- Former minister of culture, Farouk Hosni, stated that the best way to protect the pyramids is to transform the area into a military area protected by the military. At the same time, the ministry of antiquities met with the military and ‘gave it’ the contract to develop the area. In addition with a presidential decree, the President gave the contract to build the ‘new capital’ to the army also. This prompted Foreign Policy to write:The Army And Its President- To keep the armed forces happy, President Sisi is giving them Egypt’s economy.
- Journalist Mostafa Bakri said that General Tantawi, former defense minister, told him that ElBaradei will never be prime minister ‘as long as I’m alive.’ This once again indicates that General Tantawi is somehow still in shadow control.
- Unverified source tells a newspaper that the government will reduce civil servants’ pay and increase energy bills. Already the civil servants’ law is being debated in parliament and people are angry about it because it means reducing the ballooning number of employees in government offices.
Physicians at their emergency meeting
- The 9 CSF policemen who have been implicated in the beating of the Matriya hospital physicians have been released without bail following interrogation. They were however indicted for using cruelty and beating the physicians while performing their duties. People go to prison for lesser charges. Meanwhile a judiciary source tells the newspapers that the CSF policemen are innocent and that it was the physicians who attacked them. The Physicians’ Syndicate headed by its Chief Hassan Khairi continued its emergency session today to discuss the matter and its deputy stated that security made a deliberate blackout at the syndicate to prevent it from convening. Among the decisions of the emergency meeting is the removal of the minister of health, as well as banning any armed personnel from entering into hospitals. The matter continues to escalate and among the decisions reached are a partial strike.
The Syndicate also transferred the Minister of Health to internal investigation for not supporting the physicians.
Egyptian television broadcast the outside of the Syndicate in a picture that showed it completely empty even though estimates are about 10,000 physicians attending. [Video of the physicians chanting outside their syndicate]
Deputy Chief of Physician Syndicate Mona Mena
- Meanwhile.. the media – including social media – have been trying to turn people against the physicians. TV host Azmi Mejahed stated that Mona Mena [the elected deputy chief of the syndicate] and George Ishak [who had created the Kefaya Movement] have ‘Ikhwani tendencies.’ It should be noted that both are Copts. Al Watan newspaper writer Kardoosi called Mona Mena in a one-paragraph article ‘that old, ugly, hag’ [ “شمطاء الطب الكركوبة “] .
- A law suit against the satirical Abla Fahita muppet program has been postponed to March 13th. Lawyer who filed the lawsuit to ban the program said it encouraged ‘lewdness and affected the morals and values of the people.’
- In a blow to the Egyptian government, massacred student Giulio Regeni’s name was given to the Egyptian section of the Museum of Turin. Associated Press stated that the Italian ambassador to Egypt had asked to meet with the Egyptian minister of interior hours after Regeni’s disappearance, but the latter declined. The senior officer investigating Giulio Regeni death was previously convicted of torture and murder. It should be noted that Regeni was studying labor and labor unions in Egypt. Italian media is already pointing fingers at Egyptian security.
- Pres. Sisi honored a man called Islam Salah for being the youngest man with a PhD on ‘Scientist’s Day’. The man was later arrested and charged with fraud and forgery. He was selling fake documents and certificates to Egyptians on Facebook.
18 year old prisoner Mazen Hamza
- Child prisoner Mazen Hamza (18 yrs old) began a hunger strike. In a heart-wrenching post on Facebook his mother explained her prison visit with him and how weak he was. He told her “If I die, it won’t be of hunger, but of the beatings.” It should be noted that Hamza is accused, together with 18 others, of belonging to a banned group – the Ikhwan and is being tried in a military court.
Nubian stand against Decree 444
- Nubians organize a stand to protest Pres. Sisi’s decision and the silence of their parliamentary representative. Sisi’s decree number 444 bans Nubians from returning to the lands from which they were forcibly removed during the building of the High Dam 51 years ago. Transitional Justice minister stated that there are ‘higher entities’ that object to their return.
The best stupidest quotations of the week:
An excellent report on how the government organized a major crackdown before the 25 Jan anniversary may be read here. It should be noted that people are still speaking out in spite of the harassment. This person summed it all up: ‘Today is the anniversary of when we changed from a dirty regime to a dirtier one.”
Puppet under arrest
- Arrested development: While this is not from Egypt but from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, it is worthy to mention here: ‘morality police’ arrested a puppet at a mall for ‘not wearing the proper Islamic clothes’ and ‘showing skin‘.
Nothing will move Egypt forward unless it puts more effort into supporting academia and research. This, however, is not within the State’s strategic thinking. Over the past few months, several significant events occurred that makes one wonder if the State is truly anti-research [some of those were mentioned in some of my previous blog posts].
October 2015: NASA scientist Essam Heggi, once adviser to President Sisi, was prevented from giving a lecture about the Mars – yes the planet Mars – in Alexandira University for ‘security reasons’. He left back to the US without giving the lecture. Recently, however, [Feb 1st, 2016] while giving a lecture in the US, an Egyptian attendee so-called lecturer Salma Habeeb, reported him to Egyptian authorities through issuing a statement to the media, claiming Heggi said that Egyptians were all harassers of women. She also claimed that he spoke about Egyptians satirically amidst the laughter of attendees. Heggi of course denied the accusations and said the lecture is recorded and anyone may listen to it.
