The Week in Egypt [June 16, 2014]

Catch up on the latest out of Egypt every week, with analysis, news updates, photos, videos, and more.

Quote of the Week

“The torture methods used in Egyptian prisons range from physical, to sexual, to mental. The brutality of the police has no limit….Never would I have imagined that I would be writing about this horror three years after the January 25 Revolution. Today, our friends are either dead, injured, detained, stalked by the police or have fled the country in fear.”  Haitham Ghoniem, Egyptian Human Rights Activist and Researcher at the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms [Amnesty International]

Egypt in the News







If This Isn’t Enough Of A Wake-Up Call For Egypt, Then What Is? | Sophia Jones, The Huffington Post

Egypt is a country of contradictions: politically, socially, religiously. One contradiction, in particular, has stuck with me. Despite the country’s sexualized violence against women — marital rape, incest, female genital mutilation, and all-too-frequent assaults in public spaces — Egypt is a country of furiously strong women. Like the girl in the blue bra whose photo went viral after security forces beat her for protesting. The plump woman with strong hands who, despite not having a man to support her in a highly patriarchal culture, proudly runs a corner store and demands respect. And the mother who threatened to leave her husband after he suggested their young daughter have her clitoris surgically removed, like a reported 91 percent of women in Egypt aged 14 to 49.

It’s easy to forget these strong characters when a female Egyptian television anchor laughs about Sunday’s assaults, saying the boys were just “having a good time.” When a male nurse sends sexual text messages to a woman after performing emergency surgery on her, when a father playfully teaches his prepubescent son how to catcall women outside of a Cairo metro stop, and when a military leader, now Egypt’s president, publicly defends forced “virginity tests” on female protesters.

And as I take a step back to reflect on Egypt in the wake of Sunday’s mob attacks, I can’t help but wonder, perhaps naively, if this could be a real breaking point. Because if mob assaults at a celebration for a president who promises security don’t prove to be enough of a wake-up call, then I don’t know what is.”

The dilemmas of Egyptian foreign policy | Nael M. Shama, Ahram Online

“Although Egypt is a political powerhouse in the Middle East, its foreign policy hardly reflects that. Under its longtime president Hosni Mubarak, Egypt receded into a long phase of quietism and withdrawal. Mubarak is gone, but “Mubarakism without Mubarak” has persisted, even under the short-lived rule of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. As soon as he steps into the presidency, Egypt’s new ruler, Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, will find himself on the horns of multiple foreign policy dilemmas. The way he tackles them will shape the substance, orientation and purpose of Egypt’s foreign policy in the near future.

The recent rise of El-Sisi in Egyptian politics revived nationalist sentiments and ambitions after decades of dormancy. Fostered by state institutions and the pro-regime mass media, ostensibly as a bulwark against Islamism, these nationalist sentiments bred a wave of great expectations. In Egypt’s cafes and on television shows analogies are frequently drawn between El-Sisi and Nasser, the leader whose reign witnessed the most dynamic and change-oriented Egyptian foreign policy in modern times. Great hopes are pinned on El-Sisi’s leadership. He will be another Nasser, his supporters wish, taking on the mantle of leadership, defying international powers and restoring Egypt’s wounded prestige in the world.

El-Sisi must find a creative answer to this predicament: How to reconcile needed economic aid from donors with an independent foreign policy? Without aid, Egypt’s ailing economy will continue to suffer, but for a populist president like El-Sisi, dependency on — or worse, acquiescence to — the small oil sheikhdoms will come at a huge cost: diminished popularity and reminiscence of the notorious days of Mubarak, not Nasser.”

On Twitter: Sexual Assault in Tahrir          

Mass sexual assaults on women in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on June 8th have sparked outrage in Egypt, both online and off. A video of one attack was published on YouTube, prompting, newly elected president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to visit the victim, a first for an Egyptian president. Activists also took to the street on Saturday protesting against sexual harassment in an attempt to raise awareness. 

Cartoon of the Week


As high school students undergo exams before the summer holiday, one cartoonist links end of year finals to the beginning of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s presidency
Caption: Your exams started today too. Have you studied?

This Week’s Interviews

Mohammed, the brother of detained Al Jazeera journalist Abdullah al Shamy spoke to Democracy Now! about his brother’s detention and rapidly deteriorating health situation. Watch the interview below:


On EgyptSource