more virginity tests, inventions, and being ‘ahead’ at G20 Summit – week in review

The Economy:

  • VAT law has been approved by parliament. People holding their breaths and expecting price increases in everything.
  • Donkeys are being slaughtered for their meat and sold for cheap prices.
  • Women waiting in line to get subsidized baby formula have been subjected to breast exams to ensure they don’t have breast milk. breastexamsThe ministry of health stated that there are moving trucks with nurses and physicians placed near sale points, to check the women without embarrassing them. Parliamentarian Mostafa Ragheb Abu Zaid approved the procedure and stated that this was a necessary step to ensure milk goes to those who deserve it and present fraudsters from acquiring it!! Another parliamentarian, also member of the health committee in parliament, said this is a ‘natural, routine thing.’ Later in the week after an uproar, the ministry stated this was not true and that women were not being checked. Umm.. no?
  • Vice President of the Division of Home Appliances: 150% rise in commodity prices due to import restriction
newgovernor

Old newspaper article about the corruption case

Government:

  • There were 5 governor changes and at least one minister changed. The minister is the minister of supplies who was dismissed for alleged ‘corruption’ and was replaced with retired army general Ahmed Al Sheikh after the ‘approval’ of parliament. One of those appointed governors is Atef Abdel Hamid, the former minister of transportation who reconciled with the government in a corruption case paying back 4 million pounds. He has been appointed as governor of Cairo. The pro-government newspapers denied the allegations and stated that the governor had never paid anything and was actually blackmailed into accepting responsibility. In addition, the governor of Fayyoum was involved in a fraud case where he claimed to give US school certificates but was in fact a mere local certificate that said they took courses ‘similar to shoe taken in the US at that university’!!
  • mobadra

    ‘innocent’ initiative

    Some Egyptians created an ‘initiative’ demanding army take over the ministries of health, education and supplies.

Parliament:

  • Member Agina of the FGM and impotence statement has been transferred to investigation by parliament for insulting Egyptian men.
  • Parliamentarian Haytham Al Hariri stated vehemently denied telling the media – as was reported – that he thanked the Saudis for their loan and that the islands were Saudi.
  • Parliamentarian Mahmoud Shehata accused Haytham Al Hariri of being ‘anti-Egyptian’ and a traitor for not acknowledging that the islands were Saudi. He stated that what he said was ‘very dangerous’ and out of context. Parliamentarian Mohamed Badawi also agreed with Shehata and added that it was against parliament’s by-laws to make such statements!!
  • Parliament’s first session ended, during which they approved 424 laws in 289 hours.
  • Parliamentarian Khaled Abdel Azim attacked the Minister of Education’s plan to ‘send the Egyptian education experience’ to Africa. Azim asked: “Do you want to transfer our failures to Africa?”
  • Parliamentarian Margaret Azer, member of the human rights committee, stated that their priority is the funding of human rights organizations once the law for NGOs is passed. She had previously attacked NGOs and human rights in general.

Human rights/detentions

  • The Atfal al Shawari band [Street-children band] has been released from prison with conditions.

    The Coptic teenagers in Switzerland

    The Coptic teenagers in Turkey then on to Switzerland

  • The four Coptic teens who had received 5 year jail sentences have fled to Switzerland. there were media attacks against them and Tv personality Al Ghaiti accused them of being ‘traitors and without honor,” and said that someone has incited them to harm flee to harm Egypt’s image and claim persecution. The children’s lawyer said no travel ban had been issued for the teenagers and that their departure was legal. The children had disappeared in Egypt for 6 months and were issued visas to Turkey and from there they are heading for asylum in Switzerland. [For more on the story of how they escaped read here in Arabic]
  • Justice Geneina was at court to appeal his sentence regarding ‘spreading false information.’ The case was postponed. It should be mentioned that he was sentenced to 1 year in prison and a 20 thousand pound fine.
  • Ministry of Social Cooperation is cracking down even more on civil society NGOs. It has addressed an NGO stating that they need 45 days to get permission to organize any event. Although this was in individual order, human rights organizations are concerned that this will be mandated in the law for NGOs currently being drafted. The National Human Rights Council addressed the ministry, rejecting the order.
  • The draft of the new law on NGOs has been referred to parliament for their ‘approval’ – which of course they will approve. Copy of the draft law has been published.
  • Syndicate president

    Syndicate president

    Egyptian prosecutor acknowledged in a statement that the 5 alleged ‘gang members’ who had been killed and evidence planted in their homes regarding the Italian student Regeni case, are not guilty. Professor of Law Nour Farahat said the family should sue whoever killed their family members and reveal who planted the evidence. The prosecutor general also wrote in his report to the Italians that the president of the street vendors’ syndicate had reported Regeni to the police but the man vehemently denied it and added that they had to make peace with the police so they would leave them alone.

Corruption:

Army:

  • According to locals, the army has launched a large operation in Sheikh Zweid involving the air force. Intense airstrikes by F-16 reported in several areas south Sheikh Zweid and Rafah, and in center of at Al Kharm Mount.
  • Statistics: There are 18 army generals and 9 civilians working as governors. 197 current and former army generals are members of the parliament.

Education:

Ideal Teacher on the left

Ideal Teacher on the left

Media:

  • Train derailed killing 22. Immediately the media wrote that it was due to speed, blaming the driver. Parliamentarian Gamal Okbi even said that those drivers need to be tested for drugs. Soon thereafter it was revealed that it was due to signal confusion which led the driver to be on a different track of oncoming trains. When he pulled the breaks, three cars derailed.
  • Al Youm Al Sabeaa newspaper showed a still picture of Obama approaching Sisi after a photo-shoot at the G20 Summit. The actual video shows Obama bypassing him completely and ignoring him [probably unintentionally].

  • Ahead?

    Ahead?

    Egyptian television also showed Sisi at the summit with a title at the bottom that said: “Sisi is walking ahead of the presidents.” The image though shows him all the way in the back.

  • TV host Mosalmani had part of his program dedicated to the crop circles, especially one where a British farmer found a Nazi crop circle in his field. Mosalmani stated that the Nazi sign was created by aliens.

Inventions:

  • The Aviation Ministry confirmed the success of their experiment operating a jet engine with castor oil.

    helicopter

    A helicopter?

  • Former parliament member Abdo Khalil from Shebeen says he invented a helicopter that will fly within a few days. This is the image of the helicopter!!

 

Religion:

  • Church lawyer Gabrail filed a law suit for contempt of religion against Salafi Abdel Monim Al Shahat for saying on TV that “Christianity is a distorted religion and no Muslim should participate in the building of a church.”
  • bayannyA joint statement by the Church in Egypt and the Coptic churches in New York and New England urged Copts to go greet Sisi when he arrives at the UN on September 24th, to show him support!! This divided the Copts between those who supported the Church’s statement and those who rejected it and rejected the Church’s interference in politics.
  • Coptic lawyer Ramsis Al Naggar wants girls to have virginity tests before church issues marriage permits. He stated on TV that he represented the Church, and added that the Church had put this condition in the marriage law for Copts. The Church vehemently denied that he spoke in its name and denied his statement.
  • Beautiful graffiti is always drawn on the outside of homes in poorer areas in Egypt and in Upper Egypt, on the occasion of someone’s departure to, and return from, the hajj.

Sports – Rio Paralympics paralympics_rio2016___final 2016 :

  • weightliftingEgypt wins its first gold medal in the Paralympics: Sherif Osman wins gold in weightlifting 59kilos for men.
  • Mohamed El Deeb won second gold medal in weightlifting.
  • Rihab Ahmed won the silver medal in weightlifting, 50kgs.
  • Fatma Omar won silver medal in weightlifting under 61kigs.
  • Randa Taj Eddin won gold in weightlifting, 86kgs.
  • Amani Ali Desoki won bronze medal in weightlifting, 73kgs.
  • Amal Mahmoud won bronze medal in weightlifting, 67kgs.
  • tabletennisFayza Mohamed loses to Argentinian Gizelle in table tennis.

 

Quotes:

  • “I love the law for the construction of churches. I don’t understand why there are objections to it. When a Muslim wants to pray he takes a corner and prays. If you want to pray, you can do so anywhere.”
    Parliamentarian Jalila Osman on Copts.
  • “They are ‘traitors and without honor. If they were hanged in their own country it would be more honorable for them.”
    – Tv personality Al Ghaiti  on the Coptic children who fled to Switzerland.
  • أضاحى المصريين منظرة والتبرع بيها لـ”تحيا مصر” أفضل
    Parliamentarian Elhamy Agina.

  • “It is not shameful nor wrong.”
    لا عيب ولا غلط
    Parliamentarian Mostafa Ragheb Abu Zaid on women being subjected to breast exams to receive subsidized milk.
  • “It is a normal routine thing.”
    فحص أثداء الأمهات لصرف لبن الأطفال إجراء روتينى عادى”
    Parliamentarian Khaled Hilali on women subjected to breast exams.
  • “Egypt is an important station for African migrants. Families who send their sons in boats to Europe are not suffering from poverty.”
    رئيس «مكافحة الهجرة غير الشرعية»: مصر محطة مهمة للمهاجرين الأفارقة والأُسر التى ترسل أبناءها فى زوارق إلى أوروبا.. لا تعانى من فقر مدقع
    Naela Gabr, president of combating illegal immigration in Egypt.
  • “All those attacking the army should be deported out of Egypt and should go and find another country to live in. Those who attack army are trying to defame it and its many accomplishments.”
    طالب بترحيل كل من يهاجم القوات المسلحة ومؤسسات الدولة خارج مصر ويبحث عن دولة آخرى يعيش بها، موضحًا أن من يهاجم الجيش يسعى لتشويه إنجازاته المتعددة.
    – ‘Strategic expert’ Mahmoud Mansour on TV regarding Egyptians who criticize the army.
  • “Arrest of a gang which fabricates pictures of poverty in Egypt.”
    التفاصيل الكاملة لسقوط خلية “فبركة” مشاهد الفقر في مصر
    Headline in Al Bawaba newspaper.
  • “A woman is the basis of adultery, not the man. She has worked in prostitution long before being a lawyer or a physician.”
    الست أساس مشكلة الزنا
    Parliamentarian Elhami Ageena rejecting calls for equating men and women in criminal law.

Tweeps:

Notable mentions:

Sisi as Christ the Savior

Sisi as Christ the Savior

polls, milk and badr, impotent men and ‘masculinity’ – three weeks in review

President Sisi gave several speeches over the past three weeks, one of them  to the governmental press editos. He stated that the new administrative capital he is planning to build and all the other new cities are going to transform the desert to real value where land prices will rise from nothing to 1000 pounds minimum. He also told the press editors that the price of land totals 200 trillion and constitute an addition to the state’s assets.

According to architects and other experts

It’s a project without an economic base, very far from Cairo, impossible to move all of the businesses and ministries there, it will cost the entire GDP of Egypt for seven years, assuming it gets fully built. In addition it would be the 21st new city that Egypt built since 1976. Not a single one of them succeeded because all of them were built with the same irrational approach to planning.”

And another expert:

Even the earlier master plan developed by WATG which I assume was subject to proper site analysis was put aside. The one they r using now as a base for (concrete pouring) was developed by a third rate local office under the directions and control of same military personnel. Of course the lack of economic feasibility makes the whole idea no more than a very expensive piece of cheap propaganda.”

Regardless of expert opinion, the cost will be exorbitant. We should hope for the best – and that it does not become a pointless mega project.

conditionsPerhaps Sisi’s most significant statement was made to journalist Yasser Rizk claiming that he’ll only run for a second term (in 2018) under certain conditions without naming those conditions. This obviously led to the spread of twitter hashtags that basically said ‘we want you and only you in 2018’. However the support was clearly not as many as it was a few months ago.  Sisi also said that he rules “without any political backing” – which, while true, is not really an advantage. Had he had political backing he might have paid attention to the street and might have taken advice from people. Continue reading

water under the bridge and the arts of destruction

In a previous post I wrote about Crimes and misdemeanors of bad taste . While this tackiness continues to spread throughout Egypt, even though we have great sculptors and known artists, the real problem is when the matter comes to restoration of ancient monuments or of modern structures. Because these jobs are usually given to non-artists and non-professionals, they are usually botched and amateurish. Egypt has indeed permitted foreign conservators to take on projects and so far they have done great work.

old newspaper clipping announcing inauguration of the statues

old newspaper clipping announcing inauguration of the statues

The most recent serious botched attempts at renovation and restoration however was regarding the famous Kasr Al Nil Bridge [literally the Palace on the Nile] with its iconic Parisian-style lions at the entrance of both sides of the bridge. The bridge is the first bridge to be built crossing the Nile, and was built in 1869 as the brainchild of Khedive Ismail of Egypt who was later given a bridge mock-up made of pure gold by the company that built it. The name was based on the fact that it was built on the banks of the Nile near Mohammed Ali Pasha’s daughter’s palace [later demolished and replaced with military barracks of the British army and later yet again replaced with the Nile Hilton]. 

Crossing the bridge was not free when it was first created. Immediately after the completion of construction, the Khedive issued a decree to set up a roadblock on the entrances of the bridge for pedestrians to pay tolls whose details were published in the Egyptian Gazette on February 1872. Continue reading

copts and the law for the construction of churches

The problems and controversies surrounding the proposed  law for the construction of churches have escalated. As mentioned in a previous post, the law consisted of 8 articles some of which were contested by many Coptic leaders. On August 18th, the Orthodox Church suddenly issued a vague statement saying that the law that was circulated had been changed and that it was not what they had agreed to during negotiations with the government. The statement also warned that the law as such would harm national unity – without further clarification. In attempts at putting pressure on the Church, Al Youm Al Sabeaa, the security-oriented newspaper, stated that the Church was ‘choosing to clash with the government.’ Continue reading

egypt at rio 2016: the games, the controversies, the players

It is indeed delightful that Egypt has won 3 bronze medals – two females and one male athlete in Taekwondo and weightlifting.  While this may be seen as a non-accomplishment when compared to the big winners, it really is an accomplishment for Egypt. What one should take into consideration is that Egypt has been in turmoil since 2011. In addition, it does not have the typical professional athletes who are trained and groomed by their countries. Both Egypt and Tunisia won 3 medals each.

As the Olympic flame reached Tokyo today, August 25, 2016 – home of the 2020 games, it is time to reflect on Rio, the Egyptian controversies and the players.   Continue reading