1.1.2011

Yesterday, Egypt awakened to a horrendous tragedy…

An unspeakable act of treachery and evil…

The Hideous hands of terror has struck Egypt, all of Egypt & all of the Egyptians, and it had struck them where it really hurts.

21 EGYPTIANS dead, and 74 wounded… an appalling criminal attack directed at each and every one of us.

Instead of celebrating a new year, we are burying and mourning our victims… and forever will this date, 1/1/2011 be marked with sadness and grief for all Egyptians.

To my fellow Christians, allow me to offer my sincerest and most solemn condolences to you, on your terrible loss…

Your loss is our loss… The blood that was shed was Egyptian… it was you & me and every single one of us who was targeted by these vile murderous acts…

To my fellow Muslims, we must condemn these horrible acts, both verbally and by the power of our actions; we must support our Christian brethren and sisters in their time of trial. That’s what the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) would have done if he was amongst us:

“Those who believe (in the Qur’ān), those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Sabians and the Christians,- any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness- on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.”

al-Mā’idah 8:69

“Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews and Pagans; and nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say, “We are Christians”: because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant.”

al-Mā’idah 8:82

And finally, to all my fellow Egyptians, We must stand united against the tyranny of evil doers. It falls on us the educated and intellects of both sects to make sure that this unity remains unshaken, I don’t know how, but it is most important that we understand and make those around us realize that we are not one and the other, we are ONE, there are more things to unites us, than to divide us…

We are not two sects sharing a land, we are one NATION living in its’ land.

We must fight ignorance, hate and sectarian discrimination… by the power of our words, ideas & actions.

May the victims rest in peace and may God bless us all.

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Mortal breathes & immortal Questions which may never be answered!

What’s the meaning of a 30 years “Emergency”?

 

Through the past two week, I have been hesitating about whether to write this post or not, not to mention I didn’t have the time to do it.

Despite criticism of some friends and fellows, from the beginning (and believe me I knew about this tragic incident from the early beginning, specifically since Wednesday mid day), I made it a point NOT to take part in the public frenzy following this incident that shocked the nation.

Khaled Said’s brutal death (aka the Alexandria Martyr, the Martyr of Emergency law & the Police victim), has become a phenomena, and it’s fallout is threatening the very system established and maintained by this government for the past 30 years, no Egyptian can ignore this incident now.

Yet I had my reasons to stay out of the ongoing commotion:

Ever since I received the mail (before facebook catches on) containing Khalid’s post-mortem photos I had an eerie feeling about the incident. At first glance, I was in shock and disbelief, I actually thought it was a hoax of some sort, because the post-mortem images bore little or no resemblance of the smart looking young man in the pre-torture photo.

Then later on when I read the news and confirmed it from many sources, I was infuriated, but instantly and simultaneously I started questioning the details of the incident.

Early on, ever since the story was first published, it was clear that the opposition papers and commentators were trying to exploit the story to their advantage (and I cannot blame them for that), therefore the story coming from the opposition media was full of emotions and it’s narrative glorified the deceased young man, beyond reasonable limits.

Meanwhile the Government and its tainted media stayed silent in the beginning, ignoring the incident altogether (in a vain hope that if they act as if it didn’t happen it would go away), but then faced with the rage which literally gripped the nation, they went on a “full defense“ mode and started negating the opposition’s story with the most comical and ridiculous stories.

That is why I’ve been staying at bay from this particular debate, so as not to fall in the pit of taking sides, especially that this would be really easy given how critical I am of the government, and the amount of lies and misinformation surrounding this sad incident.

Instead, I waited as the fury, anger and heated emotions cooled (at least just a little bit) and was also waiting in the vain hope that the government, under national and international pressure as it is, would open an impartial investigation that would shed more light on what really took place during that most unfortunate night.

Well, yesterday, the “final” forensics report confirmed the findings of the first autopsy, stating the following, and I quote: “The victim had died of asphyxiation rather than as a result of police brutality.” The report continues, to state that Saeed “had choked to death on a foreign body.” and it identifies the “foreign body” in question as a packet of Marijuana (7.5 long and 2.5 cm wide), which had lodged in the victim’s throat and prevented him from breathing. The report strongly suggests that the death had been accidental.

Personally, I expected this exact report!

I was hoping for a different one, but deep down I knew that this was going to happen.
However the “final” report doesn’t not answer the questions that I was pondering ever since I heard about Khaled’s death, which are:

1. According to eye witnesses, this guy was grabbed from the back, so when exactly did he take out the pack of cannabis? (not to mention shove it down his throat!)
2. More importantly how did he manage to swallow a 2.5 wide, 7.5 long object, without any “lubricants”?!!
3. If they saw him do that, why didn’t they try to stop him or make him spit it?
4. If he was choking on a pack of cannabis, or on anything, why didn’t they call the ambulance or try to rescue him on the spot?
5. If he did in fact did swallow the pack, how come it took him 15-20 minutes to choke and die on it?
6. And what took place during those 15-20 minutes if they were not hitting him to death? Were they holding his hands and patting his back while he choked to death???
7. Since when did drug dealers leave their houses with just one pack of cannabis?
8. Is there any other evidence to back the official claim that he is a drug dealer? Where is the rest of his stash? Did they find any drugs when they searched his apartment? Did they search his apartment at all to start with?
9. Why did they take him to the police station?
10. More importantly, what happened there??? What took place in those 10-20 minutes after Khaled vanished into the police car, with no eye witnesses watching?
11. Why did they bring him back and throw him in the street? If there was no wrong doing on the part of the police, why did they bring him back? Wouldn’t it be logical to call the ambulance to pick him up from the police station, and document the whole process to prove that there was no wrong doing on behalf of the police???

The FINAL official report ignores all these questions, just like it ignored the questions and queries put forth by Khaled’s lawyers.

And based on this “conclusive“ forensic report, I suspect that the ongoing investigation by the attorney general, will not include any new findings or condemnations.
SO the official narrative will remain the same: Khaled was an unemployed, drug addict & drug dealer, who resisted arrest, and he fully deserves what happened to him.

Despite all the anger and public rage…
Against all evidence…
Ignoring our intelligence as well as our emotions…
Our government remains defiant!

الحمد لله قانون الطوارئ اقتصر على الارهاب والمخدرات..وبكده القانون هيدي الحق للمعتقل انه يختار يكون ارهابي ولا تاجر مخدرات
– A friend’s status update

OK! Suppose he was really a: 7ashash, dealer, we 3atel
Does that give our vigilant police the right to torture him?

If so, then given the unemployment rates which this government have miraculously achieved, and given the unprecedented rates of drug consumption in Egypt, then easily more than half of the population should be tortured along with Khaled.
Suppose that the torture really did not lead to his death, and swallowing a Package of cannabis did -although I personally can hardly swallow the story, that a young man, with no significant crime record despite what the police wants us to believe, would try and succeed in swallowing a pack of cannabis without so much as even a glass of water! maybe if they said a piece of Hash (Hashish) it would have been more logical, but given the hash crisis I suppose they had to do with what’s available!

Anyhow suppose it is true, and he did swallow it, would you not agree that torturing the poor guy was kind of an obstacle in the way of giving him proper medical care? I mean how can they give him a CPR when they are too busy banging his head to the wall!!!!

There is no doubt in my mind that this is crime by all standards, even if he was the most notorious drug dealer in Egypt, and a Rapist, Terrorist, child abuser, all at once… he should have stood trial and not die in an alley in this inhuman tragic way.

The Police brutalty we are witnessing right now is a byproduct of 30 years of emergency law, and giving the police absolute and unchecked power to detain and “interrogate “ any given suspect in order to preserve the system…

Our police became so “efficient “ in the realm of torturing people (innocent or not), to the extent that all through Iraq war, the US was outsourcing it’s “terror detainee “ to be tortured in Egypt!

Now the System’s control system (the Police), have gone beyond the control of the system (the government)!

The current government cannot afford to keep ignoring the nation’s rage over this incident and all the others… they cannot keep treating the public as if they are 7 years old..

The questions surrounding Khaled’s death must be answered, because all the evidence points out that something very very very wrong went down on that night… and, given the long bloody history of police torture in this nation, until all the circumstances surrounding Khaled’s death are fully revealed and all those involved are held accountable, the people of this nation have all the right to be very very very angry…

I would like to see those responsible for this tragic incident being held accountable for it, to the highest level, but we both know this is too farfetched.

AND supposing he was innocent, I would like to see them burn!

More on the tragic death of Khaled Said

Alex catastrophe: I blame the media!

Follow up on my last article; Alex catastrophe: The Wakeup call…

 

As is the case with tragedies like the Louran building collapse; they bring us to question all the role players on the scene, Government, society, local authorities, District office, engineers & of course the media.

The global media coverage is in the least, sad but true, it gives us a painful insight about how we’re viewed as a nation worldwide, and it’s not by any means an optimistic or admirable image.

The CNN coverage stated that:

Buildings regularly collapse in Egypt, either as a result of deterioration with time or shoddy construction that fails to meet standards and regulations.”

Al Jazeera, Reuters, Herald tribune & New York Times coverage gave statements to the same effect. As for the MSNBC, they went further to state:

“Shoddy materials, illegal construction and a culture of corruption were blamed for the deaths of more than three dozen people buried when a 12-story apartment building crumbled to the ground.”

That’s how we are viewed globally now, as a culture of corruption!

