By Emma Teitel - Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 0 Comments
With the Muslim Brotherhood government in charge, head scarves are back on TV
Head scarves have returned to mainstream Egyptian life for the first time in 50 years.
The Arab Spring may have deposed dictators and ushered in free and fair elections, but increasingly, women in the Arab world worry the uprising’s link to fundamentalist Islam will render their new-found freedoms irrelevant, particularly in Egypt. This month, its Muslim Brotherhood government made history when a female newscaster, Fatma Nabil, appeared on state-run TV in an Islamic head scarf for the first time in 50 years—to some, another sign of Egypt’s steady shift to conservative Islam.
Women were barred from delivering news wearing a hijab during Hosni Mubarak’s reign. But the government of new President Mohamed Morsi—whose wife, Naglaa Ali Mahmoud, wears a head covering that flows past her waist—has reversed that ban. Some welcome the move: why shouldn’t Muslim women be permitted to do their jobs and uphold their beliefs at the same time? Others are not so enthused. Sally Zohney, a member of the women’s rights movement Baheya Ya Masr, fears a growing faction of TV viewers will “believe this is how a woman should look like in order to be respectful or modest.” She adds, “This is what is scary. I’m against discrimination completely, but that does not mean society should start harassing non-veiled girls.”
By Michael Petrou - Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 7:37 PM - 0 Comments
In Cairo tonight, several hundred protesters gathered outside the headquarters of the Shura Council, Egypt’s upper house of Parliament, to voice their fears that Egypt’s Islamist-dominated Constituent Assembly is creating a constitution that will roll back personal freedoms and especially oppress women.
A draft of the proposed constitution would limits women’s rights to those that do not conflict with the Islamist members’ interpretation of Muslim law.
Many on the streets tonight were also at Tahrir Square during the massive demonstrations that eventually toppled former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak last year. Some were still proud that their revolution had made it possible for them to continue to dissent so loudly. But most were also angry and frustrated that a renewed fight was necessary against a Muslim Brotherhood-led government that was born from their struggle against Mubarak’s dictatorship more than a year ago. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 4:48 PM - 0 Comments
David Akin reports details of the conversation between the Prime Minister and Vladimir Putin during last weekend’s summit.
But none of this will surprise Russian President Vladimir Putin who as much warned Prime Minister Stephen Harper during their one-on-one meeting in Vladivostok on the weekend that the West should expect this kind of thing for “instigating” mobs in Egypt and Libya. According to officials in the room with the two men, Putin said Harper and other Western leaders are acting like “Trotskyites” – that was Putin’s line — for exporting revolution and promoting instability.
I’m not sure how Putin connects the dots between Stephen Harper and Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky, but Putin’s basic point to Harper was that Western leaders were being dangerously naive by meddling in the affairs of the dictators of the Middle East.
By Paul Wells - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 11:25 PM - 0 Comments
One of the unnoticed footnotes to the crisis in Libya and Egypt that threatens to rock the U.S. presidential election is the reaction of Canadian political parties to the events of Tuesday and Wednesday. From the government: John Baird says Canada “strongly condemns and deeply regrets yesterday’s senseless attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.” From the NDP: Paul Dewar says New Democrats “unequivocally condemn this brutal and senseless act of terrorism.” From the Liberals, over the signature of Bob Rae: “We condemn this violent attack against the American mission, and support the Libyan government in its efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
There is nothing in any of the three main parties’ statements to match the subordinate clause that begins this sentence from U.S. President Barack Obama’s statement today: “While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.”
An NDP spokesman was cross with me when I pointed out today on Twitter that there was no reference to “efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others” in the NDP statement. Nobody’s statement included such language, a transparent reference to the amateurish film that many rioters in Benghazi and Cairo are citing as a provocation. The NDP guy meant the NDP statement was identical to the Liberals’ and the Conservatives, and that’s true. But indeed I cannot find any such reference to denigrating others’ beliefs in the statements from David Cameron, François Hollande, and Germany’s foreign minister. Continue…
By Nancy Macdonald - Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 3:17 PM - 0 Comments
The instability that follows Assad’s fall will be felt far beyond Syria
The brazen, mid-morning bombing that struck Syria’s military command on July 18, taking the lives of several of Bashar al-Assad’s top advisers, may not have killed the Syrian president himself, but it is hard to believe he will survive the fallout. That stunning blow was quickly followed by a massive rebel assault on the capital, Damascus, the defections of several key generals and, this week, even the prime minister.
If Assad is toppled, his demise will be roundly cheered. But the consequences will be profound, and will echo beyond Syria, affecting the region’s volatile conflicts, those involving al-Qaeda—whose jihadists are now converging on Damascus—Lebanon, Palestine and Iran.
Sectarian bloodletting is possible in Syria. Lebanon and Iraq, with their complex divides—which know no borders—could easily be sucked in. Violence could drag in Israel.
That makes this Arab Spring revolt so different from Tunisia, Libya, even Egypt. The fight is not playing out in some corner of North Africa but in the heart of the Middle East. Syria’s revolt could be a game-changer. Syria, for decades a key player in the region’s geopolitical games, now finds itself a staging point for the ancient struggle between Sunni and Shia Islam, a fight currently playing out in Aleppo in northwestern Syria between Assad’s Shia loyalists and the Saudi-backed Sunni opposition.
Syria may be on the brink—Assad can no longer trust even his closest advisers. But the real fight has only just begun.
Here’s our nifty infographic that illustrates the ripple effects of instability in Syria in the Middle East and beyond. Click on the image below to open up the full-size graphic:
By macleans.ca - Sunday, June 24, 2012 at 11:34 AM - 0 Comments
With 51.73 per cent of the vote, Mohammed Mursi has been named the winner…
With 51.73 per cent of the vote, Mohammed Mursi has been named the winner of presidential elections in Egypt.
Judge Farouq Sultan said his panel gave close examination to election complaints. “There is nothing above the law,” he said, as reported by BBC News.
Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood candidate celebrated in Tahrir Square in Cairo.
The final tally:
- Mursi won 13,230,131 votes.
- Former PM Ahmed Shafiq won 12,347,380, or 48.27 per cent of the vote.
Related stories by Michael Petrou of Maclean’s:
- Egypt: A coup, and the seeds of a new revolution (June 18, 2012)
- Elections in Egypt: The Arab Spring for this? (June 14, 2012)
- One giant leap for democracy in Egypt (Michael Petrou, May 23, 2012)
By Gustavo Vieira - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 5:30 AM - 0 Comments
Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has been reportedly taken off life support and is…
Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has been reportedly taken off life support and is in a coma, adding more tension to Egypt’s delicate political situation.
Results of the recent presidential election are only to be confirmed by Egypt’s election commission on Thursday, but the campaigns of Mubarak’s former prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohammed Morsi, both claim they won.
According to the Guardian newspaper, “no matter who [the commission] names as victor, his rival is likely to reject the result as a fraud.”
More than 50,000 protesters gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square Tuesday night to protest a move by Egypt’s military last week to overpower the next president. Supported by a decision from a court of judges appointed by Mubarak, generals dissolved the Muslim Brotherhood dominated Parliament, imposing a new interim constitution which gives the military broad powers to draft a new permanent constitution.
From the New York Times:
Mr. Mubarak’s lawyer told CNN on Tuesday that his wife, Suzanne Mubarak, was by his side, and he expressed anger that Egypt’s military rulers had not moved him to the hospital sooner.
It will be their responsibility “if he dies,” the lawyer said.
In Tahrir Square, the news of Mr. Mubarak’s health was met with familiar doubts. “They say Mubarak really died,” said Hatem Moustafa, 22. “Maybe this time it is really true.”
But he was not convinced. “I think the military council is saying this so that we will leave Tahrir Square,” Mr. Moustafa said. “They would say anything to get us to leave the Square.”
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 7:48 PM - 0 Comments
Egypt’s state news agency is reporting that Hosni Mubarak is clinically dead.
Egypt’s state news agency is reporting that Hosni Mubarak is clinically dead.
“Former president Hosni Mubarak has clinically died following his arrival at Maadi military hospital on Tuesday evening,” MENA is quoted as saying. “Mubarak’s heart stopped beating and was subjected to a defibrillator several times but did not respond.”
Just more than two weeks ago, Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the deaths of protesters during the early days of uprising in 2011.
By Michael Petrou - Monday, June 18, 2012 at 2:39 PM - 0 Comments
Moves by Egypt’s ruling military council to dissolve the country’s elected parliament and grant itself sweeping legislative powers — including stripping the president of any control over the army — have justifiably been described as a coup d’état. They are also an enormous blunder.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces retained control of the country following last year’s uprising in Tahrir Square that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak. The military threw its leader under the bus to preserve its power. Yet many Egyptians, at least initially, believed a transition to democracy was under way. This is what the military had promised, and unlike in other Middle Eastern dictatorships, the Egyptian army commanded broad credibility and affection.
Egyptian novelist Ahdaf Soueif — a left-leaning liberal — seemed genuinely conflicted when I asked her whether she and other Egyptian revolutionaries had trusted the army too much.
“Yes. Of course,” she said, during a phone interview in April. And then: “I can’t give you one answer that I’m totally confident with and that I will stand by next week.” The Egyptian army is a people’s army, she said. Everyone has a relative who serves in it. So trusting them was “optimistic, but it wasn’t stupid.”
It wasn’t stupid. Forcing a confrontation with the army last February would have meant more bloodshed when it wasn’t obvious that further sacrifices were necessary. But it’s now clear that the Egyptian people’s army has betrayed the Egyptian people. Its blunder is in also underestimating them. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, June 14, 2012 at 6:30 PM - 0 Comments
A return to the Mubarak era—or Sharia law? That’s the choice facing voters in Egypt’s presidential runoff
Despite all the deaths and injuries during demonstrations that brought democracy to Egypt, and despite nationwide votes in parliamentary elections and the first round of a presidential poll, the choice Egyptians now face in the election’s final round on June 16 and 17 is between the two forces that dominated Egypt before the Arab Spring bloomed: the Muslim Brotherhood and a military-backed autocracy.
The two candidates contesting this week’s runoff vote are Ahmed Shafik, a former air force commander and Mubarak’s last prime minister, and Mohamed Morsi, candidate for the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party.
By macleans.ca - Saturday, June 2, 2012 at 10:11 AM - 0 Comments
Hosni Mubarak, the former president of Egypt, was sentenced to life in prison Saturday…
Hosni Mubarak, the former president of Egypt, was sentenced to life in prison Saturday for “pre-meditated crimes” that led to the death of more than 800 unarmed protesters last year.
The 84-year-old Arab leader, on a gurney inside the defendants’ cage, did not react as Judge Ahmed Rifaat’s described the “30 years of intense darkness” that inspired 18 days of uprising in February 2011:
“The peaceful sons of the homeland came out of every deep ravine with all the pain they experienced from injustice, heartbreak, humiliation and oppression. … Bearing the burden of their suffering on their shoulders, they moved peacefully toward Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt’s capital, demanding only justice, freedom and democracy.”
News agencies in Egypt are reporting after the sentencing Mubarak suffered a “health crisis” en route to Torah prison in Cairo.
Writing in the days before the sentencing, Peter Goodspeed of the National Post suggested the outcome was unlikely to bring any sense of closure to Egypt:
“The shock of seeing the former president in a prisoner’s cage, even though he lay on a hospital bed and said little during his trial other than to acknowledge his presence, rattled Egypt to its core. Whatever the verdict, it may re-ignite another round of street demonstrations, just as the campaign for the presidential run-off vote, scheduled for June 16 and June 17, gets underway.”
The verdict brought thousands of Egyptians to the streets, Reuters reports: “Some wanted Mubarak executed, some feared the judge’s ruling exposed weakness in the case that could let the former military man off on appeal.”
Writing for the New York Times, David Kirkpatrick explains that while the ruling establishes no leader is above the law, it also acknowledged that prosecutors had presented no proof that Mubarak or his aides had directly ordered the killing of protesters.
Click here to read Michael Petrou on the transformation of Egypt since Mubarak’s overthrow in February 2011.
By Michael Petrou - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 11:36 AM - 0 Comments
Despite the arrests and suppression of dissent, the current presidential race shows how far the country has come
Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow last February, following massive protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, was stunning in its seemingly definitive resolution: the people rose up; the dictator stepped down.
In reality what was accomplished was more of a leadership shuffle than a political transformation. Mubarak was gone. But the military, through the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), held on to power, as it has since ousting the monarchy more than 50 years ago.
“The revolution has so far managed to get rid of the dictator but not the dictatorship,” Maikel Nabil Sanad, an Egyptian activist and blogger, wrote last March in an essay titled “The army and the people were never one hand” (which skewered the Tahrir chant “The army and the people—one hand”). The essay promptly got him arrested and sentenced by a military court to a three-year prison term for “insulting the armed forces.” Sanad was pardoned and released this January, after some 300 days in jail, including more than 100 on a hunger strike. He is one of more than 12,000 Egyptians convicted in military tribunals since Mubarak’s departure—all evidence of the gulf between what seemed within reach during the revolution and what has in fact changed.
By Michael Petrou - Friday, April 20, 2012 at 3:59 PM - 0 Comments
Read my interview here.
By Michael Petrou - Friday, April 20, 2012 at 3:00 PM - 0 Comments
In her new book the novelist chronicles 18 days last January, when Egyptians were the people they wanted to be
When crowds seized Cairo’s Tahrir Square last January, Egyptian novelist Ahdaf Soueif threw herself into the revolution that would, after 18 days, force president Hosni Mubarak from power and ignite hopes that freedom would finally come to the Arab world’s most populous and important nation. Soueif has chronicled those days in a new book, Cairo: My City, Our Revolution. Today, more than a year later, the military still runs the country, and democracy is a yet unrealized dream. Soueif spoke with Maclean’s from Cairo. She will be speaking at the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival in Montreal on Saturday and at the Ottawa International Writers Festival on Sunday.
Q: You write that you wanted this book to be an intervention, rather than just a record of what happened. What did you mean?
A: I felt it was very important to remember the 18 days as a true lived experience. They were going to be like a talisman. It was clear that a time was coming when people would be saying: “Did that really happen? Were you not all suffering from some sort of delusion?” And I thought it was important to have that there, to keep going back to, and to see as an early manifestation of the society that we ultimately hope to bring about.
Q: Why did you want to hold on to those 18 days? What was so special about them for you?
A: There was such a deep sense of altruism, and there was a deep sense of common purpose. And part of the purpose was to be who we really were. So yes of course it was about removing the regime, and yes of course it was about righting the wrongs that were being done in our society. But it was also about being a certain way with each other. I know because of what we’re going through now that it is tremendously important to remember that we actually lived the way we wanted to live and were the people we wanted to be for 18 days.
Q: How much of that altruism, that unity, is there in Egypt today?
A: People are insistent. Whatever happens at the level of political parties and the army, they’re going to continue working on the ground, and that’s what’s going to create change.
Q: Do you think you and some of the other revolutionaries misjudged or had too much confidence in the goodwill of the army?
A: We weren’t able to come up with a body that was strong enough to say to the army: “You’re not in charge; we’re in charge.” Having failed to do that, what option did we have other than to trust the army? I’d say it’s completely understandable that we should trust the army, because the army has a history of refusing to attack the Egyptian people. It’s a people’s army. Everybody has a husband, a father, a son in it. So it was not illogical and it was not stupid to trust them. It was optimistic, but it wasn’t stupid.
With hindsight, we shouldn’t have left the streets. We should have stayed. But you stay because you demand something specific. We knew that the common denominator was broad: get rid of Mubarak; we don’t want corruption; we want freedom and human rights. But there was no mechanism to arrive at a common set of concrete demands.
By Paul Wells - Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 11:58 PM - 0 Comments
Fascinating development at the trial of 43 pro-democracy NGO staffers in Egypt, including members of the American democracy-promotion agencies NDI and IRI: the judges have withdrawn from the case, forcing the regime to appoint new judges and start the trial again, if it can. The reason for the judges’ withdrawal: “The court felt uneasiness,” the now-former lead judge said. Which is precisely what one would have hoped they’d feel.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is in talks to have the whole trial called off. I persist in thinking Egypt is more important than any of its Arab neighbours to the future of the Middle East, because of Egypt’s size, its historical role in the region, its border with Israel. And while a lot of observers have been tempted to write Egypt off since last year’s pro-democracy uprising, to me the signals, while constantly worrying, are more mixed. The NGO trial looks, for all the world, as though it’s taking place in a complex society. With its share of good guys and gals, who could use a hand.
By Sally Armstrong - Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 10:50 AM - 0 Comments
The crowds were sparse, but hope remains in Tahrir square
It has all the trappings of a circus—tents with guy wires, wagons of fast food, green tea, trinkets and Egyptian flags being hawked to families with small children. The only item missing is the crowd at Tahrir Square on Feb. 11, the anniversary of the fall of former president Hosni Mubarak and the day the protesters have called for a national public strike. A year ago, more than a million Egyptians massed at the square and accomplished what everyone in the world thought impossible: they tossed out the bully who’d been controlling them for 30 years. But now, with Mubarak in a sickbed in jail, and after the first free elections in Egypt’s history and just months before a presidential election, the sun is setting on Tahrir Square and its famous 18-day protest.
Egyptians may well be biding their time, poised to come together again, but like the players in a chess game they are waiting for the government, a.k.a. the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, to make the next move. The military had gained their adoration for seemingly supporting the people during the uprising a year ago, but are now the hated remnants of the old regime that continue to rule the country. Still, it’s the diehards and the discontents who are here on Tahrir Square on this anniversary, punching their placards into the air, shouting their slogans, leading the sparse crowd in the old battle cries: “Those who chant will never die,” and, “We will not be quiet.”
Marchers arrive and hoist a leader onto young shoulders, who demands the military get out of the business of governing (even though the rulers have promised to step down after the June presidential elections). Then, like a travelling road show, the marchers move on.
By Gabriela Perdomo - Monday, February 20, 2012 at 11:20 AM - 0 Comments
The Islamic political movement has its own, slick channel
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is wasting no time asserting its voice in the post-Mubarak era. The Islamic political movement, banned in the 1950s, swept the first parliamentary elections held since president Hosni Mubarak was ousted, securing 47 per cent of the lower house through its Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). The Brotherhood is also showing off its media mettle, with a 24-hour news channel, Misr25. The name, which means “Egypt25,” evokes Jan. 25: the first day of the revolution that eventually led to Mubarak’s resignation last February.
The TV channel is slick. A female anchor in a fashionable head scarf weaves stories from a stable of 100 correspondents (not necessarily Brotherhood members). Mubarak kept a tight grip on the media; only in his last few years did the regime allow private channels. The Muslim Brotherhood, however, openly admits Misr25 is a tool for advancing its agenda. Which begs the question: are Egyptians getting a new channel, or simply a new state media boss?
By Michael Petrou - Monday, February 6, 2012 at 6:15 AM - 0 Comments
Last year’s revolutions of the Arab Spring were, and remain, the greatest opportunity for the global growth of democracy since the end of the Cold War and the resulting spread of freedom in Eastern Europe.
Democracy promotion is ostensibly a priority for this government. In the 2008 Throne Speech, Canada was promised: “a new, non-partisan democracy promotion agency will also be established to support the peaceful transition to democracy in repressive countries and help emerging democracies build strong institutions.”
More than three years later, that promise is unfulfilled. But Canada still has the framework to pursue democracy promotion through the Canadian International Development Agency, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
Both CIDA and DFAIT claim democracy promotion as part of their core mandates. It should follow, therefore, that the Arab Spring presented them with an unprecedented opportunity. Continue…
By Richard Warnica - Friday, February 3, 2012 at 11:08 AM - 0 Comments
Rumours spreading that police encouraged stadium melee to escalate
Egypt’s ‘ultras’—soccer fans who played a key role in demonstrations that toppled Hosni Mubarak last year—continued to riot Friday amid rumours police had purposefully allowed violence to spiral out of control at a match earlier this week.
More than 70 people were killed in a post-game riot in Port Said on Wednesday. Fans were quick to blame security forces for failing to contain the mayhem. Many now believe the officers were exacting revenge on the increasingly political ultras.
The New York Times says the rumours are “impossible to confirm.” But one player interviewed by the Guardian says he saw police urge fans to come onto the field. He also claims to have seen people with “knives and swords” in the melee. (Security rule of thumb: If someone can sneak a sword into your event, your security sucks.)
At least four people have died in the post-riot riots, which have seen protestors in Cairo and other spots rioting against police to demonstrate how angry they are that police failed to stop the earlier riot. (Got that?) Politicians meanwhile, have been quick to try to harness the crowd’s anger.
By Richard Warnica - Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 10:54 AM - 0 Comments
Security forces blamed as fighting spirals out of control
When Egyptians inched toward democracy last year, few could have imagined the democracy they would emulate would be Britain in the 1980s.
Savage riots broke out after a top-tier soccer team lost in Port Said Wednesday night. Police and security are said to have stood by as fans attacked first the players then each other. Seventy-four people were killed in the violence or while trying to flee it.
Some are now claiming security forces allowed or even stoked the chaos, either as political power play or to claim revenge on the ‘Ultras,’ soccer supporters who played a key role in anti-government protests last year.
