A conspiracy theory circulating in the Arab world holds that the Muslim Brotherhood is secretly allied with the Jews, the Anti-Defamation League said.
“It would seem that no allegation made against Jews and Israel is too absurd when it is used to discredit others,” ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said in a statement.
Protesters were shown in a television broadcast last Friday chanting “Khaibar, Khaibar, oh Jews, the Brothers (Muslim Brotherhood) are the Jews,” according to the ADL, which explains that the slogan is meant to evoke an Islamic story of a battle between the Prophet Muhammad and the Jews in the town of Khaibar.
Also, Dubai Police Chief Dahi Khalfan in a Twitter campaign aiming to discredit the Muslim Brotherhood recently alleged an allegiance to Israel and Jews.
“However bizarre and ludicrous, it is an increasingly popular conspiracy theory that the Muslim Brotherhood is a Jewish production to destroy Egyptians,”
IT LOOKS pretty certain that the constitution which Muhammad Morsi, Egypt’s president, has presented to the people will win their endorsement in a referendum that is being held in two stages (see article). On December 15th a majority of voters in the ten provinces polled said yes, though 57% of Cairo’s 6m voters said no. On December 22nd the remaining voters, who are likely to be more conservative, will probably grant their approval, too. Mr Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood party may conclude they have a mandate to guide Egypt in an Islamist direction, away from more open, permissive ways.
They would be wrong to do so. This line of thinking threatens to plunge Egypt into a protracted period of impoverishing instability, which in the end will hurt Islamists as much as everyone else. The more pragmatic Islamists, perhaps including Mr Morsi, should change course while they still have time.
Even if the constitution gets popular approval, it will not have a ringing endorsement. Less than one-third of eligible voters are reckoned to have turned out in the first round of the referendum, and the margin of assent has been slim. Coptic Christians, who make up about a tenth of Egypt’s 85m people, are unnerved by the document’s Islamist flavour, as are many Egyptians with secular, liberal or left-wing views. And despite the referendum results, the Brothers may be losing favour. Since winning a clear plurality in a general election nearly a year ago, their popularity has been dipping.
If this becomes a long stand off as it was at a similar juncture in Pakistan it’s likely that the majority of Egyptians will back the courts.
Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court has said it is halting all work indefinitely in protest at the “psychological pressure” it has faced.
Islamist protesters earlier prevented the judges from meeting in Cairo to rule on a draft constitution.
The supporters of the president wanted to block any ruling that would question the document’s legality.
President Mohammed Morsi has said a referendum on the constitution will be held on 15 December.
His opponents say the draft constitution undermines basic freedoms.
Sunday’s developments are the latest in an unfolding confrontation between Mr Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood supporters on one side, and his mainly secular political opponents and the judiciary on the other.
Mr Morsi adopted sweeping new powers in a decree on 22 November that stripped the judiciary of any power to challenge his decisions, so it is unclear what effect any Supreme Constitutional Court ruling would have.
Share prices on Egypt’s stock exchange have plunged almost 9.5 per cent, days after President Mohamed Morsi assumed sweeping powers that sparked clashes and polarised the country’s politics.
The main EGX-30 index shed 9.49 per cent by midday (10:00 GMT) on Sunday to reach 4,923.19 points, according to the Egyptian Exchange, with trading suspended for half an hour due to intense investor selling.
The bourse suspended trading for 30 minutes after intense selling by investors, as shares slumped in the first session since the president’s announcement.
But the slide continued as soon as share dealing resumed in the face of the deepening political crisis.
The drop comes as Egyptians have been deeply divided by Morsi’s move to forbid the judiciary from challenging his decisions until a new parliament is elected, with rival rallies sparking violence in several major cities.
The Muslim Brotherhood has called for nationwide protests on Sunday in support of Morsi’s decree, which has put him on a collision course with the judiciary and with many of the political forces that brought down Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising in early 2011.
Egypt has had a tumultuous modern history, marked by dramatic shifts—from colonialism to independence, monarchy to socialism, dictatorship to a new, chaotic but more democratic, system.
Laura E. Bier, an American scholar on a Fulbright fellowship to Egypt, wants to find out how changing patterns in consumer behavior—changes as prosaic as what snacks Egyptians buy at their corner shops—illuminate these historical shifts.
