Saturday, October 20, 2007

Weekend News Roundup

Today's roundup includes and article about King Abdullah's new preppy boarding school in Jordan. For any expat who is dissatisfied with the school options offered in their overseas locale (especially in the Middle East), this school just might turn out to be a great alternative to sending the kids far off, to the the U.K. or U.S.A. for boarding school. Also, a cleric is suing over Egypt's new ban on female genital mutilation; an Egyptian newsman has been missing for four years with neither clues nor media attention; And the usual on the Muslim Brotherhood, Human Rights and Censorship articles.

(Not Deerfield Academy.)
Can Arab Preppies Save the Middle East?

...For Abdullah Ibn Hussein, now known as His Majesty King Abdullah II, the carefree years he spent at Deerfield Academy in western Massachusetts (class of 1980) were formative. Deerfield introduced Abdullah to a much broader range of friends than is normally available to young Arab princes; and the character-building crucible of dormitory life taught him Yankee egalitarianism, self-reliance and how to clear dishes from the dinner table.

In 2006, he lured Deerfield's then headmaster Eric WidmerDeerfield teachers from the green hills of New England to his semi-desert realm with a heady challenge: Create a new generation of Middle Eastern leaders from all backgrounds and faiths whose commitment to global citizenship would help transform the region. King's Academy opened this fall with about 100 students — the first co-educational boarding school in the Middle East. (Victoria College, a boys boarding school founded by the British in Alexandra in 1902, was nationalized and effectively gutted by the Egyptian government in 1956.) Though the students now hail mainly from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Palestine and elsewhere in the Arab Middle East, King's hopes to eventually attract students from Israel and the West as well.

Cairo's Litigious Cleric
Fighting Secularism in Court

CAIRO, Egypt -- Amid a widening cultural war between secular and fundamentalist Muslims, a conservative cleric here is pushing his own courtroom offensive against everything he deems un-Islamic.

More than a decade ago, Yusuf El-Badry -- religious scholar, former parliamentarian and onetime mosque preacher in New Jersey -- pioneered the practice of suing ministers, poets, academics and religious scholars in Egypt's courts to promote his strict interpretation of Islam. The approach was simple and often effective: use Egypt's legal system, which is based on Western and Islamic law and is mostly independent, to counter what he sees as a dangerous wave of secularism.

Last month, Mr. El-Badry went to court to contest a government ban on female circumcision, a popular practice here. Meanwhile, a recent libel ruling in his favor has Cairo's intellectual elite up in arms.

The Forgotten Man

Despite appearances, Helal, a senior editor at Egypt’s leading daily, the Arabic-language Al-Ahram, seems no closer to returning home than he did on the sweltering summer day of August 11, 2003. That afternoon, Helal was said to have headed home from a routine day at Al-Ahram. And then he simply vanished. No one has heard from him since, and there are few clues as to his fate.

Despite Egypt’s shoddy human rights and press freedom record, the “enforced disappearance” or murder of a journalist is rare. One involving senior staff at a prominent, pro-government paper such as Al-Ahram—its chief editor is appointed by President Hosni Mubarak—is unheard of. Helal’s family and a few journalists have searched for answers to no avail, and Egypt’s vast security apparatus claims it hasn’t been able to crack the case. The near-total absence of information about his fate has perplexed and unsettled Egyptian journalists.

Whatever role Egyptian security may or may not have played in Helal’s disappearance, many observers find it difficult to believe that the authorities have no information about the editor’s fate. Egypt’s multilayered security apparatus is among the most sophisticated and omnipresent in the region, employing thousands of agents and informants. The area where Helal was said to have gone missing is regarded as one of the most secure in the entire city.

On August 11, 2007, the silence continued as the fourth anniversary of Helal’s disappearance passed largely unnoticed. Before his death, Nobel laureate Mahfouz wrote a short, dream-like narrative about a missing man, whom biographer Stock identified as Helal. In “Dream 151”—included in the compilation Dreams of Departure translated by Stock—the author writes: “Under the tree we would sit with him, for evenings of both enjoyment and of learning, when once he excused himself in order to take his medicine. He went up to his flat—but didn’t come back. When one of us went to check on him, he found the apartment locked up tight from the outside. So began a fruitless search for him in all his haunts, as anxiety gripped us all equally—those who loved him, and those who hated him, and those who were indifferent to him, as well. Meanwhile, at our mosque, the imam led the Prayer for the Absent on the soul of the one who was no longer seen.”

Unmasking Egypt's Islamists?
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has some explaining to do.

On Human Rights, U.S. Seems to Give Egypt a Pass

Democracy campaigners in Egypt say that while Washington may criticize Egypt’s human rights failings, it does little to follow up to ensure results.

With Mr. Nour in prison and Mr. Ibrahim on the run, with a human rights organization recently shut down, with journalists being imprisoned, with arrests of those out of step with the government, there is little evidence that Egypt — or any other nation in the region — is under any real American pressure for democratic reforms and human rights.

An explanation on why the sky was so overcast earlier this week here in Cairo: "Black Cloud" Of Pollution Hits Cairo Once Again

Cairo, Egypt (AHN) - Several Egyptian cities are suffering from what people are calling "the black cloud" for the ninth year in a row. The rice peel burning season has started and cities like Cairo and Delta region cities Gharbiya and Domiyat are being hit hard. Farmers claim that they burn the rice peels because the government doesn't supply them with any other options.

Cairo is one of the most polluted cities worldwide.

A recent study found the burning of leftover waste causes 36 percent of Cairo's pollution, industrial exhaust contributes to 32 percent, car exhaust accounts for 26 percent, while agriculture disposal burnings add only 6 percent to the problem.

Discovering Egypt's hidden treasures

“In Egypt, anything is possible, with a little bit of money,” says John Fareed, a partner in U.S.-based marketing firm Fareed & Zapala. Half-Egyptian, Fareed summered in Egypt as a child and still travels there frequently for work. When last in Cairo, he took a private tour with an independent guide who checked out well with his hotel concierge. After visiting a few of the major attractions, the guide brought him to a working archaeological dig, and for an extra fee of approximately $40, got him access inside and permission to shoot flash photography.

So both your parents were born in Egypt, were you born in Egypt?

Hoda: No I was born in Oklahoma. Grew up some in Morgantown, West Virginia, and mainly in Alexandria Virginia. And we went overseas back and forth. We lived in Egypt for a year, and Nigeria.

Crackdowns On Bloggers Increasing, Survey Finds

Government repression in some countries has shifted from journalists to bloggers, with the vitality of the Internet triggering a more focused crackdown as blogs increasingly take the place of mainstream news media, according to Lucie Morillon, Washington director of the advocacy group Reporters Without Borders.

"Countries that were not sentencing journalists to prison terms anymore have been doing it these last months for bloggers. This is the case in Egypt and Jordan," she said yesterday as the group released its sixth annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index. Egypt ranked 146th and Jordan 122nd in press freedom among the 169 countries for which data were available.

Iceland topped the list for press freedom in the survey, and Eritrea ranked last.

Yes, this happened in the old U.S. of A: Journalists Briefly Face Charges in Arizona

PHOENIX, Oct. 19 -- The two owners of the nation's largest chain of alternative weekly newspapers were arrested and jailed late Thursday after publishing the contents of a grand jury subpoena seeking, among other information, details on each and every reader who logged on to a Phoenix newspaper Web site since 2004.

This afternoon, after local residents and national First Amendment advocates voiced outrage over what they viewed as an effort to intimidate a newspaper critical of a local official, Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas announced that no charges would be filed against the executives or their reporters and that a special prosecutor hired to investigate the newspaper for possible criminal violations is being fired.

The arrests of Michael Lacey, 59, executive editor of Village Voice Media, and Jim Larkin, 58, the chain's chief executive, followed an Oct. 18 article that appeared under their bylines in Phoenix New Times, the company's Phoenix newspaper. The article included a copy of the grand jury subpoena that had been issued in August seeking information about reports the newspaper had published concerning Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's real estate holdings.

Arpaio, sometimes called "the toughest sheriff in America," had long been the focus of Phoenix New Times articles, including revelations of unusual deaths in the sheriff's jails. The article on his real estate holdings included a notation of the sheriff's home address.

In addition to reporters' notes and other documents on the internal workings of the newspaper, the grand jury subpoena demanded "the Internet Protocol address of anyone who accessed the Phoenix New Times Website from January 1, 2004 to the present," and the site users visited "prior to coming to the paper's website."

The subpoena also told the newspaper executives that disclosure of any grand jury proceeding, including receipt of the subpoena, was a crime. When the newspaper published an article about it, the two executives were arrested.

An Assault on Media Diversity and Democracy

...Bush's chairman of the Federal Communications Commission has initiated a scheme to radically rewrite media ownership rules so that one corporation can own the daily newspapers, the weekly "alternative" newspaper, the city magazine, suburban publications, the eight largest radio stations, the dominant broadcast and cable television stations, popular internet news and calendar sites, billboards and concert halls in even the largest American city.

This "company-town" scheme, which would be achieved by lifting current limits on media cross-ownership, is the long-held dream of media moguls such as NewsCorp's Rupert Murdoch and Tribune Company-buyer Sam Zell. With one FCC vote, media billionaires will be able to become media multi-billionaires by controlling the entire communications landscapes of major metropolitan areas -- and by extension whole regions and states.

No comments:

Post a Comment