New Egyptian Constitution: A Slap at the Brotherhood

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Egyptians have a new draft constitution to vote upon in a referendum to be held either later this month or in January 2014. It is meant to replace, with amendment language and new provisions, the more Islamist-oriented constitution rammed through by former Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohammed Morsi. “It is now the right of every Egyptian to declare that this is their constitution,” said Bishop Bola, the representative of the Coptic Orthodox Church on the panel that was responsible for drafting the new constitution.

The big loser will be the Muslim Brotherhood, eclipsed by representatives from a more conservative Islamist party and from Al-Azhar University, the seat of Sunni learning, who spoke for Islamists on the drafting panel and have backed the new constitution. The drafting panel also consisted of activists from Tamarod, the secular youth movement that rallied millions of Egyptians who demanded that Morsi step aside, leading to his ouster and replacement by an interim government under the rule of the defense minister, General Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi.

The constitution drafters and the interim government leaders hope that there will be a significantly larger turnout of voters to approve this constitution than showed up to approve Morsi’s constitution.  A larger turnout and vote in support of the draft constitution would serve to legitimize the current interim government’s self-proclaimed move towards a more inclusive, democratic regime – at least, that is what the interim government leaders are claiming. Whether presidential or parliamentary elections would be held first following the constitution’s ratification remains an open question, possibly to provide the opportunity for Sisi to run for president and consolidate his influence in advance of more contentious, drawn-out parliamentary elections.

On paper, the new constitution would grant new important rights to Egyptian citizens, including protection against torture, human trafficking and persecution for religious belief. It bans parties founded on religion or sect and mandates equality between men and women, both slaps in the face of the Muslim Brotherhood which tried to remake the country in its own image of an Islamist state. In practice, however, the new constitution is but another in a series of constitutional documents, more honored in their breach than their observance. While the new draft pays lip service to human rights and is more secular in nature than its predecessor, the draft keeps Sharia law as the basis for legislation. Repression of dissent, limitations on freedom to practice one’s own religion, and violence and discrimination against women are likely to remain the grim reality on the streets of Egypt. State institutions such as the military and the police will retain their privileged status.

Not surprisingly, the Muslim Brotherhood has already denounced the new draft constitution. It said that “abusive coupists” were trying to “distort Egypt’s legitimate constitution,” by which they mean the Islamist-oriented constitution foisted on the Egyptian people last year by a far less inclusive drafting process.  Liberals, secularists and the Coptic Church were on the outside looking in, in contrast to their inclusion in the current drafting process.

The Obama administration appears to be taking a wait-and-see attitude towards the new draft constitution. But, in the meantime, the administration continues to punish the interim regime by cutting off vital military aid, including the delivery of F-16s, M1A1 tank kits, Harpoon missiles and Apache helicopters. It does so on the pretext that the regime’s forcible suppression of dissent and lack of inclusiveness forced the administration to the point that “we could not continue business as usual with respect to our assistance.”

Why not begin resuming at least some deliveries now that the interim government has taken at least a preliminary step on its roadmap towards a more inclusive civil democracy? The excuse appears to be a recently passed law placing restrictions on protest demonstrations, which was aimed at curbing the incessant protests by Islamists supporting Morsi before violence could erupt but has also ensnared some disaffected secularist activists. In a press statement issued on November 25, 2013, Jen Psaki, State Department Spokesperson, said that “this law, which imposes restrictions on Egyptians’ ability to assemble peacefully and express their views, does not meet international standards and will not move Egypt’s democratic transition forward.”  Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, piled on with this tweet on November 26th: “New law regulating peaceful protests in #Egypt simply doesn’t meet intl standards. Gov’t must protect freedoms, and this law restricts them.”

Why didn’t the administration apply the same “international standards” when it kept the arms flowing unabated to the repressive, non-inclusive Morsi regime? The truth is that the administration would have preferred the Islamist Morsi regime to remain in power.

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In the words of A. Savyon, director of MEMRI’s Iran Media Project, and Y. Carmon, President of MEMRI, in their analysis of the roots of the U.S.’s policy change in the Middle East that led to the Obama administration’s disastrous interim nuclear agreement with Iran:

“In previous attempts to appeal to the peoples of the region, that is, in Ankara and Cairo in 2009, Obama presented a vision of an America that is no longer an imperialist power that maintains military bases in the region and intervenes militarily to protect the status quo, but a country that identifies with the aspirations and interests of the Arab and Muslim peoples and disregards their regimes. In Obama’s perception, the overall U.S. shift in recent years – the pinnacle of which is his attempts at reconciliation with the Iranian regime – does not stem from weakness but is ideologically directed; it dovetails with and intensifies the revolutionary changes taking place in the Arab world since the Arab Spring, with the aim of integrating the U.S. into the Arab and Muslim world of the future.”

Read more at Front Page

 

Obama-linked Islamists Downplay Coptic Suffering on Social Media

dalia-mogahedIPT, by John Rossomando:

Why the Failure of Egypt’s ‘Secular’ Army to Protect Coptic Churches Matters

pic_giant_082013_SM_Egypts-Anti-Christian-PogromPJ Media, By Andrew G. Bostom:

Expatriate Egyptian Coptic Christian writer Samuel Tadros has just observed how Egypt’s Copts—the country’s indigenous, pre-Arab Islamic jihad inhabitants—have been under siege by a recent spate of Muslim Brotherhood inspired and led church burnings, which punctuates the worst outbreak of anti-Coptic Muslim violence since the era of Muslim Mamluk rule (i.e., the 13th to 16th centuries).

Tadros was alluding to the effects of mainstream Islam upon its Egyptian Muslim votaries, resulting in the inexorable attrition of the Coptic population by the mid 14th century—the indigenous, pre-Islamic majority reduced to a permanent, vulnerable minority by the usual pattern of Islamization, via jihad: massacre, destruction and pillage of religious sites, forced or coerced conversion, and expropriation. This chronic process intensified and reached its apogee in a series of 14th century pogroms and persecutions, described by the great Muslim historian al-Maqrizi:

Many reports came from both Upper and Lower Egypt of Copts being converted to Islam, frequenting mosques, and memorizing the Quran, to the extent that some of them were able to establish their legal competence and sit with the legal witnesses. In all the provinces of Egypt, both north and south, no church remained that had not been razed; on many of those sites mosques were constructed. For when the Christians’ affliction grew great and their incomes small, they decided to embrace Islam.

Egyptian military strongman, and recent putschist, General al-Sisi issued an ecumenical sounding statement pledging that that army engineers would assist in the reconstruction of the devastated churches, as reported on August 16, 2013:

The Egyptian defense minister ordered the engineering department of the armed forces to swiftly repair all the affected churches, in recognition of the historical and national role played by our Coptic brothers.

But these noble-sounding words have rung hollow given the subsequent, ongoing lack of protection the Egyptian military has afforded its “Coptic brothers.” As reported on August 20th, Bishop General of Minya (in Upper Egypt, four hours from Cairo) Anba Macarius was critical of the army’s continued feeble response, claiming their lack of initiative in protecting churches and other Christian buildings engendered the ideal environment in which “crime and terrorism flourish.” Macarius declared:

First we must protect the Christians and the feelings of those who have suffered loss. Now we are calling on the state to protect the churches and the army to come onto the streets.

The morally reprehensible inaction of Egypt’s allegedly “secular” army—failing to protect its hapless and beleaguered Coptic minority—heightens concerns over the direction of this institution under a demonstrably anti-secular leader, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. In a detailed analysis of al-Sisi’s 2006 US Army War College mini-thesis—which had to be obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request—I demonstrated that he is vociferously opposed to the kind of Western secular consensus model of government Egypt so desperately requires. Moreover, al-Sisi’s mini-thesis also espoused ardent Sharia-supremacist views, highlighted by his lionization of the classical Islamic Caliphate system.

