Category Archives: Humor

Humor in Politics: Donald Trump of the Middle East?………

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“Saudi Arabia’s moves against Lebanon seem amateurish. Even if the Lebanese parties wanted to, they could do little to diminish the role of Hizbullah, which acts as a state within the state and also dominates the government. “Saudi Arabia sometimes acts with bombast and violence that makes it look like the Donald Trump of the Arab world,” says Rami Khouri of the American University of Beirut. The result is likely to be that the Saudis lose influence in Lebanon, possibly to Iran………”

The Economist is often wrong about the Middle East, especially if it holds a view different from mine. This time it is quite wrong. Saudi Arabia is not quite a Trump of the Arab world: it is causing much more harm. Trump is not an extremist Wahhabi. Trump is not involved in bombing towns and cities in poor Yemen. Trump is not engaged in unleashing Jihadis terrorists in Iraq, Syria, and other places. Besides, Trump is a humorous person, highly entertaining, unlike Saudi Arabia and its potentates. No sir, it is a rather humorless place, and not only because of their current unsmiling foreign minister, the grim Mr. Al-Jubeir.

Besides, Saudi Arabia is not as much fun to watch as Trump is on the campaign trail. No Arab regime is. No Middle East regime is. In fact most Middle East comedians, not just princes and potentates and leaders, are not as much fun to watch and listen to. Even ex-president Hadi of Yemen issuing meaningless daily executive orders from a Riyadh hotel is not as funny.

Unfortunately, and in fairness, humor is fading away in most of the Middle East (and North Africa), from Iran through Turkey (especially Turkey) and into Egypt all the way to Morocco.
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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Humor and Aguafiesta Violence in History: from Early Islam to Trotsky in Mexico to Sisi……..

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“In Egypt, the attorney general for Bani Suwaif has ordered a high school Coptic student to be held for 15 days pending investigation. The teenager is accused of making anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim comments on Facebook and other Internet media in a foreign language. In addition, security sources have divulged that the Coptic church and ‘security authorities’ have agreed to expel a Christian family of four from their village of Miyana in Ehnasia district. This came after Muslims accused the teenage son of the family of publishing comments harmful to Islam on Facebook. Sources added that a settlement meeting was held between the Church, high security officers, and some village Muslim families. As a result the Priest Butros G presented an official apology of the Coptic church for the insult published by the teenager against Islam and Muslims. The Coptic family had already abandoned its home and left their village since May 14………..”

This was a brief of the report from Egyptian media. Egypt used to be quite a cosmopolitan and tolerant country. All this started to change after the death of Nasser in 1970. Under Anwar Sadat, Islamist influence started to grow. Under Hosni Mubarak, Islamists grew stronger, Wahhabism started to creep into religious, political, and social conversation. Under Morsi, the first elected leader of Egypt, sectarian and confessional conflict broke out into the open. Salafis  were emboldened. Christians were attacked, Shi’as were lynched.

Under Al Sisi, Egypt is even more divided than ever. There is a mini-civil war in the country where both sides, Islamists and the military rulers, are ruthless: no quarter given and none expected. Parts of northern Sinai are almost attached to the Caliphate of ISIS rather than to Cairo. Other parts look like the hangout of the Hole in the Wall Gang. In villages from the Nile Delta to Upper Egypt (Al Saeed) there is a slow movement of religious displacement and confessional concentration. Egypt’s Copts are almost as grim these days as Egypt’s Islamists.

The once famous Egyptian sense of humor is moving dangerously close to that of Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, and Israel. Which means it is at the dangerous level of near extinction, what I would call pre-war or pre-civil war levels of humor. Germans, for example, lost any meager sense of humor they had quickly after 1933, not that they had much before that, not that they have much now. Attila and von Bismarck never laughed and seriously frowned upon humor. The Russians lost the remnant of their sense of humor right after Trotsky was expelled, and we all know why. Mexico, another place with a mostly humorless tradition, proved a fatal exile for Trotsky. The Russians still have to regain it.

Even the early Muslims, they come across as angry zealots. Which by definition they should have been. I believe the Prophet was almost the only one with any sense of humor among them. The rest, the Sahaba and later converts, come across as grim aguafiestas, which they mostly were. That state of grimness lasted until the Abbasids discovered the joys of humor, after the death of their founder Abul Abbas the Butcher.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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The Overlooked Faces of Real Saudi Reform………..

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Since the creation of the modern Saudi state some hundred years ago there have been three constants. These three constants have defined the country that the ruling family arrogantly renamed after themselves. They called it the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The three constants have been: (1) Wahhabism; (2) Absolute family rule and the subsequent kleptocracy; (3) Goateed kings and princes, from Abdulaziz through kings Saud, Faisal, Khaled, Fahd, Abdullah, and Salman, including several crown princes like Sultan and Nayef. The first two have been widely exported with plenty of Saudi money. Wahhabism now covers a vast area from Indonesia to Morocco, including AQAp and ISIS. It has noticeable influence in major European cities. This last expansion into Europe has led to the phenomenon of Islamophobia.