However, what’s even more upsetting was the Egyptian media’s coverage. The Egyptian media’s coverage of the incident confirmed that our media is still divided into two halves; which I’ve named the appeasers & the inciters.

The appeasers being of course the sector of the media that is indirectly sponsored & controlled by the government, those work as somewhat an unpaid PR agency for the government, trying to pacify and soothe the society in the face of such tragedy.

Therefore the information communicated by this sector is somewhat true, but is often unreliable because it is toned down to the maximum.

As for the inciters, they are of course all the yellow tabloids and opposition owned media, which tend to do the exact opposite, blow the news out of proportion and exaggerate it to the other extreme.

Those two faces of the coin are equally untrustworthy for getting facts and objective information. And usually in a lot of these cases they both worsen the sufferings of those directly affected by the tragedy, with their mixed false information and uncertain facts.

An example of this is the “Al Masry Al Youm” coverage which on 28/12/2007, on its website published the news of the death of Roba Ayoub & all of her family. Although at the time Roba (God bless her soul) was still under the rubble. Continue reading

Alex catastrophe: The Wakeup call!

This is a refined version of my article; Awake: the collapse of buildings and morals, it was published in Campus magazine March 2008 issue. To view the older article click here

dedicated to Roba Salah Ayoub, may God bless her & rest her soul

“We wish you a merry Christmas,

We wish you a merry Christmas,

& Happy new year…”

The jingle goes. Unfortunately that was not the case in Alexandria…

One day before Christmas, & right after Adha eid, on Monday the 24th of December morning; Alexandria woke up to another horror, to maintain the series of tragedies the city have been plagued with during the recent years.

The Lauran residential building collapse claimed 35 innocent lives (including 2 complete families) & took both the city and the nation by surprise. Amongst whom is “Roba Salah Ayoub” may God rest her soul & also 4 other members of her family.

I came to know her during my study in Arab Academy, Alex. and the least I can say about her is that she was a young and vibrant character, with a kind heart & a bright future awaiting her; fate has it that she was one of the many victims of this tragic collapse. And this touched me deeper than I imagined such thing would, as I’m sure it did to all those who knew her.

On Sunday the 30th the authorities announced the end of search and rescue operations, and left the city celebrating the New Year by burying it’s loved ones. Only 3 survived the disaster, all were pulled out of the rubble during first 48 following the collapse.

The apartment block, which was originally built as a seven-storey structure, was built without a license, in 1982. The owner later obtained a permit, and then added an illegal extra five floors.

On site witnesses have recounted that the rescue operations were well coordinated, and surprisingly humane. Except for a territorial feud that occurred on the first day between the army and the National Guard forces on-site, everything went smoothly, and everybody did the best they can.

Up till here the news is pretty normal (if we consider a building collapse a normal occurrence), buildings fall everywhere right?

It’s a painful tragedy by all standards, true, but yet it’s not as tragic as a ferry sinking, and taking 1,000 passengers down with it, one might say. So normally this feature should end here, and with a little prayer for the victims of the Louran Building, I should conclude this article.

Unfortunately this is not the case, buildings fall everywhere, that’s right, but not as regularly as they do in Egypt.

During the last 8 years only, (starting with the turn of the century) we had about 20 building collapses in various areas of Egypt, 5 of which was during the last two years. (Almost as frequent as, say, rock concerts?!) Continue reading

Awake: the collapse of buildings and morals

Update: Campus Magazine published a refined version of this article in it’s February issue; to view the article “The Wake up call” Click here

First I’d like to wish you all a happy new year, and give you my warmest season greetings… hope all the feasts that have been concurring during these two months are happy and full of joy.

With that said and over with, I’d like to get to the real reason I’m sending out this mail; as most of you know by now, a building have collapsed in Louran area in Alexandria last week, on the 24th of December, killing as the latest body count revealed, nearly 40 innocent Egyptians, between mother, father & child. Amongst whom is “Roba Salah Ayoub” may God rest her soul & also 4 other members of her family.

I came to know her during my study in University and the least I can say about her is that she was a young and vibrant character, with a kind heart & a bright future awaiting her; fate has it that she was one of the many victims of this tragic collapse. And this touched me deeper than I imagined such thing would, as I’m sure it did to all those who knew her.(please pray for her)

But I also didn’t send you this mail to share my grief with you… (those of you who know me well, knows I don’t care much about the “sharing & caring” culture!)

Egyptian rescuers save Lila Mahmoud Safwat, who was found alive under debris of the 12-storey building which collapsed in Alexandria.

I’m sending you this mail to discuss what you and me are going to do about such a tragic accident. Wait, did I just say accident?! No! CRIME would be a more accurate way to describe it.

Because that’s what it is… a crime, a cold blooded crime, if ever there was one, and you know who the accused is?

It is YOU & ME before anyone else, it’s our apathy and indifference! Continue reading