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Egypt's government showcases piety - Comments

beanson's Avatar Comment 1 by beanson

So the article doesn't make it clear whether they only arrest citizens- perhaps they also arrest tourists.

More to the point- how do they know who is a tourist and who a citizen?



Childishness alert-
does anyone else when they see or hear of Ramadan automatically add 'a-ding-dong' on the end

Sun, 13 Sep 2009 16:17:00 UTC | #396589

jcob82's Avatar Comment 2 by jcob82

There was a news story last year about some British tourists in Dubai arrested for similiar things during Ramadan. I was in Egypt over Ramadan in 2001 and I don't remember anyone being harassed for eating or smoking or for drinking alcohol. Guess things have gotten worse since then.

Sun, 13 Sep 2009 16:39:00 UTC | #396601

quisquose's Avatar Comment 3 by quisquose

Unfortunately, this is the ultimate result of what will happen if the religious cancer is allowed to go unchecked.

I know a beautiful Egyptian lady that works in the fashion business. She fled from Egypt to the UK a number of years ago because she was beaten in her village when she refused to wear a veil. I recall her telling me her story in tears when she told me how she loves to sing and dance and wear beautiful clothes, and the country of her birth used to be a place where she could do all those things.

:(

Sun, 13 Sep 2009 16:58:00 UTC | #396610

bertie wooster's Avatar Comment 4 by bertie wooster

If they continue to regress in this way, they could bypass the seventh century and rebuild the library at Alexandria and add a few pyramids. This would be much better than their recent contributions to society, such as Ayman al-Zawahiri and Mohamed Atta.

Sun, 13 Sep 2009 17:06:00 UTC | #396614

alexo's Avatar Comment 5 by alexo

I think we need to establish here whether the authorities are cracking down on foreign visitors or the indigenous population, but then again how do the police differentiate between an Egyptian muslim, christian or jew, or any other faith, Egypt being like many middle eastern countries not solely inhabited by muslims.

Sun, 13 Sep 2009 17:08:00 UTC | #396616

Lisa Bauer's Avatar Comment 6 by Lisa Bauer

#4 bertie wooster

If they continue to regress in this way, they could bypass the seventh century and rebuild the library at Alexandria and add a few pyramids.


They actually have a rebuilt New Library of Alexandria(http://www.bibalex.org/English/index.aspx), though I admit I don't know if they're allowed to have works critical of religion! I hope so...

From all evidence, Egypt used to be quite a bit more open and tolerant (well, sort of, it was always fairly limited -- just ask the Copts and Egyptian Jews) a few decades ago, but the upsurge in popularity of Islamic fundamentalism and Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood have had a very deleterious effect on the nation -- a very bad thing when so much of its economy is based on (mostly "infidel") tourism!

Sun, 13 Sep 2009 17:23:00 UTC | #396627

Lisa Bauer's Avatar Comment 8 by Lisa Bauer

#7 ridelo

Hmm, there seems to be a difference between the way that works calling religion in general 'false' are treated in a lot of Islamic countries with those that attack Islam or Muhammad or the Qur'an specifically. I suppose the real test would be if they had some of Ibn Warraq's books -- I checked and they do! They even have some of Salman Rushdie's books, even The Satanic Verses! Although it might be a telling factor that the Bibliotheca Alexandrina is an international cooperative affair in the most cosmopolitan city in Egypt, so it's no doubt a bit more open to diverse views than your average Egyptian village library.

But I've seen this phenomenon before -- Muslims will claim that attacks on Christianity or the Bible somehow don't affect Islam or the Qur'an in the slightest. Some will make embarrassing use of special pleading, as when claiming that historical-critical analysis may be appropriate for the Bible but somehow not for the Qur'an, and Westerners should just learn to accept that it's from Allah. Or that somehow all the arguments against the existence of God that atheists make only apply to the Christian God, not Allah. Things like that.

Sun, 13 Sep 2009 20:28:00 UTC | #396703

Simonw's Avatar Comment 9 by Simonw

"I think we need to establish here whether the authorities are cracking down on foreign visitors or the indigenous population"

Unless you are planning to visit Egypt I'm not sure how that is relevant.

Sun, 13 Sep 2009 21:25:00 UTC | #396728

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 10 by Border Collie

Wow, the most religious country on the Earth, now that's an honor to behold. They need about a million of Richard's books to read ... give them something to do.

Sun, 13 Sep 2009 21:47:00 UTC | #396745

kaiserkriss's Avatar Comment 11 by kaiserkriss

Th most religious country on earth?? Gallup obviously got it wrong.
Among followers of Islam in other countries, the Egyptians have always had a reputation for the most part as being cultural Muslims rather than dogmatic Muslims. jcw

Sun, 13 Sep 2009 22:18:00 UTC | #396757

Lisa Bauer's Avatar Comment 12 by Lisa Bauer

I was under the impression that India was the most religious nation on earth (though I've also seen another survey claiming that Nigeria was the most religious), and that reminds me of a claim made by some sociologists about America and religion: if India is the most religious nation and Sweden the least, then America is a nation of Indians led by Swedes. (Of course this remark is highly debatable for so many reasons, though I suppose there is some truth to it...)

