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Category: Press articles

We did not risk our lives simply to change the players

Posted as an op-ed for the CNN on July 3, 2013 Two days before Hosni Mubarak was ousted as president of Egypt, I wrote an article for CNN calling for the Muslim Brotherhood to have a place in the post-Mubarak Egypt. Back then, I wrote: “As a secularist, I am not in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood coming to power in Egypt, and I remain deeply skeptical of its political program, believing that much of it is vague and impractical. But as an Egyptian hoping for freedom and justice for my country, I am deeply convinced that the Muslim Brotherhood has a place within…

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Mr Minister, what are you talking about?

Published in Ahram Online on June 23, 2013 Culture ministers should promote freedom of thought, speech and academic research, not censorship, closure and ignorance. But then in Egypt, avarice and ineptitude reigns from the top One is at a loss as to how to make sense of the most recent policies of the president, the government, and the Muslim Brotherhood. In the latest gubernatorial reshuffle, I can understand that President Morsi would prefer to adopt the policies of the toppled president in designating border governorates to officials from the police and the army, given that the Brotherhood’s constitution had failed…

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Who is afraid of the National Archives?

Published in Ahram Online on June 16, 2013 Intellectuals and the new director want the National Archives to be run by the army. Their reasons may differ, but that institution does not need tighter security, but rather to open its doors to the public The current dynamics at the Egyptian National Archives are truly peculiar.A few days after the minister of culture sacked a number of high-ranking ministry officials, and after he had involuntarily uttered telling words in his meeting with the staff of the Cairo Opera House, in which he said, “I was given instructions that must be followed,”…

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Ministry of culture or ministry of intellectuals?

Published in Ahram Online on June 8, 2013 The battle between Islamists and secular intellectuals over the cultural domain comes down to posts and a false struggle around identity, whereas the real culture crisis goes unremarked Since the new minister of culture, Alaa Abdel-Aziz, took up his post, conversations about the attitude he has adopted to prove himself have not ceased within Egypt’s cultural scene. The minister commenced his work in the ministry with a series of decisions to sack leading ministry figures, starting from the head of the General Egyptian Book Organisation, and then the head of the Fine…

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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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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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The disgusted sheikh: The rise of sectarian discourse in Egypt

Published in Ahram Online on April 30, 2013 Is Egypt about to see a turn to fascism? If recent statements by self-proclaimed religious figures are an indication, the prospect isn’t entirely out of the question This is what a group of friends and I debated in a heated discussion last week. One of them was a British friend who teaches history and politics at a major US university, and who reminded us that a key feature of European fascism of the 1930s was a strong alliance between industrialists and the state, whereby the latter was willing to pass draconian anti-labour…

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The silence of the Muslim Brotherhood

Published in Ahram Online on April 21, 2013 Although the fact finding committee formed by Mohamed Morsi to investigate rights violations from January 2011 to June 2012 found horrid cases of abuse, the president and his backers appear disinterested in its findings Three weeks ago, I briefly reviewed here “Nostalgia for the Light,” Patricio Guzmán’s wonderful documentary about mass murders and forced disappearances in Chile under Pinochet. I was deeply touched by Guzmán’s sensitivity in showcasing the suffering of victims’ families and their relentless efforts to find out what had happened to their loved ones. My intention was to draw…

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