Today is the second anniversary of the start of the Arab Spring protests in Cairo that brought down Hosni Mubarak, with the blessing and demand of the Obama administration. Two years later, have the Egyptian people been liberated — or have they traded one oppressive regime for another, while the US loses influence in the region? Former US ambassador to the Netherlands Cynthia Schneider says it’s the latter:
Opposition to Morsy’s authoritarianism is broader than the world recognizes. In making accommodations for Morsy’s government, the United States is — once again — out of step with the Egyptian people.
Egyptians may not know exactly what they want, but they know what they don’t want. Although an effective political opposition has yet to coalesce, Egyptians from all sectors of society are united in their refusal to accept another repressive regime.
Egypt is on a collision course. An ever growing, if periodically discouraged, portion of the population opposes the government and Morsy’s Muslim Brotherhood, and supports the revolution’s goals of social and economic justice, accountable government, and basic freedoms, including freedom of expression and protection of minorities. Yet the government is moving in exactly the opposite direction, with its authoritarian control over political, social, and religious life.
The government’s investigation of the wildly popular “Egyptian Jon Stewart” Bassem Youssef — charged with insulting Morsy and undermining his command — and the forced “retirement” of respected journalist Hani Shukrallah, editor of state-owned Al-Ahram’s English-language website, are just two very public examples of the vice tightening on freedom of expression.
While the US media has mostly focused on Morsi’s anti-semitic remarks, they seem to have missed the crackdown on dissent in the Egyptian media. Not only do we now have a regime more openly hostile to our ally Israel — which was the point of supporting Mubarak, who kept a lid on security issues — we haven’t traded up in terms of liberty, either, at least not much.
At least one protester agrees with Schneider, and wants to find a way around the US media coverage of the Arab Spring’s results in Egypt. Via Twitchy, if a picture paints a thousands words, what about the words in the picture?
We’ll get a better idea just how widespread these sentiments are after the protests today. The early arrivals number in the hundreds, but after Friday prayers, they are expected to ramp up significantly.