Archive for January, 2013


Those who took to the streets of Egypt two years ago could not at the time see except a dream of the society they want to live in. This dream blinded them to the presence of a group that took advantage of them to achieve its own goals and not those of the people who staged the revolution. Now, when they stand and look around, don’t they feel they have been deceived?

What do we have now in Egypt after two years have passed since those who dreamt of change took to the streets? What we have now is the same old equation, only with a change in its components. Those who ruled are now in prison or in the opposition while the factions of political Islam, which constituted the main opposition bloc in the past 60 years under the leadership of its biggest group, are now in power and maintaining the tactics of the old regime. This group stole the dream of Egyptian average citizens who thought that the slogan they used will turn into a reality only to find out that it was just used as a tool of political victory on the part of the group. It is all over now, as one of the youths who took to the streets two years ago noted. The “freedom and justice” in the slogan were stolen by this group when it named its political party.

  It is a big mistake to assume that the new rulers will offer any concessions or give precedence to the nation over the group, for their ideology does not make of the homeland a first priority   Abdel Latif al-Menawy
Lack of trust
Two years later, lying has become the norm. The new rulers have been lying from day one and continued to do so for two whole years. Lying has become a system of governance and a style of life. There are several examples to demonstrate that starting from the first constitutional declaration to deceiving youths several times then the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, then vowing to compete for only one third or half the seats of the People’s Assembly and not to compete for the presidency, let alone the talk about NASA and accusing us of understanding nothing. All this was before coming to power and when they did, lying became a virtue they practice all the time. The rulers lie and do not keep any of the promises they make to the people, who no longer believe them is if they have accepted the status quo.

The new rulers have adopted a bullying approach for the past two years and examples are too many to be listed here. The problem is that large portions of the people starting adopting the same approach as part of their daily lives. Why wouldn’t they? Isn’t this the common behavior of the rulers?

A few months after coming to power, the new rulers managed to undermine all the people’s dreams and nothing will stand in their way, for they are determined to seize control on all the state legislative and executive powers and even the judiciary is not safe from their grip. They drafted a constitution that guarantees that they remain in power and they threatened to hunt down all forms of opposition through the deformed laws they will pass. They will especially target the media, start filing a series of complaints and lawsuits against the opposition, and restructure al-Azhar so that it can be fully controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Economy is another disaster. The local currency is collapsing, reserves in the Central Bank are deteriorating, and tourism is falling apart. Furthermore, Egyptian businessmen are running away and foreign ones, except a certain nationality of course, are warned of coming to Egypt. This tactic aims at establishing a new businessmen class made up of the Brotherhood’s allies and making easy profit while completing the plan to get hold of all the state’s institutions. They will take Egypt to a stage where the utmost hope of Egyptians would be getting a loan or securing an aid.


It is a big mistake to assume that the new rulers will offer any concessions or give precedence to the nation over the group, for their ideology does not make of the homeland a first priority. Their allegiance transcends national boundaries or so they think.

A friend once told me that the real problem is that they stripped us of the ability to dream.

Two years ago, people took to the streets with big dreams that were aborted and with a slogan that only remained in the name of the ruling party. This is where “freedom” and “justice” went. As for “bread,” each citizen will get three loaves as per the new rulers’ plan.


It is totally fine for people to take back their words or actions, but they have to be brave enough to admit they were wrong and to call upon others—especially followers—not to make the same mistake again. This applies to the Egyptian president who retracted statements he made three years ago following the objection of his allies the Americans.

The story goes back to a few days ago when the United States strongly condemned anti-Israeli statements Mohamed Mursi made in 2010 before he became president of Egypt and in which he described Israelis as “the offspring of apes and pigs” and called for supporting “all forms of Palestinian resistance against Zionist criminals.” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland described Mursi’s remarks as “deeply offensive” and noted that they “should be repudiated and they should be repudiated firmly.” Nuland urged Mursi to prove to his people and the International Community that he respects all religions and added that such rhetoric does not become a democratic country. I could hear her tone as she raised her eyebrows and waved her index finger menacingly. The Muslim Brotherhood could not afford to upset their ally, thus Mursi declared “courageously” that his words, said following the Israeli aggression on the Gaza strip, were taken out of context and stressed his full respect for all religions and for freedom of faith as was made clear in the presidential statement issued following the president’s meeting with a Congress delegation headed by Senator John McCain.

