Jan 22-June 22

GERD begins its third filling this July. This will impact Egypt’s Nile water. The Minister of Irrigation stated that Egypt is approaching the stage of water scarcity.

Human Rights:

Clearly, international pressure is working to a certain extent. In 2021, President Sisi created what he called a ‘national human rights strategy – 2021-2026‘. For quite a long time, Sisi had insisted that human rights in the Egyptian context was different from human rights as understood by the West. In his strategy, he lists his accomplishments and claims that the strategy was created after ‘dialogue’ with stakeholders.

In 2022, amidst great fanfare, Sisi began releasing prisoners and invited civil society to participate in what he called ‘the national dialogue’. It should be noted that the prisoners who were released were the not the ones already sentenced, but rather those who were in perpetual states of ‘temporary’ detention. This means that they should not have been in prison in the first place!

Among those released were journalist Khaled Daoud, Patrick Zaki, Israa Abdel Fattah and her husband, as well as others. When Sisi called for a national dialogue, Khaled Daoud, amidst much criticism by many in the opposition, attended the dinner that Sisi invited him and others to. Only him and former presidential candidate Hamdein Sabbahi attended.

Several civil society organizations and individual stakeholders issued several statements regarding conditions before they agree to a dialogue. Among those conditions is the release of all political prisoners.

Meanwhile, while Sisi purported to want a dialogue, and during and after the dinner he had to which he invited civil society, his regime arrested more people:

1- Zorafaa Al Ghalaba (ظرفاء الغلابة), a simple band that became famous on Tik-Tok for poking fun at current high prices, were arrested and accused of ‘spreading false information’ – through their songs of course. They were released a month later on bail.

2- Two others were arrested: journalist Safaa Al Korbeigi was arrested for publishing videos that criticized the regime, and TV anchor Hala Fahmi also for criticizing the regime.

3- Donia Samir, a divorced mother of three and a tour leader, claimed that the governor of Southern Sinai was harassing her. She made several videos explaining the situation and calling for help. She was arrested for joining a ‘terrorist group and spreading false information’. ِ Another woman called Sherine Shawki made a video begging the president for protection because some officer in state security whom she names as Mohamed Al Shazli, sent her harassing messages and images. She too was arrested on the same charges.

4- Liberal economist and critic of the government, Ayman Hadhoud, was researching corruption before he disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Police said they had transferred him to a mental institution which, in turn, said that his heart just stopped. His family said they saw signs of beatings and torture on Ayman’s body, but the public prosecutor closed the case and said he died of heart failure. “Photographs of his brother’s body, taken in the morgue of the psychiatric hospital where he died and obtained by The New York Times, showed injuries to his upper body, including what forensic experts said was possibly blunt force trauma, as well as burns on his face and head. Omar Hadhoud said his brother’s skull appeared to be fractured.”

5- Alaa Abdel Fattah has been in and barely out of prison over the past ten years. Today, July 3rd, marks the 92nd day of his hunger strike. He had begun his hunger strike in Al Aqrab prison where he was held in solitary confinement for several years, denied access to books, pen, paper, even denied going to the yard for exercise. He was also denied a mattress and covers as well as clothes that his family tried to send to him. His family put enormous pressure on the regime and the regime finally decided to move him from Al Aqrab prison to a more ‘humane prison’. There he is with two others in his cell and has a mattress and access to pen and paper. However his hunger strike, continues to this day demanding justice and release. Although he acquired British citizenship through his mother, he was denied access to the British consulate which made several demands to see him. The regime has consistently stated that he was not on hunger strike, and the national council for human rights claimed that he was in good condition – even though they were not permitted to see him nor visit him. Alaa’s sister, Mona and Sanaa Seif went to London to demand that the British government save Alaa and put pressure on the Egyptian regime for his release. Mona eventually decided to join Alaa in his hunger strike, and she is on day 20 today.

On Father’s Day, US and British actors created a video reading from Alaa’s book ‘You have not been defeated’ about meeting his son for the first time.

Education

The Communications School, Cairo University, is investigating a masquerade costume party that took place at the school because the students wore ‘inappropriate clothes’.

Crime

Crime 1: The Minister’s Son

The first crime is that of the son of the Minister of Immigration, Nabila Makram. Her son, Ramy Fahim, was captured in LA after murdering two people, one of whom was a colleague at work. One month after the story broke in the US, it began circulating on social media, after which the Egyptian media began writing about it. For the most part, the Egyptian media and many Egyptians were sympathetic towards the Minister, and the media even showed her in prayer like a saint. She even received a standing ovation when she attended a public event. Some Egyptian Copts, in particular, stated that we should not write about it because she is Coptic and we ‘don’t know the facts’. Obviously, the Egyptian Embassy has been involved in the case from the beginning. The case was set for June 17th in court but was postponed.

Ramy’s tweets were circulated on social media, and they revealed a rather intelligent but deeply trouble young man. Some people claimed that he was gay and that the reason for the murder was a lover’s quarrel.

Interestingly, a case of corruption was uncovered, where the Minister used her influence to get her son, who is a non-American citizen, to work at the company of a woman called Laila Pence who owned a financial company. In return, Pence was ‘honored’ by Sisi as one of the successful women abroad.

Crime 2: Nayera

Nayera is a student at Mansoura University. In broad daylight, a young man she knew and whom she had rejected, fatally stabbed her by the university’s gate, and slashed her throat. One newspaper wrote a nasty article claiming that there were no exams as initially mentioned, and so why was she there? Social media picked up on that and began attacks against Nayera’s reputation and her family’s. The case went to court and within a week the young man, also a student, was sentenced to death. Arguments on social media were around whether she was dressed or not dressed appropriately and provocatively. A social media campaign began to collect 5 million pounds to pay to the family ‘in return for his life” and the family rejected the idea completely.

Social media also began a discussion not only of her clothes, but also of whether a woman could be called a martyr in the first place or not!!

To add to the mess, Mabrook Ateya, who works as head of a department in Al Azhar and is a public figure who brings his ‘moderate’ and humorous fatwas to television, commented on Nayera’s case by saying that ‘any girl who does not want to be killed should leave home like a basket’ – ie. all covered without curves showing. This caused an outrage because it was an open invitation to murder all women who were uncovered. He announced he would retire, but within three days, he was back on TV retracting what he said and stating that this was not what he meant to say.

Crime 3: The Girl in the Balcony

A man was videotaped trying to throw his daughter out of the balcony and she was screaming as a family member pushes him away and holds on to the 12 year old child. The father tried repeatedly to pry the child’s hands from his arm and kept beating her as she hung screaming for life, but several friends or family were able to push him away and bring her back up. The video was circulated on social media and people were outraged. The man was immediately arrested, and following a brief interrogation was released. The prosecutor said that the father stated that the child, whose name is Mai, was upset that he yelled at her about housework and so she ran to the balcony to throw herself and that he saved her. When the child was interrogated, she als stated that it was she who jumped and that the father was trying to pull her back in. Naturally, this is not what was seen on the video. He is even heard screaming on the video ‘I will kill her, I will kill her’.

Crime 4: The TV anchor and the Judge

TV anchor Shaimaa Gamal was murdered by her husband, a judge in the administrative court and deputy head of the judges’ club. Apparently Ayman Haggag, the judge, married Shaimaa 7 years ago as a second wife. Initially it was stated that his first wife did not know of his second wife, but others deny that claim. It seems they had some kind of fight, and the judge lured her to his empty farm where a fight erupted between them, and, according to the driver who was the witness, the judge beat her on the head with his gun which killed her [others say he shot her], and then he disfigured her face with acid to hide her identity, then buried her in his farm. The driver feared the judge [others claim he had a fight over money with the judge] and he went to the police with the story. They went to the farm and uncovered the body but arrested the witness. The judge’s cousin works somewhere with the police and he alerted the judge that the driver was ratting him out, so the judge escaped to Dubai. The media said he was arrested in Suez before escaping to Dubai.

The story does not quite end there. The judge’s corruption was now wide open, where he allegedly enriched himself through his position and bought several apartments and farms and other assets.

Crime 5: The famous businessman and the little girls

Egyptian businessman, Mohamed Al-Amin, was arrested and sentenced to 3 years in prison for human trafficking. He played the role of the benefactor of an orphanage, then took the little children and had sex with them, enticing them with candy and with buying them clothes and even swimwear.

Thirteen eyewitnesses testified against him, together with the confessions of the victims, the examination of the defendant’s mobile phone, the Forensic Authority’s reports, the National Council of Childhood and Motherhood and the physiological and social research department at the Ministry of Social Solidarity were all involved in the case. The statement issued by the prosecutor-general’s office on the case said that the investigation concluded that the defendant hosted the victims in an orphanage he owned – Upper Egypt’s Safe Hands Home for Girls – for the purpose of sexual abuse.

In June, he was ‘feeling unwell’ and was taken to a hospital ‘under heavy guard’ for examination. Please note that none of the political prisoners who were seriously ill have been taken to a hospital for help.

Corruption

Another judge named Sami Mahmood Ali Abdel Rahim, was captured for widespread corruption.

Copts

I will have a separate post after this one regarding the Copts.

The Absurd

  • Some people began drinking from a certain sewage drain on the street claiming that it was ‘blessed and healed illnesses’ because it came from a nearby mosque. People lined up to fill bottles from it and wash their hands and faces in it. The police immediately closed the drain completely to prevent further ‘blessings.’ The place was originally ‘discovered’ by one woman called Om Khamis who claimed she had an illness and went to many doctors but only this water healed her.

More absurdity:

Arab and International

I realize it is rather late to write about the heartbreaking murder of Palestinian journalist Sherine Abu Akleh but at the very least I will post some pictures.

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