Sunday, January 30, 2011

Brainwashing in Islam: A Jihadist Video

Yesterday, while going through my Twitter haystack, I came upon this video below titled “The Army Of Imam Al Mahdi”. It plays a documentary-like clip about a jihadist boot-camp in Afghanistan. It consists of a series of clips showing the training sessions done by the soldiers of Imam Al Mahdi—jidadists.



I’ve watched quite a lot of videos similar to this one before; it wasn’t  new to me. They are mainly filmed for promoting these Jihadist “schools”. In other words, they want to attract young and naive Muslims to join them, and they do so by showing how professional and advanced their training techniques are: they use “cool” combat manoeuvres, and fire powerful machine-guns.

This type of advertising is one of the many highly effective brainwashing techniques used by Muslim extremists. I have a little story that proves how effective they are.

The clip played a couple Jihadist songs—anthems—in the background of the video. These songs are in Arabic, and they encourage Muslims to fight, kill, sacrifice themselves, and join the jihadist armies, by claiming it is the duty of each Muslim, according to the Koran. The songs include a lot of repeating and emphasis.

Now what happened to me was the following. While watching this clip. last night, I thought to myself the tunes of the songs played in the background are really catchy. However, I didn’t realize how catchy they really are until this very morning: I woke up today, and ironically I was humming the tune—and some of the words—of one of these songs! I mean I only heard it once, and there I was singing it in my head, the very next day. I was really surprised, and so I said to myself “I am going to write about it tonight!”

Sunday, January 30, 2011 by Eli ·


Monday, January 24, 2011

Fatwa of the Day #9

Ladies, if you are considering converting to Islam—a decision I encourage you to make; for all the advantages you gain from being a woman in Islam—I recommend you read the following Fatwa which will make you think twice before visiting your beauty parlor again.

As always, the Egyptian Dar al-Ifta (Arabic for the “Home of Fatwa Issuing”), succeeded at making me shake my head in disbelief and laugh at the same time.
The following inquiry was submitted to their website urging them to advise on this extremely critical matter:

The Question: Is plucking one’s eyebrows considered a sin for Muslim women?

The Answer(s):

- According to one group of scholars: YES, IT IS DEFINETELY A SIN! Plucking one’s eyebrows and/or the eyebrows of another woman is absolutely prohibited in Islam. In order to back this ruling, Dr. Ali Goma Mohammed, the wise Muslim scholar who responds to these important questions—in the form of Fatwas, refers to the following saying in the Hadith:

Allah curses the women who perform tattoos, get tattos, the women who pluck the eybrows of others, and those women who get their eyebrows plucked, and part their teeth for adornment, who change Allah’s creation.

- the other group advocates for the following: If a woman is unmarried she is prohibited from plucking her eyebrows. On the other hand a married woman is permitted to do so on the conditions that her husband gives her permission, and that she does it for adornment purposes only (i.e. she plucks her eyebrows to make herself prettier and more attractive to her husband).

frida by iris schwartz

Having read that, I believe that unmarried young Muslim women who are going to remain celibate for quite some time, and who dislike their bushy eyebrows should simply get used to it. And who knows, maybe one day “unibrowness” might become the next fashion sensation!


Monday, January 24, 2011 by Eli ·


Friday, January 21, 2011

Lebanon: Is A New Civil War Imminent?

Joubran bassilYou don’t need to be a political analyst—and definitely not a clairvoyant—in order to “foretell” that Lebanon is moving into a major political and economic crisis. The reason I say “major” is because this country has been in a never-ending crisis. However, current events have escalated the seriousness of the situation to a point where everybody is afraid of an armed conflict taking place (for a brief overview of the current situation in Lebanon, you can refer to any of these articles: Political chaos in Lebanon ravages economy, instills fearAmid opposition pressure, Hariri not backing downLebanon tightens security as political crisis deepens).

Diplomatic activity in the upcoming few days is key to the avoidance of a civil war. Neither party is showing signs of concession to where the opposing group currently stands. Even more, both parties are using the media as a means to shift public support to their own favor.

Saad al HaririThe propaganda being employed has reached a level of seriousness never experienced before by the Lebanese public. A couple of days ago, New TV, a Lebanese TV channel, aired two extremely controversial reports, intended to expose ex-Prime Minister Hariri (At the end of the article are the YouTube clips of the reports. the first video is an audio recording in English with Arabic subtitles; the second is in only in Arabic).

On the other side, another serious event took place on Tuesday. Non-armed combatant of one of the opposing parties—Hizbullah—swarmed the streets of Beirut in a “show of force” (as The Daily Star calls it) . In just two hours, they were able to assemble in strategic locations and then disperse as quickly as they gathered; their intention was to show the other party that they are willing to use force in case things did not go as they please.

Every day, we watch a press conference by a certain representative of one of the two parties, attacking the opponent “team”. Unfortunately, the political discourse between our politicians has become a mockery. We, as Lebanese citizens, are witnessing the whole Lebanese media being transformed into a virtual battlefield, where the two opposing forces haven’t yet engaged in an actual armed conflict; however, through their use of political propaganda, they are both kicking the hornets’ nest.

So again I tell you, I am not a political analyst nor a fortune teller; however, I am strongly pessimistic when it comes to our political situation. In the end, it makes me sad to say I am almost certain that the current “cold war”, which has been crippling the country for so many years, and which is now being escalated, will soon turn into a real armed confrontation: a new civil war!


Part 2Part 3



(Image sources: Photo of Joubran Bassil: — Photo of Saad al Hariri:

Friday, January 21, 2011 by Eli ·


Friday, January 14, 2011

St. Peter “the rock” is Actually a Man from Lebanon Called Simon!

Two days ago, I published a post criticizing the Lebanese Broadcasting Channel (LBC) because they featured a charlatan who claims to be a clairvoyant. Today, however, I would like to praise them.

Ahmar bil Khat Al AreedEvery Thursday night, LBC airs a very controversial program titled “Ahmar Bil Khat Al Aareed” (which translates literally to “Red in Bold”). Each week, a different theme is examined on the show; the topics range from social and personal situations to bizarre phenomena taking place in Lebanon and the Arab World. During each episode, the host—Malek Maktabi, whom I believe is the perfect host for this show because of his boldness and probing character—welcomes individuals who have come to the show to tell their story. Those people sit on one side of the stage, surrounded by a live audience. On the opposite side, a team of professionals in fields depending on the theme of the episode are invited to take part in the discussion and to give their opinion on the different cases being investigated. A bold red line painted on the floor of the stage—as suggested by the title of the show—divides it in two. This symbolizes that the topic being explored is one that crosses the line of the Lebanese social norms(or that of the countries in the surrounding region).

Ahmar bil Khat Al Areed 2I’ve always enjoyed watching this program because of its controversial nature, as well as the freedom of speech it encourages—the majority of the Lebanese media is rather conservative. The show has handled a lot of interesting topics. But yesterday’s theme was one that got me glued to my couch, and made me think, right away, of writing this blog post. This week’s episode was discussing a new Christian sect—or more precisely a cult—being practiced in Lebanon.

I wasn’t able to find any information online on this specific episode nor any videos. In case anything surfaces in the next couple days I will append them to this post. As for now, I will rely upon my memory of watching the show.

Simon, or St. Peter as he prefers to be called, is a middle aged man born and living in Lebanon. Dressed in a tuxedo, and with a very serious tone, he started to explain his story. Holding a big wooden cross, with which he was doing the sign of the cross and chiming blessings—he told Makatabi (the host) and the audience how it all started. He said god spoke to him and told him that he is St. Peter “the rock”, and that from now on he has a mission: to preach His word and lead a sort of rehabilitation or reformation of the church “from the inside and outside”. Proud of the holy weight placed upon him, he established a locale and named it “the attic”. Inside he setup a mini church, where he leads personalized sermons in the presence of his five followers—or disciples as they like to be address—and other folks who believe in him. However, during these sermons it is not Simon who preaches; it is St. Peter inside the body of Peter. According to one of his lady disciples—who was also on the show, when St. Peter possesses Simon, his voice changes and he becomes a mere messenger, through whom god delivers his word.
After reciting his story, a documentary was played, in which one of his Sermons was filmed inside “the attic”.

