Helen Thomas in Memoriam.

28 07 2013

I wrote this essay back in 2011 immediately after Helen Thomas left the AP as senior White House correspondence and after the entire Washington jumped on the bandwagon to destroy an illustrious career of a very brave woman, who dared to ask difficult questions of presidents. Farewell Ms. Thomas, you are the bravest of them all… there are NO brave souls in corrupt, coward Washington. Rest in Peace, God Bless.

President Obama who participated in throwing Helen Thomas to AIPAC dogs and wolves has this to say:

“Michelle and I were saddened to learn of the passing of Helen Thomas. Helen was a true pioneer, opening doors and breaking down barriers for generations of women in journalism. She covered every White House since President Kennedy’s, and during that time she never failed to keep presidents – myself included – on their toes. What made Helen the “Dean of the White House Press Corps” was not just the length of her tenure, but her fierce belief that our democracy works best when we ask tough questions and hold our leaders to account. Our thoughts are with Helen’s family, her friends, and the colleagues who respected her so deeply.”

One has to compare the statements made by Helen Thomas and Henry Kissinger about Jews and Israel to see the hypocrisy and double standards that afflict official Washington, the media and public affairs in general in the US. Kissinger did not see any problem of Soviet Jews going to the gas chambers. Helen Thomas only asked why not the Jews of Israel go back to Poland and Germany where they came from. Kissinger was afforded the forum of the Washington Post to apologize for his statement while Helen Thomas was thrown to the wolves and under the train with every body from Obama on down doing their best to “delete” her outstanding contributions to professional journalism. Of course the answer to this hypocrisy is that one is an “Arab”, the other is a “Jew”, simple.
Shortly after meeting with Golda Meir at the White House in 73, Kissinger is quoted as saying to President Nixon “ The immigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy, and if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern, may be a humanitarian concern”. The statement of course came out to the public after Helen Thomas made her comments to a rabid Rabbi who was pestering her and asking her opinion of Israel. This is exactly the conversation that took place between the Rabbi and Helen Thomas on June 7, 2010, (Wikipedia).

“Nesenoff: Any comments on Israel? We’re asking everybody today, any comments on Israel?
Thomas: Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.
Nesenoff: Oooh. Any better comments on Israel?
Thomas: Remember, these people are occupied and it’s their land. It’s not German, it’s not Poland …
Nesenoff: So where should they go, what should they do?
Thomas: They go home.
Nesenoff: Where’s the home?
Thomas: Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else[55]
Nesenoff: So you’re saying the Jews go back to Poland and Germany?
Thomas: And America and everywhere else. Why push people out of there who have lived there for centuries? See?
—May 27, 2010, RabbiLive.com [50]

Of course there was never a reference to the gas chamber, no indifference to sending the Soviet Jews the Gas Chambers, as suggested by Henry Kissinger, only calling for immigrating European Jews to go back to their countries of origin in Germany and Poland.

Kissinger offered his apologies in a Washington Post opinion page on December 26, 2010 widely republished around the world even in the Arab press and in the Israeli press. Kissinger argued his statement was taken out of context and offered this apology” Reference to gas chambers have no place in political discourse and I am sorry I made that remarks 37 years ago”. On the other hand Thomas made the following apology “ I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heart felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon.”

Of course in a bloodthirsty media and politics, no one wanted to hear the apologies from Helen. Every one was out for her blood from President Obama to his Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, to Arie Fleischer, to Lanny Davis, to Mike Huchabee, to Victor Davis Hanson to Kevin Smith of the Society of Professional Journalists. All of them found Helen Thomas comments to the pestering Rabbi as “ offensive” and “inexcusable”. No one dared to say the same thing to Henry Kissinger statements, which it seems that every one from President Obama on down found his words not worthy of comments or they all agree to his statement. Henry Kissinger did not mind if the Jews go the gas chamber and no one raised hell about it. Every one find Helen Thomas calls for the return of the Jews to Europe offensive and worthy of every drop of her blood.

It seems every one is jumping on Helen Thomas from Kevin Smith of the Society of Professional Journalist who is seeking and calling for “reconsider” the name of Helen Thomas for Life Time Achievement at their January 8, 2010 meeting. Even a group of Holocaust survivors who are by the way silent about Henry Kissinger statements about sending the Jews to the gas chambers were critical of the Arab American National Museum of Dearborn, Michigan for its plans to put out a “statue” of Helen Thomas. Even Wayne State, no doubt under pressure from American Jewish organizations and threats of cutting off private and public funding discontinued the Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity in Media Award.

The ironic thing is that no one in Washington or any where in the country is calling for stripping Henry Kissinger of his Noble Peace Prize he received in 1973 for his part and contribution to the death and murder of over a million Vietnamese and Cambodians and no one is calling for striping him of the Presidential Medal of Freedom bestowed by the late Gerald Ford.

Henry Kissinger the “Jew” is offered every opportunity to explain his statement and offer an apology and that is the end of his indifference to sending the Soviet Jews to the gas chamber, while Helen Thomas the “Arab” is thrown to the wolfs with every one including President Obama is doing their best to “delete” her long contribution to professional journalism, her first as Dean of the White House Press Corps, the first woman officer the National Press Club, the first female member of the Gridiron Club.

With actions like these it makes one wonder if there is separate treatment of “Arabs” from that of “Jews”. Perhaps every one is telling us something we already know. When it comes to Israel, be careful, no one has the right to dare to speak. Welcome to America.

Egypt, Not So Great

13 07 2013

With little due respect, the past year and post June 30th shows there is nothing great about Egypt, not its military, not its police, not its Brothers, not its media, not its judiciary, not its intellectuals, not the Coptic Church, not the Al-Azhar, not secularists, not the nationalist, not civil societies, not its young, certainly not its political and economic leadership. All are not great certainly they all are losers.

No matter what others may define it, what happened in Cairo couple of weeks ago, is a military coupe with the ugly face of religion, secularism, and Arab nationalism all over it? It is the coupe that killed the infant Egyptian democracy, and proved that the January 25 Tahrir Square uprising never was complete revolution and did not end military dictatorship in Egypt, and proved it is this Holy Cow that is milking all Egyptians.

Now I can see the many in Egypt who are angry with Morsi and the Brotherhood for failing to deliver miracle that can only happens in religious stories in the Bible, The Holy Quran and the Torah. Morsi in one year failed to fix the damage done by the military dictatorship rule for over 60 years.

In his one year in office, the incompetent failed miserable Morsi could not fix Egypt soaring national debt, could not fix the high birth rate, could not fix the unprecedented high unemployment, could not fix the long bread and gas lines that are the trade mark of Egypt, could not deliver a chicken at the table for each Egyptian family, could not fix the trains that never ran on time, could not fix the almost non existing infrastructure, did not end the corruption, did not recover tens of billions of unpaid taxes, did not recover millions of acres given away by the old regime for dirt cheap, could not end the rampant abuse by the police, could not fix the judiciary, could not fix the media, he could not fix any thing.

Poor Morsi, he is but an engineer and a Brother. May be the Egyptian thought they elected a miracle Jesus or a Moses, Oh yes, he could not snuff out Mubarak entrenched state institutions and the dozen or so family that rule the country and looted it for decades.

And for all the 30 millions (claimed) that went to the streets demanding his lynching and that of the Brothers he was an absolute failure. I guess it is Ok for Mubarak and his Oligarchs and the military to loot the country for 30 years and failed to fix all of these chronic problems having30 years to do it. All of a sudden the millions who slept through Mubarak regime woke up venting their revenge not against Mubarak and the military but against Morsi and the Brothers.

Ok, the Brothers failed to see and understand that the Egyptian who elected Morsi for president and voted for the Constitution did not vote for “Islam is the Solution” they voted for Morsi and the Constitutions, because they wanted a government by the people, for the people and not a government for the few by the few.

Morsi and his Brothers simply were not ready and unfit to govern a failed country like Egypt. They failed to understand that running a country like Egypt with endless chronic problems is unlike running the Brothers, with total obedience to the “Morshid”. Running Egypt requires seasoned politicians not a disciplined Brothers, and required balancing different and competing interest, managing different and competing ideologies, with governing institutions that remained loyal to Mubarak. Morsi and the Brothers failed to build an alliance with all those who made January 25th a landmark in the 7,000 years history that is Egypt They simply did not get it and for that they deserve to be losers.

Morsi could not fix a corrupt; incompetent politicized judicial system we saw in Mubarak tenure. Hundreds of thousands jailed on flimsy charges with sentences that made no sense at all. Morsi could not fix a corrupt judicial system that collaborated with the ministry of interior that presided over the torture of hundreds of thousands under Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak. He failed to fix a judicial system that overlooked the looting of the nation by the few and prosecutors who simply and deliberately lost cases because it was “politically correct”. The judiciary is big time loser.

It is hard to imagine that over a 1000 people killed by police and thugs (Baltagya) in the January uprising, as we saw on television, and prosecutors and police did not have enough evidence to make credible prosecution and seek justice for the victims and their families. We saw thugs riding camels and horses charge demonstrators yet neither prosecutors nor police could and chose and founded it necessary to dig deep and see who is behind all of this. Not Mubarak not Morsi will ever receive a fair trial in Egypt, never.

Over 26 people killed in Maspero (October 9, 2012) as military vehicles charged demonstrators and yet no prosecutions and no charges were ever brought against the military. No prosecutor dares to file charges against the military. Justice denied for all the victims and their families.

In the last few weeks, we saw dozens of Brothers headquarters charged by thugs, burned and looted as the police stood by making no efforts to stop the arson, looting and killing. Ah well I guess the good old Egyptian police is at its best. The police was and will always be so unprofessional in every way and they too are losers.

Now the military. Morsi and his Brothers and the majority of those who drafted the now abrogated constitution did not do the military or the people of Egypt a favor when they granted the military “special status”. This “great” Egyptian army is the only army in the world that drafts and set aside its own budget beyond the control of the parliament or the president. It can put civilians on trial in military tribunal without any oversight from any civilian institutions, not the president, not the parliament, certainly not the judiciary.

The abrogated constitution granted the military the right to keep its business enterprises (30% of the Egyptian economy) that feeds and fatten the bellies and bank accounts of its officers and commanders while the soldiers are malnutrition living on tea and paper bread and are as shabby as ever.

The Morsi and the Egyptian people deserve what they got, because none of the political leaders, left, right and the middle had the courage and the will power to clips its wings and put the military in the barracks once and for all.

Morsi and the Brothers got what they deserve. They had their chance and they blew it. As it stands, the military proved once again, it could and will always interfere in the politics of Egypt, remove presidents, dissolve parliament, and dismiss judges as it chose. They are calling the shots. This military that never won a war, is a loser.

Then there is the Egyptian media. A media which I never had faith in from the days of “Arab Voice” and Ahmad Said. A media that lost all credibility’s way back during Nasser days. How can there be a credible independent media if the president of the country is the one that appoints editors of major national newspapers?

The Egyptian media, whether print, television or radio is a “coin operated” media just like a jukebox in an American diner. You insert the coin and you chose the song and dance. And this is the Egyptian media.

Hard to believe television presenters, talk show hosts behaving as a “cabaret performers” short of striptease, in bad taste, not different from the trashy television shows and films aired on Egyptian television. Thanks to Turkish dramas there is much less Egyptian trash on Arab televisions these days. The media is another loser.

Now there is the ugly face of religion as we saw on the forum decorating Al-Sisi announcement of his military coupe and revocation of a fledging democracy, first ever in Egypt 7,000 year’s history. The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and the Coptic Pope have no place in this forum. They should be where they belong in the mosque and in the cathedral, not side by side by self-serving military officer. Both the mosque and the church are losers. And by the way they were never instruments of positive change or reforms. Always at command and will of the ruler. Both never subscribed to “liberation theology” justifying misery, hunger, humiliation and abuse by the state as God’s will, and they too are losers.

