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Month: February 2013

Academic freedom in the Gulf

Posted on Facebook on February 27, 2013 Tomorrow I was supposed to got to Dubai to attend a one day workshop on Sunday in which the Alexandria Trust was expected to launch “al-Fanar“, a new publication devoted to the state of higher education in the Arab World. However, given the recent decision by the government of the UAE to deny entry to Prof. Kristian Coates Ulrichsen of LSE, the whole launch was cancelled.  Dr. Ulrichsen was supposed to give a paper on Bahrain in a conference organized by the American University of Sharjah in collaboration with LSE. He had earlier…

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The rise and fall of forensics and the state

Published in Ahram Online on February 24, 2013 The fate of forensic medicine in Egypt is illustrative of a wider collapse of state institutions Egyptians worked hard to build in the modern period In December 1877, a woman called Om Ibrahim went to the Alexandria police station to report that her son, Ibrahim Al-Masry, in his 30s, was missing. In her report, she said that she had accompanied her son to Alexandria a few months earlier when he arrived to look for work. Eventually, he found a job at a tailor’s shop owned by a Jew called Hanin Astafan, whom she…

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Tribute to Samer Soliman

Posted on Facebook on February 18, 2013 Words I delivered today in Samer Soliman’s memorial service at AUC. Remembering Samer Soliman Samer was the very essence of duty, compassion and hope. During the ten short years I have known him, he was a beacon of inspiration, a sober, confident voice in times of distress and anxiety. Way before the outbreak of the January Revolution, Samer was constantly writing about social justice, about religious tolerance and about the need for immediate reform. He was a founding member of al-Bosla, one of the more incisive independent periodicals that offered a desperately needed…

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Just who is destroying the state, Mr Minister?

Published in Ahram Online on February 16, 2013 Just who is destroying the state, Mr Minister? The justice minister’s claim that police reform would destroy the state is groundless. It is those who excuse torture that will bring Egypt to collapse On 26 January, a few hours before the sentencing of defendants in the Port Said Stadium case, Alaa Abdel-Fattah — one of the first bloggers in Egypt and courageous human rights activists who paid a high price for the triumph of truth and justice —appeared on a television programme. Abdel-Fatah was arrested in 2006 in demonstrations demanding the independence…

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National security and canned sardines

Published in Ahram Online on February 9, 2013 Nothing protects national security more than responsible citizenship, critical to which is freedom of — and access to — information There is a famous story that is probably more fiction than fact about how Military Intelligence in the 1960s was excessive in its censorship of the media, to the extent that it objected to publishing an article reporting a drop in the availability of canned sardines on the market. Their objection was that while the writer did not mean to divulge military secrets, putting this information in the public domain could benefit…

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A confrontation with Ahmed Mekki, the minister of justice, over torture

Posted on Facebook on February 5, 2013 Earlier today I went to a meeting in the Ministry of Justice to discuss a new draft law for freedom of information. I had spent the past two days studying the bill, and even though I thought it was a bad bill, falling far short of what I think we deserve in Egypt after our revolution. I did my homework and went with an open mind expecting to push for more openness. I met with my friends Nagla Rizk, Hossam Bahgat and Amr Gharbeia in the meeting hall and were all looking forward to a fruitful discussion. However,…

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Reforming the police is the solution, not emergency law

Published in Ahram Online on February 2, 2013 President Morsi, his group and government, have failed to resolve Egypt’s present crisis, and have deepened it. And while the opposition flounders, only the youth of the revolution can be relied upon.   On 28 January 2011, the Friday of Rage, I walked with my friends on a long march from Mustafa Mahmoud Mosque in Mohandiseen towards Tahrir Square. For nearly one hour we chanted what eventually became the slogans of the revolution: “Bread, Freedom, Social Justice” and “Peaceful, Peaceful.” When we reached Galaa Square we were met by legions of State…

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Reforming the police is the solution, not emergency law

Published in Ahram Online on February 2, 2013 President Morsi, his group and government, have failed to resolve Egypt’s present crisis, and have deepened it. And while the opposition flounders, only the youth of the revolution can be relied upon On 28 January 2011, the Friday of Rage, I walked with my friends on a long march from Mustafa Mahmoud Mosque in Mohandiseen towards Tahrir Square. For nearly one hour we chanted what eventually became the slogans of the revolution: “Bread, Freedom, Social Justice” and “Peaceful, Peaceful.” When we reached Galaa Square we were met by legions of State Security…

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