Posts Tagged ‘Egypt’

Gaza is burning and the Arabs sit and watch

July 14, 2014
Dr Mohammed Al-MisferDr Mohammed Al-Misfer

There have been many times when oppressed people resisting their oppressors gain international solidarity for their cause as public opinion sways in their favour. They embody bravery as they continue to resist against their enemies. We saw this pattern manifest itself in Vietnam when the people struggled against the biggest superpower in the world. The Vietnamese demonstrated how they turned to each other for support when the northern city of Hanoi stood as a beacon of light for its counterpart Saigon in the south. Soon after, the southern Vietnamese people embodied the spirit of resistance and achieved all of their goals.

When it comes to the Palestinian case, the situation is entirely different, for in the Gaza Strip (Southern Palestine) we see true armed resistance being engaged in the battle against the Zionist enemy, which is armed with the most sophisticated weapons and is using all of its power and influence throughout the world to frame this conflict as it sees fit; it is from this that the Palestinian people in Gaza can find no escape. Gaza is burning and its natural supporters, the Arabs of the region, sit and watch. The Palestinian Authority under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, based in the West Bank city of Ramallah (which we can consider here to be the northern region of Palestine), should be the biggest advocate for its people in Gaza. And yet, all we here are murmurs and useless statements being made here and there.

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ElBaradei leads Egypt anti-torture protest

June 25, 2010

Middle East Online, June 25, 2010



Powerful comeback for ElBaradei


Ex-IAEA chief carries on his ‘change’ campaign in Alexandria in protest against police brutality.

By Mona Salem – ALEXANDRIA

Mohamed ElBaradei, the ex-atomic watchdog chief turned Egyptian dissident, led thousands of protesters in the northern city of Alexandria on Friday demanding an end to police brutality.

ElBaradei emerged from the Muslim weekly prayers in Alexandria’s Sidi Gaber district to rapturous applause from a 4,000-strong crowd chanting “Change” and holding posters of 28-year-old Khaled Said who was allegedly killed this month at the hands of police officers.

ElBaradei, who had earlier visited Said’s family to offer condolences, struggled to move through the crowd as protesters rushed to reach him, some kissing his hands, others patting him on the back.

Hundreds of police and anti-riot forces surrounded the protesters, who represented several political groups including the pro-reform April 6 youth movement and the banned opposition Muslim Brotherhood, as well as prominent activists and opposition politicians and ordinary citizens.

Protesters held up signs reading: “Our condolences to Freedom” and “Long Live Egypt”. Others chanted “Down with (President Hosni) Mubarak”.

They demanded the ouster of Interior Minister Habib al-Adly, who they say has failed to bring to justice those accused of torture.

According to witnesses, Said was killed on June 6 when plainclothes policemen dragged him out of an Internet cafe and beat him to death on a busy Alexandria street.

Egypt’s interior ministry said he had died from asphyxiation after swallowing a bag of narcotics when approached by officers.

But rights groups have rejected the official account, and Said has since become a symbol for rights activists against police brutality, for which Egypt has been criticised at home and abroad.

Disturbing images of Said’s battered and bruised face have appeared on social networking websites, sparking public outcry and condemnation from local and international rights groups.

Opposition members and political activists have argued that the incident is proof that Egypt’s decades-old emergency law, which was renewed last month for a further two years, has created a legacy of police impunity.

Several protests have broken out around the country since Said’s death, demanding his alleged torturers be brought to justice.

The Alexandria demonstration also marked a powerful comeback for ElBaradei following weeks away from the public eye, amid criticism that his reform campaign had run out of steam.

Rarely are such numbers out in force in Egypt, where police does not tolerate large political gatherings.

“There were thousands of people, and thousands more in the streets near the mosque,” said Hassan Nafaa, the coordinator for the National Association for Change set up by ElBaradei to call for political reforms.

“If the protesters had been allowed to move even 500 metres (yards), thousands more would have joined,” he said after the protest.

“We gathered today to mourn the loss of Khaled Said and to mourn the fate of this nation,” he said.

ElBaradei, 68, has emerged as Egypt’s most high-profile reform champion since his retirement from the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency last year.

Top Ten Myths about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

June 19, 2010

Jeremy R. Hammond, Foreign Policy Journal, June 17, 2010

A Palestinian boy throws a stone at an Israeli  tank in the occupied West Bank.

Myth #1 – Jews and Arabs have always been in conflict in the region.

Although Arabs were a majority in Palestine prior to the creation of the state of Israel, there had always been a Jewish population, as well. For the most part, Jewish Palestinians got along with their Arab neighbors. This began to change with the onset of the Zionist movement, because the Zionists rejected the right of the Palestinians to self-determination and wanted Palestine for their own, to create a “Jewish State” in a region where Arabs were the majority and owned most of the land.

For instance, after a series of riots in Jaffa in 1921 resulting in the deaths of 47 Jews and 48 Arabs, the occupying British held a commission of inquiry, which reported their finding that “there is no inherent anti-Semitism in the country, racial or religious.” Rather, Arab attacks on Jewish communities were the result of Arab fears about the stated goal of the Zionists to take over the land.

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Egypt using defamation laws to prosecute dissenting voices

May 29, 2010

Amnesty International USA, May 25, 2010

Amnesty International has criticized the Egyptian authorities’ use of criminal defamation charges to silence and harass activists, after the trial of two leading human rights defenders and a prominent blogger started on Saturday.

A court in Cairo heard the case of the three men on charges of “defamation”, “the use of threats” and “misuse of communication tools”, after allegations of extortion were made by a judge in 2007.

Gamal Eid, Director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) and Ahmed Seif El-Islam Hamad, founder of the Hisham Mubarak Law Center (HMLC) both appeared before the Khalifa Court of Misdemeanour on Saturday.

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Egypt emergency law linked to poll abuse

May 13, 2010

Middle East Online, May 13, 2010



Some 10,000 people are being held under the emergency law

Rights groups warn Egyptian emergency law may be used to influence outcome of elections.

CAIRO – Egyptian human rights groups on Thursday protested over the renewal of a decades-old emergency law, fearing it could be used to influence the outcome of elections in Egypt over the next two years.

The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights and the Arab Centre for the Independence of the Judiciary, in a joint news conference, condemned parliament’s renewal of the law in a government-backed vote on Wednesday.

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Israel pressures Egypt to block its call for NPT deal

May 4, 2010
Reuters, May 4, 2010

Israel has pressured Egypt to block its lobbying against it at a U.N. nuclear review meeting by urging Cairo at top-level talks to view Iran’s nuclear programme as the “regional threat”, an Israeli official said on Tuesday.

The message was relayed by the delegation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who met Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday as the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference began in New York.

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Pavement is home for angry Egyptian protesters

May 4, 2010

Middle East Online, First Published 2010-05-04



Some of them have gone unpaid for four months


Dozens of civil servants, labourers have been camping outside parliament for weeks demanding better working conditions.

By Mona Salem – CAIRO

Mervat Rifai, a 34-year-old mother of three, has like dozens of other civil servants and labourers been camping outside Egypt’s parliament building for weeks demanding better working conditions.

She, like her fellow campers who have made the pavement their home, is determined not to leave until her voice is heard.

Rifai left her children with family and neighbours in her small town in the Nile Delta governorate of Beheira to join the sit-in.

“They totally ignore our claims. But we will stay here, because after all this I refuse to go home empty handed,” said Rifai, who works for an organisation affiliated to the agriculture ministry.

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OPEN LETTER TO EGYPTIAN LABOR PROTESTERS

April 30, 2010

from the Campaign for Peace and Democracy, New York City

We are writing to extend our heartfelt solidarity and support to you, Egyptian workers, who in recent months have been courageously demanding that your government address your desperate economic conditions. The American press has been shamefully muted about the grim economic and political realities of life for people in Egypt, a key strategic U.S. ally in the Middle East. But in an eye-opening article in The New York Times of April 28, 2010, “Labor Protests Test Egypt’s Government,” by Michael Slackman, the curtain was lifted, for a moment at least. The article says,

CAIRO — Day after day, hundreds of workers from all over Egypt have staged demonstrations and sit-ins outside Parliament, turning sidewalks in the heart of the capital into makeshift camps and confounding government efforts to bring an end to the protests.

Nearly every day since February, protesters have chanted demands outside Parliament during daylight and laid out bedrolls along the pavement at night. The government and its allies have been unable to silence the workers, who are angry about a range of issues, including low salaries.

Using an emergency law that allows arrest without charge and restricts the ability to organize, the Egyptian government and the ruling National Democratic Party have for decades blocked development of an effective opposition while monopolizing the levers of power. The open question — one that analysts say the government fears — is whether the workers will connect their economic woes with virtual one-party rule and organize into a political force.

This week, with blankets stacked neatly behind them, at least four different groups were banging pots, pans and empty bottles and chanting slogans. There were factory workers, government workers, employees of a telephone company and handicapped men and women. The group of handicapped people said they had been there for 47 days, demanding jobs and housing….

The government has tried to define workers’ complaints as pocketbook issues, analysts said, hoping that if specific demands are met, workers will disband without blaming those in charge and without adding political change to their list of priorities.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/29/world/middleeast/29egypt.html?ref=global-home

Try as the Egyptian government might to define your complaints as simply narrow “pocketbook issues,” divorced from democratic rights to protest, assemble, and assert labor’s interests in the political arena, the distinction won’t hold. They are inextricably linked, and this is true today in Egypt, Iran, China, the Philippines and everywhere else. Egyptian workers must have the right to freely assemble, protest and strike, and to form independent trade unions and political parties.

As Americans, we repudiate the hypocritical policy of the United States, our own government, which turns a blind eye to human rights abuses on the part of its allies, such as Egypt, while decrying such transgressions by governments that defy U.S. power. The Campaign for Peace and Democracy firmly believes that a just and peaceful world must be based on respect for human rights.

We salute you in your brave struggle. We understand that the Mubarak government, which heads a de facto one-party state, is contemplating a crackdown on labor protesters. We will do all in our power to mobilize here in the United States and in countries around the world to prevent this from happening.

In peace and solidarity,
Joanne Landy and Thomas Harrison
Co-Directors, Campaign for Peace and Democracy
New York City
Web: www.cpdweb.org Email: cpd@igc.org

Hezbollah: Egyptian jailings ‘unjust and politicised’

April 29, 2010

BBC News, April 30, 2010

Hassan Nasrallah, pictured on 13 March 2009

The convictions were a “badge of honour” Mr Nasrallah said

The leader of the Lebanese Shia militia Hezbollah has strongly criticised the Egyptian courts for jailing men accused of working for the group.

Hassan Nasrallah said the judgement by the Security Court in Cairo was “unjust and politicised” in an interview with an Arabic TV station.

He said he would seek “political and diplomatic means” to get their release.

The 26 men were sentenced by the court for planning terrorist attacks on ships and tourist sites.

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Egypt a ticking time bomb

April 26, 2010

The Arab world’s leading nation has become a political and cultural backwater — and that’s not good

Eric Margolis, The Toronto Sun, April 25, 2010

As battered air travellers struggle to recover from Iceland’s volcanic big bang, another explosion is building up.

This time, it’s a political one that could rock the entire Mideast, where rumours of war involving the U.S., Syria, Israel and Iran are intensifying.

President Hosni Mubarak, the U.S.-supported strongman who has ruled Egypt with an iron hand for almost 30 years, is 81 and in frail health. He has no designated successor.

Mubarak, a general, was put into power with U.S. help after the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat by nationalist soldiers. Sadat had been a CIA “asset” since 1952.

Egypt, with 82 million people, is the most populous and important Arab nation and Cairo the cultural centre of the Arab world. It is also an overcrowded madhouse with eight million people whose population has tripled since I lived there as a boy.

Not counting North Africa, one in three Arabs is Egyptian.

Egypt was once the heart and soul of the Arab and Muslim world. Under Sadat’s predecessor, the widely adored nationalist Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt led the Arab world. Egyptians despised Sadat as a corrupt western toady and sullenly accepted Mubarak.

After three decades under Mubarak, Egypt has become a political and cultural backwater. In a telling incident, Mubarak recently flew to Germany for gall bladder and colon surgery. After billions in U.S. aid, Mubarak could not even trust a local hospital in the Arab world’s leading nation.

The U.S. gives Egypt $1.3 billion annually in military aid to keep the generals content and about $700 million in economic aid, not counting secret CIA stipends, and vast amounts of low-cost wheat.

Mubarak’s Egypt is the cornerstone of America’s Mideast Raj (dominion). Egypt’s 469,000-man armed forces, 397,000 paramilitary police and ferocious secret police keep the regime in power and crush all dissent.

Though large, Egypt’s military is starved by Washington of modern weapons, ammo and spare parts so it cannot wage war against Israel. Its sole function is keeping the U.S.-backed regime in power.

Mubarak has long been a key ally of Israel in battling Islamist and nationalist groups. Egypt and Israel collaborate on penning up Hamas-led Palestinians in Gaza.

Egypt is now building a new steel wall on the Gaza border with U.S. assistance. Mubarak’s Wall, which will go down 12 metres, is designed to block tunnels through which Gaza Palestinians rely for supplies.

While Washington fulminates against Iran and China over human rights, it says nothing about client Egypt — where all elections are rigged, regime opponents brutally tortured and political opposition liquidated.

Washington could quickly impose real democracy to Egypt where it pulls all the strings, if it wanted.

Ayman Nour, the last man who dared run in an election against the eternal Mubarak — “pharaoh” to Islamist opponents — was arrested and tortured.

Now, as Mubarak’s health fails, the U.S. and Israel are increasingly alarmed his death could produce a political eruption in long-repressed Egypt.

Mubarak has been trying to groom his son, Gamal, to succeed him. But Egyptians are deeply opposed. The powerful 72-year old intelligence chief, Gen. Omar Suleiman, an ally of the U.S. and Israel, is another possible strongman. CIA will also be grooming another army or air force general for the job.

Egypt’s secular political opposition barely exists. The regime’s real opponent remains the relatively moderate, highly popular Islamic Brotherhood. It would win a free election hands down. But its leadership is old and tired. Half of Egyptians are under 20.

Mohammed El-Baradai, the intelligent, principled, highly respected Egyptian former UN nuclear chief, is calling for real democracy in his homeland. He presents a very attractive candidate to lead post-Mubarak Egypt.

Washington hopes it can ease another compliant general into power and keep the security forces loyal before 30 years of pent-up fury at Mubarak’s dictatorship, Egypt’s political emasculation, thirst for change and dire poverty produce a volcanic eruption on the Nile.