Egyptian Chronicles: December 2016

Friday, December 30, 2016

Signal censored Once again in Egypt "Updated"

It was too good to be true.
On Wednesday, I knew by accident that Signal is once against blocked in Egypt and people are using VPN once again to bypass the block.
I have tried it personally on both mobile phone "Orange 3G & 4G" and desktop "TEData & Orange DSL" and it turned to be true. I can not send or receive any message.

Updated: The service is back once again without VPN, I have tested on 30 December and it worked fine on both iPhone and desktop

Last week, Open Whisper System confirmed that its app "Signal" was censored in Egypt after reports and complaints of users inside the country.

In the same week, a new update was released adding censorship circumvention for Signal users in Egypt and UAE.

It worked few days before the service was blocked altogether once again in Egypt. I do not know about UAE.

If you live in Egypt and want to use Signal, it seems that the VPN is your only option for the current time.
Interestingly, the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority "NTRA" has not issued or commented on censoring Signal so far according to my knowledge.
By the way, Egypt's House of Representatives is going to discuss the upcoming infamous cyber crime law in January.
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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Seen in Giza : A Ford Model A up for sale

Location Nile St, Oula, Giza, Giza Governorate, Egypt
The Ford Model A

You will never know what can you meet in the streets of Egypt nowadays !! Today I saw that Ford Model A classical car in a Giza street near the Saudi Embassy and Turkish Embassy. 
The car seems in a need for a little renovation to be like that. 
Ford Model A
Ford Model A in a better shape in the States

The car is up for sale and if you are interested, you can contact its owner on that number: 01276666049.
I do not know the owner but this is what is written on that piece paper on the windshield. 
I do not know how much it is worth but I will guess a fortune especially with the high dollar price in Egypt.
I do not know much about the history of motors in Egypt but checking the very informative Egy.com website, it seems that Ford cars entered Egypt in the late 1910s. 
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Monday, December 26, 2016

Seen in Alexandria : Spring time a la corniche

Location Alexandria, Alexandria Governorate, Egypt
Alexandria's corniche in Bahry
Alexandria's corniche in Bahary 
Just as thunderstorms and rain hit Alexandria right now, I remember how beautiful and calm it was in May. 
Here is a quick shot I took while I was in the car to the famous Alexandria's corniche and people enjoying their time at the popular Bahary quarter. 
Needless to say, the famous Corniche is currently "renovated" by the authorities.
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Sunday, December 25, 2016

A UN Security council draft resolution tale "Updated"

Since Thursday, there has been nothing I have following politically except the UN security draft resolution to end Israeli settlements in West Bank drama.
I was really happy Thursday morning to know that Egypt presented on behalf of the Arab league and the Arab States a draft UN security council resolution that "considers the Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 illegal".

The UN security council would vote on it Thursday evening Cairo Local time.
Then came Thursday afternoon with ongoing drama that started with the US-elected President Donald Trump's tweet demanding current President Obama to veto the resolution.

That statement was not strange for me because after all Trump's in-laws donated for the construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank according to Israeli Haaretz Daily.
The reports came afterward from Tel Aviv and New York that Israel is using all its powers to stop this resolution from going forwards.
The News came from Tel Aviv that Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and his advisors are using all kinds of pressure to make Egypt withdraw this resolution.
Normally as Egyptian and Arab, I know that usually those kinds of resolutions are met with US Vetoes but it never hurts to try.

A similar draft resolution was presented in 2011 and was vetoed by the States.
Then the news came that Egypt decided to postpone the vote after those alleged Israeli pressures per Israeli and international media Thursday afternoon.
At the same time, it was spread in the media through Western diplomats that the US would have abstained for the first time if the vote had taken place.
Sisi and Trump
Sisi and Trump in New York earlier in September
"Egyptian Presidency" 

The Egyptian foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid told Sky News Arabia that Egypt decided to ask for postponing the vote for further consultations on the resolution whether with the Arab states group in the UN or at the Arab League's Committee to End the occupation in Cairo.
The League's committee is made up by Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Palestine and it is the one that drafted the original draft resolution.

According to the statement published by Sky News Arabia at 5:57 PM, the Arab League's committee decided on Monday to evaluate the chances of passing that resolution.
At 7: 2 PM Cairo Local time,  US-based Al-Hurra TV channel diplomatic correspondent in the UN Nabil Abi Saab quoted Egypt's ambassador to the UN Amr Abo Al-Atta saying that he would wait for the instructions from Arab foreign ministers "aka the committee in Cairo" at 1 PM EST.
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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Holidays from Egyptian Chronicles

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukah to all those celebrating tonight all over the globe from Egyptian Chronicles. 
Christmas gift
Once upon time Egyptian cigarettes were a
Christmas gift !!!
Happy Holidays 
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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Blocking and unblocking Signal in Egypt "Updated"

On Monday, Open Whisper System confirmed that its private messaging app "Signal" had been censored in Egypt after numerous reports over the weekend.
Signal app

Over this weekend users of Signal in Egypt "including myself" reported that they could not connect to Signal through major ISPs.

Personally, I did face this and I could not connect to Signal through Orange 3G and 4G networks as well through TEData, Egypt's main ISP.

According to reports, you can use the famous encrypted messaging service through VPN. On Monday, Open Whisper System confirmed that you can only access Signal through


Interestingly, the service would connect and disconnect throughout the weekend.
On Tuesday, the service is back again on TEData. I do not know what is really happening.

Updated on 23 December 2016 

Open Whisper System released a new version of Signal "3.25.3 for android" and "2.6.9" for iOS that added censorship circumvention for Signal users in Egypt and UAE "yes, it turned out Emirates blocked Signal as well"
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Monday, December 19, 2016

The unforgettable scene : Russian ambassador to Ankara's assassination

It was meant to be a scene to be remembered by the whole world when it was planned, it was meant to be a message heard in the whole world.
Thus Russian ambassador to Turkey 1954-born Andrei Karlov was shot down by 22-years old Turkish policeman Mevlut Mert Aydintas at the Contemporary Arts center in the Turkish capital where the Russian embassy was hosting "Russia in the eyes of Turks" exhibition.

Mevlut Mert Aydinatas killed the Russian ambassador because of Syria and Aleppo.

That moment captured by AP's Burhan Ozbilici
As we live the age of social media, the assassination was recorded and the whole world saw Aydinates standing like defocused black grim reaper behind Karlov minutes before he would pull his gun shooting him down.
It was a matter of minutes as captured by AP's Burhan Ozbilici

Moments AP photographer Burhan Ozbilici did not know that moment that he would snap a moment that would turn lives upside down.
The man went to the exhibition because it was on his way from work to home !!
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Saturday, December 17, 2016

The attack on media figures at El-Botroseya Church : Beyond the anger

Earlier Monday, Cairo witnessed the funerals of 23 Egyptian Christians after their murder in the awful El-Botroseya Church bombing.
In the afternoon and during the official funeral ceremony, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi announced for the first time the name of the suspected suicide bomber who allegedly blew up the Church.
On the same day, the interior ministry issued a  statement accusing the Muslim Brotherhood of standing behind the attack.
Then Daesh declared its responsibility for the bombing on Tuesday.
Since Monday, the debates and conspiracy theories have not stopped about whether this suspect did it or not. In nutshell, many people disbelieve the government and ISIS. To be precise the government more because simply the government or the Egyptian regime is not the most transparent one.

I won't go into details about that. I won't speak either about terrorism and the situation of Egyptian Christians because there is nothing more or new can be said.
All what can be and should be said in those two matters have been said before and I am afraid we are going to say it again. "Hopefully not"
I would like to speak now about something that happened following the bombing of the church that nobody spoke about as it should.
After the explosion, at least three prominent Pro-regime TV hosts were attacked by angry Egyptian Christians protesting outside the church.

Hundreds of angry Egyptian Christians protested angrily for several hours outside El-Botroseya Church, which is beside the main St. Marks Coptic Orthodox Cathedral Church in Cairo. They were so angry that they did not let the minister of interior to visited the bombed church.
They also attacked and kicked out those Pro-hosts in a way that makes you ask questions about the public and the propaganda.
Notorious anti-25 January TV host Ahmed Moussa was attacked and kicked outside the Church as he attempted to interview the people on air for his Ultra-Pro-regime/Close to the regime.

Here is a video
Kicking out Ahmed Moussa as filmed by Al-Masry Al-Youm
It is worth to mention those who were following him on TV said that the channel stopped the live broadcast from the Church when people began to attack the security and the ministry of interior.
Then we got bigger-than-life Riham Saeed who was also attacked and kicked out by the angry people there.
Here are videos
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Thursday, December 15, 2016

And Daesh claims responsibility of Cairo church bombing


The group claimed in a statement released Tuesday evening online first reportedly on its affiliated Telegram channels that a suicide bomber with a code name of “Abu Abdullah El-Masry” blew up himself inside St.Peter and St.Paul Cathedral in Cairo using an explosive belt.

The statement 
Daesh News agency Amaq then released a breaking news quoting a security source "inside the militant group" that one of its members blew up himself in the church. Surreal times for real when a terrorist group media outlet quotes a "security source" inside it !! 

During the official statement funeral on Monday, Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi announced that 22-years old Mahmoud Shafiq Mohamed was the suicide bomber. 

He also added that four other people including a woman were arrested by security forces for their involvement in the attack.

Monday evening, the Egyptian ministry of interior released a detailed statement about the suspects arrested prior accusing the Muslim Brotherhood of standing behind the attack.

The official statement also spoke about Mahmoud Shafiq and his role hinting out that his code name was “Abu Dagana El-Kinany”. 

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Seen in Alexandria : Was it a bird ?

Location Alexandria, Alexandria Governorate, Egypt
some flying thing in Alexandria

Was it a bird? Was it a plane? Was it a shooting star during one fine sunset ??
I do not know.
I only know that I need to remember that short family spring break and enjoy those photos to have a break from that hard time in Egypt.   
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Sunday, December 11, 2016

The explosion of El-Botroseya Church in Cairo : Terrorism hit the country hard again

At 10:30 AM a huge explosion that took place near the Egyptian Coptic Cathedral in Heliopolis.
After the end of the Sunday ,an explosion took place in the Small church of St. Peter and St. Paul "El-Botroseya" which is near the complex of the main Coptic Cathedral.

Inside the Church after the explosion
Inside the Church " Bassam Abu Zeid" 
According to the ministry of health ,23 people were killed. The victims are 8 men , 3 children and 12 women. There are currently 50 people injured in hospitals.

The explosion took place in the women and children's section and that's why the victims are mostly women. 

May God bless the souls of the victims.

Officially , President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi declared three days of national mourning. 

Pope Tawadros II , the head of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church cut his visit to return back immediately to Egypt. He will head the funeral arranged for the victims tomorrow as far as I know. Strangely the funeral of the victims won't be held at the Saint Marks Cathedral in Cairo but rather another church in Nasr City.

In the afternoon , hundreds of angry Egyptians "Mostly Christians" organized protests outside the Cathedral denouncing what happened and attacking the government and sometimes the regime itself according to their chants.

One of their main demands is the dismissal of the minister of interior. 
Four top Pro-regime TV hosts including an MP were attacked and kicked out of the church by angry people above them Lamis El-Hadidy. 

According to security sources , not less than 12 kg of TNT were used in bombing the church.
No terrorist organized has claimed its responsibility.

Egypt's two main militant Nile valley based group "Liwa Al-Thawra" and "Hasm" distanced themselves officially from the attack denouncing it in two statements. 

This is the biggest terrorist attack against Coptic Egyptians since the Two Saints Church explosion in Alexandria in December 2010.

In fact, the death toll of this attack is higher than Two Saints Church explosion. It is worth to mention that after six years we do not know really who bombed the Two Saints Church explosion. Also in September 2016 , the administrative court ordered the interior ministry to reveal the results of its investigations into the bombing.

Up till, it has not declared anything

Many are drawing similarities between the two bombings : Two Saint Church and El-Botroseya Church. It is not a new level of terror for real as I wrote in the title I am afraid. We have seen it before.

Today marks the Moulid El-Nabawy "Prophet Mohamed {PBUH} birthday" and officially it is a national holiday.

Al-Botroseya Church was built by the Ghali family in Cairo in 1911 over the tomb of Boutros Pasha Ghali , Egypt's former PM "1846-1910".
The Church that was designed by an Italian designer and architect includes the cemetery of the Ghali family up till now.
It is considered among the Coptic antiquities  according to the ministry of antiquities in Cairo. The costs of damages in the explosion reached to LE 80 million according to the early estimation

Live Coverage below for the day.

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

The arrest and release of Azza Soliman and that other trial

At exactly 1:39 PM Cairo local time Wednesday , the family of Egyptian lawyer and renowned woman right Azza Soliman announced that security forces arrested her from her house by the investigation judge in the infamous NGOs case.

Azza Soliman
Azza Soliman 
Her son Nadeem Abdel Gawad kept the people updated as the head and co-founder of Centre for Egyptian Women Legal Assistance (CEWLA) moved from Misr El-Gedida police station to New Cairo Court to be questioned by the investigation judge in the infamous case.

For nearly seven or eight hours and accompanied by many lawyers and human rights activist , Soliman was questioned by the judge over the accusations of receiving foreign funds with an aim to harm the national security , founding an illegal entity that engages in NGO activity "!!!!" and tax  evasion !!!

After nearly 8 hours , she was released on LE 20,000 bail pending investigation in the infamous case.

Azza Soliman made the headlines technically in Egypt as foreign media focused on her case as another sign of the crackdown on civil society and NGOs as well human rights activists.
It  also came days after passing the infamous NGOs law.

She and a number of human rights activists including Gamal Eid and Mozn Hassan are barred from travel and their assets have been frozen as the Justice ministry re-opened the investigation of the old illegal foreign funding case in March.

Now as I hinted above , all the media focused on the NGOs case but they forgot a very critical and important fact about Soliman.

Azza Soliman is a key eye-witness in the trial of Shaimaa El-Sabbagh murder or to be accurate the retrial of Shaimaa El-Sabbagh murder.
Since coming forward on 25 January 2015 with her testimony publicly on the shooting of El-Sabbagh and Soliman began to face trouble.
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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Egypt's Internet trolls : The Union "Ep.1"

The international media is currently having a long serious discussion about fake news and internet trolls in the social media.
Only after the US presidential elections and its results, the world decided to put the spotlight on that dark use of social media.
Only , now we got Mark Zuckerberg speaking about how  misinformation spreaders are using his platform and how to fight back for the first time.
Sadly , we know very well about fake news or how Zuckerberg described it as "misinformation" and its impact first hand in the Middle East especially in the Arab spring countries before the west or the US but nobody cared till it reached to the States.

The social media is always highlighted for its role in the Arab spring, especially in the Egyptian
2011
Once upon time in 2011 "Reuters" 
revolution.
Well, I think it is time to let the world knows that the social media is also destroying the Arab Spring.
Ironically at the same time, the West was speaking about the fake news and the Russian machine propaganda, we had our own "fake news scandal" in November.
It came unexpectedly out of the blue when one of the biggest Pro-regime conspiracy theorists exposed how the so-called
e-committees aka Pro-regime internet trolls work from inside.
Nobody is speaking about it any more thought in Egypt, so I thought it was good to bring it back. It gives you a glimpse of our own in-house problem

On 5 November Pro-regime supporter/university professor/social media celebrity Khaled Refaat published a Facebook post on his account with alleged screenshots from a closed Pro-regime Facebook group for exposing who they are and how they are organizing themselves online.

The story started with a fight inside the group  when Refaat seemed to violate the rule of not criticizing El-Sisi outside it and being vocal about it.Soon , he began to criticize the group indirectly describing it as an "e-committee" on his FB account.
It seems that the members of the groups attacked and being reported him to the Facebook to close his account in return.

In retaliation, he decided to bring down the temple by speaking directly about that group posting screenshots from showing its admins giving directives its members.
That Facebook group is "State supporters union" and according to Refaat , it was founded allegedly by Media figure Ibrahim El-Garhi.
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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Seen in Alexandria : Sidi Bishr Mosque

Location Sidi Bishr, As Soyouf Bahri, Qism El-Montaza, Alexandria Governorate, Egypt
Sidi Bishr Mosque
Sidi Bishr Mosque 
And Egypt's Alexandria has got its share of many Islamic saints , most if not all of them came from North Africa and Al-Andalus.
Among those Islamic Saints who are highly respected in Alexandria : Sidi Bishr.
Legend says Sheikh Bishr El-Gohary came from the West , either from Morocco or Al-Andulas to Alexandria in the Middle ages to join a famous mystic Sufi school growing in influence in North Africa.
Living ascetically in an isolated area in the coastal city , Sheikh Bishr El-Gohary earned fame in the city as an Islamic scholar.

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