Wednesday, September 10, 2008

U.S- diva?

Hello friends!

im off to the U.S tomorrow for 2 weeks for a collective blogging expedition. im going to be sort of US-focused so if I dont manage to post here often, come and take a looksie at what me and 7 other egyptian bloggers are saying on :

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Shanty Town 2

They were given nothing, they lost everything, and the police, in this police state, in this "regional powerhouse", in this arrogant regime, still in its ruthless form, was motionless, handicapped, irritating, authoritative, and talking shit.

all pictures are lifeted from

Monday, September 8, 2008

Shanty Town 1

I don't know what to say. It's one thing to see total, utter lack of management and complete incompetence when its the parliament thats enflamed, and no one really cares much, at least on any humanitarian level (although its disturbing- not surprising- to confirm that no one cares about the parliament burning to a crisp)..
But its quite another thing to see a 15 ton slab of mountain dislocate from Moqattam and crash onto the heads of hudreds of families in their sleep. And its yet another thing to read the stories of the survivor's who were forbidden from trying to rescue their relatives caught somewhere beneath the rockslide. In one report, one man's brother was calling him consistently for three hours, confirming that he's still alive, begging for help, suffocating. On the other side, his brother was stopped by the police from going in. And they all just stood there. Because the authorities could do nothing. as usual.

The level of bullshit we are being asked to swallow about the Al Doweqa incident is massive. From the very beginning, the fact that several reports were submittied warning precisely of this sort of natural disaster were entirely overlooked. Actually, lets take it a step further and wonder WHY such an enormous area of shanty's, slums, were left completely ignored, with not a single amenity and now, we see, not the slightest concern for the safety of the people's lives. I guess its not surprising, we're not really big on human life. I dont have it in me to explain what is wrong, what is so messed up about having a government that not only is unable to protect the most vulnerable of its citizens pre-emptively, but is so careless and paralysed when the shit does actually hit the fan.

For facts and figures and a complete report:
(el badeel is also accessible in english)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Egypt Blogs America

Starting Next Week EgyDiva will also be a contributor to a collective blogging project called:

its not operative yet, but keep an eye out...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

مسيحية بنت إية؟؟؟؟

In creating this blog ive discovered some things about inspiration and writing, at least as far as I am concerned. often, if i really want to say something on my blog, i cant because i feel overwhelmed and pressured, and i cant bring myself to articulate the multitude of emotions and impressions i have about an instance, or moment or phenomenon. but i cant just ignore it and move on. im blocked. i cant write about anything else until i find a way to write about whatever it is that last caught my attention. so here it is, because its been too long and i need to move on. sorry if someone doesnt understand the parts in arabic . this happened about a week and a half ago-strange relationship one develops with one's blog......:

"I left my dad's house to go to work feeling great. wonderful mood this morning! got into a cab, Garden city? Garden City, no problems. He took another lady in, she was going to zamalek, I told him, Im going downtown! He said, dont worry, dont worry, Ill take you. So I thought, OK, he'll take me first.

Of course, I was wrong, he got to the 15 May bridge and went down straight ahead to 26th of July instead of taking a right for the corniche. So I told him "ana leh fil zamalek dilwa2ti?" and he said, ill take you, ill take you- so I said, ya3ni ana waraya shoghl we inta mayenfa3sh takhod qararat kida liwa7dak we te2akhar ilnas" so he just got really annoyed and angry and started saying inti 3ayza eh we 2oltilik hawadeeki, we heya nazla hinaho blaa blaa i told him mish mawdoo3 hatwadeeni ana waraya ma3ad, you cant just decide to make me late without even informing me we mat3alish sotak. so he pulled over in 26th july and basically kicked me out saying, khalas, inzili hina we 7asbini. I was shocked, and i said, a7asbak leh wenta mawadetnish ilmakan illy ana 3ayzaah? Then he started cursing, so I cursed back at him the same tihng he said, and I told him ya3ni ghaltan we kaman 3ayez titbaltag we te2el 2adabak, as I was getting out. and then while i was slamming the door, takhayalo 2ali eh? "mese7eya bint weskha". yes. this translates to you dirty Christian.مسيحية بنت وسخة

Can you imagine this???? Begad I could not believe it. I mean, I know that cab drivers momkin yikoono watyeen, we weskheen, we khara. but really, mese7eya bint weskha? fe3lan e7na ba2ena kida? And I dont know what that means, that any non veiled girl is christian, or that christian dee lewa7daha ba2et shiteema momkin tit2al zay yel3an deenak masalan aw zay eh bilzabt. And I only feel the need to indicate here that im not christian because if i was the next part of the story would have been me climbing ontop of the car as it drove away and beating it in with my fists.

instead, because i didnt have time to answer before he drove away, I just got into another taxi and I just felt tired, and sad. past anger, I was just holding back my tears the whole ride. not because I was offended, I wasnt offended from this idiot, but I was sad and tired. Sad that people are really this way, such disgusting, low human beings. and tired because Im sick of dealing with them.
I cant start my day like this. I cant start my morning in work crying because of one piece of shit and probably meeting five others before I get home.

Luckily my boss had a meeting outside the office this morning and she's still not back so I could just release it and just cry a little bit in peace. Peace, thats all I want. I cant shoulder all of this. Its enough I always have to defend myself every time im in the street, but am I going to defend the dignity of Christians now too? How many battles can I get in in one day? I have already resigned myself to the fact that life in Egypt is hard, but then there are these shocking moments, these moments of pure hatred, simple misery when I am ashamed to be here, and when I feel truly, truly, overwhelmed and disgusted and tired and most of all confused. And they are always abrupt. Who is this man? Who is he? And how many of those do I have to meet in my day to day life here in this country? Do I have to escape to reserve my dignity or at least not to show up at work in tears? What if my boss comes now and my eyes are red, what should I say? Do I have to lie? Or am I forced to share with my boss that I am under constant attack in my own country. this is abnormal. The amount of hostility I feel thrown at me is unreasonable, the amount of sheilds, or of counter attacks, is inhuman. As if life isnt hard enough without having to enter into a war, a war with no clear enemy, faceless enemies and nameless faces.

I am tired. Im exhausted. and Im so sad. And im in disbelief from that taxi driver. and I hate him. I detest him. If I could see him again I would want to whack him in the face with my bag, I would kick him with my heels in the stomach. I would ask him if he thinks he is the Muslim. I would ask him how dare he speak to any human being this way.
And I hate him even more for bringing up these feelings in me, for bringing up this sense of loss, this loss of hope, this helplessness and at the time this disgust, this anger, this pure hatred. Both are feelings im not used to, I dont like, I dont need. So who are you? What made you like this? How do you justify this behavior?

Monday, August 25, 2008

When will apartheid fall?

At times its hard to believe that pressure, protest, opposition, have the power to bring about real change. Its not always easy because you can't always see the result right away. In this case it took SEVEN years.

The Palestinian- Jewish Unity (PJU), a Montreal based group, have been organizing protests against Israel's apartheid policy every week since 2001, infront of Israel's consulate in downtown Montreal. Apparently, the bad publicity has finally embarrased the Israelis enough to move their consulate to a more discreet location where they wouldnt be publically criticized. Every week between 20 to 30 people got together in protest and pushing for international boycott of Israel.

Sometimes I wonder how in the Arab world we could never get this amout of order and determination to protest anything on a weekly basis. Granted, that would also involve getting beat up by the police on a weekly basis too, but I imagine some national causes would be worth getting together once a week and saying something about it. Maybe I have an unrealistic understanding of the political context? Maybe. But more so, I think I have a realistic understanding of the mismanagement and disorder of Egyptian opposition and civil society movements. I think the main problem would be to get five or six NGO's to decide on one cause to support for a prolonged period of time and to sacrifice their name as THE organizer of that event. If it takes seven years to get ONE consulte in ONE country (Canada, no less) to MOVE, not even banished, then perhaps we should get started on our own problems now..

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Inspired by a fellow blogger's entry testing the argument that First Ladies are always uglier than thier presidential husbands, or at least they should be for the candidate to be successful,
I decided to move away from posts only about state security police and corrupt police, and throw out a"fashion police" for you..

In the spirit of poking holes in hypotheses, which is a fun past time, I argue that in the Arab world this theory is totally untrue. Behold, below, The First Ladies of Egypt, Jordan and Syria respectively (two for Egypt because we already know whats coming) . Its too bad we never even see the first ladies of some of the Arab states, but I assume the Saudi first lady is a sexy mama, all blinged out and manicured...

Mama Suzanne's back in the 80's- style! flair! poise!

Khadija's killer body and hair. Egypt 2- America zero.
Queen Rania of Jordan, absolutely gorgeous. Love the suit!
Asma Al Asad, not so much in the public eye, being married to the world's least popular leader, but definitely something to look at... (why is this turning into a celebrity gossip blog? )

So, it seems, the Middle East comes out ahead when it comes to hotness. Come to think of it, i think the presidents are hotter than the Western presidents as well. Ok, Ill say it: I'd much sooner hook up with Bashar Al Asad than Nicolas Sarkozy and I have no doubt that Ahmedinijad is a better date than George Bush.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

لا يا شيخ؟

نظيف: الحكومة تتحمل تكلفة إعادة بناء وترميم «الشوري» بالكامل

أمال كمان كان هيكون على حسابنا؟؟

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Adding Insult to Injury

Now I'm not sure what bothers me more. No wait, I am sure. This bothers me more:

Not only did we see the dismal performance in putting out the fire, and the loss of the antique building, and the havoc created by police and officials trying to orchestrate the whole fiasco,but the efforts were directed more to repressing the opposition media from covering a very obvious disaster than to repressing the disaster itself and containing it. Once again, the police have no clear priorities, no clear mind and seem to comfort themselves using human punching bags whenever possible.

Al Masry Al Youm's Parliament correspondent, the official correspondent, who even has a press ID given from the shura council itself, was attacked by the police and his ID was torn. El Badeel, my favorite opposition paper at the moment was prohibited from issuing its paper today because the headlines claimed that "flames consume Ferry, contaminated blood, cancerous pesticides and Upper Egypt train files”. Instead they could only print their online version.

As for the state papers, the headline read "Mubarak closely follows the events of the fire and makes three phonecalls to Al Sharif"- who the fuck cares? They also, myteriously, counted ONE HUNDRED fire engines at the scene.

News flash to the news makers: the public is not blind, and most of us can count.

Liar, Liar, House on Fire

The fire that started in the Shura Council (Parliament) yesterday early in the evening (and went on for a tumultous nine hourse) may have started because of a short circuit, but the reason it went on for so long was doubtlessly the complete incompetence and total lack of crisis management displayed by the Egyptian "action" taking bodies. The fire spun out of control and destroyed this gorgeous 19th century building despite the fact that over 30 fire trucks and a helicopter were part of the so-called "rescue" effort. Thankfully, the flames didnt spread to the nearby Geographic Institute which houses ancient and rare documents. Not that anyone was concerned about that anyways, rather the area was sealed of (in a clumsy, hectic fervor) to protect the U.S, British and Canadian embassies that neighbor it. Of course, if it had been Suzanne Mubarak passing through Kasr El Aini street, you would have seen the most impeccable coordination skills at making sure that she whizzes through unobstructed, you would have witnessed precision, skill, fearlessess. But when its a fire with some government workers who happened to be working in vacation season we cant aim a house at a flame right.

I really feel safer than ever. So we cant put out a fire in our own parliament. The important people were apparently only effective in making "phonecalls"- for some reason the headlines on the state media keep telling us that Mubarak made three phonecalls, Ahmed Ezz called his buddies and Fathy Serour, though he couldnt be there himself because he was in his summer home outside of Cairo, was very concerned. Concerned enough to pick up a cell phone.

It really makes me wonder what would happen to us if we were caught in a building Fathy Serour didnt even care about. If this is how they "save" their power house, then I expect to be burnt to a dark crisp if im ever near a naked flame in Egypt.

Im going to think twice before even turning out my gas oven at home now.

40 trucks, 9 hours, and total failure. What a mess. What a complete fuck up.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Musharaf resigns for the sake of Pakistan.


يل ترى بعده مين اللي هيحس على دمه؟

Mugabe can you hear me?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Chew your qat quietly, please.

One Lebanese newspaper got it right when they caught the Yemenis, dreaming of Saudi Arabia. What a nightmarish thought, you say? Well, yes, apparently, the Yemenis are really exceeding themselves in the pursuit of being all around nightmarish people. Their latest acheivement being the election of a full fledged "promotion of virtue and prevention of vice committee" a la Saudi Arabia, complete with a police force and everything! Some of you might be more familiar with the concept as "النهى عن المنكر والامر بالمعروف"- but give anyone such unabated moral authority and watch them run around beating people to death for having alcohol, or forcing them to be burned in a school fire because they weren't dressed appropriately enough to be saved.

To know more about the Saudi religious police force (as opposed to all the raging secularism going on over there) check out the blog "Religious Policeman" dedicated to the lives of the schoolgirls who were lost in that fire.

In case you had more faith in the Yemen (because, of course, they are known for their triumphs in every field, particulary social justice) just take a looksie at what the committee has had to say already : "God intended women to be beautiful, and men to be attracted to women...if women reveal their beauty, men will be seduced and extramarital sex will occur. This will result in sexual chaos."

Not really sure what sexual chaos entails, but im sure Yemen already has it.

Also, they have vowed to disable all institutions which "wave war against God" like bars. Oh well, guess those crazy club hopping Sana'a nights are over.

Dear lord, I hope this disease isnt contagious.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Living My Life like its Golden

but its been tough. since ive started work, 7 months ago, ive seen and experienced egypt in a totally different way, i cant even recognize my country as i "thought" i knew it, and as i had positioned myself within it. i feel different in the street, partly because now, i am a woman, and i cant tell im seen as one, i dont look like a school girl or a colllege girl, i look different, i dress different, i speak different and i act differently, and its been strange and their have been great triumphs, because i am able now to be comfortable and confident and be everything my father has raised me, but there have been great disappointments too. These come when i ask myself, why i am so motivated, so genuine, so adamant in trying to support and care and work for a society that treats me like shit. for a society of people who call me a whore when i walk in the street or stare at my zipper on my jeans or call me "2alelt il2adab" when i tell some guy who drives up to me and my friend at 11 pm that he is a jerk. why do i give a shit? When i get whistled at, INSIDE cars, when i get looked at from up to down on my way to work when i get pushed from behind trying to buy a newspaper just so that i can read about the news of this nation? Its hard not to decide to just leave, and be free, and be relaxed, and be sexual and be normal, and just. be.
on the other hand sometimes i get these great ideas about what i have the capacity, skill, knowledge and connections to do.sometimes I have plans, schemes, entire campaigns in my head. but do i have it in my soul, and in my razor blade mind, and in my heart, and in my body, to do what it might take to realise them? I know im pretty new at all of this, and im giving it a shot i guess.
Egypt is driving me out of my mind, i believe. In taxis I look at the window into every side street, every car, every shop, every balcony, to try to understand people's lives. the specemins here are endless, the complexities unfathomable, the nuances unexamined, the variations inexplicable. Cairo is a huge, enormous city. There is so much good, and so, so, much bad and its bogged down by its own enormity and stature and the wheels that are already in motion. I read one newspaper from cover to cover, and i need to sit down. I sigh involuntarily as i turn the page. Stabbing over a game of chess. Stabbing over a loaf of bread. Are they related? Mass scandal over high school examination. Mass scandal from millionare business man. No reaction either way. Stifling, constant, passivity, its too overwhelming to react. its paralyzing.
What is my role? I am not willing to be miserable for the sake of a noble cause, I know that much. There are some absolutes I know I need. I know I need love, and companionship, and time away from the desk, and time to be creative, and time to listen to music in my room, in the dark, for hours and feel every decibel and live through it. time to exercise. i know i need my family. i know i need money. i know i need my friends. and i know i need to feel like im contributing and acquiring knowledge, but at what expense? and for what end? Personal or universal, short term or long term, bla bla bla. it doesnt stop.These are the things I cant control. So i need a little help on the things that are in my hands. sometimes.


somethings in life are in your control, and some things you can only watch as they follow a predestined trajectory of events, feelings, meetings, coincidences, loves, losts, whatever. and something are a crossroad, where you can either leave it up to the gods and the universe, sigh, and sit back, distracted, or you can take them by the hand and make them yours if you so resolve. Many times Ive felt that this relationship was at a crossroad. and i think all relationships are often that way. and i think every time ive decided to make in my control, and try to do what feels right. and i think every time its been worth it. but sometimes i wonder if its recognized. Clearly, girls have different needs in relationships than guys. girls, for example, have to remind themselves that there is a million other things happening for them, good, great, things, so why do they focus on the tiniest,most oblivious detail? With guys, its the opposite. so many things are happening so they forget about the details. to each is their virture.
i dont really want to talk about girls and guys as if i understand them. but i can talk about myself. i know that there was a day when i felt that this guy i was seeing, it would never work out because we couldnt have real conversations. and i know that know, you're the person i want to talk to the most at certain moments. and you're the person i talk to the least,obviously, because you're gone.But when i feel alone, or overwhelmed, or when i feel stressed, or when i feel like im becoming a computer because of how much i stare at the screen at work, or when i feel so depressed about how difficult it is to live in egypt as a young woman, when every time i walk into the streets its a battle and i have to prove myself with every asshole passing by with something to say, or when i feel disgusted because i find something out about government, and politics, and greed and i feel like im bursting out of my skin to do something about it, and when i feel passionate and alive and young and feminine, and content because i actually get an idea about WHAT i want to do about it, I think of you. and i think sometimes that i have so many thoughts that my mind cant handle. there's a song i love and the line goes 'mind is a razor blade'.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


thanks to a comment on the post dated July 21st, its been brought to my attention that perhaps I was being a little rigid with the indicators, or at least being a little too selective. Indeed, Maryanne, indicators are a changing, conflicted, and of course-superflous- thing, which is why I love them so much. So yes, the amount of services/goods available by phone or online delivery is indeed an indicator of the GREAT, GREAT success of a nation. And one of the things that makes me proud to be Egyptian is the ever expansive network of delivery system: pharmacies, supermarkets, phone bills, fast food, home made food, you name it. I for one am shocked by the shameful display of delivery incompetance in much of the so-called developed world. Its not fair to point out things like the outstanding urban planning of the Parisians and forget to hail the impeccable planning and coordination techniques involved in the comprehensive "Call Center" mechanism we have perfected here in Egypt. We should still work on the, say, music and the torture, you know but still, at least even the most absurd product is only a phone call away, and its cheap as hell.Power to the pharoas.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Official Petition to Amend Economic Indicators

I'm convinced that what actually qualifies a first world country as such despite the inevitably arbitrary (and simultaneously calculated) nature of such a category- is not in reality how much poverty or dust or filth you have- but how convincing your "uppity" parts of town are. Sure there's some dirt in Paris (Ok, I'm pushing it but I saw some ugly mounds of cigarette butts I swear) but what matters is that the clean parts, the pretty parts, the rosy picture in convincingly rosy and you cant say shit about regardless of how well your critical minds deconstructs such "illusions". It's gorgeous, even with the passed out alcoholic and the crazy lady talking to the pigeons.

In Egypt for example, we are reaching a tipping point whereby even the hippest, million dollar real estate neighborhood is infested with filth, intolerably polluted, perpetually in decay and moulding over with the inescapable stench of corruption and all around general doom.

Of course, there are other indicators of quality of life other than the height of trash piles in the pretty streets in Maadi and Zamalek, such as

- how many prisoners the police take to electrocuting each day ?

- thethe ratio of covered : uncovered skin a woman can get away with without risking gang rape.

- Decibels of noise drilling into your brain at given moment

- Proportion of population wearing ALL STAR shoes (I never said the indicators were a good or bad thing)

- Quality and overall pleasantness of music streaming in the street at given moment

- Do people insist on decorating Mosques/Churches with florescent green lights to distract from the more attractive architecture?

- the answer to the question "Does McDonalds even TRY to accommodate your culture?" (Did you know that Mcdonalds serve shisha in Turkey? Outdoors)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Middle Aged Niqabi Turtle Heads Vs Turkish facist Power Trips?

I've always been anti-niqab. It's flat out hostility on my part. To my credit, I have nuanced my perception of those who immerse all which manifests themselves in form and space into a black abyss. I do now believe that they talk like other Egyptians and not only in classical, 'fusha' Arabic. Or in gargoyle tongue. Although some of those Khaleeji dialects might as well be.What I'm still conflicted about is how much I'm willing to defend niqab, in principle. Their right to bury their features and shape into a dark jelly puddle with feet, which granted, they are entitled to. This moral debate came up recently when I arrived in the Turkish airport (which by the way has the most disorienting set of arrivals, I was literally peering over people's shoulders to see their passports, where else do you see a group of Uzbek soldiers in full uniform and looking like an ethnic meltpot). Large groups of Gulfies arrive in Istanbul every day and the women are forced to uncover their faces at the passport check in desks to some weird Turkish government employee. What gives some passport stamping, Noor-watching, Mohannad-loving former Ottoman imbecile the right to force the women to show her face at the length of time of his discretion? The Turkish government? The New World Order? National Security? Whatever it is, something just didn’t sit right and I cant even stand that morphous black cloak, no matter how pimped out the sleeves are with diamond studs, or how gorgeous the lashes pertrubing from the peek holes are.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Palestinians make me Sea Sick, IDF makes me Sick.

I met a Palestinian girl the other day who asked me why I've never posted anything about Palestine and Israel on my blog yet. I told her that when it comes to Palestine and Israel,I wonder where to start, what year, what concept, side, what angle, what to say, who to address, and why. Its always overwhelming for me.

And then I heard about THIS. An actual checkpoint ordered by the IDF to prohibit Palestinians from entering the shores of the Dead sea in the West Bank. It makes my stomach churn.

"For now" the prohibition is imposed on weekends and holidays so as not to turn the Israeli sea side goers off with the unsightly vision of Palestinians on nearby shores.

When questioned about the legality of the move, the commander said it would be easy to find "a post facto security justification" This is truly disgusting. It just plain out says: its bad for Israeli business so lets keep them out. And lets make a law from the highest constitutional body to pass it. And lets worry about explaining it later.

So not only are we using the 'security' argument to keep the business going, we want to make this profit exclusive only to Israelis although its actually located on the Occupied Territories
and of course, keep the Palestinians out of the only beach spot still accessible to them.

Pass me a bucket someone, Im going to puke all over the Israeli beach managers and the military and jurists who support them.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Stepping on virtual toes

The thing about making a blog in Egypt, its tricky. its a new field of opposition, or just expression in general. We bloggers still dont know the red lines, we dont know what to expect. and its not just blogging, even facebook is facing some brutal crackdowns by the Egyptian government. its shocking in a way, but on the other hand, they're trying to catch it while its still a fledgling avenue of saying how much things are fucked up and shitty. But we're still a negotiated space. Who would have expected that Ahmed Maher,the guy who created the facebook group about the national strike that happened last April would get hunted down and beaten the crap out of? I sure as hell didn't. I wonder if he even knew he was being adventurous, or daring? Am I being daring know by publishing his photo? I have no idea. I mean, when you're an Islamist, you know what you're getting into but the thing about blogging in Egypt, its tricky.

P.S: Maher's testimony is taken in Arabic but if you leave me a comment or email me ill translate some of the main points in English, although it does involve much swearing, sound effects and muffled noise.

Monday, June 2, 2008

"The storm of terrorism blows strong around us and our enemies lie in wait"

Well the second half of that sentence is certainly true. I havent heard of any terrorists around Egypt lately. Those were the profound words of Egyptian prime Minister Ahmed Nazif in parliament the other day when they decided to extend the Emergency Law for 2 more years.

I dont know which is worse: living under emergency law for two more years, as if the past 27 (million?) were not enough..or having to wait two more years to actually see what god forsaken stipulations actually make it onto the "counter terrorism" law that was supposed to replace emergency law this year. Actually, its a little ridiculous. They promised us a counter terrorism law, are we not good enough for one? Emergency laws are so out of fashion and all the other repressive, totalitarian states will think we're uncool. Lets not even ask the question of what it would take for us to actually operate under a "normal" or say, "constitutional" law. What are we, human or something?

Its interesting the Egyptian parliament, they announce this counter-terrorism bill, and everyone gets all worked up about it, we write press releases, civil society gets all antsy and submits recommendations and panics a little bit, the UN warns of the many violations of counter terrorism laws, and then all of a sudden- bam- emergency law again. Arbitrary detention, arrests without charges or warrants, torture without investigations, lack of privacy, exclusive authority to the military and executive branches of governement GALORE! Two more years of lawlessness just passed by law. Of course its justified, after all, we've had all that unrest and terrorist attacks and we've successfully cracked down on corruption and crime because of the exceptional stipulations of emergency law...erm, wait a minute....that cant be it...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

This is how we do it

The Egyptian Authorities always prepare for big, prestigious events, even if that preparation is questionable at best, and shortsighted, misguided and ludicrous at worst.
Currently, the authorities are preparting for The World Economic Forum scheduled to take place in Sharm El Sheikh at the end of the month. As security measures are tightened for the event- (because normally we're just so chill and relaxed about things)- they started deporting all kinds of manual and construction workers OUT of the entire South Sinai region as a whole.
Around 90% of the Southern Sinai (Dahab, Nuweiba, St.Katherines, Tora...) has been totally cleared from construction and other workers coming from other parts of the country to work. Business owners in Sinai, also found themselves staff-less in the middle of construction or peak tourism periods.

Once again Im struck by the irony: in order to prepare for a conference about ECONOMICS, talking about poverty, employment and productive growth- we directly resort to driving the rich out of business and rendering the poor unemployed.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

80 ain't nuttin but a numba!

President Mubarak turns 80 today.

This man has presided over me my entire life but I'm not about to start bitching about that. I don’t think I had even heard of the concept of consecutive presidency "terms" and "constitutional" "rules" for, um,"elections" until I was around 18 years old. I also had no idea about the age-defying power of black hair dye. Yes, Mr. president, you have taught us a lot.

When one day the Lord raises you up to heaven my favorite image of you will be the enormous billboard in Dokki of you looking just like De Niro, rocking the dark shades with the reflection of the pyramids glistening unto them.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Laf we Dawwar-an

The Kafr El Dawwar police outfit, much like their colleagues nationwide, are no strangers to absurdity. Their very sophisticated techniques have once again left me bewildered, not knowing whether I should be an outraged citizen or send them a note with a few pointers on how not to look/act/be total fools while trying to cover up horrendous corruption.

As the story goes, Ms. Magda Al Adly, a medical doctor and a member of the El Nadim Centre for Psychological Management and Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence was assaulted by police inside the courthouse of the town of Kafr El Dawwar in Northern Egypt. Adly was there to testify in defence of a case of a local family who had reportedly been severely beaten and abused in the Kafr Al Dawwar prison. Before she had the chance to do so, she was attacked by a man who appeared to be stealing her bag. He pushed her on the floor rendering her unconscious for some time as well as dislocating her shoulder.

Apparently, the officer was after some documents and photographs of the prisoners that prove that they had really been tortured and treated with cruelty in the prison.

The clumsy pickpocket later confessed he was actually acting upon order of Chief intelligence officer Ahmed Maklad of the Kafr El Dawwar police.

It doesn’t end there: he later changed his story claiming that Adly had tripped and fallen over and that to his surprise, while he was courteously helping her up, found that people were running after him so he got scared and started running.

Indeed, the act of helping someone up could easily be confused with pushing someone, shoving onto the courtroom floor and grabbing a purse out of their tightly clenched fists. IT could happen to anyone. Smartness.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Rich European Junkies back World Economy

Finally, an interesting angle to the global economy! Apparently, because the Euro is rising against the dollar, drug dealers are curbing supplies to the U.S and sending more cocaine, in better quality, to European party animals instead to make use of the favorable exchange rate! I see the Ph.D in Macro Economics has finally paid off for the Colombian drug lords. You have to respect that, no matter what your views on drug abuse. Better yet, since the Egyptian pound is still a joke we will never have to worry about a drug problem destroying the minds and souls of our younger generations. Anyways, we already have public education to do that for us.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Taliban: Our Muslim Ambassadors to the World

Reuters reports that Taliban has claimed responsibility for attacks on Dutch forces in Afghanistan as retaliation for "Fitna", the film that suggests the Qur'an incites violence. Ironic isn’t it? Let's take a second to ponder the thought process that may have occurred here: "They are calling Islam violent? What! We are Muslims, and we must prove them wrong! I will stab you and kill you till you die. Don’t you ever call Muslims violent again." I'm sure they got the point now. Thanks for clearing that up guys, making us proud as usual.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Off with their drug-dealing good for nothing Syrian Heads

The Saudi government beheaded two Syrian prisoners yesterday in the prison's courtyard. As if its not bad enough that they still have the death penalty, and as if its not bad enough that they choose to carry out this execution by decapitation, and AS IF its not bad enough that they choose to carry out this decapitation in the prison's public square, the worst part is that these Syrian prisoners were actually executed for crimes related to illicit drugs.

They kill drug dealers in Saudi Arabia? That's a little harsh. Especially since you would need to be a little hopped up on drugs to understand or tolerate the Saudi judicial system.

Dear Saudi executioner, please take a gander at Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified and entered into force over 30 years ago.

Article 3 of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

There's enough nonsense to go around

I have been in turmoil over my last entry for the past two nights. Its truly unfair to single out Islamic Facebook groups as being particularly loserly in finding titles to name their attempts to form virtual spiritual congregations. At least in Egypt, Coptic Christians have been equally unsuccessful.

The: "Christian Coptic Orthodox Egyptian Church Community World on Facebook" Is another prime example.

Again, I wonder. What is a community world? And does it only exist on facebook?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Who Needs Apples?

I resisted posting anything about Facebook because I try to be…original? But I've come to accept that the world of Facebook is a never-ending fountain of foolishness and generally entertaining factoids (anecdotes of lesser status and importance than proper facts). My last such discovery was the Facebook group cleverly titled:

"Two Pages of Quran a Day Keep Jahannam Away"

I wonder. In this analogy is Jahannam some body's annoying cousin? Actually, is it an analogy at all or is there some footnote in the Quran that scholars didn’t notice in which there's a precise mathematical equation of how many lines of holy text you should read per diem to keep your soul safely out of eternal hell? Who is your target Facebook-er anyways with such a ludicrous group name? Is there an untapped niche of tormented Muslims somewhere who had been eating two apples a day everyday trying to shun doctors the whole time? Is now the time to reach that population and sway them unto the righteous path of Facebook grouping?

I won't lie to you, my questions remain largely unanswered.


Friday, April 11, 2008

Vanilla Ice released after arrest

Robert Van Winkle (yes that is his real name) was thrown in jail for a while when his wife called the police on him claiming that he kicked and hit her. She later changed her claim to that he only "pushed her". Oh grow up. If I called the police every time I got pushed I'd never be able to ride the metro again. Anyways, he denied pushing her and was released. This is Vanilla Ice's most successful 'release' since Ice Ice Baby in 1993.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Crackdown on Opposition under Anti-terrorism Law

Last night prominent opposition speaker and former leader of the well known Kifaya movement George Ishak was arrested from his home after the movement backed a nationwide strike earlier this week.

State Security Prosecution interrogated Ishak the night of his arrest will hold him in detention until presented again to State Security Prosecution on the afternoon of April 10th. The charges against him are "conspiring with others to incite protest with the intention of committing crimes which violate rights of individuals, public property, and the use of violence and force to prevent the public authorities in the performance of their work".

Conveniently, these charges coincide with the stipulations of the Egyptian anti-terrorism of 1992 which reinforces the authorities' right to crackdown on human rights activism and peaceful political opposition, without really needing a basis, proof or anything really except their own sweet mood.

The new anti-terrorism "law" being drafted will ironically enough, imply even more lawlessness. It allows the police to detain civilians for a period of up to 11 days without pressing any charges. Just 'cause. During this period the defendant is denied access to a lawyer. Oh and judicial monitoring of procedures taken by the police is prohibited, so prisoners are totally suspect to any kind of abuse and torture during the 11 day "interrogation" period.

This particular arrest is one more blow on Egyptian opposition, particularly the Kifaya movement, in the aftermath of the April 6th strike. Police crackdown on the April 6th strikes and protests has been occurring elsewhere in Egypt, particularly in Mahallah, Northern Egypt where 85 protestors are currently being investigated with in neighboring Tanta.

Under International Law Egypt is bound to conform with article 8 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to which Egypt is party to, which declares that the state must ensure the right to strike, provided it is exercised in conformity with the Egyptian law.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Cowabunga Bush!

George Bush recently admitted that his regime approves of the 'waterboarding' technique. No, the American president is not talking about a new form of national watersports. Rather, he is openly condoning the use of a recognized form of torture as an interrogation tactic in Guantanamo prison. 'Waterboarding' is a pleasant and moist experience involving dunking someone's head in water in a prolonged simulation of drowning, in order to get them to 'confess' to committing 'crimes'. As a wild guess Im going to assume these are probably crimes related to September 11th. Congress actually tried to outlaw waterboarding, but Bush proudly vetoed that decision. The CIA never uses torture of course, but they have admitted to "waterboarding" several Al Qaeda members. They're going to dunk every last one of them, donuts style.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Oui Monsieur President, We Auctioned Your Wife

You have to love the French. The nude photo of Carla Bruni, the first lady of France, was taken in 1993 in the height of her modeling career and she is undeniably gorgeous. My favorite thing about this story is that apparently it was expected to go for only $3000 meaning it was actually sold for over 20 times the expected price. Who is the jerk who put up that estimate anyway: "Yes, well she's sort of skanky so let's start real low". I wonder if a similar scenario could happen in Egypt and if all the ministers would be emptying out their bank accounts to go to the auction. I foresee a brawl between El Adly and Shihab. Wait, did I just say that?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Rock those non-majority votes like its 2008

Every couple of days the Washington Post newspaper sends me e-mails with top stories. Every time this includes an email about the proceedings and developments of the American presidential elections. There's so much coverage I though they were coming up in a couple of months. I was wrong, the real elections are about a zillion years from now. Or November, same thing.

To give myself credit I did try to follow this thing even when I did realize that I might be dead before we hear who the actual president is. It seemed interesting, the white guy, the white woman (some say white women are the new "white men", politically speaking) and the black guy (who might one day become the new "white woman", politically speaking). Frankly though, this mission has not been successful. Usually I don’t understand the title of the e-mail. I read names, I can connect them to faces sometimes. Perhaps places. But that’s about it.

So, ashamed and embarrassed, I resorted to wikipedia- (the free encyclopedia, im sure you are aware)- to try to understand what this is all about. I now know what the "United States Electoral College" is. And that makes me a better person.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Black Obama

Once again, the American elections have succeeded at baffling and confusing me and proving once again that I simply don’t get it. I do not understand the campaigning, the primaries, the secondaries, the speeches the preliminaries, and I might be making some of these terms up as I go along but they all ring true somehow. The last wave of confusion came when I read this quote "Obama has unwittingly enhanced his image as the African American candidate -- as opposed to being just a remarkable candidate who happens to be black". Wait, is that what we thought he was? A remarkable candidate who just happens to be black? I'm worse off than I thought, I always thought he was the black guy. U.S media flaunts it in our face that Barak Obama is black, repeat it over and over again, and then freak out if he hints at it himself. I just don’t get it.

And am I the only one who doesn’t know what a "superdelegate" is?

Sigh. I guess its back to Wikipedia. The shame


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Eissa: Scapegoat once again

The misdemeanor court of the lovely Bulaq district in Cairo passed a sentence against Ibrahim Eissa, prominent opposition journalist and editor in chief the independent Al-Dustor newspaper, of six months imprisonment and 200L.E bail pending a 10 day appeal period. This sentence comes in addition to a previous one year sentence and 10,000 EGP bail which was passed last June.

Ibrahim Eissa has become the regime's favorite scapegoat when it comes to showing the press that even the Egyptian judicial system can be turned against them. In a suffocating demonstration of repression of thought and expression, Eissa is charged with “Propagating false news and rumors causing general security disturbance and harming public interest" and "Intentionally publishing false news that may hurt public safety." The article they are referring to is a story published in Al-Dustor saying that the Egyptian president and his family exploit their "royal" position to make personal gains while leaving the country to deteriorate economically and socially. It also implied that the president is suffering from ailing health. If anything the charge against the editor of Al-Dustor should be "stating the obvious".

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ratify This!

The Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) which lobbies different governments to enforce the International Criminal Court has targeted Egypt for the month of March. The ICC hounds down war criminals and brings them to justice, apparently. So Egypt, hovering over Sudan with its big menacing square-shaped regional hegemony, could mean some well-needed ICC action in Darfur. Or at least the threat of it. But Egypt has other things on its agenda with Sudan, such as…being the big menacing square-shaped regional hegemon that LIKES war crimes.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Square Shaped Home Land

The more I learn about the arbitrary creation of national borders, the more disappointed I am about the shape that the British colonialists decided to give Egypt. I have one question to the pasty British colonel who drew up the Egyptian borders sitting at his desk in London: Why did you give us a right angle? right there, in the South West border of our great nation, at the intersection of Egypt, Sudan and Libya is a perfect 90 degree corner. Egypt is a country with a bottom left hand corner thanks to you. You can never get any respect with that.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

My First Post

I've often struggled with the idea of creating and maintaining a blog. How do you come up with a vision, a tone, a message, a persona, with which you can consistently present yourself and the world to, well, the world. How do you present a voice to change the world in this ever changing world? And how do I, a young Egyptian woman fit into it the world after all? How can I reconcile writing about corruption in Egypt, about poverty or about injustice with the fact that I write these things on a new laptop sitting on the balcony of an expensive apartment complex in the trendy Cairo suburbs. I've never stood in line for bread but I want to write about the subsidies. I've never really been hassled by a police man but I want to burn down the police stations. I've had an American education yet at times I can barely look at the American flag. I've had an Egyptian education yet at times I can barely listen to the anthem. How can I criticize over consumption as I listen to my i-pod on shuffle?

Then 2008 came and my life shifted and shuffled almost beyond recognition. To me at least. I figured 21 was a good age, for most things. I may never reconcile any of what I just mentioned, or maybe this blog will help me do just that. Maybe they are all irreconcilable, but maybe they're meant to be just that. Speculating about it any more seemed futile. If I do have a place in this ever changing world, then it is precisely an ever changing place. So this blog is to mark my positions, moment by moment as they continue to evolve and regress and shift, probably beyond recognition. But maybe they will seem familiar to someone else. And maybe I will eventually carve a space, even if it is only in virtual reality, in which things don’t really need to be familiar for them to be totally mine.