Where have we heard this before?


Saw this in one of the papers I read now and then and my jaw hit the floor

Illiteracy dashes hopes of democracy in Egypt

voterand thought to myself if you replace a few words like “minorities” instead of “illiteracy” and “America” instead of “Egypt” you’d have the typical #DemonicGOP talking point.  Haven’t we already seen how, through legislation, restricting voter registration and electoral participation has been a staple of the GOP nationwide?

We’ve mentioned before how Egyptian politics mimics American paranoia and  hysteria as Egyptian elites try to minimize or completely eradicate Islamists from their body politic with talk of unbelievable Muslim Brotherhood plots  straight from Tea Party fairy tales (manuals).  Talking about a segment of the population who negatively affects the electoral process is another talking point Egyptians have copied from American politicians…..and via their media no less.  Take a gander

 In a country where illiterate people constitute one-third of eligible voters, the concept of free elections is worrisome.

Nearly 16 million among the 53 million eligible voters cannot even read or write. Therefore, some liberal politicians believe there is no hope for democracy….

In a country where illiterate people constitute one-third of eligible voters, the concept of free elections is worrisome.

Nearly 16 million among the 53 million eligible voters cannot even read or write. Therefore, some liberal politicians believe there is no hope for democracy…

“It is a frustrating reality, but it could be changed with some planning and work on the ground. As the statistics indicate, only 45 per cent of registered voters went to vote and 4 million Egyptians rejected the idea of a religious state. We need to mobilise the 10 million Egyptians who support a civic state in the next voting for the new constitution, the parliament and the president,” added (Al Sayed Yassin, a veteran writer and consultant at Al Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies)

Do you not hear the strains of allowing only certain groups of people participation in  the voting process?  Does this not sound like Egyptians are being set up for poll taxes and literacy tests of a Jim Crow America; ideas that may become in vogue for a new America as well.  We know that in the name of democracy one of the largest political parties in Egypt will be outlawed and forbidden to participate in government but now it seems Egyptian elites want to call for disallowing large segments of Egyptians from participating as well.   Once again we see a parallel universe between Egyptian and American politics with fear being the catalyst for insane and anti-democratic processes disguised in the name of democracy.

UPDATE

For examples of the types of literacy tests voters Egyptians could face take a look here  at what Americans once faced.  Such tests weren’t designed to assess literacy rather they were designed to not allow targeted populations from participating in  governance.

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EGYPT – A CALL IT IS TIME FOR THE CIVIL SOCIETY TO SPEAK OUT


Tariq Ramadan

The situation in Egypt is serious and the future seems bleak. Anything can happen. Although the specter of civil war is not yet a reality, one must consider all scenarios and act accordingly. It seems that the Power (both civilians and military) are divided on the strategy to be adopted. Some want to eradicate the Muslim Brotherhood and their organization, others want to impose conditions of survival without power, thus maintaining the illusion of a pluralistic and democratic future. All are reducing their opponents as only the “Muslim Brotherhood”, demonizing and calling them “terrorists” and “extremists.” Repression increases radicalization and justifies, a posteriori, the repression itself. A vicious cycle that we have seen in the modern history of Egypt.

Opponents to the coup, and among them the Muslim Brotherhood, have been rallying peacefully and they continue to demonstrate despite the state of emergency. Resistance, for several weeks, was non-violent and should remain so despite the provocations of military and police whose strategies are known. Mass executions or targeted, bribe of offenders (known as the baltaguiyya) to push them to attack the demonstrators, with, in addition, the increase in fires Coptic churches in order to widen the sectarian divide and feed bills (Sadat and Mubarak had used the same strategy).

While these protests continue to be peaceful, civil society – all tendencies – opposed to violence and military, must mobilize and form a united front around common, clear, bold but realistic position . A national coalition to be formed with women and men of the civil society – secular, Islamist, Copts, women, young activists – who are willing to open channels of dialogue with the authorities and asked:

egyptian protest

1. End of repression 2. The release of political prisoners, leaders and members of political parties, which would result, in fact, with the end of demonstrations 3. Determining the steps that should bring back the political process to the civilians, based on a negotiated political agenda and future elections.

REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Civil society must now speak out and refuse false rhetoric that spreads around that the Army is only opposed to Islamists. What is at stake is the democratic future of Egypt and it will never be positive with the Army in control. Actors of the civil society should indulge in self criticism (for their failure) and, at the same time, work together to overcome the crisis. Being a passive, non-violent observer of violence is, indeed, to make the indirect choice of violence.

 

The new Abu Gharib


abu_graibh1When I first heard this news I tweeted, “Abu Gharib anyone” because it certainly seemed to take on the genocidal nature of that infamous, barbaric place in Iraqi/American history when people were rounded up indiscriminately into one central place and tortured, raped and murdered for no apparent reason than someone said they should.  That’s what military dictators do; fascism by nature quells even the aspiration to disagree with the State’s oppression, much less demonstrate against it as the people in Egypt are now doing; so killing that desire is most easily accomplished by killing the people who long for it.  Whatever you think of what’s happening in Egypt today, the fact that for far too many people it’s ok to kill, murder political opponents and especially those with a reasonable grievance for their dissent, is nothing short of genocide.

The Egyptian government acknowledged that its security forces had killed 36 Islamists in its custody Sunday, as the military leaders and the country’s Islamists vowed to keep up their fight over Egypt’s future.

An injured member of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporter of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi is carried by members of the police and the army after they cleared Rabaa Adawiya Square. (Reuters)

An injured member of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporter of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi is carried by members of the police and the army after they cleared Rabaa Adawiya Square. (Reuters)

The news of the deaths came on a day in which there appeared to be a pause in the street battles that have claimed more than 1,000 lives in recent days, most of them Islamists and their supporters gunned down by security forces. The Islamists took measures on Sunday to avoid confrontations, including canceling several protests of the military’s ouster of a democratically elected Islamist-led government.

While confirming the killings of the detainees on Sunday, the Ministry of the Interior said the deaths were the consequence of an escape attempt by Islamist prisoners. But officials of the main Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, described the deaths as “assassinations,” and claimed that the victims, which it said numbered 52, had been shot and tear-gassed through the windows of a locked prison van.

The government offered conflicting details throughout the day, once saying the detainees had suffocated to death in the van from tear gas to suppress an escape attempt, but later insisting that the Islamists died in a prison where they were taken.

In either case, the deaths were the fourth mass killing of civilians since the military took control on July 3, but the first time those killed were in government custody at the time.

The Islamists, followers of the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood, have vowed to continue their protests, both against the military’s ouster of President Mohamed Morsi and the violence of recent days that started with the bloody crackdown on Brotherhood sit-ins that left hundreds dead.

Although it appeared that security forces were more restrained on Sunday — with no immediate reports of killings in the streets — Maj. Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, the country’s military leader, spoke out on national television in defiant and uncompromising tones, condemning the Islamists again as “terrorists,” but promising to restore democracy to the country.

The government has been pursuing a relentless campaign to paint the Islamists as pursuing violence, and has increasingly lashed out at journalists who do not echo that line, especially the foreign media.

This is what America has decided is far more important to have in power in Egypt than the Morsi government.  Whatever you may think of what Morsi did or did not do, he was not accused of mass murder of his political opponents or targeting of foreign journalists.  Our identification with such a regime can only forebode dire political consequences for America and Egypt in the future, near or far.  We have a name for that…..blowback.

The GOP is a bad joke


Louie Gohmert - Caricature

Louie Gohmert – Caricature (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

Perhaps this is why Republicans are against immigration because they see an Islamist in every Hispanic immigrant that comes into this country.

‘Radical Islamists’ Learn Spanish, Pretend To Be Hispanic, Claims Rep. Louie Gohmert

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, believes he has solved a terrorist tactic.

While speaking to the Longview, Texas Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Gohmert claimed “radical Islamists” were learning Spanish “because we don’t have any fear of Hispanics coming into the country.”

Gohmert added that he is opposing immigration reform based on the theory, noted News-Journal.com.

