Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Mohannad Sabry

Thankless work of a ‘fixer’ Foreign journalist

Andrew Bossone, a contributing editor based in Beirut and Cairo for the mobile news organization Circa, published this April 30, 2014 

The best journalists in the Middle East are from the Middle East. Thanks for your continued great work Mohannad Sabry, Moe Ali, Nayel Nabih Bulos and for helping me get my first byline in the Columbia Journalism Review

The thankless work of a ‘fixer’ Foreign journalists know they’d be lost, or even dead, without the locals they hire, but do they give them credit back home?

Foreign journalists usually find fixers from colleagues in the area or through online forums and groups like Facebook’s “Vulture Club.” If a media outlet has a bureau, it often has on staff a salaried local journalist called a news assistant. In places where there is no bureau, it may have a stringer who receives a monthly retainer to be on call and feed news regularly. Fixers, by contrast, tend to be employed ad hoc.

I first met Mohannad Sabry in 2005, when I arrived in Egypt for an unpaid internship with The Associated Press. We became fast friends through my roommates, and he joined me in Alexandria on a reporting trip to cover parliamentary elections.

I knew little about Egypt and its players at the time, and since I couldn’t put together a sentence in Arabic, he went with me even though I couldn’t afford to pay him.

Only because of Sabry skills and knowledge was I able to report from inside a polling station and at the office of the Muslim Brotherhood. It was the first of many times I received invaluable help and insight from fixers, the resourceful, well-informed locals who assist foreign correspondents. Most in this region are fluent in Arabic and many are aspiring journalists.

In Egypt they command roughly $50 to $250 per day, depending on whether big news is raising demand. A fixer’s day may include monitoring local outlets and Twitter and writing up a news brief, arranging logistics, securing and translating interviews but also conducting them, and providing background.

In the Middle East, fixers are essentially journalists but, all too often, they receive little or no recognition, even when they are entirely responsible for the scoops credited to their foreign peers. These people are not mere translators who provide a service in exchange for payment.

Our work—and, on occasion, our safety—depends on them. I moved to Beirut in late 2010 to gain experience outside Egypt, but four months later the Egyptian revolution started. I landed in Cairo on January 28, 2011—the “Friday of Rage.”

Internet service and telephone lines were cut across the country. When service was partially restored the next day, I called Mohannad to meet for coffee. The second night of curfew was approaching. We left for a friend’s apartment to spend the night. We stopped for food along the way, but forgot tea to keep us awake, and garlic and onions for the dish we were preparing—molokheya, an Egyptian specialty.

So Mohannad and I headed back to the street near the start of curfew. Vegetable sellers were rushing to restock their shops and close for the night. As we left a shop, goods in hand, a young policeman stood in our path. He cocked his shotgun and shouted at us. “We just want to pass!” Mohannad said. “We just want to go home!” “Which way?” the policeman asked. “Straight ahead,” Mohannad answered, pointing toward the apartment. “Run. If you go left or right, I’ll shoot you.” We ran.

Mohannad told me to go straight. I followed him. Although I had studied Arabic, the fact that I didn’t fully understand the officer’s orders reinforced for me just how essential fluent Arabic is. The influx of print and broadcast journalists into Egypt during the revolution provided work for a lot of fixers.

McClatchy hired Mohannad as a news assistant. Soon he was getting bylines and managing the Cairo bureau while the correspondent was reporting elsewhere. But when another correspondent came in to run the bureau, it was clear Mohannad couldn’t advance further. “I’ve seen a lot of local correspondents who are more worthy of having a foreign correspondent position than a lot of foreign correspondents covering their country,” Mohannad said. “What you need is someone who knows the country’s politics, knows the country’s history, knows the country’s geography . . .

This is something that’s pretty impossible for someone who doesn’t speak the language.” While at McClatchy, Mohannad received a reporting fellowship from the news website GlobalPost for a project to pair and train young foreign and local journalists around the world. It began in Egypt, and Mohannad was chosen as the managing editor. When mass protests led to the military’s ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, longtime foreign correspondent and GlobalPost co-founder Charles Sennott turned to Mohannad to report with him for a GlobalPost-PBS Frontline segment.

“I never could have accomplished my work [around the world] without the help of a colleague—a journalist—who is local and who speaks the language fluently and can work with me and understands how we as journalists work,” Sennott said. “Those people are sometimes called ‘fixers,’ and I put that word in quotes, because it’s not a word I like. They do so much more than fix things. They make it happen.”

Mohannad introduced me to another Egyptian fixer in Cairo, Merna Thomas. As she described her work, I was surprised that she didn’t consider herself a journalist. Like other fixers interviewed for this piece, she suggests how to get stories done, lines up sources and conducts interviews independently.

Basically, Merna does everything short of writings articles. It’s not as if she couldn’t write, though; she was an English major in college. She says she fell into journalism by chance. Yet on her first assignment she landed difficult-to-get sources, like Bassem Youssef-often referred to as the “Egyptian Jon Stewart”-early in his TV career, as well as a member of the “Black Bloc” protesters who disguised themselves in black and were often on the front lines of clashes with police.

“A lot of times, what a journalist can or cannot get depends on a fixer’s personal relationship with these people,” Merna said. “I have interviewed a lot of people who don’t normally give interviews except that they know me and they respect me.” In two years of working with journalists, Merna has received credit in print just twice. She doesn’t ask for recognition, but some journalists have misled her into thinking their outlets don’t give credit to fixers.

Amelia Newcomb, the foreign editor of the Christian Science Monitor, where Merna’s work has appeared, told me it is absolutely not the policy of the paper to exclude credit for fixers. “We leave it up to the reporter,” she said.

Of the outlets I contacted—the Monitor, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Guardian—none have an official policy on naming local journalists who work with correspondents. Some are more fastidious than others.

The Guardian said credit is given when “people have contributed to the journalism,” but did not specify what qualifies as contribution. The Times and the Post provide credit to fixers when it’s determined they have made a “significant” contribution to the story. Tasks like logistics and basic translation do not warrant a contributor line.

Both the Times correspondent in Beirut, Anne Barnard, and the Post’s foreign editor, Doug Jehl, said the work of fixers is essential, and that they deserve credit for it. “Foreign correspondents have always relied heavily on local staffers to help with translation, navigation, sourcing and reporting,” Jehl said. “Until recently, those local staffers’ contributions often remained invisible; now, in order to be more transparent with our readers, we tend to recognize those contributions.”

Naming contributors is a positive step for transparency.

But it leads you to the next question: Why shouldn’t the very best fixers and news assistants be correspondents themselves?

“If I went to the United States I wouldn’t get hired if I didn’t speak the language,” said Moe Ali Nayel, a freelance journalist and fixer in Beirut. “Why is it the other way around [in the Mideast]? Why do journalists get sent to this part of the world when they don’t speak the language?”

Moe lived in the US for six years before returning home to Lebanon. He said that Americans’ lack of knowledge about the Middle East motivated him to become a journalist. Although he still works as a fixer, Moe has become an outspoken critic of foreign journalists. After one too many dealings with correspondents who he says mischaracterized context and people or outright distorted facts, he wrote a searing piece on his blog in 2010.

Moe admits that fixers who are less than scrupulous sometimes mislead journalists, but says ultimately the facts and ethics of journalism are the responsibility of those who put their names on stories. The fixers’ worst horror stories involve journalists on temporary assignment.

Merna said she has worked with many who come unprepared. Another fixer in Cairo told me that one journalist arrived asking to interview “Banna,” or Hassan Al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood—who died in 1949.

Nabih Bulos, who reports for the Los Angeles Times, said a writer told him she was coming to report on Beirut’s alternative arts scene. When they met, she said she also wanted to visit the “opium fields of Hezbollah.” “It’s frightening,” he said. Let me be clear. Many foreign correspondents in the Mideast are performing superbly. (The ones who come most readily to mind, not coincidentally, speak fluent Arabic.)

Too often, though, news organizations are sending reporters who lack expertise. As I look at the fixers who call the Mideast home and are among the best journalists here, I couldn’t complain if I were replaced by one of them.

Says Mohannad, “If you give them the credit they deserve, give them the training that you owe them and endorse them, you will be building fantastic journalists and correspondents that would one day write stories that will win the world’s elite awards.”

Arwa Gaballa commented on FB:
A few months ago, I was fixing for a big-name journalist at a big-name newspaper. I got the journalist an interview with a minister, which of course he didn’t appreciate because he thinks ministers in Egypt just gladly agree to host journalists at their officers for hours. He couldn’t imagine just who I had to know/call to make that happen.
Anyway, we get there, and he starts asking his embarrassing (that’s the politest description I could think of) questions, including whether said minister thinks Sisi is doing a good job as a president! The minister stared at me in confusion as he explained to him that Sisi wasn’t president yet!
I had prepared a list of questions for him, but he dismissed it (after asking for it) and went with his own. The supposed-to-be journalist staying at the 5-star hotel and getting paid in dollars while I get paid pennies was incompetent and awkwardly ignorant of Middle East affairs and politics.
At the end, I got zero recognition of course, even though, like many fixers here tend to do, I conducted some of the interviews.

Bossone Twitter handle is @abossone – See more at: http://www.cjr.org/reports/the_thankless_work_of_a_fixer.php?page=all#sthash.d5yAfJUY.dpuf

Little has Egypt to celebrate this January 25, 2014

CAIRO — As Egypt’s interim president and ministers of defense and interior celebrated the third anniversary of the January 25 Revolution, countless authors and TV show hosts continued to smear the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship.

On this day in 2011, Egyptians took to the streets and called for an end to decades of torture, killings and injustice, but now these authors and TV hosts accuse the revolution’s youthful participants of disloyalty, espionage and call for crushing those who dare criticize the police.

Three years after the uprising that toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt is more polarized than ever.
Author Mohannad Sabry Posted this January 23, 2014
A couple of hours after the celebration aired on national TV — as I was in a taxi heading to Cairo’s Zamalek neighborhood — a radio news program received a call from a top official of the Beni Suef governorate, commenting on a militant attack at a checkpoint on Jan. 23 that killed five police officers.

A woman mourns during the funeral of 5 Egyptian policemen who were killed when masked gunmen on motorbikes opened fire on a checkpoint, Beni Suef, Jan. 23, 2014. (photo by REUTERS/Al Youm Al Saabi Newspaper)

“This terrorist attack is an attempt against the harmony and unity shown through the constitutional referendum, but it will only make us more persistent in our fight against terrorism,” said the official.

His comment was followed by random calls from listeners pledging to join the Jan. 25 celebrations in Tahrir Square and in every major square across the country. They called for celebrations in all Egypt’s squares — the squares that are remembered for being the sites of bloody confrontations over three years of unrest.

Celebrating a constitution that never satisfied the wishes of the dead youth and was boycotted by those who are still alive,” said the cab driver. “What a pity!”

I looked at the driver, a grim man likely in his late 50s, and said, “If the radio audience heard us say that, we would be accused of disloyalty and supporting a terrorist organization.”

That’s why I keep my mouth shut. I wouldn’t have hissed if I hadn’t seen that smirk on your face,” said the driver without looking at me.

I don’t know if the driver took me for a Muslim Brotherhood member because of the smirk, but it didn’t really matter. Members of the April 6 Movement, secular activists, high school students and even foreign correspondents are in Egyptian jails along with hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood officers and members.

The conflict between the government official’s comment on “harmony and unity” and the taxi driver’s confession to keeping his “mouth shut,” summed up the collective analysis of 3 Egyptians that I interviewed over the past three years.

I saw Egypt’s developments through their experiences, along with dozens of other activists and apolitical people.

The first was Mai Raafat, a woman in her early 30s who organized a campaign for securing medical treatment for the victims of the January 25 Revolution. Rafaat connected me with several victims, one of whom I featured in an article I wrote on the first anniversary of the revolution.

Back then, Rafaat’s campaign assisted dozens who were injured during the violent confrontations of January 2011, and provided aid for the families of dead protesters. Some of the volunteers running the campaign alongside Rafaat were themselves injured victims of the revolution.

Speaking to Rafaat by phone on Jan. 22, she wasn’t the enthusiastic and optimistic person I met in 2012. Instead, she was pessimistic and resentful as the revolution’s anniversary approached.

“Some of the victims continue to receive aid from nongovernmental organizations. Some lost hope in finding a job due to their disabilities and others prefer to live on minimal aid than take the few jobs offered by the government or outsourced by the organizations,” said Rafaat.

“We tried to resurrect the campaign in recent months but were shocked to see people refusing to donate blood because the victim we were trying to help was injured in the dispersal of the pro-[Mohammed] Morsi sit-in last August,” she said.

Rafaat’s words reminded me of Gaber Sayyed, a January 2011 victim whose surgery was canceled because pro-Mubarak nurses refused to treat him.

“They were humiliating me for being an [anti-Mubarak] protester,” he told me in a January 2012 interview at his house, where he was bedridden in a thigh-high cast autographed by his friends. One note read: “The police are thugs.”

As for Rafaat, she was in a position similar to  the taxi driver’s: “Isolated, because if I defend an injured member of the Muslim Brotherhood, or am sympathetic to them, I would be accused of disloyalty and being a member of [a] terrorist organization.”

The second was Fouad Mokhtar, a private company employee who paid $600 to print a massive poster emblazoned with the names and photos of slain protesters. His poster was hung on the facade of a Tahrir Square building during the 18 days of the uprising, then pulled down and spread in the middle of the square before it disappeared.

Mokhtar, a 32-year-old who joined the protesters in Tahrir Square in January 2011, decided to boycott the constitutional referendum held less than two weeks ago. “I believe the referendum was a despicable show that I would have never taken part of,” said Mokhtar.

He recalled a story of a non-voter who was attacked by several supporters of the constitution in front of a polling station in Cairo’s southern district of Maadi.

“He was physically attacked by other citizens as the military and police personnel securing the polling station watched, just because he revealed his intention to vote against the constitution because it allowed military trials of civilians,” said Mokhtar. He said that Jan. 25, 2014 “will be a continuation, not a celebration.”

“This is a continuation of January 2011, not an anniversary,” he stressed.

The last of the three people I interviewed — who were all fierce critics of Mubarak, Morsi and the current interim, military-backed regime — is a Bedouin tribesman and Sinai activist who refused to have his name mentioned.

The revered tribesman, who took part in organizing the anti-Mubarak protests in North Sinai during the 18 days of protests, fled North Sinai after his house was shelled in the wide-scale military operation that kicked off in the aftermath of Morsi’s ouster on July 3, 2013.

This man who I met with countless times, spending several nights at his house in a remote North Sinai village — before it was destroyed along with dozens of Bedouin homes in September 2013 — spoke with me via the Internet and refused to reveal his location.

