Tuesday, January 31, 2006

President Bush We are Listening to You, Please Speak

Last year’s State of the Union, President Bush started with the US domestic affairs, however this year he has started with the United States’s international affairs with a great stress on FREEDOM all over the world, including my Egypt that he mentioned twice in his speech.

Freedom is a top priority to the United States of America. President Bush reiterated that the US will not retreat in front of tyranny and dictatorships that encourage terror. He linked the war on terror to the spread of freedom.

In his address, President Bush showed understanding to the idea that the US has a responsibility to continue to be the beacon of freedom in the world.

I loved in his speech:
“We will choose to act confidently in pursuing the enemies of freedom…”
“Seek the end of tyranny in the world…”

There are so many parts that caught my ears but it is getting late to wait for the full text. Tomorrow I will write more on President Bush speech. It was great especially when he invited Egypt to open up for peaceful oppostion rather than cracking down on them...

My First Tango Class

I am on a hiatus from work for a couple weeks as of today. I will be investing this time in networking and “meeting the press”, something which I have been avoiding. But not only that, I have decided to unburden myself from the work routine and start new life program. I want to break the cycles of my life to bring new energy into my soul and body. This is very typical me, I am all about change which is very un-Egyptian. Generally, Egyptians love to keep everything as they are. This is obvious how our disastrous political conditions remained as they are after the so unblessed 1952 revolution that brought military ruling to Egypt until today.

It is so apparent that the status quo is remaining under very tight security apparatus. The Muslim Brotherhood is working hard to be the alternative for the corrupt dictatorship running Egypt. I bet they have the same agenda like Hamas. So once a true democracy process instilled, they will find their way through ballot boxes. That will happen for two reasons; Egyptians do not go to the polls and under the current political situation, the regime’s National Democratic Party will always want to stand out. The NDP does not enjoy any popularity among Egyptians. So who will go to vote will be the supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood who were very active during the last legislative elections, or those who hate the guts of the regime. Jailing opposition leader Ayman Nour, whether you agree with him or not, is a blatant proof of the government crackdown on secular and moderate streams in the Egyptian society.

The only way to get out of the Muslim Brotherhood alternative dilemma and the domination of the current regime is a strong shake up to the Egyptian society, which I do not know how this can happen under the continuous address of hatred to the west running all over the media outlets. Our government supports modernization without westernization, according to statements by Egypt’s Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif. The government wants modernization with Islamization which is pretty clear. It is sad because the only parties that could help are from the western world. The government is basically advocating using the western money and aid but without their freedom and democracy values.

To dance the Tango, you need to partner with a good leader, (from the woman’s perspective). In the Tango dance, the man is usually leading the dance while the woman is responsible for maintaining the distance. Starting beginner’s Tango classes is part of the change that I look forward to. I have been always enchanted by this Argentinean dance. Being a Middle Eastern, in Egypt I only saw real Tango in foreign movies and may be in some theatres in Cairo. Learning the Tango is not only part of making some needed change, but in fact it is part of an earlier decision to live as an international Egyptian citizen who is able and willing to fall in love with all the finesse of the world’s diversity and openness. French and Uruguayan instructors are teaching the beginner’s class for the Argentinean Tango dance, isn’t it that beautiful? And I am one of their students, an Egyptian citizen. During the class you keep partnering with so many people, it could happen that men partner with men or women with women depending on the proportion. One of the exercises, I had to partner with an American guy, standing out with no American features; first question was where are you from? I said I am Egyptian. We had to pause for few seconds for him to absorb the answer, which in my guess was a shock, before we start the exercise. Apparently, the Egyptians that the world hears of nowadays are the two popular terrorists Ayman Alzawahery and Mohamed Atta or the Muslim Brotherhood women who are covered from head to toe. Anyway, but I want to tell you that Tango has such difficult steps. And learning the steps together with the music is almost a mission impossible for me. I will see how it will go in the coming classes.

If my country is giving no free political and social life, I will keep admiring other countries’ until I have one.

Ancient Gays Unearthed

Modern Egyptians denounce homosexuality in all forms unlike Ancient Egyptians who were open about expressing their homosexuality or making it eternal in the after life. Homosexuals in Egypt nowadays are treated as aliens when our grandparents did not mind!

Egypt's ancient tombs could hold the secret to the world's first gay kiss, according to Egyptologists, who believe that one tomb might have held the world's first recorded same-sex couple.

The 4,000-year-old tomb in Sakkara, near Cairo, was discovered in 1964. It was first thought that the two men buried inside may have been twins; its carvings depict the two men together. However, new scholarship unveiled at a Swansea University conference last month in Wales suggests that the paintings lining the tomb point to a more romantic relationship

Join Sandmonkey Retardedness Campaign Against the Danish Newspaper

I have been receiving email on ways to defend our prophet Mohamed against the sinful Danish newspaper and hundreds of petitions to sign that have no destinations.

Bravely, Sandmonkey took the Anti-Retardedness Mission. I have no answer why Muslims, whom I am counted on, take such issues fervently. Here is a background story from Sandmonkey on the whole insulting cartoons issue. The saga continues...

I wonder why Muslims do not get so fervent about a dying patient for the lack of medicine, about a corrupt government that is stealing all their money and leaving them in shit, about the right to enjoy life in freedom protected by the laws and legislation, about bribing police and traffic officers to cancel contraventions, about more than one million street children in Egypt abused by the people everyday, about injustice in general…the list so long to continue.

I wonder if the American Declaration of Independence, the French Revolution, or the South African 1994 elections that ended the era of Apartheid were insulted in Cartoons as sources for hatred, dictatorship and oppression (which is not the truth) what will be the reaction. The world takes pride in those achievements and they are protected by a human code for the same values they share.

The whole issue is not about freedom for expression, it is about what people take pride in. Muslims for the past few centuries cannot realize that did not bring any achievements to the humanity. And I am not talking about values only but I am talking about industries. For example, Germans, Italians, British and Americans are manufacturing the world’s best car brands. Muslims are using the American Google and Microsoft to run their anti-Denmark campaigns that are downloaded on Chinese and Malaysian computers with Indian IT expertise that go on the internet through Israeli lines. Apparently, fervent Muslims have nothing to take pride in for the time being. There are two other religions, Christianity and Judaism, the only two recognized by Muslims, and they are insulted everyday by some Muslims. Egyptian Copts were insulted hundreds of times in front of me on religious basis, where are the standards and the values that those fervent Muslims hold.

The Danish Newspaper apologized however; diplomatic relations with Denmark is on the way to severed by some Arab countries. I believe the UN Security Council will have to intervene in the near future upon calls from the Arab League, OIC and Arab countries to press the Danish Government to apologize…. You know what it is getting funny by the minute...

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Let's Teach the U.S. What is Wrong and Right

A noteworthy development of the topic that I have been following, US-Egypt Free Trade Agreement (FTA.)

A government report noted that "At a press conference, in the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif said it was not the right thing that the US President George W. Bush sought to conclude free trade agreements with all Middle East countries except Egypt."

Related :Cairo denies WaPo “Disinvitation”
Washington Post Editorial, A Must Read
U.S. Press Beating the Drums for Cutting Egypt's Aid

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Hamas Euphoria and the World's Shock

The world’s eyes are set on the Palestinian territories. Maintaining the status quo has proven itself to be a failure factor for running politics in the Middle East. Late Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat’s Fatah remained in power until he died. Fatah has been dominating the lives of the Palestinians for 40 years with no progress towards a lasting peace. On the other hand, the Palestinian people are seeing their neighbor, Israel, is thriving in freedom and democracy, growing to be one of the world’s political powers since it was established in 1947.

For 40 years a bunch of people lived on the Palestinians’ plight and pains to send their children to be educated abroad and live in expensive houses in the world. The wife of President Arafat has been living in Paris with her daughter since she married Arafat. She has never been among the Palestinians at crisis times. Her daughter is going to the best schools in Paris and other Palestinian children do not go to school at all. I have met many sons and daughters of the beneficiaries of the Palestinian Authority’s so-called leaders in Cairo. They are growing in Cairo and educated in the most expensive schools and universities at the expense of other Palestinians living in refugee camps having no access to potable water or electricity, and their only mistake that they were not born among the circles of the dictator, Arafat. The disaster is that this money is the money of the US, EU and some Arab countries.

The money is flowing, peace is not achieved and the poverty of the Palestinians is not alleviated. Corrupt government is deeply rooted with no intention to leave power as the status quo remained until few days ago.

At the time, Fatah was lavishly enjoying the money of the aid and Arafat was distributing it on his close allies, a new rank of group of people started interacting with the misery of the Palestinians and provided services. That explains why Hamas has such popularity in the poor areas, Gaza, and not in the West Bank and that's why they want to continue providing services. This is Hamas's strength. Hamas became the salvation for so many desperate Palestinians. Hamas promised heaven at a time when heaven on earth was restricted to a close circle of beneficiaries from the Palestinian Authority. Hamas succeeded in making some Palestinians believe they can be part of changing their destinay by resisting Israel. It made Palestinians feel like citizens. You are only a citizen when you change and be part of your future. Fatah with its corruption failed the dreams of the Palestinians. So when choosing day came, people could not choose Fatah, but also they did not find so many alternatives, so they chose Hamas.

I believe that Hamas stipulated in its Charter wiping out Israel out of revulsion to the entity of the Palestinian Authority in the first place for its corruption and failure to bring decent lives to the Palestinians.
It is the same sentiment you can find among some Middle Eastern citizens against the U.S. Some Egyptians hate the US because they hate its support to their oppressor represented in the current President. They believe that the US is supporting the regime to cause them more humiliation to lead miserable lives. Arab leaders were so successful to pull the trigger of media apparatus full of hatred towards the US and Israel. And everyone now is paying the price.

Hamas chose to come to power through the ballot boxes and not a war with Fatah. And this means a lot. Now there is a legitimate responsibility that Hamas must take. Palestinians depend on foreign aid mainly from the US, EU and some Arab countries. The Palestinians depend on Israel to collect their taxes and customs. Renouncing the new responsibilities and ignoring the key players will mean the starvation of the Palestinians and the failure of a the new government, that came through ballot boxes. If Hamas’s decision is to take responsibility and to denounce terrorist ideas and be up to the expectations of the Palestinians that will definitely bring a great success to the processes of democracy in the entire Middle East. That will bring an end to those who are living on the Palestinian Cause as parasites, more openness and transparency to the aid money, freedom to the Palestinians to make their own choices for political leaderships out of the political equation of Fatah and Hamas.

I believe that what happened is a good development and not a bad thing at all. If Israeli Prime Minister and former leader of the conservative Likud Party Ariel Sharon, God give him health, wanted to bring peace between the Palestinian and the Israeli peoples, then the idea of Hamas bringing peace is not ruled out. It is kind of ironical that the first Likud Prime Minister Menachem Begin, a former leader of the hard-line paramilitary Irgun, helped initiate the peace process with Egypt, which resulted in the Camp David Accords and the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. History never stops to surprise. Days will come to tell…

Earlier: Are Islamists Faster to Democratize?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Islamists Took over Egypt Long time ago...

For those of you who are defending the current regime of Egypt believing that it is better than Islamists if they took over...then read this story. This just tells you that we are already living the age of Islamists.

Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz is begging Islamists to allow him to publish his winning novel, "Children of the Alley" or Awlad Haretna in Arabic. Voila...

Wrong Address meant to impress will backfire

Gamal Mubarak, the son of the President, said that “Egypt must find ways to deal with the illegal and "negative" participation of the Muslim Brotherhood in the country's political life.”

He believes "The question of how we should deal at the political and legal levels with attempts to circumvent the national consensus banning religious parties is on the table."

It is very obvious that he wants to impress the US, knowing that the growing threat of having Islamists in power in the Middle East, and in an important ally to US as Egypt.

I believe that the Muslim Brotherhood is not a threat at all. The fact that they won 88 seats in the Egyptian Parliament does not make them a threat, simply because Egyptian citizens did not participate in elections, not to mention the long list of irregularities. Egyptians did not buy the regime’s National Democratic Party’s false promises and manipulations to the constitution or the Muslim Brotherhoods agenda. If the regime is serious about the democracy process, international observers for the elections would have been invited and the article that makes the president terms limitless would have been amended to two terms. But this did not happen.

The son of the president is calling for marking the borders for the Muslim Brotherhood’s activities. If he believes that they are in power by mistake, then his party is there by mistake too. They are both in power because of the last parliamentary elections.

The European Union, the US and the Quartet funded the Palestinian legislative elections. Fatah and Hamas competed in a fair elections, monitored by international observers led by former US President Carter. If the son of the President’s logic is acceptable to the west, they would have set their conditions, being the donors, by banning Hamas or limiting its participation.

I am afraid that the Egyptian regime’s National Democratic Party is not realizing that they do not speak the language of the western democratic world. They are using the wrong address, believing that they will impress. Hamas’s victory is another lesson, regardless of its implications. The west’s intention is not control or disincluding groups in favor of others when they have the authority to control being the financiers. The reason is that they are keen on democracy.

The statements are definitely another sign for the NDP’s failure to grasp the core of democracy. If it is meant to impress the US, I guess they used the wrong language. Apparently, there is no keenness on the democratic process that needs to be in place first.

Photo: Secretary General of the National Democratic Party (NDP) Policies Committee, Gamal Mubarak, in Cairo, in May 2005. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's son Gamal denied rumours he was being groomed for succession in an interview published and insisted he had no desire to run in the next presidential poll.(AFP/File/Khaled Desouki)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Are Islamists faster to Democratize?

It is phenomenal how organized Islamic groups in the Middle East are fast to respond to democracy processes. It poses so many questions.

The Palestinian parliamentary elections, first in decade, prompted me to think in this direction and ask why Islamists are fast to encompass democracy. The sweeping participation of Hamas leaves me mesmerized. Does this group believe in democracy more than so many autocratic governments in the Middle East that call itself secular? In 1996 Hamas boycotted the elections. In 2006, they are the first to give up weapons before entering polling station to vote. Late Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat remained in power until the last day of his life. And he claimed to be secular!

That reminds me of Sunni Iraqis who believed that by boycotting January 2005 elections,they will have weight. They realized they were mistaken and quickly reversed their decision in the following elections and turned into political participation.

Hamas’s participation is sign of confidence in the democracy process and not in the explosives' belts and suicide bombers. They are showing more trust in democracy when they have the choice to terrorize their people by imposing themselves like so many autocratic governments in the Middle East.

The dramatic development was last week when Hamas declared its readiness to negotiate peace with Israel through a third party. That was a strange announcement; especially that it comes few days before the elections. Hamas, which is branded as a terrorist group by U.S., has to denounce and remove the idea of demolishing Israel from its Charter to give credibility for its seriousness to move on with peace efforts. But if it accepts negotiating peace with Israel, this means that it is acknowledging Israel as a state and neighbor. That will put Arab leaders in a very embarrassing situation, because Arabic press is always glorifying Hamas's stance from Israel.

Another statement today that made it clear that Hamas wants to be part of a peace process is when one of its leaders said if we won seats we will ask for the portfolio of the ministries of services like health and education and leave international affairs to Fatah movement to negotiate the peace with Israel. Apparently, they are not at ease negotiating peace with Israel but they do not mind.

I honestly find this a big transformation.

It is the same transformation, the Muslim Brotherhood (banned Islamic group in Egypt) is witnessing. I am surprised how they are quickly responding to democratization. They are faster than our government. They denounced Iranian President’s statements for wiping out Israel from the map unlike one of the Egyptian government writers who showed admiration to the Iranian President statements. The Muslim Brotherhood’s members of parliaments are so active to uncover the Egyptian government corruption in the press and they talk to the people to get complaints from citizens. Last week, they joined the world's appeals to release Jill Carroll, who is kidnapped in Iraq by armed Islamists. In Egypt, the MB are asking for unified law for building mosques and churches on the basis of equal citizenship between Copts and Muslims, following the recent attacks on Copts in Luxor. This is really big.

The Sunnis in Iraq who believed in armed resistance, now want to join the Iraqi police and army to combat terrorists.

I find that with little openings for democracy, Islamic groups are responding and faster to join the democratic processes. On the other hand, U.S. President George Bush sends open invitation for democracy and freedom to the US allies in the Middle East and he gets almost no response.

However, I see that the participation of Islamic groups or movements is another success for the Bush Adminstration. The engagement of these groups in democratic processes is much better than their isolation that leads to suicidal terror. Giving them hope for a better future through freedom and justice will purify by time their ideologies of hatred that was formed because of oppresion and dictatorship. The new conditions will give the chance for people to think freely to choose what they want. Political Islam emerged because of the lack of so many forms of freedoms. If jobs were created, economies are liberated and poor peoples were able to choose a decent life, the role of the political Islam as panacea for all problems will disappear. Life rewards will not stand at the step doors of heaven but in life.

The Scene of the police that is helping the voters to find their ways to polling stations was in the Iraqi elections and I applauded it before. And now I am applauding the Palestinian police as well by insisting on having this photo here. Only in Egypt, police kills voters.

First photo: A supporter of the Fatah movement chants slogans and waves party flags after polling stations closed for the Palestinian elections in Gaza City January 25, 2006. (Mohammed Salem/Reuters)

Second Photo:Palestinian policeman helps an elderly woman as she arrives to vote at a polling station in Gaza City January 25, 2006. (Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters)

Last Photo: Supporters of the Islamic group Hamas celebrate the results of their group in the Palestinian parliamentary elections in the West Bank town of Hebron Wednesday Jan. 25, 2006. According to an exit poll by Bir Zeit Universityt Hamas took 39.5 percent of the vote in the elections on Wednesday and the ruling Fatah Party 46.4 percent. (AP Photo/Nasser Shyoukhi)

Egyptian Blogger, Alaa, Summoned to State Security

Egyptian blogger Alaa is summoned to State Security for no reason after returning from a trip to Uganda. I guess the Department wants to have him over a cup of tea to invite him to “Cooperate”. Could be also that the Ministry of the Interior wants to create a blog to speak to the Egyptian people, modernization eh, or an aggregator to Egyptian bloggers to host all blogs of interest to the government.

Alaa Abdel Fattah 's blog Won Reporters Without Borders Special Award for 2005.

This is unlawful to summon a citizen without giving reasons. But this is Egypt, a country run by Emergency Law. By the way the Emergency will have to be renewed May this year or replaced by anti-terrorism law.

Sandmonkey, who is currently in the US on a visit, is afraid to return to Egypt. He fears arrest or interrogation upon arrival!!

Last November, Nabeel Abdul Kareem was detained for several weeks for his blog writings.

And I want to say that the State Security is monitoring my blog, I m recording IP numbers that belong to the Egyptian Government that pop into my blog once I update it. I am keeping them for the record.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Sawasya for Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination

The Ikhwan or the Muslim Brotherhood is invading the human rights advocacy field. I know that so many people get an allergy when they hear the Muslim brotherhood word. It might be a bit unfair to generalize when it comes to the Muslim Brotherhood. The MB has moderate and extremist wings. I am following up their sites and press statements. And the reason why I want to introduce you to this human rights center is because I read a statement by this center that is sponsored by some elements from the MB saying for the first time in my entire life that building worship places laws should be unified for all citizens. I was so surprised to hear that for the first time, given the supremacy status of Muslims over Copts when coming to building mosques in comparison to churches. Those statements were made by the Sawasya Center for Human Rights (Arabic and English) following Luxor attacks on some Egyptian Copts who attempted to build a church. When I traced the origin or the source of these statements that I did not hear from our so-called secular government, I found that it is an Ikhwan or Muslim Brotherhood Center.

I believe that democracy means inclusion and full participation for all parties and that oppression generates oppression.

Cairo denies WaPo “Disinvitation”

A statement by the Egyptian ministry for Trade and Industry denied the Washington Post’s story that an Egyptian trade delegation was “disinvited” for US concerns over Egypt’s democracy process seriousness. The delegation was supposed to sign the free trade agreement with the US.

Aljazeera site said the statement came as reply to the Washington Post story. The statement said there was no delegation named by itself for the trip. The Qatari site says that Egyptian analysts are suggesting conflicts between Egypt and US over Syria, Iraq and Iran’s nuclear weapons.

Bahrain, Jordan, Morocco and Oman signed the agreement with the US and they are not the second recepient of US aid in the Middle East.

Washington Post Played!

Remember the Washington Post's article, “Ending the Silent War”, where I attacked the Post for hosting regime figures, you know what is the strongest rumor running in Egypt now? That the writer was used by the son of the President group to convey to the U.S. Adminstration that the young government is struggling under the old guard to apply reform. The rumor is saying that the young son of the President wanted to visit the US. But the rumor also says that the U.S. replied saying that the only topic that the US want to discuss is the imprisonment of the opposition leader Ayman Nour, a presidential candidate, who was sentenced for five years in prison. If the rumor is right then I was right, the Washington Post is played!!!

Ah, the news is reporting the son of the President's denials for running for the President's office. I do not know why. Nobody asked him to deny or confirm. Ballot boxes and fair, free and democractic elections monitored by international obsevers are the reasons why he should be in power or not.

And speaking of international monitors, Egypt sent international observers to monitor the Palestinian Authority elections. Is this what I call double standard policy?

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's son Gamal, seen here in November 2005, denied rumours he was being groomed for succession in an interview and insisted he had no desire to run in the next presidential poll.(AFP/File/Adel al-Masri)

Gaddafi warns against Middle East Terrorsim, WMD

Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi, according to the Saudi newspaper asharq alawsat warned the African leaders in the African Summit in Khartoum against the Middle East weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons. He described the region as volatile and full of dangerous conflicts.

He said in a document distributed during the summit that Africa is not related to the Middle East and if Africa tried to tie itself with the Middle East, it will get involved in terrorism, weapons’ trafficking and terrorist groups.

The Libyan leader requested discussing the controversial document among Arab African Leaders. Egypt is an example for the Middle Eastern/Arab/African country.

President Mubarak did not attend the Summit because he has a cold. Rumors are saying that he is avoiding confrontations with the Sudanese leadership after the killings of the Sudanese refugees in Cairo last month. It is good that he did not attend, he would have not avoided the Libyan Leader statements.

Libyan leader colonel Muammar Gaddafi addresses the media during the official closing ceremony of the Sixth African Union Summit in Sudanese capital Khartoum January 24, 2006. (Antony Njuguna/Reuters)

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Condi’s Transformational Diplomacy

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated that she has plans to restructure the American foreign service in a meeting with students and faculty at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service last week.

The dimensions of these changes are interpreted at different levels from different perspectives. But here I care here about the Middle Eastern perspective. What will be the impact of the “transformational diplomacy” on Egypt and Middle East? The answer, it will have a great impact if it came into being. The TD is meant to partner with the peoples of the world, helping them building their lives and transforming their lives. These words actually ring a bell for me as we (Egyptians) do not see a way out in bringing a new future other than what we have currently. So basically, the US once again is reiterating the promise to help the peoples not governments.

The restructuring impact will affect Egypt if the Secretary managed to bring her plans into being. The plan includes the foreign assistance. Rice created a new position, director for foreign assistance. The new director who has been hired by President Bush will serve as the administrator of the US Agency for Development, known as USAID. The new promise of Rice will be reflected on the money of the US aid received by the Egyptian government on an annual basis. Rice attention will be given to pro-democracy-related programs. Democracy is a word that is not very much favored by the Middle East governments. Part of the new director portfolio is review the foreign assistance. The Washington Post believes that there is a big challenge because of the US officials “sometimes-supine attitude to autocratic governments” that hinders routing aid through pro-democracy groups in countries such as Egypt or Russia as the Agency for International Development has often accepted such countries' insistence that money flow only through the government and its allies. This might change with the new restructuring.

Also according to the post Condi promised "to create a new unit of Arabic speakers to defend U.S. policies in Middle Eastern media."

Rice has repeatedly mentioned in her different statements the era after the cold war with praise. There is no doubt that she believes in change. A change that she believes must bring something like free Europe.

Oh and by the way, I would love Madame Secretary to run for the President office in 2008. I am not a US citizen, to vote for her but the annoucement of her nomination is capable of bringing several heart attacks to many of the Middle East tyrants. I really like her. There is no doubt that I am one of her fans and I listen to all that she says carefully.

Photo:U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice addresses employees of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on foreign assistance, in Washington January 19, 2006. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Rice related posts:
Condi Blasts Egypt-Saudi Mediation Efforts for Syria
Egypt after the fall of Baghdad

Freedom for Jill Carroll

Freedom for Jill Carroll.... This woman whom her only fault is that she wanted to do work in the Middle East. One shouldn't be punished so brutally for what he/she wants to do. She took this brave step to work in the most dangerous areas of the world like Iraq when she could have been working in an air-conditioned office with little to care about.

I am afraid to follow up her news. I do not want to hear that brutality and barbarism won. I want her safe back to her parents, family and home.

I had a psychological trauma after the death of Margaret Hassan in 2004 and took me a while to be back to my normal state. I sound like a coward and I know. That's why I have this great appreciation to personalities like Jill Carroll, and I truly pray that she will be back to her family soon.

Freedom for Jill Carroll. Update by the hour from the Christian Science Monitor. Jill is the Monitor's reporter in Iraq.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The U.S. in Africa Cup of Nations hosted by Egypt

Africa Cup of Nations Kicked off today in the Egyptian capital Cairo.

It is the African Cup but there was no problem involving the U.S., didn't I tell you before that there are so many people in Egypt obsessed by the U.S., it is just too difficult to admit it. But this football fan took it easy.

Photo by Reuters: An Egyptian soccer fan celebrates before the start of an African Nations Cup match between Egypt and Libya in Cairo January 20, 2006. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

Guardian Unlimited on Sex and Islam

Guardian Unlimited's Brian Whitaker writes about Islamic scholars recent Fatwas (religious opinions) on nudity in marriage. Islamic clerics are hotly debating exactly what sexual practices are acceptable. The topic that occupied space in the Egyptian press, now is attracting foreign press for debate!

I am branded as a Coptic Site

I am so proud to announce that I am included among Coptic sites on The Coptic Web Directory. I knew this long time ago since I started my blog but as you know I do not really care about talking religion here, since it is a personal matter for everyone. But I have some personal stories of oppression from other Muslims in Cairo that I would like to share with you. Just to let you know that some Muslims do not only oppress peoples of other faiths but people from their own religion.

But talking about the ugly incident of Luxor of yesterday, which I feel the obligation to write about since it touches other Egyptian citizens' rights as well as equality and freedom in our society, I want to say that me and my blog feel honored to belong to the Coptic Web Directory. I will be happy to belong to the Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu sites...etc as long as we believe in each others' right to have different faiths.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Check this Site

This is the first time I come accross the Ikhwan official website in English. I think it is new as well. You have got to take a look. Let me know what do you think?

Egyptian church clash injures 12

The BBC reported today that at least 12 people were injured in clashes in Upper Egypt when a group of Muslims attempted to stop Christians converting a house into a church.

Security officials said the Muslims set fire to building materials for the building in Odaysat, near Luxor.

Always sad to hear how Muslim Egyptians cannot tolerate Non-Muslims. You may have noticed that I never talk about religions except in a political context. Simply because everyone is free to worship whatever he/she feels comfortable with or even if other decided not to worship anything at all, it is also their freedom and will to do so. No one has the right to judge others on any religious basis. But in Egypt yes!

There is an amount of social intolerance among some people that is supported by the lack of enough laws to protect Egyptian Copts. They are always considered second class citizens in the eyes of many Muslim Egyptians. I am saying it while filled with sadness being myself a Muslim. I have witnessed myself so many vulgar situations that happened to my Coptic friends that made me feel so embarrassed that it occurred from other Muslims.

This incident is another sign of inequality among Egyptian citizens because laws give the right to Muslims to turn any room at their buildings into a free-tax and utilities mosque when Egyptian Copts get wounded and killed when they attempt to build a church! Freedom and Equality for Egyptian Copts.

Let Tolerance and Peace Prevail.
Pictures from the attacks here.

Mubarak for "Bad Democracy Award", Vote Now!

President Hosni Mubarak is currently running for the third position for this month's "Bad Democracy Award" run by Open Democracy. This is not fair, I see that he should run for the first position. Vote Now to put our President on the top list for those who payed democracy its worst service.

I know that many Egyptians will vote against President Bush. It is because we are international citizens, we do not vote on domestic affairs. We are not trained to do so in the first place. We are always trying to fix the world before fixing ourselves, cause we do not really need.

Everyone, Let's show the President how we love dictatorship, Vote Now!!

