Miss Mabrouk of Egypt

Check the archives too - a lot of good stuff to enjoy. Me myself? Off to new adventures in the blogosphere, if time permits.

Monday, May 23, 2005

First Lady’s Lunch

Actually Suzi, I wouldn’t have minded at all if you had invited me to your day-trip around Cairo with Laura Bush. But don’t tell me all you spoke about was the election plans!

Brotherhood for Democracy

25 leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood are being detained for 15 days; the government doesn’t want them to be an obstacle during the elections. 800 Brotherhood members are kept in jail. Now, as a columnist in WP explains, shutting anyone out of the political process doesn’t gain democracy. Whatever they stand for isn’t anything we should approve of, but by quieting the largest voice of dissent, we’re damaging the process towards democracy more than most realize.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Attack Suspect Dies Suspiciously

The so called ring-leader behind the recent bomb-attacks on two occasions in central Cairo died in prison after repeatedly having banged his head against the wall. During interrogations, he led the authorities towards the whereabouts of the younger brother in the circle. He was later extradited from Libya. Apparently, the deceased also attempted some dramatic escapes when the police was closing in on him. Possible, some of the injuries that were incurred during his flight and arrest might have contributed to his death.

Election Boycotts, Arrests and Support

I have to admit Suzi that the political life that I found quite intriguing just a week ago is becoming utterly boring again. Look at where we are: The opposition parties are boycotting the referendum; the National Party couldn’t care less; brotherhood leaders are being arrested in the usual manner; the Enough movement doesn’t evolve into a public movement; the US president is using diplomatic fingertip skills when expressing support for Egypt’s reform. Nothing has changed, really. Nothing will change.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Money Quote

USA Today: Mubarak's son, Gamal, will not run for president this year but might run later.

"Of course, it's unheard of that the son of a president would become a
president," Nazif joked in a clear reference to Bush.

Business Talk

Still touring the US, Egypt's PM Dr. Nazif entered Business Week’s nest and was due for a rough ride on the state of Egypt’s economy. Instead, the leading magazines’ editors took in his promotional spin without questioning his claims. Would they have treated a PM from a European or Latin American country with the same soft gloves? Of course not, their well-read readers would immediately have spotted the interviewers ignorance on the subject.

Perhaps it’s fair enough. The writers and their audience are getting acquainted with a new world, iced with something as exotic as a well spoken PM from far away Egypt. They will learn. Remember though that each time we’re put aside and treated differently, we’re also reduced to something of less importance.

Suzi, have you noticed, I’m really getting into politics!

Monday, May 16, 2005

No Torture in PM’s Egypt

While Human Right Watch is claiming that detainees sent from US to Egypt are being subject to torture here, PM Nazif on his media-tour in the US confirms that 60 or 70 such detained terrorists has been received, but deny flatly that they would have been tortured. In the same report, however, he says torture, as in police abuse and not as a sanctioned practice, is happening and Egypt will deal with it in the same way the US are dealing with torture in Abu Gharib. Clever move. Worrying though is the quotes in the LA Times interview and article, where he is very tolerant towards the security forces, arguing effectively that the end allows for the means.

"You don't tolerate that. But it happens sometimes," Nazief said.
"And we sometimes have to [excuse] the security forces, who are really
responsible for making our lives safer."

250 Signatures Not Required

PM Nazif is asking the world to be less cynical and more tolerant; what he says in this LA Times interview is basically the classic line: things are not easy, we are doing our best, and we’ll try to do better. Interesting though, he says that the reports that every presidential candidate will need the support of a large number of MP’s are a misconception: candidates from established political parties are free to stand without signatures.

Corrupt & Expired

That’s how Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Mahdi Akef branded the current presidency. He also said his organisation is not trying to oust the president but if the brotherhood finds a candidate from another party approvable, they might offer their support in the elections.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Egyptian Eye on Martha Stewart

Suzi love, don’t miss this funny piece on the Stewart case seen by an Egyptian. Quote:

There must be more to it than meets the eye. It is obvious that she
must have crossed some red line and was set up. Someone must have tapped her
phone and overheard a disparaging remark about President Bush or his family. We
are confident President Bush is grooming one of his daughters to take over after
his second term; Mrs. Stewart found out and talked to someone about the

One more quote, because it’s hilarious:

Our security forces out here believe the Americans did not handle
this the smart way. They even allowed the ungrateful woman access to a lawyer.
Had they asked for some advice on planting some additional charges, we have a
full course on that in our police academy.

