51. What’s Behind the Mubārak Verdict?

The headlines in the West will read, ‘Mubārak sentenced to life imprisonment.’ They may also say, ‘Egyptians take to the street in protest.’ Confused?

Unless one reads more deeply the obvious connection must be that protestors wanted his head, literally. The reality is rather simple, just not within the headlines.

Mubārak and the former Minster of the Interior Habīb al-’Adlī were convicted, but the chiefs of the Ministry of the Interior were declared innocent. The statement says there was insufficient evidence to link them to the charge of killing protestors during the revolution.

37. Egyptian Christians Back to Square One

This article was originally posted on Christianity Today, May 29, 2012.

Despite the best efforts of Christian and Muslim revolutionaries, the first free presidential election in Egypt's history has resulted in an all-too-familiar choice: old regime vs. Islamists.

The nation's Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission confirmed on Monday that the Muslim Brotherhood's Muhammad Mursī advanced to the run-off election against Ahmad Shafīq, former president Husnī Mubārak's last-ditch appointee as prime minister during the revolution's early days. Both candidates gathered nearly 25 percent of the vote. Only a few percentage points behind was Hamdīn Sabbāhī, whose late surge as the revolutionary choice was not enough to displace Egypt's traditional combatants.

36. Muslim Brotherhood Signs Agreement with Egypt’s Evangelicals

This article was originally posted on Christianity Today, May 31, 2012.

The first free election in Egypt's history has captured headlines worldwide with its unexpected runoff between a Mubārak regime figure and a Muslim Brotherhood leader.

Less known is that 17 Coptic evangelical leaders met with five Muslim Brotherhood counterparts at the Brotherhood's headquarters on February 28, and crafted a joint statement of common values that both sides agree the new Egyptian constitution and government should uphold. Evangelicals comprise a minority of Egyptian Christians, almost 90 percent of whom are Coptic Orthodox.

35. How MB-Evangelical Dialogue Began

On February 28, 2012 the leaders of the Evangelical Churches of Egypt met with the Muslim Brotherhood, and produced a document delineating the shared values of both organizations.

Seventeen evangelical signatories are listed; perhaps the one most surprising comes at the very end.

Rev. Rifa’at Fikrī is the pastor of an evangelical church in Shubra, a densely populated suburb to the north of Cairo well known for its high concentration of Christian residents.

Rev. Fikrī is well known for his strident anti-Islamist stance. In fact, it is this very posture which involved him in the dialogue in the first place.

72. Brotherhood Faces Both Ways as Egypt Votes for President

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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.

 

On March 4 a court sentenced Coptic Orthodox priest Makarius Bulus to six months in jail for preparing a falsified building permit for a church in Mārīnāb. The sentence was widely reported in particular in Western Christian media, in part as result of Compass Direct News reporting that is seen particularly in Western Evangelical circles. This report by Compass Direct News was deliberately unfair, misleading, partisan and Islamophobe.

 

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Newsclippings from International Sources

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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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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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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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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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