but we are actually all winds
ever more than before
even ever more than before 
gaining 
speeding 
booming
towards future 
speeding
and redeeming laughters
and happiest laughters
Start page JUMO | Code for America | good.is |
“If you want to free a society, just give them internet access. Because people, the young guys, you know, are all going to go out and see biased media, see the truth about other nations and their own nation and they’re going to be able to contribute and collaborate together.”
 
“The same attitude has also spread to youth groups. For example, Issander el Amrani wrote about the Ultras and how they have become “little more than anarchists.” Other groups are equally guilty; violence gradually has become permissible, just as sexual harassment became permissible among some. Slowly, Egyptians are shredding their centuries-old peaceful values to justify despicable behaviors under various excuses.

Underneath a cloud of fecklessness, ordinary Egyptians are struggling to feed their children amid a growing fuel crisis, while watching their dreams evaporate. For them, there is no light at the end of the tunnel and the future appears to be a choice between black, bleak and beyond.

Egyptian political life has always been as arid as its desert. Now, Egypt is now facing one of the biggest sandstorms of its political history. Rather than protecting the country from the impact of such storms, the Islamist leadership is using the dust to fight their perceived enemies.

Indeed, Egypt is hanging by a very brittle thread; the question is, who will step forth and save it? Or cut it?”

Nervana Mahmoud, Week 11, Egyptian Aak “When Fecklessness is an attitude”

fecklessness - feeble, ineffective, careless, irresponsible

Only one other person (as far as I see) mentioned ‘Social fabric’ of Egypt is Michael Wahid Hanna, but he did not say it as 

'Centuries old peaceful values'. He rather said 'On the contrary to general perception, Egypt's social fabric has potential for real sectarian strife.'

When Jews had to leave - I recall, some people mentioned how Alexandria was really cosmopolitan place, accepting all kind of presence of human groups - and it turned into something ‘lost eternally’ (will never come back). 

I don’t know why Muslim people or some of Muslim people have to sound victorious over it - with animosity - with enmity - 

what’s been there, and then what gets lost. 

And if people don’t miss what gets lost - what’s there then? 

I wish I know any literature or even IR/political science kind of book factually, actually, descriptively deal with this kind of changes, process. 

March 19, 2013, 8:56pm  0 notes



"According to the FSA commander, Abu Hilal was an infamous member of the shabiha in Aleppo — ghosts in Arabic, the term given to Assad’s paramilitary forces. The rebels claimed that Hilal was notorious in Aleppo, claiming he’d murdered or assisted in the killing of six people and raping a female student at Aleppo’s university. I wanted to ask Hilal about this at the time, but he was so mentally damaged from torture that you could have told him the sky was yellow and he would have agreed. I made this picture as he began to cower when more rebels piled into the room to view their prize: a member of the regime’s hated shabiha. Later in the night, I was kicked awake and told to come outside. In the back of the dark compound, I saw a large flatbed truck. As I looked closer, I realized it was a massive truck bomb — maybe 400 kg or more, covered with recently clipped pine branches. I pondered the operation and couldn’t figure out how they were going to get the truck to their target, one of the last Syrian army checkpoints north of Aleppo. I suddenly realized the rebels’ plan — to make Hilal drive the truck to the checkpoint after convincing him he was going to be traded in a prisoner exchange. I have seen numerous people die in battle, in hospitals from wounds in combat. It can be sad and traumatic, but there is a certain contract that fighters understand in battle — you kill or be killed. For me, though, this was different. I was watching a premeditated murder by rebels I shared food with and laughed with. They were not Islamist boogeymen. They were real estate agents, accountants, students, defected soldiers and nurses. And now they were deceiving and murdering a man who had already surrendered. The rebels later returned to the compound with downcast eyes. The bomb had failed to detonate remotely and Assad’s forces had captured Hilal. I have never heard any accounts of what happened to him, though I imagine showing up to a regime checkpoint with a giant bomb is probably a surefire way to get executed. I am reminded by this about the nature of war — it’s ability to make decent people with a noble and just cause capable of absolutely terrible things, mutating them through pain and desperation.”
— Bryan Denton


But then, actual pushers, planners, architects of this war - is seeing further away.
In a way, beyond Syria.  
Thing is - the current world has no intellect or thought corresponding to that. 
I am kind of doubting it will. (I know few or some got it. Thinking about further from further away. As ‘Strategist’ - and few some others - as peacemaker.) 
But will see. 

"According to the FSA commander, Abu Hilal was an infamous member of the shabiha in Aleppo — ghosts in Arabic, the term given to Assad’s paramilitary forces. The rebels claimed that Hilal was notorious in Aleppo, claiming he’d murdered or assisted in the killing of six people and raping a female student at Aleppo’s university. I wanted to ask Hilal about this at the time, but he was so mentally damaged from torture that you could have told him the sky was yellow and he would have agreed. I made this picture as he began to cower when more rebels piled into the room to view their prize: a member of the regime’s hated shabiha

Later in the night, I was kicked awake and told to come outside. In the back of the dark compound, I saw a large flatbed truck. As I looked closer, I realized it was a massive truck bomb — maybe 400 kg or more, covered with recently clipped pine branches. I pondered the operation and couldn’t figure out how they were going to get the truck to their target, one of the last Syrian army checkpoints north of Aleppo. I suddenly realized the rebels’ plan — to make Hilal drive the truck to the checkpoint after convincing him he was going to be traded in a prisoner exchange. 

I have seen numerous people die in battle, in hospitals from wounds in combat. It can be sad and traumatic, but there is a certain contract that fighters understand in battle — you kill or be killed. For me, though, this was different. I was watching a premeditated murder by rebels I shared food with and laughed with. They were not Islamist boogeymen. They were real estate agents, accountants, students, defected soldiers and nurses. And now they were deceiving and murdering a man who had already surrendered. 

The rebels later returned to the compound with downcast eyes. The bomb had failed to detonate remotely and Assad’s forces had captured Hilal. I have never heard any accounts of what happened to him, though I imagine showing up to a regime checkpoint with a giant bomb is probably a surefire way to get executed. I am reminded by this about the nature of war — it’s ability to make decent people with a noble and just cause capable of absolutely terrible things, mutating them through pain and desperation.”

— Bryan Denton

But then, actual pushers, planners, architects of this war - is seeing further away.

In a way, beyond Syria.  

Thing is - the current world has no intellect or thought corresponding to that. 

I am kind of doubting it will. (I know few or some got it. Thinking about further from further away. As ‘Strategist’ - and few some others - as peacemaker.) 

But will see. 

▸ [Fringe Egyptian Coptic activists made the film - to provoke Mulsim people protest on the streets ]

Apparently those (extreme and inexplicable?) Egyptian Coptic activists have been familiar figures to Egypt’s Coptic community. 

So when Salafists took to protest, Coptic Christians also took to the street:

The demonstrators were Coptic Christians, and they were there to denounce the stupid, incendiary we-hate-Muslims film allegedly produced by an Israeli Jew named Sam Bacile and promoted via the Internet by the self-styled Coptic-American activist Morris (or, as he sometimes calls himself, Maurice) Sadek. Sadek is well known for risible exaggeration about the proportion of Copts in the Egyptian population and clumsy attempts to exploit Islamophobia in the West to “help” his co-religionists in Egypt. That this film is also lauded by knuckle-dragging Florida evangelical Terry Jones — he of Qur’an-burning infamy — is telling in more ways than one.

And these strange fringe activists want to make Muslims look bad globally.

  1. So make a terrible movie about Islam
  2. Show to Muslim people
  3. Then Muslim people will take it to the street 
  4. The world sees Muslim people doing mob attacks (on US embassies)

There could be more behind this ‘plot’, but for this part - this explanation is kind of fitting and sufficient - for now. 

it is clear that the images that Sadek and his ilk want the world to see are those of Muslim protesters scaling the US Embassy walls and burning the American flag. (Copts, on the other hand, should only appear as victims.) The film they are hawking is grade-D agit-prop intended to instill hatred, not just of Muslims, but also in Muslims, and thereby fulfill its own prophecy of an inevitable clash of civilizations. There’s no quicker way to stir up these antipathies than to imply an Israeli connection, playing upon anger about Palestine (and, yes, some anti-Semitism) among people conditioned by decades of deceitful state media practices to see a “foreign hand” behind everything. In this project, they find willing de facto collaborators among salafis, who also take advantage of prejudice and poor education for their own purposes.

And the Copts of Egypt, who have long regarded Sadek with bemused contempt, are right in the middle of the whole toxic mess, forced by people with an Islamophobic agenda constantly to assert their patriotism and sense of belonging in Egypt, much as Muslims have to do in the United States.

(Source: http://egyptianchronicles.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-protest-that-everybody-ignored.html )

But then - it is also true that Coptic Christians not feeling very insecure in current/recent Egypt’s situation. (Recent wave of attacks) 



Source: merip.org

Sep 13, 2012, 2:30pm  0 notes      

▸ [Syria, Sunni-Alawite] Syrian Children Offer Glimpse of a Future of Reprisals - David D Kirkpatrick, NYTimes

Not sure the logic Professor Joshua Landis depicts - is really at the core drive of Alawite’s cruelty. (Because there is this legacy thing from previous generation - Hafez.) But it might be so. 

How and why the regime decided to start to use forceful repression - in that March/April 2011 in Daraa. We really don’t hear much about internal mechanism. (And we don’t question about them - about motives - at all. There is just this ‘manic regime’  - superficiality and labeling.)

ZAATARI, Jordan — Like all the small children in the desert refugee camp here, Ibtisam, 11, is eager to go home to the toys, bicycles, books, cartoons and classmates she left behind in Syria.

But not if that means living with Alawites, members of the same minority offshoot of Shiite Islam as Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad. “I hate the Alawites and the Shiites,” Ibtisam said as a crowd of children and adults nodded in agreement. “We are going to kill them with our knives, just like they killed us.”

If the fighters seeking to oust Mr. Assad sometimes portray their battle as a struggle for democracy, the Sunni Muslim children of the Zaatari camp tell a much uglier story of sectarian revenge. Asked for their own views of the grown-up battle that drove them from their homes, child after child brought up their hatred of the Alawites and a thirst for revenge. Children as young as 10 or 11 vowed never to play with Syrian Alawite children or even pledged to kill them.

Parroting older relatives — some of whom openly egged them on — the youngsters offered a disturbing premonition of the road ahead for Syria.

Their unvarnished hatred helps explain why so many Alawites, who make up more than 10 percent of the Syrian population, have stood by Mr. Assad even as the world has written him off. They see him as their best protection against sectarian annihilation.

The children’s refusal to share a playground or a classroom with Alawites dramatizes the challenge of ever putting together a political solution to the conflict. And the easy talk of blood and killing from such young children illustrates the psychic toll that the revolt and repression are taking on the next generation of Syrians.

“We hear it all the time from the kids, but also from the parents — that this is not political at all, and not a call for democracy, but is about people fed up and angry at rule by a minority, the Alawites,” said Saba al-Mobaslat, director for Jordan of the nonprofit group Save the Children, which provides toys to refugee children and tries to teach them understanding. “There is a concern that this is a whole generation that is being brought up to hate, that can’t see the other’s side.”

The roots of the animosity toward the Alawites from members of Syria’s Sunni Muslim majority, who make up about 75 percent of the population, run deep into history. During the 19th-century Ottoman Empire, the two groups lived in separate communities, and the Sunni majority so thoroughly marginalized Alawites that they were not even allowed to testify in court until after World War I.

Then, in a pattern repeated across the region, said Joshua Landis, a Syria scholar at the University of Oklahoma, French colonialists collaborated with the Alawite minority to control the conquered Syrian population — as colonialists did with Christians in Lebanon, Jews inPalestine and Sunni Muslims in Iraq. The French brought Alawites into the colony’s military to help control the Sunnis. And after Syria’s independence from France, the military eventually took control of the country, putting Alawites in top government positions, much to the resentment of the Sunni majority.

“Now the Alawites believe — possibly correctly — that the Sunnis are going to try to kill them, and that is why the Alawite Army now is killing Sunnis in this beastly way,” Professor Landis said. “The Alawites feel justified in brutality because they fear what may be in store for them if they lay down their guns.”

“I don’t see any way out of that,” he said, “except to say that we are in for a long, difficult ride, and you pray that the Syrians are going to get over this somehow.”

Read More»



Source: The New York Times

Sep 04, 2012, 4:24pm  2 notes      

▸ Ali al Shihabi: SYRIA: OUR SPANISH CIVIL WAR

To express some key things. About Assad regime. About Jihadis.

This kind of expression’s validity - I don’t know. But it appears sometimes.

Years ago, my late father told me a story about Rifaat Assad, the notorious family enforcer of the previous Assad generation. After the massacre of Hama in the early 1980s, the late King Khalid of Saudi Arabia was understandably outraged. Hafez Assad consequently sent his brother to meet with the king to try and “explain,” but the old king was in no mood to listen to any excuses. With his well-known bedouin bluntness, he heaped abuse on Rifaat for “not fearing God and killing the Muslims of Hama.” Rifaat swallowed the abuse and left. In the car to the airport, he turned to his government escort (who later recounted the story to my father) and told him, “We have the highest respect for His Majesty and appreciate his feelings, but you must understand that if we ever get threatened again, we will be willing to wipe out not only Hama but also Damascus.”
Plus ça change…!

The Assads will fight and fight hard. At the same time, the Jihadists are coming, drawn to the conflict like moths to a flame! They smell “victory” for the first time since the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. This time, unlike Iraq, they are fighting on the side of the majority population and will benefit, at least indirectly, from international support. They also smell the sweet scent of sectarian war, a quasi-orgasmic experience for people like them, and one where they expect to finally settle scores with the Shia and Iran. So, this party is unfortunately just beginning, and we had better fasten our seatbelts.



Source: alishihabi.com

Aug 11, 2012, 10:13pm  2 notes      

▸ [Egypt] Sectarian violence breaks out again in Egyptian village following death of Muslim man, Associated Press

In the end a report is written only by a person, and included US State Dept report can’t be guaranteed that it’s something thorough - still.

The group said often police prefer to let the Muslims act out their anger, believing that would eventually defuse the tension.

…raises an uneasiness/concern.

[…] Sayed Hamam, a 22-year old university student and resident of Dahshour, said security was heavily deployed in the village, and reconciliation attempts were under way to bring the Christians back. He said most have moved to a nearby village.

“We are very saddened,” he said. “We used to pride ourselves on how peacefully we lived together for years. We are considering it a big feud in one clan, not a Muslim-Christian fight.”

Hamam said the police and big families in the village are in talks with the local priest and the father of the killed resident to calm the tension.

The Coptic Christian laundry worker who threw the deadly firebombs, his father and brother have been detained and charged with premeditated murder and possession of explosives, the group said. Five Muslims involved in the violence are wanted in the case but have yet to be detained, it said.

[Ishak] Ibrahim of EIPR [Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights] said the response of the security forces to the rising tension in the village followed a pattern of inaction and ignoring warning signs.

“The signs of rising tension were there. Despite that, the security didn’t deal with it and didn’t protect the people and their properties. They didn’t do their job,” Ibrahim said. “It is rare that the village empties out of its Christians.”

The local priest told EIPR that the police arrived half an hour after the clashes erupted and did little to stop the looting and arson. The group said often police prefer to let the Muslims act out their anger, believing that would eventually defuse the tension.

Attempts by The Associated Press to reach the local priest were unsuccessful.

The violence came after the U.S. State Department said in its annual report on religious freedom in 2011 that Egypt’s government has failed to curb violence against the Christian minority and has at times itself been involved in the violence. It also criticized the government’s recurrent denial that the violence is sectarian in nature, often blaming it on criminal or family disputes.

“The government generally failed to investigate and prosecute effectively perpetrators of violence against Coptic Christians and continued to favor informal ‘reconciliation sessions,’ which generally precluded criminal prosecution for crimes against Copts and contributed to a climate of impunity that encouraged further assaults,” the report said.

The period covered by the report was well before Morsi was elected president. The year was highlighted by the overthrow of Mubarak in February and the assumption of power by the military. Morsi took office a month ago, but many of his powers have been usurped by the military.



Source: Washington Post

Aug 02, 2012, 7:49pm  2 notes      

▸ [Egypt] Morsi wants culprits in sectarian clashes punished; Church calls for end to violence against Copts - Al Ahram

Forced migration of Copts has also been reported in the past, following sectarian clashes over the past two years. The most recent example of the forced migration of Copts was reported to have taken place in January of this year in the town of Ameriya in Alexandria.

  • There have been cases of displacement of Coptic Christians (everytime violent clash happens, afterwards, local Christians become expelled.) 

If that’s the pattern - why that’s the pattern and how that can be prevented (or can’t be or shouldn’t be prevented) - I wonder. 

Investigation - but you are dealing with local residents (groups of people) and their ‘atmosphere’ etc. (Punishing individuals out of them could even stir up the situation.) 

  • Reconciliation - is also mentioned: (though most cases, I find these things don’t have any persistence) 

On Thursday, the Shura Council – the upper, consultative house of Egypt’s parliament – set up an eight-member committee tasked with reconciling Dahshur’s Muslim and Christian communities in a bid to pre-empt further violence.  

"This isn’t a fact-finding committee, it’s a reconciliation committee," Shura Council head Ahmed Fahmi was quoted as saying by Al-Ahram’s Arabic-language news website. "Our aim is to achieve reconciliation between the two sides rather than determining who the culprits were."

Associated Press’s journalist is promising a detailed report on this case (Dahshur) And there could be other detailed accounts. To know whether this is now something can be dealt with, can be placed under control somehow - or otherwise. 



Source: english.ahram.org.eg

Aug 02, 2012, 7:30pm  1 note      

▸ [Egypt] Sectarian violence breaks out again in Egyptian village following death of Muslim man, AP

But then - minorities relations in Egypt  

How was it before all this Western influence and colonialism? Then British, Nasser, then Sadat, Mubarak? etc. 

It’s such an important subject but - we are supposed to look at what’s happening now only, without any supply of actual context and key facts. Sectarianism is one of the key, crucial concern of our world - but ‘knowledge’ (and ‘methodology’) wise - we are not yet equipped at all. Crude politics (and crude arguments).

Alexandria was a cosmopolitan place. It was different from Cairo. That’s what I read from one Egyptian Jewish person’s recollection. 

Not even only managing minorities relations of Middle East, the place was open to influences from outside of Middle East (thus, Europe) and had totally different vibe. (But 1948 changes all that)

That something is lost and never going to come back - 

Nah. It’s still around and it will come back more. But - we are just methodologically so retarded on this. (Gonna have to grind it hard.) 

Sectarian violence breaks out again in Egyptian village following death of Muslim man, August 1st 2012, AP

CAIRO — New sectarian violence erupted in a village near Cairo Wednesday following the death of a Muslim man, prompting all the local Christians to flee, church and security officials said.

Tensions flare frequently between Egypt’s majority Muslims and minority Christians, but clashes rarely result in such a flight of an entire Christian community, about 100 families, said Ishak Ibrahim, who monitors religious freedom in Egypt for the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).

The violence in Dahshour, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Cairo, is the first case of sectarian clashes in the weeks since Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood took over as president. The election of an Islamist heightened fears among Egypt’s Christian and other minorities that their rights would be curtailed, and that they might become targets of extremist Muslim attacks.

The deposed regime of Hosni Mubarak kept a tight lid on Islamists. Since his overthrow a year and a half ago, violence against Christians has taken a turn for the worse, including violence by security forces.

About 10 percent of Egypt’s mainly Muslim 82 million people are Christian.

Security officials said police fired tear gas early Wednesday at angry Muslims who were trying to set fire to the local church. The rioters, who were returning from the burial of a Muslim man who died in the clashes, damaged several Christian properties and set three police trucks on fire.

Sixteen people, including 10 policemen, were injured, said the security officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release information to reporters.

The local Giza Archbishop’s office said in a statement that the Christian families fled the village fearing further attacks from Muslims.

The rioters “broke the church’s windows, and doors of homes nearby,” the statement said. While security forces prevented a further attack on the church, the rioters “looted and torched the shops (of Christians), including a jewelry shop … and terrorized the local community, forcing them to leave their homes.”

Sectarian violence first erupted in Dahshour on Friday following an argument between a Christian laundry worker and his client, a Muslim, whose shirt he burned. The Muslim man and friends went to the Christian’s home to continue the argument, provoking the Christian to lob firebombs at the crowd gathering outside his home, EIPR said, quoting witness accounts.

The firebombs injured a bystander who died Tuesday of his wounds, further aggravating tensions. A group of Muslims tried to attack the local church, but other Muslims protected it until security forces arrived and dispersed the mob, EIPR said.

Sayed Hamam, a 22-year old university student and resident of Dahshour, said security was heavily deployed in the village, and reconciliation attempts were under way to bring the Christians back. He said most have moved to a nearby village.

“We are very saddened,” he said. “We used to pride ourselves on how peacefully we lived together for years. We are considering it a big feud in one clan, not a Muslim-Christian fight.”

Hamam said the police and big families in the village are in talks with the local priest and the father of the killed resident to calm the tension.

The Coptic Christian laundry worker who threw the deadly firebombs, his father and brother have been detained and charged with premeditated murder and possession of explosives, the group said. Five Muslims involved in the violence are wanted in the case but have yet to be detained, it said.

Ibrahim of EIPR said the response of the security forces to the rising tension in the village followed a pattern of inaction and ignoring warning signs.

“The signs of rising tension were there. Despite that, the security didn’t deal with it and didn’t protect the people and their properties. They didn’t do their job,” Ibrahim said. “It is rare that the village empties out of its Christians.”

The local priest told EIPR that the police arrived half an hour after the clashes erupted and did little to stop the looting and arson. The group said often police prefer to let the Muslims act out their anger, believing that would eventually defuse the tension.

Attempts by The Associated Press to reach the local priest were unsuccessful.

The violence came after the U.S. State Department said in its annual report on religious freedom in 2011 that Egypt’s government has failed to curb violence against the Christian minority and has at times itself been involved in the violence. It also criticized the government’s recurrent denial that the violence is sectarian in nature, often blaming it on criminal or family disputes.

“The government generally failed to investigate and prosecute effectively perpetrators of violence against Coptic Christians and continued to favor informal ‘reconciliation sessions,’ which generally precluded criminal prosecution for crimes against Copts and contributed to a climate of impunity that encouraged further assaults,” the report said.

The period covered by the report was well before Morsi was elected president. The year was highlighted by the overthrow of Mubarak in February and the assumption of power by the military. Morsi took office a month ago, but many of his powers have been usurped by the military.



Source: Washington Post

Aug 02, 2012, 12:33am  0 notes      

▸ [Egypt] A Salafist Appointed as Minister of Mosque Regulation and Preacher License. Egypt's Sufi, Moderates react. Ahram Online

This can be scary. Though have to watch how it develops. (Or it bound to lead to tension and collision.) 

Point: One idea here is Egypt’s Brotherhood is capable of embracing Salafi/Wahabi doctrines. 

And if Brotherhood and Salafi unleash their spontaneous momentum - they could try at Al Azhar. I don’t know it gets to that stage - or it takes more of ‘politics’ before such drastic thing can take place. 

News that Salafist Mohamed Ibrahim has been chosen as Minister of Awqaf evokes fear of threats to Egypt’s moderate religious identity; critics say he was picked because of his strong relations to MB leader, Khairat El-Shater

A number of religious and political figures expressed their discontent with the appointment of Mohamed Yosri Ibrahim as minister of religious endowments – Awqaf – in the new cabinet, voicing fears that this heralds an imposition of Wahabbism, a Saudi-influenced conservative form of Islam.

According to a statement issued by a number of Sufis and moderate religious groups, the choice of Ibrahim, a member of the Salafist Call, to head the Ministry of Awqaf will negatively influence Egypt cultural and religious identity. The ministry regulates mosques and is responsible for the issuing of licenses to preachers.

In the statement the groups stressed that their efforts in fending off what they saw as a Wahhabi influence will not be limited to statements. They further accused Ibrahim of denying doctrines of Al-Azhar in his writing. Al-Azhar is widely perceived as a moderate religious institute, and the main centre of Islamic education in the world.

Mohamed Ibrahim who received his PhD from Al-Azhar revealed on Friday on his official twitter account that he accepted to head the Ministry of Awqaf following a meeting with newly appointed prime minister Hisham Qandil.

Qandil has indicated that the new cabinet will be announced on Thursday.

Islamist liberal activist Ibrahim El-Hodaiby also used his Facebook page to express his disapproval, pointing out that Ibrahim had failed to win a seat the parliamentary elections last winter when he was running on the list of Al-Asala Salafist party.

El-Hodaiby further claimed that Ibrahim’s presence in both the Constituent Assembly and now his appointment as Minister of Awqaf are due to his strong relations with one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s leading figures.

Meanwhile, Ibrahim used Twitter to deny claims that he won the post because of his good relations with highly influential Muslim Brotherhood figure Khairat El-Shater.

El-Hodaiby also accused Ibrahim of dressing in the garb of Al-Azhar scholars, fooling people that he is a moderate man, while in fact he fights its principles and embraces Salafist ideologies.

Ibrahim confirmed his respect for the entity of Al-Azhar and the role it played in his own education, adding that sectarian differences does not mean disrespect of the other.

Former MP Mohamed Abu Hamed, known for his anti-Islamist stance, slammed the news of Ibrahim’s appointment describing it as a proof of the Muslim Brotherhood’s embrace of Wahhabi thinking. He predicted Wahhabi preaching will spread in mosques across Egypt, and that Wahhabi Islam does not believe in democracy and can only rule with the enforcement of fascist dictatorship.

Meanwhile, a member of the dissolved parliament Mostafa Al-Naggar who defeated Ibrahim in the last parliamentary elections congratulated him for the new post on his twitter account.

In 2011, Ibrahim was one of many Salafist preachers who claimed that a woman Camilia Shehata was kidnapped by the church for converting to Islam, feeding sectarian tensions. Salafists led a number of protests demanding the release of Shehata who later gave a televised interview refuting any claims that she had converted.



Source: english.ahram.org.eg

Jul 28, 2012, 8:41pm  0 notes      

▸ [Syria: Difficult future for Alawites?] - GlobalPost

A telling depiction of what Alawites might face. 

“I will be frank and say some members did big mistakes, Allawite members of the group killing Sunni youth, which pushed many people to be against us,” Basil said.

The regime’s “spawning of militias” as one analyst put it, has also driven a wedge between Assad and members of his army, with increasing numbers of officers not only defecting but speaking out against the shabiha, the regime’s loyalist militias.

“There is clear, mutual hatred between the soldiers and shabiha,” an army officer told Reuters in a recent interview. “All those things you see in the media have nothing to do with us – the random killings, stealing … Inside their neighborhoods, the shabiha are in charge.”

Even among the most loyal Allawites, Assad’s policies are now being seen by some as an existential threat to their sect.

“This civil war will destroy everything and Allawites will pay a big price,” said a former member of a shabiha militia loyal to the Assad family, speaking from a village near Lattakia. “What’s the point of running the country for 40 years if we return to hard times for hundreds of years to come?”

The man, who asked to be known only as Abu Haidar, told a GlobalPost reporter he had refused to re-join the shabiha when friends demanded, saying he would not shoot at Sunni protesters.

Many Allawite residents now dread the militias that dominate their streets as much as they fear retribution from enraged Sunni neighbors.

“We are between a rock and a hard place. After all the killings I am against the Assad regime, but I must live among my community to get protection,” Haidar, a 40-year-old lawyer told a GlobalPost reporter in an Allawite neighborhood of Homs recently. “I think the Allawite have no future in Homs if Assad goes. The Sunnis will not forget what the shabiha did, killing their sons and women.”



Jul 19, 2012, 1:06pm  4 notes      

▸ Saudi Arabia’s Shiite Problem - Toby Matthiesen, Foreign Policy [March 7 2012]

The behavior of the Saudi leadership only allows the conclusion that repression of the Shiites is a fundamental part of Saudi political legitimacy. The state does not want to change the position of the Shiites and Shiite protests are used by the state to frighten the Sunni population of an Iranian takeover of the oilfields with the help of local Shiites. Similar narratives have been propagated in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) media for months, at the cost of further deepening the sectarian divide in the Gulf States. The GCC intervention in Bahrain has severely worsened sectarian relations in the Gulf and beyond to levels not seen since the Iranian Revolution. But this open Saudi sectarianism has already had negative repercussions in Iraq, as well as in Syria, Lebanon, and Kuwait. Bahrain looks set for years of sectarian conflict, community relations have broken down completely, and the state is conducting a campaign of what Shiite activists call “ethnic cleansing.”

Rather than completely alienating the Shiites, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain should negotiate a social contract with them. Failing to do so will lead to years of instability with uncertain outcomes. And it is far from certain that other Saudis will not be encouraged by the Shiite protests, as a recent statement by liberal Saudis from all over the kingdom denouncing the crackdown in Qatif has shown.

The West should press its allies, above all Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, to stop simply shooting and arresting their Shiite citizens and brandishing them as Iranian agents and traitors. The alienation of Shiite youth foments a perfect breeding ground for a new Gulf Shiite opposition movement and plays into the hands of the Iranian regime. Even without external help for the local Shiite protesters, the area looks ripe for a return to the tense sectarian politics of the 1980s. The United States should in its own, and in the Gulf States’, interest push for a real reconciliation between the Shiites of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and their governments. Otherwise, sectarianism will come to dominate the Gulf, to the detriment of all.

He has newest piece on last week’s arrest/capture of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr here:

Saudi Arabia’s Shiite escalation 

But I think analyses contained in this previous piece are more grounding - and insightful.



Source: mideast.foreignpolicy.com

Jul 11, 2012, 12:51am  5 notes      

▸ [Reported] Mali Islamists destroy tombs at famous Timbuktu mosque [Unesco World Heritage site, Djingareyber mosque]

(Reuters) - Islamist militants destroyed two tombs on Tuesday at the famous 14th century Djingareyber mosque in Timbuktu, classified by UNESCO as a world heritage site, residents said.

About a dozen militants arrived in an armored four-wheel drive truck, armed with pickaxes and hoes. They fired in the air to intimidate people and started smashing the tombs, said Ibrahim Cisse, who witnessed the scene.

"They blocked the two main roads leading to the mausoleums. When they saw people gathering for a ceremony nearby, they began firing shots in the air," said another resident, Mahamad ould Ibrahim.

The new destruction comes after attacks last week on other historic and religious landmarks in Timbuktu that UNESCO called “wanton destruction”.

Islamists of the Ansar Dine group say the centuries-old shrines of the local Sufi version of Islam are idolatrous.

Ansar Dine and well-armed allies, including al Qaeda splinter group MUJWA, have hijacked a separatist uprising by local Tuareg MNLA rebels and now control two-thirds of Mali’s desert north, territory that includes the regions of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu.

They have destroyed at least eight of 16 listed mausoleums in the city, together with a number of tombs and a sacred door at Sidi Yahya mosque, in their campaign to erase traces of what they regard as un-Islamic idolatry.

According to UNESCO, Djingareyber, together with the Sankore and Sidi Yahia mosques, are known as the three great mosques of the city. Djingareyber was built by the sultan Kankan Moussa after his return in 1325 from a pilgrimage to Mecca.

New round of destruction reported.

While southern Mali government still not even in shape

and the push for UN intervention (Ecowas force) appearing to be slowing down.



Source: reuters.com

Jul 10, 2012, 10:45pm  0 notes      

▸ [Syria] Syrian opposition meeting [in Cairo] devolves into fisticuffs - AYA BATRAWY BEN HUBBARD - Associated Press, Reuters, The Globe and Mail,

It is just painful.

