Connect with us

Uncategorized

Sunday Open Thread – 3/21/2010 – A Busy News Cycle in Cairo

Published

Lots of news and intrigue coming out of Egypt the past few days.

Early this week, reports surfaced of protests and walkouts at the Egyptian headquarters of Islamonline.net. The Qatari board in charge of the popular website, known for its “Fatwa Bank” and in-depth news coverage, recently instituted a more “conservative” agenda occasioned by new management. Tensions brewed from the outset between Egyptian editors and Qatari managers, but came to a head this past Monday as the staffers based in 6th of October (a suburb just outside Cairo) were denied access to the site’s servers. Rumors soon spread that all employees would be released as part of a wholesale restructuring.

As is the case with most breaking news these days, you can credit Twitter with the “scoop.” The daily newspapers and journalistic blogs in Egypt thereafter quickly picked up the story (some of the more popular articles can be found here, here and here). Yet, even after these articles were published and a high-ranking IOL editor wrote an Op-Ed for the Guardian, it’s still hard to get a full grasp of the situation. In part, information remains obscured since, to my knowledge, neither the IOL staff nor the Qatari board have issued an official statement. Somewhat sensationalist proclamations of hegemonic ascendency and existential battles between the forces of “moderation” and “extremism” further compound the uncertainty. Meanwhile, the sit-ins at IOL’s Egyptian office continue with no resolution in sight and fear that Islamonline.net may be in its final days.

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

The events at IOL somewhat overshadowed the announcement of Al-Azhar’s new sheikh, Ahmed Tayeb. Sheikh Tayeb brings a cosmopolitan flair to his role, preferring suits over the traditional Azhari garb and boasting a PhD from the Sorbonne along with fluency in both French and English. Though, like his predecessor, Sheikh Tantawi, he also packs some controversial baggage. Notably, Sheikh Tayeb is a member of the ruling NDP party and has issued some strong condemnations of the Muslim Brotherhood. His views and affiliations once again raised the question of Al-Azhar’s independence – and heightened the natural Egyptian inclination toward wass wassa.

That Sheikh Tayeb was appointed by Hosni Mubarak in itself was newsworthy, given the widespread rumors of the President’s death. Mubarak had been recovering in Germany after gallbladder surgery when questions about his health sprang up on, you guessed it, Twitter. Some comments were assertive, others stemmed from wishful thinking, but all in the end were proven false. The Egyptian embassy even went so far as to officially deny the reports.

All these stories reminded me of the sixth ayah in surat al-Hujaraat:

“Oh you who believe! If there comes to you a faasiq with some information then confirm this information lest you harm others out of ignorance and later regret it”

Imam Suhaib Webb in Part II of his tafsir of surat al-Hujaraat comments on this ayah saying that it is best to generally apply this prescription. That is, one should verify any news they receive unless the source is KNOWN to be truthful – a rare trait these days. To this end, the imam specifically referenced that we need to have restraint with email forwarding, but “retweeting” can fit just as easily.

So…Just a reminder – to myself, first – not to rush to judgments or hasten to RT

*As Always, this remains an OPEN thread, so feel free to share whatever is on your mind*

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Youssef Chouhoud is an assistant professor of political science at Christopher Newport University, where he is affiliated with the Reiff Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution. Youssef completed his PhD at the Political Science and International Relations program at the University of Southern California as a Provost’s Fellow. His research interests include political attitudes and behavior, survey methodology, and comparative democratization.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Tariq

    March 21, 2010 at 1:21 PM

    as salamu alaykum. nice commentary, alhamdolillah.

  2. UmmD

    March 21, 2010 at 1:56 PM

    Jazak Allah for the reminder from Surat al Hujaraat!

    I didnt know that the rumours on Mubarak went so far that the embassy needed to respond, subhanAllah blogging, twitter and facebook have lately proven to be powerful tools (maybe not always used in the best ways, but still, they do give people access to optional media channels and opinions). Newspapers have always and will always be very controlled in Egypt, and especially of course news about Mubarak. Its really interesting to see the latest events and how the egyptian government is forced to deal with this new media source, rather than just ignoring them, which has to mean that people read blogs, form opinions and demand to know more instead of being kept in the dark.

    • Youssef Chouhoud

      March 21, 2010 at 7:49 PM

      Notably, Imam Suhaib was on leave from studying at AlAzhar when he recorded that tafsir session – so I’m sure he came across a lot of “unreliable sources” during his time in Cairo :P

  3. Muslimah

    March 21, 2010 at 3:02 PM

    Well written and informative, jazak Allah brother.

    With this being an open thread, this site is amazing and has helped me a lot, check it out:
    http://www.altafsir.com/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

..
..
..

Ramadan Video Series

MuslimMatters NewsLetter in Your Inbox

Sign up below to get started

Trending