Category Archives: Egypt

Will the U.S. Stop “Cozying Up” to Egyptian Regime After Jailing of Journalists? Interview with Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Kenneth Roth

Democracy Now! talks to Sharif Abdel Kouddous from Cairo, and  Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, after Egypt sentences Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste to three years in jail for “spreading false news” that purportedly harmed Egypt following the 2013 military coup. According to Roth: “The U.S. should stop cozying up to General — now President — Sisi. He is presiding over the worst crackdown in modern Egypt history.” (Democracy Now!)

Egypt: Sisi’s Regime Is a Gift to the Islamic State

Shadi Hamid writes for Foreign Policy:

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power on a classic strongman platform. He was no liberal or democrat — and didn’t claim to be — but promised stability and security at a time when most Egyptians had grown exhausted from the uncertainties of the Arab Spring.

Increasingly, U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration seems to accept this premise. In the span of the past week, the United States has delivered eight F-16s to Egypt, relaunched the U.S.-Egypt “strategic dialogue,” and said it would resume “Bright Star,” the joint military exercise suspended after the military coup of July 3, 2013.

Sisi’s raison d’être of security and stability, however, has been undermined with each passing month. By any measurable standard, Egypt is more vulnerable to violence and insurgency today than it had been before. On July 1, as many as 64 soldiers were killed in coordinated attacks by Egypt’s Islamic State affiliate, which calls itself the Province of Sinai. It was the worst death toll in decades, and came just days after the country’s chief prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, was assassinated.

f this is what a “stability-first” approach looks like, Egypt’s future is dark indeed. Of course, it shouldn’t be surprising that the country is growing less secure: Since the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi on July 3, 2013, Egypt has seen shocking levels of repression.

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U.S. Government Celebrates Its Arming of the Egyptian Regime With a YouTube Video

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

The Egyptian regime run by the despotic General Abdelfattah al-Sisi is one of the world’s most brutal and repressive. Last year, Human Rights Watch documented that that Egyptian “security forces have carried out mass arrests and torture that harken back to the darkest days of former President Hosni Mubarak’s rule.” Just two months ago, the group warned that the abuses have “escalated,” and that Sisi, “governing by decree in the absence of an elected parliament, ha[s] provided near total impunity for security force abuses and issued a raft of laws that severely curtailed civil and political rights, effectively erasing the human rights gains of the 2011 uprising that ousted the longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak.”

Despite that repression — or, more accurately, because of it — the Obama administration has lavished the regime with aid, money and weapons, just as the U.S. government did for decades in order to prop up Hosni Mubarak. When Sisi took power in a coup, not only did the U.S. government support him but it praised him for restoring “democracy.” Since then, the U.S. has repeatedly sent arms and money to the regime as its abuses became more severe. As the New York Times delicately put it yesterday, “American officials . . . signaled that they would not let their concerns with human rights stand in the way of increased security cooperation with Egypt.”

None of that is new: A staple of U.S. foreign policy has long been to support heinous regimes as long as they carry out U.S. dictates, all in order to keep domestic populations in check and prevent their views and beliefs (which are often averse to the U.S.) from having any effect on the actions of their own government.

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Egypt’s imprisonment of journalists is at an all-time high

The Committee to Protect Journalists reports:

Journalists protest the imprisonment of Egyptian photographer Mahmoud Abou Zeid, or Shawkan. (AP/Amr Nabil)“We are not going to replace Islamist fascism with a civil one,” Ahmed al-Mosallamany, spokesman for the transitional president, told CPJ in August 2013, a month after the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Mosallamany also promised constitutional changes that would improve press freedom in the country.

But today, almost two years later, journalists face unprecedented threats in President Abdelfattah el-Sisi’s Egypt.

A prison census CPJ conducted on June 1, 2015, found that Egyptian authorities were holding at least 18 journalists behind bars in relation for their reporting, the highest in the country since CPJ began recording data on imprisoned journalists in 1990. The threat of imprisonment in Egypt is part of an atmosphere in which authorities pressure media outlets to censor critical voices and issue gag orders on sensitive topics. Entire outlets, such as Al-Jazeera and the Turkish Anadolu news agency, have been banned from operating or forced to close their offices, according to CPJ research.

