maandag 8 december 2008

Egyptische sjeik moet aftreden na handen schudden met Shimon Peres

In Egypte, waar Israel in 1979 vrede mee sloot, wordt Israel niet veel anders bekeken dan in Arabische staten die offici? nog met Israel in oorlog zijn. Het teruggeven van land is dus geen afdoende voorwaarde voor vrede en broederlijke relaties. Desondanks wordt de vrede met Egypte als een succes beschouwd en bovendien in het belang van beide landen. En dat is precies de crux: zolang vrede met Israel als in Egyptes belang wordt beschouwd, zal Egypte het vredesverdrag niet opzeggen, maar wat als Mubarak sterft? Het Egyptische volk lijkt Israel nog steeds als vijand te zien, en de media werken daar hard aan mee.

Egyptian Media, Politicians, Call on Sheikh Tantawi to Resign after he Shook Hands with Shimon Peres

Several Egyptian newspapers and lawmakers in Egypt have called on the country's foremost Islamic cleric, Sheik Muhammad Seyed Tantawi to resign Saturday for shaking the Israeli president's hand at a conference. Tantawi is the Imam of Al Azhar university, Sunni Islam's most prestigious and authoritative seat of learning.  Tantawi met Israeli President Shimon Peres at an interfaith meeting and shook his hands.  Egyptian media have since been running a photo of Grand Sheik Tantawi shaking hands with Shimon Peres almost daily since the two met at a U.N.-sponsored interfaith dialogue in New York last month. The photo is accompanied by critical editorials and comments by lawmakers. The U.N.-sponsored interfaith conference held in New York in mid-November attracted 80 countries and 14 world leaders, including Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah. Supposedly, the conference was meant to highlight moderate aspects of Islam and evidently to help advance the Saudi peace initiative.

An Al-Ousboua  editorial published on Saturday stated that Peres' hands were tainted with the blood of thousands of Palestinians who have lost their homes in Israel. 
The paper called on Tantawi to "ritually purify his hands" after the shake.

Egypt has a government controlled press. Nothing is printed in the Egyptian press without the approval of government censors, and therefore the attacks can be viewed as having official sanction, it not approval. Tantawi, who was appointed by the Egyptian government, was quoted in Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper and several others as saying he shook the Israeli president's hand without recognizing him.

A spokesman for al-Azhar was quoted in the paper as blaming Tantawi's handlers for not paying attention and misdirecting the cleric toward Peres.

Hisham Kassem, an Egyptian activist and publisher, expressed doubt about Tantawi's version of the story, saying "how can you go to an interfaith meeting and not know who Peres is?"
Peres' office declined comment on "Egypt's internal matters."

But at the time of the meeting, his office said the encounter was pleasant, and Tantawi and Peres sat next to each during a dinner and had a "very serious conversation."

Many Egyptian opposition lawmakers have called for the cleric to step down over the handshake.

"I feel shame because the person who did this is the head of one of Islam's greatest institutions," lawmaker Hamdein Sabaheen was quoted as saying Saturday in Al-Dustour newspaper.

Egypt supposedly has a peace treaty with Israel, but it is fairly meaningless in terms of public opinion and internal government policy. Egypt is a US client state, receiving over $2 billion in aid each year, most of which are spent on armaments. The Egyptian media are not allowed to be overly critical of the government, but are free to be rabidly critical of the United States and Israel, and to publish anti-Semitic materials. These have included articles praising Hitler and a TV series that insisted that the forged  
Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an anti-Semitic document, were in fact true. 
Egypt's aged president Mubarak will probably be succeeded by his son Gamal. However, it is not unlikely that Mubarak's death would destabilize Egypt. The largest opposition faction, and the only one that is permitted to function effectively, is the extremist Muslim Brotherhood. The brotherhood has renounced violence as a means of taking power in Egypt, but still adheres to the program of worldwide Jihad and enmity to Israel. Opposition figures in Egypt have called for scrapping the peace treaty with Israel.

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