60. The Goal of the Muslim Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood is a difficult subject to tackle. Some of this is the fault of others – there appears to be significant bias against them in many quarters. Some of this is their own fault – they are a closed organization accountable to no government oversight.

 

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".

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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

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.

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Newsclippings from International Sources

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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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Given the limitations and internal divisions of Egypt's various power centers, neither the military nor any other single institution is solely in charge at the moment.

The overwhelming "yes" vote in Egypt's army-backed constitutional referendum this week, based on a respectable reported turnout of around 40 percent, has led some observers to conclude that the military alone now runs Egyptian politics. True, the military remains the central pillar of all state institutions amid the ongoing turmoil, but it is not the sole decisionmaker. For example, since the June 30 revolution that ousted President Muhammad Morsi, other actors besides the military have made major political decisions such as cabinet appointments, formation of the fifty-member constitutional committee, and the drafting of the constitution itself. In fact, the post-Mubarak era has been defined by the emergence of multiple power centers that continue to influence the country's political trajectory.

BACKGROUND

Former president Hosni Mubarak led a tightly knit, centralized decisionmaking process driven almost entirely by the executive branch. Until around 2005, he was Egypt's strongman -- he trusted few, and he always had the final word about what would transpire in the domestic political scene. To be sure, he lost some control to his family members during the last five years of his presidency, a time when institutional and personal tensions were building within the executive amid wide disapproval of the plan to have his son Gamal succeed him as president. Nevertheless, Mubarak was still "the man" in Egypt, and if anyone convinced him of a policy, he had the resources and power structure to implement it. But all this abruptly changed after his February 2011 ouster.

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