48. Teaching Evangelism in Egypt

‘Should we sacrifice evangelism for coexistence, or coexistence for evangelism? This debate will concern us for the next several years.’  This quote from Rev. Andrea Zakī ended a presentation by the Evangelical Theological Seminary of Cairo.

47. Vienna Community Church founded 55 years ago by Prof. Dr. Otto Meinardus

Editor: Cornelis Hulsman was asked to write the Vienna Community Church a congratulation on the occasion of their 55th anniversary of their establishment by late AWR board of advisors member Prof. Dr. Otto Meinardus. The text below was placed on the website of the VCC, http://members.aon.at/william/template-7-single-column/Voice18July.htm

46. Mursī Reinstates Egypt’s Parliament

That was fast.

After only one week in office, President Mursī has picked his first fight – he issued a decree to reinstate the dissolved parliament.

Shortly before the run-off election the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled parliament to be unconstitutional based on procedural grounds, and the military council issued a decree to dissolve it.

Mursī, now with the executive power of the presidency, has undone the decree of the council.

52. Egypt: Christians and Muslims united in social approach

One of the members of the Austrian University delegation that visited Egypt between May 23 and June 3 was Daniel Podertschnig who, following his return to Austria reported for the Catholic News Service of Austria. Cornelis Hulsman made a summary translation of his text into English for Arab-West Report.

42. Church fights for school education and is opposed to child labor; discussing article Katholische Press Agentur Osterreich

One of the members of the Austrian University delegation that visited Egypt between May 23 and June 3 was Daniel Podertschnig who, following his return to Austria, reported for the Catholic News Service of Austria.

 

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[Diana Maher Ghali reviewed this article]

Drs. Cornelis Hulsman, General Director of the Center for Intercultural Dialogue and Arab West Report, wrote an introduction about Dr. Muhammad ‘Imārah:

He is a former leftist who turned Islamist many years ago. He is a great authority among Islamists. The figures he presents about the decline of Christianity in Europe are to a very large extent correct but he is making impossible and unfair comparisons between declining Christianity and ascending Islam in Europe.
 
The figures he presents of Christians are those who are attending church services. Those percentages are indeed small. But he compares that with total number of Muslims which is also done by many Islamophobes in the West to scare a Western public. If you want to make correct comparisons you have to compare between Muslims attending mosque prayers and Christians attending church services, or between people who are registered as Muslim and people who are registered as Christian. Just as with Christians many Muslims in the West are equally secular. The around one million Muslims in the Netherlands you need to compare with the around six million Christians who are registered as a church members in The Netherlands.

With the assassination of Ahmed Jaabari Israel has assassinated the opportunity for a long term ceasefire between Israel and Gaza

I eagerly read al-Ahrām's interview with Dr. Muhammad 'Imārah on Wednesday, November 7, 2012 entitled "National unity is our lifeline now". Some questions and answers in this interview whetted my curiosity.

Dr. Khālid al-Sa'īd, spokesperson of the salafī front, denounced accusing salafists of storming a Church-owned land affiliated to the Shubrā al-Khaymah Archdiocese and calling to perform prayer in it. He was surprised from circulating these false news, according to him. While Dr. 'Isām Dirbālah, member of al-Jamā'ah al-Islāmīyah's Shūrá Council, said that the land in Shubrā is owned by a Christian who wants to build an Archdiocese without a permit. He said that al-Jamā'ah al-Islāmīyah supports the rights of non-Muslims to practice their religious rituals but legally and that is applied on all Egyptians, whether it is building a church or mosque. He added that if someone breaks the law then the state should penalize that person not individuals. (John 'Abd al-Malāk, Nuhá Lamlūm and Mahmūd Gharīb, al-Misrīyūn, November 7, 2012, p. 4)

There has been widespread condemnation of a fatwá issued by an Azhar Shaykh Hāshim Islām in which he condoned violence against those who are set to protest against the Muslim Brotherhood on August 24, 2012. Islām reasoned that “the 24 August protests are a revolution by ratters against democracy and freedom." [Update: Al-Azhar cleric encourages fighting demonstrators, sparks controversy, Author not mentioned, Egypt Independent, August 15, 2012]

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Newsclippings from International Sources

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THE FALL of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 may have been widely welcomed in the West, but Egypt’s neighbour, Israel, was full of trepidation over what would follow.

Fears that the 34-year-old peace between the two countries was in jeopardy intensified when the Egyptian presidential elections of 2012 brought the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohamed Morsi, to power.

The denial of Israel’s right to exist had been central to the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood as an opposition group. It viewed Palestine as sacred Islamic territory that should be liberated through ‘holy war’ (jihad).

But divisions within the movement regarding Israel emerged in 2007 when the Muslim Brotherhood debated its official policy platform.

Mr Morsi sided with the hardline view, led by the Brotherhood’s former spiritual leader, Mohamed Mahdi Akef and the current spiritual leader, Dr Mohamed Badie.

Mr Akef was quoted as saying ‘in our lexicon, there is no such thing as Israel. We recognise the Zionist gangs that occupied an Arab land and expelled its inhabitants. If they want to live amongst us, this should be within Palestine. But if they want a state [of their own], then we must object.’

But a second camp, which included Dr Essam al-Aryan, a senior official in the movement, said it was willing to recognise Israel implicitly, if not explicitly.

Dr Aryan said that the Muslim Brotherhood, once in power, would recognise and respect agreements with Israel.

But he made a distinction between the movement’s position, which considers Israel as an illegitimate entity, and the party’s position, which would deal with Israel pragmatically in line with political reality.

The official platform, which was finally adopted, referred to Israel as ‘the Zionist entity’, and defined it as an aggressive, racist and expansive entity.

The platform also made it clear, however, that the party would honour and respect international agreements signed by Egypt.

This became Mr Morsi’s policy on Israel during his presidential campaign.

The party’s platform also said that all efforts should be exerted to solve the Palestinian problem.

Since his election President Morsi has adopted a pragmatic policy and has considerably toned down his anti-Israeli rhetoric.

He has not yet made any negative statements denying Israel’s existence or repudiating the 34-year-old peace treaty, and has reiterated Egypt’s commitment to honour its international agreements several times.

Egypt did not sever its diplomatic relations with Israel during the eight-day military operation in Gaza, termed Pillar of Defence, in November 2012, despite repeated calls from the public and some Muslim Brotherhood members to do so.

Mr Morsi only recalled his ambassador from Tel Aviv to express his concern over the military operation and to show solidarity with the Palestinians.

Mr Morsi also opened the Rafah Crossing, the only route into the Gaza Strip from Egypt which bypasses Israel. But while it did break the siege and allowed goods to pass through, President Morsi only extended the hours it was open for injuries and humanitarian aid.

Egypt has played a decisive role in contacts behind the scenes between Israel and Hamas for a ceasefire.

But while there have been no significant moves against Israel, the Muslim Brotherhood’s anti-Zionist and somewhat anti-Semitic rhetoric is still widespread on its internet site and in the preaching of its leader, Dr Mohamed Badie.

Dr Badie repeats his opposition to the peace treaty and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, including the two-state solution. He still promotes jihad and resistance to Israel.

President Morsi’s pragmatism towards Israel is the result of a realistic assessment of Egypt’s place in the region and the international arena.

His first priority is to stabilise the Egyptian economy. Mr Morsi cannot antagonise the West in general and the US in particular by adopting an anti-Israeli position.

History shows that parties and organisations tend to become more moderate when in power, because they have to deal with reality in a pragmatic way. It remains to be seen whether the Brotherhood will go through the same process.

But the mere preservation of the peace treaty, however cold, transmits a message throughout the Arab world that an Islamic regime and peace with Israel is not impossible.

 

Additional words by Limor Lavi, Head of the Egypt desk at the Middle East Media Research Institute.

Election of first female as head of political party in Egypt brings flicker of hope for women across country.

CAIRO – The election of the first female as a head of a political party in Egypt brought a flicker of hope for women across the country on Friday.

Hala Shukrallah won the liberal Constitution Party's elections on Friday to succeed Mohamed ElBaradei as the party's president.

Shukrallah won 108 out of 189 votes to become the first woman and Copt to head an Egyptian political party.

Hala Shukrallah was born in 1954. She is the director of the Development Support Centre for consultancy and training, a consultancy firm providing support and assistance to civil society organisations.

Shukrallah's opponents, former TV host Gamila Ismail and physician Hossam Abdel-Ghafar - both also founding members - won 57 and 23 votes respectively. Two votes were spoilt.

ElBaradei resigned as party head when he was appointed vice president following the ouster of Mohamed Morsi on 3 July. He resigned this post to register his objection to the violent dispersal of the pro-Morsi Rabaa Al-Adawiya protest camp which left hundreds dead.

ElBaradei posted on Twitter on Friday, encouraging the youth and calling on them to stay united against "ignorance, extremism and oppression.”

Party member Sayed Kassem has been acting as interim head since July.

The party has seen public divisions and mass resignations since its founding head resigned.

Many members resigned as the party came under fire for El-Baradei's opposition to the dispersal of Rabaa.

Another major dispute was over the appointment, rather than election, of the party's current senior leaders.

The party attracted support of a number of young revolutionaries when it was founded by ElBaradei in 2011 after the revolution

 

(Author not mentioned, Middle East Online, Feb. 22, 2014) Read Original

By: Shadi Hamid and Avi Asher-Schapiro

Editors Note: In an interview with Avi Asher-Schapiro of CNN's Global Public Square blog, Brookings Fellow Shadi Hamid offers his take on what to look out for in Egypt's future three years since Hosni Mubarak resigned as president. Hamid responds to questions about the participation of Field Marshall El-Sisi in upcoming elections, the prospect of military government, the fate of the Muslim Brotherhood, economic development and U.S. policy objectives in Egypt.

