• FORGOT_YOUR_PASSWORD
    • FORGOT_YOUR_USERNAME
    • CREATE_AN_ACCOUNT

powered ByGiro.com

Login

Monday, 22nd January 2018
11:34:06pm

To Human Rights, it’s “Peaceful dissent”!

 

 

In light of the Riyadh Arab-Islamic-American Summit, we need to go back and visit an earlier article that appeared as President El-Sisi was about to meet President Trump in a formal visit to Washington in April, 2017

Human Rights’ article, “Sisi’s Egypt is a Poor Partner for the United States in the Fight Against Terrorism,” warned President Trump against mending ties with Egypt, concluding that “Hosting Egypt’s repressive president sends the wrong message to the world on how to overcome the scourge of violent extremism and terrorism,” reckoning  

El-Sisi and “violent extremism and terrorism” are somehow connected if not synonymous.

So, enough is enough; it is time to take Human Rights to task. The sweeping statements; the arrogant, know-it-all approach; and, more importantly, the incorrigible inaccuracies, call for a rebuttal.

The article starts off saying the Egyptian government has “portrayed El-Sisi as a religious moderate playing a leading role in the fight against violent extremism,” which is, in my books, perfectly true even if “portrayed” implies the opposite.

Indeed, El-Sisi is a moderate Muslim. He doesn’t exemplify the stringently conservative notions but adheres to the Muslim altruistic traits: benevolence, humbleness, and compassion, while fighting violent extremism by, first, promoting religious reform and, second, by confronting terrorism.

At the Summit in Riyadh, President El-Sisi reiterated these principles. His succinct, four-point strategy underscored confronting all terrorist organisations without discrimination; addressing all related facetsincluding funding, arming, and political and ideological support; terminating the terrorist organisations ability to recruit new fighters through ideological and intellectual reform; and tackling the instability in national state institutions in the Arab region, which is a prerequisite for terrorist organisations’ growth.

Let’s go back to Human Rights’ article. “Since taking power by military coup from the elected, Muslim Brotherhood-backed, government of Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, Sisi has pursued policies that have fueled the grievances exploited by violent extremists.”

All rhetoric— “military coup” and “the elected … Morsi’—aside, the writer believes that President El-Sisi’s policies create extremists, as though extremism did not exist on New Year’s Eve of 2011 when a bomb in an Alexandria church killed 21 churchgoers or in ’97 when 70 were massacred in a Luxor Temple. The examples, prior to Sisi, are endless.

For a brief period, Egypt had become a malleable pawn in the hands of Islamists, and when Egyptians reversed the course, terrorism escalated further. El Sisi had no other alternative but to go after the culprits.

Besides, terrorism escalated all around the world, too, with affected countries immediately upping security and enhancing surveillance.

After the many explosions in Paris, France declared a three-month state of emergency, struck ISIS targets way inside Syria, and closed borders. It conducted warrantless searches and indiscriminate, intrusive surveillance tactics.

This while Belgium deployed more than 1,800 soldiers, carried several hundred raids, detentions, stops, and searches as Human Rights itself mentioned.

And yet such measures were never considered repressive, suppressive, destructive, dictatorial, counterproductive, brutal, or non pluralistic, as this article suggests Sisi’s rule is. 

In a convoluted and verbose thought, the writer adds, “His repressive policies have denied space to independent mainstream religious voices, who could credibly challenge and rebut extremist ideologues, while co-opting religious leaders to validate his dictatorial rule, thereby undermining their independence and credibility in the fight against extremist ideologies.”

Unless the writer implies the Muslim Brotherhood organisation is a “mainstream religious voice” which would be misleading, “Independent mainstream religious voices” have not been denied space. Quite the contrary, many a time El-Sisi has been critical of Al-Azhar, the real mainstream voice, but he has never instituted change. He left it to Al-Azhar to change from within; it has yet to comply.

The article goes on. “Sisi’s Egypt has received tens of billions of dollars of support from absolute monarchies in the Gulf, anxious to ensure that the popular demands for more representative government and human dignity, heard during the short-lived Arab Spring of 2011, should not take root in the Arab World.”

Yes, Gulf States supported June 30th and the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood president, fearing the Arab Spring consequences inflicted on Syria, Libya, and Yemen. The Gulf States also realised that Egypt is pivotal in the fight against terrorism and must remain strong.

