Not an open thread


by Katy
29th April, 2007 at 3:57 am    

I am not in the mood for an open thread this week, I’m afraid.

Normally I use the open thread to ask you to give me something interesting to read, to watch, to listen to or to think about. And politics is strictly verboten. But this week I’m going to break all the rules and recommend you some reading instead.

Sandmonkey is an Egyptian blogger. He’s been writing for a while. He gave those of us who have never been to Egypt a window into its society. He is a passionate believer in democracy. No doubt as many Egyptians disagree with his views as agree with them; that’s usually how it works, isn’t it? But today he’s announced that he has reached a stage where he no longer feels that it is safe for him to blog.

Why? Read this.

And then this.

And then read all of his archives, and check out his blogroll too. You’ll be glad you did.


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  1. Radical Muslim :: Sandmonkey… If you cant handle the heat… :: April :: 2007

    [...] has stopped blogging has been receiving massive amounts of blog publicity such as here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and [...]




  1. Kulvinder — on 29th April, 2007 at 5:16 am  

    Doesn’t seem that interesting tbh.

  2. Kulvinder — on 29th April, 2007 at 5:26 am  

    NB He doesn’t seem to present arguments so much as rants (its in the blog title obviously…); and he has an almost generic pseudo-statist ‘neo-con’ view of the world, being a ‘libertarian’ doesn’t go hand-in-hand with saying

    ‘I am never ever ever gonna move to the UK. I am sorry, but no. That’s just too much multiculturalism crap for my taste!’ (regarding channel 4′s decision to have a hijabi giving the christmas speech)

    or going on about political-correctness. And his opinions of socialism are lunacy.

  3. Katy — on 29th April, 2007 at 7:10 am  

    What I find interesting about it, Kulvinder, is that by presenting his views he’s put himself at personal risk. But if you don’t find the content of his blog interesting, don’t read it.

  4. ZinZin — on 29th April, 2007 at 10:31 am  

    Nothing to do with what happened last night is it, Katy?

  5. Bijna — on 29th April, 2007 at 11:15 am  

    > ‘I am never ever ever gonna move to the UK.
    > I am sorry, but no. That’s just too much
    > multiculturalism crap for my taste!’
    > (regarding channel 4’s decision to have
    > a hijabi giving the christmas speech)

    It is crap. Hijabs are banned in parts of Tunesia en Turkey for a reason.

    And I dont see an archbishop blessing and beheading the first sheep on Sacrifice Feast.

  6. jamal — on 29th April, 2007 at 11:34 am  

    He has good arguements, a pity he’s going!

  7. Katy Newton — on 29th April, 2007 at 11:40 am  

    ZZ – what happened last night?

    Congrats on the Brit Blog roundup, by the way!

  8. Bert Preast — on 29th April, 2007 at 11:47 am  

    Sad news. I’ve been reading Sandmonkey every month or so for years now, and I’ll miss him.

    Kulvinder – it’s not important whether you agree with his politics or not. What matters is he is one brave bastard, and now even he’s scared to speak out against the government. He doesn’t go around beating up opponents or organising terror campaigns, he just speaks his mind. And now he’s scared to. That’s not good anywhere.

    Thanks Sandmonkey, and here’s hoping we hear from you again in better times.

  9. ZinZin — on 29th April, 2007 at 12:37 pm  

    Katy
    I am talking about the latest post at your blog. Those events did happen last night didn’t they? Nice car by the way.

    Thanks the post that made the britblog round up has possibly influenced government policy.

  10. Halima — on 29th April, 2007 at 1:02 pm  

    Thanks for circulating, no-one should face these pressures in this day and age, but we know that in the rest of the world this level of repression is the norm.

    Freedom is precious.

    By the way did PP bloggers read last week’s Guardian piece on 10 easy steps to becoming a faschist state?

    I think it was Naomi Klein( I hope I got the right Naomi) and it basically says USA has taken all the 10 steps already. Scary – don’t want to encourage a bashing rant against US – but it was scary nevertheless.

  11. Halima — on 29th April, 2007 at 1:04 pm  

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,2063979,00.html

    It was Naomi W.

    very interesting read .

  12. Katy Newton — on 29th April, 2007 at 1:19 pm  

    ZZ – no, it was a few weeks ago now, and I hadn’t really thought it was bloggable until I told a friend about it and she said “You should blog that”…

  13. Katy Newton — on 29th April, 2007 at 1:20 pm  

    Halima – that is one of the reasons I posted about this, because on the one hand we are lucky that the UK is a country where you cay say what you like about the government in pretty unfettered language without your blog, paper or station being closed down and without being taken into custody – but it also occurred to me that we shouldn’t be complacent about those freedoms, because history teaches us that they can be withdrawn at any time.

  14. leon — on 29th April, 2007 at 2:32 pm  

    I agree with that point that whether you agree with him or not isn’t quite the point. Katy comment (#13) is bang on the money if you ask me.

    To dismiss him because his politics are different forgets the old line that starts with “First they came for…”

  15. Refresh — on 29th April, 2007 at 2:39 pm  

    I think this debate is already happening on http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/1104

    Although sandmonkey is not the central figure.

  16. leon — on 29th April, 2007 at 3:07 pm  

    Ah but you see your theory of 73 comments before a thread goes to junk means that thread is best left alone.:D

  17. Refresh — on 29th April, 2007 at 3:09 pm  

    hahaha – you are right.

  18. leon — on 29th April, 2007 at 3:14 pm  

    :D

  19. Kulvinder — on 29th April, 2007 at 3:35 pm  

    So in conclusion the word ‘interesting’ was unfortunate :(

  20. Katy Newton — on 29th April, 2007 at 4:08 pm  

    It’s a legitimate viewpoint, Kulvy. Perhaps not necessarily the main concern in this particular scenario, but still legitimate.

  21. Chairwoman — on 29th April, 2007 at 4:51 pm  

    Kulvinder – You have astonished me. You are the last person in the world who I would have imagined putting someone’s politics before their right to express them without fear of torture or imprisonment.

  22. Sunny — on 29th April, 2007 at 5:25 pm  

    Damn, that’s a shame… I used to really like reading Sandmonkey :(

  23. Anas — on 29th April, 2007 at 6:26 pm  

    This is one of those occasions where the wider context is important. Egypt may not be as democratic as we’d like, but they are our allies in the war against terror. If that means we loose a few sandmonkeys along the way, big deal. Think about it, if Egypt became a democracy, the Muslim Brotherhood would win and that would really fuck things up (think of the increased danger to Israel!).

  24. Don — on 29th April, 2007 at 6:42 pm  

    Ironic, right?

  25. Anas — on 29th April, 2007 at 6:54 pm  

    r u being sarcastic?

  26. Don — on 29th April, 2007 at 7:00 pm  

    Nope, just trying to establish if you are; people are so unpredictable.

  27. ZinZin — on 29th April, 2007 at 7:02 pm  

    Anas, unpredictable? now your being sarcastic.

  28. Anas — on 29th April, 2007 at 7:02 pm  

    yes I was being ironic. I thought the Israel comment gave it away.

  29. Don — on 29th April, 2007 at 7:07 pm  

    Just checking.

    Actually, I agree with the sentiment.

  30. Sunny — on 29th April, 2007 at 7:13 pm  

    I would like more democracy in the Middle East, but with a tight constitution so groups like Muslim Brotherhood can’t come in and simply chuck it away and impose their own version of theocracy. The Turks this weekend had a big rally against the Prime Minister’s move away from secularism. All power to them. Mainland Europe is completely stupid for not embracing Turkey.

  31. douglas clark — on 29th April, 2007 at 7:22 pm  

    Refresh,

    Post 15. Did you read Henry Porters piece in the Guardian:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2068112,00.html

    I’m still wading my way through the link you gave to the Reith lectures:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/reith2007/schedule.shtml

    Cheers

  32. Refresh — on 29th April, 2007 at 7:25 pm  

    Douglas – will read it.

