Protest Beit Hanoun Massacre Thursday

In response to the Beit Hanoun massacre of Palestinian women and children, The Muslim Brotherhood, the Revolutionary Socialists and Kefaya have called for a women's demonstration in front of the Arab League in Tahrir Square, Thrusday November 16 at 2:00 p.m. The demonstration will be the first street event organized jointly by women activists from the secular and religious opposition.
Protest Beit Hanoun Massacre

احتجاجا على مقتل النساء والأط�ال �ي بيت حانون على أيدي قوات الاحتلال الإسرائيلي، تدعو جماعة الاخوان المسلمين وتيار الاشتراكيين الثوريين وحركة ك�اية لمظاهرة نسائية أمام مقر جامعة الدول العربية بميدان التحرير الخميس 16 نو�مبر، الساعة 2 ظهراً

تعد المظاهرة الأولى من نوعها لجمعها نساء المعارضة العلمانية والدينية معاً

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The Street Is Ours Demo tomorrow

تعلن حركة الشارع لنا أننا سو� نبدأ حملة د�اعا عن تواجدنا.. عن حقنا �ي الحياة العامة.. وعن حقنا �ي حياة خالية من العن� والتحرش الجنسي.. وندعو الجميع، نساء ورجال، إلى التجمع أمام سينما مترو (أحد مواقع تحرشات وسط البلد) يوم الثلاثاء، 14 نو�مبر �ي الثالثة بعد الظهر، تضامنا مع النساء ضحايا أيام العيد وإعلانا بأن الشارع لنا وأن أحدا لن يعزلنا أو يخي�نا بعيدا عنه. كي لا تخا� أي أم على ابنتها أو أخت على أختها وأي زوج على زوجته أو أب على ابنته.. كي لا يسرقوا منا الشعور بالأمن �ي بلادنا.. الآن: مسئوليتنا جميعا أن ننزل الشارع مزيد من المعلومات مراسلتنا على البريد الالكترونى info [at] streetisours [dot] org

The Street is Ours We shall start a campaign defending our presence, our right to public space, our right to a life free of violence and sexual harassment; We call upon everybody, women and men, to gather in front of the Metro Theater (one of the locations where the harassments took place) Tuesday 14 November, at 3 p.m., to express our solidarity with the victims of harassment to make a statement that the street is ours. Nobody will terrify us away. Nobody will isolate us in our country.

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Demo: Kefaya marks 2nd anniversary

Kefaya is holding an anti-Mubarak protest on 12 December, at 12 noon, in front of the High Court in Ramses, marking the second anniversary of the movement's first anti-regime protest in 2004.
Kefaya's 1st anti-Mubarak demo (Photo by Hossam el-Hamalawy, taken on 12Dec04)
[Above: Kefaya and el-Hamla el-Sha'abiya's first anti-Mubarak protest. You can find more pix I took of the 12 December 2004 demo on my flickr account]
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Kefaya Giza coordinator detained

Authorities continued their hassels against Mohamed Al-Ashqar, Kefaya activist and the head of the Popular Committee for the Protection of the Consumer from Corruption in Giza. He was detained yesterday, and his whereabouts are unknown. Ashqar was to lead the "garbage march" today in Giza, to protest the unfair garbage collection fees decreed by the Governor. Related link: State Security "detains" Kefaya activist's car
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Garbage march

The Popular Committee for the Protection of the Consumer from Corruption has called for a march on Monday, 13 November in Giza, to protest the Governor's decree to add unfair garbage collection fees to electricity bills. The silent march is to start in front of the Telephone Centrale in Giza Square, 12 noon, and will proceed to the Giza Governorate building. Participants are encouraged to bring garbage bags which will be dumped in front of the Governorate's building at the end of the march.
اللجنة الشعبية لحماية المستهلك من الجباية وال�ساد والتى استطاعت من قبل وبمأزرة جماهير الجيزة من الحصول على الحكم النهائى بالغاء رسوم النظا�ة المضا�ة الى �اتورة الكهرباء ، تدعوكم اللجنة الى المظاهرة الصامتة التى ستبدأ �ى:الثانية عشر ظهرا يوم الاثنين الموا�ق 13 نو�مبروبمشاركة كا�ة مؤسسات المجتمع الأهلى والقوى الوطنية من امام سنترال ميدان الجيزة يحمل كل منا �ى يده كيس زبالة حيث تبدأ المسيرة من الميدان لتنتهى امام مبنى محا�ظة الجيزة لالقاء هذه المخل�ات امام مبنى المحا�ظة تحت شعار"الزبالة يا مسئولين زبالة ...لن نسدد �واتير اللصوص" للاستعلام يرجى الاتصال بالارقام" 5725297 - 0123997591
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وداعاً أحمد شر�

Communist lawyer Ahmad SharafEddin passed away last night at the age of 57. Sharaf was a student leader in the 1970s, who went on to become a labor lawyer. He was a devoted soldier in working class battles and a ruthless civil rights campaigner at the Lawyers' Syndicate. May he rest in peace… I'm posting a feature, I wrote for the Cairo Times back in 2002, about Awlad Allam slum in Dokki, where Sharaf grew up. Diamond in the rough Nestled among the high towers and fashionable boutiques of Dokki lies a slum with an illustrious past, Hossam El-Hamalawy explores A slum in Dokki!? Eyebrows go up whenever anyone hears of the existence of Awlad Allam, an "informal neighborhood" (read slum area) in the heart of upmarket Dokki. Not far from the Shooting Club, just behind the Ministry of Agriculture complex and the elite residential area by Mossadeq Street, Awlad Allam was actually one of the first settlements on the west bank of Cairo. This small shaabi enclave in a wealthy area was once known for its political militancy. But unlike most slum areas, in which Islamist groups from the Muslim Brotherhood to Al Gamaa Al Islamiya have thrived, Awlad Allam was a stronghold of communists and other leftist groups throughout the 1970s and 1980s. It most notably produced several leftist leaders who played a key role in the students' and workers' movements of those decades. However, in the 1990s, the neighborhood's reputation changed. After being a center of militant secular politics, authorities have accused it of being a hotbed for drug dealers and thugsan accusation strongly denied by its residents, though they admit that apathy, unemployment and frustration have spread among the youth. Now, while the residents of Awlad Allam have abandoned leftist politics (or, as they might say, leftist politics abandoned them), they are facing a greater challenge than State Security crackdowns. For over two decades, they have fought off an attempt by the government to evict them from their prime real estate and move them to the new residential areas around Cairo. Pioneers "The story [of Awlad Allam] is passed on from one generation to the other," says 25-year-old Emad Mubarak. "Dokki was then an agricultural areano buildings, no nothing." Emad is the brother of Hisham Mubarak, a pioneering human rights activist in the 1990s (and occasional Cairo Times contributor) who passed away in 1999. He is also a prominent leftist activist in his own right and has faced persecution from the State Security police on numerous occasions. He decided to follow in the footsteps of his late brother as a human rights lawyer. "People are always shocked when they find out about the existence of a shantytown in the middle of Dokki," Mubarak says. "But we were here before Dokki was built. This is the case in many other areas. The slum existed before the posh district, unlike the common stereotype." There are several histories--and urban legends--about the neighborhood. But legal documents in the possession of former student leader and current labor lawyer, Ahmad Sharaf, show that the inhabitants of Awlad Allam settled around the year 1900 after emigrating from Upper Egypt. "The [inhabitants of the] old part of Awlad Allam were working the land of Princess Fatma Ismail," explains Sharaf. "She owned all of these lands, including the area upon which Cairo University was built. Later it was taken over by the [Ministry of] Awqaf." What started a century ago as a scattering of peasant huts has evolved into a five-feddan slum with a population ranging between 15,000 and 20,000 persons. Until the 1960s, most of the residents were peasants. But now things changed. "You find professors, police and army officers, judges, teachers, lawyers and doctors," says Gouda Al Sheemi, a 59-year-old resident who works at the National Research Center. "This is a microcosm of Egyptian society." The diversity of professions isn't the only common aspect of this community--the poverty of the slum's inhabitants is evident. Around 100 families receive aid from the Ministry of Social Affairs, according to Sharaf. Until recently, Awlad Allam lacked basic facilities. The inner alleys were only paved three years ago and drinking water pipes were only installed in 1997. "Before that women used to carry big plastic containers on their heads, and walk to a public water pipe outside the slum to get their families' share," recalls Mubarak. "The houses are so small that you can't even now extend the pipes inside, so the pipes surround the houses!" A radical history Poverty, in addition to the political conditions the country was going through in the 1970s, radicalized many of the inhabitants of the slum. It's enough to bring up Sharaf's and Mubarak's names to any of the residents and dozens of residents gather around to recount the "legends" of Awlad Allam's favorite sons. "I remember when we were children, Ahmad Sharaf and Hisham Mubarak were like folk heroes," says Ragab Abdel Hamid, a 28-year-old janitor and father of two. "We used to look up to them, and talk joyously about how they caused headaches for the government." Abdel Hamid has named his newborn child Hisham. Communist militants had an active presence in the neighborhood for decades, organizing demonstrations, clashes with the police, and welfare activities. One of the earliest memories Sharaf has about his childhood was the 1956 demonstration against the Suez War. "The people in the neighborhood took to the streets chanting anti-British and pro-Nasser slogans," he says. "We were carrying a symbolic coffin for [British Prime Minister Anthony] Eden that was made of wooden chicken cages. We all marched barefooted and in gallabiyas. I was seven years old then, and I had no clue who Nasser was at that time. I thought he was someone important in the nearby Ministry of Agriculture!" That even marked the beginning of political activities in the area, which heightened after the 1967 defeat that pushed many of Awlad Allam's disillusioned youths to the radical left. Each generation of activists in the slum organized a madrassa talaie (vanguards school) through which the political message was passed on to the following generation. The "school" would be set up in the evenings at any nearby empty school building, mosque, Tagammu party headquarters, or even inside the homes of the residents. "There were two objectives: private tutoring for young students to help them in their studies, and at the same time creating politically conscious cadres," says Mubarak. "It was easy to create such cadres, because of the poverty and the feeling of the educated individuals in the slum of the need to do something about it. That's why the people were attracted to the left, and the communists had the upper hand." The slum's children were also taken on recreational trips to archeological places, and museums to know more about the history of Egypt. During the trips, the youngsters were taught to care about Awlad Allam, their "little Egypt," and also their country, "greater Egypt," adds Mubarak. "We used to pay for everything from our pockets including the chalk bars," says Al Sheemi, remembering the evening classes he used to teach. "Today I meet doctors, engineers, and officers, who come up to me and say: 'Do you remember me? I was one of your students. You helped me a lot.'" Political meetings were conducted, while everyone is sitting on the floor, eating falafel, in an atmosphere of comradeship and respect for differences. "At the end of the day, we were all friends; we were all brothers; and we were all Egypt," Al Sheemi added. Mubarak remembers the "street theater" the communist activists used to organize when he was a child. "We used to get a group of tables; put them together and then cover them with a cloth. That was the stage," he says. "Plays were performed, talking about the regime and social oppression. We used to write these plays ourselves, and the youth in the slum would perform them." The shows were very popular. Huge numbers used to come and watch, including inhabitants of neighboring slums, from both sexes and all ages. Politics to drugs? However, with the retreat of the left and the general deterioration of political life in the 1990s, things changed. Awlad Allam's reputation went from being a political hotbed to a den of thugs, drug dealers, and junkies. "There was no continuation between the 1980s and the 1990s generations," Mubarak says. "But my [1990s] generation is to be blamed for that. We couldn't follow the previous one. The Tagammu [party]'s headquarters doesn't exist anymore in the neighborhood. The Tagammu itself has changed, and became unwelcoming to radicals, especially Trotskyites, who make up for most of Egypt's new left." For Mubarak, the problems in the neighborhood cannot be separated from the general problems Egypt is facing. "Everyone is depressed, with poverty all around you," he says. "You have big ambitions, but you know you won't be able to achieve them. Even the simplest dreams, like getting an apartment, have become impossible. Are you going to live with your family? They are already packed in sardine tins." Drug use became prevalent as social problems such as unemployment and political helplessness became to dominate the lives of the youth. The step from drug user to drug dealer, with the nearby presence of upper class youths, was a small one. "The presence of upper class 'cool' guys around the slum encouraged at some point trading in weed as a way of making a living," Mubarak suggests. But he stresses the fact that drug trade is not as spread as the government claim, and accuses the police of taking such claim as a justification for its brutal practices in the neighborhood. Local residents claim that police often make arbitrary arrests "I was just walking in the street, and suddenly came this police officer asking for my ID," says Ibrahim, one of the teenagers in the neighborhood. "I showed it to him, but then he asked me to get into the police car." Ibrahim says this is a standard procedure, and that he was locked up several times before. "They usually lock you up for two days, and then release you with no reason," he added. Teenagers are regularly imprisoned alongside hardened criminals and receive no protection from police in jails. "You have no idea what they go through inside," says Mubarak. Drug-related offenses aside, locals claim the area has low crime ratespartly through self-policing. "Every neighborhood has got its own good guys and bad guys," says Salama Abdel Latif, a 43-year-old owner of a car workshop. "It's a small neighborhood. If anything happens, we all hear about it, and intervene to solve it." Not going anywhere Drugs may be the last thing on the minds of Awlad Allam's inhabitants. They are more worried about their own homes, from which the government has been trying to evict since the 1960s. "Every generation has heard that the neighborhood will be demolished," says Mubarak. "My elder brothers heard it during their youth, and so did I later. We are not going anywhere, as we don't have any other alternative. Your home is sacred, and you'll never leave it, even if you have money." The first major attempt at evicting the slum dwellers was in the beginning of the 1960s. The Ministry of Awqaf (religious endowments) sold the land to the Society of Broadcasters. However, the people refused to leave, so the society broke off the contract, and took only some plots of empty land around the slum, according to Sharaf. Several attempts occurred in the following decades, but were met by fierce resistance from the inhabitants that escalated into clashes with the police on some occasions. After the 1992 earthquake, local authorities evicted some families from what they considered unsafe housing, and moved them to Qattamiya outside Cairo. "The orders for house demolitions, were signed in the [local authorities'] offices," says Al Sheemi. "The officials and engineers didn't bother to come down here and check the safety of the buildings themselves." He believes, like many others, that the earthquake was merely used as a pretext to begin emptying the neighborhood. "You can't destroy our lives, and transfer us to Qattamiya, or Badr city," says Abdel Latif. "There was no single room [in the slum] that collapsed, unlike the case of other towers in high-class neighborhoods that couldn't withstand the quake." At the center of the government's attempt at evicting Awlad Allam's residents lies greed, argue locals. Because of its location near Dokki, the land they live on could fetch a hefty price. Sharaf and other lawyers, together with the some residents, have been active in trying to transfer the ownership of the land and property from the Ministry of Awqaf to the residents. In 1990, the ministry finally agreed to sell them the land, but asked for a high price. "Initially the Awqaf proposed hilarious figures: LE8,000 per meter," Sharaf remembers. "I told the head of Awqaf, 'if you sell all the inhabitants with their belongings you'd only get one house's price!' We asked for LE30-40 per meter like the other cases of Awqaf lands sold in other governorates. [But] the Awqaf is only interested in the money, and doesn't look at the social dimension." According to Sharaf, the Awqaf secretly attempted to strike a deal with some businessmen in 1994 by which the inhabitants would be transferred somewhere else to facilitate selling the land for high prices. "They estimated the total value of the land to be LE26 million," he says. "Constructing alternative houses for the evicted inhabitants would have cost LE20 million. So the Awqaf will come out with a revenue of LE6 million." After long negotiations, the Awqaf made a new offer seven months ago, citing prices ranging between LE2,000 and LE2,400 per meterstill prohibitively expensive by local standards. "My salary is LE500," says Al Sheemi. "How can I pay LE2,400 per meter? Give us a fair price that suits the people here, and we'll pay." Abdel Latif echoes his words. "Why can't I have my own land like those who live in [the elite nearby] Moussadeq Street?" asks Abdel Latif. "I'm a human being just like them, and I have the right to a decent housing. Don't throw me at the [Qattamiya] mountain." Cairo Times August 2002
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Seminar: The Coptic QuestionÙ�

