Egyptian Chronicles: April 2017

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The VOIP and the Internet Revolution in Egypt : Not So good "Updated"

Yes, Pope Francis was in Cairo and yes, he held important meetings with Sheikh Al-Azhar and President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. He also made a historical agreement with Egypt's Coptic Orthodox church about baptism.

All the media around the globe is speaking about that important visit in critical time.
Thus I will speak today about something that happened in the past 48 hours in Cairo and I think it will be forgotten or be ignored amidst the coverage of the Pope's visit to Egypt.
Do you remember when I spoke about how FaceTime video and voice chat were not working properly from two weeks ago ??

Do you know that I have received comments on the blog as well replies on twitter confirming that there was a problem not only in FaceTime but also in other chat and msg apps !??
People began to speak last week about how Facebook messenger's audio and video services were not working. Same thing was reported with WhatsApp and Viber.
It was a nightmare for Egyptians working abroad and could not check or speak with their families back home. Yes, most of them are back to work fine again now but still, it was a nightmare.
All fingers were pointed to the mobile phone operators and internet service providers but those companies denied their involvement.
We know that those companies hate VOIP because it makes them lose money.
The companies pointed to the National Telecom Regulation authority "NTRA" but the NTRA also denied blocking the VOIP services on its official twitter account on 21 April.

It is not true what has spread by some that VOIP service was suspended in some apps. The authority stated that this news was untrue.
On April 24, NTRA spoke about the VOIP problem admitting that the VOIP was suspended actually while speaking about the upcoming e-crime draft bill.

The Undersecretary of the telecommunication committee in the House of Representatives : The draft cybercrime bill is from the most important bills that the committee will look in to carefully in upcoming stage. He also confirmed that the cybercrime bill has nothing to do with suspending the VOIP.
Tahrir newspaper quoted an unnamed source in NRTA saying that those services were suspended because of national security concerns.
Ahmed Abdel Naby
Ahmed Abdel Naby 
It is worth to mention that according to the state of emergency declared in Egypt from a couple of weeks ago, social media networks are being monitored according to the law.

Early Friday morning, Egypt's Homeland security arrested Ahmed Abdel Naby, the co-founder of The Internet Revolution Egypt Facebook page which has been calling for better and faster as well cheaper internet speed in the country since 2015.

Updated on 30 April: The general prosecution decided to release Abdel Naby for LE 1000 Bail for spreading false news and attempting to destabilize the society.

It turned out that Abdel Naby published leaks from alleged documents that show the government was involved in blocking and attempting to monitor the VOIP services in Egypt illegally since at least 2012.

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Sisi ratifies Judicial authorities law at night ; what will judges do !?

There are a thousand thing for real I want to write about now whether Sinai or the Pope's visit or the internal debt but this is urgent and can not wait.
Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has just ratified the controversial judicial authorities law officially issuing it late Thursday.
The law has been issued in a supplement of the Egyptian State's official journal late Thursday. It is currently in effect.
Sisi and judges
Sisi and the judges at the Supreme court in April 2016

This law gives the Egyptian president "head of executive power" the right to choose the heads of judicial authorities and main courts in the country out of three deputies proposed within each judicial authority.

The old judicial authority law stipulates that the heads of judicial bodies are selected based on seniority by their judicial councils and that the president simply ratifies the council's selection.
The Egyptian House of Representative passed the law already only on Wednesday in a 15-minutes-session without any deliberation or discussion at all.

It was approved by two-third of the parliament.

Only 35 MPs including some of pro-regime MPs as well MPs appointed by Sisi himself objected and did not vote. Some are totally against the law and others were against on the voting process itself.
The parliament passed the law which will technically what so ever left from Judiciary independence in Egypt despite the complete rejection of judicial authorities.

Already, the Egyptian State council rejected for legal and constitutional reasons the law twice when it was a draft and demanded the parliament to amend in accordance with the law and the constitution.
We are speaking about 10 constitutional articles violated in that law according to the State council.
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Friday, April 21, 2017

Aya Hijazi is back to the U.S and Trump got his moment

And Aya Hijazi returned to the United States, that is the main and sole news Egypt was speaking about on Friday.
Egyptian-American Hijazi arrived the United States on Friday along with her husband Mohamed Hassanein on a special plane accompanied by a top adviser to Donald Trump personally.
Their plan to stay in Egypt and to restart their project to help Cairo's street children seemed to be doomed.
Even after their full acquittal from all the shameful charges like child exploitation and human trafficking last week, it will not be an easy to start again an independent NGO like "Beladi" now with the new NGOs law and its strict regulations.
It is not like 2011 or even 2013 in Cairo.
Hijazi and Hassanein returned to D.C along with Dina Powell, Donald Trump's deputy national security advisor for strategy
The Egyptian-American whose star is shining recently among Trump's White House staff came to Egypt and met with El-Sisi last week according to the Washington Post's report about Aya's return to the U.S.
No journalist or reporter as far as I know in Egypt spoke or even knew that Dina Powell was in town except Washington Post. She was not alone in Cairo as U.S secretary of defense Jim Mattis was in town as well.
Aya arrived in Washington and hours later, she and her brother Bassil were received warmly in the White House.
Interestingly, the US president refused to answer any questions or let the media ask any question. It was clever to end at that point because the no.1 question would be: You lifted the human rights condition when it comes to the relations with Egypt but here you are sitting with one of those human rights cases !?
The 30-years old Egyptian-American sat on the same chair like Abdel Fattah El-Sisi from two weeks ago.
Aya Hijazi and Trump
Aya Hijazi shaking hands with Trump
on the same chair like El-Sisi "Reuters"

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Cairo and Riyadh : What is really behind Asiri's statements !!

Usually, the military spokespersons are very specific and careful about what they say. After all , they represent their armies as well their governments or regimes.
On Sunday , a video clip went viral in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. It started in the Kingdom before reaching Egypt's social media realm causing anger and astonishment.

In an interview with Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya News General manager and prominent journalist Turki Aldakhil on Sunday, the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen official spokesperson Major General Ahmed Asiri spoke mainly about the coalition and its start in 2015 and its progress.

In a 45-second video clip, Asiri speaks about President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and how he offered to send between 30,000-40,000 soldiers as ground forces in Yemen.
Asiri speaks about El-Sisi's alleged offer

Here is what was said translated into English:

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Happy Sham El-Nassim and Happy Easter

First, Belated Happy Easter to all those who celebrated it around the globe especially the Egyptian Christians who had real tough week.
Second, Happy Sham El-Nassim to all Egyptian around the globe.
Happy Spring Feast
Here is an old Kawkab issue's cover showing young Soad Hosni celebrating the spring feast in 1960.
Soad Hosni
Soad Hosni on the cover of El-Kawkab
"Misr El-Mahrousa zaman FB page"
A decade later, legendary Honsi became the queen of spring when she sang "El- Donia Rabe'i" in her blockbuster " Amira, my love"
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Sunday, April 16, 2017

And Aya Hijazi is free again in time of Spring

And this is one Happy Easter indeed :)
Cairo's criminal court acquitted Aya Hijazi, her husband and the rest of the defendants in the "Beladi foundation" trial earlier Sunday after three years in detention on charges of several charges including human trafficking and sexual exploitation of street children.
This is one of the best news I have heard recently.
Aya Hijazi
Aya Hijazi smiling to her husband Hassanein inside the court's cage
"Reuters" 
The 29-years old Aya Hijazi, her husband Mohamed Hassanein and the 6 other member team were accused of trafficking, kidnapping, and the sexual exploitation and torture of children.
The George Mason University graduate and her team were arrested in May 2014.
For the Past 33 month "Over 1000 day", Aya and her team were detained in custody whether pending investigation or pending trial illegally.

According to the Egyptian law, the maximum period of pretrial detention is 24 months.
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Saturday, April 15, 2017

A history of State of Emergency in Egypt

First, Happy Easter everybody :)
We are still with the state of emergency in Egypt. I forgot to mention in the first post about that Emergency law a very important piece of information.

State of emergency
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi declared the state of emergency applied the state of emergency in North Sinai governorate only in October 2014 following the IS-affiliated Anser Beit Al-Maqdis on the Egyptian army checkpoints killing at least 33 army personnel.

Needless to say, the current sad situation in North Sinai and the daily terrorist attacks there prove that the State of emergency is a failure.
It is a daily living example.

The terrorists do not give a damn about the state of emergency or any of our laws. The brainwashed suicide bombers won't be stopped by the state of emergency.

Already, the state of emergency during the time of Mubarak did not stop the terrorists in the 1980s or 1990s for God's sake.

Also,  many legal and constitutional experts voiced concerns that the Constitution is being violated by continuous never ending State of emergency.

According to them, Constitution article no.154 which says that the parliament should approve the declaration of state of emergency for three months and that it can be extended for another three months only. I lost counting how many times El-Sisi declared the state of emergency in North Since October 2014.

This is not the only constitution violation when we speak about the state of emergency.

It turned out that President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi declared the state of emergency on last Sunday "9 April 2017" and that declaration was published in the official Egyptian state's Gazette on Monday "10 April 2017" without the approval of the House of Representatives.

