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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Egypt, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. An interview with Shadi Hamid

With turmoil in the Middle East, from Egypt’s changing government to the emergence of the Isalmic State, we recently sat down with Shadi Hamid, author of Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East, to discuss about his research before and during the Arab Spring, working with Islamists across the Middle East, and his thoughts on the future of the region.

In your recent New York Times essay “The Brotherhood Will Be Back,” you argue that there is still support for the mixing of religion and politics, despite the Muslim Brotherhood’s recent failure in power. So do you see a way for Egypt to achieve stability in the years ahead? Can they look toward their neighbors (Jordan, Tunisia?) for a positive example?

Cultural attitudes toward religion do not change overnight, particularly when they’ve been entrenched for decades. Even if a growing number of Egyptians are disillusioned with the way Islam is “used” for political gain, this does not necessarily translated into support for “secularism,” a word which is still anathema in Egyptian public discourse. One of my book’s arguments I is that democratization not only pushes Islamists toward greater conservatism but that it also skews the entire political spectrum rightwards.

In Chapter 3, for instance, I look at the Arab world’s “forgotten decade,” when there were several intriguing but ultimately short-lived democratic experiments. Here, the ostensibly secular Wafd party, sensing the shift in the country toward greater piety, opted to Islamize its political program, something which was all too obvious (perhaps even a bit too obvious) in its 1984 program. It devoted an entire section to the application of Islamic law, in which the Wafd stated that Islam was both “religion and state.” The program also called for combating moral “deviation” in society and purifying the media of anything contradicting the sharia and general morals. The Wafd party also supported the supposedly secular regime of Anwar Sadat’s ambitious effort in the late 1970s and early 1980s to reconcile Egyptian law with Islamic law. Led by speaker of parliament and close Sadat confidant Sufi Abu Talib, the initiative wasn’t just mere rhetoric; Abu Talib’s committees painstakingly produced hundreds of pages of detailed legislation, covering civil transactions, tort reform, criminal punishments, as well as the maritime code.

The point here is that the Islamization of society (itself pushed ahead by Islamists) doesn’t just affect Islamists. Even Egypt’s president, former general Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, cannot escape these deeply embedded social realities.

Egypt is de-democratizing right now, but the Sissi regime, unlike Mubarak’s, is a popular autocracy where the brutal suppression of one particular group — the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists — is cheered on by millions of Egyptians. Sissi, then, is not immune from mass sentiment. A populist in the classic vein, Sissi seems to understand this and, like the Brotherhood, instrumentalizes religion for partisan ends. In many ways, Sissi’s efforts surpass those of Islamists before him, asserting great control over al-Azhar, the premier seat of Sunni scholarship in the region, and using the clerical establishment to shore up his regime’s legitimacy. Sissi has said that it’s the president’s role to promote a “correct understanding” of Islam. His regime has also been politically ostentatious with religion in its crackdown against the Gay community, leading one observer to note that

Religion is a powerful tool in a deeply religious society and Sissi, whatever his personal inclinations, can’t escape that basic fact, particularly with a mobilized citizenry.

Looking at the region more broadly, there are really no successful models of reconciling democracy with Islamism, at least not yet, and this failure is likely to have long-term consequences on the region’s trajectory. Turkish Islamists had to effectively concede who they were and become something else — “conservative democrats” — in order to be fully incorporated in Turkish politics. In Tunisia, the Islamist Ennahda party, threatened with Egypt-style mass protests and with the secular opposition calling for the dissolution of parliament and government, opted to step down from power. The true test for Tunisia, then, is still to come: what happens if Ennahda wins the next scheduled elections, and the elections after that, and feels the need to be more responsive to its conservative base? Will this lead, again, to a breakdown in political order, with secular parties unwilling to live with greater “Islamization”?

You began your research on Islamist movements before the start of the Arab Spring. How did your project change after the unrest in 2011? What book did you think you would write when you began living in the region — and what did it become after the revolutions?

I began my research on Islamist movements in 2004-5, when I was living in Jordan as a Fulbright fellow. These were movements that displayed an ambivalence toward power, to the extent that they even lost elections on purpose (an odd phenomenon that was particularly evident in Jordan). Power, and its responsibilities, were dangerous. After the Islamic Salvation Front dominated the first round of the 1991 Algerian elections, and with the military preparing to intervene, the Algerian Islamist Abdelkader Hachani warned a crowd of supporters: “Victory is more dangerous than defeat.” In a sense, then, I was lucky to be able to expand the book’s scope to cover the tumultuous events of 2011-3, allowing me to explore evolving, and increasingly contradictory, attitudes toward power. Because if power was dangerous, it was also tempting, and so this became a recurring theme in the book: the potentially corrupting effects of political power, a problem which was particularly pronounced with groups that claimed a kind of religious purity that transcended politics. The book became about these two phases in the Islamist narrative, in opposition and under repression, on one hand, and during democratic openings, on the other. And then, of course, back again. I knew the military coup of 3 July 2013 and then the Rabaa massacre of 14 August — a dark, tragic blot on Egypt’s history — provided the appropriate bookend. The Brotherhood had returned to its original, purer state of opposition.

The Arab Spring also provided an opportunity to think more seriously and carefully about the effects of democratization. Would democratization have a moderating effect on mainstream Islamist movements, as the academic and conventional wisdom would suggest? Or was there a darker undercurrent, with democratization unleashing ideological polarization and pushing Islamists further to the right? I wanted to challenge a kind of cultural essentialism in reverse: that Islamists, like its ideological counterparts in Latin America or Western Europe, would be no match for “liberal democracy,” history’s apparent end state. Any kind of determinism, even the liberal variety, would prove problematic, especially for us as Americans with our tendency to believe that the process of history would overwhelm the whims of ideology. In a way, I wanted to believe it too, and for many years I did. As someone who has long been a proponent of supporting democracy in the Middle East, this puts me in a bit of a bind: In the Middle East, democracy is simply less attractive. Yes. And now, since the book has come out, I’ve been challenged along these very lines: “Maybe democracy isn’t so good after all… Maybe the dictators were right.” Well, in a sense, they were right. But this is only a problem if we conceive of democracy as some sort of panacea or short-term fix. Democracy is supposed to be difficult, and this is perhaps where the comparisons to the third-wave democracies of the 1980s and 1990s were misleading. The divides of Arab countries were “foundational,” meaning that they weren’t primarily “policy” problems; they were the more basic problems of the State, its meaning, its purpose, and, of course, the role of religion in public life, which inevitably brings us back to the identity of the State. What kind of conception of the Good should the Egyptian or Tunisian states be promoting? Should the state be neutral or should it be a state with a moral or religious mission? These are raw, existential divides that hearken back more to 1848 than 1989.

Tahrir Square on February11 by Jonathan Rashad. CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Tahrir Square on 11 February 2011, by Jonathan Rashad CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

You conducted many interviews to research Temptations of Power. How did the interviews craft your argument — whether you were speaking with political leaders, activists, students, or citizens? Feel free to mention some examples.

Spending so much time with Islamist activists and leaders over the course of a decade, some of whom I got to know quite well, was absolutely critical. And this book — and pretty much every thing I know and think about Islamist movements — has been informed and shaped by those discussions. I guess I’m a bit old-fashioned that way; that to understand Islamists, you have to sit with them, talk to them, and get to know them as individuals with their own fears and aspirations. This is where I think it’s important for scholars of political Islam to cordon off their own beliefs and political commitments. Just because I’m an American and a small-l liberal (and those two, in my case, are intertwined), doesn’t mean that Egyptians or Jordanians should be subject to my ideological preferences. If you go into the study of Islamism trying to compare Islamists to some liberal ideal, then that’s distorting. Islamists, after all, are products of their own political context, and not ours. So that’s the first thing.

Second, as a political scientist, my tendency has always been to put the focus on political structures, and the first half of my book does quite a bit of that. In other words, context takes precedence: that Islamists — or, for that matter, Islam — are best understood as products of various political variables. This is true, but only up to a point and I worry that we as academics have gone too much in this direction, perhaps over-correcting for what, decades ago, was a seeming obsession with belief and doctrine.

When religion is less relevant in our own lives, it can be difficult to make that jump, to not just understand — but to relate — to its meaning and power for believers, and for those, in particular, who believe they have a cause beyond this life. But I think that outsiders have to make an extra effort to close that gap. And that, in some ways, is the most challenging, and ultimately rewarding, aspect of my work: to be exposed to something fundamentally different. I think, at this point, I feel like I have a good grasp on how mainstream Islamists see the world around them. What I still struggle with is the willingness to die. If I was at a sit-in and the army was coming in with live fire, I’d run for the hills. And that’s why my time interviewing Brotherhood members in Rabaa — before the worst massacre in modern Egyptian history — was so fascinating and forced me to at least try and transcend my own limitations as an analyst. Gehad al-Haddad — who had given up a successful business career in England to return to Egypt — told me was “very much at peace.” He was ready to die, and I knew that he, and so many others, weren’t just saying it. Because many of them — more than 600 — did, in fact, die.

Where does this willingness to die come from? I found myself pondering this same question just a few weeks ago when I was in London. One Brotherhood activist, now unable to return to Egypt, relayed the story of a protester standing at the front line, when the military moved in to “disperse” the sit-in. A bullet grazed his shoulder. Behind him, a man fell to the ground. He had been shot to death. He looked over and began to cry. He could have died a martyr. He knew the man behind him had gone to heaven, in God’s great glory. This is what he longed for. As I heard this story, it couldn’t have been any more clear: this wasn’t politics in any normal sense. Purity, absolution. This was the language of religion, the language of certainties. Where politics, in a sense, is about accepting, or at least coming to terms, with impossibility of purity.

Are you working on any new publications at the moment?

I’m hoping to build on the main arguments in my book and look more closely at how the inherent tensions between religion and mundane politics are expressed in various contexts. This, I think, is at least part of what makes Islamists so important to our understanding of the Middle East. Because their story is, in some ways, the story of a region that is breaking apart because of the inability to answer the fundamental questions of identity, religion, God, citizenship, and State-ness. One project will look at how various Islamist movements have responded to a defining moment in the Islamist narrative — the military coup of July 3, 2013, which has quickly replaced the Algerian coup of 1992 as the thing that always inevitably comes up when you talk to an Islamist. In some ways, I suspect it will prove even more defining in the long-run. Algeria, as devastating as it was, was still somehow remote (and, ironically enough, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Algerian offshoot allowed itself to be co-opted by the military government throughout most of Algeria’s “black decade”).

This time around, there are any number of lessons to be learned. One response among Islamists is that the Brotherhood should have been more confrontational, moving more aggressively against the “deep state” instead of seeking temporary accommodation. While others fault the Brotherhood for not being inclusive enough, and alienating the very allies who had helped bring it to power. But, of course, these two “lessons” are not mutually exclusive, with many believing that the Brotherhood — although it’s not entirely clear how exactly this would work in practice — should have been both more aggressive and more inclusive.

You recently went on a US tour to promote and discuss Temptations of Power­ — any recent discussion items, comments or questions which supported your conclusions or refined your thinking that you would like to share?

During the tour, I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to discuss the more philosophical aspects of the book, including the “nature” of Islam, liberalism, and democracy. These are contested terms; Islam, for instance, can mean very different things to different people. A number of people would ask about Narendra Modi, India’s democratically-elected prime minister and somewhat notorious Hindu nationalist. Here’s someone who, in addition to being illiberal, was complicit in genocidal acts against the Muslim minority in Gujarat. But an overwhelming number of Indians voted for him in a free, democratic process. There’s something inspiring about accepting electoral outcomes that might very well be personally threatening to you. Another allied country, Israel, is a democracy with strong (and seemingly stronger) illiberal tendencies. Popular majorities

In some sense, the tensions between liberalism and democracy are universal and trying to find the right balance is an ongoing struggle (although it’s more pronounced and more difficult to address in the Middle Eastern context). So it makes little sense to expect a given Arab country to become anything resembling a liberal democracy in two or three years, when, even in our own history as Americans, our liberalism as well as our democracy were very much in doubt at any number of key points. (I just read this excellent Peter Beinart piece on our descent into populary-backed illiberalism during World War I. Cincinnati actually banned pretzels).

At the same time, looking at other cases has helped me better grasp what, exactly, makes the Middle East different. For example, as illiberal as Modi and the BJP might be, the ideological distance between them and the Congress Party isn’t as much as we might think. In part, this is because the Hindu tradition, to use Michael Cook’s framing, is simply less relevant to modern politics. As Cook writes, “Christians have no law to restore while Hindus do have one but show little interest in restoring it.” Islamists, on the other hand, do have a law and it’s a law that’s taken seriously by large majorities in much of the region. The distinctive nature of “law” — and its continued relevance — in today’s Middle East does add a layer of complexity to the problem of pluralism. This gets us into some uncomfortable territory but I think to ignore it would be a mistake. Islam is distinctive in how it relates to modern politics, at least relative to other major religions. This isn’t bad or good. It just is, and I think this is worth grappling with. As the region plunges into ever greater violence, with questions of religion at the fore, we will need to be more honest about this, even if it’s uncomfortable. This, sometimes, can be as simple as taking religion, and “Islam” in particular, more seriously in an age of secularism. I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes, which I cite in the book, from the great historian of the Muslim Brotherhood, Richard Mitchell. The Islamic movement, he said, “would not be a serious movement worthy of our attention were it not, above all, an idea and a personal commitment honestly felt.”

Heading image: Protesters fests toward Pearl roundabout. By Bahrain in pictures, CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The post An interview with Shadi Hamid appeared first on OUPblog.

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2. Wow! What a woman! Wow! What a GOD!

I am one of the teachers for our 6-8th grade Sunday School class. I love those kiddos and all the questions they ask. They make me think. Today, we discussed the fact that Abram was told by God to leave his country, and to leave his father’s family. God said He would lead Abram to…

2 Comments on Wow! What a woman! Wow! What a GOD!, last added: 9/15/2014
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3. The terror metanarrative and the Rabaa massacre

Just after dawn prayers on the morning of 14 August 2013, Egyptian security forces raided a large sit-in based at Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiyya Square and another at al-Nahda Square. Six weeks earlier, military leader and Minister of Defense Abdel Fattah al-Sisi staged a coup to remove Egypt’s first democratically elected president, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, from office. In response, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians across the country congregated in public spaces to protest the coup and the perceived reversal of the revolutionary moment that began in early 2011 with the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade long authoritarian rule.

As they opened fire on the encampment, security forces killed over one thousand Egyptians. The exact figure has been difficult to ascertain, in part because officials reportedly burned the bodies of those killed during the course of the twelve-hour operation. Graphic images of the charred interior of the Rabaa al-Adawiyya Mosque began making the rounds on social media within hours of the raid. A recently published investigative report by Human Rights Watch contends that “police and army forces systematically and intentionally used excessive lethal force in their policing, resulting in killings of protesters on a scale unprecedented in Egypt.” The report also asserts that no Egyptian officials have been held accountable for the Rabba massacre, while all state inquiries have essentially justified the army’s actions.

Just as shocking as the new military regime’s repressive clampdown on the Islamist opposition has been the widespread support for such measures across broad swaths of Egyptian society. In addition to the hundreds of thousands who supported Morsi’s overthrow by taking to the streets on 30 June, a month later Sisi called upon Egyptians to rally in Tahrir Square in support of the military’s aim to “fight terrorism”—code for the continued clampdown on Morsi’s supporters. It is under the shroud of this popular support that the state could commit the horrors at Rabaa without batting an eye.

Photo of unrest in Egypt
AFP PHOTO /MOHAMMED ABDEL MONEIM, CC BY-NC 2.0 via Flickr.

One year later, there is little moral outrage in Egypt over the appalling course of events at Rabaa. Rather than offer up a moment of collective introspection, the passage of time and the newfound political stability under Sisi have only more deeply entrenched the dominant narrative that the protesters got what they deserved. In Egypt’s “new normal,” popular culture has internalized the necessity of extreme state violence against a perceived minority of violent political agitators.

To be sure, the critiques of the Muslim Brotherhood spanned a wide array of issue areas, from the group’s vision for an Islamic government to its contentious interactions with state institutions and revolutionary forces. However, the emphasis on the group’s supposed inclinations toward organized violence is singled out here for its propensity to validate egregious human rights violations by state authorities in the name of security.

The dehumanization of thousands of ordinary men, women, and children, many of whom are not even members of the Muslim Brotherhood, occurred as state officials and media personalities continually utilized the imagery of terrorism and violent extremism to depict the protestors. Footage of police raids was set to the soundtracks of Hollywood action films and televised with large captions reading “Egypt Fights Terrorism” in Arabic as well as English.

Given its enduring quality, however, it would be a mistake to assume that this incitement campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood is a recent incarnation. Far from being a makeshift construct that aided in Sisi’s alarmingly rapid political ascent, the recent application of the “war on terror” motif stems from a historic struggle over the Egyptian national narrative that pits the state against one of the country’s oldest social movement organizations.

In their attempt to overturn a popular mass movement that had made limited revolutionary gains, counter-revolutionary forces constructed a broad narrative that placed the historical trajectory of the Muslim Brotherhood within the state’s struggle to combat terrorism that dated back to the mid-twentieth century. To press its case to a public that is largely ignorant of the historical nuances involved, the anti-Muslim Brotherhood movement made exceptionally anachronistic use of various flashpoints in modern Egyptian history.

Shortly after Morsi’s election in 2012, during a commemorative event for the sixtieth anniversary of the 23 July 1952 revolution, self-declared Nasserists lamented that Egyptians had not learned the lessons of Gamal Abdel Nasser’s experience with the Muslim Brotherhood. “They were never to be trusted,” said one prominent spokesperson for the group. In successive weeks, other writers and commentators referred to the campaign of political violence that dated back to the 1940s, placing the blame squarely on the Muslim Brotherhood and its brand of Islamic activism.

Elsewhere, the chorus of critics recalled the turbulent 1970s and the rise of underground militant groups that they attributed to the Muslim Brotherhood and in particular the writings of Sayyid Qutb, the organization’s leading ideologue until his execution by the Nasser regime in 1966. The rise of an Islamic insurgency culminated with the assassination of Anwar al-Sadat in 1981. The chronology continues well into the Mubarak era, as prominent media personalities impugned the Muslim Brotherhood for its supposed role in the outbreak of anti-state violence in the mid-1990s.

If one follows this chronology to its logical conclusion, one could reasonably believe that the Muslim Brotherhood was founded with an ideological bent toward violent, anti-state contention, which it pursued through the active development of a military wing and then sustained through successive waves of terrorist acts over the course of eighty-six years.

The problem with the terror metanarrative is that it represents a gross misreading of history and a transparent effort by the state to paint its opposition with the broad brush of extremism. In reality, the Muslim Brotherhood confronted the question of political violence at various stages in the development of its activist mission. The appearance of its militia during the 1940s is well documented and has been examined at length by numerous scholars. Many of the recent references to this research, however, fail to mention that the Muslim Brotherhood’s armed wing existed within the chaotic field of post-war Egyptian politics in which every major political party and social actor was as likely to fight its battles in the streets as much as in the parliament or the newspapers.

The Secret Apparatus, responsible for covert attacks against public officials in the late 1940s, was dismantled following Nasser’s repression of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1954. As it reorganized itself in later years, the remnants of the Muslim Brotherhood’s core leadership internalized many of the elements of this nebulous section of the organization—its strict hierarchical structure, discipline across the ranks, emphasis on secrecy and indoctrination—but notably not its inclinations toward violence. In other words, the proponents of the Secret Apparatus, figures like Mustafa Mashhur and Kamal al-Sananiri, believed in its tenets as a means of enduring state repression, not actively resisting it.

When the Muslim Brotherhood resumed its activism in the mid-1970s after a two-decade absence, it was in the shadow of major developments within the Islamic movement that covered both the ideological and the organizational realms. The pressures of a repressive political climate and the widespread use of torture in Nasser’s prisons threatened to fracture the Islamic movement, leading a small minority of former Muslim Brotherhood members and impressionable young Islamic activists to adopt a militant outlook that found inspiration in Qutb’s impassioned and uncompromising view of the Nasserist state. Qutb’s most fervent supporters believed Egyptian society to have become so corrupted by a secular dictatorship that the gradual reformist mission of the Muslim Brotherhood would simply not suffice. Instead, they argued for the path of violent revolution led by a vanguard of true believers.

