26 June 2011
I wanted to write about Magid even before he became a star. At this moment I'll hardly be the first one to have written about him but at least now I can justify why I wanted to write about this young man from Alexandria other than simply having immense admiration and respect for his character.
I met Magid almost a year ago when we started working together through a civil society coalition, the Forum to Fight Stigma and Discrimination Against People Living with HIV/AIDS, of which our respective organizations are members. Magid is a 31 year old Egyptian man living with HIV. Now typically in most Arab countries that doesn't make for a star. People living with HIV/AIDS in Egypt have long been shun from society and harshly discriminated against. So bad was the stigma that never has anyone living with HIV been able to make a public appearance announcing their status. Which is precisely what makes Magid now a star.
Only a few weeks ago Magid stood up at a podium in front of a room packed with press and journalists and publicly spoke of the burden of carrying a virus not-as-deadly-as- the-world -originally-thought and begged the audience to take a moment to reflect on the myths and misconceptions that surround it. The press conference was organized by the Forum which brings together 14 different organizations that work on issues related to HIV/...
5 June 2011
EIPR senior researcher Sarah Carr reports from the Giza court.
Malek Adly, a lawyer with the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, is waiting inside the secretariat of the South Giza Chief Prosecutor for a chance to see the Chief Prosecutor. He is to launch an inquiry into why last month a traffic policeman shot Tuk-Tuk driver Mahmoud Sobhy twice and why Sobhy was then himself taken from hospital to a police station cell and charged with assault.
Adly appeared about half an hour later. The Chief Prosecutor had not consented to see him in person and had sent him a message via an assistant: “We will look into the case if we see fit”.
The lawyers’ outdoor café next to the courthouse is filled with brightly colored plastic furniture, like Lego. Mahmoud Sobhy’s 4-year-old son, a tiny frail boy, disappears amongst the furniture, brandishing an LE 10 note in the air as he chases a waiter asking for orange juice in an inaudible voice. He is ignored until his mother, Samar Abul Magd, intercedes on his behalf twenty minutes later.
She continues describing how she heard about what had happened to Sobhy.
“I got a call from a friend of Mahmoud’s asking me where I was. I heard people in the background saying, ‘don’t tell his wife, don’t tell his wife’”, Abul Magd says.
On May 18 2011 Sobhy’s brother Hassan was...
8 May 2011
EIPR senior researcher Sarah Carr was in Imbaba last night and wrote the following account of the violent Muslim-Christian clashes that left at least 12 dead and over 200 injured.
The Mar Mina Church is located on Loqsor St, a long unmade road from that branch off the warren of small alleys that make up Imbaba.
Taxi drivers will not risk damaging their chassis here and instead Toctocs – motorised rickshaws – transport passengers over the bumps and potholes.
We arrived at around 11 p.m. and found a wall of people assembled around 100 metres away from the church, held back by three army armed personnel carriers and a row of riot police – armed with batons and tear gas but apparently doing nothing; the sound of gunfire rang out regularly from behind the cordon.
We spoke to a man, Amir Maurice Aziz, who said that he had witnessed events since they began at 4 p.m. He told us that an armed group of Salafis attacked the church “because they wanted the woman that converted to Christianity”.
“They say that the priests are holding the woman inside the church”, Aziz said.
All of the people spoke to said that the events began the same way; with a rumour...
29 March 2011
When I arrived (late) at the Doctors’ Syndicate general assembly on Friday it was in uproar.Syndicate head Dr Hamdy El-Sayyed was conspicuously and predictably absent from the podium. After losing his seat in the 2010 parliamentary elections (a seat he held for three parliamentary terms) El-Sayyed was then subjected to the indignity of being booted out of his Syndicate headquarters office by doctors demanding that he step down.El-Sayyed has been head of the Syndicate for four successive terms. Elections haven’t been held since the early 1990s. In 1995 amendments to the law resulted in the boards of several Syndicates including the Doctors’ Syndicate being “frozen”. The amendments were held unconstitutional in January of this year.In the meantime doctors had over a decade of that spectral man staring out unblinkingly from behind his glasses and blocking any genuine attempt to improve doctors’ wages and conditions where it meant a confrontation with the National Democratic Party, of which he is a member.In its basest form this took the form of legalistic obfuscation and subterfuge, as in March 2008 when doctors voted overwhelmingly for symbolic strike action in a heated general assembly. The vote was...
12 March 2011
Two weeks before he accepted the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs in the transitional government, Minister Nabil el-Araby wrote an article in the Al Shourouk daily newspaper outlining necessary changes that are needed for the foreign policy of a post-revolutionary Egypt. Below is an unofficial English translation of the article prepared by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. The original article (in Arabic) could be found here.It’s time to review our foreign policyNabil el- ArabyAl Shorouk, 19 February 2011The white revolution led by the January 25 youth and supported by all segments of the Egyptian people was a defining historical moment and will always remain a beacon lighting the path for all peoples of the world.The revolution holds many important lessons that will no doubt occupy political analysts in the halls of government and academia for years to come.Now we are at the beginning of a new phase in which everyone hopes that Egypt will be blessed with good governance that achieves a sound democracy, respect for human rights and equality for all without discrimination. The mission now is to establish a modern, secular state in which the rule of law holds sway and...
8 March 2011
An Egyptian human rights worker takes a walk inside the abandoned State Security Investigations headquarters.
I used to love entering abandoned buildings as a kid, for the adventure and the thrill of finding belongings left behind, clues to the untold stories silenced by the walls. Yesterday I entered an abandoned building that contains a million stories, all of them of deceit, pain and power.
The Nasr City State Security Investigations (SSI) headquarters is a peculiar fortress-like building combining drab box like buildings with the sensuous curves of gun turrets and the circular building at its centre. A friend of mine who was kidnapped and detained there in 2009 says that while blindfolded he was repeatedly forced to walk round on a circular path. Maybe that was one of its uses. Exercise.
Protestors, watched by the army, entered the building around 6.30 p.m. The protest had begun at 4 p.m. A relatively large number of the protestors were men with beards and therefore fitted the profile of Nasr City State Security’s main clientele; individuals identified as “Islamist” and therefore legitimate targets by security officers. Emergency law powers allow state security officers to operate with virtual impunity, and the results of this policy entered the building yesterday, furious and defiant.
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