Walking the tightrope

From Misry al Youm, 18/4 (Arabic here)

Subhi Saleh: What’s the problem when we say Islamic rule? Those with an allergy to the Quran should say so.

Subhi Saleh, the leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood and member of the Constitutional Amendment Committee, said, “What’s the problem when we say Islamic rule?.. Egypt is an Islamic country according to the constitution going back to 1923, i.e. five years before the founding of the Brotherhood. What’s the problem if it’s said that Islamic sharia includes criminal provisions among which are the four hudoud  stipulated in the Quran… Those who are allergic to the Quran should say so without tarring the Brotherhood.”

He added in a conversation with al-Masry al-Youm: “The Brotherhood are asking for a civil state whose philosophical underpinings are Islamic sharia. The hudoud are the criminal law aspect of sharia, and anyone fearful that his hand will be cut off should stop stealing.

[…] “I don’t believe that any Muslim would object to the application of the Quran. The hudoud are God’s law in the text of the Quran. Any Muslim who doesn’t like what God says, that’s his problem […]

Sadly, the tightrope being walked by the religious trends isn’t the one that really concerns me. The praises of the Almighty seem to be on everyone’s lips on the TV screen but the voices that question the role of a 7th century Arabian constitution are (understandably) muted. Do free speech and democracy extend to the religious domain?

A backdated article by Fahmi Huweidi forthcoming إن شاء الله

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Critical information on plans to cause the Revolution to fall… will Baradei face assassination?

[First part of two from Bilal Fadl in Al-Masry Al-Youm. Arabic here. ON TV are interviewing him and potential candidate for assassination Alaa Al-Aswani tonight.]

The first time I heard this question was almost a month ago. It was posed by a film-maker friend who has a passion for history and always tries to bring the lessons of the past to bear on the present and the future. I said to him: If you are mean physical assassination like Kennedy or Martin Luther King, I would rule it out for Dr. Mohamed El-Baradei, as long as the efforts to assassinate his character that have been going on for more than a year are still producing results. But if this suffers a setback, thanks to the success of the Revolution in changing state and private media (which may grant the man and his supporters an opportunity to dispel a lot of the lies foisted on the media by State Security officers through their agents and allies in the papers, on TV and online) then don’t rule out recourse to his elimination. As the proverb has it: there’s no need to give a good kicking to a dirty mule.

So that this does not seem just a chat between two overly-cautious and pessimistic friends, allow me to reveal the following facts. About two weeks ago, several Internet sites covered a post by Colonel Omar Afifi, a police officer and political refugee to the US, on his Facebook page. He said that he had information from his own sources that confirmed that a number of State Security officers held a special meeting in a villa in Moqattam. (Note that there are reports of a secret base of State Security in Moqattam, and link that to what happened there to Baradei on referendum day). Afifi goes on to say that the meeting of these officers resulted in the drawing up of a hit-list comprising one hundred public figures — politicians, writers and journalists – whom Afifi did not identify. As usual people’s reactions varied according to their view of Colonel Afifi. Those who trust him because he leaked important news during and before the Revolution, such as the intention to use snipers against protestors on the night following the battle of the camel [2nd Feb], have taken the matter seriously and began to collate the names on the list and let some of them know to take care. (Incidentally, what  Colonel Afifi said regarding that night also reached me at the time via a call from a State Security officer, who requested anonymity, and I broadcast it on the satellite channels without succeeding in stopping the horrific events. I believe my calls to Dream and Al-Jazeera are on the net if you want them.) Those who for many reasons do not trust Colonel Afifi have made light of the matter as media hype by Colonel Afifi in an attempt to grab the limelight again after the success of the Revolution. As the days went by without any assassination attempts, this view seemed correct.

