Tuesday, December 27, 2011


What’s this?

Once more, I am sitting on the front seat in a microbus, beside the driver. This is my favourite seat also in winter, except when the side window cannot be closed – because then, it is simply too cold.

I look unbelievingly at the rear mirror: this is not a rear mirror but a screen of about 20 to 12 centimetres and there are people moving about! A video! In fact, there is a movie on! I can’t refrain from laughing. The other passengers behind me are enjoying themselves and so does the driver.

It must be challenging to drive a microbus, focus on the traffic, stop on demand to let passengers get on and off and watch a video at the same time. However, no problem for Egyptians!

While I am thinking about it and wondering what the police might have to say, the bus passes by an important junction in full speed. Only seconds later, the driver gets aware of it and stops on the roadside. Without any hesitation, he goes into reverse gear, reverses against the traffic into an impasse, turns and drives against the traffic back to the junction that he missed.

That’s no problem at all. Phantasy and creativity are part of Egypt’s daily routine.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Eleven months later

During the last weeks and months, terrible things have happened in Egypt. Since January 25 everything has deteriorated.

I am closely following the events and sometimes, I have the opportunity to discuss things with Egyptians. However, it is difficult to keep track on what is going on. Lots of questions are in my mind and the lack of understanding makes it sometimes impossible for me to write. Besides, this is not a political blog.

But it’s a blog about my life in Egypt and this is why I try to give an overview from my very personal point of view.

Mubarak’s overthrow on February 11, 2011, was an event of utter joy for liberally thinking people and created much hope for a better future. Eleven months later, nothing is left from this joy. It rather feels like a lethal hangover after a hilarious party with accidents and disasters in the aftermath. Suddenly one becomes aware what should have been done differently – or what should have been omitted.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Shadows of the night

The sand is absorbing the determined, firm steps. No moon. Pitch dark. The wall’s shadows can be discerned only faint-heartedly. Yet after a while, they are shaping forms: roofs, balconies, windows, doors. Somewhere, a dog is barking without any reason until another dog joins this useless barking.

Otherwise, everything is quiet. On the black night sky, sparkling spots are shining. They stay up there recklessly and firmly, squandering their timeless beauty randomly on all those who care to see them. The steps hesitate… halt in order to catch this beautiful view up there.

Something unknown… dark… is moving off the way. Amidst the darkness. It takes the breath away, the steps hasten, the eyes let go of the beauty in the sky and unconfidentially grab hold of the dark. Nothing can be seen, nothing can be heard. However, the shadow approaches. Two shadows. Many shadows. The pulse races, the steps remain firm and determined.

The tall and slim shadows hover as in dancing over the uneven ground. The sand is absorbing their steps; their long flittering robes merge with the dark of the night. They disappear behind a wall… just to emerge anew some seconds later. They approach and dissolve again in the darkness’ twilight.

The street is near; the street lights cast its warm light into the dark. What a relief.

Yet… what is going on there, in the darkness?

The shadows vividly move to and fro. Silent laughter sounds over… Teenagers in the dark. Long caftans playing tag, a child’s play. What else? How foolish!

Friday, December 16, 2011

This time the military

Once again, violent attacks on protestors. Once again. people standing on roofs throwing down stones, glass, molotov cocktails and furniture on protestors. Once again, gunshots. Once again, there are injured and dead people. Once again, state TV is informing about attacks by protestors against the military (sic)!

Yet there is also something new: the (independent) media clearly calls the attackers by their name: the military. Up to now, it was either the police, the central security police or hired thugs. But now it’s the military! Photos and eye witnesses tell that even women of all age, with head scarves and fully veiled were brutally beaten as well.

All this after the transition Prime Minister El-Ghanzouri promised: no violent banishment of demonstrators any more. He allegedly has received full power – except the one over the military. Exactly!

Once again questions linger: what’s the military’s aim? What’s the SCAF’s aim? What will happen next in this country that is tumbling faster after each sunrise?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Additional turn

They are getting off the bus. Germans or Swiss, I suppose. They live nearby. Getting around by microbus as I do.

Soon after, an Egyptian is getting on the microbus and hands to the driver a bag that was left on the seat. I tell the driver – once more I am sitting on the front seat – that it’s the foreigners’ bag, for sure. He stops immediately, turns and hurries back to where they got off the bus. I think they went to that direction over there. The driver goes on, searching, honking, changes the direction and surprise: the couple got attracted by the car honking and approaches the microbus in great relief.

They get their bag – the driver gets five pounds. I feel a bit ashamed about this mingy reward. But I guess the foreigners were far too surprised to react appropriately.

The driver returns to his normal itinerary and excitedly tells how recently a bag with money, mobile phone and passports were left in his bus – and how he could, hours later, hand it over to its owners. He talks about this as if it was the most common thing in the world: returning any valuables to its owner. And in fact it is, isn’t it? Even in Egypt…


Since the results of the elections‘ first stage have become known, fear is spreading around. There is fear that Egypt might become a radical Islamic country such as Iran or Saudi Arabia. The idea that the Muslim Brothers (40% of the votes) and Salafis (20% of the votes) might co-operate is more than hair-rising.

Egyptians are religious, however, they gleam from zest of life and don’t want anybody to interfere and dictate how they should live their lives. To impose prohibition of music on people who start singing, clapping their hands and dancing on any occasion? I just saw this on the vegetable market: the farmers sang and clapped their hands next to their booth in broad daylight!

Fear is felt among the Copts; they fear that there will be even more constraints and harassment. And so do women who have been fighting for their rights since the twenties. And all those who fought for the overturn of regime feel betrayed, once more.

However, not everybody shares this apprehension. So far, only one third of the elections for the lower house have taken place. Chances are that the liberals are able to attract more attention from the ordinary people and to get their votes – however there is only little time and they (the liberals) neither get financial support from Qatar (Muslim Brothers) nor from Saudi Arabia (Salafis) in the range of millions of US dollars. Chances are that vote rigging gets enabled – however, considering the present chaos this scenario seems rather unlikely. Chances are that the Muslim Brothers enter a coalition with the liberals and distance themselves distinctly from the radical Salafis. On the occasion of yesterday’s and today’s run-offs, members from the two parties fought harshly against each other. This might change again, but I simply can’t imagine that the Muslim Brothers could unite with the Salafis.

However, one forgets over all the Islamophobia that Egypt definitely has other much more serious problems to face than alcohol prohibition, coercion of the headscarf and dress codes for tourists. This country urgently needs investments requiring legal security and stability. It needs an increase of the agricultural output (Egypt is the largest wheat importer!). Corruption must be eliminated. Emergency law has to be abolished. The educational system urgently needs to be improved. Privatisation has to be pushed forward. Subsidies that are wrongly allocated have to be abolished. Environmental pollution needs to be combatted. Any subjects can arbitrarily be added to this list because all domains of this country have decayed during 30 years of dictatorship.

The Salafis don’t seem to be able to get all this done. They got their votes thanks to threat, propaganda and gifts. This is not an option in politics in the long run. It would imply that people continue remaining poor and illiterate.

Sober-minded people argue that only the Muslim Brothers are the ones to be able to approach Egypt’s huge problems. They have eighty years of experience and many of them are successful businessmen and entrepreneurs – last but not least in tourism.

Last week, I got my visa extension for another year and was very happy about it. Especially, because during the last couple of months some residence permits were not renewed any more. Yet, after the elections’ results, me too I thought “if the Islamists are going to be Egypt’s next rulers I quit; I don’t need this”. I would not be able to go cycling anymore! But we are not that far yet. By mid-January we will know more and until then the chaos will continue. Fear will continue too, although the Muslim Brothers are struggling to convince with their liberal political convictions.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Muslim Brothers ahead?

It seems as if the Muslim Brothers gained the majority of the votes after the first stage of the parliamentary elections. For sure, they manipulated the votes as much as they could – however not only they did so. The results will officially be published tomorrow.

It seems…, since only one third of the elections have taken place and during the next two months and the next two election stages a lot may be seen to happen. Some are cheering now – maybe too early? Others might struggle more – and will cheer at last?

A friend desperately exclaimed today: what should I do if I should suddenly veil myself? She calls herself “supposed to be Muslim” – and is in fact a very ordinary, secular and modern Egyptian female.

It’s exciting to wait and see what happens next. At least, I feel much more confident than a couple of weeks ago!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

On the verge of elections (V)

Shortly before the elections is also shortly after the elections. Or what?

Although the parliamentary elections start only tomorrow, stamped ballot papers do already exist! Egypt is once more not able to organize free and fair elections.

This link from The Guardian shows an informative diagram about the present jungle of political parties. Indeed, impressive. Yet what’s the use of it when the elections are rigged again? I feel sorry for efforts of all those who really wish to develop Egypt.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Now it’s revolution time

Since I’ve come to Egypt the first time, I kept on asking myself and Egyptians: why don’t you stand up? Why don’t you fight for your rights? Don’t you have an opposition underground or abroad who is able to organize an uprising?

The answer was always almost the same: no – we have the Muslim brothers – Mubarak controls everything – we are patient. To talk aloud about ex-President Mubarak was dangerous: my interlocutor’s eyes would anxiously look around and only whisper. 30 years of dictatorship, 60 years of military junta combined with oppression, intimidation and poverty have scotched all political aspirations.

How very different the situation looks like now! It seems as if the revolution begun in January is finally going to be completed. The demands are formed much more precisely; activists, groups and political parties have learned their lessons and have become mature. There are three different demonstrations today in Cairo: one against the SCAF, then the Muslim brothers demonstrate rather unnoticed, and finally there is a group called “silent majority” that is pro-SCAF (and also pro-Mubarak and the old regime).

I don’t know how big this „silent majority“ is. One of my acquaintances belongs to them and we’ve discussed and argued countless hours and I shed tears about his unspeakably complicated arguments. Those people clutch to a past that does not exist anymore and whose expiry date has long ago been exceeded. In those days, there used to be “security” (since the police could be seen at each corner!), every day “dad Mubarak” spoke from state television to them and “mum Suzanne” provided for her “children” with charitable work. The results of the elections were foreseeable: no change for 30 years. Poverty, corruption, dictatorship, torture, censorship, oppression, arbitrariness and other crimes against humanity were ignored. Exactly in the same way, those people ignore today’s reality. Who will not understand? They see the police’s and army’s violence. They know that thousands of thugs have been freed by the remnants of the old regime to spread chaos and fear and to attack demonstrators. They read reports about Egypt’s incredible corruption. Nevertheless, they want the old times to come back! Are they in a state of shock? Is it a reflex of defence out of fear of an unknown and scaring future? Someone who has grown up in a liberal environment can’t really understand this. But I also know many Egyptians who don’t.

Yesterday, I was appalled by a statement: on Tahrir square are only Muslim brothers and mindless people without work and nothing else to do. These are state television’s words. However, it is exactly the Muslim brothers who are facing a big problem now because they exactly did not go to Tahrir! Our Arabic teacher’s yesterday’s (political) lesson was fantastic. He concluded that the Muslim brothers had lost a lot of credibility with their decision to stay away from Tahrir.

I want to emphasize that those such statements and views are buzzing across all classes of population. No matter, if educated or not! This is even more appalling to me!

No-one knows how things go on. Allegedly, the elections should start on Monday (in Hurghada as well). The demonstrators are forming their own “salvation government” under the chair of El Baradei and they have rejected the prime minister appointed by the SCAF. The SCAF won’t make further concessions. It’s an impasse – so it seems. Violence is (hopefully) no option any more. Yet, how much time will it take to find a solution or a compromise? In the meantime, the country’s economy continues to decline rapidly…

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Although the SCAF has made concessions, although an investigation of the violence is taking place and the Health Minister has spoken about life ammunition against demonstrators – the massacre goes on. Police is not being ordered to retreat, in the contrary…

It seems as if demonstrators should be demoralized and divided. Wrong calculation, this will not happen.

As bad as the situation might look in many Egyptian cities, I can assure my readers: Hurghada is as calm as a holiday resort has to be. Allegedly there have been demonstrations of sympathy in Dahar – but peaceful.

People’s power

Atrocious scenes are happening all over Egypt, police is using incredible violence. Nevertheless, streets and places are crackingly full.

Meanwhile, SCAF has made some concessions. Procedure and pictures are very much alike those earlier this year: the people demand, the rulers give in bit by bit, make promises, lie, but do not meet the most vital demand. At the same time, tear gas (and allegedly nerve gas) and rubber bullets are shot at protestors with utmost brutality, hunted through the streets and heavily beaten. The only difference compared to January/February seems to be that the police’s violence is much stronger. And: soldiers have disappeared! Field Marshal Tantawy said in his speech that the army had never shot at protestors and that the army would stick to their main task which is protecting Egypt’s people – but at the same time they let the police ravage.

Egyptians are angry and want one thing only: Tantawi must go. They will not give up, as little as they gave up in February. The people’s power is big and Tantawi will have to bow out.

By now, some political parties and groups have agreed how to proceed after Minister Essam Sharaf’s resignation. Somehow, it must go on, the country needs finally to calm down.

Short while ago, a friend called me sobbingly, that tear gas would be thrown into Tahrir square (no, it comes in from the side streets where battles are taking place and probably from the underground entrances). She would like to be in Tahrir – but her husband is already in Cairo, the risk would be too high – they have got children.

I’d like to go to sleep, but I can’t. Something is yet to happen… The army has failed completely and have lost people’s recognition and admiration. And this slaughter cannot continue for another four days!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Supporting the revolution

One of my „students“ has cancelled his today’s lesson. He is a surgeon and on his way to Cairo now to support the doctors there.

I also finally got a message from a close friend that he has been staying in Alexandria since last week. He prepared what can be seen on TV now. He is on the street and searches in internet about possibilities to protect them from the terrible effect of the tear gas. The message reaches me at a moment in which I was thinking about what I would do… As an Egyptian, I would, for sure, have been since long active underground to detect the outrageous injustice and make it public.

I am proud of all those who are fighting for their future.

Re-conquest of the stolen revolution

Actually, I am speechless. Too much violence, too much bad news. After a few hours‘ sleep my alarm clock woke me up only to read a sms from an Egyptian student: she would not come to the lessons since she had been watching the events on TV all night… Well, what should I say?
In the same way as police was using excessive violence, protestors have been flocking to the streets all day, are ready to give their lives. Activists and political parties are setting up their clear demands. Field hospitals have been established. The demonstrations are starting to be as well organised as they were in January and February. For me, it’s really the second uprising. Ten months are lost and Egypt has dearly paid for it. I understand the expression “stolen revolution” much better now. But I think that the Egyptians are getting it back.
The cabinet has allegedly resigned – the SCAF has refused the resignation however. I am convinced that within the next 36 to 48 hours the course will be set anew. Sorry, if I allow myself to make predictions – can’t help it anymore.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Leaving Egypt

Yesterday, I had a new „student“ (this is how I call my adult customers who want to study a language with me). I’ve known him before: he once was my neighbour and also studied German with me. Now he wants to learn French.

French of all languages? He murmured something about new possibilities, changing situations. But soon I thought: probably he wants to leave Egypt. When he was finally here, he clearly said: I want to go to Québec, Canada.

Egypt does not offer a future any more. What should he do in this country? During the last couple of months, the situation has deteriorated. His wife is at present studying French in Ismailia and he studies with me. He has relatives in Québec; it’s a good country, offers good possibilities.

He’s not the first one and for sure not the last one from my acquaintances. Another one is married to a Swiss, is assiduously studying German. His destination: Germany or Switzerland.

Another friend is of Lebanese origin – where Christians are being prosecuted as well – and plans to migrate to Canada as well. I’ll never forget his words: I better leave before they kill me.

The young and the well-educated try to leave the country by legal means. Then, there are also those who try to leave illegally. Yet what do the others do who can’t leave? Those, who are too old, don’t speak a foreign language, have responsibilities or simply can’t afford it?

Egyptians love their country. Their ties towards their country and their families are typically southerner much tighter than we Western Europeans might feel it. How desperate must they feel to leave all this behind them.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

On the verge of elections (IV)

Today’s demonstrations will have consequences, I wrote yesterday late. They continued today and will not abate so quickly. The massive violence against the protestors used by police and military police is incredible. At the same time, officials stress that police has shown the utmost restraint! More than thousand injured and at least six deaths within only 48 hours, and countless pictures and videos on TV and internet speak for themselves. Huge amounts of teargas have been thrown and people are bleeding from nose and mouth; some are suffering from suffocation. Is this called restraint???

Across the country, people take to the streets: Alexandria, Port Suez, Ismailia, Minya, Tanta, Asiut, Qena… and everywhere, the same pictures can be seen: protesters demand the military rulers to leave and police is responding with excessive force.

What next? The protestors demand the resignation of field marshal Tantawi and a civil government that should implement the revolution’s demands. However, this is not possible at present. But the Egyptians will not accept empty promises any more – they have been waiting too long for facts. So will the protestors be dispersed by even more force? I can’t believe they will give in easily: they are very determined now.

And what about the elections? Can’t imagine they should take place soon…


One, no, two real earthquakes. Yesterday morning, the building in which I live trembled for a small eternity. Long enough to think about what I should do. Run outside? Go on the balcony – how stupid. I also thought of those people who experienced stronger earthquakes and lost all their belongings and beloved ones. But then, this strange rattling and trembling of those things that normally seem to be solid stopped.

I forgot it again because last night’s events kept my mind rather busy.

Yet this morning – I was still lying in bed – I felt again this well-known vibration; however this time it lasted less long and was less strong. Nevertheless, I withheld my breath for an instant… listened… felt… would it become stronger?... would it last longer?... No.

Instead, the brutal violence of police and military against protestors has fully re-appeared.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

On the verge of elections (III)

Yesterday, Friday, the biggest demonstrations for months took place in Cairo. The demonstrators were supported by several cities all over the country. Their demand was a swift handover of power by the military to an elected civil government and presidential elections before April 2012.

At first, the Islamists were present (directly after the Friday prayers) but then, all colour of activists, civilians and political groups joined them. Towards evening, the crowd has swollen to 50’000.

Most of them left Tahrir Square at night, but some activists stayed overnight.

Today Saturday, police and central security forces dispersed them violently. As soon as they had left, demonstrators came back from all sides, all kind of groups. Now we are close to midnight and people are still moving to Tahrir. Same is happening in the most important cities all over Egypt. Presidential candidates are joining the demonstrators and supporting them – seizing the opportunity.

The police are interfering with little restraint, as usual; several journalists have been injured and being robbed of their equipment, one has lost an eye. The number of injured is rising constantly and is said to be near 600.

Can’t get it out of my mind anymore… Is it the second big uprising? Egyptians are more than fed up. Since Mubarak has been toppled, everything went wrong. The 25 January aims have been boycotted… Do Egyptians stand up once more united, Islamists and Seculars? Will the parliamentary elections take place at all? Today’s demonstrations will have consequences…

Saturday, November 12, 2011

On the verge of elections (II)

Now it’s getting interesting: an administrative court of Dakhaliya government has issued a ruling according to which ex-NDP members are excluded from the upcoming parliamentary elections. It seems that this verdict CANNOT be appealed to and can be applied all over the country.

If so, it’s really becoming very interesting. The ex-NDP members will fight tooth and nail and will apply all pressure to get elected nevertheless. Still two weeks to go till the elections…
Update 14.11.2011
The court rule has been suspended by the Supreme Administrative court. Nobody knows anymore what's going to happen next....

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

On the verge of the elections

At the end of the month, the first „free“ parliamentary elections will be held. I doubt that they really will be free.

Still 18 days to go and Egypt is drowning deeper and deeper in chaos. Bad news is a daily routine and sometimes I don’t feel like writing on my blog.

The Eid El-Adha feast has been used by the Muslim brotherhood to win over the big quantity of poor an illiterate population by distributing toys to the children and to sell food at 50% of the market price, mainly meat which many families can’t afford to buy.

