Thursday, May 25, 2006

May 25th - International Solidarity

First : London

The Demo in London gathered around 76 activists from Egypt and all around the world, they all had a very 'active spirit' which was reflected on the chanting that rarely stopped.....

Speaking of the chanting, it was led at most of the times today by the outstanding Belinda..... though Belinda is originally from Mauricius she showed extreme passion while leading the chanting that people were asking who is this young passionate Egyptian girl with this unfamiliar accent... ??..... Find below a photo of Belinda leading one of the chants....

The guy at the embassy who was video taping last time was there this time as well, still from behind a curtain... this time though all the young Egyptians led by Khaled started singing "Shayfeenak.... Shayfeenak..... Shayfeenak....." . What is more surprising is that every time they sang "Shayfeenak" this guy shyed away and disappearred behind the curtain.... this was then followed by cheering and clapping.... (he's showing his hand and the video cam on the top right window in the photo) and below is a photo of the protestors cheering after he shyed away behind his curtains....

Remember the Old English Lady I told you about from the Public Meeting, she came to the Demo... I knew that behind her old face there is a wonderful story...... It is Chanie Rosenburg, a lifelong activist and anti-Zionist. In her youth she and her husband, Tony Cliff (founder of the Socialist Workers Party of the UK) fought to unite Jewish and Arab workers in Palestine. After Cliff was imprisoned by the British mandate authorities they fled to London (in 1947).She now sepnds her time monitoring Israeli checkpoints. Next to Chanie is Heba who is a young Egyptian activist who was doing volunteer work in Pakistan before returning back to the UK... she was one of the dynamos during the past few days.....

Heba was not the only one from the Egyptian community in the UK to actively participate, Ramy was supportive and helpful, he has outstanding hand writing that he used to make many of the banners (together with Yassin & Ashraf who have exceptional Arabic hand writing). Ramy was doing volunteer work in Palestine before returning to the UK. He is the guy in the photo below....

Kefaya was represented by Mr. Kazaz, the active movement sent Mr. Kazaz as a representation to show their support for our campaiging effort..... next to Mr Kazaz is Ashraf who was a great help during the last few days as well with his handwriting....

Arwa Assem, an Egyptian member of the NUJ (National Union of Journalists) came with a letter signed by the Secretary General of the Union. The letter was directed to the Egyptian ambassador and it expressed solidarity with the pro-democracy demonstrators, detainees, and movements. It also condemned the brutal attacks on the Journalists in the Cairo streets while they were covering the demonstrations. Photos below shows Mr. Kamal Bayoumi and Araw giong to the embassy to hand in the petitions and the letters to the Ambassador.

Hoda read some translated parts of the letter that was sent by the female detainees (Rasha, Asmaa, Nada) from their prison in Qanater.

Tarek came from Cambridge and Nadia came from Paris (as she missed the Paris Demo) to participate in the demo....

Mr. Kamal Bayoumi talked about the developments in Egypt and the mistakes that were done in dealing with the increased opposition.

Nik Rack from the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers gave a speech on behalf of the Haldane Society, they signed the petition that was handed to the embassy. He talked about their solidarity with the demands for democracy in Egypt.

Guy Taylor spoke on behalf of the Globalise Resistance Movement....

Chris Nineham spoke on bahalh of Stop the War coalition....

There were representatives from the University of East London as well who came in solidarity with the Judges and the detainees.....

and here are some more photos of the demo....

Second: Seol:

Here are parts of a report by CJ Park and photos are below.....

Dear friends,

Here is a short report of yesterday's protest in Seoul.

On May 26, 1:00PM, around 50 Koreans in support of Egyptian democracy activists gathered in front of the Egyptian Embassy in Seoul . Last time anti-war and human rights activists stood in front of the Egyptian embassy was on 9 June 2005 to protest against the government*s vicious attack against the Kifaya movement on 25 May, 2005, now dubbed as the ※Abu Ghraib prison on street.This time the protest wraps up for now the 3 day international day of action originally called by the Assembly of the Social Movements which met in the2006 European Social Forum in Athens, Greece. A series of internationalprotests begins in Paris on 24 May and continues on to London, New York,Washington DC, Chicago, Athens, Montreal, Toronto, Beirut, Hague, Cairo on25 May and ends in Seoul on 26 May. Truly it is international solidarity atits finest.At the gathering point, I saw familiar faces and new faces. People who came last year showed anger that the situation in Egypt has gotten worse.However, everyone cheered when they heard news reported by Socialist Workers in UK that a victory was made among political detainees held in the notorious Tora prison outside Cairo. The detainees released a statement condemning prison authorities for their treatment and launched a hungerstrike. After one day the governor relented. They are now free to move between cells and prison authorities have supplied them with food, medicinesand newspapers..

.....As a closing, a representative from Catholic Human Rights Committee readloud the solidarity statement that resolves anti-war and human rights activists in South Korea to continue to spread the words to all circles of Korean society and building solidarity with democracy activists in Egypt. As a human rights activistsaid, "Victory for Egyptian democracy is a major defeat for US imperialism,This means it is a victory for Palestinians, Iraqis, and South Koreansfighting against US imperialism."

Third: New York:

By Shehab Fakhry
Here are more photos of the New York demonstration:


The photographer is Sherif Sadek from Akhnaton films [].

Forth: Montreal:

video of the demo at

Preparations for London Demo

NEVER in my life have I felt so MOTIVATED, INSPIRED, and PROUD.....!!!!

The members of the Egytian Committee in Support of the Egyptian Judges got together at the University of London (no.. not at all.... the University is not part of the demo, but universities here are opened to activists of all sorts to prepare for their demos, have meetings, debate, discuss, argue...etc. so it is very natural that it attracts activists from all over the country who spend their time there getting the best out of their minds and enslaving their talents for their causes..... a big THANK YOU to the 9th of March group who are trying to revive the same concept in Egypt.... we will prevail one day... i'm sure)

I will not say much... i will leave the talking to the photos.... we were sitting at the Students Common Room ... students from all around the world came to us and asked about what we were diong and why, we kept on explaining... clarifying... answering.... they tried reading our Arabic banners and we translated.... they seemed to like our English Banners.....

No words would be enough to describe how dedicated and passionate those guys were: Ashraf, Heba, Hoda, Inas (she distributed flyers from one street to the other), Ramy, Rania, Salah, Tamer (also distributed flyers in the rainy London Streets) and Yassin. We missed however the efforts of Omar, Sherif, Dina and Nariman who would be joining us tomorrow at the Demo...... chapeau to the wonderful committee.....

anyways..... check out the photos.....

And here are some of the banners.......

Let's hope we would be capable of making something out of May 25th...

Hands Off our Judges!

Release Our Detainees!

Democracy & Justice Now!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

London Demo - May 25th

Called for by the Egyptian Committee in Support for the Egyptian Judges (London - Chicago). Supported by Stop the War Coaliation, The Cairo Conference, Globalise Resistance, and Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Story of The London Public Meeting

Believe it or not but there were more people attending this meeting that the demo, I have a feeling we are actually getting our voice across.... we were around 65 this time.....

We got this comment from Heba Moussa (she was one of the attendees of the Public Meeting) and I thought I'd share it with you:

"Everyone it was FANTASTIC and INSPIRING to see all of you today at Lancaster Hall meeting..I got a massive rush of adrenalin having so many like minded people and voices packed into one was really great, I don't know how come I never knew about all of you before...I've obviously been looking in the wrong places! Will see you Wed and Thursday!'If you think you're too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito!. Heba Moussa "

anyways.... more about the meeting itself....

Just 2 weeks ago if anybody had told me that we'd be standing in front of the Egyptian Embassy in London voicing our anger about the government actions I'd have definitly said this is way too optimistic for me.... Now... I found us not just remembering stories about the beautiful Saturday 13th of May when we deicded to break this barrier of fear and take an extra step towards freedom..... but also remembering this night when we felt that we are not alone.....

The idea of campaigning for the Egyptian cause among the British public never seemed an attractive one for me... I always thought how we should concentrate our efforts in only making sure we get all the Egyptians here and back home to have a common stance against the government.... now I can tell you that I was definitly wrong.. and I was not only wrong because it is important to explain to the "Public Opinion" world wide what is happening in Egypt, but more importantly (at least for me) I felt that I was not alone and that there were others who really understood what we were talking about.

Take a look at the old English lady in the Photo below, I do not really remember her name but I'd definitly never forget what she had to say.. I remember very well that while Mr. Kamal Bayoumi was talking about how many of the English activists marched in protest in the streets in 1956 against the British Government for teaming up with France and the Zionists and attacked Egypt she looked at another old fellow and simled gently at him as if saying "do you remember that time?" .... I automatically guessed she was there, after we finsihed our speeches she raised her hand in enthusiasim as she had something to share. She told us about her trips to the Cairo Conference and how at the first year she attended the conference it was difficult to get to the meeting place because of the 'tanks' and the armed soldiers who were everywhere around it.... (i looked at her old age and realised how stamina is not really related to an age, it is a matter of a lively spirit and cause to live for).... she then talked about the last Cairo Conference she attended (the forth) and how she was impressed with the totally different of young men and women protesting outside the conference venue because of the closure of a newspaper... she wondered .. where did the soldiers go? and she was very proud those young protesters managed in occupying this space from the armed soldiers. (my dear lady... the soldiers are trying to take it back from us.... ). She spoke of how this new spirit that is filling the Cairo air will change the whole of the Arab World....

Captions from the Meeting.....!!!

not intending to go in order but just wanted to mention the parts that made me think or things worth mentioning.....

The Story of a Regime

Mr. Kamal Bayoumis (Egyptian Committee in Support of Egyptian Judges) started the meeting by narrating the story of the regime that started since the assassination of Sadat, he talked about how the way the regime was functioning facilitated the concentration of nearly all of the authorities in the country in the hands of one man. He spoke of how this unprecedented concentration of authority was a tool that was used afterwards to crush whoever stood in the way of the executive power and how it is the Judges, the students, the protestors, the prfessors, the engineers..etc. are the one who are paying for it at the moment. He spoke about the current dynamism that is spreading through the Egyptian society fueled by the unmatched brutality of the regime that is fighting for its life in what seems to be its last fight.

Yvonne Ridley

Yvonne is a British journalist who was kidnapped in Afganistan a while ago, she returned bacl to the UK with a lot to tell about her experience. She is currently presenting "The Agenda" program on the Islam Channel which is one of the most progressive channels in the UK. Yvonne was chairing the session and she talked about the history of the Egyptian security forces in using brutal and violent means in dealing with the regime's opponents. She said that she will make sure she talks about the Judges cause at her program to give her viewers a better understanding of what is happening in Egypt.

Blogging the Egyptian Resistance

I really had nothing to say, so I decided I would tell them about my experience with blogging and how it opened up so much for me in terms of getting to know more people, and in getting more exposed to the real Egypt that is far beyond the official newspapers. The oppression that youth is suffering from pushed them away from the normal places where they could voice their opinions to the virtual world whrere the government had less control and where their identities could be kept safe if they wanted to. This oppression pushed them to make the best out of their blogs to express what they want to say and to reflect the reality of their lives in Egypt... the result was a huge Egyptian blogsphere that contained blogs talking about all sorts of topics from politics to poetry to economics to story telling to culture...... The youth managed in devicing a new form of resistance that the authorities are still trying to catch up with but the witty bloggers are not easy to catch just like the mercury slipping off your hands. I still remember how I worked with a group of bloggers after the May 2005 demo in collecting and documenting all the testimonials and stories about the government brutality of that day, the result was a document that reflected many of the encounters of that horrible day in Egyptian history. Though I never saw nor met them before we got closer and I started feeling that I became part of a larger group that is tied together by its love for its country. I STILL have not met any of them but we are always in touch and they had their contribution to our London demo (whether by sending flyers or by publicisng the demo on their blogs).... so long live Egyptian bloggers who managed in taking the fight to where the government is helpless. WE WILL NOT FORGET OUR 6 DETAINEES!!

Ahmed Orabi

Anne Alexander (Stop the War Coalition) told us abot a story from our history that I find very interesting. She told us that the Egyptians are from the very first nations to fight Imperialism, and they did not just do that locally in Egypt but they actually gained international support even in the UK itself. She told us about Ahmed Orabi and how he was popular in the UK and how the Egyptian cause was viewed as a Just cause at that time.... his popularity was to the extent that English lawyers volunteered to travel to Egypt to defend him against the Imperialist British occupation. This story proved to me once again that when your cause is 'just' it automatically attracts the support of all those who believe in justice.

The Road to the Cairo Conference
John Rees (Vice President of the Cairo Conference) talked about his journey with the Cairo Conference and how it started with visits to Cairo that invloved meeting with small groups of activists that gradually grew until it reached its peak with the huge demo that occupied El Tahrir square after teh invasion of Iraq. He said that the current movement pro democracy movement materialised when the national movements agains the war on Iraq realised it stood on the opposite side of the government who did not strongly oppose the war on Iraq. At that point the question of how 'real' is the reflection of the government of the true hopes and fears of the people are, this was the first spark that initiated the current movements. The Cairo conference now has become a gathering for many international and national organistions that oppose the violent aggressions on both Iraq and Palestine by the Americans and the Zionists. It also includes those organisations that oppose globalisation with all its threats to the welfare of the people.
Egyptian Youth in the UK
A very important discussion was sparked e has by a question that Ramy (photo above) had asked. Ramy was wondering why the Egyptian youth living in the UK was not involved in the campaign and why Egyptian youth in general was not interested. Many dismissed Ramy's comments and said that the Kifaya movement depends largely on the support and activites of its young members, and in the UK many of the members of the Egyptian Committe in Support of the Judges are from youth. Ramy has a very strong point however as the Egyptian community in the UK is the second biggest Arab community and thus the participation of the Egyptian youth should have been much more. It is still the beginning however and maybe Ramy's note whould be a motivation for us to stretch our targets and try involving more and more Egyptian youth in the UK.
Dynamos behind the Scenes
There were lots of dynamos behind the scenes that participated one way or another to the day and the coming demo on Thursday.
Guy Taylor (Globalise Resistance), Chris Ninehaim (Stop the War), and the Egyptian Committee members: Rania El Malky, Alia Mossallam, Dina Soliman, Sherif El Sayed, Omar Massoud, Inas Ismail, Hoda Baraka, Nariman Youssef, Dina Soliman.... Finally a thank you to Somaye Zadeh the Iranian girl who managed in getting the endorsement of her syndicate (BECTU) on an announcement condeming the current police attacks on the protestors.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Public Meeting - May 22nd - London

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Story behind the London Demo...

Just before I start telling you about the day and how it changed lots of the perceptions I had about us (us means Egyptians in the UK or London specifically) I just want to share with you the feeling i had upon seeing 2 situations that summarised a lot of what was giong through my mind:

1. This young fellow in the photo above is the son of Osama Roshdy who is one of the active people around here and he really helped a lot in setting the day, I found him giong to the police officers (who were dispatched by the local government to set up the place where we should stand, protect us, and see if there is anything we need) and he started talking to them, i did not really understand what was giong on until i realised that the blue banner he is holding is the one that has all the torture pictures of last Thursday. He was trying to tell the police officers about why we are here and about what is happening in Cairo, he was trying to tell him how the word "Police" has a totally different meaning where he comes from than here in the UK. Upon seeing that I realised that this is what we are really trying to do.. we want to get the message across to Europe, we want them to know about our Judges, our cause, our government, our suffering.

2. Mr. Kamal Bayoumi was one of the "Fedayeen" working against the English occupation of Egypt before the revolution, he then lived and experienced the 1952 revolution, the 1956 war, then he participated in the buliding of the High Dam in Asswan, afterwards he saw the 1967 defeat and the 1973 war. "Beat the Judges... Arrest the Journalists... WE will Previal" is the sign that Mr. Kamal held up high in front of the embassy, it suddenly came to me how it is a very true represetation of what he went through and of the stamina that stands behind his ever calm ever refreshing face. He fought the Imperialists, the Zionists, and now Dictatorship... he participated in building the High Dam and now he is supporting us to build our High Pride. It is so fascinating to have those kind of people who bind all your history together around you, it is so fascinating to always feed on their support, passion, encouragement, and stories... to always feel that you are a continuation of a strive for a dream that seemed so many times very close to be fulfilled but then suddenly disappeared. Those people teach us the meaning of how to "pursue" what you believe in no matter how many times you get disappointed, they teach us how to grow and tame a resilient "stamina" that would carry us forward and help us defy what might be impossible obstacles... and so Kamal Bayoumi carries on with his fight and we start ours.


How it all began:

We are a group of Egyptian young professionals, students, journalists, doctors, activists who are currently living permanently or temporarily in the UK. Most of us are very active participants in the cultural, political, and social scene in the UK and specifically London. We represent nearly all of the political spectrum in Egypt but it was never really reason for disagreements, rather, this diversity always exposed us to different ideas, approaches, and it really helped us in creating a very active social shpere that overlapped with other Arab and English communities in the UK. Like so many other Egyptians living abroad we are still very well connected with Egypt either on a personal level or through following up with its news and events. Still like so many other Egyptians we feel like we have a country that we are losing to somebody else who might carry the same nationality as ours but not the same values that we were taught our nation represents. Realising that there is a lot that we can add to convey the voice of the Judges and their supporters to the world we decided not to be marginalised again and to make sure we do make use of our contacts, resources, and talents. The result was "The Egyptian Committe for Support of the Egyptian Judges - London".

The intention is not a one off demo that reflects a sudden enthusiasim that would die away after a while, it is rather a sustained international campaign that engages with the different influential social and media circles in Europe that would help present the views of our Judges to Europe and specifically the UK. We aim at creating more awareness of the Egyptian cause and offering a counter argument to the official version that is usually propagated by the government abroad. We aim at making the support that the current UK government shows to the Mubarak regime a liablility and a burden through increasing the English public awareness to the consequences of that support and how it negatively affects the lives and security of Egyptian civilians who have to deal with the bruitality of the Police thugs. We aim at strengthening the point that there is a lively movement calling for freedom in Egypt that seeks to achieve democracy without the need for any intervention from the Western governments, a movement that is currently standing shoulder to shoulder with its Judges against thugs.

London Demo - May 13th 2006 - Minutes of the day

Release Our Detainees!

Hands Off our Judges!

I arrived at 11:55 with 3 banners that i prepared the night before as well as some flyers that were contributed by the Egyptian Bloggers who supported us. People started arrivying at 12 pm in front of the embassy, we were not that many in number yet however so we decided to stand on the corner untill enough people arrive, by 12:15 there were around 25 of us so we moved towards the entrance. To my surprise we found out that the police (whom we had takesn permission from previously to demonstrate in front of the embassy) had come and arranged for us the place where we will demonstrate (an instant comparison comes to mind with our honourable thugs), they put some iron barriers to identify where we should stand, some signs to re-direct the traffic and then five polic officers stayed with us for protection and help if needed.

One of the embassy staff was outside the entrance delivering some stuff to the inside of the building while we were gathering, when he saw us starting to gather he made a phone call and then two other diplomat looking guys came out (casually dressed) and took a glance at us before making some other phone calls. By the time it was 12:35 Dr. Kamal El Helbawy (Ex Ikhwan Speaker in Europe) had arrived with so many plackards that he prepared for that day. Mr Mohamed Abdel Hakam Diab (Journalist at Al Qods El Arabi) arrived while we were still gathering as well and he handed out to us the statement that would be delivered to the ambassador that we prepared the night before (he did some editing to it and removed the word "Excellency" or in Arabic "Sa'adat Al Safeer" from addressing the ambassador because he said it is against the Egyptian constitution) Sherif El Sayed arrived with some more packhards that he and some other friends prepared the night before. Some other Egyptians who we did not know from before arrived and they said they knew about the demo from the email chains that were going around.

A quick count of the numbers at around 1:00 showed that we were slightly over 50 demonstrators. At that point, Anne Alexander the representative of the Stop the War Coalition (her photo below while giving an interview to the BBC correspondant Inas Ismail)asked me if she could deliver a small message to the people from the coalition. Anne started speaking in a very clear Egyptian Accent Arabic about her time in Egypt studying Arabic at Alexandria University then she talked about the support the Coalition is going to give us over the coming period, she asked us to continue with the pressure on the government and to start thinking about contacting other NGOs and movements to build up support for the Judges. She pointed out the importance of working towards organising a demo on the coming May 25th to further support the judges.

Embassy Security

While we were standing we noticed that at one of the balconies of the building just next to that of the embassy (it is probably the residence of the smbassy staff) there was a man shooting us with a video camera from behind a curtain. Some people from crowd started shouting "Camera.. Camera".... and then suddenly without prior coordination from those demonstrating they all picked up their video cams and their cameras and started taking photos and shooting the guy. The coward then hide himself behind the curtains and stopped shooting, the people started laughing and clapped in a celebration of their petit victory. (In the photo below it is the second window from the left in the red building next to the brown embassy building, he was gone by the time i took this photo... i was not quick enough.)

Ahmed El Azzazy

There are some rumors in London now that Captain Ahmed El Azzazy from the Central Security Force (Amn El Dawla) who was a key figure in the May 2005 demonstrations as he was one of the main torture machines of those days demos has been transfered to the smbassy in London as a reward for his efforts back in Cairo. You can find the Kefaya accusation against him and other security officers here (he is number 7 on the list). It is said he was transfered to London to heat the competition between the rest of the thugs back in Cairo (definitly all of them would prefer the luxurious life of London to the dirty job of beating up those stupid angry protestors... the more the kicking of the protestors chests the higher the chances of a transfer to London or who knows.... maybe New York). This information will still be verified and if proved true then we will see the possibility if he could be legally pursued here in the UK for his crimes.

Above are protestors from whithin the area permitted by the police and below is Mrs. Safa El Sawy the Ex President of the Arab Club in the UK.


There were some speakers at the end of the demo that ended with some cheering and the chanting of the Egyptian National Anthem, below is a brief of the speakers and what their speeches were about:

Mr. Ahmed Nasser: He talked about the current situation in Egypt and specifically about the recent events that involved the public torture of protestors in the streets of Cairo. He attacked the Mubarak regime fiercly and pointed out the panic attack that it must be going through at the moment.

Dr. Khadeeja Safwat: she is a Sudanese Ex Professor of Political Economy at Oxford University. She talked about the current political situation and its reflection on the Sudan. Dr Khadeeja stressed that the politics of both countries are strongly intermingled, and she confirmed her support for the Egyptian Judges in their cause.

Mr. Mostafa Abdel Aal: He is an Egyptian Liberal living in the UK, he talked about the importance of our efforts and about the feared Presidential Monarchy. He was synical of the fact that 70 million Egyptians were waiting for a president's son to be born, riased, and trained to be a president as if they do not have one single person who is qualified to take over.

Mr. Mohamed Abdel Hakam Diab: He is a Journalist with Al Qods Al Araby newspaper and one of the founders of the Egyptian British Cultural Forum. He talked about the importance of participation of the younger generations in the current movements. He stressed the fact that current brutality manifested by the regime is a sign of irrational decisions and confusion.

Dr. Kamal El Helbawy: he is the Ex Speaker of El Ikhwan in Europe, he talked about the importance of coordinating our efforts and making sure we inform the public in the UK about what is happening in Egypt.


One more step beyond the borders of fear, one more step towards freedom.....

Wait for us on Thursday May the 25th. (more information to follow soon).