Egypt Feb1 2011 from Military Resistance

Egypt’s Revolution, Feb. 1, 2011—Some First-Hand Reports

[The following items are reprinted from the online publication “Military Resistance,” volume 9B, issue 2. See <militaryproject.org>]

The Hot Breath Of The Revolution Begins To Melt The Discipline Of The Army

Cairo: Credit: Mohammed Omer; Copyright IPS

Festival Of The Oppressed 2011:

“A Revolution Of The People, Not The Parties” “No To The Brotherhood, No To The Parties”

“The Opposition Has Been Overwhelmed By The Pace And Scale Of The Uprising”

“You Feel Like Everyone Is Walking On His Own, Speaking For Himself, Because There’s No Group That Represents Us”

Cairo

The largest crowd in a week of protests packs Cairo’s Tahrir Square. (Reuters TV / February 1, 2011)

In a sun-baked square, that sense of empowerment has radiated across the downtown, where volunteers passed out free wafers, tea and cake. Youths swept streets, organized security and checked identification at checkpoints in a show of popular mobilization that any transitional government will at least have to acknowledge.

January 31, 2011 By ANTHONY SHADID, The New York Times Company [Excerpts]

The defiance of Mr. Mubarak’s government only grew Monday, as the protests in the sprawling square swelled from hundreds before dawn to tens of thousands by dusk. Mothers hoisted children on their shoulders shouting the refrain of this revolt: “The people want the fall of the government!”

“We don’t want ElBaradei or the Muslim Brotherhood, and we don’t want the ruling party,” said Mohammed Nagi, a 30-year-old protester.

“You feel like everyone is walking on his own, speaking for himself, because there’s no group that represents us.”

In short, he said, “We don’t want what we have.”

“People are learning that the yearning for freedom, for dignity, for justice and for employment is a legitimate ambition,” said Sateh Noureddine, a prominent Lebanese columnist. “This is a historic moment, and it is teaching the Arab world everything. They are learning that if they take to the streets they can accomplish their goals.”

In the carnivalesque atmosphere of Tahrir Square, also known as Liberation Square, protesters speak in the superlatives of rebellion, echoing sentiments pronounced across the region.

“Revolution on the Nile,” read the headline Monday in Al Akhbar, a leftist Lebanese newspaper.

“A mummy wrestles with the living.”

But even the most sober speak about the transformation that an only week-old uprising has had on a people so long treated as subjects, not citizens, by a state that saw elections as a scripted exercise in affirmation.

In the face of looting and arson, neighborhoods organized into popular defense committees, including young men armed with everything from horsewhips to the hoses of water pipes.

Though they coordinated with the army, they managed to secure, largely on their own, block after block in the wake of the utter collapse of police authority on Saturday.

“The popular committee protected us better than the police did,” said Mohammed Maqboul, a lawyer in the square. “Twenty-four hours a day, they guarded our streets.”

In a sun-baked square, that sense of empowerment has radiated across the downtown, where volunteers passed out free wafers, tea and cake. Youths swept streets, organized security and checked identification at checkpoints in a show of popular mobilization that any transitional government will at least have to acknowledge.

“For the first time, people feel like they belong to this place,” said Selma al-Tarzi, a 33-year-old film director.

“We need patience,” shouted Atef Ammar, a lawyer who argued with protesters. “The result of this democracy you brought is to impose the thugs and looting on us.”

“You’re with the regime!” one protester accused him.

“Why can’t we wait?” he replied. “We don’t want the country to collapse.”

Men started shouting at him, pushing and shoving.

“The entire system has to go,” yelled Mustafa Ali, a protester. “Not just Mubarak!”

Indeed, the opposition, along with virtually every representative of civil society here, has been overwhelmed by the pace and scale of the uprising.

Youthful organizers have sought to push forth the protests, joining older opposition figures who hope to negotiate with the government, but many of them admit their influence on the crowds is negligible.

“I feel like ElBaradei is not an Egyptian,” declared one protester, Seraggedin Abu Rawash. “He lived his whole life abroad, and now he’s trying to ride the revolution.”

Mr. Rawash, a 21-year-old engineer, is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has assumed a far more prominent role in the protests since Sunday, organizing prayers in the square and largely keeping to themselves.

“No to the Brotherhood, no to the parties,” one chant went Monday. “Revolution, of the youth.” A banner read, “A revolution of the people, not the parties.”

For now, one of the most spectacular popular movements in Egypt’s history is counting on the energy of the street, even as the government opened the door to negotiations.

“If the youth continue to take to the street when they feel the revolution is going to be taken away from them, I have no worries about the regime, the army or the Brotherhood,” Mr. Abdel-Razeq said.

“If it means a better life, a better Egypt, a better job, they will.”

MORE:

“A Stunning And Jubilant Array Of Young And Old, Urban Poor And Middle Class Professionals, Mounting By Far The Largest Protest Yet In A Week”

“Soldiers At Checkpoints Set Up The Entrances Of The Square Did Nothing To Stop The Crowds From Entering”

“Tens Of Thousands Rallied In The Cities Of Alexandria, Suez And Mansoura, North Of Cairo, As Well As In The Southern Province Of Assiut And Luxor”

February 1, 2011: An effigy depicting President Hosni Mubarak hanging on a traffic light in Cairo. (AP) [Thanks to Mark Shapiro, Military Resistance Organization, who sent this in.]

February 1, 2011 By SARAH EL DEEB and HADEEL AL-SHALCHI, The Associated Press [Excerpts]

CAIRO -- More than a quarter-million people flooded Cairo’s main square Tuesday in a stunning and jubilant array of young and old, urban poor and middle class professionals, mounting by far the largest protest yet in a week of unrelenting demands for President Hosni Mubarak to leave after nearly 30 years in power.

The crowds - determined but peaceful - filled Tahrir, or Liberation, Square and spilled into nearby streets, among them people defying a government transportation shutdown to make their way from rural provinces in the Nile Delta.

Protesters jammed in shoulder-to-shoulder, with schoolteachers, farmers, unemployed university graduates, women in conservative headscarves and women in high heels, men in suits and working-class men in scuffed shoes.

They sang nationalist songs, danced, beat drums and chanted the anti-Mubarak slogan “Leave! Leave! Leave!” as military helicopters buzzed overhead.

Organizers said the aim was to intensify marches to get the president out of power by Friday, and similar demonstrations erupted in at least five other cities around Egypt.

Soldiers at checkpoints set up the entrances of the square did nothing to stop the crowds from entering.

The military promised on state TV Monday night that it would not fire on protesters answering a call for a million to demonstrate, a sign that army support for Mubarak may be unraveling as momentum builds for an extraordinary eruption of discontent and demands for democracy in the United States’ most important Arab ally.

“This is the end for him. It’s time,” said Musab Galal, a 23-year-old unemployed university graduate who came by minibus with his friends from the Nile Delta city of Menoufiya.

Protester volunteers wearing tags reading “the People’s Security” circulated through the crowds in the square, saying they were watching for government infiltrators who might try to instigate violence.

Authorities shut down all roads and public transportation to Cairo and in and out of other main cities, security officials said. Train services nationwide were suspended for a second day and all bus services between cities were halted.

Still, many from the provinces managed to make it to the square. Hamada Massoud, a 32-year-old a lawyer, said he and 50 others came in cars and minibuses from the impoverished province of Beni Sweif south of Cairo.

Tens of thousands rallied in the cities of Alexandria, Suez and Mansoura, north of Cairo, as well as in the southern province of Assiut and Luxor, the southern city where some 5,000 people protested outside an ancient Egyptian temple.

MORE:

“If I Die Now My Whole Family Will Be Proud Of Me”

Abdo, A 65-Year-Old Carpenter Wearing The Traditional Egyptian Galabeya Gown, Wants His Voice To Be Heard”

“I Need To Work Every Day To Live But I Left My Family And Work To Be Here, I Came Here To Say ‘No, Enough’”

“I Don’t Care Who Leads Egypt – Muslim, Christian Or Even Jewish – If He Has The Right Strategy For The Country”

[Thanks to Mark Shapiro, Military Resistance Organization, who sent this in.]

Feb 1, 2011 By Sapa-AFP [Excerpts]

“I will stay here till I die,” said Osama Allam as the grey Cairo dawn lifts on the biggest day of anger yet against the regime of President Hosni Mubarak, whose effigy hangs from nearby traffic lights.

Encircled by tanks and with troops filtering protesters streaming onto the square that has become the epicentre of a week of revolt, men, women and children brandish banners and cardboard signs demanding Mubarak go.

“Choose Mubarak regime or Egypt people,” read one sign in English as protesters nearby carry Mubarak’s mock coffin shoulder-high. Elsewhere on the square people chant slogans against Mubarak’s wife, Suzanne.

Abdo, a 65-year-old carpenter wearing the traditional Egyptian galabeya gown, wants his voice to be heard.

“I need to work every day to live but I left my family and work to be here, I came here to say ‘no, enough’“

Protesters read demands, daubed in large letters on a banner strung between lamp-posts.

“The immediate end to Mubarak’s rule; the trial of (former interior minister) Habib al-Adly; the establishment of a commission to amend the constitution; the dissolution of parliament and the formation of a transitional national salvation government.”

With at least 125 people dead in eight days of clashes between angry citizens and police, the crowd knows that more blood may be shed before their objectives are achieved.

“If I die now my whole family will be proud of me. This is what the Egyptian people need,” said Allam, but no one thinks the threat comes from the all-powerful armed forces.

“The people are the army and the army is the people,” he said.

Protesters are keen to dispel fears raised by some Western nations and Israel that the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood could try to move to fill a post-Mubarak power vacuum.

