Archive for the ‘ Sirgo's ’ Category

هو أنا بقيت بأشتم ليه

من ثلاث سنين كنت بأتعمد أتكلم  بصوت واطي وأنا بأحكي لأعز أصدقائي عن الشتيمة اللي اتقالت في خناقة حضرتها، شتيمة تعتبر مقارنة باللي بأقوله دلوقت ولاحاجة. في أصدقاء كثير بيستغربوا التغيير اللي حصل من ساعتها، زملاء الدراسة من الزمن البعيد ممكن يحصلهم صدمة لو عرفوا الشتائم اللي على لساني: في العربية رد فعلي لغباء السواقيين اللي حواليا تطور من حمار لعرس وعلق، أول كلمة بتيجي في بالي كرد فعل لأخبار كتير بأسمعها هي احا، ده غير الإستخدام المتواصل لكلمة بضان، اللي شايفها أدق وصف لناس وحاجات كتير حواليا.

التغير مش تغير في الشخصية، لسه الشتيمة جوه العربية و الزجاج مقفول ولما بأفتحه بأشرح للسواق التاني بهدوء أو بعصبية إزاي كان هيلبس كام عربية فبعض، واستخدامي للألفاظ المسماة بالبذيئة محدود وسط دوائر الأصدقاء المقربين ولسه زي ماأنا مابستخدمش أي نوع من الشتيمة في خناق أو نقاش وخاصة مع ناس مأعرفهاش.

التغير هو مجرد تقبل لإستخدام مصطلحات كانت تصنيفها للجزء الأكبر من حياتي هو عيب وغلط ومايصحش، إالخ، إلخ، يعني أقدر أقول إن الحواجز النفسية والإجتماعية اتكسرت أو أتغير مفهومي للأباحة\قباحة والبذاءة.

 السؤال اللي طرحته على نفسي وأصدقاء سألوه هو ايه سبب، ممكن التعرض لـ والتعود على سماع الألفاظ ديه بصفة مستمرة، الألفاظ اللي أصبحت متاحة بطريقة مباشرة أوبالتلميح في حياتنا، في الشارع، والإعلام، شبكات التواصل الإجتماعي (تويتر، فيس بوك)، إلخ. يمكني تعرضي ليها أكتر شوية.

بس كسر الحاجز النفسي المرتبط بفهمي للبذائة أساسه النقاشات أو الخناقات بتاعة الكام سنة اللي فاتوا، بعد كام مرة من محاولة اقناع ناس أعرفها إن ماينفعش تقتل شخص أو توافق أو تبرر قتله لمجرد اختلافك معاه، بعد كذا نقاش عن التعذيب قدام مبررات من نوعية “في ناس ماينفعش معاها غير كده”، وبعد سماع تبريرات لحالات اغتصاب سواء في السجون أو الإعتداء الجنسي الجماعي، الأباحة\قباحة اللفظية بيبقى ليها تعريف تاني، أقل وطأة من قبل كده.

مثلاً يعني ايه أكثر اباحية من عرض بديهيات الإنسانية للنقاش وسماع تبريرات لإنتهاك الجسد سواء بالقتل أو التعذيب أو الإعتداء الجنسي؟ محتوى الحوار في حد ذاته نزل لدرجات أوطى من الشتيمة. هل لمجرد أن احنا اتربينا إن الشتيمة غلط ده يخليها عيب في حين نقاش ييرر الجرائم البذيئة يعتبر محترم لمجرد خلوه من لفظ ما؟ مااحنا المفروض اتربينا على تقديس حاجات زي الحياة، كنا بنتعاقب على الضرب أكتر من الشتيمة وفكرة القتل بالنسبة لينا حاجة بعيدة عن حياتنا.

والموضوع مش مقتصر على الكلام فقط، في مفاهيم ومعتقدات عن الأدب والاحترام فقدت معناها بالنسبة ليا مع كمية العنف والجثث اللي شوفتها، ايه أكثر قبحا من طفل يتقتل أو يتعذب أو ينتهك جنسياً وفي نفس الوقت تلاقي اللي يبرر أو يقبل ده (سواء من وزراء أو رؤساء وزراء أو حتى ناس عادية؟ أكيد مش الشتيمة.

الشتيمة ممكن تعبر عن مستوى اقتصادي أو اجتماعي وأظن أن ده سبب تصنيفها كأباحة\قباحة غير مقبولة في حين نقاشات اساسها تبرير وتشجيع الإنحطاط الأخلاقي مازالت تصنف كرقي لمجرد تجنبها بعض الألفاظ.

الأسئلة ديه دايما في بالي وساعدت أنها تشيل جزء كبير من تخوفي من استخدام الشتيمة، لكن مش كله، لسه مش عايزة أي نقاش بشارك فيه يتحول لشيتمة وبرده مش عايزة يوصل لمستوى من العهر إن أحنا نناقش إذا كان القتل والتعذيب والإغتصاب مفيد ولا لأ.

Five months in news

Here are links to articles and news stories I wrote the past five months.

**16 women journalists on the Middle East front lines

 –Flattered to be listed among these brave women.

Lawyers in Muslim Brotherhood case seek new judges – CNN, Feb 22

Cairo, Egypt (CNN) — Lawyers representing Muslim Brotherhood members in a jailbreak case that includes former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy called Saturday for the judges to be changed.

As has been the case in previous proceedings, Morsy appeared in the courtroom from inside a soundproof glass box, a requirement he rejected last Sunday as a “farce.”

Read more

Detained Al Jazeera journalists appear in court as trial opens – CNN, Feb 21 – With VIDEO

Cairo (CNN) — Three Al Jazeera journalists were among eight who appeared at a hearing in a Cairo prison court Thursday, accused along with 17 other defendants of spreading “false news” and having links to the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt declared a terrorist organization in December.

“Tell her I love her. Big wedding when I get out,” Al Jazeera English journalist Mohamed Fahmy told journalists in a message to his fiancee, appearing in high spirits on the first day of his trial, despite a worsening shoulder injury.

Read more

Facing new charges, Egypt’s Morsy taunts court from glass cage – CNN, Feb. 16

 (CNN) — Deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy on Sunday taunted court officials who placed him in a soundproof glass box during his trial on conspiracy charges, a proceeding cut short by his lawyers’ objections.

“If this farce continues, leave the trial,” Morsy told his lawyers through a microphone. “Those who are afraid of my appearance before the people have no public support,” he added.

Read more

**In second court date, Morsi struggles to be heard from his glass cage – Mada Masr, Jan. 30

Standing in a soundproof glass cage, deposed President Mohamed Morsi made his second public appearance since his July ouster on Tuesday in the first session of what his lawyers described as a “show trial.”

Along with 130 others, Morsi is charged with helping to facilitate a mass prison break from the Wadi Natroun prison in January 2011, where he himself had been incarcerated.

Read more

**Egyptian activists behind bars on uprising’s anniversary – CNN, Jan. 25, With Video

Cairo, Egypt (CNN) — As Egypt marked the third anniversary of the January 25 revolution, many of the activists associated with it were behind bars, awaiting trial, or facing a vilification campaign that turned heroes into traitors.

Meanwhile, the police whose brutal force stoked their anger three years ago vowed to protect the weekend celebrations.

Read more

**Normalizing Conspiracies with an Egyptian Puppet – EgyptSource/The Atlantic Council, Jan.9

Officials from the mobile phone operator Vodafone were questioned last week by Egypt’s public prosecutor about coded messages allegedly hidden in one of their online ads. The video, said to contain a secret message for terrorists, features internet sensation Abla Fahita, a puppet who rose to fame mocking Egyptian housewives who use the internet as their source of recipes and gossip.

The Prosecutor General saw that the report, filed by a wannabe singer and fame-seeking conspiracy theorist Ahmed “Sbyder,” was worthy of investigation and questioning. The prosecution didn’t ignore it like other complaints, including  an earlier request for an investigation into how a TV anchor acquired and aired recordings of activists’ phone calls.

Read more

Egypt’s government fails to end civil strife, terrorism – Al Monitor, Dec. 30

The sight of blood and charred debris, the screams of loss and pain and the rising death toll often leave people speechless, unable to comprehend a thought.

The state of shock swiftly turns into hysteric consensus over any idea that appeals to the crowd or part of it. Probing questions are quieted or dismissed as preposterous.

Declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, even though a court is still to give a verdict to that effect, caters to this reaction and helps in distracting from the unpopular type of criticism directed at the government.