For all the attention it has received in recent years, this view never prevailed among the mainstream Muslim Brotherhood leaders, most of whom worked actively to discredit it. In 1969, the group’s imprisoned leader, Hasan al-Hudaybi, authored a tract entitled Preachers, Not Judges, which argued forcefully in favor of a reformist approach to political empowerment that hinged upon popular preaching and mobilization across all segments of Egyptian society. Hudaybi directly repudiated the practice of “takfir,” or declaring fellow Muslims to be unbelievers, limiting the role of Islamic activists to one of “du‘a” or callers to the faith.

In spite of the alarming rise of a number of Islamic militant groups that committed notorious crimes throughout the late 1970s, the more important (and certainly more enduring) story of the decade was the ability of the Muslim Brotherhood to reconstitute itself as the chief representative of the mainstream Islamic movement. Hudaybi’s successor, a lawyer named ‘Umar al-Tilmisani, oversaw the group’s reemergence by constructing an Islamic call, or “da‘wa” that found widespread appeal within a new generation of Islamic activists across Egypt’s colleges and universities. By the end of the Sadat era, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians had found in the Muslim Brotherhood a forum for oppositional politics premised on building a strong social base and gradual engagement with state institutions. In fact, as several student leaders from the era have since argued, were it not for the moderate and gradualist Islamism packaged and distributed by Tilmisani’s Muslim Brotherhood, the spread of militancy among the nation’s disaffected youth would have been far more pervasive.

That sentiment is worth recalling as one unpacks the implications of the coup government’s efforts to eradicate one of the country’s oldest social movements from Egyptian society. In the past year, the organization was declared illegal by judicial decree as well as a cabinet decision. As the state’s campaign of intimidation, indefinite detentions, torture, and mass executions continues to descend upon the nation’s independent activists, Sisi’s pledge to destroy the opposition presents a haunting prospect. “There will be nothing called the Muslim Brotherhood during my tenure,” he told an interviewer last May. Sisi’s aggressive social engineering project is bound to hold grave consequences for a country that is already reeling from several years of social and economic volatility and a regional insurgency that become more potent after the military’s takeover.

Despite its desperate attempts to do so, the Sisi regime has yet to demonstrate that the Muslim Brotherhood has had a hand in any of the militant bombings that have occurred since Morsi’s overthrow. For all of its faults—and they are many—the organization has maintained a consistent record of non-violent contention against successive authoritarian rulers, having reasserted its ideological as well as institutional mission in the 1970s.

As recent events in neighboring states have demonstrated, when the avenues for the legitimate expression of an Islamically oriented political program are closed, extremism prevails. The alarming rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is just one such example. In a recent online video, an ISIS spokesman commenting on events in Egypt reserved the bulk of his condemnation for Morsi, not Sisi. He declared the imprisoned Muslim Brotherhood leader “an apostate” and relished at the prospect of serving as his executioner. The greatest threat to religious militancy is not an equally violent state-sponsored secularism, but rather an open political climate that accommodates competing modes of activism irrespective of their religious, sectarian, or ideological leanings.

By conflating the Muslim Brotherhood’s legacy of oppositional politics with violent incarnations of anti-state contention, the terror metanarrative attempts to establish on a false basis the state’s ability to respond to perceived threats with all means at its disposal. The memory of the massacre at Rabaa will live on as a reminder of the painfully high cost of the abuse of history.

Headline image credit: AFP PHOTO / MOSAAB EL-SHAMY, CC BY-NC 2.0 via Flickr.

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4. The Power of Children’s Books to Change the World

First Book Global: New books to 10 million kids worldwide

In 2012, Malala Yousafzai, age 15, was shot in the face by Taliban thugs for daring to promote education for women and girls in her native Pakistan. She has not only survived, she has taken her cause to the global level. Her speech before the United Nations inspired the world: “One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”

One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”

I think of Malala often; her words and the battle she is waging against forces determined to keep her away from a world of knowledge. We know that one child with one book can change the world. But millions of children are being held back from the knowledge they’re so hungry for, not only by violent fundamentalism but by relentless poverty. This is a battle, and we have to win.

That’s why today at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York, I announced First Book’s commitment to reach 10 million children worldwide by 2016 with the books they need to read, learn and succeed.

First Book Global: New Books to Kids At Home and Around the World

Each year, First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise, connects 2 million children from low-income families in the United States and Canada with brand-new, top-quality books and educational materials. Over the next three years, we will expand our efforts globally, reaching classrooms, programs and NGOs in India, Brazil, Egypt and elsewhere.

Let’s Bring New Books to 10 Million Children Worldwide Our efforts abroad will strengthen our work domestically. One of our core missions is to bring children here in the United States books and digital content that reflects the full diversity of the world. As we expand the market for books and materials in a range of languages, countries, and cultures, the array of content we can offer in the United States will also grow. More stories will be available to all children.

We’ve been preparing for global expansion for a long time. Our team at First Book has already learned from pilot projects around the world with partners including Feed The Children, World Vision and Touch A Life Foundation. We have been in discussions with a variety of potential global partners who are eager to work with us to access new educational resources that have been so scarce for the children they serve.

A Real and Urgent Need

Make no mistake. It will be hard work. The demands on our staff, volunteers and partners will be staggering, and the fundraising needs are daunting.

But we don’t have the luxury of waiting until it’s easy.

Children in poverty around the world are waiting for us, and so are the local heroes working to educate them. They have no supply pipeline for books, calculators, educational games and digital readers. First Book is the missing piece, and they need us now.

Over the next three years, we’ll be building our content, our partnerships and our outreach, and we’ll be asking you to help us fulfill this commitment to children around the world.

Click here to sign up for occasional email updates about First Book and our global expansion, and to learn ways you can get involved.

 

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5. New and Upcoming Indie MG and YA Titles

cover34385-medium

Jake’s plan for a carefree holiday at a musical performing arts camp in the Windy City hits a sour note when he stumbles upon a long-hidden message from his mother, art historian Karen McGreevy. She had traveled to Chicago thirteen years earlier on a dream assignment, never to return home. With his violin and his mother’s mysterious letter in hand, Jake, his best friend Julie, and new pals Ben and Natalie are heading west, where they will follow the clues and uncover the truth about a missing masterpiece, the meaning of friendship, and the enduring bond between a mother and her son.

Coming in November from MB Publishing!

rocket

A thrilling graphic novel adventure that unlocks the mysteries of ancient Egypt!

The Egyptian capital of Cairo is a buzzing hive of treasure hunters, thrill-seekers, and adventurers, but to 12-year-old Ronald “Rocket” Robinson, it’s just another sticker on his well worn suitcase. But when Rocket finds a strange note written in Egyptian hieroglyphs, he stumbles into an adventure more incredible than anything he’s ever dreamt of.

Rocket and his friends soon run afoul of master criminal Otto Von Stürm, who’s planning the theft of the greatest treasure in history—an ancient pharaoh’s fortune, secretly hidden for centuries. To stop him, they’ll have to de-code an ancient riddle, solve a cryptic puzzle, face off hungry crocodiles, and navigate a centuries-old labyrinth full of traps. All while staying one step ahead of Otto’s bloodthirsty goons.

