Tag Archives: Morsi

The war of words, videos and facebook profiles

The bloodbath in Egypt is growing every day.

The New York Times reports that more than 1000 people have been killed in the past week, the most violent period in modern Egyptian history, and it seems that the social fabric of Egyptian society is disintegrating, as these gruesome videos attest.

Neither side shows any signs of backing down. Both sides sound righteous and determined to prevail. As the propaganda and demonization grow more intense each day, the poor Egyptians caught in the middle are the ones who are suffering. They were promised another election soon, but I hope no one is holding their breath.

The propaganda war is hurting the Palestinians too. Lina Attalah explains how the Egyptian media is demonizing Palestinians in this short 16 minute podcast.

General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the Egyptian military want to strike fear in the hearts of Egyptians and Western audiences by justifying their massacres as a war on “terrorists”.  (Oh, I hate that word!) They learned their lessons well from President George W. Bush and the US Army War College.

Egyptian General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi

Egyptian General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi

And the anti-coup, pro-Morsi demonstrators are fighting a battle on the streets and on their computers too. I’ve been bombarded with blog posts, Facebook posts, Tweets and YouTube videos “explaining” the truth and warning me not to be duped by the other side’s propaganda.

ARRGGHHHH!  Some moments I just want to throw up my hands in disgust.

Now some youth in Gaza are taking up Tamarrod’s banner (that’s the group in Cairo that began the petition process to oust President Morsi). They have released a video (in Arabic) calling for Hamas to step down. I’m sure Fatah and Israel are pleased.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is very happy that President Morsi has been overthrown and Jamal Nazzal, a senior Fatah representative, called on Palestinians to overthrow Hamas in the wake of the events in Egypt.

I would caution those youth to be very careful. Hamas doesn’t take kindly to dissension within the ranks. They might very well consider these youth, as idealistic as they may be, are traitors doing Fatah’s bidding. What I really think these youth, and many others in Gaza, want is a chance to have another election. I hope they don’t hold their breath.

I want to show my solidarity with the RIGHT side in Egypt …. but which is the RIGHT side in this confusing turn of events?

  • Certainly not the Egyptian military. They are slaughtering innocent civilians with impunity.
  • Certainly not the Tamarrod, liberal-elites and anti-Morsi, pro-coup supporters. They’re in bed with the military and deep state complex which will soon release President Mubarak.
  • I’m not a fan of President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood either. Morsi clearly over-reached and made many mistakes. Perhaps his biggest mistake was trusting the military. Or maybe it was not bringing the other political factions into his government. He pissed off ALOT of people.

I am supporting the Egyptian people who want a peaceful transition to a democratic, secular government that works for the public good. When I heard about the young engineer who died in the Rabaa massacre, I knew who I was going to stand in solidarity with. He was not an extremist. I was told he opposed the Muslim Brotherhood and wanted early elections. When he realized the coup had been hijacked, he joined the protesters at the sit-in.


Just a few hours before the massacre on August 14, anti-coup protesters in Egypt were struggling to voice their demands to the world by raising their four fingers. The “Rabaa sign” has now become the symbol of the massacre. Rabaa al-Adawiya Square is as famous as Tahrir Square in Cairo because of the hundreds of thousands of anti-coup protesters who sat in there for more than two months.

I added the Rabaa sign to my Facebook profile a few days ago, standing in solidarity with those who denounce the massacre. To be expected, the R4BIA sign has developed a meme of its own with many variations. Some are critical of the original message, others are downright derisive.

"Raba" - This is the original Rabaa solidarity poster denouncing the massacre that started this whole saga on Facebook

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Filed under Egypt, People, Politics, Video

Bridging the fault line in Egypt

I’ve sat glued in front of the laptop watching the news feed on Facebook and Twitter about the events in Egypt.

No, not events.  A massacre!

Early Wednesday morning, the Egyptian military and security forces surrounded the two encampments in Cairo where pro-Morsi supporters have hung out since President Morsi was forcibly removed from office on July 3.  The demonstrators are demanding that Morsi be returned to power.

The Egyptian military is now in power and they show no signs of taking orders from anyone. More than 500 people were killed, 1000s injured, the vast majority of them pro-Morsi supporters.

One Egyptian commentator said there has never been this level of violence and killing in a single day in Egypt —- not even during Mubarak’s 30-year reign nor during the January 2011 revolution when Mubarak was overthrown.

Some of the people killed in Egypt yesterday were doctors, heart surgeons, engineers, photographers, journalists, etc. This guy is an engineer. He was not an extremist. I was told he opposed the Muslim Brotherhood and wanted early elections. When he realized the coup had been hijacked, he joined the protesters at the sit-in and was killed yesterday.


Egyptians are very polarized.  Activists and international observers are taking sides and becoming polarized too. I’ve never seen such demonization, not even in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  

The two sides are engaged in a very intense Facebook debate which goes something like this:

“There was no other way to get rid of Morsi. He and his Muslim Brotherhood were dangerous for our country and dangerous for democracy because they were grabbing power to build an Islamist nation.  We had to stop them before it was too late.  This coup was a civilian coup, not a military coup.  Millions of Egyptians spoke with one voice and the military heard us and acted on our behalf.”

The other side argues:

“Morsi won in a fair election, millions of Egyptians voted and their voices were heard in 2012.  Some of us support him now and want him to fulfill his election promises. Some of us never supported him and don’t support him now, but we support the dream of a democracy where decisions are made at the ballot box, not with guns.  After the coup, all Egyptians will be the losers because only bloodshed and civil war will follow.”

There are elements of truth on both sides but how do Egyptians move forward?  If only countries had a reset button!

I fear for the future of Egypt, it could be worse than the Mubarak’s regime. I fear for my new friends in Cairo. My friends in government who helped me secure passage through the Rafah border to Gaza.  My friends at the lodging where I spent weeks in Cairo and they became my family away from home. My friends who work in the NGOs and the think tanks in Cairo who are so bright and intelligent and deserve a future equally bright. The young man who sold me a candy bar every evening from his stand on the sidewalk. The young boy who should have been in school but instead was on the same spot every day making sandwiches and had such a wonderful smile. My Egyptian friend who is a Fulbright scholar in Albuquerque and wants to return to his home when he finishes his PhD. I fear for all of them. My heart breaks.

And bridging the fault line in Egypt seems impossible.


Filed under Egypt, People, Video

The Grand Scam: Spinning Egypt’s Military Coup

Eslam Al-Amin has written one of the most insightful pieces I’ve read about the events leading up to the military coup in Egypt.  The Grand Scam: Spinning Egypt’s Military Coup in Counterpunch (July 19-21 weekend edition).  Based on this article, I’ve just purchased his new book on Kindle — The Arab Awakening Unveiled: Understanding Transformations and Revolutions in the Middle East.

Why do I think Eslam Al-Amin’s commentary is head and shoulders above most other analyses written about the Egyptian military coup?

  • Many do not connect the dots, don’t question the dominant story, and don’t have the historical knowledge to put 2 + 2 together.
  • Many are just plain hypocritical.  When is a military coup not a military coup?  George Orwell would get a kick out of the journalistic gymnastics that some writers have engaged in over the past 3 weeks.
  • Many don’t support their opinions with anything more than other people’s opinions.  “He said it, so it must be so.”  Al-Amin is very good on linking to factual sources.  He’s not making up news out of whole-cloth.
  • And his writing style is direct and biting.  I love it!

ElBaradei, who was elected to nothing, is now Egypt’s Vice President, while Morsi, who was freely and democratically elected by the Egyptian electorate, is detained and his whereabouts are unknown. Both of these outcomes were determined by the will of military generals and cheered on by their civilian enablers. The deceit and lies demonstrated by the Egyptian liberal and secular elites are astounding. For years, they taunted the Islamists to respect democratic principles, the rule of law, and submit to the will of the people. They warned against dictatorships, military rule, or sacrificing democratic principles, human rights, personal freedoms, and minority protections. Believing in democratic principles, human rights, and the rule of law is a lifetime commitment. One cannot say, “I will only have these values on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. But for the rest of the week, I will look the other way.” That is called hypocrisy.

Read it ….. believe me, it’s worth the time.

President Mohamed Morsi

President Mohamed Morsi


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Filed under Egypt, Media, People, Politics

Who to believe in Egypt?

Cairo Skyline

Cairo Skyline

To the casual observer, Egypt appears in a mess these days.  It certainly is fair to say that Egypt is in crisis-mode since President Morsi was forcefully removed by the military.

Some people want to call it a coup  but others react vociferously to anyone questioning his overthrow.

From a former Facebook friend (an Egyptian-American living in the U.S.) who unfriended me for disagreeing with him:

33 million individuals went on the streets and squares all over Egypt major cities to get rid of the terrorist regime. MB is a terrorist regime known for their criminal acts and millions that did not come out but support. The Majority of peoples in Egypt request to step down and the Army support the majority….Got the message? IT IS A REVOLUTION WHETHER YOU AGREE OR NOT. THE LAST WORD FOR THE PEOPLE NOT FOR THE TERRORIST

Another Facebook friend, an Egyptian living in Cairo, did not support Morsi but believes the 2012 election was fair and he should be given the opportunity to complete his term in office.  She values the rule of law.

