Monday, July 31, 2006

Consensus on the Situation in Lebanon

Up to now there seems a consensus in words regarding the situation in Lebanon, especially after Qana tragic incident. The international community is calling for a ceasefire and an end to hostility. Israel government is unanimous on disarming and annihilating Hezbollah politically and militarily, putting this condition to withdraw its forces from Lebanon. Hezbollah is seeking to change the political map of the Middle East by calling for Israel to withdraw from Shebbaa farms. But the animosity between Israel and Hezbollah is so deep that even a territorial settlement will not put an end to the conflict even in the case of a ceasefire. It seems each has the right to exist at the expense of the other as co-existence is a remote possibility.

If there is any comparison to be made for this conflict, it is like a fight in a cowboy film when two heads of a gang get involved in a fight, surrounded by their men or companions who stand watching without intervening until one kills the other or inflict bodily harm on him.

So in this sense, the international community has been standing by to see first which side will have the upper hand before making a gesture that may change the course of the events.

Neighbouring Arab states, especially Syria, can’t intervene militarily as this will mean a declaration of war against Israel. For Syria, it can’t send its troops to Lebanon as its action will be seen as invasion liable to international sanctions. It also knows that it can’t get into such an adventure if it doesn’t have the support of a powerful country like Russia.

Israel is in Lebanon without facing such consequences as it is using the pretext of self-defence after having been “provoked” by Hezbollah which had kidnapped two of its soldiers.

But the powerful countries, especially permanent members of the Security Council, don’t seek an expansion of the conflict. It seems that for them, Hezbollah and Israel in open and unrestrained conflict is a lesser evil than an open war between Israeli army and another Arab army.

The world seems to have reached a consensus that when there is an international crisis of such a magnitude it becomes through time a daily routine, engendering ineffectual debates as it is happening in such areas as Palestinian territories, Iraq and Afghanistan.

When the conflict ends it becomes a history as the Israeli actions against the Palestinians in Southern Lebanon more than 20 years ago or the bloody incidents of Genin in April 2002. So the consensus for the international community seems: watch, talk as much as you can and forget about it altogether.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Hezbollah, a Twist of Arm or Fate?

Hezbollah is a Lebanese Islamist Shiite organisation with a military arm and a civilian arm. It can’t take power over as constitutionally not a single party can form a government. Power sharing is based on the representation of Lebanese population according to their faith. For example the President must be Christian and the Prime Minister a Sunni.

Its objectives are to be the arm and voice of those resisting the existence of Israel or having it as a military superpower in the region. It can enjoy support only among Muslim people as the Christians have their distinct way of life. It is the Christians for example who are reluctant to have Palestinian refugees on their soil. This means they don’t want to be involved in conflicts with Israel.
It will take a long time to disarm Hezbollah. It has acquired a pile of weapons during Syrian presence in Lebanon as it has learnt to make its weapons, especially missiles hitting Israel.

As long as it has support now within Lebanon and around the world, especially from those opposed to the US and Israel, it will remain a force to reckon with. Disarming it will mean to close all Lebanese borders and to make house to house search for weapons. Or to leave no stone unturned. As Israel failed to disarm Hamas which operates in a territory not yet recognised as an independent state, it will find it difficult to disarm Hezbollah which operates in an independent state with internationally recognized borders.

A Show of Strength, How long Can it last?

In this conflict, which is taking place on Lebanon's soil,, Israel is seen as free to do what it deems necessary to defend itself. It has benefited from the toothless world reactions as the international community didn't go as far as to send an international force to protect Lebanon from Israel invasion. Lebanon has become a theatre and the world as spectators who can't come up to the stage to alter the play. Every day becomes a scene and the final act hasn't been played yet for the curtain to fall. Meanwhile, the suspense continues for pro and anti Israel sides.

For Hezbollah, it can't afford to have a long breath to resist Israel without the military and financial support, especially from the outside. With or without Israel, Hezbollah will have to carry its fight even in Lebanon, one of the most liberal countries in the Middle East. Lebanon is a multi-faith society. So it can't impose its beliefs on it without dragging in it into a new civil war.

Lebanon has the right to live in peace. It is known to be one of the most civilised and modern countries in the region. But its geographic situation has made it a battleground between outside forces, especially the Syrians( in the past), the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Hezbollah has to be realistic in its approach in dealing with the situation in Lebanon without counting on countries like Syria and Iran, which gives justification to Israel to widen its military operations in Lebanon, enjoying the support of the US, which sees Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation and not a political wing worthy of treating as a negotiating partner.

Moroccan Government Reaction to Events in Lebanon

Morocco is moderate regarding the conflict in the Middle-East. At the start of the conflict the Moroccan government issued a declaration condemning Israel actions in Lebanon. But Morocco has direct and indirect links with Israel .There are about one million Jews of Moroccan origin, two third of them are living in Israel.

Morocco tries to act as a mediator. Although it has direct link with the Lebanese government it doesnÂ’t have an official link or influence on Hezbollah. There is little it can do to stop the violence. Some Israeli politicians likeShimon Perezss, the former PM, are welcome guests in Morocco. But this not enough to convinceOlmertt to withdraw Israeli forces from Lebanon. For balance Morocco sent aid to Lebanon as a gesture of solidarity in addition to official calls to stop the Israeli military actions in Lebanon.

The Media Dealing with the War in Lebanon

When there is a war, the media step in for coverage. But there are media that are ideologically oriented so they try to edit the events in accordance with their line by using forceful terms to win the hearts and minds of their audience.

The Arab media feel it is a duty to galvanize the Arabs against Israeli actions in Lebanon. Reporting the events objectively without inserting comments on them in favour of the Lebanese by the reporter himself or by an anti-Israeli speaker , also trying to have an interview with an Israeli official on the matter will be considered as a treason, that is siding with Israel or not being involved enough to denounce Israeli military actions. On the Israeli side, before Oslo Peace Accord, any Israeli journalist carrying an interview with a Palestinian politician could face prosecution.

Now that we have media boom through blogs and satellite channels, every side has a large space to put his case through. As many channels have become commercial, first they try to get the feel of their audience and report to them what they want to hear and see. So subjectivity gets over objectivity.

But there are channels like the BBC which does their best to balance their reports. The fact that the debate on the events in Lebanon has attracted thousands of responses, from pro-Israeli to anti-Israeli attitudes, shows that the BBC has won the trust of all sides. It has its reporters on both sides, Lebanon and Israel. Also in the wording of its reports it avoids words that can be considered as biased like "aggression"
or “martyrs”.

Now it has become the responsibility of the audience to make their opinion without seeking someone to tell them how to think. They should get the real background of the story and come with their own analysis. If they can’t make it public, at least they keep it to themselves as a guideline to know how to think instead of being made to think in an imposed way by sides who try to capitalise on events for their own sake.

Prospects of Ending Israel-Hezbollah Conflict

It is ironical that the international community, including US stood watching destructive attacks taking place without intervening in the right time. Now after the damages and reciprocal accusations, it seems the conflicting parties will seek diplomatic victory, showing the other side to be the aggressor. As calls from UN, Arab League, EU failed to stop the bloodshed, the US mission in the Middle East will be met with deaf ears as Israel and Hezbollah are trying to make their points their way.
There can be a lull, but the one that precedes the storm. As Hezbollah and Israel are set to make each other's life a hell, the borders between Lebanon and Israel will remain a mine of potential major conflict as it is happening theses days or just the scene of frequent skirmishes as a provocation for an all out conflict. As usual those who decide remain immune from the consequences of this conflict. Only innocent people who are made to pay for this with their belongings, livelihood or lives.

Polish Immigrants in UK

Poland is known in history as the country that was the cause of the start of WWII after its invasion by Hitler's forces. That was in the first half of the twentieth century. In the second half, the trade union movement in the 80's and the rise of Polish John Paul as the First non Italian Pope gave it more importance in the communist bloc.

Polish migrants in Europe, especially in Britain enjoyed the freedom their compatriots started to enjoy only 15 years ago after the fall of the Soviet Union and hence the fall of communist states from Europe altogether. Western Europe was freed from the Nazis thanks to coalition forces. Eastern Europe was freed from communism thanks to the support of free Western Europe although this took almost half a century to materialise.

The polish at home or in UK can have the same share of freedom but the economic divide is still there. Perhaps the EU, of which Poland is now a member, can bridge the gap.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Heterogeneity & Homogeneity in Great Britain

Opening a discussion on Asian communities and others of different backgrounds living in Britain is recalling a mixture for of past and present. It a mixture of nostalgia for the home country and a reflection on having a balanced lifestyle in which background and integration don’t cause identity crisis.