The streets of Cairo come alive in Sean O’Neill’s lively, vibrant, full-color illustrated pages. Young fans of ancient Egypt will immediately be drawn in by the references to hieroglyphics, mummies, pyramids, and pharaoh’s tombs, all lavishly illustrated in O’Neill’s fun, accessible style.

Coming in October from BoilerRoom Studios.

survivors

The Survivors: Body & Blood is the third installment of The Survivors Series!

How many answers you seek are just a part of you, waiting to be found?

The game has changed.

Fresh from her first brush with mortality, a fragile Sadie Matthau is playing human with Cole Hardwick while the Survivors endure unimaginable tragedy. Wrought with the first deaths of their own kind, a tyrant who will torture them, and an opponent more terrifying than anyone could have foreseen, the Survivors are facing their end.

Told from three points of view, The Survivors: Body & Blood is a bloodcurdling, mind-bending, heart-stopping ride. As Sadie and the Winters uncover more enemies, more history, and more answers, they find themselves brought closer together and ripped further apart. And all the while, a haunting Alexander Raven lurks at the edge of Sadie s lifeline, at the darkening fringes of her mind.

As the Survivors descend into chaos, Sadie realizes a painful truth: the deepest of secrets leave the darkest of marks.

Caught between a terrifying fantasy and her own grim reality, Body & Blood is the story of Sadie s dance with her demons, future, past, and present.

Released July 2013 from Chafie Press, LLC.

camelot

 

Filled with terrific suspense and budding romance, Daughter of Camelot is a fast paced adventure set against the turmoil at the end of the Arthurian era.

Raised in the shadow of a fort dedicated to training Knights of the Round Table, Deirdre thirsts for adventure.

Instead, at 14, she is sent to court to learn the etiquette and talents of a young woman.

Court life, however, is more fraught with danger than she expected, and Deirdre finds herself entangled in a deadly conspiracy that stretches deep into the very heart of Camelot.

All Deirdre thought she knew and believed in—loyalty, love, bravery—is challenged when she embarks on a quest to defy Fate and save the King.

Coming in September 2013 from Mabon Publishing.

 

 


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6. Maggie Welcomes Thousands of Visitors Worldwide

Maggie Steele, the storybook heroine who vaults over the moon, has been attracting thousands of visitors from around the world. So many visitors, in fact, that she’s using a time zone map to keep track of them all.* People are … Continue reading

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7. Who's Your Mummy?


Peanut shell sacrcopha-guys. 
Yes, I know. 
We're nuts.
I like to think of research as
permission to plunge overboard,
to get lost in your story world
in order to find it.
 
Some people tape maps to the walls
and wear fuzzy Russian hats.
Others swear by magazine clippings.
Hungarian folk music.
Books on fly fishing.
French chocolate.

We wear pipe cleaner headdresses. 

 

What's your research quirk? 


Can you tell what we're into these days?
It helps that King Tut's treasure is only a ferry ride away.

We said our howdies to the Pharaohs

and hopped home, hot about Egypt.

I buried old pottery shards for a "Dig."


Kids + Dirt = Heaven!

When I was sixteen, my parents took us to Egypt.

Valley of the Kings, pyramids and the Sphinx
all did their dazzling best. 


And then there was this old dump,
littered with broken scraps. 
At the time, mum and dad seemed so very un-cool
sifting through that Egyptian dump,
selecting a few shards to bring home.
 
But who's my mummy now?
Oh yeah!
There has never been such excitement in our backyard.

My fake gold necklace
came in handy
as the crowning discovery.

Treasure!
 

  
Hieroglyphs + Clay  = Name cartouches!
 

Sarcophagi:
Our wee coffins
are nothing more than
peanut shells, paint, 
and gold pens for a little extra pizazz.


That's it in a nutshell.



So many great books to share with you!

The 5,000-Year-Old Puzzle - Claudia Logan, Melissa Sweet
Bill and Pete Go Down the Nile - Tomie dePaola
The Egyptian Cinderella - Shirley Climo, Ruth Heller
The Secret Room - Uri Shulevitz
Zekmet, the Stone Carver - Mary Stoltz, Deborah Nourse Lattimore
How the Sphinx Got to the Museum - Jessie Hartland
The Three Princes - Eric A. Kimmel, Leonard Everett Fisher
One City, Two Brothers - Chris Smith, Aurelia Fronty
Exodus - Brian Wildsmith
I, Crocodile - Frank Marcellino
The Shipwrecked Sailor - Tamara Bower
The Jewel Fish of Karnak - Graeme Base

 

Product Details

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8. Enter To Win

The Empyrical Tales Book III: The Secret Queen is out now and I am giving away a free autographed copy!

All you have to do is visit my blog (http://empyricaltales.blogspot.com/) and enter on the right hand side. Even if you are already a fan of The Empyrical Tales on Facebook, you can still enter daily until June 30th.

Login into the Rafflecopter widget with Facebook or Twitter, then complete the entries for the day. Each day you come back, you can enter again.

The Secret Queen tells the story of young Olena and her adventures in the Southern Valley where she encounters dinosaurs! Even if you haven't read the first two books, this is a great story for kids and adults. If you want to start at the beginning, Book I: The Fourth Queen is still ONLY 99 Cents on Amazon Kindle!


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9. My Friend Karl

Part of the fun of writing an ongoing series is creating new characters with each story. I have the same core characters from the beginning (two of which I love almost like they were my own daughters). A large part of the newest plot has to do with a great guy I call Karl Lumpkin.

The Secret Queen 
Book III of The Empyrical Tales
is now available 
from Comfort Publishing 
wherever fine books are sold.


Karl describes himself as a "free thinker of old". In The Secret Queen, he is a sixteen year old boy that has an uncanny knack of predicting the future. He is witty and odd. Karl serves as a big brother figure for Olena on her journey to the south.

Some readers may recall Eisenhahn talking about Wizard Lumpkin in The Lost Queen. Is it possible that these are one and the same? Eisenhahn talks about an old man in his past, while Olena meets a young man in the present. I can say that there is definitely more to Karl than seen at first glance.

Oh, and Karl has his own Twitter account for when he visits our world - @WizardLumpkin

With the official release of The Secret Queen today, you can meet all of the new characters that cross paths with Olena on her quest to discover the secret!

Click HERE to get it on Amazon. http://goo.gl/AjcYW

Also, the Kindle version of The Fourth Queen is ONLY 99 Cents for a limited time. It's not too late to start at the beginning! Click HERE for The Fourth Queenhttp://goo.gl/3ctUl

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10. Sphinx's Queen

Sphinx's Queen (Princesses of Myth)Sphinx's Queen Esther Friesner

This is the sequel to Sphinx's Princess and I didn't like it as much.

After being accused and found guilty of killing the crown prince's cat, Nefertiti is on the run with her freed slave Nava and Prince Amenophis. They have several harrowing escapes as they make their way down the Nile to the Pharaoh, hoping he'll listen to Nefertiti's case. But even if they reach Pharaoh, it may not be enough.

