Archive for Egypt

A Year On

Posted in Culture, Me, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 14/01/2012 by arabrhizome

It’s been a year since I was sitting at this very computer in my dad’s appartment while he was watching tv in his room and the news that Ben Ali fled Tunisia came through. It is still very difficult for me to express in words how emotionally charged that moment was. It represented a moment of pure joy and hope that I only experienced once before, when israel was forced out of most of South Lebanon. However, this had another flavour. This event felt monumental in a different way. It wasn’t the defeat and humiliation of a colonising state, it was the victory of a people against their domestic oppressor.

I wrote last year that it felt like the first truely post-colonial revolution in the arab world, and maybe in the whole of the colonised world, and a year on I can but reiterate that thought. The revolution in Tunisia has changed the world. It might sound like a platitude or a blanket statement, but it doesn’t make it less true. The desperate act of Mohamed Bouazzizi has created a tidal wave of revolution that is still building up. I had hoped that the Tunisian model was going to spread to the rest of the Arab World, and maybe the rest of the decolonised world. I’m happy to see a year on that it is still going strong.

What we saw was Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya (although that particular revolution was marred by imperial and neo-colonial intervention), Syria, Kuwait, Saudi, and other Arab countries rise up, in different ways and to varying degrees that speak to the specificities of their situations. Today Nigeria is rising up. What I did not expect is to see the people of Europ and the USA rise up. Much can be said about their particular forms of protest, particularly occupy wall street and its refusal to show solidarity with the people of Palestine (I’m not letting that one go until they rectify the situation), but the point still remains that the revolution has gone global.

We shouldn’t forget the movements in South America, particularly the student movement in Chile. It’s also important to acknowledge the precursor to all that which is the student movement in the UK. I still believe that that particular movement, allied with the anti-cuts movement, has been central in awakening the revolutionary spirit in the world. While Mohammad Bouazzizi’s self immolation is the spark that started it all, it would be wrong not to see the student demonstrations as the kindling that was gathered and made the fire of revolution take.

Now we have seen countless regimes shaken by the tidal wave of revolution, some fell, others are hangging by thin threads, others are trying to weather the storm. We have also seen the forces of counter revolution try to coopt or destroy revolutions or revolutionary gains. The egyptian army is trying to destroy the revolution in Egypt. Saudi, israel, and the West are trying to crush the revolution in Bahrain, but to no avail. We must remain vigilant and continue to show solidarity with the people rising up.

While I think that the counter-revolutionary forces might get some gains in the near future, I believe that the writing on the wall is there for everyone to see. They will eventually be defeated, even if they make some tactical victories. It is important though to realise that in a post-Tunisia world (even though this was true before), we can’t be frightened by the popular uprisings of people. I find that many people are still stuck within a paradigm that sees some dictatorial and tyrannical states as allies. I’m of course referring to Syria and Iran.

We must realise that the people have broken through the wall of fear. We shouldn’t be afraid of their choices. Those who argue that if the Syrian regime falls Syria will become another Saudi or that it will make peace with israel, have no understanding of the significance of the Arab Revolutions. People will not accept a new form of dictatorship. Some puppet regime might try to establish itself, but as Egypt is showing us and as the rumblings against the NTC in Libya are showing us, that’s not going to happen. We must be on the side of the revolutionaries wherever they are and trust that they will not abandon their hard earned freedom.

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No Time To Blog

Posted in about the blog, Me, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 28/06/2011 by arabrhizome

Hi everyone. I don’t really have much time to blog. I’m working and it seems that it’s kicking off in Egypt again. I’m not very sure what’s happening but it seems that the police has attacked the martyrs families who have been camped out in Tahrir. It seems that clashes are ongoing right now. I’ll try to blog more about it when I know exactly what’s going on. It seems that the revolution, that was never completed since the army seems to continue the dictatorial regime of Mubarak, is back on and might be seen through. I am also going to stay up I think and try to work while I’m also watching the news. In the mean time stay safe. Love you bye.

Podcast

Posted in Culture, Me, Palestine, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 20/05/2011 by arabrhizome

This will be a shortish post, just so you know from the start. So a couple of days after the Nakba day protests I was contacted by a tweep (that’s twitter speak it’s the singular form of tweeps which is a portmanteau word that combines twitter and peeps, basically it means peeps from twitter. See if you keep reading this blog you learn stuff) called The Angry Indian. He asked me if I was interested in being interviewed via skype for his podcast. I was very flattered to be asked and was very happy to do it. We exchanged skype names and got together after that and had a lovely meandering conversation about Palestine, the Nakba, the BDS movement, and many other things.

You can get the podcast here. Make sure to check out the fantastic work that he does reporting news relevant to and from the perspective of aboriginal people and generally oppressed people. I have to say that I really enjoyed our conversation. It was fun and thought provoking. It wasn’t exactly an interview. We just basically talked. Nothing was prepared and because we just kept talking we didn’t cover everything we thought we would. I have to admit though that listening to it was a little painful. I know that everyone hates hearing their taped voice and I am no exception. I find my voice whiny and annoying. Also, because I was thinking about what to say and I wanted to phrase things well, because I’m weird like that, I kept pausing. That’s what bothered me the most. I kept pausing and pausing.

Anyway, I’m not going to moan about it, it’s just an observation. But I did pause way too much. Anyway, the whole experience was great and it made me feel that I might want to be involved in similar projects. I am very busy at the moment, what with having to write a PhD and all, but I would love to be involved in a political/informative/subversive podcast. I don’t know if that means that I need to look at writing some opinion articles and get them published. It’s an interesting thought that would have to wait though, because I am otherwise engaged with my thesis right now. In the mean time, please listen to that podcast, as well as the others they’re very good, and let me know what you think. Stay safe. Love you bye.

Comments on my Review of The Promise

Posted in about the blog, Culture, Me, Palestine, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 03/03/2011 by arabrhizome

If you all remember, I posted a review of Channel 4’s The Promise a couple of days ago. This blog post was very popular and I got an increase in hits on that specific post. As you remember I was very positive in my review of the TV drama. I explained how it portrayed Palestine both in its current state, and historic tragedy, very accurately. The way in which it captured the lasting tragedy of the Nakba and its continued relevance today was breathtaking. Also, the fact that it didn’t fall into a simplistic false equivalence between the suffering of Palestinians and israelis was refreshing. The drama was also fantastic and the writing was beautiful. It was subtle when it needed to be, and in your face when it was necessary. All in all an excellent piece of television.

It should come as no surprise that zionists were not exactly thrilled about the series. In their opinion it was an antisemitic attack on all Jews everywhere. I’ve already discussed this numerous times on this blog, a search of the terms zionism, israel, palestine, antisemitism, racism, BDS, Nakba, will give you the relevant posts. As I said, my post on The Promise attracted a lot of traffic. However, for a few days I had no comments. Today came with a bunch of comments. One of them was nice the other four were from zionists who didn’t like the fact that I liked The Promise.

I thought I’d go through them and think about what they are saying. I have to admit that one of them actually made me laugh. It was a clever reference to something I wrote in my post. As you remember I had written that 15 minutes in the first episode I wanted to smash my laptop repeatedly on the wall. Well this led Yisrael Medad to respond to my post by commenting: “You’ve just made me feel like I should take my computer and smash it.” I think this is clever, not very constructive but at least funny. Reader Sergio agreed with Yisrael’s assessment and commented: “that makes two of us”. Again not constructive, and in this case I have to admit not clever either.

The point is that my post had raised their ire for some reason. I don’t know why exactly, as they don’t expand on the reasons why I’ve made them want to take their computers and smash them. Maybe it’s got nothing to do with the subject and it’s just that they don’t like my writing style. Maybe they know me and somehow hate my guts. Maybe the layout and design of my blog just makes them boil with rage. This last reason is only partly my fault as I use a wordpress design. I didn’t design my blog, but I chose that particular look. So I think that if that is why they’re so angry, they might want to have a word with wordpress about it.

Now there were two other comments which were a bit more verbose about their dislike of my post. I’d like to talk about the first one I got last, because it makes a point that I want to address. So the last comment I got today was courtesy of reader Sharon Klaff who writes: “If you believe this to be a great production you must be delusional. I guess the handy chain and lock with key in situ is plausable to you, particlarly as the petulent Erin found it in 3 seconds flat. This small scene epitomises poor production in terms of fact and direction. I’ll remember never to watch anything you recommend.” Now let’s go through this comment, because the criticism of my liking The Promise, and of the series itself, doesn’t seem to be coming from where you would think.

So Sharon states that I must be delusional if I believe this (The Promise) to be a great production. The use of the word must is central here. It is a fact that the only way I would rate this production as great is if I am in fact delusional. Only by having actually lost touch with reality and fallen prey to some kind of pathological loss of judgement, could I possibly think this a great production. Now Sharon is helpful, s/he gives me a reason why I must be delusional. S/he doesn’t want to just make an unsubstantiated statement. S/he uses a scene as an example of the “poor production in terms of fact and direction’. Now this scene is quite central to the plot and I don’t really want to give it away. So I’ll try to give away as little as possible. Erin, the main character, finds herself in a situation where she is in someone’s house and needs to find a chain and lock. She looks around and finds both objects very quickly. That epitomises poor production in the eyes of Sharon.

It seems to me that Sharon needs to explore the concept of the suspension of disbelief a little more closely. Now I’m not saying that S/he is incapable of getting it. But to me that does not sound like a particularly poor example. I mean if you need to find a chain you look where there are tools and you find it. It’s not even that hard to imagine it happening in real life. However, that simple act in this scene drove Sharon over the edge it seems. I mean it made him/her so angry that my liking of the Promise meant that s/he felt compelled to let me know that all my past and future recommendations were null and void. I have shown so little judgement, or so much delusional judgement, that s/he felt compelled to tell me that: “I’ll remember never to watch anything you recommend.” I’d like to think that the reason why my liking of the Promise, which most critics applauded at least for its dramatic production, has angered Sharon so much has more to do with politics then the reason given. It’s just a hunch.

Now we come to the last message, which I think is the most interesting one. This comment was made courtesy of Walt Kovacs who writes: ”

like the wire????

you have gotta be kidding

the wire was filled with characters that were all painted with shades of gray

this production made everything black and white

jews bad

arabs good

this series was made for you….because you already believe that

oh….and len was wrong….not only did israel thrive….it continues to thrive…to the consternation of you…and the arab states”

Now I wanted to reproduce it as it came because I think that it has an interesting visual aspect to it. It’s almost like the nuttery of the person who wrote it has expressed itself not only in the form of free form poetry, which it clearly is, but also visually. Now, you might say: “come on H why are you calling old Walt here a nutter? You’re just being insulting for no reason! He just wanted to share his opinion with you”. Now I would agree with that, if old Walt here hadn’t made assumptions about me and insulted me. I will however have the decency of going through his comment and deconstruct it a little bit to show why he is in fact a nutter, but not any nutter, a zionist nutter.

Let’s begin with the first line “like the wire????” Notice the use of  four question marks here. Now this isn’t a question. I think that Walt is trying to convey a sense of complete and utter surprise at one of my closing statements which placed The Promise on the same level as The Wire and Battlestar Galactica, in terms of great television. I’d like to note that the use of an exclamation mark, or and exclamation mark after the question mark, would have been the grammatically correct course of action. Now we all know that I am in no place to lecture on grammar or spelling, I am very bad at them, but I do know that one’s nuttery is proportional to one’s use of some extra punctuation. Specifically question marks and exclamation marks. As we’ll see in a second it is also inversely proportional to the use of full stops. In other words, the less full stops one uses the more of a nutter they are.

Now Walt doesn’t leave it there and in the next verse of his free form poem he continues “you have gotta be kidding”. Now the use of gotta rather got to, which is the correct English written form, suggests that this poem is meant to be seen as a spoken word poem. It is not there to be read but must be heard. Of course the nature of a blog comment being what it is, he had to write it down, but clearly he’s making the point that it is meant to be spoken. I’d like you all to notice the lack of a full stop after this statement, and any punctuation for that matter, I think an exclamation mark might have been useful here. Unlike Sharon though Walt doesn’t accuse me of being delusional, only of kidding. Indeed, it seems that my opinion, which sees The Promise as being somehow on the same level as the Wire, can only make sense if it is said in jest.

He explain why in the next two verses: “the wire was filled with characters that were all painted with shades of gray/this production made everything black and white”. Now the use of gray rather than grey clearly shows that Walt is using American English, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that it’s just interesting to note. The first verse is something I agree wholeheartedly with. The Wire is indeed filled with characters that are painted with shades of grey. His following verse however, I have a problem with. He states that this production made everything black and white. That’s not what I felt. It seems to me that this production is filled with complex characters that grow and change and are produced by their experiences and surroundings in a highly realistic way. But maybe I’m wrong. He very helpfully explains how in fact this production makes everything black and white.

He writes, in I have to admit a lovely rhythmic mirroring: “Jews bad/arabs good” Again, full stops are completely absent, but also here we find that verbs disappear. But let’s explore these statements a little more closely. He affirms that The Promise paints all Jews as bad and all Arabs as good. I take real issue with that. Many of the israeli Jews are in fact very complex. Take the parents of Erin’s best friend for example. They are a lovely nice couple of liberal israelis. They don’t believe in the occupation and want to have a two state solution. They believe in the rule of law and want to use legal and peaceful means to achieve that. However, they have never really been in contact with Palestinians. The mother’s father was one of the Jewish terrorists in the 1940s. They want to live side by side with the Palestinians but are very uncomfortable when Erin brings one to their home.

Take their son, who’s a peace activist. His experiences in the IDF led him to believe that israel is in fact an apartheid regime and is not a democracy. He is very active in direct action and travels to the West Bank on a regular basis to try and help Palestinians and make a difference. He was however ready to take up arms when an IDF position in which him and Erin were staying in Hebron was attacked at night out of loyalty for the people he served with. Now, it seems to me that these characters are painted with a plethora of colours. However, I think that the problem Walt has, is that there are bad israelis and bad Jews. Those are represented for what they are without compromise. The settlers in Hebron who throw stones, garbage, and insult the Palestinians on a daily basis are shown for what they are, evil. It is wrong to think that just because there is another side to this story that side has any value. This production doesn’t fall in the trap of making excuses. It shows things as they are.

If we continue with the poem we get to a somehow disturbing part. Walt writes: “this series was made for you….because you already believe that” Now I like the use of the … in order to mimic the dramatic pause that he would make when speaking this poem. He affirms that I believe that all Jews are bad and all Arabs are good, that is why I like this series. It was made for people like me you see. Now what are people like me? I don’t think it takes a very intelligent person to crack the code. He is saying that I am a racist and an antisemite. Now I have to say, I was surprised by this statement, because until he made it I thought I was actually a descent guy. I know I’m not perfect, but I thought at least I wasn’t a racist. I mean I’ve always made sure to distinguish between Jewish and zionist for example. I have spoken out against arab tyrants and their repressive regimes, which led me to some trouble. I have defended the rights of oppressed minorities in the countries I’ve lived in. But clearly I was wrong. Walt here knows better. He has told me straight to my face that the only reason I like the series is that it was made for people like me, namely racists.

You know, I have to say I feel liberated now that I know that I am actually a racist. It’s good to know that refusing to identify a people, the Jews (whatever that means, as a culture, a religion, an ethnicity), with a political ideology, zionism, makes me an antisemite. See I thought that identifying a people with a political ideology was the racist thing to do, like identifying Jews with communism, in Nazi Germany, or with Capitalism, in Soviet Russia. I innocently, and clearly antisemitically, thought that it was the same thing here. Also, basing my opinion on the facts that most zionists aren’t Jewish and most Jewish people aren’t zionists is clearly racist of me. How could I be so blind as to think that my opposition to the forceful and violent ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948, and the subsequent occupation, and discriminatory policies of the israeli state towards the arab population of Palestine was not due to some belief in the right of all human beings to their basic rights, but was in fact a clear display of my clear antisemitism?

Walt ends with a very poignant verse. He writes: “oh….and len was wrong….not only did israel thrive….it continues to thrive…to the consternation of you…and the arab states”. Now this last verse, which also ends conspicuously without a full stop, refers to Lens, who is the other major character in The promise, he is Erin’s grand father. The verse also refers to the last entry in his diary where he writes: “We’ve left the Arabs in the shit. But what about the Jews and their bloody state for which they fought so hard? Three years ago I would have said give them whatever they want, they deserve it after all they have been through. Now I’m not so sure. This precious state of theirs has been born in violence and in cruelty to its neighbours. I’m not sure how it can thrive.”

Walt makes a poignant rebuttal to that statement. He states that israel has in fact thrived and continues to thrive to both my and the arab states’ consternation. Now I have to admit that my ego was aggrandised a little by that statement. I mean he puts me on the same level as a whole bunch of states. I would have never thought of myself as somehow equivalent to a single state let alone 22 of them, I’m not Louis XIV after all. But Walt seems to think so, so I have to accept it as fact. It’s interesting that he thinks that israel is thriving at a moment in history when it is quite isolated internationally. The US seems to be the only ally it can count on unconditionally. The BDS movement keeps growing and criticism of israel and its policies has become extremely common place.

I would have thought that the myriad of artists refusing to play in israel, the countless number of cities, trade unions, academics, students, and citizens that are refusing to buy products manufactured in israel and the settlements and by companies who do business with israel is a sign that israel isn’t in fact thriving. I thought that the fact that racist and non-democratic policies are being passed by the Knesset on a regular basis is a sign that israel is in fact not thriving. The fact that the division between the secular and the religious segments of israeli society and the increasingly violent expression of that division was evidence that israel is not thriving. I am however, clearly wrong. Walt says otherwise, and as I’ve stated before he knows better.

Also, it is strange to talk about the consternation of Arab states that israel is thriving. Egypt and Jordan particularly, seem to have banked on israel thriving. The Mubarak regime in Egypt has paid a bit of a price for that gamble it would seem. I would agree that the special relationship with israel isn’t the sole factor in the uprising, but to deny that it played a central role would be I think delusional, to borrow Sharon’s words. I think that Walt is just not facing the facts. The apartheid regime of israel cannot sustain itself. The two state solution has died because israel insisted on creating facts on the ground by expanding settlements. The only solution left is the one state solution, which would mean that Jews and Arabs would share the land as equals, one person one vote. But I’m sure that me wanting this to happen is another sign of my antisemitism and hatred of all things Jewish. I do like brisket though.

He’s Gone!

Posted in Culture, Me, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 11/02/2011 by arabrhizome

I almost don’t want to write a post but just have the title there. There’s almost nothing more that can be said. He’s gone! The people of Egypt have done it. They rose as one and after eighteen days of one of the most inspiring revolutions have toppled the 30 year old regime of Hosni Mubarak. It is impossible to express accurately with words the amazing and incredible feelings I’m feeling right now. I can’t even begin to imagine what Egyptians must be feeling. I feel like my life has been on pause for the past eighteen days, and in many ways it has been. But today, now, I feel like anything is possible. Something huge has happened and I am happy in more ways then I am even aware of.

It all started yesterday. As you remember, everyone, including me, was livid and angry. We were all gob-smacked by the horrible speeches made by Mubarak and Suleiman. They were condescending, patronising, and were clearly playing games trying to divide the people. They wanted to make the protesters look like they were unreasonable children. However, they didn’t expect the level of anger that was going to meet their last move. As you remember, from my post yesterday, people had surrounded the tv building, and others were marching onto the presidential palace.

Today began with unprecedented numbers of people making their way to the streets of Egypt. It was clear that the plan by Mubarak and Suleiman had badly backfired on them. People were clearly sick of being patronised and they weren’t going to take it anymore. The army issued a communiqué number 2 right before the Friday prayers. It was a weird one, it seemed very much to support the president and VP’s statements. This only served to fuel the anger of the people. However, it was a focused anger. People knew exactly what they needed to do and they knew that this was a very pivotal moment. Tahrir Square was quickly overflowing with people.

Many people made their way to the presidential palace in Heliopolis, People surrounded the tv building in Cairo. Alexandria saw another huge protest that made its way to the presidential palace there. All over the country people took to the streets and made their voices heard. In Suez many governmental buildings were stormed and taken over. Very quickly it looked like the military were going to have to make a choice. Clearly, Mubarak and Suleiman’s promises were not believed and they were not going to be accepted.

We heard at some point that there was going to be a statement by the presidency. Now the fact that the statement was said to be by the presidency, rather than the president, was certainly interesting, but we were stung before and so we didn’t want to raise our hopes too much. Also, some reports started dropping saying that Mubarak left Cairo for Sharm El Shikh or even the UAE. Again, no one believed them. Also, if he went to Sharm, then it didn’t mean anything in itself. It would have been the same as Ben Ali going to Hamamat. Anyway, very quickly, it was confirmed that he actually went to Sharm.

Then a bunch of weird things started happening. The state tv started talking to the protesters outside their building. the troupes around the presidential palaces turned their tank guns away from the protesters and there were reports that they started putting egyptian flags on them. Also, two helicopters landed on the palace in Cairo, and then left. Then a high ranking officer made his way into the state tv building. Even though everyone was trying not to let their imaginations take them to a place of too much hope, it was impossible not to feel a certain sense of expectation and trepidation. The tension was rising.

Then we got the most amazing 20 seconds we could hope for. Suleiman appeared on tv, it was clearly pre-recorded. Also it seemed to have been recorded in a hurry. He didn’t look happy and I was a little freaked out thinking he might announce martial law or something. The camera angle was also kind of weird. It felt like it was a bit too close to him. His words were spoken like daggers, but they were sweet music to the ears of everyone listening. Mubarak had decided to step down and delegate his powers to the supreme military council. I still maintain that he looked like he was forced to make that statement at gun point. I don’t know why, but he looked like there was a gun pointed at him as he was speaking.

Anyway, the streets of Egypt erupted in an explosion of sounds and happiness. Al Jazeera English stopped commenting and for something like 5 minutes they just let the sounds of Tahrir Square speak for themselves. At this point I just started crying with joy. I know millions upon millions of people were crying with me. I cannot explain for non-arabs what it means that Egypt has liberated itself from this particular tyrant. It’s not any arab tyrant and it’s not any country. I always knew, intellectually, that Egypt was the leader of the arab world for much of the 20th century. This revolution made me understand it in a visceral way. This particular tyrant as well has been so comfortable in his position. He is despised by the people of the Arab world in an almost univocal way.

His downfall is incredibly important. He has been the loyal lackey of the US and israel. He has played an active role in the inhumane siege of Gaza. He has been the prime destination for the American program of extraordinary rendition. He has sold Egyptian natural gas at a third of its price to israel, while his people went hungry. He is gone now. Now there are many things to be said about the military taking power, about the US and European 25th hour adopting of the revolution. But not tonight. Tonight is for celebration and happiness. Tonight is for us to enjoy the moment and enjoy the continued march of the Arab spring. Now that Egypt has been liberated the rest of the arab world is going to follow. Anyway, I will definitely write more about all this tomorrow. For now, I will go to sleep and have a nice, long, deep sleep and wake up tomorrow and work. Good night.

Mubarak Won’t Leave

Posted in about the blog, Culture, Me, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 10/02/2011 by arabrhizome

I’m going to try and write a consistent and coherent blog post. I can’t promise anything because I am furious. I am so angry that I just want to scream and kick and have a good old tantrum like when I was a kid. I am not an Egyptian and I am in the UK. I can’t imagine how the people of Egypt must be feeling right now. If I feel this way, they must be insane with rage. I am actually shaking with rage. But anyway, many of you might not now what’s actually happening so let me try to summarise.

Alright, today was not supposed to be a major day of protests. The labour actions were escalating, but we weren’t expecting giant crowds at Tahrir Square tonight. In fact, I was even planning to just check the news from time to time and mainly work. However, at some point an army officer spoke to the people in Tahrir Square and told them that all their demands will be met. This led to a lot of speculation. Later the supreme military council met for the third time in the history of Egypt and issued a communiqué, very intelligently titled communiqué 1. The actual content of the communiqué was next to nothing. Basically they said that they will stay in session and protect the people, blah blah blah.

However, This led to speculation that the army might have operated a coup. This was met with a lot of anger and fear by the people in Tahrir, because they want a civilian democratic Egypt, not more military rule. However, this was all speculation and no one knew what was going on. Later the state tv announced that Mubarak was going to speak later in the evening. Then hundreds of cables and reports started coming in from every possible news agency. They were contradictory and some said that he was going to stand down, some said that he ws going to give his power to the military, others to Suleiman, others that he was staying in power.

Anyway, this meant that people started getting really excited. Something was afoot, and the people could feel it. Hundreds of thousands, in Cairo and Alexandria, took to the streets. Tahrir square was filled to the brim. People were very excited. It looked like a giant farewell party for Mubarak. People were dancing, laughing, and just having fun. We heard that the speech was to be broadcast at 22:00 Egypt time. There was much excitement, but also much suspicion and trepidation. This led to probably the funniest hashtag on twitter I’ve ever followed, which was #reasonsmubarakislate. I urge you to search for it and read some of the brilliant tweets. The reason for this is that Mubarak’s speech was clearly late. Another important development was that state tv was showing live images of Tahrir Square for the first time. This led to much excitement. The regime seemed to have lost its grasp on its media.

About 40 or 50 minutes after it was supposed to start, it finally did. From the first few sentences, it was clear that he wasn’t stepping down. He started patronising, literally, the protesters and said that he was speaking to them as a father. He went on to say that he was ad for all the people that were killed, forgetting that they were killed by his people through his actions and orders. He said he was going to operate reform, blah blah blah. And then he referred to himself in the third person, as per usual. He said that he delegated some powers to Suleiman. However, by that time people were livid in Tahrir Square and Alexandria. They were screaming Leave, leave, leave! It was both a wonderful and a terrible sight. People were disappointed and angry and felt betrayed.

Then Suleiman had a speech. Every word coming out of his mouth was like a dagger. He said that he wanted the young people to go home and to stop listening to satellite televisions. Which reminds me, Mubarak kept saying that he wasn’t going to be ordered by foreign and outside forces. These two types of statements are clearly showing that the official line of blaming the events on Al Jazeera and foreign elements was still there. They still continue to refuse to accept that this is a full on revolution by the Egyptian people against tyranny. This speech only poured oil on the fire.

Quickly the protesters in Alexandria made their way to the northern military base in order to ask the army to make its mind. It wasn’t clear what they were going to do next. The people are still there now. At the same time, some people left Tahrir and are now encircling the state tv building. There were reports that some people are making their way to the presidential palace, although we haven’t heard from them in a while now. We don’t know if they abandoned the idea or not. Tens of thousands are still on Tahrir Square venting some anger. We are expecting a second communiqué by the supreme military council. This will be key to know what the army is going to do. The problem is that the rank and file is clearly on the side of the people. Many conscripts and low ranking officers have put their weapons down and joined the protesters.

Anyway, that’s where we are now. Tomorrow was built as another march of millions. It is clear now that it will be gigantic now. People are going to escalate tomorrow. There is talk that official buildings and presidential palaces are to be targeted. We don’t really know what will happen tomorrow. It is unclear where the army stands. It seems that there are deep rifts within the regime, maybe even within the army. It might turn bloody and it might turn out okay. The point is that the revolution marches on. And if some figures of the regime could have survived, politically, before today, now the people will not settle for less than the downfall of the whole regime. It is not clear what Mubarak and Suleiman were trying to achieve with those speeches. Maybe they wanted to push the protesters towards violence, maybe they just don’t get it and thought that this would calm them down. The point is that people are now even more galvanised and even more ready to achieve freedom.

Work, Work, Work

Posted in Culture, Me, Silly Thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on 09/02/2011 by arabrhizome

Right, I said it was going to be short yesterday, and it was. Today’s post will be short as well. I’m just going to give you a quick update on the events in Egypt today and then go back to pretending to work while not doing anything really. Also, I’d like to apologise for the personal bit in yesterday’s post. I just needed to write it and file it. I just wanted it out in the universe. But anyway, that’s not what this is about. We’re here to talk about what happened in Egypt today.

Today saw the continuation of escalation. Workers all over the country have started taking industrial action. Their demands are mainly wage related, but it would be foolish to think that they aren’t doing this in order to support the revolution. Parliament square is still occupied, as well as Tahrir Square. The bad news is that in Al Wadi Al Jadid, 5 people have been killed by the police and dozens have been injured. There have been protests there that started on Monday, and it seems the police tried to repress them violently. The people were not deterred though and they pushed them out of the town. They burnt down 7  regime buildings (police stations, NDP headquarters, etc). The army is now deployed there and the police is gone.

Another development has been the regime appearing to toughen its stance. Suleiman reportedly said that there are two solutions to the crisis, either reform or a coup. Of course by reform he means insignificant cosmetic changes to the regime. However, it would be naive to think that when he says a coup he’s not threatening martial law and basically a bloodbath. Well what can you do? Once the torturer in chief for a corrupt regime, its backers the US, and its ally israel, always a chief torturer for a corrupt regime, its backers in the US, and its ally israel. The man thinks like a torturer and as the events in Al Wadi Al Jadid, as well as the past two weeks, have shown, he acts like one as well.

Anyway, that’s it for me for now. I’m off to do some work and then sleep, hopefully. I just wanted to leave you with this piece of genius. It’s basically a spoof of the Christiane Amanpoor (I know it’s Amanpour, that was a clever play on words implying that she isn’t very good. Man some of you really need to up your game. My jokes are funny.) interview of Omar Suleiman. It made me laugh a lot. I just wish it was longer. Anyway, love you all (I didn’t mean it about you not being smart enough, I’m just in a weird mood. Please love me), and see you tomorrow.