Valéry Giscard d’Estaing – Baraka Band

I haven’t posted anything in a while, but I also haven’t found anything cool to post in a while. I JUST DID. And it’s beyond awesome. Now apparently, there’s this Egyptian band called  Baraka Band and they’ve been formed since 2007. They’ve been doing new covers for old Egyptian revolutionary folk songs, particularly those by the composer Sheikh Imam and vernacular poet Ahmad Fouad Negm, and I love their new modern takes on the classics.

This song is about Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, president of France’s visit to Egypt. The words of Ahmad Negm are just a brilliant pisstake at how his visit means splendor and prosperity for all Egyptians, so much that even poor people will afford to eat potatoes. Maryam Saleh’s delivery is just impeccable on this, she never misses a beat and did more than authentically translate Negm’s sarcasm into song. The song itself is cheerful circus music, which I find brilliantly illustrates the charade that surrounds these official visits.

Check it out, and share if you like. =D

What is Nessa’? Digitizing Arab Women Rights History

For the past few weeks I’ve been trying to put the chaos of ideas that are into my brain into well-formed ideas, and words, but I just can’t keep up with my eagerness towards making this one project called Nessa’ succeed, so I decided to write this blog post to make sure the idea gets to as many people as it can. I believe that our society is inherently unjust, in so many ways, and towards so many groups of people, but the thing that irks me the most is how unjust we are to women, and that includes women being unjust with themselves. I’m not saying we’re bad people, or that we’re evil, there’s just lots of ignorance going around.

And ignorance is what I decided to tackle. Not all ignorance is intentional, sometimes you can be ignorant about something because you’ve never had the chance to learn about it, or because it’s an obscure science. Women’s rights isn’t quantum physics, and it shouldn’t be treated that way. I like to read, and I always feel surprised when I read about an Arab women’s right activist from the 1800s or so, or even the early 90s. The information you find online about them is scarce and often wrong, or biased. That has to change now, for the better, and with all what’s going on around us, people are finally starting to believe in the power of online activism.

It’s vital that we preserve their memory now before it’s too late. Whether by organizing wikipedia projects, scanning and transcribing old books, or by interviewing people, we will try to make each and every precious nugget of information available and reachable to everyone. It is, however, a big and ambitious project, and it needs volunteers and support if it’s going to work. I managed to convince a small group of commited people already, and we’re busy setting up some sort of structure to set things into motion. I urge you all to connect with the project page on Facebook until we have the website ready, and feel free to share your thoughts, here, or there, or on our email: equality@nessaa.org

When will they get it? Municipal Elections Edition

I saw a poster for the municipal elections today. If I’m not mistaken, it’s the first batch of the new posters from the new government. The only thing new, however, is the first line on the poster, that says, “The First Change.” Then it’s an exact same copy of the posters that the Bakhit government rushed out in the extra-time of it’s duration. First of all, I thought the constitutional amendments were the first change, could this be a hidden message that they’re not over, and that his HE Khasawneh is going to re-amend some articles? He never really was clear on that.

And about the participate slogan. They just don’t get it. I don’t want to participate, and I’m part of a huge segment of society that does not in any way want to participate. I’ve been taught my entire life to steer clear of politics and focus on something more productive, like math or becoming a doctor, and now you expect me to participate with a slogan? We are the biggest segment of the population, we are the 99% who don’t really care about who gets elected for municipal elections, all we care about is that he does a good job. Our only demand is, “Don’t mess up the country while we’re busy doing other stuff” and that’s all I want out of politics.

Egyptian Women put Harrasment on the Map

Check out Harassmap.org if you haven’t already, it’s a nice creative use of the Ushahidi platform and its Frontline SMS addition. It’s a great example of a platform encouraging people to participate in citizen journalism to highlight important issues, and then visualises their impact on society. I think maps are one of the best visual tools to display such data, but in all, I’m just glad women are speaking out against harassment.

Another example of an Arabic website using Ushahidi to promote citizen journalism is the Lebanese election monitoring website, Sharek961 (and it’s Egyptian MB-sponsored copycat, Shahid2010).

CPJ, Let the CCL Be…

The CPJ asked his Majesty King Abdullah to toss out the new cyber crime law because they’re “deeply concerned” that the law “contains several repressive aspects that can be used to harass online media”. Now, I for one disagree with the CPJ on more than one aspect. You can read the full letter here. It just seems like a rash statement that was based on a law that was lost in translation, not the current CCL that until now hasn’t been formally translated into English.

They cite article 8, stating that defamation, content and slander aren’t well defined, while they clearly are within Jordanian law. They also cite article 12, which clearly concerns hackers, rather than online journalists. Article 13, quite contrary to what they claim, does not give law officers the right “to search the offices of websites and access their computers without prior approval from public prosecutors.”

They do have  a fair point with the fact that the law is not urgent enough to be considered a provisional law, but the elections are soon, and the law will be discussed in parliament before you know it, but does that call for such a drastic measure, and a great interference with the law making process, such as being scrapped by the King? I believe it’s an insult to democracy to use such measures when they’re not needed. All I can say is, CPJ should have researched this more, and perhaps contacted the MoICT before going for such a dramatic gesture.