Monday, July 18, 2011

Letters from Egypt: Pushing Foreigners out in Media Retaliation

While the UN will undoubtedly push for international observers in Egypt’s upcoming election, could the country be denying foreign visa extensions as its own retaliation over media coverage during the revolution?

It’s a theory and not too outlandish of one, even Egyptians are contemplating this as the main reason for denying visas.

I went to the Mogamma today, which for those of you that don’t know, is located in the heart of Tahrir Square. What a show this so-called Liberation Square is… Unfortunately I can’t bring a camera into the Mogamma, but let me just tell you, Tahrir Square is full of people that:

  • Don’t want to work
  • Venders taking advantage of the heat, ie thirst and hunger
  • Beggars

That’s a wrap folks.

And with all the security issues, you would think the Mogamma (place for visas) would have tougher security. Wrong. I opened my purse and the woman said, “Do you have a camera?” I said, “No.” And without looking through my purse, I passed through. A second security checkpoint is upstairs with an actual conveyor belt to scan purses with a metal detector (the front of the building usually has this as well, but those machines were missing. What was the person monitoring the metal detector and scanner doing? Joking and grabbing tea from a colleague.

When you go for your visa, you need a copy of your passport, copy of your last visa and one passport size photo ID. My visa expires July 25, 2011, but this just in: because I traveled outside of the country, my visa is apparently no longer valid and I was charged a late-fee on top of paying for a visa that is still to be accepted (there is a 90% chance and higher that it will be denied).

So in going to pay the so-called late fee, it takes ages to determine which window you need. Add that in with the no-concept-of-a-line and then finding out that no one is at the window. Why? In one particular group I monitored, one man was reading his Al-Ahram newspaper while his colleagues ate lunch, a group of women sat chatting and another mixed group sat and listened to some man regale a funny joke. Bravoooooooo.

I was told to leave my paperwork and come back in the morning. As I walked to the car, I literally walked through heaps of trash. While I’ve stressed before that the present protestors are not the same people that started the revolution (affluent Egyptians), it is astounding the amount of rubbish throughout the area. So much for the “Clean Tahrir” intiative. 

I wonder if you could draw a parallel between Tahrir Square and Animal House.

Photo source: Discovery

2 comments:

  1. left a better comment - got screwed because it directed me to an arabic page - not your fault - realised that probably happens people who leave comments on my blog also. Haven't got the energy to write it again - basically as we in Cork would say "You're on the ball, Girl!" Been reading all your blog. Hope you got your visa - this comment might not show up either, gonna select another profile!

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  2. Hi Mara, thanks for your comments. I actually commented on the Luxor Times Magazine blog post, but they failed to approve my comment. I politely pointed out that the standard rules of journalism require a minimum of two sources. If one article mentioned four sources, that is more than enough. Furthermore, the Bikya Masr article did quote someone from the Ministry of Tourism. Therefore, I asked how they could question sources when they failed to list one single source in their article. I will write a blog now about the article.

    Thankfully, my visa was extended for three months, but it is another story in itself and I can't post everything on my blog. I do agree that other pertinent information was left out of these news articles, but I find it strange that the Luxor Times would agree to publish another comment saying thanks for the story, but not publish mine. Even if someone disagrees with my blog, I still publish because everyone has a right to their opinions. The only reason I now require people to sign in and/or get approval is because I received threatening comments regarding one post and I will not tolerate that.

    Anyway, thanks again and check back in a few for my next entry. Hope you're staying out of the heat.

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