Cairo Calling

"Cairo Calling" is an echo of what's happening in Egypt on the ground since the historic January 25th Revolution. It is the place to learn about the dynamic pulses that are giving life to a new and changed country.

As the Mother of the World (أم الدنيا) , it's important to pay attention when Cairo is calling. 

If you haven’t heard already, June 30th is a big day in Egypt. Not because it’s the one year anniversary since Mohamed Morsi was democratically elected as president of the Arab Republic of Egypt, but because Egyptians plan to take to the streets. Wait a minute, where have I heard that one before?
Thursday, 30 May 2013 18:06

I’ve Been Lost

I have been relatively quiet these past few weeks for Aslan Media. "Why?", you ask? Because the situation in Egypt depresses me. I may not be Egyptian, but as an expat witnessing this ongoing catastrophe known as the January 25th “Revolution,” how can you blame me for feeling this way?
Thursday, 28 March 2013 00:00

Morsi Makes Threats

Every time something happens in Egypt, people ask themselves, “Where is Morsi?” Since taking office last summer, the question has become redundant enough that when people stopped asking, the Egyptian president finally issued a statement. Perhaps that’s because the most recent clashes at Mokattam involved members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi said, “The Egyptian blood is dear and precious.” Interestingly, the Egyptian president forgot that it was precious during the previous months of his presidency as well, when he sat and watched violence happen on numerous occasions.
Monday, 25 February 2013 00:00

The Egyptian Left Loves Defeat

The notion of “defeat” seems to go hand in hand with “denial” amongst the Egyptian Left — denial that their weak attempt at shaping their country will be productive through the concept of “boycotting elections” and other strategies. Rather than denying defeat or even allowing it to be undeniably written across their foreheads, the Egyptian Left needs to realize that their past attempts of boycotting not only caused them to lose, but for much to be gained by the Islamists. Therefore, they need to reevaluate their political “strategy.”
Monday, 18 February 2013 00:00

In the Land of the Pyramids, A Reality Check

In this week’s column, I’ve decided to deviate somewhat from the usual topic of politics and emphasize the historical wonders of Egypt. This past Saturday, I spent a day at the Pyramids of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was probably my sixth time there, but I dare say, the experience never grows old for me.
As usual, Egypt is being pulled in all sorts of directions and it’s getting under my skin. I have decided to dedicate a rant to the victim some of us in Cairo are referring to as the “Egyptian Rodney King.” Just who is this Egyptian Rodney King, you ask? A harmless, middle-aged Egyptian man named Hamada Saber, who was stripped of his clothes and supposedly beaten on live television by CSF officers near the Presidential Palace, also known as Ittahadiya (Watch the video, here).
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 00:00

Two Years After The Egyptian Revolution

It can be strenuous at times to write a column about a country that is undergoing a revolution. In the time span that I write this piece and publish it, many new things could have happened in Egypt, so I will try to keep this as up-to-date as possible. What I Saw Last Friday was the second annual anniversary of the January 25th Revolution. The day started out rather calm, with Egyptians participating in marches from various parts of the Cairo and Giza governorates, with the aim of ending up in Tahrir Square. The port city of Alexandria seemed to have already gotten fired up as protesters clashed with police.
Tuesday, 22 January 2013 00:00

Back On the Ground in Cairo

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been on hiatus for about four months now. I was in Washington, D.C. doing some work and now I’m back in Cairo. A lot of things happened while I was away. President Mohamed Morsi declared himself the new dictator of Egypt, only to be threatened by the army; a controversial constitution was voted in a referendum — one that still lacks strong aspects of human rights protections and contains elements of Sharia law; Tahrir is no longer the sole place for protest but has expanded to the Presidential Palace known as Ithadeyya, where at times, the thugs of the Muslim Brotherhood beat people with rocks and resorted to firing shots on the crowds.
Tuesday, 18 September 2012 05:36

The American Embassy Clashes: What I Saw

The anti-Islam film, “Innocents of Muslims” sparked several days of protests at (and around) the American Embassy in Cairo. What initially were clashes over the film, became a clash with police due to a history of bad blood amongst other things. On Thursday and Friday night I spent a short time observing what was happening on the ground.
Maybe I overlooked something these past couple of weeks, but somehow the Internet has been abuzz about sexual harassment in Egypt -- and I like it. I think it has to do with a controversial article published by BBC News, which was popularly circulated online: “Egypt's sexual harassment of women 'epidemic'”. The article did not address anything new, but there was one part that caught my eye:
Tuesday, 04 September 2012 16:43

Egypt’s Morsi Packs A Punch at NAM Summit

The highlight of Iran’s Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) Summit in Tehran came from two individuals: The Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, and Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi. Both managed to criticize their hosts in various manners, although I will focus on the latter.
There has been a lot of speculation on whether relations between Iran and Egypt would recommence once the Muslim Brotherhood came into the picture with the election of president Mohamed Morsi. And, it seems that the Shia Islamic regime has been attempting to reach out to the Sunni Islamists. One clear episode of that was when Iran sent Vice President Hamid Baghai to Egypt last month to invite Morsi to the Non-Alliance Movement (NAM) Summit in Tehran. The summit is taking place this week.
Wednesday, 22 August 2012 14:43

Slowly Back To The Mubarak Days We Go?

Egyptian Television host Tawfiq Okasha -- best likened as Egypt’s Glenn Beck -- has a very popular talk show. Or at least he had one. His rhetoric draws viewers from two different groups in Egypt: those who believe whatever he says, and those who find his comments so ridiculous that watching him is a source of entertainment of its own.
On late Sunday afternoon, President Mohamed Morsi shook Egypt’s political chessboard by calling “checkmate” on the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF). When Morsi went on Egyptian State television and announced the retirement of the head of SCAF, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, and its other leading member Sami Anan, it was a major surprise. Morsi went on to say that the controversial June 18th constitution addendum was nullified and that he would be announcing a new vice president.
Last week, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi announced the appointment of Hesham Qandil, the Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources, as the country’s new prime minister. Qandil, 49, graduated with a degree in hydraulic engineering from the University of North Carolina and also worked at the African Development Bank as an irrigation specialist. He eventually went on to work as bureau chief of the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources and then was appointed as a minister in Egypt’s transitional government in July 2011.
Hundreds of articles have been written on the death of Egypt’s Minister of Intelligence or Mukhabarat, Omar Suleiman. For those not too familiar with him, he’s best known as the temporary Vice President announcing on Egyptian State Television that President Hosni Mubarak would be stepping down, after 18 days of demonstrations in Tahrir Square and other parts of Egypt. He would then go on to run for president of the “New Egypt,” only to be disqualified along side 9 other candidates by the Higher Constitutional Court on the basis of lacking a certain number of names on his list of supporters.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Egypt seemed to indicate that the United States is willing to work with the country’s new Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. It also highlighted the reality that Egypt was in a power struggle between the Security Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) and the Morsi, as Secretary Clinton shuttled between the two for talks, almost as if negotiating between foreign entities for peace. The visit was an attempt to mend any past issues and make sure Washington could still exert its influence on one of its most important allies in the Middle East.
In the first days of his presidency, Egypt’s new president Mohamed Morsi is showing the Security Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) that he is not exactly a pushover. He may show up to visit Tantawi instead of vice versa, but Morsi is making it known he will make demands regardless of the fact that he is a lame duck president.
Thursday, 05 July 2012 06:24

The SCAF Is Here to Stay

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi was sworn in on Saturday at the Constitutional Court as the new president of Egypt. He then went on to Cairo University for his inauguration; Morsi’s speech disappointed many as it praised the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF). "The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has kept its word and fulfilled its promise," he said. "The elected institutions will come back to take their role, and the Egyptian armed forces, Egypt's great army, will return to protecting the borders of the country."
On Sunday the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi was announced as Egypt’s new president. The original underdog, nobody thought the man had a chance against his rivals, particularly Abol Fotouh and Amr Moussa. Yet at the end of the day, the Muslim Brotherhood triumphed. Only one person in my circles, blogger Bassem Sabry had predicted it early on and stood by his views despite lots of scrutiny. In his blog this past April, Sabry writes on why each candidate was not qualified except Morsi:
At 11pm on Sunday night, a little after the polls closed in Egypt for the second round of presidential elections, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) released their addendum to the constitutional declaration. Here’s an unofficial English translation brought to you by Ahram Online:
Sexual harassment has always been a major topic in Egypt. Whether a random groping while walking in the street, or the sexual assault of Mona Eltahawy or Lara Logan, there seems to be continuity in the issue at hand. 98% of women Egyptian or foreign have reportedly been harassed at least once, whether it be in the form of cat calls, groping, and so forth. Although it has almost become the norm, sexual assault by groups of men are rather unusual.
The verdict of toppled President Hosni Mubarak was not a complete surprise. The Egyptian people knew it would be disappointing, but were not quite sure in what sense. Some in front of the Police Academy in New Cairo expressed complete joy, igniting fireworks in broad daylight. Then there were those who felt the complete opposite: the parents of the martyrs broke down on the ground in tears, too shocked for words.
Tuesday, 05 June 2012 07:05

Shafiq or Morsi: Pick Your Poison

The outcome of the first round of presidential elections coupled with the Mubarak Trial verdict has put the Egyptian people in an awkward position. Ahmed Shafiq, a former prime minister associated with the old regime, known for his affiliation with the ‘Battle of the Camel’ during one of the 18 days of the January 25th Revolution, is now a popular choice for president. His revival, Mohamed Morsi is the Muslim Brotherhood’s (Ikhwan) candidate. Morsi may at first sound a little more appealing, until you hear the Ikhwan’s agenda, which tends to focus on lesser important things like gender separation in schools and the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). It’s a choice of voting for the lesser evil at this point.