The parliament should have approved the declaration of the state of emergency first before publishing it in the official gazette.
The House of Representatives approved it on Tuesday "10 April 2017".

I think the new amendments in the 1958-emergency law concerning the detention with an arrest warrant also violated the constitution.
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Friday, April 14, 2017

What happened to Apple's FaceTime in Egypt ??

Move aside dear Signal because it seems that Apple's FaceTime is blocked in the country as well.
Since the beginning of the week, Apple's iPhone users in Egypt reported that they can not FaceTime in the country anymore.
I tried twice with a friend of mine two days in a row and found the following:
Apple's FaceTime and its big moment in the Middle East
last year in Turkey
You can call your contact whether using video or voice chat and he or she will receive that call.
Once he or she answers the call, you can not see or hear her or him.
You can see yourself only if you are having a video chat.
This is what we have concluded from our experience.
We tried this on TEData Wi-Fi and Orange mobile networks.
I do not know about Etisalat and Vodafone thought.
If you are iPhone user in Egypt , please try it and share your experience in the comments section. 
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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Egypt returns back to the state of emergency

Late Sunday following the terrorist attacks on Egyptian Orthodox cathedrals that killed at least 46 in Alexandria and Tanta, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi held an urgent meeting for Egypt's National Defense council.

Hours following the meeting, El-Sisi addressed the Egyptian people in a recorded speech telling to "bear the pain" criticizing at the same time the terrorist attack's coverage in mainstream media.
He also announced that he gave his orders to the Egyptian armed forces to help the police in protect vital infrastructures and facilities.

Then President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi announced the emergency law in Egypt after following the legal conditions

Once again, we are back to the emergency law.
Technically, we lived under emergency law in Egypt in most of our lives in the 20th Century.
We have been living under the state of emergency for the past 83 years. From the 1910s till 2010s, we got only 17 years in total we have lived without the state of emergency.

It is like a curse left by the British occupation just like the infamous bureaucracy that we can not get rid of it.
On Monday, PM Ismail Sherif announced that State of emergency would be in effect starting at 1 PM Cairo local nationwide.
At the same time, he announced that he sent to the House of Representatives asking its members to approve the State of emergency.
Abdel Fattah El-Sisi
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Sunday at the National
defense council meeting "Egyptian Presidency" 
According to the constitution's article no.154, the House of Representatives must approve within 7 days on the State of emergency.
Just as all the country expected on Monday that the parliament would approve the state of emergency, its speaker and MPs surprised us by sending the Tiran and Sanafir agreement to the legislative committee and approving the amendments to the protest law.
Yup, against all odds the Parliament speaker sent the Tiran and Sanafir agreement to the legislative at 2.05 PM Cairo despite the High Administrative court order.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

The Martyrs of Policewomen force in Egypt : Remember their names

Among the 46 martyrs killed who lost their lives in those suicide bombing attacks targeting Egyptian Christians in Tanta and Alexandria on Palm Sunday.
Those three ladies are the first Egyptian policewomen to die on duty as well in a terrorist attack.
Here is a quick post with the names and pictures of those ladies.

Police Colonel Nagwa El-Hagar

The first woman to die in that horrifying suicide attack was Colonel Nagwa Abdel Allim El-Hagar.
Colonel Nagwa
Late Colonel Nagwa with her son 

Abdel was married to a police general and had two young. The eldest son is a police officer as well.
Sadly , it turned out that her second son died in less than a year. He joined the police academy like his father, mother and brother.
Her younger son passed away while training in a sports club in Alexandria.
He did not die in a terrorist attack as some Pro-Police/army/Sisi/regime Facebook pages claimed.

Police corporal Asmaa Hussein

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Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Black Palm Sunday "Updated with videos"

From Tanta's Cathedral
From Tanta's Cathedral 
This Sunday, millions of Christians around the globe celebrated the Palm Sunday and the start of the Holy Week. In Egypt and the Arab world, Arab Christians and Churches call the Holy week in Arabic "The Pains week".

This Sunday was officially the start of "Pains week" in Coptic Orthodox Churches in Egypt in a sad irony.

As you may have known, two Egyptian Churches were attacked earlier in two different cities during the Palm Sunday. At least 40 people killed and over 100 others were injured in both attack.
At 9.05 AM Tanta local time, the first explosion took place at St.George Cathedral in Tanta city.

According to early reports, the explosion took place at the first and front rows full of men during the Palm Sunday service.

Already the Palm Sunday service started at 6 AM and should have ended at 12 PM.
It never ended because of the explosion that killed over 29 people and injured not less 70 others.
Here is the moment when the explosion took place on the CCTV as aired on TV channels.