“The FBI director has confirmed more than once that we know that there are radical Islamists that change their names to Hispanic-sounding last names, they come to Mexico and get and ID, and some of them even learn a little bit of Spanish so that they can try to act as if they’re Hispanic,” Gohmert said (video below). “Why? Because we don’t have any fear of Hispanics coming into the country, but we’ve got concerns about radical Islamists.”

He also suggested that real undocumented Hispanic immigrants might lie about how long they have been in the United States in order to stay under the DREAM Act, which is supposed to be for immigrant children who were brought to America by their undocumented parents.

Gohmert also said the United States was the best country “because most Americans, generally speaking, had a faith in God, they had a devotion to family and they had a hard worth ethic,” but lamented that might not be true today.

It seems the only policy this demented party has is to instill fear and hatred in the hearts of Americans against others who are different.  The GOP accentuates differences, points them out and builds policy around them which is not very constructive in a country of over 300 million people from all walks of life, if not suicidal for a political party.  All of that doesn’t seem to matter to the likes of Gohmert, who has taken boorish behavior to a new level as a member of Congress.  Want to see more of his outlandish actions go here, here , here and here.  A four time elected US representative, Gohmert resonates with that part of the DemonicGOP that believes Obama is a foreign socialist Muslim who wants to destroy the American way of life….and did I mention he’s been elected FOUR times!  God help us!!

Islam and democracy in the Arab world


Galip Dalay wrote what I thought was a very good explanation of Islam and democracy  and the conflict some people in today’s Arab/Muslim world think exists, entitled  Yet Another Instance of Islamic Exceptionalism, which I wanted to post excerpts of below

 

Tanks rolled down the street, state owned TV channels were taken over, dissenting media outlets tankswere raided and silenced, president’s office was surrounded, the first ever democratically elected president was put under house arrest, the constitution was suspended, and the head of army stood in front of cameras to try to justify these disgraceful deeds. As a citizen of Turkey, a country that has endured four military coups, these scenes were all too familiar; what has been taking place in Egypt was clear and obvious: a coup d’état.

Yet, the leaders of “democratic” countries did not describe the events in Egypt as a coup. The United States, which ostensibly squandered a great deal of finances and shed blood all in the name of “democracy” in greater Middle East and North Africa, failed to use “c” word…

Ashton

EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton

Likewise, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton refrained from using the “c” word in her statement on the overthrow of Morsi. In addition, her statement did not indicate any possible repercussions against the military’s grab of power from elected civilians….

This refusal to call a coup a coup has not been limited to the official circles. A significant part of the international media, pundits, and analysts also followed suit by not labeling the events as coup or condemning them. But why were the pundits so reluctant in defining the new millenium’s first televised coup by its name? Have we not all been applauding the irresistible shift towards democratization world-wide? Was not the Arab Spring a welcome development similar to the ones that had taken place in Central and Eastern Europe in 1989 – 1990?

The excessive emphasis on the identity of the president and the characteristics of the party, in the international media and analysts’ discourse, seems to indicate the real reason for condoning the coup. morsiIIFinding an article that did not attempt to justify the military takeover of the Morsi government by references to his and his party’s Islamist identity and a detailed account of all the mistakes they made, supposedly due to their Islamist politics, has become a mission impossible. For some, this whole affair represented the confirmation of their long-held belief regarding the incompatibility of Islam and democracy. They eagerly spelled out the failure of Political Islam in playing by the rules of an open and democratic political system.

…the perennial debate on incompatibility between Islam and democracy has been a flawed one. This debate adopts an essentialist approach to both democracy and religion. It accounts for the existence of a functioning democracy more through the specific cultural, civilizational and religious codes than through the existence of strong and independent institutions, rules of law, and political experience…democracy was essentially and exclusively European due to its unique mix of cultural, civilizational and religious factors, thus it could not take root anywhere but the European-western world. This stance assumed that other regions, cultures or religions were impervious to democratization due to their exceptional circumstances and religious and cultural values, which were deemed to be incommensurate with democratic values.

vote….the revolutions in the Arab World rendered this latest form of exceptionalism obsolete as well. Thus, these experiences illustrated that Asians, Muslims and Arabs were no different in their demands for representative democracy and dignity than their European and American peers….

…when pundits question the compatibility of Islam and democracy, what they actually mean is whether Islam is compatible with liberalism. Given that Islamist movements are usually the best organized groups at the societal level in the countries they operate and that they share the value systems of the public at large, they have no qualms about electoral democracy–a stance they eagerly proved by seizing every opportunity for free and fair elections. In this respect, it becomes clear that what is meant by this question of compatibility is whether Islamists are ready to accommodate liberal demands and different (secular) life styles….

…it is the secularist elites and establishments that demonstrate incompatibility with democracy in the Middle East and North Africa. This region has not witnessed Islamists’ halting or crushing democratic processes. In fact, one may argue that the only exception might be the Iranian election of 2009 on a minor scale. Yet, the region witnessed many instances of secularist establishment’s and elites’ crushing of democratic processes: four coups by secular military – establishment in Turkey, Algerian army’s crushing of Islamic Salvation Front in 1992 election to prevent them from coming to power through democratic elections, Egyptian army’s present day crushing of a fledgling democratic experiment. conflictLikewise, in Syria, it is again the secularist Baathist regime that stifles peoples’ demands for freedom, democracy, and economic well-being. This raises the question as to why Middle Eastern and North African secularists demonstrate this inability to reconcile with democratic processes?

Renowned scholar Jose Casanova’s following observations are imperative in understanding this dilemma. “One wonders whether democracy does not become an impossible “game” when potential majorities are not allowed to win elections, and when secular civilian politicians ask the military to come to the rescue of democracy by banning these potential majorities, which threaten their secular identity and their power.” This observation does not only aptly capture the crux of challenges to the democratization in the region, it also elucidates why Middle Eastern and North African secularists prove unable to comply with democratic rules and procedures. Thus, the search for Islamist-proof democracy makes democracy itself a mission impossible to accomplish.

The Islamist identity of Morsi and his party seems to be the major reason for the reticence of the international community and media in defining this coup a coup! The future of democracy and upholding of rights and liberties of the citizens in the Middle East and North Africa are significantly contingent upon whether Islamists would be allowed to run in fair elections and rule, if they win. If we do not want Essam el Haddad’s words “…the message will resonate throughout the Muslim world loud and clear: democracy is not for Muslims” to form the mindset of new generation of Islamists in the region, then it is imperative to take a stance against this coup, which has the potential to stifle the emerging democratic experiments of the Arab Spring.

 

 

 

A New Day in Egypt


The Egyptian revolution has brought about a change in the attitude of many progressive minded Egyptian Muslims who recognize the importance of the cohesiveness of their society.

The Muslim Brotherhood has called on Egypt’s ruling military ‎council to provide security for Christian churches during Coptic ‎Christmas celebrations on 7 January as it did for polling stations ‎during the first two rounds of parliamentary elections.‎

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the group also promised ‎to draw up “popular committees” to help protect churches ‎against “iniquitous hands” that might attempt to spoil Christmas ‎celebrations as happened more than once under “the corrupt ‎regime” of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.‎

Almost one year ago, on New Year’s Eve, more than twenty Coptic ‎Christians were killed when a bomb exploded outside a church ‎in Alexandria. One year earlier, on 6 January, eight Copts were ‎killed outside a church in the Upper Egyptian city of Naga ‎Hammadi.‎

In January of this year, only weeks before the popular uprising ‎that culminated in Mubarak’s ouster, Muslim activists formed ‎human shields around churches on Coptic Christmas in an ‎expression of national unity. ‎

In its Wednesday statement, the Muslim Brotherhood also ‎announced that a delegation headed by leading group member ‎Mahmoud Ezzat would attend Christmas mass.‎

Many have been led to believe the Muslim Brotherhood, or MB, is the next anti-christ and no matter what they do they will always be portrayed as such but this move in an Egypt which is lawless and leaderless is a step in the right direction. It won’t be long before people in the media, and the pundits, return to the rhetoric of hate and racism in an attempt to add lawlessness to the Egyptian society.