The military turns really ugly in Egypt
By Mohamed Malik and Mohamad Omar, published in Counterpunch, Sept 21, 2013
Giza, Egypt—Various reports have been floated in the media about the events at Kirdasa yesterday [on the outskirts of Cairo], such as 15 police officers were killed, which led to a full army assault with tanks and helicopters, many dead and hundreds injured. The town was surrounded as Hama, Syria had been during the fateful massacre of 1982 when Hafez al-Assad, Bashar’s father, decided to bludgeon the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria to death. The similarity is not superficial, for Kirdasa is indeed one of the towns that strongly supports the Muslim Brotherhood and had been the subject of a similar attack by Gamal Abdel-Nasser’s military in 1954.
Except that all the talk of 15 police officers being killed there was just Egyptian media propaganda, automatically trotted out by everybody else. Local
See also, further below, two speeches by Egyptian Canadians in Vancouver :
Egypt’s military coup: A new age of dictatorship, by Shereen Ginena
Freedom and justice for Egyptians, By Dr. Hala Ahmed
residents talk of one police officer being shot by the army for not obeying orders, and that the Muslim Brotherhood in Kirdasa has been virtually wiped out by constant and recurring arrests, in view of the fact that Kirdasa has had a strong showing in the continuing national demonstrations against the coup. The army assault was in fact unprovoked and merely part of a plan to attack those towns that seemed to supply the most participants to the national demonstrations. Another such town which was subjected to a vicious assault was Delga, recently in the news.
Of our original group demonstrating at Nahda square in Giza, we reported the death of Mohamed Osman after the military assault on our protest camp, after we left to join a demonstration at Mohamed Mahmoud square in Mohandseen on 14th August. At the same time we reported that Muhannad Ramadan survived a shot to the head, but lost sight in both eyes. Muhannad unfortunately had just died from his wounds. Hosam al-Zomoor who had been arrested on the 16th August ‘Day of Rage’, and who endured the travails of Egyptian police cells ever since, was finally released two days ago with serious injuries suffered during his captivity into hospital care.
Egypt, a normally vibrant country despite its poverty, is sinking into despair and oblivion. Demonstrations continue every day despite the continuing arrests. Civil disobedience in the form of refusing to pay bills and withdrawing money from the banks has put pressure on the banks and the utilities, with widespread blackouts now beginning to affect commercial activity. The 22nd September is now announced as a day of inducing major disruptions to road and rail traffic.
But the military is unrepentant and appears to want to continually up the ante. Just as the demonstrations will not stop, Sissi, the leader of Egypt’s junta, who has recently been compared with Pinochet of Chile, will never give in of his own volition. More and more news keeps on emerging about the bad faith in which the army dealt with all the new political parties ever since the 2011 revolution. While demonstrators have kept their demonstrations and their acts of civil disobedience entirely peaceful, Sissi’s policy is to continuously goad them into violent responses. Having begun to stage such violent acts in the name of the opposition, but having failed to convince the public that they are genuine, as in the case of the bombing that was announced before it happened, the stakes seem to be rising all the time. This headlong rush towards the total destruction of the country has added a new rumour mill about what the military will do next that makes it impossible to resume any kind of normal life.
Lamis Hadidi, the Islamophobic talk show hostess of al-Misri al-Yawm on billionaire Mohamed al-Amin’s CBC Channel, once a spokeswoman for Mubarak’s 2005 re-election campaign who since the days of Mubarak has been calling for the strengthening of the siege against Gaza and continues to do so, is now calling for a major assault on Muslim populations in general. For this reason, few people are sending their children back to school for fear of thugs being sent to attack the schools, in order to once again lay the blame at the door of the ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ and set the stage for yet more assaults.
The BBC in Cairo is also, astonishingly, joining the ‘reds under the beds’ campaign of the Egyptian media over the Muslim Brotherhood, with a broadcaster accusing the Nobel Prize winning Yemeni activist Tawakkol Kirman of being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood for supporting the recent demonstrations. She is outraged at the accusations and defends the support as being the normal reaction of someone who wants democracy.
It would seem that the mainstream media generally is buying the story spun by Egyptian state media and the satellite stations owned by the Egyptian oligarchs, whilst the blocking of pro-democracy TV coverage and the regular arrest of reporters goes on completely unreported and uncommented. Those TV stations still covering the demonstrations (al-Hiwar, al-Quds, and al-Jazeera Mubashir) are reduced to airing footage uploaded from mobile phones, but although those stations are extremely busy and active in their phone-ins and discussions, from the perspective of the BBC and even newspapers such as the Guardian and the Independent in London, noted for their more open-minded approach, might as well be on a different planet.
Does this mean that if the rumour mills are true and schools are going to be attacked, that once again the ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ is going to be automatically blamed by the Egyptian media, and local communities then be ravaged by the unrelenting Egyptian military, without even the slightest doubts gracing the lines of subsequent reports in the international media?
Mohamed Malik (weaver) can be reached at [email protected]
Mohamad Omar (surgeon), can be reached at [email protected]).
Also contributing to this report: Badr Mohamad Badr (teacher), Yasser Mahran (lawyer), Ahmad Abdel-Ghafar (businessman), Sayed Khamis (teacher), Mohamad Gheith (pharmacist),others whom we thank have helped in the redaction of this article.
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Egypt’s military coup: A new age of dictatorship
By Shereen Ginena, first published on Rabble.ca, Sept 10, 2013
The following is a speech delivered to a rally in Vancouver, Canada on August 24, 2013 protesting against the July 3 military coup in Egypt and the violence by the military regime that seized power that day.
Before President Mohamad Morsi had barely warmed his seat as head of state, demonstrations prompted Egypt’s military to remove him from office. After one year, the country’s first democratically elected president was now held at an undisclosed location. It was the only way, the military argued, that Egypt could be saved from political polarisation and violence; the only way the country could restore democracy and avoid descending into chaos. But what has occurred over the last fifty days of military rule has been nothing short of chaotic.
On August 14th, the world watched in horror as security forces stormed two massive sit-in camps, located near Cairo University in the west side of the city and on the grounds of the Rabaa al-Adawiya Mosque in the east side. Police and soldiers torched tents while people slept inside. They killed and maimed indiscriminately. Live ammunition and roof-top snipers were used to drive out peaceful protestors. What was left behind was a massacre the likes of which have never been witnessed in Egyptian history. Depending on the source, anywhere from 1,000 to 2,600 protesters were killed in the span of 10 hours. A mosque and field hospital treating the injured and harbouring the bodies of the dead were set on fire. When all was said and done, Egypt’s military-led government called August 14 a “difficult day” but offered no apologies for the cold-blooded murder of men, women and children. Those looking to bury their dead were slapped in the face yet again when authorities compelled them to consent to “suicide” being the cause of death as a condition for the timely issuance of burial permits.
Since then, numerous other massacres have been perpetrated, opposition leaders have been arrested on spurious charges, anti-coup television channels have been shut down, journalists have been beaten, arrested or shot dead, detainees in jails who were not charged or tried have been killed, and martial law and curfews which had been applied for decades by Mubarak’s 30 year autocratic rule have been reinstated.
With the local media remaining under the absolute control of those in power, justification for their brutality is abundant. Aware that the world is watching, state TV posted a background banner in English calling this “a war on terrorism”. Such terrorism, they claim, is led or incited by the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood is an 85 year old group. Over the last two years, it has won Egypt’s parliamentary, presidential, and syndicate elections. It commands the following of millions of Egyptians nationwide and remains the most organized and capable of peacefully mobilizing masses onto the streets. How then, does this military-led government expect to erase the existence of millions of Egyptians? If the rising death toll is any indication, they have already descended upon that task.
To further demonize the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s military-led government has resorted to some of Mubarak’s same old lies. They have blamed the group for the burning of churches and the targeting of minorities; besides lacking any evidence, such retaliatory attacks against churches only strengthen the hands of the army. In fact, earlier this week, Egypt’s Ministry of Interior arrested three men it accuses of being behind these despicable acts. Not one belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood. Indeed, the military’s murder of 28 Christians in October 2011 clearly does not place them in the role of saviours. The military is not now, and has not been in the past, a protector of minorities. And the last fifty days provide abundant proof of their failure to unite belligerent factions. The military’s actions have dealt a serious blow to Egypt’s democratic transformation since Mubarak. In spite of the appointment of Adli Mansour, a titular president, and his shabby government giving a much-needed civilian veneer, it is clear that Egypt’s military dictator, General Abdul-Fattah El-Sisi, and his junta are at the helm.
The facts of this story are quite clear. Egypt’s military has elected to use its weaponry to tighten its grip, sending a clear message to all: bodies on the street are now the new currency of power. Despite all this, no amount of deceit and preposterous lies by the state media can cover up the facts. Egyptians remain defiant. Daily anti-coup rallies in support of democracy have drawn tens of thousands across the country. The more people die it appears, the more people take to the streets; until the Egyptian dream comes true.
