– fordi tiden kræver et MODSPIL

26. May 2006

Egypten: Baggrund og mere baggrund

Den egyptiske forfatter Ahdaf Soueif har en kommentar i dagens The Guardian om reformbevægelsen og om landets udvikling de senere år:
It is now a year since the government of Egypt jacked up the violence of its response to pro-reform demonstrators. On the streets of the capital, state security forces introduced two innovations: gangs of muscle-bound, possibly criminal, possibly stoned young men were utilised to beat up peaceful demonstrators and to implement the second innovation: assaulting, stripping and sexually humiliating women protesters.

This last is such a radical departure from Egyptian norms and values that its anniversary today is being marked by Egyptians everywhere. It stung mothers into action and mobilised greater numbers of professional women to join the pro-reform movement. It also highlighted how separated this government has become from the people it is supposed to represent. The demands of both the secular and the Islamist opposition are for reform rather than revolution". People want democracy, transparency and the rule of law, and they want them without violence and trauma.
Egypt has been teetering for years on the edge of chaos. The process of development the country has been subjected to for the last 30 years is now affecting the life of every citizen. Cairo has unacceptable levels of pollution; the haphazard slums that have sprung up have no access to clean water. For the first time in history Egyptians are undernourished. Cancer, respiratory disease and hepatitis C run rampant - said to be caused by suspect agricultural pesticides and other chemical imports. Unemployment sits at 12%. A nation that's been rooted in its land for six millennia is queueing at every embassy's immigration counter. Education has become a farce; so has healthcare. The gap between rich and poor yawns obscenely and the middle classes have vanished into it. And most of this is avoidable - if the country were run in the interests of its people, by a government accountable to the people and governed by the law and the constitution. This is what the reform movement is about.
Og myndighedernes reaktion på denne reformbevægelse?

Med Ahdaf Soueifs ord: "A rhetoric of falsehood and excuses, police brutality and troops on the streets".

Ovre hos Free Alaa-bloggen finder man et tilbageblik på det sidste års tids begivenheder i reformbevægelsen:
The news about Alaa's detention got to me while I was thinking: It has been one year, since we met, and Egypt has made a full circle. In a week like that exactly one year ago, I walked in a small coffee shop in Mohandesin on the Western end of Cairo. The trendy but not-too-loud place had open WiFi, which is about the only interesting thing in Cairo's trendy coffee shops. I recognised my table right away as I first saw Alaa with his hair and laptop. Naturally.
A few days later, on 25.05.2005, Alaa got beaten as he was trying to protect his mother, Dr Laila Soueif from police-guided thugs as she protested a referendum on changing the Constitution. His laptop was stolen, and it's gotten him livid. We often joked after all the headache Alaa had caused to the authorities that it was their mistake. They picked on the wrong blogger. They still are, except harder this time.

In the summer of 2005, I witnessed Manal and Alaa chnaging from techies who get activists to publish on the web and get organized using content management systems (they host and maintain websites for the Kifaya, the Anti-Globalization Egypt Group - AGEG, the Socialist Studies Center, other organizations, in addition to a number of Blogs. Manal and Alaa are also founding members of the Egypt Linux User Group - EGLUG) into influencial bloggers.

Their posts, now in Arabic as much as in English, are only beginning of discussions that would go online, but also elsewhere, and on a great variety of topics. Alaa's intelligence lies not in his theoretical, abstract thinking or fresh ideas, rather in his capacity to synthesize, to realize meanings to whatever that is happening around him. It is simple, open, and dedicated sense of community and public life; and in many an occasion, it helped keep discussions going, and also to bring ideas to the streets. I wonder if this dedication is partly because of him, at times, being unable to refrain from saying.
Men, hvis man ser på de danske medier - eller, for den sags skyld, på vore stundom så ytringsfrihedsbegejstrede højreorienterede weblogs - er reformbevægelsen i Egypten åbenbart ikke interessant; tavsheden er larmende.

Ren og skær mangel på interesse, eller er man bange for at genere det "demokratiske" Egypten, vores "partner" i "krigen mod terror"?

Link til Ahdaf Soueifs Kommentar i The Guardian.
Link til opsummeringen hos Free Alaa!.