Un-heavenly Blast Attack

18 people die in an attack that injured 57 villagers who were leaving the mosque after prayers. An exploding gas can were thrown from a window of a house were it had caught fire. God Bless the pour souls.

Brotherhood, Not a Party

Meanwhile, as reports are coming through that the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood is not going to run, Nazif makes it clear that this organisation will not qualify as a legitimate party anyway. Good. They’re not legit. They might become in the future. Until then, don’t let the world think they are.

Referendum Rather than Election

PM Nazif is straight about it; this is not going to be an election. AP describes it as a “rare burst of openness.” Suzi sweet, they don’t know Ahmed Nazif. He remains diplomatic over the issue of international monitors though. Catch 22: Allowing election observers would embarrass Egypt once the dirty practises are exposed. Rejecting the observers would indicate something is wrong. Here’s a money quote on Al-Jazeera:

“Rejection would be seen as an admission that Egyptian elections do not meet
international standards. Acceptance could expose electoral practices that human
rights groups say include stuffing ballot boxes, arresting opposition organisers
and using police to intimidate voters.”

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Rubin’s Point

Suzi dear, Barry Rubin in JP may not be your favourite columnist but he has a point – or prove me wrong – on why we shouldn’t expect too much out of recent political games. I know, I’m awfully dull who keeps talking about all this, I guess it’s my newfound interest in politics!

The Vote – The End

As expected the parliament's upper house voted for the constitutional amendment. No one thought anything else; their main function is after all to rubber stamp whatever is coming from above. Problem is, things can’t be static for ever and at 77, looking more tired for every year, your husbands need a better exit strategy if people are going to remember him as the man who finally brought about change. This way, we don’t have to fear insurrection and instability, but we are not moving forward. Unless Honsey has another card in his sleeve, not something he is known too. Surprise me Suzi, I want to know more!

Violent Exchange

Upsi… we send our best brains to their country where they get educated, earn a lot of money. Now it turns out the US in return send us loads of radicals to be… well, tortured here. Human Rights Watch (HRW) have identified 61 such doomed travellers since 1994. Someone Suzie seems to get a kick out of this, time to clean the house, not everybody running around the palace are the lambs they appear to be. I’m disgusted, to say the least.

Gorgeous King Tut

Pictures of what the boy-king Tutankhamon really looked like are available here (NG) and here (Telegraph). Never mind this writer was disappointed and didn’t think Tut was that handsome at all. Was he expecting a blond American college jock? This is pure beauty and I tell you Suzi, I’ve been travelling this country up and down, there are plenty of look-alikes around!

Monday, May 09, 2005

Tomorrow’s Crucial Vote

Suzi Suzi. The draft to change the constitution to allow more presidential candidates is vetted in the parliament’s upper house tomorrow. The observers quoted in this Reuters story as well as this piece from FT are not enthusiastic. In their opinion, opposition candidates will not have a fair chance. They will never get the approval needed by the incumbent’s party that will be necessary according to this suggested bill. What on earth is going on? Is this really the end of the reform? I never doubted you and Honsey would stay in your lovely palace and perform your duties as the country’s first His and Hers but I really did expect changes that would set the republic on the right cause for the future.

3,000 Women Demonstrate

In Alexandria, 3,000 female supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood demonstrated for democratic reform. Stay tuned and see if this AP story soon appears elsewhere.

Tourism Dented by Attacks?

Apparently not since number of arrivals are still increasing. Yet, it is too early to say, we don’t have the figures yet of where people have booked their winter holidays. With more attacks, it might change drastically. Pity, for as the minister of tourism says, a million more visitors to Egypt would create 200,000 more jobs in the country.

More Attacks, Renewed Violence?

AP (in the Guardian) is one step ahead again, asking the question we’d rather not think about but are forced to. The answer is obvious: of course things might get worse -- though this writer states it in a more moderate way.

Election Rules Approved

The Parliament’s upper house has approved the changed election rules. A prominent member of the opposition says the way the bill is drafted; it won’t make a big difference and should therefore be rejected.

Bomber’s Brother Extradited

Mohammed Yousri Yassin, 17, extradited from Libya for his suspected connection with the April 30 bombing and shooting. Another young man on the wrong path, it’s a tragedy. God Bless him and his family.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Bomber’s Brother Caught

The younger brother of the last brother has apparently been caught in Libya where he was hiding with friends. Good, at least we know he isn’t roaming the streets with a home made bomb strapped to his chest. I fear he has a rough time ahead. It would be a shame if we didn’t learn from him what exactly went on in that family and group of friends.

Challenger IV

Look Suzi, this will really please you: now the brotherhood’s leader is announcing his candidacy, it’s the best opposition the ruling party could ask for, now everybody will vote for the incumbent! We’re told that his party hasn’t endorsed him yet; the announcement was made from prison so he didn’t really have time to consult anyone. Meanwhile, Bush is offering support that may not be very wanted, but what he says is right: free elections monitored by international observers should be the rule. Well, not in my life time I suppose.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Challenger III

It’s hot under Nour’s feet as his entourage is attacked on their way to the party headquarters; an attempt to assassinate him, according to himself. Yani, he might not be the most popular cat around the block but violence is unacceptable and being a parliamentarian and candidate for the presidency, he ought to be protected by security forces, not fear them.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday Mr. President – yesterday’s turbulence over demonstrations and arrests made me forget your husband’s 77th birthday celebration. (Of course I received the invitation, thank you; I just couldn’t handle my headaches). Another celebrant is your own neighbourhood Heliopolis – 100 years that is.

Spring of Change?

The protests are getting larger: this week it was the Muslim Brotherhood that took to the streets – and were arrested – around the country, including Fayoum, Zagazig, Kafr El Sheik. In Alexandria and other cities, police prevented demonstrations. In Cairo, protesters were kept within the compound of the Al Fateh mosque. No Suzi, I don’t think this is the spring of change the nation has been talking about for decades, the protest hasn’t reached a popular momentum. But the growing demonstrations ought to make some people in the presidential court to think twice about the future. Having said that, I too hope that the Muslim Brotherhood remain on the sideline: opposition and debate is always good but any opposition isn’t good opposition.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Feminist Contender

Nawal is in the papers again and I think she has a point: even if she wasn’t a candidate she should be allowed to hold meetings. Don’t you think so too, Suzi?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Maintaining Peace and Order

Despite reports, security hasn’t increased significantly downtown or around tourist sites; there were plenty of troops before and more couldn’t have been added without signalling an outright war, thus increasing tensions in the city. The police are doing a good job; some things cannot always be hindered. I’m not so sure I approve of their methods for intelligence gathering though; 200 people have been detained. But I must admit it is probably effective, not taking the anger and fear it causes into consideration. Meanwhile, the PM is trying to calm the foreign press. Applauses also to the minister of information who had a very sound analysis right after the attack (I lost the link, sorry).

Tragedy of a Bomber

Again we hear the story of how a young beloved man (and in this case also two women) is becoming disenchanted with the future and get their minds set to a dangerous path without a way back. They didn’t deserve this fate. Only they are responsible for their actions, but their lives could have become so different. Look at the picture of Ehab, then the images of the havoc he created. It is not what God wanted for him.

Prayer Blast

Larger issues are at your husbands hand but this article raises a topic I wanted to discuss with you for a long time: the tyranny of the morning prayer calls. Don’t get me wrong; I love the prayer calls when it’s done with love and care, which I think is what the Prophet intended. It’s not many years ago when I still looked forward to the beautiful chanting from the minarets. Now, when shops and garages are turned into minor mosques and equipped with large loudspeakers attended by people who care more about showing they do their duties than doing it right, we’re talking serious noise pollution for a majority of the city’s inhabitants.

Weekend Blast

Suzi dear, everything happened so fast on Friday I didn’t have time to tell you: I rushed off to Alexandria for a weekend by the sea – again! Isn’t he adorable who remembers my fondness for the city and takes me there on every possible occasion? I received the news about the bombings in Cairo while I was away, just as when I last visited Alexandria. Maybe an angel is making sure I am away. It’s a tragedy, I need to gather my bearings and write you again in an hour or so. Kisses.