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Posts Tagged ‘Egyptians’

Nonviolent Revolution Clarified: Five Myths and Realities Behind Egypt’s Uprising

Posted by Admin on July 10, 2011

http://www.truth-out.org/nonviolent-revolution-clarified-five-myths-and-realities-behind-egypts-uprising/1310067482

by: Dr. Cynthia Boaz, Truthout | News Analysis
 

An Egyptian flag flies as thousands of protesters attend a mass demonstration in Tahrir Square, the focal point of the Egyptian uprising, in Cairo on July 8, 2011. (Photo: Moises Saman / The New York Times)

The fall of the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt has produced prolific analysis by media commentators across the spectrum. Some of this analysis has been excellent, but much of the conventional media interpretation of the why, how and what behind these events leaves much to be desired. There are a handful of misconceptions that have been parroted repeatedly in media coverage of the “Arab Spring.” These are important to recognize because the dynamics of how power is shifted matters enormously. In Gandhian language, means and ends are inseparable. That which is won through violence must be sustained through violence. That which is won through mass civil nonviolent action is more legitimate and more likely to be sustainable over the long term.

Additionally, how we understand and interpret the source of the power that emerged in Tunisia and Egypt last spring can go on to shape our long-term views about what is possible. If we consciously or unconsciously reinforce misconceptions or negative stereotypes about nonviolent action, we potentially undermine the morale of people engaged in ongoing struggles and, in the worst-case scenario, we can give credibility to the perspectives of the oppressors. What follows are the five most prevalent ways in which mainstream media has gotten the story wrong on the Egyptian uprising and the corresponding correction to each.

Misconception 1: It was spontaneous. Reality:  Although commentators still tend to talk about the Egyptian revolution as though no one could have predicted it, the key variable in the victory was planning. As we saw during the height of Mubarak‘s crackdown, the movement was able to keep the people of Egypt unified and, for the most part, nonviolently disciplined. Considering the lengths to which the regime went to try and provoke violence, it was quite remarkable how focused, creative and disciplined the activists remained. None of that would have been possible without several years of laying the groundwork. Egyptian activists worked for years to identify and neutralize the sources of power in the nation of 83 million. Their effort extended to making personal connections with the military forces and the commanders in particular. It’s a nuanced divide-and-conquer strategy. After building relationships with members of the regime’s pillars of support, the movement then helped them question the legitimacy of the ruler and the system they were upholding. When media analysts talk about an uprising like the one in Egypt as spontaneous, they are revealing their lack of understanding of the dynamics of nonviolent action and, simultaneously, are taking credit away from activists, who in many cases, have worked hard for years – often at great personal risk and sacrifice – to make this kind of victory possible. Regimes like Mubarak’s don’t fall when people just spontaneously show up in the city square. They only fall when movements are capable of exerting sustained pressure on them over a length of time. And that for that to happen, there must be unity, strategy, vision and, most importantly, planning, planning and more planning.

Misconception 2: It was a military coup. Reality: It was a people-power revolution. This misconception stems partly from the fact that, at the end of the day, much hinged on whose side the military took in the struggle. But instead of giving the people credit for winning the military to their side through effective campaigning and salient messaging, many media commentators erroneously regard the military’s defense of the people as a sign that it was they who were actually leading the uprising. But the loyalty demonstrated by the military to the people’s revolution should be interpreted as a sign of how well the movement did its job, not just of how powerful the military is in Egypt. The strategy was about unifying around a shared vision of Egyptian society. This misconception also is partly attributable to the fact that many of us cannot conceptualize power as taking any form other than a militaristic one. That perspective reflects adherence to outdated assumptions and frames about violence and power, namely the notion that those two concepts are interchangeable. Fortunately, the people of Egypt know better and they’ve given the rest of the world an example from which to build.

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Misconception 3: It was orchestrated by the United States, either by backroom deals or “training and support” of activists. Reality: This unfortunate misconception shows a gross lack of knowledge of how nonviolent action works. There is really only one condition essential for the success of nonviolent struggle and that without which a struggle can never succeed: it must be indigenous. To claim nonviolent protests of the scale we saw in Egypt last spring can be manufactured abroad is to grossly overestimate the influence of US agents and agencies. How could US agencies organize broad-based protests and manage to get hundreds of thousands of people to maintain nonviolent discipline while under violent assault from half a world away, while these same agencies were, for more than five decades, unable to remove octogenarian Fidel Castro from his perch only 90 miles from the US border and with a population eight times smaller than Egypt’s? To say that it was the United States that somehow orchestrated the events in Egypt is also to show contempt for what the people did, which is to take control of their own destiny. To question the Egyptian people’s authorship of their own struggle serves the interests of a brutal dictator and others like him, and it risks undermining global support for what was, both at its heart and its implementation, an indigenous people’s movement. This, by the way, is not to say that US agencies have taken no interest in or have made no attempts at influencing democracy struggles around the world. It is just to argue that, in the case of Egypt and other successful people-power revolutions, that offer of help was declined.

Misconception 4It was an Islamist uprising. Reality: Not only is this incorrect, but it flies directly in the face of claims made by the same analysts who say they’re interested in promoting genuine democracy. There were Muslims in the movement, yes. But there were also Christians, Jews, atheists, and many others. In order to test the credibility of this assertion, it is important to look at the proclaimed objectives of the movement: it was about more rights, more freedoms and more democracy. Contrast those objectives to the common stereotypes about Islam held in the West: that it is undemocratic, violent and oppressive. There is no way to reconcile those two things. Either Western analysts must concede that the Egyptian revolution was not Islamist or they must concede that Islam is not a violent, undemocratic religion. The ideal course of action would be to concede the former completely and the latter mostly. But short of that, it must be one or the other. A related argument is that we should be wary about the Egyptian victory because it will create space for the Muslim Brotherhood to assert more control in that society. There are several things to note about this claim, however: first, it has never been an acceptable argument against democracy to say that it should be limited because of the outcomes it might produce. Secondly, those who make this assertion might do well to ask themselves if they would accept Egyptians picking their leaders for them. If the answer is no, then they owe the same courtesy to the Egyptian people. And lastly, the Muslim Brotherhood (a group which itself is widely misunderstood in that it formally renounced violence as a means of change of decades ago) seems to have begun evolving along with the Egyptian people. As of last week, it formed a coalition with one of Egypt’s most liberal political parties in an attempt to broaden – and moderate – its base.

Misconception 5: It wasn’t nonviolent. Reality: It is unrealistic to imagine that a revolution of this scale and with a target as brutal as this regime can be totally nonviolent. But there is a distinction between saying there were a few violent outbursts by undisciplined individuals and that there was violence by the movement. This movement itself was strictly nonviolent and that is what is most relevant. In a country as large as Egypt, it is impossible to train every person individually in nonviolent strategy. And so, not understanding the necessity of nonviolent discipline, there were some incidents of rock throwing, clashes with police, vandalism and a few outbursts of individual rage. There was a militant flank in many historical nonviolent struggles – South Africa, Chile and the US civil rights movement, to name a few. In each case, as in Egypt, the presence of that contingent undoubtedly made the work of the movement both more difficult and more essential. Because of the potential for possible outbursts, the movement had to: a) distinguish itself from undisciplined radicals, b) make it clear that no violence would be tolerated and c) train new activists on the ground. Consider the lengths to which the regime went to provoke violence by the people in order to create the perceptions that what the movement was doing was not nonviolent and, therefore, not legitimate. It was critical that the movement girded against vulnerability to these kind of agents provocateurs and they did that extraordinarily well, especially considering the movement’s enormous size. At the end of the day, the Egyptian uprising was one of history’s most significant nonviolent struggles and that is how history will remember it.

It is important that events like the ones in Egypt are conveyed as accurately as possible by media for many reasons, but one of the most significant is that the victory of mass nonviolent action in Egypt has implications for terrorist organizations and the perceived efficacy of terrorism itself. As nonviolent methods to push grievances succeed, they de-legitimize violence as a means of promoting change. Nonviolent action offers a realistic alternative to both violence and the status quo and it is, simultaneously, a very powerful form of struggle. If we consider that terrorist organizations and members of movements tend to share the same recruitment bases – disaffected people demanding significant change – then the victory in Egypt has likely done serious damage to the PR campaigns of terrorist networks. Because of that, the people of Egypt should not only be lauded for taking back their freedom through almost entirely democratic means, but for making the world a little bit safer for everyone.

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DR. CYNTHIA BOAZ

Dr. Cynthia Boaz is assistant professor of political science at Sonoma State University, where her areas of expertise include quality of democracy, nonviolent struggle, civil resistance and political communication and media. She is also an affiliated scholar at the UNESCO Chair of Philosophy for Peace International Master in Peace, Conflict, and Development Studies at Universitat Jaume I in Castellon, Spain. Additionally, she is an analyst and consultant on nonviolent action, with special emphasis on the Iran and Burma cases. She is vice president of the Metta Center for Nonviolence and on the board of Project Censored and the Media Freedom Foundation. Dr. Boaz is also a contributing writer and adviser to Truthout.org and associate editor of Peace and Change Journal.

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Egypt crisis: President Hosni Mubarak resigns as leader

Posted by Admin on February 14, 2011

Hosni Mubarak - World Economic Forum Annual Me...

People power

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12433045

12 February 2011 Last updated at 05:12 GMT

Vice-President Omar Suleiman made the announcement on state television

Hosni Mubarak has stepped down as president of Egypt, after weeks of protest in Cairo and other cities.

The news was greeted with a huge outburst of joy and celebration by thousands in Cairo’s Tahrir Square – the heart of the demonstrations.

Mr Mubarak ruled for 30 years, suppressing dissent and protest, and jailing opponents.

US President Barack Obama said that Egypt must now move to civilian and democratic rule.

This was not the end but the beginning and there were difficult days ahead, the US president added, but he was confident the people could find the answers.

“The people of Egypt have spoken, their voices have been heard,” Mr Obama said. “Egypt will never be the same again.”

“They have made it clear that nothing less than genuine democracy will carry the day.”

‘God help everybody’

Continue reading the main story 

President Hosni Mubarak

Hosni Mubarak
  • Elevated from vice-president when Anwar Sadat was assassinated in 1981
  • Supported Sadat’s policy of peace with Israel
  • Maintained emergency law for entire presidency
  • Won three elections unopposed
  • Fourth term secured in 2005 after allowing rivals to stand
  • Economic development led many Egyptians to accept continued rule
  • Survived 1995 assassination attempt in Ethiopia
  • Faced Islamist threat within Egypt, including Luxor massacre of 1997 and Sinai bombings
  • Regularly suppressed dissent, protests and political opponents

Announcing Mr Mubarak’s resignation, Vice-President Omar Suleiman said the president had handed power to the army.

Mr Suleiman said on state TV that the high command of the armed forces had taken over.

“In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate, citizens, during these very difficult circumstances Egypt is going through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down from the office of president of the republic and has charged the high council of the armed forces to administer the affairs of the country,” he said.

“May God help everybody.”

Later an army officer read out a statement paying tribute to Mr Mubarak for “what he has given” to Egypt but acknowledging popular power.

“There is no legitimacy other than that of the people,” the statement said.

The military high command is headed by Defence Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

US diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks described Field Marshal Tantawi as “aged and change-resistant”, but committed to avoiding another war with Israel.

Mr Mubarak has already left Cairo and is in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh where he has a residence, officials say.

In Cairo, thousands of people gathered outside the presidential palace, in Tahrir Square and at state TV.

They came out in anger following an address by Mr Mubarak on Thursday. He had been expected to announce his resignation but stopped short of stepping down, instead transferring most powers to Mr Suleiman.

Cairo's Tahrir SquarePlease turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play. 

 

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Protester: ‘I’ll tell my children we made this revolution possible’

“The people have brought down the regime,” they chanted in reaction to the news of his eventual resignation less than 24 hours later.

Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei said: “This is the greatest day of my life.”

“You cannot comprehend the amount of joy and happiness of every Egyptian at the restoration of our humanity and our freedom.”

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s banned Islamist opposition movement, paid tribute to the army for keeping its promises.

“I salute the Egyptian people and the martyrs. This is the day of victory for the Egyptian people. The main goal of the revolution has been achieved,” said the Brotherhood’s former parliamentary leader, Mohamed el-Katatni.

Continue reading the main story 

At the scene

Yolande Knell BBC News, Cairo 


It is hard to know where to look as you walk through central Cairo. Everyone in this mega-city has spilled out onto the streets to party.

Soldiers lift small, smiling children onto their tanks to pose for photos, whole families are flying flags and wearing matching hats in red, white and black as they walk along the Corniche by the Nile, and motorcyclists precariously weave their way through the crowds yelling “Egypt, Egypt”.

The excited din from Tahrir Square, the scene of the massive protests against President Mubarak that began on 25 January, can be heard from miles off. It is packed with huge crowds.

The demonstrators’ barricades that had controlled entry to the square have been dismantled, and security checkpoints at which people showed identification and had their bags searched have all gone.

