Saturday, July 29, 2006

Egypt´s mufti backs Hizbullah actions

Egypt´s mufti backs Hizbullah actions, contrary to the Saudi religious establishment, which issued fatwas, condeming Hizbullah actions.

At the Arab summit, days after the conflict started, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan critizised Hizbullah´s actions as irresponsible, and the fatwas issued by the saudi religious establishment reflects that policy. The Egyptian Mufti Ali Gomáa´s statement reflects the flexiblity in Egyptian policy, not wanting to be seen, as going against the Egyptian street which is largely behind Hizbullah. Hassan Nasrallah has become a hero among people, of all walks of life in Egypt, which has seen protests in support of Lebanon during the last two weeks, the latest at al Azhar mosque, in Giza and Mansoura yesterday.

Don´t go beat around the family´s qourush , beat them at it instead

For those of you who haven´t seen, and tried out the ¨gas station in Korba¨ game try it out in both versions. It´s highly addictive and much better than any x-boxgame.

What will be the next version, perhaps queing for bread with the sons ,making them stand last in line, when pushing until there is no bread available anymore,leaving them with no other choice than looking all over Shariah Baghdad and shariah Beirut for bread , before spending their money on fuul and Ta´miyya at Shabrawi´s instead, and then run home to mummy empty handed ,to recieve a bashing?

The background to the game can be found here and here

Friday, July 28, 2006

IMA´s 8th biennale for Arab film in Paris

So let´s leave the madness of war, the new middle east´s birth pangs, and the American dream palace, for a moment and move on to fiction on the screen.

There is no place i´l rather be right now, than at the Institut du Monde Arabé(IMA), not just because they have one of the best view´s overlooking the city of lights from their top floor, always top quality exhibithions, one of the best public libraries on the Arab World in Europe, and a very nice bookshop. No the reason is the 8th film festival of Arab film. This time, like the last if i recall correctly, expanding from Paris, to include Marseille and Poitiers as well! So what´s on offer then? The opening film, last friday was Halim, The late Ahmed Zaki´s last film, naturally about the singer/filmstar, second only to Oum Kalsoum, in the mind of the Egyptians, and the favourite of all girls. The festival is making a tribute to Ahmed Zaki, by screening a few of his most known films, as an extra treat to the audience.

The controversial film, the Yacoubian building, based on Alaá al Aswany´s bestselling book, which incidently was released in France this January, and has been a big success. Another egyptian film, al banat dol(those girls)is the documentary about street children in Cairo,al banat dol(those girls) by Tahani Rached.

Among other films, the film about lebanese identity, through the dabqa dance troop, that starts working togheter again after a 15 year break, due to the war. We follow the troop on their tour around Lebanon, introducing modern elements of dancing into the traditional folklore dakqa, something similar to debqa goes teqhno(you can listen to samples of the soundtrack here). It feels right to end this posting with the first 100 % lebanese film in years. For those of you who live in Paris, Poiters or Marseille go and see a film or two. The festival contiues through this weekend.

Time interview with President Mubarak

Scott Macloed has an interesting article, based on written questions to President Mubarak. It´s on the latest crisis in Lebanon and in Palestine.

He describes Egypt´s attempt to release the Israeli soldier in Palestine, and say´s that this is still an ongoing effort(today there were roumours about his imidiate release). He´s blaming Damascus and exile Hamas hardliner, Khaled Mashal for sabotaging. It´s facinatiting to think about the fact that the Egyptian government, via inteligence chief Omar Sulaiman has good relations, deals with, and tries to facilitate talks between Hamas and other palestinean political forces, while at the same time, somewhat trying to minimize the space of their brothers in Egypt, the latest being massarests and election engineering(altough, this particular manouver, might prove unconstitutional, judging from the constitutional court rulling in 1987 upholding the rights of independents to run for office).

One issue, that are not elaborated on, not even in the general sense, is the issue of the troika of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt and their condemnation of Hizbullah, that´s something i would like to hear more about.

It ends like this:

TIME: What is your opinion of how the U.S. and international community responded to the crisis?

MUBARAK: A bit too little, too late. The situation could have been contained at its early stage. Instead, it has been allowed to aggravate, with little effort being exerted within and outside the Security Council. Now is the time for the Council to shoulder its responsibility in the maintenance of international peace and security. The U.S. and the other permanent members have to assume a particular responsibility in this regard. An urgent and serious demarche by the international community is most needed. Egypt stands ready, willing, able and looking forward to contributing to such efforts.

UPDATE: Khaleej Times has a piece on this today, you can find it here

Thursday, July 27, 2006

First hand account from the demo in support of Lebanon

Courtney at Arab media has a first hand account on the demo at al Tahrir yesterday evening. You can find it here Thanks Courtney!

UPDATE: Hossam has more, including photos, here

UPDATE II: Daily Star(Egypt) has an article on the demo here.

A qoute:
¨The police ordered passers-by to steer clear of the protest, saying, “You’d better leave, for your own good, they will be beaten up.”

Amidst the swarming crowds were a few children dressed in army fatigue, carried on their parents’ shoulders and waving fake guns, in an eerie echo of the Palestinian protests.¨

UPDATE III: Virtual Madeena has more pictures, and a sound bite here

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Egypt will not go to war with Israel over Lebanon

President Mubarak stated , en route to Cairo today, that Egypt had no intention of going to war with Israel over Lebanon..

"The Military of Egypt's purpose is solely to protect the country, and does not have any other objective,"

The odds for Egypt going to war this time, is as high as Egypt getting a vice president , anytime soon. There has been no diplomatic signs in that direction, quite the opposite. In 1982 and 2000 the Egyptian ambasador to Tel Aviv was recalled, this time , it has probably not even been up for discussion. The last two years has seen the warmest relations yet, between Egypt and Israel in the 27 years of cold peace, since Camp David.

¨The new government led by PM Ahmad al Nazif is very much focused on economic reform , and within that framework the anouncement of a trade treaty between Egypt , USA and Israel(QIZ), where the crucial part was the establishment of tax free zones, where Israeli high tech equipment should be part of the Egyptian products created soley for export. Eventough the precentage of the Israeli contribution ammounted only to 11 %, the symbolic significance of this treaty touched on the extremely delicate issue of nornalization of relations with Israel. Since the Camp David accord , Egypt has had " a cold peace " And normalization has been taboo in the political circles in Cairo, as well as among ordinary people. And now Ehud Olmert , the Israeli deputy PM sat next to Hosni Mubarak in Cairo,in what looked like a deal forced upon the egyptians without Egypt getting anything in return. This caused an uproar in the egyptian media. It did not help that Mubarak in a sudden change of heart, a week prior to the agreement announced to the world that Ariel Sharon was indeed the man with whom to make peace. Of course as the icing on the cake of the newfound "lovestory" between Egypt and Israel came the hosting of the Sharm al Sheikh summit and the subsequent return of the Egyptian Ambassador to Tel Aviv.¨

Part of the political opposition has demanded that relations with Israel be frozen, and the largest opposition group the Muslim brotherhood with 88 out of 444 seats in parliament want´s a referendum on the Camp David agreement.

The Hizbullah and their leader Hassan Nasrallah has gained a lot of popularity in Egypt since the kidnappings of the two israeli soldiers, two weeks ago. Religious and secular alike among opposition groups, has taken him to their hearts, as the only one who stands up to Israel. 50 years on the day after Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal and faced the tripatriate agression, which proppeled him into an icon for a generation of Egyptians, Arabs and people across the whole third world, the poster of Nasrallah will be just as an integral part of the demonstration, as the poster with Gamal Abd al Nasser is. Security has clamped down on demonstrations in support for Lebanon and Palestine the last two weeks, the latest, last friday at the al Azhar mosque. Yesterday´s demonstration was held at al Tahrir Sq, in downtown Cairo and was attended by approximately 1000 people.

The political leadership on the other hand, has opted for another course, publicly critizing Hizbullah, for provoking the israeli response togheter with the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Jordan, being portrayed as moderates, and taking a historical stance by the americans, but in fact their stance, comes from fear rather than strength. This is the troika, that for more than a year have been talking about the Shia crescent as a threat to the stability of the region. Mubarak made a blunt remark about Shiítes being loyal to Iran , rather than to their country of origin, this at a critical time in Iraq, when the negations on forming the new government was in total gridlock.

The official egyptian response to the humanitarian crisis in Lebanon has also been slow, while NGO´s have been convincingly rapid in helping their fellow Arabs, something reminiscent of the government handling of the Cairo Earthquake 1992.

Perhaps this new shift in policy is about to change for the normal business as usual positions, or is the government reversing it´s stance, to accomodate¨the egyptian street? This is hardly the case, they want to be part of Condi´s and Ehud´s new Middle East. Where democracy and rule of law is as lacking, as cheap oil.

In solidarity with the victims of this war

This piece is for all victims, Israeli, lebanese or palestinean.

On a day when katushya strikes on Haifa, Israel´s pounding of shells at Tyre, their capturing of Ras Maroun and Bint Jubai´l. The rebombing of Beirut, and another day of empty talk from the american administration, effectively saying to the lebanese people, we care about your suffering, so much that we want you to suffer a bit more, in order for the people we like more to be safe. Condi left out a piece of the equation , in her talk of a ¨new Middle East¨, and the either your with us or against us, the fact that part of the old Middle East is the strong man in the neighbourhood, the Israeli reasoning right now, is the same old pattern once again, like in 1982 they think that they inflict permanent damage to Hizbullah and Hamas, it´s a bit of an irony that these too political groups/terrorists are the ¨real new Middle East¨ movements, that are much more than the usual american/israeli tagged terrorists, they both represent large segments of society, which their electoral success has proved. Now it´s seems the US,actually might have something up their sleeve, according to sources , the Shaábah farms could be on the table, if so interesting! The most interesting piece of empty talk however was reserved for the president, W managed to say that we support democracy in Lebanon and in Palestine, if the situation wasn´t so precaurious, then i would be lying on the floor right now,

Hizbullah did not expect this response from the Israelis, according to a party official, and the difference between Hizbullah and the IDF in the the number of dead hizbullah fighters continues, Hizbullah claims 27 dead, and IDF claims several dussin The last sad news this tuesday was the killing of the four UN-soldiers.

Jim Quilty has written a good piece on Isreael´s war on the Shiás

The ICP has released their report on the current crisis: Israel/Palestine/Lebanon: Climbing Out of the Abyss

The latest HRW release on Israeli cluster munitions hitting civilians

While discussing civilians, go read Allan Dershowitz latest op-ed in LA Times, wheter your´laughing about it or if it makes you angry, or indeed if you agree, it´s worth reading, i myself think that a distuinguished scholar like Dershowitz could have offered some more examples, perhaps some that are not Arab/muslim, i can think of a few, IRA is one for example. To paraphrase Dershowitz last sentence, perhaps some are more guilty than others, and it´s not the civilians. You could also read Kevin Drums comment on it

London review of books has three different articles on Lebanon, one called do i see, or do i remember by Elias Khoury, the author of the Gate of the sun, another of Rasha Salti,Siege notes, a personal diary of life in Beirut during this war.that Alaá has written about, and a third one by Karim Makdisi, How the war will end

Saturday, July 22, 2006


The Arab Human Rights information network launches it´s latest project today, the site is an attempt to make public, the large amount of complaints that reaches the organisation. It´s a way of helping human rights organisations, state institutions and volunteers to work with this issues, and try to help in reducing human rights violations. The site has sections for 18 Arab countries, and special sections concerning minorities and marginalized groups. It also aims to help victims, subjected to human rights violations on how to go find solutions to their problems. Any person comming forward with a complaint to the organization is ensured total privacy, and no personal information is published on the site. You can find more here

Rami Khouri on Bush comments to Blair

Read Rami Khouris op-ed in today´s Daily Star about Bush not knowing shit about Arabs.

¨I have carefully read and considered US President George W. Bush's words to British Prime Minister Tony Blair that were inadvertently caught on an open microphone during the G-8 Summit in Russia last weekend: "See the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hizbullah to stop doing this shit and it's over" - and I respectfully conclude that Bush doesn't know shit about shit.¨

He then asks this question:
¨Why do the US, Europe and much of the Arab world allow Lebanon to be pulverized by Israeli bombs when most of those same people in the West last year held Lebanon up as a beacon of democratic change; a model for other Arabs?¨

Yes, why indeed?

And then he ends:

The real irony in Bush's statement is that he wants others to pressure Syria to pressure Hizbullah to change its policies - at a moment when the central pillar of Washington's Middle East policies appears to be a refusal to speak to some of the most important political groups in the region. The US has no relations or known contacts with Iran, Hamas and Hizbullah, and is not on speaking terms with Syria, which it has mildly sanctioned.

Bush ignores at his own peril the fact that Islamist political sentiments and resistance movements are the fastest growing sector of national life in the Middle East. For the US to be squarely opposed to and unable to speak with this large part of the public spectrum is foolish enough; it is even more reflective of amateur American foreign policy-making that Washington's policies in the region are an important contributor to the expansion of such Islamist sentiments and organizations.

Another irony is that Bush fails to grasp that Hizbullah's rise to prominence in the past quarter century in many ways represents a reaction to the three principal causes of mass dissatisfaction, anger, fear and humiliation among Arab populations: ineffective and autocratic Arab governments, an aggressive and predatory Israel, and a US that supports both of these tormentors of ordinary Arabs. If these underlying problems are not addressed and resolved, groups like Hizbullah will continue to emerge organically from the Middle Eastern soil, regardless of what happens to Hizbullah in the coming weeks.

Sorry for not working more with the text, but its 8:15 in the morning, and i desperately need a bed!

Thursday, July 20, 2006


Hossam al Hamalawy gives us the wonderful news that Muhammed al Sharqawi and Karim ash Shaér has finally been released, they´ve been in prison since the 25th of May when they both were rearrested , just days after being realeased for the first time. They were both subject to sewere beatings in relation to their arrests, as well as physical threats in prison and constant herassment. They were the last two kefaya activists left inside prison, since the latest wave of mass arrests started in April, during weekly protests against the renewal of the emergency law, in support of a free judiciary and a free press.

Aláa reports that he´s sitting with Sharqawi and Karim and their freinds and collegues at a café in downtown Cairo. They were released directly from Cairo security, instead of having to go to their local police stations, and everything went smoothly without any trouble.
Alaá ends with:
¨Muhammed and Karim are well and we are all happy of course¨


There are still several hundred activists in prison, all of them from the Muslim Brotherhood, among them MB spokesman Issam al Iryyan and former MB group leader in parliament Muhammed Morsy.

Read Malek´s account of yesterday here, and Wael Abbas offer his take on yesterday´s release and has more pictures here

The photo comes from

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

One way ticket from Tora prison to freedom

After the announcement yesterday that Sharqawi and ash Shaér would be released, they have spent the day with the bureaucratic intricacies of the Egyptian prison release system, going from Tora prison via notorious state security HQ in Lazoughly to the equally infamous Khalifa police station, both places well known for their hospitality. In the case of Khalifa, they tend too overstretch their hospitality a bit. According to Hossam al Hamalawy and Malek they were doing fine, and were in high spirits. Then on to Cairo security, were Sharqawi apparently has arrived now.

From there, they are supposed to go to their local police station , which will release them. Let´s hope they both come out from Khalifa police station with out problems , both Malek and Ahmed al Droubi among others were held there on their way out from captivity and recievied some rough treatment, let´s hope that will not be the case with Sharqawi and Shaér. Very Soon they will be free and in the comfort of their home, and with their families and loved ones.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Ash Shaér attacked with switch-blade , and Sharkawy´s lawyer is denied meeting his client

Once again, distressing news about the two Kefaya activists and bloggers, Karim ash Shaer and Muhammed al Sharqawi, this time ash Shaér was slitched with a switch-blade in his right arm by a fellow prisoner while spending time in the infamous cell 12 a.

Gamal Eid, the laywer of both of them tried to meet them both on monday, but was only allowed to meet ash Shaér after a great deal of deliberation eventough, having all the neccesary permits. The same thing happened to laywer Rajia Omran today, when she tried to see them today, but she was not allowed too meet them. This seems to be part of the ongoing tug of war, between prison authorities and defence laywers.

Hopefully this was the last sad episode of this ongoing travesty of justice, according to the Judge Adel Said, the general prosecutors aid,the two will be released today and hopefully this story will come to a happy end. However, seeing is believing!

For updates, go to Manal&Alaa and Hossam, or just wait for my next post.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

UAE President build a city in Egypt as a gift to the Egyptian people

The Egyptian people will recieve a rather large gift from the President of the United Arab Emirates, Shaikh Khalifa bin zayed al Nayhan , a city, which will bear his name, perhaps a Dubai on the Nile?

Thank you Mr President, this will really help Egypt´s crisis on housing.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Demo for the release of Sharqawi and Shaer on saturday 15 July

Please join the demo at 6:00 PM, at the journalist´s syndicate, and sign the petition, demanding the release of the two remaining kefaya activists in prison , Muhammed al Sharqawi and Karim ash Shaer. Their case are widely known by now. Like Alaá, Sharqawi managed to blog from his cell, postings with the title, days of isolation. He´s been fighting to have his ordeal documented, and lately he recieved death threats from a member of the security personel in prison. Their case will be up for renewal around the 20 of July.

And don´t forget the hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members, still in prison for exactly the same reason.

UPDATE: Hossam Hamalawy has an account of the demo here

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

World Cup fatigue

Go and watch the new Tarek Shahin cartoon about the World Cup at faboulous Cairo Freeze, it sums up my experience as well, altough i didn´t want Gli Azzuri to win, my wish for les bleus and Zizou to raise the trophy was dashed, and it turned into blues. Not that i thought France would win, or even go to the semifinals two weeks ago, Argentina was my choice!

And now i have this sickness somewhere in the borderland of World Cup fatigue and separation anxiety, well it´s only four years to go - South Africa 2010, hopefully with Mido et al on the pitch in Jo´burg! Then i wouldn´t have to switch team loyalty from one game to another!

Perhaps a good thing will come out of this world Cup comming to an end, my blogging might be a bit more frequent than in the past month!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Three kidnapped Egyptians released in Basra

A year, almost to the day, after the Egyptian Ambassador to Iraq, Ihab al Sherif was killed in Baghdad, three kidnapped Egyptians were released in Basra.

The three Egyptians worked for al Muqawilloun al Arab(Arab Contractors). They are now in Kuwait. In February 2005, four Egyptian engineers working for Orascom was kidnapped in West Baghdad, Orascom has a contract for the Iraqi mobile phone operator Iraq´inna

The Egyptian President opted to critizize the Shia communities as more loyal to Iran, than their home countries, this at a time when the unity goverment was still in the making, something the same kind of reasoning as King Abdullah of Jordan had displayed , when talking about a shi´te crescent earlier.

The other day, the allegded successor to Abu Musab az Zarqawi, was said to be in Torah prison outside of Cairo, according to a laywer who was said to have met him there, if this turns out to be true, one wonders how good the American intelligence on the ground in Iraq is... I´m sure time will tell.

This kidnapping above is of course nothing, compared to the daily assaults on the Iraqi people of all denominations, today, another¨normal day in Iraq - 16 dead

27 Muslim brothers detained in Ras al Barr

The police detained 27 teachers, in the sea resort of Ras al Barr in the governate of Damietta(Dumyat) late on saturday. They were all members of the Muslim Brotherhood´s Cairo branch.

According to the Interior Ministry, they were charged with organizing a secret meeting and trying to¨incite educators and students to mobilize¨ with the group. Additional police sources claim that they were in charge of the Muslim brotherhood ¨secret activities¨ in 19 governates, linked to the MB central committee, and that they were organizing political activities within the teachers professional association.

two conflicting MB sources, speak about them being on vacation, while states deputy Supreme Guide, Muhammed Habib claims that they were taking part in a work shop on how to strengthen education in the country. they where taken to Cairo. According to al Hayat an additional three, living in Ras al Barr were detained as well.

In a somewhat related case, the high state security court has decided to refer 18 high profile Muslim Brotherhood members to trial, among them MB spokesman Issam al Iryyan and former MB parliament bloc leader, Muhammed Morsy, both of whom were arested in the demonstrations in support of judges Bastawissi and Mekki on the 18 of May.

Another case that was referred to trial was the 31 students arrested in Marsa Matruh.

At least 700 MB activists, toghether with 48 secular activists from Kefayya and al Ghad has been detained during the last three months of protest against the renewal of the emergency laws, in solidarity withh the judges club in their aim for a independent judiciary and with the journalists for a free press. About 550 MB activists remain in prison after the release of 98 activists last week(altough the excact number is hard to pin down, togheter with the two remaining secular activists.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Amnesty International statement on new anti-terrorism law

Amnesty International issued a statement yesterday on the new anti-terrrorism law which will replace the emergency laws, in place since time immemorial. In the final hours of April, the parliament rushed trough the decision to extend the emergency laws for an additional two years, pending the new anti-terrorism law expected to come into force in 2008.

Here is a part of the statement:

¨Amnesty International today called on the Egyptian government to ensure that a new law on terrorism currently being drafted does not entrench powers that have facilitated torture, unfair trials and other grave human rights violations under Egypt’s long running state of emergency.

The organization sent a memorandum to President Hosni Mubarak highlighting its concerns about secret detentions and enforced "disappearances", torture and ill-treatment of detainees, unfair trials before special and military courts, the death penalty, and the impunity accorded to state officials responsible for perpetrating torture and other human rights violations. The organization said that these violations have been committed under powers conferred on state officials under the state of emergency, which has been continuously in force since 1981. It was most recently renewed in April 2006 for a period of two years or until the new anti-terror law is in place.¨

President Mubarak made the ending of the emergency laws, part of his presidential campaign platform in 2005, something he later renegaded on, claiming that a new anti-terrorism law needed to safeguard the security ofthe Egyptian people and state in a satisfactory manner, which needed more time.

We are quite convinced that this will be the case, the interesting question is why the anti-terror legislation from 1992, is not enough to protect Egyptians from terror or drug dealers. On second thought, the answer was perhaps given when the Amn ad Dawla needed a week to prove how the limited use of the emergency laws was going to be implemented.

You can find the complete AI statement here.