In a country that has become infatuated with political talk, the lack of sustainable political actions never ceases to amaze me. Despite their instantaneous impact, several movements that have surfaced on the Egyptian political scene in the past 10 years never took off or accomplished the form of continuity which brings about significant structural change. Here is a look at some of these change agents and how they fared.
More than 200 years ago, Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States, said: “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
A picture of a wedding, where the bridesmaids are all wearing army fatigues, appears on your timeline. Another picture of a different married couple appears with the groom holding a sign bearing the “Rabaa” symbol and looking sad, while his bride is smiling behind him, holding a poster that says “CC” and a thumbs-up. During a conversation with a friend, who works in human rights, I was informed that the amount of violations against journalists since 30 June –whether arrests, attacks or fatalties – exceed those of the last three years combined. A news report was published on how the committee of the 10 constitutional experts, appointed by Interim President Adly Mansour, removed references of the 25 January revolution from the amended constitution, and left only that of 30 June. This last piece of news confirms that we must be, truly, the descendents of Pharaohs, since, like them, we always try to erase the previous regime from our history, while repeating their same mistakes.
Despite recent turbulence in formal ties between Egypt and the US, those at Ittihadiya Palace (the headquarters of the presidency in Cairo) and the administration at the White House (the headquarters of the US presidency in Washington) have always shared a constant context of positive interaction in general between the two sides. This positive dynamic was never influenced by whether Egypt’s actual ruler was inside or outside the walls of the palace.
“Zahma moot, (it is very crowded) and it’s not yet 9 AM.” The taxi driver is complaining. Traffic is already gridlocked early in the morning (yes, Egyptians consider 9 AM early). And then he asks, “how bad is it going to be when schools open?” It got me thinking; maybe schools should be cancelled all together. Expenses for schools are a significant financial burden on households. The Egyptian educational system doesn’t educate students in a manner that meets labour demand. Businesses complain about this all the time. The extra traffic will cause even more business disruptions, and certainly, the economy needs all the help it can get. Less government expenditure would be welcomed in light of the massive budget deficit. Why not cancel schools?
If somehow we managed to research the words used most frequently by Egyptians in the past three months, I’m sure “Al-Sisi” would come high up on that list. You can easily recognise the kind of political atmosphere you’re caught in the middle of simply by noticing the reactions of people to the General’s name.
During the past few years the world has become painfully aware of the 99%, formerly considered the silent majority, through protests, Occupy movements and Arab uprisings. The focus has since returned to the masses, as the front pages of newspapers have been plastered with images of thousands marching through the streets instead of presidents meeting each other in summits. But despite high hopes for change, the world seemed to slowly be returning to its former status quo.
You have to admit that despite all the heartaches that we have come to encounter in Egypt, the place is becoming quite the rollercoaster ride. It is interesting to watch how roles are being exchanged at dizzying velocity. A once villain is now considered prince charming, a once prince charming is now seen as a villain, a once revolutionary has been labeled a traitor and a once seen as traitor has now become a revolutionary. Indeed, each period has its men! More interesting is how this game of musical chairs extends to matters outside home.
US thinker Walter Russell Mead believes President Barack Obama has adopted a failed strategy in the Middle East over the past five years.
There are three schools utilised by the state facing strategic Political Violence, also known as terrorism: 1) The Justice System model, where the police and the judiciary pursue such acts as civilian criminal offenses (the most effective model and takes place in civilised democratic countries; but to be fair, it usually takes a really long time to end the problem), 2) The Expanded Justice system, where special legislation and courts are created to further empower the police and judiciary (US ‘ Patriot act, Mubarak’s Egypt) and 3) The War on Terrorism model, where the military is usually in charge and concerns for rights and liberties get overridden in favour of security and “Victory” (Israel). The last model is usually the least favourable one for a multitude of reasons, chief of which is that it perpetuates the conflict instead of resolving it; however, it seems to be the one currently employed in Egypt, or at least that is what the media tells us. Since this is the case, it is important for us- the citizens- to observe and understand exactly what our government strategy for handling this problem is, which so far seems to be applying Strategic Coercion.
The gas bill collector cried at my door. He is not a young man but an Egyptian man in his mid-forties, who is a husband and a father. Culturally, men are not supposed to cry, but nevertheless, he did. He fought the tears in his eyes and the lump in his throat and lost. He cried. Living in Egypt today has become too much – too much anger, aggression, and violence with too little respect, honesty, kindness and humanity. I listened and tried to understand. What I understood was that he needed to see real changes and real reasons to have hope for a better tomorrow.
Apparently, it is a matter of pleasure that global volume of Islamic finance industry has crossed $1.3tn approximately, which is, definitely, providing the best and compatible sources of finance with interest free modes. According to a careful estimate, there are more than 2000 Islamic Financial Institutions offering Islamic Banking, Islamic Insurance (Takaful), Islamic Funds, Mudaraba, Islamic Bonds (sukuk), Islamic Microfinance and some other institutions actively providing Islamic financial services on different modes in adherence of Shari’a principles of Islamic Finance. If we look into the market share of above mentioned institutions, we get shocked and depressed for a while with the fact that Islamic Banking and Finance has been nearly confined to the rich people and as per the ideology of capitalism, the profit urge has captured the Islamic Financial Industry and discriminated against the underprivileged, leaving them deprived of Islamic financial services. In view of these facts, it should be said that commercialism has captured Islamic finance institutions in such a way that business with and financing to the poor have slipped from their agenda.
At milestones, feelings of distrust mingle with optimism, and developments that seem highly contradictory in form but are in fact compatible in substance become apparent. In such instances, it is important that people and institutions work in close harmony, coherence and have a clear vision.
The Muslim Brotherhood and its allies have exerted huge efforts for two tumultuous months to overturn what they describe as a "military coup" in Egypt. Not only have they failed to achieve their goal, they have suffered a comprehensive security crackdown that seems to threaten their very existence.
Writing about art and culture has been a challenge the past few months. We were looking forward to reviewing the outdoor concerts that herald in the summer season, but this year people flocked to marches instead of performances to shout erhal in unison and not the lyrics of hit songs of their favourite bands. And while the political changes grabbed everyone’s attention Ramadan started, never an easy time for those of us who make their living covering the cultural scene of Egypt. Most venues suspend their normal activities or close down completely and while a fancy iftar or sumptuous sohour makes for good copy in a glossy, it does not help us fill the back page of the paper.
This was how my reporters greeted me five days ago. At first I thought it was another pun by DNE’s wily reporters until they showed me the links in Arabic; the police confiscated a duck carrying a “strange” device.
The political map of Egypt is slowly changing. As events continue to unfold following June 30 and then the July 3 coup, there are emerging new realties that may have an impact the future of the country for years to come. Currently, however, there is nothing definitive or clear.
The great and good Lord Sacks, former Chief Rabbi, according to a report from the Daily Telegraph, made the following comments in a recent interview marking his departure from office:
Supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi as well as the current regime are accusing each other of heavy reliance on the US; such assertions border on allegations of high treason most of the time. Amidst frenzied talks of Sykes–Picot, War on Islam, War on terror, Imperialism and all other sort of rhetoric, it is really worth taking a brief look at this illusive question: Who does the US Support?
“Political Islam is faced with a major setback; it is not just about [ousted president Mohamed] Morsi or the Muslim Brotherhood, who admittedly failed to run the state,” Kamal El-Helbawi, former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, has said. He added: “This public dislike is bad enough to the extent that Islamist leaders have to worry about walking down the street lest they will be attacked."
Amr Adeep in an important interview with John McCain