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.

43. Dār al-Ifta’: The House of Fatwá

The fatwá is commonly known in the West as a death sentence. Among Muslims, the fatwá can be among the most powerful tools of Islamic populism. On a third front, the fatwá is simply a bureaucratic function. Which definition encompasses reality?

 

42. Political chaos in Egypt; Parliament dissolved, presidential elections continue

Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday, June 14th about two major political cases that had been brought before court:

  1. Were the past parliamentary elections constitutional?
  2. Is the Political Isolation Law Parliament passed valid? This law bans members of the former regime from participating in politics for ten years to come.
29. Presidential elections, the need for uniting the country and CIDT remaining non-partisan

Egypt is preparing itself for the second round of presidential elections on June 16 and 17 with two remaining candidates: Ahmad Shafīq and Muhammad Mursī. These two candidates reflect a great division one sees in Egypt, between Islamists (Mursī) and those opposed to Islamists (Shafīq).

The choice is not an easy one.

41. The Papal Nuncio: Mgr. Michael Fitzgerald

With a touch of humor throughout, Mgr. Michael Fitzgerald introduced his role as the Vatican Ambassador to Egypt to a delegation of mostly Catholic Austrian students and professors from the University of Vienna. This visit was organized by Arab-West Report and was also attended by some staff and interns from Arab-West Report.

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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

Lawmaker Sayīd ‘Askar, Chairman of the People’s Assembly Religious, Social and Awqāf (Endowments) Committee, said there is no problem new churches are built in line with the Christian population in Egypt, reported al-Misryūn newspaper.

Jos van Noord, senior journalist with De Telegraaf, the populist Dutch daily newspaper, published in its influential travel pages an article calling for a boycott of tourism to Egypt and other Arab countries. The article is intended to put pressure on governments to protect Christians—at least this is what he claims. Van Noord is ill-informed and I argue that if one wants to support Christians in Egypt, one should promote tourism to Egypt. Christians in Egypt are better served if one is working for the good of all Egyptians.

 

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Newsclippings from International Sources

full list here !
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Alaa Saad left work at Shorouk News on the evening of Jan. 28 and walked to Tahrir Square. After arriving at the square, she walked to nearby Mohamed Mahmoud Street and took out her mobile phone to take a few photos of some graffiti. Such drawings fill the walls along the street and are a testament to the numerous events that Egypt has witnessed since the January 25 Revolution.

She said she had only taken one photo when she noticed someone forcefully pulling her shirt from behind, asking her, "What are you doing here?" When she turned around, she saw a woman dressed in a police uniform. She was a member of the women's police, and she grabbed at Alaa's mobile phone, trying to take it from her. She then grabbed Alaa herself and tried to pull her into a police car parked nearby.

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On Jan. 27, two important developments took place in Cairo. The first was that interim President Adly Mansour promoted army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to the rank of field marshal. Hours later, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which is headed by Sisi, officially convened to discuss the latest developments in the country as well as the issue of Sisi’s much debated and expected (and much demanded in some circles) nomination to the nation’s presidency.

While SCAF's resulting statement said that Egyptians will eventually make their will known through the ballot boxes, it did say that “SCAF could only look with respect and high regard to the will of the broad masses of Egypt’s great people in nominating Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to the presidency of the republic, and it considers this a [formal] commissioning and commitment.” The rest of the statement followed in the same tone, focusing on the voice of the public as being the main driving force behind this move. Sisi has yet to officially announce his candidacy, likely in part due to procedural issues including the necessity of his registration in the voters database, but it is largely seen right now as a foregone conclusion.

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Concentrated Power Looks Good Amid Chaos

By: Shadi Hamid

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.

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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.

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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.

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