Those damn Fowegners

I have known lots of foreigners living in Egypt throughout my life. For some reason- not that I minded of course- I was always surrounded by them. But lately I started wondering about them: What makes a foreigner- and by that I mean someone of European or American/Canadian/Australian descent because we know what the arabs and the refugees are doing here- come and live in Egypt? I mean I get the ones who visit, but why live here? So, I decided to put my anthropologist hat on, and take a closer look at the foreigners that pass by me, and make sweeping generalizations about the whole population. The results astounded me. My research-which wasn't scientific at all- has shown that there are three different types of foreigners that come to live in Egypt, each with their own habits, traits and even neighborhood. So without further ado, I present you with my findings:

1) The "I am here to make money" Foreigner: This is my favorite type of foreigner, because they come to Egypt full of purpose and they know exactly what they are doing here. This group includes foreigners who work for MNC's and Oil companies, Embassy officials, journalists who are sent here by their chief bureau, People who do whatever it is that Elijah and The Arabist do, and those are studying here because it's a way to get a specific job (like learning arabic in order to join the State Department or be a more hireable regional journalist or doing their masters in Polisci/Islamic Studies/Forced migration/whatever that will get them that cushy job in an American Think Tank or NGO). They are usually very smart and have their whole life planned ahead of them, which is refreshing to encounter in a country like Egypt. They live in Zamalek/Garden City if they don't have children and in Maadi if they do. They summer in Sharm Al Sheikh and el Gouna,  their favorite drug is Life, the desire for success and Alcohol, and their favorite egyptian book is "Beer in the Snooker club" by Wagih Ghaly- that is if they read books written by Egyptians at all. They hang out at extravagant Zamalek parties and sometimes the Ace club, they work out in the CAC campus and they know what's going on in Egypt more than the majority of Egyptians do, which is funny considering that they represent a tiny minority of foreigners here, especially compared to the "I am here to find myself" foreigner.

2) The "I am here to find myself" foreigner: Kind of self-explanatory, but let's give it a shot anyway: Those are the foreigners who tell you that they come to Egypt as part of some journey "to find themselves", but in reality are just looking to put their lives on hold for a bit and not grow up and be responsible like their fellow friends back at wherever they came from. They are usually mid twenties to early thirties, and they come to Egypt as part of a regional spiritual trip or an exchange program, and kind of never leave, mainly due to how cheap living in Egypt is compared to their life back home and the fact that here they get to retain the kind of adolescent social life they have enjoyed so much in college. They either have random jobs that offer shit pay and for which they are totally under qualified with their B.A. in 18th century Southasian philosophy (Check Nile FM, the daily news, the Ibn Khaldoun Center) or they do as every other foreigner who needs a job in Egypt does and become stringers for obscure newspapers and random news agencies, who usually don't require of you more than having the ability to write in half-decent English. Since they don't make that much money, they live either in  Mohandeseen/Agouza or in a houseboat in Kitkat, and they summer in Dahab and Nouiba3. They lead a very communal social life, with nights that boast events such as one of them coming back from a trip to Lebanon (of course) with lots of Alcohol or scoring a really good kind of Hash through their Bawab, and they will call each other and have a "gathering" whenever one of those life's little victories rears its shiny little head. They are usually major drug-fiends, so their favorite drugs include whatever you got on you, and they don't have a favorite egyptian book because they usually don't read (Paulo Coleho and Dan Brown are notable exceptions), opting instead to downloading episodes of "The Office" and "Weeds" off of the internet and watching them high as a kite. They used to hang out at the Greek Club, but ever since their new minimum charge policy of 45 pounds a person got implemented they stick to Estorel and Stella Cafe, and if they show up at L'aubergine for example they will have one beer only, unless you are paying, and then you shall discover their love for whatever is the most expensive shit that bar carries. The "I am here to find myself" foreigner has no shame, mainly because they believe themselves to be children of the Universe and that the Universe owes them something. So they will at first surprise you by their habit to ask the Universe for whatever it is they need, and when that naturally fails they will further surprise you by asking you for whatever it is they need. But other than that they are very nice people, and they eventually leave after spending between 3 to 6 years of their life in Egypt (unless you happen to marry one of them, you stupid dumb sucker), which makes them a much better breed than the final type, the " I am Egyptian" foreigner.

