Tag Archives: Egypt

Coptic-Muslim Clash In Egypt

One of the most common myths spread by Muslims is how their religion treats those of other faiths in a fair and equal manner. Of course, historically, Christians and Jews in most Muslim societies were second class citizens and event their attire was dictated by the government. The Egyptian society includes about 10% who are Christian Coptics. The other day a quarrel between a Muslim and Coptic resulted in the death of the Muslim and the emergence of a mob which burned the homes of Coptics. Coptic Christians are hardly equal citizens in their land since they require government permission to build a church or expand existing structures. Over the past few years there have been several riots against Coptics by Muslim groups.

There are significant differences within the Muslim world in connection to how society deals with those of other faiths. Saudi Arabia is clear it does not tolerate Christians and Jews except if they agree not to openly practice their religion and abandon any thought of building religious structures. On the other hand, there is greater religious freedom in Indonesia. But, the bottom line is that to live in a Muslim society is to be bound by certain religious concepts and to accept that government reflects Muslims, not Christians.

Ball Of Peace In Arab Court!

The aftermath of President Obama’s speech has resulted in renewed discussions among various Arab groups about the necessity of coming together in a coalition for peace. Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal is now in Cairo discussing the situation with General Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman in order to find a solution to end the breach between Fatah and Hamas. An anonymous source told the Arab weekly, Al-Ahram, “the Americans– to judge not just by the Obama speech and talks in Cairo and Riyadh, but also by successive delegations to the region –seem serious about getting engaged in talks for peace. Now the Palestinians and Arabs in general have to work to make these talks possible.” Amen.

The devastating results of Ahmadinejad’s stealing of the Iranian presidency means groups like Hamas have to cease relying on Iranian assistance. For the first time in years, the United States is adopting a balanced stance between conflicting groups which requires all radical elements to unite with moderates and present Israel a united front determined to seek peace. If they allow Iran to enter the process, it will merely provide an excuse for Israel negotiators to play the Iran card and frighten the United States.

Netanyahu Argues Peace Will Destroy His Government!

President Barack Obama while in Cairo for his speech conveyed to President Mubarak that he had been told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes if he agrees to the concept of a Palestinian state and return to the 1967 boundaries, his coalition government will fall apart and he will cease being prime minister of the nation. Mubarak told Obama that he was not impressed by the comment since Netanyahu has been saying things like that for years. He formed a right wing coalition, he appointed Avigdor Lieberman as his foreign minister even though he is a virulent anti-Muslim individual. Foreign Minister Lieberman apparently was angry that the Israel Embassy in Cairo invited speakers from the Peace Now movement to discuss their ideas with Egyptian journalists.

The reality is Netanyahu had alternatives. Former Foreign Minister Lipni urged a coalition based on the idea of peace with Palestinians and recognition of the idea of a Palestinian state, but she was turned down. Prime Minister Netanyahu has to place the interests of his nation before his own selfish need to have an important role in government. He must form a new coalition government based on ideas that will lead to peace.

Egyptian Parliament Rejects Contacts With Israel

Forty years ago, the Israel government offered peace terms to Arab nations which were rejected even though what was offered then is now desired by the same Arab nations. The history of diplomacy in the Middle East is one example after another of failed opportunities on the part of Israel and Arab countries. Reuven Rivlin, speaker of the Israel Knesset invited Fathi Sorour, speaker of the Egyptian parliament to visit and discuss foreign policy issues, but the invitation was rejected. “As you know, the Egyptian parliament is against normalising relations with Israel and always takes the initiative in condemning its crimes against the Palestinians.” Yes, Israel committed a criminal action in its invasion of Gaza, but the only path to peace is talking and negotiating, not denying. Sorour’s denunciation of Israel policy toward Palestinians will win points in the Arab world, but how will it lead to peace with Israel?

Mustafa El-Feki, chairman of the People’s Assembly Foreign Relations Committee told Al-Ahram with pride about the recent verdict of the Administrative Justice Court which stripped Egyptians married to Israeli women of their nationality “as an example of rejection of any form of normalisation on a popular level.” This example only depicts the ignorance and anger of Egyptians, it does not reveal a sense of humanity toward its own citizens who are in love.

Egyptian Dissident’s Jail Sentence Over-Turned

Saad Eddin Ibrahim, an Egyptian-American has been fighting to create a democratic Egypt and in the pursuit of his dream has criticized the rule of President Hosni Mubarak. A Judge over-turned the conviction of the dissident and said the two year sentence was incorrect. Ibrahim was among the first Egyptians to publicly denounce Mubarak for stifling democracy and seeking to impose his on on the nation following his own retirement. Judge Asahraf Sheta said there was no evidence that Ibrahim had damaged the reputation of Egypt by advocating democracy in his nation. He had urged in a column in the Washington Post in 2007 that America should withhold its annual $2 billion in aid until Mubarak agreed to allow democracy in his country.

Even George Bush was upset at the conviction and urged Mubarak to void this decision, but it required a courageous judge to stand up to the Egyptian government and publicly state that Egyptians have the right to speak in negative terms about their political leaders.

Is Israel Serious About Peace?

Hassan Nafaa, writing in al-Ahram, expresses a view that is very common in the Middle East. He argues that “no Israel government now or in the forseeable future, is prepared to reach a solution to the Middle East conflict on the basis of the Arab initiative.” Nafaa argues Israel leaders believe they have the upper hand and while Israel becomes stronger, Arab nations grow weaker so why pursue the road to peace that will result in the emergence of an independent Palestinian state. He says “there is no sign that international public opinion is putting any pressure on Israel to accept the initiative.” And, to make matters worse, there is a leadership vacuum in Israel.

There is no question Nafaa builds a strong case to remain stubbornly committed to the Arab initiative to make clear to Israel they must accept their view or maintain the current status quo. He is very pessimistic about the Obama desire to force peace on the Israelis by making them compromise with Arabs. Granted the current Israel government leaves much to be desired in terms of visionaries who can look to the future and realize that Israel must compromise to survive, but Mr. Nafaa ignores new dynamics at play in the Middle East.

1. The Obama-Clinton initiative depends on a two state solution if there is to be any hope of gaining Iranian cooperation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Failure to secure a Middle East peace threatens peace possibilities in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Obama administration knows such failure could result in a Republican comeback in 2010.

2. Just about every important American Jewish organization has come out in support of a two state solution. American Jews voted overwhelmingly for Obama and know he must get a two state solution. Israel is no longer in 2007 when Bush was in power and supported any and all Israel initiatives.

3. It is simply a matter of time before Iran gets atomic weapons. If Israel has not secured peace with Palestine it creates a dangerous situation that neither the US nor the European Union will allow. They will demand Israel accept a two state solution.

Muslim Brotherhood Not Impressed With Obama

President Barack Obama will be visiting Egypt where he has promised to make an important speech addressed to the Muslim world, but the Muslim Brotherhood made clear at present it does not see evidence the American leader is any different from past presidents. Mohammed Habib, deputy leader of the MB said he was skeptical about Obama’s intentions and the trip would be “useless unless it is preceded by real change in the policies of the US administration toward the Arab and Islamic world.” The issue of Israel continues to be one that Arab leaders regard as critical if they are to accept there is real change in American Middle Eastern policy.

Habib said, “the US administration is attempting to recruit all the Arab states… to implement its permanent agenda that favors the Zionist entity.” The Brotherhood is banned in Egypt but its followers, despite difficulties imposed by the government, have gained at least 88 seats in Parliament and most probably have the support of a good percent of the Egyptian population.

Obama can make speeches addressed to the Muslim world but he will be ignored unless Israel changes its policies and agrees to the concept of a two state solution which includes an independent Palestine whose capital is in east Jerusalem. Can Obama pull it off is the question?

Blame It On The Pigs In Egypt

The swine flu epidemic has swept the world, but only one nation has decided to wipe out its entire pig population and that is the Muslim nation of Egypt. Of course, killing pigs has nothing to do with eliminating the threat of flu, but, what the heck, the only people in Egypt who are into pigs are the minority Christian population and tourists. Health authorities have made clear killing pigs will not deal with curtailing flu outbreaks but the government is going right ahead with its plans to cull the pig population. As the Minister of Agriculture made clear, “the government’s decision to get rid of all pigs is irreversible.”

Naturally, many pig owners resisted attempts to take away the pigs. Oh well, Egypt has large scale unemployment, its economy does not meet the needs of the population, but at least it has ended the danger of pigs seizing control and making pork the most desirable meal. What would happen if sheep were the animal to be feared, would the government kill off all sheep?

Egypt Faces Population Time Bomb

Many experts are predicting the Egyptian population could more than double in fifty years resulting in a population of about 160 million in 2050. President Hosni Mubarak has been warning that unchecked population increases could result in serious damage to any effort of creating a vibrant economy which offered people gainful employment. The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Mohamed Sayed Tantawi recently told newspapers the number of children parents should have depends on their ability to provide care and support for their children. “Parents should have only as many children as they can provide for.”Islam does not allow permanent methods of birth control but it does allow family planning.

In the last thirty years the population of Egypt has doubled and although the economy has been growing at a rate of seven percent, at least forty percent of the population is living below the poverty level. Minister of State for Family and Population, Mushira Khattab, insists the government can not do anything to hold back births but there must be some reduction or it will upset any plans for raising standards of living.

Reality is that religion at this point stands in the way of economic development. How to resolve this dilemma is the question.

Egypt Angry At Hamas And Hizbullah

One of the ongoing myths of discussions concerning the Middle East is belief there is such an entity as “Arabs.” Egyptian officials intensely dislike Hamas and Hizbullah which they regard as threats to the security of their nation. Cairo is still furious at Hizbullah leaders Hassan Nasrallah who urged Egyptian generals to disregard the views of President Mubarak and intervene and open crossings when Israel invaded Gaza. Authorities have arrested Hamas smugglers and shut down their escape tunnels when found because Egypt does not wish to have problems with Israel. Egypt believes Hizbullah is simply an agent of Iran which has long been regarded as threat to the security of Egypt and a rival for regional power.

Ironically, Egyptian authorities share with Israel a dislike for Hamas and annoyance that western nations are talking with Hamas leaders. Egypt needs peace and economic development because of its ever increasing number of educated people who lack jobs. An educated person is a better candidate for extremism than poor people.