There is a certainty about blood, a visceral definition of the shapes of things; that distills the essence of a situation to its purest form. Stark contrast of black and grey – for there isn’t such a thing as unsullied white – press against the inside of your eyes pushing outwards. It is an experience usually only available to you right there and then in the midst of rabid violence, rarely is it gleaned from afar.
It is in that moment when you see the measure of things, against other things, small and large and petty and trivial, lives and loves and time, always time. Running out of it, chasing it, hoping to prolong it, more properly utilize it.
What price is blood? When was it that blood, and death, no longer sufficed as payment in kind? I can’t bring to mind the moment it transmuted to a mere stepping-stone on the path to another destination. Maybe it was always this way, here, in this place. Read more…
I have long since given up on attempting to recapture that euphoric sense of almost limitless potential in the wake of Mubarak’s ouster some two years ago. In my mind’s eye at the time, the possibilities for what might come next were truly exhilarating. After decades of enforced torpor, people rose up and … well you know the rest.
Then matters got exceedingly messy. It was expected to a degree of course, but the extent of how things went wrong was quite devastating for those who were lucky enough to witness that initial jolt of an irrevocable turning of the tide. In the fallout, a palpable sense of despair weighed heavily.
I was knocked out of my stupor by a slogan ubiquitous in recent protests. “Despair is betrayal,” it said. Indeed. Sometimes a pithy remark is all it takes. There has been too much sacrifice, too much loss, to just wash our hands off the whole thing.
Events of the past few weeks since Morsi issued his November decree can be described as – to appropriate British parlance – an utter ‘omnishambles’. Midnight decrees rescinding previous ones, 2am about-turns on decisions taken hours before, all add to the farcical turn of events that is supposed to culminate in a referendum on a hatchet job of a draft constitution so littered with vagaries it will only sustain this imbroglio for years to come.
Rather interestingly is the tack of some (many) who read all this as an attack on democracy. No not the Morsi madness, but the opposition to it. The reason? Morsi is a democratically elected leader. He has a democratic mandate. Those who oppose Morsi are sour undemocratic cretins infiltrated by regime remnants to overthrow legitimacy.
Let’s begin at the beginning. Morsi currently holds both executive and legislative powers. Not content with that he decides that he needs to ensure that the one remaining branch of governance not directly under his control does not pose a threat to him, and by extension his constituent assembly and the Shura Council. Embalming it in the glory of protecting the revolution (because he’s oh so obviously fixated on reforming the Ministry of Interior for example) Morsi includes a catch-all clause that grants him the right to take whatever measures he sees fit to safeguard the revolution, national unity and national security. Whatever. The. Hell. That. Means. Read more…
Mohamed Gad al-Rab, more commonly known as Sambo, was not a committed revolutionary. He did not participate in the 18-day uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak nor the immediate events that followed it.
Inadvertently, he became something of an icon in events that followed later, having been caught up in the struggle between revolutionaries and the regime over the country’s future post-Mubarak. He also inadvertently became the center of the discourse over how best to respond to state violence, in kind, or by turning the other cheek.
The violence did not end after Mubarak was overthrown; it ascended toward an upward trajectory of even more bloodshed through clashes between protesters and, at times, police or army forces. The names are known: the Mohamed Mahmoud clashes (which took place at two different times), the Cabinet clashes and the Abbasseya clashes. Read more…
Senior Muslim Brotherhood members took to the press to condemn attacks on their followers in Tahrir Friday, after finally admitting they were actually there, but no amount of spin will hide the fact that there is a deepening resentment towards the organization that rules Egypt by proxy.
What happened in Tahrir Friday may potentially be taken as a microcosm of a pervasive anger against the Brotherhood across the country, if one is to bear in mind the attacks on Brotherhood offices in the governorates that also occurred on Friday. But of course Tahrir has special resonance.
The story of what sparked the clashes on Friday is that supporters of president Mohammed Morsy tore down the stage of the Popular Current movement after anti-Morsy chants had been sung. However, the story doesn’t start there, for months now there has been resentment by secular forces at the appropriation of Tahrir by the Brotherhood dating back to the one year anniversary of the revolution, when the Brotherhood stage blared Quranic verses at a loud volume to drown out anti-Brotherhood chants or even prior to that when Brotherhood supporters attempted to end the Mohamed Mahmoud clashes of November 2011 without calling for accountability so that the parliamentary elections could go through. Read more…
Of the many dark days Egypt has witnessed post-revolution, because of an archaic, failed state whose back is to the wall, lashing out at all and sundry, the Maspero massacre would most probably count as the darkest of them all.
28 mainly Coptic Christian protesters were killed on October 9, 2011. The manner in which they were killed speaks to a brutality and callousness that still leaves one shell shocked a year on. Besides the use of live ammunition, military APCs ran over protesters in front of the radio and television building in Maspero.
It didn’t end there, state television then proceeded to incite people against the protesters, claiming that they had attacked the army troops guarding the building, killing 3 it falsely stated, and exhorted honest and honorable citizens to defend the army. This led to attacks on Christians throughout the city for the rest of the night, including a siege on the Coptic Hospital in Ramses where the wounded and killed were taken. The irony was that the march was heading to Maspero to protest this very manner of skewed coverage towards Egypt’s Copts. Read more…