And this makes me think there should be more focused coverage (and professional/academic deliberation) on why so fractious - Syrian politics or sectarian sentiment is.

  • What kind of recognition and promise Kurdish issue might be able to get 
  • Antipathy between NCB and Syrian brotherhood

Unity - unified opposition - and even non-violence. Former goal has been mentioned in thousands of articles, and the latter - at least 10 or 20. 

But how deep, how difficult, how mutually suspicious or exclusive - Syrian factions are - there are only superficial accounts. (Though reading literatures about conflicts in Lebanon etc suffices - gives you enough imagination - but still. If this is something Syrian oppositions just need to conquer  - there should be solid and real coverages on this issue - and international attention must be paid to it - first. So that something next will take place even a little faster.) 

The two largest opposition groups at the meeting distrust each other. Members of the Syrian National Council accused the Syrian National Coordination Body, known as the NCB, of being too close to the regime. For its part, the NCB accuses the SNC of being a front for the Muslim Brotherhood and Western powers.

A Syrian Kurdish group quit the meeting, apparently because the conference rejected a motion to include recognition of the Kurds in the draft, sparking mayhem and cries of “scandal, scandal” from some delegates. Women wept as men traded blows, and staff of the hotel used for the meeting hurriedly removed tables and chairs as the scuffles spread.

“Thousands of martyrs and they can’t unite?” said Thaer Al-Hajy, part of a group called the Syrian Revolution Coordination Union. “We are sitting here in hotels and they are down there dying.”



Source: The Globe and Mail

Jul 04, 2012, 11:28pm  0 notes      

▸ [Syria] U.S. must arm Syria rebels despite Islamists: opposition [demands], Reuters

Sheikh [Mustafa al-Sheikh, a general in the Free Syrian Army] said he was not convinced of the reasons that Washington is giving for not supplying weapons.

The United States and Israel, he said, were grappling with the possibility of a more assertive replacement to the Assad family. He noted that the Golan Heights - a Syrian border area occupied by Israel in 1967 - had been largely quiet in recent decades under Assad and his father, Hafez al-Assad, from whom he inherited power 12 years ago.

Assad’s Alawite minority, an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam, has dominated the majority Sunni Muslim country of 21 million people for the last five decades via the army and secret police.

"The United States, Israel and other world powers have calculated their interest in the region the last five decades based on minority rule in Syria," said Sheikh who is based at a camp set up by Turkey for defecting officers on the Syrian border.

"Washington does not want to risk a Sunni ascendancy by supporting the Syrian revolution, even as Assad continues his bloodbath and gets more support from Iran," said Sheikh.



Source: mobile.reuters.com

Jul 01, 2012, 2:40pm  1 note      

▸ Rebel-held town in northern Syria struggles to keep army out, avoid sectarian strife -Washington Post

Situation of Maaret Misreenin in Idlib province (Northern Syria, where rebels have more control) - and how towns people (Sunni) efforts have been preventing them from sacked into ongoing escalation. But how that might not last very long. 

In March, the army shelled the city for two days, killing five people. Afterward, Mamaar helped negotiate a deal in which the rebels removed their checkpoints in exchange for calm. The army hasn’t come back since.

“We worked hard to make that happen, and the village hasn’t been ruined. So I feel we achieved something,” said an opposition writer, Khatib Badli, who served as intermediary between the regime and the town. He also guessed that the army is easier on the town because about 15 percent of its residents are Shiite and it doesn’t want to harm them. […]

The uprising has affected Mamaar’s own views of Shiites in nearby villages. He regularly calls them “liars” and says the regime is arming them to work as shabiha — pro-government thugs that violently suppress protests.

He also accuses them of being loyal to Iran, suggesting they would choose to go to that Shiite country if Assad falls.

“I think it’s better if they don’t stay in the area,” he said.

Reached by phone, a prominent Shiite from one of those villages had some words of his own for those who oppose Assad.

“Those people aren’t revolutionaries. They are troublemakers and traders in blood,” said Zein al-Deen Taalib, 48.

He said many in his village of Fua served in the army and that they set up checkpoints for their own protection. He praised the Syrian army for doing its “sacred duty” and called Assad “the one real leader in the Arab world.”

Echoing the regime line, he blamed the uprising on armed gangs backed by foreign powers trying to destroy the country.

“If I were a Sunni, I’d stand in the market in Maaret Misreen and kill them,” Taalib said, noting that because he’s a Shiite, a minority in Syria, he has to be more careful.

Many worry that violence between the communities will spread.



Jun 26, 2012, 9:42am  0 notes