Thursday, May 11, 2006

Kefaya Crackdown

The Arabist continues its coverage of the Egyptian government's crackdown on peaceful demonstrators. One observer assesses the situation thusly:
"I have often questioned the utility of all the protesting that has occurred in Cairo since December 2004. Yet, today was impressive to watch people come out and start chanting when they knew security was going to respond within minutes – arresting some of them, beating some of them. Rather than give up, the remaining protesters would disperse and regroup and challenge the state again, against all hopes of actually achieving anything. Their bravery and their tenacity should be commended. Regardless of the people detained since 24 April (according to HRW, the number is over 100), people continue to turn out in the face of their decreasing numbers.

"Also, reports came in that said that a CSF truck fell over the 6th October Bridge in Abbasaya killing 10 and injuring 20 of the CSF conscripts. This state is hopeless. It is authoritarian and rotten to its core and one can only hope that some sort of change occurs. Yet, I remain skeptical that no matter how brave or stubborn the social forces resisting the state are, that much can be achieved. In Egypt, there can be no third way. This is not a state that is behaving like its scared or weak. It is a state that is boldly asserting its repressive power against its unarmed citizens. This state is not interested in practicing politics. It is incapable of dealing with its polity politically or diffusing political problems. Instead, it relies on repression, coercion, and intimidation. A high majority of Egyptians will be forced in acquiescence through fear. Yet, fear cannot and will not ever expand regime power.

"Lastly, word has emerged that the judges under trial – Hisham Bastawisi and Mahmoud Mekki - went to the High Court this morning accompanied by their lawyers and a delegation of judges. They were told that their entourage could not enter the High Court. Instead, only 8 people would be allowed to enter and the court informed them that it reserved the right to select their delegates. Bastawisi and Mekki refused to enter after this gross insult. They left the court and returned to the Judges Club where they remain hold up with scores of their colleagues. They say they will not be going to any more court cases until the Security Forces are removed from the streets and the protesters are released.

"The pro-reform judges were Egypt’s heroes before today. Now, they are not only heroes but legends. And they are the most important symbols of this very nasty and seemingly hopeless struggle for the political heart and future of Egypt."

Read the entire post for pictures and a full account of the day's demonstrations, government violence in response, and the aftermath.


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