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Month: January 2012

The army and the people are not one hand

Published in Egypt Independent on January 25, 2012 Of the many slogans chanted by millions of protesters during the 25 January uprising, “The army. The people. One hand.” was the only one I couldn’t bring myself to say. This partly stems from my academic study of the history of this military and finding out how much Egyptians suffered when they were dragged to serve in Mehmed Ali’s army. But one does not need a PhD to find out that the army — any army — is a conservative institution by nature, and that a revolution — any revolution — poses…

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The ‘new look’ of Cairo train station

Published in Egypt Independent on January 17, 2012 A few weeks ago, Egypt’s transport minister opened the new Cairo train station, also known as Ramses Station or Bab al-Hadid Station, following renovations that lasted for several years and which cost LE170 million. With much media fanfare the minister was quoted as saying he was proud of all the effort that went into the project and that Cairo can now boast of a train station that rivals the best in Europe. Upon visiting the station myself, however, I was shocked with what I saw there. The so-called renovations are nothing but…

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Women, revolution, and army

Published in Egypt Independent on January 9, 2012 The human body has been front and center of this revolution since the early days of its outbreak last January.  Even though the  leading slogan of the revolution,  Bread, Freedom and Human Dignity is abstract and does not make explicit reference to the human body, it is the 30 dark years of torture, hunger and ill-health inflicted on the bodies of Egyptian men and women under Mubarak’s rule that give this slogan meaning and resonance. In the last weeks of 2011, women’s bodies have emerged as a nexus for many of the principles…

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The real tragedy behind the fire of Institut d’Egypte

Published in Egypt Independent on January 3, 2012 When I heard that the Institut d’Egypte was set on fire on Saturday, 17 December, I did not hesitate to go there and see the tragedy for myself. It was terrible indeed. There were flames of fire coming out from the corners of the collapsing building, the smell of smoke was hovering over the place, heavy and stifling, and demonstrators were shouting slogans against the regime that has not fallen, and against the police and the military council. My phone had not stopped ringing as many of my friends were calling to…

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