ARABICA - A Daily Shot Of What the Arab World is Saying/Hearing/Sharing

ARABICA - A Daily Shot Of What the Arab World is Saying/Hearing/Sharing
Kristen Gillespie

A R A B I C A ارابيكا

*A new Google forum tweeted out by Wael Ghonim asks Egyptians to take part in a dialogue with the country's ruling military council, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. The discussion forum "is a democratic way to raise questions about the council, its performance and the future of Egypt," the administrators write. Questions include: "Why are the police not being sanctioned for neglecting their duties? Is this not treason?" and "Why has there been no resolution to the issue of local councils, which are full of men from the dissolved National Democratic Party?"

*An official from Syria's ruling Baath Party spoke to administrative and scientific personnel from the University of Damascus. During the three-hour encounter, Baath official Said Bekhaytan informed the university employees that the government refuses to revoke Article 8 of the Syrian constitution, which grants the Party a full monopoly as "the leader of the state and society," Al Watn paper reported. "There are other priorities' besides Article 8, Bekhaytan said. If citizens insist on overturning the monopoly clause, they may use the ballot box to vote in representatives to do so, he said. Elections, however, are neither free nor fair in Syria. And Bekhaytan's vow to establish a national dialogue committee within 48 hours is typically a euphemism for slowly killing prospects of change with the lethal weapon of bureaucracy.

*In a separate editorial, Al Watn postulated that "only Syria has remained a solid, harmonious, homogenous nucleus despite the difficulties posed by Western/American/European Zionism."

THE KING OF BAHRAIN*King Hamad of Bahrain stressed the need for a national dialogue after importing soldiers from neighboring countries to help crush an uprising against the ruling family that went on for several weeks. The dialogue will begin in early July, with the "monarch stressing the importance of democracy in his country," CNN Arabic reported.

*Sources tell Al Jazeera that NATO bombed ammunitions depots in Libya's southwest while "other strikes took place at dawn in Tripoli." Libyan officials told the network that the bombings resulted in "human and material losses."

May 31, 2011

photo credit: illustir

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Iran To Offer Master's And PhD In Morality Enforcement

For those aiming to serve the Islamic Republic of Iran as experts to train the public morality agents, there are now courses to obtain the "proper" training.

Properly dressed in the holy city of Qom.

Iran will create new "master's and doctorate" programs to train state morality agents checking on people's public conduct and attire, according to several Persian-language news sources.

Mehran Samadi, a senior official of the Headquarters to Enjoin Virtues and Proscribe Vices (Amr-e be ma'ruf va nahy az monkar) said "anyone who wants to enjoin virtues must have the knowledge," the London-based broadcaster Iran International reported, citing reports from Iran.

The morality patrols, in force since the 1979 revolution, tend to focus mostly on young people and women, particularly the public appearance for the latter. Loose headscarves will send women straight to a police station, often in humiliating conditions. Five years ago, the regime announced a new force of some 7,000 additional agents checking on women's hijabs and other standards of dress and behavior.

A woman in Tehran walks past a mural of an Iranian flag

The traffic police chief recently said women were not allowed to ride motorbikes

Rouzbeh Fouladi/ZUMA

New academic discipline

Last week, for example, Tehran police revealed that they had "disciplined" agents who had been filmed forcefully shoving a girl into a van. Such incidents may increase under the new, conservative president, Ibrahim Raisi.

Speaking about the new academic discipline, Samadi said morals go "much further than headscarves and modesty," and those earning graduate degrees would teach agents "what the priorities are."

Iran's Islamic regime, under the guidance of Shia jurists, continuously fine tunes notions of "proper" conduct — and calibrates its own, interventionist authority. More recently the traffic police chief said women were not allowed to ride motorbikes, and "would be stopped," Prague-based Radio Farda reported.

Days before, a cleric in the holy city of Qom in central Iran insisted that people must be vaccinated by a medic of the same sex "as often as possible," and if not, there should be no pictures of mixed-sex vaccinations.

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