Tag Archives: Egypt

Egyptian General El Sisi: “Thank You For My Self-Nomination”

To my beloved citizens of Egypt:

 

This is a letter for all those who have over-glorified my actions and baked my future as your next president into cake. I do not deserve to have my picture on your chocolates and colognes, for I have done nothing to earn them. But I have earned your undying, political support and for that, I must thank you for my ultimate decision to nominate myself.

Since June 30 of last year, we have been a nation moving forward, united together under the cause we have rallied for since Jan. 25, 2011: the freedoms and prosperity we were deprived of under the dictatorial rule of Mubarak and our year-long bump in the road, Morsi.

I must admit I fear that you will call for my removal, as you did my predecessors, and no longer love me like you have all so ardently professed. Yet, I hope to prove to you that if — no, when — I do win the presidential elections (TBA), I will execute the vague vision that I have for Egypt. It helps that I am running unopposed; I have your unwavering loyalty to thank for that. Its strength has scared all other potential competition from even attempting to establish a campaign.

Until the election results are announced, I will make sure to clear the way for a smooth transition to this coveted office — by others, of course, not me. This means sweeping away the cobwebs of the previous regime and ensuring a clean slate for what I hope to accomplish.

I have all my branches of government partnering with me, in terms of executing this plan most efficiently. Speaking of executing plans, the judicial courts have sentenced 529 Morsi supporters to death. This move is necessary in the eradication of any potential radical terrorists or future opposition. And thankfully, we have guaranteed a pristine press image of our nation with the imprisonment of any media personalities, journalists or writers that might report what we hope the world or our allies might turn a blind eye to.

We must remain the epitome of hope and simultaneous power in the region, or else we fall. Returning to past authoritarian regimes is not an option. We must continue to operate under the illusion of progress and action. Our AIDS/HIV cure will be a large portion in the development of this image.

And do not worry. You will be the first of the last to know when I do establish the platform I plan to run on, besides the complete and unshakable confidence I have that you will vote for me anyways.

Also, shut up your mouse, Obama.*

Tahya Masr**,

General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi

Deputy Prime Minister of Egypt

Recently Resigned Minister of Defense

Future President of Egypt

 

* In reference to a viral video clip featuring an Egyptian woman shouting her support for General el-Sisi and saying “Shut up your mouse, Obama” instead of ‘mouth’.

** “Long live, Egypt”

DISCLAIMER: This piece was printed as part of The Foghorn’s April Fool’s Day issue on April 1st, 2014. This article is intended to be satirical.

Satire Proves Egypt’s Revolution didn’t Fail

Whether or not the Egyptian Revolution can be deemed successful is not clear, but the demands of the revolution were clear from the beginning: A’ash, Horeya weh A’adala Egtema’aya, meaning “Bread, Freedom and Social Justice” — a three word mission reminiscent of the French Revolution’s “Liberté, égalité, fraternité”.

Many would say that Egypt’s only achievement since January 25, 2011 was the removal of former-President Hosni Mubarak. Still, Egypt is not the same Egypt that existed before January 2011. I am not simply writing about the intermittent violence in the streets, but about those genuinely participating, still calling for the basic rights they deserve.

Take the example of Bassem Youssef,  a former cardiothoracic surgeon. He found his calling in the most provocative occupation one could take on in the Middle East — a political satire comedian in the style of Jon Stewart, the first ever in the region. Before this, Egyptian state television and newspapers were routinely censored out of fear of the government’s reaction to controversial media statements. There was always a tacit line that could never be crossed, and many newscasters and journalists were imprisoned and made an example of for speaking out against the regime.

Youssef’s show “El Bernameg” (literally translating as “The Show”) is representative of the dam of oppression that broke with the fall of Mubarak’s administration. His humor and satirical responses to the political contradictions of the current government under President Mohammed Morsi educates people on the recent constitutional referendums and other national issues. Always pushing the boundaries, he goes all out in making fun of the president and other major politicians. His empowered viewers believe that the program speaks to the government on their behalf.

Social and political criticism is still not accepted easily in Egypt, even as so many have fought for the right to dish it out. Even prominent interview host, Emad Adeeb, found cause to sue “El Bernameg” for comparing his pre-revolution and post-revolution political stances, calling it “insult and defamation” — and in the process highlighting that no one, no matter one’s title or status, is above being targeted on the show. Youssef drew up a contract with the channel’s owner to make sure that no topic would be off limits for him, and despite all the controversy it sparks.  His YouTube channel continues to be the most subscribed-to channel in Egypt.

Egyptians know that they have not attained the complete democracy they have been fighting for these past two years, but at least now, Egyptians can speak their mind without fear; they know that for every inadmissible move the new President or government makes, they can grab their openly-furious signs and chant in the streets for change. Youssef’s “El Bernameg” represents the charged spirit of the country and its people. But, of course, this newborn freedom of speech, press and general expression is only one step in the direction of fulfilling the three demands of el thawra (the revolution).

Former Indian Amabassador to United Nations Says Arab Spring is “Awakening” at USF Lecture

The uprisings are not definitive in goals, are not determinate in their pace, are not inclusive in terms of participants and beneficiaries, and irreversible in their direction.

In December 2010, Tunisian vegetable seller Mohammed Bouazizi went to the provincial headquarters in his town Sidi Bouzid to file a complaint about the mistreatment he recently endured from a policewoman. The woman had confiscated his vegetable cart, fined him, and insulted him. The refusal of the local municipality officials to see him resulted in a powerful political statement that nobody could have predicted. Bouazizi poured fuel over his body and set himself on fire in front of the headquarters for officials and civilians to see. Bouazizi died less than a month later, commanding attention to a political revolution years in the making.

“Bouazizi was a catalyst,” said Honorary Ambassador Rajendra Abhyankar to an audience of USF students and professors at his discussion, “The Arab Spring: How Did It Get Here and Where Is It Going?” on Nov. 19. Abhyankar is an Indian diplomat who lived in the Middle East for 13 years. From 1998 to 2001, he was the Indian consul general in San Francisco.

By setting fire to himself, Bouazizi ignited global awareness about the current unrest in the Middle East that Abhyankar refers to as the “Arab Awakening,” which is known to many as the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring is a revolution of protests, wars, and demonstrations of Arab nationals dissatisfied with the government and socioeconomic status of their countries. The protests have resulted in the overthrow of rulers in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen. Uprisings have broken out in 20 Middle Eastern countries. Abhyankar explained that ‘awakening’ is a more descriptive term of the circumstances, which he says have been a “process” of events rather than one “spring” of uprisings.

While Bouazizi’s fatal and powerful political statement brought the Arab Spring to the forefront of international news in December 2010, Arab citizens of the Middle East countries have long been protesting for governmental change. According to Abhyankar, the protests are unorganized and driven by younger generations aiming to reform the military, the current social contract, the broken education system, and women’s rights.

Abhyankar pointed out that the armies in Middle Eastern countries are “a state within a state,” meaning it is the army that determines foreign and defense policies. The government uses the current social contract as a suppression tool to combat civilian opposition, he said. “Holders of power make available all the things they believe citizens should want and in return expect people to remain silent about politics.” This vicious cycle is only made worse by the broken education system, which Abhyankar said provides “no possibility for enterprise.”

With more than half of the Middle East population under 35, the desire to protest for reform is incredibly intense, however, Abhyankar pointed out that the goals of these uprisings are difficult to pinpoint. “The uprisings are not definitive in goals, are not determinate in their pace, are not inclusive in terms of participants and beneficiaries, and irreversible in their direction,” he said, summing up the uncertainty surrounding the direction of the uprisings. Although the nature of these protests is spontaneous and highly unorganized in terms of concise goals, they all call for complete government reformation. What this reformation will look like is the most unclear. Citizens are in favor of democracy with Islamic inspiration,  but the question is whether or not Islam will be compatible with democracy. Supremacy of parliament, an independent judiciary, and a constitution under the widest consensus are the desired elements of democracy that the Arab people are fighting for.

“How do we get there?” was Abhyankar’s main question. He pointed to other government methods, such as those in Turkey, Iran, and Lebanon as models to look toward. Egypt, also, plays a crucial role in determining the fate of Middle Eastern governments. “Egypt represents two extremes: an elected president for the first time and a constitution panel that is 50% Islam” said Abhyankar. “Egypt is the most populous Middle East country and what happens there will influence what happens in other Middle East countries,” he said.

While the ideality behind the Arab awakening is to move these countries forward toward democracy and civilian controlled militaries, these protests have been the cause of much internal political instability, increased religious intolerance, and slow downs of economic growth. Having someone like Ambassador Rajendra Abhyankar come to USF and bring first hand insight into this crisis brought invaluable perspective to USF students. Caroline Earling, a junior international studies major, found the conversation “relevant” and said, “USF needs more speakers like this.” Hans Jacobs, a sophomore also majoring in international studies agreed. “It was interesting to hear what he had to say,” he said, adding that he was satisfied with the quality of information.

After the discussion, Abhyankar said he was content with students’ questions and ended by commenting on how interesting it was to have a discussion about countries in the midst of fighting for democracy in San Francisco, a city “known for democracy.”

Foghorn Staff Has a Final Word on Protests

Often one can see a protest or a demonstration and wonder if all that effort is worth the trouble. When the United States decided to invade Iraq in 2003,  thousands turned out in the United States (indeed, millions around the world) to protest the invasion. On February 15, 2003, 3 million of people turned out in Rome alone against the U.S.’ intentions.

The end result of some of the most vocal public expressions in history?  The invasion of Iraq went forward, as planned, and operations continued in that country for seven years.

San Francisco is no stranger to protest. On April 13th, for example, at San Francisco Sate, dozens of students occupied the administrations building at their university to protest tuition hikes and overcrowded classrooms. As it stands now, tuition will still rise, and classrooms will still be crowded as before.

So it comes as surprise to when public displays of opinion do effect change, both on campus and off. In the case of off-campus change, most notably, we have the people-initiated revolutions of Egypt and Tunisia, which sucessfully occurred without the military intervention of foreign governments and were largely peaceful.

In the case of on-campus change, we have Upward Bound, where university leadership had first decided to sever ties with the program when the contract expired in 2012. After a consistent public outcry in the form of vocal town hall meetings and two campus protests, USF has now decided to renew sponsorship for Upward Bound and allow for its limited use of university facilities.

The Foghorn is not saying that all our problems, both campus-wide and globally, have been solved through public demonstrations. For example, Libya and Syria’s demonstrations for government change were met with violent and forceful resistance from Muammar Qadaffi and Bashar al-Assad, respectively.

Back at home, when KUSF went off the air suddenly in late January, the station rallied support for its reinstatement through hosting public events (see KUSF Lives(s)) and through petitions to the FCC. However, the doors to the old radio studio and transmitter are still locked. Also, the optimistic news of the FCC initially blocking of the transfer of KUSF’s transmitter was dampened by construction permit the FCC issued on April 12 to KDFC for a new transmitter in Sausalito, implying an eventual completion of the transfer of the 90.3 signal to KDFC.

In short, the Foghorn is advocating this: advocate however you can, because it does have an impact. It is worth the trouble to protest, demonstrate,  and advocate  (in the special case of the USF community), for both our student interests and for the rights and concerns of people around the world.

Whether the fight is to keep a funded account’s budget from going under the knife year after year, or to inform the university of the troubles its new housing policy has generated for underclassmen seeking housing, or to rally against military endeavors your government does in your name, demonstration and public expression is important and necessary; The alternative; i.e., apathy, automatically makes change an impossibility.

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief copy-editor: Natalie Cappetta

Opinion Editor: Vicente Patino

Professors and Students Talk Egypt at USF Teach-In

It has been dubbed the “18-Day Revolution,” the internationally acclaimed movement that saw millions of Egyptian organizers end the 30-year dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak.

“This story on Egypt, more Americans are following this than any international event not directly involving the United States in history. It really has struck a cord—really inspired people,” said Politics Professor Stephen Zunes at a teach-in event held last Monday.

To educate the community about how and why Egypt’s uprising took place, USF’s Muslim Association and YALLA! Students in Solidarity organized a three-hour event called “Egypt’s Uprising: To and From Liberation Square.”

The teach-in featured a panel of four USF professors and skype interviews of outside guests who partook in Egypt’s uprising firsthand. Topics ranged from the influence of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East to the roles of youth and social media, and a historical breakdown leading up to the uprising.

Protests emerged in Cairo, Alexandria and other cities from Jan. 25 to Feb. 11 as a result of Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship in restricting free speech and free elections (next in line for the presidency was Mubarak’s son), high unemployment rates including university graduates, and the emergency law that extended police powers and denied constitutional rights.

Boston University graduate Zane Ahmadein, who lives in Egypt, shared his experience in the demonstrations. Ahmadein said he became involved after friends described to him the situation of the Jan. 25 revolts, and influenced by his instincts of right and wrong, he began demonstrating the next day.

Within moments of stepping into the demonstration on Jan. 26, Ahmadein said he saw a shotgun aimed at him. Unaware of what type of guns the police were using, he realized “it was just a sound gun, and it wasn’t directed at me it was directed at the crowd.”
What first began with peaceful chants erupted into turmoil as police forces charged at the demonstrators “at full speed, and hit anyone that they got in touch with.”

“Eventually it got to a point where I felt my life was in danger,” Ahmadein said.

Ahmadein joined another peaceful protest that same week when the Egyptian government disconnected mobile phones and the internet to limit communication between demonstrators.

At this demonstration, police once again used brutal force against the demonstrators, including the use of tear gas. Ahmadein said he witnessed individuals lose their lives, even some who had been decapitated.

Although demonstrations were meant to be peaceful, Ahmadein said protestors only used violence as defense and reciprocated police attacks.

Politics Professor Shalendra Sharma delved into the dictatorship of Hosni Mabarak as a disappointment to the Egyptian people. “Egypt used to be a trend setter in the Arab world, it was the place of high culture, of music and literature. Then it became bleak and a drab place. Then you had the emperors and you had the Dubai’s of the world, the materialism…and the Egyptians resented it quickly,” he said.

Prior to Mubarak’s presidency, Gamal Abdel Nasser was Egypt’s second president from 1956 until his untimely death in 1970. He is known for his role in helping overthrow the monarchy in Egypt and Sudan. Although his legacy had mixed criticisms, he was greatly admired by the Arab world for his anti-imperialist efforts.

After Nasser’s death, Vice President Anwar El-Sadat took his place as president, but was assassinated in 1981 after declaring peace with Israel, which was viewed as an act of deceit in the Arab world.

Mubarak began his 30-year reign thereafter. “For all the sense of propriety offended Egyptians, the sheer arrogance that somehow only him and his son can rule Egypt…in the sense he became the pharaoh, and unlike Sadat, and unlike to some extent Nasser, he broke the moral contract of his people,” Professor Sharma said.

Professor Zune said, “For decades, Mubarak was considered what we call a friendly dictator,”

“Over the past 30 years, both the Republican and Democratic administrations took 70 billion dollars of our tax money—money that could have been used for education, healthcare, housing, public transportation…to crop up the Mubarak regime, primarily in the form of military aid.”

According to Professor Zune, the United States has supported Egypt through military aid because the White House considers Egypt an important ally.

To President Barack Obama’s credit, Professor Zune said, “he spoke strongly against shutting down the internet and threatened to cut-off military aid…if U.S. weapons were used in massacre or other form of oppression and eventually called for speedy transition to democracy.”

But the United States did not play a role in the transition to democracy. Mubarak’s resignation Mubarak on Feb. 11 is all in credit to the demonstrators, because even the strongest dictators cannot rule without the cooperation of people.

“Who deserves credit for the Egyptian Revolution?  It’s the Egyptian people,” Professor Zune said.
In the fight for justice, Egyptian activist Zena Sallam said action must be taken into people’s own hands. “If we don’t act on it, then who will? We’ve lost trust in the government. We’ve lost trust in what they can provide us with…it’s time to be accountable and it’s time to be responsible.”

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Natalie Cappetta

News Editor: Ericka Montes

Students Must Continue to Address Both On-Campus and Global Issues

It is now six weeks into the spring 2011 semester; in that time, the USF community has witnessed significant happenings both close to home and very nearly halfway around the world.     Noteworthy, important events are unfolding in what seem to be the parallel worlds of USF’s campus and the Middle East; the university’s student body has risen to the occasion on both fronts to engage with the world, whether it be locally or on a global scale.

This semester, the Foghorn has communicated to its readership the importance of student engagement, involvement, and awareness. Now, as we approach the halfway point of the semester, we would like to take the time to encourage and promote what we see as optimistic signs of increased student concern and subsequent action with issues they find important to them.

The level and variety of student initiative we have seen recently has been especially relevant and visible as in the following example.

In this last week alone, our campus hosted at least three rallies supporting three separate causes. First, undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and community leaders plan to demonstrate today in front of St. Ignatius church to inform the university leadership of their desire to keep to Upward Bound, a federal high school preparatory program for disadvantaged youth, on USF grounds. Second, the university’s radio station, KUSF, held a teach-in on Monday to discuss the transfer of the 90.3 FM signal which resulted in the station being forced off the air without notice days before the semester began; Finally, later in the evening that same day, another teach-in, this time focusing on the history-making revolutions in Egypt and the Middle East, in was held in Fromm Hall.

While the breadth if topics being covered this week in these student-led actions may only be the result of a scheduling confluence, we at the Foghorn view this as evidence of the strength and increasing momentum of  the student body. Students are being proactive about the condition of the world around them, and are realistically, practically tackling issues and challenges in the local and international community.

Internally, students are defending their freedom of speech and communicating their wish to have administrative decisions made collegially and transparently in the form of the KUSF discussion. Reaching out, students are realizing the university’s mission to be a catalyst for positive change in the world by raising awareness of the largely peaceful, people-led ousters of entrenched, repressive leaders in the Middle east. Within the Foghorn staff, there are as many opinions and levels of investment on each of these issues as there are editors and staff writers. What we do agree on, though, is that having proactive, student initiated discussions on many different issues at once is more favorable to having none.

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Natalie Cappetta

Opinion Editor: Vicente Patino