Posts Tagged ‘suez’

On "morality police" in Egypt

July 15th, 2012 Comments off

I did not get a chance to blog about the reports of Islamist morality vigilantism said to have caused the death of a young man in Suez a couple of weeks ago, but below are some links on the story. While it’s not clear how widespread the phenomenon is, and there has been some alarmism, I do believe that such events are happening more frequently. I would not look at a conspiracy by the new Islamist president for now, though — this problem has much more to do with the collapse of authority in areas where there the state already has problems to impose itself. No wonder the worst instances of such morality police (but the least reported) is Sinai.

  • No morality police in Egypt: Morsi spokesman – Politics – Egypt – Ahram Online
  • A noisy discourse on sexual harassment : EgyptMonocle
  • Egyptian Youth’s Murder in Suez Puts Islamists on Defensive – Bloomberg
  • Fears of ‘morality vigilantism’ in Suez – YouTube
  • After Suez murder, questions linger over vigilante ‘morality police’ | Egypt Independent
  • Egyptian student fatally stabbed by militants – SFGate

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    Your Tax Dollars at Work

    November 29th, 2011 Comments off

    Customs workers at the Port of Suez discovered they were expected to clear seven tons of tear gas arriving from the United States, and were questioned when they refused. they also have documents showing that it is the first of three shipments totaling 21 tons arriving from the US. More on the story here. CS gas, which in the US is supposed to be limited  to military use, has been extensively used against the demonstrators in Tahrir. Some reports say even more restricted types of gas have been used as well, possibly CR, which is labeled a “combat class chemical weapon.”

    The US isnot the only seller, though the “Made in USA” canisters have been much photographed. China has also supplied, and many of the canisters contain no country of manufacture, so the demonstrators have set up  a website, Tear Gas Identification, displaying various canisters and asking readers to help in identifying sources. I don’t think all of these are actually gas canisters, but if you worry about who’s supplying the authorities in this case and can help in identification, you might want to take a look.

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    The Problem of Revolutionary Puritanism

    July 14th, 2011 Comments off

    The information here is so fragmentary that I’m not sure I should even comment, but I will anyway. You may know that an ongoing sit-in has been going on in Tahrir Square in Cairo since last Friday. Thde protesters even blocked access to the Mugamma‘, the huge government building where all the red tape afflicting Egyptian is processed, till ordinary Egyptians who need their paperwork processed had an effect and they announced it could reopen.

    According to this report on the Egyptian newspaper/website Al-Youm 7, a man from Suez, entering the Square (which as I’ve noted before, is round) in recent days, was found by the “Popular Committee” controlling access to the Square to have a bottle of wine with him. He was seized and kicked out of the Square, and if this photo (with the paper’s watermark intact) is correct it may have been poured out on his head.

    Now who, precisely, controls the “Popular Committees” controlling access to Tahrir isn’t clear,  but the relatively brief account calls him ahad al-baltagiyya, “one of the thugs,” though it also says he was a worker from Suez who came to Cairo looking for a job. How does an unemployed man from perhaps the angriest city in Egypt become a baltagi? Just because he was carrying a bottle of wine?

    The picture here and others at the link don’t look like his challengers were Brotherhood or other Salafis; no beards in evidence. I can think of other reasons for their anger, but none are supported by the limited information available:

    • Were the protesters concerned that he would lead the authorities to claim there was a drunken orgy going on in Tahrir?
    • Or were these Islamists without the trademark beards?
    • Or is the issue that he was an outsider and falsely suspected of infiltration?

    Or is this a case of revolutionaries showing their puritanical side? In the French and Russian revolutions there was a tension between revolutionaries who believed hedonism  and free love were signs of the revolution, and others who felt these were the vices of the old regime. But the presence of the Islamists means there will be pressure on the moral values of the revolution, and pressures to ban alcohol altogether.

    Of course, maybe he was a baltagi, but nothing in the story or pictures suggests so. He looks like a job-seeker caught sneaking wine through a checkpoint.

    And given what I’ve seen of Youm 7, this could be tabloid sensationalism and nothing more. The information’s awfully sparse.

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    Acquittals in Egypt Stirring New Outrage

    July 6th, 2011 Comments off

    I’m sure if you search for the word “acquittal” on any news site today, the first 10,000 or so hits will be about the high profile US trial of Casey Anthony, a mother accused of killing her daughter, and who will now be free to join O.J. Simpson in searching for the real killer. But while the US was preoccupied with this ultra-tabloid trial, some other acquittals could provoke real problems. In Egypt, the courts have acquitted the former Finance, Information and Housing Ministers of corruption. (These aren’t the only charges against them, though.) There’s considerable outrage, and earlier, in Suez, police officials charged with killing protesters in January were freed on bail and their trial postponed till September. Suez erupted in protest, and the accused had to be transferred to the custody of the Third Field Army to prevent a lynching.

    I don’t favor lynching, of course, or drumhead justice of any kind. But I do know that quick acquittals on corruption charges in times like these, or letting accused killers out on bail, can provoke that kind of extrajudicial response. Egypt has a long history of an independent judiciary, much debased in recent years by military courts and the politicization of the bench, This not the time for either the revolutionaries or the old guard to flirt with fire. Any judicial verdict, whether vindictive or exculpatory, will be more credible after restoration of a legitimized system of government. Now is too explosive for acquittals and bail, or for talk of executions.

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    Egypt allows two Iranian warships to cross the Suez .. (WINEP weighs in!)

    February 18th, 2011 Comments off

    “… a move that puts the country’s new military regime in a prickly position with its Israeli neighbor.They are expected to be the first Iranian warships to sail through the Suez since the Islamic republic’s 1979 revolution….

    “This is awkward — at a minimum,” said David Schenker, director of the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Schenker said the Iranians had asked for a frigate — the Alvand — and a military supply ship — the Kharg — to cross into the Mediterranean. Both are armed with missiles, he said. Their passage would create more uncertainty in the region. “It’s destabilizing. It raises tension, particularly in this time of transition in Egypt,” Schenker said. “This is typical of Syrian-Iranian opportunism.”..”

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    Israel says Iran warships to transit Suez for Syria (Reuters)

    February 16th, 2011 Comments off

    Reuters – Two Iranian warships planned to sail through the Suez canal en route to Syria on Wednesday, Israel said, calling it a “provocation” by the Islamic Republic.
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    Freed Egypt sailors cheered home

    August 23rd, 2009 Comments off

    The crews of two Egyptian fishing boats who escaped their Somali pirate captors return to a hero’s welcome in the Gulf of Suez.
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