    The last one I read of his was so weak – I could have mistaken it for Martin Bright.

    Tks

  33. Refresh — on 29th April, 2007 at 7:26 pm  

    Whilst we’re on the subject of people being banned from publishing – when do we get Amir back?

    Whatever you think of him, he always had a twinkle in his eye – did he not?

  34. Refresh — on 29th April, 2007 at 7:33 pm  

    Sunny your #30 is based on undemocratic prinicples.

    Its the equivalent of Bush putting together the constitution of Iraq. You are free to vote, but don’t expect a say in the economy.

    You can’t have your cake and eat it.

  35. Chairwoman — on 29th April, 2007 at 7:34 pm  

    Refresh – It’s almost as though Amir has been thrown out of the classroom until he’s learned to behave himself :-)

  36. ZinZin — on 29th April, 2007 at 7:37 pm  

    Refresh are you the patron saint of lost causes? There is no chance of Amir being allowed back on these pages. What he said about Mark Oaten was beyond the pale and that before you take into account his persistent trolling.

  37. Chairwoman — on 29th April, 2007 at 7:39 pm  

    Refresh @ 34 – Isn’t that exactly what happens here? We are free to vote, but the Government (whatever it is), invariably fails to implement the policies that got it elected.

    What we do have, however, is the right to criticise that Government without fear of torture, imprisonment or ‘vanishing’.

  38. Don — on 29th April, 2007 at 7:40 pm  

    More like a tired and emotional guest being ushered from the room. I’d love to see him back, when he’s worked through his issues. But he hasn’t forgotten us;

    http://timworstall.typepad.com/timworstall/2007/04/how_very_odd.html

    Refresh,

    I didn’t see #30 as undemocratic, just distinguishing between democracy and majoritarianism.

  39. Refresh — on 29th April, 2007 at 7:58 pm  

    Don, you’ll have to explain that one to me. Other than a democracy consisting of more than an executive, I am not sure what you have in mind.

    Chairwoman your #37 reminds me of that old proverb ‘If voting achieved anything they’d abolish it’.

  40. Refresh — on 29th April, 2007 at 7:59 pm  

    Also

    “without fear of torture, imprisonment or ‘vanishing’.” Is that true for everyone?

  41. Sunny — on 29th April, 2007 at 8:04 pm  

    when do we get Amir back?

    Not anytime soon. I don’t have a habit of spending too much time engaging with or giving time to racist homophobe trolls. And that’s the last time I’m going to bother addressing the subject.

    Its the equivalent of Bush putting together the constitution of Iraq. You are free to vote, but don’t expect a say in the economy.

    Bad analogy. I’d like to see a democracy put together by the locals that will not be thrown out of the window once the Muslim Brotherhood get through.

    And anyone who mistakenly believes Iran is a democracy would be wise to read the regime’s latest fad:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6605487.stm
    and
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6596933.stm

    Wouldn’t be surprised to see that happening with the Muslim Brotherhood.

  42. Refresh — on 29th April, 2007 at 8:09 pm  

    ZinZin, regarding Mark Oaten, he had said much more in the past – along the lines of him being repulsed by the physical act – which he went on to describe in graphic detail. If I recall he ‘seemed’ to have the same view whether it was a homo- or heterosexual act.

    Which other respondents dealt with, especially Clairwil (adding her own details).

    As I am pretty sure that wasn’t the reason, I would rather have him here (where we can see him – if you like. :)

    His lewd side always did bother me, but it seems some of the girls were happy with that, or even happier for it.

    I should say if he could lay off the darker side of intimate liasions, he would be a more interesting read.

    And better if he could put down his dictionary of swear words.

  43. Refresh — on 29th April, 2007 at 8:11 pm  

    “Bad analogy. I’d like to see a democracy put together by the locals that will not be thrown out of the window once the Muslim Brotherhood get through.”

    Now, that’s something I could agree with.

  44. Refresh — on 29th April, 2007 at 8:14 pm  

    Damn those ‘emoticons’! Not sure I like it all yellow and beaming, prefer them a little understated, such as : ) if I am going to use any at all.

  45. Anas — on 29th April, 2007 at 8:21 pm  

    I’d like to see a democracy put together by the locals that will not be thrown out of the window once the Muslim Brotherhood get through.

    The very same locals who’ll be voting for the MB right?

    And anyone who mistakenly believes Iran is a democracy would be wise to read the regime’s latest fad

    For some strange reason the name Mosaddeq comes to mind.

  46. Refresh — on 29th April, 2007 at 8:24 pm  

    Don, read Amir’s posts on TimW blog – and you can see why he is so endearing.

    And he makes some very interesting (good) points.
    Side-swipes aside of course.

  47. ZinZin — on 29th April, 2007 at 8:35 pm  

    Refresh
    Amir may be disgusted by bottom sex but he suggested that Oaten was a faeces eater. That was the final straw. Refresh forget about Amir.

  48. Refresh — on 29th April, 2007 at 8:40 pm  

    OK, Lets leave Amir for a couple of weeks.

    Also, not sure Sunny sees him as the golden goose I think he is.

  49. Chris Stiles — on 29th April, 2007 at 8:54 pm  

    I made the assumption that raime = amir. The persona and angle are different, but the style of arguments very similiar.

  50. Sunny — on 29th April, 2007 at 8:54 pm  

    The very same locals who’ll be voting for the MB right?

    Only because they are the only alternatives there are right now to the dictators.

  51. Refresh — on 29th April, 2007 at 9:41 pm  

    “when do we get Amir back?

    Not anytime soon.”

    Chairwoman – we need to set up a campaign group over the next couple of weeks so we can get him back in. Perhaps you can take charge of his elocution and I’ll deal with his bromide supplements.

  52. Bijna — on 29th April, 2007 at 11:07 pm  

    > Mainland Europe is completely stupid for not embracing Turkey.

    Mainplace Europe notices that most criminals are muslims.

  53. douglas clark — on 29th April, 2007 at 11:22 pm  

    Bijna,

    Have you any evidence for that assertion?

  54. Halima — on 29th April, 2007 at 11:52 pm  

    Didn’t Turkey make the wearing of Hijiab in public spaces illegal?? They haven’t even done that in Europe.

    Would’ve thought that would convince hardliners that Turkey was ready for Europe…..

  55. Sunny — on 29th April, 2007 at 11:59 pm  

    Bijna, so which BNP seat are you running for?

  56. Anas — on 30th April, 2007 at 12:00 am  

    All power to them. Mainland Europe is completely stupid for not embracing Turkey.

    Yeah, cause Turkey has a great human rights record doesn’t it. It’s not like writers get threatened with jail for making un-Turkish statements.

  57. Bijna — on 30th April, 2007 at 12:25 am  

    > Have you any evidence for that assertion?

    You want clear statistics? In English? There are none. Still it is blatantly obvious, just by walking the street.

    One prison imam has said that 1 out 3 juvenile delinquents in Holland also has a Maroccan passport.

    Just a random page:
    http://www.scp.nl/publicaties/persberichten/9037702376.shtml
    sais that 1 out of 5 Maroccan Dutch is suspected of a crime, compared with 1 out of 25 native Dutch.

    Here is something in English:
    http://www.papillonsartpalace.com/mmore.htm

  58. Bijna — on 30th April, 2007 at 12:58 am  
  59. Anas — on 30th April, 2007 at 1:08 am  

    Re: Sunny’s comments:
    I would like more democracy in the Middle East, but with a tight constitution so groups like Muslim Brotherhood can’t come in and simply chuck it away and impose their own version of theocracy.

    Only because they are the only alternatives there are right now to the dictators.

