Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bookstores in Cairo, Egypt

Virgin Megastore
The famous Virgin Megastore at City Stars in Madinet Nasr is an important place to find many books from children's to scientific, art, literature and personal development books. They get the latest released editions of both Arabic and English books. Offers are available during some seasons. Virgin also sells music, DVDs, electronics, etc.
Go to Virgin if you are looking for a new book or edition.

Dar Al-Shorok
Can also be found at City Stars mall (first floor). They have a wide variety of Arabic and English books. Some people think their prices are better than Virgin but I never really compared, I go there directly if I'm looking for books published by them.

American University in Cairo (AUC) Bookstore
Address: 113 Kasr El-Aini St., in Hill House on the Main Campus, Downtown. Telephone: +20-2357-5377 / 1.

Alef Bookstore

"Alef" is the first letter of th eArabic alphabet. They have many nice offers and events. Can also be found at City Stars, Zamalek (2 Taha Hussien St., Zamalek) and other locations, check the website for their addresses.

Found in Talaat Harb, Downtown or El-Batal Ahmed Abdel Aziz, Mohandeseen.

Diwan Bookstore

Another prominent bookstore in Cairo. Has a few branches, check the website for addresses.

Soor el Ozbakeya
This is a very special place in Cairo where you can find all types of Arabic and non-Arabic books for amazing prices. You can find used books in very good condition, rare books, old books, academic textbooks, everything! It is a wide area where many kiosks sell hundreds and hundreds of books. To get there, use the underground (metro) towards El Ataba station.

Check this link for a list of Bookstores and their addresses.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

HTC Desire S video sample

This is a video test/sample taken by the HTC desire S at 720p HD. The scene is from part of the Egyptian countryside, which have some really beautiful scenery, bu that's another story.

The HTC Desire S can shoot HD at 720p but only at 15 fps (frames per second). There is no autofocus during video recording but you can manually focus on any part of the video by touching the screen at the part /object you want to focus on during recording the video.

You can zoom while recording and you can choose whether to turn flash on or off. Please note that using the flash very near to a person may be annoying to their eyes and may burn out the image. You can also use the front camera to record video.

Overall the quality of the video is good and sufficient although I didn't like it at night.
I'll be uploading more video samples soon.

How to improve HTC Desire S battery life

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Oslo attacks: Blame the Muslims!

Assume it's the Muslims until it starts to look like it isn't:

Following the tragic terrorist attacks in Oslo, the media started speculating and analysing as usual. After the bombings and before the identity of the attacker was revealed, many experts said it had the fingerprints of Al-Qaeda all over it, they started to guess the motives behind the attack and why the Muslims hate Norway, says Charlie Brooker in this article.

Even after the Identity of the attacker was known, you can still see words that represent a belief that terrorism is only linked to Islam, words like "Christian Jihadi" or "Christian Taliban" have been used in some media and websites even when the attacker is an anti Muslim christian extremist. Moreover, many western media have even avoided the word "terrorist" in their coverage, but instead they used "extremist" or "attacker" as  mentioned in his article: When the word terrorism is no used. This doesn't apply to all  the western media but to many of it, at least the American media.

When a so-called Muslim commits an act of terrorism, everyone starts discussing Islam and how it includes hatred, they claim, but when a Christian extremist commit the same crime, you don't hear the same argument, do you think that Christians will be searched and scanned at airports like Muslims are, just because they are Muslims? Someone on twitter wrote something meaningful : "Now I know how Muslims felt, after the attacker is being called a (Christian) fundamentalist."

#Blame the Muslims:
Someone on twitter started this hash-tag a few days ago and in hours it was trending!. At first I had no idea who he is, many people where offended by it and thought it was racist but it was obviously sarcastic. Later on we knew who is behind it (in the video below from AlJazeera), here are some examples of the tweets I liked:

You can for enlightening ancient Spain with reading, writing, math, & art while the rest of Europe stayed in the darkness. By Annan6.

Trending topics like shows how ignorant our world has become. By

I for advances in science, mathematics, medicine & chemistry. And for developing these 100's of years before .
By unknown.

Muslims don’t immigrate to assimilate & integrate—they come to subjugate & dominate in time. . By andilinks.

was made out of sarcasm, its not ment to be racist! its just showing how silly it is to blame muslims for everything! By Baya_AirBorne.

for, you know, inventing Algebra. Blame extremism for the terrorist attacks that kill innocent people
. By Lianegraham.

If your father and mother had a fight then u should . By KhaledAdel.

-- an attempt to show the Media's bias towards Muslims. It wasn't started out of spite or hate.
By RuwaydaMustafah.

I'm actually not a big fan of the word "fundamentalist" and may be "extremist", I like to use the word terrorist or criminal when someone commits violence killing and injuring hundreds or thousands of unarmed civilians.
Many people can mix between some right-winged groups or some people with tight or traditional religious views and terrorists. And what I call "extremism" might not look like so to others, different societies have different traditions and cultures, a head scarf or even a Niqab can look like extremism to you but to others, it is very normal and a tradition in many countries, and doesn't always indicate a very religious female! But when it comes to terrorism and killing civilians no matter what the motivation is, no one disagrees that it is, indeed, terrorism.

Here's another video, from The Colbert Report that discusses the same issue:

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Inspirational Video!

I love inspirational videos, videos that have a creative idea behind them, together with good cinematography and production. Simplicity is another important feature I like in short movies; some of the answers in the video might sound funny, stupid or even shocking; without much ranting, let's see this video:

If you watched it, I recommend also watching Australia, Galway and Brooklyn. :)
Know any good or inspirational short movies? post them down in the comments thank you.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The unforgotten "Nakba": facts about Palestine

Nakba (56) by
photo by on Flickr.

The world has watched today's events and until now there are 15 killed in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. The Nakba or "catastrophe" isn't only 63 years old, efforts have been made years before 1948 to prepare for Jewish migration and to get them into Palestine. After Palestine was placed under British mandate, efforts have been conducted to facilitate placing around 3-4 million Jewish amongst Arabs in Palestine, expelling hundreds of thousands of Palestinians out of their homes. The first Israeli PM Davin Ben-Gorion once said: "the old will die and the young will forget" referring to the Palestinian refugees. Surprisingly to the Israelis, they haven't forgotten.

Many villages inside the borders of Israel were ethnically cleansed to allow for colonial settlements and to establish the new state of Israel, around 95% of the newly established state of Israel were built between 1948-1953 on the land of the expelled Palestinians. Today, there are around 4.7 million Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and elsewhere; some of them are still living in refugee camps under inhuman conditions. The fate of these refugees is still unknown.

Today, the 15th of May is the 63rd anniversary of the "Nakba", Palestinians and Arabs took to the streets marking this day, which lead to clashes were the Israeli army has shot the protesters killing around 15 till the moment.

The Lebanese army has tried to prohibit the protesters at the borders from evoking clashes with the Israelis on the other side of the border. Meanwhile, the Egyptian Army has blocked the roads to the Gaza border city of Rafah and detained around 10 activists, The Israeli Defense Force has though condemned that the Syrian and Lebanese Armies have done nothing to prevent violence at the borders.

The protests outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo turned violent after the  police forces cracked down on protesters injuring tens and detaining some of them.

  • Most Muslims and Arabs are against the "Zionist project" but not Judaism as a religion. Arabs see Zionism as a racist movement that uses religion to uproot the Palestinians and force them out of their homes to seize the land and build Israel.
  • Israel had denied residency rights to 140,000 Palestinians in the West Bank, in what Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz described as a "demographic policy" whose "sole purpose is to thin out the Palestinian population". 
  • The international community recognizes the West Bank and Gaza Strip as the "Occupied Palestinian Territories".
  • Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1980 but the United Nations Security Council resolution 478 declared it "null and void" and a violation to the international law.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Syrian uprising: they need your support

As you know, the Arab uprising has spread from Tunisia to Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain and Syria. The situation right now in Syria is so critical because the regimen their is as brutal as those of Egypt and Tunisia together and because Syria is a very crucial element in the area. Bashar Al Asad forces have been using excessive force, killing, injuring and detaining thousands (around 110 killed only in the past 2 days).

The video below shows part of the massacre that the security forces in Deraa committed against peaceful demonstrators. Warning: the video contains very graphical material, not recommended for those under 18 years old.

We all have to show support and solidarity for the Syrian people, spread their news and raise the awareness about what is happening there. We can arrange protests in front of the Syrian embassies all over the world, we can send them messages on the internet via facebook, twitter and youtube. We can at least show them that they are not alone and that we pray for them.
Check the BBC website for the latest news about Syria or follow @SyrianJasmine on twitter.
God bless Syria.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Egyptian Uprising in Western Eyes

Egyptian Revolution: Fri 4th
Photo by omarroberthamilton.

