Structural vs. Cultural violence

In Egypt we had a pretty nasty form of structural violence that was embodied in the state’s massive bureaucracy, and web of interests that surround it. It was nasty, inefficient, and very corrupt. The revolution attempted to call for end to that violence and was still taking baby steps in trying to find a more human replacement. The magical eighteen days in Tahrir in early 2011 saw a wonderful experiment where people were trying to create a new reality and a new order, they were trying out new ways of dealing with others…gentler and sweeter ways.

Before anything they were attempting came to fruition, they were faced with cultural violence by Islamists. The Islamists claimed divine authority and were naturally bent on extinguishing all experimentation as they viewed them as silly and futile. They had their perfect ways and had no need for those where reaching out for something nobler…yet without history laden labels or structures of power. The Islamists attempted assimilate the machinery of structural violence in their arsenal of cultural warfare.

As soon as the horrors of their designs became clear to the vast majority of Egyptian, a revolt ensued. Tragically, since June 30th, 2013  no alternative means were found to supplant either forms oppression. One thing is patently clear, most Egyptians would opt for the familiar and impersonal structural violence that they had suffered  for decades, than to give a chance for Islamist cultural violence to run its course…democratic process be damned.


Why will I Vote a Reluctant “yes” to the Proposed 2013 Constitution

I will be voting “yes” on the next constitutional referendum. It will be a vote with limited enthusiasm and excitement. It comes about from a painful analysis of the sorry state Egypt is now in. My aspirations for a post revolutionary Egypt remain much higher.

My concern is that the alternative to a positive outcome of the referendum are a great deal more grim. The way I see it, we have three options on the menu:

1. A very hard-core Islamist constitution that will be regressive and anachronistic if the MB or their ilk rise again to power…a “no” will make that more probable.

2. The 2012 constitution which already included military trials (the most abhorrent part in the new constitution), but missing out on many of the good points with regards to freedom of belief and minority rights in the proposed constitution

3. The 1972 constitution which gives the president completely unchecked powers. i.e. full regression to the pre 2011 state.

Escaping the sad fate of 1 makes 2 or 3 (or some mix of the two) very likely . I do not see a fourth option. The revolutionary idealists never managed to organize themselves politically over the last 3 years. Beyond making moral statements, and standing for what they believe is right, their sacrifices have been well exploited by many parasites.

The proposed constitution is still a small victory for the civil and progressive camp. A beach head, that I hope they will be able to expand upon later. The alternative is to risk domination by the Islamists, in which case society will come to complete stasis and no progress will be possible except via an all out civil war.  Although the military will continue to play an active role in Egyptian politics in the coming years, with some hard work and a bit of luck we  might be able to gradually contain and limit their influence. With the Islamists our chances of doing that is zero.



The trouble with our right brained revolution

In Ian McGilchrist’s master piece “The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World” a brilliant exposition is made of the functional divisions of the brain, but more importantly between two modes of experiencing the world that are often in conflict with each other. The right hemisphere with it focus on synthesis and connection on the broadest universal sense and the left hemisphere with its focus on breaking things up and narrow attention. That conflict is beautifully captured in a fable (attributed to Nietzsche) the goes

There was one a wise spiritual master, who was the ruler of a small but prosperous domain, and who was known for his selfless devotion to his people. As his people flourished and grew in number, the bounds of this small domain spread; and it with it the need to trust implicit the emissaries he sent to ensure the safety of it ever more distant parts. It was not just that it was impossible for him personally to order all that needed to be dealt with: as he wisely saw, he needed to keep his distance from, and remain ignorant of, such concerns. And so he nurtured and trained carefully his emissaries, in order that they could be trusted. Eventually, however, his cleverest and most ambitious vizier, the one he most trusted to do his work, began to see himself as the master, and used his position to advance his own wealth and influence. He saw his master’s temperance and forbearance as weakness, not wisdom, and on his mission on the the master’s behalf, adopted his mantle as his own – the emissary became contemptuous of his master. And so it came about that the master was usurped, the people were duped, the domain became a tyranny; and eventually it collapsed in ruins.

The master (right hemisphere) has been usurped by the emissary (left hemisphere), such has been the tragedy of our times. We live in “[a]n increasingly mechanistic, fragmented, decontextualised word, marked by unwarranted optimism mixed with paranoia and a feeling of emptiness”. It is a case of a “dysfunctional left hemisphere” dominating our experience of the world  

The impetus of the Egyptian revolution as I experienced it, was clearly of the right brained variety. There were no plan,  script, or grand idea that roused noble passions. It was, as McGilchrist would put it “essentially involv[ing] a certain disposition, the disposition to experience sorrow at the other’s misfortune… To be just is to be disturbed by injustice. Pain, suffering, and the loss of pleasure, then, sometimes constitute who we are and what we value. They are essentially woven into our deepest commitments. As reasons flow from our deepest commitments, we will sometimes have non-instrumental reason to suffer.”

It was the pain and suffering that we experienced during the revolution that made many of us feel  more human, more willing sacrifice our physical being for something with a touch of the divine. Something electrified our right hemispheres and awaken in us a fresh, yet somewhat latent, vision of reality. What that “something” is? Words fail at capturing it. It feels to me that the attempt to describe it would limit it, defile it, and cheapen it.  This is beautifully put by McGilchrist

Making things explicit is the equivalent of focusing on the workings, at the expense of the work, the medium at the expense of the message. Once opaque, the plane of attention is in the wrong place, as it we focused on the mechanics of the play, not on the substance of the play itself; or on the plane of the canvas, not what is seen there. 

Yes, we cried in Tahrir for “bread, freedom, and social justice”, but the words have since been prey to demagogic abuse and political manipulation. It was the process, the mechanism, the prime cause that gave rise to those words and a myriad of creative expressions in Tahrir we should have protected and preserved. We now seems to be chasing phantoms of that humanizing force. Mere shadows, distortions, and reflections and not the pure light itself.

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the 23 July revolution. A purely left brained affair. Young officers planned, schemed, and calculated to maximize their personal self-interest. The young officers lacked little in terms of rational ability. They often fumbled, but their rational motives were always clear. Their drive to dominate was a purely selfish affair, no empathy, no love of other, and no altruism. The current ruling Junta (SCAF) are a byproduct of the earlier revolution. We rose against those mechanical men, who can only conceive of a world were people are spurs and gears in a diabolical machines of their construction. Devoid of creative abilities their machines jammed and broke down and yet they continue to fix them. They are prisoners of their hackneyed mental constructions.

Many who truly witnessed the revolution of 2011 still believe in their hearts that another world is possible. It was a world that they had a glimpse of in the 18 days following January 25, 2011. But it is also a world that they failed to protect. The rise of Islamists now represents yet an another manifestation of the lifeless and mechanical vision of the world. Yet, it is far more insidious. It makes appeals to that which gives meaning and beauty to the lives of many. In its ascent it will lay barren fertile fields of human values. Religion, like many things that are of crucial importance to our human existence

…cannot withstand being too closely attended to, since their nature is to be indirect or implicit. Forcing them into explicitness changes their nature completely, so that in such cases what we come to think we know ‘certainly’ is in fact not truly known at all. Too much self-awarness destroys not just spontaneity, but the quality that makes things live; …. religious devotion [can hence] become  mechanical, lifeless, and may grind to a half if we are too self-aware.

With each passing day, I feel the memory of the early days in Tahrir ebbing away. The sublime beauty of the experience is giving way self-doubt and disbelief. The noise of the immediate is becoming overbearing. A noise that captures the attention of the left brain. Through innumerable logical (yet mostly fake and self-serving) contraptions the limits of what is possible are being drawn. How will our right brained revolution survive as its pathos gradually slips away from mass consciousness? 

In the absence of truly inspired artists, all that will remain will be some slogans with continually diminishing potency, as smattering of confused ideological posturing, and dreams that can not “be make explicit” lost in the detritus of time.

I can only pray that the following statement will hold true: “The spirit grows, [and] strength is restored, by wounding”

Increscunt animi, virescit volnere virtus

Terminate the Ultras with extreme prejudice

Yesterday 74 Egyptians died in a football stadium in the city of Port Said. International media presents this as a case of football hooliganism gone out of control, as David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times puts it:

The deadliest soccer riot anywhere in more than 15 years, it also illuminated the potential for savagery among the organized groups of die-hard fans known here as ultras who have added a volatile element to the street protests since Mr. Mubarak’s exit.

The fact that they played a role during the revolution (and still do) is mentioned as a footnote:

The ultras joined the revolt against Mr. Mubarak on the first day of protests, taunting and harassing the police as they tried to crack down on thousands of other marchers heading for Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Protest organizers said that they had played a more central role in the “battle of the camels,” helping to beat back mobs of Mubarak supporters in a daylong battle of rocks and gasoline bombs.

The ultras maybe not be saints, but something does not sit quite well with me with that sort of reporting. I probably owe life and limb to the ultras who defended me and other protesters during the toughest days of the revolution. The ultras were always the calvary during protests. When goings got tough, the ultras were there and they were steadfast and unflinching in the face of brutality. They never tried to milk their heroism and bravery for political gain, or attribute any small victory to their efforts alone, as the Islamists often do. The ultras may not be philosophical or articulate, and they do not have political agenda, but they fully believed in the just cause of the revolution. They are youth who fight their sense of disenfranchisement by strong camaraderie and love of their football team. During the revolution their sense of camaraderie expanded to the rest of the protesters. It was not uncommon for ultras from competing football teams to fight side by side against those who were attacking the protesters. Since Mubarak’s exit they have took part in battles that were many time more fearsome than the “battle of the camels”. Though their behavior may appear rowdy to some, I can not but feel love and respect for them. 

The tragedy in Port Said stadium must be the worst in the history of Egyptian football. What happened there can not properly be interpreted without putting it in the larger context of what has been going on in Egypt. The Al-Ahly club utras have been very supportive of the recent calls for the military junta to step and hand over control to civilian leadership.  As recent as Saturday in match they rocked the stadium with their chants that are roughly translated to:

Oh you MPs
You turned out to be more rotten than the Police
Raise the prison walls higher and higher
Tomorrow the revolution with lay them to waste
Oh brother, write on the cell wall
Junta rule is shameful and treasonous
Down Down with Junta rule!
Police are thugs…Police are thugs
I hear a mother of martyr crying  “Junta dogs killed my son”
Down Down with Junta rule!
Down Down with Junta rule!

The circumstances of what happened in that stadium yesterday are incredibly conspicuous. The “fans” of opposing team, after a 3-1 victory on Al-Ahly club, attack the losing side with viciousness, this has never happened before! The ultras of Al-Ahly had no escape as the all exists were blocked my the military police. The lights of the stadium were turned off, thereby increasing the panic in the ranks of the ultras. Those who were beaten senseless were stripped off their shirts and their belongings stolen. All this while hundreds of riot police stood by and watched!

Later on, Field Marshal Tantawi sent a military plane to pick up  Al-Ahly players and after greeting them he remarked ,“How come the people of Egypt are complacent about those who foment violence? ” Many saw this statement as a tacit admission that the state has no role in insuring safety of its citizens, others saw this as an invitation for civil war or a “battle of the camels, part II” !

Many Egyptians now believe that somewhere in the echelons of power, an order must have been given to …

Terminate the Ultras with extreme prejudice!


Tensions in Tahrir: The Islamists and the Revolution

Last Friday, at the famous Mostafa Mahmoud mosque in Mohandseen, the preacher was stressing the importance of unity in his sermon. Later on, he elaborated that we should be patient with the new government and give it a decent chance to achieve our aspirations, and that we should work with the “ruling authorities” for the good of the country. While he mentioned those words, I could not but help see the muted anger on the faces of many. As soon as the prayer where over, the mosque was rocking with the chant “down down with the junta’s rule“. The march to Tahrir then commenced, and it was orderly, peaceful, powerful, and glorious.

A year has passed since the Egyptian revolution began and despite the departure of familiar faces, the same old is system is very much intact. It just needed a bit of time to find construct a new rhetoric, exercise control on the media, and rebuilt is monstrous machinery of oppression. A year after the revolution, the economy is in tatters and the life of the average Egyptian is much harder. The security forces have shown increasing viciousness at curbing protests, but only marginal “improvement” in protecting life and property.   The marchers to Tahrir believe that this system still must  be fully dismantled and that could not happen while the ruling junta, aka SCAF, remained in power.  

However, Tahrir was not the marchers alone. The Islamists had been camping out there since Wednesday the 25th of January, not to demand anything in particular, but the to celebrate the “achievements” of the revolution. The Islamists, had a great to deal to celebrate. After having been marginalized, thrown in jail, and discriminated against for a very long time, they now have a parliamentary majority. Their spokespersons often imply that after the parliamentary elections all manners of protests are meaningless. They reason that since the people now have elected representatives, they should quite down and let parliament do its business. To many Islamists, voting means not just delegation by the citizenry in matter of politics, but fulling surrendering one’s political will to that of the elected representatives. The Islamists like to portray protesters as a threat to democracy, a sort of a mob dictatorship standing in the way of the will of the majority. Their ploy at “celebration” in Tahrir as far as I tell, was nothing more than an attempt show that they can “control” that symbolic square and that they could muster numbers that would would dwarf any non-Islamist gathering. That plan went awry.

The turnout by the non-Islamist (a mix of liberals, leftists, and the ideologically neutral) was phenomenal on the 25th and also the 27th. As we entered Tahrir and crescendo of anti-SCAF chants peaked. The Muslim Brotherhood (MB), who have built a gigantic stage in Tahrir, have been for the past couple of days playing 50’s and 60’s era patriotic songs, many of them idolizing the army. Their “control” tactic as this point was to pump up the volume to the max to drown out the chants. When this tactic failed, they started playing the Quran and asked the protesters to quite down to respect the recitation of the holy verses. That highly cynical use of religion made the protesters more furious and many started waving their shoes at the stage in a manner reminiscent to how Mubark’s last speech was received.  Scuffles ensued, at which point prominent MB members started to chant (for the first time) against military rule. The protesters responded by chanting “hypocrites”. Many, on both sides, managed to “cool things down” to avoid a violent escalation that could have spiraled out of hand.

Drunk with new power, and obsessed with consolidating it, the MB (and Islamists in general) have successfully managed to fully alienate those were like brothers to them a year ago. Most protester can only interpret the Islamists’ behavior as reeking of dishonesty and betrayal. An increasing number of Egyptians are now growing immune to self-serving political agendas being piggybacked on religion. The revolution continues….


Democracy a’ la SCAF

As I write these lines, members of the first “post-revolutionary” parliament are being sworn in. Most TV stations are calling it the “revolution’s parliament”. The process of democratic transition is almost complete. We should be seeing a new president being sworn in a six months or so, and we should be well on our way to becoming the largest democracy in the Arab world. The Islamists now dominate parliament, and that should take the sting out of their bitterness after decades of marginalization. A casual observer of international news would conclude that the world now is  safer and more stable, with freedom and justice for all. A cause for celebration? Not really.

We have endured decades of faux democracy and many of us are smelling the familiar stench of oppression in the air. I am not trying to imply here that the Islamists will be the new oppressors (although that is not entirely unlikely) or that Egypt is on its way to become another Iran, Afghanistan, or Iraq. Egypt is subject to a different set of dynamic forces that will push it along its own peculiar trajectory. Historical analogies are of little value in our current situation.

The ruling junta, or the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) have made many statements where they declared that they have little interest in power. They often repeated that they would like to be honest custodians of democratic transition. Many believe that to be a lie.  Scratch a bit beneath the surface and  many unsavory facts start to ooze out:

  • There are over ten thousand Egyptians who are locked up in prison after  kangaroo (aka military) trials, while the ones involving Mubarak and his coterie are proceeding at a snail’s pace. Those thousands are placed in military prison facilities that are beyond dreadful.
  • Activist and groups the where at the forefront of the revolution are being targeted by SCAF. Some of the have been imprisoned, others “temporarily detained”.
  • Many of the families of the martyrs of the revolution are left without any form of support despite promises to the contrary. Many of the wounded have been denied proper medical care.
  • Many of the wounded and the families of the fallen have been subject to threats and have been offered “blood money” to stay hush about all the atrocities the have been committed.
  • SCAF had conducted a Goebbelsian propaganda war against protesters, shifting the blame on them for all the ills of the country and accusing them of being agents of unidentified foreign powers. 
  • Coptic Christians and have been subject to numerous attacks on their houses of worship. The perpetrators of the attacks were seldom prosecuted. Thirty protesters were killed during  a peaceful demonstration against this injustice. Furthermore, the SCAF controlled media incited violence against the Copts during the protests.
  • Protesters have been dragged into violent confrontation with security forces in November and December, resulting in the death of over fifty five and the maiming of countless hundreds.
  • All SCAF promises for a swift investigation of abuses by security forces since Feb 2011 have been reneged.
  • No serious effort has been put in chasing Egypt’s billions that have been siphoned by the ruling cleptocracy.
  • Thanks to SCAF appointments almost all the mayors of Egypt’s governorates are either ex-military or ex-police.
  • Over the past ten month many key position in various ministries have been taken up by ex-military men.
  • It is becoming patently obvious that SCAF never wants to be held accountable to the people. It will meddle with the process of “democratic transition” to achieve that end.
  • Electoral law prohibits the use of religious slogans in political campaigning, but the rules were flaunted by the Islamists with SCAF’s apparent blessing. The Islamists relied heavily on their platform in the mosques for political campaigning. This reeks of “special deals”.
  • In Feb 2011, SCAF promised a swift plan for full democratic transition with a deadline of six months. They are six months behind schedule and the date for “full” handover may even slip if not for the continued pressure for the protestors.
  • And Finally, members of parliament are swearing to uphold and protect an ambiguous constitution (there are doubts if it is SCAF’s constitutional declaration, the seemingly defunct/amended 1971 constitution, or the one they will help draft).

We will not settle for nothing but genuine democracy. We can not build the foundations of a new Egypt on lies and deception. The revolution continues.


النص الكامل لشهادة المشير

اختراقا لحظر نشر نصوص الشهادات ننشر شهادة المشير .. برجاء المساهمة فى النشر
*ملحوظة : منقول من مصدره 
س١ : حصل اجتماع يوم 22 يناير، هل ورد إلي رئيس الجمهورية السابق ما دار في  هذا الاجتماع وما أسفر عنه وما كان مردوده ؟
ج1 : الاجتماع كان برئاسة رئيس الوزراء واعتقد أننه بلغ
س2 : بداية من أحداث 25 يناير وحتي 11 فبراير هل تم اجتماع بينك وبين الرئيس السابق حسني مبارك ؟
ج2 : ليست اجتماعات مباشرة ولكن يوم 28 يناير لما أخذنا الأمر من السيد رئيس الجمهورية كان هناك اتصالات بيني وبين السيد الرئيس 
س3: ما الذي أبداه رئيس الجمهورية في هذه اللقاءءات ؟
ج3: اللقاءات بيننا كانت تتم لمعرفة موقف القوات المسلحة خاصة يوم 28 وعندما كلفت القوات المسلحة للنزول للبلد ومساعدة الشرطة لتنفيذ مهامها كان هناك تخطيط مسبق للقوات المسلحة وهذا التخطيط يهدف لنزول القوات المسلحة مع الشرطة وهذه الخطة تتدرب عليها القوات المسلحة القوات المسلحة بتنزل لما الشرطة تكون محتاجة المساعدة وعدم قدرتها على تنفيذ مهامها وأعطى الرئيش الأمر لقائد القوات المسلحة اللي هي نزول القوات المسلحة لتأمين المنشآت الحيوية وهذا ما حدث

س4 : هل وجه رئيس الجمهورية السابق المتهم محمد حسني مبارك أوامر إلي وزير الداخلية حبيب العادلي باستعمال قوات الشرطة القوة ضد المتظاهرين استعمال قوات الشرطة القوة ضد المزاهرين بما فيها استخدام الاسلحة الخرطوش والنارية من 25 يناير حتى 28 يناير؟
ج4 : ليس لدي معلومات عن هذا واعتقد ان هذا لم يحدث

س5 : هل ترك رئيس الجمهورية السابق للمتهمين المذكورين من أساليب لمواجهة الموقف ؟
 ج5 : ليس لدي معلومات
س6: هل ورد أو وصل إلي علم سيادتك معلومات أو تقارير عن كيفية معاملة رجال الشرطة ؟
ج6 : هذا ما يخص الشرطة وتدريبها ولكني أعلم ان فض المظاهرات بدون استخدام النيران
س7 : هل رصدت الجهات المعنية بالقوات المسلحة وجود قناصة استعانت بها قوات الشرطة في الأحداث التي جرت؟
ج7 : ليس لدي معلومات
س8 : تبين من التحقيقات إصابة ووفاة العديد من المتظاهرين بطلقات خرطوش أحدثت إصابات ووفيات..هل وصل ذلك الأمر لعلم سيادتك وبم تفسر ؟
ج8: إنا معنديش معلومات بكده.. الاحتمالات كتير لكن مفيش معلومة عندي
س9 : هل تعد قوات الشرطة بمفردها هي المسئولة دون غيرها عن إحداث إصابات ووفيات بعض المتظاهرين ؟
ج9 : إنا معرفش ايه اللي حصل
س10 : هل تستطيع سيادتك تحديد هل كانت هناك عناصر أخري تدخلت ؟
ج10 : هيا معلومات غير مؤكدة بس اعتقد ان هناك عناصر تدخلت
س11 : وما هي تلك العناصر ؟
ج11 : ممكن تكون عناصر خارجة عن القانون
س12 : هل ورد لمعلومات سيادتك ان هناك عناصر اجنبية قد تدخلت ؟
ج12 : ليس لدي معلومات مؤكدة ولكن ده احتمال موجود
س13 : وعلي وجه العموم هل يتدخل الرئيس وفقا لسلطته في ان يحافظ علي أمن وسلامة الوطن في إصدار أوامر أو تكليفات في كيفية التعامل ؟
ج13 : رئيس الجمهورية ممكن يكون أصدر أوامر – طبعا من حقه ولكن كل شئ له  تقييده المسبق وكل واحد عارف مهامه
س14 : ولمن يصدر رئيس الجمهورية علي وجه العموم هذه الأوامر ؟
ج 14 : التكليفات معروف مين ينفذها ولكن من الممكن ان رئيس الجمهورية يعطي تكليفات مفيش شك
س15 : وهل يجب قطعا علي من تلقي أمر تنفيذه مهما كانت العواقب ؟
ج15 : طبعا يتم النقاش والمنفذ يتناقش مع رئيس الجمهورية وإذا كانت الأوامر مصيرية لازم يناقشه
س16: هل يعد رئيس الجمهورية السابق المتهم محمد حسني مبارك مسئول مسئولية مباشرة أو منفردة مع من نفذ أمر التعامل مع ألمتظاهرين الصادر منه شخصيا
ج16 : إذا كان أصدر هذا الأمر وهو التعامل باستخدام النيران أنا اعتقد ان المسئولية تكون مشتركة وأنا معرفش ان كان أعطي هذا الأمر أم لا
س17: وهل تعلم ان رئيس الجمهورية السابق كان علي علم من مصادره بقتل المتظاهرين ؟
 ج17: يسأل في ذلك مساعديه الذين ابلغوه هل هو علي علم أم لا
س18: وهل تعلم سيادتكم ان رئيس الجمهورية السابق قد تدخل بأي صورة كانت لوقف نزيف المصابين ؟
ج18 : اعتقد انه تدخل وأعطي قرار بالتحقيق فيما حدث وعملية القتل وطلب تقريروهذه معلومات
س19: هل تستطيع علي سبيل القطع والجزم واليقين تحديد مدي مسئولية رئيس الجمهورية السابق عن التداعيات التي أدت إلي إصابة وقتل المتظاهرين ؟
ج19 : هذه مسئولية جهات التحقيق
س20: هل يحق وفقا لخبرة سيادتكم ان يتخذ وزير الداخلية وعلي وجه العموم ما يراه هو منفردا من اجراءات ووسائل وخطط لمواجهة التظاهرات دون العرض على رئيس الجمهورية ؟
ج20: اتخاذ الاجراءات تكون مخططة ومعروف لدي الكل في وزارة الداخلية ولكن في جميع الحالات يعطيه خبر بما يخص المظاهرات ولكن التظاهر وفضه هى خطة وتدريب موجود فى وزارة الداخلية
س21 : وهل اتخذ حبيب العادلي قرار مواجهة التظاهر بما نجم عنه من إصابات ووفيات بمفرده بمساعدة المتهمين الاخرين في الدعوى المنظورة وذلك من منظور ما وصل لعلم سيادتك ؟
ج21: معنديش علم بذلك
س22 : علي فرض إذا ما وصلك تداعيات التظاهرات يوم 28 يناير إلي استخدام قوات الشرطة آليات مثل اطلاق مقذوفات نارية أو استخدام السيارت لدهس المتظاهرين .. هل كان أمر استعمالها يصدر من حبيب العادلى ومساعديه بمفردهم؟
ج 22 : ما أقدرش أحدد اللي حصل أيه ولكن ممكن هو اللى اتخذها وأنا ما أعرفش واللى اتخذها مسئول عنها
س23: هل يصدق القول تحديداً وبما لا يدع مجالاً للشك أو الريبة أن رئيس الجمهورية السابق لا يعلم شيئاً أو معلومات أيا كانت عن تعامل الشرطة  بمختلف قواتها أو أنه لم يوجه إلى الأول سمة أوامر أو تعليمات بشأن التعامل والغرض أنه هو الموكل إليه شئون مصر والحفاظ على أمنها ؟
ج23 : أنا ما أعرفش اللى حصل أيه لكن أعتقد إن وزير الداخلية بيبلغ وممكن ما يكونش مش عارف بس أنا ما أعرفش
س24 : هل هناك اصابات أو وفيات لضباط الجيش ؟
ج 24 : نعم هناك شهداء
س25 : هل تعاون وزير الداخلية مع القوات المسلحة لتأمين المظاهرات ؟
ج 25 : لأ
س26 : هل أبلغت بفقد ذخائر خاصة بالقوات المسلحة؟
ج26: مفيش حاجة ضاعت لكن هناك بعض الخسائر في المعدات واتصلحت ومفيش مشكلة
س27: هل أبلغت بدخول عناصر من حماس أو حزب الله عبر الأنفاق أو غيرها لإحداث إضرابات ؟
ج27 : هذا الموضوع لم يحدث أثناء المظاهرات واحنا بنقاوم الموضوع ده واللي بنكتشفه بندمره وإذا كان فيه حد محول لمحكمة فهذا ليس أثناء المظاهرات
س28: هل تم القبض على عناصر أجنبية في ميدان التحرير وتم إحالتهم للنيابة العسكرية ؟
ج28: لا ..لم يتم القاء القبض على أى أحد
س29: فى الاجتماع الذي تم يوم 20 يناير هل تم اتخاذ قرار بقطع الاتصالات؟
ج29 : لم يحدث
س30: بعض اللواءات قالوا طلب منا فض المظاهرات بالقوة..هل طلب من القوات المسلحة التدخل لذلك ؟
ج30: أنا قلت فى كلية الشرطة في تخريج الدفعة إن أنا بأقول للتاريخ إن أي أحد من القوات المسلحة لن يستخدم النيران ضد الشعب

The ghosts of 9/11 and the art of management by crises

I write this reflecting on the tumultuous events of September 9 and its aftermath in Egypt. Those events and their repercussions occurred around  the anniversary of the cowardly attack on the US that occurred 10 year ago. Though my focus is strictly on Egypt’s struggle for freedom and democracy, I can not but feel the ghosts of that catastrophic event still haunt us. Perhaps “haunt” is not the right word, one gets the sense that there are actives and intentional force from this dimension of existences that are pulling certain strings to push towards certain outcomes.

Prelude to the September 9 demonstrations in Egypt
Popular discontent has been on rise for a while, key factors are:
  1. Twelve thousands civilians have been tried before military courts and issued summary verdicts without proper due process. 
  2. A sizable fraction of those thousands were put in prison for being in demonstrations, or for expressing there opinion in a manner not to the likely of the country’s leadership. 
  3. No clear schedule for the elections or a clear plan for handover of powers to democratic forces. 
  4. Many of the economic demands of the revolution have either been ignored, or unfulfilled promises have been made. 
  5. Reported cases of continued  abuses of power by the ministry of interior (MOI), and no clear plans for reform of the ministry that most people regard as a instrument of political repression. 
  6. The events of September 7 where many thousands of football fans where brutally attacked, chased through the streets and many incarcerated for chanting against the police during a match. 
  7. The trial of Mubarak and his buddies that seem to be proceeding at a snail’s pace. This stands in sharp contrast with civilians being given summary justice and sentences to long prison terms. 
  8. Curbs of freedom of expression and the media.
  9. The killing of five Egyptian soldiers at our borders in Sinai by Israeli forces who were engaged in hunting down terrorists involved in a attack on there soil. The Israeli gunships violated Egyptian airspace and killed our men. If this were to happen anywhere, it would be considered an act of war, with serious repercussions. The ruling SCAF treated the whole situation as a non-event, and were content with Israel’s expression of regret (it was too much, it seems, for Israeli officials to offer an apology).This was quite injurious to Egyptian national pride and started a number of protest outside the Embassy. SCAF completely ignored this demonstration (as is becoming the fashion of late). The reporting of these events by the NYTimes leaves much to be desired
The ghosts of 9/11 in Tahrir
The atmosphere in the early hours of Friday in Tahrir could be described as jubilant. The people have managed to reclaim the favorite square after and month long occupation by the combined forces of MOI’s central security forces and military police. That Friday was given the title of “The Friday of Path Correction”. There was plenty of discussions taking place in the square about what needs to be done to bring about democratic transitions. Many were unhappy with SCAF’s management of affairs. 
After the Friday prayers, I was shocked to hear the preacher make plea for SCAF to release the Omar Abdel-Rahman from US prison. Abdel-Rahman played a significant role in inciting hate and providing religious sanction to acts to of terror. Very few payed much attention to that preacher. However, half an hour later somebody gave me free copy of a dinky newspaper known as al-sha3b with have on its front page a banner add calling for the release of Abdel-Rahman. My friends and I were wondering, who the hell is calling for this on day should not be about Egypt and it future and not about that awful historical drag. Who is trying to advance this a revolutionary demand?  and who is paying for all of this?

Embassy storming and aftermath
Later in the day the Israeli embassy was stormed. There were very few troops around to protect it, the troops were pulled out that day from around the embassy, and a few tens of protesters entered the building. After the storming their was brutal attack on the protester around the area by the police, it left one thousand injured and three dead. It is hard to believe that SCAF tried and failed to prevent the storming. There is growing belief that  it must have been a way of sending some message to either the US and Israel. Those violent events further gave rise to the following:

  1. Beefing up the emergency law is Egypt with to give the state almost unlimited powers to detain anyone
  2. Terminating Al-Jazeera’s local channel operation.  
  3. Further restrictions on media and journalists and fostering and general sense of fear and foreboding in state owned media. 

SCAF is trying to shape the political landscape to serve its interests. Their are worrying signs that it wants to stay in power for much longer than it had declared. The setup for the next election seems to be designed in push for old NDP figures or their close relation. 

Neo-Mamelukism unraveling 

    The SCAF seem to many to be manufacturing crises after the next to gain legitimacy as the sole protector and preserver of order. It is essential saying the people “it is either me or chaos”. They can not keep playing that game for long and eventually they have to scramble for a face-saving exist. Since last Friday, there has been a growing tsunami of strikes that were taking place despite the beefed up emergency law and all the dire warning that are being announced by SCAF. Egyptian are declaring “you can detain us, torture us, kill us, but you can not scare us into submission anymore”. Tomorrow, I will be back in Tahrir with many thousands, we will be protesting the emergency status and Draconian laws.

    The Revolution continues….


    Students for change

    I had to pleasure to attend yesterday a seminar inaugurating the “students for change” initiative. It was heartening to see high school students seriously concerned about the that state of education and Egypt and trying passionately to do something about it. They expressed their concerns about:

    1. The poor state of education in Egypt generally where the  focus is in on rote learning and very little emphasis in placed on creatively or decent intellectual development 
    2. The growing disparity in the quality of education between elite schools for the well to do and the public schools that have suffered for decades from under-funding and general corruption.
    3. The need for students to have a voice in shaping general education policies as well as those within their schools. Student government has been either non-existent or merely ceremonial during the Mubark era. 

    The presenters put forth a number of ideas to start building some sort of cohesion among students from different schools and to get them to start working together. They had a range of activities around sports and talent development. They posed questions for audience about how structure themselves and to get things moving. They were concerned about getting the balance right between getting not being top heavy or  dictatorial while fostering a unity of purpose and objective.

    It was clear to me that the issues of organization and trying address complex problems at the grass roots is something that Egypt as whole in struggling with in rediscovering its route to democracy. Seeing young students trying with a great deal of passion and enthusiasm to work those issues out confirms to me that this land will never be the same.


    This land will never be the same

    A fading  memory  is all that remains
    But, this land will never be the same
    My brothers, to power, will never  bow again
    The cries of justice, will never be in vain

    Did you hear them in Tahrir, calling your name?
    Where were you? did you call their sit-in so very lame?
    But what have you done to ease their pain?
    A prisoner to fear,  do you want forever to remain?

    No! No! this land will never be the same
    We never will one day, to oppression, be tame.