   I am calling upon the person who made them to courageously admit either the real stance he [Mursi] and the Muslim Brotherhood and their followers adopt or how mistaken they had been for all those years   said Abdel Latif al-Menawy

Mursi not misunderstood
The Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which dug up the interview Mursi made with al-Quds channel and which contained the controversial remarks, seemed to have been offended when Mursi said his words were taken out of context, a response that questions the institute’s credibility, so it decided to post another video in which the president echoes the same views.

Fellow journalist Osama Saber unearthed an article Mursi wrote on the Muslim Brotherhood’s official website on January 10, 2009, that is around 10 years before the controversial video, and in which he made similar remarks.

The article demonstrated that his use of the expression “offspring of apes and pigs” was not a matter of coincidence.

“People have to condemn Zionist brutality… and we tell Palestinians that we support them and that God has chosen them to protect al-Aqsa Mosque and to defend Islam and the Arab world against the Zionist herds, the offspring of apes and pigs.”

‘judge him by what he says’

It will be absurd if Mursi reiterates his previous excuse about his statements being taken out of context because it is very clear now, as demonstrated by both MEMRI and Saber, that Mursi was beating around the bush.

We are all aware that those statements were not taken out of context and that this discourse is very common among a large number of clerics and members of Islamist groups. Apart from the remarks themselves, I am calling upon the person who made them to courageously admit either the real stance he and the Muslim Brotherhood and their followers adopt or how mistaken they had been for all those years. It should not stop at that. He also has to ask Brotherhood members and all his supporters to stop using this language if he really believes it was wrong as he said in the shy statement he issued to please the Americans, who in turn see that Mursi has so far passed all tests they gave him. He and his group are expected to pass all the coming tests because it is only power they are after and for that they will always fare well.

I would like to conclude with another statement made by Nuland: “But we’ll also judge him by what he says.”

election_2389340bBy ABDEL LATIF EL-MENAWY

All the regional systems in the Middle East are collapsing or on the verge of its destruction.

The rebel movements and revolutions, political fires and armed confrontations in the region, raise many questions about whether the region is preparing itself to redraw the political borders and change powers, or if the process has already started. As I have previously mentioned in my last article, the future of the region depends on the result of the outcome of the Egyptian situation.

If the Islamists were able to tighten their grip not just on power, but also on the joints and mind of the country, and its society, this would mark the collapse of the entire region. On the other hand, if the voice of civilization and rationality is able to find a place guaranteeing some stability in the society, even if it doesn’t take the reins for the moment, this will give a glimmer of hope that the region might be able to find a formula to avoid the collapse and catch up with modernity.

Apocalypse not quite yet?

Posted: January 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

Abdellatif ElmenawyBy ABDEL LATIF EL-MENAWY

The American magazine Newsweek chose this title, without the question mark, as part of its evaluation of the developments in the Middle East where Islamist factions have knowingly or unknowingly become the means of dividing the region. Those factions, whose ultimate dream was to seize power and take control, are doing this job in the best way possible and without bothering about the price people and countries have to pay.

According to the magazine, Egypt is still the country that inspires hope in the Middle East despite all the challenges it is facing following the coming to power of Islamists. The article accords this to the notion that it is the only power in the region that is capable of leading the Arab world to a democratic future. What the magazine missed is the fact that Egypt’s real power does not lie in the ruling clique, but rather in the Egyptian culture and which was formed by consecutive eras of communities and religions that passed by and settled on its land. Egypt has never been owned by a specific group even if it seems to be controlled by it for a while. Egypt is defined by those layers of personality, as espoused by the late Egyptian thinker and political analyst Milad Hanna.

The real challenge facing those who believe in what I believe is managing to preserve the authentic components of the Egyptian personality. True, many have abandoned their values or are about to do so, but a few will remain determined to keep Egypt as we knew it and as we want to be. Those will have a difficult job ahead of them, but it is through them that Egypt can become a civilian country that respects all its citizens without discrimination on a religious or ethnic basis, that is ruled by law, and that believes in freedom and creativity. When this happens, we will make sure that, like the Newsweek said, apocalypse is not here yet. Otherwise, we are only left with doubt.

  Several parties in the West, especially in the media, are now realizing they were mistaken when they supported Islamists   Abdel Latif al-Menawy
Western stance change
Several parties in the West, especially in the media, are now realizing they were mistaken when they supported Islamists

Even though Western powers supported the coming to power of Islamist factions in the “new” Middle East, many of them are now reconsidering their stances after seeing the behavior of the new ruling party. This was demonstrated in a question that was posed during the American electoral campaigns about why the U.S. lost Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt, which mirrors the concerns of American and Western policy-makers about their previous decisions.

After the Muslim Brotherhood managed to get hold of the presidency through the narrow victory—a few thousand votes—their man scored, they started thinking of the elections as a gambling game in which the winner takes it all and no one else is allowed anything. Consequently, they started usurping everything as if they were dividing booties, a behavior that was seen as “too blatant” by several Western powers. The Brotherhood and the president confirmed those concerns when they undermined the independence of the judiciary following their attempts to subjugate the Armed Forces. All the world acknowledges the ability of the Brotherhood and its president to maneuver, but at the same time realizes that their power is derived from the state of division from which civilian and liberal forces are suffering.

The regional system in the entire Middle East is collapsing or is on the verge of collapsing. Revolutions, political struggles, and armed conflicts make speculations rife about whether the borders—meaning political borders or spheres of influence—in the region are to be re-demarcated.

Several parties in the West, especially in the media, are now realizing they were mistaken when they supported Islamists. The current situation in the region, especially in Syria, proves that former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was wrong when she said that civil war in Syria could be the last chapter. Civil war, on the contrary, is just another chapter of the disintegration of the Middle East and while regional and international powers are vying for influence at the expense of the corpses of Syrian children, extremist and Qaeda-sympathetic groups are gaining more ground. We will reach full circle with the fall of Syria, but in a way that would make the West pay dearly in the future.

Once more, is apocalypse here or not quite yet? The answer to this question is contingent upon what will happen in Egypt. Will Egypt surrender unconditionally to Islamists or will those who believe in the genuine spirit of Egyptians keep fighting? The answer will be the clue to the future of the entire region.

Egypt: The ‘loan’ state

Posted: January 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

1797619844___-__-_____-______-___-_______-_____By ABDEL LATIF EL-MENAWY

The most important achievement — not yet achieved — that Egypt’s new rulers will brag about is sealing the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan. What makes things worse is the way they are promising that this loan would open the door for more loans to come from other countries and international organizations. For years, talk about loans had been nonexistent in Egypt and now it’s back at the hands of those who claim to usher Egypt into a new era of prosperity while in fact they are dwarfing and destroying it. We have even reached the point where Egypt’s economic crisis is said to have made it subordinate to a Gulf state, whose prime minister came out to deny his country is seeking to control Egypt, but is just helping. It did not stop at loans; there is talk in political and economic circles about pawning Egyptian assets in order to get loans that would enable the leaders to stay in power and prevent their downfall.

Senior officials are not ashamed of doing their best to deceive the citizens. One of them talks about the success to secure the IMF loan as proof of how trustworthy Egypt is to the world. On the other hand, throughout the past few weeks a delegation of Egyptian economists accompanied by a few traders from the country’s top “clique” went on a Gulf tour, where they tried to get seven-billion-dollar loans to cater to urgent social needs. A former senior official who is knowledgeable on the Egyptian economy told me that if this information is correct, it would be a crime against the country and the coming generations and would subjugate the Egyptian economy with all the consequences this implies.

Increasing revenues?
  The country’s leaders only know how to use their success in monopolizing power for boosting their own businesses  Abdel Latif el-Menawy

A Financial Times report stated that the IMF requests from Egypt clear plans about reducing deficits through increasing revenues. This will be done through cutting down on subsidies on the public sector, including food and fuel. Egypt, the report added, needs to guarantee securing funds from other loan institutions in order to get this one.

The IMF had previously praised austerity measures taken by Sudan, where popular protests were staged, through cutting down on fuel subsidies and devaluing the currency in an attempt to bridge the gap between official and black market prices. It is believed that requesting a bigger loan reflects the frailty of the Egyptian economy which, according to economic observers, is not undergoing any growth despite the officials’ rosy statements including those of their “boss” who lately referred to the economy of another country.

The traders’ state currently in charge knows nothing about running the country or building the economy. The country’s leaders only know how to use their success in monopolizing power for boosting their own businesses and to take advantage of their control over state institutions for establishing special ties with new countries and new markets. All is done under the banner of the Egyptian state. The fact that businessmen from the “clique” constitute an integral part of official and presidential delegations proves what I am saying.

‘Islamic’ bonds

I am not underestimating the concept of trade, but there is a huge difference between running a retail store and a national economy. When traders go bankrupt, they start looking into their old logs or thinking of ways to make fast money. This could explain the idea of bonds that they labeled “Islamic” and “authoritative” and which were rejected by the Center for Islamic Research (CIR). Despite my reservations on the interference of religious institutions in political and economic issues, I have to say the CIR took a very commendable stance because it did not deal with the bonds issue as a religious matter, but rather as one related to national sovereignty and did so as a national and not a religious entity. However, this kind of reaction would only happen in the presence of scholars of that type and under the leadership of al-Azhar Grand Imam Dr. Ahmed al-Tayeb and this is not always guaranteed. Bottom line is that the center rejected the Islamic bonds project, stressing that it involves many risks to national sovereignty, including the right of foreigners to own land in Egypt. CIR explained that based on this project, everything in Egypt would be for sale and noted that the word “authoritative” means incontestable by any other law.

After their meeting, CIR members stressed that the law threatens the sovereignty of everything on Egyptian soil including the River Nile and that the authority of the state or its president is bestowed by the people and is meant to protect, not jeopardize, their interests. The assets and lands of the country, they added, belong to all future generations and not only the current one, pointing out that the loss of Palestine came as a result of selling its land bit by bit until Jews were able to seize it all.

So many details are involved in the Islamic bonds project, but what I care about most here is to highlight the system through which the state is managed and which will drag it to a condition that I would rather not imagine whether on the economic or political level or as far as national security and the sale of national assets are concerned.

Defying the Taliban

Posted: January 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

mlala-yousef55By ABDEL LATIF EL-MENAWY

A few days ago, the British media reported two stories as the most important that day. The first was the discharging from hospital of the 15-year-old Pakistani girl Malala Yousafzai, and the second was the success of the first hand-transplant surgery in Britain. I contemplated those two stories while sadly remembering what we have come to in Egypt, and the future that might await us.

Confronting the forces of darkness
  Where are our rulers taking us? What future are we facing because of them?   Abdel Latif al-Menawy

Yousafzai was receiving medical treatment in Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham after a Taliban militant shot her in the head for insisting on going to school and supporting girls’ right to an education.

On Oct. 9, two masked men stopped a bus taking a group of girls from school. One of them got on and yelled: “Where is Malala? Speak or I will shoot you all. Where is that girl who attacks the soldiers of God? She needs to be punished.” When he recognized the girl, he went ahead and shot her.

The Taliban bragged about the shooting because, as one of their spokesmen put it, she “is a secular girl, and those like her had to be warned.” Yousafzai, he added, supported Western culture and antagonized the Taliban. “She wouldn’t be safe if she survived,” he said.

Yousafzai became known when she started exposing the atrocities committed by Islamist extremists who controlled the Swat Valley in northwestern Pakistan, where she lived from 2007 until 2009. She did that through a blog under a fake name. Barely 14 years old, Yousafzai received the National Peace Award in Pakistan for her efforts in support of girls’ education against the Taliban’s will. “I wanted to scream out loud and tell the entire world what we’re suffering under Taliban rule,” she said in a TV interview.

After seizing control of the Swat Valley, Taliban militants burnt down schools, banned girls’ education, and forced women to stay at home.

“Saturday Jan. 3, 2009: our headmistress announced that girls have to stop wearing school uniform because of the Taliban,” Yousafzai wrote in her diary. “Only three girls came to school during that term, then they all dropped out following the Taliban’s threats.”

“Jan. 5: Today, our teacher asked us not to wear bright colors because this angers the Taliban.”

“Tuesday March 3, 2009: On our way to school, my friend asked me to cover my hair properly or else I would be punished by the Taliban.”

“Thursday March 12, 2009: I had an inflammation in the larynx, and my dad took me to the doctor. There, a woman told us about a boy called Anis. He was with the Taliban, and once a friend of his, also from the Taliban, told him he dreamt that he was surrounded by virgins in heaven. So Anis asked his parents if he could carry out a suicide operation in order to go to heaven. They refused, but he went ahead and blew himself up in front of a security checkpoint.”

Yousafzai is now out of hospital, and will resume her struggle against the forces of darkness, and teach us a lesson about courage.

Hand transplant

The second story in the British media was about Mark Cahill, who lived for five years with a paralyzed right hand. Last week, he underwent successful hand-transplant surgery, and is now able to move his hand and fingers after the first operation of its kind in the world.

Cahill expressed his happiness at finally being able to do the things he was unable to do before, such as tying his shoelaces, buttoning his shirt, preparing dinner, and playing with his grandchild.

A few months before, another medical leap took place when it was discovered that a chip can be transplanted inside the fundus of a blind eye so that sight can be restored. The prosperity of the people and the future of the nation, rather than the destructive monopoly of power, are the duties of governments.

Egyptian reflection

Where are our rulers taking us? What future are we facing because of them? I suggest that readers follow the news in the Egyptian media, then compare it to the two stories I have highlighted to see if, like me, they will feel sad for our current situation, and frightened of what the future may hold.

Interior_of_Al_Azhar._The_Mohammedan_University._Egypt._Students_at_work._(n.d.)_-_front_-_TIMEABy ABDEL LATIF EL-MENAWY

Even though it has always been regarded as a fortress of moderation, creating a monitoring body of Egypt’s al-Azhar is one of the most alarming drawbacks of the new constitution. Al-Azhar’s historical and cultural role is indisputable, yet now it is gradually being seized by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Al-Azhar is their next target and this is a plan they made no effort to hide. The supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood delivered a speech at al-Azhar Mosque following the Friday prayer, a move that stirred the indignation of many Egyptians who rejected using the place for political agendas and especially by a faction that does not demonstrate any of the moderation this religious institute has been known of.

Their Sheikh, who had just come from Qatar, also gave a speech and he did not hide how ecstatic he was for scoring such a victory and a few weeks after he gave another one. This sheikh, who was banned from entering the UK and France, is the Muslim Brotherhood’s tool for controlling al-Azhar, a fact that has started to alarm several Western politicians as mentioned in an article in The Times. The writer of the article said that Arab leaders were equally concerned about the repercussions of such plans on their countries and conveyed their concerns to the West and United States, the latter having supported the Brotherhood since they came to power and till the present moment.

“Al-Azhar is the Muslim Brotherhood’s next target and this is a plan they made no effort to hide” Abdel Latif el-Menawy

Religious state?

Another article in the Washington Post warned that al-Azhar is the way to a religious state now that it will turn from a “beacon of moderation” as it has always been labeled into a fundamentalist institute once it falls under the grip of Islamists.

The article added that the reputation of al-Azhar, which “cherished diversity and respected the rights of women and minorities” is now in danger and that a large portion of liberals and Christians are worried about the extremist interpretations of Islamic law, which is the main source of legislation as mentioned in the constitution, should al-Azhar be controlled by the Brotherhood.

One of the clerics allied with the Muslim Brotherhood unraveled to his supporters a plan to control al-Azhar, especially through passing a law that allows the dismissal of al-Azhar’s grand imam after they failed to include an article to that effect in the constitution.

Brotherhood’s ‘vision’

Religious groups have not been on good terms with al-Azhar since their emergence owing to their members’ assumption that it has been damaged by Western influences and is, therefore, not representative of the right form of Islam. They even accused al-Azhar of being allied with the regime against the people. When those groups came to power, taking control of al-Azhar topped their agenda.

They imagined they could emulate their counterparts in Tunisia and who sidelined the country’s main religious institute al-Zaytouna. However, the situation is different with al-Azhar. While al-Zaytouna had already been neutralized by the former Tunisian regime, al-Azhar has for more than 1,000 years relatively succeeded in maintaining its independence and its impact on the lives of Egyptians.

Those religious groups are definitely not happy with the current grand imam of al-Azhar and who, together with a group of moderate clerics, has been resisting attempts at toppling this historic institute and insisting to raise the banner of moderate Islam. This was made clear in the famous document it issued to lay the foundations of the new Egyptian state and in which it stressed that Islamic law is the main source of legislation yet also affirmed the civilian character of a modern, democratic, and diverse Egypt. This, undoubtedly, is not in line with the vision of the Brotherhood, whose members use religion for political gains and impose an exclusionist interpretation of Islam that allows only them and their supporters to monopolize power.