The Arab Media Response to the Wikileaks

I joked today on Twitter that I believe the world will probably deal with this the same way regular people deal with post-one-night-stand-hook-up awkwardness: Everyone had their fun but seen each other naked and now they just wanna do their walk of shame and pretend it never happened.I have been monitoring media websites the entire day waiting to see how the different arab medias will cover the subject , betting that they will either ignore it completely or focus on what was said in the name of the leaders of the other arab countries instead of their own. It seems that the media honchos decided that they couldn't ignore the news completely, so they went with option #2. Here is the breakdown:

In Egypt I focused on two "independent" media outlets, Masrway and shorouk news . Here is what they said respectively:

Masrawy mainly focused on two aspects: The awkwardness that has befallen the US gulf allies from the leak , and everything that had to do with Iran on them, fromthe US closely inspecting Iranian diplomats who went to Iraq, to the report that Iran used the Red Crescent to send weapons to Hezbollah during the Lebanon war, to how the wikileaks won't affect Iran's diplomatic relations with its neighbours . There was one mention about how Turkey's Erdogan simply hates Israel. No mention of Egypt at all.

Shorouk , on the other hand, went all over the place with their coverage, from focusing on Qhathafi's suspect relationship with his nurse , to Burlesconi's jovial reaction to what was written , and ending it with an article on how Israel sees great benefit in the Iran wikileaks and how Erdogan doesn't believe the website to be credible . No mention of Egypt, plus subtley making it look like it was all an israeli plot. Bravo Shorouk, you get bonus points for a job well done.

AlJazeera:

As expected, AlJazeera ignored everything said about Qatar, and instead had one article about how the arabs (sans qatar, duhh) have tired to goad the US to attack Iran , and then two articles on how wikileaks embaresses US foriegn policy and whether or not those documents should be published in the first place.

And finally, we have Alarabiya:

Saudi owned AlArabiya went with the weirdest option of them all. They published one article , titled how Saudi and Iran asked the US to be firmer on the US (mentioned in passing in one paragraph) and then went into lengthy detail on how Qatar said they lie to the Iranians who lie back, Israeli diplomacy and the role of Egypt in the 2009 Ghaza War.That is all.

So, in conclusion, the arab media oultlets are sticking to their guns, ignoring or glossing over news that deal with their leaders, and focusing instead of the regional enemies or making the whole thing look like a farce. Given how very few options they actually have (god forbid they actually cover the news accurately), I think they did a very fine Job in reporting on this, without looking the bottom-feeding biased hacks that they are.

God bless you Julian Assenge. We wouldn't be having so much fun if it wasn't for your geeky ass.

The Glorious Wikileaks

Yesterday was bound to be another depressing day in Egyptian History: The election went as I expected, with massive fraud aimed towards an almost total NDP controlled Parliament, clashes, media blackouts and 9 dead, and no one in the international media or the US making a peep about it. The deal was sealed: Obama had sold out democracy promotion in exchange of regional stability, and having Egypt being its silent enforcer in the region against the Iranians. And then Wikileaks happened, and IT WAS GLORIOUS!

Just when the egyptian government thought it was done with the elections headache, Wikileaks comes along and fucks it up the ass. It was beautiful Karma in action. Thanks to Wikileaks I felt like a child who was allowed to listen to grown-up conversations for the first time. And if that wasn’t sweet enough, seeing every foreign policy assessment I have ever made become validated this way? Gratification, defined. For years I have been talking about the Sunni-Israeli alliance, and how the arab world fears Iran ten times more than it ever feared Israel. For years I have been waiting for that moment when the Arab street rhetoric catches up with reality and for the political status quo to get rearranged as it should’ve a long time ago. There is now evidence that Egypt is aiding Israel in isolating Hamas, that Mubarak has nothing but utter hatred for the Muslim Brotherhood and utter distrust towards Qataris and Syrians, that the entirety of the arab gulf region, including Qatar, are weary of Iran’s lies and would love to see Iran gone or disarmed, and that they all would secretly support a strike on Iran from either the US or Israel. The dichotomy between their rhetoric and actions was finally exposed as hypocritical and duplicitous to their people and to the world.

Told you it was Glorious!

Arab governments won’t know how to react now that Wikileaks is exposing their dual positions regarding Iran, Israel & other Arab states. With the released documents Julian Assange has inadvertently caused the world of Arab realpolitik to make a giant leap to the present. Whether or not they will address what’s in the document, or claim that Julian Assenge is some Zionist Spy who aims to create division amongst the arab line, or simply report what’s in the documents about other countries but their own, that still remains to be seen. But whatever they do, the cat is out of the bag, and bloggers and online journalists, activists or wonks will make sure that the info is circulated. And who knows? Maybe they will man up about it and save us all from this infinite loop of middle-east politics bullshit once and for all. Wishful thinking, I know, but it sure beats the current status quo, which is something out of a bad Teen movie: America is the football team quarterback, Arab countries are the catty high school bitches, and Iran is that uppity chick with issues that everyone hates but the quarterback still wants to undress and nail.

Alongside the arab leaders, the one person who got hurt the most by this leak has to be Obama, but not for the obvious reasons of how people will be reluctant to talk to US diplomats confidentially again and all that Jazz. It’s because he lost the one advantage left he had going for him: His Foreign Policy skills. That was the playing field he would’ve loved to play on until the 2012 elections, trying to shape some kind of foreign relations legacy that would prove that he restored America’s standing in the world. Yeah, oops. Sorry. Not gonna happen. If it’s not bad enough that you exposed all of your arab allies as Israel-friendly, your staff actually manages to Insult everyone from Merkel, to Sarkozy, to Burlesconi, all the way to Chavez and Mugabe. The Fall-out will be so immense that it will leave the US more isolated than ever. Obama’s luck has always been quite extraordinary, but I am not sure it can get him out of this one. I almost feel bad for him. I really do.