A third Facebook friend, an Egyptian studying in the U.S. as a Fulbright scholar with plans to return to his country next year, told me he supports Morsi and is upset that the military removed him.  What type of ‘democracy’ is this when a lawfully elected President can be forcefully removed?

As an American observing these events from afar, the ONLY thing I know for sure is that there is much disagreement about what happened last week in Egypt and what should happen moving forward.

Here’s what I suspect:

  • President Morsi made many mistakes during his short 12-months in office and was incapable of governing for all Egyptians.  He wanted to transform Egypt into an Islamist nation, and he thought that he was immune from the will of the people after election day.  He had opportunities to correct his course and save his presidency, but he was stubborn and refused.  
  • The military has always been in charge in Egypt.  They were in charge during Mubarak’s 30-year reign.  They were in charge after Morsi was elected.  They are in charge today.  I have heard that the Egyptian military accounts for 40% of the nation’s economy because they are so heavily involved in the private sector.  The 2011 “revolution” did not bring democracy to Egypt.  The 2013 coup will not bring democracy either.
  • Egyptians are suffering.  Their economy has nose-dived, unemployment has sky-rocketed, tourism has dried up, and the basics (food and fuel) are in short supply.  People who are hurting as much as Egyptians are hurting can’t be expected to sit at home quietly and “suck it up.” I suspect that many Egyptians on the streets this month who were demanding Morsi’s removal were desperately pleading for jobs and stability rather than fearing an Islamist nation.
  • Regional and international interests played a role in the Egyptian coup.  The U.S. doesn’t want to call it a coup because then it wouldn’t be allowed by law to send the F-16s and $$ to Egypt. Turkey denounced the coup and demanded that Morsi be returned to power. Syria’s Assad seemed pleased with the coup.  Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia promised to send LOTS of $$ to the new interim government in Egypt, signaling their approval of the coup.  Even Qatar’s new leader showed his support for the coup.  No doubt, Israel is happy that the Muslim Brotherhood has been ousted.
  • Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority, congratulated Egyptians and urged Palestinians in Gaza to follow their example by ousting Hamas from the Gaza Strip.
  • The Muslim Brotherhood will be persecuted and worse in Egypt and in the Gulf States for the foreseeable future.
  • Many Palestinians inside and outside of Gaza are caught because of the Rafah border closing.  Medical patients can’t travel to get medical attention; students can’t travel to their universities; pilgrims can’t travel to Mecca; and many can’t return to their families in Gaza.

Who are the winners?  Losers?

I think the clear winner is the Egyptian military – no doubt about it.

The clear loser is the Muslim Brotherhood.   And I might add democracy.

Between those two extremes are the millions of Egyptians.  It’s too soon to tell but I fear the worse.


Filed under Egypt, Politics

My answer

While the post-coup developments in Egypt begin to unfold, there are many thoughtful commentators in the press and online essentially Monday-morning quarterbacking and speculating about what happens next.  I confess, I am doing it also, see here.

There are strong opinions opposing Morsi and supporting the military coup.  There are equally strong opinions supporting Morsi and opposing the coup.

It seems clear — you are either with “the people” or “with Morsi.”

False!   That is a false dichotomy and simplistic and I refuse to fall into that trap.

I’m not an Egyptian and so I understand those people who discount the opinions of Westerners.  I can’t vote in Egyptian elections.  I can’t demonstrate in Tahrir Square.  My blood is not going to be spilt.  But I am a citizen of the world and I believe to the bottom of my core that we are all connected, we can all learn from each other, and we all have a responsibility to treat our brothers and sisters as we hope they will treat us.

A friend of mine from Germany supports the Egyptians on the street today demanding a new government.  He asked me some very good questions.

  • Is Democracy only about elections? How about behaving democratically after you have gained power?
  • And what about sovereignty of the people after an election. Is it OK to establish authoritarian regimes after you gained a majority in elections? Is democracy just the rule of the majority with no rights for the minority?
  • Was Hitler the legitimate ruler of Germany after March 1933 because he won the elections and had the majority behind him?  Was it OK to deprive Germans of all of their rights and establish a racist order? What kind of democratic attitude is that?

Thoughtful questions deserve a thoughtful response.  I’ve given it some thought.

No, democracy is not only found at the polling box on election day, although the election process is very important.  In the United States, we are in danger of losing our democracy because of the money flowing into our elections (Citizens United decision) and the redistricting shenanigans and voter disenfranchisement and fraud.  Elections are very important.

No, it is not OK to establish an authoritarian regime after winning an election.  The Economist wrote about Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan who won a majority of the votes in three elections but then believed he could govern as he pleased without listening to his people.  Last month Erdogan arrested the lawyers and closed down the media.  And the world watched as Turks rose up and rebelled.

