By Shahira Amin* in Cairo
In recent days a series of controversial public service announcements aired on state-owned TV channels in Egypt, angering Egyptians and foreigners alike. The advertisements, which warn Egyptians against talking to foreigners “because they might be spies”, have been slammed for being “shallow” and inflammatory.
**”Air Marshal” Ahmed Shafiq. Mubarak’s last primer minister.
In one of the advertisements, a foreign man walks into a cafe and inconspicuously joins a group of young Egyptians at their table.
They go on to discuss Egypt’s current situation in front of the stranger — complaining about high prices, the gas shortage, and other social and economic problems plaguing the country.
They also tell the English-speaking stranger about a reported conspiracy against the army, which he immediately tweets to an unknown third party.
Sinister background music alerts viewers of an ominous threat, as the voiceover warns that “every word has a price” and that one word could “endanger a nation”.
In another advertisement, Egyptian job seekers are advised not to apply for jobs posted on job vacancy sites online.
“You never know who may use the information you post online and for what purpose”, cautions the advert.
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As the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip enters its sixth year, several UN agencies joined on 14 June a group of international charities in unanimously calling for the lifting of the blockade.
One of the few workers who has not been laid off at the Modern Industrial Group’s factory in Rafah, the Gaza Strip, which is suffering from Israel’s export ban Photo: IRIN/Andreas Hackl
“For over five years in Gaza, more than 1.6 million people have been under blockade in violation of international law. More than half of these people are children. We, the undersigned, say with one voice: ‘end the blockade now,’” the 50 organizations and agencies said in a joint statement, the United Nations reported.
“The government of Israel is facing mounting international criticism for the Gaza blockade and this unanimous statement from some of the most world’s most respected international organizations is likely to increase pressure for the blockade to be lifted,” they added.
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