Despite the sample headline I just made up, I don't want to whip up emotions. I think of myself as more informed than most Americans. But that's not necessarily saying much! I look forward to informative comments, low on emotion, but it's okay to point out where emotions make news and shape events.

I didn't know where to start wrt events in Egypt. I'm happy so far to see different perspectives at this point presented on mainstream media, but this is still before American politics and sentiment gains critical mass (in whatever form) and begin to focus more. There is enough "news" at the moment to keep journalists busy, and fortunately I'm not yet seeing a lot of foolish speculation. But I just saw a reporter hold up a used canister of tear gas with "Made in the U.S.A." clearly printed on it, evidence of where some protesters in Egypt might be getting some of their preconceptions or valid sentiments.

My paltry understanding of Egyption and Muslim culture and sentiments (in general) comes partly from liberal media (Frontline, I think?) pointing out how Hosni Mubarak may be at least partly responsible for the rise of Hamas and Al Qaeda. In spite of his goal to suppress radical Muslim movements in the name of secularist government and population control, the suppressed radicals came together as viable forces, even in pre-Mubarak prisons that Mubarak has not reformed. (President Sadat who preceded Mubarak was assasinated by fundamentalists.) His domestically powerful Egyptian military has successfully maintained order and control, up until now. But now, people have taken to the streets in protest. There is something like 40% unemployment in the lower classes, who are also demographically youthful, and restless.

Ironically (at least at this point), reports are that the military and people in the streets are practically embracing each other, peacefully. Is the military pragmatically preparing for an end to 82-year old Mubarak's reign? Is it true that the military doesn't like or trust Mubarak's son, who may succeed in power? Has the pro-radicalist Muslim Brotherhood had influence in the protests, and how might they help shape a street level, so-called "democratic" movement?

So far today I've seen FOX and MSNBC add the most historical perspective, while CNN is focusing more on events in the street. (I do enjoy the rare moments when a FOX news contributor contributes something that argues against a point that a FOX "reporter" is trying to make. FOX often has more news meat in stories than other mainstream news. I can often learn from FOX's perspective, despite that most of their "reporters" play roles of conservative cheer leaders. But you know, MSNBC and their loyal audience have their blinding biases, too.)

Finally, this may be too much to add to include, but I'm wondering about how social media is and will affect dissemination and validation of information, and governance and movements.

Can anyone add any insightful history or cultural knowledge, here?

 

 

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Asst Sec of State PJ Crowley's tweets (for example):

There is a concerted campaign to intimidate international journalists in  and interfere with their reporting. We condemn such actions.

FOX anchor Megyn Kelly is alternating today between whipping up fear of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and letting her guests emphasize urgency for immediate regime change:

"...they say that the Muslim Brotherhood right now is the only group that's organized well enough to actually step in and fill that vacuum. And the Muslim Brotherhood--this is from one of their top members the other day--saying, quote, The people should be prepared for war against Israel [unquote]; now if that's the group--and by the way he wants to shut down the Suez Canal, which affects oil and the United States, and so on--so if this man actually speaks for the Muslim Brotherhood (a group that does not like the United States and Israel!), and that's the only group that can fill the vacuum, shouldn't the administration be pushing against having Mubarek go right away?"

It seems that the Mubarek regime has miscalculated the effects of their strategy to incite and organize and then highlight chaos in the streets. It seems they've even been desperate enough to encourage (or at least not discourage) violence against journalists. The world and America will only turn more against him. Mubarek currently plans to last until September, but he could lose control much sooner.

Meanwhile, news of Egypt could be even more significant in the larger context of middle-east politics and religion. For example, news today in Jordan:

King Abdullah II, struggling to stave off growing public discontent, widened his political outreach on Thursday and met with the Muslim Brotherhood for the first time in nearly a decade.

 

From Scott Keyes at ThinkProgress.org: 

Frank Gaffney: Muslim Brotherhood Is Waging ‘An Influence Operati...

Yesterday, ThinkProgress reported on leading neoconservative Frank Gaffney and his claim that the Muslim Brotherhood has already “infiltrated†the United States government. Appearing on Fox News last night, Gaffney took his Muslim Brotherhood fearmongering even further.

During Hannity last night on Fox, Gaffney reiterated his extraordinary claim that the federal government was already being manipulated by the Muslim Brotherhood, who he alleged was giving surreptitious advice to the Obama administration. The problem went even further, according to Gaffney. The Muslim Brotherhood was currently waging “an influence operation against the conservative movement†as well.

Assuming the role of a modern-day Paul Revere, Gaffney yesterday tried to “warn†a group of “senior conservative leaders†about the ongoing threat of an Islamist takeover of the conservative movement. Yet according to Gaffney, “They don’t want to hear it either! This is endemicâ€:

GAFFNEY: What is going on here in part is that the Obama administration’s policies are being viewed through and actually articulated and now implemented through influence operations that the Muslim Brotherhood is running in our own country. It’s really extraordinary. The Justice Department has prosecuted some of these guys and the Obama administration – and for that matter the Bush administration before it – has been reaching out to some of these same organizations. You cannot possibly get your strategy right, you cannot execute it effectively if you don’t know that the enemy is actually giving you advice on how to proceed. I have to tell you, just this afternoon, I had a confidential meeting with some senior conservative leaders to warn them about an influence operation against the conservative movement. They don’t want to hear it either! This is endemic. We will not get this right if we don’t understood the Muslim Brotherhood there and here is the enemy.


When even today’s conservatives find Gaffney’s claims laughable, it does not bode well for his one-man campaign against Muslim Brotherhood infiltration in the United States.

 

Hundreds of photos from MSNBC over 2 weeks, so far.

 

Here are a few.


Egyptian protestors pray in Cairo's Tahrir Square, Feb. 1.

 



A man suspected of being in the government security forces is roughly handled after being captured by anti-government protesters in Tahrir Square on Feb. 3. Anti-government groups have captured dozens of Egyptians they allege are police or intelligence officers trying to blend in with anti-government protesters.

 




Egyptian protester shouts anti-Mubarak slogans during a protest in the Mediterranean sea city of Alexandria, Egypt, Feb. 4.

 

Here are some excerpts from Time Magazine's cover story.


How Democracy Can Work in the Middle East

 

Having allowed somewhat more open parliamentary elections in 2005, the [Egyptian] regime reversed course and rigged the elections massively in 2010, reducing the Muslim Brotherhood's representation in parliament from 88 to zero. Ayman Nour, who ran against Mubarak in the presidential election in 2005, was arrested on trumped-up charges, jailed, tortured and finally released in 2009. Mubarak had allowed some freedom of speech and assembly surrounding the 2005 elections, then reversed what little opening there had been. Judges and lawyers who stood up to the regime were persecuted.

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...When the Pew Research Center surveyed the Arab world last April, it found that Egyptians have views that would strike the modern Western eye as extreme. Pew found that 82% of Egyptians support stoning as a punishment for adultery, 84% favor the death penalty for Muslims who leave the religion, and in the struggle between "modernizers" and "fundamentalists," 59% identify with fundamentalists.

That's enough to make one worry about the rise of an Iranian-style regime. Except that this is not all the Pew surveys show. A 2007 poll found that 90% of Egyptians support freedom of religion, 88% an impartial judiciary and 80% free speech; 75% are opposed to censorship, and, according to the 2010 report, a large majority believes that democracy is preferable to any other kind of government.

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(I have a question about how 90% support freedom of religion jives with 84% support death penalty for Muslims who leave the religion.)

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The real challenge remains the role of Islam, Islamic fundamentalists and the Muslim Brotherhood. Islam has a special appeal in Egypt and the broader Arab world, but it's important to understand why. Secular dictators have ruled these lands for decades and ruthlessly suppressed all political activity. The one place they could not shut down was the mosque, so it became the center of political activism and discourse, and Islam became the language of opposition.

This is not to deny that for many Egyptians, "Islam is the solution," as the Muslim Brotherhood's slogan claims. But the group has an allure in Egyptian society largely because it has been persecuted and banned for decades.

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The real challenge remains the role of Islam, Islamic fundamentalists and the Muslim Brotherhood. Islam has a special appeal in Egypt and the broader Arab world, but it's important to understand why. Secular dictators have ruled these lands for decades and ruthlessly suppressed all political activity. The one place they could not shut down was the mosque, so it became the center of political activism and discourse, and Islam became the language of opposition.

.

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If the U.S. is opposed to every expression of religiosity, it will find itself unable to understand or work with a new, more democratic Middle East. 

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U.S. President Obama To Take Charge of Egyptian Transition

TA News Network, Feb 10, 2011 1:30pm ET



In an unprecedented (even historic) move, President Barack Obama announced while ordering a sandwich today at a deli that he would be taking over as President of Egypt "until transition of power has been accomplished in an orderly transition, indeed a transition that will enable the people currently chanting and dancing in Tahrir Square to take a long anticipated potty break".

Outgoing White House spokesman Andy Gibbs, also present after receiving his Philly Cheesesteak & soup & crackers & salad special combination immediately stepped in with his own comment, even before President Obama had finished his sentence. According to Gibbs, "... the president and I have been repeatedly disappointed by the evidence of lack of interest in this momentous transition of power in the Middle East, and have decided to take matters into our own hands".

When asked for further details, both the President and Gibbs quickly stated mostly in unison "let's talk later folks, can't you see we are eating lunch right now".

President Obama To Speak To Kenyans About Plans For Egypt and Region

TA News Network (SEO Division), Feb 10, 2011 3:00pm ET

 

A secretary at the office of the White House Press Secretary has confirmed that U.S. President Barack Obama was indeed flown to Egypt, and has prepared a speech that will be timed to occur immediately after President Mubarak's (expected) resignation speech. "The President has been safely transported and dropped at the top of a pyramid at a secret location. We have taken extra safety precautions, to become obvious as soon as we get the camera lenses and angles aimed properly. We also have interpreters and translators in place, ready to convey President Obama's Islamic native language words into the five most significant languages of the African continent."

President Obama was last heard over a long-range wireless microphone rehearsing his speech in uncharacteristically sounding foreign words, sounding very much like some kind of Muslim mother tongue. Shortly after yelling the phrase "Allahu Akbar", the President was overheard thanking (in English) the Egyptian military for "transporting the pyramid in one piece to my native Kenya, removing the painful point from its apex, and presenting me with this custom made, Guantanamo-orange colored military jumpsuit and parachute".

 

Tonight on Charlie Rose: February 10, 2011


Charlie Rose reports from Cairo with Max Rodenbeck of ' The Economist,' David Kirkpatrick of 'The New York Times,' Mona El-Naggar of 'The New York Times,' and Tom Friedman of 'The New York Times.'

 

www.charlierose.com

Become a fan of Charlie on Facebook: www.facebook.com/charlierose

Follow Charlie on Twitter: www.twitter.com/charlierose

 

[...Google's] Wael Ghonim Thanks The Social Network

Shortly after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek stepped down from power on Friday, activist Wael Ghonim spoke with CNN's Wolf Blitzer and credited Facebook with the success of the Egyptian people's uprising.

Ghonim, a marketing manager for Google, played a key role in organizing the January 25 protest by reaching out to Egyptian youths on Facebook. Shortly after that first protest, Ghonim was arrested in Cairo and imprisoned for 12 days.

Since his release, Ghonim has become a symbol for the Egyptian movement, although he has rejected this notion. "I'm not a hero. I was writing on a keyboard on the Internet and I wasn't exposing my life to danger," he said in an interview immediately after his release. "The heroes are the one who are in the street."

 

(continues...)

 

Tonight on Charlie Rose:

February 11, 2011
Tonight on this very historic day Charlie Rose reports from Cairo with Roger Cohen of 'The New York Times,' Hafez al-Mirazi of The American University in Cairo, Emad Shahin of Notre Dame & protester Aly Alah.
www.charlierose.com

Become a fan of Charlie on Facebook: www.facebook.com/charlierose

Follow Charlie on Twitter: www.twitter.com/charlierose


In case anyone's noticed, I've given up on this thread due to lack of interest (or what?).

I recommend moving on now, and reading e.g. another TA discussion about the newest, highly significant (if not historic) events in Libya.

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