President Morsi failed miserably to be the President of all Egyptians.  He believed his legitimacy came only from the ballot-box and he could ignore the voices calling for a secular government.  I understand the opposition felt it had no choice but I wonder how much of the old guard from the old regime (Mubarak cronies) and liberal-secularists were conspiring all along to malign and demonize Morsi.  And I wonder how much of the emotion on the streets was cynically manipulated.  Isn’t it interesting that the fuel shortages escalated just days before June 30th but suddenly disappeared after the military coup?

The Economist writes about crass majoritarianism as a “zombie democracy.”  Do millions of people in the streets = democracy?  What about the millions who stayed at home?   What about the millions who support Morsi?  

I don’t believe Morsi won his legitimacy at the ballot-box, just as I don’t believe the millions demonstrating in the streets can strip him of his legitimacy.  Sometimes leaders have to make unpopular decisions — just ask President Obama about that.  The tyranny of the majority can be ugly.

What is the difference between what happened in Turkey last month and in Egypt this week?  Both nations have elected leaders who believed their legitimacy came from the ballot-box and they were prepared to rule over a “zombie democracy.” Millions of people rose up, but Erdogan is still in power and Morsi is out.  Why?

Perhaps because Turkey and the Turks have more experience with democratic governance, and they have the institutions (independent judiciary, media, parliament or Grand National Assembly) to check Erdogan’s abuses.

Perhaps because Turkey and the Turks do not have a military weaned on corrosive perks and power.  A military coup was not possible.

Perhaps because Turkey and the Turks have a longer history of multi-culturalism and pluralism.

Perhaps because Turkey and the Turks are not suffering under the same economic woes that are plaguing Egypt.

Egyptians have a long way to go before they have anything resembling the secular democracy that Turkey has today, if that is what Egyptians want.

But what happened this week in Egypt was not democracy in action, it was a military coup.  I fear the repercussions will be felt for a long, long time.

Egyptians in the Cairo underground Metro.

Egyptians in the Cairo underground Metro.


Filed under Egypt, Elections, People

A military coup – now what?

The events in Egypt this week have many commentators and pundits asking “When is a coup not a coup?”

Just to be clear, the definition of a coup –

  1. A sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from a government.
  2. A notable or successful stroke or move.

I’ve been watching the “debate” between my pro- and anti-Morsi friends on my Facebook page.   Those in favor of getting rid of Morsi prefer to focus on his misdeeds and missteps and avoid the term “coup” because that connotes a misdeed as well.

My friends who support Morsi are outraged by the mob rule and the military coup.  They have no qualms calling it a coup.  Neither does Turkey.

“Whatever the reason is, it is unacceptable that a democratically-elected government was overthrown by illegitimate means, even more, with a military coup,” the Turkish minister added, calling for an immediate end to Morsi’s arrest.

Contrast that with the statement made by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who expressed hope that [the new acting President Adli Mansour] would fulfill the aspirations of the Egyptian people to “live in freedom, dignity and stability.”  Abbas praised the Egyptian army and its commanders for preserving the country’s security and preventing it from slipping toward the abyss.  Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a top aide to Abbas, saluted the Egyptian army for the “wonderful achievement.”

Robert Fisk’s piece in the Independent (July 5) exposes the West’s [and I might add Abbas’] hypocrisy.  Obama certainly won’t call it a coup because the U.S. law would require him to withhold the $1.5 billion our government sends Egypt regularly. Fisk also notes:

And there is one salient fact about the events of the last 48 hours in Egypt. No one is happier – no one more satisfied nor more conscious of the correctness of his own national struggle against ‘Islamists’ and ‘terrorists’ — than Assad. The West has been wetting itself to destroy Assad – but does absolutely nothing when the Egyptian army destroys its democratically-elected president for lining up with Assad’s armed Islamist opponents.

Cairo Skyline

Cairo Skyline

A medical doctor, Hassaan Choudry, wrote:

Today is a throbbing day for democracy, rule of law, legitimacy, truth, factuality, principle and any other word that fits into the same category. An elected head of the state, with a victory margin of a million votes, was overthrown by an army chief who said blatantly and shamelessly ‘this is not a coup‘.  Shadi Hamid, a renowned analyst on Egypt and the director of research at the Brookings Institute, Doha, was almost spontaneous when he replied‘If this is not a coup, the word “military coup” no longer have any meaning‘.

The Economist, in my opinion, has provided the most cogent description of Morsi’s one year in office, the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and the events leading up to the coup.  Check it out here.  I must agree with the editor of The Economist:

“This week we put Egypt on the cover, without enthusiasm. Some people—including many Egyptians—are cheering the ouster of the Islamist president, Muhammad Morsi. We think it a tragedy. It sets a dreadful precedent for the region, in that it encourages discontented people to get rid of their leaders by disrupting their rule, not by voting them out, and it encourages Islamists to distrust democracy. The army can mitigate the situation by holding elections swiftly and cleanly, but much damage has already been done.”

Young Egyptian selling flags near Tahrir Square.

Young Egyptian selling flags near Tahrir Square.

What can the world expect now?

  • Violence, a lot of it.  For days, weeks, and maybe months to come.
  • At least one commentator thinks this revolt will fuel the Al-Qaeda fires.
  • Military rulers will delay elections until calm is restored, or so they will say.
  • Tourists and tourism dollars, tepid before the coup, will dry up completely now.  And forget foreign investment.
  • That IMF loan?  Forget it.  And there’s a good chance that loan from Qatar will disappear too.
  • The long lines at the fueling stations will disappear because the fuel will all but disappear too.
  • Hunger will rise because the lack of fuel means farmers can’t run their wells and can’t irrigate their fields and can’t get the wheat to markets.
  • The 13+% unemployment in Egypt has nowhere to go but up.
Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza

Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza

As dire as all of this sounds for Egyptians, my concern (truth be told) is with Gaza.  How will this coup impact the Palestinians in Gaza who share a border with Egypt, the only lifeline to the outside world since Israel has hermetically sealed this small enclave (air, land, and sea)?

  • Israel must be pleased that the Egyptian army is back in power.  They can count on the Egyptian military being good sycophants, just as they can with the U.S. Congress, to keep the Palestinians penned in.  
  • Hamas will again be blamed for the unrest in Egypt. Many Egyptians believe Hamas is responsible for the abduction and killing of Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai.  Hamas denies it, but how do you prove a negative?  Israel must be pleased with that predicament.
  • Movement in and out of Gaza through the Rafah border crossing will be much more difficult, if not impossible, for the next days and weeks. Two Palestinian friends of mine are outside waiting to return home.  I wonder how long they can wait.
  • Food, fuel, medicine and many other goods that enter Gaza illegally through the tunnels will not come. I’ve heard some Palestinian officials outside of Gaza call for the closure of the tunnels because all trade should be transparent and legal.  My response? “Damn right it should be. Tell that to the Israelis who have blockaded Gaza for the past 7 years, forcing this tunnel economy to emerge.”
  • PA President Abbas is calling for Palestinians to overthrow Hamas now.  Whatever happened to the notion of reconciliation and building a democratic Palestinian state? Hamas was democratically elected, right?
  • Finally, will I be able to return to Gaza now?   That’s on my mind.

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Filed under Egypt, Elections, Gaza, Hamas, Israel, People, US Policy

The Declaration of Interdependence

On the eve of Independence Day (the 4th of July) that we celebrate in the USA, my thoughts are torn in two directions.

First, towards Egypt where a military coup has ousted President Morsi, and Egyptians are fighting each other.  Sadly, this politics of dominance … not partnership … in Egypt is threatening the country’s stability, but I don’t hear anyone speaking of working together with the opposition, the Islamists, or a politics of interdependence.

And I’m also thinking of Mora County, New Mexico where impassioned residents have convinced local elected officials to adopt an ordinance which will require Mora County to secede from the State and the US under certain circumstances.  Sadly, this politics of separation and division is undermining true reform and a politics of interdependence.

How do we change mindsets entrenched in the “us v. them” paradigm?  David Suzuki wrote the Declaration of Interdependence 21 years ago.  I wish people would take it to heart.

Declaration of Interdependence in Arabic

هﺬا ﻣا ﻧعﺮﻓﻪ:
نحن االرض من خالل النبات والحيوان الذي يقتات منها.
نحن االمطار واملحيطات التي ترسي يف عروقنا.
نحن انفاس غابات االرض ونباتات البحر.
نحن حيوانات برشية متصلة بباقي االحياء وكلنا ننحدر من اول خلية ولدت.
نشارك كل هؤالء االقارب بتاريخ مشرتك مسطر يف موروثنا.
نشارك حارض مشرتك مليئ بالغموض.
نحن البرش لسنا إال واحدا من ثالثني بليون كائن يشكل نسيج غطاء رقيق يغلف العامل.
ان استقرار مجتمعات االحياء يعتمد عىل هذا التنوع.
وألننا مرتبطني بهذا النسيج فأن علينا استعامل وتطهري ومد اسباب الحياة للعنارص االولية للحياة.
كوكب االرض بيتنا ليس متناهيا وبالتايل فالحياة تتقاسم موارده وطاقته من الشمس وعليه فان هناك.
حدودا للنمو
لقد المسنا هذه الحدود للمره االوىل.
عندما نعرض للخطر الهواء واملياه والرتبة وانواع الحياة فاننا لهذا نرسق من مستقبل ال حدود له يف.
سبيل خدمة حارضسينقيض رسيعا.

بهﺬا ﻧؤﻣن …
لقد اصبح البرش هائل العدد وبامكانات قوية اىل حد اننا تسببنا يف انقراض احياء وطوقنا االنهار.
العظيمة بالسدود ومزقنا الغابات االثرية وسممنا االرض واملطر والهواء وشققنا ثقوبا يف السامء.
علومنا اتت باألمل كام بالفرح وكانت راحتنا عىل سبيل معاناة املاليني.
نحن االن نتعلم من اخطائنا ونحن ننعي تاليش اقاربنا ولذا فاننا االن نريس سياسة أمل جديدة.
نحن نحرتم ونتمسك بالحاجة املاسة لهواء وماء وتربة نظيفة.
نحن نرى انها خاطئة تلك الفعاليت االقتصادية التي ينتفع منها القلة وتؤدي اىل تقليص من يرث ما.
=منحته الطبيعة للجميع
وحيث ان االنحالل او التفسخ البيئي يؤدي اىل تآكل ابدي ملخزون رأس املال االحيايئ )البيولوجي).
وعليه فأن الكلفة الكاملة للتكلفة االجتامعية وكلفة العالقة بني االحياء وبيئتها يجب ان تدخل يف كافة.
حسابات التنمية
نحن لسنا إال جيل قصري يف مسرية الزمن الطويلة وأن املستقبل ليس لنا لنحميه.
ولهذا فعندما تكون املعارضة محدودة بحدود سنتذكر هؤالء اللذين سيسريون بعدنا, ونخطئ اىل جانب.

بهﺬا ﻧقﺮر …
من كل ما نعرفه ونؤمن به يجب ان يكون األساس لطريقة حياتنا.
ومن نقطة تحول عالقتنا باالرض نعمل لالنتقال من السيطرة اىل املشاركة ومن الترشذم اىل التواصل.
ومن الشعور بعدم األمان اىل شعور اإلتكال بعضنا عىل االخر.

Declaration of Interdependence in English.

This we know

We are the earth, through the plants and animals that nourish us.
We are the rains and the oceans that flow through our veins.
We are the breath of the forests of the land, and the plants of the sea.
We are human animals, related to all other life as descendants of the firstborn cell.
We share with these kin a common history, written in our genes.
We share a common present, filled with uncertainty.
And we share a common future, as yet untold.
We humans are but one of thirty million species weaving the thin layer of life enveloping the world.
The stability of communities of living things depends upon this diversity.
Linked in that web, we are interconnected — using, cleansing, sharing and replenishing the fundamental elements of life.
Our home, planet Earth, is finite; all life shares its resources and the energy from the sun, and therefore has limits to growth.
For the first time, we have touched those limits.
When we compromise the air, the water, the soil and the variety of life, we steal from the endless future to serve the fleeting present.

This we believe

Humans have become so numerous and our tools so powerful that we have driven fellow creatures to extinction, dammed the great rivers, torn down ancient forests, poisoned the earth, rain and wind, and ripped holes in the sky.
Our science has brought pain as well as joy; our comfort is paid for by the suffering of millions.
We are learning from our mistakes, we are mourning our vanished kin, and we now build a new politics of hope.
We respect and uphold the absolute need for clean air, water and soil.
We see that economic activities that benefit the few while shrinking the inheritance of many are wrong.
And since environmental degradation erodes biological capital forever, full ecological and social cost must enter all equations of development.
We are one brief generation in the long march of time; the future is not ours to erase.
So where knowledge is limited, we will remember all those who will walk after us, and err on the side of caution.

This we resolve

All this that we know and believe must now become the foundation of the way we live.
At this turning point in our relationship with Earth, we work for an evolution: from dominance to partnership; from fragmentation to connection; from insecurity, to interdependence.

The Declaration of Interdependence in 18 languages.

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Martyrdom is not democracy in action!

I’m growing alarmed as the hours tick down on the ultimatum issued by Egypt’s military.

President Morsi has been calling for meetings with the opposition for weeks, but the opposition has boycotted any meetings.  One of the opposition leaders (there are many and that’s what makes this so complicated), Mohamed ElBaradei, has refused to talk with Morsi and has been calling for his resignation.

Now that the military’s ultimatum has been issued, President Morsi is in a corner and the opposition has no incentive to negotiate with him. They just need to watch the clock tick down.

