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Prayers

Friday Prayers for Egypt: Starts and Fits

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God,

It can be difficult to begin again. Promising signs give way to more trouble. Egypt is looking to rebuild after several hard years of revolution.

Be with her.

The president has launched a new administrative capital city to house government by the end of the decade. But will it end as previous efforts, Cairo conquering all?

A new traffic law is drafted to better driving habits and reduce congestion. But is there will for proper enforcement, culture conquering all?

New Japanese-model schools are ready to open to instill better sense of discipline and education. But delays come with lack of transparency; corruption conquering all?

The military appears to be making gains against militants to quell terrorism and quiet the Sinai. But attacks continue as desperation rises; can a security commitment conquer all?

Tourism is rebounding from historic lows as beach and history are made more beautiful by depreciation. But the economy falters as inflation increases; can foreign currency conquer all?

God, give patience. God, give urgency.

Egypt is in a tricky place. There is enough stability to move forward. There is enough inertia to hold back.

So give wisdom. Give competence. Give vision. Give realism.

Give hope to the people. Give systems of merit and justice. Give space to live and thrive.

Give a new start, and fit all together. Trouble will come, and hard years continue. But rebuild.

Begin again, with your promise firm. Bless Egypt’s people. May they be yours.

Amen.

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Prayers

Friday Prayers for Egypt: Bread and Entry

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God,

Facing a severe decline in tourism, Egypt doubles the entry fee.

Facing corruption in the bread market, Egypt scales back supply.

Both decisions can be seen as sensible, God, but outcry is loud and execution haphazard. Give wisdom for right policy.

Immediately the government postponed the visa price hike, and hints a final decision has not been made.

Immediately the government distributed thousands of smart cards, to better document the citizen ration.

The tourism sector protested, and the government responded. The lower class demonstrated, and the government acted.

But God, aid in better pre-consultation. Widen the circles of policy discussion that all stakeholders might first come to consensus.

And aid in better administration. Wise projects poorly implemented can sometimes double disorder.

May tourists come. May people eat.

Open the gate that leads to peace; supply the bread that leads to life.

God, preserve Egypt as she finds her way.

Amen.

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Prayers

Friday Prayers for Egypt: Christmas, Safe and Suicide

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God,

There were two disturbing deaths in Egypt this week, but in perverse praise, at least they were individual.

Coptic Christmas passed safely. Two weeks ago a suicide bomber killed 28 worshippers near the papal cathedral, raising fears of holiday carnage.

God, thank you for the necessary security. Hasten the day it will not be required.

Help the president join you in making it so. For the third year running he visited the pope during Christmas celebrations, the first head-of-state ever to do so even once.

May this example spread to the people. May it encourage the many who need not the impetus. May it cower the few who by it are enraged.

Facts and motivations are not yet clear, God, but it appears one of these few slit the throat of a Coptic shop owner. A ‘bearded man’ was offended by the alcohol business, and took his understanding of sharia into his own hands.

Bring justice in the case, God, and may the president’s example spread beyond the holiday. May all crimes be prosecuted equally. May rule of law and citizenship be established.

And may the suicide of this week, in perverse hope, raise fears in the culture of corruption.

A high official in the judicial system hung himself in custody. He and others were charged with accepting bribes and profiting millions.

God, comfort his family. Have mercy on his soul. But if indeed he was guilty, follow relentlessly those of his ilk.

Stamp out corruption through proper investigation. Narrow its odds through judicious transparency. Let the examples that remain, in perverse relief, be individual.

Save Egypt from the systemic in all but peace and goodwill toward men. God, through the coming year may she be safe.

Amen.

 

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Prayers

Friday Prayers for Egypt: Corruption, Resolution

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God,

As Egypt made one statement, it deferred on another. May wisdom couple with pragmatism, but only where is right.

An official at one of the nation’s highest courts was exposed for taking bribes. As his case was paraded in the media, the extent of corruption is not yet clear.

But the president took occasion to renew the call to clean the system, asking that all be held accountable.

May it be so, God. Establish the systems necessary to create the fear of stepping out of line. And in conjunction, develop the integrity necessary that it might not be considered.

In process, move anti-corruption efforts from the spectacular to the mundane. Equip a cadre to ferret out irregularity. Expand their influence to change a culture.

And protect them, God. From without, from any enemies created. From within, from the enemy of the soul. How easily they themselves could be corrupted. How easily their work might manipulate in turn.

So as Egypt reaches out to assist those troubled by the economy, may it reach the needy at every level.

Support has been extended not only to the poor, but to struggling tourism facilities in need of renovation and to import-dependent businesses in fear of bankruptcy.

Meanwhile internationally, it is Egypt who stands in need of support. Keep her honorable in the pursuit thereof.

After raising a resolution at the UN against Israeli settlements, Egypt withdrew it in deference to Trump. She later voted in favor of a multi-national resolution she did not join in sponsoring.

Some say she buckled in support of the more needy Palestinians. Others say she brokered favor with the strong while not abandoning a principle.

God, decipher motivation and judge accordingly. But help Egypt to be true, and support her if she is.

For Egypt has also taken complicating positions toward Syria and Yemen. She dances with Saudi as the disputed Red Sea islands remain in court. She must resolve tourism issues with Russia and Britain. America gives millions in military aid; Israel is essential in border control.

God, give Egypt resolution. Free her from corruption.

Help her to wade through troubled waters with her head held high, with the confidence that comes only from uprightness.

Wisdom, God. Pragmatism, too. Peace, justice, prosperity. May they come in their fullness, and soon.

Amen.

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Prayers

Friday Prayers for Egypt: Review and Oversight

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God,

As the Egyptian parliament begins its constitutional mandate, provide it the wisdom necessary to serve the country well.

Its first task is the review the dozens of laws passed in its absence. Given the restricted timeframe of fifteen days, they are widely expected to pass the great majority. But particular attention will be given to the controversial protest, health care, and civil service laws.

So God, make this process more than a rubber stamp. Divide the parliamentarians well into committees of their expertise, and give each law its due.

Its second task is the oversight of government performance, of which it has authorized an investigation earlier than expected. The central auditor released a report detailing extensive state corruption, but a presidential committee said he misrepresented figures. Parliament will now weigh between them.

The auditor has been accused of working to bring down the regime on behalf of the Brotherhood. He says he has documents to back up his claims.

So God, divest this case of its political overtones. Open the books to allow full transparency, and call each expenditure to account.

Parliament is a diverse body, God. There are many serious members to be sure; but opening days have been a media circus.

In these early days, knit them together in partnership and divide them effectually over the issues. Give the body its weight as a separate power, to help hold the system in check.

May they lead, and help them serve. Bless Egypt, God, and the representatives of her people.

Amen.

 

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Current Events

Friday Prayers for Egypt: Corruption and Economy

Flag Cross QuranGod,

Will Egypt be serious? Can it be? Is tackling corruption really part of the agenda?

Cries of corruption are a time-tested way to taint an opponent. Given its assumed pervasiveness they may even be true. But as the minister of agriculture falls, as does – ironically – an anti-corruption activist, help the government tackle this issue at its roots, and not just trim the low-hanging branches.

Give them both a fair hearing, God. Them, and all others.

A former Mubarak-era businessman and politician, accused of widespread corruption, is trying to return to parliament. Subject to multiple trials and jail over the past four years, the legal tussle has been intense. Decide his case rightly, God, and all like him.

Give mercy to the repentant. Give candidacy to the legal. Above all, give discernment to the electorate. Keep corruption far from the coming parliament.

For beyond politics, corruption spoils the economy. The government is feverishly working to stimulate investment, cautiously working to enact reform.

The rich and powerful can tolerate corruption; perhaps they even benefit. But its costs are felt most harshly where economic revival is most needed. For the poor and middle class, it is hard to play on an uneven field.

But real growth is dependent upon them. Studies show the Egyptian economy is woefully top heavy. Corruption trickles down far more efficiently than capital.

God, how to even begin? Give officials wisdom and uprightness. Give functionaries a living wage and a tender conscience. Give the system transparency.

Give Egypt the people and will to make it happen. May it both accompany and spur a cultural change. And beyond accusation, may it bring healing. There are degrees of guilt, God. Let justice be blind, but also be nuanced.

Cleanse the nation, God. May prosperity come, to all.

Amen.

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Excerpts

Egypt and FIFA

FIFA-Egypt

First off, congratulations to the USA for winning the Women’s World Cup. But with corruption allegations throwing FIFA into a tailspin, here are some interesting tidbits from Egypt. First, on the nation’s resistance to corruption, said to cost it the 2010 World Cup. From Ahram Online:

Egypt refused to pay a $7 million bribe to ex-FIFA Vice-President Jack Warner to help Egypt win its bid to host the 2010 World Cup, former sports minister Aley Eddine Helal said on Thursday.

Egypt dramatically lost their bid to host the 2010 tournament, after failing to obtain a single vote in the 2004 poll for it, with South Africa beating competition from Morocco to win hosting rights of the football’s most prestigious tournament.

“I did not imagine that FIFA was so corrupt,” Helal told ONTV programme Manchet on Thursday. “Jack Warner demanded $7 million before the voting.”

“Egypt’s FA president El-Dahshori Harb met with the FIFA official in the United Arab Emirates and informed me that he wanted a $7 million bribe.”

“I told the EFA [Egyptian Football Association] president that Egypt could not participate in such a crime.”

There are mixed reports about corruption in Egypt, some showing improvement, one saying it is the worst in the world. But in this case, it seems, Egypt comes out clean.

But perhaps not here, though the charge is incredible. Ahram Online reports on the domestic league:

Ismaily, Egypt’s third-most successful club, want rivals Ahly stripped of the 2009 Premier League title following a corruption scandal that has engulfed world governing body FIFA over the past nine days.

Ahly defeated Ismaily 1-0 in a rare playoff six years ago to win the title, concluding the only exciting league race of the past decade and depriving their bitter foes of their first triumph since 2002.

Ismaily came within touching distance of the title on the final day after Ahly had scored two late goals to defeat El-Geish and force a decider, but in the end Ahly prevailed, thanks to a brilliant header from Angolan striker Flavio Amado.

“Ismaily demand an investigation into the 2009 league competition because of FIFA’s corruption,” the club, who were the first Egyptian side to win the African Champions League in 1969, said in a statement on their official website.

“The main reason for our loss was an illegitimate Ahly goal that was allowed to stand by the referee in their last league match against Geish … and we also want to know who was responsible for appointing a hardly known Spanish referee for the playoff.

“This Spanish referee also disallowed a goal by [midfielder] Mohamed Hommos against Ahly.

“After the recent discovery of the FIFA corruption saga, we will send a fax to the Egyptian Football Association to demand that we be awarded the 2009 title.

“If our demand is not met, we will file a complaint with the Court of Arbitration for Sport,” the club added, though it did not clarify how their loss against Ahly could be linked to FIFA’s corruption.

But not all believe Egypt is corruption free:

The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) have played down allegations by a Ghana FA member claiming that they offered a $1-million bribe to fix a 2014 World Cup qualifier.

Board member Kofi Manu was quoted by radio station Asempa FM on Wednesday as praising his boss Kwesi Nyantakyi for refusing “a $1-million inducement from fixers to throw the last match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier in favour of the Pharaohs”.

Egypt has denied the allegation. They lost the match 6-1.

FIFA scandals are brewing around the world; what will happen in Egypt next?

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Prayers

Friday Prayers for Egypt: Declaring Reform

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God,

The public statements coming out of Egypt are positive. Help the public reform to follow.

You know what is needed, God, but officials surely have an idea as well. The housing minister announced efforts to eliminate slums within a year. The interior minister called on citizens to report police abuse. And following visits by the National Council of Human Rights, the prison system will be subject to random and ongoing investigations.

Words are good, though deeds are better. Similar words have been spoken before. That they are spoken again puts confidence on hold.

So let confidence be earned, God. Place Egyptians in solid dwellings. Hold police to the highest standard. Respect criminals despite their crimes. And honor officials who honor your will.

Apply this will to the nation at large, God. In Upper Egypt the law is weak. In Alexandria the buildings collapse. Everywhere the poor exist.

And as Egypt follows up on its economic conference, create a context to facilitate investment, curb corruption, and distribute wealth.

Hope is high, God, and words are many. But reform is always difficult. Humans flee accountability and hide their faults.

Be gentle, but shine your light. Be merciful, but root out the wrong.

Stand with those who have declared reform, God. Strengthen their hand and firm their resolve. May they work with integrity to fight the status quo.

Make the benefit public, for all to enjoy. Bless Egypt and help her prosper.

Amen.

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Prayers

Friday Prayers for Egypt: Judicial Independence

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God,

Not one conviction was levied against those who killed protestors during the January 25 revolution. This fact is still not yet fully explained, but raised questions of whether or not Egypt’s judicial system functions independently of the powers-that-be.

These questions continue today. But this week a few Muslim Brotherhood members were found innocent of certain minor charges. More significantly, an officer was given a ten year sentence when 37 detainees from the pro-Morsi sit-ins were killed inside a police van. It may be that the law is blind.

The coming months will demonstrate. The president referred the fact-finding report from the sit-in dispersal to the judiciary, with its accusations of ‘excess force’. More serious trials against Muslim Brotherhood members continue. Will they judge impartially?

God, you know where justice lies; men make at best approximations. But may those of the judiciary be men of conscience. May they weigh the evidence and act accordingly. May they remember they hold the life of fellow human beings in their hands.

For the weight of accusation is against them, no matter how many are upright. The Judge’s Club has been called financially corrupt by the nation’s top auditor. The onus of revolutionary killings lingers. And while some detained sit in prison for months without trial, others are convicted straightaway. Many view judges as politicized, at the least.

What can be prayed for, God, but the above? The judiciary is but one of many state institutions that is still in flux since the revolution. Purge it from all impropriety. Make transparent its proceedings. Let the people trust its arbitration.

Through them or otherwise, God, bring justice to Egypt. Justice for victims of these transitional years. Justice for victims of the old regime. Justice against all who have manipulated the system for their own benefit.

Through them or otherwise, God, but may it be through them. May Egypt, and its judiciary, be fully independent.

Amen.

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Prayers

Friday Prayers for Egypt: Jazeera Journalism

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God,

Journalism is a difficult job, largely dependent on the conscience of the journalist. But not far removed is the outlet that pays the bills. Equidistant is the government which grants the credentials.

For all plying this trade in Egypt, God, give them grace, courage, humility, and discernment. Show them what stories to tell. Find them their credible sources. Fit all context into too brief reports. Help them help the world understand.

There is never one narrative, but ever a clamoring for it. The more insistence on a single storyline, the more resistance both issued and received.

And currently, al-Jazeera is in the crosshairs of both. The network challenges the government straight on, and its reporters have found themselves in jail.

Protect the free press, God, and keep the press free. Free from agenda, free from manipulation, free from the politics that birth many narratives. Help them tell the story, and get the facts right.

Free to expose, free to commend, free to hold all stakeholders accountable. Give government wisdom to encourage their work, knowing the curb on corruption comes best from outside. May it respect its people sufficiently to be transparent with them.

Grant this transparency, God, with respect to the Jazeera team. Journalism can clarify, but it can also obscure. Information is power, and journalists are gatekeepers. What keeps them the tendency to corruption but a monitoring presence?

This is the ideal, God, but bring it to Egypt. Give a fair trial to those in prison. Give fair coverage to those in the newsroom. Give fair oversight in fair space to operate.

Give Egypt and the world understanding on what is happening in the nation. However different the narrative, may both government and journalism tell the truth. May the conscience of all be pure.

Amen.