Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush took the symbol of the Trayvon Martin protests from the street to the Capitol on Wednesday, getting ejected from the House floor for wearing a hoodie.
Protests near Egypt’s Interior Ministry continued on February 3, 2012 in Cairo, Egypt with at least four people killed amid anger over the deaths of 74 football fans that were killed in clashes between rival fans in Port Said, Egypt. Three-days of mourning were announced and marches were scheduled to protest at the lack of protection provided by police who were at the stadium when the violence occurred. (Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
Picture of the Day. Manama, Bahrain. A protester in a mask to protect herself from teargas continues to mark the anniversary of the Bahraini uprising’s birth, on Febraury 14th.
The Read: “Suppressing the Narrative in Bahrain” by Matthew Cassel at Al Jazeera.
Photo Credit: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters. Via.
1) “Maalox is a must.”
2) “Stay vigilant. Stay united. Stay informed. Protect your fellow countrymen. Don’t trust the media.”
SEATTLE P-I: Police officers are removing dozens of tents that had set up shop as part of the "Occupy Seattle" movement in Westlake Park.
TAMPA POLICE ATTEMPT TO DISMANTLE OCCUPY TAMPA’S PROTESTER CAMP
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TAMPA POLICE BROKE DOWN OCCUPY TAMPA PROTESTERS’ CAMP
As many as six squad cars responded on scene in front of Curtis Hixon Park.
Tampa, FL (October 14, 2011) – Friday morning, at approximately 9:00 a.m. EST, Tampa Police Department vehicles arrived on site in front of Curtis Hixon Park. The officers (of both genders) numbered in the double digits, and their presence led protesters to believe that the officers were prepared to arrest protesters of both genders. Captain Dugan, who was in charge of the scene, informed protesters that they were no longer allowed to place articles (backpacks, coolers, chairs, purses, sleeping bags, etc) in or upon the sidewalk per City Statute 22-8, including a table, which was being used to distribute political literature, in clear violation of the landmark court case, ACLU of Nevada v. City of Las Vegas.
SURROUND AND DROWN Members of the New York Police Department (left) prepare to arrest protestors massed on the Brooklyn-bound lanes of the Brooklyn Bridge. Officials say “hundreds” were arrested. (Photo: Mario Tama / Getty Images via the New York Daily News)
.@BarackObama If you don’t have the balls to tell Mubarak and his regime to step down now, you can at least start investigating his wealth worldwide.
How Egyptian teenagers used Facebook to start a democratic revolution that is about to topple a 82-year old dictator and change the world forever.
. . .
Below is a US diplomatic cable (yes, one of the cables released by Wikileaks) that was written by a US embassy official three years ago about a protest that occurred in a town about 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Cairo called Mahalla and how a group of teenagers used Facebook to grab the attention of the entire country. Three years later that same social media strategy is about to bring down a dictator and change Egypt, and the world, forever. And at its heart, this is about how the freedom of information and the power of social media can spark a revolution.
MAHALLA RIOTS: ISOLATED INCIDENT OR TIP OF AN ICEBERG?
16 April 2008
1. Summary: Egyptians are uneasy about the April 6 and 7 anti-government riots in Mahalla, which featured thousands of unemployed youth battling riot police in the streets of the Nile Delta mill-town (refs B-D). The violent demonstrations followed on an opposition-organized general strike on April 6, which noticeably quieted Cairo’s busy streets, as many Egyptians stayed home, many out of fear of potential public disorder, and some in solidarity with the strike (ref B). The Mahalla riots have both reflected and fed into resentment about spiraling food prices and widespread anger at the government. Egyptians are in a sour mood, and their frustration seems more vocal than just a few months ago. The government is paying close attention, and is now focused on heading off a follow-on national strike called for May 4, Mubarak’s eightieth birthday. End summary.
HEROES OR HOOLIGANS?
2. Reaction to the Mahalla clashes seems divided along class lines. The lower-income Egyptians we spoke with expressed enthusiasm about the riots, with two independently telling us they were “ecstatic” at the news. Many said, “the government deserved it.” They all attributed the riots to sharply increased food prices. Year-on-year inflation in March reached 14.4 percent; food-only inflation for March reached 22 percent. Many Egyptians acknowledge that the fundamental unspoken Egyptians social pact — the peoples’ obeisance in exchange for a modest but government-guaranteed standard of living — is under stress, and the poor feel this most acutely. One worker remarked: “it is the people’s right (to strike), if their government lies to them, tells them that food prices are stable, but then we go try to buy oil or bread, and cannot afford it.” A cab driver told us, “God willing, such riots will occur in Cairo soon; the only thing stopping us is fear.”
