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.