Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Timelapse video: March against the military junta

مسيرة ضد العسكر بتقنية الفاصل الزمني - Timelapse: March against SCAF

Hundreds of thousands marched through Cairo's streets on January 27, in a nationwide protest dubbed the "Second Friday of Anger."

Across the country, millions of Egyptians marched and protested in commemoration of the first "Friday of Anger" (of January 28, 2011) when police forces killed hundred of protesters, assaulting and arresting thousands of others during the anti-Mubarak uprising.

This timelapse video by Mostafa Hussein was filmed on Mossadak Street in Dokki. Fri 27 Jan 2012. Just one of many marches which took place on the "Second Friday of Anger."

Fears grow over marginalization of women in Egypt

One year on, and fears grow over role of women in the new Egypt

January 28, 2012


One year on, and fears grow over role of women in the new Egypt

As EGYPT’S military rulers celebrated the first anniversary of the revolution with official street parties, parades and outdoor concerts, tens of thousands of Egyptians gathered to protest against the regime in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

Just as on the so-called Day of Rage a year ago yesterday, men and women joined together in calls for “life, liberty and human dignity” and “bread, freedom and social justice”.

The gathering in Tahrir Square was one of the largest against the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces since the ousting of ex- president Hosni Mubarak last February.

But even before Wednesday’s protest had finished, reports of sexual harassment against women in the square began circulating. Heather, an Arab-American living in Cairo, told Egyptian website Bikyamasr.com she had been walking across Tahrir Square with her two flatmates when she was surrounded by a group of men. “My roommates and I fell to the ground when they attacked us. The people pulled my pants off even as I yelled and tried to fight,” she said. “They started fighting over who was going to do what.”

She said the men then grabbed and groped the woman’s bodies. “It is disgusting,” she said.

Heather, who asked to be referred to only by her first name, came forward after seeing another report about a foreign woman who was stripped naked and assaulted in the vicinity of Tahrir Square, the spiritual home of Egypt’s revolution. That woman, whose identity has not been revealed, was taken away in an ambulance after being assaulted for ten minutes.

Sexual harassment and violence against women is an all- too-common occurrence in Egypt. Women walking alone or in groups through the streets of Cairo or other cities are often forced to put up with shouts, catcalls and even more physical forms of abuse. The risk is greater at large gatherings.

“Harassment is a major problem,” said Rebecca Chiao, founder of Harassmap, a website that allows Egyptian women to report incidents of sexual harassment by text message. “We have seen sexual harassment rise along with aggressiveness on the street, bad treatment in the workplace and sectarian violence,” she said.

According to figures from the United Nations, more than 50 per cent of women in Egypt reported being subjected to sexual harassment. And a poll found nearly two-thirds of men confessed to harassing women, but more than half blamed women for “bringing it on”.

Women’s rights in post- Mubarak Egypt are becoming an increasing concern. Despite being at the vanguard of last year’s protests, women are often politically isolated, with their place in the public sphere undermined and uncertain. Only three women were among the more than 200 candidates elected in Egypt’s recent elections.


Hordes of protesters chanting anti-military slogans streamed from mosques around Cairo to join tens of thousands massed in Tahrir Square yesterday.

Tensions erupted when one march demonstrated outside the defence ministry and were confronted by dozens of supporters of the military. Protesters scattered, and many said homemade bombs had been thrown at them.

Divisions also boiled over in Tahrir Square, where scuffles broke out between the Muslim Brotherhood and secular protesters. Many in secular camp suspect the Brotherhood plans to strike a deal with the generals to give them continued power. The Brotherhood denies any deal.

*Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Monday, January 30, 2012

A year after revolt, Egyptians have lost their fear

A year after revolt, Egyptians have lost their fear

January 25, 2012

Dina Zayed

CAIRO (Reuters) - One year ago, young Egyptians waited in fear on street corners for protesters to gather before mustering the courage to chant slogans against Hosni Mubarak. They marched expecting injury or arrest. Many snuck out of home, afraid to tell their parents.

Twelve months after they ousted Mubarak in an 18-day uprising, young Egyptians were back on the streets. This time, tens of thousands clogged roads and squares and their parents and younger siblings came with them.

Youths who sparked the revolt a year ago have watched as the more experienced Islamists have reaped the political gains, but Egyptians gathered to celebrate the first anniversary of the revolt on January 25 said the real gain was their newfound courage to speak out.

The fear that had kept them off the streets through decades of repression was now a distant memory.

"Raise your voice, raise it loud: freedom, freedom! There is no turning back," the crowds chanted Wednesday in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicenter of a popular revolt that flickered across the world's television screens in 2011.

"Our demands are the same but we are not!" others chanted as families basked in the winter sunshine and strangers plunged into debate on the future of Egypt, its constitution, and the role of the military generals who took over from Mubarak.

A year ago, many protesters were reluctant to give their names to journalists interviewing them in Tahrir Square for fear of being tracked down and arrested by state security. On Wednesday, many offered their full names and occupations without being prompted, some brandishing their identity cards.

"I walked these same streets last year believing I would be buried by night time," 38-year-old Ahmed Mowad said.

"We are not the same people anymore and that is what the generals need to understand. Last year, we were a herd of sheep that they thought could be handed on from father to son, today, we are free," Mowad said, referring to a widely held belief that the 83-year-old Mubarak was seeking to pass office to his son.

Ahmed Ramadan, a 43-year-old craftsman, interrupted Mowad to add his voice: "Before January 25 last year, we couldn't even stand in a circle and talk to each other. I wouldn't have looked at a journalist, let alone had a conversation."


Online activists organized the protests a year ago, initially taking the majority of Egyptians by surprise. Inspired by the success of Tunisians in ousting their own leader days before, more and more Egyptians joined the youthful protesters until hundreds of thousands were in the streets.

With Mubarak now on trial for his life and a new parliament dominated by his Islamist adversaries, many youths who turned to the Internet to launch last year's revolt are now disenchanted with military rulers they worry are dragging out the transition.

Determined to see through outstanding demands for jobs and justice, young and old Egyptians flocked to the square on Wednesday, waving the flag. Many said they had driven into the capital to take part in the rallies.

"Our demands are still far from being achieved. I don't want the army council to step down but I want to say that the revolution is alive," said 27-year-old Hamed Ali, who rode a bus all night to arrive in Cairo from his Nile Delta village.

Clutching signs with the names of their villages and cities, others listed demands they believe have yet to be addressed.

"On this day last year, I didn't protest but I spent every day afterwards in the square. I am here today because I want to send a clear message: that no matter what happens next, I won't give up on the revolution," Nermine Hosny said.

"The revolution cannot die. I will be back in the square whenever I have to be here. I am not afraid and I won't ever be the same person I was before," the 32-year-old pharmacist added.

The inflation and the joblessness that brought many Egyptians, fed up with inequalities, onto the streets last year will take years to remedy. But Egyptians now feel they can force their rulers to listen.

"The bread queues are just as long now as they were before the revolution. The injustice is just the same. The poverty is just as bad," said Mohamed Hamed, a 19-year-old who dropped out of school to find employment.

"I am upset. Where are the rights we demanded last year? The only thing that has changed is that I will stay a revolutionary until they are achieved," Hamed said, holding crutches to support his broken right leg.

*Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

Sunday, January 29, 2012

'Graffiti Week' paints walls with calls to resume revolution

Egypt Independent
Graffiti week returns with calls to resume revolution

January 25, 2012

Jano Charbel

In the run-up to the anniversary of the 25 January revolution, a street art campaign dubbed “Mad Graffiti Week” spread like wildfire across Egypt. The call for the event was announced on Facebook, Twitter and the blogs of Egyptian street artists and activists.

A growing number of Egyptian and foreign artists and activists, male and female alike, have responded to the call. They have painted their art and their messages on walls, not only in Egypt, but also in Germany, UK, Austria, Poland and Canada.

Most of the themes center around calls for completing the revolution, deposing the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), and transferring power to civilian authorities.

Over the course of “Mad Graffiti Week,” three youths are reported to have been arrested — one in Banha City and two in Mahalla City — for acts of “vandalism.” These youths were reportedly detained, questioned and then released on the same day.

Graffiti and street art “are very powerful and effective tools of public expression,” said artist-activist Omar X-ist Mostafa. “This is evident in the fact that the police and army arrest people for painting graffiti with a political message, while the municipal authorities are constantly erasing and painting over it.”

The Facebook page “Graffiti the streets of Egypt” documents and disseminates information on this event, posting photos and circulating news from cities across the world. The page calls on Egyptians to “take to the streets and paint across your country. Think, innovate, struggle and paint.” Twitter updates on the street artists are made using the hashtag #MadGraffitiWeek with links to photos of their art and messages. These social networking sites are also being used to post and circulate booklets full of stencils that can be printed or traced and instructions on how to cut and paint these designs.

One of the stencils, which has been widely spray painted across Cairo, reads, “Take to the streets on 25 January.” Another stencil with stylized letters reads “Kazeboon” (“Liars”), a reference to a campaign against military rulers. The most common portrait is that of Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi — some of the stencils read “Put him on trial” or “Tantawi is Mubarak,” and some portray him with bloody fangs.

Moving beyond the hotbeds of street art in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez, “Mad Graffiti Week” has made new inroads across Egypt, spreading to the canal cities of Port Said and Ismailia, to Nile Delta cities including Zagazig, Mahalla, Mansoura, Banha and Tanta, and to Upper Egypt in Assiut, Sohag and Minya.

Last year, on 20–22 May, an event dubbed "Mad Graffiti Weekend" was organized by teams of artist-activists in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez, primarily to campaign against the military trials of some 12,000 civilians. Professional graffiti artists and groups of assistants produced massive murals, stencils and intricate works of street art.

In contrast, this “Mad Graffiti Week” has more of a DIY approach.

“There is actually no centrality to this campaign, so everyone working on it is doing so independently,” says prominent visual artist Mohamed Fahmy, who is known as Ganzeer.

According to Mostafa, “more amateurs and first-timers have joined in this time around, especially given that stencils have been posted online for users to trace and cut out.” This has apparently translated into a greater quantity — rather than a greater quality — of graffiti and street art.

The signature marks of spray-cans in the hands of amateur street artists are indeed apparent on numerous walls with stencils smeared, dripping paint and blurred graffiti writing.

“It’s important that stencils and murals are made to look appealing and catch the eye. But, in my opinion, it’s more important that street art becomes a common art of the people. The important thing is that people are expressing themselves and getting their messages out there in public spaces,” says Mostafa.

“If you have no other outlet, graffiti is the most direct means of publicly expressing yourself,” he says. “The number of graffiti artists has increased dramatically since the revolution in parallel to the rise of street music, public poetry recitals, performances and plays.”

Graffiti artist El Teneen (The Dragon) says the initiative “has helped move graffiti and street art into new grounds within Cairo,” such as the populous working-class neighborhoods Shubra and Imbaba. “It has helped bring the messages of Tahrir Square home. In this sense, these messages of freedom are no longer distant or isolated demands. They are on your street and in your face.”

El Teneen has spray-painted stencils with the message: “We will resume the revolution.”

“I don't know what effect this graffiti will have on passersby, but I hope it will help people think about their rights and freedoms, and thus help them act in order to realize those rights.”

According to street-artist Kareem Gouda, aka Dokhan (Smoke) the aim of “Mad Graffiti Week,” and “Mad Graffiti Weekend” before it, is “the use of street art as a means of raising demands — using street art to reclaim your own rights, for your own sake and for the sake of others.”

Dokhan says, “The populace is now aware of this art's influence. The authorities paint over graffiti and street art because they want to hide its messages, while some civilians often vandalize street art because they disagree with the messages portrayed, or because they misunderstand these messages. Street art and street artists are often viewed with suspicion.”

Dokhan found the posters he put up in the Sayeda Zeinab neighborhood of Cairo during “Mad Graffiti Week” torn down hours later. His posters feature a black-and-white image of a girl with missing eyes and a disfigured mouth, underneath which is the text, “Open your eyes and speak up before it is too late.” It was meant to be an artwork against censorship and police brutality, but “was misunderstood, and thus torn down,” the artist says.

Dokhan added that street artist Sad Panda’s works were also recently vandalized in Sayeda Zeinab, and a massive mural Ganzeer painted in Zamalek during “Mad Graffiti Weekend” was similarly defaced.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Under military rule, Egypt falls in press freedom rankings

Egypt Independent
Under military rule, Egypt falls in press freedom rankings

Thu, 26/01/2012

Press freedom in Egypt has suffered under military rule, with the country dropping 39 spots on the annual Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders.

Egypt was ranked 127th in 2010 and 166th in 2011, the Paris-based organization said in a statement Wednesday.

Heightened unrest around the world resulted in a significant shake-up of the index, which assesses governments' commitment to protecting media freedoms, noted the statement.

“Egypt fell because the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, in power since February, dashed the hopes of democrats by continuing the Mubarak dictatorship’s practices. There were three periods of exceptional violence for journalists: in February, November and December,” the non-profit organization said.

In its report released Wednesday, Reporters Without Borders listed Egypt among the “countries where repression continues and changes are just cosmetic.”

“Most of the region’s countries have fallen in the index because of the measures taken in a bid to impose a news blackout on a crackdown,” the report said of the Middle East and North Africa region.

“Egypt plummeted 39 places because of the attempts by Hosni Mubarak’s government and then the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to rein in the revolution’s successive phases," read the report.

“The hounding of foreign journalists for three days at the start of February, the interrogations, arrests and convictions of journalists and bloggers by military courts, and the searches without warrants all contributed to Egypt’s dramatic fall in the index.”

The changes resulting from Arab revolutions did not push toward greater pluralism and the freedoms Egypt achieved last year have started to unfold, the report said. Some media outlets paid dearly for covering democratic aspirations and the opposition movements last year, according to the statement, and media censorship has remained under the control of authoritarian and oppressive regimes since the uprisings.

Eritrea, Turkmenistan and North Korea still occupy the lowest ranks on the index of 179 countries and represent absolute dictatorship regimes, followed by Syria (176), Iran and China. Bahrain and Vietnam also fall near the bottom and other countries including Uganda and Belarus dropped in the rankings.

Tunisia made notable progress on the index, climbing 30 spots from 164 to 134 thanks to what the statement called turning the page of repression of former President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali’s regime.

Libya moved up from 160 to 154, while Bahrain fell 29 spots to occupy the 173rd position and join the ranks of the 10 most repressive countries. Yemen also fell one place to 171.

*Photographed by Mohamed Maarouf

Military junta responsible for failed Egyptian economy

Daily News Egypt
What really ruined Egypt's economy in 2011?

January 24, 2012

Amira Salah-Ahmed

CAIRO: It wasn’t the protests. Not the strikes. Not the revolution. And it definitely wasn’t an unidentified foreign object – the proverbial invisible hand.

The simple answer to what brought Egypt’s economy to its knees: a mismanaged and slow transition.

The long-winded version: Unwillingness on the part of the ruling powers to meet peoples’ demands in a manner that does not disrupt national economic affairs for prolonged periods of time. Coupled with haphazard decisions, unclear policies and a series of crisis management failures on the political and economic fronts, while creating a state of fear and chaos, this has caused uncertainty among investors and set off a domino effect of negative economic repercussions, all made worse by an extended and murky transition to civilian rule.

In power since Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) is often criticized for failing to steer Egypt on a proper economic roadmap.

“The military has proven to be inflexible, much more reactionary and much less compromising — this sort of stalemate politically has impacted the economic situation,” said Hani Sabra, Eurasia Group’s Egypt analyst.

“Reality is, if you have a civilian authority in place with people that can make decisions then the economy wouldn’t be in the state it’s in,” Sabra added.

Hoda Selim, economist at Egypt’s Economic Research Forum (ERF), agreed, citing “uncertainty including the absence of a roadmap that sets a clear date for the handing of power from military to civilian rule and the unnecessary delay in legislative elections.”

Let’s start from the beginning.

At the onset of the 18-day uprising in January 2011, businesses came to a complete standstill, as if someone had switched off the economy button. It’s convenient to blame the mass protests for that, but logistically speaking, it was the measures taken by Mubarak’s regime that made it impossible for many sectors to function.

The telecom cut, internet blackout and stifling curfews meant to put pro-democracy activists in the dark disrupted the regular work flow by handicapping communication, shortening operational hours and hampering the transportation of goods.

Yes the stock market crashed and the pound slid to fresh lows, but these are predictable reflex reactions to any unexpected unrest. The overall economy, beyond the volatile realm of speculation on listed stocks and the value of the currency, was more or less crippled by the government itself.

As mass protest gained momentum, the government’s closure of banks and the stock market proved detrimental to capital flow.

The continued closure of the stock market — more specifically, repeatedly reneging on promises to reopen it for trading — showed how the government’s confused hesitation and indecisiveness can cause unnecessary panic and uncertainty in the market.

When banks opened, to everyone’s relief, the anticipated run on banks did not materialize. However, they promptly closed days later after protests by workers in the public sector banks. Why all banks, public and private, around the country had to shut down for a whole week remains a mystery, but the move prompted more wariness about access to liquidity. Local businesses had trouble paying employees’ salaries.

Essentially, people’s money was locked in vaults, adding another hindrance to business operations.

For almost two months the stock market remained closed despite frantic resounding calls by local and foreign investors, analysts and asset managers to open for trading and deal with the inevitable nosedive. What’s worse was the lack of clarity about the reasons behind the decision.

Egypt risked being delisted from the MSCI emerging markets index and the people in charge let it reach the brink, waiting until the last possible moment to reopen the stock exchange. The longer they waited, the worse the sentiment around the market became, and like a virus, the negativity spread to the overall economy.

“The greatest obstacle for investors at the start of 2011 was the restriction of capital flow, initially because of the closure of the banks, but chiefly in the unjustifiably long period during which the stock market was closed,” Roelof Horne, Africa fund manager at UK-based Investec Asset Management, told Daily News Egypt.

Investec Asset Management is the largest manager of third party assets in Africa. Horne manages the world’s largest Africa fund, excluding South Africa.

“As long term investors…we took a view from the start that a peaceful uprising in Egypt calling for democracy and accountability was a reason to be more excited about the country, not to capitulate,” he said.


When Mubarak stepped down, the outburst of celebration was matched by palpable, though duly cautious, optimism on the economy.

At the time, most analysts and investors cited two longstanding risk assessment nightmares as having been removed along with the ousted president: the question of succession and rampant corruption. These two factors had for years tainted the reputation of the market and made Egypt a risky investment destination. While the former was whispered about, the latter was noted on every outlook or assessment report on Egypt.

The overriding sentiment in February 2011 was that if people’s demands are met, if their political aspirations are fulfilled, then investors, tourists and businesses will want to be part of the “new Egypt” story.

The night Mubarak stepped down, Beltone Financial’s Angus Blair told DNE, “The army [council] has to realize that there has to be good microeconomic governance of Egypt.”

That didn’t happen, and even the term “new Egypt” soon turned sour.

On February 11, the Egyptian pound was at 5.879 to the dollar and the country’s foreign reserves totaled more than $30 billion. Today, the pound is steadily sliding, at around 6.04 with reserves at $18.1 billion and swiftly depleting. Throughout the year, much of the reserves went to propping up the pound instead of letting it gradually devalue to its real rate.

According to an ISI Emerging Markets Blog from April 2011, “The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) intervened to control the depreciating pound against the dollar.” This while the CBE repeatedly stated that it has not and will not artificially support the pound.

“Foreign reserves have dropped because they’ve burned through the reserves to prop up the currency. But if they stop doing that, then the value of the Egyptian pound nosedives and basic food prices will rise, that’s very sensitive politically,” Sabra said.

At the same time, several downgrades from ratings agencies have affected Egypt’s ability to borrow from abroad and increased the cost of doing so. The budget deficit mushroomed before being repeatedly revised and reined in to an expected LE 144 billion, or 8.7 percent of GDP — still quite high.

Beltone Financial reported in the last quarter of 2011 that foreign investors began dumping Egyptian debt as a result of increasing concern over the country’s widening deficit, also citing a messy political transition.

“Foreign reserves are … being depleted, adding fears of additional losses for foreign investors from a currency devaluation. The high budget deficit is unsustainable, is covered by borrowing, and will lead to unsustainable indebtedness if not addressed soon,” said Horne.

Selim, however, said that compared to costs incurred by Eastern European economies during their political transformation, “the pressure on the exchange rate and the depletion of reserves, as well as pressure on external and public finances — such costs in the short-term were not too drastic.”


On the political side, it took a while for the ruling military council to announce its first Cabinet reshuffle, after continued pressure from protesters. Since then, Egypt has seen a series of Cabinets occupied by ministers lacking any real authority or policymaking power.

The result? Stagnant and murky economic policies that left investors, both local and foreign, scratching their heads.

The ERF’s Selim said, “Four governments since January 2011 made it very difficult to infer the economic orientation of the government…[and they] failed to take any short-measures to mitigate the economic slowdown.

“This uncertainty was transmitted to investors and consumers who became more reluctant to take new production and spending decisions, especially in the absence of security.”

Investec’s Horne agrees. “The current interim government seems confined by its ‘care-taker’ status. Foreign tourists still don’t know if the country is safe. Investors fear reprisal actions against companies that could lead to shareholder losses.”

At first, the SCAF promised a transition to civilian rule within six months. The prolonged transition at one point looked like it would last well into 2013, but was shortened to June 2012 after mass protests demanded a swift handover of power.

“The decision to bring forward the presidential elections from 2013 to mid-2012, as a response to sit-ins, was a welcome development,” Horne said.

This counters the propagated idea that protests are bad for the economy and slow down the mythical “wheel of production.”

Escalating crackdowns on pro-democracy activists brought blood back to the streets several times in 2011 as the relationship between protesters and the army became irreconcilable. The blame game began as the official rhetoric changed, with ruling powers putting the onus of the faltering economy on continued protests.

“It’s convenient for the military, using powerful tools such as state media, to portray protests as slowing down the economy…even if there is no real connection between the two,” said Eurasia Group’s Sabra.

“I don’t think protests have been a cause to slow tourism, but if there’s violence that results in death, well that scares off tourists and investors. … The lack of security or the perception of lack of security hurts the economy,” he added.

Expectedly, tourism numbers dropped drastically in early 2011, looked like they may recover by mid-year, but then faltered again after violent crackdowns on protests in October (Maspero), November (Mohamed Mahmoud) and December (Cabinet).

According to the latest numbers announced by the tourism ministry, the sector saw a 30 percent drop this year, actually much better than what was expected. While Cairo tourists are scarce, the Red Sea resorts performed better throughout the year.

All the while, investors, both domestic and foreign, have repeatedly said that all they were looking for in 2011 was a clear timetable for the transition to an elected civilian power — they are still waiting.

“In the short term, we worry that any further delay in the transition to a civilian government can pose higher fiscal and therefore currency risk and continue to slow the process,” Horne added.

Compounding these problems is uncertainty over which contracts will be honored by the state and which are vulnerable to be disputed in courts — be it land deals, factory licenses, or previously privatized companies. Until there’s a clear answer and confidence over terms of contracts, investors are left bidding their time.

“New investors will probably wait until a representative civilian government, with a mandate to take bold policy decisions and which shows a willingness to honor existing contractual agreements, is in place before committing capital,” Horne said.

Similarly, Sabra said that the “biggest obstacle [to foreign investors] is lack of clarity about politics — investors by and large prize predictability above everything.”


Meanwhile, a flighty courtship between Egypt and the International Monetary Fund over a $3.2 billion loan was the talk of the town in 2011. Egypt, essentially SCAF, first rejected the loan in June, then it was on and off the table for months before Egypt finally made an official request for it at the turn of the new year.

At the same time, little has trickled in of the billions in promised aid from Gulf countries and the G8.

“The military council is so intent on playing the role of the good guy, so on their watch they don’t want the currency to devalue,” Sabra said, or grow Egypt’s foreign debt.

“It’s not for nothing that you’re now seeing the IMF engage more, because the military now has cover — there’s a parliament and transitional government so they can start to withdraw to the power behind the scenes and have the people up front taking those decisions,” he added.

Agree or disagree with borrowing from the IMF, the on again off again negotiations have been a laughable reflection of the government’s decision-making power, or lack thereof. It’s also slow in coming, and now Egypt’s needs are much more than the announced $3.2 billion.

“Borrowing from international institutions could finance some of the reforms during the transition as long as the funds are used prudently and adequately,” Selim said. “Dependence on foreign borrowing should be considered temporary until reforms create an environment that attracts private capital.”

With foreign reserves down, Egypt has increasingly less import cover, a factor that’s beginning to manifest into supply shortages of vital necessities. But lack of transparency around this issue is only fueling concerns.

Left unexplained are an ongoing butane gas shortage and, most recently, a sudden fuel crisis that left car owners scrambling to fill their tanks and queuing up for hours at gas stations. If confidence in the state to provide the most basic and most socially sensitive goods falters, analysts believe Egypt will see unrest of a different kind this coming year.

Economists have long urged Egypt to gradually scale back energy subsidies to alleviate pressure on the national budget. However, this will likely be delayed given the current circumstances.

“If you look 2012 forward, the economic situation is actually quite grim. Any incoming government is inheriting a mess economically…[and] has limited political capital — they can’t use it up making unpopular decisions,” Sabra said.

Still, it was true in February 2011 and it’s true today: The fundamentals of Egypt as an investment destination remain unchanged: a massive consumer market of mostly youth, skilled labor with a lot of unrealized potential, a strategic geographic location — as well as control of the vital trade route through the Suez Canal — and ample touristic treasures.

All that’s needed is for the nation’s youth — the human capital that has been talked about for years, but poorly utilized — to recapture the sense of ownership it had when Mubarak was ousted.

More urgently, as Horne said, “The country needs decisive leadership to stabilize the economy, currency and fiscal situation.”

*Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

Military junta attempts to stall Egypt's labor revolution

Egypt Independent
One year on, the labor revolution is stalling

January 22, 2012

Jano Charbel

On 30 January, only five days into the revolution, the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions was born, the first such federation to be established since the union movement was monopolized by the state-controlled Egyptian Trade Union Federation in 1957. Since then, some 300 independent unions have been established nationwide, with a reported membership of nearly two million workers.

But nearly one year later, these unions remain unrecognized by the interim government. Many workers say they have yet to see conditions change, despite their critical role in the protests that forced former President Hosni Mubarak from office. "Workers continue to feel marginalized, just like they did under the Mubarak regime," says Mahmoud Rihan, a leading organizer of the recently established Federation of Transport Workers.

Rihan and other labor leaders met last Thursday, at a conference titled “Workers and Revolution,” to discuss how the declared objective of "Bread, Freedom and Social Justice" has yet to be realized for much of Egypt’s working class. The conference, which was held at the Center for Socialist Studies in Giza, also focused on the campaign "The Factories and the Square are One," with the aim of coordinating the struggles of protesters in the streets with those of laborers in their workplaces.


Workers have achieved few concrete victories in recent months. Many labor activists say they are running up against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces' (SCAF) anti-strike and protest laws, along with a deep intransigence in many companies and institutions. “Administrative and financial corruption are still rampant in Egypt's post offices and in other companies,” says Osama Abdel Latif, an organizer of the Independent Postal Workers' Union. “The body of this corrupt regime remains alive and intact.”

Activists say they want full-time contracts for full-time work, a monthly minimum wage of LE1,500, a maximum wage of not more than ten times the minimum, official recognition of independent unions, passage of a trade union liberties law, the purging of corrupt officials from state institutions and companies, and the re-nationalization of privatized companies.

Abdel Latif says these goals will only be achieved through much persistence. "We will never be granted social justice," he says. "This can only be achieved by workers through their cooperation and joint struggles."

One of the biggest obstacles to organized labor is gaining government recognition for independent trade unions. Its members are currently not recognized according to the provisions of Trade Union Act 35/1976, which stipulates that the Egyptian Trade Union Federation is the only such federation allowed by law.

Though a draft law on trade union liberties has been formulated and finalized over the past year, the ruling military junta has shelved it for the past three months. Labor activists at the conference criticized the SCAF for rushing to pass a law in April criminalizing strikes and protests, while dragging their feet over the passage of the law on trade union liberties.


The military junta and Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri are actively obstructing progress in the field of labor reform, says Khaled Ali, a labor lawyer and the director of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights. In addition, he said, they are actively resisting the court-ordered re-nationalization of companies. "Privatization is the biggest crime against the national economy," says Ali. "These are not my words, but rather the findings of the judges in the Administrative Court."

During the privatization drive under the Mubarak regime, thousands of workers lost their jobs when their factories were sold to private owners. Ali says that 128 companies were privatized during Ganzouri's first term as premier, says Ali. Among prime ministers, only Ahmed Nazif, who served under Mubarak from 2004 to 2011, presided over the privatization of a greater number of companies. The SCAF-appointed interim government is full of former board members of Mubarak's Ministerial Privatization Committee. They include Ganzouri, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, Minister of International Cooperation and Planning Fayza Abouelnaga, and Electricity Minister Hassan Younis.

The Administrative Court nullified privatization contracts for three companies in September, upon finding that they were illegally sold to investors for less than their market price. Indorama Shebin Textile Company, the Tanta Flax and Oils Company, and the Nasr Company for Steam Boilers are to be returned to the public sector. The privatization contracts of two other companies, the Omar Effendi department stores and the Nile Cotton Ginning Company, were similarly annulled by administrative court rulings in May and December, respectively. However, the Ministry of Investment has recently filed judicial appeals against these verdicts in an attempt to overturn them.

"In keeping with the judiciary's verdicts, we workers must fulfill our duty of ensuring that these companies are re-nationalized," says Gamal Othman, a worker-activist from the Tanta Flax and Oils Company. "We will continue with our struggles for the re-nationalization of our companies. In doing so, we will be safeguarding our jobs and safeguarding the national economy."

The failure of the interim government to acknowledge workers' rights, activists said, means that they will be marking this 25 January not as merely an anniversary but as a time to take up the cause of Egypt’s workers again. "I hope that this coming 25 January isn't commemorated with celebrations, but with protests,” says Ali.

*Photo by Mahmoud Taha

Beware of 'B for Bendetta' & Brotherhood's Bullshit!


Do you know what 'anarchism' means? It means your mother will wear a 'bandetta' mask!
Who? My mother?!

'B for Brotherhood's Bullshit'

*Artwork by Shahinaz Abdel Salam & Carlos Latuff (respectively)

“B For Bendetta” steers laugh at expense of the FJP

Bikya Masr
“B For Bendetta” steers an online laugh in Egypt at the expense of the FJP

January 21, 2012

Manar Ammar

CAIRO: Egyptian online activists started a mockery campaign on Twitter over a recent Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) newspaper headline that read “Anarchists “Bendetta’s” mask leads chaos on January 25,” writing “Bendetta” instead of “Vendetta.”

A hashtag #BforBendetta mocking the spelling has trended on Twitter, as tweeps make jokes at the expense of the party.

The FJP is the political arm of Egypt’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood, and recently came on top of the first parliamentary elections in the country, gaining a leading role in the future of Egypt.

@SaraHKhaled wrote “#BforBendetta Remember Remember the Fifth of NoBember,” while

@gr33ndata Tarek Amr wrote, “The name is the Breedome and Bustice Party.”

Host of ON TV’s al-Bernameg, Bassem Youssef @DrBassemYoussef , wrote: “Watch out for Bendetta! Damn you free education.”

Some pro-military rule groups have recently started a scare campaign against anarchists activists, portraying them as an evil group aiming to bring down the state.

A previous scare campaign against the liberals, led by political Islamists, has worked. Its results are manifested in the results of the parliamentary elections.

Egyptian anarchists seek self-governed society

Daily News Egypt
Egyptian anarchists seek self-governed society

January 20, 2012

Hanan Solayman

CAIRO: They do not believe in governments, they boycotted the elections, they demand “direct democracy” and they’re associated with chaos and have been targeted by the military and some Islamists.

Egypt’s anarchists are anticipating a crackdown before the first anniversary of the January 25 uprising. They are perceived as seeking chaos; villains who want to bring down the state, defy authority and spread lawlessness.

The word ‘anarchy’ in Greek means "no authority." Anarchists’ central belief is that “no man is good enough to be another man’s master,” and that “good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.”

Anarchy became the new bogeyman — a place once reserved to the Muslim Brotherhood under the Mubarak regime. Many believe that this ideology is dangerous to Egypt.

“Egypt, the homeland, is not the same as the system or the state or the government. The people called for the overthrow of the regime and this means to bring the current system or the state down, as it happened before with the Abbasids, Ayyubids, Ottomans and others whose state was overthrown, but Egypt was not harmed,” said self-proclaimed anarchist Yasser Abdel Kawy, an artist, photographer and graphic designer.

The state, according to Abdel Kawy, is a means to practice authority which is why it needs to be replaced with a self-governed society. “I have no fear or worries about what may happen to Egypt if the state is gone. We don’t have this sharp division or difference when it comes to ethnicity or religion,” he added.


Egyptian anarchists established their first entity, the Libertarian Socialist Movement (LSM), in May amidst a global revolutionary wave that included tens of activists all calling for direct democracy as opposed to parliamentary democracy.

In direct democracy, decision-making comes from the people directly without mediators like members of parliament.

Similar protests and occupy movements known as “Take the Street” evolved in different parts of the world like the United States, Spain and Italy.

“It is true that much of the ‘Occupy’ movement can be traced to Anarchist ideals. This can't be explained by anarchist propaganda but more by the failure of the current system of capitalism and parliamentary democracy,” said architect Tamer Mowafy, who describes himself as an anarchist.

People feel vulnerable to the incisive attacks on their standards of living and no longer believe that politicians will help them, Mowafy said.

Leftist parties and the democrats in the US proved themselves useless. On the other hand, traditional Marxist alternatives have been discredited beyond reclamation after 1989, he said.

“It is evident that people taking part in the ‘Occupy’ movements almost spontaneously embrace anarchist principles. The movement is leaderless, all decisions are made within a general assembly, and instead of majority rule consensus is always sought,” he added.

“Anarchism means struggling against the authority of the state and capitalism; that’s why if you’re not a leftist, you can’t be anarchist,” said Yasser Abdullah, a freelance translator. Anarchism is a socio-political movement that mobilizes society without seeking power, he added.


Instead of vertical authority, anarchists call for horizontal cooperatives organized “by the people, for the people”. Supporting multi-independent syndicates is one of their goals. They support the idea of workers taking over factories and companies which will be self-managed by elected workers committees.

Abdullah gave the example of the Ultras, Egypt’s organized football fans. These groups are horizontal networking movements with grassroots support. They are leaderless and have joined the revolutionaries in the common fight against police brutality, and so they share common ground with anarchists.

Abdullah belonged to a communist entity before embracing anarchism. His father, he recalled, “was one of the workers who made the real wealth of Egypt for 42 years until retirement, but never tasted it.”

The fear of anarchism, Abdullah explained, stems from the “fear republic we live in.”

Egyptians have been practicing various brands of anarchism not related to politics unknowingly, the most popular example of which are the monthly co-ops, a communal money saving system which is entirely managed by the individuals in the group, replacing banks.

“In the past, people governed themselves when there was no government. However, we do not mean that we’ll restore the tribal system or go back to pre-modern times, but we seek more developed forms of ruling based on cooperatives, volunteerism and no central authority,” Abdullah said.

Even in times of natural disaster like earthquakes, he said, people self-organize and divide tasks between them.

There are no holy texts or models to follow in applying anarchism. It is open to new ideas and is tailored to the needs of diverse societies.

“In some areas, an anarchist model would include some centralized authorities when it comes to foreign representation and the military,” Abdullah said. “As long as there are foreign threats, the army can be kept as it is … as an institution.”

There’s no defined vision for how the society would look like. Yet, there are some basics like having no authority but voluntary cooperatives, syndicates and a general assembly that comprises of all citizens to ensure the maximum level of rights and freedoms in a society where all people are equal.

It also works for a fair distribution of wealth from a leftist point of view. Not a single group of people would who have the upper hand in the society, whether businessmen, politicians or members of parliament.

Laws are what people decide according to the norms and traditions, but each case would have a different ruling based on the circumstances.

“The ideology is ideal and unpopular in Egypt. It seeks a utopian society where there are no social class differences and no authoritarian state as in the police or the army, which is difficult to achieve”, said Dr. Mostafa Kamel El-Sayed, leftist political science professor at the American University in Cairo.

Only small communities around the world find their inspiration in anarchism, but historically, it’s hard for people to live outside the context of the state, he believes.

“They are not dangerous, however. They do not pose a security threat. Bringing the state down doesn’t mean using violence against some people in particular. This is the leftists’ rhetoric and it should be clearly understood to the society,” he added.

A decade ago, Dr. Heba Raouf Ezzat, political science professor at Cairo University, wrote an article titled, “Anarchism: The philosophy that translation was unfair to”. The Islamist academic explained how anarchism’s accurate translation is more close to “state-less society” rather than “chaos”.

“As the national state finds itself in a growing crisis amid globalization, anarchic ideas on how to manage a society without a state gains attention if developed more,” Raouf wrote. Recent developments like global networking, rise of the civil society and growing democracy in a way that fosters localities have common ground with anarchism according to Raouf.


For Mowafy, Anarchism is an international movement that seeks a unified self-governed humanity. At this final stage no armies are needed.

“However, within the current context, nobody in his right mind can ask for the army to be dissolved,” he noted. The army, like any other national institution, should be under the control of elected civilians and its budget revised by people's representatives to protect national security, he added.

Viral Nassar, an Egyptian-French, believes in the ladder theory. "It will be pointless to spread anarchism now in Egypt. People don't understand basic politics to grasp the most infamous system ever and adapt to it,” he says.

"Democracy with all its deceits will let people know how ugly and bloody democracy is," he added.

Anarchic models include Christiania, the Freetown of Denmark. It’s an example of how a society can rule itself with no supervision from the municipality of Copenhagen which the town belongs to geographically. Only nine rules govern Christiania, some of which are: no weapons, no hard-drugs, no violence, no bulletproof clothing, no sale of fireworks and no stolen goods.

Michael Lund, journalist at Denmark Radio, said that Christiania has developed as a unique experiment where nobody owns land or homes and everything is decided by debating until everyone agrees. It has produced artists, new designs of everything from bicycles to clothes and is one of Denmark’s biggest tourist destinations.

“However, there are also problems. The idea of no leadership and everyone having to agree on everything has made it very difficult for the inhabitants to make fast decisions about anything. Also, Christiania’s belief that cannabis is not illegal has attracted gangs that sell hashish,” said Lund who lives less than 2 km from the “free city” and passes by it regularly. He has also visited it numerous times.

The people of Christiania, who often don’t trust the police, have not been able to keep these gangs out, which has let to violent incidents between different gangs, Lund said.

“There’s also a critique that Christiania has become a closed society, where only people who know somebody there can live — which is actually opposite to the original idea of the free city”, he said.

Although the January 25 revolution was leaderless — which is favored by anarchists who prefer to be unknown as soldiers in the life battle or “anonymous” as they prefer to call themselves — Abdullah stressed that the revolution found anarchy by itself and it was not anarchists who made it.

