Article summary:

The year 2014. A very dark page in the history of the Arab region. ISIS on the rise, more than 2000 people killed in Gaza, the civil war in Syria still ongoing, the stories we hear and the pictures we see can make us doubt whether there is still hope. However, after having spent a week in Dhour Chweir, Lebanon, I have regained my trust in the world.

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Article summary:

From August 17-24 the Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue (FDCD) organized its 10th annual International Work and Study Camp under the title “Promoting Peace through Inter-religious Dialogue.” Farah de Haan from our Center for Arab-West Understanding participated and wrote about her experiences here.

The thirty participating youth worked on a Message to the World that the Center for Arab-West Report fully supports:

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67. Statement from the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate at Anba Rueiss, Abbassiya

Arab West Report translated the text of the Coptic Orthodox acting Patriarch Bishop Pachomius's comment on the incidents of the village Dahshūr, al-Badrāshīn Township.

Below is the full text translation of the the official statement.

[Reviewer's Note: the below name, address and  postal code were mentioned in English in the official statement that is why Arab West Report did not transliterate Deir Anba Rueiss.] 

2. Hānī Labīb in list of voters of new Coptic Orthodox Patriarch
Watanī published the list of Copts eligible to vote for the 118 th Coptic Orthodox Patriarch. The list contained 2554 names that represent many segments in the society, including: metropolitans and bishops, heads of monasteries, deputies and trustees, members of the Spiritual Council in Cairo, deputies of dioceses and agents of the Christian law, current and former Coptic ministers and incumbent members of the Majlis al-Ummah (parliament), current and former members of the General Millī Council, archons, Coptic owners, chief editors or editors of daily newspapers on condition that they are members of the Syndicate of Journalists.
 
The list of Copts who are eligible to vote for the new Coptic Orthodox Patriarch contains the name of Hānī Labīb, CIDT's Managing Director.
 
5. Clinton Visits Mursī amid Coptic Protests

[Editor: Jayson Casper attended this Coptic demonstration on July 14]

Traditionally, it is the Copts who look to America for support of their minority rights. With the Muslim Brotherhood now in the presidency, though not in full power, some Copts wonder if the United States is switching sides.

The statement of ‘looking to America’ should not be taken as normative. The Coptic Orthodox Church and most leaders of influence insist on Egyptian solutions to Egyptian problems. They believe an appeal to the West would brand Copts as traitors in their own land. Average Copts, however, often state a sentiment of longing for America – either for pressure on Cairo or as an escape through emigration.

58. Taming the Islamists

A friend of mine asked me the other day what I think of this quote from the Economist of June 23:
‘The best way to tame the Islamists, as Turkey’s experience shows, is to deny them the moral high ground to which repression elevates them, and condemn them instead to the responsibilities and compromises of day-to-day government.’

58. As President Mursī Preaches Peace, Muslim Brotherhood Sanctions Jihad

In both his presidential campaign and inaugural addresses, President Muhammad Mursī has assured the world of Egypt’s commitment to peace. Yet in the run-up to the final election on June 14, the Muslim Brotherhood published an Arabic article calling this commitment into question.

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On November 14, Isabella Pereira mailed a feature story titled, “The dirty secret behind some of Cairo’s development dreams”.  

I have been on the mailing list of Amnesty International for years and appreciate much of their reporting, but I found the title of this story extremely suggestive and unbalanced. 

On August 19, an opinion piece by Dr. Tariq Ghazalī Harb appeared in al-Masrī al-Yawm, a liberal Egyptian daily newspaper. The author, a surgeon, describes the Muslim Brotherhood (which he always names with negative sarcasm) as a cancer in society, and in his authoritative medical opinion the only solution for healing the body from a tumor is its complete extraction.

On April 25, 2013, Jihad Watch contributor Raymond Ibrahim (Ibrāhīm) published in Middle East Forum what he titled “Death to Churches Under Islam; A Study of the Coptic Church.” (http://www.meforum.org/3492/churches-under-islam)

AWR's intern Myles Ormerod reviewed articles of incidents that were not covered in Egyptian newspapers, but came in online foreign media on May 25, 2013, tackling Muslim-Christians relations and/or Coptic issues. 

On March 28, 2013 Fox News broadcast an incendiary video report entitled, ‘US Silent as Christians are Persecuted in Egypt?’ It is understood that media relies on a level of sensationalism in order to attract the viewer or reader to a story. Yet this report moves beyond sensationalism to distortion, in which elements of truth are stretched to create an impression far removed from reality. 

