egypt: no chaos until now


[Audio: unknown; Captions: none; Subtitles: limited description]

According to the YouTube upload, Female anti-government protester telling Al Jazeera that they cannot leave the square even if she wanted to – she is crying on air and sounds very scared and emotional. Telling Al Jazeera not to refer to the pro-government group as “demonstrators” because they are actually “violent thugs”.

I am at a loss for words. I have no real idea of what’s actually going on, of course, and can only reiterate my support and hope for the Egyptian people in their struggles for self-determination.

I want to point out the timeline as I see it. First, all but Noor ISP was cut off, during several days of largely peaceful (especially considering the staggering size of the crowds gathered) demonstrations. Then, everything (Noor, cellphones, etc) was cut off a few hours before Mubarak’s speech. Then he conferred for a half hour or so with President Obama.

Then the internet connections came back up (although @ioerror notes not all is back, and I think there’s filtering going on, including of twitter), and at the same time “pro-Mubarak demonstrators” — correctly called thugs and vandals by the anti-government protesters — immediately initiated and escalated a level of violence that had not been seen until this point. I want to emphasize: over the course of a week — from January 25th to February 1st — there were thousands upon thousands of protesters in the streets with very little violence (I think about 100 or so from police targeting protesters), and then once “pro-Mubarak” forces unleashed, the violence spiked dramatically.

And now everyone’s being targeted including journalists (Nicholas Kristof and Anderson Cooper were attacked although both apparently escaped serious injury) — hotels are being ransacked to confiscate cameras, video cameras and any other similar equipment. Molotov cocktails thrown into the Museum of Egypt. In one particularly bizarre sequence, camels used to ride through crowds.

I don’t get this. Who was the “radio silence” for? The strategy behind the information blackout remains a puzzle to me. The whole world was still watching, and we saw the tenor of the demonstrations and the extreme difference before and after. Was it to intimidate the Egyptian people, to suddenly see all these images of violence after only state-TV showing nothing at all of the last few days? I don’t understand the strategy at all. I do see the violence, and my heart aches. And I am angry — at the complicity of the entire world watching: not all of us watching can do anything but bear witness, but there are absolutely people watching WHO CAN DO SOMETHING.

Get on twitter and follow #Egypt and #jan25. I retweet highlights, from sources I’ve found trustworthy, which appears in the sidebar on my WordPress blog.

Clip from @evanchill who notes: Video I shot when the rocks started today at the Museum.

And finally:

Clashes in Tahrir.

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