Monday, February 4, 2013

The Revolution Kitchen!

In turns and twists of the narrow alleys of downtown Cairo, just couple of kilometers away from Tahrir, where all the action happens, lays Somaiyya's area/ground as a hidden spot, a hidden entrance to enchanted world,, a very narrow restaurant with only three tables serving deliciously, made extremely traditional Egyptian food with the taste of the revolution where this whole thing started.

The story behind the place is interesting in the same fashion of its interesting customers themselves, whom they successfully squeeze themselves along the tiny place! Most of them being activists or protestors who seek this place as a break from their hectic clashes with police few blocks away or a place to mingle with fellow revolutionaries opening up endless debates,,, what you will enjoy most about the place,, is lack of privacy, really! You would be engaged in conversation of fellow eaters,, who comes from different walks of life united by the love of Somaiyya and revolution,  with a lof of foreigners and long waiting line outside, ,, they ll laugh at your stories,  you would ask to charge your mobile's battery and find lovely Egyptians helping you to it ( like I did ask), you would shout Somaiyya' s name across he kitchen that opens a Window facing her customers and asking her, like you would do typically with your mom ' what is on for dinner tonight"?
Somaiyya who cooks in front of cheering chatty customers where 3 tables furnished modestly by tradotional cloth, started unintentially this business during the break out of the revolution in 2011.
Somaiyya who is in her forties used to work in Merit printing house, Egyptian book publishing house, usually printing controversial books and mostly secular and political ones, started cooking for her colleagues as a fun way fulfilling her new learnt hobby after living in Italy for 10 years.
She never loved cooking before Italy as going to work as a secretary, which is her original job! But no wonder loving cooking after visiting this cooking heaven country! However with the daring decision of Merit to take in causalities at thiet location in downtown during the revolution and hosting them,, Somaiyya was one of the healing powers with her food.  the place's wall now mixed between pictures of old downtown and revolutionary and anti-scaf ( military supreme council) posters which makes the revolution very alive in this spot of the world)
Although Somaiyya has a menu but it is very interactive and relevant to the day and her mood,, so leave yourself and your food  prejudices at the tiny door in this alley of bab el louq and ask for the sizzling dish of the day which varies between ( Egyptian white rice, Okra with sauce, stuffed vegtables (mahshy), Mombar (stuffed cow intestineswith rice), chicken) along many many mouth-watering  others.
Well,, if you walk out this door to the real world again, you are never thr same,, well you are enchanted forever but your mouth printed by the taste of the revolution, something you can never forget! 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Stripping a Nation! the Ugly Face of Egypt!

With fresh scenes of brutal police killing, beating up, torturing, dragging and humiliating Egyptians for almost 6 decades,  comes today another horrible,  heart breaking scene of riot police pulling one man to the ground, stripped him completely naked and beat him before dragging him into a police van.

The incident came as part of the escalating violence erupted today at the presidential palace gates, when the scene turned very violent as the police used tons of tear gas, bullets and not sure live ammunition as sound of birdshit could be heard.

At one point, security forces turned nasty to prove its loyalty and firmness to Morsi and the brotherhood, chasing protesters through the side street, riot police obressed protestors who were gathering demanding Morsi to leave office and denouncing the recent killings happened in Canal cities against Port Said and Suez protestors where more than 70 people were killed!

In a similar scene of army stripping and dragging a girl last year during protests of Ahmed Mahmoud,  the picture of the girl named the "blue bra girl" by media undisclosing her identity still fresh in the minds of Egyptians as a sign of ever growing  humiliation!

Stripping Egyptian dignity is becoming more normal,  in country where dignity is the last thing people care about,, stripping the nation is becoming the hobby of police, president and system with no consideration to even international community that they once try to hide our ugly face in front.

Frenzy of shring the video stared and here it is ( cautious, disturbing footages) causing uproar anger among people,,,

On the other side the typical reaction of islamists never fail to disgust me,, in channels of Salafi sheikhs they claimed that the guy is gay, , demanding that people protesting against Morsi rto be killed,,, just similar to insulting the girl who turned to be wearing Niqab (full face veil), making Khaled Abdallah, salafi sheikh saying that she is not from us and what made her go there a remark to indicate she being 'indecent'!!

Although feeling very sad for the man, I hope this shcoking footage would wake Egyptians back yo thier senses and realize the deep misfortune and disaster they brought to themselves by bringing this  criminal regime on top!!

Streets of Hell: Sexual Harassment Against Women in Egypt

I see them dragging her again, in the dark alleys of Alexandria, with the cheering crowd in a mixed of melancholia and revenge, grabbing her, stripping her of her clothes, but never getting to her unadulterated soul  in a scene that comes naturally in classic Shakespearian ends. I see this beautiful, pure and revolutionary, the Hellenistic philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria is alive.
Today, her granddaughters (although many of them now value her murderer`s values more than what she stood for) have been facing the same hate, prejudice and violence, Hypatia once faced bravely alone.
Almost every girl, woman (even female cat) that ever swept the streets of Egypt, rode its transportation, or ever breathe the air of its polluted skies, had experienced some form of physical, verbal, psychological sexual harassment.
The harassment is an ever-lasting chronically problem in Egypt, however the rate had spiked reaching epidemic proportions lately, with savagely and severity of incidents taking the shape in many times as a mob-like attacks. What is even worse about it, is both government and society turning blind eye to it, making it even acceptable, inevitable and allowed to be that worse.
Sometimes, I think women in Egypt are very brave to be able to still hit the road everyday and they know that spying eyes and dirty words are at every corner, all age groups are condemned, and all classes, men tightening more and more the grip leaving no room to breathe, so times it is even hard to stop and bend to tie your shoe`s ropes as people might attack you on bending and doing so, making it a daily struggle only topped, if not by bread lines that stages Egypt`s streets.
Although there is no reliable, clear-cut statistics of number of sexually assaulted women in Egypt, which is due to many factors mainly that most women are either too ashamed of reporting these incidents, or pushed by their families to hide these incidents due to humiliation that will be caused to the family (with the culture of blaming women for everything, and on the wrong side whatever that is), however all numbers indicates its a ‘disaster’ by all means.

According to the latest demographic study, issued by the Egyptian Information and Decision Support in 2011 Center, stated that 44 per cent of the females in the country are subjected to sexual harassment, and in another 2008 survey, the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights surveyed 2,000 Egyptian men and women and 109 foreign women in four governorates in the country, including Cairo and Giza, about eighty-three percent of Egyptian women reported experiencing sexual harassment on the street at least once and nearly half of the women said they experience it daily. Ninety-eight percent of the foreign women surveyed reported experiencing sexual harassment while in Egypt. Wearing a veil did not appear to lessen a woman’s chances of being harassed.
Honestly, I'm not surprised. About 62 percent of Egyptian men admitted to perpetrating harassment, Egyptian men view women as objects, sex objects made to serve in house and bed! Women in Egypt, and I dare to say the Arab and Islamic countries enjoys extremely low rights, mostly considered as second-class citizens, with no rights and obligations to fulfil. According to Egyptian mainstream Islam, Muslim women should helplessly stay at houses, obey husband`s orders, doing housework with no participation in both public and political rights, with now voice.
Other nonsense men excuses that includes the dress of women in Egypt attracts for them these harasses, which is very untrue since most Egyptian women are modestly if not called very conservative in their outfit, and statistics showed no difference in harassment rates between and unveiled women, also even Niqabi women (with full-face veil) are targeted, other stupid excuse include the high price of marriage,  revealing dress of superstars on TV that arouse them
In an article I did two years ago, I interviewed male harasser who confirmed to me proudly that they harass these women as they are ‘indecent’ women, “a woman should stay at home, and if she goes out that means she is a whore and deserve that/ or even ask for that”
Just few days back, in the second anniversary of Egypt`s January revolution, a date for toppling regimes, now groping breasts. More than 19 cases where reported on that day of 25 Jan 2013, where even more violence was used, where now weapons like knifes and sticks are used in such cases where mobs of tens, if not hundreds, of men come together in a extraordinary solidarity to rape these women.
Here is one of the testimony that appeared was reported by “Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment/Assault (OpAntiSH)” is an initiative by a number of Egyptian human rights organizations and individuals set up to combat sexual formed November 2012
She describes what happened: “I ran inside the circle of men to try to save her; the men let me through. Once I was in the middle of the circle, I realized that the person being attacked was my colleague and that the reported attack was a ruse to get us to the scene to intimidate and assault us… Suddenly hands were on my breasts, inside my bra, and squeezing my nipples… I was trying to defend myself and heard my colleague screaming. Her chest was bare and they cut her bra down the middle… In the middle of this, they were insulting us and calling us whores who were asking for this by squeezing ourselves in the middle of men… At some point I could feel 15 hands on me… Someone grabbed me by my clothes and was dragging me on the ground… Another guy put his hand down my trousers.
The incident took place in Tahrir Square at about 8:30pm on 23 November 2012, during protests against President’s Mohamed Morsi’s Constitutional Declaration.
The horrible recount of the testimonials of these attacks, shows the severity of the problem, and the lame response of authority, making it as guilty as the harassers, is typical and reflects a culture of denial, and the state of indifference (that is dominated) in all issues.
Different explanations and analysis given by activists involved in addressing the increasing phenomenon of harassment in protests: a culture of denial when it comes to violence against women; with criminal elements and slums people filling the political scenes in times of protests, and the current climate of political instability; given them golden opportunity to harass and rape women amid chaos and disappearance of state and authority.
Although authorities announced a new sexual-harassment law in October, but never implemented it. It does not seem to have been a priority for the authorities. Instead, a new constitution passed in December refers to women’s role as homemakers, and does not explicitly ban discrimination against them.
I can`t imagine that women in Egypt until late 1970s, it feels as it is a distant dream now, that women were predominately unveiled. They wore modern clothes that with mini-skirts, short sleeves and went to the beach and swam in the sea wearing swimsuits that showed off their legs. And despite all this, there was never any harassment. Before we went to Bedouins and got their ideologies and adopt the Wahabi interpretations of religion and customs.