North Africa: From Jasmine to the Nile Revolution, to… By Genet Mersha

January 25th, 2011 Print Print Email Email

The Egyptian regime went about employing, in a typical fashion of a besieged regime Tuesday afternoon, to bedevil the thousands of protestors in the streets. In Egypt, officially this was supposed to be a Police Day. (more…)

The Egyptian regime went about employing, in a typical fashion of a besieged regime Tuesday afternoon, to bedevil the thousands of protestors in the streets. In Egypt, officially this was supposed to be a Police Day. Egyptian dubbed it a ‘Day of Anger.” By late Tuesday afternoon in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez, Mansoura, Mahalla al-Kobra and elsewhere, thousands of protesters came out to call for the Mubarak regime to go. Some lives were lost—both civilian and policemen. Several protestors were injured. Egypt has not had such a fury in decades.

As in Iran during its last election, social media has done good by popular action, summoning the people for protests. The New York Times reported more than 90,000 people signed up on a Facebook page to join the protests, “framed by the organizers as a stand against torture, poverty, corruption and unemployment.” From what I saw in the media, all classes of Egyptians were out there to inform Mr Mubarak and his entourage that people were tired of his thirty years in power.

Wonders never end; Egypt’s Interior Minister Habib Al-Adly has not read the writing on the wall. He warned the protestors on Police Day that they would be detained. And indeed, the police took some of them. Seemingly exhorting himself and his colleagues, the minister said, “Security authorities are capable of deterring any danger to citizens’ safety or damage to properties.” The regime also diminished Internet and mobile phone services.

What is interesting is in unusual concession from the regime, where emergency law has been in place for thirty years now, he said, “the protesters will be protected only if they are merely gathering to express their opinion.” Nonetheless, as if all dictators and their officials graduate from the same school, Mr Al-Adly described the protestors as “a bunch of incognizant, ineffective young people.” However, what the world witnessed on television were experts, women doctors, lawyers, workers…explaining why they are angry, not “incognizant… “

Mr Al-Adly’s words reminded me of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s murderous electoral escapade, in which his forces mowed down in one-day nearly 200 young lives in 2005. Ato Meles went on BBC interview with Stephen Sucker days later accused of stealing election results to claim those he ordered killed and the survivors were “unemployed.” Any ways, what difference does that make? Still he is responsible for their death.

Today, Egyptian police used water cannons and barrages of tear gas on thousands of people that converged in Tahrir Square, not far from the US embassy, the Interior Ministry, and an environ of upper class hotels, according to news reports. Nothing was able to deter Tuesday’s angry protestors. They are determined to initiate in earnest Egyptian requiem for the Mubarak regime, guided by the spirit of the Nile Revolution.

Civil society organizations quickly moved in the protest areas. About 30 Egyptian human rights groups have set up operations unit in downtown Cairo to provide protesters with legal support. Tuesday’s public protest, organized on the social media, is the largest ever in Egypt in years. Initially it was peaceful, even the brutal Egyptian security forces showing unusual restraint, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), “in what appeared to be a calculated strategy by the government to avoid further sullying the image of a security apparatus widely seen as little more than corrupt thugs in uniforms.”

A recent visit to Cairo gave me the shock of my life, where within ten days I heard a chorus of complaints from everyone I met, as never before, about the difficult life in Egypt. The chitchat everywhere is about money, cost of living, the dreaded political suppression and brutality of the regime. In a country where only 20 percent of the population is below the poverty line, in this difficult time, it seemed every Egyptian have their wails. Beyond any shadow of doubt the middle class is unhappy with Mubarak and his regime. Bear in mind, this is a class that has relatively done well under him, especially since 2004.

I would not like to think how deep the rage must be in Ethiopia. Under normal times, according to the 2010 UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI), the population under distressful life conditions, measured on the health, education and living standards] metrics is 94.2 percent. Especially this time, in a country where poverty has dug deep, and inflation at 15 percent last December that keeps on rising, has been hitting them hard on a daily basis. The ‘ethnocratic’ regime has kept on feeding them false hope about the continually rising economic growth that bears no fruits ordinary people can eat. Is it too much for these people to seek change by any means to their conditions of life?

I recall writing my discontent on behalf of my people, when I discussed in a 31 January 2010 article “The Rise of an Ethnic Oligarchy”,, dealing with the level of institutionalized corruption in Ethiopia. With poverty rising significantly since then, the depth of anguish and anger must have no limit. Water is a good conductor of currents; hopefully the currents of change would pass from Tunis to Cairo via the Nile, enabling Ethiopians to seek their redress.

Professionals I met in Cairo were sarcastic about the regime’s efforts to silence them, their second nature humour intact. They have plenty of funny jokes about the old man and his regime. As in any society under the grips of fear, Egyptians crack their jokes in the privacy of their homes and amongst circles of friends. Day and night, they shred Mubarak’s regime to pieces; they despise it for its corruption. As the BBC after the protests put it this afternoon, Egyptians despise the regime’s lack of vision and sense of the future.

Mubarak fell low in the eyes of the people not only for the corruption and brutality of his regime, but also for daring to pretend Egypt is a democracy for which he is preparing his son to take the mantle of power. The young think and believe they have never had leaders in a long time, embarrassed about the senility of the ‘emperor’, who is now dynastically brokering Gamal’s succession in an election that would take place less than a year from now.

Even separated, as they are by income differentials, taste and life styles, what binds together young Egyptians, the working-class folks and members of the middle class and higher ups is their hatred for the regime that has lost its ways for a long time now and is organizing an election in which, irrespective of the vote counts, his son would be declared a winner.

On 19 January, I read an article on I never realized that it was sign the time has come. It simply surprised me that, in a country where the media is censored and journalists are dismissed or imprisoned, almasryalyoum dared to write the following:

“Before former Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali’s unceremonious ousting from power, he resorted to the desperate tactic many dictators attempt when faced with questions they can’t answer. He blamed “hostile elements in the pay of foreigners…manipulated from outside the country.”

When Egyptian leaders employ this tactic, by “foreigners” they might mean Islamic fundamentalists from other countries. But more often than not, it means just one thing: It’s a Zionist conspiracy.

It took less than two days for some prominent members of Egyptian society to blame a Zionist conspiracy for the five Egyptian copy-cats of the Tunisian man who burned himself as a form of protest against the government.

In an effort to analyze the would-be suicides, member of the Al-Azhar-affiliated Islamic Research Academy Magdy Mehanna told Al-Youm Al-Sabei newspaper, “[Suicide] is an objection against God. [...] How can a Muslim do this? [...] It must be related to the Zionist plans to bring down the Arab and Muslim world.” From orchestrated power outages to remote-controlled killer sharks, Egyptian accusations against Israel range from the plausible to the ludicrous. The frequency and sometimes absurdity of finger pointing in the Israeli direction has left Egyptians vulnerable to ridicule in the foreign media. Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal went so far as to dub Egypt “a nation of political imbeciles.”

In the case of Egypt, therefore, the Nile Revolution would witness, if it is not crushed with the level of impunity only cruelty knows, it would have stronger support. What will make today’s protest in Egypt potent is not only its vehemence, but also the non-participation of the Moslem brotherhood that has chosen to sit out, according to Annette Young of France 24.

Quoting the Associated Press, WSJ wrote,” Mothers carrying babies also marched and chanted, “Revolution until Victory!” while the young waved signs reading “OUT!” that were inspired by the Tunisian protestations of “DEGAGE!” Men sprayed graffiti reading “Down with Hosni Mubarak.”

    | #1

    Always elegant.Always informative.Always a joy to read.Thank you,Genet.

  2. Yhkikew
    | #2

    Thanks, as alwayes relvant and informative.

  3. Bertu
    | #3

    Thank you so much for you brilliant appraisal Gennet.

    For the first time in 2 decades the world around is reminded once more the ground shaking upheaval against genocidal dictators by ordinary people. The last time this much anger was unleashed was during the collapse communist empire exactly 20 years ago.

    Meles and his thugs will busy how to respond when the gallant Ethiopians knocks on their door step.


  4. Ittu Aba Farda
    | #4

    There were other factors that defined the political and economic reality in Tunisia which led to the popular uprising. Those factors were in part not exactly the same with ones that now define the realities back in Ethiopia. This is the first major uprising that took to the streets in Tunisia in a coordinated fashion which overwhelmed the security forces of the government. The government had run out of any calming bones to throw at it’s of police force or any sector of the society for that matter. This is the first time in Tunisia when the furor of the suffering populace burst off the relief valve that has been suffocating it since independence. Back in our country, the situation is not one-to-one the same. Our people have done successful uprisings once in 1974 and the 2nd time in 2005 following the national election. The first one was stolen by that blood thirsty demon Mengistu and it was met by a ruthless northern killing force during the 2nd uprising in 2005. This goon who descended from some demon-incubating joint will not hesitate to kill and maim again in thousands if needed. As long Al-Shabaab is in existence, the mongoose-face goon will continue to get a green(silent pass rather) pass from its donors for killing and maiming once again. He will never have a 2nd thought in torching Addis to a smoldering pile if he knows that for sure he is going to be driven out of town. But I am noticing something that this ugly creature that came out of the good ole Tigray is doing that may be the beginning of his undoing systematically.

  5. Tolagna
    | #5

    Just the very few lawless elements who created the system that supresses and oppresses the majority can not sustain its downfall as it seen in countries such as Tunisia and the rest.Ethiopians will definitely achieve voctory as other similar people in other countries did.Zinawi and his tugs are for sure engulfed with fear and the unavoidable fate that will soon will come to knock the system Zinawi built down.

  6. Tolagna
    | #6

    The realities in Ethiopia are too many,yet the one reality,one truth,and one fact will play a role in mobilizing Ethiopians to ousting the very few elements that built the system,and controlled and suppressed the greatest majority of Ethiopians.

    Additionally,all the necessary and sufficent conditions are already met;therefore,what is now needed is direction and goal.The direction is obviously to building a democratic Ethiopia for all and the goal is to completely study,plan,act,and do on what the brutal system caused harm and distruction that had already cost us a lot.

  7. Assta B. Gettu
    | #7

    Once they have started demanding their governments for a regime change, the Arab-Muslim world must also demand their Imams for a religion change or reform since we know it was Islam that brought to power so many corrupt Arab-Muslim leaders such as Ben Ali of Tunisia, Mubarak of Egypt, Al Bashir of Sudan, Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen, Muhammad Ould Abd Aziz of Mauritania, Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan of Nigeria, and many other despicable Muslim leaders.

    Islam must make the following changes if its followers want to function in the modern society:

    • Quran 4:90—“If they turn back from Islam, becoming renegades, seize them and kill them wherever you find them.”
    • Quran 5:33-34—“Men are not persuaded into Islam; they are forced into submission.”
    • Quran 8:12—“Your Lord inspired the angels with the message: ‘I will terrorize the unbelievers. Therefore smite them on their necks and every joint and incapacitate them. Strike off their heads and cut off each of their fingers and toes.’”
    • Quran 9:61—“Gabriel came to Muhammad and said, ‘If a black man comes to you, his heart is more gross than a donkey’s.’”
    • Quran 33:51—“You may have whomever you desire; there is no blame.”
    • Quran 24:2—“Strike the adulteress and the adulterer one hundred times.”
    • Quran 5:51—“Believers, take not Jews and Christians for your friends.”
    • Quran 5:72—“They are surely infidels who blaspheme and say: ‘God is Christ….’”
    • Quran 5:86—“But those who reject Islam and are disbelievers, denying our Signs and
    Revelations-they shall be the owners of the Hell Fire.”
    • Quran 5:101—“Believers! Do not ask questions about things which if made plain and declared to you, may vex you causing you trouble.”
    • Quran 60:4—“We reject you. Hostility and hate have come between us forever….”

    • Quran 9:28—“Believers, truly the pagan disbelievers are unclean.”
    • Quran 9:113—“It is not fitting for the Prophet and those who believe, that they
    Should pray for the forgiveness for disbelievers, even though they be close relatives,
    After it is clear to them that they are the inmates of the Flaming Hell Fire.”
    • Quran 3:118—“Believers! Take not into your intimacy those outside your religion (pagans, Jews, and Christians). They will not fail to corrupt you. They only desire your ruin. Rank hatred has already appeared from their mouths. What their hearts conceal is far worse. When they are alone, they bite off the very tips of their fingers at you in their rage. Say unto them: ‘Perish in your rage.’”
    • 33:50— “O prophet, we made lawful for you your wives to whom you have paid their due dowry, or what you already have, as granted to you by GOD. Also lawful for you in marriage are the daughters of your father’s brothers, the daughters of your father’s sisters, the daughters of your mother’s brothers, the daughters of your mother’s sisters, who have emigrated with you. Also, if a believing woman gave herself to the prophet – by forfeiting the dowry – the prophet may marry her without a dowry, if he so wishes. However, her forfeiting of the dowry applies only to the prophet, and not to the other believers. We have already decreed their rights in regard to their spouses or what they already have. This is to spare you any embarrassment. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.”
    • Quran 4:34—“Allah has made men superior to women…If you experience for women whom you fear will rebel, admonish them first, and then send them to a separate bed, and then beat them.
    • Quran 4:11—“….Allah commands you concerning your children: A male should
    Receive a share equal to that of two females.”

    The Imams have big responsibilities ahead of them to change the above Quranic verses and other verses that declare Jihad on the Christians, the Jews, and the other infidels so that we can live together in harmony until the Lord Jesus comes.

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