A few weeks ago I left town to visit family and friends. It is always nice to take a vacation, but over the years the adjustment period to what used to be my home takes longer and longer. I left Cairo behind in a haze of sweltering heat and stepped into a world where boots and sweaters were no luxury. It took me days to adjust to the sunlight lingering until after ten at night, the full palette of green wherever I looked, the cleanliness of the streets and the disciplined way the shiny cars adhered to the traffic rules.
Picture this. An “Islamist” politician is making his way through Cairo’s bustling streets. The cacophonous sounds of the city’s notorious traffic compete with a muezzin’s call to prayer. Polluted air fills his chest. With each step, his shoes collect more dust. The aroma of freshly baked bread from a nearby government bread oven reaches his nose, but is rudely overtaken by the stench of garbage piled high between Cairo’s tightly packed buildings.
As pressure by the masses mounts for early presidential elections that give the final word to the people — the sole source of sovereignty and master of all powers — voices from the “Islamic” right are warning against the repercussions of this democratic move. They claim it would trigger instability, because even if the sitting president is overthrown the tenure of any other president who is elected after him would not last long.
The ongoing demonstrations taking place in big cities of Turkey against Erdogan rule, could be the start of a major uprising against the Justice and Development Party's rule in Turkey. The demonstrations started with an environmental movement against turning a public park into a mall and then developed into wide public and union demonstrations against the brutal security measures taken by the Erdogan government against the peaceful demonstrations.
Last article, I explained the social background of the second group of the political Islamist movement, which was the religion-based Islamist parties. This time, I will explain that of the third group of the Islamist political movement, the radical Islamist group. By radical, I mean the Islamist groups that are officially active in the political world and not the groups that are secretly involved and carry weapons.
The streets are filled with Tamarrod ('Rebel') volunteers, on their feet for hours in the often scorching heat of Egypt's summer. They are from every age and every walk of life, perhaps only united by fiercely determined visages.
The Egyptian revolution of the 25th of January began … well, on the 25th of January, 2011. The Syrian revolution of the 15th of March began, well, on the 15th of March 2011. The revolutionaries of the 25th of January keenly supported Syria’s struggle, and continue to do so – and the revolutionaries of the 15th of March responded in kind. As part of that solidarity, the revolutionary president of Egypt, President Mohammed Mursi, ordered the closure of the Syrian regime’s embassy in Egypt, and the recall of Egypt’s ambassador to Damascus. So continues the revolutionary struggle and solidarity of the Arabs.
Who’s really behind the Battle of the Nile? Here’s a clue: Gold and girls. Don’t be fooled by hydroelectricity or irrigation. Focus on lust and greed. Skedaddle if you hearshankilla. It’s Ethiopian for slave. Head for the hills if they shout agbert – slavery permitted.
Columnist Suleiman Shafiq begins the article by writing that the Tamarod campaign has scared the Islamist groups to the point where they have developed a “phobia” over 30 June. He adds that their speeches show their fear, including Morsi’s latest speech in which he claimed that “he is prepared to go to the opposition”.
In the previous article, I covered the first segment of the Islamist movements in Egypt, which was the political Islamist parties, and it centred on the Muslim Brotherhood. Now, I will go into detail regarding the second segment, the religion-based Islamist parties.
After a stellar week in Egyptian foreign policy, with both a fiasco of a national security meeting regarding the non-threatening Ethiopia Grand Renaissance Dam and a disturbing court ruling against NGO workers, people have once again shifted their focus to National politics, specifically the 30 June demonstrations. Expectations are flying high on the side of the opposition, with Amr Moussa declaring on his own that 30 June will mark the end of Muslim Brotherhood rule, without any actual basis, proof or even working theory as to how that will happen exactly. Something to consider: If the 30 June demonstrations fail (God only knows what its parameters of success are), it will make the very weak Brotherhood regime appear stronger than it really is.
For 23 years, Egypt’s cultural scene was in the hands of Farouq Hosny. One can write volumes on the man, rumours mixed with truths until his reputation was completely ruined. What we do know though is that he was a lousy painter; he painted like a six year old and yet he was able to “sell” his paintings to officials of the Mubarak regime and other Arab and foreign figures. He was also known to be very close to Suzanne Mubarak; some say he was her “stylist” and “fashion consultant”, some say they partnered in trading Egyptian artefacts. For 23 years, Farouq Hosny ran the Ministry of Culture, and the arts and culture scene in Egypt hit rock bottom save a few departments within the ministry that were lucky enough to have good management, like the Cairo Opera House.
It’s been a rough few weeks for heads-of-state the world over. In America, Obama faces a growing list of infractions, any one of which would have been campaign killers nine months ago. In much of the Europe, administrations continue to struggle to justify austerity that has yet to fully jumpstart most economies, and more often than not, appear to have quite the opposite effect. Here in the UK it seems like it is only a matter of days before the government is further entangled in America’s biggest political fiasco, the PRISM scandal, which has already implicated the US government and numerous top tech multinationals in a massive, legally dubious intelligence data mining programme.
The phenomenon of violent political action has figured prominently in key events of the past year.
These events include the second anniversary of the 25 January popular uprising that toppled the regime of Hosni Mubarak, the 22 March demonstrations in front of Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Moqattam, and, importantly, the expected protests on 30 June marking the first anniversary of the swearing in of President Mohamed Morsi.
The first time I heard of Sasho Bistro (6G El Adel Abu Bakr St., across from the HSBC building) was at this spring’s Taste of Zamalek food fest at the Fish Garden. Having opened in late December 2012, the new Zamalek eatery was only just then hitting its stride. Ahmed Harfoush performed his jazz standards on that lovely Saturday afternoon, and hence it was fitting that the first time I walked into the restaurant itself, it was also with Ahmed. “You have got to try the salmon fried egg,” he said in his usual mischievous manner. “I’m addicted.”
A farce. That is all I can say about the NGO trial verdict that was delivered on 4 June in post-Mubarak, present-Morsi, still-not-revolutionary Egypt.
Here is the verdict, plain and simple. Guilty. Didn’t hear that right? Guilty. Every single defendant on trial in the NGO court case that has been dragging on for more than a year has been found guilty. No one is innocent. Not on a technicality, not on the facts; nothing. They’re all guilty.
Between 1990 and 2010, nearly 1 billion people were pulled out of extreme poverty globally. The Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving global poverty between 2000 and 2015 has been achieved five years early, surpassing the progress seen in achieving any of the other MDGs. This week, key politicians and officials from governments and international agencies will meet to set new targets for the global fight against poverty. In this time of great progress, Egypt has failed where other nations have succeeded.
An acquaintance several weeks ago was in shock, “I got my daughter a bicycle which she parks on the street. Last night I found an old man trying to break its lock. I couldn’t believe it!”
I had had enough of talk about politics, polarisation and media tirades among different political groups in Egypt that go unchecked or pay no heed to media codes of ethics aimed to rein in these distortions. So I decided to withdraw and not participate in these discussions that destroy more than they build.
On a relatively hot summer night, in lieu of nothing, a bunch of revolutionary friends were discussing the state of gloom that has befallen the majority of the population, and came up with a theory: We have all gone through the five stages of grief throughout this revolution. The Denial phase started with the first army attack on the square in March; the Anger Phase started at the 8 April attack until Mohamed Mahmoud Clashes in November; the Bargaining Phase started with the parliamentary elections (vote or boycott) until the presidential elections (vote for which loser/boycott/invalidate) and ended with the constitutional declaration; and then the Depression Phase started in earnest. The debate centred on whether we have entered the Acceptance Phase or whether that will happen if the military commits a coup. I stayed out of the debate, since I was already at stage six, and been there for a while: Moving on and enjoying life. How come? Well, weirdly enough, it all started with President Mohamed Morsi.
Political Islamist movements, at their heart the Muslim Brotherhood, embody sections of society that are mostly found in its middle class. These are also known as “intermediary classes” which usually fall between the upper and lower classes. Remarkably, people belonging to these classes are not socially homogeneous, meaning they are not at the same position in the production process, jobs or income. Political Islamists include merchants, professionals and artisans, but we will not find all of the members of the previous categories.
The Light of the Desert-Documentary on St Macarius Monastery, Egypt