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Cairo, Egypt: On April 18 and 19, a two-day training session was conducted for the project: A project with and about women in Egypt, post 25 January Revolution[1]. The training took place in the office of Center for Arab-West Understanding, located in Maadi, and the aim was to develop the skills and tools of our assistants to enable them to conduct academic interviews[2] and facilitate participatory, inclusive workshops[3] among Egyptian women from several different factions of the highly fragmented Egyptian society.

Peter Hervik, the project leader and professor at Aalborg University (AAU) in Denmark, travelled to Maadi to facilitate the training jointly with Mette Toft Nielsen (author), who is the daily coordinator for AAU in Egypt.

 
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When interviewing the most crucial thing is to have a well-prepared interview guide that allows the interviewer to control and direct the interview in the most beneficial way possible for the research as a whole. Our focus will be on interview guides used for semi-structured interviews.

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Open Space Technology was developed by Harrison Owen and is a simple way to facilitate meetings, conferences, workshops and other organizational gatherings. It is engaging yourself in discussions that you like and find fruitful, centred on topics you find crucial, to which you believe to have knowledge and experience that allow you to participate actively in the discussion, or believe other’s knowledge and experience will benefit your own.[1]


 
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Editor: Christine Guirguis (21) is currently working as an assistant on a project with and about women in Egypt, post 25 January revolution, which is led by Peter Hervik, a Danish Professor at Aalborg University (AAU) in Denmark. Accompanied by Mette Toft Nielsen, the daily project coordinator of AAU based in Cairo, she has recently been in Minya to conduct interviews with women in this area. Christine is a young Coptic Orthodox Egyptian woman living in Cairo’s suburb Shubra and has never been to any rural area in Egypt. In the following text she shares her experience in one of Egypt’s less privileged areas.

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President Muhammad Mursi was removed on July 3, 2013. His supported promised large-scale demonstrations in protest of this removal one year later. There have been demonstrations but they were far from large-scale.

Egypt has received very negative Western press since Mursi’s removal for human rights violations, mass sentences of pro-Mursi supporters to death, sentencing non-Egyptian nationals working with al-Gezira English to very stiff sentences, including Dutch journalist Rena Netjes who met with the al-Gezira English Head of Bureau but who adamantly denies she has ever worked for al-Gezira. Rena Netjes has not been presented with a written verdict and this verdict against her and other journalists indeed looked very unreal.

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21. A Western-Islamic Account on Spirituality, Ramadan, and interfaith reconciliation

The relationship between expatriates living in Egypt and Ramadan can be a love-hate relationship. Some might argue that Ramadan is the ‘most unproductive month of the year’. People work less hours and businesses can get a bit slow. On the other hand, however, very few can deny the level of contagiousness of spirituality in Ramadan. Thousands upon thousands flood the streets and mosques, praying for God’s mercy and blessings. One can hear the Qur’an at every corner of the country and solidarity and compassion between people is unmatched in any other time of the year.

20. Basic Facts about Ramadan

The month of July is to be the month of Ramadan this year. At the time of writing this article, it was expected that the beginning of Ramadan will be the 29th of June, this is a presumption based on astrological knowledge. The real beginning will be announced in every country by the “ro’ya”, i.e. to look and see  if the new moon is visible or not. The period of the moon defines the beginning of every month and so the year of the Western calendar includes 10 days more than the Islamic calendar. For this reason, Ramadan begins each year, 10 days before last years Ramadan and the feast at the end of the month, the “eid al fitr” will start on the 28th or 29th July.

19. Ramadan as intercultural, interfaith experience

This summer will mark my third Ramadan spent in Egypt since I began traveling to the country in January 2011.  My first experience of an Egyptian Ramadan in the summer of 2011 remains particularly memorable, both as a cultural and personal experience.

18. Studying Arabic in Cairo

As a student who signed up to study Arabic in the autumn of 2010, I looked forward to the third year of my degree (abroad in an Arabic-speaking country) with a lot of excitement – there were so many options to choose from. I had organised a three-month teaching placement in Muscat, Oman to begin in January. I flew out on the 14th January, 2011, – the same day Tunisian president, Zine Ben Ali was deposed. Those first three months became the Arab Spring, and as protests continued, in some cases toppling governments, I contemplated a year in an Arab world much changed from the one I had expected. 

5. Meeting with Pope Tawadros II, the Holy Week and Easter
 
Dr. Enan Galaly, having the Knight of Dannebrog title bestowed by Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, Ambassador of Historical Relations between Denmark and the Middle East and chairman of the Advisory Council for the International Association of University Presidents worldwide, and Cornelis Hulsman, Editor-in-chief of Arab-West Report, were blessed on March 5 by Pope Tawadros II. The meeting was about the importance of the route of the Holy Family in Egypt. Egypt was blessed by the Holy Family, the pope said, and so are visits to locations that were blessed by the Holy Family. The pope is in contact with the Ministry of Tourism about efforts to promote pilgrimage. Read more here.
 
Arab-West Report uses this occasion to congratulate our Orthodox and non-Orthodox Christian friends with Easter.
 
 
 

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It is, unfortunately, not uncommon for people to make efforts to discredit their opponents with distortions and lies. It becomes even more questionable if people who make false claims want to remain anonymous. The author must be someone who knows several things about me. That makes an anonymous response even more cowardly. Only in February this year I was alerted that I was attacked on the website www.mobtada.com. I responded in a letter on February 8 (see below). I had expected that the author of the attack on me would respond but he preferred not to and remains anonymous. This is of course very weak.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazine initially wanted to interview a Catholic Christian family in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Minia about their preparations for Christmas in November 2013. Tensions were still running deep in Egypt after extremists had destroyed tens of churches in Egypt, including many in Minia. The Catholic Bishop of Minia, however, agreed to help find a family. A family was identified, but shortly before journalist Michael Obert and photographer Andy Spyra came to Egypt, the family decided to cancel any meeting for fear of rumors that could follow the visit of foreigners to their area. Their fear was certainly justified. Rumors, deliberately created or not, can cause a lot of harm.

In its dispatch no. 5657 MEMRI focuses on the mutual accusations between supporters of the current regime and the Muslim Brotherhood. “Each camp accuses members of the other camp of being Jewish and of implementing the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” The MEMRI report is full of examples from both camps with photos and cartoons. 

The claims and articles are part of the de-legitimization campaign in which both camps are involved. It is sad that both camps are engaging in such outrageous campaigns, but the value of this should not be overstated. 

Raymond Ibrahim, author of “Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War on Christians,” is blatantly anti-Muslim in his writings. He is doing ‘well’ in creating fear for Muslims. 

Ibrahim interprets all violence of Muslims against Christians as something that is motivated through Islam as religion. The problem is in his generalizations. It is simply not true that all violence of Muslims against non-Muslims has a religious motivation but each time Ibrahim finds such violence he claims it to be motivated by Islam, while I have found through my work for Arab-West Report that violence is often related to many other factors such as the weak rule of law in Egypt.

On Friday, November 29, an article appeared in al-Fath, an independent Salafī newspaper, written by reporters Tāriq Bahgat and Walīd Mansūr. [1] The article reports on the discussion that took place between Bishop Bola, the representative of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the Constituent Assembly, and Al-Azhar scholars about the articles relating to Al-Azhar in the Constitution as well as the so-called “identity articles”, which pertain to the interpretation of Islamic sharī’ah in the new constitution and the role of Al-Azhar. Whereas the Nūr Party representatives sought to impose a stricter interpretation of shar’īah and include it in the draft together with a stronger role for Al-Azhar, the representatives of the Churches refused that. [2] The discussion escalated to the point that Bishop Bola threatened to withdraw from the Constituent Assembly. [3] The article expresses polemic views against Bishop Bola and against the Church’s position of the aforementioned articles.

 

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Newsclippings from International Sources

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By The Associated Press| Mar. 11, 2014 | 6:40 PM

The deputy head of Egypt's dwindling Jewish community was buried Tuesday in a ceremony led by her sister.

