Tag Archives: Egypt

Suckers for the U.S.Aid

21 Aug

This just gives a reality check to many Egyptians calling for US aid to be cut off as if it is as easy as having some “courage” and an off-and-on button switch, well it is not that simple..
Sisi can’t afford to do so and this article explains why. Don’t hold so much hope in Sisi or SCAF for that matter, who already has military orders lined-up all until 2018, and “whose planes won’t fly and tanks won’t drive without that sustainment money that the $1.3 Billion allocates.”
For Egypt to be independent is for the revolution to win, and more importantly to spread. Relying on an army that has “neglected pilot training so badly that the Egyptian air force has one of the worst crash rates of any F-16 fleet in the world” won’t really “scare off” anyone, but us, the Egyptian people.

It is like a never ending abusive marriage, and we must break the cycle…

A Militarized Media: a dirty war making many of us blind

20 Aug

Ever since the darkest day in Egypt’s history 14 August 2013, when over 800 people were killed by security forces in dispersing the over a month-long pro-Morsy Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins, Egyptians have been under curfew from 7pm to 6am in 10 provinces mostly resorting to TV for information and news.

Over 50 churches have been attacked and burnt in Upper Egypt following the dispersal of the sit-ins, yet very little media coverage on them except when MB are being blamed for it. Some police stations have also been attacked and police brutally murdered in Kardasa, which got the media attention because it villainizes the MB even more than the actual crimes they did commit in the past.

Meanwhile, Sinai has been witnessing its fair share of attacks on various security points and stations over the past weeks, but most recently yesterday, where the media for the first time, aired corpses of 25 conscripts killed and covered in Egyptian flags coming down from a military plane straight from Sinai.

The unrest, clashes and deaths continued reaching the death toll to over 1600 including a number of journalists. Hundreds have been arrested and many are still missing.

On 19 August 2013, 38 additional prisoners were killed in police custody while being transferred to prison. They were killed allegedly with suffocation by excessive tear gas fired inside the truck. The Egyptian media on the other hand, is not really interested in that since the pictures of bodies are extremely graphic, and would suggest to confirm that story and would make MB “victims,” which is the one thing MB are not in the eyes of Egyptians as directed by SCAF’s media propaganda and MB’s long history of crimes and violence.

The very following day, 25 conscripts were killed in Sinai in an armed attacked, which quickly spun the media to erase any speculations about what really did happened to those 38 prisoners killed by suffocation, and almost instantly all media outlets focused solely on the killed conscripts except Aljazeera.

The media has been a crucial player in directing and polarizing the discourse of the unfolding of events in Egypt. We have state media and several privately-owned Egyptian channels that include CBC, Dream, Nahar, Tahrir, Mehwar Sada El Balad, Qahera Wal Nas, and OnTV, all singing the same chorus of SCAF’s version of the discourse of what has taken place in Egypt since June 30th onwards.

More ridiculously, all have put some variation of “Fighting Terrorism” badge permanently on their screens. OnTV and Mehwar channels have even dubbed their 2nd channels with live English translation in hopes of getting the message to the western press, which has been accused of failing to show “MB as terrorists monsters who are burning down and killing Egypt.”

Inciting one-minute promo videos of “Egypt above all” and “The People of Egypt against Terrorism” mixed with two-seconds shots of Youtube videos from the clashes showing armed men attacking others, and rapid Independence- Day background music replaces commercial breaks and puts Bush’s “Fight on Terrorism” campaign to shame.

On the other hand, we have some international and regional media who are picking sides. The most favorite example is Aljazeera and CNN, whom have pre-selected guests that only represent pro-MB’s arguments and ignoring the other camp’s argument.

Aljazeera has streamed almost every MB event since the start of the Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins and been the leading voice of the MB.

On the international level, CNN has become the American version of Aljazeera. Also pre-selecting guests who are mostly on MB’s side and has shown a lack of investigative balanced coverage. I even got a call from CNN to comment on Rabaa’s massacre and when I told the reporter I denounce the massacre, but I am against both SCAF and MB, she said she will call me back, and never did.

Aljazeera has been very unwelcome in general in Egypt lately, but since Rabaa sit-in, it has basically become the MB’s mouthpiece and in return viciously attacked by Egyptian media and on the streets. The Aljazeera in Egypt have had its office closed after security has confiscated cameras since the 3rd of July by police forces following the removal of Morsy.

In addition to the anti-Aljazeera hate posters on the streets, Aljazeera journalists have been banned from state official press conferences and forced out by journalists from conferences at times. Not to mention the Aljazeera journalists Mohamed Badr and Abdullah Al Shaimy unlawful arrests and continuation of their detention.

ajhandresized

“The makers of sectarianism”

To be fair, Aljazeera hasn’t sunk to the level of ONTV. Every now and then it at least invites an opposition figure to comment on the phone and even Hassan Shahin, Tamroud’s spokes person was invited via the phone recently.

One of the main videos circulated on OnTV to show how “Aljazeera is lying and unprofessional” is this video of the Fatth Mosque scene, where hundreds of MB supporters were under siege surrounded by security forces and thousands of “residents” who wanted to basically kill them. The video shows a fire extinguisher being blown from the inside of the mosque, the footage itself doesn’t suggest that tear gas has been fired or why the people inside the mosque used it, but OnTV presenter Youssif El Hussieny chooses to decides for all of us and keeps repeating the image saying that the extinguisher was used to make “tear gas effect” and attacks Aljazeera for fabricating tear gas being used.

Whether tear gas was fired or not, no one knows, but certainly Youssif EL Husseiny doesn’t know. Nor Aljzeera or OnTV wins for fabricating news, they both failed to deliver to the viewer why the extinguisher was used in the first place (since that’s the only thing visible in this footage) or provide the evidence that supports their report.

It also doesn’t help when some of the subjects you are reporting on are lairs themselves. Here is a video that was also widely shown on OnTV of course by Youssif El Husseiny over and over of a “wounded person” inside Fattah mosque, who is actually not wounded. As the person removes the hand of the doctor not wanting him to undercover his shirt, the doctor lifts the shirt and we all see that there is no wound underneath the blood stain and it is at best acting. This time is ok to use “liars” Aljazeera footage because it serves OnTV’s propaganda.

On the other end of extremes, some some Egyptians are raving Fox News for being on SCAF’s side and pushing for the same propaganda rhetoric against MB. And of course, none other than OnTV rebroadcasted it to all Egyptian viewers who might have missed it. Here is the video from OnTV’s channel not Fox.

Aljazeera streams live coverage of all MB events and sit-ins while OnTV cheerfully streams live coverage of army arresting citizens breaking curfew and shoving them like sardines in police vans.

The polarization in media is given by two extreme discourses that are ignited by covering-up truths, showing 2-minute videos dubbed with racist and fascist explanations, telling you what you should and should not believe about them. This is done by supposedly “professional” presenters whose job’s titles are professional “journalists.”

Best example is the racist and fascist Youssif El Husseiny of OnTV, who speaks for hours on ONTV and says things like “When our state fights terrorism, we must put human rights to the side.” He invites guests that only applaud his rhetoric.

All the guests on the Egyptian channels are chauvinists political pundits, who are  borderline fascists, promoting sectarianism against MB, inviting vigilant committees to help police and army to catch those “terrorists,” while speaking the words of “conspiracy against Egypt,” and instilling fear in people in order to comply with military rule.

Anyone who speaks of “reason” now, or even takes a position against both MB and SCAF, is labeled a traitor or MB, yeah because MB now is in an insult to some degree.

Those who are not praising the massacring of MB are not “Egyptian” enough to many of those TV presenters. Those who are voicing human rights violations get to be accused of being a “mob” by Youssef El Husseiny live on OnTV, or made fun of on social media.

The actual journalists on the ground who are attempting to get the truth and cover the deadly clashes taking place on a daily basis are like Sarah Carr, who wrote about the scrutiny especially foreign journalists face, are too few to raise the voice of reason over the voices of two extremes.

Simply there is no real coverage of what is happening in Egypt, only smears of half truths spun to either sides’ argument and a majority apathetic to bloodshed. Thankfully, we, at least some of us, still have our brains and can use it to assess the information given by any outlet, analyze it, and may be get a glimpse of the truth.

Many of the videos and pictures either side provides usually says more if looked at after muting the provided explanation given by the presenter. Here is an example, this video has been widely circulated on OnTV, described as “Oh look at what the MBs are doing in Rabaa, getting bodies from under the stage before the police attack,” implicating that MB killed those people during the month-long sit-in and are now moving the bodies as their own killed before the police catches them.

The video actually doesn’t provide you anything close to the conclusion that Khaled Tallima, OnTV presenter, has provided. If you actually ignore his explanation and mute the speakers in the video, all what one will see is people in Rabaa moving dead bodies from one place to another while loud gunfire is being shot in the background. It doesn’t tell you who these bodies are, when they were killed or how, where they were placed or killed and definitely doesn’t tell you by whom by just looking at this 2-min footage. The footage was shot by someone who is overlooking Rabaa and in the background all you can hear, “look at how they are placing the dead bodies on the floor.”

There is endless footage like this, where one simply cannot know for certain the full story. All we are getting are sides of half stories skewed with opinions shoved down our throats, and a blistering pro-SCAF, pro-police state propaganda throughout all media outlets, as if the endless list of vicious crimes committed by police and SCAF have been magically erased from our memories. Well at least for some of us, we still remember and will never forget… here is a reminder

The control through fear may control some of us, but definitely not all of us. If Sisi thinks that we are back in the days, when you can control people through curfews, emergency law, media blackout, and a “terrorism scare,” well, we no longer live in 1990s let alone 1954.

The people will soon get disillusioned in SCAF and see their crimes just like people did under Mubarak and under Morsy. Dictatorships are weak because they rely on instilling fear and the passivity of the people to not revolt. We will not be sedated for long under curfew, soon life will go back to “normal” and we will rise up again, just like every time we thought that the revolution is “dead,” and hopefully, this time we will win.

The Poster That Turned Facebook Yellow

18 Aug

An attempt of showing solidarity with Rabaa massacre, where army and police killed over 600 armed and unarmed protesters, Muslim Brotherhood supporters created a yellow poster showing a palm making the number four, which is because Rabaa also means the number four in Arabic. It only took few minutes that I started seeing some counter or response posters to the original one; some with a sense of humor about it, some are just attacking Rabaa and MB, and some are just because people are bored, and their creativity got the best of them being under curfew. It is snowballing to the point that just out of my timeline feed  on Facebook, I was able to put the gallery below together showing the different ones I found. I am sure there will be endless more. Here is a page full of them!

Photoshop, tragedy, and curfew don’t mix…

Sisi’s Mandate Death Toll

27 Jul

IMG_5803.jpg

Clashes at the Pro-Morsy sit-in in Rabaa resulted in at least 65 deaths (according to health ministry) and 100s injured from attacks by police using the usual excessive tear gas, live bullets, and birdshots, same as the police always used against revolutionaries in all massacres across the 2.5 years of the revolution. This time it came after a mandate “the people of Egypt” gave to Sisi measured by the mass demonstrations on 26 July, of which thankfully i refused to take part. It also came after Safwat Hegazy, one of the leaders at Rabaa sit-in decided to escalate the sit-in by taking it as far as the entrance of the 6 Oct Bridge on Nasr St building a rock wall to block the road pushing forward all the foot soldiers of the MB for the battle sacrificing as he was no where to be seen at the frontline of the battle field.

Even though MB have been in bed with SCAF and police especially in the year of Morsy, i will never justify police killing other citizens while at the same time i will never forgive Morsy who had one year to show any sign that he is willing to change MOI, bring retribution to the martyrs, fulfill any demands of the revolution, or even keep any promise he himself made. If anything, the tear gas and bullets that killed MB supporters was probably shipped/delivered under Morsy to be used against us. On the contrary, Morsy replaced Mubarak’s men with his own or at least attempted and did as much he could, and gave an award to Tantawi (head of SCAF) whom ironically the MB now are denouncing. The MB have accused revolutionaries of being spies of the west, thugs, “bendetta”, you name it defending the very same SCAF they are now want to rage war upon, not to mention the extensive deals they struck with the US administration to stay in power and force the neo-liberal economic agenda through IMF loan shoving it down people’s throats.

If you ask me i want nothing but prosecution to all bastards; leaders of the MB and anyone who committed a crime against another citizen, SCAF (the current one and the old one, they are all the same to me) for all massacres they committed in the name of the “national interest” , old regime Mubarak & his men and the police who massacred people since 28 Jan 2011. But even with all this, i wont praise the seeds of fascism and justify the state killing protesters, even if they are labeled terrorists and are in fact armed.

if they are terrorists and armed, then arrest them, prosecute them, but i won’t give up my rights, and embrace fascism, or my humanity in the name of “national security.” It is clear that the mandate is only to justify more crimes of the regime while letting the real perpetrator be the victims while over 14 officers have been restored to state security. It is not a mandate to “crack down on terrorists”, it is a mandate to crack down on the revolution as a whole. Those who are cheering were never part of the revolution to begin with, those who are apathetic have nothing to offer and are turning a blind eye for the “greater good”, and those who are rejecting both have no choice, but to do so out of principle.  Using violence against MB will only make them have more right to use it against anyone and especially the state, which in return will lead to more repression, so even the rights we gained in the past two years will be given up slowly (by default) in the name of the “greater good.” The state will have more “right” to arrest, torture, and even kill in the name of “national security” by “popular support”.

I don’t have a magical solution to end this dichotomy nor do i have the base power to intervene and change the discourse. All I have is my political stance and my principles that come in whole, against SCAF, MB, and Mubarak’s regime, against all perpetrators who killed and all those who hijacked the revolution!

2012: The Year of Persistence

31 Dec

#Tahrir 25 Jan 2012

Ever since last January when millions took to the streets celebrating one year anniversary past the revolution following deadly clashes in the winter of 2011 and the continuation of iron-fist SCAF rule, and the people have never stopped a day believing in the revolution. We continued despite all the mishaps, weaknesses, and continuous repressions.

Mural dedicated to ultras martyrs -  لن ننساكم

In February, after the Portsaid massacre, people turned to the streets to remind every official that the blood of our brothers will not go in vain and retribution must be delivered. We will fight for freedom & retribution until the last drop of blood in the last person of us. Ever since, football has been put on hold until justice is obtained. I lost an AUC friend in Portsaid, Mogrem, I will never forget your beautiful face, or your loud chants, and your revolutionary spirit, may they all rest in peace.

No Shafiq

During the presidential elections mess, people chose against the flool, people didn’t fall in the trap of Shafique bringing counter-revolution on in full force so bluntly. Even though we are not in a much better position now, but I still believe that the best thing that has happened in the presidential elections mess was for Shafique to lose and for Ikhwan to finally be in power so people can get disillusioned about Ikhwan ways and their true ugly face show, which many back then, more than now, believed that they are “God’s people, they will be good.” Yeah! Try to tell that now to an average man on the street, you most possibly will get hit in the face with a rock. This would not have happened any other way than Ikhwan coming into power, and they are so bad at it that it is good for us; less and less people will choose Ikhwan as the revolution matures (they already have compared to parliamentary votes) and the Ikhwan have hit record-breaking low in just 6 months! Imagine how 2013 will be like? I am very hopeful.

Anti Morsi Protest in Down Town Cairo

Ever since Morsy came to power, the 100 days have passed, all promises were not fulfilled, and the people started rising again. Neoliberal economic policies such as the IMF loan and the World Bank are all signs that Morsy is Mubarak just with a beard, and prays a lot. Since the Mohamed Mahmoud clashes II and the streets have not been still. The loss of Jika, a young man who voted for Morsy, killed by Morsy’s men (police) only few months later, and nothing has been delivered in return; no prosecution, no investigation, nothing. Despite all this people are still revolting and persistent on continuing the revolution.

Presidential Palace - Down with Ikhwan Rule

In November and December, we were dealing with a full force dictatorship with Morsy having more powers than Superman himself; judicial, executive, and legislative in addition to the 1000s of Ikhwan militias who are ready with a push of a button to go, kill, rape, torture, detain, besiege, or beat anyone they are ordered to attack like what happened on the deadly night at the presidential palace on 4 December 2012. We were force fed a dictatorial constitutional declaration, an unrepresentative illegal constitutional assembly, and a referendum in two weeks when millions of Egyptians on the streets and square all across Egypt protesting all these violations and on the eve of a deadly massacre on the brink of civil war between pro-Morsy supporters (Ikhwan & Salafies) and literally everybody else (liberals, leftists, independents, flool, secularists, Christians, all minorities, workers, and even children!).

Tahrir 27 Nov 2012 - التحرير ضد مرسي

Despite all this, we, the people, are applying all the pressure in our hands to object, protest, and revolt against this dictatorship and continuing the revolution until all of our demands are met; bread freedom, social equality. The persistence of the Egyptian people to gain what they revolted for inspires the living hell out of anyone watching Egypt closely, and is feeding into it more strength and hope like never before. I believe that we can and we will achieve those goals, but the road is very steep and long. It reminds me when I used to run cross country, when you know that the coming hill will last for a while and you can no longer feel your legs, but you know that you have to climb it and pass it to reach the peek and then go into free falling limbs lingering downhill so effortlessly and beautifully knowing that, yes, you made it at last.

Morsy is fat in every way, fat in fortune, fat in lies, fat in body, fat in powers, fat in weaknesses, and he grabs his male parts on TV, on the other hand; the revolution is young and persistent, when the two face each other, you know who will win in the end. As dark as these days may seem with possible “bankruptcy,” dictatorial overrule in all ministries and branches of governments, soaring prices and Egyptian pound taking a nose dive, I am still hopeful because I have no doubt that the people will not stand still, we will not accept, we will fight, we will persist on revolting , and we will win because we have given so much to give up now.

Revolution continues with persistence!
Happy New Year

One Night in Gaza

22 Nov

Children of the resistance, Gaza

Ever since I came back from Gaza, I haven’t felt the same. I have been through other traumatic experiences through the revolution, of course nothing like Gaza, but I am even surprised how heart-felt Gaza has hit me. It is like it shattered all my core into little pieces of sadness, not because ‘poor them, people are dying’ feeling, but because i wish we could do more as Egyptians. We are one of the most crucial countries in solving this whole “complicated issue” also known as, the deadly Zionist occupation. After all the path to Jerusalem passes through Cairo, not just symbolically or physically, but politically.

Baby rushed to Shifaa Hospital, Gaza

For Israel to exist, Palestinians must die, this is a fact proved over the last 60 years since Israel’s existence  This is not an even battle field for war, where two countries are fighting over land like most Western media, academics, and pundits insists on explaining the reason behind the deeply rooted conflict. This is a genocide, this is colonialism, this is Zionist imperialism,  where Israel together with the support of the United States administration (all of them) kill, destroy, steal, rape, and expand at any cost in order to simply sustain the Zionist state. I have always believed so, I will always do, and my trip to Gaza reassured this belief even more.

Egyptian Convoy in Gaza, Palestine

After 8 hours on the road from Cairo to Rafah, 4 hours in the Rafah border on the Egyptian side, 2 hours on the Rafah border on the Palestinian side, the 8-bus Egyptian People’s convoy reached Gaza city at Shifaa Hospital, the main and largest medical center in Gaza. We spent the entire night of 7 hours in the hospital and around it hearing the soundtrack of war, Israeli rockets and drones shaking the ground and our hearts with it every few minutes one was dropped on the civilian people of Gaza, injuring mostly children, women, and elders as I saw in the hospital.

Injured Child, Gaza

I can’t even describe in words how that was like, for even an Egyptian who spent most of the revolution on the front lines of the battle field, the war on Gaza shook me to the core of my soul on every level. It was the first time I experience how a rocket feels when it hit near by five minutes after we reached the Rafah Border Port on the Palestinian side, I literally almost fell over from the impact. Israel was attacking Gaza from sea and air while the buzzing sound of drones never stopped all the time we were there. Gaza was seemed like a ghost town, pitch black, only the light of our buses lit the road. Power kept going off every hour leaving us in a pitch black night with our uncertain future and Gazans’ resilience & courage to carry us through the intense night.

ER at Shifaa Hospital, Gaza

Once we reached Shifaa hospital we were greeted with ear-to-ear smiles from Palestinians, who were so happy to see that some Egyptians would risk their lives at a time of war to bring them solidarity. What they didn’t realize was how much each Gazans we met lifted our spirit and gave us more power to fight than any solidarity we may have brought them. I went into the hospital expected to find sad faces, miserable people who have just lost their families, but I was amazed at how every doctor, nurse, volunteer, injured patient, and family was in the highest revolutionary spirit full of strength, courage, resilience, and determination against the Zionist occupation.
It was as if every drop of blood gave them more fuel to fight and optimistic that they themselves are still alive despite the harshest conditions to live in anyone can possibly imagine. This is exactly what brought me to tears a lot of times because we, as Egypt, could be doing much more to lift the blockade on Gaza and support the resistance in every way we could; it is not only our duty, it is in our very own interest and security.

Israeli Rockets hitting Rafah, Palestine

The continuation of same-old Mubarak policies when it comes to Palestine will no longer be tolerated. Egypt post revolution especially with a president, who phrases himself on being ‘pro Palestine and revolutionary’, must and ought to take radical steps in support of Palestinians against Israel. Symbolic change like recalling our ambassador or even evicting the Israeli ambassador in Egypt was our demand since 2000 if not even before! We must cut all ties with Israel, we must open the Rafah border for all goods and people without any strings attached, and we must end the Camp David accord even with a referendum.

This is the least we could do and anything Morsi does less than those three things would simply be bogus.

The full photo album of my trip to Gaza

American University in Cairo Crisis 2012 – “Occupy AUC”

29 Sep

In Front of HUSS Bldg

[From custodial workers strike in fall 2010, increased wages 100% & established the AUC Independent Syndicate]

In the past few days, AUC has witnessed a crisis that was faced with mixed reactions from the AUC community as well as the student movement as a whole, and this is simply due to the complexity of the nature of AUC student politics and what led to these current events. Since the move to New Cairo Campus from the Tahrir campus, AUC has witnessed several student actions including protests against the lack of and the quality of facility services in 2008, sit-ins and strikes by workers together with students regarding wage and contracts in fall 2010, and most recently in 2011 a student movement sit-in together with different sectors of workers within the university regarding wages, contracts, impeaching some corrupt officials, tuition caps, limit to the increase of tuition fees, and investigating the overall corruption. In all of the last three recent cases of students and/or workers actions, there were always a good number of faculty, staff, students, workers, and alumni actively taking part each time and an overall support and solidarity from the entire AUC community in finding solutions to the matters of concern.

This year’s students action has started in the beginning of the fall 2012 semester on 2 September with a campaign called “mosh dafe3,” which means “we won’t pay” during the drop-and-add week when the administration broke the agreement made in last year’s sit-in, which promised no more tuition increase on returning students. However, according to a student leader in these recent student action of closing all New Cairo campus gates with chains, Mohamed Hassan known as Antak said, “only 4 % didn’t pay, while the rest of the students paid tuition in fear of the university dropping their classes.” The second week of classes some students also mobilized in form of protests and marches within campus wearing vendetta masks calling for the removal of the 7% fee increase, but the administration failed to adhere to the demands of the students.

AUC students march campus against increased fees with Vendetta masks beginning of semester

As a result, a group of students felt that it was appropriate to escalate the pressure on the administration by shutting down the gates to return the 7% increase already paid, locking out students, faculty, staff, and all members of the AUC community from entering the New Cairo campus starting on 16 September 2012 as shown in these videos:

The group, who took control of chaining down the gates locking out all community members were no more than maximum 50 people according to the various eyewitnesses who were present.As a result the university suspended at least 5 students one of which was the Student Union Vice President Nazar El Zanaty, and after the first hearing held on Tues 18 Sep, the 5 students were allowed to enter campus and attend classes while the investigation was ongoing. When many opposed this method not necessarily the valid demands, the group controlling the gates calling themselves “Yes We Can Occupy AUC” started an online petition on 18 September 2012, which reached 2,838 signatories by 26 September 2012, in support to close the gates. On Saturday 22 Sep 2012, in attempt to lift the siege on campus after already suspending 5 students on Thursday 20 Sep 2012, the administration removed at least two of the gates to the AUC campus by the evening, which made students supporting gate closure furious. In return, the students built and put on back the gates to ensure the lock down of the university until all the demands are met.

On Sunday 23 Sep 2012 a group of students protested in front of AUC gates with a banner against closing the gates in addition to some faculty, who denounce the gate closure mechanism as it is: a) an infringement on others’ rights, b) not a collective decision by all or at least most members of the AUC community, and c) was not preceded by other legitimate escalating protesting methods such a strike or a sit-in.. Some of these professors include faculty such as Dr. Hani Sayed, Dr. Hanan Sabea, and Dr. Rabab El Mahdi, who have been actively involved and in support of every student mobilization in the recent years, also who fully support the valid demands put forth by the students. At some point in the day, a clash broke out at gate two between few of those professors previously mentioned and few students, who refused to open the gates, thus a staff member, Tarek Maghrabi, head of the AUC independent syndicate founded in 2011 following the successful workers strike in fall 2010, intervened to open the gates with a key he had, later student Ahmed El Demerdash filed a police report against Tarek Maghrabi accusing him of possessing a knife, which Maghrabi denied. A testimony by the AUC Independent Syndicate was published which states most of the details. Hisham Shafiq, in person, confirmed El Demerdash assault on Maghrabi out side the prosecutor and actually defended El Demerdash’s claims and “rights.”

The administration’s reaction was to suspend classes at first each day the gates were closed by the students since 16 Sep and then later the whole operation was suspended on 23 Sep. Several negotiation meetings between the administration and AUC community representatives have been conducted in order to find a solution to meet the demands. However, the stance of the “Occupy AUC” students that they will not negotiate nor open the gates until their two demands met, which are: 1) 7% fee increase to be returned to the students in form of deposits in each student’s account. 2) Tuition cap models to be effective immediately. President of the university Lisa Anderson has rejected the first demand saying that “it is impossible since budget is already in effect.”

Regarding the tuition caps she said that “3 models will be presented on November 15th to the students from which they may choose.” On the other hand, a preliminary agreement was reached between some students, who don’t represent “Occupy AUC” nor the official Student Union, and the administration with the presence of some alumni and Parent Association representatives in an attempt to defuse the deadlock. This preliminary agreement is represented in a form of list of updated demands the administration have confirmed its commitment, at least verbally, to work on implementing it. The highlight of these demands accepted are: The reopening of financial aid to all student as of now, 3 tuition cap models to be presented to students on November 15th, corruption committee to be formed to investigate the budget including expenses without signing a nondisclosure agreement, deferred payments to be paid in installments with no interest rate, and more student representation in committees that take financial and educational quality decisions.

As of Friday 28 September 2012, the Student Union and the “Occupy AUC” group have rejected or at least not signed this agreement, which leaves the situation at a standstill. However, groups of students started to organize and call for alternatives such as the AUC Front and For The Cause, Not The Method group in addition to efforts made by the-under-establishment AUC Alumni Association all in order to solve the core problem of financial transparency and end the siege by the few on the New Cairo campus. There are also attempts to call for opening of the gates while negotiations are finalized by an online petition against closure of gates signed by total of 880+ members of AUC as well as a conjoined statement to the AUC community adopted by the AUC Front.

“Occupy AUC” is NOTt a strike or a mass movement or a civil disobedience act  by any loose definitions of these terms. A group of 100 students assumed that simply by collecting 2,000+ signatures on an online petition to impose actions on thousands of other students, staff, faculty and workers by locking down campus gates with chains while verbally and physically assaulting other members of the AUC community at times, is a “revolutionary” act when in fact, it is exactly the opposite and unjustifiable under these circumstance. This act is completely unacceptable by the standard of any legitimate act of protest in demanding rights. The students’ demands are and have been acknowledged from all sides to be valid and legitimate, if not revolutionary in the history of AUC student movement; however, the tactic used, in this particular case, can never be justified nor defended. Substitutionism can never replace the power of mass action. Students could have expanded their movement and mobilized others to make the decision to put the campus on standstill by a collective force instead of making it by the few with the help of chains, locks, cars, and intimidation. The exercise of power delivered by the few number of students controlling the gates raises one important question: why would a small group of students insist on closing the AUC gates by force despite that a preliminary agreement has been reached, and endorsed by different community members? Should infringing on other people’s rights ever be considered as a “revolutionary” or even a legitimate act when in the context of substitutionism? The answer lies in Lenin’s Left-Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder.

The American University in Cairo has been going through a crisis that led to severe fractures within our community and has damaged many of the values upon which the AUC student movement was founded upon when workers, staff, alumni, students, and faculty stood in solidarity with one another in any member’s struggle until all rights were achieved. I urge the students at the gates to accept the preliminary agreement, but not to stop in demanding more and persisting that all demands are implemented. This can only be achieved by opening the gates, accepting the preliminary agreement, but, and this is the crucial part for the movement to become legitimate, is to continue in uniting the different sectors of the university on the demands and not the actions, mobilizing others through debates, awareness, and forums, inviting others who are dedicated to the cause and pressurizing the administration with this unbreakable united front of all members of the AUC community through the various collective legitimate means and escalations. The power of the masses is greater than any chains holding our freedom to education.

Playlist of collected VIDEOS from 16 Sep – 23 Sep 2012

AUC Crisis collected testimonies from past week’s events

Arabic version of report available
«احتلال الجامعة الأمريكية»
مطالب مشروعة ولكن…

Elections under play

17 Jun

Elections Under SCAF

When I would get ready to attend a protest before the revolution, my father would tell me, “nothing will ever change, Mubarak and his regime will stay the same forever, you are just wasting your energy and risking your life for nothing.” I would respond, “every little demonstration is a stepping stone in a long-term process called a revolution that will end this regime.” I still believe that every mobilization is an essential piece of the puzzle to topple the regime.  The revolution started and without one single group leading it, we managed to kick it off. What will take to achieve the revolution’s goals is another important question that we must start answering. We, revolutionaries, spent a year and half boiling our energy in reaction, in mobilizing to achieve the goals we set out on 25 January 201, yet only few things have been achieved. One sure gain is that Mubarak is out, put on trial, and now in Tora prison facing a life sentence. Even though nothing less than death to the dictator would have satisfied my anger, I can’t say that I am not happy to see him suffer his last days in a prison hospital.  As for the rest of the murderers who are free, their day shall come when they will suffer just like they tortured many Egyptians.

Elections are finally finishing up with major expected disappointments and setbacks on the political road to “democracy.” I never expected any elections under military rule to achieve any results satisfying the revolution. Elections engineered and constructed by SCAF (Supreme Council for Armed Forces) can never produce revolutionary or even reformist accomplishments, only will result outcomes that would suit counter-revolution and its allies. History tells us too soon of elections are always used to bury revolutions. We are not the first by any means. Whether Romania, Chile, Portugal, or Bolivia, we can draw parallel where military junta institutionalized militarization and strengthened counter-revolution. We can go back and assess where “we went wrong” or where we could have done better, but one thing is clear, elections were inevitable since the regime is still in place since 1952.  Sooner or later elections would have happened, conducted by the same old regime, benefiting the organized groups sufficient enough to run and win elections. In the case of Egypt; the Muslim Brotherhood and the National Democratic Party (the regime’s political arm).

The truth is the revolution has no machine, no organized group, no political party sufficient enough to adopt the revolution’s goals and capable of fighting the two most organized and biggest threatening machines to the revolution, the NDP & MB and SCAF. This is partially our fault yet partially out of our control for the many decades we were politically silenced under Mubarak. Many of the revolutionaries got politicized with the revolution or slightly prior to the revolution giving a major lead to the organized groups already existing under the repressive regime.  This explains the great success of Islamists in parliamentary elections and in the first round of presidential elections despite their decreasing popularity on Egyptian streets due to their reactionary and opportunistic agenda that clearly contradicts with revolutionary goals.

What is to be done? We organize. Aside from fighting for civil liberties, constitution that reflects revolution principles, and for ending military authority in daily life, we must build our alternative power, our machine that will and can topple this regime once and for all.  As a revolutionary socialist, I believe that the only group of society that has the power to topple this dictatorship is the workers.  We must organize the working class. For this revolution, it is a matter of success or defeat. When I am talking about the working class, I am not only referring to the traditional blue collar worker at a factory, but I am referencing anyone who sells his or her hours to earn a wage. This includes doctors, teachers, public and private employees, those who have the power to put the country at a halt like the last 3 days of the 18 days in the revolution. The workers were the final bullet in Mubarak’s chest, and are the only ones who can finish off SCAF.

The Festival of Flool #EgyElections

17 May

During the Egyptian Circus represented as “The First Democratic Presidential Election in the Arab Word,” which is untrue by the way, the first was in Mauritania in 2008, you will encounter the funniest and most creative ways people have used to expose the flool (figures from the Mubarak regime) candidates in attempt to prevent them from being “elected.” As many people have zero hope in this fake-democracy packaged in a ballot box, Egyptian people have always resorted to humor to make a point in a time of desperate need for counter-media.

The wide range of mediums used to expose the most popular flool Shafik and Mousa beside the “Spare,” also known as Ikhwan’s 2nd choice Morsy, are photos, cartoons, songs, YouTube videos, and my favorite graffiti

Exhibition A: The “Spare” Mohamed Morsy of the Ikhwan, who came as a second choice after business tycoon Al Shater was disqualified.

Morsy is your “Spare” president, the puppet of Ikhwan

  Morsy as a “Spare” LOL

Exhibition B: “The Pullover is Not Over” represented in Ahmed Shafik, the luckiest last prime minister Mubarak appoints before enjoying a 5 stars stay at a 5 stars hospital. He is the funniest and easiest to make fun of and expose. Every time he speaks, I feel like comedy movies could be drafted. His posters almost every where have been either ripped or flool written all over them, but my favorite is the flool song and graffiti.

Graffiti stencil saying “Vote for Shafik for an even bloodier camels battle” referring to Shafik’s presence in Mubarak’s cabinet during the bloody 2 Feb 2011

This is mimicking the famous Om Kalthoum song saying that the East build civilizations where Shafik built the airport himself on his own.

Shafik flool and Zionist

Exhibition C: “Mr. X” represented in the most obvious flool, the candidate of all elite in Egypt including Sawiras and I am sure if USA and Israel had a love child, it would be Moussa with a smaller frog face. He has received the most anti-flool propaganda. It is a tie between Shafik and Mousa, but since Mousa is more likely to succeed so the concentration is more when it comes to the obvious level of floolness.

Mousa flooling around back in the day

Cartoon by Ashraf Omar depicting Mosa looking in the mirror trying to convince himself he is not flool.

“The students of Mubarak can not be president, no flool”

It will be “kossa” a term meaning zucchini, but usually means rigged

This video can not be translated because the humor is just too relevant to Egyptian slang that it wouldn’t make sense in English but trust me, it is the funniest thing !!

Mona: Why Do You Hate Us?

25 Apr

Women's march in Tahrir #April20

At any given moment in the Egyptian revolution, or the Arab Spring for that matter, the question of women or the role of women arises. I cannot recall the number of emails, and questions I usually get, mostly from foreign journalists, about the “role of women in the Egyptian revolution.” My answer is (if i ever answer at all) usually the same and consist of something like “women have been fighting in the forefront of the struggle paving the way to this revolution. They have been beaten, tortured, stripped naked, imprisoned, sacked from their jobs and much more just as much as men if not more including getting their virginity checked. However, they are not acting as one block of women, but rather as revolutionaries or ordinary people fighting for the revolution’s demands: freedom, dignity, social equality.”

It might take some aliens to not understand this, especially as an Egyptian, even for an Egyptian living abroad who visits Egypt a lot for some people. If any of these journalists who usually ask this question happen to have joined one protest or one strike, he or she would immediately know that women are the backbone of this revolution. In my experience, the most militant, radical, brave people I encountered in this revolution happened to be women. Samira Ibrahim, Aida Seif Al Dawla, Layla Sweif, Rasha Azab, Salma Said, Mona Mina, Mary Daniel, Tahrir girl, to name a few, not to mention all the mothers, sisters, and wives of martyrs and working class women.

This post is not supposed to convince you how courageous women are in the Middle East, or how they are fighting for freedom, minimum wage, social equality, or good education, because that is shown everyday through the heroic stories that the western press fails to cover, but Egyptians encounter them on a daily basis. You can view some stories of brave ordinary women here. This post is rather a response to the disgraceful, one-dimensional, article “Why Do They Hate Us?” by Mona El Tahawy.

Titles like “Why do they hate us?” can only describe Geroge-Bush dichotomies of “them” versus “us” paradigms, where the making of the “other” into a monster can only add to “our” vulnerability and righteousness. I never thought that this dichotomy could be used as an argument for feminism, but the astonishing Mona El Tahawy have found a way. In her article, she based her whole vague-over-generalized-orientalist argument of why women are oppressed in the Middle East to a simple reason of “because they hate us.” To give Mona the benefit of the doubt, as I skimmed through the title before reading the first paragraph about a woman so unmoved by sex with her husband, I imagined an article written on why dictatorships hate women or why exploitative systems hate women and turn them into objects, even if it is not about love or hate in my opinion, but I was imagining this to at least make the article readable for me after the disturbing title, the horribly chosen picture to accompany the topic, and the overt opening. Naive I was to think that Mona El Tahawy could write something I might slightly agree with given her history in writing about “women issues in the Middle East.”

Her sole argument on why women are oppressed in the Middle East, since this is a special place in the world where only backward thinking can be found, is because men and/or Arab society hate women. What is very troubling is her belief that she is the “voice” for so many unheard women, who are oppressed and beaten by their husbands or shunned by the patriarchal Arab societies. She is the beacon of hope for Arab Muslim women living the male-dominated Middle East forced to wear the niqab and do slave work at home. Not only does she believe that she is speaking for these women, but she believes that she is one of the few (if not the only) who is brave, eloquent, and educated enough to vocalize these suppressed voices to the Western media like FP, BBC, CNN, who are of course incapable to reach these suppressed creatures, Middle Eastern women.

I think the only factual thing Mona brings up is that there is discrimination against women more in the Middle East than in other countries, but she blames it on all the wrong reasons. She brings all statistics and backed-up research on how women are subject to unequal laws, genital mutilation, sexual harassment, domestic violence, and rape, etc. I am not minimizing or dismissing these facts at all and I do encourage and believe discussion about these crimes as healthy and the only way to move forward is by acknowledging the problem. Many who have criticized Mona’s article get accused that we are defending the actions of discrimination against women or simply denying it and that couldn’t be farthest from the truth in understanding the fundamental problem with Mona’s argument in the first place.

The fundamental problem of Mona’s essay is the context and framework of how she analyzes why women in the Middle East are oppressed and the only reason she could give is because men and Arab societies (culturally and religiously) hate women. This is offensive to most women I know, who read the article and shared the same view. Women in the Middle East are not oppressed by men out of male dominance, they are oppressed by regimes (who happened to be men in power) and systems of exploitation (which exploit based on class not gender). Having women in power in a flawed system will not “fix” the problem either. We had a women’s quota in Mubarak’s parliament, did that change anything for women in reality? It was all ink on paper. Even after revolution, women are consistently used for political grounds by crony political parties. Explaining why women are oppressed without touching on any of the historical, political, or economical aspects of Arab countries, which are not all the same as she tends to generalize in her article, couldn’t be more delusional than this piece.

The answer is in the picture FP used as a “sexy” caption alongside a sexist article full of disgrace to brave Arab women including one of the bravest in that picture. Did Mona El Tahawy ask herself, “what would this brave young girl who exposed an army think of what I write about her oppression?” I don’t think Mona is even capable of this thinking given her stance. Did this girl feel hated by those men in uniform because she is a woman? or did she feel betrayed by the men who were supposed to protect her as part of their duty? She was standing for social justice, freedom, human rights, she stood against an army for Egypt as a whole, men, women, Christians, Muslims, young, old, Nubians, and immigrants. It is hard to believe that if she had a choice she would only choose women because “they (men) hate us (women).” Mona, on the other hand would disagree. I don’t know how the girl felt, I don’t know how she feels about this article and nobody does except her.

I am not here to tell you how every woman in the Arab world, which is a very big divers place, full of all kinds of women, feel about men and about this article. I can only speak about my feelings and my experience. Mona El Tahawy’s article does not represent me. I am an Egyptian American Muslim woman, who was raised to Egyptian parents, spent all my childhood in Egypt, studied high school and partial college in the US and now living in Egypt since 2008 and I am happily married to an amazing Egyptian man, who loves me and doesn’t hate me because I am a woman.

Our society is far from fair towards many groups not just towards women. My fight and our revolution’s heart lay in this struggle itself, to have every Egyptian living a decent life, living a humane life, and for some to simply live. For decades, Egyptians in all sectors of society have suffered the iron fist and corruption of dictators ruling Egypt and still ruling them. This transcended through generations and found its place in almost every household and institution (with relative degrees). How can all this very complicated complex be summed into a zero-sum equation of men versus women, love versus hate? It is much more complicated than that, but Mona doesn’t bother to mention any of this, but portrays the Middle East as if it is an anomaly, where the only measure of women success or women equality is how many seats she got in parliament or if we will ever see a woman president of Egypt. Does Mona El Tahawy know that nearly 3,000 Egyptian women workers started one of the first Mahalla’s strikes (in the recent decade) in December 2006, when they started chanting, “where are the men, here are the women!” Which paved the way to the revolution that is inspiring and shocking to the world right now? of course that wouldn’t fit into the perception of the average American Foreign Policy reader, who is used to images of American soldiers with guns going to “liberate” Afghani and Iraqi women from Muslim extremists. Simply, Mona’s audience are neither Arab women nor most women who took part in this revolution. To give you an idea, here are some examples of responses to this disgraceful article. Some written by Arab women, who agree Mona only represents herself in that article.

Not Hatred, But Love! Dear Mona

Us and Them: On Helpless Women and Orientalist Imagery

Dear Mona ElTahawy: You Don’t Represent “Us”

I Don’t Really Think They Hate Us!

In response to Mona Eltahawy’s hate argument

On Muslim-Arab issues and the Danger of Aiding the Neo-Liberal Colonialist Agenda

Hatred and misogyny in the Middle East, a response to Mona el Tahawy

Oh, Mona!

Let’s Talk About

Debating the War on Women

Mona el Tahawy and the Transnational Fulul al Nidham

A Critique of Mona Eltahawy’s Perception of Misogyny in the Middle East

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