Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Cairo International Film Festival Rocks in the Middle East

Despite political and economic disappointments that we face in Egypt, there is no doubt that Egypt is the Hollywood of the Middle East and will always remain. A city that has always been a beacon of art and a mecca for all art lovers. A history of movie industry that extends for close to a century will always be remembered despite the ups and downs.

Tonight, Cairo International Film festival was inaugurated with high presence of Arab and foreign artists.

Latin American movies are the guest of honor this round for the festival.

Believe it or not, Cairo Film Festival is hosting for the first time movies from Saudi Arabia and Oman. Yes, Saudi Arabia... It is the first movie production for Oman. And, the Saudi movie is starring Saudi actors and actresses and is written by Egyptian script writer Belal Fadel.

Late Egyptian Writer Naguib Mahfouz will be honored in the 30th round for the festival. Mahfouz passed away this yeat at the age of 95.

France Culture" Radio channel transmits all the Cairo International Film Festival events and manifestations led by renowned journalist/ presenter Frederic Mitterrand . Fred is the son of late French President Francois Mitterrand. France Culture" is listened to, by all the francophone (French speaking) countries all over the world, with 1,200,000 listeners daily.

Strong presence for the Arabic cinema, around 21 movies from about 8 countries are participating.

My family told me they could hear the inauguration ceremony fireworks from home. I am sure it was such a magnificent night to be in Cairo downtown today. I was told the huge screens will be placed in some spots down town so people can the see the opening ceremony.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Mubarak Rejects a Request to Ban Niqab in Egypt

The following is a story translated from the Egyptian Arabic daily newspaper Al Masry Al Ayoum.

President Hosni Mubarak rejects a request by Osama Shaltout, leader of Al Takafoul party to realese a decree to ban Niqab (veil that covers the entitre face) in Egypt. The request came during the President's meeting with some members of the general committee of the Shura Council.

Mubarak also said:" That the international issues are not easy.and that he stands as a wall against the ambitions of some and that everyone wants to give Egypt something wants something in return.". He said things do not go that easy.

Leader of Al Geel (generation) Nahi AL Shahaby launched an attack on the press and asked for more strict regulations against the press. The President also denied hm this request. He said that the consitution and and law are there to rectify the path. (It is already so strict. How it can be more strict?)

Al Shahaby said asked for increasing the budget allocated to the parties because the current value amounts to L.E. 100,000 ($ 16,000). (Truly, this is a big big joke. This is not even the amount of money spent on President Mubarak's parades everytime he leaves hsi palace) He also complained that the Ruling National Democratic Party is occupying all headquarters dedicated to the parties. Mubarak said that the NDP had these headquarters before the establishment of other parties then he said jokingly "let Refaet Al Said give you headquarters". El Said is the leader of the opposition al Tagamou Party.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Why Mubarak Regime has the Same Effect as the Muslim Brotherhood?

Many of my non-Egyptian friends keep asking me this question, isn't it better to have the Mubarak family in power than the Muslim brotherhood? I am usually speechless. I would contradict my conscience if I say yes President Mubarak is better. I all go against all my beliefs and my confidence that Egypt deserves a better present and a future of democracy and freedom. If I say yes to the Muslim Brotherhood through ballot boxes, then I am agreeing to humiliate my humanity. Being a woman under a regressive backward ruling means asking for asylum in one of the western countries to live with dignity.

My answer now is that the current regime and the Muslim Brotherhood are equally dangerous to the future of my beloved Egypt. I knew it all the time, but here is a clear cut evidence.

The Egyptian Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosni, is under ferocious attack for his comments about the veil in Egypt. He said that the veil is a regressive trend in Egypt. It was expected that he comes under fire from Islamists representated in the Muslim Brotherhood. But Mubarak's ruling party, National Democratic Party, is giving him a harder time and asking him to resign. He admitted that his comments were personal and do not represent any official line. Still he is tormented by all the ministers and member of parliaments who belong to the National Democratic Party. In their defense, they said we won't take any statments that touches our Islam or attempts to insult our religion.

This is just a hint to tell you how rigid and intolerant Egypt became under military Islamic ruling and how strong the religious institution became. There is no room for freedom of expression and there is no freedom to question the herd's culture.

Islamists are asking the minister of culture to quit over remarks and the government is summoning him over remarks!

The other scary part is that there is nothing to get annoyed about except the veil comments! It is unbelievable! As if there are no trains or bus accidents every month and dozens are killed... As if there are no one million homeless street children... As if there are no pollution problems........ As if there are no patients dying in thousands on a daily basis from cancer and organs' failures not of the diseases themselves but because of the bad health care ... As if public transportation are the best and available to all citzens .... As if education system is the best and we can compete...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Egypt's Judges Finally Resort to the European Commission to Solve Problems with Government

Egypt’s judges at the close of their general assembly meeting agreed on meeting a delegation representing the European commission to discuss their demands that they have submitted to the minister of justice, guarantees for full judicial independence and their right to fully supervise and monitor the country's elections.

Around 2500 judges attended the general assembly meeting at their club (association) Friday noon. The meetings continued until 6 PM. Board renewal elections were conducted and 5 new members were elected. The total number of board members is 14.

Reformers led by Counselor Zakaria Abdel Aziz won the renewal elections.

In a statement by the judges club said “we agree on meeting the European Commission.” The meeting will run in Arabic, allowing official entities to attend and participate if they want.

The statement stressed that Egypt’s judges are not complaining about their government to any party and that they are not financed by foreign parties and that they do not have demands from external entities.

The Egyptian judges are asking for solving the problem between Judges’ Club and the Minister of Justice, Mamdouh Mar’ee. The minister stopped all financial allocations of the Judges Club. Among other pending problems are the amendments made to the judiciary authority law that were supposed to guarantee judiciary independence.

The judges in their statement called on the government to release the money of their health and social care funds.

Counselor Mahmoud Mekky in his statements to the press following the general assembly meeting said “there is no problem meeting with the EU Commission” adding that the discussions will not address the political issues but will focus on the judiciary matters only.

The statement warned against the dangers of amending article 88 of the constitution concerned with the judiciary supervision on elections and referendums.

The Shura Council prepared a report last September calling for amending article 88 stating that if the judges monitor elections that will prevent them from doing their work properly in courts!

The claim was rejected by Counselor Ahmed Saber, Secretary General of the Club. He confirmed that the Judges are committed to stopping any rigging to any future elections, adding that referendums expected on the constitutional amendments will be under the full supervision of the judges.

Fox News Reports on Egyptian Christians Persecution

Shepard Smith's Fox Report ran a report today on Egyptian Christians and on the treatment they receive from the Egyptian government when it comes to building their own churches, torture, arbitrary arrests...etc. Some Egyptian Copts and priests were interviewed and described their struggle to live in Egypt. The report referred to the Alexandria sectarian violence last April, as Egyptian churches became target for extremists.

Fox news is one of the most widely viewed news network in the United States. Shepard Smith's Fox Report is aired in a high traffic time at 7 PM EST. The Report is running a special series on Christianity in the Muslim World.

Dutch Government Bans Full Length Veils

Europe is finally in the process of cleaning up forms of extremism and backwardness. Why would a woman who wants to wear a Burqa or Niqab would want to live in Europe, just because she has got an EU citizenship? Why would they insist on living their regressive culture in a western world?

My exclusive sources told me that the reason for this law is a reaction from the political side to a court decision delivered last week which upheld the right of a female muslim high school teacher who suddenly decided to wear the niqab and refused to shake hands with men after she came back from her summer holiday in Morocco. Before her holiday she didnt wear even a veil!!

I believe that this would be a good opportunity to look for the Dutch flags to burn and torch buildings. This is how Muslims in today's world express their anger or opposition. Regrettably, no one wants to speak the language or communicate the same way Muslims do. There is no surprise though. Western governments use legislations and law enforcements to reflect their peoples' desires and to run their states. No wonder the cleaning process is inevitable now!

It shocks me also to see those men who appear on the Arabic-speaking TV channels in the Middle East and claim to be Islamic Clerics with European nationalities talking with so much hatred and grudge about the countries that provided them safe haven from their native countries. Why?

THE HAGUE, Netherlands - The Dutch government said Friday it plans to draw up legislation "as soon as possible" banning full-length veils known as burqas and other clothing that covers a person's entire face in public places.

"The Cabinet finds it undesirable that face-covering clothing — including the burqa — is worn in public places for reasons of public order, security and protection of citizens," Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk said in a statement. More...

Monday, November 13, 2006

For the Third Successive Year, Egyptian blog wins Deutsche Welle's Best of the Blogs award

Last Year, Alaa Abdel Fattah 's blog won Reporters Without Borders Special Award, which has become an integral part of the Best of the Blogs Awards (BOBS). R of Beyond Normal is the winner of Best Arabic blog for 2004.

This year best Arabic blog award went to Egyptian blogger Jar El Kamar. The Deutsche Welle's Best of the Blogs (BOBS) is an annual competition that picks blogs from all over the world in different languages.

There is no doubt that Egyptian bloggers made impressive strides in improving the cause of freedom of speech and expression after long decades of state-controlled media. The blogosphere provided a window for free people from different streams to express themselves and here they are winning.

Congratulations to Jar Al Kamar... Go Egyptian Blogosphere into more success and freedom!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Egyptian Blogger Nabeel Abdul Kareem Detained for the Second Time!

Egyptian Blogger Nabeel Abdul Kareem was arrested by state security for the second time a couple of days ago. Looks like the state security wants to celebrate with Kareem his first anniversary of his first detention. Same month last year Kareem was arrested for writing about Alexandria's sectarian violence. He was a witness to the violence in the city he lives in.

He is 22 years old. He can never be more expressive and vibrant. If he cannot say all what he wants to say at this age, when will he be able to? Not everyone agrees with what Kareem says or writes about, but this does not mean that he should be charged with such horrific charges like being threat to state security, defaming Egypt or insulting religious instuitions...etc.

I did not know that a blog can be used to defame an entire country and nation! But apparently in the eyes of the Egyptian state security, it is, yes. As an Egyptian citizen I had never felt that Kareem can be a threat to me or to my country. Living in the U.S. made me feel that it is normal to say what you believe in. Why Americans do not feel threatened by those criticizing President Bush or the army? Why the hell they keep creating all these websites, blogs, go on demonstrations, write books, shoot movies, publish newspapers and no one feels that the country is threatened by all those people taking the liberity to express themselves even if they are nuts?

Detaining Kareem for the second time for writing an article on the Sunni religious insitution, Al Azhar, is a big slap. Where is the freedom of expression and speech? Is this the promised democracy in Egypt? Keep your mouth shut or you will be thrown in the no where at the state security prisons..

You can follow Kareem's news on this site created for his news and for his freedom.

It is worth mentioning here that the Paris-based Reporters without Borders (RSF) added Egypt to its internet blacklist! May be the Egyptian state security can arrest RSF for trying to damage the image and reputation of Egypt.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Father Gets 10 Years in Jail in the US for Genital Mutilation

"A man has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for the genital mutilation of his two-year-old daughter, in what is said to be first such case in the US.

A US women's rights group described the verdict as a victory against female genital mutilation worldwide.

Prosecutors said he used scissors to remove his daughter's clitoris in 2001.

Equality Now, a US women's rights group, said it was the first recorded case of female genital mutilation in the country." More from the BBC....

In Egypt, thousands of girls are having their genitals mutilated every year and no one is held responsible for this abhorrent crime!! FGM is one of the most rampant problems in Egypt. Not one single direct legislation was stipulated to punish those responsible those crimes against innocent little girls. A crime described as irreversibe against any woman!

I recommend that you read this wonderful post about a "case of an Egyptian female genital mutilation" by Mostafa Hussein. He wrote about a true story about a 10 year old girl who was admitted with post-circumcision bleeding in the hospital where he works! It is a must read blog post.