By Adnan R. Khan - Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
How a little-known group of ultra-orthodox Muslims are shaking up Mideast politics
If 2011 was the year the Arab street rose up in defiance of dictatorship, 2012 is shaping up to be the year of the Islamist. That may sound scary. Over at least the past decade, the term has come to represent fanatics around the world obsessed with sharia law, Allah-bent on destroying Israel and the West in a frenzy of religiously inspired payback. Egypt is the latest former Western ally to fall under the so-called Islamist spell, and the most important one to date. At the end of its first free and open parliamentary elections that concluded on Jan. 11, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) stood atop a rubble heap of liberal secularist parties, winning a plurality of seats and poised to become the powerbroker in a country literally sitting at the nexus of the West’s interests in the Middle East.
In the aftermath, Western diplomats and right-leaning political pundits have been wringing their hands over possible futures: that Egypt will abrogate its peace treaty with Israel, that other Islamist movements will take inspiration from the MB example and increase their political activities, raising the spectre of Islamist politics threatening the world’s oil supply. Stoking the fears was who came second: a little-known group of ultra-orthodox Muslims, the Salafis. Their electoral success came as a shock to most observers, though not so much to Muslims themselves.
For years, moderate Muslims have been struggling against a rising wave of fundamentalist thought within their communities. Salafism is on the rise globally, posing a bigger threat to the West than groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, who occupy a comparatively moderate zone in the Islamic spectrum. And the problem is not restricted to Muslim nations. In a series of interviews with Maclean’s in December 2010, Muslim leaders in Amsterdam complained of the rising influence of Salaﬁsm. “It’s the fundamentalists, the Salaﬁs, who are the real problem,” Muhammad Sajjad Barkati, the imam at Amsterdam’s Ghoussia mosque, said at the time. “The Salaﬁs are trying to convert everyone to their way of thinking. They are dividing the Muslim community.”
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 12:53 PM - 0 Comments
Political uncertainty complicating access to IMF loan
Egypt’s Tahrir Square was once more been the epicentre of massive popular demonstrations on Wednesday, as tens of thousands of Egyptians gathered there to celebrate the first anniversary of the revolution that ended President Hosni Mubarak’s rule. As Mubarak faces trial for his handling of the uprising, the country appears socially and politically split. And political uncertainty is undermining Egypt’s ability to deal with massive unemployment and reconstruction. The current military caretaker government has requested a $3.2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. The country urgently needs the money, but the Fund has said it needs about three months to finalize the details of the disbursement, and that any loan would need broad political support.
By Peter Fragiskatos - Wednesday, December 21, 2011 at 7:34 AM - 0 Comments
Why the economy matters more than Islam
In early December, the future of post-Mubarak Egypt became a little clearer after the results of the first round of parliamentary elections were announced. Islamist factions—led by the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood—dominated with 60 percent of the vote.
The second round of the process was held last week. Although the outcome has yet to be announced, early reports indicate that the FJP will again come out on top. The third stage will take place in January and if the rural provinces continue to vote as expected—efforts to blend Islam and politics find more sympathy here than in the cities—Islamism will have quickly secured a place for itself.
On the surface, the implications of this seem obvious. The Sharia (Islamic law) is bound to be introduced. The status of women and Christians, who make up around 10 percent of the total population, will be threatened. And, because Islam is apparently hostile to democracy, the demands for liberty and human rights that continue to be voiced in Tahrir Square will fall on deaf ears. In short, Mubarak’s tyranny will simply be replaced by an uncompromising fundamentalism. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 11:45 AM - 0 Comments
The Arab Spring unleashed a wave of hope and action in a region ruled by oppressive regimes and tyrants
It’s a movement that began with an angry vegetable seller and has already changed the world.
Last December, a 26-year-old Tunisian street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on ﬁre to protest the harassment and extortion he had suffered at the hands of municipal ofﬁcials since childhood. His self-immolation, and death from burns two weeks later, sparked protests and then an uprising that soon spread across the Middle East. Dictatorships that had persisted for decades were toppled in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. Thousands died in those countries and elsewhere, as ruling strongmen scrambled to respond—some, such as King Abdullah II of Jordan, by promising reforms and sacking members of government; others, such as President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, by cracking down on dissidents with murderous force.
The uprising unleashed hope in a region that had seen little of it of late. “People have talked about the end of fear. This is not something that is going to be reversed,” says Marina Ottaway, a senior associate in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “I think we have seen the end of the passive Arab public. People have learned that if they protest, if they take things in their own hands, change can take place.”