Fawzy - "Copts: Citizens not Clients"

I like Sameh Fawzy, a smart Coptic activist and researcher who has written at length about Islamist groups, the concept of citizenship, and many other issues. In his latest article for the Daily News Egypt he talks about Coptic attitudes towards the municipal elections, the problem with the clergy intervening on behalf of the regime and claiming to speak for all Copts, and the important question that elections are "more negotiations than competition." We've seen this in recent days as Zakariya Azmi, ruling party bigwig and President Mubarak's chief of staff, entered into talks with the legal opposition to urge it to field more candidates. We see it even at the local level where the Muslim Brothers can occasionally negotiate with local NDP, although those cases are now few and far between. What you have is an election where the results are essentially pre-determined, particularly when the party that refuses to enter negotiations most of the time, or with whom the regime refuses to negotiate, is excluded altogether.

Here obviously I speak of the Muslim Brothers, who still have a long, long way to go before most Copts come to trust them. Essam al-Erian has an op-ed in the Forward, which it seems is fast becoming the favorite Jewish-American magazine for Islamists. It's pretty boiler plate but covers much of the ground of what has been happening in recent days.

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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.