The rapidly developing events in Egypt over the past few days have shown how all dictators (who we will call ‘Dics’ for short, as the term will  be repeated extensively in this piece) think and act alike.

I have always been fascinated with the behaviour and thinking of Arab Dics. Growing up in the Middle East, I have witnessed first-hand how Dics react to different situations and different contexts. (how could you not be fascinated with Colonel Qaddafi for example?)

Qaddafi... a text book example of an Arab Dic

Obviously, in a Dic-Society and due to the conterminous nature of this status, Dics aren’t just heads of states, presidents and politicians – Dics would also be school teachers, principals, business owners, HR managers, editors in chief, clerics, police officers and even civil servants at government bodies who under normal circumstances should be concerned with making people’s lives easier and not more difficult (basically, anyone with a bit of authority in the Arab World is likely to be a candidate for being the perfect Dic).

So, what goes on inside the mind of a typical Arab Dic? First of all – Most Dics are male. There are female Arab Dics, but I am afraid this is one domain which is pretty much male-dominated.

However, there is a room for the ladies in the sick world of a male-dominated Dic-Society.

Most male Dics always seem to have a favourite female associate or assistant who he would typically have ‘Special Love Under the Table’ for – in other words, a female who falls under this description could be called a Dic’s “S.L.U.T”. (a S.L.U.T. would tend to like to abuse this situation and gain as much benefits as possible)

Yet, as the male Dic is typically highly arrogant, he doesn’t express his emotions directly to his S.L.U.T, and could even actually seek to humiliate her – but once he gets his ‘fix’, he rewards her by giving her enough authority to be arrogant herself and became a female Dic within her own jurisdiction.

The second thing you must know about Dics, is that they didn’t arrive to power based on their merit, but because of their relation to a much bigger Dic, be it through family ties or a Dics ability to please a bigger Dic’s ego and re-assure him that he will always be a smaller Dic than him.

The fact is, meritocracy can’t exists in a Dic-Society and in fact the first thing most Dics tend to do is that they quickly get rid of any and all qualified, educated and/or hard working people within their realm.

Dics can’t handle competition, this is why the Late Iraqi Dic, Saddam Hussein, was quick to rid himself from Iraq’s best scientists and technocrats who then had to seek refuge in Europe and the US.

If you want a more modern example, just remember that it is the classic mind-set of ‘My Dic is bigger than yours’ that has started the recent ridiculous race to build the world highest sky-scrapers, when there is not enough people in Arab countries to populate these buildings.

Late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was quick to get rid of people who could out-shine him

Also, Dics don’t have ears! As I write these lines, there are millions of people on the street in Egypt chanting: ‘Irhal’ (Leave) to President Husni Mubarak who in return appeared on TV ontly to say  that he will fire his Prime Minister. (Eventually, they get the message the hard way, as what happened with Bin Ali who first said he will not seek to re-elect himself and vowed, a bit too late to offer freedom to the media, but then found himself on a plane to exile).

(Egyptians tearing down an image of Hosni Mubarak)

The other biological defect with Dics is that they have only one eye. This means that by default, they only see what they want to see, can you imagine how harming to the truth this could be if you are a Dic and happen to be an editor of a newspaper? You would cherry-pick bits and pieces of information that would suit your argument, just so that you are not proven wrong!

Of course, Dics abuse, and abuse happens from top-to-bottom due to the nature of people who are being abused and can’t resist the Dic that abused them. As a result they would start abusing people underneath them instead. (Just think of how Israelis abuse Palestinians, and some Palestinians take it out on other Palestinians rather on Israelis!)

The sickening thing is that there is some satisfaction that comes with power; people LOVE to feel that their word or signature controls other people’s lives and with this power comes the ability to benefit from this status.

Hence, Dics dream of standing tall for ever! And after succeeding at it for a while, they start believing it is possible and perceive themselves as invincible.

However, the one thing I’ve learned from my own experience is that Dics grow bigger when we allow them to.

Basically, we are the reason why Dics become so cocky! If we say NO, if we realize that they don’t control our lives and challenge them, we will soon see how quickly you can topple down even the stiffest of all Dics. I am sure you can think of an example of this from your personal life, I know I can, but if can’t just look at what happened with Bin Ali.


Of Men and Mice

September 24, 2008



In case you have not heard yet, Sheikh Mohamed al-Munajid (a Saudi cleric, who is said to be from a Levant origin) has labelled mice as ‘agents of Satan’, calling for the extermination of them all. He has also made it clear that this includes famous cartoon mice, such as Mickey Mouse and Jerry (of the popular cartoon series ‘Tom and Jerry’) in particular. 


I assume this should call for an urgent meeting of ‘Rodents Without Borders’ and the CMCA (Cartoon Mice Characters Association), had they both existed, to discuss recent threats against fellow members, Mickey and Jerry.

I personally think that in light of these recent threats, all ‘mouse shaped cartoon characters’ should be forced to have supernatural powers for the purpose for self defense; following the ‘Mighty Mouse’ and ‘Danger Mouse’ models.  


I am of course blabbering because there isn’t much one could say regarding this situation.


Even the Shiekh’s justification (that mice are dirty creatures and that by creating popular cartoon characters based on them, kids might grow up liking this unclean animal) is ridiculous.


I think one of the best reactions was that of many American news anchors, who couldn’t help laughing at the matter. You could watch a few clips here (unfortunately, another MEMRI instant hit).


Some relief came to me when a number of Arab ‘liberal’ writers and an Egyptian Muslim scholar ridiculed his views.   

AFP reported today that Suad Saleh, a woman preacher who hosts a popular television programme on fatwas, or religious edicts, told the English-language daily Egyptian Gazette that Munajid’s ruling “tarnishes Islam’s image.”

“An edict should be based on knowledge, logic and reason,” she said. “Yes, mice should be killed when seen according to Islam’s teachings. But it is illogical to deal with a cartoon character as a live mouse and kill it.” (my reaction: …you don’t say!!)

As much as it was painful to see someone who is supposed to be a respectful member of the clergy being mocked, I can’t find any sympathy in me towards al-Munajid.


You see, one must understand how clerics are regarded in most Muslim societies, they have great influence and most of the time, and their opinions are not questionable. (As the case was during the show which al-Munajid was a guest on when he said what he said, this was on al-Majd TV by the way, an Islamic station that many regard as fundementalist).


What is interesting is that earlier this month, another Saudi cleric said owners of satellite television channels that broadcast “immoral” content deserved to die.

The point is, when you have so much authority over people, you must be very careful regarding what you say…. It also goes without saying that when wearing a clergy robe, you ought to be a role model of tolerance, love and peace. (almost a no-brainer, isn’t it?)

Many people might not know this, but back in 2005… the ‘big thing’ in the Arab world was reality television shows, such as ‘Big Brother’, ‘Star Academy’ and the Arab version of ‘Pop Idol’ came under attack for their attempts to ‘strip away the virtue of Arab youth’.


Star Academy in particular was dubbed “Academiat Al Shaytan” (Satan’s Academy).


Why… you may ask? Well, so that it would be named after its founders, the “evil devils in our world” as one Islamic ‘awareness recording’ suggests.


And who may that recording be made by… why, it was non-other than Shiekh al-Munajed himself !  


Honestly, this is not a desperate attempt to market my previous articles, but you must read the full story I wrote back then  to understand the impact clerics could have on the youth.


One teenager actually told me he was s convinced that “Star Academy” is “part of a huge plot planned many years ago to strip away all virtue from the Arab youth”. The 18-year-old proceeds to explain that this scheme is also “proven” in a website, where he read that it is “part of Zionist plan which goes back to the year 1935”.


Another Shiekh, Ali Al Shahrani, produced a similar recording called ‘SARS Academy’, in which he uses a long list of insults that are commonly used against prostitutes and homosexuals to describe the way he feels about participants in reality shows.


“If some people don’t like these words, perhaps it is because they haven’t heard them before… or maybe they are living on a different planet,” the Shiekh told me back then.


What can I say? I for one would like to be living on that different planet, where my kids could watch Mickey, Minnie and Speedy Gonzales without feeling guilty… But mostly a planet where men don’t pick on mice (especially while ignoring extremists, occupying forces, corruption and poverty to name a few issues they could chew on).



 cover of ‘Satan’s Academy’ – Al Munajed’s 2005 recording. (asharq al awsat photo)