Shereen Ginena is an Egyptian Canadian residing in Vancouver.
Freedom and justice for Egyptians
By Dr. Hala Ahmed, Sept 7, 2013. The following speech was delivered in Vancouver BC on Sept 7 to a rally opposing the July 3, 2013 military coup in Egypt.
My fellow Canadians,
We are gathered today to protest what is happening in our beloved nation Egypt.
After the revolution of January 25, 2011 that overthrew former president Mubarak, Egyptians started to enjoy and practice democracy, from which they were deprived for a very long time. Egyptians happily stood in long lines in 2012 to choose their president, to vote for their constitution and to choose their members of parliament. They were a great many challenges, but Egyptians were, as usual, very patient.
On July 3 of this year, Egyptians received a shock when they found their elected president removed, their voted constitution frozen and many channels of free speech shut down. Many people were unlawfully arrested; others had their bank accounts frozen. All this was done by the army led by General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi. He usurped the presidential office and seized power in an unprecedented coup d’etat.
Egyptians immediately marched in the streets demanding their democratically-elected president be reinstated, their votes to be respected and their constitution restored. They went on the streets protesting against the hijacking of their government and their freedom that was kidnapped.
The people were faced with an outrageous and unmerciful response by the forces of the police and army. In the first two weeks following the July 3 coup d’etat, hundreds were killed with live bullets. On August 14, the world faced the dreadful news of a monstrous massacre carried out over the course of ten hours. In ten hours of relentless shooting on peaceful protesters, women, children, old and young were killed mercilessly. It is estimated that 2600 people were killed in Rabaa Square only [one of two sites in Cairo where large ‘Occupy’-style camps were established following the July 3 coup—ed.]. In their attempt to cover up their crimes, security forces set fire to the hospital where the injured were treated and where the dead were kept. Furthermore, authorities refused to release the dead to their families. They blackmailed grieving families, forcing them to consent that the cause of death of their loved ones was not homicide but suicide. Some of the dead were kept in the street for days where temperatures can rise 40 degrees.
Today, three weeks after this massacre, we are still unable to comprehend the degree of brutality that was carried out that day. We as Egyptians are unable to continue to live our normal lives again when all we see and hear on social media are horrific stories from that awful day. Pictures of beautiful young faces, mothers and fathers, all their lives cut short for standing up for what they believe in. We are still haunted by the fact that tens of thousands of people are still detained in prisons without a trial for an unknown period of time and are being deprived of their basic human rights.
You may be wondering now, why would the security forces and army treat Egyptians with such brutality? Why do they treat not only the living but also the dead with such cruelty? We believe this brutality was to silence voices that demand democracy. It was to punish Egyptians for standing up for their rights. General Sisi wants to return Egypt to the era of corrupt military ruling that is based on dictatorship.
As of the current situation in Egypt, and since the massacres of August 14 in Rabaa and Nahda squares, and in an attempt to intimidate the Egyptian people, the army has forced a daily curfew on the streets of Egypt. But as usual, Egyptians are showing no fear, they are challenging this curfew by daily marches and protests that take place exactly when the curfew hours starts. Thousands, even millions of Egyptians continue to peacefully demand the return of democracy and legitimate government.
We are standing together today, here in Vancouver, to say “No” to the illegitimate, interim government in Egypt. “No” for taking away our freedom of expression, “no” for taking away our democracy, “no” for killing innocent people, “no” for closing and burning places of worship and “no” for shutting down channels of free speech. Egyptians have tasted freedom in their blessed revolution in 2011. They will never again tolerate oppression.
Fellow Canadians, we need your support to defend and protect the freedom of our nation. Speak up and let the Canadian government know that Egyptians refuse to be oppressed and are paying with their lives. They still march in the streets to reclaim their freedom and reclaim justice for their people. We demand the Canadian government take a strong stand against this oppressive and brutal regime. We demand that it support the voice of the majority in Egypt to restore democracy and the return of the constitutional state.
We are also sending this message to the brutal and criminal regime in Egypt. We will never forget those who died defending our nation’s freedom. Egyptians will not stop until General Sisi and his accomplices are prosecuted in the international criminal justice court. We will not rest until this regime is held accountable for their vicious crimes against humanity.
Please stand with freedom and justice and support Egyptians for their cause. Thank you.
Hala Ahmed is an Egyptian-Canadian medical doctor practicing in Surrey, British Columbia.