As the verdict was read out, sentencing Hosni Mubarak to life in prison, an earthquake shook the ground not too far from the Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where the former president preferred to while away his days during his last decade in power.
A verdict that has seemingly appeased nobody has shrouded Egypt’s future in even more uncertainty at a delicate time on the brink of handover from overt military rule to an elected president. For while Mubarak and his interior minister Habib el-Adly got life, his sons and Adly’s aides were completely exonerated.
The streets of Egypt are brewing with discontent in response to a “politicised” verdict: protests in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez are already at full pelt and will increase as the searing summer sun winds down. Egypt is currently in the midst of a presidential election runoff slated for mid-June between Mubarak’s prime minister during the revolution, Ahmed Shafik, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi. The two candidates that made it to the second round have been roundly criticised as the two options the majority did not want. Read more…
As attention turns away from the anniversary of the 25 January revolution, with events that echoed the violence coming in its wake, questions arise about the nature of the Egyptian revolution and what is required for its success.
The questions are: for a revolution to succeed, can it be completely peaceful and nonviolent? When you are trying to overthrow a heavy-handed security-based regime that cracks down on dissent in a violent manner, can you succeed using only nonviolent means?
The Egyptian revolution of 2011 was universally celebrated as peaceful in nature, especially with the media spotlight on Tahrir Square and the consistent and strategic chanting of “selmeya” (peaceful) that rang out from the crowd. Yet numerous police stations and buildings associated with the ruling National Democratic Party were burned on 28 January and fierce battles occurred in Sinai and Suez. Flames looming in the skies of different Egyptian cities could be seen as a symbol of the regime’s fall.
The fighting continued past 28 January. Many ask if this revolution would have succeeded had Tahrir Square fallen to pro-regime thugs during the Battle of the Camel on 2 February. Protesters valiantly fought back throughout the night to keep the square. Read more…
The anniversary is coming up and with the new year behind us it’s a time to take stock. And looking back, despite the incredible highs, there are many causes for pessimism, for how things haven’t yet worked out as many thought. Here are just ten:
1- SCAF: Many reasons for pessimism are inextricably linked with the ruling council of military men that have taken over affairs of the country in the transitional period. There are enough to have their own separate numbers on the list but one reason that must be included is the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces itself.
Under this heading is a plethora of human rights abuses and examples of mangled dealings of a botched transition period. Violence against protesters is enough to be considered the norm, a barrage of abuses and thousands of civilians subjected to speedy military trials.
Add in a constitutional declaration that granted the council sole executive powers even though that was not voted for on the referendum, the delay in holding elections until pressure from the street brought them forward and a preciousness that makes the council skittish about any form of criticism. Read more…
What revolution? There is no way to spin the events of October 9 in Maspiro, except through outright lying, which is exactly what happened. Somehow, the military have – till now – gotten away with the murder of 25 people (if not more) and seemingly there are very few outside the usual band of activists/bloggers/rights advocates who are even debating their culpability.
The Coptic march headed to Maspiro was met by gunfire, attacks and APCs running over people. I know people who’ve pretty much seen it all who have been traumatized merely by what they saw that night. Friends of friends have died. It’s a catastrophe and the military is behind it. Blatantly. Yet I fear that somehow again they will get away with it.
It is the military – and state media – that must shoulder the blame for what happened when a peaceful Coptic protest marched from Shubra to the television building in Maspiro. There is a thorough account of events which can be read here so I’ll add little to it other than the army chased people down the streets of downtown Cairo for hours after the main attack at Maspiro and a bunch of “honest citizens” decided it was a good idea to attack the Coptic Hospital in Ramsis where the injured were being taken. At Abdel-Moneim Riyad I saw a young man with his back burnt to a crisp.
This is about two things, incitement and the use of violence. Some people who had been attacking protesters in Tahrir said they were sitting in cafes in Boulaq Aboul Ela when police came by and told them that Coptic protesters were burning the Quran in Maspiro. I can’t verify that this happened independently but the young man who said it had been throwing stones at us a few minutes earlier. Others had been roused into a frenzy by the coverage on state television, which was pretty much reporting that Coptic protesters were attacking the country’s esteemed armed forces, and had instigated the attack by firing first.
This is of course totally false, there is no footage of this and the many eyewitnesses in the march stated that the opposite had happened: the protesters showed up, the military attacked. Susu of the Inanities blog said that the attack started within five minutes of arrival of the march to Maspiro. There was no warning other than the gunshots in the air. The injuries at the hospital were all a result of live ammunition and crushing according to activist Alaa Abdel-Fatah. “This wasn’t crowd control,” Susu said. Read more…
Egyptians who took to the streets on the days between January 25 and January 28 can attest to the brutality of the Interior Ministry and its security forces. Of course it was just as brutal from long before that but the increased numbers of protesters in those four days threw that into sharper relief. There weren’t as many protesters in North Sinai but there were gun battles between the police and some Sinai residents who didn’t actually protest, but showed up a few hours each day to trade fire. However, the video and audio recordings below seem to suggest that on January 28, officers inside the Sheikh Zowayed police station were also sniping at uninvolved passersby.
This video was taken on the morning January 29 in the town of Sheikh Zowayed in North Sinai, the day after the Interior Ministry’s final showdown with protesters. It is in front of the police station there. According to sources in that area, police officers on January 28 were sniping passersby from the station all morning. The protests that day were happening to the right and left of the police station, in the main road that runs throughout the town. People who were passing through for whatever reason were shot at. At least six people were allegedly killed in this manner according to the source from Sheikh Zowayed who handed me this footage. By sunset the orders had apparently been given for police forces to withdraw, which they did in Sheikh Zowayed by night time. Residents were not sure they had left and checked the following morning, which is when they found the two bodies in the video. First there is a man inside his truck who has been shot in the chest. A little later there is the contorted body of a young man lying near the pavement. The footage seems to suggest they were unarmed. Bear in mind that the images in this video are quite graphic.
There is also this audio recording, purported to be lifted from a mobile phone found inside the then empty police station when people went into it January 29. It seems to be of the policeman inside the police station sniping passersby outside. Plenty of gun shots are heard. Earlier on one voice is heard asking “Is someone shooting at him from up above?”. Some shots later one voice is heard saying “Allah Yenawar” which can be loosely translated as “Well Done”. Admittedly I’m no expert but the gunshots in the audio clip seem to be coming from where the recording is taking place, ie that it was just the police shooting but weren’t being shot at. If there was gunfire being returned there would be gunshots heard from a further distance, they wouldn’t be as loud but the shots all seem to be more or less at the same volume. The voices can be heard telling each other where the people to aim at are, saying for example one is behind a lamppost. Near the end of the recording one voice is talking about a “Dababa” passing by, which is Arabic for tank. However, in North Sinai “Dababa” is used to refer to a pickup truck and that’s probably what’s meant here. Click the link below to hear it.