Hezbollah, Interviews, Israel, Lebanon, March 14

An Interview with Omar Khouri

I recently caught up with a friend of mine, Omar Khouri, with whom I spent a few summers as a kid in Lebanon (along with other luminaries like Omar Naim and Fadi Baki). Khouri’s star is rising in the art world; his paintings have been exhibited in New York and Beirut, and some of his recent stuff is available for sale at Saatchi online. I suggest that well-heeled readers go out and buy his work now before it becomes outrageously expensive.

We sat down for a virtual chat about fine art, comics, film, and politics.

*

QN: What have you been up to these days? You’re busy.

Khouri: I’m preparing for my upcoming solo exhibition, starting on the 10th of March, 2015, at Agial Art Gallery in Beirut. The opening will coincide with the release of a book of my work, published by Plan Bey, that dances the line between comics and painting. I have also recently begun to exhibit and sell my work through the online gallery Saatchi Art, where i am mainly displaying my gouache portraits.

Plus, there is a brand new Samandal issue in the works. Its the magazine’s debut as a yearly anthology instead of a quarterly magazine, that is scheduled for release in December, and even though I don’t have a story in it, there are a still a number of administrative and editorial duties for me to fulfill.

QN: I’ve found that much of your recent work is expressly political in a way that many visual artists tend to eschew. Is this a programmatic decision for you? Or are you simply drawn to political material?

Saed&Bashar2sKhouri: For quite a long time, I was one of those artists who avoided politics in both their work and their everyday life. Growing up in Lebanon, politics in my mind was always equated with war. Engaging in any political act was only a way to reinforce one’s prejudices against their fellow countrymen and tribal fidelity to their narrow-minded warlord leaders. In many ways, the situation remains unchanged to this day. I believed that avoiding “politics” and anything to do with it was the only way to step out of that vicious circle of hatred afflicting not only my country, but the rest of the world as well.

Rafiq&Hafez2sHowever, after spending five years in the States, then returning to Beirut, I came to realize that politics was an implied aspect of everything I did. I was beginning to understand that even my refusal to engage in any political act or discussion was in itself a political statement.

At the same time, the country was at a democratic crossroads after the assassination of Rafiq Hariri and the 2006 war with Israel, and I was frustrated with the direction the country was taking since it seemed to be heading inevitably towards a reigniting of civil war. The first of my art that was consciously political was also my first comics story entitled Salon Tareq el Khurafi (or “Tareq’s Mythical Barbershop”) dealing with censorship and the separation of religion from the state, which began publication in 2007 in Samandal Comics Magazine issue Zero. Since then, even though politics is not the main focus of my work, I have stopped shying away from it and I deal with it in my work whenever the need arises.

QN: Tell me about your latest portrait series, and why you choose to mix political leaders with personal acquaintances, celebrities and artists.

Hasan02Khouri: This recent series of portraits is an exploration of what it means to “know” a person in this digital age of smart phones and social media. Today we express our identities and connect and interact with our friends, families and colleagues in the same ways and same places where we get news of politicians, celebrities and fictional characters. It all comes to us through our digital screens, on our computers and tablets and smartphones, as concepts of people rather than separate physical entities.

Since physical proximity and direct contact are no longer necessities of our interactions, the lines blur between friend and stranger, reality and fantasy, private and public, truth and lie… My portraits of political figures in this context, juxtaposed with the other subjects in this series, is an attempt to depoliticize their image and highlight the human aspect of their nature in search of aspects in their personalities that one can connect with on a more basic level regardless of their political views. Once this connection is established, it is my opinion that it is then easier to revisit and more honestly analyze their actions and political ideals.

QN: You grew up in Lebanon during the Civil War. What was your experience of it?

I was born in London in 1978, but grew up in Beirut between ’79 and ’86, then spent the rest of my childhood and adolescence in the Koura area of north Lebanon. My earliest memory is from 1982: a stormy night spent with my mother, brother and sister in an over-crowded, violently-rocking ferry to Cyprus to escape the Israeli invasion of Beirut. Though the memory is in no way clear, the orange yellow background and vine flower pattern of the cushion my siblings and I had to share as a pillow that night is still vividly burned into my mind.

The rest of my time living in the capital city was colored with countless nights spent in our building’s bomb shelter, or days huddled in our apartment’s hallway after lining its walls with our beds’ mattresses for added protection. As a kid, I had not yet developed a realistic sense of mortal danger, even though those times were inexplicably scary due to the loud noises and shaking buildings. But they were also, strangely, a lot of fun since we got to hang out all night with our friends, excused from our homework, and sometimes had no school the next day (or for several days). During my early teen years, after the Civil War had already “ended”, I began to understand what had happened, and this manifested itself as exceptionally vivid nightmares of the conflict that my younger self had experienced.

During the second half of my childhood, I lived in the villages of the Koura plateau and I was very fortunate to experience an unspoiled rural Lebanon complete with recreational tree climbing, wood fire stoves, filling water gallons at the mouth of the village spring, and the wonderful ad hoc aesthetic of traditional hand-built stone houses with unskilled concrete extensions.

QN: What were some of your formative influences as an artist?

yoshitakaMy earliest artistic influence was my father, who is an architect. Because of his profession, I became familiar with drawing tools from an early age and my visual vocabulary was always stimulated by the architecture and art history books in his library. My second formative inspiration was the sophisticated color palette and fine detail of my maternal grandmother’s needle work. These two, combined with my classic attention-seeking middle child syndrome, unconsciously drove me towards the artistic nerd category of social grouping, even though I was quite good at sports and part of my high school basketball varsity team.

My first conscious realization that I wanted to dedicate my life to art came during 1993, the year I discovered the work of my three greatest influences today: the French comics master Moebius, whom I had the pleasure of meeting that year at my first eye-opening exhibition of his work in Beirut; the English comics author Alan Moore, whose masterpiece Watchmen blew my mind wide open to the idea that comics could be as powerful and insightful as any other art form when dealing with the depths of the human soul; and the Japanese painter and concept artist Yoshitaka Amano, whose work continues to shatter the boundaries of my imagination to this day.

utopia16

QN: At some point, you received some formal training, right?

After graduating from high school and spending a couple of years as an economics major at the American University of Beirut, I moved to Boston and became an illustration student at the Massachusetts College of Art with the intention of becoming either a comics artist or concept designer for video games and movies. During my four years there, I learned a lot about art history and the fine arts and became more and more interested in the freedoms of painting. This created a division within my work that I’ve oscillated between ever since: let’s call it a division between Media Arts and the Higher Arts.

page4-5At first, after graduating, I worked on painting and comics separately and in parallel. But with time, the language of comics began to seep into my paintings, and I decided to merge the two into one focused stream of work which culminated in my first exhibition in New York in 2006.

After that I returned  once again to a separation of the two, in order to strengthen each in its pure form before I attempt a proper and more powerful recombining. This led me to my first realized traditional picture story, the aforementioned “Salon Tareq el Khurafi”, and the creation of Samandal as a space for people like me to practice the art of comics. My upcoming exhibition and accompanying book release in March will mark a return to the marriage of the two art forms. If you are in Beirut at the time and curious about what that might mean, please stop by and have a look.

My degree project during my final year at art school was concept art and storyboards for a science fiction movie that one of my best friends, Omar Naim, wrote and was hoping to direct. He had recently moved to LA and gotten great response to this script and needed supporting visual material to show that he had a vision and was able to direct it as well, so asked me for my help. As a result, my first proper job out of college was on this movie, called The Final Cut, where I got to work with a number of amazing people whose films I grew up on, such as the Director of Photography Tak Fujimoto, the editor Didi Allen, and Robin Williams. Robin specifically was a great surprise because, besides being humble, hilarious and extremely talented, I discovered that he had quite a similar taste in comics and video games as I do and we  spent some time together “nerding out” about our favorites. I was very sad and shocked when he passed away; he was truly and amazing person.

QN: Tell me a little bit about the project of co-founding Samandal, a groundbreaking publication and the first tri-lingual comic book published in the Arab World. What have been some of the biggest challenges and surprises you’ve encountered while working on this project?

Samandal 6When we first started publishing Samandal in 2007, the greatest challenge was to convince local audiences that comics were not only children’s entertainment, but could also be aimed at adults and deal with interesting and mature topics of a personal, social, political or artistic nature. After several years of organizing workshops, conferences, artists talks and comics jams, and putting out over thirty publication, I can safely say that we have converted a large number of people to our cause. Actually, one of the greatest positive surprises was the emergence of a number of other comics publications in Lebanon and the Arab world, some of which were even founded by former Samandal contributors and supporters.

Another very difficult obstacle is censorship. People have the impression that Lebanon is very liberal, but that is only true in comparison to the very extreme conservatism of the surrounding countries. In truth, Lebanese censorship is quite strict, while keeping the guidelines very ambiguous and up to the discretion of General Security and those with direct influence over their decisions. Politics, religion and sex are generally topics that one is advised to steer clear from if you want to avoid trouble with the law, yet they are three of the very few topics that are worth exploring if you are an artist. As a result of these conflicting conditions, there is an ongoing illegal lawsuit against the editors of Samandal, myself included, for a piece that was published in issue 7, back in 2010.

QN: Tell me about the work you’ve done on memorializing the Civil War.

VASE_FThe project you are referring to here is called “China” by Raed Yassin and was selected for the 2012 Abraaj Capital Art Prize. It consists of seven vases that each commemorates one of the major battles of the Lebanese civil war. I was commissioned by Raed, who is a friend and long-time collaborator, to design and illustrate these vases, in the flat and decorative style of Islamic Miniatures, on canvas and paper after choosing the appropriate shapes and measurements of the vessels that would wear them. Once these were ready, we took them to a small town in China called Jingdezhen that specializes in hand painting and firing porcelain in the traditional fashion, were we oversaw the reproduction of my designs by the hand of very skilled artisans.

This experience was very enriching in a number of ways. First, I learned a great deal about the history of visual representation in our region in order to teach myself the necessary skills needed to emulate the master miniature painters. Second, due to the detail oriented nature of this painting style, I finally had a practical motive to learn everything there is to know about the Lebanese civil war in its minutia. Not only did I visually study every single weapon, costume, tactic and terrain utilized by each faction, but I also came to understand the complex and ever shifting political alliances, the reasons behind them, and every horrid atrocity committed in their name. I have to admit that the more I learned, the more I was filled with disgust at the world around me and self-loathing for being a product of this nightmare, yet at same time it was very helpful in my attempt to come to terms with the chaos of my childhood and the origins of the present situation of the country.

Lastly, living in China for a month, interacting with people and eating authentic food in the residential and artisanal town where we were basically the only foreigners, was quite an amazing adventure. Raed’s girlfriend Monira, who was my painting assistant on this project, as well as my wife Nidale were also with us and we spent the greatest New Year’s Eve of our lives there. As a result, Jingdezhen is now one of my favorite places of all time, up there with Tokyo, Vancouver and the village of Qalhat in northern Lebanon.

QN: Who are some Arab artists you think are doing interesting work? And what do you think of the situation of contemporary visual art in the Arab world? It’s sort of exploding in popularity these days: big Arab art auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie’s, big museum exhibits in New York, an Islamic art museum in Doha, etc. Do you have a particular read on these developments?

Balfour02There are a number of contemporary artists whose work I admire. Ayman Baalbaki, Ali Cherri, Raed Yassin, Monira Al Qadiri, Barraq Reema, Mazen Kerbaj, Ghadi Ghosn, the artist collective Atfal Ahdath… The list can go on for a while.

As for the recent boom of interest in Arab art, I think it is a very positive side effect of a horrible situation, since it comes as a result of constant political turmoil and endless wars. The foreign powers that choose to fight their battles on our soil, both directly and indirectly, bring in their wake a mixed wave of guilt-driven and genuine interest to understand the local culture and somehow “give back” to the affected communities.

At the same time, the situation itself provides artists with a plethora of very pressing, loaded, and interesting subject matter that a number of them are using to create really inspiring work, which in turn rewards the interest of the outside world. On the other hand, we have the young Gulf nations who are investing their overly abundant wealth in the realms of leisure and culture, which thankfully include the fine arts, in an attempt to advertise the region as something more than politically and religiously extremist place people make it out to be. But, in the end, artists are making a lot of great art here, and people are paying attention (and money) to it. Let’s just hope the art boom stays, but the wars end soon.

IMAGES:

  1. Diptych (Saad & Bashar), 2014: Gouache on paper, 60 cm x 42 cm
  2. Diptych (Rafic & Hafez), 2014: Gouache on paper, 60 cm x 42 cm
  3. Hassan, 2013: Gouache on paper, 36 cm x 51 cm
  4. Yoshitaka, 2014: Gouache on paper, 56 cm x 76 cm
  5. Utopia, episode 16, 2009:Ink and watercolor on paper, 30 cm x 21 cm (winner of Best Arabic Comic in 2010 at the Festival International de la Bande Dessinee d’Alger)
  6. Salon Tareq el Khurafi, 2007, Chapter 1, pages 4 & 5: Ink on paper, 76 cm x 56 cm
  7. Samandal #6 cover illustration, 2008
  8. War of the Hotels (China), 2011: Gouache on canvas, 180 cm x 120 cm
  9. Balfour’s Promise #2 (Gaza by Night), 2014: Gouache on paper, 36 cm x 26 cm

You can follow Omar on Twitter, Instagram and WordPress.

Discussion

264 thoughts on “An Interview with Omar Khouri

  1. I hope 3issa will now show allegiance to the Wise King of Morocco who wisely forbade his ministers and Moroccan people from participating in the so-called Paris March which was used to insult the Holy Prophet and in which all World terrorists such as, Zio-terrorist Neten-Ya-Hoo were present, even though un-invited.

    The Wise King of Morocco is now the most popular of all.

    Idiots such as Mahmoud Abbas and Abdullah of Jordan went to the so-called march and are now being ridiculed throughout the world.

    But freedom to become an idiot is an enshrined right by birth, granted.

    Posted by Mustap | January 12, 2015, 3:31 pm
  2. In other news, the Iranian theocracy of chief theocrat Khamenei indicated its willingness to kiss the ass of His Wise Majesty of the Wise Kingdom in a bid to increase its oil income so that the theocrats may continue to hold their favorite chicken banquets.

    The Venezuelan Nicholas Maduro volunteered to be the first in line to do the homage, and if received favorably the theocrats will follow in line.

    As of now, it seems unlikely that such efforts at appeasement are going to bear fruit.

    Putin also indicated he would be very happy if a spot is reserved for him in the queue.

    Posted by Mustap | January 12, 2015, 4:31 pm
  3. What do you make of the presence of the Saudi ambassador presence at the hypocrite March in beirut ?

    Posted by 3issa | January 12, 2015, 6:36 pm
  4. If the prophet Muhammad were to be here today; he’d cut your freaking head off ya mustapha for soiling and dirtying Islam! I shudder to think any Muslim could be so despicable as you!…May our Lord Jesus Christ have Mercy on your soul!

    Posted by danny | January 12, 2015, 8:11 pm
  5. 3issa,

    I think he is a big BIG idiot even though he is the ambassador of the Wise King. But, the Wise men of the Wise Kingdom made it clear through Wise Fatwas that participating in such gatherings incurs the wrath of the Al-Mighty and will definitely lead the participant to the bottomless pit of hell fire.

    Now, you didn’t answer my question. Do you pledge unwavering allegiance to the Wise King of Morocco?

    Hey Geagea fan,

    Speak NOT of that which you don’t know. But, it is your enshrined birth right to continue to worship idols that are below the Majesty of the Al-Mighty. It’s YOUR lord and NOT OURS, and we seek NOT and need NOT mercies from such and like.

    Posted by Mustap | January 12, 2015, 9:28 pm
  6. Charlie team at work,

    Posted by Mustap | January 13, 2015, 11:18 am
  7. Hey little Chihuahua; read what an intelligent Sunni Muslim thinks! BTW…Where’s the senile old gook or his demented crown prince at nowadays?

    https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/commentary/564668-we-are-all-isis

    Posted by danny | January 13, 2015, 11:40 am
  8. Mustap,
    Re: Charlie team at work

    Translation please from your friends in your post?…We really get your doggy lingo…I am sure you are an expert!

    Posted by danny | January 13, 2015, 11:42 am
  9. Looks like we hit the central nerves of the Geagea hoodlums.

    Bring it ON hoodlums. ALL YOU GOT.

    Posted by Mustap | January 13, 2015, 11:48 am
  10. Pathetic as usual!

    Posted by danny | January 13, 2015, 2:32 pm
  11. Danny,

    Powerful article, “We are all ISIS”. Thanks.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 14, 2015, 7:30 am
  12. 3issa,

    Have you noticed how supporters of criminals and hoodlums gravitate towards each other’s arms?

    I think it’s a positive sign since that gives us the ability to weed out the hypocrites.

    Now, what about allegiance to His Wise Majesty of Morocco? He’s been doing a lot of exceptional stuff since he became the Sovereign , chief among them, of course, was banning trade with the terrorist Zionists not long ago, and also most recently saving the Moors from falling into the bottomless pit dug by the French cabals.

    You cannot keep silent on this issue. You have to make your allegiances clear for everyone to see.

    Do you abide by an unwavering allegiance to His Wise Majesty?

    Posted by Mustap | January 14, 2015, 12:42 pm
  13. J’adore Amir Al Mouminine, Le Roi, Mohammed le Sixiem.

    Posted by Mustap | January 14, 2015, 1:14 pm
  14. J’adore Amir Al Mouminine, Le Roi, Mohammed Le Sixiem.

    …….

    Posted by Mustap | January 14, 2015, 1:15 pm
  15. The Iranian Hezbollah has come out openly and unequivocally supporting exacting justice from the Charlie team according to their revered Jaafar Al-Sadiq Law,

    http://www.yalasarat.com/vdcdkj0n.yt0ns6a22y.html

    According to the site, exacting such justice has nothing to do with so-called terrorism

    We need to find out what their revered Imam says about alleged trading (openly or secretly) with the outlawed Zionist terrorists. That is a more practical issue than talking about barking dogs. You cannot always throw a rock at each and every dog when ‘he’ feels like barking. Could you imagine how expensive rocks may become?

    They should consult with His Royal Wise Majesty of Morocco, the living heir of the revered Imam.

    Posted by Mustap | January 14, 2015, 1:51 pm
  16. I just deleted a bunch of comments.

    I hope the message is clear.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 14, 2015, 6:04 pm
  17. ? Is the message directed at the offender alone?

    Posted by lally | January 14, 2015, 10:18 pm
  18. Oh QN, you allow a troll like this cockroach to hijack your blog and you’re fixated on lexical semantics?? Deleting words? Is fuck you more offensive than the garbage he’s been spewing for so long?? How middle eastern of you. No wonder no one is left out here.. The message is clear indeed.

    Posted by Vulcan | January 15, 2015, 8:19 am
  19. You should name your blog Qifa for ISIS since they and their opinions are are welcome here.

    Posted by Vulcan | January 15, 2015, 8:24 am
  20. QN,

    While you’re at it, can we get some new paintings to stare at? Assad’s likeness makes the hair on my back stand up.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 15, 2015, 8:57 am
  21. Vulcan, indulge my gentility, if you will.

    Akbar, I’m working on it.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 15, 2015, 9:22 am
  22. Comment deleted by moderator

    Mustap, you’re free to express your loony views. But please leave the ad hominem attacks aside. Thanks.

    QN

    Posted by Mustap | January 15, 2015, 9:46 am
  23. Aren’t you tired of Islamic Clerics with Large Military Arsenals NewZ

    Nuslira is giving us a lesson on terror organizations:

    “Terror organizations (IS and Al-Qaeda) harmed the prophet in a way that has not been done in all of history.”

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4615503,00.html

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 15, 2015, 9:46 am
  24. Comment deleted by moderator

    Posted by danny | January 15, 2015, 10:21 am
  25. Guys,

    Mustap is not responsible for the lack of activity in the comment section. It’s simply the fact that I don’t have much time to devote to blogging these days, and I prefer not to write anything unless I think it’s semi-smart.

    I have a few pieces in development that I haven’t had time to finish. Maybe this afternoon… just to shut all of you up.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 15, 2015, 10:34 am
  26. I hope at least Vulcan read the unfortunately deleted comment before it was deleted. It would do him a lot of good.

    QN,

    What about Vulcan’s ad-hominem up few comments above? Shouldn’t those be trashed as well? Or is this another appeasement similar to another one (or several actually) made not long ago – my allusion in that deleted comment to the unprecedented and tremendous leeway he was afforded.

    Come to think about it: more appeasements only produce more ad-hominem especially when the appeased is of such a spoiled character. Did you not have to slap a kid on the wrist once in a while? Kid here does not necessarily mean with respect to age.

    Posted by Mustap | January 15, 2015, 11:30 am
  27. With the fanfare now coming to a close, and so-called marcher going home, it seems it’s time for reflection and putting things in perspective. Original Charlie founder puts the blame squarely on the Charlie team for barking too loudly, and for neglecting to heed advice given to them on more than one occasion by the founder,

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/11346641/Charlie-Hebdo-founder-says-slain-editor-dragged-team-to-their-deaths.html

    Obviously, the lawyer of the K9 magazine is pissed off about the criticism and he even sought to prevent publishing the piece on the grounds that it is too insensitive to the deceased who have barely been buried. When was ‘sensitive’ a modus operandi word for so-called free-speech K9ers?

    The revelation brought by the article clearly exposes the magazine’s Zio connection which is very obvious for the novice to see. Of course, Neten-Ya-Hoo in this case would in now way miss a photo op in order to claim the fruits of his labor.

    Posted by Mustap | January 15, 2015, 11:47 am
  28. 1. This article puts the assault in a wider perspective:

    What’s behind the Paris attacks?
    It’s part of the war within Islam between modernizers and crusaders

    By Gwynne Dyer

    The best way to do this [mobilizing popular support for the Islamists’ struggle] is to convince Muslims that modernization — democracy, equality, the whole cultural package — is part of a Western plot to undermine Islam.

    2. As I take it, publishing obscene cartoons is not a requirement for secularism.

    Posted by Badr | January 15, 2015, 3:31 pm
  29. Badr,

    The author, Gwynne Dyer, doesn’t have a clue. There is no “western plot to undermine Islam”. In fact, western democracies allow for complete freedom of worship.

    Dyer states:

    There will be more attacks like the ones in Paris, because lost young men seeking a cause abound in every community, including the Muslim communities of the West. We can’t arrest them all, so we will go on having to live with a certain amount of terrorism from both Muslim and non-Muslim extremist groups and trying not to overreact — just as we have been doing for many decades already.

    What non-Muslim extremist groups is Dyer referring to? Let’s call a spade a spade, the radicalization of muslims is the direct consequence of the world muslim community where theocrats, clerics and despots have taken over the communities and governments and placed moderate muslims into hiding. And there are so many of these Islamists in positions of power, it is no use trying to prevent it.

    The only answer is to keep the Islamists out of the west using strict immigration policies. Let them tear down their own countries, but keep them out of west unless you want them to destroy your own house. The Europeans made their bed, now they have to sleep in it. Jews will probably leave under their own volition considering that the Euros are so heavily influenced by Islamist blackmail.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 15, 2015, 3:53 pm
  30. Gwynne Dyer contradicts himself several times over in the several paragraphs that make up his article.

    “This will be a more credible claim if Western countries are actually attacking Muslim countries, so one of the main jihadi strategies is to carry out terrorist atrocities that will trigger Western military attacks on Muslim countries. That was the real goal of 9/​11, and it was spectacularly successful: It tricked the United States into invading not one but two Muslim countries”

    But western countries are ACTUALLY attacking Muslim countries. What planet do you come from?

    Give me a break please, Gwynne, and explain to the Muslims that you like to patronize so affectionately why the most incompetent president in the history, the mentally challenged GWB, had to invade not only one BUT TWO Muslim countries, the second one as every one knows had nothing to do whatsoever with 9/11. And while at it, please explain how could the mightily intelligent US with the best intelligence in the world be tricked into doing what you claim others, who obviously are far inferior, want her to do. So now, anyone can go to a far away deserted island plot a scheme with few like-minded schemers, execute a plot and get the US to do his bidding. Nothing sounds more attractive.

    It seems to be working. The know-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing Obama took the bait and he’s back at it like his dumb predecessor. But, the net effect has been clear in every Muslim’s mind, the ones you refer to as moderates and those that you consider extreme. America’s wars have systematically and deliberately mutated into wars of aggression against Muslims throughout the world and without the fine distinctions that you insist on making. Why do you think Muslims, whichever brand you may refer to, need patronizing from anyone? What makes you think that what you consider as modern is what they’re looking for and as such would continue to sanction western wars of aggression against them?

    Even more: could you please explain why the idiot GWB had to use the term crusade,/b> in his pronouncements about his wars? He made his intentions very clear to every Muslim as you may infer from the history that you know very well which is that of your predecessors and which you would like to see some form of absolution from it.

    Posted by Mustap | January 15, 2015, 4:56 pm
  31. There’s a new post up, girls and boys. Thanks for bearing with me.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 15, 2015, 5:20 pm
  32. AP,

    My fault, the quote was incomplete. I think Gwynne Dyer is not saying that there’s a Western plot to undermine Islam, but rather that Islamists/Jihadis are trying to create at least the semblance of such a plot.

    Posted by Badr | January 16, 2015, 4:03 am
  33. Badr,

    Also the comment, “…we will go on having to live with a certain amount of terrorism from both Muslim and non-Muslim extremist groups…” isn’t facing reality. Non-muslim terrorist groups are virtually non-existent.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 16, 2015, 8:41 am
  34. Oh look, there’s free speech in Turkey (unless you demonstrate against the Erdogan regime):

    http://news.yahoo.com/scores-honor-perpetrators-french-attacks-istanbul-134114096.html

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 16, 2015, 10:03 am
  35. The biggest failure of the so-called west, which Dyer would like to ignore or at least entertain the humorous thoughts that it overcame, is the fact that this so-called west is still living with the same mentality and with the same goals as those of the middle ages of the crusades. Its only seeming success was that it was able to conceal its true face with a thin mask which it calls with the misnomer of religious emancipation. While the so-called west may have succeeded over the ages in staging a coup against established organized religion, yet it carried all the baggage that shackled the old establishment while incarcerating that establishment in cubicles, and suppressing it to the degree of suffocation. As the process of the coup progressed, profanity became the norm, immorality became highly sought after and aggression became exalted. So, the so-called west current state of affairs is no different than that of the state of the crusaders less the religious so-called justification which the crusaders used to conduct their aggressions.

    So-called modern westerners are no different than their crusaders’ predecessors except in the way they choose to conduct their aggressive crusade campaigns which, as in the past, are accompanied with profanities and sheer savagery. Also, the contemporary ones dress differently and are not as dirty-looking like their forefathers. In short, the difference is superficial.

    Next comment, we’ll talk about the plague of Jewish terrorism afflicting the world we live in.

