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Documented facts about the church in Ain Shams

Youseef Sidhom | 5 June 2011
Egypt today appears to be an open field for the free circulation of a host of fallacies and rumours. Subject to neither scrutiny nor correction, many people take them for the literal truth. Some of the most recent fallacies circulated concerned the church of the Holy Virgin in Ain Shams, the re-opening of which, after three years of closure, triggered a crisis some two weeks ago. The Islamists who violently opposed the reopening alleged that the building was a garment factory and had never been a church in the first .. More

Talking democracy

Others | 5 June 2011
Several years ago, I attended a posh dinner party where conversation turned to Gamal Mubarak’s chances of becoming president. Most guests said they didn’t mind the idea and even supported it. They were intelligent, well-travelled Egyptians who might have known better. "The people will never go for it," I said, "they’ve had enough of having nothing". Protests arose regarding the number of families who owned satellite dishes, as if this signaled some great achievement. Populist outrage overcame good manners as I accused both Mubarak fils and my dinner companions of not knowing much about where they lived or with whom. "Oh come on, he’s a good man," said a well-known businessman, "you can’t hold it against him just because he’s the son of the president". This bit of sideways logic silenced me; nothing I could say would matter and dinner was anyway about to be served. I didn’t see this circle of acquaintances much afterwards; some have lately gone to jail and others into politics... More

A Brotherhood government?

Others | 29 May 2011
The only way to avoid oppression is to attain power. This what the Muslim Brotherhood has learned from history. The overwhelming presence of the Brotherhood in the post-Mubarak era reflects their fear of missing an extraordinary opportunity to reconstruct the Egyptian polity in their favor... More

Obama and post-revolution Egypt

Others | 29 May 2011
Obama’s speech to the Arab world last week was marked by an interesting paradox. On the one hand, the tone and content of the speech were predictable, but on the other hand it raised more questions than answers for its Arab audience... More

Conversion, Adultery and Savagery Strike Egypt

Others | 26 May 2011
The true story behind the recent Islamist attacks on Egypt’s Copts--wherein over a dozen Christians were killed, hundreds wounded, and their churches torched--is as illuminating as it is sordid... More

Between two reports

Youseef Sidhom | 22 May 2011
In the immediate aftermath of the tragic attack against the Copts in Imbaba a fortnight ago—the latest in a series of episodes by Salafis and thugs aimed at hijacking the 25 January Revolution—the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) dispatched a fact-finding commission to Imbaba. The commission investigated the situation on the ground, talking to eyewitnesses, members of the clergy, and the hospitalised injured, and came up with an accurate account of the events. It released a candid report analysing the unhealthy climate which allowed the disgraceful events to take place. Praiseworthy is that the commission did not stop at finding the facts, but offered recommendations to prevent the recurrence of similar attacks. .. More

Responsibility in post-revolution Egypt

Others | 22 May 2011
The clarity of purpose that characterized the best moments in Tahrir is now but a fond memory. Egypt is like a family in an inheritance dispute; the fraternal rifts formerly suppressed by the father/tyrant are widening. Divided along sectarian, generational and ideological lines, Egypt is in disagreement with itself, the public’s attention sidetracked by myriad affronts and scandals. It’s hard to stay focused in such a charged atmosphere, especially when objective obstacles prevent the nation from prioritizing and addressing its issues. For one, the current army-supervised government does not represent the people, but more importantly, the people are unaccustomed to representing themselves. .. More

Coptic Christians Need Protection - Will the U.S. Help Them?

Others | 22 May 2011
As the Coliseum in Rome deteriorates with every passing day, the thoughts of Christian martyrdom and persecution that happened there also seem ages away. .. More

No Going Back for Egypt's Converted Copts

Others | 21 May 2011
Amid the upheavals in Egypt since January, reports have begun to emerge of a surge in disappearances of Coptic girls... More

Code name: sectarian sedition

Youseef Sidhom | 15 May 2011
The heinous crime which took place last week in the neighbourhood of Imbaba, Giza, is the ultimate in desecrating the dignity of the State by Salafis and thugs—whose presence has, tragically, become a constant in our daily lives since the 25 January Revolution. The Salafis and thugs attacked the church of Mar-Mina in Imbaba, and set fire to the neighbouring Coptic homes, cars and shops, as well as to another Imbaba church, that of the Holy Virgin which they left in ruins. They based their disgraceful act on allegations that a young female who had converted to Islam was being held captive at Mar-Mina’s. .. More

The warning bells are ringing

Others | 15 May 2011
The tragedy at St. Marmina church in Imbaba on Saturday is not a new story. A young Muslim man from Asyut claims he married a Christian woman who converted to Islam five years ago, and that his wife’s brothers kidnapped her in recent months. The young man then claims he received a phone call that his wife is detained at an Imbaba church. The young man then goes to Imbaba and gathers a group of Muslims, most of them Salafis, from nearby mosques. Together they head to the church and instigated yet another incident of sectarian strife... More

Egypt is still ruled with an iron fist

Others | 12 May 2011
The threat by the Egyptian justice minister, Abdel-Aziz al-Gindi, that law-breakers in the country will face "an iron fist" after Muslim-Christian violence at the weekend is a worrying one. The sequence of events at the Saint Mena Coptic Christian church is still unclear, but certainly this kind of communal violence in Egypt has a long and disturbing history. It's right that the authorities take a zero-tolerance approach to all signs of co-ordinated violence against the country's small Coptic Christian .. More

Egypt's Other Extremists

Others | 8 May 2011
Judging the likely trajectory of post-Mubarak Egypt requires assessing the depth of public support for Islamism, and usually this has meant assessing the strength and intentions of the Muslim Brotherhood. While the Brotherhood remains central, however, the country is also facing a frequently violent upsurge of Salafist versions of Islam... More

A test for the Muslim Brotherhood

Others | 8 May 2011
Since the 1970s, the Muslim Brotherhood has been gaining valuable political experience by participating is student and trade union union activism, as well as parliamentary elections. This level of engagement political affairs was unknown to the Brotherhood prior to the July 1952 revolution, when the group had virtually no parliamentary or trade union representation. At the time, the Brotherhood organized social and religious activities and maintained a strong presence in student circles, but had no political representation... More

State dignity…victimised by Salafis or by the State?

Youseef Sidhom | 1 May 2011
No matter what the outcome of the Qena governor predicament until these lines go into print, the core of this article remains true and pressing. The appointment earlier this month of a Coptic governor to the southern province of Qena provoked widespread demonstrations by hardline Islamist Qenawis. The protests culminated in civil disobedience, with demonstrators taking over government buildings, blocking roads in town, and stopping buses to segregate men and women passengers. They blocked the Cairo Aswan highway and railroad line, and threatened to cut off fresh water and power from towns and villages whose water supply or power comes from Qena. .. More

New governors, old ways

Others | 1 May 2011
Curious is the process by which 13 new governors have been appointed across Egypt. It's as if most of them were picked a by a modified version of Hosni Mubarak. The new governors include no youth and most of them have served in the police, the military or the former ruling National Democratic Party (NDP). The appointments do not reflect a country that has just undergone a revolution. Instead, they seem to suggest that Egypt’s youth are incapable of playing a leading role during the interim period and that there are no qualified candidates. The new governors have been selected on the basis of the same old standards... More

A revival for Egypt

Youseef Sidhom | 24 April 2011
As Christians celebrate the Resurrection of Christ… Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. He launched a new era, an era of reconciliation and salvation, where the old things are done with and everything becomes new. It is an era in which man is released from retribution, and is consequently able to enjoy peace, happiness, and serenity. The Light of the Resurrection of Christ brings us all these comforting sentiments, and we in turn carry them with us on our long strife in this world, assured of victory and eternal life. .. More

Christians in the Middle East: Harder to Bear

Others | 24 April 2011
In a square in Nazareth, right below the Basilica of the Annunciation, a Koranic verse warns that "whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers". Yet it is the spectre of losing in the here-and-now that most haunts the dwindling number of adherents to Christianity in the land of its birthplace. .. More

History of Coptic Persecution

Others | 18 April 2011
The Coptic people have been victims of persecution throughout most of their history. Despite the change of rulers, persecution has continued. Copts resisted and continue to resist in order to preserve their faith and their national identity. Early on in their history, Copts were victims of ethnic cleansing especially in the lower Delta after the different Coptic revolts. The 829-831 revolt ended in a bloodbath by Caliph Al-Maamoon. The remaining population of this area was expelled by force to Syria. Copts suffered from policies of heavy taxation, land confiscation and deportation of Coptic peasants to plundered areas. Copts got under heavy pressure during the middle ages especially under the rule of the Mamluks and Turks. This led to a slow demographic shift allover Egypt. .. More

Its irrational position on the equitable utilization of the Nile water.

Others | 17 April 2011
Ethiopia is blessed with abundant water resources and hydropower potential. Yet only a miniscule amount of this potential has been used to reduce poverty in the country. Realizing this obvious fact, the Ethiopian government is pursuing programs to develop hydropower to fight and conquer poverty. The Millennium Dam is one such project. When completed it will be the largest hydropower dam in Africa and the tenth largest in the World. Located in Benishangul-Gumuz Regional State, the dam is expected to hold 63.5 billion cubic meters of water, a reservoir almost twice the amount of water in Ethiopia’s largest natural lake, Lake Tana... More

Salafis again humble the State?

Youseef Sidhom | 17 April 2011
Here is the second episode in a dreadful series of events that appear to have no end in sight. We had thought that the 25 January revolution would open a new chapter in the relations between Muslims and Copts—given their obvious solidarity and sympathy all through the 18-day uprising. The then prevalent climate of Muslim Coptic solidarity urged Coptic pundits to stress that the transformation to a civil democratic State should top the demands for reform, rightfully eclipsing all else. In that sense, the Coptic file with its deep grievances, they argued, had to be temporarily shelved until the foundation of the aspired modern State is laid. Then, they believed, Coptic grievances would be spontaneously, automatically resolved within the expected dominance of equality and citizenship rights... More