Egypt’s Political Map: Clearing the Fog
by ESAM AL-AMIN – Counter Punch – 8 February, 2013
If parties from across all of Egypt’s political spectrum agree on one thing, it’s this: the country is currently witnessing the greatest turmoil since Hosni Mubarak’s ouster and is facing massive upheaval with no end in sight. The unity and resolve displayed by millions of Egyptians two years ago when they decisively deposed the authoritarian and corrupt Mubarak regime is long gone. Throughout these tumultuous two years, there emerged two major fault lines across the country’s political class: one that resulted from the revolution, namely the revolutionary vs. the counter-revolutionary groups; and one along ideological grounds, namely the Islamic vs. the secular parties.
All agree that the revolution was launched spontaneously by non-ideological youth groups, who paid the heaviest price and made the biggest sacrifices during the early days of the revolution. Such groups proclaim the mantle of the revolution and maintain that it has been hijacked by better-organized and established groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and the Salafis.
The MB, however, asserts that although it did not publicly join the initial protests on January 25, 2011, it immediately joined forces within three days and protected the revolution as the group mobilized its massive membership and supporters across the country, especially during the battle of the camel on February 1, ultimately forcing the surrender of the regime ten days later.
The more conservative Salafi groups, while acknowledging that they were slow in joining the ranks of the revolution, argue that they embraced its objectives and the democratic process unleashed in its aftermath and thus legitimately represent the interests and aspirations of a substantial segment of Egyptian society.
On the other hand, the secular and liberal groups, including the Coptic Church, which are quite wary of the religious groups and are very adamant about limiting the role of Islam in political life, have been very frustrated in seeing decisive electoral victories by the more popular Islamic groups. Since the fall of Mubarak, Egyptians have been to the polls in largely free and fair elections on eight different occasions. And each time the voters decisively favored the Islamist groups.
In March 2011, the electorate voted 77 percent for a political process advocated by the Islamists that called for elections before writing a new constitution. Furthermore, between November 2011 and January 2012 Egyptian voters went to the polls four times to choose the upper and lower chambers of parliament. Once again the Islamist parties won over 73 percent of the contested seats. By June 2012 Egyptians went to the polls yet again in two stages to choose a president, eventually electing in a tightly contested race, though narrowly, the MB candidate, Muhammad Morsi. In December 2012, the Egyptian electorate went to the polls an eighth time, approving by a 64 percent majority a new constitution endorsed mainly by the Islamist groups, while strongly opposed by the secularist, liberal, and leftist parties as well as by many revolutionary youth groups.
As the second anniversary of the remarkable and peaceful Egyptian revolution approached in late January 2013, new alliances and coalitions were formed largely as the mistrust had widened between those who support and oppose Morsi, the Islamists’ agenda, or the new constitution. Consequently, new battle lines were drawn in anticipation of the new parliamentary elections scheduled for this spring.
With over 100 registered or declared parties across the country, what is the political map of Egypt two years after the revolution? …more
February 8, 2013 No Comments
27 January, 2013 – By Edmund Blair, Yasmine Saleh – Reuters
CAIRO: Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi declared a month-long state of emergency on Sunday in three cities along the Suez Canal which have been the focus of anti-government violence that has killed dozens of people over the past four days.
Seven people were shot dead and hundreds were injured in Port Said on Sunday during the funerals of 33 protesters killed at the weekend. A total of 49 people have been killed in demonstrations around the country since Thursday and Mursi’s opponents have called for more protests on Monday.
“Down, down Mursi, down down the regime that killed and tortured us!” people in Port Said chanted as the coffins of those killed on Saturday were carried through the streets.
In a televised address, Mursi said a nightly curfew would be introduced in Port Said, Ismailia and Suez, starting Monday evening. He also called for dialogue with top politicians. About 200 people protested in Ismailia after the announcement.
“The protection of the nation is the responsibility of everyone. We will confront any threat to its security with force and firmness within the remit of the law,” the president said, adding that he offered condolences to families of the victims of those who died in the cities.
In Cairo the newly appointed interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim was ejected from the funeral of one of the police officers who died during Saturday’s clashes in Port Said, according to witnesses and police sources.
A police officer at the funeral said many of his colleagues blame the interior minister on the deaths of at least two policemen during Saturday’s clashes as he did not allow the police there to carry weapons and were only given teargas bombs.
State television said seven people died from gunshot wounds on Sunday. Port Said’s head of hospitals, Abdel Rahman Farag, told Reuters more than 400 people had suffered from teargas inhalation, while 38 were wounded by gunshots.
Gunshots had killed many of the 33 who died on Saturday when residents went on the rampage after a court sentenced 21 people, mostly from the Mediterranean port, to death for their role in deadly soccer violence at a stadium there last year.
January 28, 2013 No Comments
Cario Institute for Human Rights Studies – Nadine Sherif – 5 December, 2012
Standing at the precipice of history, Morsi has a choice to make: be president of Egypt or be a leader in the Muslim Brootherhood.
At this moment, two persons have been reported died, including a female protestor. Petrol bombs and birds shots are being used by Morsi supporters against his opponents in front of the presidential palace. Reporters have been attacked, and cameras have been damaged.
A coalition of well respected opposition figures and political parties unified behind ElBaradei, Mousa, and Sabahi to demand an inclusive Constitutional Assembly and withdrawal of the Constitutional Declaration, and mobilize hundreds of thousands in more than 7 governorates to protest for more than a week. In press conference today they all came together announcing Dr. Elbaradei as the leader of the coalition.
Before the election at Fairmont Hotel agreement, president Morsi promised more than 72 of the revolutionary and liberal force to be inclusive and include them in executive decsisions as well as to reform the Constitutional Assembly. Yet he recent actions have been anything but inclusive.
Today at a press conference the Vice President announced that even he wasn’t consulted on the Constitutional Declaration. Previously, the Minister of Justice stated the same. Two of the Presidents advisers, including the Advicer on Democratic Transition resigned in protest. Four members of the National Human Rights Council resigned due to Islamist intervention into council business and absence of institutional independence.
Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have closed all avenues for peaceful dissent. With the Constitution Declaration Morsi closed all legal means to challenge his decisions and hold him accountable. A measure that wasn’t taken by any other Egyptian president.
Yesterday, Egypt’s most prominent independent newspapers staged a one day media blackout, followed by major Egypt’s Satelite channels, in protest continuous violations and threats to freedom of expression. These are not limited to violations committed since Morsi took presidency but extends to oppression soon to be enshrined in the newly drafted constitution.
The Muslim Brother have gone as far as to used force to stop government institutions from functioning. The Constitutinoal court has not be able to convene for five days. Muslim Brotherhood supporters have stop judges from entering building by force. Police forces haven’t intervened in time to regulate the protests and allowing a peaceful passage of the judges into the court. There has been no comment from the president regarding hampering the functioning of state institutions.
Today, pro-democracy protestors, respected the institution of the presidenacy and didn’t prevent the President or the Vice President from entering the presidential palace. Yet, pro-Morsi supporters, who were rallied by Muslim Brotherhood beginning at 10 pm yesterday, have violently attacked the protestors. Near by churches have been declared field hospitals to deal with injured. This is an alarming turn of events.
Egypt is on the edge of an irreversible path. If Morsi does not step up to the role of President of all Egyptians the peace revolution of Jan 25, 2011 is at risk of becoming blood drenched.
Please publicly and privatly urge President Morsi to live up to his responsibility, and to take action to prevent further escalation by the Muslim Brotherhood and/or the police.
December 5, 2012 No Comments
POMED – 28 November, 2012
A recent article by the International Crisis Group (ICG) addresses Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi‘s declaration of full power. The decree ”removes the unpopular Prosecutor General, a Mubarak-era holdover; paves the way for retrial of recently acquitted officials implicated in violence against demonstrators; protects both the Shura Council and Constituent Assembly from possible court-ordered dissolution; prolongs the Constituent Assembly’s term by two months; and, crucially, immunizes all presidential decisions from judicial review until adoption of a new constitution.”
Morsi’s decree came in reaction to the imminent collapse of the Constituent Assembly and the reinstatement of wide-ranging powers to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), according to the report. This combination of events, the ICG says, would have caused untold damage to the already unstable transition. The report also argues that Morsi’s decree enjoys widespread support among Egyptians, while the unpopular liberal opposition relies on “obstructionist politics” to assert its influence on the process. However, Morsi’s declaration has served to deepen the divisions among political groups, as well as the executive and judicial branches of government. To move forward, the ICG recommends that the “president and Supreme Judicial Council should agree to restore judicial oversight over his decisions with the exception of those pertaining to the maintenance and functioning of representative political institutions, while the courts should refrain from their own overreach. Additionally, members of the Constituent Assembly who have withdrawn in protest ought to rejoin the body, while some Islamist members could resign and be replaced by constitutional law experts.”
Issandr El Amrani criticized the piece, saying the ICG’s assertion that Morsi’s power grab has enjoyed widespread support is not based on substantiated evidence. “There is no reliable information on what the general public thinks of Morsi’s decree, but anecdotal evidence suggests there is quite a bit of opposition to it,” El Amrani said. However, he did agree that the opposition has not articulated a solution to the problems that Morsi’s decrees sought to address. …source
November 28, 2012 No Comments
26 November, 2012 – Al Akhbar
Tens of thousands of protesters are expected to rally in Egypt’s Tahrir Square Tuesday against President Mohammed Mursi’s recent decree granting him broad executive powers as the Islamist leader prepares to meet with senior judges Monday to diffuse tensions.
Two people have already died in violent street protests since Mursi issued the decree Thursday that allows him to make “any decision or measure to protect the revolution,” which in effect bypasses judicial oversight and provides the president with absolute powers.
Mursi has insisted that the decree is “temporary” and needed to cleanse Egypt’s political structure of Mubarak loyalists, but his opponents accuse him of seeking dictatorial powers.
“[The decree] is deemed necessary in order to hold accountable those responsible for the corruption as well as the other crimes during the previous regime and during the transitional period,” Mursi said on Sunday.
Former presidential candidates and opposition leaders Mohammed el-Baradei, Hamdeen Sabbahi, Amr Moussa and AbdelMoneim Abul Futuh have established a united front against Mursi, declaring Saturday that there would be no dialog until the decree is rescinded.
Some courts across the country have been closed as judges strike against the decree. The journalists’ union also announced its decision to join the strike.
Hundreds of the president’s opponents camped out in Tahrir Square overnight Sunday in protest of the decree following three consecutive days of protests across different cities where violent clashes took place between the president’s supporters and opponents.
Anti-Mursi demonstrators set fire to at least three offices belonging to the president’s Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party on Friday.
“Tahrir Square is closed,” Amir Elshenawy, an Egyptian activist, told Al-Akhbar on Monday. “Protesters themselves have set up checkpoints in every entrance to the square.”
The Muslim Brotherhood has called on its supporters to take part in a counter demonstration Tuesday in Giza.
In a bold move Saturday that may further aggravate tensions in the country, Mursi quietly ratified a separate law that grants the government authority to appoint members to the Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF).
The unannounced decision allows the MB-affiliated minister of Manpower and Emigration to appoint party members to high level positions in the union once vacancies open.
Activists say the new law represents a further push by Mursi to assert control over labor unions that have been largely monopolized by the government for decades.
Last year’s revolution brought hope to Egypt’s labor movement that years of fighting for independent unions may lead to victory, but the new law has dealt a heavy blow to their efforts.
The Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions, which is separate from ETUF, announced it would take part in the anti-Mursi demonstrations Tuesday and its members plan to strike against the new labor law. …source
November 26, 2012 No Comments
A year of revolution: Lessons learned
by Mohamed Elmeshad – 22 January, 2012 – Egypt Independent
On 11 February 2011, jubilation broke out in Tahrir Square after Vice President Omar Suleiman announced a victory for the revolutionaries. The belief was that with Mubarak’s departure, Egypt’s political situation would radically improve. While some revolutionaries held their applause at the ominous prospect of an interim military-led government, the majority celebrated.
It was only a matter of time before the rest of the revolution’s goals would be achieved. Social justice was just around the corner. Corruption’s lynchpin was gone, and his underlings were soon to follow.
Almost a year has passed, and many of the same revolutionary forces plan to take to the streets to demand many of the same things they demanded last 25 January. This year’s protests can potentially be a new launching point for the revolution and a second attempt to put the country back on course toward change.
So why do the revolutionaries find themselves going back to the same place with the same demands? For many, 11 February, 2011 was a time to leave the square, and give up what is undoubtedly the revolution’s most powerful weapon, street protests, to begin work on building Egypt anew. According to many revolutionaries, this was the first and most prominent mistake.
“The most important mistake the revolutionaries made was to leave the square so easily and allow the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to assume power unopposed,” said Marwa Farouk, an activist and member of the Popular Alliance Party.
Street protests drove Mubarak out, and have arguably had the greatest effect in winning many of the concessions made by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, despite the SCAF’s consistent berating and bashing of protesters. After 8 July, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf was forced to reshuffle his cabinet. The November protests and the clashes on Mohamed Mahmoud Street forced the SCAF to introduce an entirely new cabinet and abandon plans for a set of supraconstitutional principles, while finally announcing that they would hand over power to a civilian government by July.
“There is no politics except street politics… when people are there with their bodies expressing their agency and will,” said software engineer and independent activist Alaa Abd El Fattah.
Abd El Fattah believes that it took the military’s atrocities and violence against civilians to bring Egyptians around to viewing the SCAF critically, which they should have done from the beginning. …more
January 23, 2012 No Comments
by Libertarian Socialist Movement – Egypt – Anarkismo.net
It’s about time! For weeks, several internet sites, and facebook pages that belong to the Muslim Brotherhood, either officially or administered by its members, launched an attack against Anarchists and Revolutionary Socialists in Egypt trying to single them out as inciters of violence and propagandists of state demolition. Today, a member of the Brotherhood filed a lawsuit against three socialists, one of them is comrade Yaser Abdel Kawy, a well known anarchist and a member of the Egyptian Libertarian Socialists Movement. The General Attorney forwarded the lawsuit to the State Security GA, an exceptional apparatus of the legal system that works only under a state of emergency.
It sure was expected. While small in numbers, Anarchists in Egypt have been quite prominent amongst the different revolutionary forces taking part in the Jan25 Egyptian revolution. Anarchists are distinguishably vocal on the social media sites, but more importantly they are always in the front lines on the streets whenever revolutionaries take a stand in the face of the brutal crackdown of the state.
The uneasy but strong alliance between the Brotherhood and the ruling military junta has been evident since the very beginning. The Brotherhood was the only political force that had one of its members in the legislative committee responsible for preparing the modifications of the 1971 constitution approved by a referendum on March 19th. The brotherhood refused to take part almost in any rally against the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), and in many cases sought to tarnish these rallies and attack those who called for them.
The Brotherhood, had also taken an aggressive stance against laborers in their continuous struggle against the masters backed by the military junta. It has always condemned workers rallies, sit-ins, or occupations, and described the workers fight for their rights as counter-revolutionary and incited by clients of Mubarak’s regime.
Poised for a landslide victory in the current parliamentary elections along with the more radical Salafi Islamists, the Brotherhood is keen on getting rid of future opposition, namely socialists. It’s easy to know why if one takes a look at the policies that their counterparts in Tunisia have adopted once confident in their new seats in the parliament. It’s even clearer when one takes notice of their prominent leaders’ (mostly businessmen) statements to the media, especially ones describing the neoliberal financial and economic policies of Mubarak’s regime as good and effective, if not coupled with corruption and crony capitalism.
We are sure that these new attacks by the SCAF and its Islamist allies are nothing but an early beginning. A new phase of the Egyptian Revolution is already starting to take shape. This time the true conflict lines will be clear for all after being only clear for some. The Egyptian Revolution will take its true face of a class war of us the proletariat against them, the masters, the military junta, and the conservative fascist Islamists.
January 6, 2012 No Comments
02 January, 2012 – Associated Press -by Aya Batrawi
CAIRO – A top Egyptian official responsible for overseeing civil society groups has defended sweeps through the offices of 10 human rights and pro-democracy organizations, rejecting denunciations from the U.S., U.N. and Germany.
Sunday’s comments were the first from the Egyptian government since the sweeps Thursday that targeted, among others, U.S.-based groups invited to observe Egypt’s months-long election process. Reports of heavily armed police and soldiers storming into offices, sealing the doors, rifling through files and confiscating computers set off a wave of international protest against Egypt’s rulers.
International Cooperation Minister Faiza Aboul Naga defended the operation as a legitimate investigation into organizations suspected of operating without permits and receiving “political funding” against the law.
Aboul Naga pointed to repeated complaints from the judiciary and the ruling military about civil society groups accepting foreign funds to promote protests and instability and “influence public opinion in non-peaceful ways.” She said the order to investigate the groups came from independent judges.
The military has pointed to “foreign hands” behind clashes with protesters who are demanding that the military hand over power to civilians. More than 100 people have been killed in the clashes since the military took over in February.
Rights groups dismiss the charges as an attempt to taint the reform movement that led to the ouster of longtime President Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising that demanded democracy and human rights. …more
January 6, 2012 No Comments
21 May, 2011 - Deterritorial Support Group
As in the early days and weeks of what have become known as “The Arab Spring”– a series of insurrections against long-established regimes across North Africa– the British mainstream media seem to have missed the boat on the current “May 15th” movement currently filling the streets and squares of cities and towns across Spain. The basis of the Spanish protests bear more similarities with those insurrections- anger at soaring youth unemployment, political corruption and, like much of Europe, huge social and financial restructuring plans in the name of “austerity”. But there are now interesting examples of how the shared causes of these grievances are having a feedback effect on the tactics of popular protest being used, and how certain tropes of “struggle” are spreading memetically between movements against poverty, corruption and austerity measures. Not least of these is the potent symbol of Tahrir Square, the hub of dissent during the uprisings in Egypt this year, which we are seeing in an entirely new incarnation in Puerta Del Sol in Madrid this week (hashtags- #Acampadelsol #Spanishrevolution #yeswecamp).
The relationship between the North African and Middle-Eastern uprisings and the problems of Europe is highly symbiotic, although rarely flagged up by much of the media on the conservative right and liberal left. Whilst they have tried to diffuse the anger and it’s repercussions by portraying the insurrections as part of a cultural “quest for democracy”, the Arab Spring is, quite plainly, the result of the economic forces of the global downturn and the financial crisis that precipitated it. Faced with already high graduate unemployment and rocketing food prices, the collapse of their export economies were the straw that broke the working-classes back in North Africa– the ensuing crisis of legitimacy, industrial actions and massive street violence (also completely downplayed by the European media) may have then been painted as a political crisis, but they were only the symptoms of a financial crisis with which working people had been lumbered, and could no longer sustain.
It’s perhaps understandable why the west has sought to play down the economic and class nature of the uprisings. It may well seem crass for young westerners to compare, for example, the student and EMA protests of last year with the oppression faced by Egyptian, Bahrainian and Libyan youths and rebels, but the fundamental issues that cause the discontent have similar roots and manifestations– very high graduate unemployment, a rising cost in living (food and, in Europe, rent) and collapsing legitimacy of traditional political structures, both of those in office and opposition- in short, a crisis of trust in the ideology of a social contract. For those involved to start drawing international and class comparisons and links, and for the street protests and direct actions to be generalised across Europe, would not suit the established Western democracies at all well. It’s against this attempt to distance these shared struggles that workers, demonstrators and anti-austerity activists are fighting, because the inevitable realisation would be made, sooner or later, that the problems of each country are not due to, for example, an over bureaucratic welfare state or mismanagement by a particular tyrant, but due to international issues of capital.
These are, indeed, international issues of class vs capital. But what has also been fascinating is the way certain tropes, tactics and symbols of these protests have spread across the continents memetically, not because of any specific tactical or political efficacy relevant to each individual location, but as an only semi-conscious, infectious “linking” of different “struggles”. As an example, the image of Tahrir Square has now become a fundamental core feature linking many of these movements. When tens of thousands of Egyptians headed for the Square on the days following their “day of rage” against the government, they did so for practical reasons relevant to their very specific social and geographic conditions – the need to coalesce for self-defence reasons, to gain a certain communal courage, to keep out in the open and in the eye of the international media, expecting a brutal repression from the Egyptian state security services. But the idea of Tahrir– a central encampment, held for as long as possible, acting as a hub for the worlds media, has since become more than a practical development. It has become a meme of the social movements. …more
January 4, 2012 No Comments
22 Nov 2011 – Index on Censorship
Despite the lethal crackdown, Egyptians are converging on Tahrir Square for the fourth day demanding change. Shahira Amin reports
The death toll from three days of unrest in Cairo’s downtown Tahrir Square has risen to 33, with more than 1700 injured. More casualties and fatalities are expected as riot police and security forces continue their crackdown on the tens of thousands of protesters demanding the ousting of Field Marshal Hussein Tantawy who heads the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
Following the outbreak of unrest, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf’s government resigned. At the same time, the Youth Revolutionary Coalition called on Egyptians to participate in what they hoped would be a million-strong National Rescue protest on Tuesday, calling for the formation of a new government with complete authority to run the country during the transitional period.
“The people feel their revolution has been stolen by the military. So we are back in Tahrir to ask the military rulers to leave. They are all members of Mubarak’s regime. The autocracy has only been replaced by another military dictatorship.”
-22-year-old activist Sahar Mohamed Zaki, who works for an airline company, explaining why protesters had returned to Tahrir
Most of the deaths in Tahrir were the result of gunshot wounds sustained in clashes with security forces as protesters attempted to storm the nearby Interior Ministry, headquarters of the detested police force. Demonstrators — suffering head injuries after being beaten with batons and choking as a result of excessive tear gas inhalation — were being ferried on makeshift stretchers to an area in the square where volunteer medics offered emergency aid. Wailing sirens could be heard as ambulances transported the more serious cases to nearby hospitals for treatment. Bahaa el Razi, a volunteer medic at the scene, told me that most of the casualties suffered from gas inhalation, while a few had been hit by rubber bullets and bird shots. Protesters claimed live ammunition was also being fired in attempts to disperse them.
In one instance, the body of a dead man was thrown by his attackers onto a rubbish heap [video]. The incident enraged eyewitnesses, who insisted that “nothing has changed” and that their lives counted for nothing to those in a position of authority.
“Tantawy, leave!” The chants of the indignant protesters reverberated across the square. The scene was reminiscent of the January uprising that ousted Mubarak. Demonstrations erupted in Tahrir last Friday, with people demanding the ruling military council immediately hand over power to a civilian government. The protesters also called for an end to military trials for civilians and for parliamentary elections to be held on the scheduled date of 28 November. They also called for those responsible for the recent deaths to be punished for their crimes. …more
November 22, 2011 No Comments
by Anna Mahjar-Barducci – November 16, 2011 – Hudson New York
“Over 12,000 Civilians in Mass Trials To Get Rid of Enemies and Intimidate People”
In a recent demonstration in Washington against Egypt’s persecution of its Copts, a demonstrator was chanting that Egyptians do not want another dictator; that since the so-called Egyptian Revolution, nothing had changed. He was holding a banner that showed the face of Egypt’s former President, Hosni Mubarak, becoming that of Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces [SCAF] and the current de facto head of Egypt.
Egyptian television is still in the grip of the regime; and cartoons that an Egyptian man turning into a donkey after having watched State-run media channels, circulate over the internet. The Emergency Laws have remained in place, and presidential elections may be pushed to 2013, or — as in the tradition of dictatorships — might not even happen at all. The one thing that did change, however, was the face of the dictator, from Mubarak to Tantawi.
The international media, imagining that popular sovereignty had replaced a dictatorship, celebrated the fall of Mubarak and welcomed Tantawi. The demonstrators of Tahrir Square, however, soon realized that their protests did not bring any revolution: in social and political institutions there were no changes at all. The SCAF now not only stronger than ever, it has become even more aggressive to prevent any further uprisings. The public radio International (PRI) reports that the army has tried “over 12,000 civilians in military courts since they took control of the country last February.” The regime is putting people on trial to get rid of enemies and to intimidate people. “‘All the lawyers we’ve spoken to have said it is a sham,’ said Shahira Abouellail, one of a group of young activists who have been working on the No-to-Military-Trials campaign. ‘It is not really a trial. You are tried by the military. Most of the time you are tried collectively so there are like 30 people there, and they all get prosecuted together, and they all get the same sentence within like five minutes to half an hour,’ she said.”
Although the Copts were the first victims of the Army’s intimidation campaign in the recent Maspero massacre –in which the Army killed 27 Christians and injured 329 — the security forces are nevertheless randomly arresting Copts and accusing them of organizing protests that destabilize the country. The Army also arrests minors and Copts who were not even present the day of the Maspero Massacre, just to get rid of Christians in the country.
In addition, the military council is expanding its authority on the drafting of Egypt’s post-revolutionary constitution. The army is trying to fight the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence, and keep draconian measures in place to protect its power. Most of all, it does not want any civilian oversight of its economic interests, from construction companies to Red Sea resorts. The author Robert Springborg, who wrote extensively on the Egyptian military, said in an interview to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s paper, El Masry Al Yawm, that he does not believe that the military would seek to hold onto power in the form of a classical coup d’état, but would rather seek to ensure that it will not be subordinated to any other power. “The delay in constituting a new system of government results probably not from a change in the military’s strategic objective of ‘ruling but not governing,’ but from the tactical difficulties of forming a civilian government that forswears any meaningful control over the military,” Springborg writes. …more
November 18, 2011 No Comments
By Roula Khalaf – October 28, 2011 – Financial Times
In February, the fall of Hosni Mubarak unleashed euphoria in Cairo: now, frustration is rife and unrest troubles the streets as the country faces an uncertain future. Ahead of next month’s elections, the nation’s people talk about revolution – and finding the way forward.
A few hours after Hosni Mubarak’s vice-president appeared on state television to announce Egypt’s leader of 30 years was stepping down, I took a walk down the banks of the Nile. On that mild February night, a wild party of liberation had broken out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. The scenes along the way were breathtaking. They belonged to an Arab world I had never known. Dragging their children out of bed, Egyptian families swarmed the streets, from the Kasr al-Nile bridge to the state television building, hugging each other in congratulations, lifting the children up on the army tanks and posing for pictures with soldiers. The army officers, who had placed the future of Egypt above their loyalty for Mubarak, were giddy with the hero status bestowed on them and the chants of “the army and the people in one hand”.
Down in Tahrir Square, where young Egyptians had camped out for nearly three weeks, new banners were already drafted to mark Mubarak’s departure, some held by old men who stood still amid the moving crowds. The voice of Umm Kalthum, the Arab world’s most famous singer, rang out, “ana al shaab, ana al shaab” (I am the people), and to this old revolutionary tune, the people hummed their own new slogan: “Lift your head high, you are Egyptian.”
Seized by a swell of patriotism and a longing for dignity, a population dismissed for decades as too hopeless and subdued to change its destiny was shocked by its own sudden empowerment. Tunisians had brought down their own dictator a few weeks before, sparking the Arab spring winds that blew through Cairo. But in Tahrir Square the real Arab revolution had triumphed. Egypt is not just another Arab country: it is the heart of the Arab world, its biggest nation, with more than 80m people. It determined whether Arab armies fought wars or made peace, and it gave the region its most illustrious leaders and most celebrated artists and authors. On the morning after, on February 12, the celebrations were still ongoing in Tahrir but they had taken on another startling face. As young people discovered Egypt was theirs, rather than Mubarak’s, they carried their brooms and descended on the square to pick up the rubbish and scrub the nearby monuments on the bridge. …more
October 31, 2011 No Comments
AP – Wed, Sep 7, 2011
MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — More than 100 jailed Bahraini activists — including doctors who treated injured protesters during months of anti-government protests and crackdowns in the Gulf kingdom — are on hunger strike, an international panel said Wednesday.
The Bahrain Commission of Inquiry said in a statement that 84 opposition supporters are on hunger strike in prison. In addition, 17 detained activists have been hospitalized by the Interior Ministry for their refusal to eat.
Hundreds of activists have been imprisoned since February when Shiite-led demonstrations for greater rights began in the Sunni-ruled Bahrain, the home of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. More than 30 people have been killed since protests inspired by Arab uprisings began in February.
Large clashes broke out between riot police and youth protesters after a celebration over the release of one of the doctors from prison in northern city of Dih.
An unknown number of protesters were wounded when security forces fired shotguns, according to witnesses. Clashes between youth and police are a near nightly occurence in Bahrain, but Wednesday evening’s clashes in Dih were the largest in weeks, witnesses said.
The five-member panel has been set up in June to investigate the unrest. Wednesday’s statement said an international expert on hunger strikes will join the panel to visit the striking detainees and evaluate their condition.
“Medical advice will be provided and the expert will discuss the challenges of hunger strike,” the statement said, adding that the hunger strike started nine days ago.
Among the jailed activists on hunger strike are doctors who are on trial in a special security court on charges of participating in efforts to overthrow Bahrain’s 200-year-old monarchy.
The doctors’ trial is being closely watched by rights groups, which have criticized Bahrain’s use of the security court, which includes military prosecutors and civilians and military judges.
The case against 11 health professionals was back in the special tribunal on Wednesday. After the hearing, the eleven defendants were released from custody, although they remain charged with anti-state crimes, a lawyer for one of the doctors said. It was not immediately clear if the released doctors continue to strike.
The lawyer, Hassan Radhi, told The Associated Press the trial adjourned until Sept. 26.
Other jailed opposition supporters have joined the strike, including two prominent Shiite activists, Abdul Jalil al-Singace and Abdulhadi al-Khawaja. They were sentenced to life in prison in June for their role in protests.
The Bahrain Commission of Inquiry includes international judicial and human rights experts. They started the probe with the consent of the Sunni rulers.
The commission’s findings are expected Oct. 30.
Shiites comprise about 70 percent of Bahrain’s 525,000 people, but are blocked from top political and security posts. …source
September 9, 2011 No Comments
August 29, 2011 No Comments
Posted on August 11 2011
25 January 2011 was a day like no other for 26-year-old Egyptian women’s activist Sally Zohney. Through a youth-led campaign on Facebook, she received a message to protest against poverty, unemployment and corruption. As a successful, educated middle-class woman, Zohney says her parents did not understand why she had to go. But she could not turn her back on the issues. Zohney snuck out of her home in the direction of Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where she was met with thousands of others demanding a new Egypt.
“Being in the square was a 24-hour adrenaline rush, a place of utopia that I cannot put into words,” describes Zohney, who says there was no turning back.
Those 24 hours turned into 18 days of protests that would eventually topple the country’s 30-year regime under Hosni Mubarak. Some call the defining moment Egypt’s “Berlin Wall,” others the “Social Media Revolution” for its use of Facebook and Twitter to mobilize crowds. To Zohney, like many of her generation, it was a “Youth Revolution.”
“It was the first time for so many of us, the young generation, to take to the streets and see how large our numbers are,” says Zohney, who today is a Youth Specialist at UN Women. Well before the protests, youth were already speaking out and mobilizing through Facebook groups, such as “We are all Khaled Said,” to protest against corruption and police brutality. What is more, she says, was the sheer strength and determination of all around her, particularly women, who dispelled the image of women wearing “burkas” to the world. Instead, they were “chanting, leading protests, organizing meetings late at night.”
“Now activism allows diversity,” adds Zohney. She explains that before the revolution, women’s movements were led by older generations, mainly upper-class women from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and established institutions. Since the uprising, she sees a younger crowd, including young women from different educational and social backgrounds, shaping the dialogue for Egypt’s shared vision. …more
August 12, 2011 No Comments
By MUSTAPHA AJBAILI – Al Arabiya And Agencies
More than 200 people were wounded in Egypt’s capital Cairo on Saturday during clashes between pro-democracy protesters angry at the ruling military council’s handling of the transition period and army loyalists.
The military has been traditionally regarded with respect in Egypt. The fact that protesters marched to convey their displeasure was in itself a highly significant matter.
The two sides pelted each other with stones and Molotov cocktails, prompting the army to fire in air to disperse the crowds.
“Down with the military,” the protesters chanted, branding its leader Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi “an agent of America.”
Such chants were regarded by veteran analysts as signifying overt disrespect toward the country’s highest military leader – again, a most unusual occurrence.
An Egyptian army officer shakes hands with a protester. (REUTERS Photo)
An Egyptian army officer shakes hands with a protester. (REUTERS Photo)
Ambulances were seen tending to the injured, as an army helicopter flew overhead shining its spotlight into the crowd.
Marshal Tantawi vowed on Saturday to build “the pillars of a democratic state which promotes freedom and the rights of citizens.”
Marshal Tantawi, whose military council took over after a popular uprising forced President Hosni Mubarak to step down in February 2011, was seen leaving the compound before the protesters arrived.
Egyptian youth protesters vowed to remain in Tahrir Square until their demands are met, after violence broke out in a number of Egyptian cities between military police and protesters on Friday, in which up to 10 people and four policemen were hurt.
The army denied using force against demonstrators.
Protesters now in their 15th day of demonstrations have been camped in Tahrir and other squares across the country to back demands for more freedom for the civilian government, led by Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, an end to military trials and setting a time frame for the completion of the demands for reform.
In his speech to mark the anniversary of the 1952 revolution that overthrew the debauched King Farouk in a bloodless coup, Marshal Tantawi said his mandate was to deliver an elected government to Egypt.
“We are committed to pressing ahead in turning Egypt to a modern civilian state,” Marshal Tantawi said in his speech.
“We are moving forward on the path to entrenching democracy that upholds freedoms and the rights of citizens through free and fair elections,” he added in a pre-recorded speech, his first address to the public since Mr. Mubarak was ousted. …source
July 24, 2011 No Comments
New ministers in a sweeping reshuffle of Egypt’s cabinet took their oaths in front of the country’s military ruler on Thursday, as the prime minister sought to appease protestors over the pace of reform.
Roughly half of the ministers in the reshuffled cabinet are new.
The new team was meant to take office on Monday but the ceremony was delayed amid wrangling which led to Prime Minister Essam Sharaf’s brief hospitalisation with exhaustion.
Sharaf had hoped the new cabinet would mollify activists who have been camped out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square since 8 July, but they have rejected the new line-up, which retains several ministers they want sacked.
According to a list published on MENA, the official news agency, several controversial ministers kept their posts, including two appointed under ousted president Hosni Mubarak.
The protesters wanted Sharaf to replace Justice Minister Abdel Aziz al-Gindi, whom they accused of delaying trials of former regime officials, including Mubarak himself.
Activists have called for a mass demonstration on Friday, dubbing it the “Decisive Friday”, while hardline Islamist groups say they are organising a counter-demonstration for “stability.”
It will be the second cabinet to take office in the face of protests since a nationwide revolt overthrew Mubarak in February. …more
July 22, 2011 No Comments
NO to the Treachery Act – NO to the Release of Perpetrators: Towards an independent judicial committee to establish transitional justice in Egypt
The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) welcomes the decision by Judge Mohammed al-Gharyani, the president of the Supreme Judicial Council, to appoint a committee to discuss a new law to ensure financial and administrative independence of the judiciary in accordance with international standards. This decision is considered a step forward in preparation for the second National Conference on Justice—which has not been convened since the first conference was held in 1986—with the goal of adopting a comprehensive strategy to advance the judiciary and the Egyptian legal system and to establish the pillars for the rule of law in the post-revolution society.
CIHRS believes that securing judicial independence and immunizing it against interventions from the executive is vital to dispel growing doubts about the possibility of fair and expeditious trials for former regime officials accused of involvement in the killing of demonstrators, grave human rights violations, and corruption. At the same time, however, CIHRS fears that the current course of legal accountability for criminal, economic, and political crimes committed by former regime figures puts the justice system itself at risk and threatens Egyptians’ aspirations for deterrent, fair punishment of perpetrators of these crimes as well as for justice for the victims. The delays and lax measures taken against those responsible for most of these crimes raise serious doubts about the potential for tampering with evidence, manipulating witnesses, and more.
CIHRS believes that both trying former regime figures as well as protecting the credibility of the judiciary require correcting the course of these trials and reshaping the justice system to meet the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people.
If the political will exists to hold the Mubarak regime accountable, those responsible for administering the affairs of the country must create an integrated system to receive complaints and criminal claims and establish a fund for compensation or reparation for damages as an attempt to correct the current course of affairs. They must also establish a cohesive system for legal and political investigations into decades of abuses – not just into what occurred in a few days between January 25 and February 2 – and issue credible reports about these investigations, including judicial recommendations to address these abuses and to prevent their recurrence.
CIHRS believes that accountability should not be limited to the killing of demonstrators during the Egyptian revolution but rather that it should extend to the systematic crimes of torture and enforced disappearance seen over at least the last 30 years as well as to the crime of referring civilians to exceptional or military courts, particularly considering that some of these civilians were sentenced to death and executed. The violations of Egyptians’ rights over the past decades ultimately required a popular revolution to confront them, but now an institutional revolution is needed to end such policies and practices and to guarantee that they will not be repeated. The problems and abuses of the past are too complex to be resolved through one traditional mode of action given the multiplicity of perpetrators, crimes, and victims. …more
July 21, 2011 No Comments
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
The Committee to Protect Journalists
The reinstatement of Egypt’s Information Ministry that was abolished in February constitutes a substantial setback for media freedom in Egypt, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On Saturday, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), swore in the former editor-in-chief of the daily Al-Wafd, Osama Heikal, as minister of information. Tantawi asked Heikal to “reorganize the Egyptian media and draw up a plan that addresses all the shortcomings that came from abolishing the post of minister of information,” a military source told Agence France-Presse. The ministry and the post of information minister were scrapped in February, just days after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. Doing away with the ministry–viewed by many journalists and press freedom advocates as the propaganda arm of Mubarak’s regime–was a key demand of members of the 18-day revolution that took place in January and February.
“Reinstating the Ministry of Information is an unambiguous setback for media freedom in Egypt,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. “A government body whose primary function was to enforce media orthodoxy and punish dissent during decades of authoritarian rule is not a suitable entity to reform the media sector.”
On Sunday, the National Coalition for Media Freedom, an alliance that includes 13 human rights groups, research organizations, trade unions, and 20 media activists rejected the appointment, saying in a statement that it constituted “a step backwards with the liberalization of media policy and independence from the executive power, stressing that the Ministry of Information exists only in totalitarian states and dictatorships.” …source
July 14, 2011 No Comments
by Paul Woodward eurasiareview.com
The Iranian nation has become a model for the other nations through its resistance and insistence on Islam and Islamic establishment and due to the eye-catching progress it has made on this path throughout the last 32 years,” Ayatollah Khamenei said while addressing a military gathering in Tehran today.
But the Muslim Brotherhood is more interested in expressing its solidarity with its secular co-revolutionaries than its Iranian co-religionists. This isn’t an Islamic revolution, they say — stating the obvious. It’s an Egyptian revolution.
[Read more →]
February 10, 2011 No Comments
by Abdel Moneim Abou el-Fotouh WashingtonPost
Like Egyptians from all walks of life, we in the Muslim Brotherhood are taking part in the popular uprising to depose a repressive dictator. The overwhelming majority of Egyptians demand the immediate ouster of Hosni Mubarak and his regime.
Once this basic demand is met, we seek to share in the debate sweeping the country and to be part of the resolution, which we hope will culminate in a democratic form of government. Egyptians want freedom from tyranny, a democratic process and an all-inclusive dialogue to determine our national goals and our future, free of foreign intervention.
We are mindful, however, as a nonviolent Islamic movement subjected to six decades of repression, that patent falsehoods, fear mongering and propaganda have been concocted against us in Mubarak’s palaces the past 30 years and by some of his patrons in Washington. Lest partisan interests in the United States succeed in aborting Egypt’s popular revolution, we are compelled to unequivocally deny any attempt to usurp the will of the people. Nor do we plan to surreptitiously dominate a post-Mubarak government. The Brotherhood has already decided not to field a candidate for president in any forthcoming elections. We want to set the record straight so that any Middle East policy decisions made in Washington are based on facts and not the shameful – and racist – agendas of Islamophobes.
[Read more →]
February 10, 2011 No Comments
The Making of Egypt’s Revolution
By ESAM AL-AMIN
Freedom lies behind a door, closed shut
It can only be knocked down with a bleeding fist
— Egyptian Poet-Laureate Ahmad Shawqi (1869-1932)
On April 21, 2008, an assistant high school principal placed an advertisement in Al-Ahram, the largest daily newspaper in Egypt, pleading disparately with President Hosni Mubarak and his wife to intervene and release her daughter from prison.
It turned out that her 27 year-old daughter, Israa’ Abd el-Fattah, was arrested 10 days earlier because of her role in placing a page on Facebook encouraging Egyptians to support a strike in the industrial city of al-Mahalla that had taken place on April 6.
In her spare time, she and two of her colleagues created the Facebook page. Within days of posting it, over 70,000 people supported their call. After the security forces cracked down against the huge riots in al-Mahalla on April 6, Abd el-Fattah was arrested.
What was odd about this arrest was that although thousands of people have been arrested over the past three decades, it was the first time that a warrant was issued against a female under the notorious emergency laws imposed in the country since 1981. To get out of prison she had to apologize and express regret for her actions. But the experience made her more determined than ever to be politically active.
On that day, the “April 6 Youth” movement was created. For the next two and a half years it maintained its presence and created one of the most popular political forums on several social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.
When the president of Tunisia, Zein al-Abideen Ben Ali, was deposed on January 14, following a four week popular uprising, the April 6 movement, like millions of youth across the Arab World, was inspired, energized, and called for action.
Changing of the Guard: the Youth leads
Looking at the calendar, Israa’ and her colleagues picked the next Egyptian holiday, which was ironically “Police Day” falling on Tuesday, January 25. Within a few days they called on all social media sites for massive protests and an uprising against the Mubarak regime.
They called for marches to start from all major squares, mosques and churches in Cairo and Alexandria while asking others to help plan in other Egyptian cities. They insisted that the protests would be peaceful and that no one should bring weapons of any type. …more
February 1, 2011 No Comments