Activists are publishing black lists with the names of former NDP members that nevertheless want to be re-elected. Not only former ministers, but also those of the present transition government have presented their best wishes for Eid El-Adha to ex-president Mubarak. “Flattering” is not an expression strong enough to describe this… Meanwhile, everybody has realised that only the head of the old regime has been cut, and the body is still wildly lashing about.

The SCAF has presented a document defining who should draw the new constitution and what should be its content. A cry of anger went across all political parties throughout the country, because the army wishes to consolidate its power. Civilians are continuously tried and sentenced before the military court. Some activists refuse to give evidence before the military court; one of them has been on hunger strike for months. They even tried to declare him mentally ill and admit him to a psychiatric clinic. Copts are being randomly detained and accused of being the agitators and initiators of the massacres of 9th October and consequently sentenced. There is still no independent investigation of the deadly events.

In the meantime, people are bashing their heads in Upper Egypt. The tradition of the vendetta is prevailing – not really a surprise in a country without law and order. A friend told me, that people kill each other for a stolen chicken, because of a donkey that was feeding from the wrong land.

To change my mind, I wanted to spend a couple of days in Luxor, however, I didn’t. Friends even advise against my travelling alone by bus. In addition, there too, fights are reigning between gangs and families. Tourists travelling in groups might be safe. But I don’t really feel like travelling there alone. The historical sites will survive and wait for me…

Hence, I stay in Hurghada, enjoying the sun, the clear sea and sit writing in the Marina about the difficult and longsome process of an Arabic country becoming a democracy.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Unloved season

Autumn. My unloved season. Suddenly, after many months, fine clouds are decorating the unspoilt blue sky. The shadows are growing in length and width, impertinently expanding without respecting any limits.

Palm leaves are rustling excitedly in the unsteady wind. The wind has become unpleasant, makes one feel cold although it’s still warm. Trees and plants surprise with new buds and leaves. The suffocating heat has withdrawn to give space for new life.

The sea is restless, the waves dance fiercer than usually and proudly carry whitecaps. The horizon can be discerned again: golden islands in the sea, the mountain chain in the desert.

I slip over a jacket, the first time after several months. I feel cold.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Egyptian Specialities (I)

Now and then, I see, hear or come across something that lets me smile or amazes me. I want to share these experiences with you and from now on will write under this label about these things, situations or facts that are surprising, funny or just different from our well-regulated Western world.

Why need a windscreen when you can also do without it?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Star in the desert

This morning, I went for a long trip on my bicycle, haven’t had the time since long. A long trip means to me also, to capture many impressions and surprises.

There were the workers at the columns of the electric power line waving their arms to greet me – far away from Hurghada, in the middle of nowhere. The drivers of the forty-ton lorries passed by me with a decent space, horning and waiving.

But something else attracted my attention: about five meters away from the road, I saw something small, unusual in the sand. White ribbons where flapping in the wind… I cycled on, yet after some meters I stopped and went back. I put my bicycle on the ground and after few steps, I reached…

… the memorial. Jakob, 22 years old, died here on August 12, 2010, in a car accident. The flapping ribbons carried greetings in German, English, French and Arabic. I was deeply touched.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My unspoilt world

When I was a child, I didn’t want to grow up. I simply didn’t like what adults did. They spoke about love and friendship and that we children shouldn’t brawl. However, at the same time did I realize that adults argued, lied and cheated. I saw war and violence.

I lived on in an ideal world where human beings were honest and kept their promises. In spite of my inner resistance, I eventually grew up. So I fit myself with a thick, transparent glass cover and pretended to live in a perfect world. Yet alas, I lacked power and energy to defend my ideal world and so it happened repeatedly that something penetrated from outside through the glass cover and my unspoilt world got a crack, a fracture, a dent.

I read books about history and fates and tragedies and was unable to conceive that all this was possible. TV news showed pictures of the unconceivable... while I preferred to dream of liberty, equality and equity.

Protected by my glass cover, I stepped out into the adult’s world. There, where disputes, lies, poverty, power struggles and wars reflected reality. I walked on although my perfect world started to get damaged by what I saw. My unspoilt world gradually became smaller.

During the last couple of months, my thick, transparent glass cover burst. My perfect world of tolerance, respect and acceptance has fallen apart. What remains is only a tiny grain – which I keep in a place, where no-one can get hold of it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dark night in Egypt

Two days after the dreadful happenings in Cairo, I’ve tried to get an idea about it. It’s hard to find words for this nightmare, but nevertheless, I want to inform you. What happened on Sunday night is equal to the attacks on Copts in New Year’s Eve in Alexandria (Objective: Coptic Churches) and the so-called “battle of the camel” at the beginning of the uprising in February.

Obviously, the Western media are presenting the occurrences as a sectarian strife between Christians and Muslims. That’s superficial. The Egyptian State Television reported that Copts were attacking the military and called for a civil war!!!! State TV employees have meanwhile distanced themselves from their employer. Too late, it’s done.

I watched a number of videos and read several blogs and eye witnesses‘ accounts. They all reflect the same: protesters were attacked by plain clothed men and the military brutally cracked them down. Army cars drove zigzagging into the crowd and deadly crushed them. A video shows how a single man is beaten up by several dozens of soldiers. The soldiers are dragging the inanimate body along the street until another plain clothed man takes it up and wants to carry it away. Thereby, he gets beaten by the soldiers as well. Another video shows the gathering of the demonstrators and the beginning of their peaceful march. Only a couple of meters later do they get greeted by a cordon of armed plain clothed men and get attacked. Eye witnesses report that soldiers lead groups chanting “Where are you Christians, this is Islam!” Some dead bodies were reportedly just dumped into the Nile by soldiers.

The Supreme Counsel of the Armed Forces has ordered an investigation. That’s nice. Some culprits will be found – mainly low ranking state employees, some thugs maybe too – and the truth will be hushed up, kept secret.

And who is behind all? History will unveil it, yet until then, Egypt will have to go through a lot of suffering. It’s unbelievable for me to see how unfit and helpless this country is being governed at present. I repeatedly ask myself (and not only I do that!) if all this does not happen intentionally.

The uprising, almost affectionately called „Arab spring“, has turned into a gloomy autumn.

PS: I attach neither videos nor links, they can be easily found in internet. Those who want to know more may contact me.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Copts again

All day long, I did not have the opportunity to read any online news. Only shortly before midnight, a friend told me if I knew what was happening in the country. No…?

Al Masry Al-Youm has established a live-ticker: according to eye-witnesses there were again thugs that have attacked demonstrators (this time Copts who were demonstrating against their omnipresent repression and discrimination as well as for the reconstruction of the recently destroyed church in Aswan). After midnight, the thugs even began to attack a Coptic hospital and tried to destroy shops owned by Cops. Further according to eye-witnesses, soldiers were assaulted while trying to protect demonstrators. That’s Cairo. Similar events are happening in Alexandria and other governorates.

At least, politicians realize: behind these attacks is someone who wishes to spread chaos. It does not remind only me to the infamous “camel battle” in February: it’s a planned massacre. Egypt should break apart.

And again, again and once more: how is this possible? Why are neither the police nor the military able to avoid such a slaughter? Or are they just not willing? Who is behind these attacks? The Copts themselves? The remnants of the old regime? The Muslim Brotherhood? The Islamists? Why does the secret service not have a hint of the planned strike?

24 dead and more than 200 persons injured (01.35am); there’s a curfew starting at 2am. Elections are coming soon… for what else do we have to prepare ourselves?

Friday, October 7, 2011


Why is there so much traffic, today of all days? At 10 am? The taxis and the microbuses, the lorries and the private cars, all mixed up, moving on painfully slow? I would like to shout at the taxi driver: speed up, hurry on!

I rush out, leave the taxi behind me, cross the jammed street and only now do I realize that something is wrong: microbuses are standing crosswise in the street. Why is that?

Two microbuses are blocking the street, a deafening chorus of horns and shouting men everywhere. I am looking for my taxi driver and give him a banknote – it’s not worth waiting for me, this will take longer.

A group of men is standing in the shadow of the Egyptian Products store and is discussing hot-headedly and aloud. Gradually, I realize what’s going on: the minibus drivers are complaining. Now of all days, when I … They are complaining about their miserable salary and standard of living and many other issues. A young man is trying to guide the traffic through the crowd and the blocking minibuses, the car drivers are angry. So are the bus drivers. Some police men are listening to the complaints. The knot of people is increasing, moving from right to left and left to right along the street, carefully staying in the shadow of the old fashioned, dusty department store.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

New Mobilephone Numbers

Originally, I did not want to write about this subject – not interesting enough I thought. Yet, in Egypt everything is being done in such a complicated way that even the simplest issue turns out to be worth mentioning.

According to the NTRA (National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority), Egypt accounts for 74 million mobile users. Now, the NTRA has decided to replace the numbering plan due to the number range limitation.

That’s evident. However, the introduced system seems to be complicated and the related communication is confusing. There are three mobile phone providers: Vodafone, Etisalat and Mobinil. All numbers will get one digit more and change as follows:

  • 010 will be 0100
  • 016 will be 0106
  • 019 will be 0109
  • 0151 will be 0101

  • 011 will be 0111
  • 014 will be 0114
  • 0152 will be 0112
  • 0155 will be 0115

  • 012 will be 0122
  • 017 will be 0127
  • 018 will be 0128
  • 0150 will be 0120

The National Regulatory Authority has published a press release on 27 September 2011 according to which the change would start on 29 September (!). A transitional period of four months with both old and new numbers working is planned. However, two days later, the media published the information that the start was postponed until 6 October. The communication authority has a communication problem…

Strangely enough, the mobile phone providers Vodafone, Etisalat and Mobinil don’t deem it necessary to inform their customers by sms. While Vodafone and Etisalat inform about these changes on their homepages, I couldn’t find this issue on Mobinil’s homepage. Communication providers seem to have a small communication problem…

Dear readers, if you have friends or colleagues in Egypt, than start to change the numbers next week, otherwise you will not reach your beloved ones some day!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Like in a movie

Yesterday evening, I took a bus to the fruit and vegetable market in Dahar. The journey lasted an eternity and a bit more:

While wonderful romantic Arabic pop music was playing from the loud speakers, the bus driver determinedly drove through Hurghada’s nocturnal streets. Brightly lit shops, scantily dressed tourists and their half-naked partners stroll in front of shops and cafés, enjoying the mild temperatures and getting dazzled and bewitched by the busy oriental atmosphere or by the dismantling smile of the shop assistants and their language knowledge.

The microbus hurries on, stops here and there because a passengers calls „ala gamb“, because another one on the roadside gives a sign with his arm to get on the bus. The brightly lit row of shops is scurrying past by as in an assembly line, melting together to flashy photos. Some distance further on, there is another view in the cold neon light: old and young, fat and slim, simple men in traditional kaftans and white caps are sitting at shaky wooden tables, sipping tea, playing backgammon and exchanging news. Children are jumping up and down barefoot on the dirty sidewalk, playing, shouting, arguing. Elaborately piled mangoes, grapes, pomegranates, potatoes, tomatoes and onions are waiting for customers in small red and brightly lit stalls.

Three tall, heavy men in traditional clothes climb into the bus. They hardly manage to squeeze through the seats, jolting the other passengers while chatting loudly. The fattest of them is narrating all kind of tales of which I can catch some words only… until a young passenger exclaims: you’re a liar! The passengers are grinning and I can hardly withhold laughing out loudly while the other one continues shouting: you’re a liar! You’re a liar! Somewhere, the tall fat man and his friends get off the bus, banging his head on the door, babbling and gabbling on while walking away from the bus.

The movie goes on: outside of the window pane, old, skinny men are sitting cross-legged outside a mosque, smoking shisha, sternly glancing onto the street, into the bus, out into the nowhere. They are always sitting here: in the day, at night, in the morning, in the evening… waiting for work or something else that will never come.

More shops, furniture, cars, tools, fire extinguishers, brightly lit, the honking noise and the still romantic Arabic music are mingling with each other into a dream, a movie.

Outside, a bar stops beside the microbus, it’s somehow familiar to me…. No, the other way round: the bus stops beside the bar: terminal stop.

I would miss it. Really, if I ever leave this place, I would miss all that…