Having communities from different nationalities and cultural backgrounds living in the UK is a reminder of the days in which UK was the biggest empire in the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries. Regardless of the colonial period which must have had some controversial aspects, it was beneficial for UK and its colonies to come into contact. Britain enriched itself culturally and economically from these colonies. The British were exposed to different lifestyles, with which they were influenced and which must have influenced by modernising if not civilizing these colonies. A striking example is the famous police hat, whose shape originated from Indian traditional turban. Summer carnival is another example of Britain’s cultural heterogeneity.

The British left many of their colonies. But in those colonies they left their legacy. Their “colonies” accompanied them through immigrants. Now there are mainly Asians and African immigrants living in it.

Now we can see the overseas parts of the British Empire severed from it, as they have disintegrated in independent states, but they are still keeping a link with Britain through the Commonwealth. There is also a miniature of the British Empire is in the UK through the Mosaic of immigrant communities from these former colonies.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

When the Poor Ask the Rich : G8 & World Problems

G8 can't alone solve the world problems, especially for African

Rich countries in G8 like the US are providing constant help to poor countries, especially those with scarce materials. There are humanitarian organisations like Oxfam. But such help seems to bear little fruits. It is based essentially on food donation and the like. Such help isn’t the infrastructure needed by poor countries. They need the adequate human resources who have adequate education and full integrity. Politically, there must be full democracy so government at the local and central level coordinate steps to reform and progress.

Instead of asking for generous help from rich countries without being able to use it to good effect because of corruption, countries in need should take the example of G8 and EU to form an economic block to become rich. After all EU started with small and relatively not very rich countries then called Benelux. Now it is a very powerful economic block.
In conclusion, Poor countries should learn to be efficient and self-sufficient.

countries with inefficient governments. Writing off debts for poor countries can be a good start. But such countries should get rid of their ills like corruption. If China, India and Brazil join G8, there will be a new Security Council in disguise. Other third world countries will be faced with a giant block that will set the agenda for them rather than treating them as partners. China, Brazil and India still have huge problems to cater for their own people. So they won’t give priority to other countries whose economy is ailing because of mismanagement. Rich countries like US have their political agenda. They have their economy to sustain in face of international competition and energy rising cost. There are troubled regions in the Middle East. There is the issue of nuclear programmes in North Korea. All this makes poor countries, especially those in Africa, put in the second rank when it comes to solving world problems.Transcript of participation on Haveyoursay about G8 Summit on Sunday, July 16th, 2006 ( see the video link under the title: Is the G8 fit for the purpose)

The role that G8 can play to help poor countries I don’t think that G8 that can solve the problem of poor counties. It is them who should set the basis for that. They should have good government at the local and the central level. They should deal with the problem of corruption. And of course even if they depend on rich countries like the United States this has to do with its foreign policy. If you take, For example, the case of the Middle East, we have three countries that benefit from large aid from the USA, we have Egypt, Israel and Jordan. And this has to do with the peace agreement.

But if you take for example Africa, it is not at the focus of the interest of the United States because up to now, it doesn’t threaten its interests. So it doesn’t care if these countries are plunged in problems or not. Ands let’s remember that former French President François Mitterrand asked that G7 should devote 1% of its gross national product to help poor countries, but this didn’t take place. So if poor countries want to help themselves, of course they should lay the basis through education, through good management. Otherwise of course, all the aid can be just momentary if it doesn’t help these countries to have the basic infrastructure to get a good start.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Capture: Resistance and Revenge

Hezbollah fighters (picture on the left)
Israeli soldiers in Southern Lebanon

The capture of Israeli soldiers from its southern and northern borders means that factions opposed to Israel in the region are coordinating their method of resistance. Whether it is a coincidence or a planned action, the kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers will heighten tension in the region. Hamas government is apparently controlled by its military wing. The Lebanese government has no control over Hezbollah. Israel is apparently fighting militias, which governments from their countries have no control over them but they are controlled by other countries, mainly, Iran and Syria.

If the worst comes to the worst Israel will be obliged to hit targets in Syria to put pressure on it to put pressure on Hamas and Hezbollah to free the soldiers. These militias know in advance they have little to gain from their actions apart from publicity as a strike from them is met by loads of strikes from Israel.

Perhaps great mediators who have credibility among all sides should step in to solve the problem before skirmishes, limited bombardment turns into an all out war, involving Syria, Iran and insurgents from Iraq. Otherwise we will be in the Middle-East revisited prior to Oslo accord with constant Intifada, suicide attacks and strident measures from Israel in the name of legitimate defence

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Immigration: Communities and Identity

Many European countries have become melting pot, not to mention the US the biggest pot where you have a blender of all races. UK has a migrating population from its former colonies in Asia like Indians, Pakistanis and Middle-Easters. France’s third world countries immigrants are largely from the French speaking parts of the African continent, including North Africa whose population are racially distinct from the rest of Africa.

France like many European countries with settled immigrants has a mosaic of cultures, embedded with backgrounds from the countries of origin. Muslim communities emanating largely from North Africans have established themselves in France as a distinct community. They still cling to their country of origin. In Morocco, summer is the period for Moroccan immigrants in Europe, to visit to their country. This kind of continuous link has somewhat helped the new generation to have an idea about their country, although a great number of them can’t speak Moroccan Arabic.

One problem that can arise for immigrants is that of identity crisis. The younger generation of immigrants are aware of this origin. Although they can see themselves as integral part of French society, they arte still seen as the descendants of immigrants. This can lead to racial attitudes towards them as they are hotly waged by the Far-Right leader Joan Marie le Pen.

Because of economic hardship due to unemployment or lack of qualification for employment , many immigrants from third world countries – along with their descendants - are left on the margin of society. Spatially there are whole districts in which immigrants constitute the majority and in which they have their distinct ways of life.

Barbés is a live example of France or at least Paris as a melting pot. It is colourful with different races from different parts of the world. But this colourfulness which characterizes France sometimes fade because of the trouble that sparkles among and by immigrants as it happened last year in different French cities.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Zidane Reacting to Insult, Temper Loss and Wisdom

Zindine Zidane should have shown more restraint in a match of paramount importance to his career and to his country following Materazzi’s insult . He may have insulted him to provoke him and to affect his concentration and performance. But Zidane should have learnt from his history of violent behaviour on the pitch. Probably many French would think that if he had kept his calm, France would have won the World Cup. He should have reported him after the match as it was televised and there are lip readers to prove Materazzi insult.

There was an incident in a friendly soccer match between Morocco and France. French goalkeepers Fabien Barthez spat on the face of the Moroccan referee. But he kept his calm and resorted to legal action against him.

In general, there are incidents of scuffle and violent behaviour in sport and politics. Many matches are disrupted because of violence. In some parliaments, there are incidents of chair throwing, slapping and fist punching.

For Zidane, it must have been tragic for him to end his career with a send-off. He wasn’t allowed to stay on the pitch until the end of the match. But he will stay in football history as one of the players who marked modern football. He gas fallen momentarily. But he can rise to glory again. Diego Maradona is a good example of players full of controversy. But he has succeeded in keeping a good place among football fans.

He can find his consolation in being elected as the best player in 2006 World Cup Tournament. In a way, he got credit. The incident of the headbutt- causes and consequences- should remain a bygone incident.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Putin Interview, From engaged Communist to Committed Liberal

Mr Putin during his interview on BBC Haveyoursay has portrayed himself as an assuring president. He sounds like a president most of the world can do business with. He is one of the rare Russian presidents who have succeeded in keeping credibility at home and abroad. His stand on international issues like N.Korea shows that Russia has now become a country seeking international stability. It no longer seeks to use small states like Cuba as it did during the communist era to exercise pressure on the USA in carrying its foreign policy.
His openness on the media is spectacular. Now Russia becoming a liberal country there is no surprise to see Putin addressing world audience in a popular, charismatic and politically calculated manner.

His answering world audience questions is another form of the democratic side of Russia. Thanks to Haveyoursay, the commoners had the chance to have their questions answered directly and openly from a President who was once a member of the secretive and closed KJB.

His interview, to make a parallel, is a reminder of a speech exchange between former American President Reagan who addressed the people of the Soviet Union and former Soviet reformist President Gorbatchev who addressed US people. That was the start of real openness of Russia on the West. Now Russia has become fully a western country.
10/07/2006 19:05

World Cup, Glory and Tragedy /Past & perspective

Zinedine Zidane wouldn’t have resorted to headbutt if he hadn’t been provoked. His getting a red card was a double loss for France. The favourite player ended his football career “tragically”, in that he had to leave to stadium without being able to finish his career as he had planned. The second loss the defeat of France, which must have added more pain to him. But a single moment should not be allowed to ruin all that he has built so far. If he lost with his team the World Cup, at least he won for himself and France the honour of being the best football player in the 2006 World Cup.

But it will be better to see the world Cup for memory and as a repetitive event with different colours for countries hosting it, players being the wizards that sway the crowds and the crowds without whom the players won’t conjure up the demons in them.

As a memory, The World Cup was a continuous moment of expectations, joy and disappointment. The suspense felt during the matches was real and deep. There were moments of shock and surprise. The most memorable is the defeat of favourite Brazil and the qualification of France, which was disappointing at first, for the final match. But the crowds and the spectators made the World Cup an enjoyable moment as it was touching to see people from different countries and races united by the thrill of the game. Germany, the host country, made that possible through good organisation. Congratulations to winner Italy.

For the future, The 2006 World Cup organisation in Germany is a message to South Africa which will host it in 2010. It will have to be level with past organisations in Europe. The reputation of African football as a world event is in its hand. It should not put to shame Africa, struggling to have a place on the world stage. If Africans can do it well by good organisation, they can learn from sport how to organise their economic, political and social life. All is about collective spirit for good goals. They can have the golden goal if they - as a team- know how to target their goal with full precision.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Remembring July 7 London Bombing

The July 7 bombing should be a day for collective remembrance. It is not the fate of one country or city we should look upon as a single incidence. It is a wake-up call for all those who believe in tolerance and coexistence to unite from one end of the earth to the other, to cut the roots of those who have no concern but to impose their ways even on those who have their established ones.

The terrorists dream of establishing an empire of their own where they can exercise their fantasies, if not their animist religion. As in some primitive religions offering human sacrifices was sacred for continuity. For these new animists under the cover of Islam, they enjoy sacrificing people to quench their lust for blood. For them anyone having modern ways of living or not growing a beard is a legitimate target. Even Islamic countries aren’t immune from their attacks. In Morocco there was Casablanca bombing in 2003. Let’s not forget the victims in other countries like the USA on September 11, Madrid on March 11th, 2004, and Jordan last year year, and the countless victims of religious sectarian violence in Iraq. The list can’t be exhausted if it is to be given in full details.

Terrorism seems to have no borders. It seeks any land to fructify. It attracts the “well-educated”, the “well-to-do” as it attracts the ignorant and the poor. But to counter-attack it, people should learn to unite against it by saving those likely to fall in it and rounding up those likely to be set to carry out their “jihad” , regardless of what damage they can cause to true and reasonable Muslims. Muslims and non-Muslims should extend the hand of friendship to one another instead of pointing fingers of accusation. Doing the contrary will just strengthen the position of the terrorists whose exploitation of the media can draw more support for them.

UPDATE: ( In the aftermath of Mumbai blast)
The terrorist attacks bear similarity in terms of date. They may be the work of the same terrorist groups. A terror expert, psychologist or even a numerologist astrologer should resolve the mystery of the date in which they take places.

In the USA, the attack took place on September 11th.
In Spain, the attack took place on March 11th.
In Mumbai, the attack took place on July 11th.

Does the number 11 have some “veneration” for the terrorists, as it can be their “mascot” in carrying their deadly attacks?

More research should be made on the days of terrorist attacks to establish a "logical" link.

COMMENT published on BBC haveyoursay
Added: Tuesday, 11 July, 2006, 17:34 GMT 18:34 UK
Mumbai blast is another reminder that terrorism has no borders. Coward terrorists seek easy ways to carry their savage attacks. They choose places where there are unarmed and ordinary people to execute their savage attacks. They have no concern for the fate of those trapped in the attacks or the pain they cause to their friends and relatives.

They can't play it fair. They seek no democratic means to put their case through. Democratic countries are their target like India, US and UK.

Abdelilah Boukili, Marrakesh, Morocco
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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Gay Film Censorship in Egypt

It is a pity any depiction of reality in films is met with taboos. Freedom of expressions should be exercised by all means. If written press can deal with homosexuality, at least by portraying it as it is, the same freedom should be enjoyed by film makers. One conclusion to be drawn from a call to ban the film The Yacoubian Building is that Egyptian viewers aren’t left to choose what film to watch. Cultural creativity is dictated upon them. But taking the cultural context of Egypt many scenes should be banned like belly dancing performed by an almost naked female dancer. It is “unislamic” and erotically provocative. Banning a film because it has allegedly scenes with homosexual context is like denying existing homosexuality in Egyptian society.

In the West, there are many controversial films. The latest is Da Vinci Code. It was more daring in putting into question the fundamental beliefs of the Christians. It was denounced by some. But it was shown. Believers didn’t quit church because of it. I don’t think sensible straight Egyptians will turn gays just by watching an Egyptian film which got more publicity than it should.

For respect of freedom of expression, the film should not be banned. As a compromise, on its poster there should be a “warning” to people of its homosexual content. Then cine-goers take their decision.

Child Murder, Crime & Punishment

Children are the joy of life. The sight of a young child raises love and the instinctive drive to protect, not to abuse or kill them. Any sensible person, especially, adults and parents see all the children as their children. Even social animals of the same kind endeavour to protect one another. Monkeys, elephants and the like constitute a community where offspring enjoy protection. Even the most peaceful female mother in the animal kingdom becomes ferocious when one of its young is in danger. So let’s imagine the mental condition of parents and relatives deprived inhumanely from a child who can be the reason for their existence.

For the case of the two Belgian girls, any paedophile or child murderer should receive the most severe punishment, including capital punishment. Depriving a child of a normal life in case of paedophilia and of life altogether should be met with equal punishment. Human rights should be enjoyed by people having human qualities. But those who are less than animals should be kept out of society by reclusive imprisonment or by death.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

North Korea Nuclear Tests, Defiance or Compliance?

It’s unfortunate that arms race is still the sport of many countries. The history of wars and their consequence seems to be just for entertainment – like watching a film of Rambo. War has become the fashion even in video games. But taking fun in using sophisticated weapons in video games where brilliant attack and defence tactics make one score points isn’t the same as involving real soldiers or deadly weapons, especially nuclear weapons.

North Korea is trying to emulate powerful countries like USA in armament. But its strategy is doomed to failure as it doesn’t have the economic structure to sustain a military industry- producing costly nuclear weapons without jeopardizing the welfare of the NK people.

Internally, the NK leaders can subjugate their people through their police state system and making of their leader a sacred personality through personality cult. But they can’t intimidate the international community. They can have their arms. But the world order won’t go their way. There are too many intertwined interests among powerful nations to allow them to offset the current order. The entire world will be watching to curb NK influence, not to foster it.

Resisting Deportation in France

A show of solidarity is needed in all cases. Deporting parents with their children means family disintegration if the children are allowed to stay. Parents returning to their home countries will join the army of the unemployed. Children when joining their parents will have difficulty to adapt in their new schools, especially when it comes to language. A child of Moroccan origin who is 10 years old can’t adapt in a school where, say, Arabic is the main language.

Immigration should be seen from a human aspect. There were success stories in France when a Moroccan mother who had the full support of associations in France to defend the right of immigrants. She was finally allowed to stay after receiving an ultimatum.

France has the problem of child birth. The children of the immigrants can solve this problem. They can stick to their origins through their parents. The French authorities should create good climate for them to assimilate the French culture.

Brandishing an anti-immigration law against any apparently illegal immigrant can go against the French revolutionary principle which is summarized in equality, fraternity & solidarity.

English Tongue to Taste Philadelphia Restaurant Food

Talking about the imposition of English as a language of communication in a restaurant in Philadelphia, it seems absurd to use language criteria to offer service. It is like a doctor asking a patient to use medical jargon to treat him. The owner of this restaurant can use menus in different languages or a serial for any type of food. Non English speakers can use them to get a good service. Or simply he can turn his restaurant into a club without raising too much controversy.

The restaurant case is a reminder of French President Jacque Chirac leaving a conference in protest when a French delegate was giving his speech in English.
There is also the case of Catalonia where even a Spanish citizen has to speak Catalonian to get a job.

It is good to defend one’s language. But language should not be used as a barrier. Language can be important in some jobs. But basing services on the use of a particular language has two implicit meanings. It means the rejection of the other who lacks a particular linguistic skill. It is asking the customer to be stripped of his identity and to “wear” momentarily the identity of a particular group.

This linguistic “cleansing” is absurd. The lexis of a language is the consequence of the interaction with other cultures. English in areas where there are Hispanics is enriched by Spanish words. If we want to purify English from all words that aren’t English in origin, we should start using pre-Shakespearian English, which was then a dialect with limited vocabulary.

As Kevin said in the blog, communication sometimes fails even when speaking the same language because words and expressions have different connotations according to groups. Maybe this restaurant owner will not be requiring just English, but a certain type of English and accent.

If the owner of this restaurant calls Haveyoursay again, please don’t shock him by telling him that BBC website offers free informatively nutritive services in 33 languages.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Football & Racism

Jean-Marie Le Pen seems to have gone out of steam. He tries to gain support in France by attacking immigrants as if France’s social, political and economic ills will end by evicting the immigrants and replacing them with “pure” European race. By calling for a French football team which doesn’t include foreigners, he wants to politicise football. He can also call for “ethnic cleansing” in the French army, security, enterprises and so on as they include foreigners of African and Arab origins.

His racist attitude was echoed on a BBC programme about Zidane, when an immigrant said when the French team wins they call the players French. When they lose they call them blacks and Algerians. For Jean-Marie Le Pen, when the French err it is human. When the immigrants err, they should be wiped out of the French society.
But Jean-Marie Le Pen got the best answer to his attitude when the French team beat Brazil, qualifying for the semi final. The popular response to his comment was from the huge crowds that went out celebrating the victory. It is a message that the French in great majority take their society as multicultural and multiracial for granted . If some immigrants cause trouble in France, it is because of the racial attitudes they suffer from, especially when it comes to employment.

In conclusion, Monsieur Jean-Marie Le Pen has no correct reading of his society because his political vision is blurred by his unjustified racism. I invite him to listen to a song by Sting- addressing Presidents Gorbatchev and Reagan in which he says, “I believe in biology. I don’t believe in ideology.”

Israeli Soldier Kidnapping from Borders, Intransigence & Honour

The Israeli army must have felt humiliated by the infiltration of Palestinian fighters into its military base, escaping from it after killing two soldiers and kidnapping another. This can put in question their level of vigilance. But politically, both the Israeli and the Palestinians should be pragmatic. The fight should not go on for the sake of a soldier. It should be stopped for the sake of peace. Otherwise, more causalities are to be expected on both sides through attacks and suicide attacks.

Taking the tone of both Hamas and Israeli officials, it seems unlikely the situation will calm down. Hamas refusing to recognise Israel is diplomatically having its back to the wall through the sanctions of the some Quartet members –US & EU – the main aid donors. Hamas has then only the card of continuous struggle to make its presence felt internationally and to keep its credibility among the voters who brought it to government- a government that officiated in paper, which has more link with the media than with influential governments.

As the situation stands, there are two antagonists set to use all means risk everything to defend their principles in a world standing as a witness at worst and coming up with advice for both sides at best .

Monday, July 03, 2006

Role Models for Muslims in Sport

In the Muslim world, there aren’t many figures that are considered as role models for young Muslims. In sport, for example, the young Muslims tend to favour European football championship and so the stars in these teams eclipse the championships in other Muslim countries because of the level of performance. Zidane wouldn’t have become a role model if he wasn’t a player in Real Madrid, the focus of sport media. Being a role model has to do with favourable publicity in addition to performance.

But there were famous athletes from the Muslim world, especially North Africa. From Algeria there was Morseli, From Morocco there were athletes like Aouita, Nawal Al Moutawakkil and Hisham Al Garrouj .These became world famous, especially by winning Olympic gold medals.. Late King Hassan II of Morocco once said that people outside Morocco knew Aouita but not the king of Morocco. Hisham Al Garrouj before his retirement was the focus of analysts and spectators during the championships. He stole the light during his participations.

Such Arab athletes -representing the Muslim World in international competitions - will be remembered as world record breakers and gold medallists, especially in the Olympic Games