A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Bad Omen: Thugs Attack Demonstrators After Speech

Media are reporting that pro-Mubarak thugs (baltagiyya) attacked demonstrators in Alexandria [later: bloggers are saying Cairo and Port Said too] after Mubarak's speech. The Army apparently stepped in and stopped it, but if his Party thugs (or their fellow charmers, the plainclothes security police thugs) are still trying to beat people up, it raises questions about how sincere his commitment to a real transition is. If he really intends to be allowed to finish his term, this really sends the wrong signal. This is the exact sort of tactic that has typified the regime in recent years.

UPDATE: It may be an emerging pattern. Against multiple international demsands, the Internet is still shut down. If Mubarak means to preside over change, it's time to fix it. Though our IT guy said something to me suggesting they kind of broke it when they shut it down, I haven't the tech knowledge to talk about it. But if it's not back up, the regime is strangling the country.


McDevite said...

If the events on Alexandria are another attempt at the "anarchy" of Saturday night and give an opening for a crackdown, it seems to not have gotten very far, at least in that it's 7:30 without any more violence.

Furthermore, Alexandria was the city that had the tank battalions defect and join the streets, so the response of the Army may be less important than it would be if the Interior Ministry launched national attacks and the Army repelled them and opted to take the chance and treat Mubarak like Ceausescu.

It looks like the next deadline is Friday, at least from the opposition, unless the Army can get Mubarak to Jeddah by nightfall tomorrow.

Calls by the demonstrators and by individual parties for the Army to depose Mubarak by force, taken with the continuing decline of food, are rather more ominous at the end of the day.

Rashad said...

Internet has been up all afternoon in Egypt, for the first time in 5 days.