Hot off the Arab press 463257

What citizens of other countries are reading about the Middle East.

A Coptic deacon boy looks on during a Palm Sunday mass in Cairo on April 24 (photo credit: REUTERS)
A Coptic deacon boy looks on during a Palm Sunday mass in Cairo on April 24
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Egypt’s Copts and their double burden
Al-Shorouk, Egypt, July 31
The recent clashes that broke out between Islamists and Copts throughout the country, leading to the death of dozens of protesters, again brought to light the discrimination faced by Coptic citizens of Egypt.
Copts face a double burden, which most of us Egyptians cannot understand. On the surface level, Copts, like all other Egyptians, have been suffering from the curtailing of their civil liberties. In recent years, more than ever before, Egyptians have been barred from genuine participation in political life, true freedom of speech and proper freedom of movement. “The security situation” and “political instability” have become commonplace excuses in restraining the rights of all Egyptians – Muslims and Copts as one.
But then there is another level that most of us Muslims don’t understand: the religious one. In Egypt, Islamists have encroached on the rights of Copts and deliberately marginalized them throughout history.
Coptic Egyptians have been treated as non-citizens at best, and as a fifth column at worst. Even outside Egypt, they have been neglected – by the Vatican, by the Church, and by other Christian communities around the world. There is no doubt that the world is becoming more and more progressive, but Egypt is lagging behind. As Egyptians, we must recognize that our civic identity must always come before our religious one. We are all sons and daughters of the same motherland, and we all deserve equal rights. The issues faced by the Copts are not only theirs to worry about; they are our collective problem. The lack of acceptance of non-Muslims into mainstream society is as much a problem for Muslim Egyptians as it for religious minorities in Egypt. This is the face of our society, and we must be accepting of one another. – Ahmed Abd Rabbo
Assad and the ‘Aleppo Cemetery’
Al-Hayat, London, July 31
Last week, the Syrian regime marked a great victory after completing its takeover of all major routes leading to the city of Aleppo. Assad’s forces tightened their supervision over the region, controlling who and what goes in and out of the besieged city. Interestingly, the success of this move is attributed to international political developments as much as it is tied to the increasing use of air power against rebel forces. It was only last June when Assad warned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that “Aleppo will be the graveyard of his dreams on the Muslim Brotherhood.” Back then, Assad couldn’t even imagine how quickly his threat would become real. With the failed Turkish coup, Erdogan’s attention shifted away from Syria. Even the Kurdish separatists have lost their “honorary” place on Erdogan’s agenda, making room for rebellious military officials who have undermined the regime. In Europe, too, political circumstances have changed in favor of Assad. Within just a few weeks, numerous Islamist terror attacks have taken place across the continent, putting European security agencies on high alert. European politicians are too preoccupied with Brexit, on one hand, and with the security situation, on the other. Syria inherently became a second-priority issue. Finally, the United States has been almost completely removed from world affairs in the past few weeks due to the intensification of the presidential debate there. The major political conventions held by the two parties also contributed to the American neglect of what is happening in Syria. The result was nearly complete autonomy for Assad – for the first time in years – to act as he pleases, with only the Russians observing from the side. It is currently unclear what the fate of Aleppo will be. One thing, however, is sure: The world is too preoccupied to care. That is the best excuse to turn a blind eye to Syria. – Elias Harfoush
Iran did not learn the lesson
Al-Anba, Kuwait, July 31
Iran did not get the message and, once again, refused to learn the lessons of history. Instead, it insists to continue and do things the hard way, discounting any gesture of good will it is given. What I am specifically referring to is the recent visit made by His Highness, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad, to Tehran. Our leader chose to put political disputes aside and make the first visit of a sitting ruler of Kuwait to Iran since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. He came bearing tolerance and peace. He offered Iran warmer ties with the Gulf and enhanced cooperation with the Gulf Cooperation Council. Unfortunately, the Iranians didn’t reciprocate. Iranian state television mocked His Highness and ridiculed him. It discounted a distinguished man who spent most of his life in the fields of politics and diplomacy, portraying him as an inexperienced political actor. It accused him of stepping off his airplane intoxicated. It belittled his diplomatic gestures. Iran made a terrible mistake. It is playing with fire. It seems to be repeating the errors it has already made in the past, without caring about the future. It might be difficult to imagine, but the same soft and welcoming hand extended by the emir to the Iranians could quickly turn forceful and firm. Iran can fool us once, but we will not let it fool us again. – Madi al-Khamees
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