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Michael mocks and misunderstands personalities and powers of the Egyptian revolution. I object to his several of his inaccurate observations.

From what I have seen in the news:

1. The Egyptian military is none too pleased with the leftists because the leftists keep bashing the military.

Five months after the fall of Mubarak, there he is on his bed in the cage, with his two sons, his first trial day behind him, now on the medical wing of the prison in Cairo, back to court on the 7th.

<img src="http://images.smh.com.au/2011/02/02/2162804/mubarak-420x0.jpg" width="339px"><img src="http://msnbcmedia4.msn.com/j/MSNBC/Components/Slideshows/_production/ss-110803-mubarak-trial/ss-110803-mubarak-trial-01.grid-9x2.jpg" width="339px">

I keep close watch on Egyptian news media/new media and am heavily involved in tracking and understanding events in Syria as well (which explains most of my non-posting at OL recently). Michael is surely right to point out that generic 'leftists' 'bash' the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

The wonder of present-day Egypt for me is in its burgeoning, newly freed media and public civil space.

The 'leftists' in Egypt range from Mona Eltahawy to Mohamed ElBaradei.

2. The leftists are losing their public voice big time.

I don't think this is quite accurate. No one is losing their public voice in Egypt. This is a time of great drama and political import, as the details of the transition are negotiated and contested in a vast and energized population that takes its revolution seriously.

3. The Islamists keep silent about the Egyptian military.

There are several strains of Islamists in Egypt right now, as the political skirmishing continues. The Muslim Brotherhood is riven in several sections, with four breakaway parties, expulsions and extreme disagreements between youth and autocracy in its internal affairs. The youth wing members (expelled and otherwise) have an alliance with the secular youth and the several broad Jan 25th political formations.

4. The voice of the Islamists is growing daily, as are the crowds that are organized and lathered up by Islamists.

The demonstration and hysteria by Salafists was widely reported and critiqued in Egypt, Michael. The grotesqueries of the hardcore Salafis at Tahrir gave added force to secular arguments against their stances. That altercation was bad news for Islamists.

5. The leftists and the Islamists were once allied, but the Islamists have now dropped the left like a hot potato.

One has to check against the actual alliances on the ground. The MB itself has 17 allies in its electoral coalition, including the largest left party, Tagammu. It's the MB, with their paltry 12-17% poll showings, who need the embrace of the secular, youth, 'leftists' and others to hope to dominate the new parliament. Moreover, polls show a secular like ElBaradei or Moussa will thump any Brotherhood-tainted candidate for President under the new constitution.

So what about Facebook and Google and broadband Internet saving the Islamic world from brutal dictators and bringing about democracy and social justice

In the Egyptian context, citizens used and still use many media to express themselves and to influence the course of momentous events. Facebook and Google were a small part of the wave of revolt that passed by word of mouth and streetside organization by activists. Among them, perhaps in a news-clearing, reporting, coordinating and disseminating information, these tools were useful -- Michael is mostly correct to downplay any magnificence claimed for social media. A vast vanguard role for these media, no, but a remarkable tool for organizing and disseminating information. We need neither excessively valourize nor vilify.

The greatest event, to my mind, is the vast expansion of ordinary freedoms suppressed by the Mubarak regime: Facebook, Twitter, Google, broadband, free television and radio. Freedom of movement and assembly. Freedom to demonstrate, freedom to speak out, create, criticize, protest -- freedom from arrest by secret police or thugs. There is a panorama unfolding, freedoms that we Westerners take for granted.

Others might find the most momentous event to be Mubarak, sons and killer cronies in the cage . . .

--as sanctimonious youngsters show just how easy organized "feel-good" stuff stops bullets and tanks while they lecture everyone on how wise and caring they are?

This is garbled nonsense. Sanctimonious youngsters like exactly who? "Feel-good stuff" means just what?

Egypt is dismantling its old regime, trying its criminals, and moving forward without tanks and bullets. I myself am proud and supportive of the Egyptian revolution gains. They brought down the old system, hold the SCAF to account, and now have their former rulers in a courtroom ready for justice. That looks good to me, and is deeply satisfying to Egyptians repressed for so long by the old regime.

Er... it doesn't look too good right now.

It looks more like Wael Ghonim's Google-tears were those of a useful idiot.

The tears of a clown.

Wael Ghonim is one of tens of thousands of fully-engaged Egyptians who influence Egyptian events. I have no influence except in very small ways to witness and counter inaccuracies. Ghonim is not my enemy -- I respect him and his commitment to secular democracy. To my eyes, Ghonim is no one's enemy, nobody's clown, not at all an idiot. It disheartens me to read this kind of off-kilter contempt from an opinion-leader on OL. Ghonim's live interview on Egyptian television four nights before Mubarak's departure was an effective mobilization tool -- it galvanized Egyptians to pour into Tahrir for the final showdown, and captured the public heart for the revolution from that evening on. If western media latched on to Ghonim's interview, it was because the human drama of Egypt was easily personified. He wept for those killed and millions wept with him.

<img src="http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2011/02/07/world/middleeast/07lede_dream/07lede_dream-blog480.jpg" width="339px">

Contempt and slurs against Ghonim puzzle me. Especially when it seems the contempt for his person and his activities shows no awareness of what he has been doing the last four months.

With regard to the apparent strong dislike for other unnamed elements of the Egyptian revolution, I wish I could know whose side we should rightly be on -- if not supportive of Ghonim and his ilk, what side or group or person or movement or stance from inside Egypt deserves support, in the end? What would we do if we each had an Egyptian vote?

As rational, objective observers with small and large interests in Egypt, what should we know before we mark our ballots?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch . . . . "Lawyer repeats claims that Mubarak is dead during opening session" (!)

In the opening session of Hosni Mubarak's trial, lawyer Hamed Seddik staggeringly tried to convince judge Ahmed Fahmi Refaat that the ousted president died in 2004 and the defendant is actually "another man" who has since been impersonating.

The long-bearded lawyer has been pushing his theory for years, having filed more than 200 lawsuits to prove it. Although his story has been consistently rubbished by the media and public, Seddik gave it another airing in Wednesday's session.

"Mubarak passed away in 2004 and this defendant is another man," he resolutely told the judge over the microphone. "I demand to compare his DNA to that of Alaa and Gamal [his sons] to reveal the truth … there is a conspiracy going on."

Refaat said the controversial allegations are irrelevant to the case but Seddik, who appeared among the defence team, refused to let go of the microphone immediately, trying to add emphasis to his story.

Late last month, Seddik, a geologist at the National Research Centre with a doctorate in law, made the same claims on one of the stages set up at the Tahrir Square sit-in.

The angry audience reaction to his theory meant he could not continue with his speech.

Mubarak is being tried along with his sons Alaa and Gamal, former interior ministry Habib El-Adly and six of the latter's assistants for involvement in the killing of peaceful protesters during the January 25 Revolution.

Source: Egypt's Arab Spring


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