Avi Asher-Schapiro: What do you make of the current political climate in Egypt? Are we in the midst of a democratic transition or witnessing the return of authoritarianism?

Shadi Hamid: You have to be patient with democratic transitions in general. The problem in Egypt is that there is no democratic transition at all. So there’s really nothing to be patient for. If you believe that autocracies like the current military backed government in Egypt are by their very nature not permanent, then yes Egypt will eventually get better. But there’s no real reason for optimism at this moment; I don’t think patience is much in order.

So we have to start asking: how bad can things really get in the short term? How long can a military regime in Egypt last? And how ugly will its removal or fall be?

Asher-Schapiro: Was the optimism that surrounded the overthrow of Mubarak misplaced?

Hamid: Three years ago, many Egyptian were understandably optimistic about their political future. In retrospect too optimistic, but they had good reasons to be that way. It was going to be difficult and messy, but the basic trajectory was in a positive direction. But once the military coup took place over the summer [when the military deposed Muslim Brotherhood elected President Mohammad Morsy] it was inevitable that you would see the subsequent events: mass killings and repression.

Asher-Schapiro: What do you make of the head of the Egyptian armed forces Field Marshall Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi? Many are predicting he will run for President of Egypt. What’s your take?

Hamid: El-Sisi has no choice but to run now. He will face a public backlash if he chooses not to. There’s so much desire for a strongman figure, for him not to run would undermine his popularity and long-term credibility. This, of course, is the danger with populist sentiment.

El-Sisi himself is responsible for drumming up a frenzy of popular support and he actively pushed and encouraged the myth-making. He created his own monster. The problem when you play with public sentiment is: what happens when you lose control?

But really his candidacy is inevitable and there are no civilian alternatives who people are excited about.

 

(Shadi Hamid, Brookings Institution, Feb. 20, 2014) Read Original

The Foreign Office said British nationals should avoid "all but essential travel" to the region.

An Egyptian bus driver and three South Korean tourists were killed when a tourist bus was attacked in Taba, South Sinai, on Sunday. Advice for other parts of Egypt - which includes warnings against visiting several areas - remains unchanged. Britons are now advised to avoid all but essential travel to the governorates of Beni Suef, Minya, Asyut, Sohag, North Sinai and South Sinai. "We believe there is a high threat from terrorism and terrorists continue to plan attacks," the Foreign Office said in a statement. "Attacks could be indiscriminate and occur without prior warning."

Tourists are also advised to "take great care" near buildings belonging to the government or security forces, which have been targeted repeatedly by Islamist militants since the military ousted President Mohammed Morsi in July.The warning against travelling to South Sinai excludes "the area within the Sharm el-Sheikh perimeter barrier", which includes the airport and the areas of Sharm el-Maya, Hadaba, Naama Bay, Sharks Bay and Nabq."Enhanced security measures are in place to protect the Sharm el-Sheikh resort areas," the Foreign Office said.

(Author not mentioned, BBC News, Feb. 19, 2014) Read Original

On the same day their accused killer appeared in court on a shooting and robbery charge, the bodies of two Jersey City men were shipped home to Egypt yesterday via Egypt Air.

A funeral service for Hanny F. Tawadros, 25, and Amgad A. Konds, 27, was held at noon Wednesday at St. George & St. Shenouda Coptic Orthodox Church on Bergen Avenue in Jersey City. Their remains departed from Kennedy Airport in New York yesterday and were flown to Cairo, Egypt.

Authorities say Yusuf Ibrahim, also of Jersey City, shot them dead in Jersey City, cut off their heads and hands, and buried them in two separate shallow graves behind an Atlantic County home.

St. George and St. Shenouda Pastor Rev. David Bebawy said the men attended services at the church, but he did not know for how long or how often. Bebawy said as far as he knew, the men had no family members in the United States.

The victims’ bodies were received by Michalski Funeral Home in Downtown Jersey City on Sunday and the funeral was arranged by and paid for by the church in Journal Square.

Ibrahim, 27, is being held on a $3.3 million cash only bail and is charged with shooting the men in their chests in Jersey City last week during a dispute in a white Mercedes Benz belonging to one of the victims. Ibrahim was arrested in Bayonne on Sunday, officials said.

Ibrahim made his first court appearance Thursday on two counts of murder. Yesterday, the court was cleared due to security concerns and Ibrahim was handcuffed and his feet were shackled when he was returned to CJP to make his first appearance on an outstanding armed robbery warrant.

The victim of the Sept. 20 robbery at Yale and Mallory avenues in Jersey City was struck in the head with a handgun and shot in the left foot.

New Jersey State Police are conducting the investigation into the murders and have released no information on a possible motive, and few details on the investigation and allegations.