Things that haven't changed in Egypt

1. The abysmal treatment of detainees (and their remarkable resilience) as yet another foreign journalist's account of being arrested shows: 

During this time I studied the back of the man kneeling in front of me. The different rips and blood stains, the open wound on his upper right shoulder, where the blood began to coagulate. I could feel the man behind me resting his head on my back. As the sun set, the call for prayer was heard, and incredibly, after asking a guard’s permission, everyone somehow pivoted towards Mecca and began to pray, still crouched.

As time passed, the men started talking to one another. Speaking in whispers, some of the men near me said they were part of the march, while others swore that it was just a case of wrong place, wrong time. All but one were experiencing arrest for the first time. I couldn’t believe how well everyone was dealing with it, some even risking a smile.

“Don’t worry, your embassy will help” one said to me. “Yeah, but only if they know he’s here,” replied the man behind him. “Just stay… what’s the word? Optimistic,” said the man behind me, his head still resting on my back. The man in front suddenly gave that old trope that every visitor to Egypt would have heard a thousand times.  “Welcam to Eegipt,” he said. Everyone burst into laughter. “Shut up!” the guard shouted.

2. The solid relationship between American and Egyptian intelligence services: 

Gen. Mohammed Farid el-Tohamy, the director of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service, said had been “no change” in his organization’s relationship with U.S. spy agencies, despite delay of some U.S. weapons deliveries to the Egyptian military and talk of new Egyptian military contacts with Russia. “Cooperation between friendly services is in a completely different channel than the political channel,” Tohamy said. “I’m in constant contact with [Director] John Brennan at the CIA and the local station chief, more than with any other service worldwide.”

Bahrain: A year in jail for a poem


On Sunday a court in Bahrain sentenced Ayat Al Qurmazi, a 20-year-old education student, to a year in prison for insulting the king and inciting hatred. Al Qurmazi became famous after reciting poetry Pearl Square that includes the lines such as:  

We are the people who will kill humiliation and assassinate misery 
We are the people who will destroy the foundation of injustice 
Don't you hear their cries, don't you hear their screams 

You can see her reciting her poetry -- dedicated directly to the king -- here.

According to the Associated Press, while in detention Al Qurmazi was lashed in the face with electrical cables and forced to clean toilets with her hands. Here is a Facebook page dedicated to her case.