Category Archives: The Egyptian Revolution

How did the situation in Egypt get to this point?

By Yousef K.B. 

On January 25th 2011 an unprecedented mass movement in the making for some time in Egypt, erupted in Tahrir Square. Within 18 memorable days this protest movement removed Hosni Mubarak, the long time dictator of Egypt from office. But it was not the people in Tahrir Square that replaced Mubarak. On February 11,2011 the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), aka the Egyptian military, took over the reign of power. The military attempted to demobilize the protests by threatening protestors of economic calamity if they didn’t go back to work, by breaking up strikes, beating protestors, and imprisoning a countless number – all while professing to be the “guardian of the nation.”

Mubarak was ousted from power and taken to court to symbolically show the end of an era, but the state that governed under Mubarak was still in place. It is doubtful that the Egyptian military wanted to rule Egypt publicly, because the Egyptian population would not have accepted that. But the military wanted to control the outcome of the political process to ensure its position both politically and economically remains intact. Continue reading

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Songs of Protest: A Collection of Songs Written About the Uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia

By Mohammad T.


Over the past couple of weeks, artists worldwide have composed and recorded songs in solidarity with protesters in Egypt. After listening to them all, I thought it might be nice to have a comprehensive list of them in one place. I find many of them quite moving, so I thought I’d throw them up here for those to listen. If you don’t have the time to listen to all of them, make sure to listen to the very first one – featuring a cross section of the protesters themselves.

If you’ve heard any other songs that I’ve missed here, please do comment on this post, and I’ll update it accordingly. Updates:

*First Update* I’ve included a song coming out of Tunisia by a Tunisian hip-hop artist, and a song by an Egyptian rapper.

*Second Update* Amidst the rubble of a fallen dictator, a new song has been recorded by a group of young Egyptians – with contributions by a host of those who were on the streets in Cairo – to celebrate the occasion.

*Third Update – 2/13/2011* Included seven more songs – one from Alexandria, one from famous singer/actor Mohamed Mounir, two more written by Egyptian artists, two by Tunisian artists (including one sung in the middle of protests), one by Sami Yusuf, and the last by Wycleaf Jean in tribute to the protesters. This list is getting to be mildly unwieldy, but semi-comprehensive. Keep them coming.

*Fourth Update – 2/14/2011* Added a new one by artists Mustafa Najjar and Mohamed Abbas.

Here they are:

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“Day of Departure”

By Yousef K.B.

As I write this, an uneasy and tense calm is being felt in Tahrir square and across Egypt.

At 1 pm across Egypt, the question that people will answer––whether they are in their mosques, churches, or neighborhoods––is do we march or not?

In Cairo, some plans (since there is not one organized entity leading the organization, plans seem to be contingent and dynamic) are calling for people from across the city to march towards the Presidential Palace in Heliopolis roughly at 1 pm after the end of Friday prayers.  Otherwise, people will again gather at Tahrir square.  What has been dubbed the “Friday of Departure” is the deadline that the protesters gave to President Hosni Mubarak to step down.

Let’s backup and recap what has happened in the past two days.

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Fall of the Pharaoh and the Million Masry March: Updates and Analysis on the Egyptian Revolt

By Yousef K.B.

This is a compilation of the news from the past two days and some analysis of how to make sense of the news.  I hope it is helpful.

Protests have only become larger and louder.  This came as a direct response to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s response on Friday, January 28th or the lack thereof, in which he remained in power and simply reshuffled his cabinet.  A day later he named a Vice President (unprecedented for his rule) and a new Prime Minister.  Later that day he ordered them to keep subsidies, reduce poverty, alleviate unemployment, and reduce inflation.  People were unfazed, having had 30 years of empty promises, and once again came out to the streets on Saturday.

On Saturday media outlets, especially American ones were transfixed on reports of looting, instead of the events on the ground and the real protagonists the people of Egypt. American media reports have attempted to connect the looting to prison breaks that have occurred, where prisoners have revolted in some cases, and in other cases people from outside of prisons have attacked the prisons to free detainees.  I don’t think the two are connected, and attempts to connect them by American and Egyptian state media serves to keep people afraid and portray an image of chaos rather than a revolt, of law-breakers rather than political activists.   Reports have come in and it is also widely believed among Egyptians that police, along with state backed paramilitaries and street gangs perpetrated the looting (please see my earlier post a fuller discussion of this).  Looting has since then dramatically decreased as people organized neighborhood committees, set up road-blocks and checked IDs.  The reported prison breaks have coincided with fires in some prisons and prison guards firing on prisoners.  There is an unconfirmed number of deaths and injured from amongst the prisoners.  It is important to remember that with the perpetual “emergency law” that has existed in Egypt since Mubarak’s time, the difference between “criminal” and political prisoner is murky at best.

On Saturday an hour before curfew was set to begin, helicopters and military fighter jets were seen flying very low above Cairo in an apparent show of force by the Egyptian state and military.  The crowds were undeterred.  So far Tahrir Square or Liberation Square in Cairo has been filled with people, and the military has not been able to deter people from gathering there.  Protests have also been seen in Suez, Alexandria, and other cities, with protests in smaller cities and neighborhoods unnoticed by us outside of Egypt as reporters are not there to cover them and the internet still down for people to get the message out effectively.

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The Demise of a Pharoah and the Threat of a Passive Revolution

By Yousef K.B.

In the last few days we have been witness to historic processes of popular struggle on the streets of Tunisia, and most recently in Egypt. I have been glued to TV, radio, and the internet, at time simultaneously which let me tell you is a bit too much.

I have been ecstatic, angry, and anxious all at the same time as I look on waiting for the next thing to happen.  I am excited and inspired by my sisters and brothers in Egypt as well as Tunisia, Jordan, and Yemen.

I have been trying to make sense of it all, and obviously am filled with more questions than answers.  What I decided to do was to try to put my thoughts on paper, and try to make sense of what is happening on the ground. This is simply an opinion among opinions.  In fact the people of Egypt and Tunisia have taught us all, especially academics that there is nothing inevitable about history, which is filled with forks in the road and the choice of choosing one path over another is a result of continued struggle and conflict amidst continuing social relations of domination.  I am humbly putting forward some thoughts to elicit responses from others so that collectively we are inspired and learn further lessons from events in the Mid East and North Africa to help us in our struggle, in what I think and what I hope is a transnational Intifada raging against capital.

What I have written is a quick run-down of what has happened in the past two days, some thoughts about how it could be read, a small conversations about some deeper issues that have coalesced such a wide-ranging grouping of people against Mubarak, some cautions or things to be weary of, and lastly some reasons to be optimistic, and of course inspired. Continue reading

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