“Only one in 100 here is a Muslim Brother,” said engineer Mohammed Suleiman.

“Mubarak made the US and Europe afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood, he made them think they will take power but this is not true.”

They also dismiss rightwing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assertion that Egypt could turn into an Iranian-style Islamist regime.

“Israel is not Benjamin Netanyahu,” said one unnamed protester. “The Israeli people are like the Egyptian people, we want peace and freedom.

In what could prove a critical moment in Egypt’s popular uprising against Hosni Mubarak, the country’s army last night told demonstrators that their demands were “legitimate” and that troops “would not resort to the use of force against our great people”.

“The presence of the army in the streets is for your sake and to ensure your safety and wellbeing,” the statement said. “Your armed forces, who... are keen to assume their responsibility in protecting the nation and its citizens, affirm that freedom of expression through peaceful means is guaranteed to everybody.”

Suzanne Saleh, a British-educated 38-year-old mother of three, said that assumptions that the Muslim Brotherhood would win free elections were “just political propaganda for the West”.

She added: “I don’t care who leads Egypt – Muslim, Christian or even Jewish – if he has the right strategy for the country.”

Passing the demonstration, one woman said: “King Farouk left in one night. What’s happening here?”

MORE:

“I Brought My American Passport Today In Case I Die Today”

“I brought my American passport today in case I die today,” said Marwan Mossaad, 33, a graduate architecture student with dual Egyptian-American citizenship.

“I want the American people to know that they are supporting one of the most oppressive regimes in the world and Americans are also dying for it.” -- Quoted By David D. Kirkpatrick, January 31, 2011, The New York Times

MORE:

“‘There Have Been Many Clashes Between Bedouin Youth And The Security Forces,’ Says A Young Man”

“‘It Is A Revolution’ One Says Simply”

“The Youth Are Determined To Clear The Building Of Any Police Loyal To The Regime, And To Free All Prisoners”

 “A Few Minutes Later, Shooting Begins, Not Far Away. ‘It Will End Soon,’ The Young Man Says Calmly. He Seemed In No Doubt Who Would Prevail”

The police are rapidly leaving their posts, but some still appear in uniform. One uniformed policeman stands quietly to a side. He is in danger, he seems no danger to others at all.

What would he do if attacked? “Just take my uniform off and join the protest,” he tells IPS. “Or maybe just go over to the Palestinian side.”

Feb 1, 2011 By Mohammed Omer, IPS

A Bedouin youth casually spreads out a piece of cloth before a police headquarters in Sheikh Zwayyed town in Sinai, the vast desert area to the east of Cairo across the Suez.

“I will leave when Mubarak leaves,” he says.

He joins hundreds of others.

They have broken through into the police station already, and are now camping there to demand a change in government.

Most youth are Bedouin, originally a nomadic tribe in the desert, who’ve been fighting for their rights for years.

Over the last few days they feel they’re winning.

The police are rapidly leaving their posts, but some still appear in uniform. One uniformed policeman stands quietly to a side. He is in danger, he seems no danger to others at all.

What would he do if attacked? “Just take my uniform off and join the protest,” he tells IPS. “Or maybe just go over to the Palestinian side.”

A youth who gives his name as Hassan Washah has headed off towards Gaza already. To the tunnels underneath the Egyptian-Gaza border, and then in hope of heading home at last to the Buriej refugee camp in Gaza.

Washah had been in prison for years.

He was freed by a vast crowd of Bedouin youth who advanced on the jail where he had been kept with scores of others.

There was no resistance reported from the police and jail staff; many in fact were reported to have offered assistance.

Sinai is home to many prisons.

Countless prisoners have found sudden freedom – nobody seems to know what they were in jail for, and no one wants to ask.

New groups have taken charge, and it’s hard to say who these are. Several check-posts have been set up all the way between Cairo and Sinai. “Who are you,” says a man at one of these checkpoints. This IPS correspondent offers him his Palestinian passport. He glances at it, upside down, and pockets it. After some time he gives it back.

State security in plain clothes, riot police, secret police, the army, Bedouin youth, protesters who had come from Cairo to spread the word – no one seems to know who the people at these check-points are.

Makeshift barricades have been set up all over Sheikh Zwayyed. Looters have run amok. Shops and houses have visibly been stripped of chairs, tables, telephones, files, desks. Some of all this has been burnt in heaps. Cars have been wrecked. Some had been driven into storefronts so the shops could be looted. Others were overturned and burnt. It seems a shattered war zone. There has been at least some resistance by police.

“There have been many clashes between Bedouin youth and the security forces,” says a young man sitting on the side of the road. A few minutes later, shooting begins, not far away.

“It will end soon,” the young man says calmly. He seemed in no doubt who would prevail.

There is no doubt either that Bedouin youth are fully armed. It is not clear where they got their weapons from. Nothing seems certain here, and nobody asks questions.

