Over the coming weeks we will be focusing on regional coverage, starting this week with North Africa.
http://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/305/blogs_01_nefertiti.gif comments on a new law which she states reflects Egypt’s religious intolerance. She reports on a new law that forbids Christians who have converted to Islam from reverting to Christianity however Muslims who covert to Christianity then wish to revert back to Islam are free to do so.
According to Neferteeti, there is resentment from the Christian community who say the law is a 'step backwards' as the constitution gives freedom of religion.
'Meanwhile, Christian clergy have also voiced their concern over the new law, saying that Christians must take a serious stand against the law and object to the oppression of the government.
Morqous Aziz, a Coptic priest, recently told reporters that there would be an appeal of the ruling.
'This is...oppression against all religions and the [Egyptian] Constitution. The Pope will do something about the matter.'
Maybe people should study the religion they want to convert to a little more deeply then they wouldn’t have to go back and forth between religions.
http://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/305/blogs_02_snefru.gifFellow Egyptian blogger – Faisal's Tobril takes issue with Neferteeti’s comment stating that she 'has got things wrong' about Islam and in particular her statement about Islam being too afraid to let people choose. He goes on to say:
'Do we blame Christianity, or the Aryan race, for Hitler’s mass murder of European Jews? Or do we blame one man, Hitler himself, for the actions taken by members of the Nazi party and the army of the Third Reich?
I should think the answers to the question would be: The men themselves (and not Christianity) as well as Hitler (and not Christianity nor the Aryan race).
It does not require a religious scholar nor a person of astounding knowledge to realize that the application of the different supposed rules of different religions are carried out differently from region to region and country to country. Compare Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Morrocco, Turkey and Egypt, if you need facts.'
http://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/305/blogs_03_mahgrebism.gifMaghrebism is one of many North African blogs commenting on President Nicolas Sarkozy’s appointment of Rachida Dati (of Moroccan and Algerian parentage) as the new justice minister. He does not say whether he supports the appointment but responds to those people that criticise the appointment such as Morocco Time (see below).
'You know, I’ve seen this happen a lot. Apparently, we Moroccans/North Africans in Europe, are subjected to an invisible law that states that we can only be government members if that government is “leftist”.
Apparently there is also another invisible law that states that North Africans have to have the same view on immigration and integration as the “leftists”.
And if we don’t share the same views, we’re bigots, traitors and Uncle Toms.
Why can’t an immigrant child share the same views as Sarkozy? (or any other rightist politician for that matter).'
No there is no law but as Morocco Time points out there is considerable hypocrisy around Ms Dati’s support of Sarkozy…
http://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/305/blogs_04_liosliath.gifhttp://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/305/blogs_05_blacklooks.gifhttp://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/305/blogs_06_septic.gifSeptiC asks us to sign a petition against the proposed concert by the Rolling Stones in Israel. He received one comment saying that no one gave 'a rat's ass' about boycotting and responded as follows:
'In the eyes of the uneducated and unwilling to learn, maybe. But that only applies if your expectations are very low. Mine aren't.
Some people know damn well what's going on. A good example that I came across a couple of weeks ago is Alan Rickman of Die Hard, Galaxy Quest, and the Potter movies. Rickman directed a play based on the diaries of Rachel Corrie - the 23 year old American woman who was killed on March 16, 2003 by an Israeli Army bulldozer while she was protesting against the demolition of Palestinian civilian homes.
I wouldn't for a second think that Alan Rickman, for instance, didn't give a "rat's ass".
Artists who choose to inform themselves of the realities of the situation should act responsibly. And in this day and age, not informing yourself is simply irresponsible.
If the Rolling Stones don't, as you say, "give a rat's ass" - then we should make it clear to them that we, in turn, won't give a rat's ass about them. It's that simple.'
• Ensure transparency and accountability on both ends. Nobody expects the US government to simply take the word of Muslim institutions and community leaders when they say they will take the necessary steps to prevent extremism from taking root.
• Give Muslims the freedom to fight extremism on the front lines. The main place that extremism thrives is not your local mosque, but on the Internet…'
http://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/305/blogs_08_progmuslima.gifProgressive Muslima News points to a BBC report on French rapper of Congolese parentage, Abd Al Malik who performs at France’s 'Metisses Music Festival'.
'His latest album Gibraltar has already won four awards, including the prestigious Victoire de la Musique. It’s an original mix of hip-hop, slam poetry and French philosophy. He sees Gibraltar as the symbolic meeting point of Africa and Europe.
The reason I called it Gibraltar was to use music to try and link our different cultures and people together…'
Moroccan literary blogger, http://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/305/blogs_10_egyptian.gifEgyptian Chronicle writes about an advert in an Egyptian newspaper by Animal Rights activists attacking 'officials for the ill-treatment of street dogs'. This is serious as the President has ordered an investigation being that this ill treatment of dogs could affect the country’s tourist industry. Her comment:
'I don't know really which is bad or can affect the repetition of Egypt abroad photos of a dead pregnant street dog or video clips from humans sexually and physically abused in the police stations.
When the humans take their right first we can speak about other creatures' right because don't expect an oppressed human will treat others which are weaker from him or her fairly.
It seems the President is right – when it comes to tourism and the country’s reputation more people care about the dogs than Egypt’s human rights abuses.'
* Sokari Ekine is online editor of Pambazuka News and editor of the Black Looks blog