Egypt wants CBS to drop El-Sisi interview on Israel cooperation: network

(AFP)
Updated 04 January 2019
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Egypt wants CBS to drop El-Sisi interview on Israel cooperation: network

  • Egypt has been battling an insurgency in the northern Sinai Peninsula for years
  • Violence intensified following the overthrow of president Muhammad Mursi by the army then headed by El-Sisi in 2013

WASHINGTON: Egypt has asked CBS not to air an interview with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in which he discussed cooperation with Israel in the fight against Sinai extremists, the US network said.
The network said on its website Thursday that El-Sisi — a former army chief and defense minister — made the remarks in a taped interview due to air for its 60 Minutes program on Sunday.
“Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi sat down with Scott Pelley to make news on 60 Minutes and did when he confirmed his military was working with Israel against terrorists in North Sinai,” CBS said.
Asked if this cooperation was the closest ever between the former enemies, El-Sisi said, “That is correct... We have a wide range of cooperation with the Israelis,” according to the CBS website.
Afterwards, the Egyptian ambassador to the United States contacted the 60 Minutes team to tell them “the interview could not be aired,” the network said.
CBS said it would go ahead regardless on Sunday and air “the interview Egypt’s government doesn’t want on TV.”
Egypt has been battling an insurgency in the northern Sinai Peninsula for years. Violence intensified following the overthrow of president Muhammad Mursi by the army then headed by El-Sisi in 2013.
In February, the security forces launched a major operation aimed at wiping out the local affiliate of Daesh which has been spearheading the insurgency in the Sinai.
The same month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country would do “whatever is necessary to defend ourselves” after the New York Times reported that Israeli aircraft had carried out dozens of cross-border strikes against terrorists in the Sinai.
The Egyptians are battling an estimated 1,000 Daesh-affiliated extremists and are letting Israel attack them from the air, CBS said.
Egypt and Jordan are the only two Arab countries to have signed peace treaties with Israel, but relations remain sensitive due to hostility toward the Jewish state among their populations.
CBS posted on its website an excerpt of the interview in which El-Sisi is asked how many “political prisoners” Egypt is holding.
The Egyptian president, speaking in Arabic, replies: “We don’t have any political prisoners or prisoners of opinion. We are trying to stand against extremists who impose their ideology on the people.”
He also dismissed a report by Human Rights Watch that said Egyptian authorities “have arrested or charged probably at least 60,000 people” since the 2013 military coup that ousted Mursi.
“I don’t know where they got that figure. I said there are no political prisoners in Egypt.”
El-Sisi came to power in 2014, a year after he overthrew Mursi following mass protests against the Muslim Brotherhood leader’s rule.
Human rights groups say the former defense chief has since installed a repressive and authoritarian regime.


News anchors join New Zealand women wearing headscarves for mosque attack victims

Updated 22 March 2019
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News anchors join New Zealand women wearing headscarves for mosque attack victims

  • The AM Show news anchor Amanda Gillies said the gesture 'shows we are united'
  • Newsreaders began broadcasts with Islamic greetings

CHRISTCHURCH: News anchors in New Zealand joined women across the country in wearing headscarves as a show of solidarity on Friday for the victims of last week’s mosques shooting. 

The newsreaders covering the memorial events for the 50 people killed by a white supremacist at two mosques in Christchurch, began broadcasts with Islamic greetings.

They included The AM Show news anchor Amanda Gillies, who said she agonized over whether to cover her hair with a peach-colored scarf.

"There's no way a week ago that I would have, because I would have thought it would have been deemed inappropriate, not right, that I was insulting the Muslim community," Gillies said.

"I'll be honest - I did angst over it today whether I should wear it, because I didn't want to be inappropriate or offend the Muslim community. But I know that they are so welcoming and accepting of it, and I know that a lot of women will wear it today because it just shows that we are united - the solidarity is there, the love and support is there."

Elsewhere, women across the country wore hijabs on an emotional day when the shocked  nation came together to remember those killed.

 A journalist wearing a headscarf as tribute to the victims of the mosque attacks uses her phone before Friday prayers at Hagley Park outside Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand March 22, 2019. (Reuters)

Rafaela Stoakes, a 32-year-old mother of two, said wearing the Islamic head covering gave her an insight into what it means to stand out and feel part of the minority.

On Friday morning she covered all but a few locks of her dark chestnut-coloured hair in a loose red and white scarf, crossed neatly beneath her chin and tucked into a black hiking jacket.

She was one of many women embracing #HeadScarfforHarmony, to make a stand against the hate espoused by the Australian man who killed dozens of worshippers.

Headscarves were also worn as a mark of respect by policewomen and non-Muslim volunteers directing the crowds around the site in Christchurch holding communal prayers on Friday.

Many were wearing a headscarf for the first time.

"It is amazing how different I felt for the short time I was out this morning," Stoakes told AFP.

"There were a lot of confused looks and some slightly aggressive ones," she said.

"I did feel a sense of pride to honour my Muslim friends, but I also felt very vulnerable and alone as I was the only person wearing one."

"It must take a lot of courage to do this on a daily basis."

The gesture caught on nationwide -- in offices, schools and on the streets -- as well as at the ceremonies held in Christchurch to mark one week since the killings at the hands of a self-avowed white supremacist.

Women flooded Twitter, Facebook and other social media -- which played a key role in allowing the gunman to spread his message -- with their images.

Kate Mills Workman, a 19-year-old student from Wellington, posted a selfie on Twitter wearing a green headscarf.

"If I could I would be attending the mosque and standing outside to show my support for my Muslim whanau but I've got lectures and I can't really skip them," she told AFP, using a Maori language term for extended family.

"Obviously this is all spurred on by the terrible tragedy in Christchurch, but it's also a way of showing that any form of harassment or bigotry based on a symbol of religion is never okay," she added.

"As New Zealanders, we have to make a really strong stand."

Although the headscarf has been the subject of contentious debate over gender rights in the Islamic world, for Stoakes the day has been a lesson in how pious Muslim women often do not have the option to melt away into the background when they feel vulnerable.

"We can nod and pretend to agree with people who we are afraid of, or plead ignorance if we feel in danger of confrontation," she said.

"But a Muslim is just right out there. Like a bullseye. Their hijabs and clothing speak before they do."