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Arts-loving Egyptians should resist Brotherhood takeover efforts

The Brotherhood government is trying to dominate Egypt's arts, a writer complains. Other topics: Erdogan's hard line and Hizbollah's predicament

Muslim Brotherhood doesn't understand art and is damaging Egypt's cultural heritage

Even after decades of colonisation and dictatorship that caused Egypt to hit bottom in many areas, the country's arts have always remained alive and kicking. But this unique and diverse national asset is now at risk under the Muslim Brotherhood, Alaa Aswani wrote in the Cairo-based newspaper paper Al Masry Al Youm.

Culturally, Egypt has always been a great nation despite occupation and tyranny. Egyptians must take pride in the fact that cinema entered Egypt in 1896, only one year after its invention in France by the Lumière brothers, the writer noted.

Egypt is the only country in the Arab world that has had a real film industry since the start of the 20th century. Writers and artists are Egypt's priceless resource. But the Brotherhood seems to ignore this, just as they ignore the fact that art appreciation marks the dividing line between primitive and civilised mankind.

No sooner had the Brotherhood come to power through elections than they showed their true colours; first by the constitution declaration that put the president above the law and second by finding ways to appoint their loyalists to critical posts.

The latest episode in the attempts to control Egypt is taking place in the cultural scene. The minister of culture appointed by the Brotherhood, Alaa Abdel Aziz, said he came to fight corruption, and sacked many officials, including Ines Abdel Dayem, head of the Egyptian Opera House.

To be sure, corruption exists at the ministry of culture. The new minister, however, did not come to fight corruption. This is just an excuse to exclude intellectuals and artists who hold views different from the Brotherhood's, according to the writer.

The Brotherhood do not believe in art as a reflection of reality that must present good and deviant prototypes. They want art to be only a mean to propagandise and promote their own ideas.

In fact, extremism and art are mutually exclusive. The Brotherhood imagine that showing evil in art and fiction is incompatible with virtue, unaware that both art and religion defend human principles, but while the first uses direct sermonising, the strength of art stems from its verisimilitude.

For instance, the scene in which the actress Soad Hosny is raped, in El Karnak, epitomises the raping of Egypt by dictatorship. This can only be offensive and symbolic to any normal viewer, even though it shows bare legs. But to the Brotherhood, showing any kind of nude scenes is obscenity.

Egyptians who love Umm Kulthum and Abdel Halim Hafez and who have seen Soad Hosny as the girl next door must take a stand against the Brotherhood.

"If you love cinema, literature and music; if you don't want Egypt to be like Afghanistan … take to the streets on June 30 to save our country from the rule of an organisation that trades on religion," Aswani urged.

The real reason for Erdogan's hard line

Why has the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, taken such a hard line with protesters, despite his reputation as an astute politician? Hilmi Al Asmar asked this question in the Jordanian newspaper Addustour.

The columnist quoted Ismail Yasa, a well-known Turkish political pundit, as saying that the protests came following major economic achievements, as well as a political breakthrough on the Kurdish issue.

The Kurdistan Workers' Party, according to an ex-head of Turkish police intelligence, has a very large amount of cash, most of it in crisis-hit Europe; pulling it out of some European countries would aggravate their crises.

At home, a court has agreed to look into the 1997 coup involving senior officials; some observers believe that businessmen and media people will also be held answerable for their roles.

Mr Erdogan won't budge because he knows that if he backs off one step the protesters will demand more; he knows that backing off would set a precedent in the political game, allowing the minority to decide policy.

Supporters of Mr Erdogan believe that people behind the protests have little real interest in the environment or park renovation plans, the writer said.

This prompted supporters of Mr Erdogan to rally around him because they feel that he is targeted by the remnants of the deep state and "foreign forces" that want no good for Turkey.

Hizbollah sure to lose in Syria even if it wins

Can a Shiite military force coming from a Lebanese sect of 1.5 million really emerge as the winner - even if it secures military victories - in a Sunni-majority area of 28 million people? Jihad Al Zein asked that, in an article in the Lebanese paper Annahar.

Let us assume for the sake of argument that Hizbollah will win all of its battles in the Syrian conflict, as it has won in Qusayr. Can the Shiite sect, a minority in Lebanon, assume the burden of such military involvement in a Sunni-majority Levant? Can Hizbollah play a key military role in the conflict without putting its survival in the balance?

While the Syrian regime can handle a victory, if any, because it is part of an internal conflict with its own circumstances, Hizbollah on the other hand cannot.

Military success for Hizbollah can go only so far. The real burden will be the historical cost of that victory, in terms of provocation, tensions and ramifications, the writer remarked.

Now let us reverse the question and consider the possibility of a defeat. Can Hizbollah bear a defeat in the Syrian war? That could threaten its very existence in a Sunni environment.

On balance, whatever the outcome of the Syrian conflict, Hizbollah cannot emerge a winner, the writer concluded.



* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk