Thursday, 2 February 2012


It feels as though a chasm of understanding, or misunderstanding, is opening up between people of different opinions. Those who support the Revolution, those who don't; those who think the SCAF should go immediately, those who think they are still needed while the country is in a transitional period; those who think that even a weak Parliament is better than what we have now; those who believe that the country needs a strong President, those who see the position as being that of a figurehead; those who think that all the events going on in Egypt at the moment have been orchestrated by outside forces, even if they're being executed by the SCAF, or supporters of the SCAF, or supporters of Mubarak (usually referred to as thugs, or paid thugs).

Me - I don't know what to think. It feels like the world is going mad. Not just in Egypt but Syria, Nigeria, Senegal, Iran - all over the place. The more details you hear about what happened yesterday the more sinister it sounds. It's looking increasingly as though the killings at the football match in Port Said between El Masry and El Ahly were a planned massacre rather than random violence or chaos, that at the very least what happened was done with the tacit consent of the police, but - much more likely - was orchestrated by the SCAF in an attempt to give them more credibility. If the country appears to be in chaos, without a police or army presence, there's an obvious need for the SCAF to stay in power. It's a similar rationale to Mubarak releasing prisoners from jail a year ago - to make it seem as though he was the only viable alternative to chaos and the destruction of the country.

The difference then is that in the face of an obvious emergency the country pulled together. People literally took to the streets to protect their houses and neighbourhoods. Now there is a lot more mistrust and even the most well-meaning people don't know where to channel their energy. Some who were avid supporters of the Revolution are so jaded by the election process - corruption/possible distortion of the results, huge victories to the Islamists, a new Parliament that seems full of ineffectual, uninspiring members - that they feel their country has taken a massive step backwards rather than moving forward. Others recognised that it was time for Mubarak to go, that he was party to corruption and that huge injustice took place under his rule, but have always felt that the Revolution was a mistake - that even if it was justified it unleashed chaos and that its effects are destroying the country. Still others feel that continued protests in Tahrir are the only way of bringing about change and giving meaning to the loss of so many lives.

A strong, united Egypt has shown it can do incredible things. I still believe, and will always believe, that the fact that the country did NOT descend into chaos in those early days of February 2011 is a minor miracle. But people are only as strong as we are united; divide us from one another, alienate us from one another and we are weak and vulnerable. We can be manipulated as people prey on our insecurities, coerced as we are threatened with things we fear or tempted by things we want.

And it's not just in Egypt that you see this happening. The experience of being here at this time and seeing how truth can be distorted is really making me think a lot about power on a global scale and the mechanisms that keep world order as it is. Launching an unjust war in Iraq and a huge section of the population being manipulated into NOT fighting against it because they believed the government's assertions that there were weapons of mass destruction just waiting to be used by people bent on "destroying our way of life". The half-hearted additional justification that Saddam Hussein was a tyrant who did terrible things to his own people, so it was actually in the Iraqi people's best interests that we invade their country - again, something that you can believe if you have faith in the system. But if the British government, the US government, or indeed most governments were all about justice and philanthropy then what the hell were they doing in Cambodia in the 70s, or Rwanda in the 90s? Where have they been in the ongoing mess of armed conflict and rape in the Congo or Somalia and brutal repression in countries like Myanmar??

It feels ever more important at this time to choose carefully who to support and what causes to stand for. The irony is that knowing this doesn't make anything less murky or the truth any clearer.

I feel so sad at what's happening, not just in Egypt but everywhere. There's so much more to say but right now I just don't have the words.