Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Egypt salvages its modern treasures

Maryanne brought my attention to this article in the The Christian Science Monitor

By Frederick Deknatel Contributor / January 11, 2010


Amgad Naguib is sitting in his garagelike storage space on a side street in the dusty belle epoque heart of downtown Cairo looking to buy junk. “Bikya!” the junk seller yells from his cart on the street outside, which means reusable rubbish. “I get a lot of treasures from bikya,” Mr. Naguib, an artist and collector, says from his garage, which is stuffed with old furniture, vintage advertisements, and stacks of papers and photographs from the early 20th century.

Amgad Naguib buys and sells bikya - roughly, reusable rubbish - from his packed Cairo space.

Frederick Deknatal

Between the vendors who buy and sell junk and the tourist shops that offer overpriced historical keepsakes – Iraqi 
dinars with Saddam Hussein’s face, fake old photographs, faded postcards – there are other Egyptian collectors, artists, and historians collecting pieces of the past, and not always for profit. Accumulating old objects, whether valuable or not, suggests connection with downtown Cairo’s material past as the area 
undergoes major changes, from the flight of historic institutions to news of investment-driven gentrification. . . .

Read the rest of this article in the The Christian Science Monitor

Friday, January 08, 2010

Egypt, Cairo, Warden Message; Violence at Rafah-Gaza January 6, 2010

From: Cairo, Warden <CairoWarden@state.gov>

Date: January 6, 2010

To: The American Community

From: Embassy of the United States, Cairo

Subject: Warden Message - Reports of Violence at Rafah-Gaza

This warden message is being issued to alert U.S. citizens residing and traveling in Egypt that on January 6, 2010, violent demonstrations took place at the border crossing in Rafah between Egypt and Gaza. In addition, there have been demonstrations in Al-Arish over the past few days. We strongly encourage American citizens to avoid travel to the northern Sinai region. We also recommend that American Citizens avoid areas where there is heavy police presence or crowds assembling and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any large public gatherings. As a reminder, even demonstrations or events intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence.

Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the U.S. Embassy’s website the U.S. Department of State's, Bureau of Consular Affairs website , where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information can be found. The U.S. Embassy also encourages U.S. citizens to review "A safe trip abroad", which includes valuable security information for those both living and traveling abroad. In addition to information on the Internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or outside the United States and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.

American citizens are advised to maintain valid travel documents and register with the Department of State or the U.S. Embassy Cairo through the State Department travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov. For further information, U.S. citizens may call the Embassy’s American Citizen Services Unit at 2797-2301 during business hours, Sunday to Thursday from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. For emergencies after business hours and on weekends and holidays, U.S. citizens can contact the Embassy Duty Officer via the Embassy switchboard on 2797-3300. The Embassy is located at 5 Tawfik Diab Street (formerly known as Latin America Street), Garden City, Cairo.

Egypt deports MP George Galloway

From The Independent

George Galloway was deported from Cairo today despite wanting to return to Gaza to help members of a humanitarian convoy who have reportedly been arrested, a spokeswoman for the convoy said.

Plain clothes police officers bundled the Respect MP on to a plane bound for London, said a spokeswoman for the Viva Palestina convoy.

Read the entire story on The Independent

Dozens hurt in Egypt-Gaza clashes

From BBC

An Egyptian soldier has been killed and at least eight Palestinians hurt in clashes at the Egypt-Gaza border.

Egyptian security officials said the soldier was hit by Palestinian gunfire from across the border, during protests over a delayed aid convoy.

International activists have been trying to take 200 aid trucks into the blockaded Gaza Strip, but Egypt has refused some of the vehicles access.

Dozens of activists were hurt during protests over the convoy on Tuesday.

The violence broke out as hundreds of Palestinians began throwing stones across the border at Egyptian security forces, who fired back at the protesters.

The Islamist militant movement Hamas, which controls Gaza, had called the demonstration over the convoy.

But Hamas police later fired into the air to disperse the crowd, witnesses said.

The Egyptian soldier was apparently killed by gunfire from the Gazan side.

Egypt and Israel impose a strict blockade on the Gaza Strip, which Israel says is aimed at weakening Hamas.

Viva Palestina activist injured in clashes with Egyptian security forces, 5.01.10
The activists said 60 people were hurt in the clashes

The Viva Palestina aid convoy, carrying items ranging from heart monitors to clothing and dental equipment, is aiming to break the blockade.

A spokeswoman for the group of about 500 international activists said the Egyptians had gone back on an agreement to allow their 200 aid trucks to enter.

Alice Howard said Egypt had said that dozens of the trucks would have to enter via an Israeli-controlled checkpoint - which Viva Palestina believed meant the goods would never reach their destination.

She said she understood the reason was because of the nature of some of the goods.

Items other than basic foodstuffs and medicines, such as medical machinery, are subject to a stringent approvals procedure, usually negotiated by established international aid organisations with the Israeli authorities.

Port protest

Some of the activists staged a sit-in at the port of Al-Arish, where the trucks are currently waiting, which was broken up by some 2,000 Egyptian riot police, Ms Howard said.

Many of those injured were "quite severely beaten, with head injuries", she said. A few were taken to hospital, but returned to the convoy on Wednesday morning.

Several Egyptian security forces were also reported to have been injured.

Television footage showed Egyptian riot police hitting the activists with batons. Some of the activists responded by throwing stones.

UK MP George Galloway, with the convoy, said: "It is completely unconscionable that 25% of our convoy should go to Israel and never arrive in Gaza."

The clashes follow an earlier row with the Egyptian authorities over what route the convoy should take to reach Egypt in the first place.

A demonstration has also been held in the Syrian capital, Damascus, against Egypt's treatment of the aid convoy.

A few hundred people took part in the protest organised by Hamas and other factions in Syria.

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