    Posted by Mustap | January 16, 2015, 12:28 pm
  36. Next comment, we’ll talk about peace, freedom, democracy and tolerance in the Muslim world.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 16, 2015, 12:46 pm
  37. Information about the plague of Jewish Terrorism is now available for you at your finger tips with not ONLY one comment to read, but with thousands of comments from throughout the world, reflecting the dire nature of the plague holding our world hostage,

    https://twitter.com/hashtag/js_terror

    As promised and even more.

    Posted by Mustap | January 16, 2015, 2:10 pm
  38. The wise stooge is dead. Long live the demented crown prince!

    Posted by danny | January 22, 2015, 7:42 pm
  39. You can enter your stupid comments here.

    #NorthKorea

    Posted by Ray | January 23, 2015, 12:19 pm
  40. Ynet has some positive articles in light of the passing of King Abdullah…

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4618473,00.html

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 23, 2015, 2:10 pm
  41. In a very simple and sombre ceremony, the great man praised by far and near, friend and foe, was laid to rest today. Pictures that covey the greatness of the man and the simplicity of his last place of rest, a message to the rest of the world, especially its leaders, that greatness and wisdom is not found in pomp and fanfare,

    http://www.alarabiya.net/ar/saudi-today/2015/01/23/وصول-قادة-وزعماء-للمشاركة-في-تشييع-جثمان-الملك-عبدالله.html

    Even on his last day above this earth, the great King had a message for the whole world, a testimony to the firm belief of the universality of the message he was entrusted to uphold.

    While the world felt the deep loss, assurances have become crystal clear that continuity of Wisdom is ascertained.

    Posted by Mustap | January 23, 2015, 2:34 pm
  42. Will bibi be inducted into the Parade of Swords by a ruler who may not recall the proper moves? He should make all good effort because, after all, the Izzies owe the terrorist spawning kingdom so much, including the following :

    “Maybe. In the meantime, the US and Iran have reached a “temporary armistice agreement on the nuclear issue,” said one of the participants who is involved in the issue, “an agreement which actually serves Israel’s interests and weakens Iran, both because of the ongoing sanctions and because of the well-times fall in oil prices.”

    This is the heaviest economic blow the Iranian administration has been dealt, “thanks to a quiet dialogue between Washington and Riyadh.”

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4608446,00.html

    dance, bibi, dance

    Posted by lally | January 23, 2015, 3:58 pm
  43. Will Lally leave the comfy confines of the hated West and team up with her beloved shia ideological bros in Syria to help the keep Assad in power?

    Fight, Lilly, Fight

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 23, 2015, 4:16 pm
  44. Lally alleges Wise Kingdom spawns terrorism. Ridiculous as usual.

    Wise Kingdom always maintained no interests shared with zios. Wise Kingdom also fights terror wherever it happens to be.

    What’s s/he (Lally) talking about? Just a whole lot of incoherence and nothing that resembles the slightest of reason.

    Wise Kingdom cannot be made responsible for Iranian theocracy economic woes. You need good economic planning to succeed. Why they (mullahs) didn’t learn from the late Wise King? The late Wise King made giant economic in his realm where every Saudi sings the praise of the late Wise monarch. Why they (mullahs) keep spending their hard earned dollars on killing Syrians and Iraqis while starving good Iranian people at home? Why don’t Iranian theocrats go and learn in Wise Kingdom schools and acquire some TRUE wisdom. May be Iranian theocrats need to eat less chicken from now on and go veggie. Iranian people need to start eating some real protein instead of the fat mullahs with all kinds of protein-filled tacos floating around heads.

    Posted by Mustap | January 23, 2015, 5:38 pm
  45. Lally aleges Wise Kingdom spawns terrorism. Complete nonsense and incoherence.

    Wise Kingdom fights terrorism wherever it happens to be. Also, Wise Kingdom maintains has no shared interests with zios whatsoever. Sword’s dance with a terrorist? You kidding me?

    Wise Kingdom cannot be made responsible for Iranian theocracy economic woes. You need good economic planning to succeed like what the late Wise King did. He made giant economic progress in his realm which earned him the praises of all the Saudis. Iranian mullahs instead spend their hard earned dollars on killing Syrians and Iraqis while poor Iranians suffer and starve. At the same tome mullahs eat all the chicken there is. May be it’s time now to for mullahs to turn veggie and allow the poor people to have some protein. And why don’t mullahs go and learn TRUE wisdom in Saudi schools instead of complaining?

    Posted by Mustap | January 23, 2015, 6:24 pm
  46. “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”

    Voltaire

    Posted by Ray | January 24, 2015, 11:16 am
  47. My boss. My wife. Moses. QN.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 24, 2015, 12:47 pm
  48. Hey Ray,

    I just got off the phone with my buddy Kim Jong-Un over in North Korea. He thinks you’re really cute and asked me to send you this:

    Posted by Samer Nasser | January 24, 2015, 11:30 pm
  49. If only BB wore a turbine or kaffiyeh….

    http://nypost.com/2015/01/24/white-house-going-nuclear-on-netanyahu/

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 25, 2015, 9:38 pm
  50. AP,

    Finish that insinuating and sloganeering sentence fragment!

    “If only BB wore a turbine [sic, cause it’s funnier] or kaffiyeh….”, then what?

    Posted by Samer Nasser | January 26, 2015, 11:22 am
  51. Turbine was misspelled because my PDA screwed it up.

    Post was meant to say that if BB was an arab or muslim dignitary, he would be glowing in praise. Anyway, that’s how many of us Zio terrorists feel about the continuing saga of the Obama-BB “hateship”….

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 26, 2015, 11:49 am
  52. Oy…. change “he” to “Obama”…

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 26, 2015, 11:50 am
  53. AP,

    Surely that is a stretch!

    If any dignitary ever addressed an opposition-led US Congress on a US foreign policy issue, in the process undermining the US presidency while it was engaging in international diplomacy on the matter, to suggest that the US president “would be glowing in praise” is to imply a conspiracy of gargantuan proportions and a complete co-optation of the entire structure of US government! To suggest that an Arab or Muslim could pull this off at a time when US relations with the Arab and Muslim world are already quite strained is even more beyond the pale.

    I don’t follow these “optical” matters too closely, but let’s discuss precedent. Has there ever been in US history a situation quite like this Boehner/Obama/Netanyahu/Israel/Iran/Congress/President kerfuffle?

    For the record, I think it’s all just melodramatic grandstanding that will pass and won’t really affect anything on the ground. The whole Middle Eastern portfolio seems to be ossifying quite rapidly “in situ” and will be left to either stand or fall under its own strength and weight, with interventions being limited strictly to containing, if not stabilizing, the situation. In the meantime, there seem to be lots of profiteering opportunities begging for exploitation by anyone strategically poised and in possession of the requisite chutzpah to do so!

    Posted by Samer Nasser | January 26, 2015, 12:57 pm
  54. For the record, I think it’s all just melodramatic grandstanding that will pass and won’t really affect anything on the ground.

    Samer,

    I tend to agree. I don’t watch the news nearly as much as I used to. It’s a broken record. But I do want to get a cheap Obama Leaves Office countdown clock that an acquaintance showed me. It gives me hope.

    The whole Middle Eastern portfolio seems to be ossifying quite rapidly “in situ”…

    Good vocabulary word: ossify. Anyway, ossification is the name of the game, that is, until our interests are hurt. The wesistance pros are in business to get the West involved, whether that means cutting off heads, or destroying borders, toppling a few sky-scrappers, or building nuke sites, rest assured, “The War on Terror” will continue, no matter what BHO says.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 26, 2015, 1:33 pm
  55. The gratuitous geek in me always feels the urge to tell political commentators that in IT circles, the acronym “BHO” doesn’t describe the current US president. Rather, it’s Microsoft Internet Explorer’s “Browser Helper Objects”. 🙂

    Ignore. Move on.

    Posted by Samer Nasser | January 26, 2015, 2:54 pm
  56. Perhaps Lally is not aware that zio terrorist Lieberman and Russian Lavrov have just completed their own bear hug dance.

    The zio terrorist told the Russian bear to let its ‘Persian’ cat friend know that the cat has nothing to worry about at all from the zios.

    And Lally keeps talking about swords dances with the new Wise King!

    It’s what is called kill and take part in the funeral.

    But everyone now knows the cat’s game Lally.

    That’s why Nasrallah lost his ‘charisma’ long long ago.

    You need to come up with a more original game.

    Posted by Mustap | January 26, 2015, 3:27 pm
  57. Pretty interesting discussion that I got from Syria Comment…

    http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/syria-united-states-debate-mccain-institute/

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 26, 2015, 11:00 pm
  58. Here we go again ! QN might want to consider re-opening up the appropriate post for it?

    It looks like it is going to rain bombs on Lebanon again 😦

    Posted by Ray | January 28, 2015, 7:41 am
  59. The fact the Hezbos did find the courage to kill 4 zios did not raise its appeoval rating in my view. It continues to plummet.

    Seriously! Retaliating for Ayranians killed in Syria from Lebanon south – Another fatal blow to the raison d’etre of Lebanon as we all know by now, and a clear proof that actually there’s no Lebanon and there was no Syria either last week.

    Long live the Wise King.

    Posted by Mustap | January 28, 2015, 7:56 am
  60. New post up.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 28, 2015, 8:50 am

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