Fri, 20 Sep 2013 - 09:50 GMT
Fri, 20 Sep 2013 - 09:50 GMT
|A disheartened nation grows politically apathatic amid repeated human rights violations|
|By Pakinam Amer|
|The shocking images that came out of bloody confrontations between the military and some protesters during the events known in the cyberworld as #OccupyCabinet made many forget the politics behind the sit-in. Although set up to protest the appointment of Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzouri and the extended stay of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), the deaths and injuries that took place after clashes between security forces and protesters rendered the initial politics irrelevant. It was suddenly a question of unmitigated humanity and dignity.
At a news conference last week, Ganzouri announced SCAF “want to leave today,” and he seemingly pleaded with activists to give the country a break, a “two-month period of calm.” On the same day, a march in Abbassiya saw a few thousand students carry an empty coffin symbolizing the death of a classmate who lost his life during the infighting near the Cabinet office. The Ministry of Health coincidently issued a new official casualty toll for the Cabinet sit-in, putting the deaths at 10 and the injuries at 494.A few days earlier, Tahrir Square saw a women’s protest, the largest of its kind in 'New Egypt', against the brutality and excessive force exercised by the military against some female protesters as the now iconic image of a woman stripped half naked, dragged and kicked by a member of the military was still haunting the country. Some carried the picture as they marched, shouting, “Egypt’s women are the red line.”
On social networks, the mood ranged from sheer rage to despair despite some activists' attempt to put solutions for the country's continued chaos up for debate. Solutions like pushing up the presidential elections to January instead of June and the abolishment of the Shura Council elections to speed up the transition of power to a civil institution were among the many that floated around Twitter and Facebook. On Friday December 23, a million-man march to defend and save the revolution and “restore honor” mobilized in Tahrir, but with the apathy and fear on the street, it seems the masses had grown tired.
Only a week earlier, a call for a Friday to boost the economy named "Buy Egyptian" was met with less enthusiasm than expected. Egypt Today polled its readers through its Twitter account (@EgyptTodayMag) and only a few responded with zeal. “There was some shopping I’ve been delaying so I will do it tomorrow [on the Friday dedicated to local buying], and I plan to buy some extra stuff,” said Mohammed Yehia, known by his Twitter handle @MohammedY. Another reader, obviously cynical, responded, “We are asked to buy poor-quality local products, owned by Egyptian capitalists, who are waiting to collect their money and flee,” said Ahmed Saied, who goes by the handle @asaied on the social networking website. “I will buy [Egyptian], but I think what we need is a long-term shift in our consumerism habits not just one day of buying Egyptian products,” said another.
And that’s just Twitter, which is populated by middle-class Egyptians who enjoy enough wealth to actually care about the bigger picture.Others around the country, especially those who can barely make ends meet, were understandably more reluctant to part with their cash. On the streets, many blamed the revolutionaries for a plummeting economy and for their own financial woes.
With security becoming an issue to the layman and the deaths of protesters weighing heavily on revolutionaries, the pertinent issues of the economy and ongoing parliamentary elections paled in comparison. Turnout during the second round of elections was markedly less than the first and was even less during the reruns on December 22 and 23.
The prime minister’s calls to hold a national dialogue on December 22 seemed to fall on deaf ears as many young activists regrouped by the Cabinet office to revive the protest that was earlier dispersed by military and police forces. Meanwhile, another concrete wall was erected near Tahrir to separate army men and stone-pelting protesters.
Walls, proverbial and literal, between rulers and people and between people and revolutionaries were rising everywhere.
In reaction to the press conference, Yehia El Gammal, a blogger and a Twitter user who goes by the name @YehiaMelgammal, said he believed the “old-school generals will happily get rid of an entire generation to prove to themselves they are the sole guarantor of a corrupt state they’ve nurtured over six decades.” Harsh? Perhaps, but it only reflects part of the anger of some at what the revolution has boiled down to: an ailing prime minister, a failing economy, an uncertain future and a steadily growing death toll among young protesters.
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