Egyptian Aak 2016 – Week 49 ( Dec 5- 11)

Top Headlines 

  • Bomb kills 25 at Egypt’s main Coptic Christian Cathedral
  • Three days of mourning after the Cathedral attack
  • World governments condemn church bombing in Egypt
  • Bomb blast kills 6 policemen in Giza’s Haram district
  • Militant group Hassm claims responsibility for Giza bombing

 

photo-attack-on-coptic-cathedral 

 (Photo from today attack on Coptic Cathedral by Tarek Wajeh)

 Main Headlines

 Monday

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 Saturday 

  • Egyptian court rejects appeal by Islamist militant Adel Habara over his death sentence
  • IMF: Egypt’s new import tariffs not a condition for $12 billion loan
  • Egypt recovers 7 artifacts from the US, Switzerland and UAE
  • Sisi attends first follow-up meeting to annual National Youth Conference

 Sunday

Good report

Good read

  • An Egyptian court just struck down part of a repressive new law. Here’s what that means. Nathan Brown and Amr Hamzaway

From Twitter

Photo Gallery

Plus

  • HRC Global released a Global Spotlight on Egypt highlighting the persecution and harassment of LGBTQ people in Egypt by both the state and society.
  • Statues of lioness goddess Sekhmet unearthed in Luxor

Finally here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt

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

Egyptian Aak 2016 – Week 48 ( Nov 28 – Dec 4)

Top Headlines

  • Egypt’s top constitutional court upholds law restricting street protests
  • Egypt’s president Sisi starts 2-day visit to United Arab Emirates
  • Egyptian pound hits lowest exchange rate against USD since flotation
  • Egypt sharply increases customs duties as it seeks to curb imports
  • An Egyptian MP says Naguib Mahfouz should have been prosecuted for violating public morality

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 President Sisi visits UAE ( Photo via Ahram)

Main Headlines

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Tuesday

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Good Reports

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From Twitter

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Finally, here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt

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Egyptian Aak 2016-Week 47 ( Nov21-27)

Top Headlines 

  • An Egyptian court revokes the death sentence of Egypt’s ex-president Morsi
  • Egypt’s Sisi expresses support for Syrian military
  • Egypt denies sending military troops to Syria
  • The US State Department removed Egypt from its travel warning list
  • Egypt and Jordan send firefighting help to Israel
  • Al-Jazeera documentary on Egyptian conscripts reignites media war with Qatar
  • Number of Egyptians worldwide reaches 100 million

 Main Headlines

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Good Reports

Good Read

  • As Egypt quarrels with Saudi Arabia, it is finding new friends. The Economist
  • 1st lesson learned from Ahmed Naji’s jailing: Nael El-Toukhy

From Twitter

Timeline

Travel

Interview

  • Free from prison, Mohamed Fahmy fears for journalism and says it’s time to take a stand for freedom of the press. Travis Lupick

Video

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Finally, here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt

 

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

Fidel Castro: Glamorizing Tyranny

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Fidel Castro ( Getty Images)

Cuba’s revolutionary leader Fidel Castro has died at the age of 90. The legacy of Castro, the “commandante” is not just his revolutionary communism, but a grand and more disturbing stance, one that was characterized as an anti-American charismatic tyranny.

For years following the collapse of colonialism, communists, socialists, and radical Islamists have committed abhorrent crimes that have systematically been watered down by their supporters, under the pretext that America and other Western powers are worse. The depth of anti-Americanism has caused many to lose their moral compass. In the latest responses to Castro’s death, we see how many have turned a blind eye to Castro’s abhorrent, systematic repression of his opponents.

This has occurred not just for Castro, but also for Nasser of Egypt, Saddam of Iraq, and even the Assad regime of Syria. All still enjoy a good dose of popularity among many supposedly rational intellectuals, despite their remarkable failure, crimes, and dismal record in governing their respective countries. In the Middle East, many leftists and Islamists justify oppression, as long as it has been committed in the name of an anti-American leader. Hating Uncle Sam appears to be a blessing act that cleanses other sins.

Perhaps romanticizing Castro is understandable among his supporters. After all, supporters are by default biased and apologetic. More worrisome, however, is the response to Castro’s death from some of his natural opponents____ the [supposedly] progressive liberal leaders of our time.

In a statement by the European Commission , Castro was described as a” hero to many.” The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went a step further by describing Fidel Castro as a legendary revolutionary and orator, “who made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.” Even American President Obama didn’t just offer his condolences, but almost praised Castro, by noting the “enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.” Other world leaders joined in, showering Castro with praise.

Indeed Castro was a “hero to many,” with “legendary” credentials, and had an “enormous impact” on the people and the world around him, but so did Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Iran’s Khomeini, Al-Qaeda’s Osama Bin Laden and even ISIS’s Baghdadi. Judging with European, Canadian, and American leaders’ logic, followers of all those mentioned names should feel slighted, and wonder why Western leaders fail to acknowledge the “heroism” of their leaders? Where do Western leaders draw the line between various shades of oppression?

The responses to Castro’s death is yet another example of the crisis of the liberal western world and the moral bankruptcy of the global order in general. Glamorized regression is now branded as the new progressiveness.

