Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

Archive for the ‘Egypt’ Category

La “résistance” à petit prix

Posted by worriedlebanese on 08/06/2010

Deux petits exemples d’attitudes pseudo-résistantes: un égyptien et deux libanais.

Le Conseil d’Etat Egyptien a jugé en faveur de la déchéance de nationalité des Egyptiens mariés à des Israéliennes. Cette décision pourrait concerner jusqu’à 27 000 personnes. Elle s’appuie sur deux idées: la présomption que toute juive est sioniste (ce qui n’est pas évident dans ce cas sachant que ces Israéliennes ont tout de même épousées des Egyptiens musulmans), et que ceci pose un problème au niveau de la loyauté puisque “un sioniste ne peut être loyale à l’Égypte et au monde arabe » (et cela en dépit du fait que l’Egypte a signé la paix avec Israel en 1979).  La décision du Conseil d’État reconnaît une exception: elle ne s’applique pas aux Égyptiens mariés à des Israéliennes arabes. L’argumentaire derrière l’exception est que les “Arabes de 1948″ ont subi cette nationalité, et ne peuvent pas par conséquent être considérés comme des sionistes. Etrange attitude, et perception, venant d’un pays qui a conclu la paix avec Israël, qui s’est engagé depuis trois décennies à normaliser ses relations avec son voisin, et qui coopère avec le gouvernement israélien sur plusieurs plans, notamment dans la politique d’enfermement de Gaza (pour satisfaire des intérêts égyptiens).

Plusieurs photos commencent à circuler du premier acte de l’embarquement du commando Israélien. Celui dans lequel les manifestants ont capturé quelques soldats israéliens. Dans une des images, on voit un soldat Israélien manifestement blessé, choqué et humilié pleurer. Et sur le site de tayyar.org, j’ai remarqué plusieurs commentaires sous la photos se moquant des larmes du soldat et mettant en doute son courage et sa masculinité. Pathétique non?
Cette attitude rejoint celles de nombreux manifestants qui applaudissent à Beyrouth et à Rabieh (siège de l’ambassade de Turquie) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan alors qu’ils étaient totalement absents au moment de Nahr el Bared, lorsque le conflit entre l’Armée et Fateh el-Islam a conduit à la destruction du camp, à des pillages, à des “dommages collatéraux” et au déplacement de la population civile qui d’ailleurs n’a toujours pas été autorisée à rejoindre le camp et à rebatir.

Posted in Civil Society, Culture, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Palestinians, Prejudice, Version Francophone | 6 Comments »

How they helped defeat Farouk Hosny (the story)

Posted by worriedlebanese on 23/09/2009

The nine original candidates. Housny is the second guy from the left (with dyed hair)

The 9 original candidates. Housny is second from left

Before delving into the analysis, let’s set the record straight. I won’t be looking into the dirty politics behind these elections. I do have some crusty insider information on some dirty play, but it’s closer to gossip than meaningful information, and strictly off topic. What we’ll be looking into is the public debate that surrounded these elections. I believe it had an incidence on the final outcome: Irina Bokova’s election to the post of Director General of UNESCO. But there is no way to prove this fact.

Interestingly enough, the reasons behind Farouk Hosny’s defeat are not of much interest. They will leave no trace in the public conscience. On the other hand, the fierce debate surrounding this election will undoubtedly mark those who feel envolved in the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Let’s start with a quick look at the five rounds that brought Farouk Hosni to his defeat. If you’re interested in more details, check out this blog.

  • Results of the 5 rounds

    Candidate Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5
    Farouk Hosny 22 23 25 29 27
    Irina Bokova 8 8 13 29 31
    Benita Ferrero-Waldner 7 9 11 0 0
    Ivonne Baki 7 8 9 0 0
    Ina Marciulionyte 3 4 0 0 0
    Alexander Yakovenko 7 3 0 0 0
    Noureini Tidjani-Serpos 2 2 0 0 0
    Sospeter Muhongo 1 1 0 0 0
    Mohammed Bedjaoui 0 0 0 0 0
    Blank 1 0 0 0 0
    Total 58 58 58 58 58

As the figures clearly show, Farouk Hosni was the leading contestant up to the fifth round. His candidacy was supported by the Arab League, the African Union, and the Organization for the Islamic Conference. It was backed by France and unopposed (though grudgingly) by Israel. So what happened? If you’re interested in geopolitics, check out what Stephen Suleyman Schwartz had to say about it. I’d rather look into one campaign that picked up speed and was given more media attention than any other story in these elections: that of Bernard-Henri Lévy (alias BHL, alias BHV) relayed on the net through Save Unesco!, a blog started by “French students in political science” that was deleted earlier today (but here is the cached copy). Much can be said about Bernard-Henri Levy and the anonymous group of French students, but I will focus on the issues that they raised, and they are identical. Instead of supporting one specific candidate, they attacked the Egyptian candidate on three main issues

  • Antisemitism. This accusation springs from a misquoted statement on burning Israeli books found in Egyptian libraries (a statement Farouk Hosny later apologised for in his “message to the world“). BHL reinterpreted this statement as a vow “to burn with his own hands any book in Hebrew that could have possibly infiltrated the stacks of the Alexandria Library”.
  • An alleged involvement in the Achille Lauro Hijacking affair.  
  • Responsibility as Minister of Culture (for over two decades) in the crackdown of liberties and freedom of expression in Egypt.

So, is Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace price laureate, right when he says “UNESCO has escaped a scandal, a moral disaster. Mr. Hosni did not deserve the job he does not deserve this honor  tomorrow”. Can we agree with BHL when he says “We have won. Liberty has won. Tolerance has won. And thanks to all of you, respect has won. I’d like to thank you, net surfers, for engaging in this battle for democracy and peace. Thanks to all who refused the unacceptable and who allowed for this beautiful victory”. That’s what we’ll be looking into tomorrow.

Posted in Antisemitism, Blogosphere, Civil Society, Communication, Conspiracy, Culture, Democracy, Egypt, Geopolitics, Israel, Political behaviour, Semantics, Values | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Obama speech to Muslims: beyond a rhetorical shift

Posted by worriedlebanese on 05/06/2009

Indonesia Obama MuslimsI read Obama’s Cairo speech twice yesterday and just viewed to it on Youtube, from beginning to end; and it still had the same effect on me. Between the time I read it, and the time I saw it, I had skimmed through many editorials commenting it. But this hadn’t altered my views on it. It is by far one of the most impressive PR stunts that I have ever witnessed. Barak Obama had succeeded in extending to the Muslim communities worldwide the message he gave to Americans during the presidential campaign. He sold them “change they could believe in”.

Many things could be said about the American President’s speech in Egypt, and indeed, many things have been said about it. However, what seems to be extremely important is the liberal approach that he has espoused to discuss Islam. Instead of referring to the Muslim World or addressing Muslim countries, Obama preferred to talk on one hand about Islam as a religion, one that should be treated in the very same way other religions are treated, and on the other hand about “Muslim-majority countries”. Now this expression is rather new to me. It’s obviously  preferable  to the expression “Muslim countries”, because it insists that the “muslim” character comes from the fact that the population is mostly muslim, it’s not a character of the state. Furthermore, the expression “muslim majority” hints that there could be a non-muslim minority in those countries… This expression is undoubtedly a non-essentialist and liberal one. It reflects the way religion is seen in America: it is recognised as an important social feature, but one that doesn’t have a direct tie with the government because of the principle of separation of church and state (first amendment: establishment clause and freedom of religion).

Posted in Egypt, Identity, Intercommunal affairs, Middle East, Reform, Religion, Semantics, Values | Leave a Comment »

Gaza… Closed zone

Posted by worriedlebanese on 05/03/2009

Well, there’s a first time for everything. Up to now, I had never inserted a youtube video in this blog. I didn’t see the point of it. But how can you resist Yoni Goodman’s short film “Closed Zone”. I discovered it on Haaretz’s website. For anyone reading this blog, and interested in the Middle East, you should check out this Israeli paper as often as possible. I believe it is by far the best daily in the Middle East. Sure it has its biases, it is after all an israeli rather judeo-centric and left leaning newspaper. But you’ll probably find in its pages the best reporting and analysis on the conflict.

As for the film, it’s really worth the click, and it only runs a minute and a half. Yoni Goodman created it for the Israeli NGO Gisha devoted to the freedom of movement.  He is no other than the animator of “Waltz with Bashir”.

I would have preferred a slightly more condensed version of the clip, without the final frames in which the bird is caged. They are rather redundant and the message is quite clear without them.

Posted in Egypt, Israel, Palestinian territories, Palestinians, Security, Violence | Leave a Comment »

Egypt closes Rafah border

Posted by worriedlebanese on 04/02/2008

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How said it was to hear that the Rafah border was closed again; that the inhabitants of Gaza were once again walled in their strip. When I saw the images of the Egyptian army pushing the Palestinian back with water-cannons, setting up a barbed-wire fence, patrolling the border areas to catch the “fugitives” still wandering free in Egyptian lands. As I watched those pictures I started to feel the anger Islamists throughout the world were feeling as they watched the same pictures. I started to understand how this fueled their general mistrust of the West that was applauding such a measure and their hate of the Arab regimes for not only failing to condemn it but openly supporting it.  It was like watching the West German army in 1989 sealing off the Berlin Wall again, claiming that if it did not do so, it would be breaching the quadripartite agreement between the WW2 allies and that this lack of reaction could be interpreted as a casus belli by Democratic Republic of Germany or the USSR!! Does one have the right to transform a district home to 1.5 million souls into a roofless prison? To condemn all its inhabitants to economic underdevelopment? To kill all hope for a brighter future?  

Posted in Egypt, Palestinian territories, Palestinians, Political behaviour, Violence | Leave a Comment »

Accusations of espionnage and their political use

Posted by worriedlebanese on 28/02/2007

mhmd-attar.jpgAs regular as clockwork, every couple of year Egypt offers the world a highly mediatised court case featuring three basic ingredients: scandal, sex and the West (or something similar, ie Israel). In 2004, the Azzam Azzam case finally came to an end when the Egyptian authorities released the Druze Israeli citizen in a “swap” operation with the Israeli government (against six Egyptian students). It all started in 1996 when Azzam was inprisoned and later tried for spying of being an Egyptian spy later tried for industrial espionage: using women’s underwear soaked in invisible ink to pass information to Israel’s. Even his lawyer risked disciplinary action for defending an Israeli spy.

Today, Mohammed al-Attar’s trial resumed. He was arrested at the airport on New Years day, charged of being a Mossad agent. A Canadian newspaper published a transcript of his confession (probably exerted through torture) in which he admits having recruited gay or impoverished Arabs in Canada (where he works as a waiter) for Mossad.
Here again, we find the same ingredients: sex and espionnage… and all for the account of Israel.
This says a lot about Egypt’s attitude towards Israel almost 27 years after Camp David (in which it signed peace with Israel). In three years time, Egypt would be at “peace with Israel” for longer than it had been at war, but just like war, peace can be strickingly cold.
In fact, it is so hard for the government to morally defend this political choice that it doesn’t even try to do so. On the contrary, every couple of years it organises a judicial and media circus in which it shows how morally reprehensible Israel is: using Arabs to spy on Egypt. But the Arabs it uses are not ordinary Arabs. The authorities deem it important for the public not to identify with them. They are presented as belonging to a minority (religious or sexual) and are portrayed as being perverts (writing on women’s underwear or being homosexual).
Actually, not only Egypt is not doing anything to promote peace culture and normalise relations with Israel, but it is encouraging a vicious anti-Israeli attitude in the media and in its society. On another hand, it hasn’t made much to support or help the Palestinians. What example or model is that for Peace?

Posted in Conspiracy, Egypt, Israel, Middle East, Politics | Leave a Comment »

 
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