Egyptian parliament meets again, challenging army


Egypt’s parliament met again on Tuesday in an open defying to the generals who have dissolved the assembly last month, provoking tensions with the armed forces just ten days into Mohamed Mursi’s presidency.
Parliament speaker Saad al-Katatni, liking Mursi hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, which has got the biggest axis in parliament, opened up the session with a speech aired live on state television.

The military handing power to Morsi on June 30 after dominating the country for sixteen months, delivered a thinly-veiled warning to the president, telling it would go on supporting the country’s “legitimacy, constitution and law” – language that signifies it won’t stand by and ascertain the rulings of the country’s top court disregarded or breached.

Simultaneously, the Supreme Constitutional Court sent a clear signal that it won’t bow to Morsi’s wish, telling in a affirmation after an emergency meeting on Monday that its June 14 dominating to cancel the Islamist-dominated parliament was final and binding.

“Morsi’s act sets the arrange for a possibly very serious political and constitutional crisis,” told Michael W. Hanna, an expert on Egypt from the New York-based Century Foundation.

Morsi, through his spokesman Yasser Ali, took a firm stand in his decision to meet again the 508-seat chamber on Tuesday was an “affirmation of the popular will.”

His presidential decree also demands new parliamentary elections after a new constitution is acquired, something not being expected before the end of the year – in effect according legitimacy to a legislature the country’s highest courtroom ruled to be invalid.

In its dominating last month, the high court decided that a third of parliament’s members were lawlessly elected under a law allowing candidates from political parties to compete for seats which had been set aside for independents. Based on that verdict, the then-ruling military dissolved the house, where Islamists ascertained more than 70 percent of the seats.

In the days that abided by, the generals broke through a serial of decrees gaving themselves legislative powers, as well as control over the drafting of a new constitution and the national budget. It also bared Morsi of important presidential powers.

The supreme court was to rule Tues – the same day parliament was set to reconvene – on 3 cases interrogating the legality of the president’s order.

The challenge over the fate of parliament has disunited the nation just as Egyptians were looking forward to a illusion of constancy after the commotion of the 17 months since the ouster of longtime authoritarian ruler Hosni Mubarak. Egypt has ascertained a dramatic surge in law-breaking, deadly street protestations, a bumbling economy and apparently non-stop strikes, sit-ins and demonstrations.

Some of the youth groups who organised the uprising which tipped Mubarak sided with Morsi, viewing his move as an effort to curtail the military’s powers. Others saw it as another bid by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood to follow its own interests instead of the nation’s.

“Morsi’s decision will give us a huge trouble,” anticipated Hesham el-Kashef, a 23-year-old lawyer and rights activist. “He is overwhelming us in legal problems and it’s all for the sake of the Brotherhood.”

Letters from Egypt: Election Inconsistencies

It is a rarity, particularly in Africa, not to see a leader emerging in election polls most often based on a lack of transparency; however, in Egypt, it is currently anyone’s guess. In the US, polls are continuously updated with analysis on who is garnering which state and other statistics (minorities, women, etc). There is absolutely no way that any political analyst, Egyptian or foreign, can aptly describe the likely hopefuls in Egypt (and if you hear anyone doing so, take it with a grain of salt).
As this is the first “democratically-held” elections to take place in the country, it was also momentous for a presidential debate to be televised on May 9. What I bet you didn’t know nor was it reported was that the presidential debate didn’t even use Egyptian Arabic, but instead fos7a (fusha/fosha) or better known as classical Arabic. I asked a friend if she watched the debates and she said, “I began watching and about 10-15 minutes into it, I realized it was in fos7a and I can’t understand fos7a.”
While many Egyptians can understand the basics in fos7a, the majority’s knowledge base is mostly based on fos7a as used in the Q’aran (meaning technical knowledge is not widespread). Egyptian Arabic is the most widely spoken and understood dialect (particularly Cairene) throughout the Arab world mainly as a result of Egyptian media dominating Arab cinema. So question: WHY WOULD PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES BE HELD IN A DIALECT THAT ISN’T COMMONLY SPOKEN IN THE COUNTRY OF SAID PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS??? Why wouldn’t presidential candidates want the majority of voters to hear their platforms?
The BBC had an article on May 18, “Opinion polls give few clues to Egypt presidential election” which brought up some valid points that those of us on the ground already know. The elections are coming up in three days, and yet it seems like everyone is changing their minds daily (forget daily, it could even be hourly). I’ve seen repeated posts on Facebook that say, “Who is everyone voting for?” Noha Ali told me, “I want to know who the majority is going for because I want my vote to count.”
The Baseera Center has been collecting samples detailing recent opinion polls. The fifth poll, taken May 12, showed that former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq was in the lead, just ahead of former foreign minister and Arab League chief Amr Moussa. The survey said, “Results are based on telephone (both landline and mobile) interviews conducted entirely in one day, May 12, 2012, with a random sample of 2,294 Egyptian adults [over the age of 18].” What confuses me about this poll is how the random sample is collected, which the report fails to acknowledge.
The BBC also noted that perhaps Moussa and Fotouh suffered because of “lackluster television performances.” Was it really lackluster or did people just not thoroughly understand the commentary given that it was in fos7a and again, not even in Egyptian Arabic! I will continue to reiterate this as I am just flabbergasted, it would be the equivalent of watching Obama vs Romney with voice overs in Cockney or Afrikaan English.