I suppose the most distressing part of the original article wasn't so much that this was happening, but that all the presumably cultured commenters on the Egyptian site of a liberal, progressive newspaper approved of it! And the comments on the Guardian site had a lot of "well, they can do whatever they want, it's their culture" type of remarks. "It doesn't affect me, nor will it ever, so who cares?" kind of an attitude. (And that often gets you into trouble.)

Sun, 13 Sep 2009 23:37:00 UTC | #396777

Alternative Carpark's Avatar Comment 13 by Alternative Carpark

They'll be rasing the pyramids to the ground next...

Sun, 13 Sep 2009 23:50:00 UTC | #396780

Roger Welleog's Avatar Comment 14 by Roger Welleog

"Comment #414630 by beanson on September 13, 2009 at 5:17 pm

So the article doesn't make it clear whether they only arrest citizens- perhaps they also arrest tourists.

More to the point- how do they know who is a tourist and who a citizen?"


I read somewhere that all Egyptian citizens are required to carry identity cards that specify religion (incidently "non" is not an option). Possibly how Egyptian authorities descriminate who to arrest for that terrible crime of eating!

I seem to remember reading it in either Dawkins or Hitchens...

Mon, 14 Sep 2009 02:04:00 UTC | #396788

Carl Sai Baba's Avatar Comment 15 by Carl Sai Baba

Comment #414630 by beanson on September 13, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Childishness alert-
does anyone else when they see or hear of Ramadan automatically add 'a-ding-dong' on the end


Every time!

Except I specifically imagine this version:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CKKYO7Q2R0

Mon, 14 Sep 2009 02:38:00 UTC | #396790

tieInterceptor's Avatar Comment 16 by tieInterceptor

4. Comment #414655 by bertie wooster;

If they continue to regress in this way, they could bypass the seventh century and rebuild the library at Alexandria and add a few pyramids.


Mon, 14 Sep 2009 06:17:00 UTC | #396816

black wolf's Avatar Comment 17 by black wolf

"They should learn to have some measure of decency. In the past, Egyptians used to be decent. I hope they return to it."


I guess this is the same past that US right wingers conjure up. You know, the happy, crime-free and morally shining past that never happened.

Religious groups seem reluctant to engage in open debate, but rather resort to force to get their ideas through.


Duh. If religion was a topic of open debate with equal representation of the opposition, it wouldn't stand a whimpering chance. Hence the exemption from the rules of public discourse that religions have been cultivating since, oh, just about ever.

Mon, 14 Sep 2009 07:40:00 UTC | #396827

PERSON's Avatar Comment 18 by PERSON

Remember Egypt is the country where the doctrines of what was to become Al Qaeda originated. Qutb's notion of Jahiliyya (false consciousness) came out of its torture chambers and was taken still further by Ayman al-Zawahiri (also under torture), and his religious (rather than worldly) follower, OBL.

After 9/11 these ideas have become more influential, for obvious reasons.

"Unfortunately, this is the ultimate result of what will happen if the religious cancer is allowed to go unchecked."
Rubbish. The situation in Egypt is nothing like that in the West. There has never been a full democracy there, and there has been a constant high level of religiosity. The radicalism is more recent (the last 30 to 40 years or so) but it is founded upon an existing culture. If a threat were to come to Britain in the same way, it would have to be a form of radical Christianity, not Islam.

That's not to say there's no danger. Just that the situation is wholly unlike Egypt with respect to Islam.

Mon, 14 Sep 2009 07:48:00 UTC | #396829

Arjen's Avatar Comment 19 by Arjen

Egypt is not the only country regressing to the Dark Ages. Indonesia is also taking a turn for the worst: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/09/13/2684226.htm?section=world

Mon, 14 Sep 2009 07:58:00 UTC | #396831

Goldy's Avatar Comment 20 by Goldy

Don't forget Malaysia...and the Chinese will point to Xinjiang and Erdogan in Turkey was (is?) an Islamist....etc, etc.
On the bright side, Algeria seems to have quietened down :-)

Mon, 14 Sep 2009 08:31:00 UTC | #396843

ridelo's Avatar Comment 21 by ridelo

A few days ago I saw the Belgian philosopher Etienne Vermeersch debating some chemistry doctoral students on an Indian TV station. They said they could combine their scientific studies with a belief in astrology. No problem. That says it all!

Mon, 14 Sep 2009 08:33:00 UTC | #396845

ridelo's Avatar Comment 22 by ridelo

Well I guess that if my great-grandfather from thoroughly catholic Flanders from about 1900 could be teleported to this age here in Belgium he would have sided with the Islamists. He would be shocked to see to what his country would have been degraded. Hot-pants and legalization of abortion and euthanasia! I suppose hot-pants would be the worst offence.
Nevertheless he seems to have been a nice bloke from what I heard about him.

Mon, 14 Sep 2009 08:54:00 UTC | #396850

Colwyn Abernathy's Avatar Comment 23 by Colwyn Abernathy

beanson,

Childishness alert-
does anyone else when they see or hear of Ramadan automatically add 'a-ding-dong' on the end


I tend to think of Family Guy's Osama bit, "Dennis RADUMAN".

Mon, 14 Sep 2009 11:15:00 UTC | #396871

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 24 by Border Collie

quisquose ... Is that grape, orange, apple or what? I love that ... proves that Texans aren't the only people on the Earth who can't spell.

Mon, 14 Sep 2009 13:23:00 UTC | #396893

sbmuse's Avatar Comment 25 by sbmuse

Well Muslims remain their own worst enemy. If you read their "dawah-ganda" (i.e. missionary) literature, which they spread around in the hopes of getting people to "revert" (LOL!) to Islam, they make fasting in Ramadan sound like some great spiritual experience that helps one to not only increase in patience and piety, but to draw closer to the imaginary Arabian Sky Friend (i.e. Allah) as well. Those of us who have spent considerable time in Muslim lands, however, know that the reality on the ground is quite different. Ramadan, for most Muslims, is an excuse to sleep more, be lazy, come to work late, eat fancy meals, and have a short temper because "I'm fasting".

However, the ugliest aspect of it all is how Muslims freak out if they see anyone eating or drinking during daylight hours. So much for the spiritual peace that fasting is supposed to engender. It's pathetic really. Most Muslims, without realizing how ridiculous it makes them look, support the government not allowing people to eat/drink in public during daylight hours in Ramadan. In their superstitious and medieval little minds, public eating and drinking is a crime that might bring the curse of Big Al down upon them. They're so caught up worrying about earning the eternal rewards of Sky Guy and avoiding his wrath, they don't realize that they're perpetuating a PR disaster of near Biblical proportions. Yes indeed, Muslims are very much their own worst enemy.

So instead of being a month of near asceticism, the month of Ramadan ends up being one of hypocrisy, indulgence and the oppression of anyone who doesn't want to participate. It's a time when Muslims are hypersensitive and ready to be offended by the actions of others instead of simply minding their own little red wagons. Ramadan provides one of the easiest and most obvious ways of not only learning that Islam simply doesn't work, but of seeing clearly how the reality on the streets contradicts how Islam is portrayed in Muslim "outreach" (i.e. da'wah) literature and sloganeering pamphlets. As someone who was a Muslim for sixteen years, including four spent in the Arabian Gulf region, all I need to say in regards to Ramadan is: What a freakin' joke...

Mon, 14 Sep 2009 14:43:00 UTC | #396924

sbmuse's Avatar Comment 26 by sbmuse

"...a nation that was named by Gallup as the most religious country on the planet."


When I read this, I knew that this Gallup poll must be flawed in some way. After a few clicks of the mouse, I learned that it was based on a methodology which essentially asked "How religious are you?" So we're really supposed to believe that, in a country with a populace well-known for being habitual liars and subject to grand delusions, such a poll is reliable? A much better way to determine actual religiosity (i.e. real, not imagined), especially in a Muslim country, would be to observe and gather objective statistics on how many people pray five times a day, pay their zakat, fast in Ramadan, etc.

For what it's worth, I remember being told by some Arab Muslim activists that several years ago some research was conducted in regards to which Muslim country has the highest percentage of Muslims who pray five times a day (as Islam requires), and the winner was Indonesia. Much to the chagrin of these Arabs, all of whom were honest enough to admit that they guessed the winner would be Saudi Arabia, Indonesia was head and shoulders above the most pious Arab country. I haven't visited Indonesia since the late 1970s, but some of my Muslims friends who have tell me that, based on what they've seen, they have no trouble believing the conclusions of this (alleged) research.

Personally, I doubt if Egypt is the most religious country in the world, but I certainly believe that they probably think they are...

Mon, 14 Sep 2009 15:00:00 UTC | #396933

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 27 by Steve Zara

Comment #415004 by sbmuse

So we're really supposed to believe that, in a country with a populace well-known for being habitual liars and subject to grand delusions, such a poll is reliable?


Wow. What accurate poll did you use to establish the lying tendency?

Mon, 14 Sep 2009 16:00:00 UTC | #396949

sbmuse's Avatar Comment 28 by sbmuse

I didn't say I took a poll, but only said that they (i.e. Egyptians) were "well-known" for it. Obviously you haven't spent much time in the Middle East. If you doubt me, I suggest that you poll those who have...

Mon, 14 Sep 2009 16:07:00 UTC | #396954

Art Vandelay's Avatar Comment 29 by Art Vandelay

Pedant alert:

Alternative Carpark, the phrase is to raze to the ground

Mon, 14 Sep 2009 18:45:00 UTC | #396994

Ania's Avatar Comment 30 by Ania

..And as a cherry on top of the cake, 94% of Egypt's females have their genitals mutilated

Mon, 14 Sep 2009 18:46:00 UTC | #396995