Egypt’s dominant role was visible at the Summit even further. Earlier, President Trump called the Egyptian president to say he was looking forward to meeting him in Riyadh and vowing further “robust strategic relations.” Then President El-Sisi was favoured to launch the new Global Centre for combating extremist ideology together with King Salman and President Trump. 

The article goes further. Sisi’s government “perpetuated anti-Christian sectarianism and intolerance of religious diversity,” is utterly flawed. It also “failed to protect Christians.” If anything such statements fuel rage and provoke uncalled-for reactionary measures, or maybe that is exactly what Human Rights wants to instil.   

Of all Egyptian leaders, El Sisi is the most respectful of other religions and other peoples in general. During his visits to the Coptic Cathedral, El Sisi identifies all Egyptians as one entity with no hyphenation, as in Egyptian-Copt or Egyptian-Muslim. In fact, during Muslim and Christian festivities, as well as crises, the president congratulates and consoles all Egyptians with no reference to Muslims or Christians.  As for being unable to “protect Christians,” I don’t believe that any country is able to fully protect its citizens against terrorism. Egypt tries though; churches are the most guarded of all buildings and institutions in Egypt, intensely barricaded with roadblocks, barbed wire, and heightened security especially during festivities.

Besides, Egypt will continue to protect its Christians by going after violent extremists, and if, according to the writer, this provokes grievances, so be it.

The writer goes on to say, “There can be no credible reform while religious institutions operate within the framework of rigid state restrictions.” I’d rather see Al-Azhar reform its books and doctrines, improve its sermons, and train its sheikhs than have it continue to dwell on issues that are exploited negatively. I’d call these changes improvements not “rigid state restrictions.”

And at the Summit, President El-Sisi reiterated these notions. In his speech, he mentioned his initiative to renew the religious discourse that would lead to a comprehensive cultural revolution and illustrate the true essence of tolerant Islam.

But the most convoluted message of all lies here: “The government suppresses peaceful dissent and stifles pluralism.”

The writer is unaware that what exists in Egypt today is brazen terrorism. Hundreds of army officers and conscripts died; judges, police officers, helpless laypersons, and, of course, Copts were victimized. To consider such behaviour “peaceful dissent” is sheer nonsense.

The writer suggested President Trump challenge El-Sisi otherwise it would fuel resentment of the United States in Egypt and beyond. This is contrary to the truth; by offering strong support to President El-Sisi, President Trump smoothened out the wrinkles and resentments left by President Obama, and remedied the snub that continued for four years.

In fact, much to the chagrin of Human Rights, President Sisi was greeted warmly in Washington. Then, in Riyadh, it was clear that President Trump was fully aware of the role that Egypt has taken upon itself. He singled out Egypt for a forthcoming visit and praised President El-Sisi for focusing on the safety of Egyptians under trying conditions.

The upshot of the Riyadh Summits is proof that Human Rights message is defective and biased, a repetitive broken record.

The writer is an academic, political analyst, and author of Cairo Rewind: the First Two Years of Egypt's Revolution, 2011-2013.

Opinion

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
Prev Next

Jerusalem: the fall of the US one-pole world

02-01-2018 Hits:516 Opinion

Jerusalem: the fall of the US one-pole world

  Kamal Gaballa After the UN general assembly’s decision on Dec 21 to reject President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and by refusing to change the legal status of the occupied city, Arab and international voices started surfacing, insisting on the importance of mobilizing mechanisms to forcibly enforce the decision, and creating a diplomatic framework to...

Read more

Sinai: Terrorism crosses redline

05-12-2017 Hits:1243 Opinion

Sinai: Terrorism crosses redline

  Kamal Gaballa, In the dark hours of November 24, Egypt had to dig mass graves to bury victims of the horrific terrorist attack who were killed as they performed their Friday prayers at a mosque in the northern part of the country’s Sinai Peninsula. The attack killed 305 worshipers, including 27 children and 160 elderly, and wounded 128 others. With this...

Read more

S.Korea's PyeongChang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games 2018: Opening New Horizons

27-11-2017 Hits:1438 Opinion

S.Korea's PyeongChang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games 2018: Opening New Horizons

  KIM Byung-kwun , Thirty years after the Seoul Olympic Games, the organization and events of which impressed the entire world, the 23rd Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held in PyeongChang, Korea, in February 2018. The PyeongChang Olympic Games will build on what was founded three decades ago: it will cultivate the true values of the Olympic movement and provide an opportunity,...

