Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Sand of the Dessert is Sodden Red

Sand Monkey, the noted Egyptian blogger, has, like many of his fellow Egyptian citizens in their battle for freedom, been protesting in Tahrir Square. When he tried to go back to the square yesterday with desperately needed supplies of food and bottled water, he was arrested by state security, beaten, his supplies confiscated and his car wrecked. Latest reports indicate he has been released. Hundreds of such incidents have taken place in Egypt over the past few days; in Cairo,in Alexandria and many other cities.

The people of Egypt have finally taken to the streets, no more willing to endure Mubaraks harsh dictatorship, and inspired by a succesful revolt in Tunisia. The Egyptian authorities tolerated it at first, in the hope that it would fizzle out, but as it grew, they quickly found themselves having to hand out tepid concessions to calm the anger. Mubarak appointed a Vice-President, something he has not done in 30 years of authoritarian rule. But his choice was a former head of Egypts General Intelligence Services, where his duties included charge of Egypts 'political security files'. Hardly the face of change.

Still, the protestors persisted and on Wednesday, hundreds of thousands gathered demanding Mubaraks resignation. And a sinister new tactic was tried. Well, not really new, tyrants everywhere have it in their bag of tricks. 'Pro-Mubarak' supporters gathered and in a violent attempt at intimidation, fired automatic weapons, threw stones and molotov cocktails and finally charged the Tahrir Square protestors. Hundreds were injured and many died. Some 'pro-Mubarak' supporters were captured and found to be carrying police IDs. No surprise there.
Journalists faced a concerted attack, clearly in an attempt to silence them.
The incident provoked outrage and codemnation across the globe.
And all throughout, the protestors in Tahrir Square, like the Spartans at Thermopylae, held their ground.

The new Prime Minister, Ahmad Shafiq, gave a press conference, where he apologised and promised to take action on those who had organized the attacks. Apparently, he was 'not aware' and did not know 'who the culprits were'. He also offered to dialogue with anybody and everybody. It all smacked of delaying tactics. Journalists were surrounded by glowering security agents, looking uncomfortable in their media-friendly business suits. Some questions were not answered by the Prime Minister, as he found them 'offensive'.

Mubarak, meanwhile, gave an interview to ABC, in which he petulantly claimed to be fed up of being President. He seemed content enough, for 30 long years. He would go, he said, but without him there would be 'chaos'. In other words, he would not go.

It is Friday now, and the protestors are planning a huge gathering in Tahrir Square and rallies across Egypt.

We can only hope that as Mubarak's regime gasps out its death rattle, no harm comes to the brave people of Egypt.

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