Posts Tagged ‘Egyptian Government’

Egypt’s shameful ban on freedom marchers

January 6, 2010
Laura Durkay reports from Cairo on the efforts of the Gaza Freedom Marchers to show their solidarity with Palestine—and the crackdown by Egyptian authorities.

Socialist Worker, January 4, 2010

Participants in the Gaza Freedom March call for an end to the siege at a Cairo protest (Mike Connolly)Participants in the Gaza Freedom March call for an end to the siege at a Cairo protest (Mike Connolly)

IN THE last week of 2009, 1,360 activists from 43 countries converged on Cairo for the Gaza Freedom March. We intended to enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing, controlled by Egypt, for a display of mass international solidarity with the Palestinian people on the one-year anniversary of Israel’s punishing attack that killed more than 1,400 Palestinians and injured thousands more.

Organizers in the U.S., Gaza and around the world spent the past six months planning a December 31 march of Palestinians and internationals to the Eretz crossing with Israel, in the north of the Gaza Strip–plus two days of meetings and trips to the areas of Gaza most heavily damaged by Israel’s attack. Many people were calling it the largest-ever gathering of international solidarity activists in Palestine.

Continues >>

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Egypt, Middle East’s master pimp

December 28, 2009

By Yvonne Ridley, Information Clearing House, Dec 26, 2009

The activities of the rent boys who parade up and down Al-Shawarby Street in Cairo provide a good metaphor for the relationship the Egyptian Government has with Israel and the US.

Both are quite shameless and ruthless; prepared to do whatever it takes to please … in order to secure a fistful of dollars.

But at least the man whores of Al Shawarby are honest about their trade as they eagerly hustle potential customers.

Yes, they are shameless but so is the Egyptian Government as it continues to enforce the brutal siege in Gaza for Israel’s pleasure and America’s dollars.

Viva Palestina to Egypt: Let the convoy through to Gaza

July 13, 2009

Kevin Ovenden, Viva Palestina coordinator | Socialist Worker, July 13, 2009

The Egyptian government has disrupted a convoy of solidarity activists bringing needed humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. Members of Viva Palestina report that officials stopped buses carrying part of the group’s delegation as they attempted to cross into the Sinai region on the way to the Rafah border crossing, where activists plan to enter Gaza with their aid convoy.

Supplies for the Viva Palestina convoy ready for loading (Eric Ruder | SW)Supplies for the Viva Palestina convoy ready for loading (Eric Ruder | SW)

July 11, 9 p.m., Cairo time: The largest-ever U.S. humanitarian aid convoy is now gathering in Egypt to head across the border into Gaza on Monday, July 13.

Vehicles are coming from Alexandria, the medical supplies from Cairo and the advanced party of nearly 100 U.S. citizens is heading for the staging post of Al Arish, just before the border with Gaza.

That group, of four buses, has, however, been stopped from crossing over the Suez Canal and into the Sinai region, which leads to Gaza. The buses, carrying people, medical aid and bearing US, Egyptian and Palestinian flags in a spirit of international cooperation, have been held at a security checkpoint and given various, conflicting reasons for why they cannot proceed to their destination at Al Arish.

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How Not to Support Democracy in the Middle East

June 10, 2009

Stephen Zunes | Foreign Policy In Focus, June 8, 2009

President Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo to the Muslim world marked a welcome departure from the Bush administration’s confrontational approach. Yet many Arabs and Muslims have expressed frustration that he failed to use this opportunity to call on the autocratic Saudi and Egyptian leaders with whom he had visited on his Middle Eastern trip to end their repression and open up their corrupt and tightly controlled political systems.

Imagine the positive reaction Obama would have received throughout the Arab and Islamic world if, instead of simply expressing eloquent but vague words in support of freedom and democracy, he had said something like this:

“Let’s fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.”

Could he have said such a thing?

Yes. In fact, those were his exact words when, as an Illinois state senator, he gave a speech at a major anti-war rally in Chicago on October 2, 2002.

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Can Gaza Be Rebuilt Through Tunnels?