Finally all the “secularists” and “Arab nationalists” who always sided with military dictators in Syria, in Yemen, in Libya, in Iraq, and yes in Egypt, and always paid lib service to freedom and democracy, to human and civil rights. With the exception of the few, they were silent as hundreds of thousands were jailed, tortured and executed by dictatorial regimes all over the Arab world. Any way they never had any credibility in the streets or among the Arab masses and they too are losers.

One would think that this alliance of “secularists and nationalists” would be the first to oppose the military coup. No they were the first to jump on top of tanks as the military “delete” the first ever-free election in Egypt. Hypocrisy at its best. But then and I dare say there are no genuine true Arab intellectuals with advocates of democracy and of the people, with a vision for the future. They too are “coin operated”.

What is so surprising even disgusting is the silence of Arabs and Muslims as the Egyptian military and police open fires on early morning worshipers near the Presidential Guard compound killing 53 persons in cold blood.

This is in contrast to the uproar all over the Muslim and Arab world when the American-Israeli settler Rabbi Baruch Goldstein opened fire (February 25, 1994) on Muslim worships performing the early Morning Prayer in the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron killing 29 and wounding 125. I guess it is Ok when Arab/Muslim army kills worshipers but it is not Ok when a Jew kills Muslim worshipers. Please some one explains this to me.

Now the anti-Morsi secularists and nationalists are calling Morsi supporters “terrorists”. I guess they all need to hire Pam Geller, Daniel Pipe and Steve Emerson and Bibi Netanyahu to be their leaders. Shame all the shame on all of them.

Too bad for Egypt, to bad for the Arabs, for Muslims, for democracy, for freedom and the future, the Egyptian Revolution that inspired hundreds of millions around the world, came to an abrupt end by military tanks. One more reason to say there is nothing great about Egypt.

Islam States Men and Women are Equal

11 07 2013

No doubt, every society knows all of the traditional arguments about women’s ideal role and place. Their social status and importance in the family, whether or not they should work, and other social issues have been discussed seemingly forever. For Muslims, these issues were settled in the Koran: Men and women are equal. The facts that men and women have different physical builds and that women are generally weaker than men are irrelevant and cannot be used to reduce women’s value.

What truly matters in Islamic morality is not whether someone is male or female, but whether or not he or she is a believer who fears and respects God. Each believer is expected to strive to live by the Koran’s morality, for the results of this struggle are what God values and will measure in the Hereafter. God reveals the qualities that all Muslims, male or female, should have:

“The men and women of the believers are friends of one another. They command what is right and forbid what is wrong, keep up prayer and give the alms [zakat], and obey God and His Messenger. They are the people on whom God will have mercy. God is Almighty, All-Wise.” (Surat at-Tawba: 71)

“They are the people guided by their Lord. They are the ones who attain success.” (Surat al-Baqara, 5)

As God reveals, all Muslims, regardless of their gender, have the same responsibilities: to worship God, live according to the Koran’s morality, command good and prevent evil, and abide by the Koran’s rules and advice. God promises everyone who fears and respects the limits that He has established for humanity that He will give them the ability to distinguish right from wrong:

“O you who believe! If you have fear of [and respect] God, He will give you discrimination, erase your bad actions, and forgive you. God’s favor is indeed immense.” (Surat al-Anfal: 29)

One’s gender has no bearing on this, for God has given everyone an intellect capable of leading him or her to the right path, reaching the right decisions, and giving the right responses in return for belief and devotion. Therefore, intellect has nothing to do with gender; rather, it has everything to do with one’s devotion, fear, and respect of God.

Any man or woman who acts on the impulses of the intellect derived from belief can achieve success in many areas. This depends on their will, motivation, and persistence. Believers never rest on their laurels, for it is part of Islamic morality to always strive to be more intelligent, talented, responsible, and virtuous, as well as to seek to always improve upon their character. God reveals that believers pray to Him for a character that will make them role models for those around them:

“Those who say: ‘Our Lord, give us joy in our wives and children, and make us a good example for those who guard against evil.’ ” (Surat al-Furqan: 74)

A Muslim woman who does her best in everything she undertakes and who works to develop an exemplary character and morality, will excel in her society. She will carry out her responsibilities competently, reach the right decisions, find the best solutions, and take the most appropriate actions.

Burcu Cekmece


Building Bridges – Istanbul, Turkey



What if all the world’s clergy resign?

5 07 2013

The question is what if Pope Francis, Sheik Ahmed El-Tayyeb, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ayatollah Ali Khameni, Rabbi Shmauel Eliyahu Israel’s Chief Sephardic rabbi, or Rabbi Yona Metzger, Israel’s Chief Ashkanazi rabbi, or the likes of Rev. Pat Roberston, or Rev. Franklin Graham, or even Rev, John Hagee all resign and quite. What will happen to the people and the world?

Special Note: Some weeks ago, my friend Mr. Nazek Dhmra forwarded to me an very interesting email he got and I thought I share it with you. The original in Arabic was written by Mr. Asharaf N. Younes. I took the liberty to translate it, edit it and added to it.

No doubt religious clergy of all faiths play an important role in the lives of many and in these days. Too bad the message we hear from so many is not so kind, far, far from the true message, in inciting hate, anger, sectarianism, even inciting murder.

Here is Mr. Younes with some input from me.

I knew this week’s news of the resignation of the Pope in fact I did not care much about the news. However I wondered in my mind, perhaps wishful thinking and hope that all of the clergy in the whole world follow the example of the Pope and call it quite, saving themselves as us the agony of their leadership. I imagined and wondered what will happen to the world if all clergy in the world resign and quit.? :

Will the global stock markets collapse? Answer: Of course not.
Do we stop the movement and air travel and operation of the airports around the world? Answer: Of course not.

Do we stop the all construction and productions around the world? ? Answer: Of course not.
Do we stop the movement of scientific research and invention in the world? Answer: Of course not.

Do we stop the movement of trains in the world? ? Answer: Of course not.
Do you stop the Internet? Answer: Of course not
Do we drop the English Premier League? Answer: Of course not.

Do we stop Messi scoring for Barcelona? Answer: Of course not
Will factories stop working around the world? Answer: Of course not
Will China cease its efforts to conquer the world with its products? Answer: Of course not.

Will America naval fleets stop movement of ships on the high the seas and oceans of the world? Answer: Of course not
Will farmers around the world stop farming? Answer: Of course not.
Do we stop schools and universities from teaching students? Answer: Of course not.

Will women will stop bearing children? Answer: Of course not
Will religions of the world come to an end ? Answer: Of course not
Will we those who call our self believers stop believing in prayer and stop praying to the Creator? Answer: Of course not.

Without winding rotation Do not stop any activity that is useful to mankind if all the clergy resigned in the world? Answer: Of course not
Do humans need a broker or a broker or agent between them and their Creator? Answer: Of course not.

So what will happens if all the clergy resigned in the world?
Perhaps we stop killing in the name of religion? The answer: Of course yes.
Will we stop hatred among the people because of the different religions? The answer: Of course yes.

Do we stop people from wearing explosive belts to kill themselves and kill others? The answer: Of course yes.
Will others stop inciting hate and racism and Islamophobia, Perhaps yes.
Do we stop these fools from fleecing us every Sunday during their sermons making us living on hope while they live on our cash, Of course yes.

Do we stop sexual assaults on children in churches, yashivas and madrasa answer: Of course yes.
Do we put this mafia out of business and stop them from distributing tickets to enter heaven and hell? The answer: Of course yes.

Will humans begin to use their minds more? The answer: Of course yes
Do will stop getting “canned” answered on Friday, Saturday and Sunday ? The answer: Of course yes.

Will be stop mixing religion and politics? The answer: Of course yes
Will we stop some of the clergy from the use of religion to reach power and richness? The answer: Of course yes.

Will we stop interpreting natural disaster as that the wrath of God? As if God created human beings in order to punish them in this world before the Hereafter? The answer: Of course yes

Finally, I say to all the clergy: Do we need you as mediators to bring us closer to God or to know us God. I do not think so.

Just imagine, if people ( not Jews and Muslims or Christians) get together in Palestine/Israel. Imagine if the Buddhists in Burma see the Rohingya as people. Imagine if there is no war on Islam and no Jihadists and Takfiris. Imagine the peace around the world. Let us imagine, such a world.

Peace and blessing on all mankind.

Egypt Unfit to Lead

3 07 2013

Any one who thinks Egypt is ready to lead the Arab world has to think twice. The coming hours will show once again that Egypt political leadership whether Muslim Brothers or “secular nationalists” are unfit to lead and manage a country in transition.

The late Gamal Abdul Nasser was the closet thing to come to an Arab leader. He was charismatic, mesmerizing in his speeches, uniting Arabs from the Atlantic to the Gulf with his vision of Pan Arabism. A vision and practice that proved a total disaster.

Despite Nasser’s rhetoric of promoting revolutionary changes in the Arab world and the transformation of the country’s rural society, he failed to address the urgent needs of the Egyptian people for freedom and liberty and true comprehensive political reforms that empower the people and not only the “effendi” and military officers. Instead, he transformed Egypt from a corrupt monarchy with ruling elites to a military dictatorship and police state. Nasser rule brought an end to intellectual discussions and debates on liberal democracies and visions of a new state. And that debate never took off again during Sadat or Mubarak regimes.

Nasser failure to transform the political, economic and social systems in Egypt into a working model for other Arab countries to follow paved the way for other Arab dictatorships to take hold across the Arab world. Although Nasser rhetoric certainly contributed to the toppling of longstanding regimes in Libya, Iraq, Yemen, and even Syria, the new leaders that replaced them also transformed these countries into military dictatorships and police states.

Nasser institutionalized the role of the military and empowerment of the one party state (Arab Socialist Union). Nasser, much like his successors, never allowed for the emergence of political and intellectual diversity in Egypt for fear that such leadership may form a danger and a challenge to their leadership. Nasser was reliant on a group of military officers who were ill trained and unqualified to manage the significant problems of failing transportation, housing, health services, food production and distribution, standards of living, and poverty challenges that Egypt was facing and continue to face some 60 years later.

Nasser did initiate the industrialization of Egypt, a process started with Mohammed Ali (1769-1849) the Albanian who ruled and started the dynasty Nasser ended. Mohammed Ali was truly the father of modern day Egypt. Nasser’s political, industrial, even agrarian policies followed the Soviet model, which failed to uplift and improve the quality of life for citizen. The failure of these policies can still be seen today.

For example, Nasser’s rural reforms earned him the good will of millions of Egyptians who were “chattels” on the land. He ended “”Iqta,” the leasing of large tracks of land to the political and economic elite at the expense of Egypt’s rural poor, in place since the Mamluk Dynasty (1250-1517). Despite promises of greater prosperity for the country’s rural poor, his rural and agricultural reforms were ill conceived and badly implemented, resulting in the inability of rural farmers to sustain their needs from the small farms they gained under such land reforms. Rural Egypt became landscape of his regime’s failures in agrarian reforms.

Having failed to transform Egypt to a modern viable democracy marked by free elections, the establishment of diverse political parties, free assembly, free speech and independent judiciary, Nasser gave way for Anwar Sadat to become an absolute ruler. Sadat jailed thousands, and enabled the country’s elite to loot the country under his open policy of “Infitah” or “open door economic policy” that improvished millions of professionals and the middle class that had their hopes lifted from Nasser egalitarian educational reform.

Hosni Mubarak continued the trend of widening the income gap in Egypt and allowed his wife and sons to organize the looting of the country. Millions of Egyptians were impoverished, while the small elite became richer. Political reforms were stalled, and the rigging of elections was the standard and an accepted part of the political landscape. An independent judiciary was nowhere to be seen, corruption was everywhere, and the jailing and arresting of the opposition – mainly from the Muslim Brotherhood – became standard in Mubarak’s Egypt.

After 30 years of oppressive rule and years of mass disenfranchisement by successive Egyptian regimes, a revolution of anger and resentment fueled the people’s courage to face the Mubarak regime’s brutal oppression on the streets.

Contrary to the many revolutions (Russia, France, US, Czechoslovakia among others) that were lead by intellectuals and free thinkers, The Egyptian Uprising was lead by young energetic committed people and mostly secularist Egyptians who wanted a fair share in the country’s political life, free from oppression and corruption. Neither the Muslim Brotherhood nor the present Salvation Front leadership (exception Ayman Nour) was present in the front lines facing Mubarak police and thugs.

Only when it became clear Mubarak regime had no chance did the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood and the leaders of Salvation Front join the revolution. The thousands who died in the protests did not die for the Brotherhood or for Amr Musa or Hamdeen Sbahi. They died for Egypt.

The result of the police state institutionalized by Nasser is what we see today. Egypt never had credible political leadership with a vision for the future; a future based on social justice, fair, just and independent judicial system, equal opportunities for a quality life, free from the degrading poverty majority of Egyptians endured for centuries.

The Egyptian elites remain, with even the country’s intellectual and artistic elites lacking any connection to the millions of Egyptians living in absolute poverty and daily humiliation standing before breadline’s vegetable and meat stands. They enjoyed their private clubs, shopping sprees in Milan and Paris, being driven around Cairo in limousines, Mercedes Bens and MBWs, with a lack of awareness of the tens of millions who had to endure assault, robbery and crowded buses. They have to wait in the breadlines to get a few loafs of “paper bread.” Egypt has not changed much since Nasser further entrenched the hold that the country’s elite had on resources and political power.

Dr. Morsi and his Brothers failed to understand that his election has nothing to do with an “Islamic State” or a “Sharia.” It has every thing to do with addressing the urgent need for social justice, delivery of food to the table, improvement in public service, collection of garbage, and the delivery of health services. Morsi election’s has nothing to do with “Halal or Haram,” and it certainly had nothing to do with “Heaven and Hell” or with the “Believers and Infidels.” It was about a demand for the basic needs of the people oppressed for decades to be met.

Rather than build partnership and consensus, particularly among the young who borne the costs of the revolution, Dr. Morsi relied on his Brothers to divide the nation into believers and non-believers. And this is where he failed miserably. Rather than rely on the streets and the millions who voted for him, most of who were not Brothers, Dr. Morsi remained hostage to the “Murshid” and the powerful few within the Brothers. Dr. Morsi’s failing is what may cost him the presidency.

The Muslim Brotherhood failed to come up with a workable vision of the kind of state they want. Leaders of the Salvation Front failed to take a stand on the former regime and exonerated many of the same people who were responsible for the death and injury of thousands of Egyptians under the previous regime. The Salvation Front failure to distance itself, if not demand judicial justice for those who were killed and those who fleeced the country shows that the Salvation Front has no moral let alone political standing to lead the country. The failings of the Brothers in Egypt, will make it so difficult for them to rebuild any credibility to rule anywhere in the Arab world.

The issues facing the Arab world, especially the Arab Spring countries, are not ideological in nature. They are political issues that have to do with rights of citizenship, bread, jobs, health care, decent education, vocational training, equal opportunities, delivery of basic services such as clean water, electricity and treatment of sewage and above all, freedom from arbitrary arrests and kangaroo courts.

It is a shame that the same Egypt that gave the Arab world great intellectual giants such as Taha Hussain, Abbas Mahmoud al-Aggad, Ahmed Lutfi al-Sayyid, Ahmed Amin, Salama Musa, Taufiq al-Hakim and Ali Abdallah Raziq has failed to realize its potential. The Egypt of the 21st century is no different from the Egypt of 20th or the 19th century. It is a shame for Egypt that the Brothers proved to be unfit to rule and the liberal “secularists” too cowardly to speak out and argue their case of an open democracy, with separation of religion from the state.

