Blog archive: All

  • 23rd November 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Egyptian morality police are systematically using fake social media accounts to target LGBT people, according to a report published yesterday. Out of 232 prosecutions for "non-normative" sexual behaviour over the last four years, 129 – more than half – were the result of entrapment through...
  • 15th November 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    In case you are wondering about the lack of blog posts here during the last couple of weeks it's because I have been investigating some British angles in the Trump/Russia affair. Since it's not very relevant to the Middle East I decided to post it on Medium rather than al-bab. Readers who are...
  • 31st October 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    A week after Saudi Arabia unveiled plans to build a $500 billion futuristic megacity free from the kingdom's usual religious restrictions, there's confusion over what, exactly, will be allowed. A video presentation last week envisaged men and women working side by side in the new city, women...
  • 30th October 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is on a mission to shake up Saudi Arabia, the most change-resistant of Arab countries. Though still only 32 and not actually king, he appears to have been given unlimited power and is determined to make use of it. Last week alone, he...
  • 26th October 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Amid the continuing moral panic over homosexuality in Egypt, a draft law submitted to parliament proposes not only to criminalise gay sex but also to ban rainbow flags and outlaw almost any kind of social activity involving gay people. The draft law, presented to the Speaker by MP Riad Abdel...
  • 24th October 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    A Saudi court has decided that no one was to blame for the disaster that struck Mecca two years ago when a crane toppled on to the Grand Mosque, killing at least 108 people and injuring more than 200 others. The crane, which had not been properly secured during a storm, was operated...
  • 22nd October 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The shadowy figures behind the London Centre for Public Affairs – an apparently bogus PR firm with Qatari connections – have now set up a second organisation. This time it's a mysterious NGO which purports to be monitoring the activities of the United Nations. The new body, known as Independent...
  • 17th October 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Khalid al-Hail, a 29-year-old Qatari living in exile in London, is a man with grand ideas. People address him as "Sheikh Khalid", though on Facebook he prefers to call himself "His Excellency". Variously described as a businessman, philanthropist and reformist, al-Hail is best known as the...
  • 4th October 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    When the sight of a few people waving rainbow flags at a pop concert becomes an act of "moral terrorism", when it plunges a country into hysteria and the government responds by arresting dozens of people on suspicion of being gay and orders the media to show them no sympathy, it's time to ask why...
  • 3rd October 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    When Mashrou' Leila, a Lebanese band whose lead singer is openly gay, performed in Cairo on September 22 several members of the audience waved rainbow flags. Religious leaders, politicians and sections of the Egyptian media were horrified and demanded swift government action. The authorities...
  • 2nd October 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    In an uncharacteristically magnanimous decision, a Saudi court has cleared 13 people of blame for the disaster that struck Mecca two years ago when a crane toppled on to the Grand Mosque, killing more than 100 people. The crane had been operated by the Saudi Binladin company (founded by...
  • 2nd October 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The moral panic over homosexuality in Egypt, which began when several fans at a music concert waved rainbow flags, took a new turn at the weekend when the authorities ordered local media not to show any sympathy for LGBT rights. On Saturday the Supreme Council for Media Regulation – whose...

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