Stories about Egypt

Egypt: A revolution betrayed?

Last Thursday, Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi stupefied the Egyptian public Islamist allies and opposition alike with his new decree granting him sweeping powers that practically make him immune to judicial decisions and gives him near absolute power in constitutional matters. At the time of writing, Egypt is roiling with mass pro democracy protests that are spreading with the passing of each day. On November 27, 2012, almost 100,000 protesters flocked to Egypt’s iconic Tahrir Square to protest against Morsi’s new decree, which they call a ‘power grab’ and led the Nobel Laureate Opposition leader, Al Baradei to pronounce Morsi as Egypt’s New Pharaoh. The protest sit-in at Tahrir ...

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Democracy in Egypt

Prior to Mohammed Morsi’s win, the Egyptian Army staged many coups. The dissolution of the Egyptian parliament, consisting of elected leaders, who had come to power after an extensive voting process spanning three months, was by far the most effective one yet. One might ask why this brash manipulation of the electoral process occurred on the military’s part. The answer to this lies in analysing the post-run-off situation in Egypt in terms of power, as perceived by the military. President Morsi’s inauguration, perhaps, will mean disaster for the old elite; the old guard, the Edmund Burkes of Egypt and the military ...

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Can Pakistan witness an Egyptian style revolution?

Mohamed Bouazizi was a Tunisian street vendor, who poured fuel over and set himself ablaze in an elegant double-storey building with arched, azure shutters. The hard-scrabble loitered in the hospital for a few hours before breathing his last breath. His self-immolation became a catalyst for the Tunisian revolution. Khalid Mehboob, a depressed and dejected father of six, jobless and poor, self-immolated himself outside Karachi Press Club. Unlike Tunisia, normal life sustained in Pakistan. According to the annual Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), 12,580 people were killed all across Pakistan in 2010. Thousands of innocents fall prey to sectarianism, ethnocentrism, drone attacks, ...

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Welcome to the “Islamic awakening” in Egypt

In a bid to save Egypt from further turmoil, the results of the final runoff vote for the presidential poll were declared in favour of Mohamed Mursi Eissa al-Ayat, of the Muslim Brotherhood. Mursi won with 13,230,131 votes against Shafiq’s 12,347,380. The election, in which more than 50 million voters were eligible to cast their ballot, saw a 51.8% turnout. For quite some time there was a deadlock between the two candidates with the world media hinting towards further chaos in the country. The Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters were accusing the military establishment for holding off the results in a ...

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The financial reality of a democratic Egypt

The School of Oriental and African Studies London, recently published a paper by Dr Adam Hanieh, (Hanieh is originally from Palestine, currently teaching at SOAS), in which he shed some very needed light on the Arab Spring and particularly on the real socio-economic situation of Egypt. Dr Hanieh points out that there were some concrete realities, relating to the socio-economic policies of Mubarak’s regime, which forced the bulk of Egyptians on to the streets to demonstrate their anger and frustration. For example, the inflation rate was greater than 10 per cent, and it had risen to more than 20% for food products. According ...

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Nudity, Niqab and the illusion of ‘free choice’

Today, I read what are possibly the most beautiful opening words of any essay or opinion piece ever. It went like this:  “When a woman is the sum total of her headscarf and hymen – that is, what’s on her head and what is between her legs – then nakedness and sex become weapons of political resistance.” This comes from a powerful essay by Mona Eltahawy in the Guardian, called “Egypt’s Naked Blogger is a Bomb Aimed at the Patriarchs in Our Mind” (Eltahawy was recently sexually assaulted and beaten by police in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, her left hand and right ...

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Pakistan: Where life can be a blast

The ‘enlightened moderation’ mantra from the Musharraf era prompted Pakistan’s oft-quoted ‘soft image.’ Seen as a much-needed leap beyond archetypal vistas of K-2 and the Lahore Fort (think 1970s photographs issued by PIA and the Ministry of Tourism), well-meant consultants were hired for the purpose of promoting a progressive image for the country—or at least, that’s what the aim was in flying out designers and models to put on fashion shows at Pakistani Consulates around the world. One can almost imagine spectators gawking: “Gosh, they have women in their country who don’t wear a burka and aren’t getting stoned for ...

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Arab Spring: What now?

The buzzword in the Arab world nowadays is ‘change’. There has been a shift from criticising the Israel-Palestinian issue to protesting against internal state hegemony. The Arab Spring is not over yet. Tahrir square is protesting again. Tunisia and Libya are both unsettled and there are ever more crackdowns across Syria. King Hamad of Bahrain will be addressing his nation today. And, women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) have taken to the wheels. Historically, this change, among others, was due. Socio-economic development in the region and the unjust polarisation of economic wealth across the spectrum, in the Gulf ...

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Palestine, behind the Osama smokescreen

The Bin Laden killing has gripped the global media and has been a source of relief, as well as misery, for many people around the world. Nevertheless, the practical impact of his killing on international terrorist activities and the war against terror is yet to be seen. This event, however, has inadvertently served as a smoke screen for more substantive events in the Middle East, specifically Palestine. Recently, Fatah and Hamas, the two groups representing the Palestinians, came together in an agreement to end the tensions between them and to formulate a plan for government formation. The history of these two ...

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Will Bahrain’s sectarian divide impact Pakistan?

Mubarak’s exit was the start of the revolution, not the end. Egyptian protestors gathered after Friday prayers last week, to remind the military that it is them (the people) who had brought down the Mubarak regime. Even though they may have vacated Tahrir Square, the message was that they would not settle for anything less than their original demands. Commentators have attempted to establish whether similar conditions exist in Pakistan for a revolution, drawing parallels and identifying differences. But if comparisons must be drawn then the the ongoing protests in Bahrain are perhaps of greater relevance for Pakistan than events in Egypt. What Bahrain learned from Egypt The ...

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