CAIRO - Egyptian Parliament member Hamdi Hassan demanded an immediate investigation into a report that the Education Department, in preparing for a visit by US First Lady Laura Bush to a school in Alexandria last week, replaced the administration and students of the entire school in order to present a better image to the visiting dignitary.
The MP said in his official investigation request that “there is no talk in Alexandria right now except on this forgery scandal that took place during the visit of Mrs. Bush to the school of Um-Al-Qura.” He revealed that, "The school’s entire administration and students were replaced with a different administration and students in order to perform their own show in front of Mrs. Bush."
He added that the Education Department officials, in preparing for the visit to the school funded by USAID money, “ordered the teachers and students to stay home, and prepared alternatives for them. The Department ordered the administrators and teachers of another distinguished school to be prepared and brought them to Um-Al-Qura school to perform the show.” MP Hamdi said in his letter, “that this trick was not noticed by Mrs. Laura and her intelligence bodies. But what would have been the case had she found out?”
He added, “It seems that the appearance of the school’s original administrators and students would not have been appreciated by the US First Lady, as she would have seen poor faces obviously suffering malnutrition. Thus, Egyptian officials wanted her to see, instead, an administrators and children who looked better to prove that they have benefited from the traces of the generous US aid aimed at developing schools and the education system.”________ I don't know the validity of this claim. It was in al-Hayat so it should get the benefit of the doubt. If this is the case....Ouch, the scandals just keep emerging.
U.S. involvement in the Middle East deepens every day, as the Bush administration struggles to push autocratic regimes toward democracy. Ultimately the moral responsibility to ensure that women are liberated along with men falls upon the president. But I'm hoping the first lady doesn't forget that she now has personally invited women in the Arab world to dream forbidden dreams.
If she had stayed in Cairo a few more days, and seen police allow pro-government thugs to pummel anti-Mubarak demonstrators in the streets, she might have noticed, as reporters did, that the goons singled out women for especially rough treatment. That's the challenge that the president faces -- and that I hope Laura Bush now feels she shares._______ The reason to post this is that many in Egypt's activist circles have questioned if they mismanaged the symbolism around the First Lady's visit (she departed the day before the referendum vote). Tomorrow when the demonstrators, clad in black or with white ribbons, take to Cairo's streets again we will see if Washington is watching. If more violence rules the day and tame comments follow from Washington, then we will know that Laura Bush's women's rights rhetoric is as empty as her husband's regarding supporting democracy and freedom in Egypt.
Presidential spokesman Suleiman Awad told Reuters he believed the U.S. comments and media coverage in the United States and elsewhere were "unfair and unjustified".
"When you have more than 54,000 electoral units nationwide, (and) when you have two sad, unacceptable incidents taking place in the greater Cairo area, this is not something to be exaggerated in the way some circles did."Later on, Awad said:
[The] public prosecutor Maher Abdel Wahed was investigating victims' complaints. Asked if there would be arrests, he said: "This is something to be decided by the judiciary."________ Rather than condemn what happened, the government is blaming the international media for focusing on the violence rather than the polling stations. But then, again, it is difficult to do 'damage control' with the international press when women working for that press are being groped and kicked by thugs. This is a case where the government is blaming the messenger rather than the message its security forces were ordered to send.
"Mona Makram Ebeid, Secretary-General of El Ghad, had today resigned from the party for what she described as 'Personal reasons in addition to internal division.'
We realize that these are difficult times for anyone to be in opposition in Egypt. We respect Dr. Mona's decision and wish her well."Will this be an isolated incident or will the government make a move to exploit the "internal divisions" which could lead to the party being frozen like several of its predecessors. At last count, 7 out of 19 political parties, including the Liberals (Ahrar) and Labor, are frozen.
Protesting against police brutality, Egypt will wear BLACK on the 1st of June. Tell your friends.More of this type of reaction will come, I'm sure. Update: As pointed out in the comments, this will centered around a demo at 1pm at the Journalists' Syndicate in Downtown Cairo.
A witness to the Sa`d Zaghlul confrontation told Human Rights Watch that there were two separate groups totaling about 50 Kifaya demonstrators on the sidewalk, with a cordon of about a hundred riot police. On the street facing them was a larger group wearing NDP pins: At first the NDP crowd was just content to shout and threaten the Kifaya people that if they came out of the cordon they were in for a beating. The Kifaya group stood their ground, so the thugs changed tactics. The police would let a bunch of them cross into the Kifaya group, where they would single out one person to pull out to their side, all the while beating that person. They’d repeat that. It was almost choreographed, someone would say “attack” and then say “stop.” It was brutal but it was not chaotic.Also, this passage of this incident from the Journalist Syndicate:
It was about 2 or 2:30 p.m. I was at the top of the steps of the syndicate building, to the left of the entrance. The steps were full of Kifaya people and I was on the edge of the crowd. There was a cordon of security and riot police on the street. I saw a group of NDP people come down the streets—they had Mubarak posters—and there were at least 20 riot police walking with them, looking like they were protecting them. The police at the bottom of the steps opened the cordon to let the NDP gang through to the demonstrators. The next thing I knew a gang of about 20 or 30 NDP guys came at us from the left. One of them groped and manhandled me. I tried to push him away and he shouted, “I have a lady, let her through.” This seemed to be a signal for others to attack me. They pulled my hair and ripped my shirt, touching me all over. All over. I started screaming in English. “Hey, she’s screaming in English,” they shouted. They grabbed the strap on my bag and pulled me to the ground. Then the kicking started, and more groping. They were laughing and cheering. I crawled closer to the stairs. Another NDP guy came. He pulled me up and told them to calm down. I ran down the stairs. The police at the bottom let me through to get away.Lastly Joe Stork, the Washington Director of the MENA program at HRW, had this to say in response to Condi Rice's neutral response about Egypt's electoral violence: “This kind of mealy-mouthed talk from Washington must have been the best news President Mubarak had all day. When push came to shove, as it did literally in Cairo on Wednesday, the Bush administration’s commitment to reform looked bankrupt.” _______