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The Muslim Brotherhood & The Cairo Codex-Summary

Saturday, August 12th, 2017

When I was a child, my mother told me that she was reincarnated from an Egyptian. Later, I taught Egyptian history. Then, in 1989, an invitation came to live and work in Egypt as a State Department Envoy—my dream assignment. We lived in the wonderful country from 1989 to 1991, then returned over the next two decades for months at a time. With these experiences, we learned to treasure the country and its people.

From these experiences, the saga and journeys of anthropologist Justine Jenner were born and took form in The Justine Trilogy in the historical novels The Cairo Codex, The Italian Letters and A Rapture of Ravens: Awakening in Taos. These novels begin with the lead up to the revolution and end with the election of President Morsi, a prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

One cannot engage in such research and writing without being fascinated by the compelling story of a group such as the Brotherhood that began in 1928 to resist British colonization, played a violent role during WWII and the 1952 revolution, influenced Middle Eastern radicalism, rose to prominence and the presidency, then suffered a coup and fell into disgrace and terror.
What a roller coaster ride! The future is difficult to divine.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Want to learn more? Read The Justine Trilogy.

The Italian Letters by Linda Lambert

The Italian Letters by Linda Lambert

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The Muslim Brotherhood & The Cairo Codex 10

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

So, how has labeling the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization affected Egypt? This is my take, as Fareed Zakaria would say. The Brotherhood response to the coup could have been expected. They fought back; there was violence in the streets. Now labeled as a terrorist organization by El Sisi, they met those expectations, unfortunately including the burning of Christian churches. The traditional leadership lost control.

This loss of control by the Brotherhood’s old guard meant the peeling off and radicalization of younger members. “We tried democracy, the ballot box,” they shouted, “and see where that got us.” Many joined ISIS, thus bringing more random violence to the Sinai, the western desert—and the cities along the Nile as well.

The insistence by President El Sisi and his administration that all Brotherhood members are terrorists has meant a failure to distinguish between those members who would like to return to civility and those who are radicalized. A new form of rapprochement is needed. In the meantime, the current military government uses the threat of terror to keep a tight control on civil rights.

The next essay–# 11—will bring us full circle back to The Justine Trilogy and how these novels unfolded in the light of changes in the Middle East.

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The Muslim Brotherhood & The Cairo Codex 9

Monday, August 7th, 2017

For the moment, let’s journey back to the revolution. From A Rapture of Ravens: Awakening in Taos: “Justine was gripped by deeply unsettling fears for her lover Amir, his leadership role with the youth of Egypt placing him at great risk of being arrested. The turmoil in the Middle East was unprecedented, clearly, so perhaps none of the old rules applied. This is a new game, in a new world bursting from the ground up, a popular revolution quickened by social media. But then what? She knew that if Mubarak were removed, Egyptians would still have the military and the Brotherhood, since no one else was as organized. Perhaps with Amir’s help, those who led the January 25th revolution would form themselves into a focused political movement. Perhaps.
Justine gripped the blanket more firmly around her chilled body and returned to the kitchen for the last dregs of coffee. On the couch, she curled her stocking feet under her and stared at the screen. Tahrir Square was crowded with thousands of Egyptians chanting, “Down with Mubarak,” arms flailing the air, placards in Arabic demanding the president’s resignation. The crowd throbbed, like a singular heart beating in concert.”
Justine had cautioned herself, be careful what you ask for.
The last essay asked “What now?” Now that the military is back in charge—what changes have we seen? El Sisi and his administration have created two areas of deep concern, with tragic long-term consequences, I fear. First is the suspension of significant civil rights: the right to assemble, rule of law, free speech. These measures, so they say, have been taken in response to the radicalization of the Muslim Brotherhood and random terror. Labeling the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization has dissembled the previously cohesive group. Is it possible for Egypt to normalize random terror?

Flight into Egypt

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The Muslim Brotherhood & The Cairo Codex 8

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

I was naïve and deceived by the 2011 Revolution. I thought it was a genuine upsurge, an emergence of the democratic spirit. And, of course it was for those young peoples involved. But two forces really represented what is being called “the deep state” in the US now. This “deep state” (those forces secretly in control) was represented by the Muslim Brotherhood and the military.

As so often happens, the enthusiasm and passion that led the youthful uprising met with a sobering reality soon afterward. There were multiple agenda and multiple leaders. So, the masses couldn’t select and get behind a single candidate. This was not a problem for the Brotherhood. Organized and disciplined, the group was soon legalized and formed the Freedom and Justice Party. Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi won the popular vote in the 2012 election. After decades of struggle, the Muslim Brotherhood now led Egypt. Amazing.

However, one year later, with the help of military manipulation, Morsi was removed from office in a military coup. El Sisi was installed as the interim president. (Note that the US didn’t call it a coup—an embarrassing political choice—since identification as a coup would have meant the removal of all US military aid to Egypt.) The Brotherhood fought back with violent means and churches were burned. The organization became an illegal, terrorist organization. Morsi was jailed.

The military—which was supposedly overthrown with the fall of Mubarak—was back in charge. What now?

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The Muslim Brotherhood & The Cairo Codex 6

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

A review by The Historical Novel Society suggested: “ The author of The Cairo Codex shows a surprisingly in-depth, and even prescient, knowledge of modern Egypt and the conflict between the Muslim Brotherhood and other segments of society.”

This was my goal: to chronicle the unexpected surge of the Brotherhood as well as the inherent dangers of its rise. While the organization was participating in the radicalization of other parts of the Middle East and favoring Shariah law, in Egypt their public stance was intended as a more accepted political influence.

The Cairo Codex also details the sources of the Coptic (Egyptian Christianity similar to Greek Orthodoxy)-Islamic tensions arising from history and beliefs. For instance, belief in the trinity, claim Muslims, suggest that Christians are polytheistic. The puzzlement to many is that all Religions of the Book began with Abraham. A common history.

By “prescient,” the Society meant a description of conditions that would lead to revolution. Set in the year 2006, the Codex anticipated the 2011 Revolution, which we will discover in Part 7, was not what it seemed.

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The Muslim Brotherhood & The Cairo Codex 4

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

Meanwhile, in 1948, the Brotherhood was banned because of the 1948 assassination of Egypt’s prime minister, Mohamed Pasha. The assassination by a Brotherhood member was thought to be revenge for crackdowns on the organization. While the Brotherhood supported the revolution, the Junta that took charge immediately afterwards refused to share power. The Brotherhood reaction was a violent upheaval that destroyed massive amounts of property. So, when Nasser assumed the presidency in ’54 and experienced his own assassination attempt at the hands of the Brotherhood, he abolished the organization and imprisoned thousands.

By 1965, another assassination attempt caused yet another crackdown. However, the Egypt Brotherhood then largely rejected a more radical, violence ideology that was taking root in other countries and sought more peaceful strategies. By now, the organization well-organized, disciplined and largely professional.

Yet, radicals in the organization possessed and projected significant influence from the prisons. They were instrumental in training Hamas and Hezbollah in the art of securing mass loyalties. These were the same strategies working at home in Egypt: support the poor and helpless, provide essential medical care, pack warehouses with school uniforms and family necessities. It is not surprising that the Brotherhood was enlarging its following and surging in the polls by the late ‘80’s.

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Muslim Brotherhood & Cairo Codex 1

Friday, July 21st, 2017

The provocative historical novel, The Cairo Codex, the first in the Justine Trilogy, engages the history and struggles with the Muslim Brotherhood as central to middle eastern trauma. This series of entries will trace the Brotherhood from its inception to today, including how Egypt could and should reframe its misguided policies toward the 90 year old organization.

To begin with…the Brotherhood was formed in 1928 to resist British colonization. Nasser and Sadat were early members. Part 2 tomorrow…

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How to Use a Novel as a Guidebook

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Nicholas Noyes of the NY Times recently wrote a column by that name. He describes the fascinating of following in the footsteps of Oliver Twist–having seen the film as a 5-year-old. An American who grew up in London, he found new eyes as an adult by traveling Oliver’s journey.
My historical novels known as The Justine Trilogy are anchored in real places and times. Whether in Cairo (The Cairo Codex), Italy (The Italian Letters) or Taos (A Rapture of Ravens), each site is real–there for the picking, pleasures to be harvested. Delectable visits into living history. My posts entitled 72 Hours in Cairo (Parts 1-3) take you on that journey. Several posts on Italy and Taos tantalize you, I trust, to journey there.
What is your favorite historical novel? Have you planned that trip as yet? Add it to your bucket list.

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The Justine Trilogy: the movies!

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Imagine a major earthquake in Cairo, anthropologist Justine buried alive, an ancient diary tumbling from the walls of a crypt. These are the promises of a major motion picture based on The Cairo Codex. In The Italian Letters, another ancient crypt
reveals the origin of Italians and the genealogy of the Virgin Mary. In a Rapture of Ravens, an avalanche in Taos, New Mexico, unearths and unravels the migration patterns of the Anasazi. Travel full circle back to the the Egyptian revolution and the faith of Justine’s lover. A gold mine for today’s special effects, these historical novels are unclose and personal with the struggle of today as well…the Muslim Brotherhood, religious conflict, challenging the truths of modern civilization.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Reese Witherspoon–where are you?

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The Thrill of Taos

Friday, June 5th, 2015

Returning to Taos is like returning to a home that never was…meaning that it has always seemed like home, but I didn’t grow up here. However, Morgan and I have spent many, many months here over the past five years—years bringing us into intimate contact with the balmy air that caresses our skin, the full moon rising over the Sangre de Cristo (isn’t there a full moon every night in Taos?), a scattered mosaic of clouds in a big sky over Sacred Mountain, the rich blend of cultures led by the Tiwa of the Taos Pueblo. More than a thousand years of history.

Much has happened in these five years: The D. H. Lawrence Ranch is now open—Kateri Tekakwitha is an authentic Saint—The World Heritage Taos Pueblo and Rancho de Taos Saint Francis Church continue to attract people from all over the world—The Egyptian Revolution took surprising, and not always pleasing, turns—the Taos economy is on the upturn. Tonight, the grandchildren of the original Art Colony founders describe 100 years of creative impulse here. Tomorrow, we hear the story of the 400 years of shared Native-Hispanic-Anglo history. Music is in the air everywhere you turn.

What perspective does time provide? Five years, 100 years, 400 years, a thousand years. A spiral of wisdom that is Taos.

The people of Taos have been so welcoming that the writing of A Rapture of Ravens: Awakening in Taos emerged with ease from the minds and hearts of these generous folk. Many of them will gather Friday, June 12th, at 6:30 at the Mabel Dodge Luhan estate for the “world release” party.

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