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Egypt Begins Surveillance of Facebook, Twitter, and Skype on Unprecedented Scale
By Sheera Frenkel, Maged Atef - BuzzFeed

 “We are looking at any conversation, any interaction, we might find worrying or would want to keep a closer eye on.”

Egyptians’ online communications are now being monitored by the sister company of an American cybersecurity firm, giving the Egyptian government an unprecedented ability to comb through data from Skype, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, among others.

See Egypt, the sister company of the U.S.-based Blue Coat, won the contract over the summer, beating out the British Gamma System, and the Israeli-founded Narus System. See Egypt has begun monitoring Egyptians’ online communications, according to several Egyptian government officials who spoke to BuzzFeed News.

Islamic State Atrocities the Product of ‘Grievances’?
By Raymond Ibrahim

While many have rightfully criticized U.S. President Obama’s recent assertion that the Islamic State “is not Islamic,” some of his other equally curious but more subtle comments pronounced in the same speech have been largely ignored.

Consider the president’s invocation of the “grievances” meme to explain the Islamic State’s success: “At this moment the greatest threats come from the Middle East and North Africa, where radical groups exploit grievances for their own gain. And one of those groups is ISIL—which calls itself the Islamic State.”

‘Daily Martyrdom’
By Coptic Solidarity

Systematic discrimination and harassment against religious minorities in Egypt and the surrounding region often goes unreported as it does not catch international headlines such as stories of brutality and violence.   The broader picture of life for minorities in Egypt is one of daily submission under Islamic Sharia. It has rightly been called daily martyrdom.

To lose one’s life for your faith is far more glamorous than daily persevering for your faith. Yet, such is the case for the vast majority of Egypt’s Christians. Imagine waking each day to the knowledge that you do not have the same rights as your neighbors in worship, at work, in school, and even in the privacy of your home. Such is their life.

Kerry Claims U.S. Has Found a Moderate Syrian Rebel: Homor!
By Andy Borowitz – The New Yorker

In what Secretary of State John Kerry described as a significant foreign-policy coup, the U.S. claimed, on Tuesday, that it had successfully located a moderate Syrian rebel.

Though Kerry did not elaborate on how the U.S. did so, he said that locating the rebel was “the culmination of a months-long effort.”

The Secretary of State said that the Syrian had been appropriately vetted and was deemed “moderately rebellious.”

To Crush ISIS, Make a Deal With Assad
By Ahmad Samih Khalidi - NYT

Last week, President Obama virtually declared war on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. But it is hard to reconcile the seemingly urgent need to confront the threat posed by this organization with the chosen means of doing so.

By opting to support the “moderate” Syrian opposition and running the risk of an open confrontation with President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, the West appears to be primarily appeasing Arab Persian Gulf allies that have turned the overthrow of Mr. Assad into a policy fetish that runs against any rational calculation of how to defeat Islamist terrorism.


Under Threat: The Worsening Plight of Egypt’s Coptic Christians

Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC)

Hearing:

Under Threat: The Worsening Plight of Egypt’s Coptic Christians

Wednesday, December 7, 2011 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. 334 Cannon HOB

Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing on threats to religious freedom in Egypt, including, the worsening plight of Egypt’s Coptic Christians.  At a time when the world’s attention is on Egypt as it undergoes historic but tumultuous political change, it is important that the U.S. continue to shine the spotlight on the difficulties confronting religious minorities in the country.  Egypt is on the cusp of a new era but the transition to a democratic society means more than just holding elections.  It means that basic freedoms—such as the freedom of religion— are protected.

The Coptic Christian community, which traces its origins back 2,000 years and is the largest religious minority in Egypt today, is under assault.  Churches have been bombed and citizens have been attacked while the Egyptian government seemingly encourages a culture of impunity for those responsible for these acts of violence.  This hearing will address the continued discrimination and physical threats to the Coptic community and consider how the United States can better support religious freedom.

We will hear from the following witnesses: ***

Panel 1:

Kathy Fitzpatrick, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State

Panel 2:

Nina Shea – Director, Center for Religious Freedom, Hudson Institute

Dina Guirguis – Egyptian American democracy activist, attorney, and member, Egyptian American Rule of Law Association

Panel 3:

Adel Guindy - President, Coptic Solidarity International

Cynthia Farahat – Egyptian political activist, writer and researcher

Raymond Ibrahim – Middle East specialist and Associate fellow, Middle East Forum

***Witness list subject to change.

If you have any questions, please contact Kalinda Stephenson (Rep. Wolf) at 202-225-5136 or Mike McVicker (Rep. McGovern) at 202-225-3599.

Frank R. Wolf                             James P. McGovern Member of Congress                  Member of Congress

Co-Chair, TLHRC                        Co-Chair, TLHRC

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