Read more

**Mosa’ab Elshamy: On escaping death and capturing tragedy – Al Akhbar English, Dec. 16

As the deadly crackdown on the Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins by supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi was coming to an end on August 14, word spread that a photographer called Mosa’ab Elshamy was killed. It wasn’t long before the 23-year-old photographer assured his friends and colleagues that it was another Alexandria photographer by the same name who had been killed at the same Rabaa al-Adawya square where he was taking photos. The relief was soon replaced by the realization that another set of strangers were mourning the loss of their friend. This type of tragedy and conflict is what Elshamy is skillful at documenting.

Read more

Prison sentences for women as Egypt clamps down on protest –CNN, Nov. 28

Cairo (CNN) — Lengthy sentences handed down to 21 women and girls who were arrested at a pro-Morsy demonstration have highlighted growing unease over the Egyptian authorities’ treatment of dissent.

The protesters, including seven minors, were sentenced Wednesday in Alexandria after being arrested at a demonstration in support of ousted president Mohamed Morsy earlier this month.

Read more

And follow up here

Also watch Christiane Amanpour’s interview with Alaa Eldin Ezzat, whose daughter Ola was sentenced to 11 years in jail.

Egypt’s old and new battle over revolutionary discourse – Al Monitor, Nov. 21

CAIRO — On the evening of Nov. 18, Helmy al-Sayed carried a placard that almost got him kicked out of a march in downtown Cairo. The words on it and the ensuing argument represented the type of problems march organizers wanted to avoid by holding it a day before the second anniversary of the Mohamed Mahmoud Street clashes and away from other events planned by opposing groups.

Read more

The Nonsensical Distance in Egypt’s Protest Legislation – Al Akhbar English, Nov. 18

Cairo – Walls. Walls. Walls. The geography of Cairo’s traffic has been gravely altered by the cement walls blocking streets to the Ministry of Interior, the cabinet and the parliament, all in close proximity, in addition to other facilities in central Cairo.

Read more

**Notes From Egypt’s Show Trial – The New York Times, Nov. 6

CAIRO — DURING a court recess on Monday, I approached the floor-to-ceiling, webbed-metal cage confining Mohamed Morsi, the deposed president of Egypt, and seven other defendants.

I sneaked a peek past a security guard. Mr. Morsi stood surrounded by his former aides and fellow defendants from the Muslim Brotherhood. They were dressed in white garments, as required by the authorities. He wore a blue business suit.

Read more

Youssef Turns the Joke on His Former Fans – Al Akhbar English, Oct. 29

Cairo – Bassem Youssef was facing a challenge in the build-up to the first episode of “al-Bernameg” following a four-month hiatus. Opposed to common belief, it wasn’t an issue of lack of material after Mohamed Mursi and Islamist TV channels disappeared from the scene. It was Youssef’s own audience, those who had avidly cheered and defended his painful mockery of Mursi and co. Now that they are supporting the state and status quo, and, like their Islamist counterparts, nodding to TV channels whose content is rich in material for Youssef’s show, the joke essentially would be on them.

Read more

Has Egypt Lost the Plot? – Al Monitor, Oct. 14

CAIRO — Posters of Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi outnumbered all other trinkets sold or distributed during the street celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the October 1973 War. The day turned into “Sisi Fest,” rather than a celebration of Egypt’s armed forces, during which a campaign for the general’s presidency found large numbers of supporters.

Read more

National Songs in Tune With the State – Al Akhbar English, Oct. 4

Cairo – Most Fridays, state-owned and private radio channels blast a single genre of music all day long: national and patriotic tunes. Instead of around-the-clock political analysis on the weekend or airing songs that might be insensitive to whatever is going on, a growing library of classic and contemporary national songs has been providing a safe programming choice since the January 25 uprising made Friday the day of protests.

Read more

Few reminders of our simplified readings and writings

This type of articles (The Case Against the Global Novel -By Pankaj Mishra) reminds me that the political analyses that comprises most of my reading material has –for the sake of clarity and presenting well-argued cases under the 700-1000 word limit — fallen in the trap of over simplification. Even the more sophisticated articles we read (and write) follow the traditional structure focusing on a single thread aimed at a conclusion. The layering of thoughts and ideas that often raise questions more than providing answers would be easily labeled as unclear and jumbled. In some cases, that could be true. But most writings available now lack the vigor that stimulates the mind beyond the obvious. This is not to say that the attached article is perfect. The writer’s choice of accumulating examples threw me off at times. It could be me accustomed to the traditional structure or maybe due to actual, but tiny, lapses in presenting the argument. Still, the language and the type of writing is more thought-provoking and inspiring than material available for daily consumption, even by my favorite writers. Sometimes lucid writing is not the best, but some wandering of the mind is required as well.
This also applies to Jonathan Franzen’s Guardian article What’s Wrong With the Modern World, despite the criticism it got.
**While reading, check this nod to literature’s role in pushing societies to conform to “traditions”, “realities” and “ideas” that don’t really exist except in their imagination or perception of how everyone else acts.

In many of the new nations that emerged in the 20th century, literary fictionists were often expected to supply the myths and legends that an insufficiently imagined community needed in order to become cohesive and coherent. The Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk complains that when he decided to become a writer “literature was allied to the future: its job was to work hand in hand with the state to build a happy and harmonious society, or even nation”.

Overdue personal/professional update

Since as readers of this you’ve been involved in the saga of the temporary closure of Daily News Egypt, I assume you would be interested in this overdue update.

The paper, as seen from the last post, closed down after the owning company liquidated its assets. Later, an investor and a newspaper owner bought the name and hired a new team, who are doing a great job covering the confusing events. The archives are there but the stories are slowly making it back to the website.

The old team briefly worked on a new project, Egypt Monocle, but has since moved on to different projects. Former DNE Chief Editor Rania Al-Malky is operating the Monocle. Others have moved to Egypt Independent, which closed down last April, and have recently contributed to the launch of Mada Masr. (Read more about local English-language journalism).

I’ve taken this as an opportunity to go back to the field as a reporter. The few years I spent behind the news desk were challenging but turned frustrating as the events unfolded without enough chances to report them first hand.

Now I blog for Al-Akhbar English under the name Labyrinth and contribute to Al-Monitor, among other publications and websites. I’m also a freelance TV producer with CNN and occasionally contribute to cnn.com (You might be interested in reading & watching this package on Egypt’s missing).

I’ve come to love the freelance work and schedule and the associated lifestyle. It allows me the time to think and get more confused with the events, as you will see in upcoming posts.

The team behind Daily News Egypt – CNN report

CNN interviewed the staff of Daily News Egypt in March. Our women-dominated newsroom seemed fit for CNN’s report on International Women’s Day.

Report prepared by our friend and former colleague Ian Lee.

Egypt: Women after the revolution

http://www.dailymotion.com/embed/video/xpb8nl<br /><a href=”http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xpb8nl_egypt-women-after-the-revolution_news&#8221; target=”_blank”>Egypt: Women after the revolution</a> <i>by <a href=”http://www.dailymotion.com/CNN_International&#8221; target=”_blank”>CNN_International</a></i>

باكره الكذب و علشان كده نازلة التحرير

باكره الكذب و علشان كده نازلة التحرير

انا عايزة انتخابات لكن لا أثق في المجلس. الموضوع تعدي نقاش بين كون المجلس العسكري صادق النية لكن فاشل في مهمته و بين عدم وجود نية في الإصلاح.

أن متأكدة ان الإختيار الثاني هو الصحيح للأسباب التالية التي يمكن تلخيصها في كلمة واحدة: الكذب.

1. المشير طنطاوي في خطابه لم يوجه حديثه للمتظاهرين في المدن المختلفة و لكن وجهه لكل من لم يشارك، و بالذات كل المترددين و الرافضين لفكرة التظاهر والغير مهتمين. و غير استخدامه لمنطق مبارك (يا أنا يا الفوضي) فهو أيضاً تعمد طمس الحقائق لتبرئة نفسه من أي مسئولية و رمي كل الأخطاء على الثوار و كل من قدم مطالب في الشهور السابقة. أهم هذه الأخطاء هو الوضع الإقتصادي المتردي: في الوقت الذي تشير فيه التقارير الإقتصادية أن أسباب التردي هو عدم وجود رؤية سياسية أو اقتصادية واضحة (يعني فشل قيادي)، قام المشير بالقاء اللوم على كل من قام باعتصام و لم يتطرق و لو بطريقة غير مباشرة للإعتراف بالخطأ أوالإشارة لإحتمال وضع خطة اقتصادية.