Not everyone hates the wikileaks though; there are two countries who are bound to enjoy them: Iran and Israel. Israel must be relishing that its public knowledge now that everyone in the region wants Iran dealt and is on their side, and that the Sunni-Israeli alliance is now proven to be both real and inclusive of all the Sunni players in the region. For the Israeli public that may be relieving, but for the Netenyahu Government, it’s empowering. They are no longer the war-mongering dog howling in the wilderness anymore; even their longest feuding enemies agree with them. As for Iran, this only reinforces their rhetoric that everyone conspires against them and that they are isolated due to evil USA and their arab agent-states, and will give their government reasons to solidify their power against those mounting numbers of enemies all around it, both foreign or domestic. And secretly, in their heart of hearts, they must be relishing it: they always wanted to be recognized as a big regional player, and those documents prove without a doubt that they truly are. Sure, they are a hated and reviled regional player, but one nonetheless, and like the sycophants they are, they will take whatever they can get. Whether this makes them want to expediate their nuclear program, or try to reach out to the increasing numbers of enemies all around them, well, that remains to be seen. But if I was an average Iranian citizen, I would be booking my ticket out right about now. A strike is coming, probably sooner than later, and it might be better just to get the fuck out of dodge.

Fun times. Call me when WWIII breaks out. The Popcorn is on me.

Where the Road ends

It was 5 years ago that the proud nation of Egypt was going through its parliamentary elections, the first in forever with any semblance of fairness. We had the opposition mobilized (kinda), the ruling party actually faced a real challenge in the ballot box, and the Muslim Brotherhood was the roaring monster that we all feared and sorta expected them to be. That was 5 years ago. Democracy was on the tip of everybody’s tongue, and the whole world seemed to be invested in making it happen, thanks to the strong resolve of one man in power everyone likened to an idiot Monkey, who- with the help of 300,000 of his own soldiers in a nearby country- put the pressure and fear of God in the hearts of those who ruled us. That man was George W. Bush, and today, I miss him so.

You see, today a different guy is in charge. A man, with a smooth-tongue but very few principles, who changed the name of the game forever. Democracy was no longer the topic of conversation, but rather relegated to that of an after-thought. As strategic objectives go, it was no longer a priority. Stability, real politick, friendships with life-long dictators were the new objectives. The American people wanted it that way, or so it seemed to us, when they voted him into the White House. They just wanted to be liked instead of feared, and they ended up with neither. And they lost whatever respect that people had for them along the way.

But this post isn’t about them. It’s about us. Egyptians, and what the future holds for us.

Today, the people are encouraged to vote, even though they already know who is going to win, which is an amazing achievement since no one actually knows who the fuck the candidates are. You see, we were given all of 3 weeks to have people nominate themselves and run and win. To be fair though, the same thing applied to the NDP’s candidates, who found themselves in the weirdest of all political situations: The ruling party decided to field 2 candidates on the majority of seats, resulting the cartoonish situation where NDP candidates are running against NDP candidates. It’s not that the NDP doesn’t believe in primaries or favors one candidate more than the other. Au contraire, they already know amongst themselves who is going to win. But it helps to give the other guy hope, as he spends millions in below-the-line advertisement and vote buying. It stimulates the economy. It’s how the NDP gives back to the people.

Today, the Muslim Brotherhood will officially be declared politically dead, an announcement long overdue. They won’t win today, and not because of voter fraud or bullying (that’s just, ehh, bells and whistles if you may), but because the people in their districts are sick and tired of them, and have been for a long long time. Their districts are poorly serviced, the people’s requests fall on deaf ears, and the elected MP is more interested into playing opposition with the government over banning Books and censoring immorality on TV than actually the welfare of his people. Not to mention, their mobilization efforts are seriously lacking this year, since they have steadily lost recruitment in college campuses to Islamic charities, who allow islamicaly minded people to actually do development work (make things better for Egypt’s poor under an Islamic banner) without the stigma of belonging to an Islamic political movement that has vague objectives or guidelines, and one that doesn’t allow democratic elections in choosing its own leaders. What made it worse was the MB’s decision to abandon the flat organizational structure that benefitted them for so long (How are you to crush a movement that has no clear leaders?) and went with a Hierarchical organizational structure that is easily collapsible by taking out one floor from the echelon of command. The MB can no longer mobilize the youth effectively, because the youth have abandoned them, and the few who didn’t, well, they don’t exactly have leaders anymore. Disarray defines now what was once the most impressive grass-roots political operation in the country. Khalas. No more.

Now, the questions that some idiots who read this will ask: Well, if the MB’s candidates are so unpopular, why doesn’t the Government just allows for a fair elections where the MB will be humiliated, instead of all the soldiers, the arrests, and the shutdown of independent media outlets? Well, because all of this isn’t about the elections. You might think it is, since you can’t read the signs all around you, and the election date was coming up quick, but you are wrong and nave. You see, the government has been going through a realignment of its own, and the Good old Boys at the National Security are back in charge, and they are not lazy or reactionary as the State Security apparatus that has been ruling us for the past 15 years. Nah, National Security people are plucked from the military and the intelligence apparatus (State security are chosen as the brightest the police have to offer, which is funny considering that intelligence was never the hallmark of the Egyptian police), and those puppies are into the long game and they want to showcase their power. Here are the new rules:

  1. We are not going back to the pre 2005 days, where no dissent or opposition or independent Media outlets were allowed to exist. No, these things will exist, but they will be better managed from now on. That door won’t be closed, but it won’t be totally open either; just enough to let some light in. The playing field will shrink, and the players will be given just enough freedom to move around in a very small circle, no more, no less. Those who attempt to play outside, will be crushed. End of Story.
  2. The Muslim Brotherhood will not die, but it will be capsized. It will retreat into the trenches, or sewers if you are me, from whence they emerged. The new Islamic movement now is Ansar AlSunnah, salafists who are more concerned with covering up their women than whomever is in power, and who believe that if you want a better leader, you should pray harder, and God will give us one. Praise Allah.
  3. The conversation with DC will be different from now on, thanks to the state of disarray the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is in at the moment. Egypt is now the top Sunni player again in the region, and it has entrenched itself in the playing fields DC cares about the most (Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan and , of course, Ghaza). They were behind Alawi winning the majority of seats in the Iraqi parliament and not a day goes by in the Lebanese circles where someone doesn’t mention the games the Egyptian intelligence are playing there in favor of the Sunnis. Hell, Saad AlHarriri is in Egypt twice a week now.
  4. The opposition will still be allowed to exist and to be an ineffective and inefficient as ever. The government needs them as a tool to showcase its strength, the same way they need the government to crush them so that they can continue soliciting money from whomever they can and issues statements on the net. There will be some approved opposition, like AlWafd party, mianly because they know they have them by the balls. They know their place, those Wafdis, and they will never forget it. The rest soon will.

And that is all.

Have a lovely day, and don’t forget to go to the polls and vote for two people on your ballots. That might invalidate your vote, but at least it won’t allow them to steal it. And in case you are wondering, this is how high the ceiling is now. Get used to it.

PS: You will notice I didn’t mention ElBaradei once in this post. That’s because he is irrelevant. A media invention. Sarah Palin without the organizational effort or the ground support, but with the same goal: Milk this Bitch dry. The more the Media talks about him, the more eligible he is for USAID Democracy funding, whatever is left of that. It would be nice if actually was in Egypt like 10% of the time though, instead of him leading “the change” from a first-class plane seat heading to some European country, where is slated to talk about the change he is symbolizing. Thanks Europe! You guys have always been the smart ones! :D

Out of the Sectarian Closet

Like many of you, I have spent the past few weeks in utter fascination on how retarded the western world has gotten when it came to dealing with its growing muslim population. I have laughed my ass off over the Ground Zero Mosque debate (and much like the esteemed President of the US of A, I will not comment on the wisdom of building the mosque there :-P ), and I watched in fascination how a small pastor from Florida put the whole world in frenzy by holding two copies of the Koran hostage. While no one does a good media circus like the US, the debates regarding those two events were extra hilarious in Egypt, because of how serious everybody was dealing with them. Suddenly the opposition to building a mosque in ground zero became proof of Islamophobia and discrimination (I wonder what the same population would say to the US building a church or-gasp-a synagogue in one of Saddam’s palaces in Iraq. The horrorthe horror), and the actions of one lonely pastor with a flock of 60 became damning evidence of how Christianity was not the religion of love and tolerance it claimed itself to be. That’s it. Discussion closed. Never mind the global condemnation against the burning of the Koran, or the various voices that rose in defense of the American muslim population right to build a place of worship wherever they damn please. None of this mattered. Throughout the Egyptian Media (social and otherwise), champions of the eternally oppressed muslim population put their fingers in their ears, and went “No, nowe can’t hear you. LALALALALALALALAAAAAAAA!”

Now, while this was happening, a different yet equally retarded story was gaining major traction amongst the Egyptian society, over a woman called Camilia Shehata. Camilia is a wife of a Coptic church priest, who left her house for four days and disappeared. Conflicting reports came out on the whole thing, but basically here is the story: The Church claimed she was kidnapped, the police started looking for her, and when they found her they delivered her back to the Coptic Church. Then the rumors started circulating that Camilia left her husband because she decided that Christianity was a lie and the Islam is the way, and that she embraced Islam, and that the Coptic Church is holding her hostage and torturing her until she abandons her newly acquired faith, and return to Christianity. Demonstrations by angry Muslims erupted all over Egypt, and suddenly the Egyptian constitutional right for freedom of religion was discovered and touted by the Islamist population. To the Muslims, the case of Camilia was the ultimate proof of the righteousness of Islam, since the possible conversion of the wife of a priest is an irrefutable victory for the entire muslim nation. To the Christians, it was only another story of a Christian wife that became miserable and wanted to leave her husband, but couldn’t due to the lack of divorce in the Coptic church, so she escaped. The whole thing was a retarded non-story, but what famed the flames were 2 things : 1) The insistence of Pope Shenoda to hide Camilia from the media, which further supported the theory that she was being held against her will by evil copts, and 2) The aforementioned retarded international situation regarding the freakin mosque and the retarded Pastor. There is also the assholish desire of the newspapers to sell copies no matter what the consequences are, but that’s what they do, so we can’t really blame them for doing their jobs as badly as they usually do.

