Blog archive: All

  • 24th July 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    I’m in two minds about Mazen Abdul Jawad, the 32-year-old Saudi who has been arrested after bragging on TV about his sexual conquests. He does come across as appallingly sexist. On the other hand, that’s no reason for the religious police to swing into action and have him flogged. Abdul Jawad, a...
  • 24th July 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Moqtada al-Sadr, the rabble-rousing Iraqi cleric, visited President Assad in Damascus earlier this week to discuss “brotherly and friendly relations and mutual interests”. The Syrian president underlined “the importance of strengthening national unity among the Iraqi people, and Syria's care...
  • 23rd July 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Writing about the Arab Human Development Report yesterday, Inoted with pleasure that Capmas had not been involved in the research, and promised to explain more about this dreadful Egyptian institution. Capmas, the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics, is a hangover from the...
  • 23rd July 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    At least 10 people have died in a two-day battle between Shias and Sunnis for control of a mosque in northern Yemen. Although tribal fighting in the country is common, the sectarian dimension in this case is new and alarming. It appears to have started with both sides insisting on their...
  • 23rd July 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
      Agence France Presse is reporting that at least 16 people were killed today and 30 injured by shelling and gunfire in Zinjibar on the southern coast of Yemen. Earlier reports (including theofficial news agency and the BBC put the death toll at eight). AFP says the...
  • 22nd July 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Hot on the heels of the Egyptian poet who was jailed – and then released – for unpublished verses that “insulted” President Mubarak, the latest head of state to be attacked is Mohammed VI, king of Morocco, lover of water sports and Commander of the Faithful. The Arabist...
  • 22nd July 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The fifth Arab Human Development Report (AHDR) sponsored by the UN has just been published and, once again, it looks set to stir up controversy. This time the report is about security in the Arab countries: not the war-on-terror kind of security as defined by Bush and the...
  • 21st July 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    I was taken to task by a friend the other day for mentioning the “murder” of Yasser Arafat in the same breath as conspiracy theories about the death of Princess Diana and the Kennedy assassination. The idea that Arafat was murdered is far more plausible, my friend said. The murder...
  • 21st July 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    I’ve been talking rather a lot about Yemen since this blog started – partly because the situation there is worrying and partly because it’s getting so little attention from outside. Put simply, the fear is that Yemen could turn into another Somalia or Afghanistan. An article in the Yemen...
  • 21st July 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The amateur Egyptian poet who was sentenced to three years in jail and fined $18,000 for “insulting” President Mubarak in unpublished verses has had his sentence quashed by an appeal court. That is good news. But why do these ludicrous cases keep cropping up in Egypt and other...
  • 20th July 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Contrary to popular belief, women are not banned from driving in Saudi Arabia. There’s no law that says they can’t drive. It’s just that, er … they have a lot of trouble getting a licence. The same can be said of the Jeddah Film Festival: not banned exactly, but stopped. The five-day event was...
  • 19th July 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Mauritania is one of those out-of-the-way off-the-radar Arab countries that rarely get much attention. I must admit I have never been there myself, though I have flown over it a couple of times – which in the circumstances probably makes me something of an expert. Anyway, Mauritanians were...

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