3) The "I am Egyptian" foreigner: That would be the type that drives me up the freakin wall, the foreigner who comes to Egypt, claims to have fallen in love with the country and wants to stay here to fix it. They exhibit certain similar traits to the "I am here to find myself" foreigner, only their condition is slightly more extreme. They usually have serious identity issues ( especially if they come from the US and super especially if from the south), and need a purpose in their lives that will give their lives meaning and piss off their parents (which is really their goal to begin with). They will go on diatribes about how this other foreigner you both know doesn't get Egypt like he/she "gets Egypt", and they will have dick measuring contests over who loves Egypt more. True story: I once encountered two such creatures once, roommates, the first said that its true that if you drink from the Nile you have to come back, while the other countered that this is not true, because if you drink from the nile, you never really leave Egypt, cause you leave your heart there. I informed both of them that they are both wrong, because as an egyptian would tell you, if you drink from the nile, you will end up in the hospital, because that shit is super polluted. Anyway… Their favorite american author is naturally Noam Chomsky, their favorite topic of conversation is the different Zionist lobbies in Washington and they say Inshallah and habiby every 20 seconds. Where they live is a tricky proposition, since they do follow a certain migration pattern that is depended on how "egyptian" they've become. They start by living in Zamalek their first year here, and then they will move to Downtown the following, citing the fakneness of Zamalek and the cultural richness of Downtown as their reasons. Their third year they move to a Houseboat in Imbaba ( they will say Imbaba with the same pride reserved for being hardcore egyptians, as if Imbaba isn't the area opposite of Seqouia), followed by a Bonus phase that not everybody takes of moving to Mukattam and discovering how awesome it is to take a Microbus to work(" Sure, I get sexually harassed and grabbed, but it only costs me 50 piasters for a ride. It's awesome"), before finally setteling in Al Haram, either in a street off of Faysal, or if they are truly willing to go the distance to prove their egyptianness, Omraneya. Their favorite Egyptian Author is naturally Ahdaf Suweif, because they are retarded and they think her orientalist drivel is actual literature (Alaa, I know she is your Aunt and everything, so please please please get her an Editor. In the Eye of the Sun is needlessly 450 pages man. There are 200 pages of her talking about her make-up and removing her hair using Halawah. I am serious man, someone needed to say it!), they will claim that their favorite singer is of course Oum Kalthoum, even though they usually don't understand what the hell she is saying, and their favorite hangout is the Ahwah (Shisha cafe) in front of their house if they are males and the houses of their middle-class Hijab-wearing egyptian housewife bestfriend if they are female. They rarely hang out with other foreigners- unless they are just like them, and even then it gets tense due to the aforementioned dick-measuring contests- and they would never be caught dead being seen in Zamalek or Maadi. Their favorite summer spot are Alexandria and Ain el Soukhnah, and they end up usually working as teachers in Language schools that just started a bullshit but overpriced American Diploma program and they needed any foreigner who look like a teacher in order to seem legit to the parents of their students. You can also identify them through their facebook albums, because at some point in their lives they passed by Gaza and took pictures with smiling Palestinian children, which they will show you while naming the children and telling you anecdotes of how cute and smart they are and how they formed a connection and told him/her that they never want them to leave, in denial of the fact that they are just one of the 30,000 foreigners that passed by those kids that year alone, and that they probably forget all about him/her ever existing, let alone their names. Oh, and their favorite drug is HASH, of course, cause, really, what's more Egyptian than that?

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments section! 

Egyptians invented Bowling

So says the Discovery channel , and the Discovery Channel is GOD when it comes to this stuff! I personally believe it. I mean, after a long day of building pyramids, wouldn't you too wanna go to a bowling bar*?

*They must've had them. We invented Beer too, BITCHES! 

For the retarded amongst you

I have tolerated the existence of the Scene and Heard blog for a while now, mainly because I think that the crowd they target don't really read or are big Paulo Coelho fans (same thing), so for them to read anything, well, that's just a positive thing. They are the same people I hated hanging out with right after I came back, whose topic of conversations range from who got photographed in what magazine, who married/left/cheated on/sleeps with who and debating the color yellow. Riveting shit, I tell ya. I kept my distance but didn't really hate them, because that's like hating a retard for making stupid decisions.I mean, they are fans of Amy Mowafi for god's sake, so they can't really be blamed for their choices in life. They simply don't know any better.