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Newsclippings from International Sources

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Al-Azhar and the Coptic Church Tuesday condemned the recent killing of seven Egyptian Copts in Western Libya, with the church calling for a hasty arrest of the “terrorists” responsible.

On Sunday night, a group of masked militants stormed into the building where the Egyptians lived and abducted eight, taking them to Gorutha suburb west of Benghazi. Only one was able to escape.

The seven bodies were handed over to the Egyptian embassy in Benghazi, where they will be shipped to Egypt soon to be handed over to their families for burial.

The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign affairs said in a statement that the ambulance that transported the bodies to a hospital in Benghazi was shot after leaving the hospital, and the paramedic and the driver were wounded.

The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR) issued a statement, calling the Egyptian authorities to communicate with the Libyan ones to protect Egyptians living in Libya in light of the unstable security there.

According to EOHR head Hafez Abou Saada, there is suspicion that extremist groups killed them because of the Egyptians’ religion.

The Salafi Al Nour Party issued a statement as well condemning it, and calling on the Egyptian government to protect Egyptians living in Libya.

According to state-owned Al-Ahram, armed militants in Libya said Monday that they are currently holding 100 seized Egyptian cargo  trucks, which they said would be released in exchange for the release of Libyan relatives being tried on criminal charges in Egypt.

Egyptian-Libyan relations have witnessed several tense incidents since 2011, with the outbreak of the 25 January Revolution in Egypt and the ouster of Libya’s former president Muamar Gaddafi. In March 2013, an Egyptian Copt was tortured to death in a Libyan prison, where he was being held on charges of illegal proselytising .  In the same month, an Egyptian church was attacked in Benghazi, and Libyan authorities deported six Egyptian Copts to Egypt without explanation.

The Egyptian foreign ministry could not be reached for comment.

 

(Aya Nader, Daily News Egypt, Feb. 25, 2014) Read original

by Joshua Stacher | published February 24, 2014 - 5:21pm

This morning Egypt’s military-installed cabinet resigned en masse. Initial comment implies that the resignations were a surprise but nonetheless fit into a pattern of events paving the way for a presidential run by Field Marshal ‘Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi. If al-Sisi does indeed run, the outcome would not be in doubt.

That certainty has not stopped debate over why the cabinet departed this morning and who’s in and who’s out in the next cabinet. Will Prime Minister Hazim al-Biblawi stay or go? Can al-Sisi legally remain minister of defense when he announces his presidential candidacy? Does it matter? Is Military Chief of Staff Sidqi Subhi going to be the next minister of defense? How does the cabinet’s makeup mesh with the personnel shifting and morale building that al-Sisi has led among the top brass since the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces (SCAF) ordered Muhammad Mursi to appoint him defense minister in August 2012? There are endless permutations with which to understand the elite maneuvers.

Today’s reshuffle should not have been a surprise. The first junta-backed government was transitional, a way station on the route to the regime the military wants to make. With al-Sisi’s candidacy, the generals have decided to push all of their chips to the center of the table and try to dominate the increasingly fragmented political order. They probably wish that al-Sisi did not have to run for president and govern directly. But the generals don’t have a better choice for imposing their vision of stability. From their point of view, now is the time for concerted action to resubordinate the state apparatus, redraw the blurred lines between social obedience and dissent, and reorganize what’s prohibited and what’s tolerated. But, rather than declare the junta’s victory, it’s worth remembering that social processes are not inevitable. There are many interactions to come between this regime-in-formation and Egyptian society.

 

(Joshua Stacher, Middle East Research and Information Project, Feb. 24, 2014) Read Original

 

Election of first female as head of political party in Egypt brings flicker of hope for women across country.

CAIRO – The election of the first female as a head of a political party in Egypt brought a flicker of hope for women across the country on Friday.

Hala Shukrallah won the liberal Constitution Party's elections on Friday to succeed Mohamed ElBaradei as the party's president.

Shukrallah won 108 out of 189 votes to become the first woman and Copt to head an Egyptian political party.

Hala Shukrallah was born in 1954. She is the director of the Development Support Centre for consultancy and training, a consultancy firm providing support and assistance to civil society organisations.

Shukrallah's opponents, former TV host Gamila Ismail and physician Hossam Abdel-Ghafar - both also founding members - won 57 and 23 votes respectively. Two votes were spoilt.

