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RANYA KHALIFA: "Democracy Digest"...

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This blog is a personal quest from me to anyone out there who is interested in making Egypt a more efficient and human-friendly country, given our January 25th revolution which is paving the way for our transition to a true democracy.....I believe in Laws that are just, taking into account the plight of citizens who cannot speak for themselves out of poverty, illiteracy, or lack of a medium to get their voices heard.

Being an Egyptian with a western education, has given me the chance of seeing life from both prisms.  It is a privilege and yet a burden to explain two sides of a story all the time!! But, I am sure such is the plight of many people in this world who have a foot in both the oriental and the western culture.

My blog is designed to shed light on the myriad of issues that Egypt's economy, culture, and people will have to go through as they transition to democracy, as well as the plight of many Egyptians who cannot get their voices out to the media.  I want to try to put my knowledge to use whereby this blog could speak out on behalf of the underprivileged as well as minority groups in Egypt. 

My utmost objective is that this blog actively takes part in Egypt's post-revolution transition (and beyond) whereby readers all over the world gain insight into the real lives of Egyptians; be they poor, middle class, or elite Egyptians.  Egyptians are all in this ship together and it is up to us to steer it in the right direction, battling the high waves and dire straits that we will surely face on our route to democracy.... 

I envision a democracy where every citizen is respected, and is also an active participant in Egypt's progress...and where every leader is responsive to the people and is held accountable by these very same people.

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To dye or not to dye?? Is that the question?

Posted on April 17, 2011 at 5:16 AM Comments comments (0)

While Egypt struggles to navigate its way through dire economic and political straits, the Egyptian media has become obsessed with a ridiculous detail: was Mubarak's hair dyed jet-black or was it white during the hospital interrogations at Sharm El Sheikh hospital??


The Egyptian media never ceases to surprise and alarm me!! As if this minute detail is what will make or break public opinion!! I wish the media would concentrate on details that really matter like whether we can actually realize Dr. Farouk El Baz's major developmental project, "Mamar El Tanmiya" or whether we can create new jobs for the unemployed and provide housing for the homeless!! Or perhaps relocate the millions who dwell in Cairo's slums??


Surely, to dye or not to dye, is not a valid question.  By the way, I personally saw a picture of Mubarak with snow-white hair during the interrogations, while another article stated that his hair was jet-black during the interrogations....so even if you wanted to know the truth, you won't get it because these days you never know the truth anymore with Egyptian newspapers...


There's your chatter galore for the day!!!



"political fear" syndrome...

Posted on April 16, 2011 at 4:03 AM Comments comments (0)

Yes! The Revolution has succeeded in toppling and imprisoning Hosni Mubarak and his regime in a span of two and a half months.  But, that does not mean that Egyptians wake up every morning surfing the web for political parties to join or for civil society NGO's and organizations to volunteer for.  Should this come as any surprise after 60 years of political apathy and the almost complete absence of a functional civil society?


Would it not be great if all Egyptians enrolled in a "Democracy 101" course where they learn about the fundamental principles of democracy and civil society?  I wish there was a "crash course" all of us could take that would bring us into the 21st century of world politics.  After decades of political paralysis, it would indeed be naive on our part to think that the vast majority of Egyptians would be galvanized into political participation.  After all, the state security apparatus did so much to destroy the very fabric of Egyptian interest in politics, not because Egyptians have a low IQ, but because we feared "participation" with all that it entails.


On a personal level, I actually am debating the merits of a specific political party, but a certain "fear" inside me keeps stalling my determination to actually go to the party headquarters and fill out the application.  A part of me senses a real and palpable "fear" that I may be tracked down, followed or hurt in some way or another.  I can't seem to shake that sensation off.  I keep telling myself that this is a new "era in Egyptian modern history" and that we all need to partake in the future structure of our country.  But, after years of having so many political detainees, torture and illegal phone tapping, my mind is still struggling with the new reality of "political freedom".


It could be that the political situation in Egypt is still very fluid and that the picture is murky (to say the least).  But, even so, this very situation may be the one that should compel us to act NOW, as opposed to postponing our political participation till later.  We all need to clear our conscience and to give Egypt our best shot.  Wouldn't it be more prudent to say that we gave it our all instead of maintaining a "wait and see" approach where things don't go our way?  We will only have ourselves to blame...