I have given President Morsi my two cents, for what it’s worth.  My advice is to minimize violence as much as possible.

Unfortunately, the Freedom and Justice Party — the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood — has issued press reports that are very troublesome.

The FJP is most determined to protect the homeland’s stability and security, to stop the shedding of Egyptian blood. It finds that cleansing Egypt of these thugs and effectively facing up to these vandals is the only way to protect the homeland and its security and stability. It assures that it will give all it can to achieve this.

The FJP exhorts all honorable, fair-minded members of all political parties and national groups and movements to face up to those criminal acts and stand as one in the face of this threat to the homeland and its stability.

I find this message alarming because “cleansing thugs” sounds like eliminating the opposition (by violent means?) rather than working with the opposition.

Israel’s MK Avigdor Liberman recently made the same claim about “cleansing Gaza” of Hamas.

The Bangkok Post reported that a “senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood called on its supporters to be ready to sacrifice their lives to prevent an army takeover.”

“Seeking martyrdom to prevent this coup is what we can offer to the previous martyrs of the revolution,” Mohamed al-Beltagui said in a statement on Tuesday.

He was referring to the more than 800 people killed during the 2011 uprising that ousted veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak.

An Egyptian interviewed on NPR yesterday, a Morsi supporter, said he wants an Islamist nation, not a secular nation as the opposition proposes, and so there can’t be any compromise.  It’s either one or the other he said, and he was willing to fight to see his vision fulfilled.

NO – NO – NO!  This is NOT democracy in action, these are extremists calling for violence, cloaking their demands as a defense of electoral politics.

The situation in Egypt today reminds me of Al Gore’s defeat in 2000 when he saw his election “win” snatched from him by the shenanigans in Florida and then the US Supreme Court.  I was angry; really, really pissed.  I voted for Al Gore.  I wanted Al Gore to be President, and so did the majority of Americans, I’m sure of it.  When he conceded the election to Bush, I was pissed at Gore!!   But no one called for violence or martyrdom.

Mohamed Morsi’s supporters are pissed.  They say he was fairly elected, and he should be allowed to fulfill his term of office.  In a functioning democracy, the people don’t sweep out one president and replace him with another every time they aren’t happy with his performance.


But Egypt doesn’t have a functioning democracy … yet.

And Egypt doesn’t have a constitution that establishes a process for impeachment … yet.

And Egypt doesn’t have a history of political parties working together … yet.

Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters have to respond to the reality that exists today, not to the democracy that they might wish existed in Egypt.

Calling for martyrdom is NOT democracy, it is extreme fanaticism.  If Morsi believes that suicide or murder is the path towards electoral legitimacy, then he’s a very dangerous man and all Egyptians should be very, very worried.

I hope he will renounce these calls for martyrdom soon and very clearly, but apparently he is ready to give his life too.

Martyrdom is not democracy in action!

President Mohamed Morsi

President Mohamed Morsi

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Dear President Morsi أماه سلامة

I like to think I have the ear of Kings, Queens and Presidents.  (If you believe that, I have beachfront property in New Mexico for you!)  But I can dream.

Dear President Morsi:

Many people (including I) had great expectations when you were elected last year.  Today it seems the end of your Presidency is near.

I just heard that the Egyptian military has given an ultimatum. They want you to make a deal with the protesters in the street within 48 hours or the military will step in with their own road map for the future of the country.

Now the protesters know they only have to wait 48 hours; they don’t need to make any deals with you; the military is on their side.  What can you do?


Here’s what I would do if I was in your shoes:

  • Minimize violence.   Egypt doesn’t need more martyrs. Send messages to your military, your cabinet, the police and local government officials, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood, that violence is antithetical to democracy, and you do not want to see bloodshed at any cost.  You should get on TV right away and share the same message.
  • Apologize and help with the transition.  Stepping aside is not a sign of failure, it signals that the revolution that began in January 2011 continues to unfold.  No leader could have turned the Egyptian economy around in such a short time; no leader could have cleansed the bureaucracy built by Mubarak of the insidious corruption.  You made mistakes certainly, and you should acknowledge the mistakes so that future leaders can learn from them.  But you tried your best and now it is time to help with the transition.
  • Build a coalition.  The Muslim Brotherhood, after winning the election a year ago, thought it had some sort of mandate.  I think that arrogance and self-righteousness fueled the current protesters’ rage. “Democracy” does not mean “Rule by Muslim Brotherhood.”  In a democratic nation, people of all shades and stripes must work together. That’s why I think America is teetering on the edge of losing its imprimatur as a democratic nation. As you transition out of office, help build the coalition needed to govern Egypt in the years to come.
  • Cleanse the halls of corruption.  In your last days in office, you should do some serious house-cleaning.  You know where the old Mubarak gang resides, and you have the power to dismiss them.  I don’t know why you didn’t do this early in your Administration; maybe you wanted to be cautious. But if you have any power or authority left, I recommend you sweep them out now.

