Egyptian Chronicles: May 2016

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Seen in Cairo : Ramses Railway station's hall

Location Cairo Ramses Station, Ramsis Square, Al Fagalah, Al Azbakeyah, Cairo Governorate, Egypt
Ramses Railway station
Another shot for the main hall at Cairo's main hall of Ramses Railway station after its futuristic renovation. Most people wonder what that thing in the middle represents .
Via Instagram  
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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Just treat the Tiran and Sanafir released protesters like Ahmed Ezz , please !!

On Tuesday , a Giza court of appeals overturned the five years jail sentence for 47 people for participation in the 25 April protests against the Egyptian decision to give up Red Sea Tiran and Sanafir isles to Saudi Arabia.
Still the court upheld an LE 100,000 "USD 10,000" fine for each defendant.
And according to the Egyptian law , if the defendants will spend three months in jail. Already those 47 spent one month in Pre-trial and so they will have to spend two months in custody if they do not pay the fine.
The month in jail in Egypt is equal to 22 days if I am not mistaken .
It is worth to mention that the court has not acquitted the protesters of illegal protesting charge , it only overturned the jail sentence and upheld the fine.
Now LE 100,000 is one hell of a big sum of money for many families among the 47. We are speaking about LE 4,700,000.
The defendants lawyers in the case presented on Wednesday a request to the court to reduce the fine from LE 100,000 to LE 10,000 "USD 1000" as it was common.
Usually according to lawyer Tarek Al-Awady who has been in that career for almost 25 years, the court accepts that request and reduces the fine.
Unfortunately, the court rejects that request and insisted on LE 100,000.
When one goes back to the archives , he or she will find that for the court accepted to reduce the monopoly fine of famous steel tycoon from LE 100 million to LE 10 million in November 2014!!
I do not know why the court refused to do this with the 25 April protesters !!! I wish that the court treated them like Ahmed Ezz and reduced the fine.
Already I do not know why they have to pay a fine according to a disputed unconstitutional law !!
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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Minya incident and the importance of Social media in Egypt

I was going to write a short post about the upcoming cyber-crime draft law and how it is an introduction to control and limit the social media in Egypt when once again an ugly violence incident erupted in the country that demonstrated the importance of social media.

Thanks to viral and angry Facebook posts , we knew that last Friday sectarian violence erupted in Minya, Upper Egypt and I have been following the case since then.

Sectarian violence erupted 20 May , Friday at 8 PM when an angry mob attacked and torched a couple of houses owned by Christians  in "El-Karm village in the city of Abu Qarqis , Minya Governorate over a rumored affair between a Christian man and a Muslim woman as usual.

A photo inside one of the torched houses at Karm village
by Mahmoud Hakim 
Nobody got killed but what happened this time was shocking for many if not for most Egyptians.
The mob attacked the house of that Christian man rumored to have a relation with a Muslim woman dragging his old mother out of her house and stripping her off her clothes in the street.
The lady was then taken and covered by her Muslim neighbor till the police showed up at 10 PM to arrest 5 people and that's it.

It is worth to mention that the Christian man and his family filed complaints and warned the police on 19 May as the rumors began to spread like fire in the rural village.

From Friday till Tuesday , most Egyptians did not know anything about the shameful incident.
Later this week , two journalists working for Christian newspaper and TV channel reported the whole shocking incident on Tuesday.

Wednesday morning , the angry Facebook posts about the incident went viral like fire where as the authorities whether the governorate or the Church did not comment except very late night.

On twitter "#Egypt_is_stripped_naked went viral expressing the anger and disgust over what happened to the old lady and how the whole matter would end up in another  reconciliation would solve anything.
Late night , the Diocese of Minya and Abu Qarqis following the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church confirmed the incident demanding the authorities to arrest the perpetrators.
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Friday, May 27, 2016

Seen in Cairo : Inside Ramses Railway station

Location Cairo Ramses Station, Ramsis Square, Al Fagalah, Al Azbakeyah, Cairo Governorate, Egypt
Inside Ramses Railway station
Inside Ramses Railway station 
The famous and main hall of Cairo's Ramses Railway station after its renovation. The new Neo-futuristic Pharaonic style drew lots of criticism as it does not match the famous Islamic Heliopolis style of the famous station's exterior.
I can see why.
Via Instagram   
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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Spare Egypt from those foreign loans

