Posts Tagged ‘Egyptian protests’

‘…will make violent revolution inevitable’

August 23, 2013

President John F. Kennedy famously said in 1962: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” His words, if not his actions, were wise and inspiring, and I thought of them in connection with the Arab Spring and the Egyptian coup.

Thousands and thousands of Egyptians conducted peaceful—relatively peaceful—demonstrations in order to replace the dictatorship of President Mubarak with a democratically elected government.

The result has been set aside by the Egyptian military, which receives more than $1 billion a year from the U.S. government to buy military equipment which has been used mainly against Egypt’s own people.   In return the U.S. Air Force gets to use Egyptian air space and the Navy gets to use the Suez Canal.

If the U.S. government were genuinely interested in promoting democracy and helping the Egyptian people, and winning their good will, we would spend $1 billion a year to help Egypt pay down its external debt and to import food and the other necessities.

Instead we have empowered General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, the leader of the Egyptian military, to make peaceful revolution impossible and violent revolution inevitable.


Chaos in Egypt: Links & comments 8/16/13

August 16, 2013
Source: Yahoo News

Source: Yahoo News

Back during the Arab Spring protests, I was heartened by the mass protests in Egypt and the protesters’ apparent success in achieving a more democratic government.  Now an elected government has been overthrown by the military, and protesters are being massacred.

Egypt, like many majority Muslim countries, is torn between its military, which wants a secular, nationalist state, and popular movements which want a religious state.  As an American who believes in both religious toleration and democratic elections, I can’t really root for either side.  But my government, by providing more than $1 billion a year to the Egyptian military, is taking sides.

Here are links to articles that helped me to better understand what is going on in Egypt.

Egypt’s Army Has More People Than Miami and Answers to Noone by Olga Khazan in The Atlantic.

Egypt’s army has ruled the country since 1952, when it staged a coup against King Farouk, a monarch installed by the British years before.  Since then there have been more coups, but the military has remained in control.  Egypt’s top military officers are a wealthy elite.  The armed forces control private businesses that account for 10 to 30 percent of the Egyptian economy.

The U.S. gives Egypt $1.5 billion a year in aid.  Here’s what it does by Brad Plumer in the Washington Post.

Why the U.S. should cut off aid to Egypt: An interview with Marc Lynch in the Washington Post.

The United States gives more foreign aid to Egypt than to any other foreign country except Israel.   Only $250 million goes to education, public health and economic development.  All the rest goes to the military to buy tanks, fighter planes and other equipment.  While I would have thought this gives the U.S. government some influence over Egypt’s military, apparently it doesn’t.  Egypt’s military would rather lose U.S. aid than lose their power, especially when Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states might make up the shortfall.

‘Horrible’: Christian churches across Egypt stormed, torched by Sarah Sirgany and Laura Smith-Spark of CNN.

When a regime or a political movement has no real political program, it incites followers against scapegoats.   The Muslim Brotherhood has incited its followers against Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority, which is about 10 percent of the population.  Before the coming of Islam, Egypt was a Christian nation, so it is not as if the Copts are interlopers.

It is important to notice that not all of Egypt’s Muslims take part in these pogroms and some courageously stand by their Christian neighbors.

Hi, I’m Your New Axis of Evil by Pepe Escobar in Asia Times.

Pepe Escobar noted that a public opinion poll indicated that 69 percent of the Egyptian people oppose the coup, which is more than that 52 percent of voters who supported President Morsi in the Egyptian election.  He said President Morsi never got control of the Egyptian military, which he said has been plotting against him since he took office.

There is no good outcome on the horizon for the Egyptian people, Escobar wrote.  The country is descending into economic chaos, and neither the military nor the Muslim Brotherhood has a solution.  Escobar neither faction is hostile to the United States or to Egypt’s wealthy elite, but that the governments of Israel and Saudi Arabia, for different reasons, saw the Brotherhood as a potential threat.


Solidarity: Wisconsin mom, Egyptian student

February 24, 2011

This is by Katia Moanna, a Wisconsin mother of two:

Having come from an extremely poor background – I lived well below the poverty line the first 22 years of my life – I found my education, and choices based on that education, afforded me the ability to provide for my kids in ways I’d only dreamt of as a child. I gained in college what I lacked in childhood, a broad and open-minded perspective on the world at large – this opened new doors for me that would have previously gone completely unnoticed. Opening those doors gave me the opportunity to find a kind of financial security I never knew possible in my youth. We have a house, a car, insurance on both and food in the cupboard. This was not the case for me for most of my life. Raised by a single mother who suffered a severe back injury at 24 years old and lived on less than $400 a month, I never once had all of those at the same time growing up; we always had to choose. We go without a lot now – we are by no means rich – and given the assault on the middle class (of which I am now a part), I wonder if that will remain a thing I can claim; but for now our necessities are covered, something I didn’t know was possible before becoming educated and watching my hard work produce results in improving my living situation.

Wisconsin protests

Last week in Wisconsin I saw a threat to that minor gain. I began to see the careful work of constructing my American dream unravel. My schooling, hard work and careful planning began to be torn apart in front of me. I saw my children’s future threatened. How can they get a good education if there is no one left to teach them well? How can they get a job if none are there that will meet and, dare I say it, potentially exceed their needs? I saw this and many other actions like it around the USA and how they threatened to dismantle the middle class and stick me and my family under the line again. But what could I do? I was disabled. I was at home. I couldn’t go to Madison, a two hour drive, in the middle of winter and protest. Particularly not with two small children in tow. I was truly heartened and deeply grateful for those protesting these actions but I felt impotent in my isolation. As my friends in Wisconsin began to converge in Madison I fed my Facebook feed with instructions and news articles letting people know where to meet and telling my worldwide friends list what was happening here.

Egyptian student

And then it happened: A 21 year old Egyptian took photos of himself during a protest in Egypt with a sign that read “Egypt supports Wisconsin Workers – One world, One pain”. Having followed Egypt’s growing tide of activism and the extraordinary actions of the Egyptian people in bringing a dictator down, seeing this image was like a shot of adrenaline to the heart. I cried. I could not believe that this kid, putting his life quite literally on the line for his brothers and sisters in Egypt, was supporting MY family, MY friends and MY people in their plight against oppression. I immediately contacted him through Facebook and thanked him with my whole heart. He friended me and I saw as hundreds of others in Wisconsin added him and thanked him deeply for his simple act of solidarity. I watched as the Huffington Post ran his story; I read as he asked his FB friends what he should do now that CNN had contacted him. I felt proud to be a part of this raising global awareness of our very HUMAN struggle for the right to choose our path and support the health of the global village. It was amazing. Then something unexpected happened. He blogged about the media attention he was getting, his feelings on it and his desires regarding the use of his images. It was hastily put passionately written but, English not being his first language, and writing being my main form of communication (and really my truest passion) I saw where it could be improved. So I took a chance and posted a couple of suggestions. What happened next kind of amazed me. He asked ME to rewrite it for him. I was stunned, and overcome. I did NOT expect this! I spent about an hour researching copyright law as a refresher and gave him a way to express his requests in the best possible way I could find. I gave him the words to voice his heart to the world. His response brought me to tears. In his grateful reply he could not even continue in English and thanked me over and over in Arabic. I was beyond moved. The implications of these exchanges have had me weeping for joy and in love with the world wide community that is waking up and rising to the challenge. I am gobsmacked that a 34 year old disabled mom of two from Wisconsin could so directly connect with, and support, a 21 year old Egyptian in his fight for freedom for all peoples, half a world apart. This is amazing to me. It flies in the face of those that say we cannot organize, that we cannot make a difference, that as individuals we have no contribution to make. Lies. All lies. We can do these things. We are doing these things. We are working together toward raising our human family above tyranny in a real and deeply felt way.

Click on “Solidarity” for Katia Moanna’s complete statement.

Click on From Tahrir to Wisconsin for the Egyptian student’s response.