Underreported news from Saudi Arabia and the Muslim world

October 10, 2007

* Saudis give $150,000 to ex-Guantanamo detainees for Ramadan
* At the request of the PA, Saudis arrest Palestinian police commander for corruption
* Christians killed by Muslims in Nigeria and Gaza: virtually no reporting in the West
* Egyptian editors jailed for daring to mention Mubarak may be near death



1. Rampaging Muslims kill Christians, burn churches in Nigeria
2. Egyptian independent newspapers strike over press freedom
3. Egyptian-Bedouin violence erupts in northern Sinai
4. Israel’s “peace partner” Egypt lets Islamic Jihad gunmen return to Gaza
5. Corpse of Christian resident of Gaza discovered
6. Hamas: Fatah using Iraq-style “insurgency” tactics
7. Saudi Arabia issues rules for succession (Asharq Al-Awsat, Oct. 9, 2007)
8. Saudis arrest former commander of the Palestinian police (Maan, Oct. 6, 2007)
9. Saudis pay about $150,000 to ex-Guantanamo detainees (AP, Oct. 6, 2007)
10. Saudi launches official fatwa website (AFP, Oct. 7, 2007)
11. Turkey may cut support to U.S. over Armenia bill (Reuters, Oct. 8, 2007)
12. Battles, airstrikes in Pakistan kill at least 250 (AP, Oct. 9, 2007)
13. Christians slaughtered over alleged Muhammad cartoon (WNDaily, Oct. 9, 2007)
14. Egyptian editor stands trial for article on Mubarak’s health (MEMRI, Oct. 4, 2007)

[Note by Tom Gross]


I attach various articles I have gathered in recent days concerning Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, and Turkish-U.S. relations over the Armenian genocide. (Items concerning Iran are being sent in a separate dispatch in a few hours.)

The reason I mention the situation in Pakistan is that at least 300 people have now been killed there (and many thousands of civilians have fled) in the past three days in a series of shootings, bombings and airstrikes. Yet the silence of the media, human rights groups, the UN, British trade unions, and so on, is deafening. This is in marked contrast to when even three Palestinians die and the BBC World Service runs it as its main world news item for hours on end, adding for good measure various misinformation designed to slander the state of Israel.


The penultimate article below concerns the situation in Nigeria, where at least 10 Christians have been slaughtered in recent days over an alleged cartoon of the prophet Muhammad. Nine churches have also been destroyed and yet the media in the Christian-majority countries of the West just isn’t interested in reporting on this.

Also in Africa, a key Somali Islamist leader, Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, vowed yesterday to launch a jihad against “Christian invaders”. He added that any Ethiopians that don’t adhere to Sharia (Islamic law) will be “punished”.


Independent and opposition newspapers in Egypt held a rare one-day strike on Sunday to protest government interference with freedom of the press. The action was in response to the one-year prison terms handed down to the editors of four newspapers who were charged with “defaming” Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak after they mentioned that he had been in ill health.

(For background on this issue, see the report by MEMRI, which is included at the end of this dispatch.)


Egypt’s persecuted Bedouin community is also unhappy with the Mubarak government. On Saturday and Sunday thousands of Bedouin went on a rampage in the streets of Al-Arish to protest what they say is the government’s refusal to protect them. Rioters burned the office of the ruling party and destroyed pictures of Mubarak. Several people were injured.


The Egyptian authorities yesterday permitted the entry of around thirty Palestinians into the Gaza Strip through the Rafah Crossing, between Egypt and Gaza.

The majority of the returning Palestinians were members of the military wing (“the Al-Quds Brigades”) of the Islamic Jihad movement, one of the most lethal terrorist groups in the world today. Sources said they had been abroad for “training”.

On Sunday, for the first time, a Katyusha rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel. The Russian-style Grad is seen as a dangerous escalation from the Qassams that are launched virtually daily from Gaza into southern Israel. The Katyusha landed in the western Negev town of Netivot, causing no damage or injuries. The range of the Katyusha is up to six-times greater than that of the Qassam, and also holds a significantly larger explosive payload.


The body of Rami Khader Ayyad, a prominent Palestinian Christian, was found in Hamas-controlled Gaza on Sunday. Ayyad, 30, had been abducted near his home a day earlier by suspected Muslim extremists. Medical officials reported that Ayyad had been shot and stabbed repeatedly by his captors. He was the father of two small children and his wife is pregnant with their third.

Ayyad was the director of the Protestant Holy Bible Society in Gaza City. As reported on this website, in April a bomb at the Society blew out windows and started a fire that burned shelves of Christian pamphlets and religious texts. The Rosary Sisters School and the Latin Church in Gaza were torched and looted by masked gunmen using rocket-propelled grenades. Almost everything inside, including crosses, a statue of Jesus, and Christian prayer books were destroyed.

Ayyad was born into a Greek Orthodox family but worshipped in a Baptist congregation. For more, see this item from the Associated Baptist Press.

About 3,200 Christians live among 1.5 million Muslims in the Gaza Strip.


After failing to organize a popular uprising against Hamas in Gaza, Fatah has begun resorting to “insurgency” tactics in a bid to undermine the Islamist movement, Hamas officials have told The Jerusalem Post.

Fatah militiamen were behind a series of bombings that targeted Hamas members and institutions over the past few weeks, they claim.

On Tuesday last week, three Fatah men were killed in a “work accident” as they were trying to place a bomb near a Hamas security installation west of Gaza City.

On Thursday, three Hamas militiamen were wounded, one of them critically, when a bomb was detonated near their vehicle at the Askoulah junction in Gaza City.

A Hamas official told the Post that Fatah was behind at least 14 attacks against Hamas figures and institutions in the Gaza Strip over the past month.

“Apparently, Fatah is trying to copy the tactics of the anti-American insurgents in Iraq,” said a Palestinian journalist in Gaza City. “It’s ironic that Hamas is now describing the Fatah attacks as acts of terrorism.”

-- Tom Gross



Saudi Arabia issues rules for succession
Asharq Al-Awsat (Saudi-owned pan-Arab newspaper)
October 9, 2007

(Riyadh) -- King Abdullah issued rules on Monday guiding the conduct of a body set up last year to regulate political succession in the Kingdom.

The 18 articles listed in the new regulations outline who can become a member of the Allegiance Commission, the body that was entrusted with voting for future kings by a law issued in October 2006. They also stipulate what should be done if a member dies and how a crown prince should be chosen.

Under the new executive statute, the commission should be composed of the sons of the founder, King Abdulaziz Al-Saud. If the sons are deceased, incapacitated or not interested, then the membership goes to one of their sons. Abdulaziz had 37 sons.

The member should not be less than 22 and “he should be a man of a good reputation,” according to the statute, carried by the official Saudi Press Agency. The membership period is fixed at four years and can only be renewed with the agreement of the king and the member’s brothers, it added.

The Saudi throne has passed from one brother to the next since the death of King Abdul-Aziz bin Saud.

The new council will be “reappointed” every four years and the statutes can only be amended “by royal decree after the consent of the allegiance institution”, SPA said.



Saudi security arrests former commander of the Palestinian police
Maan (Palestinian) News Agency
October 6, 2007


(Ramallah) -- A high-ranking Palestinian official told Agence France Presse on Friday evening that the Saudi security arrested former commander of the Palestinian police Major-General Ghazi Al-Jabali.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Al-Jabali arrived in Saudi Arabia on Thursday with Head of the Hamas Politburo Khaled Mashal.

Al-Jabali was wanted by the Palestinian Authority, which requested he was arrested by Interpol on charges of financial corruption.



Saudi authorities order about US$150,000 to ex-Guantanamo detainees
The Associated Press
October 6, 2007

RIYADH (AP) -- Fifty-five Saudi Arabians who were released recently from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba will receive about US$2,600 each to celebrate the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, a Saudi newspaper reported Saturday.

Saudi Interior Minister Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz has granted the ex-Guantanamo prisoners temporarily release from detention centers in Saudi Arabia to spend time with their families during the holiday later this month, the Okaz newspaper reported.

The former Guantanamo detainees will return to police custody after the holiday in mid-October and will be referred to Saudi courts at end of this month for upcoming trials, the paper said.

U.S. authorities transferred 16 Saudis from Guantanamo Bay back to Saudi Arabia in September, the latest transfer of prisoners from the U.S. detention facility. Fewer than 40 Saudi detainees remain in detention.

The detention of Saudis at the U.S. Naval Base in southeast Cuba has been a source of tension with Riyadh, a close U.S. ally. Three Saudis have committed suicide inside the prison camp since it opened in 2002, according to the U.S. military.

Of the 759 people who have been held at Guantanamo, 136 have been Saudis, the second-largest group behind Afghan nationals, according to Defense Department documents released to the AP.

About 340 detainees remain in Guantanamo on suspicion of links to terrorism, al Qaeda or the Taliban. Most have been held for years without being charged.



Saudi launches official fatwa web site
AFP (Agence France Presse)
October 7, 2007

DUBAI -- The highest religious authority in Saudi Arabia, where a strict version of Sharia, or Islamic law, is applied, has launched an official Web site for fatwas, or religious edicts.

The site (www.alifta.com) aims at providing “quick access to fatwas on an official Web site,” says a committee for research and edicts affiliated with the Council of Senior Ulema (Muslim scholars), which operates the site.

The site features edicts issued by a number of official religious scholars, devoting a a section to the former head of the council and mufti of Saudi Arabia, sheikh Abdel Aziz Bin Baz.

Bin Baz, who died in 1999, was known for opposing the empowerment of women, who are subject to a host of restrictions in the oil-rich kingdom. In 1991, he issued a fatwa prohibiting women from driving cars.

Visitors to the new Web site will be able to ask questions on various topics and get replies from the ulema.

Saudi Arabia is home to Islam’s holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina, and applies a rigorous doctrine of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism.

The launch of the Web site is apparently a response to the issuing of fatwas by Saudi-and-other-Muslim scholars that clash with the official line of the Saudi religious establishment led by the Council of Senior Ulema.



Turkey may cut support to U.S. over Armenia bill: MP
October 8, 2007

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey may cut logistic support to U.S. troops in Iraq if the U.S. Congress backs a bill branding as genocide the 1915 massacres of Armenians by Ottoman Turks, a senior ruling AK Party lawmaker was quoted as saying on Monday.

Congress’s Foreign Affairs Committee is expected to approve on Wednesday a bill on the genocide issue and speaker Nancy Pelosi, a known supporter of the Armenian cause, could then decide to bring it to the House floor for a vote.

Turkey, a NATO ally of Washington, strongly denies Armenian claims, backed by many Western historians and a number of foreign parliaments, that up to 1.5 million ethnic Armenians suffered genocide at Turkish hands during World War One.

It says many Muslim Turks as well as Christian Armenians died in inter-ethnic conflict as the Ottoman Empire collapsed.

“Don’t accept this bill. If you do, we will be obliged to do many things we do not want to do,” the top-selling Hurriyet daily quoted AK Party deputy leader Egemen Bagis as saying.

“For example, the Americans depend on Turkey for a large part of their logistical support in Iraq. We would be obliged to cut this support,” he was quoted as saying.

Bagis was speaking in a personal capacity, but Turkey’s government has many times urged foreign countries, including the United States, not to pass such resolutions, saying historians, not politicians, should judge historic events.

Last year, Turkey froze military and some commercial cooperation with France after the French National Assembly backed a bill that would make it a crime to deny the Armenian genocide, although the bill never became law.

