This week in Egypt 2017 – Week 24 ( June 13-18)

Top Headlines

  • Egyptian lawmakers approve Red Sea Islands transfer to Saudi Arabia 
  • Egypt bans fishing, diving at Tiran island in preparation for handover
  • Al-Wafd MP declares resignation over Parliament’s approval of Red Sea Islands deal
  • An Egyptian court sentences 31 to death in public prosecutor’s case
  • Egypt bans scores of news websites in growing censorship crackdown 
  • In long-awaited move, Egypt’s central bank scraps currency transfer limit
  • An Egyptian policeman was killed and four wounded by a roadside explosive near the Cairo suburb of Maadi 
  • Egypt removes mention of 2011 and 2013 uprisings from school curriculum
  • Spokesperson for the Egyptian presidency denies Egypt sponsored agreement between Hamas and Dahlan
  • Egypt weightlifting doping scandal deepens as new cases are revealed

Salman-in-Paraliment-8

Photo via Daily News Egypt

Main Headlines

Monday

 Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

  • Roadside bomb kills Egyptian police officer in Cairo suburb of Maadi
  • Hamas: War with Israel is unlikely and relations with Egypt were improving
  • Spokesperson for the Egyptian presidency denies Egypt sponsored agreement between Hamas and Dahlan
  • Dostour Party member and lawyer Tarek Hussein was released on bail
  • An Egyptian court acquits 17 striking workers, criticizes absence of legislation regulating public sector workers’ strikes
  • Egypt blocks access to Turkey’s Hürriyet Daily News website
  • Government to decide on electricity price increase by end of June

Good Reports

  • Excerpts from Parliament’s landslide vote on Tiran and Sanafir. Rana Mamdouh
  • Egypt steps up efforts to extradite Brotherhood fugitives from UK. Ahmed Fouad

Twitter

Plus:

Egypt woman breaks into men-only Ramadan wakeup call job

Finally, here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt

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The Week in Egypt: Week 23 ( June 5-11)

Top Headlines

  • Egypt will transfer sovereignty of two islands to Saudi Arabia, which had been blocked in court, following parliamentary approval
  • Arab powers, including Egypt, list 59 individuals as Qatar-linked terrorism supporters
  • Egypt authorizes Greece to sponsor Egyptians expats in Qatar
  • Egypt inflation eases for first time since currency float

Main Headlines

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Good Reports

  • Egypt’s role in the push to cut off Qatar. Ayah Aman
  • Qatar: A long-standing thorn in Egypt’s side. Gulf News
  • With eyes on Libya, France cements security ties with Egypt. Reuters- John Irish
  • Dilemma for Uber and Rival: Egypt’s demand for data on riders. Declan Walsh
  • HRW: Egypt should cancel military court death sentences

Good Read

From Twitter

Photo Essay

  • Families of the Christians who were killed by ISIS in Minya. Jonathan Rashad

Plus

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London Attacks: Five myths about Terrorism

London terror Reuters.jpg

Photo via Reuters

Westminster, the Manchester Arena, and London Bridge ____ three terrorist attacks in three months in my adoptive country, Britain. Those gruesome crimes, however, have not changed the response to terror. Politicians, journalists, and commentators are still harping on the same bankrupt clichés that are used after every attack. A proliferation of flimsy myths has chronically dominated the debate about terrorism. Here are some of the stubborn ones:

Myth NO. 1

The Muslim “community”

A widespread distortion of the truth is the belief that Muslims are one community. Nothing could be further from the truth. Muslims are individuals living in Britain, and are not necessarily united under one ethnic or religious umbrella. The generalization of Muslims as one single entity has been compounded by the rise of social media and the ability of radicals to spread their poison away from mainstream Islamic institutions.

It is good to see groups such as the Muslim Council of Britain condemning the London attacks and appropriately describing them as an affront to the religion of Islam. Nonetheless, those groups are suffering from clear duplicity. They like to portray themselves as representatives of a mythical community, “Muslims,” that hardly exists. At the same time, they wash their hands of radicals as if they were outsiders, which is simply not true. It may be tough to acknowledge, but in reality, ISIS sympathizers exist in every brand, group, and nationality of Muslims.

