Thursday, February 28, 2019

The day after the train crash : More victims , More unofficial Mourning, More reactions

Just an hour ago, Egypt’s prosecutor general ordered the detention of six suspects for 4 days pending investigations in the deadly train locomotive crash of Ramses Railways station on Wednesday that killed at least 22 people and injured over 40.

The two train locomotive drivers involved in that fight according to the Prosecutor general’s second statement are among those six suspects.
Unprecedently and interestingly, we found late Wednesday ONTV channel broadcasting an on-air interview exclusively with the crashed locomotive driver who was officially being interrogated by the Prosecution.
I do not recall that this has ever happened before in the media before.

That interview and its timing raised many eyebrows including old Mubarak-era prosecutors and former governors like ex-Governor and former prosecutor Adly Hussein !!
Nevertheless, the interview revealed very interesting information if true.
Cairo's station on Wednesday
From Cairo's station on Wednesday
"Ahmed Hassan"
Suspect and locomotive driver Alaa Fathy said that the locomotive was not to be used in the first place and that he was alone driving it when his assistant should be there.
Despite he said that he was not responsible for the accident, he admitted that he did a mistake for not using the brakes to stop the locomotive.
Fathy was too calm and had that smile on his face that made many feel unease.

On Thursday, the prosecution order his blood to be analyzed to see if he was driving under the influence of some substance.
Living in Giza’s Kerdasa and being poor made many Pro-regime supporters accuse Fathy of being an MB member online madly without any proof except as I said “He lives in Kerdasa”

MP Said Hasansin did not waste any time in those 24 hours and presented a bill to “execute negligent train conductors” !!
Most of the MPs blamed the locomotive driver except the very few MPs of the 25-30 bloc above them MP Ahmed El-Tantawy who slammed both the parliament and the president in a very short statement.
I do not have high hopes in El-Tantawy especially he is a Nasserite yet it is not bad to hear a different note in that parliament.
Many people believe that he is a nice décor to show there is an opposition in the parliament.

On the other hand, Egypt’s ministry of health announced the death toll of the accident increased to 22 from 20 on Thursday as two critically injured men passed away in hospital.
The families of the missing people began to report that they found them unfortunately as dead with heartbreaking stories.
Workers and employees at the Station also reported that some of their colleagues are mostly dead and that their bodies are charred under the locomotive.
Back to the media and its circus.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Black February : Cairo’s Ramsis Railway station crash kills at least 20 people “Updated”

The death toll of Cairo’s Ramsis Railway train crash earlier Wednesday reached at least 20 people while 43 others are injured, the Egyptian ministry of health has announced.
At least 20 bodies were removed from the scene but unfortunately, they have not been identified as they were completely burned because of the huge fire and explosion that shocked the Ramsis Railway station, the oldest railway in Africa and the Middle East.

Egypt’s Prosecutor General Nabil Sadek ordered the forensic experts to use DNA to identify the bodies, so far few bodies have been identified.
Security guards in front of the train locomotive a the railway station in Cairo "Wafaa Hassan"
Security guards in front of the train locomotive a the railway station in Cairo "Wafaa Hassan" 
Some of the injured are in a very critical condition due to the burns they suffered from. The death toll is expected to increase within the next couple of days.
So far many people from outside Cairo are searching for their relatives in hospitals asking for help in social media.
It is a long night once again in many Egyptian houses.
What once belonged to travelers at Ramsis railways station "Wafaa Hassan" 
Earlier Wednesday according to early reports at 9:26 am a train locomotive collided with a concrete barrier and immediately exploded at platform 6.
The collision resulted in huge blast and fire at the same time the passengers of a train from Alexandria.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Oscars 2019 : And the Oscar goes to Rami Malak and Egyptians are happy

Move aside Mohamed Salah, you got competition now.
The son of two immigrant Egyptians from Al-Minya got his first Oscar for a leading role making history indeed. Rami Malek won an Oscar for his leading role as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody.
It is a big moment.

Malek is the first American of Egyptian origin to win the best actor in a leading role in the Oscars, the BAFTA and the screen actors guild awards.
Rami Malek
Rami Malek and his first Oscar
Omar Sherif got a golden globe award for best actor in a leading role for Dr. Zhivago in 1966 and before that, he got two gold globes for best actor in a supporting role and in upcoming talent for his role in Lawrence of Arabic.

I can say that many young Egyptians are happy, older Egyptians are still wondering who this new Omar Al-Sherif is. Knowing my people very well, I would say some won't be very happy or happy after knowing that he got it for the role of a gay man. 

Historically, Rami Malek is the second American of Arab origin to get an Oscar for a leading role. The first one was Murray Abraham for his role in Amadeus.

There is some sophisticated discussion on how far we as Egyptians should celebrate his success considering the fact he is not raised in Egypt unlike Omar Sharif “who actually of Lebanese origin” who was not raised only in Egypt but started his career in the Egyptian cinema. “He got decent and excellent films in his Egyptian filmography”.

Well, the man said himself yesterday in his acceptance speech and in the press conference, He was raised by the Egyptian parents and is proud of Middle East roots and heritage.

Khaled Youssef’s affair : Women always pay the price in media

Women always pay the price in any sex-related scandal in the world.
It is a fact.

Whether you are in a country classified as a first-world-country or a third-world-country.
There is no difference between the mainstream or social media when it comes to that focus on the women, the one party involved that sex scandal while the other party, the man is completely ignored.

This fact I remember when Khaled Youssef’s sex tapes scandal was unfolded in the past three weeks.
In a quick recap, some sex videos involving Egyptian prominent director and MP Khaled Youssef and a number of women including young actresses hit the internet.

Some concerned citizen, a lawyer filed a complaint at the general prosecution and soon enough Prosecutor General Nabil Sadek began to investigate in the incident.
So far four ladies who reportedly appear in the video clips were arrested including aspiring actors Mona Farouk and Shima El-Hajj.

They are officially accused of prostitution and inciting debauchery and obscenity online.
Their lawyers deny those charges saying that they were legally married to the famous director and member of parliament secretly during the filming of those videos from which was from couple of years ago.

I tried to search and to know if Khaled Youssef is facing any charges but I failed.
Either way, the prosecution should present a request to the House of Representatives to lift Youssef’s parliamentary immunity to investigate him officially.
It is unclear if that has happened or not.

From his side, the MP representing Kafr El-Sheikh’s famous Kafr Shukr constituency in the parliament says that he is paying for his political positions including his complete rejection to the current constitutional amendments.

He says that as someone who had been a member in the committee that drafted the 2014 constitution that the Egyptian people wanted solely a civilian state, not a religious state or an authoritarian state.
"Side remark: I believe as a left-leaning Nasserite he finds it hard to say “Military state” explicitly."

Two facts are clear though: Youssef is in France while the four women who allegedly appeared with him are arrested and detained 15 days pending investigations.
There is no information about who leaked those videos and uploaded them online in a direct violation of the laws specifically the anti-cybercrime and information technology crime law and its articles related to online privacy.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Seen in Heliopolis : A Mid-century modern building

Seen in Cairo's Heliopolis: a mid-century modern "I hope I am correct" building in the famous Korba street.

Heliopolis buildings got many #beautiful architectural styles. Sadly, those buildings cannot stand against time too long.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Algeria protests : Friday 22 February 2019 was a big day in Algeria “Updated”

In a big surprise to the world, Algerians organized huge protests across the country since early Friday against the candidacy of President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika for the presidency for the fifth time.
Since early hours of Friday morning even before the prayers, reports came through the social media in Algeria that people began to mobilize in protests against their old president who officially declared their presidency candidacy from a couple of weeks ago.

Bouteflika is already in Switzerland undergoing some medical exams. The 81-years-old president had already suffered from a stroke in 2013 that affected his mobility as well as the ability to talk.

According to Algeria’s official news agency, the following states witnessed protests : Algiers “The Capital” , Annaba, Constantine, Bejaia , Batna, Skikda and Oum El Bouaghi in the East; Tizi Ouzou ,Bouria, Boumerdès , Tipaza in Mid Algeria ; Oran,Tiaret,Mostaganem, Relizane in the West ; Ouargla and Laghout in the South.

From what I understand the call for those protests spread through social media specifically the Facebook but I can't find the point in origin. It is unlike Sudan where the Sudanese professions association played role.

Here are some videos and photos from those huge rallies and protests.

From the capital Algiers

From Algiers "@Oraniase"

The rallies against in Algiers "@Mai EL-Sadany"

Friday, February 22, 2019

Sudan Protests : It is a long night in Khartoum !!

Originally I was planning to write a post about the huge protests rocked Algerian streets against Abdel Aziz Bouteflika's candidacy but things have developed too quickly in Khartoum unexpectedly.
In a few minutes or hours, Omar El-Bashir will address the Sudan people and the world announcing huge decisions.
According to news reports and Sudanese officials, those decisions will include his decisions to step down as the head of the ruling National Congress Part and that he will not run in the coming presidential elections to be held later this year.
This is huge.
Those decisions if are taken then they will be the first set of concessions after nearly three months of protests across the country.
The protests had one main demand: Omar El-Bahsir and his regime to step down.

Updated : 

In a speech at the Presidential Sudanese palace, Omar El-Bashir announced that he called the Sudanese parliament to adjourn the discussion into the proposed constitutional amendments "till the end of the national dialogue".
A screenshot from the speech
Those constitutional amendments would allow him to stay for another presidential term.
He also declared the emergency state in the country for one year.
He dissolved the national government and the state governments too depending instead on the army aka Military.

Seen in Downtown Cairo : Two architectural styles side by side

Seen in Downtown Cairo: Two architectural styles side by side
Sometimes you can find two beautiful #architectural styles side by side. Here are two beautiful buildings in Downtown Cairo; a neo-classical style building and Cairo’s favorite #Bauhaus style building

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

February 2019 Supermoon in photos from Egypt

Here are couple of photos of the Supermoon that shined magnificently around the world on Tuesday .
I wanted to take more shots in interesting locations like the pyramids of the citadel or  Cairo tower but unfortunately it is still winter in Egypt and a bit cold at night.
February 2019's supermoon

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Egypt’s Constitutional amendments 2019 : The Parliament approves preliminarily too quickly

On Thursday, Egypt’s House of Representatives passed in Cairo preliminary the constitutional amendments preliminarily that will allow current President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to run for more presidential terms.

The amendments which were presented to the parliament by one-fifth of its members, were approved by 485 members out of the 596-seat parliament after two days of discussion only "In a total of ten hours only".

During that preliminary discussion, it was agreed to keep the two constitutional articles related to the National Press Council and the National Media Council after it was originally suggested in the amendments their cancellation.
Egyptian parliament 

Only 17 MPs rejected the amendments and their names are : MP Talaat Khalil , MP Nadia Henry , MP Faiza Mahmoud , MP Samir Ghattas , MP Reda El-Beltagy, MP Gamal El-Sherif , MP Haitham El-Hariri , MP Siyad Abd El-Aal , MP Mohamed El-Attmany , MP Mostafa Kamel El-Din, MP Ahmed El-Sharkawy, MP Mohamed Abdel El-Ghanny , MP Salah Abdel Badie , MP Ahmed El-Bredesy and MP Akmal Kourtam.

I believe it is important to mention their names.

It is worth to mention MP Faiza Mahmoud is a member of the Support Egypt Bloc and yet she voted against the amendments.
She is the only MP from that bloc to do so considering the fact that Support Egypt bloc was the one that represented the petition to amend the constitution in the first place.

Interestingly the leader of Conservatives Party MP Akmal Kourtam was among the MPs who said a big NO in the parliament when the rest of the MPs in his party’s parliamentary bloc said “Yes”.
Kourtam, a former NDP figure had his moment during the discussion of the amendments on Thursday that unfortunately is not recorded officially in the Parliament’s logs.
During his word during the assembly, he had had a nearly verbal fight with other MPs because they were angry of what he said before he left the session.
The constitutional amendments are aggression,” He said adding those amendments were also a crime against the people and the state institution in Egypt.
Akmal Kourtam led a party known to its support to the army and the regime in general in Egypt since its official and legal launch after the January 2011 revolution.
Since announcing his rejection to the amendments from two weeks, the man has been attacked by Pro-regime media madly.

Still, Kourtam was not the star of the opposition in the parliament during that fast discussion, the new star of the opposition was MP Ahmed Tantawy and his short word in front of the assembly.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Valentine’s Day : From ancient Egypt with love

Happy Valentine’s Day
Here is a beautiful small statue feature an ancient Egyptian and his lady at the Egyptian Museum of Cairo.
Ancient Egyptian Couple at the Egyptian museum of Cairo
Egyptian common couple 

I do not remember the names of that beautiful couple but I know that they were regular commoners from ancient Egypt’s old kingdom.

The husband was working as an official as far as I remember. Even though they were not royal, they had a beautiful statue featuring them as a young couple.

The statue was found in the husband’s tomb.
I feel a lot of love in that small statue.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Demolishing the perfumers agency in Islamic Cairo : What History Do We brag about in Egypt !!?

As Egyptians , we like to brag all the time about we are the oldest nation with a recorded civilization in the globe with 3000 B.C history or even 7000 B.C history and yet all that we are currently doing in Egypt now is watching how our history, our heritage is being demolished in front of our eyes for the sake of so-called modernism.

On Monday, I was hit by the news that the ancient “Perfumers agency” which was built originally from 900 years ago by the orders of Middle Cairo district because it allegedly imposes a danger on the public.
Perfumers agency now
The Perfumers agency after it was demolished "Facebook"
Shamefully Egypt’s ministry of antiquities said that it was not a monument and was not registered as one and that Cairo governorate issued a demolishment order due to safety reasons.

The ministry's officials now say that the only thing ancient in the place was the facade !!

 The former head of Islamic antiquities authority says on the other hand that the building should have been renovated adding that the facade and parts of the building were all part of the ancient building of the agency that disappeared by time. 
The perfumers agency in the old days
The entrance of the agency before it was demolished 
Amazingly from four days ago, Egypt’s Administrative prosecution announced that investigated in the matter as citizens presented filed a complaint against that demolishment order and it recommended that it should be registered as a monumental building due to its history.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Egypt’s Constitutional Amendments 2019 : Too Fast but too quiet in the Media

I am back in town and I can’t believe how to speed the Egyptian House of Representatives is moving when it comes to the upcoming constitutional amendments.
I am trying to catch up what has been happening so fast in the past week.

On Tuesday, the Parliament’s general committee approved the proposed Constitutional amendments presented by one-fifth of the MPs on Sunday.

The amendments if passed by the House of Representatives then approved by the majority of eligible voters in a referendum will not only enable the president to stay in power for another two decades but also enable him to have more control over judiciary as well as enable the army to interfere in the political life constitutionally.
The Egyptian parliament
The Egyptian parliament 

I believe any constitutional amendments will take more time for discussions in any parliament’s general committee in the world on any planet in any solar system but we are speaking about Egypt’s current House of Representatives.

Now the House of Representatives will have a final vote on 17 February 2018 and if approved by 2/3 of the MPs then there will be a referendum within 60 days.

The parliament’s biggest bloc “Support Egypt” supports the amendments along with pro-regime parties like “Future of Homeland Party” and “Free Egyptians Party”
Again things are moving fast to the level that I can’t comprehend naively considering we are speaking about alarming constitution amendments.

In the Parliament, 25-30 Bloc is still insisting on its position to reject the Constitutional amendments and I guess some of its prominent members may not stay long in the parliament as I explain later in the post.

Interestingly, the Conservatives Party seems to have a split over the amendments as its leader declared his rejection to the amendments whereas its MPs and other leading figures in the party declared their support.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Egyptian Constitutional amendments 2019 : Let the games begin

And the Egyptian parliament began to pave the away for the upcoming Constitutional amendments.

Without waiting for the Urgent matters court to say its word, more than one fifth of the MPs in the House of Representatives presented a written petition to the Speaker of the House Ali Abdel Aal on Saturday to amend Constitution 2014.

On Sunday , the general committee of the parliament issued a statement about the main issues involving the proposed amendments officially.

So far the 15 major articles that are going to be amended are related to Presidential terms “6 years for two presidential terms instead of four” , creating a parliamentary quota for women and Christians, the procedures to appoint the minister of defense , the military courts for civilians.

There are going to be at least 10 new articles to be added including creating a vice-president position , a Shura council , special quotas for women,a judiciary coordinating committee headed by the President.

The general committee of the parliament will continue discussing the proposed amendments on Tuesday.

Most of those MPs that presented the petition, if not all of them are members of Pro-regime “Support Egypt” bloc

Interestingly , I can’t find any serious article enforcing the freedoms or guarantees that it would be turned in to one man show constitutionally in the proposed articles as article 226 of the current constitution stipulates.

The article is crystal clear.

“In all cases, texts pertaining to the re-election of the president of the republic or the principles of freedom and equality stipulated in this Constitution may not be amended, unless the amendment brings more guarantees.”

I knew about that move since last week but I did not imagine that the process would be so fast.

I will be out of town with limited access online this week.