Against Everyone


More than 20 years ago, when what was later called the black decade started, many Algerians chose to side with those who decided to use violence against the Pouvoir, or the state if you wish. These Algerians didn’t take an active role, I mean they didn’t join those who became the terrorists, but they were glad the Pouvoir was targeted through what they thought were its agents (army, police, gendarmerie, press, etc.), and they thought the victims deserved their fate as they defended the Pouvoir elhaggar. Some of these terrorists’ supporters didn’t even share their “champions”‘ ideology and could have been among their victims but they hated the Pouvoir so much that they were ready to give a hand to the devil in order to suppress it. They chose a side.

Considering the unfortunate events in Syria, I am amazed by how easily people decide which side they support. I am not talking of those who live survive in Syria, I am not even talking of Syrians living abroad. I believe these two groups are the ones concerned by what is happening in their country and, perhaps, they ought to choose a side and they do not do it that easily. I am talking of the people in the street or on the internet. Continue reading

Islamic feminism, blue bras and lollipops


On the occasion of International Women’s Day of this year, I have chosen to speak about various ‘feminist’ movements in the Muslim world in general. Many Muslims do not like the term ‘feminism’. The easiest way to discredit a movement in the Muslim world is to link it to the secular West. It is amusing to observe how Muslims seem sometimes more inclined to sympathize with the ideas of the extremist Christian right than with secular movements. Not to say that the Christian right doesn’t have any acceptable ideas from an Islamic perspective, but just to highlight the tendency to distrust anything that is tagged as ‘liberal’, ‘secular’ or even ‘democratic’. This is perhaps why the Islamic feminist movement has had relatively Continue reading

What’s Al Jazeera’s Agenda for Algeria?


Many videos on youtube speak about Al Jazeera’s coverage of the Arab Spring events. This channel based in Qatar has been accused by many as being a collaborator with ‘foreign agents’ working to destabilize the region and serve the interests of foreign powers. I am posting here a specimen of such videos which I chose because it speaks specifically about what Al Jazeera’s plans are for Algeria:

The clip is from a Continue reading

The Case Of Hamza Kashgari


Hamza Kashgari is a 23-year old Saudi poet and writer who has been involved in a big media frenzy after some tweets he’d published on the run-up to Mawlid. The tweets were an imaginary conversation, in Arabic, Kashgari was having with Prophet Mohamed (pbuh):

On your birthday, I will say that I have loved the rebel in you, that you’ve always been a source of inspiration to me, and that I do not like the halos of divinity around you. I shall not pray for you.

On your birthday, I find you wherever I turn. I will say that I have loved aspects of you, hated others, and could not understand many more.

On your birthday, I shall not bow to you. I shall not kiss your hand. Rather, I shall shake it as equals do, and smile at you as you smile at me. I shall speak to you as a friend, no more.

Hours after he published the tweets, Kashgari apologized and fled to Malaysia, en route to Continue reading

The Politics of Prayer


This news story is quite interesting on many accounts, not just the purposeful image of uninterested and dosing Salafi MPs that Reuters chose to append to the linked article. I was particularly fascinated by the indignation it caused in Egyptian media circles and even the Islamist Speaker himself who reprimanded the culprit quite forcefully. The ‘culprit’ is Mamdouh Ismail; a Salafi MP in the recently ‘elected’ Egyptian Parliament. He is accused of irrespectfully breaking into the Muslim formal call for prayer (a’then) during a parliamentary session. Ismail later said that this wasn’t as purely provocative as it might first appear, as he had asked on many previous occasions, together with other MPs, that prayer times should be respected according to the Islamic tradition but was systematically ignored. He said that what he did was Continue reading

Has Amr Khaled found the solution?


We read in Sahih Muslim the following hadith:

Hanzala reported: We were in the company of Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) and he delivered to us a sermon and made a mention of Hell-Fire.
Then I came to my house and began to laugh with my children and sport with my wife. (Hanzala) further reported: I went out and met Abu Bakr and made a mention of that to him. Thereupon he said: I have done the same as you have mentioned. So we went to see Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) and said to him: Allah’s Messenger, Hanzala has turned to a hypocrite. And he (the Holy Prophet) said: Show respite. And then I narrated to him the story, and Abu Bakr said: I have done the same as he has done. Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: Hanzala, there is a time for worldly affairs and a time for (worship and devotion), and if your state of mind is always the same as it is at the time of remembrance of Allah, the Angels would shake hands with you and would greet you on the path by saying: As-Salamu-Alaikum. Book 037, Number 6624

Continue reading

Make love, not war!


