Eye of the Beholder

April 25, 2012

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April 23, 2012

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Class war and Imperialism in Greece

by Shawn Hattingh (ZACF)

As the crisis in Europe has intensified, class war and imperialism have deepened in Greece. Indeed, the Greek working class has been subjected to further attacks from the local ruling class – comprised of capitalists and high ranking state officials – and imperialist powers. In order to receive the latest ‘bailout’ from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank (ECB), a bailout that goes straight to the banks that own most of the Greek state’s debt, the Greek state was told by the German, French and US ruling classes to once again reduce pensions by more than 15%, to fully privatise public utilities, to yet again cut social spending, and to implement more wage cuts, including a 22% reduction in the minimum wage. By 2014 it is planned that the Greek state would have cut spending, mostly on social services, by a further 12…

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February 9, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tamer Mowafy @ 5:10 am

MENA Solidarity Network

Demonstrators from the Irish Anti-War Movement protested on Friday 3 February outside the Egyptian embassy in Dublin over the organised attack with the connivance of the military/police, directed at the ‘Ultras’ football supporters who played a leading role in the overthrow of Mubarak and have recently been chanting anti-SCAF slogans at matches.

Pictures by Fatin al Tamimi

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July 23, 2009

“We Want to Live” Behind Bars!

Filed under: Reports — Tamer Mowafy @ 3:17 am
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A number of Sinai intellectuals issued a statement demanding the release of Mosaad Suleiman Hassan (better known as Mosaad Abu Fajr) on Tuesday July 22nd.

“Before being poets, novelists, intellectuals, or social or political activists living on the sands of Sinai, we are citizens of this country whose laws and constitution grant the freedom of expressing and exchanging social and political thoughts. We also rely on the support of celestial laws and human constitutions for our legitimate demand of the release of Mosaad  Abu Fajr.”

The statement goes on:

“The continuous detention of Abu Fajr contradicts human, social, and political values recognized not only in Egypt but in any other country in this world. Abu Fajr hasn’t committed a crime. He has just expressed his own opinion which might not be shared by some or even many of us, but by no means does this justify his detention or denying him the legitimate and humane right of freedom.”

A novelist, human-rights activist and blogger, Abu Fajr dedicated his work almost entirely to voicing the grievances of his people in Sinai. The continual state of tension with Egyptian authorities, led the people of Rafah the border city at the northern east gate of Egypt into rioting in December 2007. It was in connection to this incident that Abu Fajr was first arrested. Cleared by the general prosecutor of all charges, Abu Fajr’s name was moved to the list of accusations of another case, only to be cleared once again. The minister of interior kept Abu Fajr in custody till an order of detention was issued against him under the law of emergency, thus rendering him as the first victim of this law in its latest incarnation.

For 19 months, the minister of interior kept renewing the orders of detention against Abu Fajr, ignoring a host of court rulings and orders mandating his immediate release. The latest order of detention counted 13th in a row and came to the dismay of many human-rights activists, intellectuals, bloggers, and Abu Fajr’s own family.

Abu Fajr, 43 years, a husband and a father of 5 years old Renad, his little family is living its own crisis. He is an employee of the Suez Canal Authority. His salary was however suspended after his detention. After the last court order of his immediate release, Abu Fajr was moved to Sinai where for a brief time his family was able to visit him. They were not allowed however to provide him with his prescribed medication. With the new detention order, he was once again moved to Borj Al-Arab prison, where according to his wife he is denied books, newspapers, writing tools, and even some types of food.

The statement issued by Sinai intellectuals is only the latest amongst many efforts both local and international seeking the release of Abu Fajr. Hisham Mubarak Law Center took over the task of following the legal procedures and obtained tens of release orders from the state security emergency court for Abu Fajr. The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information requested the release of Abu Fajr after the issuance of the 13th detention order against him, stating that:

“the new arrest order against Mosaad Abu Fajr, the Sinai activist and novelist is considered a continuation of oppressive policies of the ministry of interior and a violation to all local and international treaties especially after refusing to realize the many release court orders for Abu Fajr”

Amnesty International, has issued a public statement on July 22nd, calling on the Egyptian government to immediately release Musaad Abu Fajr as well as Kareem Amer. The public issue is addressed to president Mubarak requesting him to:

“order the immediate release of Musaad Abu Fagr, Karim Amer and all other prisoners of conscience in Egypt, and to curb the powers of the SSI and ensure that SSI officials who breach the law or are responsible for abusing prisoners are brought to justice.”

Global Voices Advocacy, and English Pen are among a number of international web based organization that take interest in the case of Abu Fajr. Many individual bloggers all over the world have expressed their concern over Abu Fajr’s prolonged detention. Magnus Holm a Norwegian journalist and blogger states the fact that the Egyptian constitution does indeed guarantee free expression in its 47th article. He however goes on arguing that:

“Freedom of expression is a phrase that sure looks good in a constitution. However, for the people of Egypt, it remains just that; words on a piece of paper. Freedom of speech means freedom for the speakers, and until Egyptian bloggers, journalists, editors and activists are allowed to express themselves freely, the Egyptian constitutional “guarantee” of freedom of speech is nothing but a rather offensive joke.”

Such efforts and manifestations of solidarity will continue but it is up to the ministry of interior only to obey the rulings of court, and honor the Egyptian constitution, or choose to render its guarantee of a basic human right as an “offensive joke”.

July 20, 2009

Is the U.S. Committed to Afghan Women’s Rights?

Filed under: Reports — Tamer Mowafy @ 9:20 pm
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On March 27th president Obama announced his administration’s new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. In his remarks on the new strategy Obama has mentioned Afghan women just once:

a return to Taliban rule would condemn [the] country to brutal governance, international isolation, a paralyzed economy, and the denial of basic human rights to the Afghan people — especially women and girls”

Reading through the white paper issued by the Whitehouse on the new policy one can’t come across a single mention of the Afghan women. It seems fair enough to conclude that making sure that Afghanistan never returns to Taliban rule is the most that the United States is willing to commit itself to achieve in order to preserve and promote women’s rights.

In a press conference after a NATO meeting just a few days later, Obama was asked to provide his assessment of a law that was recently passed in Afghanistan. The law – as described by the reporter asking the question- “negates the need for sexual consent between married couples, tacitly approves child marriage, and restricts a woman’s right to leave the home”. The reporter went further to ask Obama whether he will condition future troops movements of the US to Afghanistan on the basis of this law being retracted or rewritten.

Answering the question Obama indeed stated that he thinks this law is abhorrent. He also ascertained that “the views of the administration have been, and will be, communicated to the Karzai government”. However, he has just made it clear that he wants the people to understand that “the first reason we are there is to root out al Qaeda so that they cannot attack members of the Alliance”.

Obama’s answer is no surprise. It is in a complete consistency with his administration’s formally declared policies. One should ask where the question the reporter asked is coming from.

Far from coming out of the blue, the belief that Americans have a commitment toward Afghan women and their rights is widely held by so many people. We are not talking about just ordinary people failing to understand the true objectives of the war. Howard Dean, a seasoned politician who served six terms as governor of the state of Vermont, believes that

“if we leave, women will experience the most extraordinary deprivations of any population on the face of the earth. I think we have some obligation to see if we can try and make this work. Not just for America and our security interests, but for the sake of women in Afghanistan and all around the globe”.

Melanee Verveer, Ambassador-at-large, who serves as the director of the Secretary of States’ office of global women’s affairs had a trip to Afghanistan on June 24th. Writing for the department of states official blog, she mentions that she went there

to learn firsthand what conditions are like for Afghan women today and to reaffirm our commitment to them”

Statements alluding to such a commitment go bake to as early as November 2001 when Laura Bush became the first First Lady who gave the President’s weekly radio address. In her historical speech Mrs. Bush spoke out against Taliban’s oppression of women and children. She also traveled to Afghanistan three times and served as honorary chair of the U.S. – Afghan Women’s council.

It is understandable then that many Americans believe that Afghan women’s rights have a place somewhere in the U.S. war agenda. In fact some feminists believed and continue to believe so. The Feminist Majority Foundation, a leading feminist NGO, has launched a “Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls”. The organization, however, was bitterly criticized and accused of:

“[lending] its good name and the good name of feminism in general to advocate for further troop escalation and war”.

This is how Sonali Kolhatkar, and Mariam Rawi put it in an article they co-authored. Kolhatkar, and Rawi are feminists and members of two different organizations involved in working with Afghan women. They based their accusation on the first objective, FMF has stated for its campaign that is “to expand peacekeeping forces”.

The authors had two arguments they think falsify the FMF objective. First “coalition troops are combat forces and are there to fight a war, not to preserve peace”. Second, “the tired claim that one of the chief objectives of the military occupation of Afghanistan is to liberate Afghan women is not only absurd, it is offensive”. To prove their points they offered some on ground facts that show that U.S. promotion of women’s rights in Afghanistan has yielded only cosmetic manifestations. On the other hand they stated their belief that “the biggest problems faced by Afghan women are not related to patriarchy. Their biggest problem is war”.

“More than 2,000 civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2008. And disastrous air strikes like the one in Farah province in May that killed an estimated 120 people — many of them women and children — are pushing the death toll ever higher. Afghans who survive these attacks often flee to cities, where overcrowded refugee camps strain to accommodate them. Living in tents without food, water and often blankets, the mortality rate soars”.

The effect on these hardships on Afghan women is shown to be sever:

With a 1 in 55 chance of mothers surviving delivery, Afghanistan has been, and still, is the second most dangerous place for women to give birth”.

The plight of Afghan women is further highlighted by Malalai Joya, an MP of the Farah province.

Rates of abduction, gang rape, and domestic violence are as high as ever, and so is the number of women’s self-immolations and other forms of suicide. Tragically, women would rather set themselves on fire than endure the hell of life in our ‘liberated’ country”.

Joya goes on stating that

“A troop ‘surge’ in Afghanistan, and continued air strikes, will do nothing to help the liberation of Afghan women. The only thing it will do is increase the number of civilian casualties and increase the resistance to occupation”.

There are three points to conclude here. First, the U.S. administration has never formally claimed the promotion of Afghan women’s rights as one of the objectives of its invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. The new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan announced by Obama’s administration leaves no place for any doubt that this is not going to change. Second, it is evident that a belief in such a commitment was however falsely promoted by the previous administration from day one. Current administration continues to use and vaguely support this belief for the purpose of gaining public support for the war. Third, and most important, the facts on the ground prove that contrary to the alleged commitment, the bombing, the invasion, the occupation, the continuing war, the air strikes, and last but not least the surge of military operations ordered by Obama, all contribute to Afghan women suffering a much worse hell of life.

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