What after the Pope’s visit to the UAE?

 

Pope:Azhar

Pope Francis and A-Azhar Grand Imam in UAE

“Your family could not find an Arabic name for you?” My teacher looked at me with disdain as he was trying to prnounce my “foreign” name, “Nervana.”

Moving to a public school in Cairo from a private nun-run Catholic school was challenging for me. I shall never forget the disdainful looks of my Arabic and religious studies teacher, especially when he knew I had previously been in a Catholic Italian school. He had a particular issue with Catholic schools. The idea of allowing nuns to run schools, and display the cross on their walls was abhorrent for him, in spite of the fact all those schools were following the same national curriculm as other public schools in Egypt.

I could not help but remember my old heated debates with my schoolteacher as I eagerly followed Pope Francis’ visit to the United Arab Emirates. Only those who have encountered the ideology of extremism and the doctrine of hatred can truly appreciate the religious significance of the Papal visit.

My teacher described Catholic schools as “satanic” tools used by “the colonizers” to fight Islam and brainwash Muslims. Even hospitals, such as the Greek and Italian hospitals in Cairo were not immune to his criticism. “Patient admitted for treament and discharged accepting the cross ,” he used to say.  The collision between him and I was almost regular; he used to label me as “argumentative” because I simply rejected his theory that accepting other faiths could weaken one’s Islamic faith.

My personal experience was not an isolated incident. I encountered many similar cases. Moreover, in 2017, Egyptian writer Fatima Naoot openly described how a  Salafi Sheikh mocked “Christian schools.” Over the years, I realised how my teacher’s views were not eccentric, but common among many followers of political Islam.

But it took me a while to understand the mindset of Islamists and their reasons for hating Catholism in particular. After endless debates with many Islamists, and listening to their lectures, I realized how Islamists divide Christians into two broad sections:

First, there are the Eastern Christians from Muslim-majority countries, whom they consider as a minority that should accept Islamic laws____even with force.

Second, there are the Western Christians, or “the Crusaders and Colonizers,” who are working to “undermine Islam.” Islamists consider Catholics as competitors who are trying to weaken the faith of native Muslims and prevent Islam from spreading globally.

To back their claims, Islamists cite a long history of conflict between medieval Muslim caliphates and their rival European Christian kingdoms, particulary in Andalusia. Furthermore, Islamists blurred the theological differences between Catholism, Visigothic Christianity, and Arianism, and simply divided the Christians of Spain into “monolithics” – “good Christians” who pledged loyalty to the Muslim conquerors, and the “bad trinity worshippers,” who opposed Muslim rule.

Islamist scholars, such as Egyptian Mohamed Emara, portrays the invasion of Andalusia as an effort to save the “monolithic local Christians” from the tyranny of their rulers who followed the ‘Trinity doctrine.”  The goal of such ludicrious historical revisionism was to create the impression that the “true people of the Bible” had vanished following the victory of Catholicism in Andalusia and elsewhere, and that the new generations of Christians were simply total infidels.

Such historical context is crucial to understand the religious ramifications of the Pope’s visit to Arabia. Regrettably, we have two competing versions of Islam. One  that indulges in in hatred and cynicism towards other faiths, and another that is willing to move on and embrace a future of harmony and tolerance, as demonstrated in the UAE’s Year of Tolerance and the Pope’s visit.

But to defeat the hate doctrine, the UAE cannot just rely on its domestic front; it also needs to spread concepts of tolerance and harmony among its allies___ particulary Egypt. Despite uprooting Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt is still struggling with a deeply entrenchened social Islamism.

Egypt’s Grand Imam of al-Azhar was also invited to Abu-Dhabi, and he signed the historic Human Fraternity Document with Pope Francis. Therefore, he has now a duty to implement this document in Egypt.

Egypt is currently debating many constitutional amendments. Most observers are concerned about the proposed extension of presidential terms. However, the civil nature of the Egyptian state, and who should guard it are crucial aspects that are currently absent from the debate. The current constitution entrenches the rule of Al-Azhar, as mentioned in both its second and seventh chapters. Such rule should be clarified in any new amendment. We also need to amalgamate the signed Fraternity document in the proposed amendments.

Let’s be honest, no army can be the guardian of Egypt’s civilian state; only reformation of religious thoughts and the adoption of concepts of fraternity, tolerance, and harmony can stop Islamism from creeping into Egypt’s political scene again. It is about time for future generations to have different teachers than the one I had. Egypt needs an army of teachers, preachers, and social servants who can teach tolerance instead of hate, nurture harmony instead of divisions. If Egypt and the UAE can work together, follow through from the Pope’s visit and implement the Fraternity document, their rival Islamists stand no chance of winning anywhere else in the Middle East.

An Arabic version was earlier published in Al-Hurra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Egypt, Middle East, UAE | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This Week in Egypt: Week 7-2019 ( Feb 11-17)

Top Headlines

  • Egypt approves bill that means president Sisi could remain in office until 2034
  • Egyptian troops hit by deadly jihadist attack in Sinai
  • Several Egyptian troops killed or wounded in North Sinai
  • Egypt thwarts bomb attack on a security force in Giza
  • Egypt cuts benchmark rate for first time in nearly a year
  • Egypt condemns suicide bombing that targeted Iran’s Revolutionary Guard
  • Egypt: no one should obstruct use of East Med resources 
  • UAE’s Dana Gas to drill second largest Egyptian natural gas field

 

Main Headlines

Monday

 Tuesday

  • Three policemen are sentenced to three years in prison over beating prisoner to death
  • An Egypt court ‘temporarily’ removes nearly 300 people from terrorism list

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Reports

Good Read 

From Twitter

 

Plus

  • Travel guides will tell you to skip Cairo, but the Egyptian capitalis a fascinating city bursting with amazing food and culture
  • Egypt’s National libraryin Cairo, the Middle East’s oldest library, has been restored to its former glory with financial support from the United Arab Emirates
Posted in Diary of Aak, Egypt | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This Week in Egypt: Week 6-2019 ( Feb 4-10)

Top Headlines 

  • Al-Azhar’s Imam calls on Muslims in the Middle East to ’embrace’ Christians
  • Pope and grand imam sign historic pledge of fraternity in UAE
  • Egypt’s Sisi is elected new chairman of African Union
  • Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan discuss Renaissance Dam issue in Addis Ababa
  • Strongly felt but muted opposition to Egypt’s constitution changes
  • Eight Turkish police are suspended after deporting Egyptian fugitive to Cairo 
  • An Egyptian court orders release of satirist blogger Shady Abu Zeid

 

Pope:Azhar

Main Headlines

Monday

 

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Reports

Good Read

  • Why FGM and population growth go hand in hand. Aleksander Bodiroza

And

  • Full Text of Abu Dhabi Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together
  • Joint Statement on Syria

 

From Twitter

 

Plus

Cairo’s Hidden Gems: The animal museum

Posted in Diary of Aak, Egypt | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Re-Blog: All what you want to know about the Egyptian new counter-terrorism unit

This blog is crucial to understand Egypt’s new counter-terrorism unit. Enjoy!

egyptiandefenseblog

Unit Formation

Unit-888 counter-terrorism badge

In July 2017, the Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces issued instructions to establish a semi-special forces unit to participate in new tasks as combat terrorism, which considered as kind of atypical wars & urban areas operations, Also, one of the objectives of the unit is to work as a nearby reserve for the general command of Egyptian Armed Forces to participate in the tasks outside the country and inside to secure the cities, provinces, & desert areas in the south and west of the country

The unit is attached to Rapid deployment forces (RDF) of Egyptian Army, and it consists in its formation of Thunderbolts, Border guards, reconnaissance units, Infantry, 25th special operations group of the Egyptian civilian police with total number of 125 personnel, in addition to paratroopers company operating as a reserve to the unit in addition to technical and administrative units

View original post 459 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This Week in Egypt: Week 5-2019 ( Jan 28-Feb 3)

Top Headlines 

  • France’s Macron: Egypt’s rights record seen as worse than under Mubarak
  • A group of Egyptian lawmakers seek to extend El-Sisi term to at least 2024
  • Egypt’s military kills 8 ‘extremely dangerous’ terroristsin the Western desert
  • British woman jailed over painkillers is freed from Egyptian prison after presidential pardon
  • Egypt Unveils Pharaonic Tomb With 50 Mummies

 

Main Headlines

 Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

  • Human Rights Advocates were accused of spreading ‘false news’ after meeting with Macron
  • Egyptian-Kuwaiti joint military drills kick off in Kuwait
  • Egypt’s garment exports hit $1.5 billion in 2018: Garment council
  • Alexandria deputy government is sentenced to 12 years over bribes

Friday

  • Egypt officials discuss future of Downtown government buildings in light of new capital move
  • Egypt’s stock market gains 43.7 billion dollars in January
  • Egypt stops first desert locust attack on Sudan border this year

Saturday

Sunday

  • A group of Egyptian lawmakers seek to extend El-Sisi term to at least 2024
  • Egypt’s short-term dollar debt drops to $14 billion
  • Hamas’s Haniya visits Egypt for talks on Israel truce on truce with Israel
  • Grand Imam of al-Azhar Ahmad al-Tayyeb to hold a historic inter-faith summit with Pope Francis in in Abu Dhabi

Reports

From Twitter

 

Photo Gallery

Posted in Diary of Aak, Egypt | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Twitter Thread: Lebanon’s New Government

Lebanon finally has a new government. Lebanese factions have agreed to form a new government of national unity, ending nearly nine months of bickering.

Here is a twitter thread about the details and implications of its formation.

Nasrallah

Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah

 

Posted in Lebanon, Twitter Thread | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

This Week in Egypt: Week 4 ( Jan 21-27)

Top Headlines

  • IMF clears way for $2 billion loan payment to Egypt
  • France’s Macron visits Egypt amid defense and rights concerns
  • Sudan’s Bashir lands in Cairo for talks with Egypt’s Sisi
  • Islamic State says it attacked soldiers, captured Christian in Sinai
  • Egyptian Court postpones hearing on lawsuit aiming to eliminate presidential term limits
  • Egypt TV host is jailed for interviewing a gay man
  • Sexual harasser in Cairo kills man who defended victim

macron

President Macron visits Abu-Simbel Temple

 Main Headlines

Monday

  • 50,000 state employees to be reassigned to Egypt’s New Administrative Capital in 2020
  • Egyptian Court postpones hearing on lawsuit aiming to eliminate presidential term limits
  • Egypt’s Foreign Minister and his Russian counter-part discussed in a phone call various bilateral and regional issues.
  • Egypt TV host Mohamed al-Ghiety is jailed for interviewing a gay man

 Tuesday

  • Five terrorists were killed by Egyptian police in Qalioubiya shootout
  • Egyptian Armed Forces say 59 takfiri elements killed in Sinai
  • Couple who made sickness claim against Egyptian hotel hit with £7,500 legal bill after it emerged the mother had left a Trip Advisor review saying they’d had an amazing time
  • First phase of Egypt-Sudan power grid link to be completed in two months

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

 Saturday

Sunday

  • France’s Macron a three-day trip to Egypt boost trade and defence ties
  • French President Macron and his wife tour Egypt’s historic temples
  • Sudan’s Bashirlands in Cairo for talks with Egypt’s Sisi
  • Islamic State says it attacked soldiers and captured “a Christian” in Sinai
  • Every Egyptian household would have at least one direct or indirect worker in tourism

Reports

Good Read

From Twitter

 

Statement

 Photo Gallery

Posted in Diary of Aak, Egypt | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Twitter Thread: Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey

In a rare event, angry crowd stormed a Turkish military camp in Iraq’s Kurdish region near the city of Dohuk. I herewith include few tweets that explain the background of this incident

 

Posted in Middle East, Turkey, Twitter Thread | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

This Week in Egypt: Week 3-2019 (Jan 14-20)

Top Headlines

  • Cairo declaration establishes Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum with seven countries
  • AChristian man who has been kidnapped by suspected Islamist militants in the Sinai Peninsula is a police forensic expert
  • Egypt’s budget deficit in the first half of the financial year is reduced
  • Egypt police kill 14 terrorists during a raid in North Sinai 
  • Terrorist who was involved in beheading of Egyptian Copts is killed in Libya
  • Mercedes-Benz to open car assembly plant in Egypt
  • Egypt to relocate 51,000 government employees to New Administrative Capital

Main Headlines

Monday

Tuesday

  • Egypt’s Minister of Higher Education reduced the punishment of a male student who appeared in a viral video hugging a female friend on campus
  • Egypt’s Al-Azhar University overturns decision to expel female student over hugging her male friend
  • UK is the biggest non-Arab investment partner of Egypt
  • Egypt court orders release of woman jailed over torture claims in BBC report
  • Egypt’s president issues decree regulating travel of senior officials on state business

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday 

 Sunday

 Reports

From Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sports

Plus

Posted in Diary of Aak, Egypt | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Twitter Thread: Egypt’s Sisi interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes

 

In my last week Egypt’s update,  I included few tweets and comments on the controversial CBS’s interview with Egypt’s President Sisi.  This week, however, there are more interesting and critical comments that I thought to post them separately here. 

 

Posted in Diary of Aak, Egypt, Twitter Thread | Leave a comment