Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Is it finally Freedom for Egyptians?

I know I have been away for more than three years. But I could not miss this time.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

My Baby

My baby is turning three years this month. I cannot believe how time has passed so quickly. On June 25, 2005, my baby was born in a good shape. I am an only daughter so is my baby. Elder kids like me are born independent so is my baby. She is not totally fatherless. She has a father who witnessed and “inspired” her birth. Remotely he saw her growing everyday, proud of her. He frequently fed her, though busy moving between places. She was not born within wedlock, but who cares. She does not need papers. I do not find a problem taking her anywhere and cross borders with her. I do not mind leaving her alone by herself, she knows how to strike friendships and play and talk with other people of all ages. I never worry about her. Like all kids, they change their parents’ lives. She changed my life too. However, I did not have to shut down other rooms in my life especially for her. I created a room for her in my life but not at the expense of others in my life. I look at her and I see part of me. Sometimes, I think that I am her kid. She takes all my moods and whims. She keeps my secrets. I say what I want to say in front of her without embarrassment and without abusing her. She does not mind. She is so naughty and playful. She attracts attention everywhere she goes. I get lots of comments from her viewers that I have to respond. Her friends became my friends. I had to accompany her to public gatherings and talk about her. I can never be more proud when I am applauded for her. I do not take care of her everyday as I used to be in her first months. She is getting older and she takes care of some of her stuff. Last year I thought of getting her a sibling, but I thought it is too much work. I am so busy. She has already millions of siblings from all over the world. They keep her entertained.

And because she is turning three this month, two weeks ago my baby joined baby day care while I am busy doing other things in my life. I am giving her an opportunity to mingle, deal and care for other siblings of different nationalities and also help her grow in a different healthy direction. I have been preparing her for this moment since last April and so far she is doing well. “Freedom for Egyptians”, you are three years old, but I feel as if I knew you all my life. You were somewhere in my mind all those years waiting to be born!

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Friday, May 25, 2007

"Freedom for Egyptians" featured in Gulf News today

"The Gulf News Web team delve into the blogosphere to bring you the best of blogging on the clashes in Lebanon that gripped the attention of the region and the world for the past three days... More."

Thursday, May 24, 2007

No More Cinderella Stories!

When I was a little girl, I read so many children's stories classics in Arabic and in English. It was my mom's treat to take me to a bookstore Down Town to buy the books I like.

Most of the girls' stories were ending in victory because the prince fell in love with her. The girl's happiness was always dependent on winning the heart of the prince. The only way to get out of her misry is by marrying her prince..

In today's world, men and women equally create their own happiness and such stories are no longer valid that's what got today in the new fairy tale.....

This is the fairy tale that should have been read to us when we were little:

Once upon a time
in a land far away,
a beautiful, independent,
self-assured princess
happened upon a frog as she sat
contemplating ecological issues
on the shores of an unpolluted pond
in a verdant meadow near her castle.
The frog hopped into the princess' lap
and said: " Elegant Lady,
I was once a handsome prince,
until an evil witch cast a spell upon me.
One kiss from you, however,
and I will turn back
into the dapper, young prince that I am
and then, my sweet, we can marry
and set up housekeeping in your castle
with my mother,
where you can prepare my meals,
clean my clothes, bear my children,
and forever feel
grateful and happy doing so. "
That night,
as the princess dined sumptuously
on lightly sauteed frog legs
seasoned in a white wine
and onion cream sauce,
she chuckled and thought to herself:
I don't freakin think so

Thursday, May 17, 2007

"Perfume" by German Director Tom Tykwer (2006)

Perfume. The movie title could be misleading for those who did not read the novel, one of the best-selling novels worldwide. Das Parfum was written by German novelist Patrick Süskind in 1985. The book was translated into 45 languages. Finally in 2006 the novel was translated into this huge movie production that held the same name. And now it is playing in Cairo movie theaters.

I highly recommend watching “Perfume”. The story is so different. It goes beyond children’s vast imagination.

Humans’ senses and instincts reflect a balanced interest in life pleasures. Each sense and instinct build up our reactions and interactions with what we want in life. If a human being is reduced to owning a strong olfactory, consequences could be catastrophic. The main character Jean-Baptiste Grenouille that was played by Ben Whishaw is a human being who was reduced to a nose. He interacts and reacts with life through his nose. The strong powers allow him to identify smells and combine them to beautiful perfumes.

