By macleans.ca - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 0 Comments
A feature report by Michael Petrou on the dynamics at play in the streets of Cairo
Foreign correspondent Michael Petrou travelled to Egypt earlier this fall where liberal activists told him that their revolution is far from over. Petrou filed his report days before President Mohammed Morsi seized new powers in his country. In a feature report from the Nov. 26 issue, Petrou explored the ways political Islam had taken firm hold in Egypt.
Cairo’s Saladin Citadel appears to float above the heart of the Egyptian capital, a collection of seemingly impregnable battlements, towers, soaring minarets and the beetle-like domed roofs of its mosques.
Tonight its walls are bathed in pink light. In one of its courtyards, a men’s orchestra and a singer are belting out songs before a nimble-toed conductor. Young men dressed like medieval Muslim warriors, with flowing robes and wide swords on their hips, stand guard on rock platforms or mingle casually with the watching crowd. The yard is full of leather chairs; TV crews scramble to film arriving politicians. Egypt’s new government is commemorating Saladin’s conquest of Jerusalem in 1187.
“This event is to remind people of the hideous Israeli acts that are committed against Jerusalem and the Palestinians,” says Ahmed Salah, a member of the ministry of culture’s media office. Enass Omran, a young woman staffing a table for the Al-Quds International Institution, an NGO the U.S. alleges is controlled by the Palestinian militant group Hamas, says the night is about more than long ago history. “Maybe,” she says, “we can enter Jerusalem again.” Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Monday, February 13, 2012 at 11:50 AM - 0 Comments
Boko Haram rejects Western education, as well as democracy
An upstart Islamist militia is causing havoc in Nigeria, killing more than 250 people this year alone, and almost 1,000 since its insurgency began 2½ years ago. Its attacks have emptied schools in the north of the country, stoked sectarian tensions between Christians and Muslims, and threatened the stability of a state that is a key Western ally and a potential economic powerhouse in Africa.
Boko Haram is the name locals in the north of Nigeria have given to the extreme Salafist group that calls itself “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teaching and Jihad.” Its nickname, which roughly translates as “Western education is sinful,” isn’t inaccurate. The group rejects Western education, as well as democracy and Nigeria’s constitution. Its founder, Mohammad Yusuf, once explained to the BBC that Western education was sacrilegious because, among other things, it teaches that the Earth isn’t flat.
Boko Haram began about a decade ago under Yusuf’s spiritual leadership. In July 2009, it launched attacks on police stations across northeast Nigeria. Hundreds died in clashes, as well as in the resulting crackdown when security forces murdered suspected Boko Haram members in cold blood.