46. Powerstruggle in Egypt on the expense of Egyptian citizens

Who will be Egypt’s next president? Muslim Brotherhood leader Muhammad Mursī or the representative of the old National Democratic Party, Ahmad Shafiq? Both claim victory. Mursī has claimed victory from the first minute that the polling stations closed on June 17. How he could know this? I don’t know. While votes were counted claims from both parties that they had won the elections flew around. Until June 18 at around 15.00 hrs. Since then claims from both parties have ceased. They have been told to wait until the official announcement on Thursday, June 21 – if this comes and is not postponed. Many people fear the announcement of the next president will turn into fights. One MP who wanted to remain anonymous even told me he fear that it could turn into a civil war. That is how serious and deep the divisions are.

45. Rumored US support for Mursi/Muslim Brotherhood

Many Egyptians believe that the US supports Mursī and the Muslim Brotherhood in being the next president and forming the next government of Egypt.

As a US-born American, I have always loved my country, but I have seldom been a fan of US-government foreign policy in the Middle East whether manipulated by the Republicans or Democrats.

59. An American Priest in Cairo

Cornelis Hulsman, Editor-in-Chief AWR: We are very pleased that Douglas May started working with CIDT as international coordinator and financial manager on February 1, 2012. While Doug was appointed due to his financial skills and experience, he also has an excellent background in Muslim-Christian dialogue. His having worked with AWR cofounder Father Dr. Christiaan van Nispen sj for more than a decade has also been a definite plus in his work with us. CIDT agreed that Doug may contribute to the blog of Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA, www.cnewa.org). His blogs will be republished in AWR with credit given that he first published them for CENEWA.

 

23. Election Outcome: Confusion, fear for violence, and a military takeover

The presidential elections committee stated yesterday, June 17 that the results of the presidential elections will be announced on Thursday, June 21. Yet, both presidential candidates, Muhammad Mursī and Ahmad Shafīq, have claimed victory, both claiming to have received between 51 and 52 percent of the vote. These conflicting claims have resulted in confusion with supporters of both candidates believing that “the other” must be cheating. Ahmad Sarhān, spokesperson for Ahmad Shafīq, accused the Brotherhood of trying to create a "fait accompli" and of risking confrontation on the streets "when official results declare Shafīq to be the winner".

44. Egypt’s Hard Choice; The second round of presidential elections

[Editor-in-chief Cornelis Hulsman: we received this analysis from a friend of Arab-West Report. It is an interesting analysis but I do not fully agree and made my remarks in the text below.

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On June 14th Al-Misrī Al-Yawm reported that on June 13th tensions between Christians and Muslims flared-up in al-Sawāqī, a district in the Upper Egyptian town of Luxor, after one Muslim man allegedly verbally harassed a Christian woman. A group of Christian men reportedly retaliated by beating the Muslim harasser who was sent to a hospital after subsequently sustaining several injuries. According to Al-Misrī Al-Yawm, “dozens” of Muslim men in turn began targeting and throwing rocks at Christian individuals and Christian-owned shops.

 

On June 4, Raymond Ibrahim, sent out news with the title “Graphic Video: Tunisian Muslims Slaughter Convert to Christianity.” Ibrahim’s warning that the video is immensely graphic is certainly true. The description of the Arabic text is mostly but not entirely correct. Here lies the problem. Was the young man slaughtered really a convert to Christianity? Dutch Arabist Eildert Mulder does not believe so.

During the past few days some groundless rumors held that General Ahmad Shafīq made it to the runoff round against the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Muhammad Mursī thanks to Copts’ votes.

 

On April 26, 2012 Jihad Watch published a text of Raymond Ibrāhīm entitled “Muslim Persecution of Christians: March, 2012” which earlier had been published by the Gatestone Institute on April 25, 2012. Raymond Ibrāhīm, a Christian born and raised in the United States of America by Egyptian parent, wrote about a Muslim attack on a Christian school in Aswan, a harsh sentence for a Christian accused of disdaining Islam, the abduction of Christian children for ransom in al-Minya governorate and the verdict against the priest from al-Mārīnāb, Minya.

 

Al-Misryūn newspaper commented on the visit by Maj. General ‘Umar Sulaymān (the former vice president and excluded presidential candidate) to the Saint Mark Cathedral on April 14, 2012 to offer Easter congratulations to acting patriarch Bishop Pachomius and condolences over the death of Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III. [John ‘Abd al-Malāk, al-Misryūn, April 15, p. 1] Read original text in Arabic

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Newsclippings from International Sources

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On November 24, 2013, Egyptian Interim President 'Adly Mansour approved a bill for a protest law submitted to him about a month previously by the government. The new law sets restrictions for demonstrations and public gatherings, as well as protocols for security forces for dealing with demonstrations.

The new protest law allows nonviolent demonstrations and requires citizens to announce all demonstrations, gatherings, and marches three days in advance by filing an official request including the details and purpose of the demonstration as well as information about the organizers. The law allows the interior minister, or the security officer in charge on scene, to cancel a demonstration or change a march's route if there is any concern for security or public welfare, and also requires that he set up a permanent committee for every governorate that will be tasked with regulating and securing demonstrations and dealing with demonstrations that become violent. Demonstrating and gathering in houses of worship is banned, as are carrying weapons or explosives and wearing masks or otherwise concealing identity during protests with the aim of committing a crime. In addition, the law sets out methods that security forces may use for the "gradual dispersal" of violent protests, including water cannon, tear gas, clubs, smoke grenades, rubber bullets and even live ammunition; defines "disrupting traffic" as an offense allowing security forces to use crowd dispersal measures, and lists the penalties for those who break the law, which range from fines to seven years in prison.

 (N. Shamni, MEMRI, Jan. 28, 2014) Read Original

One of the Egyptian revolution’s original sins was sticking with a strong presidency. In young democracies with weak institutions, presidents are tempted to concentrate power -- and often find it difficult to resist. The strong presidency, which dogged Egypt for decades before the 2011 uprising, has been taken to its logical conclusion, with Field Marshall Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi riding a popular wave of mass hysteria and hypernationalism to the country’s top office.

Sisi’s millions of adoring supporters have convinced themselves that only another military strongman can provide the stability the country has so sorely lacked over three years of political turbulence. Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies argue that the coup has been “broken” and that the regime is dying a slow death. Both are likely to be disappointed. Egypt may continue to experience near-daily protests, suffer more terrorist attacks and see its economy further deteriorate, but none of that will necessarily bring down a powerful regime that enjoys huge Gulf support, U.S. and European acquiescence and, importantly, is willing and able to employ its full arsenal of repression. Brutal, unyielding repression can “work,” at least for a time, in the narrow sense of helping those in power maintain it.

The increasingly small number of Egyptians who can still conjure up the hope and power they felt during the 2011 uprising believe, understandably, that their countrymen will never go back to the way things were. But too many of them already have. As any number of episodes show, whether Algeria in the 1990s or Chile and Argentina in the 1970s, a people’s revolutionary and democratic spirit can be broken. And, despite all knowledge and experience to the contrary, it can take people a long time to wake up and realize what was done in their name and what they, themselves, chose to enable.

(Shadi Hamid, Brookings Institution, Jan. 28, 2014) Read Original

The Egyptian authorities hoped that the constitutional referendum would draw a line under the question of the legitimacy of the 3 July regime, and they are showing all the signs of believing that the 98 percent “Yes” vote means they have achieved that. Less than 40 percent of eligible voters actually voted, but then again only around 41 percent voted in the first constitutional amendment vote in March 2011, and even fewer voted for the constitution that was pushed through under the watch of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

At the same time, police, aided by the protest law, have managed to restore order to the streets and restore a basic level of security reminiscent of the Mubarak days. Defence Minister General Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi's argument that the country just wants to get back on its feet has certainly struck a chord with a large number of Egyptians, if not most, even if they don't like the military's intervention in public life. So far so good.

(Andrew Hammond, European Council on Foreign Relations, Jan. 23, 2014) Read Original

 

CAIRO, Egypt (BP) -- Egyptian voters have approved a new constitution, leaving Christians a bit more hopeful, though it does not secure basic rights for religious minorities.

One Egyptian Christian leader said the difference in attitudes he observed as he waited in line to vote was "a great tendency to celebrate a new Egypt that returned us back from the iron grip of radical Muslims," Mission Network News reported.

The country's new constitution was approved by 98.1 percent of the 38.6 percent of eligible voters who turned out for a two-day referendum in mid-January as the first step of a so-called road map to democracy. Next are presidential and parliamentary elections later this year.

Christians are expected to fare slightly better under the new constitution compared to the one drafted during the one-year presidency of Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was removed from office last July.

Specifically, the blasphemy statute that prohibited the "insult or abuse of all religious messengers and prophets," which was used against Christians, has been removed, according to Morning Star News, which reports on the persecuted church worldwide.

(Author not mentioned, Baptist News, Jan. 23, 2014) Read Original

01/23/2014 Egypt (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Coptic Christians in Upper Egypt continue to be targeted for kidnapping and extortion on a weekly basis. The most recent case occurred on Tuesday morning when masked men abducted 52-year-old Nady Farag Massad at gunpoint in the governorate of Minya. According to local sources, Mr. Massad was purchasing bread for his family at a local bakery when the gunmen forced him into their vehicle and fled the scene. Two days later, Mr. Massad’s kidnappers have yet to contact anyone demanding a ransom.

Mr. Massad’s kidnapping is only the latest in a string of abductions targeting Coptic Christians in Upper Egypt over the past year. According to Mr. Ezzat Ibrahim, the director of the World Center for Human Rights in Minya and Asyut, there have been dozens of cases. “In the year 2013, 69 Christians were abducted in Minya governorate,” Mr. Ibrahim told ICC. “Four of them were killed because their families were unable to pay the kidnappers that demanded ransoms, four of them were returned by the police, and 61 Christians were returned after their families paid a ransom ranging from fifty thousand Egyptian Pounds ($7,000)  to several million Egyptian pounds.”

Families unable to meet demands of the kidnappers must rely on police to find their missing loved ones. In a recent interview, Aziz Narrows, the father of Abanoub Narrows, a 14-year-old kidnapped last November, relayed his experience to ICC.

(Author not mentioned, Persecution, Jan. 23, 2014)  Read Original