Sunday, July 31, 2005

Shame! A protester getting beaten during an anti-Mubarak demonstration yesterday. Now wouldn’t that tarnish the image of Egypt’s government? And wouldn’t our anti-terror demonstration that got canceled have improved the image of Egypt at least a little bit?


Interview with Sayed al-Qimni.

  Posted by BP at 11:40 am Comments (14)
Saturday, July 30, 2005

The Candlelight Vigil

Yesterday night, I got the news that the permit for our candelight vigil has been revoked. It was not a surprise. You can expect anything to happen if you’re dealing with Egypt’s tremendous bureaucracy. Since we didn’t manage to get the permit, I decided not to go. I really wanted to do it the right way and not get in trouble with the police like what happened last Sunday.

I got a phone call from Sandmonkey today evening informing me that some people whom I don’t know decided to go ahead and hold the vigil even without the permit. He asked me if I would like to pass by the Azhar Park just to see what those guys managed to do, if they in fact did anything.

We got in a cab and went straight to Azhar Park. When we approached the park, we were welcomed by a throng of policemen, security soldiers, and 4 huge riots police trucks. The atmosphere was tensed. We didn’t stop and ordered the cab driver to take us back to where he picked us from.

Why did our permit get revoked? Why did the police send such a huge number of security soldiers to an anti-terror demonstration? I believe the answer lies in the phobia that our government has towards any sort of demonstration even if it was a protest denouncing Osama Bin Laden. They hate assemblies, period. May be the police was afraid lest our protest turn into an anti-government or an anti-Mubarak demonstration or something. They just don’t want the hassle.

It is sad that terrorists are murdering innocents around the world yet we, a group of normal young Egyptians, cannot have the chance to tell the terrorists “NO”

I’ll keep you posted if I got any news about those who went ahead and had the vigil today.

Anyway, since I couldn’t go today, I might just hold the candle right now:

  Posted by BP at 2:41 am Comments (16)
Thursday, July 28, 2005

The candlelight vigil is canceled after the security permit has been revoked due to security reasons.

Anti-Terrorism Protest and Candle Light Vigil on Friday July 29.

A candle light vigil will be held tomorrow (Friday July 29th) from 6-9 P.M at Al Azhar Park. Permission was granted. If you are in Cairo, please come wearing white and bring as many people as you can.

FYI: The Azhar Park was originaly a garbage dump. It was transformed into heaven on earth by the Aga Khan Development Network.



Here Comes the Jewish Connection

When 7/23 (Sharm bombings) happened, I was waiting for the “Jewish/Israeli connection” that follows every mass murder committed by terrorists who claim that they are carrying out God’s orders. You know, kind off like the rumour that 4000 Jewish employees didn’t go to work in the WTC on Sept. 11.

The first idiot to come up with his own theory was a member of our parliament. He appeared on Al Jazeera (what else!) and blamed Israel for killing 88 people in Sharm El Sheikh. “The evidence is the suicide car plates. The plates showed that the cars entered Egypt from Taba and so they came from Israel” the MP said. So, the Mossad carried out this sophisticated attack yet forgot to change the car plates! What a jerk!

Today as I was buying my weekly newspapers, I saw the second theory. Al Arabi newspaper (a popular opposition paper) had this major headline in bold typing: thousands of Israeli tourists leave Sinai hours before the bombings. Here comes the second theory.

Any third theories out there?


Logo

You like my new logo? Thanks to Nickie Goomba who designed it and helped me add it to the blog.

  Posted by BP at 12:21 am Comments (10)
Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Our protest in The Guardian.

  Posted by BP at 12:36 am Comments (9)
Monday, July 25, 2005

Sharm Cooks Against Terrorism

There will be an anti-terror protest in the coming days. I believe this one will be more organized and with more people. I’ll keep you posted.

I want to thank all those who sent condolences notes via email or the comments column. I got many emails, I apologize for not responding to all of them.

  Posted by BP at 9:27 pm Comments (71)

Today I Annoyed Terrorists
(scroll down for updates)

Today was a great day for me. I feel very satisfied with myself. Today I felt that I really did something against the terrorists even if what I did was not so huge and lasted for 20 to 30 minutes.

Sandmonkey and I joined 5 other young Egyptians in a protest against terror. We stood on top of one of Cairo’s busiest bridges and carried large placards with the words “No to Terrorism”, “Islam Against Terrorism”, “Egypt Against Terrorism” written on them in bold letters.

We stood on the pavement facing the passing cars and held those placards. I felt as if I looked like the guy who carries the “The End is Near” sign!!

Well, carrying and displaying the “No to Terrorism” sign made me feel soooo good. At last I did something. I felt as if I was poking my finger into the eyes of an ugly terrorist.

People started looking and reading what was written. A number slowed down just to read what we were displaying. Others sounded their car horns. I felt we were getting a very positive response from the people until Egypt’s “do-not-disturb-the-peace-whatsoever” police destroyed our utopia and our ecstasy the same way Samson destroyed the temple.

A soldier came up and told us that his officer demands to know what we’re doing. After informing him about what we’re doing, he asked us to speak to his boss or get off the bridge. Yet he said something that really touched my heart. “We were all affected by what happened. We lost a lot of comrades.” It is true, many policemen perished in Sharm el Sheikh. It was clear that the polite soldier was very fond of what we were doing.

Two of our team went to speak with the big guy, the officer. After failing to convince him to allow us to carry out our silent demonstration, he disclosed a top secret. “We received info that the bridge will get bombed” he said. Yea yea, nice try Mr. officer.

We then decided to get off the bridge and continue what we were doing in Zamalek, an affluent part of Cairo. Suddenly, two police vehicles came after us. It appeared that we got on the police airwaves and they were looking for us! A police officer carrying a walkie-talkie approached us and asked about what we were doing, blah blah. We told him that we were normal young Egyptians who just wanted to demonstrate their anger at what happened in Sharm.

The guy told us that he respected what we were doing and that he himself is so affected by the terrorist attack because he lost colleagues. Another officer looked at the placards and said “an exciting way by a group of excited youth.” Yet we were still not allowed to protest even in Zamalek. “Someone might not like what you are doing and engage you in some violent manner” he said.

The officer talked to his superior, the very big guy, on the walkie-talkie and the orders came piercing through our ears. “Get them out of there” the very big guy said. “OK sir, I will carry out your orders” the officer responded.

I knew that we had to call it a day. The guy got an order and he had to obey it. There was no point in arguing with him. He told us that if we wanted to demonstrate then we had to get a permit from the Public Relations department of the Interior Ministry (our FBI and homeland security department).

Even if we did get this paper, it won’t mean anything. Egypt is a lawless country. We can still get arrested even if we had a paper with Mubarak’s signature on it. The only way we can carry out any future activity is by getting this permit and bringing a high rank police guy with us. He will be responsible to talk to the police when they show up.

Anyway, the experience was worth it. And I have to admit that the policemen were themselves very supportive. They just followed the usual rule of Egypt’s police force: do not allow anything to disrupt the peace no matter how good or bad it is. I just don’t understand the logic behind this rule. Why would we allow only the terrorists to be the ones who “disrupt the peace”?

Update: Check out MSNBC’s story on the protest.

  Posted by BP at 12:35 am Comments (9)
Sunday, July 24, 2005

Anti-Terror Demonstration

Egyptian American blogger Karim is organizing an anti-terror demonstration on the 6th of October bridge. A long bridge over the Nile. I am not sure about the numbers who will attend but I will definitly be there. If 20 people showed up, then we can call the demo a success. “No to Terrorism” banners will be held.

I am not sure if any media will bother to come but I know better than not acting towards what happened in Sharm El Sheikh.

Info for those who want to come:

Place: 6th of October bridge between Zamalek and Tahrir.

Time: 5:30 pm Cairo time

Comments:
- wear white t-shirt
- Park your car in Zamalek (the Le Pacha area for example) and get on the bridge by foot
- Bring your friends.

  Posted by BP at 12:08 pm Comments (8)
Saturday, July 23, 2005

This is Egypt you dogs of hell

Terror hit the nerve of Egypt’s tourism. The Sharm El Sheikh resort is literally the epicenter of the tourism industry. One of Egypt’s most beautiful spots. The terrorists knew where to hit. They knew where it will hurt. Up till now we know that 4 car bombs killed 43 people. The explosions were in different places across the resort.

The attacks were very well organized and very sophisticated. We truly entered world war 3.

I have been to Sharm countless times. As I was hearing the eyewitness reports, I could feel I was standing right there. The attacks are very serious and deadly to Egypt.

I just remembered the headline of an article written by Sayed El Qimni (who stopped writing after receiving threats) right after the Taba bombings last year. The headline read: This is Egypt you dogs of hell.

May God save us and have mercy on those who perished.

Update: News reports say 49 dead and 7 car bombs.

Update: The front side of a hotel was completely destroyed. Bodies were all over the place. The dead included Egyptians, Britons, French, Spaniards, Dutch, Qataris, Kuwaitis. You can almost find any nationality in Sharm.

Update: 85 people killed. I called someone I know who owns a shop in the Sharm market. He was in Cairo on his way to Sharm when his bus was ordered to return back to Cairo. He told me that he plans to shut down his shop in Sharm and return back to his hometown of Luxor. “Tourism is over in Sharm” he told me.
A friend of mine called me and told me that one of his friends was sitting in a cafe 50 meters away from one of the explosions. He told him that he saw pieces of body parts all over the place and burned bodies that looked like charcoale.

Update: Police say that 2 cars and a possible suitcase full of explosive might be behind the attacks. Most of the dead are Egyptians.

Update: I am trying to contact people so that we can carry out an anti-terrorism demonstration anywhere with any number of protesters. I am not sure if I will succeed or fail.

Update: I was in a cab today. The can driver told me that he was shocked by what the barbarians did. “What did those innocent people do to derserve such a death” he said. “These are people who just want to earn money to feed their children”.
The radio in the cab was on. Egypt’s foreign minister was talking about a phone call he got from Britain’s Jack Straw. He went on to add that in the past Britain always issued warnings against traveling to areas that were hit by terror attacks. Now the British government adopted a new policy that do not issue such a warning. “They believe today that we cannot defeat terror by hiding but by confrontation” he said.

I am not sure if that will help Sharm. I read reports that tourists are already leaving. But this is defintly a good move by the British.

I hope that we as Egyptians would take such a confrontational stand. I hope that any protest can be organized. I hope that our “intellectuals” will abandon their “this-is-because-of-dictatorship” and “this-is-because-of-Iraq” and “this-is-the-work-of-the-mossad-no-egyptian-can-carry-out-such-an-attack” arguments and other excuses that come out of their mouth. I hope they see the only truth I am seeing which is that innocent Egyptians and others were killed on Egyptian soil. PERIOD.

  Posted by BP at 4:36 am Comments (12)
Friday, July 22, 2005

My inbox was flooded by emails after the NPR interview. Thanks to you all.

  Posted by BP at 8:48 pm Comments (17)
Thursday, July 21, 2005

NPR

My interview on NPR will air tomorrow (Thursday July,21). The program is called Day to Day and the interviewer is Eric Weiner. I guess you can find the timing here.

I got several emails from those who listened to the advertisement today.

Thanks Eric, I really enjoyed it.

Update: You can listen to the program here

  Posted by BP at 2:37 am Comments (2)