Thursday, December 23, 2004
In Egypt we have 2 Christmases! The majority of Egyptians are Eastern Orthodox and so they celebrate Christmas on January 7. Catholics celebrate it on December 25. 2 weeks ago, young men selling Santa hoods and dolls started appearing beside the traffic lights. Several shops sell Christmas trees and decorations. All hotels and businesses put Christmas trees in their lobbies. Of course, Christmas here is not like the one in Times Square, but you can somehow feel it. Two years ago, Mubarak ordered the 7th of January to be a national holiday for both Muslims and Christians. A bit too late, but as they say: better late than never.
Q:I'm curious about whether the Muslim Brotherhood et al. are still actively meddling and plotting to help keep Iraq (and the rest of the region) down. Or have they been pushed into the background again?
Today the Muslim Brotherhood is a nonviolent Islamist organization that seeks to reach power in Arab nations. In the past, the Muslim Brotherhood branches in countries like Egypt and Syria were armed. Also it is well known that all radical terrorist groups are offshoots of the MB ideology. However, today the MBs are nonviolent, they are still dangerous though. It is not just the gun that is dangerous, but the overall ideology. An MB party is now part of the new Iraqi government and parliament. It seems that they decided to join the normal political process in Iraq like their Islamist Shiite counterparts.
Q:I would like to know how the weather is in Egypt today - cold? Warm. Miserable?
Cold at night but OK in the mornings. We don’t have snow and we don’t have continuous heavy rain. We still have to wear heavy clothes though. Our cold weather is considered “warm” by those who like in Canada for example.
Q:After reading about the Israeli/Egypt prisoner swap, I noticed the Israeli was a Druze. I did a little research and it said their religion developed out of Islam but I wasn't sure if they are considered Muslim. I was wondering if there are Druze in Egypt and if so how do they fit into the society there.
Shias are basically divided between Isna Ashari (the ones in Iraq, Iran) and Ismailis (followers of today’s Aga Khan). Druze are a sect that separated from the Ismailis over many years ago. Sunni and Shia Muslims consider them heretics and nonmuslims. There are no Druze in Egypt. There is a small tiny Shia community though.
Q:Your President is getting old and has health problems. IIRC in the beginning of your blog you said that Gamal had said that he had no interest to succeed his father.
Is that true? And if it is true, do you discern already officials as yet in the background but of whom you think thay would strive to become President?
Q:Gamal did in fact say that he will not succeed his father, but he didn’t say that he won’t run for elections if his father died! I think he has the right to run for this election and I feel that he is being polished for that day.
Q:what did you think about the 33,000 year old skeleton that was found in Egypt? Did they make much of it there?
No. I heard about it in the news but didn’t pay much attention.
Q:i was looking at some old maps pre 1967, my question is that on older maps Gaza is part of Egypt and judea and samaria belong to jordan, so why cant the egyptian government take the land back. simple solution then there is no occupation of gaza. just curious on what your take is on it.
Egypt does not want to replace the Israeli occupation. Today all people believe that a Palestinian state is inevitable. Today the world is different than how it was before 1967.
Q:Does Egypt have plans for an independent space-launch capability? I'm also curious about Egyptian biotech or nanotech.
Egypt does have 2 satellites in space (I guess they are 2). I am not sure about any future space adventures!
Q:Could you tell us more about trade agreements between Egypt and other countries? Including Arab or European?
Egypt does have a trade agreement with African and a number of Arab countries. However, Egypt is eying the golden Free Trade Agreement with the US. Israel, Jordan, Morocco, and Bahrain have FTA with the US. It decided to enter the QIZ agreement because a FTA will not come in the near future.