Today is what is known as  Saint Valentine’s day in the Western culture and also in the Muslim world for that matter. The Western press has been buzzing with a general and intoxicating feeling of love and affection, whilst the Arab press is torn over more profoundly existential questions such as what the word love really means and whether it needs to be allocated a special day to be celebrated? Some others have raised the concern that this celebration might well be, indeed definitely is haram in Islam. Many observe that it is a profitable commercial occasion to boost local economies, and help oppressed people forget about tragedies such as war, albeit temporarily. Even the religious websites such as islamonline.net are buzzing with love-themed fatwas’. I am however quite proud of our local press which yet again, has dealt with this crisis in the same cool-headed and composed manner it has dealt with the Egyptian crisis over the football match. Even our favourite rag, Echourouk, has not got swayed by the general romantic feeling that is engulfing the globe as we speak. Instead of talking non sense as it usually does about less urgent matters, Echourouk takes love seriously indeed and has decided to mark Saint Valentine’s with one of best articles I have read in a long time from a purely journalistic perspective:

نجوم الخضر المحترفون متزوجون وهم في العشرينات من العمر

بينما اللاعبون المحليون مازالوا عزّبا ما بعد الثلاثين

This is an ingenious article which addresses with a typical algerian subtlty the problem of love in Algeria, brings to attention the many socio-economic barriers which prevent the fullfilment of this noble feeling and reminds us that love flourishes in other shores where no such barriers exist! All wrapped up in a football themed package! A definite winner.

(I am painfully aware how shallow and superficial this post is compared to MnarviDZ’s more meaty posts, but I am confident it will all be forgiven on account of me being a silly woman. Thank you, thank you.)

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Arabs and debates


I watched once a debate with the Algerian caricaturist Dilem. The debate was on a French channel and I remember I was struck by the difference in style, technics and construction between Dilem and the other French guests. And though Dilem had some good arguments, I had the feeling he was just unable to express them and make his point.

I am of course not talking of the way we Algerians talk, using our hands and all the body language stuff. I don’t think this is bad per se and it is probably related to what we call the mediterranean specificity. I am referring to our inability to express ourselves and also to handle a free debate. We lack this culture of dialogue where you are allowed and even encouraged to express yourselves, are listened to and then are given a feedback.

It seems like facing a counter-argument is felt like a personal attack which makes us lose control, and the debate would soon turn into a dialogue of deaf.

This is not specific to the Algerians and the same comment can be applied on the other Arabs. Just watch the many debates on the Arab news channels and you’ll get an idea of what I mean.

A recent Kuwaiti study gave the below results.

أظهرت دراسة علمية كويتية أن 70 في المائة من العرب المشاركين في البرامج الحوارية التلفزيونية “لا يتحلون بآداب المقاطعة والحوار كترديد كلمات تنم عن لباقة في الحوار عندما يضطرون الى مقاطعة محدثهم.”

ونقلت صحيفة “القبس” تصريح معد الدراسة الكاتب الكويتي، محمد النغيمش، لوكالة “كونا”، وقال فيه إنه تبين أن الرجال أكثر مقاطعة من النساء بنسبة 88 في المائة مقابل 53 في المائة.

وأضاف أن كثرة المقاطعات “تشتت أفكار المتحاورين وتربكهم”، ووصف نتائجها بأنها انعكاس لأزمة الحوار والإنصات في العالم العربي. Continue reading

Has losing a football match alone managed to shake Egypt’s national ego?


A Nation’s Shaken Ego Seen in a Soccer Loss is the title of an article which was published a couple of days ago in the New York Times. I am not sure whether the writer was incredulous or whether I projected my own incredulity at the Egyptian reaction on the article, but it is clear that foreign observers who are living in Egypt (like journalists who report from Cairo) seem to regard the Egyptian reaction to that fateful football match against Algeria worthy of news-reporting and analysis. I am still skeptical about whether all this really means something more than deep disappointment at losing a football match – after all, an already-miserable person with very little hope will alwas be more likely to exhibit violent emotions (whether at the positive or negative ends of the emotions scale). Football is one of these games which has the ability to drive people, from all classes, mad. So in my view, the Egyptians are behaving like football fans because very little else seems to persuade them to mobilise at such a national scale and complain or rejoice. It has to be mostly about football. This of course does not deny the fact that Egyptians suffer from many problems, but we have to be careful not to confuse corelation with causality. The Guardian dedicated a couple of contrasting commentaries on the issue, one of the view that there is no need to point the finger at deeper ills because “the violence in Cairo was just thuggery cynically fomented by President Mubarak” and the other of the opposite view that there’s “more to Egypt’s riots than football“. Am more inclined to agree with Mayton (the writer of the first article).

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Algerians are like the Jews, and Egypt is like the US. Are you sure?


The original title of the article was “Is it because of our history that we ask: why do they hate us?” but I thought the comparisons the experts made in the article deserved to be put as a title for this post.

The article was published on 29 November in Akhbar Elyom newspaper and written by Ahmad Naji. I copy it here.

بعد أحداث الحادي عشر من سبتمبر انشغلت وسائل الإعلام الأمريكية إلي جانب تغطية الحدث بسؤال آخر  ” لماذا يكرهوننا؟ ” والضمير هنا قد يعود علي المسلمين أو العرب أو العالم . وكانت الإجابات التي يتم طرحها  غالباً  من نوعية  ” أنهم يحقدون علينا ” ،  ” يشعرون بالغيرة من مستوي الرفاهية والتقدم الذي نعيش فيه ” ،  ” لأننا أصحاب الدور الثقافي الأقوي تأثيراً  في العالم ” إلي آخره من إجابات تعلي من شأن الذات وتضفي عليها سمات الملائكية في مقابل الآخر الحاقد الكاره متغاضية عن الدور السياسي والثقافي السلبي الأمريكي علي العالم .
وبعد أحداث مباراة الخرطوم المصرية الجزائرية انتقل خطاب الهزيمة الأمريكية إلي مصر،  حيث الجزائريون الحاقدون الذين كانت المباراة بمثابة فرصة ليعلنوا عن حقدهم اتجاه مصر الأهرامات والنيل،  ولترد مصر من جهتها بقوتها الناعمة في حملات مقاطعة فنية وثقافية وبرامج تنكل بكل ما هو جزائري أو أخضر . لكن بعيداً  عن هذه الحرب الإعلامية  فالأزمة الحالية هي فرصة لإعادة تقييم طبيعة العلاقات الثقافية المصرية العربية، والدور الثقافي المصري الذي يري د.سامر سليمان أستاذ الإقتصاد السياسي بالجامعة الأمريكية أنه قد ساهم بشكل مباشر في اشتعال الأحداث الأخيرة .
يميز سامر بين إيجابيات الدور المصري وسلبياته حيث يري أن الدور الثقافي المصري طوال الوقت كان مزدوجاً . ففي الجزائر مثلا ساعدت الثقافة المصرية علي إظهار العنصر العروبي وترسيخه في صورة الهوية الجزائرية،  لكن هذا الأمر أتي علي حساب مكونات آخري للهوية الجزائرية كالمكون الأمازيغي،  والفرنسي . ويضيف سامر  ” لا تنس أيضاً  أن المنتجات الثقافية المصرية التي  نصدرها للجزائر وغيرها من الدول العربية لم تكن دائماً  جيدة،  بل علي العكس كان هناك الكثير من المنتجات الفنية الثقافية والفنية التافهه كالمسلسلات التلفزيونية مثلاً . لذلك ستجد أن موقف الكثير من المثقفين الجزائريين والعرب من الثقافة المصرية مثل موقف المثقفين الأوربيين من الثقافة الأمريكية فالاثنان يصدران الكثير من المنتجات الفنية التافهه والمبتذلة “. Continue reading