Tag Archives: Cairo

Egyptians in the street

 Mass protest in Egypt

Last Saturday, a criminal court in Cairo sentenced Egypt autocrat Hosni Mubarak -along with his long-time interior minister Habib al-Adli, to life in Prison but dismissed corruption charges against Mr. Mubarak and his deeply unpopular sons, Alaa and Gamal, on technical grounds. Six top police commanders, who faced the a charge of complicity in killing unarmed protesters, were acquitted for what the judge said was a lack of evidence.

Soon after the verdict was announced, protesters poured on to Tahrir Square and planned for a million strong march, which took place yesterday. Khalil spoke with Egyptian journalist Amad Shokr about the protests and the current political landscape in Egypt.

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KPFA Special: Egyptian Revolution Update

Tune in Friday morning 8 a.m.- 10 a.m. on KPFA 94.1 FM in Berkeley, KFCF 88.1 FM in Fresno or stream on KPFA.org

On January 25th, thousands of Egyptian protesters crowded the streets to protest against what they assert is Egypt’s corrupted and autocratic government.

Despite the tear gas that police released into the streets and the heavy beatings many protestors endured in the last few weeks, citizens continue with their protests in an effort to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak’s regime.  On Friday morning from 8am -10am on KPFA, Voices of the Middle East and North Africa will be speaking with experts to receive an update on the demonstrations in Egypt. We will discuss the lack of free elections and free speech, high unemployment, food price inflation, low minimum wages and corruption, among other important topics.

Protesters organized the demonstrations through various social media outlets, including Twitter and Facebook. As angry Egyptians crowded the streets to fight against corruption, the Mubarak regime blocked all social media outlets and access to Internet in hopes of discouraging continued demonstrations.  We will discuss the positive and negative effects of social media.  Among other guests, we will be joined by Ahmad, a 29-year old Egyptian political activist living in the United States, to discuss the effects of the protests from a youth’s perspective.  Ahmad will also be discussing the activism that young Egyptians are engaged in within the United States.

The 2011 demonstrations are the largest protests Egypt has seen since the 1970s and have taken place in major cities including, Cairo, Alexandria and Suez.  As political unrest continues to thrive within Egypt’s borders, many Egyptian political officials worry that the Muslim Brotherhood will obtain the upper hand and will take over President Mubarak’s regime.  We will explore the historical perspective of these protests to give listeners more context when following the progress of the demonstrations.

(By: Sarah Ravani)

This Week: Global Warming in the Middle East

December, 16, 2009

This week on Voices of the Middle East and North Africa, we continue our talks on the impact global warming in the Middle East and North Africa. Later in the program, we will have a conversation with the  “Garbage Dreams,” a documentary about garbage collectors and recyclers in the worlds largest city of garbage in the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt.

Click here to listen to the program.

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Cairo Under Siege Ahead Of Obama’s Speech

Huffington Post Op-Ed: Cairo Under Siege Ahead Of Obama’s Speech

The Huffington Post asked me to write an Op-Ed regarding Obama’s visit…

Right before he took off from DC, on what the media has been depicting as some “odyssey,” to address the Muslim World from Cairo, President Obama had described the 81-year-old Egyptian President Mubarak as a “force for stability.” This week Cairo and its twin city Giza have been a showcase of what this “stability” cost.

The capital is under occupation. Security troops are deployed in the main public squares and metro stations. Citizens were detained en masse and shops were told to close down in Bein el-Sarayat area, neighboring Cairo University, where Obama will be speaking. In Al-Azhar University, the co-host of the “historical speech,” State Security police raided and detained at least 200 foreign students, held them without charges in unknown locations. Exams were postponed in the major universities fearing demonstrations, and students were told to stay at home. And in several areas in Cairo and Giza, there will be in effect a curfew, where shops won’t be allowed to open, citizens instructed not to open their windows. Almost everyone I know will be staying home tomorrow watching Obama’s speech, not necessarily because they are keen on knowing what the freshly-elected US leader has to say to the Muslim world, but because they know it will be virtually impossible to move anywhere in the city on Thursday thanks to Obama’s force-for-stability host.

Those few dozens, who dared in this atmosphere to call for a peaceful protest against the visit on Wednesday evening, were met by hundreds of plainclothes police informers in Tahrir Square, Cairo’s biggest, together with thousands of riot police conscripts in their armored trucks. Police cracked down rounding up several figures from the opposition, and chasing the rest of the protesters in the side streets of downtown Cairo.

“Republicans screw the Arabs. Democrats screw the Arabs, but with a smile,” is a popular saying among the dissidents’ circles in Egypt. President Obama’s choice of our country as his next destination from where to address the Muslim World only validates the saying. Even before his “historical speech” is delivered, Obama’s “mini-historical speeches” have been nothing but one slap after the other on the faces of human rights campaigners in the region. After conversing with the Saudi monarch, “yes we can” changed to “I’m struck by his majesty’s wisdom.” Will the next step be praising the public beheadings in the kingdom as an example of ideal justice?

Hosni Mubarak has ruled Egypt since 1981 with an iron fist, detention facilities, and a fearful security aparatus which is engaged in systematic torture of dissidents and ordinary Egyptian citizens, as documented by local and international rights watchdogs. He has always managed to get away with good coverage in the Western press, however, that tended to focus on his “moderate” (read: obedient to US foreign policy) role as “peacemaker” in the region, besides the archeological discoverings of the I-so-wanna-be-Indiana-Jones, also known as Mr. Zahi Hawas.

Despite the repression of street politics in the 1980s and 1990s, dissidents got the courage to start mobilizing in the streets ever since the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada in 2000. From December 2006, the country has been embracing the strongest wave of labor strike action since WWII. The Egyptian workers are striking and organizing under very difficult conditions, with draconian anti-strike laws and state-dominated unions. But what started as a struggle for bread and butter issues is increasing becoming political, with an expanding layer of new strike leaders raising demands for regime change. And in an unprecedented move, thefirst free trade union in the history of Egypt was declared last December, by theproperty tax collectors who already went on a three month strike in 2007 bringing down tax collection by 90%. By the domino effect, a wave of free unions is brewing. The formation of free unions have always been in the heart of democratization like we’ve seen in Poland and South Korea for example.

The Egyptian striking workers will most probably not feature in Obama’s speech Thursday, but they together with the pro-democracy movement are seeking allies in the West. Allies that could not be found in the White House or 10 Downing Street. They are non-governmental actors like human rights NGOs, labor and trade unions, which we urge to extend their solidarity to their Egyptian brothers and sisters, and to pressure the US administration into severing all ties and funding to the Mubarak’s dictatorship, the second largest recipient of US foreign aid after Israel.

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