US attitude towards Mubarak, Islamists and Israel

Category: , , , , , , By freshouttatime

US Admin preparing for post Mubarak Egypt, and the spectre of Islamism for Israel

  1. http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/01/31/a_realist_policy_for_egypt
    • Walt writes that supporting democratic change is the realist position to take. A domestically stable Egypt; makes for a better US regional ally and serves other US goals for the region- counterterrorism, headway into a two state solution to name a couple.
    • With regards to Israel, Egypt would not venture to change their peace treaty with Israel anytime soon, as it lacks military parity with Israel itself, would likely be cut off from US funding. In the face of food shortage and unemployment, drastic foreign policy adjustments probably rank last on the list of priorities.
  2. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/02/opinion/02Halevi.html?_r=1
    • This piece sheds light on Israeli concerns of a Muslim Brotherhood regime in the Post Mubarak era. While many argue that the US attitude towards Egypt is of high concern to Israel’s national security, I’d say that Israeli commentators/officials are overreacting.
    • Piece claims that Muslim Brotherhood will seize power through a façade of cooperation; and call for the end of Israel. Isn’t this the kind of mistrust that led to Gaza after the 2006 HAMAS elections?
  3. http://www.juancole.com/2011/02/why-egypt-2011-is-not-iran-1979.html
    • Cole repudiates the monopolizing role MB would play in Egypt. Egypt is not Iran for several reasons, and he breaks down the different classes involved in both revolutions.
    • I’m getting to pieces that directly address concerns of an Islamist take over; these are just appetizers!
  4. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/02/how-the-white-house-approached-egyptial-turmoil/70646/
    • A telling piece on the Obama administration’s handling of the revolution, and disowning of Mubarak. Obama will not directly influence the selection of the new regime, but will ensure that US interests (Israeli security priority 1) are met by it.
    • The relationship of importance is the Military- the ‘caretaker of the state’ who is the major recipient of US aid. Ultimately, no regime cannot afford to take an anti-Israeli stance due to dependence on aid, intl treaties etc, and the Military presumably will make sure it will never get that far anyway.
  5. http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=37443&tx_ttnews[backPid]=7&cHash=72961f54f9
    • A series of scenarios of the post revolution landscape. Keeping with the theme, Islamists pose no threat of militancy, and are highly unlikely to break intl treaties.
    • Dominant theme has been the presence of the military in preventing foreign infiltration, and maintenance of stability. Opposition parties are poorly funded/organized and Egypt is already a deep state making it likely that whatever regime emerges has to be with the blessing of the military.

analyses on today’s Tahrir Square clashes up next

 

Egypt 2011

Starting 1/25/11 Egypt has been undergoing a popular revolt intending to end Hosni Mubarak’s 30+ year state of emergency rule. After days of demonstrations and violence against protestors, President Mubarak stated on 2/1/11 he will remain in power, amidst eruption of violent protests throughout the country. Several actors are involved- not in the least the Military, Mubarak’s successor Suleiman, Opposition leader elBaradei, Israeli security interests, the US, and of course the Egyptian people.

 

