The Egyptian Bill of Rights

Here is my suggestion for the Egyptian Bill of Rights, which I have spent the past week discussing with many civil forces and groups, and has managed to get a lot of support for it. The Free Egyptians party adopted it as their position, so dida number of other civil movements and forces as well, including “Together for a Civil State”. I welcome any other party, civil force or movement that aims to push it as well. This is not about Credit, and whoever wants the credit or has been working on it in parallel, please be my guest and take it. I just want to see this secured, and have it as an inalienable and irrevocable part of our constitution. I have explained the rationale for them here, and you will find the full text below, which is copied and pasted from the Universal declaration for Human rights, which Egypt is a signatory of. Please review and let me know what you think. This document is open for discussion.

  • All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
  • Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
  • Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion;
  • Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
  • Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
  • Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
  • Everyone has the right to education.
  • No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  • All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
  • Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
  • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
  • Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
  • Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense.
  • No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.
  • Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
  • Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
  • The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

مرة أخيرة

في العلوم السياسية، هناك معضلة فلسفية بشأن مبدأ دعم الديمقراطية. وقد نتج عنها مناقشات لا تعد و لا تحصى. المعضلة تكمن في السؤال التالي: هل دعم الديمقراطية يعني تبني أي قرارات تصدر عن الأغلبية حتى لو كانت تلك القرارات تعني تدمير الديمقراطية المشار إليها؟ أم أنه يعني التأكد من إستمرار العملية الديمقراطية حتى لو كان ذلك على عكس رغبة الأغلبية؟ إذا ضللت الفرق هنا، دعني أسوق لك مثالا من المنطقة، من الشرق الأوسط. الجزائر 1991

في عام 1991, كانت المحاولة الأولى الحقيقية للقيام بانتخابات ديمقراطية في الجزائر. وقتها ترشح حزب الجبهة الاسلامية للانقاذ على أرضية مفادها أنه لا ديمقراطية في الإسلام، وأنهم بمجرد وصولهم إلى سدة الحكم سيلغون الانتخابات الديمقراطية المستقبلية. وقد كان، صوتت الأغلبية بالفعل لحزب سيوقف العمل بكل أشكال التصويت!، مما أدي بالجيش أن يلغي الانتخابات على الفور، ما بدوره بدأ حربا أهلية عصفت بالبلد في أتون الفوضى لسنوات عدة. الآن إذا اعدنا طرح السؤال، من كان على حق؟ هل كنت تدعم فوز حزب الجبهة حتى لو كان ذلك يعني أنه لن تكن هناك إنتخابات ديمقراطية أخرى للأبد، وبالتالي لا ضوابط ولا موازين على حكمهم؟ أم أنك تعتقد أن إستمرارية الديمقراطية أهم للحياة السياسية والأجيال القادمة لهذا البلد، حتى لو كان ذلك يفسد على الأغلبية الحالية رغبتها؟ معضلة لطيفة أليس كذلك؟ لا يكف الناس عن النقاش حولها.

الأن دعني أخبرك لماذا إشتركت في الثورة بالأساس : بجانب التخلص من نظامنا القمعي الحبيب، كل ما أردت من الثورة هو وثيقة الحقوق المصرية، نافذة نهائية ولا يجوز صرفها أو إيقاف العمل بها أيا كان من بيده السلطة. أردت حق حرية الرأي والتعبير بكل اشكاله (الفني وغيره)، الحق في التجمع السلمي،حق الحرية الدينية، حق المساواة بين جميع المواطنين في الحق والحريات (بغض النظر عن الجنس، الدين، العرق، النسب، اللغة، الأصل الاجتماعي أو الرأي السياسي), الحق في المعلومات والشفافية لتبقى حكومتنا دائما تحت الرقابة وقابلة للمحاسبة، الحق في عدم الخضوع للتعذيب أو القسوة أو أي معاملة غير إنسانية، الحق في حماية متساوية من القانون والأمن، الحق في عدم التعرض للاعتقال أو الإحتجاز أو النفي العشوائي،أو إسقاط الجنسية بغير حق، الحق في إن يعتبر المرء بريئا حتى تثبت ادانته، الحق في محاكمة عادلة أمام هيئة قضائية مدنية نزيهة، يتمتع الجميع أمامها بالتمثيل القانوني، وأخيرا الحق في التعليم. من أجل هذه الحقوق خاطرت بحياتي وبدني، وهي ليست بحقوق جديدة أو أفكار مستحدثة، كلها وأكثر منها يمكن الرجوع إليها في الاعلان العالم لحقوق الانسان

عندما تبدأ ثورة، فإنك لا تقوم بها لتستجدي هذه الحقوق، وانما عليك انتزعها عنوة ممن حرموك اياها. تلك الحقوق هي الركيزة لأي مجتمع أو دولة ديمقراطية متقدمة، وهي لا تقبل الجدال أو النقاش، وملعون أنا إن وصل البرلمان احد يمنعني تلك الحقوق أو يفاوضني أو يساومني عليها. معذرة. أنا أريد هذه الحقوق أن تكن جزء من الدستور، بغض النظر عمن ينتخب للحكم. ولا يسمح بأي حال لمن وصل إلى السلطة أن يعبث بتلك الحقوق أو يغيرها، وله كامل الحرية في أن يفعل ما يريد بباقي مواد الدستور. لكن هذا منطقي أنا، ولك أن تتفق معي أو تختلف بقدر ما تشاء. ما أريد مناقشته الآن، هو لماذا يجب أن يخرج الناس إلي مظاهرات 27 مايو. لن اطلب من أن تذهب من أجل مطالبي، مع أن ذلك سيكون بادرة لطيفة، ولا لأجل مطالب المتظاهرين (يعلم الله أن هناك 7 قوائم مختلفة من المطالب يتم تداولها حاليا، والبعض سيذهب بدون قائمة واضحة من المطالب الخاصة بهم)، لأن المتظاهرين غير منظمين ومنقسمين ويئسوا من الحديث مع أي حد إلا مع أنفسهم في الوقت الراهن، ولا أطالبك بالذهاب للدفاع عن الثورة. لا، أنا اليوم أريد التحدث إلى الأغلبية الصامتة عما يهمهم: الإقتصاد، الأمن والاستقرار، ولماذا يجب عليهم، أكثر ممن سواهم، أن يذهبوا إلى مظاهرات 27 مايو، لأنه حقا وصدقا إن كانت تلك النقاط الثلاثة أكثر ما يهمك فاسمح لي إن أخبرك أنك في مأزق شديد، وكما كان الحال أيام مبارك، ليس بسببنا. عفوا

أعلم أنك ستختلف بشدة، فدعني اطرح عليك حجتي ثم قرر بنفسك، اتفقنا؟

عن الاقتصاد :

الآن السرد المتداول حول الإقتصاد يجري كالتالي: البلد تجاوزت حافة الهاوية، والآن في سقوط حر سريع، كل الاحصائيات تشير إلى كارثة محققة، إحتياطي الغذاء سينفذ بنهاية الشهر، ومتظاهري التحرير مازالوا مختطفين عجلة الانتاج ومحتفظين بها في التحرير مغطاه بأعداد منهم! ا ليس هذا مايقولون؟ حسنا، دعنا نسرد الحقيقة: الحكومة الانتقالية والمجلس العسكري فشلوا خلال 4 أشهر حتى الآن في أن يقدموا لك ما يمكن أن يشبه خطة إقتصادية عاجلة فيما عدا ، الجملة الشهيرة، “المظاهرات لا بد أن تتوقف”. وقد دأبوا، بإحصاءات مذهلة، أن يخبروك بمدى المصيبة التي تواجهنا، من دون أن يعطوك مرة خطة عمل واضحة كيف ينوون انقاذنا! (بالمناسبة، أنا لا أري فارقا بين تأكيد طنطاوي لنا أن أمة فقيرة، يعيش فيها 70% تحت خط الفقر وما بين تصريح مبارك الشهير : “احنا بلد موارده محدوده، أأكلكم منين كلكم؟”). تغاضى الآن عن قصة “سينفذ مخزوننا الإستراتيجي من القمح بنهاية الشهر” وهي القصة التي ظل المجلس العسكري يرددها الآن لأربعة أشهر، ودعنا نركز على المشكلة الحقيقية: أين معونة الطواريء – المكونة من مال وكوبونات غذاء – المخصصة لأقل الطبقات في مصر، والتي من المفترض أن تساعدهم خلال الأشهر القادمة حتى الانتخابات؟ أين صناديق التحفيز المخصصة لمساعدة الأعمال المتوسطة والصغيرة لعبور الفترة الانتقالية؟ ماذا؟ نحن لا نملك أي أموال؟ هل رأيت ميزانيتنا؟ لا أحد منكم فعل. أنت لا تدري ما هي مصروفاتنا ومدفوعاتنا، لأننا ممنوعون حتى اليوم من مراجعة حسابات بلادنا. أين المبادرات الجديدة التي حفزها التحرير نحو تكوين العديد من الشركات الناشئة والمبدعة؟ ماذا عن السياحة؟ كيف لا توجد مبادرة حكومية يتيمة لتشجيع السياحة تستفيد من الروح الجميلة التي نشأت في التحرير؟ لماذا لا توجد حفلات تحتفي بالحرية المكتسبة، معارض أو أحداث سياحية؟ لماذا على سبيل المثال، لا يوجد متحف ل 25 يناير، للناس لتحتفل بمصر الجديدة الحرة؟ هل قام سعادة وزير السياحة المحترم – صاحب مصنع مربى الفراولة سابقا – بتقديم أي مبادرة مثيلة؟

وماذا عن العقبة الحقيقية في طريق كل الاستثمارات ومشاريع النمو الاقتصادي التي نتمناها أن تبدأ في مصر : الفساد المؤسسي؟ لماذا لم يعالج أو حتى يشار إليه حتى الآن؟ ولماذا تروج لخرافة أن رجال الأعمال مستهدفين؟ إن وجود 7 أو 8 فاسدين منتفعين مقربين للنظام السابق في السجن ليس أبدا بالأمر الذي يحول الدولة إلى كيان ضد الاستثمار ورجال الأعمال، بل ضد الفساد العلني الرهيب. أنت يا راجل الأعمال الشريف، تريد أن تبرئ ساحتك وألا تنضم إلى من نفوا أنفسهم إختيار يا من ال منصور أو المغربي أو الحمقى الأخرين الذين حولوا مليارات إلى دبي؟ هاكم فكرة : تجمعوا وإبدأوا مبادرة للحقيقة والمصالحة. نحن ندرك أن الأغلبية العظمى منكم ليسوا فاسدين، لكنكم كنتم محاطين بثقافة فاسدة لم تكن لتسمح لكم بعمل أي شيء من دون دفع 18 رشوة مختلفة. نحن نفهم ذلك، لأننا جميعا دفعنا مثلكم رشاوي للحصول على أي خدمة عامة بشكل لائق. حسنا، لقد دفعتم رشوي فيما مضى، لكن الآن لحسن الحظ القانون المصري واضح: لو كنت قد دفعت رشوة وقمت بالابلاغ عن الواقعة، سيذهب هو إلى السجن وليس أنت. فلماذا لا توحدون أنفسكم الآن وتقدمن بلاغات رسمية ضد كل من إضطررتم إلى دفع رشوة له من قبل لتخليص أعمالكم، وننظف البلد مرة واحدة وأخيرة؟ أنتم لن تتحملوا أي مسؤلية قانونية، وفي الوقت ذاته ستقدمون خدمة جليلة للبلد بفضح الفاسدين في كل الوزارات و المحليات و المصالح الحكومية وتطهيرها كلها دفعة وحدة. تخيل ذلك. تطهير كامل من كل المرتشين في كل المصالح الحكومية، وبأيديكم. ستصبحون أبطالا على الفور، ولن تضطرون مرة أخرى، أبدا، إلى دفع رشوة لضمان سير أعمالكم! إنه ربح مضاعف! و إن كنتم لازلتم في خوف من المسؤلية القضائية إطلبوا العفو والحماية، وهذا جزء المصالحة! أما عن الحكومة، فإن كانت جادة حقا في تطهير البلد من الفساد وتهدئة مجتمع المستثمرين، كان عليها إقتراح ذلك، لكنهم لم يفعلوا، يجب عليك أنت إذن أن تطالب بذلك.

عن الامن :

فلنبدأ بأبسط الأسئلة: أين الشرطة بالضبط؟ هل تعلم أنه غير بعض الوجوه الذي ظهرت في الشوارع لتنظيم المرور، لم تظهر الشرطة لتؤدي واجبها؟ هل تعلم إنه ماعدا في الضواحي الأنيقة لوسط القاهرة (حيث يتجمع ويتحرك معظم الصحفيين الأجانب والإعلام المحلي) لم تظهر الشرطة بعد؟ وحينما تظهر ترفض التصرف؟ هل تدري أن هناك محافظات بأكملها لا أثر للشرطة فيها على الإطلاق بعد الثورة؟ وأن الناس هناك لا زالوا يحمون أنفسهم بأنفسهم؟ ولن اتحدث عن حقيقة أنه في حين قتل ما يزيد عن 800 مصري في الثورة، لم يداً حتى الآن إلا فرد واحد من الشرطة !، وقد حوكم غيابيا لأنه لا يستطيعون العثور عليه، لأن التعسف وجرائم القتل التي ترتكبها الشرطة لا يبدو أنها تضايقك، مع أنهم لا يهتمون ولا يفرقون بين من يقتلون.