Why does this matter, in the immediate term, both morally and strategically? As my colleague David French wrote in a passionate denunciation of the Egyptian army’s current predilections, and concomitant U.S. moral and strategic blindness:

As churches burn, as nuns are paraded through the streets by the Muslim Brotherhood, and as Christians across Egypt fear for their lives in the face of the jihadist onslaught, American policy can and should get very simple, very fast: Not one scintilla of aid until the Egyptian military demonstrates — by deeds, not just words — that it is committed to stopping this wave of persecution in its tracks, protecting the most basic human rights of its Christian citizens, and utterly defeating the Muslim Brotherhood.

Muslim Brotherhood memo blesses Egyptian church burnings

burning-church-egyptby John Rossomando:

A memo posted on the Facebook page of a local office of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party obtained by the Investigative Project on Terrorism shows a clear call to incitement against Egypt’s Coptic Christian population, giving its blessing to the burning of churches.

Over 40 Coptic churches have been burned by Muslim Brotherhood supporters since the Egyptian police cleared demonstrators protesting the overthrow of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on Tuesday. Brotherhood supporters also reportedly blocked the road between Cairo and Aswan in southern Egypt looking for Copts, taking seven Copts hostage Thursday. They were later released after a ransom of 150,000 Egyptian pounds, roughly $21,500, was paid.

Muslim Brotherhood rioters who torched St. George Cathdral in Sohag were heardscreaming “Allahu Akbar!” as they carried out their deed.

Coptic leaders say the Muslim Brotherhood’s violent onslaught against Christians has been unprecedented.

“It never happened before in history that such a big number of churches were attacked on one day,” Bishop Thomas, a Coptic Orthodox bishop in Assiut told Al Jazeera. “We normally used to have attacks once a month or so.”

The memo’s discovery comes a week after leading Freedom and Justice Party politician Abdul Mawgoud Dardery appeared at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. and said that Egypt was a model for Christian-Muslim relations.

“The Pope of the Church (Coptic Pope Tawadros II) took part in the ouster of the first elected Islamist president. The Pope of the Church charges Islamic Sharia with underdevelopment [and] stagnation,” the memo from the Freedom and Justice Party’s branch in Egypt’s Helwan Governorate, near Cairo, said amid other accusations. “After all of this do people wonder why they burn churches? Burning houses of worship is a crime.

“And for the Church to adopt a war against Islam and Muslims is the worst crime. For every action is a reaction.”

The memo also attacked Pope Tawadros II for having supported the June 30 Tamarod demonstrations that led to the military’s toppling of Morsi.

He was not alone among Egypt’s religious leaders in backing the military’s decision to topple Morsi. Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, the highest clerical authority in Sunni Islam, also supported Morsi’s ouster.

The Brotherhood’s political arm also suggested Pope Tawadros was complicit in the deaths of the over 600 Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators, some of whom were armed with guns, after police cleared them from their encampments.

The phrase “war against Islam” has consistently been used by Islamic extremists to recruit terrorist fighters and to encourage terrorist attacks.

Al-Qaida leader Zayman al-Zawahiri, himself an Egyptian and former Brotherhood member, attacked Pope Tawadros and the Copts last week, blaming them for Morsi’s downfall.

Brotherhood supporters in the city of al-Saff have been drawing check marks on houses owned by Copts to mark them for arson.

Read more at IPT

Muslim Brotherhood ‘Reprisals’ & “Enemies of Islam”

download (32)National Review, By  Andrew C. McCarthy:

More on what Nina Shea and yours truly noted earlier today: The Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamic supremacist allies – portrayed in the mainstream media as “peaceful protesters” subjected to unprovoked violence by Egyptian security forces – continue their jihad against Christians. And that jihad continues to be portrayed in the mainstream media as “reprisal” attacks, as if it were the Copts rather than the armed forces who had ousted the Brotherhood from power.

The Asia News (h/t Robert Spencer) describes a “reprisal [that] occurred immediately after last night’s clashes” in which security forces bulldozed camps that the Brotherhood refused evacuate:

The Muslim Brotherhood’s anger for the forced evacuation of the pro-Mohamed Morsi sit-ins has been unleashed against Christians. In the last few hours, the Islamists have attacked seven Catholic churches and afull fifteen religious structures of the Coptic-Orthodox Church and the Protestant church. The attacks took place in Cairo and in the governorate of Sohag (Upper Egypt). The news was announced by Fr. Rafic Greiche, spokesperson for the Egyptian Catholic Church, who underlined the fact that the Western media has remained silent about the attacks. At the moment it is unclear whether any persons have been injured or killed.

It is worth noting, for the bipartisan Beltway clerisy that thinks the solution here is to move immediately to elections (i.e., the “democracy” approach — democratic process without democratic culture — that has gotten us to this point), that the reason for the Brotherhood’s smashing electoral successes after Mubarak’s ouster was its savvy in portraying all contests as “Islam versus the enemies of Islam.” As much as we wish to imagine the Egyptian population as secular and democratic, it is today exactly the same population that only eight months ago voted overwhelmingly for a sharia constitution (after overwhelming voting Islamic supremacists into control of parliament and electing Morsi president). The attacks on the Copts are not just a continuation of jihad as usual. They are a strategic effort to link the Copts in the public mind with the armed forces that carried out the coup (as well as the minority secularists who took to the streets to demand it). The military is a revered institution, but the most significant fact of life in Egypt is Islam. If the generals are seen as partners of the Copts, they end up on the “enemies of Islam” side of the narrative spun by Islamic supremacists. As we’ve seen again and again since 2011, that is the wrong side to be on in Egypt’s “democracy.”

And isn’t it just ducky that the Obama administration, instead of discrediting the toxic “enemies of Islam” narrative, has now adopted it in State Department pronouncements.

Muslim Brotherhood Burns Churches, Scapegoats Christians Following Crackdown

by John Rossomando:

Muslim Persecution of Christians: May, 2013

images (89)By Raymond Ibrahim:

The month of May continued to prove that Nigeria is the most dangerous nation for Christians—where more Christians have been killed last year than all around the Muslim world combined.  In one instance, Boko Haram Muslim militants stormed the home of a Pentecostal pastor and secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria, and opened fire on him, instantly murdering him.

Separately, other Boko Haram gunmen killed 14 Christians, including the cousin and two nephews of the Rev. Moses Thliza, head of a Christian organization dedicated to preventing AIDS and caring for AIDS patients and orphans:  Said Thliza: “My cousin, Bulus [Paul] Buba, was dragged out at gunpoint from his house by the Boko Haram members. They collected his car keys, demanded money and asked him three times to renounce his Christian faith, and three times he declined to do so [prompting them to execute him]. The attackers met three guards on duty, killed two of them by cutting their necks with knives, and then proceeded to take the third guard, Amtagu Samiyu, at gunpoint to lead them to where the keys of the deputy governor’s house is.”

As for some Christians observing a wake two kilometers away, Boko Haram Muslims asked to know what was going on there, and when they learned that people were saying prayers for an elderly Christian woman who had died, they charged in and shot into the crowd. “The attackers went there and shot indiscriminately at the worshippers, killing eight Christians—two women and six elderly men,” said Thliza. “In all, we buried 14 Christians. Some were injured and taken to the hospital.”

Despite all this, when the Nigerian government tried militarily to confront and neutralize Boko Haram, the Obama administration criticized it, warning it not to violate the “human rights” of the Islamic terrorists.

Categorized by theme, the rest of May’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed by theme and in country alphabetical order, not necessarily according to severity:

Church Attacks 

Bosnia: The Serbian Orthodox church of Saint Sava in Sarajevo, where Muslims make up approximately half of the population, was “desecrated” and six of its windows panes broken.  The unidentified vandals wrote “Allah” in dark paint twice on the church wall.  A month earlier, unidentified persons tried to set the church on fire.

Central African Republic: According to the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace, since an Islamic rebel leader proclaimed himself president, the situation for Christians, has “deeply worsened.” The organization warns against “the evil intentions for the programmed and planned desecration and destruction of religious Christian buildings, and in particular the Catholic and Protestant churches….  All over the country the Catholic Church has paid a high price.” Several dioceses have been seriously damaged and plundered, and priests and nuns attacked (more information below, under “Dhimmitude.”)

EgyptTwo Coptic Christian churches were attacked, one in Alexandria, the other in Upper Egypt.  St. Mary in Alexandria was attacked by Molotov cocktails and bricks, causing the gate to burn and the stained glass windows to shatter.  One-thousand Christians tried to defend the church against 20,000 Muslims screaming “Allahu Akbar” [“Allah is Greater”]. One Copt was killed and several injured.  In the village of Menbal in Upper Egypt, after “Muslim youths” harassed Christian girls—including hurling bags of urine at them—and Coptic men came to their rescue, another Muslim mob stormed the village church of Prince Tadros el-Mashreki. They hurled stones and broke everything inside the church, including doors and windows. The mob then went along the streets looting and destroying all Coptic-owned businesses and pharmacies and torching cars. Any Copt met by the mob in the street was beaten.

Iran: Because it refused to stop using the national Persian language during its services—which makes the Gospel intelligible to all Iranian Muslims, some of whom converted—the Central Assemblies of God Church in Tehran was raided by security services during a prayer meeting; its pastor taken to an unknown location, and the church was searched and its books, documents and equipment seized.   Security agents posted a sign stating that the church was now closed. One local source said, “They constantly threaten the church leaders and their families with imprisonment, unexplained accidents, kidnapping and even with execution. We cannot go on like this.”  A number of its members have already been killed and its activities greatly restricted over the last few years.

Libya: The Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception in Benghazi was bombed.  In the words of the Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli, “They put a bomb at the entrance of the corridor leading to the courtyard where there is the door of the church. The church, therefore, was not touched directly, but the attack is not a positive sign. The Church in Libya is suffering. In Benghazi the Coptic Church was hit, its chaplain was killed and now the Catholic Church.  As I reported on other occasions, in Cyrenaica different religious women’s institutes have been forced to close their doors, in Tobruk, Derna, Beida, Barce, as well as in Benghazi. The nuns who were forced to leave, served the population with generosity.”

Syria:  A violent explosion destroyed the church and convent of the Capuchin Franciscan Friars in Deir Ezzor. According to Fr. Haddad of the region, “It was the only church in Deir Ezzor [that] so far still remained almost untouched.” It is not clear how it was destroyed, but some say a car bomb was placed next to the church. Fr. Haddad lamented that, as in other regions, “there are no more Christians” left in Ezzor, due to “all this hate and desecration.”

Tanzania:  During a service to mark its official opening, a new church in a predominantly Christian suburb was bombed, killing at least five people and wounding some 60.  According to a local source, This was… a well-planned attack. Even before it, the threat was given and we still have many threats. Pray for us, and that God will overcome all these in Jesus’ name.” He added that, “radical camps in the country were teaching young Muslims that Christians must be killed or live as second-class citizens,” or dhimmis.  Among those arrested, four were Saudi Arabian nationals. The bombing follows the slaying of two church leaders in February, and the shooting in the face of a third on Christmas Day.  In October, several church buildings were torched and vandalized.

Read more about persecution for Apostasy, Blasphemy, Proselytism, and Dhimmitude at Gatestone Institute