The situation in Egypt is changing and evolving everyday, every hour. This blog is not about news or politics (actually it has no specific topic) but as an Egyptian I had to write about the Egyptian revolution. I want to talk today about the way westerners see this revolution and how the media dealt with it. I'm not an expert and I don't know everything that is being said in western media but I tried to keep track with them.

In the beginning, the western media only focused on a few things: whether these demonstrations would affect the Suez canal or not, investments and whether this can lead to Islamic extremists taking over or not.

The Arab governments have been using the scarecrow of Islamic extremists for a long time. This bogyman in addition "chaos" have been used to scare both the west and the Arabs, specially here in Egypt. I wanna make this clear, there is a big difference between someone who have some tight religious views and terrorists! Also, it is not just extremists who pray by the way!

With time, the whole world rapidly paid attention to this revolution, this is going to be a big change in the region and the media and journalists have looked deeply into it, who made it, why did they do it and how did the police react to it.

Watch Anderson Cooper exposing the brutality of Egyptian police and lies of the gov.

This is a people's revolt, for dignity and liberty, against police brutality and corruption of the government. Period. I have found some videos that actually say everything I wanna say, so here we go:

And another one:

And this is a great video that sums things up for you and give more insight and remarkable scenes from this revolt:

Noam Chomsky on Egyptian revolution:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Amr Salama's Testimony on What Happened to Him on Jan25

Amr Salama is a young Egyptian director and blogger who joined the "Day of Revolution" on 25th of January when tens of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets to protests police brutality, political oppression and unemployment, demanding an end to the regime of Hosni Mubarak.

After being heftily beaten and hit by the police forces, he decided to write what happened exactly this day, his conversations with several police officers and soldiers which have some realy deeper meanings behind them.

This was translated by Jailan El-Rafie, I found this note on facebook:

This is the article written by Amr Salama here:
I took the time to translate it since I wanted more people to read it:

"I feel that it is my duty right now to get the word out about all what has happened during the historic Anger Day demonstrations, to prevent false and untrue statements and also to prevent people from getting the wrong message off what happened to me or to other protesters.
And it is a duty for anyone who has been subjected to violence, insult, torture or unfair arrest to tell his/her story in total transparency for the people to understand the hardship of the experience.

Not only to expose the violations done by the Egyptian riot police, but also to expose the little positive things that occurred in between, to give hope to the people, and to make them understand why the current events are taking place.
 I will tell my story briefly, for those who don’t know it.

We were leading the demonstration in front of Dar Al Hekma in Al Qasr Al Ainy St., and there was a cordon of riot police surrounding us. We really wanted to break through so we can join the bigger protest in Tahrir Sq.

At around 2 or 3 pm, we decided to try to break through, no matter what it took.
Strongly motivated, I was one of the first-liners as we pushed through lines of soldiers and we finally broke through and on to the street. We ran to the streets leading to the square.

The street was totally vacant of people, and in the horizon I could see a mass of people. At first I thought they were protesters but then I noticed that they all were dressed in black, coming in our direction and holding black sticks. I remembered the scenes from old war movies, like Braveheart and Gladiator, and I had the exact feeling of old battle grounds, and I found myself one of the first people to run towards the approaching lines of police. Also, there were some people trying to escape through side streets but they were easily cornered. A moment later, we were under attack.

I had my dear iPhone in hand, and I was trying to take photos or record videos, until I got surrounded by a large enough amount of soldiers who started beating me ferociously with their sticks, delivering painful blows on my head, face, stomach and legs.

Then, came in from between them the respectable commando officer whose face I will never, ever forget, and he started beating me in the face in a way I never imagined a human body could survive. Then he grabbed my dear iPhone, threw it to the ground, and started hitting it hard with his feet, until it was smashed to pieces. Then he seemed to get back to his normal state of mind, and he said “Let go, stop hitting him” to the soldiers. In a glimpse of hope I thanked God, thinking the man has finally heard the voice of the goodness inside of him.  Then he continued, “...there are cameras around.” Then, he dragged me to a side street and as we walked we saw a young man lying on the ground, and a terrifying amount of blood coming from a wound in his head.  The officer said, “Here, another ****** is dead. I swear to God I will kill you just like him, you son of a ******.” Then we entered a building, the nice soldiers escorting, he locked the entrance, tripped my legs and got me on the ground, then started the painful episode of vicious beating.

 He delivered blows to my head and stomach, and the soldiers hit me with their sticks, too. One of them broke a wooden subject that I couldn’t recognize and started hitting me with it in every inch of my body.  A mixture of insults were thrown around, like “you son of a *****”, “We’ve been in the streets since last night because of you *****”. I started trying to tell them “Do you even realize why you’re trying to stop us now? “ He replied, “You’re trying to show me how educated you are, *****?” I obviously taunted and teased him more, so he started hitting me even harder.

Through my screams I tried to say how I was doing all this for them, how I am an Egyptian citizen just like him. Of course my words weren’t clear through all the noise and while he was delivering his verbal and physical blows, my words weren’t of any significance whatsoever.

A while later, he started to get exhausted. He told the soldiers, “I want him dead, like that guy we saw in the gutter. If he’s not dead when I get back I will kill you. If you’re hungry, eat him up.” Then he left, and for another 10 minutes I was brutally beaten up. I was puzzled at how I was still alive.

And now, 36 hours later, I swear to God I can still feel the pain in every centimeter of my body.
The funny thing is, at that time, I reached a state where I was absolutely numb, not feeling a glimpse of pain. I said my prayers, and started getting visions. Visions about my family, how this was going to affect them, about the movie that I hadn’t finished directing yet, about the page that would be created about me on Facebook, and I wondered if it would have the title “We all are Amr Salama”. I also thought about the statement the Ministry of Interior would issue, saying that I must have died after accidently swallowing my iPhone.

Then I started to scream. I screamed as loud as I could. I told the soldiers how I was protesting for THEIR sake, that I had a mobile, a car, and money, how I didn’t at all suffer in my daily life.

And for reasons unknown they finally heard me, and stopped. One of them was greatly touched and he started getting them away from me. He got me a chair and asked me if I could walk. After a moment of silence, I said “I’ll try.” He told me that I should run fast before the officer returns and that if he returns now he’s going to murder me. I got up and tried to run but unfortunately the officer did return, and he thought I was trying to escape. The soldiers pretended to be stopping me, so I took another round of beating that made the first one seem like a Walt Disney cartoon from the 1940’s.

A while later someone else got the officer’s attention. Another officer showed up, asked me about my name and occupation, saw my ID then told me to run fast before the other officer gets back to me.

I ran for a while before the pains started manifesting throughout my body, followed by headaches and dizziness. My eyes started tearing uncontrollably, I wasn’t crying but I totally lost control over my nerves.

I arrived at a friend’s workplace in downtown, where he agreed to have me. I sat down and he got me something to drink.  He left me alone, and then I found myself crying as I never cried before.

I wasn’t crying because of pain, humiliation or terror. I cried for one reason: I found myself starting to hate Egypt.  I found myself starting to feel that the soldiers who were supposed to protect it made me hate it, that its oppressing and unfair government made me hate it. Its negative people, insisted on being negative and never stood with us protesters. It all overwhelmed me, the corruption, unfairness, oppression, and all other things. How dare I make another human being rule this country? How could I get him to love it, fight for it, and belong to it? I started thinking; why not leave it when I get a chance? I remembered when a dear friend once said, “Egypt’s only future is immigration to Canada.”

A couple of minutes later, the voice of reason became once more audible – it’s not the voice of reason, for sure, but it always has put me in trouble – then I reminded myself of my beliefs, for which I’m writing this article, to share them with the world.

I remembered that my belonging to Egypt isn’t obligatory, it’s my own choice, I chose it because it’s important for me, not for Egypt. It’s important for me to know where I’m from, where I belong, where my house is, where my bed is, where I feel that I have arrived, not waiting to go anywhere else.

I remembered that I should always stay positive of wherever I have chosen to belong to, and be optimistic, whatsoever, that this place will be better because of me and those around me.

I honestly would rather not live, if life’s without hope or sincerity. If I live without these two things I will only turn into an animal, an insignificant being only wanting to eat, sleep and enjoy temporary delights that will never feed my soul. My choice is final and I have no intention to re-think it, whatsoever.

Even if the world sees me as a hopeless romantic or a dreamer, I really don’t care. I will always be happy and satisfied with my choice, regardless of the consequences.
I discovered that the most important thing is that I realized these things, that I know why I was beaten, why I protested, and that I know that without signs and complex political demands I understood why I endured all this. I endured all this because I want a better Egypt, a better Egypt without absolute ongoing power to anyone of its governors, and a better Egypt without a large gap in social structure.  The poor stays poor but at least has the basic human rights of dignity and properly satisfied human survival needs.

I want my future son to get proper education and medical treatment. I want him/her to have hopes or ambitions of any kind even if he/she wants to reach presidency. I want a better Egypt where police protects the people rather than doing what was done to me and many other protesters in every police department and street, rather than what was done to martyrs like Khaled Saeed and Sayyed Belaal. I want a better Egypt where anyone who has a right can go to a police department to demand it without any fear of being ignored; he/she will find the officer ready and willing to help them rather than being stationed elsewhere, doing nothing but watching black cars and bodyguards passing by since morning, rather than being nothing but a blind follower and protector of a system that already has failed to give him his own rights of proper payment and life, a system that left him standing to take all the hate that was originally directed to the system.

When I got beaten and tortured, I realized that my fear has lessened and that I will protest again and again. I also realized that if I die, I shall be a martyr and I shall be in a better place.
I realized that the soldiers who hit me had no idea why they were doing it, and they felt they had unreasonable motives, even if they stayed up all night trying to make sense out of it. The soldiers had sympathy for me and were probably more afraid than I was, afraid of punishment or worse.

I most importantly realized that there IS hope, hope to see Egypt not only as liberated as Tunis but also in a place better than I could ever imagine. A place I would want to have kids at so they would live a good life full of dignity, and make it even better.

I am not calling myself a hero, and I have indeed seen people who were more brutally hit and arrested. Those who died at the protests are of course labeled as martyrs. If you ever get to talk to these people, they’re all proud of themselves. They’re all with less fear, more will, and a feeling of self-righteousness. They all got out stronger, more motivated and hopeful than ever. They believe that the light at the end of the tunnel is indeed there, no matter how long it takes to reach it.

The most important thing is that I realized that a lot of quotes are exceptionally true and are not just words, like “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger”."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

More Protests in Egypt

Another exhausting day in Egypt, protests continue but with smaller numbers than yesterday and more brutality from the riot police forces. Two more people were killed today making a total of 7 deaths in the last 2 days with hundreds of injuries and the total number of detainees is now about 1200.

Plain cloth policemen arrest Mohamed Abdel Qoddous outside the Journalists' Syndicate in downtown Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Jan. 26. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Many journalists and cameramen have been also detained during the clashes. Internet censorship over twitter, facebook and other websites continued in an intermittent way though most activists were able to bypass this censorship by using special software or proxies. The Mediterranean city of Suez have seen the most violent clashes between protesters and the police after 2 protesters were shot and died yesterday and police forces were heftily beating the people and throwing tear gas at them.

Here are some great sources on this topic:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Egyptian Uprising #jan25, A revolution that started on facebook?

It was a big day for Egyptians, tens of thousands of Egyptians attended demonstrations all over the country, protesting against poverty, unemployment, police brutality and the current regime.The protesters are also demanding presidential terms to be limited to only two.

The demonstrations started around 02:00 PM in all the big cities in Egypt specially Cairo, Alexandria, Mansoura, Mahla, Suez and Asyoot with multiple protests in each. In the beginning of the day, the police was dealing with the protesters softly and some protesters were handing flowers to the police forces. Later on, things turned ugly with the increasing number of people the riot police started harassing the protesters, hitting them and throwing tear gas grenades at them, the police also used live ammunition, many people were injured and hundreds were detained. There was heavy police and state security presence in all of the cities where protests were held but protesters outnumbered the police in many of them.

The protests were mainly announced and organized online via facebook groups and twitter with many of the Egyptian opposition movements but most of the people in the street were just regular citizens and not of a specific political affiliation.

Most of the Arab media coverage was just so weak, in fact most of the news about the marches, photos and videos were broadcasted and published online using cellular phones and digital cameras. The famous micro-blogging website Twitter was blocked in Egypt as well as some other news websites and blogs.

If you are a twitter user you can view the latest updates from bloggers, activists and protesters at these hashtags: #jan25 and #tahrir.
Here is the live coverage from the Guardian, updated frequently.

CNN coverage.

Another Video of the protests.

Activist Tarek Shalby has published some videos that he shot.

Latest updates:

  • Three protesters were killed tonight in Suez City by the security forces' live ammunition.

  • A police solider was killed.

  • From Zeinobia's blog: It is 12:50 AM CLT now and our friends in Al Tahrir square are currently under huge attack from the security forces that are firing cannons of tear gas. Mass arrests are taking place in the streets of Al Tahrir. Many are injured. Ambulances are heading to the place.