Posts Tagged ‘Morsi’

Outrage in Egypt over justice minister’s prophet remark

March 13, 2016

AFP

© Egyptian Presidency/AFP/File | Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (right) shakes hands with justice minister Ahmed al-Zind in Cairo on May 20, 201

CAIRO (AFP) – Egypt’s justice minister faced outrage on social media Sunday after a television interview in which he said he would arrest even “a prophet,” although he later admitted it was a “slip of tongue”.

When asked in an interview on private satellite channel Sada Al-Balad on Friday about a case involving journalists accused of defaming him and whether he would jail them, Ahmed al-Zind said he would imprison anyone.

“Even if it’s a prophet, God’s peace and blessings be upon him,” Zind said, using the Islamic saying of reverence spoken by Muslims only when referring to the Prophet Mohammed.

Upon realising what he had said, Zind immediately stopped and said: “I ask for forgiveness from God.”

He further said any “wrongdoer, whatever his identity — even judges” would be jailed if found guilty.

Zind’s remarks triggered outrage on social media networks immediately after the interview, with angry tweets continuing to pour in on Sunday.

Cairo-based Al-Azhar, a prestigious learning centre of Sunni Islam, even issued a warning.

Angry Egyptians launched the Twitter hashtag “trial for Zind” as they lashed out at the minister, who only in January had angered human rights groups after he called for the “mass killing” of outlawed Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

“At least he should be sacked and then put on trial. This issue is not a joke,” said one tweet on Sunday.

“God will take revenge,” said another.

Zind clarified in a separate telephone interview with private network CBC television on Saturday that his remark was a mere “slip of tongue”.

They were “meant in a hypothetical sense… but the Muslim Brotherhood supporters seized on them”.

Al-Azhar warned against insulting the Prophet Mohammed.

“All those involved in public discourse and in the media must respect the name of the Prophet,” it said in a statement without naming Zind.

“He should not be subjected to any insult even if it’s unintentional.”

In January, Zind said in an interview with the same Sada al-Balad channel that he “would not be satisfied until 10,000 Brotherhood members were killed for every martyr” from the armed forces and the police.

Human Rights Watch said his remarks encouraged the “slaughter” of political opponents.

Egyptian authorities have cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood movement after the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Hundreds of Brotherhood supporters have been killed and thousands more jailed in the crackdown, while several of its leaders including Morsi have been sentenced to death or lengthy jail terms.

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi Faces Harsher and Harsher Criticism

February 21, 2016

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Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi

The Associated Press

February 21, 2016, 5:45 A.M. E.S.T.

CAIRO — A prominent columnist on Sunday delivered the harshest attack to date against Egypt’s president in the local media, saying that, in terms of freedoms, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s rule is not different from the Islamist regime he removed in 2013.

In a front-page column in the al-Maqal daily, Ibrahim Eissa expressed outrage over a two-year prison sentence passed Saturday against author Ahmed Naji for publishing a sexually explicit excerpt of his novel that prosecutors said violated “public modesty.”

The sentence against Naji, passed by a Cairo appeals court, can be appealed.

“Say what you will, Mr. President and speak at your conferences … as you wish, but the reality of your state is different,” he wrote. “Your state violates the constitution, harasses thinkers and creators and jails writers and authors.

“Your state is a theocracy, Mr. President, while you are talking all the time of a modern, civilian state,” he wrote. “Your state and its agencies, just like those of your predecessor (Islamist Mohammed Morsi), hate intellectuals, thought and creativity and only like hypocrites, flatterers and composers of poems of support and flattery.”

Eissa, also a popular TV talk show host, strongly supported the July 3, 2013 ouster by the military of Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president. His removal, led by then Defense Minister el-Sissi, followed days of massive street protests against the divisive one-year rule of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group now labeled a terrorist organization.

But Eissa, like many of the secular and leftist pro-democracy activists behind the 2011 popular uprising that toppled longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak, has slowly moved away from el-Sissi’s camp and is now openly critical of his policies.

El-Sissi, elected to office a year after he ousted Morsi, has overseen the harshest crackdown witnessed in Egypt in decades, jailing thousands of Islamists and hundreds of secular activists. He has also tolerated what rights activists say is widespread abuses by police and introduced restrictions on freedoms and the erosion of public space. A newly elected parliament is packed by his supporters, rendering it as little more than a rubber stamp chamber.

The crackdown is playing out against a backdrop of a new constitution adopted in January 2014 and labeled as the country’s most liberal, a fight against an insurgency by Islamic militants and el-Sissi’s own, one-man drive to revive the country’s ailing economy.

Naji’s case follows a series of convictions against writers and reformist religious thinkers that have given rise to questions about el-Sissi’s declared commitment to the reformation and moderation of Islam’s discourse as a means of combating religious militancy.

El-Sissi has tirelessly boasted since 2013 that his ouster of Morsi saved Egypt from the Brotherhood’s tyrannical theocracy, but Eissa on Sunday wrote that Morsi’s record on freedoms of expression was better than el-Sissi’s.

“Where is this civilian state? Where do you see it?” he wrote, addressing el-Sissi. “This is a state that witnesses more legal prosecution of writers than what we have seen during the Brotherhood’s one-year rule.”

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Demonstrators protest against Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi near Downing Street whilst he met with Britain’s Prime Minister Cameron in London, Britain, November 5, 2015. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

Egypt’s Sisi tells interior minister to crack down on abuses by police

By Ali Abdelaty

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CAIRO (Reuters) – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told the interior minister on Friday to crack down on police abuse and to submit proposals to parliament to achieve this goal, the presidency said, as anger mounts over alleged police brutality.

Their meeting came a day after a police officer shot dead a man in the street, angering hundreds of people who protested in front of the Cairo security directorate.

The policeman had attacked a driver after an argument and was forced to flee a mob of local people who attempted to lynch him, said a statement from the directorate. The policeman was later arrested.

Last week, thousands of doctors held a rare protest against police they say beat two doctors at a Cairo hospital for refusing to falsify medical records.

Sisi told Interior Minister Magdi Abdel Ghaffar tackle abuses and propose any necessary amendments to laws within 15 days, the presidency said in a statement.

Anger over perceived police excesses helped fuel the 2011 uprising that ended President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule and began on a Police Day holiday.

Since then, police have regained their power and human rights groups allege they often act with impunity. The Interior Ministry denies the accusations and says it investigates any violations.

Earlier this month, the body of a missing Italian graduate student was found on the outskirts of Cairo showing signs of torture, including electrocution. Activists said the injuries had the hallmarks of Egyptian security services.

The Interior Ministry has denied allegations of involvement in the death, but the incident has put a fresh spotlight on Egypt’s human rights record.

Earlier on Friday, the state news agency quoted Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Abu Bakr Abdel Karim as saying policemen are not shielded from the law.

SISI’S POPULARITY DIMINISHES

As army chief, Sisi toppled Islamist Mohamed Mursi — Egypt’s first freely elected president — in 2013 after mass protests against his rule.

The toughest crackdown on dissent in Egypt’s modern history followed. Security forces killed hundreds of Mursi supporters at a protest camp in one day. Thousands of other Islamists were jailed. Later, liberal activists were rounded up.

Sisi was elected president, promising stability after years of political turmoil caused by the 2011 revolt. But he no longer enjoys his once cult-like following.

Egyptians are frustrated over issues that successive leaders have failed to tackle: the alleged police abuses, unemployment, dilapidated infrastructure and corruption.

In recent weeks, imported commodities like cooking oil have been scarce as a dollar shortage makes it harder for state importers to secure regular supplies.

Affordable food is an explosive issue in Egypt, where millions live a paycheck from hunger, and economic discontent helped unseat two presidents in five years.

(Writing by Michael Georgy; editing by Katharine Houreld)

Egypt’s first parliament since 2012 sworn in

January 10, 2016

AFP

Members of Egypt’s new parliament meet during their inaugural session in the capital Cairo on January 10, 2016. AFP

CAIRO (AFP) – Egypt’s new parliament convened on Sunday, in its first session in three years, after a legislative election dominated by pro-government candidates in the absence of any opposition.Analysts have said the new 596-member parliament is expected to strengthen the hand of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and rubber-stamp his government’s decisions.

It was elected last year in two phases with a low turnout of just 28.3 percent after authorities launched a deadly crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood movement of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Hundreds of supporters of the now blacklisted Brotherhood have been killed and thousands jailed, while hundreds more have been sentenced to death.

The group had dominated the previous parliamentary election held between late 2011 and early 2012. That assembly was dissolved months later by a court on technical grounds.

At Sunday’s inaugural session, the new parliamentarians took the oath one at a time, some of them holding Egypt’s flag.

Later they elected law professor Ali Abdel-Al as speaker.

Deputies going into the heavily secured parliament building in Cairo said the first task ahead was to deal with hundreds of bills that need to be ratified.

“The most important thing is to deal with more than 300 (draft) laws and we have to do that in the next 15 days,” said MP Saeed Hassasein.

“We have agreed among parliamentarians to work day and night until we ratify those laws,” he added.

The bills have accumulated since the last Brotherhood-dominated parliament was dissolved by the constitutional court in June 2012.

MP Osama Heikal also said that 15 days were needed to review the bills and ratify them.

Lawmakers were elected under a complex system of independent candidates and party lists.

All party list seats went to the For Love of Egypt coalition, an alliance of parties and groups that support Sisi, the army chief who deposed Morsi before winning a presidential election in May 2014.

The individual seats went to a mix of party-affiliated candidates and independents.

The new assembly also includes 28 members appointed by Sisi.

Gun and Bomb Attack Claimed by the Islamic State in Sinai — Death toll rises to seven

November 25, 2015

AFP

Emergency personnel and security forces are pictured outside the Swiss Inn hotel in the Egyptian town of El-Arish following an attack on November 24, 2015

CAIRO (AFP) – The death toll from a gun and bomb attack claimed by the Islamic State group in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula has risen to seven, the health ministry said on Wednesday.Two of the dead in Tuesday’s attack on the Swiss Inn hotel in the North Sinai provincial capital El-Arish were judges who had been overseeing voting in parliamentary elections earlier this week, ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed said.

Four of the dead were policemen. The seventh victim was a civilian.

A suicide bomber blew up a vehicle at the security barrier outside the hotel, allowing at least one other attacker to enter and go from room to room shooting before blowing himself up.

Jihadists in the Sinai who have pledged allegiance to IS have killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers.

They also claimed responsibility for bombing a Russian passenger plane after it left the south Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on October 31, killing all 224 people on board.

Unlike the north of the peninsula, which has become a jihadist stronghold and is off-limits to tourists, south Sinai is dotted with heavily secured Red Sea resorts.

Egypt held a second phase of parliamentary elections on Sunday and Monday, its first legislative vote since the military overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Morsi’s ouster unleashed a deadly police crackdown on his followers, and fuelled the insurgency in the Sinai.

Under Siege: Egypt Media Says Sophisticated Weapons Used in Sinai Attack

July 2, 2015

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Egyptian army troops in Sheikh Zuweid, northern Sinai, Egypt (25 May 2015)

The Associated Press

CAIRO — A newspaper close to the Egyptian government says the Islamic State-linked militants who attacked troops in the Sinai Peninsula used sophisticated weaponry, including Russian-made Kornet anti-tank missiles.

In a graphic on its front page Thursday, el-Watan daily says the attackers also used mortars, anti-aircraft guns and other guided missiles.

The attack, which included a wave of suicide bombings and assaults on security installations by dozens of militants, was Sinai’s deadliest in decades.

The army said 17 troops and 90 militants were killed, but security officials and media reports said dozens of soldiers and some 100 militants died in the fighting.

Newspapers led their front pages with the attack, with many describing it as a “war.” Graphic photographs released by the military showed the bodies of extremists killed in the fighting who were wearing combat fatigues.

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From BBC News

At least 600 Egyptian security personnel have been killed in militant attacks since 2013

Egypt in transition

Clashes between Islamic State (IS) militants and the army in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula have left more than 100 dead, the military has said.

It said 17 soldiers, including four officers, and more than 100 militants were killed.

Some reports, citing local officials, put the army death toll far higher.

Near-simultaneous raids were launched on at least five military checkpoints and a police station in and around Sheikh Zuweid on Wednesday morning.

The attack was one of the largest co-ordinated assaults yet by IS in Sinai.

Eyewitness reported seeing militants roaming the streets of the northern town on Wednesday, clashing with armed forces.

An Egyptian military spokesman, Brig-Gen Mohammed Samir, told state TV later that the situation was “100% under control”.

Jihadists based in the restive region stepped up their attacks after the military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013. At least 600 police and armed forces personnel have since been killed.

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In a separate development on Wednesday, security officials said nine members of Mr Morsi’s now banned Muslim Brotherhood, including former MP Nasr al-Hafi, had been killed in a police raid on a flat in western Cairo.

The security situation in Egypt has worsened since the assassination of the public prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, two days ago in the capital.

Analysis: Sally Nabil, BBC News, Cairo

The attack in Sheikh Zuweid is one of the biggest of its kind targeting the army in Sinai.

Eyewitnesses say IS-affiliated militants are roaming the streets, raising the flags of the extremist group. But it is always hard to verify any story in Sinai.

The army has enforced a total media blackout on the area since it intensified its fight against jihadists in 2013.

These latest assaults prove that the battle is still far from over. The long military operation, which was meant to restore peace to Sinai has, so far, failed to uproot extremism.

President Sisi has vowed to accelerate his crackdown against the “terrorists”, a broad term which does not only include extremist fighters in Sinai, but possibly all Islamists.

But many are questioning how effective his military solution is.

‘Army fatigues’

Gen Samir said more than 70 “terrorists” fired mortar rounds and detonated a car bomb in attacks on five checkpoints in the Sheikh Zuweid area of North Sinai province on Wednesday morning.

 

Smoke could be seen rising from the Egyptian side of border with southern Israel

Security and army officials told the Associated Press that at least 50 troops had been killed and 55 wounded, and that several had also been taken captive.

Sources meanwhile told the Reuters news agency that at least 36 soldiers, policemen and civilians had been killed along with 38 militants.

Dr Osama el-Sayed of El-Arish General Hospital was cited by Reuters as saying 30 bodies had been brought in, “some of whom were wearing army fatigues”.

Islamic State’s local affiliate, Sinai Province, later said in a statement posted online that it had targeted 15 security sites and carried out three suicide attacks.

Earlier in the day, officials told AP that dozens of policemen were inside Sheikh Zuweid’s main police station, which they said was coming under mortar- and RPG-fire.

“We are not allowed to leave our homes. Clashes are ongoing. A short while ago I saw five [Toyota] Landcruisers with masked gunmen waving black flags,” Sheikh Zuweid resident Suleiman al-Sayed told Reuters.

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Military operations have so far failed to quell the violence in restive North Sinai province

The militants were also reported to have planted bombs along a road between Sheikh Zuweid and a nearby army camp to prevent reinforcements arriving.

North Sinai has been under a state of emergency and a curfew since October, when an attack on a checkpoint in El-Arish left dozens of soldiers dead.

Police and army patrols have been increased and additional checkpoints have been set up. In addition, a buffer zone along the border with Gaza has been created by demolishing houses and destroying underground tunnels the military says have been used to smuggle weapons from the Palestinian enclave.

‘Sabotage’

Following the deaths in Cairo, the Muslim Brotherhood issued a statement saying that several of its leaders had been “murdered… in cold blood” and urged Egyptians to “rise in revolt” against the actions of the government of President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.

The interior ministry said the men had been fugitive Brotherhood leaders who were meeting to plan “acts of terrorism and sabotage”.

The Muslim Brotherhood, however, said they were part of its committee supporting the families of detainees and members who had been killed.

Analysts said the car bomb attack in Cairo that killed Mr Barakat also bore the hallmarks of Sinai Province, which was known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis until it pledged allegiance to Islamic State in November and changed its name.

In a speech at Mr Barakat’s funeral on Tuesday, President Sisi promised legal reforms to ensure death sentences could be enforced more swiftly for those convicted of acts of terrorism.

Hours later, a soldier was shot dead outside a museum in southern Cairo and three suspected militants were killed when a car in which they were travelling blew up near a police station in a western suburb.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-33340458

Israel Is Wise To Beware of Obama

March 22, 2015

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It’s Israel’s turn to face the wrath of Obama

By Michael Goodwin

First he comes for the banks and health care, uses the IRS to go after critics, politicizes the Justice Department, spies on journalists, tries to curb religious freedom, slashes the military, throws open the borders, doubles the debt and nationalizes the Internet.

He lies to the public, ignores the Constitution, inflames race relations and urges Latinos to punish Republican “enemies.” He abandons our ­allies, appeases tyrants, coddles ­adversaries and uses the Crusades as an excuse for inaction as Islamist terrorists slaughter their way across the Mideast.

Now he’s coming for Israel.

Barack Obama’s promise to transform America was too modest. He is transforming the whole world before our eyes. Do you see it yet?

Against the backdrop of the tsunami of trouble he has unleashed, Obama’s pledge to “reassess” America’s relationship with Israel cannot be taken lightly. Already paving the way for an Iranian nuke, he is hinting he’ll also let the other anti-Semites at Turtle Bay have their way. That could mean American support for punitive Security Council resolutions or for Palestinian statehood initiatives. It could mean both, or something worse.

President Obama met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in the Oval Office on Friday, May 19, 2011. Photo by Doug Mills/The New York Times

Whatever form the punishment takes, it will aim to teach Bibi Netanyahu never again to upstage him. And to teach Israeli voters never again to elect somebody Obama doesn’t like.

Apologists and wishful thinkers, including some Jews, insist Obama real­izes that the special relationship between Israel and the United States must prevail and that allowing too much daylight between friends will encourage enemies.

Those people are slow learners, or, more dangerously, deny-ists.

If Obama’s six years in office teach us anything, it is that he is impervious to appeals to good sense. Quite the contrary. Even respectful suggestions from supporters that he behave in the traditions of American presidents fill him with angry determination to do it his way.

For Israel, the consequences will be intended. Those who make excuses for Obama’s policy failures — naive, bad advice, bad luck — have not come to grips with his dark impulses and deep-seated rage.

Netanyahu and Obama. Reuters photo October 1, 2014

His visceral dislike for Netanyahu is genuine, but also serves as a convenient fig leaf for his visceral dislike of Israel. The fact that it’s personal with Netanyahu doesn’t explain six years of trying to bully Israelis into signing a suicide pact with Muslims bent on destroying them. Netanyahu’s only sin is that he puts his nation’s security first and refuses to knuckle ­under to Obama’s endless demands for unilateral concessions.

That refusal is now the excuse to act against Israel. Consider that, for all the upheaval around the world, the president rarely has a cross word for, let alone an open dispute with, any other foreign leader. He calls Great Britain’s David Cameron “bro” and praised Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohammed Morsi, who had called Zionists, “the descendants of apes and pigs.”

Obama asked Vladimir Putin for patience, promising “more flexibility” after the 2012 election, a genuflection that earned him Russian aggression. His Asian pivot was a head fake, and China is exploiting the vacuum. None of those leaders has gotten the Netanyahu treatment, which included his being forced to use the White House back door on one trip, and the cold shoulder on another.

It is a clear and glaring double standard.

Most troubling is Obama’s bended-knee deference to Iran’s Supreme Leader, which has been repaid with “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” demonstrations in Tehran and expanded Iranian military action in other countries.

The courtship reached the height of absurdity last week, when Obama wished Iranians a happy Persian new year by equating Republican critics of his nuclear deal with the resistance of theocratic hard-liners, saying both “oppose a diplomatic solution.” That is a damnable slur given that a top American military official estimates that Iranian weapons, proxies and trainers killed 1,500 US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Who in their right mind would trust such an evil regime with a nuke?

Yet Netanyahu, the leader of our only reliable ally in the region, is ­repeatedly singled out for abuse. He alone is the target of an orchestrated attempt to defeat him at the polls, with Obama political operatives, funded in part by American taxpayers, working to elect his opponent.

They failed and Netanyahu prevailed because Israelis see him as their best bet to protect them. Their choice was wise, but they better buckle up because it’s Israel’s turn to face the wrath of Obama.

http://nypost.com/2015/03/22/israel-beware-of-obama/

Related:

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech in Tehran (photo credit: AP/Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/File)

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech in Tehran (photo credit: AP/Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/File)

Security Crackdown in Egypt Widens With New Anti-Terrorism Law

February 24, 2015

Reuters

CAIRO — Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has signed off on an anti-terrorism law that gives authorities more sweeping powers to ban groups on charges ranging from harming national unity to disrupting public order.

Sisi speaks during a meeting with Egyptian air force personnel near the border of Egypt and Libya [Reuters]

Sisi speaks during a meeting with Egyptian air force personnel near the border of Egypt and Libya [Reuters]

The move, announced in the official Gazette on Tuesday, is likely to increase concern among rights groups over the government clawing back freedoms gained after the 2011 uprising that ended a three-decade autocracy under Hosni Mubarak.

Authorities have cracked down hard on the Islamist, secular and liberal opposition alike since then army chief Sisi toppled elected Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in 2013 after mass protests against his rule.

According to the Gazette, the law enables authorities to act against any individual or group deemed a threat to national security, including people who disrupt public transportation, an apparent reference to protests.

Loose definitions involving threats to national unity may give the police, widely accused of abuses, a green light to crush dissent, human rights groups say.

The Interior Ministry says it investigates all allegations of wrongdoing and is committed to Egypt’s democratic transition.

Under the mechanism of the law, public prosecutors ask a criminal court to list suspects as terrorists and start a trial.

Any group designated as terrorist would be dissolved, the law stipulates. It also allows for the freezing of assets belonging to the group, its members and financiers.

Since taking office in 2014, Sisi has identified Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood as a threat to national security.

He has linked the Brotherhood, the region’s oldest Islamist grouping, with far more radical groups, including one based in Sinai that supports Islamic State, allegations it denies.

Hundreds of supporters of the Brotherhood, which says it is a peaceful movement, have been killed and thousands arrested in one of the toughest security crackdowns in Egypt’s history.

Since Mursi’s fall, Sinai-based militants have killed hundreds of police and soldiers, and the beheading of up to 21 Egyptians in neighbouring Libya prompted Sisi to order air‮‮‮‮‮‮ ‬‬‬‬‬‬strikes against militant targets there.

Some Egyptians have overlooked widespread allegations of human rights abuses and backed Sisi for delivering a degree of stability following years of political turmoil since 2011.

A court on Tuesday acquitted Mubarak-era prime minister Ahmed Nazif and former interior minister Habib el-Adly of graft charges, judicial sources said, a day after prominent activist, Alaa Abdel Fattah, was jailed for five years for violating limits on demonstrations.

“I served Egypt, and history will judge,” Nazif told reporters at the court.

(Editing by Yara Bayoumy and Louise Ireland)

Egypt court sentences 183 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death

February 2, 2015

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President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt. Credit Mena/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

(Reuters) – An Egyptian court sentenced 183 supporters of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to death on Monday on charges of killing police officers, as authorities continued their crackdown on Islamists.

The men were convicted of playing a role in the killings of 16 policemen in the town of Kardasa in August, 2013 during the upheaval that followed the army’s ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Mursi. Thirty four were sentenced in absentia.

Egypt has mounted one of the biggest crackdowns in its modern history on the Brotherhood since the political demise of Mursi, the country’s first democratically-elected president.

Thousands of Brotherhood supporters have been arrested and put on mass trials in a campaign which human rights groups say shows the government is systematically repressing opponents.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who as army chief toppled Mursi, describes the Brotherhood as a major security threat.

The movement says it is committed to peaceful activism.

(Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Dominic Evans)

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Sisi Blames Muslim Brotherhood for Bombings in Sinai

CAIRO — President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on Saturday blamed the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood for bombings that killed at least 30 people in the North Sinai two days earlier, and declared that Egypt was “fighting the strongest secret organization” in the world.

Mr. Sisi leveled the accusation despite the fact that a Sinai-based militant group with links to the Islamic State terrorist organization claimed responsibility for the attacks and released photographs as proof.

The Brotherhood routinely denounces the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, and the Sinai militants for their violence. Those groups, in turn, criticize the Brotherhood for its focus on bottom-up political change, mocking it as little more than a tool of secular Arab governments and the West.

The Brotherhood, Egypt’s main Islamist opposition, won a general election before Mr. Sisi led a military takeover in 2013, and he often blames the group for any antigovernment violence.

Read the rest:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/01/world/middleeast/sisi-blames-muslim-brotherhood-for-bombings-in-sinai.html?_r=0

Egypt’s President Blasts Islamic Extremists — “You, imams, are responsible before Allah.”

January 12, 2015

By Todd Beamon

In a bold yet little-reported speech, The President of Egypt has directly confronted Islamic leaders in his country and challenged them to stand against extremism in their religion.

“We are in need of a religious revolution,” President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi told imams on New Years Day at al-Azhar University in Cairo. The speech commemorated the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi spoke out against Islamic extremism on New Year's Day, which coincided with the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi

“You, imams, are responsible before Allah,” el-Sisi said. “The entire world … is waiting for your next move … because [the Islamic world] is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost — and it is being lost by our own hands.”

El-Sisi, 60, was elected President last June after staging a bloody coup as army leader that toppled his controversial predecessor Mohammed Morsi — the country’s first elected leader and a member of the radical Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi, who like thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters is now in prison, came to power two years after U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in a popular uprising.

Since coming to power, el-Sisi has cracked down hard on Islamist extremists. Meanwhile he has signaled support to the country’s beleaguered Coptic Christian community, attending Christmas services at Cairo’s Abbasiya Cathedral and declaring that Egyptians should not view each other as Christians or Muslims but as Egyptians.

“Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants — that is 7 billion — so that they themselves may live? Impossible!

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi. Photo by AP

“You cannot feel it if you remain trapped within this mindset,” el-Sisi said. “You need to step outside of yourselves to be able to observe it and reflect on it from a more enlightened perspective.”

While the president’s speech was not widely covered by large news organizations, many observers praised el-Sisi for his courage and candor. They recalled that one of his predecessors Anwar Sadat was assassinated by Islamic extremists in 1981 for making peace with Israel.

“One must appreciate how refreshing it is for a top political leader in the heart of the Islamic world to make such candid admissions that his Western counterparts dare not even think let alone speak,” Raymond Ibrahim, an author and expert on Middle Eastern and Islamic affairs, said in The American Spectator.
“And bear in mind, el-Sisi has much to lose as opposed to Western politicians,” he added. “Calls by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists that he is an apostate are sure to grow more aggressive now.”

The speech was denounced by a broad spectrum of critics, including many of el-Sisi’s Islamist political opponents who have wide religious followings — charging that he was trying to corrupt Islam.

Even those who would normally promote a more modern interpretation of the religion frowned on el-Sisi’s comments. “A state-approved revolution,” charged Amina Khairi, a columnist at the generally pro-state newspaper al-Watan.

