Happy holidays and have a kick-ass wonderful new year everyone. I’m super pumped up about 2011, and I hope you are too. 2010 was big in terms of news. (Which year isn’t?)
We’ve learned that George W. Bush doesn’t feel bad about waterboarding, but instead mourned the terrible, terrible moment when Kanye West pretty much implied that he’s a racist bitch. Boohoo, how mean of Kanye West to say that!
We’ve also learned that President Obama enjoys talking about his big audacious goals and getting everyone excited more than actually implementing them. Still, I prefer Obama, even though I have mixed feelings about how he, as Sandmonkey highlighted, has pretty much sold out on democracy promotion in favor of regional stability.
If anything though, this whole WikiLeaks affair has probably been the biggest and most mind boggling thing ever. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an issue that has confused Americans as much as this one.
Julian Assange is a terrorist! Assassinate that dog! Julian Assange is a hero! Yes, Michael Moore, help pay for his bail!
Jeez. In order to get down to the bottom of this topic, I think people need to answer one main question. Can WikiLeaks be categorized as a media entity in this new internet age we live? If your answer is yes, then we need to admit that we’re witnessing some potentially dangerous precedents.
Here’s the thing. What makes WikiLeaks different from other media entities around the world that have stances which annoy certain regimes?
For instance, what will prevent the Chinese or American governments from targeting and pressuring media organizations and people they hate by using tactics such as denying them access to financial services?
See what I mean? Do you see where this is going?
2011 is going to be a fun year for Internet Freedom.
This week a YouTube video surfaced showing an unidentified woman in a voluminous cloak on her knees screaming and pleading in agony and pain with blue-uniformed policemen who took turns whipping her across the head and feet.
The policemen are shown to be laughing as the woman received the punishment and they are heard saying that she is sentenced to 50 lashes.
The video stirred widespread outcry among Sudanese around the world and even some pro-government columnists wrote critically of the incident.
“The investigation was started immediately after the images of the young woman, being punished under Articles 154 and 155 of the 1991 Sudanese penal code, appeared on the Internet,” the judiciary said in a statement.
The statement said the investigation would look into whether the punishment was carried out improperly.
The investigation would look into whether the punishment was carried out improperly? Are you kidding me? That’s a serious load of bullshit. The only “investigation” anyone needs to conduct to know if this punishment was carried out improperly is to simply watch the damn video.
You see dear ladies and gentlemen, if you’re wondering what the proper way to implement this punishment is, then let me briefly break it down for you according to the wide-spread traditionalist interpretation of Islam, and without getting too technical.
Firstly, there obviously needs to be a fair trial.
Secondly, the scourger must not at any point raise his hand above his shoulder when he flogs.
And thirdly, the scourger is required to hold a copy of the Koran under the armpit of his striking arm while carrying out the sentence, to discourage him from whipping too hard and potentially dropping the holy book on the ground.
Now, not only where there two men whipping the poor girl at the same time, and in the midst of other people’s humiliating laughter, but they also had no Korans held under their armpits. And my, oh my, if only they held them. If only there was just one man flogging her softly. Gosh, that would have made the situation so much better, right? It would have made it a lot less cruel, right? It would have made the punishment proper and less humiliating, right?
And that’s precisely the thing that upset me the most and boiled my blood when I read too many of the reactions of angry Sudanese to this appalling video, reactions and opinions that are very similar to the one voiced by Khartoum’s Governor.
What we should be outraged about is not how this punishment should have been applied “properly,” but instead, we should be outraged that such punishments continue to exist at all. Flogging should be abolished completely, and we should stop shying away from criticizing troubling aspects of all organized religions.
Yes, there are things about Sharia—dietary laws, the amount of money you should pay for charity, rules that eliminate the practice of usury—that in many ways are actually good and beneficial when we willingly apply them in our lifestyles, and they are not imposed on us.
However, deeply troubling punishments such as stonings, beheadings, and lashings are not good, not humane, and not fit for modern times, and we need to have a frank conversation about that. But when is it going to happen on a large scale? When? If anything, that conversation needs to happen now. The video above should trigger it, but it looks like it hasn’t, at least not adequately… at least not very publicly.
Maybe it’s time they stopped being fooled by the Islamist notion that Sharia is sacred and hence automatically beyond criticism. Maybe they should repeatedly watch that video of that poor girl getting whipped, ehm, not so “properly,” and agonizing in pain. Maybe only then, they’ll reconsider and rethink their stance.
Ttoday, we have this amazing piece of news, that I first came across on The Guardian. It’s all over the media, and I highly doubt its accuracy for several reasons.
Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, has siphoned as much as $9bn out of his impoverished country, and much of it may be stashed in London banks, according to secret US diplomatic cables that recount conversations with the chief prosecutor of the international criminal court.
Some of the funds may be held by the part-nationalised Lloyds Banking Group, according to prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who told US officials it was time to go public with the scale of Bashir’s theft in order to turn Sudanese public opinion against him.
First of all, it’s obvious that Ocampo wants al-Bashir arrested, which makes his speculations biased. Secondly, why on earth would al-Bashir pick banks in the UK of all places? That’s a risk, because a country like the UK could easily co-operate with its ally the United States to freeze accounts if needed. Plus, it’s also a known fact that many, if not most Northern Sudanese politicians, prefer stashing “their” money in UAE’s and Malaysia’s banks.
Thirdly and lastly, $9 billion? Really? That’s it? How about, I don’t know, maybe $20 billion? Yeah, maybe with that we’ll be getting closer to the real figure, which is 100% Halal money I’m sure.
Some of you might remember my (in)famous post, “The Reboot,” which officially marked the relaunch of this blog with a new design, and its self-proclaimed heretical direction. The conclusions I reached in that post are still very much a part of me, but they no longer really describe what I think or how I feel, which I guess is expected given how much I’ve grown since then.
I mean, damn, that thing was published nearly two years ago. Yeah, I know, it’s been two freaking years. Ah, how time flies, and how minds evolve.
“Transcend and include,” as philosopher Ken Wilber likes to say.
Here’s the interesting thing though. I don’t think I would have been able to notice that change if it weren’t for the archive of this blog, which I’ve contemplated completely deleting on a few occasions. Thing is, while it’s sometimes nice to look back, reflect, and think about the journey you’ve been on, at times, you’d rather not do that. You’d rather not be reminded of who you were. You’d rather avoid confronting your former self, but it’s a small price to pay for what you gain in return.
No matter what, look back or not, what you’ve done, and where you’ve been play a significant role in who you become. And even if going where you’ve gone before wasn’t a choice that you made, your reaction to what you’ve faced was.
If you get what I mean, good. If you don’t, then that’s fine. I’m not really trying to convey my thoughts clearly to a specific audience here. I’m just simply thinking aloud. I miss doing that. I miss writing this way. I miss the feeling that I had when I first began blogging in 2006, but even that is okay. Even that is a small price to pay in return for what I’ve gained in the last two years, and especially in 2010.
I used to view the world in black-and-white. Eventually, that got replaced with white-and-black, which I found to be lacking still. The key at at the end of the day I realize is nuance, and that comes with the ability to contextualize, which is what I’m doing a lot more of these days.
Better still, Drima is now also officially on his way to getting a Master’s in Islamic Philosophy, and has begun working on a thesis focused on the impact of new media on Islamic theology.
Qatar! Yes, Qatar, my childhood home, a country that’s very close to my heart. And I have to say, I was absolutely overjoyed when I heard the news two days ago. This is huge. It’s going to be the first time the World Cup gets hosted in the Middle East, and the event is surely going to help change the world’s perception of Arabs, and the region for the better.
Qatar did one hell of a job winning this bid. Their presentation to the FIFA voting body was simply brilliant (watch it all right here). Now, let’s just hope that the next 12 years don’t witness some crazy shit happening.
In case you haven’t hard, the documents that were recently released by WikiLeaks show that numerous Arab leaders have urged the United States to bomb Iran and stop it from acquiring nuclear weapons.
I don’t know, but it seems to me that my generation sometimes tends to look back at events like WW2 and assumes that they can’t and won’t happen during our lifetime. I really hope they don’t, but the developments in Iran’s situation aren’t comforting, and I think it’s just a matter of time before the showdown happens. Let’s hope it will be quick and not too destructive. Oh, and it better not be anytime close to the 2022 World Cup.
You’ve probably heard the news on Kareem Amer, the Egyptian blogger who was jailed a few years ago for criticizing the Egyptian president and Al-Azhar University. The guy is now finally free after completing his prison sentence.
Unfortunately though, there’s another blogger, and someone I personally know, who is still in jail, simply for the evil horrendous horrible crime of peacefully expressing his views in a very civil way and advocating freedom of speech in his country, Bahrain.
Location: Deep, deep down the orgasmic rabbit hole of epistemology.
The Bio of Awesomeness: Fundamentalist Muslim, turned hippie Sufi and fan of science. Total blogging junkie since 2006. Social entrepreneur and digital media and marketing consultant. Proud Sudanese and cultural nomad. Author of upcoming book on Islam and new media. Pro-democracy guitar-strumming activist. Loud and drop dead gorgeous. Fan of integral theory and spiral dynamics. Sarcastic Afro-Arab goofy genius. The High Priest of Mischief. Welcome. You've Been Warned! ;)
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