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Month: May 2013

Why I signed the Rebel campaign

Published on May 25, 2013 Incompetence and inefficiency are not enough to annul the mandate of the ruling president, gained at the ballot box. But continuing the system of torture used by the former regime is Before midnight on Friday, 17 May 2013, I decided to go to Tahrir Square to sign the “Rebel” campaign’s petition, which asks for the withdrawal of confidence from President Mohamed Morsi El-Ayat. This was not an arbitrary decision, nor was it a product of the moment. It was the result of deep reflection as well as an appreciation for the importance of this campaign…

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Islamists and transitional justice

Published in Ahram Online on May 19, 2013 Islamists have recently shown sudden interest in transitional justice. But this interest focuses on revenge, not achieving societal reconciliation, restructuring the police, and ending all human rights violations Suddenly, and in the same week, three of the largest Islamist movements started talking about transitional justice, demanding its implementation at once. Spokesman for the Salfist front, Hisham Kamal, asserted, “Mubarak should have been tried for all his crimes from the start, not only for killing protestors.” Political consultant to the El-Benaa wa El-Tanmia (Building and Development) Party, the political army of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya,…

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Serendipity

Posted on Facebook on May 18, 2013 One of the first people I met when I joined AUC as a professor three years ago was Salima Ikram. I was immediately captivated by her. I am not sure if it was the passion with which she speaks about her research interest — dog mummification in Ancient Egypt — her beautiful eyes, her Oxonian British accent or the animated way she speaks, using her hands freely. And the more I got to know her, the more captivated I became. But I always felt there was something uncanny about her, something unsaid, an unasked…

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Remembering Leslie Tweddle

Posted on Facebook on May 17, 2013 Yesterday, the AUC Library had a memorial service for Lesley Tweddle, who sadly passed away earlier this year after a long and ferocious struggle with cancer. I attended the service, and even though I had not prepared a written text, I did say a few words. I am reproducing them below in loving memory of this great woman. I joined AUC as an undergraduate student in 1981, a year after Mrs. Lesley (as I knew her) had. I remember meeting her in my very first week of my studies, as I joined the…

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My introduction to jazz

Posted on Facebook on May 17, 2013 Sam, so here is my introduction to Jazz, and I thought I’d share it here for its invaluable educational value. It must have been the summer of 1987 in Marsa Matrouh when I met a young couple, an English man and his Egyptian girlfriend. They must have been in their early thirties, and I was just 23. I think her name was Clare, but I can’t remember his now. It was Rommel Beach (yes there is a beach by that name in that beautiful coastal city that the Soviets had ruined in the1960s by dredging an…

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Draft ‘access to information’ law is nothing of the sort

Published in Ahram Online on May 13, 2013 The draft legislation on access to information ignores civil society recommendations and will lead to a toothless information watchdog that is beholden to ill-defined ‘national security’ interests At a news conference on 2 April, Judge Wael El-Rifaie, assistant for human rights affairs to the Minister of Justice, announced that the ministry had finished drafting a law entitled ‘the right to information.’ Al-Rifaie described the law as “a dream we always had, to achieve the goals of respecting a person’s right to knowledge.” As a member of civil society that discussed the drafts of…

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Espionage and historical research

Published in Ahram Online on May 9, 2013 Researchers in Egypt face suspicion and a misguided obsession with security concerns, which is both a symptom and a cause of the country’s cultural backwardness On a trip to London last week, I visited the Royal College of Surgeons, which houses an impressive museum about the history of medicine and surgery from the 18th century to the present. As I have an interest in the modern history of medicine in Egypt, I spent an entire day at the museum and the College’s archives. I was intrigued at how the museum told the…

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