Jan 31, 2011

7 Days of Uprising

I am still in Egypt and for now I am able to get my messages out.

The Protesters continue to call for the removal of Mubarak and his regime. Although he formed a new cabinet, the protest movement does not approve of any individuals linked to the Mubarak regime.

As we mentioned yesterday, the regime released more than 30,000 prison inmates. The convicts were briefed by high ranking police officials to commit acts of looting, vandalism, and burning. They were given cash and weapons to perpetrate these acts against the citizenry.

It seems clear that the Ministry of Interior's strategy is to create a negative image of the Protest Movement and to turn the Egyptian public against the demonstrators.

That strategy has failed. The Egyptian people have organized and formed neighborhood militias t0 defend their homes from these ruffians. Over 3000 have been arrested as of Sunday and the militias continue to defend their neighborhoods.

I spoke to a close friend after she returned from one of the demonstrations in Tahrir Square. She said the this was the most friendly, neighborly group of demonstrators that she could imagine. All persons are courteous and helpful to each other. Chairs are brought for elderly protesters and special care is given to anyone less physically able. There are people cleaning the area, washing glasses and plates, and generally making the best of a terrifying situation.

Bread is unavailable in the country and food supplies are quickly dwindling. The regime continues to do all it can to make life unbearable for the citizenry.

Tomorrow there will be a March of Millions to demonstrate solidarity. It reminds me of the Million Man March by Dr. Martin Luther King. Let's hope these people also find freedom.

Relevant Links:

Al Jazeera Journalists are Detained

Jan 30, 2011

Egyptian Protesters' Defiance

I am still in Egypt and dictating brief messages through an associate. Please realize that these messages are coming from hastily dictated phone conversations and are highly paraphrased. However I could not miss the opportunity to give my impressions of this historic moment in world history.

The Latest Developments :

Minister of Interior Habib Adly ordered the police away from the protest sites. Not one one Egyptian policeman could be seen on the streets of Cairo on January 29.

Meanwhile the police were given orders to release thousands of prison inmates with orders to prey on the citizenry. These inmates were guilty of looting and violence throughout the country.

The infamy of the government, the criminal act of releasing inmates to attack the citizenry, vindicates this revolution and should encourage these brave people to continue their quest for freedom.

This heinous criminal act was perpetrated to give the world the impression that the protesters were violent. In fact all violence has been perpetrated by instruments of the regime. Most deaths and injuries to this point are caused by police firing live ammunition into crowds.

The Protesters did not back down. They formed neighborhood militias armed with clubs and kitchen knives. In cooperation with the Army, the Protester Militias, the only true Representatives of the Egyptian People, arrested 3113 criminals and delivered them to the Army.

My own nephews participated in these organized militias and arrested 17 criminals in their own neighborhood. This is a sign that these people are capable of driving their own destiny. They are restoring order even as the criminal regime continues to cause anarchy .

One group of inmates broke into the Egyptian museum in search of plunder. After some destruction, they were attacked and captured by a group of young protesters from Tahrir Square. The Army now protects the Egyptian museum. The potential loss of antiquity would have been not just a loss to Egypt, but the world as a whole.

The people sent a very loud message with their courage. The police are essentially defeated, their desperate gambit of releasing prison inmates has failed, and the people still stand united.

Jan 29, 2011

Egypt's Day of Anger

I am currently traveling in Egypt with my wife visiting family. I am experiencing the events here first hand. We have no Internet but I am dictating this brief message through an associate. I will write more detailed information later. I wanted to send out some brief impressions.

This text is highly paraphrased and abbreviated because it was verbally conveyed. I will send detailed articles when the Internet is restored.

This historic day is known as "The Facebook Revolution of January 25", "The Lotus Revolution", and "The Day of Anger".

The Egyptian people have demonstrated outstanding courage in the face of oppression and thuggery. This revolution is driven by young people who want change. They want democracy and opportunity.

Mubarak's speech last night brought frustration and anger to the people as did his appointment of a vice president that is a regime insider. The people want the Mubarak regime to be expelled along with his corruption, torture and thuggery.

The demonstrators are mostly educated people. They are comprised of college students and professionals, not Islamic fundamentalists. They want an end to oppression as well as opportunity and an end to poverty. They want democracy and a hand in their own future.

Facebook was initially used to organize the peaceful demonstrations until the government shut down the Internet and responded violently to the protests. Now the protests are organized by word of mouth and land lines. The human network continues to communicate even in the absence of the Internet.

The violence and looting has been perpetrated by the convicts that were released from the jails by the government. Another example of criminal thuggery by this totalitarian regime.

The death toll continues to rise. Most deaths are caused by police bullets aimed at demonstrators, who are unarmed. The police are aligned with the Mubarak regime.

