Adonis Diaries

Archive for July 21st, 2013

Are the Anti-Moslem Brotherhood liberals repeating Egypt’s Brotherhood mistakes?

Alas, Nobody Lives There Anymore

Bassem Youssef posted in Tahrir Square this July 17, 2013

“Congratulations, everyone: we’ve finally got rid of the Muslim Brotherhood forever. What a burden off our shoulders!

Finally, we will have a Muslim Brotherhood-less Egypt and, God willing, there will be no more Salafis either. It’s only a matter of days until the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) members are rounded up in jail once again, and Egypt’s normal State is restored.

That normal state, where people look good without beards or niqabs; those “good-looking people” we see on TV. Egypt will finally be a free, liberal country. Good riddance, Islamists.

What’s that?

Some MB members died at the Republic Guard? And why were they there in the first place? Aren’t you glad this happened to them? Why aren’t you gloating? You must be a Brotherhood supporter! You must be an enemy of the military and the state and probably work as a part-time terrorist!

No. I support what happened on the 30th of June and saw that Morsi was unfit to be president, but that doesn’t deny the fact that

1.  I believe there needs to be a thorough investigation into the events of the Republic Guard;

2.  I’d like to know how long the Islamists TV channels will be closed; and

3. I find the private media to be full of discrimination and inciting rhetoric.

No, no: you’re being soft! Keep your human rights to yourself.

These people can only be dealt with violently. We have to purge the country of these people.

The above is a reflection of the state of many who are on a ‘victory high’ – or so they imagine themselves to be.

The fascist nature of those people is no different than that of the Islamists who think that their enemies’ disappearance off this planet would be a victory for the religion of God.

But those on this ‘victory high’ consider themselves to be different; they justify their fascism for the “good of the country.”

These people with their liberal values and reverence for freedom differ very little from Khaled Abdullah [a radical preacher], the  “religious man” who was infamous for his favorite quote: “May God relieve us of you and your likes (the liberals).”

I do not trust or believe the Muslim Brotherhood. We have witnessed from experience that they do not keep their word, and lie time and again, as long as it serves their political agenda. They have their means of manipulating religion and justifying their actions so long as it serves their politics.

The MB and the Salafis stood in ovation to Mostafa Bakry in the Parliament when he accused El-Baradei of treason.

The MB and the Salafis supported the Internal Security Forces when they attacked the protestors and called those who created sit-ins in Tahrir Square thugs, spies, homosexuals and drug addicts.

The Islamists were the first to brownnose the military, and deem the resistance to the SCAF as an attack on the state. They were the ones eager to openly distrust the Copts, ignoring their martyrs in the clashes of Maspero, and accusing them of treason and conspiracy with the West.

Then, the MB rushed to Washington and the “vulgar, atheist, anti-Islamic” American media. They rejoiced at the rumor of American battleships moving towards Egypt, and hung signs written in English on the stage in Raba’a Al Adaweyya.

Al-Beltagy stated that the terrorism in Sinai won’t cease until Morsi is reinstated as President, which means that a senior MB leader is admitting that the ousted President is relying on terrorists to maintain his rule.

Yes, the MB has done all of this and more; and for that, Morsi deserved to be protested against by the masses, and his organization deserved the abhorrence and repulsion towards them from the people.

The senior Brotherhood leaders need to undergo investigation on charges of inciting violence, as well as their shady international relations. This is the legal and political course that needs to take place.

Aside from this, there is also a humanitarian issue on the table.

People’s lives have been lost, regardless of whether these people are from the MB or the SCAF or the civilians affected on a daily basis by the extended sit-in in Raba’a Al Adaweyya.

There are protestors [from the Muslim Brotherhood] who believe that should they leave the sit-in, they will be instantly killed or incarcerated. These people are never going to disappear. And should they leave Raba’a Al Adaweyya, they will return to their homes filled with hatred, frustration and disappointment, which will augment in the South of Egypt and neglected Delta area; and they will return, with more violence and determination in store.

This ‘victory high’ and arrogance that you see in the private media is the same sort of behavior that ended the Brotherhood’s era, and overthrew their popularity. We are now repeating the Brotherhood’s same mistakes. It’s as though we have the memory span of a goldfish.

I could write volumes on the lack of intelligence on the part of the Brotherhood and their corruption of both religion and politics, but that is another battle that requires different tools.

We are losing this battle before it has even begun: those who claim to be freedom fighters and have been denouncing the fascism and discrimination of the Brotherhood are now contributing to the building of sympathy towards them. They are a disgrace to the principles of freedom they claim to stand for. We are returning par excellence to the atmosphere of the 90s when we settled for “the security option” and the media corruption and let the chests rage with a fire of hatred, and allowed extremism to deepen day after day.

I do believe that shutting down the Islamist channels [last week] was an important decision during a sensitive period, but I’m now calling for their return. Let them talk as they wish; it has only served to make people hate and be repulsed by them. Do not give them the chance to play the victim. What are you afraid of? Of their discriminatory media rhetoric? Or of their public political stupidity?

My dear anti-Brotherhood liberal, allow me to remind you that just a few weeks ago you were desperately complaining about how grim the future looked, but now that you have been “relieved” of them you have become a carbon copy of their fascism and discrimination.

You could respond by saying that they deserve it; that they supported the security forces and used them to overpower you, to cheat and spread rumors and widen sectarian strife. But is that really your argument?

Have you made of their lowly ways a better alternative for you than abiding by the principles you have stood by for so long? They lost their moral compass a long time ago- do you want to follow suit?

Don’t you see that by inciting violence towards Palestinians and Syrians you are exactly like them, when they incite violence towards the Shi’is, the Baha’is, the Christians, and the other Muslims who opposed the Brotherhood and the Salafis?

We have replaced the “enemies of Islam” scarecrow with the “enemies of the state” scarecrow. The ideas, approaches and appearances have disappeared, and all that remains are fascism and discrimination that unite us over hatred, rather than reconcile our prejudices.

Take the leaders of the Brotherhood to court – and investigate the events at the Republican Guard. Ensure the autonomy of justice whether the victims are from your camp, or the other’s.

Demand a clear framework within which all political parties are to operate, so that no party can ever spread such discriminatory, sectarian rhetoric again. Yes, the leaders of the Brotherhood must be tried just as the leaders of the National Democratic Party (NDP) were tried in the case of provision of enough evidence and within the limits of the law.

Remember, you will never be able to erase the existence of those thousands off the face of the Earth. You will not be able arrest those thousands and their families and children, and you will not be able to prevent them from winning syndicate elections.

All you’re currently doing is repeating their past mistakes by turning a blind eye to those thousands, but you are only burying a living truth that will come back to hit you, or the coming generations in the face.

Kudos to those who have not allowed the victory high to rob them of their humanity; to those few who are currently isolated by everyone else and are not welcome in either camp unless they go with the current flow of hatred and gloating.

Humanity has now become an isolated island among wild waves of discrimination and extremism. On this island live those isolated few, their voices fading in the midst of the roaring cries for vengeance and murder.

I’m not optimistic about a population increase on that island anytime soon. But maybe in the future people will migrate to it and try to get to know this thing called humanity that we’ve all been stripped of.

What I fear most is, if a time comes when we pass by that island, and I cry in dismay: “Alas, nobody lives there anymore.”

Note 1: Dr Bassem Youssef is the TV Host of ‘The Program’ and ‘America in Arabic’. Dubbed the ‘Jon Stewart of the Arab world’, he was named as one of the ‘100 most influential people in the world’ by Time magazine. He tweets at @DrBassemYoussef .

[This article was first published in Al-Shorouk newspaper in Egypt on the 16th of July in Arabic. It was first translated at Bassem Youssef’s request for Tahrir Squared. Credit for the translation goes to Nadine H. Hafez.]

Refugee crises: Moving on beyond ‘old models’ of response

A few aid groups have welcomed the United Kingdom’s recent decision to allocate part of its funding for the Syrian crisis at long-term initiatives aimed at benefiting both refugees and host communities in Lebanon.

But such actions remain more the exception than the rule in a country where tensions between both sectors are near a boiling point.

Jenny Lei Ravelo, staff writer for Devex, posted this July 15, 2013

U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening (far left) at a food voucher distribution center

U.K. Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening (far left), at a food voucher distribution center operated by the World Vision under the World Food Program for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Greening warned that the increasing number Syrian refugees in the Lebanon could heighten regional tensions. Photo by: Foreign & Commonwealth Office / CC BY-NC-SA

The impact of the Syrian crisis is already overwhelming many Lebanese.

