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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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.

 

Ph.D. candidate, Emma Hayward wrote an interesting analysis for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on the current status of Coptic Christians in relation to the Egyptian state and concludes that their position is weakening. While it is true that Coptic Christians are now without an authoritative leader to give them voice, in particular in church-state relations, it is not true that they are “leaderless”. The Coptic Orthodox Church, to which around 95 percent of all Christians in Egypt belong, is now ruled by the Holy Synod. However, it is certainly true that Pope Shenouda was an authority and that most Copts believe they need a similarly strong leader to rule the church.

Ph.D. candidate, Emma Hayward wrote an interesting analysis for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on the current status of Coptic Christians in relation to the Egyptian state and concludes that their position is weakening. While it is true that Coptic Christians are now without an authoritative leader to give them voice, in particular in church-state relations, it is not true that they are “leaderless”. The Coptic Orthodox Church, to which around 95 percent of all Christians in Egypt belong, is now ruled by the Holy Synod. However, it is certainly true that Pope Shenouda was an authority and that most Copts believe they need a similarly strong leader to rule the church.

AWR researcher Jayson Casper sent me a link to a March 31 article titled “American Copts, Egypt and the Next Pope.” This text is very well written, but sadly the author is not known. The article was published on a blog called “Salamamoussa. Reclaiming Egypt,” named after Salāmah Mūsá (1887-1958), a well-known journalist, writer, and advocate of secularism and Arab socialism who was born into a wealthy, land-owning Coptic family in the town of Al-Zaqāzīq located in the Nile Delta.

The coverage of the Egyptian press on the March 19 terrorist attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, was not front-page news for al-Ahrām, al-Masā’ and Akhbār Misr Website but was reported in inside pages. Other print media neglected the attack which had left a rabbi who was the school’s Hebrew teacher, his two children of 6 and 3 years old, and a 8-year old girl dead. No official or unofficial Islamic organization in Egypt has issued any condemnation despite many previous Muslim fatwás prohibiting the killing of human beings, even if they are not Muslims. Akhbār Misr Website said that he was Muslim but other newspapers confined to only mentioning that he is of Arab or Algerian descent. They highlighted that the gunman belongs to al-Qaeda organization.

Martino Diez and Meriem Senous published on March 22 an interesting interview with Father Rafīq Greish, head of the Press Office of the Coptic Catholic Church in Egypt. We are providing here some excerpts with comments showing disagreement on a few points.

 

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Newsclippings from International Sources

full list here !
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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.

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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.

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CAIRO, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- The Muslim Brotherhood said Wednesday it was calling on Egyptians to display a sense of unity and devotion to the spirit of the 2011 revolution.

"As we welcome the third anniversary of the great Jan. 25 revolution, we call on everyone to honor it and its convoys of pure martyrs who have been and still are being killed," the now-banned movement said in a statement.

The Muslim Brotherhood's statement refers to events in 2011 that culminated with the resignation of longtime Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak . The Muslim Brotherhood supported Mohamed Morsi , who in 2012 became Egypt's first president ever elected in a democratic contest.

Morsi was removed from office by the Egyptian military in July amid growing frustration his administration was favoring the Islamic ideologies of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The movement said it made a mistake in trusting the military leadership that took power in the wake of Mubarak's resignation.

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Egyptians, passionate and elated, leap for joy in the aftermath of a major victory sealing the death of Morsi’s autocratic regime and his Muslim Brotherhood backers as Egypt’s new draft constitution is approved by a huge margin. A woman exiting a poll opens her heart and cries out to the object of her affection, “General Al-Sisi, I love you and I will marry you.” She is 75 years old.

Islamist poll judges were removed early on for directing voters to vote “no.” A 91-year-old Copt receives a cup of tea at his Cairo neighborhood poll after casting his vote where he was blocked from voting in two previous 2012 elections – the constitutional referendum and the presidential. Call it bogus as The Washington Post has or call it justice as Egyptians demonstrate.

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Jehane Noujaim's documentary The Square has been short-listed for the Oscar, is now available on Netflix, and recently won her an Directors' Guild Award. But it has still not been released or even screened at a festival here.

There have been a number of recent reviews, which in one way or another have raised the question of the film's viewpoint and its portrayal of a deeply divided, deeply confusing reality. 

At the New Republic, Eric Trager argues that Egypt's protesters also "bear responsibility for the mess that followed." 

But one year later—and only 15 minutes after Morsi’s victory in the 100-minute film’s run-time—the activists are suddenly willing to accept the military’s return to power. Morsi’s dictatorial maneuvers and theocratic ambitions, combined with his use of Muslim Brotherhood thugs to torture and kill protesters, has incited a mass movement against him, and the film’s protagonists eagerly take to the streets. “Do you think the Army will act in the same way it did?” Ahmed asks rhetorically. He clearly doesn’t think so, because he is once again caught up in the enthusiasm of yet another mass protest, and thus convinced that “Now the power is in the hands of the people.” It’s as if the film’s first hour and ten minutes never happened. It’s as if the previous military regime hadn’t shot Ahmed in the head.

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