Belief and unbelief

 

Spiritual oasis or consumer paradise?

July 2016 – Despite having acquired some 21st-century trappings, Eid al-Fitr’s mix of religion and revelry is hundreds of years old.

Millet in the Middle East: Disunity in diversity

May 2016 – The Middle Eastern practice of assigning a faith to every citizen and a separate court system for each religion promotes division and sectarianism.

Discovering Sushi Islam

April 2016 – By following two young girls on their voyage of discovery of Sunni and Shia Islam, a new documentary highlights the insanity of Islamic sectarianism.

Of crusaders and jihadists

March 2016 – Despite Donald Trump and Ted Cruz’s aversion to Islam, their own beloved Bible contains troubling “Christian values” of war, misogyny and homophobia.

In condemnation of “spiritual” atheism

December 2015 – Atheists do not “pray” and are not “spiritual”. I urge my fellow non-believers to halt the creeping spiritualisation of our creed.

ISIS and the mash of civilisations

November 2015 – Counterintuitive as it may sound, ISIS is proof that the clash of civilisations is a myth. The reality is that interests clash, while cultures mix.

Invading Europe without invaders

October 2015 – Any objective observer can see  that the refugees of today are not the invaders of history. So why are so many Europeans afraid of refugees?

The Islamic (re)conquista of the West

September 2015 – As a member of the advance guard sent out to plot the Islamisation of Europe, my mission is to pave the way for my migrant jihadi brothers and sisters.

Al-Aqsa: Spiritual battleground

September 2015 – For Muslims and Jews to share peacefully and justly the Holy Sanctuary/Temple Mount requires the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Unholy war in the Holy Land

September 2015 – Despite what religious fanatics believe, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a “holy war” – far from it.

The road to hell is paved with pious intentions

July 2015 – The ban on eating and drinking in public in some Muslim countries is wrong. Piety cannot and must not be imposed by law.

Ramadan with a handicap

July 2015 – As a disabled person, there is no shame in admitting that you can’t fast. I will not lie or hide it to satisfy people’s prejudices.

The leper priest who lost his marbles

June 2015 – Father Damien’s dying wish of marbles for his children may seem odd, but this saint’s caring for lepers can teach us a lot about selfless sacrifice.

A ‘War on Error’ against radical anti-Islam

May 2015 – Given how many New Atheists, Christian fundamentalists and neo-cons share a distorted view of Islam and Muslims, it’s high time for a War on Error. 

 

Making halal sexy

May 2015 – Though halal sex may sound as logical as kosher bacon, it does make ts own sense. Some Muslims are utilising the concept to break the taboo around sex.

The Viking Allah

April 2015 – A mysterious ring in a dead Viking woman’s tomb shows how Northern Europeans came into contact with Muslims and Islam before even becoming Christian.

Islam’s freedom of expression… and insult

January 2015 – Muhammad’s self-appointed defenders take offence on his behalf, but the prophet would’ve tolerated Charlie Hebdo and condemned the savage murders.

Europe’s invisible “Islamisation”

January 2015 – The murderous Paris attacks have reignited fears of “Islamisation”. But Islamic civilisation is encoded in Europe’s cultural and intellectual DNA.

The caliphate illusion: “restoring” what never was

July 2014 – The tyranny of Arab secular dictators and destructive Western hegemony combined to enable ISIS to “restore” a brutal caliphate which never existed.

A successful caliphate in six simple steps

June 2014 – ISIS really doesn’t get what restoring the caliphate means. Here’s how in six simple steps, from Caliphornian wine to cultural melting pots.

The Arab world’s rebels without a god

March 2014 – In Egypt and other Arab countries, the atheism taboo has been broken. Atheists are rebelling against the status quo and demanding to be seen and heard.

Al-Aqsa/Temple Mount: Ground zero or common ground?

March 2014 – Jerusalem’s holiest site is again provoking tension and controversy. But could it also bridge the chasm between Israelis and Palestinians?

Palestinian history ✝ – Christians are Arab too

March 2014 – Despite what some in the Knesset think, Christians in Israel are Arabs too and have been prominent in Palestinian politics, society and culture.