The Army has been non-violent to this point and largely welcomed by the demonstrators. Many military vehicles have spray painted sign "Down with Mubarak". This is of course done by the demonstrators, but the Army is tolerating it and has not taken aggressive action.

Much of the country is watching carefully to see which way the Army will turn, as this could be the linchpin of the result.

When the Internet is restored I will publish a more complete account. Please comment on this post with your own information. Let's support these courageous people in their historic fight for freedom.

Relevant Articles in this Blog :

Hani Fakhouri

Jan 25, 2011

Lebanon Political Instability

Lebanon is facing another political upheaval. Prime minister Sa’id Al Hariri’s government collapsed as a result of his support of the International Court of Justice, which is investigating the assassination of his father Prime Minister Rafiq Al Hariri in 2005.
Hizbu Allah who refused to cooperate with the International Court withdrew its support to the Hariri’s cabinet when the latter directed its investigation towards members of Hizbu Allah.
The US government, through the United Nations, was instrumental in the appointment of the International Court to investigate the murder of the Lebanese Prime Minister. It should be added here that rumors were circulating that both Syrian agents as well as Israeli agents planted the explosion. Syria was then classified as a terrorist state. Not only because of the Hariri’s murder, but also because of its close association with Iran and Hizbu Allah whose members were classified as terrorists!
The International Court of Justice dropped its investigation regarding the Syrian involvement when it found out that the witnesses provided by the Lebanese securities gave false information. The Court then accused some members of Hizbu Allah who refused to cooperate stressing the fact that the Lebanese judicial court should investigate the matter. The United Nations and the US government continue to support the International Court of Justice. This disagreement is now politicized, and has some disturbing repercussion.
On January 24, the Lebanese President conducted discussions with various political groups to appoint a Sunni Muslim candidate to replace Sa’ad Al Hariri. Najib Muqati was asked to form a new cabined. This is creating chaos, since the Hariri’s supporters are opposing any candidate that might replace their candidate.
One of the major problems faced by the Lebanese politicians is the fact that the political system is based on sectarianism. A division created by the French colonial administration during their occupation of Lebanon during the 1940s. A gentleman agreement was established which was not drafted as part of the Constitution. The agreement was that the President should be a Christian Maronite, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim and the Speaker of Parliament a Shi’a Muslim. This agreement is presently not taking in consideration the demographic composition of each group. Hence, we cannot classify Lebanon as a democracy based on the majority of voters.
Unfortunately, different governments, regional and international manipulate sectarianism in Lebanon to advance their own interest: such as Syrian, Israeli, Egyptian, Saudi Arabia, France, Britain and the USA.
The tragedy behind the USA political role in Lebanon’s internal affairs is that the Israeli government who is strongly supported by the USA Congress manipulates it. The latter considers Syria and Hizbu Allah as the enemy of Israel.
Since Syria was not considered a suspect anymore, the UN Security Council and the USA government should have requested the International Court of Justice to end its investigation in Al Harir’s assassination and allow the Lebanese Judicial Court to assume such responsibility.

Jan 20, 2011

Tunis in the news

Tunis and the people’s rage against their previous head of state Ben Ali are still front-page news. A mafia consisting of two clans ruled the country: that of Ben Ali, the ex- President, and of Al Tarabulsi, the ex-President’s wife. The new acting Prime Minister, Mohamed al Ghanoushi, stated, “ Laila Al Tarabulsi was the actual ruler of Tunis.” In a statement released to the press he said that members of both clans should be investigated for corruption and the abuse committed against the Tunisian people.

Billions of dollars have been smuggled illegally out of Tunis and invested in Western and South American banks by members of both clans. The French newspaper, Le Monde, reported that the accumulated wealth of Ben Ali during the past 23 years of his rule was estimated at 5 billion Euros. It was reported that his wife, Laila Al Tarabulsi, embezzled 1.5 tons of gold from the Tunisian Central Bank before she fled the country.

Despite the Tunisian’s people success in removing their corrupt dictator from power after more than two decades of ruthless suppression, some of his cabinet ministers are still running the government. The Tunisians are objecting and are demanding their resignation.

Al Ghanoushi himself was part of the Ben Ali corrupt regime. Ironically he is trying to establish a transitional government and is calling for free election! He should not be permitted to head the transitional Tunisian government. There are very highly qualified Tunisians who could arrange for free election and be trusted to initiate the drafting of a new constitution for a secular state.

Prior to the uprising, Wickileaks revealed that a wide scale corruption is going on in Tunis. Both the United States and French governments were aware of it. In general Western politicians overlook the corruption of Arab head of states as long as their national interest is served. They react to events such as the uprising in Tunis after the deluge, and begin talking about “democracy” and “free elections.” This is a shortsighted policy, and the public in the Arab world is definitely resenting it. A reaction that might lead to some drastic conclusions!

Unfortunately, in the United States and the West in general, politicians have failed to learn from previous mistakes when dealing with corrupt regimes in the Middle East. A classic example is the way the US government dealt with the Shah of Iran, an ally, when the people in Iran revolted against him. He was refused political asylum in the United States. A second example is the most recent reaction of the French government who refused to allow the Tunisian president to seek political refuge in France. Hence, political leaders in the Arab world should not rely on Western powers to protect them, or guarantee the survival of their regimes. People’s wishes and determination are usually attained irrespective of any suppression.

Jan 17, 2011

The Recent Tunisian Uprising

The Tunisian popular uprising that let to the expelling of a corrupt and authoritarian head of state has set a new trend in the Arab world.

Mohamed Bouazizi, an unemployed college graduate, initiated this historical event. He set himself on fire due to government’s confiscation of his fruits and vegetables that he was peddling to earn a living.

This event was a powerful signal to the Tunisian people all over the country. It sparked a popular and national protest that lasted for several weeks and caused the killing of more that sixty protestors by the police.

The determination of the Tunisian people to continue their protest led to the fleeing of president Zain al Abdeen of the country.

In earlier posts I had referred to the high unemployment rate all over the Arab world, especially among college graduates. The unemployment rate among young people in Arab states has been estimated between 15-20 million. Such rate of unemployment has added to the prevailing poverty where nearly 50% of the total population in large states is classified as poverty stricken. This continuous increase of the cost of living, especially of the basic food, added fuel to the fire.

What happened in Tunisia had ramifications in other Arab countries. Immediately following the collapse of the Tunisian regime, the Egyptian, Jordanian, Yemini, Algerian, Syrian and Moroccan governments announced their lowering of food prices and in some countries the tax rate to allow the public to cope with their basic needs.

There were public demonstrations in almost all Arab countries in support of the Tunisian uprising and some demanded the resignation of high public officials. In Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania and Egypt young men set themselves on fire to sacrifice themselves in protest of the political suppression and poor economic conditions in their countries.

The Arab world is sitting on a very explosive volcano that may erupt any time unless authoritarian regimes implement democracy.

Jan 5, 2011

الدين لله والوطن للجميع

The Alexandria church attack caused outrage among the Egyptian public in particular and the world in general. The savage terrorist attack that caused the deaths and wounding of innocent people after a religious mass was also condemned by the top political and religious leadership of Egyptian society. President Mubarak, Dr. Al-Tayyeb the rector of al-Azhar, Dr. Jumma, the Islamic Mufti of Egypt and Pope Shenouda, the head of the Coptic Church in Egypt. All expressed their rage and stressed Egyptian unity. In addition, protest movements by university students and the public expressed their support of the Coptic community and stressed Egyptian national unity as the main policy to combat terrorism and foreign interference.

As an academic who lived and conducted research in Egypt since 1960, I have observed Islamic militant trend that began to rise in the 1970s during President Sadat’s government, where certain Muslim groups In Egypt viewed Copts as an alien minority. This wave of discrimination in the Arab world was also enhanced by the increasing influence of the Saudi Wahabi sect nearly all over the Arab world. Those Muslim fanatics including bin Laden and al-Qaeda are a disgrace for Islam and their phony struggle will lead nowhere. In addition, it will continue to enhance Islamophobia worldwide.

Furthermore, government policy towards the Copts enhanced discrimination. For example, Copts are not allowed to build their own churches or to renovate existing ones. The same laws are not applied to Islamic places of worship. In any society, when discrimination is based on religious affiliation, the society is in trouble.

Egypt is in big trouble and unless the government moves fast to remove the obstacles that prevent Copts from building their own churches, discrimination and upheaval will continue. Discrimination contributes to the weakening of a society’s social structure and opens the doors for foreign interference. Pope Benedict XVI called on the Egyptian government to protect its Christian minority. The irony is that throughout human history, Egypt created a more peaceful atmosphere for its people than other countries did, including those in the West.

In a speech given by Prince Hassan of Jordan at a Greek Orthodox church in Amman, he condemned not only the attacks on churches in Iraq and Egypt, but also emphasized the fact that such attacks are in violation of basic Islamic teaching. Prophet Muhammad emphasized that the followers of the Holy books (Christians and Jews) should be treated with respect and equality. The prince continued to point to the contributions Christians have made throughout history in all walks of life. They are the ones who introduced the first printing machines in Syria and Lebanon and were leading thinkers and contributors to Arabic language. Going back to the 7th and 8th centuries, leading Christian and Jewish scientists played a significant role in the development of Arab-Islamic civilization. The Christian minorities in the Arab world played a significant role in nationalist movements fighting European colonialism of the Arab world. As the common Arabic saying goes, الدين لله والوطن للجميع or “Religion for God,and national home for all”.

