Jerry Jackson

Posts Tagged ‘Cairo’

Hosni Mubarak and his family were convinced everything they did was for the good of Egypt and never understood that it was time for them to leave.

In Activism, Egypt, Human Rights on February 15, 2011 at 1:47 am

SHARM EL SHEIKH/EGYPT, 18MAY08 - Muhammad Hosn...

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The night before he finally stepped down as Egypt‘s president, the protesters in Tahrir Square heard Hosni Mubarak deliver his final address as their head of state. “A speech from a father to his sons and daughters,” he called it, and like many of his orations in the past, it was filled with lies, although he may have believed some of these himself. He would stay as president until September, he promised, because the country needed him for a transition to democracy. This, after three decades of autocracy. The hundreds of thousands gathered in the square wanted to hear him say only one word: “Goodbye.” Amid their screams of fury, one woman could be heard shouting into a phone, “People are sick of the soap opera!”  The protesters had reason to be weary of the president’s final, delusional public performance. But there was another long drama coming to an end that night, mostly out of public view—a personal story that helps to explain the president whose stubborn incomprehension of his “sons and daughters” dragged Egypt so close to ruin. Former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Daniel Kurtzer has called it the “tragedy” of the Mubaraks. As Kurtzer says of the Egyptian president, “He really did feel he was the only one holding the dike”—as if beyond Mubarak lay the deluge. Mubarak’s fall is not a story like the one that unfolded in Tunisia, of a dictator and his kin trying to take their country for all it was worth. Although there have been widely reported but poorly substantiated allegations of a $40 billion to $70 billion fortune amassed by the Mubarak family, few diplomats in Egypt find those tales even remotely credible. “Compared to other kleptocracies, I don’t think the Mubaraks rank all that high,” says one Western envoy in Cairo, asking not to be named on a subject that remains highly sensitive. “There has been corruption, [but] as far as I know it’s never been personally attached to the president and Mrs. Mubarak. They don’t live an elaborate lifestyle.” Despite the uprising of millions of people in Egypt’s streets, despite their ringing condemnations of secret-police tactics and torture, the Mubarak family remained convinced that everything the president had done was for the country’s own good. “We’re gone. We’re leaving,” the deeply depressed first lady, Suzanne Mubarak, told one of her confidantes as the crisis worsened last week. “We’ve done our best.”


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Egyptian youth and new dawn hopes

In Activism, Egypt, Human Rights, Military, World News on February 6, 2011 at 7:25 am

For young Egyptians, long-dormant patriotism and pride have been finally awakened.

As police stations and ministry of interior installations continue to burn through the night in many of Egypt’s cities, the Arab World is waking up to a new dawn.  In more than 18 years of living in Cairo, I have never felt the sense of cautious hope that exists in Egypt now, particularly among young men and women who feel that for the first time in their lives they may actually be able to determine their own destinies. 

Egypt

For young Egyptians, long-dormant patriotism and pride have been finally awakened.

Young Egyptians that say that despite the number of teargas canisters fired at protesters and the number of those who have been beaten and detained, long-dormant patriotism and pride have been finally awakened. They feel emboldened by the positive changes in Tunisia and believe they share common cause and aspiration. Many of the students I teach at the American University in Cairo have taken part in the protests, avoiding tear gas, seeking refuge in shops and alleyways. They have been reporting and participating in the protests. Some have been beaten only to return the next day and face off with riot police. To them, they have known no other president, no other ruling party and no other political system. They have for years been groomed on the government’s realpolitik on the one hand, and the   empty rhetoric of opposition groups on the other. They have made it clear to me that these opposition parties, long defunct and impotent, have been replaced by grassroots social action. Their fears of detention and torture have been supplanted by the need for better living conditions and better wages. The protests have drawn Egyptians from all walks of life, many of whom have never participated in demonstrations and feel that the time has come for them to voice their resentment. What started with a few dozen protesters on January 25 quickly mushroomed as passers-by and ordinary citizens joined in. This was the Arab Street – the silent majority which has finally found a voice to express palpable anger. Listening to the protesters, one gets the feeling that they have not been deterred by the severity of the beatings; rather, their resolve has been hardened. In an unprecedented show of civil disobedience and open revolt, young Egyptians have clearly and forcibly delivered a message that is still resonating in the Middle East and North Africa: Authoritarian rule in the region is over. The common yet indigenous, denominators – political and economic disenfranchisement and disdain at rampant corruption – between the two countries were conveyed through social media networks, helping to create a momentum that seized popular anger and provided it with a dynamic that produced mass mobilisation on the streets of Tunis and Cairo. By calling for the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, and persevering in the face of tear gas, water cannons and baton beatings, young Egyptian men and women have beat back decades of one-party rule, brutal repression against civil liberties, iron-clad control of the media, and corrupt economic policies. The protesters have been dismantling archaic forms of governance in which the ruler is considered to be beyond reproach and economic policies are determined by his self-preserving business elite allies. They are demanding equity in the distribution of wealth, an end to state corruption, greater employment opportunities and a curb to rampant inflation. They want to be able to express themselves freely – both in mainstream media and online – without the specter of arrest, torture and imprisonment looming overhead. Just three months ago, Egyptian authorities released Kareem Amer, a blogger jailed in 2007 for defaming Islam and the presidency. His release came just a few weeks after several stations were taken off the air by the national satellite carrier NileSat for allegedly failing to abide by their contracts and/or failure to pay licensing fees. They are not interested in a change of government – as Mubarak promised on January 28 – and they will not be dissuaded by repeated promises of economic reform and prosperity. They believe that Egypt’s current socio-economic malaise is rooted in the political system itself, a system which has not evolved since the first revolution overthrew the King of Egypt in 1952. When the ruling National Democratic Party swept Parliamentary elections amid allegations of widespread fraud last November, Egyptian youth said that they felt their votes had been stolen and the entire process of political reform hijacked. Some observers at the time warned that the government would likely suffer a backlash. The young protesters that we now see on the streets of Cairo, Ismailiya, Suez, Alexandria and Mahala want a political process that safeguards their democratic participation. Few in Egypt have a desire – or expectation – to see Gamal Mubarak, the president’s son, inherit the presidency in a contrived political gimmick to convince the public that there was a democratic transfer of power. Among my students, Copts and Muslims alike, there is a call for social cohesion. In the aftermath of the bombing at the Two Saints Church in Alexandria, many Egyptians blamed the government for failing to adequately protect minorities and allowing sectarian strife to fester. Now, the momentum – and history – is on the protesters’ side. Firas Al-Atraqchi is an associate professor of practice at department of journalism and mass communication at the American University in Cairo.

Al Jazerra Media Source Reveals Information About Their Governments Attempts to Suppress The Media

In Activism, Human Rights, World News on February 3, 2011 at 12:40 am

February 02, 2011

Jerry Jackson

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Egypt

Al Jazeera may have been the only source of live coverage & comprehensive reporting on the protest in Egypt, the state government there is resorting to mew methods of diminishing the reach of the network’s broadcasts. According to a source, who is working in Cairo, the state- run television station has, for the past few nights, been conducting deliberately slanted man-on-the street interviews regarding media coverage of the massive attacks.


Little is known, however, about how the Al Jazeera staff has managed to stay operational with all the pressure coming from Egyptian authorities. The source at the station, who spoke anonymously out of fear for his own safety, described the personal concern he felt when he returned to the network’s Cairo office on Monday only to see that his colleagues had been detained. He emailed the following account of the events:


This afternoon, after I was coming back to file after spending the morning and midday day chasing the story of police deploying to Cairo’s streets, I called to check in and was told that they had found where we were and that we were continuing to broadcast, and that the detainment/arrests were happening at that very moment

I returned to the location (again, not going to say where) got out of my taxi, and coordinated with the other web producer on the ground here, who had just returned from reporting as well. I was told our team was outside on the street being guarded by some soldiers, and we determined that we would try to enter the building from another direction and avoid that situation.

As I walked along the street, I could see the team detained about 50 feet away. They were not handcuffed, no one was being mistreated or even touched for that matter, as far as I saw in those few seconds. I kept walking. The other web producer made it inside. I walked through a series of cramped side alleys (guys smoking shisha, cars inching through, goats, cows), made a big circle and got into the building as well. My colleague and I remained together in our room, coordinating with the other team members and with Doha headquarters to make sure we knew what was going on. Eventually, we determined we were safe, and not that much later, we got word that everyone had been released.



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