Stories from Quick Reads and Egypt
Faten Bushehri tracks reactions to the trial of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, who was sentenced to death on May 16, on Global Voices Checkdesk, a project in partnership with Meedan's Checkdesk to verify news.
Morsi is being charged with collaborating with foreign militants to free Islamists during a prison break from the Wadi Natroun prison amid the Egyptian revolution in January 2011. Among his 105 co-defendants were some 70 Palestinians, accused of being members of Hamas, who were charged and tried in absentia. And among the Palestinians sentenced to death, Hassan Salameh has been in an Israeli prison since 1994, and Raed Attar is already dead.
Morsi was the president of Egypt for one year after the revolution, which overthrew Hosni Mubarak early 2011, who ruled Egypt for more than 30 years. Morsi's reign was cut short in July 2013, following massive protests calling for his ouster. Then, the Egyptian Army took command, under the leadership of Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces and Minister of Defence General Abdul Fattah El Sisi, who is now Egypt's president.
The next hearing is set for June 2.
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Wekesa Sylvanus hopes that 2015 will be a year of free and fair elections in Africa:
Since the advent of multi party democracy in Africa, electoral contests have become a do or die affair in majority of African countries. Elections in Africa are a high risk affair and in the recent times, they have been a trigger of conflicts. Kenya and Ivory Coast are good examples of how mismanaged elections can plunge a country into a conflict. Half a century after gaining independence, majority of African states have not got it right in terms of conducting and managing free and fair elections. The year 2015 will see a host of African countries go through elections. Presidential elections and/or legislative elections will be held in Nigeria, Sudan, Ethiopia, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, Togo, Ivory Coast, Mauritius, Central Africa Republic, Burkina Faso, Niger, Guinea, Chad, and Egypt and may be South Sudan depending on the peace deal to be signed. Most of these countries have struggled to institute the practice of democracy in recent times. 2015 therefore presents a great opportunity for them to show the world that they have matured democratically.
A photograph showing crowds outside a popular Cairo liquor store is making the rounds online. On Twitter, Tom Gara shares it with his 27.9K followers:
Pic doing the rounds on FB of the scene at Drinkies, a popular Cairo liquor store, now that Ramadan is over. pic.twitter.com/VMsbiNtInH
— Tom Gara (@tomgara) July 28, 2014
Egypt, with a liberal alcohol policy compared to other Muslim countries, bans the sale of alcohol to Egyptians during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which ended yesterday. This explains the scene Gara tweets.
An Egyptian activist has turned to YouTube to spell out his objection to the mandatory military service in the Egyptian army, compulsory for men aged between 18 and 30.
In an email sent to Global Voices Online, Adam writes:
I am Egyptian conscientious objector against serving in Egyptian Army because I hate wars and violence.I recorded that video in Arabic and translated in English.Hope you broadcast it on your TV channel so Egyptians and world can know my views because people like me who refuse to serve in Army are not heard from Media.I hope you help me because I want to free the Egyptian people from military rule and religious rule.I support Western democracy.
In this video, subtitled in English, Ahmed (Adam) says:
I am Ahmad (aka Adam) from Egypt. I'll talk to you about mandatory conscription in Egypt. I am totally against mandatory conscription, I refuse to serve in [the] Egyptian Army because it is a criminal army which killed thousands of protesters and innocent people in Mohamed Mahmoud Street and Tahrir Square in Cairo and many regions in Egypt.
The mandatory conscription is humiliation, enslavement, and forced labour to thousands of poor Egyptians who get conscripted every year to work in the private businesses and farms of Egyptian army generals without any pay or salary. Any any Egyptian soldier [who] served in the army knows very well how large credits the army generals own in their bank accounts. Also, army generals own lots of real-estate property obtained in an illegal way. They rob the country's wealth and assets.
Mandatory conscription is not found in any developed country, any Western country, nor the USA.
Egyptian blogger Nadia El Awady wrote a blog post in which she questions if women wearing Hijab face discrimination in western countries or not. Nadia, as an Egyptian who grew up in the US and lived prolonged periods in Europe, adds from her personal experience in regards to reactions she received in both Eastern and Western countries when it comes to wearing the Hijab or even taking it off.