However, they did join my shit list when they actually lead to the spawning of other egyptian gossip blogs, mainly two that got sent to me today and immediately made my blood boil. The first one targets AUC students, and it's called "Gossip Girl in AUC". Yes,after the CW show targeting 12 year old girls. Seriously. They even do the whole "XOXO" shit at the end. I keep trying to think of ways to insult them, but, why bother? I would be wasting brain cells. There is an actual post about how the writer heard someone say "that's huge? how did you manage that?" and the really funny punchline is, they were talking about a bubble gum. No, for real. Can you believe it? It's Crazzzyyyyyy!!!!!!

And then for those of you who go to the second rate GUC, well, they have one for you as well, and it's called GUC Insider. Now, I am actually quite impressed by that one, because it managed to suck more than the Gossip Girl one (oh gossip girl, I said suck, imagine? That's soo funny. Giggle and blush), which I think is quite the achievement. And the sad thing is, the writer of that one quit, not because he found out that he is a lame writer, but because the GUC people got mad at him. For real. They actually got offended and thought he should discontinue. Thank you GUCians. You are not as lame as everyone says you are.

So yes, S&H, I blame YOU for this. This shit didn't happen until you people came along with your fantastic posts about nothing and people only you know and care about. I get that you attacked those other gossip blogs yourself, but that's not enough. You people have to repent or something for the shit you unleashed on the unsuspecting population. Think of the innocent bystanders. Some people who actually have a brain might stumble upon your website one day without being warned about its nature beforehand -unlike me- and end up getting a brain aneurysm from the your self-congratulating masturbatory so called writing. So please, stop, before anyone gets hurt. Think of the Children who will read this shit and actually think that being a socialite is, like, important. Because it's not. No one cares. And if you truly live in Cairo and know the intrusive nature of its people, then you would know that most people would love to go anywhere without being seen or heard by 10 people that know them. But then again I am talking about people with no insecurities and who don't give a fuck about whatever spring-fling- fuck-me-I-am-famous shit party your faggy metrosexual friends throw and invite you to next. So you might not relate. Nevermind.  

Everyone can play the crazy game

So, there is apparently a big problem in the University of Minya because of two coptic girls students: 1 drew a cartoon of the Prophet Mohamed, and the other, facing an increasingly hostile islamist roommate- drew an X over Koranic verses. When the news spread, naturally demonstrations demanding the girls' head on a stick broke out all over the University. The Coptic Church, for its part, decided to take a positive stand on the whole issue:

The Coptic church has since attempted to calm tensions, saying that
Ishaq and the student who drew the Muhammad image, Diana Samual, were
psychologically unstable and should not be held responsible for their
actions.

Yes, the church actually claimed the two girls are crazy. They didn't send them to the psychiatrist or anything. Too much of a hassle. They caused problems? They are naturally crazy.

This is all a very positive development, because the Church now is taking the same stance the Egyptian security forces does whenever they are faced with a muslim who attacks and kills Christians: He is, clearly, crazy, and it has nothing at all to do with religion. And don't you forget it!

CRAZY! 

We won’t allow Egyptian Jews in

Even really old ones. They might ask for their property that we confiscated or something. We can't have that now, can we? Israel Maztav has a very interesting commentary on this:

 These people had no intention of demanding any money or property from
the Egyptians or their government. But what if they had? What if they
wanted to move back to Egypt? The Egyptians would have said no. So why
do they complain so much when we say no to the 'Palestinians' moving
back? You can bet that those 70 and 80-year olds would at least have
been willing to live in peace. Are the Egyptians afraid of Jews moving
back? Do they feel guilty about what they did to their Jews? Do they
realize that if the Jews ever took them to an international tribunal
the Egyptian government may not have a leg on which to stand?

Dude, you are over-thinking it. They are Jews, therefore any logical rules will not be applied to them in Egypt. End of story.  

No more Whiskey at the Grand Hayatt

I got lots of e-mails on this last piece of news: A Saudi owner of an egyptian Hotel has decided ti impose his religious belief on his establishment and prevent the serving of Alcohol in his Hotel. Some people naturally applauded (moronic unappreciative of alcohol people) the very islamic decision and others freaked out and talked about how Saudi is flexing its financial muscles and spreading their brand of Islam in the region. The later group is a bunch of mornonic fuckwits who haven;t been paying attention this past 10 years: Spreading their image of Islam? Really? Anymore than they already have? 

Look around you, you fuckin Morons. They have exported it already.  They even had you believe that Niqabs and Hijab's are parts of Islamic faith, and that Qaradawy is a moderate. Let's not ignore their television sponsored activities on the different MBC's and their numerous other channels (censoring kisses, blurting out words, re-editing entire Music Videos on MTV Arabia), or the amount of piss their directly deposit into people's brains by the fantastic islamist channels such as Al Nas and Al Resalah. And please, while we are at it, let's also mention how on Rotana they have been trying for the past 5 years to make Khaliji music and dance hip and cool, and failing miserably at it, because whether they like it or not, they are not artistic people. They understand the formulaic ways in which you can make something liked by the mass population, but they don't actually get it. However, they did manage to create a market for it in Egypt, sure it's a market that requires you to have lived in one of their countries to enjoy their tribal drivel, but it's a market nonetheless. Anyway… back to the original problem.

Me, personally, I ffind no problem with what this guy did. It's his hotel. He paid for it. He could serve rotten pigs' blood as a drink for all I care. The people, at the end of the day, have the right to either go to him for service or not. It's his money at the end of the day, and if he ends up losing out because of it, hey, one less gulfie with money to waste. How is that possibly a bad thing?

Now, if you are concerned that this will lead to other Hotels refusing to serve alcohol, well, simply start drinking alcohol more. Go to Hotels and order many many bottles of Liquor. Demand that the government issue more liquor licenses and open bars in your neighborhoods and streets. Send a message: Alcohol is still popular here, so Saudis can suck it! Anything short of this is folly and a waste of time. Or you can also get totally drunk as a group and go burn the fucker down. That should send a message as well.

Forrays into 3abath

Dear all,

There is a guy called Ahmed Maher, who is a Kefaya activist and was the person responsible for operating Esra' s facebook account and the May4th group while she was in jail. Ahmed has been on the run from even before the May 4th strike, never staying in one area for too long and always hiding. I thought he was being paranoid. He wasn't. A couple of days ago as he was about to drive his car, another car stopped in front of him. When he tried to back away, three cars came up from behind him. The Boy was trapped, so he gave up and let them take him at 1 pm. They took him to an isolated location and proceeded to beat the living shit out of him for 13 consecutive hours in order for him to give them his e-mail that he regsiterd with on facebook and his password, in order to shut down that facebook group, finally letting him go a bloody mess at 2 am the next day.

Now, ignore the blatant violation of his human rights and the apparent thuggery of the government for a second, and think about the following: For a good week, an entire State Security unit- possibly with follow-up by higher command- has been hunting a guy all over cairo, for the mere fact that he has a facebook account and runs a facebook group. Let that sink in for a second, and then answer me this: Don't you feel safer already? 

This past week

I have been gone for this past week, but I wasn't absent in any way. I was running around helping an Australian friend do a report on May 4th. Here are glimpses of the days that passed by and the people that I met during.


Going to the Hesham Mubarak center is a head-trip. In front of its building there is a street market for groceries, there are 4 police soldiers always camping at the entrance, and there is no respectable sign at the door that says that this is the main legal center for the defense of human rights violations in Egypt, only one made out of cardboard and written on it with a sharpie. And the funniest thing about it is that it is managed in the most democratic of ways. Every year they have elections for the position of the Center's manager, and everyone can nominate him/herself and everyone from the previous manager to the officeboy has a vote. Oh, and no manager can run for more than two consecutive terms.


"I find that I have no choice but to support May 4th, even if I disagree with it, because it's something that the youth are demanding and doing on their own and I am all for them trying to do something. Now, despite the fact that they are going at it the wrong way, I can't stop them, nor will they listen to me, because they are sick of hearing people telling them what they can or can't do. So I support them, cause if they succeeded, it's a good thing, and if they failed, they will gain experience."

Malek, Tuesday


On Wendsday we met with Abdel Monem, the Muslim Brotherhood Blogger and Khaled Hamza, the editor if www.Ikhwanweb.com at the house of the Media Coordinator for the Muslim Brotherhood. This is the setting that I walked into: We were greeted by the house owner, who had with him this young and tiny veiled girl named Sondos, who (of course) spoke English fluently and (naturally) was one of the higher-up editors of Ikhwanweb ( "See, not all veiled women are oppressed an at home, we have young ones who know English and are in managerial positions") and who hosted us in a very posh living room and served us Tea and Cake, with members of his family periodically coming out, dressed in western clothes come out and greet us very nicely. Those people know exactly how to handle the western media.

To be fair to them though, they have been extremely nice and hospitable to me, despite knowing my beliefs and stands on them, which is a cause enough to respect them. And despite the fact that I completely disagree with almost everything they stand for, they are getting their human rights violated in this country on daily basis, which any human being will tell you isn't right. And in case I was never clear on this before, I am for them having the right to form their own political party and run in elections. Firstly because it's everybody's right to have political representation and secondly because maybe that will be the jolt that will move the anti-Ikhwan crowd from their apathy and slumber. Maybe.

One thing though I am confused about, so Khaled if you are reading this, can you tell me why in the name of Zeus' Butthole was there a decorated Christmas tree- in May nonetheless- in the corner of the room with ornaments on them? And why did the ornaments have pictures of veiled girls plastered on them? Please, I would like to know.


" You know, the State Security people one day decided to give me a "humanitarian visit" to see my very sick father. So the night before my visit, a squadron of SS soldiers arrived at our building at midnight and occupied the building, and forced themselves on my parents' house and stayed there for 8 hours till I arrived at 8 am, in the name of securing the building, since you know, I am a dangerous visitor and all. When I found out I flipped out on the accompanying officer, asking him why would any decent human being do this, and of course there was no answer. My mother came out, gave me this look and said "Damn you" . That killed me. I think that messed me up more than all the time I've spent in prison."

Abdel Monem, Wendsday


Khaled: I spoke to your friends, Elijah and Issandr, about you. And you know, they both said that you are extreme.

Me: Well, of course they would say that. I am not surprised at all!

Khaled: Why? Is it because they are leftists?

Me: No. It's because they are foreigners here and their work warrants them to have a good relationship with you, and I am not sure that's possible with them publicly endorsing my views. Don't you think?


Thursday was the first of May, the Egyptian worker day. On that Glorious day the new Mubarak directives were released: A 30% increase in the wages of government employees as a solution to the current problem. Because, you know, the rising prices only affect government employees, and a 30% increase on their 30$ a month salary will really help improve their lives, and allow them to buy cars and houses and maybe save some money for Lil Mo's college fund. And the way he said it too, man, talk about classic: "They told me we will raise the workers 10%, I refused and said it has to be higher. They said ok, 20%, I said, NO, it has to be higher. They said we can make it 25%, but we really have no way to cover it under the current budget, I said NO, NOT A PENNY UNDER 30%". And this, ladies and gentlemen, how you know the mark of a great leader. A great leader doesn't care about the budget, the economy or reality, he only cares about the goal he set in his imagination despite what the actual circumstances may allow. All Hail Hosny.

Thursday was also the day we met Bilal, the kid that went up to the PM and demanded –to thunderous applause- that he release the April 6th detainees. He is very young, very skinny, with intelligence just poking out of his eyeballs. I didn't know that he was a member of the Ghad Party, hell, I didn't even know el Ghad party still had members. The interesting thing about him though, is that he is from the Post Ayman Nour generation: i.e. he joined after Nour went to Prison. That's a believer in a party and its ideals, not a leader and his charisma, which is a concept that is lost on the middle-east for some reason.


"Oh, my parents didn't think highly of what I did at all. I went home to find that my parents burned half of my books. However, after my mother talked to the neighbors, who surprised her with their messages of support to what I said and did, she changed her mind. She looked at me and said "Bilal, you know, you and your friends may perish for standing up to what you believe, but don't worry, Egypt will always remain Bilal!". So I looked at her and said "That's all very nice mom, but couldn't you have figured this out before burning my books?""

Bilal, Thursday


A state of uncertainty dominated the media scene on Friday, on whether or not anything was gonna happen on May 4th. You see, it's kind of hard to predict the outcome of a strike that has no clear organizers or participants, with everything operating in a very anarchist manner. In order to combat such uncertainty and confusion, the media invented a new political entity that is behind all of that is happening. What did they call it? "The Facebook Youth movement", I kid you not. So now the Facebook Youth movement is the new political player in town, with newspapers running stories on how they are calling for this or demanding that, which is basically them making a story from any asshole creating a group calling for something on the Egypt network. This reminded me of when they started running stories on the new gods of politics, media and activism: "The Egyptian Blogger Movement". Remember that shit? When they used to run stories on how "The Egyptian bloggers called for this or organized that", like we are some sort of monolithic entity that actually agrees on everything and is organized and has goals and leadership. I kept asking every blogger I know to introduce me to the coordinator, the supreme leader or even the spokesman of "The Egyptian Bloggers", but they would be as stumped as I was.

My suggestion? We create a facebook group called "The leadership office of the Facebook Youth Movement" and I will be their spokesmen, and someone else can be their supreme leader. I am sure the Media will jump on us in 30 seconds, hosting us and asking us of our goals and demands and what we have in store next. Oh boy, I would mess with them for hours!


"Do I like this government? Of course. It's not a bad government at all. From the security side of things, they are great. They have some problems from the economical side of things, but really, who doesn't? Oh no, I find nothing to complain about when it comes to this government. They keep us safe and secure. God Bless them!"

A Taxi Driver, Friday


Saturday was the day we were slated to meet the Supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mahdy Akef. It wasn't what I expected. His personal office is tiny, like literally smaller than my office, and he gives this image of this very kind and sweet old man, a total grandpa type. Since I was only the translator for my friend, I didn't ask any of the questions I wanted to ask. My personal impression of him, personally, is that he is a very smart and astute man, and his brain operates perfectly despite his old age. Oh and very polite. All freaking MB members are very very polite.


"Why are we joining this strike when we didn't join the last time? Well, we are joining because that's what the people asked us to do. There is a national demand for us to join, and we listen to the people, so we have to comply."

Mahdy Akef, Saturday


Later on that day I received an SMS from Sharqawy's fiancé. State Security has been tailing and harassing them for 3 days, and she needed him to hide somewhere until May 4th is over, so she asked me. I've known this kid for more than 2 years now, and I can safely say that I've never seen him in the state he was in. He embodied controlled rage and weariness in a way that is impossible to describe. He told me that they refuse to leave him alone because he managed to identify the State Security Officer that tortured him at the police station, and mentioned that over the phone and now the Officer knows and is scared. So he is harassing him in every way he can, hoping that Sharqawy would have enough and flee the country.


"Those Motherfuckers. You know what they did? They blindfolded me and then took my wallet and looked in it. I could hear them naming the different types of ATM and credit cards I had in there. They then looked into the money pocket where I had about 6 K worth of dollars and Egyptian pounds on me, and then they loudly said ' you have 270 egyptian pounds in this wallet. Take it' and put it in my hand, but didn't return my wallet immediately, but did so later. I didn't figure out why until I came out. The wallet had a piece of paper that had my ATM pin code on it. That Bank account in my business account, and it had over 14 K in it. By the time I was out, the Balance was 0. All the money was withdrawn. And now I am out, I am broke, and owe people money. They are the scum of the earth."

Sharqawy, Sunday @ 2 am.


" Today is the Day Egypt was reborn!"

Al Ahram Newspaper headline on Sunday, marking the President's 80th Birthday! 


Sunday, well, you could read all about it here. So instead let me tell you this unfortunately 100 % true story:

Magdy Hussein- the leader of the Islamic Labor party- called Zakareya Azmy- The President's Chief of Staff and an MP- on the phone one week before the strike and told him that he is organizing a committee to run Egypt after the people's revolution will force Mubarak to abdicate on May 4th and that if he wants a seat on it he is welcome to join them. Not a word was mentioned of Azmy's reply though, although it is widely believed that this was due to Aazmy being too busy rolling on the floor laughing his ass off to reply to Magdy.


Monday, ahh Monday.

Monday was the day the Egyptian press gloated over the failure of the strike, with many of them claiming that the 30% raise aborted it. Monday was also the first day that Mubarak announced that there is no way to finance the 30% raise. The parliament, that same day, passed measure to finance the raise, by raising the prices of car gas by 35 %, solar by 40% and the taxes on cigarettes by 20%. The ripple effect of those increases will fuck us of a lot of money for the entire year, and one has to openly wonder if a 30% raise for a segment of the population that is less than 10% warrants collective punishment for the entire population. Hell, now even the government employees are more screwed. The new prices were enforced starting from 10 pm. Under my house there is a gas station and at 11 pm, the fighting started. And it's just the beginning. The people, as usual, will turn on each other instead of the government, and life will suck for all of us all around.


"The rich will be the ones paying for the workers raise"

The headline in RosealYusef, a government sponsored rag today 

"This guy I work with, while riding the Micobus with me, kept curisng Mubarak today. His government salary has increased by 37 pounds, but now the Microbus' fare has doubled, so now he has to pay extra 2 pounds a work day. If he works for 20 days a months, he is already worse off by 3 pounds. And what kills is that he raised the prices right after he announces the raise. This Mubarak guy, he has no tact!"

