Matrix: Reloaded Banned in Egypt

The BBC reports that The Matrix: Reloaded has been banned in Egypt because of the movies religious overtones. This reminds me of one of the strangest things that ever happened in a college class I took. The class was a basic introductory philosophy course, and for the first session or two there were several Muslim women in the class. They dropped the class, however, as soon as it was apparent that part of the class would tackle the whole “Does God exist?” question. Apparently they went to the instructor and explained that they would not feel comfortable reading texts that questioned God’s existence.

Polio Cases Increase Thanks Largely to Indian Outbreak

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in April that cases of polio worldwide increased four-fold in 2002 due largely to an outbreak of the disease in India.

In 2001 there were only 483 confirmed cases of polio which shot up to 1,920 confirmed cases in polio after an outbreak in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. That was the single worst outbreak of the disease since the World Health Organization began its campaign to eradicate polio in 1988. Cases from the Indian outbreak constituted 71 percent of all polio cases in 2002.

Afghanistan, Egypt, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Somalia also reported cases of polio in 2002.


Polio cases on the increase. The BBC, April 25, 2003.

Andrea Levin’s Analysis of National Palestinian Radio

Okay, maybe saying that National Public Radio has an anti-Israeli bias is a bit like saying that fish swim, but I was still a bit surprised by Andrea Levin’s analysis of NPR’s coverage of Palestinian terrorism for the Jersualem Post. According to Levin,

In a period of six days, from March 27 through April 2, when 53 Israelis were slain, not one of the victims was mentioned by name, not one bereaved family was interviewed, not one injured survivor was the focus of a story.

The attacks were reported briefly with some references to the gruesome details, but almost invariably with emphasis on how such events might harm political developments.

March 27, of course, was the date of the Netanya bombing. Now maybe NPR is just too busy to interview the victims of violence in the Middle East. Maybe it has its correspondents deployed in Egypt or Lebanon and could not get them to interview victims in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Not quite. After listing a series of terrorist attacks that killed 53 Israelis over the week in question, Levin notes that NPR carried plenty of interviews with civilians — provided they were Palestinian civilians,

Although none of these people or any other of the March terror victims was mentioned on NPR, there were human interest stories about Palestinians. The day after the Haifa slaughter [where 14 Israelis were killed in a suicide bomb attack at a restaurant], the network aired a segment devoted entirely to the discomforts of a woman in Ramallah whose large house was temporarily requisitioned by Israeli soldiers. The woman, who admitted the soldiers did not mistreat her family, declared that “terrorism is every time a human life is being threatened, is being terrorized and humiliated.”

Levin also notes that on April 2, Linda Gradstein (*gag*) did a long piece about Israeli’s stopping ambulances at checkpoints. Only a couple sentences at the end of the long piece hinted that the reason the Israeli’s were stopping ambulances was that Palestinians had been caught using them to smuggle explosives.

Levin concludes,

The depth of NPR’s ideological favoritism for the Palestinians is singularly underscored when, in a week that saw multiple massacres of Israelis, the network could not bring itself to offer even a glimpse at the personal side of the losses suffered.

Maybe they should rename it, National Palestinian Radio.


NPR Ignores Israeli Terror Victims. Andrea Levin, Jerusalem Post, May 20, 2002.

Suicidal Muslim Pilots, the Early Years

The final verdict on the 1999 crash of EgyptAir Flight 990 is that Egyptian pilot Gameel el-Batouty deliberately crashed the plane.

What is interesting about this is that, now, nobody even bothers to raise one of the absurd claims raised back in 1999 by el-Batouty’s family and supporters. That claim was that el-Batouty would never have intentionally crashed the plane because he was a devout Muslim and, as such, suicide was unthinkable.

Here’s what CNN had to say shortly after the crash on November 20, 1999,

For many Egyptians, the investigation has lost its credibility, and the rumors of plots will probably live on for years to come. To most, the notion that el-Batouty could be responsible is simply beyond belief.

El-Batouty was a devout Muslim, and Islam forbids suicide. Many in Cairo are ready to believe sinister forces might have blown up the plane.

Of course — only we silly Americans would postulate a suicidal Muslim pilot to explain an air disaster.


Suicide reports in EgyptAir crash spark suspicion in Cairo
. CNN, November 20, 1999.

EgyptAir co-pilot ‘crashed plane’. The BBC, March 21, 2002.

Newsweek Issue Banned for Depicting Mohammed

The BBC reports that several Muslim countries have banned the latest issue of Newsweek because the magazine includes a depiction of Mohammed. The illustration comes from a Turkish manuscript that shows Mohammed and the angel Gabriel. Time apologized last April for running the same image, depicted below.

Most Muslims believe that the Koran strictly forbids visual depictions of Mohammed So far, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Malaysia have banned the issue, while Egypt has condemened it has blasphemous.

The BBC reports that Reporters Sans Frontiers condemned the bans as blatant acts of censorship. In a press release, that group said, “Aware that the representation of Muslim prophets is forbidden, we nevertheless consider that the censorship of this international magazine is in the first place an attack on the free flow of information.”

Not that such censorship is exactly a surprise in either of those four countries.