Read more

Egypt between World Cup jubilation and UNESCO loss

10-11-2017 Hits:1864 Opinion

Egypt between World Cup jubilation and UNESCO loss

  Hassan Abou Taleb ,  While Egypt may suffer defeats, it's influence remains strong, enduring the ebbs and flows that confront all states and societies Egypt experienced the taste of both wins and losses last month. The big win came via the national football team when it won in a very difficult match that qualified it directly to participate, after 28 years absence, in...

Read more

Utilising Egypt’s diaspora

29-10-2017 Hits:2081 Opinion

Utilising Egypt’s diaspora

  According to 2017 census, Egypt’s population stands at nearly 95 million, plus an estimated 9.4 million living abroad. In addition to many other millions who left over many decades and never returned, so they are unaccounted for My bet is that those 9.4 million, and the many others who have fallen through the cracks, are Egyptian by birth, schooling, and rearing....

Read more

UN Resident Coordinator in Egypt on the occasion of UN Day

25-10-2017 Hits:2138 Opinion

UN Resident Coordinator in Egypt on the occasion of UN Day

  Richard Dictus , Wednesday 25 Oct 2017 On the 24th of October 2017, we celebrate together with the Arab Republic of Egypt the 72nd anniversary of the UN Charter coming into force in 1945. Egypt, one of the founding members of the United Nations, celebrates the global commitment, along with the other Member States, to global peace and security. The UN-Egypt partnership is...

Read more

Washington and the Iranian public opinion

15-10-2017 Hits:2328 Opinion

Washington and the Iranian public opinion

Abdulrahman al-Rashed   Iran’s propaganda during its negotiations on the nuclear agreement around three years ago was based on claims that the deal will lead to peace in the region and end the long row. Unlike what’s commonly known about it, Tehran expanded its propaganda to include Iranian communities outside Iran, most of whom have not been in harmony with the regime...

Read more

Threats to Kurds made independence referendum inevitable

07-10-2017 Hits:2488 Opinion

Threats to Kurds made independence referendum inevitable

An American official asked President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani why they held the referendum now and why they rejected all demands to postpone it.Barzani told his American guest that Baghdad’s government began to receive heavy and advanced weapons from the US, including military jets, which means that in few years, the balance will be in favor of...

Read more

Religious discourse and Western societies

04-10-2017 Hits:2051 Opinion

Religious discourse and Western societies

      Sayed Mahmoud;   High Vatican officials sometimes sound more like philosophers than Muslim clergymen. Does the difference explain the advances of Western countries? In the closing session of the Rimini Meeting for friendship among peoples in Italy, I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard Cardinal Pietro Parolin, one of the assistants to the Vatican Pope and perhaps the second most influencial man...

Read more

Morphing the Kurdish referendum into a mistake

25-09-2017 Hits:1516 Opinion

Morphing the Kurdish referendum into a mistake

Amir Taheri What is the first thing you should do when you have dug yourself into a hole? The obvious answer is: stop digging. This is the advice that those involved in the imbroglio over the so-called independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan, due to be held next Monday. But still in the suspense of writing this column, would do well to heed. The...

Read more

Daesh terrorism ... revenge and random violence

08-09-2017 Hits:1634 Opinion

Daesh terrorism ... revenge and random violence

  Hassan Abou Taleb ,    It seems that the world, especially the West, must adapt to non-traditional terrorist operations that can be difficult to detect beforehand and that aim at killing civilians in apparently random ways The terrorism that involves running people over and stabbing them is not just a fantastical idea. It has become a reality, in several locationsand  in several countres at...

Read more

The chaos of ideas and the chaos of politics

23-08-2017 Hits:1585 Opinion

The chaos of ideas and the chaos of politics

  Hani Raslan ,    Egypt has changed a lot since the 1950s and 1960s, yet our conceptions of the world and of the country are still shaped by out-dated understandings Amid the intense and violent debate that engulfs Egypt on every crisis, whether it is economic, political or the result of acts of violence or terror, we can observe this time with that the...

Read more

Live

NewsFeed