14 - 20 September 2000
Issue No. 499
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
Undisputed factsSir- In its issue of 24-30 August, Al-Ahram Weekly ran a front-page photo depicting Palestinian demonstrations held to protest 33 years of the occupation of East Jerusalem. Orient House, the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority in East Jerusalem, had organised the protest activities. I was amazed that the caption accompanying the photo featured the word "disputed" to describe the eastern sector of the Holy City, instead of the term "occupied." Even only in strictly legal terms, East Jerusalem is indeed occupied land, as we are striving to establish, and Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 therefore apply to it. Can Al-Ahram Weekly explain this?
Sameh Rizq Sidhom
Centre for Agricultural Research
Permission to passSir- I have applied to the British consulate in Cairo for a visa to spend some time with my English wife in Britain. When they refused my application, we appealed to the Home Office in London, but the appeal was dismissed, although the adjudicator stated that all the requirements had been fulfilled. We married over a year ago, and are still not settled yet. Why is it impossible for us to spend time in both countries? Why am I being treated like a criminal? And why am I a victim of racism in my own country? I believe that I am not the only one.
To make a differenceSir- I was expecting that the National Women's Council would herald the transformation of women's status in Egypt. Even in comparison to other Arab countries, women here lag far behind. While it may be understandable that the average citizen cannot accept such "innovations" as women judges (at least not for the time being), I cannot believe that the government, which sets itself up as a pioneer in promoting women's rights, does not push through institutional changes capable of leading change. In this respect, it was astonishing to say the least that the NDP, after much sound and fury, presented the names of only a handful of women as candidates in the upcoming parliamentary elections. I believe that in order to bring about a true transformation it is necessary to impose certain realities on the people. If the ruling party had presented a list that gave voters a true choice between representative candidates, perhaps the voters would have had to stop and think about what they really wanted. While the reforms that the president has made are no doubt to be lauded, I wish the electoral landscape were not so drab. I dream of a day when elections will mean examining candidates' promises closely, and choosing the representatives of the Egyptian people on the basis of what they can really do. As it stands, this is little more than a token gesture to women's rights, a little cosmetic surgery that will last as long as the coats of paint on the buildings of the city centre. I cannot even describe it as affirmative action. How are these women candidates better qualified than those who did not make it onto the NDP lists?