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Author Topic: Voices for Egypt  (Read 955 times)
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« on: Feb 03, 2011 09:15 PM »

Here I'll post some first-hand accounts of some friends and friends-of-friends writings about Egypt. These were all publicly posted. I won't add their names or links because as you know, if the revolution fails, these people will be tortured and killed like the others before them.

Egypt, right now!
 on Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 2:31am

I don’t know how to start writing this. I have been battling fatigue for not sleeping properly for the past 10 days, moving from one’s friend house to another friend’s house, almost never spending a night in my home, facing a very well funded and well organized ruthless regime that views me as nothing but an annoying bug that its time to squash will come. The situation here is bleak to say the least.


It didn’t start out that way. On Tuesday Jan 25 it all started peacefully, and against all odds, we succeeded to gather hundreds of thousands and get them into Tahrir Square, despite being attacked by Anti-Riot Police who are using sticks, tear gas and rubber bullets against us. We managed to break all of their barricades and situated ourselves in Tahrir. The government responded by shutting down all cell communication in Tahrir square, a move which purpose was understood later when after midnight they went in with all of their might and attacked the protesters and evacuated the Square. The next day we were back at it again, and the day after. Then came Friday and we braved their communication blackout, their thugs, their tear gas and their bullets and we retook the square. We have been fighting to keep it ever since.


That night the government announced a military curfew, which kept getting shorter by the day, until it became from 8 am to 3 pm. People couldn’t go to work, gas was running out quickly and so were essential goods and money, since the banks were not allowed to operate and people were not able to collect their salary. The internet continued to be blocked, which affected all businesses in Egypt and will cause an economic meltdown the moment they allow the banks to operate again. We were being collectively punished for daring to say that we deserve democracy and rights, and to keep it up, they withdrew the police, and then sent them out dressed as civilians to terrorize our neighborhoods. I was shot at twice that day, one of which with a semi-automatic by a dude in a car that we the people took joy in pummeling. The government announced that all prisons were breached, and that the prisoners somehow managed to get weapons and do nothing but randomly attack people. One day we had organized thugs in uniforms firing at us and the next day they disappeared and were replaced by organized thugs without uniforms firing at us. Somehow the people never made the connection.


Despite it all, we braved it. We believed we are doing what’s right and were encouraged by all those around us who couldn’t believe what was happening to their country. What he did galvanized the people, and on Tuesday, despite shutting down all major roads leading into Cairo, we managed to get over 2 million protesters in Cairo alone and 3 million all over Egypt to come out and demand Mubarak’s departure. Those are people who stood up to the regime’s ruthlessness and anger and declared that they were free, and were refusing to live in the Mubarak dictatorship for one more day. That night, he showed up on TV, and gave a very emotional speech about how he intends to step down at the end of his term and how he wants to die in Egypt, the country he loved and served. To me, and to everyone else at the protests this wasn’t nearly enough, for we wanted him gone now. Others started asking that we give him a chance, and that change takes time and other such poppycock. Hell, some people and family members cried when they saw his speech. People felt sorry for him for failing to be our dictator for the rest of his life and inheriting us to his Son. It was an amalgam of Stockholm syndrome coupled with slave mentality in a malevolent combination that we never saw before. And the Regime capitalized on it today.


Today, they brought back the internet, and started having people calling on TV and writing on facebook on how they support Mubarak and his call for stability and peacefull change in 8 months. They hung on to the words of the newly appointed government would never harm the protesters, whom they believe to be good patriotic youth who have a few bad apples amongst them. We started getting calls asking people to stop protesting because “we got what we wanted” and “we need the country to start working again”. People were complaining that they miss their lives. That they miss going out at night, and ordering Home Delivery. That they need us to stop so they can resume whatever existence they had before all of this. All was forgiven, the past week never happened and it’s time for Unity under Mubarak’s rule right now.


To all of those people I say: NEVER! I am sorry that your lives and businesses are disrupted, but this wasn’t caused by the Protesters. The Protesters aren’t the ones who shut down the internet that has paralyzed your businesses and banks: The government did. The Protesters weren’t the ones who initiated the military curfew that limited your movement and allowed goods to disappear off market shelves and gas to disappear: The government did. The Protesters weren’t the ones who ordered the police to withdraw and claimed the prisons were breached and unleashed thugs that terrorized your neighborhoods: The government did. The same government that you wish to give a second chance to, as if 30 years of dictatorship and utter failure in every sector of government wasn’t enough for you. The Slaves were ready to forgive their master, and blame his cruelty on those who dared to defy him in order to ensure a better Egypt for all of its citizens and their children. After all, he gave us his word, and it’s not like he ever broke his promises for reform before or anything.


Then Mubarak made his move and showed them what useful idiots they all were.


You watched on TV as “Pro-Mubarak Protesters” – thugs who were paid money by NDP members by admission of High NDP officials- started attacking the peaceful unarmed protesters in Tahrir square. They attacked them with sticks, threw stones at them, brought in men riding horses and camels- in what must be the most surreal scene ever shown on TV- and carrying whips to beat up the protesters. And then the Bullets started getting fired and Molotov cocktails started getting thrown at the Anti-Mubarak Protesters as the Army standing idly by, allowing it all to happen and not doing anything about it. Dozens were killed, hundreds injured, and there was no help sent by ambulances. The Police never showed up to stop those attacking because the ones who were captured by the Anti-mubarak people had police ID’s on them. They were the police and they were there to shoot and kill people and even tried to set the Egyptian Museum on Fire. The Aim was clear: Use the clashes as pretext to ban such demonstrations under pretexts of concern for public safety and order, and to prevent disunity amongst the people of Egypt. But their plans ultimately failed, by those resilient brave souls who wouldn’t give up the ground they freed of Egypt, no matter how many live bullets or firebombs were hurled at them. They know, like we all do, that this regime no longer cares to put on a moderate mask. That they have shown their true nature. That Mubarak will never step down, and that he would rather burn Egypt to the ground than even contemplate that possibility.


In the meantime, State-owned and affiliated TV channels were showing coverage of Peaceful Mubarak Protests all over Egypt and showing recorded footage of Tahrir Square protest from the night before and claiming it’s the situation there at the moment. Hundreds of calls by public figures and actors started calling the channels saying that they are with Mubarak, and that he is our Father and we should support him on the road to democracy. A veiled girl with a blurred face went on Mehwer TV claiming to have received funding by Americans to go to the US and took courses on how to bring down the Egyptian government through protests which were taught by Jews. She claimed that AlJazeera is lying, and that the only people in Tahrir square now were Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. State TV started issuing statements on how the people arrested Israelis all over Cairo engaged in creating mayhem and causing chaos. For those of you who are counting this is an American-Israeli-Qatari-Muslim Brotherhood-Iranian-Hamas conspiracy. Imagine that. And MANY PEOPLE BOUGHT IT. I recall telling a friend of mine that the only good thing about what happened today was that it made clear to us who were the idiots amongst our friends. Now we know.


Now, just in case this isn’t clear: This protest is not one made or sustained by the Muslim Brotherhood, it’s one that had people from all social classes and religious background in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood only showed up on Tuesday, and even then they were not the majority of people there by a long shot. We tolerated them there since we won’t say no to fellow Egyptians who wanted to stand with us, but neither the Muslims Brotherhood not any of the Opposition leaders have the ability to turn out one tenth of the numbers of Protesters that were in Tahrir on Tuesday. This is a revolution without leaders. Three Million individuals choosing hope instead of fear and braving death on hourly basis to keep their dream of freedom alive. Imagine that.


The End is near. I have no illusions about this regime or its leader, and how he will pluck us and hunt us down one by one till we are over and done with and 8 months from now will pay people to stage fake protests urging him not to leave power, and he will stay “because he has to acquiesce to the voice of the people”. This is a losing battle and they have all the weapons, but we will continue fighting until we can’t. I am heading to Tahrir right now with supplies for the hundreds injured, knowing that today the attacks will intensify, because they can’t allow us to stay there come Friday, which is supposed to be the game changer. We are bringing everybody out, and we will refuse to be anything else than peaceful. If you are in Egypt, I am calling on all of you to head down to Tahrir today and Friday. It is imperative to show them that the battle for the soul of Egypt isn’t over and done with. I am calling you to bring your friends, to bring medical supplies, to go and see what Mubarak’s guarantees look like in real life. Egypt needs you. Be Heroes.
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« Reply #1 on: Feb 03, 2011 09:15 PM »

After the thugs rolled in
on Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 3:06am

Since writing this yesterday Mubarak has sent out his thugs. Our office is located just 2 blocks behind Tahrir Square and my boss and his wife have been staying in their apartment there since the whole thing started. Yesterday, she saw, and photographed, the thugs getting off of buses over on the Corniche, being handed freshly and perfectly printed posters, and let through the barriers over to Tahrir. Hellooo? Another friend saw a group of Zabaleen (the garbage collectors) under the Autostrade underpass with beautifully printed pro-Mubarak signs and banners. Everything in the country is closed. No one is working at the printing presses except, it would seem the government presses.




The demonstration of over 2 million people was totally peaceful. In Alexandria we saw the group gathered and then, within minutes of Mubarak's speech, pro-Mubarak thugs came out of no where with rocks and started pelting the demonstrators, none of whom had any rocks, sticks or other weapons on them.




Some are saying that it was a signal, the line that he would "die in Egypt" for his thugs to go out and start trouble.




I hope that the world sees that the peacefulness (on the part of the protesters) of the first week was only broken after Mubarak's speech. And he did more than divide public opinion. First he divided it by saying he would step down in September and start to make changes now. It seems a lot of people bought that so that things can get back to normal. I know some of the women I work with said, okay, we can deal with that. But the people with the rocks and beating the protesters are not those people. The thugs are, as you know, hired. Paid very small amounts of money maybe LE50 and bussed in from outlying areas. It has nothing to do with support. So he very effectively split opinion.




But it is not enough for him to leave in September. If yesterday's "intimidation as usual" is an indication of his willingness to negotiate, well I would say he still can not be trusted to make significant change.




Had he not charged the square with all his thugs, and just given his speech some time to sink in, he might have accomplished his goal. Might have. There would have been a big split down the middle: those who said, okay, he's on his way out, I can live with that, and the others who still could not live with it.




That's about all I can manage to squeeze out this morning. Please share this far and wide, and as high up the food chain as you can get it.  BTW, as an American, I think the US was very slow to react. I know all about our strategic interests, Israel and what not, but I have to admit I believe our policy makers are more interested in what affect the change in regime will have on Israel than on what affect it will have on the Egyptian people.




And that is wrong. Israel has to face the world like all the other countries and stop relying on the US to protect it. If and when there is regime change here, if they listen to the Egyptian people, it is true, the peace agreement will not run the country anymore, but if the US plays its cards right, even after the Palestine Papers that have been released, there may be a chance for a balanced policy here in the region that does not allow the dehumanization and periodic slaughter of the Palestinian people. America should be on the right side for a change and letting Mubarak go, is the right side; it should have everything to do with the Egyptian people first. Stability will return when there is a level playing field.




Live free - my new motto
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« Reply #2 on: Feb 03, 2011 09:16 PM »

God bless Egypt
on Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 12:11am

I'm not going to be articulate.


I don't know what to feel and where to direct what I feel.


I've been watching CNN, Al Jazeera, reading updates on websites and postings from friends in Egypt and the occasional update from family there. Even as I type, Anderson Cooper is broadcasting from a dimly lit corner of an Egyptian flat. This after a day of being attacked by thugs. So much for our warm hospitality it would seem..


The feelings are deep and complex. I love my country, my home and even her frigid cold. I also love Egypt. To watch the events today has been heartbreaking, enraging, frustrating, confusing, maddening, disgusting, inspiring, angering, encouraging, enfuriating, frightening, depressing, and so many other emotions.


Hosni Mubarak has ruled Egypt for 30 years. He is 82 years old and is wealthy to the tune of billions of dollars - billions of dollars swindled from the Egyptian people over a career of corruption. Yet for all that wealth, in the twilight of his life, and at the dawn of this new century, he won't let Egypt be free of his anachronistic, despotic stranglehold. And as we have come to see in the last week and the last 24 hours, if he cannot have Egypt, he'll let loose anarchy - criminals and mercenaries of social unrest, his police, all the while staying the Army to stand idly by - and watch while he allows the country to burn.


He wants to die on the soil of Egypt. Yet by his action and inaction he sullies her pure soil with his repugnant, thuggish, intransigence. He has long since given up his honor and integrity. Egypt need not be despoiled now any further with his rule, or in the future with whatever will be his remains.


He is a tyrant.


To the unaware or forgetful: He is the political brother of a Saddam Hussein. And remember, we liked him once before too while ignoring what he did to his people. He has been sustained in his rule because of the false bargain of 'stability' he has given the world in exchange for his throne. Egypt has never had true stability because her people have been held back - stunted in terms of true economic, social and most important, political growth.


We are not innocent in this. Unfortunately, we have abetted in this. Blind eyes turned and billions of dollars in military aid - from mechanized equipment down to the canisters of tear gas thrown on the demonstrators - they bear this truth emblazoned with 'Made in the USA'. Our calculus has always been complicated but the impact must be recognized. When we have wavered in our expressed unwavering commitment to freedom, democracy and the rule of law - when we have not walked the talk - we enabled them.


We have been wrong. But we can change course and be right. In the last few days, the president and his envoys are only now starting to express this - and with measured words at best. In the meantime, our military leadership are communicating to their Egyptian counterparts to urge them to recognize that the time has come for Mubarak to go. And yet it is still bitter - not bittersweet - to realize that to facilitate the necessary 'transition' it must be conducted by the Egyptian military. In effect, fearing for a change of one ex-military ruler, for another...


This is beyond a complicated situation. No one performs a heart transplant on an awake patient, let alone without anesthesia and without a cardiac bypass machine. By the same token - no one replaces part of a heart. You don't replace just a ventricle or part of the atrium. A coronary bypass may help, a stent or two may help. But in some cases, they are not enough. Every measure is temporizing - from medicine to machines - and the necessary end step remains: the old diseased heart must be removed.


This is the equivalent of this regime on the Egyptian body politic. For thirty years - arguably for much longer - Egypt has been denied the chance to grow into assuming the responsibilities of her own governance. It is not alone the fault of the government - people have a responsibility to hold their government accountable. But how easy is it to do that in a veritable bureaucratically dysfunctional,  police state.


If you are watching the news, you are watching pent up frustrations of 30 years. Freedom and liberty deferred and denied and repressed. The demonstrators are brave to have stood up and called for change. They listened to President Obama when he spoke in June 2009 and said:


    "I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things:  the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose.  These are not just American ideas; they are human rights.  And that is why we will support them everywhere."


The Egyptian people listened! And anyone who knows Egyptians knows that if you can get them to listen, that's an accomplishment. And if you ever doubted how hard that can be, look on the actions of that stubborn mule of a pharaoh right now...


There are those who would say the demonstrators have made their point.


The country has been shut down for over a week. The damage to the economy is substantial. The injuries and loss of life are real. The fear is real. There are thugs loose in the streets. Anarchy swirls in the fog of uncertainty and disinformation.


I am not there having rocks or Molotov cocktails thrown at me or my family. I cannot, nor will I judge.


Those demonstrators will not have been cowards if, as some would have them do, they lay down their signs and quiet their chants for freedom and democracy and justice - if they acquiesce and return to their homes to wait and see what fruits the trust that we would have them give to a 30 year autocratic, repressive, corrupt regime will have purchased them...


Those who argue for the status quo are multifaceted. Aside from the hired thugs and party supporters - aside from the elite who know nothing of the poverty or the integrity of refusing to pay the necessary prices to conduct 'business as usual' - for those who argue that Egypt should pause now and accept what little change they can get by with, they have legitimate concern.


For sure there are those who are tired, hungry and scared. Especially now in this contrived state of anarchy. They have only ever known the 'security' provided by the secret police with their detentions and beatings - the 'stability' of a regime so fragile that even a whisper of talk about the health of the president could land you in prison - the 'freedom' to express your views until your views are deemed inappropriate and you have your cell phones and internet shut off.


Our parents came here for the blessings of freedom and opportunity for us and we have had those blessings and more. How many times and in how many different situations - over countless cups of coffee and amidst wafts of sheesha smoke - have we all railed at the corruption and lamented the unrealized potential of Egypt?


Here now, at this moment, is that chance for a new country to emerge.


It is beyond frightening. I am sad. I am scared. I am proud. I am mad. I wish I had the ability to help and do more.


It would be ideal if there were a Martin Luther King, or a Gandhi, or a Madison or a Washington among them. Perhaps that may yet happen. Perhaps this gasp for freedom will be suppressed only to give enough air to fuel a future of individuals well organized, mature, endowed with wisdom and resources to help birth that bright future we would all hope for Egypt and that troubled part of the world.


For now, the fight is now.


From a movie about a man who tried to rally his scared, disparate countrymen to join together to overcome their self-interests and assert their freedom on the field against tyranny; he asked:


    "Fight and you may die. Run and you'll live -- at least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom!?"


Fictionalized yes. But the sentiment and validity of the question are no less true.


There are no perfect individuals. Pick a name - Elbaradei, Nour, Moussa, Suleiman, and so on and so on. There are no perfect answers for the problems facing them - and we the watching world. But we should not be so callous as to consign the Egyptian people to perpetual patience for their right to build a truly free, just, peaceful and prosperous future.


To the professional punditry who would do just that, heed the words of Lincoln:

    "Those who would deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves."


I want peace. I want an end to the anarchy. And I want an end to the repression and tyranny and unrealized great potential.


Egypt has hurt for too long.


Mr. Mubarak, if you have any humanity, then you should stand down your regime. If you choose not, then you will have the judgment of history you so desire but it shall be to forever list you among her villains.


God bless Egypt and watch over her people and ours. God give them strength and patience to withstand the injuries upon them by their countrymen. God ease their suffering and comfort their grieving. God erase their fears and give them wisdom to see the road ahead to peace and freedom and justice for them all.


God grant them victory over oppression.


~ ME 2/2
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