By all accounts there have been many casualties. Again, nobody knows how many, and no one can say what treatment they have been able to get, if any.

The sound of the shooting intensifies. It seems to be directed towards the state security building nearby.

The building also houses a large number of prisoners. The youth are determined to clear the building of any police loyal to the regime, and to free all prisoners.

The area appears to have drawn many powerful and armed groups that have converged to free their associates and relatives from the prisons. They look determined to succeed. Some of the men carry heavy weapons.

The groups mingle freely with local Bedouin youth.

The deprivation across this area is greater than Cairo has ever known.

And the anger seems greater too.

With the anger, Bedouin youth now present a face of triumph.

“It is a revolution,” one says simply.

MORE:

The Role Of Soccer Clubs In The Epoch Of Wars, Revolutions And Imperialist Decay:

“The Critical Role Of Egypt’s Soccer Clubs May Surprise Us, But Only If We Don’t Know The History That Soccer Clubs Have Played In The Country”

“The Involvement Of Organized Soccer Fans In Egypt’s Anti-Government Protests Constitutes Every Arab Government’s Worst Nightmare”

January 31, 2011 By Dave Zirin, Sports Illustrated.Com

Over the decades that have marked the tenure of Egypt’s “President for Life” Hosni Mubarak, there has been one consistent nexus for anger, organization, and practical experience in the ancient art of street fighting: the country’s soccer clubs.

Over the past week, the most organized, militant fan clubs, also known as the “ultras,” have put those years of experience to ample use.

Last Thursday, the Egyptian Soccer Federation announced that they would be suspending all league games throughout the country in an effort to keep the soccer clubs from congregating. Clearly this was a case of too little, too late.

Even without games, the football fan associations have been front and center organizing everything from the neighborhood committees that have been providing security for residents, to direct confrontation with the state police.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera, Alaa Abd El Fattah, a prominent Egyptian blogger said, “The ultras -- have played a more significant role than any political group on the ground at this moment.”

Alaa then joked, “Maybe we should get the ultras to rule the country.”

The involvement of the clubs has signaled more than just the intervention of sports fans. The soccer clubs’ entry into the political struggle also means the entry of the poor, the disenfranchised, and the mass of young people in Egypt for whom soccer was their only outlet.

As soccer writer James Dorsey wrote this week, “The involvement of organized soccer fans in Egypt’s anti-government protests constitutes every Arab government’s worst nightmare. Soccer, alongside Islam, offers a rare platform in the Middle East, a region populated by authoritarian regimes that control all public spaces, for the venting of pent-up anger and frustration.”

Dorsey’s statement proved prophetic on Sunday when it was announced that Libya’s government had instructed the Libyan Football Federation to ban soccer matches for the foreseeable future.

Sources in the government said that this was done to head off the mere possibility that Egypt’s demonstrations could spill over the border.

The fear was that soccer could be the artery that would connect the challenge to Mubarak to a challenge to former U.S. foe turned ally Moammar Gadhafi.

The critical role of Egypt’s soccer clubs may surprise us, but only if we don’t know the history that soccer clubs have played in the country.

For more than a century, the clubs have been a place where cheering and anti-government organizing have walked together in comfort.

Egypt’s most prominent team, Al Ahly, started its club in 1907 as a place to organize national resistance against British colonial rule.

The word Al Ahly translated into English means “the national,” to mark their unapologetically political stance against colonialism. Al Ahly has always been the team with the most political fans. It’s also a team that’s allowed its players to make political statements on the pitch even though this is in direct violation of FIFA dictates.

It’s no coincidence that it was Al Ahly’s star player Mohamed Aboutrika, aka “the Smiling Assassin,” who in 2008 famously raised his jersey revealing the T-shirt, which read “Sympathize with Gaza.”

Of course there are thousands in the streets of Egypt that have no connection to the Ultras of Al Ahly or any of the clubs in Egypt.

But soccer clubs, whether in Europe, Africa, Asia, or the Middle East, have a long history as a place where anger, frustration and dissent been channeled.

Sometimes it’s been channeled toward ill-ends like racist hooliganism or even as instruments of ethnic cleansing during the breakup of Yugoslavia. Other times, as in the Ivory Coast, it’s been a tool for unity during civil war. Even more than either of those options, the soccer clubs have been a safety valve where people have just let off steam.

Today in Egypt they’re at the heart of a rich mosaic of resistance.

They stand as a remarkable example of the capacity that sports has to bring people together.

An anonymous member of Mubarak’s ruling national party said to the government newspaper, Al Ahram, last Wednesday, “What we saw on the streets ... are not just Muslim Brotherhood members or sympathizers but Egyptians at large; those are the Egyptians that you would see supporting the football national team -- and their show of frustration was genuine and it had to be accommodated.”

Pity the government official with the sense to realize the enormity of the challenge in the streets and the naiveté to think it can be accommodated.

The great author of Soccer in Sun and Shadow, Eduardo Galeano, in a different time and different context once wrote, “The Dictatorship of Fear is Over.”

Truer words about Egypt could never be spoken.

The Hot Breath Of The Revolution Begins To Melt The Discipline Of The Army

Cairo: Credit: Mohammed Omer; Copyright IPS

Festival Of The Oppressed 2011:

“A Revolution Of The People, Not The Parties” “No To The Brotherhood, No To The Parties”

“The Opposition Has Been Overwhelmed By The Pace And Scale Of The Uprising”

“You Feel Like Everyone Is Walking On His Own, Speaking For Himself, Because There’s No Group That Represents Us”

The largest crowd in a week of protests packs Cairo’s Tahrir Square. (Reuters TV / February 1, 2011)

In a sun-baked square, that sense of empowerment has radiated across the downtown, where volunteers passed out free wafers, tea and cake. Youths swept streets, organized security and checked identification at checkpoints in a show of popular mobilization that any transitional government will at least have to acknowledge.

January 31, 2011 By ANTHONY SHADID, The New York Times Company [Excerpts]

The defiance of Mr. Mubarak’s government only grew Monday, as the protests in the sprawling square swelled from hundreds before dawn to tens of thousands by dusk. Mothers hoisted children on their shoulders shouting the refrain of this revolt: “The people want the fall of the government!”

“We don’t want ElBaradei or the Muslim Brotherhood, and we don’t want the ruling party,” said Mohammed Nagi, a 30-year-old protester.

“You feel like everyone is walking on his own, speaking for himself, because there’s no group that represents us.”

In short, he said, “We don’t want what we have.”

“People are learning that the yearning for freedom, for dignity, for justice and for employment is a legitimate ambition,” said Sateh Noureddine, a prominent Lebanese columnist. “This is a historic moment, and it is teaching the Arab world everything. They are learning that if they take to the streets they can accomplish their goals.”

In the carnivalesque atmosphere of Tahrir Square, also known as Liberation Square, protesters speak in the superlatives of rebellion, echoing sentiments pronounced across the region.

“Revolution on the Nile,” read the headline Monday in Al Akhbar, a leftist Lebanese newspaper.

“A mummy wrestles with the living.”

But even the most sober speak about the transformation that an only week-old uprising has had on a people so long treated as subjects, not citizens, by a state that saw elections as a scripted exercise in affirmation.

In the face of looting and arson, neighborhoods organized into popular defense committees, including young men armed with everything from horsewhips to the hoses of water pipes.

Though they coordinated with the army, they managed to secure, largely on their own, block after block in the wake of the utter collapse of police authority on Saturday.

“The popular committee protected us better than the police did,” said Mohammed Maqboul, a lawyer in the square. “Twenty-four hours a day, they guarded our streets.”

In a sun-baked square, that sense of empowerment has radiated across the downtown, where volunteers passed out free wafers, tea and cake. Youths swept streets, organized security and checked identification at checkpoints in a show of popular mobilization that any transitional government will at least have to acknowledge.

“For the first time, people feel like they belong to this place,” said Selma al-Tarzi, a 33-year-old film director.

“We need patience,” shouted Atef Ammar, a lawyer who argued with protesters. “The result of this democracy you brought is to impose the thugs and looting on us.”

“You’re with the regime!” one protester accused him.

“Why can’t we wait?” he replied. “We don’t want the country to collapse.”

Men started shouting at him, pushing and shoving.

“The entire system has to go,” yelled Mustafa Ali, a protester. “Not just Mubarak!”

Indeed, the opposition, along with virtually every representative of civil society here, has been overwhelmed by the pace and scale of the uprising.

Youthful organizers have sought to push forth the protests, joining older opposition figures who hope to negotiate with the government, but many of them admit their influence on the crowds is negligible.

“I feel like ElBaradei is not an Egyptian,” declared one protester, Seraggedin Abu Rawash. “He lived his whole life abroad, and now he’s trying to ride the revolution.”

Mr. Rawash, a 21-year-old engineer, is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has assumed a far more prominent role in the protests since Sunday, organizing prayers in the square and largely keeping to themselves.

“No to the Brotherhood, no to the parties,” one chant went Monday. “Revolution, of the youth.” A banner read, “A revolution of the people, not the parties.”

For now, one of the most spectacular popular movements in Egypt’s history is counting on the energy of the street, even as the government opened the door to negotiations.

“If the youth continue to take to the street when they feel the revolution is going to be taken away from them, I have no worries about the regime, the army or the Brotherhood,” Mr. Abdel-Razeq said.

“If it means a better life, a better Egypt, a better job, they will.”

MORE:

“A Stunning And Jubilant Array Of Young And Old, Urban Poor And Middle Class Professionals, Mounting By Far The Largest Protest Yet In A Week”

“Soldiers At Checkpoints Set Up The Entrances Of The Square Did Nothing To Stop The Crowds From Entering”

“Tens Of Thousands Rallied In The Cities Of Alexandria, Suez And Mansoura, North Of Cairo, As Well As In The Southern Province Of Assiut And Luxor”

February 1, 2011: An effigy depicting President Hosni Mubarak hanging on a traffic light in Cairo. (AP) [Thanks to Mark Shapiro, Military Resistance Organization, who sent this in.]

February 1, 2011 By SARAH EL DEEB and HADEEL AL-SHALCHI, The Associated Press [Excerpts]

CAIRO -- More than a quarter-million people flooded Cairo’s main square Tuesday in a stunning and jubilant array of young and old, urban poor and middle class professionals, mounting by far the largest protest yet in a week of unrelenting demands for President Hosni Mubarak to leave after nearly 30 years in power.

The crowds - determined but peaceful - filled Tahrir, or Liberation, Square and spilled into nearby streets, among them people defying a government transportation shutdown to make their way from rural provinces in the Nile Delta.

Protesters jammed in shoulder-to-shoulder, with schoolteachers, farmers, unemployed university graduates, women in conservative headscarves and women in high heels, men in suits and working-class men in scuffed shoes.

They sang nationalist songs, danced, beat drums and chanted the anti-Mubarak slogan “Leave! Leave! Leave!” as military helicopters buzzed overhead.

Organizers said the aim was to intensify marches to get the president out of power by Friday, and similar demonstrations erupted in at least five other cities around Egypt.

Soldiers at checkpoints set up the entrances of the square did nothing to stop the crowds from entering.

The military promised on state TV Monday night that it would not fire on protesters answering a call for a million to demonstrate, a sign that army support for Mubarak may be unraveling as momentum builds for an extraordinary eruption of discontent and demands for democracy in the United States’ most important Arab ally.

“This is the end for him. It’s time,” said Musab Galal, a 23-year-old unemployed university graduate who came by minibus with his friends from the Nile Delta city of Menoufiya.

Protester volunteers wearing tags reading “the People’s Security” circulated through the crowds in the square, saying they were watching for government infiltrators who might try to instigate violence.

Authorities shut down all roads and public transportation to Cairo and in and out of other main cities, security officials said. Train services nationwide were suspended for a second day and all bus services between cities were halted.

Still, many from the provinces managed to make it to the square. Hamada Massoud, a 32-year-old a lawyer, said he and 50 others came in cars and minibuses from the impoverished province of Beni Sweif south of Cairo.

Tens of thousands rallied in the cities of Alexandria, Suez and Mansoura, north of Cairo, as well as in the southern province of Assiut and Luxor, the southern city where some 5,000 people protested outside an ancient Egyptian temple.

MORE:

“If I Die Now My Whole Family Will Be Proud Of Me”

Abdo, A 65-Year-Old Carpenter Wearing The Traditional Egyptian Galabeya Gown, Wants His Voice To Be Heard”

“I Need To Work Every Day To Live But I Left My Family And Work To Be Here, I Came Here To Say ‘No, Enough’“

“I Don’t Care Who Leads Egypt – Muslim, Christian Or Even Jewish – If He Has The Right Strategy For The Country”

[Thanks to Mark Shapiro, Military Resistance Organization, who sent this in.]

Feb 1, 2011 By Sapa-AFP [Excerpts]

“I will stay here till I die,” said Osama Allam as the grey Cairo dawn lifts on the biggest day of anger yet against the regime of President Hosni Mubarak, whose effigy hangs from nearby traffic lights.

Encircled by tanks and with troops filtering protesters streaming onto the square that has become the epicentre of a week of revolt, men, women and children brandish banners and cardboard signs demanding Mubarak go.

“Choose Mubarak regime or Egypt people,” read one sign in English as protesters nearby carry Mubarak’s mock coffin shoulder-high. Elsewhere on the square people chant slogans against Mubarak’s wife, Suzanne.

Abdo, a 65-year-old carpenter wearing the traditional Egyptian galabeya gown, wants his voice to be heard.

“I need to work every day to live but I left my family and work to be here, I came here to say ‘no, enough’“

Protesters read demands, daubed in large letters on a banner strung between lamp-posts.

“The immediate end to Mubarak’s rule; the trial of (former interior minister) Habib al-Adly; the establishment of a commission to amend the constitution; the dissolution of parliament and the formation of a transitional national salvation government.”

With at least 125 people dead in eight days of clashes between angry citizens and police, the crowd knows that more blood may be shed before their objectives are achieved.

“If I die now my whole family will be proud of me. This is what the Egyptian people need,” said Allam, but no one thinks the threat comes from the all-powerful armed forces.

“The people are the army and the army is the people,” he said.

Protesters are keen to dispel fears raised by some Western nations and Israel that the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood could try to move to fill a post-Mubarak power vacuum.

“Only one in 100 here is a Muslim Brother,” said engineer Mohammed Suleiman.

“Mubarak made the US and Europe afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood, he made them think they will take power but this is not true.”

They also dismiss rightwing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assertion that Egypt could turn into an Iranian-style Islamist regime.

“Israel is not Benjamin Netanyahu,” said one unnamed protester. “The Israeli people are like the Egyptian people, we want peace and freedom.

In what could prove a critical moment in Egypt’s popular uprising against Hosni Mubarak, the country’s army last night told demonstrators that their demands were “legitimate” and that troops “would not resort to the use of force against our great people”.

“The presence of the army in the streets is for your sake and to ensure your safety and wellbeing,” the statement said. “Your armed forces, who... are keen to assume their responsibility in protecting the nation and its citizens, affirm that freedom of expression through peaceful means is guaranteed to everybody.”

Suzanne Saleh, a British-educated 38-year-old mother of three, said that assumptions that the Muslim Brotherhood would win free elections were “just political propaganda for the West”.

She added: “I don’t care who leads Egypt – Muslim, Christian or even Jewish – if he has the right strategy for the country.”

Passing the demonstration, one woman said: “King Farouk left in one night. What’s happening here?”

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“I Brought My American Passport Today In Case I Die Today”

“I brought my American passport today in case I die today,” said Marwan Mossaad, 33, a graduate architecture student with dual Egyptian-American citizenship.

“I want the American people to know that they are supporting one of the most oppressive regimes in the world and Americans are also dying for it.” -- Quoted By David D. Kirkpatrick, January 31, 2011, The New York Times

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“‘There Have Been Many Clashes Between Bedouin Youth And The Security Forces,’ Says A Young Man”

“‘It Is A Revolution’ One Says Simply”

“The Youth Are Determined To Clear The Building Of Any Police Loyal To The Regime, And To Free All Prisoners”

 “A Few Minutes Later, Shooting Begins, Not Far Away. ‘It Will End Soon,’ The Young Man Says Calmly. He Seemed In No Doubt Who Would Prevail”

The police are rapidly leaving their posts, but some still appear in uniform. One uniformed policeman stands quietly to a side. He is in danger, he seems no danger to others at all.

What would he do if attacked? “Just take my uniform off and join the protest,” he tells IPS. “Or maybe just go over to the Palestinian side.”

Feb 1, 2011 By Mohammed Omer, IPS

A Bedouin youth casually spreads out a piece of cloth before a police headquarters in Sheikh Zwayyed town in Sinai, the vast desert area to the east of Cairo across the Suez.

“I will leave when Mubarak leaves,” he says.

He joins hundreds of others.

They have broken through into the police station already, and are now camping there to demand a change in government.

Most youth are Bedouin, originally a nomadic tribe in the desert, who’ve been fighting for their rights for years.

Over the last few days they feel they’re winning.

The police are rapidly leaving their posts, but some still appear in uniform. One uniformed policeman stands quietly to a side. He is in danger, he seems no danger to others at all.

What would he do if attacked? “Just take my uniform off and join the protest,” he tells IPS. “Or maybe just go over to the Palestinian side.”

A youth who gives his name as Hassan Washah has headed off towards Gaza already. To the tunnels underneath the Egyptian-Gaza border, and then in hope of heading home at last to the Buriej refugee camp in Gaza.

Washah had been in prison for years.

He was freed by a vast crowd of Bedouin youth who advanced on the jail where he had been kept with scores of others.

There was no resistance reported from the police and jail staff; many in fact were reported to have offered assistance.

Sinai is home to many prisons.

Countless prisoners have found sudden freedom – nobody seems to know what they were in jail for, and no one wants to ask.

New groups have taken charge, and it’s hard to say who these are. Several check-posts have been set up all the way between Cairo and Sinai. “Who are you,” says a man at one of these checkpoints. This IPS correspondent offers him his Palestinian passport. He glances at it, upside down, and pockets it. After some time he gives it back.

State security in plain clothes, riot police, secret police, the army, Bedouin youth, protesters who had come from Cairo to spread the word – no one seems to know who the people at these check-points are.

Makeshift barricades have been set up all over Sheikh Zwayyed. Looters have run amok. Shops and houses have visibly been stripped of chairs, tables, telephones, files, desks. Some of all this has been burnt in heaps. Cars have been wrecked. Some had been driven into storefronts so the shops could be looted. Others were overturned and burnt. It seems a shattered war zone. There has been at least some resistance by police.

“There have been many clashes between Bedouin youth and the security forces,” says a young man sitting on the side of the road. A few minutes later, shooting begins, not far away.

“It will end soon,” the young man says calmly. He seemed in no doubt who would prevail.

There is no doubt either that Bedouin youth are fully armed. It is not clear where they got their weapons from. Nothing seems certain here, and nobody asks questions.

By all accounts there have been many casualties. Again, nobody knows how many, and no one can say what treatment they have been able to get, if any.

The sound of the shooting intensifies. It seems to be directed towards the state security building nearby.

The building also houses a large number of prisoners. The youth are determined to clear the building of any police loyal to the regime, and to free all prisoners.

The area appears to have drawn many powerful and armed groups that have converged to free their associates and relatives from the prisons. They look determined to succeed. Some of the men carry heavy weapons.

The groups mingle freely with local Bedouin youth.

The deprivation across this area is greater than Cairo has ever known.

And the anger seems greater too.

With the anger, Bedouin youth now present a face of triumph.

“It is a revolution,” one says simply.

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The Role Of Soccer Clubs In The Epoch Of Wars, Revolutions And Imperialist Decay:

“The Critical Role Of Egypt’s Soccer Clubs May Surprise Us, But Only If We Don’t Know The History That Soccer Clubs Have Played In The Country”

“The Involvement Of Organized Soccer Fans In Egypt’s Anti-Government Protests Constitutes Every Arab Government’s Worst Nightmare”

January 31, 2011 By Dave Zirin, Sports Illustrated.Com

Over the decades that have marked the tenure of Egypt’s “President for Life” Hosni Mubarak, there has been one consistent nexus for anger, organization, and practical experience in the ancient art of street fighting: the country’s soccer clubs.

Over the past week, the most organized, militant fan clubs, also known as the “ultras,” have put those years of experience to ample use.

Last Thursday, the Egyptian Soccer Federation announced that they would be suspending all league games throughout the country in an effort to keep the soccer clubs from congregating. Clearly this was a case of too little, too late.

Even without games, the football fan associations have been front and center organizing everything from the neighborhood committees that have been providing security for residents, to direct confrontation with the state police.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera, Alaa Abd El Fattah, a prominent Egyptian blogger said, “The ultras -- have played a more significant role than any political group on the ground at this moment.”

Alaa then joked, “Maybe we should get the ultras to rule the country.”

The involvement of the clubs has signaled more than just the intervention of sports fans. The soccer clubs’ entry into the political struggle also means the entry of the poor, the disenfranchised, and the mass of young people in Egypt for whom soccer was their only outlet.

As soccer writer James Dorsey wrote this week, “The involvement of organized soccer fans in Egypt’s anti-government protests constitutes every Arab government’s worst nightmare. Soccer, alongside Islam, offers a rare platform in the Middle East, a region populated by authoritarian regimes that control all public spaces, for the venting of pent-up anger and frustration.”

Dorsey’s statement proved prophetic on Sunday when it was announced that Libya’s government had instructed the Libyan Football Federation to ban soccer matches for the foreseeable future.

Sources in the government said that this was done to head off the mere possibility that Egypt’s demonstrations could spill over the border.

The fear was that soccer could be the artery that would connect the challenge to Mubarak to a challenge to former U.S. foe turned ally Moammar Gadhafi.

The critical role of Egypt’s soccer clubs may surprise us, but only if we don’t know the history that soccer clubs have played in the country.

For more than a century, the clubs have been a place where cheering and anti-government organizing have walked together in comfort.

Egypt’s most prominent team, Al Ahly, started its club in 1907 as a place to organize national resistance against British colonial rule.

The word Al Ahly translated into English means “the national,” to mark their unapologetically political stance against colonialism. Al Ahly has always been the team with the most political fans. It’s also a team that’s allowed its players to make political statements on the pitch even though this is in direct violation of FIFA dictates.

It’s no coincidence that it was Al Ahly’s star player Mohamed Aboutrika, aka “the Smiling Assassin,” who in 2008 famously raised his jersey revealing the T-shirt, which read “Sympathize with Gaza.”

Of course there are thousands in the streets of Egypt that have no connection to the Ultras of Al Ahly or any of the clubs in Egypt.

But soccer clubs, whether in Europe, Africa, Asia, or the Middle East, have a long history as a place where anger, frustration and dissent been channeled.

Sometimes it’s been channeled toward ill-ends like racist hooliganism or even as instruments of ethnic cleansing during the breakup of Yugoslavia. Other times, as in the Ivory Coast, it’s been a tool for unity during civil war. Even more than either of those options, the soccer clubs have been a safety valve where people have just let off steam.

Today in Egypt they’re at the heart of a rich mosaic of resistance.

They stand as a remarkable example of the capacity that sports has to bring people together.

An anonymous member of Mubarak’s ruling national party said to the government newspaper, Al Ahram, last Wednesday, “What we saw on the streets ... are not just Muslim Brotherhood members or sympathizers but Egyptians at large; those are the Egyptians that you would see supporting the football national team -- and their show of frustration was genuine and it had to be accommodated.”

Pity the government official with the sense to realize the enormity of the challenge in the streets and the naiveté to think it can be accommodated.

The great author of Soccer in Sun and Shadow, Eduardo Galeano, in a different time and different context once wrote, “The Dictatorship of Fear is Over.”

Truer words about Egypt could never be spoken.

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