Monday, January 08, 2007

Quite a Still Life, Aswan

Over the past week, the CE team has drawn comfort and inspiration from the example of this little chap. He may be dressed in a red velour jumpsuit. He may live in the crumbling remains of the dusty theme park that is all that is left of Nubia. He may be poor and destined for a life of uninteresting anonymity. But that doesn't bother him. He's got a harmonica. And he's damn well going to make it wheeze and sing, no matter what his tyre-changin sister thinks.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Orphanides & Co

The streets of Cairo on a religious holiday: forgotten, faded, empty, sordid. But, yet, we can stumble on a forgotten outpost of those foreign, mitigated pleasures: The liquor store of Orphanides & Co., Emad el-Din Street. Cut-price ersatz drinking for the down-at-heel. What an institution. On Coptic Christmas, we salute you, O Greeks.

Christmas Redux

A. The jaded calendar revolves,
Its nuts need oil, carbon chokes the valves,
The excess sugar of a diabetic culture
Rotting the nerve of life and literature;
Therefore when we bring out the old tinsel and frills
To announce that Christ is born among the barbarous hills
I turn to you whom a morose routine
Saves from the mad vertigo of being what has been.
from An Eclogue for Christmas, Louis MacNeice (1907-1963)

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The No Wasta Party

This morning Abu el-'illa Madi, leader of the would-be Wasat Party, will plead his cases for a real political party please, at the Supreme Administrative Court. He'll be there along with 12 other party leaders, who have had similar difficulty getting a stamp from officialdom. Madi, as you know, is a disgruntled ex-Brother (well, he's been disgruntled for ten years now) and has been trying to get the Wasat Party licensed as a real party, instead of waiting for the Brotherhood Behemoth to seize power.

Madi's been turned down four times in ten years. Wonder why. We don't think it is because the charter of his party really makes it a religious party (and therefore, agin the consitution). We think it is because the party is quite a good idea, (religious, but secular. how'd they do that?) and good political ideas that tap into the population's affection for God and all that, make the NDP reach for the Biltagiyya.

Madi has already been in prison for his efforts. Today he will have a go at court. The Supreme Admin Court's panel of experts has, in fact, last year recommended that the Wasat be legalised. The court has been dragging its feet on the verdict though.

Something might happen today, but given the current happy-go-lucky attitude from the regime towards Islamists (over 1000 lifted and held since May) we are not holding our breath.

As we expected, the appeals of all 13 parties against their license application failure, were turned down by the Supreme Administrative Court today, including that of the Wasat party. Abu Madi was not impressed. CE's team of crack legal commandos are at work deciphering the statement of the court. But, as one Wasat member sarcastically shouted on hearing the judgement, we think the real meaning is "long live the NDP!"

Friday, January 05, 2007

الامن المركزي in pictures

First in a new series on the true heroes of the Egyptian polity. The burly young men, who so selflessly give of their time for the maintenance of the status quo. God bless em.

If we have the demand, a 2007 Calendar is in order.

Now, see if you can spot the rogue element in these shots.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Existential Crisis of The Week

Contact Egypt went down to Aswan for the big Eid. Nothing much was happening there. In the souk, maybe because we were being told we were lucky men all the day long by other men who wanted to sell us inflatable pharaonic cats, and the like, we had a mini existential crisis.

It's time to come back.