In a February 2015 mission to Egypt, CPJ spoke to high-level officials, including the prosecutor-general and the minister of transitional justice, who denied that Egypt was holding any journalists in jail in relation to their work. But CPJ research shows that the government of el-Sisi, who was elected president in May 2014, has used the pretext of national security to crack down on human rights, including press freedom.’

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Egypt’s Power Struggle Intensifies with Killing of Prosecutor Behind Mass Jailings of Islamists: Interview with Sharif Abdel Kouddous

‘Egypt’s public prosecutor has been killed in a bomb attack in Cairo. Hisham Barakat died in hospital Monday after a remote bomb detonated next to his car outside his home as he drove to work. Eight others were also hurt in the blast. Barakat became a target of militants after he sent thousands of Islamists to trial following the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi in 2013. We speak with Cairo-based Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous.’ (Democracy Now!)

Western collusion with Egypt’s reign of terror

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Middle East Eye:

[…] So far, Egypt has signed a grant total of $158 billion worth of agreements and memoranda of understanding with international companies, many of which have focused on energy.

Apart from Germany, Britain and Israel, as of March 2015, Egypt has also signed a $1.8 billion deal with China to develop Egypt’s electricity transmission grid; a $2.4 billion deal with companies from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to develop solar and wind power stations; a $7 billion deal with Saudi Arabia to develop a coal power station; a $5 billion deal with Italian oil major Eni to develop Egypt’s oil resources over four years.

Meanwhile, Sisi has appropriated the “war on terror” rhetoric of his Western benefactors to legitimise his brutal crackdown on political dissent and civil society activism.

Presenting himself as a bulwark of regional stability in the face of rising Islamist extremism, the West has rushed to shore up his tyranny primarily with energy contracts, but also, it seems, through direct collusion in Sisi’s domestic human rights abuses to crush political opposition.

The West has learned no lessons from the fall of Mubarak – except to keep doing more of the same.’

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Selling Out: Germany Sends Wrong Message By Welcoming Egypt’s Sisi

Raniah Salloum wrote recently for Der Spiegel:

On Wednesday [June 3rd], the German government is welcoming Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to Berlin for an official state visit, despite the fact that he imprisons and tortures critics and even has them killed. German Chancellor Angela Merkel of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) previously stated she would only invite the Egyptian leader after parliamentary elections, which probably would be neither free nor fair. But now he has been invited to Berlin, even without any date in sight for elections. What caused this change of heart?

In March, Egypt’s Constitutional Court annulled the country’s election law. Sisi invited international investors to Sharm el-Sheikh. German Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) then traveled to the country with a delegation of business leaders. At the time, German engineering multinational Siemens signed memorandums of understanding worth up to €10 billion ($11.14 billion) with the Egyptian government. Gabriel then personally delivered to Sisi the chancellor’s coveted invitation to visit Berlin.

The German government is forfeiting one of its most powerful diplomatic instruments in exchange for a lucrative business deal. By welcoming Sisi in Berlin, the government is now providing him with the international recognition he needs. It is legitimizing a leader who is ruling Egypt more brutally than Hosni Mubarak did.’

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Egypt: Islamists warn of backlash over Mohamed Morsi death sentence

Patrick Kingsley reports for The Guardian:

Egyptian Islamists have warned that the world should brace itself for a backlash after the country’s first freely elected president, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, was given a provisional death sentence nearly two years after he was overthrown by the army following mass protests against his rule.

Morsi was among over 100 men sentenced to death on Saturday for allegedly escaping prison during the 2011 uprising that toppled Morsi’s predecessor, Hosni Mubarak. Morsi and his colleagues were convicted of conspiring with Hamas, the Brotherhood’s Palestinian offshoot, whom judges decided had helped the prisoners leave jail in January 2011.

The sentence is provisional until the government’s most senior Islamic cleric gives his opinion. A final decision is due on 2 June. Even if the execution is upheld, analysts doubt that the Egyptian regime will follow through with such a provocative act. In a separate espionage case on Saturday, Morsi was sentenced to life in prison and, in a third case last month, to 20 years for incitement to violence.’

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SisiLeaks: Secret Tapes of the 2013 Egypt Coup Plot Pose a Problem for Obama

Mark Hertsgaard reports for The Daily Beast:

Former Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi sits behind bars with other Muslim Brotherhood members at a court in the outskirts of Cairo, December 29, 2014. Mursi and 35 other top Islamists are charged with conspiring with foreign groups to commit terrorist acts in Egypt, implicating the Palestinian group Hamas, the Shi'ite Islamist government of Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih (EGYPT - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW) - RTR4JJO4[…] The authenticity of the secret tapes has been verified forensically at the request of Morsi’s lawyers by J. P. French Associates, a British company that specializes in voice analysis, the Guardian newspaper has reported. The Egyptian government denies the finding, denouncing the tapes as “fabrications.”

If genuine, the tapes raise embarrassing questions for U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry in particular.  Besides rigging the legal case against Morsi, the tapes describe the Egyptian military’s role in fomenting the street protests that el-Sisi used to justify Morsi’s removal—a revelation that undercuts the military’s assertion that it took power as part of a popular “revolution,” not a coup.

U.S. law prohibits supplying advanced military equipment to a government that seized power in a coup.

Obama froze U.S. military aid to Egypt immediately after Morsi’s overthrow, but recently reversed course.’

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Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk writes for The Independent:

[…] It amazes me that all these warriors of the air don’t regularly crash into each other as they go on bombing and bombing. And since Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines is the only international carrier still flying over Syria – but not, thank heavens, over Isis’s Syrian capital of Raqqa – I’m even more amazed that my flights from Beirut to the Gulf have gone untouched by the blitz boys of so many Arab and Western states as they career around the skies of Mesopotamia and the Levant.

The sectarian and theological nature of this war seems perfectly clear to all who live in the Middle East – albeit not to our American chums. The Sunni Saudis are bombing the Shia Yemenis and the Shia Iranians are bombing the Sunni Iraqis. The Sunni Egyptians are bombing Sunni Libyans, it’s true, and the Jordanian Sunnis are bombing Iraqi Sunnis. But the Shia-supported Syrian government forces are bombing their Sunni Syrian enemies and the Lebanese Hezbollah – Shia to a man – are fighting the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Sunni enemies, along with Iranian Revolutionary Guards and an ever-larger number of Afghan Shia men in Syrian uniforms.’

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Ousted Egypt President Mohamed Morsi Gets 20 Years In Prison

The US isn’t winding down its wars – it’s just running them at arm’s length

Seamus Milne writes for The Guardian:

Joe Magee Illustration on Saudi-led action in Yemen[…] Since the disasters of Iraq and Afghanistan, the US and its allies are reluctant to risk boots on the ground. But their military interventions are multiplying. Barack Obama has bombed seven mainly Muslim countries since he became US president. There are now four full-scale wars raging in the Arab world (Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen), and every one of them has involved US and wider western military intervention. Saudi Arabia is by far the largest British arms market; US weapons sales to the Gulf have exceeded those racked up by George Bush, and last week Obama resumed US military aid to Egypt.

What has changed is that, in true imperial fashion, the west’s alliances have become more contradictory, playing off one side against the other. In Yemen, it is supporting the Sunni powers against Iran’s Shia allies. In Iraq, it is the opposite: the US and its friends are giving air support to Iranian-backed Shia militias fighting the Sunni takfiri group Isis. In Syria, they are bombing one part of the armed opposition while arming and training another.

The nuclear deal with Iran – which the Obama administration pushed through in the teeth of opposition from Israel and the Gulf states – needs to be seen in that context. The US isn’t leaving the Middle East, as some imagine, but looking for a more effective way of controlling it at arm’s length: by rebalancing the region’s powers, as the former MI6 officer Alastair Crooke puts it, in an “equilibrium of antagonisms”.’

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The Obama Arms Bazaar: Record Sales, Troubling Results

William D. Hartung, author of Prophets of War, writes for LobeLog:

With the end of the Obama presidency just around the corner, discussions of his administration’s foreign policy legacy are already well under way. But one central element of that policy has received little attention: the Obama administration’s dramatic acceleration of U.S. weapons exports.

The numbers are astonishing. In President Obama’s first five years in office, new agreements under the Pentagon’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program—the largest channel for U.S. arms exports—totaled over $169 billion. After adjusting for inflation, the volume of major deals concluded by the Obama administration in its first five years exceeds the amount approved by the Bush administration in its full eight years in office by nearly $30 billion. That also means that the Obama administration has approved more arms sales than any U.S. administration since World War II.

The majority of the Obama administration’s arms sales—over 60 percent–have gone to the Middle East and Persian Gulf, with Saudi Arabia topping the list at $46 billion in new agreements. This is particularly troubling given the complex array of conflicts raging throughout the region.’

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Interview with William Hartung, the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, and author of “Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex.” (Democracy Now!)

Amnesty Report: Egypt, Nigeria Led World in Death Sentences in 2014

Cara Anna reports for the Associated Press:

Egypt and Nigeria accounted for well over 1,000 of the death sentences announced last year, more than a third of the world’s total, Amnesty International says in its latest annual report on the death penalty.

The London-based human rights group expressed alarm at the 28 percent jump in death sentences: 2,466 people in 55 countries were condemned to death in 2014. At least 607 people were executed in 22 countries last year.

[…] The countries with the most recorded executions last year were Iran with at least 289, Saudi Arabia with at least 90, Iraq with at least 61 and the United States with at least 35, the rights group said. In Iran, hundreds more executions were “not officially acknowledged” and the total could be as high as 743, the organization said.’

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Obama Personally Tells the Egyptian Dictator that U.S. Will Again Send Weapons (and Cash) to his Regime

Glenn Greenwald reports for The Intercept:

Featured photo - Obama Personally Tells the Egyptian Dictator that U.S. Will Again Send Weapons (and Cash) to his RegimeYesterday, the Egyptian regime announced it was prosecuting witnesses who say they saw a police officer murder an unarmed poet and activist during a demonstration, the latest in a long line of brutal human rights abuses that includes imprisoning journalists, prosecuting LGBT citizens, and mass executions of protesters. Last June, Human Rights Watch said that Egyptian “security forces have carried out mass arrests and torture that harken back to the darkest days of former President Hosni Mubarak’s rule.”

Today, the White House announced that during a telephone call with Egyptian despot Abdelfattah al-Sisi, President Obama personally lifted the freeze on transferring weapons to the regime, and also affirmed that the $1.3 billion in military aid will continue unimpeded. Announced the White House.’

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Arab League to Create Joint Military Force to Fight Iran

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Capping off weekend negotiations at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, the Arab League has agreed in principle to create a combined military strike force, which officials saying is aimed squarely at Iran.

The force will be combined from Sunni Arab nations, and the current aim, admittedly preliminary, is for a force of 40,000 troops backed by warplanes to be created within the next four months.’

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The Yemen Crisis: Could Domestic Conflict Grow into Protracted Regional War?

‘As Saudi Arabia and Egypt threaten to send ground troops into Yemen, we look at the roots of the crisis. While many analysts have described the fighting as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, journalist Iona Craig says the fighting stems from a domestic conflict. “People try to frame this as an Iran versus Saudi kind of battle, which it has sort of become. But it is very much because of domestic politics,” explains Iona Craig, who recently spent four years reporting from Sana’a. We also speak to Brian Whitaker, former Middle East editor at The Guardian, about the decades-old history of Saudi intervention in Yemen.’ (Democracy Now!)

British government report concludes Muslim Brotherhood should not be classified as a terrorist organisation

SEE ALSO: British PM Cameron pulls Muslim Brotherhood report

Nigel Morris and Ian Johnston report for The Independent:

‘David Cameron is braced for a diplomatic row with Saudi Arabia and Egypt when the Government today publishes a long-awaited review into the Muslim Brotherhood which is set to clear it of being a terrorist organisation.

He ordered the “urgent investigation” into the Islamist movement almost a year ago, but the release of its conclusions has been repeatedly delayed amid wrangling between ministers and officials over its findings.

The Prime Minister has been accused of setting up the review under pressure from the Saudi ruling family, which was strongly opposed to the organisation under the late king, although his predecessor Salman appears to favour softening this stance.’

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The Class That Ruled Egypt Under Mubarak Remains in Power: Interview with Professor Seif Da’na

Egypt’s Sisi: It’s Time to Correct NATO’s Mistakes in Libya

All Africa reports:

President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said on Monday that it is time to correct the mistakes made by the NATO in Libya.

“The NATO operation in Libya was not complete, which led the North African country to fall under the control of militant and extremist groups,” Sisi said during his meeting with French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Sisi’s remarks came after the Egyptian air force carried out earlier on Monday airstrikes on Daesh hotbeds in Libya in retaliation to the beheading of 21 Egyptian nationals who had been kidnapped in the Libyan city of Sirte.’

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Libyan Chaos and the Un-Islamic State: Interview with Vijay Prashad

Editor’s Note: Vijay Prashad is a historian, journalist and commentator. He is the author of many books including “Arab Spring, Libyan Winter” ( which you can download here). In this interview, recorded Feb 17/18th, Prashad states that the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya destroyed the Libyan state and created the conditions for radical Islamist groups to thrive. He also says that Libya today reminds him of Afghanistan 25 years ago after the Soviet withdrawl which was awash with weapons and fighters jostling for control of the country

Islamic State Sprouting Limbs Beyond Its Base Raising Fears of Unending War

Eric Schmitt and David D Kirkpatrick report for The New York Times:

‘The Islamic State is expanding beyond its base in Syria and Iraq to establish militant affiliates in Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt and Libya, American intelligence officials assert, raising the prospect of a new global war on terror.

Intelligence officials estimate that the group’s fighters number 20,000 to 31,500 in Syria and Iraq. There are less formal pledges of support from “probably at least a couple hundred extremists” in countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Yemen, according to an American counterterrorism official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential information about the group.

[…] But it is unclear how effective these affiliates are, or to what extent this is an opportunistic rebranding by some jihadist upstarts hoping to draft new members by playing off the notoriety of the Islamic State.’

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A Libyan front in the war on ISIS may not be all it seems

Mary Dejevsky writes for The Guardian:

[…] For a government led by a former general, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who took power in what was essentially a military coup and faces seething discontent at home, the temptations of engaging in an external conflict are obvious. Yet this would be to jump ahead, perhaps much further and faster than is justified.

Indeed, the least reliable conclusion from the events of the weekend is probably the most obvious one: the claim that the perpetrators represent the same Islamic State that has cut a swath through northern Iraq and Syria. If anything, the claim underlines rather the nature of Isis as a collection of affiliates, a forbidding – and thus useful – brand name designed to scare enemies with its invocation of a larger cause. Its fundamentalist objectives may be shared, but its geographical sweep is not what it might appear: the actual territory held by Isis, and its degree of organisation, should not be exaggerated.’

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Libya and Egypt launch air strikes against ISIS after militants post beheadings video

Jared Malsin and Chris Stephen report for The Guardian:

Egypt reported that its war planes had struck Isis targets in Libya, shortly after President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi vowed revenge for the release by Isis-affiliated militants of a video of a mass killing of Christians.

A spokesman for the Armed Forces General Command announced the strikes on state radio Monday, marking the first time Cairo had publicly acknowledged taking military action in neighbouring Libya.

The statement said the warplanes targeted weapons caches and training camps before returning safely. It said the strikes were “to avenge the bloodshed and to seek retribution from the killers”.’

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Egypt Releases Two Al Jazeera Reporters After 411 Days in Jail

‘Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous reports from Cairo as Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed are ordered released on bail after over a year in prison. Mohamed Fahmy, a Canadian-Egyptian citizen, was the acting bureau chief for Al Jazeera English when he was arrested in December 2013 along with Australian correspondent Peter Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed. All three were charged with spreading false news and aiding terrorists. They were sentenced last June to between seven and 10 years in prison, a ruling struck a severe blow to press freedom in Egypt and sparked condemnation from around the world. The court said the case against Fahmy and Mohamed is still pending.’ (Democracy Now!)

Russian anthem FAIL during Putin’s visit to Egypt

Grossly Hypocritical For Egypt, Turkey and Russia to Attend Charlie Hebdo March, says Reporters Without Borders

Louise Ridley reports for The Huffington Post:

Leaders from Egypt, Turkey and Russia are grossly hypocritical for attending today’s Paris march for the journalists murdered at Charlie Hebdo magazine when they continue to persecute journalists in their own countries, according to a journalists’ charity.

Reporters Without Borders (RWB) says it is “appalled” that leaders of countries including United Arab Emirates were present. It accused them of trying to “improve their international image” while “spitting on the graves” of the cartoonists and journalists.

[…] RWB secretary-general Christophe Deloire said: “It would be unacceptable if representatives of countries that silence journalists were to take advantage of the current outpouring of emotion to try to improve their international image and then continue their repressive policies when they return home.

“We must not let predators of press freedom spit on the graves of Charlie Hebdo.”’

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Who Should Be Blamed For Muslim Terrorism?

Andrew Vltchek writes for CounterPunch:

A hundred years ago, it would have been unimaginable to have a pair of Muslim men enter a cafe or a public transportation vehicle, and then blow themselves up, killing dozens. Or to massacre the staff of a satirical magazine in Paris! Things like that were simply not done.

When you read the memoirs of Edward Said, or talk to old men and women in East Jerusalem, it becomes clear that the great part of Palestinian society used to be absolutely secular and moderate. It cared about life, culture, and even fashion, more than about religious dogmas.

The same could be said about many other Muslim societies, including those of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and Indonesia. Old photos speak for themselves. That is why it is so important to study old images again and again, carefully.

Islam is not only a religion; it is also an enormous culture, one of the greatest on Earth, which has enriched our humanity with some of the paramount scientific and architectural achievements, and with countless discoveries in the field of medicine. Muslims have written stunning poetry, and composed beautiful music. But above all, they developed some of the earliest social structures in the world, including enormous public hospitals and the first universities on earth, like The University of al-Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco.

The idea of ‘social’ was natural to many Muslim politicians, and had the West not brutally interfered, by overthrowing left-wing governments and putting on the throne fascist allies of London, Washington and Paris; almost all Muslim countries, including Iran, Egypt and Indonesia, would now most likely be socialist, under a group of very moderate and mostly secular leaders.’

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21st-century censorship: Governments around the world are using stealthy strategies to manipulate the media

Philip Bennett and Moises Naim report for Columbia Review of Journalism:

Two beliefs safely inhabit the canon of contemporary thinking about journalism. The first is that the internet is the most powerful force disrupting the news media. The second is that the internet and the communication and information tools it spawned, like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, are shifting power from governments to civil society and to individual bloggers, netizens, or “citizen journalists.”

It is hard to disagree with these two beliefs. Yet they obscure evidence that governments are having as much success as the internet in disrupting independent media and determining the information that reaches society. Moreover, in many poor countries or in those with autocratic regimes, government actions are more important than the internet in defining how information is produced and consumed, and by whom.

Illustrating this point is a curious fact: Censorship is flourishing in the information age. In theory, new technologies make it more difficult, and ultimately impossible, for governments to control the flow of information. Some have argued that the birth of the internet foreshadowed the death of censorship. In 1993, John Gilmore, an internet pioneer, told Time, “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.”

Today, many governments are routing around the liberating effects of the internet. Like entrepreneurs, they are relying on innovation and imitation. In countries such as Hungary, Ecuador, Turkey, and Kenya, officials are mimicking autocracies like Russia, Iran, or China by redacting critical news and building state media brands. They are also creating more subtle tools to complement the blunt instruments of attacking journalists.

As a result, the internet’s promise of open access to independent and diverse sources of information is a reality mostly for the minority of humanity living in mature democracies.’

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Worse than the dictators: Egypt’s leaders bring pillars of freedom crashing down

Patrick Kingsley writes for The Guardian:

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi reviews a guard of honour after being sworn in as president of Egypt in June.‘Egypt is enacting authoritarian laws at a rate unmatched by any regime for 60 years, legal specialists from four institutions have told the Guardian.

Since the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, Morsi’s successors in the presidency, Adly Mansour and Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, have used the absence of an elected parliament to almost unilaterally issue a series of draconian decrees that severely restrict freedom of expression, association and assembly.

The speed at which the decrees have been issued outpaces legislative frenzies under the dictators Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, and is matched only by the period that followed the toppling of the Egyptian monarchy in 1952, according to Amr Shalakany, associate law professor at the American University in Cairo; Amr Abdulrahman, director of civil liberties at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights; Mohamed Elhelw, head of legal research at the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms; and Ahmed Ezzat, a human rights lawyer, and previously a legal researcher at another prominent rights group.’

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