هذا معناه ان المجلس لا نية له في الإصلاح او حتى الإستقرار الإقتصادي و لم يكن هذا مستحيلا في الفترة الماضية، وبالتالي كلما طالت المرحلة الإنتقالية تحت قيادة المجلس كلما ستسوء الأحوال الإقتصادية. و بالتالي كان الكلام عن الإقتصاد مجرد وسيلة لتقليب جموع الشعب على المتظاهرين وليس منبعه قلق على حال البلاد.

استمرار استخدام الإقتصاد كوسيلة ضغط و إلهاء للشعب هو استنساخ لسياسات مبارك التي كان هدفها اغراق الشعب في مشاكل اقتصادية حتي يتم اقصاء (أو تأجيل مستمرلا نهاية له) لأي مطالب سياسية.

2. المجلس لا يريد التخلى عن السلطة رغم تصريحاته المستمرة و الدليل اصراره على عدم اعطاء أي حكومة أي صلاحيات. كان من الممكن المشاركة المتساوية في اتخاذ القرار و لكن الإنفراد بالقرار و رفض أي اجراءات اصلاحية تقدم بها الوزراء أدي بنا إلى الوضع المتردي سياسيا و اقتصاديا، و المجلس مستمر في هذا المنهج مما أدى إلى رفض كثير لمنصب رئاسة الوزراء لعدم رغبتهم في لعب دور كرتوني هدفه الوحيد خداع الناس بصورة حكومة وهمية سبب وجودها هو القاء اللوم عليها.

3. في وقت الذي اعتذر فيه المشير عن سقوط ضحايا كان العنف مازال مستمرا ليس في التحرير فقط و لكن في المدن المختلفة. و في الوقت الذي اصدر المجلس بيان يعترف اخيرا بكون الضحايا شهداء كان العنف تم تحجيمه لسحل نشطاء و أطباء وضربهم و في بعض الأحيان الإعتداء جنسياً على السيدات منهم و القبض عليهم.

 

 الحل بالنسبة للمجلس كان بناء حائط في شارع بدل الأمر بوقف هجوم الداخلية. وكقائد الدولة، اتصور ان المجلس قادر على اعطاء هذا الأمر.

4. ساعات بعد الإعلان عن بدء تحقيق و الإعتذار عن سقوط شهداء، قام اللواء مختار الملا بالتأكيد على عدم استخدام الشرطة لأي سلاح غير الغاز المسيل للدموع (و حتى هذا تم اطلاقه بكثافة وحشية) و أن المتظاهرين هم من اطلقوا الخرطوش و المطاطي. الصحفيين بالمؤتمر الصحفي اعترضوا و قالوا أنهم رأوا بأعينهم غير ذلك – غير الفيدوهات و الصورو شهادات المشاركين و الصحفيين و الأطباء التي تثبت عكس ذلك (بما فيها تصريحات وزير الصحة التي تؤكدعلى وقوع ضحايا بالرصاص الحي)، إلا أن أبلغ دليل على كذب اللواء الملا و المجلس أن هناك 40 شهيد في صفوف المتظاهرين في جميع انحاء مصرو غير الذين فقدوا اعينهم، و منهم 20 شخص قتلوا في يوم واحد في التحرير. بالنسبة لي هذا التصريح يوضح مدى جدية التحقيق المزعم.

 

و قام اللواء ايضاً بالإدعاء الكاذب بأن كافة الإشتباكات تمت في حرم وزارة الدخلية. سؤالي: هو شارع محمد محمود تم اعتباره من حرم الوزارة؟ الوزارة ليست في نفس الشارع من الأساس. الخارج من ميدان التحرير عليه ان يمشي بطول محمد محمود (متعديا كل مواقع الإشتباك فيه قبل ان يصل لأخره) و بعد الوصول لأخر الشارع عليه ان يتجه يمين و بعده شمال حتى يصل لسور الوزارة. لم أكن اعرف ان الجامعة الأمريكية (المبنى الرئيسي و المكتبة) التي وقعت على اعتابها هي من حرم الوزارة. لم أكن اعرف ان قنابل الغاز التي وقعت في التحريرو الخرطوش الذي دمر اشارات المرور في أول التحرير كانوا من قوة الدفاع عن الوزارة التي تبعاً للملا لم تغادر حرم المبنى.

 

5. في نفس المؤتمر الصحفي تم التأكيد على أن المجلس لم يطرح مسبقاً فكرة استمراره في السلطة حتى 2013 (ممكن نرجع للحوار مع منى الشاذلي و ابراهيم عيسي لإثبات عكس ذلك، غير تصريحات كثيرة) والإيحاء ان تصريح المشير أن تسليم السلطة سيكون في منتصف 2012 كان تبعاً للخطة. للتوضيح اساس الخطة كان تسليم السلطة في ستة أشهر أو بعد الإنتخابات التي تم تحديد موعد الإنتهاء منها قبل نهاية 2011. الناس مطالب منها الأن أنها تصدق أن المجلس سيسلم السلطة (و الدولة سالمة) بعد 7 شهور في حين يتم النقاش بعد مرور ثلاث اشهر من الموعد المحددز

 

الأمثلة كثيرة ولكن هذا كان ابرزها. الخلاصة أن الموضوع تعدى مشكلة ثقة، أنا مقتنعة ان الجيش لا نية له في تسليم السلطة بصورة جادة او الحفاظ على البلاد. اعترف أن لوتمت الإنتخابات سأدلي بصوتي (لأنها لعبة اتفرضت علينا) ولكن ضغط الشارع يجب ان يستمر لتسليم السلطة. المشكلة بالنسبة للمجلس أن أي تسليم جاد للسلطة معناه أن يتم التحقيق في وقائع الفساد و الإنتهاكات و أي تحقيق جاد معناه أن يتم محاسبة كل المسئولين بما فيهم من أعطى الأوامر و من سكت عنها، سلسلة من المحاسبة تصل لقائد الدولة.

انا مابحبش الكذب و بكره كل شخص مستعد انه يولع في البلد او يضغط على شعبها اقتصاديا و امنيا علشان مصالح شخصية و علشان كده انا نازلة النهاردة.

Have you ever seen someone die?

Have you ever seen someone die? Ever seen someone’s last breath? Have you imagined what it’s like to witness this moment when a person dies, the split second when he turns from a person to a dead body? This moment when s/he turns from a person alive with dreams, a person with a soul, to a lifeless body?

When your mind manages to create a glimpse of that torturous moment, remember that this is what protesters in Tahrir experience feel and face every moment.

A martyr just fell at the Mohamed Mahmoud Battle. In heave inshaallah. I don’t know his name, but I don’t think he’s older than 20: Mand0z -10:39 pm.

 

 

Journalists, bloggers recount personal experience of Egypt’s revolution

The personal stories of Egypt’s 18-day uprising is the focus of a new book “I Diari Della Rivoluzione” (Diaries of the Revolution), launched in Italy this week.

The book tells the story of the January uprising through the eyes of six bloggers and journalists and the material they wrote during the 18 days or immediately after. A narrative evolves, as paths intersect and perspectives change, interweaving the personal experiences with the political upheaval and nationwide protests.

The story goes beyond Tahrir Square and the protests, to draw a broader picture of Cairo at the time. Spanning the period between Jan. 25 and Feb. 11, the book ends as another lengthier chapter in Egypt’s ongoing revolution starts.

It features activist and consultant Mahmoud Salem, aka Sandmonkey; journalist and development policy consultant Mohamed El-Dahshan; web designer and social media consultant Tarek Shalaby; science journalist and adventurer Nadia Al-Awady; business journalist and writer Amira Salah-Ahmed; and journalist Sarah El Sirgany.

El Sirgany and Ahmed are both editors at Daily News Egypt.

The book was compiled by El Sirgany. Italian journalist and editor at Corriere della Serra Viviana Mazza wrote the preface and Egyptian activist and journalist Hossam El-Hamalawy wrote the introduction.

Mazza, El Sirgany and El-Hamalawy celebrated the first launch of the book at the Internazionale Festival in Ferrara. Days earlier El-Hamalawy was awarded the Anna Politkovskaja journalism award at the same festival.

Internazionale, an Italian magazine, brings together journalists, writers and artists to the small north Italian city every year for a festival combining literature and world affairs. Its 2011 agenda featured a panel on Egypt’s political affairs post-Jan. 25, featuring El-Hamalawy, El Sirgany, journalist Issandr El Amrani and writer Ahmed Naje.

The launch of the book was also celebrated in Milan and Rome, where the publisher Fandango Libri is based.

The book had initially started as a series of columns written by El Sirgany in January and February 2011, for the Italian daily Corriere della Sera. Translated into Italian by Mazza, the columns were then developed, with the help of literary agent Maria Cristina Guerra, into the book’s current format, a multi-perspective personal narrative of Egypt’s iconic uprising.

As published by Daily News Egypt.

Buy the book.

Kahk: It’s not about eating; it’s all in the making

Most, if not all, holidays and celebrations in Egypt are associated with food. While this might indicate a gastronomically obsessive culture, it wasn’t always the case. The different holiday foods were all about the process of making them, not just the eating. Or that’s how it was for my family at least.

I had a traditional grandmother; traditional in the sense that everything had to be made from scratch. And it was made collectively. Many of my earliest memories of my grandma’s house are of my mother, my aunts and sometimes family friends led by grandma in an extensive session of food making. Lemons were pickled with saffron; each lemon half cut into four and stuffed with the herbs. The katayef batter was made at home to be stuffed with nuts and fried later on. And of course, my fondest memory is of the week preceding every Ramadan, when the family got together to make the Kahk, the ghorayeba, the petits fours and the biscuits. The Eid cookies.

As children, we were given dough to play with, while our mothers worked on stirring, mixing, shaping and baking. At the time, we were oblivious to the fact that a kahk making industry existed; that kahk was sold in shops to people who didn’t make them. And when we realized this, we dismissively ignored the ready-made kahk. Simply, its taste didn’t compare to our grandma’s that everyone we knew waited for.

It was only after my grandma fell ill and was too weak to lead the process that we stopped. Knowing how stubborn she was, the family decided against making the kahk (a tradition exclusive to her home) in fear that she would insist on joining. And for two years after her death, her daughters, in the spirit of mourning, refrained from making kahk, which in essence is a celebratory food.

This year, my cousins and I managed to convince our mothers to revive what we proudly referred to as our family tradition. We wanted our delicious unrivaled kahk back. But most importantly, we wanted to revive our grandma’s legacy. She always worked to make other people happy, whether by standing by their side when they needed her or by simply making their favorite foods. And her recipes were well kept treasures.

We rolled our sleeves for the work to come. For a week before the agreed weekend, my mother kept experimenting with ingredients to get the right mix and the exact time it needs in the oven. And last Friday, the women of the family came to our house and the work kicked off. It was a laborious process that stretched over four days, with stirring, mixing, kneading, filling, shaping and tasting on repeat. There were stories shared over hours of preparing trays of kahk and biscuits and an overall sense of gratification to be doing this again.

I have to admit that seeing the sheer amount of butter, sugar and flour used — that would make each health-conscious, calorie-counting person cringe — I had my doubts about eating what we were producing. But that was only temporarily.

The process was also tiring, but it provided an already tight family a chance to bond even more. I hope to do it again next year, not just for the soft kahk sprinkled with powdered sugar I’ve been devouring, but for everything this tradition means and exudes and for holding dearly at its core the memory of my grandmother. It’s one tradition I’d hate to lose.

Tweetup & Open Mic Night this Friday

Now there are two regular events that I look forward to in Cairo: the Open Mic Night (which was held before at Makan) and the Cairo Tweetup. This month, both are happening on the same night. But the good news is that both are happening at the same place: Darb 1718.

Like Jelly are performing (I said next time they go on stage I’d be there). And on the comedy side Ahmed Al-Mojadidi is making his debut (I guess). I haven’t seen him on stage before, but I’ve met him a couple of times and he’s HILARIOUS.

According to Mo-ha-med, Tweetup Guru, you can call Mojadidi ‘Dodi’, even though he might not like it. But you have to do what Mo says anyway. No questions asked or you’ll be banished from Tweetup Heaven.

So here you go, you can rediscover and support local talent while meeting very interesting tweeps, all at the same time.

We’ll be the geeks with the name tags. We wear them with pride.

Come along and say hi.

For more info, check the Facebook event or Mo’s blog post. And here’s the map.

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