Archive for February, 2007


February 26, 2007

A few quick notes to all my friends–frivolous, I know, since poor Kareem is in prison, but I’ll soon have more on him and on other dumb things about my homeland that had better change before I die.

First, I think it’s funny that people keep leaving me messages and hellos on the comments thing, and have stopped commenting on my articles (I’d take hellos any day! Not that I don’t like comments, I’m just trying to be sociable, you know? By the way, to H., I emailed you back months ago but it bounced! My email’s the same if you’d like to say hi and let me know how you were.. and to K, thanks for the offer, hope to see you soon, and to Z, you are a brat.)

Next,THIS is pretty funny, it tells of sex toys (the sale of) being outlawed in Alabama. (I was just signing in to wordpress and this article appeared and made me blush, so I thought I’d share it with you all.. Only in America..)

Third, my email is mzsaraghorab at if anyone needs it, and fourth, I have had several offers to syndicate my column this past week, and want to thank you all for having stuck with me from the very start. (Will tell you where I’ll be if anyone’s interested!)

Have a great week and see you back here real soon,


Blood In, Blood Out: Why Egyptian Blogger’s Dad Wants Him Dead

February 23, 2007

By Sara Ghorab, with  J. Ahmed Salib, M.D. 

If you have been following the saga of the Egyptian Blogger, otherwise known as Abdelkareem Nabil Soliman (or Kareem Amer or just plain Kareem), then you know he’s the first person in Egypt to be prosecuted on charges of spreading ill will towards Egypt and Islam, both of which he’s belonged to since birth. And both of which he should, in any sane, free and “democratic” society, be allowed to do.  

(I won’t speak to the question of “Is he guilty?” right here, because I spent another whole article doing just that, read it here  if you want.) 

You may not know, however, about the latest breaks in the case, reported in several news sources and even more blogs: for example, you may be disheartened to learn that Kareem was, on 22 February, sentenced to four years in prison—three for insulting Islam, and just one for insulting President Mubarak.  

And a report about the latest update ( ) likened the sentence to a “slap in the face,” which was sadly ironic, for an AP reporter claimed to hear the sound of a slap and a cry of pain just minutes after Kareem’s sentence was handed down. (May the hand of Kareem’s slapper fall off.) 

Talking of sentencing, Kareem’s own lawyer, Gamal Eid, was said to be “pessimistic” about the outcome of the case beforehand, although he’s reported more faith in the actual appeal he’s planning to file. (Thanks be to God that
Egypt actually allows appeals to be filed.. not that this makes the Kafka-esque mockery of a trial any easier to swallow, but.. I suppose we need to crawl before we run marathons..)

And if that less-than-sunny update is disheartening, then my thesaurus doesn’t have a word to express the dishearteningness-to-the-400th-power of the fact that Kareem’s father, a retired instructor of mathematics/engineer of Agriculture, recently called for his son to be executed if he does not “repent” in three days.  

An article in Al Masry El Youm even mentioned that Kareem’s dad (I should probably call him something less warm and fuzzy, how about “the donor who made Kareem’s life possible, but who’d like to rescind that gift if his offspring will not re-embrace the religion of peace and love”) had changed his mind about skipping the trial and decided to instead show up with his four other sons, each of whom had reportedly memorized the Kor’an.  

Apparently, The Donor felt as though his presence would neutralize the effect/damage of what he calls “monkey rights organizations” who have been helping promote the case. (He also called his son a monkey… I wonder if anyone told him that they are related, so if Kareem is a monkey, then that makes his father an even bigger monkey.) 

The Donor went on (in another article) to blame prominent Egyptian feminist Dr. Nawal el Saadawi and Coptic godfather Adly Abadeer for encouraging Kareem’s infidel-ness, and the internet for introducing his son to scores of like-minded (or all-out “badly-influencing”) online pals. (Read more here: and here: ) 

Interesting, isn’t it, how he decries the internet in one breath, but has announced his intention to publicly disown Kareem using that very same vehicle? 

And sad, isn’t it, how a person would embrace something (religion, in this case) so tightly that he cut off oxygen to his brain and made threats against his own son (aloud!)?  

Oh, sorry.. I meant, it’s sad, is it not, that a person would embrace a religion so tightly that he would have no room left in his heart for his own flesh and blood.  

But that’s not even the worst of it; worse is the question that still needs answering—does Kareem’s father  (who asked al Azhar to apply Sharia law in order to get his unrepentant son killed) represent a fanatical splinter of an otherwise peaceful religion…or is he one of the ones that are authentic, well-versed, and truly-devoted-to-a-religion-they’ve-studied-more-than-in-depth?  

Unfortunately (and this report comes from a close friend of one of the family members) it seems as though the latter is more accurate. By this friend’s account, Kareem’s father has always been fanatical about his religion, forbidding television and computer from his house, and forcing his young (grade-school) daughters to wear the neqab (the over-head tent that only leaves women’s eyes free).  

But is the fanaticism a feature of the adherent… or the religion itself? 

Another nail in Islam’s coffin is that if Sharia law (which moderate Muslims can’t really denounce as being inaccurate or anti-Islamic or unrepresentative of their faith) does indeed call for, or at least allow, the execution of someone who converted out of the religion or defamed it or even refused to convert into it—then no one with two gray cells to his name can ever argue that Islam is peaceful, forgiving, tolerant, or in-line with human rights, equality, freedom of expression and/or thought, etc. 

In other words, if Sharia allows this form of murder, then it follows that Islam can never allow modernity to happen, and that true Muslims only have one goal, to keep the globe in darkness and take over the world. 

If Islam is a religion of peace, then how can a man—devoutly Islamic, by most accounts—call for the execution of his own son? How can a government consider imprisoning a young man for his opinions? Where is the peace, equality, freedom or humanity in that?  

If Islam is a religion of peace then Muslims must reject the trial/sentencing and the Donor’s call for blood. 

If Islam is peace, and
Egypt is Islamic, then
Egypt must drop the charges against Kareem and every good Muslim must stand with Kareem.

And, because “Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage,” then the Egyptian government must abandon the virtual manacles she has placed on her citizens and allow them to speak—or write—their minds. (Hat tip to Richard Lovelace for his fab quote.)


If Islam supports this travesty against Kareem—and, indeed, all freedom and equality— then Egypt has no right to drive cars or check email or use ballpoint pens, and I call for donkeys, papyrus and feather pens to be reinstated there. 

And if you want to keep using modern technology,
Egypt, you can’t go on about how horrible modernity is and yet keep using it, especially to end modernity (or the usage of it by anyone not in agreement with you…Talk about double standards.).

I fully understand that a Muslim can’t fully support other religions or a dissing of their own, but who set Muslims as the guardians of where I spend the next life?  

By what right can they go around converting people forcibly, or kill those who resist?  

This is not to say that I agree with the tenets of Islam or paganism or any religion other than my own, but I recognize the moral imperative of freedom, of allowing them to make their own choices (even if I think that their choice may land them in hell for eternity. Of course, I have the responsibility to tell them what I believe to be the true way to heaven, but I can’t force them! Would any sane god accept a forced conversion? Oh, too bad “allah” isn’t sane.. or real.).  

No one said Muslims had to think Christians are going to heaven—only that they give us the right to choose hell if we want. (And it’s not like we think they’re going to heaven, either, but then, neither do Orthodox think Protestants will ever meet St. Pete..) 

No one said Muslims have to hang out with infidels—but we will miss your company (here and in heaven.). 

No one said that a world of 100% Islam would automatically be a peaceful place, so why strive for it, you know? 

Mmm. Are we agreed? 

Good. No more fighting then? Truce?  

It’s really too bad for world peace and harmony and freedom and democracy that no true Muslims could (or would) ever agree with these conditions—not because they’re horrible people, but because of the conditions Islam places on them. 

To quote the essay that got Kareem four years: 

“Muslims have taken the mask off to show their true hateful face, and they have shown the world that they are at the top of their brutality, inhumanity, and thievery.  

They have clearly shown their worst features and have shown that in dealing with others they are not governed by any moral codes…For as long as Islam exists on this planet all your efforts to end wars and disputes and upheavals will fail because Islam’s dirty finger will be found behind every catastrophic event to humanity.”  

(Source: ) 

Egypt’s New Torture Device

February 14, 2007

Sara Ghorab 

For a country whose torture methods are burning up YouTube and other such arenas,
Egypt has outdone itself in coming up with a new method of torture. No, this punishment has nothing to do with beating by cane, raping by broom-stick, hanging by toes or being handcuffed 24/7. (And yes, Americans will be interested in learning more about this, because it’s your $1.3 billion that’s making these things possible. Talk about adding insult to injury.)

Egypt, home of The Trumped Up Charge (TM), now “detains” prisoners—many of whom have never been charged or convicted of anything—for weeks, months, or indefinitely.

Recently, blogger and activist Alaa Abdel Fattah (among others) was detained for a total of 45 days (the

State Security managed to swing that was by “renewing” his lock-up time. Just imagine if that happened to someone in

This seems to be the case in the case of Abdelkareem Nabil Soliman, the most recent victim of
Egypt’s strict Anti-Free-Speech laws, otherwise known as “Sharia,” or better yet, “Islam.”

For those who’ve never heard of Abdelkareem (Kareem to his friends), I’d like to inform you that he’s the first Egyptian blogger to actually be brought up on charges and tried (the oft-postponed trial is slated to conclude February 22, but there’s no telling when it could end up happening).  

Back to Kareem’s illegal detention, it’s been going on since early November (2006). The charges didn’t immediately appear, but once they did, it was obvious that not only were they bogus beyond belief, but exceedingly ridiculous (to anyone who subscribes to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, anyway). 

Furthermore, Alaa was known for being something of an agitator or instigator. While he may not have started fist-fights with state security, sources tell me that he was not one to back down from them. In other words, he was pretty “in your face” about whatever cause he was championing at the time. Alaa was also very outspoken about freedom and activism and such (in more than one sense). 

On the other hand, Kareem is a lamb (in more than one sense)—both for his gentle and sweet demeanor, and because it seems that he’s being led to the slaughter. (God forbid it 1000 times.) 

Is he guilty? Well, it all depends on what the charges are. He’s guilty of being a great guy, a dear friend to those who know him, well-read and interested in everything to do with freedom and human rights. Do these pastimes merit punishment? I should hope not.

If the charges are “Spreading data and malicious rumors that disrupt public security,” then I’m torn as to his guilt or innocence, because he’s only guilty of spreading the truth, a truth that anyone with a brain could have arrived with on his own. Why should Kareem be the only one punished, then?

In regards to the next charge against him, the one accusing Kareem of “defaming the President of Egypt,” who hasn’t? And if imprisonment came from speaking ill of President Bush, then most of the
U.S. population is in trouble.

Since when is having an opinion a criminal offense? Are we back in the days of our ancestors, when the Pharaoh was a god? Quite the contrary, it is Mubarak who should be on trial for the misallocation of $1.3 billion.

Next charges: “Incitement to overthrow the regime upon hatred and contempt” and “Incitement to hate “Islam” and breach of the public peace standards.”

Come again, WHAT peace standards? Did
Egypt become a giant love-fest when I wasn’t looking? Are Copts and Muslims hanging out and feeding each other grapes and commenting on their good fortune to be Egyptians? No! People are climbing over each other to escape the hell that
Egypt has become under Nasser, Sadat, and our old friend Hosni.

Finally, and as I may have mentioned before, the charge of “Highlighting inappropriate aspects that harm the reputation of
Egypt and spreading them to the public” is the most idiotic one of them all.
1-     Shouldn’t the government be taking measures to make things right so that there AREN’T any inappropriate aspects? 2-    
Egypt’s reputation isn’t great, and there’s only one person to blame for that (and it’s not Kareem!)
3-     Non-great reputations don’t stay secret for long, especially in a country with such a big Diaspora, and such a big percentage of born gossips and complainers.It’s interesting that “hating Islam” is considered a crime, but if the situation were reversed, not one government official would have a problem because someone spoke out against Christianity. (You have to admit that “Love your neighbor” and “Love your enemies” and “Turn the other cheek” have a nicer ring to them than do “Slay the infidels where ye find them” and “Christians and Jews are apes and pigs, so think twice before befriending them!”)But this isn’t about what the “better” religion is (although Egyptian law makes many decisions in favor of the party belonging to “the better religion,” and it isn’t  Christianity, if you catch my drift).This is about who the adult is. (In
Egypt, we have a saying that says “Khaleek enta el Kebeer,” or “You be the adult.”) And I don’t mean that
Egypt should be the parent to punish her son (especially since he did nothing wrong, but never mind that now); rather, I think those in “authority” (and no, you aren’t imagining the haughty and disgusted tone in my voice) should be “big enough” to allow people their own opinions.
After all, if certain religions would realize that their gods are big enough to defend themselves (aren’t they?) without having to rely on humans to go around slaughtering people “in god’s name” (sic) then at least half of the world’s problems would disappear. And if the countries that derive their laws from certain religions would bring about a complete separation of “church and state” (not that I’m talking Christianity here, but anyway) then even more problems would disappear.And if you’re thinking that the similarity between my words here and Kareem’s in “The Essay” (the Maharram Bey one that started all this) proves his “guilt” then you have another think coming, because I’ve been singing the same tune since before Kareem was in diapers.