Visual propaganda in the #NGOCrackdown case

Whenever Ahram newspaper asks their graphics team to photoshop anything a scandal erupts. Remember the Mubarak in the lead photo?

This time the content of the photo wasn't the source of the scandal but the entire case and how the government and media insisted that it's a matter of sovereignty. Up to the extent that prime minister Kamal El-Ganzoury said Egypt won't kneel to the US.

Background (skip this if you know the case):
The government started a witch-hunt against foreign funded NGOs. But decided to pick on the easier target, one that will arouse minor criticism locally. US NGOs working for 'democracy promotion' such NDI, IRI and freedom house. The legal status of these NGOs is under question but that's a side issue, although the basis of the case against them, because they have been operating since 2004.

Ever since the revolution started state owned media launched a smear campaign against political activists and groups such April 6 that they were foreign funded and trained. That invisible foreign hands are responsible for this chaos. After Mubarak stepped down, SCAF took that line and continued in the same direction using state media and their stupid Facebook communiqué.

This was taken further, perhaps for local consumption and to add legitimacy to their foreign hands claims or part of a long term campaign to crackdown on NGOs, specially those working in human rights. So, 43 NGO workers were banned from travelling, including American citizens and referred to trial. After pressure from the White House, the travel ban was lifted for the foreigners and they left. Disgracing the government and judiciary.

Photos
Ahram used several odd stock photos and photoshop creations to add to the sensationalism. Here are some example I managed to keep.

Impaired physicians

Substance abuse among health professionals is serious. An impaired physician may harm the lives of her patients or may lead to their own death as in the case of Dr. Karim Aly. Compared to the general public, physicians have access to very serious medications. More so in certain specialties like anesthesiology.

7 officers suspended for growing beards

7 police officers who tried to grow their beards on duty were quickly suspended by the ministry of interior. This level of firmness is never seen with officers who kill or torture.

The matter of officers growing beards is controversial.

Should the Egyptian police force respect the officers' personal choice and religion, provided they are treated equally and Christians are allowed to wear a cross. Or is it better if the image of law enforcement is a secular one?

Open Democracy: Best of the blogs

view from a taxi side mirror

openDemocracy, a wesbite that publishes posts by prominent academics and journalists and encourages debate about world politics and culture, has published as part of its Arab Awakening section a guide to the best blogs in the Arab world for 2011. These include very important and popular blogs such as Nawaat, Jadaliyya, Mamfakinch and the Arabist.

Nawaat was this time last year an incredibly important resource, not just for Tunisians but for everyone who wanted to follow the events that led up to the downfall of Ben Ali. The other three blogs are so well established that they don't need any introductions. Check out their guide here.

Additionally, the site chose less well known blogs. Like Basem Sabry's highly thoughtful blog and it introduced me to Abu Kareem's Levantine Dreamhouse which I am looking forward to reading more of his posts on Syria. His spot on post about the Arab League observers mission to Syria being a farce caught my attention.

.@alaa released and live tweets of his latest TV interview

If you know Alaa's case, you can skip this recap and jump to the horizontal line below. If you watched the interview with Yousri Fouda on OnTv, you can skip this post entirely.

Alaa surrounded by media

Alaa was released on remand on Sunday 25th of December after spending 56 days in custody. Along with 27 other suspects who were accused of attacking the Maspero building and army forces protecting it. Read the full list of accusations here.

What happened on the 9th of October was that the Army attacked a peaceful march with extreme force, opening live fire on men, women and children and used at least 2 APCs to run over protesters. Around 27 protesters died and 1 soldier was killed with a bullet. After the deadly attack the protesters managed to burn an APC and clashes took place for few hours following the deadly episode.

You can read a first hand account of what happened here.

You can also watch this video by Mosireen about the events.

Alaa heard of the events over twitter and went to Abdelmoneim Reyad square, near Maspero, where he joined, well after the deadly events took place, the crowds chanting against SCAF. In one video he was filmed throwing a stone into blackness. Presumably at the police. He later went to the morgue of the Coptic hospital, where he instantly became useful. He spent the night their with the families of the deceased and helped them take the decision to allow for forensic autopsy and delay prayer and burial.

الأتهامات الموجهة لعلاء بصوت خالد علي

أنا سجلت لخالد علي الأتهامات الموجهة لعلاء بعد أنتهاء التحقيقات في نيابة أمن الدولة بالتجمع الخامس وأعتقد أنها أدق مما نشرت الشروق اليوم

Scroll down for English.

  1. الاشتراك فى تجمهر مع ؟ أشخاص آخرين وتعريض السلم العام لخطر الغرض منه ارتكاب جرائم القتل العمد، والاعتداء على رجال السلطة العامة ومقاومتهم بالقوة والعنف حال حمل المتهمين أسلحة نارية وبيضاء وأدوات (حجرة) من شأنها إحداث الموت.
  2. الأشتراك وأخرين في ارتكاب جرائم القتل العمد مع سبق الإصرار المجني عليهم المبينة أسمائهم بالتحقيقات .. (ده الأتهام الموجه لعبد الرحمان) وذلك تنفيذا لغرض إرهابى،
  3. محاولته وأخرين اقتحام مبنى حكومى بالقوة والعنف(مبنى الاذاعة والتلفيزيون).
  4. أستعمال وآخرين القوة والعنق مع موظفين عموميين وأشخاص مكلفين بخدمة عامة، لحملهم بغير حق على الأمتناع عن أداء عمل من أعمال وظيفتهم حال حملهم على أسلحة وأدوات مما تستخدم في الاعتداء على أشخاص وقد نجم عن ذلك وفاة المجني علية المجند محمد على شتا،
  5. سرقة أسلحة وذخيرة خاصة بالقوات المسلحة وحيازة أسلخة نارية مما لا يجوز الترخيص بحيازتها واحراز ذخائر مما تستعمل على هذه الأسلحة دون أن يكون مرخصا بحيازتها واحرازها
  6. تخريب أملاك عامة عمدا
  7. إتلاف أموال ثابتة ومنقولة عمدا تنفيذا لغرض إرهابى،
  8. إحرازه أدوات تستخدم فى الاعتداء على الأشخاص واستخدمها فى نشاط يخل بالأمن العام والنظام العام.

    On the tear gas

    Guy sending tear gas back to police

    Last night in Mohamed Mahmoud I sat on top of a wall to watch the battle between the police and protesters and after 5 minutes of watching skilful kids throwing back tear gas canisters at the police. We were showered with 4 or 5 simultaneously. Suddenly, I heard a hiss behind me, so I jumped and tried to remain low to avoid the smoke, behind a utility box to avoid anything falling on my head and closed my eyes so it didn't hurt. But then another one landed 5 meters on my side and another one in front of me. At this point I realised that I have to leave my position as the smoke was so heavy my chest was burning and breathing was quite difficult.

    Fortunately, I managed to walk to the side street by the AUC library where I held the arm of a guy and told him to help me walk few meters away. I was spent and started to sweat all over (this meant more gas being absorbed by the body). He asked one of the motorbike ambulance to take me away. This was a great experience, the guys on the bike ran so fast that fresh cold wind blew in my face. Also, leaving the area saturated with smoke reassured me and I started recovering on the bike. Before reaching one of the field hospitals on a side walk I told him to drop me off as I felt much better and thanked them for the ride. My wheezy chest wasn't clear till 30 minutes later.

    Earlier, I was in the field hospital in Omar Makram. I wanted to see as many cases with neurological problems as possible. There was a professor of Neurology there who I had an interesting discussion about the effects of the gas.

    Most of the cases that came with convulsions weren't suffering from an epileptic fit.

    أصوات من مليونية تسليم السلطة

    تسجيلات صوتية للمتظاهرين في مسيرة و في التحرير اليوم.

    On Admitting Michael Nabil to a Mental Hospital

    I have to highlight how important it is that Michael Nabil is not a suspect in a violent crime. The military courts are trying him over a blog post that criticises the army, not killing or stabbing anyone.

    Michael has passed the 50 days mark in his hunger strike.
    Abassia hospital
    He was referred to a mental hospital for observation for 45 days when his court appointed lawyers defended him saying that he is suffering from mental problems.

    This is outrageous because:

    1. It politicises psychiatry,
    2. He isn't a suspect in a violent crime,
    3. Are we heading towards a society where someone who disagrees with the ruling class is stripped of his freedom and his mental/psychiatric conditions 'checked'?
    4. The hospital may get itself involved in involuntarily breaking his hunger strike.

    The Abbaseya mental Hospital should have refused taking Michael Nabil in.

    Without delving into the conditions of his stay inside the criminal suspects wards. This is abuse by the military court, which the Hospital has just become a partner in.

    Today the media department of the General Secretariat of Mental Health released the following statement. Here is a snippet.

    Graffiti artist arrested & referred to military prosecution

    Graffiti artist Aly el-Halabi was arrested & referred to military prosecution. He is being held for 7 days pending investigations.The artist is also an activist in the 6th of April movement.

    Guardian: Cairo witnesses blame security forces for bloodshed at Coptic march

    Many people were screaming, women were crying and running almost immediately and add to that the fact once the beating started with sticks, within a few minutes we started hearing gunfire which it seems like – from some of the casualties I saw – were not blank rounds.

    They were live rounds being used very, very quickly. It was an incredibly violent show of force … it was chaos for a while.

    Sarah Carr's account of the Maspero Massacre

    And then it happened: an APC mounted the island in the middle of the road, like a maddened animal on a rampage. I saw a group of people disappear, sucked underneath it. It drove over them. I wasn’t able to see what happened to them because it then started coming in my direction.

    Read it here.

    You can also listen to her account of what happened in a phone interview with CBC radio.

    Pages