(Photo: President Morsi, and Minister of Defense Abdel el-Fattah el-Sissi AP)
- Egypt suspends Iranian tourist trips
- Egyptian figures condemn Cathedral violence but disagree on causes
- Prosecutor general Prosecutor general will only leave if court forces him, says spokesperson
- Egypt’s ElBaradei Egypt’s ElBaradei cites 3 ‘conditions’ for opposition talks with presidency
- Egypt will use Sudanese farmland to plant sunflowers & produce sunflower oil, curb imports
- Bad spirits: Brotherhood government targets Egypt’s alcohol industry
- Coptic Pope cancels weekly sermon to protest cathedral attack
- Presidency statement blames Copts for sparking Cathedral encounters
- ElBaradei should face trial for Iraq war role: Brotherhood’s el-Erian
- Revolutionary cleric suspended over sermon
- Libya militias are abducting Egyptians for ransom -Egypt’s satirist face new probe for “insulting Pakistan”
- Khairat el-Shater‘s ‘bodyguard’ handed 1 year jail term
- Egypt PM to visit donor Qatar amid IMF loan talks
- Egypt seizes Sinai explosives in second raid within 24 hours
- Qatar offers support to Egypt with bond purchase
- Egypt nears gas import agreement with Qatar
- Coptic Church submits 5 demands to President Morsi
- Inflation rate jump in March with the rise in fuel and food prices
- Brotherhood’s El-Shater may return to political scene
- Wasat Party leader repeats 300,000 “thugs” claim
- Egypt is a major recipient of illicit Libyan weapons: UN report
- Morsi promotes top brass in bid to ease tensions with military
- Shura Council approves new House of Representative law
- Dignitaries attempt to resolve sectarian tensions in Khosous
- Death toll in sectarian clashes reaches 8
- Abbasiya Cathedral suspects arrested: Egyptian security Official
- Egyptian youth talk to President Morsi via Twitter
- Kidnapped Hungarian peacekeeping officer freed in Sinai.
- Egypt and Libya signed agreement for military cooperation
- Defence Minister denies claims armed forces were involved in killing & torturing protesters during revolution
- Morsi expresses gratitude to the army amid demands to release confidential reports
- FJP to meet with opposition to discuss cabinet reshuffle
- Dozens protest at Qubba Palace in support of the army
- Mubarak retrial adjourned in Cairo
- Egypt relaxes foreign currency rules
- Leader of Egypt’s Jewish community dies at 82
- IMF delegation IMF delegation meets with opposition figures, and Nour Party
- Shura council agrees on new stamp tax
- Court to rule on election delay on 21 April
- Egypt to hold $600 million auction to cover strategic imports
- Egypt leftist leader tells IMF he opposes loan
A Few Thoughts
There is one Egyptian word that fits in well with this week’s events—from Mubarak’s cynical smile and the tense encounter between Morsi and Sissi, to the sick sectarian rhetoric and the Qatari loan to Egypt. That word is “Kheba” or epic failure.
President and General al-Sissi
Watching the above video of President Morsi and the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) is enough to give anyone a clear impression of how tense the relationship is between President Morsi and his Minister of Defense, General-al-Sissi. Although standing side-by-side, both avoided eye contact and didn’t look at each other while talking to the press. It was an awkward encounter, despite that both have said the “right” words. Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sissi said, “I swear the Armed Forces did not kill or order any killing—betray or order any betrayal—since 25 January”; while Morsi said, “I will never allow any form of offense or assault on any personnel of the Armed Forces. Any insult to the Armed Forces is an offense to all of us.”
However, words are not enough to convince the public that that the chess game between Morsi and al-Sissi has ended, following weeks of speculations about the possibility of a return of the Egyptian army to politics; additionally, a partial leak by the fact-finding mission, appointed by Morsi, accused the army of human rights abuse during the revolution has surfaced. Timing couldn’t be more intriguing—why now? And why is Morsi still reluctant to publish the entire report that was submitted to him in December?
