A dark and disturbing future for Egypt?

4 02 2011

The BBC have published a challenging insight into events in Egypt and the way Mubarak has played his cards.  It concludes:

Mr Mubarak is effectively ‘kettling’ an entire country. Over a fifth of the country lives below the poverty line. They cannot protest indefinitely and, unlike the president, they must return to work.

In the meantime – with two out of three constituencies secure – Mr Mubarak can play a waiting game.

This forces the protesters to endure a harsh status quo or escalate by targeting the bastions of the state, the latter bringing upon them the wrath of an already petrified international community, who may feel it has done its job by putting a limit on Mr Mubarak’s term.

Those agitating for escalation ought to recall the anti-Saddam uprisings of 1991 by Kurds and others, in which the US first encouraged and then shied away from supporting resistance.

The result was massacres under the eyes of the international community.

It’s definitely worth a read.

Kicked out of a demonstration in Torronto for highlighting women’s issues

4 02 2011

While Egyptians have been defying their government by taking to the streets for over a week now, a demonstrators gathering in solidarity held in Toronto, Canada has shown their commitment to progress by reportedly kicking out a woman raising awareness of women’s issues in Egypt.

Reddit user eatenplacenta posted the following,

I made a sign about female genital mutilation and violence against women and people started getting in my face and yelling at me about how my message had no connection to the protest (although it was a protest about oppression in Egypt and the need for better human rights) and that FGM doesn’t exist anymore in Egypt. Men and women were trying to push me away and someone broke my sign. Then someone else complained about me to the director of the protest and he told me that if I didn’t take down my sign, he would kick me out of the protest and I asked him why and his response was “today isn’t about women.” There was an area for the fucking Iraqi Communist Party but to bring up a women’s rights issue was bad enough to piss off a lot of people and get kicked out. Women have been completely marginalized in this revolution. It was disheartening and only proved that the fact that I needed to be there because it was so controversial.

This was the sign.

The Egyptian uprising, by most accounts I’ve read at least, has united people from all corners of Egypt to stand opposed to Mubarak and the thugs which have spent the last few nights attacking pro-democracy supporters.

Gatherings of people within Tahrir Square have enabled people to interact who would never have had the opportunity to do so only months before while allowing political messages to be discussed.

A woman calling who called into the @Jan25 Voices twitter feed described the protests in Tahrir square as classless and genderless.

Before this, a video began circulating on the internet of a young woman leading protesters in a chant against security forces as they stood only a metre away behind a fence.

A feature by Al Jazeera tells details of a night spent skirmishing with pro-government supporters in and around Tahrir square.

The closer I got, the more frenetic the activity among the anti-government protesters.

Men and women hustled up huge bags of rocks. Another group dragged a metal barricade into a new backup position.

The source of the cacophony that had been echoing off Cairo’s streets and through our window was revealed: protesters behind the lines were rhythmically banging on the metal pavement fences in a primal drumbeat to keep the crowd’s spirits up.

All accounts point to women being involved on the front lines in the uprising.

Not being Egyptian and not being in Egypt, I cannot give any detailed description about what is being discussed by protesters on the street, or whether they will be discussed over the next weeks.

However, from the reports coming out of Egypt out over the last few days, protesters have clearly been dealing with the very immediate threats posed by the Egyptian police, and that posed by violent thugs supporting the regime.

Given the circumstances, it is unlikely that those on the streets have given much thought to anything other the immediate future, food, sleep and how to respond to the antagonists of the regime.

The men and women of Egypt have shown exceptional courage in standing up to Egyptian authority’s and their supporters, after all, there is a lot at stake.

If Mubarak wins, and some are suggesting that he already has, there will be a crack down.  Not only will the people in the street face repression, but, no doubt, their family’s will suffer a similar fate.

That fate will not be pleasant as the Egyptian police and prosecutors are known to torture those they have arrested.

Already organisers of the protests have been arrested as well as a notable Egyptian blogger who reportedly has managed to escape custody to go “on the run”.

It may be possible that those in Toronto misinterpreted eatenplacenta’s motives for appearing at the demonstration with the sign, given the propensity for those inciting Islamophobia to cite Female Genital Mutilation as a key reason why “all Arabs are evil”.

But ignorance is no defence.

Ejecting eatenplacenta for attempting to highlight a serious issue relating to women in Egypt betrays the spirit of the uprising itself given the role women  have played so far and the relatively egalitarian environment it has created.

Repeatedly, protesters have stated that they are fighting to create the potential for dialogue to take place without fear of reprisals.

Given that the people of liberal Toronto, Canada are not facing an immediate, day-to-day threat to their safety either from the regime or the regime’s supporters for speaking out, it is a place where discussion of issues such as Female Genital Mutilation can, should and must take place.

So long as one girl suffers, the discussion and action on the issue must take place and raising these issues, where ever possible is necessary to ensure the discussion continues.

Any act which silences that discussion runs contrary to the stated goals and aspirations which the Egyptian people are fighting and dying for.

To what extent the Egyptians engage with these issues when they are not fighting for their lives will define what is currently taking place within Egypt.

Perhaps it will be a distinguishing feature between a mere uprising and the beginnings of a real revolution.


4 02 2011

To be honest, I want to tell you something. I am unemployed, and I have a relative who works with the police who offered me money to join the pro-. Frankly, I took the money and went and I know that they are all or those who are benefitting from the Party, and who want the regime to stay in power. I want to let you in on the secret: they are to police or to soldiers and asking them to demonstrate for , and to bring anyone else they know so that it appears that has lots of supporters. To be honest, I am ashamed of myself, and I feel that this a huge of the . I took the money and went with them and demonstrated with them and I was not proud of myself. I support the Egyptian people, and willing the Egyptian people will be victorious. This is a huge by those who are weak-spirited, but the police and the army are forced to obey orders. In the end, will come to your aid, Egypt. Peace be upon you.

another person says

I just wanna say that these called Pro-Mubarak demonstrators they are paid thugs. The country will not fall in civil war if Mubarak goes; because there won’t be anyone to pay them to go out. They are paid and they are plain clothes police, and they are armed, and they are protesting against . Where is the police? Where is the police to protect the people? This is a collaboration between the police and the regime that obviously does not want to give up. Please pray for us in Egypt!

Source: Alive in Egypt (1) (2)

Regarding the first account, two people have left comments raising issues regarding the accent of the man in the phone conversation and the area code given for the phone call.  Others have responded to these by saying that the accent belongs to a rural Egyptian and the area code is a result of having international phone calls relayed through California, a tactic employed to get news out from on-the-ground while internet communications had been shut off.

If you want to support the Egyptian people and can speak two languages, consider getting involved by helping out with translation.


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