Friday, June 27, 2008

Global Voices Citizen Media Summit

The Global Voices Citizen Media Summit began in Budapest, Hungary yesterday and continues today. Summit presentations are broadcasted live here. Liveblogging of sessions by GV-authors can be found here. You can also follow it on twitter here and the program for the summit here.

From the Egyptian blogosphere, Alaa abd al Fatah, Wael Abbas and Elijah Zarwan are attending the Budapest summit. Liz Henry at blog her has more on Alaá´s presentation, especially on the segment on Noha Atef of al Tatheeb fi Masr(Torture in Egypt).

Global Voices means a lot to me, and httpi was introduced to it by a media scholar friend of mine, very early on. It´s very very close to my heart, and it´s been a very close friend to the Egyptian blogosphere during both rough and joyeous times in the recent past.

Here are some photos from the event by Elijah, Rebecca, and Neha.

Ethan , Rebecca, Sami, Solana, Amira and everybody else at GV, hope that all of you will have a very productive and successful summit!


BBC Radio 4 show, IPM was covering the summit. You can listen to it here, Aláa and Wael is being intervied among others.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Albert Cossery dies in Paris

One of Egypt´s most known authors abroad, Albert Cossery died on Sunday, at the hotel Louisiana that had been his home since coming to Paris in 1945.

His eight books has been translated into 15 languages,and always focused on the long gone Cairo of his memories and dreams,and it´s people. His most famous books are Proud Beggars,A Room In Cairo,Men God Forgot," and his last novel, The Colours of Infamy.

"I am and remain an Egyptian of French culture and language, with an Egyptian universe," he added. "That is why my books only make reference to my country of birth."

In Paris he always lived in the same room at the Louisiana hotel on Rue de Seine, free of all belongings bar his clothes. "To attest to one's presence on Earth, you don't need a car," he said.

Cossery was born in 1913 and died at the age of 94.

I´ll try to write a bit more on this later.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

World refugee day

Today is the World Refugee Day. Please give the 37.4 million refugees around the world a thought today. 11.4 million of them have fled their countries and 26 million are internally displaced. The increase of refugees during 2007 alone, was 2.5 million. Coumbia tops the list of internally displaced refugees with 3 million IDP´s Iraq has 2.4, million and Somalia 0.6 million and Sudan 0.5 million.

Iraq alone has about 5 million refugees, about half of them living abroad. Afghanistan has 3.1 million refugees, most of them living in Pakistan that is the largest refugee country with 2 million refugeees, followed by Syria with 1.5 million refugees, Iran 0.96 million, Germany 0.58 million and Jordan 0.5 million.

As you can see most refugees live as internally displaced or in neighbouring countries.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

FIDH annual Report on Human Rights 2007

The International Federation for Human Rights isssued their annual report on the state of Human Rights around the globe today.

The three pages on Egypt highlights the constitutional amendments, the neverending emergency law and the coming anti-terrorism law. It points out the cases of Ibrahim Eissa and Abd al Kareem Amer to illustrate the situation of journalists and bloggers. Restrictions on NGO´s examplified in the closure by the authorities of NGO´s dealing with human and workers rights like the Assosiation of Human Rights and Legal Aid(AHRLA) and te Centre for Traqde Union and Workers Services(CTUWS)is another important topic in the report.Outside the timeframe of this report, The case of the government against CTUWS has been ruled as without merit by the Administrative Court in Giza on March 30th 2008, and the court has stated that there is nothing legally stopping the CTWS from being handed their NGO-status. The authorites has yet to comply as to my knowledge.

The whole section of the report, dealing with North Africa and the Middle East can be found here(26 pages PDF, Egypt on pages 9-11)

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

ICG Report on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt´s political landscape

A new International Crisis Group paper on how to bring about, and further the integration of the Muslim Brotherhood into the official political system is out today.

Egypt’s Muslim Brothers: Confrontation or Integration? looks at the possibilities for integration of the Muslim Brotherhood into the political system of Egypt, as part of a reform of the same system. I´ve just recieved it and haven´t had any time to read through it yet, but wanted to share the link to the report, and i´ll try to comment on it further , later. It can be found in it´s entirety here( 24 pages PDF). For those of you who feels that you don´t have the time for the full report, the executive summary and recommendations, and the press release could offer an alternative. Here is an AFP-wire on the report.

Instant Response from the MB

The Muslim Brotherhood Deputy Guide Muhammed Habib has this view on the recomendations of the ICG towards the MB concerning Women and Copts:

Habib responded to the recommendation that advises the group to alter its position on the role of women and non-Muslims in public life saying, “there should be no distinction based on religion or sex in public life. The only criterion is efficiency.”

As to whether the Muslim Brotherhood will review its stance in the party platform on the nomination of women and Copts to presidency, Habib said “we have reached this opinion by consensus, and it should be noted that it is not binding. Anyone can freely nominate him/herself to presidency and the final decision is that of the people. Also we have no problem at all in listening to others’ views on that issue provided they have a solid argument.”

Regarding the MB’s stance towards Christian minorities, he said the MB is keen on the Copts’ vivid participation in political and social life.

“Our Coptic brothers must be engaged in political life because they are an essential part of the Egyptian society who should fully take part in Egypt’s reform and development.”

It sounds nice, but what does it really mean? What is the MB view on this, you have taken a consensus decision, but it´s binding? Once too often you are deliberately vague in my view.

The Muslim Brotherhood had a fantastic opportunity to show people that they believe in a fully pluralistic and democratic society, and to show that they once and for all had laid the politics of symbolics behind them, instead they gave us a platform that showed us that the old guard still rules undisputed. Instead of showing tolerance and the spirit of real national unity, all they could muster was conservatism and more of the same old melody. Let´s face it, as long as people see them self as Muslims and Christians first and Egyptians second, there isn´t going to be a Coptic President , no matter how qualified, but it would mean a great deal as a symbolic gesture for Copts to hear Mahdi Akef or Muhammed Habib state it loud and clear that they believe in equal and inclusive citizen rights without restrictions.

For women it´s not a matter of symbolic gestures, i hope that at least one woman will run for the Presidential office in 2011 and that we will have a lady as President by 2023, maybe i´m naivé, but regardless of that, women´s participation in politics will become routine in the next 20 years or so, and i could easily see Makarem al Deiri, Jehan Al-Halafawy or represetatives of the Ikhwan blogging generation Zaraá Khairat al Shater and Khadija Hassan Malek running both for parliament and for the office of President in the future, that is if you allow them, None of these personalities is less qualified to run than any of the 88 members of parlaiment that currently serve the parliament for the Ikhwan.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Oum Kalthoum : The fourth Pyramid

The new exhibition at the Institut du Monde Arabe opens today in Paris, France. The theme this time is Oum Kalthooum :The Fourth Pyramid.

If you live in the city of light or have the chance to visit Paris during 17 June - 2 November, make sure to add institut du Monde Arabe to your itinerary, just as our Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosni did today(of course Paris is like a second home to him, unlike Israel) Besides Oum Kalthuom, the institute has one of the best views overlooking Notre Dame and a very good book shop!

Some furher information on the greatest musical diva ever can be found here.

Finaly i would like to point to an interview with the lady, just after her legendary concert at the Olympia in Paris made by Egyptian television in this You Tube-clip.

UPDATE: Here´s an article from al Ahram Weekly about the exhibition about the little girl from Tamay whom later in life, enchanted the audience around the Arab World, like no other, neither before, nor after her time.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Youssef Chahine in coma

According to the BBC, Youssef Chahine has lapsed into a coma , after suffering a brain haemorrhage. Chahine has been flown to France for further medical treatment.

UPDATE: Chanine recieved a head injury a forthnight ago, and on saturday he lapsed into a coma. Apparently he was taken to Ash Shuruq hospital at first, where the doctors diagnosed the brain haemorrhage, he was moved to an intensive care unit, and they tried to stabilize it, something that was made difficult due to the fact that Chahine was on blood thinning medicine. The decision was made to take him on a chartered flight out of Cairo with destination,the American Hospital in Neuilly outside of Paris, France.

The 82-year-old "is in a coma following a cerebral haemorrhage," Mohammed Abdel Daher of Ash-Shuruq hospital in Cairo told Egypt's MENA news agency on Sunday, adding that Chahine was in a "serious" condition.

President Hosni Mubarak said that the state would pay for the treatment in homage to Chahine´s contribution to Egyptian Cinema.

Chahine is the only Egyptian film maker with a world wide reputation, and has been in the film making business from 1950, and has given us films like Ibn al Nil(Son of the Nile) in 1951 who got him his firt taste of Cannes, Bab al Hadid 1958(The train Station), Al Naser Sallah ad Din 1963(Sallah ad Din , the Victorious) the filmatization of Abd al Rahman al Sharqawi´s al Ard 1969(the Land), Chanine´s very own Alexandria Quartet, a autobiographical chronicle about his beloved home city and equally his love story with American Film (PDF), beginning with Iskanderiya leh? 1978(Alexandria Why?), Haduta Masriyya 1982(An Egyptian Story) Iskaneriya Kaman wa kaman 1989(Alexandria , Again and Forever) and ending with Iskanderiya-New York(Alexandria-New York) in 2004, Adieu Bonaparte 1985, al Muhager 1995(The Emigrant), al Massir 1997(Destiny), al Akhar 1999(the Other) and his latest, Heya Fawda(Chaos) that recently made box office success, although less so with the critics.

He also played a crucial role in the careers of Egyptian movie Icons and love birds , Omar Sharif and Faten Hamama

More on his films can be found here and here

I´ll be updating as more information becomes available. Here is an old fustat entry on Chahine.

Let´s hope for the best and a speedy recovery for the doyen of Egyptian and Arab film, Uncle Joe.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Ottaway on democracy promotion in the neighbourhood

Marina Ottaway at the Carnegie Endovement has penned a 8-page policy brief on U.S. Democracy Promotion in the Middle East: Restoring Credebility
The full report can be found here(PDF).

I have not had the chance to read it yet, but Marina Ottaway is always worth reading.

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Arabist Review

A new blog in the Arabist family has been launched, the Arabist Review, focusing on culture in Egypt and the Arab World. Ursula Lindsey, a longtime contributor to the Arabist seems to be in charge of this project. Make sure to check it out and bookmark it!

1000 Mabrouk and the best of luck to Ursula & the gang!


Friday, June 06, 2008

Ahdaf Soueif interview

Sarah Carr has an interview with my favourite authour, Ahdaf Soueif in yesterday´s Daily News Egypt. I can see myself in the shoes of the wife getting her divorce, after reading In the Eyes of the Sun, not that i got a divorce after that, but i was totally absorbed by it, and read from back to back, it´s still the ultimate reading experience for me.

“An Egyptian theater troupe once came over to England and I attended their performance.

“Afterwards, one of the troupe approached me and said, ‘I owe you for something.' So I asked him, ‘What?’
“He said, ‘My wife got a copy of ‘In the Eye of the Sun’ and put everything on hold when she started reading it. She sat and read it and read it and read it until she finished it. Then she asked me for a divorce.’”

For all whom enjoy Soueif´s literrary work there are good news, she´s currently working on a new novel, set in pharaonic times, during the Middle Kingdom 4000 years ago.

Those of you who are still not familiar with Ahdaf Souief, or just can´t wait(like me ) for the new novel to come out, can read the Map of Love, that is still selling really good, and is a fantastic story set in the timespan between post Orabi-revolution, and British occupation in the 1890´s to the Dinshaway trial in 1906 intertwined with Egypt in the early 1990`s an epic love story.Aisha or Sandpiper(the two latter is available as one book in a 2007 edition called I think of You.
If you´re interested in her journalistic work, her book Mezzaterra would be a good starting point.

On the current state of Egypt, she says:

“There is a cultural revolution at the moment: there is a lot happening: outlets, El-Sakkia, downtown. But whereas the 1960s was an expression of a spirit of optimism, I think today it’s more about resistance.”

I wrote about Ahdaf Souweif before, it can be found here.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Beheiri , Fayoumy and Amin released from Burg al Arab

Karim al Beheiri , Kamal al Fayoumy and Tareq Tareq Amin, the Ghazl al Mahalla workers that were detained in connection with the April 6th strike was released from the Burg al Arab prison on June 1st.

"We were subjected to electric shocks, to beatings and there was no food and or drink for the first few days," blogger Karim el-Beheiri told AFP a day after his release. "We went through weeks of torture and humiliation."

Beheiri, Tarek Amin and Kamal al-Fayoumy, three worker activists, were arrested on April 6 at the Misr Spinning and Weaving company in the Nile Delta industrial city of Mahalla after riots which left three people dead and hundreds detained.

An interior ministry official confirmed the three had been released but denied they had been mistreated.

"These are false accusations," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity. "Everything took place within a framework of human rights."

I´ve been living in my own bubble for the last ten days , working on a presentation that i had yesterday, so i didn´t hear about it until this instant, more on this as i catch up with this happy piece of news.

Mabrouk Karim, Kamal and Tareq!

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