Egypten: ‘We are in the shit. The Dark Days’

Sandmonkey, også kendt under sit rigtige navn Mahmoud Salem, er et af de mennesker, der bedst forstår dynamikken i det oprør, der har præget Egypten det sidste års tid. Han har blogget mod diktaturet i mere end et halvt årti, og har i samme periode været aktivt involveret i politisk modstandsarbejde, for ikke at tale om efterspurgt af Mubaraks hemmelige politi. Ved det nys overståede valg stillede han op til parlamentet, men tabte.

Sandmonkey er ikke optimist, i modsætning til Hossam Al-Hamalawy, som vi citerede forleden, og som er det på længere sigt. Mahmoud mener, at den egyptiske revolution er inde i en mørk, makaber fase, som kuldslår og lammer de aktivister, der kæmper for et bedre land. Folk har begået fejl, der er svindlet med valget, og militæret er ikke sene til at udnytte situationen:

My helplessness reached its peak when my friend S. came over two nights ago, and she was not alright. Fighting to release the thousands that are getting military tried over the months has been a draining crusade for her, and it only got worse the moment she got involved in trying to ensure that the death reports of those killed in Mohamed Mahmoud do not get forged, which meant she had to be at the Zeinhom morgue the night those bodies would come in, surrounded by wailing families and crying loved ones, seeing dead bodies after dead body come in, and almost getting arrested by the authorities that didn’t want her stopping the cover-up. She told me after wards that she now sees those dead bodies everywhere, and she can’t escape them. But that night, 2 nights ago, she had just come back from Tahrir, where a man , standing inches away from her, ended up getting set on fire due to an exploding Molotov cocktail. She could see the fire engulf him, the smell of burnt flesh and hair, his agonizing screams for help. She was silent. Very calm and silent. She was sitting next to me and I couldn’t reach her, and all I could do is hold her without being able to tell her that things will be alright. How will they be alright exactly?

I haven’t written in two months. Two months I have spent running for parliament, stopping my campaign to run around all the field hospitals in Mohamed Mahmoud and ensuring they are well supplied, to losing the election and heading to Suez to lead another one, one that I managed to “win”. The things I have seen, on the street, I do not wish on anyone. One day I will write about that experience, but not today. Today, allow me to take you into my fragmented mind a bit. I have been silent, I have been tied up by advisors over what you can and cannot say during an election. This is over. The elections, for me, are over.

One of the biggest mistakes of this revolution, and there are plenty to go around, was that we allowed its political aspects to overshadow the cultural and social aspects. We have unleashed a torrent of art, music and creativity, and we don’t celebrate or enjoy it, or even promote it. We have brought the people to a point where they were ready to change. To change who they are and how they act, and we ignored that and instead focused all of our energies in a mismanaged battle over the political direction of this country. We clashed with the military, and we forgot the people, and we let that small window that shows up maybe every 100 years where a nation is willing to change, to evolve, to go to waste.

The parliamentary elections are fraudulent. I am not saying this because I lost- I lost fair and square- but because it’s the truth. The fraud happened on the hands of the election workers and the Judges. People in my campaign were offered Ballot boxes, employees and judges in polling stations were instructing people who to vote for and giving unstamped ballots to Christians in polling stations where they are heavily present to invalidate their votes, and the Egyptian bloc has about half a ton of correct ballots- ones that showed people voting for them- found being thrown in the streets in Heliopolis, Ghamra, Shubra, Zaitoun, Alexandria, Suez and many other districts. The amount of reports of fraud and legal injunctions submitted against these elections are enough to bring it all down and have it done all over again. Hell, a simple request for a vote recount would be enough to expose the fraud, since the ballots were thrown in the street.

What you see as a campaign manager is very different than what you see as a candidate, especially when you are a campaign manager in Suez. To make a long story short, in the 10 days we were there, this is what went down: We had one of our campaign workers fall victim to a hit and run “accident”, a campaign operative getting arrested by the military police at a polling station for filming the army promoting the Salafi Nour Party (with a big banner carrying the Noor Party slogan being placed on the side of an Army Truck) and his film confiscated of course, our campaign headquarters got attacked with molotov cocktails by thugs sent by a “moderate” islamist centrist party (hint: It’s not ElAdl) , the hotel we were staying in got repeatedly attacked by thugs till 3 am, with the army platoon leader protecting the Hotel informing me that if I don’t resolve the situation, he will “deal violently” with those outside and inside the hotel, the Leader of the 3rd Egyptian Army calling us looking for me, the Chief of Security for Suez doing the same thing, Lawyers and thugs working for a semi-leftist party filed police reports against us claiming we hired them and owed them money when we didn’t, and the other campaign manager finally going to deal with the situation, ends up getting arrested, and the two campaign members that were with him were left outside under the mercy of groups of thugs, and we managed by the grace of god get them all out unharmed and we escape Suez while Trucks filled with guys with guns going around Suez looking for us.

