Egypt’s interim leader Adly Mansour unilaterally thrust into power by U.S. backed Egyptian armyJuly 3, 2013
Egypt’s new interim president Adly Mansour had been head of the Supreme Constitutional Court for just two days when the army named him leader of the Arab world’s most populous state.
Ironically, he was named by Morsi himself to Egypt’s top judicial post, which, following the army’s suspension of the constitution, catapulted him into political power.
The 67-year-old father of three, who won a scholarship to France’s Ecole Nationale de l’Administration, was a long-serving judge under former President Hosni Mubarak. But he served in the state-sponsored religious courts which deliver fatwas, or edicts, on observance, as well as in the civil and criminal courts.
Mansour helped draft the supervision law for the presidential elections that brought Morsi to power in 2012, which included setting a legal timeframe for electoral campaigning.
He was deputy head of the Supreme Constitutional Court from 1992. Unlike the principal leaders of the opposition - among them Nobel peace laureate Mohamed El Baradei and former Arab League chief Amr Mussa. 
The judge could probably have walked through one of the huge opposition protests that swept the country on Sunday prompting the military’s dramatic intervention without being recognised. 
His photograph was never among those brandished by the million of demonstrators mobilised by the grassroots opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood’s grip on power during Morsi’s tumultuous 12 months in power.
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Egypt’s interim leader Adly Mansour unilaterally thrust into power by U.S. backed Egyptian army
July 3, 2013

Egypt’s new interim president Adly Mansour had been head of the Supreme Constitutional Court for just two days when the army named him leader of the Arab world’s most populous state.

Ironically, he was named by Morsi himself to Egypt’s top judicial post, which, following the army’s suspension of the constitution, catapulted him into political power.

The 67-year-old father of three, who won a scholarship to France’s Ecole Nationale de l’Administration, was a long-serving judge under former President Hosni Mubarak. But he served in the state-sponsored religious courts which deliver fatwas, or edicts, on observance, as well as in the civil and criminal courts.

Mansour helped draft the supervision law for the presidential elections that brought Morsi to power in 2012, which included setting a legal timeframe for electoral campaigning.

He was deputy head of the Supreme Constitutional Court from 1992. Unlike the principal leaders of the opposition - among them Nobel peace laureate Mohamed El Baradei and former Arab League chief Amr Mussa. 

The judge could probably have walked through one of the huge opposition protests that swept the country on Sunday prompting the military’s dramatic intervention without being recognised. 

His photograph was never among those brandished by the million of demonstrators mobilised by the grassroots opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood’s grip on power during Morsi’s tumultuous 12 months in power.

Source

Egyptian blogger convicted & sentenced for insulting Mohamed Morsi’s already tarnished reputation
June 4, 2013

A high-profile Egyptian blogger and activist was sentenced to six months in jail on Monday merely for insulting President Mohamed Morsi, in what campaigners said was the first major conviction in a legal crackdown on critics.

More than 100 of Ahmed Douma’s supporters filled the courtroom in a Cairo suburb and chanted slogans against the Islamist president during the hearing. “It’s clear that the government is trying to threaten activists with these cases,” said one of his lawyers, Ali Soliman.

Douma, found guilty of accurately labeling the president a criminal and a murderer in media interviews, was allowed to pay 5,000 Egyptian pounds bail to stay out of prison pending an appeal, according to Soliman.

Morsi, voted in after a popular revolt ousted his predecessor Hosni Mubarak in 2011, has dismissed accusations by rights groups that his government and allies want to crush dissent. But one Egyptian campaign group has said in a report two dozen cases of “insulting the president” were brought in the first 200 days of Morsi’s rule - four times as many as during Mubarak’s 30 years in power. “The irony is that the president elected after the 25 January revolution is still maintaining the same restrictive laws that have been in place for decades,” said Gamal Soltan, political science professor at the American University in Cairo.

Douma was arrested on April 30 on charges of insulting the president in the aftermath of deadly clashes in February between locals and police in the Suez Canal city of Port Said.

Morsi has pointed to his banning of pre-trial detention of journalists as proof of his commitment to a free press, though his government has not amended laws with a wide scope for prosecution on grounds of ‘defamation’ (speaking the truth about Mohamed Morsi).

“[The penal code] allows citizens to be locked up for expression-related crimes,” punishing citizens for “legitimate political criticism of the authorities,” said Heba Morayef, Egypt director of the New York-based Human Rights Watch, after the case.

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Pictures from Turkey posted June 3, 2013 (presumably taken on June 3 as well). 

A beautiful report from a Turkish journalist regarding mass consciousness in revolutionary moments: 

My friend, who was completely uninterested in politics until six days ago, had never been in conflict with the police before. Now, like hundreds of thousands of others in Turkey, she has become a warrior with goggles around her neck, an oxygen mask on her face and an anti-acid solution bottle in her hand.[…] It is like a civil war between the police and the people. Yet nobody expected this when, six days ago, a group of protesters organised a sit-in at Istanbul’s Gezi Park to protect trees that were to be cut down for the government’s urban redevelopment project.

As a writer and a journalist I followed the Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings. As I wrote at the time, Arab people killed their fear and I saw how it transformed them from silent crowds to peoples who believe in themselves. This is what has been happening in the last six days in Turkey. Teenage girls standing in front of TOMAs (vehicle-mounted water cannons), kids throwing tear gas capsules back to the police, rich lawyers throwing stones at the cops, football fans rescuing rival fans from police, the ultra-nationalists struggling arm in arm with Kurdish activists… these were all scenes I witnessed. Those who wanted to kill each other last week became - no exaggeration - comrades on the streets. People not only overcame their fear of authority but they also killed the fear of the “other”.

As I write, Istanbul, Ankara - Turkey’s capital - Izmir and Adana are burning. Massive police violence is taking place. And in my middle class Istanbul neighbourhood, like many others, people are banging on their frying pans to protest. People are exchanging information about safe places to take shelter from police, the telephone numbers of doctors and lawyers. In Taksim Square, on the building of Atatürk Cultural Center, some people are hanging a huge banner. There are only two words on it: “Don’t surrender!

Source

Also, Turkey’s Public Workers Unions Confederation (KESK) said on Monday it would hold a “warning strike” on June 4-5 to protest at a crackdown on anti-government protests over the last four days.

"The state terror implemented against mass protests across the country … has shown once again the enmity to democracy of the AKP government," said a statement from the leftist confederation KESK, which has some 240,000 members in 11 unions.

Source

The Guardian has an awesome tool for educating yourself about the first year of ‘the Arab Spring’ called ‘The Path to Protest’

For those who weren’t old enough or who weren’t interested at the time but who have since become interested (maybe for those whose interest has been sparked by the uprising in Turkey), this is a great tool to learn a little more about politics in various regions of the Middle East.

Covering from December 19, 2010 to the very end of 2011, scroll through this interactive tool packed full of hundreds (perhaps thousands) of protests & news stories relevant to protests across the Middle East just after the inception of ‘the Arab Spring’.

Here’s the tool.

Feature: Our veterans – the elephant in the room?
May 7, 2013

Apart from when the occasional veteran makes the headlines and is arrested (perhaps for carrying out a training run fully kitted up and armed; or by posting borderline material on facebook and being detained and sectioned under Section 922(g)(4) of the US Code) once our marines have stepped down from active duty, very little is heard of them and that seems to be the way the government likes it.

They must be feeling uneasy to say the least at the growing movement of veterans who are standing up and voicing their concerns about the way in which our country is governed and the Constitution being undermined by successive rafts of legislation, some of which is pushed through without adequate consultation or proper procedure. The government would have us believe that these few “voices in the wilderness” belong to misfits, miscreants and malcontents – that most veterans are happily adjusted to everyday society and living out their lives in the bosom of their family as productive citizens.

Myth versus reality

Truth is there is a huge gulf between the myth foisted upon us by the government and the reality. Many of these veterans start out their career in the US forces with high ideals and a vision of serving their country and protecting their family and others like it; young men and women with a clear conscience, a deep sense of moral duty and strong loyalty to their government. By the time they have done a tour or three they come back as different people with a totally changed perspective. We are fed images and news reports by the media of spouses and little children welcoming back the homecoming heroes and heroines, smiling faces, happy tears and a good helping of the American dream, complete with cream and sugar. We aren’t shown the rows of flag draped coffins; we aren’t told about the conditioning imposed on these service men and women to psychologically prepare them for the battlefront or about the drugs which are forced on them to make sure they remain emotionally stable during their tour of duty. In 2012 more active-duty soldiers killed themselves than died in the war zone. In fact, 6,500 veterans killed themselves that year alone – that equates to 1 every hour and 20 minutes.

The harsh reality is that these men and women come home, having seen things they won’t talk of to anyone other than another veteran, tired, disillusioned, often traumatized and diagnosed with PTSD, unable to easily step back into their old lives. It is no wonder that so many isolate themselves from others in the community, very often becoming reliant on alcohol or drugs (prescription or illegal) to make it through each day. It is telling that the US government has stepped up their Veterans Alcohol and Drug Dependence Rehabilitation Program, providing support for former service members at an ever growing number of drug and alcohol detox centers across the States. For drug and alcohol detox in Massachusetts, as an example, there are centers in almost every town and city across the state – something like 64 all in all. Those that make it through the transition back into civilian life and survive or avoid addiction have gone on to become some of the harshest critics of our government.

People like Adam Khokesh, who served in the US Marine Corps Reserves in Iraq, have become vocal opponents of the very government they swore to obey when they joined the forces. They have seen through the illusion that government and media have fed to communities everywhere and are joining together to voice their opposition to today’s politics specifically and to war across the board. These highly trained personnel of yesterday have become today’s conscience of the nation, highlighting injustice, false flag events and illegal or immoral activities, including wars against other sovereign states. Groups like Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans against the War now actively oppose government and governmental policy, standing against the very things they previously stood for before the veil was torn from their eyes. The treatment many of them receive only serves to underline the government’s self interest and it is telling that the government considers veterans to be a danger, with Homeland Security classifying returning US veterans as a potential terrorist threat.

With something like 20 states wanting to secede from the United States, it may be that those same veterans who no longer support the corrupt political structure will be the vanguard of our changing world. When a country as large as the United States, with the influences it has across the globe, undergoes radical change it will surely impact us all.

-Written & submitted for The People’s Record by Evelyn Roberts

Lovely submission from Evelyn Roberts. Thank you so much. Veterans are part of the story, and they are, complicated victims of the system in their own way. Of course, the communities they are trained & instructed to destroy are also a big part of the conversation – they are victims of the system and are subjected to a whole different kind of horror because it. We would be remiss to not feature stories about both.

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Kurdish men in Iran have launched a cross-dressing campaign to redress outmoded concepts of masculinity & femininity and outlandish, sexist punishment administered by the government.
April 24, 2013

Over the last week, over 150 Kurdish men have posted photographs of themselves in women’s clothing to campaign against the sexist nature of a court sentence which led to the public humiliation of a man by dressing him in women’s clothing.

The campaign, entitled Kurd Men for Equality is a response to a sentence given to a convicted man by the Marivan County tribunal court on 15 April. The campaign’s tagline reads: ‘Being a woman is not a way for humiliation or punishment.’ According to Saman Rasoulpour, the convicted man was paraded down the streets of Marivan in a red tchador (traditional Kurdish women’s clothing).

Rasoulpour stated that public humiliation is a common punishment for troublemakers. Rasoulpour told us: ‘[In] this way, authorities are able to both demean the accused and deliver a warning to the public.’ However, Rasoulpour emphasized: ‘This is the first time in Iran that an accused is paraded in women’s clothes in the streets to humiliate him. It is unprecedented anywhere in Iran.’

In response to the judge’s sentence, a local feminist organization of Marivan called the Marivan Womens’ Community held a protest against the misogynistic punishment. The protest brought one hundred women on the streets of Marivan in a civil resistance campaign for gender equality.

In solidarity with the women’s protest, a man named Massoud Fathipour posted a photograph of himself dressed in women’s clothing. According to Rasoulpour, ‘he ignited the spark’. Since the Kurd Men for Equality campaign has been launched on 18 April, it has quickly gained an international following of over 7,000 fans. Over 150 men have submitted photographs of themselves in women’s clothing to emphasize the message that being a woman should not be considered humiliating.

In parliament 17 Iranian MPs have signed a petition addressed to the Justice Ministry which decries this sentence as ‘humiliating to Muslim women’. Supporters of the campaign have written messages in support of the gender equality on the Facebook wall.

Ala M writes: ‘For many years, women in my country have been side-by-side with men, wearing men’s clothes, struggling. Tonight I am happy and honored to wear women’s clothes and be even a small part of the rightful struggle of people to express gratitude and excellence to the women of my country.’

Another supporter, Namo Kurdistani writes: ‘We should gather together and condemn this stupidity, brutality and inhumanity against women. This is the least I can do to support women.’

In one of the protest images posted on Facebook, two LGBT rainbow flags can be seen on the wall in the background. People have commented on the image supporting homosexuality. Women have also supported the campaign by posting photographs of themselves wearing men’s clothing.

Iran claims it treats transgender people well but an expert told GSN the punishment in this case also indicates the stigma and discrimination trans people still face in the country as well as being a sign of simple sexism. According to Rasoulpour, no public apology has been made by authorities and security forces in Iran have strongly criticized the campaign.

Source

Topless Tunisian activist Amina Tyler: ‘Femen have insulted all Muslims everywhere and it’s not acceptable’ April 10, 2013
A Tunisian activist, who was threatened with death by stoning for baring her breasts online, has broken her silence to condemn the “topless jihad” that was organised in support of her. Amina Tyler posted images of herself with the words “Fuck your morals” written across her chest to the Femen-Tunisia Facebook page, earning calls for her death from a local preacher who feared her act “could bring about an epidemic”.
Women’s movement Femen, which celebrated its fifth birthday on Wednesday, responded by organizing bare-breasted rallies across the world, touting them as a cry against the “lethal hatred of Islamists – inhuman beasts for whom killing a woman is more natural than recognising her right to do as she pleases with her own body.”
Since the event – which inspired the creation of a group of Muslim women fiercely opposed to Femen’s work – Amina has remained out of sight. Amid fears for her life, the 19-year-old was rumoured to be in a psychiatric hospital, while attorney Bochra Bel Haj Hmida insisted Amina was well and with her family. 
Now footage of Amina has surfaced on French TV channel Itele, in which the teenager said she does not want to be associated with Femen’s recent actions. 
She told CAPA journalist Benoit Chaumant: “I am against [it]. Every[one] will think that I encouraged their actions. They have insulted all Muslims everywhere and it’s not acceptable.” 
When asked what she thought of the reaction to her topless photograph, Amina replied: “At the moment I don’t regret what I did. But I do not know what the future holds.” 
As to whether she supports Femen “whatever happens”, she says: “Until I’m 80-years-old. Because they are true feminists.” 
Chaumant says that for her own safety, Amina hopes to leave Tunisia soon.  “They [her family] believe she is at risk of death – she is at risk of death. So they want to keep her with them, at their house.” 
In what was believed to be her last interview before she went underground, Amina told Frederica Tourn she she believed she would be beaten or raped if the Tunisian police found her. But she insisted she was not afraid: “No, nothing they could do would be worse than what already happens here to women, the way women are forced to live every day. “Ever since we are small they tell us to be calm, to behave well, to dress a certain way, everything to find a husband. We must also study to be able to marry, because young guys today want a woman who works.”
As for what the reluctant poster-girl’s comments will mean for Femen – and indeed for Muslim Women Against Femen, this remains to be seen.
Source
Just in case any of you racists out there still believe that your support of Femen’s racism is justified because of Amia Tyler. 
Like everyone has already been telling you, the action was racist & insulting & it is really obvious that your condescending, eurocentric bullshit is not reaching out to help, is not being an ally & is not following the lead of the oppressed group & individuals you are pretending to stand for. Instead, it is projecting your European racism on a group of people who do not need you to mock their culture.

Topless Tunisian activist Amina Tyler: ‘Femen have insulted all Muslims everywhere and it’s not acceptable’
April 10, 2013

A Tunisian activist, who was threatened with death by stoning for baring her breasts online, has broken her silence to condemn the “topless jihad” that was organised in support of her. Amina Tyler posted images of herself with the words “Fuck your morals” written across her chest to the Femen-Tunisia Facebook page, earning calls for her death from a local preacher who feared her act “could bring about an epidemic”.

Women’s movement Femen, which celebrated its fifth birthday on Wednesday, responded by organizing bare-breasted rallies across the world, touting them as a cry against the “lethal hatred of Islamists – inhuman beasts for whom killing a woman is more natural than recognising her right to do as she pleases with her own body.”

Since the event – which inspired the creation of a group of Muslim women fiercely opposed to Femen’s work – Amina has remained out of sight. Amid fears for her life, the 19-year-old was rumoured to be in a psychiatric hospital, while attorney Bochra Bel Haj Hmida insisted Amina was well and with her family.

Now footage of Amina has surfaced on French TV channel Itele, in which the teenager said she does not want to be associated with Femen’s recent actions.

She told CAPA journalist Benoit Chaumant: “I am against [it]. Every[one] will think that I encouraged their actions. They have insulted all Muslims everywhere and it’s not acceptable.”

When asked what she thought of the reaction to her topless photograph, Amina replied: “At the moment I don’t regret what I did. But I do not know what the future holds.”

As to whether she supports Femen “whatever happens”, she says: “Until I’m 80-years-old. Because they are true feminists.”

Chaumant says that for her own safety, Amina hopes to leave Tunisia soon.  “They [her family] believe she is at risk of death – she is at risk of death. So they want to keep her with them, at their house.”

In what was believed to be her last interview before she went underground, Amina told Frederica Tourn she she believed she would be beaten or raped if the Tunisian police found her. But she insisted she was not afraid: “No, nothing they could do would be worse than what already happens here to women, the way women are forced to live every day. “Ever since we are small they tell us to be calm, to behave well, to dress a certain way, everything to find a husband. We must also study to be able to marry, because young guys today want a woman who works.”

As for what the reluctant poster-girl’s comments will mean for Femen – and indeed for Muslim Women Against Femen, this remains to be seen.

Source

Just in case any of you racists out there still believe that your support of Femen’s racism is justified because of Amia Tyler.

Like everyone has already been telling you, the action was racist & insulting & it is really obvious that your condescending, eurocentric bullshit is not reaching out to help, is not being an ally & is not following the lead of the oppressed group & individuals you are pretending to stand for. Instead, it is projecting your European racism on a group of people who do not need you to mock their culture.

Article segment: Why the left must support Syria’s revolution
April 9, 2013

BEYOND THOSE who support the Syrian regime as a progressive opponent of imperialism, there are those who are justly suspicious of the motives of the U.S. and other powerful governments—and who fear that Syrians are doomed to a civil war between a bloodthirsty dictator and groups of intolerant little tyrants sustained by the U.S. and other powers.

What these pictures of the situation miss—intentionally or not—is the fact that Syria is in the grips of more than a civil war. What is taking place is a popular revolution, with an armed component. There are a wide variety of groups involved and at least as many strategies and ideas about what the struggle is about—including those that are not left wing and that will make accommodations with imperialism.

But the uprising is also a very dynamic process that has involved millions of people becoming active in public life for the first time. There are political advances and retreats, and moments of triumph and disappointment, just as there are military victories and defeats. But it would be wrong to reduce the Syrian Revolution to the question of the armed struggle and the role of imperialist powers in trying to shape and co-opt that armed struggle.

Take the role of women in the uprising—something that is not widely appreciated anywhere, and especially not in the mainstream media. Women have been very active participants and leaders from the beginning. They have played a role not just as victims and mothers and sisters of the martyrs and detainees, but also in demonstrations, on the front in field hospitals, in citizen reporting, and in the distribution of medicine and humanitarian supplies.

As a group of women activists in Aleppo wrote, “We will not wait until the regime falls for women to become active.” At the same time, they write, the “militarization of the revolution” has overshadowed the role of women—so in early March, the revolutionary local council of Aleppo was elected and didn’t include a single woman, despite some well-known female activists being nominated.

So there is—like everywhere in the world—some distance to go before women have equality in Syria. But the role they have played in the struggle so far—and will in the future—underlines how the uprising has opened up many different fronts in the battle against the Assad regime. As Ghayath Naisse said in an interview published by SocialistWorker.org:

The popular masses have invented many forms of struggles, including massive popular demonstrations that we saw in July of last year in Hama and Deir Ezzour; fast demonstrations (like flash mobs) that only last for several minutes; and demonstrations in neighborhoods with narrow streets in order to prevent the security forces from finding and cornering them, thus allowing protesters to disperse in narrow alleys when faced with repression.

Other actions include night demonstrations, releasing balloons carrying revolutionary slogans, dyeing the fountains red in major city squares, raising the flags of the revolution in streets and balconies, renaming streets with names of the revolution’s martyrs and, of course, a series of general strikes. The most recent one, in December 2012, was called the Strike of Dignity and lasted two days.

Every Friday, the masses raise their slogans, most of them united, in response to specific situations or to express their opinion regarding any matter of concern to the revolution. These are also a means to form a common mass consciousness and to generalize revolutionary experiences.

I WANT to leave the last word to a brave revolutionary, leftist writer Nahed Badawiyya, speaking from inside Syria:

The Arab Revolutions have come to put an end to the traditional left, and especially the traditional Communist Parties, which have been ineffective for a long time. They have become conservative, reactionary structures, devoid of members. In Syria, these Communist Parties gravitated towards the murderous regime and become accomplices to its crimes.

Therefore, much of their base, especially the youth, abandoned them and took to the streets to join their generation in protest. You will notice this phenomenon in all the traditional political movements in Syria. The youths of the Palestinian, Arab and Kurdish political movements have all separated from their leadership and joined the revolution. In all these political movements, the party leaderships were an obstacle and a brake on the revolutionary Syrian youth. At the same time, however, new Leftist youth formations emerged from within the revolution giving voice to its essence. I hope they grow and proliferate.

Full article here in which Yusef Khalil answers the objections of those on the left who reject the Syrian uprising against dictatorship—and demands to know which side they’re on.

As Sherry Wolf put it on her Facebook: Don’t reduce the Syrian Revolution to the question of the armed struggle and the role of imperialist powers in trying to shape and co-opt that armed struggle. Read this thoughtful and nuanced piece by Yusef Khalil. If you want to comment, please read the article. For some reason the Syrian Revolution inspires radicals to talk out of their ass.”

Bahrain police attack anti-government woman protesters with stun grenades and tear gas
April 1, 2013

Tensions are once again high in Bahrain after police dispersed anti-government protesters with stun grenades and tear gas. The police intervention came after a demonstration by women was banned.

They were on the streets of the west coast town of Malkiya in support of jailed political prisoners and against the upcoming Formula One race in April.

It is the latest in a series of protests on the Gulf island, led mainly by Shi’ite Muslim groups demanding equality with the Sunnis, as well as political reforms.

There were major turnouts two weeks ago on the second anniversary of the intervention by a Saudi-led force which helped crush a pro-democracy uprising.

Bahrain’s opposition and government negotiators resumed reconciliation talks last month for the first time since July 2011, but little progress has been reported.

Source

Tunisia’s biggest protest since the Arab SpringMarch 18, 2013
Thousands of people took to the streets of the Tunisian capital demanding to end the rule of the Islamist government, which they accuse of assassinating prominent secular politician, Chokri Belaid.
The March 16 demonstration is the biggest in a series of protest events, which took place in the country after Belaid was shot dead outside his home exactly 40 days ago.
The rallies already lead to Tunisian Prime Minister, Hamadi Jebali, resigning from his position on March 14. Fellow member of the ruling Islamist Ennahda party, Ali Larayedh, who came in as a replacement, has formed a new coalition government with independents in key ministries.But the move wasn’t enough to calm the people as they chanted "Ennahda go", "The people want a new revolution" and "The people want to bring down the regime" during their demonstration on Saturday.Belaid’s family accuse Ennahda of murder, but the ruling Tunisian party denies any involvement. With nobody claiming responsibility for the crime, police are saying that the assassin was a radical Salafist Islamist.”They killed Chokri but they cannot kill the values of freedom defended by him," Belaid’s widow Basma said in front of her husband’s grave on Saturday.Belaid’s liberal nine-party Popular Front bloc has only three seats in Tunisia’s parliament, but it speaks for many people, who fear that the religious radicals would deprive them of freedoms won in the Arab spring.
Despite not playing a major role in the Jasmine Revolution, which toppled president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011, it’s the Islamists, who took power in the country though a general election.
The protests didn’t prevent Ennahda party chairman, Rashid Ghannouchi, from holding talks with a visiting European Union delegation, headed by the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, Stefan Fule."Ennahda Movement supports the deepening of relations with the European Union on the basis of common interests and mutual respect,” Ghannouchi is cited as saying on the Muslim Brotherhood’s official website. "Ennahda Movement wants to take Tunisia out of this transitional period in the shortest time, after the approval of the country’s new Constitution which should establish democracy, uphold the rule of law and guarantee freedoms."For his part, Fule insisted that the EU are also ready for cooperation with Tunisia, adding that it supports the democratic transition process and legitimacy in the North-African country."The European Union (EU) remains confident in the capacity of the Tunisian political leaders to find efficient solutions to the political, economic and social challenges faced by Tunisia in this transition period", he said.Good relations with Europe are essential for Tunisia, which – unlike neighboring Libya and Algeria – lacks vast oil and gas resources, relying on tourism as one of the main sources of income.
Source

Tunisia’s biggest protest since the Arab Spring
March 18, 2013

Thousands of people took to the streets of the Tunisian capital demanding to end the rule of the Islamist government, which they accuse of assassinating prominent secular politician, Chokri Belaid.

The March 16 demonstration is the biggest in a series of protest events, which took place in the country after Belaid was shot dead outside his home exactly 40 days ago.

The rallies already lead to Tunisian Prime Minister, Hamadi Jebali, resigning from his position on March 14. Fellow member of the ruling Islamist Ennahda party, Ali Larayedh, who came in as a replacement, has formed a new coalition government with independents in key ministries.

But the move wasn’t enough to calm the people as they chanted "Ennahda go", "The people want a new revolution" and "The people want to bring down the regime" during their demonstration on Saturday.

Belaid’s family accuse Ennahda of murder, but the ruling Tunisian party denies any involvement. With nobody claiming responsibility for the crime, police are saying that the assassin was a radical Salafist Islamist.

They killed Chokri but they cannot kill the values of freedom defended by him," Belaid’s widow Basma said in front of her husband’s grave on Saturday.

Belaid’s liberal nine-party Popular Front bloc has only three seats in Tunisia’s parliament, but it speaks for many people, who fear that the religious radicals would deprive them of freedoms won in the Arab spring.

Despite not playing a major role in the Jasmine Revolution, which toppled president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011, it’s the Islamists, who took power in the country though a general election.

The protests didn’t prevent Ennahda party chairman, Rashid Ghannouchi, from holding talks with a visiting European Union delegation, headed by the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, Stefan Fule.

"Ennahda Movement supports the deepening of relations with the European Union on the basis of common interests and mutual respect,” Ghannouchi is cited as saying on the Muslim Brotherhood’s official website. "Ennahda Movement wants to take Tunisia out of this transitional period in the shortest time, after the approval of the country’s new Constitution which should establish democracy, uphold the rule of law and guarantee freedoms."

For his part, Fule insisted that the EU are also ready for cooperation with Tunisia, adding that it supports the democratic transition process and legitimacy in the North-African country.

"The European Union (EU) remains confident in the capacity of the Tunisian political leaders to find efficient solutions to the political, economic and social challenges faced by Tunisia in this transition period", he said.

Good relations with Europe are essential for Tunisia, which – unlike neighboring Libya and Algeria – lacks vast oil and gas resources, relying on tourism as one of the main sources of income.

Source

Women in Graffiti: A tribute to the women of Egypt
February 17, 2013

It’s a battle, being a woman in an Arab country, but perhaps the dire conditions makes us fighters. Since January 25, so many foreign reporters have waxed on about the awakening of Arab women in the Arab Spring; and how the revolutions liberated us/made us wake up and smell the coffee/made us throw off our headscarves and run happily through the meadows.

This, in my opinion, is crap. When you look at the videos and photos of the eighteen days of Tahrir, you’ll see Egyptian women side by side with men in the thick of battles, some even at the front lines, braving tear gas and live bullets. We participated as Egyptians first, not as women, in January 25. And it’s incredibly patronizing to assume we ‘became’ liberated; 1. as if it was a revolution led by men that awakened and inspired us women 2. as if women were living in caves and making mud paintings before the revolution.

The Arab women I’ve met are some of the fiercest women in the world with sincere dedication to their work, cause and sense of identity. We didn’t experience an ‘awakening’ since the revolution; but we’ve definitely had to fight harder.

The last two years’ stories of horrific sexual and physical violence against women in Tahrir and many other depressing news could very easily break your will, change your mind about a woman’s place in protests and in Egypt as a citizen with equal rights. But then I think of these remarkable women and I am reminded of their strength, creativity and perseverance.

There are many powerful, brilliant Arab women, including several in the graffiti scene. Graffiti is a dangerous cause as it is, and with perpetual violence against women in Egypt, you’d think female graffiti artists would be too intimidated to work on the city streets. But they’re not; they’re young, tough, talented and just as worthy of recognition as their male counterparts.

Photo 1: Pharaonic women in battle by Alaa Awad

Photo 2: Alexandrian painter and street artist Aya Tarek is considered by many of her peers to be one of the pioneers of graffiti in Egypt. She holds her ground against her male contemporaries, and has exhibited recently in Germany as well as Beirut. Aya appeared in Microphone, Ahmed Abdalla’s brilliant 2010 film about the underground art scene in Alexandria. She is the first graffiti artist in Egypt to appear in a feature film not only playing herself but also correctly representing the graffiti scene in Egypt.

Photo 3: “Don’t touch or castration awaits you” - Hend Kheera is the first Egyptian graffiti artist to be profiled by Rolling Stone. Her work has a tough, extreme and honest quality to it, and there’s nothing stereotypically feminine about her aesthetics. Hend made stencils in Mogamaa and around Tahrir during sit-ins in 2011. She participated in an anti-sexual harassment campaign by spraying the stencil ‘Warning! Don’t touch or castration awaits you!’. The stencil was shocking and provocative, compelling some bystanders to even berate Hend for making it, a surefire sign that her message was powerful and effective.

Photo 4: Hanaa El Degham’s mixed art mural on the Lycee wall is to this date one of the most astounding street artworks I have seen in Egypt. She worked several layers over many days, combining barely finished paintings with stencils and newspaper collages. If you looked closely at the newspaper clippings, you’d find them completely spot-on and appropriate for the beautiful social commentary she was making by portraying the poorest of Egyptians carrying gas cylinders on their heads. A women fully clad in black niqab carries a gas cylinder with ‘Change’ sprayed on it. That visual in itself has so much to say.

Hanaa also worked for days with Ammar Abo Bakr and other painters on the Mohamed Mahmoud martyrs’ mural, adding frames and lotus flowers to several of the martyrs’ portraits.

Photo 5: I’d seen Bahia Shehab’s stencils around Zamalek and Tahrir for months, but it was only until I watched her inspiring Tedx talk on YouTube when I made the connection. Bahia spoke beautifully and powerfully of fighting for social and political justice through art. Her stencil below is one of my favourite pieces, a stencil I spotted on the bleak concrete wall of Mansour Street. When you see such an inspiring and pretty quote on a grotesque concrete military construction, you regain hope; at least in the power and potential of art.

Photo 6: “No to sexual harrassment” by Mira Shihadeh - There’s also Laila Magued, who works tirelessly day and night alongside Mohamed El Moshir and Ammar Abo Bakr in completing murals like this fantastic one on Sheikh Rihan Street, and there’s Mira Shihadeh who paints messages against sexual harassment, and draws crying faces on the streets of Cairo, with the simple message ‘Why’. I’m sure there are many other women to follow suit soon.

I am privileged to have met most of these women and watch them work. It takes a certain fierceness to persevere in creating unique, inspiring street art under the volatile and unpredictable conditions of the Egyptian streets.

Graffiti has also paid tribute to the women of Egypt, whether by honoring them like Alaa Awad’s pharaonic mural or by paying tribute to their bravery in battle like Zeft’s poster, or defending their rights to equality.

Photo 7: ”Don’t label me” - Nooneswa (Noon El Neswa) is a collective of activists that uses graffiti to raise awareness about women’s rights and to lobby for gender equality. Noon El Neswa organised street campaigns where stencils featured Laila Mourad, Soaad Hosny and other iconic women of the Egyptian cinema, and slogans included film quotes or simple demands for equality. Nooneswa is the first collective of its kind to focus solely on women’s issues and use graffiti to raise awareness on the streets of Cairo. Their ‘Don’t Label Me’ design has since appeared in Tunisia, replicated by feminist activists there.

Photo 8: This graffiti on Mohamed Mahmoud Street paid tribute to the Uprising of Women in the Arab World, an online platform with over 80k followers that promotes Arab women’s rights using provocative and personal messages/photos of women.

Source (Click for more Egyptian graffiti art created by women)

Egyptian protesters tear down barbed wire surrounding the presidential palace on night of February 11 as Cairo police get ready to deploy water cannons. 
About 200 protesters also blocked a central subway station and main bridges near the presidential palace on Monday. 
Demonstrations against President Mohamed Morsi have marked the second anniversary of the ongoing Egyptian revolution. 

Egyptian protesters tear down barbed wire surrounding the presidential palace on night of February 11 as Cairo police get ready to deploy water cannons. 

About 200 protesters also blocked a central subway station and main bridges near the presidential palace on Monday. 

Demonstrations against President Mohamed Morsi have marked the second anniversary of the ongoing Egyptian revolution. 

Egypt clashes continue for yet another day, despite Morsi declaring a state-of-emergency and preparing to arrest hundreds of citizens. Morsi continues to become more violent, more brutal and more repressive in his response to Egyptian citizens critical of his tyranny.
January 28, 2013

Police tear-gassed protesters in Cairo on Monday as clashes still gripped Egypt despite a declared state of emergency aimed at suppressing democracy in the region. The citizens on the street meanwhile reject president Morsi’s call for a dialogue as unrest enters its fifth day. They’ve done that before and know that Morsi is interested only in usurping more power from the people.

The violent unrest across Egypt rages on despite a 30-day state of emergency in Egypt starting Monday evening that President Morsi declared yesterday, as protesters pose a larger threat to Morsi’s power grab.

Morsi also set curfews from 9pm to 6am in the three most cities of Port Said, Suez and Ismailia where protesters are most loudly demanding democracy and transparency from the state. Further unrest is anticipated as many refuse to be repressed by the restrictions.

Many people believe a curfew will also be imposed on the capital, where police continue to brutally attack and fire teargas at protesters in Tahrir Square. A bystander was shot dead in clashes near the iconic venue, AFP reported Monday morning. Protesters are reporting that he was shot dead by government forces.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Port Said later on Monday to attend funerals of the most recent victims of police violence and repression. Reuters reported that mourners waved teargas canisters at television cameras to demonstrate that it is the brutal repressive police force who is to blame for the murder of Egyptian citizens.

Talks rejected

As the violence continues leaving now some 50 people dead, Egypt’s main opposition group, the National Salvation Front, has rejected President Mohamed Morsi’s calls for senior politicians and groups to join a national dialogue, saying it “could only lead to a dead end.” Recent interactions with Morsi have shown that he has no interest in fostering democracy in the region.

Speaking after the emergency meeting Monday afternoon, leading member of the coalition, Mohamed ElBaradei, said the proposal by the Islamist leader was “cosmetic and not substantive.”

The National Salvation Front will only attend talks, ElBaradei stressed, if a list of conditions laid by the opposition is met.

Earlier, smaller opposition groups also rejected president Morsi’s offer to negotiate because “the dialogue is a waste of time if the president doesn’t take responsibility for the bloody events.” They will not allow Morsi to get away with unapologetic, violent murder against citizens fighting for democracy.

Shortly after the state of emergency was declared, some 200 people marched in the streets of Ismailia, Reuters reported citing witnesses. “Down with Morsi, down with the state of emergency,” they chanted.

There have been reports of male mobs groping and assaulting isolated women in Tahrir Square amid the unrest. Twenty-five cases of sexual assaults by officers and others trying to suppress female protesters have been reported over the last few days. Some have been stripped naked and one was raped, local women’s rights campaigners told The Guardian.

Egypt’s cabinet later approved a draft law to give the army the power to arrest civilians. A cabinet source told Reuters that the army would “behave like a police force,” meaning detainees would go to a civilian, rather than a military court.

However, Cairo-based journalist Bel Trew told RT that there “have already been calls for protests to break this curfew starting at 8pm [Monday night], they say, in defiance of the president.”

"Security forces are now able to arrest citizens and detain them for up to 30 days without charges. So we’re likely to see a wave of arrests across those three cities as people violate the curfew and clash with police,” she said.

Rallies have been taking place in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and half a dozen other places as citizen outrage continues to spread like wildfire. Protesters have taken to the streets in greater numbers following Saturday’s death sentence verdicts over a stadium stampede last February.

On Sunday, thousands turned out for the funerals of 35 rioters who were killed in previous Port Said protests on Saturday. Teargas was fired and gunfire was shot into the funerals. In Cairo, there was so much teargas in the air that Cairo journalist Bel Trew was struggling to get her words out.

Source

One man has been shot dead and over 400 people injured in fresh clashes in the Egyptian city of Port Said. The death toll has risen to 48 as violence on the streets of Egypt continues for the fourth day in a row.
January 27, 2013

18-year-old Abdel Rahman Farag was killed by a gunshot wound to the chest, the city’s head of hospitals told Reuters. More than 416 people suffered from teargas inhalation, while 17 sustained gunshot wounds, he said.

Thousands of people turned out for the funerals of 35 rioters who were killed in Port Said on Saturday. The mourners shouted,”There is no God but Allah, and Morsi is God’s enemy” after praying for the dead at the city’s Mariam Mosque. Teargas was fired in the vicinity and gunfire was heard nearby. Emergency vehicle sirens were also heard, a witness told Reuters.

Thousands of demonstrators also gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Sunday. Protesters threw petrol bombs at riot police who were firing teargas.

Rallies have been taking place in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and half a dozen other places, many of which have become violent. Protesters have taken to the streets in greater numbers following Saturday’s death sentence verdicts over a stadium stampede last February. 

Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed El-Beltagy has urged Egyptian authorities to “step in with full strength!”

Protests reach back to Friday when nine people were killed in a separate demonstration against of the Islamist Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

The outbreak of violence is a consequence of Saturday’s sentencing of 21 people to death for their role in the deaths of 74 people at a soccer stadium riot and stampede last year.

Spectators were trampled and eyewitnesses saw some thrown off balconies following a match between Al Ahly and local team al-Masri.  But many eye witnesses reported police of playing a role in the deaths. The sentencing was reportedly followed by the immediate deaths of two policemen.

About 18 prisoners in Suez police stations managed to escape during the violence, a security source reported. Approximately 30 police weapons were stolen. Soldiers have taken up positions at important state facilities, including the local power and water stations, administration buildings, banks and courts.

Protests have been spreading throughout Egyptian cities since Thursday, prior to the sentencing. Opponents of Morsi have been gathering to mark the second anniversary on Friday of the beginning of the revolution that led to Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow.

Infuriated protesters report that Morsi has betrayed the economic and representative goals of the previous revolt.

"None of the revolution’s goals have been realized," protester Mohamed Sami told Reuters.

Bel Trew, who is on the ground in Cairo, said, “There’s a lot of anger toward the president – this started just at the end of last year when he pushed through what was seen as an unpopular constitution drafted by an Islamist dominated constituent assembly. People also say that he has not made any of the changes that were called for during the January 25 revolution two years ago, so he’s really lost quite a lot of legitimacy on the streets.”

“Right now here in the capital there are clashes raging between protesters and security forces on the…lots of tear gas in the air here in down-town Cairo. Rocks have also been exchanged.”

“Security have increased their presence around government buildings, as the focus of the anger here for protesters is very much against Morsi’s administration… the situation in Egypt really descends into a bit of a crisis”

Source

Happy Imperial New Year! The United States Army will be deploying troops to nearly three-dozen African nations in the coming year.December 24, 2012
Soldiers based out of Fort Riley, Kansas’ 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division will begin training in March 2013 in order to prepare for a project that will send troops to as many as 35 African nations, the Associated Press reports.
Citing a growing threat from extremist groups, including those with ties to al-Qaeda, the Department of Defense is hoping to install American soldiers overseas in order to prepare local troops there for any future crises as tensions escalate.
Earlier this month, DoD sources with insider knowledge told the Washington Post that US troops will soon be en route to the nation of Mali in order to thwart the emerging threat of Islamic extremists, including al-Qaeda aligned insurgents. With the latest news from the Pentagon, though, Mali will be just one of many African nations hosting US troops in the coming year.
According to the AP’s update this week, soldiers will be sent overseas in the new year to assist only with training and equipping efforts, and are not necessarily permitted to participate in military operations. Should the Pentagon ask the troops to engage in battle, however, the secretary of defense could sign off on an order that would allow as much.
"If they want them for (military) operations, the brigade is our first sourcing solution because they’re prepared," Gen. David Rodriguez, the head of U.S. Army Forces Command, tells the AP. "But that has to go back to the secretary of defense to get an execute order."
Additionally, the AP says that US troops will head specifically to Libya, Sudan, Algeria and Niger in order to prepare for any advances from al-Qaeda linked groups. Americans will also train and equip forces in Kenya and Somalia, reportedly, in order to stand up to al-Shabab militants. Despite the troops being deployed to more than half of the countries in Africa, though, the AP reports that Uncle Sam will try to avoid giving the impression that the United States is leaving a substantial footprint across the continent.
"The challenge we have is to always understand the system in their country,"explains Rodriguez. “We’re not there to show them our system, we’re there to make their system work. Here is what their army looks like, and here is what we need to prepare them to do.”
Sources speaking with the AP say that the United States has already prepared nearly 100 different exercises and training programs to conduct with African troops during the coming year.Source

Happy Imperial New Year! The United States Army will be deploying troops to nearly three-dozen African nations in the coming year.
December 24, 2012

Soldiers based out of Fort Riley, Kansas’ 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division will begin training in March 2013 in order to prepare for a project that will send troops to as many as 35 African nations, the Associated Press reports.

Citing a growing threat from extremist groups, including those with ties to al-Qaeda, the Department of Defense is hoping to install American soldiers overseas in order to prepare local troops there for any future crises as tensions escalate.

Earlier this month, DoD sources with insider knowledge told the Washington Post that US troops will soon be en route to the nation of Mali in order to thwart the emerging threat of Islamic extremists, including al-Qaeda aligned insurgents. With the latest news from the Pentagon, though, Mali will be just one of many African nations hosting US troops in the coming year.

According to the AP’s update this week, soldiers will be sent overseas in the new year to assist only with training and equipping efforts, and are not necessarily permitted to participate in military operations. Should the Pentagon ask the troops to engage in battle, however, the secretary of defense could sign off on an order that would allow as much.

"If they want them for (military) operations, the brigade is our first sourcing solution because they’re prepared," Gen. David Rodriguez, the head of U.S. Army Forces Command, tells the AP. "But that has to go back to the secretary of defense to get an execute order."

Additionally, the AP says that US troops will head specifically to Libya, Sudan, Algeria and Niger in order to prepare for any advances from al-Qaeda linked groups. Americans will also train and equip forces in Kenya and Somalia, reportedly, in order to stand up to al-Shabab militants. Despite the troops being deployed to more than half of the countries in Africa, though, the AP reports that Uncle Sam will try to avoid giving the impression that the United States is leaving a substantial footprint across the continent.

"The challenge we have is to always understand the system in their country,"explains Rodriguez. “We’re not there to show them our system, we’re there to make their system work. Here is what their army looks like, and here is what we need to prepare them to do.”

Sources speaking with the AP say that the United States has already prepared nearly 100 different exercises and training programs to conduct with African troops during the coming year.

Source