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.
In the past few days, the Egyptian economy has seen several positive developments; Fitch raised Egypt’s credit rating indicating an improvement in how the world views Egypt’s ability to meet its external debt, oil prices fell to their lowest level in five years giving the government the chance to reduce energy subsidies (and with them the budget deficit) without new hikes in the price of gasoline and diesel, and the president’s visit to China opens new horizons for economic cooperation with this superpower especially in infrastructure. These developments are timely, coming in the run-up to the economic conference scheduled for March 13 and 14.
There is an old saying: "They thought that under the dome there was a sheikh (an expert or scholar)." It is an expression of bankruptcy, helplessness and lack of means. The saying makes one ponder on the next House of Representatives and the capabilities of those who will be elected to it.
The Palestinian-Israeli peace process has again ground to a halt, and each party blames the other for this unfortunate failure. Israeli officials repeat continuously that there is no Palestinian peace partner, and accuse Abbas and his authority of flexing their diplomatic muscle in an attempt to isolate Israel internationally and making unilateral steps, ie avoiding negotiations and seeking individual and/or collective recognition of the state of Palestine. However, it would be outlandish to imagine that the Palestinians would succeed in this approach (if it is true) without a minimum international understanding of the Palestinian narrative. In order to fully comprehend this state of affairs, it is crucial to make an assessment of the positions and announcements of each party.
The great January 25 Revolution was not an illusion, no matter how loud the voices of sceptical newspapers, corrupt satellite channels and merchants of death. It is rather the greatest Egyptian revolution in modern history, which ignited the energies of a great people against tyranny, injustice, corruption and failure, whatever its share of success, failure or conspiracy.
The release of the Senate Intelligence Committee torture report has brought back painful memories. Now everyone knows that our government has “tortured some folks”, as President Obama has put it when he wanted to be homey and cute. As someone who was tortured himself in an Egyptian jail, such charm is wasted on me. And contrary to what CIA director confuses knowable and unknowable things , nothing is unknowable about Torture; the emotional and physical details remain vivid in my memory even after more than 40 years.
As the West experiences a rise in the sort of terror attacks that are endemic to the Islamic world -- church attacks, sex-slavery and beheadings -- it is only natural that the same mainstream media that habitually conceals such atrocities “over there,” especially against Christians and other minorities under Islam, would also conceal the reality of jihadi aspirations “over here.”
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who is perceived as the strongman of Egypt, constantly claims that his goal is to lead a strong country – yet he is actually working on neutering Egyptian society.
Egyptian and Turkish football pitches are set to re-emerge as battlegrounds between militant, street battle-hardened fans and authoritarian leaders in a life and death struggle that involves legal proceedings to brand the supporters as terrorists and efforts to undermine their widespread popular base.
They call themselves “The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.” On the other hand, clerics prefer to call them “Da’ish,” while the Western world and international press call them “ISIS,” which is the initials of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
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.