Young Egyptian filmmaker dies a political prisoner

This 3 May 2020 video says about itself:

Egypt: Shady Habash, filmmaker who mocked el-Sisi, dies in prison | Sky Singapore

Shady Habash dies in Cairo’s Tora Prison, say lawyers, after two years in detention for directing video mocking el-Sisi.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 3 May 2020:

22-year-old film-maker dies in Egyptian jail after two years behind bars without trial

A YOUNG artist detained without trial in Egypt for two years for making a film mocking President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has died in prison, his lawyers say.

Shady Habash, who was just 22, died on Saturday in Cairo’s Tora prison complex. Lawyer Ahmed el-Khwaga said the cause of death was not known. Friends published a letter he wrote from prison last October in which he said he was “going mad or dying slowly because you’ve been thrown in a room two years ago and forgotten.”

Rights lawyer Khaled Ali said he ought to have been released two months ago, having served the maximum jail time pending investigation.

Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak dies

This 25 February 2020 video says about itself:

Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s president for almost 30 years who stepped down after a popular revolution in 2011, has died. He was 91.

State television reported on Tuesday he died weeks after undergoing surgery.

Mubarak served as Egypt’s fourth president starting in 1981 until his ouster in what became known as the Arab Spring revolution. He was jailed for years after the uprising, but was freed in 2017 …

The Arab Spring protests convulsed autocratic regimes across the Middle East.

Mubarak’s military dictatorship was supported by United States governments, eg, the George W Bush administration.

Mubarak and George W Bush in 2002, AFP photo

Like the present Sisi military dictatorship in Egypt has the support of the US Trump administration.

EGYPT’S HOSNI MUBARAK DIES AT 91 Former Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak, whose decades-long grip on the presidency was pried loose by the Arab Spring protests in 2011, died in a Cairo hospital. [HuffPost]

Hosni Mubarak, US-backed dictator of Egypt for 30 years, dead at 91: here.

‘Free jailed Egyptian blogger’

This 19 October 2019 video says about itself:

UN urges Egypt to release detained blogger

The U.N. human rights office called on Egypt on Friday to free a prominent blogger, lawyer and journalist allegedly mistreated in custody who are among nearly 2,000 people detained since street protests began a month ago.

Officials at the interior ministry were not immediately available for comment. The state prosecutor’s office said in late September that it had questioned a number not exceeding 1,000 suspects who took part in the demonstrations.

“Unfortunately such arrests are continuing, and have included a number of well-known and respected civil society figures,” U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a news briefing in Geneva.

Protests against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo and other cities have followed online calls for demonstrations against alleged government corruption.

Sisi, who came to power after, while army chief, leading the 2013 overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, has overseen a broad crackdown on dissent that has extended to liberal and Islamist groups, and which rights groups say is the most severe in recent memory.

Journalist and activist Esraa Abdelfattah was arrested by plainclothes security officers in Cairo on Oct. 12 and was reportedly beaten after she refused to unlock her mobile phone, Shamdasani said. Abdelfattah is on a hunger strike, she added.

Alaa Abdel Fattah, a blogger and software engineer, was released in March after serving a five-year sentence for protesting without permission, but was re-arrested on Sept 29, Shamdasani said. The same day, his lawyer Mohamed al-Baqer, was arrested while attending the interrogation, she added.

Abdel Fattah was struck by guards on his back and neck while being forced to walk down a corridor in his underwear, while al-Baqer has been subjected to physical and verbal abuse, and denied water and medical aid, she said.

Egypt’s Sisi, Donald Trump’s favourite dictator

This 27 September 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

My favorite dictator“: Trump’s nickname for Egyptian President Sisi reflects longtime U.S. policy

“Where’s my favorite dictator?” President Trump reportedly asked while waiting to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at the G7 summit in August. Though the comment shocked those in attendance, Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous notes that “there is a frankness to it” that accurately represents the nature of U.S. policy in the region and enables Sisi, known for his harsh oppression of critics, to crack down even further. As public discontent and calls for Sisi’s resignation over corruption charges continue in Egypt, Kouddous says it’s important to recognize that the U.S. supported Egypt when it was headed by former authoritarian leaders Hosni Mubarak and Mohamed Morsi. “We have to remember Trump is an extension of what has been U.S. policy for many decades,” he says.

Egyptians demonstrate against Sisi dictatorship

This 22 September 2019 video says about itself:

Thousands of people across several Egyptian cities took to the streets on Friday to protest against President Abdel Fattah el Sisi and his regime.

By Johannes Stern:

Protests in Egypt shake al-Sisi’s bloody military dictatorship

23 September 2019

The recent events in Egypt bring back memories of the revolutionary uprisings that brought down the long-standing imperialist-backed Egyptian dictator, Hosni Mubarak, in 2011. Numerous demonstrations reportedly took place throughout Egypt last weekend. This time, they are directed against General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who seized power in 2013 and has brutally subjugated the country ever since.

Chants of “Irhal, Irhal” [Leave, Leave], “The people want the overthrow of the regime” or “Say it! Don’t be afraid! Sisi must go” echoed through numerous Egyptian cities over the weekend. The protests began in the capital, Cairo, where on Friday evening several hundred demonstrators gathered on Meidan al-Tahrir, the central square of the Egyptian Revolution.

They quickly spread to other regions, far from the capital. Thousands of mostly young demonstrators took to the streets in the coastal cities of Alexandria and Damietta, in Mansoura and in Suez, the metropolis at the entry of the Suez Canal. So far, there have been no reports of the strikes or factory occupations that spread like wildfire eight years ago. But there were also protests in important industrial cities such as Mahalla al-Kubra, the centre of the Egyptian textile industry in the Nile delta.

Protesters chant slogans against the regime in Cairo, Egypt, early Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. Dozens of people held a rare protest in Cairo during which they called on Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to quit. Security forces dispersed the protesters and no casualties were reported. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

The regime reacted nervously and brutally. In Cairo, heavily armed security forces dispersed the demonstrators on Saturday morning, and armoured vehicles sealed off Tahrir Square. In other cities, too, protests were broken up by force. According to the limited reports that are available, there were over two hundred arrests. Videos on social media showed emergency forces hunting down peaceful demonstrators and attacking them with tear gas and rubber bullets.

In Suez, where demonstrators gathered again in the central Arbaeen Square during the night of Saturday to Sunday despite massive police violence, the security forces even used live ammunition. “They (security forces) fired tear gas, rubber and live bullets and there were injuries,” a man who took part in the demonstration and did not want to be identified told AFP.

Another resident reported that the tear gas was so thick that it had reached her apartment a few kilometres from the city centre: “My nose started burning up. The smell was seeping through the balcony. I also saw some youth run and hide in our street.”

The immediate trigger for the protests was a series of videos published by Egyptian actor and contractor Mohamed Ali, who lives in Spain, on his Facebook account. In them he accuses Sisi of embezzling public money for personal purposes and of building expensive palaces for his family, while the mass of the population lives in bitter poverty. It is time for the Egyptian population to rise up, he said, as it is “numerically stronger than the army and police.”

The Arab hash tag #Kifaya_baqi_yaSisi [“Sisi, it’s enough”] was shared more than 1.5 million times within hours of Ali, who as an entrepreneur himself worked with the Egyptian army for many years, posting the videos on Twitter. Many users also posted pictures and videos of the revolutionary protests in 2011 on the social networks and announced via Twitter: “We’ll be on the streets again tomorrow!” Ali himself calls for a “million-man march” against the regime next Friday.

Even though the protests at the weekend have not yet reached the extent of the mass protests of 2011, they triggered shock on the Egyptian stock exchange. Trading was suspended on Sunday, after the EGX 100 collapsed by 5 percent. This is “definitely” due to the “small escalation over the weekend, which is making investors cautious,” said Ashraf Akhnoukh, director of Arqaam Capital in Cairo.