The movie takes place in the 18th century in France. One night Grenouille loses his way in Paris while following a woman that sells plum who did not even see her face. He was so attracted to her scent. He stifled her unconsciously. He could not get over the loss…the loss of the scent not the woman.
Whishaw succeeded in vacuuming his own self to play this role. On screen all you can see is a sexless void empty human being. It is very difficult to express this human voidness and soul emptiness because it is also so rare to find in real life. If you look into anyone’s eyes, it has to say something, not necessarily a smart thing but the eyes can say “I am stupid”. But at the end of the day, it says something. I was so impressed to watch Whishaw’s talent in reflecting this soul voidness and emptiness.

Every one of us has a way to capture life and love. Humans fail to capture love with the same magnitude and strength. Jean-Baptiste Grenouille tried to capture love and life in a bottle of perfume. And because he is a human being reduced only into a man with a strong sense of smell, he captured love in a fatal way that turned him into a murderer.

His attraction feelings towards the plum woman that he could not satisfy nor understand turned him into an obsessed person. He wanted to bottle the scent of humans like the rose petals. His mind could not help understand losing the scent of this woman he got attracted to her by death.

It is a very complicated and sophisticated story to be related, but the main actors and actresses personified their roles with high level of talent. The story has so many levels and aspects that can be highlighted. It reminds me of old British literature classics.

I cannot forget to mention the music of the movie. Director Tom Tykwer together with Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek, performed by Berlin Philharmonic, put the music together to bring one of the best sound tracks for any movie I have seen recently.

All I can say that Perfume is one of those movies that words fall short of giving it its due. Probably the reason is because it is an adaptation of a very well-written novel.

Recent movie blog posts:
"Un homme et Une Femme" (1966) by French director Claude Lelouch
"Ma Vie en Rose" by Belgian director Alain Berliner (1997)
Take a Life Ride with No “Amputated Spirit”
Trois Couleurs: by Krzysztof Kieślowski (1993 -1994)
“Teach Me How to Dance”, Alexis Zorba

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

France Goes Right

French Presidential Candidate Conservative Nicolas Sarkozy is taking over the Elysee Palace on May 16 or 17 when President Chirac leaves after 12 years in power.

Sarkozy’s victory will signal a new balance of powers in Europe and worldwide. Following the war on Iraq, most of the European governments that took over were leftists or center left as the case with Spain and Italy. Sarkozy who made it clear that he is against the war on Iraq, is a right wing pro-American French politician however. Sarkozy's victory in a world charged against right wing governments that supported the war in Iraq, says something about France’s domestic affairs and the French people’s new orientation.

In his victory speech, he addressed the United States and the American people acknowledging the importance of America and its role. The White House’s spokesman congratulated the new French president on behalf of President Bush.

If the socialist leftist candidate Segolene Royal have won that would have put France in a very awkward position. Chavez’s bloc might have been a first resort for Royal, something would have soured France’s relations not only with the US but with the entire EU bloc and would add the French people frustration.

I remember a conversation with a French colleague who is a very Pro-American. She expressed her anger and disappointment at the politically-encouraged anti-American sentiments in France. She was not happy about it at all and she said that this is affecting our country economically and taking us down. Like-minded people as my friend who voted for Sarkozy will take France to a new juncture politically.

Germany, the EU current president, and France will bring a new political power to the European Union that could push for the ratification of the EU constitution that did not pass when Europe voted against it in 2005.

May 16, 2007 is bringing a new France to the world. France may not change radically its policies towards the Middle East to which it has been a friend all the past decades but France’s new political alliances will definitely affect the region indirectly. Arabs who shared with France their anti-American sentiments will no more find this resort.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Iraq's Madfai sings for “Al Baghdadia” in Cairo

Thousands of young Egyptians, some Iraqis and other nationalities from all over the world gathered in the Chinese Garden at Cairo Conference center for one day long of music. The musical day was organized by a private-sector initiative, Vodafone Live Music, which means it is a non-Ministry of Culture event. It was a very causal concert. You can only be standing or sitting on the grass. And the musical day was concluded with the talented Iraqi artist Ilham Al Madfai.

I was surprised to see another Egypt that I did not expect to see. I went with my friends hoping to see Iraqi artist Madfai in the first place. His singing and music is a mix between traditional Arabic lyrics and Latin American tunes. He has a band that plays on traditional Arabic and western musical instruments which makes his music close to a mystical international blend that appeals to all tastes. One reason of his success is that he does not claim to be sticking to the authentic Arabic music nor being a copy from western or Latin American Music. His music is his own original invention that only sticks to global taste. Some Arab fanatic musicians take pride in being nothing but Arab musicians, but Madfai created an international fusion of music, very difficult to be missed by any audience anywhere.

As for the crowd that came to attend the concert, they were mainly this generation that was born in the 80’s. They are a very open and free youth socially and my assumption they are all still in school and college. The new private universities established in Egypt recently brought new style of youth that I believe divided the society into two extremes. Those new private universities include the German, French, British and Canadian, and regrettably before the American university which was in a way invaded by the Ikhwan (Egypt's Islamists) style, enroll young Egyptians that you can see in any school in any country in the world. Needless to say that the state-run universities became the hotbeds and pockets for Islamists in Egypt and the wall paper for extremist ideas and political Islamist fanatisim, despite the long history of those Egyptian universities like Cairo Univeristy. I had the chance to talk to some of those young students but not enough to learn about what is going on in their minds. However, appearance wise, they look like any western students in my own opinion. Some of them do not speak except a foreign language. I have heard strong American accents. It just tells me one thing about the huge gap between the leadership of the country and the new rising generations. Most of the Egyptian leadership is calling for maintaining our Egyptian and Arab identity as if they have hired themselves to be guardians to an undefined identity that does not longer exists except by devaluation in the global market to determine its real value. Those thousands that I saw yesterday are a beautiful hybrid of modern life and Egyptianism. There is nothing in their attitude that says what the country’s leadership is saying about sticking to our Arab/Egyptian identity. Three of the Egyptian bands that played yesterday were playing their original music in English. In modern world, normal people normally become magnets to diversity and to the values of tolerance that encompass anything that appeals to human senses in general. There is no more ownership to human history and civilizations or universal culture. And that’s what I have seen yesterday.
A group of Iraqi youth came yesterday to cheer Madfai. When he started to sing for “Al Baghdadia” (a woman for Baghdad) you could easily know where they are. Madfai replaced the “Al Baghdadia” with the Egyptian and Lebanese women and that led to more whistles and applause as if it was a competition. Part of the Iraqi flavor that was added to the night was the Iraqi Dabka. A group of young Iraqi guys were dancing between the standing crowd. Another big cosmopolitan circle that included Asians, westerners, Middle Easterners and Egyptians continued dancing all night with different versions of dances, some of them I had never seen in my life. But they brought such a wonderful positive energy to the scene. My friends and I were dancing too and to my surprise no intimidation from any one around.

This does not mean that there was no intimidation on part of the government. But while talking yesterday to a member from the participating bands, he told me that his band had to change their name because of clashes with state security over the lyrics by one of the popular opposition poets that they sing. The good news is that they do not give up. They came back with a new name and started working again because they have an audience that motivates them. One of the organizers also told me that three Iraqis artists who were supposed to come with Madfai from Amman, Jordan, were denied visas to Egypt. The claim is that Egypt does not grant Iraqis and Palestinians visas any more! I guess refugees problem. Despite complications of visa procedures, the music of Madfai reached out to the hearts of thousands of Egyptians last night who gathered to celebrate and cheer such an important Iraqi artist in the Middle East and worldwide.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

"Un homme et Une Femme" (1966) by French director Claude Lelouch

“Un homme et Une Femme” , 1966, is starring Annouk Aimee and Jean-Louis Trintignant. It is one of the classics of the French movie industry and winner of best foreign movie from the Academy and the Grand Prix from Cannes Film festival.

Sometimes when ideas are simple and are about every day life of everyone they become more capturing and real and surprisingly of stronger impact than expected. Dating, love stories and missing old beloveds happen to everyone with no discrimination.

The movie is simply capturing the moment of second chances in the love lives of Aimee and Trintignant. Both of them have lost their partners. Aimee was so in love with her husband that she still talks about him as if he is alive. But because life is not about lingering in the past, it offers her a new chance by meeting Trintignant who is also a widow.

The music of “Un homme et Une Femme” by Francis Lai is the most famous in the 60’s era. Most of the Egyptian love movies borrowed the music. As an Egyptian I could immediately recognize it and feel that I am back to some scenes of the old Egyptian movies.