The Taxi Driver I rode with to work today. Oh, and by the way, the ride now costs 30 pounds, up from the standard 20. Increased Gas prices, baby!  


I do have to admire this government's cunning though. If people connect between the hikes and the government wage raises, not a single person will dare to support a strike or demand a higher wage again. And what a perfect excuse to implement price increases that you wanted to implement for ages then say it's a way to pay off the huge raise you gave the workers. And here we thought we were going to give him a Birthday he wouldn't forget on Sunday. Ha, he is the one who made the following Monday unforgettable. Thanks Mubarak for doing this to us on your birthday. What a way to make us celebrate it with you. Motherfucker!

Things have changed

A Cairo University Student faces off PM Nazif, and gets arrested for only half an hour after doing that. He didn't go to jail, didn;t get analy raped and nor was his entire family rounded up and sent to jail. Life's little victories, indeed!

We might have another border breach coming

Hamas is threatening a repeat of the AlAreesh invasion, and Nora is reporting tensions on the Egypt Gaza borders, with the egyptians over there stocking on food so they wouldn't be left starving like last time!

Hey, egyptian army and security forces, how about you show half of the enthusiasm you show for silencing freedom of speech of the people in protecting the borders? Be fuckin useful for change!

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… 

Fisked

This is a fantastic story that could only happen in Egypt. Robert Fisk doscoverd that his book on the life and times of Saddam was selling really well in Egypt, which was strange since he never wrote one. So Fisk had to come to Egypt and do some investiagtive journalism to find out who was behind it, unaware of what awaited him here in the land of the pharaohs. You have to read this. It's awesome!

Having HIV in Egypt

This is really messed up:

The arrests began in October 2007, when police stopped two men having
an altercation on a street in central Cairo. When one of them told the
officers that he was HIV-positive, police immediately took them both to
the Morality Police office and opened an investigation against them for
homosexual conduct. The two men told human rights defenders that they
were slapped and beaten for refusing to sign statements the police
wrote for them. They spent four days in the Morality Police office
handcuffed to an iron desk, sleeping on the floor. Police later
subjected the two men to forensic anal examinations designed to “prove”
that they had engaged in homosexual conduct.
 
 
Human Rights Watch has documented that such examinations
to detect “evidence” of homosexuality are not only medically spurious
but constitute torture.
 
 
Police then arrested two more men because their
photographs or telephone numbers were found on the first two detainees.
Authorities subjected all to HIV tests without their consent. All four
are still in detention, pending prosecutors’ decision on whether to
bring charges of homosexual conduct. The first two arrestees, who
reportedly tested HIV-positive, are being held in a Cairo hospital,
handcuffed to their beds and only unchained for an hour each day. 

Meanwhile, police apparently placed the apartment where one of the men
had lived under surveillance. On November 20, two days after a new
tenant had assumed the lease, police raided the apartment and detained
four other men.
 
 
According to the arrest report, the men were fully dressed
and were not engaging in any illegal acts at the time of the arrests.
However, all were charged with homosexual conduct, apparently solely on
the basis that they were found in a dwelling formerly occupied by one
of the earlier detainees.
 
 
People who have spoken to the four men since their arrest
told Human Rights Watch that a non-commissioned officer in the police
station beat one detainee on the head several times. Police allegedly
forced the four men to stand in a painful position for three hours with
their arms lifted in the air. They were provided no food, drink, or
blankets during their first four days of detention. Authorities also
tested these men for HIV without their consent. One of the men
reportedly said that the prosecutor, when informing him that he had
tested positive for HIV, told him: “People like you should be burnt
alive. You do not deserve to live.” 

I am speechless! Read more here! 

We lost a ship??

How could anyone just lose a freakin ship? Ships don;t just disappear, right?

Your Mental Health break

This was sent to me by the person who took it, in the Faculty of Pharmacy in Alexandria. The sender asked me that question:

Question : if this is the attitude of workers who work inside
a university with literally thouthands of students passing every hour ,
what happens in real-life streets?

Hey man, cleanliness is next to godliness! 

Send Money to Gaza

They need it to buy Satelite Receivers!

Seen in Egypt- Education

 

Boy, things have changed since my days. 

Seen in Egypt- Honesty

It's a place for you to send your "Beast"  for the summer.

Hey, at least they are honest! 

Seen in Egypt 4- ASS Trade

ASS for International Trade, anyone?