Thursday, March 31, 2011


1) CIRCULATE THE NEWS VIA SOCIAL MEDIA: The more people that know about this the harder its going to be for the American and Egyptian governments to push this under the rug. You can SHARE this note with all your friends, Post the following links to your TWITTER FEEDS #FreeRadwan, FB STATUSES or YOUR BLOGS, Talk about it. JUST DON'T LET THIS DISAPPEAR.

Facebook Page!/free.radwan

Democracy Now


VOA News

AOL News

Daily News Egypt

Ahram Online

Associated Press

Nora Shalaby's Blog (His Cousin)

Tarek Shalaby Blog (His Cousin)

2) CONTACT the media and DEMAND continued coverage, a suggested letter has been already drafted you can just copy and paste it, as well as a compiled list of addresses that is ready to be copied into the email. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS COPY AND PASTE

List of media emails:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Draft email for media:
Dear Editor,

Thank you for your continued coverage of the American-Egyptian engineer Muhammed Radwan, who has been unlawfully detained by Syrian authorities since March 25, 2011. As his friends, family and concerned citizens of the world, we are extremely concerned about his safety and health. Despite all our efforts to reach him, the Syrian authorities continue to deny him access to his family, and American and Egyptian representatives in Syria. At the moment we do not know where he is or what has happened to him during this past week. We are well-aware of the brutal Syrian regime and their long history of human rights violations and fear that Radwan is suffering serious human rights' violations. We implore you to provide as much evidence as possible and provide continued coverage and investigation of his whereabouts. We also ask you to investigate and report on the positions of both the Egyptian and American governments and their efforts to release him. This is crucial not only in potentially saving his life, but in also stirring up the opinions of the international community and leaderships to condemn the actions of the Syrian regime and brutal dictatorships.

These will be of use to you:
Tarek Radwan (resides in D.C., brother):, 001-202-550-5835
Nora Shalaby (resides in Egypt, cousin and activist):, 002-011-447-7757
Tarek Shalaby (resides in Egypt, cousin and blogger):, 002-018-499-4998

3)Mail the State Department. Here is a draft of the letter that you can drop in nearest mailbox
Address it to:
Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

OR Go to the web-site of the State Deptartment
Under topic choose - US Foreign Policy - Middle East as recommended by Jemilu
Then just paste the text.

Draft of Letter:
Dear Secretary Clinton,

We are confident that by now you are well aware of the situation with Mr. Muhammed Radwan, an American-Egyptian engineer, who was detained by the Syrian Government on March 25th. Mr. Radwan has been detained without being charged and made, what appeared to be, a coerced confession on Syrian T.V. on March 26th. His “confessions” include selling Syrian protests pictures to a Colombian, as well as recently visiting Israel. For Radwan to make these completely false statements on Syrian national TV points to the fact that he was threatened by his detainees. Since March 25th, no one has been granted access to Radwan. His father, Abu Bakr Radwan, is currently in Syria speaking with Syrian State Security as well as American and Egyptian ambassadors in an attempt have his son released, or the very least, be granted access to him. Syria has a very long history of human rights violations and we fear that Radwan is being tortured in Syrian prisons.

Mr. Radwan is an American citizen and we call on you to condemn the actions of the Syrian government and request his immediate release. As stated above, the Syrian government is known for its blatant disregard for international human rights treaties and laws. It is unacceptable for an American citizen to be subjected to such treatment and we request that you take immediate action to remedy this matter.

Your name

4)Call the State Department at 202-647-4000 and ask to leave a voice mail regarding an INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY

Suggested Script:
Dear Secretary Clinton,
The Syrian Government has detained American Engineer Mohamed Radwan and refuses to reveal information about his well-being and whereabouts. The Syrian government's lack of cooperation with both the American and Egyptian government and blatant disregard to international laws and regulations make it extremely likely that Mr. Radwan will be subjected to serious human rights violations. We strongly call on you to unequivocally condemn the actions of the Syrian government. Failing to condemn the actions of the Syrian government and to pressure them to immediately release Mr. Radwan or at the very least adhere to Human Rights' laws implicates the U.S government as a potential accomplice to crimes against humanity.

@nevsh Mohamed Radwan's cousin compiled the information in this post with me

#Capitalism is your Nation NOW

Yet another widely circulating video on #Facebook shows a middle-aged Egyptian woman carrying a big plastic bag full of oranges, frantically distributing them to young army conscripts during #Jan25. She beseeches them to not fire on their brother protesters. Which compels me to ask the question: Why would the army fire at its people? I thought the army was there to stop a foreign invasion, secure national interests (Hint: The Nile) intimidate timid African countries, deter a Palestinian invasion and in the case of some natural disaster perform relief work. In other words, if #Egypt was a building then the #Army would be the Bawab*. At this point I can't help but admire the #Army's role in protecting my country. My chest swells with strong feelings of admiration, pride and nationalism, "#Egypt will crush you to nothing if you come near us", "Just you TRY taking an extra drop of water from us, our Air Force will obliterate you". Slowly, my chest deflates as a new string of thoughts comes scurrying along, "Are they really protecting the nation?", "Is this really about nation states?", "If they are then why do they care about internal matters of the state? The protesters are not a foreign invasion, they just want a new regime. Why would the army care?"

Well in case you haven't noticed, nation states are so twenty years ago. Nationalism is done and over (except for of course you know who, who are so insecure about their legitimacy that they over-compensate with excessive nationalism). Nationalism has been replaced by #Capitalism, #Capitalism is our nation now. The #Army is not the Bawab* anymore, its the snazzy security guards, donning state-of-the-art tazers and semi-automatics. These security guards don't have big bulky Walkie-Talkies, they have small discrete transparent earpieces, you know the kind I'm talking about. They are way too special now to stand and guard apartment buildings, they stand guard on these very high-end businesses and projects. But not only that, there's been an impressive incentive program where the CEOs of the security companies can now even own some shares of the businesses they protect or even get the start-up for their own businesses. Over the last 40-50 years an extremely effective incentive program was established to ensure that they will be working harder to make their employees work harder in protecting these businesses where they own valuable shares.

So when the army cracks down on you, as one of their communiques stated there was misunderstanding. the truth is its not a misunderstanding on their part, its a misunderstanding on yours, you seem to have forgotten that #Capitalism is your nation now. The army was quick to react to workers striking outside their own factories, much faster than they were willing to react to #Tahrir protesters. As any good CEO would tell you, PR does matter, at least to some extent, and well cameras were all directed towards #Tahrir not the #Workers. The #Workers were definitely chipping away at the structures that the army was not only assigned to protect, but would also carry some serious financial repercussions on their own interests if productivity was hindered somehow. To the luck of the #Army these impudent #workers were somewhat invisible and thus were easy to get rid of without affecting the #army's PR image. The #Tahrir protesters required a long and careful process of villainizing before the #army could do anything to them.

While its much easier to enlist people through ideological propaganda, its much harder to make people let go of certain power privileges they may have when their own interests are secured through these power privileges. It gets even more complicated when their interests are not necessary the interests of the #Egyptian people as a whole. The #Egyptian #army does not differentiate between citizen and foreign, internal or external, it only differentiates between those who support its interests and those who don't. It is clear from #Jan25 that the #Egyptian people do not support the army's interests, so the likelihood that it will let go of its power is pretty unrealistic. So instead of challenging the army over its power privileges directly, it might be more fruitful to directly immobilize their interests and that is through #worker strikes. The army like any #capitalist endeavor cannot function without its #labor force, and since #Capitalism is your nation now, labor force is your strongest weapon.

*Egyptian term to refer to doorman found in most houses in Egypt. He also occasionally lives with his whole family and provides many services, although his main role is the protection of the building from invasions

This post has been inspired by conversations with @sumayaholdijk and @bassemk

Thursday, March 24, 2011

You Say You Want a Revolution? Well you know..

"IMPRESSIVE", "WOW", "Now I finally believe there was a true revolution" and @ghonim's comment "Egyptians standing in line to get to a micro-bus. A scene we never experienced during Mubarak's regime. Egyptians are changing themselves not just their regime.", were just a few of the comments circulating around a picture of a group of Egyptians post-#Jan25 that had lined up to get on a micro-bus in the early morning. More recently many people were both impressed and amused at what they considered the genius of stickers that one afternoon had been stuck onto some double-parked cars in the affluent Zamalek neighborhood in Cairo. The stickers stated "This (double-parking) is shameful, the country is changing and you are double parking. Start with yourself". This was preceded by a #facebook note widely urging people to start with themselves. It urged people to not break laws, to pay their fines and to not partake in acts of bribery and corruption. The note even included a number for a hot-line where people could call in and report acts of corruption. The economy apparently was ready for rebuilding and people were going to work harder, work more efficiently and work more creatively. Now that #Mubarak was gone, we needed to focus on ourselves and change had to come from within.

Following the referendum, to my annoyance, one of the most widely shared blog posts was @Sandmonkey's Playing Politics. @Sandmonkey's analysis for the supposedly tragic, according to many Egyptian internet users, referendum results was that not enough people had changed from within. While he wasn't implying that people needed to improve themselves from a moral perspective, he was explicit about the reconstitution of people's political knowledge. The failure was because those who wanted "No" were not able to change the people who wanted "Yes" from within. Again, the call was for an improvement to who we are, not just as individuals, but as political subjects. We needed to focus on others, we needed to help them change from within as political subjects.

We can focus on ourselves or we can focus on others, we can recruit and assemble, convince, coerce or raise awareness, mobilize and reach out, regulate ourselves or regulate others, but as long as the same institutions are in power the space we have to effect change will always be constrained. The space for maneuvering within the political arena no matter what that arena looks like visibly or how it is shaped invisibly will always be constrained by those in power. Playing their game, using their rules and on their board, means they will always always WIN. We can sit and play that game for as long we want, but they will continue to place their rules and their regulations, constraining the political arena so that they always win. They will win because they are making the rules and they will continue to make the rules because they are winning.

But who are these mysterious sinister "They"s?. Who are the ones who own the board-game? Is it the Illuminati or Free Masons? Is it a new world order? Who are they and what do they want from us? Unfortunately, because I really DO love drama, all "they" are those who own the means of production and what they want is simply put accumulation of wealth. By virtue of owning the means of production, whether it is land, whether it is a factory or whether it is an academic institution, they are able to own YOU, whether you are making 10 L.E, 10,000 L.E or even 100,000 L.E. Because whatever they are giving you they are making so much much much much more through your effort and labor. Because they own the means of production, and in many ways have monopolized them, means that you cannot go out and own the means of production, so now you have to pay them to live, so you work for them and they pay you so you can pay them so you can get the different things you need to live. So look at it this way, the reason why they are able to make the profits they are making is because there is a single aspect of production they are able to exploit, that aspect is you. You are putting all the work and energy to make whatever product or service they are selling, their under-valuing of your work is how they make profit. Take a minute to think about it, imagine if they hadn't monopolized the means of production how much more you would be making for the work you are putting in.

Okay, okay, I know what I am sounding like, but I'm sure at this point if you are still reading this post, your probably asking what does this have to do with #Jan25. Well, for starters the current institutions in power in Egypt right now, namely the #Army and certain business owners, are mainly concerned with preserving their interests and as long as you don't work for them or you aren't stopping those laboring to make their profits they couldn't care less what you or anyone else says or does. The army will put the rules of the political arena as it wishes with the sole purpose of protecting its interests, which to sum them up, are the accumulation of wealth. So if you want to really get the army to comply with your demands, you don't play their game, you stop the manufacturing of their game. If you really want a revolution, stopping double-parking, lining up for the bus, raising political awareness or even playing a careful and strategic game is not going to do it. The basis of our oppression is unequal wealth distribution and the closed future possibility of wealth accumulation. There will be no social or economic justice as long as the few are controlling the playing field. If we get rid of the army today, it will be someone else tomorrow. If you really want a revolution then if you don't own your means of production be ready to figure out how to seize it and if you are monopolizing and owning the means of production be ready to relinquish your ownership and control. That is if you really want a revolution.

The ideas in this post are theoretically inspired by Foucault and Marx

The content of this post was inspired by conversations with @sumayaholdijk @bassemk @atlemk @3arabawy and @snefru

Monday, March 21, 2011

How a Democratic Referendum Toppled a Revolution

The international media was determined to coin #Jan25 a #facebook revolution at its inception. Following the first mobilization of people on January 25th, it seems that the Egyptian government also bought the idea that it was indeed a #facebook revolution and immediately retaliated by first blocking social networking sites like #twitter and #facebook. When people started using proxies they pulled the plug on the internet. To the surprise of the #Egyptian government more and more people were mobilized, because for years the barrier of fear was slowly, but surely being chipped away, building up to an unstoppable momentum that nearly brought an end to the old regime.

The first cracks of Egypt's barrier of fear started when images of the atrocities committed by Egypt's State security started circulating over the internet, not to mention the reports by human rights organizations, complaints and calls by human rights lawyers for prosecution of those responsible for brutal acts of torture. Finally the strongest power wielded by state security in its ability to remain a hidden and invisible hand was slowly being eroded. The power of surveillance was no longer unidirectional, while the state watched the people, the people finally had the tools to watch the state. Egypt's most ominous institution was now under surveillance. The people's fear barrier surrounding the omnipotent, omniscient institution was starting to crack. Instead of focusing on their fear, people started feeling a sense of anger, indignation at the complete absence and disregard to human dignity that accompanied every interaction with the state's hidden eye and hand of discipline. The man inside the panopticon was no longer a mystery and so the panopticon started to collapse and with it people's fear.

People's hatred for #Egypt's state security apparatus's back-handed brutal methods of maintaining order and stability for the old regime combined with the cracks in the fear barrier became one of the main reasons millions of people were mobilized; calling to an end to regime sponsored brutality and fear production. For awhile, the people became the experts, they knew how to run things, how to maintain safety, how to maintain a semblance of stability for the long-awaited purging of the system, the people had a political vision where human dignity and freedom were at their very core.

Shortly following Mubarak's fall people slowly started giving their new-found power away to experts that told them what the economy was and how it had to be handled, to public figures who told them what needed to be done next and to an army that operated within a black-box to rebuild a nation, while it simultaneously detained, brutally tortured and fabricated charges against those who opposed it. The very core value of human freedom of expression and dignity was slowly becoming eradicated, instead of the eradication of the institutions that were trampling all over these values.

Then came the referendum, while torture and a complete disregard for human life were occurring simultaneously. The revolution quickly transformed into the long and hopeful road of reform. Did we forget why we mobilized in the first place? Was this a case of mass collective amnesia? Did "no" or "yes" really matter? If the same structures of fear and intimidation were still there? What were we reforming, it wasn't the systematic, ongoing torture and intimidation by institutions of the state? That wasn't getting reformed. While "yes" and "no" have their implications, that I am not denying, their implications for changing the very basis of which the state interacts with its subjects in terms of human freedom, dignity and respect is irrelevant. What were we reforming? A constitution that was rendered illegitimate by a revolution? Then why were we reforming it?
When we start to reform and when we start to rebuild we also stop revolting. When we call for reform, we are also saying that what millions fought against has been eradicated, that state sponsored illegal violence was eradicated. Well, if you haven't figured it out it hasn't. The panopticon's hidden surveillance and discipline that thousands have fought so hard to bring down is slowly being reinstated by the army and other institutions. No matter what the outcome of the referendum was we are still ruled by institutions that show no restraint in using illegal, brutal violence and humiliation against its subjects, while 25 million people rush to have their voices heard.
Those of you who have been celebrating the democracy of the referendum need to understand that that this democracy is deeply rooted in an acceptance of the complete disregard to basic human rights.

This post was theoretically inspired by Foucault and Certeau and the content was inspired by conversation (some via social networking) with @sumayaholdijk, @nevsh @bassemkhalifa @fazerofthenight, @yasminb, Aya Sheikhany, Hala Said and Amr Azim

I want to make it clear that I strongly condemn
's stance on refusing to post the videos, pictures and testimonies of those tortured by the army on We Are All Khaled Said . Are those tortured by the Army not #KhaledSaid ??

I also want to add that I disagree with @sandmonkey's opinion concerning torture in his blog post playing politics

While most people were concerned with the outcomes of the referendum, @3arabawy continued to address the issue of torture in his tweets and blogpost

I believe that I speak for all of us who of us who care about freedom and human dignity when I say that we are indebted to the brave people who gave testimonies of their detention and torture and those who collect these stories. Without them this dismantling of the barrier of fear would have no chance.
Testimonies of Torture by Army in English

I also don't necessarily think that the revolution has been entirely toppled thanks to #workers, the title is just for dramatic purposes

Monday, March 14, 2011

You Can't Have Your #Jan25 Revolution Cake and Eat it Too -Part 2- On Food #Sovereignty as a Revolutionary Tool

There's been wide spread panic over the last three weeks that Egypt's food supply has started to dwindle, the continued state of instability and unrest caused by the ongoing protests have been blamed. While the continuation of #Jan25 is conveniently transformed into a scapegoat for upcoming food shortages, the truth is that Egypt's system of food production has been, since the construction of the Aswan Dam and the modernization of agriculture in the early 1900s, on a trajectory towards decreased food production. While most of the world experienced the onset of the Green Revolution much later on in 20th century, Egypt's green revolution started with an intricate scientific restructuring of Egypt's old flood irrigation system to a modern irrigation system of canals and drains, as part of the British colonial project. The new irrigation system would support intensive crop production that would be then appropriated by the British colonizer. The agricultural production system became extractive and unsustainable. The development of high-yield agricultural inputs, such as fertilizers and pesticide, coupled with the irrigation changes that resulted in the loss of the rich clay deposits especially after the advent of the High Dam ultimately stripped away the fertility of Egyptian soil to cater to cash-cropping. The modernization of Egypt's agriculture has eroded the nutrients from the top-soil inevitably leading to the current state of low yields and is the real culprit behind the dwindling food supplies and not the people that are still protesting.

