited, I haven't seen anybody. But there's a thought that nags at me every time someone asks me whether or not I believe in God or every time I read something about the debate between believers and atheists.
Although I've never been a practising Muslim (not since I was a very young child, anyway), I am also reluctant to say that I am an atheist. In my opinion, to be an atheist one has to be able to demonstrate with certainty that there's no super entity out there.
No one has ever seen or heard from a super entity (or any other entity for that matter), but how can one actually prove there is nothing? Seeing, hearing, smelling and tasting nothing does not necessarily mean there is nothing.
For example, radio waves have always existed but no one knew they were there until they were discovered in the second half of the 19th century. Even today, if one were not told about radio waves or radio tuners (radios) that enable you to listen to human voices transmitted across the electromagnetic spectrum from near and afar, one would never know they were there. So, in this situation if one were asked "Do you believe there are human voices among us here, this very minute", one could reasonably answer with a categorical negative: "I can't hear any voices and I can't see anyone talking, so no, I don't believe there are voices among us."
For the monotheistic religions, God is portrayed as a super, wiser, permanently-living version of us (or us an image of him as the religions would like to have it) but with a higher – indeed a perfect – moral code. He is both sexless (or at least celibate) and male, and he sees and hears everything we say and do but chooses not to be seen or heard.
While the flaws inherent in the monotheistic religions' image of God are challenging enough, the real problem arises when we try to match this God's supposedly super moral code and his high expectations of us mortals with his own behaviour and the nature of the environment he is said to have created. So, on the one hand we have his perfect code of ethics and on the other we have the world he has allegedly created where injustice and sadistic cruelty visited upon us by natural causes and disease reign supreme. Human behaviour aside, it is a world without mercy or compassion to any living creature.
In fact, it is much worse than this, for there is enough exhortation to evil in the supposedly divine scriptures to fundamentally destroy any pretence of goodness, godliness or morality in them. A case in point is the Ten Plagues in the Old Testament story of the Exodus. As the Israeli journalist and peace campaigner Uri Avnery put it,
Why were the entire Egyptian people punished for the misdeeds of one tyrant, Pharaoh? Why did God, like a divine Security Council, levy on them cruel sanctions, polluting their water with blood, destroying their livelihood with hail and locusts? And, even more gruesome, how could a merciful God send his angels to murder every single Egyptian firstborn child?
On leaving Egypt, the Israelites were encouraged to steal their neighbours’ property. It is rather curious that the Biblical story-teller, who was certainly deeply religious, did not omit this detail. And this just a few weeks before the Ten Commandments were handed down to the Israelites by God personally, including “Thou Shalt Not Steal”.
No one seems ever to have given much thought to the ethical side of the conquest of Canaan. God promised the Children of Israel a land which was the home of other peoples. He told them to kill these peoples, expressly commanding them to commit genocide. For some reason, He singled out the people of Amalek, ordering the Israelites to eradicate them altogether. Later, the glorious King Saul was dethroned by His prophet because he showed mercy and did not murder his Amalekite prisoners-of-war, men, women and children.
There are similar examples in the New Testament and in the Koran, but I think the Exodus story makes the point very well. The point is that the God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam did not create us in his image but quite the reverse: we created him in our image.
Does that mean there is no God at all? Mindful of the radio waves example mentioned above, I am reluctant to say there is no God. However, it would be reasonable to say that the kind of God portrayed in the Old and New Testaments and in the Koran most likely does not exist.
Instead, it is possible that another type of entity does exist. If so, then all the evidence indicates that it won't have any conception of justice, compassion or right and wrong. It won't speak a language (languages are a product of evolution) or even be aware of its own existence.
It could be something like the sun or a star, or some other concentration of matter. At most, it could be some kind of engineer-entity, good at making things (albeit by trial-and-error and over billions of years) but without even knowing what it is doing.
But a God in our image and with a code of ethics and sense of justice it ain't.
That, I fear, is the best we could hope for.
In this age of 24-hour news, citizen journalism and ubiquitous means of disseminating and accessing news and information, it's hard to avoid matters that are shocking or upsetting.
However, now and again one stumbles upon news that is not just shocking or upsetting, but profoundly sickening – the kind of news that makes one want to vomit.
It comes as no surprise to me that the source of the latest vomit-inducing news is the Islamists – the half-witted, sexually-depraved, mentally-retarded Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis now in control of Egypt's parliament and sweeping across the political arenas of other Arab countries.
Today the website of Al-Arabiya TV channel reported that the Egyptian parliament is currently discussing two laws that would plunge the country to depths hitherto unknown to the human species. One law would permit a husband to have sex with his dead wife within the six hours following her death, and the other would lower the legal age of marriage for girls to 14 years.
