Arab-West Report organized for the University of Vienna, Austria, a visit to see Egypt in transition. The program was very varied and well organized. The group was very enthousiastic. Egyptians were very hospitable and Egypt was not dangerous for foreign visitors unlike the impression one would get from Western media reports.
Following my lecture at Vienna University and Pro-Oriente in Vienna, June 20-23, 2011 we received the attached excellent recommendation for our work which, we hope, will result in a closer cooperation between our Egyptian NGO, Center for Arab-West Understanding (CAWU) and the University of Vienna. My lecture also resulted in a visit of an Austrian university delegation to Egypt that had the following purpose: Understanding place of Christians in a Muslim society, study possibilities for relations between University of Vienna and Egyptian institutions for the sake of advancing intercultural dialogue. The text of my lecture for the European Parliament on May 8 served as reading advice, click here.
The verdict passed by al-Minya Criminal Court on May 21 convicting 12 Copts and sentencing them to life imprisonment while acquitting eight accused Muslims in the same case, known as the Abū Qurqās sedition case, has caused widespread anger among the Copts. Arab-West Report asked intern Cassie Balfour to research the background of the arrest of 20 persons from Abū Qurqās, around 270 km south of Cairo, in beginning in April 2011 and the following verdict on May 21. It soon turned out that this could not be done with a simple internet search with (telephone) interviews, but that it was needed for an Arabic speaking person to investigate on location. Arab-West Report asked me to do so, not only because I know Arabic, but I also have friends in Abū Qurqās who were willing to help me understand what happened in this Upper Egyptian town.
[Editor: This is a report of a meeting between a delegation of the University of Vienna, Austria, and Dr.’Amr As’ad, former board member of the Center for Arab-West Understanding on May 25, thus before the second round of the elections. Yet, ‘Amr’s remarks are nevertheless still very interesting to read.]
A press release of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights Organizations claimed on September 27 2011 that between February and September 2011 100,000 Christians had left Egypt in fear for violence and uncertainty. The claims of EUHRO were accepted in English language media without much questioning while Egyptian spokesmen and newspapers were more critical of the migration figures as presented by EUHRO. Jaco Stoop provides an overview.
A number of websites and blogs have carried news of ‘crucifixions’ which are alleged to have taken place in Egypt on August 8, 2012. The event was appended onto a well established incident on the same day in which liberal members of the media were assaulted at the studios of Media Production City near the Cairo satellite developments of October 6 City. Those assaulted accused Muslim Brotherhood supporters of the attack and vandalism against their vehicles.
The Egyptian popular newspaper al-Fajr published the text of a leaflet calling to kill Christians, increasing fear among Christians in Egypt. Jihad Watch distributed news about this to a wide western audience, deeply increasing Western concerns for Christians in Egypt. Muhammad Habīb, former Deputy Guide for the Muslim Brotherhood Group (MB) denounces this call while AWR’s Editor-in-Chief Cornelis Hulsman doubts the leaflet exists or is distributed on a large scale but suspects al-Fajr wants to create tensions to incite a wider public in and outside Egypt against the Muslim Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party.
AWR's Diana Maher Ghali reviews Raymond Ibrahim's article “Copts to be Excluded from Egypt’s Constitutional Committee for Believing Jesus is Son of God?” on Jihad Watch on August 8, 2012.
Egyptian media gave much less attention to the July 18 attack that cost the lives of five Israelis and wounded thirty three as reported in Israeli and/or Western media. In this article I will list what I found in Egyptian (Arab) media:
In politics, spin is inevitable. But in times of great political struggle spin is often transformed into misrepresentation. In Egypt these days, as seen in the press, the Muslim Brotherhood is spun virtually into a dervish.
The unified houses of worship law, which regulates the construction of mosques and churches in Egypt, is still waiting for the parliament’s approval.
Egypt has entered into an agreement to buy S-300VM long-range air defence systems for about USD500 million from Russia, the Russian business daily Vedomostireported on 23 September, citing unidentified defence industry officials and a source close to the leadership of the state arms export agency Rosoboronexport.
When Abdul Fattah al-Sisi made public his intention to seek Egypt’s presidency this past March, he did so in his military uniform. While typical for the outgoing defense minister, many saw it as an affirmation that the country would be a military republic with Sisi at the helm. As his 100th day in office has come and gone, it is worth asking, is Sisi militarizing Egypt?