I was invited by the German Foreign Ministry to spend ten days in Berlin as part of a blogger tour initiative. I’ve never been to Germany before as a tourist, let alone a guest of the government. It was an educational experience in which I learned a lot about Germany and also the countries of the 14 other bloggers who were invited too. read more
Category Archives: Regional and International
Yesterday morning the minister of health, Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeah publicly got himself and one of his daughters vaccinated at a launch ceremony for the H1N1 vaccine campaign. This was reported in today’s newspapers. So I went through the comments posted on the article and just as I suspected many if not most doubted that what was in the needles used on the minister and his daughter was the vaccine or just water or vitamins. I’ve heard this so many times and now it’s posted for everyone to see; our obsession with conspiracy theories.
Logical arguments have no power at all in these cases. Just last night I was on the phone with a friend who had kept her daughter out of school this year and absolutely refuses even the idea of the vaccine. She touts around a newspaper article about an official from New Zealand being fired from the WHO because he/she has voiced objections to the vaccine.
I agree that the H1N1 might be over-hyped in the media and that drug companies are making good money out of the vaccine. But that the Saudi health minister would be in on a conspiracy to vaccinate Saudi citizens?! Some of the rumors going around are that it makes people sterile and that its effects do not become evident until five to ten years later. And so the minister would know this as a fact and like a villain out of a movie, he would push the vaccine on the Saudi population. We watch way too much TV.
Besides the CDC and the WHO websites for those with vaccinating, there are two websites that I found that are against the vaccine but base their arguments more on science rather than conspiracies: Dr. Meryl Nass’s blog and NVIC.
Two articles that I’ve come across are an excellent read if you are interested in Saudi Arabia. The first was written by Wajeha Al Huwaider on the abuse of Saudi women rights and the second is on the CNN website about what motivates Muslim terrorists. Finally journalists are starting to get it right about the recruitment of youth into “the holy war against infidels”. I wish though that they had put more emphasis on the Palestinian/Israel conflict. What makes youth turn against the outside world rather than facing their own governments and life conditions are the great injustices by Israel against Palestinians. They can’t demand such luxuries as democracy and government accountability when Palestinians are raped of their land and basic human rights. The latter is just a greater cause.
Once Palestinians are happy with their own country, these recruitments will go extremely down. And our youth will be able to look inward for a cause within their own borders.
Katie Couric from CBS News stops a Saudi man on the street and asks him if he is a muttawa. I found that really funny. You don’t ask a religious fanatic if he is a religious fanatic. The way that she stood there and with a matter of fact attitude claimed that women are not allowed to go to the open market unescorted. Couldn’t she have asked a Saudi? I’m speculating here but she probably asked some non-Saudi Arab translator (Lebanese or Egyptian), someone who probably doesn’t even live in Riyadh.
To set the record straight, I could right now go alone to that very same market and shop until I drop and no one would say a thing. It just happens that she was probably filming on a weekday night and hence there weren’t that many people of either sex. And the term muttawa is a colloquial term that should not be used by a reporter and especially not to ask someone who might be a muttawa. It comes from the Arabic word mutatwa and it basically means volunteer because men are not paid that much to monitor morality in society. Now in Saudi slang it has negative connotations and is used to refer to someone (man or woman) who is a self-righteous Islamic fundamentalist that goes around correcting people regardless of whether or not they are employed by the PVPV. A true muttawa would call himself a member of Al Hisba which means ‘those who hold people accountable’. And their over the top religious life style is called Eltizam and so the person would refer to himself as multizim.
The boycott and walk out on Ahmadinejad’s speech at Durban II smacks of hypocrisy. Tariq Al Maeena has a an excellent piece today for those of us not wearing western ideologies horse blinkers. He concludes his article with a quote:
Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store stated it best during a news conference. “If we start walking out every time we feel uncomfortable dealing with our ideological rivals, the world would be the one to lose,” he said.
This video shows a Palestinian poet who had given up her daughter for dead after the daughter was captured by the Israeli forces. The poet while being interviewed is asked to unsuspectingly watch a video of her daughter arrive at the UAE airport and then they had the daughter walk into the studio. The poet goes hysterical with happiness and surprise. It doesn’t really need any translation because most of it is unintelligible screaming. Imagine believing a loved one is dead and then seeing them. Very emotional.