Thursday, February 28, 2013

'Harlem Shake' arrives at Muslim Brotherhood's doorstep

Agence France-Presse

'Harlem Shake' arrives on Egypt Islamists' doorstep 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

AFP - A dance craze that began in an Australian teenager's bedroom landed on the doorstep of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Thursday, with dozens of protesters doing the "Harlem Shake" outside the ruling Islamists' Cairo headquarters.

Around 70 protesters, mostly men, performed the dance after chanting slogans against the Islamists, who had propelled President Mohamed Morsi to his election victory last June.

The chaotic pelvis-thrusting dance has been mimicked across the world after a group of Australian teenagers uploaded a video of themselves dancing the "Harlem Shake" in early February.

Youths in Egypt and Tunisia have taken up the dance as a form of protest against Islamists, two years after uprisings in both countries toppled veteran dictators but brought in divisive Islamist-led governments.

"Down with the supreme guide's rule," the protesters chanted after finishing the dance, referring to the Muslim Brotherhood's religious leader Mohammed Badie.

"The message is clear," said Farid Sayyed, one of the organisers.

"We are against the policies of the Brotherhood. Their guidance bureau (or ruling council) dictates government policy, not the presidency. The revolution continues."

Several riot police trucks and a fire engine were deployed at the Islamists' headquarters, which protesters had stormed and attempted to torch in December after Morsi adopted extensive powers he has since repealed.

But Thursday's protest remained peaceful, with some dancers arriving dressed as Islamists and another wearing a Mickey Mouse mask.

Although it was the first such performance outside the Brotherhood's headquarters, the dance craze had already arrived in Egypt.

A group of Egyptians posted videos of themselves on YouTube doing the "Harlem Shake" in front of the Giza pyramids, with one of them, wearing white underwear and a bow tie, dancing while riding a camel.

Last week, police said they arrested four students who stripped to their underwear and performed the dance in a quiet middle class Cairo neighbourhood, after shocked residents tried to assault the students.

In Tunisia, students and radical Islamists scuffled on Thursday after the students tried to film themselves dancing in the city of Sidi Bouzid, the cradle of the Arab Spring revolts, with similar scuffles taking place in the capital.

A number of social media sites run by Salafists and other Islamist groups have denounced the "Harlem Shake" as indecent, with participants smoking, dancing wildly and simulating sexual acts.

Defiant youth activists have put out a call for a mega "Harlem Shake" to be staged on Friday in front of the education ministry in Tunis.

Civil disobedience campaign enters 2nd week in Port Said

Daily News Egypt

February 23, 2013

Salma Hegab

Thousands of workers, shop-owners, students, residents, and government employees continue civil disobedience which began one week ago

Civil disobedience resumed in Port Said as demonstrators continue to shut down the administrative buildings of the Suez Canal terminal.

Ultras “Green Eagles”, fans of Al Masry football club, cut the main road between Port Said, Ismailia and Cairo on Saturday morning, blocking traffic. According to state-owned Al-Ahram, the army and police reopened the main road.

Bus and taxi drivers joined the strike while the port customs fees office remained closed.

The eastern port and shipyard remained nonfunctional as workers continued their strike. Boat owners organised a naval demonstration in the Suez Canal waterway.

A partial strike also took place in schools and governmental sectors on Saturday, according to accountant Mahmoud Qandil.

Three buses carrying protesters from Suez to Port Said arrived in order to take part in the civil disobedience, while a bus carrying protesters from independent syndicates in Cairo joined the Port Said strike as well, according to several eyewitnesses.

Protesters rejected political parties’ representation in the strike by not allowing any political banners in the squares.

“Parliamentary elections will be boycotted. Port Said citizens plan to besiege all electoral commissions,” protester Mohamed Nabil said.

In Hai Al-Arab Street, a number of protesters have established a “public police station” on Friday night under the slogan “people in the service of the people.”

Thousands in Port Said have also organised a popular trial against President Mohamed Morsi, Prime Minister Hesham Qandil, Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim and several leaders within the Muslim Brotherhood including Mohamed Badie and Khairat El-Shater, accusing them of killing protesters in Port Said last January. The court sentenced Morsi, Qandil and Ibrahim to death.

In Damietta, protesters used more peaceful methods as they launched the “I am not paying” campaign in which they asked citizens not to pay any bills to the government, including electricity and taxes as means of civil disobedience, Rehab El-Naasan, 6 April Youth Movement member, said. Calls to boycott paying bills to the government have spread to Port Said as well.

Prime Minister Qandil announced on Saturday that the government will provide people of Port Said with the utmost care, according to a press release by Egypt State Information Service.

He added that he is in constant contact with representatives of Port Said in the Shura Council as well as executive officials in the governorate, including the governor.

Qandil pointed out that there is a need to increase job opportunities in Port Said, Suez Canal cities and all cities in Egypt. He stated that the government is working towards beginning several projects to provide 750,000 job opportunities by the end of the current financial year.

Protesters plan to continue their civil disobedience until the verdict of the Port Said massacre trial is announced on 9 March.

*Additional Reporting by Ahmed Aboul Enein
**Photo courtesy of AFP

Egypt votes to send Dictator Morsi to outerspace:-)

New York Times

Egypt’s President Could Win a Trip to Space, Whether He Wants One or Not 

February 22, 2013


A group of Egyptian activists who reluctantly endorsed Mohamed Morsi in last year’s presidential election, and have been bitterly disappointed by his performance in office, are again urging their fellow citizens to cast a vote for him. This time, however, a victory for Mr. Morsi would send him not to the presidential palace, but into space.

The scheme, unveiled Thursday by members of the April 6 Youth Movement, is to garner enough support in an online competition to win Mr. Morsi a trip to space sponsored by the deodorant company Axe. According to a description of the plan on the group’s Facebook page, it is a “popular campaign to send Morsi behind the sun,” which is a play on an Arabic expression that means “to make someone disappear.”

In support of the effort, the activists provided a link to the Axe Apollo Space Academy site and wrote, “We made an account for President Morsi on this Web site and it he gets your vote he will travel to the moon and govern them there.” By Friday, the update had attracted more than 450,000 Facebook likes and generated enough votes to propel Mr. Morsi to the top of the contest’s leader board.

In an update on Friday evening, the April 6 activists urged their 449,000 Twitter followers: “Vote now and don’t delay! Morsi needs 1,400 votes to go into first place in the contest. #SendMorsiToTheMoon”

Two hours later, the Cairo blogger Mahmoud Salem, who writes as Sandmonkey, exulted over the news that Mr. Morsi was winning the contest.

Strangely, a YouTube video explaining the contest makes no mention at all of whether contestants who win the online ballot could be compelled to complete the rigorous preflight training in Orlando, Fla., and the journey into space. Unlike Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mr. Morsi has not asked to be sent into space recently, but late last year he did express a fondness for the 1960s science-fiction fantasy “Planet of the Apes,” which is about the misadventures of an American astronaut.

As the English-language news site Ahram Online explained, the activists described a trip to space as a fitting way to get rid of Mr. Morsi since his supporters once claimed that he had worked for NASA while studying engineering at the University of Southern California. Mr. Morsi himself said in a recent television interview that he was never employed by the American space agency and had never claimed otherwise.

Last month, however, as the Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar reported, footage of Mr. Morsi making just such a claim was discovered and broadcast on another Egyptian television channel. According to a recording of that program posted online with English subtitles by the Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI— an Arabic media watchdog founded by a former Israeli intelligence officer — Mr. Morsi was caught on video saying that he had worked “as a consultant for NASA, in the field of spaceship engines.”

Egypt spent $2.5 Million on teargas amid economic crisis

The Guardian
Egypt 'spent £1.7m on teargas' amid economic crisis

Friday 22 February 2013

Activists condemn government's purchase of 140,000 canisters at a time when foreign reserves are at critical low and IMF loan is delayed

Patrick Kingsley

Egypt spent the equivalent of £1.7m on 140,000 US-sourced teargas canisters last month, despite the Egyptian government nearing bankruptcy – and amid a wave of police brutality that 21 human rights groups this week labelled a return to Mubarak-era state repression.

Egypt's interior ministry made the emergency order at the end of January, according to records retrieved by Egyptian broadsheet al-Masry al-Youm. It came at the start of a week of civil unrest sparked by protests against President Mohamed Morsi, his Muslim Brotherhood, and police malpractice.

Opposition activists have questioned the government's willingness to buy the teargas at a time when Egypt's foreign reserves have more than halved since 2011, the government has run out of money to pay for fuel subsidies, and officials have yet to agree the details of a much-needed and much-delayed IMF loan worth $4.8bn.

They also see it as yet another example of the government's unwillingness to rein in the police force, whose brutality was a major cause of the 2011 revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak, and whose behaviour has come under renewed scrutiny this year.

"It's the same tactics the Mubarak regime used – spending taxpayers' money to kill the sons of taxpayers," said Hussein Abdel Ghany, a spokesman for the National Salvation Front, a disparate collection of non-Islamist opposition parties. "And at the same time they're cutting gas subsidies and raising taxes on cigarettes, which the only way some people get any joy."

Teargas has been repeatedly used during protests this year, at times rendering it unsafe to navigate thoroughfares in downtown Cairo that lie several streets from the clashes. At one point in January, Tahrir Doctors – a group of volunteer medics who treat protesters hurt in clashes – warned that teargas in Tahrir Square had reached dangerous levels.

But the teargas is just one part of a wave of violence that led 21 Egyptian rights groups to claim on Thursday that police brutality is as serious – or in some cases worse – than it was under Hosni Mubarak.

Since the start of the unrest, sparked by the two-year anniversary of Mubarak's toppling on 25 January, activists say at least 70 protesters have been been tortured, with hundreds more detained without trial. In some cases, protesters have been murdered and raped.

The number of male activists raped in custody is higher than it has been for at least a decade, according to Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

In one high-profile murder case, left-wing activist Mohamed el-Guindy was abducted for four days before being found at a hospital in a coma.

Authorities claimed he had died in a car crash, but rights activists said they found torture marks on his tongue, as well as signs of strangulation and electrocution. Lawyers said he was abducted by police after a protest in late January before being held in a police camp outside Cairo. "You couldn't recognise his face from a photograph, it was so swollen," said Islam Khalifa, a human rights lawyer investigating Guindy's death, who visited him in hospital before he died.

Hundreds of children are also being targeted, activists said. At least 200 have been arrested, and many beaten, according to Amr Imam, a lawyer at the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre, a rights group.

"The government thinks these children hold the torch of the revolution," Imam told film-makers from Mosireen, a protest-orientated media collective. "So they must get rid of them – destroy them, to put it plainly." A 13-year-old cancer patient from Alexandria – Mahmoud Adel – was confined to an adult prison for more than a week without access to his treatment.

Allies of Morsi have said it is unreasonable to blame the president for police malpractice, arguing that it will take 15 years to reform institutions as intransigent as the interior ministry and its police force.
"If it took them 60 years to build a system that corrupt, imagine how long it will take to reform it," said the Muslim Brotherhood's Gehad al-Haddad last month.

But Heba Morayef, head of the Egypt branch of Human Rights Watch, said Morsi has shown little inclination for police reform so far. "It's not just that he hasn't delivered on any changes, it's that he hasn't publicly acknowledged that there is a serious problem of police abuse," Morayef has said.

*Photograph courtesy of Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

Government to buy 100,000 new pistols for police

Associated Press

Egypt to Buy Pistols for its Low-Ranking Cops After 5-Day Strike Demanding Firepower

An Egyptian security official said Saturday that the interior ministry has agreed to purchase 100,000 new 9mm pistols after low-ranking policemen went on strike demanding greater firepower to defend themselves against increased lawlessness.

The announcement ended five days of strikes by thousands of low-ranking policemen that threatened to further unravel security in the Arab world’s most populous nation, two years after the overthrow of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

It is also likely to provoke a new wave of criticism against the interior ministry by rights groups and activists who accuse police of using excessive force against unarmed protesters and carrying out the same brutal tactics of the former regime.

Allegations of torture at the hands of police persist, and around 70 people have been killed in nationwide protests in just the past three weeks. Rights groups allege that police are still operating with impunity.

Yes, because the best way to deal with crime is to buy thousands of more guns, and put them in the hands of a brutal, corrupt and unaccountable police force. Morsi's dictatorship is thus encouraging its criminals (in uniforms) to commit even more crimes and kill even more civilians!

Army apologizes for 'accidentally' killing 13-year-old boy

Egypt Independent
Thu, 14/02/2013
Thu, 14/02/2013

Ahmed Mohamed Ali, a spokesperson for the Armed Forces, apologized publically for the "accidental" fatal shooting of 13-year-old street vendor Omar Salah on 3 February.
The teen was killed near the US Embassy in Cairo after being shot by security forces during clashes sparked by the second anniversary of the 25 January revolution.
Ali claimed that the soldier fired his weapon by mistake during a routine inspection.
Ali added the soldier who shot him is being investigated and alleged that the boy’s family has waived their right to seek justice through the courts.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm
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Ahmed Mohamed Ali, a spokesperson for the Armed Forces, apologized publicly for the "accidental" fatal shooting of 13-year-old street vendor Omar Salah on 3 February.

The teen was killed near the US Embassy in Cairo after being shot by security forces during clashes sparked by the second anniversary of the 25 January revolution.

Ali claimed that the soldier fired his weapon by mistake during a routine inspection.

Ali added the soldier who shot him is being investigated and alleged that the boy’s family has waived their right to seek justice through the courts.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm