Closing the week 6 – Featuring the Egypt Revolution
Most popular on Closer last week
- Two Faces of Revolution by Linda Herrera
- ‘Now its gonna be a lone one’ – Some first conclusions on the Egyptian Revolution by Samuli Schielke
- ‘Verandering komt eraan’ – De Arabische revolte in Jordanië door Egbert Harmsen
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(More) Essential Reading
The road to Tahrir by Charles Hirschkind – The Immanent Frame
These online activists have played a key role in transforming the conditions of political possibility in Egypt during the last decade, and of paving the way to Tahrir Square today. They have sought out and cultivated new forms of political agency in the face of the predations and repressive actions of the Egyptian state. They have pioneered forms of political critique and interaction that can mediate and encompass the heterogeneity of religious and social commitments that constitute Egypt’s contemporary political terrain. From the latest news reports, it is clear that many of them are now being arrested and beaten for their efforts. The regime has again shown itself implacable in its disregard for the people of Egypt.
In this incipient post-Islamist middle east, the prevailing popular movements assume a post-national, post-ideological, civil, and democratic character. Iran’s green movement, the Tunisian revolution, and the Egyptian uprising represent the popular movements of these post-Islamist times. They strive to achieve social justice, dignity, and a form of democratic governance that can protect citizens’ fundamental rights.
This new relation between bloggers and other media forms has now become standard: not only do many of the opposition newspapers rely on bloggers for their stories; news stories that journalists can’t print themselves without facing state persecution—for example, on issues relating to the question of Mubarak’s successor—such stories are first fed to bloggers by investigative reporters; once they are reported online, then journalists then proceed to publish the stories in newsprint, citing the blogs as source, this way avoiding the accusation that they themselves invented the story. Moreover, many young people have taken up the practice of using cell-phone cameras in the street, and bloggers are constantly receiving phone film-footage from anonymous sources that they then put on their blogs.
This event played a key role in shaping the place that the blogosphere would come to occupy within Egypt’s media sphere. Namely, bloggers understand their role as that of providing a direct link to what they call “the street,” conceived primarily as a space of state repression and political violence, but also as one of political action and popular resistance. They render visible and publicly speakable a political practice—the violent subjugation of the Egyptian people by its authoritarian regime—that other media outlets cannot easily disclose, due to censorship, practices of harassment, and arrest. This includes not only acts police brutality and torture, but also the more mundane and routine forms of violence that shape the texture of everyday life.
The revolution has triumphed, but even as we celebrate, we need to begin at once with the most amazing job history has thrown our way, the building of an Egyptian democracy
What is happening in Egypt is not a Facebook Revolution. But it could not have come about without the Facebook generation, generation 2.0, who are taking, and with their fellow citizens, making history.
Often ignored in U.S. discussions on Egypt is how protests led by labor unions—many women-based labor unions in the manufacturing cities of Egypt—have catalyzed the Egyptian revolution (Paul Amar, 02-05-11).[ii] The women now holding down Tahrir Square as we speak—are of all ages and social groups and their struggle cannot be explained through Orientalist tropes that reduce Arab women to passive victims of culture or religion or Islam. They are active participants in a grassroots people-based struggle against poverty and state corruption, rigged elections, repression, torture, and police brutality. They are leading marches; attending the wounded, and participating in identity checks of state supported thugs. They have helped create human shields to protect Egyptian Antiquities Museum, the Arab League Headquarters, and one another. They have helped organize neighborhood watch groups and committees nationwide in order to protect private and public property. They are fighting against dictatorship among millions of people-not guided by any one sect or political party—united under one slogan: we want and end to this regime.
The RCD’s headquarters in Algiers was has already been surrounded by police after three hundred people reportedly congregated there to demonstrate their satisfaction with the fall of Mubarak. What kind of affect early obstruction might have will depend on how many people turn out in force to begin with: the masses of police on the streets may have a serious psychological impact on smaller demonstrators and if the demonstrations are as easily dispersed as on 22 January its unlikely that much else will follow. And while many Algerians are thoroughly dissatisfied with Bouteflika, most understand the real political challenge is the whole system, the politicized military leadership, the economic oligarchs, the not mere personalities. Many Algerians have been impressed by the fall of Mubarak, though. Buses of people are heading to Algiers from the surrounding cities and provinces, blocked by the police. By cutting out those seeking to protest peacefully (and with a limited popular appeal) the regime is increasing the likelihood of spontaneous, violent demonstrations which may indeed be to the government’s advantage. While the opposition is weak and without strong popular credentials (not wholly committed to the 12 February movement) there is more potential for something much bigger than previously anticipated as a result of recent events and the anxiety they may cause in the security services and the government at large. Mubarak’s fall has raised the stakes for Algeria’s 12 February march. But his fall does not necessarily make Bouteflika’s imminent. More to come.
The military and civilian elite learned the “lesson of April 2001,” when youths in Kabylia, and then the rest of the country, rose up and were brutally suppressed: higher levels of violence increase resentment and anger thereby making resistance more powerful. The Algerian response to the winter uprising netted far few deaths than those in Tunisia and Egypt where the deaths of demonstrators became galvanizing moments in struggles against local regimes. The Algerians were able to weather the uprisings without the kind of firm anti-government movement faed by their neighbors. Over the last ten years the Algerians have also grown adept at coopting ideological demands from popular and party forces: it met demands to give Berber a more exalted place within the state, recognizing it as a national language and including references to Berber identity in the constitution; it has included Islamists in the ruling coalition (the MSP) and adopted some of their recommendations in family law and education. But it has not taken on the social and economic contradictions that animate most social and political dissatisfaction among the population.
But the revolution in Egypt is not over: in fact, it has only begun. Mubarak’s removal from power was only the first objective of Egypt’s demonstrators. It was not just Mubarak but the regime that they want to dislodge, and to replace with a democratic government based on the rule of law. One of the pillars of the regime is the institution that is now improbably cast as the national saviour: the army. The army is respected, even admired by most Egyptians for its role in defending the country’s borders, and for its success in the 1973 war. It has always kept – officially – a discreet distance from the day-to-day running of the country, but it has also acquired a deep investment in the status quo, particularly in the country’s economy: the army is involved in the production of everything from washing machines and heaters to clothing and pharmaceuticals, and is estimated to own about a third of the country’s assets. Nor does it have much incentive to make any changes in foreign policy that might affect the terms of US aid: $1.3 billion per year.
Hossam el-Hamalawy, an Egyptian journalist from Cairo, uses photographs to tell the inside story of protests on the streets of his city
The fall of Multiculturalism…again
Cameron Criticizes ‘Multiculturalism’ in Britain – NYTimes.com
LONDON — Faced with growing alarm about Islamic militants who have made Britain one of Europe’s most active bases for terrorist plots, Prime Minister David Cameron has mounted an attack on the country’s decades-old policy of “multiculturalism,” saying it has encouraged “segregated communities” where Islamic extremism can thrive.
Notices of the death of multiculturalism began in Britain as far back as 1989, with the Salman Rushdie/Satanic Verses affair. It became clear that the minority-majority faultline was not going to be simply about colour racism, and that the definition of multiculturalism could not be confined to “steelbands, saris and samosas”. For some liberals that meant an end to their support for the concept, as angry Muslims muscled in on something that was intended only for the likes of gay people or black youth. Their protests were supported as “right on”, but a passionate religious identity was too multicultural for many.
David Cameron’s speech last week was primarily focused on counter-terrorism, even if excerpts released to the media highlighted the ‘death of state multiculturalism’.
This is a problem in itself because, by conflating counter-terrorism and integration, Cameron weakens internal security and makes all of us more vulnerable to terrorism. This isn’t limited to the Conservatives either; many others who define themselves as ‘muscular liberals’ make the same mistake.
Muslim groups, anti-racism campaigners and opposition politicians also questioned the timing of the high-profile speech, just hours before around 3,000 members of the far-right English Defence League (EDL) marched through Luton.
David Cameron’s analysis is flawed; it’s individualism and globalisation that are undermining a strong national identity
LONDON—U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron triggered a debate about multiculturalism in Britain over the weekend after arguing in a speech on terrorism for a “muscular liberalism” that confronts extremist Islam by forging a tighter national identity in multiethnic countries such as Britain.
French leader: We’ve been too concerned about identity of new arrivals, not enough about identity of country receiving them
Dutch populist Wilders returns to court for allegedly inciting race hate | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 07.02.2011
Nationalist politician Geert Wilders has claimed that he is being persecuted for his political views. The Dutch populist, who likens Islam to fascism, is charged with inciting hatred towards Muslims and others.
When the legitimacy of theocracy started to unravel amid the regime’s corruption and brutality in the late 1980s, democratic ideas, including powerful democratic interpretations of the Islamic faith, roared forth. The explosion on the streets after the fraudulent presidential elections of June 2009 was just the most visible eruption of the enormous democratic pressures that had built up underneath the republic’s autocracy. More regime-threatening moments are surely coming.
Hogeschool Windesheim vond het gênant dat moslimstudenten zich voor het bidden moesten reinigen in het invalidentoilet. De school richtte een kleine wasruimte in. Reden voor de PVV om Kamervragen te stellen.
Na 9/11 in New York is de kloof tussen moslims en niet-moslims groter geworden. Na 7/7 in London gold dit ook sterk voor de Britse moslims en niet-moslims. Of toch niet? In London werd hier een onderzoek naar gedaan door The Gallup Organization. Het resultaat (verrassend voor sommigen): de kloof is veel minder groot dan we zelf denken.
Toch roepen de elkaar netjes overlappende dichotomieën die Almog aanwijst (de islamitische wereld vs. het Westen // tirannie vs. democratie // vrouwelijk vs. mannelijk) mijn argwaan op. Kan de werkelijkheid werkelijk teruggebracht worden tot zwart tegenover wit? En speelt er bij Almog niet een ideologisch belang mee; namelijk de Westerlingen overtuigen dat de kant van Israël moeten blijven kiezen, ook al gedraagt dit land zich als een koloniale onderdrukker?
Mensen die doneren aan moskeeën lopen vaak hun belastingvoordeel mis, omdat partijbesturen van de gebedshuizen zich zelden laten registreren. Giften aan gebedshuizen zijn sinds 2008 niet meer automatisch fiscaal aftrekbaar.
Seksuele politiek (identiteitspolitiek gericht op emancipatie van minderheden als vrouwen en homo’s) was jaren het toonbeeld van progressiviteit. Het opkomen voor de rechten van seksuele minderheden ging toen gepaard met gevoeligheid voor het lot van andere minderheden, die op basis van bijvoorbeeld hun afkomst niet tot de mainstream behoorden. Seksuele politiek is nog steeds het toonbeeld van modern zijn, maar seksuele politiek wordt nu ingezet om een tegenstelling aan te geven tussen wij, het seksueel bevrijde Westen, en zij, de seksueel achterlijke Moslims. Een sexual clash of civilizations. Dit levert een duivels dilemma op voor de wetenschappers aanwezig op de conferentie. Zij hebben het gevoel dat ze moeten kiezen tussen vrouwen (en homo’s, lesbiennes en transgenders) of moslims.