The trend in agricultural yields has been gradually declining, necessitating the increased use of agricultural inputs. With the series of uprising in North Africa, there's been a sharper and sudden surprising predicted decline of 30% in Egypt's agricultural productivity related to a long and complex commodity chain that links Libya's oil production with Egypt's fertilizer industry. Many of the factories in Egypt have currently stopped production altogether (Despommier 2011). The decrease in fertilizer production, considering Egypt's agricultural production's heavy dependency on high-inputs may prove disastrous in this upcoming harvest. To be absolutely clear, I am not blaming Libya's uprising on Egypt's upcoming food shortages. The lack of Libyan oil is merely the straw that broke the camel's back in an already crashing agricultural system. The more complex the commodity chain for agricultural inputs the more vulnerable agricultural production becomes to extraneous political and economic fluctuations.

Egypt's long history of the exploitation of farmers remains unchanged. Whether it was the age-old feudalism family exploitation of labor, or Nasser's land reforms of state exploitation of labor, or the current exploitation by agricultural conglomerates. The means of production whether it is the actual land or machinery is owned by a select few, and with production geared towards profit in a global market, labor remains the only element where surplus value can be extracted. In a system where production is for profit, the difference between breaking even and profiting is really about how much wage the farmer eventually gets. So, by virtue of having the start-up capital the land owner reserves the right to monopolize a means of production, where all the profit comes from uncompensated work that the farmer is putting into the production process.

Whether it is the state, or whether it is the select few that own land, the reality is that the majority of people do not own the means to feed themselves. The state and the large agribusinesses own the majority of the means of food production and are able to derive revenue with every transaction through taxation or services, such as sales taxes, farming taxes and the rental or sale of agricultural machinery. We cannot overthrow such a deeply embedded system of exploitation, while the very way we are able to acquire our own food in and of itself, leaves us vulnerable to the whims of those who's only interest has been profit or control.

Food sovereignty per se, is one way to emancipate ourselves from those who control the means to produce food and also reshape not just the relationship between those in power (who we do not want to be in power) to our food, but also the relationship between the land, sustainability and our methods of food production. When we think of the prospect of producing our own food, the harsh reality of the difficultly to acquire land comes to haunt us, but what if we did not need land to produce our food and we could each grow a few crops to subsist or at least to partially subsist, in a way that could possibly marginalize those who have monopolized our food production, exploited our labor and are constantly degrading the land? Low-cost, sustainable and organic urban farming whether as community farms, roof-top gardens or vertical farms that take into consideration land and water shortages may be a necessary solution to not only address food shortage, but the badly needed socioeconomic restructuring of #Egypt. If #Jan25 is a revolution that strives for #democracy truth be told, we cannot have #democracy without social justice and we cannot have social justice when the very basis of our needs is owned and controlled by a dictatorship, those who have supported that dictatorship or those who are looking for profit.

Reference: Despommier, Dickson. "Ripple Effect or Tsunami". The Vertical Farm Project.

This commentary draws theoretically from Mitchell and Marx, Factually from Mitchell's Rule of Experts, Despommier's blog and lectures by Soraya El Torki, and has been inspired by conversations either in real life or via social media with @sumayaholdijk, @atlemk, Dalia AbulFotuh, @bassemk and @KartikeyaSingh

Saturday, March 12, 2011

You Can't Have Your #Jan25 Revolution Cake and Eat it Too -Part 1- On Tourism

One of the most pervasive, mistimed but no-doubt well intentioned perspectives circulating as binary code across social media and as actions by youth across urban centers is the extremely positive, patriotic, proactive urge to rebuild #Egypt. The calls to rebuild #Egypt have taken many forms over the last few weeks it started off with an invitation to tourists to come back since tourism is supposedly one of Egypt's most important economic activities, which was shortly followed by a call to invest 120 L.E in the stock market, then a call to end bribery and corruption, including a hot-line to call in and report corruption. Youth took the streets of slums and economically marginalized areas, where they started sweeping the streets and repainting the sidewalks. The new sense of pride and ownership many Egyptians have started to feel has fueled this new found love and pride in their homeland. After 30 years of living under an oppressive dictatorship people were exhilarated to finally reclaim their country through the #Jan25 revolution, except one thing was missing #Jan25 was not over yet. The tearing down was not concluded for the rebuilding to begin.

I remember when I was still in school, the back cover of our school books would have a list of bullet-points inside a floral frame with different slogans, "Cleanliness is part of faith", "Diligence in your work is prayer", "Your teeth are the mirror of your health" and many more random and obscure statements that were supposed to guide our sense of morality and patriotism, these statements felt right and felt good. One would often recite them to make a point, but they lacked substance and were infused with unrealistic hypocrisy that failed to adequately address the root causes of many of the problems we knew. These statements claimed a false sense of wellness and goodness if we followed their prescriptions, but when push came to shove, I wasn't really sure how to follow them, what they really meant and what was hidden within them. The recent calls of action and actions to rebuild #Egypt undertaken following #Mubarak's resignation somehow leave me with that same strange aftertaste the empty slogans on the back my old school books once did.

To start rebuilding after a revolution automatically implies that the revolution is over. But when the revolution is not over to start rebuilding before the taking apart is done, in our minds, automatically brings to an end the purging of the old. Underlying The calls for rebuilding are the calls for stability, which bring an end to revolution. Revolution is anything but stable and when we are ready to move on and build we are also ready to stop unpacking. Let's take for instance this idea of calling tourists back, tourism constitutes about 7.3% of #Egypt's GDP. What are we not unpacking when we choose to start rebuilding our tourism economy? All the videos circulating about #tourism in #Egypt showed verdant golf-scapes, exotic markets, empty pristine bikini-clad beaches and ancient monuments. They showed tourists being served and experiencing a luxury that most Egyptians would never get to experience. It is not just limited to luxuries that most Egyptians will never get, but also necessities, take for instance the case of Hilton Nuweiba other than the luscious lawns and gardens awkwardly placed in the middle of a hot arid desert, each tourist is averaged to consume 120 Liters of water in their bathrooms. That's not including their drinking water. While Bedouins in the surrounding area are having problems accessing more than 2-3 liters of water a day. The lack of potable water is not just limited to Bedouins but most Egyptians do not have daily access to water and if they do it averages 1-3 hours of water a day, yet each tourist has enough water to almost create their own ponds. That's not even saying anything about the quality of the water that most people get, compared to that available in resorts.

The Red Sea Coast has become littered with large resorts from Hurghada to Sudan, while most hotels report a 10% capacity, there's been a rapid increase in the construction of resorts. I find this rather disconcerting, the logic rather absurd. Here's a math problem for you: You have 10% capacity in your hotels, so you build more hotels to increase your capacity, will that increase or decrease your capacity per hotel? Maybe I can attribute this idea as a harmless case of bad planning, but what about the beaches, corals, mangroves and livelihoods that have been destroyed through this senseless planning. Many would argue that these resorts employ large amounts of Egyptian #youth, creating badly needed employment opportunities for Egypt's largest demographic. Tourist sector employee wages are pitiful compared to the millions made by those who run these resorts. The exploitation of someone's labor no matter how you frame it cannot be equated with opportunity.

Finally, our whole tourism industry revolves around serving the tourists. Not only are Egyptians second class citizens, the only space of interaction that we have with most tourists is through servicing them. This is not a model based on an exchange of cultural values and experiences, it is a model that is based on a whole nation catering to the whims and needs of cheap package tours. Considering the kind of wages most people working in the tourism sector make this is akin to slave labor. So do you really want to rebuild this, before its taken apart? Because when you want tourism to come back in and you want to rebuild that model you are also saying that there is nothing to be taken apart. You cannot rebuild on shaky foundations and you cannot have stability during a revolution.

This post was inspired by conversations (or FB comments) with @sumayaholdijk, Dalia Abulfotuh, @Nevsh, @3arabawy, Nermine Fakhry, Aya Sheikhany, Aliaa Elieche, @saraassem, @fazerofzanight, Kate Harrison-Muchnick and Elizabeth Turnbull

How to Tell the Difference between a #Counter-Revolution and a Butt-Hole (or how to go from being a reformist to a revolutionary)

The first mentions of the #counter-revolution shortly followed #Mubarak's "I will die on Egypt's soil, but I had no intention of running for another term" speech, that marked the point in my life where I got to see probably what could be historically considered one of the world's largest displays of collective anger (though not comparable to the "I won't step down speech"_. Around that time I remember starting to read tweets and FB posts that claimed that the pernicious #counter-revolution has started. Since then there's been a rapid onslaught of counter-revolutionary accusations hurled by people standing at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, as well as those lying around within the spectrum. Those who want to continue the strikes and demonstrations have been accused by those who fear and love #Egypt and cannot wait to start rebuilding it as elements of a hidden hand that wants to crush the #Jan25 revolution, and vice-versa. Nothing was free from the #counter-revolution whether it was the #workers, the #copts, the women, Ahmed Shafiq's supporters, Ahmed Shafiq's pullover, those who went back to work, those who had decided to stay in #Tahrir, those who trusted the army, those who urged caution in putting faith in the army, those who were scared about safety, security and economy, those who wanted to tear down the current economic structure and prosecute the state security structure, and the list is extensive and veers on infinite. While the different elements of the spectrum couldn't agree on where was and who is the #counter-revolution, they all agreed to one thing: There was a hidden hand that with deliberation and careful strategic planning was behind a malevolent orchestrating of events, ideas and plans to pull the plug on #Jan25. Yet, I would argue that the events and the ideas that have been deemed a #counter-revolution only gain direction, connection and purpose through a retrospective analysis of these events and ideas. In other words, there are many events and ideas that in and of themselves are counter-revolutionary, but the aggregation of all these events and ideas in singular purpose or direction is only through our analysis and conceptual grouping of these events and ideas.

The #counter-revolution has no hidden hand, it is not made up of a group of strategists sitting round a table scheming how to topple #Jan25. I am not saying that many of the events have not been orchestrated or that they aren't counter-revolutionary, I am saying that these acts are random, even those that are planned may not be planned by the same groups or for the same purposes, but they may serve the same effect or outcome. Even if they serve the same effect or outcome that is purely by chance, because these groups may be in direct opposition to each other and their interests may be contradictory and their actions for the most-part may be more directed towards maintaining their interests and an upper-hand in power struggles than have anything to do with #Jan25 per se. In fact, the #counter-revolution in certain instances may not only be a product of groups or institutions, but rather of ideas or boxes that constrain our ideas and imaginations.

The conceptual boxes that literally and figuratively box our ideas are just there, they frame our ideas, but no one put them there, they existed before #Jan25, even before a #Jan25 was conceptualized. These boxes are really just there,they emerged from a long history of historical and political processes. I will not go into an extensive example or analysis of some of these ideas. This will be subject of sub-sequent posts. These boxes are intangible, they cannot be pinpointed but we can clearly see their effects. Their effects are first seen when we automatically have a reaction to something, when we say this is logical. On the one-hand we think something is logical, but on the other-hand we cannot draw a clear line between why it is logical. We also find a strong emotional reaction to anything that may not fit into this box, or you might notice that some people don't even hear it or are able to see it if it doesn't fit their mental framework. The groups or institutions that I previously referred to are also not free from conceptualizing the world from within these boxes.

So, to cut this abstract description short and give a some-what but not entirely tangible example would be to look at the idea of the economy as it relates to #Jan25. The economy is really any group of exchanges between people or institutions that revolves around the appropriation of goods or services. These exchanges can take any form and follow any rules. It is really completely up to us what we all agree on, and we can always change what we agree on. There has been much fear about the collapse of the economy, in our minds the economy is an entity that floats around, but is able to somehow control every aspect of our life. We think the economy will collapse and there will be no food or industry for instance, something many people over the course of the last month have voiced as one of their biggest concerns. But the economy does not control the material reality as directly as we imagine it to. The economy collapsing does not mean that land will collapse or suddenly the factories or the labor that we have will suddenly cease to exist. I understand that these processes are tied to a large global market, but again that doesn't mean that alternative structures cannot emerge, because the land will not suddenly disappear, the earth won't suddenly split open and swallow every #worker, #farmer, factory and piece of land. These boxes I spoke about earlier, or in some circles called discourses, make us create this curious relationship between the economy and our material reality and it seems very natural and logical to us, that we no longer question the relationship between them.

Before I conclude and end this somewhat tedious post, I want to discuss how one can spot the #counter-revolution through a few very simple questions and arguments that one can pose to themselves every time they hear the accusation of #counter-revolution and feel overwhelmed, confused or frustrated. Many people over the last few weeks have reached some sort of paralysis because they feel they do not know who or what to trust anymore, the following section is written with those people in mind. We all know the demands and goals of #Jan25 very well. They were hung in #Tahrir and a simple #Google search could fill you in if you've forgotten, these will not be reiterated here. So instead of searching for a hidden hand to the #counter-revolution, that will only serve to fuel your paranoia, I urge you to take the time to ask yourself a few of these questions to really figure out the difference between the #counter-revolution and #Jan25.

1. When we wait how does that ensure the meeting of the #Jan25 demands? Here you quickly remind yourself of all the times that people asked for waiting and if others had complied what would have changed?
2. Is this idea, action or event in essence really going to undermine #Jan25's demands? Such as #workers and #copts, remember true political representation is important for the true democracy that everyone is aspiring to.
3. The relationship between stability and love of Egypt, and revolution and destroying Egypt needs some specific questions to be posed to it: a) What do you mean by stability, b) what exactly is loving Egypt, who or what exactly are you loving when you say you love Egypt? c) how do you expect stability when you are exterminating 30+ years of corruption, oppression and violence? d) What is the price you are willing to pay when you call for stability? Who's neck are you putting under the guillotine when you are calling for stability? Will you be paying the price or will someone else?

The ideas of this post were theoretically influenced by Mitchell, Latour and Foucault and inspired by conversations with @bassemk, @sumayaholdijk, Dalia Abulfotuh and @3arabawy, and biased towards revolutionary ideologies and #anarchy

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Where is the #Coptic Counter-Revolution? & What You Can Do to Stop It?

The #Coptic Christian protests the last few days have sparked the long suppressed and hidden concern of many supporters of the #Jan25 uprising that the destabilization or removal of the regime would inevitably lead to an all out sectarian war between Muslims and Christians in #Egypt. Amidst this weeks protests/events, many people are nostalgically reminiscing the moments in #Tahrir when Christians and Muslims stood undivided as one. #Coptic protests have been accused of creating a division to the beautiful Muslim and Christian unity that had inspired the world in #Tahrir. So, the question is are #Coptic Christian protests the new and improved, albeit expected form, of the counter-revolution?

The answer simply is NO, they are not the counter-revolution. Coptic Christians have over the last 3 decades been to a large degree marginalized and discriminated against politically and in both the private and public sector. While the subject of this post is not the nuances of religious discrimination in Egypt, I will suffice with the fact that religion is displayed on national Id cards which creates a division in identity on the basis of religion. For decades the Mubarak regime has instigated and inflated sectarian issues, in the same way they did with islamists, Mubarak and his government promised a middle ground and created this idea that Egypt was either on the brink of an Islamist Taliban-style take over or a sectarian war like no other between the cross and the crescent. Naturally the many injustices faced by #Copts in Egypt were silenced like every other movement whether it was workers, Bedouins or human rights activists, and naturally now that people have finally been able to express their demands certain groups should rightfully have their demands made and addressed. This is not a counter-revolution this is part of the ongoing #Jan25 revolution that calls are made by different groups who have encountered certain circumstances that allow them to make specific demands.

So then the question becomes Where is the #Coptic counter-revolution?

The #Coptic counter-revolution is not one perpetuated by the #Coptic protests, it is the one that has disguised itself as those who fear for #jan25. The counter-revolution is that one that claims that #Coptic protests ARE the counter-revolution, that #worker's protests ARE the counter-revolution and that these movements are all part of one big conspiracy to undermine the great achievements of #Jan25. The counter-revolution is using the idea of counter-revolution and branding all things necessary for the continued advancement of justice and equality as counter-revolutionary in a desperate attempt to delegitimize #Jan25. Including criticisms of #IWD events in #Tahrir today, #Worker strikes, continued demonstrations to ensure that demands are met and#Coptic Christians protests.

What can you do Stop this Counter-Revolution?

1. Stop falling for/spreading the counter-revolutionary rhetoric that is delegitimizing #Copts rights to ride the #Jan25 wave of social justice

2. Join and support these group be they #Copts or #Women or #Workers, your presence will counter these ideas of division

#Jan25 #Egypt #IWD Why the Fight Must Go On

I write this note while I'm not in #Egypt wishing I was there for #Jan25, #AmnDawla and today for #IWD. Although personally I do not think that women should have marched to call for their own equality or that social issues should be gendered and the fight should not be about women's rights it should be implicit in the fight for everyone's rights religion, sex, gender, orientation and age. But after what happened today in #Tahrir which was brutal and inexcusable the spotlight has been cast on the issue of women in the public sphere and it has become explicit and the FIGHT MUST GO ON. Because now if that fight would stop it basically means that not the issue of equality, but women as individuals have been effectively pushed away from the public/political sphere. The repercussions of today's violence will haunt the women as individuals in the future and since what was implicit has been made explicit now needs to be fought explicitly.

The first and foremost issue that should be addressed is the issue of sexual harassment: This is a daily occurrence for women living in Egypt that cuts across age, religion, external appearance and class. This is an issue of daily tolerated abuse regardless whether you are going to work, to the "disco", to the mosque or the grocery store. This is a message from society telling women to stay outside of the public sphere. This should be the first and foremost issue to address. I also believe at this point it should be the only issue that women should come together to address. The demand needs to be clear, unity and mobilization need to be about a noncontroversial issue that regardless of how conservative a person is, sexual harassment will not be condoned by anyone. Egyptian women need to call out for first for society to take a stance against this daily public violation and then secondly the Azhar to officially condemn sexual harassment and for the state to officially condemn and punish it (though much harder now)

Secondly, mobilization is the key so things like this don't happen. Mobilization needs to extend outside of FB. University students across Cairo need to be recruited, athletes, the women's car on the metro, the women's section in mosques, the people not on FB need to be reached. It is one issue and we as women are all fed up of these consistent attempts that tell us we do not belong in public and if we are then we will be punished, humiliated and sexualized.

Thirdly, simply put THE FIGHT now more than ever NEEDS TO GO ON. What happened today should not signal us as women and as society calling for women's rights to end, in fact today if we back off now the future of changes will be extremely bleak.