Spain, return and the other 1492

February 2014 – Spain’s recognition of the Jews it expelled ignores another historical crime: the Muslims forced out of Andalusia.

Is atheism Egypt’s fastest-growing ‘religion’?

October 2013 – Despite the risks, more and more atheists are coming out of the closet in Egypt, emboldened by the revolution’s ethos of freedom and dignity.

إعترافات ملحد مصري

اكتوبر 2013 – رغم عدم الإعتراف بهم، الملحدين ايضاً اولاد بلد ويجب على الدولة والمجتمع ان يعطوهم حقوقهم

The Christian Allah

October 2013 – Muslim and Christian bigots who don’t speak Arabic believe that “Allah” is only for Muslims. They are wrong: Allah is God and God is Allah.

Confessions of an Egyptian infidel

August 2013 – Though never officially recognised, atheists and agnostics have always been part of Egypt. Society now needs to grant us our right not to believe.

Islamism is the illusion

August 2013 – Islamism is not the solution but is built on an illusion. Islam’s past strength was actually a secular one based on free thought.

Religious freedom from birth

July 2013 – Unlike eye colour and skin tone, religion is not hereditary. This reality must be reflected in Egyptian identity documents and personal status laws.

Gay marriage but no polygamy?

May 2013 – If we can have gay and interfaith marriages in the West, then why not polygamous ones?

Intimate strangers in a splintering world

April 2013 – Multiculturalism is enriching and as easy as child’s play. But as the winds of intolerance blow harder, it may become a liability for my son and his generation.

Gay pride (and prejudice) through the ages

February 2013 – Historic examples of homosexuality being tolerated by Judaism, Christianity and Islam can help overcome homophobia and reinvent these faiths.

Settlers for Palestine

October 2012 – Israeli settlements are one of the greatest obstacles to peace, but could settlers also help build a Palestinian state?

The mash of civilisations

September 2012 – There is no conflict between Islam and the West – only clashes of interests between and within them. But there is a very real mash of civilisations.

Aanslag op Amerikaans consulaat in Benghazi valt niet uit de lucht

September 2012 – De aanslag op het consulaat in Benghazi was geen verrassing. De voortekens waren al lang zichtbaar.

Muhammad: separating the man from the myth

September 2012 – As a clash of idiocies erupts over the depiction of Muhammad in an obscure Islamophobic film, it’s time for a sober look at the man behind the prophet.

The advantages of fast living

August 2012 – Many Muslims believe that fasting is good for their health, but is science on their side?

Holy month, holy city, unholy Egyptian

August 2012 – Even for a non-believing Egyptian, Ramadan in Jerusalem – where the three Abrahamic faiths coincide and oft collide – is a fascinating experience.

Policing the beard

July 2012 – In Egypt, beards have gone from indicating piety to symbolising political affiliation. Police neutrality requires officers to remove their facial hair.

Sarah Palin v Queer Theory

February 2011 – Which is more empowering or threatening for the gay community: the idea that sexuality is a lifestyle choice (unnatural) or an innate trait (natural)?

Religious rites and wrongs

January 2012 – The banning of a Jewish festival this year in Egypt is wrong, both from a secular and religious perspective.

The ghost of Christmas past

December 2011 – The Holy Land is where Christmas began. But with the relative decline of Christianity there, does the yuletide still retain its spirit?

Defining Egyptian democracy: “Not like America and not like Iran”

December 2011 – Provincial Egyptians believe that moderate Islamists can construct an Egyptian model of democracy that respects their traditions and identity.

Secular Egypt: dream or delusion?

December 2011 – Is Egypt on the road to theocracy or will it manage to build a secular, pluralist democracy?

A drinker’s guide to Islam

October 2011 – Although alcohol is ‘haraam’, Muslim societies have rarely managed to stay on the wagon, and vital parts of their culture have developed under the influence.

Ramadan for all

August 2011 – Ramadan is when Muslims fast and feast, but the holy month has something to offer those of other faiths, or none.

Atheists: Egypt’s forgotten minority

July 2011 – Egyptian atheists and religious sceptics are a minority that exists in reality but not in official statistics.

 

Egypt’s regime of self-preservation

January 2011 – Muslim-Coptic tension is just one aspect of a wider turmoil that will worsen until real democracy takes hold.

Learning tolerance

November 2010 – Islamophobia is common in western society, so the classroom is a good place to start combating it.

Less Catholic than the pope

October 2010 -‘Catholic’ education thrives in Belgium, but the decision between principle and pragmatism is not easy when choosing a school.

A battle for the soul of every Egyptian

September 2010 – Converts have become pawns in Egypt’s increasingly bitter standoff between Muslims and Christians.

Why doesn’t God use Faithbook?

September 2010 – If God wants to reach out to humanity, why rely on prophets and scripture when he presumably has the power to connect with each of us directly?

Religious freedom at stake in Egypt

August 2010 – If you don’t fast during Ramadan in Egypt, lie about it; hide it. Otherwise, you might land in jail.

Make Ramadan torture-free in Egypt

August 2010 – It’s Ramadan, but the Egyptian police continue to practise brutality and torture. This year, they should set a better example.

I say you want a revolution, Egypt

July 2010 – Activists in Egypt should look to the hippy movement of the 1960s for a successful model in bringing about long-term social change.

The freedom of non-expression

July 2010 – Advocates of banning the face veil want to take away the only choice some women have – the choice to conform.

Europe’s hidden terror menace

July 2010 – The fifth anniversary of the 7 July attacks has refocused attention on Islamist terrorism, but the neo-Nazi threat goes largely unnoticed.

By the book

May 2010 – Following the lead of Islamists, Egyptian Christians are trying to ban an award-winning novel because it ‘insults’ Christianity.

Embodying the mind

April 2010 – In philosophy and religion, the body is merely a hollow shell for our mind and soul. But what if our bodies not only confine but also define us?

Climate change in Camelot

March 2010 – In South Dakota, everyone knows that the climate is just right – and that global warming is just the hot air of science.

For Allah’s sake!

February 2010 – Christians across the Muslim world use ‘Allah’ to refer to ‘God’, so why has this led to violence and controversy in Malaysia?

Egyptian football’s pious turn

February 2010 – The national team is increasingly flaunting its Muslim religiosity. Where does that leave Christian, let alone secular Egyptians?

A brother and a scholar

December 2009 – Prominent Muslim Brotherhood member Kamal Helbawy talks about his research and ending the misconceptions that tie terrorism to Islam.

Faith in our children

November 2009 – Much as we’d like our children to hold the same things dear as we do, we should have enough faith in them to let them choose their own belief system.

Beyoncé: saint or sinner?

November 2009 – As the singer prepares to visit Egypt, Christian and Muslim fundamentalists agree: Beyoncé is the root of all evil.

Good grief!

November 2009 – There is something of an inner circle to mourning whose circumference varies from culture to culture. Knowing where you fit in takes some research.

Church and state in Egypt

October 2009 – New attempts to address the divide between Egypt’s Muslims and Christians must be supported, not undermined, by the state.

Do no haram

September 2009 – A new search engine claims to filter out ‘haram’ (sinful) content for the faithful. Should non-believers now demand their own version – let’s call it Godpile – that blocks religious content?

Face to faith: Ramadan for the faith-challenged

August 2009 – Ramadan possesses a certain secular appeal but fasting requires the non-believer to square the philosophical circle.

The truth about Arab science

July 2009 – Can we look forward to a boom in Arab science or will poverty, bureaucracy and religion be insurmountable obstacles?

The Middle East must look to the future

April 2009 – A secular society confines religion to the spiritual sphere where it belongs, and leaves worldly affairs to human resourcefulness.

Secularism in a veil

April 2009 – An outward appearance of Islamism disguises the increasingly secular reality of some Arab and Muslim societies.

On a ring and a prayer

March 2009 – God now has a number. Sadly, it goes straight to voicemail, but I’ve got my messages ready. What about you?

The great Santa controversy

December 2008 – It’s the Western world’s greatest childhood controversy: does Santa Claus exist? The answer is both comforting and disturbing to the children among us and within us.

Ramadan for drinkers

September 2008 – With booze in short supply, the month of fasting can be a thirsty wait for some Muslims.