The following are highlights of research and translations from the MEMRI Reform Project in 2022, on a range of topics.
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The MEMRI Reform Project broadens the audience of those promoting reform in the Arab and Muslim world, while highlighting the obstacles that they face in advancing these reforms. Its goal is to provide reformists with a much-needed platform that will enable them to reach out to their societies and to religious, political, and educational leaders while also providing cogent suggestions to Western policy makers constructing long-term strategic plans in support of the reform effort.
The following are selected MEMRI TV clips from the Reform Project in 2022.
#9627 – Former Moroccan Islamist Mayssa Salama Ennaji: Our Society Is For Everybody; People Are Tired Of Islamist Movements Peddling In Religion Instead Of Advancing Basic Rights; We Should Have Democracy
Moroccan social activist Mayssa Salama Ennaji, a former Islamist, said in a May 29, 2022 show on Sky News Arabia (UAE) that she used to sympathize with Islamist movements, but that she has "opened her eyes" and realized that Moroccan society is for everybody. She said that the Islamists claim that they believe in coexistence, but that once they assume power, they wage "open war" against others. She said that people are waking up and are tired of Islamist parties "peddling" in religion instead of advancing basic rights, predicting that Islamist parties will cease to exist. She said: "We all move to countries where there is freedom, and we admire their democracy. Why don't we exercise [democracy] here?"
#9601 – Egyptian Author Salwa Bakr: Our Education System Has Been Dominated By Terrorist Groups; Sports, Arts Are Not In The Curricula, Little Girls Are Forced To Wear Hijabs – This Is A Breeding Ground for ISIS
Egyptian author Salwa Bakr said in a May 27, 2022 interview on Ten TV (Egypt) that the Egyptian education system has been dominated by "terrorist organizations" since the 1970s and that the "enlightened religious perspective" on her generation had been raised no longer exists. Bakr elaborated that Egyptian schools no longer teach sports, music, drawing, and dancing, and she said that little girls are forced to wear hijabs. In addition, she said that this prepares the "cultural and ideological ground" for ISIS terrorists.
#9331 – French Tunisian Imam Hassen Chalghoumi In Emotional Interview: Since My 2005 Call For Others To Respect Holocaust Commemoration, My Family Has Lived Under Threat From Islamists; We Have Been Assaulted, Received Death Threats – I Wear A Bulletproof Vest To The Mosque
French Tunisian Imam Hassen Chalghoumi, the President of the Conference of Imams, said in a January 13, 2022 interview on a show called "Ca Commence Aujourd'hui" on France 2 TV that ever since he advocated respect for Holocaust commemoration in 2005, he and his family have been living under constant threat from Islamists. He said that he receives death threats, that his wife and daughter have been assaulted, that his house has been ransacked, that his car has been torched, that he often wears a bulletproof vest when he goes to the mosque, for fear of being stabbed, and that terrorist organizations including the Islamic State, Hizbullah, and Hamas have issued fatwas against him. As he explained that his home address is no longer under the name Chalghoumi and that his family have changed their last name, he got choked up and began to weep. He said: "We will never give up. But when it affects my family, it becomes difficult."
On November 14, 2022, a video of an Afghan woman singing a Dari version of the Italian protest song "Bella Ciao" was posted to the Baban Seqizi Twitter account. Versions of the song in Farsi have been linked to the anti-regime protests in Iran, created by two Iranian sisters (see MEMRI TV clip no. 9935). In the Afghan version, a woman sings: "We may not witness another day, a new day and a new death. In the streets calls for uprising… We will shout until we are freed from force and tyranny… We will not fear nor waver, we are here until our last breath."
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In a February 11, 2022 interview on Mayadeen TV (Lebanon), Egyptian researcher Ahmad Abdou Maher criticized the way that modern or liberal Islamic thinkers are sent to prison and accused of heresy while Muslims are expected to sanctify the early companions of the Prophet Muhammad, who he said ate with their fingers and drank camel urine for medicinal purposes. He said that this attitude degrades today's generation of Muslims, and he and the show host discussed liberal Islamic thinkers who have been killed for their beliefs. The show's host, Yahya Abu Zakariya, also said that he is familiar with a liberal Algerian thinker whose body was exhumed so that it could be was beheaded and so that his head could be displayed in pubic. It should be noted that Ahmad Abdou Maher was convicted of "contempt of religion and disturbing the public peace" and sentenced to five years in prison. For more about Ahmad Abdou Maher, see MEMRI TV Clips Nos. 8473, 5999, 5669, 5409, and 5234.
Lebanese journalist May Chidiac, a former Lebanese Minister for Administrative Development, said in an August 5, 2022 interview on Al-Jadeed TV (Lebanon) that she does not want Lebanese children to grow up in a culture that encourages martyrdom and death. The images of Lebanese children carrying coffins and crying that they want to be killed in war may be expressions of Iranian culture, but not of Lebanese culture. In addition, she mentioned Hizbullah's 2005 assassination attempt against her, and she said that she wishes to exact revenge against her attackers with peace. For more about May Chidiac, see MEMRI TV Clips Nos. 8679, 2022, 1982, and 1190.
Dr. Assem Hefny, an Islamic studies professor at the University of Münster, Germany, said in an August 21, 2022 show on Sky News Arabia (UAE) that "the Muslim mind in the Arab world still believes in myths. He said that Muslims do not believe in the "notion of enlightenment [...] which encourages one to use one's mind." Dr. Hefny said that Muslims lack the Western experience that drove them towards progress He qualified that Muslim need not adopt a Western secularism, but rather could create a secular understanding of Islam, however instead, they demonize and reject it without thinking.
