Arab-West Report organized for the University of Vienna, Austria, a visit to see Egypt in transition. The program was very varied and well organized. The group was very enthousiastic. Egyptians were very hospitable and Egypt was not dangerous for foreign visitors unlike the impression one would get from Western media reports.
Following my lecture at Vienna University and Pro-Oriente in Vienna, June 20-23, 2011 we received the attached excellent recommendation for our work which, we hope, will result in a closer cooperation between our Egyptian NGO, Center for Arab-West Understanding (CAWU) and the University of Vienna. My lecture also resulted in a visit of an Austrian university delegation to Egypt that had the following purpose: Understanding place of Christians in a Muslim society, study possibilities for relations between University of Vienna and Egyptian institutions for the sake of advancing intercultural dialogue. The text of my lecture for the European Parliament on May 8 served as reading advice, click here.
The verdict passed by al-Minya Criminal Court on May 21 convicting 12 Copts and sentencing them to life imprisonment while acquitting eight accused Muslims in the same case, known as the Abū Qurqās sedition case, has caused widespread anger among the Copts. Arab-West Report asked intern Cassie Balfour to research the background of the arrest of 20 persons from Abū Qurqās, around 270 km south of Cairo, in beginning in April 2011 and the following verdict on May 21. It soon turned out that this could not be done with a simple internet search with (telephone) interviews, but that it was needed for an Arabic speaking person to investigate on location. Arab-West Report asked me to do so, not only because I know Arabic, but I also have friends in Abū Qurqās who were willing to help me understand what happened in this Upper Egyptian town.
[Editor: This is a report of a meeting between a delegation of the University of Vienna, Austria, and Dr.’Amr As’ad, former board member of the Center for Arab-West Understanding on May 25, thus before the second round of the elections. Yet, ‘Amr’s remarks are nevertheless still very interesting to read.]
A press release of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights Organizations claimed on September 27 2011 that between February and September 2011 100,000 Christians had left Egypt in fear for violence and uncertainty. The claims of EUHRO were accepted in English language media without much questioning while Egyptian spokesmen and newspapers were more critical of the migration figures as presented by EUHRO. Jaco Stoop provides an overview.
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]
A number of websites and blogs have carried news of ‘crucifixions’ which are alleged to have taken place in Egypt on August 8, 2012. The event was appended onto a well established incident on the same day in which liberal members of the media were assaulted at the studios of Media Production City near the Cairo satellite developments of October 6 City. Those assaulted accused Muslim Brotherhood supporters of the attack and vandalism against their vehicles.
The Egyptian popular newspaper al-Fajr published the text of a leaflet calling to kill Christians, increasing fear among Christians in Egypt. Jihad Watch distributed news about this to a wide western audience, deeply increasing Western concerns for Christians in Egypt. Muhammad Habīb, former Deputy Guide for the Muslim Brotherhood Group (MB) denounces this call while AWR’s Editor-in-Chief Cornelis Hulsman doubts the leaflet exists or is distributed on a large scale but suspects al-Fajr wants to create tensions to incite a wider public in and outside Egypt against the Muslim Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party.
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.
(Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday threw his weight behind a presidential bid by Egyptian Army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, voicing hope that ties would strengthen after the election.
Russia is looking to take advantage of strains between Cairo and Washington, which has withheld some of its annual aid to Egypt after Sisi ousted Egypt's first democratically elected president Islamist leader Mohamed Mursi last year.
Sisi, 59, has been urged to run by members of the public who reject the Islamist government he toppled, and by members of the armed forces who want a president who can face down growing political violence. Earlier this month, a Kuwaiti newspaper quoted him as saying he would run in an election expected to be held in April.
The fall of the Mubarak regime in February 2011 unleashed a monumental and contagious wave of optimism. Images of Christians and Muslims holding hands in Tahrir Square were broadcast around the world and gave credence to the narrative that a new more liberal and democratic Egypt was being born. The truth was entirely different.
Copts were never enthusiastic about the revolution. Perhaps it was the wisdom of centuries of persecution that taught minorities the eternal lesson of survival: that the persecuting dictator was always preferable to the mob. The ruler, after all, could be bought off or persuaded to back off, or constrained by foreign powers, but with the mob, you stood no chance. Some of the Coptic youth were lured by the promise of a liberal Egypt in which their plight might finally come to an end, but the older generation knew better. The promises of January 2011 soon gave way to the reality of May, when the churches of Imbaba were attacked, and October, the time of the Maspero massacre. The complete collapse of the police and the state’s repression apparatus liberated Islamists from any constraints. On the national level, Islamists soon swept elections and dominated the political sphere, and on the local level, Islamists, much more emboldened by the rise of their brethren nationally and the collapse of the police were asserting their power on Egyptian streets and villages and enforcing their views. While their leaders such as the Muslim Brotherhood’s Deputy General Guide, Khairat El Shater, were proclaiming their goal of the “Islamization of life,” local Islamists were making that goal a reality on the ground.
Before the 2012 Egyptian presidential elections, dozens of Muslim Brotherhood members were dispatched to the US and Europe. They presented a picture that interlocutors could identify with. They were young, western-educated and articulate. They depicted the Brotherhood as the sole organized political force that would represent the majority in Egypt. They spoke of democracy, a free market economy and the preservation of rights of women and Copts.
Mohamed Morsi’s one year tenure however, turned all Brotherhood assertions to a lie. Within a few months, Mr. Morsi proceeded to put himself above the law, surrounded himself solely with Brotherhood cronies, and drove the economy into the ground. The tens of millions who poured out on the streets on June 30 asking for his removal also put to rest the common wisdom that the Brotherhood was an uncontestable force.
By DINA KHAYAT