Baher Mohamed, a journalist with Al Jazeera English, in the court room on Saturday in Cairo. Credit Asmaa Waguih/Reuters
A judge in Egypt today delivered a verdict in the trial of three news reporters from Al Jazeera English. They are sentenced to three years in prison, on charges widely believed to be politically motivated and otherwise baseless.
The verdict on Saturday was especially stunning because Egyptian officials had repeatedly signaled that they viewed the trial as a nuisance that had brought unwanted scrutiny of the government. The families of the journalists, Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste, said they had expected that the men would either be exonerated on Saturday or sentenced to time already served.
But instead, the judge, Hassan Farid, upheld what human rights advocates said was among many baseless accusations leveled during the journalists’ long legal odyssey: that they had “broadcast false news” about Egypt on Al Jazeera.
Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney (who is also the wife of actor George Clooney) represented Canadian national Mohammed Fahmy, one of the three jailed reporters. The men were first charged in 2013 for allegedly being a part of the Muslim Brotherhood, and airing faked footage with the intent of harming national security.
"The verdict today sends a very dangerous message in Egypt," said Clooney after the ruling. "It sends a message that journalists can be locked up for simply doing their job, for telling the truth and reporting the news."
Luna of Cairo is an excellent comic written by a woman who works as a belly dancer on a riverboat in Cairo. She gets frequently harassed by men (once a couple of young men sprayed tear gas at her and her friend," just for fun"). Crime is rampant, too ("daily fights, kidnappings, muggings, rapes, murders, and rising sectarian violence). Yet she stays because she loves to belly dance. It's illustrated by Leela Corman.
In 2008, Luna left New York City on a Fulbright scholarship to write a book about dance in Egypt. She holds a master's in Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University and a B.A. in journalism and political science. She is fluent in Egyptian Arabic, Spanish and English.
What killed the young Pharaoh Tutankhamen? Theories have ranged from assassination plots to epilepsy, but a new analysis of injuries visible on his mummy suggests that a chariot race accident might have been to blame.
At Gawker, Max Read gathers accounts from Twitter and elswhere about the unfurling chaos in Cairo: "The Army is said to have placed a travel ban on Morsi and other members of the Muslim Brotherhood. In Tahrir Square, the huge anti-Morsi protest that spurred the Army to act continues; elsewhere, Muslim Brotherhood party members and Morsi supporters are holding counter-protests."
Agence France-Presse posted this amazing photo (just a thumbnail shown here, click through for the full image) of protesters in Cairo zapping a military helicopter with lasers of varying power and color. As one of my tweeps said, behold the future of drone countermeasures.
You don't need to know an ancient language to help scientists read ancient literature. Researchers are looking for volunteers for a crowdsource project aimed at transcribing (and, later, translating) the words written on a series of crumbling papyrus scrolls, found in a trash heap at the site of what was once Oxyrhynchus, Egypt.
The Egyptian military claims it caught saboteurs in a small boat trying to sever one of the country's main undersea Internet cables. No word yet on who the guys were and what their motive might be:
Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali said in a statement on his official Facebook page that divers were arrested while “cutting the undersea cable” of the country’s main communications company, Telecom Egypt. The statement said they were caught on a speeding fishing boat just off the port city of Alexandria.
The statement was accompanied by a photo showing three young men, apparently Egyptian, staring up at the camera in what looks like an inflatable launch. It did not further have details on who they were or why they would have wanted to cut a cable.
The Pyramids of Giza close to tourists at 4:00 pm. Recently, a group of Russians managed to hide out at the site after closing time and scramble up the Great Pyramid of Cheops in the fading light. Naturally, they took photos. (Because if there is one thing the Internet has taught me about Russians, it's that they like to climb to dangerous heights and then take photos.)
These shots are kind of fabulous, not just for the thrill of "yeah, somebody broke the rules!", but because of the perspective you get from on high that isn't visible in the many ground-level shots I've seen. From on top of the Pyramid, you can see how the stone is pockmarked and carved — it really looks like something humans cut out of the Earth. You can also see the graffiti left by generations of tourists in multiple languages; English, Arabic, French, and more. And you can see the edge of the modern city, shimmering just at the horizon. I don't think I'd previously had such a profound sense of how closely modern Egyptians lived and worked to the Great Pyramid, before. What a fascinating view!
Lex sez, "I've just posted an interview with Indie Hannah of the Cai Rollers, Cairo (and Egypt's) first roller derby league.
They're a mixture of local women and international residents, and are finally practising after the project has been over a year in the making. They're had to fight hard to get to this point, and have plenty of struggles ahead of them."
Who are the CaiRollers? Many leagues in far-flung places are conglomerations of ex-pats with little local involvement. Something tells me that's not the case for you...
Nope, CaiRollers are as diverse as the city. Right now, we have about eight skaters, one coach and two volunteers who make up the foundation and are all working equally as hard to get this league going. Skaters include Egyptian natives, Egyptians with dual citizenship who are third world kids having grown up around the world, and some ex-pats from other parts of the world including America and Argentina. Our volunteer--hopefully future refs--are equally as diverse from Africa and America. Our belief and value systems range from Muslim to Christian, Agnostic to Buddhist. We range from teachers and nonprofit workers to female entrepreneurs.
AirPano created a breathtaking 360° interactive panorama of Egypt's Great Pyramids of Giza. The video above shows how AirPano collected the images that went into the panorama. How did they do it? As Greg from Daily Grail explains, "Just like the aliens that built the Giza pyramids, they used UFOs (or possibly remote-controlled drone-copters) to fly a panoramic camera up to certain points above the plateau in order to get the best possible view of these jaw-dropping structures." When I visited the pyramids as a 13-year-old, I was struck by how close the pyramids are to bustling Cairo. I imagined a long camel trek into the desert (hey, I was 13!) when it was really just a 15 minute taxi ride. Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt • 360° Aerial Panorama
When Howard Carter opened the tomb of the boy pharaoh Tutankhamen in 1922 he found a series of chambers piled high with “wonderful things.” For nerds of a certain age, this is a story we’ve heard many times before. King Tut was a part of our lives from childhood. On the list of “Dead Things Small Children Get Really Excited About”, he ranks just below dinosaurs and just above Pompeii. By the time we reached junior high, we had explored the Valley of the Kings through diagrams in National Geographic, catalogued Tut’s treasures in the pages of glossy DK picture books, and watched innumerable actors recreate Carter’s day of discovery on TV documentaries.
Given all that you already know about the Tutankhamen story, why should you bother reading Joyce Tyldesley’s new book Tutankhamen: The Search for an Egyptian King? Because Tyldesley asks (and answers) questions those old familiar sources seldom bothered with. Her book takes a popular kid’s history and fleshes it out with grown-up levels of depth and context. For instance: Why exactly was King Tut buried with all those grave goods to begin with?
The answer isn’t as simple as you might suspect. The golden couches, ornate game boards, food, and flowers are all usually presented as things Tutankhamen thought he’d need in the afterlife. But that doesn’t match up with what we know about ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, Tyldesley writes. Kings were supposed to spend their afterlives away from the tomb—reborn as a star, or merged with the god Osiris. It was non-royal elite who, at one point, thought they would need to deck out their tombs to be eternal vacation homes. By Tut’s time, though, even they were granted access to Osiris’ kingdom. Technically, there was no religious reason to bury anyone with as much stuff as Tut had, let alone a king. Howard Carter’s “wonderful things” were probably a function of cultural tradition, rather than religious necessity. It was about wealth and appearances, an effort to keep up with the Joneses which spiraled so out of control that real treasures were eventually replaced by representations of treasure. More important, Tyldesley says, there’s no reason to suspect that an older king would have been buried with more grave goods than Tutankhamen got.