Why would the military be “helping” the Salafi Noor Party get votes? Well, mainly because they invented them. It was a match made possible by State-Security, who probably alerted the military of how reliable were the salafis in their previous “cooperation” to scare the living shit out of the population into submission and supporting the regime. Remember the All Saints church attack, the one that happened this New Year? Remember the documents proving that our very own State Security had arranged it to take place to force the Coptic population to support Mubarak? Yeah, it’s kind of like that. Only on a higher level.

Ovenstående er kun uddrag af en deprimerende fortælling om, hvor Egypten måske også er på vej hen. Som om nogen vidste det. Men læs endelig det hele, hvis du interesserer dig for udviklingen i Egypten (og dermed hele den arabiske verden) i disse år.

Link: Underneath (via Beirut Spring)

Meanwhile, in Egypt

Militæret slår til på Tahrir-pladsen.

Advarsel: Stærke billeder af vold mod ubevæbnede demonstranter.

Via Beirut Spring, som skriver:

Egyptian soldiers beating up female protestor
- That’s not how you build a country -

People defending the violent action of the army in Egypt against protesters always ask us to look at the “big picture”. They ask for patience for the democratic process to take hold, and for a civilian authority to eventually reign in the soldiers.

But when I see videos like this (which I ask all of you to spread as wide as you can), in which soldiers so viciously hit demonstrators and defile their women, I see what the big picture really is: It’s about human dignity and the value of every single egyptian life. That was the whole point of the revolution and the Arab spring.

This is not about some long elaborate process in which eventually the rulers will learn to respect the civilians. This is about once and for all establishing the primacy of the citizen as the sole source of power and legitimacy in the country.

Revolutionens poesi

Sharif S. Elmusa skriver i den egyptiske avis Al-Masry Al-Youm om, hvordan revolutionerne i Egypten og Tunesien har vækket befolkningens slumrende poetiske bevidsthed, og hvordan netop poesien har været blandt de elementer, der har båret revolutionen frem:

The political comes the morning after, although it’s articulated in slogans, drums and chants during the days of mobilization, and even long before that, in the daily sighs and dreams of the oppressed. Although we may adduce all kinds of “factors” to the eruption of the revolution, we cannot use them to explain its timing. The sudden synergy of hundreds of thousands of people chanting loudly and in unison, their joy drowning their aches as they inhale the air of freedom, defies rational explanation.

Great creative works, like Handel’s symphony The Messiah or Melville’s Moby Dick were made after periods of deep gloom. In the Arab world, revolution has poured out of the deep well of despair and loss of confidence.

The late Nizar Qabbani, the love poet of the Arab world, who also penned much political poetry, wrote “the Arabs have died.” Mahmoud Darwish said “Egypt is not in Egypt.” But pain and suffering were as fertile as Egypt’s soil, green as Tunisia itself. They have reawakened the spirit, opened the portals of the body and the body politic.  They have ushered Egypt back into Egypt and Tunisia into Tunisia. You could see the metamorphosis and hear it in the performance of the crowds and their words, in the free wheeling slogans and the rhyming couplets.

They rendered acts of poetry–cleaning the streets, regulating traffic, protecting the national museum, guarding houses, breaking bread with someone–even more poetic. These mundane acts became inspiring moments, like that of a poem, spawning a new spirit, free of the dust that had settled on the conception of work and on those who perform it day after day. Writing a poem and engaging in a revolution are both acts of self-discovery.

The revolution dignifies the ordinary, and elevates it, just as poetry transforms common words into rhythms and meaning.

Never will the privileged person who swept leftover food, cigarette butts and plastic containers into a pile in the street think of the street sweeper as lowly again–just like what a poem about a street sweeper does, it dignifies the person and the work.

Never will the person who helped formed a ring around thugs to prevent agitated comrades from meting out spontaneous justice forget the meaning of magnanimity. A poem that is not imbued with a spirit of forgiveness is an ersatz poem.

Never will the person who guarded the museum go by it again thinking it is just another building. Standing guard by the house of antiquities is like a poem about lost objects, about lives vanished; it keeps them alive for as long they last.

The words that revolutionaries make are poetry, even if they are not meant to be. Language under authoritarian regimes rusts, turns dull, loses its edge and luster. Revolution restores to words their truthfulness, meaning, even magic. The first word of the revolution was “The people want to bring down the regime.” It is the people who want, not the ruler. The declarative statement is economical, uses the active verb, and announces the expiry of the old order. It is in itself an act, a performance.

Sharif forklarer videre, hvordan den egyptiske opstands helt grundlæggende slagord – “Folket ønsker at vælte regimet”  – faktisk er en henvisning til et digt af tuneseren Abu Al-Qasim Al-Shabbi.

Link: Poetry of the Revolution