لا، لن اتحدث عن ذلك كله، فلنتحدث بالأرقام: الشرطة هي الجهاز الوحيد في الحكم الذي تلقى زيادة في المرتبات، مرتين ومع ذلك لا يذهبون للعمل !. إذا افترضنا مرتباً مبالغ في تحقيره، قل 1000 جنيه لفرد الشرطة (اخذا في الإعتبار تدني مرتب أمناء الشرطة وتضخم مرتبات اللواءات)، إضرب ذلك في 1.5 مليون فرد شرطة، يكون الناتج 1.5 مليار جنيه مصري، في الشهر، أي حوالي 6 مليارات جنيه مصري في الأربعة أشهر السابقة فقط، نظير عدم قيامهم بعملهم! إذا أخذنا ذلك في الإعتبار جنبا إلى كوننا مفلسين وميزانيتنا تنزف كمان يقولون، فإن صرف هذه الكمية من الأموال على أفراد لم يكونوا يقوموا بعملهم قبل الثورة، وبعدها يرفضون القيام به، بالتأكيد سيبدو لك غير مقبول. أفراد الشرطة يقبضون مرتباتهم ليقوم بعملهم، فإذا كانوا يرفضون القيام به فلا يجب دفع مرتباتهم حتى يقوموا به، بالإضافة إلى إنه يجب مجازاتهم على ذلك. من ناحية المبدأ، لقد أقسمو قسما على الموت في سبيل تطبيق القانون و الدفاع عنك، وهاهم يحنثون بذاك القسم، وهو ما يقع تحت بند الخيانة. إلى متى تنوي أن تقبل ذلك وأن تتوسل اليهم ليقوموا فقط بعملهم؟ الى متى ستحتمل ذلك؟

عن الاستقرار :

الاستقرار يأتي من الشفافية، من فهم ما يجري حولك، وإلى أين تتجه البلاد، وهو ما لا نفهمه. نحن لا نعرف تاريخا لإقامة الانتخابات، عمليا قد يكون أقل من 100 يوم، حتى الآن. نحن لا نعرف شيئا عن سياسات الحكومة ولا عما كانت تفعل مختلف الوزارات في الأشهر الأربعة الماضية. لماذا لا يتضح لنا حتى الآن إن كانت حكومتنا تاخذ اجراءات في مواجهة المشاكل التي توجهنا؟ لماذا ليس هناك تقرير أسبوعي في كل الجرائد عن المواضيع التي تعامل معها المجلس العسكري والحكومة الانتقالية هذا الأسبوع وماذا على أجندتهم للأسبوع المقبل؟ لماذا يجب علينا أن ننتظر أمام الفيسبوك حتى يصدروا لنا بيانا غامضا وفي بعض الأحيان مناقض تماما لبيان سابق؟ وبما أننا نتحدث عن ذلك، لماذا سمح لهذا وهذا أو هذا أن يحدث؟ كيف يكون هناك إستقرار في ضوء ما سابق كله؟

 

وسؤالي الأخير، بعد مراجعة كل هذا، كيف يمكنك أن تظل ساكنا ولا تفعل شيئا؟ كيف لا تكون أنت بنفسك من ينظم مظاهرة الجمعة المقبلة في التحرير؟ لقد كنت مخلصا، لقد كنت إلى جانب المنطق. لقد أثمت مرات ومرات أنك سلبي للغاية، وأنك مبالغ في الرضا، وأنك مفرط في الرغبة في التنازل بلا سبب، وأنك رافض بشدة لترك الكنبة والوقوف من أجل أي شيء. وأنك لست براغب في القتال من أجل مستقبل بلدك التي تحبها، وقد تقبلت كل ذلك، واخترعت الحجة بعد الحجة، لشهور عديدة، ولا شيء بعد. كيف لا تكون غاضبا ؟؟؟

هذه الجمعة، أنا ذاهب إلى التحرير، وللمرة الأخيرة. وأنا ذاهب لأني أؤمن أن مطالبي عادلة ومشروعة. مطالبك ليست أقل شرعية، وحق لك أن تراها نافذة. لذلك، اذا كنت قد ذهبت للتحرير خلال أيام الثورة الثمانية عشر، ثم توقفت بعد ذلك، فالوقت قد حان لتذهب مرة أخرى، و تعلن مطالبك. وإذا لم تكن قد ذهبت قط للتحرير، وكنت جزءا من الأغلبية الصامتة التي لا تبغي شيئا إلا الأمن والاستقرار و الإزدهار الاقتصادي، فإنك، وأكثر من أي أحد آخر، يجب أن تذهب للتحرير هذه الجمعة، ولمرة أسمعهم صوتك ولا تبق صامتا بعد كل شيء. إذهب مرة واحدة، وخذ معك كل أصدقائك ممن يفكرون مثلك، ولتر إن كان ذلك لن يحقق مطالبك في أقرب وقت ممكن. إن صبرك قد اتخذ من المسلمات، وكل التماساتك وقعت على آذانا صماء على الجانبين. لقد حان الوقت لك أنت أيضا أن تتخذ موقفا.

Thanks to Amy Ash, Waleed Nada and Ahmed Omar for assisting in translating this post. 

One Last Time

In political science, there is a philosophical conundrum regarding the concept of “being for democracy”, and it has started 6 million thousand debates. Underlying that conundrum is the following question: Does being for Democracy mean supporting whatever decision the majority takes, even if it means the destruction of said democracy? Or does it mean supporting and ensuring the survival of the democratic process, even if it’s against the will of the majority? If the difference eludes you, let me give you an example, from right here in the middle-east. Algeria in 1991.

Now, in 1991, there was the first real attempt for democratic elections in Algeria, and the Islamic Salvation Front- an Islamist party- ran on the platform that there is no democracy in Islam, and that the moment they will seize power, they will cancel future democratic elections. And they won, the majority actually voted in a party that would end all voting, which led the army to immediately cancel the election, which in turn started a civil war that plunged the country into chaos for a number of years. Now, who is right here? Would you support the ISF’s win, even if it means that there will be no more democratic elections ever, and thus no checks and balances on their power? Or do you believe that democracy’s survival is more important for the well-being and the future generations that will come to this country, even if it subverts the will of the majority? A fun little conundrum, eh? People go on and on about it.

Now, let me tell you why I joined the revolution in the first place: Besides getting rid of our past lovely authoritarian regime, all I wanted out of all this was an Egyptian bill of rights, unalienable and irrevocable no matter who is in Power. I wanted the right to free speech, the right to free expression (artistic and otherwise), the right to peaceful assembly, the right to religious freedom, the right of equality between all citizens in terms of rights & freedoms (irrespective of Gender, religion, race, lineage, language, social origin or political opinion), the right to information and transparency to keep our government always in check, the right not to be subjugated to torture, or cruel or inhumane treatment, the right for equal protection of the law and security, the right not to be arbitrarily arrested, detained, exiled or have your citizenship stripped from you, The right to be considered Innocent until proven guilty and to be tried by a fair and impartial civil tribunal, where everyone has legal representation, and finally the right to education. Those are the rights I risked life and limb for, and they are not new or novel ideas, and you can find them all, and many more, in the Universal Declaration for Human Rights, right here.

Now, when you start a revolution, you don’t have a revolution to plead for those rights: you have one to forcefully take them from those who denied them to you. Those rights are the foundation for any advanced democratic society or country, and they are not up for debate or discussion, and I will be damned if I will have someone elected in parliament denying me those rights or trying to negotiate or barter over them. I am sorry. I want in my constitution those rights, irrespective of who gets voted into power. And those who get into power should not be allowed to tamper with them or change them in any way, but are allowed to do whatever they want to the constitution after that. I don’t care if those elected state that we will be a Fascist country with Scientology as the source of all legislation, for whatever they will do, or whatever authoritarian/ sectarian/racist/sexist legislation that they will try to enforce on us in the name of security/ public morality/whatever will not be able to ever interfere with our blood-earned rights. As long as we have those rights in our constitution, we should be ok on the long run, and never be abused by a leader or a regime again.

But that’s my reason, and you can agree or disagree with it as much as you want. What I would like to discuss now, is why you, the general public, should go to the May 27 protests. Now, I won’t ask you to do so for my demands (although it would be nice if you did), nor for those of the protesters ( and god knows there are 7 different demands circulating right now, and many people who are going without a clear set of demands of their own) who are disorganized and divided and have given up on talking to anyone but themselves at this point, nor even to go there to defend the revolution. No, I want to talk to the silent Majority today regarding their set of interests: The Economy, Security and Stability, and why more than anyone, they should be going to May 27 to protest, because , seriously, if those are the three things you care about the most, well, you are getting screwed, and – just like the days of Mubarak-not by us! Sorry!

I know you will beg to differ, so let me present my argument, and then make up your mind. Deal?

On the Economy:

Now, the narrative regarding the economy has been as follows: The country is going downhill fast, all the statistics point to impending doom, we will go through our food reserves by the end of this month and the Tahrir Protesters have continued to hijack the wheel of production and are hiding it in Tahrir and covering it with protests. Does that sound about right? Ok, how about we tell the truth: The Transitional government and the SCAF for four months now have failed to present to you anything that resembled an emergency economic plan other than, well, the protests must stop. And they have repeatedly informed you with fantastic statistics about how screwed we are without once giving you a clear action plan as to how they plan to save it (And by the way, I see no difference in Tantawi asserting to us that we are a poor nation where 70% live under the poverty line without a clear plan or a notion of a plan as to how they will remedy that, and Mubarak’s famous response of “we are a country with limited resources; where am I supposed to feed you all from?” in an interview). Never mind for a minute that the whole “we will run out of our strategic wheat reserves at the end of this month” statement has been said by the SCAF every month for the past 4 months and it never happened, and let’s focus on the real issue: Where is the emergency aid package – consisting of money and food stamps- to egypt’s lowest economic classes designed to get them through the next few months until elections are held? Where is the stimulus package designed to aid small and mid-size businesses to also get through the transitional period? What? We have no money? Have you seen our Budget? None of you have. You don’t know what our revenues or expenses are, because we are not allowed to review the country’s finances until this day. Where are the new initiatives that they can spearhead and harness the positive energy that Tahrir created into creating many start-up and innovative companies? What about Tourism? How come there hasn’t been a single government initiative to encourage Tourism based on the fantastic goodwill that got generated in Tahrir? Why aren’t there freedom concerts being planned, touristic events- or even, Gee, I don’t know, a Jan25 Museum- to have people celebrate the new and free Egypt? Has Our Esteemed Minister of Tourism- whose previous job was owning a strawberry jam factory- proposed a single such initiative?

And what about the real hindrance to all businesses and economic developmental projects that wish to start in Egypt: institutional corruption? Why haven’t you tackled it or demanded it being addressed yet? And why do you perpetuate the Myth that Businessmen are being targeted? Having 7 or 8 corrupt very corrupt regime-connected Oligarchs in prison isn’t the country turning anti- Business or Businessmen, but rather anti- incredibly public corruption. Hey, Businessmen, you want to clear your names and not join the Mansours and Maghrabis in their self-imposed exile in London or join the other idiots that transferred billions to Dubai? Here is an idea: Join up and start the Businessmen Truth and Reconciliation initiative. We know that the supreme majority of you aren’t corrupt, but that you were surrounded by a corrupt culture that wouldn’t allow you to do anything without having you pay 18 different bribes. We get that, cause we all paid bribes to get any kind of public service done efficiently. Fine, so you paid bribes, but thankfully the Egyptian law is clear: if you paid a bribe to someone and reported it, they go to jail, and not you. So how about you all join up and file official charges against all of those you had to pay bribes to in order to get your business going and clear the slate once and for all? You wouldn’t be legally liable, and you would be doing the country a huge favor by exposing all the corrupt officials in all the ministries, municipalities and government institutions and cleaning them out once and for all. Imagine that. A Purge of all bribe-takers in all government institutions, and you would be the ones doing it. You would become Instant Heroes, and you would never have to pay a bribe again for your business to continue to function! Double Win! And if you are worried about legal liability, simply demand Amnesty. That’s the reconciliation part! And the government, if it’s really into cleaning the country of corruption, and calming the business community, they should’ve suggested that. They didn’t! You should demand it.

On the Security:

Let’s start with the simplest of questions: Where is the Police exactly? Do you know that besides showing some face as traffic police in some parts of Cairo, that’s the only time they have showed their face or done their jobs? Do you know that outside of the posh neighborhoods of Central Cairo (where the foreign journalists and local media move and congregate) the police still did not show up, and if they do, they refuse to act? Do you know that there are entire governorates that the Police never showed up at after the revolution, and the people are still fending for themselves there? And I am not going to talk about how when it comes to the 800+ people that got killed in the revolution, only one policeman was ever convicted for murder, and it was done in absentia because they can’t find him, because police abuse and murder doesn’t seem to bother you, even though they don’t care or differentiate who they kill. No, let’s talk numbers: The Police is the only group in the government that received raises for their salaries twice, and still didn’t show up for work. So, if we decide that we use the very unrealistically low average salary of 1000LE per policeman (factoring in low salary for Omanah and the high salaries of lewa2at) and multiply that to 1.5 Million official Policemen in Egypt, we are talking 1.5 Billion LE a month. That’s 6 Billion LE in the last 4 months, for not doing their jobs. Given that we are broke and our Budget is bleeding as they are saying, that’s money being wasted on people who were not doing their jobs before the revolution and are refusing to do so after, which I am sure you find to be unacceptable. The Police are getting paid to do a job, and if they are refusing to do it, then they shouldn’t be getting paid at all until they do it and they should be penalized for them. In essence, they swore an oath of death to uphold the law and protect you, and they are breaking that oath, which amounts to treason. How long do you intend to accept that and beg them to do their jobs? How long will you take that?

On Stability:

Stability comes from transparency. From understanding what is going on and where the country is going, which we don’t. We don’t know the date the elections will be held on, which technically could be less than 100 days away, until now. We have no clue what policies the government is taking, and what the different ministers have been doing for the past 4 months. Why isn’t it clear whether or not our government is taking action on the issues facing us? Why isn’t there a weekly report in all newspapers outlining the issues that the Transitional Government and the SCAF tackled this week, and the issues they have on their agenda for the next week? Why do we have to wait in front of Facebook until they release to us another Info-statement that is vague and sometimes in total contradiction to a previously released one? And while we are at it, why is this, this or this allowed to happen? How can there be stability in the light of all of this?

And my last question: Upon viewing all of this, how could you continue to sit still and not do something? How are you not the ones planning this Friday’s protest in Tahrir? You have been loyal. You have been on the side of reason. You have been accused time and time again that you are far too negative, far too complacent, far too willing to compromise for no reason and that you vehemently refuse to leave your couches to stand for something. That you are not willing to fight for the future of your country which you love. And you took all that, and You have made excuse after excuse for months and still got nothing. HOW ARE YOU NOT ANGRY?

This Friday I am going to Tahrir for one last time, and I am going because I believe my demands are just and legitimate. Yours are not any less valid, and you deserve to have them realized. So, if you went to Tahrir during the 18 days of the revolution, but stopped afterwards, it’s time to go again and make your demands known. If you have never been to Tahrir, and have been part of the “Silent Majority” who want nothing more than Security, Stability and Economic prosperity, then you, more than anyone, should go to Tahrir this Friday and for once make your voice heard and not be so silent after all. Just go once, and get all of your like-minded friends to go, and see if that won’t get your demands met ASAP. Your patience is taken for granted, and your pleadings fall on deaf ears on both sides. It’s time for you too to take a stand.

See you there!

Offensive

This post will be offensive. I am not sure how else to announce that more clearly than to have this as the title. If you are easily offended, then please read no further. This is the truth of my opinion at the moment, no holds barred. Deal with it.

 

Like many of you, I have been greatly disturbed by the Church Attacks in Imbaba, so much so that I found myself in the middle of Imbaba, at midnight, in front of the 3adrah church , as it stood there burning with people still locked inside. I wanted to see for myself who was behind this, scared shitless of course, envisioning myself arriving there to find myself attacked and surrounded by fundamentalist Islamists who will be less than friendly towards someone like me. What aided that paranoid perception was my Phone call to the Daily News Ian Lee, who-in abated breath-informed me that he was attacked by a mob when he arrived to Imbaba with a number of fellow foreign journalists, and had to escape it with his life. So, here I was, going there, with-mind you- a female activist friend, heading to what I was expecting to be a completely violent situation, in order to get the truth of what’s going on and confronting those nice violent people who did this. Total Insanity on our part, but completely necessary none-the-less.

When we arrived there, there was a huge crowd (maybe 7000 men, not a single female in sight, even though I knew Sarah Carr was there) gathered in front of the burning church, and they were visibly upset and angry. Their anger wasn’t directed towards the Christians in the area or the church, but rather at those who did this. More than one eye-witness told me the same story: That the people who attacked the church were: 1) not from that Area, 2) Not Salafists, but rather clean-shaven thugs, one even identified one of them as a paid thug that he has seen before, who threatened everybody with knives and blades, set the church on fire and escaped the moment they heard the Police were coming. The locals were busy trying to put out the fire, getting people out of the church and the adjacent building, cheering on and helping the Fire Fighters as they were putting out the fire and getting victims out. For about two hours I watched the population as they expressed their anger and frustration at those who burned the church, many of them expressing the phrase over and over “We don’t know who did this, but it can’t be from us. Egyptians were never like this!”

Those words kept circulating in my head all of the following day and yesterday. “Egyptians were never like this! Egyptians were never like this!” And the more I hear it the angrier I get, and the more I read of people’s responses on Twitter I get even angrier. It’s easy for us to be Egyptians and Proud when we don’t engage in sectarianism (or in the case of that church, have someone paid to fuel its fire), but we cannot fool ourselves or others. This is not new. Egyptians were like this for a long long time, and this is not likely to stop anytime soon either, if we are completely honest.

Actually, if we are to be brutally honest and realistic, we would have to admit that sectarianism has its roots deep in the foundation of our society, and that, in reality, as horrible as this situation is, it’s not nearly as bad as it was in the 80′s for example, when all of Imbaba was declared an Islamic state, or when churches and movie theaters used to be bombed (Now they just burn them…Progress). And if this is planned by a country that doesn’t wish to see us democratic and Independent (Saudi) and with the objective of burning the country to the ground and make Egyptians fight each other over religion, then in all reality we need to expect this not to be the last attack, but rather the harbinger of things to come in the following few months. That we should expect about another 20 church attacks and about 9000 more dead, Muslims and Christians, until every single Egyptian in this country, with unbending conviction, decides that this cannot be allowed to go on anymore. Sure, we could take steps to mitigate the damage from now, but that would require us to face a number of issues we don’t want to face, and actually do something about it instead of demanding that others do. Luckily, there is enough blame to go around for us all, so no one is walking away clean from this one: Muslims, Christians both share the blame. Let’s explain how in precisely that order, shall we?

How the Muslims are responsible for this:

It’s unfair to say that a group of fundamentalist extremists or a group of paid thugs- and thus a minority- should by their actions define the behavior of an entire population of people. True, but that doesn’t mean that the Muslim population can walk away smelling like roses from this one. Far from it. If anything, the Muslims of Egypt have created the chasm that exists today between Egyptians of different faiths through 1) Ignorance of the “Other”, 2) complete lack of interest in learning from the past and its mistakes and 3) total deficiency in self-awareness as to how they are representing themselves and their religion. If we ignore the sectarian nature of some of them, and everything else is being equal, those 3 reasons are responsible for all of the sectarian problems that remain pervasive in Egyptian society today.

Ignorance of the “Other” is where it all starts. Let’s start with a simple test: What do you know about Egypt’s Christians and the Coptic Church? How many of you know anything of the Church’s history, and the history of Muslim/Christian co-existence in Egypt, besides what government issues history books tell us, which is absolutely nothing? Are you aware that historically it is the only church in the world that can go head to head with the Catholic Church in terms of history, importance and influence on Christianity as a whole? That it has reach all the way to Ethiopia, and has directly influenced Rastafarianism at its inception? Or let’s take it on a more basic level: Are you aware that not all Christians in Egypt are orthodox Copts? Or that the Bible was not written by Jesus? I know that putting those last two questions here is offensive, if not downright condescending, to many of you, but please go and ask your friends and family members. Their answers will be incredibly amusing to say the least.

The Muslim population doesn’t seem aware that saying that Jesus was never crucified or that the Bible has been altered is offensive to Christians as a whole. They don’t seem to have a problem with a government educational system that forces Christians to read Koranic verses as part of their Arabic language education. They don’t seem to mind when on Islamic holidays, the nice lady on TV congratulates the entire country, and on their singular holiday that we recognize, the same lady wishes “our Coptic brothers & sisters” all the best on their holiday. In reality, the Christians in Egypt know more about Islam and Muslims than they ever wanted to, and the Muslim population, well, they don’t know much and almost never ask. But don’t you dare call us sectarian, because we all have a Christian friend that we have known since forever & always been “cool” with his religious orientation, despite the fact that we don’t know anything about his/her culture, except that they have weird vegetarian dietary habits most of the year, which never stops us from eating meats in front of them, regardless of how offended we get if they dare to drink water in front of us during Ramadan.

And if we can’t learn from those amongst us in the present, we definitely won’t learn about the history of Christian-Muslim relations in this country. No one wants to learn about the atrocities committed by Amr Ibn ElAss, when the Muslim army “opened” Egypt, which lead through a series of unfortunate events to the eventual assassination of Osman Ibn Affan on the hands of Abdullah ibn Abu Bakr, which in turn lead to the “War of the Camel”, the first true Islamic civil war, which also lead to Sunni-Shia divide. No one wants to know when we actually stopped making Egyptian Christians paying the “Jizzyah”, which they had to pay till the mid 19th century (only 150 years ago, which means they had to be second class citizen- by virtue of their faith- in their own country for a good 12 centuries). But, then again, no one wants to remember the 90′s or the 80′s, where Christians were attacked and killed in droves by fundamentalist Islamists , and definitely no one has learned the lesson of the new Year’s eve bombing of the Alexandria Church, which later on was proven to have been planned by the Mubarak State Security apparatus. You want to hear a funny story? When they asked Camilia Shehata on TV, if she never converted, then how did the Salafi Sheikh have her ID and marriage certificate, she said that she doesn’t know how that happened, because the people who took her papers from her were State Security. You would’ve been able to see it, but it was broadcasted on an Egyptian Christian TV channel. Oh yeah, those exist. I wonder how many Egyptian Muslims watch them, even for educational purposes.

Which brings us to the final point: How Muslims present themselves to those around them. Let’s just focus on two examples for the sake of not making this article 17 pages long: Religious sermons in Mosques, and general population behavior. Now, we all have heard Friday sermons where the Imam does nothing to talk about the evil Jews and Christians all the time, and how we have to be vigilant and other such beautiful example of hate speech that we just shrug off as normal (It’s not like we ever listen to what the Friday sermon says anyway; The guy could be reading from a phonebook for all we care!). Now, I often wondered what the reasons behind such sermons were, because they don’t reflect current reality. We live in a country where the supreme majority is Muslims, and there are maybe 100 Jews left in the entire country, and Islam is the world second major religion, & gaining more ground rapidly. Why the defensiveness and paranoia? And then I realized that the problem is very simple: the religious discourse of the Friday sermons has apparently not evolved since the days of Islam’s inception, when Muslims were a small but scrappy bunch and the entire world was against them. But now? Now Muslims are over one billion people, and their countries are rich and influential, i.e. Big Time Players in the world’s stage now. They are no longer a persecuted scrappy minority, but they still act like and see themselves as one, instead of acting with the Grace required of people in their position. Over one billion people and they are still paranoid about & scared of maybe 20 million Jews worldwide and 10 million Christians here. Imagine!

Which brings is to the general population behavior, which is a paradox of its own: the complete disconnect between piety and morality. I left the country in 1999 for college and returned in 2004 for good, but I visited the country every few months, and noticed a very peculiar thing: The Muslims were getting more and more religious, yet they are not becoming better people. They pray 5 times a day, most of the girls got veiled, almost everybody had Amr Khaled fever, and yet, they had no problems with lying , or cheating, or trying to rob you, or treating you rudely. For example: The Taxi driver would be blasting a religious sermon and then try to rob you blind on the fare, and sees no contradiction in his actions. The guys who would be late for class because they had to pray gamaa for every prayer were also the same guys that cheated off of each-other at tests. And let’s not even mention the amount of lying I’ve seen veiled girls engage in. All of that schizophrenia, dirt off their shoulders. Also dirt off their shoulders: attacks on Christians every time they wanted to build a church. Hell, some of them justified and defended such attacks by stating that the Christians were trying to provoke Muslims by building a church, & that those Muslims were simply- and I quote- “jealous for their religion”, like that’s supposed to be justification or an excuse. Never mind that it is the right of Christians and Jews to build places of worship on land that they own as they damn well please. Never mind that this behavior signifies a serious insecurity in those Muslims belief system, where they seem to believe that their religion can’t handle local competition (and its hilarious byproducts- like the unannounced but totally noticeable competition of making sure that the Minerate of any Mosque built next to a church is always taller than the church’s Tower). Never mind that Jealousy- in general- is an inferior negative emotion practiced by the immature and the senseless. But then again, Salafists Fundamentalists always claim that their actions are out of “jealousy for their religion”, so I guess the shoe fits in this specific case.

Now, for anyone paying attention, none of this is news or in any way informative, but unfortunately very few do, and even fewer attempt to address those issues. Our country has sectarian undertones, and many of which come from the Muslim Population (I will address the Christian ones in the Christian section) and its daily social practices, and therefore can be exploited. Please note that I never even touched on how Muslims find it acceptable that many companies will simply never hire Christians, or that they will never reach certain positions- no matter how good they are- because of their religion, and other such embarrassing topics, because they are not reflective or pervasive in society as a whole. But everything else, well, Muslim readers, you tell me! How comfortable was reading those last few paragraphs for you?

 

What they need to do now:

Well, needless to say that all three issues presented above need to be addressed by Egypt’s general Muslim Population if we are ever to be a country not divided by sectarian lines. However, since we are facing a crisis, let’s just focus on damage control for now. And here is all I will ask of you dear Muslim reader who is concerned about the unity and well-being of his country: Talk to people. Seriously.

Talk to your life-long Christian friend and ask him or her about their culture, their family, what they go through and what they don’t say in front of you. Tell them that you won’t be offended. Try to understand where they are coming from.

Talk to your family members and friends who have repeatedly said hateful or ignorant stuff in front of you and explain to them what they are doing. That they are fermenting the ground for future sectarian attacks by their rhetoric and behavior.

And finally, you know that Imam in that mosque near you that week in and week out does nothing but insult Christians and Jews in his Friday sermon? Well, bring a bunch of like-minded people from the neighborhood and talk to him. Explain to him that he embarrasses Islam & Muslims by his narrative, that because of such sermons that some people find it justifiable or acceptable that churches or Christians get attacked and that given that this is your mosque you will not allow it to be a center for spreading hatred and division amongst people from the same country. Do you realize that religious stances, radical or conservative ideas are influenced by the congregation and not by the religious leader? Well, you, by being part of the congregation, have the power to change the stance of your leader. Same goes to all the Islamic Tele-evangelists. Inform them that you won’t allow them to define you or your religion by the other religions anymore. That they should focus instead on how to bring us together by advocating the principles of tolerance that Islam preaches. Do that, and we won half of the battle right there, at least where you live. Now imagine if this spreads to the entire country.

Also, when such attacks like the Imbaba attacks happen again, please be the first one to call for a show for national Unity, and make sure that all of your Muslim friends show up. If we hope to beat this, we have to show Unity like never before, because the enemy this time doesn’t just want to scare the Christians into voting one way. The Enemy hopes to destroy any hope for us for a post-sectarian future. And we can’t allow this to happen, now more than ever.

 

How the Christians are responsible for this:

Now, I am not in the habit of blaming the victim for being attacked, so nothing here will be related to this attack directly. However, there are a number of things that the Egyptian Christians need to face, and there is no better time than the present. The first part is the harsh truth: Many of them are equally as sectarian as their Muslim counterparts. Sure, a lot of it is a reaction to the actions taken by the Muslim population, and yes they are not a quarter as vocal, and not even a tenth as violent, but what’s good for the goose is good for the Gander, so we will deal with their sectarianism here as well once and for all. Please note that the Christians I will discuss here are mainly the Coptic Christians, even though the other denominations share similar symptoms to various degrees.

If there are roots to The Christian sectarianism in Egypt, they come down to two main reasons: 1) victimized minority/Ghetto mentality amongst the poorest Christian social classes and 2) the role the Orthodox Coptic Church, and its leadership, plays in their lives. Let’s talk about them in that order.

The first problem is the easier to identify and explain: due to what they perceive to be a hostile antagonistic environment against them in every facet of society (in terms of rights, work opportunities, career advancement, not to mention education & entertainment), the Christian community, with notable exceptions due to intellectual or social status (i.e. this doesn’t hold true to the rich Christians), has closed its self off on the outside world and started functioning in their own little hidden ghetto society that exists all around us all over Egypt. Churches become more than simply places for worship and fellowship: they become the focal point, if not the universe, of those who attend it. Christian Boys and Girls go there and only hang out with Christian boys and girls, and then go to camps together to make them even closer, and thus ensuring that the supreme majority of the friends of those Boys and Girls are also Christians, with, as always, the random Muslim friend or two that they acquire. And even the relationship with that Muslim friend can never truly be honest, because Christians are taught not to engage their Muslim counterparts in direct discussion or express their grievances from them to them directly, because, well, how “sensitive” Muslims get and how “extremely” they will react to such a discussion. So instead they deal with the problem internally, by praying away their grievances or injustices that they face daily, by never vocalizing them out to the world if a Muslim is around, and by being internally resentful of the fact that this is the life they have to lead.

To most, it never passes the point of silent internal resentment and feeling victimized in their own country, and thus start feeling that this country, despite how much they love it, is not their country anymore. How could it be when they are afraid of, well, everything, and not without reason? So many seek to just leave the country, while others stay and accept this as their reality and try to be part of the society as much as they can, within the small parameters they allow themselves to function in. As for the rest, well, they go full-on sectarian, and start mimicking their Muslim counterparts. They engage in equal insulting of the Islamic religion on every platform they could find, and many amongst them start advocating adopting the “islamist” idea of not dealing with those “heathen Muslims” all together, because “they are filled with deceit and hatred towards us”, which is exactly what the “heathen Muslim” counterpart say about them, verbatim. But all in all, all of the groups above suffer from the same ailment: as much as they love this country and are attached to it, they don’t feel welcome here at all. Only inside their social ghetto they get to feel as if they belong to something, that they are accepted for who they are, and thus become totally invested in protecting it above all else, and anything else is irrelevant. And nowhere is that more apparent than in their demands. If you looked closely at their demands, you would notice that they are all sectarian in nature: a number of rights for Copts; not equal rights for all. And while you understand that they naturally want to address the issues that affect their livelihood as a minority, those in the end are religious sectarian demands. Fine. Noted. But besides that, if you ask what their demands as Egyptian citizens for Egypt are, they will tell you that they only have those demands, and if they get them, they are fine with whatever else happens. I was once having a conversation with a Coptic rights activist, where I was discussing how the secularists and the Christians should align themselves together against the Muslim Brotherhood in the elections, and he basically told me that if the Muslim Brotherhood give the Christian community those demands, they won’t mind them being in power, as long as they leave them alone and in peace, while “the Muslims can burn fighting with each other over this country”. I wanted to explain to him that, actually, no, because at the end of the day secular Muslims and religious Muslims are both Muslims, so they can always work something out, just like what’s happening now, which leaves the only people burning being the Christians, literally.

But this is the crux of the problem: Coptic Christians don’t exactly want a secular state, they just want a state that lets them live their lives by their own rules and that’s it. How is that different than a secular state you ask? Well, because the country has more than just Muslims and Christians: It has Shia, Baha’ais, some Jews and a whole bunch of atheists and agnostics. A secular state would give rights to all of those groups, and make everyone equal. The Christians have another thing in mind, which is nowhere more apparent than their proposed position on the infamous Article # 2 of the constitution : They don’t want it removed, they just wanted to add a sentence that basically states that Christians get to follow the laws set by the church, because it says that other religious minorities based on their religious institutions, and Egypt only recognizes Islam, Christianity and Judaism as religions, and since there are practically no Jews, this will only provide preferential treatment to the Christians and the Christians alone. I have to say that their suggestion an amendment is brilliant though, and we should all follow it: The 100 Jews should ask that they follow Jewish laws, the Baha’is can follow Baha’i laws, the secularists can demand their own laws, and I will demand that they also add my name to the article, and create laws specifically tailored for Mahmoud Salem and Mahmoud Salem alone. Let’s all just follow our own laws, like we are separate countries, despite the fact that we share the same space. Brilliant.

