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Archive for February, 2013

The "Harlem Shake" as a Protest Form in Tunisia and Egypt

February 28th, 2013 Comments off

There’s a quote attributed to the anarchist and revolutionary Emma Goldman: “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” She apparently never exactly said that, but it’s a revealing remark.

On the other hand, the latest trend in Arab revolutionary activism seems something else again. The “Harlem Shake,” a dance craze that started earlier this month on YouTube, and has joined “Gangnam Style” as something for various groups in various countries to emulate with their own local interpretation, has now created controversy, and some clashes and arrests,  in both Tunisia and Egypt.  The latest move came this afternoon when demonstrators in Cairo announced they would do the Harlem Shake in front of Muslim Brotherhood headquarters, with one explaining:

Abdallah Salman, dressed in a Mickey Mouse mask and an Egyptian galabeya, said he came mainly to “have fun”. He said that after exhausting all the means, he is now resorting to a new way of protesting. “We have
tried revolution, marches, strikes, and now we’re trying something new,” Salman added.

Already at least four Egyptian pharmacy students have been arrested, apparently for dancing in their underwear,  while in Tunisia, in Tunis and in Sidi Bouzid, protestors trying to film the dance have clashed with Salafis who consider it immoral.

What to make of all this? Youthful exuberance meeting Islamist puritanism and creating conflict? A new revolutionary tactic or just silliness? I have to admit it doesn’t seem to rank up there with storming the Bastille in terms of effectiveness, and especially in a conservative society like Egypt’s it may alienate many people.

This is the film that started the controversies in Tunisia:

And here’s an Egyptian one filmed at the pyramids:


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The deputy secretary-general of the UN speaks on Lebanon (Feltman is now the secretary-general)

February 28th, 2013 Comments off
“U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon warned Lebanese leaders Wednesday that they must adhere to their declared neutrality on the Syrian civil war.   The advice came amid reports that the fighting could spill over the border into Lebanon.   “The reported involvement of certain Lebanese elements in the conflict in Syria is contrary to Lebanon’s policy of disassociation,” Ban said in a report to the U.N. Security Council.   The U.N. secretary general expressed “grave concern” at reports of Lebanese being killed in Syria and “further deaths of Hezbollah members fighting inside Syria.”   “The dangers for Lebanon of such involvement and indeed of continued cross-border arms smuggling are obvious. I call upon all Lebanese political leaders to ensure that Lebanon remains neutral in respect of external conflicts,” Ban said.”  What business is it for Ki-moon, to comment on Lebanese foreign policy?  And what business is it for Ki-moon if a member of the UN does not want to pursue a policy of neutrality?  I mean, would he dare say that US lack of neutrality in the Arab-Israeli conflict has been disastrous for the US?  He would be locked up in Guantanamo.   Also, how come he only named Hizbullah members but not the scores who were killed from the pro-March 14 Salafite elements??
“The reported involvement of certain Lebanese elements in the conflict in Syria is contrary to Lebanon’s policy of disassociation,” Ban said in a report to the UN security council on Wednesday.
More than 300,000 Syrians have taken refuge in Lebanon, which has been bitterly divided by the 23-month-old conflict.
The UN secretary general expressed “grave concern” at reports of Lebanese being killed in Syria and “further deaths of Hezbollah members fighting inside Syria”.
“The dangers for Lebanon of such involvement and indeed of continued cross-border arms smuggling are obvious. I call upon all Lebanese political leaders to ensure that Lebanon remains neutral in respect of external conflicts,” Ban said.
– See more at: http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/breaking-news/lebanon-must-be-neutral-in-syria-un/story-e6freoo6-1226587562478#sthash.BqJ0Vezh.dpuf
“The reported involvement of certain Lebanese elements in the conflict in Syria is contrary to Lebanon’s policy of disassociation,” Ban said in a report to the UN security council on Wednesday.
More than 300,000 Syrians have taken refuge in Lebanon, which has been bitterly divided by the 23-month-old conflict.
The UN secretary general expressed “grave concern” at reports of Lebanese being killed in Syria and “further deaths of Hezbollah members fighting inside Syria”.
“The dangers for Lebanon of such involvement and indeed of continued cross-border arms smuggling are obvious. I call upon all Lebanese political leaders to ensure that Lebanon remains neutral in respect of external conflicts,” Ban said.
– See more at: http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/breaking-news/lebanon-must-be-neutral-in-syria-un/story-e6freoo6-1226587562478#sthash.BqJ0Vezh.dpuf
“The reported involvement of certain Lebanese elements in the conflict in Syria is contrary to Lebanon’s policy of disassociation,” Ban said in a report to the UN security council on Wednesday.
More than 300,000 Syrians have taken refuge in Lebanon, which has been bitterly divided by the 23-month-old conflict.
The UN secretary general expressed “grave concern” at reports of Lebanese being killed in Syria and “further deaths of Hezbollah members fighting inside Syria”.
“The dangers for Lebanon of such involvement and indeed of continued cross-border arms smuggling are obvious. I call upon all Lebanese political leaders to ensure that Lebanon remains neutral in respect of external conflicts,” Ban said.
– See more at: http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/breaking-news/lebanon-must-be-neutral-in-syria-un/story-e6freoo6-1226587562478#sth
“The reported involvement of certain Lebanese elements in the conflict in Syria is contrary to Lebanon’s policy of disassociation,” Ban said in a report to the UN security council on Wednesday.
More than 300,000 Syrians have taken refuge in Lebanon, which has been bitterly divided by the 23-month-old conflict.
The UN secretary general expressed “grave concern” at reports of Lebanese being killed in Syria and “further deaths of Hezbollah members fighting inside Syria”.
“The dangers for Lebanon of such involvement and indeed of continued cross-border arms smuggling are obvious. I call upon all Lebanese political leaders to ensure that Lebanon remains neutral in respect of external conflicts,” Ban said.
– See more at: http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/breaking-news/lebanon-must-be-neutral-in-syria-un/story-e6freoo6-1226587562478#sthash.BqJ0Vezh.dpuf
“The reported involvement of certain Lebanese elements in the conflict in Syria is contrary to Lebanon’s policy of disassociation,” Ban said in a report to the UN security council on Wednesday.
More than 300,000 Syrians have taken refuge in Lebanon, which has been bitterly divided by the 23-month-old conflict.
The UN secretary general expressed “grave concern” at reports of Lebanese being killed in Syria and “further deaths of Hezbollah members fighting inside Syria”.
“The dangers for Lebanon of such involvement and indeed of continued cross-border arms smuggling are obvious. I call upon all Lebanese political leaders to ensure that Lebanon remains neutral in respect of external conflicts,” Ban said.
– See more at: http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/breaking-news/lebanon-must-be-neutral-in-syria-un/story-e6freoo6-1226587562478#sthash.BqJ0Vezh.dpuf

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US pledges $60 mn additional aid to Syrian rebels

February 28th, 2013 Comments off

ROME – The US Thursday pledged to provide the Syrian opposition with an additional $60 million in assistance and also provide aid like food and medical supplies to rebels battling the regime of …
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Ethiopia Elects its Jerusalem Archbishop as New Patriarch

February 28th, 2013 Comments off

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has elected the Ethiopian Archbishop of Jerusalem, Abune Mathias, as the church’s sixth Patriarch, ironically on the same day Pope Benedict XVI stepped down as Catholic Pope.

Although Ethiopia is not generally considered a Middle Eastern country, the church has many historical links with the Middle East; until 1959, Ethiopia was a daughter church of the Coptic church of Egypt, and its heads were appointed by the Church of Alexandria. Coptic Pope Cyril VI in 1959 recognized Ethiopia as an autocephalous church that elects its own patriarch. During the years of Marxist rule in Ethiopia the church suffered considerably. Mathias spent over 30 years in exile.

Mathias had been serving as well as Archbishop of Jerusalem, where Ethiopia maintains an ancient monastery known as the Deir al-Sultan on the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. A dispute with the Copts over ownership of the key has meant that the monks there who live in considerable poverty, cannot directly access the church below. The dispute remains a divisive issue between the Churches of Egypt and Ethiopia. [UPDATE: See the exchange in the Comments for more on the Ethiopian church.]
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off to Vancouver

February 28th, 2013 Comments off
…off to Vancouver, British Columbia.  Speaking at the University of British Columbia tomorrow night. 

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Restaurant boat sinks in Baghdad; 8 reported dead

February 28th, 2013 Comments off

BAGHDAD (AP) — A crowded floating restaurant loaded with dozens of guests sank in the Tigris River in central Baghdad late Thursday, leaving at least eight people dead and several others missing, according to officials.
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Tens of thousands of Yemenis demand Saleh trial

February 28th, 2013 Comments off

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Tens of thousands of Yemenis held mass rallies in the capital and across the country calling for the prosecution of ousted leader Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is under pressure to leave the country for allegedly hindering democratic transition.
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On the Continuing Role of Sufi Shrines in Tunisia

February 28th, 2013 Comments off

 We’ve reported on a  number of attacks on Sufi shrines by Islamists in various parts of North Africa, where the veneration of saints is widespread but is anathema to Salafis. Here’s a useful recent piece at Tunisia Live on the continuing role of Sufi shrines in that country.

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Indignez-Vous!

February 28th, 2013 Comments off
“In addition to fame, “Indignez-Vous!” brought significant criticism to Mr. Hessel — from those who felt his screed was merely indignant and not in any way prescriptive and especially from those who disagreed with his views on Israel and the Palestinians. Mr. Hessel, whose father was Jewish but whose mother was not, said in interviews that he was a lover and defender of Israel, but he was still accused of anti-Semitism.”

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Palestinian assailed by Israeli women, stripped of hijab

February 28th, 2013 Comments off
 

From Alan:  “In case you missed this story as reported today by Al Akhbar. Please note especially the comment below by the Israeli police officer – disgusting.

Palestinian assailed by Israeli women, stripped of hijab
“A Palestinian woman waiting at a light rail station in Jerusalem on Monday was attacked and stripped of her headscarf by religious Jewish women, Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv reported Tuesday…………….On the day the report was published, Israeli police officer Ariel Shapiro re-posted the article on his Facebook page and issued a chilling endorsement: “Very good,” wrote Shpiro “It’s a shame that the Arab whore didn’t die.” “

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