Egypt’s Christians deserve a democratic future too

A new Egyptian government must work for the good of all its citizens, regardless of their religion,

write George Grant and Fleur Brading.

Egypt’s Christians deserve a democratic future too; Egyptian Coptic Christians take to the streets in protest May, 2011; EPA

Egyptian Coptic Christians take to the streets in protest in May, 2011 Photo: EPA

Over the weekend, the Muslim Brotherhood’s new party, Freedom and Justice, took 36.6 per cent of the vote in Egypt’s first round of parliamentary elections. Al-Nour, a more radical Islamist party came second with 24 per cent. The outcome of the elections thus looks set: Islamists will hold the controlling power in any new and democratic Egypt.

Arabs need a revolution in thought, not politics

The Arab mentality prevents real progress from taking place in a region starving for reform

Egyptians vote in elections
Photo by: Reuters

Since September 11, 2001, most western intellectuals and political leaders have advocated that democracy represents the best solution for the problems brought upon by the Arab world, particularly radical Islam.

Unfortunately, democracy in Iraq has not proved to be an astonishing success, and has resulted in discrimination against the Christian minority within the country. In the same vein, democracy in Gaza resulted in Hamas being elected to power. The Arab Spring is likely to continue empowering Islamist movements that will end any hope for modernity within the Arab world.

The Economist 

Egypt’s election

Islamists of every stripe to the fore

Preliminary results of Egypt’s strung-out parliamentary elections suggest that Islamists will be easily the largest and most potent political force

 

 

IF THE results of the first batch of Egypt’s elections are replicated across the country, the Islamists will emerge as a lot more powerful than most analysts predicted. In a string of villages and cities, including Cairo, Alexandria and Port Said, the Muslim Brothers seem to have scored between 30% and 40%, which would earn them at least 40% of seats in the People’s Assembly, the legislature’s lower house. Even more strikingly, the Salafists, who espouse a more extreme and puritanical Islamist ideology, have far exceeded expectations, in some places getting a good 20% of the vote. So the combined tally looks set to give assorted Islamists a straight majority of seats in the assembly. A new political dynamic is in the offing.

 

Arab Spring? This is turning into the winter of Islamic jihad

By John Bradley

The Arab Spring is rapidly turning into a winter of chaos and oppression.

Fighting back: A masked protester carries a tear gas canister back towards Egyptian troops. Demonstrators continued their standoff with troops and police today  

As protests grip the Egyptian capital of Cairo, and Islamic fundamentalists gain in confidence there and elsewhere across the region, the hopes of Western leaders for a new era of democracy across the Middle East have been exposed as hopelessly naïve.

For far from paving the way for freedom and pluralism, the uprisings have led only to more intolerance, authoritarianism and division.

 

Will Egypt become the next Pakistan?

posted by Rob Kerby, Senior Editor

by Sherif Meleka

A few days ago, I was watching a popular Egyptian talk show, Fil Midan, or “In the Square.” It had a very interesting guest, a leader of a salafi Islamic political faction. He maintained a pleasantly tranquil smile and a relaxed appearance throughout the program, wearing his typically Pakistani outerwear and hat.

The host, Amr Al-Leithy, was pretending to be eager to corner him, asking tough questions, but it was obvious to me as time went on, that he was not serious about laying a glove on him. It was pretentious.

Egypt – a new dawn or a sunset on religious freedom?

Ed Jacobs 

 

The downfall of Hosni Mubarak as President of Egypt was, at the time, seen as pivotal moment, thought by many of the protestors who rejoiced at his ejection from power as the birth of a free and democratic nation.

Fast-forward to today and the violence witnessed on the streets of Cairo serves as a vivid warning to the Middle East that for all the sense of change and optimism, whatever replaces the regimes seemingly toppling like dominoes across the region are anything other than the tolerant democracies being called for.

Egypt-Cairo-Tahrir-Square-riots
No more can this been seen than in the treatment since Mubarak’s exit of Christians across Egypt under the military junta that now rules the country, reported at length by the media across the world.

In an article detailing the plight of those Coptic Christians standing in Egypt’s forthcoming Parliamentary elections, the Jerusalem post outlines the tensions that now arise between Islamist parties on the one hand and those who genuinely seek a new dawn of religious freedom and tolerance.

world 

Unholy Alliance: Egypt's Military & The Muslim Brotherhood

Amb. Marc Ginsberg

Despite protestations of its purported political neutrality Egypt's besieged military leadership has been secretly funneling financial, food, and security support to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and its allied Salafist parties in the run up to next week's parliamentary elections.

The assistance takes the form of "walk around" money, clothing and food giveaways secretly funneled to the coffers of the Brotherhood's front party -- the Freedom and Justice Party, the Construction and Development Party, as well as to allied Salafist Parties, including Al Nour, Al-Asalah, Al-Fadilah, Al Islah and others -- in a bid to buy votes and provide Islamist parties a military supported upper hand in the upcoming parliamentary elections..

 

The Old Order Stifles the Birth of a New Egypt

Aladin Abdel Naby/Reuters

With the fall of Hosni Mubarak, center, a military council led by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, left, has run Egypt.

“This is the real revolution,” said Mohammed Aitman, helping at a first-aid clinic in a turbulent, roiling and, at times, ecstatic Tahrir Square.

The vestiges of Mr. Mubarak’s order — the military, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists, or fragmented liberals and leftists — seem ill prepared to navigate the transition from his rule. It is an altogether more difficult reckoning that has echoed in the Arab revolts in Syria, Libya, Yemen and Bahrain.

 

The Copts and the Arab Spring

When Egypt’s Anwar Sadat made his historic visit to Jerusalem 34 years ago, I was one of the reporters chosen to meet him along his personal via dolorosa in the Old City. My station was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and I was told that I would be allowed only one question.

I waited in the gloom of that venerable space until, suddenly, Sadat stood before me.

 

UK Muslims: New Names, Old Groups

"Transforming Muslim Communities into Islamic Emirates"

by Soeren Kern 

The British government has banned "Muslims Against Crusades" (MAC), an Islamic extremist group that recently launched a campaign to turn twelve British cities – including what it referred to as "Londonistan" – into independent Islamic states.

British Home Secretary Theresa May signed an order on November 9 that makes membership or support of MAC – which is closely linked to seven other previously-banned groups – a criminal offense.

 

Where is the support for Egypt’s Copts?

Written by Jack Chivo  

VANCOUVER – News reports about continuing attacks on Coptic Christians in Egypt are disturbing, yet aside from under-reported rallies by Copts in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, there appear to have been no supporting protests from ‘human rights’ organizations or churches anywhere, and the media appear uninterested.

Indeed, over the past several weeks, there has been more media coverage of the ‘Occupy’ movement in North America and the trial of Michael Jackson’s physician, than of the fate of about 10 million Christians in Egypt. The Copts, whose presence in Egypt predates that of its Arab Muslim population, have been treated as second-class citizens and subjected to repeated murderous attacks, humiliation and degradation at the hands of the Muslim majority.

 

Muslim Brotherhood: Only "Drunks, Druggies and Adulterers" Reject Sharia

by Raymond Ibrahim

 

Essam el-Erian: "No one dares oppose the application of Sharia law."

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood just made a few assertions that have ruffled the nation's secular and Christian populace.

At a conference attended by some 5,000, Senior Muslim Brotherhood leader, Dr. Essam el-Erian, Vice President of the "Freedom and Justice" party, the Brotherhood's political wing, declared that "No one in Egypt—not a Copt, a liberal, a leftist, no one—dares say they are against Islam and the application of Sharia: all say they want the Islamic Sharia [applied]. And when referendum time comes, whoever says 'we do not want Sharia' will expose their hidden intentions."

He went on to threaten Egypt's Supreme Council of Armed Forces with "massacres" if it interfered in politics and Islam's role in the constitution and addressed the nation's Coptic Christians as follows: "You will never find a strong fortress for your faith and rights except in Islam and Sharia," adding, "Our Lord has commanded us to be just, and we have learned it from Islam. We do not wish to hurt anyone…"

More to the point, his Brotherhood colleague, Sheikh Sayyid Abdul Karim, asserted: "Those who do not wish to see Islam [Sharia] applied are drunks, druggies, adulterers, and brothel-owners."

While such talk is commonplace from Egypt's self-styled Salafists, it is significant that the Muslim Brotherhood, which has mastered the art of stealth, the art of appearing "moderate"—to the point that President Obama's intelligence chief described them as "largely secular"—is beginning to feel comfortable enough to let snippets of the truth come out.

Financial Times 

Islamist rivalry heats up in Egyptian election

A Salafist supporter waves an Egyptian flag in Cairo’s Tahrir Square

For decades Egyptian secularists have groused about the rise of Islamists and both have united in despising the military elite. But, after the revolution, the hottest and most novel political rivalry taking hold in the run-up to November 28 elections pits the old-school Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood against more fundamentalist Salafists and their political proxies.

You can see the rivalry at play on the streets of Alexandria, where someone has been ripping down the Muslim Brotherhood’s party posters and replacing them with advertisements for the Salafi-linked Nour party.

Kashmir Watch 

Contemporary Martyrs

Clemente Ferrer

The sectarian clashes that left 25 dead and more than 300 wounded in Cairo, Egypt, are threatening to break the fragile balance among the different Egyptian religious communities. While the Copt community cried over its dead, new clashes were errupting at the doors of the Copt Hospital in Cairo, where 17 Christian victims laid dead.


Home 

Egypt's first elections since the revolution — scheduled for November 28 — mark a key milestone in an ongoing and sometimes volatile democratization process. GlobalPost, in partnership with The Open Hands Initiative, has brought together 17 Egyptian and American journalists to cover the country's 'unfinished revolution' from the ground in Cairo.

State of fear: Egypt's Copts in peril

Crosses on the arms of Egyptian Copts

Young Egyptian Coptic men display their Christian tattoos in October 2011. These tattoos are a rite of passage within the community and the pain felt while receiving them is seen as a small taste of the pain they believe Christ endured during the crucifixion. (Lauren E. Bohn/GlobalPost) 

State of fear: Egypt's Copts in peril

The country's Christian minority losing hope of winning rights.

CAIRO — Just through the windows of a Coptic Christian hospital was a perfect portrait of Egypt’s complex religious landscape: Church spires with Coptic crosses reaching into a purple-and-pink-stained sunset were framed against the crescent of a mosque’s taller minaret from which the Islamic call to prayer carried on the hot city air. Inside the hospital's white rooms, five Copts lay recovering in white beds while families walked from doorway to doorway, talking with each other as if strolling down their neighborhood street, which wasn’t far away.

 

Cairo’s Christians worry about Egypt’s next chapter

Coptic Christians are worried about their future in the new Egypt, as I could see Thursday night at a political rally in a poor Coptic neighborhood known here as Garbage City.

Gathered in an alleyway framed by heaps of trash, and Christian symbols decorating every nearby wall, the residents heard a simple message: To protect their families, Christians must vote in the parliamentary elections that begin late this month. Otherwise, Egypt may be controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, which is mobilizing its own supporters.

“Muhammad and John need to live side by side,” admonished one of the speakers, arguing that Christians must fight for a secular state that will be moderate and tolerant. “If you don’t go vote, you have only yourself to blame for the consequences.”

"progress"—"Arab Spring" style.

Egypt: Women Herded and Tied Like Camels

by Raymond Ibrahim

 This picture, taken at a recent protest in Egypt, has been making the rounds on various Arabic websites. Note the rope around the women, herding them like camels; note the man to the right holding the leash, walking them.

This picture, taken at a recent protest in Egypt, has been making the rounds on various Arabic websites. Note the rope around the women, herding them like camels; note the man to the right holding the leash, walking them.

 

I am told this is a common "precautionary measure" to keep women from mixing with men during protests.

 

The Concept of Brotherhood in Islam

How Muslims View Each Other and How They View Non-Muslims

by Harold Rhode 

With the end of the Cold War, a new enemy emerged, Radical Islamic Fundamentalism, made up of Islamic extremists, terrorists and the states that support them. If we are to counter them at all, we must help to understand them as they understand themselves.

In their worldview, they see themselves first as Muslims; as such, they are not loyal to any geographic entity. The world, in their eyes, is roughly divided into two groups: the "Abode of Islam" [Dar al-Islam], and the "Abode of War" [Dar al-Harb] -- or the world which is not yet Muslim but eventually, they believe, should and will be. If they feel any sense of territorial loyalty, it is to the Abode of Islam, the places where Muslims live: "The "Nation of Islam" [Ummah]. In these two worlds, which do not have geographic borders, Islam is not only a religion, but the common political – almost familial -- bond that unites all Muslims.

 

Freedom still a dream for Egypt's Christians after attacks by military

NABEAL MORCOS

RITE & REASON : ON SUNDAY, October 9th, Egypt’s military government launched an attack on Egyptian Christians (Copts) and some liberal Muslims who were peacefully demonstrating. They killed 24 people and seriously injured more than 300 Christians.

More than 150,000 demonstrators were marching not far from Tahrir Square because of the burning and destruction of their third church since the recent revolution.

Al-Ahram Weekly Online

Calls for protection of Copts

Foreign attention to Coptic concerns is putting Egypt's government, and some in the Coptic community, on the defensive,

Dina Ezzat reports

Despite a statement made earlier in the week by Coptic Patriarch Pope Shenouda to shrug off a resolution that was passed Thursday by the European Parliament calling for the protection of Copts and churches in Egypt, the European Union, among other international community circles, is determined to keep a close eye on the situation of Copts in Egypt as part of a wider concern over the fate of Christians in the Middle East.

"For us, this is not a matter of intervention in the internal affairs of any particular country, but it is a matter rather of the universality of human rights and also of the fate of Christians not just in Egypt but also in other Arab countries where political Islamic groups are set to gain power," said a Brussels based European official who asked for her name to be withheld.


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