The Sound and the Fury — and the Tweet

Video: Protesters spoke out at the Nigerian embassy in Washington, D.C. to express their disappointment in the Nigerian government after an extremist group kidnapped nearly 300 girls on April 15th

For The Washington PostCharles Krauthammer writes: Mass schoolgirl kidnapping in Nigeria — to tweet or not to tweet? Is hashtagging one’s indignation about some outrage abroad an exercise in moral narcissism or a worthy new way of standing up to bad guys?John Shinkle/POLITICO

“As always, however, we tend to romanticize the power of the tweet…”

The answer seems rather simple. It depends on whether you have the power to do something about the outrage in question. If you do, as in the case of the Obama administration watching Russia’s slow-motion dismemberment of Ukraine, it’s simply embarrassing when the State Department spokeswoman tweets the hashtag #UnitedForUkraine.

“…Try it at Tahrir or Tiananmen, in Damascus or Tehran. They will shoot and torture you, then maybe even let you keep your precious smartphone.”

That is nothing but preening, a visual recapitulation of her boss’s rhetorical fatuousness when he sternly warns that if the rape of this U.S. friend continues, we are prepared to consider standing together with the “international community” to decry such indecorous behavior — or some such.

[Read more: Will: I Can’t Believe Adults Use Hashtag Foreign Policy, ‘An Exercise in Self-Esteem’]

When a superpower, with multiple means at its disposal, reverts to rhetorical emptiness and hashtag activism, it has betrayed both its impotence and indifference. But if you’re an individual citizen without power, if you lack access to media, drones or special forces, then hashtagging your solidarity with the aggrieved is a fine gesture and perhaps even more. Read the rest of this entry »

Oscar-Worthy Documentary Shows How Egypt’s Revolution Fell Apart

 writes: When it happened, Egypt’s February 2011 revolution seemed an epochal global event. If Cairo was not the birthplace of the Arab Spring, it was its apogee. The people of the Arab world’s most populous, most important nation, long oppressed, had finally found their voice. Braving bullets, tanks and tear gas, they overthrew the entrenched dictatorship of three-decade President Hosni Mubarak. The whole planet watched a jubilant Tahir Square explode with fireworks and celebration, while the international media hailed the advent of democracy and people power in a part of the world where both were conspicuously lacking.

But, as we all know now, Mubarak’s exit marked only a fleeting victory. In the near three years since, Egypt has lurched from crisis to crisis, antagonism to antagonism, each time punctuated by mass protests in Tahrir Square, a traffic roundabout that has come to symbolize both the dreams and the failures of the Revolution. This summer, many of the same revolutionaries who gathered at Tahrir in 2011, calling for the downfall of Mubarak, returned to cheer in elements of his old regime as the military removed the democratically-elected Islamist government of divisive President Mohamed Morsi. In August, a bloody crackdown on pro-Morsi demonstrators led to hundreds of deaths. The turmoil has effectively brought the revolution back full circle. Some commentators fear the counter-revolution has already won.

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There Are Two Egypts and They Hate Each Other

 Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters Protesters throw stones during a clash between supporters and opponents of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, at Ramsis square, which leads to Tahrir Square, in Cairo October 6, 2013.

Protesters throw stones during a clash between supporters and opponents of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, at Ramsis square, which leads to Tahrir Square, in Cairo October 6, 2013.

 reports: Egypt’s latest spasm of violence over the weekend—which led to at least 57 deaths and 400 injured—confirmed the troubled nation’s new reality: The emergence of two distinct, opposed Egypts that hate each other.

One Egypt is in the ascendant—that of a nationalist, pro-military populace that has nothing but contempt for the country’s Islamists, represented chiefly by the Muslim Brotherhood. The Egypt of the Brotherhood is reeling and embittered: it has seen its democratically-elected President ousted by the military this July and its supporters gunned down in the streets. But it’s showing no sign of backing down. Read the rest of this entry »

[VIDEO] At least 50 killed, over 200 wounded as Egypt protests turn violent

Egyptian celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the Arab-Israeli War were marred by a fresh wave of violence, with at least 50 people killed and over 200 wounded in clashes between police and supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.

RT’s Arabic team also got caught in the turmoil in Cairo, with producer Ahmad al-Ashqar getting injured in the right leg in Giza’s Dokki district.

At least 50 people were killed and 268 others injured across Egypt, AFP cited senior health ministry official Ahmed al-Ansari as saying. At least 45 individuals were killed in Cairo and another five south of the capital, according to the official. Read the rest of this entry »

Egyptian Filmmaker Blasts Muslim Brotherhood

Double Dutch Intl. sold Ibrahim El-Batout's 'Winter of Discontent' to HBO Europe at the Venice market

With the country in turmoil, the Egyptian presence at Venice is small this year. The notable exception being multi-hyphenate Amr Waked, who is on the Lido wearing two hats despite what he claims is the Muslim Brotherhood’s best attempts to keep him home in Cairo.

“They sent a message to the festival organizers here saying that I am a supporter of what they claim is a bloody coup,” alleges Waked, known internationally for thesping turns in “Syriana” and “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.” He is not only on the Horizons jury but also on the Lido as producer of “The Cat,” screening in the Venice Film Market’s Final Cut workshop.

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Egypt: we may despise the Muslim Brotherhood, but a coup is a coup

Europe and the US need to accept that the Muslim Brotherhood may be foul, but it did not abolish democracy

Anti-Morsi protesters in Tahrir square

Anti-Morsi protesters in Tahrir square in July 2013, before the Egyptian army massacres. Photograph: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

When a state massacres 600 demonstrators, it is not just its own citizens it murders. It also kills the possibility of compromise. The perpetrators mean you to understand that there can be no going back. When they kill, they are well aware that they are shedding too much blood for normal politics to kick in and allow differences to be patched up and deals made.

The killers have the swagger of gangsters. “We know,” they seem to say, “that we are breaking all the basic standards of civilised behaviour. We know people will hate us until the day we die for what we have done today. But do you know what? We don’t care.”

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Sexual Assaults Rampant During Egypts Anti-Morsi Protests

As millions of Egyptians protest to demand President Mohammed Morsi’s removal, sexual assaults and attempted sexual assaults are ubiquitous.

According to the AP, a “vigilante group” that has formed to protect women reported 46 attempted sexual assaults on June 30 alone.

Attacks on women in Tahrir Square have steadily increased since Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011. And now the assaults have reached a level where the protests aimed at Morsi’s ouster have become a target-rich environment for men who wish to assault women.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that a Dutch journalist was raped by five men in Tahrir Square on June 28. That journalist “is believed to have undergone surgery for the horrific injuries sustained during the attack.”

Mothers, grandmothers, and even 7-year old girls have been targeted for assault during the protests as well.

Watch groups like “Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment” are urging females to avoid going to the protests until some semblance of order can be restored.


Egyptian artists fear for their future in cultural backlash after Arab spring

Leading Middle Eastern cultural figures and academics have warned that the arts of the Arab spring are under threat because of increasing violence, censorship and lack of political vision.

The popular perception that the region is experiencing unprecedented freedom of expression is “simplistic and misleading”, with many artists “wary of the increasingly violent nature of the Arab spring”, according to a study for the British Council by the postwar reconstruction and development unit at York University. The report, Out in the Open: Artistic Practices and Social Change in Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia, found that the system of strict government censorship that has existed for decades is “largely still in place”.

While artists have become emboldened by the 2011 uprisings, many were struggling to deal with the new political landscape amid worrying signs of a wave of political and religious censorship, said lead researcher Professor Sultan Barakat.

In Egypt, which held the second round of its constitutional referendum yesterday, and Tunisia, the predominant fear was the rise of political Islam, ranging from new moderate Islamist governments, whose policies are unclear, to ultra-conservative Salafis, who have attacked cinemas and artists.

“I think we are at a brink point. The Muslim majority [in Egypt] could just react and suppress artistic expression even more than Hosni Mubarak,” Barakat said. The Egyptian playwright Ahmed el-Attar said: “I’m afraid the country is sliding towards fascism. So far culture has been kept on the side. The Muslim Brotherhood don’t yet have a cultural agenda. They’re talking about focusing on historical Islamic figures. I’m not sure that applies to the Salafis, who question the notion of art itself.”

Karim el-Shennawy, a film-maker who protested in Tahrir Square, said: “A lot of things have been stopped and censored. This can get worse. There’s a lot of voices attacking directors and actors, accusing them of filling the mind of the new generation with inappropriate issues and images. One actress was accused of doing prostitution on screen.”

The report said some established cultural figures have become marginalised because they were regarded as too close to the fallen dictatorships, such as the Egyptian comedy actor who was criticised for being slow to criticise Mubarak and after the fall of the regime faced a charge of insulting Islam in his films…

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Violence in Tahrir Square: Not What Democracy Looks Like

THIS IS NOT WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE: Take a look at this disturbing and tense video of mob violence in Cairo when Islamists and secular activists effectively went to war with each other in Tahrir Square. There are no cops in this video, nor are there any women. (Thanks to Jeffrey Goldberg and MEMRI.)

Instapundit » disturbing and tense video of mob violence….