Egypt 2011

As we get ready to enjoy Australia Day, or regret Invasion Day or whatever we’ll do today (I’m spending it with my wife’s extended family at her recently deceased grandma’s place.  Possibly the last time the entire family will gather there for a celebration.)

Lets spare a thought for the people of Egypt, inspired by the Tunisians and united by attacks on a minority religion.

This is about as live as it can get, from sometime in the last few hours in Tharir Square.

Apparantly the translation of the chant is:

“The people /want/ the regime to fall!”

Good luck people.

(Thanks to Alice – stay safe and seize the moment.)

Update:

Well it appears that the Egyptian Govt has blocked internet access for its citizens.  Thats not a good thing, and kind of reinforces the need for a more decentralised open source set up.  This sort of thing isn’t really gonna help them or their legitimacy – its more a sign of their desperation.

Update 2:

Gotta love wikileaks.  On Jan 28th they released that cable.

1. (C) Summary and comment:  Police brutality in Egypt

against common criminals is routine and pervasive. Contacts
describe the police using force to extract confessions from
criminals as a daily event, resulting from poor training and
understaffing. Brutality against Islamist detainees has
reportedly decreased overall, but security forces still
resort to torturing Muslim Brotherhood activists who are
deemed to pose a political threat.

Guardian live updates.

Yemen too?

Updates via we are all khaled said

update 3:

Well apparently Mubarak is on tv now in Egypt and has ordered the govt to resign so he can form a new one.  No he doesn’t appear to be standing down as president.  The military and protesters were at one point working together overnight to protect the national museum, but the NPD (Mubaraks party) HQ has been burned down.

So much for 95% support last election.

Last I checked the Al Jazeera english feed was down due to high demand/overload, a bit like the wiki cable.  Thanks to the RI crew for keeping track of what happened last nite while I slept.

Khaled Said you may yet see some justice.

The Arabist is apparantly arriving in Egypt soon/now/recently and the potential feed from Egypt will be here if it works).

PS  Still haven’t heard from Alice TK, an online friend/sparring partner who told us this was coming, especially after Said’s murder last year.  Alice I hope your family, friends and yourself are safe during this time.  Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Fight the power.

update 4:

The US Threatens to cut off aid to Egypt unless Security forces cut the violence.

That could be it for Mubarak then.

On Friday afternoon, the loose hacker group Anonymous began a campaign to fax thousands of copies of WikiLeaks’ latest missives–a series of State Department cables revealing human rights abuses under Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and tacit U.S. backing for his administration–to Egyptian numbers.

Cheers SLAD

Here is the Electronic Interfada article mentioned in the comments.

update 5 – interesting twitter feeds:

Proud Egyptian

Atef Said

Sultan Al Qassemi

Dan Nolan

update 6:

Well its a Sunday morning, this started 4 days ago, and I reckon its only a matter of time before Mubarak is gone.

Checking the twitter feeds this morning and it seems like something has given way, its one of those intangible things tho, could just be wishful thinking.

Right now the Egyptian people are organising Neighbourhood Watch type groups to protect private and public property from looting, they are organising checkpoints to check ID in places.  In other places vigilante groups have formed to protect against Mubarak’s plain clothed thugs.

From Sharif Kouddous:

neighborhood watches in Zamalek, Mohandeseen, Dokki & other areas of Cairo. Very organized w shifts, checkpoints

Neighborhood watch very organized w shifts, checkpoints. Men of all ages w sticks, metal pipes, some guns maintaining order

Some have formed makeshift barriers in Zamalek streets. Men armed with metal pipes check people, cars going through.

Walking in Zamalek. Feels like a scene from 28 Days Later. Empty. (Interesting observation – j)

That was from a few hours ago.  Latest from Sharif:

My dad’s helping organize citizen checkpoints in Zamalek. Rumor army’s coming soon to secure area but no sign yet

My uncle is spending night in Tahrir. Saw him there this afternoon w/ his standard accoutrements: Egyptian flag & megaphone

Tharir Square may be the keyMidan Tharir or Liberation Square, renamed after the 1952 revolution.  If the people can hold it there is no way they will be stopped.  Its one of those symbolic things, like saving St Pauls during the London Blitz.

Crowds and the Army together in Tharir Square (Photo by Ramy Raoof)

Found via Jillian C York at Global Voices.

Finally this translation of the revolutionary manifesto, thanks to The Cynical Arab – Roqayah Chamseddine.  (Her site has the original flyer too, check it out.)

During this critical time, while Mubarak is attempting to derail the Egyptians’ Revolution, we call on the National Coalition to stay firm on our demands:

1. Immediate resignation of Hosni Mubarak.
2. The creation of temporary National Gov’t comprised of the people who the Egyptians can trust. The former regime should be excluded from this Gov’t.

New Leadership Responsibilities:

– All political prisoners should be released.
– The accountability of the former regime in respect to policies towards: poverty and torture.
– Freedom to all Egyptians to form their own political factions without governmental interference.

Until all the above demands are met we call on all Egyptians to:

– Call for a general strike starting Sunday the 30th of January, 2011.
– Form a national group in all Egyptian communities to protect public welfare and to face anyone who tries to meddle and destroy our governmental (public) and privately owned properties.
– Do not give the previous regime (i.e Mubarak) and their cronies the opportunity to give a bad picture of this uprising and revolution.

Long Live The Egyptian Revolution

All freedom belongs to the Egyptians.

All sacrifice belongs to the homeland.

follow up Sunday arvo:

Sharif Kouddous’ blog at democracy Now

Meanwhile, across Cairo there is not a policeman in sight and there are reports of looting and violence. People worry that Mubarak is intentionally trying to create chaos to somehow convince people that he is needed. The strategy is failing. Residents have taken matters into their own hands, helping to direct traffic and forming armed neighborhood watches, complete with checkpoints and shift changes, in districts across the city.

This is the Egypt I arrived in today. Fearless and determined. It cannot go back to what it was. It will never be the same.

Its interesting that what appears to be happening there is the emergence of the “state” – of the roles the state provides, spontaneously from a united crowd in response to needs as they arise.  The protesters seem to have decided the govt under Mubarak is so illegitimate they will do what it should be doing themselves.

A bit like an “open source state” for lack of a better term.  Wow, thats really cool.

update 7 or 8 :

If you know anyone in Egypt pass this on:

If you know anyone in Egypt, please pass this on to them. To bypass government blocking of websites, use numerical IP addresses: Twitter ”128.242.240.52” Fb ”69.63.189.34” Google ”172.14.204.99”. A French ISP offers free dial up internet access ~ +33 1 72 89 01 50 Login password: toto. Please pass this on and share. (Cheers Helen at LP.)

update:

Judging by the twitter feeds above and various other online info things look like they might to get a bit nastier.  According to Dan Nolan from Al Jazeera (twitter above) his story from various morgues showing casualties had something to do with the shut down of the Al Jazeera reporting from Egypt.

Apparently judges have joined the public in Tharir sq and the tension is rising.  There are reports of jet  fighters over the city and troops in Sharm el-sheik – dunno how Israel feels about that, but Suilemann is on good terms with them apparently.

General Habib El Adly, (former I spose) interior minister, was arrested.  he has been accused of opening prisons and authorising the shooting of protesters by snipers.

There’s a 4 pm curfew on the streets for Sunday 30/1/11, so thats approximately 15 minutes ago as i’m typing and as yet no news.

This from we are all Khaled Said (above):

We are all Khaled Said Urgent situation now: In Tahreer square, there are more than 200 thousand people now including Judges, AlAzhar scholars, Opposition leaders (from all parties) from protesters are made up of women, children, men, young and old, Muslims, Christians & Athiests. Jetfighter planes are flying low in the square with helicopters as well. I’m really scared a massacre is about to happen!

But according to other sources no one is leaving.  Lets hope some sanity prevails cos nothing is gonna save this regime and a massacre in Tharir sq will be a disaster but it won’t save Mubarak.

Hillary Clinton is now claiming Mubarak has not met the Egyptian people’s demands and she wants a peaceful handover of power.

update (Monday 10 am AESDsT):

Hossamعمو حسام

No doubt you’ve been following him, here are some of the most interesting of his tweets.

Right now it seems everyone is scrambling to get a handle on whats happening, and to get some control.  The west appears paralyzed and unable to deal with the situation except through its normal reality tunnel (did I just use that term).

That tunnel is that these things are negotiated by the powerful and between the powerful and the “powerless” basically shut up and do what their betters say.

Thats why all this stuff about El Baradei and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Anyway here is some of what Hossman has said thats well worth repeating:

We need more protests abroad in front of Egyptian embassies. Pressure your govts to cut all sort of relations with the Mubarak regime.

The Popular Committees hold the seeds for what direct democracy could look like in the future. We need to focus on them instead of BARADIE!

The protests have spontaneous leaders in most of the occasions. We won’t let this upririsng to be hijacked by anybody.

It is not true what some MSM outlets r broadcasting about the Muslim Brotherhood and the 6th of April leading the protests. It’s complete BS

MB activists were denounced by protesters around Lazoughli yesterday when they tried to stop people from marching on interior ministry

WE DO NOT WANT THE ARMY! THE ARMY HAS BEEN RULING SINCE 1952. THEY R NOT NEUTRAL PLAYERS.

The shootings around Lazoughli and the snipers firing at protesters yesterday happened as the army sat and watch.

The army in Tahrir r useless pieces of shit. They r not “protecting” the demonstrators as they were claiming.

I managed to get internet access for few mins.. All MSM reports about looting, violence r EXAGGERATED! Protests r still going on strong.

My neighborhood Nasr City, my city Cairo and in all Egyptian towns, popular committees r being formed by citizens to provide security.

Possibly most inportant of all:

IT IS NOT TRUE WHAT MSM IS BROADCASTING ABOUT PROTESTERS CALLING ON BARADIE TO LEAD TRANSITIONAL GOVT!

Here’s his blog btw, tho its not that active at the moment.

Yet another update Monday (10 pmish):

Well for some reason it feels like something may happen between now and sunrise Australian time.  I hope not, but Hossam doesn’t trust the military and his latest tweets convey a sense of something.  It’d be hard not to be paranoid with tanks on the street, cops creeping back and a torturer and murderer as “Vice president”, but thewre seems reason for unease.

This is the most important stuff he’s been tweeting.

The workers at El-Ta3awon Printing House and Ghazl Meit Ghamr (textile) have kicked out their CEOs, and are now self managing the factories.

I will repeat what I said yesterday: The reports about looting and security chaos r VERY MUCH exaggerated by Egyptian govt, BBC, Al-Jazeera.

This happened as army soldiers were present. The army and the police are collaborating now. Still, army hasn’t fired any shots yet.

More protests r scheduled today in Alexandria, Mahalla and other cities. Thousands of protesters r now in Tahrir already. Numbers will swell

More army tanks r on the streets. Heliocopters r still flying the air over Cairo.

Tahrir Square protesters say they plan to march Friday to the presidential palace in Heliopolis unless the army makes its stance clear.

Youth-led groups issued a statement calling for all Egyptians to march on the palace, the People’s Assembly and the television building, in what they are calling the “Friday of Departure.”

Sultan Al Qassemi reckons that police vans have been running over protesters, and has photos here.

What I want? Fuck liberal democracy where u vote rich bastards into the parliament every 5 years. WE WANT DIRECT DEMOCRACY!

Thats Hossam again, and apparently the unions are starting to get organised.  A general strike and million person march for tomorrow.

To many dead so far and no sign of anything breaking yet, but it’ll take a civil war to keep Mubarak, and I doubt anyone wants his latest appointments either.

Hang in there people of Egypt.

update Tuesday morning (Australian EDST):

Google not being evil (for a change).  International phone nos where anyone can tweet under #egypt.

+16504194196

+390662207294

+97316199855

Leave a message on voice mail and it’ll be instantly tweeted.  If anyone can get those numbers to people in Egypt please do.

After the tension of last night things seem to have mellowed a bit.  Tho last night (Aust’n time) there were reports of police vans running over protesters and of soldiers in civvies having “spontaneous” pro Mubarak protests.  The march is scheduled for this morning Egypt time, so in about 7 hours the march should start.  If things are gonna come to a head thats probably when – at about 6pm NSW time.

Here’s a message from Tharir Square, and another one.

update:

Wael Ghonim, Google’s head of marketing for the Middle East and North Africa has been missing since Fridays demo.

Today this screenshot of him being arrested turned up.

Darryl Mason – one of the few Australian commentators with a clue.

Update Tuesday 8pm (AEDST):

Dan Nolan, after being detained for a few hours by the Egyptian security forces.

10.30am crowds in Tahrir Sq already the size they were at peak last nite! Imagine how big in few hours?!?! Could be an historic day 4 #Egypt

I’ll be in Tahrir sq today. Huge crowds already there carrying boxes of water to settle in. Everyone buoyed by news army will not stop them!