Ahmar bil Khat Al Areed 3The short preview of Simon’s “act”, was one of the funniest clips I’ve ever seen. Dr. Walid Sarkis, a clinical psychologist lurking on the opposite side of St. Peter, was given the queue by Maktabi to comment on what has been said and seen so far. Despite being very blunt and outspoken—in my opinion not a bad thing when dealing with someone like Simon—his response was priceless. I wish there were any transcriptions of this episode to quote from; but I will have to do with what I remember. Dr. Sarkis, started his short speech, by telling Makatabi that he has been trying to “find god” throughout his life—but couldn’t—and now unexpectedly, in the studio, he is face to face with god, St. Peter and Mary(he was referring to another of the show’s guests; a Muslim woman who claims she was visited by the virgin Mary, who told her she will a son, and she should call him “Issa” the Arabic-Muslim name of Jesus). So Dr. Sarkis was sarcastically thanking the host for giving him this opportunity. From sarcasm he then moved to the more serious and academic talk. He told Simon that he suffers from clinical delusion; he took out drug tablets from his pocket and flashed them in front of St. Peter, the audience and the camera; he told Simon that he hopes he would take this medical advice and that he is willing to give him, and his “disciples”, the tablets for free.
After this dramatic display, Simon replied aggressively; and a series of back-and-forth inaudible shouting followed.

During the following segment, a nun also sitting on the professionals bench, was given the word. She was strict in claiming that this phenomenon is heretical; and similarly to what Dr. Sarkis said, Simon and his followers must be stopped using any means required. However, the reason I started this post by expressing a praisal for LBC, is because Maktabi—who is usually objective and tries not to take any side—had probably realized the seriousness of the issue, and for this reason he displayed a strict condemnation of the case. This is, in my opinion, the right approach to handle this phenomenon. They showed how disturbing and serious the case of Simon is; the media should never be in a position reinforcing a such dangerous case.

Friday, January 14, 2011 by Eli ·


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Nostradamus of the Middle East?

Michel Hayek 2011 nostradamus

Every New Year’s Eve, Michel Hayek a.k.a. Nostradamus of the Middle East, fools millions of superstitious Lebanese—many of whom are living abroad—via the Lebanese Broadcasting Channel’s (LBC) air waves. During their annual TV special, airing on the evening of the 31st of December, LBC puts together a very entertaining program for the Lebanese audience. However, the most anticipated segment of the evening is, without any doubt, Michel Hayek’s Predictions.


Michel HayekThis celebrated clairvoyant first appeared on the silver screen in October 2006 during a live talk show interview on the Lebanese TV channel “New TV”(Arabic Video). With a hypnotic swirl on the background screen—which I believe was used to create a feeling of mystery—as well as two mechanically moving chairs, on which both the host and the guest were sitting, Hayek read his prediction—or “visions” as he calls them. Even though there aren’t any ratings statistics of this interview, the show must have been a hit, because the following year LBC invited Hayek to be the guest of honor on their New Year’s Eve TV special.


evil eyeSince 2007, Michel Hayek has been swindling the Lebanese audience with his spooky predictions. Our Lebanese culture is immersed in all sorts of superstition and bamboozle; ranging from the belief in the“evil eye” to spells and curses. In fact, there is an endless list of superstitious beliefs, in which a large number of Lebanese people believe. Starting at early childhood, these fallacies play a big part in our every day life; horoscopes, fortune telling, bad luck and good luck charms, and a multitude of other similar bamboozle and pseudo-sciences are very popular in the Lebanese culture, and they are almost always taken at face value. Because of their popularity, the media has taken advantage of this fact. They feature many charlatans and by doing so they increase their popularity. The Michel Hayek “phenomenon” is just one example of the many frauds appearing on TV.


I know that many con artists are doing the same thing all over the world. However, the reason I dedicated a complete post to this story is because of the huge number of people who believe in Michel Hayek’s fraudulent predictions despite the obvious evidence of their falsehood. The reason many people are fooled by him is because during the New Year’s Eve special, and before the new predictions of the upcoming year are read out loud by Hayek, they play a short documentary featuring his previous predictions, and how many of them were fulfilled. Every year, many of these “visions” are shown to be fulfilled prophecies. This “fact” reinforces the audience’s belief in these fallacies. The sad reality, however, is that those people are mislead by a simple bluff, used by fortune tellers for centuries. With a little common sense Hayek’s con can be spotted. The way Nostradamus of the Middle East, bamboozles the audience, is by deceiving them into thinking his “visions” are specific predictions; while in fact they are but general forecasting of highly probable events.

In order to give a clearer idea of the type of predictions Michel Hayek pretends to dream or see, I have dedicated another post (click here) including a list of his 2011 predictions, which I translated into English. Even though some the “visions” might not be clear to non-Lebanese readers, the technique used by Hayek to trick his audience can still be made out. I wish many of those who believe in Hayek’s supernatural powers would consider this claim; I am certain that anyone who re-reads these “mind blowing” prophecies, with a little bit of common sense, will easily spot the fraudulent technique used by this sadly popular charlatan.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 by Eli ·


Michel Hayek: 2011 Predictions in English

(This is a continuation post of “Nostradamus of the Middle East” )

Below is the list of the 2011 predictions of Michel Hayek, which I have translated to English. Some of these “visions” might not be clear to non-Lebanese readers. However, the technique used in duping the public can still be spotted in all these predictions. I have also included a video of the full interview (in Arabic).


  (Watch Part 2)


The list of the 2011 predictions by Michel Hayek (translated into English):

-The Lebanese University will be the scene of bickering and division and some scandals.

- The name of General Fayez Karam will not be forgotten in jail.

-A positive public demonstration after an unnatural  event.

-The Palastinian scarf will be seen on the shoulders of many people worldwide.

-The Road from Bkirki to Harisa will be watched by global and local eyes.

-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be surrounded by a medical team.

-The March 14th political movement will take the initiative to contain a particular crisis.

-Number of investments will be channeled into the medical sector.

-What happened in Deir Al-Zour is the beginning of interventions and violations.

-The Israeli position not to apologize to Turkey will not remain the same; and there will be positive signs for Ankara.

-The “Ain Alaq” incident will be repeated through a terrorist attack to avenge the killing of Abdel-Rahman Awad.

-The UNIFIL in Lebanon will need something like "UNIFIL" to avert a crisis.

- The Lebanese media will be busy covering incidents related to the National Council of Information and the Minister of Information.

-A relation of some sort between the Secretary General of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah and Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.

-Those who believe will be the heirs of the Free Patriotic Movement and to MP Michel Aoun and will face internal problems, and some will leave the movement.

-Leadership of the Egyptian actor Adel Imam will face threats.

-The emergence of a political figure in a manner supported by public opinion.

-A division of opinion regarding an art work displayed during the month of Ramadan, which faces a dead end.

-Incident related to the Lebanese TV Channel “MTV”.

- The Island of Rabbits in Tripoli and the surrounding area will flourish.

-Sports victories will take place in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

-Intense pressure from certain parties to prosecute the singer “Amr Adib”.

-Rebellion of the church in Lebanon.

-A counter-reaction turns into a coup in one of the Lebanese municipalities.

-Storm blowing on both Pakistani government and people.

-A memory of the tunnel between Cheka and Koura is brought back.

-The Pope faces some crisis personally.

-A change in the case of actress Susan Tamim in terms of court and sentence.

-The next Prime Minister of Lebanon will not be from Beirut (the capital of Lebanon).

-A popular demonstration will take place in which everyone will be wearing one uniform.

-The traditional dancing group Caracalla will present something new.

-Rumors and some incidents will take place on the TV show "Star Academy”.

-A high ranking Lebanese military personal will receive a bribe, and he will start issuing threats.

-A controversy surrounding Imad Mughniyah.

-Qatar’s recent openness to the world will be the cause of a breach in national security.

-One of the United Arab Emirates will be busy with security issues related to one of its skyscrapers.

-One of the three [Lebanese] presidents holds a sentimental speech.

-The Kingdom of Jordan contributes to resolving some complex disputes.

-The emergence of a historical document linked to one of the three heavenly religions.

-Important developments in the Israeli-Palstenian case.

-Panic in the alleys of the refugee camp of “Ain al Helwe”

-Some “cleaning” and firing of personnel in the Lebanese Judiciary system.

-The Iranian opposition will lose one of its most celebrated figures.

-For the first time, rocket bases will be planted in the Arab world.

-Gaza is the triumphant party of the blockade.

-Political problems will be the main issue for Bill Gates, and not Microsoft.

-Darkness looming over Coptic Church.

-The structure of the Government of Israel will not remain as it is today.

-The Al Aqsa Mosque and the Ibrahimi Mosque will be the top worries of many world leaders including Barack Obama.

-Secretary General of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah will be seen in a certain public display/demonstration/show.

-The role of the Syrian woman emerges in the Arab World.

-The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will make a scene in front of the camera.

-The name Vladimir Putin will keep Russia and the world busy.

-Setbacks in the plans of French President Nicolas Sarkozy

-A certain Lebanese family will keep on facing tragedies.

-One of the Arab countries’ will face a tragic accident.

-A certain tragedy will join for the first time Israel with surrounding countries.

-Some members of Hezbollah will face an internal incident which includes arms.

-Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh will remain in his position despite some hard problems.

-Some of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s risky activities will exposure him to some incidents.

-Mohamed ElBaradei returns from his battle early.

-Some areas in Syria receive their well deserved historic and aesthetic titles.

-The composition of the new Iraqi government will not remain the same.

-Egyptian military forces will be on high alert to stop certain insurgencies.

-A very dangerous situation will take place in the Lebanese International Airport.

-Natural disasters will take place in Lebanon.

-An emergency meeting will be called for inside the Saudi royal family, and new youthful spirit will be added to the government.

-Incidents in the streets of Tehran, will remind the world of the Islamic Revolution and Imam Al-Khomeini.

-An Arabic figure will face the same fate as Imam Moussa al-Sadr.

-The emergence of the “hunt for terrorism” in Europe.

-President Barack Obama receives popular affection which will help him evade a crisis for a certain period.

-Abu Dhabi will in deed be prosperous.

-Some European countries will be in a certain dispute with Israel.

-Women Rights in Kuwait will be given; and one political figure will face some problems.

by Eli ·


Friday, January 7, 2011

iPad App Review: SketchBook Pro (with Pogo Stylus)

apple_ipad_2I know this is an out of subject post but a few days ago I read a post on Atheist Revolution, reviewing the application Dropbox, and I thought what the hell I’m loving my iPad too and all its apps, so I decided to write about some of the apps I’m using. This said, “iPad App Review” will be a new segment on Free Thinking Lebanon; and in this post I will talk about Autodesk SketchBook Pro: a drawing/sketching application on the iPad.

This application is definitely worth the $7.99 I paid for it on iTunes, and here’s why.SB PRo

I am no artist nor graphic designer; and I can honestly tell you that I’ve always been bad at drawing! However, a couple of weeks ago I needed to create a cartoon character for a business logo. It was around Christmas of last year and I had already gotten my iPad. So I was wondering whether the iPad could be used as a drawing pad and it turned out that it could. I browsed many drawing apps on iTunes and decided to give SketchBook Pro a try—after reading a lot of good reviews.

pogoIt took me almost an hour to familiarize myself with all the controls—which, considering the fact that it’s an iPad app, are quite remarkable. However, trying to sketch with my fingertips felt really awkward; and for someone who’s bad at drawing, it made it even more difficult. I tried to Google whether there is a special Stylus which could be use with the iPad and I found out about the Pogo Stylus; I went out the next day and bought one.

Drawing on SketchBook Pro using the Pogo Stylus is really easy and professional at the same time. For someone who considers himself a terrible artists, I was able to create a lot of nice sketches, including the cartoon character for my logo (see pictures below).

As a conclusion, I recommend SB Pro to anyone looking for a professional and easy to use sketching application to turn the iPad into a drawing pad (there is also a PC and Mac version of Autodesk SketchBook Pro).  



Friday, January 7, 2011 by Eli ·


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