Friday, 31 August 2012

'Official' English Text of Mursi's Tehran Speech


Opening Statement by
H.E. Mohamed Morsy
President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
President of the XV Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement
Opening Session of the XVI Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement

Tehran, The Islamic Republic of Iran

August 30th, 2012
(English translation of the original version delivered in Arabic)

In the name of God the most Merciful and Compassionate.
Peace be upon Prophet Muhammad,
upon all the Prophets and Messengers of God,
and upon his companions Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali.
His Excellency President Mahmud Ahmadi Nejad the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran,
Excellencies Heads of States or Governments,
Ministers and Heads of Delegations,
His Excellency Dr. Nabil El-Araby Secretary General of the Arab League,
His Excellency Nassir Abdelaziz Al-Nasr, President of the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly,
His Excellency Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations,
Ambassadors and Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I declare open the XVI Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement. The Movement that succeeded to turn the vision of its founding fathers from principles and concepts to concrete actions, from a condition of weakness to a source of strength at the international stage.
At the outset, I would like to thank the Islamic Republic of Iran for hosting this Summit. I would also like to express our appreciation for the warm welcome, the kind hospitality and excellent organizational arrangements by our Iranian hosts.
I would also like to renew our thanks to the Republic of Cuba for its sincere efforts to promote the objectives of the Movement during its tenure at the NAM Troika for the past nine years. In addition, I welcome the incoming Troika member, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the host of the XVII Summit of the Movement in 2015.
A special welcome is also due to Mr. Ban Ki-moon the Secretary General of the United Nations, to Dr. Nabil El-Araby, the Secretary General of the Arab League and to Mr. Nasser El-Nasr, the President of the General Assembly.
We meet today at one of the most important moments in contemporary history, in the aftermath of the Egyptian peaceful Revolution that has, in fact, started a number of years ago, and materialized only on January 25, 2011, when Egyptians united to topple a despotic regime that never reflected the interests of its own people.
Egyptians succeeded with the help of God and their own solidarity to pass through a difficult transitional period, full of challenges. Unity among Egyptians, the peaceful nature of the Egyptian Revolution and solidarity between the army and the people was instrumental to reaching this success.
The early beginnings of the Movement started with a similar active participation by Egypt and its leadership, who truly represented, then, the will of the people. Yes, Nasser was representing the will of the Egyptian people to resist foreign hegemony on emerging nations back then.
The Egyptian Revolution represents the corner stone of the Arab Spring. It was preceded by the Revolution in Tunisia. It was also followed by the Revolutions in Libya, in Yemen and now in Syria against the oppressive regime there.
The Egyptian Revolution has succeeded in achieving its political objectives. Now, political power has been finally transferred to a truly civilian government, elected by the Egyptians without any foreign interference. Egypt has now become a national, constitutional, democratic, modern state.
We meet today amidst a multitude of challenges facing our countries.
The Palestinian people continue, with impressive courage, their struggle for the fulfillment of their legitimate right to establish their own independent State.
The Syrian people are engaged in a struggle for freedom, justice and human dignity.
The current international system is facing many challenges, foremost among them is the international financial crisis and the failure of the institutions entrusted to maintain international peace and security to discharge their responsibilities. An increasing number of Non-Aligned countries are facing unprecedented internal and external threats. Intolerance, discrimination, extremism and international terrorism are on the rise. The problem of climate change is becoming more acute. The suffering of a number of developing countries from poverty and endemic disease is increasing.
Brothers and Sisters,
It is the destiny of the Non Aligned Movement to play a pivotal role in these decisive moments. The Movement was established at the height of the Cold War, when colonized peoples were struggling to earn their independence and sovereignty. The Ten Principles of the Movement constituted a solid foundation to protect the political and economic interests of its peoples. Despite the shifts in the international political landscape, the Movement has maintained its fundamental principles. It never deviated from its original objectives. The inclusive framework established by the Movement was able to protect the interests of newly independent developing countries. It succeeded in creating a wide international framework that established a new legitimacy for a foreign policy that distanced itself from military alliances and bipolarity. A legitimacy that permitted newly independent countries that had just escaped from the oppression of colonialism, to focus on new objectives based on the principles of independence and positive neutrality.
Excellencies,
The main theme of this Summit: “Lasting Peace through Joint Global Governance” clearly reflects the vision that our Movement needs to embrace energetically as we move towards a world that is more just; as we look forward to take an active role in the governance of the international system.
The “New Egypt” is seeking the establishment of an equitable international system that can save the developing countries from the vicious circles of poverty, dependence and marginalization and launch them into an era where they master their own initiative, and march them towards prosperity and strength. This will not happen unless we reach a global understanding that underscores the necessity to apply the principles of democracy to the international system itself, and genuine multilateralism on international politics. It is no longer acceptable to respect the requirements of democracy at the national level, while rejecting them at the international level. It is no longer acceptable to look forward to apply the principles of diversity and equity at the national level and set them aside in the system of international governance.
Egypt believes that one of the fundamental elements of this new equitable international system lies in enhancing the contribution of developing countries in the management and reform of global governance institutions in order to secure equitable participation in setting the global agenda and more effective participation in the process of international decision making at the political, economic and social levels.
