Tag Archives: Egypt

Tensions Between Egypt’s Muslims and Christians are Rising

In Ägypten ist es erneut zu Spannungen zwischen Muslimen und Kopten gekommen, wie die Online-Zeitung «Al Masry Al Youm» am 24. Juni schreibt. Am 23. Juni belagerten mehrere hundert Muslime eine Kirche im mittelägyptischen Dorf Bani Ahmed und protestierten gegen den örtlichen Priester. Die Polizei habe die Versammlung aufgelöst. Menschen wurden dem Bericht zufolge nicht verletzt.

Read the whole sad report here.

More Anti-Christianity in Egypt

A modern Coptic monastery

Tens of thousands of Egyptians led by hard-line Islamists escalated their protests Friday over the appointment of a Coptic Christian governor in southern Egypt, deepening mistrust between religious communities during the bumpy aftermath of Egypt’s revolution.  More than a week of protests seeking to unseat the governor of Qena province are testing the ability of Egypt’s transitional military rulers and the interim government to handle an Islamic movement capable of rallying large numbers behind its hard-line agenda without jeopardizing the future of a democratic Egypt.

Tens of thousands…  That bodes quite poorly for the future of Christianity in Egypt.  Will Christians be driven from that country as they have from Iraq, Iran, Palestine and Israel?  Does ‘democracy’ in the middle east mean the end of the Christian community there?

That Revolution in Egypt Is Turning into a Stinker

So much for change.  The One Tyrant has just been replaced by the tyranny of the many.

The Egyptian government on Wednesday passed a law criminalizing protests and strikes. Under the new law, anyone organizing or calling for a protest will be sentenced to jail and/or a fine of LE500,000.  The new law will be enforced as long as the current Emergency Law is in place, said the Council of Ministers in a statement on Wednesday. The Emergency Law has been in force since 1981 following the assassination of former President Anwar Sadat.  The new law will apply to anyone inciting, urging, promoting or participating in a protest or strike that hampers or delays work at any private or public establishments.

I bet Mubarak wishes he had come up with that one.  Still, that’s just what happens when you ‘put your trust in man, your hope in a son of man’ (or a group of them).

Protecting Egyptian Antiquities: Taking Affirmative Action

George Washington University Capitol Archaeological Institute announced yesterday that it has launched an initiative to protect Egyptian antiquities from illicit trade around the world. The institute identified specific actions that the U.S. government and international law enforcement authorities should take to help prevent the illegal trade of Egyptian antiquities. In addition, many of the most respected Egyptologists in the United States and the world and other respected scholarly organizations have joined the GW institute in calling for action by government and law enforcement authorities.

Here’s the Press Release: http://www.gwu.edu/explore/mediaroom/newsreleases/georgewashingtonuniversitycapitolarchaeologicalinstitutelaunchesinitiativetoprotectegyptianantiquities
Text of Call for Action with Signatories: http://archaeology.columbian.gwu.edu/home/call-for-action-to-protect-egyptian-antiquities/

And the Online Petition (which can be signed): http://www.gopetition.com/petition/44079.html

Do go sign it if you’re so inclined.  And why wouldn’t you be?

Good Riddance to Zahi Hawass

He should have resigned ages ago.  The tyrant.

Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s powerful and controversial antiquities chief, resigned on Thursday along with the prime minister, after posting on his Web site for the first time a list of dozens of sites that have been looted since the beginning of the uprising that led to the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.  Reached by telephone, Mr. Hawass said he was happy that he had made the “right decision” in resigning and lashed out at colleagues who have criticized him, including one who has accused him of smuggling antiquities.  Among the places Mr. Hawass named as having been looted were the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s storerooms at its excavation site in Dahshur, south of Cairo. In a statement the Met’s director, Thomas P. Campbell, described that incident as having taken place several weeks ago.

Yes, good riddance.

Killing a Coptic Priest

In Egypt

A Coptic Priest was found killed in his home in the Southern City of Assiut on Monday. Reverend Dawood Boutros had been dead for two days before relatives found him after failing to get in contact with him for two days.  Following the announcement of his death, around 3,000 Copts protested in Assiut in front of the Priest`s house, chanting: “We sacrifice our life for the crucifix.”  Police officials claimed that the priest’s safe was found open and valuables missing indicating it was a violent theft, however Egypt`s leading government-run newspaper, Al-Ahram, said there is disagreement with the police`s version. Some claim that the murder was committed by State Security Personnel to counter calls that the State Security should be abolished and withdrawn.

Murder made to look like robbery?  In any event, barbarity and depravity.

Until Our Own Problems are Solved, Stop Giving our Money Away!

That’s my message to the dimwits in Washington, who in spite of tremendous budgetary difficulties here, insist on flushing tax dollars down the sewer of the Middle East.

our tax dollars

The United States has announced it will provide $150 million in aid to Egypt to support its transition towards democracy. The Obama administration is also sending two senior officials, the undersecretary of state for political affairs and a senior White House adviser on international economics, to Egypt next week.  The announcement was made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after briefing U.S. lawmakers about the current situation in Egypt, and comes a week after Hosni Mubarak resigned from his position as President of Egypt after 30 years of rule.  “It’s very clear that there is a great deal of work ahead to ensure an orderly democratic transition. It’s also clear that Egypt will be grappling with immediate and long-term economic challenges,” Clinton told reporters.  Clinton also reiterated that the U.S. is ready to provide assistance to Egypt as it moves toward democracy.

Stop it!  Just STOP!  Are you unaware that countries can’t be purchased?  The game has changed.  Loyalty to US policy is no longer for sale.

The US Lacks Credibility

Michele Keleman’s report on Morning Edition is a fantastic look at the disastrous consequences of American impotence in Mid Eastern affairs.  Extremely interesting is this remark by one David Miller, which is just spot on:

“We are neither admired, respected or feared to the degree that we need to be in order to protect our interests and the reality is — and this is just another demonstration of it — everybody in this region says no to America without cost or consequences,” he says. “Hamid Karzi says no, Maliki on occasion says no, Khameni says no, Netanyahu says no. Mubarak says no repeatedly.”  U.S. credibility fell over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, analysts say, and again last year when Israel rejected U.S. calls for a building freeze in the occupied West Bank.

Until and unless the United States cuts off all that wasted foreign aid, to all of those countries (including Israel), it will continue to be mocked and derided and behind the scenes viewed with nothing but contempt for its weakness and spinelessness.  Our country has no credibility because it has no willpower.

There are others in Washington making the case for playing the aid card, especially now that the U.S. is making specific calls for reforms.  Robert Kagan of the Brookings Institution, who co-chairs a bipartisan working group on Egypt, says the U.S. used what leverage it had to make sure the army didn’t crack down on protesters. Now, he says, the Obama administration needs to use the aid card to make sure there are real reforms.  “At the end of the day, I think it is literally the case that if the Egyptian regime transforms itself into a dictatorship without the name Mubarak at the top of it that they will lose U.S. aid,” Kagan says. “Right now they are not sure they will lose the aid, and I think the more we make that clear to them the better chance we have.”  The test of US leverage, Kagan says, is just beginning.

It’s probably another diplomatic test we will fail.  Or rather, our leadership will fail.  And the US will continue to send money to regimes which despise us.

The Egyptian Army is Standing With Mubarak

Hopes that the Army would side with the protesters were misplaced.  NPR reports

Egypt’s military threw its weight Friday behind President Hosni Mubarak’s plan to stay in office through September elections while protesters fanned out to the presidential palace in Cairo and other key symbols of the authoritarian regime in a new push to force the leader to step down immediately.  The statement came several hours after Mubarak refused to step down or leave Egypt and instead handed most of his powers to his vice president Omar Suleiman, enraging protesters who pleaded for the military to take action to push him out.

If violence breaks out, the Army will of necessity have to step in.  And that could result in a lot of bloodshed.

Mubarak is a smart man- he’s biding his time, calling in his numerous resources, and will leave office when he wants, not when anyone else does.  And he has the backing of the army.  The protesters may as well go back to their lives or outright rebel.  The present tactic of protesting isn’t working, and won’t.  If there isn’t a full fledged armed uprising by the population at large, nothing will change.  And if there is, many will die.  I suppose the Egyptians have to decide whether real liberty is worth death.  A dicey question.

Labor Strikes: Today in Egypt

Via CNN

Thousands of Egyptian workers went on strike Thursday to demand better compensation, adding pressure to a government buckling under massive protests calling for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. Various agencies launched strikes nationwide, including employees in the petroleum, railway and telecommunication industries. About 2,000 workers are on strike in the petroleum sector, said Hamdi Abdel-Aziz, a spokesman for the petroleum ministry. They were calling for better compensation and transparency in executive salaries, the spokesman said.

It seems that almost every sector of the economy is taking part including rail workers and doctors. If protests against the President won’t bring change hitting the already weakened economy may be more effective. Or it may backfire. Stay tuned…

[And to those who wonder why this is important I answer- human freedom is always important and those seeking it always worthy of support- especially from Christians, who understand what real freedom is].

Bibi’s Worried…

Benjamin Netanyahu

Israel's own tyrant and would be world dictator

That Egypt might fall into radical Islamic hands.  What Bibi, you mean you’re afraid that Egypt’s course might be charted by religious fundamentalists and radicals, like Israel?

Egypt could fall into the hands of radical Islamists as a result of the country’s uprising, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday. Netanyahu warned about the result of the riots in Egypt over the past two weeks while speaking at an event for European diplomats held at the Knesset on Monday.

Right. Heaven forbid that Egypt be allowed to chart its own course without consulting you.

“Egyptians can choose a state with secular reforms. However, there is also another possibility that the Islamists will exploit the situation in order to gain governance over the country and lead it backward,” the Prime Minister said.

Backwards? You mean in the direction where people can be displaced and treated like second class non citizens because they aren’t ‘pure’ enough? No, that wouldn’t be good would it Bib-meister.

“The third possibility is that [Egypt] will go in the direction of Iran,” Netanyahu said, adding that they would “oppress the country and threaten all those surrounding it.”

Right, because nothing could be worse than threatening neighbors (like in the West Bank and Gaza and Lebanon and Syria).

Bibi’s worried that his own style of politics might become his neighbors type. I suppose that would be cause to worry. But what’s good for Israel is good for anyone.

Today in Egypt

Egyptian Intelligence Director Omar Suleiman a...

Egypt's VP

Things are actually improving.  Banks are open.  Life is returning to some normalcy.  And most importantly, the various parties are talking and not throwing rocks or bullets.

Egypt’s vice president met a wide representation of major opposition groups for the first time Sunday and agreed to allow freedom of the press, to release those detained since anti-government protests began nearly two weeks and ago and to lift the country’s hated emergency laws when security permits.  Vice President Omar Suleiman endorsed a plan with the opposition to set up a committee of judiciary and political figures to study proposed constitutional amendments that would allow more candidates to run for president and impose term limits on the presidency, the state news agency reported. The committee was given until the first week of March to finish the tasks.  The regime also pledged not to harass those participating in the anti-government protests, which have drawn hundreds of thousands at the biggest rallies. The government also agreed not to hamper freedom of press and not to interfere with text messaging and Internet.

So good for the Egyptians.

Freedom of the (Burning of the) Press

Animation showing the calligraphic composition...

Al-Jazeera

Al-Jazeera’s offices in Cairo were stormed and torched and its Website hacked Friday, says the Pan-Arab broadcaster, while the top U.N. human rights official complained that media covering Egyptian pro-democracy protests are being arrested “in a blatant attempt to stifle news.”  Qatar-based Al-Jazeera — widely watched in the Middle East — portrayed the attack on its office as an attempt by Egypt’s regime or its supporters to hinder its coverage of the uprising in Egypt. Al-Jazeera said the office was burned along with the equipment inside it.

The world just can’t stop itself from being obnoxious and despicably violent.  And the NRA rejoiced.  And – by the way – Al-Jazeera is an actual news organization.  Unlike Fox.

The Egyptian Army is Stepping In

An Egyptian Army M60A1 Main Battle Tank (MBT) ...

The Egyptian army has called for protesters rallying for a ninth day against President Hosni Mubarak’s
regime to go home and “return to normal life.”  In a call for protesters to leave the streets, Ismail Etman, a military spokesman said on state television on Wednesday: “The army forces are calling on you … You began by going out to express your demands and you are the ones capable of restoring normal life.  “I call on the conscious youth of Egypt, honest men of Egypt, we should look forward to future, think of our country, Egypt. Your message has been heard, demands understood, and we are working day and night to secure our homeland for your interest, the honourable people of Egypt.”

Whether or not the army is willing or able to enforce a return to normalcy will be seen Friday when protesters plan to march to the Presidential Palace to demand Mubarak’s resignation.  Let’s hope the protests are peaceful, and the army restrained.

US Mideast Policy is a Ship Without a Sail or a Rudder

Members of the Kefaya democracy movement prote...

A fascinating essay in Al-Jazeera makes that general point explicit.

In the midst of the startling and compelling events taking place in the Middle East since the advent of Tunisia’s ongoing “jasmine revolution”, with people taking to the streets in Algeria, in Yemen, in Jordan, and, most importantly, shaking the foundations of the Mubarak regime in Egypt – the US, [PJ Crowley]  said, is passively “watching and responding”.

A ship without a sail…  or a rudder.  Read the whole.

Benjamin Netanyahu: The World’s Biggest Hypocrite

East Jerusalem & West Bank

Bibi wants the world to ‘demand’ that Egypt’s new government (if and when there is one) keep its peace treaty with Israel intact.  What hypocrisy!  Israel has ignored UN mandate after UN mandate.  He has encouraged the expansion of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.  He has rejected all manner of demands which the world has made and now all of a sudden, when it comes to something that he wants, he expects the world to rush to his aid and demand something of a sovereign state?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the international community must demand that any Egyptian government maintain its peace treaty with Israel.

No Bibi, if Israel can thumb its nose at treaties and agreements so can the Egyptians.  And they should.  And further they should demand that Israel withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza and the Golan and East Jerusalem before they’re even willing to sit down and discuss a new treaty that will be enforced by occupying UN forces if necessary.  That’s what Egypt, and the rest of the world, should demand.  And when Bibi meets that demand and the Palestinians have a homeland of their own which Israel unconditionally recognizes, then there will be peace.  Then Israel can make requests like every other good nation-citizen of the world.

The Coming Crackdown in Egypt (?)

Egypt’s military moves to take control of parts of Cairo. Show of force is seen as a sign that the army may be preparing to crack down. Thousands of protesters defy a curfew to gather for a demonstration that ends with an appearance by Mohamed ElBaradei, who promises ‘change is coming.’

So begins the Los Angeles Times report.

Reporting from Cairo — Egypt’s military moved more aggressively Sunday to take control over parts of the capital, but the sixth day of unrest ended with increasing questions about how much longer President Hosni Mubarak could withstand calls for his resignation, including an electrifying demand from opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei that he step down to “save the country.”

I’m still of the opinion that Mubarak will retain power and a military crackdown is impending. I will be very, very surprised if he actually resigns. No, I’ll be shocked.  Of course I’m awful at guessing which sports team is going to win a game.  So who knows.

I’m simply going to continue to pray that the wonderful Egyptian people find peace and freedom as soon as possible as peacefully as possible.

As to those who think it unwise to speak out for peace or who think theologians should wait until it’s all over before they say anything to the situation I would only say, go on back to sleep.  It’s already too late for you to be taken seriously or relevantly.   Theologians who speak last speak pointlessly.  They are like people in a theater where a fire breaks out and everyone has already said ‘get out’ and then suddenly when no one is left in the room they stand, alarmed, look around, and scream ‘fire’.  At that moment what they say only matters to them, and not to anyone else, because by then no one is listening.

Mobs Freeing Prisoners: Today in Egypt

Gangs of armed men attacked at least four jails across Egypt before dawn Sunday, helping to free hundreds of Muslim militants and thousands of other inmates as police vanished from the streets of Cairo and other cities.  The U.S. Embassy in Cairo told its citizens in Egypt to consider leaving the country as soon as possible, and said it had authorized the voluntary departure of dependents and non-emergency employees, a display of Washington’s escalating concern about the stability of its closest Arab ally.

Violence, crime, looting… none of it really measures up to what an authentic uprising in the name of justice and freedom ought to be.  The human capacity to corrupt and deface even the most noble of enterprises is never ending.

The Arab world’s most populous nation appeared to be swiftly moving closer to a point at which it either dissolves into widespread chaos or the military expands its presence and control of the streets.  A broader and tougher military role could be welcomed by increasingly fearful Egyptians but would run a risk of appearing to place the army on the side of the regime and antagonizing protesters.

The army isn’t going to continue to stand by.  It can’t, or Egypt will destroy itself in anarchy.

Meanwhile, oil is up because greedy speculators and fear mongers are worried that Egypt’s oil highways will be disturbed.  What hasn’t happened and may not happen still is seized upon by people more than happy to profit from even the perception of misery.  That’s life in the modern world.  Get used to it if you aren’t already.

An Analysis of the Egyptian Uprising: Will it Lead to an Islamist State?

Stuart links to an interesting couple of items in his recent post which is very much worth looking at.  If I may, it seems to me that there are a couple of issues that the West seems to be concerned with:

1- if we support the revolutionaries, will an Islamist state replace Mubarak’s ‘democracy’.  And

2- what will the outcome be if that’s the case?

On 1- if the people of Egypt want an Islamist state, why should that be of concern to the rest of the world as long as that state doesn’t become a haven of intolerance or a staging ground for radicalism?  And to assert that Egypt is a democratic country is just simply an absurd miscalculation of the situation there.  Mubarak is a dictator and no one should imagine otherwise.

And on 2- if the outcome of the revolution (which, I must confess, I still think will fail because of police and military obedience to Mubarak) is an Islamist state, will the West’s support of Mubarak rebound to our shame?  Probably.

Whatever the outcome, it’s a terribly complex situation and worse, there are folk dying for freedom, literally.  Meanwhile, we all have the freedom to do as we please, including but not limited to total indifference.  Which seems the path being taken by most.

Take Action on Behalf of the Egyptian People

Amnesty International

Whether or not you appreciate the work of Amnesty International, you surely must care about the fate of the Egyptian people and Amnesty is going to speak up on their behalf.  If you’ll lend your voice, maybe we can all be heard.

Demonstrations have already been held in San Francisco, New York and DC.  AIUSA’s office has organized a rally outside the consulate in Chicago at noon Saturday, Jan. 29.  For more information on that rally, contactshaunharkin@gmail.com and dickreilly@aol.com.  Information about other rallies will be posted as information is available.

But if you don’t live near a consulate, please call and call today to the Egyptian embassy.  Emails sent to its public address are bouncing back, but telephone is working. The address is 3521 International Ct. NW Washington DC 20008. Phone: 202.895.5400.  Fax: 202.244.4319.

A complete list of consulates can be found here.

Finally, there is also US government work to do.  We are receiving reports from Egypt that tear gas canisters and other weapons used against the protesters have been made in the United States.  It is imperative that the U.S. government investigate whether any of this material has been used in a manner that would violate the Leahy Law or other regulations that prohibit the use of US aid to violate human rights.

Speak up.