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7000 years and counting ...

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    The spokesperson of Egyptian cabinet has declared in early morning on Tuesday the names of the new ministers in the ministerial reshuffle. all what I can say from reading the names and their bios that there is more MB blood in the cabinet regardless of experience.
    First here are the names of the new ministers :
    • Judge Ahmed Mohamed Soliman , the new minister of justice.
    • Judge Hatem Bagateo , the new minister of parliamentary affairs
    • Engineer Sherif Ramadan , the new minister of oil and mineral wealth
    • Dr. Ahmed Eissa , the new minister of antiquities
    • Dr. Ahmed El Gizaway , the new minister of agriculture
    • Dr. Fiyad Abdel Monem , the new minister of finance
    • Dr. Ahmed Amr Darrag , the new minister of international cooperation.
    • Dr. Alaa Abdel Aziz , the new minister of culture
    • Yahia Hamad , the new minister of investment.
    Second quick who is who :
    • Minister Ahmed Amr Darrag of international cooperation : This is the most import MB name in the list. Leading MB member Amr Darrag is the head of the foreign affairs committee in Freedom and Justice Party.
    Originally an engineer and professor of Mechanics ,the man is known for his visits to Europe and the US speaking on behalf of the party and the brotherhood.  Here is his page in Wikipedia.“Arabic”
    Darrag made headlines from couple of weeks ago when he spoke on how successful the relations between Egypt and Israel during the era of President Morsi in Washington D.C when he spoke about the Role of the military in future democratic Egypt in the Center for Strategic & International studies.Darrag also made controversy when his Op-ed in English about “The New vision for the Egyptian foreign police after the revolution” was published in The Turkish Economic and social studies foundation and then Ikhwan Web. The man was speaking about a new Egypt where“ where Copts, Jews and atheists live side by side in peace with equal citizenship rights” !!! Here is the complete op-ed.
    It is worth to mention that the part about the Jews and atheists was removed in the Arabic translation of that piece published in the MB Arabic websites.
    According to Darrag’s new position , he will be responsible for the talks with the IMF
    Darrag lost in the parliamentary elections last year in Dokki and Imbaba against independent former MP Amr El Shobky , the professor of political science. 
    • Minister Yahia Hamed of investment : The former Vodafone marketing executive is allegedly form Khairat El Shater’s men.
    The 1977 born FJP founding member is known to the media as the spokesperson of Morsi’s presidential campaign during the elections. After the presidential elections the Muslim brotherhood member joined Morsi’s presidential team where he became the President’s aide for follow up and coordination. 
    Interesting enough the man responsible for investments now in Egypt graduated from the faculty of Alsun Ain Shams University.
    • Minister Fiyad Abdel Moneim of finance : This man will be from the team that will deal with the IMF.
    He is considered the fifth minister of that ministry after the revolution. Graduated in 1980 from the faculty of commerce , Al Azhar university, this man’s specialty  is Islamic economy. I would say that he is close to the Muslim brotherhood.
    • Minister Ahmed El Gizawy of Agriculture : The new minister of agriculture is the head of the agricultural committee in Freedom and Justice Party. El Gizawy is officially the third MB member in this reshuffle 
    • Minister Ahmed Soliman of Justice : The new minister of justice is well known to have strong relations to both the Muslim brotherhood and Al Gama’a Al Islamiyaa.
    Now legend says that Soliman was close to Al Gama’a Al Islamiyaa during his university study then he became closer to the Muslim brotherhood. I believe that choosing him will deepen the crisis between the judges and the presidency over the judicial authority law.  He supports all the legal actions taken by Presidency from constitutional declarations to illegal appointment of prosecutor general Talaat Abdullah. 
    • Minister Hatem Bagateo of parliamentary affairs : The new minister of parliamentary affairs is a very familiar face. Bagateo was a former aide to minister of justice Mamdouh Maree after the revolution. He is the vice-president of the supreme constitutional court.
    The former member of Presidential elections committee who has been constantly accused of being a former regime corrupted member by the Muslim brotherhood. It is enough to read what was published about that man during the Presidential elections in Ikhwan Web website to see the huge change that took place in the MB mindset.
    Tamer Bagateo was from the aides of former minister of justice Mamdouh Maree who was used by SCAF to tailor laws after the revolution according to informed judicial source. Saad Abdou , the former MP and leading member in Al Karma Party said that SCAF depended on judges from the former regime to tailor the laws rejected by national powers including Farouk Sultan “The head of the elections committee” who was appointed by Mubarak himself in the Supreme constitution court and judge Hatem Bagateo , the former ministry of justice's undersecretary
    In no time as usual the devoted MB members are adopting the change of views towards Bagateo defending how he was chosen in the cabinet. It is disgusting to see how they are using religion in this.
    Amazingly now the former regime supporters are accusing Bagateo of accepting the ministerial position in return of his silence in what happened in the presidential elections.
    • Minister Sherif Hassan Ramadan of Oil : Another MB figure. The 60 years old CEO of Ruhrpumpen was appointed from 7 months ago as the Chairman of the Oil authority in Egypt. I believe he is another close figure to the MB.
    • Minister Alaa Abdel Aziz of Culture : We did not know much about him except that the 1962 born new minister of culture is a film critic and a professor in the Cinema institute.
    • Minister Ahmed Eissa of antiquities : Some sources say that he is a member in Al Wasat Party.The 53 years old professor of Islamic and Coptic antiquities in South Valley University. Eissa was the Dean of the faculty of antiquities in the South Valley University  
    He seems to be close to the Muslim brotherhood. Already people are currently sharing online his Op-ed in Freedom and Justice Portal defending President Morsi last January.
    In the end the official Muslim brotherhood share in the cabinet has increased to become 11 ministers with the latest reshuffle. 
    BY the way despite all the odds and criticisms , Morsi’s administration is insisting on keeping the ministers of interior and information.  

