Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Outrage in Egypt …why? What next?

I am completely outraged by what is happening in Egypt and to the courageous young men and women of Egypt who took to the streets peacefully and beautifully asking for their freedom, for liberty & democracy. My contribution is, rather than going into the horrors committed by the Mubarak regime, I will focus on some background and address the questions that seem to occupy the mind of many in the west.

Some have claimed that the January 25 peaceful demonstrations were mere copy cat events of those in Tunisia. Let’s first look at why Jan25, and Jan25 in particular, and how #jan25 became such a huge tag on Twitter. The 25th of January is the Egyptian National Police Day or “Eid El Shortah” . The Police & internal security forces of Egypt, numbering in the millions, are a major part of the grievances of the people of Egypt. The Egyptian police has become notorious for the humiliation, abuse, torture and brutal killings of whomever they get their hands on, be they peaceful geeky bloggers, news reporters or organized Islamist or Arabist opponents of the regime.

#KhaledSaid is another big tag on Twitter and Khaled Said Facebook page has hundreds of thousands of members, Khaled would have celebrated his twenty-ninth birthday on January 27, had he not been brutally tortured and killed by the Egyptian Police a few months ago. Khaled’s optimistic hopeful face is on the mind of many of the protestors, what was done to him is there for all to see on Facebook, he was brutalized.

While Egypt has lived under Emergency Laws for 30 years and the Police & other internal security forces have been nothing short of totally ruthless in their suppression of outspoken dissent, the Security Forces failed to protect Egypt against the New Year Eve massacre in Alexandria, this terrorist attack on a church during this last New Year’s Eve left 23 dead and scores maimed. This massacre put ordinary Egyptians Muslims and Christians on a State of Alert and caused a great deal of self reflection. Egyptian police failed to protect ordinary Egyptians despite the stated threat by Al Qaida against Egyptian churches and the response to the attack was equally dismal. Doubtless the success of their Tunisian neighbors helped in opening the eyes of the people of Egypt to their power against the oppressors but the Alexandria massacre delivered a clear message: The violence of the state does not serve any purpose except enriching some in the regime at the expense of the masses, public security is only security for the regime and ruling classes.

Is the Mubarak regime vital for Egypt’s peace with Israel? As a strong advocate for peace and co-existence with Israel the answer to me is a clear no. Mubarak failed to continue with the policy of normalization with Israel started by his predecessor President Sadat, instead Mubarak played a dangerous game of building a strong relationship with Israel on the state level while presiding over the creation of immense waves of anti Jewish hatred. Mubarak’s propaganda apparatus through state owned and controlled media fed the flame of hate. My recollection of my childhood in Egypt at the height of Egyptian Israeli wars was fear of Israeli bombings; the hatred of Israel and all things Jewish had never been at the levels of Mubarak’s Egypt, ground zero for today’s anti-Semitism. Mubarak can’t be good for peace between Egypt and Israel nor for stability. The stability offered by Mubarak is nothing but the most fertile conditions for malignant hate that undermines any lasting peace.

Similar is the myth that Mubarak is a critical ally for the west against Islamism. The Egyptian Islamist movements have had a strange love – hate relationship with Mubarak’s regime. On the one hand Mubarak has opposed the Muslim Brotherhood’s participation in politics, yet Islamists have had a free hand running mosques, schools and clinics. Egyptian society under Mubarak has been radicalized and the Salfi extremist strands of Islam, traditionally alien to Egypt, have spread; women in burqas were rarely seen on the streets of Cairo or Alexandria before Mubarak, now they are everywhere. Yet Mubarak brutally suppressed, imprisoned and forced into exile virtually all of his secular opponents and unleashed massive propaganda attacks against them; Ayman Nour and Saad Eddin Ibrahim are perfect examples for Mubarak’s heavy handedness against secular opponents. Mubarak wanted to be the only viable acceptable alternative to the Muslim Brotherhood, no room for others.

The Jan25 revolution, led by the youth, middle class and the educated classes of Egypt and eventually supported by the lame opposition parties and the Islamists, is good for Egypt, is good for the Middle East, good for peace and good for the West.

AA - Feb 2, 2011


Zer0_II said...

I happened to see you on Twitter as I was following the #Jan25 and #Egypt tags. I just wanted to say that I agree with you. I have been following the situation closely, and I am outraged by the difficulties that most Egyptians are facing right now. I hope that they are able to achieve their goals, and do so soon. I wish that Mubarak would come to his senses and step down, but it doesn't appear as if that will happen. I think the Egyptian protesters should have marched yesterday, and I honestly do not understand why they didn't. When you have nearly 2 million people on your site you need to act, while you have momentum, before it is too late. Now that they have waited pro-Mubarak supporters, or whoever they are, are succeeding in distracting the protesters from their primary goal

As an American, I am also angered by our government's hypocritical foreign policy, and unwillingness to take a much tougher line with Mubarak. Our government claims to be the shining example of democracy, and yet they are known for propping up aging dictators and tyrants.

Yassin said...

This is excellent and essentially mirrors my views although it is certainly a more informed version.