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By Mohamed Shuman
With very few exceptions, Egyptian media has become a media where one voice minimizes the opportunities for critical or opposing viewpoints. It imposes one predominant discourse which acquires its influence from insistence and repetition and narrowing the available options displayed before the people in the present and the future. Thus, it is a discourse with neither imagination nor ambition.
Like any other discourse it presents a narrative or a story which is compact in form rather than content.
The most salient features of such a discourse are as follows: Egypt is facing a foreign conspiracy relying on the Muslim Brotherhood and the fifth column as its arms. The 25 January Revolution is a part of this multi-party conspiracy from inside and outside Egypt. There is no alternative but to embrace the security solution in order to confront the Brotherhood and terrorism. Security takes precedence over democratic transition and public freedoms. El-Sisi will achieve great victory in the presidential elections due to his widespread popular support and the military and the backing of state institutions. This in turn, will drive him to vanquish the foreign conspiracy, solve Egypt's problems and achieve a comprehensive developmental start. At this point the underlying discourse of the embodiment of Gamal Abdel-Nasser and Anwar Sadat in El-Sisi begins to be recalled. But analyzing the components of the discourse reveals huge contradictions in attempting to hide behind three mechanisms, namely:
First: vagueness. The discourse promotes a conception of an internal reality which is sophisticated, vague and confusing from the outbreak of the 25 January Revolution to this very moment. The incidents and events of the revolution have been written ambiguously twice. The first time, it was a great and unique popular revolution in which the Egyptians made history as usual and taught humanity how a revolution can be peaceful and popular without a leader or an ideology. Gradually and mysteriously, the narrative evolved as the revolution morphed into a foreign conspiracy executed by the Brotherhood and the youth of the 6 April and Facebook groups.
The story of the 25 January Revolution is far from finalised as history is written by victors and it seems that victory has yet to be achieved in a decisive way for any one political or social party to this point. This provides context for contemplation of the current situation which began on 30 June and the military-created roadmap; will it succeed or repeat the mistakes of the first transitional period led by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces in 2011?
For this reason, media discourse has been focused on the necessity of the roadmap’s success regardless of the vagueness of some of the features of the political system concerning the status and the role of the Brotherhood and political Islam groups, the military's role within politics, the powers of the incoming president and parliament in achieving the revolution's objectives, saving the economy, confronting terrorism and establishing stability and security.
Second: conspiracy mechanisms. The predominant media and political discourse asserts the previously mentioned vagueness and ignores its dangers and sometimes makes use of it to support conspiracy thought mechanisms and rouse the fears of people from the Brotherhood and terrorism. Because the conspiracy in all its manifestations is a mysterious matter and individuals can't possibly discover it, state apparatuses, leaders and intellectuals have been designated as those who hold the relevant experience and knowledge to unveil the conspiracy to the people. But the problem here lies in the fact that the people who believe in the conspiracy may wonder about the ability of such leaders in confronting and defeating it through exacting revenge from the internal and foreign conspiring parties and triumphing over them.
Third: illusions and historical similarities. The discourse promotes many illusions based on wrong perceptions and false presumptions. At the forefront of this is the facileness of the battle to eliminate terrorism and the ability of the security state to efface the Brotherhood from social and political life. This implies that the police and the military will be handling more than they can bear. Moreover, the discourse presumes that El-Sisi is a reproduction of the character and the achievements of Abdel-Nasser and Sadat at the same time albeit the contradictions between them and the difference in circumstance and the historical context among the three men. Thus, the media and political discourse falls victim to the trap of illusions of illogical historical similarities with the only aim being to supply the masses with unrealistic hopes for quick-fixes to their problems. Such hopes were not mentioned by El-Sisi in his nomination address where he was careful to present a totally realistic vision of the country's problems and the necessities of working hard and sacrificing for the sake of rebuilding and development. However, the discourse didn't focus on what El-Sisi stated and instead constructed another world of illusions and historical similarities which is meant to remind Egyptians of Nasser's era and of regaining national dignity and pride. Here the dilemma of media discourse appears as being a short-sighted and opportunistic as it will take a matter of months for people to discover that their problems continue to exist and that actual positive changes move at a rate much slower than the speed of the discourse surrounding such changes. Consequently, the falsity of the predominant media’ discourse will be unveiled, at which point it will return to the conspiracy mechanism to feed the populist trend which is scared for its own security and the protection of the country from conspiracies planning for the state's demolition, infighting and the division of Egypt.
In sum, the predominant discourse of Egypt’s media, which evokes a false narrative of ambiguity, conspiracies, and false comparisons, will revolve in empty circles to reproduce its failure and exert tremendous efforts to hide its contradictions. But like all the false discourses, the predominant discourse might fail and the majority may consequently rebel against it and recall what it has learned from the years post 25 January that reality differs from media discourse and that there are other alternatives to what this discourse promotes.
Cité de l'architecture et du patrimoine
Avec Christophe Bouleau, architecte du patrimoine, Trust Aga Khan pour la Culture (Programme Villes Historiques
Egypt needs to find at least $5 billion to invest in its dilapidated power grid, a government official told Reuters, highlighting a major challenge for the next president as the country faces the risk of worsening blackouts this summer.
Energy is a politically explosive issue in Egypt, where power cuts have become commonplace even in the capital Cairo. Blackouts deepened discontent with Islamist President Mohamed Mursi before his ouster last July.
While gas shortages have been blamed for the crisis, senior electricity ministry official Sabah Mohamed Mashaly said modernizing the grid should be a priority.
"We don't have any (capacity) reserves, we just cover the load demand," Mashaly said in an interview.
She said additional power capacity was needed to fill sudden production falls caused by accidents and maintenance work at Egypt's 51, mainly gas-fired, power stations, of which about a quarter are more than 20 years old.
Mashaly said renovating these and building new ones would carry a price tag for cash-strapped Egypt of "no less than $4 or $5 billion" plus several billion more to boost the generation capacity of the system.
Par Alexandre Buccianti
Début avril, des accrochages entre une tribu arabe et une tribu nubienne ont fait une trentaine de morts dans la ville d’Assouan. Une démonstration spectaculaire du ras-le-bol des Nubiens. Ces habitants de l’extrême sud de l'Egypte ne sont plus disposés à subir en silence ce qu’ils considèrent comme une longue injustice.
La colère des Nubiens va bien au-delà du différend sur la terre entre la tribu arabe des Banu Hilal et la tribu nubienne de Daboudiya qui a mis le feu aux poudres à Assouan début avril. Cela fait cinquante ans que les Nubiens ont été expulsés de leurs terres pour détourner le Nil et construire le haut barrage d’Assouan. Une Nubie qui, depuis lors, est immergée sous le lac Nasser qui s’étend sur 500 kilomètres entre l’Egypte et le Soudan. Les terres où les Nubiens ont été transférés étaient partiellement occupées par des tribus arabes qui sont en conflit permanent avec les Nubiens.
La Nubie, un nouveau Sinaï ?
Il y a deux ans, de jeunes Nubiens ont annoncé la formation du mouvement armé « Katala », « un mouvement de libération » selon ses fondateurs qui sont pour le moment ultra-minoritaires. Un mouvement né après la décision, fin 2012, du gouvernement Frère musulman de vendre les terrains en bordure du lac Nasser aux enchères à des sociétés d’investissement nationales et internationales. La goutte d’eau qui a fait déborder le vase pour des Nubiens qui, depuis des années, réclamaient « le droit de retour » à leurs terres.
Les autorités ont commencé par geler le projet des Frères musulmans. La mention de la langue et de la culture nubienne a été votée dans la Constitution amendée début 2014. Les Nubiens sont en effet les seuls Egyptiens à disposer d’une langue native autre que l’arabe si l’on exclut l’oasis de Siwa où les bédouins parlent une forme d’amazigh. Les chefs des tribus nubiennes ont récemment été reçus par l’ex-maréchal al-Sissi, candidat ultra-favori pour la présidence de la République. Un militaire conscient de l’importance stratégique des Nubiens en tant que gardiens de la frontière sud de l’Egypte dont le sud-ouest, contrôlé par les bédouins, est une vraie passoire.
Un général de la police a été tué, mercredi 23 avril, par une bombe placée sous sa voiture au Caire, ont annoncé les forces de l'ordre, victimes de multiples attentats dans une Egypte théâtre d'une sanglante répression.
L'attaque a été perpétrée dans le quartier huppé du 6-Octobre, dans l'est de la capitale, et visait le général de brigade Ahmed Zaki, haut responsable de la police antiémeute. Cette unité est toujours aux premiers rangs des forces de l'ordre dans la répression des manifestations des pro-Morsi.
Il s'agit de la cinquième attaque visant la police en une semaine, et M. Zaki est le troisième général tué depuis le début de l'année dans des attentats revendiqués principalement par des groupes djihadistes armés disant s'inspirer d'Al-Qaida et assurant agir en représailles de la répression menée contre les partisans de M. Morsi, seul président jamais élu démocratiquement en Egypte.
Depuis la destitution et l'arrestation du président Morsi par l'armée le 3 juillet, plus de 1 400 manifestants islamistes ont été tués par les policiers ou les soldats — dont 700 au Caire dans la seule journée du 14 août —, et plus de 15 000 de sespartisans ont été arrêtés et des centaines condamnés à mort dans des procès expéditifs.
Dans le même temps, les attentats et attaques visant la police et l'armée se sont multipliés : le gouvernement installé et dirigé de facto par l'armée assure que plus de 250 policiers, près de 190 soldats et une soixantaine de civils ont péri dans ces attaques, qu'il attribue, lui, aux Frères musulmans, l'influente confrérie de M. Morsi, décrétée « organisation terroriste ».
By: Omar Wehbe
Serious challenges lie ahead for the Egyptian economy. There is a sense of anticipation in the air tainted by pessimism due to the current political situation. According to the last poll conducted by the Egyptian cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center, 80 percent of citizens do not trust the performance of the government. But what specifically is driving the average Egyptian citizen’s pessimism? And what should economic reforms focus on?
A joint statement by several rights and environmental groups accused the government of giving in to pressure by cement factories while turning a blind eye to the disastrous impact of coal on Egypt and its citizens.
“Cement investors are waging a political and media war to push the government to overlook the hazards of using coal through taking advantage of the current energy crisis and promising to reduce cement prices in return,” said the statement. “The cabinet is siding with those investors and ignoring the studies that underline the grave consequences of such a decision.”
In addition to the general environmental hazards, the statement specifically highlighted the impact of using coal on residents of areas surrounding cement factories, and which is expected to last for several generations. The signatories expressed their surprise that while the world’s biggest industrial countries are moving away from coal, Egypt insists on using it.
“In Germany, 61% of energy used in the cement industry is generated from waste and in the Netherlands, the percentage rose to 98% in 2009.” According to the statement, several developing countries are also working on long-term plan to discard polluting sources of energy. “Kenya is expected to generate 50% of its energy from solar energy by 2016 while Morocco will generate 42% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.”
Egyptians Against Coal, one of the signatories of the above statement, emerged as the most vocal opponent to the use of coal. Comprised of rights activists and environmental experts, the group launched a campaign to underline the damaging effects of coal.
According to a statement issued by the group, the only beneficiary of the cabinet’s decisions are cement investors whose profits will skyrocket after using a cheap source of energy such as coal. The main loser is the Egyptian people, whose health will suffer drastically.
“Coal affects the brain, the nerves, the lungs, and the blood. Research proved that inhaling coal dust causes redox reactions and increases chances of lung cancer, blood viscosity, and narrowed blood vessels.” All these effects, the statement explained, are the result of being around coal, and before even starting the process of burning it to generate power.
The group questioned the government’s allegations about the use of coal being a temporary solution. “The use of coal requires a significant change in the infrastructure, which would make Egypt dependent on it for at least the coming 40 years. We can already see other industries like iron and steel and tiles asking to use coal, too.”
Minister of Trade, Energy and Investment Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour was among the most prominent senior officials who supported the cabinet’s decision. Abdel Nour said Egypt is facing a real energy crisis and coal offers a realistic solution. “Energy shortage is a major challenge to economic and industrial development, especially with oil and natural gas being unable to meet all demands,” he said.
Several developed countries have had positive experiences with coal as long as regulations are applied, he added. Abdel Nour, who announced that coal will start to be used as of September, argued that while depending on new and renewable sources of energy is vital, it does not offer an immediate solution.
“Those offer medium- to long-term solutions, while we need alternative sources of energy as soon as possible to supply industrial needs, attract investment, and create more job opportunities,” he said.
Minister of Electricity and Energy Mohamed Shaker adopted the same view, as he unraveled plans to construct a coal-operated power station in the Red Sea to solve the problem of blackouts, and downplayed fears of harmful effects. “Power-generating stations have now reached the highest levels of technology so emissions are reduced to the minimum,” he said.
Owners of cement factories see importing coal as the only available way to save their businesses, which had for a long time depended on subsidized natural gas. “My factories completely stopped operating for almost a month last summer,” said Moataz Mahmoud, who owns cement factories in the Upper Egyptian cities of Qena and Aswan. “We have a huge energy crisis.”
In response to the argument about the effect on coal on residents in neighborhoods close to the factories, Mahmoud said this only applies to a few cases. “Most of the factories are far away from residential areas, so why don’t they give at least approval now to the factories that are far away?”
Ramah Taha, managing director of a cement factory in Aswan, said the cement sector submitted a study that details the plan cement factories are to follow in order to ensure the safest use of coal.
“The study included all the precautions that we would take in order to use coal, the specifications of the filters, mills, and ports, and all the involved ministries agreed, including the prime minister, except for the minister of environmental affairs,” he said.
By SARA OSAMA SHOUREAP
CAIRO: Salafi preachers are prohibited from giving sermons in Cairo mosques even if they possess a certificate from Al-Azhar, Deputy of Religious Endowment Gaber Tayee told Youm7 on Tuesday.
No one is allowed to take to the podium except for those assigned by the Ministry of Religious Endowment, Tayee said.
The Salafi preacher Mohamed Hassan obtained a certificate from Al-Azhar but he is not a preacher according to the Ministry of Religious Endowment, and if he decides to preach in any mosque he will not b allowed, said Tayee.
“If he preaches by force, I will file an official report against him,” Tayee added.
The Ministry of Endowment filed a report against a number of preachers, including the preacher Mohamed Hussein Yaqoub, last Friday for preaching in mosques with no authorization, the ministry said in a Friday statement.
The ministry issued a statement on April 20 criticizing the acts of the preacher Mohamed Hussein Yaqoub “and his Salafi group,” as they prevented the preacher Mohamed Ezz al-Deen, who was assigned by the Ministry of Endowment, from doing his job last Friday in al-Rahman al-Raheem mosque.
The ministry urged the authorities to take the necessary procedures to protect mosques and the endowment’s preachers against any potential assaults, the statement added.
The Sufi leader Abdel Hady al-Kasaby issued a statement on April 20 denouncing the “thugs” that prevented Sheikh Mohamed Ezz al-Deen from doing his job and giving the Friday sermon at al-Rahman al-Raheem mosque.
Anger has erupted in recent months over several preachers who have addressed politics in their sermons. The ministry has dismissed a number of preachers for inciting violence.
The Ministry of Religious Endowment dismissed eight Muslim Brotherhood leaders from their posts to eliminate what has become known as the “Brotherhoodization” of the ministry, according to a March 7 statement from the ministry.
In a statement issued in January, the ministry said three preachers were suspended from work in South Sinai because they violated the ministry’s rules for preaching.
On March 11, the ministry decided to put all mosques in Egypt under its supervision for a period not exceeding one month, according to Youm7.
Additionally reporting by Ismail Refaat.
After having arrested the operator of the Feloul Satellite Channel on Monday, Egyptian authorities are preparing to shut the channel down, along with 55 others.
Those under the spotlight are reported to include music and entertainment channels, along with some religious channels, all of which are said to be unlicensed in Egypt.
Acting on an arrest warrant issued from the prosecutor general, security forces detained Sama al-Masry, a politicized belly dancer who launched the Feloul Satellite Channel in January.
The term “feloul” refers to remnants of the old (Mubarak) regime. It reflects the nature of this channel, which prides itself on being anti-Muslim Brotherhood and against the January 25 Revolution. However, the channel is still broadcasting via a Bahraini satellite provider.
On Tuesday, Brigadier General Mohie Salama — Chief of the Artistic Works Department at the Giza Security Directorate — told Al-Arabiya that a total of 56 satellite channels would be shut down as they lacked authorization to broadcast in Egypt.
Salama commented that most of these unlicensed satellite channels have been broadcasting via overseas satellite providers, particularly in Bahrain and France. The general added that the ministries of information, interior, and foreign affairs would soon take action, in coordination with French and Bahraini communication authorities, against all unregulated channels.
The privately owned Al-Masry Youm daily reported on Monday that former Defense Minister and presidential candidate Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has reduced his campaign size to fend off claims of over-expenditure.
According to the newspaper, Sisi's campaign team has now been reduced to four main executives. Amr Moussa, the former head of the 2013 constitutional committee, and Mahmoud Karem, an ambassador, have been kept on the team, along with two members who have yet to be identified.
Sources close to Sisi said he prefers a campaign that is less official and more popular in nature. Al-Masry Al-Youm also reported that some of his supporters have objected to the way members of his official campaign were chosen, overlooking the popular campaigns supporting his bid even before he announced that he would run.
The original official campaign had reportedly included figures such as Mostafa Abdel Gelil, a member of the Egyptian Association for Change that stood against deposed President Hosni Mubarak, Khaled Youssef, a filmmaker, and Amr al-Shobaky, a political scientist, among others.
Some analysts have repeatedly said that Sisi's campaign is built upon his widespread popularity and, accordingly, he doesn't need an official campaign or an electoral program.
Les autorités égyptiennes annoncent que la récolte de blé de cette année tourne autour de 9 millions de tonnes, soit environ 500 000 tonnes de moins que les prévisions officielles qui tablaient sur 9,5 millions de tonnes. De leur côté, les traders consultés par Reuters indiquent que la récolte n’excèdera pas les 7 millions de tonnes.
Cette production, qui montre le chemin qu’il reste à parcourir au pays pour d’atteindre son autosuffisance, à été obtenue a partir d’une superficie de 1,34 million d’hectares indique Al-Arham. Le gouvernement, quant à lui, à d’ores et déjà annoncé son intention d’acquérir 4 millions de tonnes de la production nationale. Ce blé lui permettra de poursuivre son programme de subventions du pain, qui connaît actuellement quelques ratés en raison de la contrebande.
L’Égypte qui est le premier importateur mondial de blé, fait entrer sur son territoire environ dix millions de tonnes de la céréale, chaque année.
By Bassem Sabry