My Mentor and I...

Posted on April 15, 2011 at 5:17 AM Comments comments (0)

Dear readers,


I have decided to dedicate my first blog entry under this category "Towards a Functional Civil Society", to my Mentor, who first introduced me to the term "civil society" back in 1996...


I was studying for a Masters Degree in Middle East studies at The American University in Cairo (AUC), and my Mentor called me into his office to discuss my paper entitled  "Copts in Egypt".  He was impressed that I chose to write about Copts and whether or not they were facing any discrimination in the workplace as well as in their religious practices etc.  He encouraged me to interview prominent Copts in Cairo and to include their words verbatim in my paper. I did just that.  Then a discussion ensued between my Mentor and I.  The following is a true encounter, yet entirely rephrased, based on my memory of that particular discussion:


Me: "Why is it that we cannot all be treated equally in Egypt, whether Muslim or Copt? And why is it that Egypt is ruled with such an iron fist, unlike the United States which enjoys such admirable freedom of expression and equal rights?"


Mentor: "Egypt doesn't want democracy, it is not allowed here in order to protect the regime.  They have to clamp down on anyone who dares utter the word "democracy".


Me: "How is it that we can bring about democracy, without threatening the regime? Is it possible to slowly introduce democratic principles to an authoritarian regime such as ours?"


Mentor: "That's exactly what I am trying to do. Look over at the table behind you.  There's a stack of magazines with an olive-green cover.  Grab a copy and read it.  Tell me what you think..."


Me: I look at the multiple stacks of magazines and books stacked neatly on my Mentor's table.  I come across the stack with the olive-green color.  The magazine is entitled "Civil Society".  I look at my Mentor, startled, confused and feeling a little ignorant.  After all, I was an "A" student in his class and I didn't want to look so lost for words..."Ah! "Civil Society"...what exactly does that mean?"


Mentor: "That's the mechanism that ensures that the people have some form of power over their lives, away from the country's government and executive branches.  Civil society includes NGO's, syndicates, labor unions, etc..."


Me: "Oh! I never heard that term before.  Are you allowed to publish this magazine?"


Mentor: "No, but I am doing it anyway.  I am publishing it out of my own pocket.  Ranya, the people have the right to a civil society and that's the building block for them to know their civil rights".


Little did I know that my Mentor would be jailed roughly ten years after this discussion. The Mubarak regime didn't appreciate his calls for civil society or for democracy.  After his release, my Mentor left Egypt and continued his calls for democracy from abroad. 


The Mubarak regime is now gone....and my Mentor is returning to Egypt...next month.

Porto Torah...

Posted on April 14, 2011 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Today's chatter revolves around what may be happening behind the prison cell doors in Torah prison in Helwan.  Some people actually believe that a counter-revolution may be in the works as a "shadow government" lurks and plots to overthrow the Jan.25th Revolution and what it has reaped so far in terms of freedom and the Revolution's democratic blue-print from here onwards...

It is humor at its peak to hear Egyptians now referring to the notorious Torah Prison as Porto Torah or Torah Land...a reflection of the recreational resorts that only the affluent had any access to during the days of the past regime!!

That's your Chatter's Galore for the day!!


The price of tomatoes...

Posted on April 13, 2011 at 7:19 AM Comments comments (0)

Yes! It has been confirmed that the price of tomatoes today in Heliopolis is cheaper than it is in Al Haram!! While the cost in Heliopolis is 5 L.E. , it is reportedly 6 L.E. in Al Haram....


That's today's Chatter fact!!!!

Mubarak and his sons are held in prison pending further investigations...

Posted on April 13, 2011 at 6:45 AM Comments comments (1)

We all woke up to the news that former president Mubarak and his two sons were being detained for 15 days pending further investigations.  Some people celebrated while others continue to question whether or not Mubarak will actually be given a prison sentence...such conflicting sentiments will continue and poliarization within the Egyptian community is bound to intensify as parliamentary elections loom closer...