The Center for Socialist Studies will hold a seminar on Discrimination against Copts in Egypt, Friday 3 November.

The First Session, 1pm to 2:30 pm: The Roots of the Problem
The session will try to situate the historical roles of the parties involved, the Egyptian state, Coptic Church, and the Coptic masses, within the socio-economic and political contexts. The session will try to answer questions including: Did the rise of political Islam trigger a sectarian polarization? Is the state a neutral arbitrator or part of the problem? Is the Coptic Church confronting the current status quo, or reinforcing it?

The Second Session, 3pm to 4:30pm, The Stand towards the Coptic Question:
This session will shed light on the class factors and stands of different political tendencies towards the Coptic Question and the alternatives for emancipation. The role of the Diaspora Copts will be discussed, together with questions regarding: Is the Secular State a solution? How do the Muslim Brothers deal with the concept of "citizenship"?
The Third Session, 5pm to 6:30pm, Developing a Leftist View of the Coptic Question

The Seminar will be attended by representatives of different political tendencies. The Center is located 7 Mourad Street, Giza.

Security agents breaking the leg of coptic protestor in Alexandria, April 2006

(Above: Security agents breaking the leg of a Coptic protestor, during Alexandria's sectarian rioting last April. Photo by Nasser Nouri)

شـــــــــارك معنا... إن توحيد الص�و� �ي مواجهة الإمبريالية والاستبداد يتطلب مواجهة قضايا محورية وشائكة، منها قضية التمييز ضد المسيحيين المصريين. وتأكيدا منا على ضرورة إدراك القوى الوطنية لأهمية القضية وأهمية بلورة موق� مشترك تجاهها.يقيم مركز الدراسات الاشتراكية سيمينار بعنوان المسألة القبطية: بين الإنكار والتبعية للإستعماروذلك بوم الجمعة 3/11/2006برنامج اليوم:
1-2:30 ظهرا
الجلسة الأولى : جذور المشكلة
تتناول هذه الجلسة بحث وتحليل لجذور مشكلة التمييز الديني �ي مصر مشتملا على الدور الذي لعبته، وما زالت تمارسه الدولة �ي مقابل دور الكنيسة وجماهير الأقباط وذلك �ي إطار التطورات الاقتصادية، والاجتماعية والسياسية التي شهدتها الساحة المصرية.
ونحاول �ي هذه الجلسة الإجابة على عدة تساؤلات منها: هل أدى صعود الإسلام السياسي إلى عملية استقطاب على أساس ديني؟ أين الحقوق التي يك�لها الدستور المصري لأقباط من ممارسات الدولة؟ الدور الذب لعبته الكنيسة �ي تعزيز الوضع القائم أو مواجهته؟

3:00-4:30:مساء
الجلسة الثانية: الموق� من مسألة الأقباط
تحاول هذه الجلسة إلقاء الضوء على المواق� المختل�ة من المسألة القبطية والحلول المطروحة للتعامل معها. و�ي هذا الإطار نطرح عدد من القضايا مثل الدور الأمريكي وعلاقته بأقباط المهجر. وكذلك البعد الطبقي لهذه المسألة. وتطرح الجلسة أسئلة ملحة منها: هل الدولة العلمانية هي الحل؟ كي� بتعامل الأخوان المسلمين مع م�هوم المواطنة؟

5:00-6:30 مساء
الجلسة الثالثة تطوير رؤية يسارية من المسألة القبطية
تركز هذه الجلسة على إجابة السؤال التالي: هل هناك رؤية يسارية موحدة حول مسألة التمييز الديني؟

يشارك �ي الجلسات ممثلون من مختل� القوى السياسية، وذلك �ي مقر المركز : 7 شارع مراد- الجيزة

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Police kidnaps labor activist

Police kidnapped Mohamed Hassan, an activist with Workers For Change, an hour ago in front of the General Federation of Trade Unions HQ in Cairo. Hassan was distributing leaflets denouncing the security intervention in the labor unions electoral process, and warning of serious vote rigging to come. Security personnel nabbed him, and took him to Al-Azbakeyya Police Station which has a notorious history of police brutality. Hassan is still locked up at this moment. Meanwhile, 25 transportation workers are currently on a sit in inside the Federation's HQ, protesting the hassels they are facing from the union bureaucracy in issuing their "candidacy certificate" (one of the red tape procedures a union candidate has to go through). And 13 other left-leaning workers from the Helwan steel mills have been eliminated from the candidacy list by State Security. Workers For Change are calling for a demo, Monday 1 pm in front of the Public Prosecutor office in Ramses St., to protest the violations by the security services. UPDATE: Mohamed Hassan has been released, after he was kept for three hours in police custody.
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Sinai leftist released

Hassan Abdallah, the coordinator of Sinai's Youth For Change, has been released few hours ago and is on his way home to Al-Arish, according to Kefaya's website. Hassan was detained by State Security in Arish on 7 September, then transferred to Bourg el-Arab prison in Alexandria, with no access to lawyers or family visits. His two brothers Wael and Mohamed have been taking refuge in the Tagammu's office in Arish, after State Security officers threatened to kill them. For more background on the Abdallahs' case, check the following posting: Sinai Torture Fields.
Posters calling for Hassan's release at Arish Tagammu Office
Mabrouk ya Hassan...
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The Muslim Brotherhood: A Socialist View

Socialist activist Sameh Naguib's booklet on the Muslim Brothers is available now online, in a pdf format, here.
الإخوان المسلمون - رؤية إشتراكية.. تألي� سامح نجيب
The booklet is in Arabic, and provides a Marxist analysis of Egypt's largest Islamist opposition group, and outlines the Socialist strategy vis a vis it. A must read... الإخوان المسلمون: رؤية اشتراكية... تألي� سامح نجيب
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"Hi, This is State Security"

There is reportedly a bureau at State Security police called the "CounterCommunism and Civil Society Organizations Bureau." Its officers are assigned with monitoring and cracking down on Marxists and left-wing rights activists. Some of them have been involved in several torture cases of leftist activists, the most recent of which has been Mohamed el-Sharqawi. There's hardly a civil society activist that hasn't received at least a "phone call" from them. Sometimes it's an "invitation for coffee," other times it's direct threats… Whether it's this or that, the aim obviously is intimidation. I met today my friend Emad Mubarak, director of the recently launched Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, and the brother of the late legendary left wing lawyer Hisham Mubarak. Emad was one of the main figures in the Egyptian leftist students scene in the 1990s, and was subject to several incidents of police brutality and detentions. Since his graduation from Ain Shams University's Faculty of Law, he's been working as a rights lawyer. Emad has been involved in defending Leftist and Muslim Brothers student activists, labor struggles, and campaigns for rights of detainees from all political tendencies. Emad met me with a big smile, "I finally received the phone call." What do you mean? I asked. "State Security called me yesterday," he said. "What did they want?" I asked. "They wanted to say Mabrouk (Congrats)!" he said. "What do you mean?! Are you joking?" "No no, I swear."
Leftist human rights lawyer Emad Mubarak (Photo by Hossam el-Hamalawy)
(Photo above: Emad Mubarak, Director of Association for Freedom of Thought & Expression) Emad went on narrating the conversation he had with the State Security officer. SS: "Who is on the phone?" Emad: "Are you kidding? You are the one who called. Who is it?" SS: "This is Ahmad S… from State Security." Emad: "How Can I help you?" SS: "We found your number on the internet, and it was mentioned as a contact number for the Association for the Freedom of Thought and Expression. We wanted to know who this number belonged to." Emad: "You mean you have my number, but you can't get my name from the telephone directory?! Anyways, my name is Emad Mubarak." SS: "Oooooh! Emad Mubarak? The brother of Hisham Mubarak? May God bless his soul. He was very respectable." Emad: "Hisham was indeed respected by everybody, especially you!" (Hisham had lost one of his ears' hearing capability, due to brutal torture by SS in 1989.) "Anyways, what do you want?" SS: "Nothing we just called in to say mabrouk for launching your association." Emad: "Thanks, anything else?" SS: "No, No. We just wanted to say mabrouk." Emad: "So do you work at Lazoughli (State Security's HQ in Downtown Cairo) or Gaber Ibn Hayan (SS HQ in Giza)?" SS: "Gaber Ibn Hayyan" (Emad knew the officer was lying, as the number that appeared on his mobile started with a 76…., which meant the caller was making the call from downtown. Emad: "So you must be ….'s student? (Emad dropped in the name of one of the notorious officers there.) SS: "Oh, Ah, Yeah, I know him." Emad: "Ok, anything else?" SS: "No, we just wanted to say mabrouk!" Emad: "ok, Bye!" Emad then hung up. "What a waste of my time and their time," he told me when I met him today. "They have nothing better else to do. I wonder when they'll invite me for coffee. I bet soon."
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Two more citizens tortured in Arish

Two citizens were tortured by the First Arish Police Station sheriff and his assistant last Thursday, Sinai Leftists are reporting. Mohamed Selim Abdel Meguid Sharif and Islam Mohamed Mohamed Ali were brutalized and sexually abused by the police officers, in a "torture orgy" which started on 1am Thursday 5 October, and lasted for hours till the Dawn Prayers, the Sinai Leftists charged. No more information is available for now regarding the reasons for the two citizens' arrest, but the Sinai Leftists promised to come forward with the names of the torturers and more details about their cases soon.
Mohamed Sharif, with marks of torture on his body (Picture from Sinai Leftists website)
Mohamed Sharif, with marks of torture on his body (Picture from Sinai Leftists website)
UPDATE: Ali Zalat of Al-Masri Al-Youm wrote Tuesday a frontpage report on the Arish torture cases. It turns out the two young men were standing in the street at midnight, talking, doing nothing, when a police van pulled over, and an officer rudely asked for their IDs. Mohamed presented the officer with his ID; Islam told him his is lost, but he had a receipt for the new ID back at his home, and begged him to allow him to walk home to bring the receipt and the copy of the police report about the loss of his ID card.
That wasn't good enough. The officer levelled insults and all sorts of swearwords against the two young men, and ordered them to get into the police car.
Later in the police station, Mohamed's mobile phone rang, and he did the unforgiven sin of answering it... That's when the police officer went out of his office with an insectiside can, he sprayed both their faces and caused them temporary blindness... brought other soldiers and started a torture orgy, where the two citizens were stripped off their clothes, and whipped with leather belts, sticks, and then sexually abused before they released by dawn...
Related link: Sinai torture fields
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Sinai torture fields

