Thursday, May 18, 2006

O Israel-Boycotting British Academics, O Campus Activists, Where art Thou?

From the Lebanon Daily Star, Friday, May 19, 2006:

Cairo gets brutal with opposition demonstrators

Egyptian security forces clubbed demonstrators in the streets on Thursday and a court rejected an appeal against a jail term by a former election challenger to President Hosni Mubarak in twin blows to the opposition. Plainclothes security men beat and kicked protesters rallying in support of judicial independence in Cairo, while Egypt's highest appeal court threw out the appeal by jailed opposition leader Ayman Nour.

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack described the court's decision as a deeply troubling "miscarriage of justice" by one of Washington's key Middle East allies.

Reuters, 15 May 2006
Egypt: Police Assault Demonstrators, Journalists
(New York, May 13, 2006) � Thousands of Egyptian security forces sealed off much of downtown Cairo on Thursday and violently attacked protestors attempting to demonstrate in support of reformist judges, Human Rights Watch said today.


Abir al-'Askari, a writer for the weekly al-Dustour, told Human Rights Watch her paper had asked her to cover the demonstrations and the disciplinary hearing at the High Court. She arrived at 8 a.m. to meet with a group that had spent the night at the Lawyers' Syndicate:

I was just getting out of the taxi when five or six men ran up to me, carried me from the cab and took me to where the Central Security trucks and blue police microbuses were parked, at the corner of 'Abd al-Khaliq Tharwat and Ramsis streets. They beat me, put me in a police microbus, and drove me to Sayyida Zeinab police station. I screamed and resisted, and they beat me, pulled my hair and my veil. Right in front of the police station they kicked me. When people gathered and told them to stop they replied, "She's been committing adultery." They took me inside to a room where the officer claimed they sexually harassed [she named three Kifaya activist women arrested earlier in the week]. They took my purse and copied the messages and numbers from my phone. "Nobody will know where you are," the officer said. "You are lost." They tore at my clothes; my shirt buttons. They continued to slap and punch me �. I was lying on the floor. He placed his shoe on my face and said, "Anyone who comes here will get the same treatment." I was there about three hours. Finally they took me in the microbus to Corniche near the Kasr al-Aini hospital and left me; I didn't have my phone or my purse, and my clothes were torn. I had a little money in my pocket, so I went into a shop and called the deputy editor who sent some colleagues to pick me up


Derek said...

It's funny that I made my comment to your last entry before I read this one.

I wonder if this double standard stems from a low racist view that Arabs just aren't capable of a liberal society, while Jews "should know better."

I mean, we (USA) even support Egypt nearly as much as we do Israel...

Amos said...

How long until this regime falls? And what then?

Derek said...

taken from the weekly standard (

The pattern is plain: Over and over again, perceived abuses by Western societies--colonialism, the Vietnam war--are revisited in conversation and thought until they are part of our mental furniture. What happens to the crimes of others is very different. Some of them get sucked down the memory hole. Those of us of a certain age remember that the very independent Idi Amin was far worse, but it is Joseph Mobutu--portrayed as a U.S. ally, if not puppet--who has emerged as the durable symbol of abusive African rule.

More often, crimes committed by non-Westerners are blamed on Westerners. As in: America provided Saddam with chemical weapons; Palestinians mimic Israeli brutality; the Khmer Rouge was driven to madness by U.S. bombing. It was Belgian colonialism that taught Rwandan Hutu génocidaires to be tribal and to kill. And the CIA created Osama bin Laden, while U.S. excesses created his followers.

The soft bigotry here is not of low expectations but of no expectations. This suggests that only Westerners have moral agency. To deny a person the capacity to initiate evil is to deny them the capacity to initiate good, or anything in between.

The result is a vicious cycle in which many educated people engage easily with the storylines they already know, and are unsure what to do with the unfamiliar. Most infamously, members of the world's intellectual and journalistic classes have a habit of not denying Communist atrocities but of knowing almost no details about them and never volunteering the topic.