Monday, October 31, 2011

Honoring Maikel’s courage again

I read Maikel’s wonderfully brave statement announcing his intention to boycott his trial tomorrow and once again he amazed and inspired me with his incredible courage in the face of such brutal tyranny. He pointed out once again that the army has no right to try him because he’s a civilian and also compared his refusal to attend this illegal ‘trial’ with his rejection of compulsory military service last year. He correctly noted that the judges are not real judges but rather military officers. And he reminded his captors that ‘history remembers Nelson Mandela, Anwar Sadat, Erdogan, and Martin Luther King Jr.’ and not the judges who illegally sentenced them in accordance with the dictates of repressive regimes. As it turns out, Maikel is required to appear in court tomorrow where he will once again announce his boycott of the session against him. Tomorrow marks day 70 of his hunger strike.

I wanted to respond in detail to some of his points in his Fragments 9 on October 9, 2011. He mentioned how everyone assumes that you must be gay if you are defending gay rights, you must be Christian or Bahai if you are defending Christian or Bahai rights. This is a sadly absurd but also common assumption. I defend the rights of gay, Christian, and Bahai people anywhere in the world although I am not gay or Christian or Bahai. I like what he says here: “Many people exist who have principles defending it for no reward and sacrifice their lives and happiness for them.” Unfortunately I have to say that most people have no principles and that men and women like Maikel who sacrifice their lives for principles are sadly rare in this world.

Being a scientist, he notes the poor education in physics and biology in Egypt which leads people to not understand principles like the Big Bang and evolution. I would have to say that unfortunately the U.S. has the same problem with weak science education which may help to explain why so many Americans, particularly religious Christians, don’t believe in evolution either.

He also shows in detail how the militarists in Egypt are exploiting the conflict with Israel in order to destroy the democratization process in Egypt. Unfortunately, they seem to be succeeding rather well in this endeavor because it is really easy to get Egyptians to support any regime that is anti-Jewish. He points out how the regime and its thugs took advantage of a protest outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo on April 8 and used it as an ideal opportunity to suppress the demonstrators at Tahrir Square. He points out the attack on the Israeli embassy in September 1 was used as an excuse to reinstate the emergency laws which effectively annulled the democratic process in Egypt.

I agree with him when he says in fragment 8 on october 5, 2011, he’s not a socialist but he thinks food, health, housing, education, and a healthy environment are basic human rights. Unfortunately, many Americans are also left without these basic needs, not to mention at least one billion people in poor countries like Egypt.

I really like what he says in response to those who criticize him as an athiest. He says, “People are asking me, “you are an atheist, you don’t believe in anything?”. I believe in freedom, truth, ethics, morality, values, justice, equality, solidarity, tolerance, love, peace, human rights, science and humanity. Isn’t that enough?” I am a religious Jew myself, but I find it highly offensive when religious believers attack the humanity and dignity of athiests. I really respect him for both his athiesm and his pacifism although I don’t share either one of his convictions in this regard. I was really pleasantly surprised to see that Egyptian democratic activists who had previously boycotted Maikel for his pro-Israel views finally spoke up for him when he was sent to a mental institution. So the regime really crossed a line when they sent him to a mental institution, and this decision touched a nerve among Egyptian intellectuals who generally hate Israel. I would say that the Soviet regime also found the same thing – that when they put the biologist Dr. Zhores Medvedev in a mental hospital in 1970, they crossed a line. And Soviet intellectuals particularly scientists spoke up for Medvedev, who was quickly released from a mental institution in less than 3 weeks. Thank G-d Maikel was freed from the mental institution in less than a week.

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