Saturday, September 25, 2010

Updates from Egypt

Allow me to be too lazy to write separate posts about each of the important incidents that have taken place in the land of wonders.
جمال مبارك لن يحكمنا! No to Gamal Mubarak!
The highly anticipated Tuesday 21st of September, Abdin square, or rather a dumpster-turned protest scene. The People's Democratic Movement for Change (Hashd), a leftist movement, called for this protest against the expected presidential-succesion in Egypt. News spread that whoever ventured close to the palace was immediately arrested. So a couple hundred of honest people decided to stand on said dumpster and started chanting anyway. Of course, every now and then protesters were attacked. The most horrifying moment was, though, when we suddenly found a march of fellow-protesters coming toward us. Due to my length, I don't know what happened. But suddenly the whole 200 ppl, backed by 2000 soldiers, were rushing towards me, and I was jolted out of the security cordon. A few tense minutes passed before security forces rearranged themselves and the cordon was large enough to include both groups.

I estimate the protesters to have been around 400 to 500, but it is not only about the numbers. Photos of Gamal Mubarak's photos burning were widely circulated and chants accusing Mubarak senior (oh, man. we actually have to start telling them apart) of trading Jerusalem for his son were shouted. It is the effect of the photos and videos posted that also carries defiance. We do not want to be ruled by Mubarak junior. We do not want to have sham elections no more. We do not want to be ruled by a bunch of businessmen who eat up most of Egypt's wealth and leave the bones for the workers. Or, for that matter, a bunch of businessmen who are able to drown a thousand and thirty four people and manage to flee the country, never to be held accountable. Gamal Mubarak's rule only means more unfair distribution of wealth, more thuggery, more unsaftey, more autocracy, more people dying of torture or negligence. We are already rolling down a steep hill, and Gamal Mubarak will be our rock bottom.

September 22nd, October Courthouse. Judges order the policemen, whom Shadi Maged accuses of torturing him, to be arrested. Reminder: I did assert that this is the land of wonders. So this court order may or may not mean that they're in jail now.

September 25th, second trial of the murderers of Khaled Said. Same silly attempt to intimitade pro-justice protesters. Police gathered a number of thugs, or informers, or random ppl who were bribed to protest for the police. Trial was adjourned to the 23rd of October.
I cannot even imagine how his family must be feeling now. Always hanging their hope on justice, only for justice to be deferred, or hushed, or obliterated.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My name is Wild at Heart and I'm not going to say I'm not a terrorist

In the manner of the movie My Name is Khan (and I am not a Terrorist), the rhetoric of many Muslims around the world has gone like this;
I am veiled but no I am not oppressed.
I am a Muslim but hell no I don't oppress women.
I believe in Allah but I don't flay camels alive
etc etc!
It is as if these Muslims are incessantly apologising for a crime they have never committed. They have grown up to feel, or have been somewhat forced to feel, that they are ALL guilty until proven otherwise. That is why they should continuously deny a crime that no one would accuse them of if they had not brought it up!
Dear Muslim, stand tall and stop saying sorry for the mistakes of others.
Dear non-Musilm, you can simply read one line of the Koran before stereotyping others;
"Do not transgress for God likes not transgressors"
Al-Baqara 190

صدق اللي سماه عيد التحرش

كنت متوقعة إن يحصل تحرشات جماعية في العيد السنة دي، بقى لنا أربع سنين التحرشات الجماعية مقررة علينا وبقت خلاص زي الأكل والشرب والنوم كده، وماتوقعش ليه؟ إيه اللي تغير من 4 سنين؟ ولا حاجة؟ الشرطة اللي هي أحد الأسباب الرئيسية لحالة الفوضى كانت مشغولة بتعتقل أعتى مجرمي هذا العصر اللي هم النشطاء السياسيين
يا حلاوة يا ولاااااااد العيد فرحة فعلاً، سايبين العيال يتحرشوا بالبنات وماسكين تنكيل في النشطاء، هم دول اللي بياخدوا مرتباتهم من ضرايبنا، أنا مش عارفة أقول إيه فعلاً، أنا قلت كل اللي ممكن يتقال، بس مش عايزة أي جحش من هنا ورايح يقول لي إن التحرش ليه علاقة بالكبت الجنسي - كتير من اللي بيتحرشوا لسة مابلغوش أساساً، ولا أي جحش تاني يقول لي البنات هم السبب و90% من المصريات محجبات، ولا أي خرتيت يقول لي إني ببالغ أو إن الموضوع مش سيء زي ما أنا متخيلة
اتفضل إلبس ست يا روح أمك منك له وإبقى قابلني لو عرفت تمشي مسافة عمارتين من غير ما تسمع تعليق أو حد يبص لك بصة غير بريئة أو يعمل نفسه بيتكلم في التليفون مع حد وتبقى عارف إنه بيتكلم عليك
جتكوا القرف كلكوا تستاهلوا جمال يدوس على راس اللي خلفوكوا
وساعتها إن شاء الله هكون مت بالنقطة أو سبت أم البلد دي

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Egyptian Police on Trial for Torture, Again

The "usual" item of news is, a group of policemen decided to randomly stop a young man called Shadi Maged in the street and check his IDs. They told him to accompany them to the police station, which he refused, simply because he was not accused of any crime. Of course they started hitting him and kidnapped him to the station, where he was repeatedly beaten and abused for ten whole days. He would pass out under torture, only to come about and be tortured again. He told the prosecutors what happened, but even this did not save him. The policemen falsely accused him of theft and drug possession. After months of ordeal, threats and detaining him with his wife and toddler for four days, he was finally released.

The unusual item of news is, Shadi refused to let the abuses go unquestioned. He identified the names of three high-ranking policemen who were involved in his torture and decided to file a lawsuit against them. The first session was on September 1st, and it was adjourned to the 22nd of the same month.

This means that Egyptian police will witness quite an embarassing week this month. On the same week, precisely on the 25th of September, the second session in the high-profile case of the murder of Khaled Said takes place.

I'd like to point to a detail that may seem secondary. In the case of Khaled Said, the policemen behind bars until now are low-ranking policemen whom witnesses saw beat Khaled to death. The high-ranking policeman, Ahmad Othman, who reportedly ordered the attack, somehow avoided being accused. He gave the prosecution a silly alibi of being on a vacation the night Khaled died, as if he could not order the killing by mobile phone. In the case of Shadi, however, all of the defendants are high-ranking policemen, which may make it more difficult to make them pay for forever traumatising an innocent man.

Both judges and policemen are elitist. In recent years, poor or middle class Egyptians have been the overwhelming majority of targets of torture and abuse. Judges pass more severe sentences against poor people. For instance, a boatman received a ten year sentence when his crumbling boat capsised and killed a bunch of girls, whereas powerful businessman Mamdouh Ismail recieved a fleeting 7 years when one thousand and thirty four people died in the February 2006 Ferry disaster, a sentence he will not even do, having easily escaped soon after the disaster. Similarly, policemen most probably mistreat people from the working class or underprivilidged people. I cannot imagine Hisham Talaat Mustafa being mistreated at any point during his detention.

This is why I implore upon everyone reading this post to blog about Shadi's case, link to this post on your twitter and or Facebook accounts or to the original story in Arabic, attend the second session, do something. Anything. This case has got to be known, for visbility is one way of attaining power.