Archive of ‘causes’ category

And the beat goes on

Previously on Sandmonkey: Mahalla was awash in riots , people were tearing down Mubarak pictures, and arbitrary arrests were everywhere. We last stopped after the news of the arrest of George Ishac.

Now, where were we?  Oh yeah, George Ishac. Hmm..

Well, to be honest, while I was shocked and totally against it, I wasn't too torn up over the arrest of good ole Mr Ishac, for a number of reasons that every downtown activist knows and every journalist refuses to report, chiefly amongst them is :Kefaya is dead!

Kefaya has been dead for quite some time now, with a number of other movements picking up the slack. Some have names, such as Youth for Change and the revolutionary socialists, and others don't, with many people showing up individually wanting to do something for the country. But you will tell me that you never heard of those other groups and are only aware of Kefaya's achievements in street mobilization and protesting. Well, my friend, that's because after every such protest in recent memory, Mr. Ishac -and whomever his cohorts are- issue a statement claiming organizational responsibility for the protests and calling the numbers of people arrested as members of the movement, but they would never be there. Hell, I can count 6 protests from recent memory, some very important ones,where none of the so-called-Kefaya leaders were available, but statements of responsibility were issued, and the leathery face of mr. Ishaq was all over Al Jazeera. And mind you, this goes back to the constitutional amendments protest. Remember that night? Yeah, not a single one of them was there, but you bet your ass mr. Ishaq issued a statement, calling it a Kefaya protest and the arrested Kefaya activists, even though he didn't know any of them.

There is a story that I believe and was told by one of my activist friends on dear George, which was during the Islam Nabih (a police officer) trial over his torture of Emad el Kebeir. George comes into the court and goes to my activist friend and the following exchange takes place:

G: So, this is Sharqawy's trial?

F: No, sharqawy didn;t have a trial. This isn't it at all. This is the trial of Islam Nabih.

G: Oh, Islam, great kid. Who is defending him?

F: Ehh..no one from our side.

G: Why? That's outrageous. He doesn't have a lawyer? 

F: well, he does, but not from our side. Islam Nabih is the police Officer that tortured Emad el Kebeir. They are trying him for that today.

G: Oh, ok! (storms off the court, and then storms back in, heads to Emad and pats him on the shoulder and says)

G: Don;t worry Emad, we are all  behind you.

(And then stormed out again)

So yeah, as you can see, he wasn't exactly on top of things, but that never prevented him from appearing on TV shows, talking about things he had nothing to do with. The last time was when he was representing "the egyptian opposition forces" on Al Jazeera program covering Al Mahalla riots, opposite Esam Al Aryan. The government was looking for someone to blame this on, Georgie boy couldn't resist the lime-light, and suddenly they had the perfect candidate. Oh, and by the way, they released him now, but only on bail, which is making many people speculate that this is far from over.

And it is far from over. It really is. I was shocked at the news of his arrest, not because of who he is, but because I was informed by some of my sources that they were planning on arresting him the same day they arrested Sharqawy, but they couldn't locate him. The words "military tribunal" and "3 years minimum sentencing" got thrown in there as well, but don't hold me to it. I wouldn't be surprised if they do go the route of military tribunals though, they do want the May 4th strike aborted in any way possible, because if it took place, then Mahalla is not a fluke and we could be heading towards a seriously sizzling summer of egyptian anger. And God knows that the government was too stupid in the way they have
handled Mahalla so far.

You see, besides arresting anyone that moved, the government also sent in a
delegation of Ministers of Mahalla, who promised them 30 days pay, benefits,
upgrading the factories, and everything but giving them head in an effort to
placate them, and them alone. They thought by doing this the crisis would be
over, but it's not just about Mahalla, it's about the entire country, and they
are all having
the same problems,
and they just saw that protesting gets them stuff. So
Almost immediately after Mahalla's textile workers strike was subdued
crushed over, the Nasr steel factory workers started their own strike in
Mahalla. And now the workers of two spinning
factory workers in Alexandria are striking as well.
The government opened
up Pandora's box, and now they can't close it. Even their half-assed attempt of using
religion to stop people from striking
was duly ignored, all the while the
fighting over the bread lines is taking place now with
gunfire.
Fun stuff.

In other news, the authorities had arrested the creator of the strike on
april 6th facebook group, a veiled girl named Isra2, who just got released
yesterday. They had also detained
American Journalist James Buck
and have refused to
let go of his translator
until today. James Buck's testimony is posted on his website here .As for Al
Mahalla itself, it's under lockdown, with no people allowed in or out of the
city, especially the journalists, as a group tried and found out for themselves
last week. The only exception to this rule was, as usual, Wael Abbas, who
managed to snag an interview with the father of the 15 year old boy that got
shot in his house twice accidentally by police gunfire. By the way, in case you
are wondering, the police ain't investigating the incident. We are, after all,
80 million, what's a dead boy in 80 million? Can't waste time investigating
that, we have national security concerns people, and we are busy busy busy.

So yeah, that is all. No one knows how many exactly got arrested, and what
their names are. I know that Sharqawy is still arrested, which is ironic,
because he had nothing to do with this strike and had put aside activism in
exchange of running his publishing business more than 6 months ago. Yet, here he
is, arrested for no reason, and the only one they won't let go. As for why
there isn't any campaigns to free him, well, all I know is that whenever
someone opens up the topic, they get yelled at that there are other detainees
than Sharqawy and that he got plenty famous the last time, and that we
shouldn't give him anymore fame this time. Reminding them that it isn't about his fame, but about the fact that the boy is in
jail doesn't seem to move them either, which is another reason why I thank the
lord that I am not close friends with those "downtown" types. Ehh..
Anyway…

We now play the oldest of games, the game of waiting. The 15 days end on the
21st, and that's when we will find out the charges against Sharqawy, Ishac and
and all the others. The buildup for May4th strike is currently underway, and
the fact that it coincides with the president's Birthday just makes the whole
thing more..ehh..delicious. But this could all get killed based on the indictments given out in 6 days: if the words "Military" and
"Tribunal" appear anywhere, then rest assured that nothing will
happen that day.

As for those of you who are worrying about how the MB could be behind this,
well, fear not. The MB, for the 1000000 time, proved that they are pussies, and
have even attacked the people who protested and striked, hoping that the
government would allow them some seats in the municipal elections, and the
government naturally complied, and all is well. The MB doesn't really care
about the issues not does it oppose Mubarak, and they would gladly support all
of his decisions and polish his penis daily if he agreed to give them some
power. So yeah, The MB doesn't really care about Al Mahalla right now, cause they are too busy
creating a campaign to support the Muslims in Chechnya.
Yes, that's where the MB's priority lies these day, Chechnya.I thought you might want to know.

And that is all for now folks, have a lovely day! 

The Game is on

********************Scroll down for updates********

People who read this blog know that I am not the most enthusiastic supporter of today's protest for both political reasons , and for the fact that I am not quite sure what it would achieve. It's hard to take a protest seriously that gives u the choice between being apathetic or participating by staying at home and doing nothing. However, the government seems to be taking it very seriously, so maybe I should to, especially that they arrested Malek and a number of activists yesterday, forcing a number of other bloggers and activists to spend last night in any other place but their homes. I just took a cab ride to Dowtown and the streets are crawling state security and they are stopping young men who are walking by themselves on the streets and checking their ID's and forcing them to get off the streets as soon as possible. 

On the other hand, the government is going for an entire media blitz to stop the strike: The cover of government mouthpieces AlAhram and Al Akhbar are filled with headlines that both deny the existance of any strike , following the line of "What strike? That's just a bunch of hype started by a number of illegal and shady movements and individuals who want to ruin the country!", and yet detail the amounts of legal punishment and trouble that anyone who participates in a strike would receive "Losing your job, Fines, 3 months to a year in prison, being on the government's shit list forever, etc..etc..". Uber government presswhore RoseAlYusef published a headline asking people to calm down, go to work and not worry because everything is working fine and there is no strike , and life is rosy. In Rosealyusef's world, reality is what you make it, which must work really well for them.

The interesting thing is, no one knows really which political powers are with or behind this protest. I mean sure, AlWasat, and alKarama parties are in, and so is whomever is representing Kefaya these days, and some factory workers. The Muslim Brotherhood have announced they won't participate, but they are supporting the protest "with their hearts", whatever the fuck that means. The Pro-government other parties like Egypt;s Youth and the conservative party and their many counterparts are all saying that they support freedom of expression, but are against such shady political stunts that achieve nothing and only hurt the country. The Democratic Front, the Nasserite party are in solidarity with the strike, while Al Tagamo3 and the Wafd party are not joining because "they weren't invited to join" (Awwww……). And Al Ghad , on the other hand, enjoys the most unique position of being For and Anti the strike at the same time, thanks to the fact that there are two factions claiming to represent it now: The Musa faction, which is anti joining, and the Ayman Nour faction, which is all about joining, and naturally AlAhram quotes Musa , while Al Masry Al Youm quotes Gamila Ismael, Nour's wife! It's beautiful!

As far as the people go, they have various reactions: Nawarah Negm's maid thinks that the people will destroy the Bread Bakeries, Haisam tells a story about the driver of his friends' father who is striking today, because he believes that the strike is against the Dutch Fitna movie, the Taxi drivers I took eysterday and today assure me that they have heard of the strike and that people are all worried about it, because whomever doesn't show up to work today will go to jail, even if they were sick. He also told me that the local souq (markets) were open till midnight last night, with people buying lots of goods in anticipation for today. Many of the private schools, afraid of…ehh..I don't know..something..have canceled schools today, and thus the streets of Cairo are empty this morning. Al Dustour newspaper is also reporting that Egyptian movie Star Ahmed ElSaqqah is joining the protest by halting production of his new movie for the day. Saqqa the revolutionary. Who knew?

Anyway, the people behind the strike have created a special blog to document it (can be found here ), and are urging the people on the streets to send their pictures, posts and stories to them , using this e-mail 6april08@gmail.com. They even have a hotline: 0118361000 or 0119423496, so don't hesitate to call it. if you witness something, even if you don;t agree with the protest or the ideology behind it. Look at it the way I look at it: It's a way to flip off the government who won't just allow protesting in the streets, but won't allow people to stay home either. It's the least we can do, no?

Update: They have also arrested Mohamed Sharkawy and Kefaya's leader Mohamed Al Ashqar from their homes, and they have arrested Mustapha Khalil at a Fabric shop in Al Mansoura, out of fear that he might purchase fabrics that could be sued to make protest banners. Oh yeah!

Update: ALMahalla strike is canceled. I repeat, Al Mhalla strike is canceled. All Eyes are now on Al Tahrir square! 

Update: Just spoke to Jano at Mahalla. It seems that Mohamed Al Attar and the other strike leaders had reached some kind of compromise over "food allowance" that prompted them to cancel the strike. The other leaders who didn't want to cancel the strike, like Karim Al Bheery, are reportedly sieged into their offices and not allowed to leave or talk to the workers or do anything. 

Update: Mohamed Abdel Kuddous got literally kidnapped in Downtwon while buying a newspaper. And yes, it is Mohamed Al Sharkawy- from Mlameh publishing- who got arrested from his finace's house in Sheikh Zayed. The Fun just keeps on rolling! 

Update: Kafr Al Dawar workers also abandoned the strike plans, proving once again that egyptian political activists excel at nothing but creating hype. Sweet!

Update: We can probably spin this as a success if we want to. It will go something like this:  This call for people to stay at home was so successful no one went to the streets and protested! 

Update: People, don't despair! We are victims of our own success. Our campaign to keep people at home was so successful, that no one showed to the protests. Really, we should be applauding ourselves. Job well done people, Job well done!

Update: A demonstration erupted next to the Lawyers sydnicate. The Police is trying to squash it and isn't allowing anyone access inside the syndicate's building! 

The Egyptian Opposition's sense of Irony

Any serious follower of egyptian politics must've laughed his/her ass off when they heard the news of the 6th of April strike, and not just because of the laundry list of ridiculous shit that this strike is supposed to be about. No, they would laugh for a far simpler reason than that: You see, tired of just staying home and doing nothing, the egyptian opposition has decided to take actions and demand that the people rise up by staying at home and doing nothing for a day.

A Genius way of eradicating political apathy and getting the people involved, no?

sigh… 

The 6th of April Strike

There is supposed to be some sort of strike on the 6th of April organized by Kifaya, the Karama and Wasat Parties and the workers of various government factories and ministeries. They are calling it the "Egyptian Intifiadah", cause, you know the Palestinian one worked out so well. Here is the text in English:

“All national forces in Egypt have agreed upon the 6th of April to be a public strike.
On the 6th of April, stay home, do not go out;
Don’t go to work, don’t go to the university, don’t go to school, don’t
open your shop, don’t open your pharmacy, don’t go to the police
station, don’t go to the camp;
We need salaries allowing us to live, we need to work, we want our
children to get education, we need human transportation means, we want
hospitals to get treatment, we want medicines for our children, we need
just judiciary, we want security, we want freedom and dignity, we want
apartments for youth;
We don’t want prices increase, we don’t want favoritism, we don’t want
police in plain clothes, we don’t want torture in police stations, we
don’t want corruption, we don’t want bribes, we don’t want detentions.
Tell your friends not to go to work and ask them to join the strike.”

You know, so far they had me on board, and then I read about the people that want to organize it, and what else is pissing them off:

After a meeting held and represented by Egyptian
people forces: Ghazl Al-Mahala workers (who are striking since last
year expressing their demands to increase their wages to be in line
with price hikes, their strikes were followed by a series of strikes by
many working sectors in Egypt); Al-Karama Party; Al-Wasat Party; Labor
Party; Kefaya Movement; the Bar Association; Educational Workers
Movement; Grain Mills Workers; they expect a positive
response regarding Moslem Brothers’ participation and support in the
strike.

The slogan of this campaign became wider than just
asking for better wages, whereas it included the “Political Change”:
they cited in their paper, it is against the tyranny of the regime. The
campaign is also against the regime’s foreign policy represented in
Egypt’s position towards Gaza and the Palestinian cause; exporting
natural gas to Israel with the lowest prices; strictly abiding by Camp
David Accords; and opposing Iraqi, Lebanese and Afghani resistance.

So the campaign is for our borders to be breached and our soldiers attacked, the end of peace with Israel, and in support of the Taliban, Hamas, Hezbollah. Al Qaida and Muqtada's Al Sadr's militia? A7a!! Really? Seriously?

Fuck that. I ain't playing with those assholes. I am going to my job, and so should any of you with two cells of logic or reason in your heads!

Have a lovely day! 

A free tibet protest in tebet

Autocratic regimes are all the same:

The day seems to be silent and peacefull, even boring. Until 6 o´clock.
then 100s of Tibetans gather together on the Bakhor Square. They form a
strong, silent, peacefull circle around the police who keep the middle
of the square open. Soon they call for backup. Undercoveragents, not so
difficult to recognize film the whole happening. Especially the faces.
This is one method to create fear.  Suddenly there is panic. 6 or 7
monks are arrested and driven away. Tibetans are very scared because of
the stories about the prisons and tortures. In the mean while big
numbers of policemen arrive. They drive everybody apart. But until
sunset small groups of people stay around. There are tourists, Tibetans
and Tibetan resembling spies. Apparently we stick around to long
because some Tibetans start to warn us to be careful about the
undercoverpolice who are watching us closely. We even get a note that
says we are being followed and have to be carefull about what we say.
The whole evening misty figures keep following us, even to the
restaurant and the bar.

[..]

This bunch of harmless looking policemen where just a distraction. The
undercovers were the hard men, who were also watching us closely, so
taking pictures of them was no option.

De Ja Vu, anyone? Read it all. The video is here!  

Google takes down Kefaya

The Fantastic people at google seem to have it for the egyptian opposition to the Mubarak regime. It's not bad enough that they had disabled Wael Abbas' youtube account with all the egyptian police human rights abuses and torture videos (only to have it restored again when the outrage became too big), now they have made the website for Kefaya (the egyptian movement for change), which has been around for 3 years and very active, disappear completely off of their search engine. You can't find it anywhere. Gemy alerted me to the story when he tried all possible combinations : Kefaya, Harakmasria, everything, in english and in arabic. Nothing on google. Websites that talk about Kefaya show up but not the actual website or any of its Cache. This is not the case with yahoo for example as you can see for yourself. So the question now is, what kind of a deal did Google make with the egyptian regime to remove this site from its results page? I mean, we were understandable when it came to China, but is Google officially the friend of every tyrannical regime in the world now? Is that what google now is about? 

I don't want to think so, but the evidence to the contrary is overwhelming. 

Well, they are truely our cousins now

Freedom of speech- after getting defended in Egypt- is getting attacked in Israel. There is a bill in the Israeli Knesset that wants to hold websites accountable for their talkback content (i.e. comments people leave on them). Oh..and :

According to the bill, which was drafted by MK
Israel Hasson (Israel Beiteinu) web sites could be absolved of
liability if they agree to reveal the details of posters.

So we either get persecuted for what other people have to say or we turn into snitch bitches? Fuck that. Ok, if any of the israeli readers I have here see this Israel Hasson, please give him a swift kick in the Butt from me. Me thinks he needs it. All facist idiots do. Or a smack on the head. That could work too.

Idiot! 

Victory for Free Speech

Three Cheers for the Egyptian justice system. Judge Mourad lost his case today, and the court ruled in favor of freedom of speech on the internet, with emphasis that websites should never get blocked by the government. This is a very important legal precedent, and a boon to free speech advocates everywhere. Kudos to Gamal Eid and the Hesham Mubarak legal team, and special thanks to Judge Mourad: if it wasn't for your stupidity, this wouldn't have taken place at all.

Today is a good day! 

Update: The Press release in english is here! 

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