The last constant, the goatee beard (saksooka), did not take much hold outside the Arabian Peninsula. There are a few exceptions, for example Saad Hariri in Lebanon but he is the Saudi man in that country and sporting a goatee is like raising the Saudi flag. There might be one or two others in Lebanon with goatee beard, but I have not seen them nor heard of them. Inside Arabia, the goatee has ruled. Any prince worth his salt who aspired to reach the top of the hierarchy had to sport a goatee, preferably dyed jet black (Kiwi brand). Any minion who aspired to rise in the bureaucracy had to do the same.

Now King Salman has started his rule with a new face, literally. He has appointed a crown prince with no goatee beard, a first. He has appointed his son as deputy crown prince, also without a goatee, but with an Emirati style trimmed beard. It is worth noting that the crown prince apparently has no male heirs, comforting thought for his deputy.

That is the new future of the Arabian Peninsula, so long as the Al Saud rule it. That is the new face of Saudi reform, literally, and almost certainly the extent of it. No more goatee………….

(P.S: Now if they can get rid of the moustache, then they might have a slew of kings and princes who are as hairless as Francois Hollande or David Cameron or Angela Merkel).

    

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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Al Azhar and the Academic Laws of Physics: Sharia Rules on Human Gases………

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They are mocking Islam and the Sharia. No, not the usual European bigots and the usual suspects among extremist American Islamophobic pop-intellectuals. This is a report on once-respected institution turned nearly ridiculous. Al Azhar, established almost a thousand years ago by the Fatimid Dynasty in Cairo.

Egyptian media are very obedient and respectful toward the regime and all its institutions these days, but other Arab media report an interesting alleged new development. The staid and usually respectable Al-Azhar has awarded a doctorate degree to a Shaikh F.S. (?) in Sharia and the Law. He received an overall A for his thesis which dealt with what he called “benign gases” that are emitted by humans (and other animals), also popularly known “fart”, or ضراط in Arabic (no insult intended to the Arab League and its meetings). His thesis dealt with these gases from a theological point of view. He argued that there are certain rules in the Shari’a that specify carefully the smells of the gases that would nullify the pre-prayer ablutions, as well as the number of seconds that the “fart” lasts in which case it is considered nullifying for pre-prayer ablutions.

Shaikh F.S. (you figure the name out) specified the smells (of emitted human gases) that would nullify pre-prayer ablutions as follows: farts that have the flavor/smell of eggs, onions, Pastrami, or cabbage. Every other emitted gas is considered benign gas, unless the emission lasts more than 4 seconds and the sound it makes is higher/louder than 30 decibels.

I thought you might want to know. That the once venerable Al Azhar is trying to keep up, encouraging the use of the laws of physics into the Sharia………..

If all this is in fact true…………

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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Arab Media Outlets: a Rainbow from the Mad to the Angry to the AIPAC to the Smart…….

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New Arab media sprout almost every day. Both online and offline. I am only listing some with the word “Arab” in them. Otherwise there are more, many many more. Briefly, here are some that exist now, some that will exist, some that should exist, and some that should not exist:

Al-Quds Al-Arabi (=Arab Jerusalem):London-based. Used to be Qatari-funded but pro-Palestinian. Now totally Qatari-owned and nicely sectarian.
New Arab: sounds like Qatari or Emirati-funded propaganda website. I would guess more Qatari, tentatively.
Free Arabs: Not really ‘free’, me thinks. U.S. based, a bit cutesy. Seems more like it should be renamed AIPAC Arab or some other pro-Likud or Mujahideen Khalq or Neoconservative funded group.

AlArabiya: owned by an in-law of the Saudi royal family. Has close ties with Asharq Alawsat which is owned by Saudi King Salman.
AlArab:news network owned by Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal (he sued Forbes for underestimating his wealth). Now looking for a home base after being kicked out of Bahrain on its first and last day of broadcasting.
Angry Arab: I don’t know who the hell funds this one. Almost certainly self-funded from the sale of non-Israeli hummus.
Mad Arab: partly owned by Alfred E. Neuman and his wife.
Arab Garlic: partly owned by The Onion but based in Gilroy, California.
Humorless Arab: you’d think it is a Jordanian outlet, but t goes deeper than tat……
Pissed off Arab: just about anybody between Bahrain and Casablanca who is not a ruler, relative of a ruler, or minion of a ruler.
Stoned Arab: almost certainly headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Dumb Arab: probably based and operated by the League of Arab Nations (Arab League).
Smart or Thinking Arab: in exile, in prison, dead, or ruling the rest of them.
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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Jordanian King Abdullah to Help Stabilize Afghanistan……….

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Jordanian King Abdullah has had a meteoric rise across American media this past week, after his air raids and especially his Mission Accomplished photographic poses like this one below:

JordanKing
New Marvel Comics Hero……

Now my sporadically reliable sources report that he is being approached by U.S. officials to lead a joint special team of Navy Seals and Special Forces back into Afghanistan to help defeat the Taliban and stabilize certain provinces of that equally humorless country.
Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Fourth ‘I’ of American Politics: Season of the Yarmulke, no Lederhosen for Christie…….