ElBaradei resigned as party head when he was appointed vice president following the ouster of Mohamed Morsi on 3 July. He resigned this post to register his objection to the violent dispersal of the pro-Morsi Rabaa Al-Adawiya protest camp which left hundreds dead.

ElBaradei posted on Twitter on Friday, encouraging the youth and calling on them to stay united against "ignorance, extremism and oppression.”

Party member Sayed Kassem has been acting as interim head since July.

The party has seen public divisions and mass resignations since its founding head resigned.

Many members resigned as the party came under fire for El-Baradei's opposition to the dispersal of Rabaa.

Another major dispute was over the appointment, rather than election, of the party's current senior leaders.

The party attracted support of a number of young revolutionaries when it was founded by ElBaradei in 2011 after the revolution

 

(Author not mentioned, Middle East Online, Feb. 22, 2014) Read Original

By: Shadi Hamid and Avi Asher-Schapiro

Editors Note: In an interview with Avi Asher-Schapiro of CNN's Global Public Square blog, Brookings Fellow Shadi Hamid offers his take on what to look out for in Egypt's future three years since Hosni Mubarak resigned as president. Hamid responds to questions about the participation of Field Marshall El-Sisi in upcoming elections, the prospect of military government, the fate of the Muslim Brotherhood, economic development and U.S. policy objectives in Egypt.

Avi Asher-Schapiro: What do you make of the current political climate in Egypt? Are we in the midst of a democratic transition or witnessing the return of authoritarianism?

Shadi Hamid: You have to be patient with democratic transitions in general. The problem in Egypt is that there is no democratic transition at all. So there’s really nothing to be patient for. If you believe that autocracies like the current military backed government in Egypt are by their very nature not permanent, then yes Egypt will eventually get better. But there’s no real reason for optimism at this moment; I don’t think patience is much in order.

So we have to start asking: how bad can things really get in the short term? How long can a military regime in Egypt last? And how ugly will its removal or fall be?

Asher-Schapiro: Was the optimism that surrounded the overthrow of Mubarak misplaced?

Hamid: Three years ago, many Egyptian were understandably optimistic about their political future. In retrospect too optimistic, but they had good reasons to be that way. It was going to be difficult and messy, but the basic trajectory was in a positive direction. But once the military coup took place over the summer [when the military deposed Muslim Brotherhood elected President Mohammad Morsy] it was inevitable that you would see the subsequent events: mass killings and repression.

Asher-Schapiro: What do you make of the head of the Egyptian armed forces Field Marshall Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi? Many are predicting he will run for President of Egypt. What’s your take?

Hamid: El-Sisi has no choice but to run now. He will face a public backlash if he chooses not to. There’s so much desire for a strongman figure, for him not to run would undermine his popularity and long-term credibility. This, of course, is the danger with populist sentiment.

El-Sisi himself is responsible for drumming up a frenzy of popular support and he actively pushed and encouraged the myth-making. He created his own monster. The problem when you play with public sentiment is: what happens when you lose control?

But really his candidacy is inevitable and there are no civilian alternatives who people are excited about.

 

(Shadi Hamid, Brookings Institution, Feb. 20, 2014) Read Original

The Foreign Office said British nationals should avoid "all but essential travel" to the region.

An Egyptian bus driver and three South Korean tourists were killed when a tourist bus was attacked in Taba, South Sinai, on Sunday. Advice for other parts of Egypt - which includes warnings against visiting several areas - remains unchanged. Britons are now advised to avoid all but essential travel to the governorates of Beni Suef, Minya, Asyut, Sohag, North Sinai and South Sinai. "We believe there is a high threat from terrorism and terrorists continue to plan attacks," the Foreign Office said in a statement. "Attacks could be indiscriminate and occur without prior warning."

Tourists are also advised to "take great care" near buildings belonging to the government or security forces, which have been targeted repeatedly by Islamist militants since the military ousted President Mohammed Morsi in July.The warning against travelling to South Sinai excludes "the area within the Sharm el-Sheikh perimeter barrier", which includes the airport and the areas of Sharm el-Maya, Hadaba, Naama Bay, Sharks Bay and Nabq."Enhanced security measures are in place to protect the Sharm el-Sheikh resort areas," the Foreign Office said.

(Author not mentioned, BBC News, Feb. 19, 2014) Read Original