“There is no place for moderate speakers now. The stage is reserved for fanatics and propagandists of the military and the Muslim Brotherhood. The remnants of Mubarak’s regime are waging war on any form of change since 2011.”

He said, “Every drop of blood worsens the situation and further divides the country. Neither the constitution nor the anniversary and celebrations will absorb the anger of anyone who suffered injustice and remains without compensation, if not further violated.”

The last time we spoke was a few days after his house was destroyed last September. Back then, he told me that his house “is not the main issue. I could rebuild the house again, but what seems impossible is refilling the widening gaps between different sectors of the Egyptian people, and other gaps between the people and the state.”

Two days ago, he said he is “afraid Egypt is pacing toward another phase of civil strife, not nationwide celebrations.”

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/01/egypt-jan-25-anniversary-no-celebration.html##ixzz2rQpDzsJJ

No to Sunni version of Wilayat Fakeeh in Egypt

Mohammad Morsi has been deposed by a military and mass protest that lasted more than a week. He had fled from prison two years ago as Mubarak was sacked.

Cartoon showing Morsi sleeping by Mubarak, and Mubarak telling him “Close your eyes and do as I did

The extremist Supreme Guide murshid of the Moslem Brotherhood, Mohammad Badi3, is detained, along with 300 its cadres.

All the religious TV channels are temporary suspended.

Within a year, the elected president Morsi acted as if the executive branch for the Supreme Guide in all the critical political decisions.

Morsi quickly wrote a constitution to the Brotherhood dictates, alienated the Constitutional Supreme Court, dismissed the Prosecutor General, and broke diplomatic relation with Syria at the instigation of  Mohammad Badi3.

During an entire year, Morsi demonstrated to the Egyptian that Egypt has substituted its political system to an Iranian Wilayat Fakeeh, the Sunni version and ruled by the imams and clerics of the Moslem Brotherhood.

It is to be noted that Iran took advantage of 8 years of protracted war with Iraq of Saddam Hussein to manage a transition to a Wilayat Fakeeh orientation.

Morsi wanted this transition to be done within a year, and with no war to back this emergency situation.

As millions of protesters converged on the streets of Egypt on June  30 to peacefully and boisterously demand the downfall of Egypt’s first elected  president Mohammed Morsi, deadly clashes broke out in several spots  across the volatile nation. Around midnight, the Muslim Brotherhood’s international headquarters, located in  Cairo’s upscale Moqattam district, was in flames.

Mohannad Sabry posted for Al-Monitor this July 2, 2013: ” The Muslim Brotherhood Fights For Legacy, Not for Morsi”
The six-story building declared as the Muslim Brotherhood General Center in  2011 — after decades of underground operations and being hunted down by Hosni  Mubarak, Anwar Sadat, and Gamal Abdel Nasser’s security — was attacked by dozens  of rock- and Molotov cocktail-hurling protesters.
The attacks ensued despite the  obvious security precautions taken by the Brotherhood youth over the past week:  they covered the building’s windows with street-war like sandbags, chain-locked  the gates, wielded their weapons and bunkered inside.

As massive clouds of smoke blew out of the iconic Guidance Bureau of the  worldwide organization, the movement’s disciplined, listen-and-obey youth  continued to fire live ammunition at the assaulters. No more Brotherhood  reinforcements arrived at the burning headquarters, and armored vehicles of the  Interior Ministry stood watching from a distance, a clear message that the  police would no longer protect the ruling clique.

Eight anti-Morsi protesters were killed by live bullets, mostly to the head and neck, and more than 35 were wounded by live rounds and birdshot.

Calls for  blood donations to the battle-neighboring hospital continued to circulate social  media websites for hours. How the Muslim Brotherhood fighters evacuated their  positions remains unknown, but one of them was caught by protesters trying to  escape and was brutally stripped naked and stabbed before reaching the police  station in  critical condition.

Protesters seen through a damaged window  from inside the Muslim Brotherhood’s headquarters after it was attacked by  protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in Cairo’s Moqattam  district, July 1, 2013. (photo by REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

Certain that the office-turned-barracks had been abandoned after hours of  deadly fighting, opposition attackers and random angry passersby raided the  building, and looted everything they came across. Stacks of confidential Muslim  Brotherhood documents were photographed and set free to virally circulate the  Internet. One document listed millions of dollars of financial gifts and grants  made by Qatar’s Prime Minster, Emir Hamad Bin Jassim Al-Thani, to top Brotherhood and Morsi  administration officers.

The authenticity of the document was never confirmed but the incident was  definitely reminiscent of raiding the clandestine fortress of Hosni Mubarak’s  State Security in March 2011; the freshly obtained Muslim Brotherhood leaks will  virally spread for weeks.

Surprisingly, thousands of devoted Brotherhood members holding their sit-in  a few miles away didn’t mobilize to protect their sabotaged minaret. Top  officials like Khairat El-Shater, the organization’s most influential  financier and deputy chairman, did not order their subservient youth to march in  defense of either Islamic Sharia or political legitimacy, as they once did in  December 2012 when they attacked an opposition sit-in at the east Cairo  presidential palace, leaving a dozen protesters dead.

“They are in a state of shock, serious and unprecedented shock,” a sacked  Muslim Brotherhood official who worked with both Morsi and El-Shater told  Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity.

“They underestimated June 30, but it turned out to be a surprising blow that  paralyzed their plans,” said the source who insisted on hiding his identity  fearing Brotherhood retaliation amid the ongoing instability. “After months of  undermining the opposition and people, no one could imagine the numbers and  momentum of protests, and accordingly no one had a backup plan.”

The former Brotherhood official says the movement fears a disastrous  post-Morsi future. “They will be hunted down and sent back to prison, by law for  crimes committed during Morsi’s year in power, or in a state of lawlessness that  the country will turn a blind eye on because of widespread and apparent hatred.  They are coming to realize that they will reap what they sowed.”

“The developments were too fast, so that they didn’t have a chance to flee  the country, like Mubarak’s officials who jumped ship early in January 2011,”  the source said. “The military and police apparently locked Egypt up and  Islamists are now on a turf that definitely doesn’t belong to them anymore,  despite Morsi, who is now in a palace that doesn’t obey him, more of a temporary  lock-up.”

Such anti-Morsi developments are not only limited to the Muslim Brotherhood  in Egypt.

The powerfully strategized, multibillion-dollar organization with its  deep-rooted divisions in almost every country in the Arab and Islamic world and  its worldwide businesses, either official or clandestine, is not fighting for  Egypt’s presidential seat: It is fighting for an 8-decade global legacy that  will imminently suffer the aftershocks of the popular quake jolting its murshid’s [supreme guide’s] historical  fortress in Cairo.

“This is a major element in the Brotherhood’s calculation and this is their  greater battle,” retired Col. Khaled Okasha, a security analyst and former head  of North Sinai’s Civil Defense Department of the Interior Ministry, told  Al-Monitor.

“The Egypt command, which is the only global command, has always been the  source of power to all sub-divisions in other countries,” added Okasha. “If the  Supreme Guide and his Cairo bureau are hit hard by Morsi’s downfall and all of  the current situation’s political and social consequences, they will become  nothing but a counselor to the international divisions that will then start  working independently according to their pure domestic circumstances.”

“Egypt’s presidency, the biggest win in the Brotherhood’s history and the  recently yet internationally recognized political umbrella for the Brotherhood  worldwide, will be gone with Morsi leaving office.”

Okasha disputed that Morsi and his Islamist cronies will suffer exceptional  oppressive measures after their much anticipated ouster. “Such exceptional  oppression requires a decades-strong dictatorship like Mubarak’s, which you  cannot build in a few weeks. That dictatorship was brought down in January  2011.”

“This orchestrated fear is mostly Morsi’s last card to maintain his  supporters’ morale. The Brotherhood is leading a smear campaign against every  scenario involving Morsi’s downfall.”

Okasha believes that, legally, the Muslim Brotherhood officers including Morsi, in  case of his resignation, will stand dozens of trials that could extend for  years, a scene very similar to Hosni Mubarak, his sons and regime members.

Over the past week, unconfirmed reports of Egypt’s Islamist figures on  travel ban lists and Qatar demanding the departure of Youssef Al-Qaradawi, the influential Muslim Brotherhood  cleric, have shed some light on repercussions that might possibly hunt the Muslim Brotherhood wherever they are.

The Gaza Strip’s Hamas Movement, the  closest of the Middle East offshoots to the command in Egypt, stands first in  the line after Morsi and the Guidance Bureau, and is desperately trying to avoid  the looming domino effect.

Hamas’s popularity in Gaza and Egypt continues to sink because of their shameless interference in defense of the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi and  creating animosities with almost every non-Islamist power in Egypt. In addition  to politics, the relations between the peoples of Egypt and Gaza were negatively  impacted,” said Ahmed Ban, a researcher of Islamist movements who heads the  Political and Social Movements Unit at the independent Nile Center for Strategic  Studies.

“Hamas should hastily apologize to the Egyptian people and attempt fixing  what it broke by interference in Egypt, if that’s possible, and if the situation  worsens, it could be a start to the gradual end of Hamas’ rule over Gaza,” Ban  told Al-Monitor.

“Moreover, the 80-year cartel imposed by Egyptians on the global Supreme  Guidance in Cairo and the Guidance Council will be ended, possibly moved to  another country, and accordingly limiting the majority of direct supply,  political endorsement and the post-January 2011 refuge for Hamas.”

Signs of Hamas’ worsening situation have also surfaced in the past week.

On  June 30, Egypt’s military deployed tanks at the Gaza border; the first  appearance of Egyptian tank divisions in Sinai’s military-free Zone C since the Israeli withdrawal in 1982.

