Author Archives: Masha Egupova

About Masha Egupova

I am coming from the small city on the Russian Far East called Vladivostok, but Chinese call it 海參崴 [Hǎishēnwǎi] meaning "Sea Cucumber Cliffs." In my blog I will present the view from and about Vladivostok and my views on what is going on in Russia in general.

Harlem Shake Egyptian Style

Harlem Shake in Egypt

Harlem Shake in Egypt

I am sure a lot of people have already seen various versions of the Harlem Shake. The video went viral and some people tried to imitate the same dance style in their countries. Egypt is not an exception. Various activists jumped on the bandwagon of fame in their attempt to create their version of “Harlem Shakes” made in Egypt.

Below you will find one of the Harlem Shakes performed in front of the pyramids in Giza. Local security guards tried to stop the performance, but they failed miserably.

After several videos were uploaded, some people got arrested for public display of nudity. CBN News reports the following:

CAIRO – Egyptian police said Saturday they have arrested four students who filmed themselves publicly dancing in their underwear, as more people around the world emulate a viral dance craze called the “Harlem Shake.”

The four pharmaceutical students shocked residents of a middle class Cairo neighborhood when they removed most of their clothes and videotaped themselves performing the pelvis-thrusting dance, a police official said.

The response of the authorities is not only ridiculous, but is also very hypocritical. They should start arresting all the female tourists who come to see the pyramids in their tank tops and skimpy shorts. If this type of clothing is unacceptable in the city, then everyone should follow the same rules. And maybe they should also ban all the bikinis on the Red Sea resorts.
As a response some activists decided to organize another Harlem Shake in front of the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters on February 28, 2013. Almost 1500 clicked “going” on their Facebook page [arabic]. It might be a success and it might be a disaster. The time will show.


Endless Sexual Harassment in Cairo


It is not a secret that the level of sexual harassment in Egypt has skyrocketed after the revolution. Some people still pretend that it does not happen and claim that it is a normal practice that happens everywhere in the world. Well this faulty argument still does not make it OK.

Today I got harassed by a bunch of school girls on the streets of Cairo. It is incredibly frustrating and sad that women harass other women, hence tolerate this kind of behavior in their own country. The girls were passing by when I was sitting in the car with an open window. They saw me and started cat-calling. One of them even touched me. I simply looked different, that’s why they felt entitled to harass me.

The society does not see anything wrong with this kind of behavior. A lot of men believe that women enjoy cat-calling and groping. They consider it a nice gesture. I once was on the plain with two Egyptian guys who truly believed that women secretly enjoy being harassed.

In spite of all this madness a lot of people try tackling the issue. A lot of women get harassed on the famous Tahrir Square. As the government does not do anything about it, different activists decided to take a stand. Some volunteers organized self-defense trainings for women.

Tahrir  Bodyguard

“Women have the right to protest in the square and we are here to protect them and help them protect themselves,” representatives of Tahrir Bodyguard say.

The group’s latest initiative involves helping women to protect themselves, not only on Tahrir Square, but all over Cairo. Through Tahrir Bodyguard’s volunteers, a group of self-defense instructors and the Samia Allouba Gym and Fitness Center, women all over Cairo will have the opportunity to learn self-defense moves and techniques.

These kinds of initiatives encourage women to fight back and end the impunity of this male-dominated society. Who knows, maybe things will change soon.

Source: Egypt Independent 

Cairo: homophobs or metrosexuals?


Egyptian society is multilayered and diverse just like any other society in the world. Yet there are a lot of things I find hard to understand. I cannot understand how such a homophobic society can have such high numbers of men openly expressing their feelings towards each other?

While it is considered illegal to kiss in public, holding hands is fine. You cannot see that many couples holding hands, but you see a lot of young men holding hands.

Men walking hand in hand Cairo By Downtown Traveler

Men walking hand in hand Cairo By Downtown Traveler

And here is another picture:

Two Egyptian men walk past a polling station in Cairo. The Hindu

Two Egyptian men walk past a polling station in Cairo. The Hindu

My friend and I once went to a house party in Cairo. It was a hot evening on a balcony with a lot of tea, coffee and hash. People were relaxed and rather happy. Two guys were standing at a corner talking. One of them was sitting on top of the balcony’s railings with his legs spread, the other guy was standing in front of him touching his shoulders in a very intimate way. It was such an intimate moment for them that I thought they were lovers and everyone seemed fine with that. No one gave them angry or judgmental looks. So I thought “Wow those people are so accepting.” Later on I shared my observations with a friend who rejected my suspicion. Apparently this kind of behavior is common among the straight men here. Well, I still find it hard to believe…

Also men walk around wearing pink shiny glittery t-shirts. Imagine any, let’s say, American here: he would definitely think that all these men are gays. Unfortunately they are not …most likely  they are homophobic. They probably have no clue how gay they might appear to some people …

Bridget Jones scenario in Cairo


Some strange things happen to me in Egypt.

Yesterday I went shopping and on my way back home I received a call from my boyfriend asking for a lease contract for my flat. Hmmmm.

–   Why do you need it? – I asked

–    The policemen are here and they are asking for it – was his response.

When you hear something like that you start panicking – no matter that you know you did no bad. Thousands of thoughts in my head: I have no work permit, they got my address from the paper I filled in when I crossed the border; they found my blog (I know this one is ridiculous); I live with a boyfriend in a Muslim country where it is a sin.  So I was going crazy in a cab and tried calling my boyfriend to find out what really happened there. He was not picking up for obvious reasons as he was busy.

Then I started thinking that I should not go home until everything is fine there. I’ve heard some nasty stories about Egyptian jail, and trust me, Russian jail would seem a paradise compared to it. So I had no intentions of going there.

I called my boss, just to let him know about the situation. He said everything should be fine.

I had the worst half an hour in my lifetime in Egypt.

Ten minutes later my boyfriend called and said that everything was fine. Apparently the policemen were looking for my landlord. They came to ask where he was and why he was not paying any taxes on income he gets from renting out this flat. Hmmmmmmm

So my boyfriend called the landlord who was in Paris at that particular moment. The policemen spoke to him for 10 minutes discussing something. My landlord asked to give them 300 Egyptian pounds (approximately $50). After they got the money they left.

Probably they came in looking for a bribe – you never know.

And here is a funny picture of a policeman by the Pyramids

Tourism Police by By Ed Yourdon

Tourism Police by By Ed Yourdon

Cairo: Randomness

Egypt sunset by apdk on Flickr

Egypt sunset by apdk on Flickr

I guess I realized why I don’t want to live in Egypt any longer: it reminds me of Russia. The level of absurd and bureaucratic nonsense is beyond any limits. I am going to Russia this Friday and I am already terrified by this idea. I left Russia for the above reason, and here I am, in Egypt: another country of absurd.

The difference between Egypt and Russia is not that huge: people in Egypt are much friendlier and I can solve pretty much everything just by raising my voice a little bit. This technique does not work in Russia. Many times I had to yell at people working in Client Relations/Services and it did not help. Rude waiters and border control people are already waiting for me. Soon enough I will see them all again.

On another note:

Egyptians turned out to be very creative. Some activists built up a web site dedicated to Mohammed Morsi’s activities: what he promised to be done in 100 days. This Morsimeter shows that nothing has been done so far: 0 out of 64 promises, while time is running fast: it’s been 18 days out of 100. So far Morsi is not doing well. Hopefully things will be changed soon, but you never know …

Someone finally decided to speak out loud about sexual harassment in Egypt. This country has the worst situation with sexual harassment. One of the art spaces in Cairo has organized an exhibition highlighting the issue.

“Through the group exhibition and month-long program of performances and concerts, they hope to raise awareness about the topic, hoping that it “will make other people speak about it, as it remains a taboo,” says “Enough” organizer Reem Hatem.”

Well, the problem with this statement is that only middle-class individuals go to such events, while harassers normally come from the poor neighborhoods, they are not really educated and have no clue that women might actually hate their sleazy comments. Tackling this group of people is a difficult mission.

Certain individuals got bored from the government not taking care of essential things and decided to take an action. Cairo is known for its trash: it is simply everywhere. Don’t listen to people saying it is better in some areas than others; it is NOT, unless you live in a private compound. Trash piles up and no one really cares about it; people keep throwing trash from their car windows and while walking down the streets.

Tech-consumerism is growing here. A lot of people I know keep buying and upgrading their TVs, phones, and computers. But where does this e-waste go? Right, to the streets

“To counter this, two e-waste management initiatives have developed over the past year and a half — RecycloBekia and Ecycle. They hope to create awareness, collect e-waste, and seek ways to properly manage it.”

RecycloBekia, started by a group of Tanta University engineering students in March 2011, is the larger of the two.

“We used computers a lot and, looking around at our surroundings, we realized that it was a crucial issue that nobody else in the whole country seemed to be addressing or even aware about,” says Mohamed Sehsah, RecycloBekia’s media manager.

He says that 50 people now work in the company. The team began its work by networking and collecting e-waste personally, by hand — from individuals, companies and garbage dumps — and has collected tens of thousands of computers and old electronics. This amounts to tons of e-waste.

So there is some hope in the end of the tunnel!

Egypt Independent: Police raid flats in Giza, searching for illegal aliens


Before you start reading this piece that I copied form on of the Egyptian newspapers I would like to draw your attention to the language: aliens. So now all the foreigners are aliens to the Egyptian authorities. To be precise they encourage hatred towards Palestinians and Syrians.

The passage about weed and $900 is ridiculous. First of all, everyone smokes hashish or weed in Egypt, so it is not a surprise that these people had it. And second of all, $900 is not a fortune and people have a right to have money.

so here is this masterpiece:

Photographed by Al-Masry Al-Youm Staff

Photographed by Al-Masry Al-Youm Staff

The National Security Agency raided a number of rented flats in Giza Thursday after it claimed to have received information on Jordanians and Palestinians that infiltrated Egypt to create chaos.

National Security Agency officers and criminal police officers inspected 167 rented flats inhabited by 281 people, including 31 Palestinians and Jordanians.

The crackdown started Thursday at dawn and led to the arrest of 25-year–old Palestinian student Ibrahim M.Z., living in the Talebiya neighborhood; 22-year-old student Mostafa A.; 24-year-old student Mohamed S.; 19-year-old model Rehab A.; 19-year-old model Shaimaa M. and16-year-old model Hasnaa A.

The police said that Ibrahim M.Z. was running a prostitution ring out of the flat, and added that three pieces of cannabis were discovered in the flat along with US$900, a sound pistol and 20 sound bullets. They added that the Palestinian student did not have a residency permit.

Brigadier Essam Saad, head of Cairo’s Criminal Investigations Department, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the police are carrying out a nationwide crackdown against illegal aliens and criminal activity. He added that rumors regarding the arresting of foreigners who came to Egypt to carry out sabotage plans are totally untrue.

Saad said that typically, 99 percent of those caught in these crackdowns are released. He noted that talk about arresting foreigners could negatively affect tourism.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

This article was taken from here.

New Egyptian reality


The new addendum to the 30 March, 2011 military-authored Constitutional Declaration was released late Sunday by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) in the official state gazette, which publishes any new constitutional or legislative documents when they are issued.
The following amendments will apply immediately:

Article 30: In situation that parliament is dissolved the president will be vowed into office in front of High Constitutional Court’s General Assembly.

Article 53: The incumbent SCAF members are responsible for deciding on all issues related to the armed forces including appointing its leaders and extending the terms in office of the aforesaid leaders. The current head of the SCAF is to act as commander-in-chief of the armed forces and minister of defense until a new constitution is drafted.

Article 53/1: The president can only declare war after the approval of the SCAF.

Article 53/2: If the country faces internal unrest which requires the intervention of the armed forces, the president can issue a decision to commission the armed forces – with the approval of the SCAF – to maintain security and defend public properties. Current Egyptian law stipulates the powers of the armed forces and its authorities in cases where the military can use force, arrest or detain.

Article 56 B: The SCAF will assume the authorities set out in sub-article 1 of Article 56 as written in the 30 March 2011 Constitutional Declaration until a new parliament is elected.

Article 60 B: If the constituent assembly encounters an obstacle that would prevent it from completing its work, the SCAF within a week will form a new constituent assembly- to author a new constitution within three months from the day of the new assembly’s formation. The newly drafted constitution will be put forward after 15 days of the day it is completed, for approval by the people through a national referendum. The parliamentary elections will take place one month from the day the new constitution is approved by the national referendum.

Article 60 B1: If the president, the head of SCAF, the prime minister, the Supreme Council of the Judiciary or a fifth of the constituent assembly find that the new constitution contains an article or more which conflict with the revolution’s goals and its main principles or which conflict with any principal agreed upon in all of Egypt’s former constitutions, any of the aforementioned bodies may demand that the constituent assembly revises this specific article within 15 days. Should the constituent assembly object to revising the contentious article, the article will be referred to the High Constitutional Court (HCC) which will then be obliged to give its verdict within seven days. The HCC’s decision is final and will be published in the official gazette within three days from the date of issuance.

Article 38 of the 30 March, 2011 Constitutional Declaration will be replaced with: “The parliamentary elections will be conducted in accordance to the law.”

Disclaimer: This is not an official judicial translation

Taken from here.

So, after all, it does not really matter who the president is…