Month: March 2010

Trying to Understand IslamOnline’s Crisis

I’ve been horseback riding instinctively ever since I was a little girl. A year-and-a-half ago I decided to learn how to do it properly. One important thing I’ve learned is

IslamOnline employees gather around their lawyer on the 10th day of the strike

 that a relationship forms between horse and rider where there is a constant push-and-pull between the two; each trying to convince the other who is really in charge. While training, the half-ton horses have bucked, run wildly, and tried to throw me off. My role is then to show the horse that no matter what it does, I can hold on; I need to prove I’m a strong rider. Not only that, I need to bite back by pulling hard on one side of the reins and hurting the horse in the mouth to exert my control, otherwise it will continue trying to prove it’s boss.

After following the crisis at IslamOnline closely for the past 12 days, I think something similar to this analogy is happening between Cairo and Doha. I do not think it’s a battle between moderate and conservative Islam, as some would have us think. I do not think there’s a huge CIA conspiracy to eliminate moderate representations of Islam because “it is in the CIA’s best interests that Muslims continue to be seen as terrorists”; one possible explanation of what is happening at IslamOnline given by a worker on strike in the 6th of October building in Egypt.

From what I’ve seen, I think it’s a simple battle of one side showing the other who is in control; the sides being the Doha management at Al-Balagh Cultural Society – the legal owner of – and the Cairo editorial management of the IslamOnline website – the brains behind the content since day one.

The problem with this is that something in the range of 350 employees are caught in the middle.



Egypt Journalists: Support IslamOnline Workers

I worked at IslamOnline for eight years. I started my career as a journalist with them. I occupied several positions within the institution: freelance writer, science editor, managing science editor, deputy editor-in-chief of English website, and director of communications. I left IslamOnline in 2008, but I have continued to be in touch with my friends and colleagues ever since. Anyone who has worked with or even visited IslamOnline will know that IslamOnline is a family.

I am inviting journalists in Egypt to show their support for the workers at IslamOnline by visiting the strikers on Thursday, March 25, at noon. I extend this invitation in my personal capacity as Nadia El-Awady and not in any professional capacity I currently occupy. I extend this invitation regardless of the very confusing circumstances that surround what’s happening at IslamOnline and why.

I ask you to join the workers; the workers who went to their office one morning nine days ago to suddenly learn that they were at risk of losing their jobs in two weeks’ time. I ask you to join the workers who have worked for ten years, providing content that has been followed by millions. You do not need to support the content itself to support the concept. And the concept, in my opinion, is the possibility of a unique media project disappearing from the Internet, or changing from what those workers had made it into.

I invite you to join the workers of IslamOnline in their strike by visiting their office in the 6th of October City in Egypt on Thursday, March 25 at noon.

Their address is:

West of Somid,Land Piece 7, 6th of October City

More information will be posted on the IslamOnline’s workers’ blog Voice for those interested. I am happy to take anyone wishing to go from Haram with me in my car.

See you there!

The Truth about Muslim-Coptic Relations in Egypt

Before I married, I loved coconut. I loved coconut chocolate bars, coconut sprinkled over rice pudding, and coconut in basboosa, an Egyptian desert. I loved coconut.

I do not know who to attribute this design to. It was used as a profile picture by friends - and then me - on Twitter. It reads: one nation, one people.

 My husband, on the other hand, couldn’t stand it. He’s the type of person that makes a disgusted face whenever a food he dislikes is mentioned. It really only took a few short months and the thought of coconut made me feel sick to my stomach.

That’s the kind of conditioning one experiences growing up in Egypt. That’s how I was conditioned to have discriminatory feelings towards Egyptian Coptic Christians.

It is time for me to tell this story. I tell it with the utmost shame. But it is a story that must be told. Unless we admit we have a problem and try to understand why we have it, we will never be able to fix it.


PMS: Beware the Brain Ooze Stains

It’s not easy to explain what pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) is like for a woman to a man who has never experienced it.

I have a feeling that this picture was taken at "that time of the month".

But imagine this: you were hit in the head by a wrecking ball two weeks ago and you are now barely coming out of the coma. That’s how I feel right now with about four days left before I get my menses.

I live in a conservative Arab society. I’m lucky to have received a good education here and abroad and to have gone to medical school at that. I’ve long understood the physiological effects of PMS. I know when it hits me and I know ways to deal with it. But I’ve discovered that so many people – men and women – in Arab societies have no idea about PMS and its effects.

(more…)’s Future in Question

Employees at went on strike yesterday, March 15, after problems escalated with the relatively new Qatari board of directors. Some 50 employees have slept overnight at the organization’s offices in 6th of October City in Egypt as they negotiate acceptable severance packages with the board after learning Qatar intends on ending its contract with the Cairo office on March 31. Employees have announced that the new board has already taken over the website and that Cairo staff are unable to to manage the website or upload material. Sources close to Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradawi, the head of the organization’s board of directors, say that he is currently considering resigning from the board in protest to current board actions with IslamOnline employees. Employees have said that since the new board began its work, there have been strong indications that they want to see a more conservative approach on the website.

IslamOnline is owned by Qatar’s Al-Balagh Cultural Society.

Read more English language coverage of the employee strike:

Al-Masry Al-Yowm: Islam On-Strike 

Bikya Masr: Islam Online in crisis as administration threatens to fire journalists

Watch a live video stream of the strike

Join the IslamOnline Supporters Facebook Group

اعتصامات بإسلام أون لاين

وصلني البيان التالي من أحد الموظفين بإسلام أون لاين والمعلومات على مسئوليته لم أقم بمراجعتها بنفسي

اعتصامات في “إسلام أون لاين” وتهديدات بفصل 250 عاملا

بث مباشر للاعتصامات

 تصاعدت الأوضاع بشدة اليوم الاثنين داخل مقر موقع إسلام أون لاين في القاهرة، بعدما قامت الإدارة القطرية للموقع في الدوحة بإرسال محامين لاستلام المقر بكل ما فيه من ممتلكات وأوراق، والتحقيق مع 250 عامل كانوا قد أرسلوا بيانا للشيخ يوسف القرضاوي رئيس مجلس إدارة الموقع يتظلمون فيه من تصرفات الإدارة الجديدة لمؤسسة البلاغ القطرية المالكة للموقع. (more…)

Yosri Fouda’s ONTV interview with Nadia El-Awady

Renowned investigative reporter, Yosri Fouda, interviewed me on his show “Akhir Kalam” on ONTV, Friday March 5, 2010. This pretty much covers my whole life and it’s my one short hour of fame. If this doesn’t get me into Hollywood, nothing will. Enjoy.

Part 1 

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

مختبر نادية للفيديو بلوج: الإجابة على أسئلة المشاهدين

الحالة لما تيجي لي مش بأعرف ابطل. وبعدين عندي ولاء لجماهيري (4 مشاهدين) ومهم أجاوب على أسئلتهم

تجدون بالتالي آخر حلقة من حلقات المختبر لهذا اليوم: الإجابة على أسئلة المشاهدين

توقعوا في الحلقة مفاجئات سارة

مختبر نادية للفيديو بلوج2: مزاجي راااااايق

حتلاحظوا أني انهارده كتبت كثير في البلوج. عارفين ده بيحصل امتى؟ بيحصل لما بأشتغل بذمة. أيوه والله. لما بأبقى في مود الشغل مخي بيشتغل بسرعة 1000 كيلومتر في الساعة وما بأقدرش أخلي مخي يركز في حاجة واحدة بس. انهارده كان يوم إنجاز. وفي نهاية هذا اليوم المشهود قررت أحط لكم بلوج ثالث. ثاااااااااالث. في يوم واحد. ده غير كل الحاجات الثانية اللي طرأت على ذهني وكتبتها في البلوج على مدار اليوم. جالي اسهال بلوجنج معلش

Should science transcend political conflicts and wars?

This morning I posted a note about a claim that a US journal refused the publication of an Iranian research study because it was conducted in Iran Are US science journals not allowed to publish Iranian research?

I asked the questions: When do political sanctions go too far? Is it smart to sanction science and scientific research?

To this post, I got responses like the following on Twitter:

Thats sad!.. Science should be separated from politics!.. he can really publish it in EU or some other better place than US.

that is sad, I am sure that we can do something in the international forum of physics in this case.I will write a letter immediatly.

that’s probably bcse of the sanctions, Europe may too. Unfortunate falling thru the cracks of politics.

I also received this very valid question from another Twitterer:

do you think it’s OK to to have scientific relations/research with israel for example ?

When I visited Jerusalem and the West Bank in 2006, I covered the issue of Palestinian-Israeli scientific collaboration and wrote this article: Israeli-Palestinian research: walking on eggshells.

You will see that scientific collaboration between “enemies” is complex and does not have easy answers.

What do you think? Does science transcend political tensions, occupation, and war? Should it? Or is science part of the systems within we work and live and thus it is – and perhaps should – be affected by them?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this through comments to this post or by responding to the following poll: