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

Parallels of History: "the end of war is nigh"

Monday, November 26, 2012

clip_image002While Syria slaughters its own people and Cairo burns yet again, idealism reveals again, that war is to be left in the dustbins of history.  Similar predictions were made in 1909, just 4 years before the first World War, and in the 1930’s by Neville Chamberlain, on the eve of the Second World War.  In the 90’s, Clinton slashed our military with the idealism that the world would be a safer place.  It ignored the rising attacks by Islamist Terrorists and declarations of war by al-Qaeda, in hopes it would just go away.  It claimed terrorism was a law enforcement problem, and should be tried in court, rather than prosecuted by militaries.

Zero Ponsdorf of This Ain’t Hell points out the latest prediction of the impending future world of peace.  And some blame the realism of Veterans, of the fact that Sovereign Nations maintain standing Armies for self-defense, that wars continue.  Evidently, some believe that if Nations will just give up the means to defend themselves, then dictatorships will stop trying to take over their land and people.

Meanwhile, in the real world, the Communist Central Party of China has selected their new set of leaders, without ANY input from their Chinese subjects and are publishing new passports with maps of claiming the territory of several Pacific Nations, from the Philipines, to India, to Korea, to Japan, and of course Taiwan.

clip_image004Communist China has been using the profits of the lead coated toys it sells to our kids, to buy modern battleships, aircraft carriers, and troop transports.  It has taken over from the Soviets in stealing our technology, for such things as the Stealth Fighter which the Obama Administration decided was unneeded for our own military.  It has doubled its military spending in the last decade, and continues to increase it by double digits.  And now, it is making claims on the islands of the Pacifics in a manner reminiscent of 1930’s Japan.  The one thing that has contained China’s military threat for decades is being erased: its inability to project the power of its 4.5 Million man Military.

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Bin Laden was in Muslim Brotherhood, says al-Qaeda chief

27 September 2012, 16:47 (GMT+05:00)

Al-Qaeda’s late leader Osama bin Laden was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood before taking up arms against Soviets in Afghanistan, his successor Ayman al-Zawahiri said in a video message released Thursday, dpa reported.

“Sheikh Osama bin Laden was in the Muslim Brotherhood organization in the Arabian Peninsula. When the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan began (in 1979), he immediately went to Pakistan to meet the mujahideen and assist them,” al-Zawahiri added in the hour-long video reposted on Jihadology, a US-based website on extremist groups. Continue reading

Qaradawi Organization Rasies $6.5 Million For New Islamic Endowment; Qaradawi Donates Large Amount

QassamRocket

QassamRocket (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gulf media is reporting that a recent charity dinner for an Islamic endowment sponsored by the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) has raised over $6.5 million dollars for the project. Of particular interest is that the Gulf News report indicates that Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi personally donated over half a million dollars of that amount:

May 15, 2012 A charity dinner in Qatar has raised QR 24 million ($6,586,170) for the ‘Renaissance of a Nation’ endowment project launched by the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS). The project aims to raise enough funds to help the union, headed by Doha-based scholar Yusuf Al Qaradawi, be financially self-sustained. The dinner was attended by Qatar’s Crown Prince Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, ministers, diplomats and business people, local Arabic daily Al Sharq reported on Tuesday. ‘Your generous donations and the funds raised by selling some rare items will help us build a tower and acquire buildings and shares for the endowments of the union,’ Shaikh Ali Mohieddeen Al Qardaghi, the union secretary general, said in his address. The union has plans to invest up to $100 million within the next 10 years to help secure financial returns that will be used for its charity work. Antique carpets, clothing The sale of historic carpets and Ottoman-era clothes and copies of the Holy Quran from Turkey raised QR17 million. The amount was topped by a QR 5 million ($1,372,120) donation by Shaikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani, owner of Al Faisal Without Borders Charity Foundation who was awarded the Personality of the Year distinction by the union.  Al Qaradawi donated another SR2 million ($548,847). Al Faisal Without Borders Charity Foundation was set up in June 2011 by Shaikh Faisal, a prominent businessman, as a foundation ‘for the benefit of all, at home and abroad, without any reservation or discrimination on the basis of nationality, race or religion.’

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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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The Muslim Brotherhood Reborn The Syrian Uprising

by Yvette Talhamy

Middle East Quarterly
Spring 2012, pp. 33-40
(view PDF)

As Syrian president Bashar al-Assad struggles to contend with a massive popular uprising, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (SMB) is poised to dominate whatever coalition of forces manages to unseat the Baathist regime. Though in many ways the Brotherhood’s official political platform is a model of Islamist moderation and tolerance, it is less a window into the group’s thinking than a reflection of its political tactics. Unlike its parent organization, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which often kept its ideological opponents at arm’s length, the SMB has repeatedly forged alliances with secular dissident groups even as it secretly tried to negotiate a deal with the Assad regime to allow its return from exile. Since the moderation of its political platform over the past two decades has clearly been intended to facilitate this triangulation, it does not tell us much about the ultimate intentions of the Syrian Brotherhood.

The Brotherhood’s Background

 

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has openly declared its support for the current protests but has denied responsibility for organizing them. The demonstrations, they claim, are not led by the SMB but by the newly formed Syrian National Council, which proposes to unite all opposition groups including SMB members.

The SMB was established in 1945-46 by Mustafa as-Sibai as a branch of Hassan al-Banna‘s Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Though favoring the establishment of an Islamic state in Syria,[1] it participated in parliamentary elections after the country gained independence in 1946 (winning 4 seats in 1947, 3 seats in 1949, 5 seats in 1954, and 10 seats in 1961) and even had ministers in two governments.[2]

When the secular, nationalist Baath party took power in 1963, it quickly moved to weaken the SMB and the urban, Sunni merchant class that supported the movement. The group was outlawed in 1964, and its leader Isam al-Attar was exiled. That same year, a revolt led by the SMB erupted in the city of Hama and was quelled by force.[3] During the 1970s, relations between the SMB and President Hafez Assad (r. 1970-2000) deteriorated into large-scale violence.

Although the Brotherhood’s opposition to Baathist rule was expressed ideologically in polite company, there was a deep sectarian undercurrent, as the Assad regime was dominated by Alawites, a schismatic Islamic sect viewed as heretical by religious Sunnis. Armed elements of the SMB assassinated government officials and carried out bombings of government buildings, Baath party offices, and other targets associated with the regime.[4] In 1979, the SMB carried out a massacre of eighty-three unarmed Alawite cadets at an artillery school in Aleppo. In June 1980, it is said to have made an assassination attempt against the president, who allegedly retaliated by ordering hundreds of captured SMB prisoners gunned down in their cells. Although the SMB has always maintained that it had no connection to underground, armed factions responsible for violence,[5] few take the claim seriously. Continue reading

Women and Islam: A Debate with Human Rights Watch

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Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

An Egyptian woman looking on during a rally to mark the one year anniversary of the revolution, Tahrir Square, January 25, 2012

To Kenneth Roth:

In your Introduction to Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2012, “Time to Abandon the Autocrats and Embrace Rights,” you urge support for the newly elected governments that have brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Tunisia and Egypt. In your desire to “constructively engage” with the new governments, you ask states to stop supporting autocrats. But you are not a state; you are the head of an international human rights organization whose role is to report on human rights violations, an honorable and necessary task which your essay largely neglects.

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