Archive for the ‘Egypt’ Category

factsOn Sunday Ashraq al-Awsat ran an article alleging that the United States had pressed both the Mubarak and Morsi regimes to surrender the Sinai so that it could be used to relocate Palestinian refugees and create a Palestinian state.

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Towards the end of his tenure, ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak resisted pressures from Washington to cede Egyptian territory in the Sinai Peninsula to help create a Palestinian state, former senior members of Mubarak’s ruling party told Asharq Al-Awsat.

A former official from the National Democratic Party, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat that during the previous decade Washington pushed Cairo to allow large numbers of Palestinians to settle in the Sinai.

The official said Mubarak believed the move was the first step in a process designed to get Egypt to cede its own territory to create a Palestinian state. Egypt’s former president resisted the appeals, which he described as being “in the best interest of Israel,” the senior official maintained.

During a meeting chaired by Mubarak in 2007, the official quoted the former Egyptian president as saying: “Our main enemy is Israel, but we are fighting both the US and Israel. There is pressure on us to open the Rafah crossing for the Palestinians and grant them freedom of residence, particularly in Sinai.”

Mubarak claimed that the aim of the plan was to establish refugee camps on Egyptian territory to accommodate as many Palestinians as possible.

“In a year or two, the issue of Palestinian refugee camps in Sinai will be internationalized. Meanwhile, Israel will impose pressures on the West Bank in order to force large numbers of Palestinians from Gaza into Egypt,” the source quoted Mubarak as saying.

Mubarak said that once the Palestinian refugees were on Egyptian soil the UN would have requested “a new Oslo [accord]” in order to establish a Palestinian state stretching from Gaza to Sinai to which Palestinians in diaspora would have been welcome to return.

But the former president opposed the plan, insisting that “Egypt would remain a thorn in the project’s side.”

The same proposal was put forward when the Muslim Brotherhood came to power in 2012, almost 18 months after the January 25 revolution that toppled Mubarak, a former security official told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Err, no—that  certainly didn’t happen. It is likely that the US pressed Egypt to relax restrictions at Rafah, and possibly even to treat Palestinian refugees better. The rest of it is one large fantasy. The only really interesting question is whether anyone in authority in Egypt ever believed it, or whether it is a more recent conspiracy theory born of the current levels of anti-American paranoia in the country (where many continue to believe that Obama is secretly supporting the Muslim Brotherhood).

The Real News Network (7 July 2013) offers a video report on Palestinians fleeing Syria for the relative safety of Gaza:

In recent weeks, however, the Egyptians have substantially limited use of the Rafah crossing. It has been closed entirely now, since the coup in Egypt. As Ali Abunimah reports at Electronic Intifada, Palestinians in transit through Egypt are being turned back, or deported:

Palestinians trying to return home to the Gaza Strip via Cairo airport are being deported by Egyptian authorities to the countries they flew in from, at their own expense.

The Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza, which is a six hour drive from Cairo airport, has been closed indefinitely, ever since the Egyptian army overthrew elected President Muhammad Morsi on 3 July after days of street protests.

In recent days, militant groups in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula have repeatedly attacked Egyptian army posts and checkpoints.

Yousef M. Aljamal, a writer and occasional Electronic Intifada contributor, was among those deported. Aljamal was returning home to Gaza from New Zealand, where heparticipated in the recent Conference on Palestine in Auckland.

Aljamal tweeted about his deportation from Cairo, back to the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, where he had stopped in order to obtain an Egyptian visa.

He reported seeing other Palestinians sent back to Algeria, Jordan, Tunisia and Canada, among other countries.

Palestinians trying to return home to the Gaza Strip via Cairo airport are being deported by Egyptian authorities to the countries they flew in from, at their own expense.

The Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza, which is a six hour drive from Cairo airport, has been closed indefinitely, ever since the Egyptian army overthrew elected President Muhammad Morsi on 3 July after days of street protests.

In recent days, militant groups in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula have repeatedly attacked Egyptian army posts and checkpoints.

Yousef M. Aljamal, a writer and occasional Electronic Intifada contributor, was among those deported. Aljamal was returning home to Gaza from New Zealand, where heparticipated in the recent Conference on Palestine in Auckland.

Aljamal tweeted about his deportation from Cairo, back to the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, where he had stopped in order to obtain an Egyptian visa.

He reported seeing other Palestinians sent back to Algeria, Jordan, Tunisia and Canada, among other countries.

The deportation of Palestinians comes as campaigns against Palestinians are intensifying in Egypt.

Anti-Palestinian campaigns in the Egyptian media are not new, as Joseph Massad wrote last August. They have included outlandish claims that shortages of basic supplies including fuel and medicines for Egypt’s 83 million people are caused by supplies being sent to Gaza’s 1.7 million Palestinians.

The volume has however increased amid the ongoing crisis. Rumors circulated by Egyptian media and social media accuse Hamas – without evidence – of sending operatives to support the deposed Muslim Brotherhood government.

Such rumors have led to false accusations and deportations of Palestinians living in Egypt, as the Egyptian journalist Fahmy Howeidy reported in a 7 July article in Egypt’s Shorouk News.

 

 

 

From al-Jazeera English, 14 May 2013.

For the Palestinian refugees living in Egypt, life is far from easy.

Roughly 3,500 of the estimated 70,000 Palestinian refugees in Egypt live in Geziret Fadel village.

They have built their mud-houses themselves and most are living subject to major restrictions on freedom to travel, access to healthcare, and education.

The majority of families can not afford to send their children to school, creating a generation of illiterate youngsters trapped in a cycle of poverty.

Despite this, many are just grateful to be allowed to stay in Egypt.

Al Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh reports from Geziret Fadel, Egypt.

“Jews of Egypt” banned?

Posted: March 14, 2013 by Rex Brynen in Egypt

Last year the PRRN blog mentioned a newly-released documentary on the Jews of Egypt, by film-maker Amir Ramses. Now, however, it seems that the film has been blocked by Egyptian security officials before it could go into general release. According to The Guardian:

Security agencies have banned an Egyptian film about the Arab nation’s once-thriving Jewish community just a day before it was due to open in cinemas, according to the documentary’s producer.

The Jews of Egypt examines the lives of the country’s estimated 65,000 Jews prior to their departure in the late 1950s due to Egypt’s conflict with Israel. Producer Haytham el-Khamissy said no reason had been given for the ban, which recalls the worst excesses of the famously censorial regime of former dictator Hosni Mubarak.

“There is no excuse for this except delay and obstruction,” said El-Khamissy in a post on the film’s Facebook page. “I announce the delay of the screening of Jews of Egypt until a solution is found for this inexplicable problem, inherited from long years in the parlours of the Egyptian state securities and which aim to terrorise thought and repress creativity.”

The film, which had already screened at a private film festival in Egypt last year, as well as at festivals in the US, was due to open today in three local cinemas. Based on testimony from researchers, political figures and exiled Egyptian Jews, it presents a harmonious vision of early 20th century multicultural Egypt and asks – according to director Amir Ramses – “how did the Jews of Egypt turn in the eyes of Egyptians from partners in the same country to enemies?” The film was banned by local censors, according to El-Khamissy, after a security agency made a request to view it.

The latest news can be found on the film’s official Facebook page.

Jews of Egypt

Posted: October 7, 2012 by Rex Brynen in Egypt, Jews from Arab countries

The trailer above is from filmmaker Amir Ramses’ new film Jews of Egypt, which was recently shown in Egypt as part of the Euro Film Week 2012 festival.

A documentary that captures fragments of the lives of the Egyptian Jewish community in the first half of the twentieth century until their second grand exodus after the tripartite attack of 1956 .. An attempt to understand the change in the identity of the Egyptian society that turned from a society full of tolerance and acceptance of one another .. and how it changed gradually by mixing religious and political views into a society that rejects the others .. a film about the cosmopolitan Egypt in the 40’s and Egypt in the new millennium .. how did the Jews of Egypt turn in the eyes of Egyptians from partners in the same country to enemies ..

You’ll find a very positive review in Variety Arabia here. One hopes that amid the attention generated by the current Israeli government campaign regarding forced displacement of Jews from Arab countries—a campaign in large part driven by a cynical effort to somehow offset legitimate Palestinian refugee claims—the significance of an Arab filmmaker addressing this subject in an Arab country is not lost.

h/t Nadim Shehadi

Oroub El-Abed, author of the seminal study Unprotected: Palestinians in Egypt Since 1948, has just released a briefing paper on the current situation of Palestinians in Egypt:

Little has been written about Palestinians in Egypt. The few thousand who sought refuge in Egypt after the 1948 Nakba were not welcomed by King Farouq’s government. However, with Gamal Abdel Nasser’s rise to power, Palestinians came to be treated on par with citizens of Egypt, enjoying basic rights, employment in the public sector, and property rights. After 1978 they were denied the rights once afforded to them by the Egyptian state as well as their rights as refugees. In this policy brief, Oroub El-Abed examines the legal status of Palestinians in Egypt, including positive signs of change in the wake of the Egyptian revolution. She argues that the Egyptian government must do more in order to live up to its responsibilities to this “invisible community,” whose numbers are unknown but who may be as many as 80,000.

You’ll find the full brief on the al-Shabaka (The Palestinian Policy Network) here.