Myth NO. 2

We are united against terror

Although the horror of terror unites humans in their condemnation of atrocities and their grief for the victims and their families, this unity has always been fragile and temporary. Within days, even hours of terror events such as those that have hit London in the past three months, differences, bickering, and exchanges of accusations and counter-accusations have emerged. Different explanations are given, blame is apportioned, and solutions are postulated by liberal Western leftists and the radical right. Within this war, the liberal left opts to defend not just ordinary Muslims, but even political Islamists. Unfortunately, the liberal elite prefers to avoid scrutinising Islamists on those controversial aspects, and tends rather to deflect the matter as political grievances against dictatorships in the Middle East. Our disunity is the most important reason behind our collective inability to stop terror.

Myth NO. 3

Terror is the result of Western foreign policies.

Only a few days after the Manchester attack, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn blamed the UK’s foreign policy for terrorism at home. Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, has defended Jeremy Corbyn’s views. Although a survey conducted by YouGov has found that 53 per cent of people support that view, it is misguided and counter-productive. If injustices and grievances lead to terror attacks, then non-Muslim minorities in the Middle East would be the first to adopt terror. Thousands of minority Iraqi Yazidis were butchered and enslaved by the so-called Islamic State, yet there is no single Yazidi terrorist. Radical Islamists have attacked Copts in Egypt for decades, yet there is not a single Coptic terrorist inside or outside of Egypt. This argument infantilizes Muslims, portraying them as angry, irrational, easily seduced by radicalism; it also offers radicals a handy tool to lure more youth into their ranks.

Myth NO. 4

Political Islam is a peaceful ideology

While many non-Islamist Muslims live peacefully in Western countries, a subsection of Muslims has religiously built their political Islamist agenda on resentment of Western values such as freedom and equality and have advocated regressive values, exploiting the freedom of expression offered to them in the Western world.

Some Islamists are crafty and write polished posts about democracy, peace and unity. In reality, however, followers of political Islam deliberately conceal the controversial aspects of their ideology, specifically the common values they share with violent radicals. They prefer, instead, to vent that ugly side on Arabic posts on social media shared by their followers across the globe. Many of those posts glamorize violence, incite hatred against the West, and occasionally mourn violent radicals killed in Iraq or Syria.

Myth NO. 5

We cannot stop terror

The endless barrage of terror attacks in the past few years has created a fatalistic sense of resignation among many. Some now see terror as inevitable as cancer, electric shock, or car accidents. The London Bridge attack may support such an outlook, especially after it was revealed how knives and cars in the hands of criminal terrorists determined to kill, can lead to severe loss of life, disruption, and panic. This defeatist attitude may be comforting, but it is simply suicidal. It is like lying helplessly on railway tracks, waiting for an approaching high-speed train.

It is easy to distract the public by digging for the complex roots behind the original rise of radicalism in the Middle East, and how it spread to Britain. But that is a disingenuous approach, which will only make counter-terrorism an impossible task to achieve.

Groups that use the dynamism of politics to justify an ideology will always find reasons to generate grievances. Regressive barbarians hate the basic core of Western modernity and aim to destroy it, regardless of the moral or political rectitude of Western foreign policies. The terror attacks in Britain are an unfortunate outcome of complacent and divided politicians and an intellectual elite allowing political Islam to flourish in Western societies for decades.

Terrorism is not a mysterious disease, but a treatable malignancy. Dispelling myths is the first step towards eradicating this cancer and its devastating consequences.

 

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The Week in Egypt: Week 22 (May 29-June4)

Top Headlines

  • Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar (early Monday)
  • Egyptian closes its airspace and seaports for all Qatari transportation
  • Four army personnel killed during anti-terrorist campaign in Egypt’s Western Desert
  • HRW: Egypt’s new law will crush civil society
  • Leaning tower of Alexandria sparks state of emergency in Egypt
  • Egypt evacuates toppling 13-floor building in Alexandria
  • Egypt’s Al-Azhar admits Christian dental resident for first time

 

Alexandria collapsed building

Main Headlines

 Monday

 Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Good Reports

Good Read

From Twitter

Video

Plus

Finally here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt

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Egyptian Aak 2017- Week 21 (May 22-28)

APTOPIX Egypt

Relatives of Coptic Christians surround their coffins, during their funeral service- via AP

Top Headlines

  • Gunmen in Egypt Force Coptic Christian Pilgrims From Buses and Kill at least 28
  • ISIS claims responsibility for deadly shooting on Coptic Christians in Egypt
  • Egypt launches airstrikes in Libya in response to a deadly attack on Coptic Christians
  • US Embassy in Egypt warns of ‘potential threat’ from terrorist organization
  • Egypt blocks 21 websites for ‘terrorism’ and ‘fake news’
  • Egypt orders detention of potential presidential candidate in 2018 elections- he later was released on bail
  • Egypt’s Sisi rejects Bashir accusations, says not conspiring against Sudan

 Main Headlines

 Monday

Tuesday

  • Egypt prosecutors order detention of opposition leader tipped to challenge president in next election
  • Egypt’s Sisi says ‘nobody is above the law’ in battle to reclaim land stolen from the state
  • Macron expresses interest in Sisi’s invitation to visit Egypt

Wednesday

 Thursday

Friday

Saturday 

Sunday

Statement

Good Reports

Good Read

From Twitter

Photo Gallery:

Interview

  • Aya Hijazi on her surprising meeting with President Trump after release from Egypt prison. Rhana Natour

Plus

 

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

Egypt’s Come-to-Jesus Moment

This is fantastic read by Maged Atiya on Egypt. Please read…

salamamoussa

Copts_FuneralSamuel Tadros, a chronicler of modern Egypt and its Copts, opens his new op-ed for the New York Times with a passionate and moody warning from a friend:  “At this rate Copts will be extinct in 100 years. They will die, leave, convert or get killed”. Many Copts disagreed with this sentiment, both privately and publicly. There seems to be a serene faith that it is God’s plan for Egypt to remain a Christian country, and that no evil human plot can contradict that. In a 2013 review of Tadros’s book “Motherland lost” this blogger noted  “more painful than contemplating how Copts might fare when shorn of Egypt is the thought of how Egypt might fare when shorn of the Copts”. This still holds true. The very act of exterminating Christianity from Egypt will so painful, so wrenching, certainly for Copts, but more so for…

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Iran’s election: False hopes of a moderate path

Iran elections photo

( Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei –via The Guardian) 

Last Friday, Iranians voted in the country’s presidential election, favoring current President Hassan Rouhani with 56.9% of the votes, defeating his hardliner rival Raisi, who scored only 38.5. Reformist candidates have also swept municipal elections in the Iranian capital, taking all 21 seats in Tehran. Following his victory, Rouhani pledged to open Iran to the world and deliver the freedom its people have yearned for. Rouhani’s re-election, however, will not inch the Islamic Republic towards a future moderate path.

The Islamic Republic has three major advantages over its Arab neighbours: It has no foreign patron; has never faced a humiliating military defeat; and its isolation has lowered the expectations of its citizens.

Iran has no foreign patron that demands or expects a softer stance. In fact, since the Mullahs ousted the late Shah of Iran, they have focused on being patrons of Shia minorities in the region. Moreover, being a patron in such a tough neighbourhood like the Middle East is itself a barrier to moderation. Those Shia followers will not stay loyal to the Mullahs if they sense any weakness in the Iranian handling of regional foes. Unlike the Saudis, who built their clout through spectacular summits and grooming global partnerships, the Mullahs prefer to work underground through complex webs of kinship and loyal groups. Breaking this complex network is almost suicidal for Tehran.

Never having faced a trauma such as defeat at the hands of Israel, the attributes of compromise and negotiation are virtually absent from the Mullahs’ psyche. Iran has the luxury of not having a direct border with Israel, which offers the Mullahs the opportunity of low cost, indirect skirmishes via its favourite proxy, the Lebanese group Hezbollah, but never a direct confrontation. Therefore, realistically, except for successful military airstrikes on Iran, which is, for geographical and political reasons, almost impossible, the Mullahs have no reason to abandon the country’s strategic pillars, namely its aggressive anti-Israel/American stance. Why should they?

Furthermore, although the Iranian leadership is keen to comply with its obligations stated in last year’s nuclear deal, to break the harsh sanctions imposed on the country, the Mullahs are not keen to embrace a full economic liberalization policy. Having watched its Arab neighbours, particularly Egypt, the Iranian regime fully understands how the open-door economic policies adopted by Egypt’s President Sadat in the Seventies eventually triggered huge social changes, increasing citizens’ expectations and demands, and igniting political and human rights aspirations. All are red lines for the Mullahs. Iranian citizens, on the other hand, after decades of harsh sanctions, are conditioned to be grateful for the little their masters offer. Isolation lowers the ceiling of expectations and mellows bolder demands.

In any election, the Mullahs are willing to offer the Iranians two shades of grey, one dark and one slightly lighter. However, the rulers in Tehran are not prepared to offer their people a bolder shade that opens the country completely to the global competitive market.

In short, as Karim Sadjadpour has written, four decades of Iranian presidential elections have had little impact on Iran’s major domestic and foreign policies. The Mullahs are skilled at tricking others to die fighting enemies of the Islamic Republic, but they are unwilling to commit suicide themselves. In its handling of both its citizens and international community, the Iranian regime prefers to construct well-managed waterways, while avoiding opening any floodgates. Such a state of affairs tempers any expectations that await the second term of Iran’s Rouhani.

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Egyptian Aak 2017- Week 20 (May 15-21)

Top Headlines

  • Trump praises Sisi, says he hopes to visit Egypt
  • Sisi: Timing not right to declare my stance on 2018 presidential elections
  • In surprise move, Egypt central bank hikes key interests rate
  • Egypt refers 48 to court in connection with three bombings of Coptic churches.
  • Egypt prosecution investigates escape of Mubarak era interior minister
  • North Sinai’s second largest tribe al-Sawarka declares war against Sinai Province
  • Egyptian party Future of a Nation suspends Islamic cleric over “Christian unbelievers” remark

 Main Headlines

 Monday

 Tuesday

  • North Sinai’s second largest tribe al-Sawarka declares war against Sinai Province
  • IS mourns Palestinian member killed in Sinai
  • Sudan’s president said he will remain patient with Egypt even though “it has illegally occupied a disputed region

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Good reports

Good Read

From Twitter

Photo Gallery

Plus

Finally here are Jason Casper’s prayers for Egypt

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

The dismal state of some of Egypt’s Islamic scholars

Scholar Salem Abdel Galil

Muslim scholar Salem Abdel Galil – Photo via Egypt today

Sheikh Salem Abdel Galil, a prominent Egyptian Muslim scholar and former deputy minister for proselytization at Egypt’s Ministry of Religious Endowments, sparked a far-reaching controversy this week after he described Christians as unbelievers. He made the comment while explaining a Quranic verse during an episode of his TV program, Muslims Ask. Following the incident, Abdel Galil has been barred from preaching and is scheduled to appear before a court, accused of slandering a religion

The whole episode may seem relatively innocent in a region where radical groups like ISIS regularly butcher people, including Christians. Abdel Galil’s views, however, shed light on the opaque relationship between some mainstream religious teachings and the prevailing ills of our societies bred by sectarianism and radicalism.

Sheikh Abdel Galil described Christians as “unbelievers” and their beliefs as “corrupted,’ because they do not believe Mohamed is a Prophet. He also criticised Muslim scholars who disagree with his views, as misleading Christians, claiming that Christians should not believe those scholars, and should stop thinking God will accept them as faithful in the afterlife. He also stressed that describing Christians as such is not an incitement to violence against Christians, adding that Christians are “kind” and “human,” and should be treated fairly.

What Sheikh Abdel Galil has said is not new. Other Muslim scholars have defined those who reject the Prophet Mohamed, including followers of other monotheistic religions, as non-believers, on the basis that any religious community considers those who reject their faith as infidels. He later apologised if he had offended Christians’ feelings, but maintained his views on their infidelity. Despite his apology, his views are problematic for various reasons:

For a start, scholars like Sheikh Abdel Galil consider accusations of infidelity as an exclusive right of Muslims, not others. These scholars are clearly displaying they have a one-track mind that expects the followers of other monotheistic faiths, such as Judaism and Christianity, to accept that their beliefs are “corrupted.” At the same time, these scholars believe such monotheistic faiths should not defend their own faith, attack Islam, or label it as equally “corrupted.” Those scholars cannot understand how their views open the door to others to shower Muslims with similar invective, and create a climate in which hatred and bigotry thrive.

Secondly, Sheikh Abdel Galil’s insistence that Christians need Muslim scholars to validate their faith is not just absurd, but it is audacious too. It reflects an arrogant sense of dominance and power over non-Muslims, who are only treated kindly out of generosity, not out of equal position. He also seems to have no sense of time scale. Islam appeared nearly six centuries after Christianity. The idea that Christians would abandon their belief in the divinity of Jesus, just because another prophet appeared hundreds of years after is, at best, very naïve.

Thirdly, Sheikh Abdel Galil fails to understand how the slippery road initiated by his teaching could vindicate radicalism. He thinks his patronizing words, such as “Christians should be treated fairly” are enough to stop the hatred against them, or enough to deter radical youth from butchering others under the pretext that they are infidels. His insensitivity to the plight of Egyptian Christians, especially after Palm Sunday’s bombing, is remarkable. When confronted with that point during a different TV interview, he was dismissive, claiming that radicals also targeted him ___ as if that somehow makes his insensitivity more acceptable.

In short, scholars like Abdel Galil have recklessly reduced the differences between mainstream Islam and radical groups such as ISIS into tactical, not ideological, ones. Both Abdel Galil and ISIS see Christians and Jews as unbelievers or infidels; they only differ from ISIS on how those unbelievers should be treated. Such recklessness indirectly vindicates ISIS, and pushes non-Muslims to flee the Middle East.

Scholars such as Abdel Galil seems to be stuck in a medieval nostalgia and conquest mode, behaving as if Islam is still the new faith that once swept the Middle East dominating Christianity and Judaism. Such a mindset appeals to the comfort zone of some Muslim scholars. It helps them glamorize Islam from a position of superiority, instead of pitching the case for Islam in a competitive modern environment, in which followers of all religions respect one another. This conquest mode, unfortunately, is the soft interlock linking some mainstream teachings with radical ideologies.

In contrast, other Muslim scholars have moved away from such medieval nostalgia, and view Islam from a progressive stance that matches current realities. For example, Dr. Abdalla El Naggar, a member of the Islamic Research Centre, said that religion aims to unite people and it is not permissible for anyone to invalidate the faith of another because, in the end, God is the only Judge of all of us.

The stark difference between Abdel Galil and Naggar defines the struggle for the soul of Islam in today’s challenging times. It is time for our scholars to abandon their obsession with blasphemy. Many challenges face Muslims today; the faith of others is not one of them. The era of medieval dominance of one faith over others has gone. We must not allow religion to be used as a time machine enacting harmful regressive ideas that can only ruin our current fragile societies.

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Egyptian Aak 2017- Week 19 ( May 8- 14)

Top Headlines

  • IMF reaches staff level agreement for second loan installment to Egypt
  • Thomas Cook cancels hundreds of flights to Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt on Foreign Office guidance
  • Egypt’s Sisi receives an invite to upcoming Riyadah Trump summit
  • Egyptian armed forces foils attempt to smuggle arms through Libyan border
  • Egyptian Muslim Cleric who called Christians ‘unbelievers’ to face trial for contempt of religion
  • Egypt ‘uncovers 3700 year-old burial chamber of a Pharoah’s daughter
  • Mubarak-era interior minister Habib al-Adly escapes arrest  

Main Headlines

 Monday

 Tuesday

 Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Good Reports

  • Where does the government stand in implementing terms of IMF loan agreement? Osman El-Sharnoubi
  • Nabil Saber: A displaced Copt killed over a stamp. Basma Mostafa
  • Egypt sees recent archaeological findings as a blessing for a struggling economy. Sudarsan Raghavan

Good Read

  • Do it, Mr. President!.. and don’t run for a second term. Mai Azzam
  • The IMF is neither the problem nor the solution. Amr Adly

Twitter

Study

 Plus

Finally here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt

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