Eric Trager @EricTrager18spotted this priceless Egyptian presidential campaign poster:


That’s an optimistic view of the election process, I’d say ūüėČ

Sabahy is the only candidate facing military strongman Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Sabahy is a Nasserist, making him a most unlikely candidate for Egyptian reformers to back. Same thing happened in 2012, when the reformers failed to coalesce around a single leader, and some ended up backing Sabahy. This teaches¬†lessons on¬†relating to Egypt and the Mideast–they’re in¬†Broken Spring.

Egypt: Hundreds more sentenced to death

–An Egyptian court sentences 683 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death. The court commutes earlier death sentences of nearly 500 to life in prison.

–Egypt¬†outlaws¬†the April 6 movement, a youthful revolutionary group that helped lead the popular uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Of course this is scandalous from a Western perspective. It’s anti-democratic and draconian. Declaring¬†Egypt’s dominant Muslim Brotherhood a terror organization is a huge, inaccurate overreach. It’s the work of a government that rules with military outlook and practice–“my way or else.”

But before we vent our outrage and call for sanctions and punishment, let’s understand a couple of things. First, the death sentences are not likely to be carried out. Second, and more important–this is a direct result of more than two years of revolutionary turmoil that did not improve the lot of the average Egyptian at all. The people, by and large, have had enough revolution, and they long for the law and order of a military-style government, excesses and all. As you can read in¬†Broken Spring, democracy is a foreign object in Egypt. The people never had it, so they don’t miss it.

I’m not saying that what the Egyptian courts and government have just done is good or right. I’m suggesting that before we shake our finger and punish, we ought to ask ourselves if that’s the best way to relate to today’s Egypt. A longer-term program of aid, education and leading by example would be far better.


Excerpt from Broken Spring in The Canadian Jewish News

The current edition of The Canadian Jewish News runs a full chapter from Broken Spring about the demise of Cairo’s Jewish community. It’s one of several chapters about Jewish life, or lack of it, in Egypt — alongside several chapters with other Jewish¬†content. Broken Spring is not only about Arab Spring…

 Read the chapter below or click here for the full edition of The Canadian Jewish News:

Click to access 04-24-14-MTL.pdf


Egypt’s electricity crisis

Here’s a brief story in Egypt’s Al-Masry Al-Youm summarizing Egypt’s electricity shortages in three disconnected paragraphs.

There’s the price problem, which the Cabinet is said to be discussing, though there’s no mention of subsidies, the source of the problem. There’s the rolling blackout situation, the result of inadequate infrastructure. poor planning and poor maintenance. And there’s electricity “theft.” That’s a huge problem–millions live in illegal housing projects, built on farmland and hooked into the electricity grid without permission. That’s more than “theft.” Here’s a sample of the illegal housing in the fertile Nile delta, so common it’s called “informal.” The photo is from a chapter in my book about the issue.


Al-Azhar in the crosshairs

Here’s an interesting view of Al-Azhar, the Cairo complex of mosque, university and administration that’s the¬†acknowledged seat of Sunni Islam’s scholarship and rulings. When he was in power, President Mubarak attached Al-Azhar to the state by appointing a crony the head it. Now Al-Azhar is standing behind the Egyptian military and its government, angering its Islamist students. It’s another example of how Islam and Egypt are neither monolithic nor simple. ¬†Here’s the full story:


Al-Azhar in Cairo