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Terrorists are criminals, not Muslim activists

CAMBRIDGE, UK: The rise of extremism in the Muslim world has led to the widespread view of Islam as a religion of violence, retribution and war. This is in complete opposition to the truth of our religion and, on behalf of the vast majority of the 1.3 billion Muslims who are ordinary, peace-loving, decent people, …

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INTERVIEW: Egypt eyes $5.25 bln from privatization in 2 years

DUBAI: Egypt expects to earn at least LE 30 billion ($5.25 billion) in the next two fiscal years from the sale of state assets, about 50 percent more than in the last two years, the investment minister said on Monday. Egypt should conclude up to 30 privatization transactions by July 2007, including the sale of …

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Sometimes science catches up with common sense

Medical prescriptions sometimes come with an instruction to take medicine on a full stomach. Doctors often counsel patients to pay attention to their diet as they recover from illness. It’s common sense. Yet until recently, donor countries have poured billions of dollars into antiretrovirals and other medication to counter the growing impact of AIDS in …

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Egypt PM sees summer referendum on constitution

CAIRO: Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif said on Monday Egypt would hold a referendum next summer on constitutional changes that should pave the way for ending a quarter century of emergency law within 18 months. Nazif said work was under way to amend the constitution to change the power system, encourage political parties and replace an …

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Jitters over the looming Fatah-Hamas showdown

Palestinian politics is approaching the point of no return. The power struggle between the Islamist Hamas and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and his secular-nationalist Fatah movement is intensifying, with tensions having manifested themselves in outright combat. Since Hamas was founded in the early 1980s, it has refused to come under the leadership of the Palestinian …

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Palestinian apathy does not mean an end to resistance

I have been observing discussions in Ramallah for some time now, trying to understand what people think about the political situation in general and the Israeli aggression against Palestinians in particular. I have noticed that the majority discusses social and personal issues with minimal reference to political events. On the same day an elderly woman …

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An ambitious Spanish plan becomes a modest flop

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s set of proposals to break the seemingly interminable impasse in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems doomed to failure – but not because there is anything in them that is wholly unreasonable. First, it would appear to be the wrong moment for any real progress to be made, with Israeli …

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Without international support, Lebanon may go under

UN Security Council Resolution 1701 was perceived as an opportunity for progress in the immediate and mid-term future. It opened the way for the Seniora government to demonstrate its capacity to take the steps needed to regain sovereignty over South Lebanon, consolidate national security and achieve economic recovery and repair of all the damages caused …

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Zamalek coach feels the heat

Zamalek striker Amr Zaki has admitted that his relationship with the Portuguese coach Manuel Cajuda has hit rock bottom. The 23-year-old ace was omitted from Zamalek s starting lineup that faced Ittihad Libya in the Arab Champions League on Tuesday. Cajuda accused me publicly of faking injury and deliberately omitted me from the starting lineup …

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Mahfouz characters go on trial in old Cairo

CAIRO: In the Wekalet Al-Ghoury district of old Cairo, a convoy of prisoners was paraded before an audience and made to stand trial. They stood accused of murder, revenge, thievery, conniving to commit violence, treachery, and a slew of other unmentionable – and perhaps, unpardonable – sins. And so began “Mohakamat Shakhseyat Naguib Mahfouz (The …

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Inside the Middle East diary

In the TV news business, if a story breaks, you better be ready to turn on a dime, pack your bags and head to the nearest airport. I was calmly preparing a trip to Dubai to host the December edition of Inside the Middle East, when the assassination of a Lebanese cabinet minister forced a …

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Denial to existence of Aids is an impediment in the Middle East

CAIRO: An American University in Cairo panel marking World Aids Day highlighted the need to combat misconceptions still held by the media and the social stigma and taboos which surround the disease. Dr. Cherif Soliman, of Family Health International, … UNAids’ country director for Egypt, and … , from the Ministry of Health’s National Program …

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Accountability theme for World Aids Day 2006

Information and prevention measures still lacking in the region CAIRO: The first of December marks the ninth annual World Aids Day, organized by the World Aids Campaign (WAC) and observed by thousands of organizations worldwide. Established by UNAids in 1997, World Aids Day is meant to raise awareness about HIV/Aids internationally. Over 4.3 million people …

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'Anti-theocracy' grows as Iran's seminaries lost autonomy

Iran’s theocratic regime appears more confident than ever. Its standoff with the West over its nuclear program, together with its ties to Syria and its growing influence in Lebanon and Iraq, suggest the emergence of a strong regional power. But, while Western analysts and Iran’s neighbors raise the alarm, the regime’s authority is in fact …

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Lebanon's South is quiet now, but it may not last

Talk to one of the newly-arrived United Nations peacekeepers in South Lebanon and one will quickly learn that their principle force protection concern has little to do with Lebanon’s Hezbollah guerrillas, Israeli aerial provocations or indeed potential ill-feeling from the local population. Rather, it’s Al-Qaeda’s possibly taking advantage of nearly 10,000 foreign, mainly Western, troops …

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Proposed employment law spurs rumors, civil servants panic

CAIRO: No changes will be made to the status of the 5.6 million permanent civil servants as a result of the new civil employment law, Dr Ahmed Darwish, minister of state for administrative development, said during a press conference Monday. Darwish had earlier announced a new draft law on civil employment to be presented for …

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Reform and peace are interdependent in Palestine

Since 2002, the United States’ diplomacy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been constrained by Israel’s doctrine that there is no Palestinian partner for peace. According to this concept – accepted by Washington – until Palestinians halt violence toward Israel and reform their internal politics, there can be no peace talks. The rationale of the no-partner …

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Lebanon: ripe for resolution or revolution?

Barely had the Lebanese started to recover from the July-August war between Hezbollah and Israel when instability came knocking again, in what seems like the beginning of a campaign to intimidate Lebanon and prevent its government from taking serious political decisions. The assassination of Christian minister and parliamentarian Pierre Gemayel came on the day that …

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Bloganoia: Are they out to get Kareem or is he just lost in the bureaucratic shuffle?

CAIRO: Looking through Egyptian political blogs over the past two weeks, one particular subject keeps coming up; the detention of blogger and former Al-Azhar University student Abdel Kareem Sulaiman. Allegedly, ‘Kareem,’ as he is now being referred to across the blogscape, was detained because of his ‘critical writings about Islam,’ and various other ostensibly ‘intellectual’ …

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No Way Jose

Al-Ahli coach’s attitude a no-winner CAIRO: He sat laid back in the press conference, chewing his gum in a provoking way, looking at no one in the sardine-packed hall, criticizing and lecturing everybody about football as if he was the ultimate winner. However, he was not the winner; he was Manuel Jose, whose strategies were …

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Opium is making Afghanistan go up in smoke

When NATO leaders meet for their summit in Riga at the end of this month. There will be a ghost at the feast: Afghanistan’s opium. Afghanistan is in danger of falling back into the hands of terrorists, insurgents, and criminals, and the multi-billion-dollar opium trade is at the heart of the country’s malaise. Indeed, Nato’s …

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A new face allows the UN to implement its promises

On Jan. 1, 2007, Ban Ki-Moon, South Korea’s former foreign minister, will become United Nations secretary general, following Kofi Annan’s 10-year tenure. Annan inspired the world with his diplomacy and leadership on poverty reduction and human rights, but the war in Iraq divided the world and drew attention and financial resources away from crisis regions …

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AUC students donate LE 1 mln to rebuild Lebanon

Six AUC students travel to Lebanon to aid with relief efforts CAIRO: Six students from the American University in Cairo traveled to Lebanon from Oct. 19 to 24 to help with relief efforts for victims of last summer’s war and raise awareness about the destruction wrought on Lebanon. On Sunday night, they presented their findings …

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A Lens to the Past: Kawkab Al-Sharq

More than 30 years after her death, Om Kalthoum (1904-1974) is still an icon throughout the Arab world. This photograph by Alban is a rare portrait of the singer without her signature dark glasses. Even at an early age Om Kalthoum’s exceptional talent became evident. By the age of 12 her father got her into …

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The power of the puppet

Aragouz historically tools of satire and criticism CAIRO: The Egyptian people have never been shy about voicing their opinions and at times they can even be quite innovative in how they chose to do so. Historically folkloric art has been instrumental in exposing controversial issues, using the humble aragouz (puppet) as the tool. For many …

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Accepting Hamas' victory might save Olmert's plan

Washington may soon replace its failed regional policy of isolation and confrontation with a renewed policy of engagement. Correspondingly, Israel’s policy vis-a-vis the Palestinians is about to change as well. Here, Israel is faced with two dilemmas. First, whether to await an initiative designed by others or to preempt with its own ideas. And second, …

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Palestinians must still rely on the US to achieve peace

More than two decades ago I had the honor to speak about Palestinian-Israeli peace on a panel with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Although much has changed in the region since then, I could give nearly the same talk today. The requirements for peace and the benefits to be gained remain the same. The …

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