‏إظهار الرسائل ذات التسميات Egyptian Army. إظهار كافة الرسائل
‏إظهار الرسائل ذات التسميات Egyptian Army. إظهار كافة الرسائل

2/21/2014

'The Square' Film On Egypt's Revolution Will Not Be Shown In #Egypt #Tahrir #25jan

There’s a lot anyone can learn from Jehane Noujaim’s Oscar-nominated documentary “The Square,” an examination of the 18-day uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.




But Egyptians may be least able to benefit from its lessons. So far, the film has not been approved for screening here.
On the third anniversary of Mubarak’s ouster, which falls on Tuesday (Feb. 11), Egypt is more polarized than ever, largely between those who are sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood and those who support the military. The film is a reminder of what Egyptians share, regardless of religious or political beliefs.
“The Square” depicts the uprising through the eyes of six revolutionaries who lived in Tahrir Square during those historic weeks and follows them as Egyptians struggled to redefine themselves. Mubarak’s ouster ushered in a tumultuous period that saw clashes with the military, the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, the return to the streets to demand the deposal of the Muslim Brotherhood’s President Mohammed Morsi, and the sit-ins that followed Morsi’s overthrow by the army.
The film, available to American audiences on Netflix and in theaters, ends with the clearing of the Morsi supporters’ encampment, which resulted in nearly 1,000 deaths. Since then, the Brotherhood has been outlawed and people have been arrested for simply possessing Brotherhood materials, now a crime.
Noujaim, 39, is an accomplished documentarian and TED Prize winner whose credits include “Startup.com” and “Control Room,” a film about the Al-Jazeera network. “The Square,” though, is not a film that intends to accurately and journalistically represent all factions. Noujaim, an Egyptian-American who spent much of her childhood in Egypt, lived on Tahrir Square with her characters during the revolution. In many ways, she is one of them, and “The Square” is her contribution to the revolution.
The film depicts those historic events from the revolutionary’s point of view. There were hundreds of thousands of people in the square; Noujaim chose to follow the ones she was intrigued by, trusting that viewers would do the same.
Two of the most captivating characters are Ahmed Hassan, a young street revolutionary, and Magdy Ashour, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and a father of four who, under Mubarak, was imprisoned and tortured. Despite their differing backgrounds and perspectives, the two become fast friends, and the exchanges between them provide some of the film’s most compelling moments.
Through Ashour viewers get a nuanced view of the Brotherhood and its army of foot soldiers, a stark contrast to the heavy-handed, black-and-white demonization of them in Egyptian media of late. Ashour had been a loyal member of the Brotherhood for decades, attracted to its religiosity and benefiting from its financial support. After it seized power, he began to question some of its decisions, which left him conflicted.
When Morsi was first elected, many Egyptians opted for Muslim rule. But that feeling didn’t last long. Only 150 days into his presidency, Morsi made a power grab that gave him even more authority than Mubarak.
The revolutionaries were upset with his autocratic maneuvers and with the new constitution that the Islamist-dominated parliament drafted, which they considered a betrayal of the ideals they had fought for. Noujaim said she spoke to many ordinary Egyptians during that time — many of them practicing Muslims — who were “deeply disturbed” that the ruling party was now determining who constituted a good Muslim.
Ashour is visibly torn in the film between the revolutionaries, whose principles he, too, had stood for, and the Brotherhood. He found himself increasingly at odds with Hassan and his other friends from the square.
“If there were an alternative, I wouldn’t want Morsi,” he says at one point in the film. “We’re afraid that if Morsi falls we’ll be taken back to prisons,” Ashour said.
One of the film’s most poignant moments comes a short time later when British-Egyptian actor Khalid Abdalla sits with Ashour and his son and shows them video of Muslim Brotherhood members attacking protesters outside the presidential palace, some of the very same people who had been in Tahrir with Ashour.
Ashour’s son had gone to the presidential palace that day, and was on the side of the Brotherhood throwing rocks at their opponents. Ashour looks mournful, and chastises his son for his actions: “You have to stand as an individual,” Ashour tells the boy. “You have to think for yourself.”
It is Ashour and his conflict that resonated most strongly with some of the film’s most conservative and religious audiences in the United States.
When Noujaim took the film to Sundance, some of the screenings were in downtown Salt Lake City and attended by Mormons and ex-Mormons. They, as well as evangelicals, came up to the filmmakers after showings and said that, despite initially thinking they had the least in common with Ashour, it was he whom they related to the most. They identified with his deep faith, his trust in the fledgling government, and his ultimate disillusionment. Those feelings transcended culture and creed.
“We are all confused sometimes, and we question our beliefs,” Noujaim said.
Once Morsi was overthrown and the Brotherhood was again the victim of state oppression, that changed.
“Once they were persecuted, Ashour was immediately back on their side,” she said.
His rueful words all those months ago now seem prescient. Authorities recently raided his house, and he is reportedly in hiding.
Noujaim said she is not one of those filmmakers who believes her work can change the world. Perhaps, though, it can make a difference in what’s happening in Egypt today. Noujaim, who is currently in the U.S., hopes to be able to bring the movie to Egypt.
But “The Square” has already thawed some icy relations in the places it’s been shown. Noujaim said she spoke to an Egyptian woman in the United States who had seen “The Square” on Netflix, and decided to bring her family to a screening.
Like many other Egyptian families, they were so divided over events that relatives weren’t talking to one another. Seeing the film together enabled them to find enough understanding for one another’s viewpoints to enable them to begin to communicate once again, the woman told Noujaim.
And therein lies perhaps the most salient lesson of the film, particularly for Egyptians.
“We are all human beings,” Noujaim said. “Reminding ourselves of our humanity is a very simple idea, but I think it couldn’t be more important right now.”

