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Thread: Massive anti-government protests erupt in Egypt

  1. #31
    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    AP source: Obama envoy tells Mubarak time is up

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior American official says that the special envoy dispatched to Egypt by President Barak Obama told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that the U.S. saw his presidency at an end and urged him to prepare for an orderly transition to real democracy with elections.

    The official said Tuesday that the message was delivered to Mubarak on Monday by Frank Wisner, a respected former U.S. ambassador to Egypt, whom Obama dispatched to Cairo amid mounting anti-government protests and demands for the Egyptian leader to step down. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the ongoing diplomacy.

    Wisner and Mubarak are friends and the official said the retired ambassador made clear that it was the U.S "view that his tenure as president is coming to close."

    The Associated Press: AP source: Obama envoy tells Mubarak time is up
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  2. #32
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    Default Anderson Cooper attacked

    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgC0-6HOZrg[/YOUTUBE]

    Anderson Cooper attacked in Egypt with crew [video] | Ministry of Gossip | Los Angeles Times

    Anderson Cooper was attacked in Egypt by government supporters who turned on him and his crew Wednesday in the protest-torn streets of Cairo.

    In upsetting video footage released by CNN, above, Cooper can be heard declaring he was hit "like 10 times in the mouth" as he attempted to usher various members of his crew, one of them female, through the mob.

    "Calm down," he can be heard saying to the assailants.

    Afterward, Cooper sent out an update via Twitter. "Thanks for tweets of concern," he said. "I'm sore and head hurts but fine. Neil and mary anne are bruised but ok too. Thanks"

    The silver fox is no stranger to violence overseas -- a little more than a year ago in Haiti after the devastating earthquake, Cooper was captured on video carrying to safety a child who was left bloody by looters who'd started throwing rocks and chunks of concrete.

    "To me, the story today is not me being attacked, it's the melee that continues," Cooper told Show Tracker. "This is a stunning development, and it's not clear what kind of impact it's going to have.

  3. #33
    Elite Member calcifer's Avatar
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    The View From Tahrir

    February 2, 2011, 11:12 am
    By Nicholas Kristof

    Today President Mubarak seems to have decided to crack down on the democracy movement, using not police or army troops but rather mobs of hoodlums and thugs. I’ve been spending hours on Tahrir today, and it is absurd to think of this as simply “clashes” between two rival groups. The pro-democracy protesters are unarmed and have been peaceful at every step. But the pro-Mubarak thugs are arriving in buses and are armed — and they’re using their weapons.

    In my area of Tahrir, the thugs were armed with machetes, straight razors, clubs and stones. And they all had the same chants, the same slogans and the same hostility to journalists. They clearly had been organized and briefed. So the idea that this is some spontaneous outpouring of pro-Mubarak supporters, both in Cairo and in Alexandria, who happen to end up clashing with other side — that is preposterous. It’s difficult to know what is happening, and I’m only one observer, but to me these seem to be organized thugs sent in to crack heads, chase out journalists, intimidate the pro-democracy forces and perhaps create a pretext for an even harsher crackdown.

    I have no idea whether this tactic will work. But the idea that President Mubarak should make the case that he is necessary for Egypt’s stability by unleashing violence and chaos on his nation’s youth — it’s a sad and shameful end to his career. And I hope that the international community will firmly denounce this kind of brutality apparently organized by the government.
    The View From Tahrir - NYTimes.com

  4. #34
    Elite Member t13nif's Avatar
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    My sister's good friend was living in Egypt teaching English. When the protests started, my sister got in contact with her and she said she was fine ,she felt safe and was going to stay. I just asked my sis yesterday whether her friend was still there and she said no, that her and her mother (who had just arrived for a month long) managed to get to the airport after 4 harrowing days, and escaped to Frankfurt.
    "Hope everyone' shavin a good one!" - Karistiona

  5. #35
    Elite Member ana-mish-ana's Avatar
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    Its going to kick off big time tomorrow. Someone commented that Mubarak is following Ben Ali's footsteps with how he's dealing with the whole mess.

    I stayed up watching the events last night and it was like a medieval battleground. The Anti Mubarak protesters were building catapults to defend against the Mubarak supporters (whom many were paid goons and police). Its going to get even more nuts

  6. #36
    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Default America's Naivete About Egypt

    Americans are notoriously naïve.

    This is the message I am getting from people I know in Egypt today.

    When the protests first began in Egypt, I was in constant contact with an Egyptian relative who is a successful businessman, university professor and astute student of world politics. As my husband and I panicked for our family’s safety, this relative was calm, assuring me that Hosni Mubarak would appoint an interim government and that there would likely be an important role for Omar Suileman, who is a well respected leader in Egypt. Both these things quickly came true.

    Day after day he assured me that everything would be fine. He was sure that the Muslim Brotherhood—which he regards as a radical Islamist group – was not organized enough to gain any significant power.

    Today, he was not so calm. Our family in Egypt is shocked and alarmed by what they are hearing from Western voices and even the apparent leading opposition candidate Mohamed ElBaradei—who has partnered with the Muslim Brotherhood -- who claim that the Brotherhood is a moderate group that should not be feared.

    As Coptic Christians—native Egyptians who comprise the largest religious minority in the Middle East—they are especially attuned to the double-speak of Islamist groups trying to attain power.

    During the last elections, the Brotherhood's slogan was “Islam is the solution.” Its logo is a black flag with a sword and the Koran.

    This reminded me of a trip my husband and I made to Saudi Arabia last year. While driving in from the airport we passed a gigantic statue of a gold sword. I asked our guide what the inscription said, and he told me that it was from the Koran and translated to, “Sometimes the sword is better than words.”

    Gulp.

    I spent much of yesterday interviewing American experts on the region—including two Brookings Institution scholars who are experts on the Muslim Brotherhood—and was reassured over and over that the organization has reformed and does not seek to establish a fundamentalist state. One claimed that Brotherhood officials have said they view Copts as equal citizens.

    My relative laughed at this. He says when Brotherhood members have been asked about how they would treat Christians they are vague. When asked about whether they would nationalize the banks, they are vague. Even one of the Brookings scholars told me that the Brotherhood would probably segregate the sexes. This is far from a secular group.

    Our family in Egypt always makes the point that if the current regime—which is considered moderate and quasi-secular—arrests people who convert from Islam to Christianity, what do you think it will be like if power is seized by a group that has as its explicit goal the spread of Islam?

    One of the things I consistently hear from the Egyptian Christians I know is that Islamists know the right things to say in order to gain power. They are sophisticated. They are especially astute at telling Westerners what they want to hear.

    I saw this also when I was in Saudi Arabia. Our guide told us repeatedly that Saudi Arabia was reforming and that it was becoming a more open society. This was the story he sold us day after day.

    Never mind that women can’t drive or that restaurants are segregated or that the religious police hit women with a baton if they think they aren’t appropriately covered. They are known to cut men’s hair right on the street if they deem it too long. My husband had his passport taken away in the airport for wearing shorts, and the authorities wouldn’t give it back to him until he changed. If a Muslim converts to any other religion, the punishment is the death penalty.

    Open society indeed.

    Shadi Hamid, a Brookings Institute scholar and expert on the Muslim Brotherhood (which he maintains is not radical) made the case to me that Egypt is a very Islamic country, and if the people want an Islamic government that is their choice. It’s not for the U.S. to decide.

    As a liberal, I have a very hard time with the idea that I’m not supposed to care about a potential government that is oppressive to minorities and women. I also do not support theocracies—Muslim, Christian or otherwise even if they aren't fundamentalist. If find it strange that so many American liberals aren’t concerned about the Muslim Brotherhood’s stated mission to “spread Islam.” It’s hard to imagine them being so unconcerned about a Christian political group with the stated mission of establishing a Christian theocracy gaining power in a new government.

    If the Muslim Brotherhood wants to evangelize Islam on its own time that is fine; but it shouldn't be able to use government power to do so. I should also note that it is already against the law for Christians to share their faith in Egypt—and that’s under a quasi-secular government. (Human Rights Watch last year accused Egypt of “widespread discrimination” against Christians and other religious minorities.)

    This isn’t to say that Mubarak deserves our support. He's an oppressive dictator. But all the Americans who are supporting the participation of the Muslim Brotherhood in the new government need to understand who they really are. Beyond my own personal concern for the treatment of Christians and women, fundamentalist Islamic governments generally aren’t known for being pro-American.

    I shared with my Egyptian relative that most experts I spoke to here believe that Turkey is the model that Egypt will follow.

    Again, laughter.

    Why America Should Worry About an Islamic Government in Egypt - The Daily Beast
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  7. #37
    Elite Member ana-mish-ana's Avatar
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    I don't think the Muslim Brotherhood will be a huge a factor in this although they will try and definitely will be part of a Government of some sort- but there is other parties here like the army who will probably not support this. And the secularist and the youth who are leading this. They may have actually missed the boat with not actually leading this and at the moment its leaderless. The Iranian revolution was being led by the mullahs and they are shia which is traditionally seen to be more extreme than sunni/sufi influenced Islam which is dominant in North Africa.

    I also read that the Muslim Brotherhood are influenced with Sufism although there is elements where they are also have Wahabbi/Salafist beliefs and blame the fucking Saudis for spreading that. I don't think its going to be as clear cut as an Islamic takeover and I don't think the people want that. Also another factor is that its young people (who are a sizable part of the population) are leading this- not radical students and they will definitely not get rid of one despot to replace it with a repressive religious regime. Frankly I think the support that the Muslim Brotherhood will be around 20/30 percent of a vote - they tend to get support from the poor and uneducated.

    What I find fascinating is that its everyone who is protesting, the people have united despite sectarian differences and beliefs - I hope this carries on when they create a government.
    I may be naive as well but from what I understand and know about how religion and Egyptians views about it - the majority doesn't want this kind of Islam in their country. Just my 2 pennies.

  8. #38
    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    The Iranian revolution started out as a secular one. Many groups worked to overthrow the Shah.

    The majority of Iranians (much like the Egyptians today) did not want a theocracy, but they lost power to the mullahs as the revolution progressed. The mullahs began to ban all other groups like the NDF that were liberal, socialist, or communist.

    They didn't intend to replace a despot to with a theocracy, but that's what happened.

    The major difference I see so far is that the Egyptians do not have a Khomeni figure on the scene. That could be the saving grace here. Or maybe not. It's really too soon to tell.
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  9. #39
    Elite Member ana-mish-ana's Avatar
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    But that is the thing - in Sunni/Sufi led Islam there is no real religious figurehead. There is religious leaders but they all have different ideas and views and Egypt is a leading country for thoughts and academic thinking which is pretty diverse.

    The irony about Iran is that the CIA overthrew the previous goverment and plunked the Shah in control - who then became a total despot towards his people who helped to create the Iranian hardliners. US backing of oppressive regimes in the Middle East feeds extremism Sooner than later it always implodes.

  10. #40
    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by witchcurlgirl View Post
    The Iranian revolution started out as a secular one. Many groups worked to overthrow the Shah.

    The majority of Iranians (much like the Egyptians today) did not want a theocracy, but they lost power to the mullahs as the revolution progressed. The mullahs began to ban all other groups like the NDF that were liberal, socialist, or communist.

    They didn't intend to replace a despot to with a theocracy, but that's what happened.

    The major difference I see so far is that the Egyptians do not have a Khomeni figure on the scene. That could be the saving grace here. Or maybe not. It's really too soon to tell.
    i'm with you on this. i get the feeling things will only go from bad to worse and the muslim brotherhood will, indeed, take over. i think there is a lot of naïveté right now about the whole thing, people are celebrating what they see as people rebelling against tyranny... but they aren't thinking about what comes after and what powers are at play.
    and the fact that most egyptians are young - that's precisely why the muslim brotherhood has such a stronghold. it has been consistently reaching out to young people, young men in particular. the young, jobless, disenfranchised. the muslim brotherhood is notorious for being very well organised and having a whole system of networks set up and of finding ways of helping its members whether they're jobless, widowed, hurt, etc. sounds nice until you remember their radical religious ideas. and remember, it is precisely the high percentage of young people and the youth vote which has contributed to the rise of islamism in the arab world.
    el baradei, the pro-western, secular, liberal opposition candidate will appeal to the educated middle classes. unfortunately they are not the majority.
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    Yes, but the young people in Egypt who are protesting are largely educated and want no part of a theocratic state.

    The Muslim Brotherhood's stronghold is amongst the poor of Egypt who are working. You are 10X more likely to be employed in Egypt if you only have a grade school education, as opposed to college educated. So the supporters of MB don't have the time to protest.

    Mubarak stayed in power so long because he told the public that it was either him, and his regime, or the MB. He kept them very afraid with this threat because the majority of Egyptians, even the poor, don't want radical Islamists in their gov't.

    All this is happening very quickly. I don't think the MB has the time or resources to press a leader on the Egyptians. In the last election the MB candidate only received 20% of the vote. Hardly a majority, but still enough to gain a stronghold if played right. They aren't playing this right at all, fortunately.

    Just today, the military of Egypt made it's move. They are protecting the anti-Mubarak protesters from any violence by the pro factions. That's very significant.

    The US influence in Egypt is largely through their military. I wish I could find the articles on line that I read 10 years ago about the training we have done with their military. We've done an almost impossible job of turning their troops into a nearly Western style military whose main job is to protect Egyptians, not support an iron fisted leader (military or political.) It hasn't been easy.

    Based on what I read back then, I'm extremely proud of what my USA has managed to accomplish there. If we hadn't, this protest would have been a bloodbath, a complete tragedy. It isn't. That makes me very happy.

    I'm living in the rare condition of being proud of my country right now, and proud for Egypt that they can move forward in the world on their own without civil war.
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  12. #42
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    I like your sentiments but there isn't civil war yet and there hasn't been a bloodbath yet. The situation is very unstable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rollo View Post
    I like your sentiments but there isn't civil war yet and there hasn't been a bloodbath yet. The situation is very unstable.
    Very true! It is unstable, but I'm encouraged that the main protesters aren't violent and seem to want political and social stability through democracy.

    It's why they have to be acknowledged and supported.
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    sure, they may not be the ones protesting. but the poor are the majority in egypt and they are the ones who will elect the muslim brotherhood.
    just like most of the educated middle classes in iran didn't support the ayatollah khomeini. but while they might have been the majority in teheran, they were not the majority across the country.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sputnik View Post
    sure, they may not be the ones protesting. but the poor are the majority in egypt and they are the ones who will elect the muslim brotherhood.
    just like most of the educated middle classes in iran didn't support the ayatollah khomeini. but while they might have been the majority in teheran, they were not the majority across the country.
    From what I'm reading, even the poor of Egypt were shocked by the killings of tourists in Giza in 1998 (?) by the Muslim Brotherhood. The stain hasn't worn off from that incident.

    One of the Muslim Brotherhood's major strongholds is in the Egyptian prisons, where they act much like the gangs of US prisons. They are very popular with prisoners from outside Egypt.

    Even poor Egyptians have some education. They are supporting these anti-Mubarak protests because they have been the major victims of his vicious police force.

    In Iran, the world didn't expect Khomeni to seize control. He was a complete surprise. Now, everyone is on guard to the potential of theo-fascism. The entire Muslim world is aware now of the hypocrisy of Shite Mullahs in Iran, and the corruption of of the Sunis in Saudi Arabia. It's something they can naively want anymore. They have to want a thoroughly compromised system. It's hard to be idealistic when those ideals have screwed up Afghanistan so badly.

    I'm cautiously hopeful. I think what we are seeing here, a peaceful revolution, has the potential to change the political landscape of the Middle East in wonderful ways.

    What makes me smile is that it all started in Tunisia, a place of so little consequence. They have something to crow about now.
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