Thursday, April 26, 2012

Next slap into the face

The (Islamist dominated) parliament has submitted a law in order to avoid that any representative of the old regime may become the next Egyptian President. This disenfranchisement law was duly approved and published by the SCAF.

Ahmed Shafiq – Mubarak’s last Vice-President after his stepping back, long-standing minister and ex-air force commander – was out of race.

Yet to give up was not an option for Shafiq and yesterday, he appealed this decision. And what a surprise: the high court approved his appeal today and that’s why Shafiq may run for presidency! The court did not give any reasons for its decision – rumours say that the court wanted to avoid further appeals and a delay in the elections.

What a joke!

After Omar Suleiman got out of the race, the SCAF has again “his” candidate. He has decade-long military experience, is faithful to the old regime and no Islamist. The Islamists will be furious. They cannot even agree for a single common candidate to support. Their own “alternative” candidate Mohamed Mursi has little chances. And the one that unites sympathy from Islamists, liberals and old regime loyalist – Abuel Fatouh, ex-Muslim brother – might lose those voices on Shafiq. Same might happen to Amr Moussa.

It seems, by the way, that today’s court decision might put into question the constituency of the presidential elections.

I wonder with what idea (not if!) the Islamists will come up next?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Khamasin – Sandstorm

Some days ago, a dreadful sandstorm blew across Egypt. On Monday over the Delta and Cairo, on Wednesday evening it reached Hurghada. I had to go out late and was almost carried away by the storm. I protected my head with some books.

The Khamasin („fifty“) normally blows in March or April around the Coptic Easter (which was celebrated last weekend) over North Africa and the Levant. The name “fifty” is derived from the fact that this hot wind blows for about three or four days within a period of 50 days after the spring equinox. The timing was perfect this year. After the Khamasin, there is rain on the Mediterranean coast and in the Delta and so all the dust will be washed away. However, of course not here in the South – dust and sand remain there, where it settled down. Once the storm is over, summer comes.

The visibility was maximum 200 m on Wednesday and Thursday and it was rather uncomfortable outside, if not dangerous. The fine red dust makes breathing difficult and astmathics suffer especially. The dust penetrates even finest cracks and covers everything with a thin layer inside buildings and flats. One wishes to dust and clean – but that is complete nonsense: ten minutes later, everything is again covered with dust. The floor has to remain slippery, the laundry unwashed, furniture and all other contents remain coatedJ. Just have to wait…

Today, the wind is still in storm force, but since yesterday morning, the sky is again light blue, the dark blue sea and the golden islands outside as well as the dark shining mountains in the desert can be discerned clearly from the horizon.

On Wednesday evening, I was lucky: a taxi driver saw me emerging from a side street and fighting against the storm. He waited for me on the main road. He knew me: He was the one who brought me to the side street one and half an hour before.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Plagues in the country of the Pharaohs

Egypt is suffering from all kind of plagues. One of them is the bird flu which took its toll also this year. About two months ago, the foot and mouth disease appeared and so far, around 13’000 cattle (according to official figures) have died. Especially poorer farmers are badly struck because they lose all their belongings and source of income. Compensation was promised – yet if those concerned will ever receive it???

Those among you who have seen how (the poor) people live here may imagine the hygienic standards among birds and cattle. It’s indescribable. I already dread to walk past by the butchers’ where raw and bloody meat together with the cattle’s tail is hanging down… When two years ago the bird flu reached its peak, it was forbidden to sell life poultry. Last year, those sales booths reappeared here and there and now they are once more part of the daily life.

However, Egypt is suffering from other plagues. For months already, people are fighting about gas. Most households use gas containers for cooking and this important good has been rare for months. Artificially rare, because it is stockpiled and sold at high prices to those who can afford it. The big mass of poor go away empty-handed. Of course, emotions explode also over a gas container and fights, stabbings and deaths occur.

Now, a new plague hits the well-offs as well and – yes! – tourism too. Likewise, for months, motor fuel has been scarce. In the news it was reported already weeks ago that drivers queue over several kilometres and for hours in order to get some of the sought-after fuel. The situation is getting worse: in Hurghada too, the queues are growing steadily in length and breadth (two lanes). Waiting for five hours is no exception anymore! Pushing and shoving (such wise guys are everywhere) have erupted not only in bad fights but even in a death. One of my students told me that she could not come to our lesson next week if she couldn’t find any fuel quickly. Soon, even the tourist buses will not be able to fill up their tanks. In the Alps, tourists are blocked because of the danger of avalanches; in Egypt because of fuel shortage?

What’s the reason? Smuggling is one. Another is: tactics and chicanery. To close people’s throats until they beg on their knees: we want the old regime back! Since: without fuel no food, no wheat for the bread and this in a country that relies on food imports for 60% of the food consumed!!!

When I was on my way to El Quesir on Sunday, the driver told me: the „feloul“ (members of the old regime) make drivers of the tank wagons two proposals: a) twice the money the fuel is worth and the fuel will be dumped in the desert or b) a bullet in his hand and the fuel will be dumped in the desert as well. Weeks ago, a video on Youtube was showing a lake of fuel in the desert behind Hurghada’s airport.

As always – remember: we are still living in the old regime, a revolution never happened – soon a powerful person will arise and thanks to his capabilities all these problems will disappear again.

But before that, the SCAF has to finish with the Islamists and all the other undesired figures. This will not take long because the first ones are wearing themselves out and the others are got out of the way by so-called legal measures. Then, the way is cleared for a representative of the old regime. Finally, calmness will come again.

Or just not – depending on ones’ point of view.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Another slap in the face

Yes, I’m still alive. The food poisoning in February took a lot out of me and has dissolved my energy thoroughly. Furthermore, the events in Egypt come so thick and fast that I can hardly keep up with arranging my ideas.
The latest slap in the Egyptian’s face and their revolution (this expression does not really fit any more) is that Mubarak’s ex Vice-President and ex-spy chief Omar Suleiman announced his participation in the presidential elections. This guy is responsible for the most brutal tortures and its deathly consequences, yet he does neither get accused nor disqualified. Why? Because he is supported by the SCAF. And who knows maybe even by the USA…
Further presidential candidates are announced by the hour and disqualified by the court in charge for mysterious reasons. The Salafists’ presidential hopeful (the ultra conservatives – an especially “religious” one) got the chop because his mother was allegedly a US citizen (only those may become president whose parents or partners have only the Egyptian citizenship). His fans don’t want to believe that this guy lied and are experiencing a complot by the USA. El Baradei, the most famous presidential hopeful in the West, gave up by himself. Ayman Nour (a liberal) was released from prison and pardoned by the SCAF only some days ago, yet today he was disqualified with the justification that he fist had to appeal the accusations. The Muslim brothers already guarded themselves against a possible disqualification: after having stated during the past 12 months, they would not nominate a presidential hopeful, they nominated their financial manager (who was also released from prison and pardoned by the SCAF). The reaction across parties and social classes was bleak horror and they realised: even the Muslim brothers are liars. Yesterday, they added another nomination: in case that their candidate Khairat El-Shater would get disqualified, they nominated a second candidate. Months ago, they excluded one of their leaders from their organization exactly because he was running for the presidency. Amr Moussa, ex-President of the Arab League is insinuated to have family relations to Israel…. (sic!)

Everything clear? No?

Yes: there are fights going on behind the scene: