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Since its inception on the tarmac facing the Maspero State Television building in Downtown Cairo, the Maspero Youth Union (MYU) has been a driving movement, organizing protests that at times have included thousands of Coptic Christians. Before its establishment three and a half years ago, there were few means for Egypt’s Copt to voice their demands, and never before had they shown strength in such large numbers. This has not been without incident – a march on October 9th, 2011 was met with violent repression by security and during the incident more than 20 Copts lost their lives in what is known as the ‘Maspero Massacre’. Nowadays, large marches and their revolutionary spirit are a thing of the past, and many have settled for a new period of hoped-for stability.
But what does this mean for an activist group born of the revolution? Is the MYU still going strong, or have things changed? CAWU Intern, René Witteveen sat down with Mina Magdy, the MYU’s General Coordinator, and Beshoy Tamri, head of Political Communications, to talk about the Maspero Youth Union anno 2014.
The relationship between expatriates living in Egypt and Ramadan can be a love-hate relationship. Some might argue that Ramadan is the ‘most unproductive month of the year’. People work less hours and businesses can get a bit slow. On the other hand, however, very few can deny the level of contagiousness of spirituality in Ramadan. Thousands upon thousands flood the streets and mosques, praying for God’s mercy and blessings. One can hear the Qur’an at every corner of the country and solidarity and compassion between people is unmatched in any other time of the year.
The month of July is to be the month of Ramadan this year. At the time of writing this article, it was expected that the beginning of Ramadan will be the 29th of June, this is a presumption based on astrological knowledge. The real beginning will be announced in every country by the “ro’ya”, i.e. to look and see if the new moon is visible or not. The period of the moon defines the beginning of every month and so the year of the Western calendar includes 10 days more than the Islamic calendar. For this reason, Ramadan begins each year, 10 days before last years Ramadan and the feast at the end of the month, the “eid al fitr” will start on the 28th or 29th July.
This summer will mark my third Ramadan spent in Egypt since I began traveling to the country in January 2011. My first experience of an Egyptian Ramadan in the summer of 2011 remains particularly memorable, both as a cultural and personal experience.
As a student who signed up to study Arabic in the autumn of 2010, I looked forward to the third year of my degree (abroad in an Arabic-speaking country) with a lot of excitement – there were so many options to choose from. I had organised a three-month teaching placement in Muscat, Oman to begin in January. I flew out on the 14th January, 2011, – the same day Tunisian president, Zine Ben Ali was deposed. Those first three months became the Arab Spring, and as protests continued, in some cases toppling governments, I contemplated a year in an Arab world much changed from the one I had expected.
It is, unfortunately, not uncommon for people to make efforts to discredit their opponents with distortions and lies. It becomes even more questionable if people who make false claims want to remain anonymous. The author must be someone who knows several things about me. That makes an anonymous response even more cowardly. Only in February this year I was alerted that I was attacked on the website www.mobtada.com. I responded in a letter on February 8 (see below). I had expected that the author of the attack on me would respond but he preferred not to and remains anonymous. This is of course very weak.
The Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazine initially wanted to interview a Catholic Christian family in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Minia about their preparations for Christmas in November 2013. Tensions were still running deep in Egypt after extremists had destroyed tens of churches in Egypt, including many in Minia. The Catholic Bishop of Minia, however, agreed to help find a family. A family was identified, but shortly before journalist Michael Obert and photographer Andy Spyra came to Egypt, the family decided to cancel any meeting for fear of rumors that could follow the visit of foreigners to their area. Their fear was certainly justified. Rumors, deliberately created or not, can cause a lot of harm.
In its dispatch no. 5657 MEMRI focuses on the mutual accusations between supporters of the current regime and the Muslim Brotherhood. “Each camp accuses members of the other camp of being Jewish and of implementing the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” The MEMRI report is full of examples from both camps with photos and cartoons.
The claims and articles are part of the de-legitimization campaign in which both camps are involved. It is sad that both camps are engaging in such outrageous campaigns, but the value of this should not be overstated.
Raymond Ibrahim, author of “Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War on Christians,” is blatantly anti-Muslim in his writings. He is doing ‘well’ in creating fear for Muslims.
Ibrahim interprets all violence of Muslims against Christians as something that is motivated through Islam as religion. The problem is in his generalizations. It is simply not true that all violence of Muslims against non-Muslims has a religious motivation but each time Ibrahim finds such violence he claims it to be motivated by Islam, while I have found through my work for Arab-West Report that violence is often related to many other factors such as the weak rule of law in Egypt.
On Friday, November 29, an article appeared in al-Fath, an independent Salafī newspaper, written by reporters Tāriq Bahgat and Walīd Mansūr.  The article reports on the discussion that took place between Bishop Bola, the representative of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the Constituent Assembly, and Al-Azhar scholars about the articles relating to Al-Azhar in the Constitution as well as the so-called “identity articles”, which pertain to the interpretation of Islamic sharī’ah in the new constitution and the role of Al-Azhar. Whereas the Nūr Party representatives sought to impose a stricter interpretation of shar’īah and include it in the draft together with a stronger role for Al-Azhar, the representatives of the Churches refused that.  The discussion escalated to the point that Bishop Bola threatened to withdraw from the Constituent Assembly.  The article expresses polemic views against Bishop Bola and against the Church’s position of the aforementioned articles.
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Al-Rawdal al-Haditha private school in 6 of October City in Giza governorate is segregating Christian and Muslim students, said Rev. Refaat Fikri, pastor of the Evangelical Church in Shubra and chairman of the Evangelical Church Information and Publishing Committee.
Security forces in Minya arrested Tuesday a new defendant among other suspects of breaking into and bombing the Evangelical Church in Mallawi, southern Minya (Upper Egypt).
Coptic Solidarity released a statement on Tuesday condemning The Working Group on Egypt’s letter to President Obama.
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