After everything that happened in the last book and everything that happens in this one, Nefertiti's naivete about court life and her aunt's political machinations starts to be... annoying. Yes, she shows great strength of character, but if she can't see what's going on in front of her, how will she ever be a great queen and keep her household under control, let alone the kingdom? Also, if she can't quickly learn such lessons after everything that's happened to her... dude.I also found the ending a little too tidy and neat.

Overall, I didn't think these two books were as strong as Nobody's Princess and Nobody's Prize, probably because with the Helen books, Friesner had more source material to work with.

It looks like these four books are now labeled as "Princesses of Myth" which makes me think we'll see some more in the coming years. I really enjoyed the Helen books and the Nefertiti ones were pleasant reads even if they didn't live up to the earlier ones. So, I'll be keeping an eye on what's coming next.

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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11. Is the Brotherhood part of Egypt’s future, or just its past?

By Geneive Abdo


Over the past several weeks, leaders of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood have placed on public display the lessons they have learned as Egypt’s officially banned but most influential social and political movement by trying to pre-empt alarmist declarations that the country is now headed for an Iran-style theocracy.

Members of the venerable Brotherhood, founded in 1928 by an Egyptian school teacher to revitalize Islam and oppose British colonial rule, have so far stated no plans to run a candidate in the next presidential election, and they surprised many by their halting participation in the transitional government, after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak. They also have made it clear that they have no desire to seek a majority in the Egyptian parliament, when free elections are held, as promised by Egypt’s current military rulers. In fact, the Brotherhood has voiced its commitment to work with all groups within the opposition – including the secular-leaning youth who inspired the revolution – without demanding a leading role for itself.

These gestures have produced two reactions from Western governments and other international actors heavily invested in Egypt’s future: Some simply see this as evidence that there is no reason to fear the Brotherhood will become a dominant force in the next government.

Others view the Brotherhood’s public declarations with skepticism, saying the promises are designed simply to head off any anxiety over the future influence and scope of the religious-based movement. For example, British Minister David Cameron, who last week became the first foreign leader to visit Egypt after Mubarak’s downfall, refused to meet Brotherhood leaders, saying he wanted the people to see there are political alternatives to “extreme” Islamist opposition. Such simplistic characterization of the Muslim Brotherhood simply echoes Mubarak’s long-term tactic to scare the West into supporting his authoritarian rule as the best alternative to Islamic extremism.

But the future on the horizon for the Brotherhood lies most likely somewhere between these divergent views. Now that Egyptians have freed themselves from decades of restraint and fear, a liberalized party system will logically follow, reflecting the values, aspirations and religious beliefs of Egyptian society as a whole.

What the outside world seems to have missed during the many decades since the Brotherhood was banned is the fact that the movement has never been a political and social force somehow detached from Egyptian society. Rather, the widespread popularity of the movement – which is fragmented along generational lines – can be best explained by the extent to which it reflects the views of a vast swathe of Egyptians.

The Brotherhood has waited patiently for society to evolve beyond the Free Officers movement of former President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Beginning in the early 1990s, it was clear that Islamization was taking hold in Egypt. In my book, No God But God: Egypt and the Triumph of Islam, which documented the societal transformation from a secular to more religious Egypt during the 1990s, I made it clear that the Brotherhood was on the rise. This was in part responsible for the Brotherhood’s strong showing in parliamentary elections in 2005, when they ran candidates as independents because Egyptian law prohibits religiously-based parties to run candidates in elections.

The question now is wh

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12. Democracy and Predictability in the Middle East

By Elvin Lim


American foreign policy elites are now facing the difficult choice of deciding if our short-term goals are in fostering democracy in the Middle East, or in quietly propping up authoritarian allies in the region. Even if policy-makers have a choice, it not an easy one to make. Certainly, in the long run, democracy in the Middle East would likely remove the breeding conditions for terrorism and resentment towards the West, but in the short run, transitioning toward democracy is a highly volatile project and in the meantime our strategic interests in the region could be compromised.

That is why until September 11, 2001, there had been an unspoken consensus that democracy in the Middle East matters less than friends in the Middle East. It has certainly been easier for the United States to negotiate with Kings and dictators than they have with the unorganized masses. We are not alone in taking the path of least resistance. The Soviet Union and the British empire operated on the same principle, prioritizing predictability over democracy. Indeed, almost all the monarchies in the Middle East were created by the British, trying to replicate the balance of power called the Concert of Europe which had prevailed in Europe in the 19th century.

This top-down, and short-term approach to regional order and predictability had its consequences in crowding out the more sustainable, bottom-up approach. The result of imposing an authoritarian solution from above is that whereas countries in the West developed democratic institutions and traditions, countries in the Middle East were developmentally arrested, never allowed to develop the apparatuses of self-rule, including a system of government accountability, a separation and division of powers, codified laws, stable political parties, a free and open media, and an engaged and educated citizenry. The existence of a major resource, oil, made it especially difficult for countries in the Middle East to break out of their arrested development, because leaders propped up by oil revenue spent their energies defending their control of resources rather than fighting for the affections of the people. As a result, most countries in the region failed to develop electorally responsive mechanisms to allocate and check political power. By choosing democracy over predictability and the path of least resistance, the US and the West made it more likely that the Middle East would enjoy neither in the future.

September 11, and the war in Iraq it precipitated, temporarily blurred this conclusion because it appeared that we could seek democracy and predictability at the same time, or at least the neo-conservatives in the Bush administration promised. The relative success of the Iraq war blurred the zero-sum game between democracy and predictability by seeking the latter in the name of the former. But the temporary marriage between our commitment to democracy and predictability in the Middle East could last only as long as our commitment to the former was tentative and calibrated.

The uprisings in Tunisia, however, has put this marriage to the test. As the wave of protest spreads in the Middle East, some neo-conservatives are now realizing that they got more than they bargained for, and the instinct to return to short-term thinking in the US has returned. The US can take on the project of democracy one country at a time — starting for example in Iraq — but it cannot do this in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen all at once. Policy-makers and the elected politicians who appointed them have to worry about the here and now too. And that means thinking about the markets, oil prices, and friendly counter-weights to rogue regimes like Iran, which necessarily become more powerful as the authoritarian regimes around it crumble. With even the King of Bahrain now talking about reforms, and protests starting in the normally

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13. Illustration Friday: “Swarm”

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14. Banned Books becoming available in North Africa

One of the side effects of the cultural revolutions occurring across the Middle East is that some of the censorship on literature is beginning to be lifted.  Many books that were once considered dangerous or offensive by local governments in Egypt and Tunisia are beginning to find their way to readers according to The Guardian (via Moby Lives). 

The newspaper explains that several books critical of the ousted regimes are now finding their way into bookstores. Finding books like La Regente de Carthage by Nicolas Beau and Habib Bourguiba: La Trace et l'Heritage by Michel Camau are a good sign of things to come and we hope that Egypt and Tunisia can continue their march towards a more progressive government.

