Thursday, March 30, 2006

Desperately seeking a Vice President

Desperately seeking a Vice President Posted by Picasa

Gamal, Omar, Habib or Baheyya for President?

This post by Eljah Zarwan made my morning! Gamal Mubarak made his first ever live interview on TV, and the post is about how he fared, and the prospects for Gamal and his supposed fellow contenders for office.

My favourite amongst them is Baheyya, although not the obvious choice, the queen of the Egyptian blogosphere(go read her post on the Egyptian spring), but another one, a saídiyya, whom i would prefer, on any given day to yet one more of those Menoufi guys, eventhough named after another famous Saídi, from Beni Murr.

Monday, March 20, 2006

PM Ahmed Nazif on BBC´s hardtalk today

Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif will be interviewed by Stephen Sackur on my favourite BBC world show, HARDtalk today.

Here are some soundbites:

It begins like this:
Q: Is Egypt a democracy?
A: Well, Yes it is, because a democracy is not something you can switch on and off, it´s just a process that takes place over time. Will you call the US, a democracy 50 years ago? Will you call it a democracy 10 years ago?, or 200 years ago? It depends in the stage of democracy, of democratic reform you are in. I think we have taken very good steps, towards becoming a full-fledged democracy.

Q: How would you explain then , the fact that after your (inaudible) of election, presidential and parliamentary elections , the international community reacted with a great deal of scepticism, just to qoute one respected group, Human Rights Watch, they say ¨that the elections was marked by extensive irregularites and in some cases, serious violence¨.

A: Well,I think you have to put things in context, if you compare that election with the previous one, maybe five years ago, you will see a marked improvement in the process itself, i give you many examples, one: we had transparent ballot boxes for the first time in Egypt, we had Presidential elections with multi candidates , we had equal time campaigning on public televison for all candidates, so many many improvements.

Many other subjects, the Muslim Brotherhood,human rights, al Ghad, which he calls ¨a very superficial party, made up of people here and there, no ideology at all¨.
Interesting comming from someone from the superideological NDP!

Questions about the vicepresidency, Gamal, Condi and relations with the Americans. There is much more, so go and watch!

HARDtalk can be seen on BBC World at 03:30 GMT, 0830 GMT, 1530 GMT, 1830 GMT, 2330 GMT(Cairo GMT+2), or you can watch it on the net later via the above link, probably from tomorrow, and they keep it on their website for a week). They had Gamela Ismail(Ayman Nour´s wife) on the show a couple of weeks ago.

I would also like to recommend another show on BBC world. HARDtalk´s legendary host Tim Sebastian , now hosts the Doha Debates. They had a debate on the theme - Does the Arab media need to learn from the West?
with Mona el Tahawy, Marc Lynch, Abdallah Shleifer and Khaled Hroub.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

An Egyptian born every 23.4 seconds

According to the latest census from the National Centre for Mobilisation and Statistics from January 2006 the total population is 73.6 million people, including 2.3 million Egyptians living abroad. Since the year 2000 the population has increased with 1.3 million annualy. The average life span for men is 69 years, and for women 73.

The interesting figures is as always those concerning the young population, and the statistics tells us that 37.7 percent of the Egyptians are under 15 and 40.8 percent are between the ages of 15 and 40. that is 78.5 percent...

I´m thinking apartments... marriage... poverty reduction, and President Mubaraks election promises. It feels reasuring that we have such an excellent team in charge of our economics, they will spear no effort focusing on job creation, the Prime minister and his economical trio of star quality, Yousef Boutros Ghali, Mahmoud Muhieddin and Rachid Mohamed Rachid will fix it! I have no doubt what so ever! It´s also a good sign that the Egyptian stock exchange is doing so well.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

First human death of H5N1 bird flu in Egypt

The first human death caused by the bird flu virus H5N1 in Egypt, was announced today. The thirty year old Amal Muhammed Ismail from the village of Nawa in the Qalyubiyya province 40 Km from Cairo, became the first human victim of the virus.

She maintained a domestic chicken farm, altough the government decided to ban them in the wake of the first cases of birds contaminated with the virus last month.´She had been treated with tamiflu, the authorities had sent samples to Britain for further tests.

The security forces has sealed of the village, and health officials are taking samples from people who may have come into contact with her or her poultry. 98 people have died in bird fly world wide since the first case in 2003.

Pictures from the Midan al Tahrir sit in

Pictures from the Midan al Tahrir sit in on the 16th of March in solidarity with the Judges club fighting for a free judiaciary and the journalists fighting for a free press, can be found at, Mostafa, Mohammed, Wa7da masreya and egyptoz.

Special thanks to Aláa and Mostafa, in trying to provide us with as close to live coverage as possible! Making us feel involved and participating, though being unable to be there with you.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Two men of peace

Two men of peace, but will Pope Benedict democratize the Catholic Church? Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 13, 2006

Youssef Chahine interview

In an interview in Qantara, the doyen of Egyptian film ,Yousef Chahine gives his view on the political situation and the current state of egyptian society. He gives us some really good qoutes, this is but a few soundbites:

Question: What do you think is the role of artists in the contemporary political situation?

Chahine: You must participate. You can't be an artist if you don't know the social, the political, and the economical context. If you talk about the Egyptian people, you must know about are their problems. Either you are with modernity or you don't know what the hell you're doing. Because when Mr. Bush farts we jump.

Question: Do you believe that the United States or France would help "Kifaya" like they supported the opposition movement in Lebanon?

Chahine: No. The U.S. is helping Mr. Mubarak. They put him there. He is one of their stooges. He always blackmails them: "It's either me or the Islamists." They prefer him.

Question: How important, economically, is success in Egypt for your films?

Chahine: If they are forbidden in Egypt, you're ruined. That is the strength of the censorship. You show your scenario first, and three imbeciles read it. They say: "You take out this, you take out that". Then I say: "No, I take out nothing." And while you are shooting, you have two or three veiled ladies and they sit there looking at what you are doing. So I have to find tricks: I have a very handsome assistant, so I tell him to flirt with them. So any time I shoot a scene that is a little bit political or sexual he takes them to the corridor. As far away from me as possible.

The sadest part however, is the ending of the interview , he really has no hope in the political changes , or for the young people in Egypt and concludes like this

Question: Can you imagine Egypt being more free and liberal in the near future?

Chahine: No, neither in the near not in the faraway future. The people are too tired to do demonstrations in the streets.

Question: Even the many, many young people in Egypt don't give you hope?

Chahine: Not because they are young. I see them front of the German and French consulates, everybody wants to emigrate. I used to tell the young people: "Don't do it! If you have studied, we need you here". I was old-fashioned thinking only of the beauty of my country. Now I tell them "leave!" They have no chance here, it's too corrupt. By staying here, you become corrupt.

Let´s hope that the Ingmar Bergman of arabic cinema, who gave us films like bab al hadid, al ard(the filmatization of Abd al Rahman ash Sharqawis novel, the earth), Iskanderiyah leh(Alexandria why), al Muhager(the emigrant), al masir(Destiny) and the last? of his Alexandria Quartet - Alexandria-New York, will keep on giving us many more films, the next project starts shooting in April 2006 according to rumours, it dosen´t have a official tittle as of yet, but is called Heya Fawda, as a project name.