Wired and Shrewd, Young Egyptians Guide Revolt

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Wired and Shrewd, Young Egyptians Guide Revolt

Post by Joe Bese on Thu Feb 10, 2011 11:47 am

I was asked to make this link a separate thread, so here it is. The NY Times site requires registration, with some minimal information about you, but it's free.

For the moment. There's been some talk of them switching to a pay-per-read format. We'll see.

Here's the link:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/10/world/middleeast/10youth.html?hp

CAIRO — They were born roughly around the time that President Hosni Mubarak first came to power, most earned degrees from their country’s top universities and all have spent their adult lives bridling at the restrictions of the Egyptian police state — some undergoing repeated arrests and torture for the cause.

They are the young professionals, mostly doctors and lawyers, who touched off and then guided the revolt shaking Egypt, members of the Facebook generation who have remained mostly faceless — very deliberately so, given the threat of arrest or abduction by the secret police.

Now, however, as the Egyptian government has sought to splinter their movement by claiming that officials were negotiating with some of its leaders, they have stepped forward publicly for the first time to describe their hidden role.

There were only about 15 of them, including Wael Ghonim, a Google executive who was detained for 12 days but emerged this week as the movement’s most potent spokesman.

Yet they brought a sophistication and professionalism to their cause — exploiting the anonymity of the Internet to elude the secret police, planting false rumors to fool police spies, staging “field tests” in Cairo slums before laying out their battle plans, then planning a weekly protest schedule to save their firepower — that helps explain the surprising resilience of the uprising they began.

In the process many have formed some unusual bonds that reflect the singularly nonideological character of the Egyptian youth revolt, which encompasses liberals, socialists and members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

“I like the Brotherhood most, and they like me,” said Sally Moore, a 32-year-old psychiatrist, a Coptic Christian and an avowed leftist and feminist of mixed Irish-Egyptian roots. “They always have a hidden agenda, we know, and you never know when power comes how they will behave. But they are very good with organizing, they are calling for a civil state just like everyone else, so let them have a political party just like everyone else — they will not win more than 10 percent, I think.”

Many in the circle, in fact, met during their university days. Islam Lotfi, a lawyer who is a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Youth, said his group used to enlist others from the tiny leftist parties to stand with them in calling for civil liberties, to make their cause seem more universal. Many are now allies in the revolt, including Zyad el-Elaimy, a 30-year-old lawyer who was then the leader of a communist group.

Mr. Elaimy, who was imprisoned four times and suffered multiple broken limbs from torture for his political work, now works as an assistant to Mohamed ElBaradei, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the International Atomic Energy Agency. In turn, his group built ties to other young organizers like Ms. Moore.

The seeds of the revolt were planted around the time of the uprising in Tunisia, when Walid Rachid, 27, a liaison from an online group called the April 6 Movement, sent a note to the anonymous administrator of an anti-torture Facebook page asking for “marketing help” with a day of protest on Jan. 25, Mr. Rachid recalled. He wondered why the administrator would communicate only by Google instant message. In fact, it was someone he already knew: Mr. Ghonim, the Google executive.

The day of the protest, the group tried a feint to throw off the police. The organizers let it be known that they intended to gather at a mosque in an upscale neighborhood in central Cairo, and the police gathered there in force. But the organizers set out instead for a poor neighborhood nearby, Mr. Elaimy recalled.

Starting in a poor neighborhood was itself an experiment. “We always start from the elite, with the same faces,” Mr. Lotfi said. “So this time we thought, let’s try.”
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Re: Wired and Shrewd, Young Egyptians Guide Revolt

Post by Joe Bese on Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:20 pm

If the Times is too liberal for you, here is the Wall Street Journal's version.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704132204576135882356532702.html?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTTopStories

Egyptians Share Secrets of Uprising

CAIRO—The Egyptian opposition's takeover of the area around the parliament this week began with a trick.

First, they called for a march on the state television building a few blocks north of their encampment in Tahrir Square. Then, while the army deployed to that sensitive communications hub, they moved into the lightly defended area around the parliament to the south.

The feint gave a taste of how a dozen young activists managed to outwit Egypt's feared security forces to launch a historic uprising now in its 17th day—and hint at how the organizers hope to keep pressure on a regime that has dug in its heels.

On Jan. 25, the first day of protests, the organizers had a trick up their sleeves in the impoverished slum of Bulaq al-Dakrour, on Cairo's western edge.

There amid the maze of muddy, narrow alleyways, a seemingly spontaneous protest caught security forces on their heels and swelled in size before those forces could react to crush it.

That protest was anything but spontaneous. How the organizers pulled it off, when so many past efforts had failed, has had people scratching their heads ever since.

After his release from detention on Sunday, Google Inc. executive Wael Ghonim recounted his meeting with Egyptian's newly appointed interior minister. "No one understood how you did it," Mr. Ghonim said the minister told him. He said his interrogators concluded there had to have been outside forces involved.

The plotters, who now form the leadership core of the Revolutionary Youth Movement, which has stepped to the fore as representatives of protestors in Tahrir Square, have shared their secret in recent days for the first time.

Their accounts reveal a core of savvy plotters who have managed to stay a step ahead of the security forces with decoy marches and smart politicking that has sustained popular support for their protests.

In early January, when they decided they would try to replicate the accomplishments of the protesters in Tunisia who ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, their immediate concern was how to outfox the Ministry of Interior, whose legions of riot police had managed to contain and quash protests for years. The police were expert at preventing demonstrations from growing or moving through the streets, and at keeping ordinary Egyptians away.
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Re: Wired and Shrewd, Young Egyptians Guide Revolt

Post by Guest on Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:07 pm

Great documentary of the April 6th Movement, its activities over the course of this revolution.

http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/peopleandpower/2011/02/201128145549829916.html

hi quality pics

http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2011/02/three-weeks-in-egypt/6/

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