Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Welcome to the New Egypt

For the first time ads and billboards about Egypt show up in New York's times square this week. The same week where president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi is in the Big Apple participating in the UNGA summit. The ads show the pyramids,Suez Cana and an ancient Egyptian temple with the words "peace , prosperity, growth" over the big bold words : The new words {The New Egypt}

I see this back in Cairo and I wonder what new Egypt they are speaking about when the same old faces of Mubarak regime are renovating themselves in a new presidential cult era.

I wonder what kind of peace , prosperity and growth we will have in Egypt when a police state is being enforced day after day through a set of laws restricting freedoms of expression , media and assembly as well press and NGO funding. Thousands of detainees are arrested because of unconstitutional law and hundreds are sentenced to death in highly politicalized trial and TV shows are cancelled because of censorship while the newspapers are demanded by the president to stop criticizing the government. That new Egypt is quite promising !!

Since when police state or military state has ever brought peace or prosperity or growth throughout history for real not to mention in country suffering of corruption for decades. Freedom and democracy bring peace and prosperity as well growth and we got many examples in the world

These ads and billboards in New York City are allegedly paid by steel tycoon Ahmed Abu Hashima who is in NY also to support the new president. Abu Hashima is really smart , he managed to sort his matters during Mohamed Morsi's rule striking deals now with the Turkish and Qatari businessmen and now he is supporting the Field Marshal strongly in the States.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

These are the law enforcement men

Last week we knew that a local police force attacked a small village in the heart of Miniya governorate. The small population of that remote village "Gabl El-Tir" is mostly Christian.That local police force stormed the houses of the citizens there smashing doors, destroying furniture and attacking the people whether they are women or children or elderly.

They rounded up the men and youth whose hands were tied to their backs. In the village's public square the police mocked the men and called them "infidels" and "animals" beating them in front of their wives and children.
All this started from two weeks ago when a Christian housewife mother of 5 suddenly disappeared and as usual we got the same old story that a Muslim man "who is a friend of her husband" from another village seduced her. Last week a group of angry Christian youth protested at Samalout police station against the neglect of the authority to the case.
They hurled rocks at the police vehicles and destroyed the facade of the police station as I understand in a failed attempt to storm it. Fourteen protesters were arrested in that incident.
Then came the collective punishment to the citizens of "Gabel El-Tir" , the revenge of the police force in Samalout.

The people of the village spoke to the media but no one listens because we are in war on terrorism least we become like Syria and Iraq. Well Christians in Egypt are attacked in their villages but not by crazy extremists but rather policemen !!!!!!!
According to friends in Upper Egypt , this is the not the first time something like that happens. A similar incident happened in Sohag governorate also from couple of weeks ago in a small village. The villagers in that Sohag village mostly from Muslims and currently the elderly are trying to contain the anger of the people.
Now according to what I know about Upper Egypt , I will say that anger is not contained but is kept to one hell rainy day.
Nothing in the Egyptian laws or traditions justify what happened in Miniya or in Sohag and yes I am bringing up the traditions as we speak about Upper Egypt where the traditions rule. In fact such attacks against whole villages and innocent people including women,children and elderly usually cause tribal fights that can keep going on for days if the elderly do not interfere wisely.
The police thinks in this way it restores that fearful status it had in Egypt more than the law and order after the 25 January revolution. It does not care that much about the law and order ,it cares more about that state of fear. Donot be shocked but many policemen in Egypt believe that the only way to deal with the people is through fear and discipline.
Of course I can not neglect the "infidels" part, this part shows a clear sectarian problem whether you like or not , yes our law enforcement men got some serious sectarian problem
The head of Miniya security directorate defended his men and said the people started by attacking the police first. Now Christian activists demanded that he would be held accountable and to be dismissed. Something many believe that it won't happen.
In the end many people believe that this incident will be forgotten and no body will be held accountable officially. Of course just imagine a similar incident to happen to Christians in Egypt during the time of Morsi and the anger it would produce in the media and how the media is acting modestly now.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

#DyingtoLive : The hunger strike goes on

The hunger strike launched by a group of detained of political activists including Alaa Abdel Fattah is stil going strong , even after the release of Abdel Fattah, Wael and Nouby.

Over 100 activist inside and outside the Egyptians prisons as well inside and outside Egypt are on hunger strike now demanding the release of the detainees imprisoned because of the unconstitutional protest law as well its cancellation.

Now I can not ignore the health condition of the hunger strikers. US Egyptian detainee Mohamed Soltan is in very critical health condition according to his family that failed to see earlier this week along with a representative from the US embassy. Supposedly the Tora prison gave them a permit to visit him tomorrow. Now Soltan needs to be transferred to a hospital, a real hospital not a prison's hospital. Mohamed Soltan has been on a hunger strike for more than 230 days now.

Nasserite activist Ahmed Douma who has been on a hunger strike also needs to be transferred to hospital immediately. There are lots of pleas to transfer him but the government is not interested.

Interestingly after the visit of John Kerry and his statement that his talks with the Egyptian regime included amending the protest law , now it became a matter of fact that the Egyptian government would announce amending the infamous law sooner. Yes ministers and officials speak about amending the law shamelessly publicly in Egypt. Some speculate that it will happen within days .I think it has to do with El-Sisi's visit to New York.

Nevertheless that unprecedented hunger strike plays a role as a pressure.

I know this post is not comprehensive as usual but I still got no laptop and I blog using an ipad instead.



Monday, September 15, 2014

Alaa and the rest of the #Shura detainees are released "Updated"

Huge development I didnot expect to be honest. A Cairo criminal court has ordered the release of Alaa Abdel Fattah , Wael Metawally and Ahmed Abdel Rahman "Nouby" aka the Shura council clashes detainees on bail. The court also referred the personal videos shown in court by prosecution illegally to prosecutor general to be investigated in order to know who was responsible for this scandal.
Alaa and Wael happy in cage by Sherif Abdel Kaddous
Here is a video for the session.
The court's judges also decided to step down for embarrassment. Ok now an explanation for all this.
Alaa and 24 other protesters and activists were sentenced 15 years in jail for breaking the protest law , assaulting police officers and stealing a walki-talkie as well in absentia.
This is the photo of the day indeed.
The happiness of the Abdel Fattah family "Ravy Shaker"
Alaa was sentenced 15 years in jail because of unconstitutional protest law that many demand now either to be amended or to be cancelled.
Mona Seif hugging another girl in court today
"Sherif Abdel Kaddous"

Alaa Abdel Fattah , Ahmed Abdel Rahman and Wael Matewally were arrested outside the court on that day and were sent to prison. The absentia means there would be a retrial and according to the law the defendants can be released in the retrial.

The rest of the defendants in the case
"Sherif Abdel Kaddous"
For months we had this retrial with lots and lots of adjournments.Alaa demanded the judges panel to step down because he didnot trust the judge who was accused of elections fraud during the judicial supervision of elections 2005 if I am not mistaken.

Of course you know that Alaa's renowned lawyer Ahmed Seif El-Islam passed away from two weeks ago.

Nouby with the victory sign in the cage
by Mohamed El-Shahed/AFP
The last session of the retrial was full drama starting with the contradicting eye witnesses' testimonies " from police officers" to the video news reports that prove nothing to the fact that the Egyptian prosecution used personal videos taken from Alaa's personal laptop without any right to incriminate the prominent activist. One of those videos was showing Manal Hassan, Alaa's wife dancing in some family event !!!
Showing the personal videos in the court illegally by the prosecution made many people angry.
When security forces stormed Alaa's house last year arresting him and physically assaulting his wife ,the laptops in his house were confiscated without any prosecution's warrant.
It is worth to mention last session Alaa want to address the court but the court refused to listen to his word which was published online. His letter was an emotional eloquent demand to the judge to release him pending the trial and to step demand.
Podcaster Matar El-Ghawai presented it in audio, it was great. Alaa has been on a hunger strike demanding his release for more than 20 days. Nouby has been on hunger strike for 20 days while 'Wael Matewelly has been on hunger strike for about 4 days if I am not mistaken.
Now Alaa , Nouby and Wael will be released today inshallah after paying the LE 15000 bail each. I am so happy for real.
  • The trio was released earlier from Tora prison and they went to their homes. 
Alaa with his mom "Unknown source"
  • Needless to say they look fragile and thin. Here is Nouby below among his friends in Abdeen , downtown Cairo. As you can see he lost a lot of weight.
Nouby among friends by Nazly Hussein 
  • Here is a video by Nazly Hussein showing Nouby and his reception in Abdeen 

