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Topic: Egypt (Read 61622 times)
But , , , but , , , Clapper said they were secular!
Reply #150 on:
April 19, 2011, 11:12:13 AM »
Re: But , , , but , , , Clapper said they were secular!
Reply #151 on:
April 19, 2011, 11:16:22 AM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on April 19, 2011, 11:12:13 AM
Imagine how much embarrassment could be avoided if people just bothered to read this forum.
Stratfor: Egypt's changing attitudes
Reply #152 on:
May 02, 2011, 10:34:42 AM »
Friday, April 29, 2011 STRATFOR.COM Diary Archives
Egypt's Changing Foreign Policy Attitudes
Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil al-Arabi said in an interview with Al Jazeera on Thursday that Cairo was working to permanently open the Rafah border crossing with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Al-Arabi told the Qatari-owned channel that within seven to 10 days, measures would be adopted to assuage the “blockade and suffering of the Palestinian nation.” The Egyptian foreign minister added, “It is the responsibility of each country in the world not to take part in what is called the humiliating siege. In my view, this (siege) was a disgraceful thing to happen.”
These statements reflect a shift in Egyptian policy toward the Palestinian territory ruled by the Islamist movement since mid-2007. Although occasional openings were allowed, Egypt, under the ousted Mubarak regime and in conjunction with Israel, maintained the blockade of Gaza in an effort to weaken Hamas’ standing among Gazans through economic hardships. So, the question is why is Egypt making such a radical change in policy?
“The only difference now is that the military is directly ruling the country and is in the process of changing the Egyptian political landscape to a multiparty system.”
This is the latest of radical foreign policy moves on the part of the new provisional military authority: There is a push toward reviving diplomatic ties with Iran, and the brokering of a rapprochement between Hamas and its arch secular rival, Fatah, toward the creation of a new Palestinian coalition government. There is also talk of allowing Hamas to open up an office in Cairo.
The common element in these developments is that they are against what Israel has to come to expect of Egypt. It is true that the collapse of the Mubarak government had created fears that it could elevate the Islamists (Muslim Brotherhood) to power, which could in turn lead to the undoing of the 1978 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Despite the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak’s family and friends, regime change has not happened in Egypt.
The only difference now is that the military is directly ruling the country and is in the process of changing the Egyptian political landscape to a multiparty system. For the foreseeable future, however, Egypt is to be ruled by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). Yet, we see shifts in the attitudes toward Israel that one does not expect from the Egyptian military, which has long done business with Israel.
These changes have to do with both domestic and foreign policy concerns of Egypt’s military rulers. On the domestic front, SCAF is well aware of the popular sentiment toward the Palestinians and Israel and is therefore adjusting its behavior accordingly. In an effort to manage a new era of multiparty politics, the military is appropriating the agenda of groups like the Muslim Brotherhood to contain their influence and placate popular sentiment.
Domestic politics, however, is not the only factor informing the shift in Egypt’s foreign policy attitude. The new military rulers also wish to see their country regain its status as the pre-eminent player in the Arab world. From their perspective, this can be achieved by engaging in radical moves vis-a-vis the Palestinians, Israel and Iran. It is unlikely, however, that Egypt is about to truly reverse its position toward Israel. The Egyptians do not wish to create problems with the Israelis.
Opening up Rafah is one thing, but breaking the peace treaty with Israel is another. Were Cairo to abandon this aspect of the relationship with Israel, it would dramatically alter Israel’s national security considerations and create massive tension between the two countries. It is hard to envision a military government in Egypt openly opting for such a scenario. Easier to imagine is for the SCAF-controlled Egypt to behave like Turkey — maintaining relations with Israel yet retaining the ability to criticize it.
POTH: Crime Wave
Reply #153 on:
May 13, 2011, 08:12:44 AM »
Coptic Christians, left, and Muslims threw stones at each other during clashes in Cairo last weekend.
Sidebar comment: My readings elsewhere leave me with the thought that the apparent neutrality here on Muslim-Coptic fighting is an example of Pravda on the Hudson's politics getting in the way of the Truth.
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
Published: May 12, 2011
CAIRO — The neighbors watched helplessly from behind locked gates as an exchange of gunfire rang out at the police station. Then about 80 prisoners burst through the station’s doors — some clad only in underwear, many brandishing guns, machetes, even a fire extinguisher — as the police fled.
“The police are afraid,” said Mohamed Ismail, 30, a witness. “I am afraid to leave my neighborhood.”
Three months after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, a crime wave in Egypt has emerged as a threat to its promised transition to democracy. Businessmen, politicians and human rights activists say they fear that the mounting disorder — from sectarian strife to soccer riots — is hampering a desperately needed economic recovery or, worse, inviting a new authoritarian crackdown.
At least five attempted jailbreaks have been reported in Cairo in the past two weeks, at least three of them successful. Other attempts take place “every day,” a senior Interior Ministry official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly.
Newspapers brim with other episodes: the Muslim-Christian riot that raged last weekend with the police on the scene, leaving 12 dead and two churches in flames; a kidnapping for ransom of a grandniece of President Anwar el-Sadat; soccer fans who crashed a field and mauled an opposing team as the police disappeared; a mob attack in an upscale suburb, Maadi, that hospitalized a traffic police officer; and the abduction of another officer by Bedouin tribes in the Sinai.
“Things are actually going from bad to worse,” said Mohamed ElBaradei, the former international atomic energy official, now a presidential candidate. “Where have the police and military gone?”
The answer, in part, is the revolution’s legacy. Public fury at police abuses helped set off the protests, which destroyed many police stations. Now police officers who knew only swagger and brute force are demoralized.
In an effort to restore confidence after the sectarian riot last weekend, the military council governing the country until elections scheduled for September announced that 190 people involved would be sent to military court, alarming a coalition of human rights advocates.
After an emergency cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf reiterated a pledge he made before the riots: The government backed the police in using all legal procedures, “including the use of force,” to defend themselves, their police stations, or places of worship.
It was an extraordinary statement for a prime minister, in part because the police were already expected to do just that. “This may be the first time a government ever had to say that it was fully supporting its police,” said Bahey el-din Hassan, director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies. “It is an indication of the seriousness of the problem.”
Many Egyptians, including at least one former police officer, contend that the police learned only one way to fight crime: brutality and torture.
Now police officers see their former leader, Interior Minister Habib el-Adly, serving a 12-year prison term for corruption and facing another trial for charges of unlawful killing. Scores of officers are in jail for their role in repressing the protests.
“They treated people like pests, so imagine when these pests now rise up, challenge them and humiliate them,” said Mahmoud Qutri, a former police officer who wrote a book criticizing the force. “They feel broken.”
Mr. Hassan, who has spent his career criticizing the police, said he sympathized. Police officers who defended their stations from protesters are in jail, while those who went home to bed are not facing any trial, he said.
“So the police are asking, ‘What is expected of us?’ It is a very logical question, and the problem is they don’t have an answer,” he said, blaming higher authorities.
Shopkeepers say the police used to demand goods for just half the price. Now, said Mr. Ismail, the witness to the police station jailbreak, the officers who visit his cellphone shop murmur “please” and pay full price. “The tables have turned,” he said.
The change in public attitudes is equally stunning, said Hisham A. Fahmy, chief executive of the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt. “It’s: ‘Talk to me properly! I am a citizen!’ ”
The spike in crime is a remarkable contrast to life in the Mubarak police state, when violent street crime was a relative rarity and few feared to walk alone at night. “Now it is like New York,” said Mr. Fahmy, adding that his group, which advocates for international companies, had been urging military leaders to respond more vigorously.
Page 2 of 2)
At a soccer match pitting a Cairo team against a Tunisian team, police officers ringed the field until a referee made a call against an Egyptian goalie. Then the officers seemed to vanish as a mob of fans assaulted the referee and the visiting team. Five players were injured, two of them hospitalized, and the referee fled.
“When the violence erupted, the police just disappeared,” said Mourad Teyeb, a Tunisian journalist who covered the game. The one policeman he found told him, “I don’t care, I don’t assume any responsibility,” Mr. Teyeb said, adding that he feared for his life and hid in the Egyptian team’s dressing room.
Some see a conspiracy. “I think it is deliberate,” said Dr. Shady al-Ghazaly Harb, an organizer of the Tahrir Square protests, contending that officials were pulling back to invite chaos and a crackdown. “I think there are bigger masterminds at work.”
Interior Ministry officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the security situation, said the destruction of police stations had contributed to the disorder. The remaining stations are overcrowded with prisoners from other facilities. Of the 80 escapees from the police station, 60 have been recaptured, an officer said.
Mansour el-Essawy, the new interior minister, has called the lawlessness an inevitable legacy of the revolution. Of the 24,000 prisoners who escaped during the revolution, 8,400 are still on the run, and 6,600 weapons stolen from government armories have not been recovered, he said in an interview with an Egyptian newspaper, Al Masry Al Youm.
After the revolution, he said, the police justifiably complained of working 16-hour shifts for low pay. Bribery customarily made up for the low wages, critics say. So the ministry cut back the officers’ hours, and as a result also cut the number on duty at any time. And the sudden loss of prestige made it harder to recruit. “People are not stepping forward to join the police,” he complained.
Re: POTH: Crime Wave
Reply #154 on:
May 13, 2011, 08:23:34 AM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on May 13, 2011, 08:12:44 AM
Coptic Christians, left, and Muslims threw stones at each other during clashes in Cairo last weekend.
Sidebar comment: My readings elsewhere leave me with the thought that the apparent neutrality here on Muslim-Coptic fighting is an example of Pravda on the Hudson's politics getting in the way of the Truth.
"the Muslim-Christian riot"
Imagine civil rights protesters being brutalized in the south being described this way. Or Krystalnacht being described as sectarian violence.
Reply #155 on:
May 13, 2011, 10:23:20 AM »
Spengler: Excrement approaching fan , , ,
Reply #156 on:
May 13, 2011, 04:31:27 PM »
Another entry today for Egypt. This one seems rather significant , , ,
The hunger to come in Egypt
Egypt is running out of food, and, more gradually, running out of money with which to buy it. The most populous country in the Arab world shows all the symptoms of national bankruptcy - the kind that produced hyperinflation in several Latin American countries during the 1970s and 1980s - with a deadly difference: Egypt imports half its wheat, and the collapse of its external credit means starvation.
The civil violence we have seen over the past few days foreshadows far worse to come.
The Arab uprisings began against a background of food insecurity, as rising demand from Asia priced the Arab poor out of the grain
market (Food and failed Arab states, Asia Times Online February 2, 2011). The chaotic political response, though, threatens to disrupt food supplies in the relative near term. Street violence will become the norm rather than the exception in Egyptian politics. All the discussion about Egypt's future political model and its prospective relations with Israel will be overshadowed by the country's inability to feed itself.
Egypt's political problems - violence against Coptic Christians, the resurgence of Islamism, and saber-rattling at Israel, for example - are not symptoms of economic failure. They have a life of their own. But even Islamists have to eat, and whatever political scenarios that the radical wing of Egyptian politic might envision will be aborted by hunger.
The Ministry of Solidarity and Social Justice is already forming "revolutionary committees" to mete out street justice to bakeries, propane dealers and street vendors who "charge more than the price prescribed by law", the Federation of Egyptian Radio and Television reported on May 3.
According to the ministry, "Thugs are in control of bread and butane prices" and "people's committees" are required to stop them. Posters on Egyptian news sites report sharp increases in bread prices, far in excess of the 11.5% inflation reported for April by the country's central bank. And increases in the price of bottled propane have made the cost of the most widely used cooking fuel prohibitive.
The collapse of Egypt's credit standing, meanwhile, has shut down trade financing for food imports, according to the chairman of the country's Food Industry Holding Company, Dr Ahmed al-Rakaibi, chairman of the Holding Company for Food Industries. Rakaibi warned of "an acute shortage in the production of food commodities manufactured locally, as well as a decline in imports of many goods, especially poultry, meats and oils". According to the country's statistics agency, only a month's supply of rice is on hand, and four months' supply of wheat.
The country's foreign exchange reserves have fallen by US$13 billion, or roughly a third during the first three months of the year, Reuters reported on May 5. The country lost $6 billion of official and $7 billion of unofficial reserves, and had only $24.5 billion on hand at the end of April. Capital flight probably explains most of the rapid decline. Egypt's currency has declined by only about 6% since January, despite substantial capital flight, due to market intervention by the central bank, but the rapid drawdown of reserves is unsustainable.
At this rate Egypt will be broke by September.
Egypt imported $55 billion worth of goods in 2009, but exported only $29 billion of goods. With the jump in food and energy prices, the same volume of imports would cost considerably more. Egypt closed the 2009 trade gap with about $15 billion in tourist revenues, and about $8 billion of remittances from Egyptian workers abroad. But tourism today is running at a fraction of last year's levels, and remittances are down by around half due to expulsion of Egyptian workers from Libya. Even without capital flight, Egypt is short perhaps $25 billion a year.
Egyptian Stock Market Index (EGX 30)
Price controls and currency depreciation have made it more profitable for wholesalers - including some employees of state companies - to export rice and cooking oil illegally. According to the daily al-Ahram, hoarding of rice by wholesalers has pushed up the price of the grain by 35% this year, while 200 containers per day are sold to Turkey and Syria.
"What is happening," the newspaper claims, is that that traders are storing basic items such as rice and barley, hoarded in barns and in large quantities, and are reluctant to send it to the rice mills in order to raise the price of this strategic commodity". The al-Ahram report, headlined, "Conspiracy to Monopolize Rice," demands physical inspection of containers leaving Egyptian ports.
The rest of the story is predictable. Once the government relies on young men with guns to police its merchants, hoarding will only get worse. The Egyptian revolution has cracked down on the commercial elite that ran the country's economy for the past 60 years, and the elite will find ways to transfer as much of its wealth to safety as it can. The normal chain of distribution will break down and "revolutionary committees" will take control of increasingly scarce supplies. Farmers won't get fuel and fertilizer, and domestic supplies will fail.
The Egyptian government will go to the International Monetary Fund and other aid agencies for loans - the government reportedly will ask for $7 billion to tide things over - and foreign money at best will buy a few months' respite. The currency will collapse; the government will print IOUs to tide things over; and the Egyptian street will reject the IOUs as the country reverts to barter.
It will look like the Latin American banana republics, but without the bananas. That is not meant in jest: few people actually starved to death in the Latin inflations. Egypt, which imports half its wheat and a great deal of the rest of its food, will actually starve.
Revolutions don't only kill their children. They kill a great many ordinary people. The 1921 famine after the Russian civil war killed an estimated five million people, and casualties on the same scale are quite possible in Egypt as well. Half of Egyptians live on $2 a day, and that $2 is about to collapse along with the national currency, and the result will be a catastrophe of, well, biblical proportions.
Spengler is channeled by David P Goldman. Comment on this article in Spengler's Expat Bar forum.
(Copyright 2011 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)
Re: Spengler: Excrement approaching fan , , ,
Reply #157 on:
May 13, 2011, 04:42:38 PM »
Blame the Jews, in 3......2......1
Strat: MB on the March, cautiously
Reply #158 on:
May 20, 2011, 12:12:33 AM »
Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood on the March, but Cautiously
The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB) officially registered Wednesday for the formation of a new political wing, paving the way for the establishment of the Freedom and Justice Party. With parliamentary elections scheduled in September, Freedom and Justice is expected to do well at the first polls of the post-Mubarak era. Just how well is the main question on the minds of the country’s ruling military council, which would prefer to hand off the day-to-day responsibilities of governing Egypt, while holding onto real power behind the scenes.
Leading MB official Saad al-Katatny, one of the founders of Freedom and Justice, said he hopes for the party to officially begin its activities June 17, and to begin selecting its executive authority and top leaders one month later. Members of Egypt’s Political Parties Affairs Committee will convene Sunday to discuss the application and will announce their decision the next day. They are expected to approve the request. Three and a half months after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s leading Islamist group is on the verge of forming an official political party for the first time in its history.
“The SCAF wants to get back to ruling and give up the job of governing, but it knows that there has been a sea change in Egypt’s political environment that prevents a return to the way things were done under Mubarak.”
Following Mubarak’s ouster, MB wasted little time in seizing what it saw as the group’s historical moment to enter Egypt’s political mainstream. They announced plans to form a political party on Feb. 14. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which took over administration of the country following the deposal of Mubarak, did nothing to hinder this development, despite the military’s deep antipathy toward Islamist groups. Political instability was (and is) rampant in the country, and the military sought to find a balance that would allow it to maintain control while appearing amenable to the people’s demands, and bring life back to normal. Opening up political space to Islamist groups, including at least two emerging Salafist parties, and announcing plans for fairly rapid elections, was seen by the military as the most effective way to achieve this balance.
It bears repeating that what happened in Egypt in January and February did not constitute a revolution. There was no regime change; there was regime preservation, through a carefully orchestrated military coup that used the 19 days of popular demonstrations against Mubarak as a smokescreen for achieving its objective. Though a system of one-party rule existed from the aftermath of the 1967 War until Feb. 11 of this year, true power in Egypt since 1952 has been with the military and that did not change with the ouster of Mubarak. What changed was that for the first time since the 1960s, Egypt’s military found itself not just ruling, but actually governing, despite the existence of an interim government (which the SCAF itself appointed).
The SCAF wants to get back to ruling and give up the job of governing, but it knows that there has been a sea change in Egypt’s political environment that prevents a return to the way things were done under Mubarak. The days of single-party rule are over. If the military wants stability, it is going to have to accept a true multiparty political system, one that allows for a broad spectrum of participation from all corners of Egyptian society. The generals can maintain control of the regime, but the day-to-day affairs of governance will fall under the control of coalition governments that could never have existed in the old Egypt.
This opens the door for MB to gain more political power than it has ever held and explains why its leaders were so quick to announce their plans for the formation of Freedom and Justice in February. But the group has tempered eagerness with caution. MB is aware of its reputation in the eyes of the SCAF (and the outside world, for that matter) and is playing a shrewd game to dispel its image as an extremist Islamist group. It has been publicly supportive of the SCAF on a number of occasions, and has marketed Freedom and Justice as a non-Islamist party — it includes women and one of its founders is a Copt — based on Islamic principles. MB has also insisted that the new party will have no actual ties to the Brotherhood itself (though this is clearly not the case), while promising that it will not field a presidential candidate in polls due to take place six weeks following the parliamentary elections. In addition, MB has pledged to run for no more than 49 percent of the available parliamentary seats. This is designed to reassure the SCAF that it does not immediately seek absolute political power.
Focusing on whether the SCAF is sincere in its publicly stated desire to transform Egypt into a democracy misses the more important point, which is that the military regime feels it has no choice but to move toward a multiparty political system. The alternatives — military dictatorship and single-party rule — are unfeasible. But there are red lines attached to the push toward political pluralism, and MB is aware of these. Trying to take too much, too quickly, will only incite a military crackdown on the political opening the armed forces have engineered in the last three months. As for the SCAF, it is willing to give Freedom and Justice a chance in the new Egypt, so long as the underlying reality of power remains the same.
Reply #159 on:
May 29, 2011, 09:53:51 AM »
Big piece from Pravda on the Hudson as to where the revolution is headed. It is an interesting read.
Here is the first of 8 pages:
On a recent Wednesday morning, Zakaria Mohyeldin steered his father’s black Skoda sedan through a thick belt of Cairo traffic and drove northward into the sleepy farmland of the Nile Delta. Mohyeldin, a tall, broad-shouldered 27-year-old with a jutting chin and a thicket of jet-black hair, had just quit his job as a stockbroker trainee. The revolution was almost three months old, and the hard work was just beginning, he told me. Mohyeldin had seen his life transformed during those amazing 18 days: battling police in clouds of tear gas, ferrying food to the protesters in Tahrir Square and cheering in awe as Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s modern-day pharaoh, was cast out in a youth-led revolt. Now he wanted to see what he could do to spread the revolution’s high ideals in Egypt’s agricultural heartland. And he was vaguely contemplating a political career, starting in the village of Kafr Shukr, where his grandfather, a former prime minister, was born.
He parked his car outside his family’s old house, now a weathered brick meeting hall along a dusty road lined with vegetable and fruit stalls. Donkey carts bumped along among the cars, and date palms sheltered the lush green fields beyond. Inside the hall, photographs of his grandfather and other relatives adorned the walls. A group of middle-aged local men in brown and gray galabias stood up and addressed him with the respect due to his family: “Zakaria basha.”
A thickset butcher named Elsayed Shahba proclaimed, “What began in Cairo has echoed across the country.” He described how the town’s new “popular committee” — one of the many makeshift civil-defense forces that formed across Egypt during the revolution — protected the courthouse against a band of marauding criminals. It also warned the local member of Parliament, who belonged to Mubarak’s party, never to show his face there again. And now it was trying to reinvent the local government and its corrupt practices: training the police to treat people with respect, lecturing merchants not to gouge customers, forming subcommittees in every field. By Shahba’s account, it seemed the revolution’s ideals were already in bloom in Kafr Shukr.
But a chicken farmer named Ayman Dahroug dismissed the speech with a scornful gesture. “The truth is, there are no leaders in Kafr Shukr anymore,” he said in a loud, angry voice. “It’s only the Muslim Brotherhood that works here now.” Like others in the room, he seemed deeply anxious about the brotherhood’s rising influence. “They are in Kafr Shukr every day. They set up tents with bread, cooking oil, dried fish,” he said. “When they hear someone is sick, they bring medicines. They are at the level of the people. You say you have a popular committee, but I haven’t even heard of it. It is on Facebook, so what? Zakaria, if you want to do something here, you must be here every day like the brotherhood.”
Two other men nodded uneasily. The brotherhood was buying imported meat at a discount and selling it in town, earning goodwill among the poor, one of them said. “They are more active than ever before,” he added.
A third man, sitting cross-legged on the floor, looked at Mohyeldin pleadingly. “The revolution came, the revolution ended,” he said. “Now I want to know, who do I belong to? Everyone says it’s the revolution of youth, but it’s the revolution of everyone who suffered injustice. Now we want someone who will lead us to something correct, and we can’t find anyone.”
Mohyeldin began asking questions — about the local Islamists, the prices of food, the level of political awareness among the villagers. Each answer provoked a storm of arguments among the men, and stern warnings that the town would fall to pieces if someone did not step in and provide an alternative to the brotherhood. “The void of the Mohyeldin family is dangerous,” said Dahroug, the chicken farmer.
“I have quit my job in Cairo,” Mohyeldin said at last. “Now I am prepared to come live here all the time.”
Last Edit: May 29, 2011, 10:04:17 AM by Crafty_Dog
Reply #160 on:
May 29, 2011, 12:12:44 PM »
Who could have seen this coming?
At least the MB is a secular organization........
POTH: Religion of Peace vs. Christians
Reply #161 on:
May 31, 2011, 06:29:24 AM »
CAIRO — The headline screamed from a venerable liberal newspaper: Coptic Christians had abducted a young Muslim and tattooed her with a cross. “Copts kidnap Raghada!”
“They tied me up with ropes, beat me with shoes, shaved my hair,” Raghada Salem Abdel Fattah, 19, declared, “and forced me to read Christian psalms!”
Like many similar stories proliferating here since the revolution, Ms. Abdel Fattah’s kidnapping could not be confirmed. But for members of Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority, the sensational headline — from a respected publisher, no less — served to validate their fear that the Egyptian revolution had made their country less tolerant and more dangerous for religious minorities. The Arab Spring initially appeared to open a welcoming door to the dwindling number of Christian Arabs who, after years of feeling marginalized, eagerly joined the call for democracy and rule of law. But now many Christians here say they fear that the fall of the police state has allowed long-simmering tensions to explode, potentially threatening the character of Egypt, and the region.
“Will Christians have equal rights and full citizenship or not?” asked Sarkis Naoum, a Christian commentator in Beirut, Lebanon. A surge of sectarian violence in Cairo — 24 dead, more than 200 wounded and three churches in flames since President Hosni Mubarak’s downfall — has turned Christian-Muslim tensions into one of the gravest threats to the revolution’s stability. But it is also a pivotal test of Egypt’s tolerance, pluralism and the rule of law. The revolution has empowered the majority but also opened new questions about the protection of minority rights like freedom of religion or expression as Islamist groups step forward to lay out their agendas and test their political might.
Around the region, Christians are also closely watching events in Syria, where as in Egypt Christians and other minorities received the protection of a secular dictator, Bashar al-Assad, now facing his own popular uprising.
“The Copts are the crucial test case,” said Heba Morayef, a researcher with Human Rights Watch here, adding that facing off against “societal pressures” may in some ways be ever harder than criticizing a dictator. “It is the next big battle.”
But so far, there is little encouragement in the debate over how to address the sectarian strife. Instead of searching for common ground, all sides are pointing fingers of blame while almost no one is addressing the underlying reasons for the strife, including a legal framework that treats Muslims and Christians differently.
Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the 80 million Egyptians, say the revolution has plunged them into uncharted territory. Suppressed or marginalized for six decades here, Islamists entering politics have rushed to defend an article of the Egyptian Constitution that declares Egypt a Muslim country that derives its laws from Islam. Christians and liberals say privately they abhor the provision, which was first added as a populist gesture by President Anwar el-Sadat. But the article is so popular among Muslims — and the meaning so vague — that even many liberals and Christians entering politics are reluctant to speak out against it, asking at most for slight modifications.
“Our position is that it should stay, but a clause should be added so that in personal issues non-Muslims are subject to the rules of their own religion,” said Naguib Sawiris, a secular-minded Christian tycoon who has started his own liberal party.
He would prefer to remove religion from the laws entirely the way Western separation of church and state does, he said, but that idea could not prevail in Egypt. “Islam doesn’t separate them,” he said.
The most common sparks for sectarian violence, however, come from Egyptian laws dating from the end of the colonial era. One imposes stricter regulations on building churches than on mosques. Christians often look to get around the restrictions by constructing “community centers” with altars and steeples — sometimes provoking Muslim accusations of deceit and Christian charges of discrimination.
(Page 2 of 2)
The other statute is one the church supports, although not all its parishioners agree: it enforces the Coptic Church’s near-total ban on divorce, even while Egyptian laws on Muslim divorce have grown increasingly liberal.
Often, Christians who want to divorce convert to Islam — and try, after the divorce, to convert back. The law has spawned many rumors of sectarian “kidnappings” to abet or prevent such a conversion for some Coptic women. The rumors ignite most outbreaks of Muslim-Christian violence, including at least three riots since the revolution, and many other controversies. In Ms. Abdel Fattah’s case, the Cairo police said the account was fabricated, while Ms. Abdel Fattah’s mother said her daughter was too traumatized to speak to reporters.
But despite widespread recognition of the law’s role as a catalyst of sectarian violence, the idea that civic law should enforce religious morals is so deeply embedded here that almost no one is proposing to alter the rule.
“It is explosive,” said Hossam Bahgat, founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, one of the few groups that advocate changing the law to at least allow the choice of a civil, nonreligious marriage.
When Copts held a weeklong sit-in to demand equal legal treatment, many who attended nonetheless insisted on the preservation of separate, binding laws on Christian marriages. “So no one will be able to get around the religion,” said Yusef George, a 30-year-old businessman. A spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest Islamist group, said it, too, supported the rule.
Some blame their own church for depending too much on Mr. Mubarak. In a pattern common to Syria, Iraq and elsewhere, Coptic leaders cultivated the patronage of Egypt’s secular dictator, with Coptic Pope Shenouda III trading political support for favors and protection. As in Iraq, with the leader deposed, the Christians felt exposed.
“Coptic rights were reserved to be discussed between Mubarak and the pope,” said Mona Makram Ebeid, a Coptic scholar and former lawmaker who suspended her membership in the liberal Wafd party because its newspaper published the headline about Ms. Abdel Fattah, “and the Copts were left out of it completely.”
Church leaders, in turn, blame Islamic fundamentalists they say the revolution has emboldened. “They don’t want any Copts present in Egypt,” said Father Armia Adly, a spokesman for the church.
The Muslim Brotherhood, meanwhile, has named a Christian as deputy leader of its new political party. “We are calling for a civil state,” said Essam el-Erian, a prominent leader of the Brotherhood, adding that the group hoped to promote laws derived from the elements of Islamic law common to other great religions, like “freedom of worship and faith, equality between people, and human rights and human dignity.”
Still, many liberals argue the sectarian conflicts prove Egypt should establish a permanent “bill of rights” to protect religious and personal freedoms before holding elections that could give power to an Islamist majority. It would “remove the sense of angst that exists today in Egypt,” said a spokeswoman for Mohamed ElBaradei, a liberal presidential contender.
Reply #162 on:
June 03, 2011, 09:42:58 AM »
Humpty Obumpty and the Arab Spring
I've been warning for months that Egypt, Syria, Tunisia and other Arab oil-importing countries face a total economic meltdown (see Food and failed Arab states, Feb 2, and The hunger to come in Egypt, May 10). Now the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has confirmed my warnings.
The leaders of the industrial nations waited until last weekend's Group of Eight (G-8) summit to respond, and at the initiative of United States President Barack Obama proposed what sounds like a massive aid program but probably consists mainly of refurbishing old programs.
The egg has splattered, and all of Obumpty's horses and men can't mend it.
Read it all.
Lara Logan speaks
Reply #163 on:
June 04, 2011, 04:51:28 PM »
WSJ: Salafists going after Coptic Christians
Reply #164 on:
June 12, 2011, 06:28:10 AM »
I cannot access the complete article from where I am
BY YAROSLAV TROFIMOV
QENA, Egypt—Five weeks after the fall of the Egyptian regime, Ayman Anwar Mitri's apartment was torched. When he showed up to investigate, he was bundled inside by bearded Islamists.
Mr. Mitri is a member of the Christian Coptic minority that accounts for one-tenth of the country's 83 million people. The Islamists accused him of having rented the apartment—by then unoccupied—to loose Muslim women.
Inside the burnt apartment, they beat him with the charred remains of his furniture. Then, one of them produced a box cutter and performed what he considered an appropriate punishment under Islam: He amputated Mr. Mitri's right ...
Re: WSJ: Salafists going after Coptic Christians
Reply #165 on:
June 12, 2011, 07:15:00 AM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on June 12, 2011, 06:28:10 AM
I cannot access the complete article from where I am
BY YAROSLAV TROFIMOV
QENA, Egypt—Five weeks after the fall of the Egyptian regime, Ayman Anwar Mitri's apartment was torched. When he showed up to investigate, he was bundled inside by bearded Islamists.
Mr. Mitri is a member of the Christian Coptic minority that accounts for one-tenth of the country's 83 million people. The Islamists accused him of having rented the apartment—by then unoccupied—to loose Muslim women.
Inside the burnt apartment, they beat him with the charred remains of his furniture. Then, one of them produced a box cutter and performed what he considered an appropriate punishment under Islam: He amputated Mr. Mitri's right ...
Hmmmm...... What a unique religious ontology! Good thing the Muslim Brotherhood is a secular organization.
Unique religious ontology!
Reply #166 on:
June 12, 2011, 04:35:50 PM »
Arab world a relic of history
By Salim Mansur ,QMI Agency
First posted: Saturday, June 11, 2011 2:00:00 EDT AM
Only the politically correct, and they are the majority in the contemporary West, remain surprised of how quickly the so-called “Arab spring” has turned into an “Arab frenzy” and is headed into an “Arab inferno.”
In the long run, everything can likely work out and Arabs hopefully may learn to distinguish between mobocracy, as a tyranny of the majority, and democracy, as a rule of law, in which minorities are protected as equal members of society.
But in the long run, as Lord John Maynard Keynes — the revered economic guru of the liberal-left — pointed out the obvious: “In the long run we are all dead.” What matters is whether in the short or medium term Arab politics can break out of its closed circle of traditional consensus that frowns upon innovation as heresy.
The problem is culture. Arab culture, despite tremendous changes that have occurred elsewhere in the world, remains resilient in adhering to traditional values of patriarchy and the tribal order of father (leader) knows what is best for his tribe or nation.
The Arab League consists of 21 states and the Palestinian Authority. There is not one single democracy in this collection of Arab states, and the predominant reason for the absence of democracy among Arabs is culture.
Democracy is not merely an election, and a representative party with majority support holding power.
For democracy to work, the prerequisite is a culture in which the people recognizes the “other” — irrespective of how the “other” is defined in terms of ethnicity or religion or gender — as equal, and their interests and aspirations as legitimate.
This recognition of the “other” is missing in Arab culture. The “other” is merely tolerated in a subordinate status and since the “other” in the modern context is unwilling to be consigned indefinitely into an inferior position, the result is the repeated cycle of rebellion and repression in Arab history.
One of the most insightful explorations of the reasons for the absence of democracy in the Arab world is provided by an Arab-Moroccan woman, Fatima Mernissi.
Mernissi’s book Islam and Democracy: Fear of the Modern World (1992) is remarkable for the wealth of ideas she presents in explaining the anti-democratic culture of her people, and the fear of modernity that grips them.
The ultimate “other,” and also the ultimate “minority,” is the individual asserting his/her individuality against the collective order of men and things. In Arab culture, individualism — as cultivated in the West — is feared and repressed because its affirmation represents the freedom of an individual contesting with and moving out of the closed circle of the tribe.
The West (“gharb” in Arabic), as Mernissi explains, is frightening because, among many things, freedom renders it strange, and like the female form, freedom is seductive.
Arab culture, on the contrary, demands whatever is desirable and relished in private must be hidden (veiled) in public. The fear of “fitna” or anarchy haunts Arab culture.
“In our time,” Mernissi writes, “freedom in the Arab world is synonymous with disorder.” And so a culture suspicious of the West will continue to prefer arid summers of tribal order over any spring that heralds freedom for its people.
Stratfor: Salafists accepting democracy?
Reply #167 on:
June 15, 2011, 12:18:26 AM »
On first read, some of this piece strikes me as , , , needing a bit more thought. That said, the question presented is of profound importance.
Democratizing Salafists and the War Against Jihadism
Egypt’s provisional military authority on Sunday approved the application of the country’s first Salafist party, Hizb al-Nour. Days earlier, the world’s oldest — and Egypt’s primary — Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, was licensed by the Political Parties Affairs Committee (which is appointed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces).
According to Egyptian media reports, as many as four other parties of Salafist persuasion are in the making, following unprecedented popular unrest in the country, which led to the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s government.
“The democratization of Salafism even in a limited form could have far-reaching geopolitical implications. Salafists considering democratic politics as a legitimate means of pursuing political objectives can have a moderating effect on ultra-conservative, extremist and radical forces.”
The establishment of Hizb al-Nour marks the first time a Salafist group has sought to enter relatively free electoral politics in the Arab world. Unlike the bulk of Islamists (of the Muslim Brotherhood persuasion), Salafists (also known as Wahhabists) have generally been ideologically opposed to democracy. From the point of view of Salafists/Wahhabists and other radical Islamists, as well as the jihadists, democracy is un-Islamic because they see it as a system that allows man to enact laws, which, in their opinion, is the right of God.
With Hizb al-Nour as a legal political entity, it appears that at least some Egyptian Salafists seem to have moved past a major redline. As far as Egypt is concerned, they are looking at an intense intra-Islamist competition, which could allow the country’s military to consolidate its position while it oversees the shift toward multiparty politics. From the ruling Egyptian council’s perspective, the presence of Salafists in the electoral mix helps it check the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and vice versa.
The case of Egypt notwithstanding, there will be a great many Salafist actors in the region who will continue to insist that Islam and democracy are incompatible. But the democratization of Salafism even in a limited form could have far-reaching geopolitical implications. Salafists considering democratic politics as a legitimate means of pursuing political objectives can have a moderating effect on ultra-conservative, extremist and radical forces.
At the least, it provokes critical debate that could undermine them from within. There are already a significant number of Salafists who do not support the violent ideology of jihadism and consider it to be a deviation from Salafism. That said, jihadism gained ground due to the fact that mainstream Salafists traditionally have never articulated a political program.
If Salafists in significant numbers embrace democratic politics, it could undermine jihadists in the long run. Mainstream politics could serve as an alternative means of pursuing religious goals — one that is less costly than the path of violence and offers a stake in the political system. Furthermore, it provides for a socialization process that could foster norms whereby Salafists can become comfortable with political pluralism.
In the near term, however, Salafists participating in democratic politics can have a destabilizing effect in the region’s most influential Arab state, Saudi Arabia, at a time when popular demands for political reforms have swept the Arab world. Thus far, the kingdom has remained immune to the mass agitation that has overwhelmed almost every other Arab country. In addition to their petroleum wealth, the Saudis have relied on the Salafist religious establishment to prevent the eruption of public unrest.
The political debut of Egyptian Salafists could, however, encourage some among the Saudi Salafists to follow suit. Salafists in the Saudi kingdom could demand political reforms; in the 1990s, a significant current within Saudi Salafism did engage in such a campaign, albeit unsuccessfully. In the current climate, however, the outcome could differ.
While there is concern in the United States and Israel regarding the entry of Islamists into the political mainstream in the Middle East, Salafists embracing democratic politics could actually help counter violent extremism. In the short term, though, it could destabilize the Arab world’s powerhouse and the world’s leading exporter of crude.
POTB: A sense of humor seems to be MIA , , ,
Reply #168 on:
June 30, 2011, 08:09:18 PM »
A picture of Mickey Mouse with long beard and Minnie with a full-face veil posted on businessman Naguib Sawiris’ Twitter account has enraged Muslims and prompted 15 lawyers to file a lawsuit against him for blasphemy and insulting Islam.
The Christian Copt telecommunications mogul, who has emerged as a provocative voice in post-revolutionary Egypt, apologized on Twitter, saying that he meant the picture to be humorous, not an affront to the country's majority population of Muslims. "I apologize for those who don’t take this as a joke. I just thought it was a funny picture no disrespect meant! I’m sorry,” the magnate tweeted.
Nonetheless, Sawiris’ apology wasn’t enough to halt the fury and criticism from many Muslims, especially the ultraconservative Salafis, whose lawyers have already sued the billionaire. A Facebook group launched under the name “we are also joking, Sawiris” gathered no less than 90,000 members in recent days, calling for boycotting products or services sold by any of the businessman’s companies, especially the Mobinil mobile phone company.
"If you’re a real Muslim ... boycott his (Sawiris’) products if you love your religion. We have to cut the tongue of any person who attacks our religion,” the group writes. Several other Facebook groups under the same name or the moniker “we hate you Mickey Sawiris” also collected thousands of members angry at what the called “Sawiris’ mockery of and disrespect to Islam.”
The Internet campaign coincides with another offline effort by Islamic clerics, who have spoken to Egyptian and Arab media channels to denounce Sawiris’ act. “We can’t stay silent at any defaming campaigns towards religious symbols. Would Sawiris accept that a nun or a priest gets ridiculed?” Islamic preacher Safwat Hegazi asked in Al Quds al Arabi newspaper.
The flap follows recent attacks by radical Muslims against Christian institutions in Cairo, including the May burning of the Virgin Mary Church and ensuing clashes that left 12 people dead and 230 wounded in the poor neighborhood of Imbaba.
Shares of both Mobinil and Sawiris’ Orascom Telecom fell on the Egyptian stock exchange Monday. This is the second time Sawiris has indirectly provoked Salafis. The first clash came in 2007, when the businessman said that he was “not against veil, but when he walks in the streets of Egypt, he feels like a stranger" due to the growing number of veiled women.
Sawiris recently helped start the Free Egyptians political party, announcing that he would give up his role as Orascom’s executive chairman of the Orascom Telecom Holding Co. to focus on political and social work. The current row, however, might dent his party’s chances in the upcoming parliamentary elections, as Salafis and Islamic clerics have a notable influence on the votes of many Egyptians who base their perspectives according to religious convictions rather than political directions.
-- Amro Hassan in Cairo
Reply #169 on:
July 01, 2011, 12:56:02 AM »
A New Wave of Rage in Cairo
Clashes between anti-regime demonstrators and Egyptian security forces erupted again in Cairo’s Tahrir Square Tuesday night and continued through the following morning. Although exact numbers are unconfirmed, Reuters reported that more than 1,000 people were injured in the incident. A leading pro-democracy activist group is now calling on supporters to return to the square early Thursday morning with tents and reenact the sit-ins that took place in January and February. The military has not said how it will respond but it will likely find a way to effectively handle this resurgence of unrest, triggered in large part by political divisions within the Egyptian opposition.
For a few hours on June 28, the Egyptian capital resembled a much milder version of Cairo on Jan. 28, the original “Day of Rage” which saw protests that would eventually help lead to the toppling of former President Hosni Mubarak. Far fewer people were on the streets this time around — estimates ranged from several hundred to a few thousand — and no confirmed deaths. However, the clashes delivered a stark reminder that the political situation in Egypt is far from settled.
“All segments of the opposition know a great deal rides on what lies ahead. Whoever has a greater say in the constitutional process will largely set the course for the next phase in Egyptian politics.”
The immediate trigger for this case of unrest was a minor scuffle Tuesday night involving alleged “families of martyrs” and Egyptian police in a neighborhood on the west bank of the Nile. The turmoil quickly gathered momentum and culminated with a crowd of people coming together in Tahrir Square. They eventually clashed with Interior Ministry security forces in front of the ministry’s headquarters. This latest outbreak of dissent is attributed to a range of causes — unhappiness over the slow pace of reforms since Mubarak’s ouster, continued economic hardships, ongoing military trials of dissidents and many more complaints. The fundamental issue driving those calling for regime change in Egypt is the timing of the upcoming elections — namely, whether they should occur before or after the writing of the new constitution. All segments of the opposition know a great deal rides on what lies ahead. Whoever has a greater say in the constitutional process will largely set the course for the next phase in Egyptian politics.
The Egyptian military has been governing Egypt since February and is eager to hand over the day-to-day responsibilities of running the country so that it can return to its former role of ruling from behind the scenes. This is why the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has agreed to hold elections in September. Ironically enough, this timeline puts the interests of the military in line with those of their erstwhile enemies, Egypt’s Islamists — most notably, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). Such a brief elections timetable benefits the Islamists more than it helps those the SCAF has blamed for orchestrating the clashes last night in Tahrir Square. The Islamists are much more politically organized, and thus don’t need extra time to prepare.
The people chanting for the “downfall of the Field Marshall,” a reference to SCAF head Gen. Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, feel that the only way to pressure the military into acceding to their demands is to prove they retain the ability to summon large crowds back to Tahrir Square. Demonstrations had already been publicly planned for July 8, a day dubbed in activist circles as the “Second Day of Rage” (even though this should technically be the “Third Day of Rage,” since May 27 had already been named the second). However, in an effort to capitalize on the events of Tuesday and Wednesday, the leading pro-democracy activist group, the April 6 Movement, called for the sit-in to begin early, after dawn prayers on Thursday morning.
Whether anyone shows up and whether the military permits the establishment of another tent city in Tahrir Square will reveal how much support the political camp known collectively as the January 25 Movement really has on the Egyptian street. Despite the hype that surrounded the last round of demonstrations in February, only a few hundred thousand demonstrators ever came to Tahrir Square at one time — an impressive number, but not one that denotes widespread revolutionary fervor in a country of more than 80 million. The MB — and the other Islamist groups and parties — have made a calculated decision to abstain entirely from the planned demonstrations, feeling it would not benefit them to anger the SCAF when their interests are already aligned.
For the military, allowing the protests to occur could be a politically astute way of helping the January 25 Movement hurt its own image in the eyes of much of the Egyptian public. Most Egyptians want only a return to normalcy in a country that has seen its economy and internal security significantly degrade over the last five months. Alternately, the military may also simply decide that it is tired of dealing with demonstrations and order a crackdown. A SCAF statement issued Wednesday afternoon stated that “the blood of the martyrs of the revolution is being used to cause a rift between the people and the security institution,” an intimation that the clashes in Tahrir Square have been carefully orchestrated as a way to discredit the SCAF.
Stratfor: New Militant Opportunities
Reply #170 on:
August 20, 2011, 11:42:35 AM »
Egypt's Political Awakening Creates New Militant Opportuntiies
A series of coordinated attacks occurred Thursday along Israel’s border with Egypt. While each attack was relatively small, the incidents indicate some degree of coordination among the attackers. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak attributed the attacks to elements emanating from the Gaza Strip, while Israel Defense Forces (IDF) tactical reports stated that the attacks had been launched from across Israel’s border with Egypt along the Sinai peninsula. No one has yet claimed responsibility.
“Egypt’s rolling back of the police state and subsequent political reforms have made it difficult to maintain domestic security and keep militants under control. Indeed, militants are already taking advantage of the political opening.”
Israel has plenty of experience in dealing with threats from militants in Gaza. In response, Israel often conducts preemptive as well as retaliatory airstrikes using real-time intelligence. In addition, whenever things appear to be getting out of control, the IDF conducts a major ground offensive.
Attacks inside Israel have become a rare occurrence. Weakened capability and shifting strategic imperatives have caused Hamas and other militant groups to largely refrain from such attacks. Most attacks usually consist of the firing of rockets from Gaza, a practice Hamas has an interest in both limiting as well as calibrating to enhance its control over the Strip.
In light of recent unrest in the Arab world and the new political and security reality in Egypt, these latest attacks in Israel potentially represent a new kind of threat — one posed by transnational jihadists who have long wanted to undermine Egypt without operational success. It is quite possible that al Qaeda is trying to exploit the post-Mubarak political environment to mobilize its Sinai- and Gaza-based assets in order to create an Egyptian-Israeli crisis that can (potentially) undermine Cairo’s stability.
Egypt After Mubarak
Under the police state run by ousted President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt successfully kept political Islamists restrained, neutralizing the threat from jihadist groups. The unrest that broke out in the Arab world earlier this year has altered the domestic political reality in Egypt. Mubarak’s fall from power in the wake of popular agitation and the Egyptian military regime’s obligated engagement in political reforms have created a new environment — one in which autocratic measures have become largely obsolete.
Egypt’s rolling back of the police state and subsequent political reforms have made it difficult to maintain domestic security and keep militants under control. Indeed, militants are already taking advantage of the political opening. They have stepped up their operations, as evidenced by attacks against energy infrastructure and other targets in the Sinai Peninsula.
The new era of Egyptian multiparty politics has also allowed a variety of Islamist actors to emerge as legitimate political entities. At the same time, Egyptian national sentiment is emerging as a major factor in the foreign policymaking process. This change alone constitutes a threat to Israel’s national security, though it is a more of a long-term issue.
The rise of different types of Islamist actors (Muslim Brotherhood, Salafists and Sufists, among others) as legitimate political entities who pursue constitutional means to come to power makes it difficult for jihadists to directly threaten the stability of the Egyptian regime. With even Salafists and former jihadist groups such as Gamaah al-Islamiyah and Tandheem al-Jihad embracing the political mainstream, the jihadists will have a hard time gaining support for an armed insurrection against the Egyptian state. Realizing that they are not able to directly confront the Egyptian state (despite the Arab unrest), the jihadists are trying to indirectly undermine the regime by exploiting the Israeli-Gaza situation and the renewed militancy in the Sinai.
A New Threat To Israel?
Even before today’s attacks, the Israelis responded to increasing attacks in the Sinai by allowing Cairo to deploy an additional 1,000 troops to the peninsula. That concession indicated that Israel is likely skeptical of the Egyptian military’s ability to effectively deal with this problem, considering current political and security circumstances. Cairo is under a lot of stress domestically and regionally. Egypt is in the early stages of trying to manage political and militant opposition in a tense political climate and it is unable to maintain internal security as effectively as it once did.
Israel, therefore, will likely see today’s attacks as a new kind of threat. The Israeli leadership realizes that the problem is no longer strictly confined to Gaza but has now spread to Egypt itself. However, Israel doesn’t have any good way to control the situation unfolding within the borders of its Arab neighbor. That said, Israeli officials have already begun pointing fingers at the deteriorating security situation in Egypt, a response which likely going to cause tensions between Jerusalem and Cairo — exactly what the jihadists hope to achieve.
The latest video statement from al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, in which he speaks of an “intellectual” effort in addition to the armed one, is noteworthy. Al-Zawahiri’s comments are part of al Qaeda’s response to the so-called “Arab Spring” — a development in which the jihadists have largely been marginalized. Al-Zawahiri has long been frustrated by the fact that many former jihadists in Egypt (his home country) have renounced violence, attacking al Qaeda and him personally.
For decades, the al Qaeda leader has longed to be capable of undermining the Egyptian state, and now the Arab unrest provides an opportunity (albeit not without challenges of its own). Al-Zawahiri’s status as al Qaeda chief after the death of Osama bin Laden boosts the viability of this endeavor. In this new role, he is more or less free to steer the movement toward his preferred direction. His ascension to the top of the jihadist hierarchy also signals a rise of Egyptians (who have long held a disproportionate amount of influence) within the global jihadist network.
The result is that al Qaeda can be expected to focus heavily on the Egyptian-Gaza-Israeli fault line. This fixation will not only complicate matters for Israel and its efforts to deal with the Gaza Strip, it could also begin to unravel the Egyptian-Israeli relationship that has existed since the signing of the 1978 Camp David Peace Accords.
Endgame for Egypt?
Reply #171 on:
September 13, 2011, 12:37:42 PM »
Endgame for Egypt
September 13, 2011 - 3:21 pm - by David P. Goldman
Robert Musil’s Der Mann Ohne Eigenschaften (“The Man Without Qualities”), one of the great novels of the past century, is a portrait of the Austrian early in 1914. The readers know that their silly world will come to a terrible end a few months later with the outbreak of war, but the protagonists do not. Musil published a first volume and spent the rest of his life trying to write a second, without success, for it is the sort of story that has no end except for the abyss.
Arab politics today has a Musil-like quality of unreality, for the conclusion will be the collapse of the Egyptian state. The misnamed “Arab Spring,” really a convulsion of a dying society, began with food shortages. Egypt imports half its caloric consumption, 45% of its people are illiterate, its university graduates are unemployable, its $10 billion a year tourism industry is shuttered for the duration, and its foreign exchange reserves are gradually disappearing. In August, the central bank’s reported reserves fell below what the bank calls the “danger level” of six months’ import coverage, or $25 billion, from $36 billion in February, although I suspect that even this number is bloated by $5 to $10 billion of Algerian and Saudi loans and trade credits. Despite reports in the press that food price inflation in Egypt has slowed, Arab-language Egyptian media report that the price of some staples, like rice and sugar, have risen by 50% or more since March. The military government is distributing bread and propane (the main cooking fuel).
Egypt turned down a proposed loan from the International Monetary Fund earlier this year because the military government could not accept the conditionality attached to IMF money. The Gulf States and the West may keep Egypt on life support, which would leave a large proportion of Egyptians in a limbo of extreme destitution. The fiscal collapse of Southern Europe (and sever problems elsewhere) makes this an inopportune time to come to the West with a begging bowl. As for the Gulf States: they are not even meeting their commitments to the Palestine Authority, and can’t be expected to carry a $15 to $20 billion annual financing requirement for Egypt.
It does not compute. Western economists can concoct all the economic recovery plans in the world, but a country that can’t teach half its people to read, and can’t produce employable university graduates, and can’t feed itself, is going to go down the drain. Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak kept Egypt under control by keeping most of its people poor, ignorant, and on the farm, and by warehousing its youth in state-run diploma mills. After sixty years of such abuse, Egypt simply can’t get there from here.
The result, I predict, will be a humanitarian catastrophe that makes Somalia look like a picnic. It’s not surprising that the Egyptian mob might attack the Israeli embassy. The Egyptian street has nothing to do but rise up against perceived oppressors, because nothing good awaits them; and the desperation that will follow the collapse of the Arab “Spring” threatens every Middle Eastern regime, such that the rulers have to try to get out in front of the rage. But what will they actually do? The Egyptian military is hanging onto power by its fingernails. If it attacks Israel, it will lose, and generals will be hanged from lamp posts. The Syrian military is too busy killing protesters to attack Israel, or to assist Hezbollah in a confrontation with Israel.
What we are likely to witness during the next two years will be repellent, even horrifying–but not necessarily dangerous.
Reply #172 on:
September 13, 2011, 05:06:49 PM »
That is a piece worthy of considerable reflection , , ,
Stratfor: Increasing tensions between MB and SCAF
Reply #173 on:
September 17, 2011, 09:42:31 AM »
The Egyptian public is growing more distrustful of Egypt’s military leadership, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). This has led the country’s largest Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), to become more vocal about its grievances, particularly regarding elections, the writing of the constitution and the SCAF’s relationship with Israel. The MB is a historically cautious group, but it currently faces an unprecedented opportunity to increase its political power — an opportunity that the MB fears may soon be closing in light of the SCAF’s recent moves. The SCAF will likely accept the MB’s new stance for now, as too harsh a response could unite the disparate elements of the Egyptian public against the military.
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has begun assuming a far more confrontational demeanor toward the country’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), a shift away from the conciliatory stance the MB had previously taken. Several grievances against the SCAF are contributing to the MB’s shift. The MB fears that the military council will again delay parliamentary elections — currently expected to take place in November. The group also opposes the SCAF’s recent reinforcement of laws designed to limit dissent and the military’s plans to affect the formation of Egypt’s next constitution. Internally, MB leadership also is under rising pressure from its followers to speak out against the SCAF’s relationship with Israel.
Since the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak, the MB has been careful to avoid antagonizing the SCAF. The events of the past month appear to have changed that. The turnout for a protest in Alexandria on Sept. 16, after calls for the protest by certain MB members, will say a lot about how the situation has evolved. The changing dynamic between the SCAF and Egypt’s largest Islamist group will place larger pressures on the military, which is seeking to preserve the regime, but also will create additional risks for the MB, an organization that has operated with extreme caution for much of the past several decades.
Egyptian Anti-Israeli Sentiment
In the past month, anti-Israeli sentiment has been rising in Egypt among nearly all segments of society. This theme has moved to the forefront of many demonstrations for the first time since the uprising against Mubarak. The initial trigger was the Israeli response to the Aug. 18 Eilat attacks that emanated from the Sinai Desert: an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) strike that left six members of the Egyptian security forces dead. The SCAF expressed anger over the incident, but for strategic reasons, Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel trumped popular demands for a more severe reaction. The SCAF did not even go so far as recalling its ambassador. This created bad publicity for the SCAF at home.
The anti-Israeli sentiments that continued after the fallout from Eilat directly led to the Sept. 9 storming of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo. Who exactly organized the diversion of protests to the embassy from Tahrir Square remains unknown. The MB had officially boycotted the Sept. 9 Tahrir protests, but STRATFOR sources in Egypt claim that the MB was prominent in the gathering outside the embassy. What is clear is that the military allowed the protests outside the embassy to build to a near crisis situation before it dispatched commandos to rescue the remaining Israeli staff.
Israel thanked Egypt for its help on the issue, but the reports that SCAF leader Mohamed Hussein Tantawi had failed to talk with the Israelis during the affair — and even forced U.S. officials to wait for hours before answering their phone calls — show that the SCAF is not simply going to side with these two allies over its own citizenry without pause. Nonetheless, Egyptians perceived the military as having rushed to save the Israelis, while not valuing the lives of the Egyptians killed by the IDF strike in August. The MB issued a statement after the storming of the embassy that called the actions of the protesters justified and cited what it called an insufficient Egyptian response to the IDF strikes following the Eilat attacks, putting the group in opposition to the SCAF on two significant issues.
The SCAF viewed the actions of Sept. 9 differently than it had previous protests and sit-ins, as shown by its Sept. 10 announcement that it was reinforcing the emergency laws that predate its assumption of power. Virtually all Egyptians are united in their opposition to the Mubarak-era emergency laws, which grant the military the legal authority to detain protesters without cause and try them in military courts. The MB has only recently begun to address the issue with a greater sense of urgency. Essam el-Erian, deputy chairman of the MB-affiliated Freedom and Justice Party, has said that the MB would “not allow” parliamentary elections to be held so long as the emergency laws were still in place.
The timing of elections is another issue that has greatly contributed to the change in the MB’s posture toward the SCAF. Elections were supposed to be held in September, but the military pushed them back when it released its list of electoral laws July 20 (no exact date was established, but they were expected for November). Now there is a rising sentiment that the SCAF will again push elections back, and the MB is under pressure to vocally oppose such a move.
The Egyptian government previously pledged to open nominations for parliamentary elections on Sept. 27. A leading Alexandria-based MB member, Hasan ElBrence, said Sept. 13 that if the SCAF turns back on this pledge, the MB will protest. Speaking at a popular rally in Egypt’s second largest city, ElBrence reportedly said of his group, “We were raised on the idea of martyrdom, and we are more than happy to offer new martyrs and begin new protests and strikes in Tahrir Square if the will of the people is denied.” (It should be noted that ElBrence’s reference to “martyrdom” is not a threat to adopt jihadist tactics; rather, he is saying the MB is prepared to risk a potentially brutal SCAF crackdown when it takes to the streets.) Hussein Ibrahim, the secretary general of the Alexandria wing of the Freedom and Justice Party, said Sept. 13 that the interim government is trying to foment a counterrevolution. Ibrahim’s is just the type of charge the MB would have avoided making in the first few months following Mubarak’s ouster.
Then there is the long-running debate over the military’s plans to implement a set of “supra-constitutional principles” during the writing of Egypt’s next constitution. The MB has opposed this from the outset and has openly criticized the SCAF for the plan. The SCAF has never admitted the objective of the supra-constitutional principles, which would be to prevent a freshly elected parliament — potentially composed largely of Islamists — from overly influencing the nature of the new constitution. This debate has now taken on a new twist. Allegations have been made that the SCAF intends to appoint the 100-person committee responsible for writing the constitution, rather than allowing the eventual parliament to select members from its ranks. This would decrease the utility of the supra-constitutional principles, since in theory the people charged with drafting the new document would be under the influence of the SCAF.
The MB is internally divided on how to proceed. The group’s history as Egypt’s “loyal opposition” has made it exceedingly cautious in nature, but it currently faces an unprecedented opportunity to increase its political power. Now, the MB increasingly sees that opportunity closing in light of the SCAF’s recent moves. The MB has thus begun to make a gamble, increasing its public opposition to the SCAF while hoping that the military’s reaction is not so severe as to wipe out any potential gains for the MB.
The SCAF has not indicated its intent regarding elections, but its strategic relationship with Israel is extremely unlikely to change, as is its desire to influence the writing of the constitution and the enforcement of the emergency laws (even if it nominally abandons them at some point). The SCAF has shown that while it will tolerate a certain amount of dissent, it is willing to adopt harsher tactics in the face of open opposition. The SCAF’s overall strategy thus far, however, has been to play different groups off one another. Adopting too harsh a tone now would risk uniting the opposition, which is exactly what the SCAF will seek to avoid.
Read more: In Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood Confronts Military Leadership | STRATFOR
SCAF stalling on elections?
Reply #174 on:
October 01, 2011, 02:07:31 AM »
Middle East analyst Bayless Parsley examines the decision to hold Egypt’s first elections since the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak.
Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
Egypt’s ruling military council finally announced a list of dates on Tuesday for the country’s upcoming parliamentary elections. The announcement came as a slight relief to the large number of Egyptians who have been expressing growing concerns that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) was on the verge of delaying the elections yet again. But popular sentiment against military rule in Egypt is still on the rise. Though we are now one step closer to the first elections of the post-Mubarak era, it does not change one fundamental fact: the Egyptian regime is doing what it can to hold onto power, despite publicly championing a looming transition to democratic rule.
Tuesday’s constitutional declaration put to bed growing fears amongst a wide swathe of the Egyptian opposition that the ruling military council was on the verge of delaying yet again setting exact dates for when the elections will be held. The same group of generals that came into power in Feb. with promises to relinquish control to a civilian government within six months are still running the show, and even the Muslim Brotherhood – which for a long time had avoided publicly criticizing the military – has begun to display that it, too, is tiring of SCAF rule. STRATFOR has long said that the military council does in fact want to hold elections, but that it would take its time to ensure that it doesn’t lose control of the process.
The parliamentary polls will be divided into elections for the lower house and the upper house, which is known as the Shura Council. There will be six stages in total, three for each, and the whole process will run from Nov. 28 until March 11, 2012. And though the format of the elections has not yet been finalized, it is looking like the military is going to mandate that roughly 70 percent of the seats be reserved for a list-based system, which is akin to voting for a party ticket, and the rest be reserved for an individual candidate system. Everyone in the Egyptian opposition – from the Muslim Brotherhood to other Islamists to the secular parties – is opposed to anything but a purely list-based system because they feel that allowing individual candidates to run will simply give an advantage to the wealthy former members of the Mubarak National Democratic Party (NDP) regime. But this may be exactly what the military council wants to ensure.
By now, most Egyptians who took joy in the ouster of Hosni Mubarak have woken up to the fact that there really was not such a fundamental change in the country as may have appeared during the height of the Arab Spring. Accusations from Islamists and secularists alike that the military is trying to “hijack the revolution” have become commonplace, while state security has arguably become more intrusive in the Egyptian society, rather than less so. The ongoing criminal trials for Mubarak, his sons, and other high-ranking former NDP officials, meanwhile, are largely going nowhere, and it is the military council that ensures this, as well.
The issue of setting dates for the elections– and the antipathy that it generated towards military rule- was something that brought a bit of unity to a highly fractured opposition. Providing a degree of certitude that the vote will soon take place was a way for the military to ensure that such unity does not grow too strong. This is the game the SCAF feels it must play to maintain the balance in a country over which it wants to maintain control.
GM called it
Reply #175 on:
October 09, 2011, 06:56:56 PM »
SPECIAL INTELLIGENCE REPORT: VIOLENCE IN CAIRO
Violence has broken out in Cairo, beginning today at about 8 p.m. Demonstrators
outside the state television station began firing on soldiers patrolling the area,
according to reports from government sources. Two soldiers were reported dead and 25
soldiers were reported wounded so far. Other reliable reports say that multiple
vehicle fires have broken out and that tear gas is being fired by the police at the
crowd. Demonstrations are also under way at Tahrir Square.
Given elections scheduled for November, and the apparent magnitude of the violence,
it would appear that this event is highly significant. We expect details and
analysis to evolve as the events unfold.
It will seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first.
"Arab Spring" not working out as planned
Reply #176 on:
October 10, 2011, 10:25:07 AM »
Especially if you're a Copt.
3 Soldiers killed
Reply #177 on:
October 11, 2011, 12:02:36 AM »
October 10, 2011
VIDEO: DISPATCH: A NEW PHASE IN POST-MUBARAK EGYPT
Analyst Bayless Parsley examines the reported death of three Egyptian soldiers
during the Oct. 9 riots and discusses how the deaths mark a new phase in
Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology.
Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
The official death toll from yesterday's protest in Cairo has risen to 24, with 272
reported injured. Of the 24 reported killed outside of Egypt's state TV and radio
building, three were allegedly Egyptian soldiers. This would be the first time that
protesters outside of the Sinai have used firearms against the Egyptian military and
marks a new phase in post-Mubarak Egypt.
Oct. 9 was the most violent day in Egypt since the fall of Mubarak and many
Egyptians are now calling it "Black Sunday." What began as a Coptic protest march
from northern Cairo to the state TV building known as Maspero, devolved into a melee
that led to the deaths of over 20 people. Multiple military vehicles were set on
fire, military issue armored personnel carriers were driven through crowds of people
at high speeds and at some point someone from within the crowd fired upon a group of
soldiers who were providing security outside of Maspero. This would be the first
time that any protester in Egypt has used a firearm against an Egyptian soldier
since the demonstrations began in January, and if true, marks a dramatic shift in
The protest was organized by a handful of Coptic activist groups who have organized
demonstrations outside of Maspero in the past. Shortly after the violence broke out,
state media blamed the Copts explicitly. Some of these guys even exhorted people to
go out on the streets and protect the army from the Copts. In a country that has
seen sectarian tensions between Copts and certain portions of the majority Muslim
population, it came as no surprise that within a short time, mobs of Muslim men
began to arrive at Maspero carrying torches and sticks. STRATFOR sources on the
ground in Cairo reported witnessing Copts being beaten by civilians expressing
solidarity with the military. While this was happening, anti-military crowds were
converging at nearby Tahrir Square, protesting against the violence used by the
soldiers at Maspero. The two groups later clashed in the square, though no deaths
The violence on Sunday was an extremely polarizing event in Egypt. Until now,
violence against the military has been taboo, while the military has avoided using
this much force against the demonstrators as well. The deaths have brought to the
forefront a growing chasm in Egypt between two overarching camps: those who espouse
unity with military and those who openly advocate for the end of military rule. The
government and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces itself have both issued
official statements wishing to calm people's emotions and blame a foreign hand for
instigating the violence. Neither have openly blamed Coptic demonstrators as state
media did in the immediate aftermath of the violence breaking out on Sunday, but
this will not convince either side to moderate their positions in the near future.
As the sectarian issue grows in stature, so too will the chasm between the two
camps, divided over what the role of the military should be, as security conditions
deteriorate in Egypt. The questions now are whether the military will use what
happened on Oct. 9 to justify an increased crackdown on dissidents and how the
events will affect the image of the military in the eyes of Egyptians who normally
stay away from politics.
More Videos -
Egypt Destroying Churches, One at a Time
Reply #178 on:
October 11, 2011, 08:10:32 AM »
**Good thing islam is so peaceful and tolerant, otherwise the Copts would be in real trouble.
Egypt Destroying Churches, One at a Time
Muslim Brotherhood: "No More Churches"
by Raymond Ibrahim
October 10, 2011 at 5:00 am
What clearer sign that Egypt is turning rabidly Islamist than the fact that hardly a week goes by without a church being destroyed, or without protesting Christians being attacked and slaughtered by the military?
The latest chaos in Egypt—where the military opened fire on unarmed protesters, and ran armored vehicles over them— killing 35 and injuring over 300, with the count still rising --originated in Edfu, a onetime tourist destination renowned for its pharaonic antiquities, but now known as the latest region to see a church destroyed by a Muslim mob.
This destruction, which spurred the unrest in Egypt, is itself eye-opening as to the situation in Egypt. To sum it up, St. George Coptic church, built nearly a century ago, was so dilapidated that the local council and governor of Aswan approved renovating it, and signed off on the design.
It was not long before local Muslims began complaining and making various demands, including that the church be devoid of crosses and bells—even though the permit had approved them—citing that "the Cross irritates Muslims and their children."
Coptic leaders had no choice but to acquiesce, "pointing to the fact that the church was rebuilt legally, and any concessions on the part of the church was done for the love for the country, which is passing through a difficult phase."
Acquiescence breeds more demands: Muslim leaders next insisted that the very dome of the church be removed—so that the building might not even resemble a church—and that it be referred to as a "hospitality home." Stating that removing the dome would. Most likely collapse the church, the bishop refused.
The cries of "Allahu Akbar!" began: Muslims threatened to raze the church and build a mosque in its place; Copts were "forbidden to leave their homes or buy food until they remove the dome of St. George's Church;" many starved for weeks.
Then, after Friday prayers on Sept. 30, some three thousand Muslims rampaged through the church, torched it, and demolished the dome; flames from the wreckage burned nearby Coptic homes, which were further ransacked by rioting Muslims.
This account of anti-church sentiment in Egypt leads to several sad conclusions:
Animosity toward churches; demands that they be left to crumble; demands to remove crosses and stifle bells; are an integral part of Islamic history and dogma. The fact that church attacks in Egypt always occur on a Friday, Islam's "holy day," and are always accompanied by religious cries of "Allahu Akbar!" should be evidence enough of the Islamist context of these attacks.
Because there was a lull in this animosity from the colonial era to just a few decades ago, most Westerners incorrectly assume that in Islamic history church toleration is the rule, not the exception. Unfortunately Islamic tolerance toward churches has more frequently been draconian, and is back: "The Muslim Brotherhood announced immediately after the revolution that it is impossible to build any new church in Egypt, and churches which are demolished should never be rebuilt, as well as no crosses over churches or bells to be rung."
This is also why Muslim authorities are complacent, and even complicit. According to witnesses, security forces, which were present during the Edfu attack, "stood there watching." Worse, Edfu's Intelligence Unit chief was seen directing the mob destroying the church.
As for the governor of Aswan, he appeared on State TV and "denied any church being torched," calling it, instead, a "guest home" -- a common tactic to excuse the destruction of churches. He even justified the incident: Arguing that the church contractor made the building three meters higher than he permitted, he declared that "Copts made a mistake and had to be punished, and Muslims did nothing but set things right, end of story."
Equally telling is the fact that perpetrators of church attacks are seldom if ever punished. Even if sometimes the most rabid church-destroying Muslims get "detained," it is usually for show: they are released in days, and hailed back home as heroes -- a practise that also goes back to Muslim dogma, which sides with Muslims over infidels.
This year alone has seen the New Year church attack, which left 23 dead; the destruction of the ancient church of Sool, when Muslims "played soccer" with its relics; the Imbaba attacks, where several churches were set aflame; and now Edfu, wherein, as usual "none of the attackers were arrested."
Indeed, three days after Edfu, Muslims attacked yet another church.
Aware that they are untouchable, at least when it comes to making infidel Christians miserable, anti-Christian Muslims have a simple strategy: destroy churches, even if one at a time, safe in the knowledge that not only will they never be prosecuted, but also that Egypt's military and security apparatus will punish the infidel victims should they dare to protest.
Raymond Ibrahim, a widely published Islam-specialist, is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
Reply #179 on:
October 12, 2011, 11:56:24 AM »
Egypt: Verifying Facts in a Crisis Event
The violence at the Maspero building in Egypt on Sunday was what STRATFOR refers to internally as a crisis event. Whenever a crisis event breaks out, the first task for any STRATFOR analyst is to rapidly wade through a sea of confusing media reports in an effort to separate fact from fiction. This is a difficult task given the nature of initial media reports — written under pressure, often with limited information — that are often the first source of information in such a situation. As the hours pass, the actuality of the event sometimes becomes more clear and sometimes, less so. In the case of the Maspero protest, it is hard to determine which one was the case.
STRATFOR gets its information from a variety of places. Human intelligence from sources on the ground in locations all over the world is a prime resource. But so is open-source intelligence, or published material. There is a multitude of readily available outlets for open-source intelligence, including online newspapers, 24-hour cable news channels and social media services. Translation services of foreign language media — once the domain of government intelligence agencies — are now also largely open to the public. The quantity of raw information provided by open-source intelligence is substantial, but the quality is not always superior to what can be gained from human intelligence.
“The key is to find the actual source of the information rather than relying on what someone else reports about a report.”
In this instance, a STRATFOR analyst was in Cairo at the time of the protest; in fact, STRATFOR was alerted to the event by this analyst. Open-source reports were checked against the analyst’s direct knowledge of events. The analyst’s observations and interactions with multiple sources were key factors in shaping our coverage of the violence.
A debate is under way in Egypt regarding the conduct of its state media outlets on Sunday. This controversy underlines the obvious problems with relying on state media reports to discover what has actually happened in a crisis event. Immediately after violence erupted at Maspero, some state TV channels explicitly blamed Coptic demonstrators for the reports of gunfire directed at the Egyptian troops who were providing security at the building. The reports of three dead Egyptian soldiers also originated from state media. Some state TV anchors then exhorted Egyptian citizens to take to the streets and protect the army from the Copts, further inflaming the situation.
This behavior generated criticism that state media was seeking to instigate sectarian strife between Egyptians, which would then be used to justify a security crackdown by the military. Egyptians who want the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to relinquish power immediately to a civilian government have expressed their views primarily through social media, especially Twitter. These media platforms are tailor-made for short dispatches from street protests and are suited to those with access to the technology they require. These views have been subsequently transmitted by privately owned Egyptian media, as well as mainstream media outlets based in other countries.
The most explosive claim to come out of the Sunday protests is that people in the crowd (whether Copts or not) used firearms against Egyptian soldiers, killing three of them. These claims have brought post-Mubarak Egypt into a new phase; such violence against the military has been taboo up until this point. The Egyptian government, unlike state media, did not directly blame the Copts. Nor did the SCAF. Official statements issued by both entities on Sunday and Monday sought to soothe sectarian tensions and emphasized that the identities of the alleged shooters remained unknown. These comments have not calmed the anti-SCAF camp, however. Many of these people do not believe any Egyptian soldiers were even killed, citing as evidence the fact that their identities have not yet been released. Others claim that the alleged shooters were saboteurs who infiltrated the crowds to paint the Copts in a negative light or to generate an SCAF crackdown necessitated by the need to prevent sectarian tensions from rising any higher.
Just as state media can be an untrustworthy source at times, so can claims spread on social media by the anti-SCAF segment of Egyptian society. Take, for example, a report posted on Twitter on Monday, which claimed that state-owned Nile TV had retracted its claim that soldiers had been killed during the Maspero protest. All that appeared on Twitter were the words, “Nile TV has announced that there were no soldiers killed in Maspero yesterday, and blamed the announcer being distraught.” There was no link provided to the original broadcast, no transcript and no context, but within minutes it had gone viral.
Clearly this would have been an extremely significant development, and only after closer inspection did STRATFOR clear up what had actually happened. A journalist not affiliated with Nile TV was in the studio and stated on-air that there was no evidence of Coptic involvement in the soldiers’ deaths. He also criticized state media for the way it reported on the Maspero violence. The Nile TV anchor refuted this criticism and the station maintained it had done nothing wrong in its coverage. There was no retraction; state media stood by its story.
This case clearly reflects the flaws of Twitter and the lightning speed of information in the age of social media. Stories spread almost without delay, which is helpful when one needs to gain immediate knowledge about events happening on the other side of the globe. Unfortunately, some of those stories are either misrepresentations of actual events or deliberate disinformation that winds up going viral. The key is to find the actual source of the information rather than relying on what someone else reports about a report. To avoid spreading disinformation, STRATFOR always attempts to confirm from the original source.
There is no perfect source of information. Reality is hard to discern, and it is always subject to debate. The only way to find it is to look around every corner.
Reply #180 on:
October 13, 2011, 12:50:59 PM »
HAVE YOU EVER seen a pogrom? Sarah Carr has.
"The Coptic Hospital tried its best to deal with the sudden influx of casualties," wrote Carr, a Cairo-based journalist and blogger, in her firsthand account of Sunday's deadly attack on Christian protesters by the Egyptian military. "Its floors were sticky with blood and there was barely room to move among the wounded."
In one room of the hospital morgue Carr counted the bodies of 12 people, some of whom had been killed when soldiers in armored personnel vehicles charged the crowd, firing and random and crushing the protesters they ran over. One of the victims was "a man whose face was contorted into an impossible expression. A priest . . . showed me the remains of the man's skull and parts of his brain. He too had been crushed."
What happened in Egypt on Sunday was a massacre. Government security forces assaulted Coptic Christians as they marched peacefully to the headquarters of the state TV network. They were protesting the recent burning of St. George's, a Coptic church in the Upper Egypt village of El-Marinab. Yet broadcasters loyal to the ruling military junta exhorted "honorable Egyptians" to help the army put down the protests. "Soon afterward, bands of young men armed with sticks, rocks, swords, and firebombs began to roam central Cairo, attacking Christians," the Associated Press reported. "Troops and riot police did not intervene." Video of the violence was quickly uploaded to the Internet. So were even more graphic images of the murdered protesters.
Back during the Tahrir Square demonstrations against strongman Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian military was widely praised for not using force to crush the protests and keep Mubarak in power. Then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates, for example, declared that Egypt's military had "conducted itself in exemplary fashion" and "made a contribution to the evolution of democracy." Popular, too, was the notion that the uprising could catalyze a new era of interfaith solidarity. "Egypt's religious tensions have been set aside," reported the BBC in February, "as the country's Muslims and Christians join forces at anti-government protests."
But the "spirit of Tahrir Square" has ushered in neither liberal democracy nor a rebirth of tolerance for Egypt's ancient but beleaguered Christian minority.
One of the country's leading liberal reformers, Ayman Nour, said Monday that with the latest bloodshed, the military has lost whatever goodwill it accrued last spring. It's hard to believe that the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces cares. In the eight months since Mubarak's ouster, the military has tried and convicted some 12,000 Egyptian civilians in military tribunals, often after using torture to extract confessions. The country's hated emergency laws, which allow suspects to be detained without charge, not only remain in force, but have been expanded to cover offenses as vague as "spreading rumors" or "blocking traffic." And just as Mubarak did, the generals insist that government repression is all that stands between Egypt and social chaos.
As for Egypt's Coptic Christians, their plight has gone from bad to worse. Post-Mubarak Egypt has seen "an explosion of violence against the Coptic Christian community," the international news channel France24 was reporting as far back as May. "Anger has flared up into deadly riots, and houses, shops, and churches have been set ablaze."
With Islamist hardliners growing increasingly influential, hate crimes against Christians routinely go unpunished. Copts, who represent a tenth of Egypt's population, are subjected to appalling humiliations. The mob that destroyed St. George's had first demanded that the church be stripped of its crosses and bells; after the Christians yielded to that demand, local Muslims insisted that the church dome be removed as well. For several weeks, Copts in El-Marinab were literally besieged, forbidden to leave their homes or buy food unless they agreed to mutilate their nearly century-old house of worship. On September 30, Muslim thugs set fire to the church and demolished its dome, pillars, and walls. For good measure, they also burned a Coptic-owned shop and four homes.
Many Copts are choosing to leave Egypt, rather than live under this intensifying anti-Christian persecution. The Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organizations calculated last month that more than 90,000 Christians have fled the country since March 2011. At that rate, estimated human-rights advocate Naguib Gabriel, one-third of Egypt's Coptic population will have vanished within a decade.
Or maybe sooner -- maybe much sooner -- if Sunday's anti-Christian pogrom is a sign of things to come.
Corruption and Islamism in Egypt
Reply #181 on:
December 03, 2011, 01:48:53 PM »
Corruption and Islamism in Egypt
December 2, 2011 - 11:37 am - by David P. Goldman
Egypt under Mubarak was a tightly-controlled kleptocracy, and Egypt since Mubarak has been an uncontrolled kleptocracy, in which public officials steal whatever isn’t tied down. Shiploads of rice, diesel fuel, and other tradables are leaving Egyptian ports for hard-currency markets, while the country–which imports half its caloric consumption–runs out of money. Mubarak’s elite has helicopters revving on their roofs. It’s no surprise Islamists swept this week’s parliamentary elections. Whom do we expect Egyptians to vote for?
A new book by an economics reporter at Egypt’s al-Wafd party’s newspaper alleges massive corruption at the country’s central bank. Reviewed in al-Wafd newspaper today, the book by Mohamed Adel Ajmi claims that central bank chief Farouk Abd El Baky El Okdah exercises one man rule over the country’s banking system through cronies in all the central bank’s major departments. The central bank’s reserves, Ajmi claims, are unaudited and subject to the personal control of the central bank governor, who abused his position to enrich political allies of deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
Theft on the grand scale from central banks is nothing new in the Muslim world. Last September, “Mahmoud Bahmani, the head of Iran’s Central Bank, denied rumours that $2-billion has already been transferred out of the country as part of a $3-billion embezzlement,” for example. The al-Wafd report has some credibility, considering that the Egyptian military dismissed all the central bank’s outside directors in October, leaving no-one but political appointees.
The central bank has financed perhaps $7 billion of flight capital out of its reserves, according to Raza Agha of Royal Bank of Scotland, as the Financial Times reported Nov. 4. Egypt’s spendable liquid reserves are well below the $22 billion figure mentioned in most news accounts–probably $13 billion, according to Agha, or less than three months’ import coverage.
The old Mubarak elite is getting out, and the generals are preparing for retirement on yachts in Monte Carlo and townhouses in Chelsea. Stripped of a thin Western veneer, what remains of Egypt is one of the world’s most backward societies, despite the veneer of sophistication that beguiled reporters who parachuted into Cairo for the Tahrir Square theatrics in February. Nearly a third of Egyptians marry cousins (because they count on their clan to protect them). And 45% are illiterate, while 90% of adult women suffered genital mutilation.
What ordinary Egyptians see is that they barely can fill their stomachs on the 5-piaster (less than 1 cent) pita loaves subsidized by the government. They are looking for someone to blame, and there is plenty of blame to go around: the new book from al-Wafd on Egypt’s central bank puts a narrative in place to explain the impending collapse of the Egyptian currency and the food shortages that will come with it. In fact, the surge in corruption is an effect rather than a cause of Egypt’s financial collapse. Once Asian demand pushed grain prices to a permanently higher plateau, the old regime was finished. And once the instability killed Egypt’s tourism, financial collapse became a matter of “when” rather than “if.” Rather than stay and try to get richer, the kleptocrats are salvaging what they can and getting out.
Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak left Egypt without a single untainted institution. As in Iran in 1979, the Westernized elite, who speak foreign languages and keep bank accounts abroad, will decamp for the fleshpots of London. The Islamists are left by default.
The difference between Egypt and a banana republic is the bananas: the collapse of Latin American currencies during the 1980s never led to starvation, because it occurred in countries that exported food. The difference between Egypt and Iran is oil. An Islamist Egypt will resemble not Iran, but Somalia.
What should America’s response be? Cut our losses. It would be an obscenity to provide military (or any other aid) to an Islamist government. Nothing to see here, folks. Keep moving. Non ragioniam da lor, ma guarda e pasa.
George Friedman on the Egyptian elections
Reply #182 on:
December 09, 2011, 10:37:21 AM »
Official figures show that the Islamist bloc has won about 60 percent of the vote in the first stage of Egypt’s complex election process. But Stratfor CEO George Friedman does not think the military will give up power easily.
• Egypt and the Idealist-Realist Debate in U.S. Foreign Policy
Colin: In the first stage of Egypt’s complex electoral system we now have the reality that the Islamist bloc has the running, winning about 60 percent of the vote. Of course, there are two main parties — and different factions within this bloc — but Egypt’s military rulers have already signaled they don’t think the next parliament will be representative enough to oversee the drawing up of a new constitution.
Welcome to Agenda with George Friedman. George, an interesting outcome.
George: The most interesting thing that came out of this election is the fact that the Western media’s candidate for power in Egypt really lost, which were the secular democrats. So think of Egypt right now as having three blocs — the Nasserites, who are secular and military and who run the government; the Islamists, who are divided into various factions and hardly united; and the secular democrats, or those who wanted a European-style constitutional democracy who have really lost.
So the Arab Spring, as we call it, really has changed. The Arab Spring has changed from the idea that what we’re seeing now is the emergence of Western-style democracies to the idea that out of the democratic process is going to either come a more Islamist government or the continuation of the military government.
Colin: Yes, well, STRATFOR has always been doubtful about the so-called Arab Spring, but this is not an outcome sought by the street protesters nor is it what the U.S. wanted. But both must now have to live with it, haven’t they?
George: Well in the first place, the street protesters did not represent all of Egypt. They were a few hundred thousand. It was a very large crowd and they represented some elements of Egypt, but Egypt is a huge country of 80 million and there was no way that that crowd represented them. So the idea that that crowd spoke for Egypt, as was frequently said, was fairly preposterous.
I think the issue now really is whether the democratic process will continue — which I think it will — and what it will yield, which I think will be a very complex mixed Islamist government. And second, whether that government will be allowed to rule Egypt or whether the military will continue its historic role since 1952 of being the dominant modernizing and controlling force in Egypt. Right now I am still betting very much on the military holding power. They will yield in terms of democratic form but whether they are ever going to concede the ministries — or whether they are going to concede them easily — is really, in my mind, questionable.
Colin: But presumably the military will have to make some moves to adapt to the new reality and make some concessions?
George: Well they have made a huge concession — they held an election. The idea that they are going to go so far as to actually give those elected power is, I think, a rather dubious assumption. So what they did was allow political parties and they allowed the political parties to be elected. They may allow some degree of power to the emergent government. But that’s quite a ways down the road there, several elections will be held before that takes place.
But you have to remember that the military in Egypt does not see itself as illegitimate, it doesn’t see itself as Pinochet was viewed in Chile or as military dictatorships were viewed in Argentina. It was the military that staged the revolution against the monarchy that was subservient to the British. It was the military that saved Egypt from imperialism, that’s the way they look at it. It was the military that created some of the modern institutions. And many people, not just in the military but in Egypt, look to the military as guaranteeing both the secular nature of the country and its stability because there is a long history — more than a 50-year history — of that being the case.
So I think the Western tendency to look at a military government as inherently illegitimate really fails to understand Egyptian history. But at the same time history moves on but not easily, not cleanly and usually not peacefully.
Colin: Egypt has had the benefit of large swathes of U.S. aid, $2 billion a year since 1979, and much of it military aid I think. Will this continue?
George: That, of course, is a major question and we have to remember that the origin of that aid — Anwar Sadat, who had been the heir of Nasser’s pro-Soviet regime — was prepared both to break with the Soviet Union by denying them bases in Alexandria and air bases in the Nile Delta and to make peace with Israel. The United States was willing to pay for both of those, but particularly willing to pay for the expulsion of the Soviet Union from Egypt. That’s what we have been paying it for.
One thing we get from that is a high degree of control of the Egyptian military, in a sense that a good part of the military is funded by the United States and a good part of the military is maintained by American technicians. One of the things that everyobody is concerned about is the Islamists becoming aggressive militarily. It’s very hard to do that if the United States doesn’t want them to do that, so long as the United States is doing the funding and so long as the military is being supported by American technicians and contractors.
The bottom line is that U.S. military aid is substantial. It was not a gift, we got a great deal for it. And now it’s one way to keep a country of 80 million people — the largest Arab country in the world — under control regardless of what kind of government it gets.
Colin: So far the Muslim Brotherhood has indicated it won’t tear up the peace treaty with Israel, so presumably so long as this holds the aid will continue.
George: I think the aid from the United States would continue. I’m not sure the aid would end simply if the treaty were suspended or violated. The real issue between Israel and Egypt would be an attempt by Egypt to reoccupy the Sinai Peninsula, which is a buffer zone between the two.
I think that the aid question is really second to wondering where the Muslim Brotherhood will finally wind up. I think it’s a mistake to look at its current condition and assume that it is its permanent condition. I suspect we will see many fissures inside of the Muslim Brotherhood and many different strands emerge very much in conflict with each other. And this is the real reason that in the end the military may hold power — the opposition to the military, the alternative to the military, is incapable of governing because of their fragmentation.
Colin: There’s some evidence, at least, that the Islamic bloc — particularly the Muslim Brotherhood — did well because of the economic promises they made in areas like health and welfare. But can they keep these promises?
George: Well, shockingly, somebody might make an election promise they can’t keep. Of course they can’t keep them. And of course some people voted for them for that reason. And as they fail to keep the promises they will get less popular, others will get more popular, and so on and so forth.
But after over 50 years of a military government, the transition to a civilian government — even if that takes place — is going to take a long time. In these crowds there are very few people who have ever served in government or have ever administered in anything. That was in the hands of the military and the civilian bureaucracy that it controlled. This political process, even if it finally winds up ending up in some sort of true civilian control — not symbolic control, but true civilian control — even if you go to that point, it is going to take a long time.
Colin: George Friedman. And that’s Agenda for this week, until the next time. Thanks for giving us your time. Goodbye.
Winds of change become dark clouds
Reply #183 on:
December 31, 2011, 09:10:38 AM »
December 29, 2011
As President Hosni Mubarak's regime fell in Egypt, some feared that radical Islamists were poised to take over the state and the country. This opinion was not shared in America by leading voices in government and the media, where pundit after politician confidently asserted that the Muslim Brotherhood, the dominant Islamist organization in Egypt, did not enjoy that sort of widespread public support.
This certainty started at the top, as President Obama told Bill O'Reilly, "I think the Muslim Brotherhood is one faction in Egypt. They don't have majority support in Egypt."
The president's appraisal was echoed by United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice in an interview: "There's not indication that the Brotherhood is going to dominate Egyptian politics."
This benign notion of the Egyptian future was pushed by renowned New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who wrote that "the biggest losers of the revolution" would be violent Islamist extremist groups" that would "lose steam when the more moderate Muslim Brotherhood" joined the game, and that "Egypt won't change as much as many had expected."
Boy, were they wrong.
Through two rounds of voting (out of three), Egypt's Islamist parties have secured between 67 and 75 percent of seats in the country's first post-Mubarak parliament. The clear leader is the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), which won 86 of the 180 seats up for grabs. The FJP's closest contender thus far has been al-Nour—the political arm of Egypt's fundamentalist Islamist Salafists—which has won roughly 20 percent of seats.
This comes after initial assurances from the Brotherhood that they did not seek to dominate a successive Egyptian government. They pledged not to offer a candidate for president and to run candidates in only about a third of all parliamentary races.
Meanwhile, distinctions between the Brotherhood and the Salafi parties may prove insignificant. "At the end of the day, we and the Brotherhood want the same thing. What is that?" asked Salafi al-Nour chief Sheikh Ayman Shrieb—"Well, we want an Islamic state. Every vote we don't get, we hope it goes to the Brotherhood."
So much for the Brotherhood's previous claim that the revolution had "no Islamic agenda."
News outlets were more than willing to help lower expectations for the Brotherhood's electoral chances.
Kristof, for one, took the Brotherhood's assurances, coupled with the group's stated commitment not to field a presidential candidate, as a good-faith effort to prove it had been "tamed by being brought into the system."
In July, National Public Radio reported on rifts within the movement that not only could hurt at the polls, but which are "causing some in Egypt to question whether the decades-old movement can survive." That report followed a similar CNN story, which cited sources saying it "is unlikely to win more than 20% of the seats in parliament" because much of its past support was based on opposition to Mubarak's rule.
During a discussion held at the Center for the National Interest in April, a panel of experts "agreed with the assessment that the organization [the Brotherhood] is unlikely to win more than fifteen or twenty percent in September's parliamentary elections. The Salafist movement, far more conservative and radical than the MB, is unlikely to win more than a tiny fraction of that number."
Months later, right as the postponed first round of elections were set to commence, Dalia Mogahed, executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies and former White House advisory council appointee, released a poll showing that only 23% of Egyptians "Support" the Muslim Brotherhood, while 61% "Do Not Support." Commenting on the results, Mogahed noted that "while the Muslim Brotherhood enjoy support from a significant segment of Egyptian society, more Egyptians see a parliament in which the group holds a strong, influential position as bad for the country."
In contrast, writer Barry Rubin made a point of noting the Brotherhood's history of doubletalk. And he correctly predicted the Brotherhood's electoral prowess, saying the group is "following a brilliant strategy to build a united front for Sharia, bringing in other clerics and gradually winning over more and more of the religious establishment to an Islamist position."
The ultra-conservative Salafi party already has called for an all-out ban on alcohol and beach tourism. The Brotherhood claims it will not go as far. Yet even its plan, which calls for strict changes to Egypt's tourism industry, undoubtedly would have a negative impact on the country's bottom-line.
A leading official on Tuesday pledged to bring Egypt into the 1920s via Prohibition.
"We'll prohibit alcohol," former Brotherhood Secretary General Sobhi Saleh told a rally outside Cairo. "Tourism does not mean nudity and drunkenness We Egyptians are the greatest religious people, and we don't need that."
On Thursday, the Brotherhood's Supreme Guide announced that his group's "ultimate goal" of "establishing a caliphate system" is close at hand. The path toward achieving that goal, Mohammed Badie told listeners, begins with the establishment of a "just and reasonable regime."
The statement calls into question the Brotherhood's pledge not to run a presidential candidate since a "just and reasonable regime" likely includes a leader in sync with Brotherhood aspirations.
The Brotherhood seeks to "persuade a figure who they find satisfactory to run Egypt's top post," Chairman Mahmoud Ghozlan said last week. Also at odds with its earlier position, the Brotherhood is now rejecting calls for presidential elections to take place before the constitution is drafted—the exact opposite stance it took a month ago.
Flip-flopping is a liability in American politics. Less so, apparently, in Egypt, where the Brotherhood cultivated support in part by borrowing another American tradition – "walk around" money. Former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco Marc Ginsburg claims Egyptian military and business leaders funneled huge amounts of money to build "an underground supply chain of financial and commodity support to local Islamist political organizations throughout Egypt outside the prying eyes of Cairo-based media."
Only in this case, the vote-buying and community support comes at an additional cost: the Islamists' agenda. That bodes ominously for American interests. Already, Egypt appears to be the next home base for designated terrorist group, Hamas.
But don't be surprised to see pundits, politicians and journalists continue to minimize the ramifications. Some things take more than elections to change.
Who could have seen this coming?
Reply #184 on:
December 31, 2011, 09:25:15 PM »
Moving GM's post on the Israel thread to here:
Quote from: G M on January 05, 2011, 06:51:41 PM
The problem is Egypt is very brittle. Were the Muslim Brotherhood to take over, things for the Copts, as well as average Egyptians would be much worse off. Keep in mind that those who could take power in Egypt see the pyramids and other artifacts there as something they'd like to destroy, just as the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas in Bamiyan. And, like the talibs, the destruction of artifacts would be the least of the horrible things done by them.
Egypt used to be very westernized, now salafism is taking deep root in the population. This does not bode well for the future. Classic Egyptian things, like belly dancing are going away because they are "unislamic".
The Salafist party's plan for the Pyramids? Cover them in waxBy Michael Burleigh
Last updated at 11:06 AM on 23rd December 2011
Comments ( Share
The pyramids at Giza are the most stunning sight I have ever seen.
True, their lonely eminence is threatened by Cairo's unlicensed building sprawl, with half completed houses inching their way towards them.
Surveying them at night as the calls to prayer multiplied into a thunder of sound from central Cairo already told me a few years back what was coming.
Wonder: The Pyramids at Giza are under threat from destruction or 'concealment' by covering them with wax
For now members of the Nour (The Light) Salafist party, which won 20 per cent of the vote in recent elections, are talking about putting an end to the 'idolatry' represented by the pyramids.
This means destruction - along the lines essayed by the Afghan Taliban who blew up the Banyam Buddhas - or 'concealment' by covering them with wax. Tourists would presumably see great blobs rather than the perfectly carved steps
POTH: T. Friedman: Political Islam without Oil
Reply #185 on:
January 11, 2012, 10:55:50 AM »
With the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood and the even more puritanical Salafist Al Nour Party having stunned both themselves and Egyptians by garnering more than 60 percent of the seats in Egypt’s parliamentary elections, we’re about to see a unique lab test for the Middle East: What happens when political Islam has to wrestle with modernity and globalization without oil?
Islamist movements have long dominated Iran and Saudi Arabia. Both the ayatollahs in Iran and the Wahhabi Salafists in Saudi Arabia, though, were able to have their ideology and the fruits of modernity, too, because they had vast oil wealth to buy off any contradictions. Saudi Arabia could underutilize its women and impose strict religious mores on its society, banks and schools. Iran’s clerics could snub the world, pursue nuclearization and impose heavy political and religious restrictions. And both could still offer their people improved living standards, because they had oil.
Egypt’s Islamist parties will not have that luxury. They will have to open up to the world, and they seem to be realizing that. Egypt is a net importer of oil. It also imports 40 percent of its food. And tourism constitutes one-tenth of its gross domestic product. With unemployment rampant and the Egyptian pound eroding, Egypt will probably need assistance from the International Monetary Fund, a major injection of foreign investment and a big upgrade in modern education to provide jobs for all those youths who organized last year’s rebellion. Egypt needs to be integrated with the world.
The Muslim Brotherhood, whose party is called Freedom and Justice, draws a lot of support from the middle classes and small businesses. The Salafist Al Nour Party is dominated by religious sheiks and the rural and urban poor.
Essam el-Erian, the vice chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood’s party, told me: “We hope that we can pull the Salafists — not that they pull us — and that both of us will be pulled by the people’s needs.” He made very clear that while both Freedom and Justice and Al Nour are Islamist parties, they are very different, and they may not join hands in power: “As a political group, they are newcomers, and I hope all can wait to discover the difference between Al Nour and Freedom and Justice.”
On the peace treaty with Israel, Erian said: “This is the commitment of the state — not any group or party — and we have said we are respecting the commitments of the Egyptian state from the past.” Ultimately, he added, relations with Israel will be determined by how it treats the Palestinians.
But generally speaking, he said, Egypt’s economic plight “is pushing us to be concerned about our own affairs.”
Muhammad Khairat el-Shater, the vice chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood and its economic guru, made clear to me over strawberry juice at his home that his organization intends to lean into the world. “It is no longer a matter of choice whether one can be with or against globalization,” he said. “It is a reality. From our perspective, we favor the widest possible engagement with globalization through win-win situations.”
Nader Bakkar, a spokesman for Al Nour, insisted that his party would move cautiously. “We are the guardians of Shariah,” he told me, referring to Islamic law, “and we want people to be with us on the same principles, but we have an open door to all the intellectuals in all fields.” He said his party’s economic model was Brazil. “We don’t like the theocratic model,” he added. “I can promise you that we will not be another dictatorship, and the Egyptian people will not give us a chance to be another dictatorship.”
In November, Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, an independent Salafist cleric and presidential candidate, was asked by an interviewer how, as president, he would react to a woman wearing a bikini on the beach? “She would be arrested,” he said.
The Al Nour Party quickly said he was not speaking for it. Agence France-Presse quoted another spokesman for Al Nour, Muhammad Nour, as also dismissing fears raised in the news media that the Salafists might ban alcohol, a staple of Egypt’s tourist hotels. “Maybe 20,000 out of 80 million Egyptians drink alcohol,” he said. “Forty million don’t have sanitary water. Do you think that, in Parliament, I’ll busy myself with people who don’t have water, or people who get drunk?”
What to make of all this? Egyptian Islamists have some big decisions. It has been easy to maintain a high degree of ideological purity all these years they’ve been out of power. But their sudden rise to the top of Egyptian politics coincides with the free fall of Egypt’s economy. And as soon as Parliament is seated on Jan. 23, Egypt’s Islamists will have the biggest responsibility for fixing that economy — without oil. (A similar drama is playing out in Tunisia.)
They don’t want to blow this chance to lead, yet they want to be true to their Islamic roots, yet they know their supporters elected them to deliver clean government, education and jobs, not mosques. It will be fascinating to watch them deal with these tugs and pulls. Where they come out will have a huge impact on the future of political Islam in this region.
POTH: MB leader see vote as calling for Islam
Reply #186 on:
March 12, 2012, 03:01:50 AM »
I found this four page article very interesting.
Last Edit: March 12, 2012, 04:00:54 AM by Crafty_Dog
Feminists are outraged!
Reply #187 on:
March 12, 2012, 05:58:27 PM »
.....At Rush Limbaugh for saying something mean to a 30 year old "activist".
JDN must be thrilled at this triumph of democracy!
March 11, 2012
Egypt Celebrates International Women’s Day
…by condemning the 1978 UN Convention Against Gender Discrimination as “incompatible with the values of Islamic sharia.” Need we tell you that the political forces behind this tastefully timed pronouncement were those empowered by the so-called Arab Spring?
As the AFP notes:
The Freedom and Justice Party, political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, says it does not endorse gender discrimination, although the Brotherhood argues women should not be allowed to rule the country.
The party is the dominant bloc in both houses of parliament after a sweeping victory in a multi-phase general election that began in November. Women hold just two percent of the seats in parliament.
Meanwhile, MSNBC reports on the brave women who are protesting against this return to medievalism under the ominous headline “An Egyptian Career Woman? Soon it Could Be Rare“:
It’s a sea change from the ousted regime of President Hosni Mubarak, when women were guaranteed 64 parliamentary seats. In the latest post-revolutionary elections, the quota was eliminated and women won only five seats. “The other seats went to the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists,” said El Soud, co-founder of the Revolutionary Women’s Coalition, which has 4,000 members on Facebook.
“We are going backward, backward and backward,” she added.
Indeed. Via Meadia can’t help but wonder: where all the fashionable pundits who rapturously heralded the Arab Spring as the flowering of peace, justice and democracy, now that its victors are enacting their decidedly less appealing agenda? Studiously looking the other way, it seems.
Via Meadia has no interest in telling the Arabs how to manage their revolutions. In the first place they wouldn’t listen, and in the second they shouldn’t: every people has to test and experiment as it struggles to balance its inherited religious views and cultural practices with the challenges of contemporary life. Secular reformers in the Islamic world like the Shah of Iran tried to run roughshod over the religion of the people, and the results haven’t been pretty.
The revolutions that are shaking the Middle East today are populist but not necessarily democratic, and they are rooted in the impact of modern social and economic pressures but they are not ideologically modernist. It may be inconvenient for democracy advocates in the west, but more democratic governance in some countries may lead to fewer rights for women, religious minorities, gays and westernization advocates than these groups enjoyed under past tyrants. In the same way in American history, there have been epochs when more populist government meant fewer rights for minorities: it was Andrew Jackson who sent the Cherokee on the Trail of Tears.
Our democracy advocates and NGO activists like to think of history as a nice linear progression towards the liberal promised land in which all good things work together, and “good” forces and “bad” forces can be clearly distinguished. This is strong hearted but weak brained. History is much deeper and more inscrutable than our PC humanitarians like to think.
Some Americans think that because history is such a mess and the good guys cannot be helped or in some cases even identified, the US should “stay out” of other countries’ politics and affairs. It’s a nice thought, and at least in theory it could save us some trouble, but it isn’t possible. The world is too linked up, American interests are too global, and the American government is too easily affected by the sentiments (misguided though they may sometimes be) of the American people to pursue a policy of principled nonintervention with any consistency or success.
So the Arabs will mush along with their unsatisfactory spring, and the Americans will mush along with our unsatisfactory foreign policy, and the international system will continue to disappoint those expecting a liberal utopia to suddenly appear and make all our problems go away.
2003: Why Feminism is AWOL on Islam
Reply #188 on:
March 13, 2012, 08:41:10 AM »
Feminism AWOL on Islam
on: January 23, 2003, 01:28:05 AM »
Why Feminism Is AWOL on Islam
Kay S. Hymowitz
U.S. feminists should be protesting the brutal oppression of Middle Eastern women. But doing so would reveal how little they have to complain about at home.
Argue all you want with many feminist policies, but few quarrel with feminism?s core moral insight, which changed the lives (and minds) of women forever: that women are due the same rights and dignity as men. So, as news of the appalling miseries of women in the Islamic world has piled up, where are the feminists? Where?s the outrage? For a brief moment after September 11, when pictures of those blue alien-creaturely shapes in Afghanistan filled the papers, it seemed as if feminists were going to have their moment. And in fact the Feminist Majority, to its credit, had been publicizing since the mid-90s how Afghan girls were barred from school, how women were stoned for adultery or beaten for showing an ankle or wearing high-heeled shoes, how they were prohibited from leaving the house unless accompanied by a male relative, how they were denied medical help because the only doctors around were male.
But the rest is feminist silence. You haven?t heard a peep from feminists as it has grown clear that the Taliban were exceptional not in their extreme views about women but in their success at embodying those views in law and practice. In the United Arab Emirates, husbands have the right to beat their wives in order to discipline them??provided that the beating is not so severe as to damage her bones or deform her body,? in the words of the Gulf News. In Saudi Arabia, women cannot vote, drive, or show their faces or talk with male non-relatives in public. (Evidently they can?t talk to men over the airwaves either; when Prince Abdullah went to President Bush?s ranch in Crawford last April, he insisted that no female air-traffic controllers handle his flight.) Yes, Saudi girls can go to school, and many even attend the university; but at the university, women must sit in segregated rooms and watch their professors on closed-circuit televisions. If they have a question, they push a button on their desk, which turns on a light at the professor?s lectern, from which he can answer the female without being in her dangerous presence. And in Saudi Arabia, education can be harmful to female health. Last spring in Mecca, members of the mutaween, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue, pushed fleeing students back into their burning school because they were not properly covered in abaya. Fifteen girls died.
You didn?t hear much from feminists when in the northern Nigerian province of Katsina a Muslim court sentenced a woman to death by stoning for having a child outside of marriage. The case might not have earned much attention?stonings are common in parts of the Muslim world?except that the young woman, who had been married off at 14 to a husband who ultimately divorced her when she lost her virginal allure, was still nursing a baby at the time of sentencing. During her trial she had no lawyer, although the court did see fit to delay her execution until she weans her infant.
You didn?t hear much from feminists as it emerged that honor killings by relatives, often either ignored or only lightly punished by authorities, are also commonplace in the Muslim world. In September, Reuters reported the story of an Iranian man, ?defending my honor, family, and dignity,? who cut off his seven-year-old daughter?s head after suspecting she had been raped by her uncle. The postmortem showed the girl to be a virgin. In another family mix-up, a Yemeni man shot his daughter to death on her wedding night when her husband claimed she was not a virgin. After a medical exam revealed that the husband was mistaken, officials concluded he was simply trying to protect himself from embarrassment about his own impotence. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, every day two women are slain by male relatives seeking to avenge the family honor.
The savagery of some of these murders is worth a moment?s pause. In 2000, two Punjabi sisters, 20 and 21 years old, had their throats slit by their brother and cousin because the girls were seen talking to two boys to whom they were not related. In one especially notorious case, an Egyptian woman named Nora Marzouk Ahmed fell in love and eloped. When she went to make amends with her father, he cut off her head and paraded it down the street. Several years back, according to the Washington Post, the husband of Zahida Perveen, a 32-year-old pregnant Pakistani, gouged out her eyes and sliced off her earlobe and nose because he suspected her of having an affair.
In a related example widely covered last summer, a teenage girl in the Punjab was sentenced by a tribal council to rape by a gang that included one of the councilmen. After the hour-and-a-half ordeal, the girl was forced to walk home naked in front of scores of onlookers. She had been punished because her 11-year-old brother had compromised another girl by being been seen alone with her. But that charge turned out to be a ruse: it seems that three men of a neighboring tribe had sodomized the boy and accused him of illicit relations?an accusation leading to his sister?s barbaric punishment?as a way of covering up their crime.
Nor is such brutality limited to backward, out-of-the-way villages. Muddassir Rizvi, a Pakistani journalist, says that, though always common in rural areas, in recent years honor killings have become more prevalent in cities ?among educated and liberal families.? In relatively modern Jordan, honor killings were all but exempt from punishment until the penal code was modified last year; unfortunately, a young Palestinian living in Jordan, who had recently stabbed his 19-year-old sister 40 times ?to cleanse the family honor,? and another man from near Amman, who ran over his 23-year-old sister with his truck because of her ?immoral behavior,? had not yet changed their ways. British psychiatrist Anthony Daniels reports that British Muslim men frequently spirit their young daughters back to their native Pakistan and force the girls to marry. Such fathers have been known to kill daughters who resist. In Sweden, in one highly publicized case, Fadima Sahindal, an assimilated 26-year-old of Kurdish origin, was murdered by her father after she began living with her Swedish boyfriend. ?The whore is dead,? the family announced.
As you look at this inventory of brutality, the question bears repeating: Where are the demonstrations, the articles, the petitions, the resolutions, the vindications of the rights of Islamic women by American feminists? The weird fact is that, even after the excesses of the Taliban did more to forge an American consensus about women?s rights than 30 years of speeches by Gloria Steinem, feminists refused to touch this subject. They have averted their eyes from the harsh, blatant oppression of millions of women, even while they have continued to stare into the Western patriarchal abyss, indignant over female executives who cannot join an exclusive golf club and college women who do not have their own lacrosse teams.
But look more deeply into the matter, and you realize that the sound of feminist silence about the savage fundamentalist Muslim oppression of women has its own perverse logic. The silence is a direct outgrowth of the way feminist theory has developed in recent years. Now mired in self-righteous sentimentalism, multicultural nonjudgmentalism, and internationalist utopianism, feminism has lost the language to make the universalist moral claims of equal dignity and individual freedom that once rendered it so compelling. No wonder that most Americans, trying to deal with the realities of a post-9/11 world, are paying feminists no mind.
To understand the current sisterly silence about the sort of tyranny that the women?s movement came into existence to attack, it is helpful to think of feminisms plural rather than singular. Though not entirely discrete philosophies, each of three different feminisms has its own distinct reasons for causing activists to ?lose their voice? in the face of women?s oppression.
The first variety?radical feminism (or gender feminism, in Christina Hoff Sommers?s term)?starts with the insight that men are, not to put too fine a point upon it, brutes. Radical feminists do not simply subscribe to the reasonable-enough notion that men are naturally more prone to aggression than women. They believe that maleness is a kind of original sin. Masculinity explains child abuse, marital strife, high defense spending, every war from Troy to Afghanistan, as well as Hitler, Franco, and Pinochet. As Gloria Steinem informed the audience at a Florida fundraiser last March: ?The cult of masculinity is the basis for every violent, fascist regime.?
Gender feminists are little interested in fine distinctions between radical Muslim men who slam commercial airliners into office buildings and soldiers who want to stop radical Muslim men from slamming commercial airliners into office buildings. They are both examples of generic male violence?and specifically, male violence against women. ?Terrorism is on a continuum that starts with violence within the family, battery against women, violence against women in the society, all the way up to organized militaries that are supported by taxpayer money,? according to Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, who teaches ?The Sexuality of Terrorism? at California State University in Hayward. Violence is so intertwined with male sexuality that, she tells us, military pilots watch porn movies before they go out on sorties. The war in Afghanistan could not possibly offer a chance to liberate women from their oppressors, since it would simply expose women to yet another set of oppressors, in the gender feminists? view. As Sharon Lerner asserted bizarrely in the Village Voice, feminists? ?discomfort? with the Afghanistan bombing was ?deepened by the knowledge that more women than men die as a result of most wars.?
If guys are brutes, girls are their opposite: peace-loving, tolerant, conciliatory, and reasonable??Antiwar and Pro-Feminist,? as the popular peace-rally sign goes. Feminists long ago banished tough-as-nails women like Margaret Thatcher and Jeanne Kirkpatrick (and these days, one would guess, even the fetching Condoleezza Rice) to the ranks of the imperfectly female. Real women, they believe, would never justify war. ?Most women, Western and Muslim, are opposed to war regardless of its reasons and objectives,? wrote the Jordanian feminist Fadia Faqir on OpenDemocracy.net. ?They are concerned with emancipation, freedom (personal and civic), human rights, power sharing, integrity, dignity, equality, autonomy, power-sharing [sic], liberation, and pluralism.?
Sara Ruddick, author of Maternal Thinking, is perhaps one of the most influential spokeswomen for the position that women are instinctually peaceful. According to Ruddick (who clearly didn?t have Joan Crawford in mind), that?s because a good deal of mothering is naturally governed by the Gandhian principles of nonviolence such as ?renunciation,? ?resistance to injustice,? and ?reconciliation.? The novelist Barbara Kingsolver was one of the first to demonstrate the subtleties of such universal maternal thinking after the United States invaded Afghanistan. ?I feel like I?m standing on a playground where the little boys are all screaming ?He started it!? and throwing rocks,? she wrote in the Los Angeles Times. ?I keep looking for somebody?s mother to come on the scene saying, ?Boys! Boys!? ?
Gender feminism?s tendency to reduce foreign affairs to a Lifetime Channel movie may make it seem too silly to bear mentioning, but its kitschy naivet? hasn?t stopped it from being widespread among elites. You see it in widely read writers like Kingsolver, Maureen Dowd, and Alice Walker. It turns up in our most elite institutions. Swanee Hunt, head of the Women in Public Policy Program at Harvard?s Kennedy School of Government wrote, with Cristina Posa in Foreign Policy: ?The key reason behind women?s marginalization may be that everyone recognizes just how good women are at forging peace.? Even female elected officials are on board. ?The women of all these countries should go on strike, they should all sit down and refuse to do anything until their men agree to talk peace,? urged Ohio representative Marcy Kaptur to the Arab News last spring, echoing an idea that Aristophanes, a dead white male, proposed as a joke 2,400 years ago. And President Clinton is an advocate of maternal thinking, too. ?If we?d had women at Camp David,? he said in July 2000, ?we?d have an agreement.?
Major foundations too seem to take gender feminism seriously enough to promote it as an answer to world problems. Last December, the Ford Foundation and the Soros Open Society Foundation helped fund the Afghan Women?s Summit in Brussels to develop ideas for a new government in Afghanistan. As Vagina Monologues author Eve Ensler described it on her website, the summit was made up of ?meetings and meals, canvassing, workshops, tears, and dancing.? ?Defense was mentioned nowhere in the document,? Ensler wrote proudly of the summit?s concluding proclamation?despite the continuing threat in Afghanistan of warlords, bandits, and lingering al-Qaida operatives. ?uilding weapons or instruments of retaliation was not called for in any category,? Ensler cooed. ?Instead [the women] wanted education, health care, and the protection of refugees, culture, and human rights.?
Too busy celebrating their own virtue and contemplating their own victimhood, gender feminists cannot address the suffering of their Muslim sisters realistically, as light years worse than their own petulant grievances. They are too intent on hating war to ask if unleashing its horrors might be worth it to overturn a brutal tyranny that, among its manifold inhumanities, treats women like animals. After all, hating war and machismo is evidence of the moral superiority that comes with being born female.
Yet the gender feminist idea of superior feminine virtue is becoming an increasingly tough sell for anyone actually keeping up with world events. Kipling once wrote of the fierceness of Afghan women: ?When you?re wounded and left on the Afghan plains/And the women come out to cut up your remains/Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains.? Now it?s clearer than ever that the dream of worldwide sisterhood is no more realistic than worldwide brotherhood; culture trumps gender any day. Mothers all over the Muslim world are naming their babies Usama or praising Allah for their sons? efforts to kill crusading infidels. Last February, 28-year-old Wafa Idris became the first female Palestinian suicide bomber to strike in Israel, killing an elderly man and wounding scores of women and children. And in April, Israeli soldiers discovered under the maternity clothes of 26-year-old Shifa Adnan Kodsi a bomb rather than a baby. Maternal thinking, indeed.
The second variety of feminism, seemingly more sophisticated and especially prevalent on college campuses, is multiculturalism and its twin, postcolonialism. The postcolonial feminist has even more reason to shy away from the predicament of women under radical Islam than her maternally thinking sister. She believes that the Western world is so sullied by its legacy of imperialism that no Westerner, man or woman, can utter a word of judgment against former colonial peoples. Worse, she is not so sure that radical Islam isn?t an authentic, indigenous?and therefore appropriate?expression of Arab and Middle Eastern identity.
The postmodern philosopher Michel Foucault, one of the intellectual godfathers of multiculturalism and postcolonialism, first set the tone in 1978 when an Italian newspaper sent him to Teheran to cover the Iranian revolution. As his biographer James Miller tells it, Foucault looked in the face of Islamic fundamentalism and saw . . . an awe-inspiring revolt against ?global hegemony.? He was mesmerized by this new form of ?political spirituality? that, in a phrase whose dark prescience he could not have grasped, portended the ?transfiguration of the world.? Even after the Ayatollah Khomeini came to power and reintroduced polygamy and divorce on the husband?s demand with automatic custody to fathers, reduced the official female age of marriage from 18 to 13, fired all female judges, and ordered compulsory veiling, whose transgression was to be punished by public flogging, Foucault saw no reason to temper his enthusiasm. What was a small matter like women?s basic rights, when a struggle against ?the planetary system? was at hand?
Postcolonialists, then, have their own binary system, somewhat at odds with gender feminism?not to mention with women?s rights. It is not men who are the sinners; it is the West. It is not women who are victimized innocents; it is the people who suffered under Western colonialism, or the descendants of those people, to be more exact. Caught between the rock of patriarchy and the hard place of imperialism, the postcolonial feminist scholar gingerly tiptoes her way around the subject of Islamic fundamentalism and does the only thing she can do: she focuses her ire on Western men.
To this end, the postcolonialist eagerly dips into the inkwell of gender feminism. She ties colonialist exploitation and domination to maleness; she might refer to Israel?s ?masculinist military culture??Israel being white and Western?though she would never dream of pointing out the ?masculinist military culture? of the jihadi. And she expends a good deal of energy condemning Western men for wanting to improve the lives of Eastern women. At the turn of the twentieth century Lord Cromer, the British vice consul of Egypt and a pet target of postcolonial feminists, argued that the ?degradation? of women under Islam had a harmful effect on society. Rubbish, according to the postcolonialist feminist. His words are simply part of ?the Western narrative of the quintessential otherness and inferiority of Islam,? as Harvard professor Leila Ahmed puts it in Women and Gender in Islam. The same goes for American concern about Afghan women; it is merely a ?device for ranking the ?other? men as inferior or as ?uncivilized,? ? according to Nira Yuval-Davis, professor of gender and ethnic studies at the University of Greenwich, England. These are all examples of what renowned Columbia professor Gayatri Spivak called ?white men saving brown women from brown men.?
Spivak?s phrase, a great favorite on campus, points to the postcolonial notion that brown men, having been victimized by the West, can never be oppressors in their own right. If they give the appearance of treating women badly, the oppression they have suffered at the hands of Western colonial masters is to blame. In fact, the worse they treat women, the more they are expressing their own justifiable outrage. ?When men are traumatized [by colonial rule], they tend to traumatize their own women,? Miriam Cooke, a Duke professor and head of the Association for Middle East Women?s Studies, told me. And today, Cooke asserts, brown men are subjected to a new form of imperialism. ?Now there is a return of colonialism that we saw in the nineteenth century in the context of globalization,? she says. ?What is driving Islamist men is globalization.?
It would be difficult to exaggerate the through-the-looking-glass quality of postcolonialist theory when it comes to the subject of women. Female suicide bombers are a good thing, because they are strong women demonstrating ?agency? against colonial powers. Polygamy too must be shown due consideration. ?Polygamy can be liberating and empowering,? Cooke answered sunnily when I asked her about it. ?Our norm is the Western, heterosexual, single couple. If we can imagine different forms that would allow us to be something other than a heterosexual couple, we might imagine polygamy working,? she explained murkily. Some women, she continued, are relieved when their husbands take a new wife: they won?t have to service him so often. Or they might find they now have the freedom to take a lover. But, I ask, wouldn?t that be dangerous in places where adulteresses can be stoned to death? At any rate, how common is that? ?I don?t know,? Cooke answers, ?I?m interested in discourse.? The irony couldn?t be darker: the very people protesting the imperialist exploitation of the ?Other? endorse that Other?s repressive customs as a means of promoting their own uniquely Western agenda?subverting the heterosexual patriarchy.
The final category in the feminist taxonomy, which might be called the world-government utopian strain, is in many respects closest to classical liberal feminism. Dedicated to full female dignity and equality, it generally eschews both the biological determinism of the gender feminist and the cultural relativism of the multiculti postcolonialist. Stanford political science professor Susan Moller Okin, an influential, subtle, and intelligent spokeswoman for this approach, created a stir among feminists in 1997 when she forthrightly attacked multiculturalists for valuing ?group rights for minority cultures? over the well-being of individual women. Okin admirably minced no words attacking arranged marriage, female circumcision, and polygamy, which she believed women experienced as a ?barely tolerable institution.? Some women, she went so far as to declare, ?might be better off if the culture into which they were born were either to become extinct . . . or preferably, to be encouraged to alter itself so as to reinforce the equality of women.?
But though Okin is less shy than other feminists about discussing the plight of women under Islamic fundamentalism, the typical U.N. utopian has her own reasons for keeping quiet as that plight fills Western headlines. For one thing, the utopian is also a bean-counting absolutist, seeking a pure, numerical equality between men and women in all departments of life. She greets Western, and particularly American, claims to have achieved freedom for women with skepticism. The motto of the 2002 International Women?s Day??Afghanistan Is Everywhere??was in part a reproach to the West about its superior airs. Women in Afghanistan might have to wear burqas, but don?t women in the West parade around in bikinis? ?It?s equally disrespectful and abusive to have women prancing around a stage in bathing suits for cash or walking the streets shrouded in burqas in order to survive,? columnist Jill Nelson wrote on the MSNBC website about the murderously fanatical riots that attended the Miss World pageant in Nigeria.
As Nelson?s statement hints, the utopian is less interested in freeing women to make their own choices than in engineering and imposing her own elite vision of a perfect society. Indeed, she is under no illusions that, left to their own democratic devices, women would freely choose the utopia she has in mind. She would not be surprised by recent Pakistani elections, where a number of the women who won parliamentary seats were Islamist. But it doesn?t really matter what women want. The universalist has a comprehensive vision of ?women?s human rights,? meaning not simply women?s civil and political rights but ?economic rights? and ?socioeconomic justice.? Cynical about free markets and globalization, the U.N. utopian is also unimpressed by the liberal democratic nation-state ?as an emancipatory institution,? in the dismissive words of J. Ann Tickner, director for international studies at the University of Southern California. Such nation-states are ?unresponsive to the needs of [their] most vulnerable members? and seeped in ?nationalist ideologies? as well as in patriarchal assumptions about autonomy. In fact, like the (usually) unacknowledged socialist that she is, the U.N. utopian eagerly awaits the withering of the nation-state, a political arrangement that she sees as tied to imperialism, war, and masculinity. During war, in particular, nations ?depend on ideas about masculinized dignity and feminized sacrifice to sustain the sense of autonomous nationhood,? writes Cynthia Enloe, professor of government at Clark University.
Having rejected the patriarchal liberal nation-state, with all the democratic machinery of self-government that goes along with it, the utopian concludes that there is only one way to achieve her goals: to impose them through international government. Utopian feminists fill the halls of the United Nations, where they examine everything through the lens of the ?gender perspective? in study after unreadable study. (My personal favorites: ?Gender Perspectives on Landmines? and ?Gender Perspectives on Weapons of Mass Destruction,? whose conclusion is that landmines and WMDs are bad for women.)
The 1979 U.N. Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), perhaps the first and most important document of feminist utopianism, gives the best sense of the sweeping nature of the movement?s ambitions. CEDAW demands many measures that anyone committed to democratic liberal values would applaud, including women?s right to vote and protection against honor killings and forced marriage. Would that the document stopped there. Instead it sets out to impose a utopian order that would erase all distinctions between men and women, a kind of revolution of the sexes from above, requiring nations to ?take all appropriate measures to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women? and to eliminate ?stereotyped roles? to accomplish this legislative abolition of biology. The document calls for paid maternity leave, nonsexist school curricula, and government-supported child care. The treaty?s 23-member enforcement committee hectors nations that do not adequately grasp that, as Enloe puts it, ?the personal is international.? The committee has cited Belarus for celebrating Mother?s Day, China for failing to legalize prostitution, and Libya for not interpreting the Qur?an in accordance with ?committee guidelines.?
Confusing ?women?s participation? with self-determination, and numerical equivalence with equality, CEDAW utopians try to orchestrate their perfect society through quotas and affirmative-action plans. Their bean-counting mentality cares about whether women participate equally, without asking what it is that they are participating in or whether their participation is anything more than ceremonial. Thus at the recent Women?s Summit in Jordan, Rima Khalaf suggested that governments be required to use quotas in elections ?to leapfrog women to power.? Khalaf, like so many illiberal feminist utopians, has no hesitation in forcing society to be free. As is often the case when elites decide they have discovered the route to human perfection, the utopian urge is not simply antidemocratic but verges on the totalitarian.
That this combination of sentimental victimhood, postcolonial relativism, and utopian overreaching has caused feminism to suffer so profound a loss of moral and political imagination that it cannot speak against the brutalization of Islamic women is an incalculable loss to women and to men. The great contribution of Western feminism was to expand the definition of human dignity and freedom. It insisted that all human beings were worthy of liberty. Feminists now have the opportunity to make that claim on behalf of women who in their oppression have not so much as imagined that its promise could include them, too. At its best, feminism has stood for a rich idea of personal choice in shaping a meaningful life, one that respects not only the woman who wants to crash through glass ceilings but also the one who wants to stay home with her children and bake cookies or to wear a veil and fast on Ramadan. Why shouldn?t feminists want to shout out their own profound discovery for the world to hear?
Perhaps, finally, because to do so would be to acknowledge the freedom they themselves enjoy, thanks to Western ideals and institutions. Not only would such an admission force them to give up their own simmering resentments; it would be bad for business.
The truth is that the free institutions?an independent judiciary, a free press, open elections?that protect the rights of women are the same ones that protect the rights of men. The separation of church and state that would allow women to escape the burqa would also free men from having their hands amputated for theft. The education system that would teach girls to read would also empower millions of illiterate boys. The capitalist economies that bring clean water, cheap clothes, and washing machines that change the lives of women are the same ones that lead to healthier, freer men. In other words, to address the problems of Muslim women honestly, feminists would have to recognize that free men and women need the same things?and that those are things that they themselves already have. And recognizing that would mean an end to feminism as we know it.
There are signs that, outside the academy, middlebrow literary circles, and the United Nations, feminism has indeed met its Waterloo. Most Americans seem to realize that September 11 turned self-indulgent sentimental illusions, including those about the sexes, into an unaffordable luxury. Consider, for instance, women?s attitudes toward war, a topic on which politicians have learned to take for granted a gender gap. But according to the Pew Research Center, in January 2002, 57 percent of women versus 46 percent of men cited national security as the country?s top priority. There has been a ?seismic gender shift on matters of war,? according to pollster Kellyanne Conway. In 1991, 45 percent of U.S. women supported the use of ground troops in the Gulf War, a substantially smaller number than the 67 percent of men. But as of November, a CNN survey found women were more likely than men to support the use of ground troops against Iraq, 58 percent to 56 percent. The numbers for younger women were especially dramatic. Sixty-five percent of women between 18 and 49 support ground troops, as opposed to 48 percent of women 50 and over. Women are also changing their attitudes toward military spending: before September 11, only 24 percent of women supported increased funds; after the attacks, that number climbed to 47 percent. An evolutionary psychologist might speculate that, if females tend to be less aggressively territorial than males, there?s little to compare to the ferocity of the lioness when she believes her young are threatened.
Even among some who consider themselves feminists, there is some grudging recognition that Western, and specifically American, men are sometimes a force for the good. The Feminist Majority is sending around urgent messages asking for President Bush to increase American security forces in Afghanistan. The influential left-wing British columnist Polly Toynbee, who just 18 months ago coined the phrase ?America the Horrible,? went to Afghanistan to figure out whether the war ?was worth it.? Her answer was not what she might have expected. Though she found nine out of ten women still wearing burqas, partly out of fear of lingering fundamentalist hostility, she was convinced their lives had greatly improved. Women say they can go out alone now.
As we sink more deeply into what is likely to be a protracted struggle with radical Islam, American feminists have a moral responsibility to give up their resentments and speak up for women who actually need their support. Feminists have the moral authority to say that their call for the rights of women is a universal demand?that the rights of women are the Rights of Man.
Feminism Behind the Veil
Feminists in the West may fiddle while Muslim women are burning, but in the Muslim world itself there is a burgeoning movement to address the miserable predicament of the second sex?without simply adopting a philosophy whose higher cultural products include Sex and the City, Rosie O?Donnell, and the power-suited female executive.
The most impressive signs of an indigenous female revolt against the fundamentalist order are in Iran. Over the past ten years or so, Iran has seen the publication of a slew of serious journals dedicated to the social and political predicament of Islamic women, the most well known being the Teheran-based Zonan and Zan, published by Faezah Hashemi, a well-known member of parliament and the daughter of former president Rafsanjani. Believing that Western feminism has promoted hostility between the sexes, confused sex roles, and the sexual objectification of women, a number of writers have proposed an Islamic-style feminism that would stress ?gender complementarity? rather than equality and that would pay full respect to housewifery and motherhood while also giving women access to education and jobs.
Attacking from the religious front, a number of ?Islamic feminists? are challenging the reigning fundamentalist reading of the Qur?an. These scholars insist that the founding principles of Islam, which they believe were long ago corrupted by pre-Islamic Arab, Persian, and North African customs, are if anything more egalitarian than those of Western religions; the Qur?an explicitly describes women as the moral and spiritual equals of men and allows them to inherit and pass down property. The power of misogynistic mullahs has grown in recent decades, feminists continue, because Muslim men have felt threatened by modernity?s challenge to traditional arrangements between the sexes.
What makes Islamic feminism really worth watching is that it has the potential to play a profoundly important role in the future of the Islamic world?and not just because it could improve the lot of women. By insisting that it is true to Islam?in fact, truer than the creed espoused by the entrenched religious elite?Islamic feminism can affirm the dignity of Islam while at the same time bringing it more in line with modernity. In doing this, feminists can help lay the philosophical groundwork for democracy. In the West, feminism lagged behind religious reformation and political democratization by centuries; in the East, feminism could help lead the charge.
At the same time, though, the issue of women?s rights highlights two reasons for caution about the Islamic future. For one thing, no matter how much feminists might wish otherwise, polygamy and male domination of the family are not merely a fact of local traditions; they are written into the Qur?an itself. This in and of itself would not prove to be such an impediment?the Old Testament is filled with laws antithetical to women?s equality?except for the second problem: more than other religions, Islam is unfriendly to the notion of the separation of church and state. If history is any guide, there?s the rub. The ultimate guarantor of the rights of all citizens, whether Islamic or not, can only be a fully secular state.
JDN's "Triumph of democracy" continues to pay dividends
Reply #189 on:
March 14, 2012, 05:16:14 PM »
Egyptian parliamentary report: Israel is our “number one enemy”
Stratfor: Negotiating the final transition
Reply #190 on:
April 01, 2012, 07:22:09 AM »
KHALIL HAMRA/AFP/Getty Images
Egyptian Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, in Cairo on Feb. 11
The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB) released a statement March 24 that strongly condemned the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) for its handling of the transition from military to political leadership. The MB, Egypt's leading Islamist party, questioned the impartiality of the judiciary and criticized SCAF-backed Prime Minister Kamal el-Ganzouri's refusal to dismiss a failing Cabinet. The Brotherhood also accused the military of trying to rig the upcoming presidential election. The SCAF responded a day later, asserting in a statement that it was above "verbal jousting." Alluding to the MB, the statement accused some forces in the country of trying to pressure the military and undermine both the SCAF's mission and the interests of Egyptians.
The entire episode has raised the question of whether the military and the Muslim Brotherhood are moving away from a period of broad cooperation and perhaps paving the way for a resurgence of political violence in Egypt. The military still holds the upper hand in the contest to preserve a strong degree of influence over the country's future civilian government. As they negotiate with the military, Egypt's political Islamists will ultimately make greater sacrifices in the short term in order to avoid derailing the political transition altogether.
Given the military's ambitious timeline for settling the country's most contentious political issues, the intensified rhetoric between the leading forces in Egyptian politics was expected. By the end of June, Egypt is scheduled to hold its presidential election (the vote is set for May 23-24, with a runoff scheduled for June 16-17 if no candidate wins an outright majority), draft and ratify a constitution (the final draft must be ratified via public referendum within 15 days of its release), and formally transfer political power from the SCAF to a civilian government. With the political foundation of the country being laid, the MB will push its demands now, before a power balance between the civilians and the military is enshrined in a new constitution.
Competing SCAF and MB Demands
The Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafist Nour party together won 70 percent of the seats in the People's Assembly and Shura Council, which make up Egypt's upper and lower houses of parliament, respectively. Now the MB needs to ensure that those gains actually mean something.
During the transition of power in early 2011 from President Hosni Mubarak to the military, the SCAF issued a constitutional declaration that now governs the country. This declaration included a number of amendments to the country's 1971 constitution and left enough ambiguity for the military to adjust the rules as it saw fit. Now that Egypt is preparing to move out of this transition period, the MB wants to use its influence within the constitution-drafting process to orient Egypt toward a British-style system that would give more weight to the parliament, which the Islamists currently dominate. The MB would like a constitution that places clear limits on the military's authority and ensures civilian primacy in the government. Wary of further alienating secularists in the opposition, the Brotherhood has been cautious in airing its intentions on the religious clauses in the constitution. Still, a debate can be expected over the place of Islamic law in the country's legal fabric.
The military has made little secret of what it wants from the new constitution. SCAF-backed Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Selmi in November 2011 circulated for review a draft of "supra-constitutional principles" that essentially laid out the military's ideal constitution. The guidelines called for a constitution that granted the military exclusive control over its budget, gave the SCAF veto authority over the constitution-drafting process and, most critically, called on the military to defend the "constitutional legitimacy" of the state. After public backlash brought military crackdowns at the end of the year, the military backed off the al-Selmi document. Since then the military has probably sent a revised draft outlining its expectations to the MB leadership. However, the military is unlikely to compromise on its core principles in the creation of the constitution.
The military does not want exclusive control of the government; it would rather return to exercising authority behind the scenes. The SCAF also wants immunity from civilian political forces and for its economic assets to be protected. In contrast to the MB's preference for a strong parliament, the military would like the presidency to hold more power. Therefore, the military will bargain with the Muslim Brotherhood to ensure that whoever takes the president's seat is approved by and under the influence of the military. Since the president also appoints one-third of the members in the Shura Council, the SCAF envisions the presidency and a more balanced Shura Council acting as a check on the Islamist-filled parliament.
Notably, the MB has not fielded a presidential candidate of its own so far. The list of candidates the SCAF presumably favors includes Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister appointed by Mubarak and Egypt's former air force chief; Hossam Khairallah, who headed Egypt's general intelligence apparatus; Mansour Hasan, the head of the SCAF advisory council; and Omar Suleiman, a Mubarak-era intelligence chief who has yet to formally announce his candidacy.
Candidates with ties to the Mubarak regime will be a tough sell in the upcoming election, and it remains unclear which, if any, of these candidates (or any others who emerge later) could emerge victorious. The SCAF's ability to see its favored candidate through to the presidency stands at the center of negotiations between the MB and the SCAF over the political transition. Suspicions of election engineering could produce a major backlash, which the SCAF is unlikely to risk triggering without an understanding with the MB, the opposition faction that has significant numbers on the streets.
Most important, the military expects to carry out the role of commander-in-chief by using the presidency to dictate Egypt's national security and foreign policy. The creation of a constitutionally mandated National Security Council that institutionalizes the military's role is a possibility. The military will probably concede formal legislative authority on domestic issues to parliament, and it would likely bargain with the Muslim Brotherhood to have parliament appoint a new prime minister in exchange for facilitating the military's choice for president. The military will still want to maintain some form of veto power over the parliament's and Cabinet's decisions.
The Limits of Posturing
There is still a significant gap between the versions of the constitution pushed by the military and those promoted by the MB. The MB derives its leverage from its ability to pull supporters into the streets, creating a security crisis for the military, and its power to boycott, and thus discredit, the political transition.
Neither of these scenarios appears likely. The Brotherhood has achieved the first crucial step of simply entering the political process, managing to gain control of the parliament along the way. If the MB tried to use its popular support to reinvigorate street protests, it would risk a military crackdown and martial law. If the MB boycotted the process altogether, the military would appoint its own council and run the political transition as it saw fit. Both scenarios would enable the military to reassume control over the political transition and to sideline the MB. This is not a gamble that the Brotherhood wants to make.
Nor is this a scenario that the military is necessarily trying to create. It would be a major risk for the military to outright deny the MB a political presence and revert to a police state. The SCAF has been trying to avoid major protests that force the military to crack down and also to maintain foreign aid to keep the country's fragile economy afloat. At the same time, the military currently has greater authority than the MB to influence the terms of the political transition. The MB's authority in parliament does not yet mean anything in practice.
These factors constitute the grounds for an MB-SCAF bargain. Despite its reputation as the most organized and powerful opposition group in the country, the Muslim Brotherhood has had no other choice but to work closely with the military throughout the political transition. The MB's dealings with the military have cost it credibility, with an increasing number of opposition factions accusing the MB of being the "loyal opposition" and the military's stooge. While the MB has deliberately limited its presence on the streets as part of this broad understanding with the SCAF, the SCAF has advanced the political process, albeit piecemeal, and has not stood in the way of the MB's domination of parliament.
The MB Under Pressure
The MB's informal standing with the SCAF now needs to be formalized. The Islamist-controlled parliament's power with respect to the military will be determined in the election of the president, appointment of the prime minister and, most critically, the writing of the constitution. The MB is trying to rebuild its credibility by speaking out against the SCAF, but it is also threatening a crisis so it can push its demands in the constitutional process.
The Muslim Brotherhood is in the weaker position in this negotiation. The SCAF has reminded the MB publicly and privately that by pushing its demands too far it risks losing its political presence altogether. At the same time, the MB is facing rising pressure from liberal secularists, who are now intensifying their protest against the Islamists because they dominate the 100-member constitutional panel. (It was the Islamist-controlled parliament that recently passed a vote to appoint 50 of the panel members from among the parliament, with the rest coming from the outside.) Already, a number of liberal and leftist parties have pulled out of the constitutional panel to protest the heavy concentration of Islamists. These parties claim that the Islamists are not fully representative of Egyptian society and should not have overwhelming influence in drafting the country's post-Mubarak constitution.
Cairo's Administrative Court is expected to deliver a ruling April 10 on whether the current panel is even legal. The judiciary, which is still heavily influenced by the military and secularists, could mandate that a new panel be organized under different parameters to allow the inclusion of more non-Islamist members. Less than a week after the first panel was formed, the MB may already be on the verge of losing some of its clout in the drafting process.
While this debate unfolds, the SCAF can be expected to play the liberals, religious minorities and Islamists off each other, especially on the question of Article Two of the 1971 constitution, which states that Islam is the country's religion, Arabic is its official language and Sharia ("Islamic law") is its primary source of legislation. The SCAF can also use the debate over Article Two to exacerbate rifts between Salafists and moderate Islamists over whether the text should be altered to elevate the status of Sharia.
The Clock Is Ticking
The MB and the SCAF have three months to complete the political transition. Considering the number of contentious issues at play, there is no guarantee they will meet this deadline. The military could make some concessions but will not compromise on its core demand of maintaining authority behind the scenes; it is determined to keep any Islamist-dominated civilian government in check.
Though the SCAF does not hold a formal veto over the process, there are still a number of informal tactics the military can employ to influence the drafting of the constitution and the presidential election. The Muslim Brotherhood lacks the leverage at his point in the political transition to force the military's hand and does not want to derail its political project altogether. More threats can be expected, but the MB will end up making the bigger compromise to see the process through.
Read more: Negotiating the Final Stage of Egypt's Transition | Stratfor
Reply #191 on:
April 02, 2012, 12:29:44 PM »
Muslim Brotherhoods pick for President - spent years in jail under Mubarak. Not "particularly fond" of Israel but appears to support trade and the Camp David accords and may be less anti Israel than other potential Brotherhood party members:
****Zvi Bar'el / In Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood does not necessarily spell family
The Brotherhood's decision to name a presidential candidate is causing panic in the movement and throughout Egypt, but the military and the secular public have not yet had the final word.
By Zvi Bar'el
Tags: Egypt Muslim Brotherhood
Get Haaretz on iPhone Get Haaretz on Android The Muslim Brotherhood‘s decision to field Khairat al-Shater as a candidate for Egypt’s presidency has stirred panic not only throughout Israel, but throughout Egypt as well, and even within the Muslim Brotherhood itself.
Supposedly, the Muslim Brotherhood’s goal is to seize control of every outlet of the Egyptian government, from the parliament - in which the Brotherhood won forty seven percent of seats - to the constitutional drafting committee, which has a majority of religious members. Now, the actual presidency is in the Brotherhood's sights.
Khairat al-Shater, the Muslim Brotherhood's third-highest ranking member in Cairo, February 28, 2007.
Photo by: Reuters
Nevertheless, the decision to field a presidential candidate should not worry Israel as much as the Muslim Brotherhood‘s resounding victory in the elections should .It is still widely unknown what kind, and how much authority the president elect will have, as the constitution has yet to be drafted - a process which will no doubt cause even more political in-fighting.
However, even if a new president is granted a wide range of powers, (which would still be far less than those bestowed on former president Hosni Mubarak,) the Egyptian parliament already holds vast powers in terms of determining both domestic and foreign policy – powers that any president, whether or not he hails from the ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood – will have to reckon with. For example, should the Egyptian parliament wish to alter, or even cancel the Camp David agreements with Israel, it could do so even without a Brotherhood president.
Senior representatives of the Brotherhood, especially Khairat al-Shater, have made it clear that they are obligated to uphold the Camp David Accords, as well as every other agreement Egypt has made with foreign powers, including the agreements to sell oil and natural gas to Israel.
Al-Shater, a millionaire and successful businessman, has many talks with high-ranking U.S. officials under his belt, including talks with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, from whom he requested economic aid. Al-Shater, like his fellow Brotherhood leaders, is not particularly fond of Israel, but it is likely that his disdain for Israel is not as intense as that of Amr Moussa, former Arab League Secretary General, or any of the other 200-plus presidential candidates.
It is important to remember that in fact, veteran left-wingers led the criticism of Anwar Sadat’s signing the peace agreement, and secular intellectuals, journalists, actors, and lawyers were those who cemented the real foundation of the boycott of Israel.
Al-Shater’s stance illustrates the difficulties a religious party faces in trying to adopt an unbiased ideology. This is not surprising. The Brotherhood has influenced and intervened in Egyptian politics since its inception in 1928, and it cannot step aside and let others take away its political achievements. Since its activities were outlawed in 1954, the Brotherhood has not ceased its nationwide spread. The Brotherhood’s most impressive political victory came in 2005, under Mubarak, when the Brotherhood was able to win 88 seats in parliament. Throughout the years, the Brotherhood has been able to neutralize criticism for participating in politics, neglecting the Islamist vision - the ideal of creating one Muslim nation not cooperating with regimes considered to be heretical. Long before the most recent uprising, the Muslim Brotherhood has not had a problem cooperating with left-wing groups, youth movements, or liberal organizations.
The necessity to come to terms witht he Egyptian political reality is what pushed the Brotherhood into fielding a presidential candidate of its own. It was a difficult decision, and the fact that 52 of 108 members of the Shura Council voted against fielding a candidate only further illustrates the difficulty of such a move.
Mohammed Badie, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, is plagued not only by theological misgivings, but by tactical misgivings as well. Will fielding a Brotherhood candidate cause a rift in the movement? Is it impossible, at this point, to bolster the candidcay of Abdel Munim Abu al-Futuh, a member dismissed from party ranks after announcing his participation in the race? Perhaps Badie should unite the movement now, after learning of his high levels of support among young members of the Brotherhood?
Could the brotherhood also put a hamper on other religious candidates, like the leader of the Salafi movement?
Creating a rift among the different religious voices could bring failure to the movement. Could the fact that the Brotherhood changed directions despite its previous decision not to field a candidate erode the party’s image, portraying it as a party that cannot live up to its promises?
Despite these difficult questions, the Brotherhood decided to act like any other political movement, determining that it cannot neglect any branch of politics. Rumors have already spread in Egypt that the Brotherhood decided to field a candidate in an attempt to twist the arm of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which did not allow the Brotherhood to create a new government despite its requests, and showed intent in changing the composition of the constitutional drafting council.
However, the threat of a Brotherhood candidate does not necessarily frighten the Egyptian army, which still has the power to change the composition of the constitutional council, and influence the amount of authority a future president can hold. The army could allow the Brotherhood to create a new government, in return for letting go of its designs on the presidency.
The army could even allow the Brotherhood to run for the presidency, but insist on setting the precedent that the army will in fact determine the president’s political authority.
The army is not the only barrier. The opposition movement - secular parties and various public figures - have already started acting against appointments to the constitutional council, with some resigning from the council and threatening to draw up their own constitution. And of course, Tahrir Square has yet to have the final say.
Read this article in Hebrew.****
Reply #192 on:
April 03, 2012, 01:47:57 PM »
Egyptian Liberals Speak Out Against Brotherhood
April 3, 2012
Speaking out against religious extremism takes courage in today's Egypt, especially when extremists make up an absolute majority in Parliament. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) has translated the comments of two courageous Egyptian intellectuals who took to Arabic television to denounce the dominant Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi parties.
As Egyptian liberals, these two commentators have made it their goal to get the message out about the dangers of the Brotherhood and Egypt's Salafi movement.
Philosopher Murad Wahba told Egypt's CBC TV that the Muslim Brotherhood was the latest in a line of historic movements trying to bring Egypt back to religious extremism. These groups "all took us back to the context of the 13th century, and we have developed 'antibodies' against the 21st century. This is the real crisis of our society today," he said in a March 8 broadcast.
For Egyptian thinker Sayyid al-Qimni, the Brotherhood doesn't just reject modern society and the West. To him, there really isn't much distinction between political Islamists like the Brotherhood and Salafis, or even violent jihadists like al-Qaida.
Both the Brotherhood and the Salafis are willing to have "blood on the streets" to protect constitutional guarantees that Islam serves as the state religion and Islamic law as the source of all legislation. Their insistence on protecting state-sponsored discrimination against secular and Christian Egyptians is "ripping Egypt apart," Qimni lamented on Arabian Gulf channel Al-Arabiya TV on Feb. 23.
Both political Islamists and jihadists are willing to do whatever it takes to form an Islamic state ruled by strict religious law, with al-Qaida preferring open violence and the Brotherhood relying on manipulation of the political system, al-Qimni said.
"For one thing, they differ in degree, but not in their nature… some groups say they are conducting political activity, but at the same time declare that they reject democracy," he said. And when the Brotherhood says "that Man cannot make laws unto himself, since Allah alone makes laws – that is exactly what Al-Qaida and other such groups say."
Salafi leaders have confirmed their ideological closeness with the Brotherhood. "At the end of the day, we and the Brotherhood want the same thing. What is that?" Sheikh Ayman Shrieb, the leader of the Salafi al-Nour Party, asked in December. "Well, we want an Islamic state. Every vote we don't get, we hope it goes to the Brotherhood."
The Brotherhood and the Salafis differ in one other key area, al-Qimni said. The Brotherhood is notorious about making political expedient comments at one time and turning on a dime when the moment is right. "Therefore, the difference [between the Brotherhood and al-Qaida] is not in nature, but in timing – one moment they [the Brotherhood] say something, and the next moment they deny it," al-Qimni told viewers.
So while al-Qaida is open about its goal of an Islamic state, the political Islamists seem to have fooled everyone, even government officials, with their deceptive rhetoric.
The examples are abundant. The Brotherhood promised last year not to run a presidential candidate, to respect concerns about the forceful and total transition of the country into an Islamic Republic. But following the group's domination of parliamentary elections, the MB's No. 2 man has thrown his hat into the ring in next month's presidential race.
This flip-flop resembles the group's stance on parliamentary elections and on the independence of its political party from the Brotherhood.
Early last year, officials issued statements that the party would be "completely independent" of the movement, and pledged that the FJP would not contest more than a third of the seats in Egypt's first parliamentary election in more than 30 years. But the FJP is made up almost exclusively of Muslim Brotherhood leaders, and has acted as a tool of the Brotherhood to legalize its ideological platform.
The Brotherhood quickly changed its aim on winning seats in parliament. In early April, Mohsen Radi, a former lawmaker and Brotherhood leader, told Egypt's Al Masry Al Youm that the Brotherhood had raised its target "to secure 35 percent to 40 percent of parliamentary seats." Apparently sticking to earlier cautions, Radi reassured the Egyptian daily that "the Brotherhood will not run for more than 49 percent of parliamentary seats."
But less than a month later, the group's stated plans changed again—albeit ever-so-slightly. On April 30, the Brotherhood Shura Council acknowledged its plan for the FJP to contest half of Egypt's parliamentary seats. In a public display of confidence, Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie also stated that if his group was to contest all available seats, it would be able to win upwards of 75 percent.
Egypt is going to need more voices like Wahba and al-Qimni to remind their countrymen about the promise of last year's peaceful revolution that appears to be fading rapidly.
MB courts Washington
Reply #193 on:
April 10, 2012, 11:45:54 AM »
MB Charm Offensive Courts Washington
April 9, 2012
They represent the new political power in Cairo, and given their performances in public events in Washington last week, the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party has the art of doublespeak nailed.
At two events, four FJP members spoke about dialogue and respect for the West, in comments often at odds with the party line in their home country. They sidestepped controversial issues and tailored their message of dialogue to exclude the party's extreme positions during an appearance Wednesday at Georgetown University and Thursday at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
They stuck to that theme despite aggressive questions which came mostly from Egyptian secularists.
"We are here to start building bridges with the United States," said Sondos Asem, the senior editor of the Brotherhood website Ikhwanweb.com and the editor of the group's Twitter account. She spoke about the FJP's embrace of "Freedom, Human Dignity, Justice, and Democracy," as well as her own experiences of being considered a security risk under the Mubarak regime.
But the website she edits, Ikhwanonline.com, has previously burned those bridges with hateful and anti-Western rhetoric. In a statement condemning Osama bin Laden's death at the hands of American special forces, an article published by Ikhwanonline condoned attacks on foreign forces occupying Muslim lands, including American troops. The article states, "so long as occupation remains resistance is legitimate and it [the Muslim Brotherhood] calls on the United States, NATO and the EU to end the occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq, and recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people."
Other articles on her website hail violence and terrorism. One celebrates the life and death of Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin, while another claims that America actually creates terrorist states to have reasons to invade the Muslim world.
Abdul Mawgoud Dardery, who serves on the FJP's foreign relations committee, told the Georgetown audience about his "dream" for a new Egypt. "We have a dream" about providing Egyptians with the necessities and "speaking truth to power," he said, making reference to Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech.
But Dardery dodged questions about previous comments he had made about Israel and the United States looting Egypt, claiming that what really wanted was a change in American foreign policy. "We cannot forget the Iraq War," he said, while blaming the American Islamophobia for Middle Eastern hostility towards the West. "It was a wrong decision of oil vs. democracy."
FJP members Hussein El-Kazzaz and Khaled Al-Qazzaz defended the group's flip-flopping on political issues, like putting forward a presidential candidate after promising the opposite. The decision to promote a Brotherhood candidate was taken after the military told them they were becoming too powerful. El-Kazzaz said, whereas the group turned down a previous candidate who did not conform to their internal "democratic decision-making process."
When pressed by Professor John Esposito, a strong Islamist sympathizer who suggested the group might have proposed the candidate as a response to rising popularity of a rival Salafi presidential pretender, Al-Qazzaz claimed that the group did not analyze other candidates and wasn't interested in controlling the whole political system. The group, which won 47 percent of the vote, was looking for a president "who would support democracy" even at the cost of the party's own Islamist agenda, he claimed.
On the issue of enforcing Shariah law and on making Egypt an Islamic state, Dardery said that the party was more interested in running the nation according to Islamic principles rather than specific laws.
But when a secular Egyptian activist pressed the speakers about statements supporting a renewed Caliphate, Al-Qazzaz called the term a "cliché" and said that no one should object to a Muslim super state that would be like the European Union.
Khairat el-Shater, the Brotherhood's recently anointed presidential candidate, is far more committed to the concept. He told a panel of ultraconservative Salafi clerics and scholars Tuesday night "that Shariah is his top and final goal and that he would work on forming a group of religious scholars to help parliament achieve this goal."
In response to other questions, the group claimed it would be transparent about funding, that the FJP was creating a think tank, and that the Brotherhood thought that it was okay for people to criticize Islam, despite statements to the contrary from the Brotherhood.
Deceptive statements like these were also common at Thursday's event, cosponsored by the Carnegie Institute, the Swiss Government, and the Heinrich Boell Stiftung.
A reporter asked about the Brotherhood's long history of radical rhetoric and pro-violent jihad ideology during the Carnegie event, during a session entitled "Building New Regimes after the Uprisings." The West simply misunderstood these terms, Dardery said. Jihad, he said, was an internal process and even eating was a form of jihad. Shariah didn't mean applying harsh religious law, but rather is about being inspired by the principles of Islam. He claimed that these interpretations were provided by the Brotherhood in its educational materials and that he was a proud "product of the movement."
But document after document from the Brotherhood's educational materials suggests the opposite. In his book Peace in Islam, MB founder Hassan al-Banna called violent jihad, "one of the best virtues with which to gain the pleasure of Allah, the High and the Blessed, and death in His cause will realise glory in this life and in the hereafter. From this obligation no one is exempt except for those who are incapable of fighting, but they must equip others or guard their families when they are away, if they are able to do so."
In another classic text, Jihad is the Way, former Supreme Leader Mustafa Mashhur elaborates on why violence is the only way to liberate Muslim lands. "Jihad for Allah is not limited to the specific region of the Islamic countries, since the Muslim homeland is one and is not divided, and the banner of Jihad has already been raised in some of its parts, and it shall continue to be raised, with the help of Allah, until every inch of the land of Islam will be liberated, the State of Islam will be established," Mashhur wrote.
During the same session, Tunisian Islamist Sahbi Atig claimed that his party wanted a moderate Islam along the lines of Islamists like Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who advocated benefiting from the West in ways that don't contradict Islam.
Qaradawi, a Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader, is considered so radical that he was recently banned from entering France. In his famous book, Priorities of the Islamic Movement in the Coming Phase, Qaradawi stated that spiritual growth should motivate Muslims to fulfill their Islamic obligations, like "liberating Muslim territories from all aggression or non-Muslim control" and "reinstating the Islamic caliphate system to the leadership anew as required by Sharia."
Al-Qazzaz glossed over FJP radicalism during a session on "Writing a New Constitution." Concerning the constitution's infamous 2nd article, which makes Islam the state religion of Egypt, al-Qazzaz claimed that "all Egyptians agree on this article" because it is a part of Egypt's identity.
That claim ignores Egypt's current reality on the ground. Secular parties have pulled out of the Islamist dominated constitutional committee, with a leading secular politician stating, "We are going to boycott this committee, and we are going to withdraw and let them make an Islamic constitution. We are going to continue struggling for a secular Egypt in the streets."
Al-Qazzaz and other speakers in the two-days of events also failed to mention the Brotherhood's threat of "blood on the streets" if the new constitutional committee did not make Islam the state religion, despite promises to be inclusive when making the new governing document.
When asked whether Egypt would maintain its treaty obligations, al-Qazzaz made a veiled threat about nullifying the nation's peace treaty with the Jewish state. "We have a right to review all treaties," al-Qazzaz said, claiming that it was a right of the Egyptian people to review treaties formed by the dictatorship, as they weren't necessarily binding. That clearly contradicts what the group said during the election process.
Stratfor: Egypt's Elections and the Civil-Military balance of power
Reply #194 on:
May 21, 2012, 04:02:02 PM »
VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images
Egyptian presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh (R) at the World Economic Forum on Jan. 27
Egypt's presidential election will be held May 23-24. After several weeks of campaigning, candidate disqualifications, changes in the lineup of competitors and an attempt to suspend the election, two front-runners have emerged in the race. Former Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa is the best hope for the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), while Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh has emerged as the Islamist candidate with the best chance at victory.
The outcome of the election is far from certain, but one implication is clear: The Muslim Brotherhood (MB), which currently dominates the country's parliament, is not likely to control both the legislative and executive branches. Thus, the SCAF will have some room to maneuver in managing the country's tenuous political transition during the drafting of the constitution.
The military and the MB are the two principal centers of power in post-Mubarak Egypt. The transition from a single-party to a multi-party system -- triggered by former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's downfall -- centers on the struggle between these two players. Since the MB emerged as the largest bloc in parliament, the presidential election (and the drafting of a new constitution, which is stalled because of a dispute over the composition of the constituent assembly) is important for the SCAF in its struggle to retain power.
From the SCAF's perspective, it is essential that the MB not control both the legislative and executive branches of government. In fact, the SCAF hopes to use the presidency to keep the MB-dominated parliament in check. The council achieved a partial victory when it engineered the disqualification of the MB's star candidate, Khairat el-Shater. The MB replaced el-Shater with a much weaker candidate: Mohammed Mursi, head of the MB’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party. This is why the presidential contest is now a race between Moussa and Aboul Fotouh. The SCAF would score a complete victory if Moussa (who, despite his independent-mindedness, is a product of the Egyptian establishment) becomes president.
The presidency would be an important tool for the SCAF in its efforts to keep an MB-dominated legislature in check, because the president appoints one-third of the upper house of parliament. The parliament has not yet assumed any significant powers, and the SCAF hopes that having its preferred man in the presidency and an executive with sufficient powers under a new constitution will allow it to limit the MB's policymaking authority as the largest bloc in parliament (and thus in the prime minister's position and the Cabinet).
Polls conducted by a state-owned think tank show Moussa in the lead, but several factors could lead Aboul Fotouh to an electoral victory. First, many respect him as a non-partisan national figure, and he is not regarded as a typical Islamist. Aboul Fotouh has attracted a broad range of supporters including liberals, Salafists, Coptic Christians and women, and many MB members likely will vote for him. Furthermore, many liberals and secularists do not want to see the SCAF retain power with Moussa as president.
However, this does not mean Aboul Fotouh will win. Given the state of relations between Aboul Fotouh and the MB, the Islamist vote could be split, especially in the election's first round in which many MB voters likely will vote for Mursi, especially since the MB has carried out an aggressive campaign for its candidate. As a result, Moussa could clear the 50 percent requirement to prevent a second round, which is what the SCAF would prefer. If a second round is triggered, the race likely will be between Moussa and Aboul Fotouh, in which case the Islamist vote likely will consolidate behind Aboul Fotouh and potentially give him a victory.
For Moussa to win, the Islamist split in the first round will be an important factor. Numerous other factors are working in his favor, including support from the SCAF and a large number of business elite, as well as foreign support. He is not as tainted with Mubarak's legacy as some others, such as former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman -- who was disqualified from the election -- and former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, who remains in the presidential race. Although Moussa served as Mubarak's foreign minister for a decade, his portfolio had almost nothing to do with the internal suppression the regime practiced. It became well known that Moussa was not completely in line with the Mubarak government in 2001, when he left the government to become the secretary-general of the Arab League. This position allowed Moussa to champion pan-Arab issues and the Palestinian cause while building his image as an elder statesman.
From SCAF's point of view, these are good attributes because they want someone with whom they have dealt before to get elected. Of course, Moussa's lack of military background and his independent streak will mean that the military will have to negotiate with him. Moussa will also need to maintain distance from the SCAF if he takes office to avoid the appearance that he follow's the military's every order.
The SCAF's Strong Position
Even if Aboul Fotouh wins the election, it will not pose a major problem for the SCAF. Although the Islamist candidate would push for greater democratization in Egypt, he is far more pragmatic than the MB and is unlikely to make any radical anti-establishment moves. An Aboul Fotouh presidency likely would come with a lot of bargaining and compromises, with a focus on managing the faltering economy -- a key issue for any future president. More important, Aboul Fotouh is a way for the SCAF to keep the Islamists divided, given that he is a rallying point for anti-MB Islamist forces (to both the right and left of the MB on the political spectrum), though he will need to balance between the expectations of Islamists and non-Islamists should he become president.
Whoever wins the presidential election, it will be to the SCAF's advantage (albeit to varying degrees) in its effort to keep the MB's power in check. Although the election likely will occur as scheduled, last-minute disruptions caused by the SCAF issuing a constitutional declaration about presidential powers in relation to parliament are always possible. The SCAF wants to be in a good position to influence the creation of the new constitution, which will be the main event in the political struggle between the military and the civilian political forces in Cairo after the election.
Read more: Egypt's Election and the Civil-Military Balance of Power | Stratfor
Morsi and the MB
Reply #195 on:
June 25, 2012, 04:54:16 PM »
Good to see that Morsi has spoken of respecting Egypt's international agreements (a.k.a. the peace deal with Israel).
Also the impending disaster concerning insufficient food imports may serve to focus the collective MB mind.
That said, its worth remembering things like this and much, much more:
The Evils of the Muslim Brotherhood: Evidence Keeps Mounting
by Raymond Ibrahim
Special to IPT News
June 25, 2012
Be the first of your friends to like this.
Egypt's longtime banned Muslim Brotherhood—the parent organization of nearly every subsequent Islamist movement, including al-Qaeda—has just won the nation's presidency, in the name of its candidate, Muhammad Morsi. That apathy reigns in the international community, when once such news would have been deemed devastating, is due to the successful efforts of subversive Muslim apologists in the West who portray the Brotherhood as "moderate Islamists"—forgetting that such a formulation is oxymoronic, since to be "Islamist," to be a supporter of draconian Sharia, is by definition to be immoderate. Obama administration officials naturally took it a step further, portraying the Brotherhood as "largely secular" and "pluralistic."
Back in the real world, evidence that the Brotherhood is just another hostile Islamist group bent on achieving world domination through any means possible is overwhelming. Here are just three examples that recently surfaced, all missed by the Western media, and all exposing the Brotherhood as hostile to "infidels" (non-Muslims) in general, hostile to the Christians in their midst (the Copts) in particular, and on record calling on Muslims to lie and cheat during elections to empower Sharia:
Anti-Infidel: At a major conference supporting Muhammad Morsi—standing on a platform with a big picture of Morsi smiling behind him and with any number of leading Brotherhood figures, including Khairat el-Shater, sitting alongside—a sheikh went on a harangue, quoting Koran 9:12, a favorite of all jihadis, and calling all those Egyptians who do not vote for Morsi—the other half of Egypt, the secularists and Copts who voted for Shafiq—"resisters of the Sharia of Allah," and "infidel leaders" whom true Muslims must "fight" and subjugate.
The video of this sheikh was shown on the talk show of Egyptian commentator Hala Sarhan, who proceeded to exclaim "This is unbelievable! How is this talk related to the campaign of Morsi?!" A guest on her show correctly elaborated: "Note his [the sheikh's] use of the word 'fight'—'fight the infidel leaders' [Koran 9:12]; this is open incitement to commit violence against anyone who disagrees with them…. how can such a radical sheikh speak such words, even as [Brotherhood leaders like] Khairat el-Shater just sits there?" Nor did the Brotherhood denounce or distance itself from this sheikh's calls to jihad.
Anti-Christian: It is precisely because of these sporadic outbursts of anti-infidel rhetoric that it is not farfetched to believe that Morsi himself, as some maintain, earlier boasted that he would "achieve the Islamic conquest (fath) of Egypt for the second time, and make all Christians convert to Islam, or else pay the jizya."
Speaking of Christians, specifically the minority Copts of Egypt, in an article titled "The Muslim Brotherhood Asks Why Christians Fear Them?!" secularist writer Khaled Montasser, examining the Brotherhood's own official documents and fatwas, shows exactly why. According to Montasser, in the Brotherhood publication "The Call [da'wa]," issue #56 published in December 1980, prominent Brotherhood figure Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah al-Khatib decreed several anti-Christian measures, including the destruction of churches and the prevention of burying unclean Christian "infidels" anywhere near Muslim graves. Once again, this view was never retracted by the Brotherhood. As Montasser concludes, "After such fatwas, Dr. Morsi and his Brotherhood colleagues ask and wonder—"Why are the Copts afraid?!"
Lying, Stealing, and Cheating to Victory: In a recent article titled "The Islamist Group's Hidden Intentions," appearing in Watani, the author Youssef Sidhom exposes a document "which carries the logos of both the Muslim Brotherhood and its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party." Written by the Deputy to the Supreme Guide, Khairat el-Shater and addressed "to all the Brotherhood branches in the governorates," the memo calls on Muslims to cheat, block votes, and "resort to any method that can change the vote" to ensure that Morsi wins, which, of course, he just did—amidst many accusations of electoral fraud. El-Shater concluded his memo by saying, "You must understand, brothers, that our interest lies wherever there is the Sharia of Allah, and this can only be by preserving the [MB] group and preserving Islam."
In short, the Muslim Brotherhood has not changed; only Western opinion of it has. As it was since its founding in 1928, the group is committed to empowering and spreading Sharia law—a law that preaches hate for non-Muslim "infidels," especially Islam's historic nemesis, Christianity, and allows anything, from lying to cheating, to make Islam supreme. Now that the Brotherhood has finally achieved power, the world can prepare to see such aspects on a grand scale.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum
Egypt wants Jerusalem for its capital
Reply #196 on:
June 25, 2012, 10:32:14 PM »
MB preaching destruction of Israel after election
Reply #197 on:
June 28, 2012, 09:59:23 AM »
Exclusive: Muslim Brotherhood Preaching Israel Destruction After Election
June 27, 2012
"Every Muslim will be asked about the Zionists' usurpation of al-Aqsa Mosque. Why did he not seek to recover it, and wage Jihad in His way? Did he not care about the fatwa of the ulema [scholars] of the Muslims, 'Jihad of self and money to recover al Aqsa is a duty on every Muslim?'" asked Mohamed Badie, General Guide of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, in a June 14th speech translated exclusively by the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
The speech from the Brotherhood's Ikhwan Online website is evidence that the group has not moderated its position even an iota, despite assurances to Western audiences.
"How happy would be the Muslims if all Muslim rulers made the Palestinian cause a pivotal issue, around which Muslims, rulers and the ruled, would line up," he stated. According to Badie, they would ally to make "the sole goal for all of them the recovery of al Aqsa Mosque, freeing it from the filth of the Zionists, and imposing Muslim rule throughout beloved Palestine."
"The Lord of Glory has threatened these murdering Zionists criminals with a penalty of a kind which operates in this world before the Hereafter, he said, before referencing a Quranic quote calling Jews "apes, despised."
"We say to our people and our brothers in Palestine (all of Palestine): Unity, unity, persistence, persistence, reconciliation, reconciliation, and patience, patience. Make your motto and your starting point be in confronting the Zionists," he added.
Badie also made reference to the role of Hamas-tied convoys, in aiding in the effort to eliminate the Jewish state.
"Know that there stands by you every sincere Muslim mujahid from all over the world, and all the honorable nationalists. Do not presume that you are alone in the field, but there stands at your side and with you every free honorable noble man who rejects injustice, murder and bloodshed," he said, before stating, "Not far off are the Freedom flotillas which will come to you from various States, and Miles of Smiles which touched you from all over the world."
The most recent convoy by Miles of Smiles, which is linked to the U.S. terrorist designated, British organization Interpal, was led by Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood head Hammam Saeed. Hamas' Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called that convoy "the declaration of victory over the siege and the declaration of the enemy's strategic failure in Gaza."
The inability of the Muslim Brotherhood to change its rhetoric, leads to questions about how Egyptian President-elect Mohamed Morsi will serve to moderate the Islamist group's beliefs and behavior.
Much has been written about how the election of the Muslim Brotherhood candidate isn't a threat to U.S. and Israeli interests in the region, or even to Egyptian society. To take just one example, John Kerry, chairman of the Senate foreign Relations Committee, warned against "prejudging" the Muslim Brotherhood as it prepared to take power in Egypt.
"In our discussions," declared Kerry on Sunday, "Mr. Morsi committed to protecting fundamental freedoms, including women's rights, minority rights, the right to free expression and assembly, and he said he understood the importance of Egypt's post-revolutionary relationships with America and Israel."
But Morsi was singing the same tune as other Muslim Brotherhood leaders less than two months ago.
In a speech obtained and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), and aired originally on Egypt's Misr 25 TV, he advocated violent jihad and the renewal of an Islamic theocracy in Egypt.
Morsi promised the Quran would be the new constitution of the nation, and then led the crowd in chants of the Muslim Brotherhood's motto. "The Quran is our constitution," "jihad is our path," and "death for the sake of Allah is our most lofty aspiration," the jubilant crowd repeated after Morsi.
"Above all – Allah is our goal... The shari'a, then the shari'a, and finally, the shari'a. This nation will enjoy blessing and revival only through the Islamic shari'a. I take an oath before Allah and before you all that regardless of the actual text [of the constitution]... Allah willing, the text will truly reflect [the shari'a], as will be agreed upon by the Egyptian people, by the Islamic scholars, and by legal and constitutional experts," he added.
That's the same message of violence and religious extremism that the General Guide Badie has been preaching for years.
President Obama issued a press release upon Morsi's victory. "We look forward to working together with President-elect Morsi and the government he forms, on the basis of mutual respect, to advance the many shared interests between Egypt and the United States."
That is the sort of statement governments routinely release after elections. The problem, of course, is that talk about "mutual respect" and "shared interests" may very well end up being nothing but empty talk, and that calling something a democracy does not make it so.
Morsi to work for US freeing the blind sheikh
Reply #198 on:
June 30, 2012, 10:29:40 AM »
Hey hey! Ho ho! Pyramids have got to go!
Reply #199 on:
July 12, 2012, 01:21:46 PM »
Calls by Islamists to Destroy Egyptian Pyramids Begin
Tue, July 10, 2012
by: Raymond Ibrahim
According to several reports in the Arabic media, prominent Muslim clerics have begun to call for the demolition of Egypt’s Great Pyramids—or, in the words of Saudi Sheikh Ali bin Said al-Rabi‘i, those “symbols of paganism,” which Egypt’s Salafi party has long planned to cover with wax. Most recently, Bahrain’s “Sheikh of Sunni Sheikhs” and President of National Unity, Abd al-Latif al-Mahmoud, called on Egypt’s new president, Muhammad Morsi, to “destroy the Pyramids and accomplish what the Sahabi Amr bin al-As could not.”
This is a reference to the Muslim Prophet Muhammad’s companion, Amr bin al-As and his Arabian tribesmen, who invaded and conquered Egypt circa 641. Under al-As and subsequent Muslim rule, many Egyptian antiquities were destroyed as relics of infidelity. While most Western academics argue otherwise, according to early Muslim writers, the great Library of Alexandria itself—deemed a repository of pagan knowledge contradicting the Koran—was destroyed under bin al-As’s reign and in compliance with Caliph Omar’s command.
However, while book-burning was an easy activity in the 7th century, destroying the mountain-like pyramids and their guardian Sphinx was not—even if Egypt’s Medieval Mamluk rulers “de-nosed” the latter during target practice (though popular legend still attributes it to a Westerner, Napoleon).
Now, however, as Bahrain’s “Sheikh of Sheikhs” observes, and thanks to modern technology, the pyramids can be destroyed. The only question left is whether the Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt is “pious” enough—if he is willing to complete the Islamization process that started under the hands of Egypt’s first Islamic conqueror.
Nor is such a course of action implausible. History is laden with examples of Muslims destroying their own pre-Islamic heritage—starting with Islam’s prophet Muhammad himself, who destroyed Arabia’s Ka‘ba temple, transforming it into a mosque.
Asking “What is it about Islam that so often turns its adherents against their own patrimony?” Daniel Pipes provides several examples, from Medieval Muslims in India destroying their forefathers’ temples, to contemporary Muslims destroying their non-Islamic heritage in Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Malaysia, and Tunisia.
Currently, in what the International Criminal Court is describing as a possible “war crime,” Islamic fanatics are destroying the ancient heritage of the city of Timbuktu in Mali—all to Islam’s triumphant war cry, “Allahu Akbar!”
Much of this hate for their own pre-Islamic heritage is tied to the fact that, traditionally, Muslims do not identify with this or that nation, culture, heritage, or language, but only with the Islamic nation—the Umma.
Accordingly, while many Egyptians—Muslims and non-Muslims alike—see themselves as Egyptians, Islamists have no national identity, identifying only with Islam’s “culture,” based on the “sunna” of the prophet and Islam’s language, Arabic. This sentiment was clearly reflected when the former Leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Muhammad Akef, declared “the hell with Egypt,” indicating that the interests of his country are secondary to Islam’s.
It is further telling that such calls are being made now—immediately after a Muslim Brotherhood member became Egypt’s president. In fact, the same reports discussing the call to demolish the last of the Seven Wonders of the Word, also note that Egyptian Salafis are calling on Morsi to banish all Shias and Baha’is from Egypt.
In other words, Morsi’s call to release the Blind Sheikh, a terrorist mastermind, may be the tip of the iceberg in coming audacity. From calls to legalize Islamic sex-slave marriage to calls to institute “morality police” to calls to destroy Egypt’s mountain-like monuments, under Muslim Brotherhood tutelage, the bottle has been uncorked, and the genie unleashed in Egypt.
Will all those international institutions, which make it a point to look the other way whenever human rights abuses are committed by Muslims, lest they appear “Islamophobic,” at least take note now that the Great Pyramids appear to be next on Islam’s hit list, or will the fact that Muslims are involved silence them once again—even as those most ancient symbols of human civilization are pummeled to the ground?
Raymond Ibrahim, a Middle East and Islam specialist, is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum. A widely published author, he is best known for his book, The Al Qaeda Reader . Mr. Ibrahim's dual-background—born and raised in the U.S. by Egyptian parents —has provided him with unique advantages to understanding of the Western and Middle Eastern mindsets.
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