The victims include a judge, doctors, some members of the Church Choir, grandfathers and fathers.

From Tanta's Cathedral
The victims of Tanta bombing from
Tanta Cathedral 
The photos and video resurfaced online showed horrifying scenes. Reports also came speaking about a severe head that most probably belongs to the Suicide bomber.
The St. George Cathedral is considered the biggest church in the Nile Delta governorate.
Interestingly, from 12 days ago the Cathedral which hosts the bishopric of Tanta spoke about how security forces dealt with an unknown suspicious object found in front of it.


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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Egyptian X-Files : Who sent that SMS ?

I want to write about that war crime in Syria as well El-Sisi's historical visit to D.C
I also want to finish that report about the new media empires in Egypt and at the same time upload tons and tons of pictures and videos to share with you.

Yet suddenly something happens in Egypt to change all your plans.
The Mysterious SMS
The SMS 
On Tuesday evening, many Egyptians got on their mobile phones a strange news SMS that in other countries can turn things upside down.

At 9.41 PM Cairo local time, Subscribers of Al-Watan Daily Newspaper' Breaking News SMS service received a message claiming that Pro-Ahmed Shafik army commanders started a military coup.
Yes, the subscribers of the Pro-regime Daily Newspaper got that SMS puzzling them. The country was quiet and everything was normal on Wednesday. Yes, the President is abroad but things are calm.

Honestly, I was worried that something would happen at night.
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi is currently visiting Washington and he met with Trump on Monday.
Soon, Al-Watan newspaper said that its Breaking News SMS service was hacked and hacker sent that SMS.

The newspaper's publisher Mohamed Al-Amin is said to be currently in the United States as part of the media delegation covering El-Sisi's visit to D.C. I can imagine him after knowing what happened back in Cairo.
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Monday, April 3, 2017

Seen in Alexandria : The Naval unknown solider memorial

Location Al Gonday Al Maghool Sq., Al Mansheyah Al Kubra, Qesm Al Mansheyah, Alexandria Governorate, Egypt
The Naval unknown soldier memorial of Alexandria

Seen in Alexandria : The Naval unknown Solider Memorial.
Originally built as memorial to Khedive Ismail by the Italian community in Alex , the memorial's status changed to become for Egypt 's fallen Naval soldiers after the 1952 coup/revolution exactly in 1964.
There used to be a statue for the Khedive in the middle. It was removed and transferred to Alexandria's faculty of art.
The Memorial is under the supervision and care of Egypt's Navy forces.
Alexandria hosts Egypt's main naval bases for its navy fleet.

From Instagram's Egyptian Chronicles 
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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Tiran and Sanafir isles : Back to the courts fight "Updated"

The Egyptian two red sea islands are back to the court on Sunday in Cairo as the Urgent matters said the Egypt's Supreme administrative court had no jurisdiction over the decision to hand Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia in a new episode of the Isles saga.

The urgent court's verdict does not say whether the isles are Egyptian or Saudi but it says that the Supreme Administrative court has no jurisdiction over the whole matter.
President Sisi and King Salman at the Dead sea last week
"SPA" 
Thus, it annuals accordingly the Supreme Administration Court's final Non-appealable verdict in January rejecting the government's appeal and upholding the original verdict to annual the Egyptian Saudi demarcation deal.
In case you forget from a year ago , in April 2016 the Egyptian and Saudi governments announced a new maritime demarcation deal, by which places the strategic Tiran and Sanafir Red Sea island under Saudi sovereignty.
In last December and against the court orders and public rejections, the Egyptian government sent the agreement to the Parliament to approve it.
In January, the Supreme administrative court issued its historical verdict annulling the agreement.
Despite the court orders, the government or rather the regime is insisting on going forward with the deal and decided to challenge the verdict in front of the court of urgent matter as well the Supreme Constitutional court directly and indirectly.

What do I mean about "indirectly"?
Well, I mean lawsuits filed by concerned citizens against the Supreme Administrative Court's verdict  with no direct relation to the government just like our case here.
Suddenly, we found "concerned citizen" and lawyer Ashraf Farahat filling a lawsuit in front of Cairo Urgent Matters court claiming that the Supreme Administrative court has no jurisdiction over the Islands case.
Already it is a known game for the government since the time of Mubarak and his National Democratic Party "NDP", if the administrative court annuls the results of parliamentary elections, a concerned citizen goes to the court of urgent matters to stop this verdict.
Do not ask about the legality or constitutionality of this because the law and the constitution are the last things to be respected in this matter.

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