x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Morsi's poor performance has cost him support

A former Muslim Brotherhood leader comments on the Egyptian president's performance. Other topics: Syrian Palestinians and satellite channels.

Morsi's poor performance and hasty decisions cost him the support of many Egyptians

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has made unilateral, hasty decisions and performed poorly as the country's new leader- prompting the Egyptian street to greet him with a lukewarm response, the former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, said.

In an interview with the London-based newspaper Asharq Al Awsat yesterday, Mr Aboul Fotouh, a front-runner in Egypt's presidential race, also said that President Morsi has so far chosen his aids and advisers based on their loyalty, or on political calculations, rather than efficiency and the ability to perform well.

Asked about how he saw President Morsi's performance in foreign policy, Mr Aboul Fotouh replied: "Egypt's foreign policy is still unclear, reactive rather than active. Egypt has not opened up to Africa and South America as we expected."

"Although crucial, Egypt's approach to the Syrian crisis is still limited to words and has not translated into action up to now," noted Mr Aboul Foutouh, who is also the leader of the Strong Egypt Party.

On the issue of the two-year rise of Islamists and whether he thinks their shortcomings have been revealed, undermining their popularity and credibility, Mr Aboul Foutouh said that with Egypt's political arena becoming open over the past two years, the flaws and qualities of all political forces have been uncovered.

The Islamist trend has reaped the fruits of their organisational abilities and long history, but on the other hand, given that Islamists are now in power, their flaws have outnumbered those by other trends.

"I still believe that the Muslim Brotherhood has to restrict its activities to Dawah [religious teachings] and avoid getting involved in partisan rivalry," Mr Aboul Foutouh said.

"No doubt, much of the polarisation Egypt is seeing now was sparked by the Brotherhood, as a religious organisation becoming a rival in political wrangling."

Regarding the attacks on journalists and artists from some Islamists, the former Brotherhood leader said that such nonsense that came along now and then from people who wrongly claimed to represent Islam must come to an end. Islam is a religion of tolerance and mildness, and libel and slander have nothing to do with Islam, he said.

"President Morsi's decisions are unilateral and non-transparent. The president must carefully listen to his advisers and his opponents, and be frank with his people over what he says and does," Mr Aboul Foutouh said, answering a question about whether Mr Morsi has the necessary qualities for a president.

"As for the president's relationship to the Muslim Brotherhood, it must be within a framework of transparency. He belongs to their party but he is now a president for all Egypt," he noted.

Syria's Palestinians can't remain neutral

Recent developments in the Yarmuk camp in Damascus, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria, have raised questions about whether Syria's Palestinian community could remain impartial in the country's bloody conflict, columnist Fayez Sara wrote in the West Bank-based newspaper Al Quds yesterday.

Most Palestinians migrated to Syria during the Arab-Israeli war in 1948. Some were based there before; others trickled in later through Lebanon. It was Damascus's stated policy to treat them like Syrians, except that their Palestinian identity would remain unchanged and that they would not be entitled to vote.

"Palestinians have blended in. They became active in all sectors, from the economy and trade to the industry and services," the writer said. "It's only natural that they would be affected by what's going on around them."

Strong supporters of the Syrian regime began to appear as well as vocal champions of the revolution, not only leading to infighting, but also making a target out of both, the writer noted.

In the past month, hundreds of Yarmuk camp residents were either killed or wounded in attacks that were denied by both the government forces and the Free Syria Army.

These events confirmed that the brutal whirlpool that is the civil war in Syria had, indeed, sucked in the Palestinians who initially agreed to remain out of the equation.

Satellite charlatans exploit the unwell

An increasing number of small-budget Arabic satellite channels are coming on the market with a dark intent: making money from sick people's despair, wrote Ali Al Jahni, a Saudi scholar and former cancer patient, in yesterday's edition of the London-based newspaper Al Hayat.

The author, who underwent a marrow implant to treat his leukaemia in 1997, said these cheap satellite channels make ample profits today by "tantalising patients or those who love them with the promise of an easy cure to a serious, chronic or even terminal disease".

"Which is a plain criminal act," he said. "It's a business that thrives on people's plights."

The problem is also cultural, as many traditional Arab families still believe in the miraculous powers of honey and herbs to cure everything.

"During my recovery from surgery in the United States, my next of kin were good-heartedly sending me honey and herbs and other popular preparations," the writer said. "My doctors all agreed that all those products were to be avoided, including honey, as they might contain harmful pollutants."

Patients should not let themselves be duped and, instead, must accept the fact that there is no real alternative yet to scientific medicine, the author concluded.

* Digest compiled by Translation Desk