Why the SCAF & Their Speech are Completely Ridiculous

On February 1st 2011, Mubarak gave his second speech, that annoyed the hell out of most Egyptians but somehow managed to touch the heart of some (He spoke of dying in Egypt, his service to Egypt and how much he loves this country, and let’s face it, we are highly emotional people who often show symptoms of the Stockholm Syndrome).

I was one of those people highly annoyed by the speech. In fact I was so annoyed, that as soon as I woke up to find the internet back on Febuary 2nd, I sat and wrote this blog post answering every point in his speech with facts about the ridiculous breaches of our rights that his regime and himself committed.  After that thugs that were hired by the regime attacked the protestors in Tahrir for a continuous 14 hours, leaving Egyptians at home and the entire world in immense shock at the brutality of Mubarak and his minions.

Here we are almost half a year later, Mubarak is gone, and his minions in uniform have taken over ruling the country. On Tuesday July 12th, Lieutenant Mohsen El Fangary, a member of the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces and the same man who saluted the martyrs of our revolution the night Mubarak stepped down, gave a statement harshly accusing protestors of causing chaos in the country. It  sounded all-too-familiar to me. In fact, so little has changed in the past months, that here I am, angrily getting ready to write yet another answer to a statement by the ruler of Egypt with facts to show them that we are not idiots and we will not be silenced anymore.

The Statement:

 

Whether you speak Arabic or not, you hear the sharpness, challenging and accusatory tone of his speech. Later in the day the SCAF had a press conference which they attempted to tone it down saying they will do their best to end the sit-ins through non-violent manners by engaging in a conversation with the protestors.

My replies to this statement

He claims that the SCAF stood by the revolution and supported the peoples’ demands from the start

To this I say: Bullshit. They stood by the regime, never the people. If they stood by the people they wouldn’t have given ammunition to the police in Tahrir Square on January 28th, they wouldn’t have stood by and let the thugs attack Tahrir on Feb 2nd and they would have taken a stance any time before the 18 days.  Sure, as soon as Mubarak stepped down they dissolved the forged Parliament and Shura Council and suspended the constitution, which were part of the original demands.

But then they only took some ex-regime members (5 to be exact) into custody and treated them like scape-goats while letting the Mubarak family along with his office manager, the head of parliament and the many ministers and MPs who were responsible for the killing of protesters, the torture and theft to be free to organise their assets and cover their asses. In fact they only started issuing the arrest warrants on these people in April, after several million man marches.

He says that SCAF will not give up their role in ruling the country in this phase of Egypt’s history. He claims that this is what the people wanted and approved according to the March referendum.

Well, actually, our dear SCAF, no one asked you to be the rulers of the country during the transitional phase. In fact, when Omar Suliman, the short-lived Egyptian vice president, announced in 30 seconds that Mubarak would be stepping down he also announced that Mubarak would be leaving the country in your charge. Therefore, you were appointed by your ex-leader Mubarak, not the Egyptian people. The revolution was asking for a civil transitional government, not a military one. Your role as Egypt’s rulers is not, and has never been constitutional. You may run one of the biggest armies in the Middle East, but people are not soldiers, and you were just never raised to engage in conversation or be open to input.

In regards to the referendum, that was only used to trick us into thinking we are in a democracy now. I only have one thing to say: The referendum was not democratic. I’m not questioning the outcome. But in a true democracy, when citizens vote for something they should know what they are voting for. You ran a completely non-transparent, unfair process, in which you gave almost no information on what would happen if we voted No. Thus, leaving political powers the night before still battling on what each think what each vote would lead to. You didn’t give enough time for people to engage in conversation and when the first Sectarian clash broke out before, people focused on that and not the coming referendum.  This left no time to question or understand the process. And actually assuming that the 72% who voted Yes were voting “Yes to the Army” is merely an assumption because the reasons behind the Yes vote were numerous: Some voted yes because of religion thanks to a (false) campaign to keep article 2 of the old constitution. Others voted Yes to make sure your stay in power would be as short lived as possible. While some were just voting Yes because we got used to that (Yes Mubarak!).

Fun Fact: Before the results came out SCAF didn’t even issue a statement explaining that the results of the referendum would lead to these articles being added to a constitutional declaration of 40 articles that are copied from Mubarak’s dismissed, toppled and dismantled constitution.

SCAF affirms the following: (I will answer these one by one)

1. Freedom of expression is in everyone’s rights withing legal boundaries

Legal boundaries for freedom? According to whose standards? Egyptian people have been suppressed for generations. We all have a voice now and we all wish to speak.  Only when we all let out what is in us that we will be able to form bodies to help us move forward with our development. Also, reality check, our revolution is far from over in both the political sense and the economic sense. Politically you have failed to reach many of the revolution’s demands such as: a) trying ex-regime officials (and Mubarak) for their crimes in a fast, fair and public manner. b) Starting a real restructing process of the security apparatus that the regime used to torture and silence people so they could stay in power c) Allowing people the freedom to protest without being beaten up, arrested, questioned and subjected to military trials and virginity testing.

As for the media, nothing has changed. Egyptian state TV and newspapers have become your voice to the people instead of Mubarak’s. There is still lies, false facts and propaganda from your side forced upon us. Not to mention calling in for questioning journalists and TV personalities for challenging your leadership.

Freedom of speech, yeah right.

2. SCAF is committed to its action plan of running the country during the transitional phase of having parliament, Shura council then a constitution & a president thus handing the country to an elected civil authority

Not nearly enough. That is a political action plan. But where is the social aspect of it? One of the main demands of the revolution was social justice. You, nor Essam Sharaf’s cabinet, have not taken any steps in ensuring that. Which is why the so called “side protests” have been going on by workers in factories, teachers, doctors, students…etc to try to achieve social justice and overthrow the workplace Mubaraks. People also demand a proper minimum wage, or at least an action plan that is timely to ensure that. Another failure from your side. What’s more, you have taken no steps (without pressure) to take the demands of the revolution that impact people’s lives and jobs.

3. Supporting the Prime Minister Essam Sharaf in his rights & responsibilities according to the constitutional declaration & the law

Supporting Esaam Sharaf or chaining & silencing him? I believe Carlos Latuff’s cartoon below speaks for itself.

SCAF's relationship with Egyptian PM Essam Sharaf

4. Working within legal frame works when dealing with criminals & with laws for the transitional phase

The word “Thug” has been used sporadically lately. Of course there is an increase in crime on Egypt’s streets. After all, you just more slyly have continued keeping police off the streets. You and the police force try to blame the Egyptian people & the revolution for the security problem (very clever, I’ll give you that). But actually, if the police force are not functioning, it is your responsibility as the rulers to bring security to the streets. If you take measures in restructuring the police force, changing its leadership, and training the officers there wouldn’t be issues between people and the police. You are using the absence in security to scare us into halting our revolution. But actually Mubarak used the same tactic and failed. I suggest you try and learn from his mistakes.

Also, when you start using this “Thug Law” (which is the same as Emergency Law which removing was an original demand) you are abusing it to take protesters into military custody. My friend Tarek Shalaby was one of those you decided to take in, and actually he has a one year suspended sentence for protesting and destroying public property (a false claim on your side with zero evidence to support it). Military trials of civilians are completely unacceptable. They are even more so when you use them against protesters. The same way you kept the curfew till June 15th to have an excuse when you attack protests (like you did on April 9th in Tahrir, see video below)

5. Continuing with the conversational & open policy with all political powers & the revolution’s youth to achieve the demands

I seem to recall political powers saying widely that you simply do not engage in open policy conversation with them. Except for the Muslim Brotherhood of course, but you guys have had an on-off relationship for decades. Most political powers are pissed off because you still have not given any real information about when and how Parliamentary elections will take place.

As for the revolution youth, I have a question, who the hell are these revolution youth you engage with? You started with talking to the Youth Coalition, then they realised this was leading no where so they stopped engaging with you and went back to the square. I remember the night after the CNN story about the virginity checks came out and you invited these “revolution youth” in your 60 & 61 statements on Facebook to come 48 hours later to have a discussion with you the current situation. Most of the established youth coalitions signed a statement refusing to meet with you because of the short notice, the box of revolution youth you put them in, the fact that it is a two hour meeting with 1,000 people so they knew it would be a lecture from your side. You still had the meeting with random youth you found somewhere while we had a protest outside against the virginity testing and military trials.

6. Drafting a document establishing the principles of the committee that will be in charge to draft the new Egyptian constitution (this will be added to the constitutional declaration after all political parties agree to it).

If we are drafting this document and it will be binding for the future parliament. Then why aren’t we just putting together the committee and drafting the constitution now? The idea behind having the constitution after the parliament is formed is so they can pick the committee. But if we are agreeing on the basis on which the committee will be chosen, then why not start the process now and have a solid constitution before we start electing any new bodies to represent us?

SCAF is aware of the dangers & the plan to harm the country:

1. Protests & strikes that are not peaceful that affect the citizens negatively & are stopping the wheel of production

2. Spreading rumors which lead to splits & destabalization

3. Prioritising private interests over public ones

The danger to the country and the revolution is no one but yourself. You have attacked peaceful protests. Do not pretend otherwise. Starting Feb 25th, March 9th, April 9th, May 15th and most recently your beloved left arm the police attacked protesters continuously on June 28th. Every single month this year. Not to mention that the protests that stop production are well deserved because workers are getting nothing. The government’s concession to make minimum wage at 700 LE (less than 100 Euros) is just ridiculous in comparison to the prices and inflation rates.

SCAF calls on honourable citizens to stand up to all things that stop normal life from returning to the country & stand up to the rumors. SCAF supported by the people will not allow anyone to jump onto power and will take measures to stand up to the threats that affect national security.

So SCAF is trying to turn the public against the people still protesting. What they don’t get, is that this revolution happened because “normal life” was horrible. People are in revolt now. Yes there are those who are still skeptical of the revolution, and those who believe we should aim for stability and economic reform at this stage. But there is certain consensus on the current demands. As for the rumors, Egyptian television Ch1 on Tuesday after your statement was accepting callers who were saying that the people in Tahrir were not the true revolutionaries, not the youth of the revolution and that they were planet there by Israel. These statements were said by Vice President of the Ghad Party El-Dessouki. As usual the presenter accepted this and did not question it. However, when someone was revealing the truth about Tahrir and about the virginity testing, they not only questioned their input but also the facts they shared.

A little History on the SCAF & Egyptian Army

In 1952, the army led by the Free Officers’ movement had a C’oup D’etat that overthrew the king of Egypt, which was supported by the Egyptian people. This movement was promising free and fair elections and a civil democratic state for Egypt in an attempt to rid Egypt of its corrupt king and elites.

However, that is not how the story went. According to Middle East Analyst Omar Ashour on BBC, in December 1952 Gamal AbdelNasser, one of the leaders of the movement and who later became president of Egypt, said in a meeting of army officers and Muslim Brotherhood leaders”If I held elections today, al-Nahas would win, not us. Then our achievement would be nothing,” He was referring to Mostafa El-Nahas, of the secular Wafd Party, the most popular in Egypt at the time. Nasser and the free-officers banned political parties, restricted freedom of expression and made sure even their allies, the Muslim Brotherhood, were banned from taking leadership of the country. They put forward Nasser as president in 1954, and later when he was followed by Sadat then Mubarak, it was all army men.

The NDP and the army are not so far from each other. In fact they are more allies than they like to show. If we say the NDP is the counter revolution then the army is the one facilitating its existence. That is why we have to continue what we started, and the SCAF will just have to make certain concessions to meet our demands.

So here I am, writing a very similar blog post to the one I wrote on Feburary 2nd while there has been a revolution and supposedly a “successful” one.

SCAF say they stand by the revolution, well this is their chance to prove it.

Labour Day Protests For Social Justice – مظاهرة عيد العمال للعدالة الإجتماعية

I got this through the Al Masry Al Hurr movement, and I think it’s essential we all take part of this process. Our    revolution has had a lot of success so far but we still need to call on the government to put minimum wage as a top priority and put an end to the anti-strike law

!Please share


عيد العمال 2011  –  معاً من أجل العدالة الاجتماعية

الساعة الواحدة ظهراً بميدان التحرير

Minimum Wage Protest 2010 - Photo by Hossam El-Hamalawy


في 25 يناير 2011 نجح الشعب المصري في القيام بثورته الشعبية الباسلة التي أطاحت بنظام مبارك وسياساته التي أفقرت الشعب المصري، وبددت العديد من ثرواته، وهمشت دور مصر الدولي والاقليمى.

وهاهو الشعب المصري يخوض معركته من أجل التحول الديمقراطي والاجتماعي، وفى الوقت الذي تتسابق فيه القوى الوطنية من أجل تنظيم نفسها في أحزاب ونقابات وجمعيات يأتي عيد العمال ليقرر شعب مصر وفى القلب منه العمال الاحتفال به في ميدان التحرير تأكيدا لثورته التي رفعت شعار:

( كرامة….حرية…عدالة اجتماعية).

 لقد تمكن الشعب المصري بعد الإطاحة بمبارك من الحصول على قدر كبير من حريته، ومازال يناضل من اجل استعادتها كاملة، ويخوض معركته أيضا من أجل الكرامة والعدالة الاجتماعية باعتبارهما مرتكزين رئيسيين للتحول الاجتماعي المنشود، وإذ تدعوا القوى الوطنية والعمالية الموقعة على هذا البيان كافة جموع الشعب المصري للاحتفال بعيد العمال بميدان التحرير بداية من الساعة الواحدة ظهر يوم 1 مايو 2011 فإنها تؤكد دعمها للمطالب العمالية والاجتماعية التالية:

–        إسقاط قانون تجريم الاضرابات.

–        إطلاق الحريات النقابية.

–        تنفيذ الاحكام القضائية بحل مجالس إدارات الاتحاد الرسمى ونقاباته.

–        وضع حدين أدنى وأقصى للأجور بما يكفل حياه كريمة للعمال والموظفين ويكفل تقريب الفروق بين الدخول.

–        تثبيت كافة العمالة المؤقتة.

–        تعديل قانون العمل 12 لسنة 2003 بما يضمن استقرار وأمان علاقات العمل والحد من سلطات صاحب العمل في شأن قرارات الفصل.

–        عزل رؤساء وأعضاء مجالس إدارات الشركات والهيئات التي بددت المال العام وسهلت الاستيلاء عليه.

–        إلغاء كافة القرارات التعسفية التي صدرت ضد القيادات العمالية التي كانت تناهض الفساد.

–        إقرار برامج رعاية صحية واجتماعية للعمالة غير المنتظمة والمتعطلين عن العمل.

–        إقرار معاش بطالة لكافة المتعطلين عن العمل.

–        رد الدولة لكافة أموال التأمينات التي اقترضتها ولم تقوم بإرجاعها دون وجه حق.

–        استقلال موازنة التأمينات عن الموازنة العامة للدولة.

–        وقف العمل بقانون التأمينات الاجتماعية الذي أقر في عهد مبارك.

–        إيقاف سياسة الخصخصة التي بددت ثروات الشعب المصري.

–        كفالة حقوق الشعب المصري في السكن والعمل والتعليم والعلاج.

–        إيقاف المحاكمات العسكرية للمدنيين.

–        محاكمة كافة المتورطين في جرائم تعذيب الشعب المصري.

–        إلغاء حالة الطوارىء.

–        إعادة تشغيل كافة المصانع المتوقفة عن العمل والتي هرب رجال أعمالها.

كما تؤكد كافة القوى على أن التحول الاجتماعي والسياسي المنشود لا يعنى تغيير الأشخاص بقدر ما يعنى تغيير السياسات لضمان حقوق الفقراء والمهمشين في العيش بكرامة وحرية.

الموقعون:

* الاتحاد المصرى للنقابات المستقلة.

* نقابة الضرائب العقارية المستقلة

* اللجنة النقابية مطار القاهرة
* نقابة النقل الجوي
* نقابة العاملين بمستشفى منشية البكري
*النقابة العامة للعلوم الصحية
* النقابة العامة لعمال هيئة النقل العام

* نقابة أصحاب المعاشات
* نقابة عمال مراكز المعلومات (تحت التأسيس)
*عمال غزل شبين.

*عمال غزل المحلة.

*عمال الحديد والصلب بحلوان.

* نقابة العاملين بصناعة الأفلام (أول نقابة فنية مستقلة)

* اللجنة المصرية لحماية حقوق العمل.

* حملة معاً من أجل استقلال الحريات النقابية.

* اللجنة التنسيقية للحقوق والحريات النقابية والعمالية.
* المركز المصري للحقوق الاقتصادية والاجتماعية.

*المبادرة المصرية للحقوق الشخصية.

* مؤسسة أولاد الأرض لحقوق الإنسان.
* مركز هشام مبارك للقانون.

* مركز النديم.
* جمعية النهوض بالمشاركة المجتمعية.

* مركز القاهرة لدراسات حقوق الإنسان.

* الشبكة العربية لمعلومات حقوق الإنسان.

* مؤسسة المرأة الجديدة.

* مؤسسة حرية الفكر والتعبير.

* الاشتراكيون الثوريون.
* حزب العمال الديمقراطي.
* تيار التجديد الاشتراكي.
* حزب التحالف الشعبي الاشتراكي.
* حزب الغد

* الحزب الشيوعي المصري.
* ائتلاف شباب الثورة
* الحزب المصري الديمقراطي الاجتماعي.

* الحزب الاشتراكي المصري (تحت التأسيس).

* الحركة الشعبية الديمقراطية (حشد).
* رابطة شباب الثورة التقدمي.
* اتحاد الشباب الديمقراطي.
* اتحاد شباب الثورة.
* حركة شباب من أجل العدالة والحرية.
* حركة ٦ ابريل.
* الجبهة القومية للعدالة والديمقراطية.
* حركة المصري الحر

* تحالف المنظمات النسوية
* اللجان الشعبية للدفاع عن الثورة

Egyptian army shows its true colours

Egyptian soldier in Tahrir early February

On January 25th, various Egyptians across different spectrums took the streets in peaceful protest demanding the removal of the regime, bread, freedom and human dignity. The 18 days of protests that inspired people around the world caused many changes, the most notable of them was the resignation of Mubarak. Egypt’s streets spent the night of his departure in endless celebrations since he handed over the country to the army. If you thought the revolution was over then, think again.

At midnight at the end of Feburary 25th, exactly one month since the revolution started, the Egyptian army cordoned then attacked people in Tahrir with sticks, electric shocks and by detaining people. Not to mention the thugs that were fighting the protesters. The army was chasing people down the street and beating them up, claiming that they were doing this because they were out after curfew.

Human rights activist Ramy Raoof, was there during the attacks and he streamed a few minutes live on bambuzer here.

Here is a collection of tweets from people there during the attacks:

2:30 am – Ramy Raoof tweeted: army soldiers are runing behind us and attacking. #Egypt #Jan25

2:55 am – Jano Charbel tweeted: Army forcefully dispersed protest outside parliament. Soldiers punched, kicked & slapped me. Then clubbed me w/ an electric prod in my face.

3:00 am – Gigi Ibrahim tweeted: Revolution phase 3 begun tonight, I heard the taser guns, witnessed the beatings and arrests carried BY THE ARMY.

And my personal favourite: Hosni Mubarak Everything that’s happening in #Libya is all part of the plan to divert your focus while i quietly return to power. #Egypt (Parody, obviously.)

A thought: Why were we still under curfew two weeks after Mubarak stepped down and the ongoing protest in Tahrir was dispersed? Is it maybe so the army can use it as an excuse for this violence? Or maybe to remind us exactly of who is in charge?

Egyptian media is acting exactly the same as in Mubarak days. Between midnight and 2 am no reports on the attacks. At 2:30 am they anounced that the Egyptian military told protesters at midnight they had half an hour to leave, whereas actually by 12:02 am they were attacking them. As for the Egyptian independent channels, ON TV tweeted: The army does not allow journalists and channels to enter the square.

At the end of the day we have to remember, the army  follows orders. Who’s orders? The Generals of the High Council of Armed Forces. Who was their leader 2 weeks ago? Mubarak. Let’s not forget that these people were a huge part of the regime and benefited greatly from it. That means that protests can’t stop now until we have a civil transitional government with the participation of the army in it. The revolution will continue, in the form of protests, strikes until we actually get people involved with the old regime out of powerful positions and replace them with people who actually want Egypt to develop into a democracy.

