Monday, November 30, 2009

Let's leave history in the past

(Claire Noble, Photo by Randa El Tahawy)

She refers to where she was born as the North and where she lives as the South like it was all one country.

What Claire Noble 23, means is that she was born in Northern Ireland part of the United Kingdom but now lives in the Republic of Ireland a separate state, and this did make a difference in how she was brought up.

“When we moved it was like a different country,” she says with her soft voice, “ I used to stand out because I was from the North.”

After her dad bought a nice farm while driving by in Galway, Ireland, Claire at that time 13 and her family moved from her hometown Fermanagh.

“I was excited but didn’t want to leave because I didn’t know anything about the country.”

She recalls how difficult it was for her to settle in a new country always feeling like she is standing out because of her origins.

“ People had so many stereotypes and used to ask me those stupid questions about the IRA (Irish Republican Army) and the religious origins of my surname, Noble.”

Getting used to the label

Despite hearing those stereotypes and living with them everyday, Claire doesn’t blame anyone, “ a lot of the people I knew never got out and didn’t really know what they were implying.”

She adds that it is normal to find people trying to put an identity label on other people.

“ Settling was hard but I also saw it as an adventure, there are always advantages from moving.”

As every teenager would normally do, Claire wanted to fit in and remembers how she was easily led and made unfortunate friendships.

“ I lost my strong Northern accent in two years and when I used to go back to the North my family would make fun of my new accent,” she says.

A move that shaped her personality

If there is one thing Claire learned from having to juggle between two cultures it would be questioning what is wrong and what is right.

She also discovered her passion for reporting on current affairs and realized that she wanted to be a journalist.

“When you go away you realize so many things about yourself,” she says.

With time, Claire is still learning about her herself and being a Master student in Journalism in London is surely helping her get a clearer picture.

“ I am proud to call myself Irish living in the South but holding on to Northern Ireland.”

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Egyptian Football Fans attacked in Sudan

Egyptian fans going to support the national team playing for the World Cup qualification game against Algeria were attacked in Sudan after the Algerian team won 1-0. 

Buses going to the Airport were surrounded by Algerian fans throwing stones, breaking glasses.

Egyptian Talk Show AL Kahira Al Youm (Cairo Today), reported that many Egyptians are in great danger and were seriously injured where some of them managed to hide in several places.

Phone calls were aired on the show, with many Egyptians panicking and seeking the help of security forces. Presenters including Amr Adib were losing their tempers angrily shouting on air the information.

Security forces are still trying to control the situation sending rescue to the fans in order for them to reach the airport.Other sources say that planes already started to take off.

Sources who phoned the show from London said Algerians have been attacking Egyptians in London with one attack reported near Edgware road in London.

Facebook Users Updates

Facebook's statuses updates and video postings about these attacks were constantly being updated. People are angry, outraged and disgusted:

Many are worried about their relatives or their friends trying to get back from Sudan. Some posts included emergency numbers for people stuck in Sudan.

Others were letting know people that planes are ready to take off from the stadium or have arrived from Khartoum in Cairo.

Other news sources?
Other than the Egyptian press, I still haven't seen any other news report from any other news agencies. Why is that? Not in the Agenda? Where are the correspondents?

It is not important enough that people are being attacked over a football game?

And the Egyptian team lost what would have happened if we had won!!

I cannot believe I am not able to get a proper news source updating me on the situation. Thank you Facebook.

National Outrage
As every Egyptian I am outraged, I was rather sad and disappointed when Egypt lost the game but now I do not even have words to describe how I feel.

It is not football anymore, it is becoming politics but ugly politics.

The point was to go to the World Cup in 2010 to be proud of our Egyptian team but not to turn these games into a war leading us to despise, insult and attack a nation.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Egypt: Taking our country for granted?

After nearly two months living in London, I am realizing, how we do take Egypt for granted and should work on improving it.

 Instead of leaving Egypt and living the life abroad I think we should all think about ways to improve it and make it better.

As much as I am enjoying the many advantages of living in Europe, I realize more and more that people like me should always come back to their homeland and bring back something with them.

I also got so inspired by a friend of mine from the program Diala, a Palestinian from Ramallah who has  much passion for her country and is very much fighting for her land and for her cause.

Take a look at her post it is amazing.

She do knows the value of having a country, a culture, a history and a land and she is truly working serving her cause, as a Palestinian but also as a Journalist.

A Better Life Abroad?
A recent article by the BBC was talking about how many Egyptians dream to leave Egypt and go work in another country for a better life.

They are not to be blamed, the economy is not helping, people are under-appreciated  in their field, society and culture make it very hard for anyone to fulfill their dreams and the government is to be blamed for that.

As an Egyptian you are not being treated as a citizen who has his full rights, you are not the priority, money is.

  • Your lost bags will always be found in less than 24hours if you are not Egyptian.
  • You can swim in El Gezira club and visit on a Friday if you're a foreigner but if you are Egyptian you can't.

Money, Power and Connections
 Egyptian are not even equally treated in regards to each other and do live in the same standards.

  • Average citizens do not pay for their driver license and do not have people who clean for them and drive them around town.

  • If an average citizen commits a crime his dad will not get him out of trouble because he knows someone in the army.

  • An average citizen cannot afford the American University in Cairo and spending 100 pounds for food when this 100 pounds is almost his monthly allowance.

Fascinating Potential

I will never forget one of the interviews I conducted with a French woman, Veronique Sedrot who owns a boutique hotel in old Cairo Le Riad. 

She made me feel so fascinated but at the same time so ashamed. She spoke about Egypt as if it was her country, talking about the wonders, the culture, the social scheme everything she said about Egypt was true and amazing.

Take a look at the hotel and the website and you will understand how she sees Egypt and the pictures actually do not lie.  So why, her and not us Egyptians?

Monday, November 9, 2009

London Lighting Up!

It seems that last week's theme was "Lights On" for London. 

  With the famous start of the Christmas Lights on the 3rd of November and on the 5th of November Bonfire Night-Guy Fawkes Night celebrating the Gunpowder Plot, an attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605.

Last Tuesday, the streets of London all started the countdown to spreading the Christmas season!

On the 3rd of November at around 18:00 Oxford Street, Regent Street and Leicester Square were all illuminated by the spirit of Christmas with the theme of the year the movie premiere of A Christmas Carol, showing in 3D.

A private event for the movie premiere was at Leicester Square, with a red carpet and the whole square turned into a movie set, with chorals, guests etc... it was an interesting event even though the host was quite annoying.

You got to hear Andrea Bocelli sing the theme song of the movie and see Colin Firth and Jim Carey in persons!! (On a screen actually but they were right behind the barrier where I was standing).

Other than that you could just enjoy the lovely Christmas lights all around Oxford Street and Regent Street, making the city taste a little different.

Although I do not celebrate Christmas, I got really happy and excited from those lights capturing each of them on camera.

It really changes the mood of the streets, instead of having a busy city, with people rushing all over especially since this new Oxford X crossing, that I cannot understand.

It just brings joy to people, preparing for the holiday season, family reunions, trips to various destinations, lots of gifts and shopping, great food...

Yes, it's a time to be merry and it is very much needed after hectic months like the past ones for everyone especially me.

As for Bonfire Night, the actual night is on November 5th, yet many events were taking place on Friday 6th and Saturday 7th.

Fireworks display and funfairs were all over town mainly in parks.

The Victoria Park fireworks display was an amazing one, the theme of the year was "Great Balls of Fire", the event started with a funfair from 14h00 but the actual display was at 19h45, accompanied with rock songs that all had to do with Fire!

It was a truly great experience to see those stunning fireworks while listening to songs about fire like, Fever, Light My Fire and many more.

It reminded me of the 14th of July fireworks celebrations in France when I was little.

I don't really know what is so fascinating about fireworks, but you can never get tired of it, always amazed and hearing the crowd going "aaah" when there is a big firework firing up in the sky.

Although we had been standing up for hours in the cold, as soon as it all started, the sky as well as our faces just lit up!

Those two events were great experiences where people got amusingly charmed by lights and fireworks.

It is an interesting aspect of the London lifestyle where you enjoy the beauty of the city by doing simple yet amusing activities with massive gathering of people.

Next week will certainly have lots of  events around town coming up and if you're looking for a fireworks display there is the Lord Mayor's show on Saturday the 14th, an all day parade with fireworks at night, welcoming into office the new Lord Mayor of London.

(Photo By Randa El Tahawy-Victoria Park)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Let the Battle Begin: 14th November 2009, Egypt V.S Algeria

Described by Egyptians as the game of the year and even the game of the decade the upcoming World Cup qualifier match against Algeria on November 14th is the talk of the month in Cairo.

Egypt has had a long history of clashes in football with North African countries but especially with Algeria. With the race for the World Cup qualifier this month, Algerians are now becoming the enemies.

History Repeating Itself?

The upcoming game will be a trip back in history when, twenty years ago, in 1989, Egypt won the qualifying game against Algeria 1-0 with a goal from Hossam Hassan who became a football national hero since.

Egypt needs to beat Algeria by a three-goal margin to advance to the World Cup for the first time since 1990. A win by a two-goal margin will set up a playoff game on the 18th of November in a country chosen by the FIFA as neutral soil.

Sports and Politics

There seems to be a war taking places between both sides with many open forums about the game turning into heated conversations with much hatred and insults. The Egyptian media is angered by the provocative comments from Algerians and retaliates with its own provocation. One Egyptian presenter even called on supporters to camp outside the Algerian players’ hotel when they come to Cairo to prevent them from sleeping. This is exactly what happened to the Egyptian team when they were in Algeria.

The debate has also gone into politics with an Algerian writer refusing to have the Egyptian visa stamp saying, “Egypt is a disgrace to Arabs and sold Arabs and Palestinian to Israel”, criticizing the Egyptian government’s foreign policies.

Battle for the Cup

Discussions have been taking place for weeks over the newspapers, television programs and the Internet with heated clashes against Algerians supporters and passionate support messages for the national team.

Videos and groups are flowing all over the Social Networking Website Facebook, with titles such as “Egypt Beats Algeria Our World Cup Dream” and “ I was not there for the 6th of October war but I will be there for the 14th of November war”.

Views and expectations are mixed for the outcome of the game. Algeria has more chances to win, as it will not be easy for Egypt to score three goals. However, Egypt has won the last two editions of the CAF African Cup of Nations and is supposed to be much stronger especially with its thousands of supporters at the stadium.

“I have been waiting for this day for twenty years and we are the African champions, we deserve to go to the 2010 World Cup. We are waiting for the Algerians in the stadium of hell,” says Hany Youssef a fervent supporter of the national team ( who helped me come up with all this info)

Egyptian player Ahmed Hassan was quoted in a news article saying: "Cairo Stadium might accommodate only 80,000 spectators, but I would like to tell the Algerian players that the 80 million Egyptians will be present. The venue will turn into a stadium of horror.”

Violent clashes are known to occur between supporters during significant matches like this one. Some Internet groups have warned women not to attend the game at the stadium because of the possible violent encounters that will take place in the “stadium of horror”.

(Photo By Randa El Tahawy)