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Election season is nearing in America, and all the birds are flying to warmer climates. Everybody from governors to senators to bored former politicians. They all suddenly get religious, get the urge to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land (no not that one, the other one, the original Holy Land where it all started). For some reason they all insist on wearing a yarmulke and be photographed in it. I am not sure what the point is: everybody knows they are wearing it as a photo-op, even the confused voters know that. Can you imagine one of them in Lederhosen while visiting Germany or Austria? Yikes…..

I wonder if there is a photo of Chris Christie with a yarmulke. Okay, I just found one (no, I could not find one of him in Lederhosen, not him….. Gott Sei Dank):

ChristieIsrael
What do you think he is thinking of? God? Yahweh? Allah? Adelson?

Or Marco Rubio. Or, ridiculously, Rick Perry of Texas. Or the single regulation schwartze who seems to be running for the Republican nomination. Actually I found photos of most leaders of the last quarter century in yarmulke. None of JFK or Ike or……… sorry, faux pas alert, never mind. I even found one of a youngish Fidel Castro in yarmulke, although it might be a fake, since he never ran for office in the USA.

Hillary Clinton does not have to do it. She is a woman: a lady’s prerogative. Maybe  a babushka headscarf would be more appropriate, or a drindl. But she is more of a babushka type nowadays than a drindl type anyway.

Anyway, they used to make three pilgrimages in the old days. To the three “I“s of American politics: Israel, Italy, Ireland. Now increasingly there seems to be one “I” they focus on. By necessity, in conjunction with that one “I”, they also all threaten to pay special unwelcome attention to that other fourth big “I” in the room: Iran.
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

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Humorless Caliphate Captures a Jordanian Pilot………

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Have Yourself a Merry Little——-> Kenny G. Christmas 

Al-Manar (the favorite Lebanese network of Mr. Netanyahu) reports that Ban Ki-Moon (Moony of the UN) has asked the Caliphate of ISIS (ISIL, DAESH, WTF) to treat the downed Jordanian pilot humanely. The pilot, from humorless Jordan, was downed while bombing or trying to bomb the hell out of the humorless ISIS terrorists. So, even if the terrorists have enough sense of humor to appreciate this very ‘Christian’ request, it is highly unlikely they will comply. What was odd was the Obama administration condemning ISIS for the capture of the pilot. I am not happy about his capture either, but what were they supposed to do? Give him a medal of the First Class Order of Caliph Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi?

Moony asks them to treat the pilot humanely. He might as well ask them to give up their captured slave girls (all non-Wahhabis) and become monogamists and maybe convert and join a meg-buck church in the USA. Or maybe migrate en masse to some ashram in Auroville, India. Besides, it is not clear if the pilot had clearance from the Syrians to bomb the terrorists in their country, or if he was freelancing like the Israeli IAF often does at will.
Unfortunately, and unless the cutthroats are hard-up for ransom cash in these days of low oil prices, the only humanitarian gesture they will likely offer will be a sharp sword. Unless the pilot can convince them that he is a true Wahhabi.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

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Oh Clap! Clapping to be Allowed in Saudi Council………..

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Great breakthrough in Saudi Arabia. The Shura Advisory Council, appointed by the king, has struck a bold blow for the freedom of clapping (with an “l“).

Kuwait News reports that the appointed Saudi Shura Advisory Council has met and voted to allow ‘clapping’ in its chambers. Yes, you read it right: that is clapping (with an “l“) and not to be pronounced the Japanese way. Clapping (with an “l“), as in applauding. Members and guests will be allowed to clap ((with an “l”)) right inside the august chamber. They are not, however, expected to bring along whatever it is they will be clapping for. Whatever they will all be clapping for must come out of the members of the Shura who are all appointed by the king for whom they will always clap so long as he reappoints them.

No word yet about allowing drums, cymbals and the guitar.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum


m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Mutually Painful Visits: Nuclear Humor and the Annual Likud Finger in Obama’s Eye………..

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Ref. my post yesterday about Netanyahu poking, yet again, another finger into President Obama’s eye even as he visits with him. Doing it again to the man who, probably correctly, called him ‘a liar’ into an open microphone a couple of years ago. That finger in the eye was, yet again, the announcement of another settlement construction while the Israeli potentate visits Washington (or while American officials visit Israel). It always happens around these mutually painful friendly visits: like the proverbial clockwork. You can take it to the bank, if you are the type that for some perverse weird reason actually trusts and likes his/her banker.

Back to the usual whining about the Iranian “nuclear threat”. Unlike the Iranians, Netanyahu has never said he doesn’t want nuclear weapons; he has never sworn not to pursue them. You know why? Because he has no sense of humor. He is so humorless you’d think he is Jordanian, not Jewish. But I forget: Israelis of all faiths are almost as humorless as the neighbors surrounding them. Could be something to do with the current neighborhood and perhaps with the earlier also humor-challenged Slavic neighbors.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com