Archive for the ‘Sisi’ category

In Egypt, Clashes Between The Institution Of The Presidency And The Institution Of Al-Azhar

August 21, 2017

In Egypt, Clashes Between The Institution Of The Presidency And The Institution Of Al-Azhar, MEMRI, August 21, 2017

Introduction

Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, the most important institute of learning in the Sunni Muslim world, and its head, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayeb, are currently facing a political and media attack led by the institute of the Egyptian presidency, headed by President ‘Abd Al-Fatah Al-Sisi. This is the latest episode in the past two years of ongoing tension between the two institutions, over Al-Azhar’s apparent refusal to comply with the president’s dictates in matters of religion.

One aspect of the attack on Al-Azhar is President Al-Sisi’s direct criticism of Al-Azhar Sheikh Al-Tayeb; another is criticism of Al-Azhar in the government press; and yet another is parliamentary moves led by Al-Sisi’s associates aimed at limiting the authorities of the Al-Azhar sheikh. There have also been calls for Sheikh Al-Tayeb himself to step down.

The main criticism against Al-Azhar is that the institution has failed to join the ideological war on terrorism that is led by President Al-Sisi. Critics say that Al-Azhar is not complying with Al-Sisi’s major goal, announced in 2014 and frequently reiterated by him, to promote a renewal of the religious discourse in Egypt, and also point out that it is refusing to level the accusation  of heresy against the Islamic State (ISIS), which has claimed responsibility for several terror attacks in the country.[1] It is also being said that Al-Azhar’s curricula encourage young people to turn to terrorism. In addition, there is criticism of Al-Azhar’s refusal to change how divorces are handled, as Al-Sisi has also demanded.

Al-Azhar representatives, headed by Sheikh Al-Tayeb, have rejected these criticisms, calling them deliberate lies that damage Islam. To show that it is indeed fulfilling its role and that it is a moderate Islamic institution, Al-Azhar has in recent months held international conventions on the subject of fighting extremism, as well as meetings with young people, and has waged anti-extremism and anti-terrorism campaigns.[2]

It should be noted that despite the harsh criticism of Al-Azhar, and of Sheikh Al-Tayeb, it still has the public’s sympathy, and significant support from many members of parliament.

This report will focus on the tension between the Egyptian presidency and Al-Azhar, as reflected in statements by the leaders of both institutions, in parliamentary activity against it,  and in articles in the Egyptian press.

Al-Azhar Institute (image: balkans.aljazeera.ne)

Tension Between President Al-Sisi And Al-Azhar Sheikh Al-Tayeb

As stated, in recent months it has become evident that there is considerable tension between President Al-Sisi and Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayeb, as reflected in the president’s criticism of the sheikh both in public and in closed meetings. Currently, the main criticism against Al-Azhar is that it is not making sufficient efforts to advance the renewal of religious discourse in Egypt, as Al-Sisi has demanded. 

President Al-Sisi Repeatedly Reprimands Al-Azhar Sheikh – And Reportedly Threatens To Replace Him There have been several Egyptian newspaper reports concerning President’s Al-Sisi’s displeasure with Al-Azhar’s lack of action on this issue; he has made this clear in individual meetings with Sheikh Al-Tayeb and at public events.

At January 1, 2015 festivities marking the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad at the Egyptian Ministry of Endowments, Al-Sisi said to Sheikh Al-Tayeb: “The preachers are responsible to Allah for the renewal of the religious discourse and for improving the image of Islam. [On Judgment Day,] I will argue against you before Allah [if you do not do this].”[3]

Following a November 30, 2016 meeting between the two, the independent Egyptian daily Al-Misriyyoun reported on their chilly relationship and noted that the president was furious at Al-Azhar’s failure to vehemently attack political Islam organizations, specifically ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and for its continuing aggressive anti-Shi’ite position.[4]

There are, however, only a few such reports; for the most part, Al-Sisi is careful to express respect for Al-Azhar while at the same time clarifying his position vis-à-vis how it functions. Thus, he told the editors of government newspapers in a May 2017 interview: “Our general line is to protect the institutions of the Egyptian state, to urge them to fulfill their roles, and to develop them in a way that will suit the challenges and dangers that we face. Al-Azhar has a monumental status both inside and outside Egypt, and that is why we insist that it fulfill its role, because both the region and the world need it to do so.”[5]

At a June 21, 2017 event marking Laylat Al-Qadr, the night when, according to Muslim tradition, the Quran was first revealed to Muhammad, Al-Sisi praised Al-Azhar as a source of pride and for the position it has held for over a millennium. He went on to reiterate the need for a renewal of the religious discourse, calling it “a matter of life and death for the people and the ummah.”[6]

On July 26, 2017, four months after the April 8, 2017 Palm Sunday attacks on Mar Girgis church in Tanta and St. Marks Cathedral in Alexandria, Al-Sisi confirmed his decision to establish a Supreme Council for the Fight Against Extremism and Terrorism,” to be headed by him, and whose members would include the parliamentary speaker, the prime minister, the Al-Azhar sheikh, the Coptic Patriarch, various government ministers, the head of Egypt’s general intelligence service, the head of the Administrative Supervisory Authority, and public figures such as former Egyptian mufti Ali Goma’a.[7]However, even though the Al-Azhar sheikh is on the council, Egyptian media members who are close to the regime interpreted the establishment of the council as a blow to Al-Azhar’s authority; some even called it proof of Al-Azhar’s “demise.” The establishment of this council, they said, meant that the institution of the presidency had decided that it itself would act on the matter of renewing the religious discourse, instead of waiting for the Ministry of Endowments or for Al-Azhar to do so.[8]

Another serious dispute between Al-Sisi and Sheikh Al-Tayeb erupted over the issue of talaq ­– that is, a Muslim husband’s power to divorce his wife on the spot by merely telling her three times “I divorce you.” Al-Sisi again reprimanded Al-Tayeb in public. During a January 24, 2017 speech marking Police Day, he addressed him directly, saying: “You’ve tired me out, my friend.”[9] Al-Sisi went on to call for an end to this divorce practice, which is common in Egypt, and for divorce to be documented legally in order to reduce the rate of talaq divorces in the country.[10] In response, MP ‘Amr Hamroush hastened to prepare a bill regulating divorce.[11]

This demand by President Al-Sisi, which also garnered support from the Egyptian media, was perceived by the Al-Azhar institute as an affront to Islam, an attempt to secularize Egypt, and an attempt to circumvent the authority of the institute. In an announcement, Al-Azhar’s Council of Senior Scholars clarified that “by virtue of Al-Azhar’s religious responsibility and its status in the Egyptian ummah, as determined by the constitution of Egypt,” it had in recent months convened todiscuss current social issues, among them the issue of divorce in a religious context, and that it had decided that talaq is permitted. In this way, the council made it clear that Al-Azhar does indeed have decision-making authority in matters of Islamic law.[12]

Al-Azhar cleric Dr. Yahya Ismail said: “The war against Islam and its rulings is an old war. There is an ongoing, focused campaign to secularize Egypt…” He added: “This is a conspiracy against Islam and its guidelines… The rulings and conditions regarding divorce are known… The game of [legally] documenting divorce is an old one, and it is Christian clerics who were behind it [and who] tried to persuade some of [Egypt’s] presidents in this matter…” Al-Azhar lecturer Ahmed Karima also criticized Al-Sisi’s demand, saying: “Who will successfully eradicate this [talaq]? Only Allah or His Messenger… “[13]