The first step towards reaching this goal is the comprehensive reform and enlargement of the Security Council to make it more in tune with the global system in the 21st century. It is no longer acceptable to maintain the historic injustice against Africa by leaving it out of the category of permanent membership, let alone its disproportionate low representation in the non-permanent category. This is happening at the time when the majority of issues under consideration in the Council pertain to situations in African countries.
At the same time, we have to revitalize the role of the General Assembly, and increase its contribution in peace and security matters, as it is the most democratic and representative organ of the United Nations. We have witnessed in the last few month how important it is for the General Assembly to assume a more active role at the time when the Security Council was deadlocked regarding a number of international crises, the last of which was the situation in Syria.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The issue of Palestine has been at the forefront of NAM's priorities since the Movement's inception and will remain as such until a just and comprehensive solution, that preserves the inalienable and legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, is attained, including the establishment of a Palestinian state on the June 4, 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
We must continue to stand up for justice, and provide the necessary political backing for any effort aiming to attain full Palestinian membership in the United Nations. We should also shed light on the suffering imposed by the occupation forces on the people of Palestine, particularly the on the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, which contradict the principles and customs of international law. On this occasion, I would like to commend the Declaration adopted by the Ministerial Meeting of the NAM Coordinating Bureau in Sharm El Sheikh in May 2012 on Palestinian Political Prisoners. This important document highlighted the plight of these prisoners. It reiterated the Movement's solidarity with their noble struggle.
On its part, Egypt intends to fully support the Palestinian endeavors at the UN General Assembly or the Security Council to join the United Nations as a full member, should the Palestinian leadership decide to do so. Egypt will also continue to support Palestinian reconciliation efforts in order to enhance the unity of the Palestinian people. In this context, I wish to seize this opportunity to encourage our Palestinian brothers of every affiliation to set aside their differences and reconcile, and to begin implementing the recent understandings reached in Cairo to enable them to direct their attention on their real plight which is combating the occupation and attaining the freedom of the Palestinian people.
Here, I wish to refer to and deplore the recent Israeli decision to prevent a number of Foreign Ministers, members of the NAM's Committee on Palestine, from entering Ramallah on August 5th to attend the Committee's Extraordinary Meeting.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Our solidarity with the plight of the Syrian people against a repressive regime that has lost its legitimacy is not only a moral duty but one of political and strategic necessity. It emanates from our conviction that Syria will one day be free and strong. We should declare our full support for the struggle of those brave men and women seeking freedom and justice in Syria. We should turn our sentiments into a clear political vision that ensures Syria's peaceful transformation into a democratic state that respects its peoples' yearning for freedom, justice and equality. Such a vision must also safeguard Syria from drifting to a civil war or fall victim to sectarian strife. On this note, I wish to emphasize the need to unify the Syrian opposition in a way that guarantees the interests of all factions of the Syrian society, and in a manner that preserves the unity and stability of this great nation.
On its part, Egypt stands ready to cooperate with all relevant parties to stop the bloodshed in Syria and articulate a vision on what a future and free Syrian state would look like. Egypt has proposed an initiative during the recent Extraordinary Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Mecca that seeks to coordinate the efforts of the relevant regional parties to end this bloodshed as soon as possible.
Excellencies,
Our Movement faces additional challenges that require us to strengthen and deepen our cooperation to achieve our common goals. For example, and despite the pivotal role of our Movement during the 2010 NPT Review Conference that led to the adoption of four action plans, including an action plan on the Middle East which called for the convening of a conference in 2012 on the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, our efforts to convene such a conference are met by many obstacles. One additional challenge is the attainment of the universality of the NPT, particularly in the Middle East, where one country, Israel, has yet to join the Treaty. We must also continue our efforts to defend our right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy while we fully respect our obligations under the NPT in this regard.
On the economic and social levels, we should seek to build on the existing coordination between the NAM and the G77 and China group to preserve the interests of the developing countries in different fields, and therefore strengthen South/ South cooperation, while further promoting the ongoing dialogue with our international partners.
We must strive to achieve the Millennium goals and build on the achievements of the Rio+20 Conference in Brazil. We must seek a global environment conducive for comprehensive economic and social development. We must focus our attention on youth issues to meet their aspirations for a better future. We must continue our efforts to enable women to play an effective role in their societies while preventing all forms of discrimination against them.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The NAM's success has always been linked to its unified positions towards common challenges and the respect of the diversity among its member states. This approach has enabled the Movement to address such challenges while preserving its principles. Today, we must stick to the principles and goals of our Movement, and reflect the quantitative increase in NAM member states into a qualitative role for the Movement in global affairs.
During the past 3 years, Egypt spared no effort in defending the interests of NAM Member states. We sought to maintain its unity amidst changing realities. Today, as we transfer the chairmanship of the NAM to the Islamic Republic of Iran, we are confident in the latter's ability to lead the Movement objectively and transparently in a manner that preserves the unity of its membership and maintains the effective role it plays in global affairs and builds on the achievements of the previous NAM chairmanships.
Egypt will extend its hand, in all sincerity, to all NAM Member States and will continue to be at the forefront of the Movement's efforts to achieve freedom, justice, and dignity for its people. Egypt will maintain its commitment to support the NAM's prominent role in achieving global, viable, and comprehensive peace, and continue participating in global governance, in order to attain a more effective world order that is more just and reflective of the interests of all.
Thank you.

Watani Newspaper: Youssef Sidhom on 'The Third Way'

I failed to detect any political gain out of the 24 August protests. On the scale of numbers it was no ‘million-person’ demonstration, a wildly exaggerated term that has gained sweeping popularity ever since the January 2011 Revolution.

On the scale of opinion, it added nothing new to that declared by the secular movements which reject the Ikhwanisation or Islamisation of the country. And on the scale of the ability to gather together all the civil movements into one strong non-discountable coalition, the gathering was frustratingly feeble and fragmented. If anything, it proved that the secular movements have a long way to go if they hope ever to be effective on the political scene in Egypt.

To be sure, I have nothing against peaceful protest or demonstration at any time or in any place. The success of any protest, however, lies in whether or not it is able to change what it is protesting against. If the only outcome is that the rejection of a specific cause or situation is made public, the rejected reality will remain as is. Real change can only be attained through hard, dedicated, urgent work via channels which are not in any way secret or unknown to protestors.

The political game involves both nominal and practical aspects. Whoever possesses the cards of the on-the-ground game may afford to play the nominal card. Whoever has no foothold on the ground should never venture or be dragged into the nominal aspects of the game, lest it leads to a hemorrhaging of efforts and resources that leads in turn to inability to effect any change. Anyone who doubts this need only look at the way the Ikhwan Muslimoun (the Muslim Brotherhood MB) and its Freedom and Justice Party or the Salafi Nur Party and all the streams that endorse the Islamist agenda mobilised their ranks to the ballot boxes in all the elections held in Egypt so far. The result is that they can afford to hold demonstrations and protests without risking any political gain they already earned. But this is not the case with the seculars and the liberals who need to stand up to the challenge of consolidating their ranks, which are currently fragmented, into a single powerful coalition. In this context, they can ill afford to dissipate their energy in nominal moves that achieve no on-the-ground benefits while leaving the real work undone.

Many frustrated Egyptians might retort that, as proved by the post-revolution election results which brought in a sweeping Islamist majority in Parliament and which in turn led to Islamist hegemony over legislation, the Ikhwanisation of the country is not likely to be halted through the ballot box. To this I say: True, the ballot box brought in Islamist hegemony, but it also allowed the scandalous disclosure of the real outlooks and intentions of the Islamists, which directly led to a marked decline in popular support for them.  It became all too obvious that the Islamist-led legislation was taking Egypt away from its legendary age-old moderation; mainstream Egyptians were horrified at the prospect of a hardline Egypt they could not fathom.

The result of the March 2011 referendum was 77 per cent Islamist; Parliament—the elections of which were held last November—was 67 per cent Islamist, while the Islamist vote for the presidential elections last May was 51 per cent. The facts speak for themselves.

There is in Egypt a considerable reserve of proponents for a civic, secular State. But this reserve is severely fragmented. The major challenge that ought to be tackled by the secular forces at this point in time, therefore, is not to dissipate their energy in fruitless efforts, but to consolidate their ranks into a single powerful political force to be reckoned with. Once the Islamist win of the presidency was announced last June, a group of secular political activists declared the foundation of what they termed the Third Stream, meaning a stream that endorses neither the Islamists nor the military. Watani fully endorsed this thoroughly civic stream, to the point of creating a new page on the paper to report on it. It is this stream that has to be shouldered with the responsibility of conglomerating all the various civic movements into one, and mobilising the electorate throughout Egypt to vote for them when the time comes. This is a momentous effort that needs meticulous planning, especially given that the Egyptian electorate in rural Egypt is dominated by family, clan, and tribal loyalties. A single candidate should represent the Third Way in every constituency, and should be supported by all the partner movements in order to avoid fragmentation of the vote and ensure every possible chance of success.

Granted, the task is no easy one and demands sacrifices by one and all in the Third Stream. Yet it is the only hope the seculars have to achieve any real gain towards changing what they protest so hard against.

English Translation: Excerpts from Mursi's Tehran Speech

Source: New York Times

“We meet today, in one of the most important moments of our contemporary history, after Egypt’s revolution; after the peaceful revolution of the Egyptian people whose beginning started years before but was crystalized on the 25th of January, 2011.... Egyptians were able, thanks to God first and then to their solidarity and unity, to overcome a difficult transitional phase with many changes. The unity of the people, the unity of action, the unity of goals, the strength of performance, the peacefulness of this revolution, the joining of the people and the military and the unity between Egypt’s proud military and its people with its long history of struggle and jihad and fighting all kinds of oppression and colonization in this event. ... And maybe the start of the Nonaligned Movement was also with an active participation on the part of Egypt ... as Abdel Nasser expressed the will of the people in breaking the foreign hegemony over the will of the rising populations at the time. The Egyptian revolution on the 25th of January represented the cornerstone in the Arab Spring movement. The Tunisian revolution preceded it with a few days, and then the revolutions of Libya and Yemen followed it, and now the revolution of Syria on the oppressive regime there. 

“...Now Egypt is a civil state in all the meaning of the world. Now, Egypt is the national, constitutional, democratic, modern state whose children are completely taking the helm of its affairs through their will. 

“...Now we are all facing grave challenges confronted by our member states. The Palestinian and Syrian people are currently struggling with impressive valiance in calling for freedom, justice and human dignity. And the current international system is being exposed to many tests. ... And also, some of our countries are facing unprecedented foreign and domestic threats; and the signs of discrimination, racism, intolerance and systematic international terrorism are increasing on the international arena; and the problem of climatic change is exacerbating; and the suffering of some of our developing countries regarding poverty and endemic diseases is increasing. 

“... The fate of the Nonaligned Movement is to play a pivotal role in these critical moments. The foundation of the movement came in the prime of the cold war and in the light of the struggle of colonized peoples at the time to acquire its independence and sovereignty. And it has established its 10 principles as pillars to protect the political and economic interests, and if you will, you may even say the social, cultural and religious interests of the peoples of its countries. In spite of the change in the political map, and consequently the features of the relationship between countries, and even the entire international formation, the movement has kept its fundamentals and its compass hasn’t changed, and it has never deviated from the main principles of its founding. On the contrary, this movement, with this collective entity, was able to protect the interests of the developing, recently independent states, and it managed to create an international umbrella ... this entity succeeded in creating a broad international umbrella that established new legitimacy for its countries’ foreign policy ... a legitimacy that allowed for newly independent states at the time to see beacon of a new goal based on the principles of positive neutrality, preventing polarized alliances and establishing the correct concept of independence. 

“...We raise the slogan of ‘towards a more just world’ ... Could this slogan materialize and turn into reality? This is what we pursue, and this is what we insist on, and this is what we all move towards with determination to all be an active party to the international system and its management ... The new Egypt, after the blessed revolution of the 25th of January 2011, is seeking a just international system that brings the developing countries from the realm of poverty, subordination and marginalization, to the realm of prosperity, leadership and power, and real participation in the international affairs, which won’t be accomplished without reaching an international belief in the necessity of enforcing the principles of democracy in the international system, and pluralism in its structure, its political structure. It’s no longer acceptable at all to respect the foundations of democracy on the level of the state and to ignore them on the international level, between states. And it’s also no longer acceptable to observe the principles of pluralism and put them aside in the field of international relations. And from here, and with these meanings, and with this will, and with this conscious look to the future, Egypt believes that one of the core pillars of this new ... international system that we want mainly lies in enhancing the contribution of developing countries in managing and reforming the institutions of global governance to guarantee the fairness of participation in decision making and framing the directions on the international arenas politically, economically and socially. 

“The first step of accomplishing this goal is comprehensively reforming and broadening the Security Council; reforming and broadening the Security Council comprehensively to be more representative of the established international system in the 21st century rather than a reflection of how things used to be ... during the past century ... It’s no longer acceptable, for example, to continue the historic injustice done to Africa, with no representation in the permanent membership category in the Security Council, and only weak representation in the nonpermanent membership category, even though many of the issues on the agenda of the Council concern the states of the African continent.
In parallel, we must also activate the General Assembly of the United Nations and increase its contribution to the issues of international peace and security in its capacity as the more representative apparatus of the countries of the world and the peoples; and the more expressive institution of the views of the international community. We have witnessed during the past months many examples of the importance of this body’s taking a more active role when the Security Council’s hands were tied because of the veto power that prevents viable solutions to these problems. The last of these crises, which has been and still is rending the hearts of all of us: the Syrian crisis. 

“... Since the start of the Nonaligned Movement, the Palestinian cause has been on the top of its priorities and it will remain so until a just and comprehensive solution is reached that guarantees that legitimate rights not be subject to alteration for only the Palestinian people: the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and establishing a state on their land with the will of all their children inside and outside the Palestinian land. And today, brothers, we’re asked to continue standing up for this right and providing the political support ... and other kinds of support required to accomplish recognition for the Palestinian state in the United Nations as a state with full membership, and illuminating the suffering of this people, especially its prisoners ... from the difficult conditions imposed by the occupation that contradict all the norms and principles of international law and human values and human rights ... in addition to divine law stipulating that all people must be free in their lands and not tyrannized. ... I’d like to praise the declaration produced by the ministerial meeting of the coordination bureau in Sharm el Sheik last May regarding the Palestinian prisoners, which highlighted the unfortunate conditions of the Palestinian captives in the Israeli prisons and detention centers and that the movement is in solidarity with their honorable struggle and their resistance to occupation. And for its part, Egypt will support any Palestinian move in the General Assembly or the Security Council to join the United Nations. ... We will continue sponsoring the Palestinian reconciliation to support the unity of Palestine. And from here, I encourage the Palestinian brothers with their different approaches to complete their reconciliation and to move towards fulfilling recent agreements, disregarding narrow frictions among themselves, to be able to concentrate on their real cause: to resist the occupation and to free themselves from it. And I can’t ignore the most recent Israeli measure of preventing some of ministers from the movement’s states from entering Ramallah to take part in the emergency ministerial meeting of the committee of Palestine and Palestinian lands on the 5th of August, which was condemned by Egypt and the states of the movement.
... Our solidarity with the children of beloved Syria against an oppressive regime that has lost its legitimacy is a moral duty as much as a political and strategic necessity that stems from our belief in a coming future for the free proud Syria. And we must all offer our complete, undiminished support for the struggle for freedom and justice in Syria, and to translate our sympathy into a clear political vision that supports peaceful transition to a democratic government reflecting the desires of the Syrian people for freedom, justice and equality — and, at the same time, protects Syria from entering into the realm of civil war or falling into the abyss of division and sectarian conflict.
From here comes the importance of uniting the opposition so as to secure the interests of the entire spectrum of the Syrian society — without division or discrimination — and protect the regional unity and peace of this sister state and this beloved people. And Egypt on its part is completely ready to cooperate with all parties in seeking to prevent bloodshed and to agree on the principles based on which the new free Syria will rise to inaugurate a time of building and growth dreamed by every Syrian loyal to his homeland, people, family and history. Egypt has presented its initiative in this regard in the Mecca conference last Ramadan and it is calling on the acting parties to take the necessary steps to find the suitable solution out of this crisis suffered by the Syrian people. The bloodshed in Syria is in our hands ... and we must realize that this ... cannot stop without an active intervention from all of us. ... 

“...We are all facing other additional challenges that require us to continue enhancing and deepening the relationships of cooperation between our states to realize our people’s common aspirations. In spite of the pivotal role of the Nonaligned Movement ... in revising the treaty on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons ... to empty the region, the whole region, of nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction ... we’re still facing serious challenges to accomplish these goals ... all the countries of the Middle East region joined the treaty except for Israel. And on the same front, we must also preserve our fixed position, which is also Egypt’s position with you; the fixed position of holding on to the right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy while fully respecting the international commitments imposed by the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons treaty. ... 

“And on the social and economic levels, we must also continue ... the coordination between the Nonaligned Movement, the group of 77 and China to realize the common goals of the developing countries in different fields in a way that enhances cooperation between the countries of the south on the one hand, and to continue the dialogue with its international partners and others on the other hand. And we must also focus on accomplishing the achievements that have been made in meeting the goals of the millennium ... and creating the required balance and preserving the rules of international interaction in the field of sustainable development, and providing an international atmosphere that supports comprehensive economic and social development, in addition to intensifying the attention given to the causes of the youth to realize their aspirations towards a better future, and continuing the efforts of empowering women and preventing all forms of discrimination against them.

Guardian Video: Egypt's Morsi pledges solidarity with Syrian rebels


Sunday, 26 August 2012

Latest Op-Ed: The Cultural Project of the Revolution

I just had an op-ed published by Egypt Independent at:

http://www.egyptindependent.com/opinion/cultural-project-revolution

The piece was taken up by Jadaliyya and Al-Arabiya and published on their websites as well:

http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/7049/the-cultural-project-of-the-revolution-
http://english.alarabiya.net/views/2012/08/26/234232.html


Watani Newspaper: President meets heads of Churches


President meets heads of Churches
Nader Shukry

Last Wednesday President Mohamed Mursi met a delegation of the heads of Orthodox, Catholic, Episcopal and Anglican Churches in Egypt, during which the president relayed a message of reassurance for Christians in Egypt.

The Episcopal Church spokesman, Hany Shukrallah, said the meeting went very well, and the fact that this was the second such meeting since Mursi became president last June was an encouraging initiative from the presidency. Shukrallah said the discussions centred on the recent presidential decisions, the new constitution currently in writing, and the latest sectarian attacks against Copts.

Bishop Yuhanna Qulta of the Coptic Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Bishop of Shubral-Kheima Anba Morqos were joined by all others in stressing the demand for law enforcement especially in sectarian attacks, as well as putting an end to discriminatory practices in the education system and the media.

Activists and seculars, however, are not so happy with the meeting.

Emad Gad, former MP and an expert with al-Ahram Centre for Strategic Studies, could find no reason or justification for the meeting. “It is an attempt to reduce Coptic representation to the Church, a practice employed for centuries by Egypt’s rulers, and which we have for years deplored since it deliberately ignores Copts as Egyptian citizens entitled to full citizenship rights.” The attempt to define Copts through their Church , Mr Gad told Watani, establishes the State on sectarian basis, and confirms the Islamic character imposed on the State by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB).

He sees the meeting as a means to pressure the Church into in turn applying pressure on the congregation to refrain from any opposition. The meeting, he says, ended with no pledges or decisions on any of the issues vital for Christians in Egypt, not least among which is the Constituent Assembly that is currently writing Egypt’s new constitution along thoroughly Islamist lines.

Essam Iskandar, professor of philosophy at Ain Shams University, sees the purpose of the meeting as an attempt to contain the rising anger of Christians, who have been subjected to injustice and forced eviction more than once during Mursi’s short time as president;. As matters stand, Dr Iskandar said, the rising unchecked climate of hate and discrimination promises more attacks against Copts, their churches, property, and businesses.

“In the wake of rampant allegations that Mursi is a president who represents the MB alone,” member of the Free Egyptians Party John Talaat says: “he feels the need to look, locally and internationally, as holding dialogue with all.” Mr Talaat also believes that President Mursi wished to gain the Church leaders’ support so that they may help curb the rebellion of Coptic youth against his regime which has so far done nothing to protect them or honour their rights as Egyptian citizens.

WATANI International
26 August 2012

Al-M Al-Y Video: Sit-in in front of the presidential palace


Friday, 10 August 2012

Latest Op-Ed: Time to reject the language of Coptic victimhood


My latest opinion piece, entitled "Time to reject the language of Coptic victimhood," was just published on the website of Egypt Independent, and appeared in the newspaper's print edition this week. You can read the op-ed here.

Thursday, 9 August 2012