Violent crackdown on Coptic Christians extinguishes faith in Egyptian military

Violent crackdown on Coptic Christians extinguishes faith in Egyptian military The Egyptian cabinet held emergency talks on Monday after Sunday’s clashes resulted in the death of over 25 people and the injury of nearly 300, mostly Coptic Christians. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) called for an investigation by a fact-finding commission urging ...

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548575_111011_1290191872.jpg

Violent crackdown on Coptic Christians extinguishes faith in Egyptian military

The Egyptian cabinet held emergency talks on Monday after Sunday's clashes resulted in the death of over 25 people and the injury of nearly 300, mostly Coptic Christians. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) called for an investigation by a fact-finding commission urging "all measures against all those proven to have been involved, either directly or by incitement." Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf said, "These events have taken us back several steps." Outrage over Sunday's violence has sparked severe criticism of the ruling military, with the Copts joining political liberals stating the public no longer has faith that the SCAF will provide for a democratic transition. Party leader Ayman Nour said, "The credit that the military received from the people in Tahrir Square just ran out yesterday."

Headlines  

Violent crackdown on Coptic Christians extinguishes faith in Egyptian military

The Egyptian cabinet held emergency talks on Monday after Sunday’s clashes resulted in the death of over 25 people and the injury of nearly 300, mostly Coptic Christians. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) called for an investigation by a fact-finding commission urging “all measures against all those proven to have been involved, either directly or by incitement.” Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf said, “These events have taken us back several steps.” Outrage over Sunday’s violence has sparked severe criticism of the ruling military, with the Copts joining political liberals stating the public no longer has faith that the SCAF will provide for a democratic transition. Party leader Ayman Nour said, “The credit that the military received from the people in Tahrir Square just ran out yesterday.”

Headlines  

  • China and Russia push for implementation of Syrian reforms with Russia saying the U.N. Security Council veto was not a blank check.
  • Libyan NTC forces say they have cornered loyalists in two neighborhoods in Sirte.
  • In Israel, 700 medical residents resigned over low salaries and long working hours while Prime Minister Netanyahu has called on them to “display responsibility” and return to work.
  • Iranian actress Marzieh Vafamehr faces a one-year prison sentence and 90 lashings after appearing in an Australian film critical of Iran.
  • The head of the Special Tribunal on Lebanon, the U.N. court investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, has resigned due to health concerns.
  • Daily Snapshot

     

    Angry Egyptian Christians protest outside St. Mark’s Cathedral against the military ruling council, in Cairo on October 10, 2011, a day after 24 people, mostly Christians, died in clashes with Egyptian security forces. AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD HAMS (Photo credit should read MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images)

    Arguments & Analysis

    ‘Assad’s Alawites: The guardians of the throne’ (Nir Rosen, Al Jazeera English)

    “When Hafez al-Assad took power, he eased the Baath Party’s secularisation, attempting to reconcile Alawites with Sunni religious practices. He also proceeded to emasculate the Baath Party, turning it into the Assad Party. Alawite solidarity and the support of some rich Sunni families bound the regime together. And as the Baath Party, unions and syndicates were weakened, conservative Sunni Islam filled the social vacuum, with Islamic charities allowed to play a growing role. Sunni clerics were also given more freedom — which first increased the regime’s base of support, but now fuels divisions between Sunni groups and the Alawite-dominated security services. Iraq’s Saddam Hussein “Islamised” his Baath party to legitimise his rule, but the Alawite Assad family appear to fear giving a democratic opening to the Sunni majority will cause the entire system to collapse. The weakness of the Baath party also means the regime cannot mobilise people around anything but Bashar al-Assad, who took power following his father’s death in 2000. It is easy to tell if you’re in an Alawite area in Syria these days. It will be the place where every available space is festooned with pictures of President Bashar, his brother Maher or their father Hafez. It is a cult of personality, with walls bearing the graffiti: “Assad forever,” while men zip back and forth on motorcycles, all wearing t-shirts bearing Bashar’s portrait. An Alawite accent can help get you through a military checkpoint. The taxi driver who took me to the Damascus suburb of Duma — an opposition stronghold — was an Alawite from Latakia. He spoke to the officers at the checkpoint in an Alawite accent and told them I was Lebanese. They waved us in without looking at my identity card. Leaving the town later, however, without the protection of the Alawite cabbie, I was stopped and removed from the car.”

    ‘How liberals are losing the battle for Egypt’s future’ (Thanassis Cambanis, The Atlantic)

    Eight months after a euphoric wave of people power stunned Egypt’s complacent and abusive elite, it’s possible to see the clear outlines of the players competing to take over from Mubarak and his circle, and to assess the likely outcomes. The scorecard is distasteful. The uprising — it can’t yet be fairly termed a revolution — forced the regime to jettison its CEO, Hosni Mubarak, in order to preserve its own prerogatives. In the last two months, that regime has made clear how strong it feels. In September, in quick succession the military extended the hated state of emergency for another year, effectively rendering any notion of rule of law in Egypt meaningless; unilaterally published election rules that favor wealthy incumbents and remnants of the old regime, and that disadvantage new, post-Mubarak competitors; indefinitely postponed presidential elections, and refused any timetable for handing over authority to a civilian; reinstated full media censorship, threatening television stations and imposing a gag order on all reporting about the military; and the country’s authoritarian ruler, Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, unleashed a personal public relations campaign on state television odiously reminiscent of Mubarak’s image-making. Furthermore, the government advanced its investigation of “illegal NGOs” that allegedly took foreign money, including virtually every important and independent dissident organization.”

    ‘In Syria a U.S. diplomat is leading, not a soldier’ (David Ignatius, The Daily Star)

    “To meet the protesters, Ford has taken considerable personal risks. When he defied the government and bravely traveled to the embattled city of Hama in July, his vehicle was showered with roses by grateful protesters. But he was pelted with eggs and tomatoes by a pro-government mob when he visited an opposition leader in Damascus late last month. And the U.S. Embassy itself was attacked by pro-government thugs in July. Wherever he goes, Ford asks practical questions — pressing the activists about incentives for Syrian business, or reforming the government budget. He counsels the embattled protesters against military action — which would only bring on a vicious civil war. He thinks time works against Assad, if protesters can avoid the trap of sectarian conflict. It’s a narrow ledge that Ford is walking. But it’s good to see an American diplomat in the lead for a change, instead of the U.S. military.”

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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