City of Brass

City of Brass

VIDEO and TRANSCRIPT: Obama remarks on Egyptian revolution and Hosni Mubarak

Video is also at C-SPAN here. Scroll down for the transcript.

Also see Democracy Arsenal on how well the President’s handling of the Egypt situation has been, overall. There are naysayers however like Daniel Larison and Joshua Trevino.

Here is the transcript courtesy of the White House:

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  There are very few moments in our lives where we have the privilege to witness history taking place.  This is one of those moments.  This is one of those times.  The people of Egypt have spoken, their voices have been heard, and Egypt will never be the same.

     By stepping down, President Mubarak responded to the Egyptian people’s hunger for change.  But this is not the end of Egypt’s transition.  It’s a beginning.  I’m sure there will be difficult days ahead, and many questions remain unanswered.  But I am confident that the people of Egypt can find the answers, and do so peacefully, constructively, and in the spirit of unity that has defined these last few weeks.  For Egyptians have made it clear that nothing less than genuine democracy will carry the day.

     The military has served patriotically and responsibly as a caretaker to the state, and will now have to ensure a transition that is credible in the eyes of the Egyptian people.  That means protecting the rights of Egypt’s citizens, lifting the emergency law, revising the constitution and other laws to make this change irreversible, and laying out a clear path to elections that are fair and free.  Above all, this transition must bring all of Egypt’s voices to the table.  For the spirit of peaceful protest and perseverance that the Egyptian people have shown can serve as a powerful wind at the back of this change.

     The United States will continue to be a friend and partner to Egypt.  We stand ready to provide whatever assistance is necessary — and asked for — to pursue a credible transition to a democracy.  I’m also confident that the same ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit that the young people of Egypt have shown in recent days can be harnessed to create new opportunity — jobs and businesses that allow the extraordinary potential of this generation to take flight.  And I know that a democratic Egypt can advance its role of responsible leadership not only in the region but around the world.

     Egypt has played a pivotal role in human history for over 6,000 years.  But over the last few weeks, the wheel of history turned at a blinding pace as the Egyptian people demanded their universal rights.

     We saw mothers and fathers carrying their children on their shoulders to show them what true freedom might look like.

     We saw a young Egyptian say, “For the first time in my life, I really count.  My voice is heard.  Even though I’m only one person, this is the way real democracy works.”

     We saw protesters chant “Selmiyya, selmiyya” — “We are peaceful” — again and again.

     We saw a military that would not fire bullets at the people they were sworn to protect.

     And we saw doctors and nurses rushing into the streets to care for those who were wounded, volunteers checking protesters to ensure that they were unarmed.

     We saw people of faith praying together and chanting – “Muslims, Christians, We are one.”  And though we know that the strains between faiths still divide too many in this world and no single event will close that chasm immediately, these scenes remind us that we need not be defined by our differences.  We can be defined by the common humanity that we share.

     And above all, we saw a new generation emerge — a generation that uses their own creativity and talent and technology to call for a government that represented their hopes and not their fears; a government that is responsive to their boundless aspirations.  One Egyptian put it simply:  Most people have discovered in the last few days…that they are worth something, and this cannot be taken away from them anymore, ever.

     This is the power of human dignity, and it can never be denied.  Egyptians have inspired us, and they’ve done so by putting the lie to the idea that justice is best gained through violence.  For in Egypt, it was the moral force of nonviolence — not terrorism, not mindless killing — but nonviolence, moral force that bent the arc of history toward justice once more.


     And while the sights and sounds that we heard were entirely Egyptian, we can’t help but hear the echoes of history — echoes from Germans tearing down a wall, Indonesian students taking to the streets, Gandhi leading his people down the path of justice.

     As Martin Luther King said in celebrating the birth of a new nation in Ghana while trying to perfect his own, “There is something in the soul that cries out for freedom.”  Those were the cries that came from Tahrir Square, and the entire world has taken note.

     Today belongs to the people of Egypt, and the American people are moved by these scenes in Cairo and across Egypt because of who we are as a people and the kind of world that we want our children to grow up in.

     The word Tahrir means liberation.  It is a word that speaks to that something in our souls that cries out for freedom.  And forevermore it will remind us of the Egyptian people — of what they did, of the things that they stood for, and how they changed their country, and in doing so changed the world.

     Thank you.

  • YFred

    This is not a game. This is the fate of the globe. This involves the lives of tens of millions of people. Partisanship and scoring political points is irrelevant.
    Forget the spin; forget the ignorance about Egypt and the Middle East by instant experts (and sometimes by top intelligence officials). What has happened in the Egypt crisis?
    The first point—which I’ve been warning about for more than two years—are the shortcomings of current policy on several different levels. Following George W. Bush, many people thought, was an easy act to follow. But the quality of the American leadership has grown worse.
    There has been an attempt to spin President Husni Mubarak’s speech as some type of victory for the Obama Administration. Yet within hours this effort collapsed. The nation’s highest intelligence officials showed they had no idea what the Muslim Brotherhood represents, joked that they didn’t know any more than did CNN, and provided completely inaccurate information on the course of events in Egypt.
    It was the Egyptian army that decided that Mubarak had to go in order to preserve its own power and privileges.
    When the New York Times can write,
    “American officials said Mr. Panetta was basing his statement not on secret intelligence but on media broadcasts,” It seems that Panetta—not Mubarak–should resign not so much for getting the story wrong but for not understanding what his job is supposed to be.
    The president of the United States leapt into an issue he didn’t understand, put forward a bad policy, showed he didn’t comprehend the most basic principles of statecraft and diplomacy, publicly celebrated as if he were making a campaign speech projected events in Egypt that didn’t happen, and then admitted that he had no idea what was going on.
    Even some of his biggest left-wing fans had to admit this was a debacle. “The mystique of America’s superpower status has been shattered,” said Steve Clemons, of the New America Foundation.
    From the Middle East itself, the reviews are indeed shattering. The Saudis, just about the most cautious and conservative government there is in the world, publicly rebuked President Obama on his strategy. This is not primarily an issue concerning Israel. It’s an issue affecting anyone in the Middle East who opposes revolutionary Islamism and looks to the United States as a protector.
    Yet what seems to be the administration’s immediate response? Not to step back but to push harder on Egypt’s government to get rid of Mubarak and turn over power to the opposition faster. “The Egyptian people have been told that there was a transition of authority, but it is not yet clear that this transition is immediate, meaningful or sufficient,” Obama said.
    Meaningful for whom? Sufficient for whom? As for “immediate,” that’s an American conception. “Immediate” isn’t always good. Obama’s reaction to the events in Egypt was “immediate,” that is based on no good information, study, or planning.
    The Egyptian government better jump to appease the demonstrators or else! Is there no concept of regional stability, the battle against revolutionary Islamism, the dangers of anarchy, or the U.S. national interest? Apparently not.
    That’s the message Mubarak was trying to convey in his last public act: I am an Arab warrior not a community organizer.
    But why hasn’t anyone thought about comparing the obssession with Mubarak to the battle between the two Bush presidents and Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq? It’s worth thinking about. Saddam attacked two of his neighbors, supported terrorism, committed mass murder among his citizens, and tried to destroy U.S. interests. Mubarak has never attacked anyone, fights terrorism, and worked cooperatively with U.S. interests.
    As Jon Alterman, a Middle East specialist who supports Obama put it: “Egyptians enjoyed greater freedom of speech than many other Arabs, and Egypt’s economy was nurturing an increasingly robust private sector….[In the Freedom House survey] Egypt ranked as `partly free,’ ahead of every Arab country except Kuwait and Lebanon. In the last decade, Egypt’s stolid, dowdy, and state-owned press began giving way to satellite television and the Internet, and an array of independent publications.”
    Obviously, Mubarak’s regime was a dictatorship. People were arrested and tortured and censored. No doubt. But there is a question of degree. The worst dictatorships nowadays are all anti-American and are trying to spread their influence, often through violence. And it’s no accident that the “softer” dictatorships (like the shah and Mubarak) are more vulnerable from within than the all-out, flatten-anyone-who-opens-their-mouth authoritarian states like Saddam’s Iraq or Ahmadinejad’s Iran.
    And yet the sole apparent goal of U.S. policy today is the overthrow of not just Mubarak but of the entire Egyptian regime. Or, in other words, for the first time the United States and al-Qaida are on the same side. This is true at a time when the same U.S. government is nicely engaging Syria which combines torture with support for terrorism and killing Americans in Iraq.
    Here, too, is an important assumption that permeats left-wing (not real liberal) thinking about the world: things could be better easily if not for the evil people who have power and riches. Yet how could anyone make Egypt a better place, certainly with any speed?
    Where will the money come from to create jobs and raise living standards? No government–no matter how democratic–can succeed in this endeavor. And that leaves just two choices: repression and demagoguery; stop people from complaining or blame your neighbors and incite people to kill them. The Syrian regime, for example, does both.
    Among the flaws in the U.S. conception another is the idea that if enough people to demonstrate for change–even if they are less than one percent of the population–a government must give them what they want and everything will turn out all right.
    This is not how the Middle East works.
    Those in the American public debate have no idea of how they discredit themselves in the eyes of Middle Eastern people, both those who want to be their friends and those who are their fanatical adversaries.
    If you’ve spent decades reading Muslim Brotherhood speeches and seeing intelligence about what they say in private you are not likely to pay attention to those claiming that they are moderate.
    If you know your own people, you will snicker at those claiming that they are characterized by being or thinking like hip, Facebook-obsessed youth.
    It does not matter what all those well-dressed reporters and articulate “experts” say. They may impress everyone at a Manhattan cocktail party but that doesn’t mean anything in an Egyptian village or Cairo slum.

  • YFred

    Tarek Heggy
    The Muslim Brotherhood was launched in 1928 to restore a caliphate, a global religious government aimed at fighting the “non-believers” (specifically, Christians, Hindus, and Jews) and at spreading Islam. The group opposed the existence of any secular states in all Muslim societies throughout the Middle East.
    The Brotherhood killed Egypt’s Prime Minister Mahmud Fahmi Nuqrashi in 1948 and plotted to kill President Gamal Abdel Nasser in the early 1950s. An offshoot group, Islamic Jihad, led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, later Osama bin Laden’s number-two man, assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Al-Sadat in 1981 and tried to kill President Hosni Mubarak in 1995.
    I. Muslim Brothers’ Political Thought
    The Brotherhood remains extremely opposed to Western civilization and to a political peaceful settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Hamas is a Palestinian offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.
    This group’s political thinking can be summarized as follows:
    § Political Freedoms: Unlike Western democracies, which guarantee the political participation of every citizen regardless of ideology, opinion, or religion, the Muslim Brothers make the political participation of individuals in society subject to the principles of Islamic Sharia.
    § Freedom of Belief: The Muslim Brothers guarantee freedom of belief only for the followers of the three revealed (Abrahamic) religions, otherwise known as “the people of the Book.”
    § Personal Freedoms: While Western democracies guarantee the absolute freedom of the individual as long as it does not impinge on the freedom of others, the Muslim Brothers set freedom of thought within the strict parameters of a moral code derived from the Sharia.
    They call for the restoration of hisbah, which allows a private citizen to prosecute any individual who commits an act he considers a breach of the Sharia even if the plaintiff himself has not been personally injured by such an act.
    The right of hisbah was recently exercised by a private citizen in Egypt against the respected intellectual Dr. Nasr Hamad Abu Zayd, whose writings he considered as running counter to the teachings of Islam. The court ruled for the plaintiff, branding Dr. Abu Zayd an apostate and ordering him to divorce his wife on the grounds that a Muslim woman cannot be married to an apostate. Dr. Abu Zayd fled with his wife to the Netherlands.
    § Women’s Rights: In Western democracies, women enjoy the same political rights as men: they can hold public office and participate in political life without any restrictions based on gender. But as far as the Muslim Brothers are concerned, women’s political participation would be limited to municipal elections; there is no question, for example, of a woman ever becoming head of state. To further marginalize women and exclude them from any meaningful role in public life, the Muslim Brothers call for educational curricula to include material that is appropriate for women, tailored to suit their nature and role, as perceived by them. In addition to special curricula for girls, they insist on a complete segregation of the sexes in the classrooms, in public transportation, and in the workplace. The Islamist perception of women as lesser beings was illustrated in Kuwait, where Islamists temporarily blocked passage of a bill granting political rights to women.
    § The Economy: The Muslim Brothers call for the establishment of an economic system based on the respect of private property. At the same time, however, they insist that it be based on the principles of Islamic Sharia, which criminalizes bank interest. They also call for state ownership of public utilities.
    § System of Government: Contrary to the system of government applied in a democracy, which is based on the peaceful rotation of power through elections, the Muslim Brothers call for a system of government based on the principles of Sharia and the revival of the Islamic Caliphate.
    § Civil Society: The freedom of movement enjoyed by civil society organizations in a democracy would, in an Islamist system, be conditional on their adherence to the strictures of Sharia.
    § Government: The Muslim Brothers oppose the notion of a state based on democratic institutions, calling instead for an Islamic government based on the shura (consultative assembly) system, veneration of the leader, and the investiture of a Supreme Guide. In this they are close to Iran’s system.
    § Political Freedoms: While the legislative branch of government monitors the actions of the state to ensure that they conform to the rules of democracy, the actions of the state are monitored by the Muslim Brothers to ensure that they conform to the rules of Islamic Sharia.
    § The Arab-Israeli Conflict: The Muslim Brothers were the first to send volunteers to fight Israel when it was founded in 1948. They have opposed all attempts to reach a peaceful resolution of the conflict, in particular the peace agreements between Egypt and Israel initiated by the late President Sadat. It would be true to say that the Muslim Brothers will never recognize the existence of Israel as legitimate.
    § Religious Minorities: Although the Muslim Brothers of Egypt do not go as far as their counterparts in Saudi Arabia, where the construction of houses of worship for non-Muslims is prohibited, their position on the question of religious minorities include the barring of any non-Muslim from becoming president and the subjection of non-Muslims to the principles of Sharia on which the entire legal system is based.
    § The Legal System: The Muslim Brothers call for the establishment of a constitutional and legal system based on the principles of Sharia, including the application of corporal punishments in the penal code (stoning, lashing, cutting off the hands of thieves, etc.)
    § Violence against Civilians: The Muslim Brothers have never condemned the use of violence against civilians, except if it is directed against Muslim civilians and even that only selectively.
    Finally, “progress” in today’s world is realized by two tools, “science and modern management”; two qualities that the Muslim Brothers have neither access to nor interest in.
    II. The Necessity to Dialogue
    Nevertheless, the harsh and often illegal treatment to which the Muslim Brotherhood is subjected is both unacceptable legally and self-defeating in that it hardens attitudes on both sides. In fact, the only way to resolve this problem with the Islamists is through dialogue, by opening channels of communication and engaging in a frank interchange of views. Debating the issues is the only way to transform a religious party, in the long term, into a civil political party that subscribes to the main tenets of democracy: acceptance of the “Other”, rotation of power, and respect for other religions and for women.
    The transformation will be complete when political Islam abandons its distorted understanding of our religion from one rooted in the Middle Ages and reflecting the mentality of Bedouins bred in a harsh and unforgiving desert environment. Civil society is entitled to protect itself from any group that remains locked in a time warp and would have us all retreat with it into a distant past.
    As reform in Egypt is a thousand times better than its takeover by any of a number of alternatives so too is reform in Saudi Arabia a thousand times better than its takeover by alternatives that could plunge the entire region into unprecedented chaos. Maintaining the stability of Saudi Arabia and all its neighbours is imperative. But guaranteeing stability is impossible without a historical operation against the extremists. The question is whether the sane elements in Saudi Arabia will follow a course similar to the one taken by their famous forbearer eighty years ago or whether they will continue to coexist with them until the ship sinks with everyone on board.
    III. The Requirements of the Dialogue
    Dialogue with Islamists should be based on seeking the answers to the following questions:
    1. Some of the Muslim Brothers (MB’s) now expound the idea that Copts (Egyptian Christians) are “Fully First Class Egyptian Citizens.” Would this imply that a Copt could be, in principle, elected president of Egypt?
    2. Would the Muslim Brothers follow the Saudi model of segregating girls from boys in educational institutions such as schools and universities as well as all other organizations?
    3. Non-History-Related-Tourism (i.e., beach tourism) generates in excess of 75 percent of Egypt’s tourism revenues. What are the Brotherhood’s views on the sale of alcoholic beverages, gambling, and casinos, and women dressing in any way they choose?
    4. What is the Brotherhood’s opinion concerning the peace treaties between Egypt and Israel, and between Jordan and Israel?
    5. What do the MB’s think of the different forms of economic cooperation between Egypt and Israel (the Qualifying Industrial Zones [QIZ], in which joint enterprises receive special privileges for exporting goods to the United States, for instance)?
    6. How do the MB’s describe the killing of Israeli civilians in Hamas or Islamic Jihad suicide operations?
    7. Do the MB’s believe that Sayyid Qutb’s doctrine known as al-Hak’imiyya–that government must be based exclusively on Allah’s law and which rejects democracy and human law as apostasy—is still the basis of their political system?
    8. What are the views of the Brotherhood on women holding high government offices including ministries, the prime ministership, and Supreme Court judgeships?
    9. What are the group’s views on the vision of a “two state” solution for Israel and Palestine to live peacefully next to each other? Would they then accept and recognize the right of Israel to exist? Would they also accept that the Jewish section of Jerusalem is Israel’s capital?
    10. Egypt’s legal system since 1883 has been based on the juridical notions of the European legal system. What are the Brotherhood’s plans with this regard? And what do they think of physical punishments, such as the sanctions applicable in Saudi Arabia?
    11. Like all modern societies, the Egyptian banking system is based on the notion of interests for lending and savings. Will the Brotherhood keep it?
    12. Is Iran a factor of stability (or instability) in today’s world?
    Finally, one must know that the Brothers are likely to use taqqiyya, a principle which–according to some clerics such as Ibn Hanbal and Ibn Taymiyya–allows Muslims to lie if so doing assists them in ultimately defeating the infidels!

  • YFred

    Egypt and the Universal Rights of Women
    In 1799, the French artist Vivant Denon, accompanying a team of scientists traveling to Egypt with Napoleon (who excused his invasion with the logic that he was bringing democracy to the Arabs) was touring some ancient sites along the upper Nile when he came across an 8-year-old girl in severe pain. Writing in his journal, Denon noted that, “a cut, inflicted with equal brutality and cruelty, has deprived her of the means of satisfying the most pressing want, and occasioned the most horrible convulsions.” Denon was referring of course, to female genital mutilation. The Frenchman quickly pulled out a knife and performed a counter-operation, by which he “was able to save the life of this unfortunate little creature.”
    On another occasion, Denon (who went on to become the first director of the Louvre) encountered a bleeding, recently blinded woman carrying an infant in the desert outside Alexandria. She was begging for food and water. As the French stopped to offer aid, a man galloped up, claiming to be her husband, and demanded that they leave her alone. “‘She has lost her honor,'” the man shouted, according to Denon. “She has wounded mine, this child is my shame, it is the son of guilt!” The horrified French artist watched as the man then drew a dagger, stabbed the women and hurled the infant to the ground, killing it as well. Denon asked his Egyptian guides whether the man was not liable under the law for murder, and was informed that the man was within his rights, although the actual murder was frowned upon, and that after 40 days of wandering, the woman would have been eligible for charitable services.
    The French in 1800 were among the first westerners to visit and write about the lives of modern Arabs in Egypt. Besides the great pyramids, what struck them most forcibly was the abominable treatment of women. And while the archaeological treasure has been studied and secured, two hundred years later, unfortunately, much remains the same with respect to women’s rights.
    Ninety percent of Egyptian women are genitally mutilated, according to aid worker estimates. Although the practice was officially outlawed in 2007, gynecologists can still legally perform it “for health reasons.” Egyptian women can vote; they are significant part of the workforce and there were women in the recently disbanded Egyptian cabinet. But Egyptian women are not allowed to travel abroad without the permission of their husbands; they have difficulty initiating divorce; and they can’t become judges.
    As Egyptians rise up to demonstrate for their civil rights, the world watches with bated breath, wondering what man (for surely it will be a man) will succeed Mubarak, and whether he will be moderate — that is “friendly to Israel and Western ideas and mores” or a fundamentalist, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose strict interpretation of the Koran and anti-Western political and cultural bias would turn the delicate global balance upside down.
    What no one is talking about, though, is how deeply dangerous this time is for Egyptian women. The influence of extreme Islam has been growing there in recent years, so that for a bare-headed female to walk the streets of Cairo, even the tourist areas near the Egyptian Museum where I worked on my book about the French in Egypt in 2004, is to invite menacing looks, and muttered obscenities from men on the street.
    Whatever happens in Egypt, there’s an elephant in the room, and it’s pink. Despite the years of discussion around our “War on Terror,” we have not focused on the fact that misogyny is a fundamental pillar on which radical Islam is based. Freedom of women is what the Al Qaeda jihadis, as much as the Muslim Brothers in Egypt, most revile about the West. Women living in these parts of the world are severely discriminated against in ways that would be considered human rights violations if the same abuses were applied specifically to racial or ethnic groups.
    While women in the west, and many Asian nations, have begun to move toward gender equality in the past century, the Islamic fundamentalist regimes in Saudi Arabia and Iran, some African nations, and especially the Taliban, have moved backwards, with great violence and repression that harms millions of women and feeds jihadi fervor against the West. The influence of the Islamist/fundamentalist attitude toward women has spread to neighboring countries, and into countries in Europe where migration is occurring.
    To varying degrees, women in Islamist regimes are forced to wear blankets over their heads, marry in childhood, are denied education, denied freedom of movement, have little or no control over their finances, cannot divorce. Their most basic desires are thwarted at every turn: those who dare choose their own lovers are routinely murdered in so-called “honor killings.” Rape victims may be forced to marry their attackers.
    These horrific examples should make it ever more obvious to the world that subjugating females is the driving force behind Islamist rage. It was there in 9/11 attacker Mohammed Atta’s will, in which he demanded that no pregnant woman be allowed to come near his grave; it’s there in the acid attacks on pretty girls who dare say no to their men in Pakistan; it’s there in the stoning sentences for “adulterers” in Iran and Somalia, it’s there in the prohibition on women driving cars in Saudi Arabia, it’s there in the black blankets millions of women think — know — they must throw over their heads whenever they dare step outside their homes.
    With so much evidence piled up that the status of women in the West is what radical Islamist fighters revile most about us, the only question left is why haven’t the Western countries made support of women a fundamental element of the diplomatic, military and political response?
    The issue gets very little discussion in the foreign policy community. Five years ago, the National Committee on American Foreign Policy (NCAFP) deemed it appropriate to convene a roundtable on “Arab Women and the Future of the Middle East.” Afterward, a not-for-attribution summary report was produced for the foreign policy community containing the views and suggestions voiced at the April 14, 2005, roundtable. The first three recommendations were:
    • American foreign policy should be consistent: The United States must apply human rights standards uniformly in its relations with all the countries of the region.
    • When dealing with officials of Middle East countries, U.S. officials should always remind them of their obligations to respect human rights and women’s rights enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
    • The State Department should expand the section concerning women’s rights in its annual report.
    The U.S. has had three female Secretaries of State in the last 15 years, yet the human rights of women remain unaddressed, and the above recommendations have never been implemented.
    In March, 2010, Secretary of State Clinton was interviewed on MSNBC and asked what the Obama administration was doing for women’s rights globally. She mentioned three fronts: health care, which affects the infant mortality rate; food security and climate change. While these certainly help all people, they do not remotely rise to the level of a real response to the abuses women specifically face simple because they are female.
    For years, our governments have treated outrageous depredations against women as quaint cultural customs. Only the French have officially rejected the burka, and for that that faced international criticism about “racism.”
    Of course womanhood is not a “race,” and that may be the problem. If blacks or Jews were consistently mistreated the way women are from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan, and in many of the nations in between, the United Nations, the Europeans, and the people of the United States wouldn’t stand for it, and our elected representatives would be holding hearings, issuing sanctions, putting the issue front and center every single day.
    In Egypt in 1899, a male judge named Qassem Amin caused an uproar when he penned a book called The Liberation of Women, arguing that improving the status of women would help Egypt develop. Amin blamed Egypt’s falling under European power, despite centuries of ancient learning and civilization, on the low social and educational standing of Egyptian women.
    A century on, women remain severely discriminated against in Egypt and throughout the region, especially in extremist regimes in the Gulf States and under the Taliban. The reversals women face after revolutions in these areas are horrific. The case of Iran is well-known. In Iraq, so recently secular under the dictator, millions of women have now donned the black blanket out of sheer fear and have seen their mobility decrease.
    The effort to keep women segregated is at the heart of the regional cultural bias against women, and it is true that it is an old tradition. When Napoleon invaded Cairo, the Egyptians barely resisted at first. They only revolted when Napoleon ordered his soldiers to break down the many doors in Cairo streets and alleys that kept neighborhoods walled off, and women safely incarcerated in their communities.
    But Islamist efforts to keep women segregated in these modern times have reached ridiculous levels. Iraqis whisper that extremists have even shot storekeepers for stowing “male and female vegetables” (cucumbers and tomatoes apparently) together. An Egyptian cleric in 2009 decreed that men and women may only work together in offices if the women have breast-fed the men. That cleric was forced to retract the decree, and was fired, then reinstated. But the decree was reiterated by another cleric in Saudi Arabia.
    Increased limitation on female mobility is a hallmark of Islamic resurgence, and this should be recognized as a backlash against the model of increasing women’s rights elsewhere. “Women’s liberation movements in the Muslim world were viewed as Western contaminations aimed at the destruction of Islam from within,” wrote Lamia Rustum Shahedah, in Arab Studies Quarterly, in an article about the theoretical bases of Islamic fundamentalist attitudes toward women. “Accordingly, all resurgents allotted the female status a major part of their corpus, the most radical stipulating complete segregation of women to the home environment. Thus, men will direct the Islamic society while women sustain, nurture, and propagate the family, the nucleus of society.”
    We in the West should reconsider our own definition of the boundary between a cultural trait and a human rights violation, as it pertains to women. An extremist takeover of Egypt will be a disaster for Egyptian women, who must hope that the future will be better for their daughters than for them, and that whatever new society is being formed takes into account the universal – not just Western – human rights of women. The world and moderates among the Egyptian people must keep the human rights of women front and center in the discourse as they watch Cairo, and other Arab nations, transform themselves.

  • Teed Rockwell

    So, YFred, what exactly are you saying Obama should have done? Throw its support behind a dictator/strongman, because the alternative might be worse? That was our strategy with the Shah of Iran, and that didn’t work out so well, did it?
    As always, Obama is faced with tough choices, and is blamed by someone no matter what he does. It’s true that the Muslim Brotherhood used to be terrible, and is still pretty bad. There are now moderate voices within the brotherhood, but they might be either lying or powerless. The brotherhood’s support is not that large, but they could become more popular or overthrow the democracy by force. If they take power, things could get worse. But the Shah’s attempts to block dissent with torture and arrest were ultimately what led to his overthrow, and our support of him put us on the wrong side of history. Obama is making a dangerous choice, but both choices are dangerous. It certainly doesn’t justify your rants about Obama’s alleged amateurism
    I do appreciate your thorough research, although I would appreciate some footnotes. Cut the rants, try to be a little less selective and cherry-picking, and your readers are more likely to take you seriously

  • Mike Hanson

    I think there a lot of stories are not related to Islam, for sure, the girl genital wound was and still is, but it was an old Egyptian way woman circumcises, not related to Islam as far as I know\.
    The in Islam Sharia has no right to harm his wife whatsoever, if he does, he will face severe punishment?
    Some others, blamed Obama for not standing to Mubarak to help him stay in power??
    That is to what I think was totally wrong? Obama did the right thing, and I laud him for being swift and keeping up with contemporary style of political flexibility, he matched the side of the people of Egypt? He showed them that America is not the people enemy, but she always wants democracy, against corruption, and helps the tyrannized. Hey, If people of Egypt or any other nationality decides to haft a freedom and get rid of their tyrant, then, no matter whatever we try, the people will get their choice. To Obama, he put our interests ahead of any speculation, or any of these our old inclination, he moved to please the revolutionaries in Egypt in order to hold foot step over there.
    You see, if Obama dragged his feet, moved slowly, by now, definitely, we out of it, in precise word, we lost, and we might have no one to represent us there, we are gone with Husni regime. So, I think Obama collected a good credit for his move on Egypt issue.
    So, YFred cool it? NeoCon time is over.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment virend kaushik

    I do appreciate your thorough research, although I would appreciate some footnotes. Cut the rants, try to be a little less selective and cherry-picking, and your readers are more likely to take you seriously


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posted 9:33:46am Mar. 13, 2015 | read full post »

Proud to be American, proud to be Muslim
This is a guest post by Safiya Dahodwala. Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS graced the land of America for the first time as the 53rd Dai (spiritual leader) of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community. It has been nearly a decade since his predecessor, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin bestowed his bountiful bl

posted 12:58:00pm Mar. 05, 2015 | read full post »

is ISIS Islamic? Wrong question.
There is an excellent longform essay on ISIS published in The Atlantic, "What does ISIS Really Want?" that lays out an excellent case fore ISIS being genuinely different in ideology, motivation and ethos than Al Qaeda. The real question boils down to, is ISIS "Islamic" or not - and makes an excellen

posted 11:34:08pm Feb. 17, 2015 | read full post »

The Price of Extremism
This is a guest post by Durriya Badani. The execution style murder of three young North Carolina students, two of whom were hijab wearing Muslim women, raises questions regarding the rise of Islamaphobia in the United States in the form of hate crimes. Some will argue that the motive for the inc

posted 11:26:53am Feb. 12, 2015 | read full post »


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