Thursday, May 29, 2008

Amnesty Inernational report 2008

The Human Rights organization Amnesty International has issued it´s annual report, it paints a bleak picture of the state of human rights around the globe in 2007. Our neighbourhood, the Middle East and North Africa follows that pattern.

When it comes to Egypt, 18 000 remains in administrative detention, though around 530(mostly of the former militant islamists, challenging the state between 1992-97)was released during 2007. Torture and ill-treatment led to at least 20 cases of death during the same year.

I would like to stress two issues that are very important, but renders little attention. The cases of African refugees/migrants that is being shot at by border security personell on a weekly basis, while they try to cross the border to Israel. Six people died from July to December 2007, and the trend continues, with people dying on at least a monthly basis, the amount of cases, were people are being shot at are significantly higher than that, and one may ask if the border security personell is implementing a policy of shot first, ask later. It´s there role to safeguard the border, but to kill desperate people(some of them from Darfur)in a haphazard way is not in any way contributing to a safer border.

The issue of violence against women is also a question that needs to be addressed in a massive way, the urgency of the issue could not be stressed enough. This is an issue were much more attention, education and resources needs to be comitted. The quote below, from the report shows how urgent and important it is.

Violence against women claimed 247 lives in the first half of the year, according to an Egyptian NGO. In November the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights (ECWR) said sexual harassment was on the rise and that two women were being raped every hour in Egypt. It also said that of 2,500 women who had reported cases of sexual harassment to ECWR, only 12 per cent had made a complaint to the police. The official National Centre for Social and Criminal Research confirmed that sex crimes were on the rise,but could not provide figures.

The whole part focusing on Egypt in the report can be found here.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Court of Cassation dismisses officers appeal in Imad al Kabir case

The Court of Cassation dismissed the appeal by officers Captain Islam Nabih and Corporal Reda Fathi, and upheld the November 5th 2007 verdict of the Giza Criminal court of three years of inprisonment for the two men on charges of illegal detention, beating and rape of Imad al Kabir at the Boulaq al Daqrour precinct on January 18 2006.

The case was seen as a landmark case in convicting police officers for torture, though the sentence was the minimum sentence in such cases,and it was made possible in part because the policemen filmed the rape, for later use in order to shame Imad al Kabir among his co-workers,little did they know that the mobile phone clip, instead of only being showed only to co-workers ended up in the public domain on the internet, and became prime evidence.

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Dustour online akhiran!

One of the most important newspapers in Egypt has finally an online prescence! The editor in Chief, Ibrahim Eissa and his team has changed the way of making newspapers in Egypt ever since he launched al Doustor originally back in 1995 to 1998, when it was closed down, banned and then relaunched again in 2005.

Dustour, together with new papers like al Masry al Youm, al badeel and Nahdet Masr have taken Egyptian newspapers to a new level.

It´s an irony that the day after the launching of the site also was the first session of the appeal of the six months prison sentence against Ibrahim Eissa, but then again this is just the normal workday for many brave eitors in Egypt, perhaps best summed up by Wael Ibrashy, whom is involved in another case of a one year prison sentence with Ibrahim Eissa and two others, awaiting the appeal ithat has been postponed until June 7th, when he announced that he was leaving Sawt al Umma, earlier this month, he said on a talk show that his work is divided between visiting courts, meeting his laywers and trying to make a newspaper.

I wish to congratulate Ibrahim Eissa and his team on the the much awaited website, and wish him the best of luck with the current case, and the other approximately 35 court cases that ad Dustour is facing. Alf Mabrouk!

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ayman Nour no longer allowed to publish

Egypt´s higher administrative court issued a ruling stating that Ayman Nour will not be allowed to publish articles. according to a judicial source that AFP spoke to.

The distant second in the 2005 Presidential election , Ayman Nour of al Ghad party, in jail for two years serving a five years sentence on what many claim is a trumped up charge of forging signatures to complete the application of the Ghad Party to go official. One key witness changed his testimony during trial.

The verdict was an answer to an appeal from Nour whom were rejecting an appeal from Nur against a ruling handed down in January that included not being alloved recieving or sending letters.

At least he is allowed to write, and maybe do yoga.... do they think he will do as Sayyid Qutb and write a manifesto denouncing the government and the state of the country as authocratic and undemocratic(rather than Jahiliyya) or what?

UPDATE: Bush, democracy, and the WEF speech

Jeffrey Fleishman also writes about it, and adds:

Nour was on the minds Egyptians on Sunday, when President Bush, speaking in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, criticized Middle East governments for silencing their opponents: "Too often in the Middle East, politics has consisted of one leader in power and the opposition in jail," he said.

I for one could not bring myself to write about the lofty rhetoric from the leader of the free world this time, as i have been in the past, and apparently i wasn´t the only one, albeit for different reasons. If one should take anything that the father of the freedom agenda says seriously it´s surely not his speeches on democracy, it´s far more important to pay attention to what his administration fail to say. Speeking out clearly on behalf of human and political rights, regardless of whom it may involve, would have made people listen, but with a track record full of lofty language and empty words, more often neglected than not on the ground.

Perhaps democracy promotion has been pushed aside by more important security considerations in the post 9/11 world of the Bush administration, but the fact that many of the countries that Bush talked about very harshly in his speech, has been the best of allies when it comes to intelligence sharing and giving more than a helping hand to cater for renditions(even countries percieved as part of the axis of evil helped out, a small clue - they officially started a process of peace talks with their arch enemy today, with a post-islamist government as sponsor for the talks), is probably the most important reason why it´s very hard to be taken seriously on democracy promotion. One can not be both human rights violator,democracy trasher and at the same time promote democracy.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Letter from Burg al Arab prison

This is the letter from the three detained workers from Mahalla, Kamal El-Fayyoumy, Tareq Amin and Karim El-Beheiry who are being held at Burg al Arab prison. This was provided in translation by Amnesiac and Sami Ben Gharbia posted it on Global Voices advocacy. Originally in Arabic by Yasari Masri here

I´ve been meaning to post this yesterday. It´s addressed to the judges club and their dynamic chairman, Zakaria Abd al Aziz. I will post it in it´s entirety below. Burg al Arab is one of the toughest prisons in Egypt, another prisoner of Burg al Arab is of course Abd al Karim Nabil Soliman, aka Kareem Amer, the blogger sentenced to four years on for insulting Islam and the President. His been facing some very rough treatment during his stay at Burg al Arab.

Let´s not forget Kamal, Tareq , Karim and Karim.

We, three political detainees, address the letter below to the Judges’ Club and its head Zakareya Abdel Aziz from the Borg el-Arab Prison in Alexandria…

Dear Sir,

A week has passed on our hunger strike and we are extremely weak. We are appealing to you as the last and only resort for all who have suffered injustice in Egypt.

We would like in the beginning to correct certain information which has reached the press about our (the three of us) having been transferred to the prison hospital as a result of our hunger strike.

The truth is that we are still in prison after the administration refused to call an ambulance to take us to hospital, and as a result of the inability of Karim el-Beheiry and Tareq Amin to stand on their feet - as a result of their extreme weakness. Instead, a “nurse” was summoned to examine Karim, whose condition has seriously deteriorated.

We would like to know the reason why we remain in detention. We will continue the hunger strike until we either die or receive this information.

We were tortured in the state security headquarters in Mahalla on the 6th, 7th and 8th April. Officers tortured Karim using electricity while Tareq Amin and Kamal el-Fayyoumy were insulted verbally and physically assaulted. We then spent eleven days in Borg el-Arab prison in a cell with individuals with criminal convictions. When the Tanta court ordered that we be released we were held for four days in the El-Salam police station [noqtat shorta] situated between Mahalla and Tanta before we were taken to Borg el-Arab prison were we began our hunger strike.

From our detention cell, we call on you and all political currents to take action and apply pressure in order to secure the release of all those detained in connection with the events of Mahalla.
Kamal El-Fayyoumy, Tareq Amin, Karim El-Beheiry
Detained workers from Mahalla
Borg el-Arab Prison
Wing 22, Cell 5

UPDATE: The chairman of the Judges Club, Zakaria Abd al Aziz has written a letter to the Public Prosecutor requesting him to open an investigation into the matter of the three detainees in Burg al Arab.


A second letter from Burg al Arab by Kamal al Fayoumy, Tareq Amin and Karim al Beiheri can be found here (Arabic). This came as an investigation began at the Mahalla Prosecution Office of six workers at the Ghazl al Mahalla factory, in connection with the events of April 6th. The six included Kamal al Fayoumy and Karim al Beheiri from Burg al Arab ,as well as Gehad Tammam, Mostafa Fawda, Gamal Abul Assad and Wael Habib, the last one, being the only one present during the investigations.

He is charged with various offences under Article 124 of the Egyptian Penal Code, including inciting other public sector employees to go on strike, possession of documents, interrupting work in the factory, and conspiring with others to print documents which led to the events of April 6.

Why isn´t Tareq Amin included in the group? And why wasn´t anyone, but Wael Habib present?

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Radio Horytna

The new editon of Qantara takes a look at the Egyptian internet radio station, Radio Horytna. The station was launched in March 20007, with a vision of providing a station for the young generation of Egyptians, that offered discussion on topics important to them, something they felt we´re lacking in the media landscape of Egypt.

Two topics was off limits from the start, talking about the President and the army, otherwise, all things kosher.

The name, Radio Horytna, our freedom signifies what the station wants to be percieved as, Human rights is important, and so are social issues and problems that the young are facing, like unemployment and women´s rights. They have also regularly featured Egyptian bloggers. But they are also catering to what could perhaps be called youth or pop culture in general, having their weekends full with concerts, films and the ins and outs of the pop and filmstars. They also have a cooperation with football websites and and they brodcasted the Pharaos games live during the recent African Cup for instance.

Speaking about the taboo of talking about the President, the Horytna station manager Ahmed Samih says:

It was both a conscious decision and a survival strategy to make discussion of Hosni Mubarak himself taboo. Horytna is trying to create a new awareness of human rights issues. Blindly attacking governmental policy isn't going to help them do that.

"We want to continue to spread our message, not just to go around shouting so that at the end of the day the message doesn't come across. I try to take a long-term view," says Samih, laughing.

Radio Horytna have managed to reach an audience of about 3500 in the 14 months since they launched the station. The 20 journalists working with Horytna is using all the new opportunities to interconnect with their audience, blogs, youtube and facebook, their audience simply don´t use old wawys of communication, this is the only way to reach them, they claim.

Egypt´s 1968-generation?

Ahmed Samih says that there is a spirit of awakening among Egypt´s youth today, and takes the facebook group calling for support for the general strike on April 6th as an example, which managed to get 70 000 members in a couple of days according to the article(64 000 in two weeks and an additional 10-15 in the following month leading up to the rather unsuccesful May 4th demo, author´s note). He views this as something completely new:

He describes it as the country's own 1968 - a whole generation fighting to secure its place in society. "We have never seen a movement like this before in the entire political history of Egypt," says Samih.

I wonder what the students on campuses protesting light sentences for high officers, and heavy ones for the rank and file tried in military courts for their responsibilities during al Naqba(january and October 1968) leading to the proclamation of the March 30th Manifesto by the government or the student protests in 1972 over the year of in(decision) toward Israel, when they staged a sit-in at Midan al Tahrir in January. The bread riots of January 1977 is another example of (among other things)youth reaction to social ills in society. This is but a few examples in the not to distant past.

The staff at Radio Horytna voices concern about possible restrictions on the internet in Egypt in the future, but it dosen´t seem to deter them. Presenter Muhammed Ezz al Din concludes with a quote by one of the greatest Islamic philosophers, Ibn Rushd/Averroes :

"Thoughts have wings. No one can stop them flying."

The same quote was used in Youssef Chahine´s film al Masir(Destiny), in that context as a response towards the militant islamist groups, Islamic Jihad and the Ga´maat al Islamiyya´s attack on intelectual and cultural life in the beginning of the 1990´s.

UPDATE: Oct 10th - Daily News Egypt has a profile on Muhamed Ezz al Din by Ghada Sharif.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Important piece by Knickmeyer/Younis on Ahmed Maher and Facebook

WaPo has a piece this morninng by Knickmeyer/Younis on Ahmed Maher and Facebook activism in Egypt. I¨ll write more later, but do take some time to read the story.

Good work Ellen & Nora!

More on Ahmed Maher´s ordeal here.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Baheyya on myths about protest

Baheyya is back with a new piece. As always she offers us the wider perspective, which is a scarce commodity these days. A must read - Four Myths about Protest.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Mona al Shazly interview with Dubya

Here is the much talked about interview
that 10 PM´s Mona al Shazly on dream TV did with George Bush earlier this week in the map room of the White house. It´s only 8 minutes and four questions. On the relations between the U.S and Egypt and the situation for democracy in Egypt. Israel and Palestine as Israel celebrates 60 years since the state came in to being and the Palestinians commemorate al Naqba. Then the question if he still believed in the ¨You´re with us or against us¨ dogma. And then the perception of many Arabs , that the U.S helped in creating the current situation and on how history will judge George W Bush´s legacy as President. The interview is in Arabic, but the White house transcript can be viewed here

I also throw in an interview with Mona herself on how this interview came about. This was done prior to airing the interview with the President.

There is a second part of the show after the interview, a discusssion with the Egyptian ambassador to Washington Nabil Fahmy and an interview with carnegie scholar Dr Amr Hamzawy talking about the interview and US policy towards Egypt, i will post it here as soon as i get my hands on it. There is also a two part interview with former American ambasador to Cairo , Francis J. Ricciardone in Middle East Progress that could be useful for context here(Part I) and here(Part II). The first part is on Egypt´s regional role and the second part on domestic issues.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Hamzawy/Herzallah part II

In April, Amr Hamzawy and Mohammed Herzallah wrote a Carnegie Policy Outlook paper on the local elections in Egypt. I wrote about it in a blogpost . Yesterday the
duo penned an article for WaPo´s Think Tank Town, with the title: Egypt's Unrest in Perspective.

A sample:

Remarkably, the regime seems to have abandoned the option of using political reforms to defuse socioeconomic tensions. Instead it has consistently tried to contain social strife through a combination of repressive measures that included arbitrary arrests, and minor economic conciliatory measures like expanding the welfare beneficiary pool and raising wages in the public sector. This stands in contrast to what happened in the 2003-2005 period. The political openings of those years followed the economic difficulties the country was experiencing as a result of the government's decision to float the national currency. Among the political reforms introduced in this period was eased control over opposition activities, constitutional amendments allowing multicandidate presidential elections, and toleration of political participation by the major Islamist opposition movement, the Muslim Brotherhood.

A similar wave of political reforms by the regime seems far less likely today, as a trouble-free presidential succession, anticipated for 2011, seems to surpass any other considerations. In fact, developments on the ground suggest that the regime has completely recoiled from the reform agenda and returned to old authoritarian habits.

In the next paragraph Hamzawy and Herzallah mentions the 34 amendments of the constitution(the most thorough change in the current constitution since it was introduced in September 1971), rushed through parliament, before taken to a referendum in March 207 as a serious blow to political reform. It was more than that, it was the Dance of Death for top-down controlled political reform for the foreseeable future, that is post-succession, presumably sometime after 2011. What was packaged and introduced to the people of Egypt as the single most important part of political reform, was in fact the complete opposite. It was an integral part in creating the political infrastructure for a de facto continuation of the dominant party within the ¨democratic facade¨ system that has been serving it´s purpose since the re-introduction to multi-party life in Egyptian politics in 1975-76. Creating a chimera of political reform within the existing system, while closing down practically all avenues for the Muslim Brotherhood, who runs in elections as Independents.

It will also limit other Independents from having a fair chance of getting elected. This will of course also have a side effect in terms of fixing the current problem within the NDP with renegade members of parliament not deemed necessary or good enough for re-election on the NDP ticket whom until now, has had the option of running as Independents against the official NDP-candidate in his constituency(the only reason for me chosing the masculine form is to show the lack of female candidates , despite the rhetoric of the higher NDP-officials) , and in many cases upset the official party candidate in the past two parliamentary elections of 2000 and 2005. Clearing the path for people with ¨new vision¨ .

Nothing in the last 14 months suggests a change in that patern, the way the two elections held after the amendments , Shura and local elections was conducted leaves in terms of obstructing the MB as well as the legal opposition from participating. The prolonged military court case of Khairat ash Shater and harsh verdicts. The way of dealing with the opposition press, bloggers, labour activists and facebookists is indeed no new policy. It´s the new vision , with the same old spectacles. If anything the patern has become clearer.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Qawkab ash Sharq on NPR

NPR has a 13 minutes piece on Umm Kalthoum here. Interviews with the director of the Umm Kalthoum museum, Dr Walid Shousha and Virginia Danielson , whom has written Umm Kulthum: A Voice Like Egypt on the star, it´s also available in a DVD version here.

Danielson says that in order to describe the lady and how popular she was(and still is) you have to think of the musical tops of Ella Fitzgerald combined with the public persona of Elinor Roosevelt and the audience of Elvis Presley - it´s pretty much what i usually say when being asked the question of her popularity, though i would say that if you combine the popularity of Elvis, the Beatles and Michael Jackson(in the 80´s, before turning bad), then perhaps you will begin to grasp her popularity, callled the fourth pyramid, the only name that perhaps can match her in Egypt during the last 60 years of Egyptian history is Nasser´s. Maybe it´s no coincidence that their respective careers were so intertwined. Her career was huge prior to the 1952 revolution, but she would probably not have been able to transcend the boundaries of Egypt and become the Arab diva of her generation, if not for the parallel political change in the Arab world with Nasser as it´s undisputable leader from 1956-67, and the importance of the radio station Sawt al Arab, that in some way was the equivalent of al Jazeera today, in terms of impact. at the time, her song "Walla Zaman Ya Selahy" (Oh, My Weapon) was the national anthem from 1960 to the Camp David accords 1979.

Her most popular songs are anta oumri and al atlal, and she is the definite voice of her century in Egypt. More about her life and music can be found here, here, here and here.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

HRW Statement on Ahmed Maher

Human Rights Watch issued a statement on Ahmed Maher two days ago. It urges the Egyptian authorities to investigate the case.

On May 7th, the facebook activist´s car was stopped on the street and he was pulled into a minibuss by eight-12 men in civilian clothes. He was handcuffed, blindfolded and taken to the New Cairo(al Qahira al Jadida) police station were he was stripped naked, and subjugated to beatings, mostly on his back and neck.

After roughly three hours he was taken to the SSI headquarters at Lazoughli(Mabahes amn ad Dawla), were he was once again stripped to his underwear and threatend to be raped, and beaten off and on while being asked for the password, and details of group members of the April 6th facebook group.

According to Maher, the SSI officers used lotion on his body in between beatings in order to reduce bruising.

He was released before dawn the next day, May 8th, so he was held for about 12-14 hours, without being charged for anything.

Joe Stork , Deputy Director of the Middle East at the HRW views this as part of a pattern:

“This is the work of thugs, pure and simple.The government must show that those responsible for upholding the law are also subject to the law. Sadly, Maher’s treatment is part of a pattern of abuse and extralegal intimidation by state officials. Egypt needs to put an end to the lawlessness of its law-enforcement officers.”

The occurence of the incident was denied by an Egyptian security official who asked to remain anonymous according to AFP.

Unfortunately the pattern that Stork talks about is as crystal clear as the Alexandria summer sun, we have grown all too familiar with cases like Qandil, Sharqawi, ash Shaér and Imad al Kabir ower the last years, only to name but a few. unfortunately this is most likely, only the tip of the iceberg. Most cases still remain behind the sun.

UPDATE: Amira al Husseini has a roundup of the case here, with a video-clip with Ahmed showing how the upper part of his body looked like after having spent 12 hours at al Qahira al Gedida police station and SSI headquarters at Lazoughli.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ya sitt ad Dunya , ya Beirut

Majda al Roumi sings Nizar Qabbani´s poem Ya Beirut.

This will be cross-posted on diwan of democracy

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Wael Abbas recieves the Hellman-Hamlett Award

The Egyptian blogger/journalist Wael Abbas has recieved the Hellman-Hamlett Award from the Human Rights Watch. Here some more information on the award(no press release yet on the current award winner).

1000 Mabrouk ya Wael!

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Monday, May 05, 2008

Qubri Qasr al Nil

I just love this photo, and someone i know will love the story as well. This is for you lah.

Can somebody spot the birthday kid?

Another very nice photo comes from Further to fly. Make sure to check out the rest of his Cairo set as well! I would like to thank Whirlpool for pointing me in the right direction to this photo.

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May 4th

This is just a superquick and very sketchy and lacking picture of yesterday´s events.

The authorities seem to have focused on the infrastructure of spreading information. Already yesterday there was some problems with the Muslim Brotherhood arabic website Ikhwhan online, today harakamasriya(Kefaya´s website was blocked for Egyptian visitors. Facebook was reported to be working slower than usual among users who have state affiliated tedata as internet provider. Both Mobinil and vodafone mobile phone companies requested their users to register to be able to use sms services. some experienced problems of accessing and posting on twitter.Reuters journalist Cynthia Johnston adds some information about vodafone and mobinil´s sudden change of policy here.

Journalists was stopped from entering Mahalla. Newsteams from BBC and al Jazeera were amoong those, the hotels had been warned not to take in any foreign journalists. Cars with Cairo numberplates was not allowed in to town. Telephone and internetlines from the city was temporarilly cut off. Some arrests might have taken place.

In Cairo, the demo at the lawyers syndicate galvanized only the usual Kefaya diehards of 15 to 40, and was as always outnumbered by police and plainclothes police.There was reports of a demo taking place in Shoubra, but on the whole Cairo and Giza was pretty much as any other day, people going on with their business, going to work just as usual.

In Assiut Kefaya and MB students held a demo on campus(photos). A few MB students had ressed in black at Helwan University.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the day was the telegram of congratulations sent by Muslim Brotherhood students at al Azhar to the President and also including ten ways of helping to decrease the difference between the have and have nots in the Egyptian society. In this way continuing a tradition introduced by the the first Supreme Guda Hassan al banna , when in 1936 wrote an open letter to the new boy King Farouk(17 years at the time of his father´s death in April of that year) on the Kings responsibilities as an Islamic leader , and the role of Islam in society.

The impact of the MB taking part is hard to measure, but to call it a success would surely be too much. The skeptic has more here and Sandmonkey here.

Random thoughts in the middle of the night

I think that the critique that Hossam and to some extent Mohammed Sayyed Said give is important and not only in terms of a general strike , but also in the wider sense when working politically. Bloggers in Egypt are very good at campaigning and sawy when it comes to being creative, but in a way we have yet to connect with the people, the opposition parties faces the same problem, to some extent you can blame that on the Emergency law and political parties law that circumsize and limit the possibilities to work as a real party, and not only as a convenient democratic facade or decoré to the NDP. The bloggers has created a somewhat free political space in much the same way that the MB created a political space within the syndicates in the late 80´s and early 90`s. They managed to utilize that space and create inroads to new symphatisers, and not least important to keep old ones. The question is, In what way and how can this space be used in the best way possible, and how does one keep it free and open?

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Dream team of editors appeal postponed until June 7th

The appeal of the four editors, Eissa, Qandil, Hamouda and Ibrashy was postponed until June 7th, when the case was up in the Giza appeals court yesterday. The four was originaly tried in September 2007 and the one-year prison verdict among other similiar verdicts at the same time, triggered a opposition press strike. The reason for the prison sentence was as is quite common in cases against journalists, spreading false information that could harm the public order.

Yesterday was the international press freedom day, and a negative verdict would perhaps not be in the best of Egypt´s interest, especially the day before the state is under scrutiny, due to the general strike, called by parts of the opposition on the birthday of the President. although one has to remember that this has not stopped the Egyptian judiciary from celebration press freedom day in their own way. A year ago, Huwaida Taha was sentenced to six months in prison on that very day.

To be continued...

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Happy birthday Mr President

Part I

As promised, here is the al Jazeera english documentary, a nation in waiting (two parts)on President Husni Mubarak´s time in office from October 1981 onwards. He´s currently on his fifth six year mandate, that ends in September 2011. The fourth President of the Egyptian republic, the other ones have left office with their boots on like General Custer(Nasser and Sadat), or been dethroned and put in house arrest(Naguib).

Part II

Just to let you know, whom inspired the Shaábi celebrations of the President this year, this is a birthday card from 2006.Well it wasn´t really me who came up with the idea. presidential birthday wishes, pre and post election praise e.t.c is a favourite national past time, excelled by the national press since the nationalization of the press in 1960. Today was a field day, were they could display their skills. There was one mysterious exception to that rule. One of my favourite newspapers of all times, the english Egyptian Gazette, they didn´t carry the story at all, either they have jumped fence, or they just abide strictly to the will of the information ministry policy.

Part III

I wish the President a happy birthday and a long life after finishing his current term in office 2011, to retire to beautiful and Charming Sharm.

UPDATE: Appearently the President opted to celebrate in Madinat al Sadat(Sadat City) instead, the city was among the first of the satelite cities that was created in the mid seventies. A working birthday it seems.

Part IV

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Saturday, May 03, 2008

al Jazeera focus on bloggers and Egypt

On wednesday night al Jazeera broadcasted a documentary on bloggers in the Arab World, most of it focused on Egypt, but also on Iraq and Morocco.

Interviews with Nora Younis, Wael Abbas and Hossam al Hamalawy as well as Karim al Beheiri and Khadija Hassan Malek , Karim of course is currently in the Burg al Arab prison after what took place in Mahalla on April 6-7th. Khadija´s father has just been handed a seven-year prison sentence in a military court, were 25 Muslim Brothers got prison sentencences between 2-10 years. Khadija together with the other children of the 40 tried Muslim Brothers created the blog Ensaá to tell the world about the case and the ordeal the families of the detainees, and first and foremost to say that ¨we won´t forget¨

Bouthayna Kamel from is also being interviewed, and clips from and the very good documentary about the organization is shown in the documentary.

Last but certainly not least, the person who showed so much courage to come forward with his story about how he was tortured inside a police station, Imad al Kabir is also interviewed.

It´s very much a story of how the Egyptian blogosphere has matured and developed during the last three years from 25th of May 2005 to Mahalla and beyond, going from blogging alone to playing a significant role in society as an alternative news provider, giving perspective from a vide spectrum on important issues in society and as proven in cases like the mass assaults on girls in downtown Cairo, Emad al Kabir and Mahalla it has grown to citizen journalism.

al Jazeera English has another documentary on Egypt tonight, Saturday at 19:00 GMT, and re- runs on Sunday 0000, 0500 and 1000GMT, it´s called a Nation in Waiting and takes a look on the major events during President Mubarak´s 26 years and seven months in power, which is almost a third of his life, he is also the longest serving head of state since the father of Modern Egypt ruled between 1805-1848. The President celebrates his 80 birthday tomorrow, presumably in Sharm al Sheikh.

I will post it here as soon as it comes available on the net.

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