The thing is though, we joke about how the Coptic Christians act as if they are part of a separate parallel country that occupies the same borders as Egypt, but at this point, they are not just acting like it: they are flat-out demanding it. And why wouldn’t they opt for a secular country, where civil law would rule supreme and make everyone equal? Well, mainly because the Coptic Orthodox Church doesn’t want that. Why not? Well, because a secular state where civil law exists means that alongside religious marriage, there will be civil marriage, and thus civil divorce. And we can’t have that for Coptic Christians, cause, how else would we control them? No, it’s better to keep it this way, making the only way for orthodox Christians to get a quick and immediate divorce is through conversion to Islam, which was Camilia Shehata’s motive, in case you didn’t know. She wanted to leave her husband, couldn’t, escaped, some Muslims took her in, presented her with the idea that since we are in an Islamic country, no Christian man can marry a Muslim woman, so if she converts to Islam, she will be automatically divorced. All of those who died in the name of Camilia, they wouldn’t had there been civil divorce, but since the Coptic Church doesn’t allow divorce and would probably fight a civil marriage law as much as the Muslim Brotherhood would, we will probably be in a similar situation like Camilla’s sooner than we would ever want to be in. (And while we are on the subject of the church and Camilia, what does it mean when I read in the newspaper that the Prosecutor General Office formally called for Camilia to come in for questioning, and the Church refused? How could the Church refuse the formal request for investigation by the government for an Egyptian citizen? How? Not only did they simply deny Camilia her agency rights, they are also getting her to break the law, because if you get called in for questioning and you don’t go, well, that’s a crime right there, and one that she could end up going to Jail for. Can someone explain this to me please? I am all ears!)

And this brings us to the Coptic Orthodox church, and the role it plays in aiding this sectarianism as well, because, well, it’s good for them in terms of Power, and by them I mean Pope Shinouda and his crew. Who could deny that during his reign, which now outlasts Mubarak’s, he has managed to turn the Church into more than just the spiritual representative of Coptic Christians in Egypt, but the political representative as well? Or how he managed to turn the church almost into a parallel government, and one that negotiates with the Egyptian government on all the concerns of its subjects, usually for a Price that is usually too low? I recall during the 2005 elections reading a scan of a Coptic church newsletter that got sent to me by a Coptic friend, and its two top news bits were “Pope Shinouda declares in the name of of all Copts in Egypt support for Mubarak for President” and right next to it “President Mubarak agrees on giving permits to building 2 new churches in Egypt”. At the time there was serious uproar amongst the Coptic Christians in Egypt, who openly wondered 1) how dare he speak politically in the name of all Coptic Christians and 2) If this means they are bad Copts if they vote for someone else and 3) if their voices worth is so low that it only equals two new churches. But this Power-sharing agreement between Shinouda and Mubarak continued all the way through the Revolution, where –in case you forgot- The Pope, in the name of the church, announced his support for Mubarak throughout it, and many Christians violated his orders and went anyway. Now while it would be disrespectful to ask the Coptic Christians to hold this position against him religiously, one has to wonder why he is still their leader politically, especially after 30 year of continued political marginalization under his political leadership. One also has to wonder where the Christian politicians are. How insane is it that for 10 million Christians, I can only name Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, Naguib Sawiris, Mona Makram Ebeid and Ramy Lakah as actual politicians? Oh yeah, I forgot Nabil Louqa Babawy. My bad. But on a serious note, can someone explain to me, in the absence of independent Christian politicians, how exactly different is the Coptic Church under Shinouda from the Muslim Brotherhood? Both are religious organizations with political agendas that only aims to consolidate their powers over their respective religious sects, both provide a parallel society to its members and their children since they are very young, both employ similar social models of dealing with the outside world, and both don’t want civil law or a secular country. For all intents and purposes, both are almost identical, to the point that I sometimes wonder why they don’t just join forces.

The Point is this: the moment the only political representation you have is the religious representation you have, and all of your demands are religious and sectarian in nature, is also the moment you lose the right to complain if the other religions did that and you become equally as sectarian as you accuse them to be. Think about that!

 

What they need to do now:

Well, there are two concerns right now: one is immediate, which is to try to prevent more church attacks now. The other is to prevent this insane situation to continue to influence our lives.

The solution for the first concern isn’t having more security or army personnel protecting the churches, because that never really did much in the past, and especially not now, given the state of anarchy we live in. The reality of it all is, if those churches are to be protected, they have to be protected by the people in the neighborhoods that they are in. That means, the Muslims have to help protect them, and many of them are sectarian as I previously mentioned. How do we manage to swing that?

Simple really, ask them to. For real. I am not kidding. If you are a Coptic Christian and you live in a neighborhood that houses your church and you are concerned about it getting attacked, gather all the Christians in the area, divide the streets of the area between them and have them go to all the Muslims in their respective locations and tell them the following: “We are worried about the safety of our church. Not from the people of this neighborhood, but from the outsiders who are trying to destroy Egypt by engaging in such attacks, thus make us all fight and hate each other. If we ever hope to defeat those dark and evil forces, as our Lord-of-the-rings-reading-SCAF likes to call them, we have to band together, and protect the church”. I guarantee to you it will work, because even the most sectarian Egyptian will not be able to stop his nature of trying to protect his neighbors and friends, especially if they are asked to. Hell, go to the Imam of your local mosque after your conversations with the rest of the neighborhood people and take a bunch of Muslims with you, and have him call for the protection of the church during Friday Prayers. The people will form groups, be vigilant, and from that moment on it will engraved in their psyche that no one should attack that church. It’s their area’s church now, and under their protection first and foremost. Social engagement. Creating a sense of communal responsibility. This stuff works.

Now, on to the second concern: how Coptic Christians make sure that those insane situations stop. Well, the first thing they need to do is decide if they are all for inclusion in post-revolution Egypt or not. If they are not, and would rather live in this parallel universe that occupies the same space like the rest of us but not with us, that’s their right, but they have to be honest about it. And they have to let all of us know. Because the revolutionaries all want them to participate: we all want them to be part of the Egyptian society again. Not because we need their votes, because if the referendum is any indication, Coptic Christians are as voting averse as ever, but because we could use their input. Because a country divided alongside sectarian lines is not a country, and it’s definitely not what I signed up for in this revolution.

Secondly, they need to decide what they want in this country as Egyptian citizens. What is their position on the social issues? What is their position on economic policy? What is their position on freedom of speech and artistic expression? What each one of them envisions this country to be and for them to act on that vision. And then thirdly, they have to either join a party or form a new one, and partake in the process of building a new Egypt. To say that it is imperative that every single one of you that is interested joins a party or a movement is an understatement. Some of you will join the liberal parties; others will join leftist parties, while 3 will probably join the Muslim Brotherhood party. It doesn’t matter. What matters is this: have an actual and real political representation in all parties. Run for office even if you believe you will lose. Be part of this and help rebuild this society, because otherwise this rift will continue to exist and it really shouldn’t any longer. And finally: talk to your Muslim friends. Explain to them everything from your side. Trust me when I tell you that they don’t know. A lot of us got to know each other in Tahrir and in our neighborhoods people’s committees; it would be a shame if we stopped now.

7 Popular Myths about the Revolution

There are a number of myths that seem to dominate the discourse in Egypt’s upper and middle-class, and subsequently national and international media. Given how frustrated I am by all the “experts” – foreign and
domestic- pontificating really superficial analysis about something they can neither understand nor grasp, I have decided to write this post. I apologize beforehand for anyone who might read this and think my tone is condescending, because I am not being nor trying to be that and I hope you have the wisdom not to mix the message with the messenger!

1) The Army is co-opting the revolution/trying to establish
another military dictatorship

WRONG. This is a prevalent one, and it has strong roots: the arrests of some protesters and their torture, the insistence on ending protests, and the lack of transparency of the Army’s actions. But please take a minute and stop thinking of the Army as a monolith or an institution, and think
of it as a bunch of human beings. The Army is a conservative institution, it doesn’t believe in chaos, and has operated for 30 years based on direct orders from Mubarak. The supreme council is a bunch of 60 and70 year olds who are not used to deliberate amongst themselves to how best deal with civil issues, and they look at the world in terms of balancing risks. And now they have to deal with all the rapid pace changes in the country and the pressures both internal and external and they are working harder than they ever thought they would work in their lives. I mean, can you imagine how a day of any of them looks like? Between internal issues (security, corruption in every sectors, economy, foreign policy), international conflicts, hiring new people, dealing with international diplomats who all want to meet him to either discuss their concerns or make demands, the situation in the borders, running the affairs of the army, facing demands and questions and requests for interview by foreign or local media and then getting cursed out by name in Tahrir by 250,000 people last Friday. Can you imagine their schedule? And the average age is 60 something to begin with, so imagine how low their energy levels are.

The Supreme Council views his country as a powder-keg and they want to hand over the responsibility as fast as possible, hence the referendum, but until that day they believe, wrongly, that they are the only force that can keep this country from being ripped apart at the seams. You think they can take over the country? With what army? Against Egyptians after they have become organized and formed their own militias? How fast do you think such an attempted takeover will last, before they are all killed or face an inevitable insurrection within their ranks? They wouldn’t last 3 days, before every single last one of them would be killed. They joined the revolution and made the high-council in order to ensure their survival first and foremost. They are more scared of you than we are scared of them.

2) The NDP/Mubarak is still controlling the country
WRONG. The supreme majority of the NDP are shitting in their pants, every single one of them dreading the day their sins will be exposed to the public, and they are watching their leaders getting plucked and investigated one by one. The reason why the Military is taking its time with the big names is that it needs to 1) build up the civil cases against them and 2) to feed them to the public at the best opportune moment, which with mounting pressures is looking closer every day. As for Mubarak, just watch as his credibility is being destroyed, and how slowly but surely the perception of him as the traitor who helped assassinate Anwar Sadat in order to take power and neutralized Egypt for 30 years, during which he kissed Israel’s ass in every conceivable way, in order to ensure his survival and US support is being formed. Go to any newsstand any day and read the headlines. By the time he gets tried, and he will based on public pressure, he will be branded as the biggest traitor in the country’s history. Just watch.

3) The Islamists are hijacking the revolution

WRONG. The Islamists are getting weaker by the day. The Salafists, with their bushy beards, talk of bringing back the 7th century and violence against chirstians and women are already alienating and angering the supreme majority of the Egyptian public, to the point that they have angered the sufis- the hippies of Islam, who are 16 million in case you didn’t know- into rising up and standing against them, and they have gotten the Muslim Brotherhood to the point where they will tell anyone who listens that they are different than the Salafists, and that the Salafists are insane.
As for the Muslim Brotherhood, well, they are having their own problems. This organization who long has lived and survived underground is now being forced into the light, which isn’t exactly where they are most comfortable, because the cracks are now showing. At first they seemed drunk of the success of the referendum result and their belief that they are the best positioned group to take over power come the parliamentary elections, to the point that Essam ElAryan- thinking he is Safwat el Sherief now- started a laughably titled “historic initiative” of dialogue with the Church youth, as if they are representative of Egypt’s Muslims. But like any group that gets drunk on its own hype, it’s bound to start doing stupid shit and wake up the next day with the worst hangover ever, and it’s already starting. Internal divisions are ripping the MB apart, with the Youth announcing their defection and making their own group, with reformists such as AboulFoutouh publicly leaving them for being out of touch with the public, with the rising public hostility towards them since they can’t differentiate between them and the Salafists, and with them trying to appease the public by declaring their party platform will call for a “civil state” and will not have any conditions against women or copts running for President and thus in turn angering their own hardliners as well. The Muslim Brotherhood is at its weakest point and it’s being torn apart, and the egyptian people are quickly getting the point that they don’t want to live in a theocracy. Go to Upper-Egypt and talk to regular people, and they will tell you that they don’t want the Islamists taking over because they want the tourists to come back. Hell, did you know that in the University of Minya, during the first free Student Union elections, not a single islamist candidate won? In freakin Minya! So, please don’t think that your people are stupid or ignorant or easy to deceive by a bunch of Islamists. You are not the only one who “gets it”. Respect your people. They have earned it.

4) New Parties are the only way to save the next elections

WRONG! The new parties are important, but let’s face it, they are still organizing, being formed, formulating policies, trying to explain their ideological position, creating headquarters, reaching out to people and they are run and formed by cairene elites who think they are the only ones who can save the country and hold discussions in English about reaching out “those people” in the villages and the governorates, yet they have no clue who they are or how to talk to them. They are not the best way to save the next elections. The People are.
Unbeknownst to most of you, there is a new rising power in the Egyptian street and it’s not affiliated with any party of clique, and it’s called the people’s committees. At first they were formed to protect their areas, but during the referendum they started evolving into a civil force that help campaigns and did their best to monitor the elections. Now those committees are getting in contact with each other and forming coalitions. I have met representatives who have formed coalitions of 40 or 50 such committees all over Egypt, and they are organizing a conference for all of Egypt’s committee reps this June. Already, right now, there are 220 such committees covering 220 districts of Egypt’s 280, and that’s besides the independent unions and citizen groups that are getting formed everywhere every day. They are not waiting on us to save them or guide them, they already took matters into their own hands and we are the ones who are trying to catch up. And the way they operate, and their strategies for organization are impressive. A bunch of them asked for experts
on capitalist, socialist and Islamic economies to come to their neighborhoods and give lectures to educate people on their differences. This is happening while you are sitting in cafes discussing how you want to “spread awareness” to Egypt’s “ignorant population”. Well, if you want to do that, go to such meetings, find those people and ask them, humbly, how you can be of help and they will let you know. But you better not think you can deceive or bamboozle them in any way, because they will sniff you out very quickly. Go and get to know your people, and prepare to be floored by how intelligent and sophisticated they are.

5) Amr Moussa / Baradei is the new President

WRONG. The political Life cycle of any politician in Egypt is now 1 week, the same goes for Presidential candidates. The people don’t want someone who is as tainted as Moussa or as unable to communicate with them as Baradei. Chances are, Egypt’s real next president will appear sometimes by late august/ early September, after those two have been kicked and burned and faced a trial by fire unlike Egypt has ever seen. If one of them manages to survive it, then kudos to them, cause that means they have earned it. But this is far from being set by anyone, and any candidate who believes they have this in the bag already are also drunk on their own hype and are bound to wake up one day with the worst hangover ever wondering what the hell happened. Just watch!

6) International forces will destroy the revolution

WRONG. But not for lack of trying. God knows the Saudi government and Israel are both very worried about this revolution and will try anything- like funding salafis in the case of Saudi, or placing pressure on the US to support Amr Moussa in the case of Israel and both in order to ensure Egypt stays in the Sunni-Zionist alliance against Iran- in order to sustain a status-quo whose expiration date has long passed. Both of them don’t get that the rules of the game has changed, and that the virus of the revolution will infect their despondent and dissatisfied population as well. Hell, Egypt is so mad at Saudis for trying to pressure them into a conflict Sunni-Shia they have no interest in partaking in that we have now started reaching out to the Iranian government to resume diplomatic relations. Those are not the Mubarak days anymore; unless our sovereignty is respected, we can and will push back. Count on it.

And don’t think this is a victory for the Iran wing either, because Iran is also facing the prospects of their own revolution, and Syria is already dealing with its own, and the Palestinian people are already limning up to get rid of the corrupt leaders of both Hamas and Fatah. On March 15 there were huge protests by non-aligned Palestinian youth who are demanding the end of the division between the people and subsequently getting rid of those who have divided them in order to rule comfortably. The geopolitical map will look radically different in 2012. This virus will spread everywhere. Just watch!

7) There is doom and gloom everywhere!

WRONG! There is nothing but optimism and the prospect of a brighter future. Yes, there is economic instability and the economy will go down for a bit, but that’s only natural and part of the healing process. When you take an anti-biotic to cure you from a disease it is bound to keep you bed ridden and feeling tired for a few days so that you can properly heal, but you will heal and you will regain your full health eventually. We are completely unaware of what’s happening in the country because things are happening so fast that everything seems like it’s standing still. But the country is moving, the virus of the revolution spreading everywhere and changes are happening by the minute because 30 years worth of changes and reform are unleashed all at once. We are living in Hyper-time, and every person who sees a hole in the foundation of our country is working really hard and fast to plug it, and the future is looking brighter every day because of it.

Think of state TV employees who are protesting right now demanding that our national TV practices real journalism without an agenda. Think of the coalition of restaurant owners that is being formed in order to tell the municipalities that they won’t pay bribes anymore, and if they wish to shut them down they can go right ahead and face the wrath of all of their employees. Think of the students of the Lycee in Cairo, 6 and 7th graders, who did a 3 day sit-in protest demanding the return of a teacher that got fired for carrying an anti-Mubarak sign in Tahrir and forced the administration to re-instate him. Think of all the 8 and 10 year olds who went out with their parents the day of the referendum to vote and had the experience engrained in their psyche forever, something we never had ourselves, and know that they will never allow that right to be taken away from them. Think of all the 12 year olds who are watching all the hot issues (secularism vs. theocracy, left vs. right, the role of the army, the role of the police, etc..) being debated all around them right now, and having their political consciousness formed right now and know that when they turn 18 it will be next to impossible for someone to trick or co-opt them. Think of all the 15 and 16 year olds who are watching the protests all around them and the lessons and mistakes that we are doing and think of what those kids will do the moment they get into college in a couple of years or when they join the workforce. Think of all your friends, wherever they are, who are joining and debating and talking and wanting to help and do something, and know you are not a solitary phenomenon. The Virus is everywhere. The Future is AWESOME. We will not save Egypt, Egypt will save us.

Now go and think of how you can help. And when you encounter people whose stupidity or irrationality or ignorance frustrates you, smile, because you know in 6 or 7 years they will no longer exist nor be of any
influence.
Have a lovely day! :)

The election campaign Blueprint

The Topic: The Elections

We are on the verge of our first real Parliamentary and Presidential elections in our nation’s history, and we are very short on time, thanks to the schedule put there by the army. Usually preparations for such campaigns would take a year and a half, so the little time we have makes the job really difficult, but not impossible. In reality, the Presidential elections isn’t as big of a concern as our Parliamentary elections, since we know that whomever becomes President can be changed in 4 years, but whomever gets into Parliament this time around will get to write the constitution, which is here to stay. Speaking to people from eastern European countries who have gone through a very eerily similar transition to what we are going through (Communist instead of simply authoritarian, a Police force so corrupt that it continues to burn evidence against it at every chance it gets, a population used to stability over the chaos and responsibility of freedom, Slavic orthodox Christians instead of MB and Salafists, etc..) and who also wanted the transition phase to pass quickly, so they ended up with a Parliament that looked very similar to the one they had before democracy, since no one was really ready. In order to avoid such fate, we will need to fully understand the picture at hand, and work really hard to mitigate the damage of trying to do this under such limited and severe conditions. It will be a lot of hard work, and here is where we start.

The Analysis:

The current parliament is 444 seats, plus 10 seats that the new President, whomever he/she is, will get to appoint. However, those 10 will not be able to join in the committee that gets to draft that new constitution, so for the purposes of our math, they don’t count. Amongst those 444 seats, there will be at least 20% , approx 89 seats, who will be previously NDP, but not necessarily ideologically NDP; they will be the members whose families control the district that they live in and they are mostly located in the Delta and Upper Egypt. The reality is, the NDP didn’t have an ideology; it was a party of power and for power, and not all of its MP’s were cheaters or engaged in fraud. Sure, in the same supreme majority of the seats they had to commit voter fraud in order to ensure that their Party candidates win, but they were also in the habit of recruiting the Independent winners into the NDP either through coercion or enticement. This also means that those 20% are up for grabs for any party that is interested in some easy seats and is willing and able to recruit those candidates. So let’s ignore those 89 seats from our calculations and focus on the remaining and truly competitive 355 seats.

What we need to do in order to ensure that the MB doesn’t get to write the constitution is for whatever coalition of parties we create to represent us to win the magic number, which in this case is 223 seats (50% of 444 + 1 seats). Given that the MB is interested in winning 30% of the Parliament (133 seats), then whatever coalition we make will have to be competitive in all 355 races and make sure that the MB loses at least 1 seat in order to get 223 seats. Given that all elections are local, in order for the parties to do so, they will need good candidates, and more importantly, good campaigns. Sure, there will be voter fraud or vote buying to some extent, but this is to be expected and the more elections we have the cleaner the elections will get. So the campaigns should acknowledge that issue and try to mitigate it as much as possible, but should also operate as if it doesn’t exist. In more than one way, this is a test-run also for all the parties involved, and whatever mistakes they will make (and they will make many), it will only help perfect their political machine for all future elections. So, a good campaign is essential for all parties involved, and the most important thing in a campaign is the organization of it. If your campaign is organized, that’s 95% of the battle, and the remaining 5% will simply depend on the candidate’s likeability and ability to sell himself and his ideas.

What to do:

Any serious campaign for Parliament will require the following Positions to be filled, for they are the people that will create the organizational structure for the campaign:

  1. Campaign Manager: Most Important Person in the campaign. He manages the heads of the different departments in the campaign, and he sets the pace and the image of the candidate. If the Candidate loses, he is the person usually to blame. The Stories of perfectly good candidates who lost to bad candidates because they didn’t have a good campaign fills the books of political history, and a bad campaign manager (like the one Baradei currently has) will cost you the election every single time. That person must understand the political canvass, must understand politics of perception, must understand PR, must be capable of running a really tight ship and should never ever ever panic. He must be cool, collected and relentless, and must have a vision for the campaign even better than the candidate has for himself. He should never let the candidate run the campaign himself and simply execute his wishes; he must present the candidate with the full picture and options and consequences of every option. Politics is a game of lesser-evils, and any candidate must have a campaign manager who is capable and comfortable with picking ones. He is the most important person in the campaign, but there isn’t a second or third person after him/her. Everyone after that is equally important and essential.
  2. Research & Data Manager: More than anything, elections are about identifying the voters, polling the voters, identifying your voter segments and then counting the votes. Those are the duties of the Research and Data manager. Other duties include: Creating Focus groups, researching the issues and the solutions and seeing which resonate with the voters; researching the competition thoroughly and polling their support level as well; creating the electoral map for the campaign and knowing every voter by district, street, age group, socio-economic status, religious & political affiliations. Demographics, psychographics, purchasing behavior, level of education; you name it, they must have it. No campaign wins without the Research & Data Manager and his team.
  3. Communications Manager: This person is responsible for the image of the candidate and the campaign on all fronts: In the eyes of the voters, in mainstream media, in social media and on the street. This is why any communications manager must have an excellent team under him/her (preferably a her , very few men understand perception and image the way women do, at least in Egypt where in many times their lives depends on it), and that team must be big and have many different departments: The branding team (under which the entire creative department for print, posters, TV ads, radio ads, web ads, you name it), the PR team (hosting events, writing Press releases, arranging for articles to be written on their candidates in various newspapers), the Online reputation management team (this is where all those internet kids can start rumors to trash you, and you always must respond pleasantly, swiftly and decisively; like the Twitter CS teams of our local Mobile Operators), the media relations team, the media monitoring team, the Media-buying team, the Production team and the Rapid Response Team (those are your media commandos, they must be on top of everything in regards to the candidate to the second, and must memorize the positions of the candidate better than himself and be able to respond as fast as humanly possible to whatever issues or crisis that might arise for whatever reason). The candidates’ Spokesperson has to be the head of the Rapid Response team and it is preferred for him/her to be a different person than the communications manager , who in the case of a campaign turned nasty will also need a buffer from the media, just like the candidate.
  4. Scheduling Manager: Any campaign is about time- management, and that’s the scheduling manager’s job, for he will be responsible for the life of the candidate. This is the person that must schedule his appearances in the media and in the voting districts, alongside with fundraisers, public events, meetings with backers and stakeholders and , last but not least, the campaign management team itself. This may seem like a PR job, but it’s not, because it’s mostly about striking the balance between the operations and the Public aspects of the campaign. This is tough job, all about setting priorities and managing expectations, and therefore absolutely essential.
  5. Field Operations manager: This is the person responsible for voter outreach, organization and on-the-ground campaigning. This person’s work relies heavily, like the communications manager, on the research & data manager’s work , alongside with excellent organizational skills and ability to focus no matter how under pressure you are. This person will run the street teams (distributing & posting promotional material, door-to-door campaigning, creating the voter database, operating the phone banks, University outreach, election monitoring and all other logistical aspects of running the campaign. This person must be able to deal and manage young people (many of which never had a real job before) as well as old, which is not an easy skill to find in Egypt.
  6. Fundraising Manager: Welcome to Sales. This person’s job is to continuously sell the candidate to many people in order to raise Money to keep the campaign afloat. This person is responsible for identifying backers, working with the scheduling manager & communications manager to set-up fundraising events and send out fundraising communications. This is the person who will get you the money, while insuring that you don’t get beholden to all of your financial supporters (maybe 4 or 5, tops).
  7. Security Manager: This is the person who will handle your campaign’s security, whether physically or internally. He is responsible for protecting the candidate and the elections monitors come election day, and for ensuring that the campaign’s secrets, tactics and information doesn’t get leaked. He is the campaigns’ State Security, and in the current conditions we are in, he is absolutely essential.

How can I help:

As I said, I am not interested in the welfare of one political party as much as I am interested in all of them. I recognize that it would be impossible to expect one party to win all of those seats, so a coalition of parties is a must, and that can only happen if all the parties run good campaigns. I will remain objective, even if I am backing or working with someone else, because it’s in my best interest that any party other than the MB or the NDP to do well. I would be more than happy to sit down with any party or presidential campaign that will run a list of affiliated candidates and discuss their operational campaign strategy with them. If I can help in any way, drop me a line at sandmonkey@gmail.com .

As for the readers, I will be going to the meetings of any new political party that gets formed and will provide all of you with the over-view of their principles, position and operations, and an objective assessment of all of that, with their contact information if you are interested to join them or check them out for yourselves. I understand that we need as much information as possible and will bemore than happy to provide that for you here. What you do with this information will be up to you.

Next post: If you want to help, but not through joining a party or campaign, how to do it.

10 points

I have only an hour left before my flight, so this will have to be bullet point style, no verbose exposition. This is nothing but food for thought. Agree or disagree, up to you:

  • Egyptian Protesters seem to believe that we have the support of the entire world by what we did, and that we need to focus on local battles because the international scene will just have to adjust itself to whatever we do. This is incredibly naive given how big and important Egypt is geopoliticaly. They need to understand that there is no way the US, Israel, Saudi, Qatar, Russia, China or others will not try to influence the outcome and apply pressure on the Military government to rig the game slightly in their favor. America for example wants to ensure Israel’s safety, so they will pressure the army their way, Saudi and Israel need to ensure that the Sunni-Israeli alliance against Iran continues. God only knows what the Chinese and the Russians are thinking.
  • I believed Brussels was only good for waffles and chocolate, and I was surprised to find it the den of spies and lobbyists. The EU headquarters is here, so is NATO and 20 % of the workforce works in lobbying one way or another. This also affects us, because many of the local players are lobbying here: For example, The Mubarak’s are lobbying here for their own purposes, and  Ahmed Ezz’s family is lobbying to ensure he gets “a fair trial” , because he knows in a “fair trial” he can drag many names in the mud with him, and have them tried as well. Especially Mubarak. That’s his card, because he knows no one wants Mubarak to be put on trial. This is why I have been working on creating a lobby for the revolution, because the foreign front is the only front we are not paying attention to at all, and its the one we need the most right now.
  • The reason why no one wants Mubarak put on trial is simple: You don’t get to be the leader of a country like Egypt for  freaking 30 years without knowing where many bodies are buried. Some of those bodies might prove to be embarrassing to many world powers & could set a dangerous precedent that may fuel more revolutions. This is why there are no international calls to try Mubarak. Everybody just wants him to shut up, and they know he probably has a safe somewhere to be opened when he dies in suspicious conditions that contains many secrets. Again, no one wants those documents out in the open. That doesn’t mean the Egyptian military doesn’t pressure Mubarak in its own way though. The same way for the 3 stooges (Sherif, Surour, and Azmy), who are also cards in the hand of the military to play if needs be and will be offered to the public when the time comes.
  • There has been A lot of talk regarding the release of Abood el Zomor and the Media attention he got. Many people in the egyptian and international so-easy-to-frighten population took it as a sign that the Islamists are taking over and we might have another Iran on our hands. While this might have been the international message the military council intended to send to the international world to ease the pressures on them a bit , this wasn;t supposed to be the message sent for local consumption. The local consumption message was simple: Abood ElZomor was arrested in Sadat’s assassination, the same assassination that resulted in Mubarak’s take over of the presidency, the same assassination that many say Mubarak had a hand in. This coincided with a video circulating the web showing Mubarak throwing chairs on a shot Sadat “to protect him” while Sadat is trying to get up. Even Zomor during his interview regarding the Sadat assassination said that some people involved in the assassination slept in prison, and others in the presidential palace. This was a message to Mubarak: We won’t touch you for now, but don’t think we don’t also have you by the balls. And how Ironic that the Man responsible for the death of one President is becoming the weapon against the President that followed him.
  • The Salafists & MB are local players, but they have foreign ties and funding. Qatar fully funds and supports the MB , and Saudi fully funds and directs the Salafists. While Qatar is more interested in having a say in a democratic Egypt, Saudi is more interested in blackmailing Egypt into continuing the Sunni-Zionist alliance against Iran. Naturally, Egypt, right now, is totally not interested, so Saudi tries to pressure us by inciting lots of Salafi Chaos and violence. Please note that it’s all very targeted against so called egyptian minorities, attacking christians and women mostly, and burning churches. That’s the kind of headache Saudi knows Egypt doesn’t need, & will stop immediately the moment they are sure that the alliance is back on track, because they are shitting their Saudi pants over Iran. Please note that in this scenario, whatever we want as Egyptians, totally doesn’t matter to them, or anyone for that matter.
  • Amr Moussa is the preferred candidate for President for all of the international players: A man from the system, has no achievements either as Foreign Minister or Secretary of Arab League, friendly to dictators and foreign powers, and who barks a lot for public consumption regarding the US and Israel, but always always always does their bidding. The Americans and the Israelis are rooting for him most of all, because they know his MO, and they can’t guarantee how either Baradei or Bastaweesy will play it. Many Egyptian elites want him as well for the same reason they supported the Ahmed Shafiq government: He is someone they know..someone from the system, a good ole boy from the same corrupt system that we revolted against and who until the last minute wanted to save Mubarak’s presidency and now stands firm on not putting Mubarak on trial as well. While many good natured and well-intentioned Egyptians support him because he seems prestigious and his name was always on the table, they must fully understand that he represents everything this revolution was not about : The End of Mubarak Regime, The End of the corrupt system that it created, the end of a foreign policy dictated by everybody else but the Egyptian people, The End of politicians who are in it for their own glory and not for the service of the egyptian people (check the record on how embassies treated Egyptians during the time he was Foreign Minister and see how big he was on serving egyptian people or maintaining their dignity). Mind you, whomever the US supports will usually win, so please, if you are into winning for the sake of winning, or even if you have familial or business ties to him or his family, then jump on the Moussa bandwagon. But if you really care about this country & really would like a strong independent Egypt, not one like we had for 30 years, well , do some research into his history. You won’t find many things that you could defend him with.
  • Baradei & Bastaweesy are the two honest candidates in the field right now, which is why they are losing badly. Baradei’s campaign’s inability to engage the population or respond to rapidly changing events is continuing to enforce the image that he is elitist and disconnected from the population. For example, the MB yesterday endorsed Baradei in an attempt to corner him internationally (how does Muslim Brotherhood backed candidate for President sound to all of you in the west, people?), a move that he could’ve easily used to his advantage by going on TV and saying that he welcomes the MB’s endorsement for his campaign for a civil secular Egypt and that he hopes this ends all the lies about his daughter being married to an Infidel (Which isn;t true, but is used against him by the salafists) or that he is America’s agent, because there is no way the MB would endorse him in that case. Had he done that, he would’ve pushed back the MB in a corner and immediately placed a wedge between the MB and the Salafists, while asserting his commitment, locally and internationally, for a secular egyptian state. He, of course, maintained his silence, cause he is above it all, or his campaign people are rank amateurs. Bastawaeesy still has no campaign to speak of, and god knows if he will be able to compete in the first place, but he is incredibly popular on the street. If those two get their act together and join forces, they would make an unstoppable ticket, and we would have a real ELECTION on our hand, instead of the SELECTION by other countries we are going through right now.
  • One thing to e sure of, the next election in Egypt will be incredibly fun, due to the fact that many US election campaign operatives are now offering their services to the highest bidder, and the egyptian election is a very sexy and important election for them. I even heard some were hired, but by whom? No clue. But if you can deduce who has money in Egypt right now and who they support, well, then you have your answer. Hint: The revolution backed candidates have no money to buy those guys. This will get interesting very quickly.
  • I am currently for the revolution to stop protesting, because after the referendum, we are now facing a new political reality: The roof of street legitimacy just got raised. Public Opinion went 14 million for a YES vote and 4 million for a no vote, which means that in order to show we represent the majority we need 14 million to join us, which we won’t be able to produce. Hell, if we manage to produce 1 million protesters, people can dismiss us claiming we were only able to turn out 1/4 of our base. It’s not that impressive anymore, and going every friday to Tahrir means we have totally or about to burn that card. But if some feel the need to still protest, that’s fine, but let’s do it right. We need to stop the notion that we all need to be together in every fight, because every day we have 3 fronts being opened against us, and we are getting exhausted and disoriented. Fine, let’s do what we did in Tahrir: Share the work. Let’s Organize fronts: One for protests, one for prisoners rights, one for advocacy and outreach, One for voter registration and organization, one for communications, one for campaigning, etc etc, and lets agree on guiding principles and then let each front work autonomously and only coordinate with each other when needs be. For example: let’s use the protests to have people from the registration front show up and register those who show up for the protest so we can reach them afterwards. Let’s play it smart.
  • Please note that this is a war, and in wars its ok to lose Battles willingly to win in the end. A good parable is the Coventry Blitz myth, and it goes like this: During WW2, the brits had the Enigma machine, which they sued to decipher the messages of the germans. One day a message showed up alerting them to a massive raid on Coventry, which had a population of 320,000. This Presented Churchil with the dilemma: Does he evacuate Coventry, save the lives of the 320,000 and alert the Germans that he has the machine by knowing about the attack before hand, or does he allow Coventry to be attacked, safeguard the secret of the machine, be able to decipher the German messages in the future and thus win the war? Well, Churchil didn’t evacuate Coventry, which got attacked indeed, and he ended up winning the war. The lesson here should be clear: The battle for protesting is not the war, having a democratic egypt is. It’s ok if we lose that battle, if it means we get to win the war. What we need to do is withdraw ourselves from the scene, stop being everyone’s favorite blame hanger and work on the ground. Reach out to every governrate, go to every city, village and house, Zenga Zenga Dar Dar style. Also, our absence will force those blaming us (The MB, the government, the Army, the NDP crowd, the Couch Party) to look for someone else to blame, and will start attacking each other. Good. Let them fight each other while we work to win this on the ground, out of sight and under the radar.

That is all!

Egypt: A Parliamentary Plan 2011

The following post was written by my friend Ramy Yaacoub, which you can find on Twitter @RamyYaacoub (follow him as well) .  The Idea behind this is simple: in the absence of organized political forces besides the NDP and the MB, name recognition of independent players is essential. Given that the Presidential candidates have the best name recognition, and most don’t represent a current party, why not have them run for Parliament (with a list of candidates that are part of their coalition) as well? This way, they bring others in parliament who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance, and showcase their actual electability ( the guy who can;t win a parliamentary seat would never be able to win the presidential one), and allows for their presence on the scene even if they lost the elections. Anyway, that’s an overview, read the details below and share your opinion on this in the comment section if u feel like it. :)

In a post referendum March 19, 2011 Egypt, Parliament will be the only institution representative of people’s choices. As of now, many household figures, namely Amr Moussa, Bastaweesy, Ayman Nour, Baradie, etc have expressed their intentions to run for the presidency. Such names have, somewhat, all agreed in opinion on the need to curb the current presidential powers. Along with the January 25 movement and what I regard as the majority people, the household names have expressed their discontent with the Pharaoh-esque powers of an Egyptian president.  They [the household names] have called for the dilution of presidential powers,  by creating term limits, creating a checks and balances system, etc.

Meanwhile, other forces in the country, as the Islamic political movements, namely Muslim brotherhood, etc, have consolidated their efforts to legitimize the Parliament. Successfully doing so with the passage of the March 19, 2011 referendum, Parliament now has the popular legitimacy required for a three-part-plan for overhauling the Egyptian constitution.  Further elaboration on the three-part-plan will follow later.

The current path to fully fledged constitutional reform and presidential (or the lack of which):

Constitutional Amendment Referendum (Yes) - Amending Electoral & Party laws - Parliamentary Elections - Elected Parliament (Legislative Body)

It is predicted that post assembling a legislative body, they (an elusive they) will hold presidential elections followed immediately by the assembly of a constitutional drafting committee, selected by members of Parliament. Also predicted, the constitutional fruit of that committee will be up for another popular referendum that will either accept or reject the then newly drafted constitution. Should that referendum fail, then the country would revert back to the 1971 constitution. Such scenario would require a separate detailed political plan.

It is clear that Parliamentary elections will indeed take place in the near future (sometime around beginning to mid June 2011). It is also expected that the centrist voting bloc will not have much influence on the Electoral & Party laws amendment process, which will more than likely take place in May 2011. Considering the hurdles ahead, it is wise to consider a dedicated focus on influencing the Parliamentary elections, and furthermore, the first Parliamentary session post the January 25, 2011 uprising.

While it is unclear how the Electoral & Party laws amending process will affect candidacy and elections to the 444 (454 if we consider the ten presidential appointees) seats up for grabs in the People’s Council and less importantly the 174 (264 if we consider the 88 presidential appointees) seats in the Consultative Council, it is safe to predict some, if not significant, changes to the structure of eligibility and voting procedures to Parliament.

Noting one of the first points made in this briefing, household names are betting the house on a presidency that will be subject to constitutional reform sometime in the very near future. Meanwhile, established veterans of Parliament from the NDP and the Muslim Brotherhood, with supreme organizational skills are at a vantage point at this stage. Additionally with the relatively short time provided for unorganized opposition groups to assemble and push political message out, it is crucial to consider utilizing the household names in the Parliamentary elections.

To highlight the level of Parliamentary familiarity and organization with institutions such as the Muslim Brotherhood, I would like to site an example of their Parliamentary efforts. In the United States  congress an esteemed research center is provided and dedicated to the service of members of congress, the Congressional Research Service (CRS). After the more impressive win of Muslim Brotherhood candidates in 2005, the Brotherhood set up an equivalent research center to serve its members in Parliament. Unprecedented in Egyptian Parliamentary history, members of the NDP struggled to catch up with this advantage the Brotherhood created for its team in Parliament. Several scholars agree that if it was not for the corruption of Parliament, this simple tool could have magnified the effect of the Brotherhood in Parliament.

What this brief is proposing is the encouragement and utilization of the household names and their top supporters, advisors, or the like to run for parliament as a counter measure to the strength of the established institutions such as the NDP & the Muslim Brotherhood.  The repercussions could be beneficial beyond expected.

I.   Having household names in Parliament will gain media attention to a legislative body that was deemed a rubber stamp for decades.

II.   The presence of household names in Parliament will give the centrists a more significant leverage in the constitutional drafting process

III.  Being a member of Parliament does not hinder a run for the presidency. In fact, instead of having one winner (the presidency) and several losers. By having the households as members of Parliament initially at the end of the presidential elections, all would be in influential positions to mend the current affairs of the nation.

It is imperative for all centrist parties, and perhaps leftist as well to consolidate brain powers to map out the parliamentary districts of Egypt. An efficient polling methodology should be devised and activated to register accurate statistics to determine potential wins and to highlight probable losses. Finally, an agreement on the division of parliamentary districts should be conducted on high-level leadership basis between all involved centrist-leftist parties.

Ramy Yaacoub

M.A. Candidate, United States Foreign Policy – Middle Eastern Relations 

School of International Service, American University

Playing Politics

Dear Jan25 people,

So today the results of the referendum came out, and as expected the YES vote won. In case you didn’t expect it, well, there were 4 reasons why that happened:

1) How many Egyptians joined the protests at their peak? The day Mubarak left Office, it was estimated 10-20 million in the streets. What’s 20 million out of 85 million again? 25%? That means there are 65 million who never joined the protests from the beginning, and who probably miss the stability and security of the old regime. 75% that is used to say YES and there is no proof that they changed their mentality or behavior. Never-mind those amongst you who also voted yes for their reasons. I am personally surprised it wasn’t lower.

2) Cairo is not Egypt. This may seem obvious to others, but let me repeat that point again: CAIRO IS NOT EGYPT. Stop your  Cairo-is-the-center-of-the-universe chauvinism. 25 million live in Cairo, 60 million live elsewhere. And, let’s be honest, the NO vote people did not manage to get their message across to the people effectively. There was no real TV campaign, no real grassroots campaign and no actual debate. Some individual efforts here and there, but no real coordination. This has to change.

3) The Military & the MB & the Salafis & the NDP were pushing for a YES vote. The Military, as always, just wanted to get out of this mess as quickly as possible, and the YES vote meant just that for them without having to face any real headaches. The rest knew that a YES vote gives them the best chances to win the Parliament and thus re-write the new constitution, and they had the money and the organization and tools to push for it. You didn’t.

4) You no longer represent the people. You really don’t, at least when it comes to their concerns. Your concerns and their concerns are not the same anymore. You care about the revolution, & the arrest of NDP figures & getting the country on the right track. They care about economic security, the return of stability and normalcy the fastest way possible. They only have the military now as the organized force running the country & providing some security, and you are pointing out-correctly, mind you- that the military is detaining your friends and colleagues and torturing them and violating their rights to protests, and you want them to stand up against the military, the only force in the country in their perspective that is keeping Egypt from descending into total chaos. Yeah, that will win them over.

Mind you, this is not totally your fault. There are some things you are just not paying attention to, besides that you have been losing the people steadily. The First of which are the original demands. Remember those? Remember all the millions that went down for the minimum wage and you completely swept this under the rug to engage in a battle with State Security and the military? How many of the original demands have been met so far? Why is this not a bigger issue?

You are also not noticing that the Military doesn’t like you very much, and really, why would it? The Military likes stability, and we started a revolution which brought down a regime that put them first of everyone in the country and instead managed to get them to not only abandon their stable life-style under Mubarak’s rule but to start working harder than they ever had in years. You think they care about you or your demands? You don’t think that they won’t go after every single one of us when the time comes? This is not paranoia..this is simple logic. A force that can bring down a regime can take down the next one or even bring down the military structure itself; why allow that force to continue to exist or have popular support if you can take that away? In case you haven’t noticed, the military only listens when we manage to amass lots of people, and could care less when we only manage to get a couple of thousands. They don’t like you or your ideas, and they cave in when they do in order to maintain stability & their image as the public’s saviors. And you know all those times you keep mentioning that the Military is part of the old regime? Well, they are noticing it, and they don’t like that either. Why wouldn’t they attack you, allow propaganda against you, tell people that you are immoral, armed and/or on drugs, arrest you, beat you or torture you? What’s in it for them if you succeed?

How is any of this a surprise to you?

So, now what? Well, now is the hard part. This is the part where we stop playing revolution, and start playing politics for the sake of the country. This means caring more about perception and public support over righteous and legitimate demands. Do you know what that means? Well, if you do, but think that the revolution must continue on the street, well, congratulations, you are the reason why we are losing. If you don’t, well, please relax and keep an open mind, cause this is about to get really uncomfortable.

1) You have to get over the referendum results now, & see it as the gift it is: Oh yes, we lost, and it’s great news. Why? Well, because first of all, we managed to find out how many people are really with us, and which areas or locations we need to focus on (All of Egypt..Imagine?) and the percentages from those areas. We now have actual statistics, people. We know each district by vote. We know how many people we have in every voting district. We have a nation-wide base. Sure, 20%, is small, but it’s not insignificant, and you can totally build on it. And now you also know what tactics the MB and the Salafists use to mobilize the vote. We now know how they intend to play this, and this gives us an incredible advantage, cause we still didn’t play yet. You wanna start? Congratulate them on the results of the referendum. Call everyone you know who voted yes and enthusiastically congratulate them. Offer to host referendum parties if you can even. Don’t lose them even if you disagree with them. The wall you build now over this could exist come election time, which is when you will really need every vote. In case you didn’t notice, this was just a test-run.

2) You have to focus on the people & their issues, and push yours aside for now: Yes, you will have to address the economy. Yes, you will have to offer constructive solutions to the Police problem that isn;t simply “clean them up”. Yes, you will have to lay off the military criticism and, as horrible and hard as this might be, to put the issue of those who are detained, jailed, tortured or beaten by the military on the back-burner for now. Yes, I know that they are our brothers and sisters, but I also know that this is how they are distracting you. They are making you focus on small battles instead of focusing on the war. How many of us were tried or arrested? 50? 100? 10,000? We are talking about  the hearts and minds of about 85 million, and you are not doing shit to win them. Win the public, and all of your friends will be released immediately. Continue to lose the public and you will eventually join them. Simple, really!

3) Offer solutions that appeal to the public and get you support: I know, I know. You would think demanding accountability and the end of corruption would get you all the public support you ever needed, but, nah. They spread lies about you while you are running around trying to find your jailed friends and not responding or engaging back, and whatever goodwill you got for the revolution, well, it’s EGYPT’s revolution now. Everyone has the “January 25″ stickers on their car, which means that your achievement is now their achievement, and thus you get no credit. Ok, start earning credit again. START SELLING THE MINIMUM WAGE for example. In a country where 40% live under 2 $ a day, how is it possible not to get support for a proposal that would guarantee every egyptian 1200 EGP a month, especially in these economically turbulent times? You wanna demonstrate? Demonstrate for the Minimum wage, and many egyptians will join you, thus showing you have public support again. If the Military Council says yes to the minimum wage, Good, you not only gave people freedom, but also got them extra money in their pockets every month, which they LOVE, and as an added bonus you obliterated the myth that you don’t care about the economic hardships of regular Egyptians. That can’t suck. If they refuse, well, that’s good too. It will show that the military doesn’t care for the economic hardship of the poor, while you do , which makes you with the people again. And while they are there all dissapointed at the not-so-benevolent  supreme council, you start letting the people know what else they have been up to. You don’t need to lie to manipulate and sway public sentiment to your side, you just got to pick your timing.

4) Start organizing yourselves into an offline grassroots movement, Zenga Zenga style: This one might seem self-evident, but how to do it is the tricky part.

  • First of all, find your people all over Egypt, and start registering them and training them. Start with the Polling data alongside those you know through life, facebook or Twitter. You will find them
  • Secondly, organize yourselves into different units: The Internet-Unit (to lead efforts on reaching out and organizing the base on the net), the door-to-door Unit ( Go to every neighborhood, knock on 10 apartments and talk to people), the Phone Unit ( Use telemarketing techniques: call people and talk to them about the revolution. Have a training for the phone unit and conversation scenarios. Reach everyone again), the local Media Unit (those are your Intelligence and propaganda arms. They keep you abreast of the news of the areas they are in, let you know who are the people to watch out for and which are the ones to support and they are responsible for catering the media message to the needs of the locals) and the election observers unit (self-explanatory really). The more organized your people are, and the more trained they are in your talking points and counter-arguments, the easier it is for them to sell their ideas to the people.
  • Thirdly, Create the coalition of new parties in order to bring in all those new ragtag parties together and make them a cohesive block that could stand a chance in the parliamentary elections by having one party’s members vote for other Parties’ candidates in precincts that they are not running their own candidates in, and they will do the same in return. Every vote counts.
  • Last but not least, FUNDRAISE ALL THE TIME. We need the money. The NDP has all the money they stole from the country and the MB has all the money they get from Saudi & Qatar, so we need to get our own. Hit up for donations everyone you know in Egypt  who isn’t interested returning the corrupt to power or having this country turn into a theocracy. Contact your relatives and your friends abroad. Create Festivals and events whose tickets will fund your operations. There is no campaign finance legislation in place, which the MB is totally abusing, and we can as well. Let’s do that until we have enough of a majority to place in a law in place that would make this entirely unpleasant situation we currently live in behind us.

5) Start reaching out to Imams and Priests now: I once suggested that we need to reach to Imams and Priests in order to get them on our side, and I was hissed at for wanting to mix Politics with Religion. Well, as much as I agree with that sentiment and truly wish we live in a country where people don’t vote based on religion, ehh..welcome to Egypt. We are religious people, and whether we like it or not, Imams and Priests are community leaders. We have to engage them, get them on our side and have them help us with the hearts and minds of their flock. An easy place to start are the individual churches and the Sufi festivals (Fun Fact of the Day: the Sufis are 16 million in Egypt. I KNOW!), get those two groups, and then focus on all the local imams that are in your area. If you manage to convince 1 Imam in every 5, you already caused them to lose a sizable part of their base. Try to convince 2 :)

6) Know thy enemy: We need to compile a data-base on all the NDP names we know in every district, and then research their history and public record in the parliament. We need to get the history of all the known MB MP’s in the egyptian parliament and find out what bullshit policies they were pursuing during their tenure there. We need to know how popular they are and how much dirt there is on them. We need to know who their financial backers are and what businesses they own. A lot of the info is already available online. Let’s compile it and learn from it. This will be useful later.

7) Prepare for the propaganda war: The other side has already started the Propaganda war over the refrendum, using lies and fear-mongering to get people to vote their way. I am not a fan of lying or fear-mongering, but I have no problem using the truth as a weapon to hammer my agenda home. Tell people the truth: Tell them of the MB’s record in the parliament- how they wanted to ban books and music videos and the net. Tell people what Hamas- the MB of Ghaza- did t the population the moment they seized power (No music, No shisha, no concerts, no free media, intimidation and fear). Start creating banners accusing them of being agents for wanting to sell the country’s soul to the Gulfies, and start asking loudly where their seemingly endless money comes from during this economic crisis. Play on nationalism and national Unity. Joined demonstrations of muslims and christians that congregate in front of the MB Supreme Council’s office, and do a sit in there until they vow to stop using sectarian tones and ads, and when they vow, throw it in their face every time they use a religious slogan. Go After the Salafis as well. If they call you infidels, you call them Taliban. Remind people when they used to throw acid on girls for showing some legs or on their face for not wearing a Niqab. Remind people of the days when they used to target them and kill them, or when they used to crash weddings for being Haram or burn video stores and christian jewelery stores. Keep repeating everywhere you go that Egypt will never be Afghanistan, and people will start repeating that every time they see a Salafi or an MB member trying to use religion to his advantage. Start putting them on the defensive. They are weaker than you think, and the ways to neutralize them are endless.

That’s all for now, but let me remind you of one last thing before you go: You are more powerful than you know. You brought down Mubarak and his regime. You changed this country, gave it a future, and there is no way in hell you will allow those who use people’s ignorance to hijack it. They aimed to scare you yesterday, and instead they pissed you off. They pissed off the smartest, most fearless and most capable group of egyptians this nation ever gave birth to, thinking that you will see beards and yelling and you will run away screaming. They thought wrong. They miscalculated. They fucked up. And they will find that out soon enough. We gave them our hand in friendship, we gave them the benefit of the doubt and we wanted them equal partners in the building of this country’s future, while they were busy plotting against us with the NDP of all people. Well, moral clarity time: The NDP and the Islamists are two faces to the same coin, and neither can be allowed to control this country ever again. It’s time to quit being distracted, and start organizing and engaging people NOW. War has been declared on all of us, and we will be damned if we lose now. Just like the NDP, we will fight them until we can’t.

And in case you are wondering: We will win!

The Free Republic of Egypt

Dear Free People of Egypt,

It’s a lovely day to be talking to you all in a Mubarak and NDP free Egypt. It’s been quite the undertaking, and many people were terrified, injured or killed, but we somehow managed to do it. Congratulations on that to all of us. Pats on the back, everybody!

Naturally, we (the revolutionaries) still don’t think the battle is over. The Mubaraks are still free, so are Fathy Surrour, Zakaria Aazmy and Safwat ElSherief, alongside with all the corrupt NDP officials in all branches of government, not to mention all the state security and police officers who spent the last 3 decades terrorizing, monitoring, torturing & killing those they were supposed to protect. The Political prisoners and detained Jan25 protesters are still unlawfully in prison, the stolen money is still in foreign countries, and the Minimum wage of 200 dollars a month for all Egyptians is still not enforced. There is also the matter of transparency of the government (financially & operationally and having the country run by civilians instead of a military Junta, a new constitution to be drafted instead of one that gives absolute power to the head of state, political freedoms to all Egyptians, enforceable bill of rights to all Egyptians, equal rights to all women, equal political rights to Egyptians living abroad and/ or born or married to a foreigner, freedom of the media, etc..etc.. I don’t want to bore you, but, yep, lots of work is yet to be done, and it’s taking far too long by those in charge to get done, which is making us unhappy. And Unhappy protesters usually protest. It’s just a fact of life.

But we are hearing that some of you are unhappy with all this protesting. We are hearing that you think we are kids with no purpose or jobs, who are currently destroying the country and the economy by all of our protesting and demands. We are hearing that you just want stability & security, and that we are not listening to all of you or your concerns and that we are no different than the dictator we just toppled. Please be assured, this is not the case here, because you are our people, and your concerns are the same as our concerns. We must admit that we are surprised by such accusations, & some of us are not taking it well, while others don’t have time to respond because, let’s face it, trying to find out whether your friends are killed or not, and trying to free them from being court-martialed in the new democratic Egypt, all the while addressing a the new referendum, and the issue of Copts getting murdered, churches being burned and such other sectarian strife issues that plague us, well, it could become a consuming full-time job. Our sin might be that we are so used to fighting those small (in your opinion) battles that we are not focusing enough on explaining our point of view to you and how we are on the same side. For that we apologize and we hope you forgive us. Now, on to your concerns.

You are concerned about the lagging state of the economy and the losses that were caused by the revolution and all of our protests, and you just want everybody back to work, without asking yourself how is it that our economy was so weak that all it took to destroy it was less than two months of protests, while a country like France has nation-wide protests all the time, and their economy isn’t collapsing because of it. You are also forgetting that that the other main causes of the lag in economy is the complete & total corruption in all government institutions (state, municipal & local), the military curfew that’s completely destroying our logistical operations and Tourism, the absence of Security (more on that later), and the total confusion of (the many many many) foreign investors- who want to come to Egypt now and invest- in regards to who they could talk to in order to come here and invest, given that the civilian government has no power and the military council isn’t exactly approachable.

You are concerned about the thugs attacking and robbing you of your property & demanding the return of the police & security, but you are forgetting that the police (who acted no different than the thugs except having a shiny uniform) used to rob you every single day. And about those thugs who are terrorizing you, who let them out of their prisons in the first place and then refused to arrest them? Oh yes, I remember, the Police. Silly us for demanding that they get held accountable for their actions. We should beg them daily- like you- to come back to work unconditionally after they betrayed their oath to protect us & put us all in grave danger. Our bad.

You are concerned about your kids getting killed by thugs (who, again, reminder, are unleashed by the police), but you were not concerned that they were getting killed daily by the polluted water, the poisoned meats & fruits & vegetables, the completely unsafe roads & public transportation options, the complete and utter catastrophe that is health-care and Egyptian public hospitals, where far more people die than get better and where any Egyptian would rather not step a foot inside if they can afford to go to a private Hospital (which isn’t always incredibly better). Lest we forgot, even the grandson of our former President died in one of them. But yes, the thugs are the problem. Our bad.

You are concerned that the Islamists are going to take over the country and turn it into Afghanistan, and yet don’t seem concerned with taking concrete steps to ensure that this won’t happen without impeding their rights. A good way to do so is to demand the overhaul of the Egyptian education system, the end of bigotry & discrimination against minorities in all job positions (private or public), the removal of hate-inciting Imams or Priests from Mosques and Churches, and in case all of the aforementioned are too much for you to handle, you could simply stand for religious freedom and equal rights to all in Egypt, especially Egypt’s Christians, who in case you didn’t hear are getting attacked and their churches are getting burned and you don’t seem to care. We would recommend you take a small visit to the Maspiro protest and talk to “those people” and understand the issues at hand, but we also should understand that this would take some time from your busy schedule of complaining about us ruining everything. Our bad.

We get it. We see how we are irresponsible. How we are ruining the country. How we are not concerned about you. We are evil. A cancer that plagued this fine and healthy nation. 25 Khasayer. You are right not to like us. You are right to hold protests against protesting and only 500 of you would show up on a Friday and then claim you are talking in the name of the silent majority. Those millions of us who went down to support those demands are only from every social class and religious background and from both genders. We are in no way representative, especially that the majority of people in Tahrir right now are now the poorest of all the protesters, who are told to go home & live on 20 dollars a month salary until we figure all of this out in 6 month to a year, and all of your Korba Festival buddies are too busy to go there anymore. You want the ones who are still there to go home and leave u alone. After all the ones in Tahrir now are poor. They smell. Can’t have that! Egyptian people are not smelly or poor, of course. Shame on them for defaming us all.

So, since we are such a public menace and refuse to listen to reason, I have a proposal to all of you that will surely make you happy: How about we take all those people who took part in the revolution and supported it, and give them a piece of land in Egypt to create their own failed state on? Maybe somewhere in Sinai, on the beach, say Sharm el Sheikh for example? Yes, give us Sharm and some backland and leave us there, so you can continue living your lives in Peace and stability. We will give you back the Mubarak Family (we are not big fans) and we recommend you give us all those people you don’t like in return: you know those annoying minorities, like the Copts, the Bahaai’s , the Shia, the jews, the Nubians even. Yes, get rid of the races you dislike as well. We will take them all. We will even divide the people up fair and square and ensure that none of us remain with any of you. Ok? Let’s start right now.

You can have Ahmed Shafiq as your Prime Minister and we will take Essam Sharaf as ours.

You can have the NDP and its officials and we will have all the new political parties that are starting up all over the place.

You can have Aamr Moussa as your ideal Diplomat; we will take Mohamed ElBaradei as ours.

You can have Zaghloul elNaggar as your top Scientist; we will take Ahmed Zuweill.

You can have Alaa Mubarak, Ahmed Ezz, Mohamed Abu Elenein, ElMaghraby as your businessmen, and we will take Naguib Sawiris and the Bisharas and all the other businessmen in Egypt who want to run legitimate businesses without unnecessary bureaucracy and bribing 18 different entities to open and continue to run one.

You can Have Adel Emam, Yosra and Samah Aanwar, we will take Khaled Abulnaga , Basma and Yousra Ellouzy.

You can have Tamer Hosny and Mohamed Fouad, we will take Mohamed Mounir, Mariam Aly and Ramy Essam (and we will make sure no one tortures him while he is in their custody).

You can have Farouk Hosny, and we will take the artists that the revolution brought out.

You can have the Supreme Military Council meet your demands on their schedule and discretion; we will take the Revolution Trustee Council any day of the week.

You can have a country where women suffer from oppression, sexual assaults, genital mutilation and honor killing, we will have a country where women are in all positions of power, sexual harassment and FGM absolutely not tolerated, and where one gender doesn’t see that it has the right- in the name of honor- to oppress , beat and violently murder the other gender. We won’t tolerate that happening to our women; you can do with yours what you please.

You can keep a constitution that got amended so much in the past 7 years and still discriminates against many Egyptians and gives the President absolute Power, and we will have one that ensures the rights and equality of all of our citizens (no matterwhere their parents come from or whom they marry) and where there are checks and balances against executive Power.

You can keep an economy that is plagued with inefficiency, corruption, poverty and Monopoly. We will have one where entrepreneurship is encouraged and supported, our country open to all investments, and our workers are guaranteed a living wage.

You can keep a public school system in shambles and half of the population being illiterate, and be forced to pay for public schools and private tutoring for your children. We will have public schools that are well funded and teachers who are well-trained and well paid.

You can have your healthcare system being a complete and total fiasco where apathy and complete lack of concern for the patients’ well-being is what defines it, while our public Hospitals will be properly funded and staffed and those who due to negligence harm or kill a patient will be held accountable.

You can have a country where people believe that being civilized is to go for one day and clean Tahrir Square up, while we will believe that true civilization is ensuring that our government cleans our street up and as for us, well, we just won’t litter.

You can have Your Internal Security services spying on you, arresting you indefinitely, collaborating with terrorists to attack your churches (if you will continue to have any) torturing and/or kill you, and your Police to bully you and blackmail you. Our internal security service won’t do that to us and our Police will protect us, will uphold the law, and, god forbid, reduce crime and put criminals in jail instead of letting them out.

You can have an Army that dictates orders to you; we will have an army that obeys us.

As you can see, what we are asking for is totally unrealistic and we are completely dedicated to destroying ourselves. If we are truly such a problem, we urge you to help us make that happen, so we can get out of your hair as soon as possible.

But if you are insane and unreasonable like the rest of us, please join us and help us. We don’t want our own state, we want to do this here. We want our Country, Egypt, to be the best country it can be. One where we all can live and co-exist; one where the state is healthy and functions and all are represented and have rights. That’s what we always wanted and called for, and we don’t know when that message stopped being clear to you.

We are not saints. We make mistakes and we are not above criticism of any kind. You have the right not to help rebuild the country, and you have the right to criticize those who are trying to do it, but you don’t have the right not to help and only criticize that things aren’t exactly to your liking. If you don’t like something, change it. That was the lesson of the Jan25 revolution after all, you know?

So please, if you agree with our vision, join us, and if you can’t, simply defend us. We have achieved so much, that it would be a sin to stop now.

Help us! We need you!

Sincerely,

Mahmoud Salem

(A Jan25 Protester)

 

Mubarak’s Egypt NO MORE

Today, the people were more resolved than ever to get rid of Hosny Mubarak, especially after last night's provocative statement. I went to the presidential palaces alongside thousands of Egyptians and we surrounded it completely. Within a couple of hours we received the news: MUBARAK HAD ABDICATED!

Now, mind you, he didn't really abdicate..the army overthrew him. That's why we only had Omar Suleiman letting us know this. But it doesn't matter. We will get all the money they stole and use it to rebuild the country.

Tonight will be the first night where I go to bed and don't have to worry about state security hunting me down, or about government goons sent to kidnap me; or about government sponsored hackers attacking my website. Tonight, for the first time ever, I feel free…and it is awesome! :)

Save any and all disagreements with any of the groups that operate them. We will disagree with each other, and that will be sweet because no more dictatorship. Tomorrow we squabble,and…tonite?

TONIGHT WE CELEBRATE! :)

 FUCK OFF MUBARAK..I HOPE YOU BURN IN HELL! :)

Mubarak’s gamble

Earlier yesterday, I spoke to Wael Ghonim and he told me to expect some very good news around 5 pm that night, but he never elaborated what it is. Around 10 am, we heard that Saudi Arabia, alongside UAE and Kuwait, are creating an aid package to Egypt to possibly replace that of the US. Around 4 pm last night, we recieved the news that the President itends to step down tonight and give all of his responsbilities to the VP, Omar Suleiman. The Army then convened and issued its first statement, in a meeting without Mubarak or his VP around 5 pm. Around 9 pm Egypt time, Obama did a speech congratulating the people of Egypt for their march for democracy, so it seemed like a done deal. Finally, an hour later than originally announced, President Hosny Mubarak , against all expectations and information, refused to step down from his post, and said that he refuses any foreign interference in Egypt.  The White House then announced that it has been double-crossed by the Egyptian regime.

 Now, what does this all mean?

Well, 4 main things:

1) Mubarak is not going to leave Office without bloodshed. Any attempt for a peaceful exit has been discarded by his regime, and they are intending to fight the will of the people until the end.

2) Mubarak has burned the image of Hossam Badrawy and the Wisemen council with his speech. Hossam Badrawy, the secretary general of the NDP, was the face of the NDP that announced Mubarak's intenetion to abdicate power later tonight. Now the man has no credibility. Same goes for the Wiseman Council, since Mubarak's speech was focused on how he has met their demands, which don't include him leaving. If most of them don't quit their posts today, I would be greatly surprised.

3) We are seeing the first possible split in the power structure in Egypt: It seems that the Armed forces are in one camp, and the president, intelligence agencies and the republican guard in another camp. If you add to the equation the Ministery of Interior and the protesters, you have 4 players right now in an intensely unpredictable power struggle. We are now awaiting the second statement from the High council of amred forces to clearify their position once and for all. Whether the Army is with or against the people will determine a lot of today's outcome.

4) Mubarak has now put the US in a corner: He double-crossed the White House, and announced his intentions to fight foriegn intervention. Adding to that the news of the arab aid, he is sending the US a clear message: "I could tell you and your aid to go to hell, and get the money from the arabs instead. Where does this leave your precious Israel? If you don't want us to cause problems on that front,  you better shut up about what we will do and get with the program, or else!"

If you take all of those factors into consideration, the situation starts looking intensely ominous. If the regime and the army has split, we could see major fighting and bloodshed today. If the Army is with the President, then they will all turn their guns on the Protesters, who are determined not to live under Mubarak rule for one extra day. It also means that he put on the line the future of the transitional government with Omar Suleiman in charge, because Suleiman's fate seems intensely intertwined with the President now. This has become a fight for survival: it's either the regime or the people. The bad news is, the regime has all the weapon and organization. The good news is, the people are determined and increasing in numbers and the army might step in and save us all unnecessary bloodshed.

It all depends on the army's statement now.

The wait is killing me. 

The Way Forward

Today started with two very important facts: 1) The Mass resignation of important Mubarak regime figures from their posts in the Ruling National Democratic Party, including his longtime crony Safwat ElSherif and his own son Gamal Mubarak ; 2) The number of people who called me asking what the next move for the Tahrir Protesters will be and were disappointed by the lack of a clear way forward to the movement. They feared the protests would lose momentum and this historic moment would slowly dwindle and die.

Now, I am not a leader of this movement, and god knows I would be loathe to name myself as a spokesperson for the 5 million individuals nationwide who have joined these protests. If anything, I am simply a promoter and a participant who is way too proud of the fact that this is a movement with no leaders or representatives. In many ways this has helped the cohesion and unity of those protests: people agreed on a set of demands that promote general democracy, accountability and freedom. Demands that promote self-governing and personal rights no matter what your ideological leanings may be. We thought that was enough, and now we are thinking it might not be after all.

If we are to assess the successes of the movement so far, there have been a few key victories, but not any truly major ones. Mubarak says he won’t run again, but he won’t step down. Mubarak will change the constitution but will use the same parliament that has election fraud indictment tarring over 85% of its members. Even with today’s news, what the NDP did so far has been more cosmetic than actual change. We shouldn’t be appeased by it. Mubarak is still President, Emergency law is still in effect, the parliament hasn’t been dissolved, new elections haven’t been called for and the constitution is still that flexible document that the ruling party can change whenever they see fit. Even though we appear to be winning, we are not by a long shot.

Now, regarding the way forward, so far we seem to have two options on the table : 1) For the Jan 25 protests to remain as is: anarchic yet goal-oriented; & 2) the Wisemen’s council , which is currently being promoted as the third option between the Government’s Stubbornness and the Protesters unyielding persistence . They are gaining traction amongst those who do need leaders to represent their views and negotiate with the government, and their proposal is worth considering. The problem with the Wisemen’s council as a third option is this: while it is respectable and contains prominent Egyptian leaders and businessmen, I am not sure what leverage they got on either side or if either side would accept it as a mediating force.

That being said, the status quo just won’t due. This lack of action and organization will be used against us (the protesters) in every way possible. The participants will start complaining about the lack of direction or movement leaders. The government will start complaining that the protesters haven’t offered a single person to represent them and negotiate with the government for them, and that the protesters don’t know what they want. Mind you, this is utter rubbish: It’s not that the protesters don’t know what they want (you can read about their demands everywhere), it’s that their demands are so nonnegotiable for them, that it makes no sense for them to engage in negotiations until a number of those demands get realized. Thus, Gridlock!

So here are my two cents: next time when you head to Tahrir, alongside blankets and food and medicine, please get some foldable tables, chairs, papers, pens, a laptop and a USB connection. Set up a bunch of tables and start registering the protesters. Get their names, ages, addresses & districts. Based on location, start organizing them into committees, and then have those committees elect leaders or representatives. Do the same in Alex, In Mansoura, in Suez, in every major Egyptian city in which the Protesters braved police suppression and came out in the thousands. Protect the Data with your life. Get encryption programs to ensure the security of the data. Use web-based tools like Google documents to input the data in, thus ensuring that even if your laptops get confiscated by State Security Goons, they won’t find anything on your harddrives. Have people outside of Egypt back-up your data daily on secure servers. Then, start building the structure.

You see, with such Proper citizen organization and segmentation, we’ll have the contact information and location of all the protesters that showed up, and that could be transformed into voting blocks in parliamentary districts: i.e. a foundation for an Egyptian Unity party. That Egyptian Unity Party will be an Umbrella party that promotes equality, democracy & accountability, without any ideological slants. It should be centrist, because we don’t want any boring Left vs. Right squabbling at that stage. Once you institute the structure, start educating the members on their rights and their obligations as citizens. Convince them to bring their friends and relatives into meeting. Establish voters’ critical mass , all under that party.

The Egyptian Unity Party, however, will not be a permanent structure, but rather a transitional entity with a clear and direct purpose: create the grassroots organization to take back the parliament and presidency in the next elections. Once sufficient votes and seats have been obtained, the party will amend the constitution to promote civil liberties, plurality, and truly democratic elections. Once that constitution is in place, the party can disband, and its elected members can start forming their own parties and collations, based on their personal beliefs and ideologies, or they can join any of the existing parties, and breathe some life into their decaying carcasses. We will end up with an actual political process and representative political parties that will actually discuss policy and have to represent those who voted for them so that they can get re-elected. Democracy in action. An old but brilliant concept. A way to ensure that no matter what, we will have a huge influence on who becomes the next Egyptian President come election day in September.

I am extremely hopeful we can do this. So far we have proved all the critics and the haters wrong. It’s time to do that again!

Egypt, right now!

I don't know how to start writing this. I have been battling fatigue for not sleeping properly for the past 10 days, moving from one's friend house to another friend's house, almost never spending a night in my home, facing a very well funded and well organized ruthless regime that views me as nothing but an annoying bug that its time to squash will come. The situation here is bleak to say the least.

It didn't start out that way. On Tuesday Jan 25 it all started peacefully, and against all odds, we succeeded to gather hundreds of thousands and get them into Tahrir Square, despite being attacked by Anti-Riot Police who are using sticks, tear gas and rubber bullets against us. We managed to break all of their barricades and situated ourselves in Tahrir. The government responded by shutting down all cell communication in Tahrir square, a move which purpose was understood later when after midnight they went in with all of their might and attacked the protesters and evacuated the Square. The next day we were back at it again, and the day after. Then came Friday and we braved their communication blackout, their thugs, their tear gas and their bullets and we retook the square. We have been fighting to keep it ever since.

That night the government announced a military curfew, which kept getting shorter by the day, until it became from 8 am to 3 pm. People couldn't go to work, gas was running out quickly and so were essential goods and money, since the banks were not allowed to operate and people were not able to collect their salary. The internet continued to be blocked, which affected all businesses in Egypt and will cause an economic meltdown the moment they allow the banks to operate again. We were being collectively punished for daring to say that we deserve democracy and rights, and to keep it up, they withdrew the police, and then sent them out dressed as civilians to terrorize our neighborhoods. I was shot at twice that day, one of which with a semi-automatic by a dude in a car that we the people took joy in pummeling. The government announced that all prisons were breached, and that the prisoners somehow managed to get weapons and do nothing but randomly attack people. One day we had organized thugs in uniforms firing at us and the next day they disappeared and were replaced by organized thugs without uniforms firing at us. Somehow the people never made the connection.

Despite it all, we braved it. We believed we are doing what's right and were encouraged by all those around us who couldn't believe what was happening to their country. What he did galvanized the people, and on Tuesday, despite shutting down all major roads leading into Cairo, we managed to get over 2 million protesters in Cairo alone and 3 million all over Egypt to come out and demand Mubarak's departure. Those are people who stood up to the regime's ruthlessness and anger and declared that they were free, and were refusing to live in the Mubarak dictatorship for one more day. That night, he showed up on TV, and gave a very emotional speech about how he intends to step down at the end of his term and how he wants to die in Egypt, the country he loved and served. To me, and to everyone else at the protests this wasn't nearly enough, for we wanted him gone now. Others started asking that we give him a chance, and that change takes time and other such poppycock. Hell, some people and family members cried when they saw his speech. People felt sorry for him for failing to be our dictator for the rest of his life and inheriting us to his Son. It was an amalgam of Stockholm syndrome coupled with slave mentality in a malevolent combination that we never saw before. And the Regime capitalized on it today.

Today, they brought back the internet, and started having people calling on TV and writing on facebook on how they support Mubarak and his call for stability and peacefull change in 8 months. They hung on to the words of the newly appointed government would never harm the protesters, whom they believe to be good patriotic youth who have a few bad apples amongst them. We started getting calls asking people to stop protesting because "we got what we wanted" and "we need the country to start working again". People were complaining that they miss their lives. That they miss going out at night, and ordering Home Delivery. That they need us to stop so they can resume whatever existence they had before all of this. All was forgiven, the past week never happened and it's time for Unity under Mubarak's rule right now.

To all of those people I say: NEVER! I am sorry that your lives and businesses are disrupted, but this wasn't caused by the Protesters. The Protesters aren't the ones who shut down the internet that has paralyzed your businesses and banks: The government did. The Protesters weren't the ones who initiated the military curfew that limited your movement and allowed goods to disappear off market shelves and gas to disappear: The government did. The Protesters weren't the ones who ordered the police to withdraw and claimed the prisons were breached and unleashed thugs that terrorized your neighborhoods: The government did. The same government that you wish to give a second chance to, as if 30 years of dictatorship and utter failure in every sector of government wasn't enough for you. The Slaves were ready to forgive their master, and blame his cruelty on those who dared to defy him in order to ensure a better Egypt for all of its citizens and their children. After all, he gave us his word, and it's not like he ever broke his promises for reform before or anything.

Then Mubarak made his move and showed them what useful idiots they all were.

You watched on TV as "Pro-Mubarak Protesters" – thugs who were paid money by NDP members by admission of High NDP officials- started attacking the peaceful unarmed protesters in Tahrir square. They attacked them with sticks, threw stones at them, brought in men riding horses and camels- in what must be the most surreal scene ever shown on TV- and carrying whips to beat up the protesters. And then the Bullets started getting fired and Molotov cocktails started getting thrown at the Anti-Mubarak Protesters as the Army standing idly by, allowing it all to happen and not doing anything about it. Dozens were killed, hundreds injured, and there was no help sent by ambulances. The Police never showed up to stop those attacking because the ones who were captured by the Anti-mubarak people had police ID's on them. They were the police and they were there to shoot and kill people and even tried to set the Egyptian Museum on Fire. The Aim was clear: Use the clashes as pretext to ban such demonstrations under pretexts of concern for public safety and order, and to prevent disunity amongst the people of Egypt. But their plans ultimately failed, by those resilient brave souls who wouldn't give up the ground they freed of Egypt, no matter how many live bullets or firebombs were hurled at them. They know, like we all do, that this regime no longer cares to put on a moderate mask. That they have shown their true nature. That Mubarak will never step down, and that he would rather burn Egypt to the ground than even contemplate that possibility.

In the meantime, State-owned and affiliated TV channels were showing coverage of Peaceful Mubarak Protests all over Egypt and showing recorded footage of Tahrir Square protest from the night before and claiming it's the situation there at the moment. Hundreds of calls by public figures and actors started calling the channels saying that they are with Mubarak, and that he is our Father and we should support him on the road to democracy. A veiled girl with a blurred face went on Mehwer TV claiming to have received funding by Americans to go to the US and took courses on how to bring down the Egyptian government through protests which were taught by Jews. She claimed that AlJazeera is lying, and that the only people in Tahrir square now were Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. State TV started issuing statements on how the people arrested Israelis all over Cairo engaged in creating mayhem and causing chaos. For those of you who are counting this is an American-Israeli-Qatari-Muslim Brotherhood-Iranian-Hamas conspiracy. Imagine that. And MANY PEOPLE BOUGHT IT. I recall telling a friend of mine that the only good thing about what happened today was that it made clear to us who were the idiots amongst our friends. Now we know.

Now, just in case this isn't clear: This protest is not one made or sustained by the Muslim Brotherhood, it's one that had people from all social classes and religious background in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood only showed up on Tuesday, and even then they were not the majority of people there by a long shot. We tolerated them there since we won't say no to fellow Egyptians who wanted to stand with us, but neither the Muslims Brotherhood not any of the Opposition leaders have the ability to turn out one tenth of the numbers of Protesters that were in Tahrir on Tuesday. This is a revolution without leaders. Three Million individuals choosing hope instead of fear and braving death on hourly basis to keep their dream of freedom alive. Imagine that.

The End is near. I have no illusions about this regime or its leader, and how he will pluck us and hunt us down one by one till we are over and done with and 8 months from now will pay people to stage fake protests urging him not to leave power, and he will stay "because he has to acquiesce to the voice of the people". This is a losing battle and they have all the weapons, but we will continue fighting until we can't. I am heading to Tahrir right now with supplies for the hundreds injured, knowing that today the attacks will intensify, because they can't allow us to stay there come Friday, which is supposed to be the game changer. We are bringing everybody out, and we will refuse to be anything else than peaceful. If you are in Egypt, I am calling on all of you to head down to Tahrir today and Friday. It is imperative to show them that the battle for the soul of Egypt isn't over and done with. I am calling you to bring your friends, to bring medical supplies, to go and see what Mubarak's gurantees look like in real life. Egypt needs you. Be Heroes.

I AM UPDATING TWITTER

Follow me there:

http://twitter.com/#!/Sandmonkey

All the updates are there!

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!