Monday, July 1, 2013

Two Egyptian Images

No matter what else gets reported from yesterday's historic Egyptian protests, I want to capture two images that indicate a widespread core of civility on the part of those participating -- non-violent direct actions with the sole purpose of protecting others from harm. I don't know if these actions are unprecedented but I am certain that if not, they are extremely rare.

Anti-Morsi protesters protecting FJP office in Cairo.

The FJP (Freedom and Justice Party) is the political party representing the Muslim Brotherhood and President Morsi. Yesterday's protests (which someone with BBC supposedly said were the biggest peaceful political protests in human history) had but one aim -- telling President Morsi to step down. The party offices were later vandalized, but not before these brave men, though they are political opponents, formed a human chain to protect those offices.

When I saw this snapshot I was reminded of another photo from the protests in January, 2011, two and a half years ago, that led to the end of the Mubarak era. 

Christians protecting Muslims during their prayers in Tahrir on Feb. 2, 2011, returning the favor after Muslims protected Coptic churches on Orthodox Christmas. Photo by Maryam Ishani.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, these two images speak volumes.  I am deeply frustrated this morning that for whatever reasons yesterday's events in Cairo and the rest of Egypt were not better reported in America. At a time when social media are the main sources of news and independent professional journalism is becoming an endangered species, corporate narratives (which is to say politicians and media giants bought and paid for by campaign contributors and/or sponsors) trump the main channels. 

The president and his family were on a long-scheduled trip to Africa which was overlapping with reports of Nelson Mandela's fragile medical condition, so those developments became the main attraction for the news channels. Couple that with the jabbering Sunday talking heads (distracted by record weather and L'affaires Deen, Zimmerman & N-word) and there was little air time or ink left for anything else.

There was more than a little anxiety that the protests would turn ugly, so I'm sure the people who shape the stories were prepared to jump into action had there been riots, bloody shirts, mortality counts and such. But even that was not to be the case. Unlike scenes from Turkey last week, these pictures and reports from Egypt more nearly resembled a travelogue. Where were the tear-gas canisters, rubber bullets and ranks of tough-looking military or police types replete with riot gear? Nowhere to be found. In fact, policemen were part of the protest!

(Click to enlarge)

An Army officer, standing alone on top of a military hospital, saluted the crowd below and the response
was "People went wild."

A military helicopter at one point flew over the crowd in Tahrir to drop Egyptian flags to the masses below, and again the response was celebratory. 

This morning as I remember yesterday I'm torn between being pissed from feeling so alone and pleased that I was able to take part, if only as a bystander, half a world away.  As the day wears on and our out-of-town company  arrives soon for the July 4th holiday I'll calm down and get over it. But until then my mood is dark and disappointed that I haven't anyone with whom I can share yesterday's excitement.  

Thank goodness for blogging. 

1 comment:

  1. ► Five military helicopters are flying over Tahrir carrying large Egyptian flags to cheers from the crowd #nationalamnesia

    ►Unconfirmed: Military just took over the airport, the TV stations, and have arrested Khairat al-Shater's bodyguards. #DoNotClap #Jan25

    ►Who would have ever thought that #Morsi might fall before #Assad?