Saturday, February 5, 2011

the emotional rollercoaster of the Egyptian uprising

Those thugs are nothing but the ugliest face of poverty.. Hunger makes humans lose humanity itself. Blind & cruel they become. #jan25 #egyptby Dima_Khatib via twitter at 2/2/2011 11:06:39 PM6:06 PM

Watching on the Internet and on TV the Egyptian uprising and the repressive government and pro-Mubarak forces who are trying to destroy the people's demand for regime change has been such a roller-coaster of emotions for me. At times it is simply horrifying and terrifying to watch (e.g. the photo above of the camel trampling a cameraman, the diplomatic van driving over people, the dead bodies of protesters lying under bloody white sheets in the morgue, among many, many others).

Other times I feel elation and joy knowing that, as Al-Alam writes (see link towards the end of this post), "True to their promise the pro-democracy groups drew a remarkable eight million people (ten percent of the population) throughout Egypt on [Tuesday, Feb. 1]."

Then again, sometimes I shake my head in disbelief over digesting what some, who are as out of touch with the masses as Mubarak, say; such as Italy's own corrupt head of state Berlisconi stating he supports Mubarak as Mubarak is considered in the West -- particularly the US -- as the wisest of men!
Also, the juxtaposition of all the contradictions that exist in Egypt keep appearing unexpectedly, stunning me in their exposure of complexities, such as this Reuters photo above that shows army tanks in Tahrir Square, a small group of men praying (some using old newspapers as their prayer mats), people demonstrating, and garbage piling in the street. It has also been reported that many Egyptians have been cleaning the streets and getting rid of the ubiquitous garbage. This morning watching AJE, I saw a clip of a slim well-dressed fashionable young man going up to a bank machine in Cairo trying to access his money. I was stunned; the image could have been in any city. It looked like this well-groomed guy with his immaculately manicured hands was completely undisturbed and unconcerned with what has been going on in Cairo, in Tahrir Square where many men, who have not even had a chance to shave since Jan. 25, joke that they are all starting to look like they are of the Muslim Brotherhood.
An opposition supporter makes the victory sign while resting near Tahrir Square in Cairo, February 5, 2011. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

I couldn't help thinking of the contradiction: the hands that are active in Tahrir Square are such a contrast to the manicured hands of the well-to-do man looking for money.
@LaurenBohn tweets: In #Tahrir: one of my fav posters thus far (fyi the art has been amazing) -- #Egypt personified as bride, pulled by both #Mubarak and people. #Cairo #Jan25

I have also been fascinated with the street art and the slogans that have been appearing in the signs that the anti-government demonstrators have been making and carrying. The sign above shows Egypt as a bride being torn in two directions: Mubarak on one hand, and the masses of people on the other hand.
photo Guardian UK Egyptian Protesters Makeshift Helmets

And yet other times I have even laughed out loud because of the sheer absurdity -- but so necessary and practical -- of the makeshift tools, like improvised helmets made of kitchen pots and discarded disposable water bottles, and shields made of traffic signs and grills, that evoke an almost medieval-like sense that those fighting the government have had to take up to continue their battle. I saw the man above being interviewed on AJE. He said he was returning to Tahrir Square to continue demonstrating against Mubarak so his neighbour gave him this cooking pot to protect his head.

And, Egyptians being Egyptians, their non-stop biting humour continues even amidst the exhaustion and struggle. I read a joke online that goes something like this:

"One of Mubarak's speech writers runs into Mubarak's office and tells him: 'You have to say good bye to the people!'

Mubarak looks up and asks, 'Why? Are they all leaving Egypt?'"

image from Mubarak's Dictatorship Must End Now.

Below are a few excerpts from Esam al-Amin's article "Mubarak's Last Gasps." The article discusses many critical points about how Mubarak's regime is implicated in the violence against the pro-democracy protesters in Tahrir Square. In these excerpts Al-Amin talks about who some of the mob of the pro-Mubarak people who stormed Tahrir Square on Wed. Feb. 2nd.


There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen.” --V. I. Lenin (1870-1924) “Victory is accomplished through the perseverance of the last hour.” --Prophet Muhammad (570-632 AD)

"Meanwhile, the last touches of a crude plan to abort the protests and attack the demonstrators were being finalized in the Interior Ministry. In the mean time, the leaders of the NPD met with the committee of forty, which is a committee of corrupt oligarchs and tycoons, who have taken over major sections of Egypt’s economy in the last decade and are close associates to Jamal Mubarak, the president’s son. The committee included Ahmad Ezz, Ibrahim Kamel, Mohamad Abu el-Enein, Magdy Ashour and others.

Each businessman pledged to recruit as many people from their businesses and industries as well as mobsters and hoodlums known as Baltagies – people who are paid to fight and cause chaos and terror. Abu el-Enein and Kamel pledged to finance the whole operation.Meanwhile,the Interior Minister reconstituted some of the most notorious officers of his secret police to join the counter-revolutionary demonstrators slated for Wednesday, with a specific plan of attack the pro-democracy protesters.

About a dozen security officers, who were to supervise the plan in the field, also recruited former dangerous ex-prisoners who escaped the prison last Saturday, promising them money and presidential pardons against their convictions. This plan was to be executed in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez, Port Said, Damanhour, Asyout, among other cities across Egypt.
Around 2 PM on Wednesday Feb. 2, the execution of the plan of attack ensued in earnest. Over three thousand baltagies attacked from two entrances with thousands of rocks and stones thrown at the tens of thousands of peaceful demonstrators gathered in the square, while most attackers had shields to defend themselves against the returning rocks. While a few were armed with guns, all baltagies were armed with clubs, machetes, razors, knives or other sharp objects.

After about an hour of throwing stones, the second stage of the attacks proceeded as dozens of horses and camels came charging at the demonstrators in a scene reminiscent of the battles of the middle ages. The pro-democracy people fought back by their bare hands, knocking them from their rides and throwing their bodies at them. They subsequently apprehended over three hundred and fifty baltagies, turning them over to nearby army units.

They confiscated their IDs which showed that most assailants were either NDP members or from the secret police. Others confessed that they were ex-cons who were paid $10 to beat up the demonstrators. The camel and horse riders confessed to have been paid $70 each.

The third stage of the attack came about three hours later when dozens of assailants climbed the roofs in nearby buildings and threw hundreds of Molotov cocktails at the pro-democracy protesters below, who immediately rushed to extinguish the fires. They eventually had to put out two fires at the Egyptian museum as well. By midnight the thugs started using tear gas and live bullets from a bridge above the protesters killing five people and injuring over three dozens, ten seriously.
By morning, the Tahrir Square resembled a battleground with at least 10 persons killed and over 2,500 injured people, 900 of which required transport to nearby hospitals as admitted by the Health ministry. Most of the injured suffered face and head wounds including concussions, burns and cuts because of the use of rocks, iron bars, shanks, razors, and Molotov cocktails. Al-Jazeera TV and many other TV networks around the world were broadcasting these assaults live to the bewilderment of billions of people worldwide.


Ari said...

Hoss Mubarak uses a very good weapon against his protestors - hunger. Hoss has stolen 70 billion dollars of "his own people". That is why his son was very hurry when travelling to England to keep safe the stolen assets. If I remember right, Jasser Arafat was a very rich man too - now his widow is.
All dictators are crooks and thieves.

northshorewoman said...

the amount of wealth that a dictator supported by the US, Canada and Europe can amass during neoliberal reforms is staggering. No wonder the old coot is clinging to power; he has lots to lose -- that is he won't be able to steal as much -- once he's kicked out. He should be tried as a criminal and put in his own torture prisons.