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Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Emergency law is topping headlines in international media

The leading headline on Egypt in the foreign press this morning is the House ofRepresentatives’ adoption of the three-month state of emergency. Most media outlets focus on how the move could erode freedoms. Reuters quotes the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, which said the law would not achieve security and was intended to “further suppress freedom of opinion, expression and belief, and to crack down on human rights defenders.” Democracy Now has a 26-minute report on the measure, the entire focus of which is to disparage the government’s human rights record and give Al Jazeera a run for its money on giving Omm El Donia a good kick when it’s down. Speaking of which, the Qatar-based organization ran a feature on the emergency law and what powers it grants the president. While it does meet what we expect from the outlet, it is surprisingly tempered compared to what we’re seeing on this issue.

There’s also a glut of coverage on the aftermath of the Palm Sunday attacks, but it’s mostly derivative stuff: commentary from Christian papers, solidarity pieces from GCC-based outlets, recycled and overused platitudes from many leading Western papers.

The New York Times’s Declan Walsh recaps how Daesh’s new plan is to “divide Egypt by killing Christians,” revisiting how defeats in Syria and Iraq pushed Daesh to “find a new battleground where it can start to proclaim victory again.” Walsh adds that “few believe it can succeed… and despite deep-rooted prejudices, there is no popular support for a bloody pogrom.” The NYT’s editorial board presses the point that we shouldn’t play into the attackers’ goals to “fan the sectarian discord between Christians and Muslims.” Making a more poignant point than usual, the Gray Lady’s editors remind us that “the struggle against terrorism is not a ‘war’ that can be won if only the right strategy is found and that it is also important not to spread illusions about quick or easy solutions. No less important is not succumbing to despair, panic or hatred. Not to surrender, in other words, to what the terrorists seek.”

Meanwhile, it’s amateur hour over at the Washington Post’s editorial board as it pontificates about how The Donald’s confidence in President El Sisi is misplaced. They argue that the church bombings — particularly the one in Alexandria, where Pope Tawadros was leading prayers — was the most prominent indicator of how El Sisi’s security strategy had failed. Exactly. Something goes boom (or a car smashes into a crowd) in the US, UK or Western Europe and it’s a tragedy. If you’re from our part of the world, it’s the failure of an entire security policy — and was probably caused by that security policy pushing people to join the terrorists in the first place.

Sunday’s attacks put Egypt’s fragile economy at risk, says DW: There were actually signs that the Egyptian economy is picking up, albeit in a small and slow way, German outfit DW says in a short video report. Inflation kept rising since the EGP float, but began inching down in March. However, following Sunday’s attacks and after imposing a state of emergency, holding on to the economic gains the country has made will be “challenging,” the report says. DW then spoke to the head of the German Chambers of Commerce, Phillip Andree, who believes that the attacks risks scaring off foreign investors (watch, runtime: 11:17)

The (ex-Qatar) GCC and London Arabic-language press is reflexively backing Egypt. Asharq Al Awsat is running piece highlighting the solidarity shown to Egypt from global leaders and governments. Kuwait’s Arab Times released two opeds, one penned by its editor-in-chief Ahmed Al-Jarallah who declares that the region shares in Egypt’s pain, the other declares how Daesh’s plans are doomed to fail.

Perhaps the most vocal outlets this morning are Christian outlets. The most pragmatic view we have found among them came from Father Rafic Greiche, spokesman for the Catholic Church in Egypt, who tells Crux he believes the religious establishment in Egypt needs to undergo a change. “The religious discourse given in the mosques has to change, because people need to be trained to be more open to their brothers,” Greiche says. Other outlets varied. Father Raymond J. de Souza appears to be proud by what he thinks are Coptic Christians willingness to be martyred for their faith. Indian Archbishop Felix Machado opened up to the Crux about his relationship with Coptic Christians during his time in Rome. Right wing advocacy group the American Center for Law and Justice is calling what happened in Egypt part of a global genocide on Christian and are urging the Trump administration to take further action, while Religion News is noting the donations being collected in the US to help rebuild the churches.

The number of Egyptian startups on AngelList grew to over 430 in early 2017, from 47 in 2013, according to an FT World Tech Founders podcast (runtime 13:44). Nafham, which offers free video lessons on YouTube for students, is one of them. “The revolution unleashed something,” says Heba Saleh, the Financial Times’ Cairo correspondent.

Away from coverage of the Palm Sunday attacks, Egypt’s ambassador to India, Hatem Tageldin, wrote for The Hindu saying Egypt’s path of democracy is a marathon, not a sprint.” This comes in response to an editorial titled “Back to square one: Egypt’s restive politics” the paper published, which he says “seemed to overlook” this point.

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