On being appalled and outraged; Mubarak’s promise of a “better democracy” as Obama reminds him of responsibility

The protests against the June 2009 election results in Iran, brought forth this condemnation from Pres. Barack Obama

The United States and the international community have been appalled and outraged by the threats, the beatings, and imprisonments of the last few days.  I strongly condemn these unjust actions, and I join with the American people in mourning each and every innocent life that is lost.

We’ve seen the timeless dignity of tens of thousands of Iranians marching in silence.  We’ve seen people of all ages risk everything to insist that their votes are counted and that their voices are heard.  Above all, we’ve seen courageous women stand up to the brutality and threats, and we’ve experienced the searing image of a woman bleeding to death on the streets. While this loss is raw and extraordinarily painful, we also know this:  Those who stand up for justice are always on the right side of history.

Eqypt has been on the boil over the past six days. By most accounts, over a hundred protesters have been killed. And President Obama refuses to be appalled or outraged. Here are the Nobel Peace Prize-winning President’s comments on the issue,

In the absence of these reforms, grievances have built up over time.  When President Mubarak addressed the Egyptian people tonight, he pledged a better democracy and greater economic opportunity. I just spoke to him after his speech and I told him he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words, to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise.

President Mubarak pledged a better democracy and President Obama asked him to give meaning to those words. I fail to understand how a Dictator can provide a better democracy. He (s/he?) can vacate the premises in order to end the Dictatorship and let elected representatives form the government.

Simon Tisdall, at the Guardian has explained why a better democracy under the Dictatorship is a necessity. It is so because Washington “needs a friendly regime [read better democracy] in Cairo more than it needs a democratic government”.


When Neda Agha Soltan was shot in the streets of Tehran in June 2009, presumabky by the Iranian security forces, Obama was moved by the “searing image” and mourned the “each and every innocent life that is lost”.

Why isn’t anyone in the American establishment, appalled and outraged by this?

The above image was obtained from


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…and what a Friday it was

I had ended by my previous post saying “[l]et’s hope Friday prayers (on 28th January) finally end with something more meaningful than a nauseatingly boring sermon.” I had obviously written this prior to the announced demonstrations in Egypt.

The Egyptians took to the streets in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and a host of other places I was unfamiliar with. Under a complete communication vacuum, they confronted the riot police, won Round I and are now facing the Army in Round II.

The events over the past three days (Jan 25th to 28th) have unfolded at such a quick pace that those with  a stake in Egypt’s stability (read Mubarak’s Dictatorship) have not been able to wrap their mind around what has happened.

The mind is writing cheques the heart can’t cash

The mind sees that years of effort at maintaining a gallery of Puppets is coming undone on the streets. The heart says it is all a bad dream, all one needs is a hard pinch and everything will be fine. Experts, who want to remain anonymous, say that a perfect symptom of this mind-cheque bounce is the inability to process questions on the subject, with a tendency to give the exact opposite answer to a very specific question.

At [03:50]
Al Jazeera: What are the differences between Tunisia and Egypt?
PJ Crowley: In Tunisia you had an interesting combination of indigenous forces…But what is common across the board is that…

Another important fact is that the protests have been inclusive (“The crescent and the cross against murder and torture”), so much that even the Muslim Brotherhood has been reluctant to claim them as their own, while some others fantasize that they were religious in nature. The MB is probably keeping the religious rhetoric low in order to gain more acceptability. It has to be admitted that protest saw an exponential rise on Friday, the 28th after the MB announced its intention to join the protests.

Egypt, was the first Arab country and is one of only two Arab countries – the other being Jordan (1994) –  to have signed a US-mediated peace treaty with Israel.

The peace treaty was sealed essentially with a promise that Egypt would receive $2.3 billion a year in aid, divided between economic and military, and Israel would receive $3 billion.

Read the rest here.

The implications that the establishment of a democracy in Egypt has for the State of Israel are nothing short of earth shattering. It is with the help of the Egyptian Dictator that Government of Israel has strangled Gaza for the past three years.

As far as the USA goes, any democratic setup in the Arab world will only throw up parties whose policies towards the US and Israel would be defined on a scale of distance from both.

Pro-US parties by the standards of the Middle East would be prohibitively anti-US by American standards.

It is very difficult to imagine a genuine democracy in the Arab world today that could openly adopt a US-friendly regional policy. If a superpower could get the same amount of subservience from a democratically  elected Prime Minister that it gets from client-dictators, it would.

Think Mossadegh and Allende.

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Hilary Clinton on the Egyptian protests (25th Jan)

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, when asked for a comment on the protests in Egypt, said

With respect to Egypt, which … has been experiencing demonstrations.  We know that they’ve occurred not only in Cairo but around the country, and we’re monitoring that very closely.  We support the fundamental right of expression and assembly for all people, and we urge that all parties exercise restraint and refrain from violence.  But our assessment is that the Egyptian Government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.

It will interesting to watch how this sentiment changes according to the situation on the ground.

Let’s hope Friday prayers (on 28th January) finally end with something more meaningful than a nauseatingly boring sermon.