Following the media uproar over the divorce issue, there was an attempt to calm the waters by both sides, and to show that things had returned to normal. On February 26, 2017, Al-Sisi stressed, in a meeting with Sheikh Al-Tayeb, that Al-Azhar is like a lighthouse for moderate Islamic ideology.[14] Al-Tayeb advisor Muhammad ‘Abd Al-Salam also denied that there was any disagreement between the two institutions of Al-Azhar and the presidency.[15]

Measures Against Al-Azhar: A Bill To Limit Al-Azhar Sheikh’s Authority And Establishment Of A Committee To Examine Al-Azhar Curricula

One manifestation of the anger at Al-Azhar was recent parliamentary measures against it and its sheikh aimed at limiting his authority and independence. Recently, MP Muhammad Abu Hamed, known to support Al-Sisi, proposed a change to the 1961 Al-Azhar Law regulating the authority of both the institute and its head. This bill was supported by parliamentary speaker Ali ‘Abd Al-A’al, who argued that the bill did not harm Al-Azhar.[16]

The main points of the amendment bill proposed by Abu Hamed make it clear that it is aimed at limiting the Al-Azhar sheikh’s authority and at increasing governmental control of the institute itself. For example, Section 2 of Abu Hamad’s bill states that the Al-Azhar sheikh is the Grand Imam of all Muslim clerics and that he represents the institute, but also states that his term is six years and that he can be reelected only once. The 1961 law did not mention the length of the sheikh’s term. Also according to the bill, the candidates for the position of sheikh are to be selected not just by Al-Azhar’s Council of Senior Scholars, as has been the case to date, but jointly by the council and Al-Azhar’s Academy of Islamic Research. Further, according to Section 5 of the  bill, if two-thirds of the members of Al-Azhar’s Council of Senior Scholars feel that the sheikh is not fulfilling his role appropriately, he is to be sent before an investigative committee comprising seven of this council’s leading members. This committee has the power to warn him, reprimand him, or “revoke his authority.” The original 1961 law included nothing regarding internal oversight of the Al-Azhar sheikh.[17]

Section 8 of the bill authorizes the president to appoint the imam and preacher of Al-Azhar’s mosque, from among three candidates that are to be put forward by Al-Azhar’s Council of Senior Scholars.[18] Also, Al-Azhar’s Council of Senior Scholars is to determine the content of the Friday sermons delivered at Al-Azhar mosque, and set regulations for religious, social, and cultural activities at the mosque.

It should be noted that an addition to the general definition of Al-Azhar’s role focuses on the importance of its role in developing religious discourse in a manner highlighting humane principles and unifying the Muslim ummah, and undermining the sources of the extremist discourse that crudely interprets Islam.[19]

Abu Hamed said of the bill that in today’s circumstances it is inconceivable that the Al-Azhar sheikh cannot be fired, and emphasized that three senior members of Al-Azhar’s Council of Senior Scholars are MB members.[20]

A further parliamentary step taken against the Al-Azhar institute relates to its educational curriculum. The chairman of the Religious Affairs Committee in the parliament, Osama Al-‘Abd, said that the committee has established a working group to examine the curriculum at the institute as part of a process to renew religious discourse in Egypt.[21]

Despite Abu Hamed’s bill and the examination of the curriculum, it is evident that there is much support in parliament for Sheikh Al-TayebAbu Hamed’s bill was criticized by several MPs who said that they had been unaware the law harmed the status of the Al-Azhar sheikh and asked that their signatures be removed from the bill. Further, MP Osama Sharshar wrote a memorandum to the parliamentary speaker that was signed by the majority of the 406 MPs demanding that the bill be opposed and not submitted because it was clearly aimed at harming one of the institutions of Egyptian society. Al-Azhar is a red line, he said, much like the military, and firing the Al-Azhar sheikh is practically heresy.[22]

For his part, Abu Hamed rejected the MPs’ request that their signatures be removed, and said that he would try to enlist the support of additional MPs and re-submit the bill during the next parliamentary session.[23] In this context, parliamentary sources revealed to the Egyptian daily Al-Shurouq that top-echelon officials had ordered that the bill be shelved.[24] Nevertheless, on several additional occasions Abu Hamed stressed that he intended to submit the bill, and that he had the signatures of 80 MPs who support it.[25]

On May 9, a delegation of MPs met with Sheikh Al-Tayeb, who thanked them for their opposition to those aiming to harm Al-Azhar and warned that any affront to it was a blow to Egypt’s position as defender of Islam and its moderateness.[26]

Allegations In Media That Al-Azhar Is Not Acting Against Terrorism; Calls For Sheikh Al-Tayeb To Resign

The establishment media hastened to stand by President Al-Sisi and fiercely attacked Al-Azhar, by publishing dozens of articles criticizing Al-Azhar on several fronts: its refusal to accuse ISIS of heresy; its curricula, which they alleged encourages extremism and even terrorism; extremist statements made by Al-Azhar clerics, including allegations of heresy against Christians[27] and against Egyptian philosopher Islam Behery.[28]

For example, in several of his columns in the government daily Al-Ahram, Ahmad ‘Abd Al-Tawab criticized  Al-Azhar, stating that it is not implementing President Al-Sisi’s orders to promote the renewal of religious discourse in Egypt. He wrote: “Without beating around the bush, [I will say that] the religious institutions have not taken a single serious step in order to comply with President Al-Sisi’s call for a religious revolution… Over two years have passed since the president’s call [for this], which was welcomed by the members of Al-Azhar, but the [number of] days [that have passed since] proves that the flexibility that they showed [at the time] was [just] so that the wave [would pass over their heads] quietly…”[29]

In another article, Al-Tawab wrote: “Al-Azhar’s scholars hastened to welcome President [Al-Sisi’s] call for a revolution [in the religious discourse], but this was not translated into real action. Furthermore, for the [past] two years, [Al-Azhar’s] activity has been in the opposite direction – merciless attacks on anyone whose opinion is different without hesitating to use the weapon of accusing them of heresy, filing lawsuits that put several people behind bars [and that were] based on laws which are up for amendment to bring them into line with the new constitution, and so on…”[30]

On January 26, 2017, Muhammad Al-Baz, editor of the Egyptian government daily Al-Dustour, called on the Al-Azhar sheikh to resign. He wrote: “Political experience since 2011 has proven that Dr. Al-Tayeb is not the right person for the position of [Al-Azhar] Sheikh… I believe in the sincerity of Dr. Al-Tayeb’s intentions to keep Al-Azhar distant from political activity, but is he actually doing this?…

“He has immersed himself in political activity, entered into struggles, and sided with opinions that were not in the best interest of the state. He has given his protection to people wandering around his office who he knows very well support the MB, and he has defended them with all his might. Instead of complying with the call to renew the religious discourse, he has continued with his activity to obstruct this call…

“I demand that the Al-Azhar sheikh submit his resignation – out of affection [for him], not hatred, [and] out of concern for him, not disparagement of his capability… I entreat him to comply with what we are demanding of him, and not to listen to the entourage surrounding him that wants him to remain in office to serve its own interests.”[31]

The attack on Al-Azhar and its head Sheikh Al-Tayeb escalated greatly following the Palm Sunday terror attacks on the Mar Girgis church in Tanta and St. Marks Cathedral in Alexandria; many journalists felt that Al-Azhar was to blame for the attacks because of its refusal to accuse ISIS of heresy. On April 14, 2017, the Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ daily, whose board of directors is headed by Khaled Sallah who is close to the Al-Sisi regime, published an article titled “Why Does Al-Azhar Fear the War on Terrorism and the Renewal of Religious Discourse… Al-Tayeb Opposes ISIS’s Crimes, But Refuses to Accuse It Of Apostasy…”[31]

The article in Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’, April 14, 2017

Egyptian Writer: Al-Azhar Must Be Purged Of Extremism

Many articles stated that Al-Azhar is rife with clerics whose views are extremist. Sayyed ‘Abd Al-Magid, columnist for the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram, wrote that Al-Azhar has an extremist majority that is protected by the Egyptian establishment, and called for purging it: “It is true that there are also enlightened people [at Al-Azhar], but they are a minority, against the vast majority that has it in its power to threaten, accuse of heresy, and to grant indulgencesThey are protected by several apparatuses, and are hosted by the sick government media. For this reason, purging Al-Azhar has become essential and cannot be delayed… Even though I do not agree with MP Abu Hamed, I absolutely support his efforts to limit the term of Al-Azhar Sheikh [Al-Tayeb], as long as [Al-Tayeb] does not manage to rectify the distortions [and renew the religious discourse], so that he will give way to another, who perhaps will carry out his duties…”[33]

Egyptian Writer: Al-Azhar Is Refusing To Accuse ISIS Of Heresy – But Accuses The Copts Of Heresy

In her column in the Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm, Sahar Al-Ga’ara wrote that the Al-Azhar clerics who consider Christians to be infidels, such as Dr. Abdallah Rushdi,[34] actually reflect the position of Al-Azhar Sheikh Al-Tayeb. She said: “…Dr. ‘Abdallah Rushdi, a spoiled child of Al-Azhar, boldly danced on the blood of the victims [of the April 2017 terror attacks] at the Mar Girgis church in Tanta and St. Marks Cathedral in Alexandria… Rushdi did not deviate greatly from the Al-Azhar line, following in the path of the Grand Imam [Al-Azhar Sheikh Al-Tayeb], who had in the past expressed the same opinion, saying, ‘Yes, they [the Christians] are unbelievers because they do not believe in Muhammad or the Quran, and from this point of view they are considered unbelievers as far as I am concerned. But because I, as a Muslim, do not believe in the Holy Trinity or in Christianity as it is now, I [too] am considered by them to be an unbeliever…”[35]

“Al-Azhar does not accuse ISIS of heresy… but the Copts – they are like prisoners in a wounded homeland, who can be easily expelled from their homes, whose women are easily taken captive, whose churches can easily be blown up, who are easy to humiliate and remove from positions of leadership in the country [based on] the Islamic law [stating] ‘an unbeliever may not rule over a Muslim’…”[36]

Egyptian Writers: Al-Azhar Clerics Support The MB And Wahhabism

Numerous articles claimed that many Al-Azhar clerics are extremist and support the MB and Wahhabism. For example, ‘Ali Al-Fateh wrote in his column in Al-Masri Al-Yawm about the “spread of Salafi Wahhabism in Al-Azhar and outside it under the protection of the state apparatuses.” He added that Al-Azhar embraces Salafi-Wahhabi leaders and extremist ideology.[37]

Writer Khaled Montasser wrote in the Al-Watan daily: “We have said, reiterated, and clarified, again and again, that there is no rivalry and no battle against Al-Azhar as an historic entity, but [rather] with the Wahhabi stream that wants to hijack it.”[38]

Dandrawy Al-Harawy, acting editor of the government daily Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’, wrote: “‘Abbas Shuman, [Al-Azhar Deputy Sheikh and] the strong man among the clerics who control the administration of this institute, which the world regards as a beacon of moderate Islam, in not the only one who declared his sympathy for the MB and its president Muhammad Morsi. Apart from him there are four others, no less important and powerful than he…  as well as dozens of Al-Azhar University lecturers who are [MB] sympathizers and fans.”[39]

Also, Egyptian researcher Ahmad Abdou Maher stated, following the Palm Sunday church bombings, that the Salafis and Wahhabis had taken over Al-Azhar, and called for holding Al-Azhar accountable for its teaching of “depraved and criminal jurisprudence.” To see a MEMRI TV clip of his remarks, see:

(Video at the link. — DM)

Al-Azhar Rejects Criticism, Egyptian Writers Speak Out In Its Defense

Al-Azhar Sheikh Al-Tayeb, and Al-Azhar representatives rejected the accusations against the institute. In his weekly sermon on Egyptian television, Sheikh Al-Tayeb said that several media outlets were waging a campaign against Al-Azhar. There are elements acting deliberately to harm the roots of the nation, first and foremost Al-Azhar, he said, and noted that Al-Azhar is an element of stability in Egyptian society and in all Islamic societies. He said:

“The masses, not to mention the researchers and experts, feel that certain media outlets are waging a deliberate campaign against Al-Azhar. Those waging this campaign fall into two groups. [First,] the ones who know that what they are spreading in their programs on this [issue] is false and baseless, but [nevertheless regard] this as an opportunity to attract viewers and advertisers. In other words, they are guided by the financial criterion of [making a] profit… Every night [they] deceive public opinion, because when viewers constantly hear, on more than one program, that Al-Azhar’s curricula [spread] terror, and that Al-Azhar is the one cultivating terrorists, this [accusation] sticks in their mind… The second group that attacks Al-Azhar on certain media outlets is an organized and financed group which manufactures clashes between the ideological and religious values of societies [on the one hand] and the new material culture [on the other] in order to realize calculated plans that aim to destroy every authentic aspect of this umma, starting with Al-Azhar.”[40]

In other statements, during the April 26, 2017 “Religious Scholars of the East and West” conference at Al-Azhar, Al-Tayeb warned about the lies told by media that were linking terrorism to Islam and accusing Islam and Al-Azhar of being behind the two recent church attacks.[41]

Al-Azhar clerics rejected the claims that the institution’s curricula encourage extremism and violence. In an announcement, Al-Azhar’s Council of Senior Scholars stated: “The truth that is denied by the enemies of Islam, and also by the enemies of Al-Azhar, is that Al-Azhar’s curricula today are the same as yesterday…”[42]

Al-Azhar’s Council of Senior Scholars member Dr. Ahmad ‘Omar Hashem clarified that in Al-Azhar and its books there are no calls for extremism, violence, or terrorism, and that all the criticism of the institution is incorrect.[43]

Editor Of Egyptian Daily: Al-Azhar Cannot Possibly Be Blamed For The Spread Of Terrorism And Extremism

Defenders of Al-Azhar also made themselves heard in media outlets. Akram Al-Qassas, acting editor of the Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ daily which is close to Egyptian intelligence apparatuses, stated that Al-Azhar cannot be held responsible for terrorism because terrorism and extremism are the result of economic, social, and cultural circumstances from years past. He wrote:

“Understanding the principles that underpin the relation between Islam and the state may be a better solution than clashing with and attacking Al-Azhar and blaming it for terror and extremism. It is better to conduct an open and honest dialogue among all the political and cultural elements in society. All signs indicate that terrorism, sectarianism and hatred result from factors that have built up over decades for many reasons – political, economic, social, educational and cultural. Moreover, it is impossible to ignore [the role played by] exported ideas that originate in other societies whose religious and ethnic makeup differs [from those of our societies]…

“We must not place the blame for the hatred, sectarianism and terror on one side only. It is important to review the circumstances, the way in which ISIS and organizations of its ilk emerged, and the extent to which they are influenced by doctrines that are theoretically related to Islam but whose content [actually] has nothing to do with religion. Proof of this can be seen in Iraq, which for decades after gaining its independence maintained its religious and ethnic diversity, but sectarianism only broke out [there] after the American invasion…  All this brings us back [to the conclusion] that holding Al-Azhar responsible for extremism is an exaggeration and ignores the [real] reasons and motivations [for extremism]…”[44]

Egyptian Writer: Al-Azhar’s Status Is Phenomenal And It Should Be Supported

‘Imad Hijab, columnist for Al-Ahram, wrote that instead of criticizing Al-Azhar, people should support it, in light of the danger threatening Islam and its image in the world. He stated:

“The great Imam, the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, is held in the highest esteem by Sunni Muslims… all over the world, not only in Egypt…  as befitting  the great sheikhs of Al-Azhar who graced this honorable [institution] with their knowledge, experience, and humility…

“The current harsh criticism, and the hostile discourse of common citizens and the media, is directed at the role of Al-Azhar in general, not just at the Sheikh of Al-Azhar. It relates to the danger facing Islam and its image in the world with the increase in extremism and zealotry and the advent of organizations that spread terror and spill blood in the name of Islam, some of which are supported and funded by [various] countries and intelligence apparatuses. This great challenge requires [people] to support Al-Azhar instead of accusing it of exporting terror and terrorists.”

Alongside his defense of Al-Azhar, Hijab also criticized it and called on it to reform its curricula: “Al-Azhar must make an effort to fulfill its great and crucial role in meeting the needs of the hour, and present a program for renewing the religious discourse and the curricula so as to preserve the status of Islam.”[45]

 

* C. Meital is a research fellow at MEMRI.

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[1] The term “renewal of the religious discourse” was first coined by ‘Adly Mansour, acting president of Egypt (2013–2014)  following the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood regime in the country. It refers to rectifying the misunderstanding of the meaning of Islamic law in Egyptian society, in order to stop the spread of extremism and terrorism. For more on Al-Sisi’s call to Al-Azhar to advance the renewal of the religious discourse and the criticism of its failure to do so, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6114, Egyptian Columnists On Al-Sisi Regime’s Campaign For ‘Renewal Of Religious Discourse’ As A Way Of Fighting Terrorism, July 23, 2015; MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6549, Three Years Later: Egyptian President Al-Sisi’s Supporters Express Disappointment, Call His Regime Tyrannical, July 28, 2016; MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6585, ‘Al-Ahram’ Columnist: Despite Al-Sisi’s Call For Revolution In Religious Discourse, Al-Azhar Scholars Continue On Their Extremist Path, August 24, 2016. For more on Al-Azhar’s refusal to accuse ISIS of heresy, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5910, Al-Azhar: The Islamic State (ISIS) Is A Terrorist Organization, But It Must Not Be Accused Of Heresy, December 21, 2014. It should be noted that a recent statement by Muhammad Zaki, secretary general of Al-Azhar’s Supreme Da’wa Council, may indicate a change in the institution’s position on this matter. He said on April 14, 2017, in a response to a journalist’s question on the possibility of accusing two ISIS terrorists who blew themselves up at the churches in Tanta and Alexandria in April 2017, that a suicide bomber belonging to an extremist organization is an infidel if he believes that Islamic law permits this murder. He stressed that Al-Azhar issues accusations of heresy only based on certain principles and conditions, and added: “If he [the terrorist] considered the murder to be permitted, then he has committed heresy, and if he considers this an operation permitted by Islamic law, then he has committed heresy. If he thought this way and sacrificed his life for this, then he has committed heresy against that which was brought down to the Prophet Muhammad [i.e. the Quran]…”  For more on this, see Alarab.co.uk, April 17, 2017. It should be mentioned, however, that this was an isolated comment that has not so far been repeated by Al-Azhar officials. Moreover, Zaki himself said in a January 2017 interview that Al-Azhar cannot accuse ISIS of heresy. For more on this, see Albawabhnews.com, January 6, 2017.

[2] For more on the campaigns by Al-Azhar representatives with young people in the various provinces, see Al-Watan (Egypt), December 7, 2016; on the campaign titled “No to Violence, No to Blood” in cooperation with the Youth Ministry, see Al-Masri Al-Yawm, Egypt, December 14, 2016; on the international conference in Alexandria sponsored by Al-Azhar, see Al-Ahram, Egypt, January 21, 2017.

[3] Al-Watan (Egypt), January 1, 2015.

[4] Al-Misriyyoun (Egypt), December 1, 2016. This was Al-Sisi’s and Al-Tayeb’s fourth meeting that year, against the backdrop of internal struggles between Al-Azhar and the Ministry of Endowments. See Al-Misriyyoun (Egypt), December 2, 2016.

[5] Al-Ahram (Egypt), May 18, 2017.

[6] Al-Ahram (Egypt), June 22, 2017.

[7] Al-Ahram (Egypt), July 27, 2017.

[8] Rassd.com, April 10, 2017; Al-Misriyyoun (Egypt), April 19, 2017.

[9] Rassd.com, January 27, 2017.

[10] Rassd.com, January 24, 2017.

[11] Al-Watan (Egypt), February 6, 2017.

[12] Azhar.eg, February 5, 2017.

[13] Rassd.com, January 29, 2017.

[14] Al-Ahram (Egypt), February 27, 2017.

[15] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), February 11, 2017.

[16] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), May 8, 2017.

[17] Egypt.gov.eg.

[18] From reports and commentaries about the bill, it emerges that this clause is another restriction on the authority of the sheikh of Al-Azhar, who can no longer choose the imam for the mosque. For more information see soutalomma.com from May 3, 2017.

[19] Al-Shurouq (Egypt), April 24, 2017, Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), April 25, 2017.

[20] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), April 26, 2017.

[21] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), April 20, 2017.

[22] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), May 3, 2017, Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), May 9, 2017, Al-Shurouq (Egypt), May 9, 2017.

[23] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), April 30, 2017, May 3, 2017, August 3, 2017, Al-Shurouq (Egypt), May 8, 2017.

[24] Al-Shurouq (Egypt), May 15, 2017.

[25] Masralarabia.com, June 2, 2017.

[26] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), May 9, 2017.

[27] Following the Palm Sunday attacks on the churches in Alexandria and Tanta, Dr. ‘Abdallah Rushdi, an Al-Azhar scholar and the imam of the Al-Sayyida Nafisa mosque in Cairo, was interviewed on the TV show of Egyptian media personality Ahmed Moussa, who is close to the Egyptian regime, and stated that Christians are infidels. For more, see Al-Dustour(Egypt), May 22, 2017. In the interview, that was posted on the Al-Bawaba website, Rushdi expressed his opposition to the attack on Al-Azhar, and said that its graduates can fight extremist ideas. In answer to a question about why Al-Azhar does not accuse ISIS of heresy, Rushdi noted that their doing so would open the door to accusations against every thief or murderer, and then all of Egypt would be considered full of apostates. He also said that ISIS would turn this to its benefit and say that Al-Azhar is not adhering to Sunni custom. For more, see Albawabhnews.com, May 3, 2017. Following his anti-Christian statements, the Ministry of Endowments banned Rushdi from delivering sermons or teaching about religion. For more, see Al-Ahram, Egypt, May 16, 2017.

