25 May 2017
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  • » 05/08/2013, 00.00

    EGYPT

    Morsi appoints nine Islamists to key ministries



    The controversial decision is met with criticism, including from the president's Salafist allies. Justice, Economy and Finance ministries are among the departments reshuffled. For the first time, the Ministry of Antiquities will be run by an expert in Islamic culture, and by not an archaeologist. Journalist André Azzam talks about the first effects of the Islamisation of government. Ordinary Egyptians increasingly hate Morsi.

    Cairo (AsiaNews) - Justice, culture, economy and religion are key areas now under the direct or indirect control of the Muslim Brotherhood. Yesterday, President Mohamed Morsi presented the members of his new cabinet, giving nine ministries to figures affiliated with the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), including Finance, Investment, Justice and Culture. Hisham Kandil, a technocrat, remains prime minister. The new ministers were sworn in at the presidential palace.

    The cabinet shuffle has proven controversial though. Pro-democracy parties and secularist groups view the new cabinet as further proof of the Muslim Brotherhood consolidating its hold on power. Unexpectedly, several pro-government Salafist MPs also criticised the president's action, calling it a partisan cabinet with a technocratic veneer.

    In an interview with AsiaNews, Egyptian journalist André Azzam said that the president chose the new cabinet members for their loyalty, not their abilities. "He wants to change the country," he said, "but until now has only been able to boost hatred against himself among ordinary Egyptians."

    The Finance portfolio went to Fayyad Abdel-Moneim, a specialist in Islamic finance and a member of the Freedom and Justice Party. Yehia Hamed, the new Investment minister, is a prominent Brotherhood member. Ahmed Suleiman, who is close to the Islamist movement, gets the Justice Ministry, replacing Ahmed Mekky, who criticised the president's plan to reform the justice system, and retire 13,000 judges, including the presidents of the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court

    According to Azzam, the Muslim Brotherhood plans to take over culture as well, gradually. In fact, Morsi appointed Ahmed Eissa Ahmed, an expert on Islamic and Coptic culture, as minister of Antiquities. This goes against the long-established practice of appointing internationally recognised intellectuals and archaeological experts to the department.

    "The story that is being written is an old one," Azzam said. "Like in other places, the Muslim Brotherhood wants to places its members everywhere, especially in government, in order to rule even if they should lose political support."

    In recent months, Morsi's changes are having their first disruptive effects. The most striking example is the resignation of Mazhar Shaheen, the imam of Omar Makram Mosque on Tahrir Square.

    He was a leading figure in the Arab Spring of 2011 and was well liked by the Protestant community with whom he had close ties of friendship. However, he was forced out of office last month by an order of the Religious Affairs Ministry.

    Shaheen was removed against the wishes of Ahmed al-Tayeb, grand imam of Al-Azhar, who has always been critical of President Morsi and the Islamist establishment.

    In recent months, the grand imam and other members of al-Azhar University have also come under attack in the media over alleged food poisoning of 500 students at the Islamic institution. (S.C.)

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    See also

    01/05/2013 EGYPT
    Once a world class destination, Luxor is now a ghost town
    Visitors drop by 70 per cent because of political instability, leaving the city on life support. Once employed in the tourist sector, many residents have had to change job. For locals, the Islamist government is afraid of tourism and wants to see tourism die.

    22/06/2013 EGYPT
    Egypt, "Rebels" reach 15 million signatures to oust Mohamed Morsi
    The petition will be presented on June 30 to the Supreme Court. If accepted there will be early presidential elections. The Muslim Brotherhood fear the unexpected success of the initiative and organize demonstrations and a counter-petition in favor of the president. Danger of possible clashes.

    28/11/2012 EGYPT
    The new revolution of the Egyptian youth against the "neo-dictator" Mohamed Morsi
    Tens of thousands of people have been thronging the streets for days. The results of the first clashes with the police is already two dead and one seriously injured. The demonstrators: "A revolution to save the revolution." André Azzam, an Egyptian journalist, explains to AsiaNews the climate these days in the capital, which after a year is back in the hands of pro-democracy movements. More than 50% of the population is tired of Islamists accused of having brought the country to the brink of civil war. The eerie silence of the military leadership which has passed into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood. Islamists warn the democrats: "Do not play with fire."

    14/01/2013 EGYPT - ISLAM
    Al-Azhar’s double game to Islamize Egypt and maintain power
    In recent years the authorities of the most important Sunni university, supported the youth of the revolution and are now with the Muslim Brotherhood. For the great scholar of Islam Fr. Samir Khalil Samir, such behavior is typical of the University, which has always supported those who govern. The new constitution based on Sharia will not transform Egypt into an Islamic state, for now. It takes advantage of the ignorance of a population that only trusts imams, all formed by al-Azhar. The document is primarily a ideological move by Islamists to appear like "real Muslims" before the Islamic world. Sharia, Islam, religion reassure the population. The future game of the Muslim Brotherhood and of Islam itself will evolve in the coming months on specific topics: jobs, the economy and development.

    25/06/2012 EGYPT
    Hopes and fears of the international community concerning the new Egyptian president Morsi
    The Head of State has initiated consultations to form the government. Washington "will continue" the process of "transition". Israel asks that the peace agreements be respected. From Palestine, requests for support under the banner of their "blood ties". The congratulations of the Arab and Gulf countries; the silence of Saudi Arabia.



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    VATICAN
    Pope: together with the faithful in China on 24 May to celebrate Our Lady of Sheshan



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