In the popular revolution that toppled Mubarak’s regime, Egyptian intellectuals and thinkers and artists were almost nowhere to be seen, with the exception of few the likes of Alaa al Aswany, Nawal el Sadawi. No one tried to give such a revolution a vision or trade mark that could transform it from a popular uprising to institutional building. No matter what happens next in Egypt, it is simply unfit to lead the Arab world.

Islam Defends Freedom of Thought

2 07 2013

Islam is a religion which provides and guarantees freedom of ideas, thought and life. It has issued commands to prevent and forbid tension, disputes, slander and even negative thinking among people. In the same way terrorism and all acts of violence are determinedly prohibited in Islam, even the slightest ideological pressure to be put on them is also forbidden:

There is no compulsion in religion. True guidance has become clearly distinct from error. (Surat al-Baqara, 256)

So remind them! You are only a reminder. You are not in control of them. (Surat al-Ghashiyya, 21-22)

Forcing people to believe in a religion or to adopt its forms of belief is completely contrary to the essence and spirit of Islamic morality. According to Islam, true faith is only possible with free will and freedom of conscience. Of course, Muslims can advise and encourage each other about the features of Qur’anic morality. All believers are charged with explaining Qur’anic morality to people in the nicest manner possible. They will explain the beauties of religion in the light of the verse, “Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair admonition…” (Surat an-Nahl, 125), however, they must also bear in mind the verse, “You are not responsible for their guidance, but God guides whoever He wills.” (Surat al-Baqara, 272)

They will never resort to compulsion, nor any kind of physical or psychological pressure. Neither will they use any worldly privilege to turn someone towards religion. When they receive a negative response to what they say, Muslims will reply along the lines of: “To you your religion, and to me, mine” (Surat al-Kafirun, 6)

The world we live in contains societies with all kinds of beliefs: Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, deist and even pagan. Muslims living in such a world must be  compassionate towards all beliefs they come up against, no matter what they may be, and behave forgivingly, justly and humanely. This responsibility placed on believers is to invite people to the beauty of the religion of God by means of peace and compassion. The decision whether or not to implement these truths, whether or not to believe, lies with the other party. Forcing that person to believe, or trying to impose anything on him, is a violation of Qur’anic morality. In fact, God issues a reminder to believers in the Qur’an:

If your Lord had willed, all the people on the earth would have believed. Do you think you can force people to be believers? (Surah Yunus, 99)

We know best what they say and you [O Muhammad] are not a compeller over them. But warn by the Qur’an whoever fears My warning. (Surah Qaf, 45)

A model of society in which people are forced to worship is completely contradictory to Islamic morality. Belief and worship should be directed to God by the free will of the individual. If a system imposes belief and worship on people, then they will act as if they are religious out of fear of that system. This will mean the encouragement of hypocrisy and no Muslim would approve that. From the point of view of Islamic morality, what really counts is that religion should be lived for God’s good pleasure in an environment where peoples’ consciences are totally free.

The history of Islam is full of the compassionate and understanding practices of Muslim rulers who have respected all religions and built religious freedom with their own hands. For example, Thomas Arnold, a British missionary employed in the service of the Indian government, describes that Islamic morality favors freedom in these words:

“But of any organised attempt to force the acceptance of Islam on the non-Muslim population, or of any systematic persecution intended to stamp out the Christian religion, we hear nothing. Had the caliphs chosen to adopt either course of action, they might have swept away Christianity as easily as Ferdinand and Isabella drove Islam out of Spain, or Louis XIV made Protestantism penal in France, or the Jews were kept out of England for 350 years. The Eastern Churches in Asia were entirely cut off from communion with the rest of Christendom, throughout which no one would have been found to lift a finger on their behalf, as heretical communions. So that the very survival of these Churches to the present day is a strong proof of the generally tolerant attitude of the Muhammadan governments towards them.” 


Burcu Cekmece


Building Bridges – Istanbul, Turkey



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