Some people are already packing up their tents in the campsite nearby. They have achieved what they set out to do.

Ayman Nour, Mr Mubarak’s rival for the presidency in 2005, described it as the greatest day in Egypt’s history.

“This nation has been born again. These people have been born again, and this is a new Egypt,” he told al-Jazeera TV.

Meanwhile Amr Moussa, a former Egyptian foreign minister, announced that he would leave his post as secretary general of the Arab League “within weeks”, the Egyptian news agency Mena reported. He hinted that he might stand for president.

The BBC’s Jon Leyne in Cairo said the announcement caught everyone by surprise: all over the city, drivers honked their horns and people fired guns into the air.

But the army takeover looks very much like a military coup, our correspondent adds.

The constitution has been breached, he says, because officially it should be the speaker of parliament who takes over, not the army leadership.

‘Historic change’

There was jubilation throughout the Middle East and North Africa, including in Tunisia, where people overthrew their own president last month.

A military spokesman on state TV Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play. 

 

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A military spokesman on state TV ‘salutes’ Hosni Mubarak’s service

For the Arab League, Mr Moussa said events in Egypt presented an opportunity to build a national consensus.

Meanwhile, Iran described the recent events as a “great victory”.

A senior Israeli official expressed the hope that Mr Mubarak’s departure would “bring no change to its peaceful relations with Cairo”.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he respected the “difficult decision” taken in the people’s interests, and called for an “orderly and peaceful transition”.

European Union leaders reacted positively to the news of Mr Mubarak’s resignation.

Foreign policy chief Baroness Ashton said the EU “respected” the decision.

“It is important now that the dialogue is accelerated leading to a broad-based government which will respect the aspirations of, and deliver stability for, the Egyptian people,” she said.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said this was a “really precious moment of opportunity to have a government that can bring the people together”, and called for a “move to civilian and democratic rule”.

Continue reading the main story 

Mohamed Hussein Tantawi

  • Head of higher council of Egyptian armed forces
  • Minister of defence since 1991
  • Commander-in-chief armed forces since 1991
  • Appointed deputy prime minister 31 Jan 2011
  • Born 31 Oct 1935

German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the “historic change” in Egypt.

US Vice-President Joe Biden said Egypt had reached a pivotal moment in history.

The anti-government protests that began on 25 January were triggered by widespread unrest in Egypt over unemployment, poverty and corruption.

They followed a popular uprising in Tunisia which brought about the downfall of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

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Obama cautions Mubarak not to use force against protesters

Posted by Admin on January 29, 2011

Official photograph of Egyptian President Hosn...

Egypt President - Hosni Mubarak

http://in.news.yahoo.com/obama-cautions-mubarak-not-force-against-protesters-20110128-222340-713.html

By ANI | ANI – Sat, Jan 29 11:53 AM IST

Washington, Jan.29 (ANI): US President Barack Obama has put his embattled Egyptian counterpart leader, Hosni Mubarak, on notice that he should not use his soldiers and police in a bloody crackdown on opposition protesters.

Addressing the nation from the White House, Obama said that he had spoken with Mubarak and had told him “to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters” and to turn a “moment of volatility” into a “moment of promise.”

Declaring that the protesters have universal rights, the New York Times quoted Obama, as saying that the “The United States will continue to stand up for the rights of the Egyptian people.”

Obama’s brief remarks came as a blunt reply to Mubarak, who spoke to his own people just one hour before and mixed conciliation with defiance as he dismissed his government, but vowed to stay in office to stabilize Egypt.

The Obama administration has moved from tentative support to distancing itself from Mubarak, its staunchest Arab ally, saying it would review the 1.5 billion dollar in American aid and warning him that he must confront the grievances of his people.

Obama said that Mubarak’s promise of expanding democracy and economic opportunity needed to be enforced with meaning and responsibility.

He called on Mubarak to open a dialogue with the demonstrators, though he did not go as far as to urge free and fair elections.

Illustrating the delicate balance that the administration faces with Egypt, Obama referred to the joint projects of the two countries. He also urged the demonstrators to “express themselves peacefully.”

Egypt is the fourth-largest recipient of American foreign aid, after Afghanistan, Pakistan and Israel, and just ahead of Iraq.

It is also a critical partner on issues like the Israel-Palestinian peace process and a bulwark against Islamic extremism in the Arab world. (ANI)

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