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August 29, 2015 / 14 Elul, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Tahrir Square’

Egypt Marks Anti-Mubarak Uprising by Freeing his Sons and Killing 20

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Egypt has freed the sons of Hosni Mubarak from jail while security forces killed around 20 people, mostly Islamists, protesting on the fourth anniversary of the anti-Mubarak uprising that has left the country with the same kind of dictatorship under a different name.

Gamal and Alaa Mubarak had been in jail for nearly four years until a judge last week ordered them to be freed after they were exonerated on charges of embezzlement

Their father Hosni Mubarak had ruled Egypt with an iron fist until the “Arab Spring” swept into Egypt in the middle of the winter four years ago and, with the open support of the Obama administration, forced him to resign.

A temporary military regime replaced him and continued his legacy of murdering opponents. The Muslim Brotherhood, again with the blessings of Washington, took over after “democratic” elections that to this day are questioned concerning the veracity of the results.

Another uprising forced out the Muslim Brotherhood regime, and Egypt now is under the thumb of former general and now President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, whose security forces “celebrated” the uprising for freedom earlier this week by killing 19 or 20 protesters, depending on which report you want to believe. A policeman also was killed.

Sisi last year announced an outline for democratic reforms, which apparently do not allowed for street demonstrations against his regime.

Now that Mubarak’s sons have been cleared of charges of corruption, the most glaring results of the uprising are more than a thousand graves in the cemetery.

Muslim Brotherhood Channel Finds Home in Turkey

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

When former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi was removed from power by popular demand and by means of the Egyptian military, many of the accoutrements of the Muslim Brotherhood which had only recently come out of the closet in Egypt were summarily shoved back in.

One example of the ascendant Muslim Brotherhood forced back into hiding was a Muslim Brotherhood radio channel, after the interim government ordered the closure of all Brotherhood media outlets.

But its energy is back on, just a bit further north.

The Rabaa radio channel, a Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated channel, went on-air in Turkey on Friday, Dec. 21. The channel is named for Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiyyah Square, where hundreds of Egyptians died in August during protests against Morsi’s ouster. The four-fingered “Rabaa” hand signal has become the symbol of those opposing the overthrow of Morsi.

One of the first to publicize the four-fingered pro-Morsi salute was Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan, just a week after the violent protests.

Another Muslim Brotherhood icon in Egypt turned out his Egyptian lights in response to the ouster of Morsi. Egyptian Imam Yusuf al-Qarawadi,widely regarded as one of the Brotherhood’s spiritual and intellectual inspirations, resigned his position at Al-Azhar University in early December.

The Egyptian-born Qaradawi had been living in Qatar for more than 30 years, having fled the country after tangling with former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. But this past summer, Qatar stripped Qaradawi of his citizenship at the same time that it booted Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal out of the country.

Al-Qaradawi returned to Egypt in 2011, as the Muslim Brotherhood star was rising. He famously led mass prayers in Tahrir Square after former President Mubarak was ousted. Qaradawi is a strong advocate of homicide bombings in Israel. He said that it is “evidence of God’s justice” when “believers use their bodies as bombs.”

Qaradawi has praised Hitler for managing to put Jews “in their place,” calling the Holocaust “divine justice.” He also prayed that “the next time” a Holocaust will be at the “hand of the believers.”

The first program aired on the Rabaa channel featured Qaradawi.

Pro-Violence Against Israeli Civilians No Bar to Human Rights Award

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

On Tuesday, October 8, the 2013 Martin Ennals Human Rights Defender Award was presented in Geneva, Switzerland to someone other than an Egyptian woman who repeatedly vilified and glorified violence against Israel.

Yes, things are so bad it is newsworthy when a promoter of human rights abuses against the Jewish state was not voted by the leading global human rights organizations as the top human rights defender in 2013.

But although Egyptian social media activist Mona Seif was not chosen as this year’s award recipient, it is barely less astounding that she was chosen as a nominee, and then again as one of the three finalists for what is known as the “Nobel Prize for Human Rights” in spite of her very public advocacy of terrorist and wanton destruction against the Jewish State.

