Friday, December 23, 2011

Egypt Today: Violence, Confusion, Rumors

By Lama Tawakkol
Senior Reporter
CAIRO, Egypt - A month ago, Egypt witnessed what many termed “Revolution 2.0.” Violence had ensued near Tahrir Square between police officers and the protesters, as people returned to a sit-in calling on the Supreme Council for Armed Forces to transfer power to a civilian council until presidential elections are held.
The violence stopped eventually and SCAF remained in place, only changing the cabinet to be headed by Kamal El Ganzoury as prime minister.
This move ignited different reactions. As a former prime minister from ousted President Hosni Mubarak's reign, several were against Ganzoury’s appointment. They stated that despite what he might’ve achieved, he was still a man of the regime.
These were the people set against SCAF and persistently calling for the immediate return of the military to their barracks. They decided they would hold the sit-in in front of the cabinet building until SCAF responded to their demands.
Others were satisfied with Ganzoury’s appointment and believed that he should be given a chance. They especially believed that the country should calm down a bit in light of the ongoing parliamentary elections.
After a few weeks of relative calm and stability, with only a handful at the demonstrations, the entire country woke up last Friday to a confusing spectacle. Army officers were standing at the roof of the cabinet’s building, throwing stuff at the protesters, from ornaments and furniture items to whole sheets of glass and granite.
No one could really understand what was going on. As the day progressed, videos of soldiers making obscene hand gestures and others brutally beating up women and pulling them across the streets circulated.
Once again, the entire country was outraged – and confused. No one could really tell what had started it. Some people say the protesters had been playing soccer on the street and the ball had gotten into the building. When one of them went to retrieve it, he returned black and blue two hours later.
Another story goes that the protesters had been asking for IDs from cars, and an officer in a car had refused. They claim he acknowledged himself as the one who’d been kidnapping protesters the week before and aggressively beat up the person asking him.
No story is 100 percent confirmed. Regardless, however, the military’s reaction is clear enough on videos across the internet and in the deaths of a Sheikh and several others.
Their actions have provoked widespread anger as they continue to proclaim that the protesters were thugs and that there are “hidden hands” at play, trying to spread chaos. The people want to see these mysterious third parties and have them brought to justice.
The crowds are returning to Tahrir and what is now being called #OccupyCabinet on Twitter. A group of recently elected parliament members have publicly denounced the military’s actions and proposed methods for the immediate transition of power.
They want parliament to elect a president who would assume presidential powers until January, which is when they want to hold presidential elections.
On Tuesday, there was a women’s march and several student demonstrations from universities all over Cairo and Alexandria.
One can only ponder what grand finale this year will leave Egypt as 2011 comes to a close.
And with the first anniversary of January 25th coming up in a month and people already going crazy on Twitter with hashtags like #Jan25TWO and #Jan252012, it is impossible to predict what can happen and if a second revolution is indeed in the making.
There are already protests scheduled for today. Whether there is a turnout remains to be seen.
As Steve Jobs said, sometimes you can’t connect the dots looking backward, you can only connect them looking forward.

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