According to Egyptian journalist Jabir al-Qarmuti, speaking on Egyptian ON TV on 24 April, the necrophilia draft law, dubbed the Farewell Intercourse Law, "is unbelievable. It is a catastrophe to give the husband such a right. Has the Islamic trend reached that far? ... Are there people thinking in this manner?”
The answer to both questions is yes. There is no limit to the depths to which Islamists will plunge. And yes, as anyone who has met Islamists would know, your typical male Islamist, whether Muslim Brotherhood, Salafi/Wahhabi or Al-Qaeda-type jihadist, is driven largely by sexual frustration and a chronic social ineptitude that makes it difficult for him to form relationships with women (hence the prevalence of homosexual acts among Islamists, e.g. in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia) and leads to pathological misogyny.
In May 2011 a demented Moroccan cleric, Zamzami Abd-al-Bari, issued a religious ruling – a fatwa – saying that, in his learned view, necrophilia is permissible in Islam because marriage remains valid even after death. To allay suspicions that he might be acting in a sexist manner by conferring privileges on males only, the perverted cleric added that a woman also can engage in sex with her dead husband.
However, while the legal significance of Abd-al-Bari's religious ruling is no greater than his IQ, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and their Salafi co-legislators have taken one giant leap further by seeking to enshrine their depravity in law.
And it doesn't stop there. Instead of devoting their attention to Egypt's considerable problems – over-population, homelessness, grinding poverty, corruption, to mention but a fraction – the sexually-depraved misogynist perverts of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi al-Nur Party are launching an all-out onslaught on women's rights in Egypt. As Al-Arabiya put it, in addition to lowering to 14 years the legal age at which girls can marry,
They wish to cancel many, if not most, of the laws that promote women’s rights, most notably a law that allows a wife to obtain a divorce without obstructions from her partner. The implementation of the Islamic right to divorce law, also known as the khula, ended years of hardship and legal battles women would have to endure when trying to obtain a divorce.
Egyptian law grants men the right to terminate a marriage, but grants women the opportunity to end an unhappy or abusive marriages without the obstruction of their partner. Prior to the implementation of the khula over a decade ago, it could take 10 to 15 years for a woman to be granted a divorce by the courts.
While I feel sick at the mindless self-indulgence of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis, I am also happy that the Islamists have embarked on a course that will eventually result in their political annihilation. In Egypt as in the rest of the Arab world, those who voted for the Islamists will have to taste their bitter poison before turning against them. In this way, the Islamists will eventually achieve what Ben Ali, Mubarak and Gaddafi failed to do with their repressive apparatuses. They will self-destruct.
In the interest of fairness, I would highly recommend reading this related article, "Egypt 'necrophilia law'? Hooey, utter hooey", published in the Christian Science Monitor (CSM).
I agree with CSM about media that publish and regurgitate stories without bothering to check the facts. However, one reason for this - which is also the reason why I published my blog post - is that, despite this story being reported in the Egyptian and international media, neither the Muslim Brotherhood nor the Salafis of al-Nur Party have denied it. They must know the damage it is doing to them, to Egypt and, indeed, to Islam as a whole, yet not a murmour of denial. So, what are we left to conclude other than that it is true?
An article in the British newspaper the Guardian on 12 April carried the headline: "Cameron calls on Islam to embrace democracy and reject extremism".
It said that the UK prime minister, who was on a visit to Indonesia, intended to declare in a speech that "Democracy and Islam can flourish together" and to tell the Muslim world that it can reject a "dead-end choice" between extremism and dictatorship.
Whose "Islam" was Cameron intending to address and who represents it? Is it the "Islam" of Saudi Arabia and its Wahhabi-Salafi retards? The relatively progressive "Islam" of Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the ruling Turkish Justice and Development Party? Or the Islam of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi villagers?
In any case, who does Cameron think is listening to him? Me? Al-Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri, Moroccan Justice and Charity Party leader Abdesslam Yassine or Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Egyptian Islamic theologian?
Yet, no one seems to be asking these questions. There is no single, agreed-upon version of "Islam". Muslims come in all shades of opinion and subscribe to radically different definitions of what constitutes a Muslim or a true believer.
A Muslim born and bred in Morocco has as much in common with an Indonesian Muslim as a British Christian has with a Christian from the Philippines.
Just imagine the ridicule that would be generated by a call by, let's say, Erdoğan, for Christendom to embrace ethics in politics.
Grow up, Cameron ‑ and other Western politicians ‑ and for once think and look beyond nonsensical sound bites.