The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Posts tagged Activism
The Egyptian Twittersphere, 18 Months Into the Revolution

The Egyptian Twittersphere, 18 Months Into the Revolution

Lisa Goldman, for TechPresident, on where Egyptian Twitter is at:

But over the last eight months things have changed. Once prominent voices have become subdued, or gone mute. New personalities have risen to prominence. Once unified in their opposition to the Mubarak regime, the January 25 activists are now divided by public ideological spats. Nearly all the Egyptians who tweeted exclusively in English before and during the initial months of the uprising are now communicating at least part of the time in Arabic — and not the formal written language that is understood by all literate Arabic speakers, but colloquial Egyptian dialect.

In many cases, the early participants in the discourse are burnt out, turning inward and becoming absorbed in their own careers. But there are other significant causative factors at play.

For politically engaged Egyptians online, the Twitter discourse has shifted, several well-known commentators told techPresident. Once it was about reporting and participating in the revolution; now it is about discussing the revolution and debating political issues. Twitter is now hosting a vigorous debate about Egypt's future. After months of fighting the entrenched remains of a decades-old regime, on the streets and in public opinion, revolution fatigue has set in for the January 25 activists. Rather than demonstrating on the streets, they are exchanging ideas online. But the discussion does not include the majority of Egyptians who lack Internet access. This fact has not escaped those who are most intensely engaged in the discourse, even as they wonder whether their digital debates are an echo chamber or a means of effecting change.

Conclusion: the real action is on the street. 

A couple of months ago, I gave a talk at SciencesPo Paris on my experience running this site and my perception of the role of social media in the Arab uprisings. My take then, and now, is that Twitter was far more important in shaping a narrative for the outside world then shaping a narrative for the Arab world (where Facebook was much more important for the connected and al-Jazeera the major influence for most of the others). Twitter is a emotive communication medium, what many Arab tweeps did — as well as relay information — was communicate an emotional state (excitement, fear, courage, etc.) that enabled a global audience to feel like it had a front seat to events and that allowed it to bypass or supplement traditional information sources (television, newspapers, websites). It was a mobilizer of international public opinion with many tweeps acting as propagandists and cheerleaders (this was particularly evident in the more calculated efforts to use Twitter in Libya, Bahrain and now Syria) for their cause. That's why so much of it is in English.

In my talk, since I was in Paris, I echoed Jean Baudrillard's theory that "The Gulf War did not happen" — i.e. the "Arab Spring" did not happen. I mean this in the sense that the global/Western experience of the Arab Spring, often fed by Twitter soundbites that were largely recuperated by traditional media (remember how common quotes of tweets were at the time) because Twitter is, in this sense, the ultimate infotainment, because it provides so much emotional punch. It was a spectacle. Much of what was out there was a mise-en-scene of the events, with the tweep as hero. I think a lot of the "disappointment" one reads in Western commentary about the "Arab Spring" turning into an "Arab Winter" (because of violence, Islamists, etc.) is because they believed in that narrative of January-March 2011. It's their own stupid fault for believing in it, the reality was always a lot more complex — their problem was to allow themselves to be caught in the enthusiasm of those experiencing the events and casting themselves as characters in them.

In Translation: The Revolutionary Youth Coalition's final report

We're really fortunate to bring to you a long translation of an important document today — one made possible by the upstanding chaps at Industry Arabic, who provide great Arabic translation services and more. If you or your business have need of top-notch translation from Arabic into another language, please give them a try and help them keep on helping us.

The Revolutionary Youth Coalition was the most important umbrella group to emerge out of the protest movement of January 25. It continued to be the main reference and contact point for "youth" for several interlocutors in the months that followed Mubarak's overthrow, holding meetings with state representatives and often representing protestors at national conferences and elsewhere. On July 8, the Coalition announced its dissolution and published the document below —  an examination of its actions, mistakes and successes in the last sixteen months. As the writers note, such self-examination is rare in Egyptian politics, particularly as it has descended into a circus in the last few months. It makes for poignant reading, and I've added a few notes for clarification.

An Account of the Actions of the Coalition of Revolutionary Youth

From the Coalition of Revolutionary Youth Facebook page, July 8, 2012.

We believe that every experience should either continue or end according to facts on the ground and logical reasoning. And — even though it is not standard operating procedure in Egypt — we believe it is necessary that every group and/or political entity submit a transparent and clear account that outlines what the organization has done over time, be it good or bad.

Under exceptional circumstances, like that of the great Egyptian people’s Revolution, we contend that it is our duty to publish this account for the Egyptian public, for they placed their trust in the Coalition of Revolutionary Youth, as well as for those who criticized the organization. This account is also dedicated to the best of Egypt’s youth – the activists and believers in the goals and values of this revolution and similar revolutionary movements – as well as for that sector of the Egyptian elite who did what they could in service to this nation. This is for the admirable victims of this revolution who paid the greatest price and who continue to do so for the sake of this revolution; and this is also for the souls of the revolutionary martyrs who continue to fall – up to today – in anticipation of the day when this nation will achieve freedom and dignity, the day when each Egyptian will receive his demands for “Bread, Freedom, and Social Justice.”

Establishment:

The establishment [of the Coalition] was comprised of groups that coordinated with one another before the Revolution and the Coalition’s formation was announced under the name the Revolutionary Youth Coalition in [Tahrir] Square on February 1 [2011]. Its first press conference was held on February 4 with the following organizations at the time of the announcement: the Campaign for Supporting ElBaradei, the April 6 Movement, the Youth Movement for Justice and Freedom, the Youth of the Democratic Front Party, the Muslim Brotherhood Youth, in addition to the following independent individuals: Nasser Abdel Hameed, Sally Toma, and Abdel Rahman Fares. Thereafter, other groups were added, such as the Progressive Youth Union and the Campaign for Supporting Hamdeen Sabahi.

The State:

The Military Council: The Coalition of Revolutionary Youth met with a number of members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces twice. The first session took place in the final days of February, during which conversations focused on two papers the Coalition presented. These two documents had been prepared in detail with a group of nationally respected figures. The first document included [a request] for the resignation of the government of Air Marshal Ahmed Shafik, the abolishment of the Emergency Law, and the dissolution of the State Security Investigation Service; the rest of the demands were associated with democratic transformation. A second socio-economic document included a plan for a timetable for implementing special procedures concerning wages and other demands made by Egypt’s laborers, farmers, and the poor.

The second session was a joint session that brought together the Coalition and the Revolutionary Youth Union with Major General Mahmoud Hijazi. This took place in March. The discussions were haphazard. The most important point was the decision to review the two preceding documents of the previous meeting, in addition to: the discussion about breaking up the journalists’ sit-in in front of Maspero [the state television building], doubts that the virginity-test affair “had not yet been confirmed”, and other issues concerning poor and slow performance and management.

The meetings then ended entirely and definitively after the pre-dawn attack on protesters [in Tahrir Square] on April 9, 2011.

The Government of Dr. Essam Sharaf

Contact with Dr. Essam Sharaf’s government was first undertaken after Dr. Sharaf himself called the Coalition to have a meeting, in which he proposed to the Coalition the same two documents previously mentioned. After a lengthy presentation, he both emphatically welcomed [the ideas] and promised to work [with the Coalition] on implementing the contents of the two documents.

The Coalition was presented with the option of choosing a number of its members for work inside the Cabinet of Ministers as advisors to the Prime Minister in order to create a direct line of communication between him and the revolutionary forces. The Coalition rejected this entirely, confirming that it would become a political supporter of this government only if it sincerely desired to achieve the goals of the Revolution. This in turn compelled the Cabinet of Ministers to rely on other young Egyptians for this endeavor.

A number of Coalition Youth participated in the Council of National Justice, under the Cabinet of Ministers, which was responsible for trying to find radical solutions to the issue of sectarianism and discrimination that developed following [the burning of the Two Martyrs] Church in the village of Sol. The Council’s duty was to draft a legal bill on the standard role of religious practice, as well as the creation of a unit for early warning, especially concerning confessional problems and other similar instances.[1]

A number of Coalition youth also participated in the council responsible for the fund for martyrs and injured persons at a time when the idea had not yet been implemented. All of the participating youth members thereafter definitively refrained from attending the two councils after a number of sessions ended without achieving any of the desired or anticipated goals.

After it became clear to all that this government was weak and without any real power, Dr. Essam Sharaf met with some Coalition members before Friday July 8[2], after a long break at his home. They clearly and candidly demanded from him the resignation [of the government] and that people return to [Tahrir] Square. Dr. Essam Sharaf did not respond. The Coalition then announced in the Square on July 8 that Dr. Essam Sharaf’s government needed to be deposed and that a revolutionary government, endowed with plenary powers, be forcibly established by the will of the Square.

The General Intelligence Services:

The Coalition held one meeting with General Murad Muwafi and a number of members of the Intelligence Agency at the beginning of September. A majority of members attended, but the Justice and Freedom Movement[3] abstained. This is the same period in which the Intelligence Agency held a long series of meetings with a number of civil rights activists, public and political figures, as well as revolutionary movements. A number of respected and well-known public and political figures were also in attendance. On the following day, in order to maintain transparency, the Coalition announced to all media outlets that the meeting was held, as well as the details of everything that had been discussed. This was in accordance with the Coalition’s practice of declaring each of its meetings with the Military Council, as well as with the Government. (We published the draft of the two meetings with them in all newspapers and in press conferences.)

Evaluating the [Coalition’s] Relationship with the Government:

In a number of long conversations about the issue of communication, we faced much criticism representing a broad set of disapproval, ranging from the opinion that continuous and intensive communication was important and that it is wrong to interrupt communication even if there were differences, to the opinion that any and all communication would be a grave mistake. Between these two positions, there were some who believed that nothing is certain in politics and that cooperation must be pursued according to each case and situation.

Relations with the Revolutionary Forces

The Coalition appeared as though it were an umbrella coordinating body representing some of the youth organizations that helped the Egyptians in their grand revolution. On February 1, the establishment of the Coalition was announced, but due to some latent fear of attempts to sabotage the new organization, the Coalition closed down shop. This was an unjustifiable and serious mistake. Attempts at expansion undertaken by the Justice and Freedom Movement and independents actors from the Coalition were unsuccessful, though some small organizations were added to it. We believe that this had soured contact with other respectable revolutionary groups. Afterwards, attempts at rectifying this mistake were undertaken for the sake of the general welfare, through this dispatch of a representative of the Coalition to the Alliance of Movements and Parties.

The People’s Assembly Elections

Differences in opinion arose over elections. Specifically, some from within the Coalition called for boycotting the elections, which resulted in some of the youth abstaining from running the elections and others from participating at all. In general, participation in parliamentary elections was not ideal, insofar as the Coalition at the time was not able to enter the elections as a group. Some of its members preferred to enter the elections on the Egyptian Bloc list, and some others on the Revolution Continues Alliance list; some entered the elections running for independent seats. This was not conducive to creating a situation whereby everyone that might have been nominated for the list of a single electoral alliance could have run in the elections.

Presidential Elections

Since the beginning, there has been a group from within the Coalition – the Egyptian Current Party[4] – that has supported Dr. Aboul Fotouh and has also greatly helped his campaign at the national level. There is another group that did not decide to support any particular candidate, but it did try to help achieve setting up a presidential team that grouped together all the revolutionary candidates. This was undertaken with the help of a number of public figures. Also, a number of other initiatives cooperated, like the Council of 100. But neither these attempts nor the sessions held with the five [major] candidates – both directly and indirectly – were helpful in achieving the desired goal.

Therefore, the situation has continued in this manner. As a result some of the members have chosen to boycott the elections, whereas some other members have continued to support Dr. Aboul Fotouh. The rest have declared their support for Hamdeen Sabahi. Of course, this came at a later time, after which the idea of a presidential project had failed. As for the second round, the majority of Coalition members have decided to boycott the elections, but members of the Egyptian Current Party and the April 6 Movement have decided to support Dr. Mohamed Mursi.

The Intelligence Services and the Million Man Protests

  • The Coalition participated in the popular diplomacy initiative, which was involved in the Nile River Waters case. A number of the Coalition’s members traveled as part of a delegation of public figures to Uganda and Ethiopia.
  • The Coalition participated in the call for some of the important Million Man Protests, starting with the Million Man Protest calling for politically purging the government immediately after the Revolution.
  • Some members of the Coalition participated in some of the campaigns, like the Kazeboon (Liars) Campaign against SCAF.

Letters:

A Letter to the Revolutionary Youth

We are aware that we have erred, that we have at times appeared to be monopolizing dialogue in the name of the Revolution. And we are aware that there are many among you who are better than us in both word and deed, and that there are many of you more suited to contributing to this great Revolution. And we are aware that there are many among you who have paid a price far greater than we have paid. But it is fate that has deemed us to be at this place at this time. We are also aware of the fact that you all hold many reservations concerning some of our practices and our meetings. God knows that in our appearance, in our dialogue, and in the meetings we have held, we have only ever worked for the sake of the Revolution and never for anything else.

A Letter to the Egyptian People

We only hope that you will graciously accept what we have done and forgive us for not fulfilling your expectations and wishes. We hope that you will at least acknowledge the pressure and the confusion we have faced, for this experience has not been easy and the complications involved are beyond most people’s imaginations. There is a whole universe of issues that lies beneath the surface. But every moment we see you in the street and see what you achieved in the parliamentary and presidential elections, this has all served to confirm our faith in the idea of the Revolution. Change is the greatest common variable now and it follows that the responsibility falls on all our shoulders to make this change real.

A Letter to Mr. Hamdeen Sabahi, Dr. Aboul Fotouh and Dr. ElBaradei:

We were not able to approach this [next] step until you all announced that there is a radiant energy emanating from within the formation of a broad national front that can guide the opposition in Egypt over the coming period. We believe that this is perhaps the best and most appropriate thing for the period to come. Everyone should be able to participate in this front; it should be truly representative and reflect the national interests, and it should be a way for accomplishing the goals of the Revolution; similarly it should serve as a reference upon which the Egyptian people can depend.

Finally, since a number of months the Coalition has not played a positive role that has pleased its members or the population at large. But only in name has dialogue continued in the media. We consider this to be an error. Similarly, we do not want to preserve the organization superficially only so that the name itself gains some gravity. Respect for the Revolution requires self-evaluation and criticism. In this context, we have decided to dissolve the Revolutionary Youth Coalition, on the condition that its constituent groups continue to practice their natural role practically. In another context, it could be appropriate for each group to join a broad national front when it is established – God willing – at which time it is also natural that some Coalition members would join as well.

Observations:

  1. Regarding Timing: The decision had been made more than once several months ago to undertake this step, but each time the quick succession of events in Egypt prevented it from happening; it appeared as though the surprises that occurred during the transition period would not end. The idea of announcing to the media the formation of a broad national front after the presidential elections helped.

  2. Regarding the Revolution’s Path: The decision to dissolve the Coalition suggests that the Revolution’s path necessitates different and myriad means, as well as different frameworks, in order to realize its goals in the future. This is especially true if one takes recent developments into consideration.

  3. Regarding Joint Action: The Coalition was composed of organizations that were completely ideologically different, ranging from the far right to the far left. The Coalition was successful many times at reaching a consensus with major participants and in solving disputes democratically. But there were a number of changes that necessitated a new alignment, whereby it could be possible to reach a decision under a different framework. This is due to the fact that the experiment of joint and group action was successful in achieving broad common goals relatively often.


  1. None of this has happened.  ↩

  2. The “Friday of Determination”, which was the largest protest in Tahrir Square since February 11.  ↩

  3. Youth movement of the Muslim Brotherhood.  ↩

  4. Muslim Brotherhood dissidents.  ↩

Culture and activism

I have a new piece up at the Middle East Research and Information Project about cultural production and cultural activism in Egypt. There is so much different kinds of cultural activity going on these days that it's hard to categorize, and there are many more artists and projects I could have referenced.  I've tried to make some general observations:

It is not easy to combine aesthetic and political ambitions in order to creatively address the revolutionary moment. For one thing, many artists and writers have continued to be active in the protest movement itself -- they have little detachment from the events of the last year, and their energies are depleted by their participation in protests, organizing meetings and advocacy campaigns. In their political work, they can face significant personal risk, like their fellow citizen-activists. In late December, at a press conference convened to deny army responsibility for the horrific violence visited by soldiers upon protesters near the cabinet, a blustering member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces suddenly denounced Muhammad Hashim -- head of the independent and widely esteemed publishing house Merit -- as one of several conspirators being investigated for instigating attacks upon the army. (His crime, it appears, consisted of supplying protesters with blankets and helmets.)

For another, it is too early for artists or anyone else to map the contours of the current juncture with any clarity. In late January 2011, there was a rupture in the reality Egyptians had known for so long. Many artists and novelists, returning home elated if exhausted from weeks of protesting, simply scrapped whatever work they were doing. Since then, the rapid pace of events -- or, many would say, of reversals -- has rendered it nearly impossible to fix a vantage point from which to consider developments. The Egyptian revolution is not yet a subject of art; it is an ongoing experience.

And I only just saw the trailer for this cool-looking documentary, "The Noise of Cairo," -- on artists and their relationship to the revolution. 

The Noise of Cairo (Trailer) from scenesfrom on Vimeo.

Egypt-US activists' pledge of solidarity

American and Egyptian activists are getting together ahead of planned protests next week to issue a joint statement of solidarity. I am reproducing the statement below for those interested.


EGYPTIAN ACTIVISTS, WASHINGTON DC PROTEST ORGANIZERS PLEDGE STATEMENT OF SOLIDARITY, PLAN SIMULTANEOUS PROTESTS ON OCTOBER 6 AND 7


***For immediate release. Arabic translation below***
September 23, 2011

**For more information, visit http://www.october2011.org**

Noted Egyptian activists such as Asmaa Mahfouz and Ahmed Maher and notable American social justice advocates such as Noam Chomsky and Chris Hedges have joined forces to pledge support for the upcoming October 2011 protest and nonviolent occupation of Washington DC’s Freedom Plaza beginning October 6. On Wednesday, leading advocates for both protest movements affirmed mutual support of each other’s common goals, and announced plans for a solidarity protest in Tahrir Square on Friday, October 7.

“While our nations face many different challenges and remain thousands of miles and cultures apart, we find that we share many of the same concerns within our respective countries,” protest organizers said in a prepared statement. “Both the people of the United States and Egypt require real democracy so that the views of the people are represented.”

The October2011.org protests, described on their website (www.october2011.org) as a movement supporting “human needs, not corporate greed,” intends to consolidate leading progressive activists in the United States into a viable umbrella coalition that can work together towards principles of “peace [as well as] social, economic, and environmental justice” that are supported by “super-majorities of Americans” yet get compromised due to political and economic pressures. 

“Inspired by the courageous, nonviolent uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Greece, Spain, and elsewhere, people in the United States have come together to form the October 2011 Movement,” said the organizers on their website. On the heels of recent ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests - which a number of October2011.org members participated in - the Freedom Plaza protesters hope in particular to draw attention to recent Congressional budget talks, which to them emphasized wasteful military-industrial spending and corporate handouts over social programs or more sensible foreign policy positions. 

In their solidarity statement, both October2011.org leaders and Egyptian activists indicated the aspects of their struggles which require mutual and transnational coordination among protesters in order to achieve reform. “Even USAID funds to Egypt have strings attached,” the organizers write, “as 85% of USAID Egyptian funds since January 25 went to US organizations, with only a small fraction going to civil society organizations in Egypt.” Organizers are calling for concurrent Tahrir Square protests on the same weekend as the onset of the October2011.org occupation, as part of an binational affirmation that the United States needs to “stop leveraging its economic power to bribe other countries, [or] to force them to follow US wishes.” Given the influence that the United States will undoubtedly wield in future Egyptian aid and development efforts in the next few months, and given the potential influence that it might try to wield in electoral politics, organizers said that the need for transnational partnerships against hegemony were especially necessary at this time. 

More information can be found at the October2011.org website, including FAQs, schedules, YouTube manifestos from multipleOctober2011.org participants, and Facebook and Twitter links. Protests are being organized in both DC and Tahrir Square beginning October 6-7.


Preliminary Signatories:

Chris Hedges - former Middle East Bureau Chief for The New York Times
Noam Chomsky - author; Professor Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Kevin Zeese – co-director of ItsOurEconomy.us
Asmaa Mahfouz – Egyptian activist, blogger, and participant in 2011 Egyptian Revolution
Ahmed Maher - member and co-founder, April 6 Youth Movement
Dr. Yahia Mahran - Egyptian Lawyers Union
Ehsan Yahia - Egyptian Nurses Union
Waleed Rashed - member and co-founder, April 6 Youth movement
Alaa Abd el Fattah – Egyptian blogger, software developer, activist
Ruby Amatulla - Executive Director, Muslims for Peace, Justice, and Progress
Amin Mahmoud – Egyptian Association for Change-USA
Abdallah Helmy - co-founder, Revolution Youth Union
Margaret Flowers, M.D. – Congressional Fellow, Physicians for a National Health Program
Mokhtar Kamel - Alliance of Egyptian Americans
Ashley Anderson - Director, Peaceful Uprising
Medea Benjamin - Cofounder, CODEPINK and Global Exchange
Mike Ferner - Interim Director, Veterans for Peace
Justice Arthur Brennan – retired Superior Court NH; former deputy director, Iraq Reconstruction Management Office; director, Office of Accountability and Transparency.
Carol  E. Gay - President NJ Industrial Union Council
Afra Jalabi – democracy activist, Collective for Syria in Montreal
Iman Mosharafa, Egyptian American activist, City University of New York instructor
Matthew Cappiello – student; political activist, Muslims for Peace, Justice, and Progress
Tarak Kauff – Veterans for Peace Action Network
Samantha Williams – Feminism without Borders; student, University of Maryland.
Rev. Dr. Bruce Wright – board member, Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign
MORE FORTHCOMING
*All descriptors for identification purposes only.


A Statement of Solidarity between Egyptian Revolutionaries and October2011.org Participants

While our nations face many different challenges and remain thousands of miles and cultures apart, we find that we share many of the same concerns within our respective countries. As we recognize that our destinies are intertwined, we wish to highlight the similarities and goals we share in common. We suspect that others from around the world would also join us in supporting this statement. 

1. Both the people of the United States and Egypt require real democracy so that the views of the people are represented.

Currently, desires for free and fair elections have not been achieved according to the level of popular demand in both nations.

Under the regime of Hosni Mubarak, this falsehood was evident to the world and to Egyptians, even though Mubarak and the US government labeled Egypt a democracy. Ballots were consistently rigged, opposition candidates were routinely jailed, and parliamentary candidates were happily bribed. Many regarded Hosni Mubarak as a manifestation of the arrogant Pharaoh himself. While his demise brought great relief and celebration to all Egyptians, many are worried about Egypt’s current transitional process towards parliamentary elections. Reformist political parties have not had adequate time to prepare or fundraise for elections. Requests from nonpartisan international monitors to oversee upcoming elections have been summarily denied. In addition, many are skeptical about the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces’ agenda, as the transition to a civil, non-military government is occurring much more slowly than many Egyptians would desire.

The United States also faces similar challenges to democracy from special interests. While some say that the United States is the greatest democracy on Earth, American elections are actually dominated by the wealth of economic elites and concentrated corporate power, as money manipulates votes through concentrated corporate media. Presented with the choice of corporate- approved candidates, only half of the American public bothers to register to vote, and only approximately half of registered voters bother to vote. In essence, US democracy has become a manipulative system in which voters choose from corporate-approved candidates within a rigged election system.

The people of both movements call for real democracy in which all eligible voters are automatically registered, in which barriers are removed for candidates to run for office, in which debates are open to all ballot-approved candidates, in which elections maintain public funding in order to check the tide of private handouts, in which voting systems are transparent with public observation and participation in all aspects of the counting of the vote, and in which media organizations provide sufficient free airtime for candidates to present their views to the public.  Elections should be held on holidays to make voting easier without conflicting with the demands of work.


2. End US foreign policy positions which undermine the Egyptian democracy movement as well as the character and reputation of the United States.

The people of both movements call for an end to hegemonic foreign policy positions among US policymakers. It is time for the United States to join the global community of nations as a partner rather than a predator, as a collaborative multi-lateralist rather than as an American exceptionalist.

The United States has the largest empire in global history, with more than 1,100 military bases and outposts around the world. America has supported military rule in Egypt, and attempted to put in power Mubarak’s carefully groomed heir Omar Suleiman despite his record of participation in torture and other crimes. It now supports the military government much more extensively than other infrastructural components of the nation, spending approximately $1.2 billion per year. Even USAID funds to Egypt have strings attached, as 85% of USAID Egyptian funds since January 25 went to US organizations, with only a small fraction going to civil society organizations in Egypt.

US diplomatic and developmental policies in nations such as Egypt, as well as military actions in nations such as in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are ventures of destruction, death and chaos for the people of those countries; and undermine the rule of law and democracy around the world.  These actions have resulted in the deaths of millions of people, the creation of millions of refugees and internally displaced persons, and the internment of thousands of prisoners who are often tortured and held without charges.  Rather than collaboratively assisting in the development of authentic democracy around the world, the United States has too often hindered democratic efforts in many regions of the world for many decades.

The United States needs to work more collaboratively with nations such as Egypt and to stop leveraging its economic power to bribe other countries, to force them to follow US wishes, or to threaten them with unwarranted military action. In order to permit accountability for its actions, the United States should also join the International Criminal Court.

3. Both countries need to end the wealth divide in order to provide for the necessities of the people and to create new sustainable economies for the 21st Century.

Both Egypt and the United States suffer from a broad wealth divides that has lead to widespread poverty and economic stagnation.  In each country, it is not a lack of wealth but the distribution of wealth that creates widespread suffering. The economic power of the wealthiest sectors of both countries engender corruption through bribery, campaign donations, and a wide range of forms of payment for special privileges. When policies begin to eliminate the wealth divide, we will take the first steps towards ending crony-dominated economies held in place by corrupt oligarchic governments in both nations.

One of the most important steps towards reducing economic injustices involves provision of adequate human services. Quality health care should be available to all people in both countries, as is mandated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. High-quality education from pre-school through graduate school should remain free, equitable, and available to all.  Basic needs for income should be met by ensuring robust employment opportunities in both countries, as well as the right to affordable housing, food, health care, transportation, and retirement security.   Horrible statistics such as the existence of three million street children in Egypt and over 44 million poverty stricken people in the United States should remain unacceptable across the board. In addition, wealth needs to promote ecologically sustainable economies that utilize clean energy at a viable level. Both Cairo and Los Angeles residents understand the horrors of pollution! If we want 21st century economies, we need to work from a 21stcentury perspective regarding the barriers to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness around the world.

4. Both countries need to respect human rights, this involves an end to torture, a method for systematic documentation of human rights abuses, and mechanisms to ensure accountability for those responsible for human rights abuses.

Both Egypt and the United States suffer from decades of human rights abuses, which include suppression of free speech, illegal detention, secret rendition, and torture on the part of both nations. Even in the post-Mubarak era, free speech protests in Tahrir Square have been repeatedly shut down, freedom of the press has been repeatedly muzzled, and bloggers and activists have been repeatedly detained, tried, and sentenced to prison for mere infractions such as criticism of the military on blogs. (And that’s just the post-Mubarak era.)

Compare this with the United States, where rates of imprisonment are higher than those in any other nation, especially for minorities and those of lower socioeconomic status. Prison conditions are often inhumane in both nations and increasingly privatized in the United States, with few resources dedicated to rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

Human rights should be respected according to the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A full documentation of human rights violations should occur in both countries so that these practices are ended, and so that those responsible are held accountable regardless of the demands or interests of the current individuals in power. As examples of mechanisms to work towards achievement of these goals, the United States should join the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and the Egyptian military should end trials of civilians before military courts.





بيان للتضامن بين الثوار المصريين و حركة أكتوبر 2011

بينما دولنا تواجه تحديات عديدة ومختلفة ، و بالرغم من بعد آلاف الأميال و تباين الثقافات ، نجد أننا نتقاسم الكثير من نفس المخاوف داخل بلداننا. ونحن ندرك أن مصائرنا متشابكة ، نود أن نسلط الضوء على أوجه التشابه والأهداف المشتركة . راجين أن آخرين من مختلف أنحاء العالم سينضمون لنا أيضا في دعم هذا البيان.

1. كلا من الشعب المصري و الأمريكي  يتطلب الديمقراطية الحقيقية ، وذلك بحيث يتم تمثيل آراء الشعب.

إجراء انتخابات حرة ونزيهة تحقق وفقا لمستوى الطلب الشعبي  لم تتحقق بعد في كلا البلدين.

في ظل نظام الرئيس المخلوع حسني مبارك ، وضحت الديمقراطية المزيفة على العالم والمصريين ، على الرغم من مبارك والحكومة الأميركية المسمى مصر الديمقراطية. زورت البطاقات باستمرار ، ومرشحي المعارضة وسجن بشكل روتيني ، وكانت رشوة بسعادة المرشحين لعضوية البرلمان. اعتبر العديد من حسني مبارك باعتباره مظهرا من مظاهر الغطرسة فرعون نفسه. في حين رحيلة جلب ارتياح كبير واحتفال لجميع المصريين ، يشعر الكثيرون بقلق حول العملية الانتقالية الحالية في مصرو  نحو الانتخابات البرلمانية. الأحزاب السياسية الاصلاحية لم يتح لها الوقت الكافي لإعداد أو جمع التبرعات للانتخابات ، وتطلب من المراقبين الدوليين غير حزبية للاشراف على الانتخابات المقبلة. بالإضافة إلى ذلك ، العديد من يشككون في جدول أعمال المجلس الأعلى للقوات المسلحة ، كما أن التحول إلى حكومة مدنية غير عسكرية ، ويحدث ببطء أكثر بكثير من كثير من رغبة المصريين.

الولايات المتحدة تواجه تحديات مماثلة أيضا إلى الديمقراطية من المصالح الخاصة. في حين يقول البعض ان الولايات المتحدة هي أكبر ديمقراطية على وجه الأرض ، ويهيمن على الانتخابات الأمريكية في الواقع ثروة من قبل النخب الاقتصادية والشركات تتركز السلطة ، والمال بالتلاعب الأصوات عبر وسائل الإعلام تركز الشركات. لجنة المناظرات الرئاسية ، وهي شركة خاصة التي يسيطر عليها الحزبان الكبيران ومصالح الشركات ، ويمنع المرشحين لجهة خارجية ومستقلة عن مناقشة القضايا المطروحة على الرأي العام الأميركي. قدمت مع اختيار مرشحين اثنين فقط من الشركات المعتمدة ، سوى نصف الشعب الأمريكي يزعج لتسجيل أسمائهم للتصويت ، وفقط ما يقرب من نصف عدد الناخبين المسجلين عناء التصويت. في الجوهر ، أصبحت الولايات المتحدة الديمقراطية نظام الاستغلالية التي يختار الناخبون المرشحين من الشركات وافق اثنان في إطار نظام الانتخابات المزورة.

الشعبين على حد سواء الحركات المطالبة بالديمقراطية الحقيقية التي تسجل تلقائيا جميع الناخبين المؤهلين ، حيث تتم إزالة الحواجز للمرشحين لشغل المناصب العامة ، والتي هي مناقشات مفتوحة لجميع المرشحين الاقتراع التي وافق عليها ، في الانتخابات التي حفاظ على الأموال العامة من أجل للتحقق من المد والجزر من النشرات الخاصة ، الذي نظم التصويت وشفافة مع الملاحظة العامة والمشاركة في جميع جوانب عملية فرز الأصوات ، والمؤسسات الإعلامية التي توفر البث حرة كافية للمرشحين لعرض وجهات نظرهم إلى الرأي العام. ينبغي أن تعقد الانتخابات في أيام العطل لجعل التصويت أسهل ، دون أن يتعارض مع متطلبات العمل.

2. وضع نهاية للسياسة الخارجية الأميركية التي تقلل من شأن الحركات الديمقراطية المصرية وكذلك شخصية وسمعة الولايات المتحدة.
يجب على الناس من مختلف الحركات الدعوة لوضع حد لهيمنة مواقف السياسة الخارجية بين صناع القرار في الولايات المتحدة. حان الوقت للولايات المتحدة للانضمام الى المجتمع العالمي للدول باعتبارها شريكا بدلا من المهيمن المفترس، باعتبارها شريك بالتعددية التعاونية بدلا من أن تكونالإستثناءات الأميركية.

الولايات المتحدة لديها أكبر امبراطورية في التاريخ العالمي ، مع أكثر من 1100 القواعد العسكرية والبؤر الاستيطانية في جميع أنحاء العالم. وقد دعمت أمريكا الحكم العسكري في مصر ، وحاول أن يضع في السلطة مبارك اعدادهم بعناية ريث عمر سليمان على الرغم من سجله من المشاركة في التعذيب وجرائم اخرى. الآن انها تدعم الحكومة العسكرية على نطاق واسع أكثر بكثير من عناصر البنية التحتية الأخرى للأمة ، لتصل قيمتها إلى حوالي 1.2 مليار دولار سنويا. أموال المعونة الأمريكية لمصر حتى يكون قيود حيث أن 85 ٪ من أموال المعونة الأمريكية المصرية منذ 25 يناير ذهب إلى المنظمات الأمريكية ، مع مجرد جزء صغير ذاهب الى منظمات المجتمع المدني في مصر.

سياسات الولايات المتحدة الدبلوماسية والتنموية في دول مثل مصر ، فضلا عن العمليات العسكرية في دول مثل العراق وأفغانستان وباكستان هي مشاريع الموت والدمار والفوضى لشعوب تلك البلدان ؛
ويقوض سيادة القانون والديمقراطية في جميع أنحاء العالم. هذه الإجراءات أدت إلى وفاة الملايين من الناس ، وخلق الملايين من اللاجئين والمشردين داخليا ، واعتقال الآلاف من السجناء الذين غالبا ما يتعرضون للتعذيب واحتجز دون توجيه اتهامات لهم. بدلا من مساعدة تعاوني في تطوير الديمقراطية الأصيلة في جميع أنحاء العالم ، والولايات المتحدة كثيرا ما عرقلت الجهود الديمقراطية في مناطق كثيرة من العالم على مدى عقود عديدة.

الولايات المتحدة بحاجة إلى المزيد من العمل بصورة تعاونية مع دول مثل مصر والتوقف عن الاستفادة من قوتها الاقتصادية لرشوة البلدان الأخرى ، لإجبارهم على اتباع رغبات الولايات المتحدة ، أو لتهديدهم بعمل عسكري لا مبرر له. من أجل السماح للمساءلة عن أفعالها ، يجب على الولايات المتحدة أيضا الانضمام إلى المحكمة الجنائية الدولية.

3. كلا البلدين بحاجة الى وضع حد لتقسيم الثروة من أجل توفير الضروريات للشعب ، وتهيئة اقتصادات مستدامة جديدة للقرن 21.

كل من مصر والولايات المتحدة يعانون من ثروة واسعة الانقسامات التي تؤدي الى انتشار الفقر والضائقة الاقتصادية. في كل بلد ، فإنه ليس من نقص في الثروة ولكن توزيع الثروة التي تخلق معاناة واسعة النطاق. القوة الاقتصادية من أغنى قطاعات كل من البلدان تولد الفساد عن طريق الرشوة ، والهبات الحملة ، ومجموعة واسعة من أشكال الدفع للحصول على امتيازات خاصة. عندما تبدأ السياسات لتخفيف الفجوة في الثروة ، وسوف نتخذ الخطوات الأولى نحو إنهاء المحسوبية التي يهيمن عليها الاقتصادات التي عقدت في المكان من قبل حكومات القلة الفاسدة في كلا البلدين.

واحدة من أهم الخطوات نحو الحد من الظلم الاقتصادي ينطوي على تقديم الخدمات الإنسانية المناسبة. وينبغي أن جودة الرعاية الصحية ستكون متاحة لجميع الناس في كلا البلدين ، كما هو بتكليف من الإعلان العالمي لحقوق الإنسان. وينبغي تعليم عالي الجودة من مرحلة ما قبل المدرسة من خلال كلية الدراسات العليا تظل حرة ومنصفة ، ومتاحة للجميع. وينبغي تلبية الاحتياجات الأساسية للدخل عن طريق ضمان فرص عمل قوية في كلا البلدين ، فضلا عن الحق في السكن بأسعار معقولة ، والغذاء ، والرعاية الصحية والنقل والتقاعد والضمان. وينبغي أن الإحصاءات مروعة مثل وجود أطفال الشوارع ثلاثة ملايين في مصر والناس من الفقر أكثر من 44000000 المنكوبة في الولايات المتحدة ما زالت غير مقبولة في جميع المجالات. بالإضافة إلى ذلك ، يجب أن تولد الثروة اقتصادات مستدامة بيئيا التي تستخدم الطاقة النظيفة على مستوى قابلة للحياة. كل من القاهرة وسكان لوس انجليس فهم أهوال التلوث! اذا كنا نريد اقتصادا القرن 21 ، ونحن بحاجة للعمل من منظور القرن 21 بشأن الحواجز في الحياة والحرية والسعي لتحقيق السعادة في جميع أنحاء العالم.

4. كلا البلدين بحاجة إلى احترام حقوق الإنسان ، وهذا يتضمن وضع حد للتعذيب ، وهو أسلوب منهجي لتوثيق انتهاكات حقوق الإنسان ، وآليات لضمان مساءلة المسؤولين عن انتهاكات حقوق الإنسان.

كل من مصر والولايات المتحدة تعاني من عقود من انتهاكات حقوق الإنسان ، والتي تشمل قمع حرية التعبير ، والاحتجاز غير القانوني والترحيل السري ، والتعذيب من جانب كلا البلدين. حتى في عصر ما بعد مبارك ، تم احتجاجات حرية التعبير في ميدان التحرير أغلقت مرارا وتكرارا إلى أسفل ، وقد حرية الصحافة مكممة مرارا وتكرارا ، ولقد تم اعتقال المدونين والنشطاء مرارا وتكرارا ، حاولت ، وحكم عليه بالسجن لارتكاب مخالفات مثل مجرد الانتقاد من العسكريين على بلوق. (وهذا فقط في عصر ما بعد مبارك.) قارن هذا مع الولايات المتحدة ، حيث معدلات السجن هي أعلى من تلك الموجودة في أي دولة أخرى ، وخاصة بالنسبة للأقليات ، وتلك حالة من انخفاض الاجتماعية والاقتصادية. وغالبا ما تكون ظروف السجن غير الإنسانية في كلا البلدين وخصخصتها على نحو متزايد في الولايات المتحدة ، مع القليل من الموارد المخصصة لإعادة التأهيل وإعادة دمجهم في المجتمع.

وينبغي احترام حقوق الإنسان وفقا لمواد الإعلان العالمي لحقوق الإنسان. وينبغي أن يكون التوثيق الكامل لانتهاكات حقوق الإنسان تحدث في كلا البلدين بحيث يتم إنهاء هذه الممارسات ، وبحيث يتم محاسبة المسؤولين عنها بغض النظر عن مطالب أو مصالح الأفراد الحالية في السلطة.
كأمثلة على آليات للعمل من أجل تحقيق هذه الأهداف ، ينبغي على الولايات المتحدة الانضمام إلى المحكمة الأمريكية لحقوق الإنسان ، والجيش المصري يجب أن ينههي محاكمة المدنيين أمام محاكم عسكرية.


Preliminary Signatories:

Chris Hedges - former Middle East Bureau Chief for The New York Times
Noam Chomsky - author; Professor Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Kevin Zeese – co-director of ItsOurEconomy.us
Asmaa Mahfouz – Egyptian activist, blogger, and participant in 2011 Egyptian Revolution
Ahmed Maher - member and co-founder, April 6 Youth Movement
Dr. Yahia Mahran - Egyptian Lawyers Union
Ehsan Yahia - Egyptian Nurses Union
Waleed Rashed - member and co-founder, April 6 Youth movement
Alaa Abd el Fattah – Egyptian blogger, software developer, activist
Ruby Amatulla - Executive Director, Muslims for Peace, Justice, and Progress
Amin Mahmoud – Egyptian Association for Change-USA
Abdallah Helmy - co-founder, Revolution Youth Union
Margaret Flowers, M.D. – Congressional Fellow, Physicians for a National Health Program
Mokhtar Kamel - Alliance of Egyptian Americans
Ashley Anderson - Director, Peaceful Uprising
Medea Benjamin - Cofounder, CODEPINK and Global Exchange
Mike Ferner - Interim Director, Veterans for Peace
Justice Arthur Brennan – retired Superior Court NH; former deputy director, Iraq Reconstruction Management Office; director, Office of Accountability and Transparency.
Carol  E. Gay - President NJ Industrial Union Council
Afra Jalabi – democracy activist, Collective for Syria in Montreal
Iman Mosharafa, Egyptian American activist, City University of New York instructor
Matthew Cappiello – student; political activist, Muslims for Peace, Justice, and Progress
Tarak Kauff – Veterans for Peace Action Network
Samantha Williams – Feminism without Borders; student, University of Maryland.
Rev. Dr. Bruce Wright – board member, Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign
MORE FORTHCOMING
*All descriptors for identification purposes only.

Amer Group and the threat to Fayoum

Fayoum seen from the desert

Environmentalists currently represent a small subsection of activists in Egypt, but like everybody else they've received a boost from the revolution, as well as more problems to deal with. The former comes in the sense that people are generally more willing to pay attention to the kind of political, economic, ecological and community problems environmentalism attempt to deal with — everyone is more empowered and has a great sense of community belonging. Yet, at the same time, the partial collapse of the state has led to many abuses (most notably illegal construction) and many people prioritize security or party politics ahead of environmentalism. Many are trying to bring attention to this issue oin political gatherings, on Twitter and blogs, and elsewhere.

Hopefully they'll be able to achieve more than they ever could have under Mubarak. This could be the case of Nature Conservation Egypt, a NGO that is currently focusing on plans for the Amer Group, a major developer, to build a resort on Lake Fayoum, an area of outstanding natural beauty that is a major waypoint for bird migration between Africa and Europe. It's also geologically very rich, with the desert plateau behind the lake full of fossils. The Amer Group has been in the news lately as part of the investigation into corrupt land deals under Mubarak — it has already returned some of the land it has acquired. But what it threatens to do to Fayoum's desert shore may be worse than what it has already done to the North Coast with its gaudy resorts:

The Amer Group, the Egyptian real estate developer responsible for Porto Marina and Porto Sokhna, massive tourism developments along Egypt’s North and Ain Sokhna coasts, plans to build “Porto Fayoum” on 650 acres in the Lake Qarun Protected area near Fayoum Oasis.

Former President Hosni Mubarak’s government sold the Amer Group this land for only $28,000 ($.05 per square meter), according to Egypt’s American Chamber of Commerce. This is the first development of such huge proportions to be allowed in an Egyptian protected area.

This and other tourism developments planned for a 10-kilometer stretch of coastal land along the northern part of Lake Qarun will undoubtedly wreak untold damage to this pristine, scenic desert area, known as Gebel Qatrani. This area contains one of the world’s most complete fossil records of terrestrial primates and marshland mammals and remains critical to our understanding of mammalian–and human–evolution.

Read more about it here, where you can listen to a podcast featuring NCE activists.

Facebook's role in Egypt's #jan25 uprising

Facebook was more involved in ensuring protection for the Facebook groups organizing the January 25 and subsequent protests than is known, NewsBeast says:

Email records obtained by Newsweek, conversations with NGO executives who work with Facebook to protect activist pages, and interviews with administrators of the We Are All Khaled Said page reveal the social media juggernaut’s awkward balancing act. They show a company struggling to address the revolutionary responsibilities thrust upon it—and playing a more involved role than it might like to admit.

On the night of January 25, Richard Allan, Facebook’s director of policy for Europe, responded to the worried administrator. “We have put all the key pages into special protection,” he wrote in an email. A team, he said, “is monitoring activity from Egypt now on a 24/7 basis.”

It's an interesting story involving coordination by Facebook executives, Egyptian activists, and Washington-based democracy advocates who push pressing issues onto the executives.

More on what Tunisia means for Egypt
Reader Amjad asked (several times) in a comment:

Please allow for a slight detraction from the ongoing events in Tunisia, this still is very relevant but with an eye out to the future, near or far.

As most people here have observed the news coverage on all news channels very quickly turned to Egypt, and for reasons I'm sure we are all well aware of. I'd like to ask Arabist permission to open up some debate on how to manage such an event, should it occur in Egypt and in particular Cairo.

Change will one day happen, and laying out strategies to cope/manage the consequences are as attested in Tunisia pretty important.

Cairo alone is surrounded by at least 72 slums housing millions, no where in Cairo or the surrounding new cities are safe as all of them have mini slums or pockets of social housing, ready to take out their frustrations on anyone in sight, an epidemic of drug use in all classes and a worrying rise in armed/gun crime and acquisition of. make for the disastrous combination of High & Armed.

Tunis also shows us that security forces themselves took part in the looting, needless to say looking around anywhere in Cairo and the you have the Amin Shurta on the take for traffic offenses and letting a street seller do their business. they also happen to have a weapon.

What strategies on the popular/citizen front can be deployed and thought of in such an event, how can all groups be bought on side for understanding the consequences.

It wouldn't surprise me if we see much more of the old NDP guard on show, they always claimed the had the people eating from their hands and that would worry the New guard we know about as they have no credibility on the street.

I'm sure the ruling elite in their own security minded way are developing their own strategies, mainly a way out with their wealth intact, but they could learn a lot, but making some brave moves now. Abolish emergency laws? establish law and order for all? etc... the ruling elite will have most to loose, they own everything and everything will burn.

Learn from the Ahmed Rushdi during his short tenure as Interior minister, probably too late for him to come back but hopefully he has many disciples out there, and nothing can be more insulting for the president than having an Israeli news paper heading "Plane Ready", read into it what you want, I'm sure they would love to offer hospitality.

Let's think up strategies.

I'm neither a political activist nor Egyptian, so I'm not sure it is my place to take part in this debate. My own experience is that elite Egyptians tend to think in terms of getaway plans, because they are either deeply in bed with the regime or because they expect an uprising to become a class war. Social inequalities have been deep in Egypt for a long time, perhaps forever. I actually don't think, like many people, that they have particularly increased in recent years — the picture is more complicated than that. You've had further pauperization of the poorest and, at the same time, modest middle class growth. But expectations have changed dramatically as Egypt, since the 1990s, has turned into a consumer society.

There has been a dramatic state failure to maintain basic health services and deliver good education. This is perhaps Egypt's biggest failure. And as in all Arab countries, autocratic political systems have de-intermediated citizens from their rulers. What I mean by this is that the channels to relay popular grievances to governments have been deeply eroded by money and power. This is dangerous, because in the end it blindsides the regimes to the popular mood, and means there are people at the local level who have the moral authority to calm the situation should there be an outburst of anger.

Regarding the old vs. new guard NDP battles Amjad mentions, this is where I see one of the main threats coming from: manipulation and instrumentalization of public opinion by either side. It's what happened in January 1951 during the Cairo fire, when agents provocateurs instigated riots against foreign-owned shops in Downtown Cairo.

On that note, I'll let others come up with strategies and answer Amjad's request.

Links for Jan.05.10
akhbare-rooz (iranian political Bulletin) | List of organizations considered "subversive" by Iranian ministry of inteligence [in Farsi].
The Daily Star - The Gaza scorecard, one year later | Rami Khouri.
Israel approves east Jerusalem building project | Yet another new settlement.
Library of Congress on Islam in Early America « Anonymous Arabist وين الناس | Fascinating.
Tweet freedom | On Twitter activism in Egypt, unfortunately confuses arabawy.org for arabist.net.
Cairo's US Embassy is Worse by Far | Mamoun Fandy: "The embassy has become an embodiment of the meaning of disgracefulness in Cairo, in terms of people's behavior, rudeness, and impoliteness."
gary's choices - The Decade's First Revolution? | Gary Sick on Iran.
لا لحجب الإنترنت بالجزائر - Non à la censure de l'Internet en Algérie - No to Internet Censorship in Algeria Petition | Petition.
Egyptian minister slams Al-Jazeera for 'instigating civil war' - Ynetnews | Over Gaza wall.
Video: Gaza war: One year on, Palestinians struggle to rebuild life from the rubble | guardian.co.uk |
CIA Bomber a Jihadi Blogger? — jihadica | Interesting background on Abu Dujana, as the bomber was allegedly known.
Dear Metallica | Letter asking the metal band not to perform in Israel.
Free Barghouti Now - Haaretz | OK.
The Daily Nuisance | News From The Frontier | New online site from Israel/Palestine
Three days in Iran - The Big Picture - Boston.com | Great pics of Iranian protests.
Links for 10.26.09 to 10.27.09
LRB · Nicolas Pelham: Diary | Nic Pelham's diary about Gaza.
Almasry Alyoum | NDP Talks Youth | Second in a series on youth and the NDP in Egypt: “We have to use the Internet, especially with so many people trying to turn our achievements into failures and to tarnish the reputation of public symbols. We have to be present online to correct those misconceptions.” Now who could they be talking about?
Almasry Alyoum| Gamal Mubarak: Nepotism "Unknown To Private Sector" | In this story, Gamal says nepotism "is part of Egyptian culture." You don't say.
Chomsky Receives Highest Pentagon Honor | Chomsky book "Interventions" banned in Gitmo.
YouTube - Slackistan Trailer | This is a good and funny idea - you could do it in the Arab world, too.
Inanities: The Gamal Show | About Gamal's Sharek event: "The Gamal Show is Gamal Mubarak’s attempt to convince us that he’s Barack Obama."
Bakchich: Interroger des… interrogatoires | Accounts of police interrogations of non-fasters in Morocco, interrogates them about Abou Bakr Jamai (prominent editor forced into exile), and more. Thoroughly depressing.
Arab Media & Society | The end of the beginning: The failure of April 6th and the future of electronic activism in Egypt | About online activism, its failure so far, and how to move beyond cynicism.
Almasry Alyoum | Gamal Mubarak And The Power Of Web 2.0 | First in a series of articles about the NDP's efforts to attract young Egyptians to politics. This one focuses on Gamal Mubarak's "Sharek" (Participate) online Q&A event.
J Street's Ben-Ami On Zionism and Military Aid to Israel - Jeffrey Goldberg | A very revealing interview of J Street's Jeremy Ben-Ami which conirms my doubts about the whole project.
Morocco press freedom on the decline, RSF study shows (Magharebia.com) | A marked increase in fines, imprisonement and intimidation of the press.
Dar Al Hayat - A Presidential Battle without Candidates | Muhammad Salah on the Egyptian presidency.

Links for 10.21.09
'Just World News' with Helena Cobban: Nozette: Pollard, 2.0? | On the latest Israeli spy scandal in the US.
"friday-lunch-club": Netanyahu refuses Kouchner's request to see Gaza's destruction ... | Gaza? What Gaza?
To Earn HIs Nobel Prize, Obama Will Need a "Plan B" | Stephen M. Walt | "If I were President Obama (now there's a scary thought!), I'd ask some smart people on my foreign policy team to start thinking hard about "Plan B." What's Plan B? It's the strategy that he's going to need when it becomes clear that his initial foreign policy initiatives didn't work."
ذاكرة مصر المعاصرة - الصحافة | Alexandria Library's online collection of historical Egyptian newspapers, including the first issue of al-Ahram (which was founded, it must be reluctantly noted, by Lebanese.)
News Analysis - Painful Mideast Truth - Force Trumps Diplomacy - NYTimes.com | Painful Media Truth: For NYT, bias always trumps journalism. Look at the language used in this piece: Palestinian violence is "very bloody" and Israel carries out "military action." Israel's plans to attack Iran are considered as legitimate. And there is a mixing of terrorism and the attacks on Israel's "legitimacy" -- i.e. the legitimacy of its landgrabs, occupations and militarism. Pure hasbara.
Israel, US start major joint air defence drill - Yahoo! News |
The exercise will test the Arrow (Hetz) system, the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defence), the ship-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence System, as well as Patriot and Hawk anti-aircraft systems, media said. It will simulate the firing of long-range missiles from Israel's foes Iran, Syria and Lebanon, and towards the end it will include a "live" missile interception, reports said.

Matthew Yglesias » Bernstein on Human Rights Watch | A good retort to the latest silly attack on HRW (by one of its former chairman) "or having the temerity to hold Israel to the same standards of international humanitarian law to which it holds every other country." But this just points to the problem of bias in the higher echelons of HRW - among former and current staffers.
Almasry Alyoum | No Fly Zone | Nice story looking at the recent airport detentions of various kinds of activists.
Almasry Alyoum | Pope Shenouda: "I Support Gamal Mubarak" | What a nasty little man, and what disservice he does to his flock. I hope Copts flee the Orthodox Church en masse over this.
Arab states consider joint counter-terror police unit | "Arabpol." Oh Lord Have Mercy.
Egyptcarpoolers | A carpooling connecting website for Cairo.
Saddam Interview | Transcripts of interviews with Saddam Hussein during his captivity in 2004.
Links for 10.14.09 to 10.18.09
Is Obama giving up on democracy in Iran? | Because Haaretz really, really cares.
'Delegitimization of Israel must be delegitimized' | Great pic on this FLC post.
Al Jazeera English - Focus - Leadership 'let down' Palestinians | As`ad AbuKhalil.
ANALYSIS / U.S. using Goldstone report to punish Netanyahu - Haaretz - Israel News | Ridiculous argument.
Egypt: 29 years between a president and his heir | Bikya Masr | Ayman Nour on Mubarak's Egypt.
Nationalism in the Gulf State | A LSE paper on GCC nationalism by Neil Partrick.
In Morocco, editor imprisoned, court shutters paper - Committee to Protect Journalists | al-Michaal newspaper closed over articles on king's health. Also rumors of closing down of Le Journal, TBC.
ei: EI exclusive video: Protesters shout down Ehud Olmert in Chicago | "The demonstration was mobilized last week after organizers learned of the lecture, paid for by a grant provided by Jordan's King Abdullah II."
FT.com / UK - Storm over Egypt's Israeli links | On the Hala Mustafa / normalization debate.
Citing Work Of Right-Wing Intern Spy, GOP Accuses Muslim Group Of Infiltrating Hill With Intern 'Spies' | TPMMuckraker | "Four House Republicans are charging that the Council on American Islamic Relations is infiltrating Capitol Hill with undercover interns, and they're basing the charge on a WND-published book that itself is based on the work of a man who posed as a Muslim to infiltrate CAIR as ... an intern!"
Confessions of an AIPAC Veteran | Helena Cobban profiles Israel operative Tom Dine.
Brian Whitaker's blog | The son also rises | Seif Qadhafi gets put in charge of, well, almost everything.
First Egyptian School Closes For Swine Flu - Daily News | Mere de Dieu girls' school -- a stone's throw from Arabist HQ -- closed.
U.S. Iran plan is a bunker-busting bomb - thestar.com | That's not very nice.
Oxford students occupy Bodleian Library in solidarity with Palestinians
A group of around 80 Oxford students occupied the historic Bodleian Library at Oxford University today in support of Palestinians and to protest the university's policies towards Israel, notably calling for divestment from Oxford's stake in the British arms manufacturer BAE Systems, a statement of support from the university in reaction to Israel's bombing of the Islamic University in Gaza, and the cancellation of a series of lectures inaugurated by Israeli President Shimon Peres (which the students had earlier staged a protest against). They are also asking for scholarships to be created for Palestinian students and support for Palestinian academia.

Their full statement is after the jump. The students have a blog, Occupied Oxford, a Twitter feed and a YouTube page with videos of the occupation of the library.

The question of an academic boycott of Israel and universities' divestment from companies that sell weapons to Israel has a long history in Britain, and this kind of smart initiative is good news. Eight other universities are staging similar protests and occupations: Birmingham, Essex, King's College London, London School of Economics, School of Oriental and African Studies, Sussex and Warwick. OXFORD UNIVERSITY STUDENTS OCCUPY BUILDING IN SOLIDARITY WITH GAZA

In the first week of term, over 80 Oxford University students have occupied the historic Bodleian building to demand that the university releases a statement condemning the attack on Gaza and cancel the lecture series at Balliol College inaugurated by Shimon Peres.

Students organised the sit in after attending an emergency meeting in Oxford organised to discuss the war on Gaza and the precarious ceasefire. Members of the University entered the Clarendon building and sat down at 1200, British time, on Thursday 22nd January. Their demands were presented to University officials.

The group represents a broad spectrum of concerned students and has the support of peace campaigners here in Oxford. They want the University Proctor to express solidarity with Palestinian academic community and condemning the attack on the educational infrastructure.

“Palestinians have the same rights as we do, including the right to education as enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights. We are proud to be students at Oxford University and do not want the University to contribute in any way to the undermining of the right to education. It is not a matter of politics, it is a matter of humanity,” a spokesperson said.

Students demand that the Master of Balliol College cancel the lecture series inaugurated by Shimon Peres. The group are also demanding that Oxford University divests from arms firm BAE Systems, an arms company who supply the Israeli military.

“The fact that Oxford University invests in BAE Systems means that it is directly profiting from the collective punishment of the Palestinian people. Our University cannot be funded by unlawful military aggression. Oxford University must divest from BAE and other arms companies immediately.

Students have also issued several demands related to providing material support for Palestinian students including providing 5 fully paid scholarships for Palestinian students and resources for education in Gaza.

Numerous Oxford academics as well as the Oxford University Islamic Society, the Oxford Palestine Society, the Oxford Indian and the Oxford Pakistan societies have already signed petitions condemning the Israeli attack on Gaza.

DEMANDS IN FULL

1) Statement
Oxford University should release a statement in support of the right of Palestinians to education and its support to the Palestinian Academic community. The University should condemn in particular the attack on the Islamic University in Gaza.

2) Divestment
Oxford University currently holds investments in BAE Systems, a firm that the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (caat.org.uk) states provides weapons and ammunition for the Israeli military. This means that our university is being directly funded by the Israeli war on Gaza. Oxford University must divest from BAE and other companies which supply arms to Israel.

3) 5 fully paid scholarships for Palestinian students.
Particularly after the attack on Gaza and the ongoing hardships suffered by Palestinians, Oxford University should offer 5 fully-funded scholarships to Palestinian students as a way to contribute to greater access to education for those affected by the conflict.

4) A cancellation lecture series inaugurated by Shimon Peres
The group demands that the Master of Balliol College cancel the lecture series that was inaugurated by the Israeli President Shimon Peres. It is not appropriate to have such a lecture series in light of the attack on Gaza and the ongoing siege.

5) Resources for Education.
The Oxford University should donate resources to, and support, the University and educational infrastructure that have been bombed in Gaza.

6) Right to Peaceful Protest
Oxford University has a proud history of student activism. Students united to campaign against apartheid, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. All students have a democratic right to peaceful protest and students should not be prevented from expressing their opinions by fear of reprisals.

MEDIA CONTACTS FOR THE STUDENT GROUP

Juliette Harkin 07740818376
Omar al-Shehabi 07966570155 (for Arabic media)

NOTES TO EDITORS:

1) Oxford University is the 8th University to go into occupation and joins SOAS, LSE, Warwick, Essex, Kings College London, Birmingham and Sussex universities.

2) The Oxford University occupation follows on from emergency meetings about Gaza and a well orchestrated protest in October 2007 against the decision of Balliol College, Oxford University, to inaugurate a lecture series in the name of Shimon Peres, president of Israel and responsible for atrocities against the Palestinian people.
Developments in Mahalla
Hossam has been following the latest repressive measures being taken against labor activists in Mahalla, one of the center of labor protests in Egypt. He says:


There is a ongoing crackdown on labor activists in Mahalla, since they staged a demonstration last October against the management's corruption:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sarahcarr/sets/72157608515197459/

/arabawy/2008/11/26/renewed-crackdown-on-ghazl-el-mahalla-workers/

http://delicious.com/elhamalawy/MahallaOctoberProtest



Following the demo, the management decreed the transfer of four activists from their positions:

1- Blogger Kareem el-Beheiri was moved to the Cairo office

2-Mohamed el-Attar was moved to the Alexandria office

3-Amal Said was moved to the company's nursery

4-Wedad el-Demerdash was also transferred to the nursery

/arabawy/2008/11/09/crackdown-on-mahalla-labor-activists-continue/



More alarmingly, the two women (Amal and Wedad) were sexually assaulted by thugs at the behest of the management, when they tried to enter the company compound.

/arabawy/2008/11/04/mahalla_sex_asaults/



The victimized workers' colleagues are planning a demo on Saturday in solidarity. However yesterday another activist was victimized (named Wael Habib) as he was distributing leaflets in the company calling for the demo:

/arabawy/2008/11/26/renewed-crackdown-on-ghazl-el-mahalla-workers/

Wael has been one of the central figures in the December 2006 and September 2007 strikes...





It appears security is trying to block some of the labor activists who've done the most to get information out in the last few years from having access to the main factory.