Sunday, February 20, 2011

Revolution 3, Mark Zuckerberg vs Hosni Mubarak

Jan 25th... The Revolution Begins


Meet The New Boss

"I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again

Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss"

-Pete Townsend

Abdo Abdel Hameed, a restaurant owner, was driven to attempt suicide after bread coupons from the Egyptian government were denied to him. He set himself on fire Monday, the 17th of January, on Kasr El Aini Street in downtown Cairo, exactly one month after Mohamed Bouazizi's act that sparked revolution in Tunisia. However in Hameed's case, after pouring gasoline over himself, his clothes sustained more damage than he did, and he suffered no serious injuries. Still, the symbolic significance of the act was not lost upon the people of Egypt. At least five others thought it would be a good idea to set themselves on fire.
The social networking Internet sites, Facebook and Twitter were utilized by the growing mass of young people who were emboldened by the recent turn of events in Tunisia. They documented police abuses and brought the growing amount of discontent of the Egyptian people to worldwide attention.
Wael Ghonim, Head of Marketing of Google Middle East and North Africa, established a Facebook page spotlighting the beating and death in June of 2010, of Khaled Mohamed Saeed, a young Egyptian man whose photographs of his disfigured corpse spread throughout online communities and incited outrage over allegations that he was beaten to death by Egyptian security forces. Other activists like Asmaa Mahfouz encouraged the citizens of Egypt to publicly protest.
The protests were started by a small group of secular, liberal youth activists organizing on the Internet who only a few months earlier struggled to gather more than 100 demonstrators at a time. But their work through social network services like Facebook over the past few years built a growing awareness and bitterness among Egyptians over issues like police abuse and corruption.
"Facebook brought down the regime," said Sally Toma, one of the main protest organizers. To date Mark Zuckerberg has not denied this.
On January 25th National Police Day is celebrated throughout Egypt commemorating 50 police officers who gave their lives by refusing to cooperate with British forces in 1952. Groups opposing the government staged a day of protest on January 25th, 2011, against abuses by the police in front of the Ministry of Interior. Emboldened by the revolt in Tunisia the protesters increased their demands to that of the resignation of the Minister of the Interior, the restoration of a fair minimum wage, the end of Emergency Law that had been in place since 1967, and the limitation of the presidency to two terms. Many political movements, opposition parties and public figures chose to support the day of revolt, including Youth for Justice and Freedom, the Popular Democratic Movement for Change, and the National Association for Change. Novelist Alaa Al Aswany, writer Belal Fadl, and actors Amr Waked and Khaled Aboul Naga said they would also participate, while the Facebook group set for the event attracted 80,000 attendees. Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Cairo, with 45,000 occupying Tahrir Square, the main thoroughfare of Cairo, with thousands more in cities throughout Egypt (the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic transnational organization that the American right wing has declared the instigator of the unrest in the Middle East and who they insist are setting themselves up to take over the world, further scaremongering their pathetic listeners and viewers into further submission, did not even show up for these demonstrations, at least not at the start).
Security forces however deemed the protests as "illegal", not having the required permissions to proceed and would therefore deal with it strictly. Police used tear gas and water cannons against the protesters, who in turn threw stones at police, eventually forcing them to retreat.
The demonstrations continued the next few days with increased use of violence from both protesters and the police. Suez experienced a dramatic uprising; many protesters were fired upon with live ammunition, and both protesters and police were beaten. Protesters in Suez also managed to set fire to several government buildings, including the police station.
January 28th, a Friday, deemed the "Day of Rage," was targeted for renewed, massive demonstrations throughout the country. Just before 1:00AM the government attempted to shut down Internet Services in a bid to disrupt communications between the protesters, hampering their ability to organize. Text messaging and mobile phone services also appeared to be blocked. Many were still able to communicate using a text-to-speech telephone service set up by Google and Twitter. All mobile phone operators in Egypt were instructed to suspend services in selected areas.
Many have since wondered how the Egyptian authorities were able to do this. It is surmised that since the Internet portals are centralized in this country, with only a few points of entrance into and out of Egypt, the task was somewhat easily manageable. It would be much more difficult in the United States for the government to do the same. Witnessing the events in Egypt some members of the United States Congress, supporters for the so-called "Patriot Act" no doubt, are considering legislation that would provide for a future "Kill Switch," that would shut off Internet, Web services, and communication in the case of "emergencies," and only for the public's "safety." I would stringently resist any such attempts to manufacture this mechanism or protocol, although clandestine operations of this sort are possible, and must be guarded against.
The Egyptian government's attempts to stifle the communication of the protesters quite possibly backfired on them. With the ability to communicate between themselves disrupted, the protesters naturally gravitated to the only spot they would be assured to find more protesters... Tahrir Square, where the focus of the demonstrations was at play.
Despite the attempts by the government, shortly after Friday prayers, tens of thousands of Egyptians began the protests, and within hours the number rose to the hundreds of thousands. Throughout the day, police fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannons into crowds during violent clashes between authorities and anti-government protesters in Cairo, Alexandria, and throughout Egypt. Here is a video taken on that day in Cairo:
General unrest permeated Egypt. Looting began of government buildings. Thousands in Suez stormed and took control of a police station, freed all of the protesters held under arrest there and then torched a nearby smaller local police post. In Port Said tens of thousands of protesters gathered and multiple government buildings were set on fire. The national government issued a a 6:00PM to 7:00AM curfew the next day, which was ignored.
And the revolution was televised. The entire world was watching. Major American news outlets sent correspondents into the affected areas while most other Americans were at the airports trying to find a way out. Indeed, during the course of the continued protests reporters were singled out and targeted by various pro-Mubarak factions, many being intimidated and physically attacked (and it is with extreme displeasure, sadness, and rage, that I report that on the day the Mubarak regime collapsed, February 11th, CBS correspondent Lara Logan while amongst the crowd of celebrating, victorious protesters, was separated from her group and surrounded by a "bad element," of over 200 people, was labeled a Jew, and brutally attacked and sexually assaulted. She was eventually rescued by another group of women and Egyptian soldiers, and is now at her home in the United States recovering). Links through satellite, via camera and cell phone recorded the events as they happened, and the story dominated the world's news programs for the entire 18 days... and beyond, that these events transpired.
About 300 people were killed in the course of the turmoil. Police attacked the first protests with water cannons and gunfire and then a force of regime supporters, believed to be paid thugs, assaulted the protesters and reporters in Tahrir Square trying to dislodge them, only to be beaten back in two days of pitched battles.
Throughout the crisis, President Hosni Mubarak tried to placate the protesting crowds with concessions, replacing his government, purging his ruling party and moving to prosecute some of its most unpopular figures. He said he would resign, but not until the next elections in September. But these moves did nothing to diminish the regime's power and were considered simply delaying tactics. The thought of Mubarak abdicating power in favor of his billionaire son, Gamal, certainly did not appeal. The protests continued.
On February 10th Mubarak handed over all of his governing authority to the newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman, but he still retained his title. This forced the military to reluctantly take a stand and enforce the inevitable outcome, performing what was essentially a coup, forcing Mubarak to step down the next day.
The ousted Mubarak himself flew to his isolated palace in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, 250 miles from the turmoil in Cairo. It has been reported that he is in extreme ill health, or a coma. No one outside of his family, entourage, and the military know for sure.
And now the army has taken control of the country. Egypt remains a Praetorian state.
Last Friday, the 18th of February, the citizens of Egypt returned to Tahrir Square to celebrate the ouster of President Mubarak the week before. The military encouraged the celebrations, but warned that continued labor strikes would not be tolerated.
Protesters want the army to dissolve the interim government which was put into place by Mubarak in his final weeks and contains many of his cronies. They also want the lifting of emergency laws that gave police near unlimited powers of arrest. So far, the military has not moved on either issue, or released thousands of political prisoners.
Those prisoners that have been released, some of them, have made accusations of torture by their capturers... the army.
The military has promised a swift transition to an elected government and president — within six months. Still...
The The Armed Forces Supreme Council has imposed martial law. Changes to the constitution are being planned behind closed doors by a military-appointed panel. Protesters and reform leaders have not been given any position of influence in the transition, the Mubarak-appointed cronies in government remain in place, and police have not been reigned in, their powers still intact.
So one must ask themselves, what exactly has the revolution in Egypt won for the revolutionaries?
We shall see.

"Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss"

The story does not end here of course. Egypt's neighbors have taken notice of events in Egypt, just as the Egyptians had taken notice of events in Tunisia. The spark of change has threatened every autocracy, every dictatorship within the middle East... and further abroad...

To be continued.

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