Tahrir Crowds

Tahrir Crowds
Midan Tahrir, 1 Feb 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011

Co-optation and Counter Revolution

The revolution's supporters have two main fears currently:  co-optation of the revolution and counter-revolution.

Co-optation can be seen in many new music videos featuring footage of the demonstrations and patriotic songs are airing on TV.  New TV talk shows have sprung up, even on the government stations, to discuss the issues raised by the revolution, sometimes featuring participants of the revolution, sometimes featuring officials and "experts."  Various companies are posting messages on billboards around town, written on the Egyptian flag, the main symbol of the revolution, and implying the companies supported the Revolution.  From the beginning of its entry on the streets, the Egyptian army has tried to pretend to be a friend of the Revolution.

The Counter-Revolution is clearly underway.  Some 1500 thugs removed the second encampment of demonstrators from Tahrir Square two weeks ago, with the army tear-gassing the demonstrators and firing rubber bullets, then moving in to prevent the demonstrators' return.  The next day the water was left running in the garden area, and it continues to be one very large puddle, making it impossible to pitch tents there again.

The police are mostly back in the streets, although we hear some have been laid off, some arrested, and some are under investigation for various crimes, especially corruption.  It's now up to the citizens to resist paying bribes or baksheesh--which takes a lot of courage.

The dreaded--and dreadful-- Amna Dowla, Central Security Police (the secret police who spied on everyone, tortured and kidnapped many, performed Extraordinary Rendition for the US and generally made mess) has been officially disbanded.  And now we have the Amna Watany, the National Police-- "a rose by any other name" still smells disgusting.  Many people feel they are still working the same ways as before, just keeping a lower profile.  Some secret police are being prosecuted, most importantly the former head of the Ministry of the Interior, (the home of the Amna Dowla), Habib el-Adly is charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder for ordering the killing of demonstrators.  Many people have been amazed at his arrest--it is certainly significant.  But we have to wait to see what happens, the outcome of the trial, before too much rejoicing.  If he is ultimately acquitted, it will be a hollow move indeed.  More to the point is to investigate, prosecute, and ban from future government employment, ALL the members of the police and Ministry of Interior for their political crimes.  Their dirty dealing was uniform across the agencies, not involving only a few rotten eggs.  Both the Judges Union and the Lawyers' Union participated in the Revolution, so the will may be there, but that is an enormous job.  Meanwhile, the police, secret police, and army may block these efforts.

Of immediate concern is a new law criminalizing public demonstrations and imposing stiff penalities for organizing them. See this report for details  http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en/node/372988.  Fortunately, the Coalition of Revolutionary Youth plans to protest this today, in front of the State Broadcasting Building.

The need remains to repeal the State of Emergency Laws, which have curtailed freedoms all of Mubarak's years in office.  This is one of the goals of the 25 January Revolution.  With the army now in control, this will be an uphill battle.  I pray the revolutionaries will keep the pressure on the government, will in the words of the old Spiritual, "stay on the battlefield," nonviolently, until the many needed changes are in place.

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