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March 28, 2015 / 8 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Egypt’

‘Honorable Imam, You Bear Responsibility Before Allah’

Friday, January 9th, 2015

A bare two weeks before radical Islamist terrorists calmly emptied the clips of their AK-47 assault rifles into the bodies of 12 journalists at the Paris-based Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly magazine, Egypt’s president warned clerics at the Al Azhar Islamic Center of the urgent need to combat extremist ideology.

In his speech delivered at the centuries-old worldwide center for Islamic studies, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi called on the imams to “revolutionize” Islam.

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Excerpts of the president’s address were translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) in Washington, DC.

“I would like to reiterate that we are not doing enough with regard to true religious discourse,” the president stated. “The problem has never been with our faith. Perhaps the problem lies in ideology, and this ideology is sanctified among us. I am talking about religious discourse that is in keeping with its times.

“… I am addressing the religious scholars and clerics. We must take a long, hard look at the current situation. I have talked about this several times in the past. We must take a long, hard look at the situation we are in. It is inconceivable that the ideology we sanctify should make our entire nation a source of concern, danger, killing, and destruction all over the world. It is inconceivable that this ideology…

“I am referring not to “religion,” but to “ideology” – the body of ideas and texts that we have sanctified in the course of centuries, to the point that challenging them has become very difficult. “It has reached the point that [this ideology] is hostile to the entire world. Is it conceivable that 1.6 billion [Muslims] would kill the world’s population of seven billion, so that they could live [on their own]? This is inconceivable.

“I say these things here, at Al-Azhar, before religious clerics and scholars. May Allah bear witness on Judgment Day to the truth of your intentions, regarding what I say to you today.

“You cannot see things clearly when you are locked [in this ideology]. You must emerge from it and look from outside, in order to get closer to a truly enlightened ideology. You must oppose it with resolve. Let me say it again: We need to revolutionize our religion. “Honorable Imam [the Grand Sheik of Al-Azhar], you bear responsibility before Allah. The world in its entirety awaits your words, because the Islamic nation is being torn apart, destroyed, and is heading to perdition. We ourselves are bringing it to perdition.”

For the first time ever, Coptic Christians were honored with a visit from the nation’s leader at Christmas mass, as President el-Sisi visited Cairo’s Abbasiya Cathedral on the holy day. El-Sisi congratulated the small Coptic community on the occasion of the holiday earlier this week, and said in a brief address that all Egyptians are as “one hand.”

 

Cairo Razing Rafah to Create Gaza Buffer

Friday, January 9th, 2015

This is the Tale of Two Cities: Old Rafah, and New Rafah – that is, the Egyptian half of the Gaza city that currently straddles the border with Egypt, and the one soon to be on the drawing boards of /Egyptian engineers.

North Sinai District Governor Abd al-Fattah Harour told journalists at a news briefing Wednesday that Egypt has decided to raze Rafah to the ground – at least, the part that exists on Egypt’s side of the border.

“A new Rafah city is being established with residential zones appropriate to the nature and traditions of the residents of Rafah,” Harour said, according to the Ma’an news agency.

He confirmed that engineering units have already been authorized to begin work on the project.

Egypt is currently evacuating some 2,044 families from 1,220 homes located on a stretch of land along the border with Gaza. The families are to be compensated for the loss of their homes and also will receive additional funds with which to rent new accommodations until they can find new places to live.

The evacuation is being carried out in preparation for creation of a wider buffer zone between Egypt and Gaza. Original plans a year ago called for a buffer of 500 meters; the current buffer zone is to measure at least a kilometer wide.

However, this latest development has come about because the existence of the city of Rafah still constitutes a military weak point for Egypt vis a vis Gaza and Hamas, as it does for Israel.

Rafah is also the sole international crossing which is not under Israel’s control and which remains vulnerable to seizure by international terrorists. (In Jordan, the sole crossing with Iraq was shut down last year after the Iraq side was seized by terrorists from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). European monitors in Rafah who were supposed to remain at the site to “keep the peace” and maintain its neutrality abandoned their posts at the first sign of danger years ago.

On January 23, 2008 Hamas blew a hole in the security barrier built in 2003 near the Rafah crossing, destroying a significant part of the wall. The United Nations estimated that as many as 750,000 Gazans flooded through that hole into Egypt from that day forward until the breach was repaired, 11 days later. Many came to shop for food and supplies, but several thousand were also wanted terrorists; Israel Police raised the alert in the Jewish State knowing it was likely these “shoppers” were also purchasing “supplies.”

Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization was spawned by Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood organization. The group has sparked endless anti-government attacks in Egypt, and developed alliances with other groups, leading to further problems.

During the recent brief reign of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s predecessor, Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohammed Morsi and his Islamist-majority parliament, Sinai became saturated with radical Islamist terrorists.

Terror groups such as the Al Qaeda-linked Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which recently swore allegiance to ISIS, grew there exponentially. Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda-linked Army of Islam Salafis also planted bases in Sinai as well.

In particular, Hamas honeycombed the area under the border in Rafah with tunnels which they used for smuggling military supplies and luxury items into Gaza – and terrorists out, in to Sinai and elsewhere.

It is this activity the Cairo government is determined to end. Egypt’s security personnel have destroyed hundreds of terrorist tunnels over the past 18 months, but they are often rebuilt when Hamas obtains new supplies.

As international aid organizations bring concrete and other building materials into the enclave to “help” the poverty stricken Palestinian Authority residents rebuild their homes, Hamas confiscates the items to reconstruct their terror tunnel network. It’s an expensive project: each tunnel costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to build.

Egyptian President El-Sisi Appears at Coptic Mass

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

For the first time ever, Coptic Christians in Egypt were able to greet the president of their country on the most important holiday of their faith.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is the first Egyptian leader ever to attend Christmas mass at Cairo’s Abbasiya Cathedral, where he greeted Coptic Christians in a speech.

Sisi’s attendance at the religious service was preceded by a heavy security presence, especially due to prior attacks on Christian sites by radical Islamists.

The president congratulated Egypt’s Coptic community on the occasion of the holiday, and maintained that all Egyptians are as “one hand.”

Egypt’s Pres. Sisi Urges Clerics, ‘Confront Misleading Islamic Ideology’

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

In a statement clearly intended to end terror recruitment at home and abroad, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi urged clerics Thursday to confront “misleading ideologies harming Islam and Muslims worldwide.”

Many terrorist groups broadcast radical Islamist sermons via the Internet and satellite television as well as social networking sites in order to recruit new members to their jihadist cause. At least one produces a full-fledged Internet magazine.

Egyptian military and police forces have been focusing their efforts on eliminating terror bases and training camps embedded in the Sinai Peninsula over the past several years.

The local Al Qaeda-linked Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis recently swore allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror organization. Also in Sinai are Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and Army of Islam terror bases, among others.

Sisi also told the clerics at al-Azhar and the Awqaf Ministry it is important to renew “religious discourse” and spread moderate teachings of Islam, and urged Muslims to “follow the prophet.”

The Egyptian leader offered his greetings Muslims and Christians on the occasion of the birthday of the prophet Muhammed, founder of Islam, and on the New Year.

He praised efforts by the country’s armed forces and the police to provide security and defend the nation. Sisi underlined in particular the importance of fighting terrorism, which he pointed out “tarnishes the image” of the greater Islamic nation in the world.

The Egyptian leader made the statements during the Awqaf Ministry’s celebrations of the anniversary of the birthday of the prophet Muhammed, the founder of Islam. The Awqaf is the ministry of religious endowments; in Israel it is known as the “Waqf.” The Cairo-based Al-Azhar, founded in 970 CE, is known as the primary global center of Islamic and Arabic learning.

Egypt Beefs Up Security around Foreign Embassies

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

Egypt has deployed heavy security around foreign embassies in Cairo because of increased fears of terrorist attacks, according to the Saudi daily Ukaz.

Authorities said that terrorists from the Sinai are planning to attack an embassy and that the Muslim Brotherhood is planning to strike several targets throughout Egypt to undermine the Al-Sisi regime.

Alexandria Court Bans Annual Jewish Pilgrimage to Holy Rabbi’s Tomb

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

The Supreme Court of Alexandria has ‘permanently’ banned the three-day festival and celebration of the life of Rabbi Ya’akov Abuhatzeira, held on the anniversary of death.

The yearly event includes a worldwide Jewish pilgrimage to the tomb of the Moroccan Torah sage who set out from his home for Israel in 1879.

The rabbi was known for his skills in kabbalah and other ancient knowledge. He fell ill while passing through the Nile Delta region of Buheira and died in the small city of Damtu.

Since the signing of the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, Jews have flocked to the tomb annually to pay their respects and celebrate the life of the Torah sage.

The celebration and pilgrimage were canceled for the first time since then in 2012, when the post-revolutionary government deemed the atmosphere to be unsafe to Jewish pilgrimage.

At that time, groups from across the political spectrum announced a plan to form human shields to prevent “Zionist” visitors from visiting the tomb on the anniversary of the rabbi’s death.

The tomb is registered with the Egyptian Ministry of State for Antiquities as a Jewish Heritage Site. Among those protesting was the Muslim Brotherhood – which was leading the way towards the presidency – as well as the Freedom and Justice Party, Nasserist Trend and the Mohamed ElBaradei campaign.

This year it is not the Cairo government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who is issuing the edict, but rather the provincial court.

The court also called on the government to reverse the 2001 recognition of the festival as an event listed by state tourism officials and to remove it from the list of recognized shrines.

A request by the Israeli government for permission to transfer the remains of the rabbi to a grave in the State of Israel was denied because Islam forbids exhumation.

The judge in the case cited unspecified “moral offenses” as the reason for the ban and for stripping the site of its status, Al Arabiya reported.

Nevertheless, a government official who requested anonymity told the Cairo-based Al Ahram newspaper earlier this week that the court has no jurisdiction over recognition of sites as shrines. He added that Egypt’s government will appeal the move if necessary.

Egyptian Court Bans Rabbi Abu Hatsera Festival

Monday, December 29th, 2014

Published at Jewish Business News

An Egyptian court Monday banned an annual festival of a Jewish rabbi in a Nile Delta village, a judicial source said, the latest in a series of rulings against the event, Gulf News reported.

The decision by the Administrative Court in Alexandria was in response to a lawsuit filed by a lawyer, who said that the eight-day celebration of Moroccan rabbi Abu Hatsera’s birthday violates local traditions.

According to Jewish tradition, Rabbi Abu Hatsera is Yaakov ben Masood, a rabbi of Moroccan origin who immigrated to Egypt. His shrine is often visited every year by hundreds of Jews from Morocco, France and Israel.

The court said the rituals practiced at the celebration violate “public order and morals,” according to the source.

Hundreds of pilgrims from Israel and other countries flock to the Egyptian Delta village of Demito every January, to mark the death of the 19th rabbi buried there.

Angry locals say the visitors drink alcohol, dance and slaughter animals at the tomb of the saint.

Back in 2010, Egyptian police caught a terrorist team that was planning to blow up the rabbi’s gravesite. And in 2012, the then ruling Muslim Brothers, threatened that Jews visiting the site would be committing suicide.

On Monday, the court also revoked a 2001 decision by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, listing the tomb and its surroundings as heritage sites, the source said. The judge also ruled that the remains of Abu Hasira shall not be transferred to Israel.

Two years ago, Israel requested from Egypt – through the UNESCO – the transfer of Abu Hasria’s remains to Jerusalem.

Security measures were heightened during Monday’s court session, which saw a heavy presence from the media and the civil society.

There was no immediate government comment.

In 2001 and 2004, two Egyptian courts banned the festival, but were ignored by the government.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/egyptian-court-bans-rabbi-abu-hatsera-festival/2014/12/29/

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