here are pieces that educated me on the subject

  1.  http://www.counterpunch.org/alamin02012011.html
    • This piece sheds light on the April 6th Youth movement. The April 6th group organized the initial protests on January 25th, and thousands of others joined in the days that followed.
    • Asserts Israeli security interests as the reason why the US has not directly disowned Mubarak. I disagree, US has implicitly left Mubarak, but for political interests elsewhere have not said so explicitly.
  2. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/01/27/egypt_s_struggle_for_freedom
    • Yasser el-Shimy talks about the economic conditions and failure of Egyptian state to provide for its people.
    • Talks about the growing number of participants from all ends of the spectrum. This revolution is real and will ensure Egypt’s future will not resemble the last 3 decades.
  3. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/28/world/middleeast/28mubarak.html?_r=1
    • Article claims regime is in full control, no inherent danger of losing power. Will drag on civil unrest until people get exhausted and concede to regime.
    • Civil society has been weakened over the course of 30 years and apart from protesting have no tools to call for change. What about the military? Onto the next article!
  4. http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-01-31/egypt-s-military-tightens-control-over-regime.html
    • Mubarak makes deft moves in appointing Omar Suleiman as VP and Ahmed Shafik as PM; both ex military guys. Military is deeply entrenched in the government, retired officers hold gov positions, and have financial incentives.
    • Essentially, the army is the key figure in determining the next face of Egypt.
  5. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/21fc84d6-2caa-11e0-83bd-00144feab49a.html#axzz1ClJ0PoiG
    • Questions whether or not the inner circle chiefs will obey Mubarak or operate in self interest, (support protestors in ousting Mubarak fully). US behavior towards Mubarak functions as a gauge.
    • Whether elBaradei and the opposition or Suleiman’s regime; the army will determine the face of post-Mubarak Egypt.
  6. http://bostonuniversity.blogspot.com/2011/01/egypt-sentiments-vs-advice.html#more
    • Norton gives attention to the variety of opposition parties and their stake in determining egypt’s fate. Notes Muslim Brotherhood still biggest opposition group.
    • Muhammad elBaradei has been recognized as the representative of several opposition parties. expected to be involved in transitional talks.
 

9/13/96

Category: , , , , , , By freshouttatime

Maybe I was just a lost soul, trapped in time…

Livin in between life, and the cracks were blind

I discovered 2pac around 9 years old. Hearing ‘dear mama’ on the radio and seeing a music video that did not at all feature the man himself. I heard somewhere that he was in jail but I was too young to care or realize why. Over the next couple years before he died, several of his songs were radio hits. But like most folks of my generation I didn’t key in on him until he was resurrected from the dead through 1998’s Greatest Hits and Changes.

Going against the grain, I did hear all the tracks on Greatest Hits, but devoted most of my energies to learning his other albums. I was really moved by his ‘me against the world’ and ‘i will never understand this society’ attitude; it resonated with my figuring out who i was in my religion, family and community.

Words like ‘out on bail- fresh outta jail- california dreamin’ gave him the crown of the hip hop world, but I was stuck on lines like: 'what is it we all fear- reflections in the mirror- we can’t escape fate- the end is getting nearer

It was peculiar how all his contradictions were on display. He surrounded himself with money, weed, women, and cars. Yet at the same time he rapped about an uneasiness with it all- and that intrigued me. For someone who’s life was cut at 25, I was taught well enough to expect very little intellectual contributions from someone so young. 2pac himself remarked his role as only being a spark for individuals who would change the world. Yet humans are not so simple to be summed up in one sentence.

Driven by my ambitions, desire higher positions, I proceed to make g’s

Eternally my mission, is to be more than just a rap musician

The elevation of today’s generation, if I could make them listen

It was in his charisma, his gift for dramatization and very real vulnerability that drew people to him. There was more to him than his music and his gang banging persona, he played the role of big brother, son, and self appointed savior of hip hop. The same man who wrote odes to his mother and his sister also penned the words envisioning the death of his east coast ‘rivals’. It was his inability to maintain so many masks that led to his tragic death.

I will always have him in my mind as the one who knew how fleeting this world was, one who was driven by his passions but could rarely reign it all in. He was a source for raw energy, but did not always use it in the best manner.

My attitude got me walkin solo, ride out alone in my lo-lo

Watchin the whole world move in slow-mo

For quiet times, disappear, listen to the ocean

smoke my ports, think my thoughts, then its back to coastin

I feel alot of people, myself no doubt included, get caught in the affairs of life. Among them are people aware of the fading world and striving to come to terms with the truth and whatever is after death. It scares me still that the ones who strive between the distractions of the world and the ever lasting truth are in danger of getting lost so easily- That I will meet my end, before I’ve truly come to terms with my creator.

I remember the day he died, it was on the back of a NY newspaper that my uncle brought over; I read the article and was so sad. How could the guy who wrote that song about his moms, get shot in the lungs and go out like that? I felt pity for him then, and even more so now as I’m approaching his age.

I will not tell you to go and listen to his music; in fact I would recommend against it. Getting to know his life and getting distracted in the world of hiphop are two separate matters. Take note however, that a generation ago, Tupac Shakur captivated millions- those who knew him while alive and many more now who knew him in death. Perhaps some of us will recognize 2pac as another sign for all that is strange with this world.

I will ask that you remember him in your prayers, because he was loved by so many. May God have mercy on him!

og small image 

Meet me at the cemetery dressed in black

Tonight we honor the dead, those who won't be back

So if I die do the same for me, shed no tears

 

The American Muslim Scene 2010- Diversity in the American Muslim subculture

Category: , , , , By freshouttatime

Starting around 2006, it was starting to be cool to be Muslim, the Kiffayah was officially inducted into Hipster fashion, rappers like Lupe Fiasco were putting out songs called “Muhammad Walks” and a Canadian show called Little Mosque on the Prairie was getting noticed around the country.

Recently, shooting hoops in a suburban Long Island park, once the locals found out the Muslim kids went to pray, they responded, perhaps a little too mockingly “Assalaam alaykum”

To me, all these are signs of a growing stream of Muslims consciousness in the social fabric. Any publicity is good publicity. In this case, the more American Muslims are in the public eye, the less society will associate Islam with something from overseas and something a bit closer to home. I can only pray that it isn’t something terribly negative.

While a recent LA Times article on ‘Ramadan time Muslims’ may be unsettling for a Muslims who think the vast majority of Muslims are socially conservative and religiously orthodox; the inverse seems closer to the truth. The majority of Muslims, like folks of any religious tradition lean on to the ‘secular’ side of the scale, rather than the religiously conservative end.

Secular <---Socially Liberal---Moderate---Socially Conservative--->Orthodox

Hmm this scale can be applied to any religious tradition no?

As this fact begins to dawn on the orthodox self-appointed vanguard of Muslims in America; Islamic centers, organizations and community leaders can start to be more accepting of the existing Muslim punk music scene, or Fatiha the Muslim version of the LGBT. Accepting doesn’t mean agreeing with views or a position, but its more so an exercise in accepting differences in a vibrant civil society. Every immigrant community goes through this, and it is exciting to see the emergence of so many different stances and folks still identifying themselves as Muslim.

To end, I’d like to recommend two creative and humorous projects that lean towards the Moderate/Conservative end of things; but nonetheless are genuine expressions of an American Muslim subculture.

Ramadaning – Hilarious anecdotes of Muslims as they continue their spiritual journey of fasting in the American wilderness

30 Mosques – Follow two fellows journey through America as they visit a different mosque in a different state every day for the 30 days of Ramadan

 

The American Muslim Scene 2010 – Cordoba Center, New York

Category: , , , , , , , By freshouttatime

salaam salaam its been too long!

We’re in the midst of Ramadan 1431AH/2010CE, and the landscape in America is seeing visible signs of an ever present Muslim population. The next few entries will be discussing milestones of American Muslims in the public sphere.

Politically, the drama couldn’t be any higher surrounding the controversial Cordoba Center- a proposed Islamic cultural center just several blocks away from Ground Zero. According to polls, close to 70% of Americans are against building the institution! What’s unfortunate is that many Republican politicians are justifying the unfounded and bigoted fears people are bringing to the table in regards to its construction.

The President came out strong in supporting the right to religious freedom, but had to back track and pick his words, in order to avoid any political backlash and not come off as picking sides in a ‘regional/local’ debate. It was refreshing however, to have Mayor Bloomberg thrust full support behind the project:

“This nation was founded on the principle that the government must never choose between religions or favor one over another. The World Trade Center site will forever hold a special place in our city, in our hearts. But we would be untrue to the best part of ourselves and who we are as New Yorkers and Americans if we said no to a mosque in lower Manhattan”

While the institution is cleared to be built, what remains to be seen is the social reaction towards an increasingly visible Muslim presence in the public sphere.

 

 

Loonwatch

Its been a while, and many things going on with Muslims.

