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Egypte: Pourquoi les généraux ont fait pression sur le juge pour dissoudre le Parlement?

June 18, 2012 6 comments

Courtesy of Dr. Juan Cole

Did the Egyptian Generals make their Coup because of a Conspiracy Theory?

Posted on 06/17/2012 by Juan

The initial reaction of the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party to the high court decision dissolving parliament had been acquiescence. On Sunday, they got a bit more active, arguing that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) did not have the right to dissolve parliament despite the court ruling (i.e. that it wasn’t the body with legal standing to do so). They also argued that the dissolution must be put to a popular referendum, since it voided the vote of millions of Egyptians.

All of this raises the question of why the Mubarak-appointed judiciary backed by SCAF moved against the parliament, which was dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. I don’t believe that the SCAF coup was based on a rational calculation. Rather, I think the generals see the world as a conspiracy against them, and that the basis for their action was likely irrational.

Gen. Omar Suleiman addressed a letter to the Egyptian people Saturday, urging them to vote in the elections but implicitly criticizing the Muslim Brotherhood as arrogant and overbearing, and suggesting that you might hear them now talking about cooperating with everyone, but alleging that such talk is merely manipulative. Suleiman is a former head of military intelligence and was vice president in the last Mubarak government. He had wanted to run for president but was disqualified by the courts on the grounds that he hadn’t gathered enough petition signatures.

When I was in Cairo in May, a reporter told me that Suleiman gave a talk at the al-Ahram Center in which he alleged that the Muslim Brotherhood was preparing to develop a violent paramilitary capability. Generals such as he view the Brotherhood as not very different from al-Qaeda and as potentially violent, even though the organization gave up violence in the 1970s and has been disciplined about only using civil means to gain power ever since.

It also seems clear that the generals have a conspiracy theory that the United States is somehow behind the Jan. 25, 2011 revolt against Hosni Mubarak, and that Washington is secretly funding the leftist youth groups that spearheaded the big demonstrations then and since. That is why they keep harassing foreigners and journalists who seem too interested in Egyptian politics, and why they aired commercials recently discouraging Egyptians from speaking to foreigners.

Only a conspiracy theorist could simultaneously hold that the Muslim Brotherhood is a theocratic cabal with paramilitary aspirations and that the US is supporting it and other revolutionary forces.

Another alleged foreign player in Egypt is Qatar, which Egyptians see as a supporter and funder of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Mufti or chief Muslim legal adviser of Egypt, Ali Gomaa, on Sunday riposted to an attack on him by the Muslim televangelist at al-Jazeerah Arabic, Yousuf al-Qaradawi. Qaradawi had blasted Gomaa for saying he was neutral in the presidential contest. Qaradawi insisted that all clerics had to come out for Muhammad Mursi, the Brotherhood candidate. (Actually using the pulpit to promote a partisan candidate is illegal in Egypt). Gomaa implied that Qaradawi is after personal glory and thinks he is a real Muslim while others are ersatz.

The subtext here is that many Egyptians see Qaradawi as a Muslim Brotherhood icon supported by the Qatari government. One Egyptian told me that when Qaradawi showed up in Tahrir Square in Feb. 2011 during the attempt overthrow Hosni Mubarak, it reminded him of Vladimir Lenin showing up in Russia after the initial revolution. Of course, Lenin later overthrew the parliamentary regime that briefly emerged, making Russia a communist dictatorship in the October Revolution of 1917. My friend was wondering if Qaradawi hoped to play Lenin in subverting a democratic revolution and putting in power an ideological one-party state.

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Egypte: les résultats de l’élection présidentielle–Mohamed Mursi vs. Ahmed Shafiq

May 25, 2012 2 comments

The MB candidate in the pole position to win the run-off

From all the news sources that i consulted today, the results of the first round of the Egyptian presidential elections won’t be released until Monday. The race, as the electoral commission has stated in its last press release, is too close to call.

However, early indicators derived from television network exit poll data show that Mohamed Mursi, the MB candidate, is in the lead. When Mursi entered the race, quite late, the Egyptian newspapers and television mucked him and dubbed him the Muslim Brotherhood’s “uncharismatic” candidate. Some other newspaper called him the “spare tire” candidate because the MB’s first choice candidate was disqualified by the electoral commission.

Ahmed Shafiq vs. Mohamed Mursi

However, the 60-year-old engineer conducted a very energetic campaign despite his soft-spoken voice and stands on most controversial issues. Mursi, according to the partial projections, came first in this opening round. These partial projections are also backed up by the MB tally, which showed off a remarkable and unequaled level of organization during this campaign.

Ahmed Shafiq, a former Hosni Mubarak’s prime minister, came in second position, which sets the run-off round to be of high quality between two well-qualified candidates. Moreover, the run-off (scheduled to be held on June 16 and 17) gives Egyptians a stark choice between a military man representing the past in many ways (Ahmed Shafiq was Mubarak’s last prime minister) and an Islamist whose conservative message appeals to some and frightens others (and not only in Egypt).

According to Muslim Brotherhood sources with votes counted from about 12,800 of the roughly 13,100 polling precincts, Mursi has garnered 25%, Shafiq 23%, a rival Islamist Abdel-Moneim Aboul Fotouh 20%, and the leftist Hamdeen Sabahy 19%.

These early projections if confirmed give a strong electoral base and reservoir of voters to Mursi. There is no doubt that most of the About Fotouh’s voters will easily vote for Mursi in the run-off. However, Safiq will probably play the nationalist card and will call upon Egyptian’s high and keen sense of “the nation”. Safiq has already started casting and framing Mursi as a dangerous candidate for Egypt who will probably isolate the country with his stances and policies and will hurt Egypt with his amateurism and inexperience.  But i doubt that this electoral strategy will work. Egyptians clearly want change, and want a clean break from the past. That’s what they have been expressing for the last year or so.

Having said that, Mursi, in the recent weeks, has given plenty of material to Shafiq to work with and use it to attack him as a novice politician. Mursi has called for a review of Cairo’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel, saying Egypt’s neighbor has not respected the agreement–a stance that mirrors the position of most of the other candidates in the race. Talking before a large crowd this Sunday, Muris declared “We will take a serious step towards a better future, God willing…If they [meaning the military and the pro-Mubarak regime crowd] take a step to take us backwards, to forge the will of the people and fiddle with security, we know who they are…we will throw them in the rubbish bin of history.”

Mursi is also one of the rare candidate who has an actual campaign program, which he promoted throughout Egypt these last two months. It is called “The Renaissance Project”, an 80-page manifesto based on what Mursi calls a  “centrist understanding” of Islam.”The Renaissance Project” outlines Mursi’s and the MB’s vision on everything from fighting inflation to unemployment to forging ties with the U.S. on a more equal footing. It also envisions deeper diplomatic and economic ties with Turkey. In Mursi’s vision and speeches, an Egyptian-Turkish alliance is a goal that must be achieved. It is also the only alliance that would create a counter-power, and a strong check on the behavior of Israel, the U.S. and Iran in the region.

Calling the “The Renaissance Project” a centrist understanding of Islam is a clever way for Mursi to distance himself and his political stances from the extremist Salafists ones. In sum, this manifesto has been quite successful. Mursi turned out to be an excellent campaigner despite a very shaky start, a very shaky debate performance, and a very stern and austere speech delivery.  However, the non-Islamists, not least Christians who make up about a 10% of the population, are still unconvinced by his promises that freedoms, civil liberties, as well as religious freedoms will be safe under his leadership.

“It was for the sake of the Islamic sharia that men were … thrown into prison. Their blood and existence rests on our shoulders now…we will work together to realize their dream of implementing sharia.” Campaign speeches like this one do very little to alleviate the fears and concerns of the non-Islamists and non-Muslim minority in Egypt. He has clearly some work to do and he cannot force his agenda through once he is elected.

And now, i leave you to read a very good analysis of our friend Juan Cole. As always Juan hits the nail on the head.

Egypt’s Presidential Election: Between Revolution and Counter-Revolution

Posted on 05/25/2012 by Juan

The results of the Egyptian presidential election, held on Wednesday and Thursday, won’t be announced until Monday, say official sources in the government. In contrast, the High Electoral Commission is indicating that it will announce the results as soon as they are definitively known. Egypt is on a precipice between a relatively smooth transition and a lot of social turmoil, depending on who the front runners are.

But news is coming in as the ballots are being counted, and as I write on Friday, the race is too close to call. For profiles of the candidates, see my report earlier this week

Egyptian Voters at Polling Station (Muqattam), May 24, 2012

Abdel Moneim Abou’l-Futouh, the “Muslim liberal” candidate who had broken with the Muslim Brotherhood, can be counted out. He has conceded, and has thrown his support to the Muslim Brotherhood leader, Muhammad Mursi. He had been favored to win the election only two or three weeks ago, but his attempt to make everyone from liberals to hard line Salafi fundamentalists happy badly damaged him, since it raised the question as to what his real agenda was. I suspect that the support he garnered from some Salafi leaders, who urged their followers to vote for him instead of for Mursi, also scared away a lot of the leftists and liberals who had considered voting for him.

Abou’l-Futouh also had the effect of splitting the Muslim fundamentalist vote, depriving Mursi of a clear victory and damaging the Brotherhood’s image as a party machine juggernaut.

Early returns also suggest that another possible front-runner, Amr Moussa (former foreign minister and former head of the Arab League), has also faded and looks unlikely to be in the run-off. His constituency deserted him in favor of Ahmad Shafiq.

As I write it is mid-afternoon on Friday, and there is a reported surge for the leftist candidate, Hamdeen Sabahi. He is now said to be in second place, ahead of former Aviation Minister and Air Force General Ahmad Shafiq. Sabahi won big in Alexandria, which had been trending fundamentalist, but which is a modern Mediterranean port city with a big, organized working class, who appear to have swung to him (perhaps along with a lot of government workers and the secular middle class, along with committed revolutionaries). Al-Nil television’s correspondent is reporting as I speak that Sabahi also took Port Said, a smaller port city.

If Sabahi can maintain his narrow lead over Ahmad Shafiq, the resulting run-off will give Egyptians a choice between a leftist secularist and a Muslim fundamentalist, both of them from the opposition to Mubarak.

If Shafiq can pull back ahead of Sabahi, the resulting election would be a huge catastrophe for Egypt.

If Egyptians have to decide between Mursi and Shafiq, they’ll have a stark choice. They could give the Muslim Brotherhood two of the major branches of civilian government and risk a swift move to Islamic law and one-party dominance. They could split the ticket and support the secular Shafiq, who is very much a creature of the old regime and of the Egyptian military. In some ways he would resurrect Mubarak’s policies but will face new limitations in presidential rule by fiat. He speaks warmly of Mubarak, and would be a highly polarizing figure who would certainly provoke a whole new round of big demonstrations on the part of the New Left youth and perhaps also Muslim fundamentalists. He has ominously promised to crack down hard on “destructive demonstrations.” Although the Western politicians and business classes might favor Shafiq for surface reasons, in fact they’d be buying a whole lot of trouble if they backed him.

A Mursi-Shafiq contest would certainly result in riots and fistfights all over the country, and if Shafiq won it would likely throw the country into substantial instability (an ironic outcome since the people voting for Shafiq in the big cities and the countryside are looking for a law and order candidate who can fight a slight rise in crime). It seems to me that the resulting demonstrations and unrest would risk further damaging Egypt’s economy.

A Mursi-Sabahi contest, in contrast, will be much smoother, though still contentious. Sabahi is probably acceptable to most of the New Left revolutionaries, though they were ambivalent about him because of his Nasserist commitments (raising questions about his dedication to parliamentary democracy). Still, he was a steadfast foe of Mubarak, and was involved in the key Kifaya! (enough) movement of 2004 and after, which laid the foundations for the revolution. As a critic of imperialism and of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, he might have some support from some of the Muslim fundamentalists who focus on that issue. And his insistence on social justice obviously has wide appeal across ideological groups.

Egyptian voters in a Mursi-Sabahi match-up would have a real choice between a pluralistic system and a return to virtually one-party rule. They’d have a choice between Muslim Brotherhood emphasis on private property/Turkish-style Neoliberalism and a more socialist policy (a la Hollande in France, perhaps). And in any case, both candidates would have a claim on opposition to the old Mubarak regime, and so an extreme polarization and “a further revolution”, as promised by the New Left, could be avoided.

The final results will therefore be highly consequential for Egypt, and for US and Israeli foreign policy. Those rushing to declare the two run-off winners today, though, are probably jumping the gun, given the very small spread among the front-runners after Mursi.

Egypte: Le comportement électoral et l’idéologie

May 23, 2012 1 comment

A great post by our friend Juan Cole, and as always he nailed it.

Courtesy of Juan Cole

Are Egyptians voting Ideologically?

Posted on 05/23/2012 by Juan

Interpreting political behavior in a brand spanking new democracy such as Egypt is trying to become is littered with pitfalls, and these are multiplied when dealing with the Middle East.

The Muslim world, and especially the Arab world, has been depicted by some Western historians and social scientists as exceptionally impervious to democratic ideals and practices. Much of this Muslim or Arab exceptionalism derives from twentieth-century attempts to justify Western imperialism (rule over the Muslims for their own good by Europeans). Some of it is also rooted in apologetics for the Israel project, which is opposed by most Arabs and Muslims; if there is something wrong with the latter, then their complaints about the displacement and denationalization of the Palestinians can be dismissed. (Ironically, Israel under the Revisionist Likud Party is becoming less and less democratic itself, and many of the fundamentalist Jewish Haredim, now 8% of the population and growing, are no more democratic than the Saudi Wahhabis; so many of the arguments about “Islam” and Muslims and exceptionalism that had been made in the past increasingly could be applied to Israel itself).

The exceptionalism argument is ahistorical and peculiarly lacking in a comparative perspective. There is a major argument in modern German history about whether Germany was peculiar in lacking a national business class and in clinging to authoritarianism, save for the brief Weimar period, until the end of WW II. But then what of Spain? Italy? Austria? Hungary? (We are still not sure about Hungary, and Berlusconi’s Italy rather fell in the rankings). Which European countries were there, exactly, that did not have democracy imposed on them from the outside?

Then there are the other exceptionalisms. Most people who speak Chinese still live under relatively authoritarian governments, with Taiwan the major example of a Sinophone people’s transition toward parliamentary rule with regular contested elections. But just as being Muslim cannot possibly be related to people’s receptivity to democracy, neither can speaking Chinese.

There is something else going on. Most likely it has to do with the way the peasants of Egypt and Algeria made the transition to urban modernity, and likewise the Chinese. Some of the lack of democracy even derives from Western intervention against it (colonial regimes were poor teachers of democratic habits, and parliamentary regimes were overthrown by the West via coups from time to time, rather setting things back).

As for why Egyptians vote as they do, like any electorate they are complicated and even individual voters could go either way often. Egyptians did not give a majority to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis because a majority of them is pious (and 24% of Egyptians are definitely not hard line fundamentalists of the Salafi sort!) My interviewing suggests that in the parliamentary elections they wanted parties that a) were not connected to the corrupt and hated Hosni Mubarak and b) would be honest and transparent and avoid stealing from them or dunning them constantly for bribes. The Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis fit those bills. In contrast, a lot of the left had its roots in Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser’s progressive thought, and they were initially tainted with the brush of the longstanding military regime (Nasser was a leader of the Young Officers who made the 1952 coup, to which the current military junta is the heir).

But the Muslim Brotherhood made several major errors. They promised not to put up a candidate for president, to reassure people they weren’t trying to recreate Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, i.e. a one-party state. But then they reneged and put up Khairat al-Shater, a businessman with corruption convictions. They also tried to stack the committee charged with writing the constitution with their own members, causing even other Muslim forces to withdraw in disgust. And, they haven’t been good about reestablishing security, providing services, or bringing back the tourist trade.

As for the Salafis, they unwisely began talking about banning beer, and if there is one thing the Egyptian electorate is sure about it is that they like beer.

Ironically, you meet lots of Egyptian men with beards and prayer beads who are leftists, and clean-shaven, dapper men who are supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. You suspect that they could fairly easily change their minds.

You have to think about what people are voting against, not just what they seem to be voting for. Last fall they were voting against the fulul, the remnants of Mubarak’s corrupt regime. This May, some large number of Egyptians are telling pollsters that they will be voting against a Muslim Brotherhood one-party state. They will be voting against Salafi puritanism. It is not that the Muslim fundamentalist candidate cannot win, but he now has high negatives to overcome.

Egyptian politics in this miraculous year is all about the rebound, not about the straight throw.

Union Européenne: La crise de la démocratie européenne

May 23, 2012 1 comment

This is an Op-Ed written by Dr. Amartya Sen for the NYTimes.  Dr. Sen is  Thomas W. Lamont University Professor, and Professor of Economics and Philosophy, at Harvard University and was until 2004 the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. He is also Senior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows. Earlier on, he was Professor of Economics at Jadavpur University Calcutta, the Delhi School of Economics, and the London School of Economics, and Drummond Professor of Political Economy at Oxford University. To top this already impressive resume, Dr. Sen Nobel was awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize in economic sciences for his work on welfare economics and social choice theory. Briefly stated, Dr. Sen is an authority in the field.

The Crisis of European Democracy

By AMARTYA SEN

May 22, 2012Cambridge, Mass.

IF proof were needed of the maxim that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the economic crisis in Europe provides it. The worthy but narrow intentions of the European Union’s policy makers have been inadequate for a sound European economy and have produced instead a world of misery, chaos and confusion.

There are two reasons for this.

First, intentions can be respectable without being clearheaded, and the foundations of the current austerity policy, combined with the rigidities of Europe’s monetary union (in the absence of fiscal union), have hardly been a model of cogency and sagacity. Second, an intention that is fine on its own can conflict with a more urgent priority — in this case, the preservation of a democratic Europe that is concerned about societal well-being. These are values for which Europe has fought, over many decades.

Certainly, some European countries have long needed better economic accountability and more responsible economic management. However, timing is crucial; reform on a well-thought-out timetable must be distinguished from reform done in extreme haste. Greece, for all of its accountability problems, was not in an economic crisis before the global recession in 2008. (In fact, its economy grew by 4.6 percent in 2006 and 3 percent in 2007 before beginning its continuing shrinkage.)

The cause of reform, no matter how urgent, is not well served by the unilateral imposition of sudden and savage cuts in public services. Such indiscriminate cutting slashes demand — a counterproductive strategy, given huge unemployment and idle productive enterprises that have been decimated by the lack of market demand. In Greece, one of the countries left behind by productivity increases elsewhere, economic stimulation through monetary policy (currency devaluation) has been precluded by the existence of the European monetary union, while the fiscal package demanded by the Continent’s leaders is severely anti-growth. Economic output in the euro zone continued to decline in the fourth quarter of last year, and the outlook has been so grim that a recent report finding zero growth in the first quarter of this year was widely greeted as good news.

There is, in fact, plenty of historical evidence that the most effective way to cut deficits is to combine deficit reduction with rapid economic growth, which generates more revenue. The huge deficits after World War II largely disappeared with fast economic growth, and something similar happened during Bill Clinton’s presidency. The much praised reduction of the Swedish budget deficit from 1994 to 1998 occurred alongside fairly rapid growth. In contrast, European countries today are being asked to cut their deficits while remaining trapped in zero or negative economic growth.

There are surely lessons here from John Maynard Keynes, who understood that the state and the market are interdependent. But Keynes had little to say about social justice, including the political commitments with which Europe emerged after World War II. These led to the birth of the modern welfare state and national health services — not to support a market economy but to protect human well-being.

Though these social issues did not engage Keynes deeply, there is an old tradition in economics of combining efficient markets with the provision of public services that the market may not be able to deliver. As Adam Smith (often seen simplistically as the first guru of free-market economics) wrote in “The Wealth of Nations,” there are “two distinct objects” of an economy: “first, to provide a plentiful revenue or subsistence for the people, or, more properly, to enable them to provide such a revenue or subsistence for themselves; and secondly, to supply the state or commonwealth with a revenue sufficient for the public services.”

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of Europe’s current malaise is the replacement of democratic commitments by financial dictates — from leaders of the European Union and the European Central Bank, and indirectly from credit-rating agencies, whose judgments have been notoriously unsound.

Participatory public discussion — the “government by discussion” expounded by democratic theorists like John Stuart Mill and Walter Bagehot — could have identified appropriate reforms over a reasonable span of time, without threatening the foundations of Europe’s system of social justice. In contrast, drastic cuts in public services with very little general discussion of their necessity, efficacy or balance have been revolting to a large section of the European population and have played into the hands of extremists on both ends of the political spectrum.

Europe cannot revive itself without addressing two areas of political legitimacy. First, Europe cannot hand itself over to the unilateral views — or good intentions — of experts without public reasoning and informed consent of its citizens. Given the transparent disdain for the public, it is no surprise that in election after election the public has shown its dissatisfaction by voting out incumbents.

Second, both democracy and the chance of creating good policy are undermined when ineffective and blatantly unjust policies are dictated by leaders. The obvious failure of the austerity mandates imposed so far has undermined not only public participation — a value in itself — but also the possibility of arriving at a sensible, and sensibly timed, solution.

This is a surely a far cry from the “united democratic Europe” that the pioneers of European unity sought.

Algerie: La victoire totale de la doctrine islamiste en Algérie

May 14, 2012 20 comments

The total victory of the Islamist doctrine in Algeria

In light of the results of the last legislative elections (if those results are to be believed of course), how can I say that the Islamists and Islamism have won in Algeria? After all, the Islamist coalition and Islamist-leaning lists came in third and fourth position. Am I delusional? And the answer is no; I am far from any delusion or craziness. What do I mean by this total victory of Islamism then? I mean that the Islamist thinking and doctrine have permeated and dominated all the circles of power, the official and unofficial opposition, and the society in Algeria. At every level of the Algerian society, the Islamist doctrine has prevailed with the support and the complicity of all state apparatuses.

Since the end of the civil war (or the military defeat of the most virulent terrorist groups), we have seen a resurgence of the Islamist doctrine in almost every city, every village, and at every level with the complicity and the tacit support of the Algerian state. We have seen women beaten and lynched by mobs of fanatics because they allegedly engaged in prostitution. We have seen homosexuals murdered in the most atrocious manners and their murderers were never brought up to justice. We have seen kids of primary school age kicked out of schools and sent back home because they did not know how to pray properly. We have seen women attacked in the middle of the day before everyone and in the presence of the police (or gendarmerie) because they were not wearing al-hijab. We have seen prosecutors bring charges against men or women who allegedly broke the fast during the month of Ramadan. We have seen judges sentencing men or women to prison time for breaking the fast. We have seen judges forcing rape victims to marry their rapists. We have seen legislators pushing laws banning and criminalizing religious conversions. We have seen mobs burning to the ground restaurants and brasseries. We have seen male doctors beaten to death in the emergency rooms just because they did their job. We have seen pregnant women dying during labor because the husband(s) refused the medical assistance of male doctors. We have seen first and second year male medical students banning their colleague female medical students from lecture halls during lectures on the anatomy of the reproductive systems. We have seen judges dismissing domestic abuse  and domestic violence charges and cases under the pretext that it is legal in the Islamic jurisprudence that husbands may discipline their spouses.  We have seen religious marriages of underage girls. We have seen virginity certificates become the most lucrative activity for obstetricians and gynaecologists.  We have seen legally issued marriage certificates nullify by judges because the brides failed to provide virginity certificates. And so on and so forth.

I could be accused of cheery picking data or using anecdotal examples, but I am compelled to do so not by malevolence, but because of the paucity and the scarcity of hard data in Algeria.  However, what is important is not the prevalence or the reliability or even the validity of these examples–which they are–but how all these crimes and this mob justice were conducted with the blessing of the legal system, and the tacit agreement and participation of law enforcement officials. When a friend of mine told me that his 9-year-old kid was kicked out of school and sent back home after he was berated by his teacher before his classmates because he didn’t how to pray properly, my first question was: was the teacher fired or disciplined by the school superintendent?  Not only was this teacher not fired, but he benefited also from the support of his superintendent and of the city school board (in French it is known as: l’inspecteur de l’academie).

What we see here is that the Islamist doctrine has prevailed in the society, and has been supported by all state apparatuses. State officials and regulators, national legislators, city officials, courts, police and gendarmerie all have either tacitly supported these crimes or actively and legally backed them.  Islamism in Algeria has become so powerfully rooted at every level that the president or the prime minister (as well as all cabinet members) engage in a 5 minute (and sometimes 10 minutes in the case of Belkhademe) prayer before every speech. It is no longer enough to just say “Salamou Alikoum” and then get started.  Our state officials willingly engage in these long religious openings that we are left wondering whether the speech is of a political or a religious nature.

In sum, the Islamist doctrine dominates the power structures and the state, dominates the legal and lawful opposition, dominates the illegal and unlawful opposition, and dominates all the layers of our civil society and societal life. The difference between these different circles of domination is the level and magnitude of radicalization.  We have the so-called moderate Islamists in the state and the opposition (moderates as in not engaged in armed struggle anymore), radical Islamists in the unlawful opposition, and then the radical proselytizers in the civil society and the society as a whole. I believe that this phenomenon is unique to the Algerian case.  Even in Saudi Arabia—a fully-fledged Islamist state—we do not see this level of penetration of Islamism at every level of the country.

This is very worrisome on so many levels…

How did we get here you may ask? Well, this is a long conversation, but you might find the first sketches of a possible answer or cause in my precious posts here and here and here

Algerie: Les élections législatives, quelle blague!

May 10, 2012 7 comments

What do you want me to tell you about the legislative elections. You know already my opinion about this sad masquerade ball. Nothing will come out of these elections. Nothing. Maybe if the turnout rate is very low, these elections would solidify the fact that the Algerian people has rejected this power and continues to reject it. Any other political analysis is just an asinine attempt at putting some lipstick on a pig.

But we need to laugh and these elections have been a constant source of laughter for me. From the ridiculous stumps speeches, to the unbelievable number of electoral lists  to the hilarious political ads, this campaign was a vaudeville slapstick comedy. The Three Stooges wrapped in a Buster Keaton comedy and the whole thing is directed by the sinister and satirical eye of Tim Burton. If you don’t believe me, watch this video. The president, Bouteflika, shows up to vote with a little kid wearing a suit and a tie–already this is creepy. The mummified president, moving at the glacier speed, spends more than 3 minutes gathering all the electoral lists. This goes on and on until he felt the need to stop for a breather. I mean, this is ridiculous. I counted at least 35 electoral lists in that district and i am told that in the Wilaya of Msila, there are 48 lists. Come on folks, after reading this and watching this hilarious piece of comedy, do you really need an analysis? Just sit, watch, and laugh. Nothing will change, everything will worsen, and the nightmare will continue. FYI, i am not a pessimist at all. I am just a realist.

“The Mummy,” A slapstick comedy featuring the president Bouteflika

By the way, If you don’t laugh watching this, you need to go find your sense of humor because you have lost it.

France: Live–Presidentielles–François HOLLANDE ELU PRESIDENT

May 6, 2012 29 comments

FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE


FRANCOIS HOLLANDE EST ELU PRESIDENT

 

Ambiance à Tulle à l’annonce des résultats

Rue Solférino: LA LIESSE

More detailed results: Paris

  • François Hollande l’emporte dans le 2e (57,6%), le 3e (61,35%), le 4e (54,96%), le 5e (56,22%), le 9e (54,19%), le 10e (69,39%), le 11e (67,76%), le 13e (65,27%), le 14e (60,26%), le 18e (70,31%), le 19e (67,64%) et le 20e arrondissement (71,83%).
  • Nicolas Sarkozy arrive en tête dans le 1er (52,17%), le 6e (57,66%), le 7e (71,76%), le 8e (72,47%), le 15e (54,50%), le 16e (78,01%) et le 17e arrondissement (58,22%).

More detailed results:

  • A Sablé (Sarthe), la ville de François Fillon, Nicolas Sarkozy recueille 52,89% des voix, contre 57,16% en 2007.
  • A Saint-Quentin (Aisne), ville dont Xavier Bertrand est maire, François Hollande (54,18%) devance largement Nicolas Sarkozy (45,82%).
  • A Troyes (Aube), où François Baroin est maire, Nicolas Sarkozy (50,39%) compte seulement 171 voix d’avance sur François Hollande.
  • A Nancy (Meurthe-et-Moselle), fief de Nadine Morano, où Nicolas Sarkozy était arrivé en tête il y a cinq ans, François Hollande (55%) compte dix points d’avance sur le président sortant.
  •  Au Puy-en-Velay (Haute-Loire), ville dont Laurent Wauquiez est maire, François Hollande (55,89%) arrive très nettement devant Nicolas Sarkozy.
  • A Chaumont (Haute-Marne), ville de Luc Chatel, François Hollande arrive également en tête avec 51,85% des voix.

UPDATE 26: (RTS) Comme l’annonçaient tous les sondages, François Hollande deviendra bien le nouveau président de la République française à l’issue du deuxième tour du scrutin présidentiel ce dimanche. Il a remporté, selon les premières estimations (pas encore définitives), entre 52,5% et 53,3% des voix contre 46,7% à 47,5% pour son adversaire, Nicolas Sarkozy, le président sortant qui devrait donc quitter donc l’Elysée le 15 mai prochain.

UPDATE 25: EXPLOSION DE JOIE RUE SOLFERINO

UPDATE 24: 19H09– AGENCE FRANCE PRESS  (AFP): FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE ÉLU PRESIDENT DE LA REPUBLIQUE


UPDATE 23: (LE MATIN) NOUVEAUX CHIFFRES CONFIRMANT, VOIRE AFFINANT LA VICTOIRE DE LA GAUCHE: ENTRE 52,7 ET 53,3% DES VOIX POUR VOIX POUR FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE, SELON LH2 (LOUIS HARRIS), 53,3% POUR INTERACTIVE, 52% SELON CSA.

UPDATE 22: 19:01 (RTBF) LE JOURNALISTE DE LA RTBF DECLARE, “C’EST PLIE, FRANCOIS HOLLANDE LE PROCHAIN PRESIDENT DE LA FRANCE”

UPDATE 21: 18h55 (RTBF) : FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE AURAIT GAGNÉ LES ÉLECTIONS PRÉSIDENTIELLES. La fourchette reste a déterminer quand même


UPDATE 20: 18h51: La foule crie victoire rue de Solférino, le siège de PS, alors que l’ambiance est plus tendue à la Mutualité, où Nicolas Sarkozy doit s’exprimer.

UPDATE 19: 18H49: RTBF CALLED THE ELECTION FOR FRANCOIS HOLLANDE. THE ONLY THING THAT STILL TO BE DETERMINED IS THE EXTENT OF THE VICTORY.

UPDATE 18: 18H47: Pierre Moscovici, directeur de campagne de François Hollande: «On ressent de l’émotion, on attend».

UPDATE 17: 18h37: Selon le journal Suisse, Le Matin, “La victoire de François Hollande se confirme”

UPDATE 16: 18h01: selon l’entourage de François Hollande, le socialiste s’envolera de Brives à destination de Paris à bord d’un avion privé aux alentours de 22h, quel que soit le résultat.

UPDATE 15: 18h00: des proches de Nicolas Sarkozy arrivent à l’Elysée: sa porte-parole Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet et son conseiller spécial Henri Guaino.

UPDATE 14: 18h00–LES TENDANCES DES 3 INSTITUTS DONNENT TOUJOURS FRANCOIS HOLLANDE EN TETE AVEC 52% ET 53%.

UPDATE 13: 17h00 (selon RTS et RTFB)  SONDAGES DES SORTIES DES BUREAUX DE VOTE SELONG LES 3 GRANDS INSTITUTS DE SONDAGE.

HARRIS: FRANCOIS HOLLANDE 53%, NICOLAS SARKOZY 47%

IFOP: FRANCOIS HOLLANDE 52.5%, NICOLAS SARKOZY 47.5%

SOFRES: FRANCOIS HOLLANDE 53%, NICOLAS SARKOZY 47%

UPDATE 12: Selon le Ministere de l’Interieur, le taux de participation a 17h00 etait de 71.96%

A bit of humor to relax the tension of this electoral night

En directe de la frontiere Franco-Suisse 🙂

UPDATE 11: On commence à s’affairer devant le siège du Parti socialiste, rue de Solférino à Paris. 

 

UPDATE 10: 16h52 (Tweets des correspondants de la RTS) Des militants commencent à arriver à la Bastille, où François Hollande avait prévu de faire la fête en cas de victoire. Des écrans géants commencent à être installés

UPDATE 9: (source: Le Monde, RTBF, RTS) François Hollande, s’il est élu président, devrait avoir dans la soirée un échange avec la chancelière allemande Angela Merkel, a indiqué un de ses plus proches ami, Jean-Marc Ayrault, le maire de Nantes (ouest).

UPDATE 8: a 16h30 (source RTS) On commence à s’affairer devant le siège du Parti socialiste, rue de Solférino à Paris, comme le montre ce cliché de France Télévisions:

UPDATE 7: a 16h10 (source RTS) Nicolas Sarkozy se trouve à son bureau de l’Elysée, où il doit attendre les résultats du scrutin en compagnie de ses conseillers.

UPDATE 6: RESULTATS DES AMERIQUES (SOURCES: RTBF, RTSINFO)

Voici un premier apercu des résultats partiels des Amériques. La participation a augmentè en moyenne de 3 a 4% par rapport au 1er tour. En règle générale, François Hollande fait le plein des voix de gauche et gagne environ le tiers des voix de François Bayrou.

FRANCOIS HOLLANDE gagne à Montreal (près de 57,74%), à Toronto (51% – la gauche n’y avait jamais triomphe), au Pérou (55%), en Argentine (51,7%), en Colombie (58,82%) et au Honduras (56%). Il comble l’ecart avec la droite au Mexique (47,3%), au Bresil (47% – ou il gagne à Rio, Brasilia et Recife), au Costa Rica (44,1%) et au Chili (44%).

UPDATE 5: (SOURCES: RTBF, RTSINFO) Selon les premières tendances et les sondages de sortie des urnes de 3 grand instituts de sondages, François Hollande serait en tête

UPDATE 4: (SOURCES: RTBF, RTSINFO) RESULTATS DES DEPARTEMENTS D’OUTRE-MER

Nous avons les premiers résultats pour le second tour de la présidentielle française en provenance des départements d’Outre-mer.

Saint-Pierre et Miquelon: François Hollande 65%,  Nicolas Sarkozy 35% ;

Martinique: Francois Hollande 68,5%, pour Nicolas Sarkozy 35.1%

Guadeloupe: François Hollande 72%

Guyane: Francois Hollande 62%

Saint-Martin:  François Hollande avec 51,5 %, tandis que Nicolas Sarkozy ne serait en tête que dans la petite île de Saint-Barthélémy, avec près de 83% des voix exprimées.

UPDATE 3: INFORMATION RTBF–Trois grands instituts de sondages annoncent donc le candidat socialiste François Hollande en tête avec entre 52,5 et 53% des voix. Cela dit ces résutats ne portent que sur les votes du matin (jusqu’à 11h) et il faut encore tenir de la traditionnelle marge d’erreur. Ces résultats sont donc encore à prendre avec précautions à ce stade.

UPDATE 2: RTSINFO– Selon des sondages effectués à la sortie d’une série de bureaux de vote, deux instituts donnent actuellement François Hollande vainqueur de l’élection présidentielle française avec une majorité de 52,5 à 53% des voix.

UPDATE 1: Le taux de participation était, dimanche à midi, de 30,66% en métropole, selon le ministère de l’Intérieur. Ce taux est en baisse par rapport à celui enregistré à la même heure en 2007 (34,11%, marqué il est vrai par une forte mobilisation). Au premier tour le 22 avril dernier, ce taux avait atteint les 28,29% à midi.

We welcome our readers from all over the world. I see that you are already hit the “refresh button” hard and i think there will be thousands of you from France, Europe, and Africa. I promise you that we will be starting our live coverage of the first estimations and exit polls now. Buckle up, this is going to be a “close” right. Let’s Go!