Some state religious officials also pushed back against el-Sissi’s use of the word “revolution” or the idea of dramatic change.

Noting how el-Sisi’s speech was ignored by the major news outlets, Jonah Goldberg, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said in USA Today: “This is a big deal. El-Sisi is doing exactly what Westerners have been crying out for since at least Sept. 11, 2001, if not before that.

“Whatever your own view of the man, and whether you think he’s sincere, el-Sisi’s efforts to combat Muslim extremism — militarily and rhetorically — deserve closer attention,” Goldberg concluded.

However, Doug Bandow, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, remained skeptical — cautioning in a Newsmax interview that el-Sisi was a “political military figure” who quashed any opposition to his agenda. His government also controls the media and finances mosques.

“This is the guy who runs the country and throws people in jail who don’t do what he says,” observed Bandow, who has served under President Ronald Reagan as a special assistant. “This isn’t like going to independent churches, some top spiritual leader … in America, or going to local congregations and saying, rethink something.”

He likened it to “the president of the United States going to state-funded churches — where he can cut off your money and throw you out of the job — and he says, ‘I think you should talk differently.’ Those are very different things.
“He might win acquiescence, but I don’t think that he wins acceptance from the people listening,” Bandow told Newsmax. “He doesn’t have a lot of independent credibility among genuine, devout Muslims.”

True fundamentalist Islamic leaders will have the greatest impact in any such effort, not a politician with el-Sisi’s reputation, he said.

“The turning point has to come from spiritual leaders, who have been rather fundamentalist, standing up and saying: ‘We’re serious Muslims, but this is beyond the pale. Allah never intended this. This is an outrage.’

“That’s the turning point,” Bandow said. “I haven’t seen that yet. I would love to see it. We need that. Islam needs it. I don’t see how el-Sisi provides that.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com

http://www.Newsmax.com/Newsfront/egypt-president-egypt-sisi/2015/01/11/id/617848/#ixzz3OcZReSDP
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Major Newspapers Pan President Obama’s West Point Foreign Policy Speech as Uninspiring, Ineffective

May 29, 2014

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President Barack Obama gives the commencement address at the graduation ceremony at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on May 28, 2014 in West Point, New York. | Getty

Editorial boards at three major U.S. newspapers are criticizing President Barack Obama’s foreign policy speech at West Point as incomplete and failing to recognize America’s international standing.

The New York Times editorial board, often supportive of the White House, wrote that his “address did not match the hype, was largely uninspiring, lacked strategic sweep and is unlikely to quiet his detractors, on the right or the left.”

Obama “provided little new insight into how he plans to lead in the next two years,” the Times wrote, “and many still doubt that he fully appreciates the leverage the United States has even in a changing world.”

The Times also continued its criticism of Obama on transparency on targeted killings and intelligence, saying his call for more transparency “was ludicrous” given the administration’s unwillingness to give “even minimal disclosures.”

The Wall Street Journal, far more accustomed to criticizing the president on foreign policy, said Obama’s speech was marked less by what he said and more by what he left out — the pivot to Asia, relations with Russia, a defense of the administration’s Syria policy, a discussion of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and other issues.

“We know that no foreign policy speech can cover the entire world,” the Journal concluded. “But listening to Mr. Obama trying to assemble a coherent foreign policy agenda from the record of the past five years was like watching Tom Hanks trying to survive in ‘Cast Away’: Whatever’s left from the wreckage will have to do.”

The Washington Post editorial said the president’s “binding of U.S. power places Mr. Obama at odds with every U.S. president since World War II.”

“President Obama has retrenched U.S. global engagement in a way that has shaken the confidence of many U.S. allies and encouraged some adversaries,” the board said, attacking the president for resorting to rhetoric instead of adjusting policy.

The Post also said that Obama provided “scant comfort” to those concerned about his policies on Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/05/obama-foreign-policy-speech-west-point-criticized-new-york-times-wall-street-journal-washington-post-107209.html#ixzz337ESNj26


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