The Real "OBSTACLE TO PEACE", and Egypt Targets Women - MER FLASHBACK
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The Real "OBSTACLE TO PEACE", and Egypt Targets Women - MER FLASHBACK

December 28, 2001

F L A S H B A C K - December 1996

By Mark A. Bruzonsky*

It's front-page news! Bill Clinton says Israeli settlements are an "obstacle" to peace. But this isn't the real story; nor are settlements the real obstacle.

The tragic reality is that the Clinton Administration is the most pro-Israeli and anti-Islamic government in U.S. history. Never in U.S. history has there been a Cabinet more rife with personalities whose loyalties and sympathies are to Israel, as well as to the U.S. And in many cases these persons wouldn't be where they are but for the political and financial intervention of the infamous "Israeli/Jewish lobby", a collection of some 40 different interlocking organizations that together make-up this powerful entity which continues to have a stranglehold over U.S. policies in the Middle East.

And all this is not an accident.

Most people, and nearly everyone in the press, seem to have forgotten that just a few years ago during the election campaign of 1992, no less than the President of the main coordination organization of this Israeli/Jewish lobby (the President of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC]) was secretly recorded bragging that he and the Israelis had at least a dozen operatives in Little Rock working for Clinton and that when Bill became President he would be Israel's man in the White House. There was even going to be a kosher kitchen!

The disinformation agents quickly went to work of course. The AIPAC President was promptly removed (said to be over-worked and maybe a bit delusional) and new policies of not talking so openly (i.e. truthfully) on the phone were instituted. The cover-up worked well, especially in a town where the institutional memory of the press on matters of this kind is notoriously lacking...along with the courage to speak up of course.

Now it was Israel's Labor Party, led for years by Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, that originally launched and maintained Israel's expansion and settlement policies in the West Bank and Gaza. Indeed, in the Jerusalem area Labor has even been worse than Likud. But most of all the Likud has simply spoken more openly and forthrightly about Zionist intentions; while Labor and its "Peace Now" subterfuge has smiled, lied, and charmed their ways forward.

Overall Labor and Likud have pretty much played out the "good cop/bad cop" game when it comes to the Palestinians. And with the panoply of yes-men, thugs and self-serving businessmen that surround Yasser Arafat, the Zionist movement has been able to play the Palestinians soothing tunes while continuing to mug, rape, and plunder Palestinian society.

The biggest "obstacle" to peace is not the Likud, nor Bibi, nor new settlements. It's long-past time for the U.S. to stop funding Israel's multitude of abuses with ever-larger amounts of money and guns. The real "obstacle" to a just and fair (and thus lasting) Middle East peace between Israel and the Palestinians is the United States of America.


* Mark Bruzonsky has visited the Middle East more than 150 times. In 1977 Bruzonsky personally arranged with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat for the first public telegram ever to be sent from the Arab world to Israel; and for seven years Bruzonsky was Washington Representative of the World Jewish Congress. Bruzonsky produces and hosts hosts the weekly TV program, MID-EAST REALITIES, that shows on all the cable systems in the Washington, D.C. area. He can be reached at Mark@MiddleEast.Org.

MER - EGYPT SINCE CAMP DAVID HAS BECOME MORE violent, more unstable, more polarized, more embittered as the gulf between few rich and multitudes of poor ever-widens. Even today in Egypt, hardly any journalists or intellectuals will meet with Israelis. The situation has gotten so bad that even Hosni Mubarak was unable to attend the recent Washington "summit" with Arafat and Netanyahu, and he has even publicly talked of the possibility of war. Egypt today is held together by covert CIA involvement, U.S. economic "assistance", and ever-increasing brutal police-state tactics. Rarely however, do the details of the terrible Egyptian torture methods reach public view. This report from the Africa News Service deserves careful reading, and considerable praise.

E G Y P T T A R G E T S W O M E N I N A N T I - M U S L I M W A R
Cairo - Africa News Service - October 4, 1996: Amal Farouk's screams keep her three children, mother and neighbours awake every night. If she falls asleep, the nightmare returns and she wakes screaming: "No, please, I beg you, keep your hands off me, don't rape me!"

Amal (28) is one of many Egyptian women taken hostage and tortured by the authorities to collect evidence against men in their families, suspected Muslim militants.

The government's new strategy of targeting women, officials admit privately, is an unpleasant price to be paid in the all-out war against Islamic terrorists. The deliberate degradation of women by arrest, torture and sexual abuse is intended to break the spirit of male militants seeking to overthrow the government of Hosni Mubarak.

"In our culture, the humiliation of a wife or mother or sister will break a man's back," says Dr Aida Seif al Dowla, a psychiatrist from the Cairo Centre for the Management and Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, who confirms that women related to Islamic activists have been tortured.

Amal was arrested hours after police captured her husband, Ahmed al Sayid, who is now serving a 25-year sentence for an assassination attempt on Egypt's Minister of Information.

"In the beginning the interrogators were nice to me. They wanted me to appear on television to condemn my husband as a lunatic and wife-beater. When I refused, they turned ugly.

"First they mocked me for wearing a veil. Then they blindfolded me, stripped me down to my underwear and hung me by my hands from a hook in the ceiling. There were at least seven men in the room and some of them were telling me how much they would enjoy raping me.

"As they taunted me, they whipped me with cable wire, kicked me in the stomach and sliced open my back with razors. This lasted for more than two hours. While I was in this room, I could hear my husband screaming in pain and shouting "Ya awlad al sharameet ana marafsh aya haga. [You sons of bitches, I don't know anything.]" It was obvious that they were torturing him.'

Amal said that the following day an officer named Mahmoud Hosny had taken her to another room and stripped her naked. "He told me I should divorce my husband and remarry. He said the government would pay me a lot of money if I signed a confession implicating my husband as a terrorist.

"When I refused, he brought in another man and told him, `This bitch is all yours. Rape her.' " When the man began to undress, Amal shouted, "Okay, okay, I will sign anything you want." Nine days later she was released without charge.

Weeks later, Amal asked permission to attend her husband's trial in a military court - she wanted to tell the judges that her confession had been extorted under torture. Her request was denied for "security reasons", but the judges later announced that they had accepted her written statement to the police.

Amal's lawyer, Montasr Zayat, filed a complaint against her interrogators with the Ministry of the Interior. The authorities responded by despatching a police squad to take Amal back into detention. They told her that she was being punished for trying to bring the police into disrepute.

"She was held for 10 days, during which she was brutally tortured," said Zayat. "They wanted her to withdraw her complaint and to say that it was all lies. They used electric shocks and one of the interrogators sexually abused her."

On her release she had to be hospitalised for two weeks and received psychiatric care. "I am 66 years old and I have never seen such savagery in my life," said Amal's mother, Um Mohammed. "What they are doing to these women is not only against Islam, it is also against human rights."

Um Mohammed is now nursing her daughter and her six-year- old grandson, Mohammed, whose teeth were broken when he tried to prevent police from taking away his mother. "The officer who came to our house kicked him in the mouth," said Um Mohammed. "There was blood everywhere because most of his teeth were smashed. They refused to take him to hospital."

Zayat said the strategy will backfire. "By holding women as hostages, the police are inviting more violence, and even retaliation. Some police officers have been assassinated after being accused of torturing the wives and sisters of Muslim fundamentalists.

"These Islamic groups have a special sensitivity when it comes to women. As far as they are concerned, women represent a red line that should not be crossed."

Zayat and his Egyptian legal colleagues say the harassment of women has increased in the past two years. They accuse the government of misusing emergency regulations which allow the authorities to hold suspects for six months without trial.

Jihan Ibrahim Abdel Hamid, a mother of three, has been in detention since August 1994. She claims that her only "crime" is her husband's alleged involvement in the assassination of Dr Farag Foda, Egypt's most outspoken critic of Islamic terrorists. Police suspect her of hiding weapons, but she has never been brought before a judge.

When a civil court ordered her release earlier this year, Abdel Hamid was transferred to police headquarters in Cairo. There she was served with a new detention order for a further six months. The Cairo Centre for Women's Legal Aid has written to the Minister of the Interior asking for her release.

`We believe there is no justification for Jihan's continued captivity," said representative Izzah Suleiman. "We are very concerned at this phenomenon of increased state violence against women. I have met three other women who had miscarried as a result of physical and psychological torture."

One of the women who miscarried was Fatima Muawad, the wife of Safwat, one of the leaders of the Gamayat Islamia Fundamentalist Movement. Muawad was three months pregnant when she was arrested and taken to the Abdin police station in Cairo. A medical report provided by her lawyer confirms that she had lost her baby as a result of being kicked repeatedly in the stomach. She was never formally charged. Police told her she would remain in prison until her fugitive husband had been arrested.

Earlier this year, police arrested 12 other women for similar reasons in Cairo's Ain Shams district.

"Some of these women, whose ages range from 21 to 55, were kicked in the stomach and face, and hung upside down at the police station," said Zayat. "We have established that police General Fadi Habashi personally supervised their interrogation. They were all wives, mothers or sisters of suspected Muslim fundamentalists.

"We have now filed an official complaint against this general, with supporting medical reports and affidavits. The Ministry of the Interior has promised an investigation, but so far no disciplinary action has been taken.'

Ministry officials blame fundamentalists for involving their women. "Many of these women have been officially recruited to the so- called jihad," a senior security officer said. "We have even discovered that some of them actively participated in terrorist attacks, including firing at policemen and planting bombs.

"They are also used for surveillance, intelligence-gathering and carrying messages for their husbands. In some cases, they even dress in the latest Western fashions to avoid arousing suspicion.'

Police sources claim that most of the women in detention have been trained to use firearms. When police raided a fundamentalist hideout in Asyut, wives joined their husbands in returning fire. The nine-hour battle ended with the death of Ahmed Zaki Sharif, one of Egypt's most wanted terrorists.

"I am against violence and I have never taken part in any terrorist act, " said Amal. "Don't believe the government when they say women are being recruited by the Islamic movement. What they will not tell you is that women are not accepted as members of Islamic groups. Our role, according to the holy book, is to look after our children and our families. Nothing can break us."

Comment on these article(s)

December 2001


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