The Mideast and Abroad
- Published on Friday, 12 April 2013 00:00
Egyptian authorities have expanded the ban on fans attending matches to include international as well as domestic games in a bid to prevent violence that is likely to backfire and spark renewed incidents in a country that is reeling from economic decline, widespread discontent and lack of confidence in the government and law enforcement.
Sports minister Al-Emary Farouq announced the ban from international matches following incidents in African championship games involving crowned Cairo clubs Al Ahli and Al Zamalek SC as well as Ismaili SC.
The ban is certain to upset militant, highly politicized, street battle-hardened fans or ultras divided over verdicts announced in January and last month in the trial against those responsible for the death last year of 74 Al Ahli fans in a politically loaded brawl in the Suez Canal city of Port Said, and opposed to the already existing barring of supporters from recently restarted domestic matches.
- Published on Friday, 05 April 2013 00:00
State-owned Qatari television network Al Jazeera is exploring the acquisition of Spain’s La Liga premier soccer league rights in a bid to expand its budding global sports franchise, tweak its business model in a world in which pan-Arab television is on the decline and compensate for mounting criticism of its coverage of popular revolts in the Middle East and North Africa.
Al Jazeera’s renewed interest in Spanish rights comes as financially troubled Spain’s two major sports broadcasters, Mediapro and Canal Plus, which is owned by Grupo Prisa, are struggling under a mountain of debt. It also follows a breakdown in talks with Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, according to Spanish news website El Confidencial Digital.
Grupo Prisa with debts estimated at €3 billion and Mediapro with liabilities of €300 million hinted last year that they would not bid at current rates for the Spanish league rights when the broadcast contract expires in 2016.
- Published on Wednesday, 03 April 2013 10:00
The Gulf states dominate headlines with Qatar’s controversial hosting of a World Cup and the high profile acquisition of European soccer teams, but they may be meeting their match in an emerging competition for being the Middle East and North Africa’s prime sports, transportation and economic hub.
Turkey may not have the Gulf’s financial muscle, but on virtually every other front it brings assets to the table that smaller oil-rich states lack: geographic and demographic depth; a soccer-crazy population that fills stadium; storied, internationally accomplished and recognized clubs; a respectable international track record in a variety of other sports, including basketball and volleyball; ethnic, cultural and ex-colonial links across a swath of land stretching from China to the Atlantic coast of Africa; a functioning democracy with all its warts that many see as a model for the Muslim world; a highly developed educational sector; one of the world’s largest standing armies; and a state-of-the-art industrial base that drives on indigenous labor.
- Published on Monday, 01 April 2013 00:00
Normally, we reserve Mondays for our “Music Monday” feature piece. And, I'm not one to turn my sections here into a soap box for my cultural grievances and political rants; to me, that's just bad journalism. But you know what else is bad journalism? Standing by silently in the face of hypocrisy against your fellow artists. Especially when you have access to a media platform that lets you do otherwise.
So, this isn't exactly a music article. But in the larger context of dummy governments, ventriloquist dictators parading as supposed presidents and how all that goes down in terms of censoring artists, it is. Because all bets are off when you arrest not only the country's top satirist, but creatives of any kind while claiming to be a democracy. Maybe Egypt’s president, Mohammed Morsi, played hooky from Leadership 101 the day he was supposed to get the handout on what constitutes a president. So here's a CliffsNotes version: a president is someone who plays fair, and if you want to play fair, you have to take whatever heat comes your way. Because throwing your critics in jail makes you the playground bully. Grow a thick skin, already!. You want to diffuse your national lampoon of a presidency? How about actually doing your job?
- Published on Friday, 29 March 2013 00:00
At the eleventh hour, Prime Minister Netanyahu hustled to put his coalition government together only two days before President Obama's visit to Israel. Undoubtedly, Netanyahu's last-ditch effort was prompted by his incontrovertible desire to be the sitting, rather than the caretaker, prime minister in his meeting with President Obama.
Being the political animal that he is, Netanyahu calculated that first he needed to remind Mr. Obama that he must deal with him for the next four years, stating: "I look forward to working with you over the next four years to make the alliance between our two countries even stronger." That is, if his coalition holds together, but then again Netanyahu is no stranger to wishful thinking.
He further calculated that since Obama wants to prevent another failure in his peace efforts, he will avoid locking horns with him again and instead settle for diplomatic niceties. Here is where Netanyahu was wrong.
- Published on Thursday, 28 March 2013 00:00
Islamophobia is generally a trend debated within the confines of western media. Considering high profile attacks like 9/11 in New York, the 7/7 bombings in London, and similar incidents in the rest of Europe, this observation is not entirely surprising.
Nowadays, though, majority Buddhist populated nations such as Burma and Sri Lanka have been in the spotlight as anti-Islam attitudes and violence against Muslims have become increasingly prominent.
The Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), a Buddhist/nationalist Sinhalese group has stirred a bizarre controversy surrounding the sale of Halal food in the country, protesting its complete ban around the nation. A rally took place in the heart of the capital Colombo, where thousands chanted slogans and wore t-shirts decrying Halal meat. As a result, out of fear of reprisal, Muslim establishments have taken action to stop Halal certification.
- Published on Tuesday, 26 March 2013 00:00
When United States generals and politicians warn that Afghanistan is not ready for the 2014 troop withdrawal, they generally cite the quality of the internal security forces. The internal security forces must be able to beat back the Taliban or else Afghanistan will fall back into their hands as it was in the early 1990s. All of these reports are related to the power of the centralized government, the ability for Karzai to effectively rule over the state’s peripheries, and the reliability of the Afghan security forces.
Yet, anyone who has tried to govern Afghanistan knows it is impossible to control the peripheries, and anyone who has tried to invade it knows that a well-groomed security force does not grant one with the ability to maintain a secure Afghanistan. For a real prediction of what will happen in 2014, you have to look at the Afghan’s hinterlands, where local elders and ingrained tribal customs carry far more weight than the Afghan security forces.
- Published on Monday, 25 March 2013 00:00
On February 19th, some university graduates, human rights activists and two royals were sworn into the Saudi Consultative Council of the Shura Council. Of these new members, thirty were women.
Overjoyed by this change, which marks a shift in Saudi Arabia’s practice of gender mixing, one of the new female Council members, Thurata al-Arrated said the move was "empowering to women" and it gave her hope for women’s "greater participation in general affairs of the country."
King Abdullah took the throne when his modernizing brother, King Fahd, died in 2005. He is seen as the "reformer" in Saudi Arabia and has said, "We refuse to marginalise women's role in Saudi society.” He previously banned the kissing of his hand and the hands of other royals, saying it should be reserved for ones parents among other social reforms.
- Published on Monday, 25 March 2013 00:00
President Obama’s foray into the Middle East may well provide him the last opportunity to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which is central to the region’s stability. Having failed in his effort during his first term to forge peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the President may not want to invest significant political capital to seek a solution to an intractable conflict with an uncertain outcome. That said, the raging conflicts throughout the Middle East — the horrific civil war in Syria, the unending violence in Iraq, the instability in Egypt, the simmering conflict with Iran — may appear to have little to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, yet they are interconnected and will affect one another. A resolution to this explosive conflict is a must and only the United States can influence, induce, pressure or even resort to necessary coercive measures to compel Israel and the Palestinians to make the required concessions and reach a peaceful agreement.
When the Muslim community in America reaches a point of finally talking about the issues of radicalism that face Muslim youth, that’s a sure sign that we’ve progressed. Surely, intolerance...
Continuing my look (aslan-media-columns/above-the-fold/item/336-poignant-crowd-sourced-film-recreates-the-palestinian-experience#.UYHBECvEpn8) at the use of crowd funding in the Middle East, in this post I turn from entertainment to the media, specifically citizen journalism.