The exceptional deployment was ordered by the military shutting down the underground Rafah tunnels feeding Hamas’ armed militias with weapons and other  logistics, and it coincided with the arrest of three different groups of Hamas  armed members in different locations around Cairo on the same day, one the  detained groups occupied an apartment close to the destroyed Brotherhood Cairo  headquarters.

“They are in the heart of the Muslim Brotherhood’s battle to defend what  remains of their temple, a battle viewed by Hamas as their own,” said Okasha,  the retired colonel. “Morsi and the Brotherhood’s rule was a special,  unprecedented win for Hamas, I don’t think they will rethink their position and  withdraw from the scene at such a critical moment.”

As soon as the Egyptian military stepped in and declared a 48-hour ultimatum  for Morsi to satisfy national demands, the sacked Muslim Brotherhood member  reached out to Al-Monitor.

“The military just opened a less disastrous exit for Morsi, but he won’t take it,” the source said. “The Muslim Brotherhood is too blind to realize how weak  its cards have become.”

Hours later, a presidential statement rebuffed the military’s clear  warning.

Mohannad  Sabry is an Egyptian journalist based in Cairo. He has written  for McClatchy Newspapers and The Washington Times, served as  managing editor of Global Post’s reporting fellowship Covering the Revolution,  in Cairo, and contributed to its special reports “Tahrir Square” and “Egypt: The  Military, the People.” On Twitter: @mmsabry

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/07/egyptian-muslim-brotherhood-fights-survival-morsi.html#ixzz2XzyAJ18A

Stay tuned on the Egyptians: Perpetual successful revolutions

Since 2011, I declared that the revolution in Egypt will become the trademark of the successful upheavals in this century. And the Egyptians are back at it, one year after the election of Muhammad Morsi. https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/morsi-of-egypt-has-to-deliver-on-his-promise-if-the-people-gather-in-tahrir-square-as-during-the-intifada-on-mubarak-i-will-certainly-step-down/

June 30 proved to be very different from January 2011: This current mass uprising is dwarfing the previous huge and steady uprising. making it look like a minor protest in comparison. Tens of thousands of  protesters spent the night in the epicenter of Egypt’s uprising, Tahrir Square. By noon, the square couldn’t take any more protesters, as dozens of marches kicked off  from almost every neighborhood in Cairo. Until nightfall, masses continued to  march to the presidential palace, everyone demanded President Mohammed Morsi’s  downfall.

Mohannad  Sabry posted for Al-Monitor this June 30, 2013: “Millions of Egyptians Demand Morsi’s Downfall

Protesters opposing Egyptian President  Mohammed Morsi wave Egyptian flags and shout slogans against him and members of  the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, June 30, 2013. (photo by REUTERS/Amr Abdallah  Dalsh)

Chants condemning, mocking and harshly insulting Morsi and his organization,  the Muslim Brotherhood, echoed across every major street in  Cairo as the city was paralyzed by the marching masses.

The thunderous mantra,  “The people demand the regime’s downfall,” was the only scene reminiscent of the  18-day January 2011 uprising that toppled Egypt’s three-decade dictatorship of  Hosni Mubarak.

In January 2011, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians held their ground in  Tahrir Square until Mubarak resigned, but on June 30, significantly bigger crowds continued to occupy the square and hundreds of thousands occupied the  streets surrounding the eastern Cairo presidential palace, a much anticipated  scenario that forced Morsi to attend to his duties from the al-Quba Presidential  Palace, a few miles away from where he usually appears.

Mohamed ElBaradei, Egypt’s 2005 joint Nobel Peace Prize winner and former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, along with Munir Abdel  Nour, the prominent Wafd Party figure and former minister of tourism, and Ahmed  Said, head of the popular Free Egyptians Party, led tens of thousands of  protesters who gathered and marched from Giza’s Mohandessin district to Tahrir  Square.

“Morsi is gone, long gone in the hearts, minds and lives of Egyptians; he is  nothing but a nightmare that we just awakened from,” said Mohamed Abdelhakim, a  36-year-old engineer who pledged to remain on the streets until Morsi’s  downfall.

“Soon, he will be kicked out of our presidential palace; he will live and die  in disgrace,” said Abdelhakim as thousands chanted, “Leave, leave.”

The massive crowd was joined by thousands who marched from Giza’s Boulaq district, a few minutes before meeting tens of thousands heading to Tahrir Square from Giza Square. None of the three marches arrived at their target destination, Cairo’s famous Qasr al-Nil Bridge that witnessed deadly confrontations between Mubarak’s riot police and protesters on Jan. 28, 2011, which today was blocked by crowds that extended for hundreds of yards into the square.

Passing by police stations and security checkpoints, protesters shook the  hands of officers and soldiers who waved victory signs at the marching  crowds.

“Everyone hates him, even his own police who are known for corruption and  brutality; everyone wants him to resign,” said Emad George, a 29-year-old  accountant. He continued, “The Muslim Brotherhood accused us of being remnants  of Mubarak’s dictatorship; we showed them that we are Egyptians, Muslims, Copts,  atheists, even Islamists who are ashamed of Morsi, and how he divided the  country and stood watching as people killed each other.”

In Cairo, it wasn’t only Tahrir Square — every major square hosted thousands  of protesters. Other cities including the Mediterranean coastal city of  Alexandria, the Nile Delta’s Mansoura, Mehalla and Tanta; Suez Canal’s Port  Said, Suez and Ismailia; and Upper Egypt’s Assuit, Sohag and Menya witnessed  unprecedented numbers marching in locations that have become known as  revolutionary grounds since January 2011.

Violence was reported in Upper Egypt’s mainly Coptic city Beni Suef, where  several Morsi supporters led by a Salafist cleric attacked an opposition march  using firearms. One death and several gunshot wounds were reported among  opposition protesters.

Dozens of angry protesters attacked the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in  Cairo’s Moqattam district; they hurled Molotov cocktails and rocks at the  well-barricaded building. Unconfirmed reports alleged that Brotherhood members  fired live ammunition at the attackers, no injuries or deaths were reported.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Maj. Mohamed al-Tonoubi told the local ONTV  cable channel, “Police forces continue to secure the streets surrounding the  Brotherhood office and curb any further violence.” He added, “Several men in  possession of live ammunition, guns and Molotov cocktails were arrested earlier  in a neighboring building.”

Meanwhile, a press conference held at al-Quba Palace, where Morsi was forced  to relocate on June 29, triggered more anger among protesters and the opposition  leaders.

“President Morsi recently called for national dialogue; we fully welcome all  initiatives applied through the constitution and law,” said Ehab Fahmi, Egypt’s  presidential spokesman.

“Dialogue is the only language to reach common understanding,” he added. He  further threatened, “The state will not tolerate any form of violence or  breaking the law.”

Fahmi denied rumors of sacking Prime Minister Hisham Qandil and his cabinet  or appointing Defense Minister Abdul Fattah al-Sisi as a successor.

He added, “The military is responsible for securing the borders, and the  presidency does not need their mediation with political parties.”

As Fahmi read the presidency’s lax message, military helicopters continued to fly at low levels all around the capital, especially above Tahrir Square and the  eastern Cairo palace, where hundreds of thousands had gathered.

Several opposition parties and movements including the Wafd Party, April 6  Revolutionary Youth and Tamarod [Rebelion] Initiative, replied to the presidential  statement by announcing their open-ended sit-ins until Morsi’s resignations.

“In the name of the Egyptian people, the National Salvation Front endorses  the will of the masses that demand the downfall of Mohammed Morsi’s regime and  his Muslim Brotherhood movement,” said a statement by the National Salvation  Front, the opposition umbrella, in reply to the presidential  remarks.
“The Egyptian people will continue to pursue its revolution and  impose its will that was clearly shown in liberation squares across Egypt.”

Hamdeen Sabahi, the Nasserite presidential candidate who competed with Morsi  in the first phase of the 2012 presidential elections, sent a short, loud and clear  message from Tahrir Square. “Morsi should willingly resign, or he will be forced  to.”

Mohannad Sabry is an Egyptian journalist based in  Cairo. He has written for McClatchy Newspapers and The  Washington Times, served as managing editor of Global Post‘s  reporting fellowship Covering the Revolution, in Cairo, and contributed to its  special reports “Tahrir Square” and “Egypt: The Military, the People.” On  Twitter: @mmsabry

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/06/egyptians-demonstrate-in-large-numbers-against-morsi.html#ixzz2XocRXQtv

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/06/egyptians-demonstrate-in-large-numbers-against-morsi.html#ixzz2XocjPgaf

Morsi amends Egypt constitution to shrink voters turnout? Are you voting NO?

An amendment to Egypt’s referendum laws on Monday is banning voters from casting their ballots except in constituencies where they are registered confirmed President Mohammed Morsi. And Morsi is going ahead with the controversial referendum.

Why this amendment?

Mohannad Sabry posted from Cairo on Dec 11. 2012:

The decision to amend Egypt’s referendum law to prohibit absentee balloting seems designed to ensure passage of the controversial draft constitution supported by President Mohammed Morsi

The abrupt amendment of the referendum laws that were drawn by the interim military government in 2011 meant that the number of citizens voting on Egypt’s postrevolution constitution — the first to be written since the 1971 constitution that consolidated Hosni Mubarak’s 30 years of dictatorship — will significantly shrink.

Only 4 days before voters cast their ballots, questions were raised about the intent behind the amendments, as millions of Egyptians are forced to leave their hometowns in search of jobs and better living standards.

The southern coast of the Sinai Peninsula is Egypt’s main example of those who will be excluded from the referendum by the new law.

Some 300,000 workers, who come from every governorate across the country, are employed by hundreds of hotels, resorts and other tourist facilities in the towns of Sharm El-Sheikh, Taba, Dahab and Newiba.

Shortly before the 2012 presidential elections that brought Morsi to power, Sinai’s tourism sector workers threatened to strike if they weren’t allowed to cast absentee ballots in polling stations close to their work places.

Judge Ahmed Sallam, official spokesman of the Ministry of Justice, said that “such measurements were applied to guarantee fairness and transparency throughout the December 15 referendum.”

Monday’s amendment was an addition to the significant legal, administrative and executive failure in planning the constitutional referendum.

The election and referendum laws applied in the March 2011 referendum, November 2011 parliament elections and the June 2012 presidential elections failed to set a minimum voters turnout that if not met the electoral process becomes invalid.

Under such laws, the results of an election process are accepted even if the turnout is only one million voters, a semi-blind process that only sees numerical figures but fails to reflect national will.

President Morsi was elected with about 12.3 million votes in a country of around 90 million citizens and more than 50 million registered voters.

Abdelsattar El-Balshi, a prominent lawyer who filed a lawsuit appealing the candidacy of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Khairat El-Shater before the June 2012 presidential elections, told Al-Monitor:

“It is not a matter of 51% wins, Morsi and his government apparently don’t understand that Egyptians are seeking a constitution that will satisfy the hopes of decades to come. The minimum turnout should match what is applied in parliament when voting on laws.

“If passing or amending a law requires the votes of two thirds of parliament then you should as well grant that to the public who originally elected members of the legislative authority,” El-Balshi continued.

Meanwhile, the judiciary’s capability to administrate a nationwide referendum remains uncertain amid spreading boycott calls by judges and prosecutors who viewed Morsi’s Nov. 22 decree that granted him immunity as an unprecedented violation on the judiciary.

Morsi’s decision on Dec. 9 to annul his controversial decree after massive opposition protests and bloody clashes across the country failed to absorb the judiciary’s anger.

Judge Ahmed El-Zend, head of the independent Judges Club, announced in a news conference Tuesday morning: “90% of Egypt’s judges refuse to take part in administrating the constitutional referendum.”

Judge Zakaria Abdelaziz, former head of the Judges Club, told the local Al-Jazeera Live Egypt Tuesday:

“If the number of judges participating does not reach the 11,000 needed to cover the nationwide polling stations, then the referendum could be held in two phases or polling stations could be combined.”

Abdelaziz denied El-Zend’s claims and called on judges to refrain from boycotting.

No official statements regarding the number of participating judges were made by either the Ministry of Justice or the Elections Committee overseeing the referendum.

On Tuesday, tens of thousands demonstrated in Cairo to either support President Morsi’s insistence on holding the constitutional referendum on Saturday Dec. 15 or to condemn him for turning a blind eye on demands of millions of opposition members across the country.

The opposition’s front included dozens of leftist, liberal and democratic parties that did not endorse Morsi in the first round of elections in June 2012.

In the second round, he managed to garner 7 million of the 17 million votes that originally went to his competitors.

Tarek Hosni, a political analyst, told Al-Monitor:

“All those votes that didn’t go directly to Morsi in the first round of presidential elections will be against the constitution, except for an estimated 1 million Salafists who voted for Abdelmonem Abolfotoh but returned and continue to support Morsi. Those are all indicators that national consensus was never reached over this constitution and that Morsi is turning a blind eye on the opposition, he is struggling for 51% of the voters to pass the constitution, regardless what they represent or which sect of the community they come from.”

Hosni believes that rushing to end a political crisis he instigated, Morsi left no time for dialogue, consensus, or even preparation of laws and practical measures to guarantee a fair referendum that reflects the public’s will.

Hosni said: “And if this crippled document they call constitution passes, it will barely represent less than a quarter of Egypt”” end of article

On another note:

Khaled Abdullah published on De. 15:

Soldiers stand guard as people wait outside a polling center to vote in referendum on tge new constitution of Egypt in Cairo

The National Salvation Front – Egypt’s main opposition coalition – said on Saturday that the number and intensity of violations in the constitutional referendum suggest that there is an intention to rig the vote.

Reports produced by the Front’s operation room suggested that the violations were occurring all over the country.

The opposition group accused the Muslim Brotherhood of trying to “pass the Brotherhood constitution,” calling on all authorities to bear full responsibility to guarantee the transparency of the vote.

It called on the people to vote “no” in the referendum on the controversial charter and prevent rigging attempts.

This content is from :Aswat Masriya Note 1: Aswat Masriya is a free website. Everyone is encouraged to use the content produced by Aswat Masriya journalists, as long as the website is credited and a link back to the website is included. Content from our content partners or Reuters cannot be republished without permission

Note 2: Mohannad Sabry is an Egyptian journalist based in Cairo. He has written for McClatchy Newspapers and The Washington Times, served as managing editor of Global Post’s reporting fellowship “Covering the Revolution” in Cairo as well as a contributor to its special reports “Tahrir Square” and “Egypt: the military, the people.”

Sabry was nominated to the 2011 Livingston Award for International Reporting. Born in Saudi Arabia and raised around the world, Sabry returned to Cairo in 2001 and has been covering Egypt since 2005. Follow him on Twitter: @mmsabry.


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