Hmmm... just another blog post

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

It's been a long time since I last posted anything here, I've just been all busy with many things those last 15 days, and also my university just started today...

Anyway, I've been looking at my old emails and I found an e-mail that was sent to me by "an intern at the press department of the French Embassy in Cairo," he said, and showed interest in me and my blog... My answers to his questions sum up a lot of my opinions on different issues, and i thought i'd post that email here, so here it is:

On 7/3/05, Scpo.LE-CAIRE-AMBA [e-mail address hidden] wrote:

Who are you ? [What kind of family are you from ? Did you travel or live abroad ? What did your studied ? What is your job ? How old are you ?]

What do you think ? [about Egyptian political life / Hosni Moubarak / opposition personnalities / islamists / the Kefaya movement and its various elements / US foreign policy / EU foreign policy, especially France foreign policy / the desirable political and economical system / religion]

Are you involved in any political or socially aware movement ?

About the blogs ; Why did you choose the blog to express yourself ?
What kind of relations do you have with other Egyptian bloggers ?
Who reads your blog ?

Do you have the feeling to be representative or useful ?

All these kinds of stuff. If you prefer not to write it on an unsecure medium like the Web, we can meet in real life and discuss.

Regards,
Jean-Baptiste.

On 7/13/05, Mamdu Schauki [mschauki@gmail.com] replied:

Hello, I'm really sorry i didn't reply that fast because your questions needed some time of focus so i'm now ready to answer them :-)

I'm Mamdu Schauki. My father is very religious, unlike my mother who is much more liberal. I don't live with my father anyway, rather with my mother and stepfather, so it's easier for me because, unlike my father, to me nothing is sacred enough to not criticise. I did travel to Germany once for a week in August 2000, and stayed in Illinois USA for 4 months in 2001 as an exchange student. I also went to the Seeds of Peace camp in Maine, USA, in 2002 and 2003, where young people from countries of conflict stay together for 23 days.

I'm a Mass Communication student, 19 years old.

Egyptian political life nowadays is really complicated: you see new movements coming up every now and then, all claiming to want democracy, and this is like a wake-up for political life here that used to be almost dead. Hosni Mubarak is a dictator, Egypt has become much worse in many aspects ever since the dictators came to power. I don't really care if he's got a charismatic personality, because this is not making Egypt any better.

As for opposition personalities, i can't really make one opinion on all of them. But if you ask me about Aiman Nour, for instance, then I believe he's got no specific "message" to send. His party is supposed to be liberal, but as i used to be a member in that party (El Ghad), i believe that party has no specific goals (well, democracy is one, but how does that make it any different from other political parties and movements?), and i don't support it.

I am totally against Islamists, especially the fact that they want Islamic rule in Egypt. In a country with Muslims, Christians, a few Jews, Baha'is, and other religious groups that are in the closet, it is unfair to rule according to any religious law. And I also believe that this goes against the unity of Egyptians and Egyptian Identity.

Kifaya is not logical. Islamists, communists, secularists, Nasserists, and many other conflicting political groups can't really unite. This is an illusion. They claim they're united for democracy, but as i've been to one of their demonstrations: the mottos that are said are not neutral ones, and this is unfair.

The US has done good going into Iraq and getting rid of Saddam, and into Afghanistan getting rid of the Taliban. I wish the US and the EU, though, would start recognizing that in Egypt they're dealing with a dictator, and should help in getting rid of him, too... The same goes to France individually, and as part of the EU: make Mubarak feel that you're not happy dealing with a dictator.

Egypt should have a secular system that separates religion and state. This is based on what I said about Islamists earlier. As for the economic system: a more-capitalist mixed economy I think would be best.

I believe religion should be respected, but should not be forced on people through politics. The State should not relate to one religion and not another, the State should not be worried about people's afterlives, but rather their current lives.

I'm now a member in the new establishing Mother Egypt party; a secular, Egyptianist party that demands a secular state, and the return of the Egyptian Identity. We believe Egypt is not and was never an Arab country, because Egyptians are Egyptians, not Arabs.

As for why I chose a blog to express myself: well, in August and September last year i came across some blogs and i was not really familiar with them. The idea of a space for you to write your thoughts and have people read them interested me, and i started my own blog. I really didn't think anyone would read it, but it was great writing my thoughts somewhere and even just reading them over for myself.

I don't have special relations with any Egyptian bloggers, but i read some of the Egyptian blogs, some of which are really interesting with quite unique thoughts.

Whether I'm representative of anything is not up to me to decide. I just have my thoughts and hope for a better future for Egypt, really, according to my secular, Egyptianist beliefs.

