thoughts on the latest round of protests and state violence in Egypt

There are a lot of things one could (and perhaps should) say about what’s been going down in Egypt in the past few days, but the thing that most impacted me most was seeing the level of violence directed at protesters. It is truly unconscionable. On Monday a girl I know from the contemporary dance/theater scene, Nada al-Zatouna, was arrested in Tahrir. As I understand it, they were just grabbing random people out of the crowd. A number of her friends actually think she might be the women in the purple in this video around second 25, which shows security forces in police and military uniforms brutally beating protesters:

Nada was released Monday afternoon, thank God, along with a number of other activists, but according to another friend of hers on Twitter, they used electric shocks on her. At least 35 people have been killed, thousands injured. According to friends and bloggers, some protesters started writing their parents phone numbers on their bodies before going down. I read about one activist, Ahmed Harara, who lost his left eye in January and lost his right Nov. 19th. They deliberately aim for the eyes, someone actually caught security forces on video congratulating
one another on getting that one right in the eyes.

We also have seen the respect with which they treated the bodies of those they murdered: they dragged them into a pile of trash:
Video showing an officer dragging a corpse:

By the afternoon they had a whole pile:

8 unmoving bodies in tahrir, pic i took 3 hours ago, just got... on Twitpic

One of the men in that now famous photo is my classmate Yamila’s friend Shehab. She’s written a post about it on her blog… I can’t even begin to imagine.

Incredibly, despite the massive, massive numbers in Tahrir Tuesday night (and in squares all over the country), the SCAF in their statement claimed that no security forces shot at protesters. If anyone wants any proof, this video shows quite clearly that they are lying:

I have heard that some of the right wing talking heads and politicians in the U.S. have been claiming that this is all some big Muslim Brotherhood/Islamist riot, and I have to say they are either incredibly uninformed or bald-face liars. The Islamist political forces are against the protests (though somewhat critical of the crackdown) and claim it is a conspiracy to delay the elections, which of course they anticipate being good for them, so the last thing they want is for elections to be postponed. Hardly any have showed up to protest, and on Monday when one of the MB’s political party leaders showed up, protesters forcibly ejected him from the square because of the MB’s stance. But even beyond beyond totally factually inaccurate, I think it’s troubling that in the U.S. media universe, if a protest is predominantly Islamist, or more broadly if a country has Islamist political forces in it, then it’s OK for protesters to be murdered.

In terms of adding to press coverage, someone has gathered links from protests all over Egypt, trying to call attention to what’s going on not just in Tahrir. Even the news orgs that are doing a relatively good job have a tendency to just keep the camera on Tahrir square 24/7. I went to see a performance of people’s true stories from the January protests, one of the stories was of a protester in Alexandria talking about how the coverage of what was happening in Alex pretty much consisted of “Yes, Mostafa, there are indeed protests going on here in Alexandria, now back to you, live from Tahrir square!” I mean, we all have limited attention spans, you can’t get everything, but I just think how terrible to have people struggling and fighting, and no one pay attention. This is a collection of videos of protests in the past few days in cities all over Egypt.

The videos I’ve posted above are pretty disturbing (though not especially graphic in a blood-and-guts sense), but I’m sharing them because I feel you can’t understand what’s going on without really taking a look at the brutality. And particularly as an American, I think Americans should know where our tax dollars are going, know what this government that the Obama admin claims is a ‘force of stability’ is doing. Zeinobia has posted a number of other videos and photos on her blog, for anyone who wants to see more evidence of the violence, but be warned, she is really not kidding around when she labels things graphic, particularly the video of dead bodies at the morgue. I don’t recommend watching that video really to anyone unless you are a journalist and need to verify something, or you know, want to throw up and wish you could un-see it, which is how I felt after watching only seconds of the video. I think it is enough to say that one of the corpses was someone who was very brutally abused before dying, and their body has rotted or in some way been chemically messed with.