Friday morning and then again on Monday, the day before the award was presented, The Jewish Press spoke with the (non-voting) chair of the Martin Ennals Human Rights Award jury, Hans Thoolen, in an effort to understand how Mona Seif could be considered a credible nominee.

The Jewish Press first covered this story back in May when we learned that  Seif had been nominated for the award because of her social media activism in countering the Mubarak regime’s repressive actions and in mobilizing protesters and supporters of the Egyptian Revolution in Tahrir Square during the winter of 2010 – 11.

But it was her use of that same social media to threaten and to glorify attacks against Israel that led at least some human rights advocates – those who also support the right of the Jewish State to defend itself – to question Seif’s nomination.

True, Seif organized and activated an important Egyptian grassroots organization which opposed former Egyptian President Hosnai Mubarak’s use of military trials for civilians through her masterful use of social media. She tweeted out messages warning of oppressive moves by the former Egyptian government, and helped mobilize protesters and supporters of Tahrir Square’s Egyptian Revolution during the winter of 2010-2011. That takes bravery, especially given the alarmingly violent misogyny in Egypt, particularly amongst the young revolutionaries.

But, as was pointed out when Seif’s nomination was first announced, there is a darker side to her social media activity.  People who think that the Jewish state is entitled to self-defense and security in the face of decades of existential terrorism find that side utterly inconsistent with the fundamental precepts of the Martin Ennals Human Rights Defender Award.

Seif’s Twitter account revealed a propensity to express the most vulgar kind of hatred towards Israel, both in terms of how she expresses herself, “#F[expletive deleted]Israel” being a popular choice, as well as the substance of her messages, which advocate terrorism against the Jewish State and which harshly criticized Human Rights organizations that dared to suggest the terrorist group Hamas should refrain from killing Israeli civilians.

Last week Alana Goodman in the Washington Free Beacon reported that additional messages advocating violence against Jews and Israel had been sent out via Twitter by Seif. Here is a translation from the Arabic of the most egregious:

Palestine is my way, and I am full of determination and will. I will draw my blood in the West Bank, I will fight to my death in Gaza, I will support by people in Bethlehem and I will achieve martyrdom in Jerusalem.

How is it possible that the Martin Ennals Foundation considered holding up to the world as a global role model “defender of human rights” someone who published such a message of murderous hatred and hopes to participate in murder? That was just one of the questions put to Mr. Thoolen.

Some cynics suggested that of course such a double standard exists, killing, torture and demonization is only wrong – in the eyes of the global human rights community – when it is about anyone other than Israelis: Jews from the Jewish state.  We hoped the cynics would not be proven right.

We were wrong.

Thoolen was kind enough to spend a good deal of time explaining why twitter remarks such as the ones sent out by Seif simply could not be the basis for disqualifying a nominee whose bravery on behalf of Egyptian rights qualified her to be nominated.

Egyptian Jews: We support Military’s Fight against Terrorism

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

When Magda Haroun was out on the streets during the unrest now rocking Egypt’s capital, she saw someone standing over the body of a dead soldier.

“Not even a Jew would do this,” she heard him say.

Haroun, the president of the Egyptian Jewish community, doesn’t enjoy hearing anti-Semitic slurs on the street. She gets nervous when she hears Egyptians are burning the churches of Coptic Christians, a much larger religious minority than the country’s tiny Jewish community. She assumes that most of her compatriots have forgotten there are any Jews left in Egypt.

But when protesters filled Cairo’s Tahrir Square at the end of June calling on President Mohamed Morsi to step down, she was right there with them.

“The amount of people in Tahrir was breathtaking,” Haroun told JTA. “The unity between people was breathtaking. Some of the people recognized me because I was on TV. They were shaking my hand and telling me, ‘God bless you. You are a real Egyptian.’ ”

Haroun, 61, is the youngest of the 14 women who make up Cairo’s dwindling Jewish community. Most are now in their 80s, living off charity and rental income from properties the community has owned for generations.

But though small in number, Haroun says the community is proud of its country and, like many Egyptians, supportive of the army’s campaign to quell Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.

The latest round of unrest in Egypt began last month after mass protests in Tahrir Square led the army to depose Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected leader, and install a new government. The Muslim Brotherhood denounced the move as a coup and confrontations raged between its supporters and the military, leaving more than 1,000 Egyptians dead in just the last week alone.

Jews have lived in Egypt for millennia. Around the time of Israel’s founding in 1948, the community was estimated to number 75,000, but in the decades that followed the vast majority fled.

Those that remain are happy to call Egypt home, Haroun says. Although she has relatives in several European countries, she vows to “never, never, never” leave.

“I’m very proud to be here,” she said. “I want to do whatever I can to help. We are a strong people. I am very happy now that people [are] in the street. Instead of talking about football, they are talking politics. There is more awareness about the importance of our country.”

On Tuesday, CNN reported that the White House was withholding some military aid to Egypt in protest of the military’s violent crackdown on Morsi supporters. But for Haroun, the army’s assertion of control is a welcome development she sees as “fighting terrorism.”

Haroun says the Jewish community thus far has not experienced any anti-Semitism as a result of the fighting — probably, she says, because it’s so small.

Under Morsi’s rule, however, it was a different story. Soon after taking office, the government voted to end a monthly subsidy of $1,000 to the Jewish community it had provided for more than 20 years.

“The way they wanted things to go, it’s a fascist movement,” she said. “I hope we’ll start a new era in Egypt where everyone will be equal regardless of political beliefs. I am very confident in the future.”

Another believer in a more tolerant Egyptian future is Levana Zamir, whose family was expelled from Cairo when she was 12. Now living in Tel Aviv, Zamir remembers an Egypt that strived to be open to the world.

“I’m very proud of Egyptians that they want to go back to the secularism and cosmopolitanism of Egypt,” said Zamir, the president of the Association of Jews from Egypt in Israel. “They need someone like [former President Anwar] Sadat, who wanted to open the Arab world.”

Haroun says that as much as the casual anti-Semitism she hears bothers her, she believes it comes from Egyptians’ unfamiliarity with Judaism.

“It’s all talking, there is no action,” she said. “The talk about anti-Semitism is ignorance. The Egyptians are loving. They love each other. It’s ignorance that pushes them to hate and to burn churches.”

Egypt’s unrest will prevent the community from celebrating Rosh Hashanah together in a few weeks. In past years, the community has hosted festive meals and invited foreign dignitaries and non-Jewish Egyptians.

At Last, Secret Obama Middle East Policy Revealed, No Kidding

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

Note: I beg you to read this article and I’ve never said that before. I think in the wake of the Egyptian coup, everything has come clearly together on U.S. Middle East policy. This is the most important article I’ve written in 2.5 years, since predicting the first Egyptian revolution in October 2010. Here is the story.

A statement by two National Security Council senior staff members has revealed the inner thinking of President Barack Obama. It is of incredible importance and I plead with you to read it. If you do you will comprehend fully what’s going on with U.S. foreign policy.

Egypt, Egypt, Egypt… There are more words written about this event than demonstrators in Tahrir Square. But, to quote a recent secretary of state on Benghazi, what difference does it make? A great deal indeed.

First, let’s remember that in the face of advancing totalitarianism in the Middle East, U.S. policy completely y failed. Imagine, if you wish, what would have happened with the Nazis without Winston Churchill and Great Britain in the 1940s. The U.S. government of this day was not only ready to leave Middle Easterners to their fate; it even sided with their actual or potential oppressors.

So who has been waging the battle meanwhile? The people of Iran and Turkey, who have not won because in part the United States failed to encourage the former and did not encourage the Turkish army to do what the Egyptian army did do; the embattled Tunisian and Lebanese anti-Islamists; the Saudis (at times) and the Persian Gulf Arabs (except for Qatar) and Jordan. Oh yes, and also Israel the most slandered and falsely reviled country on earth.

Second, the Benghazi affair was the model of the Obama Administration worldview: If you allow a video insulting Muslims, four American officials will be killed. If you support the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, thousands of Americans might die. This is the result of placing not politics but counter-terrorism in command. 

And this leads to… Barack Obama’s Big Decision

Is President Obama going to come down on the side of the Islamist ex-regime, remember this includes the Salafists in objective terms, or the new regime? What a remarkable irony that Obama endlessly apologized for past U.S. support for dictators and ended up adding a new chapter to that history and heightened anti-Americanism! Remember that one of his last conversations with ex-President Muhammad al-Mursi,

Obama told him that he still regarded him as the democratically elected president of Egypt.

Of course, Obama will have to end up recognizing the new government. The question is how much and how long he will resist that? It is pitiful to know that the best possible result is that he will accept the rulers in Cairo and continue the economic aid. In fact, he should increase it. We should not be talking punishment for the coup but in fact a rich reward, to show others which way the wind blows.

Specifically, U.S. diplomats were urging a deal: a coalition government in Egypt in which the Brotherhood has part of the power.   You can imagine how well that would work and how grateful the Brotherhood (much less the Salafists) and their opponents will be to Obama for proposing they surrender. So in other words, the army, the former opposition, and the Islamists–in short, all of the Egyptian people no matter which side they are on, will see America as their enemy.

And will Obama learn more lessons from this situation?  Will he stop seeking to install a regime in Syria that is worse than Mursi’s? Will he increase support for the real Iranian, Turkish, and Lebanese oppositions? Will he recognize the true strategic realities of Israel and stop seeking to install a regime like Mursi’s in the territories captured by Israel in 1967 (I refer here to Hamas, not the Palestinian Authority which might well give way to Hamas after a state would be established?)

So far though, it looks like Obama is determined to be the protector of oppressive dictatorship in Egypt. Isn’t that what Obama complained about what previous presidents had done? The Obama Administration has called on  Egyptian leaders to pursue, “A transparent political process that is inclusive of all parties and groups,” including “avoiding any arbitrary arrests of Mursi and his supporters,” Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said July 4 in a statement.

The Breakneck Speed of Islamist Transformation in Egypt

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

A critical moment has arrived for Egypt. But in what way?

President Morsi has rescinded much of his decree claiming total power right now. But he could accomplish much the same thing after the Constitution is confirmed and perhaps by forcing reinstatement of the parliament whose election was declared invalid by a court. At any rate, Morsi’s concession has not quieted the demonstrations–another sign that concessions in the Middle East don’t bring agreements–and so this crisis isn’t going away.

There are three broad possibilities: the regime will fall; the opposition will be repressed; or there will be an increasingly violent civil war.

The regime will not fall due to these demonstrations. Remember what happened to the previous, Mubarak regime. It fell for the following reasons:

–The army would not defend it.

–The army then overthrew it.

–The Muslim Brotherhood-led opposition would not compromise.

–The West would not support the regime.

These conditions, except possibly the first one, are not in place today. Ultimately, Mubarak’s regime—not just Mubarak but the whole regime—fell only because the army overthrew it. There is no sign of this happening now. And the West, ironic as that might be, supports the Muslim Brotherhood government, especially because it is willing to go ahead with almost $10 billion in aid. And the Brotherhood will not give in to the opposition on any substantive point, whatever cosmetic maneuvers it makes.

Let’s remember that Western, and particularly U.S. policy has spent the last two years talking about how terrible it is to have a dictatorship or military rule. The armed forces have been systematically discouraged by the West from being in government.

By definition, of course, the Brotherhood regime is supposedly not a dictatorship because it won two elections and is probably about to win a third one. So an elected regime cannot be a dictatorship? Yet this regime has declared that it is above all court decisions and all previous laws. Isn’t that a dictatorship? It intends to impose a highly repressive law on its society. Isn’t that a dictatorship?

The opposition thinks so; the West doesn’t. But what does the army think? Well, it does not take a principled stance against having a dictatorship. It is happy to live with a dictatorship that meets the military’s conditions. These are:

–The army chooses its own leaders.

–The security services set their own budgets.

–Nobody interferes with the military’s vast economic holdings.

The regime has already met the second and third conditions and to retain the military’s backing would give in on the first as well. But the regime wants more: that the armed forces actively put down the demonstrations and this is something that the generals are reluctant to do.Now Morsi has given the army the power to arrest civilians but does it want to do so? The army doesn’t want to be hated, shoot down people, and set off a civil war in which it has to round up hundreds of thousands of people and launch scores of operations each day. True, the police are obedient and will act against these demonstrations just as it formerly tried to repress the anti-Mubarak demonstrations. But the police alone aren’t sufficient.

What happens, then, if the regime doesn’t give in and the army doesn’t stop the demonstrations? The logical conclusion is that the Brotherhood and Salafists will increasingly send violent vigilantes into the street to defend their government. (As this article predicted, on December 11 gunmen opened fire on anti-government demonstrators in Tahrir Square, wounding nine.) They want to ensure the Constitution is adopted on December 15—whether the opposition boycotts the vote is irrelevant to them—and afterward the Brotherhood regime can operate under that Constitution.Then, the opposition will be told: you’ve lost, accept it; you have no choice. And besides, we are acting legally under this Constitution that the people accepted.

President Morsi will have to decide whether to try to override the courts and reinstate the previously elected parliament (almost 75 percent Islamist) or make a concession and allow elections for a new parliament (that might be only 55-60 percent Islamist).

Thus, the key issues are how high the level of violence will rise and whether the current conflicts will make the regime speed up or slow down the fundamental transformation of Egypt into a Sharia state in which Islamic law is strictly interpreted.

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

Angry Protesters in Tahrir Square: Morsi Will Fall Tonight

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Thousands of protesters are converging on Tahrir Square from points around Cairo to rally against President Mohamed Morsi’s constitutional declaration. One protester has died after inhaling teargas, Egypt Independent reports.

Dozens of parties and civil society groups called for the protests after Morsi’s declaration last Thursday which gave him tyrannical powers and declared the Constituent Assembly and the upper house, the Shura Council immune from judicial review.

A march that began in the Shubra neighborhood north of Cairo, led by former presidential candidate Khaled Ali, arrived in the square late Tuesday afternoon.

The old chants of the revolution were back in loud roars, as protesters were shouting, “The people want to bring down the regime,” as well as newer slogans such as, “Bread, freedom, down with Constituent Assembly.”

Several political parties also participated in the Shubra march, including the Free Egyptians party, the Social Democratic Party, the Adl Party, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, and the Revolutionary Socialists Movement.

As he watched the march pass, one passer-by said, “It’s over. Tahrir is already full; Morsi will fall tonight.”

Protesters stressed that their large numbers fly in the face of the Brotherhood’s claim that they represent the majority, chanting, “They said we’re a minority, we showed them a million-man march.”

Coalition coordinator Ehab Moussa said, “Morsi’s latest decisions harm the tourism sector and investments in Egypt. Investors will run away after their trust in the Egyptian judiciary is shaken.”

University students and retired officers were also present in the square, and a Wafd Party march led by party head Al-Sayed al-Badawy had set off from its headquarters towards Tahrir.

“The constitutional declaration is an assault on statehood and the rule of law,” said Mohamed Shaaban, a lawyer. “The president is seeking seize all powers, but the people will not remain silent until he moves back.”

Meanwhile, dozens of Muslim Brotherhood students distributed statements at Ain Shams University reading, “The main goal of the recent constitutional declaration is Egyptians’ interests, in order to hold retrials of protesters’ killers and allocate pensions to the injured and martyrs, as part of their rights.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/angry-protesters-in-tahrir-square-morsi-will-fall-tonight/2012/11/27/

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