Just as Egypt was just in shock over the tragedy of EGYPTAIR MS804 on Thursday , many Egyptians found out that Russia would lend Egypt USD 25 billion to build its nuclear station in Dabaa.
Putin and Sisi "Ria" 
Yes , we are going to have another foreign loan according to what was announced in the Egyptian State's Official Gazette.
The Egyptian State's Official Gazette issued on Thursday "19 May 2016" included Presidential Decree "No.484" for the year 2016 to approve a loan from Russia to build and operate a nuclear power plant in Egypt.
According to the decree , Russia will lend Egypt USD 25 billion and in return Egypt will pay an interest rate of 3% annually starting from October 2029.
Egyptian will repay the loans over 22 years in 43 installments !!
I do not know what to say !!!
This is the biggest foreign loan in the modern history of Egypt.
Is it really worth it to add all those financial burdens on the future Egyptian generations to build an environmental threatening plant ??
Already , I do not understand how El-Sisi approved that loan without the discussion or approval of the House of the Representatives.
Article No.127 of the Current Egyptian Constitution already stipulates the following :
The executive authority may not contract a loan, obtain funding, or commit itself to a project that is not listed in the approved state budget entailing expenditure from the state treasury for a subsequent period, except with the approval of the House of Representatives.
I do not think that the Egyptian parliament approved that deal if I am not mistaken.
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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Egypt's MPs should speak about the fiscal policies, that is what they should do

On Sunday , we found out that the Speaker of Egypt's House of Representatives, Ali Abdel Aal  warning the MPs of speaking about the government's fiscal policies in the media critically or otherwise he or she will be referred to a disciplinary committee.
On Monday after facing criticism in the media , Abdel Aal claimed that he only said that because the fiscal policies were discussed confidentially and the members are free to express their opinion but not to insult the state institutions  !!
I do not think that the financial or fiscal policies of Egypt should be or are confidential.
House of Representative Speaker Ali Abdal Aal 
In fact , all the countries discuss the fiscal and financial policies freely and openly in the parliament and in the media criticizing the government because this is what the parliament is supposed to do technically speaking !!

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Seen in Cairo : Ramses Train station

Location Cairo Ramses Station, Ramsis Square, Al Fagalah, Al Azbakeyah, Cairo Governorate, Egypt
Cairo's Ramses Train Station
Cairo's Ramses Train station  
Seen in Cairo : The 1892-building of Cairo's Main Railway station in Ramses Square. The building is known for its Heliopolis Style exterior yet unfortunately, its interior was heavily modernized till its identity is quite lost in between the two styles.

More about Egyptian Railways' History here. 

More to come from Egyptian Chronicles' Seen in Cairo on Instagram. 
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After Al-Rawiei Fire in video

Location Cairo Governorate, Egypt
I shot that video when I went to Al-Rawiei street after its huge fire.  from 11 days ago and unfortunately I did not edit or upload it on time.
Still, it is never too late.
I uploaded the video on Friday. I apologized for the late posting but it is really worth it.
I added to it English captions.

Now the latest updates of Al-Rawiei street especially when it comes to compensations
I have just read that the ministry of solidarity compensated on Thursday the families of the three victims killed in the fire giving them LE 30,000 each.
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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Tiran and Sanafir Trials : You tried that before and you failed

First of all, I think we should forget or ignore what is happening in Tiran and Sanafir ongoing debate in Egypt in addition to what is happening to EGYPTAIR 804
We should not forget because there are over 100 people whose future is at stake for real.
Already according to human rights lawyer and member of Egypt's National Council for Human Rights Ragia Omran, the total number of arrests officially from 15 April to 10 May related to Tiran and Sanafir isles case reached to 1317.
Some of the detainees have already been released while some others are detained pending investigations. There are also the misfortunate detainees who have been already sentenced to prison in very quick trials last week.
On Saturday , a special court circuit sentenced more than 150 people 2 to 5 years in jail over protesting the Tiran and Sanafir Egyptian-Saudi deal on 25 April.
Saturday morning , a special court specialized in terrorism-related cases sentenced 51 people to two years hard labor for  illegal protesting in Downtown Cairo on 25 April.
Then Saturday evening and after 8 hours of hearings , another special court after sentenced 111 people to five years in jail for illegal protesting in Al-Massaha square in Dokki on 25 April , joining a terrorist group and disturbing the public order and security.Seventy-Five defendants in this case are fined LE 100,000 "USD 10,000"
These are the maximum penalties in the controversial unconstitutional Protest law.
It only took two sessions to convict over 150 people.
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Thursday, May 19, 2016

EgyptAir MS804 : What we know so far about Egypt's Newest Disaster !!! "Updated"

Once again, I woke up to the news of another airliner disaster related to Egypt !!
I think you probably have heard or knew that there is a missing Egyptian Airliner and the world is searching for it in the Mediterranean.
This is what we have known officially so far :
An EgyptAir Plane carrying 66 passengers and crew heading from Paris to Cairo disappeared from radars off the Greek territorial waters before its debris is found near the Greeks isles.
According to official statements above them EgyptAir Statement posted on its official twitter account at 4:52 AM CLT in Arabic before posting its English version 5 minutes later :

Later EgyptAir released more information about the disappeared flight.
EgyptAir A320 aircraft "Flight number MS804" lost contact with radar above the Mediterranean Sea about 280 KM from the Egyptian seacoast at 02:30 am CLT as the flight was expected to arrive Cairo International airport 03:15 PM from Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport.
The A320 manufactured in 2003 departed Paris at 23:09 "CEST". It was at a height of 37.000 ft when it disappeared after entering the Egyptian airspace with 10 miles.
The aircraft pilot has 6275 of flying hours including 2101 flying hours on Airbus 320 while the co-pilot has 2766 flying hours.
EgyptAir MS804
Where the EgyptAir MS804 went missing from FlightRadar.com
Here is its flight history as documented by FlightRadar24.com
Here is also the last 30 minutes as recorded by FlightRadar24.com
The MS804 had on its board 56 passengers included 30 Egyptians, 15 French , two Iraqis, One Briton, One Canadian, One Sudanese, One Chadian , One Portuguese, One Saudi , One Kuwaiti and One Algerian
The passengers included 1 child and 3 infants .
There were 10 cabin crew members on the board of the airliner including 3 security personnel.
Pray for them.
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Monday, May 16, 2016

The Season of Fires in Egypt

Location Haret Al Reweaai, Cairo Governorate, Egypt
Last Sunday evening , a fire erupted in a popular Downtown Cairo Commercial street destroying over 200 shops and workshops over three days then a series of fires broke out in different parts of the country making the people believe in conspiracy theories.
The biggest fire of all was the devastating fire of Attaba square's Al-Rawiei street.
At 11: 30 PM Cairo Local time , a huge fire erupted in Al-Andalus hotel building which occupies a whole block in the famous commercial street before it extended to other buildings in the narrow street.
The fire on that night Al-Rawiei street
According to the people who live in the area, the firefighters arrived late despite they are two blocks away. Yes, Cairo's main fire department is located in Attaba square and you can walk on foot from the square to the street.
The Attaba Fire "AFP"
The fire as captured on that night by Ahmed Abdel Gawad
"AFP" 
The fire as captured on that night by Ahmed Abdel Gawad
"AFP" 
On the other hand , the officials blamed the narrow crowded street " narrow because of street vendors stalls" and the lack of the industrial security as well the spread of inflammable materials.
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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Seen at the Egyptian Museum : King Djoser statue

Location Egyptian Museum , Cairo Governorate, Egypt
King Djoser

Seen at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo last December , the rare and fantastic King Djoser's statue.
King Djoser's fame comes from the fact that he was buried in the first step pyramid structure in the world.
Interestingly, that limestone statue blows up the myth the ancient Egyptians did not have a moustache.
 If you pay attention , you will see that thin moustache.
I could not take a better shot of the Limestone Old Kingdom statue thanks to the reflective glass. You can see my reflection in the photo.
I took that with iPhone after failing several times to take a better photo using my camera.
I tried to take another photo below but it was not that close.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Attaba fire aftermath

Location Attaba Square, Ghayt Al Adah, Abdeen, Cairo Governorate, Egypt
Late Sunday , Cairo did not sleep well as huge fire erupted in the famous Rewaiei commercial street in Downtown's Attaba area.
The photos from the famous street while it was on fire were more than scary.
Firefighters for two days tried to put off the fire in the narrow street full of shops, workshops and street vendors places. 
Strangely and unfortunately, the fires continued till Monday and early Tuesday. I went earlier Tuesday to find out that they were still putting off the fire where it allegedly started at Al-Andalus Hotel building.

DSC01861
Al-Andalus Hotel , where it allegedly started 
The people are sad there and they have to be.They lost everything in the fire and face uncertainty in  very rocky economic conditions.
I took couple of photos and videos but I am so tired to post them here and write about this huge blow to Egypt's gray economy
Here is what I could upload now while my eyes are open after a long day.
DSC01870
Yes, they were still putting off the fire there

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Wanted "Street Children" Troupe "‘Updated"

In a very short time, a local troupe of young Egyptian boys called "Street Children" earned popularity online with their sarcastic performance art in the street.
The 6 young men who work in Theatre and study arts used to post videos on their official Facebook page showing them singing in the street about social and political issues sarcastically in a very artistic way I would say.
The street children troupe
The street children troupe members 
They gained huge popularity and they were hosted on TV shows like "The Complete Picture" on ONTV Live and I think that they will appear on SNL Arabia soon.
Now , the members of that troupe have been fugitive except one who had been arrested from two days ago and is being accused of publishing videos online that are insulting to the State institutions and inciting protests. A Cairo court ordered his release on bail "LE 10,000" but the prosecution appeal against the decision.
Updated: Four other members were arrested.
According to their official Facebook page , the band member Ezz El-Din Khaled was arrested early Saturday from his house in Heliopolis and that he was referred to the Prosecution.
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Monday, May 9, 2016

Seen at the Egyptian Museum : From the Old Kingdom

Seen at the Egyptian Museum

Seen at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo , three colored statues from the Old Kingdom at the Old Kingdom section in the first floor of the museum. "Via Instagram" 
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Saturday, May 7, 2016

1000 Days passed since Rabaa sit-in dispersal and Shawkan is still in detention.

Yes , 1000 days have passed since Rabaa sit-in dispersal or Massacre to be precise in August 2013 on Saturday, the massacre that turned Egypt forever, unfortunately.
People are allowed to remember the worst sit-in dispersal in the history of Egypt on the social media for the time being sharing sad photos and videos from that day.
The curse of that day is still haunting us down.
1000 days have passed and there are still innocent people who are still detained since that day above them Egyptian Freelancer Photographer Mahmoud Abu Zeid aka Shawkan.
Shawkan in court by Momen Samir
The latest photo from Shawkan at court on 23 April
by Momen Samir. 
Up till this day , Shawkan is still in detention pending trial.
Shawkan and over 400 other men are currently standing trial known in the media as "Rabaa dispersal".
Shawkan and others are facing a number of charges including incitement to kill police officers.
The young photographer who is suffering from Hepatitis C was covering the sit-in dispersal as a freelance photographer who was working with DEMOTIX agency during then.
He will have another trial session next 10 May.
Here is a short video report made by Daily News Egypt about Shawkan in English.
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Friday, May 6, 2016

The Tiran and Sanafir Crackdown continues

The crackdown against activists and lawyers opposing the Egyptian government to give up Red Sea Tiran and Sanafir isles to Saudi Arabia continued early Friday.
Malek Adly and his baby Bahia 
In the early of the morning, we found out that security forces arrested prominent Human rights lawyer Malek Adly and 6 April Youth Movement leading member Zizo Abdu in Cairo.
Malek Adly, the prominent leftist Human rights lawyer and the member of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party was arrested and referred to the Prosecution which interrogated him at 3 AM till 7 AM according to lawyers.
According to lawyers , he and Zizo Abdu were beaten during their arrest.
He is detaining 15 days pending investigations for 6 charges including attempting to topple the regime, obstruct the constitution and spreading false news aka rumors aka Tiran and Sanafir are Egyptian territories.
Malek Adly and a group of other lawyers already were challenging the Egyptian government to stop the deal in front of the court using all the documents and evidence that the two isles are Egyptian.
Adly already stated once on Facebook that he would hand himself into the police after the court session of the case on 17 May.
I hope the week passes without more arrests among the lawyers !!!
An arrest warrant was already issued to arrest Adly during the crackdown against lawyers and activists before the 25 April protests.
Adly is from Egypt's top human rights lawyers and defenders. His work does not focus on political freedoms and human rights only.
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Thursday, May 5, 2016

May 05, 2016 at 04:52PM


Al Mal #newspaper issue on Thursday : #Journalist_freedom. The strongest Journalist syndicate General assembly : The dismissal and apology . #Egypt #Citizenjournalism #blogger May 05, 2016 at 04:52PM via Instagram http://ift.tt/24zXUr2
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Why was it an important day in Cairo on Wednesday !?

It was an important day in Cairo. Yes, it was an important day at Egypt's Journalism Syndicate on Wednesday.
You got not less than 3000 journalists showing up in the morning to attend an urgent general assembly meeting.
Usually , the general assembly meeting during the elections of the board fails to attract that number and yet despite all the threats and odds journalists went.
They went despite that disgusting campaign in the Pro-regime TV channels against journalists and their syndicate.
Egyptian journalists outside the syndicate because there was no place inside
"Ayman Hafez"
They went despite those thugs and hired Pro-Sisi supporters who came on buses to make another siege around the Journalists syndicate in addition to the existing security siege.
The journalists went despite the thugs hurled bottles , gave them the finger and insulted them in the worst way ever.
The thugs giving the journalists the finger outside the syndicate
"Abdel Rahman Ansary" 

They went to their syndicate after passing several security checkpoints to show their Syndicate memberships to the police officers.
From the photos I have seen and from the testimonies of my colleagues who are lucky enough to be members of the syndicate , most of those who came were the young generations.
It is not a surprise because after all the younger generations are actually the majority of the Egyptian people.

Older generations including very famous veteran journalists and authors did not show up.
Maybe, this is why the decisions or demands taken were much bolder than anyone could expect.
Already it was the journalists who insisted that the Egyptian Presidency should apologize to the syndicate and the journalists, not the board.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Big Day at Egypt's Journalists syndicate

The showdown between Egypt's Journalists syndicate and the Ministry of interior continues for the Third day in a row as things escalate.
Egyptian journalist syndicate protest
I am a journalist and not a terrorist
"Yahia Qallash's official Facebook page" 
On Tuesday , the General prosecution became involved deeply and politically in the crisis when it issued a statement imposing a media gag order on the case of journalists Amr Badr and Mahmoud El-Sakkah.
The Prosecution also escalated the crisis by directing possible charges to the head of Egyptian Journalists syndicate Yahia Qallash.
The syndicate is calling its members for the a General assembly meeting whereas the Security forces are still imposing a security siege around the syndicate and its streets allowing only the syndicate supporters of the regime or rather its thugs are allowed to protest there.
Here is quick live coverage for that important day.
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Seen in Cairo: Egypt's Journalists syndicate

Egypt's Journalists syndicate

The famous graffiti Journalists syndicate in Cairo commemorating the martyrs of Egyptian journalism after the 25 January revolution : Al-Hussainy Abu Daif and Mayada Ashraf. 
Via Instagram
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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Happy World Press Freedom Day Dear Egypt !! "Updated"

What a way to celebrate World Press Freedom Day 2016 in Egypt !??
This is how we celebrate it in Egypt: Two journalists were detained pending investigations, there is a media gag on the storming of the syndicate and journalists are not allowed to their syndicate on the World Press Freedom Day because they are not members even if they were only sent to cover the press conference there !!
Earlier Monday , the Egyptian prosecution decided to detain journalists Amr Badr and Mahmoud El-Sakka 15 days pending investigations on charges of "plotting to overthrow the regime" , "spreading false news" and "plotting to suspend the constitution" !!!
Egyptian journalists protest at their syndicate on Monday by AP

I understand the part concerning "spreading false news" which is related on how both Amr Badr and Mahmoud Sakka published articles about how Tiran and Sanafir are Egyptian islands.
Interestingly, the Prosecution is accusing them of spreading rumors through their website "Yanair" News Portal which means we are speaking about publishing-related crime as well freedom of expression-related crime.
Yanair News portal published that the two islands are Egyptian in the same way state-owned newspapers like Al-Ahram and Al-Akhbar newspapers published that the two Red Sea islands are Saudi !!
What I truly do not understand here are the charges of "plotting to overthrow the regime" and a "plot to suspend the constitution" !!!!
Badr and Sakka are the latest Egyptian journalists to be in detention. We are having a breaking record here because according to estimation we got over not less than 20 Egyptian journalists and photographers detained according to Committee to Protect Journalists.


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Monday, May 2, 2016

Happy Sham El-Nassim 2016

Happy Sham El-Nassim
via  Instagram

Happy Sham El-Nassim from Egypt to the whole world. We are supposed to celebrate our National and oldest spring Feast today but as a journalist and blogger , I am following what is taking place at Egypt's Journalists syndicate.
I was supposed to publish a pictorial post about my visit to the Egypt's Annual Flowers show 2016 but I got busy in the syndicate and that escalation happened last night.
Anyhow , here is another photo from the Flowers show 2016
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Sunday, May 1, 2016

And Egypt's security stormed Journalists syndicate on Mayday

And not any syndicate , it is the Egyptian journalists syndicate.
Oh yes , from a couple of hours ago it was announced that security forces stormed the Journalists syndicate in Cairo to arrest two journalists who were having a sit-in inside the syndicate.
The news is confirmed by the head of the syndicate, journalist Yahia Qallash who stated that at least
50 Egyptian police personnel wearing plainclothes stormed the syndicate to arrest journalists Amr Badr and Mahmoud El-Sakka attacking the syndicate's security.
Journalists Amr Badr and Mahmoud El-Sakka at the syndicate
on Saturday carrying #Journalism_is_not crime
by Mohamed El-Raay
Both journalists Badr and El-Sakka were having a sit-in at the syndicate to object the arrest warrants issue for them and how their houses were stormed by security forces twice in the past weeks. Amr Badr , the Nasserite founder of "Yanair" news portal and Mahmoud El-Sakka, who works a journalist in the same portal are officially accused a number of charges above them spreading rumors about Tiran and Sanafir being Egyptian in the ongoing crackdown against political activists.
Yes, both Badr and El-Sakka are arrested as part of the current crackdown because of Tiran and Sanafir.
Egypt's ministry of interior is saying that it did not storm the syndicate and that only 4 police officers entered the syndicate peacefully. It  even added that El-Sakka and Badr left the syndicate willingly.
The ministry also says that both Badr and El-Sakka are not members of the syndicate to justify what happened.
I do not know about El-Sakka but Amr Badr ran for the Syndicate's board in the last elections.
Now we are speaking about a new level of escalation in the crackdown as it is unprecedented and illegal.
Oh yes, it turned to be illegal to storm or raid the syndicate like that without the presence of the Prosecution representative and the head of the syndicate must be there according to articles 69,70 and 71 of the current Journalism law in Egypt.
This is the first time in the history of the 75-years old syndicate something like this happens.
Today is the Mayday and on Tuesday, we will celebrate the International Press Freedom Day.
The worst irony of all is that the Egyptian journalists syndicate is celebrating its 75 anniversary this month !!
Earlier Sunday , already security forces locked down the Journalists syndicate street to end the Mayday conference planned there for fear of protests.
The journalists syndicate and its staircases have returned to become Egypt's only safe venue for protests after the Protests law.
The Journalists syndicate has been under security siege since 25 April already.
Most of the Egyptian journalists are furious.
The head of journalists syndicate, Yahia Qallash is demanding President El-Sisi to intervene and to dismiss the minister of interior.
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Happy Orthodox Easter

Happy Orthodox Easter to all Orthodox Christians all over the world celebrating it especially in Egypt.
Holy Fire at Holy Sepulchre
A photo that was taken on Saturday during
the Holy Fire ritual at the Church of Holy Sepulchre "AFP"

Happy Easter.
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