September: Copts in New York* were urged by their priests and bishops to go welcome Sisi and express support as he arrived at the UN General Assembly. In a shameful video, Bishop Youanes of NJ is shown telling his parishioners that they should all go and each will get a drink and a T-shirt and will be bussed outside the UN to welcome Sisi. They obeyed and chanted for Sisi outside the UN holding Egyptian flags in a cringe-inducing and humiliating manner. Social media Copts were not very happy, including prominent Copts.
The Bishop of New York also indirectly threatened Egyptian Copts with their families who are in Egypt.
[This post will be updated throughout October]
Melania Trump’s visit to Egypt was without public interest or much fanfare. It was, by many accounts, a muted presence. She was visiting Egypt as part of her solo ‘trip to Africa’.
On another note, on the occasion of the October 73 celebrations, Jamal Mubarak was seen arriving at the grave of the unknown soldier, taking selfies with people and joining the celebrations. This further raised the ire of the regime and prompted the media to attack him and question his motivation. Even the newspaper Veto has removed the news and the videos.
The biggest news since the beginning of October was regarding two disappearances:
First, the disappearance of Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey after entering the Saudi consulate to acquire a marriage license. His fiance was waiting for him outside the embassy and he never came out. She reported him missing. By Oct 7th, news spread that he had been killed inside the consulate. The Saudi Crown Prince Bin Salman gave an interview to Bloomberg and commented on the disappearance claiming he knew nothing about it: “We hear the rumors about what happened. He’s a Saudi citizen and we are very keen to know what happened to him.”
Saudi Arabia is denying involvement and claiming they don’t know his whereabouts. But BBC’s Lyce Ducet said that Taha Ozhan, Chair Foreign Affairs Committee, Turkey Parliament, stated that ‘we are sure he was murdered.’ He called on Saudi consulate to release its evidence and said Turkish police will release details shortly. Information came out also that he has been killed and his body defiled. Turkey also stated that his murder was videotaped and the tape was taken out of the country.
Khashoggi was a critic of the Saudi regime and a writer for the Washington Post and others. His colleagues left his column empty, awaiting his return, when they published the newspaper both on and off line.
Image via the Washington Post
Update: Turkey showed a security video of Khashoggi entering the Saudi consulate. Saudi CG said theirs weren’t recording.
Update: Turkey claims to have videos of the Khashoggi murderers and the US intelligence and other intelligence sources including the British stated that it was conducted with orders directly from the Saudi Palace. Information is surfacing about Khashoggi being murdered and sawed inside the Saudi consulate. Two airplanes left – one for Cairo and one for Saudi Arabia, which, in itself incriminates Cairo in the matter. Turkey also gave a list of the 15 men who landed in Turkey to assassinate Khashoggi and they include Saudi intelligence men.
Update: The US congress is mounting pressure to put on Saudi Arabia with calls from the media, NGOs and others to ban arms sales to Saudi. Trump stated that he was concerned about the US economy and the $$$ and jobs if he puts any pressure on the Kingdom!
Hakawi laments the death, and celebrates the life, of pioneer Marie Asaad:
Pioneer Marie Asaad
- Marie Asaad, who pioneered civil society work in Egypt, has died. Her wisdom and composure in the middle of storms, her strength in telling the truth and standing for what is right will be sorely missed. Asaad was also a pioneer in working not only on women’s development issues, but also on banning FGM in Egypt. I have learnt extensively about it directly from her work. Many of us owe much gratitude to her and we will miss her humility and beauty.
Jameel Ratib in Tahrir Sq with actress Mohsena Tewfik
- Writer Jalal Amin has died. He was a university professor of economics and has authored many books on Egypt.
- Renowned and beloved actor Jameel Ratib has died. He was 92. Ratib had participated in, and was a strong supporter of, the Jan 25 Revolution.
- Sisi visited the UN for the annual UN General Assembly meeting. In his speech, he spoke of respecting human rights and fighting terrorism. [read below about Copts welcoming him in New York]. Egyptian media wrote about the Sisi trip as if it was a victory of some sort. One newspaper stated ‘Sisi’s Egypt talks to the world’!
- A US supported “Arab Unity Force” is being discussed: it will be led by an Egyptian General. Three strong candidates from Egypt‘s Armed Forces are being considered, with one general being regarded as the front-runner for the position.
- Despite intense Saudi pressure, the UN Human Rights Council renewed UN investigation of the ongoing war crimes in Yemen, including Saudi-led bombing and blockading of civilians. Vote is 21 in favor, 8 against, 18 abstain, rejecting Saudi effort to buy its way out of scrutiny. Egypt voted against!!
- Sisi stated that he refuses to nominate himself for a third term!!
- Sisi has ratified a law granting authorities the right to monitor social media users in the country as part of tightening internet controls.
- The Russian Embassy tweeted that Egypt and Russia have signed an agreement to monitor the environmental conditions in the area of the construction of the station Dabaa nuclear plant.
- This is Sisi’s presidential palace which is under construction in El Alamein:
El Alamein presidential palace
Much has happened since the murder of St. Macarius Abbott, Bishop Epiphanius. First, the State has decided to appoint two Copts to governor positions, one of whom is also a woman:
Kamal Sharobeen – governor of Dakahliya
Manal Awad, governor of Damietta [the first woman, Coptic governor in Egypt]
Second, the murderer of Bishop Epiphanius, his lawyer and his brother say that his confession was a result of ‘torture’ at the police station. [Ummm… I doubt it.] I will be writing some more about the murder and other conflicts within the church soon.
Third, several attacks occurred against ‘unlicensed’ churches: Continue reading