Syria's Palestinian refugees thought Egypt would be safe. Now they want to get to Europe.
On Friday, 50 Syrian and Palestinian refugees detained in the Montaza II police station in Alexandria, Egypt began a hunger strike. Men, women, and even some children are participating.The UN High Commissioner for Refugees confirmed that they refused food Friday morning, and said that it is in touch with the police and the refugees, trying to convince them to eat.
“Therefore we hope that ... the maximum penalty will be applied, death by hanging, in the hope that this judgment will be carried out on the walls of the Itahadeya presidential palace in the same place that al-Husseini Abu Deif was martyred.”
The uprisings now sometimes collectively called “The Arab Spring” seemed at first like stories about the political and economic empowerment of young people. But in Egypt, after the military removed President Mohamed Morsi from power in July, some youth have begun to look at the events of the last two years in a different light: In February of 2011, President Hosni Mubarak stepped down with millions of Egyptians in the streets.
Alaa Al-Aswany is Egypt’s preeminent novelist. His 2002 best-seller The Yacoubian Building highlighted the political corruption, moral duplicity, and economic inequality of contemporary Egypt, and established him as one of the most influential critics of Hosni Mubarak’s regime.
Egyptians marked the fortieth anniversary of their army's putative triumph over Israel by bloodying one another in Tahrir Square. Syrians, too, commemorated the date with internecine violence. Only in Israel were chests, rather than heads, beaten in collective remembrance. The contrast illustrated the curious ways history can be marshaled, forgotten, and mourned. Memory indeed serves, but ever-changing masters.
These charts should give pause to any dictator considering an Internet blackout
The Syrian city of Aleppo briefly regained access to the Internet yesterday, ending an information blackout that lasted well over a month. As of this afternoon, though, it looks like the city is back offline. During the brief window of access, people on the ground issued celebratory tweets even as fighting continues in the city, one of the main battlegrounds of Syria's civil war.
In a certain sense, the Obama administration’s decision to withhold much of the $1.3 billion in annual aid given to Egypt isn’t surprising. U.S. law mandates cutting off aid to countries in which a coup has taken place, and the Egyptian military’s ouster of President Mohamed Morsi this summer was, analytically speaking, exactly that.
Syrians refugees thought Egypt would be safe. They were wrong.
Long before the start of the Arab Spring, Syrians in the southern town of Saqba had close ties with Egyptians in Damietta. For generations, the two towns were their countries’ capitals of furniture making, and businessmen and artisans moved back and forth between them. When Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s regime began driving citizens from their homes, many residents of Saqba found Damietta a logical destination. Some had existing relationships with Egyptians there, and Egypt overall was welcoming toward Syrian refugees.
In the 16 months after Hosni Mubarak’s dramatic February 2011 ouster, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood quickly rose from the cave to the castle, winning the parliamentary and presidential elections, and then appointing its members to executive positions across the Egyptian government. But 15 months and an uprising-cum-coup later, even the Brotherhood’s former caves are off-limits to it.
Last week, Egypt’s military-backed government continued its decapitation of the Muslim Brotherhood, arresting four top officials. These included three members of the Brotherhood’s 17-member executive Guidance Office, as well as an official in the Brotherhood’s Cairo office.