World Vision, in a new report published on Monday, notes that many Lebanese hosts feel their economic space and opportunities shrinking with the constant influx of Syrian refugees, who, like them, also need access to basic necessities such as shelter, food, education and employment.

Unlike for instance in Jordan, refugees do not live in camps.

Most of the refugees in Lebanon pay rent, and use the same facilities and services as locals. But while local businesses see this as an opportunity to earn more, other Lebanese, particularly those who are living close to the poverty line, see refugees as competition for scarce resources.

A case study of a struggling Lebanese family included in the report illustrates how some Lebanese are feeling the heat: “At first, we were sympathetic, but now it has changed. We used to get assistance, food parcels, assistance with school fees, food parcels, diesel fuel, and other aid, but we get nothing at all now.”

A recurrent problem

The increasing resentment by many Lebanese against refugees is worrying, and could potentially worsen if host communities continue to be left out in donors and organizations’ aid responses, said Sara Pantuliano, head of the Humanitarian Policy Group at the Overseas Development Institute.

“This is a problem that is recurrent in many refugee and internal displacement crises. This is what we continue to see, a recurrence of old models when it comes to responding to crises of this magnitude,” she told Devex.

Most aid groups, Pantuliano argued, continue to employ camp-focused responses even in urban environments “where you can’t single out the refugees.” In addition, far too many donors base their response on refugee numbers, leaving out host communities.

“Unfortunately, even though we see some improvement in donor responses, in some agencies’ response, they continue to be the exception in many ways,” she noted.

The food voucher program spearheaded by the World Food Program, and implemented by iNGOs such as World Vision, has been seen as a project that while fraught with challenges, have been helping local shops in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, where there’s high concentration of Syrian refugees.

A change in response

Several aid groups have been underscoring the need to introduce programs benefitting host communities.

In its report, World Vision suggests donors to allocate resources on economic development-focused initiatives, integrate short-term solutions with development programs that benefit both sectors, prioritize funding to organizations that are “able to demonstrate strong understanding of the needs of local communities,” and hire more humanitarian consultants in Lebanon to better coordinate the response on the ground.

Coordination is key in almost all humanitarian crises, but this has been reportedly weak if not lacking among agencies and donors responding to the crisis in Lebanon.

The United Kingdom recently hosted a meeting to discuss how to better coordinate response with regard to the Syrian crisis, but it is unclear what specific solutions were hashed out.

Pantuliano, meanwhile, encouraged agencies to come up with more creative solutions and make use of a variety of tools available, including technology, and to overcome the humanitarian-development divide.

“It’s a matter of leadership as well. We see in both Lebanon and Jordan that the humanitarian response continues to be so incredibly camp-focused, whereas development agencies have been called upon to lead the response for the community,” she argued.

‘Impossible to cope’

There are now close to a million refugees in Lebanon, a quarter of the country’s population.

“These are staggering numbers. They are creating profound cleavages within Lebanese communities because it’s just impossible for people to cope with such an influx,” said Pantuliano.

The European Commission, one of the top donors to the Syrian crisis, have spent some €64.5 million in humanitarian assistance inside Lebanon. Johannes Luchner, the commission’s chief humanitarian expert on Syria, told Devex this money is supporting all sectors of the population affected by the Syrian crisis: Syrians, Palestinians, returnees and host communities.

But he admits that “the gap between the needs and the response continues to widen at alarming rate,” and underscored the need for donors to look at measures  immediate and long term  to support host communities.

“We advocate for a long-term strategy in all the neighbouring countries affected by the crisis, especially Lebanon, to cope with the humanitarian needs, prevent further destabilization of the region, increasing internal tensions and conflict spill-over,” said Luchner. He adds the commission continues to support “improved coordination of the response to the plight of refugees.”

Read more development aid news online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive top international development headlines from the world’s leading donors, news sources and opinion leaders — emailed to you FREE every business day.

Jenny Lei Ravelo is a staff writer for Devex. She covers breaking international development news in the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and the Pacific for the Development Newswire, often focusing on aid worker security. Jenny is also a regular contributor to the GDB and other Devex publications.





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