- January 5, 2016: Tunisian writer and professor of Islamic civilization Amal Grami was invited to speak at the Alexandria Library about combating terrorism. She was prevented from entering Egypt, her phone and computer confiscated, and was then deported for being on Egypt’s no-entry list for being a ‘national security risk’.
- January 30, 2016: Researcher and lecturer at Marburg Univ in Germany, Atef Botros, who is an Egyptian-born professor with German citizenship, has been deemed persona-non-grate in Egypt ‘for good’. He was deported back to Germany. The reason is that he created a German NGO called Mayadeen al Tahrir [Tahrir Squares] and was outspoken about Egypt’s situation.
Magdi al Sawi
- Egyptian student, 17 year old Madgi al Sawi, was given Emirati citizenship. He had represented Egypt in an expo in London but no one even bothered to pay attention to him. His project was called “A smart Arab Dam” that involved generating electricity as well as water. The Emirates adopted his project and offered him citizenship and he accepted it immediately.
- Feb 4, 2016: Associate professor Khouloud Saber, Cairo University received permission from her university to pursue her doctorate degree in psychology at a Belgian University. It was at her own personal expense. She got all approval forms from her department & the university itself, but was asked to fill out ‘security forms’. After traveling in September 2015, security responded to the univ that she was banned from travel and her university asked her to return immediately to Cairo. She has approvals from university with paid vacation and they even paid her ticket paid to go – but now they are asking her to return. No reasons given except ‘security’ does not approve.
- Universities began imposing ‘mandatory donations‘ for the amount of LE10K for university professors to permit them to travel. A law suit was filed to stop the university administrators from doing that.
Other human rights activists were also banned from entering Egypt – and in this particular case, Egypt has a right to deny anyone entry. But that’s not the point. The point is that while these intellectuals are banned from entering Egypt, the alternate ‘intellectuals’ that the state presents are a disaster:
- Abdel ‘Ati: he is the so-called military officer who claimed he had a cure for virus C and AIDS – where that cure is given to patients just like kofta to nourish them. The invention had the support of the military and Pres. Sisi was given a demonstration of how it works. While his ‘invention’ became a scandal by all measures, people to this day believe that the US is standing in the way of that invention for its own personal interests to sell its own pharmaceuticals.
It should be mentioned that Heggi [mentioned above] has lost his job as adviser to Sisi because he dared object to Abdel ‘Ati’s invention when it first came out.
- The Egyptian Monster: naturally this was one of the funniest and most absurd scandals of all time. A student claimed he created a car that walks, flies, and floats – calling it the Egyptian Monster and tried to fly it in Tahrir Sq. It failed to even start amidst media interest and filming.
- Meanwhile, Mostafa Bakri, brown-nosed journalist extraordinaire, is nominated for the State’s highest appreciation award, one that used to be given to truly effective and outstanding writers.
That is not to say that there aren’t good Egyptian inventions – but those do not get either media coverage nor governmental interest. This all needs to change if there is to be any hope in progress.
As a former supporter of the military takeover I continue to be appalled by the behavior of the State. It seems to me at times that there is a deliberate attempt by the state to provoke and anger people – which is why I call it al dawla al a’abeeta – “the dumb state”. It is becoming increasingly difficult to support it. Egypt suffers not only from corruption and oppression but also incompetence on many levels, and the reason for this is mismanagement and the ‘people who are trusted’ rather than ‘people who can’ mentality. Now the State has some really angry influential unions against it – such as the physicians’ syndicate and the journalists’ syndicate both of whom announced their support of each others’ demands.
Here is a roundup of the dumbness of the state this last week of January and first week of February 2016 – from the dangerously oppressive to the simply absurd:
El Waraka [The Paper]
- The storming of a business office and the arrest of cartoonist Islam Gawish. Gawish is famous on the internet with his unique-looking cartoons and a facebook page entitled El Waraka [The paper]. Ministry of Interior announced 3 counts against him in his indictment: a- having a facebook page and a personal webpage without license as per law of communications b- having unlicensed programs on his computer thus violating intellectual property laws [obviously an excuse in case they found nothing else]; c – drawing cartoons that criticize the state; d- publishing state news on the internet without license.
After people’s pressure and condemnation of the violation of Gawish’s rights, he was released and the state said it was a coincidence and a mistake, the office itself was targeted and not Gawish.
It should be mentioned that Gawish’s Facebook page received 110 thousand new members following the arrest.
- Female parliamentarian upon hearing of Gawish’s arrest stated that she believes in freedom of speech but rejects ‘contempt of the state under any circumstance’.
دينا عبد العزيز معلقة على ضبط إسلام جاويش: أرفض الإساءة للدولة تحت عباءة الحرية
General Fahham who embezzled 37 million pounds
- Corruption case: Charges against 90 officers of a total of 170 ministry of interior officers and personnel have been dropped after they ‘paid back’ some of the money they acquired illegally between 2002-2010. Among the most absurd of those amounts is one paid by a junior CFS policeman for the amount of 20 million pounds!! The total of amount of the money they received during that period was a billion pounds at least. One of the higher leaders returned 38 million pounds.
What’s truly absurd is that one of the leaders, General Al Fahham, who returned 37 million pounds had written an article a week earlier before this exposure, attacking the Jan 25 revolution and revolutionaries and claiming that they and the Ikhwan were both conspirators against the state.
- A CSF policeman slapped a nurse in Beheira. The nurse’s union leader said she advises the state to have mental checks on their policemen.
Dr. Mona Meena, chief of the Physicians’ Syndicate
- Matariya physicians: Two CSF policemen went to a hospital with an injured man in Matariya and tried to force the physicians to sign a false report. When the physicians refused, one of the CSF men pulled out his gun and him and his colleague dragged the physicians and beat them up and put their shoes on one of the physicians’ head. The physicians filed a complaint but were threatened by the CSF men who filed a counter complaint in another hospital claiming the physicians broke the leg of one of the policemen – which proved to be false. The physicians eventually dropped their complaint because they felt threatened.
On national television one of the CSF officers literally threatened a caller who said he witnessed the incident and would testify against the CSF. The policeman said ‘you have children, don’t you? may they be safe.”
Matariya representative in parliament stated that he witnessed the beatings, but that he would testify against the Physician Syndicate’s chief, Dr. Mona Meena, for inciting people. Physicians in Matariya had shut the hospital down until an investigation into the incident takes place. The public defender ordered the immediate reopening of the hospital and said that ‘not giving health care’ is a crime.
- Persona-non-grata: Egyptian-German researcher Atef Botros was stopped and interrogated for 8 hours at Cairo airport coming from Germany and was then banned from entering the state and deported back to Germany. Atef Botros is a lecturer at the Middle East Center in the University of Marburg. He had apparently lectured against the Egyptian state. He spoke of oppression of the state under Sisi. After leaving. Botros stated that he won’t be silent about the injustice in Egypt.
- Banning activist Gamal Eid from travel. After going to the airport, Gamal Eid was told he was on the no-fly list and banned from travel pending a court case.
CSF policeman slapping woman on metro
- A woman was slapped by a Central Security Forces policeman on the underground train for refusing to let a man enter the car dedicated to women only. People videotaped the incident and published it online. Unaware of its publication, the Ministry of Interior denied the incident and said that the woman delayed the train for a fight between her and some other person and that she was made to pay a LE400 fine. However after realizing that there was public anger AND a videotape, the ministry announced it will ‘re-examine the video.’
- Contempt of religion: Four Coptic children and their teacher were arrested and charged with contempt of religion after performing a 3-min play on a field trip that mocked terrorist organization ISIL. Their case is pending in court. The children are originally from Menya and they are: Mueller Atef Edward, Bassem Amgad Hanna, Albert Ashraf Hanna, and Clinton Magdi Youssef. The teacher, Gad Youssef, was already convicted and received a 3-year sentence. The children have not been released and are detained pending the case. [More on this story in Arabic].
- The minister of transportation’s statement: MOT stated that broken roads force cars to slow down and therefore reduce the number of accidents. رئيس هيئة الطرق: الطرق المكسرة تجبر السائق على خفض سرعته فتقل الحوادث
- Minister of Justice statement: MOJ Al Zend stated on TV that for every police/army ‘martyr’ he wants 10,000 Ikhwan heads. [This should have been enough to remove him from his post, but he remains in it untouched].
- Al Zend sued almost eveyrone who mentioned his name: journalists, media personalities etc. He sued them for spreading false information especially regarding some land he had alleged given to family members. It should be mentioned that Al Ahram newspaper in 2014, said that it had documentation to prove his corruption.
- TV host Tamer Ameen stated: ‘every honorable person should be an informant for state security.’
تامر أمين: كل شريف عليه أن يكون «مخبرًا» لـ«أمن الدولة»
Joke: “the fish has been transferred to intensive care after fainting.
- AND THE JOKE OF THE WEEK: After finding dead fish floating in a Abu Diad Lake in Itay al Barood city, Beheira, officials took samples and stated that the fish were not dead but rather had fainted. [Naturally this evoked a twitter blast of jokes – where some said that the fish were probably pregnant and therefore fainted].
أسماك ترعة “أبودياب” في البحيرة تصاب بغيبوبة
Two news items that I forgot to mention in previous posts:
Surgeon Ahmed Said
1- Egyptian-German surgeon Ahmed Said returned to Cairo for a short visit and participated in a stand on the 6 October Bridge to commemorate the anniversary of the Mostafa Mahmoud incident. He was arrested and charged with ‘disrupting the state’s security’ and sentenced to two years in prison.
General Hawatmi, governor of Suez
2- General Al Hawatmi, governor of Suez, stated that if Jews attacked Egypt with a rocket, it will return to them because of the wind which is geographically in favor of Egypt.” After media attacks he denied he said that [even though it is on video] and stated that he meant nuclear weapons. (?)