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In Egypt, “Every joke is a tiny revolution”

Egyptians have always been known for their sense of humor across the Arab world. From our movies to our witty theatre, to the new emerging stand up comedians, to the ongoing jokes that are circulated all over Egypt, we are known for managing to turn pretty much everything, including our revolution, into a witty joke.

Some could see jokes coming up during a time of crisis like the January 25th revolution as disrespectful, or even shallow, but actually humor is so stemmed in our culture as Egyptians, that we use it as a way to express our feelings, raise awareness, disseminate information and have a giggle on current events. Even if consciously this is not necessarily the objective when one comes up with a joke or shares it.

Walking through Tahrir Square, one can’t help but smile and even occasionally laugh out loud at the signs many Egyptians would make. It would be challenging to translate these jokes here, since most of them stem from our culture and sayings. I can tell you however, that the night Mubarak stepped down the first text message I got said “After the ‘Friday of Victory’ in Tunisia, and the ‘Friday of departure’ in Egypt, Gaddafi decided to cancel Fridays in Libya”. You get the gist I guess.

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Another joke that became quite popular was “The man behind Omar Suleiman” since when Mubarak stepped down, his newly appointed vice president was the one who delivered the news in a thirty second speech, and for some reason a man was standing behind him. Jokes related to this man was all Egyptians could talk about for a few days after that, most jokes relating to the current events. As an example, Egyptian state media, was very biased towards the government in its reporting. They were hardly reporting about the protests. On January 26ht, El Ahram Newspaper, the state newspaper had its main story of the struggles in Lebanon, and when discussing what happened on ‘National Police Day’ which was chosen as the day of protests because the Egyptian Police are famous for their corruption, brutality and torture of people they detain, showed a photo of kids giving flowers to Police and thanking them for their efforts. Egyptian TV was failing to deliver accurate information about the protests taking place all over the country, and was focusing on how there are theives and looters attacking businesses and houses, how former president Mubarak hired a new government and the initiatives they were taking and about how if the protests don’t stop we will hit economical crisis and live in danger and chaos. When the pro-Mubarak protests started, even though they were a few hundred people (and most of them paid or hired) state media was portraying it as if they were as many as the people demonstrating to bring down the regime. When the thugs were attacking protesters in Tahrir Square, Egyptian state media made it seem like there was a civil war going on to give the impression to the people watching from their homes that the country was breaking into a war and that only the government could save it. The state media has been criticised endlessly, and were even forced to change their agenda and start reporting on the protests happening. Till now most average Egyptians, even after Mubarak stepping down, are having a hard time trusting any media coming from the government. One of the jokes that came up about the man behind Omar Suleiman was “Egyptian TV denies that there is a man standing behind Omar Suleiman”.

Ever since the “Friday of Anger” which was on January 28th, when the Egyptian government shut down the internet and mobile phone lines, the Egyptians took the streets all over the country. As the protesters took the streets yelling they wanted the regime to be dissolved and saying over and over again that this was a peaceful protest, they were attacked with expired tear gas, illegal rubber bullets, and live ammunition. Hundreds died and thousands were wounded, some of them with deadly injuries up till now. At the end of this day, there was a presidential decree, that the Central Security Forces, the ones responsible for “calming down” protests to retreat and the Army to take the streets. That night the entire police force was off the streets for the next two days. This led to many lootings of businesses, burning of official buildings and police stations, and most famously the Egyptian museum. There is still a trust issue between the Police force and the public up till now, which the ministry of interior is trying to fix, but so far the public does not seem to be responding since they are not seeing many actions of prosecuting the people responsible for all this violence besides the ex-minister. Every friday after this one had a name, and there was an ongoing joke by the third Friday (the one Mubarak actually stepped down in) that it would be called “**** don’t you get it? Friday”.

Egyptians will continue to make jokes, and if anything this revolution sparked inspiration for political comedy that had been less mainstream in the past due to immense fear from the government. One of the many barriers that were broken when we took the streets on January 25th and changed our country and the world forever.

As George Orwell once said, “Every joke is a tiny revolution”.

 

* This post was published in Argentinian newspaper Reporte Global on Feburary 23rd 2011

* To illustrate on Egyptian sense of humor in the revolution here is a great report on BBC Arabic



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