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Een democratische omwenteling in de Arabische Wereld? Deel 4 – 4 ثورة ديمقراطية في العالم العربي؟ جزء

 

nieuws en artikelenoverzicht van de actuele gebeurtenissen in de Arabische wereld deel 4 (zie ook deel 1, deel 2 en deel 3)

 

 

Chronologisch overizcht van dag tot dag (op de site van de NOS): http://nos.nl/artikel/215322-chronologie-onrust-arabische-wereld.html

Voor de nieuwste ontwikkelingen, bekijk hieronder: 

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http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/02/2011210172519776830.html

Defiant Mubarak refuses to resign

 

Egyptian president vows to remain in office until his term ends in September, and not bow down to ‘foreign pressure’.

Last Modified: 10 Feb 2011 21:49 GMT
Thousands thronged Tahrir Square after the army’s statement, in anticipation of Mubarak possibly resigning [EPA] 

Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, has refused to step down from his post, saying that he will not bow to “foreign pressure” in a televised address to the nation.

Mubarak announced that he had put into place a framework that would lead to the amendment of six constitutional articles in the address late on Thursday night.

“I can not and will not accept to be dictated orders from outside, no matter what the source is,” Mubarak said.

He said he was addressing his people with a “speech from the heart”.

Click here for more of Al Jazeera’s special coverage 

Mubarak said that he is “totally committed to fulfilling all the promises” that he has earlier made regarding constitutional and political reform.

“I have laid down a vision … to exit the current crisis, and to realise the demands voiced by the youth and citizens … without undermining the constitution in a manner that ensures the stability of our society,” he said.

Mubarak said he had “initiated a very constructive national dialogue … and this dialogue has yielded preliminary agreement in stances and vews”.

He said he would stick by his earlier announcment of not seeking re-election in September, though he did delegate some powers to Omar Suleiman, the vice-president.

A state of emergency, which has been in place since Mubarak took power 30 years ago, remains in place, though the president promised to lift it as some unspecified point in the future.

“I will remain adamant to shoulder my responsibility, protecting the constitution and safeguarding the interests of Egyptians [until the next elections].

“This is the oath I have taken before God and the nation, and I will continue to keep this oath,” he said.

Mubarak said the current “moment was not against my personality, against Hosni Mubarak”, and concluded by saying that he would not leave Egyptian soil until he was “buried under it”.

Mubarak’s comments were not well-received by hundreds of thousands gathered at Cairo’s Tahrir [Liberation] Square and in other cities, who erupted into angry chants against him. Pro-democracy protesters had been expecting Mubarak to resign, and their mood of celebration quickly turned to extreme anger as they heard the president’s speech.

Rawya Rageh, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Liberation Square said the “mood completely altered as the president progressed with his speech”, with protesters expressing “frustration and anger” at him.

Hundreds took off their shoes and waved them angrily at a screen showing Mubarak’s speech, shouting “Leave, leave!”

‘Go back home’

Omar Suleiman, the vice-president, addressed the nation in a televised address shortly after Mubarak’s speech, and called on protesters to “go back home” and “go back to work”.

He said he had been delegated by the president “the responsibilities to safeguard the stability of Egypt, to safeguard its … assets … to restore peace and security to the Egyptian public, and to restore the normal way of life”.

He said that a process of dialogue with the opposition had yielded positive results, and that “a roadmap has been laid down to achieve the majority of demands”.

The vice-president said that steps had to be taken to “safeguard the revolution of the youth”, but also called for protesters to “join hands” with the government, rather than risk “chaos”.

He told Egyptians “not [to] listen to satellite television stations, whose main purpose is to fuel sedition and to drive a wedge among people”.

Army meeting

Earlier, the Supreme Council of Egyptian Armed Forces had met to discuss the ongoing protests against Mubarak’s government.

In a statement entitled ‘Communique Number One’, televised on state television, the army said it had convened the meeting response to the current political turmoil, and that it would continue to convene such meetings.

Thurday’s meeting was chaired by Mohamed Tantawi, the defence minister, rather than Mubarak, who, as president, would normally have headed the meeting.

“Based on the responsibility of the armed forces and its commitment to protect the people and its keenness to protect the nation… and in support of the legitimate demands of the people [the army] will continue meeting on a continuous basis to examine measures to be taken to protect the nation and its gains and the ambitions of the great Egyptian people,” the statement.

Tens of thousands poured into Tahrir Square after the army statement was televised. Thousands also gathered in Alexandria, Egypt’s second city, our correspondent there said.

Earlier, Hassan al-Roweni, an Egyptian army commander, told protesters in the square that “everything you want will be realised”.

Hassam Badrawi, the secretary general of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), told the BBC and Channel 4 News earlier on that he expected Mubarak to hand over his powers to Omar Suleiman, the vice-president during his address.

“I think the right thing to do now is to take the action that would satisfy … protesters,” Badrawi told BBC television in a live interview.

Ahmed Shafiq, the country’s prime minister, also told the BBC that the president may step down on Thursday evening, and that the situation would be “clarified soon”. He told the Reuters news agency, however, that Mubarak remained in control, and that “everything is still in the hands of the president”.

However, Anas el-Fekky, Egypt’s information minister, denied all reports of Mubarak resigning from early in the day.

“The president is still in power and he is not stepping down,” el-Fekky told Reuters. “The president is not stepping down and everything you heard in the media is a rumour.”

Mubarak met with Suleiman, the vice-president, at the presidential palace ahead of his address.

‘Witnessing history unfold’

Mahmoud Zaher, a retired general in the Egyptian army, told Al Jazeera earlier in the day that Mubarak’s absence from the army meeting was a “clear and strong indication that [Mubarak] is no longer present”, implying that the Egyptian president was not playing a role in governance any longer.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

In short comments ahead of a scheduled speech at Northern Michigan University, Barack Obama, the US president, said the US was watching the situation in Egypt “very closely”. Mubarak had not spoken at that time.

“What is absolutely clear is that we are witnessing history unfold,” he said, adding that this was a “moment of transformation” for Egypt.

“Going forward, we want … all Egyptians to know that America will continue to do everything that we can to support an orderly and genuine transition to democracy.”

Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, responded to reports that Mubarak may resign by saying that he hoped whoever replaced him would uphold Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, according to an Israeli radio report.

Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign affairs chief, said that the 27-nation bloc is ready to help Egypt build a “deep democracy”.

“I reiterated that no matter what happens in the next hours and days, the European Union stands ready to hep build the deep democracy that will underpin stability for the people of Egypt,” she said in a statement, referring to a conversation she had with Aboul Gheit, the Egyptian foreign minister, earlier in the day.

Protesters had earlier responded to statements from political leaders as indicating that they had been successful in their key demand of wanting Mubarak to step down.

Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who has played a key role in helping protesters get organised, said on the microblogging site Twitter on Thursday evening: “Mission accomplished. Thanks to all the brave young Egyptians.”

Ahead of the speech, Jacky Rowland, our correspondent in Tahrir Square, described the atmosphere as “electric”, with “standing room only” in the central Cairo area. She said that thousands gathered there were “celebrating a victory which has been anticipated, rather than actually achieved”.

In Alexandria, Jamal ElShayyal, our correspondent, said the atmosphere turned “from joyous to now furious” as Mubarak completed his speech.

Labour union strikes

The developments came as the 17th day of pro-democracy protests continued across the country on Thursday, with labour unions joining pro-democracy protesters.

Egyptian labour unions held nationwide strikes for a second day, adding momentum to the pro-democracy demonstrations in Cairo and other cities. 

Al Jazeera correspondents in Cairo reported that thousands of doctors, medical students and lawyers, the doctors dressed in white coats and the lawyers in black robes, marched in central Cairo earlier on Thursday and were hailed by pro-democracy protesters as they entered Tahrir [Liberation] Square.

The artists syndicate and public transport workers, including bus drivers, also joined the strikes, our correspondents reported.

Pro-democracy supporters across the country had early on Thursday called for a ten-million strong demonstration to take place after this week’s Friday prayers.

 
Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/02/201121021453441373.html

Mubarak stays, Egypt erupts in rage

 

Egyptian leader disappointed and enraged pro-democracy protesters when he did not announce he would quit as they hoped.

Last Modified: 10 Feb 2011 23:09 GMT
Protesters in Cairo wave shoes in dismay as they learn that Mubarak would not be announcing his resignation [Reuters] 

Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, provoked rage on the country’s streets when, in an anticlimactic speech, he said he would hand some powers to his deputy, but disappointed protesters who had been expecting him to announce his resignation altogether after more than two weeks of unrest.

“Leave! Leave!” chanted thousands who had gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Thursday in anticipation that a televised speech would be the moment their demands for an end to Mubarak’s 30 years of authoritarian, one-man rule were met.

Instead, the 82-year-old former general portrayed himself as a patriot overseeing an orderly transition until elections in September, when his current term ends.

The hush that had swept over the crowd in Tahrir Square at the start of Mubarak’s speech turned into an angry roar halfway through Mubarak’s speech, as it became clear that the defiant president would not be stepping down.

Al Jazeera’s Aymen Mohyeldin, reporting from Cairo, said that the speech was received as “patronising” as he referred to Egyptians as his children, and he only re-enforced the idea that he is “entrenched in the notion that he will hold on to power”.

Mubarak  praised the young people who have stunned the Arab world with unprecedented demonstrations, offering constitutional change and a bigger role for vice-president Omar Suleiman.

Rabab Al Mahdi, a professor at the American University in Cairo, told Al Jazeera that the  “level of anger and frustration at the square is unprecedented”.

“This is putting us into a messy situation that can turn bloody at any moment,” she said, adding that the fact that Mubarak “started a speech for more than 10 minutes, he was talking about himself – very narcissistic, again, giving the message that he’s still in control, and this, in and by itself, offended people.” 

Feeling the pain

“I have felt all the pain you felt,” said Mubarak, who last week had already pledged not to run again in September.

“I will not go back on my response to your voice and your call.”

Egypt’s revolt seek the ouster of Mubarak

Al Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh, reporting from Cairo said that halfway through Mubarak’s speech, when the president spoke of his years in public service, people began taking off their shoes and waving them in the air in a dramatic Arab show of contempt.

“You could also see tears in some of the people’s eyes … a lot of screams of anger, people just breaking down in tears, people just breaking down in pain,” said Rageh.

She said that some people began to immediately mobilise for fresh protests on Friday in response to the speech.

Egyptian state television was not broadcasting the scenes of anger after Mubarak’s speech.

The people’s anger was not restricted to Cairo. In Alexandria, Egypt’s second largest city, crowds began roaring and shouting, heading toward the military base of the northern command to protest.

Al Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal, reporting from Alexandria said that the pro-democracy protesters were “more offended than ever” at hearing that Mubarak intended to remain in power until September.

“They really do not understand how president Mubarak cannot comprehend the strong sentiments which they have been expressing over the past two weeks,” said Elshayyal.

The anger on the streets of Cairo and Alexandria, hours ahead of a planned “Day of Martyrs” protest on Friday to commemorate the 300 or more killed by security forces since January 25 appeared ominous in an environment where the army has been on the streets for two weeks, and on Thursday said it was in charge.

“He [Mubarak] doesn’t seem to understand the magnitude of what is happening in Egypt. At this point I don’t think it will suffice,” said Alanoud al-Sharek at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. “He has performed quite a sleight of hand.

He has transferred authority to Omar Suleiman while somehow retaining his position as ruler.”

Suleiman, a 74-year-old former intelligence chief, is not widely popular with protesters who are seeking a complete break with the military-dominated system which has governed Egypt for the past six decades.

 
Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/02/201121125158705862.html

Egyptians hold ‘Farewell Friday’

 

Protesters’ new push to force President Mubarak to step down may test the military’s loyalties.

Last Modified: 11 Feb 2011 12:25 GMT
Tahrir Square was totally packed as Friday noon prayer got under way [AFP] 

Pro-democracy protesters in Egypt are calling for “millions” to take to the streets across the country in what could become the largest protests so far, a day after President Hosni Mubarak repeated his refusal to step down.

Massive crowds gathered in Tahrir Square ahead on Friday, chanting “the army and the people are one, hand in hand”.

In a statement read out on state television at midday, the military announced that it would lift a 30-year-old emergency law but only “as soon as the current circumstances end”.

The military said it would also guarantee changes to the constitution as well as a free and fair election, and it called for normal business activity to resume.

Many protesters had anticipated a much stronger statement. Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Tahrir Square said people there were hugely disappointed and vowed to take the protests to “a last and final stage”.

“They’re frustrated, they’re angry, and they say protests need to go beyond Liberation [Tahrir] Square, to the doorstep of political institutions,” she said.

Protest organisers have called for 20 million people to come out on “Farewell Friday” in a final attempt to force Mubarak to step down.  

‘Anything can happen’

Hossam El Hamalawy, a pro-democracy organiser and member of the Socialist Studies Centre, said protesters were heading towards the presidential palace from multiple directions, calling on the army to side with them and remove Mubarak.

“People are extremely angry after yesterday’s speech,” he told Al Jazeera. “Anything can happen at the moment. There is self-restrain all over but at the same time I honestly can’t tell you what the next step will be … At this time, we don’t trust them [the army commanders] at all.”

An Al Jazeera reporter overlooking Tahrir said the side streets leading into the square were filling up with crowds.

“It’s an incredible scene. From what I can judge, there are more people here today than yesterday night,” she said.

Hundreds of thousands have gathered in downtown Alexandria for Friday prayers 

“The military has not gone into the square except some top commanders, one asking people to go home … I don’t see any kind of tensions between the people and the army but all of this might change very soon if the army is seen as not being on the side of the people.”

Hundreds of thousands were participating in Friday prayers outside a mosque in downtown Alexandria, Egypt’s second biggest city.

Egyptian television reported that large angry crowds were heading from Giza, adjacent to Cairo, towards Tahrir Square and some would march on the presidential palace.

Protests are also being held in the cities of Mahala, Tanta, Ismailia, and Suez.

In a televised address to the nation on Thursday, Mubarak said he was handing “the functions of the president” to Vice-President Omar Suleiman. But the move means he retains his title of president.

“I have decided to stick… by my responsibility in protecting the constitution and the people’s interests until the power and responsibility are handed over to whomever the voters chose next September, in free and fair elections,” the president said. 

Halfway through his much-awaited speech late at night, anticipation turned into anger among protesters camped in Tahrir Squarewho began taking off their shoes and waving them in the air.

‘Go home’

Immediately after Mubarak’s speech, Suleiman called on the protesters to “go home” and asked Egyptians to “unite and look to the future.”

“Youth of Egypt, heroes of Egypt, go back to your homes and businesses. The country needs you so that we build, develop and create,” Suleiman said.

“Do not listen to tendentious radios and satellite televisions which have no aim but ignite disorder, weaken Egypt and distort its image.”

 

More than 1,000 protesters moved overnight towards the presidential palace in the upscale neighbourhood of Heliopolis in central Cairo.

About 200 of them were there at Friday midday, chanting anti-Mubarak slogans while military commanders behind barbed wire guarded the palace, where several tanks have been deployed.

Thousands of protesters have also been surrounding the radio and television building in Cairo, which they see as a mouthpiece for Mubarak’s regime.

Union workers have joined the protests over the past few days, effectively crippling transportation and several industries, and dealing a sharper blow to Mubarak’s embattled regime.

The US and EU said the announcement to transfer some powers to the vice-president was grossly insufficient and falls short of genuine reforms demanded by the people.

“The Egyptian people have been told that there was a transition of authority, but it is not yet clear that this transition is immediate, meaningful or sufficient,” Barack Obama, the US president, said in a statement

Mohamed ElBaradei, a leading opposition figure, said Egypt “will explode” as a result of Mubarak’s defiance and called on the Egyptian army to intervene “to save the country.”

 
Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
 

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/02/20112108715425794.html

Timeline: US indecision on Egypt

 

Rundown of key statements made by Washington since the protests began against Hosni Mubarak.

Last Modified: 10 Feb 2011 19:18 GMT
US rhetoric regarding Egypt has continuously called for an ‘orderly transition’ [AFP] 

January 25 – Day 1

Protests begin in Egypt on the day Barack Obama, the US president, gives State of the Union address to Congress.

Obama did not mention Egypt but did refer to protests in Tunisia, saying the US “supports the democratic aspirations of all people”.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, gave the first high-level US response to the Egypt protests, saying: “Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.”

January 26 – Day 2

Obama did not mention Egypt in prepared remarks during a visit to Wisconsin, as Egyptian police fought with thousands of people who defied a government ban to protest.

Richard Gibbs, the White House spokesman, said “Egypt is a strong ally” when asked whether the US still backed Mubarak.

Clinton urged Egyptian authorities to not prevent peaceful protests and not block communications.

 

January 27 – Day 3

As protests spread, Joe Biden, the US vice president, calls Mubarak an ally on Middle East peace efforts, saying: “I would not refer to him as a dictator”.

Obama, in a YouTube interview, says reform “is absolutely critical for the long-term well-being of Egypt”.

January 28 – Day 4

The White House, in the strongest US reaction so far, said the country would review its $1.5bn in aid to Egypt.

“We will be reviewing our assistance posture based on events that take place in the coming days,” Gibbs says.

Officials later said no such review was currently planned.

Obama spoke with Mubarak after the Egyptian president, in a televised statement, called for a national dialogue to avoid chaos.

Obama said he urged Mubarak to undertake sweeping reforms “to meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people”.

 

January 29 – Day 5Obama met his national security team on Egypt, as Mubarak dissolved his government and picked intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as vice president.

PJ Crowley, the US state department spokesman, tweeted that the Egyptian leader “can’t reshuffle the deck and then stand pat”.

  

January 30 – Day 6

Clinton, on television talk shows, dodges questions about whether Mubarak should resign but brings the term “orderly transition” into the official US message for the first time.

“We want to see an orderly transition so that no one fills a void, that there not be a void, that there be a well thought out plan that will bring about a democratic participatory government,” Clinton tells Fox News Sunday.

January 31 – Day 7

Obama dispatched Frank Wisner, a former US ambassador to Egypt, to tell Mubarak privately that he must prepare for an “orderly transition” of power.

Publicly, the White House continues to call for democratic reforms but would not be drawn on Mubarak’s fate. Gibbs said: “We’re not picking between those on the street and those in the government.”

 

February 1 – Day 8The state department orders the departure from Egypt of nonessential US government personnel and their families.

Obama made a statement that he spoke with Mubarak after the Egyptian leader pledged not to seek re-election.

He said he told Mubarak that “an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful and it must begin now”.

February 2 – Day 9

Click here for our special Egypt coverage. 

The White House condemned the violence in Egypt and said it was concerned about attacks on peaceful demonstrators, following the bloodiest day of protests.

US officials were vague on whether Obama’s call for an immediate transition of power meant the Washington wanted Mubarak to step down before the September elections.

February 3 – Day 10

The US condemned attacks on journalists. Obama told the US National Prayer Breakfast he is praying “that a better day will dawn over Egypt”.

Republican senator John McCain suggests the US should consider suspending aid to Egypt’s military.

The US Senate passes a bipartisan resolution calling on Mubarak to transfer power to an inclusive caretaker government.

Clinton calls on the Egyptian government and opposition “to begin immediately serious negotiations on a peaceful and orderly transition”.

Americans rally in support of Egyptian democracy [AFP] 

February 4 – Day 11

The White House called for “concrete steps” toward an orderly transition but again stopped short of demanding Mubarak’s immediate resignation.

“Having made that psychological break, that decision that he will not be running again, I think the most important thing for him to ask himself … is how do we make the transition effective, lasting and legitimate,” Obama said.

“And my hope is … that he will end up making the right decision.”

February 5 – Day 12

Clinton said the US backs a transition process led by Suleiman, and that it must be given time to mature.

“The principles are very clear, the operational details are very challenging,” she told a security conference in Munich, adding that radical elements may try to derail the process.

Wisner said it is “critical” that Mubarak stay in power for the time being to manage the transition.

“We need to get a national consensus around the preconditions for the next step forward. The president must stay in office to steer those changes,” Wisner said.

The state department and White House quickly disavowed his comments, saying Wisner spoke in a private capacity.

February 6 – Day 13

Obama said Egypt “is not going to go back to what it was” and tells Fox News he is confident an orderly transition will produce a government that will remain a US partner.

Clinton said Mubarak had responded seriously to US calls for constitutional change, chiefly through his pledge not to run for president again.

She said she will not “prejudge” a bid by the Muslim Brotherhood to enter Egypt’s political process.

February 7 – Day 14 

Obama called for an ‘orderly transition of power’ [AFP]

“Obviously, Egypt has to negotiate a path and they’re making progress,” Obama said.

Crowley, acknowledging doubts about the credibility of the transition process, said: “Our advice would be: test the seriousness of the government and those who are participating to see if it can deliver.”

Gibbs said: “The United States doesn’t pick leaders of other countries.”

February 8 – Day 15

Biden spoke to his Egyptian counterpart by telephone, setting out steps that the country must take in the face of unrelenting protests against Mubarak.

Biden spoke to Suleiman, stressing US support “for an orderly transition in Egypt that is prompt, meaningful, peaceful, and legitimate”.

Washington set out four steps the Egyptian government must take, including an end to harassment of protesters and journalists and the immediate repeal of an emergency law allowing detention without charge.

Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, said Egypt’s military had behaved in “an exemplary fashion” by standing largely on the sidelines during the demonstrations.

February 9 – Day 16

In a sharp escalation of rhetoric, the US government said that Cairo had failed to reach even the “minimum threshold” for reforms in Egypt.

Gibbs said “The [Egyptian] government has not taken the necessary steps that the people of Egypt need to see. That’s why more and more people come out to register their grievances.”

“What you see happening on the streets of Cairo is not all that surprising when you see the lack of steps that their government has taken to meet their concerns.”

Gibbs also criticised the steps taken by Suleiman who is tasked with coming up with a transition plan for Mubarak.

“The process for his transition does not appear to be in line with the people of Egypt. We believe that more has to be done,” said Gibbs.

Ahmed Abul Gheit, Egypt’s foreign minister, lashed out at the White House for imposiing it’s “will” on its Arab ally.

February 10 – Day 17

Noting that he’s watching “history unfold” Obama says that he’s still hoping for an “orderly and genuine” transiton.

He did not, however, comment directly on reports that Mubarak might be stepping down. 

 
Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies

http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/02/20112714401412146.html

Opinion

 

Egypt: An idea whose time has come

 

Egyptians are finally seizing democracy for themselves, but the country’s immediate fate rests on a smooth transition.

Marwa Maziad Last Modified: 11 Feb 2011 12:02 GMT
Egypt’s contemporary equivalent of an American-style civil rights movement has finally occurred, and could prove to have an equally significant impact [Getty] 

Egyptians have revolted. They have done so within an uprising akin to what one could only describe as Egypt’s very own civil rights movement. 

The youth of Egypt called for a march in support of specific economic and political grievances concerning unemployment, raising minimum wages and ending being in a constant state of emergency law.

In response, Egyptians of all walks of life, socio-economic classes, religious backgrounds, and ideological positions have joined the movement and peacefully marched on January 25 in support of specific demands. A display of what a true democracy would look like in Egypt.

This was an “exercise in citizenship”. Based on this day, no matter how the current events will be written down in history, one thing is certain: The relationship between “government” and “citizen” in Egypt has changed forever.

Origins of revolution

On the 25th of January we heard the Egyptian demonstrators chant “Peaceful. Peaceful. Peaceful”, as they pre-emptively stopped any potential clashes with the riot police, showing utmost civility and self-restraint.

Without any identifiable leadership, or specific organizers, the Egyptian people in the hundreds of thousands have proved to themselves and to whoever was watching that they can maintain order as they become more resolute about their demands.

But as president Mubarak remained silent, with no official response till the end of that first day, perhaps in a typical “business as usual” attitude, the demonstrators had started by then to formulate a collective image of themselves as “constituents” with urgent demands to be met.

Expectations became higher and the decision to return on Friday the 28th was made. Christians and Muslims, religious and secularists, rich and poor, peasants and urbanites were to converge at Tahrir Square in the heart of Cairo. By now, the sentiment among Egyptians turned to anger for having not been taken seriously enough by their president.

In the few days to follow, since Friday’s “day of rage” till Tuesday’s “million man march”, the State cut off the internet and disrupted phone services.

The Egyptian people were separated from the outside world in a gesture that could be be seen as collective punishment. Arguably, that was done in an attempt to isolate, intimidate and terrorize people as they were deliberately shown how prospects of chaos and instability would look like.

The police were pulled out; the army was deployed in Egyptian cities. In what looked like a chess game, the State seemed to be “dealing” with the Egyptian people. Violence and clashes ensued due to the disappearance of the police from the Egyptian streets. This could be categorized as “state terror” if indeed reported allegations of the State’s involvement in the acts of violence proved to be true.

Yet in response, and despite the dire circumstances, the demands of the Egyptian protesters have only evolved from specific grievances to a general call for an end to Mubarak’s regime. Perhaps, what the regime did not factor in was the proposition heard among many Egyptians: “If Mubarak is still in office and on his watch all this terror and looting occurred, then how could his presidency be synonymous with order and stability?”

As Mubarak finally gave his first speech four days after the beginning of the protests, announcing a change in government, this was received by protesters as “too little, too late”. Since this moment onwards Mubarak has been playing catch-up with an intensified sentiment among the Egyptian people that he must step down.

Yet Mubarak gave another speech showing no intention of resigning, albeit announcing that he will supervise constitutional reform and that he will not run for another term.

This is when the events became even more “fluid” than what White House press secretary Robert Gibbs had described earlier in the week.  Following Mubarak’s second speech, where he used rhetoric such as “I was born in Egypt and shall die on its soil”, the Egyptian people started to show signs of sympathy toward Mubarak, resulting in what seemed like divisions on what course of action should be taken next.

As the events, Mubarak’s concessions, their details and interpretations became more slippery by the minute, one indication remains clear: There is no going back to where Egypt was before the 25th.

Finding a way out of crisis

After all the visuals of protesters burning Mubarak’s images, of thugs looting and beating, and of the hundreds of Egyptians killed and injured thus far, the collective memory of the Egyptians cannot be erased.

That said, there is still a way out of this crisis.

Based on iterations in op-eds published in different sources this week and earlier by distinguished Egyptian national symbols in the sciences, business, and law, such as Ahmed Zewail, Naguib Sawirs, Ahmed Kamal Abul Magd, Farouq Elbaz, and Magdy Yacoub the following could be proposed:

First, forming a council of men and women, including Egyptian youth, to write a new constitution based on citizens’ liberties and rights to insure an orderly transfer of power.

Second, judiciary independence must be safeguarded.

Third, parliamentary elections must be held to account for allegations of fraud in last November’s election. As for the presidency, elections should be held within one year under the supervision of the independent judiciary branch.

Fourth, a transitional government must be formed. Current vice president Omar Soliman may play a transitional role until the next elections.

In fact, these proposals seem to be agreed upon among most Egyptians. For this to happen the Egyptian people are to remain unified and in solidarity. They are not to internalize the paternalistic attitude that they are not “ready for democracy”, or that they are not keen on “freedom” as if this is a value exclusive to western cultures.

Indeed the Egyptian people have started a spontaneous yet orderly series of protests that has remained peaceful and civilized, despite the constant attacks and provocations by state apparatuses.

Yet for the vision to succeed, the military must retain its independence and allegiance to the protection of the nation and the people of Egypt and not to Mubarak’s crumbling regime.

Additionally, political parties and civil society must assume their roles in Egypt’s democratic future by understanding the core of democracy, which is based on diversity of opinions, ideologies and even collision of agendas, yet – and this is crucial – maintains itself as a democratic system in which those numerous positions and inclinations exist and still function without the monopoly of a single voice over the rest of the voices representing different constituents within the society.

Moreover, the demonstrations reflecting tremendous diversity within the Egyptian people show enough evidence that the people of Egypt are ready to peacefully take their country in their own hands. As one of the protestors put it, “We have proven that we can keep this country safe… we have proven that we can take this country forward.”

In the end, this has been an “organic” revolution coming from within and will be marked down in history books worldwide, if for no other reasons but its inception. Egyptians today refuse to be locked and burdened by a history to which they have not contributed their own writing.

Now they are making history anew. The world needs to follow this tide that has already begun, because Egyptians have made it clear that they are here to stay as free and dignified citizens.

Senator John Kerry was right to say there is a need for the United States to align with the new Egypt, for democracy in Egypt is indeed an idea whose time has come. And as Victor Hugo said, nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.

Marwa Maziad is a fellow at the Middle East Center and faculty at the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington and also a contributing writer to Egyptian newspaper Almasry Alyoum.

 
Source:
Al Jazeera

 

Middle East
 

Hosni Mubarak resigns as president

 

Egyptian president stands down and hands over power to the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces.

Pro-democracy protesters in Tahrir Square have vowed to take the protests to a ‘last and final stage’ [AFP] 

Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, has resigned from his post, handing over power to the armed forces.

Omar Suleiman, the vice-president, announced in a televised address that the president was “waiving” his office, and had handed over authority to the Supreme Council of the armed forces.

Suleiman’s short statement was received with a roar of approval and by celebratory chanting and flag-waving from a crowd of hundreds of thousands in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, as well by pro-democracy campaigners who attended protests across the country on Friday.

The crowd in Tahrir chanted “We have brought down the regime”,  while many were seen crying, cheering and embracing one another.

Mohamed ElBaradei, an opposition leader, hailed the moment as being the “greatest day of my life”, in comments to the Associated Press news agency.

“The country has been liberated after decades of repression,” he said.

“Tonight, after all of these weeks of frustration, of violence, of intimidation … today the people of Egypt undoubtedly [feel they] have been heard, not only by the president, but by people all around the world,” our correspondent at Tahrir Square reported, following the announcement.

“The sense of euphoria is simply indescribable,” our correspondent at Mubarak’s Heliopolis presidential palace, where at least ten thousand pro-democracy activists had gathered, said.

Pro-democracy activists in the Egyptian capital had marched on the presidential palace and state television buildings on Friday, the 18th consecutive day of protests.

Anger at state television

At the state television building earlier in the day, thousands had blocked people from entering or leaving, accusing the broadcaster of supporting the current government and of not truthfully reporting on the protests.

“The military has stood aside and people are flooding through [a gap where barbed wire has been moved aside],” Al Jazeera’s correspondent at the state television building reported.

He said that “a lot of anger [was] generated” after Mubarak’s speech last night, where he repeated his vow to complete his term as president.

‘Gaining momentum’

Outside the palace in Heliopolis, where at least ten thousand protesters had gathered in Cairo, another Al Jazeera correspondent reported that there was a strong military presence, but that there was “no indication that the military want[ed] to crack down on protesters”.

Click here for more of Al Jazeera’s special coverage 

She said that army officers had engaged in dialogue with protesters, and that remarks had been largely “friendly”.

Tanks and military personnel had been deployed to bolster barricades around the palace.

Our correspondent said the crowd in Heliopolis was “gaining momentum by the moment”, and that the crowd had gone into a frenzy when two helicopters were seen in the air around the palace grounds.

“By all accounts this is a highly civilised gathering. people are separated from the palace by merely a barbed wire … but nobody has even attempted to cross that wire,” she said.

As crowds grew outside the palace, Mubarak left Cairo on Friday for the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Shaikh, according to sources who spoke to Al Jazeera.

In Tahrir Square, hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered, chanting slogans against Mubarak and calling for the military to join them in their demands.

Our correspondent at the square said the “masses” of pro-democracy campaigners there appeared to have “clear resolution” and “bigger resolve” to achieve their goals than ever before.

However, he also said that protesters were “confused by mixed messages” coming from the army, which has at times told them that their demands will be met, yet in communiques and other statements supported Mubarak’s staying in power until at least September.

Army statement

In a statement read out on state television at midday on Friday, the military announced that it would lift a 30-year-old emergency law but only “as soon as the current circumstances end”.

IN VIDEO
Thousands are laying siege to state television’s office

The military said it would also guarantee changes to the constitution as well as a free and fair election, and it called for normal business activity to resume.

Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Tahrir Square said people there were hugely disappointed with that army statement, and had vowed to take the protests to “a last and final stage”.

“They’re frustrated, they’re angry, and they say protests need to go beyond Liberation [Tahrir] Square, to the doorstep of political institutions,” she said.

Protest organisers have called for 20 million people to come out on “Farewell Friday” in a final attempt to force Mubarak to step down.  

Alexandria protests

Hossam El Hamalawy, a pro-democracy organiser and member of the Socialist Studies Centre, said protesters were heading towards the presidential palace from multiple directions, calling on the army to side with them and remove Mubarak.

“People are extremely angry after yesterday’s speech,” he told Al Jazeera. “Anything can happen at the moment. There is self-restraint all over but at the same time I honestly can’t tell you what the next step will be … At this time, we don’t trust them [the army commanders] at all.”

An Al Jazeera reporter overlooking Tahrir said the side streets leading into the square were filling up with crowds.

“It’s an incredible scene. From what I can judge, there are more people here today than yesterday night,” she said.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters havehered
in the port city of Alexandria [AFP] 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

“The military has not gone into the square except some top commanders, one asking people to go home … I don’t see any kind of tensions between the people and the army but all of this might change very soon if the army is seen as not being on the side of the people.”

Hundreds of thousands were participating in Friday prayers outside a mosque in downtown Alexandria, Egypt’s second biggest city.

Thousands of pro-democracy campaigners also gathered outside a presidential palace in Alexandria.

Egyptian television reported that large angry crowds were heading from Giza, adjacent to Cairo, towards Tahrir Square and some would march on the presidential palace.

Protests are also being held in the cities of Mansoura, Mahala, Tanta, Ismailia, and Suez, with thousands in attendance.

Violence was reported in the north Sinai town of el-Arish, where protesters attempted to storm a police station. At least one person was killed, and 20 wounded in that attack, our correspondent said.

Dismay at earlier statement

In a televised address to the nation on Thursday, Mubarak said he was handing “the functions of the president” to Vice-President Omar Suleiman. But the move means he retains his title of president.

Halfway through his much-awaited speech late at night, anticipation turned into anger among protesters camped in Tahrir Square who began taking off their shoes and waving them in the air.

Immediately after Mubarak’s speech, Suleiman called on the protesters to “go home” and asked Egyptians to “unite and look to the future.”

Union workers have joined the protests over the past few days, effectively crippling transportation and several industries, and dealing a sharper blow to Mubarak’s embattled regime.

 
 

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/02/201121125158705862.html

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3 Feb 10 2011 by Hala Kamal
[Image from Jadaliyya] [Image from Jadaliyya]

[Circulating in the Egyptian Public Space]

New word added to Oxford Dictionary: 

Mubarak (v.): To stick something, or to glue something. 

Triumph as Mubarak quits

 

Millions celebrate as Egyptian president cedes power to the army, ushering in a new era of optimism in the Arab world.

Last Modified: 11 Feb 2011 22:59 GMT
Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, has resigned from his post, handing over power to the armed forces and ending a 30-year grip on the largest Arab nation.Omar Suleiman, the vice-president, announced in a televised address on Friday that the president was “waiving” his office, and had handed over authority to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.Suleiman’s short statement was received with a roar of approval and by celebratory chanting and flag-waving from a crowd of hundreds of thousands in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, as well as by other pro-democracy campaigners who attending protests across the country.

IN VIDEO
Tahrir Square responds to Mubarak’s resignation

The top figure in Egypt’s new regime is now Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, the country’s defence minister.

After the announcement, he drove past Mubarak’s former palace, where crowds cheered him. He stopped briefly to thank and hail the pro-democracy campaigners before driving in.

In its third statement to the nation since Thursday, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces said it was examining the situation “in order to materialise the aspirations of our great nation”.

The statement said that “resolutions and statements regarding the … actions to be followed” in order to achieve the demands of the people will be handed down later.

In the televised address, the spokesman also extended “greetings and appreciation” to Mubarak for his service to the country, and saluted the “marytrs and those who have fallen” during the protests.

‘Dream come true’

The crowd in Tahrir responded to Suleiman’s statement by chanting “we have brought down the regime”, while many were seen crying, cheering and embracing one another.

Mohamed ElBaradei, a leading opposition leader, hailed the moment as being “a dream come true” while speaking to Al Jazeera.

“I can’t tell you how every Egyptian feels today,” he said. “We have been able to restore our humanity … to be free and independent”.

ElBaradei reiterated that Egypt now needs to return to stability, and proposed that a transition government be put in place for the next year.

Click here for more of Al Jazeera’s special coverage 

The government, he said, would include figures from the army, from the opposition and from other circles.

“We need to go on … our priority is to make sure the country is restored as a socially cohesive, economically vibrant and … democratic country,” he said.

Ayman Nour, another opposition figure and a former president, told Al Jazeera that he would consider running for the presidency if there was consensus on his candidacy.

He called Friday “the greatest day in Egyptian history”.

“This nation has been born again. These people have been born again, and this is a new Egypt.”

Amr Moussa, the secretary-general of the Arab league, said on Friday that he would resign from his post, one that he has headed for about ten years, “within weeks”. Some analysts say he may well run for the Egyptian presidency when elections are held.

Following Mubarak’s announcement, our correspondent in Tahrir Square, said: “Tonight, after all of these weeks of frustration, of violence, of intimidation … today the people of Egypt undoubtedly [feel they] have been heard, not only by the president, but by people all around the world.”

‘Explosion of emotion’

Al Jazeera’s correspondents across the country reported scenes of jubilation and celebration on the streets of major cities.

 
Our online producer in Tahrir Square describes scenes of celebration

“The sense of euphoria is simply indescribable,” our correspondent at Mubarak’s Heliopolis presidential palace, where at least ten thousand pro-democracy activists had gathered, said.

“I have waited, I have worked all my adult life to see the power of the people come to the fore and show itself. I am speechless,” Dina Magdi, a pro-democracy campaigner in Tahrir Square told Al Jazeera.

“The moment is not only about Mubarak stepping down, it is also about people’s power to bring about the change that no-one … thought possible.”

In Alexandria, Egypt’s second city, our correspondent described an “explosion of emotion”. He said that hundreds of thousands were celebrating in the streets.

Responding to the announcement, Barack Obama, the US president, said his country would “continue to be a friend and partner to Egypt”, and would provide whatever assistance was “necessary and asked for”.

He said voice of the Egyptian people had been heard, and that Mubarak had “responded to the … people’s hunger for change”.

He said that moving forward, the Egyptian military must ensure the rights of citizens are protected, that the state of emergency is lifted, the constitution revised and a clear path created to free and fair elections. He also praised the army’s conduct so far.

Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, told Al Jazeera that the 27-nation bloc “respect[ed] the decision that President Mubarak has taken”.

She said the EU wanted to “pay tribute to the dignity of” Egyptians’ behaviour at this time, and that Europe was ready to offer its assistance in this transition period in the fields of elections, building civil society and other areas.

The Swiss foreign ministry, meanwhile, has confirmed to Al Jazeera that they have frozen assets linked to Mubarak.

‘Farewell Friday’

Suleiman’s announcement came after hundreds of thousands of Egyptians took the streets for the 18th consecutive day, marching on presidential palaces, state television buildings and other government installations. 

Earlier on Friday, hordes of pro-democracy activists took to the streets in several cities, including Alexandria [AFP] 

Pro-democracy activists had dubbed the day ‘Farewell Friday’, and had called for “millions” to turn out and demand that Mubarak resign.

Hundreds of thousands were seen to have gathered at Cairo’s Tahrir Square, which has been the focal point of protests, chanting slogans against the government and expressing their dissatisfaction with Mubarak’s statement on Thursday night, when he had reiterated his vow to complete his term.

Hundreds of thousands were also seen demonstrating in Alexandria, where several thousand also marched to a presidential palace there.

Protests were also reported from the cities of Mansoura, Mahalla, Suez, Tanta and Ismailia with thousands in attendance.

Violence was reported in the north Sinai town of el-Arish, where protesters attempted to storm a police station.

At least one person was killed, and 20 wounded in that attack, our correspondent said.

Earlier in the day, protesters had laid siege to the state television’s offices in Cairo, accusing the broadcaster of being a Mubarak mouthpiece. The military stood aside and allowed them to surround the building, which had been heavily defended in previous days.

At least ten thousand also gathered outside Mubarak’s Heliopolis presidential palace, where our correspondent reported that there was a strong military presence throughout the day, but no indication that the army intended to crack down on protesters.

As crowds grew outside the palace, Mubarak left Cairo on Friday for the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Shaikh, according to sources who spoke to Al Jazeera.

Army statement

Earlier on Friday, before Mubarak’s resignation, in a statement read out on state television at midday on Friday, the military had announced that it would lift a 30-year-old emergency law but only “as soon as the current circumstances end”.

The military said it would also guarantee changes to the constitution as well as a free and fair election, and it called for normal business activity to resume.

Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Tahrir Square said people there were hugely disappointed with that army statement, and had vowed to take the protests to “a last and final stage”.

 
Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/02/201121253441731292.html

 

Post-Mubarak era dawns on Egypt

 

People power has spoken in the biggest Arab nation just four weeks after Tunisians toppled their own ageing ruler.

Last Modified: 12 Feb 2011 05:56 GMT
Egyptians have woken to a new dawn after 30 years of rule under Hosni Mubarak.As the Muslim call to prayer reverberated across Cairo on Saturday, the sound of horns honking in jubilation could still be heard after a night when millions celebrated the fall of the president, who has handed over power to the military.After 18 days of rallies at Cairo’s Tahrir Square, resisting police assaults and a last-ditch raid by Mubarak supporters, people packed not just the epicentre but, it seemed, every street and neighbourhood of the capital. Similar was the scene in other cities and towns across the country.Fireworks lit the night sky, cars honked under swathes of red, white and black Egyptian flags and people hoisted children above their heads. Some took souvenir pictures with smiling soldiers atop their tanks on city streets.Everyone cried, laughed and embraced in the hope of a new era.Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland, reporting from Cairo, said that in the coming days people will have some concerns.“The obvious thing that is going to be concerning many people is to have some kind of a clear roadmap for the progress towards democratic elections,” she said. “After all this was a revolution not only to overthrow President Mubarak, but also to remove the whole system and install it with one where people would have freedom of choice with [regards to who] who runs the country.”It all began when Omar Suleiman, the vice-president, said on Friday in a televised address that the president was “waiving” his office, and had handed over authority to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.Suleiman’s 50-word statement was received with a roar of approval and by celebratory chanting and flag-waving from a crowd of hundreds of thousands in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, as well as by other pro-democracy campaigners who were attending protests across the country.

IN VIDEO
Tahrir Square responds to Mubarak’s resignation

The top figure in Egypt is now Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, the country’s defence minister and head of the supreme council.

In its third statement to the nation since Thursday, the council said in a televised address that it was examining the situation “in order to materialise the aspirations of our great nation”.

The council spokesman said that “resolutions and statements regarding the … actions to be followed” in order to achieve the demands of the people will be handed down later.

He also extended “greetings and appreciation” to Mubarak for his service to the country, and saluted the “martyrs and those who have fallen” during the protests.

Nezar al Sayyad, a Middle East specialist, told Al Jazeera that Egypt  “is in a very critical stage in terms of what is going to happen next.”

“I think it’s extremely important to remember here that although Omar Suleiman made the announcement that Mubarak made the decision to step down, we don’t really know if Mubarak decided to step down or [if] he was forcibly removed by the armed forces and by the supreme council,” Al Sayyad said.

He said the next steps taken by Tantawi and other members of the supreme council,  will “be extremely important in pushing the country forward”.

‘Dream come true’

The crowd in Tahrir responded to Suleiman’s statement by chanting “we have brought down the regime”.

Mohamed ElBaradei, a prominent opposition leader, hailed the moment as being “a dream come true”.

“I can’t tell you how every Egyptian feels today,” he said. “We have been able to restore our humanity … to be free and independent”.

ElBaradei reiterated that Egypt now needs to return to stability and proposed that a transition government be put in place for the next year.

Click here for more of Al Jazeera’s special coverage 

The government, he said, would include figures from the army, from the opposition and from other circles.

“We need to go on … our priority is to make sure the country is restored as a socially cohesive, economically vibrant and … democratic country,” he said.

Ayman Nour, another opposition figure and a former presidential candidate, told Al Jazeera that he would consider running for the presidency again if there was consensus on his candidacy.

He said Februray 11, 2011 is “the greatest day in Egyptian history”.

“This nation has been born again. These people have been born again, and this is a new Egypt.”

Amr Moussa, the secretary-general of the Arab League, said that he would resign from his post, one that he has headed for about 10 years, “within weeks”. Some analysts say he may well run for the Egyptian presidency when elections are held.

Following Mubarak’s announcement, our correspondent in Tahrir Square, said: “Tonight, after all of these weeks of frustration, of violence, of intimidation … today the people of Egypt undoubtedly [feel they] have been heard, not only by the president, but by people all around the world.”

‘Explosion of emotion’

Our correspondents across the country reported scenes of jubilation and celebration on the streets of major cities.

 
Our online producer in Tahrir Square describes scenes of celebration

“The sense of euphoria is simply indescribable,” said our correspondent at Mubarak’s Heliopolis presidential palace, where at least 10,000 pro-democracy activists had gathered.

“I have waited, I have worked all my adult life to see the power of the people come to the fore and show itself. I am speechless,” Dina Magdi, a pro-democracy campaigner in Tahrir Square said.

“The moment is not only about Mubarak stepping down, it is also about people’s power to bring about the change that no-one … thought possible.”

In Alexandria, Egypt’s second largest city, our correspondent described an “explosion of emotion”. He said that hundreds of thousands were celebrating in the streets.

‘Farewell Friday’

Suleiman’s announcement came after hundreds of thousands of Egyptians took the streets for the 18th consecutive day, marching on presidential palaces, state television buildings and other government installations. 

Thousands of pro-democracy activists took to the streets on Friday in several cities, including Alexandria [AFP] 

They had dubbed the day ‘Farewell Friday’, and had called for “millions” to turn out and demand that Mubarak resign.

Hundreds of thousands gathered at Tahrir Square, chanting slogans against the government.

Similar numbers were also reported from Alexandria, where some protesters marched to a presidential palace there.

Protests were also reported from the cities of Mansoura, Mahalla, Suez, Tanta and Ismailia with thousands in attendance.

Violence was reported in the north Sinai town of el-Arish, where protesters attempted to storm a police station.

At least one person was killed, and 20 wounded in that attack, our correspondent said.

 
Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/02/201121235130627461.html

Algeria protesters break cordon

 

Pro-democracy demonstrators, inspired by the Egyptian revolution, ignore official ban and march in the capital Algiers.

Last Modified: 12 Feb 2011 05:25 GMT
Many demonstrators in Algeria have been inspired by the events unfolding in Egypt and Tunisia [AFP] 

Algerian security forces and pro-democracy protesters are clashing, as demonstrations got underway in the capital Algiers on Saturday.

At least 2,000 protestors were able to overcome a security cordon enforced around the capital’s May First Square, joining other demonstrators calling for reform.

Earlier, thousands of police in riot gear were in position to stop the demonstrations that could mimic the uprising which forced out Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Security forces have closed all entrances to the capital and already arrested hundreds of protesters, sources told Al Jazeera.

At the scene of the protests, blogger and activist, Elias Filali, said human right’s activists and syndicate members were among those arrested.

“I’m right in the middle of the march,” he told Al Jazeera. “People are being arrested and are heavily guarded by the police.”

Officials banned Saturday’s opposition march, but protesters were determined to see it through.

Peaceful protests

Filali said the demonstrators were determined to remain peaceful, but he added that the police “want the crowd to go violent and then get them portrayed as a violent crowd”.

Protesters are demanding greater democratic freedoms, a change of government, and more jobs.

Earlier, police also charged at demonstrators and arrested 10 people outside the Algiers offices of the opposition Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD), as they celebrated Mubarak’s downfall, Said Sadi, RCD leader, told AFP news agency.

“It wasn’t even an organised demonstration. It was spontaneous. It was an explosion of joy,” he said.

Mubarak’s resignation on Friday, and last month’s overthrow of Tunisian leader, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, have electrified the Arab world.

Many are left wondering which country could be next in a region where a flammable mix of authoritarian rule and popular anger are the norm.

“The timing is absolutely perfect. [Mubarak’s departure] couldn’t have come at a better time,” Filali told Al Jazeera ahead of the protests.

“This is a police state, just like the Egyptian regime [was],” Filali said, adding that Algeria’s government was “corrupt to the bone, based on electoral fraud, and repression”.

“There is a lot of discontent among young people … the country is badly managed by a corrupt regime that does not want to listen,” he added.

Police on alert

Said Sadi, the RCD leader, had said earlier that he expected around 10,000 more police officers to reinforce the 20,000 that blocked the last demonstration on January 22, when five people were killed and more than 800 hurt.

Police presence is routine in Algeria to counter the threat of attacks by al Qaeda insurgents. But Filali called the heavy police presence in the capital on Saturday “unbelievable”.

At May First Square, the starting point for the planned march, there were around 40 police vans, jeeps and buses lined up, Filali said.

At several road junctions, the police had parked small military-style armoured vehicles which are rarely seen in the city. Police standing outside a fuel station, about 2 km from the square, were wearing anti-riot body armour.

The latest rally is being organised by the National Co-ordination for Change and Democracy (CNCD), a three-week-old umbrella group of opposition parties, civil society movements and unofficial unions inspired by the mass protests in Tunisia and Egypt.

Demonstrators have been protesting over the last few months against unemployment, high food costs, poor housing and corruption – similar issues that fuelled uprisings in other north African nations.

Earlier this month, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria’s president, said he would lift emergency powers, address unemployment and allow democratic marches to take place in the country, in a bid to stave off unrest.

“The regime is frightened,” Filali said. “And the presence of 30,000 police officers in the capital gives you an idea of how frightened the regime [is] of its people.”

Wider implications

Widespread unrest in Algeria could have implications for the world economy because it is a major oil and gas exporter, but many analysts say an Egypt-style revolt is unlikely as the government can use its energy wealth to placate most grievances.

Meanwhile, in a statement, rights group Amnesty International said “Algerians must be allowed to express themselves freely and hold peaceful protests in Algiers and elsewhere”.

“We urge the Algerian authorities not to respond to these demands by using excessive force.”

The government said it refused permission for the rally for public order reasons, not because it is trying to stifle dissent. It said it is working hard to create jobs, build new homes and improve public services.

Other Arab countries have also felt the ripples from the revolts in Egypt and Tunisia.

Jordan’s King Abdullah replaced his prime minister after protests.

In Yemen, President Ali Abdullah Saleh promised opponents he would not seek a new term.

The Bahraini government has also made several concessions in recent weeks, including promising higher social spending. Activists there have called for protests on February 14, the tenth anniversary of Bahrain’s constitution.

 
Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies

http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/02/201121115231647934.html

The resurrection of pan-Arabism

 

The Egyptian revolution has resurrected a new type of pan-Arabism, based on social justice not empty slogans.

Lamis Andoni Last Modified: 11 Feb 2011 18:51 GMT
The Egyptian revolution has resurrected pan-Arabism but this is not the pan-Arabism of previous generations [GALLO/GETTY] 

The Egyptian revolution, itself influenced by the Tunisian uprising, has resurrected a new sense of pan-Arabism based on the struggle for social justice and freedom. The overwhelming support for the Egyptian revolutionaries across the Arab world reflects a sense of unity in the rejection of tyrannical, or at least authoritarian, leaders, corruption and the rule of a small financial and political elite.

Arab protests in solidarity with the Egyptian people also suggest that there is a strong yearning for the revival of Egypt as a pan-Arab unifier and leader. Photographs of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the former Egyptian president, have been raised in Cairo and across Arab capitals by people who were not even alive when Nasser died in 1970. The scenes are reminiscent of those that swept Arab streets in the 1950s and 1960s.

But this is not an exact replica of the pan-Arab nationalism of those days. Then, pan-Arabism was a direct response to Western domination and the 1948 establishment of the state of Israel. Today, it is a reaction to the absence of democratic freedoms and the inequitable distribution of wealth across the Arab world.

We are now witnessing the emergence of a movement for democracy that transcends narrow nationalism or even pan-Arab nationalism and which embraces universal human values that echo from north to south and east to west.

This is not to say that there is no anti-imperialist element within the current movement. But the protests in Egypt and elsewhere promote a deeper understanding of human emancipation, which forms the real basis for freedom from both repression and foreign domination.

Unlike the pan-Arabism of the past, the new movement represents an intrinsic belief that it is freedom from fear and human dignity that enables people to build better societies and to create a future of hope and prosperity. The old “wisdom” of past revolutionaries that liberation from foreign domination precedes the struggle for democracy has fallen.

The revolutionaries of Egypt, and before them Tunisia, have exposed through deeds – not merely words – the leaders who are tyrants towards their own people, while humiliatingly subservient to foreign powers. They have shown the impotence of empty slogans that manipulate animosity towards Israel to justify a fake Arab unity, which in turn serves only to mask sustained oppression and the betrayal of Arab societies and the aspirations of the Palestinian people.

The Palestinian pretext
The era of using the Palestinian cause as a pretext for maintaining martial laws and silencing dissent is over. The Palestinians have been betrayed, not helped, by leaders who practice repression against their own people. It is no longer sufficient for regimes in Syria and Iran to claim support for Palestinian resistance in order to stifle freedom of expression and to shamelessly tread on human rights in their own countries.
Equally, it is no longer acceptable for the Palestinian Fatah and Hamas to cite their record in resisting Israel when justifying their suppression of each other and the rest of the Palestinian people. Young Palestinians are responding to the message of the movement and embracing the idea that combatting internal injustice – whether practised by Fatah or Hamas – is a prerequisite for the struggle to end Israeli occupation and not something to be endured for the sake of that struggle.
Events in Egypt and Tunisia have revealed that Arab unity against internal repression is stronger than that against a foreign threat – neither the American occupation of Iraq nor the Israeli occupation galvanised the Arab people in the way that a single act by a young Tunisian who chose to set himself alight rather than live in humiliation and poverty has.
This does not mean that Arabs do not care about the occupied people of Iraq or Palestine – tens, sometimes hundreds, of thousands have taken to the streets across Arab countries at various times to show solidarity with Iraqis and Palestinians – but it does reflect the realisation that the absence of democratic freedoms has contributed to the continued occupation of those countries.
The Arab failure to defend Iraq or liberate Palestine has come to symbolise an Arab impotence that has been perpetuated by the state of fear and paralysis in which the ordinary Arab citizen, marginalised by social injustice and crushed by security apparatus oppression, has existed.
When they were allowed to rally in support of Iraqis or Palestinians it was mainly so that their anger might be deflected from their own governments and towards a foreign threat. For so long, they put their own socio-economic grievances aside to voice their support for the occupied, only to wake up the next day shackled by the same chains of repression.
All the while, both pro-Western and anti-Western governments continued with business as usual – the first camp relying on US support to consolidate their authoritarian rule and the second on anti-Israel slogans to give legitimacy to their repression of their people.
But now people across the region – not only in Egypt and Tunisia – have lost faith in their governments. For make no mistake, when protesters have gathered in Amman or Damascus to express their solidarity with the Egyptian revolutionaries in Tahrir Square, they are actually objecting to their own rulers.
In Ramallah, the protesters repeated a slogan calling for the end of internal Palestinian divisions (which, in Arabic, rhymes with the Egyptian call for the end to the regime), as well as demanding an end to negotiations with Israel – sending a clear message that there will be no room left for the Palestinian Authority if it continues to rely on such negotiations.
In the 1950s and 1960s, millions of Arabs poured onto the streets determined to continue the liberation of the Arab world from the remnants of colonial domination and the creeping American hegemony. In 2011, millions have poured onto the streets determined not only to ensure their freedom but also to ensure that the mistakes of previous generations are not repeated. Slogans against a foreign enemy – no matter how legitimate – ring hollow if the struggle for democratic freedoms is set aside.
The protesters in Cairo and beyond may raise photographs of Gamal Abdel Nasser, because they see him as a symbol of Arab dignity. But, unlike Nasser, the demonstrators are invoking a sense of pan-Arab nationalism that understands that national liberation cannot go hand-in-hand with the suppression of political dissent. For this is a genuine Arab unity galvanised by the common yearning for democratic freedoms.
 
 
 

 

  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Lamis Andoni is an analyst and commentator on Middle Eastern and Palestinian affairs.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Ik wil hier ook graag wijzen op een post van blogster Maria Trepp (Univers Leiden) over de, helaas afgelopen jaar overleden, Egyptische hoogleraar Nasr Abu Zayd. Zelf besteedde ik op dit blog ook aandacht aan zijn werk, zie hier. Maar Maria Trepp heeft de afgelopen jaren veel aandacht aan hem besteed. Van de site van Maria Trepp:

De Egyptenaar, liberale moslim en balling Nasr Abu Zayd
  Ik ben verdrietig dat Nasr Abu Zayd
(1943-2010) de Egyptische revolutie niet meer heeft meegemaakt.Hij is vorig jaar overleden.Over de ontwikkelingen in Egypte zou hij blij en trots zijn- en sceptisch over de toekomst en de democratisering.Hij was sinds 1995 balling in Nederland
nadat hij in Egypte tot geloofsafvallige werd bestempeld. Hij beschouwde de Koran als zowel religieus alsook mythisch en literair werk.Wikipedia: “Abu Zayd gold als groot kenner
van de islamitische stromingenin de islamitische wetenschappen en stelde zich tot doel een te ontwikkelen die moslims in staat stelt hun eigen tradities te verbinden met de moderne wereld van
vrijheid, gelijkheid, mensenrechten en democratie. Op basis van kritisch onderzoek van de Koran en de hadiethliteratuur kwam Abu Zayd onder meer tot de conclusie dat de juridische positie van de vrouw gelijk dient te zijn aan die van de man.”Ik heb over hem, bevriende wetenschapper, oud-Cleveringahoogleraar en hoogleraar aan de UvH, vele blogs geschreven.Hier een overzicht.
HIER verder lezen
Van de site van de NOS

Muziek uit de Egyptische revolutie

Het woord kwam de afgelopen weken iedere keer weer terug om de stemming op het Tahrirplein te beschrijven: festivalsfeer. Natuurlijk was er op sommige dagen veel geweld, maar op andere dagen was er juist verbroedering. Mensen aten, dronken en dansten met elkaar. En de tentjes op het plein hadden zo op de campings van Pinkpop of Lowlands kunnen staan.

Bij een festival hoort muziek. En die muziek kwam er dus ook. Op het plein speelden orkestjes. De slogans tegen Mubarak werden soms complete liederen. Bijvoorbeeld vorige week vrijdag, de dag die de demonstranten hadden omgedoopt tot ‘dag van vertrek’.

“Laat Mubarak onze stem horen. We vragen allemaal hetzelfde, vertrek, vertrek, vertrek! Ga, ga, Hosni Mubarak! Het volk wil het einde van het regime. Hij moet vertrekken, wij vertrekken niet. Wij vragen allemaal met één stem: vertrek!”

Clip

De demonstraties op het Tahrirplein legden niet het hele land plat, in de Egyptische studio’s werd gewoon doorgewerkt. Ook daar kwamen muziek en clips vandaan. Eén dag voor het vertrek van Mubarak werd deze video geplaatst.

“We hieven onze hoofden en maakten ons geen zorgen meer over honger. Het belangrijkste is nu ons recht. En geschiedenis schrijven met ons bloed. Als jij één van ons bent, zeg ons dan niet dat we weg moeten gaan en onze droom moeten verlaten. Gebruik niet het woord ‘ik’. In elke straat van mijn land wordt geschreeuwd om vrijheid.”

Buitenland

Ook in het buitenland werden muzikanten geïnspireerd door de gebeurtenissen in Egypte. Zoals een groep Afro-Amerikaanse rappers, die het nummer #jan25 maakten. Het nummer is genoemd naar het ‘hashtag’ dat twitteraars gebruikten in hun berichten, om duidelijk te maken dat ze over de Egyptische opstand twitterden.

“Eerst negeren ze je. Dan lachen ze je uit. Dan vechten ze tegen je. En dan win je.”

En ook de wereldberoemde zanger Wyclef Jean maakte een nummer over Egypte.

King of Pop

Maar de opstand in Egypte kon ook reputaties breken. Zoals die van de Egyptische zanger Tamer Hosny, de Arabische ‘King of Pop’. Hij zou betogers vorige week hebben opgeroepen het plein te verlaten, nadat Mubarak ze verschillende toezeggingen had gedaan.

Toen hij een week later weer op het plein verscheen, werd hij uitgefloten en aangevallen. Een filmpje van een huilende Tamer Hosny belandde op Youtube.

“Zij begrijpen me verkeerd, ik weet niet wat er is gebeurd. Ik ben hier gekomen om te zeggen dat ik verkeerd ben voorgelicht. En ik wilde gewoon zeggen dat het mij spijt, tegen het volk. Dat wilde ik ze duidelijk maken.”

Tunesië

De Egyptische opstand kwam er na een soortgelijke opstand in Tunesië. Daar was ook soortgelijke muziek te horen. Wellicht de mooiste van allemaal is van de Tunesische zangeres Amel Mathlouthi. Ze woont al jaren in Parijs, maar kwam voor de opstand terug naar haar geboorteland. Met een kaars in haar hand zong ze haar ‘vrijheidslied’.

“Wij zijn vrij, we zijn voor niemand bang. Wij kennen de geheimen en die zullen niet begraven worden. Ik ben de stem van het volk. Ik ben vrij en mijn woord is ook vrij.”

 

Sudan Dictator: I’ll Use Facebook to Crush Opposition!


After Tunisia and Egypt, most Mideastern strongmen worry that social media will help their subjects dislodge them from power. One of them wants it to help him hang in there.

Omar al-Bashir, the president of Sudan, isn’t known for being a technophile. He’s more famous for being an indicted war criminal, owing to his role in the Darfur genocide. But like his northern neighbor Hosni Mubarak, he’s endured two weeks of protests by youths banding together through social networks and text messages. So now Bashir wants to beat them at their own game.

According to the official Sudanese news agency, Bashir today instructed his government to expand rural electrification efforts “so that the younger citizens can use computers and Internet to combat opposition through social networking sites such as Facebook.” (Hat tip: The Awl.)

Where Bashir’s legion of Facebook warriors will come from is something of a mystery. But if Hosni Mubarak’s friends can troll anti-regime Facebook pages, then maybe Bashir’s onto something. This up-with-Sudan Facebook page hosts Bashir’s image, for instance.

Except his connectivity efforts will have to happen rapidly. Only about 10 percent of Sudan’s 41 million people have Internet access. The protests Bashir faces aren’t as massive as those in Egypt, and his goons have arrested opposition figures after texting them anonymously to lure them into traps.

Bashir isn’t the only dictator to embrace social media so it doesn’t strangle him. Today, Syria’s Bashir al-Assad reversed a four-year ban on Facebook and YouTube. These might be hollow efforts to show online activists that they’re not fearful of losing power, but they’ll still have the effect of expanding access to technologies that regional reformers are using to stir unrest.
 

Photo: Wikimedia

See Also:

 

 

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/02/201121210345525985.html

Middle East rulers make concessions

 

Moves seen as bid to appease people after mass protests in Tunisia and Egypt toppled long-serving presidents.

Last Modified: 12 Feb 2011 15:42 GMT
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said he would not seek to extend his term when it expires in 2013 [EPA]  
 
 

 

  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Hosni Mubarak stepped down as president of Egypt on Friday, handing over to the army and ending 30 years of rule, bowing to pressure from protesters demanding he go.

Protests have spread around the Arab world since starting in mid-December in Tunisia. Here are details of some of the concessions made around the region:

Egypt

Vice-president Omar Suleiman has said a military council would run the affairs of the Arab world’s most populous nation following the resignation of Mubarak. 

A military statement later promised Egypt’s 80 million people free and fair elections along with other concessions made earlier by Mubarak.

Bahrain

Bahrain’s king has decided to give $2,650 to each family on the Gulf island, the latest step the Sunni rulers have taken to appease the majority Shia public before protests planned for next week.
   
Although most analysts do not see any immediate risk of revolt, the kingdom is considered the most vulnerable to unrest among Gulf Arab countries.

Tunisia

Tunisia’s former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia last month after 23 years in charge of a police state.

Mohamed Ghannouchi, prime minister under Ben Ali since 1999, now heads an interim government. He appointed opposition figures to a national unity coalition and later, after more violent protests, purged the new cabinet of most of the remnants of Ben Ali’s government.

Tunisia’s interior ministry also replaced 34 senior security officials to overhaul the network of police, security forces and spies built up by Ben Ali over two decades. Interim head of state Fouad Mebazza has promised the start of a national dialogue to try to address citizens’ demands.

Algeria

Algeria’s state of emergency, in force for the past 19 years, is to be lifted soon, official media quoted President Abdelaziz Bouteflika as saying on Thursday.

The announcement followed pressure from government opponents who demanded the emergency powers be scrapped.

Several Algerian towns including the capital experienced days of rioting and protests last month, provoked by a jump in food prices.

Two people died and hundreds were injured, officials said. To calm the situation, Algeria cut the cost of some basic foodstuffs and increased wheat supplies to markets.

However, protests erupted again on February 12, with pro-democracy demonstrators ignoring an official ban to march in the capital, Algiers.

Yemen

Yemen’s opposition has said a dialogue with the government, which was expected to start this week, had been delayed so that it could consult with opposition figures outside the Arabian Peninsula country.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh said on February 3 he would not seek to extend his presidency, in a move that would end his three-decade rule when his current term expires in 2013.

Saleh also vowed not to pass on the reins of government to his son. He appealed to the opposition to call off protests.

Saleh promised direct election of provincial governors and also agreed to re-open voter registration for elections due in April after opposition complaints that around 1.5 million Yemenis were unable to sign up.

Jordan

King Abdullah of Jordan has replaced his prime minister after protests, but the opposition has dismissed the move as insufficient.

The king asked Marouf Bakhit, a conservative former prime minister to head a new government after accepting the resignation of Samir Rifai. He asked the new government to take speedy and tangible steps to launch political reform.

Jordan has announced a $225m package of cuts in the prices of some types of fuel and staples including sugar and rice. Rifai also announced wage increases to civil servants and the military in an attempt to restore calm.

Kuwait

The ruler of Kuwait has announced the distribution of $4bn and free food for 14 months to all citizens, although his country is not facing any protests.

Each of the 1.12 million native citizens will get $3,572 in cash as well as free essential food items until March 31, 2012, Kuwait’s emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah was reported to have said. 

 
Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
 

 

Erekat quits over Palestine Papers

 

Chief Palestinian negotiator resigns, saying source of Al Jazeera’s revelations was in his own office.

Last Modified: 12 Feb 2011 20:24 GMT
Saeb Erekat, the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s chief negotiator, has resigned from his post, after it emerged that the source of the Palestine Papers leak was in his own office.The decision was announced on Saturday, at the same time as a Palestinian Authority (PA) official announced that the body would be holding presidential and legislative elections before September this year.Erekat said his resignation came as a result of an internal investigation into the Palestine Papers, a set of leaked documents that was released by Al Jazeera.Erekat, who has retained his position in the PLO’s executive committee, said the investigation showed that the papers were leaked from the Negotiations Support Unit, which he heads.Earlier, he had said he would bear all responsibility if any security breach was found in his office.Speaking to Al Jazeera, Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas leader, welcomed the resignation, saying that negotiations led by Erekat had not been “in the national interest”.Al Jazeera’s Cal Perry in Ramallah said that there was a feeling among Palestinians that the peace process was at an impasse.”There is clearly a feeling here on the ground that the peace process has broken down, that there is no more point in negotiating unless the Israelis are willing to bring more to the table,” he said.On the matter of Erekat’s successor, he said that his sources were saying “there’s no point. Why would we have a chief negotiator if there are no negotiations?”Hanan Ashrawi, who is on the PLO’s Executive Committee, told Al Jazeera that the peace talks were in trouble long before the Palestine Papers were released.”There has not been a [peace] process. There have been sporadic attempts by the Americans to replace substance and objectives with negotiations, as though that was the end.”We said no to that; either you make Israel comply to the freeze and stop all settlements and you articulate the objectives and the terms of reference [of the negotiations] with in a specific time frame, or there is no use of entering into an endless process which Israel exploits in order to create facts on the ground and to annex East Jerusalem,” Ashrawi said.

Elections called

The news of Erekat’s resignation almost overshadowed the PA’s election announcement.

“The Palestinian leadership decided to hold presidential and legislative elections before September,” Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior aide to Mahmoud Abbas, the PA president, said.

Rabbo said the PA was urging all sides to “put their differences aside”, in a reference to the West Bank-based government’s rival Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip.

Hamas has rejected the call for elections.

“They cannot do an election in the West Bank, leaving Gaza. Without internal Palestinian reconciliation, nothing can happen here or there. The people who are supporting Hamas in the West Bank are representing the majority of the Palestinian people, and they will not participate,” Hamas’ Zahar told Al Jazeera.

“Hamas will not take part in this election. We will not give it legitimacy. And we will not recognise the results,” Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, told the Reuters news agency.

He termed the process “invalid”, saying that Abbas had “no legitimacy and is not fit to organise such elections.

Members of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) executive committee said they saw the elections as an opportunity to end divisions.

Bassam Salhi, a member of the Palestinian People’s Party, said that whoever gains a majority after the elections will be empowered to make decisions on unresolved issues, including security.

Al Jazeera’s Perry said there was “hope [that] by September they can mend those bridges and go forward with the elections”.

He added, however, that even local elections that were due to be held on July 9th were currently shrouded in uncertainty, as Hamas does not believe that those polls will be free and fair.

Erekat’s ‘responsibility’

Announcing his resignation on Saturday, Erekat said that he was assuming “responsibility for the theft of [the] documents from his office”, which he claimed had been “deliberately” tampered with.

Last month, Erekat accused Al Jazeera of taking part in a campaign to overthrow the PA after more than 1,600 confidential files on the negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli officials were made public by the network.

The documents, shared by Al Jazeera with the UK’s Guardian newspaper, exposed concessions to Israel in 10 years of secret peace talks, embarrassing and angering the PA leadership.

At the time, Erekat accused Al Jazeera of attempting to discredit the peace process and provoke people into “a revolution against their leaders in order to bring down the Palestinian political system”.

He insisted that the PA’s position on Jerusalem, refugees and borders during peace negotiations were based on internationally recognised principles.

Responding to news of the resignation, PJ Crowley, the US state department’s spokesman, said the matter was an internal Palestinian issue, and that the US would continue to work with the PLO.

“Our objective remains the same: to seek a framework agreement on the core issues and to achieve a two-state solution,” he said.

 
Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/02/201121211858966496.html

Thousands rally in Yemen’s capital

 

Anti-government protesters inspired by Egypt’s revolution call on Saleh to step down as president.

Last Modified: 12 Feb 2011 21:01 GMT
Clashes broke out between groups supporting and opposing the government in Sanaa on Saturday [Reuters] 

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in the Yemeni capital, calling on President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.

Clashes broke out in Sanaa between groups supporting and opposing the government after men armed with knives and sticks forced around 300 anti-government protesters to end a rally,  the Reuters news agency quoted witnesses as saying on Saturday.

The Associated Press news agency reported that troops beat some anti-government protesters.

Inspired by the Egyptian uprising which toppled Hosni Mubarak, protesters chanted “After Mubarak, it’s Ali’s turn” and “A Yemeni revolution after the Egyptian revolution.”

Eyeing protests elsewhere in the Middle East, Saleh, in power since 1978, last week promised to step down when his term ends in 2013. He has also promised not to pass power to his son.

His move followed sporadic anti-government protests, and the opposition has yet to respond to his call to join a unity government. The opposition wants talks to take place under Western or Gulf Arab auspices.

Yemeni authorities detained at least 10 people on Friday night after anti-government protesters in Sanaa, the capital, celebrated Mubarak’s downfall, US-based Human Rights Watch said.

The group said the celebrations turned to clashes when hundreds of men armed with knives, sticks, and assault rifles attacked the protesters as security forces stood by.

Witnesses told the AP that police drove several thousand pro-government demonstrators away from Sanaa’s main square on Friday night.

Also on Friday, the separatist Southern Movement said police broke up hundreds of Yemenis celebrating in the streets of Aden, where police had been heavily deployed since morning to clamp down on planned separatist protests earlier in the day.

Around 3,000 protesters across southern Yemen protested on Friday afternoon to demand secession, though most of the protests were quickly broken up by security forces.

Unconfirmed reports said police had opened fire on demonstrators, killing at least one person.

Pay raise discussed

Reports said Saleh held a meeting with his senior defence, political and security officials on Friday night.

They discussed plans to raise salaries for civil servants and the military – a second planned wage increase since last month, when Saleh planned a raise of about $47.

Opposition leaders said Saleh’s latest efforts could not quiet discontent.

“This is a quick move to try and get rid of popular anger, but Yemenis are not mad about a lack of spending on wages,” Mohamed al-Sabri, a leader of Yemen’s opposition coalition, said.

“This decision misreads the situation and is a simplification of what’s happening in Yemen.”

About 40 per cent of Yemen’s 23 million people live on less than $2 a day, while a third face chronic hunger.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators turned out on February 3 to protest against Saleh’s rule. An equal number of pro-government demonstrators also took to the streets on the same day.

Egypt’s army vows smooth transition

 

Military rulers pledge peaceful transfer of power to elected civilian rule a day after uprising ousts Hosni Mubarak.

Last Modified: 12 Feb 2011 20:17 GMT

 

 
After a night of celebrations following Mubarak’s ouster, citizens of Cairo turned out to clean up [Al Jazeera]

Egypt’s new military rulers have pledged to enact a smooth transition to civilian rule, amid celebrations marking the country’s first day in 30 years without Hosni Mubarak as president.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces vowed on Saturday to hand power to an elected, civilian government in a statement that came a day after Mubarak was swept from power following an 18-day public uprising.

The military will “guarantee the peaceful transition of power in the framework of a free, democratic system which allows an elected, civilian power to govern the country to build a democratic, free state”, a senior army officer announced on state television.

The council also pledged to honour its international treaties – in an apparent nod to the country’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

“The Arab Republic of Egypt is committed to all regional and international obligations and treaties,” the military statement read.

Click here for more of Al Jazeera’s special coverage 

Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, welcomed the assurance, saying the longstanding peace treaty between Israel and Egypt … is the cornerstone for peace and stability in the entire Middle East”.

Later on Saturday, Egyptian state television reported that prosecutors had begun an investigation into three former ministers from Mubarak’s government.

Travel bans were imposed on former prime minister Ahmed Nazif and former interior minister Habib al-Adli, who were both sacked by Mubarak before he stepped down from the presidency on Friday.

A travel ban was also imposed on Anas el-Fekky, the information minister, who had been reappointed in a cabinet that had been swiftly sworn in as a concession to protesters. Shortly afterwards, Egypt’s current prime minister Ahmed Shafiq told a private Egyptian television station that el-Fekky had resigned and that his resignation had been accepted.

Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros, reporting from Cairo, said the bans were likely to be welcomed by pro-democracy activists, some of whom vowed to remain in the capital’s Tahrir Square until their agenda for democratic reform is fully accepted.

“People out on the streets at the beginning were very much calling for the end of the regime, they were saying they don’t want any of these people to remain in Egypt,” she said.

“After the step down of president Hosni Mubarak they will be looking for accountability and that is what Egyptian authorities are now providing.”

Concerns for the future

Our correspondent said questions now remain over how the military’s transition to civilian rule will take place.

“I’m worried about the future,” one Egyptian told Al Jazeera. “Nobody knows what’s coming. We need to rebuild our country and economy because we are venturing into the unknown.”

Despite the uncertainty, celebrations continued in Cairo and other parts of the country on Saturday a day after Mubarak stepped down, handing power to the military.

 
Our producer reports scattered fighting as army removes barricades

Al Jazeera’s online producer, Evan Hill, reported some instances of fighting between the army and protesters in Cairo as the military worked to dismantle barricades that protesters promptly put back in place in their effort to remain in the square.

For the most part, however, the day proceeded without any major incidents, following 18 days of rallies in Tahrir Square that culminated in a mass celebration on Friday at the news that Mubarak had stepped down.

Omar Suleiman, the vice-president, had announced the news in a televised address on Friday, saying the president was “waiving” his office, and had handed over authority to the supreme military council.

Suleiman’s 50-word statement was received with a roar of approval and by celebratory chanting and flag-waving from a crowd of hundreds of thousands in Tahrir Square, as well as by other pro-democracy campaigners who were attending protests across the country.

The highest-ranking figure in Egypt is now Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, the country’s defence minister and head of the supreme council.

‘Dream come true’

The crowd in Tahrir responded to Suleiman’s statement on Friday by chanting “we have brought down the regime”.

IN VIDEO
Tahrir Square responds to Mubarak’s resignation

Mohamed ElBaradei, a prominent opposition leader, hailed the moment as being “a dream come true”.

ElBaradei reiterated that Egypt now needs to return to stability and proposed that a transition government be put in place for the next year.

Ayman Nour, another opposition figure and a former presidential candidate, told Al Jazeera that he would consider running for the presidency again if there was consensus on his candidacy.

Amr Moussa, the secretary-general of the Arab League, said that he would resign from his post, one that he has headed for about 10 years, “within weeks”.

Some analysts say he may well run for the Egyptian presidency when elections are held.

Suleiman’s announcement came after hundreds of thousands of Egyptians took the streets for the 18th consecutive day, marching on presidential palaces, state television buildings and other government installations. 

They had dubbed the day Farewell Friday, and had called for “millions” to turn out and demand that Mubarak resign.

 
Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
 

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/02/2011212152337359115.html

To Mohammad El-Sayed Said

 

Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst pays tribute to the community organisers who made Egypt’s revolution possible.

Marwan Bishara Last Modified: 12 Feb 2011 16:07 GMT
‘If the Egyptian street does not move, there will not be any change,’ one activist told Al Jazeera [AFP] 

In much of the world’s media, the story of the popular revolution that transformed Egypt goes like this: an oppressed people who had suffered bitterly in silence suddenly decided that enough was enough and spontaneously rose up to claim their freedom.

Like most revolutions, however, this one was a long time coming. The historic takeover of Tahrir Square  was the culmination of countless sit-ins, strikes, pickets and demonstrations over the last decade, by Egyptians who have risked and suffered repeated beatings, torture and imprisonment.

If we are going to do justice to the immense courage of these people who brought down Mubarak, we need to not only recognise their years of determination, but also to listen to what they are saying about how to bring true democracy to the Middle East – and to back their efforts in any way we can. With their blood – and, in some cases, with their lives – they have earned at least that much.

Watching television coverage of the brave people in Tahrir Square over the last two weeks changing their world and our’s, I have seen some familiar faces. Several years ago, while on a book tour, I visited Cairo community centres and non-governmental organisations.

One such centre was run by George Ishaq, a charismatic community organiser who has since become a leader of Egypt’s democracy movement.

The centre’s large auditorium was filled with a mix of students, trade unionists, Christian nuns and Islamic scholars, as well as human-rights activists and intellectuals. Men and women of all ages: the same kind of mix, in fact, that we have been seeing in Liberation Square.

Optimism and audacity 
Later that evening, I witnessed first-hand this industrious community leader playing host to – and engaging – neighbourhood organisers, opposition leaders and human-rights activists. It took optimism, audacity and a special brand of Egyptian humour.
[One of the many jokes that night was that Hosni Mubarak’s son Alaa was about to buy apartments in two Cairo neighbourhoods, Zamalek and Ma’adi. “So what’s wrong with that?” asked his father. Well, Ala’a wanted the apartments to connect …]
Over the last few days, I have watched and spoken to other community organisers taking center-stage in Tahrir Square, speaking on behalf of wide coalitions of demonstrators – Kefaya, the April 6 movement, the Coalition for Change and many others.
They are tireless coalition builders who have worked with labour unions and opposition parties old and new, including the Muslim Brotherhood, to bring about political change in Egypt.
One of those coalition builders was the late Mohammad El-Sayed Said. A brilliant thinker and a dedicated community organiser, Said laid down the theoretical foundations for today’s activism in the Arab world, insisting on human rights, the rule of law and the independence of religious institutions as pillars of democracy in the region.
Said helped to found the Cairo Institute of Human Rights Studies and the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights. His investigative reports systematically presented damning proof of the regime’s violations.
As the English-language newspaper Al-Ahram Weekly pointed out in its obituary: “He wrote a much-acclaimed report about the punishment of dissidents by torture, for which he was punished by being arrested and tortured.”
 
 
 

 

Toll on health 
Years of such ill-treatment at the hands of Mubarak’s regime took a heavy toll on Said’s health. He died last year after a two-year struggle with cancer, and has been much missed in Tahrir Square.
As he showed me during several visits to Egypt over the past two decades, a network was slowly forming of bold community organisers who were bypassing the stale, established opposition parties to mobilise the young and the disaffected against Mubarak’s regime.
Thanks to their hard work, the network spread throughout Cairo and other Egyptian cities.
Part of the media story about Egypt’s revolution is that it was made possible by social networks on the web – as if Egyptians had just discovered Facebook.
But Mohammad El-Sayed Said understood long before many others that technology is good for democracy. His 1997 book Progress Initiative called for Egypt’s transformation with the help of modern technologies, and web communities have long been a part of the opposition networks he helped form.
Ishaq, for his part, knew that Tahrir Square had to be the goal. “If the Egyptian street does not move, there will not be any change,” he told Al Jazeera late last year, soon after the government had rigged the parliamentary elections.
 
 
 
 

 

Contrasting visions 
The contrast between the visions of Said and Ishaq on the one hand, and that of the deposed Mubarak presidency on the other hand, couldn’t be starker.
Like Mohammad El-Sayed Said, the new national leaders emerging from Tahrir Square seek a state that is neither religious nor neoliberal, capitalist nor socialist, Muslim nor Christian; they are dying, and many have literally, for a united, humane, prosperous, truly democratic Egypt for all.
The professional pundits who were parachuted into Egypt by the international media have brought with them pre-cooked conclusions about “radical Islam”, security threats and what it takes to ensure regional stability.
But ordinary Egyptians have shown them – and us – that we don’t have to sign up for a world of extremes, where Osama Bin Laden and Hosni Mubarak are the only possible choices.
The crowds in Tahrir Square stood firmly in the middle and stood their ground, are finally making room for everyone in Egypt – and giving the world a lesson about democracy in the process.
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
Source:
Al Jazeera

http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/02/2011261365699895.html

Egypt’s new dawn echoes of 1919

 

With jubilation filling Cairo’s streets, a century-old uprising offers its passions, its lessons – and its warnings

Ifdal Elsaket Last Modified: 06 Feb 2011 14:34 GMT
A pro-democracy protester kneels as he chants and demands the resignation of President Mubarak [Getty]      

During last Tuesday’s ‘Million Man March’ and Friday’s ‘Day of Departure’ rallies, the swirling clamour of car horns, famously characteristic of Liberation Square’s soundscape, fell silent, as human cries for freedom, change and justice floated through the air.

But the scenes of a new political dawn, and the overwhelming sense of a unified national spirit are not new to Egypt’s history.

The anxious jubilation and the revolutionary vivacity that permeated the atmosphere of Egypt’s cities were reminiscent of the events that unfolded during Egypt’s popular uprising of 1919, when, for the first time in the history of the modern Egyptian state, thousands of ordinary Egyptians of all classes, men and women, young and old, Muslim and Christian, took to the streets to demand political change. In that year, after decades of British occupation, political discontent, and worsening economic conditions, the Egyptian nation rose – its people becoming an unwavering force to be reckoned with.

While the two uprisings – which both formed part of broader regional and international push for change – are vastly different historical events, they are also strikingly similar – both in the manner in which they have unfolded, and how they effectively mobilised people into action.

A look back in time

The distribution of petitions by Mohamed ElBaradei’s National Coalition for Change last year, calling for political reform, brings to mind a similar petition drive – the Tawkilat movement – which grew in the months before the 1919 uprising. Back then, Sultan Fu’ad I found a similar petition insulting – and called on the British to help him silence its advocates. When the British happily complied, banishing its Wafdist authors, they ignited a brewing revolution. So too have ElBaradei’s petitions insulted the current regime, which has clamped down heavily on activists found distributing them.

The contribution of internet and satellite TV activism in mobilising Egyptians to action in recent years are well documented as 21st century tools of revolution – but they bear parallels to the role played by theatre and music in heightening ebullient passions for change, and stirring the people’s emotions towards liberation in 1919. Just as blogging, Facebooking, and Twittering have been seen as a threat to today’s regime, popular poets, such Bayram al-Tunisi, who was exiled for his subversive writings, and musicians such as Sayyid Darwish, whose politically inflamed songs protestors passionately sang during demonstrations, were noted to be particular threats to the British and Egyptian authorities.

In both uprisings, therefore, popular forms of political mobilisation and participation gave deep expression to the nation’s economic and political discontents – and provided an accessible platform for engaging the disenfranchised. In discussing the Tawkilat movement of 1919, historian Marius Deeb argued that by politically engaging a large spectrum of the population, it functioned as a “silent rehearsal” for the ensuing uprising. Much the same can be said about the activism, in both real and virtual platforms, that today’s Egyptian protestors had been participating in over the past few years.

Failing to learn from history

Against this backdrop of immense political consciousness and involvement, the Egyptian regime today, like the British and the acquiescent Egyptian government in 1919, made a potentially fatal mistake; they went against a politically mobilised people – and insulted their intelligence. In both cases, the people had no other option but to shift their activism to the streets.

The scenes of young and articulate Egyptian women, marching in Cairo and Alexandria in recent days – chanting and leading the men in demonstrations – evoke immortalised images of the women who mobilized, marched and rallied crowds in the streets of Egypt’s cities in 1919.

Back then, even peasant women in rural regions joined in, breaking railway and telegraph lines in an attempt to disable the mechanisms of control relied on by the British and Egyptian authorities. And, as we celebrate the Christian-Muslim unity displayed in Liberation Square, it would be good to recall the story of Murqus Sergius, a Coptic priest, who in 1919 was famously carried upon the shoulders of student protestors in al-Azhar mosque, becoming the first Christian to deliver a sermon from its pulpit in its almost one-thousand year history.

But, just as the show of ‘people power’ today is reminiscent of that 1919 spirit, so too is the violence, the chaos, and the disorder that has ensued. Popular uprisings are seldom glamorous. The 1919 uprisings claimed an estimated 800 lives, as its protestors were brutally attacked by British troops and Egyptian police. The nation was paralysed as the infrastructure was damaged and demonstrations persisted.

Already an estimated 300 people have been killed in the past ten days of demonstrations, and the country is at a standstill.

This week’s clashes between anti-government protestors and government-supporting thugs, indicate that authorities, just like the British in 1919, are putting up a nasty fight, deploying draconian and scorched earth-like tactics that are as unnerving as they are appalling. The anachronistic sight of a government-hired cavalry of horses, camels and donkeys attacking peaceful protestors a few days ago is a striking metaphor for the decrepit and out-of-touch Mubarak regime.

But the parallels between the uprisings are limited. Unity on the streets of Egypt seems to have faltered somewhat in recent days, as many Egyptians, seeking a retreat to normality, asked the anti-government demonstrators to go home.

Mubarak’s last stand

Unlike the British in 1919, Mubarak can – and has – cleverly conjured people’s sympathies by playing on his “Egyptian-ness” and dramatically declaring his wish to die on Egyptian soil. In a worrying move, state-run television even played on the national insecurity of infiltration by blaming the anti-regime unrest on a foreign plot. The outcomes of this uprising had become unclear. The fault lines have blurred as definitions of what constituted true patriotism and national duty – either to go home and wait for September or struggle on for immediate results – destabilised.

It would be good to remember that after the uprisings of 1919, it took three, long, hard-fought years, for Egyptian ‘independence’ to be granted – and when that happened, it did not meet the demands of the demonstrators. While the 1919 popular uprising was a victory on some levels, the political reforms it swept in were merely cosmetic. Some, such as economist Tal’at Harb, whose statue stands not far from Liberation Square, attempted to improve the economic state of the country, and Egyptian parliamentary life seemed somewhat promising – but an authoritarian king and the implacable British still had control, and continued to stall democratic progress.

By the late 1930s, disillusionment and crushed hopes reigned supreme. The uprising of 1919 had fallen short of its objectives. Louis de Saint-Just’s frightening words that “those who make revolutions halfway only dig their own grave” perhaps rings true. What will happen next in Egypt remains to be seen; but those in Liberation Square remain determined to carry this revolution out in full.

Tellingly, as I write this, and in an expression of profound historical poignancy, one of Sayyid Darwish’s song’s “Biladi”, popular with the protestors of 1919 and adopted in 1979 as the Egyptian national anthem, roars through the Square. At this moment, one can not help but think that perhaps, almost 100 years later, the aspirations of 1919 might finally be fulfilled.

Ifdal Elsaket is a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney. Her research focuses on politics of early Egyptian Cinema.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

 
Source:
Al Jazeera

 

Het CIDI laat ook van zich horen (http://opinie.volkskrant.nl/artikel/show/id/7808/Help_Egypte_met_echte_democratie ):

Gastauteur

Help Egypte met echte democratie

Marthe Tholen, 08-02-2011 08:00
reageer 63 reacties

 

tankop_300Het Westen moet Egypte helpen een machtsovername van de Moslimbroederschap te voorkomen.

President Mubarak is niet weg, maar het ziet er wel naar uit dat het volksprotest tegen deze moderne farao op korte termijn zal leiden tot een democratischer Egypte. Om die ontwikkeling te stimuleren, moet het Westen Egypte dezelfde speciale relatie aanbieden, als nu al met Israël bestaat. Democratie – echte democratie en niet een slap aftreksel – garandeert immers welvaart en transparantie en zorgt voor grotere stabiliteit dan welk ander regeringssysteem ook. De gebeurtenissen in Egypte tonen aan dat hoe krachtig dictaturen ook lijken, ze niets meer zijn dan een kaartenhuis dat ieder moment kan instorten.

Deze ervaring ligt ten grondslag aan de speciale band die het Westen met Israël, als enige democratie in het Midden-Oosten, heeft. Het gaat daarbij niet alleen om gedeelde waarden en een gezamenlijke geschiedenis, maar vooral ook om de zekerheid dat een overeenkomst met de Israëlische regering een verbintenis is met het Israëlische volk. Dat kan geen enkele dictator bieden.

Buitenaf

De kans is klein dat er, zonder hulp van buitenaf, een volledige democratie zal verrijzen uit de as van Mubaraks regime. Het is in de eerste plaats onzeker of de komende presidentsverkiezingen echt eerlijk zullen verlopen, ook al doen Mubarak en zijn zoon niet meer mee.

Ook als dat wel zo zou zijn, biedt dat nog geen garantie voor een duurzaam democratisch Egypte. Er zijn namelijk te veel regimes die eerlijk gekozen zijn en die op deze manier hun dictatoriale bewind legitimeren. Ondanks het enthousiasme voor het volksprotest in Egypte moeten westerse regeringen dit niet uit het oog verliezen.

Hamas bijvoorbeeld, de Palestijnse afdeling van de Moslimbroederschap, geeft ons een verontrustend beeld van de werking van democratie in het Midden-Oosten. In 2006 won de organisatie de eerste en enige democratische verkiezingen in de Westelijke Jordaanoever en de Gazastrook. Die verkiezingszege wordt nu gebruikt om de onderdrukking van de bevolking in Gaza, onder meer door het verbieden van protesten en door willekeurige arrestaties, te rechtvaardigen. Hamas pleegde in 2007 een staatsgreep en nam het bestuur van Gaza over. Het feit dat de inwoners van Gaza nu geregeerd worden door de door hun gekozen partij maakt het gebied, met zijn shariarechtbanken en mysterieuze verdwijningen van politieke activisten, bepaald nog geen democratie.

Omwenteling
Wil Egypte een echte democratie worden, dan moeten degenen die deze omwenteling begonnen zijn, ervoor zorgen dat de Moslimbroederschap de wind uit de zeilen wordt genomen. De Moslimbroederschap is veruit de best georganiseerde politieke beweging in Egypte en de organisatie is al aan het meeliften op de politieke consequenties van het volksprotest. De leiders steunen de seculiere Mohamed ElBaradei, maar niet omdat zij het eens zijn met zijn politieke ideeën. Mensen zoals ElBaradei worden ‘pakezels van de revolutie’ (hamir al-thawra) genoemd: ze worden gebruikt en dan aan de kant gezet.

Als de Moslimbroederschap inderdaad aan de macht komt, zijn de consequenties voor de regio groot. In de laatste twee weken alleen al heeft de organisatie minstens drie keer laten weten dat het vredesverdrag met Israël ingetrokken moet worden. Een van de leiders, Mohammed Ghanem, ging verder en zei maandag 31 januari tegen het Iraanse tv-station Al Alam dat Egypte moet stoppen met het verstrekken van aardgas aan Israël en dat ‘het Egyptische leger zich moet voorbereiden op een oorlog’ met Israël.

Credo
Het credo van de Moslimbroederschap is niet veranderd sinds zijn oprichting in 1928: ‘Allah is ons doel, de Koran is onze wet, de Profeet is onze leider, Jihad is ons middel en sterven voor Allah is ons grootste verlangen.’ Democratie voor Egypte is wel het laatste dat de Broederschap wil.

De Egyptenaren, gesterkt door de kracht van internet en andere media, kijken vol verwachting naar het Westen. Dat biedt ons een kans hun alle steun te verlenen voor de totstandkoming van de eerste Arabische democratie. We kunnen hun helpen een getrapte machtsovername van de Broederschap, via verkiezingen of anderszins, te voorkomen en uitzicht bieden op meer samenwerking en investeringen. De economische en politieke band die het Westen met de enige andere democratie in het Midden-Oosten, Israël, heeft, kan daarbij als voorbeeld dienen.

Na zo veel jaren onderdrukking, mede mogelijk gemaakt met miljarden Amerikaanse dollars, is dat wel het minste wat we voor het Egyptische volk kunnen doen.

Marthe Tholen is medewerkster bij het Centrum Informatie en Documentatie Israël (CIDI). Het Westen moet Egypte dezelfde speciale relatie aanbieden die het heeft met Israël, de enige andere democratie in die regio.
Hieronder een verstandige reactie van Robbert Woltering:
 

Wilde Beweringen over de Opstand

Posted: 12 Feb 2011 04:12 AM PST

Guest Author: Robbert Woltering

Het artikel dd. 8 februari van CIDI-medewerker Marthe Tholen, waarin deze waarschuwt tegen wat zij ziet als de gevaren van de democratische opstand in Egypte, bevat een aantal fouten. In tegenstelling tot wat zij beweert is Mohammed Ghanem niet een van de leiders van de Moslim Broederschap. Zijn vermeende uitlatingen op een Iraans televisiestation doen dus niet ter zake. De bewering dat de organisatie tot driemaal toe heeft opgeroepen dat het vredesverdrag met Israel moet worden opgezegd, staaft Tholen niet met verwijzingen. Dat komt omdat de bewering niet klopt. Tholen baseert zich waarschijnlijk op een interview dat een middelhoog bestuurslid van de organisatie, ene Rashad al-Bayoumi, zou hebben gegeven aan een Japanse televisiezender. Op basis van uitlatingen gedaan door een dergelijk middenkaderlid kan niet worden beweerd dat dit de mening is van de organisatie. Sterker nog, de gewraakte uitlatingen staan in contrast met de consistente lijn die al lang geleden is ingezet door eersterangs woordvoerders en leidinggevenden zoals Essam al-Erian, Mahmoud Ezzat en Muhammad Badi.

Waar de wilde beweringen voor nodig waren, blijkt wel uit de algehele toonzetting van haar artikel. Van de vele onoprechte en alarmerende reacties op de Egyptische revolte spant deze de kroon. De verwijzing naar de overwinning van Hamas in de Palestijnse verkiezingen toont hoezeer de auteur naar Egypte kijkt met een Israëlische bril, die haar beeld vervormt. De verkiezingen in de Palestijnse gebieden zijn onvergelijkbaar met eventuele verkiezingen in Egypte, omdat Egyptenaren in tegenstelling tot de Palestijnen niet in een oorlogssituatie verkeren, en niet al sinds decennia onder bezetting leven. Dat de auteur die context is ontgaan is wellicht tekenend voor de Israëlische verkleuring van haar kijk op de zaak. Haar voorstel aan het Westen om Egypte ‘dezelfde relatie aan te bieden’ als die het Westen heeft met Israël is tenslotte ridicuul en een gotspe, omdat ze ermee blijkt te bedoelen dat het Westen moet voorkomen dat de Moslimbroeders bij democratische verkiezingen hun politieke aandeel in gaan nemen. Het Westen heeft een bijzondere band met Israël, maar die bestaat er gelukkig niet uit dat het Westen in Israël de verkiezingen manipuleert. Dat Tholen dit voor Egypte wel wenst toont aan dat ze niet alleen de Moslimbroeders slecht kent, maar dat ze ook van democratie weinig heeft begrepen. Ik wil Tholen haar echt op vrije meningsuiting niet ontzeggen, maar van een kwaliteitskrant mag wel verwacht worden dat het ervoor waakt te fungeren als een doorgeefluik van desinformatie.

Robbert Woltering is universitair docent Arabische taal en cultuur aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam.

 

Click to See Next Image

 

Van http://doaa910.maktoobblog.com/ . Geeft goed weer wat er in Egypte (en vooral Tunesië) gebeurd is. Zo laat je een dictator struikelen, met dank aan facebook en twitter 🙂

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/02/2011212162526150718.html

Iran’s opposition planning protests

 

Seemingly emboldened by events in Tunisia and Egypt, opposition leaders call for anti- government rallies on Monday.

D. Parvaz Last Modified: 13 Feb 2011 00:22 GMT
anonymous statement on Iran 
A Facebook page promoting the February 14 protests reads, ‘Iran’s freedom valentine – don’t forget our date’ 

Amid reports of a low turnout for the annual march commemorating the anniversary of Iran’s Islamic revolution on Friday, there are calls among opposition leaders for nationwide marches against the government on Monday.

Protesters, including university students, truck drivers and gold merchants are said to be organising marches across the country under the umbrella of the country’s Green Movement, apparently inspired by recents demonstrations in Egypt and Tunisia.

The movement, also known as the Green Wave, made international headlines after the disputed 2009 presidential elections which saw Mahmoud Ahmadinejad win a second term in office.

Monday’s protests have been called at the behest of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, which the movement backed as opposition presidential candidates in the election two years ago.

The governments of both Tunisia and Egypt were successfully toppled via massive and prolonged protests and rallies.

Permission to hold rallies in Egypt was sought prior to the demonstrators’ actions but no such permit has not been granted in Iran, and the country’s Revolutionary Guard has already promised to forcefully confront any protesters.

Some of the posters advertising Monday’s rally on Facebook refer to February 14 day as a “valentine to Iran’s freedom”. The main Facebook page calling for demonstrations has over 43,000 followers.

While the government says that 50 million people turned up for the 32nd anniversary of the revolution, which, on the Iranian calender, takes place on the 22nd day of the month of Bahman, those numbers are disputed by some independent media.

On the back of the toppling of Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, on Friday, some Iranian officials have suggested parallels between the February 11, 1979 departure of Iran’s shah and Mubarak’s ousting.

Crackdowns

While it remains to be seen if Monday’s protests materialise, there are reports that at least 14 activists have been arrested in recent days and that Karroubi has been placed under house arrest.

 
A pro-government message online says that the Green Movement is supported by Zionist forces.

Among those reportedly arrested are some of Mousavi’s inner circle.

Kaleme.com has named them as Mohammad Hossein Sharifzadegan, who is Mousavi’s brother in law and a former welfare minister, as well as Saleh Noghrehkar, who heads Mousavi’s legal team.

According to Irangreenvoice.com, they also include Mostafa Mir-Ahamadizadeh, a law professor at Qom University, adviser to Karroubi and an ally of Mohammad Khatami, Iran’s former president and a noted reformist.

Irangreenvoice.com says that Mir-Ahamadizadeh has been taken to “a prison run by the Intelligence Bureau of Qom”.

The state has also engaged in jamming satellite signals and has blocked the word “Bahman” from search engines.

‘Arab envy’

Kelly Niknejad, founder and editor in chief of news site Tehranbureau.com, told Al Jazeera that it is hard to tell what, if anything, may unfold on Iran’s streets on Monday.

“The Iranian government did a very effective job of keeping the protest down,” said Niknejad, referring to the absence of protests in Iran since 2009.

“They’ve made it such a high-stakes game to go out and protest.”

Cyberactivist Anonymous posted a Youtube video on telling anti-government groups to ‘expect’ their support 

As a result, Niknejad says she is surprised that Karroubi and Mousavi have called for the protests.

“Perhaps they know Iranians in away that those of us who live on the sidelines don’t … perhaps they know something that we don’t,” she said.

Niknejad, who has been in touch with people in Iran, said that while some have said they will go out and protest, many are “are scared to death”.

She also says there may be a case of “Arab envy” among some anti-government Iranians.

With events in Egypt and Tunisia in mind, it seems that there has been a renewed interest in the opposition movement in Iran – at least in the expatriate community – but while interest outside the country might be a reflection of the mood within Iran’s borders, it will not necessarily translate to action there.

“It’s easy to raise your fist from behind the veil of the laptop,” said Niknejad.

Vested interests

While deposed leaders such as Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the Tunisian president who fled to Saudi Arabia on January 14, have often fled abroad, Niknejad says she cannot see the same happening to Iran’s leadership should any uprising be successful. 

“I can’t imagine Mr Khamenei (Iran’s supreme leader) going to a Swiss cottage to live out the rest of his days,” she said.

Niknejad said the establishment in Iran will “fight tooth and nail” to remain in power and that it seems unlikely that they would have safe havens outside the country.

The powerful Revolutionary Guard in Iran has a major financial stake in Iran, one far greater than even the Egyptian military.

It is heavily invested in Iran’s economy, including petroleum development, construction, weapons manufacturing, communication system, and as a result it has been specifically targeted by international sanctions on Iran.

Niknejad also points out that compared to Iranian security forces, who “beat Iranians to a pulp” in the 2009 protests, the military in Egypt – where journalists were still able to enter and talk to people at the height of the unrest – was relatively benign.

“Egypt on a bad day is better than Iran is on a good day,” she said.

Source:
Al Jazeera

 

 
 

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