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Friday, August 31, 2012

Liberal Koshari Is Closed

I started Liberal Koshari eight months ago, and I have loved the time I spent after work blogging and later spending hours debating other bloggers on Twitter.  However, I accepted a new job and will not be able to keep the blog running and relevant.  

The blog is officially closed as of today and I will not be updating it. 

I would like to thank all my readers and virtual friends, I hope to have entertained and challenged you with my posts. 

Religious Education in Egypt: A Fixer-Upper

With the Islamists now in power in Egypt, and Tunisia, it is expected that a gradual move to make religious education more conservative and less "secular" (you can replace secular by scientific, liberal or reason based). A new Carnegie paper provides a detailed analysis of the problem, its impact and the way forward. Excerpts:

Image: AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fluff News of the Day: Lady Gaga Is That You?

I'm indifferent to Lady Gaga, I guess she appeals to a younger generation. I read a couple of weeks ago about her struggles with body image and how she learned to accept her body. Good for her. However, the extreme and comical airbrushing of her Vogue cover (left) reeks of hypocrisy. Now, I'm not a fan.

Bringing Religion Back Into The Picture

International relations experts and scholars are gradually recognizing the importance of integrating religion in the explanations of world events. This is evident in the collection of essays edited by Jack Synder in Religion and International Relations Theory (Religion, Culture, and Public Life). Book description:

"Twice As Many Pyramids As In Egypt"

According to Jules Knox “Northern Sudan boasts twice as many pyramids as its counterpart Egypt”. I didn’t know that! In his story on Knox describes a fascinating world that is almost unseen by most of the world due to the political and security situation in Sudan. Excerpt: 

First image: Clint Burkinshaw. Second image: Source here.

Dear Gina: Try Walking In Our Shoes

The world's richest woman, Australian mining tycoon Gina Rinehart, shares a “let them eat cake” moment with the world.  Given that Rinehart inherited her money, the below excerpt from her hypocritical article is quite dumb:

27 Million Slaves

Alter Net has a story about slavery in the world today, not history books or movies. Excerpt with some disturbing numbers (and notice the gender split):

Sad Animals in Egypt's Sad Streets

Pictures from "Picture Masr" by Mohamed El Shahed. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Music I Listen To While Blogging: Amal Murkus

According to Wikipedia Murkus was born and raised in the Arab town of Kafr Yasif in Galilee, and has devoted her career to promoting Palestinian music and culture in Israel and abroad. Murkus has been performing since she was five years old. In 1979, she won first prize in the Israeli Arab children's song festival, and went on to graduate from the Institute for Stage Art in Tel Aviv in 1990.

What Determines the Emergence and Survival of Democracy?

To answer the question, the authors of a study published by Journal of Conflict Resolution apply extreme bounds analysis to test the robustness of fifty-nine factors proposed in the literature, evaluating over three million regressions with data from 165 countries from 1976 to 2002. Below is the study's  conclusion:

Image: Greg Klee/Globe Staff Photo Illustration

Lieberman's Message to Morsi

Haaretz has this interesting quote from Israel's Foreign Minister: 

Image: Israel postage stamp, civil aviation (1959)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Feel Good Clip of the Day: Tiger Playing with "Lunch"

Not sure what's a cub doing in a house (or is it an animal shelter?) with family and a dog around. They are both cute and fun to watch play together. 

Music I Listen To While Blogging: Safar Barlik

Mysterious electro beats from Lebanon with a longing for the past. 

Aswan in 1911

Amazing colored footage of Aswan 100 years ago. Wish the music was not that irritating. 

Ht: Egyptian Chronicles 

How to protect a fragile democracy from a strong military?

That's the question Steve Saideman tries to answer in his post "Democracy and Coups: Taking Civilian Control of the Military for Granted". Excerpt:

But the journey to ensure fragile democracies are not undermined is long and tough:

Quote of the Day: Flannery O'Connor

"When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs you do, you can relax a little and use more normal ways of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock — to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost blind you draw large and startling figures."

Mary Flannery O'Connor (March 25, 1925 – August 3, 1964) was an American writer and essayist. An important voice in American literature, O'Connor wrote two novels and 32 short stories, as well as a number of reviews and commentaries. She was a Southern writer who often wrote in a Southern Gothic style and relied heavily on regional settings and grotesque characters. O'Connor's writing also reflected her own Roman Catholic faith, and frequently examined questions of morality and ethics.

Now Playing: Abel Korzeniowski

Try the soundtracks for W/E and a Single Man. Amazing music composed by Abel Korzeniowski. Also available on Souncloud here. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Syria, Qatar, Al Jazeera and Qaradawi!