Independent candidate and Islamist, Aboul Fotouh is said to be in third place, Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi is in fourth place. Yet previously, government-owned media outlet al-Ahram placed Moussa in the lead with Fotouh, Mursi and Hamdeen Sabbahi following respectively.
While organizations are just now trying to understand polling (it isn’t as though it’s ever been allowed), Baseera Center head Magued Osman noted that the phone samplings could be skewed depending on different variables like during the day, more housewives are answering the phone. Women working in Egypt currently occupy about 24% of the overall job force according to figures from Unicef. Osman also said that a high percentage of undecided voters (37.4% according to the organization) were women and “some of the candidates have recently picked up on the need to win the female vote.”
And while there are some liberal, independent AND intelligent Egyptian women out there, I want to also state that the majority residing within the country depend on their male family members – mostly husbands – to influence (cough cough, rather MAKE) their decisions. And let’s be real, it’s not like we’re going to see a feminist/bra-burning revolution any time in the near future in this male-dominated society.
Below is a Facebook excerpt from an Egyptian friend of mine who is liberal and his reasons for supporting Sabbahi.
I know I don’t talk much about politics on Facebook but I felt the urge to share how I think and feel concerning this matter because I know in my heart and mind this could actually change someone’s mind or get us a little closer to our ultimate goal “better Egypt”
  • Why should everyone vote for this man?
  • Is he really “one of us” and by “us” I mean the majority of Egyptian people, the hardworking, struggling to live (middle class B- all the way to poverty line and beyond) ? And if so, is this the kind of leader we need at this critical stage?
  • Is social justice really the key to social security and harmony?
  • Is this why the new president should be concerned more with poor people and their needs?
  • Why did France choose a socialist as a new president? Wasn’t that enough to make us see the world is changing and if France had problems in this area, we should be really worried.
  • Does he have a clear political and economical strategy to move us forward?
  • Does he have a deep sense of Arab nationalism and what it used to be Egypt’s major role in the Arab region and the world?
  • What about a real democratic system where it’s political and social ideologies or overviews are founded on ideas of liberty and equality between human beings (Regardless of Anything)?
  • What about political diversity? Or Egyptians killed “el 7ezb al watany” to start a new one but with a beard?

This man is really decent, noble and honorable with a long history of patriotism. This is why I’m voting for Hamdeen Sabbahi.

#Egypt. #PrayFORALLMOSLEMS #EgyptMassacre. #Moursi. #StepDownSisi.


Cairo Street Chairs: a journey by David Puig and Manar Moursi 

In one of the many sidewalk coffeehouses which dot the city of Cairo, we met in the winter of 2010. Surrounded by a thin film of rumour and gossip, our first meeting was infused with discussions about the magnetic appeal of the capital of Egypt. A few days later, we met for a walk, and soon, walking in different parts of the city became a regular fixture of our weekend routines.

We first took notice of the street chairs of Cairo in one of our walks on Port Said Avenue, which straddles the city from North to South. “A funny thing about a chair: you hardly ever think it’s there,” the American poet Theodore Roethke once wrote. And yet that day, all of a sudden, those street chairs were there. Not one or two isolated chairs, but one after the other – creating some kind of invisible thread along the sidewalk.

Chairs that arrive to the streets of Cairo are either brand new or used. Sometimes they’ve served in an apartment, an office, or a school, while other times they have been repaired, stitched, and embellished. Despite being constantly on duty outdoors, these chairs age graciously. The curiosity triggered by these ubiquitous sidewalk objects made us realise how essential they were to the everyday life of people who spend a considerable part of their time on the pavement, and to understand the rhythms and the dynamics at play in the sidewalks of the city.

Thus began our “sidewalk botany,” a three-year journey documenting, with a Polaroid camera and a voice recorder, the street chairs of Cairo and the stories of their users.

This was in 2011. Since then, we’ve completed more than fifty walks all over the city, each one lasting between one to five hours. Our walks would start at a point identified on the map and wander wherever the chairs we found on the way led us. Typically, people on the street did not understand what we were doing. Were we sure we wanted to take a picture of an empty chair and not a portrait of them? As friends or neighbours gathered, they would sometimes explain to each other half-jokingly that we were taking a picture of the jinns, the spirits of the chair. “Better looking” chairs were pulled in place of the ones we wanted to photograph. Once we explained that we liked how they fixed and improved their chairs, that we just wanted to document their innovative design solutions, they generally agreed.

Our first pictures were shot with a digital camera. We found the images too glossy and bright, so we tried different options. We concluded that the subtle, slightly washed-out look of the Polaroid images corresponded well to the dusty and unkempt nature of Cairo’s sidewalks. We also liked the idea of having a formal element running through the images, and this was made possible by the Polaroid frame. Finally and more importantly, the Polaroid camera helped to break the ice and dispel people’s suspicion. Once they saw how the camera printed instant images, they asked to keep a portrait of themselves with friends or family. This gift helped to balance our request and facilitated the exchange.

Sidewalk Salon: 1001 Street Chairs of Cairo introduces the reader to a carefully selected assortment of Cairo street chairs curated from our archives. This collection aims to bring to the fore the creative practices of street design and unplanned interventions in public space that give Cairo its distinctive character. A varied set of texts – interviews, fiction, poetry and essays – intend to complement the catalogue of photographs, allowing the reader a more a nuanced view of the sidewalk.  

While this project allowed us to pursue some of our personal interests –walking, mapping, collecting – and to grasp the dimensions of the endless city, we also hoped to shed light on the unique point of view held from Cairo’s streets and sidewalks. The perspective of the guards, doormen, street sellers and café goers who spend a significant part of their day in the intermediate layer of the city located between heavily transited roads and buildings acted as a thermometer held – albeit accidentally – against the capital of a country facing a definitive turning point in its history.

Only 18 days left for the crowdfunding campaign – support Sidewalk Salon!

Manar Moursi’s work spans the fields of architecture, urbanism, design and art. In 2011, Manar founded Studio Meem, an interdisciplinary design studio based in Cairo. In 2014, in recognition of Manar’s architectural design work for Studio Meem, she received the ArcVision Women in Architecture Award. In addition to architecture, Studio Meem’s practice encompasses product design work. In 2012 Studio Meem’s inaugural product line Off the Gireed, inspired by everyday street objects in Cairo, was awarded a Red Dot and a Good Design Award. Manar has also worked on multiple art projects, and her latest photography exhibition was shown at the Contemporary Image Collective in Cairo. Manar’s writings on urban issues have appeared in Thresholds, Lunch, Magaz and Al Masry El Yowm.

David Puig is a diplomat, translator and publisher from the Dominican Republic. He has worked in France, India, and Egypt. In 2010, he launched Ediciones De a Poco, a publishing house focused on contemporary literature and art books from the Caribbean region. While in Delhi, he collaborated with Vislumbres, a literary magazine which brings together Latin American and Indian writers. His published translations to Spanish include the novel Les dollars des sables by Jean-Noel Pancrazi.

Projet de in d’étude.
Réinterprétation d’un personnage fantastique. “Le labyrinthe de Pan” de Guillermo del Toro.

Aucune retouche.

Modèle : Laurène Moursi

Photographe: Serge Cohen.


#Support. #Egypt. #PrayForAllMoslems #Moursi. #StepDownSisi. #EgyptMassacre

Projet de in d’étude.
Réinterprétation d’un personnage fantastique. “Le labyrinthe de Pan” de Guillermo del Toro. 

Aucune retouche.

Modèle : Laurène Moursi

Photographe: Serge Cohen.

Projet de in d’étude.
Réinterprétation d’un personnage fantastique. “Le labyrinthe de Pan” de Guillermo del Toro.

Aucune retouche.

Modèle : Laurène Moursi

Photographe: Serge Cohen.