Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Egypt’s mythical ‘law and order’ - openDemocracy

As the controversial protest law was put into action, government officials as well as local media apologists justified the consequent repressive police measures as an innocent attempt to impose “law and order”. While the government is immersed in its ‘war against terrorism’ (sometimes rightly so and sometimes not), it’s also doing its best at alienating revolutionaries who took to the streets in protest as soon as the law was enacted.

Read more here.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Three reasons the current regime benefits from the Brotherhood

More than four months after Morsi’s ouster, the Muslim Brotherhood fails to adopt a strategy that reduces the rift happened between them and the revolutionaries, no to mention the public. In fact, the current reckless moves appear to be in favor of the current government’s rule. Here are three reasons why:

Violence gives mandate
Two weeks the Brotherhood members in Al-Azhar University stormed the administration office & reportedly fired bird shots inside the campus on the university security.
The head of university dean asked police to intervene after violence erupted and the Cabinet granted police forces the right to be present at university gates and furthermore to enter campuses upon universities heads request.

Aftermath of Muslim Brotherhood clashes in Al-Azhar University

Many fear that such violence would be followed by more harsh security intervention in universities that was banned by Administrative court in 2010 even with Minister of Higher Education denying the return of security to campuses in the old fashion.

With violence either committed or condoned by the Muslim Brotherhood or their Islamists allies since Morsi’s ouster in universities, neighborhoods and villages as well as the ongoing violence in Sinai, no one seems to be winning except the security apparatus, this time with a wide public support.

*Update: In a couple of days, we will witness the second anniversary of Mohamed Mahmoud clashes, and the Brotherhood shamelessly called for commemorating the clashes. Many fear the violence that might take place especially with presence of the Brotherhood.

Helpful defamation campaign?
One of the few things the Brotherhood conducts in a good way is PR campaigns. Across Europe & the U.S. the Brotherhood held many campaigns to market their case, delegitimize defame the current regime (sometimes immorally).

While this seems to be working, as major Human Rights and international organizations keeps pressuring the government (HRW: 1, 2, 3 - Amnesty), it also helps it to prune its repression instincts and prevents the old regime practices from a total comeback in order decrease criticism. In other words, helping the government to rule progressively and democratically.

In addition to that, the Brotherhood members disrupted Alaa Al-Aswany’s conference in Paris, a couple of days later the same happened with Tamarod’s conference in London University. Whether is it directives by the group to expats to prevent pro-government activists from explaining their views to the world or just MB supporters expressing their anger, it’s clearly not helping as Jack Lang, the president of The Arab World Institute in Paris which hosted Al-Aswany’s event expressed in his tweet:

[Yesterday at the Arab Wold Institute, the pro-Morsi militias attacked the writer Alaa Al Aswany. I condemn this intolerable infringement on the freedom of expression.]

Redefining allies
Two days after Sec. Kerry’s first visit to Cairo since the June 30 uprising, Voice of Russia reported the Russian Defense Minister & the Foreign Minister will be visiting Cairo the week after to meet their counterparts.

Russia offered Egypt major arms deal that includes helicopters, air defense systems and modernization of previously purchased Equipment. The visit was met with a red carpet welcome.

Russian FM Sergey Lavrov speaks to his Egyptian counterpart Nabil Fahmy

After the visit the Egyptian president had a phone call with the Russian president, in which the latter expressed support for Egypt and in return, Mansour invited him to visit Egypt.

While a total independence from U.S. may seem unlikely to happen in the near future, the Egyptian officials look adamant to restore relations with the old ally, Russia and the latter is warmly welcoming.

The Russian-Egyptian rapprochement comes after Egypt’s Foreign Minister described the relations between U.S. Egypt as in “Turmoil” after the U.S. administration suspended F-16 delivery to Egypt. President Barack Obama announced canceling Bright Start exercise amid Morsi’s ouster and the violence that followed.

With new ties with Russia, Gulf economic aid and deteriorating relations with Turkey and Qatar, Egypt is definitely redrawing its relations with partners.

Unless the Brotherhood rethinks its current strategy dealing with the regime, it will continue to lose support for the benefit of the government on contrary to what they plan.

*article was planned tp be published earlier

Saturday, November 9, 2013

On AJE's Listening Post giving my views on media

I appear on 9:19 on Global Village Voices where I give a quick take about Media under the Brotherhood regime & the current regime. Video here.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dalga: The Brotherhood's Doublespeak Continues - Atlantic Council

The Brotherhood’s penchant for doublespeak is nothing new. In April 2013, in the aftermath of the Boston Bombings, and in September 2012, in the wake of the attack on the US embassies in Libya and Egypt, the Brotherhood and its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, were quick to condemn the attacks, in English. In Arabic, however, they often take a much less conciliatory and more aggressive tone. The armed forces’ raid on Dalga, a town in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Minya, has proved to be yet another example in how the Brotherhood is presenting two different narratives.

Read more here

Monday, September 2, 2013

Full chart of Egypt's constitutional assembly

Here's a chart of Egypt's 50-member constitutional assembly:

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Why New York Times saw "Signs of a Shift" in pro-Morsi protests

This is an email I wrote to David D. Kirkpatrick, Cairo Bureau Chief and Mideast Correspondent of The New York Times in response to his report: Signs of a Shift Among Egyptian Protesters to Antigovernment, From Pro-Morsi on August 30 demonstrations (with minor changes).

Dear David,

I just read your report: "Signs of a Shift Among Egyptian Protesters to Antigovernment, From Pro-Morsi" and would like to give you a sign that might explain the signs of shifts.

Here's AlJazeera's anchor Ahmed Mansour, a strong supporter for the Muslim Brotherhood in Rabaa sit-in:

Mansour is saying: “Our rhetoric should now change; the Egyptian people won’t come out with us unless we remind them that Jan 25 revolution has been stolen … if we kept saying Mohamed Morsi, those who oppose Mohamed Morsi will remain at home.”

Now Mansour is *not* basically saying that we should abandon the demand of Morsi’s return (because for example, he didn’t fulfill the revolution goals), he’s saying that we should say it’s not about Morsi just to get people at our side.

You might have noticed this behavior when suddenly AlQaeda & Saudi Arabia flags disappeared from Rabaa sit-in & the Egyptians flags started to prevail. This is one of his advices in the video (using Egyptian flags).

Also, the Anti-coup/ pro-democracy sign at the back of the stage is a sign of their double talk & deception because in Arabic they often called for Sharia law while in English they claim to be democratic (perhaps, ballotocratic?)

Historically, I might refer you to two incidents of MB bluffing and double talks:
1-Fairmont meeting:
When Morsi gave loads of promises to a group of politicians from different political spectrums and achieved none of them after he won, actually he went the other way.

2- The US Embassy:
The MB double talks concerning the attacks on the US embassy (In Arabic spurred it's supporters, in English condemned attacks). Here is the famous tweet by the embassy account:

Here's a full BBC report on MB's duality of language.

This could be (or perhaps, it is) another bluff or tactic by the Muslim Brotherhood after they lost everything/ everyone as per Mansour’s advice; let’s say we don’t want Morsi anymore it’s all about the revolution. Or maybe it’s just the Muslim Brotherhood being the Muslim Brotherhood.

Genuine question: Where was the revolution when Morsi was in power? It’s just something they use when in need to support their cause, just like religion & blood.

With all due respect, I expected a referral to that point in such piece with all the history of sneaky ways of the group.

Best Regards,                                                                                                                                
Mina Fayek

*A copy of this email was sent to Kareem Fahim, New York Times Middle East reporter and a contributor to the report.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Blame it on Copts

Being an underground movement for more than 8 decades, the Muslim Brotherhood has always believed in conspiracy theory. In fact the conspiratorial mindset helped the Brotherhood to evolve and attain persistency throughout different regimes that often oppressed them.

By time it became part of the group ideology to the extend they couldn't forsake it even after Morsi came to power and they accused the "deep state" and opposition of siding to prevent Morsi from achieving his great "Nahda" project.

After Morsi's ouster, MB supporters believed that Pope Tawadros was strongly involved in the process. His appearance with Sisi on July 3rd along with Ahmed Al Tayeb, Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh was a strong motive to believe so.

During Nasser, Sadat & Mubarak rule, Copts were prohibited from senior level positions in the government. From army to police to judiciary, Copts promotion would stop at some point. They might also get prohibited from joining a whole sector (for e.g Military Intelligence in army & State Security in MOI) even as low level personnel. Ministers and governors were given position via a non declared quota, rather than competency.

With the rise of the Islamic movements in the 70s, sectarianism rose along and many clashes happened all over Egypt from Suez to Alexandria and from Cairo to Upper Egypt. The state stood still concerning these incidents, sometimes with a complete denial, other times using force without addressing the root cause of the problem. In fact, the state somehow was beneficial from these acts to maintain the Copts loyalty.

After Morsi won the elections in June 2012, the fears of Copts were still there, in fact they were multiplied because of the historic image of the Islamic movements & the violent acts and speech they embraced. Now the Copts face the worst; a combination of the usual discrimination of Mubarak's state against them & a freely-expressed sectarian hatred speech by most, if not all, the islamists.

The most remarkable incident that happened under Morsi's rule was police force attacking the cathedral after the funeral of 4 Copts killed in Shubra suburb in Cairo amid sectarian clashes there.

After the funeral, people chanted against Morsi and MB, MOI forces started to disperse them by tear gas but things escalated and police started bombing the cathedral itself! For the first time in history this happens to any cathedral around the world. It's useless to state Morsi's reaction back then, he almost did nothing but the usual; calling for an investigation that we know nothing about it till now.

Tear gas inside the Coptic cathedral by MOI forces

After his ouster, it was clear that Morsi's supporters misunderstood what happened & misestimated how they lost everyone but them. It's hard to accept the loss when you think of yourself as chosen by God.

The Brotherhood had no explanation for losing power but to blame Copts. The very same minority the Islamists always denied rights for being a "Minority" that should be submissive for the Muslim majority, were the ones who engineered the flocking of millions to the streets demanding Morsi's ouster according to MB.

Here's one graffiti of many hateful spreading lately on the walls of churches that says: June30 = Christians + Mubarak's remnants + thugs:

Other graffitis include curses for the Pope (even on the cathedral's wall), threats, writing the word "Islamic" on churches gates and other hateful ones.

"The Pope is traitor and coward," on the wall of the Coptic cathedral in Abbaseya, Cairo

One opinion that sums the MB current mindset on Copts is the @TheBigPharaoh's:

Following blaming Copts for their failure, MB supporters started burning churches, houses & shops of Christians. Besides the Sinai attacks, sectarian violence towards Christians is becoming daily news in Egypt now, Assiut, Minya, Beni Suef with no plans of crackdown to stop it by state. Further more the silly reconciliation sessions that forces Copts to relinquish their rights and offers impunity to the aggressors like this one happened in Mniya which states that church would compensate the victims whom are Christians! and mentions nothing about the assualters! A clear sign on absence of Law and Order.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Was Jan 2011 a coup?

Many argue that June 30 is a military coup rather than a third wave of Jan 25 revolution. To settle on to this let's put some facts clear.

Facts about Jan 2011:

Mubarak was democratically elected: 
weather you like it or not he was, won elections held on 2005 with 88.6% apart from his nearest rival Ayman Nour who only got 7.3 %.

Elections were rigged: 
Yes we all now that. Many boycotted because they doubted the whole process, others criticized it and it was clear how it was non transparent with pro-Mubarak judges involved and MOI forces preventing people from reaching the polling stations.

Mubarak would've won in clean elections: 
Despite being a dictator, Mubarak had a fair, well more than fair popularity. It was a fake one, I mean it was clear to everyone were the country is heading politically, economically and socially.

But hey, let's face it, the man was widely respected among many classes. May be out of his military history being the air force commander at the October 1973 war, state media propaganda, the old Egyptians-idolizing-leaders syndrome (that was smashed pretty much by the Jan 25 revolution) or may be at least he was preferred over a fuzzy non-clear future if he left. Many reasons might apply, yet it's clear Mubarak would've won in a fair clean elections back then.

It was the army's decision, one way or another:
In his late interview with Daily News Egypt, the Military spokesman, Col. Ahmed Ali was asked if the army was "pressured by outside forces prior to taking the decision to oust President Morsi?", his answer was that the army takes decision based on "national security, the benefit and welfare of the Egyptian people" and then he added: "This is what happened in 2013 and 2011.". This spokesman's answer clearly give us a clue that the army was involved in the decision of ousting Mubarak and Morsi, evenly.

Facts about June 30 :

Morsi was elected:
In a fair clean elections with nearly 52% of the votes.

Using democracy, Morsi ruined democracy:
Gave himself ultimate powers, challenged the judiciary, threatened private media & dominated over state media. He also fulfilled nothing from his promises (most important the reestablishment of the constitution assembly) to the revolutionaries who chose him over Ahmed Shafik, Mubarak's last PM. The worst of all was the deep division occurred during Morsi's rule between Egyptians because of his dictatorial acts.

Again in streets, more than Jan 25:
In his interview with Rotana Khalijiya channel, Younis Makhyoun the leader of the ultraconservative Salafi Nour Party, the Muslim Brotherhood's closest ally until very soon, admits that the numbers went on streets on June 30 were far much bigger that on Jan 25. I quote him saying: "We were surprised by the people coming out, what I saw was much greater than in January 25. During Jan 25, people went out in: Alexandria, Cairo, Suez, Portsaid & Mahala. In June 30, even villages and stations were out to streets. Nothing like that ever happened since the 1919 revolution."

Military once again:
For sure this wasn't the best choice but with huge numbers on streets causing turmoil all over the country in addition to the Brotherhood's total denial and arrogance reading the situation, someone had to do something before it turns to be a civil war which we've already seen some signs of in several cities. The army did upon people's call.

Now questions arise:
If both, Mubarak and Morsi were elected leaders ousted by a popular military intervention, why would EU Chef Catherine Ashton ask for meeting Morsi? How about Mubarak? Why would France demand the release of Morsi while he's facing several charges by an Egyptian court? Why didn't France demand the release of Mubarak back in January 2011?

Western double standards should be questioned dealing with Mubarak and Morsi.

2 Coups or 1 Revolution?
If you're calling June 30 a coup, you should consistently call Jan 2011 a coup. As for me, it's just a third wave of a revolution that yielded a non-stable democratic process that might need long time to flourish.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Inclusion after Judgment

Many voices call now for inclusion of the Muslim brotherhood again in the newly born democratic process after June 30 protests which ousted Mohamed Morsi.

Personally I don’t mind including the Muslim Brotherhood members again. In fact, this was one of the demands of the Jan 25 revolution after decades of tyranny and exclusion for everyone but Mubarak’s loyalists which led to the ousting him in February 11th, 2011. Throughout 30 years under Mubarak’s rule, exclusion and oppression of islamists spread a growing sense of extremism in the Egyptian society and a series of terrorist attacks especially in upper-Egypt, in addition to sectarianism. I’m seriously not willing to see this happening again in Egypt.

But here’s something that concerns me evenly, what the MB themselves have done to the Jan 25 revolution. After Mubarak’s ousting, many sought to reflect the great image of Tahrir square during the 18-day protests in which Muslims united with Christians, men and women, young and old. In other words, getting the Tahrir spirit into politics producing real consensus in order to achieve the revolution’s goals: Bread, Freedom, social justice and human dignity. The thing is, MB chose not!

From the March 2011 referendum to the parliamentary elections to the presidential elections the brotherhood chose to grip everything and despite their promises to include everyone, they excluded everyone!

Even when revolutionaries chose to back Morsi during the the presidential elections run-off against Ahmed Shafik, Mubarak’s last PM regardless of their shameful stands supporting SCAF echoing it’s allegations calling revolutionaries “thugs” during the Maspero, Mohamed Mahmoud and Cabinet massacres, MB did the one thing they’re very good at: withdrawing every promise they made.

After Morsi won the election MB’s only concern was feeding its members into Mubarak’s state rather than facing corruption or achieving the revolution’s goals. For example, it was OK for the police to continue its brutality against people if it’s protecting us, the MB and it’s welcomed, according the MB constitution, to send civilians to military court if the army won’t coup against us. Ironically, these 2 examples are the clearest examples of what MB suffered under Mubarak’s regime, police brutality and military trials and they warmly welcomed them.

Another clear remark of Morsi’s failure was inciting violence and sectarianism, or at its best welcoming them. One clear example for this was what happened during the conference of “Support of Syrian uprising” at Cairo stadium, two weeks before the June 30 uprising when the pro-brotherhood cleric Mohamed Abdel Maksood stood there and called those who will participate in June 30 as “Infidels and Hypocrites”, in the presence of Morsi, which turned out to be everyone but the Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters. Other examples include, killing Shiites in Cairo and attacking the Coptic cathedral after Al-Khosous sectarian clashes and before that killing and torturing people at the presidential palace gates after his constitutional declaration in which he grabbed ultimate power over judiciary. Even after Morsi ousted the MB continued to incite violence and hatred at their sit-in in Rabaa square in Cairo.
Following Morsi’s ouster and after the Presidential Guard massacre, MB threatened recurring the Syrian tragedy in Egypt calling whom they called “Rational voices inside army” to stop the so called coup. Basically, calling for army defection!

Hours after the massacre, Amr Darrag, chairman of the foreign relations committee at the Freedom and Justice Party called for the world to intervene after the massacre on his twitter account. NY times has an interesting story about Anne Patterson asking Essam El Haddad, Morsi’s foreign policy adviser if Morsi would appoint a new PM to avoid the consequences of June 30. Mr. El Haddad then calls America as “Mother America” addressing some MB leaders apparently. I can’t recall any of the revolutionaries calling for either foreign intervention or army defection during their clashes with SCAF when MB where in its bed.

As much as I strongly believe that the Muslim Brotherhood should be re-included at the political process once again on real democratic basis as much as I think their leaders, especially the guidance office should be fairly judged for ruining the revolution, inciting and practicing violence & hatred and calling for foreign intervention on the contrary to the Jan 25 revolution goals and its third wave, June 30.