[28] Islam Behery is an Egyptian researcher and philosopher who was convicted of insulting religions and was released from prison by President Al-Sisi as part of a mass pardon of 82 prisoners. For more, see: Al-Hayat (London), November 17, 2016.

In a May 3, 2017 Egyptian TV show, acting Al-Azhar president Ahmed Hosni Taha called Behery an “infidel” and added that he had attacked the streams of Islam. The next day, in an apparent attempt to head off the attack in the Egyptian media that was sparked by Taha’s statement, the Al-Azhar sheikh fired Taha. However, the Al-Azhar spokesman did not explain the reason for his firing. Taha himself published an apology stating that he had not meant any offense and that his mistaken statement represented him alone, not Al-Azhar. Nevertheless, his apology did not convince Egyptian writers, who came out against his statements about Behery and cast doubts on the sincerity of his apology. For more see: Al-Misriyyoun (Egypt), May 4, 2017; rassd.com, May 5, 2017; Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), May 5, 2017; and also articles by Sahar Al-Ga’ara and Hamdi Rizq, columnists for the Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt, May 5, 2017.   

[29] Al-Ahram (Egypt), July 25, 2016. See also MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6585, Al-Ahram’ Columnist: Despite Al-Sisi’s Call For Revolution In Religious Discourse, Al-Azhar Scholars Continue On Their Extremist Path, August 24, 2016.

[30] Al-Ahram (Egypt), August 6, 2016.

[31] Al-Dustour (Egypt), January 26, 2017.

[32] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), April 14, 2017.

[33] Al-Ahram (Egypt), April 18, 2017.

[34] See note 27.

[35] It should be noted that websites identified with the Salafis in Egypt have quoted these statements by Sheikh Al-Tayeb without noting where he made them. See also Fath-news.com, December 19, 2016; Anasalafy.com, December 20, 2016.

[36] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), April 17, 2017.  Many Muslim scholars mentioned this principle, among them medieval Quranic exegete Ibn Al-Mundhir Al-Naysaburi (855-930), who wrote: “All the scholars who studied the Quran have agreed unanimously that an infidel may not rule over  a Muslim.” See dorar.net.

[37] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), April 15, 2017.

[38] Al-Watan (Egypt), April 18, 2017.

[39] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), April 16, 2017.

[40] Azhar.eg, April 21, 2017.

[41] Al-Ahram (Egypt), April 27, 2017.

[42] Rassd.com, April 19, 2017.

[43] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), April 20, 2017.

[44] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), April 21, 2017.

[45] Al-Ahram (Egypt), May 7, 2017.

MB Groups Increasingly Open in Endorsing Anti-Sisi Violence

August 16, 2017

MB Groups Increasingly Open in Endorsing Anti-Sisi Violence, Investigative Project on Terrorism, John Rossomando, August 16, 2017

 

A group of exiled Morsi-era Muslim Brotherhood politicians based in Istanbul has posted on Facebook a blueprint for overthrowing Egypt’s military regime. The Egyptian Revolutionary Council (ERC) reposted several videos on July 31 that it had released on Facebook over the past month offering strategies for violently toppling the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

Sisi rose to power in 2013, after the military ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government.

Until now the ERC, which met with Obama administration officials and liberal think tanks in 2015, has largely been involved in lobbying against Sisi’s government. An Arabic hashtag saying, “Preparing for the Revolution#,” appeared on the ERC’s Facebook page. The attached videos contain PowerPoint-type presentations with recommendations for Muslim Brotherhood revolutionaries in Egypt.

A July 1 ERC video asks, “How do we prepare for the revolution?” Egypt’s military holds all of the tools of power, so the video calls for Brotherhood supporters to block military movement to hinder it from suppressing any revolt.

“What do we do with the Army?? Like the Turks did,” the video says. “Determine the sites of all military units and the roads they use, and the locations of gates to hinder and cripple their movement when they think they are going out to confront the revolution.

“Like the Turks did using huge vehicles and deflating their tires to block the roads. We can use heavy oil on the roads to prevent the passage of [armored personnel] carriers like they did in Venezuela.”

Another video recommends targeting regime military airfields, ground defense units, pilot barracks, spare part warehouses, radar sites, and air defense installations. It emphasizes getting soldiers who either secretly belong to the Muslim Brotherhood or are sympathetic to the group to collect intelligence on pilots and navigators to keep them away from their aircraft. It also suggests gaining intelligence on the types of aircraft used by the Egyptian military and getting information about their takeoff schedules.

“The airfields must cease operating in the time of the revolution,” a slide says. “Blockading the pilots and preventing them form reaching the airfields is half the victory in the battle.”

The ERC enjoys little influence or name recognition within Egypt, but its turn toward endorsing violence puts egg on the faces of the Obama administration officials and the liberal intellectuals who embraced them, Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Samuel Tadros told the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

“Even the fronts created to talk to the West are now using the language of violence,” Tadros said. “The mask has fallen; there’s no need to pretend any longer.”

ERC members used talking points about democracy and the rule of law while speaking in English during their 2015 visit, Tadros said, but those points were noticeably absent when they spoke in Arabic.

Other exiled Muslim Brotherhood leaders also have called for violence recently on social media.

Senior Muslim Brotherhood leader Ashraf Abdelghaffar called on Brotherhood members to return to the jihadist traditions of the movement’s founder, Hasan al-Banna. A “Mujahid Brother” – a Muslim Brotherhood member who wages violent jihad – held the highest place of honor in the movement, Abdelghaffar argued in an Aug. 5 Facebook post.

“The only weakness that shall humiliate us is the love of this world and hating death,” Abdelghaffar wrote. “Therefore we have prepared your souls for great action. Strive for death – and life will be given to you. Know that there is no escaping death, and it will happen only once, and if you carry it out for the sake of God, there will be profit in this world and reward in the Afterlife, and nothing will harm you except what Allah has decreed. Work for an honorable death, you will be thus granted full happiness. May God provide us and you, the honor of achieving the martyrdom.”

This thinking, he wrote, reflected Al-Banna’s instructions.

“Imam Al-Banna talks about elevating the word of Allah and liberating the homelands,” Abdelghaffar wrote. “The summit of Islam is Jihad in the Way of Allah.”

Muslim Brotherhood-linked terrorist groups, such as the Revolutionary Punishment Movement (RPM), Popular Resistance Movement (PRM) and the Hassm Movement, have carried out attacks across Egypt since 2014 – sometimes in conjunction with ISIS Sinai Province. RPM and PRM were founded by Mohamed Kamal, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau who was killed last October in a gun battle with Egyptian police.

Kamal’s faction of the Muslim Brotherhood executive committee, also known as the “new guard,” decided to back away from the group’s prior public policy of endorsing peaceful resistance to the Sisi regime, George Washington University Muslim Brotherhood expert Mokhtar Awad noted in a July 26 Hudson Institute article.

The Brotherhood’s Shariah Committee published a book on a file sharing website in January 2015, The Jurisprudence of the Popular Resistance to the Coup, that offered a religious justification for a campaign of violence against the Sisi regime. The book acknowledged that the Muslim Brotherhood’s touted public support for non-violence was tactical rather than a matter of principle, Awad said, citing this passage:

“Peacefulness is not a fundamental of Islam or the group [Muslim Brotherhood], and special operations work does not mean total confrontation,” the book’s authors wrote. “‘May God grant us and you the honor of martyrdom’ … the Jihadi tendency settled as a doctrine in the foundation of Imam al-Banna’s methodology and the acculturation of the Muslim Brotherhood. Until it became a slogan they repeat day and night and on every occasion: ‘God is our objective, the Prophet is our leader, the Quran is our constitution, Jihad is our way, and dying in the way of God is our greatest hope.”

The Jurisprudence of the Popular Resistance to the Coup appeared around the same time as the Brotherhood’s official Arabic website, Ikhwanonline, posted a communiqué calling for “a long, unrelenting jihad.”

Peacefulness isn’t a fundamental tenet of Islam or the Brotherhood and that things can change. Magdy Shalash, one of Kamal’s top Muslim Brotherhood deputies, told the Turkish-based pro-Brotherhood channel Mekameleen TV. The Brotherhood leadership’s espousal of a non-violent slogan after the military toppled President Morsi did not apply to self-defense, he said.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s old guard, headed by Acting Supreme Guide Mahmoud Ezzat, still talks about peace, but the proliferation of violence and violent rhetoric shows it is losing control of the movement.

Dina Habiv Powekk: McMaster’s Huma Abedin

August 11, 2017

Dina Habiv Powekk: McMaster’s Huma Abedin, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, August 11, 2017

The media had agitated for Hijazi because it served its agenda of opposing Sisi and supporting the Brotherhood. Bringing Hijazi to the White House appeared to serve the same agenda. She was meant as an object lesson to Trump that the real bad guys weren’t the Brotherhood, but the Egyptian military.

Hijazi was escorted back from Egypt by Dina Habib Powell. And Habib Powell was there sitting opposite Ivanka and Jared at the meeting with President Trump. In the media, Powell is often associated with Ivanka. And indeed, Ivanka posed with Hijazi in a widely circulated photo. But she is also so much more.

Dina Habib Powell was an influential figure in the Bush administration. The Egyptian-American immigrant had served as a gatekeeper for George W. Bush. If you wanted a job, you went through her. Barely 30, Habib Powell had more power than many of the big Bush era names you do know.

The swamp is deeper than most understand or imagine. When you come to the city of government buildings and lobbyists, it’s all around you. And if you take a wrong step, it sucks you in. The real power doesn’t belong to the politicians you elect, but to bureaucrats and staffers, to the people who, like Huma Abedin or Dina Habib Powell, are talented at knowing the right people.

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The media dubbed her the Republican Huma Abedin. She’s been one of the most powerful women in two Republican administrations. She’s friends with Valerie Jarrett. And you’ve never heard her name.

Flash back to the spring of this year.

Cameras flashed as Aya Hijazi sat next to President Trump. Media reports described her as an imprisoned rescue worker who had been released from Egypt after administration intervention.

Aya Hijazi was also the photogenic face of a campaign against the post-Brotherhood Egyptian government. If you believed the stories, Hijazi had learned French and Spanish while in prison. Photos showed her reading Maya Angelou’s ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ behind bars. Snaps from that calculated photoshoot would be used to illustrate countless media sob stories about her plight in prison.

Mohamed Hassanein, her husband, received far less attention. As did the other arrested members of the Belady Foundation which had been accused of using street children in Muslim Brotherhood riots.

Aya’s cause was quickly taken up by all the usual suspects.

Hillary Clinton had met with President Sisi and called for Hijazi’s release. Rep. Gerry Connolly, the go-to guy for Muslim Brotherhood front groups, had blustered, “The Egyptian government mistakes American resolve.” Avril Haines, the former indie bookstore owner who had been appointed by Obama as Deputy Director of the CIA and Deputy National Security Advisor, despite having no relevant experience, met with Hijazi’s family and issued a statement demanding her release.

None of this meant that Hassanein and Hijazi were guilty of the charges. Politically they appeared to be closer to the left than to the Islamists. Hijazi hasn’t worn a hijab outside of her imprisonment.

But the larger question is whose interests were being served by bringing her to the White House?

In a PBS interview, Aya Hijazi challenged President Trump’s praise for Egypt’s leader. She accused him of keeping “thousands of wrongly imprisoned people” in prison. “It’s not just for fighting terrorism,” she insisted. And she made a point of correcting President Trump on the Muslim Brotherhood.

“It seemed like he had this idea that… it was at the time of the Muslim Brotherhood,” Hijazi said. “So, he was like, ‘So was your arrest — be at the time of the Brotherhood?’ And I said, no. And then he said, ‘Oh, it was at the time of Sisi.’ And he was taken aback. It seemed, like, different to what he had in mind.”

The media had agitated for Hijazi because it served its agenda of opposing Sisi and supporting the Brotherhood. Bringing Hijazi to the White House appeared to serve the same agenda. She was meant as an object lesson to Trump that the real bad guys weren’t the Brotherhood, but the Egyptian military.

Hijazi was escorted back from Egypt by Dina Habib Powell. And Habib Powell was there sitting opposite Ivanka and Jared at the meeting with President Trump. In the media, Powell is often associated with Ivanka. And indeed, Ivanka posed with Hijazi in a widely circulated photo. But she is also so much more.

Dina Habib Powell was an influential figure in the Bush administration. The Egyptian-American immigrant had served as a gatekeeper for George W. Bush. If you wanted a job, you went through her. Barely 30, Habib Powell had more power than many of the big Bush era names you do know.

Then she took on the mission of promoting America to the Muslim world at the State Department. There were cultural exchanges with Iran and money for Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority. Afterward it was off to make millions through philanthropy at the Goldman Sachs Foundation.

When President Trump took office, Avril Haines was replaced by K. T. McFarland at the National Security Council. McFarland had worked at the Pentagon under Reagan and her views on Islamic terror were forthright.  “Global Islamist jihad is at war with all of Western Civilization,” she said after the Charlie Hebdo attacks. She called for profiling terrorists and an end to the big lie of political correctness.

“They have launched a guerrilla war against us in our own neighborhoods. They shout ‘Allahu Akbar, The Prophet is Avenged.’ We’re still calling it ‘workplace violence,’ ‘senseless killings’ or ‘man-caused disasters.’ Our leaders insist these are criminal acts, not acts of war.”

Of the Muslim Brotherhood, McFarland correctly pointed out that, “The Muslim Brotherhood was the godfather of al-Qaeda. The number 2 guy in al-Qaeda was Muslim Brotherhood.”

When Flynn was forced out and McMaster took over, there was no room for her views at the NSC.

At an NSC meeting, H.R. McMaster insisted that Islamic terror had nothing to do with Islam. The use of “radical Islamic terrorism” was a mistake. McFarland was in attendance.

Before long, McMaster had pushed out McFarland and replaced her with Dina Habib Powell.

Habib Powell had all the right friends. Like Valerie JarrettArianna Huffington praised the White House for bringing her in. Her ex-husband heads up Teneo Strategy: the organization created by the same man who made the Clinton Foundation happen and which employed Huma Abedin.

You could see her posing next to Huma, Arianna and a Saudi princess. You can see her photographed at the American Task Force of Palestine gala. The ATFP was originally Rashid Khalidi’s American Committee on JerusalemKhalidi was the former PLO spokesman at the center of the Obama tape scandal. And Habib Powell was there as a presenter at the Middle East Institute after a speech by the PLO’s Hanan Ashrawi.

Unlike McFarland, Habib Powell had no national security background. But though her parents were Christians, she had the “right” views on Islam. In Egypt, she had described how Bush after September 11 had, “visited a mosque, took off his shoes and paid his respects.” “I see the president talk of Islam as a religion of peace, I see him host an iftar every year.” Habib Powell had attended such an iftar dinner.

While President Trump fights to restrict Muslim immigration, back in the Bush era, Habib Powell had bragged on CNN, “Over 90% of student visas are now issued in under a week, and that is in the Middle East.”

Habib Powell has been described as the Republican Huma Abedin. And she was quoted as saying that Abedin “feels a deep responsibility to encourage more mutual understanding between her beliefs and culture and American culture.”

Within a short time, Habib Powell became the Senior Counselor for Economic Initiatives, the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy and was being put forward as Chief of Staff. If Kelly doesn’t work out, the effort to move her up will resume. And then the gatekeeper will be back at the gate.

Dina Habib Powell is a deep part of the Republican establishment. Her top role at the NSC represents McMaster’s vision for our approach to Islam. And it’s an echo of the failed approach of the Bush years. Flynn made the NSC into a tool that matched Trump’s vision. McMaster is remaking it to match Jeb Bush’s vision.

The Hijazi stunt was the public manifestation of an effort to pull Trump away from President Sisi and guide him into the same old swamp of pushing democracy and political change in Egypt. There is worse taking place behind the scenes. The NSC purge of personnel who understand the threat of Islamic terrorism is not a mere political power struggle, it’s policy. McMaster is just the public face of it.

The swamp is deeper than most understand or imagine. When you come to the city of government buildings and lobbyists, it’s all around you. And if you take a wrong step, it sucks you in. The real power doesn’t belong to the politicians you elect, but to bureaucrats and staffers, to the people who, like Huma Abedin or Dina Habib Powell, are talented at knowing the right people.

When we talk about the swamp, it’s not an organization. It’s a way of life. If you’re not fighting the swamp all the time, if you don’t wake up resisting it and go to bed fighting free of it, you will drown in it.

Egypt goes about the task of reforming the religious rhetoric

July 29, 2017

Egypt goes about the task of reforming the religious rhetoric, Al ArabiyaMashari Althaydi, July 29, 2017

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi finally announced the establishment of the Egyptian supreme or national council for combating terrorism and extremism. 

This is an enlightening path and a blessed move. There is unquestionable determination to work and exterminate extremism that produces awful violence that targets markets, streets, schools, mosques, churches and airports. Terrorists are monsters who operate like zombies that rose from their dark graves.

The council is chaired by the president himself. Among the members are the parliament speaker, Al-Azhar Sheikh, the Coptic pope and state officials such as the education, awqaf, interior and intelligence ministers. The aim of the council is to set plans, execute them and supervise them.

All this is good and it’s rather a duty and a requirement. This is the work of the state and the society. We wish Egypt luck and success and we hope Muslims and the entire world succeed in winning over Islamized terrorism and the culture behind it.

Task before Al-Azhar

Previously, Sisi had informed Al-Azhar officials that religious reform is a must and said he will quarrel with them before God if they don’t achieve the task.

The determination and honesty of the responsible Muslim man, Sisi, are beyond doubt. However, the task of religious reform is not a military one which he can simply approve and it gets done. We wish it were so, as that would have been much easier.

The issue is also not just about Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Pakistan, Indonesia or Senegal. It is about defeating the culture of terrorism and extremism – and I emphasize extremism here. It is a global task that concerns all people considering the news about terrorism coming daily from across the world.

There are many Arabic, Islamic and even European initiatives and centers that work to confront Islamized terrorist cultures, whether Sunni or Shiite, on the ideological and media levels. It’s worth noting that Sunni ones are more than Shiites. The diversity of such work is of course good and beneficial.

My only note is that we focus on media and quantitative activity at the expense of qualitative and intellectual activity when the problem’s core is educational and not relevant to media activity.

I’ll be more frank and ask: Is there a serious and specialized discussion before politicians and media figures talk about concepts such as Sharia, governance, Caliphate, secularism, international law and its moral obligations, women’s rights etc.?

This is where we must begin, as late author Khalid Mohammed Khalid put it.

Egypt’s Sisi opens biggest military base in Middle East and Africa

July 23, 2017

Egypt’s Sisi opens biggest military base in Middle East and Africa, al-Arabiya,The Associated Press, July 22, 2017

“We can never forgive those who spend billions of dollars in support of terrorism to kill our people and then speak about brotherhood and neighborhood”.

Addressing terror sponsors, he said “killing innocent people will never go scot-free.”

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Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi launched Mohammed Naguib military base in a huge ceremony in El Hammam city west of Alexandria on Saturday.

Mohammed Naguib military base is the biggest in the Middle East and Africa, reported Egyptian media.

President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi underlined that the Arab participation in the inauguration ceremony of Mohammed Naguib military base is a cogent proof of Arab unity.

The president welcomed Arab guests who participated in the ceremony that also celebrated the graduates of colleges and military institutes.

Arab princes and ambassadors headed by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Bahrain, Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Prince Khalid Al Faisal, Emir of Mecca and Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Kuwaiti Minister of Defense and Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar the Libyan National Army commander attended the ceremony of opening the base which is named after late president Mohamed Naguib.

Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi launched Mohammed Naguib military base in a huge ceremony in El Hammam city west of Alexandria. (Screengrab)

Sisi stressed the importance of constructive cooperation to confront the challenges besetting the Arab nation.

President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi graduated new batches of the Armed Forces propped up by modern science and high-level training to be in charge of defending the nation.

He said the base was named after late Egyptian president Mohammed Naguib in honor of his patriotic efforts.

Sisi urged new graduates to be highly vigilant and ready for fighting in view of the watershed stage through which the region and whole world are passing.

Sisi said sacrificing for the nation’s security, stability and dignity is the duty of staunch sons of the nation.

He told the graduates that they are joining an ancient patriotic institution in charge of defending the nation, noting that Egyptians have always fully trusted their army.

The president paid tribute to Egypt’s martyrs of the Armed Forces and police who sacrificed their souls for their country.

He told the families of the martyrs that they sacrificed their sons to protect Egypt and confront terrorism and extremism, cautioning that terrorists are trying to affect the morale of the Egyptians.

As for states who interfere in the Egyptian affairs, President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi said these countries will never be able to harm Egypt or regional countries, adding that no country has the right to interfere in other countries’ affairs.

He highlighted that there are billions being spent to destroy countries, including Egypt.

Addressing Arab military graduates, he said we send a message to the world that Arabs join hands to build not to destroy, connive or foment sedition.

He said Egypt is now fighting in two battles; one for countering terrorism and the other for realizing socio-economic development.

Sisi said war tactics have changed and enemies resort to panicking people and spreading desperation in lieu of direct confrontations.

President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi expounded that terrorism is a multi-facet and complicated phenomenon, underlining the role of states and organizations that nurture and bankroll terrorism.

Mohammed Naguib military base is the biggest in the Middle East and Africa. (Screengrab)

Egypt will never forgive terror-funding countries

He added: “We can never forgive those who spend billions of dollars in support of terrorism to kill our people and then speak about brotherhood and neighborhood”.

Addressing terror sponsors, he said “killing innocent people will never go scot-free.”

He said, “Egypt will remain a peace-loving nation and will never kowtow to terrorist threats and those behind them.”

Sisi added that terrorism will never be a pretext to suspend economic reform and development as well as efforts to realize sustainable development.

“Terrorism, however, will be a catalyst for exerting more efforts at all levels” added the president of Egypt.

President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi urged people to bear the burdens of comprehensive economic development to reap its fruits which is a modern state and a dignified life.

For decades, the Egyptian economy failed to realize the optimal use of resources and economic crises piled up, but now the current generation has laid down strong foundations for a new modern Egypt whose people would enjoy prosperity and welfare.

The opening ceremony of Mohammed Naguib military base in Alexandria. (Screengrab)

He said the economic reform program is well examined, noting that Egypt is opening the door for all serious investors of Egypt, Arab or foreign states, creating jobs for youths and upping state revenues to realize a quantum leap in all services offered to people, especially health and education.

Sisi said he is sure that the Egyptians are aware of their high interests and they are adamant to proceed with economic reforms.

He voiced appreciation for the Egyptian people who understand the requirements of the economic reform program.

Egypt refers 292 suspects to military court for plotting Sisi assassination

July 10, 2017

Egypt refers 292 suspects to military court for plotting Sisi assassination, Al Arabiya, July 9, 2017

A handout picture released by the Egyptian Presidency on January 25, 2017, shows Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaking in a televised address commemorating the revolution, in the capital Cairo.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said that Egypt was “on the right track” six years after the uprising that overthrew Hosni Mubarak. AFP PHOTO / EGYPTIAN PRESIDENCY

Bayoumi admitted that his wife had offered to wear an explosive suicide belt to distract troops while the rest of the cell members focused on targeting Sisi. Investigations also revealed an attempt to target Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. A dentist, Ali Ibrahim Hassan, also admitted that Ahmed Bayoumi Tahawi and Mahmoud Jaber Mahmoud Ali were planning to target Sisi and Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, and that a woman called Dr. Mervat, Ahmed Bayoumi’s wife, was planning on blowing herself up as women are not being monitored at the time.

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Egypt’s public prosecutor has referred 292 defendants to a military trial for being accused of forming terrorist cells and involved in terrorist operations, including two attempts to assassinate the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

On November 20, 2016, Attorney General Nabil Sadiq transferred the case to the military prosecution, which in turn referred it to the military trial.

In November last year, the Supreme State Security Prosecution revealed investigations with the accused of the terrorist acts inside and outside the country, most notably assassination attempts on President Sisi’s life, one during Umrah in Saudi Arabia and the other in Egypt.

Investigations revealed that there are 292 defendants, including 151 who have been arrested who committed more than 17 terrorist attacks.

According to investigations, the defendants tried to assassinate Sisi in Mecca by placing a large quantity of explosives at the Swiss Hotel, where the cell leader Ahmed Bayoumi was monitoring al-Sisi. He was working at the Clock Tower and admitted that he recruited a number of other defendants, including a suspect identified as Hussein Mohamed who was responsible for monitoring the operation.

Investigations revealed that the defendants had bought explosives and placed them on the 34th floor of the hotel, thinking that Sisi would be staying there.

Bayoumi admitted that his wife had offered to wear an explosive suicide belt to distract troops while the rest of the cell members focused on targeting Sisi. Investigations also revealed an attempt to target Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. A dentist, Ali Ibrahim Hassan, also admitted that Ahmed Bayoumi Tahawi and Mahmoud Jaber Mahmoud Ali were planning to target Sisi and Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, and that a woman called Dr. Mervat, Ahmed Bayoumi’s wife, was planning on blowing herself up as women are not being monitored at the time.

Time for a Terrorism Accord, Not a Climate Accord

June 4, 2017

Time for a Terrorism Accord, Not a Climate Accord, PJ MediaRoger L Simon, June 3, 2017

(Another pleasing idea that won’t likely be tried and, if tried, won’t work. “America First” can work and, if given a chance, should. The Supreme Court is about to consider President Trump’s “Muslim ban” executive order. Perhaps recent events in Europe and England will push enough justices to reinstate it.That will at least be a step in the right direction. Please see also, Supreme Court Expedites Trump’s Petition on Executive Order Case. — DM)

[T]he recent Paris climate accord is not only based on bad or “cooked” Climategate science, it is a deliberate conscious/unconscious deflection from the genuine “present danger” in front of us.  It is no more than obfuscation allowing moral narcissists to feel good about themselves, virtue signaling about an environmental armageddon that hasn’t happened and may never happen while, in real life, people are actually murdered on London bridges and in Cairo churches.

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Yes, there’s a threat to civilization and it’s not global warming, manmade or otherwise.  And anyone who isn’t comatose should know what it is.

Islam, like cancer, needs a cure. And we all have to participate in the search for one before it’s too late.

Yes, this is about Islam, not “radical” Islam or some other off-shoot, real or imagined, because the tenets that have inspired the non-stop spate of terrorism across the world in recent years are spelled out clearly in sections of the Koran and the Hadith and other holy works of Islam. They provide justification for ISIS and a hundred other groups that may or may not replace them, now and in the future. This cannot continue — unless we really do want to destroy ourselves.

To be clear, this is not about bad people (many Muslims are fine human beings), but about a malignant ideology from the seventh century that must be expunged for the survival of all.

But the majority of Western leaders don’t want to know that.  In fact, I’d wager that most have not even bothered to educate themselves in any serious way about Islam nearly sixteen years after 9/11 and with all the constant carnage that has gone on since and has been increasing significantly, not just in London and Manchester but virtually everywhere.

These Westerners are not only willfully blind, they are suicidal.  But we cannot let them commit suicide for the rest of us.  They have to go.

Similarly, the recent Paris climate accord is not only based on bad or “cooked” Climategate science, it is a deliberate conscious/unconscious deflection from the genuine “present danger” in front of us.  It is no more than obfuscation allowing moral narcissists to feel good about themselves, virtue signaling about an environmental armageddon that hasn’t happened and may never happen while, in real life, people are actually murdered on London bridges and in Cairo churches.

What we need now is an international terrorism accord — and, unlike the climate accord, a binding one — that would commit the world, including the Muslim nations themselves, to the complete reformation of Islam that is the necessary basis for an end to this terrorism.

President Trump made a good start in Riyadh in his address to the Sunni leaders, but we must go much further.  It is correct that the Islamic world should be the ones to change their religion, but the rest of us on the planet are too affected by the results to stand by and wait.  From the horrifying (London this weekend) to the daily (the constant of indignity of being scanned at airports, concerts, museums, etc.), we are all victims of Islamic ideology.  We have a right, indeed an obligation, to participate in and demand its change. Otherwise, it will only get worse.

Since Trump had the courage to open the discussion in Saudi Arabia, he should attempt to expand the dialogue and create this global accord. Egypt’s el-Sisi would be a good partner because he already had the guts to criticize his own religion.  All should be invited, even those who would never come (like the mullahs).  All must confront the question of why Islam, unique among the world’s religions today, has so much violence committed in its name. What is it about Islam that attracts this?  What therefore has to be changed, both in behavior and ideology?

The event should be public, with Islam ultimately made to pledge itself to human rights as accepted by the West — equal rights for women and homosexuals, separation of church (mosque) and state, no discrimination based on race or religion (why no churches allowed in Saudi Arabia?), etc. — not the absurd Orwellian version of human rights promulgated the UN Human Rights Council.

This demand should be made to all quarters of the Islamic world with economic punishment applied if necessary.  The time for diplomatic politesse is long over. Islam must be forced to join modernity. Reactionary multiculturalists among us must be ignored, along with their hypocritical (and nonsensical) belief that all religions are equal.  To do otherwise would be to treat Muslim people like children.  And that is what the West has been doing for some time — with atrocious results for all.