April 19, 2014

Myth vs. reality in pro-Morsi sit-in

File photo of protesters at Rabaa Square.

BY AMRO HASSAN Cairo – The rumors and fabrications targeting tens of thousands of supporters of President Mohamed Morsi, who was removed from office on July 3 by a military coup, have reached new heights of malicious creativity. Unlike in 2011, when some pro-Mubarak Egyptians went to Tahrir Square to take a closer look at what the January 25 protests were all about, few of the anti-Morsi camp have even considered approaching the Rabaa El Adaweya sit-in. Ever since the military takeover, Egyptian state and independent media networks and channels have mostly abandoned the sit-in, assuming perhaps that one day…

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The real Hassan Shehata, Egypt’s slain Shia Sheikh

Screen grab from amateur video shows men dragging the body of one of four killed during a mob attack on a Shia gathering in Abu Nomros, Abu Musallam village in Giza.

BY AMRO HASSAN Cairo – “He was a swindler who regularly held superstitious ceremonies. I don’t know who exactly attacked and killed him, but God bless whoever dispensed us of [Hassan] Shehata,” Amina Saad, a resident of the Giza village of Abu Musallam describes the dramatic killing of Shia leader Hassan Shehata, his brother and two fellow Shia at the hands of an angry mob earlier this week. Fathi Sallam, a shop owner in the area, said that he frequently came to their area and that they often heard that he sponsored group and swinger sex gatherings attended by Shia…

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State of Arab women lamented at Women Deliver 2013

Women Deliver 2013 in Kuala Lumpur brought together 4,000 women from all over the world. (Photo courtesy Women Deliver Conference)

BY SAFAA ABDOUN Cairo – At a high-powered gathering of thousands of women in Kuala Lumpur, Shereen El Feki, writer, broadcaster, academic and expert on social change in the Arab world lambasted how marriage in the region has become an exercise in “conspicuous consumption.” Author of “Sex and the Citadel”, El Feki said that sexual and reproductive health in the region was in “an abysmal state of ignorance”. If you don’t get married, she said, you enter the realm of suspended adolescence, “no sex, most certainly no children and can’t move out from your parent’s house, especially if you’re a…

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Environmentalists protest against GM seeds multinational

Anti-GM seeds activists led by Bezoor Balady campaign and supported by Greenpeace, protested against Monsanto,  a multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation which produces genetically-modified seeds. (Photo by Leyla Doss)

BY LEYLA DOSS Cairo – Dozens of Egyptians protested in Cairo and Alexandria on Saturday, in solidarity with a Global March in 436 cities worldwide, against Monsanto, a multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation which produces genetically-modified seeds. The march comes on the heels of an advocacy stunt organised by the Bezoor Balady Campaign days before in front of the Ministry of Agriculture, and supported by environmental NGOs Nawaya, Greenpeace, Nabta and Nature Conservation Egypt (NCE). Bezoor Balady promotes sustainable and organic farming using local seeds and crops. In previous action, the group fired local “seed bombs” in an urban initiative to…

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Maids and marginality in Cairo: Why legal reform isn’t enough

Widespread poverty in Egypt has driven many women into domestic service, where income can be significantly higher than other available low-threshold ‘female’ jobs.

BY RAHMA BAVELAAR Cairo – On a summer morning in 2012 at 6am, Nadya pulls a black abaya over her colorful housedress, wistfully pins her rectangular headscarf under her chin, locks the door behind her two young daughters and steps into the oncoming heat. On a good day, it takes her two hours to get from the narrow unpaved alley in the densely populated working class neighborhood of al-Marg, to the landscaped compound in the wealthy new desert suburb of Shaykh Zayd, where she works as a maid. This summer, frequent power outages on the underground metro network, numerous strikes…

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Revolutionary agriculture: permaculture design gains ground in Egypt

The revolutionary farming methods of permaculture design emphasize sustainability, community and respect for the environment. (Photo by Leyla Doss)

BY LEYLA DOSS Cairo – Almost a year ago, Abdel-Khalek Betiti (Abbouda), owner of Fekra Center in Aswan, realized that the family farm of his childhood, overlooking the beautiful Philae Island along the banks of the Nile River, had reached a standstill. His land was overused, economically unsustainable and arid. This is where Nawaya, a local agricultural non-profit organisation, comes in. Last month the NGO gave a weeklong introductory course on a concept new to Egypt, permaculture design, to provide farmers with the tools to combat the very issues that many like Abbouda face. Permaculture, short for ‘permanent agriculture’,  is…

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Campus politics: Has the chaos moved in?

File photo of a protest by Ain Shams University students against on-campus thuggery.

BY MAI SHAMS EL-DIN Cairo The practical advice from the vice president of student affairs at Ain Shams University wasn’t exactly what young Omnia Hassan expected when she complained that she was attacked  on campus by a group of “thugs”. “He suggested I carry a knife to protect myself because, according to him, even the president of the university can’t protect himself,” said Hassan, a junior at the Faculty of Arts. Ain Shams University students have been complaining from what they call “thugs” on campus. Theories abound about who they are, but it is widely believed that they are predominantly…

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Egypt’s Syrian refugees live on the edge

In a three-day event organized by the UNHCR in collaboration with the Egyptian Women's Association and the Administration of the Islamic Compound of Sheikh Zayed, about 1,000 people registered for the refugees' yellow card

BY NADA MOSELHY Cairo Wessam El-Sonbolly, a Syrian mother of four and a grandmother, sat impatiently in the big hall in the Islamic Compound of 6th of October City waiting for her name to be called out. She was there to issue a “yellow card” to legalize her stay in Egypt and put an end to the haunting  fear of deportation that has gripped her for the past two months. Almost 18 months into the Syrian revolution, El-Sonbolly, like many Syrians who fled their homeland to escape President Bashar El-Assad’s brutal military crackdown on dissent, seeking asylum in neighboring countries…

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Maria TV: Exclusive for niqab

Screen grab from BBC show on Maria TV where the niqab is mandatory on and off camera.

BY HEBA HESHAM Cairo: A new TV channel run exclusively by women wearing the face veil provoked a mix of astonishment and denigration as it started broadcasting this Ramadan.”The founder and head of the channel had this idea for a long time in order to end the persecution and discrimination against wearers of niqab,” said Heba Serag El-Din, the program’s director who wore a loose, dark burgundy dress and a black scarf that covered her face except for the eyes. Serag El-Din, who studied directing at one of Egypt’s prestigious universities, was denied a job at a renowned Islamic satellite…

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Knocking on the president’s door

One of the presidential palaces in Heliopolis.

BY HEBA HESHAM Cairo: Once recognized as the place where the president receives foreign and official delegations, Egypt’s luxurious presidential palaces are now the public’s complaints offices, a place where Egyptians submit their personal requests. But many say this service is doing little to address their grievances. Shortly after he took office, President Mohamed Morsi ordered the establishment of the so-called Grievances Office, with branches in Al-Arouba and Abdeen’s palaces, to receive the complaints of citizens and work on swiftly finding solutions. This came after a number of protests and sit-ins were organized in front of the palaces, once highly restricted…

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