Sunday, August 17, 2014

Re-writing Egypt's unforgettable history - OpenDemocracy

On 11 August 2014, the authorities barred a Human Rights Watch delegation from entering Egypt and, according to local media, had them deported to New York and Paris. The delegates were going to announce the findings of their yearlong investigation into the mass killings of protesters carried out by security forces last summer. This would have coincided with the first anniversary of the dispersals of the Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins, 14 August 2013.

More on OpenDemocracy here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The mentality of Egypt's security apparatus exposed in one interview

On Friday 25th of July, the State Information Services (SIS) published text for an interview with the official spokesman of the Ministry of Interior, General Hani Abdellatif. In the interview he says that "the Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip was part of the "New Middle East" project, which mainly targeted Egypt and the Arab Gulf states".

One wonders why then the Egyptian regime is not stopping the incitement against Palestinians in the media. Won't this help in stopping the "aggression" which is part of the "New Middle East" plot? Also, why not try talking to Hamas and other factions in Gaza before formulating the cease-fire proposal as it did with the Israelis?

The original interview was conducted by MENA, the official news agency. In another part he says: "Hillary Clinton in her book (referring to recently released Hard Choices) said that on July 5th, 2013 they (the Muslim Brotherhood) were going to declare the Islamic Caliphate in Sinai and they (the west) would have supported it. And Halayeb and Shalateen would have been annexed into Sudan and Sallum borders would have been opened to Libya (meaning Egypt would lose it to Libya). This is written in Hillary Clinton's book where she confesses that June 30th & July 3rd was a great shock that they (the west) didn't expect that totally foiled this plot".

Of course, what the spokesman quoted or rather misquoted is complete nonsense. Hillary never said this. You can read what she actually said about Egypt here. The nonsense he said was a misquote that recently made the rounds on Facebook about the conspiracies that would have happened if Morsi wasn't ousted.

Prior to that he said that the latest Al-Farafra attack was a plot by "International intelligence agencies that aided and moved [the perpetrators]". More nonsense, the primary investigation by army didn't says so and a military source said that the investigation is still ongoing. Until the investigation is completed, no one, especially security officials, should unleash his own conspiracy theories about who did this .

After watching the interview I stopped wondering why the security situation in Egypt is deteriorating and why all these poor army and police conscripts lose their lives. If you have security officials who parrot conspiracy theories that are spread on social media without making sure of their sources and spew accusations before investigations end, you no longer wonder why we hear about explosions and people dying every couple of days.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Egypt’s police: a department of thugs - openDemocracy

Mina Fayek. All Rights Reserved.

Ironically, the protest which was peaceful and demanded freedom for political detainees and an end to the "protest law" ended with more of them locked up and served with trumped up charges.

Read more here.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Copts in El Sisi's Egypt - openDemocracy

Egypt's Copts gather in April 2013
Egypt's Copts gather in April 2013. Demotix/Tahsin Bakr. All rights reserved.

Although the majority of Copts are perceived as supporters of Sisi and many do see him as a saviour from the Islamists, time may reveal that Sisi does not have their striving for equality or their attainment of full rights as first degree citizens at heart.

Read more here.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Welcome to the 'Factory of Men' - openDemocracy

While it is true that a civilian oversight on Egypt’s military might seem far from being attained for now, so is every other demand of the revolution. If 'human dignity' is one of the 25 January 2011 goals, then every political party and rights group should demand it for everyone.

Read more on here.

Monday, May 12, 2014

How the US Embassy in Cairo held me guilty by association

Today, I went to the US Embassy in Cairo as stated in my appointment confirmation hoping to get a non-immigrant visa to the United States to visit some friends.

Before that, I asked my friends who issued the visa before about their experiences and prepared all my papers, including papers that prove my "strong ties" to Egypt (namely, a bank statement and a letter from my company's human resources department signed by my employer that certifies that I have a job), so that they'd be assured I will return once again.

After a set of ordinary questions about my marital status, salary.. etc, the consular told me that I was rejected because I have previously applied for immigration (and then specified, a Green Card Lottery).

As far as I know, I've never ever applied for a US visa, whether an immigrant one or not. My parents did apply for the Green Card Lottery, but I didn't. I'm not even interested in immigration and this was the the first attempt in my life to visit America or any other country. Moreover, they never managed to win, thankfully.

The only reason I reached after thinking is that when my parents applied for the lottery they must have written down my name in part of the process and it seems that this is an enough evidence for the embassy to consider me a potential illegal immigrant who failed to obtain an immigrant visa and is seeking a non-immigrant one and will never come back. Simply put, I've been held guilty by association.