Jan 2, 2011

Recent Church Attack in Egypt and Iraq

The terrorist attacks that were committed against Christian churches in Iraq and Egypt that led to the killing and wounding of many innocent people has been condemned by Arab Christians and Muslims and people worldwide.

No religion in the world can approve of such crimes and it is an act in violation of the basic teachings of religions beliefs. The attackers have no respect for human life and dignity. For that reason and others the attack has received wide Arab condemnation.

The terrorist attacks against Christian churches in Iraq have led to an exodus to neighboring countries like Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Some left to other European countries. The Iraqi Christians are a minority and their number was estimated at 800,000 in 2003. By 2009, their number decreased to between 450,000 and 500,000. Prior to the American invasion of Iraq, the Christian minority was very well treated by the Saddam Hussein government and many occupied high government position. After the invasion of Iraq and with the penetration of the Israeli Mossad who served in secret as advisors to the occupying forces, things began to deteriorate. Religious and ethnic problems were intensified in Iraq. Throughout history, the concept of “divide and rule” has been used by foreign invaders to create instability, socially and politically, to weaken the national structure of a society. Religious friction and ethnic affiliations were intensified in Iraq. For example, Sunni Muslims vs. Shia'a Muslims, Muslims vs. Christians and Kurds vs. Arabs. Such religious and ethnic divisions in Iraq turned out to be a major problem that has weakened the basic social fabric of the society and eliminated the substantial social, political and scientific progress that was accomplished under the previous regime, especially during the 1970s and 1980s.

The manipulation of the religious and ethnic factors by foreign powers has not been limited to Iraq, but has also been a problem in Egypt. Conflicts between Egyptian Copts and Egyptian Muslims have been increasing during the past few decades, despite the fact that both Copts and Muslims have lived together in a peaceful manner for thousands of years. However, foreign interference in a covert and/or overt manner has been taking place through various channels to create instability, socially and politically to weaken Egypt. This is keeping the government busy with internal problems so that the focus is removed from economic and scientific development. Until recently, Egypt has been viewed as the heart of the Arab world; whatever happened in Egypt would impact the rest of the Arab world.

There is speculation that the latest attack on a Christian church in Alexandria, which led to the deaths of 21 people and injured more than 80 others, was manipulated by foreign powers. A previous warning from the Iraqi al-Qaeda a few months ago stated that Christian churches would be targeted. Another speculation in the Egyptian mass media is that the Israeli Mossad has been playing a role through their secret agents to create a religious conflict between the Egyptian Copts and Egyptian Muslims. The Copts are a minority in Egyptian society and their number has been estimated to be nearly 10% of the population that has lived in harmony and peace for the last two thousand years. Israel’s covert role in Egypt was noted by the previous director of the Israeli Mossad who stated that his agency has spent millions of dollars in Egypt and Southern Sudan to create religious conflicts between Christians and Muslims. (www.aljazeera.net, 1/1/2011). Furthermore, the Egyptian spy that was arrested recently was working with the Israeli Mossad and admitted during a recent investigation that the Mossad instructed him to recruit agents who will promote religious conflict between Copts and Muslims in Egypt.

Such an Israeli policy is of no surprise to those who are well aware of the Israeli strategy in the region. They are trying to weaken Egypt by creating internal religious conflict and keeping the government preoccupied so that it does not focus on economic and educational development.

Israeli strategy began to pay dividends for the Israeli government in regard to their secret activities in Southern Sudan. Again, the concept of “divide and rule” has been the name of the secret game that has been played by the West in the Arab world during the past thousand years. It started with Pope Benedict II who called for the Crusader wars during the 10th century under the pretext of saving Christ’s lands from the infidels, despite the fact that the followers of the three basic monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) were living together in peace.

Pope Benedict II planted the seeds of religious conflict then that has been occurring on and off for thousands of years. Furthermore, since 1948, the Israeli government began to assume the role of spying and causing conflict, abiding by the West’s actions in the Middle East of “divide and rule”. Israel is becoming a dominant military power. Fortunately, more and more people in the Arab world have begun to become more aware of the Israeli-American interference in their internal affairs. Israel is nothing but a cancer in the region.

On the brighter side, the latest attack in Alexandria has begun to sober up the Egyptian public to the dangers being created by foreign agents, which has led to Muslims and Copts uniting against religious terrorism in Egypt. This new public trend is reflected in the joint public demonstrations by Muslims and Christians that are taking place in Alexandria as well as other parts of Egypt.
The following call was circulated among Egyptian Muslims

دعو كل المصريين المسلمين و عائلاتهم لحضور صلاة الخميس مع المصريين الأقباط ، هذا هو الرد الصحيح على كل دعاة الفتنة و الأرهاب

أرجو نشر هذة الدعوة