Egyptian Catholic Bishop counters 10 myths about the revolution, Muslim Brotherhood, Christian persecution and more

The following excerpt is from a story published by ‘Aid to the Church in Need.’ ‘Aid to the Church in Need’ is a Catholic charity helping Christians who suffer persecution worldwide:

Bishop Kyrillos and Herman van Rompuy

Think Again: 10 Myths about Egypt’s Second Revolution

During a recent visit to the EU in Brussels, organised by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, the (Egyptian) Coptic-Catholic Bishop of Assiut, Kyrillos William Samaan (pictured above left) delivered the following report: “Think Again: 10 Myths about Egypt’s Second Revolution”.

In this document the Bishop responds to the more common queries about what is the nature of the situation in Egypt and what is reasonable to expect. These are responses he offered to EU policy-makers during the 17-19 September meeting and all remain relevant. The bishop referred to these questions as “myths” because of their power in the imagination of the people he met, and tries to dispel these myths at every opportunity. “We have to give the Egyptian constitution and the Egyptian people the chance they have been fighting for”, he said.

1. The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) represent the majority of Egyptians. In Europe we have Christian Democrats – are not the Muslim Brotherhood ‘Muslim Democrats’?

No.  The MB, in its political party form, obtained only 12 (million) out of a possible 50 million votes in the elections of 2011. Their rate of support fell sharply to as little as 5% when the Morsi government eliminated a pluralist Parliament and replaced it with one in which they were the absolute majority, was stopped short from replacing 3500 judges by people they knew would uphold Sharia law over the existing more secular laws, and declared illegal the work of foreign-funded pro-democracy and human rights NGOs. The MB, however, has an important detachment of press officers abroad still propagating a message of massive support with little or no bearing on reality in Egypt.
The above short list of exactions bears no comparison to any form of Christian Democracy as known in the West.

2. There are massive, peaceful pro-Morsi demonstrations still taking place and being suppressed.

They are an illusion fueled by the lack of presence of foreign correspondents outside Cairo.  A few hundred supporters still gather intermittently but they have worked with broadcast media owned by well-known Sunni Sheiks, even using images of the anti-Morsi demonstrations labeling them as pro-Morsi.
The demonstrations are not peaceful.  Extremists have attacked police stations with rocket-propelled grenades (Kerdasa, Aswan, Menya) killing many policemen. Many MB members are on camera threatening Christians of genocide and raising Al-Qaeda flags in the sit-in areas. Dr. Morsi himself is recorded on video calling the Shia “filth worth only of extermination”. Protestors have also paid families to resist the calls of the police to clear the area or face being expelled.

3. There was a coup and there is now a military government.

It was not a coup, but the military supporting the will of 33+ million Egyptians demonstrating in the streets under the slogan “Food, Freedom, Social Justice and Human Dignity”.

The MB international spokespeople have insisted on isolating two events as if they were disconnected: the elections that brought Morsi to power and his removal from office. There is little mention of what happened in between: the dissolution of the nascent democratic structures such as the pluralist Parliament in favor of the Islamist-dominated Constituent Assembly and the single-handed appointment of 13 MB regional leaders (out of 27).
The interim government is not military. It is a civilian government and the army has no intention of taking up power. In February 2011, when Mubarak listened to the people and stood down, he surrendered the government to a military council who proceeded to organize elections and a civilian government was installed. The lesson learnt then is replicated now and the interim
government is promising to have a new full government in 9 months, shorter again than the previous transfer of 15 months following Mubarak.

4. The Tamarod was organized by the military and pressured citizens to sign the petition.

No.  Tamarod is a youth movement, which started in May 2013 and the timeline of events demonstrates that the collection of the 22 million signatures (with full identification) started well before the army decided to ask Morsi to listen to the people. The Tamarod set a 30 June deadline for Dr. Morsi to respond to the demands, which included calling for early presidential elections.

5. Egypt had bad elections and a bad Constitution. There is no sign this time that things will be better.

Yes and No. Yes, the elections could have been better; Morsi came to power with 12 million votes in an election with approximately 43% turnout of the 50 million registered voters. Moreover, the multiple claims of fraud taking place outside Cairo had no electoral tribunal for recourse (pre-filled ballots, repeated voter names, etc.). Elections can only be improved with a truly independent electoral body and tribunal. In addition, a controversial move of the MB was to first hold the presidential elections and only afterward address the Constitution. This effectively prevented the majority of Egyptians, not members of the winning political party, to participate in the Constitutional process.
Lessons have been learnt. The new Constitution is now being drafted before elections, the Committee has a clear deadline in November, and it includes 50 Egyptians from all backgrounds, including Salafists and one former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, committed to “the creation of a constitutional Nation State, democratic and modern, founded upon a text approved by the nation supporting the separation of powers. Its current Article 3 defines “citizenship as the sole criterion of responsibility within society” (Source: interview of Mahmoud Azab, counselor for Dialogue to the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University, La Croix 16sept2013).

6. There are waves of arrests against the MB; news media are being harassed.

Most MB members are free to live and participate fully in civil society. Judiciary mandates have been issued against individuals who have incited hatred and violence: committing murder (such as those caught on camera throwing youngsters off a roof in Alexandria), as well as perpetrating acts of violence against Egyptians, victimizing not only Christians but also the majority of Muslims. At the same time, the sources of funding used to buy weapons and explosives are also being investigated – and many lead to the MB. This is the origin of the order to banish the MB’s activities, as the investigation continues. The MB is constituted of several operating arms: political party, NGO, social services providers, etc. making the investigation difficult.
As to the alleged media harassment, the broadcasting and social media units that were closed (seen abroad as news media), are rarely more than the medium of expression of well-known foreign Sheiks financing their own objectives. Al-Jazeera is Qatar-funded, largely like the MB, and in Egypt Al-Jazeera has never pretended to be impartial. Most of these broadcasters have little to do with what the West considers as free and responsible media, necessary to a democratic society. (These are facts and are proved with relative ease). Meanwhile, language barriers also
play an important part in the misunderstanding abroad of what goes on in Egypt. Multiplying information sources is still the only way to overcome this challenge.

To read the rest of the story including myths 7, 8, 9 and 10 by Bishop Kyrillos click here.

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