The Egyptian Left After the Debacle

by Mohamed Sid-Ahmed
published in MER150

The debacle suffered by the Egyptian left at the polls in 1987 -- 2 percent of the vote as compared to 4.5 percent in the 1984 parliamentary elections -- provoked a soul-searching debate in Tagammu‘, the legal party of the left.

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Tucker, Women in Nineteenth-Century Egypt

by Cynthia Nelson
published in MER152

Judith Tucker, Women in Nineteenth-Century Egypt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985).

This is more than a general treatise about women in Egypt. It is a subtle and adroit analysis of gender and class during the transformation of Egyptian society in the nineteenth century and it is this underlying theme that makes Judith Tucker’s work challenging reading. She provides an interesting theoretical approach in which both an anthropologist, used to working on women’s issues within peripheral, local community settings, and an historian, concerned with the social and economic history of women and social class, can find a common ground. “The history of women,” Tucker states in her introduction,

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Workers, Trade Unions and Egypt's Political Future

by Joel Beinin | published January 18, 2013

During the week of December 15-22, 2012, between the two rounds of the referendum on Egypt’s newly adopted constitution, workers struck at three large, strategic industrial enterprises. At two, the strikers quickly achieved their main demands.

Bush and Ayeb, Marginality and Exclusion in Egypt

by Mona Atia
published in MER265

Ray Bush and Habib Ayeb, eds. Marginality and Exclusion in Egypt (London: Zed Books, 2012).

Marginality and Exclusion in Egypt is an insightful volume addressing the various forms of inequality that plague Egyptian society, with particular focus on the poor and working classes. With few exceptions, the chapters have a strong structuralist undertone; many use a political economy approach to describe class conflict. The volume’s title notwithstanding, most chapters treat the concepts of marginality and exclusion as afterthoughts, and only a few grapple with marginality as a theory.

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Egypt's Music of Protest

From Sayyid Darwish to DJ Haha

by Ted Swedenburg
published in MER265

The culture of protest associated with the Egyptian uprising has attracted a huge amount of media coverage -- much of it, unfortunately, partial and superficial. Partial, in that it privileges hip-hop to the virtual exclusion of every other kind of nationalist and protest music sung by musicians and crowds during the 18 days of the original Tahrir Square occupation, January 24-February 11, 2011. Superficial, in that it fundamentally misapprehends the role of music in the revolt.

Reconstituting the Coptic Community Amidst Revolution

by Paul Sedra
published in MER265

Egypt’s Coptic community marked the passing in 2012 of two widely known and influential public figures. The first was the patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Shenouda III, who died on March 17. Shenouda had celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of his enthronement as patriarch the previous November. The second was Milad Hanna, professor of civil engineering at ‘Ayn Shams University and veteran writer on public affairs in the state-owned al-Ahram newspaper, who passed away on November 27. While Shenouda was the leader of the Orthodox Church hierarchy and thus of the clerical establishment, Hanna was one of the most prominent and outspoken members of the Coptic laity.

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Egypt's Popular Committees

From Moments of Madness to NGO Dilemmas

by Asya El-Meehy
published in MER265

During the 18-day uprising of 2011, police disappeared from the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities at the same time that the state emptied the prisons of thousands of convicts. Neighborhood watch brigades, typically led by young men, sprang up to fill the security void as reports of criminal violence mounted. Face to face, or via Facebook, these “popular committees” quickly organized themselves and spread beyond urban centers, driven by the imperative of community defense. In the words of one committee founder: “Committees were everywhere in villages and cities.

Police Impunity in Imbaba

by Matthew Hall
published in MER265

A string of tiny lights bows from the awning of the Star of Freedom café across an unpaved plaza to the globe of the municipal lamppost, whose light the government has not turned on in years. Tabletops of tea and dominoes spread from the café’s cramped interior and fill the horseshoe-shaped plaza, rimmed by a hardware store, a bright yellow barber shop and a mosque with an optometry office for the needy. A zigzagging tuk-tuk blares spastic pop music over the din of evening conversation.

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Why the Egyptian Army Didn't Shoot

by Hicham Bou Nassif
published in MER265

The armed forces were a central part of the Egyptian regime from 1952 onward. They supplied the Free Officers who toppled the monarchy and replaced it with a republican order. All four presidents of the era hailed from the military’s ranks. The army was known to control a large economic empire, and senior officers regularly went on to lucrative careers after retirement. Unlike in Tunisia, where the army was kept marginal under Habib Bourguiba and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Egypt was widely considered to be an officers’ republic. Why, then, did the military not intervene to save President Husni Mubarak when Egyptians rose up against him in early 2011? Why did the army decline to crush the uprising, when its Bahraini and Syrian counterparts tried to do so?

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The Writing on the Walls of Egypt

by Samuli Schielke , Jessica Winegar
published in MER265

Whoever has something to say in Egypt these days can write it on a wall. Ahmad loves Rasha; the revolution continues; build unity between Christians and Muslims; make Egypt an Islamic state. Private garage, no parking; we are all Egyptians; don’t forget the martyrs of the revolution; apply for a job; those looking for marriage, call this number. ACAB (All Cops Are Bastards). Fuck the Muslim Brothers; I’m a Muslim Brother and proud. Invoke God; the ultras rule Egypt; call Hasan for television and other electrical repairs.