Al-Azhar imam suspended, apologizes for singing Umm Kulthum song

Ehab Younes
Updated 26 September 2017
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Al-Azhar imam suspended, apologizes for singing Umm Kulthum song

CAIRO: An imam at Egypt’s Al-Azhar University has publicly apologized after being suspended from his job and subjected to massive criticism for singing on TV while wearing his religious uniform.
“I appreciate the feelings of those who had been disturbed by my singing,” wrote Sheikh Ehab Younes on his Facebook page.
The imam was on an Egyptian talk show last week when the presenter asked him to sing a song in tribute to the legendary Arab singer Umm Kulthum.
Younes sang a few lyrics from her song “Lesa Faker” (“Do You Still Remember?”) as an orchestra played in the background.
But the incident landed him in hot water because he was singing while wearing his Azhari uniform: A turban and long thobe.
It triggered a backlash on social media, prompting Egypt’s Ministry of Awqaf to refer the imam for investigation. “I want to reassure my loved ones, and those who care about me, that I’ve been interrogated today, and I am fine,” Younes wrote.
“I appreciate your standing by my side, and I respect the Awqaf minister’s decision to suspend me.”
The ministry said Younes had been suspended from his work as an imam and preacher at Ali bin Abi Talib Mosque, which falls under the ministry’s authority.
Al-Azhar also condemned his singing, saying: “People in the Islamic world associate the Azhari dress with uniforms of religious scholars and students, thus it should not be worn when singing or performing any type of art, even if it is purposeful and upscale.”
Shariah Professor Mohammed Shahat El-Gendy told Arab News: “Islam doesn’t prohibit music that doesn’t move sexual instincts. So the problem with what the Azhari imam did doesn’t lie in singing Umm Kulthum, who has been presenting upscale art throughout her lifetime. “It’s the fact that he was wearing his uniform, and the dress of a scholar should be respected. When wearing it, he is a role model for other Muslims.”
But some intellectuals in Egypt said there is nothing wrong with an imam singing while wearing his scholarly dress.
On his Facebook page, writer Sameh El-Zahar listed the names of famous Egyptian imams known for their love of music.
“Sheikh El-Naqshbandi strongly liked Umm Kulthum and sang for her,” Al-Zahar wrote.
“Sheikh Mohammed Refaat was the most famous man of his time in his knowledge of classical music, and Sheikh Abdul Basset Abdul Samad was a distinguished oud player.”


Tunisia fishermen turn tide to cash in on blue crab menace

Updated 15 October 2018
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Tunisia fishermen turn tide to cash in on blue crab menace

  • Tunisians have named the fearsome-looking blue crabs as Daesh
  • The blue crab, once a native of the Red Sea, first showed up in the Gulf of Gabes off Tunisia’s coast in 2014

DJERBA, Tunisia: Tunisian fishermen saw the blue crab wreak such havoc on their catches when it first appeared that they nicknamed it after the terrifying militants of the Daesh group.
But now — four years after these scourges of the sea invaded their waters — the predators have turned into prey as fishermen in the North African country cash in on the crustaceans.
Jamel Ben Joma Zayoud pulls his nets out of the water off the Mediterranean island of Djerba to find them full of blue crabs with their fearsome-looking spikes.
“Look, there are only Daesh, they’ve destroyed everything,” he says, using the term for the militant group that has become the crabs’ nickname.
The blue crab, once a native of the Red Sea, first showed up in the Gulf of Gabes off Tunisia’s coast in 2014 and immediately set about snapping up the rich pickings it found.
“It quickly became a curse,” Zayoud, 47, tells AFP. “It eats all the best fish.”
There are two explanations for how the blue crab, or Portunus Pelagicus, made it all the way to the shores of Tunisia, says researcher Marouene Bedioui, at the National Institute for Marine Sciences and Technologies.
Either their eggs were transported on boats to the region or they arrived as part of a lengthy migration that started when the Suez Canal opened in 1869.
However the crabs turned up, their impact has been damaging.
The hard-up fishermen along the coast, already struggling to make ends meet, felt the pinch as the crabs attacked their nets and the local fish.
“One thousand, one hundred fishermen have been hit by this plague in Gabes,” said Sassi Alaya, a member of the local labor union.
“Nowadays we change our nets three times a year, while before it was once every two years.”
In 2015 and 2016, fishermen demonstrated over the issue — and eventually the government took notice.
The authorities last year launched a plan aimed at helping fishermen to turn the pest into profit.
They were taught how to trap the crabs and the government began subsidising the cost of purchasing what was caught.
Plants popped up to freeze the crabs and ship them to markets in the Gulf and Asia where customers are willing to shell out for their meat.


Blue crabs investment
One of them is managed by a Turkish company — putting to use the experience it gained dealing with an influx of the crabs back home.
Each afternoon a line of refrigerated vans forms outside the facility delivering the crabs caught that morning from nearby harbors.
“When the crab appeared we didn’t know how to make money from it,” said Karim Hammami, co-director of the firm Tucrab.
“Tunisians didn’t consume it so the fishermen avoided catching it — but when investors came in and the authorities began moving we started targeting foreign markets.”
In the first seven months of this year, Tunisia produced 1,450 tons of blue crab worth around three million euros ($3.5 million), the ministry of agriculture says.
For those making their livelihoods from the sea, the transformation has been stark.
“The situation has completely changed,” said fisherman Zayoud.
He has now started going after fish with his nets, and crabs with cages.
So succesful have the fishermen been that they are now even planning to limit themselves in order not to deplete crab stocks too much.
And even they have got a taste for their former foe.
For their lunch, Zayoud and his crew select, cook and tuck into a healthy male crab.
“Daesh eat all the best fish,” explains the fisherman.
“So their meat has to be delicious.”