I traveled to Al-Arish last weekend, to do some research on Islamic militancy in Sinai. I'll spare you the horror stories of torture I heard from relatives of terror suspects. I may post something about it in the future, but for now you can check out HRW's report on the security crackdowns against Sinai Bedouins following the October 2004 Taba bombings: Mass Arrests and Torture in Sinai. While I was there, I decided to visit the Tagammu Party office, located in downtown Arish, to follow up on the case of detained Kefaya activist Hassan Abdallah, the coordinator of Sinai Youth For Change.
Ashraf Ayoub in front of Tagammu office
State Security agents broke into Hassan's house in Arish last month, and kidnapped him. Later, they issued death threats against his two brothers Wael and Mohamed who have taken refuge in the Tagammu office, and have been staging a continuous sit-in. At the office, I was met by veteran leftist activist Ashraf Ayoub, who's been civil rights and pro-Palestinian campaigner in Arish since 1984, his 19-year-old son and Sinai Youth For Change activist Shadi, Hassan's two brothers, mother and sister.
Sinai Youth For Change activist Shadi Ayoub
Hassan and his family joined the Tagammu Party during the post-Taba bombings security crackdowns. Hassan's mother, Kawthar, and his sister Soheir who works as a school teacher, led spontaneous demos by the mothers and women relatives of detainees to protest the widespread torture and kidnappings by State Security agents. They teamed up later with veteran activists like Ashraf Ayoub, and decided to become active members in the left-wing party branch.
Hassan's mother Kawthar, and his sister Suheir
"The threats never stopped," Kawthar said. "State Security Colonel Essam Amer and Major Hussein Mansour told us several times to leave the party, but we refused." Hassan's brother Wael, 22-year-old English literature graduate, had been detained by security 29 October, 2004, part of the mass crackdown on Arish. He was kept for three months at the State Security bureau in Arish, and another three months in Damanhour prison. He told me he was brutally tortured by interrogators, who stripped him off his clothes, threatened him with rape, suspended him from the ceiling with his hands tied to the back, applied electric shocks on several parts of his body—before releasing him saying, "Ma3lesh (never mind), you are not involved."
Hassan's brother Wael
The other brother Mohamed, a 32 year old school teacher, was also picked up by State Security on 7 December 2004, and detained for three months, where he received similar treatment.
Hassan's brother Mohamed
The younger brother Hassan, attracted the security's attention, while chanting "Down with Hosni Mubarak" during pro-Lebanese resistance demos in Arish last July. "State Security officers phoned Hassan several times, with threats and intimidation to leave Tagammu and quit activism," his mother Kawthar said. Finally, State Security agents stormed the family's house on the dawn of 7 September, while Hassan was asleep, his mother recalled. "He was asleep, in his underwear, when they grabbed him. He shouted requesting to see a judicial warrant. They told him, 'We are State Security. We don't need a warrant.'" Hassan was taken in his underwear and thrown into the police van. He was not allowed to take his eyeglasses with him. His two brothers Wael and Mohamed were present in the house, but security agents were not interested in them. On the following day, State Security Major Hussein Mansour phoned in with more threats if the Abdallahs don't cease their activism, and requested the two brothers to show up the SS Arish bureau for questioning, and to "bring clothes for their naked brother," the mother said. The two refused, saying the officer's actions were illegal. Fearing for their safety, the Abdallahs took refuge in the Tagammu office, and said if SS wanted them they could come and get them from the office. For a week, security forces used to raid their empty house every night and smash its furniture. They also told the mother several times her two sons were "considered fugitives now, and if they are seen anywhere in the streets they will be killed."
Posters demanding Hassan's release at Tagammu office
Hassan was kept in State Security Arish bureau for a week, then he was transferred to Bourg Al-Arab prison, still without his clothes or eyeglasses--just his underwear, according to his mother, as State Security officers refused to receive the clothes and food his sister and his friend Shadi Ayoub tried to bring him while he was still locked up in Arish. Hassan has not been presented to the prosecutor still, and his two brothers are still holed up in the Tagammu office for fear of their safety
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State Security threatens blogger

Blogger Mohamed Gamal, who posts under the name Mr. GEMYHOoOD, has been receiving threats from State Security recently. During the last Kefaya sit-in, Gamal told me he received phone threats from State Security officers, who asked him to take down a posting, where he drew a caricature of Hosni Mubarak urinating on the map of Egypt. Gamal refused to take it down, and continues to receive the daily phone threats. Yesterday, Gamal was on his way to the Kefaya conference at the Lawyers' Syndicate, when he was stopped by a security agent who checked his ID, and few minutes later Gamal received another phone threat from security, that he broadcasted to his friends via the mobile phone speaker.
Mr.GEMYHOoO demonstrating against Mubarak
You can read Gamal's account of the threats, in Arabic, here. Ma3lesh ya Mr. GEMYHOoOD... You have all my solidarity...
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