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    From a week ago a campaign against domestic violence in Saudi Arabia made headlines worldwide. For the first time a campaign launched in the conservative kingdom tackling this social taboo under the name “No More Abuse”. The campaign is launched and sponsored by King Khaled Foundation.
    Something can not be hidden indeed
    The tagline of the extreme powerful ad in this campaign in English says “Something can not be hidden”
    I think the incident of Lama Al Ghamadi could be one of the triggers in this campaign.
    I hope to see a similar campaign in Egypt dealing with this taboo. I once saw a TV ads campaign about domestic violence in ONTV from two years ago and that’s it. It was a campaign sponsored by the government then showing the cycle of violence in the society.
     
    Unfortunately this campaign was stopped and nobody remembers it except very few.
    Domestic violence is from the unholy taboos in Egypt that nobody dares to come near for real. Myth says that it has to do with education and class but it is a myth.
     Domestic violence has nothing to do with education or class , I have witnessed many cases of domestic violence where women are beaten by their very well educated and wealthy husbands. It also has nothing to do with religion.
    Many Muslim and Christian women suffer unbearable violence and yet they have to stick with their husbands till death does apart because of family prestige and the myth that the children need a father regardless of the fact that that father is abusive and the kids will not be raised normally. Christian Orthodox ladies got the divorce dilemma too and in the end we got Muslim and Christian ladies praying God that either their abusive husbands die or turn good miraculously and it will be the last time they physically abuse them.
    While writing this I remember my grandma’s late sister who asked for divorce in 1949 from her filthy rich Upper Egyptian husband when she was 18 years old only because he started to abuse her physically. That ex-husband was a spoiled rich young man turned to be an alcoholic.
    My late grandma told me that what her sister had done then was considered to be somehow revolutionary act for real , still she got her total family support. Young ladies in their time would not dare to do for fear on their family prestige and that “divorced” reputation. That’s besides the fact that most of the city girls and ladies did not work.
    Of course that came with a a price during then. My late grand aunt had to lose her only son’s custody because of the bad family laws and corrupted judges in the family court then. The 1970s and 1980s family and personal affairs laws are really a bless.
    Needless to say violence in working classes even get worse because women fear of losing their source of income in case of being unemployed especially when they are uneducated.
    I remember that from couple of years ago our former house keeper came late and mom knew from her that her husband had beaten her badly the other night, it was not the first. My mom asked her why she would stay with him when he constantly treated her like that especially she was working and earned her living plus he was her second husband and not the father of her children. She was divorced from first husband because he was violent by the way.
    The lady told mom that she loved him so much plus “ a man’s shadow is better than nothing !!”
    My mom did not know what to say to her , she gave her painkillers and cream as well the rest of the week off.
    Another type of domestic violence Egyptians do not dare to speak is the violence against Children. There is clear line between discipline and domestic violence that many Egyptian families do not see unfortunately.
    I hate to say but up till now we do not have the guts in Egypt as civil society , as feminists and as activists to discuss this problem affecting millions of women and children as we should.
    Domestic violence is really a big taboo but one day we will have to deal with it , we can not escape it for too long.
    I will not be exaggerating that part of the violence we see now in the Egyptian street is partially rooted in the domestic violence. Once a child raised up that violence is the only way for dialogue in his home , he or she will grow up to accept and adopt this type of dialogue forever.
    Thanks to Ahmed Awadalla , I found this clip about domestic violence in Egypt with English subtitles. It is short by the way.

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    I love how people in Egypt screamed about the Egyptian identity of Hala’ib triangle last month suddenly remembering that there are two cities on our southern borders especially with the renewed debate about the disputed triangle.

    El Badil TV team travelled to Shalateen and made a very important short clip about that city. I hope you share it.

    Shalateen : See the city and meet the people

    Unfortunately the video is not translated still I have summarized the most important remarks in the video. Shalateen is the biggest city in the triangle and is 530 km away from red sea governorate which it follows it officially.

    For those who care about the Egyptian identity of Shalateen , there is huge problem in issuing Egyptian ids and birth certificates in the city. From what I understood there is a lot of neglect and red tape involved. 

    There is infrastructure in the city. There is no education too as it should. There are couple of schools no operating as it should. There is no health care either in the faraway city as it should. Thought there is a single big hospital “that looks from outside as some hospital in the U.S” like an old man said in the video , it is poorly equipped.

    Doctors are inexperienced not to mention that they do not show up at all. You can see how the hospital is poor. After all who would be encouraged to go and to work in a very poor city leaving big cities like Cairo !!

    People suffering from kidney failure have to travel to Al Qusayr city. Pregnant women delivering their babies also travel to Al Qusayr to give birth. The lucky ones do not die in the way !! 

    The people demand two thing : Healthcare and education.

    There is unemployment among youth in the city that depended on trade with Sudan. Now the borders are closed with Sudan for unclear reasons there are no jobs. The elderly got no pensions either.

    Another thing I do not understand that is mentioned in the video that the people are not allowed to build their houses with cement. They build their poor houses as you can see in the video with wood. Wood , hot weather and inflammable material cause fire. The people also complain from the distribution of land and residence blocks. I do not understand this either.

    This is a quick , it is tip of the ice berg indeed.

    This is from the rare moments we see the city for real in the media aside from the the National security talk. Of course it is hard for journalists to get to Hala’ib city and film there as it is a military zone.

    Also you must know that there are amazing youth from NGOs mainly from RESALA NGO who care for Shalateen and have been trying to help the people there as much as they can. I know that they are helping them in digging water wells. Those youth managed to build a mosque for the people in the Shalateen as they requested it.


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    I was outside Cairo visiting one of the villages in Sharkia governorate for extremely important assignment I heard the news that Ahmed Maher , the founder of April 6 Youth Movement was arrested upon his arrival from the united States in Cairo airport.We found out from the news that he would be detained for another 4 days pending investigations and that he was transferred to the top guarded prison "Al Akrab".
    In the morning we found out that the prosecutor general appointed by the president has ordered the immediate the release of Maher.
    There is news that minister of interior has withdrawn the complaint he filed against Apirl 6 Youth movement and its members as well. 
    Ahmed Maher and Asamaa Mahfouz
    Ahmed Maher and Asmaa Mahfouz by my iPhone cam
    Maher was detained according to an arrest warrant issued as we have known on 4 April 2013 and strangely he traveled to the US after that date and no one stopped him from traveling or arresting him earlier. He is being accused of inciting protests against the minster of interior at the minister’s home. Early April 2013 a group of April 6 Youth members went in the mid of the night and protested at minister Ahmed Ibrahim of interior’s house in New Cairo. During that protest the protesters held women’s underwear with signs hinting out that the ministry of interior is like a prostitute who sleeps with everyone in the regime in reference to how the MOI is now following the MB’s orders.
    Already four April 6 Youth members were arrested in that protest that ended with clashes against the security forces. Only recently the 4 members were released pending investigation after weeks in bad detention.
    The news of Maher was received by mixed feelings among activists and social media users. Old activists who know Maher personally were alarmed and remembered how the old regime , SCAF as well the new regime of the Muslim brotherhood consider Maher the enemy.It is ironic that from couple of days ago Maher remembered how he was tortured in 2008 by the state security of Mubarak. 
    The biggest irony of all in this affair that Maher said that he did not want to vote for Shafik because Shafik would arrest him and other revolutionaries !! Well time showed us that there is no big difference between Mubarak's regime and Morsi's regime 
    April 6 Youth Movement believed that this is an episode of escalation between them and the regime vowing to continue to their work against injustice in the country.
     Some people considered what happened to Maher is a lesson to all people not to trust the MB because they turn against all those who support them to reach to rule in the end. Maher is a good example , he supported the Muslim brotherhood in the Presidential elections despite all odds. Then he was chosen in the constituent assembly, of course he resigned later to object how things were taking place in the assembly that produced a constitution that April 6 Youth campaigned against.
    Of course for those hate and mistrust April 6 Youth Movement from Pro-Mubarak supporters as other well Pro-Revolutionaries the arrest of Maher this is a cheap charade to increase the low popularity of Maher as well the Muslim brotherhood.
    Unfortunately this theory is supported by the tweets of people like President Morsi´s aide Pakinam El Sharkawy. El Sharkawy tweeted today on her personal twitter account about how no one can ignore the patriotic role of Maher and April 6 in the revolution hoping that the situation facing him to end soon. 
    There is another theory that Ahmed Maher was detained and then released by Prosecutor General Talaat Abdullah in order to embarrass East Cairo district attorney Mostafa Khater 
    If you remember Khater had a huge role in the Presidential clashes on 5 December and his decision to release the detainees embarrassed not only the MB but rather the President Himself.
    Of course this theory is supported by the fact that the MB members and supporters are now saying that the old regime Pro-Mubarak district attorney Khater is prosecuting the revolutionaries while Talaat Abdullah whom the revolutionaries do not like that much is releasing them !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    The Media of course slammed the decision to arrest Maher attacking Morsi and the MB all night long yesterday. 
    Everyone is trying to use the whole issue for their own sake in the end. 
    Personally after hearing the detention of Maher in the airport , I remember JFK's quote " Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable" immediately. I wondered how the next wave of the Egyptian revolution will be like and how much violent it will be when youth see the iconic activists who supported peaceful revolution , who supported the Muslim brotherhood are treated like that whether Alaa Abdel Fatah or Ahmed Maher.The anger next time will not be that peaceful compared to last time "actually it was not that peaceful on 28 January 2011"
    I do not care that much about whether it is a conspiracy yet I care that  Maher was detained in the airport for a very alarming charge "Calling for a protest"
    I do not doubt that Maher's fame will cause bad headache for the regime and the Muslim brotherhood and will create more headlines in international press than less famous activists who are hunted down on a daily basis across the country. 
    It is very alarming charge and many people can be next if they want to organize a peaceful protest.
    Anyhow there are other activists than Maher whom we should remember and make noise for like Alexandrian activist Hassan Mostafa who is less known than TV and social media activists yet more energetic and powerful on ground.

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    Today two car bombs have killed not less than 40 people in border town of Reyhanli. Despite that no one has claimed responsibility all fingers are pointing to Syria including Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
    As it is a border town , there is a Syrian community of refugees who fled the country and I am afraid such explosions would harm those Syrians as their host in the town could blame them. Already from local Turkish testimonies I have been reading online , the locals blamed their government as well the Syrian refugees and Syrian revolution turned in to a civil war.
    Today I read that the locals of Reyhanli smashed by rocks the cars carrying Syrian plates in the border town angrily. I fear this could be a turning point between the Syrian refugees and their Turkish host and here I am speaking about the people not the government.
    To add more fuel to the problem ,there is Alawite Turkish community in the city . I can imagine how the sectarian talk adopted by some Syrians can be harming in these situations.
    Here is a photo album for more than 50 photos from Reyhali’s explosion “graphic” by Brown Moses

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    Moaz Al-Khatib , the ex-president of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition was interviewed by Al Jazeera international. His interview was quite alarming and I believe the National coalition should come forward and either confirm or deny what the Sheikh has said in his short interview.

    Talk to Al Jazeera : Sheikh Moaz Al Khatib

    The Syrian people did not elected the National Coalition nor did it choose those self appointed endless military council. The Syrian people should know the truth now about what is happening behind the closed doors because unlike those Syrian politicians who are staying abroad meeting foreign officials here and there in fancy suits , they have been paying very expensive price for their freedom.


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    Today we had a strong sandstorm in Cairo and Giza since early morning and some Egyptians amazingly expressed their shock and surprise on social media that we have a sandstorm in .. Egypt !!

    Vision was terrible and the weather was extremely hot today. Unfortunately this will continue for another 2 days , at least till Wednesday. I wish it rains in Cairo to make weather better.

    I do know if those people are serious or they are just the victim of bad education system or what. All what I know that this sandstorm is normal thing in spring time in Egypt and that it is called El Khamsin too in case you forget.

    Here how it was earlier today. Please take care while driving.

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    General Abdel Fatah El Sisi created controversy as usual with his statements last Saturday during a war exercise that the army is not the answer to political problems and that the only way was the ballot box.
    The general during the event from "Source"

    Up till now everybody is reading El-Sisi’s statements regarding the legitimacy as they want. For instance a group from the team that wanted the army to topple Morsi are shocked and sad. While the other group from that team believes sincerely that the army is actually preparing for some secret coup in the end because “War is deception”. Some revolutionaries are happy that people are waking up from the military Messiah dream praying that people would act themselves and revolt.
    To give you an example on how the general’s words are translated according to the polarization currently in Egypt ,  General El Sisi said if that the army returns back to the street “aka to lead a coup” , Egypt will return back in time to 40 years ago.
    Those who support the military rule says that the General mentioned “40 years” in particular because he meant October 1973 victory !!“We are celebrating the 40th anniversary this year”
    Those who are opposing the military rule says that General was wise and he meant that the return of the military rule is a setback to Egypt.
    Anyhow I did not stop that much at what El Sisi said regarding what the army will do when it comes to the political crisis in Egypt because the game is on.
    I stopped at what the minister of defense said to journalists during the military exercise when he was asked about who killed our soldiers in Sinai last August. El Sisi said the following :
    I swear by God that we do not know who killed our soldiers up till now , if we know who did it , we will wipe them out of this earth !!
    It seems to me that the general swears a lot by God and with my all due respect there are something I can not ignore especially when it comes to human life.
    In August 2012 General El Sisi was the head of the military intelligence and to claim that he has not known yet who stood behind that brutal criminal act all that time , it is actually a confession of failure.
    Already I remember that in August 2012 as well in March 2013 media claimed that the intelligence knew in advance about the attack and informed the presidency but Morsi ignored the warnings. Did the media lie ?
    It is not about politics here I am afraid. I feel that yet again the soul and blood of humans in Egypt are the cheapest thing ever !!

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    It started as a revolution in Syria then it became as you can see in this cartoon unfortunately.

    Over the weekend the Syrian Observatory for human rights issued a new death toll estimating that more than 80,000 Syrians have been killed , half of them are civilians.

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    Maariv has published a video clip showing the assault of the Israeli police in Jerusalem against Bishop Anthansius of the Egyptian Orthodox Church in Ramallah last week. It is just disgusting

    In an interview to the Israeli newspaper , the 84 years old Bishop said that he was treated like a dog. Of course this attack was not against the Egyptians last week in the Holy city by Israeli Police. Egyptian diplomats were attacked as well.
    Of course Egypt demanded an official apology and it got one from Israel for both the Bishop and the diplomats.
    Despite all these attacks and despite the action taking place in Holy Aqsa Mosque from radical Zionists' attack , Egypt seemed so tamed compared to the fact that we are being ruled by an administration whose members were more vocal against Israel and Zionism for the past 80 years. I am not speaking about crazy actions but Jordan and its king who is more friendly to Israel than our rulers altogether had better action last week when it comes to Al Aqsa.

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    The first time I heard about Fadel Island village for the first time in my life was only last week , exactly a week ago.
    TV Journalist Kareem Farid told me about this forgotten hidden place in Sharkia where there is small village of Palestinian refugees who came to Egypt since 1948 from the Nakba staying there since then. He told me that the village with population of 3000 refugees at least is extremely poor and needs help. He also warned me that I will not find its place on the map and he was right as I could not find any official existence for the village in any Egyptian map or Google map or GPS.
    My only geographical lead is that it is near Abu Kabeer town and it is known there as the Arabs village. I asked everybody about it in Sharkia from members of big families there to reporters of major Egyptian newspapers to labor activists who know everybody. No one knew that this village exist at all let alone there is a Palestinian refugee community there.
    In online search there were very mentions for the place and its history. There was a report for Al Monitor about Palestinian refugees in Egypt that led me to a documentary produced earlier this year by Al Mayadeen TV channel that featured that place with no existence on the map. The documentary “The forgotten ones” was the first media exposure to this small community. Other than that the only mentions I could find were couple of mentions in the official website of the Palestinian embassy in Cairo about how the embassy is helping the village as much as it can.
    Of course now you will find its name mentioned frequently during this week thanks to ONTV show last Friday about itThanks to Kareem Farid and Ahmed Baqawi” and hopefully it will gain more and more attention as it should.
    Last Friday I went there with my friend Maya from Ahram Online and Palestinian activist Ahmed Baqawi. He already told the people there would be guests visiting the small village. It would take three hours in Friday morning to reach our destination from Downtown Cairo.
    When we reached our destination what I found in front of me an extreme poor real Nile Delta village that is not different from any other village in Nile Delta except most of its people got Palestinian travel documents issued from Mogamma El Tahrir as Palestinian refugees.
    The village is encircled by that mud wall around it , you feel that you are entering a maze till you are really inside. The people told me that they made this wall for protection from long time ago.
    DSC05691
    Most of the houses here are made of mud with straw roof while the roads are extremely narrow. There are couple of houses though built by cement and new under construction with red bricks.
    DSC05604
    DSC05607
    The story of the village is better to be known from the elderly who witnessed the Nakba itself. I met 3 of the remaining elderly who came from Beersheba on camels. Originally from one big clan in Beersheba about 6 brothers and their extended families from Bedouins.
    MR. Salman “born in 1930s” told us how his clan used to farm watermelon in Beersheba when they had to leave due to the war. The clan came thinking at first that this was a temporary situation. They built shelters and huts from straw at first then when days and months passed they began to built mud Nile Delta homes.
    DSC05655
    According to MRS. Nafela “born in 1920s” the trip from BeerSheeba to Fadel Island took about 15 days.Riding camels and setting camps all the way till they get to this spot from 65. She was only a bride and came with her husband and his family leaving her mother in Beersheba.
    DSC05664
    I knew that the elderly who ruled the community in the village rejected the idea of marrying from Egyptians hoping one day that they would return back to Palestine. Only two decades the Palestinians in the villages were allowed to marry Egyptians.
    Despite their ancestors started as farmers in this area , the people now in Fadel Island work in plastic recycling. They bring garbage and take plastic to recycle it through melting if I understand correctly. The children work in this process.
    DSC05678
    We met the mayor Mohamed El Nahamawly at a guest room opened by the Palestinian ambassador in Cairo from couple of years ago. Mayor El Nahamawly is the grandson of the man that led the people to this place. He inherited the position from his father. In a Nile Delta accent he explained to us that despite the people there are originally from Palestine yet they are typical Egyptian village. We knew that they got this DSC05570tradition reconciliation system like in Bedouin communities to solve their problems away from the legal system.
    The meeting was like a scene taken from a Tawfik El Hakim novel about Nile Delta mayors. He claimed at first that they did not have any problems in the village and that the embassy is helping them but later he spoke about the problems. The village does not have a sewage system still he claimed that all the other neighbor villages. They have got electricity since 1982. The other problem they have is the lack of health care.
    The people in the village can not have a clinic despite the ministry of health is ready to fund the clinic and to operate it as well because a clinic needs a land. Palestinians can not own land in Egypt yet they can own buildings. From what I see the children in the village need medical care ASAP.
    Already the Children work in garbage and plastic recycle and you can imagine what they are facing.I saw that beautiful baby girl over the shoulders of her brother with inflammation in her eyelid.
    DSC05640
    I saw another small shy boy who approached me asking to be photographed quietly with cleft lip. He told me in a very low voice that his name was Ali.
    DSC05617
    The people are poor there and can not afford to be treated as foreigners in Egyptian hospitals. They can not pay in foreign currency.There are NGOs that can help them a lot as refugees.
    I forgot to tell you that despite knowing that the illiteracy classroom opened by the embassy is not that functional in advance but we found a teacher there wearing a Palestinian scarf. Also Abu Mazen and Yasser Arafat posters were hanged in the classroom.
    DSC05592
    MR. Mohamed Abdel Hamid is a teacher that works in an elementary school in Gazira Al Abazaya. This is the nearest school to the village and it is one kilometer away.
    Education is not a priority in the village , only  30% of the people there are educated while the rest depend on work. Having large families contribute a lot to this problem , I met a man who got 69 grandchild alone !! Already another man told me that big families means some kids learn while other kids work and that having working kids ease the economic woes now !!!!!! BY the way now Palestinians have to pay LE 110 for each travel document which is actually their ID in Egypt , for some big families it is hard to issue travel documents for 16 kids !!
    DSC05558
    Back to education woes , MR. Abdel Hamid told us about other problems facing the Palestinian refugees who learn in Egyptian schools and how 2 month red tape procedures as well presenting security approvals to the ministry of education make the Palestinian students miss the books distributed in the schools.
    Another problem alarms the Palestinians in the rural village is the future of the food supplies. According to the new system adopted by the ministry of supply in Egypt subsidized food including the bread will be distributed by the Egyptian National ID , it is unclear what their fate will be.
    Just a background from 1948 to 1977 Palestinian refugees were treated like Egyptians. They did not have camps here like in Syria or Lebanon. In 1950s President Nasser issued a decision to treat Palestinians like Egyptians. From I understood that decision made the UNRWA unneeded in Egypt. Still in 1977 when President Sadat began moving forward in the Peace Process and the PLO began attacking him to the end of that jazz led him to issue presidential decrees No.48&47 to treat Palestinians like foreigners. For there things become much tougher for Palestinians especially for those forgotten in poor areas like Fadel Island.
    There are two documented immigrations of Palestinian refugees in Egypt. The first one was in 1948 and most of the Palestinians there came from Beersheba and Jaffa. They were only 1800 that came. That wave settled down mainly in Sharkia governorate and its different villages and cities like Fadel Island , Bebilis, Zagzig and Fakous. According to Mr. Abu Olan there are not less than 20,000 Palestinian refugee alone in Sharkia. The elderly who came to Sharkia because it was near to Sinai and it was a temporarily thing.
    The second wave of refugees came to Egypt in 1967 mainly from Gaza and most of them settled down in Al Arish. There are also small communities of 1967 refugees in areas like Banha in Qalubiya and in Aim Shams , Al Mataria and Al Wali in Cairo.
    Here is a photo gallery for the village. I know I had to take more photos.

    I will upload couple of video clips I shot there later.
    If You are interested to help Fadel Island , Egyptian and Palestinian activists are preparing for convoy of aids to the village mainly to help the kids there. Personally I believe there are lots of NGOs that can help the village and its people. At least it will lift the burden on the Egyptian government. 
    By the way Fadel Island is now on the map , check the Google map below that post.

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    I just woke up to know the most annoying news ever , 7 soldiers in Sinai have been kidnapped near Al Arish. The soldiers from army central security forces were kidnapped earlier Thursday from Al Arish international highway. They are 6 CSF conscripts and one army conscript from the borders guards. They were heading back to Cairo on a vacation.

    Officially we do not know who the kidnappers are but security sources told ONA that the kidnappers are the families of a group of locals arrested for storming Al Arish police station. The source added those arrested locals are facing death penalty and that a communication channel with the kidnappers.

    News sources also say that the kidnappers have released one CSF conscript from short time ago.

    There is news that Morsi has summoned both the ministers of defense and interior to meeting at the Presidential Palace. Of course some army sources deny this and is claiming that El Sisi of defense is following the rescue efforts from the ministry of defense. While other sources including Eman Abdel Moneim , the Presidency Correspondence in Anadolu news agency in Egypt says that the meeting was over.

    Nevertheless it is logic that no the army , the police and intelligence are doing their best to save the soldiers because without doubt this reminds people including me with the fiasco of the army soldiers massacre in August 2012.

    As it is main suspect in the August 2012 brutal army soldiers attack on the borders, Hamas has issued a quick statement denying any relation with the kidnap of the soldiers.

    The Pro-Army and Anti-Muslim brotherhood people now on social media of course are speaking about a huge conspiracy taking place against El Sisi to kick him out of the army by the Muslim brotherhood. Well I do not know what conspiracies but there is a problem when soldiers are kidnapped like that in Sinai.

    The story is developing , let’s hope that our army and police soldiers return safe and in one piece.


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    Life in Egypt is stranger than fiction without doubt !! On the same day we are speaking about our kidnapped soldiers and the tunnels in Al Arish to find a photo report about KFC delivery to Gaza through tunnels !!!!!! Xinhua published the report today and it is making headlines worldwide. Yes it turns out Gazans buy from KFC in Al Arish and smuggle the orders through the tunnels. It turns out that if you are in Gaza you can order KFC through Ymama Delivery service.
    Now Order KFC from Ymama "Ymama FB"
    You place the order and they will send its boys to cross the tunnels then go to KFC branch in Al Arish to get the order. The boys then return back through the tunnel with the orders.
    KFC orders inside the tunnel "Xinhua"
    Ymama delivery boy with KFC meals "Xinhua"
    It would take 4 hours to enjoy the colonel's secret recipe in Gaza.I wonder how many Gazans got food poisoning from KFC after all !!
    Ymama is extremely happy with the publicity it got today internationally according to its Facebook page.
    Of course this is the biggest advertising for KFC after the Egyptian revolution in Tahrir square !!
    By the way back to the main news today in Cairo , the kidnap of the conscripts in Sinai ; Hamas announced that it closed the tunnels today from its side. I think today there will be no KFC delivered to the sector !! 

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    The vessel in Blue Hole by Elon Schutze 
    Today Sinai is in the heart of the news and most of the news are not good. The latest news is not national security related but environment related , it is more of environmental disaster to be accurate.
    Several coral reefs were devastated last Wednesday in South Sinai in famous diving in Blue Hole and Canyon areas to be accurate.
    It turned out that a foreign vessel called "Sea Lord" swerved from its course and lowered its anchor in to the reef bed destroying the coral reefs !! The vessel is 120 meter long and I do not understand how it went there and nobody noticed it from coast guards and navy !!
    Some sources that the ship was on drift in the international water so I do not understand how it did not receive help or why it came to our waters and did what it had done !! By the way we do not know the nationality of this vessel.
    The photo above was sent to the Rescue and Environment protection society to a dear friend and I asked him if I can publish it. 

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    And 24 hours have passed and the soldiers that were kidnapped in Sinai earlier Yesterday have been released despite all the news reports , leaks and rumors claiming that they will be released soon.
    First of all according to different 3 sources to close Sinai locals and tribes as military and security sources I know what happened earlier yesterday was as follows : Earlier Thursday families of Salafist prisoners in Tora prison protested against their alleged ill treatment and torture in the prison. Some say that one of the prisoners Hamed Abu Sheita was actually tortured till he lost his sight.
    Younis Makhioun , the leader of Al Nour Party had already published a post about this prisoner in his official Facebook page condemning the prisoner’s torture.
    Now the prisoners’ families and groups cut the highway vowing to kidnapping any official passing by searching the cars and taxis. The 7 conscripts were taking a taxi from their camps to spend their vacation back to Cairo. They were busted thanks to their haircuts and their uniform.
    The prisoners are militants allegedly from Jihadist Salafists who were convicting of killing 5 security officers and one civilians during a series of attacks in summer 2011 on Al Arish city police station and Al Arish branch of Bank of Alexandria. 25 Individuals were charged in the case.
    This is what happened.
    Now I Knew that Abu Sheita family  denied that it stood behind the kidnap but of course it could be not his family but rather his group or his clan or even other prisoners’ families.
    Yesterday Morsi held a meeting with ministers of interior and defense as well the intelligence chief. I believe the photo summarizes the state’s position in my point of view.
    Zoom in and see their faces please "Presidency FB"
    The presidency yesterday issued a statement about the kidnap and the statement was very interesting and made people shocked and angry. In the statement published in the official FB of the Egyptian presidency spokesperson we found the following statement :
    The President gave his orders to continue the efforts to release the kidnapped soldiers and to be keen on keeping both the kidnapped and kidnappers alive
    Mentioning the kidnappers in the statement and giving orders to keep them alive made many people wonder if the President felt sympathy with the kidnappers especially that they are allegedly Islamists.
    Some would say that the president wanted to send a good message to the kidnappers so they would not be alarmed and hurt the kidnapped soldiers.
    Anyhow the police and army personnel are extremely angry and believe that they are being insulted.  The police personnel in Rafah closed the Rafah crossing to protest the kidnapping of the soldiers.
    The average Egyptians feel that Sinai is no longer under the Egyptian state’s control. People are slamming not only Morsi and his administration as well the Islamists but they are slamming minister of defense El Sisi.
    On social media networks you will find the army officers expressing their dismay on how the state is opening a dialogue with the kidnappers to release their colleagues while they can teach those terrorists/kidnappers a lesson in no time releasing the kidnappers.
    Now according to leaks and to what I know personally the military intelligence is the one that leads the negotiations with the kidnappers in Sinai whether in North or South and that it leads the negotiations now regarding the safety of the soldiers. What is more interesting that today we have learned that members of the Muslim brotherhood went to negotiate with the kidnappers as well.
    To be accurate a delegation from the National Council of human rights “Islamist dominated” including Mohamed El Beltagy ,the MB leading headed to Sinai and is having talks there.
    According to news reports the ministry of interior and armed forces agreed on some demands mainly transferring the prisoners from Tora prison to El Akrab prison. “I think El Akrab prison is worse than Tora prison.
    Latest news that there will be an action against the kidnappers. 

    Update : 

    The Egyptian armed forces announced on its Facebook Page that there are military deployments heading to Sinai now. 

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    Just like Jewish community in Egypt , there was big Italian community in Egypt prior 1952. The community found a place in Egypt since 19th century.Spot 1 and Al Jazeera Documentary decide to explore the history of this community.

    The Italians of Egypt_trailer from SPOT1.TV on Vimeo.

    When I think about it Egypt was much tolerant and open to the other with its cosmopolitan nature past more than today despite in the past we did not have many educated people like now.

    I know that we are paying the price of the wrong nationalism policies adopted in 1960s and have been used since then by our presidents. These nationalism policies turned in to ugly chauvinism.

    The documentary was already screened earlier this year and according to its official Facebook page its DVD in Italian is available in Europe. I would like to see the documentary so I will search if there are other versions translated in to English or Arabic.


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    Culture activist Sally Soliman spoke on her twitter account about what happening and is happening to Mohamed Ali Palace in Shubra El Kheima and it is not good.
    First of all Mohamed Ali Palace in Shubra is one of the most oldest and beautiful palaces remaining from Mohamed Ali Era itself. Mohamed Ali Pasha ordered its construction in 1808. The construction of that palace finished in 1812.
    A painting showing the palace during the day of the Pasha
    The Palace is built like the Palaces in Istanbul , extremely beautiful. 
    It was neglected for years yet in 2000 the minister of culture then Farouk Hosni suddenly remembered. Not less than LE50 millions were allocated then for the restoration works in the neglect palace. About 14 experts in the restorations of palaces from Italy and France were brought in to help in its restoration.
    In 2005 it was re-inaugurated by Mubarak in a very big celebration. Of course since then we knew that the palace was being rented for big galas , parties and weddings especially for the VIPs like former NDP leading member and policy maker Mohammed Kamel "He is still in the scene and last thing I know about him was being an adviser to Ahmed Shafik."
    Now Soliman shocked us and told us online that part of the palace is collapsing.

     Part of the Palace , one of
    its dooms collapsed in 2012 and nobody paid attention as usual. Al Ahram Daily published a report then with a picture and nobody moved a muscle. Yes I know we are in transitional period , difficult and soon on but this will be not forever the case.

    It seems that the was corruption as usual in the restoration works. In 2010 Al Masry Al Youm published a report with a video about the neglect in the palace and how the paint used in the restoration works began to collapse after only 5 years of the restoration work.
    Sally Soliman raised important matter. If you remember I wrote once that old original paintings were stolen in 2009 from the palace  and suddenly resurfaced in matter of days in some mystery. Up till now we do not know who stole those paintings and why they were returned and more important : Where the paintings are now !?
    Allegedly they are in some warehouse.
    Another thing she says during the restoration works there were rumors that the original crystal chandeliers from Beligum and Italy were being replaced by Egyptian ones.
    Here is a slide show with photos from the beautiful palace that can bring to Egypt a lot of cash if you treat it like the Turks and their palaces. If the history talk does not work , the money talk does.


    Below the series of Soliman's tweets in Arabic.

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    In a major development today a video surfaced online allegedly for the 7 kidnapped soldiers in Sinai. The kidnapped soldiers identified them and their ages. They demanded to President Morsi to release all Sinai's political detainees. They are blindfolded. They say that they are tortured. They are begging Morsi to release the detainees especially Sheikh Hamda Abu Sheita. "Updated : The video has been removed because it violates YouTube's policy regarding violence"
    We are not less than Gilad Shilat whom Israel traded for 1000 Palestinian prisoners
    Said the soldier Sobhi who directed his talk to both Morsi and El Sisi.
    Hamda Abu Sheita was the one who was allegedly tortured till he lost his sight in Tora prison last week. Abu Sheita was one of the leading figures in the Salafist Jihadists trend in North Sinai. He was arrested last year.
    It is just sad video. The average age of the poor soldiers is 20 years.
    The video is uploaded by "SSAS SSAS" channel in YouTube. The user has joined the video uploading service only today. It was uploaded from 7 hours ago and strangely only now people are paying attention.There is no official reaction about it so far.
    More to come.
    Ok an official reaction :
    The video is studied by the security and military forces , an official reaction to be expected soon.
    In another development Manishet TV show on ONTV announced the Morale department  has sent an order to TV channels not to air the video for fear it would affect the officers' morale !! Ironically this comes after 7 hours of posting the video online. I saw army officers sharing it on twitter already !!
    Anyhow MBC Misr aired the video and Al Youm channel also has aired from short time ago.
    Now here is a photo for Hamda Abu Sheita who seems to be popular among the Salafists as I have found his photo in the Salafist , Jihadist and Hamzoon Facebook page frequently.

    They are saying that he lost his sight from torture. Abu Sheita got a death sentence waiting for him. He was arrested during the Falcon military operation in 2012. His brother Hossam spoke about his brother insisting his innocence and recounting the torture he faced in a post on his FB account last Thursday. Since then he has not posted anything on his account.
    Here is the front page of Akhbar Newspaper tomorrow and it is about the video.
    Other Egyptian TV channels have aired the video included MBC Misr and CBC. The parents of the kidnapped soldiers have confirmed to TV channels that those are their sons.
    All TV channels are discussing what is happening in Sinai.
    According to sources there is new military deployment in North Sinai. Reporters say that security forces are saying the security forces started to evacuate the hotels of Al Arish !!
    The clip has been uploaded on YouTube again.
     Now there are leaks in the newspapers with the names of those suspected in kidnapping. One of the name that stands out is Hany Abu Sheita , the brother of Hamda. Of course Abu Sheita is still insisting that it is not involved in kidnapping.
    Hany Abu Sheita is convicted in the same case of his brother that goes back to 2012. He is a fugitive from what I understood.
    Here is a video for him with his imprisoned brother Hamda.

