Egyptian Leaders Praise Donald Trump, Blast Hillary Clinton After President El-Sisi Meets with Both Candidates

trump-el-sisi-ap-640x480Breitbart, by JEN LAWRENCE & DUSTIN STOCKTON, Sept. 21, 2016:

NEW YORK CITY, New York — Members of the Egyptian delegation to the United Nations blasted Hillary Clinton just a day after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi met with both Clinton and Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump. They also had high praise for Trump—and while not an official endorsement, it is a positive outcome for Trump’s first and only meeting with Muslim world leaders thus far.

Egyptian officials expressed frustration and outrage over the Obama administration’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood and expressed concern that a Clinton administration would continue to undermine Egyptian efforts to dismantle Brotherhood terrorists attempting to destabilize the democratically elected Egyptian government.

Ahmed Gad, a member of the Egyptian Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee, told Breitbart News Tuesday night:

I think 90 percent of Egyptians would prefer Trump because he will not cooperate with terrorists. He [Trump] will not cooperate with Muslim Brothers and our main concern in Egypt now is terrorist attacks as you saw two days ago in the United States. We saw it daily in Egypt on the hands of Muslim Brothers so we know very well that Muslim Brothers are a terrorist group and we want to build up our democratic regime.

Many members of the Egyptian delegation spoke on the record exclusively with Breitbart News at an event to promote communication and unity between the United States and Egypt on Tuesday night. The event was organized by popular Egyptian media personality and host of American Pulse Dr. Michael Morgan, and featured several American foreign policy experts including representatives from the London Center for Policy Research and more than a hundred prominent Egyptians including members of parliament, leading media figures, government officials, and businessmen.

The Egyptian delegation interviews came as El-Sisi, in an interview with CNN, said that he has “no doubt” that Donald Trump would make a strong leader. El-Sisi also responded to a clip of Hillary Clinton accusing the Egyptian government of being “basically an army dictatorship,” during a debate with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. He said, in part, that “in Egypt there will not be a chance for any dictatorship because in Egypt there is a constitution, there is law, and there is the will of the people which will refuse to allow any leader to stay in his position for any period longer than his term which is four years.”

The fact that El-Sisi and those from the Egyptian delegation to the United Nations General Assembly here in New York City this week would speak so openly and positively about Trump—and so openly and negatively about Clinton—may surprise some. They are Muslim leaders and Egypt is perhaps one of the biggest and longest-standing Muslim nations in world history. Many establishment media outlets have painted Trump’s relationship with all Muslims as toxic, since he has expressed plans to temporarily ban Islamic migration into the United States. But El-Sisi, when asked about Trump’s proposed Muslim ban during his CNN interview, defended Trump.

“The United States in general conducts very strict security measures for everyone who wishes to visit it, which has been in place for quite a few years,” El-Sisi, the first Muslim world leader to meet with Trump, told CNN. “It’s also important to know that during election campaigns many statements are made and many things are said, however afterwards governing the country would be something different.  And will be subject to many factors.”

El-Sisi expressed these same sentiments in other interviews with the Egyptian delegation to the U.N.G.A. this week. At Trump’s meeting with El-Sisi, retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn—the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) for two years during the Obama administration—and U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) were also present.

The Trump campaign said in a readout of the meeting sent to press:

Mr. Trump thanked President el-Sisi and the Egyptian people for what they have done in defense of their country and for the betterment of the world over the last few years. He expressed great respect for Egypt’s history and the important leadership role it has played in the Middle East. Mr. Trump expressed to President el-Sisi his strong support for Egypt’s war on terrorism, and how under a Trump Administration, the United States of America will be a loyal friend, not simply an ally, that Egypt can count on in the days and years ahead. Mr. Trump emphasized the strong partnership that the United States and Egypt have shared for so many years and how this relationship is vital to help promote peace and stability in the Middle East, broader region and the world. Mr. Trump also expressed his recognition of Egypt’s close relationship with Israel on countering terrorism.Mr. Trump highlighted how Egypt and the U.S. share a common enemy and the importance of working together in defeating radical Islamic terrorism, not only politically and militarily, but also addressing the ideology. Mr. Trump emphasized to President el-Sisi his high regard for peace-loving Muslims and understands that every day there are people of goodwill that sacrifice their lives and fortunes to combat the growing threat of radical Islamic terrorism. Mr. Trump said that if he were fortunate enough to win the election in November, he would invite President el-Sisi on an official visit to the United States and would be honored to visit Egypt and the Egyptian people who he has a great fondness for.

Clinton’s campaign described her meeting with El-Sisi as being successful as well. According to a Clinton aide:

Secretary Clinton and President Sisi had a constructive discussion about bilateral ties and cooperation on a wide range of issues, including counterterrorism. They also discussed the importance of economic development and investment in Egypt. Secretary Clinton emphasized the importance of respect for rule of law and human rights to Egypt’s future progress. Secretary Clinton called for the release of U.S. citizen Aya Hijazi and raised concerns about prosecution of Egyptian human rights organizations and activists. Secretary Clinton discussed ways to deepen counterterrorism cooperation, particularly in the fight against ISIS. She and President Sisi exchanged views about the Middle East, and Secretary Clinton underscored the importance of the Egyptian cooperation with Israel on counterterrorism, and her commitment to defeating ISIS, to addressing foreign fighters, and to countering radicalization.

However, the Egyptian delegations’ respective statements to Breitbart News do not reveal a positive aftermath for Clinton’s meeting.

But clearly, based upon El-Sisi’s interview with CNN and comments that the various members of the Egyptian delegation here made to Breitbart News, it is Trump not Clinton whom the Egyptian leadership wants to win the election.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Egyptian Chamber of Media Industry, Amr Fathy, took issue with Hillary Clinton’s claims that President El-Sisi is a dictator. “The signs you take as dictatorship is not dictatorship,” Fathy told Breitbart News. Of El-Sisi, Fathy added: “This is our president and we are behind him.”

“The Egyptian authorities they have already dealt with Hillary before; we did not deal with Trump,” Fathy explained about the meetings between El-Sisi and the American presidential candidates. “So, maybe we know now much more and better idea about Mr. Trump in specific.”

When asked about the coziness between Clinton and the Muslim Brotherhood, Fathy showed just how damaging the Obama foreign policy directed by Hillary Clinton and her successor at the State Department, John Kerry, has been to America’s standing in the eye’s of the Egyptians. He said:

They [Muslim Brotherhood] were supported by the Americans and the Western world. Why? I don’t know. They did not come by democracy, they were not the people who came out on the 25th of January. They were not, the youth were the people who came out. We have our own identity, we are not a theocratic nation we have never been a theocratic nation. The American policy is always pushing for theocratic regimes and then when you have a theocratic regime you start crying.

One consistent theme among the Egyptians who spoke with Breitbart News was the deep distrust of Hillary Clinton. Dr. Morgan said of Egyptian President El-Sisi’s meetings with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on Monday:

President El-Sisi wanted to meet up with both candidates because he did not want to give Hillary a chance to use and abuse an indirect endorsement from a meeting with a President like El-Sisi. As evil as she is, she was going to go out into the media and say, ‘oh I have a good relationship with this man, I know foreign policy’ so he made sure that he would meet Trump as well to make sure the America public doesn’t think he supports Hillary. We know he would never support Hillary because Hillary is another eight years of Obama and Obama has been really bad for Egypt.

The members of the Egyptian Parliament that Breitbart News spoke with Tuesday night showcased the inclusive nature of the new Egyptian government under President El-Sisi. Among the representatives were two women, a Coptic Christian, and a 31-year-old man. One of the female Parliament members pointed out that a third of the Egyptian parliament members are under the age of 35.

One of those women, Sahar Talaat Moustafa, is the head of the Tourism and Civil Aviation Committee. When asked by Breitbart News how the Egyptian people see Hillary Clinton, she responded: “A lot of people in Egypt feel she is in support of the Brotherhood. Actually, a majority of people think so.”

Moustafa invited Americans to come visit Egypt and see for themselves.

“I invite you to come and see how things are going on in Egypt,” she said. “Everything is so smooth we are walking normally in the streets and there is no terrorism. Egypt’s is one of the safest countries to go.”

Ahmed Gad is a member of the Egyptian Parliament’s Foreign Policy Committee and he echoed the desire of the Egyptian dignitaries who spoke with Breitbart News for a better relationship with the United States, but also concern that under the Obama administration the United States sided with the wrong side in the Muslim Brotherhood. Gad said:

For us, it’s a very important signal that we want to resume our good relations but in the same time, I am speaking as a political researcher, frankly speaking, we are very disappointed from Obama’s policy towards our country. Because, by the way, I am a Coptic in Egypt so we suffered a lot under the Muslim Brotherhood regime. Some sort of cooperation between the American administration, Obama Administration, and the Muslim Brothers. We know very well that they are terrorists, they burned and destroyed over 100 churches in Egypt, and they killed a lot of Christians. They killed and are still killing a lot of Egyptians priests men and soldiers. At the same time the Obama administration is refusing to deal with the Muslim Brothers as a terrorist group.

Gad said that El-Sisi’s background as a general should not be taken to mean he is somehow running a “military dictatorship” as Hillary Clinton claimed.

“Yes, El-Sisi has a military background but he saved Egypt,” Gad said. “He restored the Egyptian identity.”

That’s why they seem to really want Trump elected in the United States.

Some of the members of the Egyptian Parliament did express concern that Donald Trump might have trouble restoring the relationship with Egypt because of the institutional nature of the American system of government and foreign policy. Many of the American foreign policy experts explained that the American President sets foreign policy and that a President Trump would have the authority to change the diplomatic course between the two nations.

“That’s why we are ready to cooperate with anybody who can fight the Muslim Brothers and frankly speaking, we are fighting terrorism on behalf of the Modern World,” Gad said.

Brotherhood Members Gather in D.C. to Blast Egyptian Government

mb-theaterby John Rossomando
IPT News
September 21, 2016

Roughly two dozen Egyptians opposed to President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, some with Muslim Brotherhood connections, signed a declaration last week in Washington endorsing a civil constitution that separates mosque and state. Three of the declaration’s points involve prosecuting current Egyptian officials.

Sisi, a former general, assumed power in July 2013 after his military forces ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who led the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party. Sisi was elected president with an overwhelming 96 percent of the vote in 2014.