As #Egypt 's Tourism Industry Crumbles, Business Owners Look To Military General To Restore Security

When Egyptians rose up against their government three years ago, it wasn’t just dictator Hosni Mubarak’s reign that crumbled. The mass protests, political instability, and now, increasingly frequent terrorist attacks, have devastated Egypt’s once-thriving tourism sector.

For many Egyptians still working in the industry today, there is only one answer to their problems: Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who is gearing up for a likely presidential bid and is seen as a leader who will bring back security to businesses.
"Sissi is the only man who can solve Egypt’s problems," said Emad Nour, a third-generation shopkeeper in Cairo’s sprawling Khan el-Khalili bazaar, where tourists used to flock before the unrest began. "He can fix the security problem here."
Nour once made a decent living making intricate tables, traditional lamps and other handmade items that often attract tourists. But nowadays he, like many other vendors, has barely anyone coming to his shop.
"We depend on tourism," he said with dismay. "If there are no tourists, our lives are not good." Lots of stores around him have closed down, he said, adding that many shop owners have given up and changed professions entirely.
At Cairo’s ancient Giza Pyramids, which used to be swarming with foreigners, desperate vendors and guides with skinny horses now harass the occasional straggling tourists. Buses carrying tourists from the capital to resort towns along the Red Sea now travel in armed convoys through the restive Sinai, where hardline militants have launched a campaign against security forces. Once bustling hotels and youth hostels are eerily quiet.
From 2009 to 2010, before the revolution, Egypt took in $11.6 billion from tourism,according to Reuters. But 2012 to 2013 were marked by a devastating dip in tourism, with Egypt only earning $9.75 billion from the industry. Following the military's ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi last year, tourism fell by a whopping 45 percent, Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou told Reuters.
Under the military-backed government, unrest has surged. In recent weeks alone,gunmen assassinated a top government figure, a jihadist group targeted security forces in Cairo with four bombs, and dozens of anti-government protesters have been killed in clashes with police.
On Jan. 29, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo urged its citizens to "limit their movements to the near vicinity of their neighborhoods," warning against traveling outside of Egypt’s cities by car. And many governments, like the United States and the United Kingdom, have issued travel alerts for Egypt.
Thousands of dissidents have been imprisoned, and rights groups and critics have slammed the interim government as repressive and increasingly authoritarian. Yet despite a heavy-handed crackdown on what the state has labeled a "war on terrorism," many Egyptians, especially those working in tourism, say forceful rule is the only way to restore security.
"We need a man who can stabilize everything," said Abdel Rahman Aly, a tourism company owner. "I’m against a man with a military background, but there is no one else."
In Egypt, Sissi is portrayed as a national hero. Posters bearing his face are plastered everywhere. Pro-government protesters who rallied on Jan. 25, the three-year anniversary of the revolution, didn’t chant revolutionary slogans of "bread, freedom, and social justice." Instead, they wore Sissi masks and praised the military leader for cracking down on violence.
"This man is an idol," Aly said. "If that works for everyone else, that works for me."
Aly says the only reason his company is still afloat is because he has started coordinating international trips for Egyptians, having largely given up on foreigners coming to the country. But with military checkpoints everywhere and a very real fear of terrorist attacks, the success of even this venture seems improbable.
Unlike Aly, some have their doubts that Sissi can up live to the expectations of his cult-like followers.
"The notion that Sissi can curb terrorist attacks is odd in my view," said Shadi Hamid, a Middle East analyst and fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center. "Under Sissi, over the last seven months, terrorist attacks have increased significantly. Brute force seems to be his approach to dealing with things -- but that’s not how you defeat terrorism."
Dr. Kareem Eltamamy, the owner of Dahab Hostel, a once bustling youth hostel just a short walk from Tahrir Square, agrees with that sentiment.
"If Sissi became president, the Muslim Brotherhood or whoever is making these explosions will just become more angry," he said, mirroring popular consensus that the Islamist group is behind the attacks, even though a Sinai-based jihadist group has claimed responsibility for most of the recent terrorist attacks across Egypt.
Eltamamy said his hostel, which is widely known among backpackers and budget travelers in Egypt, doesn't come close to reaching capacity on a good day. He describes the past few months in a single word: "hell." Unlike many Egyptians who wholly believe in Sissi’s promise to quell the violence, he doesn’t think the current security situation, or the tourism sector, will turn around anytime soon.
But after three years of tumult, he said he doesn’t know how it could get much worse.
Eltamamy recently poured money into remodeling his hostel, hoping to draw in tourists from the "adventurous" crowd he says now occasionally comes through. But so far, it hasn’t helped.
"Nobody wants to go to a country that is exploding," he said with a sigh.

2/12/2014

The #Sisi Spring #Egypt


Over the past two months in Egypt, any alternative to the presidency of Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has all but disappeared from the political horizon. Indeed, by not ruling out his own candidacy in clear and definitive terms, Sisi has (perhaps partly inadvertently) effectively discouraged any viable alternative from emerging and made his assumption of office virtually inevitable. 

But if the domestic picture is clear, an international consensus that is nearly as strong has also emerged: A Sisi presidency will start with strong popular support but will have difficulty meeting popular expectations. Its policy orientation remains problematically unclear and would be unlikely to deliver sufficiently to retain the initial wave of enthusiasm. I do not question that international consensus in its broadest terms. A couple days after the 2013 coup, I wrote: "We now have some idea how long a honeymoon any Egyptian leader has: less than a year." But now I think I went too far. Regardless of its policy performance, I am very doubtful that Sisi's presidency will be a disaster like Morsi's. It may disappoint many but it is unlikely to collapse and might evolve in a variety of ways. Its shape will be determined in part by how he and Egyptians answer three questions about the new political era.
1.    Will anything bloom during the Sisi spring?
Past presidential successions in Egypt have brought limited but still quite real periods of liberalization. Hosni Mubarak began his presidency by meeting with some of the intellectuals and opposition figures whom his late predecessor had just arrested. And that predecessor -- Anwar Sadat -- had been shocked, completely shocked, to discover upon entering office that domestic surveillance was taking place in Egypt and publicly burned tapes of conversations. Indeed, this is not an Egyptian pattern only -- Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali showed Tunisians a far kinder, gentler face when seizing the presidency in 1987 than he did a few years later; even Bashar al-Assad began more benign ophthalmologist than ruthless dictator during his brief "Damascus spring," a real if similarly limited and short-lived period of slightly freer public discussions.
There are some good reasons why autocrats try not to put a jack-booted foot forward first. First, a political opening helps establish a good clean start and distinguish, at least briefly, their liberality from the predecessor's harshness. Henry Hale has described an even more profound dynamic for new leaders in what he calls "patronal presidentialism" -- a golden opportunity to "move to strip rival groups (sometimes including their own former coalition allies) of power and assets -- this is often done, sincerely or not, under the banner of ‘rooting out corruption.'" 
Sisi will likely feel such factors though a bit more lightly than his predecessors. He will come in with his popularity already high and does not have the same need to build a name for himself. There are no obvious challengers to threaten his presidency, even if there are some figures and institutions with bloody hands from which he might want to distance himself. And Sisi, as a political figure, has emerged very much a product of one of Egypt's leading institutions (the military). And the new political order, which is propelling him to lead it, has the strong support of other strong state institutions.
But that point leads to a factor that might operate unusually strongly in Sisi's case: While his popularity seems quite strong inside the country, the new regime's name is mud internationally. In order to understand why, it pays to take note of a dramatic asymmetry between how Egypt's political situation is perceived domestically and internationally. Inside Egypt, most people who are allowed to articulate their views in public applaud the new order and allegations of international attempts to divide the country are as legion as they are loopy. Internationally, diplomats, pundits, academics, and journalists tend to shake their heads at how it is the country's new leadership's actions are driving the society in divisive and troublesome directions. The darker view of the situation is not confined to democracy and human rights advocates. What troubles international observers is not merely the large number of dead Egyptians or the literally uncounted arrested upon whom the new rulers have built their rule. Arrests, indiscriminate force, and hysterical media do make for rather depressing reports from human rights organizations and dreary news stories.
But what has struck me in policy-oriented discussions in different settings outside of Egypt is how a broad consensus is emerging that the new regime is not merely without a plan to deal with Egypt's political woes but is actively aggravating them. International observers tend to use words like "mindless" and "inexplicable" to describe the pattern of repression. While Egyptian officials blame domestic terrorism on the Muslim Brotherhood, international observers are more likely to take the view that it is the Egyptian leadership's policies that are transforming a regional nuisance in Sinai into a nationwide insurgency.
A Sisi spring might become a bit more pronounced if he decides the outside observers have a point. And while Egypt's institutions now act stridently, carelessly, and with a sense of impunity in support of the new order, there may be some long-term costs to their reputations in the hitherto uncritical domestic scene as well. It is not merely that the security services have returned to their most bullying ways; it is the way they proudly parade their misdeeds in public -- leaking tapes and transcripts of all kinds of innocuous conversations. The release of a videotape of the bizarre raid on the "Marriott cell" of Al Jazeera English journalists provoked a measure of international outrage coupled with a degree of mirth for the melodramatic soundtrack. But drawing less attention has been a whole series of domestic leaks -- including one of a discussion between former President Mohamed Morsi and his attorney. The shameless public violation of the attorney-client relationship (one sufficiently egregious that it would likely bring most professional prosecutors to despair of pursuing a case) has provoked few public murmurs of discomfort in Egypt -- for now. But in an environment in which officials have no shame, they have left a paper, audio, video, and virtual trail that might come back to haunt them in calmer times. Even now, it is not unusual to find some officials from state institutions evincing some reservations in private conversations. Such voices might grow and professionalism could come to trump panic in a more stable political environment. Sometimes such discomfort seeps into public view, such as when the leaders of the religious establishment distanced themselves from a pronouncement by the media-oriented imam of the Omar Makram mosque that a spouse's Muslim Brotherhood membership was cause for divorce or from another religious scholar (Sad al-Din al-Hilali, somewhat of a maverick but also a member of the committee drafting the new constitution) who seemed to compare Sisi to the prophets.
The wheels of repression might turn with a bit more difficulty and the mechanics of regime propaganda provoke more embarrassment than support unless corrective action is taken.
So some kind of Sisi spring is likely. But its contours right now are hazy. It will, to be sure, be restricted in extent, tactical in intent, and perhaps limited in time. But the most significant limitation may be formed by the political context: Not all the cards are in his hands and his most vociferous opponents will be difficult to placate. While Sadat and Mubarak faced little organized dissent, with dissident intellectuals and disgruntled leading officials their strongest threat, Sisi will face an angry and determined opposition, one unlikely to be placated with a renewed newspaper license or an appearance on state media or two. True national reconciliation would be a major project and require concessions from both Islamists and rulers that neither show much interest in (and that the former may already slowly be losing their ability to make). I have noted the dangerously dark mood in the Islamist camp elsewhere.
2.     What will happen when Sisi pulls the levers of state power?
Sisi is stepping into a presidency that has seen some of its authority scaled back -- especially its ability to control other state institutions. His former colleagues in the military will pick Sisi's minister of defense. Of course, it is clear that Sisi is making arrangements right now to keep his former home in reliable hands, and a significant continued level of military support for his presidency is likely. But his relationship with his former colleagues may gradually change in ways that are difficult to predict right now.
Other parts of the "wide state" also have some legal and constitutional tools to strike out more on their own than they have in the past. The security apparatus -- or forest of security agencies and intelligence services -- show every sign now of answering to nobody but their own undemanding consciences, as well as their senses of mission and grievances nursed carefully over the past three years.
The religious establishment, formerly under the control of figures who were not only presidentially selected but also in close rivalry with each other, is now under the more centralized control of the senior leadership of al-Azhar, with a degree of institutional autonomy unrealized for decades. Various judicial bodies have also attained a decree of autonomy that they had been merely dreaming of in past eras.
Of course, the presidency will not be devoid of tools over the various parts of the state apparatus. It will likely dominate the parliament and thus have a strong voice over legislation, the composition of the cabinet, and the budget. Even if the president's appointment power has declined, these various bodies will become supplicants for funds. Al-Azhar has ambitions to extend its voice farther throughout Egyptian society, for instance, and cannot do so without generous state support.
Political dynamics within the Egyptian state apparatus are hardly likely to be transparent. Since July 3 (well, maybe a bit before), these institutions have been united by a common mentality -- so much so that it is difficult to understand how much the new regime is centrally controlled or coordinated. Such ambiguity will likely continue after Sisi's election, augmented by a presidency that traditionally does not publicly micro-manage the state apparatus and strives to appear above the fray in public. Sisi's own public posture thus far has been very much in line with such a tradition -- he speaks out rarely and when he breaks his silence, he is stronger on sentiment than on policy pronouncement. So Egyptians are unlikely to see precisely who is pulling on the sinews of state authority but much political discussion will likely involve trading rumors on precisely this subject.
3.    Has Egyptian society been depoliticized?
In the years before the 2011 uprising, many Egyptians found their political voice. A culture of outspoken criticism and protest struck root and took embryonic organizational form not merely in demonstrations and wildcat strikes but also in broader political movements and independent trade unions. But since 2011, organized political life has actually grown weaker. Formal political parties have multiplied in number but shown little vitality; the large protest movements have been sidelined and suppressed; and various Islamist movements (and not merely the Brotherhood) -- any of the backers of "legitimacy," i.e. Morsi's presidency -- receive popular loathing and official treatment that ranges from petty harassment to murderous. Independent trade unions have seen one of their leaders (the current minister of labor) spearhead a reassertion of the old state-dominated structures.
Is the current atmosphere a product of a hysterical popular mood (which state bodies harness for their own ends), or is a longer-term trend at work against the politicization of Egyptian society? If Sisi gradually disappoints -- or, more likely, if the cabinet seems unresponsive, the parliament ineffectual, the bureaucracy inert, and the security services arrogant -- will the result be a return to popular mobilization or instead the kind of grumbling and despair that characterized Egyptian society in previous decades?
Even after two visits to Egypt over the past two months, I remain uncertain. Much public political discourse directs anger at Morsi and the Brotherhood, but private discussions can sometimes be thoughtful and more nuanced, leading me to believe that for all the bizarre content of much public discussion, Sisi will still face a more sophisticated and demanding audience than Egypt's previous military presidents.
Nathan J. Brown is a professor of political science and international affairs at the George Washington University, non-resident senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and author of When Victory is Not an Option: Islamist Movements in Arab Politics (Cornell University Press, 2012).

11/20/2013

12 killed in soldiers’ bus rammed by #Sinai suicide car bomber #Egypt

A suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden car into one of two buses carrying off-duty soldiers in Egypt’s turbulent northern Sinai region, killing 10 and seriously wounding 35, military officials said.

They said the bomber struck as the buses travelled between the border town of Rafah and the coastal city of el-Arish. The explosion damaged bothvehicles. The 10 victims were the bus’s driver, three members of a security detail and six of the off-duty soldiers, according to a statement by Colonel Mohammed Ahmed Ali, a military spokesman.
“The precious blood of our sons strengthens our resolve to cleanse Egypt and shield its sons from violence and treacherous terrorism,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
--> 


The wounded were being treated in military hospitals, he said.

The soldiers belong to the 2nd Field Army, which is doing most of the fighting against Islamic militants waging an insurgency against security forces in Sinai. The buses were on their way to Cairo, the officials said.
The northern Sinai region, which borders Gaza and Israel, has been restless for years, but attacks have grown more frequent and deadlier since Islamist President Mohammed Morsi was ousted in July.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but suicide car bombings are a signature method by militant groups linked to or inspired by al-Qaida. It was the latest in a series of similar attacks targeting army and police facilities and checkpoints. In August, gunmen pulled 25 police conscripts off minibuses in the Sinai and shot them dead by the side of the main road linking Rafah to el-Arish.
Northern Sinai’s violence occasionally has spilled over into cities in the southern part of the peninsula as well as mainland Egypt, targeting police, soldiers and politicians. In September, the Interior Minister, who is in charge of the police, survived an assassination attempt by a suicide carbomber. Earlier this week, a senior security officer who monitors Islamist groups, including Mr Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, was shot dead as he drove in Cairo’s eastern Nasr City district.
-->

9/12/2013

Islamists in #Egypt

Since the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak, Islamists and liberals have quarreled over the country’s religious tenor.

 Sept. 2011

Mohammad Tolba, 32, seen here leading a prayer, founded Salafyo Costa shortly after the revolution. The movement, named after a popular, upscale coffeehouse chain, seeks to improve the image of Salafists, conservative Muslims who were demonized by the former regime.

 Nov. 18, 2011
For months, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has driven with fierce determination and the fundamentalist group is expected to dominate in the parliamentary elections.



 Nov. 18, 2011
But the Brotherhood stayed on the sidelines of last week's furious protests, hurting its image among many Egyptians, and the chaos will undermine the legitimacy of the vote no matter who the winner.



 Nov. 19, 2011 A protester gestures as Egyptian riot police stand guard in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt

 Nov. 20, 2011
An Egyptian policeman gestures under a banner supporting Ashraf Mustafa Hussien, an ultraconservative Salafi candidate for the Parliamentary elections, in Cairo, Egypt.

July 29, 2011
Tens of thousands of Egyptians packed Tahrir Square, with Islamist groups dominating a demonstration that had been intended to show unity during a fragile transition from ousted president Hosni Mubarak's regime.



July 29, 2011
An Egyptian protester waves a Saudi Arabian flag at Tahrir Square. Thousands gathered to show that Islamists and secularists were united in wanting change, though divisions remain on how hard to press the military rulers about the pace and depth of reforms. Muslim chants such as "There is no God but God" and "Islamiya, Islamiya" dominated. Some waved banners saying "Islamic Egypt."



July 29, 2011
A protester from a Salafist group shouts Koranic verses as he holds an Egyptian flag with the words, "There is no God but God and Mohammad is his prophet" in Tahrir Square.



July 29, 2011
Egyptian veiled women wave an Egyptian flag under their sun shade at Tahrir Square, the focal point of the Egyptian uprising, in Cairo. Thousands rallied seeking to unify their demands despite rifts over key issues between liberal activists and Islamist groups.

July 29, 2011
Egyptian demonstrators rally in downtown Cairo's Tahrir square.