Wednesday, February 2, 2011

This is What Revolution Looks Like


Click here to watch the latest in-depth reporting on the revolution in Egypt.


Posted by: Noël Jones


As much as Americans like to talk about the Constitution and revolution, I have a hard time believing that there are enough engaged citizens in this country committed enough to solidarity to put their differences aside, put their actions where their mouths are, and pull off a peaceful demonstration of millions for eight days straight to change their government as the citizens of Cairo have done. Maybe it just hasn't gotten bad enough here yet.


A poet-friend of mine in New York, Rania, is Egyptian, and regularly goes back and forth between New York and Cairo. She is in the midst of this popular revolution that has swept the nation of Egypt for the last nine days, and I have been worried for her safety, knowing what a courageous soul she is. As you may have heard, what had been a peaceful demonstration eight straight days today turned brutal, as the government has hired plain-clothes thugs to attack the demonstrators (and Western journalists), trapping them in the main square where they have been throwing Molotov cocktails all day into the crowd setting buildings on fire. Hundreds have died. Women have been on the front lines of this protest from Day 1, many with their children.  This is what revolution looks like--these people are at the end of their patience with a dictator who has been in power for the last 32 years, enforcing "emergency law", including a curfew, for over three decades, and they finally have no more fear. Even at the end of that patience,

they managed a peaceful protest for eight days, and this could have easily been a peaceful revolution if Mubarak had simply stepped down, but instead he only promised to not run again in September--as if the people would fall for that. Then the people paid to beat up protesters showed up with pro-government signs that have not been seen for the first eight days (I guess they needed time to design and print them). This is a Mubarak show for the media--but in the excitement to convince the world that the government does have support among the people, they managed to beat up Anderson Cooper of CNN.


Today, internet access became available again briefly (the Mubarak government had shut down all internet service and cell phone signals) and Rania managed to post to her Facebook page to let everyone know that she is safe. Here is what she posted:


"hello everyone! thank you so much for your love and concern, i feel it. I am not at home and just writing quickly. have not read my email as net has just returned. me and my family are fine, but friends of friends have died protesting and this will continue. please help spread the word that hosni mubarak is a dictator and nothing less. he has released undercover men to incite fighting in the peaceful protests i've seen with my own eyes. now he is creating a propaganda war, paying people to support him with signs that have been absent the entire time. he may curb protests but he will not quell what has begun! love to you all. more soon xoxo  ps. will send photos!  pps.  please write american govt to end this regime."


Please watch the Democracy Now! video under the photo at the top of this post to hear the first-hand account from several protesters, both male and female, among them lawyers, journalists, educators and humanitarians. One part really struck me--a woman explaining that women have been on the front lines of this movement since the beginning, and that they have never been treated with so much respect as from the men who are protesting, who consider them equals in the fight, and are essentially fighting for modernity and freedom for all Egyptians...

18 comments:

noel jones said...

Two notes on this:

1) I am extremely disturbed that our Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, at the onset of these demonstrations spoke out in support of this dictator--a government that we have been allied with for decades, and in fact, held 250 meetings with in 2010 alone. That's almost one meeting every work day of the week. Then, when it became clear that the people would succeed in their revolution, President Obama spoke out as if we have supported the will of the people all along. How can we claim to support democracy around the world when we in fact support dictators against their own people until it looks like they are losing? This hypocrisy has always disturbed me. The fact that we claim that we have to invade other countries to help support democracy, when in fact we support dictatorships (Saudi Arabia being a good example) so that we can main military bases in the Middle East to protect our oil interests rather than investing in alternative fuels. When are we going to stop spending billions on military spending that supports dictators rather than democracy? Only when we as a people demand it. But there are not enough of us in agreement on this yet. We have plenty of people screaming to end spending on welfare and medicaid and yet many of those same people staunchly defend all military spending without question. We maintain bases in 177 countries around the world and keep defense contractors rolling and raking in our tax money while they get rich, so that we can support dictators like Mubarak and keep our bases in Egypt to watch over our oil interests (and support Israel). Honestly--what makes people who are against wasting tax money such big fans of military spending and oil guzzling, when we could be free of it all?

2) While I love my friend Rania, and have posted her message and its appeal in its entirely out of respect, I have a problem with the idea of asking our government to "end this regime" when I don't believe that we should have that big brother power over any other country but our own. Now to speak out in support of the people--great. To threaten to withhold aid--possibly. But to "end" a regime suggests a power over a sovereign nation that I am not comfortable with as a person who believes in self-governance.

However--Rania is an incredible human being, and she is in the thick of it, so out of respect I have posted the whole message so that she can speak for herself about how best Americans can support Egyptian democracy.

David Caines said...

We agree again,
This is not our problem.
There are many reasons that we have supported this an other dictatorships, the cold war chief among them, but I hoe that we can move past our old cold war practices and out of our old way of doing things.
Other nations need to be able to sort themselves out and unless they become an open threat, should be left to decide their own fate, democratic or otherwise.
Peace,
David

tunsie said...

I have friends who are moslems....while I am a christian,and I am also fluent in arabic.we call ourselves christians not catholic,because the word catholic is a relatively a new term it is only about 500-600 years old.the early followers of christ called themselves CHRISTIANS....We R more close to the jews than all tthe middle eastern countries....The other countries dont like that....I got in big trouble when I said I wouldnt go to a moslem country,because if they found out I was a christian and that I have had a couple of jewish girlfriends,they will not wasting time in killing me....Selin whom I love very much said the TUNSIE I KNOW is much more intelligent and compassionate than that.....My mother use to tell me I dont care that your successful or smart.U need a woman to tell U what to do....I look to the skies...Your right mom

tunsie said...

I forgot to say I love noel.....tunsie

David Caines said...

hi tunsie,
the catholic or universal church is more or less what the rest of modern christiandom comes from. Arguably the only older christian faiths are Arianism ( not aryan) and gnostic.In either case, the church was opposed to the jews who chose not to accept Yahshua, yahoshua, possibly yashoua ben yoseph (jesus- a non-name) as the prophesied mesiah...though those prophesies like all are iffy.
Still, I have no interest in a new religious war or to be honest a world wide democracy. Western culture which honors womens rights and the like is less than 9 % of the worlds total population. in a one world democracy, women would be little but slaves judging by the 90% of the world that holds that view.
Still, I am prepared to let other nations sort themselves out while we fix the holes in our own walls and floors. our vessel is leaky, until we fix it, we have no right to tell others how to live. Extending equal rights to our GLBT citizens would be a start.
I think sadly that it is worth saying that this nation may yet fail, that all of our progress may yet be in vain , unless or until we care for ourselves first.
Blessings,
David

tunsie said...

alright alright I wasnt a theology major in college....I studied human biology and cognitive psychology.....I dont like the way moslems treat women...I always tell people in Lebanon at the cafes....The men that beat up thier wives are moslems.The men that get beat up by thier wives are christians.I grew up with the fact the mother was the head of the house,not the man,what she says goes.I dont agree with treating wome bad no matter what country your from...there R human rights issues in EVERY country.You are right we need to fix our problems,instead of investing in places that are volatile.......tunsie

David Caines said...

Just an aside here, since 1978 it has been against the law to rape your wife, the last state wieghing in somewhere around 1984, while in nations of the west like germany, this law is only two years old and does not exist in much of the rest of the world.
I think it bears noting that American women were raped and gang raped and tortured to make this so. That all of our freedoms have come at a huge cost of social change, pain and blood. tens of thousands died to bring us a 40 hour work week, to bring us child labor laws, which only truly exist in western nations.
We are not privelidged, we are a people who have chosen a diferent path than other peoples and have paid for that path with billions of dollars and rivers of blood, some of it mine.
What freedoms and advancements we have we have paid a dear price for, and we have done so against the will of the rest of the world.
should we forget that, we may yet lose it.
Peace,
David

tunsie said...

NO...rape is a crime....but it has to REPORTED.or else it wont be dealt with....In the lafayette bar....I have a TUNSIE-ism on the wall.that says NO BOYFRIEND IS BETTER THAN A BAD BOYFRIEND....but how many women realize that,especially when they have been beaten down physically and emotionally...They are AFRAID to speak.......tunsie

David Caines said...

Blelieve me tunsie I do agree. But that is a decidedly American attitude.
Rape by a husband is not possible in most of the world as his wife is his property, his slave. This view of women as equals much less anything but property holds only in the US and western europe, a small percentage of the cultures of the world.
even here in the states, there are women traded like slaves among the extreme christian and other sects. about a year ago desmond tuttu issued a decree against such things as child marriage and such, that plague our cities where other cuktures rule. I signed it, as I signed the pettion against what we are now calling female circumcision, female genital mutilation which has become an issue in America with the acceptance of cultures who support it. In short, that little blip down there that makes women happy gets cut off. Personally I happen to favor the thing, and as such protest it's removal.
We are i think, an island of sanity in an unjust world...but that may be just me.
anywho,
Blessings,
David

David Caines said...

http://www.petitiononline.com/fgm2003/petition.html

To: U.S. President & U.S. Congress

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is practiced in many forms:

- Sunna circumcision in which the tip of the clitoris and/or its covering (prepuce) are removed.
- Clitoridectomy where the entire clitoris, the prepuce and the adjacent labia are removed.
- Infibulation (a.k.a. Pharaonic circumcision) which is a clitoridectomy followed by sewing up of the vulva. A small opening is left to allow urine and menstrual blood to pass. A second operation is done later in life to reverse some of the damage. In some cultures, the woman is cut open by her husband on their wedding night with a double edged dagger. She may be sewn up again if her husband leaves on a long trip.

Because of poverty and lack of medical facilities, the procedure is frequently done under less than hygienic conditions, and often without anesthetic by other than medically trained personnel. Anesthesia is rarely used. Razor blades, knives or scissors are usually the instruments used. In the rural Mossi areas of Burkina Faso, group female circumcisions are scheduled every three years in many villages. Girls aged from 5 to 8 are assembled by their mothers into groups of up to 20. The circumcision "uses a knife-like instrument, the barga, reserved specifically for this purpose; after each operation she simply wipes the knife on a piece of cloth, sometimes rinsing it in water first." In some areas of Africa, FGM is delayed until two months before a woman gives birth. This practice is based on the belief that the baby will die if she/he comes into contact with their mother's clitoris during birth. We are unaware of any medical evidence to support this belief.

Side effects of the operation can include: hemorrhage, shock, painful scars, keloid formation, labial adherences, clitoral cysts, chronic urinary infection, and chronic pelvic infections. Later in life, it can cause kidney stones, sterility, sexual dysfunction, depression, and various gynecological and obstetric problems.

- From the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance website (http://www.religioustolerance.org/)

- - - - - - - - - -

We, the citizens of the United States of America, in solidarity with our suffering sisters throughout the world, demand effective and immediate action from the President of the United States and the United States Congress to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). FGM is gravely immoral and flies in the face of the liberating spirit of America. As we would protect our American sisters, we must now protect our sisters abroad. This violent subjugation and mutilation, this horrendous act of terrorism against women everywhere must come to an end.

Therefore, we, the people of the United States, demand that the President work with Congress to enact and enforce effective legislation to bring down this global act of misogynistic terrorism. Furthermore, we demand that the State Department bring this matter before the United Nations, making it an issue that the international community cannot ignore. We, the self-governing citizens of America, will settle for nothing less.

Sincerely,
Go to the website, sign the petition, or wait your turn.
Peace,
David

David Caines said...

to include myself, 2,340 persons have signed, in a world of 10 + billion.
Thankfully the European petition has passed.
Peace,
David

tunsie said...

what ever happen to do unto others.......why.....Tunsie

David Caines said...

it died with the passive invasion of our nation. had they come with guns..we would be at war and defending our women and thier very american rights...but they came in numbers and without violence and we have no idea how to deal with that, except to lose ourselves under their sway.
A passive invasion is still war, is still invasion. we are dealing with a war of culture...I prefer a culture that does not maim women...that culture is American culture and american culture alone. And hard won.
Blessings,
David

David Caines said...

as far as womens rights exist, they exist in western culture. the day may come when that culture as a minoirty culture fails...I stand against that day as do many o9thers..but we are small in number.
"a man who cannot deal with a woman fullfiled should question not her womanly virtues but his manky ones- me.
we have a duty to inspect and decide on those who enter our nation and that duty is to our women .
Blessings IHS,
David

noel jones said...

how did we get so far off-topic? this post is about the Egyptian Revolution currently underway...

David Caines said...

sorry noel,
You can never really be sue where things are going to go. But I do agree that we should not involve ourselves militarily in egypts current problems.
peace,
david

David Caines said...

I'm iced in and have the flu...so maybe my mind is wandering to much.
Thanks,
David
Still I think that when discussing such things as the next war we might get into, it bears noting that we are a very special people with a unique culture. I crack on our country quite a bit...sometimes I feel the need to remind myself and others of the good things that we have and how we got them.

tunsie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.