All Articles Tagged "egypt"
Last year around this time, I was spending a quiet Saturday exploring the wonders of the internet. This day, my meandering led to Groupon. I clicked on the site’s “Getaways” section and that’s when I saw it. A picture of the Sphinx advertised an 8 day tour through Egypt. Instantly, my heart started pounding. Historically, that type of physiology reaction is a clear sign from the Divine that I need to take action. So I knew at that moment, one way or another, I was going on this trip.
When I ran the idea by a close friend, he reminded me that I didn’t have any money and therefore, wouldn’t be able to go. That was the last, little push I needed. If I went for no other reason than to prove him wrong, I was going. When I told people I was going to Egypt, everyone assumed I was going with my sister or several of my friends but I was going alone. I had to go it alone because no one had the money/desire to go when I wanted to leave. While I would have loved the share the experience with someone else, I couldn’t forgo the experience by waiting.
After some borrowing and negotiating with the travel agency who posted the deal, everything was set. I was going to Egypt. I was set to leave in November, around Thanksgiving.
But then ish went left. About three months before my trip, the political protests increased and in the eyes of many around the world Egypt became synonymous with smoky streets, screaming protestors and aggressive military personnel. My family was concerned. Everyone who had heard about my trip called and asked me to postpone it. I wasn’t happy about it but eventually I obliged. My new trip would be in April.
When the time came I had my anxieties. As yet another black girl who can’t swim, I felt a little uneasy flying over the Atlantic Ocean for hours on end. But as soon as I got on the plane, a sense of peace came over me and I knew that I would be safe and protected throughout my journey.
The trip exceeded my expectations.
Looking at temples and statues that were still standing nearly 4,000 years after construction was awe inspiring. Sailing down the Nile, a river that watered and nourished the original man, the first civilization, was breathtaking and at times a bit emotional. Staring at the pyramids trying to figure how the ancient Egyptians moved and stacked blocks weighing several tons was baffling. Seeing the opulence and grandeur of all the treasure from King Tut’s tomb was amazing. Kanye was really onto something when he told us it’s in black folks’ soul to rock that gold.
But more than the exploration of history traveling to Egypt, as leaving the country often does, even gave me an opportunity to do some reflecting about myself. I remember the first time I went to Africa, Ghana to be exact, I was surprised to learn that the people there didn’t regard me as black. In Egypt it was the complete opposite. People were sure that I was Nubian, or Sudanese or even Latina. I realized, that while in America brown skinned people might be “minorities;” but in the global context, brown skin is the norm. And while I smiled or chuckled at their inaccurate guesses, I realized that I could have been any of those things. It was there in Egypt that I recognized my “brown girl privilege”: the ability to travel and blend in with a variety of people.
I was surfing the internet, looking for something to write about, when I came across a piece on one of my favorite websites, The Frisky. It was just a blurb linking to CNN, but the headline,”TV Station Staffed By Fully Veiled Women Launches In Egypt,” intrigued me. The video and accompanying text piece on CNN detailed a new Egyptian television station called Maria. The station allows fully veiled women to operate and broadcast their own programming.
Initially, it seemed like a great idea. Women like Heba Seraq-Eddin who had studied mass communication in college, couldn’t get a job in television because networks, even in Egypt, weren’t hiring women who wear niqabs, the covering that shields everything except the woman’s eyes. These women had been discriminated against in class, where they couldn’t wear their niqabs during tests, or in their dorms and now in the job market. Seraq-Eddin felt that in Maria, she found a place where she and her beliefs were accepted: “I felt that we finally have a place in society after being marginalized. As women wearing niqab, we had no rights, and no one to talk about us. Through Maria, we’ll find people like us talking about us, with no discrimination.”
As a minority woman who majored in journalism, my heart went out to them. I thought, Go ‘head girls! It seemed like an empowering endeavor. But as I continued watching the video, I bristled several times at some of the thoughts expressed. Abu Islam Abdallah, the creator of Maria‘s mother channel, Al-Omma, is vehemently anti Christian (bristle) and believes it, Christianity, is the cause of society’s ills. Ills like women dressing immodestly, working as dancers and serving as members of parliament. (Bristle) Abdallah said that this network is about rejecting the type of discrimination these veiled women have had to face and putting them on the “right path.” (Bristle!)
Honestly, my first thought was either this man is crazy, a hypocrite or a liar. How can you claim to promote female empowerment and independence but believe women serving in Parliament is “madness.” Is that not another form of discrimination against women? The CNN article interviewed an Egyptian academic who believes Abdallah and his new network could just very well be a gimmick, a cover up to promote his conservative agenda. And I had formed my judgment about the whole thing, I was ready to slam the gavel, dismiss the network as oppressive and move on to the next thing.
But before I could click away, I had to ask myself, Why are you mad?
Clearly, as a Christian woman, who is also some version of a feminist/womanist/whatever, there were plenty of opportunities for me to be offended. And though Abdallah’s comments didn’t help me come to terms with Maria’s message, I had to ask myself what if the tables were turned? What would an atheist, post-racial, misogynist think about me writing and working for a black women’s website? We could argue all day about whether or not I should be able to do such a thing and what my job represented; but hopefully the atheist, post-racial, misogynist and I would come to the conclusion that we’ll never see eye to eye and should both just respect that my work empowers me, even if it goes against everything Mr. Atheist, Post Racialist, Misogynist believes in.
Now, I can’t speak for these women. I don’t know how fulfilling being a part of such a network, is for them. But I’ll just concede that they’re doing something they believe in. And though, I can’t support their message, I’m not mad at them.
What do you think, is Maria helping or hurting these Egyptian women? Watch the video and let us know what you think?
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#DemBabies are only one-year-old cuties and already they’ve seen more fabulous countries than most adults (#PassportPimpin’). I mean Roc was just in Morocco with Mariah (the place he was named after of course), and the twins celebrated their birthdays in Paris. Too bad they might not remember all of these awesome travels when they get older. But anywho, while Nick and Mariah took their bundles of joy to Italy, they took a few photos of their little ones enjoying the glamorous life. In the first pic, the twins are rolling around in a wagon. Nick’s caption was, “Ridin around and they gettin it!” In the second one, Roc is all bundled up in a bathrobe, and Nick’s hilarious caption for that one was, “Roc big pimpin in Italy!” Check out the cute-sy images below from the proud papa’s Twitter:
In Memorial Day weekend fabness, celebs were all out and about with their kids. Solange and her son, Daniel, were seen wearing fashionable flotation devices before taking a dip, Dwyane Wade, his sons Zion and Zaire and his nephew got all cheesy (for the camera of course), and Swizz Beatz spent some quality time with his kids (minus baby Egypt). Check out all the cutie goodness below:
Check out the Isabel Marant sneaker/wedge heels on his daughter, Nicole. I love it! Fashionable kids indeed…
Oh yeah, Wade recently posted this picture below of his son Zion, shouting out little man on his birthday: “Happy 5th birthday to my mini me. Zion the Lion King.” Mini me is right…
Big laughs at his face being on the cake as grown up Simba. Too cute! Happy belated birthday!
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CBS News — Several hundred Christians pelted police with rocks outside a Cairo hospital Monday in fresh clashes the day after 24 people died in riots that grew out of a Christian protest against a church attack. Sunday’s sectarian violence was the worst in Egypt since the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak in February. Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf warned in a televised address that the riots were another setback on the country’s already fraught transition to civilian rule after three decades of Mubarak’s authoritarian government.
“These events have taken us back several steps,” Sharaf said. He blamed foreign meddling for the troubles, claiming it was part of a “dirty conspiracy.” Similar explanations for the troubles in Egypt are often heard from the military rulers who took power from Mubarak, perhaps at attempt to deflect accusations that they are bungling the management of the country.
Alicia Keys hasn’t let the world see her 8 month bundle of joy yet; but she is revealing details about him slowly but surely.
She said his temperament is super chill and he loves to laugh.
Get a few more details about Keys’ baby boy over at Hello Beautiful.
In the meantime, you can win the collector’s edition of Keys’ first “baby” “songs in A minor”. Enter our contest to win. Click here for the details.
By Charlotte Young
Here’s the number one reason never to omit any of the names of dead relatives in a national memorial event: violence may ensue.
On late Tuesday a memorial event was held in Cairo to remember the lives lost during the uprising that led to the disposal of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. After some family members began complaining that the names of their deceased loved ones were not mentioned at the ceremony, the event soon turned into a clash.
Reuters reports that the complaints erupted into violence in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and Interior Ministry, leaving over 1,000 people injured, including at least 40 police. It was the first case of large-scale violence in Tahrir in weeks.
Some young men were still launching stones and scrap metal at the Interior Ministry on Wednesday morning. While the ruling military council announced on its Facebook that there is “no justification” for their continued destruction other than to “shake Egypt’s safety and security,” others see it as a demonstration of the unhappiness at the proceedings following Mubarak’s ousting.
The former president gave up rule on Feb. 11 after 18 days of rioting and uprising. But now the court dates for the cases against his top officials keep getting pushed back. Mubarak, who is charged with killing protesters, could face the death penalty. His trial is set to begin on August 3rd.
With little detail and vague information given to the people on future court proceedings, political analyst Hassan Nafaa acknowledges that the delay in justice signifies the source of tension in Egypt.
(Wall Street Journal) — In the weeks since Egypt’s uprising, the television airwaves and Cairo’s streets have been filled with revolutionary slogans. ”Build your country!” shout billboards hovering over this city’s dense thoroughfares. “Develop your country!” urges another over smaller text demanding that Egyptians “Don’t stop!” But the signs aren’t the work of revolutionaries. They are advertisements for Snicker’s, the candy brand owned by Mars Inc., the U.S.-based confectioner. Since thousands of protesters ousted former President Hosni Mubarak in a nearly three-week revolt, the enthusiasm for revolution has been redirected and repackaged for television ads, billboards and jingles selling products including hair gel, soft drinks and candy. A television spot for Coca-Cola Co.’s Coke, which apes a similar Latin American commercial called “Sky,” shows hundreds of kids dressed in trendy clothes climbing to the tops of buildings in downtown Cairo. There, they lasso the sun, pull it out from behind menacing storm clouds and bask in the radiant glory that is the new Egypt. “Make tomorrow better!” the slogan implores.
For the first time in the history of Egypt, a woman is running for president.
Buthayna Kamel, a 49-year-old talk show host, has announced her candidacy for the presidential election that will be held later this year. This monumental step would not have been possible had it not been for the youth uprising that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak. In the past, only candidates who were approved by Mubarak and rubber-stamped by his Parliament could run.
However, what is supposed to be a historic moment is being overshadowed by many Egyptian women who feel that they will be “shut out” of the emerging government, according to NPR.
Though Mubarak may no longer be the oppressive ruler in Egypt, for Egyptian women, the fight to secure new rights and freedom is far from over.
Kamel is looking forward to a presidential race free of Mubarak’s influence, but admitted that she too is concerned that women may be sent back home. Just this past month at the International Women’s Day march to Cairo’s Tahrir Square, participants were attacked by men.
Mubarak had his faults, yet women did have a political voice under his ruling. His own wife headed an influential women’s council, and women filled Parliament’s seats while the international community released funds to support women’s rights programs in Egypt. New leaders attribute these actions to the former president and his Western allies. As such, they are turning a deaf ear to women’s rights issues, according to NPR.
Well-known Egyptian activist Nawal El Saadawi believes securing women’s rights isn’t going to be through a female presidential candidate, but through the unification of women’s groups who will follow exactly what the youth did to defeat the old regime.
