This piece is an interview with Nivin El-Gamal who had years of court appearances against Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, 54, the son of the former ruler of Dubai and a man reportedly worth £19bn with regards to whether they were married and the consequences for their child. The London-based Muslim tells Louisa Peacock how she is finally escaping from the Sheikh’s shadow and putting two fingers up to her traditional upbringing, to forge her and her son a new life. The interview covers a variety of topics such as how El-Gamal, who comes from a rich family and who has led no ordinary life, might not find it hard to find the money to launch her new charity. However as someone with a solid business background; having founded an interior design business called Galaxy Stars, which counts pop stars, VIPs, foreign dignitaries and high-end London projects among its clients. She recalls how her father and grandfather disapproved of her business in the early days because she would come into “regular contact with men”. She says she was expected by her father to “marry someone from his society, rich like you, just be a mum, and if you are studying interior design, you’ll design your own house, that’s it”. Living in a world heavily steeped in tradition, where women are expected to behave and act in a certain way, it was unusual and brave for a 20-something girl like El-Gamal to break the mould and start her own firm – especially coming from a rich family where she did not need to make more money. The interview covers her early life in Egypt long before the current political situation and how the interviewee felt about life under Mubarak. Stating that life under Mubarak was much better and more liberal than life under the Muslim Brotherhood. Having said that, El-Gamal still holds views comparable with the Muslim brotherhood when it comes to the notion of family, she believes that people were put on earth only to reproduce and it follows that she disagrees with abortion; disapproves of contraception and sneers at same-sex marriage.
The Qatar based TV news channel Al Jazeera has recently announced the launch of a French news channel based in the United Kingdom. Al Jazeera French aims to build a bridge to the cultures and people of Europe, Africa and North America, according to the networks CEO Sheikh Ahmed Ben Jassem Al-Thani.
The French news channel follows Al Jazeera’s attempts to provincialise its network by opening branches in the Balkan region, Turkey, the US and in the near future the United Kingdom as well. The Qatari channel aims to expand as a media network that addresses different cultures in a number of languages. Localized media should help to attract larger audiences around the globe and aid to diversify Al Jazeera’s media profile. The Al Jazeera network was launched in 1996 as a pan-Arabic satellite station before opening its English branch, Al Jazeera English, in 2006 and is financed by the Emir of Qatar.
October 9, 2010
Hassan, a Somali-born Canadian, has spent three sleepless nights and days, waiting for his phone to ring or beep with word that torture victim Ismael Khalif Abdulle had made it out. Somalia has not had a stable government in almost two decades, but the latest fighting has pitted the internationally recognized Transitional Federal Government against Al Shabab, a group of Islamic insurgents aligned with Al Qaeda. Ismael’s story was first told in a January Toronto Star article describing the rise of the Shabab.
Abdirashid Hashi, a former Toronto journalist who had moved back to Somalia to serve as a communications director for President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, had brought Ismael for an interview to the fortified Mogadishu government compound known as Villa Somalia. He wanted to get the story out about just how barbaric the Shabab could be. He believed that message was especially important for the Somali youth of Toronto’s diaspora, since at least five young men had recently left their Canadian homes, seduced by the Shabab’s call to jihad and following the paths of others from the U.S., Europe and Australia.
Espersen herself suggests that the misunderstanding may have occurred as a result of her explanation of Danish law: “I can confirm that I have told several of my conversation partners that freedom of speech is not without limits in Denmark. There are two limits: the blasphemy paragraph, which is paragraph 140 in criminal law and the racism paragraph as in paragraph 266b,” Espersen says.
The Danish embassy in Cairo has issued a news release in which it has clarified what Espersen said. Linguistically, the part of the statement concerned could be misinterpreted as an apology for the cartoons, as it is not fully clear what the regret refers to, and in translation into Arabic, or in oral conversation, could easily be misconstrued as an apology for them.