What the Egyptian people should be focusing on now is how to ensure that the masses are educated enough to vote in September and I urge Egyptians to make thier views known by acting on them and joining a political party that best reflects their beliefs and convictions.  I truly understand what 30 years of poltiical apathy has done to the Egyptian people, but I also know that the January 25th Revolution has done so much to reverse and jump-start our "electoral engines". 

Many of us still live under an intangible fear that political activism could put us in trouble, but I believe that Egypt has indeed changed...it may not be the complete change yet that we all dream of, but for sure what Egypt has achieved in the past two months is a "freedom tsunami" that has shaken the very foundation of Egyptian contemporary politics.  We may not yet realize it, but the fact that Mubarak and his sons are being put on trial is another earthquake that is sweeping across the entire region, let alone Egypt. 

The fact that we have a "former president" who is facing trial is testament to the world that former presidents need not be killed or exiled anymore.  Former presidents will be held accountable by their people in a court of law...that's the route to a democratic, civil state....

News that the former president admitted to hospital??!!

Posted on April 12, 2011 at 12:40 PM Comments comments (0)

News is circulating that former President, Hosni Mubarak, has been admitted into a Sharm El Sheikh hospital today??!!  It is no news that Mubarak's health is in peril and that he is scrambling to find an exit from the political dilemma that he's in now.  If it is proven that his health cannot withstand a criminal prosecution trial, then he will not stand one...

The only way Egypt is to move forward is for it to become a civilian state, whereby citizens are given EQUAL rights to defend themselves infront of a court of law.  Even if Mubarak has committed heinous crimes against his own people, he has to be given the right to defend himself in court.  Egyptian lawyers have shunned him, like he was a pariah (which he now is), and he is asking British lawyers to defend his case.

Egypt has a long time to go before it heals from Mubarak's crimes against humanity, where his cronies robbed Egypt of all its wealth and dignity, all the while stripping the people of their wealth and dignity.  After all this is said, I still want to see him get a fair trial, so that the Law is upheld regardless of the defendant.  So that the Law is supreme.


Where is the Egyptian "Rehab" Law??

Posted on April 11, 2011 at 12:47 PM Comments comments (0)

I do not know of an Egyptian law that enforces "Rehab" for drug addicts and alcoholics.  This law is badly needed in a society where drug addiction in particular is rampant (will research the exact figures, if they are available).

This law will not only protect the drug addict, but will protect any family members that are constantly under threat of attack and rages by the addict. Instead of waiting for violent crimes to be committed, this compulsory law will help deter and decrease domestic violence.


Please refer to my "links" for Drug Rehabilitation Information in Egypt:

www.narconon.org/drug-information/Egypt-drug-addiction.html


Is there a law that punishes domestic violence??

Posted on April 11, 2011 at 5:44 AM Comments comments (1)

I need to search for a law in Egypt that criminalizes domestic violence.  This violence may be between a man and his wife, parents and children, or between siblings.  The reason why I am so concerned about domestic violence in Egypt is that I have witnessed first hand several cases where family members did not know how to deter the violent actions of another family member because the law does not arbitrate between family members unless a severe crime has been committed.  Such a severe crime may be an assualt which results in serious physical injuries.  But, why should the law wait until such serious physical injury actually happens??

This is an issue that needs much discussion and I truely believe that it requires very serious consideration in lieu of all the violence that we see on the streets of Egypt post-revolution....the violence on the streets will undoubtedly be transformed to households, where men and women are under extreme economic pressure and political uncertainty...


Please refer to  my "Links" for Domestic Violence Lawyers in Egypt.

www.hg.org/law-firms/domestic-violence/Egypt.html




Welcome note

Posted on April 10, 2011 at 8:24 AM Comments comments (0)

Welcome to my thoughts....yet it is our world...This blog is no way meant to be a personal journal where I express myself freely thinking that nobody is really there to read what I post!!  No, this blog is truly meant to be interactive, where a constructive discussion ensues between the members and myself!!   All I hope for is that this blog makes us all think...of political and socioeconomic issues that affect and infect our everyday lives in Egypt!!  This blog is meant to be real and interesting, because nothing is more interesting than making our world more "human-friendly"...


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