There's a website www.loonwatch.com which is pretty unique, the writers there are commenting on the seedy world of anti-Muslim rhetoric that exists in various media platforms primarily blogs.Its a much needed commentary site, and they try and tackle modern day polemical writers like the folks over at jihadwatch.

On October 21st, Geert Wilders controversial MP from the Netherlands came to Temple University much to the protests of various student groups on campus.This is the fellow that was behind the film Fitna depicting Muslims and Islam as the source of terrorism, violence and all the radical rhetoric high school teens dream of.Wilder's has gained a reputation as a staunch anti-Islamic figure, and it was David Horowitz of Jihadwatch linkages that sponsored him over at Temple.

Loonwatch noted an article prior to the event that Temple considered canceling the lecture, but in my opinion for the better (though i'm not part of campus/philadelphia city life) Wilders spoke and people were able to judge for themselves how off the mark he really is.

There was a movement to get him to stop speaking, and personal feelings aside, (i dont think highly of wilders at all- obviously) movements to stop him from speaking led to speculation and Temple apparently faced pressures to uphold the right to 'free speech' , even if it is xenophobic, and highly provocative rhetoric. Wilders was met with numerous protestors.

As the comments show, most people realize that this was a good exercise in hearing both sides, no matter how skewed and how negative one side can be.

Seeing first hand at BU, groups protesting against lectures made by pro-Palestinians or Iranians and me being on the other side as in "letting them speak" made me realize it not so much about taking sides on an issue that makes you a better individual, but respecting the right to have someone you disagree with express their discontent. Wilders is a flat out racist in my book, but the potential for a better situation played out; by allowing Wilders speak for 30 minutes, and having what it seems much more protestors outside his event, observers of the situation can conclude on their own, the worth of such a headline grabbing political event.

In the same way the KKK meets in public in NYC, people realize how absurd they are and generally let them assemble, knowing theirs is a futile cause. Jihadwatch, Wilders and the like have the right to believe what they choose when it comes to Islam, but when it comes to pressuring people into adopting their absolutist, axiomatic positions, then further using their resources to create a dangerously hostile attitude towards others, the line must be drawn.

Hats off to Loonwatch for being an alternative, and in the right way against their much more hostile counterparts.

 

Pangs of Hunger while Fasting

Category: , , , , , , , , By freshouttatime

"The spirit as well as the secret of fasting is to weaken the flesh which is Satan's tool for turning men back to evil. Such weakening of the flesh is never achieved unless a person reduces his food to the amount of food which he would have eaten in the evening if he were not fasting."

...

"Among the proprieties of fasting is that the person should not sleep much during the daytime but rather stay up so that he might feel the pangs of hunger and the flames of thirst and become conscious of the weakness of the flesh, with the result that his heart would be cleansed and purified."

-Taken from Ghazali's "Mysteries of Fasting" pp 27-28

 

The French do it again

gotta love parker on this

 

Taken

I started off enjoying this movie even though from the very beginning, it appeared simplistic and highly stylized. Liam Neeson is believable as a man with a dangerous past and one who is rarely unnerved. Maybe its because he'll always be Qui Gon Jinn and Raas Al Ghul to me.

But then I started reading into it and looking for subliminal messages. Here we have a well trained and highly successful CIA operative who retired while in his prime to spend more time with his teenager daughter. Something very heartwarming, cheesy and American-esque to it. Very similar to Rourke's role in "the Wrestler", but instead of seeing Neeson's past like Rourkes, we can only infer how dangerous he used to be.

Neeson expresses distrust and sensitivity to traveling abroad, telling his daughter that he is hypersensitive to the dangers of the world.

"If you see something, say something" anyone?

Of all places, his girl goes to France, the one European country, in social culture Americans are most critical of. While there, his daughter is kidnapped by Albanians, foreigners from further east.

Taken-poster-0 Neeson does his best Bond and Bourne impersonation, disarming and resolving any dilemma that faces him. All without breaking a sweat. He drives nasty cars, utilizes his surroundings, and lifted straight from the Bourne movie trailers- communicates with a crooked French official by spying on him, while the Frenchmen and his cadre are clueless to his whereabouts.

The movie brings consciousness to the large prostitution ring and how girls are abducted and rarely ever found. But it proceeds to give a false sense of empowerment, a combat trained father searches out his daughter, and kills literally everyone involved with the abduction.

The Albanian man whom he interrogates, rightfully garners no sympathy. But Neeson's character electrocutes him until he confesses. Is torture really justifiable even when the suspect is complete scum? He then electrocutes him to death, giving the audience- myself included, a taste of true justice for a man who makes a living in a horrific human trafficking ring.

But seriously, torture appears acceptable when the suspect is clearly guilty, but how about when it gets gray?  Did the movie really just try to desensitize me and make me justify torture?

True to cinematic form, the final antagonist is an arab. A seemingly wealthy shabab is seen bidding for sex slaves, and lo and behold the grand prize is an English speaking, Caucasian, young virgin.

She is scuttled off with two or three more women and it becomes clear that the shabab is a middleman for a much older, much more wealthier father figure. The final battle occurs on a fancy yacht, with Arab security guards armed with semi automatics and a penchant for dying quickly- Except for the shabab. Neeson finally has met his match. They trade blows, Neeson breaks his arm or gets shot, but he gets the better of the feisty Arab. First he shanks him in the heart with a broken wine glass, and then proceeds to castrate the man with his own trusty Arab dagger. You know, the one they all carry for a good "Michael Jackson Beat it" knife fight.

On the real- an insanely wealthy, harem loving Arab? Wielding a dagger? Takes a white woman? I wrote a damn paper on Christian-Muslim polemics dating back to the Crusades where the sole purpose was to vilify the Muslim other, and this has set the tone for European perceptions of the Orient for the last 700 years!

The second I heard al-shabab speak in Arabic, I gave up enjoying the movie.

Its not by chance that cheesy justice, status of torture and ill intended foreigners were the motifs of this film.

I'm also not hyper crazy to consider this as a huge Conspiracy to stereotype oil wealthy Arabs, or defend the use of torture against "suspected Muslim detainees" by its distributor 20th Century Fox ;)

At first glance this movie appeared high on "action", & low on "think". A fastpaced action movie with an actor who, amongst a younger audience is typecast as an all around hero. But the controversial themes it induces you to accept- ever so subtly, is enough for this writer to realize what's actually "Taken" is an audience member's prerogative of human sensitivities.

 

Obama's Inauguration or "how i learned to appreciate Human unity through Mobs"

Pita: F--- obama please tell me u got close to jigga or diddy or even denzel or samuel jackson

Me: Ha ha. Would u really come to the capital of the strongest nation on earth to see the leader or a bunch of celebs

Pita: Jayz has done more for the country than obama so far lol

And so it went. January 20, 2009 a day in history. The air a bit nippier than expected, Barack Hussein Obama was ceremoniously inducted into the oh so rare office of President of the United States.

DC had a really cheery vibe to it; I arrived Sunday afternoon and was flooded with street peddlers selling everything from tshirts, posters, books, pins, hats and wristbands. If the world at large came out to Chinatown, nobody would be questioning a 7.2 Unemployment rate. Trading words with Mohammed Lameen a thirty-something Senegalese man by way of Raleigh, NC; i learned this whole inauguration bit was a good way to make some big bucks. Mohammed had a stand of obama shirts and watches alongside the hundred or so people waiting online to get into the National Archives. In the end I didn't buy the watch since it would have cut my weekend allowance in half, but me and ibba had a good convo with mohammed and continued on our merry way.

People were coming in from all around, I met a Republican out from Cali, people out from Chicago, New Orleans, and more than a few Europeans. Obama-mania reached far and wide. Roughly 1.5 million people showed up for the shabang and not everyone could make it out to the National Mall (including me) to witness obama's swearing in.

I tried dissecting the crowd; why were they there? why was i there?

ibba wisely said that "everyone is projecting their own hopes and aspirations onto obama, they think he will deliver on how they feel what is right"

Thus far, pita was right, obama hasn't done anything...atleast in the public eye.

Meanwhile his rap nemesis jigga jay z hails from 'do or die' bedstuy, owns the rocawear clothing line, owns the NJ Nets, cofounded Roc-a-fella records, and married beyonce - all enough accolades to consider him the one of the most successful rappers ever.

obama on the other-hand grew up in honolulu/jakarta, had a kenyan father and american mother, worked on improving Chicago's South Side, went to Harvard Law, served in the Illinois state senate and US senate pushing for healthcare improvements and welfare reform. His skilled rhetoric  of hope and unity has effectively swept many off their feet and place much optimism in the fate of this nation.

Obama captured the hearts of all people, and we can't get enough of it!

As evangelical extraordinare Rick Warren gave the religious invocation, a woman behind me was praying out loud "God, thank you for Obama, thank you for hope" She was moved to tears, and I couldn't help but feel a little left out.

In his address, Obama tackled the bleary issues; housing and unemployment crisis and the hard months ahead, evils of an abusive corporate world, the war on terror, negotiating with despots, and building bridges with the Muslim world. There was alot to read between the lines, and i'm sure CNN between their coverage of Sasha and Melia's sleepover at the whitehouse can squeeze in an analysis. But i noticed people cheering when Obama uttered 'freedom' or 'liberty' indicating that people are avoiding hard realities, we just came out to feel good.

Unfortunately I missed out on the National Mall, but I found myself on Pennsylvania Avenue awaiting the Presidential Parade down to the White House. For an event that was supposed to kick off at 1430, they started after 1600. That's an hour and a half of restless people just standing and waiting on this bone chilling day. Heck we couldn't even leave the parade route without passing through security checkpoints. Basically if you left before the ceremony started, you would have wasted the 4 hours or more spent trying to get in line.

In those 4 hours I learnt alot. we chatted with our fellow mobbers- families, yuppies, old people, young people you name it. everyone was excited, and everyone wanted to bear witness to the spectacle. For me, i went in precisely to get a glimpse of the cross section of america. I found alot of black people, elderly family people, and twice as many young people. What did it mean for each of us? At the start of an unknown 4 hour queue, everyone seemed happy, chanting, singing, and trading jokes. 3 hours in, people start getting quieter, getting a little pushier. At this point it didn't matter how many people you slipped through, or what barriers you hopped, there was always 100 people in front of you.

Some were blatantly pushing others, while denying it completely. Rumors start spreading that the gates are closed, that what was previously access to the mall, was now access to only the parade route. If you caught a cop or a national guard, they'd all give conflicting answers. To me it felt like a cruel trick, a mass of well meaning people and here we were treated like cattle.

Do you suppose that most of them hear or understand? They are just like cattle. Indeed they are even more astray. 25:44

If it wasn't for the blatant inefficiency of the security, I think i would have enjoyed this alot more. Most of my inauguration day was spent standing and anticipating. It got colder even faster.

By the time Obama made it down to Pennsylvania and 9th, it was 1610. the man was walking down to the 2.2 mile stretch to the White House. For many this was testament that Obama was the real deal and he cared. And while I can't be helped to be warmed by the gesture, it wasn't enough to calm my shivering frame and sore feet. As soon as Obama left my line of sight, me and practically every other black person on the block booked it out of there. The only people left standing were elderly white folk, poor fools. enjoy your parade.

As i regained feeling to my hands and face over some mexican jumbo in a Qdoba (which surprisingly wasn't packed when i got there), i started wondering was my day worth it? The only thing I could remember was the cold and my swollen feet. I forgot about the previous day- an antibush rally in dupont circle, hearing some homeless people talking about a bright american future, signing a blown up constitution, walking along the national mall, taking in the capitol building, the friendly street pushers and a more manageable and less agitated crowd. This city, these people, these rules- lend us a common history, which for better or worse identifies us as the American people.

Obama Mubarak- may God grant him and all of us success.