Annouk and Trintignant meet by chance after spending their Sunday with their children who are in the same board school. He offers her ride back to Paris. And here comes their first unplanned date. They share the car in a journey mixed with a talk about her past memories. She talked about her past as if it was her present. She was clinging too much to her past and living it as it had never passed. However, meeting Trintignant was about her new present and coming future. The scene leaves us in suspense about their availability. They seem single but Annouk is speaking about her deceased husband as if alive. Both of them are wearing rings. The suspense level is accentuated by the bad weather factor.

Interior scenes are black and white while external scenes are colored. My first interpretation for the black and white scenes is that they are made like the dreams. We are usually not very sure about the colors of our dreams. But to my surprise it was a budget issue, according to the director. The flip flopping between the black and white, and the colored scenes was made so precisely that you can never guess it is a budget issue. The fact that exterior scenes were in colors made me believe that the openness of life are usually the true colors of life while what we live in our interior self is only made by us thus defined by two colors because it is so limited. The continuous swinging between the white and black and colored scenes is so life-like. We keep living two lives; one that’s happening to us which we are sure and certain of and the other is uncertain because it did not happen yet. And this how the movie continues to unfold. And because we lived the past, we can define it. So, those past scenes were produced in the movie in colors.

Life is a journey. The first encounter in the movie between Aimee and Trintignant was in his car. He gave her a ride to Paris. Car travel scenes were stressed in the movie due to the fact that Trintignant was a car racer and tester. And I guess about the idea that life journeys have a destination that we decide to take when we receive a chance.

The movie brings the idea of women as memory creatures. Aimee keeps remembering her husband when Trintignant is not really recalling lots of memory scenes with his wife.

Trintignant is always confused and keeps thinking every time Aimee sends him a love gesture. She was the one who even took the initiative to say the “I love you” word. He ran to meet with her, traveling thousands of miles after a car race that he won. But all the way to Paris he was thinking constantly what he should do or tell her. The director made it clear how men can be so insecure to react when they fall in love.

A climax scene in the movie is when Aimee and Trintignant go on a date that ends in an hotel room. He realizes that he is the only one involved in the relationship. She is not entirely with him as she keeps remembering her husband while making love to him. She suddenly distances herself from him after the scene. The climax scene is so classical. It is about this angle of life that widens suddenly until it comes to a full circle when things become so meaningful and clear.

Clinging to the past as Aimee did could be a decision to deny the self a second chance in life and happiness. She accepted to live her present and share the happy future with Trintignant when she let the past pass.

Recent movie blog posts:
"Ma Vie en Rose" by Belgian director Alain Berliner (1997)
Take a Life Ride with No “Amputated Spirit”
Trois Couleurs: by Krzysztof Kieślowski (1993 -1994)
“Teach Me How to Dance”, Alexis Zorba

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Washington, DC, Demonstration on Monday March 26

Washington, DC in front of the Egyptian Embassy
26 March 07
11am - 1pm
3521 International Court, NW

Egyptians are also protesting else where
Cairo: Sunday March 25 at Tahrir Square 6pm
London: Monday March 26 at Egyptian Embassy 12 - 3 pm
New York: Monday March 26 at Egyptian Consulate 12:30 - 1:30 pm, 1110 Second Avenue, NYC 10022 (shehabfakhry@yahoo.com 917-392-9408) More details Here in English and Arabic!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Egyptian Blogger Abdel Karim Suleiman Did Not Blow Himself Up in a Train Station

As an Egyptian fellow blogger I stand with Karim, because I will never side with processes meant to terrorize innocent citizens who are exercising their innate right to freedom of expression and because I will never be part of a tribunal of inquisition in the 21st century. Those tribunals judged arbitrarily and without appeal like the current Emergency Laws and military courts applied in Egypt.

During the Middle Ages between the 5th and the 15th centuries, the Catholic Church was not only a religious institution, but also an immensely rich financial establishment that interferes and influences politics in the West. The largest Sunni religious institution in Egypt and the Middle East, Al-Azahr, has the right to give its say in politics and referring people accused of heresy to courts and prisons. If the measure cannot be damaging enough to send people to prisons like Egyptian blogger Abdel Karim, an irreversible Fatwa (religious opinion) can lead an Islamic fanatic or extremist to put an end to a person exercising his freedom of expression by spilling his blood. The Cairo-based religious institution is financed by the government and their employees are civil servants.