Egypt in Human Rights Watch World Report 2006

Human Right Watch World Report 2006 was released yesterday and I could not miss the Egypt part. I have to admit that the report of HRW World Report 2006 is giving Egypt its due respect in a succint manner.
Emergency Rule: President Hosni Mubarak’s renewal to Emergency law or instituting what he termed “a firm and decisive law that eliminates terrorism and uproots its threats.”
Political Violence and Internal Security: The State Security Investigation (SSI) arm of the Ministry of Interior carried out mass arbitrary arrests in and around al-`Arish, the North Sinai commercial and administrative center, detaining an estimated 2,500-3,000 persons.
Security forces arrested several suspects in the days following Sharm El Sheikh attack, in late August they detained an estimated 500-600 persons in a sweep of the mountainous Jabal Halal area of northern Sinai. As of late October 2005 the government had not provided information about whether any of the hundreds arrested had been released or charged in connection with the attack.
In April, three separate shooting and small explosives attacks in Cairo resulted in the deaths of three tourists, as well as the attackers, and injured more than a dozen persons, mostly Egyptian. The U.S. military command in Iraq said in October that 78 Egyptians, the largest number from any single country, were among the 312 foreign fighters captured thus far while allegedly taking part in the insurgency there.
Security forces and police routinely torture and mistreat detainees, particularly during interrogations. Torture in the past was used primarily against political dissidents, but in recent years it has been rife in police stations as well, affecting ordinary citizens. In 2004 the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) reported 292 known torture cases between January 1993 and April 2004, 120 of which resulted in the death of the suspect or prisoner. According to EOHR, there were at least seventeen additional cases of deaths in police or security force custody between May 2004 and July 2005. Human Rights Watch and Egyptian human rights organizations documented credible allegations of torture during interrogation from many persons detained following the Taba bombing.
Restrictions on Freedom of Association and Freedom of Expression.
Ill-treatment of Street Children:
The government periodically conducts arrest campaigns of homeless or truant street children who have committed no crime. In custody many face beatings, sexual abuse, and extortion by police and adult suspects, and police deny them access to food, bedding, and medical care. The authorities do not routinely monitor conditions of detention for children, investigate cases of arbitrary arrest or abuse in custody, or discipline those responsible. In many cases, the police detain children illegally for days before taking them to the public prosecutor on charges of being “vulnerable to delinquency.”
Women’s Rights:
Discriminatory personal status laws governing marriage, divorce, custody, and inheritance have institutionalized the second class status of women in the private realm and undermined their legal standing. The penal code does not effectively deter or punish domestic violence, and police are routinely unsympathetic to the concerns of battered women and girls.
Religious Intolerance and Discrimination against Religious Minorities.
Key International Actors:
The report about Egypt is highlighting and applauding international efforts led by the US, EU and UN for condemning Egypt’s violations of human rights and pressing them to exert more to show credibility.
Me, Concluding:
I have two things to say, first, that on behalf of myself and I am sure many others I want to thank Human Rights Watch for bringing Egypt’s critical human rights issues into the light and for the continuous follow-up in 2005 on key events. The second thing which is funny and pathetic at the same time that as usual some smart Egyptians could not realize that when they refer to HRW World Report that they need to look into Egypt’s record in stead of linking or writing about the US only as if the whole report is written about the US. Which is important or closer to us? The US or Egypt? Get the full report here. http://www.hrw.org

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Ideological Knot, How to liberate the Middle East?

The last dictatorship in Europe came to end this month as Belarus goes to the polls to elect a president on March 19. Over the past few days, I was thinking what is missing that does not let the Middle Easterners or Egyptians make the same choices as Eastern Europe peoples. The world is helping Eastern Europe to stand on its foot. It is in the best interest of Western Europe to push democracy and freedom in the second half of Europe. Rich strong neighbors are helping emerging democracies. Who are our democratic neighbors in the Middle East? Israel. Arabs hate Israel for several reaoms but mainly on religious basis. Southern Europe is doing its best to curb illegal migrants coming from Africa. The Middle East States are not part of any democratic world. East Europe, at the end of the day, is part of Europe. The winds of democracy and freedom must be blowing towards East Europe at some point. Also, the US stepped in to support the new emerging democracies through many ways after the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. As the USSR decided to abandon the Brezhnev doctrine that allowed USSR to use force against anti-socialist forces, the Russian President, Mikhaïl Gorbachev, at that time made up his mind to resign to the democratic transformation that saved his country through an innovative policy based on restructuring (known as Perestroïka). Since that day in history, the doors of Eastern Europe were opened wide for democracy and mainly reconciliation. Despite the harshness of life in those communist satellite countries, their rulers did not ruin their taste or appreciate for life as Middle Eastern rulers did; hence the challenge is bigger in the ME.

In the Middle East, a bunch of presidents came to power following military coup d’etats in countries with oil and other resources that could sustain their lavishing lives while guaranteeing sustainable poverty for their peoples. They silently took the decision not to relinquish their offices until they are dead or have a son to take over as the case in Syria the potential scenario in Egypt. The problem is that those presidents did not only decide to take countries forever, but also corrupt the peoples’ lives with Pan-Arabism and extremist Islamism. The Pan-Arabism is the baby of Syria. Extremist Islamism is the baby of Wahabism of the oil-rich country, Saudi Arabia. Of course there are other factors that helped dictators to take control. The result is that for half a century, Middle Easterners’ lives are deteriorating from worse to worse.

Apparently, Europe’s socialist ideology was beaten by another ideology. The people were freed without blowing themselves and they sought the right supporters as in the case of Georgia. Georgians won the US as one of their biggest supporters. The US is committed to supporting it.

Over the past couple of years, conditions have been improving in favor of bringing democracy to the Middle East. There have been many positive changes but still there is no one single leader who wants to step down to give his people the right to rule. And this will never happen.

So what is the ideological or psychological knot that keeps the Middle Eastern people at the camp of freedom losers? That will be the eternal question in my mind.

The US stepped in to liberate Iraq that was ruled by military dictatorship for 35 years. Iraq was liberated from the military rule by a big military operation in March 2003. I had never imagined Saddam Hussein out of office waking up one day to play the kind guy and leave his people to live in peace under the umbrella of freedom and democracy. If the rulers in the Middle East do not want to strike true allies with forces of democracy in the world, what is hindering the people? Why do most Egyptians stand unconsciously in support of dictatorship?

Most of seculars in Egypt are socialists or communists, hence enemies of the capitalist free world of Europe and the United States.

Majority of Egyptians are pro-Arab nationalism. This ideology that kept all Arabs, including Egyptians, slaves to their dictator rulers. To be a successful dictator, you need to create an external enemy. The enemy was created through this ideology, hence the sustainability of the no-individualism and continuous hatred against invented enemies, mainly the US and Israel. The happy relationship image between the US and the regime in Egypt spread frustration feelings among Egyptians that the US is supporting their torturer and helped the US to lose credibility among Egyptians. That gave opportunity to regime to strengthen political Islam, hence creating an enemy to the US. The over-blown stories of victory in media over Israel strengthened the idea of Israel the enemy and not the peace agreement. After the death of President Sadat, the only culture that was instilled was that Israel is the enemy. It was important to isolate Egyptians from Israel to kill peace and maintain an everlasting enemy that serves dictatorship. Also, because the true battles that should be won at the domestic level, like alleviating people’s poverty is not a priority, however, making people believe that the regime is watching Israel, the enemy, is the worthwhile battle.

Our neighbor Saudi Arabia was given the keys to our lands to establish mosques that worth millions everywhere while true poverty stand few meters from the luxurious mosques. Poverty is on the rise, and fatalism struck the balance. Theology is closely related to the development of all other corners in life in general. A third enemy was created here but from within the Egyptians. Egyptian Copts became another enemy to Egyptian Muslims. The reason why they became enemies is because citizens are not treated on the basis of their citizenship rights but on their religions. That also is another justification why we should hate Israel and the US, the Jewish and the Christian enemies. The Copts became the American agents because they are Christians like the US.

Those whom the US considers pro-US educated Egyptians as some of them had their degrees in the US universities are double-agents. They are using the US and working with the regime against the causes of freedom and democracy and against the Egyptian people.

Non-partisan opposition groups in Egypt are writing in their mission statements as preamble; “the Zionist enemy, the US occupation …etc”. They are recycling and singing the broken records of the fascist regimes in the Middle East. They make no difference to impress anyone and that’s why their base will always remain weak domestically and internationally. They do not promise a dream, they promise victories based on more hatred and revenge. Islamists in Egypt are successful because they are singing their own song.

Read my post I think they are going to like you to know why emerging opposition will remain weak with no popular base. I recently met a Palestinian friend of mine and we were talking politics as usual and guess what she told me, "I wish Egypt get us (Palestinians) out of their mind. Why do not they let us alone. They include us in everything, I wish they stop and solve their own problems". And that's in her own words.

Did Anyone Notice?

While Arab nationalist newspapers were busy making sure that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon gets all the bad names, not one single Arab country drew the attention to a very important thing that happened in Israel. The Israeli Prime Minister is the technically the highest authority in Israel, however, what happened is that the state did not stumble or turn into a civil war because the prime minister is sick. There is no such thing in Israel that is called the sole politician or ruler. There is a big number of Israeli politicians who may or may not rotate power, however, without affecting the stability of the state. And, simply that's democracy...But of course no interest in such bad ideas as democracy. If this was the case in an Arab country, I won't even start talking about it. Photo by: Reuters

Six months after Sharm El Sheikh Terrorist Attacks, Remembering and Never Forgetting

On July 23, 2005 the Egyptian Red Sea City Sharm El Sheikh was brutally attacked in an act of terrorism. Six months have passed and still I feel a wound because my people and my city were unjustly attacked in cold blood. January 23 will mark six months after the horrific attack.

The terrorist attack did not lead to justice to those who have lost their lives or those who lost their beloved or punishment to the criminal perpetrators; however it led to unfair detentions to innocent minor groups without the right to trial. Sinai Bedouins were the victims of random investigations into the killings of more than 90 persons, mostly Egyptians.

Egyptian Interior Minister Habib Adli suggested that there were possible links between the attack and a series of bombings on Oct. 7, 2004, at the Taba Hilton, near Egypt's border with Israel, and two beaches farther south. Those attacks killed 34 people. The link was that Sharm El Sheikh attacks gave the ministry of the Interior the chance to continue detaining more innocent Egyptian citizens. That was the link that we learned about.

President Hosni Mubarak announced the convention of an Arab anti-terrorism conference and he got scolded by Algeria because he took the decision without consulting the Chair of the Arab League round at the time. The diplomatic conflict was not resolved. The Egyptian President’s face was saved by the death of the Saudi King, Fahd, as everyone pretended busy. The conference was not materialized in any form until today.

Egypt official and opposition press continue to denounce Israel’s separation wall at the time the Egyptian government took the decision to build another concrete separation wall around Sharm El Sheikh, believing they can protect the city that way.

It is still painful to believe that Taba and Sharm El Sheikh were attacked. However I cannot stop thinking about them as I am still terrified that another attack might happen since we were not assured by the government or even felt that the government is serious about solid investigations.

It puzzles me a lot that the two terrorist attacks took place at two important Egyptian National Days, 6 of October and Revolution Day, July 23. There must be a relation. And I keep asking myself what is the message a terrorist enemy would like to send to the Egyptians. The second common thing is that the two attacks happened on the soil of the Sinai Peninsula.

Agencies reported that in a statement posted on an Islamic website, a group calling itself the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, al-Qaeda, in Syria and Egypt, said it carried out the bombings, the AP news agency reported, although the claim has not been verified.

It even confuses me more that Syria was mentioned as a hub for a group that claimed responsibility for Sharm El Sheikh attacks. No follow up on the tip. There is no surprise. The Egyptian regime is the closest ally to the regime of Syria and will always cover its back, even if it was at the expense of the Egyptian people.

I am dedicating this week to Sharm El Sheikh.

Terrorist attack on Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt
Sharm El-Sheikh Aftermath- My protest
Bits & Pieces: Sharm, Elections, Nancy Agram, British Council, Martyrs
Algeria Spanks Mubarak.....Not the first
Egyptian security tracks down on youth in hurghada .. arresting 8000 & sending them home with pretext of terrorism

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Washington Post Editorial, A Must Read

First Signs for punishment due to the slow democratic reform. The young government that has always tried hard to associate itself with the US was "disinivted" according to the post. The editorial calls upon the Bush Adminstration to relate between the $1.8 billion and a list of conditions for democracy and freedom.

Here are some excerpts from the editorial, "A first Answer to Egypt":

"An Egyptian delegation that was to visit Washington this month to discuss a free-trade agreement has been disinvited, and the agreement itself was put on hold. Thanks to Mr. Mubarak's autocratic backsliding -- including his crude persecution and imprisonment of his leading liberal opponent, Ayman Nour -- Egypt will continue to lag behind Jordan, Morocco and other modernizing Arab states that enjoy tariff-free access to U.S. markets. For Egypt's business community and the reformist technocrats in its cabinet, the message should be clear: Egypt won't join the global economic mainstream unless it abandons its corrupt dictatorship."

Other related blogs to the Washington Post

Monday, January 16, 2006

U.S. Backs Liberia's first Madame President in Africa

The first lady of the United States, Laura Bush, led the U.S. delegation to the January 16 inauguration of Liberian President-elect Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa's first elected female president.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accompanies the first lady on the visit, which is intended to symbolize Liberia's standing as a Bush administration foreign policy priority and its "special relationship" with the United States, says Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer.

This is so significant that the US delegated the First lady to congratulate Africa's first democratically-elected female president. This is such a leap and a successful move for Africa. I have to admit that Asia, Latin America and Africa have no problems with having women in leadership positions only the Middle East that believes that women are inferior creatures.......Photos by AP and Reuters.

Dictator Victim, President for Chile

I m not a socialist to begin with, but I felt so happy for Chile as they elected the third female president in Latin America, Madame President Michelle Bachelet. She is also a "single mother", a term that will never be understood in the Middle East.

I am impressed by how history always take the side of democracy and freedom. This woman's father who was an air force general died in prison because of torture that led to a heart attack. She and her mom were forced to an exile in Australia and later she moved to Eastern Germany and that was when she was 22 years old. She followed the pursuit of her father as she became political prisoner at the time of Chile's dictator Augusto Pinochet. Now she is 54 years old and she is an elected President. This is a moment to be celebrated.

Photo: Chile's socialist candidate Michelle Bachelet, third from right, her mother Angela Jeria, left, her daughters Sofia, second from left, and Francisa, right, wave to supporters after winning the run-off presidential elections in Santiago, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2006. (AP Photo/Roberto Candia)

UN Security Council Agree on Iran

Powerful members of the U.N. Security Council agreed today that Iran must fully suspend its nuclear program, Britain's Foreign Office said following a meeting aimed at forging a common response to Tehran's decision to resume uranium enrichment activities.

Diplomats also announced plans to call for an emergency meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency board of directors on Feb. 2-3 to discuss what action to take against Tehran for removing some U.N. seals from its main uranium enrichment facility in Natanz last week.

Warning Iran over the confrontation with the international community on its nuclear programme , Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Sunday that despite intensive three years of verification of Iranian nuclear programme, he was unable to make a judgment on its peaceful nature.

Blogger Stefania (Free Thoughts) has an interesting post on Iran and how changes can take place without military intervention on Publius Pundit. For a daily briefing on Iran, Regime Change Iran.

Cheney in Egypt Tomorrow

US Vice President Dick Cheney is in Cairo tomorrow to meet with our President Hosni Mubarak. He was scheduled to meet him last December, but the Vice president had to interrupt his tour of the region for US Senate voting on budget. I made an announcement to his visit to Egypt last December which I think is still relevant. I will be following up the visit in the Egyptian and American press.

The last visit for Cheney to Egypt was in 2003, immediately before the US toppled Saddam Hussein.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Sunni Iraqis Get Over their Fears of Zarkawi

Iraq's Sunnis are not only showing willingness to be part of the political process of Iraq, but they want to be recruited in the police and the Iraqi army. In January 2005, Sunni Iraqis refused to vote, as democractic free Iraq continues to evolve very quickly into being, they participated in Iraq's last elections and continue to share views on Iraq's constitution.

The good news today is that Sunni Iraqis are getting over their fear from the terrorists and want to be part of the war against terrorists, like Al-Zarkawi and other figures that terrorize their lives.

This news means that the Sunni areas will start to tighten their grip on terrorists, hence clearing the pockets of terrorism in Iraq.

Photo: Iraqi soldiers show an assault position during the 85th Army Day celebration in Kerbala, 110 km (68 miles) south of Baghdad, January 7, 2006. REUTERS/Mushtaq Mohammed

Murdered Dutch Film Maker Van Gogh Jails radical Islamist terror network

Fourteen men have gone on trial in the Netherlands charged with belonging to a radical Islamist terror network.

Among the accused is Mohammed Bouyeri, already jailed for life for the murder of film-maker Theo van Gogh last year.

The trial, the first to come to court under new anti-terror legislation, is being seen as a test case.

The suspects are alleged to be members of the so-called Hofstad group, based in The Hague. Two are also charged with trying to kill police with a grenade. The BBC reports.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Celebrate the Right to Dream with Dr. King

The United States celebrates the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King this Monday as a national holiday. If we are to name social change leaders for the 20th century, there is no doubt that Dr. King will be on top of the list.

Martin Luther King’s dream became the dream of the humanity but in different forms not only Black Americans. On Monday, I will celebrate my dreams and I will remind myself to stand for what I dream of in life.

True leaders do not only succeed in bringing one dream into reality but they keep our dreams alive and bring hope into the hearts of many.

Twelve years ago, another leader followed the pursuit of Dr. King. South African Leader Nelson Mandela could have set fire into the hearts of the black South Africans after long bitter years of imprisonment, however instead he chose peace, forgiveness and reconciliation with the bitter part of his life. He chose South Africa not himself.

From Dr. King’s speech “I have a dream”, I love the last part where he says "let Freedom ring...". At this part, I truly feel his love to his country. He had the chance to bring more hatred and bitterness into the hearts of the black American people who believed in him, but in stead he made them believe in their country and gave them hope in a better tomorrow, something that I miss. Sometimes I feel I need to be reminded that I should continue to believe in my country no matter how cruel it gets.

Gateway Pundit thinks that Middle Eastern bloggers can follow the pursuit of Dr. King.

Condi Blasts Egypt-Saudi Mediation Efforts for Syria

Those who have been following the news on Syria will notice that the only two Arab leaders that are trying to save bastion of the Baathists ideology, Syria, are the Egyptian President and the Saudi King. Unknown reasons drive the President and the monarch to fail the causes of justice and freedom. Failing the Lebanese people is not a big surprise as the Egyptian President continue to fail the Egyptian people.

US Secretary of State in a statement on Jan 11 said "The United States stands firmly with the people of Lebanon in rejecting any deals or compromises that would undermine the UNIIC investigation (UN Independent International Investigation), or relieve Syria of its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions. We are firmly committed to seeking justice and pursuing the investigation to its ultimate conclusion."

Well-said Dr. Condi!

Free Ayman Nour Petition..Sign Now

I have signed a petition calling for opposition leader Ayman Nour’s Freedom. He was sentenced to five years in prison by Mubarak's regime. You can do the same. Show your support and protection for freedom and sign here. You do not have to be a member of AlGad party that was founded by Nour or his fan. All you need is to have a principle based in your believe in human liberties.

A piece of information that I did not know before signing that this petition will be submitted to President Mubarak. I would not have signed it if I knew so. I highly regret signing it now. Dictators are not be begged to grant Egyptians their inalienable rights. We must be treated as free people because humans are born free.

“Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God”, Benjamin Franklin. I kind of like Franklin's religion, it appeals to me.

Al Mansouri- One Year in Prison

Libyan cyber-dissident Abdel Razak Al Mansouri was arrested in the eastern city of Tobruk on the night of 12 January 2005 and was transferred two days later to a prison in Tripoli. Since then, he has never been allowed to see his family.

He was given the 18-month prison sentence by Tripoli court on 19 October for "unauthorised possession of a pistol." But the real reason for his arrest and conviction was almost certainly the articles he had been writing for nearly a year for a dissident website based in London, http://www.akhbar-libya.com/ , in which he raised social issues and criticised human rights abuses by the Libyan authorities. Read more here from RSF. Previous blogs on Al Mansouri here and here from last August.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Merry Christmas and Happy Eid

If you are celebrating Christmas then Merry Christmas عيد ميلاد مجيد
If you are celebrating Eid then Happy Eid عيد أضحى سعيد

Democracy going Digital..

I received an email from the editor of chief of a new site that hosts a blog that supports freedom of speech and democracy. The site, Demologue, creates and posts free resources for democracy activists, publishes citizen views of democratization through blogging, and connecting democracy activists around the world through chat rooms and internet forums, Demologue.com seeks not only to support democracy around the world, but also to change the way democratization occurs. Because true democracies work from the bottom up, Demologue.com uses the internet to empower political activists in democratizing nations in their fight for honest, transparent, effective, and accountable government.

DemoBlog is a blog of global democracy struggles. Across the world, diverse groups of people are yearning, lobbying, and fighting for democratic government. This blog tells their story in their words

Demoblog liked my post of Syria and Khadam news. Check it here...If interested to send your articles to demologue to post them, click here... Articles can be submitted in English, French, Spanish, or Arabic.

Welcome Demoblog to the blogosphere.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Middle East Swirl of Change Continues...

Photo: Reuters. There is no doubt that the Middle East is changing but this week was very special.

Former Syrian Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam said Saturday he was seeking a national alliance to overthrow the regime of President Bashar Assad. I had to read the lead several times to believe it. The former official, who was a leader in the ruling Baath Party and country's leadership for 30 years until recently, said he was not seeking any personal gains and had no personal ambitions in his country. Standing a trial in The Hague at the International Criminal Court is kind of embarrassing.

In an interview with Asharq al-Awsat from his home in Paris, Khaddam said he was trying to "create the right atmosphere for the Syrian people to topple the regime."

Best statement by Khadam: “This regime cannot be reformed, so there is nothing left but to oust it." Tyranny cannot be subject to reform, I hope the world and the U.S. would understand this reality.

Organized Oppressed Groups React First: Financial Times: Muslim Brotherhood leader supports Syrian defector, Khaddam:

Punishment was the response: Syria freezes assets of Khaddam, family.
Photo: AP
Funny: International press hosts former Syrian vice president Khadam’s statements; local pro-Egyptian regime paper interviews Assad Jr to deny Khadam’s accusations…who reads local Egyptian press. Friendly press dedicates pages for a friend.

Tyrannical Intransigence: Assad Said to Reject Questioning in U.N. Inquiry: Syrian President Bashar Assad has rejected a request to be interviewed by a United Nations commission investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Iraq’s ex-dictator Saddam Hussein said the same before you…

Friends in need: Syria's Assad visits Egypt and Saudi. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad flew to Egypt and Saudi Arabia on Sunday for talks on Lebanon, a day after diplomats said Assad had rejected a U.N. request to interview him about a former Lebanese prime minister's murder. A unanimous U.N. Security Council resolution in October threatened to punish Damascus with unspecified action if it failed to cooperate fully with the inquiry into Hariri's death.
Photo:APKeep the Promise: Pressure on Syria will not let up until end of Hariri probe: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice vowed that pressure on Syria to cooperate with the UN probe into the murder of Lebanon's former prime minister, Rafiq Hariri, would not let up until the full truth was uncovered.

Straw tells Syria to cooperate on Hariri: British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw ratcheted up the pressure on Syria, telling it to cooperate with the UN probe into the assassination of Hariri.

Standing up for the rights: In the Washington Post: When asked what he wanted from America, leader of Lebanon's Druze community Walid Jumblat said "You came to Iraq and you can do the same thing in Syria." Jumblat calls US to do in Syria what it did in Iraq .

Adel Imam Fails his Mission...

Photo: UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Adel Imam, left, and UNHCR spokeswoman Astrid Van Genderen Stort speak at a press conference in Cairo, Egypt Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2006, on the subject of the Sudanese migrants and refugees who were brutally dispersed from a Cairo square by Egyptian riot police on Friday, Dec. 30, 2005. (AP Photo/Nasser Nouri)

Adel Imam, a popular Egyptian actor, is very well known for his comic roles in plays and in movies. He won the hearts of millions of Arabic-speaking nations in the Middle East. There is no doubt that I was one of his fans who used to recite some of his popular sayings especially the ones in his plays.

Few years ago, Imam was appointed as a goodwill ambassador to the UNHRC. Many actors and actresses around the world are taking the responsibility of promoting the United Nations’ values and mission in different fields. And in Egypt, I can remember at least another two, other than Imam

In a news conference Jan 3 in Cairo attended by the UNHRC spokesperson together with Adel Imam, Imam regretted the deaths of the Sudanese refugees and said “There were talks between the police and the protesters for five hours, but the protesters refused to budge. They put their children in front of them as human shields."

His comments watered down the brutality of the Egyptian police that resulted in the killing of some innocent refugees living under involuntary severe living conditions. Those refugees were displaced by their own country because of the war in Sudan. But because life has to continue as cruel for them,as they had to face murderous crimes in Egypt. Imam was not shameful to not out loud condemn the brutality of the Egyptian police. Such condemnations usually come from foreign entities that are not lavishly living by the gratuities of the Mubarak family in Cairo.

His comments did not shock me because I saw his previous political stands from the regime and the Egyptians. He uses his popularity to market the regime’s National Democratic Party. One thing only puzzles me is the reason that drives someone famous wealthy popular actor like Adel Imam to follow a failed regime like the Mubarak's. The regime did not fail politically but failed to meet its moral obligations towards us, Egypt’s neighbors and towards any good cause that gives hope to any human on this earth. There are so many poor leaders, not in intellecut but wealth, that believed in their people and their country and succeeded in pulling their countries out of the tyrannical quagmires. But regrettably it is not only Imam, because there is a disease in Egypt. This disease's symptoms drive many people to lick the bread crumbs of the authority in a way or another rather than standing up for good causes or defending the human liberaties. Among other symptoms are continuous compromises and keeping personal interests at the expense of the disadvantaged unpriviliged people.

Photo: Imam with Gamal Mubarak, President Mubarak's son in an NDP demo in Cairo in 2003

In 2003, Imam joined an anti-war demonstration (in Arabic) organized by the Regime’s National Democratic Party meant to support President Mubarak and denounce the Iraq war and the Israeli occupation. It is amazing to see him pretending to defend the regime’s stances and not to stand for the rights of the Egyptians that could guarantee them a decent life. He only knows how to be the mouthpiece of the regime.

It would have been more honorable for him to remain as a successful actor rather than tarnishing his reputation with the reputation of a failing regime.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Sudanese Refugees Killings Demo Against Egyptian Regime in Washington, DC

In Washington D.C., around 60 Sudanese nationals demonstrated today in front of the Egyptian embassy against the killing of more than 27 Sudanese refugees in a police pre-dawn raid in the Egyptian capital Cairo last Friday, while shouting “Down… Down Mubarak”.

The protest was organized by the Sudanese Marginalized Forces Forum for Peace and Development (SMFFPD- USA Chapter). In their press releases they strongly condemned the brutal acts of the Egyptian security forces against the peaceful sit-in protest campaign organized by the Sudanese refugees in Cairo. The Sudanese sit-in has started on September 29, 2005 and until the attack day on December 30. The release also criticizes the UNHCR office in Cairo for ignoring the Sudanese refugees' rights and not guaranteeing their protection in Egypt. SMFFPD called upon all the marginalized forces of Sudan to unite against the oppression of the Sudanese government that forced millions of Sudanese people to escape the country.

Demonstrators held up placards condemning the Egyptian regime’s crime against the Sudanese refugees in Cairo. The Sudanese demonstrators were joined by some supporters from the DC area. The demonstrators were filled with agony and pain over the recent attack as they shouted against the Egyptian regime and President Mubarak.

The demonstrators read out some appeals they wrote to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the Human Rights Commission to launch an immediate independent investigation into the killings of the Sudanese Refugees in Cairo and to provide protection to the refugees from any anticipated future brutality.

SMFFPD called for questioning and freezing all bilateral agreements between the two countries, including agreements on the Nile water.

Demonstrators called on Egypt to stop deportation plans for 650 Sudanese people which have been declared illegal immigrants or have violated the security conditions by the Egyptian government. Demonstrators believe that this move meant to retaliate from the Sudanese people living in Egypt, following the the worldwide international community’s criticism over the brutal treatment by the Egyptian police forces to the Sudanese refugees.

The Sudanese people in the US believe that the killings of the Sudanese people were perpetrated following an agreement of a forced evacuation for the refugees between the Sudanese and Egyptian governments .

Drawings for President Mubarak depicted him in some poses for Hitler with the Nazi sign. Demonstration organizers mentioned that they wrote to the U.S. Congress and to U.S. President George Bush seeking support to save the remaining Sudanese refugees in Cairo and to stop the forced deportation.

U.S. police officers were applauded for not killing the Sudanese protesters unlike the Egyptian police tradition of killing Egyptian citizens, if they dared to demonstrate, and recently the Sudanese!

On December 30, 2005 more than 27 Sudanese refugees were killed at the hands of the Egyptian police officers in a dawn raid to evacuate an unarranged refugee camp in the Mohandessen area, Giza. The victims of the attack were mainly elderly people, children and women.

Related previous posts:
Government Killed the Sudanese Refugees and My Grandma Did Not
27 killed, 30 injured after police stormed a UN Refugee Camp in Cairo, Egypt

Above: "Shame Shame on Mubarak"

Above: "Tarnished hands with blood do not make peace"