June 3, 2016

YOU CAN'T BETRAY THEIR DEMOCRACY AND THEN WONDER THAT THEY DON'T LOVE YOU:

Generation revolution: how Egypt's military state betrayed its youth (Rachel Aspden,  2 June 2016, The Guardian)

Ruqayah crouched behind a sandbag wall, blinking away the sweat running into her eyes. The sun was directly overhead and the acrid smell of burning plastic stung the back of her throat. Shouts and screams rose thinly over gunfire, helicopter rotors and the rumble of armoured bulldozers.

It was the middle of August 2013, soon after the Eid feast that marks the end of Ramadan, and the security forces were clearing the huge protest camps at Rabaa and al-Nahda squares in central Cairo. Their tens of thousands of inhabitants were demonstrating against the removal of the president, Mohamed Morsi, in a military coup at the beginning of July. Beside Ruqayah huddled another teenage girl and a young man, pressed as close as they could get to the rough hessian of the sandbags. To the side, sprawled on the concrete with blood pooling around them, lay the bodies of two men who had been shot dead by police snipers.

"Don't move until I tell you. Then, run," the man told the two girls. Ruqayah nodded silently and waited, closing her eyes, clasping the other girl's hand, for the brief silence that meant the shooters were reloading. She knew to bend double and run in zigzags to make herself a harder target. When she opened her eyes she saw other people - adults, teenagers and small children - crouching in the angle of walls, against cars, behind rough barricades of paving stones, anything that would protect them from the gunfire coming from the square and the snipers on the rooftops around them. Then one man, bearded and strongly built, stood up and spread his arms wide in defiance, facing the square.

"I won't crawl," he shouted. "Allahu Akbar!" Ruqayah squeezed her eyes shut again, but she heard his skull shatter as the sniper's bullet struck.

"Now!" the young man told them and they dashed behind him, weaving left and right, for the shelter of a side street. Ruqayah was just 15, wiry and fleet, but the other girl was older and heavier. A bullet caught her in the leg and she fell as Ruqayah watched in horror. The girl crawled the last metres to them, leaving a trail of blood.

Six weeks earlier, on 30 June, hundreds of thousands of people had marched in Egypt's major cities, demanding the resignation of their president. The Muslim Brotherhood's candidate, Mohamed Morsi, had been elected only a year earlier, in a run-off with a pro-army candidate, with 52% of the vote. At first, the anti-Morsi marches seemed like an echo of the popular demonstrations that had unseated the dictator Hosni Mubarak after three decades in power. The protesters even chanted the slogans of the 2011 revolution - "Leave, leave!", "The people demand the fall of the regime!". A movement named Tamarod (Arabic for "rebellion"), which had organised the protests, claimed to have gathered 22 million signatures for its petition demanding that Morsi resign and that a fresh presidential election be held. But while Tamarod appeared to be a grassroots organisation - its volunteers lining Cairo's roads to collect signatures from drivers - behind the scenes, it was backed by powerful old‑regime figures in business and the military who wanted the president and the Muslim Brotherhood gone.

It was the neocons' Tiananmen Square.

Posted by at June 3, 2016 10:58 AM

  

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