The only plausible explanation would be that the “facts” were used as ammunition in the ongoing political battle. If true, then it worked, for now; it seems that both sides are willing to have a lull in their on-going battle. Morsi promoted some army generals and declared his support to the military forces, while al-Sissi seems to be willing to accept Morsi’s appeasment, thereby allaying fears of a coup in the near future.
Readers of this blog are already familiar with this respectable Muslim cleric, the Imam of Omar Makram Mosque in Tahrir, who joined the revolution, preaches tolerance and actively works to promote harmony between Christians and Muslims in Egypt. He is also an open critic of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership, and for that, he was suspended this week by the Endowment Minister, allegedly for delivering a sermon critical of the president. This suspension comes from the same Minister who ordered all Imams to stop any contact channel with the Anglican Church, the same church in which Sheik Shaheen delivered a sermon last Christmas to promote harmony and tolerance. Ironically, many Islamists who criticize Shaheen for mixing politics with religion are the same bunch who advocates the use of religious slogans in election campaign. Halal hypocrisy?
The recent translation of many of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Arabic statements via the mbinenglish blog has exposed the party’s two–faced rhetoric that varies considerably in language and tune in its Arabic version translated from the English one. Undoubtedly, the Islamist parties’ rise to power has been accompanied by rising incendiary rhetoric against Egyptian Christians. However, the Brotherhood is now the ruling party, and any statement like the reckless statement by the President’s advisor, Essam Haddad, would rightly be viewed as the official government stance. Haddad is not alone—other Brotherhood senior cadres have voiced very sectarian sentiments and some of it is simply breathtaking. In such, the stance against the Anglican Church that I mentioned above should also be viewed as part of this government’s new attitude.
Most of the Islamists have fixed views of what happened in Khosous but what is more interesting is how they blame the Pope for arranging the funeral of the slain Copts to be conducted in Cairo’s main Cathedral. They also advocate, without evidence, that there is a Coptic militia in Egypt and that many of them fired at the police from inside the Cathedral. It is clear that the Islamists are not wiling to wait for independent inquiry or a fact-finding mission; instead, they reached their own conclusions, and even more dangerous, are willing to spread it on social media as the ultimate truth. On the other hand, the Pope has made a set of five demands from the government; I doubt that any of them will be accepted, which means that for now, the current false calm may not last long and a new episode of violence could erupt at any time.
The poll conducted by Baseera on presidential job approval ratings, and the performance of the opposition has revealed that the percentage of Egyptians who disapprove of Morsi’s performance has reached a record high of only a 37% approval rate; however, two-thirds of his opponents can’t name an alternative. It also shows that the percentage of supporters of the National Salvation Front decreased. That pretty much sums up the current situation in Egypt; yes, Morsi is unpopular but there is no better alternative to him. Even if the result of the next poll is 20%, it doesn’t really matter; as long as the opposition is scoring worse, the Brotherhood will be content with the poll results.
There is some news in Egypt that is seriously beyond ridiculousness. Here is one example: The president has issued his own constitutional declaration, triggering opposition outrage, and finalizing a constitution in a hasty manner amid widespread boycott. In such, he has forced a referendum against the opposition’s wish, declaring the new constitution as legit. Then, a few months later, he decided to set an “expert committee” to amend 10-15 articles of the constitution “that lack general consensus.” Now that is not even funny.
For Mubarak and Qatar (I hope I will cover them in separate pieces, but here is a quick comment): This is not a trial of Mubarak but it is a trial of the revolution that is being hijacked by some who are shamelessly happy to burden the country with debt in order to survive.
- Morsi’s Christian problem. Mahmoud Salem
- Understanding sectarianism in Egypt. Tarek Osman
- A timeline of sectarian violence from 1968 to present. Ahmed Zaki Osman
- The Arab quarter century. Tom Freidman
- Egypt’s President: Tweeting an offline nation. Sarah Labib
- Egypt: In the shadow of the state. Ibrahim Al-Houdaiby
Finally, here are Jayson Casper‘s prayers for Egypt.