February 25, 2009

The Blockade Continues—No Supplies, No Rebuilding

by Ann Wright | CommonDreams.org, Feb 24, 2009

How do you rebuild 5,000 homes, businesses and government buildings when the only way supplies come into the prison called Gaza is through tunnels.  Will the steel I-beams for roofs bend 90 degrees to go through the tunnels from Egypt?   Will the tons of cement, lumber, roofing materials, nails, dry wall and paint be hauled by hand, load after load, 70 feet underground, through a tunnel 500 to 900 feet long and then pulled up a 70 foot hole and put into waiting truck in Gaza?

The gates to Gaza slammed shut again on Thursday, February 5, the day our three person group departed Gaza, having been allowed in for only 48 hours.  The Egyptian government closed the border crossing into Gaza continuing the sixteen month international blockade and siege.  The crossing had been briefly open to allow medical and humanitarian supplies into Gaza following the devastating 22 day attack by the Israeli military.  The attacks killed 1330 Palestinians and injured over 5,500.  The Israeli government said the attacks were to punish Hamas and other groups for firing unguided rockets into Israeli, rockets that over the past two years have killed about 25 Israelis.  Most international observers have called the Israeli response to the rocket attacks disproportionate and collective punishment, elements of war crimes.

Today, seventeen days after the gates swung closed on Gaza, they remain firmly locked.  Ceasefire talks in Cairo between the Israeli government and Hamas are stalled.  Opening the border with Egypt is a contentious point in the ceasefire negotiations.

For the people of Gaza, rebuilding their homes, businesses, factories is on hold.  Over 5,000 homes and apartment buildings were destroyed and hundreds of government buildings, including the Parliament building, were smashed. Building supplies, cement, wood, nails, glass will have to be brought in from outside Gaza.  Two cement factories in northern Gaza were completely destroyed by Israeli bombs.  Prime Minister Olmert’s spokesperson Mark Regev said reconstruction supplies like steel and cement can be used by Hamas to build more bunkers and rockets. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090218/wl_nm/us_palestinians_israel_5

Dissension in the Palestinian ranks between Fatah and Hamas continues, even after the brutal Israeli attack on Gaza.  Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad wants aid (perhaps as high as $2 billion) for rebuilding Gaza to be sent directly to each homeowner in Gaza, allowing donors to avoid the elected Hamas government.  The U.S., Israeli and other countries have designated Hamas as a terrorist organization, and do not want international aid in Gaza administered by Hamas, even though the people of Gaza elected the Hamas government.  On March 2, an international donor conference will be held in Egypt to discuss the costs of rebuilding Gaza. (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090218/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_palestinians_rebuilding_gaza_2)

Who Profits from War and Occupation?

Building supplies will have to be brought from outside Gaza.  Israel controls 90 percent of the land borders to Gaza-the northern and eastern borders and 100 percent of the ocean on the west side of Gaza.  Egypt controls the southern border with Gaza.

The Israelis who bombed Gaza will be the primary financial beneficiaries of the rebuilding of Gaza.  They bombed it and now will sell construction materials to rebuild what they have bombed, exactly like the United States has done in Iraq.  Egyptians too will benefit financially from the reconstruction-high priced small construction materials that will fit into the tunnels are no doubt have been transiting through the tunnels for the past 6 weeks.  Israeli women had created a website detailing who profits from occupation (http://www.whoprofits.org/)

No doubt a second website is under construction that will track which Israeli, Egyptian and American companies will benefit from the bombing of Gaza

Prisoner Exchanges as a Part of the Ceasefire

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his security cabinet said this week that no border crossings will be open until the Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit is returned to Israel.  Schalit was captured by Hamas in 2006 in an Israeli cross border raid into Gaza. Hamas has demanded the release of up to 1,400 Palestinian soldiers in exchange for Shalit

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Hamas “had no objection” to Shalit’s release if Israel would release 1,400 of 11,000 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, including Parliamentarians elected in Gaza in 2006. In the past, Israel has agreed to exchanges of large numbers of Palestinian prisoners for a few captured troops or their bodies.  But Israeli and Palestinian officials had not agreed where the released prisoners would be sent after the swap. Israeli wants the prisoners expelled out of the country and Hamas wants them returned to their homes in Gaza or the West Bank. (http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090218/wl_nm/us_palestinians_israel_5)

“Open the Borders” International Delegation to Gaza

On March 5, I will be part of a 30-member international delegation that will travel to the Gaza border with Egypt in solidarity with the women of Gaza for International Women’s Day.  Israeli women will be at the Israeli border crossing into Gaza.   Groups all over the world will join in with pressure on the Israeli, Egyptian and American governments to open the border to Gaza and let the people of Gaza rebuild their lives.  For more information about the international delegation, see http://www.codepinkalert.org/article.php?id=4675

Ann Wright is a 29 year US Army/Army Reserves veteran who retired as a Colonel and a former US diplomat who resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq.  She served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia.  In December, 2001 she was on the small team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.  She is the co-author of the book “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.”  (www.voicesofconscience.com)

The Perils of Blogging in Egypt

February 20, 2009

By Rannie Amiri | Counterpunch, Feb 18, 2009

“They are trying to silence the voices that criticize the [Egyptian] government’s performance and send a message by assaulting and kidnapping, to say that criticism will not be tolerated.”

– Gamal Eid, executive director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information on the recent spate of blogger arrests in Egypt.

Philip Rizk wasn’t “unlucky” or at “the wrong place at the wrong time.” Instead, he found himself quite the deliberate target of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s regime.

On Feb. 6, the 26-year-old German-Egyptian blogger and filmmaker took part in a march with fellow activists belonging to the group “To Gaza,” an organization under the umbrella of the Gaza Popular Committee in Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

Rizk and 14 others held the six-mile march in Qalyubiya governate, a rural area north of Cairo. Their purpose was to draw attention to, and raise awareness of, the terrible humanitarian situation in Gaza under the Israeli embargo and subsequent attack. They also protested Mubarak’s order to keep the vital Rafah border crossing with Gaza closed and demanded an immediate end to the blockade of the territory.

A graduate student at the American University of Cairo, Rizk, a frequent contributor to CounterPunch, had previously spent two years living in Gaza and made a documentary film of life there. He also ran the Tabula Gaza blog, where he was critical of both Egyptian and Israeli policies toward Palestinians.

On their way back to Cairo from Qalyubiya, all 15 activists were stopped and detained by Egyptian State Security officers. They were arrested and then released. Except Philip Rizk. He was taken out the back door of the police station and whisked away in an unmarked van.

Like so many others in Egypt who dare to speak out, Rizk simply disappeared.

An intense campaign by family, friends, colleagues and human rights groups ensued. A website and Facebook group set up in his name rallied support in calling for his immediate release. Five days later, Rizk was unceremoniously dropped off at his apartment. No criminal charges were ever filed.

Rizk told reporters he had been held in solitary confinement, blindfolded and handcuffed. During interrogation, he was alternately accused of being an Israeli spy and a gun-runner for Hamas and was subjected to psychological abuse, but not physically harmed. While in custody, his apartment was broken into and his computer, hard drives, digital and video cameras, film, phones, and documents confiscated. His blog was also taken down.

Rizk spent little time talking about himself though. He preferred the media’s attention be focused on the fate of other Egyptian bloggers imprisoned or who had simply disappeared, mentioning Diaa Eddin Gad in particular.

Gad is a 23-year-old blogger who also had taken part in a peaceful demonstration in support of Palestinians in Gaza, and ran the Sout Gadeb or “An Angry Voice” blog (in it, he described Mubarak as a “Zionist agent”). The same day Rizk was arrested in Qalyubiya, four security men jumped Gad outside his family’s apartment and arrested him. He has not been heard from since and his whereabouts remain unknown.

In addition, Egyptian military tribunals this month sentenced Ahmed Douma and Ahmed Kamal to one year in prison for “illegally” crossing into Gaza during the Israeli invasion and blogging from there.

As one might surmise, Egypt still operates under Emergency Law, which it has been under since 1981. For 27 years, these laws have afforded Mubarak and his State Security officers the ability to arrest and detain any citizen without warrant or charge for an indefinite period of time. They restrict both freedom of speech and assembly. Amnesty International estimates that there are approximately 18,000 political prisoners being held in Egypt under the provisions of Emergency Law.

If the Gaza war accomplished anything, it was to bring many longstanding Middle East realities to full light. These include the savage extent to which the Israeli government will go to crush resistance to occupation and Palestinian aspirations to form a state independent of their dictates; the successful fracture and dissolution of the Palestinian leadership; Mahmoud Abbas’ utter lack of credibility and integrity; the marked political divisions between the Arab states opposed to, and those that tacitly approved of (or were complicit in) the Israeli invasion of Gaza; and the complete failure of the Arab League as an effective body.

Even more evident was the disconnect between rulers and the ruled. Specifically, the hypersensitivity of the Mubarak government to not just criticism of its policy keeping the Rafah border closed, but to any public expression of sympathy or support for Gaza.

While Israel has ended its war (for now), Mubarak’s is ongoing. As true of all dictators, it is one being constantly waged against the people.

Rannie Amiri is an independent Middle East commentator. He may be reached at: rbamiri at yahoo dot com.

Corrupt Egyptian system: feeds the IDF, starves Gazans, oppresses journalists

February 6, 2009

Iqbal Tamimi | Palestine Think Tank, Feb 5, 2009

gaza-egypt-border-police.jpg


Once upon an alleged democracy, the Egyptian government decided a couple of days ago to try the journalist Majdi Hussein, the secretary-general of the Egyptian Labour party in a military court – even though he is a civilian – because he broke the law when he tried to “illegally enter the Gaza Strip”.


One wonders what is legal and what is not when it comes to Gaza.  It seems the law in Egypt is extremely elastic and can accommodate all manipulations and tailoring of the law to fit different sizes of growing plots. The good old Egyptian system is abiding by the law to the letter, and that’s why it wants to try a journalist in a military court for entering Gaza ‘illegally’ while the good old authority was providing the Israeli military ‘legally’ with tons of foods through the Gaza crossings while blocking any food sent to the starved to death children of Gaza who were burned to the bone by white phosphorus by that same Israeli army Egypt was feeding.


Last month the opposition Egyptian newspaper Alosbooa ‘The Week’ revealed in one of its reports a controversial story that was not refuted by the authorities about the Egyptian company ‘International Union of Food Industries’ which was providing the Israeli army with large quantities of homegrown Egyptian vegetables during the aggression on Gaza, since the very first day of the aggression.

The report revealed that the Egyptian trucks were loaded with tons of frozen local grown vegetables from the company stores in the city of Sadat to the Israeli company “Food Channel”, through Al Awja crossing between Egypt and Israel. One of the drivers said that he has made these deliveries many times to Israel but he was hiding this fact from his relatives and neighbours in Albadry neighbourhood at Assalam city, and that he used to tell them that he was delivering goods to other Arab countries, or the delivery is heading towards far ports like Savaja because he was embarrassed to tell them the truth. Other drivers said they no more feel embarrassed or ashamed of doing so because their government itself has normalized relations with Israel years ago. The workers in the company said that the food was repackaged with Hebrew writing, showing the expiry date and the contents, and that the food has been prepared according to Jewish religious rules.  Thus indicating that it complied with the traditional religious Jewish parameters, and that’s why the company imposed a cordon around the place, keeping stored bags, boxes, posters and empty cartons away from the sight of intruders, not allowing any of the workers or the staff to approach the packaging area, and searching every worker at the end of his shift before leaving.


Contrary to what was expected, trade exchange between Egypt and Israel because of Israeli policies towards the Palestinians has increased notably to 4 billion dollars in addition to exports of oil and gas.

Regarding the journalist Majdi Husse, this was not his first encounter with the Egyptian authorities. He was Chief Editor of an Egyptian Islamic bi-weekly when he was imprisoned for 4 months along with the journalist Muhammad Hilal in 1998 with charges of defaming former Minister of the Interior in Egypt, Lt. Gen. Hussein al-Alfi.

