Tag Archives: middle-east

Al Jazeera Journalist Fahmy Suing Al Jazeera for “negligence” in Egypt Detention

A more detailed explanation by Fahmy on his intention to sue Al Jazeera can be found in the following link: http://www.theguardian.com/media/video/2015/may/11/al-jazeera-journalist-mohamed-fahmy-sue-network-negligence-egypt-video

Al Jazeera journalist, Mohamed Fahmy, filed a lawsuit against Al Jazeera seeking 100m Canadian dollars for “epic negligence” in its conduct towards him. He argued that it was partially responsible for his arrest and imprisonment in Egypt. Last June, Fahmy, along with two other Al Jazeera journalists were jailed on charges of helping the Muslim Brotherhood, which is deemed a terrorist group, and for spreading false news.

Fahmy’s criticism of Al Jazeera is twofold. Firstly, he accuses the network of failing to protect the journalists against the threat of arrest. They failed to provide the English channel’s staff with sufficient security, to clarify to Egyptian officials that it was different from the Arabic channels, and to provide the required press passes and equipment permits. Secondly, he accuses the network of further endangering the journalists when they were seized. The Arabic Al Jazeera channel, along with its Egyptian affiliate, Mubasher Misr, was highly biased and acted as the mouthpiece of Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Fahmy argues that the Qatari-based network appeared more concerned with waging a media war against Egypt, which put its journalists in greater harms way.

Although not enough about his case has been made clear to the public, it does raise some important questions. To what extent is Fahmy purging the Egyptian government and authorities of his wrongful arrest and imprisonment? And to what end? In other words, how genuine is his case against Al Jazeera? Is it borne out of a genuine belief of neglect by the network, or out of self interest? It could be that this case is a means to gain compensation for his being jailed or even to win favor with the Egyptian government during his trial.

Despite my current skepticism about his intentions, there is truth to his accusations against the Arabic Al Jazeera channels. Many of its journalists expressed concern and criticism to the network over its increasing bias in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, many resigned for that reason. Moreover, the network did behave negligently with its staff. It put its journalists at risk by failing to provide them with appropriate paperwork. For example, Peter Greste – one of the imprisoned Al Jazeera journalists – along with other visiting correspondents were told to enter Egypt on tourist visas and to work without accreditation. Moreover, the network failed to renew many of the the resident staffers’ accreditations, which were approaching their expiration, including those of the jailed journalists.

The thought I’m left with now is that while Egyptian officials and the judiciary responded unnecessarily harshly with the Al Jazeera journalists, the arrests were not completely unjustified. It is interesting that none of the facts about the AJ staff illegally working in Egypt were made public in western media until now. Any such claims in Egyptian media were viewed by the west as attempts by Egyptian outlets to justify an oppressive system, thereby failing to recognize the complexity of the matter. What is even more baffling to me is how little Fahmy’s lawsuit is being discussed right now! It is such a dramatic and unprecedented turn of events that it deserves greater media attention than it is getting.

Sources:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-32694739

http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/feb/20/mohamed-fahmy-al-jazeera-protecting-journalists-cairo-agenda

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Egyptian Minister of Justice Resigns Over Elitist Remarks

The Egyptian Minister of Justice, Mahfouz Saber, heeded to public opinion and decided to resign after making elitist remarks that caused public uproar. In a TV interview, Saber said that the children of garbage men could not grow up to become judges, as they were not raised in the proper environment. These comments were made after the interviewer asked Saber whether there was favoritism in the appointment of judges. He responded by saying that the process was governed by objective standards. However, when the interviewer pushed Saber further and asked him whether “the son of a sanitation worker could be made a judge?”, his response was

“Let’s not go too far. With all due respect to cleaners and those above or beneath them, a judge must hail from an appropriate environment… Thanks are due to a cleaner who raises and educates his children, but there are other jobs that they can take.”

In response to his comments, the Egyptian public responded in a frenzy, denouncing them as contrary to the fundamental principles of justice. Mohamed ElBaradei, the former Vice President, noted that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights claims that everyone has “the right to equal access to public service in his country”. Moreover, many have pointed to the fact that Egypt’s constitution states that no one can be discriminated against based on class or gender.

While on the one hand, there is no doubt that his comments are normatively unjust and that a person who holds such views is not qualified to hold the position of the Minister of Justice, some found his comments to be painful for being a realistic depiction of the way the system works in Egypt. While we may not agree with Saber from a normative perspective, it is true that the son of a garbage man in Egypt cannot become a judge. Therefore the issue is a structural one and it cannot be solved simply by replacing the face of the Minister of Justice. True change will only be achieved if structural changes are achieved and the classist system in Egypt is eroded. This means that everyone must be granted the right to equality of opportunity in all elements of society and career paths must be government by meritocratic rather than patrimonial principles.

Sources:

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/05/150511235911171.html

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-32688825

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Pro-Morsi protesters victimising themselves to gain advantage

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“Presidential aide for political affairs Mostafa Hegazi has accused the Islamist supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi of intentionally victimising themselves in order to gain a negotiation advantage. “

“The Egyptian state will never accept the shedding of Egyptian blood, regardless of political affiliations, but it also will not stand silent in the face of blackmail and terrorism of its citizens”

“It is not an exaggeration to say that what is going on now is a war of terrorism against [Egyptian] society. No political disagreement can be solved with violence,” Hegazi said.

Full article: http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/77655.aspx

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Ziad Akl: The Sisi Propaganda

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Excellent article by Ziad Akl

“The wave of Al-Sisi’s glorification and army reverence must make us always aware of a set of questions. To whom is the army accountable now? How could the army’s statements and information be verified from now on? The army-media-intellectuals alliance, would that ever influence how objectively different events are seen and covered?”

“Al-Sisi has not shown himself as a power-hungry General so far, but the unnecessary propaganda unfortunately does not help to support this idea. Those who are not pro-Sisi are not necessarily pro-Brotherhood. It must be understood that a middle ground does exist between both poles and there are plenty of Egyptians who are not represented on either side of the struggle, not because they don’t want the army to fight terrorism, but because they want the army to remain an institution.”

Read the full article here: http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2013/07/27/the-sisi-propaganda/

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The Western Media War Against the Egyptian Army

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I was extremely disturbed by the level of bias that the western media has, as they clearly give more weight to the perspectives of and the accusations made by the Muslim Brotherhood than the official statements made by the ministry of interior. Here are a couple of examples to demonstrate by point:

Huffington Post: Egypt Clashes: At Least 38 Morsi Supporters Killed

BBC News: Egypt crisis: ‘Scores killed’ at Cairo protest

The New York Times: Scores of Demonstrators Killed in Egypt

The Washington Post: Dozens killed as Egyptian military fires on demonstrators at Morsi rally

The last one by The Washington Post being the most alarming, as its title is not only misleading, it is completely inaccurate as it lacks hard evidence for making this assertion. All three of these articles either give less weight to or altogether disregard the following points about the clashes earlier this morning:

  • The ministry of interior said that the armed forces only used tear gas and denied using live ammunition.
  • They also claimed that the pro-Morsi protestors acted provocatively and initiated the violence to demonize the army and shake its popularity to gain sympathy.
  • The protests were no longer peaceful. The protestors intercepted traffic and blocked a vital road. They set tires on fire. They committed acts of vandalism such as destroying the sidewalk and using it’s stones to build a defensive wall. They clashed with residence of a nearby districts and used live ammunition against them, killing many.
  • There were concerns that as they headed to the 6 October bridge, the bridge would not sustain the pressure and would collapse. Against police warnings and despite the use of teargas against them, the protestors continued to advance.
  • Dozens of officers were also shot and many suffer from fatal conditions.
  • There is NO evidence that the security forces shot at the protestors. The interior ministry claimed that the protestors were killed in violent clashes between them and the residents of the nearby district.

This is not to say that I am unsympathetic to the dozens killed in the clashes (there are disputes over exact figures). This is not true at all. I am grief-stricken at the escalation of violence in Egypt. I am only shedding light onto the blatant western media bias that I have noticed. And this is not to say that a bias does not exist in Arabic and Egyptian state news channels. Because there is.

On a final note, I want to say this. There is a saying in Egypt that I hold close to my heart: “Kol el dam haram”. This roughly translates as “All bloodshed is a sin/immoral”. We are all children of Egypt, and I send my deepest condolences to the families of those killed.

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Wrong move General Sisi

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The Egyptian minister of defence General Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi has called for massive demonstration on Friday July 26, 2013 to give him the mandate to confront violence and terrorism. Up until this point I have held a lot of respect for General Sisi, who bowed to the demand of millions of anti-Morsi protestors by removing the tyrannical president and has since then remained clear of the political scene as promised. Although I continue to respect him, I have begun to doubt his judgement. General Sisi is risking the safety of the anti-Morsi camp by asking for them to protest on the same day that the Morsi supporters are planning a huge demonstration.

It is indisputable that the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is a violent group. Since Morsi’s removal from power, their rhetoric has been disturbingly violent in nature as they have vowed to fight what they consider to be a military coup with their blood and as their leaders have rallied them to commit jihad in the name of protecting democracy. Since then, there have been many deaths of both army soldiers and MB members. The MB has been accused of killing the soldiers and even of killing their own protestors to frame it on the army and portray them as brutal against peaceful protestors. Whether or not this is true, (and knowing the radical nature of the MB, it may very well be) the army now seeks to end the violence on the streets.

Nevertheless, despite the fact that the MB does poes a threat to national security and does need to be dealt with, this is not the way to do it. It is one thing to crack down on the violent members of the MB that pose a threat to national security. It’s a whole other thing to request the mandate of the people through a demonstration to do so. General Sisi’s declaration has been perceived as a declaration or instigation of civil war by the Muslim Brotherhood. Rather than encouraging reconciliation, this move is deepening the divide in Egypt and creating volatile conditions where the possibility of a civil war is not as far-fetched anymore. Especially since the MB will perceive this declaration as a threat to their survival as a group, and considering their radical nature, they will respond violently.

I understand that attempts at reconciliation with the MB are practically hopeless because they have laid down impractical preconditions for dialogue that lack any sort of pragmatism, such as: the reinstatement of Morsi as president, the recognition that the removal of Morsi was a military coup and the apology of the military for the violence against the pro-Mosri protests among other things. Moreover, they have refused invitations to be included in the interm government. Nevertheless, bringing the anti- and pro-Morsi protests onto the streets at the same time during such a tense period is a provocative move that can only end in bloodshed.

It is clear that we no longer just need a roadmap for democracy in Egypt, we need a roadmap to reunite Egyptians once again.

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