The rise of ISIS and other groups has left the entire region of the Middle East in smoking ruins with tens of thousands of innocent victims. So when the head of Egypt’s State Information Service Salah Abdel Sadek said at Cairo University that he had traced the source for such violence, many thought that they would hear a frank discussion of Islamic extremism. Yet, instead of Bin Laden and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the culprit proved (at least in part) to be none of than Tom and Jerry.
Backed by the United States, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has led a crackdown on civil liberties in Egypt, particularly when it comes to critics and journalists. In Egypt, a teenager was jailed for cartoons of Muhammad and a leading businessman was attacked for a cartoon of Micky Mouse with a beard. Then there was the three-year sentence given Amr Nohan, a 22-year-old law graduate for posting a Facebook image of al-Sisi with Mickey Mouse-style cartoon ears shown above. A leading cartoonist Islam Gawish, 26, was arrested in Egypt by the hyper sensitive al-Sisi government. This year, al-Sisi went after journalists who dared to even criticize his policies as a criminal act against the state. Now al-Sisi has finally had enough with the pretense of civil liberties. On Wednesday, he reportedly rejected even the notion that civil liberties should apply to Egypt as a “Western perspective.” In other words, such freedoms have no place in Egypt. What is really remarkable is that he told his to a congressional delegation from the United States without fear of any question over the massive aid that he receives from this country.
Just when you thought that Turkey could not get more frightening under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamic parties, you get a story like this one. Turkish lawmakers were debating Erdogan’s effort to adopt an Islamic constitution and further increase his authoritarian powers. A member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) sought to quote Oscar Wilde when members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) objected that they had no idea who Wilde is and thought he was quoting from the Oscar movie awards. When the meaning was made clear, these Erdogan drones objected that it was a reference from a Western source. Of course, as Wilde noted, “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.”
In an example of how religious fervor can overwhelm basic judgment, the residents of a remote Indonesia village called Kalupapi recently discovered what they believed to be an “angel” on a beach. They described a being of “shining white, (with) round eyes with red eyebrows” that was naked, crying and only clothed in a white cloth after descending from the heavens. Police seized what they said was far from angelic: a sex toy that was tossed over the side of a boat.
We have been following the increasing lines at security checkpoints in our airports due to budget cuts and TSA incompetence while airlines pile on extra charges for passengers while reducing both room and comfort to the level of cattle cars. As passengers are treated with level more regard than cattle by TSA and the airlines, the airlines themselves are racking up huge profits. Indeed, the most recent report shows that U.S. airlines had a combined $25.6 billion in net earnings last year. Yet, the airlines successfully lobbied to kill a bill in Congress that would have required such things as the publication of leg room on seats.
There is a deeply disturbing controversy out of one of South Africa. Ntokozo Qwabe is an Oxford student who has received incredible privileges as a Rhodes Scholar and looking at virtually limitless opportunities. However, when he and a friend went to eat recently, they refused to leave a tip for a waitress because she was white and instead left a note that reduced Ashleigh Schultz, 24, in tears. Qwabe, who has led a campaign to remove a Cecil Rhodes statue at Oxford, displayed not only his own racism but lack of humanity in the treatment of Schultz, particularly in posting a gleeful account of who he made Schultz cry “typical white tears.” He celebrated on line that he and his friend were “unable to stop smiling because something so black and wonderful had happened.”
If you thought Donald Trump was raising eyebrows in a presidential election with his support for torture and killing the families of terrorists, he appears perfectly moderate in comparison to Philippine presidential frontrunner Rodrigo Duterte. Duterte likes to comment on his genitals and recently attracted international criticism for a disgusting joke about his desire to rape a female minister who was savagely killed in 1989. Now he is being quoted as saying that he would pardon himself for mass murder if elected and hand out thousands of pardons to government officials accused of such crimes.