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Concerning Islamism: Hands On or Off?

(from abc.net.au)
(from abc.net.au)

Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Institute is an insightful analyst of Middle Eastern affairs. Of Islamists in particular, he notes they often moderate under moderate repression, as witnessed under Mubarak. But intrinsically he finds them to be ‘illiberal’ in terms of Western values, though there is a strong undercurrent in his writing that the values of democracy demand they must be allowed to govern anyway.

Writing in the Atlantic, he chides President Obama’s ‘do-nothing’ foreign policy for main of the region’s ills, including allowing Egypt’s military remove the Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi in a coup d’etat that eventually resulted in hundreds dead during the bloody suppression of the sit-in protest at Rabaa.

America’s relative silence was no accident. To offer a strong, coherent response to the killings would have required a strategy, which would have required more, not less, involvement. This, however, would have been at cross-purposes with the entire thrust of the administration’s policy.

Obama was engaged in a concerted effort to reduce its footprint in the Middle East. The phrase “leading from behind” quickly became a pejorative for Obama’s foreign-policy doctrine, but it captured a very real shift in America’s posture.

It is a fine argument, though others have praised Obama for the wisdom of his foreign policy in a messy region. But beyond not criticizing the removal of Morsi, Hamid chides America for not holding Morsi himself accountable to a more liberal paradigm:

America’s unwillingness to play such a role increased the likelihood that the Muslim Brotherhood, empowered by its conservative base and pressured by its Salafi competitors, would veer rightward and overreach, alienating old and new allies in the process. As demonstrated in Egypt, the governance failures of Islamist parties can have devastating effects on the course of a country’s democratic transition.

Hamid appears to extend the ‘moderate repression’ argument to the realm of international politics. He highlights Turkey as an example:

After coming to power in 2002, the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) passed a series of consequential democratic reforms. The prospect of membership in the European Union helped incentivize the AKP to revise the penal code, ease restrictions on freedom of expression, rein in the power of the military, and expand rights for the country’s Kurdish minority. But when the threat of a military coup receded, and negotiations with the EU faltered, the AKP government seemed to lose interest in democratization, increasingly adopting illiberal and undemocratic practices.

His essay highlights that what Islamist believe and what they can accommodate pragmatically are often in stark contrast:

In 2006, the Brotherhood’s general guide, Mahdi Akef, told me angrily that “of course” the Brotherhood would cancel Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel if it ever had the chance.

Of course, Morsi did not cancel the peace treaty, though Hamid notes he once called Jews ‘the descendants of apes and pigs’. The Muslim Brotherhood realized its red lines, and even played a functional role in helping broker peace between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, he says.

But I not sure what is his overall argument, or philosophy. He notes Obama’s hands-off strategy, but earlier in the article he criticizes the hands-on support given to the region’s dictators. There is no either-or, of course, and it appears his preference is for the democratizing pressure from the Bush administration circa 2005, that opened up political space in the region, including Egypt, and gave Islamist entities – among others – wider space to operate.

But concerning that ‘illiberal’ nature of Islamism, is his solution altogether continual moderate repression? Whether from domestic or international agents, that seems open to criticism as well. Hamid levels it himself at the Egyptian military [SCAF] after the revolution and through the beginnings of Morsi’s presidency.

SCAF, though, grew increasingly autocratic, culminating in one very bad week in June 2012 when the military and its allies dissolved parliament, reinstated martial law, and decreed a constitutional addendum stripping the presidency of many of its powers.

Hamid calls these ‘egregious violations of the democratic process’, and there is little argument. But it can also be said they were among the few means left of moderate repression to constrain Brotherhood illiberalism. As already noted above, without international pressure from the US the Brotherhood went headlong into the arms of Salafis.

Modern world peace is based strongly on the idea of national sovereignty. Domestic repression is not healthy, while all sorts of pressure exist legitimately in the realm of international relations. Hamid alludes to it as ‘dependency’.

As long as Arab countries are dependent on Western powers for economic and political survival, there will be limits to how far elected governments, Islamist or otherwise, can go.

(If that dependency were to weaken in the long run, Islamists would likely pursue a more ideological, assertive foreign policy. Ideology, to express itself, needs to be freed of its various constraints.)

But if this is his belief, given all that Islamists have said about both domestic and international ideology, should they be given an opening at all? Why risk their partial empowerment? If their moderation came only from modes of repression, will not a true nature reveal itself when no longer constrained?

These are not comfortable questions to ask, let alone answer. But I am curious about Hamid’s answer.

(Note: Hamid’s book, Temptations of Power, likely addresses these issues.)

UPDATE: Hamid has been gracious to respond by Twitter. Below are his comments.

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Current Events

Friday Prayers for Egypt: Remembering Rabaa

Flag Cross Quran

God,

Two years are past, hundreds are dead. Help Egypt to remember correctly.

In response to massive protests against then-President Morsi, his supporters rallied in protests of their own. They continued several weeks after he was removed by the army. After several warnings to disband, the camp was cleared forcibly. Some policemen were killed, but so many more protesters.

God, give justice for every innocent life. Hold accountable every unjustified killing. Help Egypt recover and heal from a terrible wound.

But the call to remember Rabaa implicitly ignores other troublesome events. A second campsite also witnessed much loss of life, as did demonstrations before and after. Retaliatory attacks struck at police stations and churches throughout the country. Dehumanizing and sectarian rhetoric was hurled in multiple directions.

God, it was ugly.

Two years later much of the country has moved on. A new constitution was written and ratified. The military hero who overthrew Morsi was overwhelmingly elected president. Pro-Morsi demonstrations long continued, clashes ensued, and arrests multiplied. Things are much quieter now, but a terrorist insurgency feeds off the memory.

Some memories are selective, others choose to forget. But two responses are necessary, and seem purposefully ignored: Accountability and forgiveness.

In their place a sole word reigns: Retribution. One side enacts, the other calls.

Justice, God, could take its place, if agreement could settle on a definition. Mutual acrimony and mutual culpability sideline the possibility.

So what can be done, God?

For those aggrieved, touch their hearts. Direct their ire and guide their response, but let not their souls be poisoned. May they overcome hatred, and transform anger. For their own sake, Egypt’s, and the path of righteousness, help them forgive and respond in blessing.

For those aggressing, touch their conscience. Honor their duty and gird their devotion, but let not transgression be swept under the rug. May they be stricken in soul, and find restoration. Give all authorities wisdom, mercy, and firm commitment to rule of law.

But all this may not be enough, God. Behind Rabaa is also a clash of ideologies. Help Egypt to remember, but also to know herself. Guide all in creating the proper society, inclusive of as many as possible.

There, and in getting there, may Egypt heal.

Amen.

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Current Events

How Morsi Could Still be President

Catherine Ashton meets with President Morsi © EU
Catherine Ashton meets with President Morsi © EU

This article from Reuters details a deal that was in place, brokered by the EU with the opposition, that was spurned by Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, two months before he was pushed from power:

Under a compromise crafted in months of shuttle diplomacy by EU envoy Bernardino Leon, six secular opposition parties would have recognized Mursi’s legitimacy and agreed to participate in parliamentary elections they had threatened to boycott.

In return, Mursi would have agreed to replace Prime Minister Hisham Kandil and five key ministers to form a technocratic national unity cabinet, sack a disputed prosecutor general and amend the election law to satisfy Egypt’s constitutional court.

The article does not mention the ‘five key ministers’, but the guess is that they were the Brotherhood appointees in charge of influential posts in education, information, supply, and the like. The former prosecutor general was fired and the new one appointed in a process contrary to the constitution Morsi swore to uphold.

But the negotiations didn’t work:

People familiar with the talks said Saad el-Katatni, leader of the Brotherhood’s political wing, helped negotiate the deal but could not sell it to Mursi and key Brotherhood leaders.

A very important caveat:

Mursi, Katatni and senior aides are detained by the army at unknown locations and cannot tell their side of the story.

However, right until the moment the military toppled him on July 3, the president went on proclaiming his electoral legitimacy and showed no signs of willingness to share power.

Of course by right he did not need to. But this report indicates opposition efforts to work with Morsi were not just cover for an eventual ‘coup’:

On that trip, Ashton also met armed forces commander General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the man who led the military intervention to oust Mursi. Participants said Sisi had also supported the EU initiative, saying the army did not want to intervene in politics and would welcome a broader national consensus.

“Contrary to what the Brotherhood is saying now, the army did its best to keep Mursi in office,” one participant said.

The full story is yet to be written, but if accurate this report provides important details from behind the scenes.

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Current Events

The Countdown to June 30, in Retrospect

June 30 Revolution

Two years later, how did Mohamed Morsi lose power? What was the political climate like? How large were the protests? Was it a coup?

An Egyptian Christian, Paul Attallah, has provided a recap based on his email newsletter at the time. I often convey his information in my ‘analysis’ page, as his collection of news sources – most of which with links to the original articles – is sprinkled with commentary helpful in understanding the perspective of many in Egypt. It is very long, but lists events and perspectives perhaps forgotten during the momentous three days before.

So for readers interested in recalling those days of significance, Attallah starts his countdown with his original newsletter from June 27:


Rebel towards 30th June

Tamarod launches 30 June Front

In a press conference, a statement was released on behalf of the 30 June Front stating that it had been launched to represent a unified leadership for the coming phase. It added that the front would persist in peaceful demonstrations until achieving the goals of the 25 January Revolution.

Tamarod member Mona Selim stated that the Front resembles an operation room for planned protests, adding that it would start functioning upon its launch on Wednesday and continue until the “regime is toppled”. “The Front is an example of the revolution and not representative of it,” Selim said.

The Front roadmap

The Front offered a roadmap for the phase which follows the hypothetical removal of President Mohamed Morsi.

  • The roadmap involves choosing a prime minister from the national figures to take over the presidential powers and form a cabinet of national, efficient ministers. The cabinet’s top mission would be to devise a plan to “salvage” the economy and achieve economic justice.
  • The Front’s roadmap would also see the delegation of the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) chairman as president; his role would be honorary as the Prime Minister would have the executive powers.
  • As for the state’s internal and external security, it would be left to the National Defence Council to handle.
  • The 2012 constitution would be stalled and the current Shura Council would be dissolved, the Front’s roadmap dictated. Instead, a constituent assembly comprised of constitutional and legal experts would be formed to draft a new constitution and to temporarily take over the legislative authority.
  • The transitional period outlined in the roadmap is due to expire within six months, to be followed by presidential elections held with full judicial monitoring. After electing a president, the people would then move to parliamentary elections.

There is no other roadmap

Khaled Teleima, one of the Front’s founders, stated that this roadmap was structured following a full month of discussions between Tamarod and all “revolutionary and youth movements”.

“We ask of you all to adopt this roadmap and stick to it in the face of any other rival plans in order to preserve our unity,” Teleima said.

Shady Al-Ghazaly Harb, another founding member, stated that this roadmap is the only remaining roadmap for the next phase. “All other roadmaps proposed by other movements were eliminated in this one’s favour,” Harb said. “We had reached consensus with them all.”

Some Front founders

Other Front founders included: currently-detained political activist and blogger Ahmed Douma, former 6 April Movement member Esraa Abdel Fattah, formerly detained 6 April Movement member Zizo Abdo, Tamarod members Mahmoud Badr and Mai Wahba and Mohamed Abdel Aziz, Egyptian Social Democratic Party leading figure Bassem Kamel and Al-Tayar Al-Sha’aby spokesperson Heba Yassin.

El Gendy’s mother

The mother of alleged torture victim Mohamed El-Gendy, was among those who attended the press conference.

“I miss Egypt,” Al-Gendy’s mother said. “Just as I miss my son calling me ‘mother’. My children, would you be able to bring Egypt back to me?”

Morsy’s speech in two words:

He jumped over early elections and new Cabinet issues and talked about a “future” amendment of the Constitution (when we will have a parliament) and a reconciliation (based on what?)

He attacked his enemies:

  • The judges (Shafiq’s judge, corruption and fraud)
  • Private TV channels who are defaming him.
  • The intellectuals (by insulting their dean Makram Mohamed Ahmad (78 years) asking him if he is now a revolutionary). Does he mean that only the revolutionaries have the right to attack him? He is remembering me 6 April movement (this archeological group) who prevented other people to attack MB in Talaat Harb square: we are the only agents who are allowed to attack MB.
  • The remnants.
  • The army: By putting the responsibility of the actual disaster over Abdel Naser, Sadat, Mubarak and insulting Shafiq.

He presented himself in a new look: I am the army chief and the military ruler of Egypt. Without dismissing El Sissy he stressed that he is El Sissy’s boss. Is he really?

He tried to divide the Egyptian people by enforcing the duality: remnants and revolutionaries. This division is over. Now we have another one more interesting: MB and anti-MB.

He gave very sweet promises to the youth (he lost them already): youth leaders will get high posts in all governorates and ministries.

People’s reactions to the speech

I will start with people’s reactions. Some books you have to read from the bottom to the top to understand something.

One senior Western diplomat in Cairo said the army might try to impose a solution, especially if the political deadlock turns violent

“The margin for a political solution is definitely very narrow,” he said. “If (violence) crosses a certain threshold, the role of the army might become by default more proactive.”

At the International Crisis Group, Egypt analyst Yasser El-Shimy said he still doubted the army wanted, or would try, to take control and was more likely to push parties to compromise.

“What is going to be a game changer,” he said, “is whether the violence is so massive or out of control that the government is unable to function – which might be a scenario that some are hoping for in order to prompt the military to intervene.”

Abdallah Kamal: Morsi’s speech shows that he has deep problems with the army.

The speech reached a point beyond all expectations and a phase exceeding what could be tolerated and dropped to the lowest point of analysis. The president condemned all institutions and attacked all opponents. He fears the former and does not estimate the strength of the others.

Essam el Sherif: Morsy lost his equilibrium as he lost his legitimacy and he has nothing to do but to leave.

Morsy talked about his achievements. But deeply he has no achievements. He is the one who divided the Egyptians and participated in killing them. He is the one who accepted that the nation stands at the limits of an abyss to remain in power.

El Alayly: The events surpassed the opposition and the people decided to overthrow the regime and his brotherhood.

Revolutionary forces coalition: Morsi’s speech is a trial to put divisions between the people who will participate on the 30th of June.

Comment: Excellent comment.

El Aswany: Morsi’s speech presented his crisis with the people as a struggle with the remnants.

Comment: Excellent comment.

Sawiras to Morsy after attacking Shafiq: You too you are wanted by the Justice. I am fed up (from this speech).

Military source: El Sissy presence in Morsi’s meeting was a “protocol” and does not mean that he agrees with his speech.

Sabbahy: Morsy seven decisions show that he does not respect the people’s will.

Sabbahy: Morsy’s speech is boring and his decisions are not worthy to the presidency.

Khaled Ali: Morsy’s speech is disconnected from the reality and the revolt against him is a national necessity.

El Aswany: Morsy’s speech is miserable. You lost your legitimacy and you will be tried.

Mostafa el Naggar: Morsy gave his departure speech.

Abu Hamed commenting Morsi’s speech: The Judiciary, Mass media and the remnants are this regime’s complexes.

 

Michael Munir: The actual regime is actually the Copts scarecrow. In the beginning of your speech I thought that you will call for early presidential elections.

Sabbahy: Morsy condemned himself in his speech.

Free Egyptians in Red Sea: The president speech is like his clinical death.

Athar el Hakim: 30th June is the last chance for the Egyptians for participating to ask for their rights in a peaceful way or to withdraw from political life.

Ahmad Beder: I hope that the people will go to the street on the 30th of June 30 and will not fear any threats

The judge who had been accused by Morsi of fraud: I will take all legal actions against the president.

Judges will held emergency meeting today to sue the President for the judge accusations.

 

The speech

 Constitution and dialogue

Mursi offers constitution change before protests

President Mohamed Mursi offered opponents a say on Wednesday in amending a controversial new constitution and a forum to seek “national reconciliation”, as he sought to avert a violent showdown in the streets.

He said he was inviting party leaders to meet on Thursday to choose a chairman for an all-party committee that would prepare amendments to the constitution. It was pushed through a referendum late last year with Islamist support, but many in the opposition say the document is flawed and biased against them.

Mursi also said he was forming a committee of leading public figures, including Muslim and Christian clerics, to promote “national reconciliation”.

“I say to the opposition, the road to change is clear,” Mursi said, pointing to parliamentary elections expected later this year. “Our hands are extended.”

Mursi called for calm

“I say to all those planning to take to the streets to keep the protests peaceful and not be dragged into violence as violence will only lead to violence. Protests are a way of expressing an opinion – not imposing one”.

Comment: What he presented for this calm? Nothing but dreams.

Drag: Dostur (constitution) party will not participate in the president dialogue about the constitution amendments.

Is he living in Egypt and in another country? I doubt that he lives in Egypt. The Egyptian people will have the paradise for listening to such speech.

Youth

I will in charge the ministers and the governors to appoint young assistants to them less than 40 years.

“The youth were never given a chance to play a role in the country, and for that I am sorry,” he said. “I will make sure they do soon.” 

Mursi acknowledged the hardships many of the young who saw hope in the revolution have had in an economy mired in crisis and offered them reforms and, in time, a higher minimum wage and reductions in unemployment, targeting a drop to 8 percent.

He said he wanted young people to be more involved in politics and promised parliamentary elections.

Remnants

No compromise with the remnants of the former regime even if they will be innocent!

President says former PM Shafiq must return to be tried

Former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq has squandered more than 700 million Egyptian pounds in a deal to buy aircrafts during his tenure as minister of civil aviation, President Mohamed Mursi said on Wednesday.

Shafiq must return to be tried in a corruption case involving land plots, Mursi said in a speech aired live on national television.

Shafiq is “wanted for justice”, Mursi added.

Copts

Morsy to the Copts: The former regime presented everything Islamic as a scarecrow and that’s wrong

Morsy new look: the military ruler of Egypt

No divisions or discord between the president and the army: The President is (I am) the Supreme chief of the army (= they must obey to me).

Morsy vows military trials for those who will offend him or offend Egypt and the army.

It’s Mubarak and opposition fault

“I took responsibility for a country mired in corruption and was faced with a war to make me fail,” he said, naming some senior officials, including the man he beat in last year’s presidential run-off, as well as neighbourhood “thugs”. He also slammed some owners of hostile media, accusing one of tax fraud.

Some enemies were abroad, he said, without elaborating.

Opposition fault

In a swipe at opponents who have failed to match his Muslim Brotherhood’s disciplined approach to winning elections, he said politicians who failed to accept his offers to cooperate had left young people with no outlet for opposition but the street.

“Political polarisation and conflict has reached a stage that threatens our nascent democratic experience and threatens to put the whole nation in a state of paralysis and chaos,” he said. “The enemies of Egypt have not spared effort in trying to sabotage the democratic experience.”

Radical measures

“I was right in some cases, and wrong in other cases,” he said. “I have discovered after a year in charge that for the revolution to achieve its goals, it needs radical measures.”

Corruption

“I took responsibility for a country mired in corruption and was faced with a war to make me fail,” he said, naming several officials he believed wanted to “turn the clock back” to the Mubarak era, including politicians, judges and a journalists.

Dividing people in revolutionaries and remnants

He accused former regime figures, such as Mubarak oligarchs Safwat El-Sherif and Zakaria Azmi, of working to destabilise Egypt.

“Soon Safwat El-Sherif and Zakaria Azmi will be considered ‘revolutionaries’ as well. Why not? Everyone has been acquitted,” he said, noting that Egypt’s court system had exonerated most former regime figures implicated in cases of corruption.

He also took a swipe at Ahmed Shafiq, the Mubarak-era’s last prime minister and Morsi’s nemesis in last year’s presidential polls.

“Ahmed Shafiq – is he a ‘revolutionary’? He’s wanted [by the authorities],” the president said, in reference to the host of corruption charges that Shafiq – currently based in the UAE – faces in Egypt.

“He’s based abroad yet continues to call for toppling the [Egyptian] government,” Morsi said of Sahfiq. “Is that not a crime?”

Comment: If both of them are against you, what hell are you doing? Are you dreaming that they will start fighting and leave you in peace? Will you provoke a fight between them through your hidden agents?

Morsy accuses owners of private TV channels to denigrate his image.

Morsy invites political forces for a meeting on Thursday 27 June to discuss the constitution amendments.

Comment: Who is free now for these bullshits?

The army

Military beefs up security ahead of protests

The military will take “all necessary measures” to secure the country ahead of the 30 June protests, the armed forces announced Wednesday amid a nationwide push to reinforce bases, major thoroughfares and vital institutions.

The military began securing Media Production City in Cairo’s 6th of October City on Tuesday evening with armed vehicles and infantry in an effort “to allow media outlets to work with the utmost freedom,” reported state-owned news agency MENA.

On Wednesday the military intensified security in the vicinity of the presidential palace and blocked entry roads, as well as the Maspero state-owned media building and the Central Bank of Egypt.

A plan is in place to protect “vital institutions,” a military official told MENA, including “the exits and entrances” to Cairo and 6th of October City. He added that deployments would be restricted to the outskirts of the major cities. (More…)

Egypt’s military moves troops near cities

Egypt’s military on Wednesday brought in reinforcements of troops and armor to bases near Egyptian cities ahead of weekend protests planned by the opposition to try to force the Islamist president out, security officials said. (More…)

Shafiq

SEC postpones decision on Shafiq’s appeal to Thursday

The Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC) decided on Wednesday to postpone until Thursday its decision on the appeal of former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq.

MENA reported on Wednesday that the decision to postpone was due to the death of SEC Head Maher El-Behairy’s brother.

Muslim Brotherhood

Muslim Brotherhood mufti trapped in mosque

A Muslim Brotherhood sermon against participating in upcoming anti-government protests led to an altercation outside a mosque in a town in Sharqiya on Tuesday night. Over 16 people were injured according to an FJP media officer.

Ahmed Ragab, member of the Al-Dostour Party’s high board in Sharqiya, said Brotherhood mufti Abdelrahman Al-Barr gave a sermon at Helmy Mosque in Ibrahimiya in which he stated that  those who protest on 30 June  are against Islam. People in the vicinity took issue and surrounded the mosque in protest. In response, people inside the mosque barricaded the doors to protect Al-Barr. Ragab said security forces eventually arrived to escort Al-Barr from the mosque and disperse the crowd.

Ragab said: “People are used to this sort of incitement against the protesters when it’s at a national level, but when it takes place inside towns, then you’re inciting violence between the townspeople.”

The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) media officer in Sharqiya, Ahmed Gaber, presented a different account.

Gaber alleged approximately 300 “thugs”, some armed with shotguns, attacked the mosque. Gaber added that after they attacked the mosque the assailants looted a nearby Muslim Brotherhood office and set fire to several houses of Brotherhood members. Gaber said the attacks continued until the early morning.

“The entire city was incited to come and slaughter the ‘livestock’ in the mosque,” stated Gaber.

Gaber said the violence began before Al-Barr gave his sermon, and accused members of the dissolved National Democratic Party of being responsible.

He added: “This attack could not possibly have anything to do with the opposition. This isn’t politics, this is criminal.”

Morsi’s torture cases

Report: 359 torture cases during Morsi’s first year in power

Three-hundred and fifty-nine torture cases have been recorded since President Mohamed Morsi became president in June 2012, according to an annual report by Al-Nadeem Centre for Rehabilitation of Torture Victims.

The report was released Wednesday to mark the International Day Against Torture and provided a detailed list of torture cases in Egypt over the past year.

Some of the cases included more than one victim; all were tortured during the same incident and thus counted as a single case, said Aida Seif Al-Dawla, psychiatrist at Al-Nadeem Centre. The totals were all based on media reports.

However, as Al-Dawla qualified, “those are only the victims who could be reached.” She added that many more victims exist who were unable to reach out to the media or human rights groups.

Article 126 of the penal code defines torture as any physical or mental pain or torture exercised to extract testimony from detainees.

“It’s not about the figures,” Seif Al-Dawla said. “The point is that torture is still widespread and systematic. It still goes without punishment.”

Free opinion

Maspero fights the presidency

Presenters at state-owned station Radio Misr released a statement Tuesday objecting to what they called “the repeated [political] interference” in their work, stating that they would defend their “right to provide an objective, impartial and professional coverage of the crucial events that the country is experiencing.”

The statement added, “We are being subjected to intense pressures [which] prevent us from accomplishing this duty; hence we dissociate ourselves from any directed, incomplete or not transparent news that is broadcasted via our radio.”

Radio presenter Sarah Abdel Bary said in a Sunday airing of her programme “from the heart of Cairo” that the presidency had interfered in the station’s programming, imposing guests and topics to serve particular political goals.

Mohamed Hassan El-Banna, editor in chief of state-owned newspaper Al-Akhbar, announced his resignation on Tuesday in protest of the interference of certain Muslim Brotherhood figures in the editorial policy of the newspaper.

El-Banna stated in his article on Tuesday that “Egyptian journalism is going through one of the worst periods ever,” adding, “I [present] today my resignation from the position of editor in chief, rejecting any exerted pressures from anyone, particularly those who belong to the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Comment: If the people’s majority are against MB and if this brotherhood is riding the State media, who will buy their newspaper and who will watch their programs, who are the stupid companies who will pay money for publicity and how they will be able to pay people’s salaries? And how could they take people’s money (taxes) to run a MB horn?

Clashes

Egypt factions clash in Alexandria

Supporters and opponents of Egypt’s Mohamed Mursi clashed in the second city of Alexandria, throwing rocks and firing shotguns early on Thursday as the Islamist president made a keynote speech in Cairo.

A Reuters reporter saw dozens of youths approach a rally of Mursi’s supporters in the Mediterranean port and the two sides then fought. There was no immediate information on casualties.

Tahrir square (well comeback)

In Cairo’s Tahrir Square for Morsi speech, protesters divided on army intervention

A few thousand protesters gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square Wednesday eveningin anticipation of a national address by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi scheduled for 9:30pm.

Opinions in Cairo’s flashpoint protest venue varied regarding the prospect of possible military intervention in Egypt’s fraught political stage.

According to Ahram Online correspondents at the scene, a number of placards bore pro-army slogans, including the standard ‘The people and the army are one hand’ – an oft-voiced slogan during and after Egypt’s 2011 uprising.

A smaller group of people arrayed in the square, however, repeated chants against the army, rejecting suggestions that the armed forces reassume administration of the nation’s affairs in the event that Morsi step down.

Some Egyptians are calling on the army to assume executive authority for a temporary period and to appoint a new ‘national unity government’ if Morsi is toppled.

Meanwhile, hundreds have gathered in front of defence ministry headquarters in the eastern Cairo district of Abbasiya to demand that Defence Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi take over power from President Morsi.

People’s voice

Across Cairo, districts brace for 30 June and beyond

Heliopolis, adjacent Nasr City and distant Muqattam districts are set for tense times amid what are likely to be, 30 June, the biggest protest demonstrations since the fall of Mubarak

 Ahmad the pharmacist

“We are not sure how things will go. We anticipate that any trouble will be around the presidential palace in Heliopolis, but you never know. The protests might also come to the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood, so we are taking precautions here too,” said Ahmed, a pharmacist who works on Street 10 of Muqattam, only a few buildings away from the three-floor headquarters of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood, established after the January 25 Revolution that ended decades of persecution of political Islam.

A few weeks ago, Ahmed recalled, the pharmacy had to shut down its doors when angry protestors amassed on the headquarters to express anger and fury over state mismanagement and excessive partisan bias on the side of the Muslim Brotherhood.

“The thing is that it is Mohamed Morsi who rules, but because it is the conviction of so many people that Morsi is only a puppet that the Muslim Brotherhood moves around, the anger is always directed against the Guidance Bureau — so there is a high probability that Muqattam would have its share of the furor that the nation will see 30 June,” Ahmed added.

Saad

“As Egyptian citizens, we support the demonstrations for sure, because we simply wish to see an end to this economic and security decline. But as residents of Muqattam, we do have our security fears, because for all we know, protests could create enough havoc that might start incidents of looting and harassment. We are working on extra security precautions and we have asked our wives and daughters to be super careful,” said Saad, a resident of the same street of the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters.

Nagla

Nagla, a resident of Heliopolis whose house is only a 10-minute walk away from the presidential palace is also praying for peace and safety. Unlike Ahmed and Saad, Nagla is not speculating about demonstrations but awaiting them, as the call was made for demonstrations to gather in front of the presidential palace in her district.

“We were hoping when Morsi got elected that security measures would be lighter than those of the days of [ousted president Hosni] Mubarak, but we got a much worse set up. In the beginning, things were alright but it did not take them very long before they started to block the streets and introduce tough security measures,” Nagla said.

She added that for her, the worst part is not about the security measures, “because at the end of the day these take a half hour or so and they end. But with the demonstrations you never know when they start and how they would end, and you never know what kind of looting and destruction would come with it.”

Nagla and her husband Mohamed say they fear that their cars would be damaged in the middle of riots. They say they thought about leaving both cars next to Mohamed’s parents house in Dokki, “but then again we thought that we would not easily find taxis that might wish to drive in and out of Heliopolis, so we decided to keep the cars and hope that the demonstrations do not exceed the streets that the palace immediately overlooks,” Mohamed said.

Shops owners

The worry of Nagla and Mohamed over their cars is nothing compared to the worry of the owners of restaurants, hairdressers, jewelers and doctors whose clinics overlook the presidential palace or are not far from it.

Mona clinic assistant

“We are taking 30 June off and we have alerted our patients who are booked for their medical visits on Monday (1 July) to call us in the morning to confirm that the clinic is operating,” said Mona, an assistant at a Heliopolis gynecologist’s clinic not far from the presidential palace.

Mona spoke to Ahram Online after having finished arrangements for Mai, a pregnant lady, to have a hospital reservation booked for her “slightly early planned birth on 28 June.” Mai was supposed to see the birth of her first child during the first week of July, but she thought it not wise to take any risks given that she lives in Heliopolis and that the hospital she is expecting to deliver in is also in Heliopolis. “It is all within this part of Heliopolis, which is not really far from the palace. Better safe than sorry,” she said.

“Better safe than sorry” are exactly the words many people in Heliopolis and its adjacent Nasr City use to justify extraordinary planning for 30 June.

Mariam

Having filled the trunk of her car with piles of groceries, Mariam, said that she could not take any risks on a food shortage “should the protests take longer than just a few days.” “With three children and my mother-in-law living with us, I cannot take the risk. I can live on anything, and my husband too, but this is not the case with children and elderly people,” she said, tipping two assistants from the discount grocery store who had brought the many shopping bags to her car.

“Ramadan is coming upon us and we don’t know how things will go,” she added.

The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan is an occasion for family dinners and it is expected 10 or 11 July.

“We don’t know if things will have ended by then, and anyway we don’t know how things will end. We might end up with a curfew and serious food shortages; the banks may be closed and we may be unable to access our accounts to do our shopping; we simply don’t know how things will develop,” said Nermine, another Nasr City resident who was busy with her grocery shopping.

Nermine

Nermine is particularly concerned because “the Muslim Brotherhood tend to occupy the main streets of Nasr City to protest against the Morsi opposition and we could end up being blocked inside our houses. This is what happened yesterday; I did not dare to leave the house the entire day and prohibited my children from going out.”

Nermine lives not far from Rabia Al-Adaweiyah mosque in Nasr City that was venue of pro-Morsi mass demonstrations Friday. Participants arrived to the mosque as of the early hours of the day in endless buses and would not leave before it was late evening. Nermine, a lawyer, notified the firm she works for that if “they come again on 30 June, and this is what we hear they will be doing, I will be taking time off. I cannot take the risk of being held in the middle of such a crowd.”

Between the Itihadeyya and Al-Kubba Palace

Concerned about being held up in the middle of demonstrations, presidential staff was given an alert that they might be operating from Al-Kubba Palace to avoid being at Al-Ittihadiyah Palace whereby the protests will be. Morsi himself might not be using his Al-Ittihadiyah offices during the early days of the protests, and he might be on an overseas trip, according to a tentative schedule that keeps changing.

There is no clear assessment of the duration of the protests, but according to several key activists it would be no less than three to four days. Many suggest it will not be easy, if even it is possible, to force an agreement from the ruling Muslim Brotherhood to hold early elections.

Equally put on alert are the staff of the Ministry of Defence, with strong expectations that the demonstration that was staged in front of the ministry yesterday demanding a military coup would be repeated on a much larger scale.

Articles

Alaa el dine Abdel Moneim

The Egyptians are welcoming the returned Egypt

On the 30th of June the Egyptian will starts welcoming the returned Egypt into the arms of her children.

Egypt had been hijacked by the extremists since one year. They did not treat this country in a decent way and took from it security and safety. They reduced it to a humiliating poverty and wanted to submit it against its will to their power and their dark ideologies by scaring and terrorizing the people to keep them under their control for ever.

The truth is that all factors are encouraging the Egyptians to go out and welcome Egypt with a decent hospitality which it deserves.

The first factor is this political thick idiocy of MB and their dependencies which succeeded in less than a year to reveal their reality which has been hidden from the people’s majority over the past years,

The second factor which confirms the 30th of June success is that this invitation did not come from the opposition with all its factions but from the promising Egyptian youth capable of protecting it and having no ambition but Egypt’s interests and its people. People believed them in millions.

The third factor is this national attitude of the army towards the people to whom they announced that their loyalty will not be to any political faction but to the people. El Sissy announced strongly that it is not morally accepted that the army leave the people scared without protecting them. He said literally: Is better for us to die.

The generals and officers reaction was clear: all of them stand up to approve the position of their commander.

At the same time the police leaders said it clearly: We will not stand against the people in his uprising but we will defend him.

The fourth factor and the most important is this wonderful insistence of the simple people of Egypt in all the provinces to restore Egypt from those who want to dispel its light and turn off the flame of civilization, dragging it into the morass of poverty, ignorance and backwardness.

Adel Heine

Fuel and fear

Since I have been back, however, I have been warned by Egyptians from all walks of life that the upcoming first anniversary of the presidency is going to bring trouble, of the bloody kind. I have been advised to make sure I have enough food and water in the house if I decide to not leave, to make sure my locks work and maybe add another one and to not venture too far so I can get back inside quickly if needed. And as the day is getting closer the messages of doom are increasing.

The strangest thing of all is that every single cabdriver I met since I returned has ended our conversation with the same phrase, something I never thought I would hear. Make sure to be careful, they tell me, and take this seriously because we are afraid. All of us are afraid.

I never thought I would have to adjust to that.

Farid Zahran

What is the nature of the relationship between the three groups of the political Islamist movement?

The three groups share a common framework, since they all claim that they only observe God’s law, and that their main references are the Quran and Sunnah.  However, the members of the Muslim Brotherhood are mainly engrossed in the writings of Hassan Al Banna and Saiyyid Qutb. In addition, Salafis and members of Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya focus on the writings of their own groups’ sheikhs and imams. Therefore, in each group, the Quran and Sunnah are read in a different way, and therefore explained in three different ways.

(…)

Why didn’t the political-religious conflict ever lead to a permanent clash? There are several explanations, and one of them is that the three groups agree on the main goals or strategy:  to establish Muslim rule centred on a Caliphate state and application of Shari’a. Their points of difference mainly revolve around how to face the hostile forces keeping them from attaining their goals. The relationship between owners of the “Islamist Project” and the ruling power or authority is what characterizes the nature of the relationship between the groups’ strategic goals and obstacles.  The forces that hinder the Islamist Project are the ruling authorities, and the ruler’s faith determines the tactics and methods used by the project. The conflict between the three groups mainly revolves around whether the ruler is blasphemous or just disobedient.  From there, the different tactics are chosen and formed.

As one of their sheikhs informed me when I met him in prison, the conflict lies in the methods that would enable them to apply the Islamist Project. “We excuse each other in conflicts regarding how to attain power because we agree on the necessity of reaching power, regardless of the method, so we can apply the Islamist Project,” he said. I believe that his words are notable, which leads me to believe that the relationship between the three groups is like the relationships between pots that knock into each other in a complex network of canals.

For example, each Salafi can become a Jihadist if he resorts to changing evil in person, instead of just through talk. Meanwhile, the Brotherhood sees Jihadists as overly zealous youth, who does not appreciate the value of preparing society for the application of God’s law. At the same time, many Salafis see the Brotherhood as those who let go of traditions to make political compromises, but they do not pressure the Brotherhood to stop doing that, not as much as they pressure democratic powers to not bother the Muslim Brotherhood. In addition, the Brotherhood makes sure it appears as the victim and the one that always seeks the help of other traditionalist powers such as Salafis or more radical powers such as Al-Jamaa so as to face secular pressures.

(…)

Therefore, the unity of the Islamist political movement is not only logical, and depends on a shared framework and goals, but it may depend on one organised administration through a highly complex method, which relies on the concept of remote control.


Now, from June 28:

Nazi, Fascist political parties and MB

It is interesting to notice that MB had been founded in March 1928 by Hassan el Bana and six of his colleagues, during the same decade in which the Nazi and Fascist parties had been founded.

What happened in Germany and Italy in 1928?

Federal elections were held in Germany on 20 May 1928. The recently reformed Nazi Party contested the elections after their ban ended the previous year. However, the party received less than 3% of the vote and won just 12 seats in the Reichstag.

In early 1925, Mussolini dropped all pretense of democracy and set up a total dictatorship. From that point onward, the PNF was effectively the only legally permitted party in the country. This status was formalized by a law passed in 1928 and Italy remained a one-party state until the end of the Fascist regime in 1943.

What does it mean?

It means that MB had been created from the same Nazi/fascist womb. But unfortunately, MB creature succeeded to see the light after a very long pregnancy of 75 years, a time in which we got internet, twitter, satellites, etc. etc. How those people who are coming from this dark womb would be able to survive in this new era?

Statements of the day

Tawakkol Kurman: Morsi’s speech divided the world in MB and remnants.

Military source: The deployment of military forces was made after consultation between “Sisi” and the Chief of Staff despite Morsi’s reservation especially regarding the Media City.

El Sissy had been surprised by Morsi’s attack on some persons. The speech represents the presidency point of view and not the military institution point of view.

The army position regarding the 30th of June protests did not change. The fact that Morsi is the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces does not mean that the army carried out his orders according to the principle of obedience. The army will not stand in front of the popular will and its mission is to protect peaceful demonstrations.

Watch the army deployment video

Heykal

Ahmad Hassanein Heykal: What is expected from the Egyptian people is to announce firmly his position. We cannot ask the people to get rid of the regime. Other parties must take in consideration and respect this people’s position and decision: The army and foreign countries.

(No reference for this text: I just listened to him yesterday)

The whole interview with Heykal in Arabic.

Minister of Awqaf joined MB choir: We are facing a real attack against Islam. Any person who will consider it in another way is sinner!

Comment: Shame on you Minister of awqaf, responsible of all Egypt’s mosques and preachers. Shame on you! One day people will spit on your face. Disgusting man who said when he had been appointed as minister: I will not tell you now my belonging. Why? Are you working in a bordello?

Eh Shahat (Salafist): We refuse to be in confrontation with the people.

Hamas discusses MB crisis and today’s preaching in Gaza to support the brotherhood.

Comment: Well come back comrades. Failing to convince the Egyptian people, MB are hiring our neighbors in Gaza. Why not? If we accepted the principle that Egypt could send guerillas to Syria to support the Islamists, why are you preventing other guerillas to be sent to Egypt?

Ultras Ahly (after a long silence) to Morsy: El Hassan waived the caliphate to Muawiya to prevent bloodshed

(This is polite way to say to Morsi: we are not with you)

Rumors

Military expert: confirmed information are assuring that MB are preparing a slaughter against the army.

Comment: Nobody will stop us, not even the army. We have already the Syrian experience in which we are fighting against the army and we are the good guys. It seems that this is want Hazem Abu Ismail meant when he said: we will be obliged to refer to the job we have to do, commenting El Sizzy statement in which he defended the Egyptian people.

Islamist today protests

Cairo’s Nasr City to host pro-Morsi rallies on Friday

On Friday, two days before President Mohamed Morsi marks his first year in power, Cairo’s Nasr City will host mass rallies to support the president propelled to power last year by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) confirmed at a Thursday press conference that it was calling for rallies and an open-ended sit-in on Friday at Cairo’s Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque, in a show of support for the embattled president and his “democratic legitimacy.”

At the FJP’s Thursday press conference, senior party figure Gehad El-Haddad echoed the president’s tone, blaming the violence on “thuggery” encouraged by the opposition. He also accused the anti-Morsi ‘Rebel’ campaign of “joining forces with the former regime.”

El-Haddad went on to stress that Friday’s Islamist rallies would avoid Tahrir Square, where anti-Morsi protesters have already begun to erect tents in advance of a planned open-ended sit-in.

We will start demonstrations tomorrow: FJP

The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) announced it will hold demonstrations starting tomorrow in a countermove to the mass anti-Morsi protests planned for 30 June.

Gehad El-Haddad, a Muslim Brotherhood leader in charge of the Nahda [Renaissance] Project, said in a press conference on Thursday that the demonstrations will be “in support of the democratic path” and the current regime.

He added that the peaceful demonstrations in support of the regime would be held in Nasr City, out of consideration that the anti-Morsi protesters will be in Tahrir, as a precaution to avoid clashes between the two political forces.

The FJP repeatedly criticised the opposition for what it alleges is an unwillingness to take part in the democratic process brought about by the 25 January uprising.

Go to parliamentary elections

“We will not challenge the figures given by the Tamarod movement,” El-Haddad said in reference to Tamarod’s claim that they had gathered 15 million signatures on a petition calling for the ouster of President Morsi. “But if they do have so much support, why not run in the parliamentary elections and then you would be able to form the government, change the constitution, and even challenge the president?”

FJP went on to attack Tamarod for refusing to engage in the official electoral process that is governed by the ballot box, saying that they chose to “put their hands with the former regime and thugs.”

Opposition vs old regime

“It is unacceptable by our standards for an opposition group to align itself with the old regime,” said El-Haddad, who also warned that they would not allow for the petition to lead to the resurgence of the old regime or the spread of violence.

Opposition frustration

“The frustration of the opposition is because they cannot have a say… and that is why we need parliamentary elections as soon as possible,” El-Haddad said, claiming that the voices expressed in the Tamarod movement and 30 June protests should be channelled through parliamentarians rather than signatures on a petition.

Comment: When people are in the street, it means that the ruler immunized his ballot boxes.

Tahrir square

Tents return to Cairo’s Tahrir Square

Some 32 tents were pitched in the middle of the square on Thursday morning and four others were erected near the Egyptian Museum, state news agency MENA reported.

In Pictures: Tahrir square reacts to Morsi’s speech

Protesters in Tahrir square were filled with anger following President Mohamed Morsi’s speech Wednesday night in  which he addressed the nation prior to demonstrations calling for his ousting on 30 June. Some held high their shoes as a sign of anger as many chanted “leave” and “liar” during the speech. Ultras fans joined the protesters in the square with their well-known chants, drums and fireworks.

Tahrir masses react to Morsi’s speech

Over one thousand people gathered in Tahrir Square on Wednesday night to listen to a  speech by President Mohammed Morsi, in which he deflected criticism of his regime.

Emile Azmy

“Two and a half hours of a headache,” quipped protestor Emile Azmy, summarising the assessment of the viewing crowd, which was generally animated; people laughed and cursed at the president while watching his lengthy remarks on a projector in the square.

Mohamed Atef

Before the speech began, Mohamed Atef, another protester present, commented on the effect of Morsi’s presidency on the nation, saying, “I used to work in a café called Rehab before the Brotherhood closed it. We did parties, and they said if we want to continue working we have to play Quran. Which is fine, but we can’t have Quran on the entire time.”

Atef, who’s brother died during the first 18 days of the revolution in 2011, said that he hasn’t been able to get married due to financial problems; he supports his family, and since he’s constantly looking for jobs, he doesn’t have enough money to get married.

Atef asked, “One kilogram of potatoes used to cost 1LE, now it costs 4LE. Where do I get this money? Where?”

He added, “There’s no good life, no freedom, no democracy, no food.”

Mohamed

Another protester, who identified himself only as Mohamad, said, “Morsi is threatening the people, and he claims to be a man of religion. Is this what religion says?”

Mohamed claimed that people are eating out of the trash now from how bad the conditions have gotten, adding, “people are dying. If these [poor] people  came here, they’d eat the walls.”

Mohamed criticised Morsi’s remarks about Syria, asking “shouldn’t you fix the problems in your own country first before you begin to try fixing other countries’ problems?”

Missing two fingers

Another protester, who was missing two his fingers, claimed that he only had 25 pounds in his pocket. He said he feeds his mom, wife, and son, surviving off of odd jobs such as painting.

He said, “It just doesn’t bring enough money in anymore. What am I supposed to do? Steal? It’s not my way.”

Atef and Mohamed didn’t expect much from the president’s speech. Mohamed said that Morsi would not leave until all the protesters take to the street and take action.

Atef said, “I’m not leaving the square. Either Morsi leaves, or I will die here.”

Liar

As the president’s speech began, people crowded closer to the small projector to listen. As the president starting listing his accomplishments in the country, however, some viewers chanted “liar”, a few raised their middle fingers, and several held their shoes in their hands.

Ultras

The Ultras soon made themselves noticeable about halfway through the speech, when they performed their signature shaking-hands gesture facing their shirtless leader, known as one of the “cabohat”, who was hoisted upon a supporter’s shoulder. He directed their chants and songs, and the group later sang those that they created during the military junta’s rule, stating that freedom will be achieved no matter what.

Leave

Many times during the speech, very loud and strong chants erupted, demanding that Morsi leave office. When the audio feed cut due to technical problems, some responded by chanting, “better!”

What is he saying?

Throughout the viewing of the speech in Tahrir, the crowd was over a thousand strong, and although many present cursed the president, others wondered aloud what he was talking about in the first place.

“What is he saying?” A disgruntled looking young man said several times throughout his speech.

A doctor

Salem, a doctor from the square’s field hospital, said after the speech that he refuses to leave the square, adding that he didn’t pay much attention to the President. “[Morsi] needs to leave. None of our demands have been met, and things are just getting worse.”

Could not understand

One protester said that no one understood anything from the speech except that it’s the 17th of Shaa’ban, the Islamic month that comes before the month of fasting- Ramadan.

Atef Naguib

Another protester, Atef Naguib, said that a manager of a factory would be embarrassed to give the same speech that the president gave.

“What do Safwat Sherif and all these people he mentioned have anything to do with us? Where are our demands? But the people now know better. This regime is exactly like the old one.”

By 12,30am there were several tents standing, and people were still chanting with the same amount of energy.

Security forces

Public prosecution warns against assaults on security forces

The public prosecution released a statement on Thursday saying that while it supports the right to peaceful protests, it warned against violations and criminal acts.

The statement, published by state-run Ahram, warned that any assault on a member of the armed forces or police who are tasked with securing public and private property would be met with decisive procedures.

Comment: What about MB and Hamas attack on prisons, police stations and protestors, aren’t they violent actions ya prosecutor? During the confusion of the protests, who will recognize the identity of those who are attacking ya prosecutor? MB supporters could throw some Molotov bombs and your security forces will attach the protestors. And what did you do with the violent actions done in front of the presidential palace ya prosecutor?

Egyptian police divided in run-up to 30 June anti-Morsi rallies

With nationwide mass protests planned on 30 June to oppose President Mohamed Morsi and call for early presidential elections, the role of the police during the protests remains uncertain.

Considering widespread fears regarding planned anti-Morsi rallies on 30 June and the possibility of military intervention or civil war, the Egyptian security apparatus is in a quandary in terms of its response to the planned demonstrations.

Accordingly, Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim was pressed to take a stand, albeit a shaky one.

On 10 June he declared: “Police officers will not be present in protest areas, enabling peaceful protesters to convey their opinions freely.”

The contentious statement was widely criticised. Dalia Youssef, security expert and vice president of the Risk Free Egypt consultancy, like many, highlighted “its absurdity and obvious paradox.”

The announcement was followed by a contradictory statement just days later on 12 June.

“Police forces are legally committed to securing the June 30 protests to ensure the safety of all citizens irrespective of political allegiances,” said Ibrahim.

Experts say the shift was influenced by pressure from high-ranking security officials and opposition forces, such as Egypt’s anti-Morsi ‘Rebel’ campaign.

Away from official declarations and events, in the streets, the deep divisions between and within higher-ranking officers, as well as in the middle and lower ranks, is patent.

Different attitudes among low-ranking officers are indicative of this. Some low-ranking officers like Shafiq, who cautiously refrained from giving his full name, said he was against participating, emphasising the police’s responsibility to remain apolitical and detached from political events.

Others refused to talk to the media and some announced that they would simply adhere to ministerial instructions and work on 30 June, yet also suggested that participation ultimately was the choice of each individual officer.

Conversely, numerous young soldiers, advocates of the ‘Rebel’ campaign, voiced their intention to demonstrate with the people irrespective of orders from the controversial minister of interior.

“We will be with the people on 30 June, wearing t-shirts expressing our support,” explained Ahmed, a young soldier sporting a black Central Security Forces uniform.

According to security expert Ihab Youssef, ex-police officer, secretary-general of the People and Police for Egypt NGO and president of the Risk Free Egypt consultancy, the newfound power of the Brotherhood has been traumatic for the police.

Participation in the imminent demonstrations may also be an attempt to regain police pride and public trust, suggest some experts.

Amir Salem, security expert, renowned lawyer and author of ‘The State of Police in Egypt,’ also cites sentiments of guilt on the part of some officers, concerning their involvement in torture and corrupt practices, as another possible reason for participation.

This guilt, combined with public anger related to police torture, has instigated plans for internal ministerial reform, emphasised Salem.

Ultimately, bearing in mind internal divisions and varied motives, whether and how the Egyptian security apparatus decides to participate on 30 June, public security and protection of government property should remain its priority, assert experts.

“The police must remain neutral and protect all Egyptians, regardless of political or religious inclinations,” stressed Shafiq, while emphasising the importance of protecting state property, which was vandalised during previous demonstrations.

Morsi speech

Morsi’s speech miserable mess: He forgot to mention Rebel campaign and considered the Egyptian people as Mubarak’s remnants.

What is remarkable is the fact that Morsi did not mention the “Rebel” movement who emerged like a phoenix bird from the ashes of the revolution. He did not mention that there are more than 15 million Egyptians who signed the withdrawal of confidence petition and asking for early presidential elections.

Boeing denies Morsi accusations to Shafiq

70.8 million dollars was the price of each airplane (12 airplanes) and not 148 million dollars as Morsi announced to the people and according to this figures he decided to sent him to hell!

Comment: Another crime to send Morsi to jail.

Morsi’s speech had been the longest in Egypt history and had been interrupted 98 times by “Morsi’s supporters”!

Salvation Front: Mursi’s speech reinforces image of incapable president

The speech President Mohamed Mursi gave on Wednesday only makes the National Salvation Front more adamant on calling for early presidential elections to achieve the revolution’s goals.

In a statement it made today, the front expressed its confidence that millions of Egyptians will peacefully demonstrate on June 30 to assert their will and rectify the revolution’s course.

Mursi’s speech entrenches the Egyptians’ belief that he is incapable of assuming power and is unfit for such position, the statement said.

The speech mirrors “a clear inability to admit the harsh reality Egypt is living through due to his failure to run the country since he became president”.

In the statement, the front criticized Mursi’s accusation to all his opponents of supporting the former regime.

Mursi launched an unacceptable attack against the judiciary and the media in a way that subjects him to legal accountability on charges of defamation, the front added.

Russian site: Morsi is living in a planet disconnected from his people.

Egypt opposition rejects dialogue with Morsi

AFP – Egypt’s main opposition coalition Thursday rejected an offer from President Mohamed Morsi for dialogue, repeating its call for early presidential elections and calling for peaceful demonstrations on June 30.

Mohamed ElBaradei, who leads the opposition National Salvation Front, said at a news conference Morsi’s speech on Wednesday was “the opposite of a clear admission that the difficult situation that Egypt is going through is the result of his failure to administer the affairs of the country that he took charge of one year ago”.

ElBaradei, who also heads the liberal Al-Dustur party, read from an NSF statement saying that the opposition “remained determined to call for an early presidential election to bring about the objectives of the revolution, with social justice foremost among them”.

“We are confident the Egyptian people will come out in their millions to hold peaceful demonstrations on all of Egypt’s squares and streets to realise their aspirations and to put the January 25 revolution back on track,” he added.

Interviews

Egypt publisher sees rally as answer to divisive Islamist rule

As manager of Dar Merit, one of Cairo’s most respected publishing houses, he’s been happy to see the spread of a fresh political and cultural awareness since the 2011 uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak.

But the revolt also ushered in an Islamist-led government that he and other literati view as an autocratic group bent on imposing conservative social views on Egypt’s 84 million people – including the liberals who allied with them against Mubarak.

“This is not a democratic force that believes in elections and the transfer of power,” Hashem, 55, said in an interview in his dusty, book-lined office around the corner from Tahrir Square, centre of the 2011 uprising.

He said Egyptian Islamism “believes in its own religious authority and that there is no authority above it”.

No for free opinion

Egypt slaps travel ban on media owner in tax case

AFP- The owner of Egyptian television station CBC, known for his opposition to Islamist president Mohamed Morsi’s government, was facing charges of tax evasion on Thursday and banned from travelling, official media reported.

The allegations against CBC owner Mohammed al-Amin came after Morsi attacked him by name in a public speech.

The official MENA news agency reported that Amin was facing charges of tax evasion, and that the public prosecutor had decided to ban him from leaving the country.

Comment: Everything is by law but a law not applicable on us.

Minister allegedly fired staffer for hosting Tamarod

A state ministry staffer has claimed Investment Minister Yehia Hamed sacked him because he allowed opposition groups to hold conferences at the Leadership and Management Development Centre.

Yehia Abdel Hady, first undersecretary of the Investment Ministry and director of the conference centre, claimed the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated minister fired him for political reasons.

Military trials

Morsi military trials claims are false: Rights group

“He claimed no civilians stood trial in military courts during his first year in office – this is untrue,” campaign co-founder Mona Seif said via Twitter after the speech on Wednesday night.

Seif added that she had received calls from relatives of detainees after the speech asking her if their loved ones had been released.

“Mubarak tried Muslim Brothers in military courts because civilian courts acquitted them. Today Morsi is threatening to use the same military courts against his opponents,” prominent activist Wael Ghonim said via Twitter.

Shafiq appeal

Egypt electoral commission recuses itself in Shafiq appeal

Egypt’s Supreme Presidential Elections Commission (SPEC) has made a unanimous decision to recuse itself from overseeing an appeal by Ahmed Shafiq against last year’s presidential election result.

The commission said it felt “unease” at overseeing the appeal but failed to give further details for the decision.

A new commission will be formed on 1 July after the retirement of Judge Maher El-Beheiry, the head of the SPEC and the High Constitutional Court (HCC), and a number of other commission members, at the end of the judicial year on 30 June.

The appeal will be heard after a new commission is formed.

Shias

Amnesty urges Morsi to protect Egypt’s Shias

Amnesty International has warned of rising sectarian violence against Egypt’s Shia Muslims after Sunday’s mob killing in Giza.

The attack took place, allegedly led by Salafist sheikhs, in the village of Zawyat Abu Musalam. Hundreds of people surrounded the house of a local Shia leader after hearing he was hosting a religious gathering. The mob then beat him and his guests and set the house on fire, killing four.

“Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi must urgently tackle the unprecedented level of sectarian violence against Shia Muslims and ensure they are protected from further attacks,” Amnesty’s statement read.

Mubarak

Cairo court upholds release of Alaa, Gamal Mubarak

The Cairo Criminal Court on Thursday upheld a decision to release Alaa and Gamal Mubarak, pending investigations into allegations that they exploited their father’s influence as president of Egypt to make illicit gains.

They also stand accused – with former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq – of buying land at the Pilots Association for less than its real market value.

Articles

Washington Institute

Egypt’s State of Rebellion: four scenarios

Which scenario will it be? I believe the ball is in the people’s court, which was the exact intention of the “Tamarod” campaign’s founders. Egypt is now witnessing a state of rebellion.

First, the millions who signed the “Tamarod” petition will take to the street and stage protests in the squares, stripping the president of his legitimacy and forcing him to make some concessions, the least of which would be a government of national reconciliation, and the most drastic outcome dependent on the strength and steadfastness of the protests.

Second, the protests will turn to clashes, igniting the situation in such a manner that would eventually lead the army to return to power. This scenario, however, I find to be unlikely.

Third, millions will take to the streets, but protests will not escalate. This will trigger the political opposition forces to take advantage of the situation and the dwindling popularity of the MB and rally political support in advance of the parliamentary elections. In this scenario, the civil parties could potentially win a majority in parliament, contesting the power of the presidency. Morsi would then complete his term under pressure from the parliament. In my opinion, this would be the best-case scenario.

Fourth, Morsi will preemptively call for a referendum on his presidency, which would necessarily abort plans for June 30. This would be playing with fire, and I doubt that the MB would take such a risk.

Dialogue of the deaf

The ‘us and them’ mentality will lead to a complete breakdown in Egypt if all parties to the present political showdown are not careful

The odium for the president and the ruling party has not appeared from thin air nor has it occurred overnight. Many who happily voted for Morsi have become disillusioned with the unacceptable actions of the Muslim Brotherhood, from hijacking the drafting process of the constitution to the unfair imprisonment of political activists, to the acquittal of the murderers of the protestors, including those who killed Khaled Said, the iconic symbol of the revolution.

The latest appointment of the founder and “prince” of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, who was responsible for one of the worst terrorist attacks in Luxor in 1997, as new governor of Luxor, shows the extent to which our ability to communicate as a nation has been confounded. Though many Islamists agree that the methods of the ruling party have not been on par with the people’s expectations, they still assert that all should be forgiven in the name of God. After all, it is He who decided to confound our tongues.

The fall of Egypt’s regime and opposition

Over the past weeks, I talked with several Islamist leaders, as well as key liberal and secularist figures, along with my non-stop dialogue with average people on the street. I recorded some general observations that may serve as a doorway to understanding the nature of the ongoing crisis in Egypt, and explore what might happen in the next few days.

First

There is no connection between the current confrontation between the regime and the opposition with democracy or revolution. It is a struggle for existence and a battle of life or death that each side is trying to win. Neither camp can imagine its own survival while the other continues to exist.

In other words, Egypt’s current crisis goes beyond a reasonable political struggle that could be explained within the context of democratic dispute. It is more an attempt to banish and abort one party by the other.

It is a zero-sum game between the two sides, which is reflected in the statements of their respective leaderships and their unwillingness to show any flexibility or desire to sit down, talk or negotiate to defuse the crisis.

Second

The conflict between the two is not limited to power but is also over the state – to shape its identity, spirit and personality, and its intellectual, cultural and civilisational character based on their own whims. Both sides – Islamists and secularists – have a vision of Egypt and the universe that are almost polar opposites of each other.

Islamists believe their main mission is to rectify the identity of the Egyptian state and mold it into an Islamist identity, according to their interpretation of religion, in order to stop the symptoms of Westernisation and moral corruption that have afflicted the state at the hands of modernists and secularists.

Opponents of the Islamists believe the identity of the Egyptian state is under serious threat, and if Islamists continue in power this would mean a relapse into the Dark Ages and ignorance. This, they believe, requires immediate intervention to obliterate the threat before it’s too late – irrespective of the cost.

Thirdly

Neither side is shy about using all possible means and tools to win the battle. For example, the Muslim Brotherhood has no qualms about entering into alliances will Islamist currents – including those who adopt violent radical ideologies against their adversaries.

They have even resorted to using jihadist figures to send messages of fear and terror to political forces who plan to protest on 30 June. It appears the Brotherhood is not concerned about how much damage its image will sustain by identifying with Salafist and radical groups and by trying to use them in their battle with their opponents.

On the other hand, the Islamists’ detractors are not shy about using remnants and figures of the former regime to get rid of the Brotherhood and President Morsi, as if the revolution never took place.

Fourth

The masses have come to terms with the issue of violence, which has started to become part of the culture and general mood in Egypt.

When I talked with a taxi driver about his expectations on 30 June, I found him largely apathetic and cynical about the bloody confrontations that may occur, and the possible violence and death.

It was the same sentiment voiced by several others I talked to about the 30 June protests. This gradual normalisation and actual acceptance of violence is being manipulated and used by both sides.

Fifth

The military is still the only entity capable of defusing the current crisis and containing the political conflict before it evolves into chaos and instability. This is clear in statements by Minister of Defence General Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, who called on both sides to hold dialogue about how to exit the crisis.

Al-Sisi also warned against using violence “to terrorise citizens.”

In other words, the military is worried that on 30 June matters will escalate beyond control, which would require it to return to political life.

This would thwart hopes of building a genuine democratic model and force the country into another dark tunnel of ambiguity, chaos and instability. There appears to be a growing gap between the Egyptian presidency and the military, as demonstrated by Al-Sisi’s statements.

Sixth

Each side realises it cannot win the battle no matter how good their ability to mobilise the masses, and neither seems to care about the number of victims and wounded who could fall because of their political conflict.

This strips both camps of any moral cover and exposes them before public opinion. Each side has tried in the past to justify its political discourse and conduct but failed, which means those who will pay the price are the simple Egyptians who support one camp or the other.

In other words, the regime and opposition in Egypt have failed morally and ethically even before the battle of 30 June begins. This failure will not be the last in a series of regressions and setbacks that the Egyptian revolution has witnessed over the last two years.

What to expect on 30 June

Anti-Morsi movement

For the liberal and secular opposition, mainly those under the umbrella of the National Salvation Front (NSF), but other opposition groups such as the ‘Rebel’ (tamarod) campaign and the 6 April Youth Movement, the true barometer of their success is their ability to mobilise the population on June 30, and thereafter, to force the Muslim Brotherhood regime to make political concessions.

It remains to be seen if it will succeed, along with other opposition forces, to translate these signatures into mass rallies in the street on June 30. While all the evidence suggests that the popular mobilisation that day will be very important, the question is whether it will be merely by hundreds of thousands, or by millions of people. These figures are very important because they show the state of popular disaffection vis-à-vis the president in particular and the regime of the Brotherhood in general.

It is a crucial parameter for subsequent events, whether it is the reaction of the regime and the concessions it has to make to respond to the popular demands, or the future policy of the opposition.

Morsi regime

For the regime, the Muslim Brotherhood and its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), it is to overcome the test of 30 June at the lowest cost. What they want primarily is to prevent the outbreak of violence; the first to pay the price in this case would be the regime.

Previous outbreaks of violence, such as in December 2012 outside the presidential palace or in January 2013 on the second anniversary of the revolution, have all put the regime on the defensive, tarnished its image and eroded its popularity, because of police violence or forceful intervention of supporters of the Brotherhood against the demonstrators.

This time, despite the draconian security measures, including the deployment of army units in key locations in the capital, several indications show a very high risk of outbreak of violence due to a climate of high tension and extreme polarisation between the two opposing camps, the liberal opposition and the Islamist current.

On 30 June, the possible eruption of violence will be primarily between protesters and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamist current. The Ministry of Interior has made clear its intention to stay out of any confrontation with the demonstrators.

30 June: A crisis at the doorstep

The Brotherhood, the Islamist current — the Jama’a al-Islamiya and Salafi currents, excluding the Nour Party — and the presidency describe the opposition’s calls for early presidential elections as nonsense and see them as an attempt to overthrow a legitimate regime and abort the Islamist project for the sake of secular, liberal and leftist currents. This view of the protests renders the conflict one centred on religion as well as on politics.

Some of the opposition have described 30 June as a decisive day, one that will put an end to the “rule of the Supreme Guide of the Brotherhood.” Some Islamic preachers have meanwhile said that joining protests to call for Morsy’s ouster is forbidden, that defying Morsy’s rule is an act of disbelief and that this rebellion would be a rebellion against Islam and the Islamic project.

Don’t hate MB

I did never see the people having this whole rancor against a group before. There is a huge difference between your feeling towards somebody who did a mistake against you and your feelings against a person who offended your honor.

Egypt violated by Hamas and other condemnation groups is suffering. The Nile River which is now under the custody of retired terrorists is groaning.

The souls of the martyrs are unrest in the world of secrets watching the dream of freedom and dignity becoming a dark nightmare.

Topple the tyranny. Take revenge for your betrayed revolution from people’s thieves and joy’s robbers.

But not be cruel with our cousins MB sons, they are like the Central Security soldiers. From when is our battle against the poor obedient soldiers?

The Muslim Brotherhood’s aid programs and their implications in the 2011 Egyptian revolution

The absence of the government from the public sphere provided the Brotherhood with an opportunity to win over Egyptians. The Muslim Brotherhood was able to fill an economical, material, social, and spiritual void left by the Egyptian government that had increasingly neglected to address the needs of its citizens. Regardless of these services, the government had still left Egypt in a vulnerable state, which would ultimately lead to a revolt in 2011. Although the Brotherhood’s services provided for Egyptians when the government did not, they ultimately proved to be damaging to what the revolution could have been, and what it is yet to be.


From June 29:

News of the day

The army: We are not looking for power. We are in the street to defend the people’s will without receiving instructions from anybody.

Some parties are announcing that they refuse the return of the army in ruling the country or in political life. These statements are just allegations that are in the profit of a certain party. The army doesn’t want to be involved in political life but is following it very closely and will not allow any sabotage which may destroy the State.

On the 26th of June, Tamarrod campaign presented to the Supreme Constitutional Court the 20 million Rebel petitions which will be considered as a popular mandate to the Court

Ahmad el Fadaly (Tamarrod general coordinator): We did not announce this step before to prevent MB attacks. But now the Court is defended by the people present in all squares.

The Supreme Court will give its verdict on this request at a certain time around the 30th of June. The Court needs to verify on the ground that this majority in the paper correspond to a real majority in the street.

The fact that the Court accepted this request is already a big step. We hope that the Court will not delay in issuing its verdict otherwise it will turn against the Court.

We did not announce this news before because we were waiting for the people’s reaction in the street to give a certain protection to the Court.

Egyptian security arrested a car loaded with rockets, automatic weapons and grenades near Rafah tunnels

MB prepared already lists of persons who will replace all corrupted employees (financially, administratively and executively corrupted) who will be fired in all ministries and governorates.

Comment: The software “MB plus” is continuing its work regardless any reaction. My wisdom is undeniable.

Statements

Bakkar (Noor party): 30th of June failure will transform MB to a beast that nobody would be able to stop.

Dr. Mohamed Morsy’s speech of yesterday only made us more determined in our call for an early presidential vote in order to achieve the goals of the revolution.

ElBaradei condemns all forms of violence: The more peaceful, the stronger we become

Mohamed ElBaradei condemned all forms of violence on Friday following clashes in several Egyptian cities between supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood.

“I strongly condemn violence in all forms against people irrespective of their beliefs or identity. The more peaceful, the stronger we become,” he tweeted.

Comment: That’s right. We want just to say that we don’t want that MB rule us. But what will happen? MB will not move one inch. To remove us you have to kill us.

Egypt clerics warn of “civil war” as rallies begin

Egypt’s leading religious authority warned of “civil war” on Friday and called for calm after a member of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood was killed ahead of mass rallies aimed at forcing the president to quit.

United States

US and Germany positions

“We urge all parties to refrain from violence and express their views peacefully,” US State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said.

“And political leaders have the responsibility of taking steps to ensure that groups do not resort to violence.”

In “our opinion, all Egyptians have the right to express their opinions and concerns freely. We’ve urged the government to protect that right.”

Germany warned that Egypt’s fledgling democracy faced a “moment of truth”, and urged Morsi to implement reforms.

John Kerry urges peace in Egypt amid anti-government protests – video

US secretary of state John Kerry asks Egyptian protesters unhappy with their government’s handling of the economy to remain peaceful. Kerry, on a visit to Saudi Arabia, advises Egypt president Mohamed Morsi to improve economic and security measures with fears of weekend rallies leading to further clashes. Egypt’s army has warned it will act firmly if anti-Morsi mass public gatherings become chaotic

With Egypt unrest growing, U.S. Marines placed on ready as precaution

U.S. Marines stationed in southern Europe have been put on alert as a precaution in advance of expected large demonstrations and potential unrest in Egypt this weekend, CNN has learned.

About 200 combat capable Marines in Sigonella, Italy, and Moron, Spain, have been told to be ready to be airborne within 60 minutes of getting orders to deploy, according to two administration officials.

The units have several V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft that would carry troops and infantry weapons to Egypt to protect the U.S. Embassy and American government personnel and citizens if violence broke out against Americans.

The United States expects Egyptian security forces will be able to protect American assets and personnel. No plans for personnel to leave have been announced, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said Friday.

“This is not Libya,” said the third official, alluding to last year’s attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi.

Rumors

The International MB organization is asking Badie to let Morsy resign before the 30th of June, the flood day in Egypt.

Canadian new-Ahram: US to MB: Your use of violence against Rebel demonstrators will put an end to your brotherhood for ever.

A strong and clear message from the U.S. administration: The use of violence will not only the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, but will politically eliminate the Muslim Brotherhood forever.

Tamim (new Qatari Emir): MB are people who are outside the history!

Islamists protests

Islamists vow to continue Nasr City protests

Hundreds of Islamist groups returned to Rabaa al-Adaweya Square in Nasr City, Cairo, on Friday morning ahead of mass protests in support of President Mohamed Morsy.

Islamist officials said the protest would continue until 30 June.

Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson Yasser Mehrez announced that Rabaa al-Adaweya protesters would stage a sit-in until Sunday.

Mehrez told the official Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) newspaper on Friday evening: “The sit-in will be peaceful and aims to stress the principles of constitutional legitimacy and emphasize the importance of and need to preserve state institutions, and complete what is not completed.”

Tens of thousands of protesters joined the protest on Friday, dubbing it “Legitimacy is a red line,” aiming to defend the beleaguered president, Morsy.

Two military helicopters surveyed the Islamist demonstration from above.

Among the groups participating in the Nasr City rally are the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, Jamaa al-Islamiya’s Construction and Development Party, the Salafi-oriented Asala Party, the Salafi Watan Party, and others.

Thousands of president’s supporters call his legitimacy a “red line”

“The opposition needs to avoid violence when it demonstrates,” said Assem Amr, a 22-year-old demonstrator who said he had come to Nasr City in support of Morsi’s legitimacy.  “They shouldn’t threaten any Islamist group or the president himself,” he added.

“The people chose [President] Morsi and he came by way of the ballot box,” said Mohamed Abdel Baky. “Millions came out and supported him so he needs to be given the amount of time he was promised,” he said. “We need to respect our new constitution, which is a contract between the people and the president.”

Islamists arrested

90 Islamists arrested en route to pro-Morsy rally

Security forces in Qalyubiya governorate on Friday arrested 90 Islamists carrying sticks, Molotov cocktails and gasoline cans en route to a Cairo rally supporting President Mohamed Morsy in Nasr City.

A bus and 3 micro-buses loaded with the 90 Islamists carrying weapons were seized by security forces in collaboration with popular committees at the Kafr Shokr checkpoint, a Qalyubiya Security Directorate statement said Friday.

Following the arrests, one vehicle tried to escape and hit two passers-by.

The injured were transferred to hospital. Hundreds of Kafr Shokr residents imposed a cordon around the police station to prevent the arrested Islamists from escaping.

Comment by a reader

What do the pro-Mursi demonstrators need arms, gasoline cans and Molotov cocktails for while claiming it is an anti-violence protest? And how come opposition party members detected their arms? Wouldn’t that be the job of the police/security forces? And why does it need the help of residents to prevent the “arrested” from escaping. What kind of “arrest” is that if they can easily escape, hitting passers-by on their way?

Tahrir

Thousands rally against Morsy in Tahrir

Thousands flocked to Tahrir Square Friday to demand President Mohamed Morsy’s stand down and hold early presidential elections.

Protesters chanted against Morsy and the Brotherhood.

“Down with the rule of the supreme guide,” demonstrators chanted, echoing calls heard across Egypt on Friday against Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie. “Leave!” others could be heard chanting.

“The people want to bring down the regime,” the crowds said.

Entrances to Tahrir Square, except the road from Simon Bolivar Square, have been closed since Friday morning with metal barriers.

Traffic has been prevented from entering the square as more marchers join the protests.

Popular committees were stationed at entrances to inspect IDs, in attempts to prevent criminals infiltrating the expressly peaceful protest.

Clashes between demonstrators in “Mohamed Mahmoud for cheering against the military

Popular committees asked them not to protest against the military council. So anti-military protestor took his shoes and bit them. Fights between those who are claiming: The people and the army one hand and the other group.

Death and injuries

US citizen stabbed to death in Egypt’s Alexandria

A US citizen was killed in the Egyptian port city of Alexandria on Friday during clashes between supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsi, bringing the city’s total death toll on Friday to two.

The American man died from a stab wound to the chest, according to Amin Ezz El-Din, head of Alexandria’s security directorate.

Ezz El-Din said the young American had been taking pictures with his mobile phone near one of the offices of the Muslim Brotherhood, the group from which President Morsi hails, when he was attacked by unknown assailants.

The victim was rushed to a military hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

Security sources told Ahram Online’s correspondent that the victim’s name is Victor Andrew. He was a 21-year-old photojournalist.

An Egyptian protester was also killed Friday in Alexandria in clashes between supporters and opponents of President Morsi. “All kinds of weapons, including live fire” were used in the melee, said Ezz El-Din.

Health Ministry: 3 dead after Delta clashes

The Health Ministry has announced a third death in violent street clashes between supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsy witnessed in Mansoura on Wednesday.

One dead, five injured in Port Said explosion

One person was killed and five others were injured after an explosion rocked a march in Port Said’s al-Shohadaa Square on Friday night, al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr reported.

Port Said’s security headquarters’ director is investigating the scene of the explosion with a bomb squad.

The total number of injured people is not known yet, deputy head of the Health Ministry in Port Said said.

Governorates protests

Thousands rally against Morsy across Egypt, scores injured in clashes

Alexandria

Thousands of protesters demonstrated in Alexandria after Friday prayers, part of a nationwide wave of rallies calling for President Mohamed Morsy’s resignation which has seen opponents and supporters of the beleaguered Islamist regime clash, injuring scores.

Demonstrators launched a march in front of Alexandria’s Qa’ed Ibrahim Mosque, before heading to the city’s Sidi Gaber area, where hundreds of supporters were gathering in front of the administrative office of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Protesters were heard chanting slogans against the regime and the ruling Muslim Brotherhood. They also raised red cards and blowed whistles, while drivers on the corniche sounded their horns.

Clashes meanwhile broke out between a number of Muslim Brotherhood supporters and protesters in Sidi Gaber, while opposition protesters set the Brotherhood Freedom and Justice Party’s (FJP) offices in the city.

Birdshot was reportedly fired, with eyewitnesses confirming that no less than 10 people were injured.

The wounded were transferred to nearby hospitals.

Protesters arrested a pro-Morsy protester who allegedly used birdshot and beat him up before handing him over to security forces in the Northern Military District.

Daqahlia

Nineteen people were also reported injured on Friday afternoon following clashes in Aga City, Daqahlia governorate.

Security sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm that some of the victims sustained birdshots and were transferred to hospitals for treatment.

Protesters against Morsy started a march that roamed the city before heading to the local FJP headquarters which they torched, eyewitnesses said.

The protesters clashed with party members responsible for securing the office.

Gharbiya

Several cities and villages in Gharbiya staged protests after Friday prayers to demand Morsy’s departure. Protesters said Morsy had to leave after he failed to adequately run the country or the economy. Marchers complained of shortage in goods and services such as fuel, electricity and water.

Tens of thousands participated in protests and marches, chanting against the Muslim Brotherhood as well as expressing anger at Morsy’s divisive speech on Wednesday.

Tanta

In Tanta, around 30,000 protesters staged marches and gathered on al-Shohadaa Square demanding Morsy’s departure.

Kafr al Zayyat

In Kafr al-Zayyat, approximately 20,000 protesters gathered on al-Sa’a Square with banners calling for Morsy to leave.

“Down with the rule of the supreme guide,” one read, referring to the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Badie.

Basyoun

In Basyoun, around 10,000 protesters staged marches in 23 of July Street and gathered at al-Mahatta Square.

Scores of demonstrators attempted to break into the headquarters of the FJP in Basyoun, but Brotherhood supporters stationed inside the building prevented them.

Protesters had marched from Basyoun to the local Islamist party building, later joined by another from al-Qadaba village.

Demonstrators threw stones at the Islamists inside for more than half an hour.

Zagazig

Thousands took part in a march in Zagazig, Sharqiya, raising red cards to demand President Mohamed Morsy’s departure and bringing an end to the Muslim Brotherhood rule.

Hundreds joined the march on its way to the sit-in of revolutionary forces against Morsy in al-Mohafza Street.

They chanted: “I am not an infidel. Down with the rule of the supreme guide.”

Dozens of drivers encouraged protesters with beeps, especially near gas stations. They held red cards while waiting in traffic.

Protesters held 2 symbolic coffins, one for Morsy and the other for Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie. They held images mocking US Ambassador Anne Patterson.

Tamarrod

Tamarod: Young volunteers will secure 30 June protests

Young volunteers will secure entrances to protest and sit-in sites ahead of this weekend’s planned demonstrations, Tamarod spokesperson Hassan Shaheen said.

Groups of volunteers will inspect the IDs of participants entering protest sites, he added.

Shaheen told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the campaign would confront any attempts to stir up trouble among demonstrators in order to keep the rally peaceful.

He pointed out that the Tamarod campaign demanded that all participants raise the flag of Egypt on 30 June only and maintain unity in its stated attempts to call for early presidential elections.

Shaheen called on the police and security forces to carry out their role and protect demonstrators, without bias towards or against any political faction.

Amid accusations by the Brotherhood that the campaign was responsible for the day’s violent clashes, the campaign released a statement via Twitter stressing that the shedding of any Egyptian blood was “wrong,” regardless of religious or political affiliations.

Egyptian army

Military in streets to avert 28 January-like violence: Egypt army spokesman

Armed forces spokesman says Egyptian military has deployed to protect citizenry, property as supporters, opponents of Egypt’s embattled presidency brace for open-ended protest

Military forces currently deployed nationwide are aimed at protecting Egyptian citizens and property, armed forces spokesman Ahmed Ali declared Friday.

“These measures are being taken to avoid a 28 January 2011 scenario,” Ali told Egyptian state news agency MENA, referring to violence that ensued during Egypt’s 2011 mass protests that eventually ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

MB

MB: Calling for early presidential elections is a political infantilism

Brotherhood spokesman: Police, thugs attacked group’s HQs

Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad al-Haddad accused the police, members of the disbanded National Democratic Party and people whom he called thugs of attacking eight headquarters belonging to both the Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party on Friday.

Two headquarters were torched and all were looted, al-Haddad wrote on Twitter.

Eyewitnesses reported that anti-Mursi and -Muslim Brotherhood attacked the Brotherhood’s and its party’s headquarters in Alexandria, Kafr al-Sheikh, Beheira, Daqahliya and Sharqiya.

As the evening drew to a close, leading Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed El-Beltagi took the stage, calling on Morsi’s opponents to “join us in the revolution, like you did before, and wash your hands of cooperation with remnants of the old regime,” echoing the sentiments of many at the rally.

At pro-Morsi rally, Brotherhood’s top cleric appeals for non-violent protest

Speaking before tens of thousands of supporters of President Morsi in Cairo, Muslim Brotherhood leader Abdel-Rahman El-Bar condemns recent political violence, appeals for ‘peaceful protest’

“We know that the voice of peace is louder than that of the gun,” he said. “We are one

“Your incitement of violence will always haunt you,” he said of leaders of the opposition. “The people will not forget those who incited against Islam and incited violence.”

Comment: Nothing will stop us except the grave.

Muslim Brotherhood, FJP offices attacked throughout Egypt

Offices of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) in different Egyptian governorates were reportedly raided and torched on Friday.

In the Nile Delta governorate of Daqahliya, the FJP’s office was set on fire by protesters after the latter claimed to have heard shotguns being discharged from the building, eyewitnesses told Al-Ahram’s Arabic-language news website.

The office remains besieged by thousands of protesters.

Eyewitnesses also told Al-Ahram that the number of injured were estimated at ten, including four who had since been transferred to hospital.

Meanwhile, in Alexandria, which has seen clashes between the two rival camps since Friday afternoon, the FJP’s office in the coastal city’s Sidi Gaber district was set on fire.

A Muslim Brotherhood office was also reportedly attacked in the Nile Delta Beheira governorate.

In a statement issued by Ikhwan Online, the Brotherhood’s official website, the group accused former regime elements and members of the ‘Rebel’ campaign – who they called “thugs” – of being behind the attack in Beheira.

“The attackers looted the office,” the statement read. “Although the party’s young cadres appealed for help, police have refused to intervene.”

The Nile Delta Gharbiya and Kafr Al-Sheikh governorates, meanwhile, also witnessed attacks on the Islamist group’s offices.

The attacks come as rival protests – both for and against President Mohamed Morsi, propelled to power last year by the Muslim Brotherhood – take place in governorates throughout Egypt.

On Saturday, the Islamist group’s office in Morsi’s hometown of Zagazig in the Nile Delta was also attacked, leaving one dead and 26 injured.

On Friday evening, there were reports that the Freedom and Justice Party’s headquarters in Al-Khanka in Qalioubiya governorate were raided by locals, according to state-owned news agency MENA.

According to eyewitnesses, the office was empty at the time of the attack

Eyewitnesses: Residents storm FJP headquarters in Alexandria’s Hadra

Eyewitnesses reported that “snipers” on rooftops of buildings in Sidi Gaber area near the Brotherhood’s administrative office in Alexandria were aiming at the demonstrators.

The snipers disappeared once five Armed Forces aircrafts flew at low altitudes above the area, they said.

FJP: NDP thugs committed violent actions against us under “tamarrod” umbrella.

Assem Abdel Maged: The opposition members are stupid and put their head under the guillotine.

Malek and el Shater are following the events from Hurghada

MB spokesperson apologizes for previous accusations stating that Tahrir square are raising Mubarak phtos.

Comment: so what? If somebody is in love with Mubarak, what’s the matter of his mother?

Judiciary

Judges’ Club to take legal action against Mursi for insulting judiciary

Egypt’s Judges’ Club has decided to take legal action against President Mohamed Mursi because of what the club called his insults to the judiciary in his latest speech, Judge Medhat Yassin, deputy head of the Court of Cassation, said.

“I challenge you, Mursi, to present whatever evidence you have against Judge Ali al-Nemr,” Ahmed al-Zend said at a press conference on Friday.

Free Media

Ministry threatens private television channels with shutdown

Egypt’s Ministry of Investment sent a letter to several private television channels including CBC, Dream and ON TV threatening them with immediate closure without awaiting a court ruling.

The ministry based its threat on a previous administrative court ruling that entitles the ministry to shut down those channels in case of violations such as not committing to the ethics of dialogue, disrespecting objectivity and inciting violence.

In its letter, the ministry said that the public free media zone’s board of directors will remain convened to monitor the media performance of satellite channels.

ONTV among TV channels receiving “warnings” of closure

The General Authority for Investment sent an official statement to ONTV, as well as several other channels, warning of shutting down the channel if “legal limits” concerned with “insulting and offending” figures are crossed.

Gamal El Shennawy, the editor in chief of ONTV said on air that letter set states limits that would “suffocate media outlets”. He also added that the statement highlighted the fact that the authorities will not refer wait for a court ruling to shut the channel but will have to take matters in its own hands.

“As far as I know the statement was not only sent to us but to CBC as well and other channels, anyways we won’t be scared off and we will continue on our path” El Shennawy added.

On Saturday, the channel officials are going to meet with their lawyers to discuss how they will respond, confirmed El Shennawy.

The General Authority for Investment is a government agency that works for the Ministry of Investment and  is in charge of private media outlets like ONTV.

Al Faraeen Channel shut down mid-broadcast

Al Faraeen channel was abruptly shut down Thursday night in the midst of a live programme hosted by the channel’s owner Tawfiq Okasha.

During the broadcast Okasha called on viewers for help and protection against the Muslim Brotherhood. “Save me from the terrorists” he said, just minutes before the channel was shut down.

While on air, Okasha also listed names of television presenters and journalists whom, he claimed, the police forces plan to arrest.

According to the Al Faraeen channel’s official twitter account, Okasha has been arrested and cannot be found. Police forces, however, have denied arresting him.

No one at the channel responded to requests for comment.

Hallucinations

‘We will not allow the return of Mubarak officials or military’: Opposition groups

Several opposition forces released a statement on Thursday asserting that they would not accept the return of former Mubarak-era officials to power as an alternative to President Morsi and his regime.

“The revolution will not tolerate any opportunists who aim for personal gain,” the statement read, adding “We will not allow for the return of Mubarak [officials] or the military.”

The opposition forces, which include the April 6 Youth Movement,  the Revolutionary Socialists, and the Strong Egypt Party lead by Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh, said that the January 25 Revolution did not end when the Egyptian people brought down Mubarak in 2011.

“The struggle did not stop because we continue to face the same regime, even if it has a military or a religious facade,” the statement read.

Comment: Who is talking about Mubarak’s return? These groups: 6 April, Revolutionary Socialists and Strong Egypt (Abul Futuh) are the hidden MB army. When you read the roadmap you will not find any mention for these stupidities. We will have parliamentary and presidential elections and the people will choose whoever they want. Or maybe they want to put restrictions to the “minor” people?

Whoever will talk about remnants, military and Mubarak in these days want to implement MB strategy to divide the Egyptian people. “We will decide who has the right to protest against MB”. The Egyptian people have also the right to ask some groups to shut up.

One of 6 April leaders (Engi) said that we will confront MB without Mubarak people, without Shafiq supporters, without the military. Is she stupid? Get rid of this nightmare then decide what to do, or maybe they are still adore their big achievement in 25th January to the point that they prefer to eat shit but not to recognize that they had been responsible of taking us to this point?

Videos to watch

VIDEO: Tens of thousands in Tahrir Square demand President Morsi step down

Anti-Morsi protesters in Cairo’s flashpoint Tahrir Square, galvanised by the ‘Rebel’ signature campaign, call for the ouster of Egypt’s embattled Islamist president

Throughout the day, numbers increased in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, as protesters gathered to demand the departure of President Mohamed Morsi. They also called for the temporary handover of executive power to the head of Egypt’s High Constitutional Court until snap presidential elections can be held.

VIDEO: Islamists show support for Morsi in mass rally

PHOTO GALLERY: Political violence erupts in Egypt’s Alexandria

Qatar

Qatar emir to change style but keep father’s policies

In his first address to the nation late on Wednesday, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani focused on what he called his government’s “top priority” of promoting development in the Gulf state.

“Qatar will not change its policy. But it’s normal for a new team to choose a new style in the exercising of power,” said Emirati analyst Abdulkhaleq Abdulla.

Articles

The square recommendations

  • Participate.
  • Be peaceful.
  • Only Egypt’s flag.
  • Don’t follow some calls against the army and the police. (By the way, what 6 April understood from Morsi’s speech is that he flattered the army and the police, so down both of them).
  • Don’t eat anything from the square, could be polluted and contaminated, let’s remember the “hawawshy meal” in Mohamed Mahmud.
  • Stay in the square until we get a result. Don’t forget that it took 18 days for Mubarak to resign. For Morsy maybe we will need a longer or shorter period.

The new government after the reckless (irresponsible) departure

Morsy has three choices:

  • To apologize and to surrender to the presidential guard to be tried for all the crimes he committed.
  • To escape to his tribe in Hamas or to find a mountain in Sinai and settle there.
  • To continue in his stubbornness until he reaches Qadhafi’s fate.

After this preamble the author gave a detailed list for the new government with multiple choices.

The time has come to realize the dreams of the Egyptians, after the removal of those crazy vandals. Let us together kick them out in the history garbage.

The Guardian: Military card

Much of the opposition, who view Morsi as incompetent and authoritarian, hope Egypt’s military will intervene and facilitate a transition of power. Morsi, inaugurated last year as Egypt’s first democratically elected president, emphasised in a speech on Wednesday that he was the army’s commander-in-chief. But a senior military source said the army may act if protests reach the same scale as those that toppled Mubarak in 2011.

Such an outcome would not be taken lying down by Morsi’s supporters. “This would not be like the fall of Mubarak,” said Nathan Brown, professor of Middle Eastern politics at George Washington University. “A lot of people co-operated with the Mubarak regime, but there were very few who would voluntarily and enthusiastically turn out on the streets for him. The Brotherhood is very different.”

To the pupil Mohamed Morsi: try to learn

I sincerely advise you, o man, to listen to the millions gathered in the squares. Understand and learn. You are now in a “repeated exam”. It is not a shame that the president sit as a clever and flexible pupil in the people’s school.

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Current Events

Friday Prayers for Egypt: Former Heroes

Flag Cross QuranGod,

It has been a bad week for former heroes in Egypt. Mohamed Morsi had his death sentence confirmed. Ahmed Shafik languishes in the UAE. And revolutionary activists are disappearing.

Not all were universally loved. Some were at loggerheads. But each was endeared by a substantial segment of the population. That segment has shrunk, and all have lost their luster.

God, you are no respecter of persons. But you love each individual soul. Minister to them in their time of need. It is hard to fall from so high, when so much seemed possible.

Forgive each one, perhaps, for believing his own hype. Forgive each one, indeed, for his own contributing sins. May each reflect on his errors in judgment. May each repent of any pride, contempt, and selfish ambition that come so easily to those who strive to make a difference.

But for each selfless effort, for each sacrificing action, for each honorable commitment to the good of the nation – reward them. God, strike the balance between these two realities. Discern each one’s heart and give him his due.

Do not let them fall victim to simple agendas of revenge, if they are in play. Do not let them be disfigured beyond what they deserve. Do not let the wrath of any enemies pour out upon them.

But God, if you harbor wrath, let it be tempered with mercy. Let it be seen transparently, experienced proportionately, and redeemed in transformation.

And God, as you harbor love, pour it out upon Egypt. Let it create true heroes, refine flawed ones, and honor the simple and striving alike.

In your love, protect her from harm. Some is self-inflicted. Some is justified in pursuit of supposed good. Some is objective evil.

But God, act justly toward Morsi, Shafik, and revolutionary activists. Act justly toward current heroes. You have humbled some; may all be humble. Raise up those who fear you, and those who love Egypt.

May they, as heroes do, raise up others. May Egypt rise, for the good of all.

Amen.

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Current Events

Friday Prayers for Egypt: Brotherhood Twisting

Flag Cross Quran

God,

Former president Morsi received his first prison sentence this week: Twenty years for inciting violence against protestors while in office. Afterwards his supporters took to protesting, but far fewer than once before. Even so, again, there was violence.

But by the end of the week the Brotherhood abroad reconstituted itself. And the first public statement included a seeming admission they were wrong to pursue a revolutionary path.

God, with passions divided let each pray their own way.

Further confuse the Brotherhood as it disintegrates, suffering the consequence of sins sowed over many years.

Further consolidate the Brotherhood as it reflects, recovering from sins suffered over many years.

Either way, may both pray to bless Egypt.

Either way, the Brotherhood is twisting. Twisting in the wind as prison sentences hit closer and closer to home, threatening death. Twisting in contortion to stay alive and stay united, as pressure pushes harder and harder from within and without.

And let each interpret again in turn.

Twisting the truth to fit the need. Reacting nimbly to those twisting the plot.

Either way, may all pray to bless the Brotherhood.

Bless them with wisdom, God, to reflect rightly. Bless them with courage, to act upon the truth.

Blessing friend or enemy, God, grant Egypt a righteous outcome.

Grant Egypt peace. Make her straight.

Amen.

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Current Events

Defending Rabaa

Defending Rabaa

Omar Ashour is an academic at the Brookings Institute who recently published a paper entitled, ‘From Collusion to Crackdown: Islamist-Military Relations in Egypt.’

It is an insightful retelling of two epochal moments in history, the 1952 Free Officers revolution and the 2011 Arab Spring. In both, he details how the military establishment and the Muslim Brotherhood cooperated, maneuvered, and eventually clashed.

History is contested, so those who either lived through or studied carefully these events are invited to weigh in on the anecdote that follows. But in understanding Brotherhood resistance following the June 30, 2013 protests against Morsi, this detail risks being overlooked. I, at least, had missed it.

According to Ashour, the Muslim Brotherhood was an intimate partner with the Free Officers, but then tried to resist Gamal Abdel Nasser as he consolidated power outside of democratic procedures.

At one crucial moment the Brotherhood helped organize a demonstration against him, calling for (among other things) the army to return to its barracks.

Nasser asked Abdul Qadir Audeh, the Secretary-General of the MB, to dismiss the protesters. Audeh complied, hoping to reach a compromise, but was arrested that same night by Nasser’s loyalists in the military police and was executed a year later.

Sound familiar? In 2013 the Muslim Brotherhood did not accept the ouster of Mohamed Morsi on July 3 despite the massive protests against him. Right or wrong in this decision, this is an important distinction between 2013 and 1954. The sit-in in support of Morsi had formed to counter these protests, and continued into mid-August. During this time there were intense negotiations between the two sides, with active participation of foreign diplomats.

During negotiations the Brotherhood was urging on participants to stand firm, even to the point of martyrdom. This is well known. But in connection with the anecdote above, this detail escaped me.

On July 17, 2013, Audeh’s son Khaled, a university professor, reminded the hundreds of thousands of protesters in Rab‘a Square of that mistake. “Our stance here is our way to success. I swear I will never dismiss you like my father, the martyr Abdel-Qadr Audeh, dismissed the protesters on 28 February 1954…. They tricked him and told him to dismiss the protestors and that the army would go back to its barracks and democracy would be resumed. He believed them. And then he was arrested at night and executed afterwards.”

It helps put in perspective the psychology of the Brotherhood.

Ashour’s paper considers the removal of Morsi to be a coup, for those who take offense at this designation. But it also demonstrates the Brotherhood’s claim to be a martyr of democracy is overly simplistic. For example:

By December 1952, Nasser made it clear to the MB that there would be neither free elections nor a re-installation of civilian leadership. In January 1953, the RCC dissolved and banned all political parties in Egypt. The MB did not oppose this decision because it did not affect them (they were not a political party) and also to avoid a costly clash with Nasser’s powerful faction in the RCC and the army, an opportunistic stance that would prove costly in the future.

There is another important difference between the two episodes, as the Brotherhood did not initiate the protests of 2011, joining later. But they soon demonstrated a spirit of collusion with the military, ranging from cooperation to non-confrontation. Different examples are given, but here is one sometimes forgotten.

In June 2012, a SCAF decision dissolved the lower house following a constitutional court ruling that part of the electoral law was “unconstitutional.” This decision vested all legislative powers in the SCAF only days before Egypt’s first civilian president was scheduled to take office on June 30, 2012. It was, in effect, a bloodless coup, one that passed without any international condemnation and limited domestic criticism. Because the winner in the parliamentary elections, the MB, had also won the presidency, it did not mobilize its supporters and coalition partners [against the decision].

The Brotherhood may argue it was trying to be pragmatic, accepting defeat against a stronger foe in hopes of fighting another day with a stronger hand. Perhaps. But the details Ashour provides help recount a history that is not clean and principled. This is important to remember given the righteous garb the Brotherhood now seeks to don.

In the struggle for power in Egypt, democracy is a tool. But it is only one among many. That it is the preferred tool of the Brotherhood should not lend them greater favor. It is a bare-knuckled fight, and right now they are losing badly. But they chose to step into the ring, and have grappled along with the rest.

Without granting good intentions to either the military or the Brotherhood (which may be there), let there be some sympathy. Every fight has its principles. Every struggle for what is right is met with temptation to embrace some wrong.

The Brotherhood sees the military leadership as a dictatorial junta. The military sees the Brotherhood as a radical transnational force. Both see each other as a rival.

Be careful, oh outsider, about taking sides. For Egyptians of course it is a different matter entirely.

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Friday Prayers for Egypt: Beheadings

Flag Cross QuranGod,

After a few days the spirit risks becoming calloused. One more tragedy amid a litany of offense. But the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya might strike a nerve that runs deeper. It might awaken a nation to danger, or deaden further a decayed humanity.

For some, God, are blaming the victim. There is talk that the church can only expect such treatment after its support for Morsi’s removal. There is talk that all is faked to further this conspiracy and extend it to Libya.

But there is also action. Two would-be bombers blew themselves up accidentally in the Upper Egyptian city where the victims are from.

God, let not those frustrated with Morsi’s removal descend into hatred and violence. Let them not draw sectarian readings and exact revenge on the innocent. Let not their seeking of justice lead to embrace of chaos. In their struggle, God, save their humanity.

For many are expressing their humanity anew. Government and Muslims alike have poured out sympathy on their Coptic fellow-citizens. A new church will be built in the Upper Egyptian city where the victims are from.

God, let not this moment pass without touching permanently the Egyptian soul. Let not the forgiving example of the Christian families be lost in the outrage against their killers. Let not a desire for justice lump all pro-Morsi together. In their struggle, God, deepen their humanity.

For callousness is still quite possible. So-called Islamic State partisans have been beheading tribesmen in the Sinai for months. May directed targeting of Christians not become as normal. That atrocity is normal at all is a stain on all humanity.

But what should a spirit do to avoid callousness? Do strikes on Libya and a call for international intervention signal a spirit that is hardening? Or is it rather a conscience awakening? Guide Egypt and the world with wisdom to meet this threat.

Whatever the solution, God, limit the blood. Speak alike to presidents and jihadists, that peace, reconciliation, and justice might somehow meet between them.

God, the offenses multiply daily among Egyptians of every persuasion. In their desire to see the world put right, help them hold tenaciously to the humanity of the other. May they forgive, that they be forgiven.

It may be the only way to save their own souls, and Egypt alongside. Be merciful, God, be merciful.

Amen.

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Strong Egypt: A Party in the Middle

As party president Abdel Moneim Aboul-Fotouh speaks (2nd from L), the children of Mahmoud Shalan plead for his release from prison.
As party president Abdel Moneim Aboul-Fotouh speaks (2nd from L), the children of Mahmoud Shalan plead for his release from prison.

On an uncontested electoral list at the Strong Egypt Party’s first general conference on February 13, Abdel Moneim Aboul-Fotouh was confirmed as president along with his running mate for general-secretary, Ahmed Fawzi.

But this was the least remarkable event of the day. Their acceptance speeches set the tone for the controversy to follow.

“I have a dream,” said Fawzi, purposefully echoing Martin Luther King, “that Egypt will be a modern nation with a strong economy that exports ideas to the world.”

But no one was paying attention. As he spoke family members gathered in the aisle and silently held up posters of party members still in jail.

When Aboul Fotouh invited them to the front, activists seized the moment.“Yuskut, yuskut, hukm al-‘askar,” they chanted angrily: Down with military rule. Aboul Fotouh stood quietly, allowing the zeal of younger members to buttress his earlier remarks. “This regime is more oppressive than Mubarak’s,” he thundered. “How can we participate in parliamentary elections when people are killed in soccer games and in the streets?”

Strong Egypt had announced its boycott nine days earlier, but the rhetoric at the conference was far stronger than the official statement, which cited “a “lack of adequate democratic standards,” as the reason for the party’s decision.

The chants against the military prompted Zamil Saleh, a photographer for Sawt al-Umma newspaper, to rush forward in criticism, shouting at the offense. Other Strong Egypt members contained him, holding him back and ushering him out the hall. The process was calm, but al-Bawaba News quickly published he was beaten and his equipment smashed.

Shortly after the incident, party spokesman Ahmed Emam noticed the headline, published online before the conference had ended, and told the audience it was just one more piece of evidence of official state and media bias against the party. Twenty-seven locations had declined to host the conference, he said, many citing concern about security displeasure.

The Strong Egypt Party was licensed officially on November 12, 2012, and has roughly 400 voting members in its general conference, around 250 of whom were present for the election. In addition to the confirmation of the president, 87 candidates ran for 49 seats in the high committee, which in one month will vote on the ten-member political office.

A more contentious referendum item concerned integrating leadership with the Egyptian Current, formed in June 2011 by revolutionaries expelled from the Muslim Brotherhood. Their merger was announced October 1, and at the conference a roughly two-thirds majority approved the agreement to add two Egyptian Current members to the political office, and fifteen to the high committee.

Following the conference, former parliamentarian Mustafa Bakry called for the High Committee of Political Parties to ‘erase’ Strong Egypt as a legal entity, accusing Aboul Fotouh of attacking the Egyptian government. Mohamed Moussa of the Conference Party, founded by Amr Moussa, accused Aboul Fotouh of carrying out the instructions of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Conspiracy aside, Strong Egypt does support the return of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) to political life. Mamdouh al-Shaib, a member of the political office, told EgyptSource that the FJP should be allowed back into the political playing field, as long as it operates separately and independently of the Brotherhood itself.

Shaib believes social reconciliation must precede political, and be followed by transitional justice and a return of the army to its barracks. “Sisi is the ambassador of the army in the presidential palace, just as Morsi was the ambassador of the Brotherhood,” he said.

Fekry Nabil, also of the political committee, distinguished between legality and legitimacy. Morsi was the legal president, Nabil explained to EgyptSource, but through his performance in office he lost his legitimacy. Strong Egypt called for new presidential elections as early as March 2013, and was part of the June 30 demonstrations to remove him from office.

“But no one has the legality to call for the army to remove him,” Nabil added.

From the beginning, Strong Egypt suspected the July 3 removal of Morsi was a coup d’état, but were quiet about it until their transitional suggestions were ignored. Nabil described how in early negotiations after Morsi’s removal, Aboul Fotouh demanded the FJP not be eliminated from the political scene, and a referendum be submitted to the people to legalize the proposed roadmap. If agreed, Strong Egypt offered to mobilize for a ‘yes’ vote.

But subsequent killings at the Republican Guard and in the dispersal of pro-Morsi sit-ins confirmed their suspicion, and since then they have tried to balance between support for June 30, and rejection of July 3.

For Strong Egypt, an essential part of this balance is demanding the right to demonstrate, as in the licit protests of June 30, while not calling for them now, in light of the crackdown against them. They would prefer dialogue to resolve the ongoing crisis and return Egypt to democracy, for current protests carry too high a price in incarceration and blood. But Shaib anticipates another revolutionary wave is probably necessary.

So despite Sisi’s overwhelming victory in presidential elections, which Strong Egypt boycotted, the party considers his conduct in office and suppression of the political scene as confirming his lack of legitimacy following the coup. As to the legality of this election and his right to four years in office, it doesn’t much matter to Strong Egypt.

“Sisi was ruling the country after July 3 in actuality,” said Shaib. “We don’t accept his legitimacy, we recognize his reality.”

This article was originally published at Egypt Source on February 17, 2015.

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Current Events

A Color (Printed) Revolution?

With decent regularity pro-Morsi supporters have conducted small protest marches around our Maadi neighborhood since his removal from office in July 2013. They do not tend to be violent but usually result in ugly graffiti insulting now-President Sisi.

Recently, new graffiti has emerged, calling the people to ‘man up’ and protest on January 25, the anniversary of the original revolution. And this past week I noticed posters – on the ground – calling for a new uprising.

New January 25 ProtestsThe translation reads: Together for liberation and purging; The people want the fall of the regime; and 25 January, Egypt speaks revolution.

I do not yet have a good feel for whether or not people will respond. A recent effort to rally an Islamic revolution failed dramatically to attract numbers.

But what is significant to me about this poster is that it is printed in color. This means there is money behind the effort. Another version was even more colorful, but was in poorer condition.

Also significant is that it was on the ground, stomped upon. I did not see any such posters anywhere on the walls. Were they torn down? Did residents or police prevent their hanging?

January 25 is a week away. It will be interesting to monitor developments.

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Friday Prayers for Egypt: Open, Closed, and Outlawed

Flag Cross Quran

God,

After a long delay, Egypt’s universities opened again, and with it a renewal of student protests.

After a long tenure, the Carter Center closed its Egypt operations, claiming the nation was unlikely to move toward democratic governance.

And after a long tolerance, the government formally outlawed the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, the mostly Islamist effort to return President Morsi to power.

Weigh each step, God, and judge accordingly. The general rhetoric is well known and oft-repeated, but help each measure to be understood in turn.

Provide for students a good education, inclusive of political consciousness. But may the antics of some not disturb the studies of all.

Honor the Carter Center for their work these past three years in critiquing Egypt’s political state. But raise up others who can provide respected assessment of coming parliamentary elections.

And with the NASL, all that exists is the general rhetoric: Establish the truth within competing narratives.

God, give wisdom to the leaders, discernment to the people, and resolute integrity to all.

Egypt has long awaited good, efficient, and honest operation, God. In school, in elections, and in opposition, may all three be witnessed soon.

Amen.

 

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Why Does Egypt Suffer Power Cuts?

Power plant

Even into late September Cairo temperatures reached 100 degrees. Statistics show that 40 percent of energy demand comes from home consumption, and increased air conditioner use contributed to overloading the system.

The one complaint about a recent article at the Middle East Institute on the energy crisis is that it does not describe the ‘how’ of this overloading. That is, why does the power grid shut down in certain neighborhoods, at certain times, and for certain durations? Cairo residents complained of several outages a day over the summer, often lasting an hour at a time.

Were these planned and distributed? Was suffering experienced equally by neighborhood? These are fascinating questions for which I have not yet heard an answer.

But the article does a good job at giving the background to the energy crisis. If one is to be inconvenienced, it helps at the very least to understand why. Here is a brief summary of the main points:

1. From long before the revolution, the government estimated yearly increases at 10 percent, but the actual increases averaged 12 percent.

2. The government did increase its power generation capacity in response, so that by the end of 2013 it equaled 30,000 megawatts. But for near 90 million people this is still inadequate, especially when compared to the near 50 million populations of South Africa and South Korea, which produce 44,000 mw and 80,000 mw respectively.

3. The government anticipated energy growth would coincide with increased production of natural gas. Contracts were signed with international companies, but the 2011 revolution interrupted the ability to pay. Work stopped and production lagged.

4. The existing power grid was forced to work at full capacity to meet local demand, canceling scheduled periods of shutdown for regular maintenance. This contributed to a loss of efficiency and times of irregular shutdown.

5. The Ministry of Electricity has counted 300 acts of terrorism against electricity towers since the June 30, 2013 deposing of President Morsi. Similar accusations of sabotage were issued by the Morsi administration during its year in office.

The end result is that by the summer of 2014, Egypt’s power generation industry is operating at only 70 percent of capacity.

This information will help no one feel cooler in Egypt. Nor will it help anyone feel better about Egypt. The article also described current steps the Sisi government is taking to relieve the crisis; depending on your point of view this information may or may not be helpful either.

But at the least, we can be thankful it is now October.

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Friday Prayers for Egypt: Gaza Again

Flag Cross Quran

God,

It is not as if this is the first time. Mutual acrimony between Israel and Hamas leads to the exchange of rockets, with deeply disproportional suffering. Now a land invasion is poised to begin.

Egypt has been the historic mediator, but this time – so far – unsuccessfully. Two years ago President Morsi, whose Muslim Brotherhood has ties with Hamas, brokered a ceasefire and relative lull in hostilities. This time the violence continues despite Egypt’s efforts, and peace is as far away as ever.

Meanwhile Egyptian society is torn. The people of Gaza lack their standard sympathy due to widespread sentiment Hamas has been destabilizing Egypt through the Sinai. But an anti-Zionism is always present, and as the Palestinian casualties mount the Egyptian frustration mounts with it.

God, is there an answer? Must Hamas be destroyed? Must so many people of Gaza die? Must rockets rain down on Israel? Must the Zionists be driven back to where they came from?

God, there must be a better answer. Help Egypt have a share in finding it. Help world sympathy for all not falter. But help Palestinians and Israelis to reconcile. Help justice to be done.

For justice is a sticking point. The terms are not equal. Palestine is under occupation. Stand with all who suffer, give them relief, and help them to honor moral convictions and call out to you.

Feeling triumphant, too many rejoice in the suffering of others. Feeling aggrieved, too many strike out at innocents. Feeling in need of world opinion, too many manufacture propaganda. Feeling in need of domestic support, too many dehumanize their enemy.

But if they call out, God, answer them and give repentance and forgiveness. Answer them and give initiative and creativity. Answer them and give a just political solution. Answer them and give social peace and mutuality.

Help them find the way, God, first through their own hearts, and then through the hearts of their enemy.

This is not the first time these prayers have been necessary; in man’s estimation it is unlikely to be the last. Remove acrimony and exchange love, God, however impossible it may seem. The sins of all are infinitely disproportionate to your grace, so have mercy.

Bring peace, God. Please.

Amen.

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Current Events

Friday Prayers for Egypt: Reality before Results?

Flag Cross Quran

God,

Monday and Tuesday Egyptians will vote for their next president, or, will not vote. Some of the latter will actively boycott, others will passively stay at home—satisfied, resigned, or uninterested. Some of the former will cast for the frontrunner, others will vote for the underdog—believing, protesting, or building an opposition.

And a few days thereafter, Egypt will know its president. Results are likely to return a decisive victory for General Sisi; yet unknown is the turnout on which much legitimacy will rest.

But full legitimacy is preemptively called into question by data from the latest Pew Research poll. After surveying a thousand Egyptians in face-to-face interviews, 54 percent are revealed in favor of Sisi and the removal of Morsi from power. This is far lower than domestic perception suggests.

Only 38 percent have a favorable opinion of the Muslim Brotherhood. This is far lower than a year earlier, but still substantial. Surveys in Egypt are generally perceived as unreliable, but Pew is respected for its methodology and experience elsewhere in the world.

But God, it matters little what people say in an interview. May this coming election send a message through the actions of citizens.

Give them safety, God, if there are threats against participation.

Give them wisdom, God, to choose the candidate of their inclination.

Give them courage, God, to positively contest if contrary to their conviction.

But encourage the passive to take up a cause, and deny safety of presence to those who will damage. Give wisdom to authorities to secure the life and dignity of all besides.

If Egypt is divided, God, may the next president unite. May his conduct in office be winsome and effective. May Egypt progress under his watch, and those in opposition press him for even greater accountable gains.

But if the poll skews an already great unity, may the next president heal. There are still many in opposition, of a kind unhealthy for progress. Honor their convictions, God, and bring justice for all. But may they still build Egypt even as they reject. Assist the president to integrate them within the boundaries of law.

In these two days of campaign silence before elections, God, help Egypt to reflect. Then, and thereafter, help her to act. Bless the president, and may his leadership bless the people. Together, may they bless you—active, satisfied, and believing.

Amen.

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Creating a Protestant Islam?

SHERAZ ARSHAD

A friend of mine, a politically liberal Muslim with little attachment to religion, has often accused the Muslim Brotherhood of seeking to create a Protestant type of Islam. It is a little difficult to catch the connections, as well as to tell if he believes such a transformation would be good or bad for Egypt. He certainly thinks Brotherhood control of this situation would be bad, but I’m less sure as concerns the greater idea.

This article in The Immanent Frame helps explain what might have been happening along these lines, before the overthrow of Morsi.

First, the context of Islam in Egypt:

In this respect, the law and court rulings do not recognize the existence of a congregation of Muslims who can worship—that is, engage in formal rites—outside the bounds of the state. This legal status seems to be a vestige of the Islamic caliphate (دولة المسلمين, “state of Muslims”), where the congregation of Muslims was conceived as a politico-religious entity, as it first took shape under the leadership of the Prophet Muhammad. While this conception often accrues to the power and advantage of Muslims in the aggregate, it restricts the religious freedom of Muslim groups or individuals who do not wish to align themselves to the political or religious orientation of the political authority.

Post-Morsi, the state has been working diligently to reassert control over the system of mosques, seeking to eliminate divergent Muslim Brotherhood voices. Incidentally, the article states Morsi’s government treated unorthodox voices similarly, continuing the policy of preventing Shi’ite or some extreme Sufi trends from operating local mosques.

But the Muslim Brotherhood also wanted to cement its control over mosques already within its influence, and gain control over mosques that were not. To do so it revived an old government practice of establishing boards to administer mosque affairs, appointed by the state, but with no influence on its religious discourse or choice of imam. The government started this program in the 1980s for the practical reason of its limited resources for direct control, but abandoned it altogether a decade later due to arising conflicts and competition.

When the Brotherhood government assumed control of the Ministry of Endowments, reviving the role of the mosque boards was on the agenda of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the Brotherhood’s political arm. Minister Talaat Afifi issued a decree reconstituting the boards under the name “mosque development boards,” giving them prerogatives similar to those of the old boards. The boards still had no influence over religious and preaching activity, which remained the exclusive purview of the ministry, but, controversially, the boards were to be elected.

In doing so, the Brotherhood established a system in which they could not be accused of appointing their cronies to administer mosques, but instead take advantage of their powerful network through which ‘the people’ would exercise control. But, who are the constituent ‘people’?

But how to determine which Muslims possessed the right to vote in elections for this or that board? The official decree stipulated that “a general assembly of mosque patrons” be created from among registered residents of the neighborhood in which the mosque was located, as well as those who applied to the ministry-appointed imam to affirm that they were regular attendees and registered as members of the general assembly.

Of course this move created a great deal of controversy and opposition, notably from the existing system of imams who saw the risk of their power diminishing. But there was a great religious objection as well, not tied to politics:

The decree also raised the hackles of imams and scholars who believed that it would give rise to local “churches” in Islam; churches have a discrete membership and members have certain prerogatives.

The decision to elect mosque development boards did not resolve the problem or mitigate conflicts, but only inflamed them further, partly because the idea was grafted on to a centralized administrative order and partly because it ran up against the idea of “every mosque for every Muslim”—a central tenet of Islam—making it “every mosque for every Muslim in this neighborhood.”

Morsi’s government suspended the decision to elect boards, and after his overthrow even the appointed boards were dissolved and reconstituted with traditional Azhar scholars and local patrons opposed to the Brotherhood. Politics is a determining factor, certainly, but the philosophical decision seems to have been correct, or at least consistent with traditional reasoning:

There is a traditional Islamic discourse that takes pride in the fact that there is no central religious authority in Islam—no church, no priesthood, no clerical class to govern the religious (and certainly not political) lives of Muslims. This discourse is well grounded in doctrine and Islamic jurisprudence, which indeed contain no reference to the specific shape of Muslims’ religious communities or clerical prerogatives. Historical practice also holds no precedents.

But to return to the central question about whether or not such a Protestantizing of Islam would be ‘good’ for Egypt:

The problem is that Islamic doctrine, jurisprudence, and historical practice do, in fact, both assume and fundamentally rely on the existence of a single Muslim polity with authority over Muslims’ religious affairs and the religious scholar class. The alternative is to abandon the Muslim state for a modern nation-state that fully embraces the concept of citizenship, which would entail the disappearance of political authority over religious affairs and open the door to religious freedom. Otherwise, the modern state will continue to draw on this legacy of religious authority inherited from the caliphate.

In engineering its policies for managing Islam, the state proceeds from the belief that Muslims’ religious unity is part and parcel of preserving political unity and the patriotic line, and it legally suppresses any activity or attempt on the part of Muslim groups or individuals to freely worship outside the bounds of the centralized state administration or beyond the scope of a centralized, religious orthodoxy described as “proper religion.”

Here in Egypt the Coptic Orthodox Church behaves similarly. A Christian is at home, theoretically, in one church building as he is in another. A man appointed deacon may show up in any church, don his robe, and join in serving communion. There is the thought in Christianity that the priest should only serve this communion to one who is in good standing – requiring local relationships to know – but this does not seem to be practiced. Instead, the confessional relationship may occur with a priest from any church, diocese, or monastery. The judgment of receiving communion is usually left to the conscience of the believer.

In majority Christian lands where the Protestant Church is established in relationship with the government, perhaps there is a parallel as well. But in America as well as Egypt the pattern is toward local independence with varying levels of denominational cooperation. The multitude of Protestant denominations certainly contributes, which is a phenomena not generally mirrored in Islam.

But Islam exhibits great diversity, certainly cultural diversity in its many international expressions. What it does not generally do is sanction this diversity as an option for local communities of Muslims. Outside the Muslim world it certainly exists, as mosques are established for minorities along lines of freedom given to churches, and generally funded by the community or by donations from abroad. Such freedom, however, is not extended by many Muslim states to their majority Muslim populations. In this, it seems, they follow not necessarily the rule of Muhammad, but the ideal practice of the faith current during his time.

And perhaps they dare not do otherwise, for equally historical reasons. After Muhammad the early caliphal period and afterwards witnessed an explosion of Muslim diversity that nearly tore the nascent state apart. Many of these movements were political in orientation, no matter how much religious piety and practice played a role. It took all the skill of ‘the rightly guided caliphs’ to hold things together, and the task fell to later jurists to shape sharia so as to allow a degree of diversity to law schools while maintaining the overall unity of the faith. It also fell to later caliphs to secure the support of scholars to maintain legitimacy for their rule. These processes evidence elements of manipulation and duplicity alongside sincere devotion to faith, a legacy that continues in the mosque-state relationship to this day.

Can it be developed differently along Protestant lines? Should it be? Perhaps the Muslim Brotherhood tried, and as in many of their efforts, failed. In a neutral environment, if such freedom existed, Muslim Brotherhood groups would gain control over certain mosques in certain neighborhoods – maybe many. But would the success of allowing full local control of mosques contribute to a greater climate of freedom, or simply initiate a religio-political anarchy that would tear government and society apart?

As with most experiments, all that awaits is the trying. Will Egypt, or similar nations succeeding the caliphal system, dare take the risk? Or is the very idea inimical to Islam altogether?

Please feel free to weigh in with your own ideas and experiences.

Categories
Arab West Report Middle East Published Articles

Salafi-Jihadis, Sinai, and the Anticipation of Terrorism

L: Mohamed al-Zawahiri, R: Mohamed Morsi
L: Mohamed al-Zawahiri, R: Mohamed Morsi

This post recalls two articles published last year at Arab West Report but not referenced on the blog, on the SalafiJihadis. The testimony is poignant based on current developments:

“We are distinguished from other Islamic trends by not accepting partial solutions,” he said. “The Brotherhood has understandings with the Americans, and they are not working on behalf of the shar’īah but to keep power for themselves.” As for the Salafīs, “They were a pure religious movement, far from politics, but when we see how the Nour Party has behaved after the revolution we see a great similarity to the state security apparatus, finding consensus with the military and even with the liberals.”

This jihad, however, does not target the West directly, though he lauds al-Qā’idah, justifies the Benghazi operation, and warns Americans their blood is not safe in Muslim lands. In fact, though his rhetoric is violent – “We have come to smash the pillars which the people have gotten used to” – the Salafī-Jihadi effort consists entirely of preaching, however much the State Department says otherwise.

“We do not carry weapons in Egypt,” he said. “We are engaged only in an intellectual battle. The security wants to charge us with being armed, but we reject this completely.”

The above quotes from Ahmed Ashoush, a colleague of Mohamed al-Zawahiri. They are accused of links with the Muslim Brotherhood and of fueling Sinai-based terrorism to protest his removal from power.

The second article reflects an email exchange with two experts on Islamist movements, Khalil al-Anani and Ahmed Zaghloul. Here is an excerpt from the latter, on the propensity of different groups toward violence:

Do you believe they are engaged in or preparing for an armed struggle and/or terrorist activity in Egypt or the region?

A large number of the remaining Jihad Organization has renounced violence; so has Jamā’at al-Islāmīyah following their ‘Revisions’ and created a political party with members in the Egyptian parliament. These are the classic organizations associated with violence.

But the idea of using violence is still present and will never disappear. There are a number of vine-like organizations in the Sinai which have conducted violent operations recently. There are others who have adopted the ideas of al-Qā’idah in Egypt.

But the source of danger is not the known groups but the sleeping cells who maintain the idea of jihad. Some of these have traveled to Iraq, Libya, or Syria for the jihad there. As long as there are places subject to aggression there will be suitable areas for these cells to be active.

Reality changes frequently, as does the ability to accept comments at face value. But these testimonies are offered in the ongoing effort to determine what is happening in Egypt, for the good of the country. Please click here to read the full articles at Arab West Report.

Categories
Excerpts

The Nature of the Insurrection

From McClatchy, an article full of interesting anecdotes on the Islamist youth committing violence in the Nile Delta:

In Sharqia province, which sits just between Cairo and the restive Sinai, eight police officers have been killed in just three weeks, each by a motorcyclist who pulled up to them in traffic and shot them, usually in the head, according to Mohammed el Khatib, the general coordinator of the police union.

This is what makes the news, but testimonies of the youth reveal something a little different:

In December, they tried to set a police officer’s car on fire but were so inexperienced they failed. Then last month, they decided to launch three attacks on the same day, to distract the police from their protests. In addition to setting the police officer’s home ablaze, they planned to bomb a train. But they couldn’t trigger the explosion, so they settled for setting it on fire.

The third attack came when Saleh pointed a gun at nearby residents while his friends set a stationary shop belonging to Mohsen Said Mtwaly, 65, a retired general who’s a supporter of Field Marshall Abdel Fatah el-Sissi, the minister of defense who engineered Morsi’s ouster and now is the presumed front-runner for still-to-be-set presidential elections. A photo of Sissi sits in the store’s display window.

The interviewed youth say they have no share in the killing of officers, and this is what proves their methods as ‘peaceful’.

Interesting also is why they supported the presidency of Morsi, quite opposite from the international rhetoric of the Brotherhood:

The three young men said they first organized during Morsi’s presidency when he called for projects to renew Egypt. They hoped to create an Islamic caliphate, they said. They felt that if Egypt could be ruled by Islamists, then other countries would follow and soon the region would become one big caliphate. But they never got a chance to start their movement.

Debutantes in violence may become more professional, as many of the terrorist attacks in Egypt have proven. More disturbing is this account of local police efforts to stop it:

As he cleaned up the debris three weeks after the attack, Mtwaly was unapologetic about urging residents to reject Morsi’s administration.

“I know the Muslim Brotherhood very well and they have no national agenda,” Mtwaly said. “I used to tell people they are not good for you. They want to steal the country.”

Mtwaly said he backs the police and is confident they will find the men who set fire to his shop, unaware that McClatchy already had tracked them down.

Categories
Excerpts

Islamists on the Demise of Islamism

From the Hudson Institute, a very long but very worthy survey of Islamist reflection on current events in Egypt and the fall of Morsi. In addition, it translates in full three current articles on the subject by leading non-Egyptian Islamists, and here is an excerpt from Tunisia’s Rashid al-Ghannouchi:

What is called “political Islam” is not in a state of decline. Rather it is in the process of correcting its mistakes and preparing for a new phase, which is not far away, of the practice of better governance. It does not need decades to recover larger opportunities that await it in the time of open-source media spaces, and in the face of coup projects which nakedly lack any moral, civilizational or political cover.

They (Islamists) are deeply rooted movements in their societies carrying the values of peaceful democratic revolution and the values of communalism as a substitute for individuality in a successful marriage of the values of Islam and the values of modernity.

Two thoughts: First, as the Muslim Brotherhood was scrambling to after the fall of Morsi but before the full scale crackdown witnessed now, many Brothers admitted vaguely that their movement had ‘made mistakes‘. But this seemed less an admission as a plea for allies, and was rejected wholescale by the revolutionary forces who believed the Brotherhood betrayed them.

Above, Ghannouchi argues that this current trial is producing the reflection necessary to achieve better governance, chief of which is a spirit of inclusion. Perhaps he speaks confidently because of Tunisia’s experience, in which Islamists engaged in political give-and-take to produce a consensual constitution which falls short of Islamist hopes.

But if Egyptian Islamists are engaged in this reflection it is not demonstrated in the public discourse of Brotherhood leadership, mostly abroad. Instead the focus is on a full return of Morsi’s legitimacy and a prosecution of all involved in the ‘coup’. Perhaps this is popular rhetoric from which they can retreat at the moment of success, but it continues the problem from which their movement suffers: doublespeak.

For at the same time Muslim Brothers are reaching out to other revolutionary movements uncomfortable with the behavior of the army. They might find among them allies, but having had full opportunity to be inclusive, choosing instead to discard them at the moment of success, why should these groups trust them again? Now under pressure, have they really reformed? Especially when faced with Ghannouchi’s vision, stated in a 2009 article also translated by the author:

Nothing can stop the advance of Islamism:

which makes the task of empowering it a matter of time and standing in its way is pure stubbornness to the ways of history and society… attempting to stop it only results in more extremism and explosion. Islamism is not limited to a party or a group, the Islamic project is broader than being reduced to a party or a governance program, governance is merely a part of its project, and is not the greater part or the most important.

Would-be allies are invited to participate in the governance of the state, but only in light of the inevitability of full, Islamist triumph. It is not simply a matter of ‘why trust them again’. The Islamist goal, as articulated by Ghannouchi, is one of ideological domination. Within this vision is good governance and general morality, yes, but not ultimate plurality. If other revolutionary groups have a different vision, why should they enable?

Second, I wonder if Ghannouchi’s vision is anachronistic. He claims in the first quote above that political Islam is the union of Islam and modernity, but does he seek to inherit something that no longer exists? Western analysts say that civilization is now in post-modernity. Perhaps they are wrong and even defining the difference is beyond the scope of this reflection.

But have Islamists struggled a century to achieve a goal that is now but a vapor? If modernity was the effort to ideologically define the rapid industrial, educational, and technological advances of mankind – leaving many behind – post-modernity is an admission of this ideological failure. Islamists might say, ‘Wait, you haven’t tried us yet,’ but is the world willing to experiment? Or rather, by asserting a single ideology, worse, wrapped in religion, are they flailing against a general rejection of grand claims? Plurality, especially in the West, is the non-ideology of the day.

Can Islamism speak to this, or is it hopelessly behind the times? These are questions only, but Ghannouchi prompts them. Do even his hopeful answers miss the mark?

Categories
Personal

Repackaging January 25

Sisi for President

General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is an unannounced, unofficial candidate for president, but the announced, but still unofficial campaign for him to run has long been strong. Immediately after deposing President Morsi on July 3 he denied any intention for seeking office, but has since expressed an openness without declaring himself either way, though he dropped strong hints he would run if the constitution was ratified with strong turnout.

It has, and Sisi-mania has persisted, with many politicians offering their unqualified support should he decide to announce his candidacy. There is even a lawsuit filed to compel him to run for president.

The above poster is a new initiative in this direction. It translates:

Complete the good you have done and choose your president

‘The good’ represents the massive demonstrations on June 30 which demanded early elections to remove Morsi as president. June 30 has been billed as a new revolution, but also as a corrective extension of the original January 25 uprising against President Mubarak. To others, June 30 is the counter-revolution, less against Morsi than for the state/regime which had buckled in 2011, but not collapsed.

So within this mix, the translation continues:

The day of the people’s victory and of completing the path

Take to the streets and share in supporting the nomination of

General Sisi

President of the Republic

25 January 2014

It is unknown whether or not General Sisi is behind this effort or if other state forces desire him, or, if it represents simply the will of a great portion of the populace. Almost all observers predict that if Sisi were to run for president he would win in a landslide.

Will January 25, therefore, be repackaged as the launching pad for the next president of Egypt? If so, will the original revolution lose more of its luster among a weary population, or, if not and, will the June 30 extension restore much of what January 25 meant to topple? Mubarak, of course, was a president from the ranks of the military.

January 25 was originally selected as the start-date for the revolution because of its coincidence with the national observance of Police Day. It was a protest against the police state and its brutality, but also against corruption in general throughout the regime.

Incidentally, the Interior Ministry has called on the public to rally in Tahrir on this day – without mentioning Sisi specifically. He has also floated the idea that Police Day be moved to June 30, to coincide with the revolution against President Morsi.

Let us suppose General Sisi removes his uniform, runs for president, and wins his mandate. This may reflect very poorly on Egypt abroad, giving ammunition to those who call what happened on July 3 a coup d’etat, however popular. He has the right to run, of course, but is it wise?

That may all depend on the type of president he will be. Will he restore the Mubarak state and rule similarly with token appreciation for parliamentary politics? Or will he honor the original revolutionary demands and reform both the police and the culture of politics, presiding over a true and ongoing democratic transition? Might he perhaps, with his military background and popular backing, be the only one who can accomplish this?

Doubters say the manner in which he has presided over Egypt since July 3 reflect a very low possibility of the latter. The violent crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood, the controversial protest law, and the media campaign to tarnish original revolutionary icons all suggest resuscitation of the dominant state. Furthermore, electoral flexibility passed by the constitutional assembly to the interim president – viewed in this framework as Sisi’s puppet – allow great maneuverability to shape the coming parliament along conciliatory lines.

But throughout the previous three years there has been a lingering sentiment, now a fully raging fire, that Egypt, especially through the Muslim Brotherhood, has been the victim of a conspiracy. Morsi, it is said, won his victory through fraud and foreign pressure, recalling the Brotherhood monitors who declared his victory long before the official results were counted. Judges who participated in the alleged charade are now being investigated.

Egypt’s judiciary – alternately reviled and respected among the people – will have to judge these matters. Their decision either way will be filtered through the lens of some conspiracy. But it reminds of the question ongoing since revolutionary trials began: Who killed the protestors? Has the judicial system let murders off the hook? Were police shooting in defense of stations attacked throughout the country? Or was there simply a lack of sufficient evidence to rule against anyone?

And though many analysts dismiss these thoughts as the knee-jerk reaction of any autocratic regime that comes under popular pressure, conspiracy theorists have a powerful retort. Look at Syria, Libya, and Iraq before that. Their states and armies are all victims of foreign interference. Shall we allow Egypt to fall next?

Or, through Sisi, is it falling now? Pro-Morsi forces are also calling for mass demonstrations on January 25, at Tahrir Square and throughout Egypt. They are now warning of civil war, even as they mobilize.

The general is at the nexus of many attempts to define January 25 amid ongoing Egyptian turmoil. The success of January 25, 2014 to push Sisi to the presidency, as well as the manner in which he may eventually govern, will define the ultimate packaging of the revolution.

Categories
Prayers

Friday Prayers for Egypt: Arguing the Referendum

Flag Cross Quran

God,

The referendum passed, decisively. Turnout was strong, comparatively. The meaning is debated, heatedly. And here the prayers are needed.

A few dispute the turnout, which was the key indicator. Supporters of Morsi have claimed only about ten percent of the electorate voted, while unofficial figures of both participation and affirmation supersede the results for the 2012 constitution.

Unless massive fraud is demonstrated, the people have ratified Morsi’s removal, the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, the constitution itself, and perhaps, the presidential candidacy of General Sisi.

In this choice, God, bless Egypt. Bless her for the virtues displayed, for the wisdom exhibited, and in spite of the manipulations present. Whether this choice honors or dishonors your will, God, bless the nation moving forward.

For there was manipulation, God, and herein lies the arguing. State and media vigorously campaigned for a yes vote. The few campaigning for no were arrested. The boycotting opposition was either in jail or in the streets – and even here there is argument. Are the Brotherhood terrorists in label or in reality? Were their protests disrupted, or were they disruptive?

In these questions, God, bless Egypt. Make clear the status of those accused, that they may be tried and judged, sentenced or acquitted, justly and transparently. Make both their supporters and their condemners simultaneously resolute and compassionate. And protect the safety of the streets, for both traverse and protest. Too much traffic has been halted, far too much blood has been spilt.

But as Egyptians and analysts alike argue over the meaning of the referendum, sift the virtue from the vice like the wheat from the chaff. Do results indicate the sovereignty of the people or the authoritarianism of the state?

In this dichotomy, God, bless Egypt. If a mixed bag, then refine them both. Strengthen and encourage a necessary hard hand in difficult times. But rebuke and hold accountable that which violates the law, certainly, but also your standards of righteousness. In your time, God, unmix this bag that Egypt may move forward in full confidence of its cause.

And if it is not mixed at all, bless Egypt tenfold for the offense to which she is subjected, from whichever faction is in the wrong.

Harness the passion in these arguments, God, and marshal it for Egypt’s good. Then cool these fires, so that differing opinion might mutually benefit, educate, and reform. Give meaning to this struggle, and have the nation emerge clean.

Bless Egypt with her new constitution. May consensus come, and with it peace.

Amen.