Early April [2-4, 2017], the Egyptian president visited the US and his visit included Egyptians standing on both sides of the street, waving flags and greeting him as his convoy passed in Washington DC. He was in the States to ask for the US president’s financial and military support for which he only received promises of cooperation. Social media made fun of some of the images that surfaced of his infamous meeting with the US president in which they spoke of collaboration against terrorism. One image in particular showed the US president sitting at his desk in the Oval Office with the Egyptian president standing by his side – contrary to all protocols where both presidents should either be seated or standing up. The US president himself tweeted the pictures.
The Coptic Church also, prior to the explosions of the two churches in Tanta and Alexandria, asked the Copts to mobilize and greet him. Even though it was not the Copts alone who went to greet him, many still accused the Church of being hypocritical.
- Parliamentarian Riad Abdel Sattar calls for adding a monthly fee of LE200 to anyone who wants to join Facebook. When he was attacked by others for his ludicrous suggestion, he withdrew it and claimed he did not say that.
- Parliamentarian Mostafa Bakri collecting other parliamentarians’ signatures to file a complaint against human rights lawyer Tarek Al Awady for ‘insulting parliament’ regarding the issue of Tiran and Sanafeer islands.
- After his NYT oped on how Sisi’ emergency law targets Egypt’s human rights defenderss, MP Mostafa Bakri calls goverment to apply emergency law on Bahei Eddin Hassan, head of Cairo Institute for Human Rights.
- Parliament is discussing the case of Dr. Mona Prince [please view the story at the bottom of this post]. They called her every name in the book!!
- A conscript died and 4 others were injured in a checkpoint near Saint Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai [April 18th]. the problem is that there were three different versions in the media about the issue. The first by the Minister of Health, is that it was a terrorist attack. The second by General Ahmed Tayel, chief of police of South Sinai, is that it was friendly fire when a conscript accidentally fired shots and completely denied there was a terrorist attack. The third is a complete denial that anything happened there at all. However shortly thereafter, the Ministry of Interior issued a statement saying that it was indeed a terrorist attack.
- Feminist Mozn Hassan received the Alernative Nobel award in Cairo despite her travel ban. She is founder of Nazra for Feminist Studies in Egypt. Mozn Hassan shared the 2016 Swedish prize, widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel’, with her organisation Nazra for Feminist Studies “for asserting the equality and rights of women in circumstances where they are subject to ongoing violence, abuse and discrimination”. The awarding team travelled to Egypt to give her her award.
- Lawyer Mohamed Ramadan: On 12 April 2017, immediately following the declaration of emergency law, the Alexandria Criminal Court sentenced Ramadan, in absentia to ten years in prison, followed by five years under house arrest and a five year ban on using the internet. The sentence came after the human rights defender was falsely accused of several charges, including inciting terrorist activity through social media. His activities include representing victims of torture and providing legal assistance to human rights defenders and political prisoners.
- Student Kareem Medhat died in prison hospital chained to his bed. His lawyer said that it was police and prison negligence that caused his death for refusing to transfer him to a hospital when he became ill, after which it was discovered he had a brain tumor. Kareem had been in prison in ‘temporary custody’ for the past two years, after being arrested at the age of 17. He was accused of carrying weapons and attempting to kill a police officer. He was also accused of having explosives and firearms, illegal gathering in demonstrations, use of force and the threatening violence. His family was banned from visiting him even after he was declared clinically dead, and he remained chained to his bed.
- Ahmed Abdel-Wahab Al-Khatib, 22, is a student at the Faculty of Biotechnology at Misr University for Science and Technology. Ahmed’s was arrested October 24, 2014 after a security officer searched through his mobile phone, and found a photograph of Ahmed in front of the Al-Fateh Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, taken during a study trip there. “Ahmed was promptly subjected to an illegal episode of forced disappearance that lasted a long while. Then, he was presented to the prosecutor, and later transferred to a prison, and then to notorious Tora’s interrogation dungeons. On March 26, 2016, Ahmed was unjustly sentenced to 10 years in prison, and then hauled away to harsh Wadi Al-Natrun Prison.” Ahmed’s health has deteriorated rapidly. He has been diagnosed with a serious, rare and fatal disease called “visceral leishmaniasis”, caused by insects in places where hygiene is ignored, such as prisons and places of detention in Egypt where Ahmed was held. He has recently written a very heartbreaking letter to his mother. [Original letter – Translated letter].
- Aya Hegazi and her husband Mohammed Hassanein have been acquitted after 3 years in ‘temporary custody.’ They had been wrongfully accused, together with members of their organization, of abusing street children. Mohamed Hassanein, Aya’s husband, said he will return to the streets to work with children again. It should be mentioned that Aya is an Egyptian American who had returned to Egypt to help street children.
Sudanese refugees assaulted
- Sudanese student Loius Agok posted images on Facebook that show the results of an assault against him and 3 others by some children with dogs who let them loose upon seeing them coming out of a cafe in Maadi. He stated that no by-standers intervened. He also said “Thank you Egypt for hosting, thank you because our community in Egypt is subjected to incidents and provocations from the Egyptians and we do not move because we are guests in your homes.”
- A 19 yr old woman wearing jeans was walking in front of the Cafe Che Jivara in Zagazig when she was harassed and assaulted. Once she fell to the ground, people assaulted her until the cafe owner and some young men dragged her into the cafe for protection. Police was called and they managed to take her out of the cafe. Police chief of Sharqiya said the girl was wearing ‘a very short dress’. The girl was actually walking with a friend after a wedding when she was harrassed.
- Dr. Mona Prince, professor of English at Suez University and author of the book Revolution is my Name posted a video of herself on her own Facebook page, in which she was wearing a gellabeya and belly dancing. The university president transferred her to investigation considering this to be lewd behavior unbecoming a professor at the university. Naturallly this sparked controvery and the matter was even taken up by parliament. In defiance, she posted another video of herself dancing again, and she wrote “dance and be happy.” She said she had no regrets about posting the first video and that she would continue to dance as long as she had health and life. She also said “we are living in a messed up country and all we have left is dancing. Leave us alone.”
Chairman of the Liberties Committee and Deputy of the Bar Association in Suez filed a complaint against Dr. Prince, claiming she was in contempt of religion! The Ministry of Higher Education said that the personal freedom of faculty members are protected by the Constitution and the law, but it is not at the expense of the norms and ethics of the university.
First video she posted:
Dr. Prince speaks to TV host Wael al Ibrashi defending her position:
- Wearing the hijab, controversial belly dancer Sama El Masry decided to have a ‘religious’ program during the month of Ramadan.
- A 30 million pound mosque was built in Sharm El Sheikh to much fanfare. It has been called an architectural marvel but not by many people who criticized its architecture and cost. Apparently the mosque has imams who are multi-lingual.
Tiran and Sanafeer:
- After President Sisi transferred the issue of the two islands to parliament in spite of a court decision that the islands were Egyptian, Saudis went on social media to make fun of Egyptians. This Saudi said that :Egypt is like a belly-dancer, if you give her money, she gives you everything.” Belly dancer in this case means ‘whore.’
Archaeology and Toursim
- Ramses II statue was unveiled at Luxor Temple in the presence of the Minister of Antiquities.
- New 3500 year old tomb discovered in Luxor on the Western side, contains “hundreds of mummies and statues.” It was pre-discovered tomb but had remained un-open.
- Tourist Robert Lepham and his wife were arrested and kept in custody for three days for suspicion of carrying a bomb after his box of Altoid, with a microphone mounted to it, beeped during a security check. His wife was taken back to the hotel but he was surrounded by officers and taken to in police custody. He was released three days later when it was proven that it was not a bomb and with the intervention of the ambassador.
Art, culture and entertainment:
- Egyptian artist Bahia Shehab becomes first Arab woman to win UN prize for culture.
- A really ugly clock was built in a square in Sharm El Sheikh.