In its first official statement on Sunday morning, the Egyptian regime tried to play down the significance of the protests. “In the context of Egypt’s size, as a country with more than 100 million people,” they were not significant. At the same time, the regime instructed journalists who had reported on the “events of the last 24 hours” not to use social media as an information source and to adhere to “professional rules.” That is, whoever does not reflect the propaganda of the government must fear persecution.

In fact, the protests are an expression of the enormous social and political opposition building up beneath the surface of Sisi’s bloody military dictatorship. Since the regime took out a new IMF loan in 2016 and sought to cut government spending and cut subsidies for gas, water and bread, already-rampant poverty has exploded. According to official statistics, one in three Egyptians lives in poverty, i.e., on less than US$1.40 a day. According to the World Bank, “some 60 percent of Egypt’s population is either poor or vulnerable.”

To maintain social inequality and suppress the revolutionary struggles of the Egyptian workers, Sisi installed one of the world’s most brutal dictatorships with the support of the imperialist powers. Immediately after the coup against Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, who died in prison in 2019, the Egyptian military stormed two protest camps and murdered thousands of opponents of the regime. Since then, more than 60,000 have been arrested, some 2,500 death sentences have been passed, and at least 144 people have been executed.

Now that the Egyptian masses are once again being thrown into battle, it is crucial to learn the lessons from the bitter experiences of recent years.

Through mass strikes and protests in 2011, the Egyptian and Tunisian working classes succeeded in overthrowing the dictators supported by the imperialist powers and destabilizing the ruling elites throughout the region and internationally. …

The only way forward is an international revolutionary struggle of the working class, which consciously aims to overthrow the capitalist state and imperialism, take power and reshape society on the basis of a socialist program. The objective conditions for this have matured in the Middle East and worldwide. This entire year has been marked by an upswing of the international class struggle. In recent months alone, mass protests have taken place in Sudan, Algeria, Puerto Rico and Hong Kong. And fighting is also developing in the imperialist centers in Europe and the United States, such as the current strike of almost 50,000 car workers at General Motors in the U.S.

U.S. REFUSED TO HELP REPORTER IN DANGER The publisher of The New York Times said the Trump administration would not help one of its reporters who was about to be arrested in Egypt two years ago, saying the episode was just one of many instances of the U.S. retreating from its “historical role as a defender of the free press.” [HuffPost]

In the teeth of a massive police-state crackdown, Egyptian workers and youth took to the streets again Friday to demand an end to the six-year-old dictatorship of General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who seized power in a bloody 2013 coup: here.

Egyptian dictatorship butchering people

Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

The hangman of the Middle East: US-backed regime in Egypt hands down nearly 2,500 death sentences

30 May 2019

Egypt’s US-backed dictatorship of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has sentenced 2,443 people to death since coming to power in a bloody coup in 2013, according to a report issued this week by the UK-based human rights group Reprieve.

Of those sentenced to die by hanging, 2,008, or 82 percent of the total, were convicted of political offenses.

A death penalty index tracking the use of the death penalty in Egypt and identifying those faced with execution recorded cases up until September 23, 2018, when 77 of those on the country’s teeming death row faced imminent execution as a result of convictions in criminal trials. Since then, at least six of them have been put to death.

In total, 144 people have been executed by the Egyptian regime over the past five years. This compares to a single execution carried out between the 2011 revolution that overthrew the 30-year-long US-backed dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak and the July 3, 2013, coup led by General Sisi against the elected government of President Mohammed Morsi. During this same interval, a total of 152 death sentences were recommended by the Egyptian courts, compared to the nearly 2,500 issued since.

The death sentences have, in many cases, been handed down in mass trials in which defendants are brought before drumhead military tribunals in which they are denied all of the elementary rights to a fair trial including the right to present an individual defense, representation by legal counsel and the ability to call or examine witnesses.

The assembly line of state murder in Egypt begins with arbitrary arrest followed by a period of “enforced disappearance” in which prisoners are held incommunicado without charges and subjected to hideous torture until submitting to signing a confession. They are then brought into cages in military courts alongside dozens if not hundreds of others.

Under the regime’s “Assembly Law,” unlimited numbers of defendants can be tried together on the theory that they were involved in a “joint enterprise” in the alleged commission of a crime by a single individual. This has allowed the handing down of the death penalty for thousands of people whose sole crime has been to participate in peaceful protests against the regime.

Children have been subjected to this same treatment, tried for their lives alongside adults. The Reprieve report found that at least 12 of those condemned to hang were children at the time of their arrests, rounded up, tried and sentenced in flagrant violation of international law. Thousands of such children have been unlawfully arrested since the 2013 coup.

Among them is Ahmed Saddouma, who was dragged from his bed and taken from his family’s home on the outskirts of Cairo by Egyptian police in March 2015. He was held incommunicado for 80 days as his parents desperately searched for him. During that time, he was subjected to continuous torture, savagely beaten with metal bars and electrocuted all over his body until he signed a false confession.

Ahmed Saddouma, dragged away by police at the age of 17 and sentenced to die

“It is a political trial based on trumped-up charges,” the boy’s father, Khaled Mostafa Saddouma, told Middle East Eye. “I saw marks of torture on his body, which he said happened during interrogations.”

Even though the crime to which he confessed, the attempted assassination of a judge, took place three weeks after he had been seized by the police, he was convicted and sentenced to death in a mass trial of 30 people. It appears that his only real “crime” was participating in a protest together with fellow members of a group of football fans known as the Ultras.

Also sentenced to die for a crime he was alleged to have committed at the age of 17 and while a high school student is Karim Hemeida Youssef, whose June 22 sentencing was not included in the data compiled by Reprieve.

Arrested in January 2016, he also was subjected to “enforced disappearance” for 42 days during which he was tortured into confessing to taking part in an attack on a Cairo hotel.

“When he denied the charges, a security officer electrocuted him repeatedly all over his body until he was forced to confess,” his father told Middle East Eye.

At least 32 women have also been condemned to death under Sisi’s reign, according to Reprieve.

The abysmal conditions in Egypt’s prisons are claiming more victims than the hangman’s noose. Since the coming to power of Sisi, at least 60,000 people have been imprisoned on political charges, jailed under hellish conditions of severe overcrowding, lack of sanitation and denial of medical care.

According to the London-based Arab Organization for Human Rights, nearly 800 detainees have died in Egyptian jails since the 2013 coup, most as the result of medical negligence.

“Egyptian prisons have turned into execution compounds taking the lives of their detainees by denying them the right to the medical care they need and providing a fertile environment for diseases and epidemics to spread inside the detention centers due to the lack of hygiene, pollution and overcrowding,” the group said.

It said that there had been 20 such deaths so far in 2019, including 15 detainees charged based on their political opposition to the regime.

Egyptian security forces, meanwhile, are carrying out violent repression against the civilian population in the northern Sinai Peninsula that amounts to war crimes, according to a report issued on Tuesday by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The 134-page report documents arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, torture, extra-judicial killings, and mass evictions, as well as air and ground assaults against civilian populations.

The report states that children as young as 12 have been rounded up in mass sweeps of the region and held in secret prisons.

The area is subject to a demilitarization treaty between Egypt and Israel, but the Israeli government has not only allowed a massive Egyptian military deployment, ostensibly in a campaign to eradicate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but has itself participated in airstrikes in the region.

The HRW report called upon the US government to “halt all military and security assistance to Egypt”, while indicating that Washington’s support for the regime implicated it in war crimes.

Washington is the foremost backer of the blood-stained dictatorship in Cairo, with the US Congress approving the Trump administration’s request for $3 billion in aid to the Sisi regime, with another $1.4 billion in the pipeline for 2020.

This aid has gone to the purchase of F-16 fighter jets, M1A1 Abrams battle tanks, Apache attack helicopters and Humvees, all of which have been unleashed upon the population of the Sinai Peninsula. Also included in this package are cluster bomb munitions, banned by most countries because of their lethal effects on civilian populations and, in particular, children.

The US Central Command has also resumed “Operation Bright Star”, a major military exercise begun under the Mubarak dictatorship, which focuses on training Egyptian forces for “irregular warfare.”

The US State Department dismissed the HRW report, insisting that US military aid had “long played a central role in Egypt’s economic and military development, and in furthering regional stability.” It added that the assistance was aimed at “countering the Iranian regime’s dangerous activities” in the region.

Similarly, a Pentagon spokesman insisted that “The US strategic military-to-military relationship with Egypt remains unchanged.”

US President Donald Trump, who praised General Sisi during his visit last month to the White House for doing “a fantastic job in a very difficult situation”, has since announced that he will formally brand the Muslim Brotherhood, which backed the overthrown Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, as a “terrorist organization.”

This classification of an organization that Washington utilized over a long period in the Middle East to counter the influence of socialist and left-nationalist political forces has the sole purpose of legitimizing the mass murder being carried out by the Egyptian regime.

Washington backs Sisi precisely because of his role in ruthlessly suppressing the revolutionary movement of workers and young people that toppled Mubarak in 2011 and threatened to spread throughout the region, undermining the strategic interests of US imperialism.

The police state repression undertaken by the Cairo regime with Washington’s backing is only postponing a revolutionary reckoning with the Egyptian working class. Under conditions in which 40 percent of the population subsists on less than $2 a day, while inflation and the elimination of subsidies to meet the demands of the IMF are slashing the living standards of masses of workers, a new eruption of class battles is inevitable.

Workers who rose up in the textile mill towns of the Nile Delta, the Egyptian ports and in Cairo itself to overthrow Mubarak, will be impelled once again onto the road of struggle. The lessons of the betrayal of the Egyptian revolution of 2011 must be assimilated.

Former Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi dies during show trial: here.

Egyptian actors banned for criticizing dictatorship

This 14 January 2019 video says about itself:

Egyptian Actor Khaled Abol Naga: Arab Spring Ideals Will Prevail Despite Current “Black Wave”

Egyptian actor Khaled Abol Naga said during a December 31 interview with France 24 Arabic TV that the Arab Spring uprising that swept the Arab world was like a “huge wave of fresh seawater that came and shattered [the old] regimes“. He said that although the Arab world is currently experiencing the “black wave” that usually occurs after revolutions, the ideals of the Arab Spring will ultimately succeed because of their nobility. He also said that freedom of speech is fundamental to Arabs’ ability to change their countries for the better, and that it must be defended despite the disagreements that people have.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Prohibition of acting for famous Egyptian actors after criticism of president

Two well-known Egyptian actors have been expelled from the [government aligned] National Association of Actors after criticizing Egyptian President Sisi. The two spoke out in Washington last Monday against the constitutional change that allowed the 64-year-old president to remain in power until 2034.

Amr Waked and Khaled Abol Naga both played in various Egyptian films and series and some US American films. Naga is also known in Egypt because of the many shows he presented there. Both actors now live abroad.

Shortly after they had criticized, they were told that they had been expelled from the union. That also means that the men are no longer allowed to do their work in Egypt. “It’s ridiculous, it’s like they’re not only throwing us out of the union, but also taking our nationality away“, Naga tells The Washington Post.

Singing ban for singer

A few days ago, Egyptian singer Sherine Abdel-Wahab was also told that she is no longer allowed to perform. She had said that there is no freedom of expression in Egypt. The singer also presents the Arabic version of The Voice.

Human rights organizations regularly sound the alarm about the North African country. According to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, the human rights situation in Egypt is much worse than in 2010, just before the start of the Arab Spring.