Friday, September 20, 2013

Frontline episode - "Egypt in Crisis"

by Salman Hameed

I could not embed the video, but here is the link to this week's Frontline episode titled Egypt in Crisis. It does not provide any new picture, but it does show some heartbreaking images from some of the recent violence in Cairo. Here is the trailer for the episode:

The Frontline website also has this page that links other news stories that provide a broader context: Dig Deeper - More on Egypt's Political Turmoil. Also, listen to this excellent Fresh Air interview with David Kirkpatrick, who has been doing a fantastic job reporting from Cairo for the New York Times. Here is are two short bits from the interview that might be of interest for the broader context:
On what forces might have been behind Morsi's ouster 
"When the generals stepped in to remove President Mubarak at the end of those 18 days of protest in Tahrir Square, they did it with a relatively anonymous communiqué from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. This time was different. This time it was a televised press conference. It was Gen. [Abdel Fattah al-]Sisi standing alone looking rakish almost in a short-sleeved shirt and a black beret, surrounded by civilian leaders seated behind him. ... 
"So right there it changed him, and it changed the perception of the event, and it thrust him into the public spotlight. And he's followed that up with a number of carefully choreographed public speeches and presentations — you know, footage on private and state-run television of the military intervening to protect the people, set against kind of heroic, operatic scores. So I don't know. It may be that in addition to everything we might say about what the military's interests were and what their role was in the Egyptian state, it may be that Gen. Sisi sees an opportunity here for himself." 
On the aborted conversation of what pluralism would look like in an Islamic democracy 
"One of the most fascinating things we saw over these two years since the Arab Spring broke out — as the Islamic movement around the region stepped closer to power, found themselves actually for the first time winning elections and making decisions — a new debate broke out within the Islamic political movement about what did it really want? What would an Islamic democracy look like? How could it make peace with pluralism? 
"And you saw the movement itself changing. You saw people who had shunned the ballot box, embracing the ballot box because they saw new opportunities there. ... You saw new debates within the Muslim Brotherhood about whether their movement ought to go back to its roots and just do preaching and social work, and separate out the politics. In another direction, you know, what should be the role of Christians in an Islamic-dominated democracy, and what does that mean? ... This notion that any one person could speak for Islam in politics was crumbling. You know, that debate itself was ending that idea which to my mind is itself an opening for democracy. This event closes that down. That debate inside Egypt is over for the moment."
Listen to the full interview here.

I also had a chat with the editor of Nature Middle East, Mohammed Yahia, after the July coup. He lives in Cairo and he provided his thoughts on the ongoing political turmoil. Here is the link to our conversation: Mohammed Yahia on Science, Democracy, and the Unfinished Revolution in Egypt.


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