Walid Muallem, Syria's FM, sat with Robert Fisk and shared this juicy nugget about Al Jazeera and Qaradawi. Is he lying to punish Al Jazeera for its coverage of the Syrian civil war? Perhaps. Time to read the nugget: 

Image: Photo from GALLO/GETTY

Do Sex Strikes Ever Work?

Yes, but mostly as a means of garnering media attention. That's according to L.V. Anderson. Tahrir next Friday in the buff? Excerpt from The Slate story
Generally, sex strikes—known in activist circles as “Lysistratic nonaction,” a nod to Aristophanes’ ancient Greek comedy—appear to be more successful when the women involved have little economic autonomy, when their demands are specific and realistic, and when they possess endurance and strength in numbers. In the tiny, rural Filipino town of Dado last year, women belonging to a sewing collective successfully brought an end to violence on a thoroughfare connecting Dado and a regional market center by withholding sex from their husbands for a week. And a four-month, 300-woman sex strike in the Colombian town of Barbacoas last year succeeded, with local authorities promising to improve conditions on the roads connecting Barbacoas to the nearest town.
The video is of Pat Benatar's 80s song "Stop Using Sex As A Weapon". As a child I had a huge crush on Pat but she turned to be a wingnut and I moved on ... to Nirvana! 

Coming Soon: Jews of Egypt

We almost have a date for the release of Jews of Egypt. The documentary, directed and produced by Egyptians, has a tentative date for October or November 2012. Let's hope the film is eventually released and not a disappointment after this long wait.  

I blogged before about the documentary, shared the trailer and provided some background behind the Jews of Egypt here. 

Poem of the Day: Today's Menu

This short poem by Charles Simic appears in the September 2012 issue of The New Republic. 

Today's Hero: Saudi Shura Council Member Al-Buleihi

Saudi Shura Council Member Ibrahim Al-Buleihi has big balls. In the video above he lectures, in a progressive tone, his interviewer with honesty, objectivity and conviction. I have no idea what Al-Buleihi thinks of women rights, freedom of religion, etc. but watching this video makes me feel good. You don't have to agree with everything in his rant but you'd agree that he's refreshingly different. Below is a transcript of the interview by MEMRI (slightly edited by LK for space): 
We have yet to acknowledge that we are backward. Perhaps 10-20% of the people are aware of this backwardness, but the majority do not even realize it. We treat [Western] people who created this great and lofty civilization as if they were carpenters and blacksmiths. We view them as mere laborers, while we consider ourselves to be men of thought, science, and culture, who embody everything you aspire to in life. This is the exact opposite of how things should be. That's the reality. If we were to send back to the prosperous [West] everything we got from it, what would be left? Even the 'Aqqal (headband) you are wearing was made in Britain. We are incapable of producing anything. We can't do without [the West]. If you have a headache, you need to swallow the aspirin that they made. If you want to travel, you must take a plane or a car, if you want to get some sleep, you must turn on the air-conditioning, and the same is true of all the implements of civilization. The oil came from Allah, and on top of that, we need the West to extract it. If not for their industry, our oil would be worthless. It had been in this land for centuries, yet we did not benefit from it in any way. Oil became valuable only when others came up with inventions, and later came here to extract it from our land. Civilizations are measured by their ability to change. We are exactly the other way around. We believe that the measure of success is unchangeability, and this is a great problem. If societies remained static, civilization would not develop. Their development is dependent upon their willingness to change. The reason that the West developed is that it stemmed from Greek culture, which was founded on the objective use of reason. When this great beacon of light was extinguished in the Middle Ages ... The great mathematics [of the Arabs] had a role in the development of the West, but I still believe that the Anglo-Saxon culture is the source of modern culture.

Nefertiti Showing Her Bust in Germany

I usually get a bitter-sweet feeling when I read about Egyptian monuments being restored and properly presented to the word by Western museums. A perfect example is Germany's Neues Museum latest exhibit of the controversially obtained Nefertiti bust. Excerpt from a Washington Post story:
Berlin is to honor the centenary of the discovery of a famed bust of Egypt’s Queen Nefertiti — one of the city’s top tourist attractions — with an exhibition of works from the Amarna site where it was found. Neues Museum officials said Monday that the show, “In the Light of Amarna — 100 Years of the Find of Nefertiti” will open Dec. 6. That’s the 100th anniversary of the day when a German excavator unearthed the 3,300-year old limestone bust of the wife of Pharaoh Akhenaton in southern Egypt ... The director of Berlin’s Egyptian collection, Friederike Seyfried, said she has visited Egypt three times in recent months and met the current antiquities minister. She said she believes the upcoming exhibition is being viewed positively in Cairo.

Image: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

Closing Liberal Koshari on August 31, 2012

I started Liberal Koshari eight months ago, and I have loved the time I spent after work blogging and later spending hours debating other bloggers on Twitter.  However, I’m going to close Liberal Koshari by the end of the month. I accepted a new job that would make it impossible to keep the blog running and relevant.  I would like to thank all my readers and virtual friends, I hope to have entertained and challenged you with my posts. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Internet Freedom: Finding The Right Balance

An important debate about freedom of the Internet has been brewing for years in India (I covered, back in January, a similar discussion in Egypt here). The debate intensified recently as threatening messages warning Assam residents that Indian Muslims were planning to attack non-Muslims from India’s northeast region began appearing on Indian cell phones, Facebook pages, and Twitter accounts. The text and social media messages set off widespread panic and consequently tens of thousands of northeasterners boarded buses and trains to escape what they believed to be an imminent massacre of non-Muslims. The Indian government is considering holding the social media companies that hosted the threatening messages partly accountable, especially for their inability or refusal to take them down. The Diplomat has a comprehensive piece on the debate in India. Excerpts:

Pics of the Day: Footprints Made From Stones

"Photographer Iain Blake found these wonderful stones and made footprints out of them. Not only are the stones themselves great finds (and beautifully arranged), but the photographs are well captured and the composition is just wonderful." Twisted Sifter. More images here. 

Music I Listen To While Blogging: Ben Taylor

A feel good song from Ben Taylor's album "listening," his first in almost four years. 

Poem for Sunday: How Long?

This poem (via HuffPost) is taken from the book Poetry of the Taliban (Columbia/Hurst, $24.50). Over the next few days, HuffPost Books will be running poems from the book. To read more about the genre and its cultural context, click here. To read Taliban love poems, click here.
Photo credit: photographer padawan *(xava du)

Compliance: A New Film About Obeying Authority

Compliance explores the human desire to obey authority regardless of religion or culture. The shocking part about the movie is that it actually happened as it is based on real-life events that took place in 2004 at a McDonalds in Kentucky. The story starts with a prank phone call in which a man posing as a police officer manipulates a supervisor to sexually assault the 18-year old employee. 

Frank Bruni from The New York Times (full here):

Glenn Greenwald from The Guardian (full here):

The New Yorker review of the movie saw it differently as it had this line "American movies are saturated in physical violence; this one is devoted to spiritual violence". 

Civility in Argument: Is It Possible in Politics?

Scott Aikin and Robert Talisse discuss the impact of "civility in argument" on democracy. They try to define what is democratic politics is all about (they think it's about "argument". Sure, democracy is not about violence but I'd argue the writers make the mistake of assuming democracy is about "reasoned argumentation"), list the elements of "civility" either in substance (conflict aversion and compromise) or tone (hostile language and demonizing the other side) and in general, try to articulate why we argue. Excerpt: 

Let me wrap-up this post with the paragraph on "tone" with special dedication to Abu-Hamed and El-Eryan:

Image: Galileo facing the Roman Inquisition, painting by Cristiano Banti.

Kuwaiti Lawmaker: Expel Lebanese From Kuwait

Gulf News has the sad story of the kidnap of Esam Al Hooty, a Kuwaiti national, while holidaying in Lebanon and the way over the top response by a Kuwaiti lawmaker: 

Superheroes Take Over London's Public Transport

If you don't do public transport, you miss out on things.

Source: Unknown/Facebook

Egypt 1963: Rouleau Meets Nasser

Éric Rouleau born in Cairo in 1926 to a Jewish family was forced to leave Egypt in 1948 to France. Rouleau became editorial writer and special correspondent for the French daily Le Monde and later France’s ambassador to Tunisia and Turkey. His memoir, Le Moyen-Orient au-delà Des Mythes will be published in late 2012. Excerpt from an essay adapted from the memoire depicts Rouleau’s return to Egypt to interview President Nasser in 1963:

For the full essay, read The Cairo Review of Global Affairs here.

Music I Listen To While Blogging: Fairuz

Fairuz is one of my favorite singers and this is one of my favorite songs. For some reason, when I listen to Wa7dun it reminds me of Alexandria in the winter. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ideas For Egypt: Missing Children App

Bandera Blanca is the first Social App developed in Argentina to help find missing children. The app runs in Facebook and Twitter and It's also available for Windows Phone. Soon, Bandera Blanca will be coming as one of Windows 8 native Apps. The app can be downloaded from

Source: Ads of the World
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