The Subversive Power of Grief

by Paul Sedra | published December 13, 2016 - 2:09pm

The state-run funeral for the victims of the Butrusiyya Church massacre was a carefully organized, managed and controlled affair. Mourners without officially printed invitations were turned away from the proceedings, ostensibly for security reasons. Watching the ceremony on television, one could scarcely escape the impression that the relatives of the martyrs were of only secondary importance compared with the tightly interwoven array of military, state and church officials who dominated the scene.

Wadi Natroun and Worse

by Nadeen Shaker
published in MER279

On January 25, 2014, Karim Taha and Muhammad Sharif organized separate marches about five miles apart in Cairo to commemorate the third anniversary of the uprising that toppled Husni Mubarak. Both demonstrations were quashed, and the two men met up to share a cab home. The driver took a detour that led them straight into a police checkpoint. They were both arrested and interrogated at a police station. The next day, they were transported to an unofficial prison at a military camp near one of Cairo’s satellite cities.

The Plight of Egypt's Political Prisoners

by Nadeen Shaker
published in MER279

On December 2, 2013, Mahienour al-Massry organized a protest on the corniche running along the Mediterranean seafront in Alexandria, Egypt’s second city. The human rights attorney’s raven ponytail and oversized black glasses made her easy to spot amid the dozens of people with their backs turned to the sea and their eyes trained on the courthouse across the busy roadway. Inside the building, two police officers were appealing their conviction for the brutal killing of Khalid Sa‘id in 2010, one of the incidents that galvanized the 2011 uprising that brought down President Husni Mubarak. The protesters shouted: “Down with every agent of the military!”

Dissidence and Deference Among Egyptian Judges

by Mona El-Ghobashy
published in MER279

After the coup of July 3, 2013, judges in Egypt repeatedly shocked polite world opinion. In hasty proceedings held in police facilities, in the absence of defense attorneys, courts passed down sentences of death and life imprisonment for thousands of supporters of the ousted Muhammad Mursi, Egypt’s first elected president. In one pair of cases in Minya province in 2014, 1,212 people were condemned to die for the killing of two policemen. Mursi himself faces six separate trials. In one of these, related to Mursi’s escape from illegal detention as a political prisoner in the early days of the 2011 uprising that unseated Husni Mubarak, judge Shaaban al-Shami imposed the death penalty.

Shenker, The Egyptians

by Joshua Stacher
published in MER278

Jack Shenker, The Egyptians: A Radical Story (London: Penguin, 2016).

Jack Shenker’s book is the definitive account of the 2011 Egyptian uprising to date. Many scholars and journalists have taken as their point of departure the notion that the uprising was a one-off democratizing experiment that failed. With his on-the-ground reporting, Shenker offers a compelling alternative view of a historical process—a revolution—that is still unfolding. The Egyptians weaves the voices of ordinary people into an analysis of social movements and crumbling governance as vampire-like capitalism sinks its fangs into the largest Arab society.

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Egypt's Transition under Nasser

by Joel Beinin , Ellis Goldberg
published in MER107

Mahmoud Abdel-Fadil, The Political Economy of Nasserism: A Study in Employment and Income Distribution Policies in Urban Egypt, 1952-1972 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980).

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Sadat's Moment, Egypt's History

by Judith Tucker
published in MER107

David Hirst and Irene Beeson, Sadat (London: Faber and Faber, 1981).

Ghali Shoukri, Egypte, la contre-revolution (Paris: Editions Le Sycomore, 1979).

These two assessments of the past decade in Egypt pose the question of approach: Can we most conveniently comprehend the period by studying the role Anwar al-Sadat played in it? Do this one man’s thoughts and deeds provide the lens for viewing the post-Nasser era as a whole? The two books give vastly different answers, reflecting the varying backgrounds of the authors no less than their own senses of purpose.

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Sadat's Alter Ego

by Mohamed Sid-Ahmed
published in MER107

Osman Ahmed Osman, Egypt’s entrepreneurial tycoon, enjoyed a privileged status that cannot be attributed solely to his role as Sadat’s closest confidant, or even to his kinship by marriage with the president. Many Egyptians came to see him as Sadat’s alter ego, minus the latter’s presidential immunity.

Until shortly before his death, Sadat had denounced every attack on Osman as being directed at him personally, but the uproar occasioned by Osman’s recently published autobiography, My Experience, made this full endorsement no longer possible. Sadat had to accept Osman’s resignation as deputy prime minister.

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Foreign Investment in Egypt

by James Paul
published in MER107

According to data gathered by the UN Center on Transnational Corporations, the overwhelming majority of foreign investment in Egypt has been from the United States, with the exception of the banking sector. There has been very little European investment, and virtually no Japanese presence. The UN data, covering the period from 1978 through early 1982, is incomplete, as it relies on public sources. It reflects mainly Western corporate investments and understates Arab investment concentrated in tourism and real estate. It does not provide the sums invested, but does break down the investments by parent company, country of origin, and line of business.

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Egypt's Military

by Joe Stork
published in MER107

Egypt’s armed forces number well over 300,000 men, the largest in the Arab world or in Africa. Some two thirds are in the army, and most of the rest in the air force. Since 1952, the top political leadership has been drawn from the armed forces. Since 1968, there has been a “demilitarization” of the top political structures. A recent study calculates that the proportion of cabinet posts held by military officers declined from 35 percent under Nasser to 15 percent under Sadat.

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