“Women should be in the street in millions,” she told NPR. “If women … make a march with all their demands, this is the pressure.”
When I first heard of the political unrest happening in Tunisia, I, like the rest of America, was enamored. The images of a bunch of average folks waving signs of democracy, chanting a chorus of ‘Yes We Can,’ and taking their own political destiny into their own hands all seemed so surreal.
Tunisia was then followed by Egypt, which also sent chills down my spine. What we were supposedly witnessing in Egypt was the textbook case of a revolution. And it’s easy to get caught up in the images of ordinary folks toppling the entrenched autocrats and corrupt governments.
But since Tunisia and Egypt, uprisings have now taken on a life of its own with similar demonstrations occurring throughout the Middle East and North Africa in countries such as Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Algeria, Yemen, Lebanon, Bahrain, and most recently, Libya.
That’s when I had to pause my celebration of the Jasmine Revolution and wonder, what the heck is really going on here?
You can say it’s my skeptical mind or a case of paranoia brought on by watching too many episodes of Jesse Ventura’s Conspiracy Theory, but all of this, all at once, and all in one particular region? Surely, I am not alone in my curiosity. So, for the purpose of exploring all options, I propose this question: Is it at all possible that a bunch of people inspired by one single event decided to just get up one day and demand their leaders to step down?
Most of these countries have little in common except for being in the same geographical region. In contrast to the Arab monarchies of Egypt, Bahrain and Morocco, countries such as Iran and Yemen both have free elections and their presidents do not rule for decades. Moreover, some of these countries, such as Egypt and Jordan, are largely modern and secular societies in comparison to the clerical caste of ayatollahs, who impose a theocratic dictatorship in other parts of the region.
Of course, the media has over-simplified the nature of these movements as being the people’s revolution brought on by a desire for democracy. However, none of these demonstrations and uprisings can be traced back to a single flagship issue.
In Tunisia, Ben Ali was ousted because of mass corruption within the government. The uprising in Egypt had a lot to do with rising unemployment and increased costs in food and energy. And in Bahrain, where it is divided unequally between Islamic denominations, the unrest there is between the Shiite Muslim majority and the Sunnis, who are the ruling class.
It’s easy to speculate that much of the unrest is rooted in attempts to destabilize the region for political and economic purposes. Saif al-Islam, son of Mummar Khadhafi, has gone on record to accuse foreigners and opposition groups that have ties to both the United States and Al-Qaeda of fomenting unrest in Libya. In the Daily Telegraph, it speculates that the U.S. government has secretly backed leading figures behind the Egyptian uprising, and has been planning a “regime change” for the past three years. In most of these cases, the White House—U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in particular—has been supporting the protests across the region.
However, there is no clear link to prove that the U.S. or any other group had a hand in any of the uprisings. Nor is there proof of how destabilization of the Middle East and North Africa region would greatly benefit the U.S. Government.
Perhaps this is just a peasant uprising, or maybe there are more orchestrated agendas occurring behind the scenes. Either way, it’s pretty clear that the Middle East and its people are heading for uncharted destinations that will take years to fully understand the implications. As the demonstrations and uprisings in both Bahrain and Libya turn deadly, and with the Jasmine Revolution now spreading to Iraq—a country with a government less than six months old—we in the Western world should watch carefully but resist taking sides too quickly because we really don’t have a clue as to what’s going on.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.
How important is social networking in your life? What does it mean to you? Are you so invested in Facebook, Twitter or Gchat that you’d name your firstborn after one of the sites? Well that’s exactly what one Egyptian man did.
According to Al-Ahram, a popular Egyptian newspaper, a twenty-something year old, first time father named his daughter “Facebook” Jamal Ibrahim (his name). The father named his daughter Facebook to commemorate the role, the social networking site played in planning and orchestrating the January 25th revolution against President Mubarak.