Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fatwas for Mr President

For decades, and even centuries, fatwas have been delivered by religious people in order to help ordinary people to find solutions for their day-to-day problems. Of course, fatwas also have been requested for more important matters, and then subjects of many disputed political debates.

In modern times, the muftis have to compete with new voices which appeared with the modernization of the Arab world, namely voices of the intellectuals (muthaqqafun) and thinkers (mufakkirun) and, today, the stunning voices of the media stars (anchors, actors and so on...) who speak more and more in the name of religion.

It could be an explanation for the extraordinary mess of crazy fatwas which make a wonderful target for western media in times of muslim bashing, even if other religions probably provide similar examples of isanity.

The fact is that the mushrooming of (often so-called) religious programs, all of them competing for fame, opens the flow to "scandalous" fatwas. Egypt has seen for example the revival of an "old" one, initialy given in Saudia, which forbides the shooting of weddings and divorces on screen, as they are thing "not to play with"...

Of course, issuing a fatwa also has something to do with politics. It is obviously the case when Egypt official mufti said that religion punishes the spread of “false information,” a clear allusion to the trial of various important journalists.

Worst, the same mufti, Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, declared that he had nothing to say against the succession of Gamal Mubarak to his father Husni, should the son been correctly elected.

He did not mention the case of of president George W. Bush but he should have!

French readers are reminded that their own president, Mr Sarkozy, at a time he was "only" one of Chirac's ministers, paid a visit to Dr Tantawi in order to get a fatwa to legitimate the prohibition of the Islamic scarf in French (governmental) schools.

To read the original post in french

Soccer and Politics in the Arab Middle-East

After an Iraki singer made it to the last round of the very famous "Star Academy show" aired by Lebanese satellite channel LBC, the victory of the national soccer team at the Asian soccer cup was a rare opportunity in Irak for manifestations of joy and national pride and unity (that the last goal was the result of a joined action between sunni, kurdish and shiite players!)

But war is also on the football fields. For example in Turkey where a clash between two players, one Israeli and the other Egyptian in September 2006 just after the Israeli bombardments in Lebanon has led to riots.

In Israel too, political issues are obviously at stake when it comes to sport, for instance when the Bitar Club, supported by the right wing, meets the surprisingly successful "Son of Sakhneen" team, supported by the so-called "Arab Israelis".

Then there is the incredible story published in the Israeli Yediot Aharonot some time ago about two Brasilian twins playing, one for an Israeli team and the other for a Syrian one! Is this the New Middle-East?

To read the original post in french

The Ban of Pop "artistat" in Syria: a war for moral or against brands?

There are two translations in arabic for the word "Artist" : one is "fannânûn" and the other, not so correct, "artistât".

Recently, Syrian Union of artists (fannânûn) has declared a ban on "artistât" - mainly Lebanese - coming to Syria. Such a decision is a real threat to the "creativity" of Lebanese "artistât" already coping with many economical difficulties at home. There is no political reason for such a decision, according to Salah Obeid, the Union leader, but the necessity to protect the country against "moral pollution" of female singers playing more with their body than with their musical gifts.

Regarding what some people have coined the "ajramisation" of the Arab societies (from Nancy Ajram, one of the most glamorous Arab pop singers, "icon" for Coca-Cola in the Middle-East when Elissa, another "artistat", is the other one for Pepsi), the Syrian ban may be seen as another chapter against the (global) Amecanization of the Arab world.

To read the original post in french
And to discover Elissa, former Lebanese top model, this video

Enrico Macias back to Algeria? The Hight Price of Friendship

Finally, French singer Enrico Macias, born in Algeria in a Jew family from Constantine some 68 years ago, will not go to Algeria with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Such a visit, already planned many times, rised too many issues, either rooted in the past (the Liberation War and the role played at that time by some Jewish families according to different voices in Algeria) or connected to the present problems, mainly because of Macias's repeated declarations in support of Israel.

Knowing that Sarkozy is expecting big profits, at least on the economic side, from his trip to Alger, the price of his friendship for Enrico Macias was indeed to hight.
Algerian voices, in the press or on the Internet, suggest Macias to do what many others "pieds noirs" (black foot, for the French who left Algeria at the Independence of the country) have done before him : to take a ticket, by plane or by boat, and to visit his native country without any official frame and game...

As a matter of fact, the best thing to do for him could be to join the great El Gusto band, which associates musicians coming form North and South of the Mediterranean, and from mixted generations and religions.

To read the original post in french
And to listen a nice presentation of El Gusto, in the Buena Vista Social Club mood, this video