Pathetic Braveheart: 25 January, 30 June — and, very personally, Youssef Rakha


I had almost reprimanded myself for anticipating civil conflict in the wake of major protests against the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) President Mohamed Morsi remaining in office.

After what apparently was the largest demonstration in the history of humankind on Sunday (30 June, 2013), the army’s statement in support of “the people’s demands” this afternoon prompted wild festivity on the streets. But at the time of writing (the evening of Monday, 1 July), “clashes” — some of which had begun yesterday evening — are raging, on and off, in Alexandria, Mahalla, Suez, Assyout and Qena as well as the Cairo suburb of 6 October and the Muqattam Hills, where the Guidance Office of the MB is located in Cairo.

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City of Kismet


Unconsciously, it seems, I had waited a lifetime for Kismet. This was not my first attempt at a family of my own but, though I never resisted the idea, one way or another, fatherhood had eluded me. And for some reason I never thought I would have a daughter. When the sex of the foetus emerged relatively late in my wife’s pregnancy, I was unaccountably emotional; for the first time since childhood I experienced a desire wholly voided of lust. Life seemed to be coming together, albeit only once its setting had been transformed.

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FOUND EGYPT: Mosaics of the Revolution

(1) A stock portrait of a contemporary woman in niqab is made up of the nude picture of Alia Mahdi, which was called a revolutionary gesture by the subject in November, 2011

(2) A Google Earth image of Tahrir Square and surrounds is made up of a graffito of “the finger”, one of the most popular statements of defiance since January, 2011

(3) A detail of an archival photo of a funerary mural in Thebes is made up of an iconic picture of a protester killed in Tahrir in January, 2011

(4) One of the portraits of Pope Shenouda III used by mourners following his death in March, 2012 is made up of images of casualties of the October 9, 2011 Maspero massacre of Coptic demonstrators (which the Pope is believed to have condoned)

(5) The flag of Egypt, with the eagle replaced by the famous blue bra exposed during the brutal beating by SCAF of one female demonstrator in Tahrir in November, 2011, is made up of images of Salafi and Muslim Brotherhood figures and symbols (along with “honourable citizens“, the “Islamic movement”, then in alliance with SCAF, condoned the suppression of demonstrators)

(6) A Muslim young man, reportedly gay, from a Cairo shanty town who crucified himself on a lamppost in Tahrir in April, 2011 as a gesture of protest is made up of anti-SCAF graffiti

(7) An American passport is made up of images of the hardline Islamist and vociferously anti-American former presidential candidate Hazim Salah Abu Ismail, who was legally disqualified from entering the race due to his mother holding US citizenship

cf/x photo mosaic as well as Adobe Photoshop CS5 were used to make these pictures


Shias, Israelis and Masons

A Week of Laughter and Forgetting: Day Four

A year after its outbreak, Youssef Rakha lists seven of the more revealing flights of humour that have punctuated the Egyptian revolution and its aftermath


The accusation of working for the Masons was first levelled at Wael Ghoneim, the Google employee who had started the “We Are All Khalid Said” Page on Facebook — a reference to the young man who had been brutally killed by police without charge in Alexandria in 2010 — which proved crucial to the rallying for protesters. Ghoneim was in fact abducted by State Security as early as 28 January, subjected to sensory deprivation, and on his release on 2 February, nine days before Mubarak stepped down, seemed far less enthusiastic about the revolution.

What in God’s name Masons could possibly have to do with either Ghoneim or 25 January remains an open question, but it was the conflation of Masons with Shias (Iranians), Hamas (Palestinians) and Israelis (sometimes just Jews), not to mention of course Americans, that fed the never-ending string of wisecracks and witticisms emerging out of Tahrir Square and surrounds. The Conspiracy came up repeatedly, and the Conspiracy had to be fought against by honourable citizens.

The Conspiracy was the revolution, but wait…

According to the founder and owner of Al Fara’een Channel, the former National Democratic Party MP Tawfik Okasha (who, naturally enough, lost the elections), the Masonic Conspiracy takes place in stages: first the revolution, then the Brother Muslimhood takeover, and finally the splitting up of Egypt into smaller states.

By the time Okasha became among the staples of post-revolutionary discourse, of course, many of the jokes were no longer jokes as such: they were opinions, viewpoints and visions of the future of Egypt; but in the case of Okasha, for example, they were so absurd they functioned just as well.