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Another day of GLOBAL news at the “world’s largest selling English-language daily newspaper”

The Times of India, the “world’s largest selling English-language daily newspaper” never fails to instil in me a sense of national pride. This, it does by reporting every obscure piece of news that has a remote ‘Indian’ association.

My chest swelled with pride on Monday (24th Jan 2011) when I found out, on the front page, this wonderful piece of news:

And on the TIMES GLOBAL page, where the paper pretends to give you International news, the same news was hoisted to the top of the page, but with a twist. The Italian PM was was shown grinning widely at the piece of Jim Carrey news. TOI probably has inside information that Berlo (as they lovingly call him) is eyeing the “dusky beauty” in “in a pink minidress, heels and black cardigan”.

And did you know the ‘Bunga Bunga’ girl says had sex with Berlo. Did you? You know now.

Apart from this, there was the usual Hollywood celebrity news section, inexplicably named ‘AROUND THE WORLD‘. They don’t even try to give you celebrity news from around the world. In Monday’s section, we find out that the ‘Home Alone’  star, Macaulay Culkinn in now dating  a Spanish porn star. Finally, some news I can use!

Outside of Around The World, there was news on how Veena Malik (of Big Boss fame) broke down on Pakistan TV on charges of misrepresentation of the Pakistani women and culture. And that a British Cabinet Minister not only cheated on his wife, but cheated on her with actor Kevin Costner’s lover.

All this, in the GLOBAL news section.

So what do you  know of events around the globe after reading the largest selling english language  newspaper in India?

  • Veena Malik cried because of a chauvinist.
  • The Home Alone kid is dating a porn star
  • Silvio Berlusconi slept with another woman and is grinning at Jim Carrey’s new Indian girlfriend.
  • We can all be proud Indians because Jimmy’s doing someone with an Indian connection.
  • A British Cabinet minister cheated on his wife.
  • And he cheated with Kevin Costner’s somebody.

Satyriasis and Nymphomania can be treated guys. They can. Give it a shot.

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The anti-religious/Marxist-secular Islamic terrorist?

During debates on terrorism, one can find many a security expert insisting that terrorism be prefaced with the word ‘Islamic’ whenever it is mentioned. Because, it is said, the first step towards solving a problem is being able to correctly define the problem. If we get squeamish with definition, we’re in trouble.

Whenever I’m reading an article on Islamic terrorism by a security expert, I’m quite prepared for a lot of Islamic terrorism, Islamic extremism, Islamic radicalism, Islamic fanaticism and of course, Islamic fundamentalism. But it’s only being done in pursuit of defining the problem, which is a necessity if we ever want to solve it, so it’s all good.

You can imagine my surprise when I found a misplaced deployment of this definition, while reading Raghu Raman’s column in the Dec. 15th issue of Mint. I always thought an Islamic terrorist was one who was inspired by a certain interpretation of Islam to wreak havoc on the world. Apparently not. Here’s the gem:

Interestingly, secular groups, and not Islamic fundamentalists, have been responsible for more than half of suicide attacks, with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)—a Marxist group— holding top spot. Secular groups with Marxist or anti-religious beliefs (such as the PKK, a Kurdish terrorist organization) also account for more than one-third of Islamic terrorist attacks.

There we have it. How does one manage such inconsistency in the same sentence? How does one point to attacks by secular/anti-religious, Marxist groups and end that sentence by bringing all of them under the Islamic banner. My guess is that it comes from spending too much time and energy defining the problem and doing little else.

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Reporting caste-based discrimination

Sunita Jatav fed a leftover roti to a wandering dog, the dog’s owner saw her feeding it and “excommunicated” the creature. Why? Because he belonged to a higher caste and Sunita was an out-caste, i.e. lower than the lowest caste in Indian society.

A meeting of the village elders was called, who decided that Sunita was not only to adopt the dog, but also pay a fine of Rs. 15,000 to the owner. Thankfully, Sunita refused to pay and tried to file a report at the nearest police station.

The Times of India carried this story with a lot of sympathy for, the animal. The poor animal was “accustomed to the creature comforts” of its “influential” home. The poor thing was now ex-communicated and its “life couldn’t get worse”.

By Suchandana Gupta

BHOPAL: A dog’s life couldn’t get worse. A mongrel brought up in an upper caste home in Morena was kicked out after the Rajput family members discovered that their Sheru had eaten a roti from a dalit woman and was now an “untouchable”. Next, Sheru was tied to a pole in the village’s dalit locality. His controversial case is now pending with the district collector, the state police and the Scheduled Caste Atrocities police station in Morena district of north MP.

The black cur, of no particular pedigree, was accustomed to the creature comforts in the home of its influential Rajput owners in Manikpur village in Morena.

Read the rest here.

It’s interesting to note how much and what kind of attention is devoted to the dog and to Sunita.

The story wasn’t reported in The Hindu. But the Pakistani newspaper Dawn, carried a lengthy article by its India correspondent, titled How people like Sunita Jatav make India beautiful.

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