There was no time for negotiation, the consular asked me to leave her booth without explanation or giving me a chance to counter or even understand the reasons I was rejected for.

I was so baffled by what happened and I wanted to understand. I tried asking some security guy (the only person I found in front of me), he told me that I may have to wait for at least two years to be able to gain a visa, on condition that my parents stop applying for the lottery.

To make sure, I called the embassy call center for 3 times to ask for what I should do to dissociate myself from my family. Why on earth would a fully grown-up financially-independent adult be accounted for his parents (legal) actions?!

Beside the phone calls, there was an exchange of emails hoping to get my case to a higher level, but all went in vain. The email replies were a set of predefined answers to the extent that I got the same reply twice despite trying to explain my issue. Not to mention that these replies were almost irrelevant, explaining how to prove strong ties rather than addressing my real problem: "how to prevent getting rejected in future?".

That said, I must say that the lady in third call showed great amount of empathy and understanding (thank you!). I felt she tried her best, and asked someone on a higher level, but again, all went in vain.

Not only did the embassy hold me guilty for something I didn't commit, but also they had no answer on how I'm supposed to avoid this in the future. When I asked the lady in the second call "After how many years can I apply and successfully get a visa?" (In other words, after how many years I'll be considered no more guilty for my parents attempts to immigrate) she said "we can never know".

Friday, February 7, 2014

Four reasons for throwing down a gauntlet to El Sisi - openDemocracy

Now that it seems imminent that Field Marshal Abdel Fattah El Sisi will run for Egypt's presidency, some argue that it’s a done deal and that there’s no need to compete with him, especially due to the overwhelming support he is getting from both state institutions and media outlets, and others argue that anyone else’s participation in the elections would only be for decorative purposes, only further legitimizing the whole process.
Last week left-wing politician Hamdeen Sabbahi officially announced his presidential bid. Khaled Ali, the youngest presidential contender in 2012 may also announce his intent to run soon. The Tamarod (Rebel) movement, known for backing the military, is split over which candidate to support. Two of its three leaders support Sabbahi, while the third supports Sisi. This is excluding two other contenders, namely Sami Anan and potentially Ahmed Shafik, both military men, as they are very unlikely to gain support from any kind of progressive camp.
The political scene is not encouraging many to engage, especially with widespread arrests, unfair competition and the consolidation of power by state bodies. However, I would argue that there are several legit reasons to take the risk and challenge El Sisi in the upcoming presidential elections.

Read more here.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

الكنيسة والدولة وثورة يناير


في نوفمبر 2012، عندما تم تنصيب البابا تواضروس الثاني بابا للكنيسة القبطية خلفاً للبابا شنودة الثالث، كان الكثيرون يضعون امالاً عريضة لبداية حقبة جديدة للكنيسة القبطية. وبالفعل لم يمر الكثير من الوقت حتى حدثت تطورات كبيرة منها على سبيل المثال: إعادة تنظيم المجمع المقدس وعودة بعض اساتذة اللاهوت للتدريس في كلية اللاهوت القبطية "الاكليريكية" بعد ان تم استبعادهم سابقاً بسبب آرائهم المثيرة للجدل. إلا أن الامل الأكبر ظل معقوداً على اعادة النظر في العلاقة بين الكنيسة والدولة المصرية.

لمدة تزيد عن الثلاثين عاماً، تعاملت الدولة مع الكنيسة كممثل سياسي للأقباط ولاقى هذا الوضع قبول الطرفين نظراً لحالة الجمود السياسي الطويلة. ففي حين تعهدت الدولة بحماية الكنائس والمؤسسات المسيحية (او هكذا ظن البعض) من المتطرفين، ضمنت ايضاً تحييد وربما ولاء معظم افراد الاقلية. بالطبع كان هناك هزات تحدث في هذة العلاقة لكن الحالة ككل كانت مرضية للطرفين.

وعلى الرغم من ذلك لم ينتهي التمييز ضد الاقباط في المؤسسات الحكومية ولا حتى توقفت هجمات المتطرفين. على العكس، ازدادت الطائفية توهجاً مما اثبت ان الاتفاق غير المعلن بين الطرفين اتى بنتائج عكسية لم تزد الا من جراحات الاقباط.

في ابريل 2013، سئُل البابا عن استخدام الدعاية ذات الطابع الديني في الانتخابات من قبل بعض الاحزاب الاسلامية، فجاء رده: "الدين لو دخل في السياسىة تلوث" ثم اضاف "الكلام دا عام على اي دين".

لوهلة تستشعر ان هناك املاً يلوح في الأفق، فالكنيسة على ما يبدو قررت اتخاذ موقفاً جديداً بالابتعاد عن أي ممارسة سياسية. لكن سرعان ما تبخر الأمل، فبعد ثمانية اشهر ظهر البابا في فيديو صادم يطالب الاقباط ليس فقط بالمشاركة في الاستفتاء (وهو ما يمكن ان  يكون مفهوماً)، ولكن ايضاً بالتصويت بنعم لأن "نعم تعطى بركات وخيرات" على حد قوله. استتبع الفيديو مقالاً في جريدة الاهرام الرسمية مكتوباً بخط يده يحمل نفس المعنى.

موقف البابا تسبب في موجة غضب عارمة على مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي خاصة بين المؤمنين بثورة الخامس والعشرين من يناير.

افرونيه عازر، عضوة بحركة "لا للمحاكمات العسكرية للمدنيين" كتبت على صفحتها على فيسبوك تقول: "النظرية دي أثبتت فشلها بعد كل اللي مر بيه المسيحيين في السنين الأخيره، وإن السياسة لازم تتساب للي بيفهم وبيشتغل فيها والدين يتساب لبتوع الدين". فيما قارن آخرون بسخرية بين تعاليم المسيحية وتصريحات البابا. بسنت ماكسيموس، طالبة بفنون تطبيقية، قالت: "المسيح قال ليكن كلامكم نعم نعم لا لا و البابا حب يضيف التاتش بتاعه فقال "قوّل النَعم يزيد النِعم". لكن لاحقاً تسأل بشكل اكثر جدية: "احنا المفروض مانكونش يأسنا من معركة تنظيف الكنيسة، صح؟"

قد يرى المدافعون عن موقف البابا انه كان يعبر عن رأيه كأي مواطن. بالطبع البابا كمواطن له كل الحق في التعبير عن رأيه، ولكن السؤال الذي يطرح نفسه هو ما هي التدابير التي اتخذها البابا ليؤكد ان هذا مجرد رأياً شخصياً وليس رأي لـ"رأس الكنيسة"؟ الاجابة: لا شئ. على العكس، خطاب البابا تضمن كلمات ذات طابع ديني من قبيل: "نِعم" و"بركات" و"خيرات".

"لما كانت بتستخدم المساجد فى الدعاية السياسية رفضنا السلوك ده لكن عملنا نفس الغلطة ديه" كتب كريم ممتاز، مطور برمجيات. "الكنيسة ممكن تشارك فى كتابة الدستور و تشجع الناس على المشاركة لكن من غير توجيه".

في كتابه "الكنيسة والدولة"، أسس الاب متى المسكين للعلاقة بين الكيانين حيث يقول: "المفروض على الكنيسة أن تترك للمواطن المسيحي الحرية الكاملة فى قيامه بأعبائه الوطنية حتى لا تكون الكنيسة مسئولة أمام الدولة عن تقصير ابنائها فى أدائهم الواجب الوطنى."

"يلزم الكنيسة أن لا تأمر رجل الدين أن يتكلم إلا فيما يختص بالشئون الكنسية وفي دائرة اختصاص المسيحية حتى لا تقف الكنيسة مسئولة أمام السلطان الزمني، لأنها لا تسأل قط إلا أمام المسيح روحياً."

تقترب تعاليم الاب متى المسكين من مبادئ "لاهوت التحرير" الذي ظهر في امريكا اللاتينية في السبعينات والثمانينات إبان قيام الثورات هناك لمعارضة التقارب الحادث بين الكنيسة وبين الانظمة الفاسدة، بالاضافة الي إعادة تعريف دور الكنيسة في المجتمع.

ربما تكون عودة تلاميذه الى التدريس بالكلية الاكليريكية مرةً اخرى فرصة لتخليد تعاليمه وافكاره. غير أن أكثر ما يبعث على الأمل الآن هو رد فعل الشباب القبطي حيال تصريحات البابا. حتى اصدقائي المتدينيين الذين اعتادوا الدفاع عن مواقف الكنيسة الخاطئة ابدو امتعاضاً من موقف البابا الأخير من الدستور.

بالطبع هذا احد المكاسب التي صنعتها ثورة يناير والتي يصعب، ان لم يكن مستحيلاً، الرجوع عنها.

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