Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only ask one time of year, but when we do, we mean it. Without your support we can’t continue to bring you the very best material, day-in and day-out. CounterPunch is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. Help make sure it stays that way.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Mubarak’s Goon Squads

by ROBERT FISK

The Independent

Egyptian plain-clothes police beat up demonstrators in central Cairo – in some cases groping women protesters – as Egyptians voted over constitutional changes that would theoretically allow more than one candidate to stand for president.

But yesterday’s street protests, brutally suppressed by the security services, were held to condemn the referendum on the changes, which will insist that anyone wanting to stand against President Hosni Mubarak must have the support of 250 MPs and local councils, all dominated by Mr Mubarak’s own National Democratic Party (NDP), before being permitted to participate in the elections. So much for democracy in Egypt.

President George Bush has claimed that the electoral changes are part of a tide of democracy spreading across the Middle East and his wife Laura, visiting Egypt this week, went along with the official Mubarak line. The President’s changes in the constitution were “bold and wise,” she said, adding that political reform should happen slowly. But slow is not the word for it. If 51 per cent of Egypt’s 32.5 million registered voters support the changes in the referendum – which, of course, they will – then Mr Mubarak, we are to believe, may not be alone in standing for presidential election. Yet who will be nominated to oppose him when the NDP calls the shots?

Wednesday’s disgraceful scenes in Cairo, however, showed only too clearly what the government thinks of democracy – either the Bush or the Mubarak version. The policeattacked opposition demonstrators in front of tourists and journalists or stood aside to let pro-Mubarak mobs assault the protesters, watching from the side of the street as Egyptian citizens assaulted Egyptian citizens. Members of the opposition Kifaya movement – it means “Enough!” in English – sought protection from the Cairo police but a senior officer ordered his men to withdraw and leave the protesters to their fate.

When a woman tried to leave the temporary refuge of the press syndicate building in Cairo, she was punched and beaten with batons by pro-Mubarak party men who also tore her clothes. Screaming and vomiting, she collapsed in the street, according to a journalist witness from the Associated Press. Again, the police looked on without interfering. Some plain-clothes police beat, abused and sexually groped women demonstrators.

Only a day earlier, police arrested 17 people from opposition groups, adding to the sense of outrage felt by those Egyptians who regard the referendum as a sham. “The regime is still following the dictatorial and repressive methods towards the Egyptian people and opposition,” Mohamed Habib, the deputy leader of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood said. Gameela Ismail, a spokesman for the Ghad “Tomorrow” Party – she is the wife of the party’s leader, Ayman Noor – condemned Laura Bush for her support for Mubarak. “What she said is really frustrating for most opposition forces in Egypt,” she said. “She seems not to know enough about Egypt. I’m really amazed.”

The Kifaya Party’s spokesman, Abdul Hamid Qandil, reported that two of his members were hurt. “This is the first time this sort of beating and humiliation has taken place here in Cairo,” he said, pointing out that it was a common practice outside Cairo where there were no reporters or television cameras. In the countryside – in areas such as the city of Sohag – many voters said they would suffer “penalties” if they did not vote. In al-Arish on the coast, government-appointed school directors ordered their staff to vote; buses carried government employees into Cairo to participate – and to vote for the “changes”.

Mr Mubarak has been in power since President Sadat’s assassination in 1981, re-elected every six years in single candidate referendums. Government newspapers and television have given little publicity to possible opposition candidates, who will inevitably be turned down by the MPs and councils whose support they must have. Some Egyptians believe – despite his denials – that Mr Mubarak wants his son Gamal to succeed him in six years’ time; in which case, of course, the NDP would support his candidacy and he could – mirabile dictu – beat his father in the polls.

By continuing Egypt’s state of emergency, Mubarak has effectively neutered the opposition, thus forcing Egyptians to meet in mosques – and strengthening the hands of the theocrats. Like so many other Arab dictators, he has then been able to frighten the Americans into believing that the only alternative to his rule might be an Islamic republic.

ROBERT FISK is a reporter for The Independent and author of Pity the Nation. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch’s collection, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. Fisk’s new book, The Conquest of the Middle East, will be released this fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Fisk writes for the Independent, where this column originally appeared. 

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
David Swanson
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
Ralph Nader
Are You Ready for Democracy?
Chris Martenson
Hell to Pay
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Debate Night: Undecided is Everything, Advantage Trump
Frank X Murphy
Power & Struggle: the Detroit Literacy Case
Chris Knight
The Tom and Noam Show: a Review of Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom of Speech”
Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail