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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 row of houseboats floating on the Nile in Cairo, Egypt
food / travel
Ahmed Medhat and Rana Mamdouh

Denied The Nile: Aboard Cairo's Historic Houseboats Facing Destruction

Despite opposition, authorities are proceeding with the eviction of residents of traditional houseboats docked along the Nile in Egypt's capital, as the government aims to "renovate" the area – and increase its economic value.

With an eye on increasing the profitability of the Nile's traffic and utilities, the Egyptian government has begun to forcibly evict residents and owners of houseboats docking along the banks of the river, in the Kit Kat area of Giza, part of the Greater Cairo metropolis.

The evictions come following an Irrigation Ministry decision, earlier this month, to remove the homes that have long docked along the river.

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photo of putin leaning over to talk to saudi king salman
Geopolitics
Ehsan Salah

Why Middle East Countries Flipped, And Joined Push For Russia To Halt War

Just two days after they'd signed an Arab League statement that did not condemn Russia and instead called for diplomacy, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates joined 138 other nations in a UN resolution demanding Russia halt its invasion of Ukraine.

CAIRO — Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates joined 138 other nations to vote in favor of a United Nations General Assembly resolution demanding Russia halt its invasion of Ukraine and withdraw all troops.

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The move Wednesday by the three regional power brokers came just two days after they signed onto an Arab League statement that did not condemn Russia and instead called for diplomacy, an avoidance of escalation and consideration of the humanitarian situation.

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Egyptian students attend a class  at Maadi school in Cairo, Egypt.
Society
Nada Arafat

COVID Exposes Harsh Reality Of Egypt's Public Schools

In Egypt, private schools are driven solely by profit. As the economic effects of COVID-19 forces families to choose cheaper schools, many parents are forced to confront the country's endemic education problems. And they're discovering that expensive private schools are better in outward appearance only.

For the past several months, Heba Ismail has been wracked with feelings of anxiety and guilt over her son’s future and mental health.

It all started when her husband lost his job amid the coronavirus pandemic and they could no longer afford the fees for seven-year-old Ali Eddin’s private school. She transferred him to a cheaper experimental public school — a type of school that teaches part of the curriculum in English. However, far from being a smooth transition, Ali Eddin’s experience at the new school was “devastating,” Ismail says, prompting her to keep her son from attending classes and getting him tutored at home. “If I had the money, I would transfer him back to his old school, no question,” she says.

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#FreeRamySaath posters displayed in the street as part of an Amnesty International campaign.
Geopolitics
Osman El Sharnoubi

When The Only Way Out Of Prison Is The Price Of Your Citizenship

Several notable political prisoners in Egypt have renounced their citizenship to gain freedom. The choice is a difficult one to make personally, and the practice is highly questionable politically.

CAIRO — On January 8, Egyptian-Palestinian activist Ramy Shaath arrived in Paris after Egyptian authorities released him from prison and deported him after over 900 days in remand detention. He walked out of Charles de Gaulle Airport with his wife Celine Lebrun-Shaath to a cheering crowd of supporters. Yet the conditions of his release were no cause for celebration — Shaath was forced to renounce his Egyptian citizenship in exchange for his freedom.

Shaath's detention was part of a continuing crackdown on political dissent under Egypt's president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, which has trageted liberal critics.

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Photo of a man holding prison bars in his cell
Society
Mada Masr

Inside Egypt's Shocking Rise In Capital Punishment

While executions were once rare, Egypt has become a global leaders in judicial killings amidst growing secrecy around the legal system.

CAIRO — It was around noon on February 20, 2019 when Mounira* first heard the news. She was at home watching television when a news bulletin flashed on the screen announcing that nine prisoners had been executed that morning at dawn, among them her 27-year-old son Fouad*. A year earlier, the men had been convicted of the 2015 assassination of Public Prosecutor Hesham Barakat and sentenced to death. The sudden announcement struck her like a thunderbolt.

Fouad was arrested in 2015 and tried in a military tribunal (Case 514) about which there is no public information. He was eventually acquitted, yet while in detention, he had been added to the assassination case.

“When he received an acquittal in the first case, I held out some hope that he would come out of the public prosecutor [assassination] case as well. I told myself, ‘these aren’t sham trials, they actually look at the case files,’” Mounira said.

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Photo of former senior adviser to Egyptian President Mohammed MorsiEssam El-Haddad appearing in court.
Geopolitics
Abdullah El-Haddad

​An Egyptian Son's Plea: For​ My Father And Arab Spring Reconciliation

Essam El-Haddad, a senior adviser to President Morsi, was jailed more than eight years ago. His son Abdullah continues to fight for his father's liberation, which he says is a necessary path toward national union in post-Arab Spring Egypt.

-Essay-

CAIRO — My heartbeat quickens as I see my mother's name flash on my phone screen. I stop everything I'm doing and try to remember to breathe. I lift the phone to my ear and brace myself for the bad news that will inevitably come about my father who has been locked in an Egyptian prison for more than eight years. They say things get easier with time, but these phone calls flout that rule. Nothing about them gets easier, especially when I'm receiving them in forced exile.

My father, Essam El-Haddad, was a senior adviser to President Mohammed Morsi. He was received by foreign governments and met with officials around the world. Now, at 67 years old, he languishes in solitary confinement. Despite his failing health, he has been denied medical care, having suffered four heart attacks since his detention. The little we know about my father's circumstances we learned through the rare occasions our family was allowed to visit him by Egypt's prison authorities. These visits have stopped since 2016.

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Sudanese protesters holding signs and wearing Sudanese flag
Geopolitics
Nesrine Malik

In Sudan, A Surprise About-Face Marks Death Of The Revolution

Ousted Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was the face of the "stolen revolution". The fact that he accepted, out of the blue, to return at the same position, albeit on different footing, opens the door to the final legitimization of the coup.

A little over a month ago, a military coup in Sudan ended a military-civilian partnership established after the 2019 revolution that removed President Omar al-Bashir after almost 30 years in power. The army arrested the Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and, along with several of his cabinet and other civil government officials, threw him in detention. In the weeks that followed, the Sudanese military and their partners in power, the Rapid Support Forces, moved quickly.

They reappointed a new government of “technocrats” (read “loyalists”), shut down internet services, and violently suppressed peaceful protests against the coup and its sabotaging of the 2019 revolution. During those weeks, Hamdok remained the symbol of the stolen revolution, betrayed by the military, detained illegally, unable to communicate with the people who demanded his return. In his figure, the moral authority of the counter-coup resided.

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photo of a woman speaking with imprisoned defendants during a trial in a Cairo court
Society
Nada Arafat

Harder Time: How Egypt Cuts Prisoner Communication With Loved Ones

Letters from inmates provide a crucial link with the outside world, and yet the process of sending and receiving them in Egyptian prisons is both arduous and arbitrary as an extra means of control.

CAIRO – Abdelrahman ElGendy says letters were a crucial lifeline for him during the time he spent locked up in five different prisons between 2013 and 2020. "Letters were not only important, they literally saved my life," he says. "I was only living because I was looking forward to them from one visit to the next, and I would read them over until the paper became worn and torn."

Last month, the family of imprisoned software engineer and activist Alaa Abd El Fattah — who had been held in remand detention for over two years until his referral to emergency trial last week — announced it would take legal steps to ensure that Abd El Fattah is able to send letters to them following a period when prison authorities refused to allow him any correspondence.

According to the family, besides prison visits once a month, Abd El Fattah's letters are the only way they can gain assurance of his condition, and when his letters are denied, that in itself is an indicator that his treatment in detention is worsening. The numerous legal requests and official complaints by the family have been met only with silence by authorities.

While letters provide a crucial link between prisoners and the outside world, the process of sending and receiving them in Egyptian prisons is an arduous one as a result of arbitrary restrictions put in place by authorities.

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