He has cracked down on dissent, especially by the Muslim Brotherhood, imprisoning 29,000 Brotherhood members, mainly on terrorism charges.

They, in turn, have organized campaigns against the government, calling it the product of a coup.

In a Facebook post, one participant explained the statement was issued from Washington after “all other places rejected the meeting.”

The fourth point of their 10-point “Washington Initiative” endorses the creation of a civil state. It calls for “[d]rafting a civil constitution which expressly stipulates no state interference in religious institutions or vice versa, and no military intervention in the political process. It will establish rights and freedoms according to the basis of international human rights declarations and global covenants.”

This declaration also endorsed pluralism, freedom of expression, press freedom, and full equality of all Egyptian citizens. It also calls for releasing political prisoners.

Many of these positions are inconsistent with the Brotherhood’s policies during its year in power. Muslim Brotherhood leaders had promised to bring about democratic reforms once in office. Instead, they resorted to the same sort of repression found during Hosni Mubarak’s nearly 30-year reign. This became clear after Morsi asserted emergency powers in November 2012.

“It was clear from President Morsi’s first day in office that his program for the first 100 days of his term paid little attention to addressing human rights issues and realizing Egyptians’ aspirations for democratization,” the Cairo Institute for Human Rights said in a new report issued in June.

Morsi created the underpinnings of an authoritarian regime in place of Mubarak, the institute said.

Military trials for civilians continued under Muslim Brotherhood rule and accusations of defamation of religion frequently were used to stifle freedom of expression, the institute reported. Press freedom also suffered during Morsi’s presidency.

The delegation in Washington last week included Abdul Mawgoud Dardery, foreign affairs chairman for the Muslim Brotherhood’s banned Freedom and Justice Party, and a frequent participant in pro-Brotherhood lobbying efforts in the nation’s capital.

Dardery previously rejected the separation of mosque and state.

“The issue of the separation of religion from politics is a church issue and it does not apply to Islam,” Dardery said in a Feb. 15, 2014 speech he gave at the Islamic Society of Milwaukee, and translated by the Investigative Project on Terrorism. “Democracy is the rule of people [for] the people by the people within the limit of what God allows. Islam is a choice, is a contract between me and God.”

Dardery’s statement at the Islamic Society of Milwaukee more closely resembles the International Muslim Brotherhood’s bylaws, which ultimately envisions an Islamic state.

“The need to work on establishing the Islamic State, which seeks to effectively implement the provisions of Islam and its teachings. Defend the nation against the internal enemies, try to present the true teachings of Islam and communicate its ideas to the world,” Article 2, Paragraph E of the bylaws say.

In contrast, Dardery claimed in a more public setting a year later that the Muslim Brotherhood did not want a religious state.

“We’re not calling for a religious law, we’re not calling for a theocracy; we’re standing against theocracy, period. What we are calling for is a democracy that can bring the liberals, the leftists, the nationalists, or the Muslim Brotherhood, because they’re all equal,” Dardery told a University of California, Berkeley audience.

He also affirmed in the speech the idea of a civil state with Islamic principles, meaning that the state would be governed by laypersons under a constitution and that laws would be made within the boundaries of Islamic shariah. This concept contrasts with the Iranian model where clerics rule directly over the people.

The 2012 Egyptian constitution drafted under Morsi’s rule had created a civil state butmade laws subject to review by Al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam’s most important institution.

Amnesty International faulted the Muslim Brotherhood’s last attempt to write a constitution for blocking women’s path to full equality and failing to protect minorities.

“It is therefore no wonder that the constitution, drafted solely by political Islamists, further entrenches both political and religious despotism and paves the way for a Sunni theocracy similar to the Iranian model,” the Cairo Institute for Human Rights wrote.

Michael Meunier, a Coptic Christian who helped organize and coordinate factions involved in the 2011 revolt that toppled Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, dismissed the D.C. gathering and its resulting declaration as smoke and mirrors.

“All the [people in] attendance are members of the MB disguised under different banners. I know several of them and definitely they don’t speak for [a] civil state and did not support the creation of a civil state in 2011. [Their] insistence on Jan 25th as the official revolution gives away their motive. They don’t want to acknowledge June 30th as a Revolution since it was against the MB,” Meunier said in an email.

The declaration had more to do with persuading American policymakers to support the Muslim Brotherhood against the Egyptian government, Meunier said. The Brotherhood used similar rhetoric before it came to power in Egypt but failed to deliver after Morsi’s inauguration.

“They love playing under different umbrellas,” Meunier said. “They say one thing in English and another in Arabic.”

Dardery’s contradictory statements support Meunier’s point that Muslim Brotherhood members vary their message depending on their audience.

Egypt’s Youm 7 newspaper identified other Brotherhood-linked figures who participated in the recent conference. In addition to Dardery, participants included former Morsi adviser Seif El-Din Abdel Fattah; Ayman Nour, head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Sharq Channel; Muhammad Mahsoub of the Wasat Party; and Brotherhood analyst Essam Hajji.

The declaration triggered “earthquakes inside the Brotherhood camp” after its signing,Youm 7 reported.

The Muslim Brotherhood disavowed any formal participation in the conference and said any Brotherhood members who participated did so on their own.

“Media reports announcing the outcome of the ‘dialogue’ workshop held recently in Washington, attended by some political activists, also claimed representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood were present. This is not true. The group had no knowledge of anyone representing it in that workshop,” Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Talat Fahmy said in a statement posted on the Brotherhood’s own website, Ikhwanweb. “The Muslim Brotherhood reiterates that any views, opinion, stances or attitudes attributed to it must be so expressed through its own institutions and spokespersons.”

Other Islamists denounced the document as a “farce” because it does not recognize the Islamic nature of Egypt.

Serving Muslim Interests With American Foreign Policy

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Front Page Magazine, by Joseph Klein, Sept. 2, 2016:

A Hillary Clinton presidency would likely continue along the pro-Islamist foreign policy arc that both her husband’s administration and the Obama administration have developed.

President Bill Clinton committed U.S. military resources to help Muslims during the so-called “humanitarian” intervention in Bosnia. However, he chose to turn a blind eye to the genocide that swamped Rwanda during his administration. As G. Murphy Donovan wrote in his American Thinker article “How the Clintons Gave American Foreign Policy its Muslim Tilt,” “Muslim lives matter, Black Africans, not so much.” Noting that “it was Muslim unrest that precipitated Serb pushback, civil war, and the eventual collapse of Yugoslavia,” Donovan added, “Bosnians are, for the most part, Muslims with a bloody fascist pedigree.” Nevertheless, with no strategic U.S. national interest at stake, Bill Clinton tilted American foreign policy in favor of the Muslim side in the Bosnia conflict. We are now reaping the lethal consequences of that tilt. Donovan points out in his article that, on a per capita basis, Bosnia Herzegovina is the leading source of ISIS volunteers in all of Europe.

President Obama, along with then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, took the side of Islamist “rebels” against the secular authoritarian regimes in Egypt, Libya and Syria that had managed to keep the lid on jihadist terrorism for many years. These Islamists included members of al Qaeda as well as the Muslim Brotherhood.

In Libya, Hillary Clinton was the leading voice pressing for military intervention against Col. Muammar el- Qaddafi’s regime. She did so, even though, according to sources cited in a State Department memo passed on to Hillary by her deputy at the time, Jake Sullivan, in an e-mail dated April 1, 2011, “we just don’t know enough about the make-up or leadership of the rebel forces.”  In fact, as subsequently reported by the New York Times, the only organized opposition to the Qaddafi regime that had developed underground during Qaddafi’s rule were the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a terrorist group, and the Muslim Brotherhood.  The author of the State Department memo had acknowledged the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group’s terrorist past but said they “express a newfound keenness for peaceful politics.” Was Hillary Clinton relying on such assurances of a reformed “peaceful” Islamic group fighting against Qaddafi, even though it had been on the State Department’s terrorist list since 2004 and one of its leaders, Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi,  praised al Qaeda members as “good Muslims” in a March 2011 interview?  If so, that is just another indication of her bad judgment.

As for Egypt, Hillary was informed by her outside adviser and confidante Sid Blumenthal, in an e-mail dated December 16, 2011, that the Muslim Brotherhood’s intention was to create an Islamic state. Moreover, the relationship between the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda and other radical groups was “complicated,” Blumenthal quoted a source “with access to the highest levels of the MB” as saying. Blumenthal also reported, based on a confidential source, that Mohamed Morsi, who was then leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, believed that “it will be difficult for this new, Islamic government to control the rise of al Qa’ida and other radical/terrorist groups.”

Nevertheless, the Obama administration supported the Muslim Brotherhood in its bid to seek power in Egypt through a shaky electoral process. After Morsi’s election to the presidency, Hillary visited Egypt where Morsi warmly welcomed her and she expressed strong support for Egypt’s “democratic transition.” However, the only real transition Morsi had in mind was to impose sharia law on the Egyptian people, the very antithesis of true democratic pluralism. Yet the Obama–Clinton gravy train of military aid to the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Islamist regime continued without any preconditions. Hillary Clinton herself and her State Department referred to the importance of the U.S.’s “partnership” with the Muslim Brotherhood-backed regime.

When Morsi was removed from power, after millions of Egyptians had taken to the streets to protest the increasingly theocratic regime, the Obama administration decided to suspend aid to the more secular successor military regime. The “partnership” was no more once the Islamists were swept out of office.

While Morsi was still president, the Clinton Foundation, which has taken millions of dollars in donations from Muslim majority governments and affiliated groups and individuals, invited Morsi to deliver a major address at the Clinton Global Initiative. This invitation was extended just a month after an individual named Gehad el-Haddad, who was working simultaneously for the Muslim Brotherhood and the Clinton Foundation in Cairo, left his Clinton Foundation job to work for Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood full time. Fortunes changed for this individual, however, when, after Morsi was overthrown, Haddad was arrested for inciting violence and given a life sentence.

The Obama administration, while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, also cooperated with the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to pass and implement a United Nations resolution that was intended to curb speech considered Islamophobic. Clinton, in full spin mode, insisted that the new UN resolution was totally consistent with the free speech protections of the First Amendment, as opposed to the “defamation of religions” resolutions that the OIC had sponsored in the past but was willing to have replaced. The truth, however, is that all we were seeing was old wine in new bottles. To make sure that the OIC was comfortable regarding the Obama administration’s intentions, Clinton assured the OIC that she was perfectly on board with using “some old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming, so that people don’t feel that they have the support to do what we abhor.” She was trying to publicly assure American citizens that their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and press were safe, while working behind the scenes with her OIC partners to find acceptable ways to stifle speech offensive to Muslims.

The signs of Hillary Clinton’s Islamist tilt as she runs for president include the sweepingly general and demonstrably false assertion in her tweet last November that Muslims “have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.”  She has obviously learned nothing from her disastrous tenure as Secretary of State. Neither is she willing to acknowledge that the terrorists whom she has called a “determined enemy” are jihadists animated by an ideology rooted in core Muslim teachings of the Koran and the Hadith (Prophet Muhammad’s sayings and actions).  Is there something about the word “Muslim” in the Muslim Brotherhood and “Islamic” in the Islamic State that she is having problems understanding?

Perhaps, it is Hillary’s close association with Huma Abedin, her top campaign aide and confidante, who has had questionable links to Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated organizations, which explains Hillary’s denial of the truth. If someone as close to Hillary as Huma Abedin, whom she apparently trusts with her life, is a Muslim, then how could any Muslim possibly have anything to do with terrorism?

Then again, perhaps Hillary’s willingness to give Islamists the benefit of the doubt is all the money that the Clintons have received over the years from foreign donors in Muslim majority countries, including the Saudi government and affiliated groups and individuals. Hillary Clinton has also reached out for campaign donations from a pro-Iranian lobby group, the National Iranian American Council. Whatever human rights abuses are inflicted on people in these countries, it would be counterproductive to bite the hand that feeds you, in the Clintons’ way of thinking.

Finally, the Democratic Party itself has moved much further to the Left since the days of Bill Clinton’s presidency, which has led to the broadening out of the pro-Islamist bias that began to take shape with Bill Clinton’s intervention in Bosnia. As David Horowitz wrote in a January 8, 2016 article published by National Review:

“Leftists and Democrats have also joined the Islamist propaganda campaign to represent Muslims — whose co-religionists have killed hundreds of thousands of innocents since 9/11 in the name of their religion — as victims of anti-Muslim prejudice, denouncing critics of Islamist terror and proponents of security measures as ‘Islamophobes’ and bigots. Led by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Democrats have enabled the Islamist assault on free speech, which is a central component of the Islamist campaign to create a worldwide religious theocracy.”

For a variety of reasons, Hillary Clinton as president can be expected to move the United States towards an even more accommodative stance than her predecessors with Islamists who mean to do us harm.

Egyptian Ambassador Takes Aim at Top Muslim Brotherhood Jurist

ISLAMIC SCHOLAR AL-QARADAWI POSES IN LONDON. REUTERS/Toby Melville

ISLAMIC SCHOLAR AL-QARADAWI POSES IN LONDON.
REUTERS/Toby Melville

CounterJihad, by Kyle Shideler, Aug. 30, 2016:

Last week the Egyptian Ambassador to the United States Yasser Reda used the opportunity of a Wall Street Journal op-ed to focus attention on the ideologues who promote and support terrorist violence, and called for United Nations efforts to curb terroristic speech with international policy instruments in a manner similar to terror financing. For the subject of their piece, Egypt’s Ambassador focused not on Islamic State’s Al-Baghdadi, or Al Qaeda’s Al-Zawahiri, but rather a man he identified as “the pontiff of terror,” Muslim Brotherhood leading cleric and sharia jurist Yusuf Al-Qaradawi.

The Egyptians have good reason to fear Qaradawi, a long-accomplished jurist with “more than a hundred tomes on theological and jurisprudential issues” to his name, who in 2013 called for those who overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood regime of Mohammed Morsi to be killed.

Qaradawi’s proclamations played a substantial role in the Arab Spring, particular legitimizing jihad in Libya against Qaddafi and in Syria against Hezbollah and the Assad regime. Qaradawi’s pronouncements also played a role in massive and highly anti-Semitic protests in opposition to Israel Operation Protective Edge against Hamas throughout the Middle East, Europe and the United States.

Prior to the Arab Spring, Qaradawi was perhaps best known for providing fatwas authorizing suicide bombings for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, and calling for the death of Americans during the occupation in Iraq in 2004.

Unfortunately Reda’s rebuttals falls into some common rhetorical pitfalls. In particular, Reda attempts to contrast Qaradawi’s support for suicide bombings with a prohibition against suicide found in Islamic law. While it’s admirable for the Egyptian diplomat to admit that Qaradawi deals in questions of Islamic jurisprudence and not an artificial “extremism” unrelated to questions of Islamic jurisprudence, Reda’s argument against Qaradawi’s positions lack a solid basis.

The very statement Reda quotes to condemn itself invokes Qaradawi’s defense against the charge. Reda quotes Qaradawi on Al Jazeera suggesting that suicide operations must be undertaken as part of a military effort by a Jamma (party or group) and not by a single individual. But Qaradawi’s formulation eliminates the possibility that a person has taken their own life only out of their own personal despair, and not in order that “they fight in the cause of Allah, so they kill and are killed.” (Sura: 9:39)

Even while making an effort to minimize Qaradawi’s juridical authority, Reda ultimately seems to accept that Qaradawi’s interpretation carries serious weight among his audience, and that those who hear his appeals to violence on the basis of sharia may act upon it.

Far too many western analysts cannot bring themselves to make even this reasonable concession to reality.

Reda also dispatches with the nonsense notion that Qaradawi’s views, which uphold suicide bombings, jihad and revolution are, in any way, the views of a “moderate.”

Qaradawi has been a bugbear for several Arab States, including Egypt, but also the United Arab Emirates, which designated Qaradawi’s International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) as a terrorist group.

Reda’s proposed solution raises some questions and some concerns. Reda proposes a United Nations apparatus to designate ideologues like Qaradawi, in the same manner as designating terror financiers, and to sanction them accordingly.

To begin with Qaradawi is already the head of a U.S. and Israeli-designated terrorist finance organization, the Union of the Good, as being designated by the United Arab Emirates.  Despite this no sanctions have ever been placed directly on Qaradawi or business associated with him.

Qaradawi, who has been banned from entry to numerous countries including the United States, France, and Ireland, faces an Interpol “red notice” seeking his arrest and return to Egypt to stand trial on charges of incitement to murder.

In other words, if the nations of the world were so inclined, the ability to take action against Qaradawi exists.

Yet Qaradawi continues to enjoy the patronage of Qatar and Turkey, nations that have sought to expand their prestige and position in the Muslim world through a mutually beneficial alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood. As a result, it’s unlikely to see international consensus regarding an effort to sanction him for his calls to violence.

The other problem, of course is Egypt’s own history of seeking to utilize international forums to silence opponents have not always been focused on Muslim Brotherhood and other jihadist ideologues.

Instead Egypt (with the support of the United States), sponsored a 2009 resolution targeting freedom of speech under the rubric of protecting against religious discrimination. As Anne Bayesfky noted at the time:

…Ambassador Hisham Badr, was equally pleased–for all the wrong reasons. He praised the development by telling the Council that “freedom of expression . . . has been sometimes misused,” insisting on limits consistent with the “true nature of this right” and demanding that the “the media must . . . conduct . . . itself in a professional and ethical manner.”

The new resolution, championed by the Obama administration, has a number of disturbing elements. It emphasizes that “the exercise of the right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities . . .” which include taking action against anything meeting the description of “negative racial and religious stereotyping.” It also purports to “recognize . . . the moral and social responsibilities of the media” and supports “the media’s elaboration of voluntary codes of professional ethical conduct” in relation to “combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.”

This is particularly worrisome since the U.N.-based effort is modeled on using “incitement to violence” to trigger legal penalties, which seems similar to the sort of trigger for sanctions proposed by Reda.

While it’s possible that the current proposal by Ambassador Reda is intended only to narrowly focus on the kinds of jihadist ideology promoted by clerics like Qaradawi, it pays to be cautious.

Still Reda’s editorial displays a rare level-headedness about the depth of the problem, and a willingness to call out not just jihadists but Islamic scholars and clerics who provide legitimacy to jihadist terror.

At a minimum however cooperation between U.S. and western countries and Arab states looking to crack down on Muslim Brotherhood ideologues and their networks would be a key turning point towards responding to the current threat, and one that the U.S. has largely turned a blind eye to. Certainly expanding current terrorism laws to include those, like Qaradawi, who provide ideological and material support to terror, along with including the Muslim Brotherhood as a designated terrorist group, would be a good first step towards “countering the pontiff of terror.”

John Bolton: Iran Deal ‘Worst Appeasement in American History’

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Breitbart, by Adelle Nazarian, Aug. 25, 2016:

LOS ANGELES, California — Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton declared Sunday that the Iranian nuclear deal is the “worst act of appeasement in American history.” Bolton was speaking at the Luxe Hotel on Sunday for the American Freedom Alliance‘s conference, titled “Islam and Western Civilization: Can They Coexist?”

Bolton, who is also a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, elaborated on the threat that radical Islam and political Islam pose to the United States of America, Europe and the whole of Western civilization. In doing so, he explained the propaganda inherent in the term “Islamphobia,” and dismissed the “lone-wolf” concept of radical Islamic terrorism.

Bolton said there is plenty of evidence from western intelligence, among other sources, that the Iranian regime is violating the terms of the deal, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. “I don’t think they ever intended to comply with its central provisions. They made minimal concessions to begin with and in exchange they got over $100 billion.”

Pressing further, Bolton criticized the recent ransom paid for American captives.He joked: “The good news is: each and every one of you is worth $100 million to the Obama Administration. The bad news is: Iran understands this.”

On a serious note, Bolton said: “All of our adversaries, and even our friends, are appalled by what they’ve seen. And the abandonment of our decades-long, bipartisan policy of not negotiating with terrorists. But it was all part of the nuclear deal.” He predicted there are many more surprises that will come up.

Bolton also explained that the “nature of the threat here is extraordinarily broad” and that “it has  been growing” because in the last eight years it has faced “no effective American opposition whatsoever.” That unfettered dynamic has resulted in a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. “Turkey and the Saudis and Egyptians, and likely other governments throughout the region, have also embarked on their own nuclear programs missions,” he said.

Regarding the threat of radical Islam, Bolton told the audience,  “I think it’s important to say, at the outset every time the subject comes up, that we are talking about politics and ideology here. This is not a question about religion. And those who say that ‘when you talk about radical Islam you are insulting Muslims all over the world,’ are simply engaged in propaganda.” Bolton added that these are “exactly Muslims, themselves, who have felt the worst effects of Islamic terrorism and who suffer under its rule in places as diverse as Iran and the caliphate that ISIS now holds.”

Bolton explained that individuals who do not wish to have a clear understanding of the true nature of radical Islam are “quick to obscure” it. “It’s a struggle for how the religion is perceived around the world,” Bolton noted.

He pointed out that Muslim leaders like King Abdullah of Jordan and Egypt’s President and former military general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi have called for a transformation within Islam, going so far as pointing out that this is a civil war that must be embraced and led by the people themselves.

He also lauded al-Sisi for being “courageous enough a couple of years ago to join the Coptic Christians in their celebration of Christmas and say ‘we are all Egyptians together,’ and thus putting a target on his own back with the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Bolton said that to suggest phrases like “lone-wolf terrorists and self-radicalized terrorists” when explaining these attacks is like comparing them with “spontaneous combustion: they were normal people one day and then the next day they became terrorists.” The West, he said, had failed “to understand the ideological nature of this war.”

Turning the spotlight onto President Barack Obama, Bolton said “the president says his objective is to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIS. The problem with his strategy is his first three words: ‘degrade and ultimately’. The answer to ISIS is to destroy it as rapidly as possible. The reason you want to do that is because every day that we delay allows ISIS to implement strategies in Europe.”

Bolton added: “Innocent civilians are at risk because of our unwillingness to take appropriate military action.”

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz

From Vlad Tepes:

Donald Trump’s Outreach to Moderate Muslim Leaders Highlights Clinton Failure in Egypt

AFP

AFP

Breitbart, by Tera Dahl, Aug. 17, 2016:

In his foreign policy speech on Monday, Donald Trump stated that he would “amplify the voice” of moderate Muslim reformers in the Middle East, saying, “Our Administration will be a friend to all moderate Muslim reformers in the Middle East, and will amplify their voices.”

He also said that he would work with Egypt, Jordan and Israel in combating radical Islam, saying, “As President, I will call for an international conference focused on this goal. We will work side-by-side with our friends in the Middle East, including our greatest ally, Israel. We will partner with King Abdullah of Jordan, and President Sisi of Egypt, and all others who recognize this ideology of death that must be extinguished.”

He said that, as President, he would establish a “Commission on Radical Islam,” saying, “That is why one of my first acts as President will be to establish a Commission on Radical Islam – which will include reformist voices in the Muslim community who will hopefully work with us. We want to build bridges and erase divisions.”

His comments about cooperating with Egypt, Israel and Jordan were highlighted in the Arab world’s media, with headlines reading “Donald Trump Announces Plan to Cooperate with Egypt, Jordan, Israel to Combat Radical Islam” and “Trump vows to work with Egypt’s Sisi to ‘stop radical Islam’ if elected.”

Under the Obama Administration, US policy has not been friendly towards our Muslim allies such as Egypt. Hillary Clinton recently said in a primary debate with Bernie Sanders that, in Egypt, you basically have an “army dictatorship”.

Egypt is one of the most catastrophic foreign policy failures of the Obama Administration and Hillary Clinton’s State Department. President Obama started his outreach to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood when he delivered his 2009 Cairo speech. The US Embassy invited 10 members of the Muslim Brotherhood to attend the speech, undermining US ally Mubarak – who had rejected to previous U.S. efforts to reach out to the Brotherhood.

The Obama Administration, and Clinton’s State Department, again undermined President Mubarak in 2011 when they urged him to step down and pressured Egypt to hold elections“ immediately” after the 2011 revolution. This policy favored the Muslim Brotherhood to win elections since they were the most organized at the time.

Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi in Cairo offering “strong support” for the Islamist President, saying, “I have come to Cairo to reaffirm the strong support of the United States for the Egyptian people and their democratic transition… We want to be a good partner and we want to support the democracy that has been achieved by the courage and sacrifice of the Egyptian people.”

The Obama Administration embraced the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt, but when millions of Egyptians took to the streets one year later, calling for early elections against the Muslim Brotherhood government, the Obama Administration did all they could to undermine their efforts.

Over 30 million Egyptians took to the streets on June 30, 2013 calling for the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood from power. After one year of being in power, the Brotherhood was taking Egypt towards an Iranian theocracy and the Egyptian people stood against political Islam. The 2011 Egyptian Constitution had no impeachment mechanism included, so the only democratic way to remove the Brotherhood was signing a petition and taking to the streets in the masses. Millions of Egyptians took to the streets again in July, supporting then Defense Minister General el-Sisi and the Egyptian military in their efforts to fight terrorism.

The Obama Administration condemned the Egyptian military and police after the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood and punished Egypt by freezing military and economic aid to Egypt. This was done while the Egyptian military had launched a major offensive to “crush terrorist activity” in the Sinai that had built up during the Muslim Brotherhood government. Egypt had to fight terrorism alone – not only without support from the US – but with pressure to succumb to the requests from the US Administration to release the Muslim Brotherhood members from prison and reconcile.

The pressure from the Obama Administration against the removal of the Morsi regime emboldened the Muslim Brotherhood and they waged an Islamist insurgency, not only in the Sinai but on the streets of Cairo. The Muslim Brotherhood specifically targeted the Christian community and burned down over 65 Christian Churches and hundreds of Christian shops.

The Obama Administration sent U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns to Egypt for “U.S. mediation efforts” and met with Khairat el-Shater, the deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was in jail at the time and sentenced for life in prison. Our State Department, under John Kerry, sent a representative to Egypt pressuring the Egyptian government to release terrorists from jail.

The Obama Administration also sent Senators McCain and Graham to Egypt to ask the Egyptian government and military to find an agreement with the Muslim Brotherhood. They asked the Egyptian government to “sit down and talk” to the Muslim Brotherhood, who had waged war on the Egyptian people.

Since being democratically elected in 2014, winning with 97% of the vote, Egyptian President al-Sisi has made history speaking out for equality between Muslims and Christians. He was the first President in Egyptian history to visit the Coptic Christian Christmas mass service in January 2015. During his speech at the Christmas mass, he emphasized the need to look at each other as “Egyptians” and not as Muslim or Christian. He said, “We will love each other for real, so that people may see.” President Sisi again visited the Coptic Christmas mass in January 2016 where he vowed to rebuild the Christian churches that were destroyed by Islamists in 2013 after the Muslim Brotherhood were removed from power.

President Sisi has called for “Islamic reform” within Islam numerous times. During a speech to Islamic scholars in 2015, marking the anniversary of Muhammad’s birth, President Sisi urged reform of Islamic discourse and called on Islamic scholars to send Christmas greetings to Christians. In the televised speech to Islamic scholars, President Sisi stated, “We talk a lot about the importance of religious discourse… In our schools, institutes and universities, do we teach and practice respect for the others? We neither teach or practice it.”

The Egyptian government has also addressed the ideology by banning thousands of radical clerics from preaching in the mosques that are not licensed.

Recently, the government of President al-Sisi introduced a textbook for Egyptian public schools that requires Egyptian pupils to memorize the provisions of the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty and delineate the “advantages of peace for Egypt and the Arab states”. This is a major reform taken from the Egyptian government in normalizing and strengthening relations between Israel and Egypt.

President Sisi should be considered a key ally of America as he is leading Egypt towards democracy and also is leading the fight against global jihad, both militarily and politically, in countering radical Islamic ideology. Instead, he has yet to be invited to the United States from President Obama.

Hillary Clinton has been critical of Trump’s position towards Russia, but policies implemented under the Obama Administration have pushed Egypt towards Russia and have alienated our strongest Arab ally for over 40 years. Egypt and Russia signed a $2billion arms deal after the United States abandoned them during their fight against terrorism. Russia also is providing Egypt with $25 billion to build Egypt’s first nuclear power plant.

Donald Trump in his speech recognized the need to support our Muslim allies in the global war on terrorism. This is critical in defeating global jihad. We cannot afford another four years of a policy of alienating our allies and emboldening our enemies as we have seen under the Obama Administration.

Tera Dahl is Executive Director of the Council on Global Security.

Israel Hatred at the Olympics

judo

Will the IOC take action?

Front Page Magazine, by Ari Lieberman, Aug. 15, 2016:

Egyptian judoka, Islam El Shahaby, disgraced himself and his country at the Rio games this past Friday. The disgrace was not the result of his failure to medal nor was it the result of his loss to Israeli judoka, Or Sasson. The disgrace was the result of extreme unsportsmanlike conduct exhibited by the Egyptian. Following his loss, El Shahaby walked away without bowing to his opponent – an act unheard of in the sport – and then refused to shake the Israeli’s outstretched hand.

The disgraceful conduct drew jeers from the crowd and the referee ordered El Shahaby to return to the mat area and bow. The Egyptian complied but rather than bowing, gave a pathetic nod with his head prompting additional booing from the audience. Or Sasson brushed off the insult and went on to claim the bronze for his nation.

Sasson said that he expected that the Egyptian would snub him but decided to extend his hand nonetheless to show his opponent “respect.” He added that bowing and showing respect for an opponent is something that he “was educated to do.”

El Shahaby’s ignominious conduct is not an anomaly but rather reflects the norm among athletes from Muslim nations. They routinely engage in conduct that brings disrepute to themselves and the nations they represent.

At the start of the Rio games, the Lebanese delegation refused to allow members of the Israeli team to board the same bus. The Israelis were then forced to find alternate transportation. Following that incident, a Saudi judoka faked an injury in a deliberate effort to avoid a match against her Israeli counterpart. In June 2016, a Syrian boxer forfeited a match against an Israeli during the world boxing championship in Azerbaijan thus forfeiting any chance of qualifying for the Rio games.

In June 2013, in one of the most bizarre incidents of unsportsmanlike conduct, an Egyptian wrestler exhibited traits associated with a rabid dog by biting her Israeli opponent in the back and drawing blood. The Egyptian was suspended while the Israeli, Ilana Kartysh, captured the gold.

The incident involving El Shahaby at Rio was identical to an incident involving another Egyptian judoka during a 2011 tournament. Ramadan Darwish refused to shake hands with Arik Ze’evi, his Israeli opponent, after the Israeli trounced Darwish. Like El Shahaby, he also refused to bow. Darwish’s crass behavior prompted the referee to recall him to the floor and only after repeated requests did Darwish return, only to direct his bow toward the referee and not toward his opponent thus compounding the indignity. The disgraceful spectacle can beviewed in this clip.

In a 2010 weightlifting tournament, the Iranian runner-up refused to shake the hand of the Israeli winner, Sergio Britva. The Iranian was then forced to endure listening to the Israeli national anthem while the Israeli flag was raised but quickly bolted from the podium immediately following the conclusion of the anthem.

As long as the International Olympics Committee (IOC) and other governing sports bodies remain passive in the face of these repeated egregious transgressions and fail to ban the offending nations from all international sporting events, these outrages will continue. Only drastic action in the form of expulsion will serve to modify the offending behavior.

But the phenomena of misbehavior and unsportsmanlike conduct by the athletes of Muslim nations represents a far greater problem that transcends sports. Xenophobia and anti-Semitism have become part and parcel of much of the Muslim world. In that medieval world, hatred of Jews and Israel permeates every field including politics, education, religion, art, culture and sport. Hate is taught to children from birth and passed along from generation to generation. It is amplified by official government institutions through the various education and religious ministries and trickles its way to every facet of Muslim life.

The damage caused by years of relentless brainwashing and institutional racism will take decades, if not generations to reverse and, with few exceptions, it does not look like any Arab or Muslim nation is making any meaningful effort to address this deleterious trend. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Most Egyptians approved of El Shahaby’s disgraceful conduct, and his critics within Egypt limited their criticism to the fact that he didn’t forfeit the game.

Unless the IOC and other governing international sports bodies take decisive action against the offenders, Israeli sports figures will unfortunately have to endure this boorish behavior for the foreseeable future. Israel however, can take solace in the fact that it sent its largest ever Olympic delegation to Rio and its athletes continue to score success on the international stage.

Revisiting the Muslim Brotherhood’s August 2013 ‘Reign of Terror’ Targeting Egypt’s Christians

St Mousa the Black Coptic Church, Minya, Upper Egypt (Photo credit: Patrick Poole)

St Mousa the Black Coptic Church, Minya, Upper Egypt (Photo credit: Patrick Poole)

PJ MEDIA, BY PATRICK POOLE, AUGUST 14, 2016:

Three years ago today a systematic campaign targeting Egypt’s Christian community by Muslim Brotherhood supporters began, causing the destruction of dozens of churches, monasteries, Christian businesses and homes across Egypt – attacks unprecedented for several centuries.

Even today many of these churches and monasteries that were looted and torched during August 2013 remain in disrepair as attacks on Christians continue in certain areas of Egypt.

Several months after the Muslim Brotherhood carved this path of destruction through the Egyptian Christian community, I had the opportunity to visit some of these sites and meet with Coptic church leaders to discuss the Muslim Brotherhood’s role in these attacks.

The Coptic Christian community in Egypt is significant not only because it is one of the oldest and largest Christian communities in the Middle East, but the Coptic Christians make up more than half of the Christians still remaining in the Middle East.

Escorted by Father Anthony Hanna of St. Mary and St. Mina’s Coptic Church in Concord, California, in April 2014 we traveled deep into Upper Egypt, where many of the attacks by the Muslim Brotherhood occurred.

Muslim-Brotherhood-church-attacks-August-2013

One of the first indications of how tense the situation remained even months after the attacks were the levels of security we had to pass through to attend the Easter service at St. Mark’s Coptic Cathedral.

Our driver was not even allowed close to the cathedral entrance, so we were dropped off about a quarter mile away. As we passed through the gates, we were checked for our passports and the passes to attend the service. This would be the first of seven ID checks we had to go through to enter the cathedral on the holiest holiday for Christians around the world.

There was good reason for concern for security. A year earlier, the cathedral hadbeen attacked during a funeral by Muslim mobs without any intervention by police under the government of then-President Mohamed Morsi, a top Muslim Brotherhood leader.

Several days later we had lunch with Father Hanna, where he introduced us to a young Coptic man, “George,” who had been been kidnapped for eight days in January 2013. The son of a prominent Coptic businessman, he was held until his family paid a $100,000 ransom.

“George” described his captivity at the hands of his Islamist captors. Initially he was beaten, and subjected to anti-Christian taunts throughout his captivity. When his captors had obtained the ransom, but before he was released, “George” was blindfolded and a gun held to his head, where he was told that if he didn’t renounce his Christian faith and accept Islam, he would be killed. Unable to get him to renounce his faith and with their ransom secured, “George” was released.

Sadly, the kidnapping of Christians in Egypt is still a regular occurrence.

Later that evening, Father Hanna, My Unconstrained Analytics colleague Stephen Coughlin, and myself received a personal audience with Pope Tawadros II at his office and residence in the St. Mark’s Cathedral compound. Again, we had to pass through layers of security, including armored vehicles stationed at the cathedral gates.

Steve Coughlin, Fr. Anthony Hanna meeting with Pope Tawadros II (Photo credit: Patrick Poole)

Steve Coughlin, Fr. Anthony Hanna meeting with Pope Tawadros II (Photo credit: Patrick Poole)

Armored vehicle protecting St. Mark's Coptic Cathedral in Abbassia, Cairo, Egypt (Photo credit: Patrick Poole)

Armored vehicle protecting St. Mark’s Coptic Cathedral in Abbassia, Cairo, Egypt (Photo credit: Patrick Poole)

During our audience, Pope Tawadros detailed the ongoing fallout of the Muslim Brotherhood attacks in August 2013 and his reasons for backing Morsi’s ouster following the massive June 30 protests.

Two of the things he specifically cited were the April 2013 attacks on the cathedral, which he noted was without precedent in Coptic history and which a Morsi aide had blamed Christians for, and the torture of Christian protesters in March 2013 by Muslim Brotherhood cadres at a mosque following protests against the Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohamed Morsi.

Pope Tawadros had been praised for speaking out during the Muslim Brotherhood’s August 2013 ‘Reign of Terror’ for discouraging attempts to save the churches and the monasteries. “We could replace the buildings, we couldn’t replace the people,” he told us.

Several days later Father Hanna and I set out for Upper Egypt with arrangements made by Pope Tawadros’ staff. Here is a video of Father Hanna discussing our trip into Upper Egypt with CBN News.

Murder in Minya

Our first stop in Upper Egypt was in Minya, one of the largest cities in Upper Egypt about 140 miles south of Cairo. A majority of Egypt’s Christian community lives in Upper Egypt, and considerable destruction occurred in the Minya region.

We initially met with Bishop Makarios, who had survived an assassination attemptjust months before. Bishop Makarios noted was that Christian homes and businesses in Minya had been marked with an “X” by Muslim Brotherhood supporters in the days prior to the attacks, much as ISIS did with Christian homes in Mosul, Iraq two years later.

During their ‘Reign of Terror’ the Muslim Brotherhood had openly encouraged the attacks, such as this justification for retaliation posted on the Facebook page of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party in Helwan…

******

…In July 2014, Father Hanna and I met with a number of congressional leaders in Washington D.C. describing what we found on our trip and the necessity to changing the U.S. government’s current openness to the Muslim Brotherhood that had waged the August 2013 terror campaign.

Steve Coughlin and I met again with Pope Tawadros last September when we escorted a congressional delegation to Egypt. He told us of the efforts by the Egyptian government to help rebuild the churches – a promise by President Sisi that is being fulfilled.

But issues clearly remain. As previously noted, attacks on the Christian community in Egypt are increasing as the government continues to deal with a widespread terror campaign, while the Parliament takes up several draft laws to end discrimination against Christians in building churches and removing religion from national identification cards.

And as I’ve reported here at PJ Media the Muslim Brotherhood has escalated their terror tactics in Egypt, most recently with a Muslim Brotherhood IED terror cell in Alexandria that had targeted military and police officials.

Three years on from the Muslim Brotherhood’s ‘Reign of Terror’ it seems time for Egypt to ensure that all Egyptians enjoy equal protection under the law free from discrimination. And it is overdue for the U.S. government to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as the terrorist group it is and always has been, as witnessed by the events of August 2013.

Read it all (many photos and video)

Also see:

Where Did They Go Wrong?

CC9FA462-FE00-420E-8B18-0E83E9AC7E92_mw505_mh331_sThe Cipher Brief, by Eric Trager Aug. 12, 2016:

August 14 2013 was the most violent day in contemporary Egyptian history.  Security forces brutally dispersed demonstrations in northern Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya Square and Giza’s al-Nahda Square, killing hundreds of Islamists who were protesting the ouster of Egypt’s first elected president, Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, six weeks earlier. Human Rights Watch later put the death toll at more than 800 civilians.  Meanwhile, the incident became a rallying cry for the Brotherhood and its allies, who vowed to avenge the crackdown and reinstate Morsi.

Yet the Rabaa massacre, as it became known, was also significant for another reason: it reflected the total failure of the Brotherhood’s post-Morsi strategy, and its defeat in the power struggle with the military-backed government that assumed control following Morsi’s ouster.  Three years later, the Brotherhood still has not recovered: many thousands of its leaders are in prison or exile, at least hundreds more have been killed, and the organization is no longer a significant player on the ground.

It is worth recalling that Morsi’s overthrow caught the Brotherhood by surprise. When millions of Egyptians took to the streets on June 30, 2013 to protest the Brotherhood leader’s autocratic and failed presidency, Brotherhood leaders told their members that the military stood firmly with Morsi. And they continued to exude this confidence even after the militarywarned Morsi on July 1 that it would intervene with its own “road map” if he failed to respond to the protesters’ demands within 48 hours.

So when Defense Minister Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, flanked by a broad spectrum of Egyptian figures, declared Morsi’s ouster on the evening of July 3, the Brotherhood responded in haste. It ordered cadres from across the country to gather in Rabaa al-Adawiya and al-Nahda Squares, where the Brotherhood had been demonstrating in support of Morsi for nearly a week. These squares became no-go zones for the Egyptian police after Morsi’s overthrow, and served as sanctuaries where wanted Brotherhood leaders avoided arrest, held meetings, and addressed the international media.

Despite the military’s significant advantages in arms and capacity, the Brotherhood sincerely expected to win the ensuing power struggle. It believed that only a small number of generals had supported Morsi’s toppling, and that its protests would foment a split within the military and thus restore Morsi to power. The Brotherhood further believed that it could withstand any attempt to disperse the protests, given that its members were willing to die for the organization’s cause. “If they want to disperse the sit-in, they’ll have to kill 100,000 protesters,” Brotherhood spokesman Gehad el-Haddad toldjournalist Maged Atef. “And they can’t do it [because] we’re willing to offer 100,000 martyrs.” At the same time, the Brotherhood called for pro-Morsi protests across the country.  Demonstrators blocked roads and clashed with security forces. All of these activities were intended to send a very clear message to the new regime: Egypt would not know stability until the coup was reversed.

The regime got the message, and it was similarly determined to win the power struggle. “We were sure of one thing: that no country can go on if a sector of its population just does not recognize [and] defies the authority,” Hazem el-Beblawi, who served as Egypt’s prime minister during this period, told me during an October 2014 interview. “This is unacceptable.”

The government also made it quite clear that it was willing to use significant force against the Brotherhood’s protests.  Fifty-one Morsi supporters were killed on July 8 outside the Republican Guard Headquarters, where Morsi was being held.  Then, on July 24, Defense Minister Sisi called for mass demonstrations to “authorize” the military to fight terrorism, by which he meant the Brotherhood, and many thousands of Egyptians responded by pouring into the streets two days later. Still, since the first month after Morsi’s ouster coincided with the holy month of Ramadan, the government delayed its plans to disperse the Brotherhood’s protests, and allowed Western diplomats to explore possibilities for a negotiated resolution. “We were aware that such a thing cannot be solved without some casualties, but we wanted as much as we [could] to delay it, but not to the extent that the perception of respect [for] the government should deteriorate,” Beblawi said.

When negotiations failed, however, Egypt’s cabinet met on July 31 and authorized the Minister of the Interior to “take all necessary measures to disperse protests or sit-ins.” To minimize bloodshed, some ministers suggested that security forces should encircle the protest sites and permit protesters to leave, but not allow new protesters or goods to enter. This type of siege strategy would have ended the protests more gradually, but would have also entailed far fewer casualties. According to Beblawi, however, the Interior Minister rejected this idea, arguing that a siege strategy would allow the Brotherhood to decide when to initiate hostilities with security forces, which would have put the police at a disadvantage. This, of course, isn’t how police typically deal with protests – it’s the way generals strategize during war. And that’s exactly how the new government viewed this particular moment in time. So the cabinet ultimately deferred to the Interior Minister, empowering the police to disperse the protests whenever they were prepared.

The Rabaa massacre dealt a very severe blow to the Brotherhood.  Beyond the high death toll, Brotherhood leaders and cadres lost their physical sanctuaries, and during the next few months many thousands of them landed in either prison or exile.  By the end of 2013, the Brotherhood’s notoriously hierarchical organization had been thoroughly decapitated, rendering it incapable of executing any sort of nationwide strategy within Egypt. While the Brotherhood continues to promote its ideas and political narrative from its de facto base in Istanbul, it no longer represents a significant threat to the current government and is barely visible within Egypt today.

I asked Beblawi whether he had any regrets about Rabaa. After all, when security forces killed 28 Christian demonstrators in downtown Cairo in October 2011, Beblawi resigned from his post as Finance Minister in protest. But when it came to Rabaa, Beblawi believed that Egypt’s future was at stake, and didn’t envision a better alternative. “It [was] very painful,” he said. “But you go to war, and many of your kids … lose their arms and even their lives, but you save the country. It was a terrible thing, very nasty, and the decision was not easy, but inevitable.”

For the Brotherhood, Rabaa remains an important symbol of its “steadfastness” in resisting Morsi’s overthrow, and those who were killed at Rabaa al-Adawiya and al-Nahda Squares are celebrated as holy martyrs on Brotherhood social media pages and elsewhere. Yet, in recent months, Muslim Brothers have started to reassess their leaders’ failed strategy during that period. In this vein, one Morsi supporter recently asked on Facebook why the Brotherhood simply remained in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square after the Egyptian military issued its 48-hour ultimatum to Morsi on July 1, 2013, rather than mobilizing to the Republican Guard headquarters where Morsi was staying to prevent the military from arresting him.

Of course, these types of questions became even more pertinent after last month’s failed coup in Turkey, as Islamists studied how Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan managed to avoid Morsi’s fate. For example, Amr Farrag, who founded the Brotherhood-affiliated news site Rassd, recalled how on the day after Morsi’s ouster, Muslim Brothers were instructed to deal respectfully with soldiers who were entering and exiting a Ministry of Defense building right next to Rabaa al-Adawiya Square. “Our dear brothers were saying, we are peaceful,” Farrag posted on Facebook. “Our peacefulness is stronger than bullets. Fine, so we got smacked on our necks.”

These reassessments reflect the most significant change within the Brotherhood in the three years since the Rabaa massacre: the organization is increasingly fractured. Brotherhood leaders are either in prison, in hiding, or scattered among various countries in exile, and this has catalyzed an internal power struggle that hasn’t been resolved yet. In this sense, there are still many Muslim Brothers but no Brotherhood, at least for the time being.

Also see:

Clueless in the Vatican: Has Pope Francis Joined the Naivete Scene?

Pope Francis looks at Imam Khalid Latif, right, and Rabbi Elliot J. Cosgrove, left, shaking hands as he arrives for an interfaith service at the Sept. 11 memorial museum in New York, Friday Sept. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Pope Francis looks at Imam Khalid Latif, right, and Rabbi Elliot J. Cosgrove, left, shaking hands as he arrives for an interfaith service at the Sept. 11 memorial museum in New York, Friday Sept. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

The Blaze, by Lieutenant Colonel James Zumwalt, Aug. 5, 2016:

Onboard his plane to attend World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, Pope Francis spoke to reporters. Queried about terrorism committed by radical Islamists, he suggested, while what is being fought is a war, it is “not a religious war.”

He then added:

“It’s a war of interests, a war for money. A war for natural resources and for the dominion of the peoples. Some might say it’s a religious war. Every religion wants peace. The war is wanted by the others. Understood? Let’s not be afraid to say the truth. The world is at war, because it’s lost its peace!”

The real truth is the world has lost its peace because Islam mandates perpetual war until its global caliphate is established.

It appears, just like President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel who claim Islam can do no wrong, the Pope has joined the naiveté scene.

With so much ongoing violence in the world linked to Islam, we simply cannot continue to accept the naiveté of leaders refusing to admit it.

Christians in the Muslim world are being forced to leave their religion to escape persecution, or to pay a tax, or to be put to death—all as a matter of Islamic doctrine—and Pope Francis refuses to see it.

Is love for his fellow man blinding the pontiff to the reality of Islam or does the reality of Islam intimidate him from speaking truth?

If the former, the Pope need understand the teachings at Cairo, Egypt’s Al-Azhar University. Considered the chief center of Islamic and Arabic learning globally, it was Obama’s co-host choice for his infamous 2009 “New Beginning” speech to the Muslim world. It embraces an ideology seeking to enslave or destroy Christianity.

Initially founded more than a millennium ago by a Shiite Islamic sect, Al-Azhar University fell into Sunni hands in the 12th century. Ever since then, it has set the tone for Islamic scholarship for 90 percent of the world’s Muslims.

While Islam’s teachings have undergone little substantive change in its history, Al-Azhar did experience a bit of a renaissance in the 1960s. It opened its doors to the modern disciplines of medicine and engineering and even admitted women.

But as late as 1991, Al-Azhar embraced the Conditions of Omar—a pact drawn up by Prophet Muhammad’s successor, Caliph Omar, addressing how Muslims were to deal with Christians. Three primary conditions were offered to Christians: convert to Islam, remain Christian but pay tribute (known as “jizya”), or death.

The Conditions relied on the Koran’s Verse 9:29 which states:

“Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture — [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.”

The 1991 republication of the 14th century book “The Reliance of the Traveller”—an authoritative summation of Islamic jurisprudence (sharia)—includes a reaffirmation of the Conditions of Omar by Al-Azhar University. University officials made no attempt to suggest the conditions were inappropriate in a 20th century world. Despite this, during Obama’s 2009 speech in Cairo, he credited Al-Azhar for carrying “the light of learning through so many centuries…”

Three years later, “tolerant” Al-Azhar University outlawed judaism in Egypt.

Should we believe, then, that Pope Francis is oblivious to all this? Or is there another reason for him putting a tolerant face on an intolerant religion?

Al-Azhar’s grand imam had visited the Vatican in May 2016. The meeting by the two religious leaders sought“ reopening an important channel for Catholic-Muslim dialogue after a five-year lull.”

The referenced lull occurred after then-Pope Benedict XVI dared call for greater protection for Coptic Christians in Egypt following a December 31, 2010 church bombing that killed 23.

With attacks having also taken place on Christians in Iraq as well, Pope Benedict said the Cairo bombing was “yet another sign of the urgent need for the governments of the region to adopt…effective measures for the protection of religious minorities.”

However, to the Muslim Brotherhood hardliners about to oust Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Pope Benedict’s call for greater Christian protection represented “an unacceptable interference in its internal affairs,” prompting the government’s recall of its ambassador to the Vatican.

In 2006, Muslim leaders accused Pope Benedict of committing another egregious act. Neither condemning nor endorsing Islam, Benedict had simply dared repeat 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II’s quote about the religion:

“Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

Repeating this historical observation led to threats against both the Vatican and Benedict by Islam’s “tolerant” followers, ultimately causing the Pope to issue an apology.

Undoubtedly, Pope Francis is aware of these Muslim sensitivities to any negative comments about their religion—truth be damned!

While this, arguably, might excuse Pope Francis’ reluctance to call the ongoing war an Islamic one, it does not excuse another comment he made.

Asked about the “barbarous assassination” of a French priest “killed in the name of Islam,” Francis proffered, “If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence.”

While fear of Muslim reprisals might cause Pope Francis not to speak badly of Islam, there is no excuse for equating Catholicism—a religion that left the Dark Ages centuries ago—with Islam—a religion still living in them.

Such indifference to Islam stunningly prompted an Iraqi columnist to suggest, “Israel is the last hope for Arab Christians.”

In discussing Islam, Pope Francis told reporters, “Let’s not be afraid to say the truth.” An appropriate response might be Jack Nicholson’s famous rant in the movie “A Few Good Men.” On the witness stand, pressed by a prosecutor for the truth, Nicholson shouted, “You can’t handle the truth.”

Apparently, neither can Pope Francis.

DNC Speech: Hillary Clinton Deletes Foreign Policy Disasters as Secretary of State

Getty Images

Getty Images

Breitbart, by Aaron Klein, July 29, 2016:

PHILADELPHIA – Notoriously missing from Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech here at the Democratic National Convention was a list of any significant accomplishments from her time as Secretary of State.

The words “secretary of state” only appeared twice in her speech.

One of those times she stated, “I have to tell you, as your Secretary of State, I went to 112 countries, and when people hear those words – they hear America.”

Here, she seems to be brandishing her foreign travel as a signature achievement while she was one of the nation’s highest serving diplomats.

The second and final direct mention of her former State position came when she exclaimed, “As you know, I’m not one of those people. I’ve been your First Lady. Served 8 years as a Senator from the great State of New York. Then I represented all of you as Secretary of State.”

When she did briefly mention her record, Clinton mostly spoke in generalities and she seemed to be combining her time as  a Senator and Secretary of State.

She stated:

Look at my record.  I’ve worked across the aisle to pass laws and treaties and to launch new programs that help millions of people.  And if you give me the chance, that’s what I’ll do as President.

I’m proud that we put a lid on Iran’s nuclear program without firing a single shot – now we have to enforce it, and keep supporting Israel’s security.

I’m proud that we shaped a global climate agreement – now we have to hold every country accountable to their commitments, including ourselves.

I’m proud to stand by our allies in NATO against any threat they face, including from Russia.

While she didn’t outline her role in the talks with Iran that led to the nuclear agreement with Tehran, Clinton did tangentially mention the Iran deal. “I’m proud that we put a lid on Iran’s nuclear program without firing a single shot – now we have to enforce it, and keep supporting Israel’s security.”

Absent from her DNC speech was Clinton’s central role in the U.S.-NATO intervention in Libya in 2011, a military campaign that directly resulted in the destabilization of that country and its subsequent descent into chaos. Islamic extremists have since taken over large swaths of Libya, and have used the country as a staging ground to attempt to infiltrate Europe.

Islamic terrorists infamously carried out deadly attacks on the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. Clinton did not bring up her State Department’s role in denying security requests to the woefully unsecure U.S. facility.

Clinton further failed to mention her strong support for the so-called Arab Spring, including the toppling of the regime of Hosni Mubarak, a staunch U.S. ally, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s resultant rise to power there until a military coup in 2013.

Clinton referenced the threat of the Islamic State without explaining that the global jihadist group has taken up sanctuary in countries that were destabilized during her tenure as Secretary of State.

She stated:

I’ve laid out my strategy for defeating ISIS. We will strike their sanctuaries from the air, and support local forces taking them out on the ground. We will surge our intelligence so that we detect and prevent attacks before they happen. We will disrupt their efforts online to reach and radicalize young people in our country. It won’t be easy or quick, but make no mistake – we will prevail.

Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.

ISIS Joins with ‘Moderate’ Hamas for Terror in Sinai

Screen-Shot-2014-03-25-at-1.14.12-PM.sized-770x415xcPJ Media, by Patrick Poole, June 19, 2016:

Earlier this month I reported here at PJ Media on growing incidents of terrorism by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. I noted the arrest of an IED terror cell composed of Muslim Brotherhood members in Alexandria who had been attacking government and military targets since January.

Now, Egypt is facing escalating threats in the Sinai from the Brotherhood’s affiliate in Gaza — Hamas. Multiple reports in recent weeks place Islamic State (ISIS) figures with Hamas officials in Gaza, and claim Hamas is training ISIS troops with heavy anti-tank weaponry.

The Washington, D.C. foreign policy “smart set” continues to describe Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood as “moderate” jihadists who serve as a firewall between “violent extremist” groups like ISIS.

News reports placed ISIS-Sinai leaders in Gaza meeting with Hamas officials on June 2nd:

The Times of Israel reports:

Top Islamic State commander in Sinai Shadi al-Menii met with Hamas officials in Gaza Thursday in order to discuss cooperation between the two terrorist groups, according to a Channel 2 report.Al-Menii, who belongs to one of the Bedouin tribes in the north of the Sinai Peninsula, fled to the Gaza Strip in May of 2015 after his organization attacked a military base and killed an Egyptian soldier,Haaretz reported. A bounty worth one million Egyptian pounds was placed on his head.

According to Channel 2, al-Menii’s branch of IS in Sinai were to help Hamas operatives smuggle arms into the strip via tunnels in return for sophisticated weapons.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that heavy weapons training and the free flow of weapons between the groups was documented back to 2015:

Egypt shared intelligence with Israel last year about cooperation between Sinai Province and members of Hamas’s armed wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, according to a Western official. Israel was surprised to learn of the ties given previous clashes in Gaza between Hamas and Islamic State sympathizers, the official said.Israeli officials said they learned in April of 2015 that Hamas was allowing Sinai Province fighters to be treated in Gaza’s Al Shifa hospital. The hospital declined to comment.

Later last year, Hamas operatives spent a month in the Sinai region teaching the militants how to fire antitank missiles, Israeli officials said. The officials declined to provide more details. Hamas subsequently received Russian-made antitank missiles via the smuggling network Sinai Province controls, an Israeli defense official said.

Some analysts were noting the cooperation between the two groups last year:

Israel military officials are taking the ISIS threat from Sinai seriously:

With the borders of Gaza locked down by both Israel and Hamas, the only way for ISIS fighters and officials to enter the area is through the Hamas-controlled smuggling tunnels:

Islamic State fighters have recently arrived in the Gaza Strip to train with their Hamas counterparts, a senior IDF official said in an Arabic interview published Friday.The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai told the Saudi news website Elaph that IS members entered the Gaza Strip from the Sinai Peninsula through smuggling tunnels maintained and controlled by Hamas.

The fighters entered the Hamas-controlled territory in coordination with Sa’id Abed al-A’al, a resident of the Gaza Strip city of Rafah connected to Hamas, he said.

Mordechai, the head of the Defense Ministry body responsible for the Israeli border crossings with the Gaza Strip and Civil Administration in the West Bank, said the military cooperation between the Islamic State and Hamas is unfolding with the full knowledge and consent of Hamas’s leaders.

Reports of Hamas fighters jointing up with ISIS have circulated all year.

Remarkably, a letter from one ISIS fighter in Sinai to ISIS caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi published on social media earlier this year — helpfully translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) — details the cooperation between the two groups:

“Allow me, Caliph of Muslims, to inform you of some aspects of the suspect ties between Sinai province and Hamas:”1. Sinai province is smuggling weapons for Hamas in Gaza, because of the province’s fighters’ expert knowledge of the [smuggling] routes from Libya, Sudan, and Egypt.

“2. Sinai province depends very much on Hamas and Al-Qassam for weapons and for explosives and ammunition. There are direct and continuous supply routes from Hamas to Sinai province. The Al-Qassam factories operate assembly lines for manufacturing explosive devices and bombs for the Sinai province, but do not stamp the Al-Qassam logo on them, as they usually do.

“3. Sinai province leaders are regularly visiting the Gaza Strip, and holding cordial meetings with Hamas and Al-Qassam leaders, even [Hamas] government [representatives]. Animals are slaughtered for them, feasts are held, and they are embraced in Gaza.

“4. Hamas and Al-Qassam are accepting all wounded Sinai province [fighters], and they are treated in Gaza Strip hospitals under Al-Qassam’s direct protection.

“5. Hamas is providing wireless communication hubs for Sinai province, because of the difficulty of operating them in Sinai and because they are vulnerable to swift destruction by the Egyptian army.

The ties between the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and militants in the Sinai now operating as the official ISIS affiliate go back to the beginnings of the Arab Spring.

Sheikh Nabil Naeem — one of the founders of Egyptian Islamic Jihad who I interviewed exclusively at his office in Cairo for PJ Media — reported that jihadists in Sinai were funded by a deal with Khairat al-Shater (deputy supreme guide for the Muslim Brotherhood), Hamas, and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, the previous incarnation of the ISIS Sinai affiliate.

Immediately prior to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi’s election as president, reports surfaced that Hamas ordered rocket attacks from Sinai by militants there targeting Israel at the request of the Muslim Brotherhood to bolster his election prospects.

Once elected, attacks in Sinai under the one-year Morsi administration subsided somewhat, particularly the targeting of the gas pipeline from Sinai to Israel and Jordan that came to a halt:

While the low level attacks continued in Sinai under Morsi, they spiked drastically after he was ousted from the presidency in July 2013, following mass protests demanding his resignation on the anniversary of his first year in power.The gas pipeline from Egypt to Israel and Jordan, has been attacked often since 2011. There were more than 17 attacks on the pipeline between February 2011 and June 2012 and between July 2013 and February 2014. Morsi’s time in office was the only period in which the gas pipe attacks halted.

As soon as Morsi was deposed by the military after massive protests against his administration, Egyptian authorities were killing and arresting large numbers of Hamas fighters operating in Sinai.

The mounting evidence about the direct cooperation between ISIS in Sinai and Hamas comes as Republican congressional leaders continue to obstruct companion bills — S. 2230 and H.R. 3892 — calling for the State Department to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, as many U.S. allies in the region, most notably Israel last November, already have.

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Supporting Deep Democracy

1896925188An otherwise worthy criticism of Obama’s Muslim-World foreign policy misses a crucial point.

BY CounterJihad · @CounterjihadUS | April 20, 2016

Alex Rowell, a British-born journalist with substantial experience in the Middle East, has penned what is overall an excellent criticism of US President Barack Obama’s foreign policy in the Muslim world.  His basic thesis, which is correct, is that Obama’s tenure has empowered autocrats instead of democrats across the Middle East.  In violation of what he claimed were his basic principles, Obama has stood by while more than a million have been killed in Syria.  He stood by while Iran’s hardliners suppressed their democratic opponents, within two weeks of Obama’s famous Cairo address promising support to democrats in the Muslim world.  His Iraq policy and his State Department actively empowered then Prime Minister Maliki to act as a “Shi’a strongman,” which they decided Iraq needed.  This, along with his inaction in Syria, enabled the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) and the loss of the hard-fought peace in Iraq he inherited from the American military’s sacrifices in the Surge.

Where Rowell goes wrong is in assuming that failing to support a democratically-popular policy or leader of the moment is the same as failing to support democracy.  To be durable, a democracy has to balance a permanent constitutional system against the passing desires of the majority.  Such a constitutional system can be called “deep democracy.”  The danger facing it in the Islamic world is often the danger expressed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who compared democracy to a train.  You get off, he said, once you have reached your destination.

Erdogan may at the moment be able to withstand a democratic election, but supporting him is not being a friend to democracy.  His government has suppressed academics and free inquiry, committed war crimes against his own population, and is devoutly Islamist.  That he won an election does not make him a democrat.  To support democracy in Turkey, one has to support the deep democracy:  the defense of basic rights and values that make a lasting democracy possible.

By the same token, Rowell criticizes the Obama administration for failing to continue to back the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt once it had suspended the Egyptian constitution.  In fact, the error was ever to support a movement that is founded on the principle of overthrowing democratic states and instituting a form of government that bans democratically-enacted laws as blasphemous.  A deep devotion to democracy is incompatible with such a view.  That they might win an election does not make them democrats.

There is much to criticize in the Obama administration’s approach to foreign policy in the Muslim world.  Much of what Rowell says is fair and accurate, and his piece is well worth reading.  However, readers should take this caveat:  to defend democracy, more is necessary than to defend whoever happened to win the last election.  Democracy is only sustainable within a constitutional system that protects the beliefs and basic rights that make democracy possible.  The enemies of such systems are the permanent enemies of democracy, even if they win today at the ballot box.

Will Egyptian schools strip religion from curriculum?

Students pray at Nile Garden School before the upcoming Eid al-Adha festival in Cairo, Nov. 11, 2010. (photo by REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

Students pray at Nile Garden School before the upcoming Eid al-Adha festival in Cairo, Nov. 11, 2010. (photo by REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

Al-Monitor, by 

A call made by Nadia Henry, deputy head of the Free Egyptians Party’s parliamentary bloc, to replace the religion course — which is mandatory for students in public schools — with an alternate course on “values” has raised considerable debate within the parliament, accompanied by an attack launched by the Salafist Nour Party and Al-Azhar.

Egyptian schools teach religion from elementary school through high school, and Christian students are separated from their fellow Muslims during religion courses. However, despite the importance of this course in Egyptian education, the students’ grades in religion are not included in their final grades because religion exams taken by Christians differ from those taken by Muslims, and this way everyone can be graded equally. Meanwhile, the Orthodox Church and Al-Azhar contribute to developing the curricula for the religion courses for both Christian and Muslim students.

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Henry emphasized that she did not call for eliminating the religion course, but rather wanted to replace it with a course on values that would combine verses from both the Quran and the Bible that underline values and ideals. “The values course should be taught by educators who have knowledge in the science of counseling and psychology, in order to plant the idea of citizenship in students’ hearts and teach them how to love one another,” she said.

Henry refused the idea of teaching the values course along with religion, stressing that the religion course and its results over the past years must be evaluated.

Henry pointed out that the religion course did not produce clear results in changing the concepts of ethics and values in society. She also criticized the way religion is taught in schools by separating young Muslim students from Christians, which increases sectarianism. “The values course would teach students the principles of citizenship, without discrimination and without separating between minority and majority. All institutions must work hand-in-hand; the religious institution establishes doctrine, and the educational institution applies it through educational and behavioral rules.”

She called on all those opposing her proposal to join her at the dialogue table to develop the proposal, stressing that she does not aim at eliminating religion from schools but to establish a more advanced way to teach it.

Henry responded to attacks on her proposal by saying that changes to long-standing methods are always accompanied by societal shock, but it is necessary to reconsider the method of teaching religion in schools. According to her, the results of the religion course are negative because students are separated based on their religion and have teachers who are not specialized in teaching religion. She also argued that it would not lead to a decline in religion, claiming, “The values course would hamper any inclinations toward atheism among students, because they would [be taught] to understand and tolerate one another.”

“I will continue to defend the proposal after the Free Egyptians Party’s educational committee finishes preparing it in order to submit it to the parliament,” she asserted.

The veteran member of parliament revealed that she is preparing to hold a workshop for educators, clerics, experts in humanities, as well as media and cultural figures in order to establish regulations and standards for a new educational course under the name of “values.” Henry noted that she will not be affected by the attacks against her. She welcomes all opinions, and she will continue to implement her proposal. Henry expressed her hope that some religious leaders would be welcoming, noting, “The new religious leadership within the Evangelical Church shows how committed it is to teaching religion to the new generation.”

Henry explained that the values course would “emphasize the concepts ofmoderate Islam for Muslim and Christian students alike. Christian students will learn Quranic verses about tolerance and love, while Muslim students will learn Bible verses about being loving and giving. Thus, citizenship is truly achieved without any [sectarian] slogans.”

Al-Azhar’s committee of senior scholars issued a statement March 10 describing calls to remove religion from state curricula as “harmful to Al-Azhar’s status and the Islamic identity of our country.”

Al-Azhar’s statement was welcomed by Salafist Nour Party’s members of parliament, with parliamentarian Ahmed Sharif applauding Al-Azhar’s stance and stressing that the proposal to remove the religion course was not appropriate.

Meanwhile, Abdel Moneim El-Shahat, a spokesman for the Salafist Call — the Nour Party’s political wing — warned about responding to those calling for eliminating religious education from schools. In press statements published March 15 he said, “All societal classes are in desperate need of an increase in religion in schools, universities and the media.”

For his part, Mohamed El Shahat al-Gundi, a member of the Islamic Research Academy, told Egyptian daily Al-Youm Al-Sabeh in early March that replacing religion for values in school curricula would open the gate to the breakdown of key provisions in the Muslim and Christian religions, and that it was an attempt to resemble the West, which is not the right thing to do.

Henry’s proposal was met with various reactions within parliament. For one, member of parliament Amina Naseer supported the proposal, saying, “Islam and Christianity emphasize the need for ethics and an upright behavior in dealing with others. The values material should include the values contained in Christian and Muslim texts agreed upon by everyone.”

However, independent member of parliament Mohammed Ismail announced that he would make an urgent statement to the Minister of Education to demand including the grades students get in religious course in their final grades, in response to calls to replace the religion course with values. Ismail expressed the need to do away with the current pass/fail grading system for religion, which in his view would eliminate religious illiteracy and prevent the infiltration of extremist ideas into society.

Israel says it gave written consent to Saudi island transfer

island transferDefense minister reveals coordination between Jerusalem, Cairo and Riyadh, hints at burgeoning strategic interaction

 April 12, 2016,

Israel gave written approval to the Egyptian transfer of the Red Sea islands of Sanafir and Tiran to Saudi Arabia, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon revealed Tuesday.

His acknowledgement, given in a briefing with reporters Tuesday, hints at growing, though quiet, Israeli-Saudi cooperation in recent years.

According to Ya’alon, Israel was told in writing about the island transfer between Cairo and Riyadh, which came as part of a series of cooperation agreements signed last week between Saudi King Salman and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo. The Cairo-Riyadh agreements cement the alliance of the two Sunni Arab states in a region undergoing chaotic change and facing the growing sway of Shiite Iran to the east.

“An appeal was made to us – and it needed our agreement, the Americans who were involved in the peace agreement and of the MFO,” Yaalon said, referring to the Multinational Force and Observers peacekeeping forces at the Israeli-Egyptian border. “We reached an agreement between the four parties – the Saudis, the Egyptians, Israel and the United States – to transfer the responsibility for the islands, on condition that the Saudis fill in the Egyptians’ shoes in the military appendix of the (Egypt-Israel) peace agreement.”

The raft of agreements also includes some $16 billion in Saudi investments in the ailing Egyptian economy.

The two Red Sea islands figure prominently in the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement signed in 1979, which promises safe passage to Israeli civilian and military ships through the narrow waterways of the Straits of Tiran. The Egyptian blockade of the waterway to Israeli shipping in 1967 was a key casus belli for Israel that led to the onset of the Six Day War.

Under the Egyptian-Saudi agreement, the islands are to be transferred to Saudi control in 25 years, giving Riyadh a direct hand in ensuring the fulfillment of the peace treaty with Israel.

Saudi officials in recent days said they were committed to “all Egyptian commitments” related to the islands. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said in an interview that his country would honor the Israel-Egypt peace treaty’s terms as regards the islands. Saudi Arabia won’t negotiate with Israel about the islands, he said, since “the commitments that Egypt approved [in the peace treaty] we are also committed to, including the stationing of an international force on the islands. We looked into the matter and we know our legal position. We are committed to what Egypt committed to before the international community.”

But according to Ya’alon, the coordination with Israel went further. Saudi Arabia agreed to ensure free shipping for all parties through the straits. Israel was notified in writing about the new arrangement weeks before it was made public, and gave its approval in writing to Egypt and, indirectly, to Saudi Arabia.

Israel also agreed to the construction of a bridge between the islands and the Egyptian and Saudi mainlands.

Israel’s agreement to the transfer necessitated a reopening of the military appendix to the peace treaty, Ya’alon said. The discussions between all three parties were facilitated by the US, the defense minister noted, according to the Ynet news site.

The Straits of Tiran are Israel’s only water passage from Eilat to the open sea, allowing for shipping to and from Africa and Asia without requiring passage through the Suez Canal, as well as passage to and from the Suez Canal. Israel Navy ships use the waterway to reach open seas, where they carry out naval exercises that are not possible in the narrow confines of the Gulf of Aqaba.

map Tiran island

In the briefing Tuesday, Ya’alon also addressed the security situation in Gaza.

Hamas, the terror group that rules the coastal territory, is “deterred” by Israel, “and therefore doesn’t act against us. But it is building its strength,” he said.

Ya’alon said there was “no siege on Gaza, but there is a security closure in which we forbid the import of dual-use materials that could be used to create rockets. Gaza merchants important goods from abroad through the ports of Ashdod [in Israel], Port Said and Alexandria [in Egypt].”

While Hamas was choosing not to attack Israel, the group “is growing stronger,” the defense minister said. “Its main challenge is to smuggle weaponry, since the smuggling route through Sudan no longer exists, but the route from Libya to Sinai is still open. Hamas is also growing stronger when it comes to development and construction of unmanned aircraft, with funding and expertise from Iran, and in the improvement of its naval forces that can penetrate [into Israel] from the beach.”

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