For myself, I belong to a third camp in dealing with Colonel Afifi. Perhaps you know this if you witnessed the telephone confrontation between us on air during the brilliant Yusri Foda’s program two weeks ago. A quick summary for those who did not: Yes, I have great respect for the patriotic role played by Colonel Afifi before the revolution in publishing the book So That You’re Not Oppressed at the height of the tyranny of Adli’s Interior Ministry, which turned into a state above the state and went as far as spying (through the State Security Investigation branch) on the army command and state institutions. Colonel Afifi has paid a high price for his brave stance as he was forced to flee for his life to the US.  Nevertheless, I strongly disagree with him over the role he played in trying to direct the revolution via the internet videos he shot in US, because these videos, especially those giving tips on how to storm government buildings, such as the TV building, were one of the most important elements used to denounce the Revolution in the media by people like Khairy Ramadan and Tamer Amin and other mouthpieces of the regime who have still not been held to account for the false information they gave and which was used to justify the killing of demonstrators.

Unfortunately these videos have led to great confusion among the silent masses who are used to linking anything that comes from the US, even if true, with the Crusader-Zionist conspiracy. Perhaps the Revolution was served in that there was no real connection between its leadership on the ground and Afifi. And so there were no attempts to storm the TV building. This has made the Colonel seem little by little to be promulgating hopes rather more than directions. I told Colonel Afifi that I am against any person who directs the Revolution from the US. If you want to issue directions for the Revolution, you’re not worth more than the martyrs who died in the streets of Egypt, so come here and pay the price among us, in order not to be a force with a negative effect to be used against the Revolution. (Some have tried to distort these words to portray me as anti Egyptians abroad, yet the meaning of my words is clear.) When I confronted Afifi that day over the claim in one of his statements that his directions were a reason for the success of the revolution, I was surprised when he denied having said this and that the words were wrongly attributed to him. Thus, when I read what he had published on the hit-list of assassinations, I was puzzled and said to myself: Is this information also wrongly attributed to him?

Two days after the broadcast, I met prominent intellectual Dr. Hossam Issa at a dinner party to which I was invited by Mrs Shams al-Atribi. Dr. Hossam dropped a bombshell when he said that one of his acquaintances, who works in a major security apparatus, told him that there were confirmed reports of two lists drawn up by some State Security officers, who have formed something like a special squad that serves Habib al-Adli directly. The first list is of those to be assassinated, and the second is called a disciplinary list which calls for revenge attacks on specific journalists, writers and political activists. Dr. Hossam said that the man who passed on this information did so out of a desire to clean his conscience and told him that the sole name that he had learned from his sources to be on the assassination list was world class writer Dr Alaa al-Aswani.  Dr. Hossam informed al-Aswani and even informed al-Fagr newspaper (edited by the major writer Adel Hammouda) which indeed published details in an important article written by our friend Yasser Al-Zayat on lists of anticipated assassinations. Since the article, we have not heard any official response, at least al-Fagr has not published one.

Afterwards I learned from a source — I know you will not ask me who it is, perhaps because you trust me, perhaps because you know I will not answer – that by pure chance and no more than a week ago a complete plan for what is objectively to be called a counter-revolution was discovered. This proves the truth of all that is being said about the existence of such in Egypt and that it is not the product of the imagination.  This happened when a resident of Zamalek went to a computer repairman to have his laptop fixed in a hurry. He left the laptop with the repairman who quickly fixed it.  When checking the job, he randomly opened a Word document with the eye-catching name “Plans to cause collapse”. The man was horrified when he read the file and he copied the contents of the laptop and handed it over to the relevant authorities and the matter has been in hand since then. I have no information whether the owner of the computer has been arrested or not, or whether he has been identified and whom he works for – an internal or foreign party, or a mix of the two. You may not believe in conspiracy theories, but rationally you cannot think that international intelligence agencies (Mossad at the forefront) can stand idly by before a revolution of this size and effect in Egypt. Thus you should notice the significance of the name of the document and link it to what is happening to realize that collapse is the natural prelude to downfall.

The source told me that everything that has happened in Egypt since the day Mubarak was forced to give up power until today was specified in those plans. These amounted to three printed pages and were written in broken Arabic full of spelling mistakes which suggests that it was written in a hurry or that its author has a poor command of Arabic language either because he is a foreigner or has lived abroad for a long period. At the beginning of the document it states that the period of deposed President Mubarak’s procrastination in meeting the demands of the Revolution, after he had become certain that the army would not stand by him, was exploited by many of the figureheads of the regime to smuggle their wealth abroad.

The document also contains details of many of the things implemented during the Government of Ahmed Shafik. These include the fanning of interest-based demands in an organized fashion to cause the Revolution to collapse. As an aside, I received a call from a driver in a government body during the days of prime minister Shafik. He said there was a base in Zamalek, equipped with many computers, where a number of people who work for one of the centres under the cabinet directed interest-based protests, and went online to post rumours to frighten the people and attack a number of personalities who supported the Revolution by repeating rumours about them. I asked him to write down what he had said to assure publication. He did this and I am keeping the letter with friends on a memory stick. At the last minute, however, he contacted me to tell me that the base had been evacuated in a hurry a day after his contacting me. He tried to get to the new base, where the equipment had gone, but could not do so. I remembered this driver when the source told me that the plans to cause collapse included a paragraph on the need for thugs to target schools, and for news of this to be magnified in collaboration with some workers on some internet sites. And it so happened that news was posted on these sites about the targeting of children in Alexandria’s schools when they hadn’t even opened again. This made Dr. Alaa al-Aswani cite these news reports in his famous interview with deposed prime minister Ahmed Shafik. Some people think he made this up, but he was only relaying what was actually published on the internet and which sparked chaos and led to the decision to postpone the opening of the schools more than once.

Another dangerous element in the document, Plans to cause Collapse, is the whole paragraph on the targeting of churches and the online incitement of Copts to take a tough line against the army after messages on the internet were leaked that accused the army of being biased against Christians and in favour of the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic extremists. I also raised this in Yusri Foda’s program with Father Abdel Massih Baseet when I told him about a letter attributed to a person named Father Utaa which directs blistering accusations against the military. Father Baseet replied with blistering words against this Utaa and called on all Christians not to give him any credence. Please go online if you want to see transcript of the broadcast. Also bear in mind that this was more than a week before the discovery of the document of the plan for collapse.  The source also told me about an extremely worrying paragraph which talks about planting young people in Tahrir Square who adopt extreme positions against the army and incite the youth against it. Please refer back to the material I have published before in this regard. Another paragraph refers to the need to make negative statements on the Internet about the Attorney General and focus on undermining his credibility by reference to his appointment by ousted President Mubarak. The last paragraph was recounted to me by the source from memory as on the lines of: “We are now in the same boat and we will not allow the humiliation of our figureheads. We will not allow our interests to be ended or our wealth to be confiscated. Things must return to normal.” The source said that the authorities that have investigated the matter since the plans came into their hands did not take it completely seriously to begin with, but examined all possibilities, ranging from the presence of foreign intelligence services to an attempt to mislead by translating past events into a document and then arranging for it to fall into the hands of interested parties to show that there is an organized force still fighting fiercely on the ground and so cause more confusion for decision makers. However, he said there had been a development a few days ago that revealed an orchestrated move to cause economic instability, especially with regard to people’s daily lives, which had been immediately foiled. After this the document has begun to be taken very seriously.

Ok, what does everything I’ve said have to do with Dr. Baradei and whether it’s possible that he or anyone else faces assassination. Let me complete what I have for you tomorrow, God willing, if we live and have a publication.

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Vanishing bones means salafi grave robbers?

Two related stories from al-Masry al-Youm:

Sat. 19/3 p.7 Disappearance of a “Saint’s” remains  in Bahaira in mysterious circumstance in reference to five hundred year old tomb in Zawiyat Khaniza (زاوية خنيزة), Kom Hamada district. A local man attributes blame to “gama’at al-islamiyah”.

Mon. 21/3 p.10 Sheikhs of the Sufi Orders call for a million-strong march against destruction of tombs during the Mulid of Hussein. This appeal made against “the growth of the Salafi trend and its campaign aimed at the destruction of saints’ tombs.” Spokesman for the Supreme Council of the Sufi Orders called on the Sufi movement to stand up to the salafi wave which he described as more of a danger than the Ikhwan. Azhar appointed member of the Council, Ahmed Omar Hashim, referred to the “enemies of Sufisim” involved in a “war to destroy tombs” which should be confronted.

The second story tends to confirm the first. For further perspective see this on Saudi Arabian Whahabi ruination.

On a wider level are those seeking to mix politics with religion the true robbers of the shuhada’s graves?

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