In other good news, Cairo's Tahrir Square will host a book fair later this month as a way to partially make up for the cancellation of the Cairo Book Fair which was abandoned in January.

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15. Traveling by Margot Justes

Celebrity Cruises altered the itinerary for my cruise in October. Alexandria, Egypt was cancelled. I suspect not because of the peaceful overthrow of the government, but the cancellation occurred after the religious conflict between Christians and Muslims broke out.

No one from the cruise line announced that was the reason, it's my own supposition about the timing of the cancellation, and of course there is the unrest in the Middle East as a whole.

To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. The Pyramids are still on my bucket list. The closest I've come is reading Elizabeth Peters' books and that just made the desire that much greater. Her descriptions are so vivid that you're right there along with Amelia Peabody and her celebrated spouse Emerson solving a mystery, amidst the archeological digs.

I cancelled the Celebrity cruise and went back to my old stand-by Royal Caribbean. Ashdod (Jerusalem) and Haifa, Israel are still part of the itinerary but now I'll also visit Kusadasi, Turkey, as well as Rhodes and Crete, Greece.

Egypt has been postponed until 2012. I sincerely hope that a solid democratic government will flourish, since that is what the general populace wanted when they peacefully toppled the old regime.

One can only hope for a peaceful resolution however tenuous the thread.

Till next time.
Margot Justes
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris

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16. Dov Torbin’s The Revolution Will Be Televised is a comic...



Dov Torbin’s The Revolution Will Be Televised is a comic about his time in Cairo during the recent Egyptian revolution.



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17. Egypt: Her Excellency, Madame President?

By Bassem SabryIn early April, Bothaina Kamel, a female television presenter and media figure, announced that she would run for the office of the presidency. In a society where the idea of a woman leading a country, the judiciary, or serving any similar role is discouraged by both culture and religion (indeed, it is often outright banned), the presence of a woman in elections stirs up strong reactions from the public. A cursory glance at the news articles that have mentioned her after she declared her candidacy feature such statements as: “Are we so out of men that we would be run by a woman?”

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18. The suspicious revolution: an interview with Talal Asad

By Nathan Schneider Not long after his return from Cairo, where he was doing fieldwork, I spoke with Talal Asad at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center, where he is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology. Distinguished indeed: with books like Genealogies of Religion and Formations of the Secular, as well as numerous articles, Asad’s work has been formative for current scholarly conversation about religion and secularity, stressing both

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19. Egypt’s anti-Christian violence: How things got so bad

By Steven A. Cook If February 11, 2011 demonstrated the very best of Egypt, then October 9, 2011 demonstrated the very worst of Egypt. The only way to describe what unfolded in front of the state television building (and subsequently Tahrir Square), where Copts were protesting over not-so-subtle official efforts to stoke sectarian tension over a church being constructed in Aswan, was an anti-Christian pogrom. The death toll stands at 25 with 300 injured. There have been scattered reports of soldiers and policemen injured, but by far the Copts took the brunt of the violence.

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20. Carter finds King Tut’s tomb

This Day in World History

November 4, 1922

Carter finds King Tut’s tomb

Howard Carter

For years, archeologist Howard Carter had poked and probed in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, hoping to repeat the success he had enjoyed in 1902, when he discovered the tombs of the pharaohs Hapshetsut and Thutmose IV. On November 4, 1922, he discovered his first sign of his greatest success. His crews had been digging among a cluster of ancient stone huts that had housed Egyptian workers thousands of years before. In the morning of Saturday, November 4, Carter found an ancient step. Further investigation revealed it was part of downward stairway similar to that used in other tombs of the XVIII Dynasty of ancient Egypt. By the next day, enough stone rubble had been cleared for Carter to descend that stairway. There, when he reached the first door, he found a thrilling sight—the doorway of a sealed tomb, meaning its contents would be untouched, and with marks indicating it was a royal tomb.

Golden bust of King Tut

While Carter was energized by the find, it took nearly three weeks for his sponsor, Lord Carnarvon, to arrive on the scene so that work could resume. On November 26, the archeologist finally reached is goal, the inner door that opened into the royal tomb. Drilling a hole in the doorway and using a candle for light, Carter beheld a “strange and wonderful medley of extraordinary and beautiful objects heaped upon one another”—the intact royal treasures of King Tutankhamen, who had died at nineteen in 1323 BCE.

Carter spent several years completing the work on the tomb, one of the most famous archaeological finds in history. The treasures from the tomb of King Tutankhamen are now permanently on display in the Cairo Museum in Egypt, though they have been sent at various times on exhibitions around the world.

“This Day in World History” is brought to you by USA Higher Education.
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21. Egypt’s President Sadat addresses Israeli Knesset

This Day in World History

November 20, 1977

Egypt’s President Sadat addresses Israeli Knesset

On November 20, 1977, Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat made an historic speech before Israel’s Knesset, or Parliament, becoming the first leader of an Arab nation to speak there. He was also the first of Israel’s Arab neighbors to publicly say anything like these words: “Today I tell you, and I declare it to the whole world, that we accept to live with you in permanent peace based on justice.”

By 1977, Israel and the nearby Arab states had fought four wars in less than 30 years. Sadat himself had been a principal architect of the most recent conflict, the Yom Kippur War of 1973. That conflict ended when Egypt, Syria, and Israel accepted a United Nations–imposed cease-fire. This time, though, the uneasy peace was not followed by yet another war. Sadat failed in peace talks to regain control of the Sinai Peninsula, which Israel had occupied in 1967. To break the deadlock, on November 9, 1977, he stunned the world by telling Egypt’s Parliament that he was willing to travel to Israel to negotiate peace. No Arab state had ever recognized Israel’s existence, let alone sent a leader to the Jewish state. Israel quickly accepted his offer, and arrangements for the historic visit were made.

Sadat’s bold move set in course discussions that resulted in the Camp David Accords the following September, and a peace treaty in early 1979—the first treaty signed by Israel and an Arab nation. Both Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin received Nobel Peace Prizes for their historic agreement. While Sadat was hailed across the world, he was less well received in the Arab world, however. The Arab League denounced Egypt in September of 1978, and Sadat was assassinated in his homeland by radical Islamists because of his overtures to Israel and the western world.

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22. In your face in Cairo

By Brian K. Barber

I had learned from Kholoud that Aly would be in Cairo this week. So, as soon as I arrived on Monday night I called while walking through Tahrir Square. He picked up but the reception wasn’t good. He said he was also in the Square, that he was headed to drop off his bags, and would call later. I didn’t hear back from him.

Several calls and SMSs went unanswered. I figured that he was simply busy and that we would eventually meet this week for the next in our series of interviews that we’ve held since I first met him in early March this year.

Aly, tall and burly with a handsome face, has shared passionately in these interviews his commitment to the revolution. He, along with Kholoud and so many others in Alexandria were direct participants in the events of January 25th and beyond. (The coverage of Alexandria’s role in the revolution has been pitifully inadequate). When I first met him, Aly had just been injured in his hand and shoulder in a battle with security forces as they attempted to destroy incriminating documents.

