Monday, December 19, 2011

Eating the young

Egypt is eating itself from the inside out.  The military, given a taste of ultimate power after the fall of Mubarak does not want to relinquish power, on the contrary they are trying to hold onto, and increase their hold on a few reins of power.  Enough reins to have some influence when the MB and the Salafists consolidate their power base., however.

The women in the picture below has become the new poster child for the collapse of Egypt into an Islamic wasteland.  Her exposed belly and torso, blue bra and black abaya laying around her head and shoulders represent the unveiling of the "new" Egypt.

Welcome to democracy in the Middle East.

From The Guardian December 18 by Ahdaf Soueif

Image of unknown woman beaten by Egypt's military echoes around world

Egyptian army soldiers beating a female protester
This is Islam                                                   Photo;Reuters

The woman is young, and slim, and fair. She lies on her back surrounded by four soldiers, two of whom are dragging her by the arms raised above her head. She's unresisting – maybe she's fainted; we can't tell because we can't see her face. She's wearing blue jeans and trainers. But her top half is bare: we can see her torso, her tummy, her blue bra, her bare delicate arms. Surrounding this top half, forming a kind of black halo around it, is the abaya, the robe she was wearing that has been ripped off and that tells us that she was wearing a hijab.

Six years ago, when popular protests started to hit the streets of Egypt as Hosni Mubarak's gang worked at rigging the 2005 parliamentary elections, the regime hit back – not just with the traditional Central Security conscripts – but with an innovation: militias of strong, trained, thugs. They beat up men, but they grabbed women, tore their clothes off and beat them, groping them at the same time. The idea was to insinuate that females who took part in street protests wanted to be groped.

Women developed deterrent techniques: layers of light clothing, no buttons, drawstring pants double-knotted – and carried right on protesting. Many of the smaller civil initiatives that grew into the protest movement: "We See You", "Against Corruption", "The Streets are Ours" were women-led.

But, a symbiotic relationship springs up between behaviours. Mubarak and Omar Suleiman turn Egypt into the US's favourite location for the torture of "terror suspects" and torture becomes endemic in police stations. The regime's thugs molest women as a form of political bullying – and harassment of women in the streets rises to epidemic levels.

Until 25 January. The Revolution happened and with it came the Age of Chivalry. One of the most noted aspects of behaviour in the streets and squares of the 18 days of the Egyptian Revolution was the total absence of harassment. Women were suddenly free; free to walk alone, to talk to strangers, to cover or uncover, to smoke to laugh to cry to sleep. And the job of every single male present was to facilitate, to protect, to help. The Ethics of the Square, we called it.

Now our revolution is in an endgame struggle with the old regime and the military.

The young woman is part of this.

Read it all

No comments: