October 23, 2014

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  • Egypt: The Sonata of the Departed

    Screen grab shows the flag-wrapped caskets of 25 policemen killed execution-style in Sinai on August 19.

    BY NAEL M. SHAMA Cairo – The military funeral of 25 policemen who were massacred in cold blood in Sinai last month was intensely touching. The slow, dignified procession, the sad funeral dirge, the anguish of the mothers of the fallen and the tears of mourners exuded an overwhelming sense of grief. Funerals are always poignant and gloomy. They remind us of the brevity of life, the inevitability of death and the fragility of our souls. Some funerals also help us capture the immense capacity of the living to inflict injustice and death. Men are all equal in death, differences…

    Op:ed: In Egypt, Only the Dead Know Who is Right

    Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim (center) at the funeral of police officers on Aug. 15. Police has been instructed to use live ammunition to protect state buildings. Hundreds of protesters and tens of police have been killed since then.

    BY DEENA DOUARA Cairo – I think, perhaps, amid all the emotion, one can make a calculated decision on where to stand on the violence in Egypt. I understand both arguments. Security forces are massacring mostly peaceful demonstrators with impunity, ushering in the type of force we sought to overthrow in 2011, the type of brutality we despised for years, that made martyrs of young faces now rendered across Tahrir Square. Or, Morsi supporters are being dealt with after firing first, attacking police stations and churches, threatening to “burn” Egypt. They are terrorists seeking to rip apart — both literally…

    In Pictures: Protesters at Higher Judicial Council

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    CAIRO – One day following the publication of a front-page report by Egypt’s leading state-owned newspaper Al Ahram claiming that President Morsi was ordered remanded in custody for 15 days by the Prosecutor General, his supporters staged a massive protest in front of the Higher Judicial Council. Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically-elected civilian president, was removed by military coup and has been held incommunicado at an undisclosed location since July 3. The news has since been denied, but Morsi’s whereabouts are yet to be revealed. In a press conference on Monday, Morsi’s family accused the army of abducting their father and…

    Op-ed: A bitter reconciliation

    Clashes in Cairo between pro and anti-Morsi protesters were violently crushed by police leaving seven dead and over 240 injured late Monday.

    BY REHAM BARAKAT Cairo – As I write this article on a tepid Ramadan night in Cairo, I cannot help but feel that Ramadan this year does not emanate any sense of peace and tranquility. I say this as I follow news of clashes in Cairo between pro-Morsi supporters, police and exasperated members of the local community where it has been reported that last night 7 people were killed, over 200 injured and more than 400 arrested. I can already hear the voices of those who were against the June 30 protests that led to the removal of Morsi, yelling…

    Op-ed: Bleeding democracy

    Droves of protesters in Tahrir Square and around the Presidential Palace in Cairo have challenged the literal definition of democracy by calling for the removal of Egypt's first "democratically" elected President Morsi.

    BY REHAM BARAKAT Cairo – My morning today was spent looking up the official definition of the word democracy, not because I don’t know what it means, but I wanted to be sure that I was working with the official version of it. Naturally because there is more than one dictionary, I couldn’t find one unified definition of this much reiterated, almost sacred word. Nonetheless, the gist of what I found is that democracy is the “government of the people” and “rule by the majority” through “elections” or “elected representatives.” The reason why I was so eager to search for…

    Op-ed: How Egypt conviction has changed my life

    Screen grab shows an Egyptian court on June 4 after announcing the conviction of 43 civil society organizations and 16 US employees in absentia of foreign funds.

    BY NATASHA TYNES Washington, DC – It’s not easy being a convicted felon. The fact that if I ever step foot in Egypt, or visit any of the countries with which it has extradition treaties (a long list by the way), I might be shoved in prison for five years is daunting, to say the least. What was my crime? Teaching Egyptian journalists and citizen journalists how to use social media as part of my job as a program director for the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), a non-profit organisation (NGO) that focuses on media development around the world. Most of…

    Ethiopia dam fears exaggerated, say experts

    In a strongly-worded message to Addis Ababa President Morsi said that "all options are on the table" to protect Egypt's water supply.

    BY LEYLA DOSS Cairo – In a fiery speech Monday night by Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi capping  weeks of tension between Egypt and Ethiopia over the latter’s Renaissance Dam mega project, Morsi said that all options were open, implying that a military solution was on the table to defend Egypt’s water supply. While Morsi stopped short of waging war, he sent a clear message to Egypt’s “neighbors” and to Ethiopia that Egyptians were ready to safeguard the country’s water security “with their blood”. Oscillating between dove and hawk, Morsi’s grandstanding was criticized as a tactic to thwart protests aiming to…

    The Egypt-Israel peace test

    File photo of the Egypt-Israel border.

    BY ITAMAR RABINOVICH and TAMARA WITTES  Washington, DC – The rocket strikes that a militant Islamist group recently fired from the Egyptian Sinai into the Israeli city of Eilat served as yet another reminder of how delicate bilateral relations remain two years after Egypt’s revolution. Terrorist activity could easily cause a crisis on the border, with the potential to trigger an unwanted confrontation that would threaten the peace treaty that normalized bilateral relations in 1979. To avoid such an outcome, Israel and Egypt must take convincing action now to uphold the treaty. Last November, when hostilities erupted in Gaza, Egyptian…

    Egypt’s Salafyo Costa bring Christians, Muslims together

    Salafyo Costa, which includes both Muslims and Christians challenge stereotypes.

    BY SOPHIE ANMUTH and MARWA NASSER Cairo Clashes in Egypt between Muslims and Copts earlier this month have sparked fears of further sectarian violence for the Egyptian Copt minority, which makes up approximately 10 percent of Egypt’s population of 90 million. As a foreigner and a native Egyptian living in Cairo, we have both heard first-hand the stereotypes about faith relations in Egypt. For example, the one of us who grew up here remembers being five, in a middle-class neighbourhood in Cairo, and overhearing two schoolmates whispering and pointing at another girl: “She’s Christian”. They probably didn’t even understand what…

    The decline of knowledge in Egypt

    A Cairo Bookstore by Jennifer Allen.

    BY NAEL M. SHAMA Cairo Scant budgets, fanaticism, encroachments on freedom of expression and a growing isolationist, inward-looking attitude to the world have undermined the quality and reach of Egypt’s cultural production. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. The real misfortune is that knowledge in Egypt has been deformed and  commodified. Like a Pepsi can or a bag of chips, products with fine packaging and generous marketing campaigns win the race, leaving little room to any real transmission of knowledge. From a historical perspective, the “commodification of culture” is certainly not a new phenomenon, but lately it has…

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