History will always remember policemen’s role in keeping the peace and security, and protecting human rights.” This is one of the statements Al-Sisi made in his 30-minute police-glorifying speech during the celebration of Police Day which coincides with the 25 January 2011 Revolution. This is not a coincidence of course; as everyone knows, people initially rose against continuous police brutality under a dictatorship characterised by being a police state, where police has complete impunity and absolute authority over the people of Egypt.
Prophet Muhammad has been one of the top defenders of the freedom of speech, and from there we go. Is it worth it to take to the streets to fight a deep European behaviour, or to dig deeply in the European values and try to perceive and influence it? I argue that Charlie Hebdo is a side war, besides the current despotism taking over the Arab world.
The homeland, today, is not Egypt. The homeland is the place where you can close the door on yourself and your spouse and children, safe and reassured that nobody will raid your house to humiliate you in front of your family and rob you of your dignity without any legal or moral justification, and without the slightest hope of prosecution, just because of the ideas in your head, or words written here and there. If you even think of prosecuting whoever did this, be prepared for a wave of revenge that could end up with you killed or imprisoned, and the destruction of your life as well as the lives of those around you.
There is a war, or rather wars, taking place in the Middle East between political Islam and ruling regimes, and most observers note that on one side of these wars stands a group of states and governments while the other includes religious, extremist, and militant groups and organisations. The current scene may bring to mind the era of the sixties in Latin America and perhaps even East Asia, when a number of states and governments loyal to the United States in Latin and South America entered into various wars against leftist groups and organisations at the time.
As the world is reacting with justified condemnation to the tragic events in Paris, the same condemnation should be extended to industrialised countries that have resorted to violence and torture in their recent history. In addition, those countries not only have used these techniques themselves but have exported them to other countries.
I had the opportunity of being present for the Christmas Coptic mass at the Abbasiya Cathedral last Tuesday and witness the president’s surprise and historical visit, the first of its kind, and the significance of which will be remembered for years to come.
While the world has generally seen success with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – half the proportion of hunger and poverty, get all kids into school and drastically reduce child mortality – drawn up nearly 15 years ago, not all promises will be achieved.
Iraq is facing a “double shock” from the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) insurgency and the global plunge in oil prices. While the new government led by Prime Minister Haidar Al- Abadi was formed with the express objective of dealing with the insurgency and addressing the humanitarian disaster it has caused, it is now facing another threat, this time of an economic nature, which brings into sharp focus the underlying vulnerabilities inherent in the country’s heavy reliance on oil. A recent IMF mission discussed these challenges with Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari and Deputy Central Bank Governor Zuhair Ali Akbar and their staff.
Just like Al-Qaeda’s audacious attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington on 11 September 2001, the raid by suspected jihadist militants in Paris on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo will have far-reaching repercussions on multiculturalism. The pursuit of multiculturalism was an attempt by European nations to adjust to the fact that they had become immigrant societies.
From a Western perspective, one can see why it is convenient to propagate the Charlie Hebdo massacre as a direct attack on their way of life, on the values they perceive their societies to have been built on, and how global jihadism is a real – nay – the only threat the modern world currently faces. Commence operations ‘tighten borders’, ‘alienate immigrants’, right-wing politicians: politicise the massacre; simultaneously. A pattern that has become so predictable since 9/11, yet the realisation that this is essentially not decreasing terrorist threats has not yet dawned.
“People talk about human rights, but what about God’s rights?” said Pope Tawadros in his sermon on the eve of Coptic Christmas on 6 January. These words, and most others in the same sermon rang hollow, as I recalled the opening lines of chapter thirteen in the book of Corinthians: “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's president opened the new year with a dramatic call for a "revolution" in Islam to reform interpretations of the faith entrenched for hundreds of years, which he said have made the Muslim world a source of "destruction" and pitted it against the rest of the world.
There is a way to make the poor of this world $500bn better off, but this solution is rarely discussed. This matters, because the international community is gearing up to produce the next set of development goals for 2015-2030, to follow on from the Millennium Development Goals. $2.5tr in development aid, plus unknown trillions from national budgets, hangs in the balance of these goals so getting our priorities right is vital. Spending money on poor targets is possibly a wasted opportunity to do much more good elsewhere.
On Saturday 15 November, a court of law should pass its verdict, at the elementary level, on a lawsuit filed by three lawyers who demand to have the Salafist Al-Nour Party dissolved for allegedly violating the constitution.
The premise of the lawsuit is that the party, which was established as a the political arm of a broad base of the Salafists in the post 25 January political phase, is violating the constitution approved in January of this year which bans the license of any party that has a religious base.
Freedom is, and will continue to be, the most important attribute not only of genuinely democratic nations, but also of a people’s development and progress. Freedom is a gift from God that people can enjoy without burdening their respective governments. Yet autocratic rulers, who usually believe that they are right, are unable to tolerate second opinions and hate to listen to citizens who differ with them. They simply want to hear people praise their ideas, and they do their utmost to marginalise whoever differs with them.
On a recent morning I interviewed a homeless woman in Ramses, Cairo and then asked her if I could photograph her. She agreed and began to pose for me.
In a press interview last Thursday December 25th with a group of parliamentary reporters, the minister of transitional justice said that the new draft investment law would be put to businessmen and investors this week so the bill could be finished by January 15 and issued prior to the economic conference due to take place next March. Nothing surprising so far. In fact, the minister was eager to apprise the public of government efforts to improve the investment climate and ensure the success of the economic conference. The surprise came when he reportedly attributed this rush to “the eagerness to complete this draft law at the current time, before it is tugged to the left or right by political wrangling in the new parliament.”
If your wishes for 2014, in Egypt, included respect of human rights, a civil state and respectable judiciary, the year was an efficient delivery system of pain. The stark reality that this dark turn in history delivered, to analysts and dissidents alike: the majority of Egyptians prefer to exalt in Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s iron-fisted glory. This ‘fist’ has seen Egypt arrest over 10,000 Egyptians this year alone, including hundreds of minors. When Mubarak was, recently, found innocent of charges of killing protesters, in yet another dark twist, two more protesters were killed while protesting the verdict. The 25 January Revolution seems an increasingly hazy historical relic in an era of extreme political dichotomies. Such is a refusal that any narrative outside the government line exists that, two weeks ago, a man was arrested for possession of magic markers in the bathroom of a mosque: accused of writing anti-regime messages . The world stands idly by, for various reasons, and watches the ‘Sisification’ of Egypt in 2014.
Egyptian recognition of China in 1956, entailing a challenge to the West on Taiwan, viewing it as a Chinese province, was one of the reasons behind the criminal colonial attack on Egypt by France, Britain and Israel the same year. Egypt was akin to an ambassador for China, gathering recognitions from various African and Arab states that Egypt had helped gain independence. In return, China was a supporter and champion of all just Egyptian and Arab causes on the world stage through direct relations.
As the United Nations is currently debating how to allocate about $2.5tr in development aid for the 2015-2030 period, education will most likely gain prominence. But do we fund early education or secondary school? In a paper commissioned by the Copenhagen Consensus Center, Economist George Psacharopoulos says the priority should be increasing the number of pre-schooled children in sub-Saharan Africa.
Revenge attacks on Muslim places of worship have begun in France following yesterday's massacre at the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.