Either way, the Ground Zero Mosque story was finally simmering down, the Koran burning Pastor has decided to let go of his holy literary hostages, while insisting that he can still do this whenever he pleases, and Camilia appeared in a video denying that she ever converted and affirming her Christianity. So, in a nutshell, the world was finally recovering from its retarded sectarian fever, and we were all poised to just sit there and make fun of how stupid the world allows itself to get over religion like we usually do, until the Azhar Scholars Front decided to shit on everybody’s parade and release this statement. The English translation for the statement is below and provided by my good friend S. because it simply had to be translated. Here it is:

Boycott them

After the Egyptian Church became the source of intimidation and terror of the state and the nation at large, and after the Church’s arrogance and contempt for laws, norms, customs and religious legitimacy has became apparent to everyone. This church that is yet under the Shenodian reign, brazenly declares its disregard and contempt for these regulations, all for the sake of accounting to illusions that the church seems to have, intending to prove the existence of their religion in the country, at the expense of truth, the state, and its citizens. Making the church a landmark of destruction to national unity and a threat to social security, after the proven evidence of treachery and treason against the national interest and social security of Egypt.

Rendering the state body helpless despite their knowledge of such treason, giving more reason for the Church to continue with its tyranny, event after another, one of which was the Church challenging state laws and refusing the court verdict that attempted to provide equal divorce laws to muslims and christians. Their ruler ever so arrogantly declared that the State has no rule over the church.

And to make matters worst, there was the accident with the church’s ship of explosives that came from Isreal for a church’s pastor, following the incident with the sisters who converted at will from christianity to islam. Yet the muslim state took no stance towards the criminal behavior of the egyptian church. They delivered the muslim sister Kamilia Zakher, leaving the Church under the orders of its Pharaoh dictator to torment her, and terrorize her like they have done before with Wafaa’ Constantine and others’; all to be able to intimidate and scare any believers, contrary to Allah’s command in his book, that clearly states the protection of Muslim women,(?????? ???????????????? ??????????? ????? ?????????????? ????? ??????????? ??? ????? ????? ?????? ????? ???? ?????????? ???????) [???????? :10]

Yet the insistance of the egyptian church on practicing its tyranny, with the clear and apparent weakness seen from the state bodies towards them, leaves us in greater sedition then ever before, putting us at risk of disasters and grave danger. It has become our duty, morally, socially and legally, if we care for the children of egypt, muslims and christians alike, to stand united against this arrogance of religious orders, this canon of violence, and the patriarchal arrogance that threatens our entire nation with its present and future, laying down the foundation for evil within the fabrics of this nation.

It is therefore, a religious duty that Muslims, who are the majority, to do the following:

First: Quickly declare, in every way and method possible, a rejection of the destructive policy adopted by the egyptian church and the state’s apathy towards it.

Second: Take Legal action by suing the Egyptian Churh, requesting that it becomes subject to the authority of Law, that it is not above it, nor can it abandon or openly violate the state constitiution. Remove all Christian Judges from their posts.

Thirdly: All muslims from now on have to boycott any Christian entity with which the Church gains its strength: until the Christians repent and come to their senses, most important of which are:

1- Pharmacies – Hospitals – Private clinics operated or visited by Christians Muslims shall not buy their medicines from them, or enter them, as to not become accomplices in their crimes.

2 – Jewlery and Gold stores, most commonly owned and run by Christians in egypt.

3- Boycotting furniture stores owned by those Nasserites or frequently visited by them.

4- law, engineering and accounting firms.

5- Boycotting private schools owned and managed by them, those who stand quiet by their crimes and their Satan.

6- Egyptian youth, and Amro Elleithy’s and Shaf3y’s grandchildren can start with posting lists of these organization and institutions, to help facilitate the boycotting for the Muslims.

In conclusion, we are aware of the proper way to deal with the People of the Book, but that was only under the condition that they behave in a straight manner.?? ??????????? ??????? ???? ????????? ???? ?????????????? ??? ???????? ?????? ????????????? ???? ??????????? ???? ???????????? ???????????? ?????????? ????? ??????? ??????? ??????????????)(???????? ??????????? ??????? ???? ????????? ???????????? ??? ???????? ??????????????? ???? ??????????? ??????????? ????? ????????????? ???? ????????????? ?????? ????????????? ??????????? ???? ?????????????) (???????? 8 :9)

This boycott is the only way to retaliate these crimes and fight them. It is a boycott related to this exceptional situation, forced on us by the church’s arrogance and claimed superiority of their canon.

If it happens that this is put to rest, and they stop torturing the imprisoned women in their church, and the State manages to bring those criminals to justice, then things will go back to the way they were intended.

If the church insists and stands by its current position towards the state and religion, then we warn them that our next step will be civic boycotting to ALL christians in egypt, pushing them to the narrowest of paths, preventing them cohabitation.

We call upon the state, before activating the boycott, to stand against those criminal outlaws, and treat them with certainty.

Egypt should be protected by politicians, rulers and the entire Nation. Perhaps this will show them that the evil of the fitnah is not far away.

If not…there will be great persecution in the land and great corruption.

This situation requires a speedy boycott, to deprive those criminals of the nation they so greedily covet.

Issued by the Azhar Scholars Front, on the the third of Shawal 1421, September 12th, 2010.

In case you missed it, or didn’t want to read all of those big words, the Azhar Scholars Front- Which is a salafist group of Azhar Scholars who don’t actually run things in AlAzhar, but do have resonance and followers in the population, no thanks to the cache the Azhar name brings- have just asked the Egyptian population to not only attack the church through courts and lawsuits, but that it’s the national duty of good muslims to participate in a national economic boycott of all Christians in Egypt, until the church stops being “Uppity”. They want Muslims to boycott all Christian businesses and schools, until the wayward Christians return to their senses and conv..ehh..stop and I quote- “intending to prove the existence of their religion in the country, at the expense of truth, the state, and its citizens“, cause Christinaity in Egypt is an illusion, except when there are Christian businesses to boycott. It all makes sense if you don’t pay attention.

Now, I don’t have to list the reasons why this is messed up, but I will do that anyway: There is no doubt that there was always sectarian tension in Egypt, but it’s been always hush hush, with everyone insisting that all is well, and that the national fabric is made of bulletproof Kevlar, and other such poppycock. No more. This is the game changer. With a religious authority declaring it’s the duty of muslims to effectively economically boycott all Christian businesses until they carry out their affairs to our liking, and threatening to escalate to a social boycott as well if the Christians don’t kowtow to them, Egypt has officially came out of the sectarian closet. Hell, even the Lebanese, who are world renowned for their sectarianism, never went as far as this in recent memory. This is new, and this is dangerous, because some people will take it to heart, and will start peer pressuring their muslim friends to join, who will in turn peer-pressure their muslim friends, and it can all snowball into a secterian avalanche that could take over the nation. And make no mistake, if it does, there will be violence. This will easily go bad very quickly, which is why I am writing this post.

The government will ignore this story and issue a media blackout, because they will believe that talking about will publicize the call of the ASF and then you might have people who will take it to heart. The problem is, people will take it to heart anyway, because if we learned anything from the Danish Cartoons crisis, if people want information that allows them to go nuts, they will find a way to disseminate it and let it take over their small tiny brains. For example, A friend of mine published the link to attach the statement on his facebook profile, and a friend of his asked him what he should do, since he wants to follow the edict and boycott the Christians, but doesn’t know what to do about the fact that his Christian neighbor happened to donate blood to him at a recent surgery. This is the same population that back in the cartoon days refused insulin for their diabetes because it was made in Denmark and “what the hell will I tell the prophet if I die after taking this?”, so the potential for extremely dangerous stupidity here is nothing less than formidable.

If there is a silver lining to all of this, it forces our hand to confront this now, and show once and for all who is hateful towards egypt’s Coptic minority and who isn’t. Our only hope as a nation is not to ignore this, but to let the world know that this is happening, and forcing the Egyptian society to face its own sectarianism and bigotry and the Egyptian government to nip it in the butt. Condemnation to their call has to be so loud and clear that no such call will be made ever again, and IT HAS TO COME FROM MUSLIMS. And if you are one and you are thinking : ” we shouldn’t do anything but just ignore those idiots”, well, my friend, FUCK YOU! If a small pastor in Florida threatening to burn the Koran garnered Global condemnation from muslims and non-muslims alike, then the call of an influential group of clerics for a national boycott of all of Egypt’s Christians deserves nothing less than that from you. Hell, it deserves more than this. This is a national shame and nothing less than your total outrage is expected. And if you can’t see the outrage, imagine yourself hearing about an american call for the national economic boycott of all Muslims in the US, and see how wrong you will think this is then.

We are staring into the sectarian abyss here people, this is no time to play coy.

On Khaled Said

A few years ago, I saw the french movie "Irréversible" , and like many movie watchers I was subjected to the-now infamous- utterly brutal and inescapable Monica Bellucci 9 minute rape and murder scene. That scene has left me disturbed beyond measure, not just for the extremely violent depiction of such a heinous act, but by knowledge that, as certain as the run rises and the oceans ebb and flow, there is someone in the world, right now, facing a similar and equally brutal death. That at every minute, someone, somewhere in the world, in areas that we don't want to think or know about, someone is about to die, painfully, brutally, and completely without Mercy on the hands of a fellow human being.

What terrifies me isn't the violence; Anyone who has two eyes can see that we are a violent species that is capable of some horrid nightmares.What terrifies me is the feeling of helplessness that those victims must feel before they meet their end. The absolute certainty that someone has the power to end your life, and is doing just that, and there is nothing you can do about it. The Horror of realizing that this one won't pass, that you won't live to see the morning, and that this person- if we can even call them that- sees you as nothing more than an insect that they can crush the life out of it by the heels of their shoes.

This is precisely why I didn't want to know the Story of Khaled Said, a 28 year old Alexandrian man, who got killed on the hands of two policemen a few days ago. And the story is equally disturbing and terrifying in its simplicity: He simply was sitting in a Cyber Cafe, when two policemen walked inside and demanded the ID's of everyone who was sitting there. When he refused to give it to them, they grabbed him, tied him up, dragged him out of the Cafe, took him to a nearby building where for 20 minutes they beat him to death, smashing his head on the handrail of the staircase, while he screamed and begged for his life, and as people around watched helplessly, knowing that if they did something, they would be accused of assaulting a police officer, which would pretty much guarantee them a similar fate. This went on for 20 minutes. Think about that. You are beaten to death, by those who swore to protect you, while the people in your neighborhood watched silently, and as your pleas for mercy fell on deaf ears. 28. Not yet married. Still having the rest of your life ahead of you. No More.

After the police discovered he died, they took the dead body to the Police station, where the Police Officer ordered them to throw it back on the street and call an ambulance, in order not to be held responsibly for him. When his brother- who had the american citizenship- found out, he went and confronted the head of the Police in his neighborhood, who told him that the story isn't true, and that his brother was a known drug offender and that he died from asphyxiation, for swallowing a bag of drugs when the police caught him with it. 