Over the months, he, like all other activists, expressed increasing disappointment with the lack of substantive change. Aly’s narrative was unique among those I’ve talked intensively with, however, in his growing conviction that real change would require an escalation in violence on the part of the protesters. In July, he labored heavily with his own growing awareness that the regime’s corruption extended far beyond its recently deposed leader. But, rather, the violence, exploitation, and abuses of power are endemic throughout all sectors of society. He articulated that one grave implication of that for him might be that he would end up having to fight those he knows and is close to, perhaps even his family members.

Just a few weeks ago he wrote in an email, “The situation is getting more complicated and I am not optimistic at all with the coming elections. . . I am wondering . . . how could we break this system, what else is needed? I am believing that we need more violence against these structures and those leading it.”

Then, two days ago here in Cairo, in classic revolutionary form he posted on Facebook: “It is by all means the time of revolution, emancipation(s), and …love. SO For God Sake Revolt or die in Shame. It is the correction of the Egyptian Revolution Path; from War/revolution to politics and Again in the correct road from politics of the coward elites to the WAR/REVOLUTION of brave young generation who fights in the first lines, behind the enemy lines and in front and against the heavy machines of war and suppression. They shoot by their heavy equipment and we shoot by faith, believe and anger. Tomorrow we will not die, tomorrow we will be emancipation from who we had been, a new life is going to born from the heart and mud of the battle field of our revolution.

I had an immediate sense that Aly would be acting out this admonition himself, and even wrote to a colleague that I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he would soon be a casualty of this newly reenergized revolution.

Last night at about 10pm I thought to try one more time to reach him. A voice picked up and identified himself as Aly’s friend. I could hear Aly in the background overruling his friend’s decision to turn me away and he took the phone. He was excited to talk, as was I to hear his voice. It wasn’t a surprise, but no less difficult, to hear from him that he lay in the hospital with bullet wounds to his head and body. He said that he “would love so much” a visit and, getting directions from Ayman, I hastened to

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23. Egypt’s Revolution a Year Later

Nearly a year has passed since the huge crowds in Cairo’s Tahrir Square rallied to overthrow former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Yet, the Egyptian public remains loathe to articulate a coherent vision for Egypt, and “that is the challenge going forward,” says Steven A. Cook, CFR’s top Egypt expert. He says that the next crucial step will be choosing a hundred-person group to write a new constitution, which could to lead to a crisis between the interim military-led government and the newly elected Islamist parliament. Meanwhile, the United States, which has been a close ally of Egypt for decades, finds itself having to deal with the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, and as a result, Cook says, “there’s going to be a divergence between Egypt and the United States over time.”

Interviewee: Steven A. Cook, Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Interviewer: Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor, CFR.org

With the anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution [January 25] only a couple of weeks away, do Egyptians think they are better off now than they were when Mubarak was in charge? What about U.S. officials, are they happier or more worried?

For the most part, Egyptians are happy to see the end of the Mubarak era, which was not an era of prosperity. It was not an era in which they could participate. It was an era of corruption and authoritarian politics. There remain supporters of the old regime, although they are a relatively small minority. The big question is what does the so-called silent majority–that the Egyptian Armed Forces consistently looks to–want? It’s unclear without major nationwide polling, but you do get a sense that what these people want is change. They came out in large numbers to vote in the now-concluded parliamentary elections. They want change. They want prosperity. They do not want the authoritarianism of the previous regime, but beyond that, it’s entirely unclear what Egyptians want. And I think that that is the challenge going forward.

There is supposed to be a hundred-person constitutional assembly created to write a new Egyptian constitution, which is to be followed by a presidential election. Is that going to be easy?

The challenge in the constitution-writing period is divining a vision for Egypt that the vast majority of Egyptians agree upon. And I think that that’s been and remains a problem.

Is Washington content to watch this uncertainty unfold?

The challenge in the constitution-writing period is divining a vision for Egypt that the vast majority of Egyptians agree upon.

U.S. policymakers find themselves in an unknown environment. Egyptian politics have been quite scrambled. The party of the Muslim Brotherhood–the Freedom and Justice Party–is slated to win somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 percent of the seats in the new People’s Assembly, followed by the Salafist al-Nour Party, with some 25 percent. Neither of these groups has historically held worldviews that conform to American interests in the region. So there’s going to be a divergence between Egypt and the United States over time. And that’s due not only to Islamist politics. People associate Egypt’s strategic relationship with the United States with Hosni Mubarak, even though it began before him, and people don’t believe that it served Egypt very well. As a result, I think there are going to be changes, and I think that that is certainly cause for concern. American policy makers are aware of the changes in Egypt, and they’re struggling to find a poli

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24. PAD Day 24—Two For Tuesday

Skírnismál, one of the poems in the Poetic Edda.

Skírnismál, one of the poems in the Poetic Edda. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Everyone knows love and its opposite. There are love poems galore because each person experiences it differently. On the flip side, each person has experienced the other side of love; the one that brings pain/suffering instead of continued joy.

Poetic Asides asks participants in its Poem-A-Day Challenge to tackle the subject of love today. It’s Two For Tuesday with a call for a love poem and an anti-love poem. Wait for it. The scramble is on, with the upshot being poets throwing poems by the handful into that cyber ring.

I have to ask forgiveness on this one, for it brings both aspects together into one poem. I hope you enjoy it. Later I’ll probably feel guilt and do at least one more poem for the day.

 

Too Short

 

Memory serves to recreate that moment

When temptation and speculation began

With a look, an accidental touch, a word.

Wearing your autumn fire in your hair

 

You smiled with dark brown eyes,

Laughing at something said by another.

I watched, knowing love again

Within a heart made cynical by life.

 

That moment when you turned and sighed,

Snuggled, saying you wanted to be kissed.

Ah, how could you know my thrill in that

Instant of being wanted by languid request.

 

A time of sweet refrain marched to its tune,

Leaving me unprepared of its ending too soon.

Guilt and hurt reprised tamped cynicism,

Bringing an understanding of full meaning,

 

To one who’d never been allowed this life

With another to share all my joys and strife.

© Claudette J. Young 2012

 

25. Gearing Up for Book 3

As the June 1st release of The Secret Queen draws near, interest in The Empyrical Tales series is growing.

Here is a brand new review of Book I: The Fourth Queen from The Reader's Roundtable.



Jaymes said, "Mark Miller has added his own unique spin on the fairytales..." and "The Fourth Queen is a really good beginning to a captivating series."


Please click here to read the full review: http://youngandtherestless.thereadersroundtable.com/?p=381


If you haven't traveled to the land of Empyrean yet, Comfort Publishing recently released both titles for Kindle. You can get The Fourth Queen HERE (http://goo.gl/ObwtL) and Book II: The Lost Queen HERE (http://goo.gl/yYzSq).

Over the next thirty days or so, I will begin introducing some of the new characters from The Secret Queen. Many of them were inspired by Egyptian mythology and dinosaurs. I look forward to sharing this next adventure with you.


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