Feb 21, 2011

Corruption during the Mubarak Regime

One of the major factors, which let to the January 25 Revolution, is CORRUPTION. It reached its peak during the last decade.

Since the collapse of the Mubarak regime on February 11, the local and international press began to publish reports on the corruption of both, high governmental officials and of business people, who cooperated in their abuse of state and public wealth. According to Transparency International and British newspaper (Guardian, 203/2011) the Mubarak’s family wealth was estimated between $40-70 billion. However, during a press interview (Al Masry al Yom 2/20/2011) the new Prime Minister Ahmad Shafiq stated that Mubarak’s family wealth is the responsibility of the Supreme Council of the Armed forces and not the responsibility of his office. This was indeed an ambiguous statement that was received with sarcasm. Furthermore, many high officials starting with the previous Prime Minister A. Nathif and several members of his cabinet are presently under investigation; their assets have been frozen and they are prevented from leaving the country.

The Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Alyom (2/3/2011) listed the following previous government officials and their estimated wealth:

  • 1.   Ahmad el Maghrabi, previous minister of housing, whose assets are listed at $11 billion Egyptian pounds
  • 2.   Zuhair Garanah, previous minister of tourism, whose assets are listed at $13 billion Egyptian pounds
  • 3.   Habib el Adly, previous minister of interior, whose assets are listed at $8 billion Egypt pounds
  • 4.   Ahmed Ezz, previous director of the Egyptian ruling party (NPD) whose assets are listed at $18 billion Egyptian pounds

They were all arrested on February 18, 2011, and under strict rules of investigation.

Others such as Rashid M. Rashid, minister of trade, Youssef Boutros Ghali minister of the treasury, Ouns el Fiqi minister of information are also under investigation but have not been arrested yet. There are others who served in previous cabinets and who are on the suspect list of the General Prosecutor. The latter has issued an order preventing all suspects from leaving the country.

 Those with less financial assets such as between 1.5-3 billion pounds were also prevented from leaving Egypt. There are some other well known business men connected to the ruling party whose names were mentioned as having been granted thousands of feddans (acres) of land to be cultivated and instead the land was used to build luxurious compounds and tourism villages. The loss from such deals to the government was estimated to be 80 billion Egyptian pounds. As of February 21, the number of government officials and business people listed for corruption were 25.

To ensure that no one will flee the country, the transitional government has issued an order forbidding private planes to leave. Furthermore, the Egyptian Airport Security has stopped the shipment of one ton of foreign currency on two foreign airlines that were on their way to Germany and Switzerland. The owner or owners of these shipments were never revealed.

The Arab International Exchange Bank headed by the previous prime minister Atef ‘Ebeid, and which was not subject to international banking rules, transferred, last week, large sums of money as it was reported by the Egyptian newspaper Al Shorouk (2/9/2011). This financial institution is owned by Egypt, Libya, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman, and the depositors were mainly business people. The bank is now under investigation by the General Prosecutor.

It is important to bring up the fact that Egypt’s foreign debt is $35 billion and the national debt has been estimated at 800 billion Egyptian pounds, which is close to $200 billion. Second, the estimated money laundering to foreign financial institutions exceeds Egypt’s total debts. Many Western banks have begun to freeze the assets of Egyptians under investigation.

The question is how much of that stolen wealth is to be returned to Egypt? This remains to be seen.

Feb 20, 2011

March of Victory

Friday, February 18th the crowd in Tahrir Square was estimated to be close to 3 million people. They have all responded to a call from the young revolutionaries.
The objectives of the mass gathering were to celebrate the VICTORY of January 25th to remember those who sacrificed their lives to free Egypt from an authoritarian regime.

Furthermore, they reiterated their demands for reforms such as:
.         The release of political prisoners
.         The lifting of emergency law and curfew
.         The replacement of Prime Minister Shafiq’s cabinet which
          still consists of the previous regime’s ministers
.         The dissolution of the National Democratic Party (NPD), which has always rigged the parliamentary elections
.         The drafting of a new constitution replacing that of 1971 which put 60% of the government power in the president’s hands
.         The creation of a parliamentary government in which the prime minister is elected rather than appointed by the president
.         The inclusion in the constitution of the terms, FREEDOM of EXPRESSION, EQUALITY and SOCIAL JUSTICE

Sheikh Youssef el Qaradawi, chairman of the Association
of International Muslim Scholars, led the Friday noon prayer.
He began by blessing the young revolutionaries, the
Egyptian people in general, and the military forces for their
support of the revolution. He further extended his blessing and
admiration of Muslims and Christians who stood side by side in
support of the revolution. Qaradawi then stressed the peaceful
aspect of this revolution that became a model admired all over
the world.  

Qaradawi could not prevent himself from interjecting a
wishful political request. He hoped that the military forces
would open the gate between Gaza and Egypt in order to ease
the hardship the Palestinians are facing in Gaza.

In my opinion, Qaradawi’s speech can be equated to Dr. Martin
Luther King’s famous speech in the 1960s. However, a note of
criticism should be added to what happened after Qaradawi’s
sermon. His body guard prevented Wael Ghoneim, a principal
instigator of the revolution, to reach the platform and address
the crowd! This was a blunder from Qaradawi’s entourage. One
wonders if he himself was aware of it.

The rest of day was spent joyfully and in a celebratory mood.
The army was distributing the Egyptian flags to the crowd amassed in Tahrir square. Music was blasting in every corner
and people were singing in unison all types of songs. This
celebration was repeated in many other Egyptian cities.

Today, Sunday February 20th, banks are resuming their work, and some private schools are open. There seems to be a return to some normality. Let us hope that the transitional government fulfills its promise for reforms and  to abolish all corruptions.

Feb 18, 2011

The Political Domino Game

As expected the revolutionary political development that occurred in Tunis and Egypt has its repercussions in other Arab countries. Most probably changes from authoritarian to democratic rule will ultimately occur in most of the Arab states.

The following is an introduction to the latest uprisings in the Arab world as they occur daily.

In Jordan the masses are calling for political reforms, solutions for the high unemployment rate, poverty and corruption. The continuous protest led to the resignation of Al Rifa’i government and the nomination of Al Bakhit as Prime Minister responsible to form a new cabinet.

University students, who vociferously participated in the demonstration, are calling for the establishment of a new Constitutional Monarchy. Such wishful change would limit the king’s authority and would allow the election of a prime minister who is presently nominated by the king. Furthermore, they are calling for a change in the law dealing with the election of the parliament’s members. The last election that took place a few months ago was rigged similar to the parliamentary election in Egypt.

In Bahrain the protestors are facing a savage repression from security forces that lead to the death of 4 protestors and more than 200 injured. The majority of the protestors are members of the Bahraini Shi’a who constitute two third of the population. The remaining one third consists of Sunni who are in control of the government. The Parliament consists of 18 shi’a members out of a total of 40 members. This parliamentary minority ceased to participate in the Parliament protesting government’s discrimination against the Shi’a community. They are demanding free election and the resignation of the Prime Minister who happens to be the uncle of the Bahraini King. The security forces are using tear gas to disperse the protestors. According to a government spokesman, the army moved in to control the protestors in Manama and to prevent a sectarian civil war.

The public in Yemen has also been demonstrating against President Ali A. Saleh demanding his resignation, despite his recent declaration for not running again in 2013! He did not reform the country in spite of his ruling for 33 years. The people are demanding an end to corruption and unemployment, which exceeds 40%. Similarly the protestors are facing attacks form the Yemeni security and from policemen in civilian clothing. The protestors did not relinquish their position and their demands in spite of the use of force and tear gas to disperse them. The news has recently reported the death of 11 protestors and of more than 40 injured.

Libya is another Arab country where the cadence of the domino game is applied. Colonel M. Al Qathafi has been in power for 43 years! The Libyans are demanding his removal and an end to his family’s political influence in Libya. Similarly to other Arab countries the protestors’ wish is to have free elections that will lead to a democratic society.

It seems that all security forces in the uprising countries have a secret pact as to their treatment of protestors. In Libya, similar to other countries, the security used extreme force to subdue the demonstrators.

Other protest movements are taking place in Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, Syria and Iraq.

The factors that fueled the protests in the Arab countries are all the same: the absence of democracy, high rate of unemployment, poverty, corruption, lack of freedom of expression.

It is obvious that the era of authoritarian rulers has come, and will come, to an end. It is the end of a period where foreign colonial power has prevailed since WW II and where corruption has erupted.

The Arab world is the last among other regions in the world that is struggling for freedom and democracy. There is no doubt that in the near future democracy will triumph.

Feb 17, 2011

Daily Exposé from Egypt

The Young People’s January 25th Revolutionary Committee met with members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to discuss their progressive demands. The leadership of the Council has asked the Committee to submit their agenda in writing. The demands were submitted with a request that they will be implemented within the next 6-9 months to include the following 11points:

  1. ·      The dissolution of the old Parliament (1971), and the drafting of the new Constitution that emphasizes democracy and the establishment of a parliamentarian government that will limit the authority of the elected president
  2. ·      The separation of governmental powers allowing them to function independently from each other
  3. ·      The cancellation of the Emergency Law and abolishing of military courts
  4. ·      The resignation of Dr. Ahmad Shafiq’s Cabinet and the appointment of a new cabinet headed by an independent, honest, and objective person to lead the transitional government until elections take place
  5. ·      Lowering the age of candidates running for the parliament to 25, and for those running for president to 35
  6. ·      Allowing people to establish democratic labor unions, other organization unions, and student unions
  7. ·      Allow freedom of the press and free election of its representatives and the release of all political prisoners
  8. ·      The dissolution of the previous ruling party (NDP), and the confiscation of the party assets, if proven illegally obtained, and turned it to the treasury of the Egyptian government
  9. ·      The dissolution of the ignoble office of the government’s national investigative security and to abolish sending draftees to that office to fulfill their draft duties
  10. ·      The implementation of all court orders issued prior to the Revolution of January 25th, such as the request to expel government security officers from universities and colleges
  11. ·      The drafting of a new law to allow, in the next few months, the establishment of different political parties that guaranty their freedom, and the dissolution of all local councils in the different Egyptian governorates since they were established undemocratically

The above requests were submitted by the leadership of the Young Revolutionaries to the transitional government of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.  Let us hope they will be taken into consideration seriously.

More to follow about the daily political developments in Egypt.

This was written in collaboration between Hani Fakhouri and Aleya Rouchdy

Feb 16, 2011

Daily Developments in Egypt

The collapse of the Mubarak regime on Friday 11, 2011, ushered the Egyptians into a new and brighter future.

Joy and optimism is prevailing all over the country. One has the feeling that Egypt is reborn. The young revolutionaries have already removed the barriers in Tahrir Square and began cleaning the area that was their center of protest for 18 days.

The young generation that sparked the freedom movement succeeded in a way that no one has ever predicted. The movement turned into a white and peaceful revolution. It astonished the whole world.
Its impact will be felt in countries where authoritarian rule is still predominant, particularly in the Arab world. Actually recent upheavals are reported daily in Algeria, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan and Libya

The young protestors’ leaders in co-operation with other groups have decided to establish a Trustee Committee consisting of 25 members that will be the link with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to see that their demands will be fulfilled. They have also called for a million protestors to gather in Tahrir Square Friday 17. The purpose of which is to remember those who have lost their life for a cause, which is the freedom and democracy of the Egyptian people. They also want to celebrate the achievement of some of their demands:

1.   The removal of Hosni Mubarak
2.   The dissolution of the Parliament and the Shoura Council
3.   The freezing of the Constitution which will be followed by a review
4.   The investigation of the corruption of   government officials and businessmen

The protestors have other demands that are not yet fulfilled such as:

  • 1. The release of all political prisoners, whose number has exceeded 10,000.
  • 2. The lifting of Emergency Law which the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has promised to remove as soon as normal life is resumed.
  • 3. The establishment of a new transitional government that has nothing to do with the old regime.
  • 4. The punishment of those responsible for the attack on Wednesday, February 5, that led to the death of 300 young peaceful revolutionaries.

A representative group of the young generation including Wael Ghoneim has met with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to discuss the protestors’ demands. The Council has requested a written report from the group outlining their views and visions of the expected reforms. The report will be submitted this week to the Council. This representative group has also specified to the Council their lack of interest in participating in the new government. However, the group expressed a strong wish for the establishment of a secular and progressive type of government.

One should add that in this transitional period that follows the revolution, the Egyptian army has played a constructive role that spared the country bloodshed and contributed to a temporary stability. Let us hope that the military will continue to fulfill the revolutionary demands. More to follow daily.

Feb 12, 2011

February 11 – Historic Day in Egypt

A historic revolution led to the resignation of Hosni Mubarak from his position as Egypt’s President.

The demonstration had begun early morning on Friday, February 11 and reached its peak after the noon prayer. Masses of people marched in Cairo toward Tahrir Square, the TV Station and the presidential palace. Labor unions, teachers, professors unions, reporters, and writers joined the demonstration.

Actually, Mubarak’s speech on Thursday, February 10 had infuriated the public. He did not seem to have gotten it. Egyptians who campaigned for 18 days were joined by all aspects of Egyptian society in the protest and request for the president to GO.

We were anxiously watching different TV channels expecting the worst to happen. Would the army begin shooting the masses walking toward different government buildings? Would Mubarak appear again trying to play on the people’s emotions and tell more lies?

Finally, early evening on that memorable Friday “The Day of Defiance”, Vice President Omar Suleiman somberly announced in a very brief statement the resignation of  “President Hosni Mubarak.” Furthermore, that the government is now in the hands of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. The Council would assume the responsibility to run the country during this transitional period.

We would like to interject here a linguistic remark. The term used by the Vice President in his statement was RESIGNED rather than OUTSTED!  A general on Egyptian TV pointed this out. The army wanted Mubarak to leave with dignity due to his services during the October war of 1973. However, regardless of the terminology used, Mubarak is not the president of Egypt anymore.

After Mubarak’s statement there were jubilant scenes that played out across Egypt. Flags were folded; Egyptian national songs were blasted all over the streets. The people were shouting, “we are the people,” and “God is great.” Children were carried on their parent’s shoulders weaving flags and blowing horns.

We decided to brave the crowd and join the people. It was impossible to reach Tahrir Square. We decided to participate with the jubilant crowd in the suburb of Meadi. Enthusiasm there was as tense as it was in Tahrir. The beauty of it all is that we felt safe in the midst of the crowd. This is the real feature of Egyptians. However, being peaceful has its limit when rights and freedom were been denied for such a long time.

We were lucky to witness this historic time. It is a memorable time for Egypt and the whole Arab world.
This post is a collaboration between Hani Fakhouri and Aleya Rouchdy

Remember the Martyrs of this Revolution

Feb 11, 2011

Yee Haaa!!!! Un-Authorized Post By River Whiskey

I just heard the news that you all heard. I am more optimistic today. At least we have official word that Mubarak has stepped down. I hope that Suleiman is not far behind.

I will remain cautious, but I think a nice celebratory drink and a toast to the Courageous Egyptian People is in order. Especially to the young generation. They have already accomplished what thousands of generations before could not. I hope that they will be driving the architecture of this new nation.

