May 22, 2015 |
If you were looking for an Egyptian who could help his country fulfill the lost promise of the Arab Spring - some day - you couldn't do better than Emad Shahin, an internationally renowned and liberal scholar who studies political Islam. So why was this mild-mannered academic sentenced to death in absentia Saturday in a Cairo court? The answer lays bare the misguided policies of Egypt's new autocratic government, led by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, which is trying to muzzle all domestic critics in the name of fighting terrorism.
June 27, 2014 |
This week, Secretary of State John Kerry rightly criticized an Egyptian court's conviction of three international journalists with Al Jazeera English on blatantly fake charges cooked up for political reasons. But Kerry failed to mention the equally grim case of an idealistic young American held without trial for nearly a year in Cairo's horrendous jails. Mohamed Soltan was arrested in August for trying to document the Egyptian military's undemocratic crackdown on dissent after last summer's coup.
February 24, 2014 |
As a wave of protests against government corruption and misrule rolls from country to country, nervous autocrats are using the same formula to crush dissent. From Russia, to Ukraine, to Venezuela, to Egypt, and beyond, there are copycat crackdowns: Arrest opposition leaders on absurd charges, hold show trials, beat - or sometimes shoot - protesters, and silence media that challenge the government's message. Then blame a foreign conspiracy for all that has gone wrong. This formula kept many dictators in power in the 20th century.
February 3, 2014 |
For those who think the failures of the Arab Spring prove the Mideast is unsuited to democracy, Jordan's Marwan Muasher begs to differ. A scholar and statesman who's long been a voice for tolerance in the Arab world, Muasher argues - in his important new book, The Second Arab Awakening and the Battle for Pluralism - that it's too soon to judge the outcome of the Arab upheavals that began in 2011. He says: "The Arab world never operated in a culture of democracy, so you can't expect a transformational process in three years.
January 27, 2014 |
This weekend marks the third anniversary of the Tahrir Square revolt in Egypt. It's hard to recall the incredible exhilaration of those days, which I witnessed firsthand: Facebook-savvy activists rallied millions to the square with calls to end police brutality and oust a military-backed dictator. In 36 months, the counterrevolution has come full circle. Several key leaders of the Jan. 25, 2011, protest, including the April 6 movement cofounder Ahmed Maher, have been sentenced to three years in jail - at hard labor.
December 16, 2013 |
CAIRO - It isn't easy being a senior lawyer for Egypt's deposed president, the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi. A respected jurist and former member of Egypt's upper house of parliament, Mohamad Tosson was clearly frustrated, as he talked to me over tea in a dim hotel lobby. He has been permitted to see Morsi only once since the military ousted and jailed him in July, after huge anti-Morsi protests. "His lawyers need to discuss the case with him, but they don't allow it," he told me. "They don't permit him family visits, or even to see his son. " "They" means the military.
December 13, 2013 |
CAIRO - Nearly three years ago, in the heyday of the Arab Spring, Tahrir Square was adorned with banners of youths killed by security forces. Hawkers sold T-shirts imprinted with their faces. Those banners are long gone, and this year vendors are selling T-shirts emblazoned with the face of Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the army leader who oversaw the July ouster of Egypt's first elected president, the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi. Sisi's mien is on posters and fancy chocolates, and - in a Photoshopped pic on the Internet - has even been strategically imprinted on a pair of men's briefs.
December 9, 2013 |
CAIRO - There is something sadly appropriate about arriving in the Mideast on the weekend when the world is mourning Nelson Mandela. Mandela was a visionary who managed to reconcile a long-repressed black majority with the white minority that had ruled them. His name became synonymous with forgiveness, in this case of the new black rulers toward fearful whites. The absence of such visionary leaders is the reason the Arab Spring has turned out so badly. In Egypt, former President Mohammed Morsi won a historic election but was unable to transcend his roots in the secretive Muslim Brotherhood, which terrified more moderate Muslims and Christians.
October 18, 2013 |
Should America still be trying to promote democracy abroad - especially when its own is so dysfunctional? This question has been nagging at me since the Obama administration announced a partial freeze on military aid to Egypt last week. The aim: to (belatedly) display U.S. displeasure over the Egyptian military's bloody ouster of an elected president in July. (The aid will be restored if Egypt makes progress toward an "inclusive" elected government.) The cutoff was avidly pushed by both Republican and Democratic members of Congress (even as they were sliding toward a possible debt default)
September 27, 2013
A RELIGIOUS minority is being persecuted, driven from their homes, robbed, raped, murdered. From all the faux Islamophobia hysteria, you'd think it was Muslims. It's Christians, under a death sentence in parts of the Muslim world. Not in every Muslim country, but in too many. The world remains remarkably, willfully blind and mute as the faithful of the world's largest religion are blown apart by followers of the world's second-largest religion. Precise Christian persecution "figures are hard to come by," says Kiri Kankhwende, spokesman for Christian Solidarity Worldwide, in the United Kingdom.