Ms. Bier, an assistant professor at Georgia Tech’s School of History, Technology, and Society, is one of six Fulbright scholars in Egypt for the 2012-13 academic year. Several of them plan to study topics related to the 2011 uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, looking at subjects like political cartoons, the writing of Egypt’s new constitution, and the role of women in politics.
Ms. Bier’s research touches in part on the motivations that drove the hundreds of thousands of protesters to the streets to fight for greater political rights and “a respectable, dignified life.” They defined that life, she says, largely in economic terms, as their ability to provide certain basic consumer products for their homes and for their children.
BARACK OBAMA gave a pretty clear defence of the universal human right to be an obnoxious, blasphemy-spewing jerk at the United Nations today. One of the interesting parts of watching the speech (video here, full text here), for me, was trying to figure out which audiences different parts of the speech were addressed to, or how the same sections might play to different audiences. On the one hand, you had the actual people physically present in the hall, who are probably the oddest, toughest, and at the same time probably the least significant audience for the speech. These are, after all, diplomats; they aren’t really supposed to have opinions or sentiments that can be moved by an address. Gatherings of international diplomats and functionaries like the UN General Assembly are by their nature very strange crowds, highly conservative, and in general only responsive to organisationally approved platitudes which they know they can applaud because they’ve already been voted for repeatedly in universal declarations or in a goals document named for a summit in some equatorial capital two decades ago.
I thought I detected a nod to this crowd when Mr Obama quoted Mahatma Gandhi: “Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.” The correct move here was to couch the American defence of the right to blasphemy in the words of a hero of the non-aligned movement whom even the Egyptians might have to applaud, lest they piss off the Indians. Nobody can be against Gandhi! So it’s a safe applause line, for anybody except a funky postmodern anti-anti-colonialist like Dinesh D’Souza; but I doubt he was in the audience. And I thought something similar was going on with this sequence:
The future must not belong to those who target Coptic Christians in Egypt - it must be claimed by those in Tahrir Square who chanted “Muslims, Christians, we are one.” The future must not belong to those who bully women - it must be shaped by girls who go to school, and those who stand for a world where our daughters can live their dreams just like our sons.
It’s not always a safe applause line to bring up girls’ educational rights as part of a discussion of religious tolerance and civil rights in the Muslim world. Except, that is, at the United Nations, where every country present has explicitly ratified girls’ educational rights in various universal declarations and the goals documents named for the summits in the equatorial capitals, which they signed in part because they didn’t think they’d actually mean anything. It is the humanitarian politician’s beautiful art to exploit such settings and carelessly made promises in order to needle these countries a few centimetres closer to actually educating their girls.
Egypt’s new president, for the first time since taking office, is headed to the US. But, President Morsi, unlike his predecessor Mubarak, has included the will of his people in Egypt’s future foreign policy.
For decades, Egypt’s dictators had been useful negotiation partners for the West. Their foreign policy decisions took only little account of what the people of Egypt wanted. A large part of the policies of ousted leader, Hosni Mubarak, was geared toward enriching a small group of the regime’s elite.
But the people have hardly benefited from that, says Osama Nour El-Din, a political scientist with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party. “Under Mubarak, we blindly followed the United States. But now, that’s different,” he says. Now, the country’s foreign policy was serving both sides. “We want Egyptians to see the results of Egyptian foreign policy.”
Most Egyptians critical of the US
President Morsi seeks to strike a balance between old and new allies
This new focus will lead to significant changes in Egypt’s relations with the US, Israel and also Europe. The recent demonstrations outside the US embassy in Cairo were just a first taste of this. The trigger was an anti-Islam video, but the protests might have found fewer supporters had the country been on better terms with Washington.
According to a current poll of the renowned Pew Research Institute, around 79 percent of Egyptians do not like the US because of the countless dead in Iraq and Afghanistan, because of the unconditional support for Israel, because of Washington’s past cooperation with Mubarak and because of the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay.
Unlike Mubarak, Egypt’s new president, Mohamed Morsi, can no longer simply ignore the will of the people; after all, he has to win elections. But, despite the anti-US sentiments in the country, the economic situation forbids him to break with the US. Since the protests, the ties between Cairo and Washington have already cooled down significantly. Just recently, US President Barack Obama described Egypt only as an ally and termed relations merely as “neutral.”
A CRUDE video about the prophet Muhammad that triggered unprecedented protests, became a touchstone for anger across the world through a phone call about two weeks ago from a controversial US-based anti-Islam activist to a reporter for an Egyptian newspaper.
Morris Sadek, a Coptic Christian living in suburban Washington, DC, whose anti-Islam campaigning led to the revocation of his Egyptian citizenship this year, had an exclusive story for Gamel Girgis, who covers Christian emigrants for al-Youm al-Sabaa (The Seventh Day), a daily newspaper in Cairo.
Sadek said he had a clip he wanted Girgis to see and he emailed him a link.
”He told me he produced a movie last year and wanted to screen it on September 11 to reveal what was behind the terrorists’ actions that day,” Girgis said, recalling the first call, which came on September 4.
Sadek, a longtime source, ”considers me the boldest journalist, the only one that would publish such stories”, Girgis said.
He said he found the movie insulting.
On September 6, Girgis published a three-paragraph article, calling the movie ”shocking” and warning it could fuel sectarian tensions between Egyptian Christians and Muslims.
Girgis concluded that the video ”is just a passing crisis that doesn’t affect the bond between Muslims and Copts”.
Five days later, thousands of Egyptians stormed the US embassy in Cairo and burnt the American flag while as many as 125 armed men overwhelmed the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing the US ambassador and three other diplomats.
Three days after that, protests in 23 countries included the ransacking of the German embassy in Sudan and the burning of the American School in Tunisia.
Egypt has just experienced its second coup in as many years. The event was surprising in two ways. First, it will actually strengthen Egyptian democracy. Second, whether they meant to or not, the Israelis helped make it possible.
The first coup came in February 2011, when the Egyptian Army responded to popular protests by removing President Hosni Mubarak from office. Although it came in the context of the Arab Spring, and the generals claimed it was just an interim measure, this was assuredly a military coup. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, led by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, allowed legislative and presidential elections. But it kept control through the nation’s constitutional court, which oversaw the disqualification of several important presidential candidates and eventually ordered the legislature to dissolve just as voters were electing Mohamed Mursi, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Since Mursi was elected in June — indeed, since the legislative elections in January — there has been serious tension between the elected representatives of the Brotherhood and the military. The goal of the Supreme Council, and especially of Tantawi, has been to delegitimize the politicians by claiming that they are Islamists intent on turning the country into another Iran. This old tactic, borrowed from Mubarak and other dictators in the region, has resonance in some foreign capitals, and no doubt with some Egyptian secularists who fear what an Islamic democracy in their country might look like.
Meanwhile, the goal of the Islamic democrats has been to weaken the army and use the fact that they were elected to generate public support. The only trouble with this strategy has been that the army wouldn’t budge, and that the Egyptians who went to the streets for freedom in the early Arab Spring haven’t been eager to repeat their heroic efforts.
Hence the subtlety of the latest coup. It came in the aftermath of an Aug. 5 attack by jihadis on an Egyptian military encampment in the Sinai desert, not far from the Gaza border. The militants, who probably included local tribesmen and al- Qaeda-trained outsiders, and probably got help from Palestinians inside Gaza, killed 16 Egyptian soldiers. Then they crossed into Israel, where they would presumably have attacked Kibbutz Kerem Shalom just across the border. They made it a mile in — half a mile from the kibbutz — before Israeli strikes wiped them out.
The resulting humiliation for the Egyptian military gave Mursi the chance he had been waiting for. Over the course of several days, he forced the retirement of the head of intelligence and then of Tantawi himself and the other senior- most brass. They went unwillingly, but they went.
Many in Egypt today stayed home. That enthusiasm and joy to be voting in a free election for the first time had given way to resignation, during the second round of presidential voting, which started yesterday.
That’s the picture reports out of Egypt today are painting.
Perhaps that was most evident with Hussein, a Cairo taxi driver that Ahram, the Egyptian newspaper, spoke to at one of the polls.
“Why should I vote? My vote doesn’t count and the picture is very clear - they want [Ahmed] Shafiq and they are going to make him the next president whoever we vote for,” he told the paper. But he voted and he also voted during the first round of presidential elections.
“At the time I thought we were having real elections but now I know it’s a soap opera; just like the Ramadan TV series,” he said.
This past Thursday, Egypt’s high court threw the country into uncertainty when it declared that some parliamentary elections were illegal and thus the whole parliament should be dissolved. Many also saw the ruling of the supreme court — with most judges appointed before the fall of Hosni Mubarak — as a “smooth military coup.”