Twitter Thread: Terror in Barcelona

Here is a collection of tweets about the latest terror attack in Barcelona. It includes a very insightful twitter thread by The New York Times Correspondent Rukmini Callimachi.

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This Week in Egypt 2017: Week 33 (Aug 7-13)

Top Headlines 

  • Two passenger trains have collided in northern Egypt, killing at least 36 people
  • Head of Egypt’s railway department resigns after deadly train collision
  • ISIS has claimed responsibility for an attack on a patrol car that killed four Egyptian policemen in North Sinai
  • Egypt’s budget deficit fell to the lowest level in five years
  • Strike continues at Mahalla factory as workers negotiate with officials

 

train crash 2017

Photo via BBC

Main Headlines

 Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday 

Saturday

Sunday 

Best Reports

Good Read

From Twitter

Movie Review

Plus

Finally here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt

 

 

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Twitter Thread: Jenan Moussa on ISIS wives and Yazidi slaves

On the third anniversary of ‘Islamic State’ attack on the Yazidi community in Iraq, this Twitter thread by the amazing journalist Jenan Moussa is painful, albeit a must read .

 

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This Week in Egypt: Week 31 (July 31-Aug 6)

Top Headlines

  • Egypt dismisses Qatari allegations of using membership to ‘achieve political purposes’
  • Egypt’s foreign-currency reserves jumped to a record in July, as investor confidence surged
  • Egypt names new head of stock exchange
  • Egypt and Russia broker truce between Syrian regime and opposition in northern Homs
  • Egypt’s military destroys smuggling tunnel crossing the Egyptian border in North Sinai
  • Tensions with Sudan continue as Egypt’s foreign minister visits Khartoum
  • Egyptian court postpones Morsi trial in “Hamas espionage” case to 10 September
  • 160 Egyptian villages to be free of FGM by 2022

 Main Headlines

 Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Good Reports

From Twitter

Poll

Interview

 Video

  • Workers at tourist-popular Fayed discuss the impact of Egypt’s economic issues on the season

 Plus

Finally here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt

 

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Al-Azhar’s Farcical Fatwa Kiosks

 

 

Al-Azhar kiosk

“Fatwa Kiosk” – photo via Al-Fajr newspaper

 

Egypt’s Al-Azhar Islamic Research Academy has opened a number of kiosks in one of Cairo’s main underground metro stations to allow commuters to “seek guidance on Islamic issues.” According to Mohi El-Din Afifi, secretary-general of the academy, the initiative aims to “counter the extremist ideologies and misguided fatwas provided by extremist groups.”

The move has become a highly controversial issue among Egyptians. While some see it as a good idea to provide reliable “fatwas” (religious edicts), others perceive it as a sign of growing overt religiosity in society.

At Cairo’s downtown Al Shohada metro station, a female Muslim journalist from al-Fajr newspaper, pretending to be an atheist, spent two hours in the “Fatwa Kiosk” to hear the Al-Azhar clerics’ fatwas.

Although she was wearing an ordinary Egyptian-style hijab, the Al-Azhar scholar commented first on her necklace (an ankh, the old Egyptian Pharaonic key of life). “It looks like a cross, so you better not wear it, otherwise people may think you are Christian.”

The disguised journalist had a long conversation with the Al-Azhar scholars on many controversial issues, particularly concerning women’s rights in Islam, its inheritance, menstruation, the right not to wear the hijab. The scholars insisted on orthodox Islamic views that portray menstruation as an impurity and stated that women have to inherit half of the men, because these edicts are mentioned in the Quran and cannot be changed. One scholar then told the journalist, “You [women] really want to go head-to-head with men?”

More alarming, however, is the manner in which the scholars insisted on other regressive edicts, even though they did not come from the Quran. For example, they insisted that a brother has the right to stop his sister from wearing tight cloth, and prevent her from leaving the house if she is not wearing her headscarf. The scholars also insisted that in cases of adultery, it is mainly the woman’s fault, “Because when a woman abandons her honour, she can seduce many men.”

On the political level, the scholars insisted that the right to protest is only allowed with government permission, according to Egypt’s protest law. If no permission has been granted, protests are forbidden, “because saboteurs may infiltrate the protestors.” They also described a handshake with a Christian as “a moral, but not a physical impurity, that does not need ablution before prayer.” How kind!

In their “Fatwa kiosks,” Al-Azhar’s scholars probably thought they handled the disguised atheist journalist kindly. They indeed debated in a polite, civilised manner. Other Salafi scholars would probably be less patient and more aggressive. Nonetheless, this reporter’s experience sums up what is wrong, not only with the Fatwa Kiosks, but also with Al-Azhar’s overall Islamic doctrine. Egypt’s top religious institution is far from its announced goal of modernizing Islamic thought, and is still clinging to hard-core orthodox interpretations that enshrine inequality; even misogyny in society. It is naive to assume that their Fatwa Kiosks will stop radicalism.

Based on its current stance, Al-Azhar comes across as a softer version of regressive Islam that appeases autocratic rulers and rejects violence, but shares the wider pillars of backwardness with other radical groups. Such perceptions will not discourage the youth from radicalization; it will make Jihadi groups be perceived as more genuine and authentic.

With many Al-Azhar-affiliated scholars on Egypt’s newly established national council for combating terrorism, one can only wonder how they will combat terrorism while empowering misogyny and inequality.

 

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This Week in Egypt: Week 30- 2017 ( July 24-30)

Top Headlines

  • An Egyptian tank crew saved up to 50 people from a car bomb packed with explosives
  • Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain will allow Qatari planes to use air corridors in emergencies
  • Qatar turns down new LNG deals with Egypt
  • Egyptian in Red Sea knife attack supported the Islamic state
  • Egypt established a national council to fight terrorism
  • Czech woman injured in Egypt knife attack dies
  • Number of websites blocked in Egypt reaches 127
  • Egypt’s butterfly Farida Osman celebrates first ever World Championship medal

Main Headlines

 Monday

Tuesday

  • Egypt will not compromise on reconciliation conditions for Qatar
  • Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Bahrain release new Qatar-linked ‘terrorist entities, individuals’ list
  • Number of websites blocked in Egypt reaches 127
  • An Egyptian court sentences 43 defendants to life in prison for several violent incidents committed in 2011
  • Egypt and EU ratify partnership priorities for 2017-2022
  • Egyptian army says 40 terrorist are killed in North Sinai

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

  • Egypt’s butterfly Farida Osman celebrates first ever World Championship medal
  • An Egyptian court court issues preliminary death sentences against 8 for 2013c violence, ransacking police station
  • Egypt’s prosecution launches investigation into Friday’s hour-long Cairo Airport power cut
  • Negotiations on Ethiopian dam are ongoing: Egypt’s irrigation minister
  • Egypt deports 100 undocumented Sudanese residents
  • Iraq bans Egyptian vegetable and fruit exports

Sunday

Good Reports

  • Terrorists in Sinai up their game up their game. Amr Mostafa
  • Zamalek Metro drilling puts historic school buildings at risk. Taha Sakr
  • Hobby Lobby under investigation over sale of 5th‑century Bible fragment. Bel trew
  • What a drag: Egypt’s smokers feel burn of price hikes. Menna Farouk

Good Read

Video Report

Twitter

Plus

Finally here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt

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This Week in Egypt: Week 29-2017 (July 18-23)

Top Headlines

  • Egypt urges Israel to immediately stop violence in Jerusalem
  • Largest Military Base in the Middle East Opens in Egypt
  • Egypt, Saudi Arabia deny revising 13 demands for Qatar
  • Egypt ends visa-free entry for Qataris
  • 8 suspected Hasm militants were killed in Egypt shootout

 Main Headlines

 Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

  • Moody says IMF review is ‘credit positive’ for Egypt
  • Egypt’s Sisi inaugurates the largest military base in the Middle East west of Alexandria
  • Egypt court sentences 28 to death over the 2015 killing of Egypt’s top prosecutor
  • Egypt and Jordan seek to persuade Israel to remove Temple Mount metal detectors

