Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year

Ending the Silent War in Egypt

By: Hala Mustafa*

While much attention has been paid to the violent attacks and intimidation directed at the opposition during Egypt's recent parliamentary elections, the involvement of the country's security forces in political life is not limited to this sort of visible confrontation.

The real threat of Egypt's state security apparatus, as in many other Middle Eastern states, is that it continues to secretly manipulate the entire political system.

American and domestic efforts to promote political reform in the region will achieve only cosmetic changes, of the kind we've seen so far, unless this clandestine chokehold is broken.

In Egypt, it is no secret that the security services are deeply involved in the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), selecting high-level officials and most of the party's candidates for elections. As a result, in the recent parliamentary elections, many official NDP candidates were defeated by party dissidents who ran as independent candidates.

Nominees of the secret police, it turns out, aren't popular with voters.Even the NDP Policies Committee -- established three years ago as the party's vehicle for reform -- could not escape the clutches of the security services, which promoted a group of phony reformers to positions of influence and visibility in a false response to America's call for political change.

Meanwhile, genuine liberal voices were excluded, making reform from within impossible. Such practices are not limited to the highest ranks of the party: Recruitment for all positions is based on loyalty to security authorities rather than merit, qualifications, political background or experience.

The media are subjected to the same control. Even private, independent papers are held hostage to the security services, which have the power to license and shut down any newspaper and which exercise similar control over the granting of licenses to journalists.

The same goes for TV stations -- including al-Hurra, the U.S.-sponsored satellite channel, which is supposed to be providing uncensored news from an American point of view.

From the beginning, al-Hurra's operation in Egypt was subject to the covert control of the security services, a fact that is not always apparent to those who oversee the station from Washington. The services have close ties to some of the station's directors and handpick many correspondents.

They even have final say over which guests appear on programs. As a result, anyone who has paid careful attention to the tone and opinions of the regular programming will notice that liberal, progressive, open-minded views are presented almost apologetically.

While al-Hurra is supposed to be a vibrant, fresh forum for freedom, it has failed to provide a real space for balanced views, and so it has been incapable of competing with the "Islamic" al-Jazeera and "pan-Arabist" al-Arabiya channels.

Unless the security services are reined in, real political change and efforts to implement "reform from within" will continue to be blocked in Egypt and across the Middle East.

The enlightened political elite will remain powerless, individuals who can make genuine contributions will be systematically targeted, moderate groups and trends will continue to be excluded, and most citizens will remain absent from political life (as was unfortunately demonstrated in the recent elections, in which the overwhelming majority of Egyptians did not vote).

In a word, the political arena will still echo only one voice.

The "silent war" waged by the security services will keep Egypt stuck at square one, caught between the closed, security-obsessed regime and the Islamic fundamentalists. Is that the future we desire?
* Editor of Al-Ahram’s quarterly journal al-Dimuqratia (Democracy).
This article was published in "The Washington Post"

Egyptian Semi-Official Newspaper : Refugees Killed Themselves

Just like in every incident against the Copts, the Egyptian media- sadly- is misleading the public and claims that the death of over 20 Sudanese refugees was due to a stampede and not because of police brutality!!

Al Ahram, front page, December 31, 2005

بادر اللاجئون بالاعتداء علي قوات الأمن وقذفها باسطوانات البوتاجاز الصغيرة والآلات والمتعلقات الخاصة بهم‏,‏ وتداخلهم في أمواج بشرية لمواصلة اعتدائهم علي قوات الشرطة‏,‏ مما أسفر عن مصرع عشرة معتصمين دهسا واختناقا تحت أقدام الجموع الغفيرة من اللاجئين

The refugees began attacking the security forces and threw small gas cylinders and belongings at them, and then they were woven into masses to continue their attacks against the police forces, which resulted in the death of ten strikers who were trampled and suffocated in a stampede under the multitude of refugees

Egypt 'must probe Cairo violence'

Egypt 'must probe Cairo violence'

Egypt: Investigate Police for Sudanese Deaths

Twenty Migrants Killed in Raid
President Husni Mubarak should urgently appoint an independent commission to investigate the use of force by police against Sudanese migrants demonstrating in a makeshift camp in Mohandiseen, Cairo, Human Rights Watch said today. At least 20 persons reportedly died.

Given Egypt’s terrible record of police brutality, an independent investigation is absolutely necessary to assess responsibility and punish those responsible.

Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East & North Africa division
"The blood is still on the sidewalks, and already the government is blaming the Sudanese refugees and migrants" said Stork

The Sudanese migrants have been protesting outside the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees since September 29 seeking to be relocated to other countries. The evident planning of the police operation to clear the park in Mohandiseen suggested that the police acted on the basis of a high-level policy decision. Human Rights Watch called for an investigation that looked at all levels of the police command, including the role of Interior Minister Habib al-`Adli.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Egyptian Police Kill 10 Sudanese in Cairo

Sudanese refugees and migrants stand defiantly as Egyptian security troops fire water cannons on them

By BEN CURTIS, Associated Press Writer

CAIRO, Egypt - Egyptian police fired water cannons on Sudanese war refugees and beat them with sticks Friday as they tried to dismantle a camp in a city park where the refugees have squatted for months. Ten Sudanese, including elderly people and children, were killed, the government said.

