The Egyptian Revolution

Egypt's "Enemies of the Revolution"

Here's a phrase you never, ever want to hear from the person in charge of a country, in this case Egypt's interim prime minister Essam Sharaf, appointed by the governing military council: "The only beneficiary of these events and acts of violence are the enemies of the January revolution and the enemies of the Egyptian people, both Muslim and Christian."

Whenever a state declares someone or something an "enemy of the revolution," your best possible outcome is indefinite detentions and disappearances. (History says that the other choices down that road are often worse.)

A demonstration initially about the destruction of a Copt church was joined [...]


On Returning to Cairo

“This country will never be the same,” my driver said when he picked me up at the Cairo International Airport two nights ago. This much Egyptians can agree upon, but this much only.

For the time being, order has been restored. The military is in control. Tahrir Square is clear. Tanks line the streets of downtown Cairo and there are no longer gunshots sounding through the night.

But this country, one that draws something like $10 billion each year in tourism, has been depicted as a war zone for the past three weeks. For now, until Egyptians (and the rest of us) know what happened down in Tahrir Square, [...]


Today in Egypt: Don't Believe Everything You Read

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The thugs #AJ keeps reporting at pres palace is group of 30 posh-looking men & women chanting EGYPT. They just want others 2 stop protestingFri Feb 11 13:37:48 via Mobile WebNadia El-AwadyNadiaE

• The events of the Egyptian Revolution are often subject to a giant game of telephone. Today it's: "Thugs at the Presidential Palace!" No wait: "Peaceful friendly protests!" And you saw what happened yesterday. Someone—two someones, really—who worked somewhere in the Egyptian government said "I think Mubarak is going to step down today!" And then [...]


Today in Egypt, Day 17: Mubarak Has So Many Palaces!

• Over the course of the demonstrations, the Egyptian military detained "hundreds and possibly thousands" of "government opponents": some of them were tortured, receiving "extensive beatings and other abuses."

• Rich people: they're all alike, all around the world! "Well-heeled Egyptians, who drive the country's economy, are concerned about ongoing unrest."

• Best Facebook update ever? We are all Khaled Said: "Thousands of lawyers have taken their protest to Abdeen Presidential Palace. Thousands more have joined them and the palace is now surrounded. The army has now withdrew from in front of the palace. The president is NOT in this palace unfortunately. He is in another [...]


Gladwell Won't Get It: The Real Role of Twitter in Global Protest

There was a lot wrong with Malcolm Gladwell's super-ballyhooed piece, "Small Change," in the New Yorker last October. In it, he suggested that the Civil Rights movement in the U.S. took place without Twitter or Facebook, because they hadn't been invented yet. Now that the same questions have come up again with respect to recent events in Egypt, Gladwell hopped right onto the New Yorker blog to complain some more about how not-important Twitter is.


Truck Apparently Plows Through Crowd Of Protesters

I am a little averse to putting up what is, in essence, a snuff film, but you can go here to see horrifying footage from Egypt "that seems to show a police truck racing through a crowded street and running over protesters." [Via]


Friday in Cairo: The "Day of Rage"

Gordon Reynolds—the pseudonym of a teacher in Cairo, dictated this over the phone to a friend not in Egypt. (For real-time dispatches on today's demonstrations, follow him here.)

“Mister, Are you going to the protests tomorrow?” a student asked me on Thursday.

“No,” I said.

“It’s going to be worse than Thursday. Everything begins after Friday prayers, around twelve-thirty.”

“If I were going,” I said, “What part of town would I go to?”

“If you were going,” he said with a grin, “Then you should go to the mosque in Khan el-Khalili on Al-Azhar Street.”


Welcome, Facebook Jamal Ibrahim! You Have An Excellent Name!

Happy belated birthday, Facebook Jamal Ibrahim! You are a baby girl born last week in Egypt. Your parents named you, in honor of the role the social networking site Facebook played in your country's recent revolution. Your name struck me as strange at first. And I guess it is a bit strange. But the longer I sit with, the more I think it's strange in a good way, the more I like it. It's better than "Twitter," for starters, in that it won't be shortened to "Twit." And I actually think it will be pretty cool as you grow older. People will surely call you "Face." And [...]


American Foreign Policy Reaping Benefits Of Dumb Luck

"In other words, for all its many missteps of the past two decades, America is remarkably well placed to win the war of ideas now unfolding in the Middle East. This is not because Arabs are fond of America. Most aren't, right now. But thanks to globalisation, education, satellite television and the palpable failure of the local alternatives, most Arabs (and Iranians) are fully aware of what sort of societies the Western democracies are, and they would like some of the same fresh air for themselves. Is America less powerful today than when its pilots were shooting up Saddam's Republican Guard on the highway out of Kuwait 20 years ago? [...]


Hosni Mubarak Is Not Going Yet

This is happening now. The Egyptian president says he will leave eventually, but not just at this moment.


A Guide to Egypt's Terrific Day 15 of Protests

•Today, perhaps the most enormous demonstration to date is underway in Tahrir Square. (Enormous! (Really!) There are still weapon-screeners and ID checks, but there also seem to be cheering welcoming committees as people enter. Today people report exuberance—and a very, very real sense that the Mubarak regime is ending. Protestors are now heading for the Parliament as well. Large demonstrations are happening in other cities.


Today in Egypt: The Digest for Busy Americans

We understand: you're busy running your social marketing company/law firm/dying publishing establishment. Plus you're besieged as well—by information overload and first world problems. It's okay! Here's a handy digest so that you can stay informed on Egypt without having to read 4000 blogs and newspapers.

• Today's demonstrations are being called the "Day of Departure," or "Friday of Departure," which is a classy way to demand the immediate resignation of President Mubarak. Today has been described as peaceful and jubilant; for the most part, pro-government thugs have not been sent forth to create violence.

• Much of the city of Cairo is difficult to move through today, with [...]


Today in Egypt: A Guide for Those Not Really Following

I'm hearing from a lot of Americans who are, let's say, disenfranchised from the insane (and somewhat confusing) pace of Egypt news. So we're gonna try to break it down a little, to be useful!

• One development of the last few days is that the demonstrators who dislike the government have been standing off in the streets with "pro-government demonstrators." Who are the pro-Mubarak demonstrators? There are largely two kinds, it turns out, in this account. The first is "people over which the regime has some leverage," people whose bosses forced them to attend, and (to be fair!) some number of people who probably just like Mubarak! [...]


Egypt "Absolute Chaos"

You know what is the worst possible thing the Egyptian government could have done? Detaining just-returned possible opposition candidate Mohamed ElBaradei. That won't inflame protests at all! Not that they need inflaming in the slightest; Cairo is apparently choking with tear gas. The good news? People arrested may not stay in jail for long: Al Jazeera reports that in Suez, "the police station in the port city has been taken over by protesters who have freed detainees." Meanwhile, French journalists have been arrested and CNN's cameras have been seized by police, as the country believes it can silence news about the brewing revolution.


Here Are the Thousands Who Gathered to Thank Mubarak

"It may be a small group," said Sharif, a 29-year-old Coptic Egyptian, looking out the windshield of his BMW into the line of traffic that streamed down the highway in the mid-afternoon sun. “No station on television talk about this. I don’t know why—it’s not fair. All the stations are afraid of Tahrir."

On this dusty highway, celebration was in the air. A flood of Egyptians were packed into flat bed trucks and traditional third world, go-cart passenger cars. Horns honked. Hands flashed victory signs out car windows. Alongside Sharif, three teenagers on a motorcycle sped between lanes. The center passenger held an eight-foot Egyptian flag high in the [...]


And Now Egypt Belongs to the Military

I guess this is a good transitional place??? Eek: "President Mubarak has gone and the army has been entrusted with the republic, it has just been announced." This is an amazing thing. Just ("just") 18 days of protests! And now the really complicated stuff begins.


Mubarak's Alleged Departure: Believe It When You See It

I'll believe Mubarak is stepping down when I see it with my own eyes (uh, through Al Jazeera). Also? Oh great, stepping down to the evil, Cheney-esque Vice President! (Or, you know, the military. Neat.) But signs do look good: "Hassan al-Roweni, an Egyptian army commander, told protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Thursday that 'Everything you want will be realised.' Protesters have demanded that Hosni Mubarak stand down as president…. Ahmed Shafiq, the country's prime minister, told the BBC that the president may step down on Thursday evening, and that the situation would be 'clarified soon.'"


Leaving Egypt, with Regrets: The Evacuated Students of Cairo

The other day, 19-year-old Dylan Sodaro was in line to register for classes at American University in Cairo. The Egyptian woman processing forms asked Dylan if he was Jewish. All week, people had been taking to the streets to criticize Hosni Mubarak, widely considered a friend to America and Israel. "Won't this hurt your people?" the Egyptian woman said. Dylan shrugged—at this point, he wasn't sure what the protests meant.

On Thursday night, the eve of the largest gatherings calling for Mubarak's resignation yet, a friend of Dylan's named Will was having a party. Dylan retreated to a bedroom with his best mates, Matthew Scarvie, also 19 and [...]


A Very Gloomy Prediction About The Outcome In Egypt

"It will be back to business as usual with a repressive, U.S.-backed military regime, only now the opposition will be much more radical and probably yet more Islamist. The historic opportunity to have a democratic Egypt led by those with whom the U.S., Europe, and even Israel could do business will have been lost, maybe forever. Uncle Sam will have to eat yet more humble pie, served up by the dictator who has just been insulting him." —Foreign Policy's Robert Springborg says that with the military now controlling the future of government in Egypt, any chance at democracy has been lost.


Some Ways That the Egyptian Revolution Could Still Die

It definitely now seems certain that the Egypt protest movement will not be petering out! It also sounds like tomorrow will be a huge, huge day. Yet still there are a couple of ways in which the protest movement there can be destroyed or damaged—and "total state crackdown" is an unlikely one. The state most likely does not have those kind of resources, and the movement has reached a state where state-sponsored violence will be met with resistance.