Saturday, May 26, 2007

Weekend News Roundup

In this week's news round-up we learn about a sweet drink made from sugarcane, the amazing "breastfeeding" decree update, how some "massacred dogs" garnered international attention, that the Kefaya movement is dead, and a description of the new suburbs in Cairo. Then, as usual, the censorship section.


Memo From Cairo, In a Joyless Time, a City Still Savors Its Sweet Old Self
Published: May 24, 2007

People come from all over for a glass of sweet elixir at The Sons of Saad Afifi, the most popular sugar cane shop in Cairo.
Sugar cane, as its name suggests, is supposed to be a treat. The stalks of cane are grown in the fertile fields along the Nile in Upper Egypt, which is in the south. (The Nile flows north, so down is called up.) Once inside the juice shop, they are run between two steel rollers, each stalk making at least five trips through.
Egypt cleric retracts 'nursing' edict, AFP, May 21, 2007
CAIRO -- A professor at Egypt's Islamic Al Azhar university Monday retracted a controversial religious edict which states that a woman can only be left alone with a strange man if she breastfeeds him.
"When you walk into a government building, you should not be shocked to find a 50-year-old civil servant suckling his colleague," the independent daily Al Dustur said ironically after the fatwa was issued.
Egypt's Dog Massacre Sparks International Uproar, May 23, 2007 12:15 p.m. EST, Manar Ammar - AHN
Cairo, Egypt (AHN) - An unknown number of dogs were reported massacred near the Pyramids road earlier this month. A Canadian tourist took pictures of the slaughter and started a global campaign to stop what she called "the maddening killing of street animals in Egypt." The main picture that is being used for the campaign portrays a pregnant female dog shot in the stomach with the fetus hanging out.
Many Egyptian organizations for animal rights have become angered over the issue and have taken action to ensure this will not happen again. They started by sending letters to the president, the minister of internal affairs, the minister of health and the police force responsible for the killing.

Kefaya Opposition Movement Is Dead: Leading Member, May 22, 2007 4:25 p.m. EST, Joseph S. Mayton - AHN Middle East Correspondent

Egyptian dream takes shape in alien suburbs,
Idealized housing rises on the sand, an escape from crowded Cairo.
By Ashraf Khalil, Times Staff Writer
May 22, 2007

"It's the Americanization of Egypt."

A Dearth of Politics in Booming Dubai
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates --
Mohammed al-Roken is perhaps the most prominent human rights activist in Dubai. That distinction has cost him. He was arrested twice. The government forced him out of his job as a professor, canceled his public lectures and banned him from writing in newspapers. Nine...
Nations Use Fear to Distract From Rights Abuses, Group Says, By Nora Boustany
Washington Post Foreign Service, Thursday, May 24, 2007; Page A18

"The politics of fear is fueling a downward spiral of human rights abuse in which no right is sacrosanct and no person is safe," said Irene Khan, secretary general of the human rights watchdog. Governments are undermining the rule of law and human rights with "short-sighted fear-mongering and divisive policies."
Rising censorship among world's oil powers, from the May 24, 2007 edition, By Sara Miller Llana | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
Venezuela's move to shut down a major TV station parallels recent crackdowns in Iran and Russia.

"Venezuela, Iran, and Russia are part of a syndrome in which oil-rich countries that already have a tendency toward authoritarianism are suddenly enjoying a new kind of political self-confidence," says Thomas Carothers, vice president of international politics and governance at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "They are suddenly sitting pretty, able to buy off opponents – gain the popularity of the public by giving out money. The concentration of oil wealth is increasing their concentration of political power ... and whatever repressive instincts they have are magnified as they strike against independent voices."

Detention of Brotherhood blogger extended, By Alexandra Sandels, First Published: May 23, 2007
Detention of Brotherhood blogger extended for fifteen days for the third time
“Once again, the Egyptian government is prosecuting a journalist because he has reported on human rights abuses in the country. The government should focus its energies on ending the abuses, not silencing those who expose them,” Sarah Leah Whitson of the organization’s Middle East Division stated.
In Azerbaijan, new charge filed against imprisoned editor, New York, May 22, 2007
Azerbaijani authorities have filed a terrorism charge against Eynulla Fatullayev, the imprisoned editor of the independent Russian-language weekly Realny Azerbaijan and the Azeri-language daily Gündalik Azarbaycan, in the latest government action against the journalist and his publications. Fatullayev, a persistent government critic, is already in prison on a specious defamation charge and has received multiple death threats. Over the weekend, government officials sealed his newspapers’ offices.
Realny Azerbaijan is the successor of the opposition weekly Monitor, which was shut down after the unsolved March 2005 assassination of its editor, Elmar Huseynov. Both Realny Azerbaijan and Gündalik Azarbaycan are known for their critical reporting and are widely read in Azerbaijan. In March of this year, Fatullayev received a death threat after accusing Azerbaijani officials of involvement in Huseynov’s killing. The threats have continued even while Fatullayev has been in prison.

Belarusian jailed on spurious charge; ’uncensored swearing’ alleged, New York, March 21, 2007
In the run-up to the February 2006 presidential election, authorities tried to curb coverage of the election by arresting dozens of journalists, including Pochobut, on bogus charges of “using obscene language” and “hooliganism.” Pochobut was sentenced to 10 days in jail for hooliganism.

Darfur: Covering the "forgotten" story, By Lawrence Pintak for Arab Media & Society (25/05/07)

No issue in Arab journalism today is more controversial than how the region's media cover Darfur. From Arab Media & Society.

"Al Jazeera focuses on the human side in Palestine," said al-Gizouli. "So you have to ask why they don't do the same in Darfur. There is a double standard on human feelings. Al Jazeera is operated by Arabs so they show sympathy for the Palestinian and Iraqi people and show the dead babies there, but when it comes to Darfur, they don't. They want to show Arabs always as victims."

As one Egyptian journalist whispered to me in an aside, "You need to know who you are working for." He also said that when he tried to write stories about Darfur from Cairo, his editor would ask suspiciously, "Why are you writing this? What is your motive?"

Al Arabiya Producer Nabil Kassem: Arab media are “living in denial” over Darfur

Picture perfect: How the story of Dubai’s other side can never be told, Courtesy of Dana El-Baltaji, May, 2007.

Assigned to 'investigate' the joys of a luxury Italian cruise: exactly the sort of thing that journalists can get sucked into when working in Dubai.

The result is that Dubai’s stories are rarely told. The truth about the conditions within labor camps throughout the city, where the men who toil for hours in the region’s unforgiving sun live, isn’t exposed. And the women who suffer the injustices of a so-called traditional society, while their men indulge in the freedoms of a modern world, rarely have their say.

But like most journalists, I make mental notes of the laborers forced to defecate on street corners for lack of toilets, and the Emirati woman who calls me once every four or five months to remind me she’s willing to talk, but not today; I hoard these stories, knowing full well that if I pursue them I’ll get barred from the emirate. But I’m waiting for the day I leave and have the freedom to write with the sort of brutal honesty these stories deserve.

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