Article summary:

Post-Mursī, some say the Salafi Nour Party was pushed into a corner. Others say they played their cards perfectly. In any case they supported the 2014 constitution despite its removal of religious provisions they largely orchestrated only two years earlier. While the Muslim Brotherhood and most other non-Nour Salafis railed against what they called the ‘coup and its constitution’, the Nour Party nimbly tried to navigate the landscape.

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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.

48. Teaching Evangelism in Egypt

‘Should we sacrifice evangelism for coexistence, or coexistence for evangelism? This debate will concern us for the next several years.’  This quote from Rev. Andrea Zakī ended a presentation by the Evangelical Theological Seminary of Cairo.

47. Vienna Community Church founded 55 years ago by Prof. Dr. Otto Meinardus

Editor: Cornelis Hulsman was asked to write the Vienna Community Church a congratulation on the occasion of their 55th anniversary of their establishment by late AWR board of advisors member Prof. Dr. Otto Meinardus. The text below was placed on the website of the VCC, http://members.aon.at/william/template-7-single-column/Voice18July.htm

46. Mursī Reinstates Egypt’s Parliament

That was fast.

After only one week in office, President Mursī has picked his first fight – he issued a decree to reinstate the dissolved parliament.

Shortly before the run-off election the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled parliament to be unconstitutional based on procedural grounds, and the military council issued a decree to dissolve it.

Mursī, now with the executive power of the presidency, has undone the decree of the council.

52. Egypt: Christians and Muslims united in social approach

One of the members of the Austrian University delegation that visited Egypt between May 23 and June 3 was Daniel Podertschnig who, following his return to Austria reported for the Catholic News Service of Austria. Cornelis Hulsman made a summary translation of his text into English for Arab-West Report.

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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. 

[Diana Maher Ghali reviewed this article]

Drs. Cornelis Hulsman, General Director of the Center for Intercultural Dialogue and Arab West Report, wrote an introduction about Dr. Muhammad ‘Imārah:

He is a former leftist who turned Islamist many years ago. He is a great authority among Islamists. The figures he presents about the decline of Christianity in Europe are to a very large extent correct but he is making impossible and unfair comparisons between declining Christianity and ascending Islam in Europe.
 
The figures he presents of Christians are those who are attending church services. Those percentages are indeed small. But he compares that with total number of Muslims which is also done by many Islamophobes in the West to scare a Western public. If you want to make correct comparisons you have to compare between Muslims attending mosque prayers and Christians attending church services, or between people who are registered as Muslim and people who are registered as Christian. Just as with Christians many Muslims in the West are equally secular. The around one million Muslims in the Netherlands you need to compare with the around six million Christians who are registered as a church members in The Netherlands.

With the assassination of Ahmed Jaabari Israel has assassinated the opportunity for a long term ceasefire between Israel and Gaza

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Newsclippings from International Sources

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In Egypt, Religion Must be Used as a Positive Force

By: H.A. Hellyer

In a single week, Arabs of the Christian and the Islamic faiths commemorate the births of their most significant religious figures. The past year has seen their faiths deployed on many an occasion for various gains – sometimes laudable ones, but often otherwise. Will 2014 see a change in how religion is used in Egypt and Syria? Will it be used to bring people together, instead of forcing them apart? Or will it merely continue to be a tool for partisanship, bigotry and violence?

Christian Arabs who follow the different Orthodox calendars rejoiced in the birth of Christ earlier this week. In Egypt, they did so under close guard, amid fears that violent opponents of the government might target Christians. Radical Islamists have promoted sectarianism in Egypt for a long time, including in this current phase where many of them believe that the Coptic Church is disproportionally responsible for the ousting of Mohammed Morsi. Certainly, religion in this context is not being used to bring people together.

In a few days time, Muslim Arabs celebrate the birth of the final Prophet of Islam during Mawlid al-Nabi (the Birthday of the Prophet). They will do so the day before the much-anticipated referendum on amendments to the country’s constitution. In the run-up to that referendum, Egyptians have seen religious functionaries deploy religious language to support a “yes” vote. Former grand muftis of the republic have issued clear statements where they encouraged a “yes” vote on the basis that this was religiously commendable. Religion in this context is also not being used to bring people together – but rather to build support for a partisan position on a legal document that is a genuine point of contention between Egyptians.

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By Aya Nader

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.

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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.

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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

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What Next for Egypt?

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.

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