#9852 – Lebanese Journalist Nadim Koteich: The Iranian Regime Exists In A Parallel Universe With Virtual Facts, As Evident By Its Claims That Inconvenient Events Like The Killing Of Mahsa Amini Or The Holocaust Never Happened
Lebanese journalist Nadim Koteich said in a September 19, 2022 show on Sky News Arabia (UAE) that the Iranian regime exists in an imaginary "parallel" universe and that it ignores facts that it considers to be inconvenient. He explained that this is why it is not possible to come to an understanding with the regime. Koteich gave the example of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi's recent appearance on 60 Minutes in which he questioned the validity of historical claims surrounding the Holocaust. Koteich also gave the example of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, an Iranian woman who recently died after being arrested and beaten by Iran's morality police for wearing her hijab "improperly," and he said that despite photos of Amini in a coma and despite the medical reports clearly indicating that she died as a result of being beaten, the Iranian regime insists that the "rumors" about her death are "fabrications" made up by foreign embassies and intelligence services.
Saudi academic Dr. Marzouq Bin Tinbak said in a May 20, 2022 show on Al-Arabiya Network (Saudi Arabia) that the Islamic world does not contribute anything to civilization and progress today because it has recoiled from and rejected modernity and because it clings too closely to its heritage. He said that in contrast, some countries have managed to simultaneously conform to the novelty of Western civilization while preserving their heritage. In addition, Dr. Bin Tinbak said that traditional Islamic thought was appropriate for past eras, but that today's modern world requires new fatwas and new ijtihad (religious reasoning).
Lebanese political activist Farouk Yaacoub said in a November 11, 2022 show on Al-Arabiya Network (Saudi Arabia) that Lebanon has a failed government and that it cannot provide its citizens with even the bare minimum, like running water and electricity. He said that Lebanon's members of parliament should "be ashamed of themselves" for setting the "worst example," and he said that they are following the example of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. He added that half of Lebanon's MPs are wanted by Interpol.
#9668 – Egyptian TV Host Ibrahim Eissa: Liberal European Journalists, Politicians Accept The Muslim Brotherhood And Accuse Its Critics Of Islamophobia; Liberal Logic Ignores The Fact That They Are Murderers – The World Has Gone Crazy!
Egyptian TV host Ibrahim Eissa said on a June 3, 2022 show on Al-Kahera Wal-Nas TV (Egypt) that the Muslim Brotherhood controls all the groups in Europe that represent Muslims and that as a result, liberal journalists and politicians in the West believe that this is what Islam is and accept Islamic extremism because they want to respect different cultures. He said that on the other hand, they say that people who oppose the Muslim Brotherhood are Islamophobic, elaborating: "But the Muslim Brotherhood members and Islamists with their 'Westophobia' and who talk about a global Crusader conspiracy – that's all fine and dandy!... The world has gone crazy." For more about Ibrahim Eissa, see MEMRI TV clips Nos. 9082, 8621, 8568, 7852, 7295, 7172, 6767, 6530, 6416, and 5150.
#9289 – Iraqi Researcher Ghaleb Al-Shabandar: People Say Iraq Is Controlled By America, Yet The Militias Receive Iranian Support Freely And Attack The U.S. Embassy; We Defended Iran From ISIS, Not The Other Way Around
Iraqi researcher Ghaleb Al-Shabandar said in a January 2, 2022 interview on Zagros TV (Iraqi Kurdistan) that people claim that Iraq is controlled by the Americans, but that there are openly anti-American TV channels in Iraq, that anti-American opinions are represented in Iraq's parliament, that Iraq has still been receiving weapons from Iran, that Qasem Soleimani had still operated in Iraq, and that the PMU and other militias operate freely, all despite supposed American control. Al-Shabandar also criticized Iran for selling Iraq overpriced weapons, for cutting off gas to Iraq, and for causing Iraq's electricity crisis. He said that Iraq has been defending Iran from ISIS, and not the other way around. In addition, Al-Shabandar said that attempts to forcibly reconquer territory in Palestine have only resulted in the Palestinians losing more and more land and that only negotiations have resulted in regaining land, as had been the case with Sadat and the Sinai Peninsula.
#9843 – Iranian Majles Member and Fmr. Health Minister Masoud Pezeshkian Blames Regime for Mahsa Amini's Death: Our Behavior Is Making Iranians Hate Islam, We Must Reexamine Our Methods; You Cannot Implement Faith with Force
Iranian Majles member Masoud Pezeshkian, who has previously served as Iran's Minister of Health, said in a September 19, 2022 show on IRINN TV (Iran) that he is sorry over the recent death of Mahsa Amini, a young Iranian woman who recently died after being beaten and arrested by Iran's morality police for wearing her hijab "improperly." He said that Iran's laws are meant to make people more chaste and modest, but instead the Iranian regime should adopt different methods if its behavior is making Iranians hate Islam. He blamed himself, the Iranian government, the mosques, the religious scholars, and Iran's broadcasting authority for the current situation in Iran, and he argued that it is impossible to make people religious by force. Amini's death has sparked widespread protests in Iran (see MEMRI TV Clips No. 9833 and No. 9837).