The Coptic Christians must leave their homes and the Sinai Peninsula if they do not want to die for the next targeted attacks that jihadist groups operating in the Peninsula are preparing to carry out against them. The threat, direct and selective, was spread through social networks by militants, such as the Ansar Beit al-Maqdis group. In their threatening messages – say local sources consulted by Agenzia Fides – jihadists explicitly declare that the Copts are a target of their violence because of their support towards President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and therefore for their non-marginal contribution to the consensus enjoyed by the current strong man of Egypt.
Last week, the privately owned Egyptian satellite channel Al-Qaherah wal Nas decided to pull the controversial talk show “With Islam” at Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh’s request. The show’s host, Islam al-Beheiry, is a controversial figure in Egypt because of his candid views and biting criticism of what he describes as the unchallenged Islamic heritage passed on since medieval times, which is still used to justify many regressive practices. The channel announced the show’s withdrawal after Al-Azhar filed a lawsuit demanding its cancellation.
The decision also followed the airing of a long, heated TV debate between Islam Beheiry and two mainstream Islamic scholars (one from al-Azhar) on another TV channel (CBC TV), in which various contentious issues regarding Islamic theology were discussed for the first time on such a forum. The debate ended without any common ground being reached between the two sides, and left many in the audience baffled and frustrated.
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The average length of transition from school to stable or satisfactory employment was nearly two years for the six countries analysed. Youth with university degrees do better at eventually finding a stable job. The lesser-skilled young person – with primary education only – spent, on average, four times longer to find a job than the university graduate.
And what have we done? David Cameron has announced that Britain will be sending a team of eight people to help. The government has said we will give £5m in disaster relief. Eight people. Five million pounds – the princely sum of 12p from each of us. And here are some more numbers: 200, the years we have siphoned off their population to fight our wars for us; 43,000, the Gurkhas killed during two world wars; 141, the places ahead we are of Nepal in a list of the world’s richest countries; five, where we are in a list of its trading partners.
I don’t feel lucky to have missed the earthquake in Kathmandu or the avalanche at base camp. To have avoided the broken limbs my other team mates suffered, or to have been buried under the cascading rubble of the heartbreakingly beautiful, now destroyed, Durbar Square, where last Saturday I bought scarves as presents for my friends. I took my chances. I didn’t have to be there. Instead I feel extraordinarily lucky to have been born in a country with a functioning economy and the kind of life chances denied to 99.9% of the population of Nepal.
I received a world-class education for free, I’m able to travel and visit other countries, and if I’d been caught in an avalanche up at base camp, or stubbed my toe, I had insurance to spring me a helicopter to the best western-style hospital around. My livelihood, unlike the Nepalese people I was with, hasn’t just suffered a catastrophic blow by the inevitable collapse of tourism (the Foreign Office has warned against all but essential travel to the country). And the doctor I saw for the chest infection I carried home didn’t cost me a penny.