It is worth mentioning that during the Middle Ages that the more economic and political power and influence of the Church have increased, the more its genuine religious and spiritual strength has weakened. It is clear that Egypt is showing less tolerance and spirituality over the dominance of more support to terrorist ideology that does not believe in supporting basic human rights like freedom of expression. Back in the eleventh century, the Catholic Church made the gradual change from the spiritual to worldly matters with institution of tribunal of Inquisition. Religion had to be imposed and enforced with the appointment of unqualified and misappropriate men of the holy orders which became a matter of inheritance that led to the degeneration of the spiritual life. Many of them did not know how to read and had forgotten how to say a mass. In Egypt today, informal mosques became a job for the unempolyed uneducated people to release fatwas and earn a living through people’s “Zakat” and donations. These tax-free informal mosques attract unemployed Egyptians and non-Egyptians. Any male, who volunteer to stay from dawn to sun set and call for prayers, is qualified to release fatwas and be a politician, if needed, to decide on terrorizing Egyptians before non-Egyptians and judging the level of their faith and spirituality.

Egyptian blogger Abdel Karim did not wear a suicidal belt around his waist or threaten to blow up himself in malls or metro stations. Abdel Karim was like any normal person in any free country, he worked out his mind to think about issues in life as any young budding youth. He put his ideas on his blog. In the civilized world, ideas can be always argued or refuted but never killed. Needless to say that human are in continuous process of evolution at the intellectual, emotional and psychological levels and that interrupting these processes is totally against the laws of nature. Abdel Karim was made a criminal and terrorist by his Al-Azhar University in collaboration with the government and state security agencies. He was made a terrorist in the eyes of the society by Al-Azahr Institution. By sentencing Abdel Karim to 4 years, he is denied the right to grow and develop. It is worth mentioning here that Al-Azhar fails to make straight forward condemnation for the real terrorists who blow up themselves, killing innocent people but it succeeds to bring a four year sentence to a 22-year old innocent student to trial.

This Monday, on March 12 in Alexandria, Egypt, will be the first session of appeal for Egyptian blogger Abdel Karim. The world is watching one of the tribunals of Inquisition happening in Egypt in the 21st century. Karim was sentenced to four years in prison for insulting the religion and the President of Egypt.

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Egyptian Bloggers live up to their Human Universal Commitment

Many questions have been thrown about the Egyptian blogosphere. I was asked last summer whether the Egyptian bloggers can become a political movement in Egypt. My personal answer was no, because I thought blogging is an individual activity in the first place, however it could be highly engaging. But as the time passes while observing the gruesome government clampdown on the Egyptian blogosphere, I am realizing that Egyptian bloggers have become a vocal power and highly respected by the entire the world. Everyday, they are snatching part of the information power that has remained in the hands of the government for decades. I have been following the Egyptian blogosphere with admiration for over three years now. I agree and disagree but I still have very high appreciation to all of them. From what I have seen over the past three years I can say that:

  • Egyptian bloggers embraced the universal culture of freedom of expression exercised everywhere without really saying it. So the world embraced them as result.
  • They are a bunch of young Egyptians, many of them students or young professionals who started blogs for honest lucid dialogues with themselves or with others without fear.
  • They made themselves global citizens without traveling anywhere with a high level of interaction with nationalities from all over the globe despite the complicated visa and immigration procedures in today’s world.
  • They believed in themselves and in the power of knowledge and information after decades of state-run media and government monopoly.
  • They were heard by other fellow bloggers all over the world that they had never met, because they were able to speak the same language. They succeeded in striking real honest partnerships with peoples who share their concerns.
  • Egyptian bloggers showed exemplary level of patriotism by standing next to other fellow helpless citizens who are abused and harassed by the government and helping them get their rights.
  • They have worked as independent human rights organizations, without being paid by anyone except their own conscience, by exposing frequent torture and abuse cases and fraudulent political processes.
  • They are taking the level of media to unprecedented level of freedom of expression in a very short time after decades of censorship exercised by state security armored by the crippling Emergency Law.
  • Egyptian bloggers succeeded in making Egypt the priority number one after decades of media diversion to other regional and international issues that do not bring much dignity to the Egyptian citizen. Addressing Egyptian issues and fixing home before looking outside became a genuine concern. Domestic issues are no more neglected or overlooked as the case with domestic media outlets. They are trying to make the government accountable.
  • They won international awards for best blogs on their own away from the widely-spread corruption and nepotism in Egypt. They believed in themselves and the world believed them.
  • Their ideas have shown continuous evolution, flexibilty maturity and development over the course of events.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

To My Girls... Happy Woman's Day

Today is Woman’s Day. I am dedicating this blog post to a very special dear group of friends. It happened that this group is all made of the greatest girlfriends I had ever had in my life. Despite places, travel, work, studies, husbands, children and different time zones, we always find a way to connect, communicate and remain together as group. It was very difficult for the eight of us during the past few years to meet together physically in one place. The internet, however, can bring all of us together. We did not plan to have a group of women only, but it happened that our department or my class at university had the most refined girls but the worst men ever (no offense). Today, I want to celebrate my girls and I want to thank them for:

Being my best friends;
The best four years of my life in college and the following years;
All the jokes we share;
Our continuous attempts to grow mature in vain;
Keeping the uniqueness of each one of us;
Making fun of each other without being judgmental;
Sharing families, parents, sisters and brothers;
Being funny yet with some little brains;
Accepting all the differences we have;
Insisting on going to the same places;
Almost dying in some car accidents;
All the fun we make of guys;
Sharing the love stories and heartbreaks;
Knowing that we are never alone;
All those funny string emails that we keep replying to;
Saying stupid and nonsense things;
The Hilarious time every time we meet;
Laughing loud;
Playing games;
Giving Nicknames;
Celebrating birthdays, engagements, weddings, and children;
The Travels and trips;
Getting naughty and feeling sexy about it;
Making jokes about getting old;
Fighting without getting angry or upset;
Sharing the pain and tears;
Being there for each other;
Remembering our memories;
Giving needed and unneeded advice;
The sisters I never had;
Dreaming together and;
So many other things.....

Today, I do not feel like saying speeches about women’s history or day. I simply want to celebrate my friends who make the best women group in the world. A toast to all of us where ever we are! For the very special friendship that brings happiness and laughter to our lives every day…. Happy Woman's Day my Girls!...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

US Department of State's Human Rights Report Scandalizes Egypt's Regime

The United States' Department of State released its annual human rights report for 2006 in a major event inaugurated by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The report brings to the attention human rights violations worldwide by country.

The number of incidents for human rights violations in Egypt in the report is scandalous. The report is extremely comprehensive and detailed. Literally if you were abused by the regime of Egypt and you could not find your name or your incident you have to report back to the Department of State. The report is a reminder and sum up to all incidents of human rights violations in the year 2006 in Egypt.

Internet Freedom for the first time!
This is this the first time in the history of the annual human rights of the US Department of State to dedicate one whole section for Internet Freedom in Egypt with specific emphasis on all human rights violations against Egyptian bloggers like Alaa Seif Al-Islam , Malek Mostafa, Karim Al Shaer, Mohamed Adel, Mohamed Sharkawy, Hala Helmy Boutros and Abdel Karim Nabil Suleiman.

Other Areas where Human Rights are Violated in Egypt from the Report:
Respect for the Integrity of the Person
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Role of Police and Security Apparatus
Arrest and Detention
Trial Procedures
Political Prisoners and Detainees
Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies
Freedom of Speech and Press
Internet Freedom
Academic Freedom and Cultural Events
Freedom of Assembly
Freedom of Association
Freedom of Religion
Societal Abuses and Discrimination
Freedom of Movement within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
Protection of Refugees
Elections and Political Participation
Government Corruption and Transparency
Trafficking in Persons
Persons with Disabilities
Worker Rights

Here is the Report: Egypt's Human Rights Violations in the Year 2006 by the US Department of State.

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Tom Palmer Describes Egyptian Embassy's Response to the Washington Post's Editorial as "Pathetic"

On February 28, 2007, one of the Washington Post 's editorials was about the oppression of freedom of expression highlighing Egyptian blogger Abdel Kareem Nabil Soliman's four year sentence.

On March 5, the Egyptian press attache in Washington publishes the government's response to the newspaper 's editorial describing unrealistic standards for freedom of expression that are supposedly applied in Egypt. Not to mention that he is not referring to the crime of insulting the president that Karim has to spend one year for it in prison. This crime that does not exist in any law in Egypt!!

Same day, Tom Palmer describes the Egyptian Embassy's response as "Pathetic".

Tom Palmer is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and director of Cato University. In addition to his work at the Cato Institute, he is on the board of trustees of the Foundation for Economic Education and work with a number of other organizations.He frequently lectures in America, Europe, Eurasia, and the Middle East on the history of liberty and constitutionalism, globalization and free trade, individualism, public choice, and the moral and legal foundations of individual rights.

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"Ma Vie en Rose" by Belgian director Alain Berliner (1997)

I recently watched “Ma Vie En Rose” (1997) by Belgian director Alain Berliner. The movie simply addresses trans-sexuality which is a well-trodden theme especially in the western movie industry. However the novelty of the movie comes from addressing trans-sexuality for a child at the age of 7. It is certainly a crisis when a person believes that his or her body does not reflect his or her true 'inner' gender. How about for a little kid? In “Ma Vie En Rose”, it is not a problem for the boy, who wants to be a girl, however, it turns to be a real nightmare for the family. As a matter of fact, the boy is lucid about his own needs and his future dreams. He does not hide from his difference, may be because he is not yet aware of it as the parents do.

In a religious context, trans-sexuality is simply sin. In other contexts, it is possibly a wide range of all kinds of disorder.

The story of Ludovic (played by Georges Du Fresne) in “Ma Vie En Rose” is the greatest fear in families all over the world. Most of the Egyptian families or parents for example keep reminding their boys at the very early years of their lives that they are men. They make jokes with their boys about flirting with other little girls in the family or the neighborhood even when the boy is two-year old. It is to remind him all the time that he is a boy. In the rural areas in Egypt, families take the flirting jokes to a commitment of marrying his cousin. So the boys and girls in the families grow with the assertion of their gender regardless of their real inner tendencies. If an individual was proven to be a gay or trans-sexual, social aggression and communal violence can mount to the tensest kinds of retaliation. It is not that this is going to be the rule that everyone will grow to be different, but difference should not be a crime to pay for.

The family and neighborhood of Ludovic could not accept the fact that he wants to be a girl. They made fun of him. He was sent to a psychologist, but he kept dreaming about being a girl. The movie confirms the innocence of Ludovic of being honest about his gender inclinations versus the hypocrisy of society where he lives. Adults in the neighborhood are full of moral deviations, yet they continue to hide them to claim a perfect world that normally does not exist.

The best part about the movie is the music, songs and the dancing. It is indeed reflecting the ambience of la vie en rose.

The movie reminded me of a conversation that took place between me and my brother. I was talking to my brother over the internet one day and he was fuming but also being sarcastic. I guess it is running in the family. I asked him what’s wrong? He told me there is one gay (he named him with the Egyptian slang word which is a very nasty one) living with us in the apartment, everyone knows except me. He was so angry about it. My brother does not live in Egypt and he is sharing an apartment with some room mates where he lives. I told him what is your problem with him? He said nothing. I told him, this is personal freedom. My brother has no personal problem with him but he has a cultural problem with being associated with a gay in a place I guess. He probably also cannot digest that the fact that an Arab is a gay. In most of the Middle Eastern countries, masculinity is a big thing, even if being hypocrite about so many other things in life. The second time we talked about his gay roommate was at the Valentine’s Day. He was talking about the big celebrations where he lives and that he saw his roommate with his partner having fun and he was ok about it. My brother is not related to this guy by any means, however he was extremely angry and could not take or tolerate the idea. I do not know what would he have been the situation if we had a brother who is a gay or trans-sexual? I do not want even to think about the answer. But I guess one way of accepting the difference is living the experience and acknowledging it in public which is not happening in any Arab country so far at any level.

The climax of “Ma Vie en Rose” comes at the very end when the mother insists on pulling her son from his fantasy world, but instead of pulling him, she falls down herself to pass out for a while. She wakes up to realize that she fell because instead of reaching out to the reality of her son’s world, she was trying aggressively to bring him to a world where he does not belong. Failure becomes a consequence.

Recent movie blog posts:
Take a Life Ride with No “Amputated Spirit”

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Egyptian Blogo-activisim By the Daily Star, Egypt

I came across an article by Frederick Deknatel, published by the Daily Star, Egypt. The article is about blogo-activisim. And I guess I am coining a new word here, blogo-activisim. At the forefront of the article, Deknatel is referring to my blog post about the first Israeli Arab Muslim Minister's appointment.