Nadia Haroun, lawyer and architect, was 59 when she died Thursday. According to longtime friend Nevin Amin, the cause of death was a heart attack.

Haroun's sister Magda, the leader of Egypt's Jewish community, led the ceremony in Cairo's downtown Gates of Heaven Synagogue. The ceremony was attended by a handful of the remaining members of the aging community and several Egyptian public figures.

Most of Egypt's once-thriving Jewish community left more than 60 years ago. Today, less than 40 remain.

 

(Author not mentioned, Haaretz, Mar. 11, 2014) Read original

The growing number of people held by Egyptian authorities as part of a frenzied campaign to crush opposition to the military-backed government has squeezed the country’s already broken criminal justice system, leading to widespread legal and human rights abuses by security forces, prosecutors and prison guards, Belal and other rights lawyers here say.

Thousands of Egyptians have been swept up in a wave of arrests since the military overthrew Morsi in a coup last summer, including not only the ousted leader’s supporters but also leftist activists, journalists and ordinary citizens caught in the chaos. Security forces have arrested people for offenses such as photographing demonstrations and have accused suspected Islamist militants and demonstrators alike of terrorism.

 

(Erin Cunningham, Washington Post, Mar. 10, 2014). Read original

Gunmen killed a police officer Friday in northern Egypt who worked as a guard for a judge hearing a case against the country's ousted president as his supporters held scattered demonstrations that saw one person killed, authorities said.

The police officer had been riding a motorcycle in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura when gunmen on another motorbike opened fire on him, the Interior Ministry said in a statement on its official Facebook page.

A security official said the slain officer guarded a judge in one of four trials facing toppled Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. The official said the officer was killed on his way from the judge's home.

Officials also said they dismantled a homemade bomb on a main bridge in the north of Cairo.

A series of bombings and targeted killings, mainly striking security forces and installations, have hit the country since the military overthrow of Morsi in July.

 

(Author not mentioned, ABC News, Mar. 9, 2014) Read original

CAIRO, 5 March 2014 (IRIN) - The seven months since July’s overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi in Egypt have been among the most violent and divisive in recent times, analysts say, as much of society polarizes along pro-Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and pro-army lines. 

Reconciliation seems a distant prospect and more remote now, some argue, than in the immediate aftermath of the army takeover. 

“The reconciliation opportunity, which existed after Morsi’s overthrow, has disappeared,” said Issandr el Amrani, an International Crisis Group (ICG) analyst on Egypt. “Now that the officials and media call the Brotherhood a `terrorist organization’ and hold them responsible for all the attacks, [the security forces] have to stick to this point of view.” 

 

(Author not mentioned, IRIN News, Mar. 5, 2014) Read original

 

Mina Fayek [1] 27 February 2014

With increasing workers strikes, gas shortages and daily power cuts in addition to a dwindling economy and tourism industry, Egypt’s presidential hopefuls, including Sisi, should be aware that using traditional tactics to solve Egypt’s problems is not going to work in his or anyone else’s favour.

Now that it seems imminent that Field Marshal Abdel Fattah El Sisi will run for Egypt's presidency, some argue that it’s a done deal and that there’s no need to compete with him, especially due to the overwhelming support he is getting from both state institutions and media outlets, and others argue that anyone else’s participation in the elections would only be for decorative purposes, only further legitimizing the whole process.

Last week left-wing politician Hamdeen Sabbahi officially announced [8] his presidential bid. Khaled Ali [9], the youngest presidential contender in 2012 may also announce his intent to run soon. The Tamarod [10] (Rebel) movement, known for backing the military, is split [11] over which candidate to support. Two of its three leaders support Sabbahi, while the third supports Sisi. This is excluding two other contenders, namely Sami Anan [12] and potentially Ahmed Shafik [13], both military men, as they are very unlikely to gain support from any kind of progressive camp.

The political scene is not encouraging many to engage, especially with widespread arrests, unfair competition and the consolidation of power by state bodies. However, I would argue that there are several legit reasons to take the risk and challenge El Sisi in the upcoming presidential elections.

 

(Mina Fayek, openDemocracy, Feb. 27, 2014) Read orginial