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Who do Egypt’s villagers vote for? And why?

Others | 12 April 2012
As of yesterday, 23 candidates, who belong to different parties and political orientations, have applied to run for the presidency. Many now wonder who will people vote for and why, particularly after the takeover of Islamic parties, namely the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (42 percent) and the Salafi Nour Party (24.2 percent), in the parliamentary elections that took place earlier this year... More

Suleiman for president: Old battle lines redrawn

Others | 11 April 2012
The launch at the eleventh hour of Omar Suleiman’s candidacy shows extraordinary disregard for Egypt’s popular revolution — that it happened at all, that it had clear positions against torture, normalization of relations with Israel, and America’s Middle East policy, and that former Head of General Intelligence Omar Suleiman was crucial to all of these. Suleiman’s nomination represents a bid to restore the old regime, down to its most maligned characters. More specifically, it is an attempt to entirely erase the new politics that the revolution introduced, replacing them with the classic political confrontation of the Mubarak era: that of the authoritarian regime and the Islamist opposition... More

Ethics in politics

Ahmed Sobh | 10 April 2012
Once we accept the necessity of separating ethics and politics, it is safe to assume that battles over the referendum, the constitution and elections were all prime examples of politicking. If we believe that ignoring conscience results in successful politics and so benefits the nation, then perhaps we should accept that what we have seen as politics played out among the people. This raises a fundamental issue about the connection between morality and political success. More importantly, it raises a fundamental question: Can the nation’s interests be served by disregarding principles, even if tangible achievements are made?.. More

The myth of Egypt’s liberal constitution

Others | 9 April 2012
In the years leading up to January 2011, Egypt’s past often appeared as an admonishment to the present. While their invocations of history assumed many forms, critics of the Mubarak regime became particularly enthralled with the so-called “liberal era” that followed the revolution of 1919. Secularist liberals saw the interwar decades as a golden age of political freedom, religious tolerance and cultural efflorescence. Political conservatives reinvented the Egyptian monarchy as a model of strong leadership not marred by the moral decrepitude and corruption of Mubarak’s presidency. And even some Islamist groups recognized these years as their own moment of emergence before Nasser’s brutal crackdown. It is thanks in no small part to these rosy depictions that various political actors have in recent weeks pointed to the 1923 Constitution as a possible source of guidance for the current drafting process... More

Shater and the SCAF-Brotherhood standoff

Others | 6 April 2012
The Muslim Brotherhood’s nomination of Khairat al-Shater can be read as a deal to field Shater as a “consensus president,” or as a Brotherhood maneuver and exchange of mutual interests between the group and Egypt’s military leaders, in which case Shater’s bid for the presidency cannot be considered a serious one... More

The collective memory of sexual assault

Others | 5 April 2012
In the past two days, social media has witnessed an outrage over statements made by MP Azza El-Garf of the Freedom and Justice Party. Garf, who is one of the very few female parliamentarians in the Islamist-dominated People’s Assembly, has called for the cancellation of the anti-harassment law. She justified her claims by stating that the indecent attire of women is what invites sexual harassment, hence harassers are not to be blamed. Garf’s statement has been mocked as mad, but the reality is that apart from being extremely disturbing, Garf is simply echoing the state’s de facto position on sexual assault, despite the presence of the law. In order to really address the danger of the state’s lax application of the law, and its own endorsement of sexual harassment techniques, we need to refresh our collective memory... More

Reforming the national press

Others | 4 April 2012
Deciding the fate of the national press and media is linked to deciding the fate of the political system, and perhaps the future of Egypt, since it is linked to that critical question about what kind of Egypt do we want. If the answer is that we want a civic, democratic, modern and contemporary Egypt (that is also based on Islamic principles) then what needs to be done with the national press and media is obvious. The Shura Council should not own it nor should a governing body like the Supreme Press Council still exist... More

Time for a civilian handover

Others | 3 April 2012
Last week, the managing editor of Al-Masry Al-Youm's internet portal and I received an unexpected invitation from the director of the Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI), Lieutenant General Hamdy Wahiba, to visit the organization, after the portal published two articles I wrote on the AOI as a military-run economic organization that saw spates of labor protests over the year that followed the 25 January revolution... More

Why we withdrew from the constituent assembly

Others | 1 April 2012
For many months, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis in Parliament have been affirming that the writing of the Constitution will be a process characterized by national consensus, in which the different currents and segments of Egyptian society will be fairly represented. They reiterated time and time again that no particular political current would dominate the process, since constitutions are not drafted by majorities, but rather by a true consensus. We always had good faith in such statements, and we praised that patriotic stance by the Islamist parties. Unfortunately, in the past few days, we have realized it has all been empty talk. .. More

The judiciary is sacred; judges are fallible

Others | 30 March 2012
No doubt that the judiciary as an institution is sacred, but individual judges are fallible. They are human beings prone to error, temptation and prejudice, especially under the rewards and punishment of a corrupt authoritarian regime. They can be coaxed and corrupted... More

This is not 1954

Others | 29 March 2012
Over the past few days, the demons of history have weighed down on public discussions about the country’s state of affairs and the looming conflicts over the constitution and the presidential elections. The recent quarrel between the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and the Muslim Brotherhood, triggered by their disagreement over the future of the cabinet and possibly even the presidential race, has elicited fears of a showdown between the army and Egypt’s oldest Islamist organization. The confrontation has caused many to draw parallels with an ostensibly similar moment in Egyptian history in 1954, when the Free Officers led by Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser consolidated their grip on power and began to stamp out their political opponents, including the Muslim Brotherhood. SCAF’s ominous warning to the Brotherhood two days ago to remember “historical lessons in order to avoid the recurrence of mistakes from the past” has been interpreted by analysts as a reference to 1954, raising fears of history repeating itself... More

Assembly of the wretched

Others | 28 March 2012
I am not the first or last to describe the 100-strong committee that will draft the constitution as the “assembly of the wretched”, to borrow the phrase used by Saad Zaghloul to describe the committee of 30 who drew up the 1923 constitution. The description is appropriate to what seems to be a betrayal of the promise by the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) to the people that the majority of the assembly will be from outside parliament... More

Selecting the next pope: Who really decides?

Others | 27 March 2012
Hundreds of thousands of Copts gathered last week to lament the charismatic and popular pope who served as the chief of the Coptic Orthodox Church for almost 40 years. These crowds, who saw the pope not only as the spiritual leader of the church but also as a political leader of their community, are not necessarily the ones who will have the right to vote for the new pope — the 118th heir to the throne of St. Mark... More

Mother, wife, artist and a revolutionary

Others | 26 March 2012
Whenever I remember 2 pm on 25 January 2011, I feel that I have changed forever. At that time I was preparing to leave Tahrir Square after having toured it for two hours in search of protesters. There were only policemen and Central Security officers talking to their leaders on their radios. “All under control, sir. Just a few chants and hardly any protesters there,” they said. Passers-by would stand for minutes behind the iron barricades before leaving in frustration. I thought to myself, “nothing will happen, just like every time.”.. More

Peace and a edification to the Church of God

Father Asanasius | 26 March 2012
Peace and a edification to the one holy and apostolic Church of God; and an expansion to our Church by the work of the Holy Spirit, God the life Giving; which acquired to himself with the precious Blood (the acquired people) he is her owner, ruler, head, pilot and her only vinedresser. So, her history is the most exquisite and the greatest and most glorious story of God's work, he leads her to the heights of grace and takes her on a high mountain; which made her pages glowing with the light and strength, and weaved woven bright out of the great river from the front of the throne of God; to irrigate the land of the world and feed with the righteousness, life and way of her redeemer, Christ... More

In the Name of the Father

Others | 23 March 2012
My father did not live to see 9/11. I don't know what he would have thought of the so called war on terror, let alone the equally so called Arab Spring. Though not particularly old, he was frail and muddled by the time he died—flattened out by decades of depression, isolation and inactivity. I think of him now because the trajectory of his views seems relevant to 25 Jan. From a Marxist intellectual in the fifties and sixties—a member of a group that could transcend its class function to effect change, he became a liberal democrat in the eighties and nineties—an individual who had a common-sense opinion on current affairs regardless of his beliefs. In retrospect I think the reason for this change of heart had to do with a certain kind of honesty or transparency: at some point he must have realized that to be proactive was to be caught in a lie (the lie of independent nation building, of the dictatorship of the fellahin, of Islamic renaissance…), a lie for which not even an unhappy life was worth risking... More

Examining the liberal critique of Abouel Fotouh

Others | 22 March 2012
Many liberal critiques directed at presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh disregard his political platform, while focusing solely on the fact that he was an ikhwan — a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Following the Supreme Council of Armed Forces’ continuous crackdown on revolutionaries and the Islamist takeover of Parliament, liberals in Egypt have been frustrated and feel increasingly marginalized from the political sphere. Egypt’s liberals and revolutionaries believed that Mohamed ElBaradei would be the last, dim of hope for instilling real democratic change, only for ElBaradei himself to snuff that light out when he quit his presidential campaign... More

Constitutional confusion is at root of conflict btwn govt powers

Others | 21 March 2012
In the past few weeks, controversy has erupted over the relationship between the three branches of government – the legislative, executive and judicial – because of several issues of dispute. Most prominently, the scandal involving the spiriting of foreign nationals out of the country while they still faced criminal charges in Egypt in the case of foreign-funded NGOs, especially since the decision to lift the travel ban that had been placed on them was issued by a judicial body that did not have the authority to decide on the matter, and was hastily formed, at night, to issue a predetermined decision... More

The scenario of Egypt’s consensus president

Others | 20 March 2012
Egypt’s upcoming presidential elections can be looked at as being the last major battle in the course of the first revolutionary wave that began on 25 January 2011, as well as the beginning of a new phase in which polarization and battle tactics are bound to change... More

The pope's predicament

Others | 19 March 2012
Just over ten years ago, before the illness that took his life yesterday had sapped his body’s strength, I had the opportunity to meet with Pope Shenouda III, the patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church. It was September 2001, only a matter of days after the September 11 attacks, and I was in Egypt beginning a year’s worth of dissertation research. My father had opted to travel with me, to help me settle into the rhythms of life in Cairo. I was delighted with this, not so much for the advice he could give about the year ahead, but because — as a prominent diaspora Copt — he could work his connections to secure a meeting with the patriarch. At the time, this seemed the only way that I could possibly secure access to the virtually untapped patriarchal library, whose contents would pave the way to not only a brilliant dissertation, but a career’s worth of research... More

Losing the job for a nose job

Others | 16 March 2012
CAIRO - The Salafist ultra-conservatives are newcomers to Egypt 's politics. But last week they earned plaudits here in Egypt and beyond for proving that politics has ethics, even if the precious membership of the Parliament is the price. When reports started to appear in the local media that Salafist MP Anwar el-Balkeemy had made up a false story to cover up having a nose job, the stakes were high that his party Al Nur would stand by him. This is part of Egypt 's political practices. .. More