“It’s a disgrace to say that anarchists are behind the revolution because if we were, [the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces] wouldn’t be ruling. We should have never left after Mubarak stepped down. Unfortunately, the people like to re-invent the wheel and fall into the same mistakes of other revolutions,” Abdel Kawy noted.


According to anarchists, anarchism can never be imposed from above. The real bet is the people who will realize the flaws of parliamentary democracy and choose direct democracy.

“We seek to build libertarian constructs within the current society, mainly cooperatives, labor unions and syndicates. Lower levels in the society as in localities are the most jammed because as you go smaller, more issues become common to inhabitants of such localities. Once people become confident of their ability to manage their own affairs democratically, they will seek to extend the space where they can practice self-management,” Mowafy said.

How would a country of nearly 80 million govern themselves making decisions altogether?

“Think outside the box,” said Abdullah. “Voting can be on Twitter.”

*Photo courtesy of the Associated Press, Tara Todras-Whitehill

Fuel shortage in Egypt leads to rising tensions

Fuel shortage in Egypt leads to rising tensions

CAIRO | Mon Jan 16, 2012

Sherine El Madany

(Reuters) - A gasoline shortage in Egypt has led to long queues at fuel stations and raised suspicions among drivers that it may be a prelude to a cut in subsidies, despite official reassurances that there is no plan to hike prices.

The streets of Cairo and other cities have been blocked by queues of cars, often snaking around the block, since shortages started becoming apparent on Saturday.

Many drivers have reached the pumps only to find fuel had run out, stoking tensions in a nation already reeling from months of political unrest and leaving many people frustrated that the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak in February last year has not yielded the economic dividend they expected.

"I have toured 15 gasoline stations looking for fuel," said Mahmoud Rabie, a merchant who travelled from his hometown in the Nile Delta province of Sharqiya, north of Cairo, to the capital searching for gasoline.

The shortages have prompted speculation that the government, which has asked the International Monetary Fund to help plug a gaping budget deficit, may be using a tactic to prepare people to pay more for fuel and rein in subsidies that weigh on state coffers. The government has said it has no such plan.

Some have speculated that it shows how dire Egypt's finances are as its foreign currency reserves have tumbled. Egypt exports crude but also imports some refined products to meet its needs.

Oil Deputy Minister Mahmoud Nazim said on Monday the government had no intention of raising gasoline prices and said that supplies to local markets had been increased.

"Companies providing petroleum products to stations have begun increasing their gasoline supplies to 5.21 million liters per day, 33 percent higher than usual quantities," Nazim said in an Oil Ministry statement.

But he did not explain the reason for the shortage.


Some analysts say that, whatever the original cause, it may have been exacerbated by hoarding for fear of a possible flare-up during the January 25 anniversary of the start of the anti-Mubarak uprising. Some fear renewed violence during protests by those opposed to the generals now in charge.

Gasoline station managers are puzzled.

"There is barely any fuel across the country. Quantities supplied to us are very low. We don't even know why," said Howaida al-Sayid, deputy manager at a Cairo Exxon Mobil station.

Egypt's economy is in tatters after a series of protests against the ruling military council turned violent, hammering investment and tourism.

Any jump in gasoline prices would put upward pressure on inflation, which is accelerating and was one of the main drivers of the January 25 uprising. Inflation in the 12 months to December climbed to 9.5 percent from 9.1 percent in November.

Several fuel station employees in Cairo said their stations were receiving only a third of their regular quotas, with queues piling up as early as 6 a.m. and supplies running out by noon.

"I told you to fill up my entire tank, and it's only half full," one customer shouted at a worker at one packed station.

Egypt, which subsidizes fuel, has about a fifth of its 80 million people living on $2 a day. The cheapest and lowest grade fuel, 80 Octane, is sold for just 1 Egyptian pound (17 U.S. cents) a liter, well below its market value.

"I have been searching in vain for gasoline since last night, and now that I have found a station that actually sells gasoline, I will fill up my entire tank," said Alaa al-Sheikh, manager of a garments factory.

"This shortage seems to either be a prelude by the authorities to hike prices or an attempt to prevent people from taking to the streets again on January 25."

Mounting public anger over what many see as the military council's mismanagement of the transition is seen as possibly sparking another flare-up of protests on the revolt anniversary.

"I believe this is just one problem created by the authorities to try and divert attention away from the January 25 anniversary," Sheikh said. "They are still following the exact same steps of the previous regime."

Analysts say the most pressing economic threat is the slide in Egypt's foreign reserves, which tumbled from around $36 billion at the end of 2010 to about $18 billion at the end of 2011.

Islamist 'Morality Police' trains volunteers with electric batons

Ahram Online
Islamist 'Morality Police' to train volunteers in using electric batons
Thursday 12 Jan 2012

A controversial hardliner group in Egypt announces that it purchased 1000 tazers to help its cadre defend themselves as they 'promote virtue' on the country's streets

The self-proclaimed Islamist "Morality Police" announced on its new official Facebook page that it has acquired 1,000 tazers to be distributed to volunteers who will promote "virtue" and combat "vice" in the Egyptian street.

The "Morality Police", which models itself on a similar group in Saudi Arabia that monitors citizens social behaviour, added in its announcement that these electric shocks batons will help in self-defence against any possible attacks on volunteers, adding that volunteers would be instructed to use the tazers only in "extremely necessary" situations.

The Facebook page announced that the first field training session for volunteers will be on Thursday evening in El-Mandara neighbourhood in Alexandria.

Meanwhile, Suez Port authorities announced last week that they foiled an attempt to smuggle in 1,000 tazers while it was not clear who the shipment was intended to reach.

Islamist and organised Salafist forces such as the Nour Party have distanced themselves from the "Morality Police" group, which has so far only operated in cyberspace.

Capitalism, unemployment & mass incarceration

Capitalism, unemployment and mass incarceration

January 11, 2012

PSL Editorial

As we go to print, the Occupy arrests counter has reached 5,861. Nearly every Occupy site in cities across the country has been evicted and blockaded—mostly under the direction of Democratic Party mayors in coordination with federal authorities.

If arrests on this scale had taken place in Syria or Iran—countries whose governments the U.S. government wants to subvert and overthrow—the leading corporate newspapers would be running front-page sympathetic articles and crafting the most sensational headlines based on nameless sources and unverified speculation.

But on a social movement just a phone call or short drive away, they have either fallen silent, distorted the movement’s message, or called for a more rapid crackdown.

The nationwide assault on civil rights and civil liberties carried out by U.S. police and other security forces receives no such critical evaluation. This was made clear in the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows for the indefinite detention without due process of any person (including U.S. citizens) deemed terrorist suspects. The bill passed overwhelmingly in the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Democratic Party White House. What was missing from the bourgeois coverage, which discussed the “potential” for civil rights abuses, was the extent to which the national security state is already a dominant feature of our society.

Look at the staggering incarceration rate which has made the United States the world’s largest jailer. Look at the 700,000 people who were stopped and frisked by NYC police officers last year—85 percent of whom were Black or Latino. Look at the over 1 million people deported under the Obama administration.

The individual cases of cops gone wild, which the capitalist media runs as oddity, just give a face to these trends. There’s the African American teenager deported to Colombia on a case of “mistaken identity”—putting a spotlight on the deportation-crazy immigration system. There’s the 5-year-old in small Charlton, Mass., who was visited by police because of overdue library books. There’s the 13-year-old in Albuquerque handcuffed and arrested for “burping audibly” in gym class, a reflection of the militarization of public schools. There’s the practice of the Atlanta police, now facing scrutiny, of conducting full cavity searches on public streets.

We could list incidents like this all day. Excessive force has become the norm. Far too often, once the heavily-policed students turn into adults, such encounters with the state end with them injured, tasered or killed. Black and Latino men are the prime targets, but hardly the only ones.

These stories reflect not just a security culture run amok, but the tendency of modern capitalism to address its economic contradictions through force and mass incarceration. Under the three heavy blows of neoliberal policies, automation and a depressed economy, tens of millions have been cast out of the productive operations of the economy altogether. They have become in the eyes of Wall Street “surplus workers.”

The phenomenon of surplus workers confronted capitalism in Europe. The solution then was to ship these surplus populations to North America and Australia to colonize new lands in the first phase of capitalist globalization. Today, the prisons are the dumping grounds for millions of working class people who the capitalists don't need in the process of normal production. Once incarcerated and having lost all rights to unionize or protest, however, these same "surplus workers" are employed by the Prison-Industrial Complex as virtual slaves.

A massive police-industrial-complex has developed to manage this “surplus” population, which has been historically concentrated in Black urban communities, but increasingly includes wider sections of the population. The Occupy movement, and the response of the state, demonstrates these trends.

On Jan. 14, there will be an important “Jobs, Not Jails” march and rally in Washington, D.C. It comes as new groups of students have started to organize against mass incarceration. This is an opportunity for the Occupy movement to link its own struggle against repression with the mass incarceration and police harassment of oppressed communities.

It also is an opportunity to raise what kind of system we want. Capitalism’s trend is towards “jails, not jobs”—to reverse that means raising a vision of a different type of society.

Solidarity protest for Anarchists & Revolutionary Socialists

Ahram Online
Solidarity protests held for Revolutionary Socialists and Egyptian Anarchists

Tuesday Jan 3, 2012

Randa Ali

The Journalists’ Syndicate witnessed a protest in solidarity with both the Revolutionary Socialists (RS) and Egyptian Anarchists on Monday, as a reaction to a media smear campaign lead by Islamist forces targeting both groups.

Around 100 people gathered at 4pm chanting "social equality comes through socialism." Revolutionary Socialists activist Mostafa El-Fouly says "the campaign against us is supported by the media and political parties who have cooperated with the SCAF in an attempt to defame the movement.”

On 24 December a complaint was filed with Egypt’s prosecutor-general against revolutionary socialists Yasser Abd El-Qawy, Sameh Naguib and Hesham Yousri by Muslim Brotherhood lawyer Gamal Tag El-Din, accusing the movement of inciting violence and aiming for "state demolition."

Tag El-Din later withdrew his complaint, satisfied by assurances from the RS that they were not involved in any acts of violence.

“Defamation campaigns aren't just targeting RS, they are targeting all revolutionaries,” says Revolutionary Socialists activist Gihan Ibrahim, “RS have always been transparent on their political stance, even before the revolution; we won’t stop fighting.”

The Muslim Brotherhood has denied being involved in filing the complaint against the Revolutionary Socialists, saying that it was a personal move on Tag El-Din's part and called on him to withdraw the complaint.

The Revolutionary Socialists, however, did not consider Tag El-Din's move as an individual act as the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party also published on its newspaper’s front page an article stating the same charges. The paper continued its attack on both the Revolutionary Socialists and Anarchists days after the complaint was withdrawn.

On 27 December prominent Islamic scholar Yousif El-Badry, along with eight other lawyers, filed another lawsuit against Sameh Naguib, in what was considered by different political groups as an extension to the attack on the leftist organisation

Egyptian women cane 'morality police'

United Press International
Egyptian women cane 'morality police'

BENHA, Egypt, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- Self-proclaimed "morality police" in Egypt found themselves on the receiving end of a beating themselves when they threatened women at a beauty salon.

Witnesses said the ultra-conservative vigilante gang, members of the strict Salafi sect who consider themselves "morality police" inspired by Saudi Arabia's "Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice," entered the beauty salon in Benha recently and ordered the women to cease their beauty treatments or face punishment, bikyamasr.com reported Monday.

However, the men, who claimed they were enforcing Islamic law, were shocked when the women attacked them with their own canes and shoved them out onto the street, where the women found support from bystanders, witnesses said.

Egyptian women cane morality police

January 9, 2012

Vigilante gangs of ultra-conservative Salafi men have been harassing shop owners and female customers in rural towns around Egypt for “indecent behavior,” according to reports in the Egyptian news media. But when they burst into a beauty salon in the Nile delta town of Benha this week and ordered the women inside to stop what they were doing or face physical punishment, the women struck back, whipping them with their own canes before kicking them out to the street in front of an astonished crowd of onlookers.

Modeling themselves after Saudi Arabia’s morality police as a “Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice,” the young men raided clothing and other retail shops around the Qalubiya province over New Year’s weekend declaring they were there to enforce Islamic law, according to the Tahrir News.

Shop owners were told they could no longer sell “indecent” clothing, barbers could no longer shave men’s beards, and that all retail businesses should expect regular and surprise inspections to check for compliance. Frightened customers were ordered to cover up and threatened with severe punishment if they did not abide by “God’s law on earth.”

But when the women in a Benha beauty salon stood up to the young Salafi enforcers, they found support on the streets as well as online, with one amused reader suggesting that women should be deputized to protect the revolution’s democratic values.

Last month thousands of women marched in Tahrir Square in outrage over the clubbing and sexual humiliation of female demonstrators, like the notorious beating and stripping of “the blue bra girl” in December, whose videoed assault made headlines around the world.

In one of the first pubic apologies ever issued by the military, generals from the ruling council acknowledged the incident and apologized even before the Dec. 17 march had ended. The military faced a second rebuke a week later when a civilian court banned the military’s use of “virginity tests” to shame and humiliate female demonstrators.

In addition to invading shops, the “morality police” also smashed Christmas trees and decorations in front of stores and malls, declaring the celebration of Christmas “haram” or forbidden. Salafi sheiks have also banned the sending of Christmas greetings, prompting the more moderate Muslim Brotherhood to broadcast messages of Christmas cheer to their Christian brethren.

The conservative Salafi sect promotes the strict segregation of the sexes, with many Salafi women wearing the all-enveloping black nikkab gown with eye slits. The group has worried the tourist industry with their pledge to ban alcohol and mixed-gender beaches. Coptic Christians who saw two of their churches torched by Salafis last spring fear further persecution.

Sunni sheiks from Cairo’s respected Al Azhar mosque and university called an emergency meeting January 4 to discuss the problem, and declared that the Salafi morality police had no legitimate or legal authority on the street, according to Ahramonline.

Two days later, Egyptian former mufti Nasr Farid who was once responsible for issuing religious edicts or fatwas based on Sharia law agreed, stating that the young vigilantes were usurping state authority and did not have the jurisdiction to impose their concept of religious law.

In response, the group pointed to the al Nour party’s recent election triumph in which they won nearly 30 percent of parliament seats, as giving them a mandate to enforce Sharia law. They claimed they not only had the backing of members of Al Nour’s leadership council, but that al Nour leadership had in fact provided the funding to mobilize young volunteers.

The Al Nour party’s Facebook page however denied financing the group.

In a desperate effort to gain control of their public message, Al Nour party officials have tried to control the actions of their followers and silence individual Salafi sheiks, like Abdel Moneim el Shahat in conservative Alexandria, who has suggested covering the “obscene” figures on Egypt’s ancient monuments with wax.

The young members of the morality police held their first meeting this week, according to a report in the Al Masry Al Youm newspaper, “to determine the tasks and geographical jurisdictions of the first volunteers, who would monitor people’s behavior in the street and assess whether they contradicted God’s laws. Volunteers would wear white cloaks and hold bamboo canes to beat violators and later would be provided with electric tasers.”

Israeli students to get $2,000 to spread propaganda

Electronic Intifada
Israeli students to get $2,000 to spread state propaganda on Facebook

Wed, 01/04/2012

Ali Abunimah

The National Union of Israeli Students (NUIS) has become a full-time partner in the Israeli government’s efforts to spread its propaganda online and on college campuses around the world.

NUIS has launched a program to pay Israeli university students $2,000 to spread pro-Israel propaganda online for 5 hours per week from the “comfort of home.”

The union is also partnering with Israel’s Jewish Agency to send Israeli students as missionaries to spread propaganda in other countries, for which they will also receive a stipend.

This active recruitment of Israeli students is part of Israel’s orchestrated effort to suppress the Palestinian solidarity movement under the guise of combating “delegitimization” of Israel and anti-Semitism.

The involvement of the official Israeli student union as well as Haifa University, Tel Aviv University, Ben-Gurion University and Sapir College in these state propaganda programs will likely bolster Palestinian calls for the international boycott of Israeli academic institutions.


This is our opportunity, as Israeli students, to provide hasbara [state propaganda] that is correct and balanced, to help in the struggle against the delegitimization of the State of Israel and against hatred of Jews in the world.

That is one of the exhortations in a Hebrew document issued by NUIS, and translated by The Electronic Intifada, inviting Israeli students to apply for a program to help spread Israel’s message.

The project seeks to take advantage of the fact that “Many students in Israel master the Internet and are proficient at using the Internet and social networking and various sites and are required to write and express themselves in English.”

The paid scholarship will allow them to get training and then work from home for five hours per week for a year to “refute” what it calls “misinformation” about Israel on social networking sites.

Among the stated goals of the scholarships is “to deepen and expand hasbara activities of students in the State of Israel.” The document explains:

The Internet allows uncontrolled access to content from marginal groups and therefore can influence many audiences who are exposed to such information, particularly young people who are more easily influenced.

The Internet, then, is used as a major tool for the dissemination of anti-Semitism, hatred of Israel and of Jews and thus the Internet is also the place to battle against such sites, pull the ground from under them and to provide reliable and balanced information.


The NUIS program document explains:

After training, the student will begin his activities. The student will do the activities in the comfort of his home, where every week he will be obligated to about 5 hours of activities for a period of one calendar year (not academic year). Students will be paid a total of NIS 7,500 [$2,000] to perform the tasks of the project, at least 5 hours weekly for a total of 240 hours of activities under the project umbrella.

What is completely missing from the program is any indication that criticism of Israel could be valid. Rather the National Union of Israeli Students apparently seeks to indoctrinate Israeli students that every criticism of Israel is “hate” and “anti-Semitism” and that the Internet should be seen as a battlefield on which they are foot soldiers.


An interesting aspect of the NUIS program is that it uses the common open source virtual learning environment Moodle as its interface with program participants. This interface can be found at students.digitalchange.co.il.

Whereas Moodle was designed for education – to spread mind-opening learning beyond the constraints of geography – the Israeli innovation here is to use it for mind-narrowing propaganda: getting students to be uncritical, to not think for themselves, but rather to spread Israel’s state-sponsored propaganda.


NUIS has also partnered with the Jewish Agency, the Israeli state body that encourages Jews from around the world to settle on stolen Palestinian land, to spread propaganda on college campuses around the world.

The Jewish Agency website announces, as translated from Hebrew by Dena Shunra for The Electronic Intifada:

For the first time in Israel – a unique, world-encompassing scholarship, in cooperation between the Student Union and the Jewish Agency.

Every year the Jewish Agency of Israel sends approximately 150 emissaries to various places around the world - North America, England, South Africa, Australia, Germany, Italy and South America, who engage in Jewish education and hasbara in three main streams - Hillel emissaries (to campuses around North America), community emissaries and youth movement emissaries.

Training for these overseas missions for successful applicants will take place at Haifa University, Tel Aviv University, Ben-Gurion University and Sapir College, after which the would-be missionaries “will set off for a one-year mission in the various Jewish communities around the world, and will also receive a scholarship of up to NIS 5,000 [$1300].”

Applications are open to Israeli citizens who have lived in the country for three years, those who have completed service in the Israeli army, and those who speak foreign languages, among other criteria.


In most countries student unions often find themselves at odds with state authorities, fighting for the rights of students. But it would appear that Israel’s “student union” does not so much represent students and fight for their rights, but represents the state in the state’s efforts to recruit students to do its political bidding.

In this sense, the NUIS functions in a very similar way to Israel’s “trade union” the Histadrut.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Interior Minister Must Immediately Retract his ‘Shoot-to-Kill Bonus’ Decree

EIPR - Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
Interior Minister Must Immediately Retract the ‘Shoot to Kill Bonuses’ Decision

Wednesday 4 January 2012

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) condemned the new policy of the Interior Minister that gives police officers a shoot to kill license, and offers bonuses to police officers who shoot and kill 'thugs'.

The EIPR declared that the new minister’s policies violate all laws and regulations, both Egyptian and international, and has demanded that the Minister immediately retract his faulty policy and replace it with reasonable and legal policies for regulating police work.

General Mohamed Ibrahim, who was appointed a few weeks ago in Dr. Kamal El Ganzoury’s cabinet, has declared - through statements to the press while visiting the Fayoum police station on Sunday 1 January – that he will reward any officer who shoots and kills a thug, if the thug initiates gunfire.

“We would have never imagined that the first action of the new Minister would be to give police officers a license to kill with financial bonuses, especially after the murdering sprees committed by police officers during the revolution.

Instead of drafting policies that encourage self-restraint and discipline on the part of the security forces, the Minister is effectively telling his officers : kill and you will not be held accountable, kill and you will be rewarded.” said Magda Boutros, Criminal Justice Director at the EIPR.

She added : “This policy turns the police from an institution responsible for preserving citizens' safety, arresting suspects and bringing them to justice, to one that immediately punishes suspects, without resorting to the judiciary or the law, and in the worst possible way : intentional murder."

The EIPR emphasized that the law does not allow intentional killings for the sole reason that ‘thugs started shooting’ – as the Minister says – although the law does allow the use of firearms under specific conditions. Article 102 of the Police Law allows policemen to use firearms only when arresting a suspect caught red-handed for a felony in which an arrest is permitted, if this is the only way to achieve the arrest.

According to the law, the policeman must first give warning that he will use firearms, and must use it in accordance to regulations. Firearms can only be used to secure an arrest and prevent an escape; the police law in no way permits the targeting of individuals with the intention of killing them.

There are also legal conditions in cases of defense of self or others against an imminent life-threatening danger, including that the person defending himself must be facing a imminent and severe danger which they cannot prevent by any other means, according to Article 61 of the penal code.

The EIPR added that police officers have powers that allow them to defend themselves and others without resorting to firearms, such as arrests, searches, and interrogations. In all cases, any case of death requires a full judicial investigation, and the burden of proof lies on the officer to prove he was in a situation of self-defense.

The EIPR also called on the Interior Minister to enact practical and sustainable policies to bring solutions to security problems, while avoiding any escalation in the use of force and firearms, such as intensifying security patrols in remote areas, guaranteeing timely and preventative interventions before security problems escalate, and training police officers on how to take the most appropriate decision to keep the peace and preserve life, and how to solve security problems with the minimal force required to achieve their goals.

“Escalation in the use of force, even when legitimate, can lead to negative consequences; it can result in a rise in unintended casualties and increases the risk of injuring uninvolved persons,” said Magda Boutros. She added : “Facilitating the use of firearms creates a vicious circle of violence and counter-violence between policemen and outlaws.

The experiences of other countries has proven that escalations of violence from the police do not result in decreased crime rates; rather it causes more deaths and injuries on both sides. In Brazil, for example, studies have shown that when the police increased the use of lethal force in the period between 1999 and 2004, it was not met with a decreased crime rate but with an increased risk to the lives of policemen."

Further, the EIPR emphasized that in all cases, any actions pertaining to the lives of civilians must be subject to clear and strict legislation that is accessible to all, and must be implemented under judicial oversight.http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif

It should be noted that the EIPR produced a code of conduct last December in which it outlined the basic rules for policing demonstrations and public disorder situations, and the levels of legitimate force that can be use in those situations.

*In Arabic:

لمبادرة المصرية للحقوق الشخصية: على وزير الداخلية أن يسحب فوراً قرار "مكافآت
القتل"... سياسة الوزير الجديد تخالف قانون هيئة الشرطة وتفتح أبواب جهنم