Hussein said he was prevented twice by the Egyptian authorities from entering the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing point, forcing him to take an alternative route to get into the Palestinian territ“Food Channel”ories.

The Egyptian prosecutor in Al-Arish city said the decision to put Hussein on military trial (even though he is a civilian) came after three days of investigations with him, and that he was arrested upon his arrival to the Egyptian side of the border with Gaza. The trial of Hussein is expected to be held on Thursday.

The Labour party in Egypt considered subjecting one of its top officials to a military trial as a grave violation of human rights, since he is a civilian, and commented that Majdi’s decision to get into Gaza Strip was driven by his “nationalist, Islamic, and popular considerations, and that Majdi’s determination to enter the Strip reflects the general feeling in the Egyptian street to lift the siege on Gaza and to open the Rafah crossing point before the Palestinian people.”

Majidi is not the only Arab journalist Egyptian authorities prevented from entering Gaza, the Al-Jazeera team was denied entry into Gaza too. The Egyptian authorities denied two of Al-Jazeera’s top journalists Ahmed Mansour and Ghassan Bin Jiddo entry into the Gaza Strip without explaining the reasons. Especially since Egypt had granted entry into the Gaza Strip to foreign and European journalists.

In a telephone call with his satellite channel, Mansour confirmed that the Egyptian authorities told them that they (he and bin Jiddo) were denied entry, at a time it granted many journalists of different nationalities the right to enter the Strip.

“We presented our identification documents to the Egyptian authorities and requested permission to enter the Gaza Strip as other journalists did, but we were denied entry,” added Mansour.

Mansour also said that the Egyptian officials stopped answering their telephone calls, but he stressed that the Al-Jazeera team will remain at the borders till a rational reason by the Egyptian authorities is given to justify such action.

Hence, according to the law-abiding Egyptian authorities, it is illegal to open the crossing to allow food and aid to the starved Gaza children, but it is legal to feed the Zionist army who were barbecuing Gaza children. It is legal to allow foreign journalists to cross to the Gaza haven, but it is against the law to allow Arab journalists to cross the borders to investigate or offer emotional support. It seems it is legal to stand on the borders and watch a full nation being killed and not only to stand idly doing nothing, but also to punish those who intend to help.

Exiled Egyptian activist sentenced

August 3, 2008
Al Jazeera, August 3, 2008

Ibrahim wanted to return to Egypt but only with assurances he would not be arrested

Saad Eddin Ibrahim, an outspoken critic of the Egyptian government, has been sentenced to two years in prison.

The sociologist and human rights activist was convicted for “tarnishing Egypt’s reputation,” the country’s official MENA news agency said.

Shady Talaat, Ibrahim’s laywer, said the ruling by a Cairo court was flawed and that he would use his right to appeal.

Ibrahim was granted bail of 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($1,890).

Ibrahim, who has been living in Qatar since June 2007, says he fears arrest if he returns to Egypt.

The case is among a series of lawsuits filed by members and loyalists of Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) against government critics.

Accusations

Prosecuting lawyers Abul Naga al-Mehrezi and Hossam Salim took the case against Ibrahim to court and accused him of defaming the country after a series of articles and speeches on citizenship and democracy in which he criticised the Egyptian government.

Ibrahim said last month he wanted to return from exile, but only after assurances he would not be arrested.

According to the Egyptian independent daily Al-Masri Al-Youm, Ibrahim had written to the foreign ministry asking for guarantees that he would not be held on arrival.

The 69-year old went into exile citing a climate prejudicial to political opposition and human rights.

A vocal critic of Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, Ibrahim was quoted in the Washington Post last year as saying he preferred to remain outside Egypt for fear of being arrested “or worse”.

After meeting George Bush, the US president, in June last year in Prague he was called a “dissident” by the US leader.

Ibrahim, who founded the Ibn Khaldoun Centre for Development Studies, was sentenced in 2001 to seven years for, again, “tarnishing Egypt’s reputation,” before being freed on appeal after spending 10 months behind bars.


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