Egyptian social media activist Ahmed Maher at Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC
Occupy Washington DC/Stop The Machine!(Freedom Plaza) and Otpor/CANVAS
“The same non-violence non-profits who take CIA money when they can get it (I’m not talking about ICNC, which just shares an accountant, has parallel goals, and whose president used to work there; ICNC has enough junk bond money to operate on its own) also give non-violent communication trainings and are inserting themselves wherever they can in the OWS movement. In DC, this is particularly worrisome, since the think-tank/lobbying/pro-USG logic is so hegemonic. And I’ve received four email invitations this week to attend think tank and right-wing academic seminars on What the Occupy Wall Street Movement Means and Why it Should Matter to Me. Framing is everything. Who gets to speak, what they get to say, whether their whole movement can be invalidated because somebody got justifiably angry and threw a rock. We don’t need to be tackling the rock-thrower. People throwing rocks doesn’t explain or justify the police violence I saw and felt in Oakland last Tuesday. We need to be tackling the derivative Christian logic of non-violence (but lacking the possibilities of liberation theology) that chastises the oppressed for rising up against the oppressor, using fictitious narratives about Egypt’s and Eastern European countries’ “revolutions” as legitimation. And when people come to town claiming to speak for a revolution and making their way into lefty media with the same bland lies, we need to be asking who is paying for their plane ticket, and why the hell are they not back at home, where their “revolution” is not in great shape at all” ~ Professor Adrienne Pine – American University, Washington, DC (emphasis added).
Three of Egypt’s so-called Facebook revolutionaries told a crowd of 100 people who gathered Sunday afternoon in Washington’s Freedom Plaza that the U.S. government has abandoned their peaceful revolution in favor of an alliance with the country’s still-powerful military. (Video here.)
“We hoped U.S. policy would change” said Esraa Abdel Fatah, known as the Facebook girl for creating a social media page that helped mobilize a general strike over workers rights in 2008. “We hope they would support the people, not the government. But U.S. policy supports the military now, the same way it was supporting Mubarak.”
Fatah spoke to a OccupyDC crowd that seemed hungry for advice from activists who have seen tremendous, yet mixed results in the past year. Egypt’s revolution of last January has taken a worrisome turn in recent months the military brutally cracks down on those it views as enemies of the state, while backtracking on promises about the transition to civilian rule. Despite the objections of Egyptian civil society, the Obama administration has mostly refrained from criticizing the country’s Supreme Council for the Armed Forces (SCAF).
“We’re disappointed the administration didn’t get the lesson,” said Bassem Fathy, a founder of April 6 Youth, which used Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to detonate a social explosion that swept away Mubarak’s government last January. ”The U.S. supported Mubarak because he offered stability. Now the U.S. is again choosing stability by backing the SCAF. That might be America’s short term interest but we don’t think that is America’s long-term interest.”
Blogger and activist Ahmed Maher, who visited the capital’s other occupation site in McPherson Square earlier in the week, said, “we want to make a change from the U.S. policy to supporting the people, not support businessmen.”
The meeting of the movements in Freedom Plaza was free of the controversies that have shadowed the Egyptian revolutionaries as their influence has grown.
Fathy and his colleagues have been criticized in Egypt and in Al Jazeera for their participation in the Egyptian Democratic Academy, which was funded by the U.S. government’s National Endowment for Democracy. At the same time, the Republican party has lionized Fathy as one of “democracy’s heroes” in Egypt. But one strength of the Egyptian movement is that it refuses to be categorized by religion or even ideology. Fathy doesn’t deny U.S. support or influence. Nor does he hesitate to criticize U.S. policymakers.
“The U.S. is now saying that the military will be the protector of democracy against the Islamists,” he told Salon. “Myself, I am totally secular and I don’t agree with the Islamists. But I think democracy is the best protector of democracy.”
When a woman in the crowd asked Fathy for the Egyptian movement’s views on U.S. support for Israel, Fathy was even more pointed.
“Our common mood is that we should have at the least the two states–one Israeli, one Palestinian–based on the 1967 borders, ” he said, a view that proved deeply controversial when expressed by President Obama earlier this year. Myself, I would like to see a solution like South Africa: One country for all the people who live there. I know that is a dream.”
As the crowd plied their guests for advice about how the U.S.-based occupation movement should proceed, the Egyptians responded by voicing the unorthodox tenets of a global movement without leaders or unified set of demands.
“People will want to know who your leaders are,” said Fatah, wearing a traditional head scarf. “Your demands must be your leaders.”
“My advice,” said Maher, an exemplar of cosmopolitan cool with his shaved head and sunglasses ”is not to accept any advice.”
Kevin Zeese says Otpor/CANVAS NOT involved with the Occupy Movement and Freedom Plaza in DC. He only uses their books, strategy, and Egyptian agents (?!)
Facebook and People Power: The View From Tahrir Square
June 8, 2011
Thomson Reuters Building
30 South Colonnade
London E14 5EP
In the space of 18 days in January and February, the people of Egypt overthrew the 30-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak in a peaceful uprising that transfixed the world, and whose consequences are still reverberating. Behind this revolution was a group of young activists with the courage, tactical skill, and mastery of 21st-century social media to mobilize a whole society in opposition to an authoritarian ruler.
Please join us for a special event at the London office of Thomson Reuters as we peer inside the engine room of the Egyptian revolution with the help of some of those most closely involved. And with the Arab world in ferment, we ask where the road from Tahrir Square will lead.
Dr. Sally Moore, an Egyptian-British psychiatrist who was closely involved in the strategic planning, publicity, and logistics of the protest movement.
Mahmoud Salem, aka Sandmonkey, an irreverent blogger and tweeter whose commentary became a must-read for everyone watching the dramatic events unfold.
Srdja Popovic, executive director of the Centre for Applied NonViolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS), a Serbian-based group that grew out of the struggle to overthrow dictator Slobodan Miloševi? and has worked with activists from 46 countries, including Georgia, Ukraine, Lebanon, and Egypt to advise on the tactics and strategy of peaceful protest.
Wael Ghonim (by video link), Google’s marketing manager for the Middle East and Africa, who was arrested and interrogated for 12 days before emerging as one of the heroes and symbols of the Egyptian revolution.
Stop The Machine!/Occupy Washington, DC say they want to engage “in nonviolent resistance similar to the Arab Spring” and have “the intention of making it [Freedom Plaza] our Tahrir Square”(see: http://october2011.org/statement)
Kevin Zeese - Stop the Machine/Occupy Washington, DC (organizer)
Take the pledge and sign up to attend here. Let America know you are coming to make history and a new world!
“I pledge that if any U.S. troops, contractors, or mercenaries remain in Afghanistan on Thursday, October 6, 2011, as that occupation goes into its 11th year, I will commit to being in Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., with others on that day with the intention of making it our Tahrir Square, Cairo, our Madison, Wisconsin, where we will NONVIOLENTLY resist the corporate machine to demand that our resources are invested in human needs and environmental protection instead of war and exploitation. We can do this together. We will be the beginning .” Source: http://october2011.org/statement