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.