The article also starts with the dilemma of Karim Amer, the Egyptian blogger who was sentenced to four years in prison for insulting religion and the President. He almost got a sentence like the imprisoned political leader Ayman Nour who is spending five years in prison for challenging the President at the presidential elections.

The article also referres to some very popular bloggers in Egypt like Sandmonkey, 3arabawy, authored by journalist Hossam El-Hamalawy, Big Pharaoh, Wael Abbas’s at misrdigital.blogspirit, Arabist’s Issandr El Amrani, and “Torture in Egypt" . The article is just mentioning samples of what is going on in the Egyptian blogosphere that has become a role model and exemplary for many other Arab countries in the region.

The successful and stronger the Egyptian blogosphere turns, the more ferocious the state security agencies in Egypt will become.... The clamp down that has started early by Karim Amer and Alaa Abdel Fataah in 2005 and 2006 was just a beginning to new successful meduim or a giant that revealed the real status for the freedom of expression and speech in Egypt that government keeps mouthing off about in all international fourms.

Here is: Political activisim continues to create a buzz on Egypt’s political by Frederick Deknatel.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Four year old Girl, New Human Case of Avian Flu in Egypt

Of the 23 bird flu cases that have been confirmed to date in Egypt, 13 have died, according to the World Health Organization. Egypt is recorded as the hardest hit country outside Asia by bird flu.

Same month last year Egypt has declared the first human death of the bird flu. One year later after outbreak of the virus in Feb, life is not getting any better for Egyptians.

CAIRO (AFP) - "A four-year-old girl became Egypt's latest victim of bird flu, the 23rd to be diagnosed since the virus was detected in the country, the official MENA news agency said on Wednesday." More

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Washington Post on Oppression of Freedoms in Egypt

Blogger on Ice
Once again Egypt's Hosni Mubarak shows zero tolerance for a secular democratic dissenter.

"THE BUSH administration has tolerated Egypt's brutal crackdown on domestic dissent and the broader reversal of its democratic spring of 2005 in part because President Hosni Mubarak argues that his adversaries are dangerous Islamic extremists. It's true that the largest opposition movement in Egypt is the Muslim Brotherhood; how dangerous it is can be debated. But what is overlooked is that Mr. Mubarak reserves his most relentless repression not for the Islamists -- who hold a fifth of the seats in parliament -- but for the secular democrats who fight for free elections, a free press, rights for women and religious tolerance." More

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Global Voices..

See Update below, Global Voices Responds

I do not know why Global Voices is insisting on referring to me as "He writes" here and here. I am a very proud "She" by the way:) I resent the treatment of being reduced to a "He" with all due respect to all the "He"s:) ..... Just a remark, because every time I read "He writes", I really laugh......


My blog post did not mean really pointing at mistakes, I was saying it jokingly, the most important thing is spreading the word. I am taking the opportunity to applaud the work of Global Voices. They are incredibly doing a great job trying to bring all those Middle Eastern bloggers together in one place when each one of them is having his/her agenda. Global voices is relentlessly promoting freedom of expression and speech, an effort that generally faces lots of obstacles when it comes to the ME. I am thanking Amira Al Hussaini, the MENA regional editor, for her prompt response to my post.... Here is part of her response...

"Dear Freedom,

My name is Amira Al Hussaini and I am the MENA regional editor for Global Voices Online (GVO). I am sorry I keep referring to you as he and have corrected the mistake. I came across your 'objection' as I was skimming through the blogs this morning trying to pick interesting posts for linking them to GVO. Finding links is a tedious chore, considering I have the whole of the Middle East and North Africa to scan for interesting blogs! Had I not seen your concern, I would have continued doing the same mistake again as I really like what you write and the valuable points you raise. Having said this, we are only human and if we are not told that what we are doing is wrong, we will never be able to see through our mistakes. Thanks again for understanding. ......."

Sitting In for Gateway Pundit Thursday and Friday

Friends and Foes, I will be posting on Gateway Pundit some blog posts as of tomorrow. I do not have the same prolific writing skills as Jim, but I will try to do my best. I ll probably be doing some cross-posting about Egypt with no readers' abuse... guaranteed.... FFE.