During all those years, I have been without the hijab, with the hijab, wearing a very long hijab (called a khimar), wearing a face veil (called a niqab), back to wearing a shorter hijab and finally, now, no hijab at all. I’ve done it all. I’ve seen all the reactions. The way I have dressed over the years may have been accepted by some in my inner circles and criticized by others; this is true. How a woman dresses is a highly contentious subject no matter where you are in the world. When I donned the face veil, my own father was against it. When I took off my hijab, I lost at least one good friend and was tsk tsked by many others. These are normal reactions and they are to be expected. I do not categorize these reactions as discrimination. Friends and family have definite ideas of how they expect me to live my life. They believe they know what is best for me.
The Women's Rights Campaigning: Info-Activism Toolkit by Tactical Technology Collective is a new guide for women's rights activists, advocates, NGOs and community based organizations who want to use technology tools and practices in their campaigning. This has been developed in collaboration with advocacy organizations from Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Kenya and Egypt.
A video by WITNESS on the Human Rights Channel of YouTube wrapped up some of the most significant protests and human rights abuses of 2013. Dozens of clips shot by citizens worldwide are edited together to show efforts to withstand injustice and oppression, from Sudan to Saudi Arabia, Cambodia to Brazil.
A post on the WITNESS blog by Madeleine Bair from December 2013, celebrates the power of citizen activism using new technologies including video, while readers are reminded that the difficulty of verification and establishing authenticity remains a big obstacle.
“Citizen footage can and is throwing a spotlight on otherwise inaccessible places such as prisons, war zones, and homes,” says Bair. “But given the uncertainties inherent in such footage, reporters and investigators must use it with caution.”
The question “How Should Middle Eastern Women Dress in Public” posed by the University of Michigan is attracting hilarious spoofs online. The content is so rich that an additional post to our first one was necessary.
When Washington Post Max Fisher shared the original image on Twitter, he wasn't expecting this response by WSJ blogger Tom Gara:
— Max Fisher (@Max_Fisher) January 9, 2014
But the spoof that got the most attention was undoubtedly Karl Sharro's of KarlreMarks:
An Arab university ran this fascinating poll about what is most appropriate for American women to wear in public. pic.twitter.com/uIta80i1f8
— Karl Sharro (@KarlreMarks) January 9, 2014
Interviewed on PRI, he explained his motivation:
“It's almost like putting Muslim women on a scale from 1 to 6, from being fully covered to not being covered at all, which I think is pretty absurd.”
Menna Alaa, Egyptian journalist who was assaulted by angry mob earlier in 2013 losing her camera during her reporting, is using Indiegogo calling for help to buy equipment to help her document the ongoing events in Egypt.
The appeal reads:
Menna Alaa is a Cairo based freelance journalist and student who has been covering events in Egypt as they escalated. Menna has made sure that she takes the risks in Egyptian streets in order to make sure that the voices of protesters are heard whether through videos or photos.
Over the escalating events, Menna risked her life in order to show how events unfolded while bearing in mind that the audience need to see truth as it really is. Now the Egyptian political sphere is being reshaped and the need for independent, honest, and objective journalism is now a must.
As an aspiring journalist and journalism student, Menna would appreciate it if you would help her buy new equipment so she reports back on ground as soon as possible.
Taking the cue from a Der Spiegel report on the mastermind behind the structure of ISIS, Palestinian blogger Iyad El-Baghdadi tweets:
After that Spiegel story about the "mastermind" behind ISIS's takeover of Syria – noticed just how many Jihadists have military backgrounds?
— Iyad El-Baghdadi (@iyad_elbaghdadi) April 21, 2015
Der Spiegel names Iraqi Samir Abd Muhammad al-Khlifawi, killed in Tal Rifaat in Syria in January 2014, as the “architect” of the ISIS, an Al Qaeda off-shoot which has come to control larges swathes of land in Iraq and Syria, leaving terror, death and destruction in its trail. It says al-Khlifawi was a former colonel in the intelligence service of Saddam Hussein's air defense force.
ISIS higher command has many ex-Iraq Baath officers; in Libya ex-Gaddafi officers form some of their core support…
— Iyad El-Baghdadi (@iyad_elbaghdadi) April 21, 2015
ISIS in Egypt (Sinai) also has several ex-Egyptian army officers; the chief of Ansar Bayt al Maqdis is an ex-Egypt army commando.
— Iyad El-Baghdadi (@iyad_elbaghdadi) April 21, 2015
Turn On Fact-Checking:
Help us track and verify stories on the number of ISIS top command with military backgrounds in our Global Voices/Checkdesk partnership project here.
Max Chalmers, from Australian independent online media site New Matilda, welcomes the release of Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste after 400 days in Egyptian prison. He also calls for “the speedy release of Greste’s colleagues who remain behind Egyptian bars”. However, he questions Prime Minister Tony Abbott's support for media freedom in a speech following the news.
[Abbott's] own government has been responsible for a crackdown on press freedoms more generally, and as he moved on to warnings about a new age of terror he laid the groundwork for yet more intrusive and draconian legislation.
Sean Jacobs writes about American author and poet Maya Angelou, who died at age 86 yesterday May 28, 2014:
In 1961, Maya Angelou, already a civil rights worker, and her then partner Vusumzi Make, an exiled activist from South Africa (he was a leading Pan Africanist Congress member), moved to Cairo, Egypt, where she found work at a small radical newspaper. One year later, Angelou and Make broke up and she moved to Ghana with her son. There they joined a small, tight-knit expatriate African American community that included the great scholar and activist W. E. B. Du Bois, the writer William Gardner Smith, lawyer Pauli Murray, journalist Julian Mayfield, and sociologist St. Clair Drake. Angelou continued her work as a journalist and also worked as an administrator at the University of Ghana. Angelou made such an impression on her hosts honored her with a postal stamp. It was also during this time that Malcolm X visited Ghana; a meeting which prompted her move back to the US in 1965 to help Malcolm X build his Organization of Afro-American Unity. Shortly after her return, Malcolm X was assassinated.
The website Histoire Africaine/African History [fr] narrates the tale of the oldest love story ever told, the story of Osiris and Isis [fr] and explains what makes it stand out [fr] from the other love stories. Osiris was the king god of Egypt and Isis his queen. Set, his brother, murdered Osiris to take over the kingdom. Isis find and restore Osiris’ body, resurrecting him and they conceive their son Horus. The author writes that the story is rich of lessons for the African continent [fr]:
While Osiris is rightfully mentioned at every funeral because he was the One who first attained the eternal life, one must note the crucial role that Isis played in allowing Osiris to persevere. She embodies the concept of love, the one that never gives up, that rescues loved ones and frees them from darkness.
Tom Devriendt lists 10 documentaries to look out for at the Luxor African Film Festival:
The third edition of the Egyptian Luxor African Film Festival again has a wide-ranging programme scheduled for next month. Selected films will be showing in different competitions: Long Narrative, Short Narratives, Short Documentaries and Long Documentary. Below you’ll find a couple of the selected documentaries’ trailers (set in Togo, Senegal, Ghana, Somalia, South Africa, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt and Angola) that were recently uploaded to YouTube and Vimeo, plus links to the films’ websites — where available.
Women's rights campaigning is the focus of a new info-activism toolkit by Tactical Technology Collective.
The toolkit is particularly useful to women's rights activists, advocates, NGOs and community-based organisations who want to use technology tools and practices in their campaigning.
It includes step-by-step guides from basics like how to launch a campaign to more complex issues such as digital security and privacy.
The Toolkit was developed as part of a project with CREA, along with seven partner organisations
based in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and East Africa. It is now available in English only but will soon be translated into Arabic, Swahili, Bengali and Hindi.
Outspoken Egyptian blogger Nawara Negm is taking a break from blogging politics.
On her blog, Tahyyes, she writes a long post explaining her position [ar]:
انا مش لاقية طرف مش متعاص كاكا… حتى اللي عاملين ثوار واصحاب مبادئ… طبعا مش لانهم عملا وجواسيس، بس لانهم متلخبطين، والواحد لما يتلخبط يعتزل… زي ما انا قررت اعتزل كده، لان فعلا المشهد مربك
I don't see a single faction not covered with shit… even those who pretend they are revolutionaries and people with principles … of course not because they are agents and spies but because they are confused and when a person is this confused, he needs to retire, just as I have decided to retire and this scene is really confusing
Negm, daughter of revolutionary poet Ahmed Fouad Negm, is a journalist and activist in her own right and was a spokesperson for the revolutionaries at Tahrir Square. On Twitter, she commands 629,000 followers.
“Arabic is the seventh most spoken language by Internet users but only three per cent of digital content on the web comprises of Arabic material,” estimate experts. Among the most frequent web usages is sharing text, through Pastebin and similar services. Yet these do not properly support Arabic text. Developed by Egyptian Mostafa Hussein (@moftasa), Nota aims at bridging this gap:
Nota has a single purpose and that is to help people share any amount of Arabic text quickly and easily. Text is presented in a clear, distraction free and beautiful way and is highly accessible. There is no need to sign up or register. It will also remain ad free, free of charge and open source.
Nota's source code is on GitHub.