A dark Christmas for the Christians of the Middle East
Sadly, the tragedy of the Christians of Iraq — who span a whole range of doctrines and ethnic groups — is being replicated in many other places. Sectarian tensions are deepening around the world, and Christians are often the victims. Syria’s mostly Orthodox Christians are caught in the middle of the civil war between the government of Bashar al-Assad and its Islamist opponents. Egypt’s Copts are still attending charred churches, burned in anti-Christian pogroms and battling persistent anti-Christian sentiment. And now churches are even being targeted for attack by Hindu nationalists in India.
Egyptian military using religious propaganda
So not only is the military back in power, but it’s abandoned its secular roots. Feel those winds of change in the air?
The Egyptian military has enlisted Muslim scholars in a propaganda campaign to persuade soldiers and policemen that they have a religious duty to obey orders to use deadly force against supporters of the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi.
The war against Christians in the Middle East
But since Mubarak’s fall, extremist violence against Christians has picked up in Egypt. In early October 2011, Egypt saw its worst instance of sectarian violence in 60 years, when two-dozen Christians died in clashes with the military.
As a result of these kinds of attacks, by one estimate, around 100,000 Christians left Egypt in 2011.
The latest American military aid to Egypt
The military ties between the United States and Egypt are contentious, unusual by global standards and flush with cash. The U.S. not only gives $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt — when added up over decades it’s the highest amount the U.S. gives to any country besides Israel — but there’s also favorable trade agreements that make it easy for Cairo to buy weapons and equipment from American suppliers.
Here’s the latest piece of that — all 550 tons worth. The 200-foot Ambassador MK III-class fast attack craft is one of the latest buys from the Egyptian regime; complete with ship-sinking missiles, a large main gun and advanced countermeasures. The vessel is designed to be fast and hard to detect, while also being capable of destroying larger, more powerful vessels from up to 67 miles away.
The failure of European aid to Egypt: 60% of aid unaccounted
The European court of auditors found that the new Egyptian government that swept to power in the wake of popular uprisings in 2011 had – if anything – demonstrated even less interest than its predecessor in EU-sponsored programmes to foster civil society and protect the rights of women and minorities.
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It also warned that Brussels was unable to track about 60 per cent of the aid money after it was transferred to Egyptian government coffers, raising concerns about widespread fraud and mismanagement.
The dilemma of Morsi’s purges
While Morsi is being criticized in and out of Egypt for his assumption of dictatorial powers, it’s worth noting that his plans to bypass Egypt’s judicial system are grounded in a reality: Egypt’s judges were handpicked by the thoroughly corrupt Mubarak regime and did the old dictator’s bidding without protest for many years. Neither the judges as a group nor the judiciary as an institution are entitled to any particular respect.
This is an example of a problem that many revolutionary regimes face around the world. Do you allow the judicial lapdogs of the old dictator to act as umpires in the new regime, or do you destroy all the institutions of society and try to rebuild everything from scratch? Do you allow yourself to be bound by corrupt judges defending privileges of the old regime, or do you cast down the legal system and cast off the restraint of the laws?
Neither alternative is a good one and this is one of the reasons why most revolutions end in disappointment and new dictatorship.
The Egyptian spring and women’s rights
The situation of women in particular is symptomatic of a greater malaise. For most Egyptians, little has changed in their everyday lives the last 17 months; for many women, it might be argued, things have actually got worse.
Clearly, Khaled is not advocating a return to Mubarak. But it’s always good not to get caught up in euphoria – especially during a revolution.
Could a Coptic art patron become the next president of Egypt?
In June, he tweeted a cartoon of Minnie Mouse in a burqa, and Islamists worldwide threatened him with death.
Now, as Egypt wavers between an Islamist and a democratic future, billionaire telecom scion and art patron Naguib Sawiris wants to be his country’s next leader – and he’s founded a political party – the Free Egyptian Party — as he prepares to do just that.
(via Gizmodo, Ethan Green, and Patrick Shipsey)