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Thursday, 2 March 2017

Attacks on Sinai Christians by Islamist terrorists top coverage of Egypt in the int’l press

After yesterday’s reprieve, international coverage is once again squarely focused on the wave of attacks by the Daeshbags in North Sinai targeting Coptic Christians. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s comments on developments in the peninsula received widespread pickups from international news outlets, including DW, Anadolu and Al Jazeera, along with Amnesty International’s criticism of the administration’s handling of the affair.

The story has also crossed over into the mainstream business press, with Dahlia Kholaif filing “ISIS Violence, Intimidation Escalates in Egypt’s Sinai” for the Wall Street Journal. The subhed: “Women who don’t comply with the militants’ dress code have been threatened with whipping, acid.”

On a related note, Al Azhar’s regional interfaith conference on tolerance received coverage, but not in a good way. In the ultimate irony, Al Azhar head Grand Sheikh Ahmed El Tayeb used the tolerance conference to accuse many supporters of abortion rights, LGBTQ rights as well as some advocates of “human rights, global peace, coexistence, freedom, equality” of trying to annihilate the Abrahamic religions and fomenting a conspiracy against the region, the Associated Press reports. There are no words…

The Associated Press has picked up on the spat between Al Ahram and the House of Representatives, on which we reported yesterday. “The quarrel — a rare public spat between two of Egypt’s leading institutions — began this week when Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Al criticized the paper’s coverage of the legislature. He said the 141-year-old newspaper was mismanaged and had better remember that ‘we finance it.’” Al Ahram believes the criticism was inappropriate and asked the speaker to “double check his facts.”

The Ahram-Parliament spat is part of a series of articles coming out yesterday and this morning in the foreign press on the long worn out trope of oppression in Egypt, mostly from the New York Times and the Associated Press. Mohamed El Shamy pens an ode to the journalists still in prison in Egypt for NYT, while that pinnacle of unbiased journalism, Al Jazeera, is delving into the hunger strike of Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa and the deterioration of his health. The Associated Press is covering the arrest of nine Ikhwanis, while the awkwardly named communist publication Equal Times is looking into the disbursing by authorities of a strike at Misr Spinning and Weaving Company demanding higher wages. Read them if you must.

The case for rapprochement between Egypt and Iran: The former head of the foreign affairs committee in Iran’s National Security Council Seyyed Hossein Mousavian co-authored a piece picked by the Asia Times making the case for why a rapprochement between Cairo and Tehran is not only necessary but very doable. Mousavian looks at historical examples where leading Egyptian Sunni scholars formed interfaith pacts and treaties with their Shia counterparts in Iran. The prominence of both countries in the Sunni-Shia divide would help make any future agreement between both countries a major contributor to regional peace. He also points to Egypt’s beef with Saudi Arabia, its half-hearted commitment to the alliance fighting the Houthis in Yemen, and Egypt’s active moves against regime change in Syria as signs that Cairo could be amenable to an agreement.

CIA agent Sabrina de Sousa, who was found guilty of unlawfully kidnapping imam Abu Omar in Milan, got a partial pardon from the Italian president, according to Deutsche Welle. The Italian president took a year off de Sousa’s sentence in light of the fact that the US no longer practices extraordinary rendition.

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