Sunday

Good Reports

  • Egypt faces water insecurity as Ethiopian mega-dam starts filling. Climate Home
  • Egypt-backed power-sharing deal between former foes taking shape in Gaza. Fares Akram and Mohamed Daraghmeh
  • Copts and Egypt’s national game. Mai Shams El-Din
  • Anger on Warraq Island after government demolishes homes demolishes homes. Zeinab El-Gundy and Passant Gemeay
  • Fatwa on the go: Egypt’s Al-Azhar sets up shop in Cairo metro. Shahira Amin
  • Egypt’s poorest risk death for promise of work in Libya. Mahmoud Mourad

Interview

From Twitter

Plus

Posted in Diary of Aak, Egypt, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Jerusalem and the death of hope

Jerusalem-Reuters-5

Photo via Reuters

 

Tension has erupted again in Jerusalem. Six people have lost their lives; three Palestinians in street clashes with Israeli security forces in Jerusalem, and three Israelis in a stabbing attack at a West Bank settlement last Friday. On the surface, this latest bloodshed is due to a dispute about new Israeli security measures at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif complex. Israel installed new electronic gates at the entrance of the complex, and the Palestinians are against it. This latest escalation of conflict, unfortunately, reflects something much deeper: the death of hope for both Palestinians and Israelis.

Last month, the Times of Israel published a review article about the recent Hebrew book Milkud 67, or Catch-67, written by Israeli philosopher Micah Goodman. Goodman argued that there is no solution to the conflict; hence, he asks the Israeli left to abandon its dream of achieving peace with the Palestinians, and the Israeli right to abandon its goal of permanent control of the West Bank. Instead, he suggests “reorganising the conflict” by minimizing the occupation, but still leaving Israel in control. Goodman suggests a practical deal in which the Palestinians are granted 80% independence with a settlement freeze, but without recognizing Israel or giving up the right of return. Meanwhile, Israel maintains control of the crucial 20% of the West Bank, mostly in the Jordanian valley.

The current violence in Jerusalem indicates that Goodman is partially right, but also partially wrong. He is right that there are currently no feasible solutions for the conflict, but his suggested action plan is wrong. The violence erupted because the Palestinians, similar to Goodman, have also lost hope in resolving the conflict. Thus, the actual problem is that the Palestinians do not see how many Israelis share in their desperation. Instead, they see the Israelis as people with a grand plan, working to slowly change the reality of the West Bank and Jerusalem in their favour. With that mindset, Palestinians view the metal gates installed at Haram al-Sharif’s complex as a symbol of a hidden political move aimed to rob them of their holiest of holy places.

Importantly, the current violence proves that Goodman’s suggested plan of “reorganising the conflict” will not work. Goodman’s solution fails to consider how irresponsible irrationalism is the root of the problem in Israel and Palestine. Goodman places the Palestinians into one basket, but in reality, they are divided roughly into Islamist and non-Islamist camps. Ever since the second intifada, the Islamist camp has engineered most of the violent attacks, and will continue to do so as long as partial solutions like Goodman’s continue to be offered.

The three Arab Israelis who killed two Israeli officers near the Temple Mount, triggering the current episode of violence in Jerusalem, came from the northern town of Umm al-Fahm, the heartland of Islamism in Israel. Islamists understand the Israelis well, and they know how to manipulate their responses. Their formula is simple: provoke the Israelis and trigger an excessive security crackdown that will ultimately lead to widespread anger among Palestinians.

Violent emotionalism is largely an Islamist phenomenon. Islamists use religious symbols like the Al-Aqsa mosque to serve their own agenda in the region. While Friday’s day of rage in Jerusalem gained support from every corner of Arabia, the frenzied incitement from Islamist media outlets such as Al-Jazeera could easily be prevented. One of Al-Jazeera’s videos even has mocked Arabs who condemned the violent attacks against Israelis. It was also no coincidence that Qatar Emir, a patron of Islamism in the region, opted to deliver an emotional speech mentioning Jerusalem on the same day as protests in the holy city.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s violent Islamist group Hasm issued a statement claiming that Jerusalem will not be liberated until Cairo is liberated. The Muslim Brotherhood leader Gamal Heshmat shared the same sentiment on his Facebook page: “liquidation of the MB is prelude to liquidation of the Palestinian issue, but neither will happen, God willing.” Igniting tension in the Holy Land is a clear strategy in the Islamist playbook to raise their sinking popularity in the Arab world.

Israel, however, could have prevented the current futile cycle of violence by foiling the Islamist agenda. The lack of political coordination between Israel and neighbouring Arab states like Jordan and Egypt is striking. Jordan has always had a direct role in protecting the Haram al-Sharif complex. In fact, the Jordanian-Israeli peace agreement includes a clause reaffirming Jordan’s role. Why didn’t Israel involve Jordan in the installation of the new security gates? Would it not have been better to gain the support of the Jordanians and Egyptians in any new security arrangement? Unless Israel cooperates with and offers non-Islamist Arabs a substantial role in running Islamic religious sites, the current emotionalism will continue to thrive.

In short, unfortunately, violence will continue to erupt in the Holy Land until both Israelis and Palestinians learn from past mistakes and acknowledge the desperation on both sides. Israel has to realise that the current status quo is unsustainable, and that hasty security measures only serve the Islamist agenda. Arabs and Palestinians have to stop being seduced by Islamist emotionalism and understand that uncontrolled rage without a political plan is doomed to failure. Unfortunately, at this moment, hope has been suffocated by the current status quo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Egypt, Israel, Middle East, Palestine | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

This Week In Egypt – Week 28 2017 ( July 10-16)

Top Headlines

  • Attacker kills two German tourists at Red Sea beach resort in Egypt
  • Gunmen kill five Egyptian policemen in Badrashin south of Cairo
  • IMF approves second loan payment to Egypt
  • Deadly battle between police and island ‘squatters’
  • Egyptian army foils militants attempt to cross Libyan border
  • Egyptian churches suspend pilgrimages and trips amid fears of attacks
  • Electronics ban on Egypt-U.S. flights to be lifted next week
  • Egypt population reaches 93.33 million

 

Hurghada attacker

Abdul Rahman  Shaaban attacked six tourists, killing two Germans in Hurghada

Photo via AL-Arabiya 

Main Headlines

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

 Thursday

  • Cairo airport passes US National Transportation Safety Board inspection
  • Egyptian churches suspend pilgrimages and trips
  • amid fears of attacksGermany to support Egypt to be main aerospace center in Africa

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Good Reports

 Good Read

  • Egypt’s Best Friends in D.C. Avi Asher Schapiro
  • Egypt’s Copts keep the faith in the fight against ISIS. Heba Saleh

Twitter

 

Plus

Finally here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt

Posted in Diary of Aak, Egypt, Sinai | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

This Week in Egypt. Week 27 ( July 3-9)

Top Headlines

  • At least 23 Egyptian soldiers were killed when two suicide car bombs tore through army checkpoints in North Sinai
  • Egypt, Gulf countries say Qatar displaying ‘lack of seriousness’ in response to their demands
  • Supreme Constitutional Court forces government to reveal captive doctor’s whereabouts
  • Egypt arrests daughter, son-in-law of slamist leader al-Qaradawi
  • Number of tourists in Egypt up by 32.9 percent
  • Egypt refers 292 suspects to military court for plotting Sisi assassination

Main Headlines

Monday 

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

  • At least 23 Egyptian soldiers were killed when two suicide car bombs tore through army checkpoints in North Sinai
  • Egyptian police detain Uighurs and deport them to China
  • Cairo Criminal Court released business tycoon Ahmed Ezz

Saturday

Sunday

Good Reports

From Twitter

Photo Story

  • The Sinai Trail: A tourism initiative run by Bedouins in South Sinai. Enas El-Masry

Plus

Finally, here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt

 

Posted in Diary of Aak, Egypt | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment