Freedom of religion in Egypt no better under military rule

Author Mahmoud Salem Posted March 19, 2014

CAIRO — After June 30, 2013, many people thought that the end of Muslim Brotherhood rule would bring about military-enforced secularism, or more religious and personal freedom. Instead, they are slowly finding out that the new state is very similar to the old state and employing the same — if not worse — tactics against said freedoms. The Islamists may no longer be in power, but religious despotism seems to be alive and well in the land of the Nile.

People gather at the Virgin Church for the funeral of four victims killed in an attack at a wedding on Sunday, in Cairo, Oct. 21, 2013. (photo by REUTERS/ Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

Summaryt The military’s conservatism and alliance with religious authorities, even if not the Muslim Brotherhood, is a constant in Egyptian politics.
Author Mahmoud Salem Posted March 19, 2014

Exhibit A: Shiite college student Amr Abdallah was just sentenced to five years in jail for “contempt for religion.” Amr was arrested Nov. 14, 2013, when he entered Al-Hussein Mosque during an Ashoura celebration, an act the authorities deemed worthy of arrest and interrogation. The court, in its opinion, stated that its function is to dispense justice based on the rules that God has laid out. The court also stated that the views presented by Amr after his questioning were an abominable attack on religion that cannot be defended by the constitutionally protected freedoms of belief or expression, given that the basis of all legislation is Sharia principles, which Amr’s views are completely against. Continue reading

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Sexual assaults on women in Tahrir Square increasing

English: Over 2 millions protesting in Tahrir ...

English: Over 2 millions protesting in Tahrir Square after Mubarak’s speech saying that they’ll go to his palace tomorrow. February 11, 2011 – 12:18 AM (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Friday, June 08, 2012

Today there is a mass demonstration of thousands in Tahrir Square in Cairo against what many Egyptians felt was a light sentence for Hosni Mubarak in his trial.
The women in the protest better watch out.
From AP:

Her screams were not drowned out by the clamor of the crazed mob of nearly 200 men around her.
An endless number of hands reached toward the woman in the red shirt in an assault scene that lasted less than 15 minutes but felt more like an hour.
She was pushed by the sea of men for about a block into a side street from Tahrir Square. Many of the men were trying to break up the frenzy, but it was impossible to tell who was helping and who was assaulting.
Pushed against the wall, the unknown woman’s head finally disappeared. Her screams grew fainter, then stopped. Her slender tall frame had clearly given way. She apparently had passed out. The helping hands finally splashed the attackers with bottles of water to chase them away.
The assault late Tuesday was witnessed by an Associated Press reporter who was almost overwhelmed by the crowd herself and had to be pulled to safety by men who ferried her out of the melee in an open Jeep.
Reports of assaults on women in Tahrir, the epicentre of the uprising that forced Hosni Mubarak to step down last year, have been on the rise with a new round of mass protests to denounce a mixed verdict against the ousted leader and his sons in a trial last week.
No official numbers exist for attacks on women in the square because police do not go near the area, and women rarely report such incidents.
But activists and protesters have reported a number of particularly violent assaults on women in the past week. Many suspect such assaults are organised by opponents of the protests to weaken the spirit of the protesters and drive people away.
Mahmoud said two of his female friends were cornered Monday and pushed into a small passageway by a group of men in the same area where the woman in the red shirt was assaulted.

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In Egypt’s Islamist heartland, voters voice doubts about Muslim Brotherhood

Voters in the Imbaba neighborhood of Cairo are impatient with the Muslim Brotherhood‘s lack of accomplishments during their short tenure in parliament.

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Egyptian men wait outside a polling center to cast their votes in Imbaba neighborhood in Giza, Egypt, Wednesday, May 23. More than 15 months since the uprising that pushed Hosni Mubarak from power, Egyptians streamed to polling stations Wednesday to freely choose a president for the first time in generations.
(Ahmed Ali/AP)


By Kristen Chick, Correspondent  posted May 24, 2012 at 2:01 pm EDT

Cairo

In 1992, Imbaba was a hotbed of Islamic militancy. Militants effectively took control of the Cairo neighborhood and pronounced it an Islamic emirate. The  military had to send thousands of troops in to bring the area back under control.

Today, the military is in Imbaba for another reason—overseeing voting for Egypt’s first president since the uprising that pushed Hosni Mubarak from power. The two-day election will determine whether an Islamist will be the next president of Egypt. One possibility is Mohamed Morsi, the candidate of Egypt’s most organized political movement, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP).

Imbaba, a chaotic and mostly poor area, is home to 500,000 registered voters and would seem an ideal place  for the Muslim Brotherhood to win votes. In December parliamentary elections, about 70 percent of the district that includes Imbaba voted for Islamist parties – either the FJP or the ultraconservative Nour Party.

But many voters on Thursday said they were steering clear of the Brotherhood’s candidate, citing disillusionment with the party’s performance in parliament, or an aversion to the organization’s attempt to dominate the legislative and executive branches of government. Many said they would cast their votes for a leftist or the candidate most closely associated with Mubarak’s regime. Even if Mr. Morsi carries the area’s votes, the discontent is a sign of the risk the Brotherhood has taken in reaching for so much, so soon.

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Saudi Arabia shuts down its embassy in Egypt

Credit: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Police detain a protester at the Saudi Embassy in Cairo during Saturday’s demonstration demanding the release of Egyptian human rights lawyer Ahmed el-Gezawi, who is being detained in Saudi Arabia on suspicion of drug possession. El-Gezawi’s attorney denied the charge.

By: Associated Press | Published: April 29, 2012    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia —

Saudi Arabia closed its Cairo embassy Saturday and recalled its ambassador following protests over a detained Egyptian human rights lawyer in a sharp escalation of tension between two regional powerhouses already on shaky terms due to uprisings in the Arab world.

The unexpected Saudi diplomatic break came following days of protests by hundreds of Egyptians outside the Saudi Embassy in Cairo and consulates in other cities to demand the release of Ahmed el-Gezawi. Relatives and human rights groups say he was detained for allegedly insulting the kingdom’s monarch.

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Egypt revolution film at Cannes stirs anger at home

CANNES: A film about the Egyptian revolution to be shown at the Cannes festival has stirred anger at home for being partly filmed by directors perceived as having propped up Hosni Mubarak’s regime.

The film, “18 Days,” covers the bloody events that led to Mubarak’s fall in February after more than 30 years in power. It is to be shown by Pacha Pictures on a special festival day honoring Egypt on May 18.

Two of the 10 directors involved in the film’s compilation, Marwan Hamed and Sherif Arafa, are accused of having made adverts for Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, and an online petition is demanding they not go to Cannes.

Egypt’s ambassador to France, Nasser Kamel, has decided not to attend the event, citing other engagements, after he was accused of having backed a violent police crackdown on the popular revolt that began Jan. 25.

But at Cannes itself, Egyptian film star Khaled Abol Naga – who is a shareholder in Pacha Pictures and was also a demonstrator in Cairo’s protest epicenter of Tahrir Square – says the mood should be for reconciliation. Continue reading

Curtain lifted on Egypt’s spy agency

1983 Anon, Cairo? - Hosni Mubarak & Yasser Ara...

Image by blacque_jacques via Flickr

CAIRO—For years, Marwa Farouk lived in fear of Egypt’s state security agents, who arrested and interrogated her several times for her work as an activist.

But now it is the state security apparatus, which served as the main enforcer of former president Hosni Mubarak’s regime, that has become vulnerable. In stunning succession, its headquarters have been overrun by angry mobs, its once-dreaded police force hidden away and, on Tuesday night, its top officials were placed under house arrest. Continue reading

Israel quietly watches Egyptian turmoil

SHARM EL SHEIKH/EGYPT, 18MAY08 - Muhammad Hosn...

Image via Wikipedia

January 28, 2011|From Kevin Flower, CNN
 

Israel was silent Friday as a week of massive street protests engulfed the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities.

Neither officials from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s office nor the Israeli foreign ministry offered any public comment on the growing political instability in Israel’s most important regional ally .

After the first day of Cairo street protests on Tuesday, Israeli Knesset member Benjamin Ben Eliezer, known as the Israeli politician with the closest ties to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, told Israeli Army Radio that he did not believe the demonstrations would bring down the regime for lack of a viable leadership in the opposition. Continue reading