Hundreds of Sudanese have been living in the park since September to protest the U.N. refugee agency's refusal to consider them for refugee status. They want to be resettled in a third country, such as the United States or Britain, rather than go home after a peace deal ended the 21-year-long civil war in Sudan.

Thousands of security forces moved in before midnight and closed off the area around the city park where the camp had been set up near the refugee agency.

Police fired water cannons at the protesters, then invaded the park when the Sudanese still refused to leave

Police beat the unarmed migrants with batons, continuing to hit them even as they were being dragged to government buses waiting to take them away. One officer carried a girl of about 3 or 4 years old who was unconscious. An ambulance worker said the girl was dead.

Thirty migrants, mostly elderly people and children, were wounded and transferred to a nearby hospital, where 10 of them died, the ministry said. Twenty-three policemen were also wounded.

The Interior Ministry blamed the violence on the protesters.



Advocates for Coptic Christians are charging the State Department with whitewashing charges that hard-line Muslims at the U.S. Embassy in Egypt are denying visas for religious reasons.
"They have their heads in the sand and their ears closed to a disturbing problem," said the Rev. Keith Roderick, head of the Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights.

He was responding to the State Department's vigorous efforts to dispute The Post's report on Monday that 15 to 20 employees at the Cairo embassy's consular section were being investigated because of the bias charges.

The Post revealed that at a Dec. 8 meeting, senior State Department officials were presented with affidavits of Copts. The complaints alleged that Islamist posters were on display in the embassy — including one that depicted a U.S. supporter of the Hamas terrorist group.

A day after The Post's story, U.S. officials in Cairo took reporters from other papers on a tour of the embassy to deny the posters were on display. Yesterday, State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said, "Our embassy in Cairo looked into the complaints and found no basis for any allegation that the [visa] decisions were made on any basis other than U.S. law and regulations." Coptic Christians have long complained of religious discrimination.

Magdi Khalil, executive editor of Watani International, a Coptic newspaper in Egypt, said yesterday he has received "hundreds of complaints" about discrimination against Copts at the embassy.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Amro Khalid gets a visa to the US !

According to El Fagr Egyptian Newspaper:

Egyptian Intellectuals warn the American Ambassador against admitting another Omar Abdel Rahman into the USA:


During a dinner that hosted a large number of Egyptian intellectuals including Tarek Heggy, Richard Downey the American Ambassador to Cairo admitted that he has granted a US visa to Amro Khalid from the American Embassy in Cairo. Some of the attendants objected and stated that this might repeat the tragedy of the Unites States with Omar Abdel Rahman and Osama Bin Ladin, but the American Ambassador described Amro Khalid as a moderate preacher and asserted that dialogue with these moderates is inevitable .

Lies of the NY times reporter

Images promoting Islam at the Arabic section of the Department of State's Bureau of International Information website

The NY Times' ABEER ALLAM says there are "No Posters From Islamists in U.S. Mission" and falsely claims that ( the only posters were those of the black-robed Coptic Christian pope, Shenuda III, and Santa Claus)

Ms. Allam is not telling the truth, and we challenge her to publish the image of Pope Shenouda she claimed to be posted at the embassy

In fact, there are no posters of Pope Shenouda at the embassy, unless she considers a small 2x3 image placed at one employee's desk as reported by the NY Sun to be a poster, and according to visa applicants even the Christmas tree at the embassy is a tree decorated with Islamic symbols such as the crescent.

Posters at the embassy seen by thousands of people over the past few years untill early December of 2005 when complaints were filed read (Islam is a religion of peace) with the image of some American Muslims including "Nihad Awad" from CAIR who was caught on video calling for the support of Hamas

"I am in support of the Hamas movement." - Nihad Awad

Other posters promoted Islam such as ( Islam is the religion of one billion people) , (Islam is the fastest growing religion in America) and some comments made by the grand Imam of Al Azhar indicating Islam as a religion of peace, in addition to poetic stanza praising Islam entitled (Tolerance of Islam)
Two large posters of mosques in the US, one in Arabic and another in English, show many mosques in the US with halos around it indicating holiness
All you have to do is visit this link here from the State Department's Arabic section and tell us what you see:
المساجد في الولايات المتحدة

The reception and security check employees at the embassy are veiled women. The individuals that review applications are veiled women.

There is a mosque at the USAID building, but there are no chapels. And Muslims get between 1.5 to 2 hours a day for prayer break, but non-Muslims don't get the same break.

Ms. Allam, a Muslim correspondent for the NY Times revealed her bias and ugly attitude at the end of her article when she referred to Copts in the US as "Coptic exile groups," as Copts in the US are not exiled.

Monday, December 26, 2005

فضيحة عدم منح تأشيرات لأقباط

فضيحة عدم منح تأشيرات لأقباط
نيويورك بوست
(ترجمة لمقتطفات من مقال منشور اليوم بصحيفة نيويورك بوست)
علمت صحيفة نيويورك بوست أن وزارة الخارجيةَ الأمريكية قد بدأت تحقيقاً حول ما إذا كان هناك دور خفى لمتشددين إسلاميين يعملون في سفارة الولايات المتحدةِ في القاهرة لرفض منح االتأشيراتِ إلى مسيحيين أقباط

ويقوم مسئولون من وزارة الخارجية الأمريكية بالتدقيق فى عمل عدد من المصريين يتراوح ما بين 15 الى 20 موظفا فى قسم التأشيرات بالسفارة بعد أن تلقى مسئولين كبار شكاوى من محامين وهيئات حقوق إنسان بخصوص التمييز ضد الأقباط الذين يتقدمون للحصول على الفيزا الى الولايات المتحدة كما قالت المصادر.

وقالت المصادر ان المئات وربما الآلاف قد تم رفض منحهم التأشيرة بشكل خاطئ

وفى إجتماع مع مسئولين كبار من وزارة الخارجية تم إخبارهم ان هؤلاء الموظفين المسئولين عن مراجعة الاوراق والترجمة أثناء المقابلات يلعبون دورا غير عاديا فى التأثير على تلك العملية التى من الواجب ان يتحكم فيها الأمريكيون.

وهناك شكاوى أخرى ايضا من أن هؤلاء الموظفين يقومون بوضع ملصقات داخل السفارة تروج لأناس يدعمون حركة حماس الارهابية

تعقيب من الأقباط الأحرار
نود ان نتقدم بالشكر لكل من أرسل الينا بوثائق تعضد شكواهم ومازلنا نهيب بالأقباط ان يرسلوا الينا شكاواهم فمثلا:

ان كنت تقدمت للحصول على الفيزا من السفارة الأمريكية بالقاهرة و تعرضت الى معاملة فظة من بعض موظفى السفارة سواء المصريين أو الأجانب
او ان كنت كاهنا وتقدمت للحصول على الفيزا وتم رفضها بدون ابداء الأسباب
اوبالنسبة لعائلات وأسر المتقدمين بطلبات اللجوء فى أمريكا فى حال تم إفشاء اية معلومات او وثائق فى ملفاتكم الى الحكومة المصرية او مباحث أمن الدولة بمصر
أو ان تقدمت بطلب للحصول على وظيفة فى السفارة وتعتقد انه تم تخطيك لكونك مسيحى
، رجاء مراسلتنا ببعض التفاصيل على بريدنا الالكترونى
معلوماتكم ستظل سرية


NY Post

December 26, 2005 -- WASHINGTON — The State Department has launched an investigation into whether hard-line Islamic employees at the U.S Embassy in Egypt are working behind the scenes to deny visas to Coptic Christians, The Post has learned

State Department officials are closely examining 15 to 20 Egyptian employees of the embassy's consular section after top officials received complaints from lawyers and human-rights groups about discriminatory behavior toward the Copts seeking visas to the United States, sources said.

Hundreds, possibly thousands, may have been wrongly denied visas, sources said

In a recent meeting organized by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), top State Department officials were told that these employees, who conduct prescreening interviews and translations, appear to have unusual influence over a process that is supposed to be controlled by Americans.

"This is a widespread problem that we have been aware of for some time. Now, however, there are people stepping forward and are making formal complaints," said Father Keith Roderick, head of the Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights, who attended the meeting.

Among those making complaints to the State Department is a Christian man who was seeking to donate a kidney to an uncle in New Jersey.

He says he was twice told to remove the cross he was wearing if he wanted a visa. He refused and was denied a visa.

Another is a woman who was scheduled to speak at a recent human-rights conference in Washington about what it is like to live in a Muslim-dominated country.

She claimed embassy officials demanded to see her speech.

She and two other Egyptian Copts were denied a visa while Egyptian Muslims were granted visas.

They have asked that their names not be made public for fear of retaliation in Egypt.

There have also been complaints that these employees keep posters in the embassy promoting supporters of the Hamas terror group.

"This should be a concern because if they can influence who they can keep out of the United States, they could also influence who can get in," said Caroline Doss, a Jersey City immigration lawyer who presented State Department officials with affidavits from Coptic Christian clients.

Wolf, who heads a subcommittee that controls the State Department's budget, had no comment because he is conducting a separate probe.
State Department officials wouldn't comment.

For more info: Does The American Embassy In Cairo Discriminate Against Coptic Christians

Christmas 2006

By Rita El Meri
"Click on the image to enlarge"