Archive for February, 2010

Posted: February 17, 2010 in Copts, Egypt

This is an article from … no edits, find it interesting.

Egyptian Christians appeal for help to international

human rights organizations

But will they listen? A message from The Middle East Christian Association (thanks to Ann):

Economic Blow to the Christians in Upper EgyptAppeal to all international human rights organization from the Christians
of the towns of Farshout, Abu Tesht, Abu Shusha, El-Arky, El-Dahsha, El-Khawaled and El-Kom El-Ahmar.

We, the Christian inhabitants of these towns appeal to you for support, as we have been subjected to brutal terrorist attacks from Muslims residing in our same towns. These attacks resulted in an estimated loss of over five million Egyptian pounds, equivalent to more than one million US dollars.

On the morning of Saturday, November 21 2009, we were stunned by the presence of well-organized groups of people, distributed all over the town of Farshout; they were physically assaulting any Christian person they met in the streets, whether it be a man, woman, girl or even a child, accompanied by Islamic chants, as if they were on a new Islamic invasion.

They broke into all the shops and businesses owned by Christians, breaking down the doors, looting all contents, only to leave after it was completely empty, then setting it on fire. They went from one Christian-owned shop to another.

More than 40 shops have been broken into, all this was happening while they sung Islamic chants as if they were undertaking a legitimate act approved by Islam, or a Muslim invasion which would make the heart of the God of Islam happy.

All this took place before the eyes and ears of the security forces and the Egyptian police without any intervention on their part. The police left the mob to carry out looting and opened the way for them to escape without the slightest objection from them, as if the police were there to protect them during their looting and not to arrest them.

The Coptic Orthodox Society was also broken into and completely vandalized. It was licensed over 30 years ago by the Ministry of Social Affairs and has been engaged in helping the needy in this town and the neighboring ones. It taught crafts to young men and women to combat unemployment and provided micro-credit for poor families to assist them in starting small business projects. In spite of being a Coptic society, it provided assistance to Christians and Muslims alike, without any distinction and was ultimately completely vandalized by those whom it has lent a supporting hand. Some houses were also broken into, forcing the residents to go out and leave their homes behind; they looted the contents of the whole house, while the Muslims in the streets assaulted those families before letting them go.

What we write to you now represents only a fraction of what actually happened to us, we the Christians of these villages, and we have evidence, in pictures and video footage, to prove all what we are saying.

The Bishop of the Diocese of Nag Hammadi to which our village is affiliate, HG Bishop Kyrillos, is fully prepared to take any telephone conversation from any authority wishing to investigate this issue further. HG is also pleading for support since help from inside Egypt is lacking, and so far, the security authorities have failed to respond to this matter.

We appeal to all international human rights organizations to intervene so that we, the Christians, can obtain the least of our human rights, which is to live and co-exist in Peace. We have lost everything that we own in this blow, which was specifically aimed at hitting the Christians economically and destroying the Coptic economic infrastructure in this town and the Province of Qena at large.

Presented by The Christians of Farshout and the affiliated villages


Senior Slate columnist, Timothy Noah presents an eight-step scale to answer the everlasting question of how much Americans should worry [about terrorism] here is my personal review of his article/theories.

Noah presents a scale that is composed of eight distinct yet overlapping theories that offer explanations as to how a determined enemy was able to successfully execute the attacks of September 11, 2001.  Furthermore the eight theories offer several hypotheses on terrorism behavioral patterns and actions.  Using this scale and its eight essays, this paper attempts to articulate the reason(s) behind why there haven’t been any terror attacks in the United States since the dire attacks of 9-11-2001.

Noah’s scale is composed of eight interdependent theories placed on a beaded scale suggesting how much people should worry about terrorism based on their allegiance to each theoretical bead.

Image acquired from

The scale starts with the least worrisome theory and progresses towards the most troubling predictions.  First on the scale is the Terrorist-Are-Dumb-Theory, followed by the Near-Enemy, the Melting-Pot, the Burden-of-Success, the Flypaper, the Bush-Kept-Us-Safe, the Electoral-Cycles theories, and finally the Time-Space, inevitable-terror, theory.  Each of the named theories is presented in an evidence-based, rational fashion, showing that this is not so much  a scale as it is a spectrum of facts presented in a manner that offers the reader the chance to pick certain facts and allot them more credit in the despair America has been spared.

The Electoral-Cycles theory is perhaps the most unsound theory of all eight.  This theory suggests that terrorist attacks are linked to the democratic political calendar of the United States.   While there is some evidence of electorally-timed attacks, for example the 2004 Madrid bombings in Spain, the other examples utilized are unconvincing.  Perhaps the attacks were timely to political events, but only whimsically so, and in no way in sync with the democratic events of the United States.

The Melting-Pot theory is plausible; however, it undermines the seriousness of many attempted and successful attacks within the United States over the past eight years.  This theory offers statistics suggesting that American Muslims are more concerned about the rise of fundamentalism in America compared to their counterparts in Europe; yet the theory fails to mention that the same statistics source identifies that six percent of American Muslims are sympathetic to suicide bombers in some situations.  Six percent of American Muslims equate to roughly 250,000 people, yet it only takes one individual, or at most a handful to carry out the devastation of a terror attack. Thus this theory does not provide the full scope of risk the US faces.

The bilateral nature Time-Space theory is deceiving at first.  The space component of this theory is sound; however the time component is too theoretical to offer any solid grounding for gauging scientifically interruptible guidance as to when the next attack would be. The theory lacks sufficient data, making space for statistical inaccuracy. Israel offers a great Petri dish for this kind of science that depends on the frequency of attacks.  If applied to America it could yield frail results. The theory ignores the rigorous military effort by the United States in both Afghanistan an Iraq, an effort that diminished much of Al-Qaeda’s overseas capabilities, and in turn might increase the time of another attack infinitely.

It is more conceivable to coalesce the elements for a few of the theories to explain why America has been spared from a terror attack on its soil since 9-11.  Combining The Terrorists-Are Dumb, Near-Enemy, Burden-of-Success, Flypaper and Bush-Kept-US-Safe theories might offer the best response.  It is evident from intelligence collected in a pre-September 11 world that US law enforcement and intelligence agencies should be attributed partial credit for the success of the terror attacks.  The goals of Al-Qaeda are indeed ambitious, but such goals are sought out via a certain terrorist logic.  If Al-Qaeda is viewed through the lens of generic institutional interest science, one must see that any limited organization seeks highlighting its successes and hiding its failures, which makes the Burden-of-Success such a credible piece of the answer.

The Flypaper and the Bush-Kept-Us-Safe theories also have some solid credibility.  Judging by previous jihadist behavior, the warriors of Allah swarmed Afghanistan in the 1980’s, thwarting the invasion of former Soviet Union.  Whether the majority of the enemy captured/killed was jihadist in nature or not, it is undoubtedly certain that Iraq and Afghanistan became the flypaper that lured the wasps in.  The threat of Al-Qaeda was never embodied in a manpower issue.  At the height of Al-Qaeda’s might, America’s military and technological advances superseded its opponent’s by light-years.  Instead, Al-Qaeda posed a threat because the damage each of the individuals could cause, as a solitary unit.

From a short term perspective, Bush and his stack of flypaper, disrupted terrorist activity on American soil, limiting the bee-nest and hindered the beast, that is Al-Qaeda.  As for the long term scope, it is still uncertain which side the Muslim world will side with, the American giant bully or the malignant fundamentalist jihadist.  Both sides have claimed their fair share of collateral damage.  Suicide bombing yields some form of results for Al-Qaeda.  Likewise, had coercive torture methods not yielded results, the US wouldn’t have reason to implement it.

Considering all eight theories, it is probably in the best interest of the US to remain alert and worry in moderation.  Deeming the enemy “dumb” is unwise; claiming that attacks will continue on with no end in sight is counterproductive and fatalistic.  America was spared because of local and international efforts, along with poor preparations on the part of the enemy.  America should be prepared, yet not to the point of unbending rigidity.

While some Egyptians might look favorably on the actions of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), Egyptian seculars and religious minorities tremble at the thought of a MB operated Egypt.  So why is that? And are their fears justified, or are they simply weasels who need to be replaced by other superior tribes?

After the 2005 Egyptian Parliamentary elections, Egypt’s secular circles feared that the MB‘s electoral gains are the first steps of the organization to implement an intolerant interpretation of Islam upon Egypt.  Such interpretation would repress women and the country‘s Coptic Christian minority.[i] The final outcome of a utopian Brotherhood-like state behooves fear in the minds of seculars and minorities alike in Egypt.  And perhaps rightfully so.

Indeed the activities of the MB in Egypt have been regarded as controversial by many since the infancy of the organization, and even though the MB has faced cycles of prosperity and repression, the MB has always enjoyed popularity among many Egyptians.  Over the past years however, the MB has, unfortunately, received some scholarly praise for its attempts to become an Egyptian functional political party.  The Brotherhood has constructed modest, yet functional, versions of the congressional cloakrooms, research service center, and has taken on western-style political and tactical stunts in order to propel its views to the public.  In other words, the MB is spearheading institutional reform and doing a better job at the representation it offers its constituents.  And so was the Third Reich in the begining of its reign.


A Point of Contention

One of the most notable recent points of contention between the brotherhood and the Coptic community was the Brotherhood’s proactive stands on slaughtering all of Egypt’s Swine.  The Egyptian pork industry is predominantly operated by the Christian minority and principally serves this minority.

This paradox was further accented by the Brotherhood’s actions in early 2006 when the bird flu virus struck Egypt’s poultry industry.  MB members of the Egyptian Parliament came out in full support of the poultry industry, with a broad awareness campaign and various socio-political stunts to inform the public with the facts.[i] On the contrary, when the swine flu virus struck Egypt and the pork industry the Brotherhood’s MPs utilized the opportunity to push for the slaughter of the entire 300,000 stock of swine in Egypt.  Members gave passionate speeches in the parliament supporting the mass slaughter as they solidified behind a statement claiming that Islam’s wisdom has banned the consumption of the pork for valid reasons, now the country is seeing this wisdom.[ii]

The Coptic Community

To the average observer, the Middle East is seen as a uniform Arab-Muslim community.  This is far from the truth.  The Muslim majority countries in the Middle East include many ethnic and religious minorities that have survived centuries of genocides, persecutions, sociopolitical repression, and jihad.[i] Among which is the Egyptian Coptic community.

The Copts have historically faced harsh discrimination by Muslim-based governments over the course of centuries.[ii] While sectarian incidents continue, the integration and acceptance of the community has been on a slow rise since the rule of Mohamed Ali Pasha in the early 1800s.[iii] Since this era of sparked reform, Egypt’s Copts progressively prospered in the social, economical and political realms.

The Muslim Brotherhood Platform

The MB works under the slogan “Islam is the Solution”, referring to Islam as the solution to all social, political and theological troubles facing the nation.  Furthermore the MBs logo carries the words “And Prepare”, referring to the Quranic verse “And prepare against them what you can of force and of steeds of war to terrorize the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them …”[1]

The Egyptian MB, like its counterparts in Jordan and Morocco has created a political arm independent of its religious arm in an attempt to convey a message to a fearing secular/minority public.  However, the MB’s political sector’s draft platform of 2007/2008 reaffirming its dedication to the reconstitution of Sharia[2] law.  Additionally the platform calls for the exclusion of women and non-Muslims from high positions of governance.

The MB calls for a return to the Sharia law, and the ways of the Caliphate[3] and the Ummah[4].  Founder, Hassan Al-Banna and more influential later reformist Sayid Qutb have iterated and reiterated the concepts that the Brotherhood follows in modern day.

This is regarded by many as the antithesis of slowly progressive reform and modernity that has been in the works since Mohamed Ali Pasha’s reign.  For religious minorities and secular Egyptians alike, the idea of the rebirthing of Sharia law in Egypt is a step backwards.

Now that I have bored you to death with this background nonsense … lets get to the good stuff 🙂

The fun stuff!!

To better understand the effects of the relationship between the MB and religious minorities of Egypt on the future electoral process, a better understanding of the fears generated by the idea of a utopian MB state must be examined.  In other words, what would be the living conditions, sociopolitical progress hopes for the secular demographic and religious minorities in Egypt under a hypothetical Brotherhood rule? And how do these fears translate to general public fears that would affect regime changes in Egypt?

Here are some of the basic concepts that lead to this negative notion; the concept of al-Ummah, the concept of Al-Taqiyyah, the concept of Al-Jizyah, and women’s rights/equality under conservative Islamic views.

Al-Ummah (The Muslim Community/World)

Mentioned in the Quran[5] as a reference to the unified Muslim community, Al-Ummah ideally should be unified as one voice and as one body.  Opponents of the theological concept of Al-Ummah cite that complete unity is unattainable and is a detriment to pluralism, the key to the comingling of the various religious, minority and secular communities of Egypt.

Al-Jizyah (Tribute)

Al-Jizyah is a monetary or another form of tribute, paid to the Muslim state by non-Muslim residents and citizens of the state.  Dictated by the Quran[6], Al-Jizyah is paid by non-Muslims to exempt them from military service and other civic duties.  It is also paid in return for the protection they receive from the Muslim state and other services they receive from the Muslim community.  Al-Jizyah has been historically implemented in various ways, some harsher than others.  Opponents of Al-Jizyah regard it as a form of excessive taxation, based on religious.  Furthermore it is regarded as a form of alienation, segregation and denial of full citizenship.  Such views could a detriment to future MB gains on the sociopolitical arena.

Women’s Role in Society

It is without a doubt that progressive/western women rights and freedoms that women enjoy in western communities do not fully coincide with the conservative Muslim views of the role and behavior of a woman in a society.  Needless to say that women rights activists and proponents of secularism in Egypt are opposed to retracting of social freedoms allowed to women in the grander Egyptian community.

Al-Taqiyyah (Dissimulation)

Perhaps the strongest argument against the MB is the theological framework of Al-Taqiyyah.  Al-Taqiyyah, referred to many times in the Quran[7] and other Islamic theological works,  refers to the concealment by a Muslim believer of his/her beliefs, convictions, ideas, feelings, opinions, and/or strategies at a time of imminent danger, whether now or later in time.

While politicians are inherently inclined fault back on campaign promises or oaths made in positions of weakness, critics of the Brotherhood claim that Al-Taqiyyah offers moral justification of this undesirable behavior.  Opponents regard it as intentional concealment of Islamic doctrines in order to gain influence by deceiving opponents of the Islamic Sharia law.

Minorities General Opinion

The conclusion of many of Egypt’s secular and religious minorities offers tactical support for a regime, resembled in the National Democratic Party.  While corrupt and somewhat dysfunctional as a political party, it at the least offers the right of existence and equality compared to what would be provided by the worst case scenario, a utopian MB regime.  Such groups find comfort in the fact that the brotherhood holds 88 seats in a Parliament composed of 454, meaning that they cannot pass legislation.[iv]

[1] “And prepare against them what you can of force, and of steeds of war to terrorize the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them, whom you do not know (but) Allah knows them; and whatever thing you will spend in Allah’s way, it will be paid back to you fully and you shall not be dealt with unjustly.” Quran 8:60

[2] Sharia (legislation) is a set of sociopolitical laws set forth by and derived from the Quranic verses and other Islamic theological works that deal with all aspects of personal, sexual,  communal, political and economical issues.  Sharia application relies on Islamic Fiqh (Jurisprudence) for modern day implementation.

[3] The term caliphate refers to the first system of governance established in Islam, and represented the political authority and unity of the Muslim Ummah. It was initially led by Muhammad’s disciples as a continuation of the political authority the prophet established.

[4] The phrase Ummah in the Quran refers to all of the Islamic world unified

[5] “You are the best of the nations raised up for (the benefit of) men; you enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong and believe in Allah; and if the followers of the Book had believed it would have been better for them; of them (some) are believers and most of them are transgressors.” Quran 3:110

[6] “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold forbidden that which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” Quran 9:29

[7] “Let not the believers take the unbelievers for friends rather than believers; and whoever does this, he shall have nothing of (the guardianship of) Allah, but you should guard yourselves against them, guarding carefully; and Allah makes you cautious of (retribution from) Himself; and to Allah is the eventual coming.” Quran 3:28

[i] Nisan, Mordechai. Minorities in the Middle East A History of Struggle and Self-Expression. Boston: McFarland & Company, 2002. Print.

[ii] Nisan, Mordechai. Minorities in the Middle East A History of Struggle and Self-Expression. Boston: McFarland & Company, 2002. Print.

[iii] Cleveland, William L. History of the modern Middle East. Boulder, Colo: Westview, 2009. Print.

[iv] The Brotherhood Goes to Parliament – Samer Shehata and Joshua Stacher

[i] The Brotherhood Goes to Parliament – Samer Shehata and Joshua Stacher

[ii] &

[i] The Brotherhood Goes to Parliament – Samer Shehata and Joshua Stacher

We are not going to last long in this flood of mud
Strut my friend, better scamper … lets go vanish
Acquire shelter from this hellish inferno
And be aware there is still a chance of setting ablaze
Take heed, pause … hold this tremble
Suppress the spitfire stance in this body
Apprehend the fiery being in your nature
This body is holding the captive inside
Trepidation and antagonism together dictate
That will be the essence of the downfall
Hide and hibernate, let matters be and all will facilitate
All the dust will settle, only then articulate, even postulate
Its coming, layer upon layer, now it comes
This is murky waters, their screams echo with the ripples

Something unknown will come about, maybe even someone
But what is really an unknown person?
Surely everyone is known to someone
Let it not fool the wise, let not the trickery lead the shrewd
Pay attention … listen to the tune of utter destruction
The definitive determination of hatred
Destroying its doers and all its beholders
Close those lids or get cursed with the perishable ones
Turn this back on the lava and the flame
Elsewise, a pillar of salt you will become


Posted: February 16, 2010 in Depression

In the midst of things, I pause and wonder …
Where were their dreams in the many years that had past?
A shame it is for all the years that had past with nothing attained …
To be true to thy self and to be sincere to ye cause,
It is imposturous to claim competency in those verdicts that had past.
No utter description or definitive explanation could portray,
the consequences, the penalty or the cost of this sheer dismay.
It all seems as if the mind was catatonic and cold,
Rigidity ruled and nothing was ever bold.