I am truly sorry that you didn’t have the chance to finish your 4-year term.  I had high hopes when you were elected, as I wrote here and here.  Now I hope you will provide leadership by example and show the world how a peaceful transition works on the path towards democracy.

أماه سلامة

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President Morsi under fire

I’m thinking about all of the Egyptians today who are caught between two worlds — the one they successfully overthrew in January 2011 and the one they dream of but haven’t found yet.

Egyptians in the Cairo underground Metro.

Egyptians in the Cairo underground Metro.

In total, I’ve spent 15 weeks in Egypt since President Mubarak was dethroned. That’s just enough time to make some very good friends, but not enough time to really understand why the revolution has led so many people to call for President Morsi to step down after his first year in office.

Mubarak on the the front page.

Mubarak on the front page.

In July-August 2011, I felt the excitement and anticipation in the air.  The Egyptians I talked with were both hopeful and eager for change.  Things would be better now that Mubarak’s thirty year reign (1981-2011) had come to an end.

Protesters in Tahrir Square

Protesters in Tahrir Square

Young people in the summer of 2011 were talking about their future, believing the future would be better than the past.  Older people were talking cautiously about the transition, hoping the violent revolution was behind them and that tourists would return.  Nearly everyone wore smiles.  There was patriotism in the air!

Young Egyptian selling flags near Tahrir Square.

Young Egyptian selling flags near Tahrir Square.

What went wrong?   How could the Egypt of 2011 be the Egypt of 2013 with the economy nose-diving, sectarian murders, and calls for another revolution if President Morsi refuses to step aside?  Tamarod (‘Rebel’ in English), a signature drive claims to have gathered now over 22 million signatures asking Morsi to step down.

Family waiting at rest stop near Al-Arish

Family waiting at rest stop near Al-Arish

Young Egyptians at a public water dispenser in Cairo.

Young Egyptians at a public water dispenser in Cairo.

Egyptian couple at sunset in Cairo.

Egyptian couple at sunset in Cairo.

Egyptian policeman holding his prayer book answers a boy's question.

Egyptian policeman holding his prayer book answers a boy’s question.

President Morsi has certainly made many mistakes in his first year in office, there’s no doubt, and he has acknowledged many of them.  I wonder if anyone could have navigated through these turbulent months without making mistakes.  I don’t think former President Mubarak ran any democracy schools to prepare future leaders for elective office.  His son, Gamal, was supposed to take over after his retirement, continuing the Mubarak dynasty.

So everyone is pointing fingers now.  Morsi claims the opposition is threatening the fragile democracy; the opposition faults Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood; all making good fodder for the cartoonists.

Reasonable Egyptians have told me that they think Morsi should step down, and several mentioned that the military should take control until new elections are held.  That really surprised me.  They actually have greater confidence in the military than in President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood!

One new friend in Cairo told me she disagreed with many of President Morsi’s decisions since he took office in June 2012 but she doesn’t want to see him step down or to be violently overthrown.  “He was democratically elected and the process should be honored.  What message do we send to the world if we throw him out before his term is up?  We need to be working with him, not against him, to help get our economy moving in the right direction.”

On further reflection, I think what’s happening in Egypt is  happening everywhere on the planet.  There is a crisis in governance and people are rebelling in Turkey, Brazil, and even in Mora County, New Mexico, USA where county residents are fed up with the feeling of impotence in the face of corporate power and abuse.

I don’t know where all of this is headed, but I hope President Morsi is allowed to complete his 4-year term of office; that tourism and stability return to Egypt; that all sides learn from each other’s mistakes and admit that they have a common purpose which unites them.

Cairo Skyline

Cairo Skyline

The U.S. might learn a lesson or two from these recent events in Egypt.  We supported a dictatorship for 30 years without remorse or even a thought about how a real democracy might be nurtured in Egypt.  And some members of Congress spend a lot of time demonizing the Muslim Brotherhood, illustrating their own ignorance.

At the same time, I’m pleased to see that U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson has tried to convince the opposition to work with President Morsi.

Patterson has been clear on this issue. “Egypt needs stability… more violence in the streets will only add new names to the list of martyrs,” she said to the representatives of the opposition. In the same vein, she assured leaders of the Brotherhood that the United States opposed the opposition demand for early elections and supports the maintenance of the president until the end of his term.

US Embassy in Cairo

US Embassy in Cairo




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