This is Khaled before the "Asphyxiation":

This is Khaled after his "Asphyxiation":

 

 Amazing what Asphyxiation does to you these days, no?

 When the story went out, and people saw the pictures, they were of course enraged. About a 1000 people gathered after the Friday prayers to protest in front of the police stations, and there are plans to do sit ins and demos this entire week, demanding that people take action, before they become the next Khaled. The Ministery of Interior swiftly responded, by stating that Khaled was a criminal and a womanizer and a drug dealer and responsible for 9/11, and that he died from Asphysxiation, and the picture is simply after his body was diagnosed by the Coroner. And that really, really, we should be glad that such a menace to society at large is not with us anymore. 

And of course no one will get punished.

Egypt likes to refer to itself as the land of Security and Safety. Please note that we always put the word Security first. We like to think we are safe, that we are better than those evil western countries, where a woman is raped every 48 seconds or whatever, but we are not. We are not Safe. None of us is. Not n this country, not in this world. Any one of us could lose that spark of life at any minute, and the lucky ones get it quickly and painlessly. The unlucky ones suffer. The really unlucky ones end up like Khaled.

You think about Humanity, and where it is today, and you can't help feeling disgusted at us as species. We are brutal, evil and vile, and very quickly for congratulating ourselves on anything good we do, while we really don;t do that much and we know it. Anxiety is soaking up most people’s days. Everyone had become
pre-occupied with horror. Madness was fluttering everywhere.There are diagrams
illustrating all these problems- circles and hexagons and squares. Most troubling
were the fleeting signs that nothing could transform any of this into
something positive. You couldn’t help being both afraid and fascinated. Hearing about such incidents made you feel that the survival of mankind
didn’t seem very important on the long run. We were doomed. We deserved
it.

When they finish those Colonies on the Moon, I will be on the first spaceship out of here. This planet is fucked!

“So, Berlin, huh?”

Right now, I am in my tiny but yet very space efficient room in a Hotel in Alexanderplatz, Berlin.

Right now, I should be showering and getting ready for the day ahead. Our organizers said 9 am sharp and I do hate to be late.

But honestly, right now, all I want to do is write. I haven’t done it in so long, and the words seem stuck in my mind. Unable to communicate. Unable to let the words bleed and flow  I used to be able to vomit entire paragraphs and pages, and now I have to beg those words out. Where the creative juices used to flow, now a lubricant is necessary, and it’s out of stock at every local pharmacy in the vicinity.

It sucks because I feel out of practice.. Because I feel bland .because I feel tapped out, and no matter how much time off I take I can’t seem to recharge.

Uninspired is not the right word, but it’s the first one that comes to mind .

The thing about writing is this, it’s just like working out. When you are young and filled with energy, it’s easy. What you lack in experience you overcompensate with Stamina..until you know you can write..Until writing becomes like that 45 minutes run you never thought you would be able to finish.

But then you stop and you whine about feeling uninspired, and you end up only writing for your own amusement and you let posers and imposters take your place..and you sit silently unable to express all the ways in which everything you ever cared about gets twisted and corrupted and manipulated into something unrecognizable and perverse. And you let it go, because the people seem to buy it. The same people you started this for in the first place. Now, you just kind of hate them, because more than anyone else in the world, they are the ones that truly proved to you that you are nothing more than a Don Quixote. Hey, wanna fight windmills? Stand in line and take a pill!

So, you give up you become complacent you start making fun of people that you know are Wankers and Liars on Twitter, but you don’t do much else. There is black smoke where your heart used to be, and you fear that if you let it beat again, you will unleash clouds of tar on everyone in your vicinity. Good or bad all will be punished.

And you know that’s not right.

It’s not depression because I am pretty happy.

It’s not being disheartened or bitter because whenever I do see a new idea that needs to be supported, or someone who still has that glint in their eyes and that belief that they can change the world..I want to do nothing more than protect them and give them whatever “wisdom” I managed to acquire over the years.

It’s  ”jadedness” .too much cynicism and general exhaustion. “Exhaustion from what? you don’t do much of anything anymore.”, you may ask. And you would be right to wonder. The answer is simple: From caring..

From Believing

From knowing too much about the nature of the political scene in Egypt, of the civil society scene in DC, of every Hero I have ever had or championed

But I ignored all that, buried it deep down..because no one wants to hear it. Can’t be showing weakness, not with the vultures are lining up all around you, wanting to get rid of you once and for all. And they have good reason to worry, for you know too much and been silent for too long but more on that later.

I ignored all that, until I met her yesterday, and I was confronted with everything I wanted to ignore for so long.

She comes from Azerbaijan, which, from what she told me of it, might as well be called Egypt. And she suffers from the same ailment that I suffer from. Too many years fighting, too much time in the trenches, and nothing really changing.

She, as well, tried being an activist, and found it nothing short of masturbation.

She, as well, tried walking away and focus on making money and a career, but even that felt empty

She, as well, didn’t feel peace of mind for the longest time, until she came here to Berlin.

Why Berlin?

Because it’s a city that is on a constant journey of self-healing

Because it’s a place that has seen lots of heartbreak, oppression and death, and made it through..

Because it has the energy of a soldier who spent too many years on the frontline, and actually won his peace, without firing a single bullet.

You walk in Kreuzberg, you watch the tourists pretending to be running away to the American sector in Checkpoint Charlie and buying GDR memorabilia, you see the wall and how it became a living breathing testament to art and freedom of expression, you pass by every monument, statue and museum detailing the bloody and violent history of a city that despite all of its battlescars is standing proud, smiling..and, you, for the first time in ever, feel ok about yourself and the world.

We create mental walls for ourselves psychological walls that keep us from finishing our Journeys .emotional walls of cynicism to protect whatever little idealism you have left in your jaded heart, and we try to ignore those walls daily to go about your life, and party, and love and be happy. Just pretend they are not there, and they won’t remind you of their existence.

And the Lesson the people of Berlin taught me is this: DON’T IGNORE THE WALL, BECAUSE IT WILL ALWAYS BE THERE IF YOU DO.

Just see it every day, remember what it means, and know in your heart of hearts that it won’t last forever. One day, you will get to turn the wall into a canvass, and the no-man’s land, into high-rise modernistic apartments, and the symbols of oppression? Shit, you will sell them to tourists, who know nothing of your struggle, and if they do, they consider it a little more than a cute story.

It will all come to an end one day. The law of Entropy affects everything, even oppression. It just takes slightly more time.

So, Berlin, I love you for not looking away for not walking away and for proudly wearing those scars, that remind everyone, and especially you, that your past is real.

What happened there!

So, the government decided to finally release the detained activists on Saturday, and they arrived on Saturday night back to Cairo, unharmed and all. There was no beating, there was no torture, unless you count having to spend a whole day and night in a small room without anything to lay or sit on torture. Well, actually, there was some torturous activities, according to Demagh Mak (who was arrested there for those too lazy to read the previous post ), but it came from the new and excited activists who joined that marsh. They saw too many Arabic movies about being detained by the authorities, and decided they need to act like detainees in those movies, by chanting " We are more free behind bars than you are in real life", and then proceeding to sing patriotic songs in order to "fight the oppressors with our music". I don't know about you, but being locked in the same room with people doing that, that's some cruel and unusual punishment right there. Pity the youngins, why do they always have to be this lame?

Besides that, the story is very straightforward: the activists arrived at Nag3 Hamady really early in the morning, and being on a Friday with half of the town still sleeping, they headed to the local coffee shop for morning tea and Shisha. Not 30 seconds passed by, and 6 huge state security trucks stop by, alongside paddy wagons, and they scoop them all in and arrest them. The person who told on them? A member of the Tagamo3 leftist party. Anyway… So, the drive from the coffee shop to the Police station was 3 minutes, so they all proceeded to make frantic phone calls to anyone they know in order to tell them what's going on. They then arrive at the station, and have all of their phone taken (except Amira el Tahawy, who managed to hide hers) and ended up spending the day getting interrogated, and at night they were presented to the public prosecutor without lawyers, who started making up shit in his reports about how they were arrested in a demonstration and were chanting this or that, and then they were sent back to their cells to spend the night. The Girls, because they are smart, did a sit-in and a hunger strike, and in order not to have a big incident on their hands, the police ended up moving them to the local hospital, where they spent their night. But in the time they spent in their jail-cell, they came upon an interesting discovery: a graffiti written by one of the Killers of Nag3 Hamady. It said "If defending one's right is a crime, then long-live the world of crime". I am guessing he sees killing 17 year olds to be righteous. He is good people. Great values.

The next morning, the order for the release of the activists was made, and they chose not to tell them. They just left them there till noon, and then went and gotten them out of their cells, put them in Mini-buses, and sent them back to Cairo. They are all safe, sound and exhausted. They still got no explanation as to why they were treated this way, and they never got to reach the families of the victims to offer their condolences. Having muslims consoling the families of Christian victims of muslim hate-crimes, well, that's just too much of a risk apparently. It might lessen the hate or something, and we can't have that.

You know, whenever someone would say that the government is behind the sectarian tensions, I would call bullshit, because the government doesn't fill the minds of shooters with hate, give them guns, and have them pull the trigger. That's coming from the people themselves. That belief has not changed to me: the people are responsible here. The people are responsible for their hate, but the government … the government doesn't help lessen it in any way. It's best to keep them divided…easier to rule this way.

On Nag3 Hamady, Sectarianism & Stupidity!

Sectarianism is stupid.

I know, I am not breaking any new grounds here. Not exactly the mind-blowing thought-provoking statement one would hope would come out of the writer of those words after such a long absence, but.. it's nonetheless true. Sectarianism is stupid. There is no arguing that.

Unfortunately, in a country like Egypt, sectarianism is alive and well, because the people are mostly stuck on stupid. And when I mean people, I mean all people. The citizens, the politicians, the police, the whole shebang. They are all stuck on stupid.

And don't get me wrong…I am not saying that its stupid in order to cover-up the evil that is taking place here. Make no mistake, there is evil here; But there is also a whole shitload of Stupid. And we will go over all of it, because every now and then, you meet the kind of stupidity that just leaves you in awe. The kind of stupid that breaks stupidity records. The kind of stupid that will have the mentally disabled give you a dirty look and be like "BOY, you are RETARDED!"

The kind of Stupid only Egyptians are capable of.

Our kind of stupid.

So, where to begin this stupid tale?

Well, I guess some background information is in order.

It all started on January 6 — Christmas Eve according to the Christian Coptic Church — when six Coptic Christians (not one above 17 years old) and a policeman were killed in a drive-by shooting while exiting their church in Nag3 Hamady, Upper Egypt. The 3 killers were muslims, who claimed they did it in retaliation to some Christian dude raping some muslim chick in another town. Now, pay attention, cause this is where the special kind of stupid starts: The Killers instead of killing the alleged rapist, or even attacking his house or family house, chose to indiscriminately open fire on a bunch of Christians leaving the Christmas midnight mass, because really, if one Christian is to blame, then all Christians are guilty, so just shoot whichever one you find on your way home. Also, do that on their holiest of days as they are leaving church, because that's not bound to turn some heads or nothing.

And so it was…

Naturally, most of Egypt woke up to the news like a drunk college student with a massive hangover: Incomprehension followed by confusion followed by a sense of certainty that while you don't know how yet, this shit is gonna cost you. The Christians were all shocked, and then their reactions varied between fear, disgust and fury. There was no calming them. Nothing none of us could say. And of course what happened next did not help a bit.

The government of course tried to change the conversation, saying that this is not a sectarian-crime, but more of a criminal- crime, that just happened to have muslim shooters and Christian victims, done on the most important christian holiday, in front of the local chruch as christians were leaving mass. To corroborate their story, they dragged in the Christian governor of Qena- where Nag3 Hamady is- and had him say that to the press, even mentioning the alleged rape as if to somehow justify what happened. The Christians at Nag3 Hamady didn't take that too well, and started to demonstrate against the shooters and the government, to which the local state security troops responded with 1) beating them up or 2) letting the muslim residents of Nag3 Hamady beat them while they watched, hoping that this would scare the christians down, like it always does. STUPID!

It of course didn't work, and a riot broke out, which lead to clashes that lead to riots which lead to clashes and so one and so forth. The Father of the Church there, Korollos, tried to calm his people down, urging them to turn the other cheek like they always do, but for the first time in a really long time, many of his flock refused to listen, and started fighting with him in the church. The calm wasn't going to come without Justice, and the local police forces were not ready to provide the kind of justice the Christians demanded, because the shooters are muslims who killed defending muslim honor. So, if they do come down hard on the shooters, they will anger the muslim community in Nag3 Hamady, and they may start to shoot at the police as well as the Christians. And who wants that? Not the police, surely!

So the game starts getting fixed, with newspapers carefully pushing the line that the shooters didn't intend to kill the chirstians, but rather to disable them. I shit you not, they said that their aim was to shoot them in the legs and drive away, but when they started falling because they were being shot in the leg, some of those low-aiming bullets hit the fallen in their chests, killing them. Yeah. How about that for stupid?

So, feeling that someone needs to counter this level of stupidity with action, a group of 30 activists that includes bloggers Wael Abbas, Demagh Mak and Wa7da Masreyah, flanked by a number of opposition figured, decided that they will head to Nag3 Hamady by train yesterday morning, in order to pay their respect and provide condolences to the families of those slain in the shootings. The Police at Nag3 Hamady caught a wind of this, naturally, and feeling extra extra stupid, decided that the activists must be coming in to cause a demonstration and inflame the situation, which could piss the muslim crowds coming out of friday prayers off, and cause fresh clashes, and who would want that? So, instead of asking the activists what they are doing there, or even putting them on a train heading back to Egypt, the police of Nag3 Hamady chose to arrest them instead, figuring that detaining them for a couple of hours until the day is over would be the wisest thing to do. STUPID!

Next thing you know, you had a media storm on your hand, and lawyers were calling up the Police station by the droves, and journalists were demonstrating in Cairo, and the whole thing was getting out of hand. Realizing that they are the retards who arrested activists who came only in order to offer condolences in a symbolic gesture of national unity, the security forces decided that they needed to fix this before it gets out of hand. So, how would they fix it? Simple, keep them locked up over night, send a statement to the newspapers that you arrested them while they were attempting to riot and cause mayhem, and then release them the next day- Today- because they will be so tired from spending an entire day in your holding cells without food or water, that they will just go home. Media fallout? International pressure? Civil society condemnation? Let the government deal with that. What's important is that Nag3 Hamady is calm and stable for another day. That's all that matters. And surely this will have no repercussions on them on the local level at all, right? I mean, when the Christians see that not only is the police not interested in protecting them, not actively trying to bring their shooters to justice, beating the shit out of them every time they try to demonstrate , but are also arresting muslims and human rights activists who want to offer their condolences and pay their respect to the victims' families, surely they won't get mad about that. That's not adding insult to injury at all, you know?

Do I even have to say it?

S.T.U.P.I.D.

And here we are, a country whose so called national fabric is being ripped at the seams, and its leaders-political and religious- are unable to lead or even gauge their people any more. What's new here is how widespread the Christian anger is this time, and who its targeting : The Coptic Church. The Copts have had it with the church and its leaders, who want to play politics and make small gains by gambling with the livelihood of their followers. It's even happening on the top level, with NDP, twice-appointed by Mubarak, Coptic Christian MP Gorgette Qillini started attacking the governor of Qena and Father Korollos for lying to their people and trying to appease the government. Yes, you have one of very very few Christian MP's, who was appointed by the government, fighting with the Christian father of the church of the slain Christians and the Christian governor of the governorate they were killed in, and accusing them of being beholden to the government, while the general Christian population is watching, dumbfounded on how this has become a fight between the Christians, instead of uniting, and trying to start a serious national dialogue from the ashes of this horrific incident. But no, that would be smart, and we don't do that around here, do we?

I love this stupid country and its stupid people. I really really do.