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Coptic fury boils over

Youseef Sidhom | 9 January 2011
Before a year on the Christmas Eve crime in Nag Hammadi, in which one Muslim passerby and six Copts were killed as they left church after Midnight Mass—Copts celebrate Christmas on 7 January—terrorism reared its ugly face, this time on New Year’s Eve. A year that did not lack for fierce sectarian violence against Copts, 2010 ended with hundreds of worshippers in churches praying for a more clement new year. But in Alexandria’s Church of the Saints, what had started as a joyful, hopeful event ended in a bloodbath as a bomb exploded, claimed the lives of more than 20 and left some 80 wounded... More

Egypt Coptic Nerves Frayed by Tension with Islamists

Others | 5 January 2011
It has been a tough year for Egypt’s Coptic community. It began with a gruesome murder outside a church on Coptic Christmas day and ended with security forces killing two men and arresting more than 160 Christians who rioted after they were prevented from converting a charity building into a church... More

Copts and Muslims …the difference remains

Youseef Sidhom | 26 December 2010
Last Sunday saw President Mubarak give his inaugural speech before Parliament for the new parliamentary round. Egyptians awaited the speech eagerly since it was expected to offer clear indications on the upcoming legislative agenda and the presidential assignment to the government in the new legislative term. In short, it offered a preview of the bills that would in all probability be placed before Parliament to pass into laws... More

The Woes of Egypt’s Christians this Christmas

Others | 26 December 2010
More than 150 people, many of them minors, (were jailed) following the November 24th clashes between Egyptian security forces and Coptic Christians protesting the block on construction of their new church near Giza. Security forces opened fire on the unarmed crowd, killing three people and injuring dozens. A four year old child died after suffocating from tear gas... More

When Uncle Elie came back to Egypt

Others | 22 December 2010
It was at the café overlooking the Baron Empain Palace in Greater Cairo that I met for the first time recently with “Uncle Elie.” His full name is Elie Amin Kheder, and he is one of tens of thousands of Egyptian Jews who were forced out of their homeland by Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser’s regime in the wake of the 1967 defeat... More

For a new political map

Youseef Sidhom | 19 December 2010
Today I proceed with discussing the topic of the new People’s Assembly and the hegemony the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) holds over it. Whether this hegemony is the result of NDP superiority compared to the other political parties, or of a lopsided political map which the NDP has drawn and worked to put into effect, it is time to figure out an escape from this rigid political scene. Work has to be exerted to achieve a climate conducive to real political pluralism within which other political parties no longer play second fiddle to the NDP, but actively participate and compete... More

The Sorry State of Human Rights in the Muslim World

Others | 19 December 2010
Coptic Christians make up about 10 per cent of Egypt’s population of 80 million. They complain frequently of discrimination. The Coptic community says authorities in Egypt are reluctant to approve permits to build churches, which they say they need to accommodate the growing numbers of worshippers. .. More

Who’s responsible at al-Ahram?

Youseef Sidhom | 12 December 2010
Al-Ahram, Cairo’s topmost daily paper, which is State-owned, carried on its second page last Monday a column under the title “Copts 2010” by Abdel-Nasser Salama. In highly offensive, aggressive rhetoric which blatantly instigated reader opinion against Copts, the Church, and Pope Shenouda III; the column cited ‘information’ which it claimed for historical fact and which ‘proved’ Copts have been for decades acting in a treacherous manner against their homeland. It takes no effort to detect that the unsubstantiated so-called ‘information’ is entirely groundless; its only base is in the writer’s imagination... More

Christians in the Middle East “Endangered Species”

Others | 12 December 2010
It is obvious by now that the Christians in the Middle East are an "endangered species."Christians in Arab countries are no longer being persecuted; they are now being slaughtered and driven out of their homes and lands... More

Finally, a Coptic majority

Youseef Sidhom | 5 December 2010
It has been decades now that Copts have suffered marginalisation and exclusion from promotions to high-ranking positions of public office. The countless hours I repeatedly spend scanning official lists—whether those approved by the president or by ministers—of appointments or promotions of public servants invariably end in frustration since the number of Copts on these lists compared to their Muslim counterparts is slight, rare, or non-existent. This inexplicable official stance against Copts was the topic of several articles I wrote, in which I cited in detail the numbers and proportions of Copts on these lists. .. More

Copts should not fear democracy

Others | 5 December 2010
Egypt's current social and economic problems are serious, perhaps overshadowing the mounting sectarian tensions in the country. More than anything, Copts and Muslims alike want good jobs, a proper education, decent living standards, a free media, mutual respect for religious places of worship, and, above all, a democratic regime in which power is not concentrated in the hands of a narrow elite... More

Why don’t Muslims build non-licensed mosques?

Youseef Sidhom | 28 November 2010
Giza governorate officials have vociferously cast the blame for the recent riots in Talbiya and Umraniya on the Copts. The Copts, they said, are fully to blame for violating the terms of the building permit for a social services building and converting part of it into a church. The claim is misleading and embodies an uneven situation embraced by our officials and exploited every time they are in a position to blame. .. More

The Failed Promise of Multiculturalism in Canada

Others | 28 November 2010
Forty years ago, then prime minister Pierre Trudeau created a policy — multiculturalism — that allowed immigrants to become Canadians by integrating into our culture without abandoning their own. He was trying to differentiate between Canadian integration and American assimilation (the melting pot)... More

Quest for beauty turns ugly

Youseef Sidhom | 21 November 2010
Visitors to Downtown Cairo these days are bound to notice that the facades of the buildings overlooking the main streets are being given a new coat of paint. The walls are painted in a creamy hue of beige while the wooden elements such as the shutters are painted in dark brown. It is not clear, however, who or what authority is in charge of the task; no sign is there to indicate that information. Some passers-by may vaguely recall a State-sponsored project to conserve the architectural heritage of special districts in Cairo among which, undoubtedly, Downtown Cairo stands out for the large collection of characteristic buildings it houses... More

The Wrong Way to Combat ‘Islamophobia’

Others | 21 November 2010
This month, member states of the United Nations will vote on what has become an annual resolution, “On Combating Defamation of Religions,” put forward by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, a group of 57 states with large Islamic populations. The resolution condemns what it calls “defamation of religions” — a vague notion that can perhaps best be described as a form of expression that offends another’s religious sensibilities — and urges countries to enact laws that prohibit such forms of expression. The resolutions are part of a larger and dangerous campaign to create a global blasphemy law to combat what Muslim leaders refer to as “Islamophobia.”.. More

Would we go to Israel?

Others | 14 November 2010
It’s hard for an Arab to find a safe place to visit in the region... except for the state our demagogues continue to call ‘the alleged entity.’.. More

Towards full citizenship rights

Youseef Sidhom | 14 November 2010
In any election process, the relation between voters and candidates is one of reciprocal interest. Candidates are after the voters’ votes, and voters are after representatives who would adequately represent them, demand their rights and present their grievances and demands to the legislative council concerned. Voters thus expect candidates’ campaigns to address their interests and demands, and to secure full citizenship rights for future generations... More

For a new parliament

Youseef Sidhom | 7 November 2010
Last week saw candidates lining up for the upcoming elections for the People’s Assembly (PA), the lower house of Egypt’s Parliament. In a few days the candidate lists should be completed and all candidates, whether partisan or independent, should be set to campaign for Egyptians’ votes. Balloting is scheduled for the 28th of this month... More

How to Approach Islamic Militancy in the West

Others | 7 November 2010
Did journalist Juan Williams, who was fired recently by NPR (National Public Radio), show unacceptable insensitivity or unforgivable stupidity when he expressed anxiety about Muslim airplane passengers during an interview with conservative TV host Bill O'Reilly? Free speech shouldn't guarantee immunity from the standards of basic decency, but Williams's comments were hardly a firing offense. We would all be better off -- Muslim Americans first and foremost -- if we could have a more open discussion about Islam, Islamic militancy and what Muslims, here and abroad, think it means to be Muslim... More

Demolish your home

Youseef Sidhom | 31 October 2010
In the Egyptian housing domain, private capital usually prefers to invest in high end housing where the profits are high and the return on investment quick. In a few cases investors may opt for housing for the middle class, but the poorer classes have to depend on the State for their housing. Affordable housing for the needy requires special urban and economic planning which involves State subsidy or long-term financing only possible through the State... More

Muslim Brotherhood Declares War

Others | 31 October 2010
on America; Will America Notice? This is one of those obscure Middle East events of the utmost significance that is ignored by the Western mass media, especially because they happen in Arabic, not English; by Western governments, because they don't fit their policies; and by experts, because they don't mesh with their preconceptions... More