28 October 2011
On 31 October, a group of researchers, activists and civil society organizations will launch the Egyptian Debt Audit and Cancellation Campaign in coordination with international actions in Europe and Latin America. The main goal of the campaign is to audit and cancel Egypt's foreign debt that was accumulated under ousted President Hosni Mubarak. Based on credit that was extended to a dictatorial regime lacking even minimal standards of accountability, transparency and public oversight, this debt is considered "odious".
Egypt's outstanding foreign debt hovers around $35 billion or 15 percent of the GDP. Some may contend that Egypt is not a heavily indebted country. Foreign debt stock (denominated in foreign currencies) is by no means huge as compared to countries with similar income. Foreign debt service has constantly decreased since the early 1990s. According to the Ministry of Finance, the ratio of foreign debt service (interest and installment payments) to exports was around 6 percent in July/August 2011, which is far from alarming.
But foreign debt is only one side of the story. If domestic debt is considered as well, then Egypt is a heavily indebted country. Domestic debt, which refers to credit denominated in Egyptian pounds, stands at a massive 68 percent of the total GDP. This ratio exceeds the "safe limit" set by the...
28 July 2011
Amr Gharbeia: I was kidnapped by unidentified people under the pretext I was a spy, and threatened with a knife as I was taken to different security agencies
On the evening of the 23rd of July, a group of people abducted Amr Gharbeia, Technology and Freedoms Program Officer for the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), against the backdrop of the bloody battle of Abbassiya which took place on the evening of the 23rd July. The abductors decided he was a member of the April 6th Movement as well as being a spy, and that they had to take him to the military police.
It all began when Amr and a number of his colleagues were participating in the march heading from Tahrir Square to the Military Council headquarters, which was intercepted violently in Abbassiya Square by people dressed in civilian clothing – most of them reckoned to be hired from outside the area. Security forces fired tear gas canisters, while the army maintained their negative neutrality, according to eyewitness reports.
The smear campaign against Amr reached its nadir in his abduction and subsequent journey, in which he was taken from the headquarters of the military police and military investigations, to the general intelligence agency, to the al-Amiriyah police station, and then to the al-Waely police station in Abbassiya, in a series of ironic...
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... The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights encourages freedom of information.