by Hakim Khatib
What’s that again? Blasphemy law?
An Egyptian court sentenced the Islamic scholar and theologian Islam Al-Buhairi to one year in prison for blasphemy. Al-Buhairi was accused of insulting Islam in his TV show “With Islam Al-Buhairi” on “Al-Qahira wa Al-Nas” channel. Al-Buhairi questioned the “Islamic heritage”, which angered the Al-Azhar scholarship.
Confused to say luckily or sadly, this sentence against Al-Buhairi was softened from five years to one year. Al-Buhairi’s lawyer Jamil Saad told AFP: „Islam Al-Buhairi didn’t insult religions because the pillars of Islam are the Quran, Allah and the Day of Judgment and he didn’t come close to these circles at all.“
Engaged in a demonstration of Egyptian liberal intellectuals against the conviction of Al-Buhairi, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah Nasr said: “Blasphemy is a fascist law. It is a legacy of the Spanish inquisition courts.”
But what did Al-Buhairi really do?
by Hakim Khatib
Using religious frameworks in political contestation and mobilisation processes has become more eminent in recent decades spiralling an intricate debate on the conceptualisation and implementation of such references in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region The contradiction, it is argued, mainly lies in the compromising nature of politics and the relatively dogmatic nature of religion. Accentuated by inaccurate media coverage and primordial analytical frameworks, it has become tempting to see religion as responsible for conflicts and underachievement in the MENA region.
In the conventional sense, Islamic movements are often held responsible for incorporating religion in political processes. However, this is not always true as the nondemocratic states in the MENA region and elsewhere in the Muslim majority world had constantly attempted to control ideological power – Islamic religion and its organizations in this case – before Islamic movements even came to exist in the form we know today. The power struggle among political, yet conflicting actors over ideological power emerges from ideology’s distinctive form of social organization to legitimatize specific forms of authority and to solve contradictions in society.
by Hakim Khatib
The assassination of the man in charge of thousands of prosecutions including the controversial death sentences against Muslim Brotherhood followers paved the way for the incumbent Egyptian president for a one-time knockout against dissent once and for all.
Speaking at the military funeral of Hisham Barakat, the Prosecution General of Egypt killed in a car bomb on June 29, the President Abdulfattah Al-Sisi threatened to amend the laws to make them responsive to the implementation of justice. “Under such circumstances, courts are useless and so are laws,” said Al-Sisi promising to carry out any death or lifetime sentences against what he called “terrorists”.
by Hakim Khatib
Political rationality as a theory is important in its own right. Government leaders must calculate political costs such as the resources needed to generate support for a policy, the implications of a policy decision for re-election, and the possibility of provoking hostility for decisions not well received. Bounded rationality approach has yielded an enhanced understanding of how government organizations may produce unexpected or even unpredicted policy or program results. With public organizations not operating under full rationality conditions, administrators aspiring toward rationality may nonetheless find their goals undermined by a variety of forces, such as informational uncertainties and non-rational elements of organisational decision-making.
Organisational procedures and constraints may come to shape political attitude and decision making at the highest levels. The theory of rationality, as explained by Anthony Downs, claims that individuals in political and governmental arenas are guided by self-interest as they pursue choices with the highest levels of utility. Government officials and political parties, for instance, seek to maximize support from voters. In his article „A theory of the calculus of voting“ for the American Political Science Review, William Riker explained that the focus of political rationality should be on how individuals decide with information available
to them, from knowledge of their own preferences or through the consequences of alternatives themselves. Individuals are assumed to act „as if“ they decided according to principles such as utility maximization and the pursuit of self-interest.
by Hakim Khatib
The role of social groups in making historical events succeed takes shape according to two important factors: Their ability to change and the kind of their contribution to the development of that change in a way or another. The role of social groups especially emerges at times of revolutions and their subsequent changes on the political, socioeconomic and even intellectual levels. The most active and capable group to achieve change is the group of youth and students. In the revolutionary movements in Latin America, for instance, students prominently contributed to the fall down of long-lasting totalitarian dictatorships such in Chile, Brazil and Argentina. In the Arab uprisings in 2010-2011, students‘ roles varied from one country to another based on three axes of context, networks and contentious practices. This article expands on the role of Egyptian student movement in thriving for change despite the intensified restrictions by the state and how it continued its protest under repressive circumstances as a political actor.
by Carolin Goerzig
An Egyptian court has banned the Muslim Brotherhood and seized its funds in an attempt to dismantle the Islamist movement. Instead of seeking an all-inclusive dialogue, the Court has excluded a conflict actor from the political process. This decision may backfire for several reasons.
Sherief Gaber is a researcher in issues related to the right to the city and socially just cities and a member of the Mosireen Independent Media Collective in Cairo. Mosireen documented the protests during the ‚Egyptian revolution‘.
At a conference in Berlin you said the internet’s influence on the protests and revolution in Egypt was overrated. How would you describe its impact and why do you think others exaggerate it?
There’s a great many people out there who want to believe that the internet and social media tools caused the revolution, I think because it allows one to paint a picture that’s familiar, accessible and unthreatening to audiences without context or understanding of Egypt or similar social struggles elsewhere. I think that because people were writing about or posting updates regarding the ongoing events during the 18 days in 2011 using Facebook, twitter, and the like, it allowed journalists an easy way to project understanding of events, and sympathetic, largely middle class protagonists to be seen as the centre of those events.