Earl Ofari Hutchinson's take on the politics of the day
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SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, Amy, my uncle is Mohamed Abdel Quddoos. He’s a leading opposition protester. He’s now head of the Freedom Committee at the Press Syndicate, and he has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood himself. And, Amy, he’s been protesting for years. There’s been a growing movement here in Egypt of protests, of people trying to voice their dissent. But they have been harshly clamped down on. And what we typically used to see was people like my uncle and other opposition voices speaking in Tahrir on the steps of the Press Syndicate, but they would be about a dozen and then surrounded by hundreds of police, and it would be quickly shut down. They would be arrested. They would be driven out into the middle of the desert and left there, without their wallet or phone, to find their way back, which is a common tactic by the police—completely shut down. And for years, my uncle was—his standard attire, he would leave the building wearing a suit, holding a megaphone and a flag of Egypt in his hand, and he would go into the streets.
And this was—I saw him yesterday in the square. He was there with his megaphone and flag and his suit all crumpled because he had spent the night in Tahrir. And I sat down next to him, and I said, "How are you feeling now?" And he was overwhelmed with emotion. He said, "This is a dream come true." And he pointed over to where the Press Syndicate is, and he said, "You remember when I used to stand on the steps of that Press Syndicate to protest? I would stand alone. Now look at everyone. They’re all here with me."
And he went on to say how this was not his uprising, it was not his revolt. He said this was done by young people. And he’s the one who called it "the revolution of the Facebook generation." He said there’s been—he said, "Tunis was the catalyst and the spark, but it’s been building for so many years." And he said there’s three similarities between Egypt and Tunis that he saw. He said this was organized through Facebook and was a leaderless movement—that’s one. He said the president will fall; of that, he is sure—that’s two. And three, he says the army supports the people and won’t harm them; of that, he is sure, too.
Transcript from Monday’s “Democracy Now,” hosted by Amy Goodman. Report given by Senior Producer Sharif Abdel Kouddous.
In the blink of an eye, the world has seen Tunisia fall and Egypt getting ready to tumble as well.
As some are suggesting, is this the beginning of a global revolution?
In the opinion of this writer, no.
What we are seeing is years of unemployment, graft, wheeling and dealing going on in the Arab world for decades starting to unwind. Discontent has been brewing in Egypt for a long time before the recession took fold.
Poverty, unemployment, misery, and despair have been a way of life in Egypt for years. Since the overthrow of King Farouk in 1952, Egypt has been promising its citizens better days are coming.
They have yet to materialize.
For the most part as Sharif has reported, young people in Cairo make up the bulk of the uprising, as it was Iran, as it was in Mexico City in 1968.
Cairo, the capital of Egypt once its jewel is now its squalor. Ghettos in Egypt make US ghettos look like splendor. People have said under Farouk, conditions were better.
The good life, promised by Gamal Nasser hasn’t been realized. Now the people want change. Neighboring countries are all wondering:
WILL WE BE NEXT?
Both the so-called moderate and despotic regimes are trembling at the thought of the rebellion spreading into their countries and toppling them.
Israel has to be concerned. There could be an avalanche of refugees attempting to enter the country to escape the ensuing chaos.
Saturday, when Earl Ofari Hutchinson and I spoke with Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY), he agreed that actions taken by Mubarak strongly resembled those taken by Fulgencio Batista prior to his overthrow by Fidel Castro.
“Unbelievable. That’s the first thing my wife said to me, in that once again we are in the business of supporting bastards that are the enemies of democracies by saying that they are our bastards. There is no question that we are behind the curve in having the Egyptian people to believe that the money that we send over there annually is for them. The corruption that exists over there, there is a thinking that Batista who controlled the army the way Mubarak does. He couldn’t overcome the people who were supporting the new Castro army.”
As of this writing there appears to be a lessening of tensions and perhaps the dream of the Egyptian people will be realized:
True democracy where equality isn’t for just the privileged few.