The same leaders who claim to advocate for liberty, equality and human rights are now courting oppressive regimes like Iran and Cuba, failing to see how their policy is good news to every radical Islamist hiding in a bunker in the Middle East. Yes, communism is almost dead, but for the rise of radical Islamism, which is flexing its muscle around the globe, the lesson of Castro’s life and death is simple: live long, play hard to get, and the West will ultimately soften their stance and legitimize the illegitimate. The Cuban revolution has succeeded in winning Western appeasement, despite its failure to bring a promised utopia to many Cubans. Iran has already succeeded in gaining western concessions. Meanwhile, other Islamists, regardless of their style and affiliation, also dream to achieve similar gains.

 Castro is dead, but the current misguided Western response to his appalling record means that his legacy will continue to haunt the Western world. Hasta la victoria siempre or should I say, “Hasta el Islamismo victorioso siempre?”

Posted in Politics, Short Comments | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Egyptian Aak 2016- Week46 ( Nov 14-20)

Top Headlines

  • Egypt court overturns death sentence against ousted ex-President Mohammed Morsi
  • ISIS’ Egypt branch executes 100-year-old cleric
  • Egypt clears way for former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq to return home
  • Egypt lifts assets freeze of anti-torture NGO

   Main Headlines

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Sunday

Good Reports 

Good Read

 From Twitter

Interview

 Video

  • American University in Cairo students protest increase in tuition fees

Plus

Finally here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt

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

Egyptian Aak 2016 – Week 45 ( Nov 7-13)

Top Headlines

  • IMF approves 3-year, $12 billion loan for Egypt
  • Administrative court rejects government appeal over Red Sea islands deal, confirm Egyptian sovereignty
  • Saudi oil shipments to Egypt have been halted indefinitely
  • Egypt’s Sisi invites Trump to Cairo

 Main Headlines

 Monday

Tuesday

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Sunday

Good Reports

From Twitter

Photo Gallery

Plus

Finally, here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt

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

Reflection on Trump’s victory and the crisis of the liberal camp

“To the Egyptian lady sitting in the last row, if you want Trump, you can have him.”

I was attending a political conference that featured a heated debate on the US presidential election, and these words from an American delegate surprised me. He was reacting to my suggestion that Americans should learn from Britain’s Brexit vote and not underestimate Trump’s chances of becoming president. But instead of rationally addressing my concerns, he reacted angrily and bitterly. Later in the year, this bitterness surfaced again when I had the opportunity to meet two American politicians in a symposium, a Trump supporter and a Clinton supporter. An argument erupted between them when I rather naively asked about the American election and Trump’s chances of winning it.

The two incidents were eye opening for me. America, like Britain, Europe, and the Middle East, is not just deeply divided, but is facing winds of change in a post-liberal world. The crisis of the liberal Western order and the rise of post-liberal tendencies, as Ross Douthat put it, should not be seen only as an economic phenomenon, but also as a crisis of culture and values.

Liberals have increasingly lost sight of the essence of liberalism. Instead of liberty, equality, and individualism, the neo-liberal order revolves around shaming opponents, tribalism, and even endorsing illiberalism (as some ethnic minorities do). Liberals have become more or less of a cult, praising and celebrating each other, dismissing dissent, and showing scant interest in winning hearts and minds. Their unwritten motto is, “We are too good to defend our values, too powerful to reflect on mistakes, and yes, we can take people for granted.”

In a recent piece, Michael Lerner stated how shaming opponents is not a good political strategy. He rightly said, “Instead of challenging this ideology of shame, the left has buttressed it by blaming white people as a whole for slavery, genocide of the Native Americans and a host of other sins, as though whiteness itself was something about which people ought to be ashamed.” This is not just a bad strategy, but is tantamount to a cultural betrayal of an important segment of Western society that feels isolated and vulnerable.

For months before the election, all Trump supporters were branded as ignorant and hateful, which is simply not true. As a Muslim, I have always welcomed how Western liberals have rushed to defend Muslims against repeated blanket accusations of terrorism. Nonetheless, I fail to understand the consistent mocking and demonization of millions of white working-class Westerners, simply because they voted for Trump.

Some suggest that many voted for Trump out of fear. That is partly true; Asra Nomani, an immigrant Muslim woman, voted for Trump. Asra represents many liberal Muslims and non-Muslims who have become increasingly disenchanted by the perceived appeasement of regressive Islamism by many in the corridors of power in the Western world.

But to many witnessing the unfolding post-election era in the US, the liberal camp has become scarier than Trump ____ it is perceived as a generic camp that has lost its authenticity and reduced liberalism to tick-box exercises. The “first black” and “first women” have become “the” goals. Those who dared to oppose those goals were labeled “enemies,” as if liberalism is a tribe that needs defending; not values that ought to be spread. Winning hearts and minds has dropped from the liberal agenda and been replaced instead by a self-righteous attitude that dismisses skeptics as ignorant fools.

The dismissive behavior of the liberal elite has forced many to drift away from the center and move further to the right. As Amber Jamieson reported, many secretly voted for Trump as a silent protest against the behavior of the Democrats: “As a gay Muslim, the Republican Party has not been kind to me, to say the least. However, the Democrats almost arrogantly expect me to hand my vote to them because of who I am, which insults me.”

To the American gentleman who ranted at me during the Trump debate I explained how I would never vote for Trump,, but unlike others who have arrogantly dismissed him, I understand how Trump’s ascent to the presidency could not be stopped by underestimating him or belittling and attacking his supporters.

The American who was so dismissive towards me during what should have been a rational and tolerant debate is not the only one whose vision and objectivity have been constrained by an emotional straightjacket. Throughout the election campaign, it has been painful to see Americans behave like angry Arabs, indulging in emotionalism and self-pity. Now the election is over, the liberal camp urgently needs humility and reflection; more importantly, this camp must stop blaming others for its own failures. As William Dalrymple tweeted, “This was not a Trump revolution but a Clinton collapse.” The sad reality is that sobbing and rioting will not change it.

Posted in Best Read, Islam, Politics, Short Comments, women rights | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Egyptian Aak 2016- Week 44 ( Oct31-Nov 6)

Top Headlines

  • Egypt allows its currency to float freely, meeting key IMF demand
  • OIC secretary general resigns following criticism after he mocked the Egyptian president
  • Egyptian army brigadier general shot dead in North Sinai
  • A car bomb in Cairo unsuccessfully targeted a senior Egyptian judge
  • Egypt’s oil minister makes rare trip to Iran for oil talks after Saudi suspension
  • First German passenger flight arrives in Sharm El-Sheikh after 1 year travel ban lifted

 

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Photo via Mada Masr

Main Headlines

Monday

 Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

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Good Reports

Good Read

From Twitter

Timeline:

Plus

  • Egypt’s All-Woman Roller Derby team is skating past stereotypes
  • ‘Egypt is Safe’: UN World Tourism Organization Meeting Opens in Luxor

Finally here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt

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

Sharia Courts in UK – A Minefield

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A meeting of the Sharia Council of Britain at its east London headquarters Getty

Yesterday, I spoke briefly on BBC World Service Radio about Sharia Council courts in Britain, which coincided with an inquiry started by the Home Affairs Select Committee in Westminster on those councils. I thought it was worth further explaining my views in a post to engage the readers of my blog, and hopefully, the wider public.

The idea behind Muslim Law Councils (Sharia Courts) may sound reasonable and fair, as it offers religiously permissible solutions to resolve domestic issues and social dilemmas that affect the British Muslim community within an Islamic framework of Islamic Sharia. The question begs, however, which community shall this be applied to? And which Sharia? Advocates for such councils portray the matter as if there is one Sharia framework that has simple clear concepts, which can be easily applied in practice. They also portray Muslims as if they are one unified happy community. But the truth is far from that.

First, there is no monolithic community. British Muslims are tremendously diverse with a wide variation of cultures and beliefs that are intertwined with Islamic laws. In fact, some lifestyles are not necessarily Islamic. Each community has transplanted ideas and practices from their native countries and would like to implement them to varying degrees here in Britain.

Second, if we surveyed Muslims about their understanding of Sharia, the results will actually surprise many. The concept of Sharia varies even in native Muslim countries. The legal codes of countries that identify themselves as “Islamic,” such as Iran, Afghanistan, Sudan and Saudi Arabia vary considerably in actual practice. Meanwhile, some Muslim countries opt for more lenient interpretations of Sharia based on the goals of Sharia, known in Arabic as “Maqasid.” As such, there are many legal and religious pitfalls, even with the concept of Maqasid from Sharia, as I explained in this post.

Third, pious British Muslims simply do not know how those councils would implement their faith. It is estimated that around 20 to 30 of the councils operate across Britain, which settle disputes using an Islamic religious law. Nonetheless, those councils do not declare many important details. For example: What version of Islamic law, what school of Islamic jurisprudence do they follow? What are the rights guaranteed to women in divorce and inheritance cases managed in those councils?

In short, some Muslims may want the psychological comfort that their social and domestic issues are governed by the guidance of their faith, but they fail to realize the complexity of translating their intention into a solid, transparent, and fair practice in Britain. There are many, often conflicting, interpretations of Sharia. Implementing a modern version of Sharia is a minefield even in native Muslim countries. Therefore, it is disingenuous to play the anti-Islam card while campaigning for Muslim law councils in Britain. The last thing Muslims want are courts that rubberstamp regression under the auspices of Islam.

Posted in Islam, Politics, Short Comments | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Egyptian Aak 2016 – Week 43 ( Oct 24 – 30)

Top Headlines

  • At least 22 people were killed and 72 injured in flooding in parts of Egypt
  • Egypt condemned the Saudi head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for mocking its president Sisi
  • Four policemen remanded into custody over Ismailia prison break-out
  • Egypt bans TV interview with corruption critic
  • Egypt’s Sisi says military economy just 1-1.5% of GDP
  • Four policemen are remanded into custody over Ismailia prison breakout

Mideast Weather

An motorcyclist rides through floodwater after a heavy rainfall in the coastal city of Alexandria, Egypt, Photo: AP

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