The Game is on

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People who read this blog know that I am not the most enthusiastic supporter of today's protest for both political reasons , and for the fact that I am not quite sure what it would achieve. It's hard to take a protest seriously that gives u the choice between being apathetic or participating by staying at home and doing nothing. However, the government seems to be taking it very seriously, so maybe I should to, especially that they arrested Malek and a number of activists yesterday, forcing a number of other bloggers and activists to spend last night in any other place but their homes. I just took a cab ride to Dowtown and the streets are crawling state security and they are stopping young men who are walking by themselves on the streets and checking their ID's and forcing them to get off the streets as soon as possible. 

On the other hand, the government is going for an entire media blitz to stop the strike: The cover of government mouthpieces AlAhram and Al Akhbar are filled with headlines that both deny the existance of any strike , following the line of "What strike? That's just a bunch of hype started by a number of illegal and shady movements and individuals who want to ruin the country!", and yet detail the amounts of legal punishment and trouble that anyone who participates in a strike would receive "Losing your job, Fines, 3 months to a year in prison, being on the government's shit list forever, etc..etc..". Uber government presswhore RoseAlYusef published a headline asking people to calm down, go to work and not worry because everything is working fine and there is no strike , and life is rosy. In Rosealyusef's world, reality is what you make it, which must work really well for them.

The interesting thing is, no one knows really which political powers are with or behind this protest. I mean sure, AlWasat, and alKarama parties are in, and so is whomever is representing Kefaya these days, and some factory workers. The Muslim Brotherhood have announced they won't participate, but they are supporting the protest "with their hearts", whatever the fuck that means. The Pro-government other parties like Egypt;s Youth and the conservative party and their many counterparts are all saying that they support freedom of expression, but are against such shady political stunts that achieve nothing and only hurt the country. The Democratic Front, the Nasserite party are in solidarity with the strike, while Al Tagamo3 and the Wafd party are not joining because "they weren't invited to join" (Awwww……). And Al Ghad , on the other hand, enjoys the most unique position of being For and Anti the strike at the same time, thanks to the fact that there are two factions claiming to represent it now: The Musa faction, which is anti joining, and the Ayman Nour faction, which is all about joining, and naturally AlAhram quotes Musa , while Al Masry Al Youm quotes Gamila Ismael, Nour's wife! It's beautiful!

As far as the people go, they have various reactions: Nawarah Negm's maid thinks that the people will destroy the Bread Bakeries, Haisam tells a story about the driver of his friends' father who is striking today, because he believes that the strike is against the Dutch Fitna movie, the Taxi drivers I took eysterday and today assure me that they have heard of the strike and that people are all worried about it, because whomever doesn't show up to work today will go to jail, even if they were sick. He also told me that the local souq (markets) were open till midnight last night, with people buying lots of goods in anticipation for today. Many of the private schools, afraid of…ehh..I don't know..something..have canceled schools today, and thus the streets of Cairo are empty this morning. Al Dustour newspaper is also reporting that Egyptian movie Star Ahmed ElSaqqah is joining the protest by halting production of his new movie for the day. Saqqa the revolutionary. Who knew?

Anyway, the people behind the strike have created a special blog to document it (can be found here ), and are urging the people on the streets to send their pictures, posts and stories to them , using this e-mail 6april08@gmail.com. They even have a hotline: 0118361000 or 0119423496, so don't hesitate to call it. if you witness something, even if you don;t agree with the protest or the ideology behind it. Look at it the way I look at it: It's a way to flip off the government who won't just allow protesting in the streets, but won't allow people to stay home either. It's the least we can do, no?

Update: They have also arrested Mohamed Sharkawy and Kefaya's leader Mohamed Al Ashqar from their homes, and they have arrested Mustapha Khalil at a Fabric shop in Al Mansoura, out of fear that he might purchase fabrics that could be sued to make protest banners. Oh yeah!

Update: ALMahalla strike is canceled. I repeat, Al Mhalla strike is canceled. All Eyes are now on Al Tahrir square! 

Update: Just spoke to Jano at Mahalla. It seems that Mohamed Al Attar and the other strike leaders had reached some kind of compromise over "food allowance" that prompted them to cancel the strike. The other leaders who didn't want to cancel the strike, like Karim Al Bheery, are reportedly sieged into their offices and not allowed to leave or talk to the workers or do anything. 

Update: Mohamed Abdel Kuddous got literally kidnapped in Downtwon while buying a newspaper. And yes, it is Mohamed Al Sharkawy- from Mlameh publishing- who got arrested from his finace's house in Sheikh Zayed. The Fun just keeps on rolling! 

Update: Kafr Al Dawar workers also abandoned the strike plans, proving once again that egyptian political activists excel at nothing but creating hype. Sweet!

Update: We can probably spin this as a success if we want to. It will go something like this:  This call for people to stay at home was so successful no one went to the streets and protested! 

Update: People, don't despair! We are victims of our own success. Our campaign to keep people at home was so successful, that no one showed to the protests. Really, we should be applauding ourselves. Job well done people, Job well done!

Update: A demonstration erupted next to the Lawyers sydnicate. The Police is trying to squash it and isn't allowing anyone access inside the syndicate's building! 

Comments

  1. a7aaa eh el wasa5a deeeh … :S :S

  2. anonymous says:

    I was up on a roof overlooking Tahrir Square at 11:30am. Nothing happening except a bunch of riot police standing around.

  3. Still nothing in Tahrir….been watching through noon, just lots of SS.

  4. I just came back to work after a walk in Tahrir, there’s nothing happening at all. They detained people sitting in the borsa cafe and its surroundings in the morning then nothing else happened. There are some gossips that they are protesting at the journalist’s syndicate but I didn’t check it out.

    I guess people took today as vacation as no one has an idea of what’s going on.

  5. Golly, but it’s a nice piece of writing – you can almost feel your heart speeding up in response to the frenetic tone: it’s a bit wired, a bit paranoid – something Gonzo but also something from a scared and scary world we’re not being allowed to see properly elsewhere…

    …but I’m not sure, like LDworldWide, quite what went on/should have gone on.

    Perhaps I’m just daft. Scratch that. I am just daft. Hope you all stay safe over there, though…

  6. I’m listening to the BBC right now, and al-Mahalla sounds like a war zone.

  7. Patrick says:

    I love how this gets so few comments because none of your right-wing readers give a shit about Egypt, nor will they ever.

  8. John Cunningham says:

    Patrick, that’s not right. Maybe some of us just don’t know what to say. Everytime I come here I’m checking to make sure everyone’s OK but have nothing constructive to say.

  9. John Cunningham says:

    I just remembered, I originally got up just to go to the bathroom, it’s 12.19am here in Philadelphia so I didn’t think of this a minute ago. Isn’t it funny how things go? This evening I spent two hours watching the top ten ancient sites to tour in Egypt. I think it was Discovery. So there, I watched a brand new documentary on that, all the places I’ve seen a million times on the TV, but, with all that’s on my 200 channel cable system I chose that. What did you watch?

  10. Suzanne says:
  11. Suzanne says:

    @Patrick, – though not that i consider myself to be a rightist, maybe a human rightist ;) , but i think i can answer this one for you:
    it’s nothing to do with care. it’s about not knowing what to say. not knowing much enough about egypt to know where all these places are and who all these people are.

    be happy. otherways millions of people would spread lies about your country thinking they do know about how the country works. such as what’s the case with israel and the US, e.g..

  12. Patrick, I think John Cunningham is right, and this not only for the right-wingers.

  13. brooklynjon says:

    Patrick,

    I think Suzanne spoke pretty well for me. That, and the fact that my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah was yesterday, and I was too busy tending to the needs of 180 guests to stay abreast of developments across the world.

    But ultimately, the bigger issue is that I don’t really know who all the people involved are, and as an American, I don’t feel it’s necessarily my place to tell other people how to resolve disputes that don’t involve me. To do otherwise would invite an accusation by you of arrogance and meddling. I would wish for peace, but sometimes peace is not the best thing.

  14. Patrick,

    I am further right than just about anyone here, though I more often read Mona’s blog. Sort of like keeping one’s friends close and enemies closer, though in fact, I consider Mona a friend, just a little misguided politically at times. I digress.

    As to “not giving a shit”… well, you know the story about how the breeze from a butterfly’s wing can become a storm? Well, what kind of storm could this political event blow up into? Think Israel will just sit by and let chaos reign? Think maybe that there is no way American soldiers could get involved? Think maybe the US (or whoever’s) government could not conscript your ass and send you to play in the big sandbox?

    Isolationism doesn’t work anymore. The world has become too small. Us “Right Wingers” are very concerned about what happens in the Middle East. I get more concerned every time I read about one of the soldiers I used to soldier with getting blown up and every time I fill up the tank of my ’92 Ford Econoline… $74.00 last time I filled up.

    I’m gonna have to start watching the Sand Monkey. He’s a clever little beast!