Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Some Starting to Stand Firm against Militants

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Some Starting to Stand Firm against Militants

Article excerpt

WE ARE PUBLISHING the forbidden texts," Rose El Youssef, Egypt's leading political magazine, boasted to its readers last month.

The cover hinted at an uncensored version of the 1,001 nights by highlighting a picture of partly clothed dancers.

In fact, the editor was teasing. The forbidden fruit he printed last month was a long extract from Salman Rushdie's "Satanic Verses."

The magazine is the first in the Islamic world that has dared to publish Rushdie's opus. In doing so, it has thrown down the gauntlet to the religious fanatics who wish to drag Egypt back into the Dark Ages. Its editors are among the Egyptians who have decided to stand firm against the tide of Islamic militancy.

On Friday, an Egyptian opposition newspaper disclosed that security officers successfully intercepted an end-of-year plot to kill President Hosni Mubarak.

Al Shaab, owned and managed by Egypt's Socialist Labor Party, said nine suspects were being tried in secret by a military court. Military sources have since confirmed that the suspects are eight army conscripts and a junior army officer.

This is the second time in recent months that members of the Egyptian armed forces have been accused of treachery. When 53 terrorists were tried last August, three turned out to be soldiers.

The Egyptian government's own estimate is that out of 2,500 volunteers who fought in Afghanistan, many of them ex-soldiers, at least 200 have returned to take on Mubarak's regime.

"We are fighting against people who nourish the preposterous idea of transforming this country into a primitive Bedouin society," said Muhammad Said Al Ashmawy, a former president of the State Security Court. "If they come to power, we will all be murdered on the first day. They don't believe in trials for anyone who writes against them."

Islamic terrorists have been a force in Egypt for more than 15 years, since the killing of Sheik Al Dahaby, a moderate Islamic philosopher who rejected extremism.

But the state's reaction has been slow and uncoordinated. …

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