P.S. The Professors did not know I was posting this, but my excitement just boiled over. I hope they do not fire me.

The Egyptian People Were Fooled - Again

History repeats itself. The new Nero has emerged in Egypt. He doesn’t care if Cairo is destroyed in a fire. He will then divert blame by accusing the Muslim Brotherhood and the Young Protestors of starting the fire giving him the right to persecute and torture!

Yesterday evening, February 10, nearly 3 million protestors were jubilant in Tahrir Square when they heard that the Supreme Council of the Army Forces had met and will continue to meet until the people’s demands are fulfilled. The TV flashed pictures of their meeting. What a joke! It consists of old men and reminded us of the defunct “Politburo” of the former Soviet Union.

Shortly after the meeting a member of the Council appeared on all TV stations reading an official statement. He began in a somber tone saying: “This is army report number One. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces will respond to the demands of the people!!!” What a deceitful and ambiguous statement. The protestors, the whole of Egypt, and the national and international media, were all fooled by it. especially that this was followed by an announcement stating that “Mubarak will address the nation shortly.”

The crowd all over Cairo and other cities was jubilant. Two weeks of demonstrations had finally come to a triumphal end. So we all thought. . Rumors were circulating that Mubarak was on his way to Saudi Arabia, or to Germany, or to Sharm el Sheik. That Omar Suleiman, the Vice President, has assumed the responsibility of a transitional government. Such a statement confused the whole world. Anderson Cooper on CNN from USA had the strongest reaction compared to any other reporter. He had witnessed, while in Egypt, the anger of the protestors and the suppression of the regime. The statement issued by the White House reflected a sense of confusion. One could only imagine and hear President Obama saying, “What the hell is going on!”

What a disappointment! Mubarak came on TV announcing that as a President he delegates some responsibilities to the Vice President and to a council of judicial experts for the revision of some articles in the Constitution. However, he remains the president of the country stressing the fact that he will die in Egypt!!!!!!

After Mubarak’s frustrating statement, the protestors began to gather again at night and march toward the TV station and the presidential palace. They were up all night.

Today, February 11, there will be mass demonstrations all over Egypt.

We all hope that the protest movement continues to be peaceful and that the army will prevent Mubarak from destroying the temples along with the People to end the GREAT EGYPTIAN REVOLT, in order to brutally repress the movement.

More to come!

This post is a collaboration between Hani Fakhouri and Aleya Rouchdy

Feb 10, 2011

The 17th Day of Protest – Maybe the Last

The demonstration continues in its 17th day.
Sunshine or rain, nothing seems to debilitate the demonstrators’ enthusiasm and persistence in their demand for the resignation of President Muburak.

It is raining today in Cairo, but this did not prevent a massive demonstration from forming in the famed Tahrir square. The protestor’s number again exceeds one million. They are gathering in the square to prepare for tomorrow’s march “Friday- the Day of Challenge.”
They are calling for 20 million to march across Egypt.

The protest is expanding to various parts of Cairo and into many other Egyptian cities. Diverse groups have joined in the demonstration. Workers in both public and private sectors have joined the revolution today and demand an improvement in their standard of living as well as the resignation of the president.

There is recent news that the demonstrators are walking toward the presidential palace.

In anticipation of a much larger protest this evening and tomorrow; the army is deploying additional forces around the presidential palace, the Egyptian Parliament, the TV station, the telephone company as well as other government buildings.

We stop here to report an important piece of news that has just flashed on TV regarding the urgent meeting of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Usually the Council is headed by the President of the country, however Mubarak did not chair the meeting but it was chaired by Minister of Defense M. El Tantawi. This was followed by a statement from the Council that Mubarak will submit to the request of the protestors.

Does this mean he will resign? The statements that are issued by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces are contradictory. Early interpretation of this event is that Mubarak may relinquish his authority.

According to Egyptian TV, Mubarak is expected to address the nation tonight.

No matter what happens now, we (Hani Fakhouri and Aleya Rouchdy) are ecstatic and proud of what the young generation has accomplished. Their persistence, defiance, and determination enabled them to make history. Nothing like this has ever happened in Egypt before.

We would like to impress upon the reader our sense of exaltation, joy and satisfaction.

This post is a collaboration between Hani Fakhouri and Aleya Rouchdy.

Feb 9, 2011

February 8th in Tahrir Square

This is day 15th of the Egyptian uprising and the protestors are still defying the regime. The largest number of demonstrators to date gathered on February 8th in Tahrir square, in front of the Egyptian Parliament, the Prime Minister’s headquarters, and in front of the government owned magazine Rose el Youssef. There were also demonstrations held in Alexandria and other Egyptian cities.

It has been reported that many new participants have joined the protestors for the first time. The movement is not withering away as the regime wanted us to believe. We think it is gaining steam and the vociferous call for the resignation of Mubarak is not dwindling.

Mubarak is buying time. He met for the first time since the uprising with the new cabinet that is headed by Dr. Ahmad Shafiq and signed a declaration for the revision of the Constitution. The picture that the Egyptian television has broadcasted infuriated many Egyptians. The anger was expressed in an article in the newspaper Al Shorouk (2/9/2011) by the writer Bilal Fadl who wrote “today President Mubarak appeared sitting comfortably on his chair and laughing in the midst of his men making us all feel we mean nothing to him.”

Prime Minister Shafiq later publicly said that President Mubarak WILL NOT RESIGN and will continue his term, which will end in September 2011. He further announced a pay increase of 15% granted to government employees and retirees starting April 2011. To some, this seems be a bribe. As a matter of fact a demonstrator interviewed by al Jazeera International said sarcastically “ today government employees went to their offices and were notified of the increase afterwards they walked towards Tahrir Square to demonstrate!”

The same day Vice President Omar Suleiman publicly announced some of the reforms the government will undertake in the future. He announced that he is in the process of establishing a ROAD MAP for the transition of authority peacefully. Doesn’t the phrase road map have a familiar tone? Indeed, it is the same expression used by US government, Israel and Egypt regarding a so-distant peaceful solution for the Arab Israeli conflict. We are all aware now that it failed. Not a good omen Mr. Vice President. Second, he maintained that the government will not prosecute any of the protest movement leaders and that it will begin making wide reforms in response to the people’s demands. The protestors rejected the Vice President’s offers.

Also on that memorable day of February 8th, a group of lawyers have filed a petition that they submitted to the General Prosecutor accusing President Mubarak and his family of stealing state and public wealth. This was supported by prominent political figures, members of the Kifayah political movement, professors, and students. The demand was fueled by the recent news in both foreign and Egyptian media that revealed the wealth of Mubarak and his family to be between 40 to 70 billion dollars.

Another request has also been submitted for the prosecution of the previous Interior Minister, Habid el Adly, who has been accused of plotting the Alexandria church explosion on the Coptic Christmas day, and scheming the cabal where many protestors were massacred on Wednesday, February 2, 2011.
There will be more in the next few days.

This post is a collaboration between Hani Fakhouri and Aleya Rouchdy.

Feb 8, 2011

Articles 76 and 77 of the Egyptian Constitution

Many of our friends wanted us to post an explanation about articles 76 and 77 of the Egyptian Constitution. These two articles are discussed daily in the media.

The newspaper Al Masry Al Youm (2/7/2011) printed a copy of the Egyptian Constitution drafted in 1971. It consists of 211 articles. There have been three revisions in the Constitution since 1971, in 1980, 2005, and 2007. The 2005 revision focused on article 76 which made it difficult for the selection of presidential candidates.

Since the popular uprising of January 25th references were made regarding articles 76 and 77 and their restriction to nominate a presidential candidate.

Article 76 states the followings:
  • - The selection of presidential candidates should take place during the same year of the election
  • - The political candidate should obtain the signatures of at least 250 elected members consisting of a minimum of 65 from the parliament, 25 members of El Shoura Council, and 10 members of each of the 14 Governorate elected Councils.
  • - Any political party nominating a candidate must be licensed, active for five years and has at least 3% members in the Parliament and 3% representation in the Shoura Council
  • - The candidate should be an elected member of the Executive Committee of the nominating political party and should have served for a at least year in the party
  • - A list of the selected candidates for the presidential election should be submitted to the Presidential Election Committee. The Committee is chaired by the head of the Egyptian Constitutional Court and aided by 12 members from different judicial courts.
  • - Each presidential candidate should be approved by at least 7 members of the Presidential Election Committee in order to have his/her name put on the ballot

Article 77 states that the elected president will serve for a period of 6 years from the day he/she assumes the duty of the president of Egypt. The article does not put limits on how many terms the president could serve.

We would like to stress here that the majority in the Egyptian Parliament has always consisted of members of the National Democratic Ruling Party (NDP), which is headed by President Mubarak. The election is usually rigged as it has appeared in the last election where the ruling party obtained 95% of the 425 seats in Parliament!

Do the above articles and manipulation of elections allow a president to maintain his position for life? The answer is clearly reflected in Mubarak serving a fifth term, which will end in September 2011.

No wonder the young protestors of Tahrir Square are demanding the revision of the Constitutions as a whole.

This post is a collaboration between Hani Fakhouri and Aleya Rouchdy.

The Very Latest in Riot Gear

In keeping with the latest escalation of hostilities in El-Tahrir Square, our heroes continue to innovate in the latest self defense technology. Apparently this modern revolution is not only righteous, it is also very green. These demonstrators are recycling all manner of household implements, not to mention outright rubbish that would otherwise go to waste.

These photos are from El-Bashayer Newspaper

Feb 7, 2011

The Stubbornness of a Defunct Leader

The Following was published in  El-Bashayer Newspaper, The caption says "Mubarak demands replacement of the Egyptian People"
From El-Bashayer Newspaper

The crowd’s determination in Tahrir Square is reflected in the huge masses of people, which exceeded one million. This determination is visible all over Egypt where people are still calling for President Mubarak to step down.

As a result of this uprising  a new and positive sentiment is felt all over the country. It is the feeling of unity that is reflected among people regardless of social status, age, gender, or religious affiliation.

On Sunday the 6th of February, religious ceremonies were conducted jointly by Muslims and Christians in Tahrir Square in memories of those who lost their lives since January 25th. A Coptic friend of ours who has regularly participated in the Tahrir Square demonstrations called us and emotionally said  “ I never thought to ever see in Egypt what happened today in the square.”  She, of course, meant the dual prayers of Christians and Muslims. People were displaying the Koran and the Cross in unison.

According to the recently emerged leadership of the demonstrators, the protest will continue until Mubarak resigns.   

The Egyptian army, however, keep calling on the protestors to end their protest and go home. This call has been ignored until now.

Leaders from the opposition political groups have been meeting for the past two days with Vice President Omar Suleiman and a committee referred to as “The Committee of Wise Men.”  They were discussing a strategy for a transitional government. No consensus was reached on the followings:

  • -        Election of a new parliament,
  • -        Revision of the Constitution
  • -        Presidential election
  • -        Cancellation of Marshal Law
  • -       Investigation of crimes committed during the demonstration
  • -        Investigation of corruption

The critical answer to Mubarak’s political status has also not been resolved. The prevailing view among government officials is to let the president finish his term, which comes to an end in September 2011.

The demonstrators have rejected the government’s proposal and maintain that this is a strategy to dilute and bypass their objectives.

It is a stand still situation and we think that the key to this problem is in the hand of the Egyptian army.

Today the media wants to reflect a semblance of normality; we would like to stress the term SEMBLANCE and not Real normality.

This post is a collaboration between Hani Fakhouri and Aleya Rouchdy.

Feb 5, 2011

Commotions on the 12th day of protest

Tension in Egypt is still very high. Demonstrators are still in Tahrir Square defying the curfew. This is the “Day of Solidarity.”
It has been reported that a committee consisting of prominent Egyptian figures and headed by Ahmad Kamal Abu el Magd, Vice President of the National Human Right Council met with new Prime Minister Ahmad Shafiq and presented him with a plan to bring the conflict to a peaceful finale.

The proposal submitted by the committee calls for the followings:
  • - The Vice President to assume the duties of the President as head of the transitional government until September 2011.
  • - The dissolution of the Parliament and the Advisory Council, maglis al shoura, and end the Emergency Law.
  • - The appointment of a Judicial Affairs Committee to re-write the Constitution.
  • - The appointment of a committee of experts on government affairs to advise the government until the election of the parliament and the new president.
  • - The investigation of government officials responsible for crimes committed during the uprising.
  • - The investigation of government officials who have abused the public trust and contributed to corruption.
The proposal, however, does not call for President Mubarak to step down but rather to transfer presidential authority to Vice President Omar Suleiman.

It was announced on Al Jazeera International that President Mubarak has resigned as the head of the Hisb al Watani, the ruling party. However, minutes later it was denied. His son, however, Gamal Mubarak has definitely resigned his position as Secretary General. The new Secretary General is Dr. Husam el Badrawi who is a liberal and a respected member of the Party.

There is no end in sight to the changes that might follow. Actually, there is a rumor circulating in Egypt, also heard on German television, that President Mubarak will leave soon to Germany for health treatment. This would be a good  face saving move for Mubarak, and to resign as the next step.

Mubarak's departure from Egypt will bring some stability to a torn country, save further bloodshed; prevent further deterioration of the economy. More than 100,000 tourists have left Egypt during the past six days. But, regardless of the cost, this is a big and unprecedented victory for the young, secular generation who opened a new horizon for Egyptian society.

Feb 4, 2011

Day of Departure

Today, Friday February 4th, is the “Day of Departure.” Hundreds of thousands of protestors of all ages, religion, and gender are chanting the national anthem and waving the Egyptian flag in Tahrir square. Young children carried on their father’s shoulder are chanting “down with Mubarak ”and in unison the crowd responds “down with Mubarak.” It is an overwhelming, and breadth-taking scene that’s giving us all goose pimples and brings tears to our eyes.

The strong presence of the Egyptian army in the Tahrir Square, which is inspecting people’s identity, is indeed preventing last Wednesday’s mayhem. The demonstration has been going for almost eight hours now and it is still quite peaceful. The spirit is very high. Egyptians have never been as united as they are today!

Prominent political figures have joined the demonstrators, such as Amr Moussa, chairman of the Arab League, Mohamed el Baradei, and Defense Minister Tantawi. In addition, there are many actors, writers, artists and of course the common man. The number has now exceeded 2 million people in the square. In Alexandria and many other Egyptian cities demonstrators are also calling for the resignation of Mubarak.

We think that President Mubarak will announce his resignation very soon and Vice President Omar Suleiman will assume the responsibilities of a transitional government. The major and most immediate task of the transitional government would be to dissolve the parliament, set a date for a free democratic election internationally supervised, the revision of the constitution especially article 76 and 77 pertinent to the election of a president. Furthermore, an investigation of individuals responsible for corruption, and abuse of public trust should be conducted.

This is the most successful revolt by a young generation in modern history. We have not seen such a movement anywhere in the world. It is unprecedented.

The repercussions of this movement will be felt all over the Arab world. The political Tsunami’s wind of change will blow away other authoritarian regimes in the Arab states. In Yemen there were protests demanding the resignation of President Ali Saleh. He has already publically declared that he will not seek another term after 2013. Mind you he has been in power for the past 32 years. Jordan has also been experiencing continuous protests demanding the dissolution of the cabinet. King Abdullah has already dissolved the Rifai cabinet and asked Marouf el Bakhit to form a new cabinet. Furthermore, Sudan is also experiencing protest movements led by university of students who are protesting the increasing cost of living, unemployment and corruption. They are calling for the resignation of president Omar el Bashir.

In the next few weeks there will be rapid political developments leading, hopefully, to a bright future for the young generation in the Arab world.

This post is a joint effort by Hani, Fakhouri and Aleya Rouchdy

Feb 3, 2011

The Day After The Night of Tahrir Square

Tahrir square in central Cairo turned into a battleground on Wednesday evening, February 2. The pro-regime demonstrators used against the protesters guns, Molotov cocktails, water cannons, and rocks. According to a government report 13 people were killed and 1200 injured.

Dr. Mohamed el Baradei, previous director of the International Nuclear Energy Agency, said, “there are strong evidence that government forces were used to attack the protesters.” It is also reported that some members of the ruling political party are paying money to organized gangs so that they attack the protesters in Tahrir Square.

Today in a televised appearance, the new Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, promised to investigate the violence, which took place in the square last night, and punish those responsible.

The newly appointed Vice President, Omar Suleiman, stated publicly on TV that there was a conspiracy by an outside element which was responsible for the clashes between the pro- and anti regime demonstrators. He promised an investigation in order to find out those behind the horrendous acts of violence.

Tonight both the anti and pro regime protesters are gathering in Tahrir square and the army is there to create a buffer zone between them.

Tomorrow, Friday, is called the “day of departure.” The anti regime protesters are planning to walk toward the headquarters of President Mubarak to call for his resignation. Whether they succeed or fail they have already achieved a great deal. They forced the government to cave to their demands. This is an achievement no one has ever been able to accomplish in the past 30 years of Mubarak’s regime.

We will all be thinking of them tomorrow February 4, 2011.

8th Day of Protest : The Million Man March

7 Days of Uprising

Egyptian Protester's Defiance

Egypt's Day of Anger

Tunis in the News

Recent Tunisian Uprising

Yemen Political and Social Unrest

High Unemployment a Ticking Time bomb in the Arab World

Recent Elections in Egypt and Jordan

You Have to love their Ingenuity

Last night, the paid pro-Mubarak demonstrators received a delivery of 2 truckloads of stones, all perfect size for throwing. These rocks and other weapons were hurled at the anti-Mubarak demonstrators.

In typical Egyptian ingenuity and adaptability, the demonstrators brought their household implements to bear. Kitchen pots and buckets doubled as helmets.

These Images are from Al-Jazeera video coverage in El-Tahrir Square.

In all seriousness I was listening to Al-Jazeera last night and hearing telephone interviews with people in the square. Gunfire was aimed at the legs of anti-Mubarak demonstrators, even in areas that contain women and children. They said they were exhausted from fighting all night. Hearing the voices was heart rending for me, the terror they must have felt.

Many eyewitnesses at the scene told Al-Jazeera that they knew many of the pro-Mubarak were police officers or members of security forces. There were several captured pro-Mubaraks and their ID cards were shown on the video to show that they were actually members of the police.

I can't tell you how impressed I am with the courage of those people who weathered the night. I felt last night that the battle for Egypt's future was being waged. The protesters showed that they were not to be cowed by thuggery and bush league tactics (pun intended).

Thanks to Al-Jazzera for these images as well as balanced journalism throughout the crisis.

Feb 2, 2011

An eyewitness Report from Al-Tahrir Square today and the last few days:

This is an Un-Edited account of the events in Tahrir Square.

It was noon at Tahrir Square, the number of demonstrators was much less than yesterday where around two million turned in to chant “people want the end of this regime” and many others against the president Hosni Mubarak, his family and the ruling party.

Later a Pro Mubarak demonstration started to approach closing in towards Tahrir Square, the anti Mubarak moved in and for a while they were face to face each chanting louder while the Army pulled to the side and watched.

It did not get long for the anti Mubarak demonstrators who have been in Tahrir square since Friday of Anger. They have been organized in a way that they did not respond to any intimidation by many who tried to infiltrate them for the past few days. But when the Pro Mubarak were forced to withdraw towards the Egyptian Museum side of Tahrir they started throwing stones and metal objects. The anti Mubarak kept their calm and tried to control their anger but without showing any fear . Minutes later news of the internet connection being restored after almost a week of isolation from the whole world. Blackberries and SMS were also cut off by the Egyptian regime; now this has helped the demonstrators to use their mobile phones to call on all of the ones who were in Tahrir yesterday to join them so as to overcome the thugs sent by the regime.

It was clear that those pro Mubarak were there to instigate clashes and violence, so more and more the anti Mubarak created human barriers to separate the two groups and make it difficult for them to attack the women, children, and men who have been coming to Tahrir everyday in families to express their views freely against the regime that made them poor, unemployed, disparate and even lost their dignity.

The pro Mubarak continued provocations and trying to infiltrate the anti Mubarak and pro democracy demonstrators who caught them one after another and took them to the army officers standing at the entrances of Tahrir. Each one caught was found with an identification card of the police or those with the ministry of interior.

Soon pro Mubarak moved in on horses and camels using sticks and stones to hit the pro democracy with much hate and anger. One woman who lives in a flat overlooking Tahrir said that she saw many of the Pro Mubarak demonstrators changing into civilian cloths before joining the others to attack the pro Democracy and anti Mubarak camp. She also testified that a policeman she knows told her he was asked or forced to join the others “thugs” in Tahrir to beat up “those who hate Mubarak.”

Hours later others of those pro Mubarak started moving from other entrances to Tahrir in an attempt to surround the anti Mubarak and Pro Democracy peaceful demonstrators. On the entrance close to Semiramis Hotel a lady stood by and started shouting at those leaving the demonstration by saying “traitors …traitors “ next to her a group of young men shouting “ Baradai is a US agent ..” and continuing “you are not welcomed we want Mubarak.”

It was clear that the army had taken a decision to stand by and watch though the anti Mubarak demonstrators have been working in close coordination and cooperating with the army forces deployed around Tahrir. The pro Mubarak demonstrators escalated their attacks form roofs of buildings over looking Tahrir. They used stones, sharp objects in addition to tear gas and what few demonstrators described as chemical or acid bombs!!!!

It was very clear that the whole event was orchestrated by the Mubarak regime as a last resort to scare people and keep them away from Tahrir square.

The Egyptian people were until yesterday demonstrating and expressing their views in a very peaceful manner it is their right as indicated in the Human Rights Charter (freedom of expression and freedom of assembly) yet this could not be tolerated by the regime particularly after the huge turn out of yesterday. Until yesterday Egyptians felt that this is their revolution and they don’t need any foreign power to assist, but of course the support of people not governments from all over the world is needed to help put an end to an era of corruption and terror by the Mubarak regime.

Author Unknown.

See Video

Relevant Links:

8th Day of Protest : The Million Man March

7 Days of Uprising

Egyptian Protester's Defiance

Egypt's Day of Anger

Tunis in the News

Recent Tunisian Uprising

Yemen Political and Social Unrest

High Unemployment a Ticking Time bomb in the Arab World

Recent Elections in Egypt and Jordan

Members of the Press: Live contacts on the Ground in Egypt

If any members of the press need live contacts, I got this email:

Writing this at 5:35 pm form my home in Cairo. My Friend, is in Tahrir square monitoring the situation. If you know any reporter who needs an eye witness account of today's events, then please give them my number : +20-10-604-6042, my home is : +20-2-2736-1433. His number is: 011-20-12-212-6751, although he is right in the middle of the square and might not be able to talk to anyone.

It is very important to pass the message that the Mubarak regime is now using all dirty tricks in the books.

In solidarity

Tiananmen in Tahrir Square

This is the 9th day of protest against the Mubarak regime. Clashes have broken out between the anti-Mubarak and the pro-Mubarak. There are reports of hundreds of wounded people in the square and the nearby streets. It is said that the pro-regime are sent to disrupt the peaceful demonstrators and send them home by all means. Smoke bombs are thrown on the protesters. Some are thrown form the roofs of nearby buildings.

Mr. El Baradei is accusing the government of using “scare tactics and committing a crime against the people of Egypt.”

I think the government is determined to slaughter the protesters as it happened in Tiananmen Square.

The international communities should interfere and stop this slaughtering immediately.

Please help the young freedom seekers of Egypt who are struggling establish justice and freedom for all.

Feb 1, 2011

8th Day of Protest : The Million Man March

The Young Egyptian Protester's call for more people to join their movement has been heeded. Nearly 2 million protesters have reached Tahrir (Liberation) Square to join the Million Man March.

This was accomplished in spite of the fact that the government has cut off all land transportation in the country. Transportation has come to a standstill, yet the protesters were undeterred. Many arrived and crossed the barricades in Tahrir Square. It seems that the Human Network cannot be cut off.

Some young demonstrators came in burial shrouds wearing bandannas with the inscription "We will die for the cause".

It is an amazing sight.

Mubarak seems to have lost all touch with reality. The situation has reached a critical point. The infrastructure is collapsing and Mubarak has decided to turn a deaf ear to the developments in his native country.

In a newspaper interview, well know political figure Hasaneen Haikal quoted a statement once made by Mubarak to him:

"In stubbornness, I have a PhD"

This statement would be laughable if it were not so tragic.

In my opinion the only solution lies in the hands of the Egyptian military. They are the only power capable of removing Mubarak from office or forcing him to resign. Also, if they take action soon, the turn over can be accomplished with a minimum of bloodshed.

This is the most amazing demonstration ever seen. Almost 2 million people and no violence anywhere, except where some government thugs attempted to agitate the crowd.

And though it is called The Million Man March, it is the most inclusive agglomeration of Men, Women, Christians, Moslems, seculars, professionals, entertainers, judges and members of organized labor groups.

Relevant Links: