Various protests continue in Egypt as the Muslim Brotherhood passes a new constitution that favours conservative religious rule rather than civil liberties. Juan Cole writes:
Short of a military coup (which no one but the holdovers of the old regime wanted) or another mass revolution (hard to organize twice in a row in the space of a couple of years), the only course of action open to Morsi’s many critics now is to contest vigorously the February parliamentary elections and to work over the coming years to repeal the articles in the constitution to which they object. In short, they are now in a position similar to that of American liberals in the 1920s who wanted to repeal the 1921 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which made the sale and distribution of alcohol illegal. (To be clear, Morsi and his Brotherhood-based Freedom and Justice Party probably will not go so far as to forbid alcohol in Egypt, but have signalled that they will place heavy sin taxes on it).
The danger going forward is that large swathes of society will forgo electoral politics to engage in civil disobedience to protest fundamentalist or right wing elements of this constitution. For instance, the text allows labor unions and collective bargaining, but forbids more than one union for each trade. Depending on how the courts interpret this article, many workers could feel disenfranchised by being herded into an official union they don’t like. In turn, the 3000 strikes staged in the zeroes could be outstripped in this decade.
A child living in the shanty area of al-Dweiqa walks past smouldering rubbish as he makes his way home from school in Cairo October 4, 2012. Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi has won grudging respect from detractors in his first 100 days by sending the army back to barracks faster than anyone expected and raising Egypt’s international profile in several newsmaking visits abroad. Yet his political fortunes and those of the Muslim Brotherhood which propelled him to power may well depend on his delivering on more mundane issues such as easing traffic congestion and bread and fuel shortages by October 7 as promised. Picture taken October 4, 2012.
Lost pieces of the Book of the Dead recently surfaced in the holdings of a museum in Brisbane, Australia. I lost my mind with excitement.
Ms Bates said the Queensland Museum’s sections were donated and have been meticulously kept in the stores of the Museum for almost 100 years. ‘It is so gratifying to find that it is our own Queensland Museum team that have been the guardians of this tomb secret have perfectly preserved such incredibly fragile and rare artefacts for over a century.’ Ms Bates said the Queensland Museum would support future research into the Amenthoep ‘Book of the Dead’. ‘We’re proud the Queensland Museum will help close the book on this mystery,’ Ms Bates said.
Students from Mansoura, a city two hours north of Cairo in Egypt, put on an art show of their graffiti in late December. These street artists use their creations to protest against the injustice being committed by the Egyptian authorities.
The first image is found all over the city. It shows a soldier zipping up his pants. The writing reads something to the effect of “I am free to piss on my people”.
The second image says: “Down with military rule.”
The centrepiece is a stenciled image of a photograph that caused international anger, of riot police dragging a woman whilst ripping her shirt open. It reads: “Would you accept this for your mother?? Would you accept this for your sister??”
The final image reads: “NO SCAF” (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces).
Julia Elyachar and Jessica Winegar have published a special edition of Cultural Anthropology on the Egyptian Revolution. Highlights include reflections on how the Revolution has impacted ethnography and anthropological writing and an exploration of the notion of martyrdom in the context of counter-revolution. My favourite piece is Mona Abaza’s critique of Western ‘academic tourists‘.
Abaza reports that she and her colleagues have been inundated with requests for research expertise, but without serious consideration of the ‘international division of labour’. That is, the resources, time, commitments and personal costs of lending knowledge and data to researchers from Britain and the USA who work in the safety of well-funded universities. Egyptians are hired as research assistants or translators, but their labour and subjective perspectives serve a Western reading of revolution. As a result, Abaza sees that Western academics have a tendency to discuss the Arab Spring through a lens of Orientalism.