Monday, October 07, 2013
Monday, July 29, 2013
|A design by ahrar movement against the military, the remnant of the old regime and the MB|
|What you think|
Thursday, May 09, 2013
| Tahrir square after midnight in front of our camp site two nights before Mubarak's resignation on Feb 2011|
I was studying for a Genomics research paper on a camera flashlight
I'm not only talking about the students who voluntarily choose to be involved as a student activist, or the student movements, or even the crackdown of the authorities on it. That's a whole bunch of separate and complicated issues. It could actually be just anyone who happened to be graduating during these events.
Because of #Jan25 I was stigmatized in my school and avoided by classmates due to my political involvement, I couldn't attend my graduation ceremony as a massacre took place in my hood in July 2011, I turned down a scholarship application in a very reputed British Genomics research institute after being in the short list to the finalist stage, I never had my diploma in my hand until April 2013, and I haven't done anything related to my major after investing in it for 4 years.
Alienation in a campus the revolution didn't reach
In early March 2011 the "revolutionary" euphoria was gone for most of the Egyptian people , the "revolutionary" spark was fading slowly everywhere, the international media celebrations were over, and it was time for me to go back to the reality in parts of Egypt where the revolution didn't reach.
It was clear that my classmates, my staff, and supervisors attitudes were not the same. I was the only person in my class who saw the protests for real and not on TV.
It was clear that not so many people from this apolitical private school and elsewhere experienced the events outside of their apartments which eventually created a stigma about those who stood out.
Fearful looks and hurtful jokes about "Shimaa Tahrir" who's grieving on the dead were some of the things I had to deal with regularly.
All of that made my campus a very hostile environment to be in and a painful experience.
Between the revolution work and the school work:
#Jan25 was exactly in the winter break during my senior year and that placed me in a tough situation balancing my academic aspirations and scientific passion, and the important historical moment my country and the whole world was going through.
It was such a pain, and I was torn apart between school and "revolution", it was clear something needed to be sacrificed.
I turned down the scholarship application and eventually I had to pressure myself to pass my final semester with the lowest GPA in my undergraduate years.
Apparently, God had a totally different plan than what I was envisioning and regardless of where I'm going to be in the next stage of my life I should stop beating myself up and just be thankful for it.
At this point I'm not sure about where I'm headed to and I'm tired of thinking about it. I keep trying to find the way to be of use and in the meantime, I'm still searching tirelessly for a solid definition for myself to meaning, value, and worth. I'm still praying that I shall be guided to a place and a condition where I could serve the good cause I was created to serve be it in science, media, politics, languages or who knows what.
To all the fellow students in the 2011 class who might have been through worse than what I have been through: Keep in mind you're not alone in this, you're in my thoughts and prayers continuously.
I'm praying that things will turn out to be a little bit better to all of us and that we will somehow use the knowledge we were blessed with one day to serve our own countries, our peoples and the rest of the world.
Friday, March 29, 2013
"I'm a liberal educated non-religious woman from the Middle East ready to absorb western/American values.
I'm not bearded or dressed up all in black, does that make me more lovable than fellow Middle Easterners who fit into your preconceived ideas and stereotypes?"
"I'm not too assimilated with the western culture but I'm educated according to your perception, I do speak English and I can totally fit in. I'm also not dressed up all in black or have a beard but is my headscarf an issue? Does it make me more palatable than a Niqabi? Or less acceptable than a seemingly liberal Middle Easterner?
I encounter this all the time while dealing with people who're interested in "us". And for those of us who're standing on the fence between the two worlds because they happened to have some "access" it is a very problematic issue.
Which one do you have in mind when you're talking to me?
Am I supposed to censor myself about myself in order to be sensitive with your ignorance or the fact you're not doing your part in learning about us just like we're learning about you?
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
|"We support the Egyptian Army" a logo from a Facebook page that calls for the Egyptian Army to intervene and take over Egypt|
For the smarties out there: It's important to note that many within the Islamists camp who have so much criticism towards the Muslim Brotherhood policies and ideology will not resort to the coup proposal for a multitude of reasons.The same applies to many principled opposition figures and groups from the secular/leftist/liberal and non-ideological revolutionary groups, but that's a different story.
Why call for a military coup in a military dictatorship with a civilian cover?
Friday, February 01, 2013
Is martyrdom now just a number that might be mentioned briefly or not in the headlines of a couple articles in Al- Ahram or Al- Akhbar state newspapers and that's it?
|On the left Anas 14 years old the youngest victim of Port Said Massacre|
Was suffocated to death in the stadium.
He was a human being, a young boy who had friends, family and dreams about a better place. Imagine how many similar stories are out there? And how many will continue to come? Do I want to see my little brother in this place?!"*
*Feb 2012 between California and Michigan
As I was going crazy, trying to talk to myself the things nobody around me that time seemed to understand or feel, I wrote this note above as a draft to myself back in February 2012 when I was stuck between either staying in California or going to Michigan right after the Port Said Massacre happened. I was recalling the "Battle of the camel" that happened the same day last year when I got the news.
I knew that Mohammad, my younger brother, wanted to travel with Al Ahly like he did several times before, but this time, only due to God's mercy, he didn't go.
The same night 3 am he went to Cairo's railway station to meet his friends who came back from Port Said injured, covered in blood and tears, and traumatized from what they have seen and witnessed. Later, we had a long Skype call and for the first time he sounded very scared, shocked and sad to me and he is not the kind of a person who would express such feelings.
|Cairo's central railways station upon the arrival of the Ultras survivors of Port Said Massacre. People went to the station to support them and protest the massacre.|
I can't describe how I was feeling with all the bloody images I saw coming from the stadium, the Skype calls that lasted for hours between me and my brother and sister with the three of us crying in shock, the reactions of SCAF and the police, the shameful media coverage in the west and the coldness of people around me.
Unlike many other tragedies, this event especially was a wake up call on so many levels based on which I decided that it was time for me to come back home from the U.S.
|"They closed the doors on us to kill us" One of the eyewitnesses leaves a message with his phone number|
|The police standing next to what seems to be the attackers|
For the first time in a while I began to reflect deeply again on my definitions and meanings for life, death, revolution, martyrdom, family, home, and love in my own life. I realized that I need to reconsider many of them.
What made things worse and made me feel like "What-am-I-really- doing- here" was seeing the cold and inappropriate reactions of Americans around me. It shocked me how everyone fell into the trap of receiving the news merely as "Hooligans riots", while ignoring all the political/historical sides to what happened.
Even when I said my brother was there, talked to the survivors, and I know these people from back home, I wasn't any convincing to anyone.
(Maybe now people elsewhere know a bit more about the ultras but at this time there was absolutely nothing substantial on the idea and their role in the revolution in English).
After surviving Maspero in October 2011 right before I went to the U.S I decided that I want to leave Egypt and I don't want to die in a lost cause.
2012 March the 15th:
The Ultras start their direct action and mobilization for the Port Said case.
2012 March the 30th: The Ultras start a sit in outside of Parliament to pressure for the investigations on Port Said case
2013 January the 18th: The Ultras march all over Cairo and Giza to remind people with the Port Said Verdict.
Today is the first anniversary of the massacre and the Ultras will be outside of Al Ahly club to commemorate the martyrs. I think I will be there for this to witness this moment with people I can relate to.
It's been a long time since I went to any event with the intention of participation. I have been observing closely but I don't want to be part of anything that's taking place in the name of the uprising, and I have a lot to say about it.
One day I'm hoping to sit down and record everything I want to let the world know about the Ultras and Port Said but it looks like this will have to wait, too.
Thursday, January 03, 2013
. Picture from Tahrir square in the beginning of the uprising in Feb 2011.
The challenge between the Egyptian people and their military is beyond their physical confrontations
Due to these two major events I witnessed, and while observing the way both the Egyptian and American news positively portrayed the Egyptian military for over than a year like this profile on Sami Anan here until the ugly face was revealed, I was motivated to do my own extensive research.
Most of the readings out there was on foreign resources so I was lucky I can read English. (Speaking and writing about the military in Arabic and in Egypt was a taboo until early 2011). I also had the time and interest to devote more efforts than many others around me on researching this point.
Since Morsi became president and later after Tantawi and Anan "retired", it seems that people are gradually overlooking this significant player in Egypt's politics: The military industrial complex and its long direct relationship with the U.S military industrial complex.
People are fighting the civilian front of the Egyptian military dictatorship and forgetting its core. The military might not be on the front but it's influencing the process and intervening in a direct manner using indirect approaches.
Controlling an estimation of 25-40% of the Egyptian economy while making sure they're persevering more privileges than any other Egyptian faction in the new constitution, the Egyptian military should be talked about more often.
It's not in the news anymore, possibly because the focus should be on the government and because the military is not killing as much people as thy did last year before the presidential elections.
However, I think it is important for those observing the political and economical situation in Egypt from the outside to have a background and understanding to the dynamics of the key role the military is playing here.
I collected all the important readings I came across regarding this issue in order to keep them as a reference that people can easily share and go back to when they're explaining to others or trying to understand the Egyptian ongoing crisis.
1- The first article on the military and media from the free officers to SCAF : Year of the Ostrich: SCAF's Media Experiment.
"For 55 years, the military has survived without having to give the media any unfettered access, let alone scrutiny. Any mention of the Egyptian Armed Forces in the media comes after a very rigid and paranoid vetting process and scrupulous attention to connotations. Interviews given to journalists by military officers were extremely infrequent and were limited to hyperbolic lofty statements about its discipline, power, patriotism, and heroism. However, the level of secrecy with which the institution operated, turned it into a black box for the media—a fourth branch of government beyond transparency, accountability, or criticism. Insulated by layers of inaccessibility, the military was able to deflect attention from its growing assets in virtually every sector of Egyptian society—from the economy and politics to security, governance, and industry."
2- The second article which is a very important and detailed reading on the military's business in Egypt: The Army and the Economy in Egypt
|Members of Egypt’s armed forces display canned tomatoes, roasted onions, and other foods that the military factories manufacture. Image by David Degner|
Until this very day, the role of the military establishment in the economy remains one of the major taboos in Egyptian politics. Over the past thirty years, the army has insisted on concealing information about its enormous interests in the economy and thereby keeping them out of reach of public transparency and accountability. The Egyptian Armed Forces owns a massive segment of Egypt’s economy—twenty-five to forty percent, according to some estimates. In charge of managing these enterprises are the army’s generals and colonels, notwithstanding the fact that they lack the relevant experience, training, or qualifications for this task."
3- The third article is a more technical piece on another industrial revolution that's taking place in Egypt:
If SCAF is able to use its executive power to engineer a post-transition system that protects the military’s economic perquisites, the latter will use the tactics described above to augment the share of the economy already under military control. This is only likely to increase the longer SCAF remains in control of the political system, allowing the military to shape electoral outcomes and legal frameworks. And foreign arms manufacturers will intensify their collaborative activities with Egypt’s armed forces for the same reason that they have historically formed partnerships with regime power brokers—preferential access to state contracts and the levers of economic influence. Or put more succinctly: profit.
4- The forth and most recent article is on the privileges the Egyptian military will have in the new constitution. One of the reasons I didn't want to be one one side with the Felol-revolutionary current opposition front is their silence on the articles related to the military.
Egypt’s Draft Constitution in Focus – The Role of the Army
(Video that's summarized in text in the article)
"Political researcher Ibrahim El Houdaiby and Hossam Bahgat explain how the draft constitution puts the Army and its extensive industrial activities—estimated to be between twenty-five and forty percent of the Egyptian economy—beyond the scrutiny of elected bodies. If the draft constitution passes, parliament would not have the right to discuss or even be briefed on the details of the military’s budget.
El Houdaiby and Bahgat discuss the economic consequences of ring-fencing the military economy from the national budget and its alarming relationship with the question of forced labor and conscription in the constitution.
They conclude that the draft constitution grants greater powers to the Army and military institutions than any other Egyptian constitution in history, entrenching the Army deep within the legal system, and striking at the heart of the revolution and widespread calls for a civil state."
These two articles are from early 2011 and were posted on the Antiwar website. They're shorter and more news-wise compared to the previous group that is academic oriented but they're still very good for a quick read and a start.
5- Egypt’s Military-Industrial-Bottled Water-Farming Complex:
Heavy Funding by US, But Egypt's Military Has Vast 'Off-Budget' Industries
It’s more likely than you’d think in Egypt, where the military is literally into every conceivable industry from tourism to hair-care products. With nearly half a million active duty personnel in the nation and no serious prospect of a war with any of its neighbors, Egypt’s military is a major employer and industrial powerhouse in a nation whose command economy has sparked vast unemployment and growing unrest."
6- Richer than Mubarak: Junta’s Stranglehold on Egypt’s Economy Imperils Reform.
Will Military Allow a Free Egypt If it Ends Their Massive 'Off-Budget' Industries?