    I will try to get more info about his family tomorrow. He is the most important lead about the kidnappers.

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    Just today people in Alexandria were shocked in the morning to see the beautiful and iconic Mermaid statue disfigured by some assholes , yes assholes.


    Some idiot or idiots threw blue paint on the beautiful statue made by famous artist Fathy Mahmoud. I am so angry.
    Anyhow a group of Alexandrian activists are having an event to clean the mermaid next Friday.

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    We have got a national security crisis in Egypt , the recent kidnapping of the soldiers in Sinai is a huge challenge for the Egyptian state whether for the Presidency “as in Morsi’s administration” or the army or the police.
    The presidency and the army are in extreme critical position with not much options. All the options come with the price especially we are speaking about Sinai.
    Sinai and its tribes got its own share from neglect and security mistreatment especially in the last ten starting with Taba explosives and what followed it from random arrests by state security. We are not speaking the tamed Nile Valley but a tribal environment with people of high dignity.
    After speaking to several people from Sinai in the past two years I can say the locals especially from tribes did not forget what the ministry of interior. “We will not allow the old days of El Adly and Mubarak to return back” this phrase I heard from locals in Sinai too many times including today.
    I believe the army and the police understand this very well especially the military intelligence that runs the show in the North and the South. Thousands of men were arrested randomly whenever something happens in Sinai and some of them were badly tortured by security forces. They can’t forget the humiliation they faced.
    Another important thing , while talking to people from Sinai over the last two years I found that people there have been warning that Jihadists were roaming around there with the authorities knowledge . Some say that if the ministry of interior and the State want to purge Sinai from all the criminal spots , it will be done in no time.
    By the way people of Cairo and Nile Delta will not understand what I am speaking about as they got their own negative perception about the Bedouins.I believe that the people of Upper Egypt will understand what I am speaking about here clearly after all the major clans in Upper Egypt got their own tribal system.
    Now for the Egyptian state, there are two options and each with a price.

    - Negotiating with the kidnappers fulfilling their demands  :

    Negotiating with the kidnappers and even fulfilling their demands will shake the state’s image. It will make the state look weak so that kidnappers are twisting its arm. If the State fulfills the demands and they are simply to release “Sinai’s political detainees” , everyone will kidnap soldiers and officers. In other words it will be  like “the terrorists have won”
    The kidnapped soldiers will be released but on the expense of the State’s authority and image.
    Despite the Presidency and army denied that there are negotiations with kidnappers , I am sure that there were and there are still talks through some channels. Otherwise how the state knew the demands of the kidnappers including the transfer of prisoners from one prison to another.
    In hostage situation there must be negotiations stage because actually this stage gives the authorities an opportunity to collect information and assess the whole situation. In fact I will bet the military intelligence will open a channel because it will help other security forces to locate the kidnappers.
    Unfortunately the Egyptian state whether in time of Mubarak or Morsi used to negotiate with kidnappers whether in North or South of Sinai. It was a norm actually in the past years where the tribes , groups and militants kidnap tourists in the south and security forces in the north to get what they want. Most of they want from the Egyptian state is to release their relatives from prison. By the way the military intelligence is responsible for negotiations in these cases.
    Here is extreme short list for previous kidnapping cases that ended by negotiations : “Thanks to dear friend Ahmed Ragab”
    What we see now is not something new but it is rather a norm , the kidnappers used to get what they wanted after talks with the authorities. This is an important fact we are deliberately forgetting for some unknown reason beyond me.

    - Attacking the kidnappers :

    The other option in to attack the kidnappers. To launch an operation in Sinai against the unknown kidnappers bearing the heavy price of consequences. Some say that the special forces “777” and “999” are capable the whole issue in few minutes, well I am sure they can considering they are highly trained but historically and internationally such operations included losses in life , the kidnapped lives to be accurate. Already some Skeptic Egyptians fear from the curse of Larnaca airport operation and Malta operation.
    These two operations are actually classical example for what I mean about high risk of losses when you use force in liberating hostages.
    Even the army is very cautious for real when it comes to this option. It does not want this option actually , not because it is weak on the contrary but because it does not want to get involved in another trap in Sinai. A trap in Sinai starts with fighting unknown Jihadist groups in very difficult areas , if you face enemy like this soon the fighting will spread to include the locals and the tribes. You also got old bad memories when it comes to State Vs. Sinai locals with highly armed society in an area with bad record of wars , I fear we may lose Sinai and the army as well.
    I am not in not the conspiracy theories about MB and Hamas are behind because MB is in deep shit but I look from different perspective.
    Fighting terrorist groups was and is the mission of the ministry of interior and it has got teams trained for this and yet strangely the army seems to be involved completely in the picture. Unfortunately after the horrifying video released on Sunday most Egyptians support military operation option.
    By the way all leaks about the military operation in North we find in the newspapers and news websites are part of a psychological warfare in my view. On one hand  you scare the kidnappers and on the other hand you send a message to the public that your armed forces are there as the strong shield of the state. If there is a true military operation , it will not be announced in this media circus way.
    I am not a security expert but I know rescue operations in areas like this should be more secretive , at least to force the kidnappers to transfer the soldiers to some where else and to take their precaution especially that they seem to know where to hide them in Sinai very well.
    Personally from all what I see I believe that there are on going talks and at the same time there are military deployments in Sinai serving two proposes : Psychological warfare to pressure on the kidnappers and To purge the Jihadist zones if they can.
    Anyhow Today there was a meeting at the Presidential Palace and a group of journalists and TV hosts with President Morsi’s media adviser “Ayman Ali”  and the spokesperson of ministry of interior. During that meeting Ali said the following :
    The Presidency did not negotiate and did not assign anyone to negotiate but it does not stop anyone to have talks except for national security reasons. 
    Regarding  whether there is negotiation or the military operation , Ali said the following :
    There is no negotiation , there is no military operation either because we do not have an enemy army in Sinai. 
    I think these statements can be interpreted in different ways.

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