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The revolution in Egypt is at a turning point: with Mubarak gone and the final protesters forcefully removed from Tahrir Square by the army, the struggle now appears to be spreading more widely through the country in the form of strikes and a general refusal to let things just get ‘back to normal’. Although the first out of the seven demands of the people, the removal of Mubarak, might have been achieved, the, now ruling, army’s statement on state TV yesterday, urging an end to all political protests, made it clear that the struggle of the Egyptian people is far from over. Without underestimating the protests that happened around the country during the three week uprising, the very nature of the Tahrir occupation seem to have facilitated a fundamental and irreversible sense of empowerment in the people which will not be easy for any government to crush. What follows is a report from a night that we spent in Tahrir on the 8th of February, a quiet night which still gave plenty of examples of impressive grassroots resistance in action. Read more of this post
Since the 25th January, when the Egyptian revolution began, there has been looting across Cairo. This has been reported as perpetrated by the anti-Mubarak rioters.
We spoke to the owner of a shop near Tahrir Square, opposite the Intercontinental Hotel, close to the US embassy who said that his shop had been looted on February 28th, the day before the police disbanded. He told us that his shop was looted, not by rioters, but by the police: Read more of this post
The most striking thing about Egypt’s ongoing revolution is the ecstatic expressions on the faces of the the people who are creating it. Everything that happens on Tahrir is the result of real self organisation. “There are no political parties present here, just people”, one man tells us , “we are doing everything for ourselves because we want to create something for the people”. The sense of empowerment this gives is nowhere more evident than in the busy medical centre located just outside the square. Normally a Mosque, the building is now buzzing with doctors and nurses who treat patients around the clock. At prayer time the building still fills up with worshippers who pray there, but once they are finished the work continues. All the medics are volunteers, many of whom have made significant sacrifices in order to be there. Being a doctor is one of the best paid professions in Egypt, but the three doctors on call did not hesitate to leave their jobs so that they could come here and treat the wounded. Read more of this post
Tuesday the 8th saw the biggest demonstration since last Friday in Tahrir Square. Coming one week after the ‘March of a Million’ (when there was a callout for one million to partisipate in the protest) some people sleeping in the square had felt a bit nervous the night before. Although the big march on 1st February was calm, the day after saw the bloodiest day yet, with the demonstators being violently attacked by pro-Mubarak forces. Yesterday proved that whatever the regime comes up with, the people’s determination to gain their freedom will not bow under the pressure. The Tahrir protestors are not going anywhere.
The next big day will be this Friday.
View short video here
8th February 2011
“First Obama said Mubarak had to go straight away. Then Mubarak, cleverly, said that if he stood down the Muslim Brotherhood would gain power… Now Obama says that Mubarak must remain in power to keep ‘stability’, and Cameron follows him”
Middle aged anti-Mubarak demonstrator
“In the square there are a million people, and a million leaders, everyone has a voice”
Tahrir Square occupier
As hundreds of thousands of people demonstated in Tahrir Square a crowd gathered outside nearby Magles Al Shaab, the Egyptian parliament, standing opposite the Ministry of Health. Hundreds of people swelled to thousands as people poured in from the square. Protestors barricaded the road and set up a volunteer checkpoint to protect the demonstration against attack. The army stood and watched as people vented their anger, an act that would have been unthinkable before the revolution began sixteen days ago. Read more of this post
7th February 2011: Tahrir Square
“We will rip freedom from the throat of Mubarak”
Young man, Tahrir Square, 07/02/2011
“We have seen our friends killed here in Tahrir Square. After that how can we leave now, before the revolution succeeds”
Man in his mid twenties, Tahrir Square – 07/02/2011
During the last thirteen days rioting has erupted through downtown Cairo. The property damage caused in the rioting has been well targeted with branches of multinational corporations, government cars and buildings, police and army property and banks destroyed while local cafes, apartments and shops have been left untouched.
Scores have also been settled with the owner of the Spanish/Egyptian Asbestos Company, who had sentenced local workers to death by not providing proper safety equipment (http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2004/12/302626.html?c=on#c107076): his cafe in Talaat Al Harb square was burnt to the ground.
The scope of the damage clearly shows that the anger of the uprising has been pointed squarely at capitalism, imperialism and the state. Downtown Cairo has effectively been brought to a standstill with the stock exchange remaining closed. The ongoing occupation of Tahrir Square is a constant reminder that, despite the batallions of tanks occupying central Cairo, the heart of the city has been transformed into an autonomous space.
“We will stay here in Tahrir Square until we succeed, even if it takes months. We will stay here on our own if we have to”
One of a group of young Tahrir occupiers, 06/02/2011
“I hope people know that just because we’re back to work it doesn’t mean we gave up! Our Tahririans are still out there & we got their back.”
Anonymous Tweeter, 06/02/2011
The message from the Egyptian government this morning is that life must return to normal. Yesterday an army commander, Hasan al Roweny told the Tahrir occupiers over a megaphone that (apparently) they had the right to ‘freedom of expression’ but that “we want people to go back to work and to get paid, and life to get back to normal”, “The people can stay in Tahrir, but not on the road”. The following morning the army had withdrawn many of its tanks from the streets around Tahrir Square, workers queued outside the boarded up banks, cafes and restaurants opened for the first time in days, and traffic flowed relatively freely – but the Tahrir occupiers were going nowhere.
‘Day of the Martyrs’
Today, Sunday, was described by the protestors as the ‘Day of the Martyrs’ and banners bearing the names of the over 300 people killed during the uprising were flying in the wind. An interfaith ceremony was held during the afternoon for the martyrs of the rebellion.
Rather than making people go away, the manipulative government tactics used to empty the area seemed to have had the opposite effect. People showed up in their tens of thousands to honour their dead and show Mubarak that they were not willing to give up their fight for freedom. Read more of this post
People have been protesting across the US since late January, both in support of the Egyptian uprising and against US support for the Mubarak regime. The demos have varied greatly, from the more statist or humanitarianly focussed, to people calling actively for an end to repression and the total overthrow of the regime.
Across the world people have taken to the streets in solidarity with, and inspired by, the Egyptian uprising.
Thousands of people have demonstrated in the West Bank city of Ramallah, waving Palestinian, Egyptian and Tunisian flags… And burning some American ones.
Having made several highly repressive attempts to ban Egypt solidarity demos (see HRW report), the PA ‘let’ this one go ahead, with both a uniformed police presence, and reports of plain-clothed infiltrators. The demonstrators stood not only in solidarity with the revolts in Egypt and Tunisia, but against repression in Palestine, both that of the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority; demanding “an end to the occupation, internal division, normalization, oppressive regimes, and to US and Western complicity in maintaining Israel’s colonial system and protecting despotic Arab regimes.” (Press Release, Ramallah Online )