Tag Archives: Islamist

Sissi, The Accidental Hero ..


Accidental Hero!!

In his book “Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the America Era,” Joseph Nye of Harvard University divided American presidents into two groups. One is made up of “transformational” leaders — those with the grandiose goal of using American influence to spread democracy and liberty around the world. Think of Reagan and Bush-the-son. The second group contains “transactional” leaders — pragmatists who have modest goals, like Eisenhower or Bush-the-father.

In the postcolonial era, Egypt has been consistently ruled by “accidental” leaders — generally military men who lacked political vision or leadership skill. Their mediocrity was the key to their survival under a dictatorial system. These leaders, who suddenly found themselves in charge of Egypt, suffered from what I call the second-man syndrome.

They are usually insecure and mostly steer away from challenging the status quo. They come from the rank and file of the existing system. They take power by historical or divine incidence, they come to power with no popular base of support. Then suffer from a political paranoia and xenophobic personality, don’t trust anyone and spend most of their leadership tenure trying to survive and stay in power. They start creating and fighting imaginary enemies, become less and less democratic, and eventually emerge as full-fledged dictators. And as American Historian Richard Hofstadter once said: “a fundamental paradox of the paranoid style, is the imitation of the enemy”; Ku Klux Klan emulated catholic with their elaborate rituals and deep hierarchy, McCarthyism ended emulating communist secretive organization. … he explained. Paranoid leader takes history personal. Military leaders in Egypt emulated the dictatorial monarchy style they toppled. General el-Sissi heavy handed killing of his oppositions since the coup, is emulating state terrorism that he himself waged war on.

It started in 1952, with the Free Officers coup, which toppled the last monarch and produced the first Egyptian president — the uncharismatic Gen. Muhammad Naguib. He was a figurehead, a second man to the real leader, Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser, the brains of the Free Officers revolution. In 1956, Nasser removed Naguib and took over the government.

When President Nasser died of a heart attack in 1970, the country was not ready for his early departure. To many he was a national hero who had given Egyptians a sense of purpose and a new national identity. But he had never been fond of sharing power; he hadn’t groomed any successor.

President Anwar Sadat was a second thought, someone who hadn’t shown any leadership tendencies during Nasser’s rule. The “yes man” of Nasser, he was called by most Egyptians. But Sadat was in the right place at the right time. He was the head of the lower parliament, a token institution where he made sure members rubber-stamped Nasser’s outlandish policy decisions.

Sadat didn’t waste any time. He courted the Islamists to counter the opposition from the left, which had flourished during Nasser’s rule, and gradually removed any trace of Nasser’s legacy, or any threat to his absolute power.

After Sadat’s assassination in 1981 came President Hosni Mubarak, another young military man. He was the “yes man” for Sadat. He, too, was in the right place at the right time — sitting next to Sadat in the infamous military parade stand.

For 30 years, Mubarak kept Egypt out of history. His biggest accomplishment was keeping the peace with Israel while wars engulfed the Middle East. Then came the Jan. 25th revolution, when millions marched in the street and toppled the longest-ruling dictator over 18 glorious days. The military seized the opportunity, sided with the revolution, and forced Mubarak to resign.

Then came Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. He had been silent for 20 years as Mubarak’s defense minister. Tantawi mismanaged the country at a very critical time, and micromanaged the presidential election that elevated an obscure member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

President Mohammed Morsi was the second choice for the Brotherhood. He was pushed into the political process after the Supreme Council ousted the Brotherhood’s preferred presidential candidate — the sharp, powerful, charismatic businessman, Khairat el-Shater — to run against one of Mubarak’s old generals. But Egyptians who had just toppled Mubarak were in no mood to go back. They preferred having the Brotherhood in power than another Mubarak henchman. So millions held their nose and reluctantly voted for Morsi, who became the first elected Egyptian president.

Morsi ran Egypt as a Brotherhood nation. He was accused of being another Mubarak, amending the constitution putting himself above the law. He tried to remove the military from politics. He forced Tantawi into early retirement and replaced him with a religious some even say salafy general, Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi; he is now the hero du jour.

The military gave Morsi and brotherhood enough robe to hang themselves, It took Sissi only one year to plot a popular coup, a year of media campaign demonizing and nullifying Morsi and his brotherhood clans, Millions of people went to street asking for his ousting. . Sis sized the moment, President Morsi was kidnapped and put  under house arrest, and the Graduate of American War Collage is executing a plan from the American playbook — waging a war against the Brotherhood under the banner “war on terror.” He has suspended the constitution and parliament, has expelled human-rights organizations, has shut down opposition institutions and media, and killed acvpording to himann rights and Amnesty international, nearly 1,000 in a crackdown on pro-Morsi supporters.

As all his predecessors have done before him, General Sissi cracked down on all dissidents, opposition media, using Egyptian court as an oppressive tool, to get ready of Brotherhood leaders and members, trying to show Egyptians and the world that he is not another accidental leader. He is the strong military man who will save Egypt and Islam from Brotherhood terrorists — another imaginary enemy of Egypt where they found the real enemy next door in Libya and not at Rabaa or Tahrir Squares.

Ahmed Tharwat is a public speaker and hosts the Arab-American show “Belahdan With Ahmed” at 10:30 p.m. Mondays on Twin Cities Public Television. He blogs at  www.ahmediaTV.com


BelAhdan with Maha Moussa, From Nubia with love… Egyptian woman Journey

Maha Moussa, BIO
I was graduated from The Technical Sciences and Studies Institution. May 1993.
Currently: I’m Studying in the Faculty of Arts, English Translation Department, in the last semester.
I was working for around 10 years in the Alliance for Arab Women. It’s one of the great and famous Egyptian NGO’s. It target cultural and social side , provide women with basic human security through influencing polices and legislation , and through providing services and programs within the frame work of human rights…AAW also has a consultative statues with the UN ” ECOSOC ” since 1996.
2001 to 2006..I was served as a coordinator in the project of ” Support of Egyptians NGO’s Towards the Implementation of Beijing Platform of Action ” ,which funded from “Dutch embassy”.
2006 to 2007 …I was served as an assistant manager in the project of “the mainstreaming women’s role in the Political Reform Process “..Which funded from “Westminster Foundation for Democracy” UK Government.
2007 to 2008.. becomes the project manager for the previous project which founded from UK Government..
Dec 2008 to Jun 2009…served as advocacy officer in the project of “Business Development Services support Project” …which funded from CIDA .
May 2011 to Feb 2013 ..Served as office assistance in the project of ” Egypt Votes ” ..Which funded from Media in Cooperation and Transition. Germany.


My home journey to the family grave!

Standing at Garden of Eden Islamic Cemetery, located in a remote corner of a Christian cemetery in Burnsville, Minnesota mourning the death of one our friends, I couldn’t help reflecting how Muslims in the United States, unlike European Muslims who usually live in isolated “ghettos”, are free to choose where they want to live, and actually do, however, when a Muslim dies in the U.S. there is only one choice: the Muslim “ghetto” cemetery located inside a remote section of an existing Christian cemetery.

I never understood the religious proximity taboo between the Muslim and Christian dead, and no amount of interfaith dialogue could bring the dead ones together; it is hard to argue that much when you are dead.

I remembered to more than 40 years back the one Coptic-Christian family grave in the heart of my primarily Muslim village cemetery in Meet Swaid, Egypt. We never questioned it, and we never thought of as something peculiar or unusual.

So what is the story of this Coptic family? How did they live as a minority in my small village?

As a hyphenated Muslim American living in the US, I wondered how it would be as a Christian living in a majority Muslim village. After all the years since I left my village, I decided to go back to find out more about the history of this Christian family and why my village was immune from the rift between Coptic and Muslims that periodically surfaced on the Egyptian scene, especially in upper Egypt. I took my camera and decided to find out the story of the Coptic grave in my village cemetery.

Driving along the freeway through the heart of the Nile delta, the road was surrounded by massive orange orchards with fruit peddlers lining the road. They dotted the neglected freeway side with a burst of color displaying their oranges and tangerines in shapes of pyramids ambivalent to the ominous piles of trash everywhere you looked

When I arrived to my village, it was evident that much has changed since I left it 40 years ago—people seemed to have moved on and it was becoming more of a crowded town. As I remember it, my village was a small, unassuming place in the Egyptian Nile delta. Many people’s lifestyles hadn’t changed that much since the time of the pharaohs, and local demographers couldn’t find any dramatic census changes for a long time.

Before CNN and Al Jazeera, villagers lived the simple life of a farming community, and their interest in the outside world went only as far as the edge of their fields. The men left with their animals for work at dawn and came back at dusk, while their wives stayed home, busy preparing hearty meals and raising kids to work in the farm as soon as they mastered their first step.

People consulted the same tailor or seamstress, prayed at the same mosque, celebrated the same holidays, eat the same food, and for generations, villagers kept the gene pool very much confined to the area’s families. But I was interested to know more about that Coptic family among us and how they lived within the village dynamic.

I found the Christian family’s lifestyle peculiar and intriguing—in fact, it was a breath of fresh air to invigorate the monotonous village life. Unlike other villagers who worked on the farm, the Christian family was still “in the hunting-and-gathering age, making their living chasing wild wolves lurking on the village outskirts,” explained, Hajj Abdullah, a village elder .

“The Coptic family would drag the dead wolf around in the streets for show-and-tell, describing the grave danger they had just faced and the heroic adventure they had encountered, and earned them considerable admiration from villagers,” Abdullah added.

“I never thought of them as Christian or Coptic, just my neighbor,” my brother Abdel Rafaa said.

Growing up in my village, I liked to spend time with Sameer Kariaquos, one of the Coptic brothers, known simply as ‘the Coptic.’ Although I had the privilege and perks that came with being of the majority religion, my alliance with him was personal, and possibly resulting from our both being somewhat social outcasts by most other villagers.

Both of our families had chosen a career other than farming. My family members were the educators who ran the only village elementary school for years, and his were hunters. Sameer was in my class, and I always envied him for being a Coptic during our religion class; he was free to choose, stay or leave to the playground. I wished I could, too, sparing myself the abuse of our religion teacher. Besides his great personality, Sameer had a unique skill: he was a sharp shooter, exceptionally good at using the BB gun and I was good at using the slingshot. In the summer, hunting small birds was our pastime. We both left the village early in the morning and spent the whole day roaming the field hunting for these “asafeer”, or sparrows. The solitude of the field greenery and the empty roads gave us the emotional space to be close and good buddies; we talked about anything, kissing girls and other dreams.

But one day, Sameer’s father suddenly died and neither his family nor the rest of the village was prepared for planning his burial.

Although the cultural tradition of the Muslim villagers accommodated the Coptic family, the religious burial traditions were not flexible enough to accommodate the mixing of their dead in the same cemetery.

My Uncle Abd Elhafeez had told me that the Kariaquos family wanted to bury their father at the Coptic Cemetery, much farther from the city, though customary among Copts. However before he died, the father asked my uncle to be buried in the Muslim cemetery, and while there was initial hesitation from the villagers, my uncle honored the request.

My family was not known for religious zealotry, but for kindness and generosity.

“If the Coptic family had lived in peace with the rest of us all these years without any trouble, there shouldn’t be much trouble while they were dead,” my uncle said. My brother Nasser mentioned that our family didn’t consult anyone in the village on this, and the burial ceremony was completed quietly in my family cemetery grave.

Now, after all these years, like every Muslim grave, his does not bear any religious symbol, just his family name, date of birth and death: “Kariaquos, Born 1911, Died 1962.”

What is so amazing today is that with all the rifts between Christians and Muslims, and Islam and the West, and also periodic flair ups between Egyptian Copts and Muslims, this has never translated into any hostility toward the Coptic family grave; no act of defacing or graffiti on the unfenced Coptic grave can be found, which is remarkable in the age of the internet and global village and religious fundamentalism.

All those years ago, in my village, Muslims and Copts had lived together and died together in peace and harmony.

As my brother Abdel Rafaa put it, “No diversity programs were required, no axis of evil was declared, and no crusade or jihad was launched.”