Ok i’m back on the airwaves, pretty hairy day yest! Soldiers seized cameras,laptops,phones. Now got a nokia circ 1995 but its workin #egypt

The tweeting from Egypt seems to indicate that today is the day.  It seems the crowd in Tharir sq is huge already, and it looks like the march to the palace will have no real trouble.  You can never tell I spose but I think this will be a big day in Egypt’s history.

It is unlikely that the protesters will be able to march to the palace in Heliopolis due to distance as well as the Army & dreaded police.

Thats Sultan Al Quassemi

I guess we’ll all know soon enough.

Here’s the live blog from Al Jazeera (Dot Net) English.

Latest word from Sharif  Kouddous is that Tharir sq has more people than he’s ever seen before.  The crowd has been singing”Hey hey Hosni is leaving tonight”.   He just interviewed Hossam el-Hamalawy 3arabawy.

Hossam says the final decision after much discussion is to stay in the square and not march on Mubarak today.

Apparantly people are turning up at the Square (Tahrir btw, I’ve probably been spelling it wrong,) with their kids!  Probably cos people sense this is going to be one of those fundamental days where the world (at least for Egyptians) is never the same again.

update Wed (9AM AEDST):

Well depending on who you listen to there were between 2 and 5 million people in Tahrir overnight, and none of them were all that happy with Mubarak’s speech.

Mubarak is trying to hang in there, saying he won’t run in the next elections (due Nov I think) and that he will meet with protest leaders to address their concerns.  How does he not realise their main concern is him!!!  This man is stubborn beyond belief – tho I guess thats what it takes to be a military dictator.

Meanwhile in Tahrir people are organising rubbish collection and recycling, medical clinics and food and water distribution.  Proving their own legitimacy ion the process.  It seems like they are there till Mubarak goes too, there is street theatre, more political art than Sharif Kouddous has ever seen in his life and apparently they are even organising a footy, well soccer, tournament in the square.

The game is now one of momentum.  If the protesters can keep it going, and it looks like they will cos its only really been a week and this is the biggest yet, then Mubarak is toast.  If he can somehow hang around while they do their thing … but even then I can’t see him staying.

The overwhelming sense I get from the last 24 hours is that Egyptians have tasted freedom and they love it.

Oh here’s Sharif’s interview on democracy Now:

Latest:

Reports of thugs firing on protesters in Alexandria, and other reports of gunfire now coming in.

Latest (from Port_Sa3eedy/Proud Egyptian) seems to be that the army is firing in the air to warn off thugs (probably Mubarak’s) who were threatening protesters.

Also confirmation that Habib Al Adly, the interior minister who is alleged to have ordered snipers to fire on protesters will referred to a mil prosecutor.

Update Wed 4pm AEDST:

  • It is 02:00 am now in Egypt
  • I have just talked to the people in the streets
  • The Mubarak speech caused a strong case of depression
  • In Tahrir & Alexandria thugs are everywhere trying to harass the people to push them to go home
  • Activists expect that the upcoming 48 hours are going to be critical
  • The regime is breaking down, and is desperate, they might try anything
  • Violence is expected to erupt
  • We need more media pressure
  • We need more lobbying on Egyptian embassies around the world
  • NDP is spreading rumors that the people are being kidnapped by protesters
  • NDP is spreading rumors that the army is on its side
  • There has been several incidents where NDP thugs were shooting at people
  • I ask everyone outside Egypt to be the voice of the people in Egypt
  • We are afraid, we fear violence for the next 48 hours because the regime is not happy that it is falling apart
  • We are asking the international community to intervene and do something
  • United states said it does not supporting Mubarak anymore, but at the same time they are not helping us or protecting us or supporting our cause
  • We need a strong solidarity stand form the European parliament & all MPs of the EU

From someone on the street in Egypt.

update post midnight Thursday morning:

It seems as if things have come to a head, not just in Egypt.  About 1000 miles nw of here right now Category 5 Cyclone Yasi is starting to hammer far North Queensland.  They are expecting winds of 290km hr and gusts well over 300km.  9m tidal surges are expected.  This is the biggest cyclone to hit Australia in the last 100 years (at least).  Good luck to everyone up there, stay safe and remember we’re all thinking of and praying for you.

At pretty much the same time, after reports of pro mubarak protesters attacking anti govt groups and sites of national significance over the last 24 hours, possibly more than 10, 000 pro Mubarak protesters have converged on Tahrir sq.  There are running battles and people getting hurt and injured.

This is after claims of over 300 dead and 500 unaccounted for so far, including possibly the Google Marketing exec mentioned above.  There are claims that these pro Mubarak protesters are security forces in civvies and govt employees being “conscripted” in some cases.

This is obviously an attempt to provoke violence and bring the army into play as an attempt to bring about “security and stability” – the buzzwords being used to describe maintaining the status quo.

I’d advise people to check the links above to follow events as they unfold, including Hossam 3arabawy’s blog which is active again.  There seems to be better coverage from mobile and internet at the moment.

Comments from twitter include accusations the bombing of the Coptic Church before Christmas being carried out by the same people organising these attacks on what was basically a peaceful protest.

3:22pmAl Jazeera reporting that more than 100 people have been injured in the past hour after suspected government supporters, including plain clothed policemen, entered Tahrir Square and attacked anti-Mubarak demonstrators.

3:20pm Al Jazeera web producer in Tahrir Square says at least two camera crews (neither from Al Jazeera) being chased by mobs yelling “Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera!”

3:17pm Al Jazeera correspondents in Tahrir Square says that the pro-government mob is chanting slogans against Al Jazeera and apparently trying to find them. Reports of at least one Al-Arabiya correspondent being stabbed.

It seems clear that Mubarak’s crew are trying to shut down information flow, of course that hasn’t worked, it seems word of mouth and pamphlets were faster than twitter at times in Egypt, and now we have the internet…

In fact if anything this crisis has probably driven a serious assessment of the vulnerability of info networks, esp govt/corporate partnerships (and non govt/corporate partnerships in response) in a crisis and how much control they can exert.  This comes on top of rumours that the Obama admin is pushing for the same internet “off” switch Mubarak tried to implement last week.

Anyway push was always gonna come to shove, unfortunately for Mubarak I think the Egyptian people are ready willing and prepared to push back hard.

Last week John Robb, of Global Guerrillas claimed that “open source insurgency” had “gone mainstream”, and events in the Middle East, especially Egypt seem to back that up.  Unfortunately neither Mubarak nor the West seem to realise that yet.

People in Egypt are subject to a regime that has tortured and killed its own citizens, locked people up for doing what I’m doing right now – blogging and they know they aren’t necessarily any more safe and secure at home with the status quo returned.  Especially after this.

Mubaraks first response was to appoint a torturer and murderer as VP and his speech the other night made it clear that the closest the Egyptian people were gonna get to home grown regime change was when he stepped down “in September”.  And that was about as far as it was gonna go.

Most people in Egypt, especially those that have come out on the street, probably feel that once they go home the round ups will start (again).  So why bother going home?  Better to die free and with dignity than tortured to death in some seedy cell somewhere.

Does anyone think that as soon as he can Mubarak won’t start rounding up leaders and anyone who can be identified and associated with the protest?

The cables wikileaks has released have shown just how reliant the US was on the regime for torture, and little it actually cared – it did nothing despite being aware of his brutality.  Well nothing cept arm Mubarak to the tune of billions over the years.

Hang in there Egyptians.  And don’t lose it at the pro Mubarak people.  Thats what he wants to happen.  (I think they’ve worked that out already tho.)

update Thurs 11 am AEDST:

A lot happened last night.  Thankfully Queensland seems to have fared well, much damage but not much in the way of casualties.  As of yet no deaths reported and no serious injuries.  Unlike Egypt.

Al Jazeera live blog for Feb 3rd here.

Last night thousands of Pro Mubarak supporters entered Tahrir sq and attacked the anti govt demonstrators.  The army stood by and did nothing, tho I’ve seen photos of army personnel in tears being embraced by anti govt protesters.  The protesters stood their ground and held back from engaging in the sort of brutal violence the Mubarak forces engaged in.

Amazing stories are coming out.  Mubaraks security forces retreated and have been pelting molotov cocktails at the protesters from beyonhd the square.  Apparantly vehicles resupplying them with the petrol bombs.  One story of a Regime member throwing a Molotov ata a crowd and fucking up, dousing himsel with burning petrol.  The crowd apparently left cover to put out the fire and give the guy medical aid.

More disturbing are the reports from Evan Hill, Dan Nolan, Sharif Kouddous and Ben Wedeman and others concerning the threats against international journalists.  Last night in the crowd the Mubarak forces targetted Al Jazeera particularly, this on top of theit detaining by security forces earlier in the uprising.  This is particularly worrying:

My colleague just spotted our hotel security using laser pointer to indicate rooms from street. Ominous development.

Spoken to reporters and photographers beaten and robbed all day

People are worried that a massacre will begin sometime in the next few hours, but they can’t really stop cos once they leave the streets the secret police can come for them.  This Human Rights Watch report might be interesting in that light.

Oops, forgot to press “update”.

Its obviously clear that journos are exposing the Mubarak regimes brutality and they will definitely be targeted if something bloody is on the cards.

Gillard (Aust’n PM) has come out and said its time for transition in Egypt now, and the Egyptian people should decide who gets to form the next govt.  Effectively she said its time for Mubarak to go.  (Tho she could have been more forceful about it.  Then again with Yasi still smashing communities in FNQ she may have other things on her mind.

One thing that interesting, especially wrt to the wikileaks discussion here, is the role of corporates in all this.  Egyptian ISPs bowed to Mubaraks decision to cut internet access last we and some international groups (like Vodaphone Egypt) have supported the regime.  Others have aided the protesters, with Google and Twitter standing out.  Google may take this a little personally given the disappearence of one of their executives.

Wael Ghonim was photographed as he was bundled away by Mubarak’s security forces late last week.  A Google marketing exec, his family have reported harassment and abuse over the phone.

1:47 am Al Jazeera correspondent, reporting from just off Tahrir Square reports that dozens of Mubarak supporters have erected a barricades on either side of a road, trapping anti-government protesters. They are also gathering stones, breaking streetlights and putting on  balaclavas, covering their faces, apparently in preparation for a fresh standoff with anti-government protesters. Sources tell our correspondent that the men preparing for the standoff are police officers.

3:01 am Al Jazeera’s correspondent and Web producer report: Heavy police presence at the national museum, with anti-government protesters banging on metal railings and rocks raining down. Pro-Mubarak protesters have an “endless supply of molotov cocktails” that they’re tossing at the anti-government demonstrators.

from the Al Jazeera live blog linked earlier.

People are expecting serious attacks now, and there is some fear of a massacre.  Just heard Australian tourists on television complaining about shot at by the police.

update Thurs arvo (AEDST):

The sun is rising in Cairo now.

Last night was a full on battle, and the anti govt protesters held their ground against armed Mubarak thugs.  With no protection from the army, time and again the protesters resisted attacks by (allegedly paid) Mubarak security and supporters.  They resisted attacks with Molotov cocktails, and sniper fire from roofs.  The regime showed its true colours last night, and still it wasn’t enough.

If anything it will harden people’s resolve.

I just realised I haven’t yet linked to Al Jazeera live.

I suspect that in the years to come the new Egypt will look back on last night as one of the most pivotal moments in Egypt’s recent history.  If nothing else the lines have now been drawn.  The Mubarak Regime doesn’t give a shit how many ordinary Egyptians it hurts and how much chaos it brings, and the uprising will not budge.

Today will probably be more peaceful as the Regime’s supporters don’t seem to like showing their faces in daylight.  Tonight may see more of the same.

 

update 3pm Friday AEDST:

 

Sorry I bailed on all the excitement, but I’ve had a pretty wild 36 hrs myself.

 

THis post has run its course anyway.  On I/A Day no one in Australia seemed to have noticed, and now 10 days later thats no longer the case.

 

I think its in the next 6 to 8 hours that the Day of Departure starts.  That’ll be worth a separate post.

 

I’d like to end with the words of my online friend “Alice”, who I heard was ok, tho pretty spun out, earlier today.  If it wasn’t for her this post wouldn’t have been written.

 

I’m freaking out: there is now a complete blackout on live images from Tahrir Square. I shouldn’t be surprised, this morning the Egyptian state tv stations had broadcasters sneering about “Al Jazeera’s latest lies that there was gun-fire in Tahrir” (how would they know? Al Jazeera’s been shut down here). Then, by just switching to BBC Arabic or CNN, there it was, live coverage of Tahrir Square with unmistakable gunfire, molotov cocktails and rocks raining down on pro-democracy demonstrators’ heads.

All foreign news bureaus overlooking Tahrir Square have been shut down either by the army or the regime’s thugs and journalists’ cameras have been confiscated or broken. They don’t want anybody to see what they are doing.

Tomorrow’s demonstrations are supposed to be huge, all over Egypt. It’s being called “the Day of Departure”. I know people who are already downtown (it’s after midnight here) and others who are planning to go. They know what the regime has been doing and that it’s planning something terrible for tomorrow, but they’re going anyway.

Bloggers are being kidnapped, journalists are being beaten and peaceful demonstrators are being killed. A huge supermarket near where I live was set on fire today, shortly after my husband had left it this afternoon. Thugs have been set loose and invited to go on a rampage. I’ve seen Youtube videos of some of the thugs captured by pro-democracy demonstrators say that they were released from jail by officers from the Ministry of Interior and promised LE 5000 (a huge amount for them) if they could get rid of the protesters.

Looking at the “pro-Mubarak demonstrators”, it’s obvious that the Ministry of Interior has emptied out the worst shanty-towns and is using hardened “baltagis” — hired thugs with criminal records, police informants and police in civilian clothes. State tv keeps talking about how much money the Egyptian economy has lost and how many years it will take just to get back to where it was before January 25, in between old patriotic songs and wall-to-wall interviews with the new, smiling and friendly prime minister and the stern, scary vice president, both insisting that the demonstrators’ demands have all been met and they should go home before “these destructive demonstrations do irreparable damage to the nation we all love”. Wall-to-wall propaganda instead of news coverage, associating the demonstrations with chaos and loss and truly bizarre conspiracies contrasted with constant paternalistic appeals to security and stability and ‘normalcy’.

People are exhausted, anxious and running out of money. Many who lived from payday to payday are now out of work or unable to do their jobs. For many, especially in the middle class, the chance to build a new system based on freedom and democracy and civil rights doesn’t seem worth all this upheaval and insecurity.

If this revolution doesn’t succeed, I think that Egypt will witness an even more horrific wave of violent repression and revenge from Mubarak’s regime. They’ll do everything possible to make sure this can’t happen again. Next time, if there ever is a next time, peaceful demonstrations organized by smart young people won’t cut it — it will be the even worse nightmare of civil war, and the anti-regime forces will have to be hardened, armed warriors ready to kill and be killed. God forbid.

Never, in Egypt’s long history, ever, has a government treated its people so savagely. Mubarak can be proud that he has added to his record for unprecedented corruption this black stain on Egypt’s history with his name on it. I think he’s literally become insane.

 

Alice I hope you, your friends family and neighbours are safe, and that you win.  I wish I was there with you.

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~ by jules on January 26, 2011.

4 Responses to “Egypt 2011”

  1. Thanks for keeping things up to date.

    I get the sense that this will end badly either way.

    Few people want the Muslim Brotherhood and the US and Israel don’t want democracy. That leaves the average Egyptian stuck in the middle of a shit fight.

    The only certainty is that the power players in this saga will have learned nothing from history and the little guy will pay the price for that ignorance.

    Cheers

  2. I don’t think the Muslim Brotherhood has as much say in all this as they’d like.

    I did read something on Wednesday where the MB said their members would protest as Egyptians not members of the MB and that they weren’t involved officially. Now I’m not sure why, but one thing I sense is that this is something beyond religion. There was a bombing in a Coptic Church before the Coptic Christmas and the result of that was Muslims going to Christmas Mass as human shields to protect their fellow Christian Egyptians.

    I suspect Mohamed El Baradei may be the only acceptable choice for both the people of Egypt and the US/Israel coalition. Tho I dunno just how popular he will be in this situation. From what I can gather the main drivers of this unrest in the Middle East are corruption and lack of opportunities, both in Tunisia and Egypt. The issue doesn’t appear to be about ideology as much as about citizens getting a “fair go.”

    So I’m a bit more optimistic about all this unrest on that level.

    But the situation is chaotic and there is always potential for chaotic situations to go pear shaped.

    One thing thats interesting is the lack of a “colour” associated with this unrest. We’ve seen orange and green and purple and blue. Apparently the Tunisian uprising was sposed to be called the “Jasmine” one but it hasn’t taken off yet.

    This is an interesting take on the unrest across the ME:

    http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11741.shtml

    • I made a joke about the colour thing over at PP.
      There’s no colour because the spin doctors were caught by surprise.
      This revolution is definately not astro-turfed, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be hijacked and turned to somebody’s advantage.

      Meanwhile, what’s happening in Tunisia?

      Cheers

  3. Marek that hijacking seems to be underway at the moment with the choice of El Baradei to represent the opposition groups.

    Consistantly the info from Egyptians seems to suggest that El Baradei is being pushed by international interests and media. I’m updating in a minute to reflect that.

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