3. Elites appear anxious. On April 6, many parents of private school children kept their children home. The private German School was reportedly half empty. Referring to Mahalla, a textile factory owner told us, “The poor are desperate, and this is a natural result of that. We may see more riots, and we will definitely see more crime in Cairo; it is already happening; the poor have to resort to stealing.” Meanwhile, Cairo’s limited middle class seems stuck in between - a reflexive fear of chaos feeds their worries of riots, but seems nearly equaled by their admiration of the Mahalla protesters for “giving the government what it deserves,” as one shop-owner told us.
IS THIS THE START OF SOMETHING?
4. The key question is, will the localized incident in Mahalla spark a wider movement? The government is clearly focused on containing unrest. Even while the riots were still winding down, PM Nazif traveled to Mahalla, paid bonuses to factory workers and praised those who did not join in the riots (ref D). The government has also accelerated arrests of activists in Cairo (ref E). The organizers of the April 6 strike — distinct from Mahalla — have already called, via Facebook, for a follow-on national strike on May 4, Mubarak’s eightieth birthday. Even regime insiders have acknowledged the political savvy behind this tactic —channeling current outrage towards the next big event. The GOE responded with a press release announcing that President Mubarak will give a May 5 speech to “underline Egypt’s keen to desire to protect the rights of laborers and accentuate the role they can play in the development process …. and to reiterate the government’s commitment to safeguard the interests of workers against any backlashes they might face as a result of the economic reform program.” More broadly, the government continues to address the shortage of subsidized bread by using military bakeries and distribution centers, and bread lines in Cairo seem to have diminished.
5. The government’s concern is driven by recent events, but likely also by worried looks in the rear-view mirror. Egyptians are renowned for their apathy in the face of trying conditions. Nevertheless, 1952’s “Black Saturday,” when many foreign-affiliated establishments in Cairo were burned to the ground; the January 1977 bread riots, when tens of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets nationwide in anti-government riots precipitated by the government’s planned cancellation of food subsidies; and the February 1986 riots of the Central Security Forces, protesting a rumored extension of their term of service, resulting in hundreds of deaths nationwide, and USD millions in damage, all demonstrate that even supposedly quiescent Egyptians have their limits.
6. While there are currently no angry demonstrators on the streets of Cairo, the situation is more tense than even a few months ago. Widespread bitterness about spiraling prices, seething upset about government corruption, disdain for the Mubarak government’s perceived pro-US and Israel posture, and working class economic woes (ref A) bubble up in virtually every conversation. It is not clear how the next catalyst for action — if there is one — might materialize. Neither the Mahalla rioters nor the April 6 group have charismatic, clearly identified leadership. It is significant that the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), now suffering under the arrests of thousands of arrests of its members, distanced itself from both of “movements.” Egypt’s omnipresent security apparatus is also a strong counter-balance to riots and demonstrations. We think it is possible that Egypt will witness further spasms of limited violence, but these are likely to be isolated and uncoordinated, rather than revolutionary in nature.
7. Although not on the scale of the 1977 or 1986 riots, Mahalla is significant. The violent protests demonstrated that it is possible to tear down a poster of Mubarak and stomp on it, to shout obscene anti-regime slogans, to burn a minibus and hurl rocks at riot police. These are unfamiliar images that lower-income Egyptians thrill to. In Mahalla, a new organic opposition force bubbled to the surface, defying current political labels, and apparently not affiliated with the MB. This may require the government to change its script.
8. April 6 brought together disparate opposition forces together with numerous non-activist Egyptians, with the Facebook calls for a strike attracting 70,000 people on-line, and garnering widespread national attention. The nexus of the upper and middle-class Facebook users, and their poorer counterparts in the factories of Mahalla, created a new dynamic. One senior insider mused, “Who could have imagined that a few kids on the internet could foment a buzz that the entire country noticed? I wish we could do that in the National Democratic Party.”
9. Another result of Mahalla is that Mubarak will even more strongly resist both economic and political reform initiatives. Six months ago, economic cabinet ministers openly discussed phasing out food and fuel subsidies in favor of transfer payments to the very poor. That initiative now seems to be off the table. We are also hearing that unrest over prices has strengthened the security ministers in the cabinet in resisting privatization and other efforts towards liberalization. The riots introduce a new dynamic for us as well. Under these stressful conditions, Mubarak and his regime will be even more sensitive to US criticism over human rights abuses and democracy shortfalls. On April 15, Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit, meeting with the Ambassador, cited the Mahalla incident as a strain and added that he hoped that the United States would be supportive of Egypt during this difficult period.