Monday, December 17, 2012

Bahrain's PR Trap

New York Times journalist Nick Kristof was denied entry into Bahrain today. As he tweeted, “I’m at #Bahrain airport, and the government is denying me entry. Our ally is terrified of human rights reporting.”

His rejection should come as no surprise. He’s been on the government’s bad side ever since reporting from Pearl Roundabout during the February 14th uprising. While I’ve been told (but was unable to confirm) he has been granted two media visas since then, he has previously been denied entry. And he’s in good company of a long list of journalists, academics, and human rights groups that has been turned away these past two years. Just this week, a member of the European Parliament was also denied entry.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Morsi's Power Hunger

Yesterday was yet another depressing day for Egypt. With violence and anger escalating, the Egyptian president took to the podium. And like his predecessor before him, he squandered the opportunity to bridge the divides of his nation. Instead, he further exacerbated the situation with the familiar mix of meaningless concessions and meaningful threats. As Hafsa Halawa tweeted in response, “This is the worst-case scenario…This speech isn’t making me angry. It’s making me sad. So very sad.”

A slew of articles have been written these past few weeks declaring Morsi the new dictator of Egypt – or at least, the next dictator in the making. In an article entitled “Shame on Anyone Who Ever Thought Mohammad Morsi Was a Moderate,” Eric Trager argues the Muslim Brotherhood is inherently inimical to pluralism and democratic dialogue. In another article, Trager focuses specifically on “Morsi’s uncompromising demeanor.” In a similar vein, Khalil al-Anani examines Morsi’s “autocratic disposition” that has led him to take the “strongman route” to governing.

Clearly, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood generally have acted in severely troubling ways since the Egyptian revolution. They have broken promises about how many seats they would contend for in parliament, whether they would run for president, and who they would appoint in their administration. The relationship between the Muslim Brotherhood proper, their purportedly independent Freedom and Justice Party, and the presidency remains as murky as ever. They have purged many of their members who have not adhered to the official line. And they seem to have a genuine disregard for the needs of both religious and political minorities. As Jeffrey Goldberg tweeted, “Morsi has made the transition from dissident to despot at an impressive rate of speed.” However, it is not clear that their actions reveal an inherently authoritarian disposition as Trager and al-Anani contend.