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.

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.

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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.

 

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.

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Newsclippings from International Sources

full list here !
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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.

(Ahmed Jomaa, UPI, Jan. 22, 2014) Read Original

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.

 (Dr. Ashraf Ramelah, Canada Free Press, Jan. 20, 2014) Read Original

Last summer, as unrest raged in Cairo, Egypt’s small Anglican community started looking for a way out. One family made for Canada, another went to Australia, and several emigrated to the United States.

As exoduses go, Anglican emigration has been small compared to the torrent of fleeing Coptic Orthodox migrants, but with approximately 3000-4000 congregants, the Anglican Church’s problems over the past few years have mirrored those of the wider Christian population.

When modern Egypt’s worst bout of sectarian violence erupted in August, few Anglicans were left untouched by the fallout. Two of the Anglican community’s 15 churches were attacked, while only the timely arrival of the army spared a third, and those inside it, from an irate mob intent on setting it alight.

The Coptic Orthodox community accounts for at least 95 percent of Egyptian Christians, and "when there are difficulties, they’re usually the ones to suffer," said the Reverend Drew Schmotzer, an Anglican chaplain in Cairo. "But we’re a minority within a minority, and we’re not strong on numbers."

(Peter Schwartzstein, Al Jazeera, Jan. 18, 2014) Read Original

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.

(Adel El-Adawy, The Washington Institute, Jan. 17, 2014) Read Original

IT IS an unlikely setting from which to launch a fightback against Egypt's new military rulers.

But a cramped flat above a disused kebab shop in North London has become the focal point of the Muslim Brotherhood's effort to regroup after President Mohamed Morsi was forced from office and his movement declared a terrorist organisation.

In Cairo the organisation is facing one of the toughest crackdowns in decades: thousands of supporters have been arrested, while organisations linked with the Brotherhood have had their assets confiscated. Mr Morsi, who was Egypt's first democratically elected president, faces trial for alleged treason, and he has been joined in the country's notorious jails by the group's supreme guide and most of its senior leadership.

The handful of senior figures that remain free have fled into exile, and have chosen London as a base from which to rebuild the organisation.

(Louisa Loveluck, The Telegraph, Jan. 12, 2014) Read Original