  • Here is the photo of Wael Matewally following his release with famous Egyptian blogger Mahmoud Salem aka Sandmonkey. Matewally lost a lot of weight too. 
Wael Matewally with a friend and Mahmoud Salem
  • The hunger strike is still on , yes Mona and Alaa as well other activists announced that they will continue the hunger strike till the release of all detainees imprisoned because of the protest law and the amendment or cancellation of that unconstitutional law. 
  • Alaa is back to his family and he is tweeting in solidarity with other political detainees on hunger strike like Ahmed Douma who is extremely sick. Here is the photo of Alaa with his wife Manal by his sister Mona Seif 

By Mona Seif 
  • Alaa tweeted the following hours after his release calling for the freedom of all detainees.
  • Ahmed Douma and. Mohamed Soltan are extremely sick. Mohamed Soltan was transferred to the ICU but Douma has not been transferred to hospital despite He should.Douma's wife Nourhan Hazy's issued an emotional plea to El-Sisi to release her sick husband. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

#EgyHungerstrike : Dying to live

For weeks now the the hunger strike movement started from few weeks in different Egyptian jails by political detainees accused in cases related to the infamous protest law has gained more supporters.

Today it is being escalated with tens of journalists and activists declaring their partial strike at the journalists syndicate demanding the cancellation of the unconstitutional protest law.

More people from activists , journalists and youth are joining the hunger strike as well pro-Jan26 revolution parties " The Constitution party , Strong Egypt Party, the Popular current , The bread and liberty party, Thr Egyptian social Democratic Party, the popular socialist alliance" and movements like April 6 Youth movement and Revolutionary Socialists.

Despite the hunger strike movement originally started earlier this year by detainees like Abdullah El-Shamy " who is free now" and Mohamed Soltan who became an icon , the hunger strike gained media attention with the announcement of Alaa Abdel Fattah that he would start a hunger strike to object his imprisonment. The movement is now called "جبنا آخرنا" {we had enought} quoting the prominent blogger activist who was sent to jail during the time of Mubarak, SCAF, Morsi and now El-Sisi.

Abdel Fattah was followed by other activists and protesters including his sister Sana'a imprisoned in protest law related cases.

Here are some numbers and names related to the hunger strike :

  • Today September 13 there are 60 detainees in Egyptian prisoners are on full and partial hunger strike.
  • Outside the prisons there are 80 citizens who started full hunger strike.
  • There is hunger strike movement in Tora prison , Al-Qantar prison, Qena general prison , Fayoum prison, Abu Zabaal prison.
  • The most prominent figures in that strike : Mohamed Sultan "226 days- has been transferred to the ICU" , Ibrahim Yamani "154 days" , Alaa Abd Fattah "26 days" , Nouby "18 days" , Sanaa Abdel Fattah "15 days" and Ahmed Douma "15 days".
  • There are detained journalists participating in the hunger strike Ahmed Gamal Ziyad "who works in Yaqeen network" and Mahmoud Abu Zaid "Shawkan, the freelance photographer"

Now we got a movement that can't be ignored. In the end I want to say that those young people who are thrown in jail demanding liberty and democracy are dying so we can live in a better Egypt.

Here is a photo gallery from the event at the journalists' syndicate.



Friday, September 12, 2014

Well They are all canals after all

And I did not write a single post about the so-called New Suez Canal project because I feel I have not fully understood all the project's details technically but I can not keep myself from this.

Egypt's Post authority issued a special stamp commemorating the new canal.The stamp is sold for two pounds.

Amazingly the new canal got the same design of Panama Canal !!!!! The photo of Panama Canal being used to celebrate the new canal.

Ferdinand de Lesseps could not be much happier to see his plans like that !!!

By this is not a new Suez Canal , it is only a new branch to the original canal and it is not the first one of its kind there so I do not understand this craze in the media that reminds me with the Toshka project.

Or to be honest somehow I understand , El-Sisi is simply searching for a Mega-project to associate his name with. The problem is that before spending billions on mega-projects , he should spend millions on upgrading and re-building our basic infrastructure. In fact mega-projects need a strong infrastructure. Historically the modern infrastructure of Egypt whether Electricty to telegrams to railways were all associated with old Suez Canal.

Another point the New Suez Canal bonds issued by the government , I am not amazed about the billions Egyptians are keeping for rainy days as much as I am amazed that nobody in the government cares that the internal debt is increasing madly with those bonds.