Archive for category Egypt 2011
I have warned that post-revolution Egypt could fall victim to instigated violence. There are signs that it has started. Christians and Muslims are fighting over unfounded rumours. Anyone who want to start an ethnic clash just needs to start a rumour to rile ethnic tensions. What is happening right now in Egypt is that rumours are swirling around that
The Muslims are planning to say Friday prayers at the site of the burned church! The Christians are kidnapping veiled women in the slum over there!
And voila, they are now fighting each other. Ethnic violence have erupted and paranoia and mistrust ruled the day. Sigh. Spirit of the protest should be carried on now more than ever.
Egyptians stormed their State Security Intelligence (SSI) and have started posting images of the documents online. Their security service Amn Dawla was responsible for countless atrocities and torture. Some of the people tortured under the U.S. rendition program were said to have been sent to Egypt’s SSI. A call went out via Facebook for the people to surround the SSI buildings throughout Egypt. This has lead to people actually storming the buildings and trying to uncover the documents themselves.
There is also a tweet about room with secret videos of Gulf Royal Personalities during their Egyptian’s summer escapade. Wikileaks also mentioned something about sex tapes. One picture shows an FBI logo on what appears to be a document cover.
Wikileaks is encouraging Egyptians not to throw away the shredded documents as they might be able to reconstruct them. People are refusing to leave the SSI office for fear that more documents will be shredded.
One of the document allegedly shows the tool used by SSI to hack into people’s Skype account. They claimed that the tool was from the German firm Gamma Group. Obviously I can’t verify the veracity of those claims.
Some youtube videos have also started to surface.
Along with pictures of the cells inside the SS.
There is also pictures of files. Apparently each file is for one person.
Hope they don’t randomly post pictures of private individual’s files or videos online.
After 18 days of fighting a stubborn regime, Egyptians have successfuly overthrown their dictator. They withstand all sorts of tricks and violent provocation. But their wisdom & civility remain intact despite all odds and ridicule. At the outset of the revolution, most media ignored them. But soon, their cries prove hard to ignore for conscientious people the world over.
If history do really repeat itself, then the road ahead might be fraught with danger. People or group with selfish interest will test the new government that will come out from this. But if the wisdom, courage and civility of the revolution is carried through, then all malicious act will suffer the same fate as Mubarak.
First, Tunisia, then Egypt. More are sure to follow. For humanity demand compassion, justice and liberty as its natural rights.
But for tonight, the party is on in Egypt.
It was a rollercoaster day in Egypt. Protester’s expectations were elevated when several reliable sources started saying Mubarak is stepping down. People and organizations who gave hint of Mubarak stepping down includes White House giving a hint that the “situation is fluid”; CIA director saying it looks like Mubarak will step down and give power to Soleiman; Saudi’s TV station Al-Arabiya saying Mubarak will step down and hand power to Soleiman; Even the government party NDP is saying they expect Mubarak to step down. Protesters started celebrating although they fear Soleiman might take over. But they still believe Mubarak stepping down is a cause for celebration.
White House then issued a short statement boosting hope that Mubarak is stepping down.Then it was reported that Mubarak is meeting with his VP Soleiman.
And then Mubarak spoke, later than originally scheduled. He said he is delegating power to his VP but is staying on. Soleiman then asked people to go home and go back to work. Crowds were very disappointed. Some started marching toward the State TV and the heavily guarded Presidential Palace. While others head home chanting “Tomorrow, Tomorrow”.
Protesters were evidently disappointed and angry. But regular vocal posters at Twitter warned people that this might be a bait to make them angry and resort to violence. Which can then be used to justify a violent crackdown. Protesters were encouraged to remain peaceful tomorrow. White House seems to have been caught off guard too. They later release a longer statement which seems to side with the protesters, their clearest statement yet acknowledging the diversity of the protesters.
Organizers are hoping for millions of people again tomorrow in what they hope will be a decisive day. Today’s crowd includes medical staff dressed in their white uniform. Lawyers also joined the march. There were also report of Cairo’s bus going on strike. People also marched for a 15 year old boy who was shot to death. He went missing the day Mubarak’s thugs were unleashed. His father found his body in the hospital.
Arab Alliance Against Egyptian Protesters
Some Egyptians expressed disbelief that Arab alliances are siding with Mubarak. “Gulf consortium of Saudi, UAE and Kuwait” is said to have offered $5 billion to Egypt if U.S. pulls out their billion dollar aid. White House getting caught off guard indicate there might have been a last minute change and it seems like Mubarak did not follow the plan.
Which Side is the Army With?
Lt. Gen. Sami Hafez Anan Egypt’s Armed Forces Chief of Staff appeared on Tahrir square earlier in the day pledging to meet the protesters demands and protect their security. Some wonder if there might be a split in the army. Defense Ministry Tantawi, considered to be a loyal Mubarak’s man, is also a member of the Armed Forces Supreme Council.
CBS reported on the the military meeting earlier in the day, before Mubarak made his announcement.
The military’s supreme council convened Thursday – tellingly, without the commander in chief Mubarak – and announced on state TV its “support of the legitimate demands of the people.” A spokesman read a statement that the council was in permanent session to explore “what measures and arrangements could be made to safeguard the nation, its achievements and the ambitions of its great people.”
The statement was labeled “communique number 1,” a phrasing that suggests a military coup.
Footage on state TV showed Defense Minster Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi chairing the meeting of two dozen top stern-faced army officers, seated around a table. At Tantawi’s right was military chief of staff Gen. Sami Anan. Not present was Mubarak, the commander in chief and a former air force chief, or his vice president, Omar Suleiman, a former army general and intelligence chief named to his post after the protests erupted Jan. 25.
It remains to be seen which side the military would take if pro-democracy crowd push their way to the Presidential Palace, Parliament and State TV tomorrow. Some posters on the internet suggested that people should bring flowers for the military and try to win over the soldiers and young officers.
A recap of today’s event in Egypt. As predicted on this blog yesterday, the Ghonim interview have resulted in a huge surge in the number of protesters. Tahrir square was very packed today and the turn out was said to be the largest since the revolution started on January 25. The Nile bridge was said to be packed with people trying to get into Tahrir. Wael Ghonim made his appearance on Tahrir today. Academics from University, lawyers and newspaper workers have openly came out in support of the protesters. Lots of new faces and first timers have also joined the protest.
The protest have spread to the front of the Parliament building where some people are planning a sleepover. There were talks of organizing a protest in front of the State TV. However, there were checkpoints and blockades setup along the way to prevent people from getting there.
The planned Suez Canal strike talked about yesterday also materializes but only subsidiary of companies were affected and there were no effects on navigation through the Suez Canal at this point.
The spirit of the protesters were re-invigorated just as government seems to be gaining confidence that they could sit this out. Pundits were also talking about fear that the protesters might be losing momentum. The government also started talking to Muslim Brotherhood, who were not the driving force. Today’s protest surge gave the momentum back to the original organizer of the protest, who are now rallying behind Wael Ghonim.
White House have added a call for Egypt to lift their emergency rule in a sign that the record breaking crowd today might have shaken U.S. official. Soleiman, the successor favored by U.S. and Israel also offered concession announcing they have a timetable for transition.
More stories of abuses surfaces including L.A. Times accounts of the torture suffered by a young lawyer by the name of Mohamed Badr . He was part of the protesters who were arrested and tortured.
Large protest were also reported in Alexandria and other parts of Egypt. Marches are being planned to go to Presidential Palace tomorrow. The atmosphere at Tahrir was festive and protester’s spirit were high.
Video from Parliament where a banner was placed on the gate that says “Closed for business until Mubarak steps down”
A group of convoy quietly bring blanket to protestors in the newly established protest site in front of Parliament building.
UK’s Channel 4 News Coverage of today’s event
I would like to thank the Egyptians at Twitter’s #Jan25 for providing play by play of the events at Egypt as it unfolds.
Wael Ghonim, a Google marketing manager in the Middle East have been freed after being detained for 12 days. It has also been revealed that he was behind the Facebook page for Khaled Said. Khaled Said died in police hands and his face was disfigured as a result of being severely beaten. Wael Ghonim gave an emotional interview about Egyptian’s fight for freedom, which have instantly turned him into a hero.
Call for General Strike at the Suez Canal
Another major development is the call for general strike at the Suez Canal. U.S. have sent naval ship there recently, just in case there is a need to evacuate U.S. citizens. U.S. is worried about interruption to Suez Canal and have said that they will consider diplomatic, economic and military intervention if that happens. Suez have also seen protest and violent crackdown as reported by L.A. Times – Fear and Desperation Grips Egypt’s Port City of Suez. Suez canal is considered a critical shipping route. When Suez went on strike back in May 1919, British Army and Navy were used to keep it open (source: NYT archive – click on pdf link).
Major Push Tomorrow?
Judging by the Egyptian’s reactions to the Wael Ghonim’s interview, tomorrow’s rally could be huge. It might also help turn the opinion of some people who have so far been brain washed by the State TV’s constant streams of propaganda. Some are referring to Wael Ghonim as the new leader of the protest. Some people and families in Egypt reportedly cried after watching his interview. This has re-energized the protesters who are now calling for another million man march and are considering making a push out of Tahrir square to add pressure on the government. Up to this point, there have not been a clear leader for the pro-democracy group. El Baradei and Muslim Brotherhood were not considered the main driving force.
A Modern Democracy
If the protesters win, it is highly likely that Egypt could become the first Modern Democracy with a transparent government written into the constitution. This observation is based on TV interviews and discussions / comments on the internet. Wikileaks cables continue to show corruption among government officials even in developed democracy. It would be nice to see transparency as a reality rather than just an empty political campaign slogan.
Here is the first interview with Wael Ghonim and an intro video by the talk show host. A longer interview with that host is currently being edited by some people to add English subtitle. I will link to the video here as soon as it is up. In the meantime, here is the article from Al Jazeera – Blogger’s Release Reignites Egypt.
h/t Ramy Yaacoub
(updated – complete videos of interview at Dream TV, Part 1 to 3)
Full text transcript of the interview (h/t Ramy, Sarah, forsoothsayer, Jan25 Voices): Wael Ghonim’s Dream Interview
Other Middle East News – Lebanon’s Internet Being Jammed By U.S. Navy?
Having observed several revolutions unfold around the world throughout the years, there seems to be a constant trend. That is during and after a peaceful revolution or protest, there are always instigators who will sow chaos and violence to discredit the peaceful revolutionaries or protesters. A peaceful revolution is a potent weapon that could quickly shift public opinion and raise awareness. The best way to discredit them is if the public perceive them as just violent thugs who are just troublemakers. So the common modus operandi (M.O.) of these instigators is to foment violence and try to pit one group against the other.
Violence in the Midst of Revolution
Humans are easily manipulated into being divided along religious, cultural or ethnic & racial line. Incidence in some part of the world have shown that a simple rumour attributing a violence or killing of a person from one ethnicity or religion to another group could easily spark a riot and tit-for-tat retribution, quickly spiraling out of control. Egypt have seen its share of such kind of instigation with Christian church being bombed. Tunisia have incidence of Synagogue being bombed.
During the onset of Tahrir revolution, the violent thug M.O. almost succeeded with simultaneous violence breaking out on different protest sites across Egypt immediately following Mubarak’s speech. But fortunately this time, it did not work. The power of connected people giving instant update from the ground overwhelmed the attempts by the State to stage a scripted justification for violent crackdown. If it is not for technology that allows real-time update from large amount of people on the ground, we might have easily been fooled into thinking that protesters have resulted to violence. Hence they deserve what they get – a common excuse for being apathetic.
After Mubarak’s announcement of not running again, Voice of America immediately release news saying Egyptian’s were applauding Mubarak’s decision. BBC says people will likely accept this decision. But direct reporting from people on the ground indicate that is not the case. Imagine if few main stream media, who nowadays tend to recycle news from one source, simply repeated the false news. That would severely alter our public opinion and could have led us to think that things are winding down. And the remaining protesters are just hardliners and stubborn.
Mubarak’s attempts were well orchestrated. Simultaneous, widespread, all forms of violence from acid, stone and molotov cocktail being thrown, and sniper fire killing protesters. This would normally create panic and cause the protesters to disperse. The dispersal of crowd would have created the impression that the protest have dwindled following Mubarak’s convincing speech. Or at least that’s how the script was supposed to be. But what makes it different this time was the grassroots journalism – made possible by the new technology of the information age. This have created thousands to millions of independent eye witness disputing the lies, contradicting what the State and its allies / cronies are trying to propagate. There is also no shortage of hard evidence through thousands of cellphones equipped with video cameras.
This is not to say the technology is fool-proof. Some authoritarian in the future could use the technology to spread misinformation also. It won’t be surprising if some political parties in democratic institutions already do, through staffing their marketing and campaign facilities with people who post and spread their speaking points on various discussion forum on the web. As Nazi’s chief propagandist Joseph Goebbel have said:
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
If Tunisia and Egypt ever get past the revolution stage and started forming their democracy, they should look into history again to see how groups with interest to see them fail could try to sabotage their gain. Same tactic could again be used. Bombing and sabotage to create sense of chaos and losing of control, including staged assassination. Violence to try to provoke ethnic and religious tension. This have been employed repeatedly in some new democracies. In one instance, sniper fired into protesters to blame it on the new government. It then create chaos and the new government popularity suffers. Coup is then staged pretending to be saviour of the people. Such tactic of violence to undermine government have been used repeatedly, it must have been on some authoritarian textbook somewhere.
The best counter for such tactic is to educate people not to fall into hate and retaliation so easily. Tunisia and Egypt offers such hope. The protesters in both countries consist of large number of educated youth who don’t easily fall for such manipulation. The determination of Egyptians to remain peaceful in the face of all sorts of violence directed against them ensure public opinion and world opinion / sympathy remain solidly behind them. Their reputation have not been tainted. That’s why when report of pipeline blast came out, suspicion did not fall on the protesters. Instead murmur start to spread that it might have been orchestrated by the government, to reinforce western government’s stereotype and fear that a post-Mubarak regime might fall into chaos. The government later came out and said it was an accident and not sabotage.
Remaining peaceful like Gandhi had done, and the Egyptian’s are doing now, ensure the line between the oppressed and the oppressor is not muddled. However, that is easier said than done. It takes extraordinary courage and willingness to sacrifice oneself to withstand such onslaught of severe violence, intimidation and threat to life.
The Egyptian’s revolution is still ongoing with a ruthless government unafraid to use force and commit murder, which are repeatedly being caught in video cameras from hand-held devices. A government that is ready for war of attrition while at the same time employing the State TV to sow fear and paranoia. The number of people who are still falling for the government propaganda shows that we still have some way to go to learn to think independently and to let rationale thought conquer fear, hatred and paranoia. We should learn not to simply take the word of a man in power or be blinded by personality worship without independent verification and giving the benefit of the doubt.
A quote from Sri Chinmoy Ghose remain relevant to this day:
When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will truly know peace.