Saturday, October 08, 2005

Being gay in the Arab world

It's got to be tough to be gay in the Arab world. But at least in Lebanon some gays are standing up for their rights.

In Lebanon, gays can find refuge at the cramped, one-room office of Helem, which says it's the first Arab nongovernmental organization openly fighting for their rights. Helem was set up last year despite a vaguely worded law that punishes "unnatural sexual intercourse" with up to one year in jail.

Lebanon, with its mixed population of Muslims and Christians, has a history of religious pluralism and exposure to the West. But elsewhere, homosexuals are on their own.

Egyptian authorities use criminal articles against debauchery and prostitution to prosecute gays. They have entrapped, arrested and tortured hundreds of men thought to be gay, says a report by New York-based Human Rights Watch.

It says police agents snare gay men through Internet personal ads, and that at least 179 men have been prosecuted for debauchery since the start of 2001. Hundreds of others have been harassed, arrested and often tortured but not charged, it says.

Among them are 52 men rounded up in 2001 in a police raid on a boat-restaurant on the Nile and accused of taking part in a gay sex party. A court acquitted 29, 16 were convicted and freed pending their appeal, and a few were jailed for a year.

French President Jacques Chirac
has expressed concern to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak about the treatment of gays, but the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, the country's largest rights group, says homosexuality is so detested in Egypt that it cannot speak out against prosecutions of gay men.

A recent Egyptian news report posted by Al-Arabiya TV on its Web site described a Kuwaiti gay wedding party in Cairo and triggered hundreds of blistering messages. Some of them said insurgents in
should be killing gays instead of innocent Iraqis.

Many claimed the United States and Israel were promoting homosexuality to strip Arab men of their manhood. Only a handful urged tolerance of homosexuality.

Whether the wedding took place is not clear. The story was detailed but didn't identify the hotel, and Egypt's attorney general, Maher Abdel Wahid, issued a statement saying no complaint was received and no investigation was ordered.

Saudi Arabia, which enforces a puritan Islamic code, also keeps gays under pressure, according to Human Rights Watch.

On March 10, it said, authorities detained more than 100 men at a party in the city of Jiddah, sentencing many of them in closed trials without legal counsel to up to two years in prison and 2,000 lashes, usually meted out 50 at a time depending on medical examinations.

Human Rights Watch said the offenses weren't spelled out, but a Saudi news report claimed the men allegedly were "dancing and 'behaving like women.'"

Last year another Saudi daily, the English-language Arab News, said 50 men were arrested for allegedly attending a gay wedding in the holy Muslim city of Medina.

Dalal al-Bizri, a Cairo-based Lebanese sociologist, says gays are more reviled than drug addicts "because homosexuality is seen as being exported to the region by a country whose armies and fleets have struck Arabs — the United States."

"It's also seen as a threat to an insecure Arab machismo that has been politically impotent and feels humiliated by its inability to do much for the Palestinians or Iraqis," she said.

In the West Bank
and Gaza Strip Palestinian vigilantes at one point were treating gays as unforgivingly as they do informers and drug or gun dealers.

This has even led to cases of Palestinian gays finding sanctuary in Israel, where homosexuality is tolerated.
Gay Palestinians have said it's easier to find common ground with Israeli counterparts because both can relate to being oppressed.

In June 2001, a handful of Palestinians joined thousands of Israelis in
Israel's Gay Pride Day.

But despite that -- and in an astounding display of utter Jew-hatred or cognitive dissonance, or both -- the boys and girls of QUIT are as anti-Israel as they come. What tools.

Thursday, October 06, 2005


As I was leaving class today a man in a suit asked me if I could tell him where Bascom Hall was located.

"Wrong university," I replied. "In fact, wrong city entirely. Bascom is a building at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. You are at UW-Milwaukee."

He's only about 75 miles off target... Sucks for him, I suppose.

Iran continues to up the nuclear ante

I don't believe Iran's nuclear ambitions can be negotiated away. Eventually they will have to be blown away. The only two countries who will do that are the US or Israel. I don't know if the US will act, because I think the war in Iraq has taken a toll on our willingness to engage in any more military "adventures." Plus, anything -- anything -- the Bush administration suggests or does will be immediately rejected and opposed out-of-hand by nearly half the country as a matter of principle.

Iran’s nuclear menace threatens Israel the most, and therefore the Israelis may be the ones who end up taking military action. I hope they are cooking up a good plan, because degrading Iran’s nuclear ability will be much harder than taking out Saddam’s single French-built nuclear reactor was.

Iran military's nuke role worries U.S

Monday, October 03, 2005

News that's not news

Sometimes you read a headline like this: Study: Most Will Be Fat Over the Long Haul

Followed by a lead like this:

BALTIMORE - Just when we thought we couldn't get any fatter, a new study that followed Americans for three decades suggests that over the long haul, 9 out of 10 men and 7 out of 10 women will become overweight.

Oh, really? Gee, thanks, I needed an associate professor of medicine to tell me that gem of wisdom. Of course people get fat as they age--just look around! That's why one of my motto's is: "They all get fat."

My other motto is: "Everybody I meet is crazy until proven sane."

But even if you are eventually proven sane, you'll still get fat.

Most people are crazy and fat.

Awwwww, cute

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Iran threatens to shoot self in foot

I'm no economist, but it seems to me that if 80% of your country's entire income is from petroleum sales, cutting back on oil exports is going to hurt yourself far more than your clients.

Iran could hold back oil sales if it is referred to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions over its nuclear program, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a newspaper interview published Saturday.

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