U.S. forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan get many of their supplies via the Incirlik military base in southern Turkey.

Contacted by Reuters, Bagis declined to say what specific measures Turkey might take but said: “This bill might please Armenian Americans for a few days but it would definitely have a long-lasting negative effect on the relationship between two strategic allies.”

Bagis noted in his comments to Hurriyet that Turkish public opinion has already turned very anti-American due to the Iraq war and Washington’s failure to crack down on Kurdish rebels who use northern Iraq as a base from which to attack Turkey.

“If the bill passes, pressure from public opinion (to take action against U.S. interests) will be very strong,” he said.

Bagis left for Washington with two other Turkish lawmakers on Monday to lobby Congress to drop the bill.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan raised Turkey’s concerns with President George W. Bush in a telephone conversation last Friday. The Bush administration is opposed to the bill but Congress is now dominated by its Democratic opponents.



Battles, airstrikes in Pakistan kill at least 250
The Associated Press
October 9, 2007

MIRAN SHAH, Pakistan (AP) -- Fierce fighting between Islamic militants and security forces near the Afghan border has killed as many as 250 people over four days. The battles marked some of the deadliest clashes on Pakistani soil since it threw its support behind the U.S.-led war on terrorism in 2001, the army said Tuesday.

Airstrikes hit a village bazaar in North Waziristan tribal region on Tuesday afternoon, killing more than 50 militants and civilians and wounding scores more, said resident Noor Hassan. ‘‘The bombing destroyed many shops and homes,’’ Hassan said by telephone from the village of Epi. ‘‘We are leaving.’’

Twelve huge explosions rocked the village and bombs also hit the nearby village of Hader Khel, Hassan said.

Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad said military aircraft struck ‘‘one or two places’’ near the town of Mir Ali and there were unconfirmed reports that about 50 militants were killed. Also Tuesday, a roadside bomb killed two soldiers, the army said.

Epi lies about 2 1/2 miles from Mir Ali.

The fighting began Saturday after a roadside bomb hit a truckload of paramilitary troops, sparking bitter clashes. The bodies of dozens of soldiers, many with their throats slit, have been recovered from deserted areas of the region, fleeing residents said.

The violence comes as Gen. Pervez Musharraf tries to secure another term as president, vowing to shore up Pakistan’s troubled effort against Islamic extremism.

The army appeared to be resorting to heavy firepower. Pakistani troops have suffered mounting losses as they try to reassert state authority in a swath of mountainous territory where warlords supportive of the Taliban and al-Qaida have seized control.

Before Tuesday’s airstrikes, the army had reported that battles have killed 150 fighters and 45 soldiers since Saturday. About 12-15 troops are missing. Another 50 militants and 20 soldiers had been wounded.

Security forces have rejected a cease-fire proposed by the militants and will ‘‘continue punitive action till complete peace is restored’’ in the area, an army statement said.

Pakistan struck a cease-fire deal with militants in North Waziristan last year. U.S. officials criticized the pact, claiming it gave a safe haven for al-Qaida and provided a rear base for Taliban guerrillas fighting NATO troops in Afghanistan.

In July, Pakistan’s army redeployed troops at key checkpoints in the region, sparking fresh hostilities.

After Saturday’s bombing, about 300 militants ambushed an army convoy traveling to the scene, killing 22 troops and wounding 11. Others were captured alive and could be still held by militants, an intelligence official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists.

One resident of Isu Khel village said three soldiers came to his home asking for protection but he refused, fearing militants might target him. The three soldiers later escaped in a military truck, said the villager, speaking after fleeing to the region’s main town, Miran Shah.

Other residents of Isu Khel and nearby Melagan village said they spotted soldiers’ bodies abandoned in deserted areas and a roadside, many with their throats slit.

A woman, who fled to Miran Shah, said the bodies of eight soldiers shot dead were covered in dust and one was badly mutilated.

The villagers who spoke to The Associated Press requested their names not be printed, fearing reprisals.

Security forces have suffered more than 250 casualties in the past three months, many of them in suicide bombings. The government is also trying to secure the release of more than 200 soldiers seized in the South Waziristan region at the end of August.



Again! 10 Christians slaughtered over alleged Muhammad cartoon
October 9, 2007

Rampaging Muslims have killed 10 Christians, injured 61 others, destroyed nine churches and displaced more than 500 people in northern Nigeria, according to eyewitnesses – all because Muslim high school students claimed a Christian student had drawn a cartoon of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, on the wall of the school’s mosque.

The rampage occurred Sept. 28 in the town of Tudun Wada Dankadai, in Nigeria’s northern state of Kano.

According to Compass Direct News, which specializes in reporting on Christian persecution worldwide, there are 1,500 students at the high school, called Government College-Tudun Wada Dankadai, of which only 14 are Christians, and only seven of those actually live on campus. The Christian students at the school insist no one ever saw the alleged cartoon, and furthermore that no one in the tiny minority group of Christians would have dared such a feat, especially during Ramadan.

“How can we take such a risk when we know that we are a minority and cannot stand [against] them?” Christian student Shehu Bawa told Compass. “This is a lie created to have a reason to attack us.”

Eighteen-year-old student Iliya Adamu told Compass he was getting ready to go to class when a group of Muslim students stormed into his dorm and began to beat him.

“I was surprised that they were beating me without telling what I did,” Adamu said. “I asked to know what was happening, and they claimed that one Christian student had gone to their mosque to draw a cartoon of Muhammad. In spite of my denying the act, they kept beating me.”

Seeing the Muslim mob beating a Christian classmate named Sule La’azaru, Adamu ran to the principal’s office for refuge, soon to be joined by the remaining Christian students there, according to the report.

Despite the attempts by the Muslim teachers to stop the rampage, Muslim students began throwing stones at the Christian students through the window of the principal’s office, wounding student Ayuba Wada in the head.

“I was inside the office of our principal, with the others, when suddenly the Muslim students began throwing stones at us,” Wada told Compass. “It was through this way that my head was broken. I was bleeding, and no help came as the situation became more riotous.”

Eventually, the rampaging Muslim students broke into the principal’s office, but the principal’s arrival saved Wada’s life, while the other Christians holed up there managed to escape the mob.

One of the Christian students, Shehu Bawa, told Compass his arrival on campus that morning was punctuated by shouts of “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is Great) “all over the school.” In fact, he said, “The Muslim students were now attacking every Christian student on sight. Four of us ran into the office of the vice principal, but when it was finally broken into by the Muslim students, we ran out and escaped.”

What about the alleged cartoon of Muhammad, rumors of which instigated the attacks?

“We suspect that either one of the Muslim students in the school did this to create an excuse for us to be attacked, or that a Muslim fanatic from the town might have done this to spark off a fight among Muslims and Christians,” said Bawa. “How could we have done this when Muslim students are always around the mosque day and night because of the Ramadan?”


After attacking the few Christian students in their school, the rampaging Muslim students poured into the streets of Tudun Wada, joined now by other Muslims. For the next four hours, reports Compass, the growing mob burned down Christian churches, vandalized Christian property and murdered innocents.

Among the churches burned were: St. Mary’s Catholic Church; St. George’s Anglican Church; Evangelical Church of West Africa; Assemblies of God Church; First Baptist Church; a Pentecostal church called the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church; an African independent church, the Cherubim and Seraphim Church; and two other Pentecostal churches, The Chosen Bible Church and Deeper Life Bible Church.

The 10 Christians murdered included: Augustine Odoh and his younger brother Cosmos Odoh, both members of St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Another Catholic, Joseph Eze, was also killed. When Compass filed its initial report, the corpses of the three Catholics were lying at the City Hospital in Kano city. Seven other Christians murdered were buried in a common grave Wednesday, but government workers did not allow relatives or church leaders to identify the corpses.

The dozens of injured are being treated at the Assumpta Clinic, Nomansland in Sabon Gari area of Kano city.

According to Musa Ahmadu Haruna, the priest of St. George’s Anglican Church, Tudun Wada Dankadai, whose church was burned, no Christian student in the school could have drawn an image of Muhammad.

“None of these students is capable of drawing a cartoon on a mosque,” he told Compass Direct. “That is a frame-up to find a reason to attack us.”

Another pastor, Rabiu Danbawa of the Evangelical Church of West Africa, said that upon hearing of the waves of attacks on Christians, he moved toward the town’s center to see for himself what was transpiring.

“I stood as they set fire on our churches one by one,” he told Compas Direct. “There was nothing I could do,” he said, adding, “I did not know the fate of my wife and my children.” When he went to the local police station for help, Danbawa found the police turning away Christians who had run there to escape the attack. “We were told to leave, as our safety could not be guaranteed,” he said, in tears, according to Compass Direct. “Women and children all scampered to the bush, only to be attacked by the Muslims who had already hid themselves in the bush awaiting their Christian prey.”

It wasn’t until several days later that Danbawa found his wife and children safe.

Accoroding to reports from Compass, Danbawa and his family are now refugees in Dogon Kawo village, along with other Christian victims. None have food or shelter, he said.

Even Christian policemen were not immune, with about 30 officers and their families being attacked and their homes looted and set on fire.

Last week’s massacre comes in respose to a call in July by the Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar III, to Muslims in northern Nigeria to rise against Christianity. Kano’s state government has led the way in northern Nigeria for the implementation of sharia Islamic law.

Mark Lipdo, director of the Stefanos Foundation, which ministers to persecuted Christians in Nigeria, told Compass he’s shocked that the Nigerian government has done nothing to help the injured and displaced.

“It is surprising that an overwhelming thing like this that has displaced thousands of Christians is not known to the Nigerian government,” he said, noting that the government initially downplayed the mass rampage. “The government must act to check such unprovoked attacks against Christians.”

And Haruna of St. George’s Anglican Church said, “We are living under persecution in Kano state, and yet, we are being told that we are under a democratic government. Do Muslims really want us to co-exist together as a nation? I doubt so.”

As WND reported in May, Christians in Nigeria, who make up about half the population, fears the imposition of Islamic law throughout that nation.

Indeed, as WND has reported, Muslim rioters in Nigeria in 2006 were incensed over cartoons of Muhammad published in Denmark, and more than 130 Christians in the Nigerian cities of Maiduguri and Onitsha were slaughtered.

The reports documented six children burned to ashes in front of their father, according to Voice of the Martyrs.

WND also has reported nearly 1,000 homes of Christians and many churches have been destroyed in these regions.

“If you go around villages, you will see people missing one hand or one foot,” explained Rev. Obiora Ike. “Do you think that’s the result of an illness? That is the result of sharia law.”

More than 10,000 Christians have been martyred in the region since the Islamic law was imposed in the region in 1999, and Voice of the Martyrs has helped surviving family members through its Families of Martyrs Fund with Care Packs, Village Outreach packs and words of encouragement to believers who stand for their faith “amidst volatile, uncertain conditions.”



Egyptian Opposition Paper Editor Stands Trial for Article on Mubarak’s Failing Health
October 4, 2007


In a recent article, editor of the Egyptian opposition paper Al-Dustour Ibrahim ‘Issa cited rumors about the failing health of Egyptian President Mubarak. Following the article’s publication, ‘Issa was summoned for questioning [1] by the authorities, and was subsequently charged with “deliberately spreading false rumors harmful to the public.” [2]

The following are excerpts from the article: [3]

“In Egypt, the President is God, and gods are never ill. That is why President Mubarak, his associates, and his hypocrite [cronies] are concealing the fact of his illness, leaving the country to rumors and guesses. They do not talk, but mislead the public about the state of the president’s health. [I believe that] the president does not suffer from a severe illness, but only from the illness of [old] age. But even if he has [nothing more than] a bout of flu, the public has [the right] to know about it.

“The problem is that the West knows [the state of the president’s health]. The White House [receives] updates [about it] almost on a daily basis. Tel Aviv knows [about it as well, since it] follows [reports provided by other] Western sources that know details about the President’s illness and about his trips [abroad] for treatment. The European intelligence apparatuses [arrange] for him to come and receive treatment [in Europe]... [Only] the Egyptians are [kept] in the dark.

“If the president had not fainted during a televised speech a few years ago, nobody would have known [anything] about the state of his health. Had he not gone to Germany for a long course of treatment, nobody would have mentioned his disease. The [logical] conclusion is that Mubarak’s country wants to present the president as a holy man who can do no wrong, who is not subject to oversight, and who has no rivals. This necessarily means that he cannot be ill. More than that, nobody can conceive that he may one day die like an ordinary mortal...

“The Future Of Egypt Hangs On Emotional Decisions Taken by the President at a Time of Illness”

“The matter [of the president’s illness] affects both the present and the future of our country. Everyone in [Egypt] and abroad knows that [Mubarak’s] family - and in particular his wife, Mrs. Susan Mubarak - has long been urging him to resign and to let the presidency pass to Gamal Mubarak while he is still alive [and able] to supervise [the transfer of power]. The only one objecting to this move is the president [himself], whether out of a desire to cling to his seat and stay in it as long as fate allows, or whether out of fear of causing unrest among the people and among the generals whom he has favored [and cultivated]. [Moreover], the president fears for the life of his son once he decides to transfer the presidency to him...

“This means that the future of Egypt hangs on emotional decisions taken by the president at a time of illness. In addition, his illness means that he is [periodically] absent from the helm, which provides various elements and figures inside and outside the presidential palace with an opportunity to do as they please.

“Perhaps the Frequent Rumors About the President’s Illness are Aimed at Establishing [Gamal’s] Ascension to Power”

“Moreover, it is possible that the wave of arrests of [Muslims] Brotherhood [members], the harsh security clamp down on privately [owned] newspapers and the postponement of the elections within the NDP... have all been orchestrated by [Gamal Mubarak] as [part of] an onslaught on various sectors in the country. Perhaps the frequent rumors about the president’s illness are aimed at establishing [Gamal’s] ascension to power as a done deal that nobody can oppose - not to mention prevent.

“According to some medical sources, Mubarak is suffering from a cardiovascular problem which causes his brain to be starved of blood for [several] minutes at a time, and thus causes him to lose consciousness for a period of [several] seconds to [several] minutes. If this is true, it may explain the rumor that the president was seen swaying on his feet and shivering during one of his visits to an official institution.

“You can call your family doctor, or the doctor of one of your relatives or neighbors, and ask him about the effects of a cardiovascular disease on a man of the President’s age, and about the implications [of this disease]. I am certain that it is not a fatal illness, and that a man can live with it for many years. [However], the question is whether it affects the country. Doesn’t it require the president to take a break [from his duties]?

“I Fear... That the President’s Illness Will Exacerbate the Illness of Egypt, Halt Its Progress, and Make It Develop Bedsores That Will... Paralyze It”

“Gamal [Mubarak] thinks that the president should rest and transfer the presidency to him. Other circles in the country are very anxious - afraid to keep silent but also afraid to act. [Still] other circles want everybody to remain quiet and restrained while they hold some of us in prison and threaten us. What I fear most is that the president’s illness will exacerbate the illness of Egypt, halt its progress, and make it develop bedsores that will impede [its functioning] and paralyze it.”

[1] Al-Ahram (Egypt), September 4, 2007; Al-Misriyoun (Egypt), September 4, 2007.
[2] Al-Gumhouriyya (Egypt), September 13, 2007.
[3] Al-Dustour (Egypt), August 30, 2007.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.