From Arab Spring to Arab Winter

I’ve never liked Bill Maher. He hosts a smarmy show called Real Time on HBO (and used to have a show called Politically Incorrect on ABC.) But every now and then, he hits the nail on the head:

True Story- A Novel by Bill Maher

True Story- A Novel by Bill Maher

HBO’s “Real Time” host Bill Maher asked female Saudi Arabian filmmaker Haifaa al Mansour about the obstacles she encountered as a female filmmaker on Friday and spoke out against the nation’s governing religion of Islam.

Maher noted that some nations in the Middle East are becoming more conservative in regards to Islam after the Arab Spring, which, in his view, isn’t necessarily a good thing.

“The problem is, the Arab Spring kind of turned into the Arab Winter,” Maher said. “And Saudi Arabia, I mean, is the most conservative of all. As people criticize me for what I say about the Muslims. I love all people. And it’s funny because the people that come up to me privately say, ‘Bill, I’m with you about the Muslims.’ It’s the American Muslims. It’s the liberals here who don’t quite get it. We’re not criticizing people. We’re criticizing a belief system that turns people into something we wish they wouldn’t be.”

Very interesting. That I find myself in agreement with Bill Maher. In other funnyman news, Bassem Youssef (host of the show Al-Bernameg), kidnapped John Stewart. (Stewart is in the Middle East, directing and producing ‘Rosewater,’ based on a memoir by Maziar Bahari.)

Linking the Arab Spring with Occupy

Writer Ahdaf Soueif, who wrote Cairo: My City, Our Revolution thinks that young Egyptians should be connected with the Occupy movement: If institutions like the British Council want to remain relevant, the best way to do this is provide a platform to connect young people and artists from the Middle East with their international peers, most obviously with the Occupy movement. Yes, most obviously Adhaf. Good idea, let’s get the 99%ers, the hippies, and Egyptian artists together. Sounds like a fun party. . .

Matthew VanDyke, Libyan Rebel?

I am not sure what to make of this. Matthew VanDyke, a writer, left his Maryland family and went to go fight with the Libyan rebels against Moammar Gadhafi:

Matthew VanDyke, Libyan Rebel, Runaway Boyfriend

LINTHICUM, Md. (AP) — An American writer who went missing in Libya for months returned to the United States on Saturday night, telling reporters he went to the north African nation to participate in the uprising against dictator Moammar Gadhafi and was on a reconnaissance mission when he was captured.

But Matthew VanDyke, 32, said his mother and girlfriend didn’t know when he set off from Baltimore for Libya that his goal was to support the revolution.

“You don’t tell your mother that you’re going to go fight in a war,” he said. “When I got out of (a Libyan) prison, I was going to finish what I came to do. So the past several weeks I’ve been in combat on the front lines in Sirte fighting Gadhafi’s forces.”

Okay. So he blows out of town to go holler his rebel yell. I imagine his girlfriend is a little t’eed off. Let’s check her out.

Matthew VanDyke (the Libyan) and Lauren Fischer (the devoted gf), rebels in love

And blogging has again proven that my grasp of human relationships (and how a girlfriend will act if one jaunts off to Libya to see the fall colors) is tenuous at best. She looks absolutely enamored. My gaunt rebel.

So what did he do in solitary confinement?

VanDyke spent more than five months in solitary confinement in Libyan prisons. He said he sang Guns n’ Roses songs to himself and tried to name all of the “Star Trek” characters to pass the time. He said he also suffered from the psychological effects of solitary confinement.

Welcome to the jungle. . .