April 24, 2014

Egypt: The Sonata of the Departed

Screen grab shows the flag-wrapped caskets of 25 policemen killed execution-style in Sinai on August 19.

BY NAEL M. SHAMA Cairo – The military funeral of 25 policemen who were massacred in cold blood in Sinai last month was intensely touching. The slow, dignified procession, the sad funeral dirge, the anguish of the mothers of the fallen and the tears of mourners exuded an overwhelming sense of grief. Funerals are always poignant and gloomy. They remind us of the brevity of life, the inevitability of death and the fragility of our souls. Some funerals also help us capture the immense capacity of the living to inflict injustice and death. Men are all equal in death, differences…

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Op:ed: In Egypt, Only the Dead Know Who is Right

Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim (center) at the funeral of police officers on Aug. 15. Police has been instructed to use live ammunition to protect state buildings. Hundreds of protesters and tens of police have been killed since then.

BY DEENA DOUARA Cairo – I think, perhaps, amid all the emotion, one can make a calculated decision on where to stand on the violence in Egypt. I understand both arguments. Security forces are massacring mostly peaceful demonstrators with impunity, ushering in the type of force we sought to overthrow in 2011, the type of brutality we despised for years, that made martyrs of young faces now rendered across Tahrir Square. Or, Morsi supporters are being dealt with after firing first, attacking police stations and churches, threatening to “burn” Egypt. They are terrorists seeking to rip apart — both literally…

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Editorial: Egypt’s False Dichotomies

File photo of tens of bodies kept cool with ice blocks in Iman Mosque on Aug. 15, one day after the police's violent dispersal of an anti-coup protest in Nasr City, Cairo.

BY RANIA AL MALKY Cairo – It’s been a week since the brutal dispersal of Cairo’s largest anti-coup protests in Rabaa and Nahda squares, a week of lies, hate, bloodshed and xenophobia. Having manufactured “enemies-of-the-state” out of tens of thousands of Egyptians opposed to a political setback that has catapulted the country back 60 years to the height of Nasser’s police state, Egypt’s de facto ruling military is on a path of no return. False dichotomies propagated by conspiratorial public and private media in perfect sync and that have tragically split every Egyptian family, are the bedrock of the violence…

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Op-ed: The Myth of Khaki Democracy

Screen grab shows Defense Minister Abdel Fattah El Sisi who led the coup against ousted President Morsi on July 3.

BY IAN BURUMA New York – Egypt and Thailand have little in common, except for one thing. In both countries, at different times, educated people who pride themselves on being democrats have ended up applauding military coups against elected governments. They had resisted oppressive military regimes for many years. But, in Thailand in 2006, as in Egypt last month, they were happy to see their political leaders ousted by force. This perversity is not without reason. The elected leaders in both countries, Thaksin Shinawatra in Thailand and Mohamed Morsi in Egypt, were good examples of illiberal democrats: they tended to…

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Op-ed: And the winner is…?

Near Ittihadiya Presidential Palace, crowds gathered to give Defense Minister Sissi a "mandate" to fight "potential terrorism". (Photo by Hassan Ibrahim)

BY REHAM BARAKAT Cairo – At midnight last Friday, I could still hear the fireworks exploding outside my window, along with the sound of helicopter engines purring over the Presidential Palace exactly a minute’s walk from my window. It was the day hundreds of thousands of Egyptians across the nation decided to step outside into the streets in what was coined a “protest against potential terrorism” to use the words of Egypt’s Minister of Defense Abdel Fatah El Sissi. I refused to join the plodding march to provide the Armed Forces with a metaphorical “mandate” to resist “terrorism” in the…

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Editorial: Sisi’s Ultimatums

File photo: Tens of thousands have been protesting against the coup near Rabaa El Adaweya mosque since June 28.

BY RANIA AL MALKY Cairo – Yesterday Egypt’s de facto leader Army Chief Abdel Fattah El-Sisi waged war against “possible terrorism” in the second 48-hour ultimatum he gives the Muslim Brotherhood in a month. So much for the charade of civilian leadership when Sisi side-steps the interim president, prime minister, his deputies and cabinet (all unelected) and calls Egyptians into the streets to give the military a “mandate” to confront weeks of violence, in an ill-begotten statement Wednesday seen by many as a prelude to a massacre of pro-Morsi supporters who have maintained a sit-in since June 28. A military…

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Op-ed: The Past in Egypt’s Present

File photo of a protest rally in Cairo.

BY TAREK OSMAN Cairo - LONDON – In The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, the Czech novelist Milan Kundera wrote that, “The past is full of life, eager to irritate us, provoke and insult us, tempt us to destroy or repaint it. The only reason people want to be masters of the future is to change the past.” Egypt’s recent past is indeed provocative. Mohamed Ali, the Ottoman adventurer who took control in 1805 after France’s withdrawal, began to modernize Egypt by introducing effective administration, industrialization, exposure to Europe, and a standing army. The Mohamed Ali dynasty’s first six decades in power…

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Op-ed: Coup vs. revolution: Which narrative to prevail?

File photo of anti-Morsi protesters during the June 30 uprising.

BY ABDELGHANY SAYED Cairo -Following 18 days of protests in around five governorates, Egyptians woke up on 11 February 2011 to see military tanks across the country; while rumors spread that Mubarak is about to step down. A few hours after midday, Egypt’s ex-spy chief, who was appointed as vice-president on 29 January 2011, Omar Suleiman, announced that Mubarak has stepped down and handed power over to the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), while SCAF’s spokesperson announced that the military took over power. Mubarak was then put under house arrest by the military in an unknown place, (Sharm El-Sheikh according…

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Op-ed: A bitter reconciliation

Clashes in Cairo between pro and anti-Morsi protesters were violently crushed by police leaving seven dead and over 240 injured late Monday.

BY REHAM BARAKAT Cairo – As I write this article on a tepid Ramadan night in Cairo, I cannot help but feel that Ramadan this year does not emanate any sense of peace and tranquility. I say this as I follow news of clashes in Cairo between pro-Morsi supporters, police and exasperated members of the local community where it has been reported that last night 7 people were killed, over 200 injured and more than 400 arrested. I can already hear the voices of those who were against the June 30 protests that led to the removal of Morsi, yelling…

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Op-ed: Bring Back Egypt’s Elected Government

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians continue an open-ended sit-in to support Mohamed Morsi, the country's first elected civilian president, who is currently being held incommunicado in an undisclosed location following a military coup.

BY JEFFREY D. SACHS New York – Putting an end to Egypt’s deepening polarization and rising bloodshed requires one urgent first step: the reinstatement of Mohamed Morsi as Egypt’s duly elected president. His removal by military coup was unjustified. While it is true that millions of demonstrators opposed Morsi’s rule, even massive street protests do not constitute a valid case for a military coup in the name of the “people” when election results repeatedly say otherwise. There is no doubt that Egyptian society is deeply divided along sectarian, ideological, class, and regional lines. Yet the country has gone to the polls…

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