    Yeah, laudable aims, but I have this wacky notion that the people of a country should actually decide the direction they want their country to go in based on what they want, and not — and this is almost always been the case — what’s in the best interests of a small rich western elite and its continued need to control the country’s resources; or even what Western commentators think would be the best idea from their point of view.

  60. Sunny — on 30th April, 2007 at 2:25 am  

    Still it is blatantly obvious, just by walking the street.

    As ever you astound us with your incisive facts and commentary Bijna. Are you Amir’s cousin by any chance?

    Anas: or even what Western commentators think would be the best idea from their point of view.

    I’m biased towards democracy, so sue me. I know its also a wacky idea but I get the inkling people generally like living in countries where they can broadly do what the like within the law and have religious freedom. What’s the country that hasn’t been invaded and faced imperialism and yet runs its country on ‘Islamic principles’? Iran. And they have lots of freedom for their people don’t they?

  61. Kulvinder — on 30th April, 2007 at 3:45 am  

    In this thread i furiously backpeddle :(

  62. Kulvinder — on 30th April, 2007 at 11:35 am  

    nb hes still not the type of blog i’d read

  63. Refresh — on 30th April, 2007 at 11:38 am  

    Kulvinder

    I am with you on that. He could very well end up being the Chalabi of Cairo.

  64. Chairwoman — on 30th April, 2007 at 12:34 pm  

    Refresh – I am smiling at you from the distance.

    You yourself are conservative in every way except the political one.

    Like me, you don’t like the bad language and smutty talk in mixed company that our children take for granted, we both like modesty, although we might culturally have different perceptions of it, and we understand what that much-abused phrase ‘family values’ actually mean (we are also more tolerant of a certain erstwhile commenter who shall remain nameless).

    But politically, you’re a firebrand.

  65. Anas — on 30th April, 2007 at 12:46 pm  

    Me too, Kul.

  66. Anas — on 30th April, 2007 at 12:54 pm  

    I’m biased towards democracy, so sue me. I know its also a wacky idea but I get the inkling people generally like living in countries where they can broadly do what the like within the law and have religious freedom.

    Me too, but it’s not the kind of preference you can impose on others if they generally don’t want it. At the end of the day that’s what at issue here.

    What’s the country that hasn’t been invaded and faced imperialism and yet runs its country on ‘Islamic principles’? Iran. And they have lots of freedom for their people don’t they?

    Huh, didn’t I mention Mosaddeq above? I tell you I’d still rather live in Iran than in some of countries that are our closest allies, Saudi Arabia being a prime example.

  67. Refresh — on 30th April, 2007 at 1:26 pm  

    “(we are also more tolerant of a certain erstwhile commenter who shall remain nameless).”

    I think he is lovely.

    “But politically, you’re a firebrand.”

    In a past life.

    Smiles back.

  68. Chris Stiles — on 30th April, 2007 at 1:35 pm  

    Me too, but it’s not the kind of preference you can impose on others if they generally don’t want it. At the end of the day that’s what at issue here.

    Sure – but the issue then is, what happens if they change their minds. The one man, one vote, one time, doesn’t really cater for change. Nor is it intended to.

  69. ZinZin — on 30th April, 2007 at 5:31 pm  

    “Huh, didn’t I mention Mosaddeq above? I tell you I’d still rather live in Iran than in some of countries that are our closest allies, Saudi Arabia being a prime example.”

    I will buy you the ticket to Tehran myself or would you like one to Beirut instead? Easy to make such stupid statements when you live in the West. Those Iranian students may have some harsh words for you Anas.

  70. Anas — on 30th April, 2007 at 6:42 pm  

    Seriously, you buy the tickets I will go, ZZ.

  71. Anas — on 30th April, 2007 at 6:52 pm  

    Shit I might even get to meet Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Hassan Nasrallah!

  72. limpia — on 1st May, 2007 at 4:02 am  

    i think sandmonkey is terrific- thanks for mentioning it katy. your own democracy is perhaps underappreciated by many of you-same thing happens in america-i myself have been guilty of it in the past.

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