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MADA MASR
Mada Masr is an independent Egyptian online newspaper, founded in June 2013, with content in Arabic and English.
Photo of a plastic cup and plastic bags floating in the water in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt
Green
Mohamed Ezz and Nada Arafat

Sharm El-Sheikh, What's Lurking Behind COP27 Shine

The Egyptian coastal resort has been reinvented (again) to host world leaders for the COP27, as it aims to cast a climate-financing-hungry Egypt in a favorable light. But the cosmetic changes hide years of harm to the region's ecosystem.

SHARM EL-SHEIKH — Amgad* arrived in Sharm el-Sheikh about 40 years ago, driven by curiosity like many other Egyptian youths at the time to explore this corner of Sinai, newly returned to Egypt in the wake of the 1973 war after a 15 years of Israeli occupation.

What Amgad found was a small Bedouin village sheltered within an immaculate landscape: to the east, the Gulf of Aqaba, teeming with marine creatures and jeweled with coral reefs; to the south, two Egyptian islands — now transferred to Saudi Arabia — that separated Sinai from Saudi Arabia; to the west, valleys and mountains, part of the Great Rift Valley, traversed by the Bedouin tribes who have settled in the area for centuries.

The coastline is home to 200 unique species of coral, 500 species of marine vegetation and various species of fish and marine animals, part of the Egyptian barrier reefs that marine ecology professor Mahmoud Hassan Hanafy tells Mada Masr are among the last sanctuaries for this type of marine life in the world, having demonstrated unique resilience to climate change. Onshore ecosystems also serve to protect marine life, he notes.

If, however, you’re among the thousands converging on the city this month to attend COP27, four decades separate you from the site of natural beauty that Amgad first laid eyes on.

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A woman stands on a car, in a road full of cars that have stopped. The young woman is raising her arms and is surrounded by protestors walking on the road.
Geopolitics
Lina Attalah

Yes, Iran's Protests Are Different This Time — But How Will It End?

Mass demonstrations and civil disobedience continue to take place in Iran, shaking both its ruling regime and the world. But beyond the headlines, gauging what effects they will really have is a trickier exercise. Mada Masr asked Iranian political scientist Fatemeh Sadeghi about the biggest acts of civil disobedience Iran has seen in decades.

CAIRO — Iranian protesters have continued to take to the streets of their country six weeks since 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was killed by the country’s morality police after they arrested her for “unsuitable” attire.

Protests have spread across the country, with girls in schools, students in universities and labor groups in workplaces galvanized by the movement. Amnesty International reported that military bodies instructed province commanders to “severely confront” the protesters. Rights groups estimate that over 200 people have been killed, including at least 23 children, while thousands have been arrested.

On Oct. 15, a deadly fire broke out in Tehran’s Evin Prison, known to hold human rights activists, journalists, students, lawyers and other opposition figures, raising questions about the circumstances behind the incident. Eight prisoners died, according to official statements, but human rights groups estimate the casualties to be higher.

In this conversation with independent Egyptian media Mada Masr, Fatemeh Sadeghi, a political scientist focused on political thought and gender studies and living between Tehran and London, where she is a research associate at the UCL Institute for Global Prosperity, charts the protests’ evolution over the past month and the state’s response to it.

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Aerial photograph of Egypt's KIMA fertilizer plant
Green
Habiba Fouad

Clean Hydrogen Production In Egypt: A Big Green Step Or More Hot Air?

As the Mediterranean region awakens to the potential of green hydrogen as a clean alternative, Egypt is still hesitant to invest heavily in the sector. For good reason?

CAIRO — When it opened in Aswan in 1963, the KIMA fertilizer plant was a clean energy producer ahead of its time. Running entirely off the surge of cheap, hydroelectric power spilling over from the Aswan Dam, it produced green hydrogen, used to make green ammonia and ultimately fertilizers, all part of a national politics of the time that was oriented toward self-sufficiency.

That the KIMA plant boasted state-of-the-art green credentials was almost a “coincidence” of the project, says Osama Fawzy, hydrogen consultant and manager of Hydrogen Intelligence platform, who attributes the decision to use renewable power at the fertilizer factory to its proximity to the dam and the relatively low cost of hydroelectric power for Egypt at the time. Yet as the natural gas and oil sectors boomed in the 1970s, KIMA’s specialized hydroelectric equipment deteriorated and was never replaced, and the plant was converted to run on cheaper natural gas in 2019.

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Birth Rights And Resources: Why Egypt Has A Record High C-Section Rates
Society
Ahmed Medhat

Birth Rights And Resources: Why Egypt Has A Record High C-Section Rates

Seven out of ten children in Egypt are born by Caesarian section, over three times the world average, according to recent government data. C-sections may be more profitable and easier to schedule for overworked and understaffed medical personnel, but they represent a higher physical and mental health risk for new mothers and babies. Civil society and the government are trying to bring more awareness — but reversing the trend will take time.

PORT SAID — Nahla, a 39-year-old Egyptian, and recent mother recalls the birth: “On my due date in February, 15 minutes after I got into my hospital bed, the unbearable pain had me kneeling on the ground and I received no support from the medical staff present at that moment," she recalled. "I turned to my husband, asking him to immediately take me out of there and drive me to my doctor for a cesarean section."

Nahla’s doctor told her she wouldn’t be able to endure the pain of vaginal birth, advising her to opt for a C-section, which she ultimately did even though there was no medical necessity for it. It was not until later that she learned that she could have undergone vaginal birth with epidurals or other painkillers..

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Egypt's Overcrowded Christian Churches Are A Fire Risk — Building New Ones Is Risky Too
Society
Mohamed Abu Deif

Egypt's Overcrowded Christian Churches Are A Fire Risk — Building New Ones Is Risky Too

After a fire at a church in August killed 42 people, Egypt's Christians are worried about the fate of their places of worship, which lack proper infrastructure and financial support to meet safety standards. But, as Egypt's Mada Masr reports, this is not a new problem, and it is one that has been ongoing for years, during which Christians were not given permission to set up churches.

GIZA — The St. Demiana Church is only distinguishable from surrounding buildings in the neighborhood of Imbaba, in northern Giza, by the crosses on its windows and the security kiosk and metal gate encircling its perimeter. Before prayers commence, the church is already packed to the brim, as hundreds of families fill the premises leaving almost no standing room.

As people pack in, the parish priest, Father Ghaios Bekhit, conducts a safety check around the premises. He checks on the state of the electric cables attached to the air conditioning units and ensures the functionality of the fire extinguishers.

His vigilance has been triggered by fear of a fire scenario repeating itself in his own parish, in the aftermath of the tragic fire that broke out just 4 kilometers away in the Martyr Philopateer St. Mercurius [Abu Sefein in Arabic] Church in Imbaba, during a morning mass, said to have been caused by an electric short-circuit in an air conditioning unit in the building. According to the Public Prosecution., 42 people were killed in the August 14 blaze, including 15 children.

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Patronage Or Politics? What's Driving Qatar And Egypt Grand Rapprochement
Geopolitics
Beesan Kassab, Daniel O'Connell, Ehsan Salah, Hazem Tharwat and Najih Dawoud

Patronage Or Politics? What's Driving Qatar And Egypt Grand Rapprochement

For Cairo, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil,” with anger directed at Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, and others critical of Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood ouster. But the vitriol is now gone, with the first ever visit by Egyptian President al-Sisi to Doha.

For the first time since coming to power in 2014, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi traveled to Doha last month on an official visit, a capstone in a steadily building rapprochement between the two countries in the last year.

Not long ago, however, the photo-op capturing the two heads of state smiling at one another in Doha would have seemed impossible. In the wake of the Armed Forces’ ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, Qatar and Egypt traded barbs.

In the lexicon of the intelligence-controlled Egyptian press landscape, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil” working to undermine Egypt’s stability. Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, was banned from Egypt, but, from its social media accounts and television broadcast, it regularly published salacious and insulting details about the Egyptian administration.

But all of that vitriol is now gone.

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Protest at Amirkabir University in Tehran.
Geopolitics
Lina Attalah

Women, Life, Freedom: Iranian Protesters Find Their Voice

In the aftermath of the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the morality police mid-September for not wearing her hijab properly, many Iranians have taken the streets in nationwide protests. Independent Egyptian media Mada Masr spoke to one of the protesters.

On September 16, protests erupted across Iran when 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in custody after being arrested and beaten by morality police for her supposedly unsuitable attire. The protests, witnesses recount, have touched on all aspects of rights in Iran, civil, political, personal, social and economic.

Mada Masr spoke to a protester who was in the prime of her youth during the 2009 Green Movement protests. Speaking on condition of anonymity due to possible security retaliation, she walked us through what she has seen over the past week in the heart of Tehran, and how she sees the legacy of resistance street politics in Iran across history.

MADA MASR: Describe to us what you are seeing these days on the streets of Tehran.

ANONYMOUS PROTESTER: People like me, we are emotional because we remember 2009. The location of the protests is the same: Keshavarz Boulevard in the middle of Tehran. The last time Tehranis took to these streets was in 2009, one of the last protests of the Green Movement. Since then, the center of Tehran hasn’t seen any mass protests, and most of these streets have changed, with new urban planning meant to make them more controllable.

Remembering 2009 triggers many things, such as street strategies, tactics and the way we could find each other in the middle of the chaos. But this is us now, almost at the back. Up front, there are many younger people, especially girls. They are extremely brave, fearless and smart.

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​Lina Attalah
Geopolitics
Mada Masr

Mada Masr Editor Detained After Media Reveals Corruption In Egypt's Ruling Party

The latest report from the Egyptian media about charges against editor-in-chief Lina Attalah and three colleagues following a Sept. 1 article that revealed a scandal within the ruling Nation's Future party.

Note from the Worldcrunch news desk: The independent Egyptian online media Mada Masr, which publishes in Arabic and English, has been a Worldcrunch partner since 2015. As they face further repression and attempts to limit their coverage by government authorities, we are republishing their updates below, and stand together with Mada Masr's editor Linah Attalah and her team in their long efforts for a free press in Egypt:

Mada Masr Editor-in-Chief Lina Attalah, journalists Rana Mamdouh, Sara Seif Eddin and Beesan Kassab were released on bail on Wednesday evening after interrogation sessions at the Cairo Appeals Prosecution.

All four were questioned individually and concurrently, said lawyers acting in their defense.

In Wednesday’s session, Attalah, Mamdouh, Seif Eddin and Kassab were charged with slander and defamation of Nation’s Future Party members, using social media to harass the party members, and publishing false news intended to disturb the public peace and cause damage to the public interest.

Attalah also faces charges of operating a website without a license.

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