Pharaoh’s tomb discovery in Egypt


This video is called Bent Pyramid perfectly cut stones. Dashur, Egypt. April 2016.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio:

Newly discovered pyramid is royal tomb

Today, 11:09

In Egypt a new pyramid has been discovered. Egyptologist Huub Pragt says to the NOS Radio 1 News that the discovery is special. “This is a royal tomb, which is unusual.” The structure was discovered in Dashur, an archaeological area where several pyramids have been found.

That it is a tomb of a pharaoh is reflected in the structure and layout of the building. The tomb of which king it is not yet clear.

Hieroglyphs

Because the building dates from the 13th dynasty it is interesting to find out who is in the tomb, says Pragt. Because pharaohs quickly alternated at that time there are gaps in the list of kings. “So, it could be an unknown pharaoh. It is scientifically very interesting to perhaps again add a pharaoh’s name to the king list.”

Newly discovered Dashur hieroglyphs, photo Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities/EPA

Pragt is hopeful it can be figured for whom the pyramid was built as a piece of stone was found with hieroglyphs. “I have seen a faded photograph of them, but it is not entirely clear to me what it says.”

UPDATE: there is suspicion it is the grave of Pharaoh Ameny-Qemau.

US Trump, Egyptian Sisi meet, both anti-human rights


This 2014 video is called Alaa Abd El-Fatah, Blogger & Political Activist (Egypt).

From Human Rights Watch in the USA:

Egypt: Sisi-Trump Meeting Shows Mutual Contempt for Rights

Washington — Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi‘s scheduled meeting with United States President Donald Trump on April 3, 2017, comes at a time when human rights are at a nadir in Egypt and under threat in the US, Human Rights Watch said today.

Al-Sisi’s meeting with Trump is the first visit by an Egyptian head of state to the White House since 2009. Al-Sisi, as defense minister, overthrew the country’s first freely elected president, Mohamed Morsy, in July 2013, and oversaw the brutal dispersal of opposition protests that left more than 1,150 people dead in the following weeks. Under al-Sisi’s presidency, his security forces have arrested tens of thousands of Egyptians and committed flagrant rights abuses, including torture, enforced disappearances, and likely extrajudicial executions.

“Inviting al-Sisi for an official visit to Washington as tens of thousands of Egyptians rot in jail and when torture is again the order of the day is a strange way to build a stable strategic relationship,” said Sarah Margon, Washington director at Human Rights Watch.

Al-Sisi, who was elected in May 2014, has presided over near-total impunity for abuses by the military and security forces and the severe restrictions on civil and political rights, effectively erasing the gains of the 2011 uprising that ousted the longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak.

After meeting al-Sisi during his visit to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2016, Trump, then a presidential candidate, released a statement declaring his “strong support for Egypt’s war on terrorism, and how under a Trump Administration, the United States of America will be a loyal friend, not simply an ally, that Egypt can count on in the days and years ahead.”

Since signing a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, Egypt has received numerous benefits from its alliance with the US, including US$1.3 billion in annual military aid since 1987, receipt of excess US military equipment, special military training, and the right to buy equipment on credit – an arrangement known as “cash flow financing” that was provided, until recently, only to Egypt and Israel.

After the military coup in 2013, the US limited several government-to-government assistance programs. But it was not until after security forces killed an estimated 817 people while dispersing a sit-in opposing Morsy’s removal in Cairo’s Rab’a al-Adawiya Square on August 14, 2013, that the administration undertook a review of military aid to Cairo and temporarily suspended the delivery of major weapons systems. The delivery of F-16 aircraft, Harpoon missiles, and M1A1 Abrams tank kits resumed in 2015, and in February 2017, the US said it would restart a biennial military training exercise. US military cooperation with Egypt never ceased, and no government official or member of the security forces has been held accountable for the mass killings.

Since 2012, Congress has conditioned military aid to Egypt on taking various steps toward supporting human rights and a democratic transition to civilian government. But in every year but one, Congress has allowed the secretary of state to waive those restrictions based on US national security interests.

Since Morsy’s removal, Egyptian security forces have arrested at least 41,000 and possibly as many as 60,000 people, according to local human rights groups. Security forces arbitrarily detained many under accusations that they were members or sympathizers of the Muslim Brotherhood, the movement to which Morsy belonged. Courts have sentenced thousands for violating a 2013 law that effectively bans opposition protests, including leftists and other non-Islamist activists in addition to alleged Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

Among those currently detained is Aya Hijazi, an Egyptian-American citizen who founded the Belady Foundation for Street Children, and whose trial on allegations of human trafficking and using children in street protests has been marked by serious due process violations, including her groundless detention since May 2014.

Since March 2015, when al-Sisi appointed Magdy Abd al-Ghaffar, a veteran of the ministry’s abusive National Security Agency, as interior minister, police and National Security agents have forcibly disappeared hundreds of suspects for periods lasting from days to months. Police and National Security agents routinely use torture, often against dissidents and during enforced disappearances, to make suspects confess or divulge information, or to punish them. National Security agents have also carried out likely extrajudicial killings on several occasions documented by Human Rights Watch since 2015. Courts have convicted and sentenced only a handful of policemen for torturing detainees since 2013, and those few sentences all remain on appeal. No National Security officer has received a final conviction for abuse.

Egypt’s counterterrorism efforts in the Sinai Peninsula have been fraught with gross abuses. In North Sinai, where an affiliate of the extremist group Islamic State (also known as ISIS) has established a presence, Egyptian military and Interior Ministry forces have committed torture, enforced disappearances, and likely extrajudicial killings. Military air and artillery strikes have killed scores of civilians. Between 2013 and 2015, the military wiped most of the border town of Rafah off the map under the justification of eliminating smuggling tunnels that benefited ISIS, forcing thousands of families to relocate while violating their rights to forewarning and proper compensation. Yet ISIS has continued to operate even in towns ostensibly under government control. The extremist group has killed dozens of civilians it views as government collaborators and singled out Christians for attacks and threats, driving hundreds of Christian families to flee.

Both the Sisi administration and the Egyptian parliament have taken steps to cripple the human rights organizations that document rights violations and provide assistance to abuse victims. In February 2017, security forces physically shut the offices of the 23-year-old Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture, one of several dozen human rights organizations targeted in a years-long criminal investigation based on allegations that the groups illegally received foreign funding. Under a vaguely worded amendment to the penal code al-Sisi issued by decree in 2014, anyone who receives foreign funding “with the aim of pursuing acts harmful to national interests or destabilizing the general peace or the country’s independence and its unity” could face 25 years in prison. At least 20 prominent human rights defenders have been banned from leaving Egypt, and the assets of many rights defenders have been frozen. Such criminalization of foreign funding to nongovernmental human rights organizations contravenes the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

In November, parliament drafted a new civil society law behind closed doors that would prohibit independent nongovernmental organizations from operating in the country by requiring that a group’s work “agree with the state’s plan, development needs and priorities.” The law criminalized a host of broadly worded activities, including conducting public surveys or field research without government approval, or conducting any work “of a political nature.” Parliament approved the law following just two days of debate but never sent it to al-Sisi for approval following widespread international criticism.

In 2015, US President Barack Obama announced that the US would resume, in the interest of national security, the delivery of major military equipment that it had placed on hold after the Rab’a massacre. But the Obama administration also announced the end of cash flow financing and introduced specific categories to guide how Egypt could use its military aid, which was not reduced.

In fiscal year 2015, Congress conditioned significant funds to Egypt, including military aid, on democracy and human rights progress. But Secretary of State John Kerry used a national security waiver to bypass those conditions. In fiscal year 2016, Congress conditioned 15 percent of military aid until the secretary of state certified progress on democracy and human rights. A national security waiver was also provided, but neither the certification nor the waiver has been exercised. Congress has not yet passed a funding bill specifying Egypt’s aid for fiscal year 2017.

Both the Sisi and Trump administrations apparently want to expand cooperation, especially on counterterrorism, despite these serious and ongoing abuses. In response, the US Congress should maintain, at a minimum, the restrictions on security assistance from previous years unless there is serious and measurable progress on human rights, such as dropping the investigation into nongovernmental organizations, repealing the law banning protests, and beginning a review of the cases of those detained arbitrarily and sentenced solely for peacefully exercising their civil or political rights. Congress should ensure that the Trump administration cannot waive these restrictions.

“Giving more money to the Sisi government is to the detriment of US and Egyptian interests,” Margon said. “Neither side in this relationship seems interested in promoting human rights, but the gross abuses being committed by Egyptian authorities should compel Congress to keep limiting support.”

General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the dictator of Egypt, will receive a red-carpet welcome at the White House today. His meeting with US President Donald Trump represents the highpoint of a five-day US visit aimed at solidifying Washington’s support for his blood-soaked regime and securing fresh financing from the World Bank and Wall Street, along with new deals with US-based transnationals looking to profit off the exploitation of Egypt’s low-paid and brutally repressed workers: here.

President Donald Trump welcomed the bloodstained military dictator of Egypt, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, to the White House Monday, giving a public demonstration of support for a regime that has slaughtered thousands, crushing the revolutionary uprising of millions of workers and youth that inspired the world in 2011, and currently jails tens of thousands of political opponents and dissidents: here.

Refugees keep drowning in Mediterranean


This Deutsche Welle video says about itself:

Death toll rises in Egypt boat tragedy | DW News

23 September 2016

Another tragedy for refugees attempting the journey to Europe. In Egypt, 162 bodies have been pulled from waters close to Rosetta, a city on the country’s northern coast. Authorities are still recovering bodies and searching for surivors. Dozens more are feared dead.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Number killed in refugee boat tragedy hits 162

Saturday 24th September 2016

THE full horror of Wednesday’s refugee boat disaster off Egypt began to emerge yesterday as more than 100 bodies were pulled from the sea.

The death toll stood at 162 and was expected to rise as the Morning Star went to press.

Up to 600 people may have been on board the appallingly overloaded people-traffickers’ boat that capsized and sank just eight miles off the port of Rosetta in the Nile Delta on Wednesday evening.

More than 160 have been rescued, most of them Egyptians along with some Sudanese, Somalians, Eritreans and other nationalities.

Local council chairman Ali Abdel-Sattar said currents had carried the bodies many miles from the site of the sinking.

“Today, four bodies, including two Egyptian children, were found 20km to the east,” he told reporters.

He added that many of the refugees were believed to have been “stored in the bottom of the boat, in the fridge.”

“Those are the ones who drowned first, most probably stuck, and their bodies might not be retrieved anytime soon,” he said.

“Those we found are the ones liberated from the boat. I believe many are stuck and now lying in the bottom of the sea.”

By Xinhua writer Wu Zhiqiang:

Commentary: Rosetta tragedy fresh reminder of Western responsibility

CAIRO, Sept. 24 — The death of more than 160 people in the sinking of an overloaded ship off Egypt’s Mediterranean city of Rosetta has once again focused world attention on the plight of refugees and migrants.

And on the causes behind tragedies like this.

The refugees, or migrants, however you describe them, were fleeing war and poverty for a safer, better life somewhere else.

A multitude of reasons may be given as to what caused the wars and the poverty, but the West cannot shirk their responsibility.

Colonial rule by Western powers in past centuries and their interventionist policies in recent decades both played a part.

Rosetta, appearing in the datelines of so many news stories on the sinking of the ship with up to 600 people aboard, happens to bear the same name of an ancient rock stele now sitting inside the British Museum and that Egyptian authorities want returned.

Dating back to 196 BC, the Rosetta Stone, which provided the key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs, was once “owned” by Napoleon’s troops and then ended up the “property” of Britain.

And now the city of Rosetta is bearing witness to a tragedy partly of Western making.

What a coincidence.

The euphoric atmosphere permeating Washington and other Western capitals at the start of the so-called “Arab Spring” five years ago has long been replaced by hand-wringing in the face of bloodshed, chaos, and misery from Syria to Iraq to Libya, and the terror attacks that filled news headlines so often around the world.

In a few hours, the foreign ministers of the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and the European Union are scheduled to gather at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, in northwest United States.

The serene campus of Tufts is a far cry from the turbulent Mediterranean seas, but the wars in the Middle East and the refugee crisis gripping the region and beyond sit near the top of the agenda when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets his five counterparts.

Rosetta and Medford, in the final analysis, are not too far away.

One more death is too many. One day longer of suffering is too long.

It is high time that the United States and other Western countries reflected upon their flawed interventionist policies that often featured imposition of their values and sought regime changes.

It is high time that the West took constructive actions.

They have a moral obligation and historical responsibility to do so.

Number of drowned refuges in this case over 200: here.

Clinton, Trump befriend Egyptian dictator Sisi


This video says about itself:

Egyptian Female Activist Shaima al-Sabbagh Killed By Police In Tahrir Square Protest

24 January 2015

Shocking moment: female socialist activist is gunned down by police during demonstrations on 4th anniversary of Arab Spring against Hosni Mubarak

A woman was killed on Saturday in Cairo after the police fired shotgun pellets at a handful of socialist activists marching to Tahrir Square with flowers to commemorate the hundreds of demonstrators killed there during the revolution that began on Jan 25 2011 witnesses said.

A health ministry spokesman said Shaima al-Sabbagh died of birdshot wounds, which fellow protesters said were fired by police to disperse the march. Al Sabbagh who was said to be … with a five year old son, was shot while she peacefully marched towards the Tahrir Square to lay a commemorative wreath of roses.

Egyptian activists shared graphic images of Ms. Sabbagh’s last moments on social networks Photographs and video recorded before the police moved in seemed to show the protesters, including Ms Sabbagh, standing peacefully outside the Air France KLM office in Talaat Harb Square near Tahrir. As officers charged at the protesters guns drawn shots rang out and Ms. Sabbagh fell to the pavement. Al-Sabbagh was taken to a hospital where she was declared dead.

By Justin Salhani, World Reporter at ThinkProgress in the USA focusing on human rights, today:

Human rights activists are upset over Clinton and Trump’s meetings with the Egyptian president

“We urge you to reconsider the false dichotomy between Egyptian citizens’ rights and freedoms and the country’s security threats.”

U.S. presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on Monday, while he is in New York for the U.N. Summit for Refugees and Migrants. And human rights activists aren’t pleased.

Reports of the candidates’ independent meetings varied to a large degree. Trump, who has previously and repeatedly called for a ban to all Muslims entering the United States, told Sisi about his “high regard for peace-loving Muslims.” Trump also said the United States would be a “loyal friend” to Egypt that the country could rely on.

Clinton, who doesn’t enjoy a lot of credibility with certain sectors of the Egyptian population for her [supportive] comments about Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak during the early days of the 2011 revolution, did not signal any kind of policy change from the Obama administration’s approach to Egypt. She did, however, broach the terror threat facing Egypt (particularly from groups like ISIS in the Sinai) while simultaneously addressing human rights issues. …

In the past, Clinton said Egypt’s government is “basically an army dictatorship” — something she would be sure to have avoided in her meeting with Sisi. …

Prior to the meetings, the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights addressed an open letter to both candidates, asking them “to reconsider the false dichotomy between Egyptian citizens’ rights and freedoms and the country’s security threats.” …

Human rights under Sisi

A year after a military coup in Egypt deposed then-President Mohammad Morsi in 2013, Sisi was elected President of Egypt. Despite his status as the country’s first democratically-elected leader, Morsi was widely disliked by many Egyptians who say he prioritized his party, the Muslim Brotherhood, over Egypt. Many of his largest critics were leftists or human rights advocates, but these same critics are facing even harsher crack downs under Sisi.

“[Sisi’s regime] is not just repressive, it is one of the most repressive regimes in the Middle East, which is saying something,” Hamid said.

Sisi’s reign has witnessed the arrest, disappearance, and death of multiple critics of his regime. Egypt is one of the world’s worst offenders when it comes to arresting journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, and has cracked down heavily on critics of the Sisi regime’s human rights record.

Hundreds of Egyptians have disappeared or been tortured, or both, under Sisi’s rule, Amnesty International reported in July. Most recently, an Egyptian court froze the assets of five prominent human rights defenders and three NGOs.

“Egypt’s current government (meaning Sisi but also all the institutions/groups that participated in the coup and now back him) sees itself as being in an existential struggle, and it regards (entirely justified) complaints about horrible human rights records as a defense of those individuals who are trying to bring it down and, to put a finer point on this, kill it,” Eric Trager, the Esther K. Wagner Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), told ThinkProgress over email.

“The government is extremely paranoid,” he added, and “it makes it impossible to have a serious conversation with it about human rights.”

Bringing human rights to the table

There is a desire from many analysts to see American politicians dispense with the lauding of Sisi.

To date, Secretary of State John Kerry has fairly regularly praised the Egyptian government. This position has garnered plenty of criticism from analysts.

“Kerry has repeatedly [praised] Sisi over the past several years, maintaining this idea that Egypt and Sisi are on some sort of democratic transition,” Hamid said. “This is problematic because it is not true.”

During the primaries, then-candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) praised Sisi and cited him as an “example of a Muslim [leader] we ought to be standing with.”

“Any politician who hails Sisi as a good Muslim leader doesn’t know what they’re talking about and is beyond absurdity,” Hamid said. …

Since taking power, Sisi’s focus has been on increasing security in Egypt through strict counterterrorism measures. But his efforts have largely failed to bear fruit as there has been an increase in terrorism in Egypt since the coup in 2013, and ISIS has established a solid presence in the Sinai. These failures point to the shortcomings in Sisi’s security-driven approach, and Hamid believes the next American president shouldn’t separate human rights from American strategic interests.

Egypt plunges into economic and social nightmare: here.

Although he once called the man a sniveling coward and said he’d never support someone who insulted his family, Sen. Ted Cruz endorsed Donald Trump for president on Friday: here.

After author Laura Silverman dissed Trump on Twitter, white supremacist trolls went ballistic on her upcoming book’s Goodreads page. (Read more here.)

Trump Flies With Gold-Plated Bathroom Fixtures, And You’re Paying Millions For It. Secret Service payments to fly on his luxury 757 made up nearly 80 percent of the flight costs this summer: here.

Ancient Egyptian emoticons


This video series is about the ancient Egyptian village Deir el-Medina.

From Leiden University in the Netherlands:

Emoticons in Ancient Egypt

Published on 30 August 2016

The advent of script has never managed to eliminate the use of symbols. This is the finding of research carried out by Kyra van der Moezel on Ancient Egyptian identity marks. PhD defence 7 September.

Van der Moezel studied identity marks from the settlement at Deir el-Medina, on the west bank of the Nile. This is where some 40 to 120 workers and their families lived between 1550 and 1070 BC. These were the workers who built and decorated the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings, where the legendary King Tutankhamen is buried, along with other pharaohs and elites.

Funny signs

More than three thousand years later Deir el-Medina reveals a wealth of archaeological information. An exceptional number of written sources have been found covering trade, the law, religion and literature. Researchers have also found a large number of identity marks, often imprinted on potsherds or as graffiti on the rock walls of the necropolis. For a long time scientists had no idea how to interpret all these symbols, so they were dubbed very unscientifically ‘funny signs’.

Pictograms

‘Under the guidance of lecturer Ben Haring we have now managed to interpret most of these symbols,’ Van der Moezel explains. ‘You can compare them to pictograms today, like information symbols at airports or product logos. They all have an inherent meaning, but are not related by any linguistic rules. The rules governing how words and sentences are formed don’t apply here. The symbols use other means of expressing information.’

WhatsApp

Van der Moezel and her colleagues distinguish different types of identity marks. Some symbols appear to be geometrical and use squares, triangles or circles, while others were derived from the written language. Finally, the Leiden researchers also found images of beings and objects that in terms of their function are comparable with the symbols that we use today in WhatsApp.

Jackals

‘These pictograms depict images of animals, objects or professions, for example,’ says Van der Moezel. ‘They were used in two different ways. First of all metonymically, whereby the symbol refers directly to what the person who drew it wanted to convey. The scorpion hunter of Deir el-Medina, for example, was represented by a scorpion symbol. The Egyptians also used the pictograms metaphorically. A well-known Egyptian metaphor is, for example, ‘as fast as a jackal’, which could explain why a worker is represented by the image of a jackal.’

Continued existence

Surprisingly enough, the identity signs continued to exist even after the workers started to make more use of writing. Van der Moezel: ‘People often assume that identity signs are ‘more primitive’ than written language, and that writing will slowly but surely take over from symbols. However, what we see is that writing and symbols continue to exist alongside one another. There is some interchange between the two, but symbols have never been ousted as a means of communication. Symbols continue to be useful because you can express a lot more in a single symbol than in a letter or a word.’

Symbolizing Identity

Van der Moezel’s PhD is part of a larger project entitled Symbolizing Identity. Identity Marks and their Relation to Writing in New Kingdom Egypt, managed by Dr Ben Haring. Haring was awarded a subsidy in 2011 by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) to conduct this research.

Egyptian court annuls dictator Sisi giving away islands to Saudi Arabia


This video says about itself:

Protests in Cairo over Egypt-Saudi Tiran and Sanafir island deal

16 April 2016

Thousands in the Egyptian capital Cairo have protested President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi decision to hand over two islands to Saudi Arabia.

Sisi’s government last week announced the uninhabited islands of Tiran and Sanafir will be demarcated as being in Saudi waters.

From the BBC:

Egypt court quashes Red Sea islands’ transfer to Saudis

25 minutes ago

An Egyptian judge has quashed a government decision to hand … two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi announced the return of Tiran and Sanafir islands in April, during a visit by Saudi Arabia‘s King Salman.

More than 150 people were jailed in connection with protests over the deal

Tuesday’s verdict is not final and could be overturned by a higher court.

Tiran and Sanafir are uninhabited islands, situated at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba, a strategically important part of the Red Sea that is bordered by Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

President Sisi‘s decision in April to cede control of them sparked widespread unrest and criticism. King Salman had announced a multi-billion dollar aid package to Egypt from Saudi Arabia on his visit, leading some to accuse Mr Sisi of “selling” the islands.

On Tuesday, Egypt’s State Council, an administrative court which oversees lawsuits filed against the government, quashed Mr Sisi’s decision by issuing a verdict annulling a maritime borders agreement.

Cheers in court: By Sally Nabil, BBC News

The maritime border agreement signed earlier this year between Egypt and Saudi Arabia took many Egyptians by surprise.

Since then, protesters have taken to the streets calling the arrangement unconstitutional, and accusing the government of giving away Egyptian territories in return for aid packages and investments worth billions of dollars from Saudi Arabia, a strong backer of President Sisi.

Some of these protesters were arrested and charged with disrupting public order. A few are still behind bars.

The lawsuit was filed by a number of prominent human rights lawyers, headed by a former presidential candidate, Khaled Ali.

When the verdict was issued, many cheered inside the courtroom, chanting “the islands are Egyptian”. But the legal battle has not come to an end yet, because the decision can be appealed.

The verdict stated that the two islands would “remain under Egyptian sovereignty”.

If it is approved by the country’s High Administrative Court it will become legally binding.

Mr Sisi has cracked down on all dissent since leading the military’s overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.

Since then, more than 1,000 people have been killed and 40,000 are believed to have been jailed …

Egyptian dictator el-Sisi secures IMF loan and prepares onslaught against working class: here.