Thanks a lot again for your interest in me and my blog, and again i apologize for not replying earlier.

posted by Matthew Schauki at 9/27/2005 08:00:00 PM 5 comments

The Egyptian Presidential Erection 2005

Saturday, September 03, 2005

This presidential election in Egypt is a very funny "masra7eya" (play)! A dictatorship cannot just switch into a democracy, the same way a cat can't become a mouse.

Here's what i think:

- THE CANDIDATES are hilarious people, stupid and pathetic (e.g. Ahmad el-Sabbahi), very rude and dictators themselves (e.g. Noaman Goma), which makes you think they were probably all chosen by the current system to play the roles of the candidates.

- MUBARAK wants even more power, it's never enough for him, even if he has to abuse the minds and hearts of Egyptians, and their traditions, to propagate for himself.

- RELIGIOUS LEADERS have never been uglier, lower people than they are now. They are using their religious authority in favor of Mubarak, and also abusing the fact that people trust them as leaders of the religious communities.

- NO INTERNATIONAL SUPERVISION. They say it with much pride: "no foreign interference in Egypt's business!" Well who the fuck are they fooling?! This is not "just another" presidential election somewhere in the world; it is an election that everybody knows by heart will be screwed. So without "foreign interference" this election is just hoax.

posted by Matthew Schauki at 9/03/2005 10:52:00 PM 3 comments

Assassination of Sadat: The uninvestigated and forgotten crime

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Click here to sign a petition to the United Nations urging it to start investigating Sadat's assassination as it investigates El-Hariri's.

From The Free Egyptians - The Egyptian people who hail Sadat as the "hero of war and peace" have the conviction that Mubarak has purposely omitted to order 'real' investigations into the assassination of Sadat simply because he stood behind it.

Saad El-Deen Ibraheem, Egypt's leading human rights activist, was about to form 5 years ago an independent investigative team to look into the assassination of Sadat when Mubarak framed him of a fictitious crime and put him behind bars for 3 years, instead of 7 after the US intervention.

Also, 2 years ago, Mubarak was very furious that the image of Sadat's body as riddled with bullets was leaked and published for the first time ever after the assassination of Sadat in a local independent weekly newspaper. Mubarak had the chief editor fired. Republishing of the image by any newspaper has been banned.

Mubarak does have every good reason for suppressing information about Sadat's murder and for refusing to order full scale independent, transparent investigation into the matter.

According to witness accounts published in the Egyptian weekly Al-Araby Al-Nasery on June 19, 2005, Sadat had sacked Mubarak but told him to remain in office until Sadat found a replacement. Early on the morning of October 6, assassination day, Sadat had appointed the former deputy prime minister, Dr. Abdel Kader Hatem, as vice president in Mubarak's place. Sadat was supposed to have signed a presidential decree to this effect after the parade. Al-Araby Al-Nasery published a photo of Sadat shaking hands with Dr. Hatem on the morning of October 6. This would be the first time that such a photo comes to light. According to the said newspaper, Sadat was angry with Mubarak because the later had been making secret contacts with the military behind Sadat's back. Other reports say that Sadat also had been made aware of the fact that Mubarak was secretly contacting the Saudi government. The Saudi government had severed all relations with the Egyptian government following the signing of peace treaty between Egypt and Israel in March 1979. The fanatic Saudi religious establishment which is closely connected to the royal family had condemned Sadat to death for making peace with "the Jews, the enemies of Allah." Sadat was defiant and said "the Saudis were but a bunch trash nomads before we cleaned and educated them." The Saudi royal family responded by saying that Saudi Arabia would never have anything to do with Egypt so long as Sadat remained in power.

Sadat had in a surprise and unexplainable move appointed in 1975 general Hosni Mubarak, the hitherto commander of the Egyptian air force, as vice president. It was reported then that Sadat's influential wife, Jehan, had recommended Mubarak for the post. Sadat's half-British wife and Mubarak's half-British wife are cousins. Mubarak, however, has spread the rumor that the US government imposed him on Sadat. Mubarak still uses this rumor to promote the other rumor that the US government was behind the assassination of Sadat.

To consolidate his position which was thought to be too big for him by almost every Egyptian, newly appointed vice president Mubarak had begun almost immediately to appoint his confidants in sensitive positions in the military, the police, secret service and in the administration.

One such confidant was Mubarak's old friend colonel Abu Ghazala. Abu Ghazala was only the commander of the artillery unit of the 2nd army when Mubarak became vice president. Only 2 years later Mubarak appointed Abu Ghazala military attaché to Washington as a first step in a spectacular advancement plan Mubarak devised for Abu Ghazala. It is noteworthy that Mubarak also appointed his half-British brother-in-law, wing commander Mounir Sabet, the head of the arms procurement office in Washington. However, 3 years later, in 1980, General Ahmed Badawi, the then Minister of defense, recalled Abu Ghazala from Washington to assume the post of director of military intelligence. As this interfered with Mubarak's advancement plan for Abu Ghazala, Mubarak told Abu Ghazala to disobey the transfer order and remain in Washington. In January 1981, Mubarak appointed Abu Ghazala chairman of chiefs of staff, a post only second to the minister of defense. On March 6, 1981, the minister of defense and archenemy of Mubarak along with 13 high ranking military personnel died in a highly controversial and questionable helicopter crash. Abu Ghazala was supposed to be on the the plan with the minister of defense but his trip was cancelled at the last minutes on orders by vice president Mubarak. Abu Ghazala succeeded general Badawi as minister of defense. So, Mubarak advanced Abu Ghazala from a colonel to minister of defense in only 4 years passing over and bypassing hundreds in the chain of command.

As minister of defense and general commander of the armed forces, Abu Ghazala busied himself immediately he took office with the preparation for annual military parade commemorating the Yom-Kippur War which was due only 6 months thence.

The internal political situation in Egypt was boiling and heading to a disaster at the time. The fanatic anti-Jewish, anti-peace Wahabi royal family and religious establishment of Saudi Arabia which had officially declared Jihad following the signing of peace treaty between Egypt and Israel in March 1979 had thrown all its economic and political weight behind a plan aimed at damaging peace and punishing Sadat to make an example of him in order to deter any Arab or Muslim ruler from making peace with Israel in the future. The Saudi government which had already gained strong foothold on the political, economic, religious and cultural life in Egypt since Nasser's death used its connections and influence with the Islamic groups, mass media and officials and politicians that had been on the generous payroll of the Saudi government with the idea of mobilizing the Egyptian public opinion against Sadat and peace in order to destabilize and overthrow Sadat's regime. Meanwhile, the Saudi, Iraqi and other Arab governments formed the so-called rejections front whose main objective was to frustrate peace. Egypt's membership in the Arab league was suspended. Sadat had become completely isolated in the Arab and Muslim world. In July 1981, crown prince Fahd declared his peace initiative as an alternative to peace between Egypt and Israel. The initiative was rejected by both Egypt and Israel. The Saudis felt the need to do something fast for the fear that other Arab countries might be tempted to follow Sadat's example. They also feared that Sadat might try to destabilize their own regime using his strong ties with the US and Israel. To promptly rid the Arabs and Muslims of 'traitor and kafer (idolater) Sadat,' the Saudi-controlled Islamic groups of Egypt( the Brotherhood, Jihad and Jamaa Islamya- popularly dubbed in Egypt the Saudi 5th column) which were mobilizing for action against Sadat openly condemned Sadat to death as a "kafir who makes peace with the enemies of Allah". It is noteworthy that the Saudi government had tried numerous times to get Nasser killed in late 1950s early 1960s using elements of the Brotherhood and religious army officers. In one instance, the Saudi government paid Egyptian lieutenant Essam Khalil US$ 1 million to kill Nasser. Khalil, however, surrendered the money and himself to Nasser. To spite the Saudis, Nasser put Khalil in charge of the super secret rocket project. Therefore, Sadat panicked and on Mubarak's advice ordered on September 4, 1981, the roundup of all the religious leaders along with his major political opponents, including journalists, writers, politicians and party leaders. That did not eliminate the threat on Sadat's life. According to the then minister of interior, El-Nabawi Ismail, the state security agency (Mabaheth) reported that it was in a possession of a video film showing shooting training in the desert by elements of Jamaa Islamya. He also said that there were credible and confirmed reports that various Islamic groups would shoot Sadat during the annual parade of October 6th. Almost everyone in the country knew that Islamic extremists would try to assassinate Sadat during the parade. Why were not those practicing to kill the president rounded up too?

In those hectic and paranoid days how could anyone come close enough to Sadat to shoot him. During the parade, Sadat had four layers of security: personal bodyguards, who were within 15 meters of Sadat; the Republican (Presidential) Guard, a military unit of commandos selected to guard the president, which was stationed outside the 15 meters; the Ministry of Interior and Central Security Services (Amn al-Markazy), which provided rooftop surveillance and roadside security for Sadat's motorcade; and other civilian police and military guards.

Despite this redundantly tough security, the assassins were able to get within 15 meters of Sadat and kill him.

By August 6, 1981, Mubarak had replaced all Sadat's men in key and sensitive positions by his own. The minister of defense, the minister of interior, the director of general intelligence, the chairman of chiefs of staff, the director of military intelligence and the director of the state security directorate , to name a few, were now Mubarak's men.

The assassins participated in the parade, though they were not in the military, save for their leader, lieutenant Islamboly, who had been banned in the previous 3 years from participating in the parade for security reasons( his elder brother was serving time in prison for his affiliation with Jamaa Islamya.)

The assassins could not have avoided all the extraordinarily tough security hurdles on their own. Even if they manage to participate in the parade, they could not have been cleared through 10 checking points with live ammunition, grenades and firing pins. How can the 5 of them overpower Sadat's 150 guards who seal off completely a circle around the president whose radius exceeds 15m? As the assassins were able to overcome all these impenetrable defenses with so much ease, then they must have been aided and abetted by accomplices that are very highly placed in the government. One guess who they were by examining the nature of logistical and intelligence assistance given to the assassins to ensure that they succeed in killing Sadat:

1. The ban on lieutenant Islamboly which was in force for 3 years because he was considered a serious security risk was suddenly lifted without explanation. In fact, he received in mid-August strict orders from the director of the military intelligence to participate in the parade. As an officer in artillery regiment 333, Islamboly's role was to be seated in the cabin of a lorry that tows a large cannon as he used to 3 years before. On the open deck of the lorry, 4 soldiers were to be seated.

2. After having been cleared to participate in the parade, Islamboly was approached by elements of Jamaa Islamya who informed him that he was chosen to carry our a Jihadi ( martyrdom) mission. They introduced him to 4 Jihadis who had just completed military service. One of them, Hussein Ali, who used to be a sniper in the army was in fact the shooting champion of the armed forces. The plan was for Islamboly to replace the original 4 participating soldiers from his unit by the 4 assassins.

3. The 4 assassins and others had been practicing in the desert the shooting of Sadat at the parade. These shooting exercises were made under the supervision and protection of the police. The then minister of interior, Ismaiel, admitted that Mabaheth was in possession of video films of these exercises.

4. Three days before the parade Islamboly was able to dismiss the 4 soldiers from his unit who were assigned to ride the lorry with him at the parade. He gave each of them a 4-day sick leave. Islamboly sneaked the 4 assassins in the barracks impersonating the dismissed 4 soldiers where they stayed for 3 days and participated in the final rehearsals for the parade.

5. Live ammunition and firing pins were removed from weaponry issued to all personnel participating in the parade. As an added security measure, 10 check points were set up by the military police and intelligence along the road leading to the parade area to check papers and search for live ammunition and firing pins. Notwithstanding, the 5 assassins whose lorry was laden with grenades, machine guns with firing pins and live bullets were cleared through all the 10 check points.

6. In view of the shaky security situation in those days, president Sadat, vice president Mubarak and defense minister Abu Ghazala were to wear bullet proof vests under their Nazi-style uniform. In addition, the 150 security guards that surrounded Sadat made it impossible for any potential assassin to get within 15 meters of the president without getting killed or arrested. The wall of the reviewing stand behind which Sadat was seated afforded the president a perfect cover against shooting. If Sadat dived behind the wall, no one can shoot him from the other side of the wall as the wall is too high (180 cm) and too thick (80 cm). Most importantly, how to guarantee that Mubarak, sitting on Sadat's right, and Abu Ghazala, sitting on Sadat's left, would not get hurt in the shooting.

To overcome these obstacles, the following happened:

- Sadat's 150 US-trained security guards were dismissed a few minutes before the lorry carrying the assassins pulled over right in front of the podium. they were ordered to deploy behind the podium. They were told the assassins were to attack the back of the podium.

- Though the ground parade was still in progress, the show in the air began. This attracted everyone's gaze upward just at the time 5 assassins jumped from their army lorry only meters from the podium. The air force acrobatics was timed to begin with the arrival of artillery units in front of the main reviewing stand.

- Sadat was told by his vice president and defense minister to stand up to salute back the officer who was approaching the podium after dismounting from the canon-towing lorry. As Sadat stood up, three, or four, things happened simultaneously. The approaching officer doubled back to fetch grenades and machine gun from the lorry. The former shooting champion of the armed forces who was sitting on the open deck of the lorry stood up and shot Sadat in the neck because he knew beforehand that Sadat would wear bullet proof vest. Both Mubarak and Abu Ghazala dived quickly for cover and crawled as far away from Sadat's falling body as possible. As can be seen from the image of Sadat's body which was classified for over 22 years until leaked by some disgruntled intelligence elements to a local opposition newspaper, Sadat fell on his back after he was shot in the neck and this is evidenced by wounds which are concentrated in his lower abdomen and upper chest. But what about the wounds on his sides which were obviously caused by smaller caliber bullets. The assassins were using 7.62mm caliber submachine guns. Such discrepancies explain why Mubarak suppressed picture of Sadat's body along with other information for a long time So, Mubarak and/or Abu Ghazala must have shot Sadat with small pistols in the commotion to make sure he died.

- someone left a chair on the other side of the podium wall from Sadat on which Islamboly stood and was able to spray Sadat's body with his machine gun. Without the chair, Islamboly could not aim at Sadat.

- Though the assassins appeared to be shooting indiscriminately shooting at everyone in the podium, they shouted to both Mubarak and Abu Ghazala to stay out of harm's way. The assassin Atta Tayel shouted to Abu Ghazala: " get away!." Co-assassin Abdel Hameed Abdel Aal shouted to Mubarak when their eyes met: "it is not you we are after. It is the Pharaoh whom we want." This is highly uncharacteristic because fanatic Islamists consider "those who belong to idolater regime" to be idolaters themselves and deserve to be killed. If they wanted Sadat only, why did they kill 7 more?

Other deceptive tactics employed at the parade included the breakdown of three vehicles right in front of the main reviewing stand 10, 15 and 20 minutes into the parade respectively. When the assassins' lorry pulled over in front of the podium those who weren't gazing at the sky to watch the air show assumed that the lorry had broken down.

If Mubarak was not behind all that, he would have:

1. Sacked Abu Ghazala for being responsible for what happened to the president at the parade.

2. Formed an independent commission to conduct a full scale investigation into the assassination of the president.

Mubarak did the opposite. He promoted Abu Ghazala to field marshal and deputy prime minister as if to reward him for the killing of Sadat. Mubarak released from prison shortly after the assassination of Sadat Omar El-Telmisani, Brotherhood leader, along with other Islamic group leaders and Muslim extremists who were all imprisoned only weeks earlier by Sadat. Did Mubarak reward them for killing Sadat? Also, Mubarak has prevented independent investigations into the killing of Sadat and suppressed vital information pertaining to the crime and concealed or destroyed vital evidence in the case. The most notable evidence which Mubarak has concealed or destroyed is the footage of the parade shot by the Egyptian state-owned television station. It shows Sadat being gestured by both Mubarak and Abu Ghazala to stand up to salute the young officer who was approaching the podium. It shows both Mubarak and Abu Ghazala going down as Sadat rose. There is another equally important piece of evidence that is missing and feared destroyed. It is the video film taken of 4 of Sadat's killers along with others while training in the desert for the killing of Sadat one month before the parade. The former minister of interior, El-Nabawi Ismaiel, said on several occasions that the state security directorate ( Mabaheth) was in possession of this video tape. He also said that Sadat's 4 killers had been under close surveillance by Mabaheth for 2 weeks before the parade.

The plan for the assassination of Sadat must have been the work of an able military planner. He prepared and executed it as a full-fledged war game or maneuver involving ground, air and special forces. He left nothing to chance and took care of every minute detail. He made sure that each and every participant understood and practiced his part well. They must have used a mock up podium while practicing in the desert. Even the aftermath was not neglected. The first thing the police and other security forces did immediately after the shooting stopped was to confiscate and destroy films and videos taken of the parade by photographers and news agencies.

Evidence destruction has begun almost immediately. What contributed to the absence of films showing the actual killing of Sadat was timing the air show to take place at the time the assassins' lorry pulled over in front of the podium. The deafening thunderous sound of a big formation of Mirages flying at a very low altitude and appearing suddenly from behind the podium must have overwhelmed and startled everyone present, including photographers and journalists, and forced him to gaze upward. One Egyptian television camera, however, which is allocated by order for the president alone in any national event was focused on him all the time. It captured everything, including the rise of Sadat and the fall of both Mubarak and Abu Ghazala.

Though this film is missing, a lot of people saw it. In fact there is enough evidence in this case to bring charges against Mubarak, Abu Ghazala and tens of coconspirators. Mubarak once admitted implicitly killing Sadat. In 1984, in answering a question at a local press conference as to why he had not appointed a vice president, Mubarak said: "I did not inherit it.." In English, this amounts to:" I took it by force."

Sadat was a world great leader and his assassination cannot go uninvestigated and unpunished. We therefore urge the United Nations to delegate an investigative commission to Egypt to investigate the killing of Sadat. Sadat is no less a leader than late Hariri of Lebanon and as such Sadat's assassination must be accorded the same international sympathy, attention and investigation.

posted by Matthew Schauki at 9/01/2005 05:23:00 PM 6 comments