Egyptian Chronicles

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The arrest and release of Azza Soliman and that other trial

At exactly 1:39 PM Cairo local time Wednesday , the family of Egyptian lawyer and renowned woman right Azza Soliman announced that security forces arrested her from her house by the investigation judge in the infamous NGOs case.

Azza Soliman
Azza Soliman 
Her son Nadeem Abdel Gawad kept the people updated as the head and co-founder of Centre for Egyptian Women Legal Assistance (CEWLA) moved from Misr El-Gedida police station to New Cairo Court to be questioned by the investigation judge in the infamous case.

For nearly seven or eight hours and accompanied by many lawyers and human rights activist , Soliman was questioned by the judge over the accusations of receiving foreign funds with an aim to harm the national security , founding an illegal entity that engages in NGO activity "!!!!" and tax  evasion !!!

After nearly 8 hours , she was released on LE 20,000 bail pending investigation in the infamous case.

Azza Soliman made the headlines technically in Egypt as foreign media focused on her case as another sign of the crackdown on civil society and NGOs as well human rights activists.
It  also came days after passing the infamous NGOs law.

She and a number of human rights activists including Gamal Eid and Mozn Hassan are barred from travel and their assets have been frozen as the Justice ministry re-opened the investigation of the old illegal foreign funding case in March.

Now as I hinted above , all the media focused on the NGOs case but they forgot a very critical and important fact about Soliman.

Azza Soliman is a key eye-witness in the trial of Shaimaa El-Sabbagh or to be accurate the retrial of Shaimaa El-Sabbagh.
Since coming forward on 25 January 2015 with her testimony publicly on the shooting of El-Sabbagh and Soliman began to face trouble.
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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Egypt's Internet trolls : The Union "Ep.1"

The international media is currently having a long serious discussion about fake news and internet trolls in the social media.
Only after the US presidential elections and its results, the world decided to put the spotlight on that dark use of social media.
Only , now we got Mark Zuckerberg speaking about how  misinformation spreaders are using his platform and how to fight back for the first time.
Sadly , we know very well about fake news or how Zuckerberg described it as "misinformation" and its impact first hand in the Middle East especially in the Arab spring countries before the west or the US but nobody cared till it reached to the States.

The social media is always highlighted for its role in the Arab spring, especially in the Egyptian
2011
Once upon time in 2011 "Reuters" 
revolution.
Well, I think it is time to let the world knows that the social media is also destroying the Arab Spring.
Ironically at the same time, the West was speaking about the fake news and the Russian machine propaganda, we had our own "fake news scandal" in November.
It came unexpectedly out of the blue when one of the biggest Pro-regime conspiracy theorists exposed how the so-called
e-committees aka Pro-regime internet trolls work from inside.
Nobody is speaking about it any more thought in Egypt, so I thought it was good to bring it back. It gives you a glimpse of our own in-house problem

On 5 November Pro-regime supporter/university professor/social media celebrity Khaled Refaat published a Facebook post on his account with alleged screenshots from a closed Pro-regime Facebook group for exposing who they are and how they are organizing themselves online.

The story started with a fight inside the group  when Refaat seemed to violate the rule of not criticizing El-Sisi outside it and being vocal about it.Soon , he began to criticize the group indirectly describing it as an "e-committee" on his FB account.
It seems that the members of the groups attacked and being reported him to the Facebook to close his account in return.

In retaliation, he decided to bring down the temple by speaking directly about that group posting screenshots from showing its admins giving directives its members.
That Facebook group is "State supporters union" and according to Refaat , it was founded allegedly by Media figure Ibrahim El-Garhi.
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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Seen in Alexandria : Sidi Bishr Mosque

Location Sidi Bishr, As Soyouf Bahri, Qism El-Montaza, Alexandria Governorate, Egypt
Sidi Bishr Mosque
Sidi Bishr Mosque 
And Egypt's Alexandria has got its share of many Islamic saints , most if not all of them came from North Africa and Al-Andalus.
Among those Islamic Saints who are highly respected in Alexandria : Sidi Bishr.
Legend says Sheikh Bishr El-Gohary came from the West , either from Morocco or Al-Andulas to Alexandria in the Middle ages to join a famous mystic Sufi school growing in influence in North Africa.
Living ascetically in an isolated area in the coastal city , Sheikh Bishr El-Gohary earned fame in the city as an Islamic scholar.

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Monday, November 28, 2016

What are those public utility companies you spoke about , Madam minister ?? Updated

On Wednesday , The Wall Street Journal published in its opinion section an op-ed by Egypt's minister of international cooperation Sahar Nasr about the latest "economic reforms" in Egypt.
Addressing foreign businessmen and foreign government through the daily business newspaper, Minister Sahar recounted the economic reforms and achievements of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi's administration.
As expected and usual , the current minister of cooperation put the blame of economic woes on the Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi and his one year rule.
She did not  blame or compare "Mubarak's bad developments policies" with El-Sisi's policies interestingly in the op-ed.
Personally , the only thing that caught my attention aside from putting all the blame on the bad MB was her statements in English about the future of public utility companies in Egypt.
Through public offerings, Egypt will be partially divesting from several state-owned enterprises and banks. For the first time, this will cover public utility companies, which have historically been excluded from divesture as a strategic sector. Megaprojects, mainly in infrastructure, are being carried out as public-private partnerships. The objective isn’t only to keep the private sector as a main stakeholder, but also to ensure a crowding-in rather than crowding-out effect.
I think what the minister said in English is clear.
The Egyptian government will divest partially from several stated-owned Enterprises and banks as well for the first time in history public utility companies according to this statement, to this paragraph.
Sahar Nasr
 Minister Sahar Nasr of international cooperation

This is the first time , an Egyptian minister would say that the Egyptian state would divest partially in public utility companies and amazingly she announced that in a foreign newspaper.
I do not recall that an Egyptian official told the Egyptian public or the parliament or the Egyptian media about that before.
We already know that the government will divest partially from public banks , specifically Banque Du Caire and from oil sector as well.
It is the first time to include the public utility companies in that plan.
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Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Nubian Caravan and the right to return : Toshka crisis

Since Saturday not less than 150 Egyptian Nubians have started an open sit-in at Abu-Simbel-Aswan highway as a military police refused to let them head to their old Nubian villages in Toshka and Forkund to protest the sale of the land there to Non-Nubians.
"Update : The Nubian activists ended the sit-in Wednesday morning" 
The sit-in was already planned at the two villages as part of a protest called "The Nubian Return Caravan" against the presidential decree to include those two villages in President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi's mega-national project of reclaiming 1.5 million feddans.
Egyptian protesters
A photo from the sit-in and you can see all ages as
well women "Twitter" 

"The Nubian Return Caravan" is actually a convey made of a delegation and representatives of Nubians from all over the country organized by several Egyptian Nubian organizations above them the Nubian Union after the latest presidential decrees as well cabinet decisions endangering once again the Nubians' rights to return.

The military police did not only stop the caravan but it took photo copies from the activists' IDs.
Later , it besieged the sit-in refusing to let food or protesters to join it.
Things escalated when three protesters were injured when the military police tried to disperse the protest by force and they were transferred to hospital.

Saturday and Sunday nights witnessed protests in several areas throughout Aswan as angry Egyptian Nubians cut highways and railways for several hours over the security actions.
The protester announced that they would continue in their sit-in till their demands are met starting with allowing the Nubian Return Caravan to head for its original destination.

The Egyptian Nubian protesters also demand the government not to sell the old Nubian villages in Toshka and Forkund as part of that mega-project and to stop selling the old Nubia land in general.
They also demand a law for the resettlement of Nubians in their old villages in accordance with the Egyptian constitution.

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Saturday, November 19, 2016

The confrontation between journalists syndicate and the regime is back as it seems

Location 4 شارع عبد الخالق ثروت، معروف، قصر النيل، محافظة القاهرة‬، مصر
For the past 5 years , the 19th of November is marked by political tensions,mostly clashes and protests.
This year , it is not an exceptional. Aswan and Red Sea governorates saw protests for different reasons and in Cairo, the confrontation between journalist unionists and state is back.

Earlier Saturday ,a Cairo Misdemeanor Court sentenced the head of Egypt's Journalists syndicate Yahia Qallash and board members Khaled El-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim to two years in jail for "harboring fugitives inside the syndicate's headquarter" from seven months ago.

Issued in absentia as the trio did not show up, the verdict is a first-degree one and can be appealed. The Misdemeanor court set bail at LE 10,000 for each defendant.
Egypt's Journalists syndicate after court rule to prison its head
Yahia Qallash at the journalists syndicate earlier Today 

This is unprecedented by all measures.

For the first time in the history of Egypt's journalists syndicate, something like that happens.
Actually, it is the first time in the history of unions in general if I am not mistaken.

If you have forgotten the case , it all started when the security forces stormed the Journalists syndicate headquarter arresting journalists Amr Badr and Mahmoud El-Sakka who were having a sit-in there from seven months ago.
Both were accused of spreading false news , inciting the public and plotting to overthrow the regime during the Tiran and Sanafir protests crackdown.
Following the illegal storming of the syndicate, the majority of members of the journalists syndicate stood with Yahia Qallash , Khaled El-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim for their stance against the storming of the syndicate as an escalation in May.
In June , the three men were referred to misdemeanor court.

Then people forgot about what happened and today we remember all this with this shameful verdict.
"It is expected verdict as we have been found guilty and sentenced already by the Prosecutor general's statement from seven months ago," said Qallash in his short word at the journalists syndicate after the verdict.
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