‘Four months on, Egypt’s euphoria of 11 February has turned to anger and frustration against the military rulers who are proving to be as ruthless as the former regime,’ writes Sokari Ekine.
Four months on, Egypt’s euphoria of 11 February has turned to anger and frustration against the military rulers who are proving to be as ruthless as the former regime. In response, hundreds of thousands of people began returning to Tahrir Square on Friday 8 July, to refocus on the direction of the revolution and to reiterate their demands for justice. This time too, even the Muslim Brotherhood have felt it necessary to show their presence.
‘The July 8 demo is looking like it could be big. Originally scheduled to deliver a ‘constitution first’ message, tomorrow's demo is now as much about demands for justice, outrage over recent acquittals of Mubarak-era ministers and the mistreatment of martyrs' families (with officers accused of shooting protesters let out on bail and their cases postponed recently)
‘The Muslim Brotherhood -- which has avoided recent protests, even going so far as to call protesters "traitors" -- has apparently had to fall in line with the popular mood (and its younger cadres' demands, most probably), and announced it will officially be participating. So will a lot of others, despite the tension and anxiety in the air these days. On twitter, at the fokakmenahlak ("split from your family") tag, young revolutionaries are sharing advice on how to get around over-protective parents and make it to Tahrir.’
The ‘split from your family’ is representative of the many fractures appearing in this attempted reincarnation of those glorious days in February. Then there was one voice, one purpose – to remove Mubarak. Then being Egyptian was simple. Now there are dozens of political parties, civil society groups and various alliances of activists all with their own ideas on the shape of a new Egypt and how it will be achieved. This was highlighted in a number of Twitter comments and conversations last week. @Zaynabon’s comment which was retweeted three times, reflects some generational differences:
@zaynabon: ‘Dad says protestors are trying to create a schism in Egyptian society, and eventually will hurt themselves b/c general public sick of them.’
The generational differences are echoed by @Zeinobia: ‘This revolution includes also a clash between generations, this is another part of our problem here’.
I doubt this is anything new as there were always those who were disturbed by the majority position. Of more concern was Leil Zahara’s comment on the ‘intellectual elite thinking for us and in our best interest’. This was followed by an extended exchange between @Alaa (Alaa Abd El Fattah) and @Gsquare86 (Gigi Ibrahim) over a meeting and why some people were not informed or only informed after the fact. Although I and many other readers are not privy to the details of actions taken, the conversation appeared to question decisions and procedures. It is worth pointing out that not only did this conversation take place in a public space, but that those involved were comfortable enough for this to happen which speaks to a willingness to be transparent even when it might be seen to be airing one’s dirty laundry in public.
In another set of tweets, Leil Zahara refers to the hostility towards street vendors many of whom had been accused of trouble making and collusion with the army. She connects that with the planned ‘Sharaf Tweet Up’ (face 2 face meeting of tweeters) which doesn’t seem to have gone down well with a number of tweeters
LeilZahra: Leil-Zahra Mortada & guess what, Om Ali who sells tea & got kicked out from #Tahrirtoday also doesn't give a fuck about #SharafTweetUp or all of your egos! 13 Jul
LeilZahra: Leil-Zahra Mortada I bet u Ahmad the street kid that sleeps next to our tent knows nothin about #SharafTweetUp nor give a shit about elite masturbation #Tahrir
Another twitter event is being organised for 26 July is the ‘TweetBack’ which will include some of Egypt’s most ‘notable tweeters and bloggers’. Sandmonkey explains:
‘The initiative is the first of its kind and aims to give back to Egypt by utilizing the power of social media at the time when the country is in most need of the support of companies and individuals such as yourselves. I think you’ll also find this interesting due to the novelty of the idea and the immense value it can add to your company’s perception and reputation.
“tweetback” is Egypt’s first social media-driven humanitarian fundraising initiative to support popular endeavors that aim to effect real change in the lives of Egyptians. **’
‘The tweetback is inviting companies foundations and charities to pledge donations to select NGOs. In return tweeters will announce the contributions to their network of followers....
‘In lead up to the event, the tweeps will do what they do best: create buzz about the initiative among their collective 250,000+ followers. They will also be on hand at the event to provide live updates about the donors at hashtag #tweetback.’
There are so many wonderful and creative innovations coming out of Egypt – new ways of using technologies for activism, art, poetry, ideas and journalism. Amongst the thousands of protesters and activist in Tahrir Square artists and writers have been documenting the revolution through graffiti and poetry. The Arabist publishes three poems by by Egyptian poet Kareem Abdulsalam. This first one reminds us of the days when the army were friends of the revolution.
What Comes From a Cop
Armored cars Boxes of perfected fear. We thought they were divine creatures come to crush us as native Americans first looked at horses. We thought death itself sprang from them.
Armored car Went up in flames And the policeman inside struggled against the tongues of fire Fought against fear.
When we rescued him, He joined the rebellion.
From Arabawy, here are some photos of graffit and artists at work
Ahmad Nady is an comic artist and cartoonist, has been in Tahrir from the beginning where he was beaten up several times by members of the ‘Popular Committees’. He started drawing to fill in the many empty hours.
‘Other than that, when I returned to Tahrir Square we had a lot of time sitting and waiting there so I started drawing. This attracted people who gathered to look at what I was doing with interest. So I started brainstorming with them and then I would pick the idea I like and develop it and draw it. At other times I would draw a cartoon and ask the people to suggest comments and then I would write the best comment. Then I would ask people to clap and all this made of it a fun show. Outside the square I also started posting political articles and begin discussions of political issues on my Facebook page’
No to trying poor people in military courts!
(Officer on horse: So that you stop pretending that you are a tough man.
Man being dragged: But I thought there was a revolution!)
The Rolling Bulb – new ideas in journalism is an exciting, refreshing website with a mix of art, popular culture, writing and technology – a kind of ‘pop revolutionary’ space.
Each of the contributors has their own blog and each one is a treasure of writing, art and photography. One idea they raise is that of a popular roadmap for Egypt. This would be achieved through a questionnaire starting with Tahrir Square and eventually replicated in every city and town.
‘These questionnaires can be distributed to Tahrir-goers as they enter the square, with ballot boxes placed centrally in plain view to deposit your filled out questionnaire. At the end of the day of protest, we would have won more than our angst and dissatisfaction with the powers that be, and would have gained valuable insight that may very well change the course and direction of our revolution.
‘A policy booklet will then be compiled using the data gathered, entirely based on the input of a wide spectrum of Egyptian people who usually show up at Tahrir: different ages, classes, educational backgrounds, cultures, etc.
‘And if the concept proves a success, it can be replicated throughout other cities, villages, and towns in Egypt.
‘Our revolution is not only backed by the voice of dissent & feelings of dissatisfaction, but it is also backed by hardcore knowledge and understanding. This in time will inevitably win more people, who may have not trusted the revolutionaries before, to our just cause.’
In Tahrir Square: the strengths and weaknesses of a nation, Gazeer recounts some of the conversations in the early days of Tahrir:
‘The second wave of protests have met with some response from the government for example, the military may agree to elections in November instead of the original date of September giving everyone more time to prepare; the draft electoral law has been finalised and includes enabling parties to put women at the top of the list but does away with the women’s quota; the PM is “said” to be negotiating the terms of a cabinet reshuffle and could include a reshuffle of governors; nearly 600 police generals have been retired and redeployment of some 4000 officials in the Ministry of Interior; promises have been made to televise the court proceedings in the trials of former members of the regime. (The Arabist). The list of demands are as follows:
1) The immediate release of all civilians who have been sentenced by military court and their retrial before civilian courts. Military trials for civilians are to be totally banned.
2) A special court should be established to try those implicated in the killing of protesters and all implicated police officers are to be suspended immediately.
3) The sacking of the current minister of the interior and his replacement by a political civilian appointee, to be followed by declaration of a plan and time table for the full restructuring of the Ministry of the Interior, placing it under judicial oversight.
4) The sacking of the current Prosecutor General and the appointment of a well respected figure in his place.
5) Putting Mubarak and the members of his clique on trial for the political crimes they committed against Egypt and its people.
6) Revoking the current budget and the drawing up of a new draft budget that courageously acts to respond to the basic demands of the nation’s poor, and putting that draft budget to public debate before its adoption.
7) Clear and open delineation of the prerogatives of the Supreme Military Council in ways that do not infringe on the powers and prerogatives of the cabinet of ministers. The Prime Ministers should have full powers to appoint his aides and the members of his cabinet, once that cabinet is purged of the remnants of the old regime.
8) The immediate release of all civilians who have been sentenced by military court and their retrial before civilian courts. Military trials for civilians are to be totally banned.
9) A special court should be established to try those implicated in the killing of protesters and all implicated police officers are to be suspended immediately.
10) The sacking of the current minister of the interior and his replacement by a political civilian appointee, to be followed by declaration of a plan and time table for the full restructuring of the Ministry of the Interior, placing it under judicial oversight.
11) The sacking of the current Prosecutor General and the appointment of a well respected figure in his place.
12) Putting Mubarak and the members of his clique on trial for the political crimes they committed against Egypt and its people.
13) Revoking the current budget and the drawing up of a new draft budget that courageously acts to respond to the basic demands of the nation’s poor, and putting that draft budget to public debate before its adoption.
14) Clear and open delineation of the prerogatives of the Supreme Military Council in ways that do not infringe on the powers and prerogatives of the cabinet of ministers. The Prime Ministers should have full powers to appoint his aides and the members of his cabinet, once that cabinet is purged of the remnants of the old regime.’
Finally, here is a reflective report from a young Zimbabwean lawyer and human rights activist, Rumbidzai Dube ,who is presently serving an internship with the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies. In her introduction in which she states ‘I wish my life were different’, I believe Rumbidzai expresses the collective sentiment of millions of Africans who have experienced repression from their respective governments as well as the tyranny of western imperialism and corporate capitalism.
‘The reason I wish my life were different is that I hate the negativity attached to these identities that make my life more difficult than it should be. As a Zimbabwean I face repression from my own government. We cannot express ourselves freely, assemble freely, associate freely and choose who we want to govern us freely. As an African our nations are subjected to global politics characterized by the paradox of “equal” nations yet some are “more equal than others.” This has caused untold suffering, particularly, to the African peoples through skewed negotiations on climate change. We constantly fight the war on the patenting of life saving drugs as against free and easy access to medicines. We are victims of conflicts fuelled by the availability of arms and weapons supplied by developed nations, the so called “War economies.” As a black person I am constantly made to feel I need to measure up to something. I still have not figured out what that something is since I certainly do not feel I am lacking in any respect. As for my struggle as woman, that cannot be told in this short space. I will leave it for another day and forum.”
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS