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Egypt

The Facetious Chronicles of Al-Sisi the Fascisi

The Egyptian Neroah churns a half-smile while Cairo slow-burns and Egypt dies. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKIKHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
The Egyptian Neroah churns a half-smile while Cairo slow-burns and Egypt dies. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKIKHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images

It turned out to be true. It was the most disgusting capricious report one could imagine, so much not only I but also so many other Syrian activists could not believe it, but it turned out to be true. Al-Sisi, the Wankertator of Egypt, and the jaundiced junta supporting him, did in fact hoist this attached banner in the streets of Cairo.

The banner shows  smiling Al-Sisi sporting his military uniform standing next to a child waving at the dead body of Aylan, the Syrian Kurdish child who drowned off the cast of Turkey in September 2015, and whose death brought international attention to the plight of Syrian refugees, at least for a few weeks, before governments decided to ignore it again. The text accompanying the banner said: “A child who lost his army.”

For those who don’t get how macabre this gesture is, bear in mind that Aylan and his family were trying to escape the violent and bloody repression of the Assad regime’s army, the army that was to be protecting them, when their boat overturned and they drowned. Al-Sisi’s people are standing the truth on its head in order to justify their repression at home and their support of the maniacal regime of Bashar Al-Assad.

There is something so macabre and anathematic about dictators’ continued existence in this day and age, something that poisons the soul and militates against one’s own sense of humanity. No justification works anymore. They are neither father figures, nor modernizers, nor peacemakers, but maniacal ravishers and a deadly plague. Yes, they have some popular support, but some people are willing to make peace with cancer knowing that they would die of it, but, no matter what they think, they have no right to kill the rest of us. Because this particular cancer does not discriminate. This applies to Al-Sisi’s supporters as well as those of his earlier Islamist iteration: Mursi, the little horsy that couldn’t deceive enough people for a long enough time to sacralize his Islamist agenda in the form of a constitution.

Being critical of both sides of Egypt’s malaise wins me no admirers neither in Egyptian or Syrian circles. Some Syrians expect me to support Mursi and oppose Al-Sisi based on their positions towards the Syrian conflict, not their overall policies and worldview. But no can do.

When Al-Sisi mounted his coup, I was sad and wrote something like this on Facebook page: this is what the Muslim Brotherhood’s blind hubris managed to accomplish – it facilitate a return to military rule. I don’t support coup d’état’s but I cannot support religious autocracy, even if its wannabe founders came as a result of a popular vote. Indeed, the inability to understand that winning an election does not entitle one to rule as he and his party pleased, refashioning the state in their image and according to their particularistic vision, this inability does emanate from wishful stupidity but from willful blindness and Machiavellian machinations. Willingness to compromise is the only way out of this crisis, but many people cannot handle compromise it seems, and nuance is not something that they are used to. To them, I cannot be against Al-Sisi’s coup and not for MB. I am either for this side, or that side. And being with a side means treating its representatives as heroes. And our heroes are always saints, our villains perfectly villains, the ones inside and the ones outside. And our victimhood, for we are victims after all, we must be victims seeing how weak and insignificant we are, there is no denying this, not by any stretch of the imagination, our victimhood is always a perfect undeserved one, one to which we did absolutely nothing to contribute. It’s always the other’s fault: the others inside, and the others outside. That makes all of us guilty, therefore, none of us is.

So, here it is Egypt a victim of terrorism, but that infamous recent terrorist attack didn’t happen. This is probably why Egypt needs to maintain its position on the list of worst offenders against journalists.

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Novelist Ahmed Naje Faces Criminal Charges for Published Novel Excerpt

by mlynxqualey

Journalist and novelist Ahmed Naje was referred to criminal court Saturday for Akhbar al-Adab’s publication of an excerpt of his novel The Use of Life (استخدام الحياة), which passed through the censor’s office in 2014 and has been on sale at major bookshops for a year:

Naje's book.

Ahmed Naje’s most recent novel, The Use of Life.

Naje and Akhbar al-Adab editor-in-chief Tarek al-Taher were referred to a criminal court because of the chapter’s “obscene sexual content.” The chapter does indeed contain a description of sex and drug use, as do many contemporary Egyptian novels. The offending chapter six can be read online.

According to Mada Masr, the lawyer acting for Naje and al-Taher has said he will be allowed to access the case file at some point on Monday. “This will clarify when the case was filed and the court date, which the prosecutor verbally informed [the attorney] has been set for November 14,” Mada Masr reported.

Mada reported that Naje’s case falls under Law 59, Article 187, which covers defaming public morals. Naje’s attorney told the Associated Press that the author faces up to two years in jail or a fine up to 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($1250) if found guilty.

During investigations, lawyers were apparently told that the lawsuit was filed by a citizen who said his heartbeat fluctuated, blood pressure dropped, and he became severely ill upon reading the chapter in the magazine. The public prosecutor then decided the case was worth taking up.

Joe Rizk of Dar al-Tanweer, which published the novel, said this attack follows a common pattern: A book is available for some time, and then a conservative notices “offensive” content within and files a complaint. Novelist Youssef Rakha also pointed out that the novel exerpt is being positioned as an “article”: “the idea is, these laws apply to ‘articles’ published in newspapers, not books.”

Naje, meanwhile, wrote in a Facebook statement on Sunday that the text is a work of fiction, not an article.

Naje’s novel, which was published last year, is a hybrid work: part prose fiction, part graphic novel. The visuals were done by Ayman El-Zorkany, and have been displayed in art spaces in Alexandria and Cairo without any apparent fuss.

The Use of Life had already met a standard different from novels published inside Egypt. Because it was printed in Lebanon by Dar al-Tanweer, it had to be imported into Egypt, and thus has already received a pass from the Egyptian censor. However, Naje said on Twitter that this “doesn’t protect the book or any book from going to the court.”

The Use of Life is set in Cairo and shifts between the past, present, and future as it tells the story of Bassam, a man lost inside a “spiderweb of emotional frustration and failure.” Sex and sexuality is one of its core themes.

Akhbar al-Adab’s chief editor Tarek al-Taher apparently told prosecutors during questioning “that he only reviewed the title of the story, without reviewing the whole text,”Egypt Independent reported. Al-Taher reportedly added “that he would not have published it had he read it.” Al-Taher was additionally charged with not meeting his duties as an editor-in-chief.

This is hardly the first such case. The first graphic novel to be published in Egypt, Magdy al-Shafee’s Metro (2008), was banned on the grounds that it “offended public morals”: the police raided the Malameh publishing house, confiscated all copies of the book, and banned Malameh from printing further copies. Al-Shafee and publisher Mohammed al-Sharkawi were both charged under article 178 and each fined 5,000 LE. It took five years before the graphic novel was republished and made available in Egypt once again.

Dar al-Tanweer has additionally seen several books it tried to bring in held up by the censors’ office, including Walls of Freedom

Many Arab writers posted notes of solidarity, including Emirati journalist Sultan Sooud al-Qassemi. On Twitter, Egyptian novelist Muhammad Aladdin sardonically congratulated Naje, while popular Egyptian cartoonist Andeel drew a single-panel cartoon in support of Naje, and the artist Ganzeer tweeted drolly that “Ahmed Naje’s writing is apparently okay in novel but too sexually explicit for newspaper.” Youssef Rakha was the most sober, suggesting that it “feels like a war on Arabic literature, which is very frustrating.”

mlynxqualey | novembre 2, 2015 à 12:01 | Catégories: censorship, Egypt | URL:http://wp.me/pHopc-5Jg

In Egypt, a soccer team owner’s racist comment leads to online protests

 

By Hana Baba (follow) 

 

  • •Mortada Mansour in 2012 after he announced his candidacy for Egyptian president
    •Mortada Mansour in 2012 after he announced his candidacy for Egyptian president

    Al-Aashira Masaa is a popular daily Egyptian call-in show on satellite TV that has viewers around the world. And on July 3, many of them were shocked to hear Mortada Mansour, head of Zamalek, one of Egypt’s top soccer clubs, calling in and slamming the show host for having soccer player Ahmed Almerghani on as one of his guests.

    Almerghani sat quietly as Mansour yelled at the host: “Why do you have this boy on?! He doesn’t deserve time on your show! He wasn’t raised right! He’s a traitor!”

see full article here .

Will Egypt send Morsi to the gallows?

Death sentence of deposed president was upheld Tuesday, but analysts are skeptical he will ever hang

Egypt’s court decision on Tuesday to uphold the death sentence against deposed President Mohamed Morsi for his alleged role in a series of jailbreaks and deadly attacks on police during the 2011 uprising means the country could soon carry out the first execution of an ex-head of state since Iraq hanged Saddam Hussein in 2006. But analysts say there is reason to be skeptical that Egypt will actually proceed with Morsi’s sentence — a risky move that would transform him into a martyr for the Muslim Brotherhood and its political allies.

Morsi, who rose to power in Egypt’s first democratic elections in 2012 before being swiftly toppled by a second military-backed uprising the following year, was first sentenced to death last month along with more than 100 other defendants who faced similar charges. His trial, widely decried as a sham by international observers, was part of the wave of sweeping reprisals the government of current president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has taken against the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters since Sisi’s military council took over the country. Hundreds of Brotherhood supporters (as well as pro-democracy activists) have been sentenced to death in mass trials, while the Brotherhood itself has been branded a “terrorist organization.”

Tuesday’s ruling, which was reached after consultation with Egypt’s grand mufti, underlined the Brotherhood’s shocking rise and fall. The group’s supporters, who were oppressed for decades under dictator Hosni Mubarak until his demise in 2011, heralded Morsi’s unlikely election in 2012 as a crowning achievement for the pan-Islamic political movement. They consider Sisi’s takeover just one year later to be an illegal military coup, with many clinging to the remote hope that their democratically elected leader might one day be returned to power. Executing Morsi would extinguish that prospect and, many Sisi supporters argue, close the book on the Brotherhood’s brief resurgence.

But analysts are not so sure. Many argue that turning Morsi into a martyr will only outrage and embolden the Brotherhood further, potentially spurring more peaceful or even violent protests. That narrative is favored by the Brotherhood itself, which has called for a popular uprising on Friday and declared Morsi’s latest sentence “null and void.”

Brotherhood spokesman Nader Oman, in an interview with Al Jazeera, promised resilience no matter the outcome. “The Muslim Brotherhood is an organization that has gone on for more than 80 years. Imprisoning our leaders will not stop us from fighting,” he said.

The strong-fisted Egyptian government will likely take that claim seriously. After the first sentence against Morsi was announced in May, the Brotherhood released a similar statement that portrayed him and the movement as the last defenders of Egypt’s post-Mubarak democracy. It called on supporters “to escalate revolutionary defiance activities every day until together we defeat the junta and topple the illegitimate military coup regime.” Whether that was meant as a call to arms is unclear, but just a few hours later, three Egyptian judges were gunned down in the Sinai peninsula, where a group allegedly affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has waged a string of suicide attacks on security forces.

According to Mohamad Bazzi, a professor at New York University and former Middle East bureau chief at Newsday, “That is another danger of an authoritarian government’s demonizing all Islamists as terrorists who must be suppressed: It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sisi’s actions prove to those who advocate violence that it is the only path. Ultimately, some Islamists will conclude that the only way to protect themselves and achieve power is by taking up arms.”

Thumbnail image for Egypt court upholds Morsi’s death sentence

Egypt court upholds Morsi’s death sentence

Deposed president and other members of the Muslim Brotherhood were convicted in connection to a mass jailbreak in 2011

Others say Egypt’s foreign backers, especially the United States, would not allow the former president to be put to death after such a flawed trial. Sisi has so far met minimal outside resistance to his crackdown, including mainly verbal reprimands from Washington, which, Sisi’s critics say, has chosen stability over democracy by continuing to inject Egypt with $1.3 billion in annual military aid. But some say putting Morsi to death would be a bridge too far, and that it might be politically savvier to simply let him rot in jail.

“It seems more likely that [Sisi] would try to maintain leverage both with the Brotherhood and also with Western governments, who would be shocked at the execution of a former president and political rival,” said Jon Alterman, the director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

There is also reason to believe a broader domestic reaction would arise from not only Brotherhood supporters but wide swathes of Egyptian civil society. Many of those who backed the second uprising against Morsi, who was accused of consolidating power and willfully undermining Egypt’s nascent democracy, have come to view Sisi in a similar vein. Executing his former political rival would only bolster his image as an anti-democratic military strongman.

“It would have a profoundly polarizing effect on Egypt,” Alterman said. Far from closing a turbulent chapter in Egypt, “I think it would more likely open a new one.”

Omar Hazek: Prison Letter on Why He’s Dedicating his New Novel to his Nephew

 

This letter, which ran in Arabic in Al Masry Al Youm, was titled, “I apologize to you from the bottom of my heart”:omar-hazeq-23039I was still in the same prison, in the same cell, in nearly the ninth month of my two-year sentence on one hellish summer night in a terrible August. One new inmate was added to our ranks, making our count 23 men in a cell whose area was 3.5 x 5.5 meters, including a very tiny horrendously dirty toilet, in a space beset by rising violence, beating, and widespread scabies.Such a life has granted me a treasure of humanity and introduced me to people who would be impossible to meet outside the confines of my cell. Some of these prisoners have taught me so much. Some of them granted me great support and true friendship, which has helped me remain a lover of life and of people. I should have mentioned those people and should have dedicated this novel to them. However, I preferred to leave that for my more recent novel, Life in White, all of which is written in prison, as prison has played the leading role in this phase of my life.It was last April when I learned that Ahmad, the son of my eldest brother, a seven-year-old child, knew of my arrest and had seen pictures and footage of my trial hearings. He saw me handcuffed and recognized my family’s pain and sorrow — despite all attempts to conceal this from him. His innocent childhood could not bear this suffering, and he fell prey to psychological illness out of fretting for my sake, and for himself, that I would be tortured or beaten, which he deduced from what he could see on TV and the internet. He started to recover slowly, only after he was told that I was released from prison, had traveled to work abroad, and would soon return, laden with gifts and safe from the hands of the evil people who beat and imprisoned the youth.I have wept a few times here — mostly for my mother, at times for prisoners who faced pains beyond their capacities, and sometimes for Ahmad. Ahmad grew up in a home near ours. He visited us frequently with his father. He would enter my room while I was reading or writing to greet me and then run to play. He would not forget to come and greet me before leaving, smiling with his round, soft cheeks.  He would open his small palms saying, “loos,” which developed into “aloos” with time, meaning filoos, or money — because I used to give him coins every time I would see him to buy some candy.

Why should a child like him pay so dearly for my personal choices in life? My family members were severely affected — especially my father and mother. However, they were all able to appreciate that these costs were paid in defense of a conviction. However, Ahmad alone had to pay the dearest price, which I am not sure he will be able to completely overcome. It is indeed a dear price paid so that the youth of this nation may make small steps towards their freedom, dignity, and their now-wasted rights.

During her last visit, my mother told me that dear Ahmad had a recurrence of the attack after having achieved tangible progress. At night, I put the draft of my novel close to my face to hide my emotions. I cried for my beloved Ahmad — whom I have known as an innocent child full of vitality and joy; fond of wandering in parks and on beaches; a lover of candy, juice and potato chips. I wept for Ahmad who suffered from my imprisonment more than I have.

Ahmad, who had been looking at the family photo album, took away a photo and sat with it in a corner. His mother saw him whispering to a photo, “I miss you … I miss you so hard,” and suddenly she saw it was me in this picture.

My beloved Ahmad, I want to apologize to you from the bottom of my heart, despite the fact that I have not committed a crime deserving imprisonment, for begetting you all that suffering. I want you to know when you grow up and when God blesses you with healing and peace, that you have paid a very high price for our dignity and humanity, and that your noble pain, along with other noble pains and blood, will create a great spirit. This spirit will inspire our struggles until we achieve the goals of our revolution. This is why I implore you not to waver and to pursue the path regardless of the price and my fate. You are a great comrade along the path.

This is why I dedicate to you — and only you — my novel. Out of love and in apology to you, Ahmad Essam Hazek.

Mohamed Fahmy hits out at al-Jazeera over its protection of journalists

Reporter jailed last June with Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed says network had own political agenda during reign of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood

Al-Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy says the network left him and his Egypt-based colleagues unprotected.
 Al-Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy says the network left him and his Egypt-based colleagues unprotected. Photograph: Hasan Mohamed/AFP/Getty

The al-Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy, who is awaiting retrial after more than a year in an Egyptian prison, has accused the network of “epic negligence” and said it was partially to blame for his arrest and imprisonment. 

Fahmy called it naive and misleading to see the case purely as a crackdown on press freedom because Qatar, which funds the al-Jazeera network, used it to “wage a media war” against Cairo.

Fahmy, who had both Egyptian and Canadian nationality before giving up his Egyptian passport in an attempt to speed up his deportation in December, and Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian, are due back in court next week following the release of their Australian colleague, Peter Greste, earlier this month. The three al-Jazeera English (AJE) employees were jailed last June on trumped-up charges of helping terrorists and spreading false news.

Fahmy’s comments follow several attempts to present his case in a more favourable light to the Cairo establishment in recent months, including an opinion piece in Egypt’s leading private broadsheet that expressed his support for the army’s overthrow of ex-president Mohamed Morsi.

read full article here

If You’re in Cairo: Doum Storytelling Nights

Starting tomorrow in Cairo, you can attend the “Doum Storytelling Nights,” a return to the art of oral storytelling:By Mona Elnamourydoum1This storytelling night event — at Bayt al-Sennari, Sayda Zainab — is carried out by the Seshat series for creative writing workshop, which now hosts around fifty writers of different ages and both sexes.The workshop, which is a “Doum” project, has been moderated by novelist Sahar Elmougy.Elmougy has been at the center of reviving cultural interest in the art of oral storytelling ever since her first feminist storytelling venture about women and memory “Qalat al-Raweya” (“The Female Narrator Said”), a 2009 project of revisioning/ rewriting folk tales from a feminist perspective. After that, there was “Ana al-Hekaya” (“I am the Tale”). Co-establishing the non-profit Doum Cultural Fundation with novelist Khaled Alkhamisi helped Elmougy further the idea of culturally engaging with as many people as possible. Doum’s mission is to foster critical thinking in Egypt by producing cultural material capable of reaching as many people as possible.The idea of the workshop has been to create a common field among writers to develop their creative and critical capacities and tools. It developed beyond the literary output of the workshops into creating a human bridge between the writer and the audience; the stories become interactive areas of identification and awakening. Away from the clichés of the aloof cultural product in books or in isolated cultural forums, the Doum Storytelling Project assures both writers and audience that they can find a basic unifying ground in which there is neither barriers nor discrimination.The content of the upcoming event constitutes everyday stories centered on our life experiences, feelings, expectations, and aspirations, all braided into one overarching narrative. The stories seem to point out that as many roads there are — roads of loneliness, union, answers, or questions — they are still familiar and human, and they still intersect.The first Doum storytelling events took place during Ramadan 2014, and they conveyed many themes, gratitude among them. They were such a pleasant surprise. Preceded by months of training and awakening great narrative potential of the selected narrators, the upcoming event, “Ping-Pong,” is even more professional and sophisticated.

Attending Ping-Pong at Bayt al-Sennari, you are promised a performance that will push you to laughter, tears, and wonder. More important it will push you to think and rethink of sentences that will sound wonderful and astonishing though they are familiar. You will be haunted by questions for a long time while driving, bathing, and making coffee or when you put your heads on your pillows at night. Questions are all that matter.

doum2

Dr. Mona Elnamoury is a lecturer at the faculty of Arts, English Dept., Tanta University. She also teaches at the MSA in the faculty of Languages and Translation, and has translated Ursula LeGuin into Arabic and is part of the Seshat continous creative writing workshop and storytelling project. She also writes.

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Novelist and Poet Omar Hazek: An Open Letter After a Year in Prison

Novelist and poet Omar Hazek was jailed on December 2, 2013, charged with violating Egypt’s anti-protest law, a “crime” for which he is serving two years in prison. Yet he maintains more hope than most:This letter initially ran in Al-Masry al-Youm. Hazek’s family gave permission for an English translation.

READ HERE

Belal Fadl on Egypt becoming “A Nation of Snitches”

Belal Fadl, an Egyptian screenwriter and columnist who has continued to speak his mind on the brutality and hypocrisy of the country’s military regime, has published a five-part series with the news site Mada Masr on the history of domestic espionage in Egypt. Our good friends at the professional translation service Industry Arabic have translated the final installment in the series; the earlier ones are available in Arabic on the Mada site. 

 

When a ruler depends solely on the power of oppression and completely impedes rational thinking, he no longer concerns himself with ensuring that there is an informant for every citizen.  Rather, he seeks to drive each and every citizen to become an informant of his or her own volition.

Some weeks ago, Abdel Rahman Zaidan, coordinator of the Revolutionaries Front in East Cairo, published a testimony on his Facebook page that soon became widely shared.  In this testimony, Abdel Rahman states that as he was riding a microbus [shared taxi-van] home, he was surprised to hear a middle-aged woman begin to fiercely criticize Sisi, the current government, and the Interior Ministry, much to the shock of those riding in the microbus with her.  One of the other passengers, encouraged by what the woman was saying, joined her in openly attacking Sisi, the government, and the Interior Ministry.

Before Abdel Rahman could join the discussion, the woman suddenly asked the driver to pull over next to a church along the way.  As soon as the microbus stopped, the woman stuck her head out the window and called to the church guards, shouting, “Save me! There’s a Muslim Brotherhood terrorist in the microbus!”

The guards rushed over, began beating the young man who had criticized Sisi, and pulled him from the microbus. The woman also got out of the microbus in order to accompany them and to testify to the heinous act that the young man had committed. She shot a sharp glance back at the other passengers, as if defying them to intervene, and stated proudly, “We’re cleaning up this country!” The remaining passengers, shocked at what had happened, sat frozen in their seats as the microbus drove away.

Abdel Rahman concludes his testimony by advising his colleagues – who are busy defending their comrades who are among the students who have been detained, providing for their needs, and publicizing their cases – to refrain from talking about politics on public transportation in order to focus their efforts on what is most important. He urges them to avoid falling into this new security trap, set to ensnare anyone who expresses opposition to what is happening in Egypt.

read full article here

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Albert Einstein – God bless him – defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  And I think if you asked him to define filth, he would say that it is repression: a repression that labels as traitors all those who warn the people of the danger of repeating the same actions that have led to their defeat in the past, expecting that these actions will somehow lead them to victory now. It’s like expecting milk from an ant’s…well, let’s just say from an ant. [The expression “getting milk from an ant’s c#nt” means attempting the impossible]. 

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