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An Air of Dangerous Freedom

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  • Dan Clore
    News & Views for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=54375 EGYPT An Air of Dangerous Freedom by
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 6, 2011
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      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      An Air of Dangerous Freedom
      by Emad Mekay

      CAIRO, Feb 6 (IPS) - Imam Mohammed Al-Saba of the Eisa mosque here in
      the centre of the rural town Kirdasa takes the pulpit to tell his
      congregation he can smell "the air of freedom for the first time in 30

      "A week ago, I couldn’t have said what I said today," he says to the
      hundreds of town residents gathered at the mosque, 23 kilometres south
      of Tahrir Square where tens of thousands have been calling for the
      immediate departure of President Hosni Mubarak.

      "Last week and for many years I had to report what I was going to say in
      the mosque to the secret police beforehand. Today I didn’t have to
      thanks to the young people of Egypt who expressed themselves."

      The imam reminds worshipers how mosques have been kept under control,
      with everyone who visits brought under surveillance. "Injustice ends
      eventually and oppressors are not the owners of the universe. God is."

      Across the street from the central mosque stands the building of the
      city’s police station - charred and burned down.

      Next to the police station is the building of the Amn el-Dawla, the
      secret police offices. This too was set on fire during two days of
      protests last week. Kids are now playing outside the iron doors.

      "Those kids would have probably been beaten, insulted or even had their
      parents arrested for daring to play next to the doors of Amn el-Dalwa,"
      says a man who identifies himself only as Abdelfatah. He owns a store a
      few blocks from the office.

      This sense of security is the first achievement of the uprising that
      started Jan. 25 to try to remove Mubarak as president of this nation of
      85 million.

      Now, the city functions without the police. And, it feels a much safer

      "We do not have the same police abuses as before. They used to beat
      people and use force against all who opposed them," says Moustapha
      Radwan, a shop owner selling handmade scarves.

      Five people died and hundreds were injured in protests in this town.
      After last Friday prayers, hundreds lined the street for a religious
      service in homage to the "martyrs".

      A few metres from the mosque in the city centre, minibus drivers express
      happiness at the disappearance of the police force.

      "Officers forced us to take them wherever they wanted for free," says
      one driver who refuses to give his name. "They would force passengers
      out so that they could have the car all for themselves. It used to
      happen even when we haven’t made any money. If we objected, they’d grab
      us by the collar and drag us into the police station where they would
      threaten to frame us in some criminal case. Thank God it isn’t happening
      any more."

      People in this town say they were inspired by mass protests on Tuesday,
      Jan. 25 in Tahrir Square.

      "We looked at them protesting against the regime and I felt they were
      representing us…We acted because of their revolt, because of high
      prices, unemployment, police abuse and the rigged (November) parliament
      elections," Radwan says.

      Abdelfatah clutches his throat, opens his mouth and sticks his tongue
      out as if he was choking. "We were suffocating," he says.

      The new relief comes with new dangers. On way to Kirdasa, this reporter
      was stopped by pro-Mubarak vigilantes searching cars for food. This
      reporter was detained for an hour. A uniformed police officer was
      called. He made several phone calls before ordering release.

      The mob swore at anti-Mubarak protestors, with some saying "America
      betrayed us" and "Nobody is better than Mubarak".

      The nervousness and cruelty of Mubarak’s hired muscle have become a
      trademark over the past several days as they lose ground to a growing
      pro- democracy movement. Their tactics of intimidation have alienated
      more and more people from Mubarak.

      They are asking the public to choose between security and stability
      under Mubarak, and chaos, insecurity and food shortages without him.

      The people of Kirdasa are indeed suffering. At night they patrol the
      streets to prevent prisoners, reportedly released by the police force
      itself, from attacking their homes. Many haven’t sold a single item to a
      tourist for almost two weeks now. Yet many say this is a low price to
      pay for freedom.

      "For 13 days we didn’t have a single tourist to come to buy from us.
      This is not easy on our business or on our kids," Abdelfattah says. "But
      we do not want to set back the clock just for money. With patience and
      time, Mubarak will go and calm will be restored. Tourism will be ten
      times better when we elect whoever we want and when we are free." (END/2011)

      Dan Clore

      New book: _Weird Words: A Lovecraftian Lexicon_:
      My collected fiction: _The Unspeakable and Others_
      Lord Weÿrdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      Skipper: Professor, will you tell these people who is
      in charge on this island?
      Professor: Why, no one.
      Skipper: No one?
      Thurston Howell III: No one? Good heavens, this is anarchy!
      -- _Gilligan's Island_, episode #6, "President Gilligan"
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