Sunday, February 20, 2011

Nawal El-Saadawi on the Egyptian People
[Note: Nawal El-Saadawi, together with Fawzia Afzal Khan and Kathleen Foster, will speak at the Brecht Forum on Friday, March 11 on "Revolutionary Women Dissident Voices from Egypt and Pakistan". More info at]
Al-Ahram (Cairo)
February 16, 2011

Greatest Pleasure: Meeting All Sorts of Egyptians
by Nawal El-Saadawi

I have lived to witness and participate in the Egyptian Revolution from Jan 25, 2011 until the moment of writing this essay in the morning of Sunday, Feb 6, 2011. Millions of Egyptians, men and women, Muslims and Christians, from all doctrines and beliefs, are united against the current oppressive and corrupt regime, against its revered top pharaoh who "still holds on to his throne even if shedding his people's blood", against its corrupt government and the ruling party which hire mercenaries to kill the youths, against its cheating and fake parliament whose members represent illegal properties, women, drugs, and bribes, against its elites who are called 'the educated elites' who sold their conscience and pens , destroyed education, public and private morals and culture, and misled the public and individual opinion to gain temporary interests and ruling positions , be small or big ones.
Young men and children, men and women have spontaneously gone out of their houses, led and protected by themselves, after the security and policemen have failed and the controlling elites of culture and media have crumpled down. Millions of Egyptian, men and women, went out in the streets in all provinces, cities and villages, in Aswan, Alexandria, Suez, Bour Said, and all parts of the homeland. 
In Cairo, the capital, we have encamped in Meidan al-Tahrir for 11 days, day and night till now. Meidan al-Tahrir has become our land and our camp. We settle on its asphalt and inside tents as a solid entity of men and women…we will never leave our place even though the police, disguised in civilian clothes, attack us and even if al-Meidan is attacked (like what happened on Feb 2) by mercenaries hired by the regime. Those were given bribes (50 EGP and a chick for a soldier, and the bigger one's rank the bigger the bribe is).They stormed into al-Meidan riding horses and camels, armed with various weapons (red, yellow, and white ones). One of the horses was about to trample on me while I was standing in al-Meidan with the young men. They carried me away from this primitive attack; I saw them with my own eyes moving around in al-Meidan, shooting everywhere. Amid the dust and smoke which surrounded al-Meidan and its surrounding buildings, I saw firing flames flying in the sky, young men falling, and blood shedding. 
A semi-military war broke out between the regime's henchmen and the peaceful Egyptian people who were calling for freedom, dignity and justice. But the defense committee of the revolutionary young men managed to fight back those mercenaries and captured some horses and camels and 100 mercenaries with their IDs, among them were state security officers, central security officers, policemen, and some of them were jobless and criminals who were released from prisons. Some of them confessed that they were bribed with 200 EGP and promised with 5000 EGP if they managed to scatter the youths in al-Meidan by using their swords and sharp weapons. They described the youths who led this revolution as "the kids who made the disturbance" using the language of Mubarak's big heads who gave orders and money.

The young men built their tents in the square to get some rest. Women with their infants lied down on the ground in the cold and rain. Hundreds of ladies and girls, never harassed by anyone, walked proudly feeling freedom, dignity, and equality among their fellows. Christians are participating in the revolution side by side with Muslims. I was surrounded by some young men from Muslims Brotherhood: they said to me "We disagree with some of your opinions in your writings but we like and respect you because you have not acted hypocritically with any regime or force inside or outside the country." During my walk in the square, people were coming to me, men and women, from different directions, embracing and hugging me saying "Dr. Nawal, we are the new generations who have read your books and inspired by your creativity, rebellion and revolution" I swallowed my tears and said "This is a happy occasion for all of us, a celebration of freedom, dignity, equality, creativity, rebellion, and revolution."
A young woman, named Rania, "We ask for a new constitution, a civil one, which does not segregate between races, gender, and religion." Another young man, a Christian named Butrus Dawood, said "We want a civil personal statute which does not segregate between people in terms of doctrine, gender or religion." A young man named Tariq al-Dimiri declared, "The young men made the revolution and we have to select our interim government and a national committee to change the constitution." A young man, Mohamed Amin, said "We want to open the People's Assembly and Shura Council and proceed with honest elections to choose a new president and new popular councils."
A young man named Ahmed Galal said, "We are a popular revolution that puts a new social contract, not just demands, slogan of our revolution." Free equality, and social justice, who makes revolution is one who puts the new government rules, chooses the transitional government, selects National Committee which changes the constitution, establishes a committee of governors of the revolution so that opportunists (the owners of wealth and power) are not imposed on us. Committees of governors did not participate with us in the revolution, but comes now to us by plane from Europe or America. Among the Egyptians who lived their lives outside or inside the country now come to become leaders of the revolution. 
We say: "Who did the revolution are the ones who are leading the revolution.Among us governors from young people of thirty years, forty or fifty years of age. We have competencies in all scientific political and economic fields. We are the ones who form a committee of our governors and our government in transition, and the National Committee to change the constitution and laws. A young Mohamed Said said "I feel proud for the first time in my life because I am Egyptian. Despair and depression were gone and defeat was turned into victory. We paid the price of freedom with the blood of our martyrs. There is no power to bring us back.

Al-Meidan turned to an entire city with its facilities, and in the hospital thereabout sleep injured and wounded, doctors and nurses from the masses of young people volunteered, residents volunteered with blankets, medicines, cotton and gauze, food and water, something like a dream and fantasy, I am living with the young men and women day and night. Committees were formed among these young men and women to handleall chores from sweeping the Meidan to transporting the injured to hospital, providing food and medicines, taking over the defense of the Meidan and responding to the lies of the system in the media to nominate the names of the Transitional Government and the Committee of governors, and others. Walls for the houses, institutions and taboos that distinguish between citizens, women and men, Muslim and Christians or others faded. 
We become one nation, no divisions on the basis of sex, religion or other,all demanding the departure of Mubarak and his trial and his men in the party and the government, the bloodshed on Wednesday, 2 February and all days since 25 January, corruption and tyranny over thirty years of rule, and the rest of the interview.

February 14, 2011

'President Mubarak's resignation responded to the Egyptian people's call for change. For nearly three weeks we have watched 
with baited breath as Egyptians took control of their political destiny. Young and old, rich and poor, religious and secular, men 
and women flooded the streets demanding their voices be heard. As the Congressional Black Caucus we understand the fight for 
freedom and equality, as well as the hard work that ensues to build a better future.

'I applaud the people of Egypt and I have been moved by their struggle to bring democracy and human rights to one of the 
world's great civilizations, and one of Africa's strongest countries. This is only the beginning and now the hard work of building
 a true democracy begins. I commend President Obama and the State Department for their handling of this situation as they 
continue to make it clear that the will of the Egyptian people is most important.

'The CBC supports the democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people and we share in their hopes for a free, more prosperous 

Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, II on the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak

Sunday, February 13, 2011



U.S. Hands off the Ongoing Egyptian Revolution!
End US Military Aid to Egypt and Israel!
A Statement by the United National Antiwar Committee

On Friday, February 11th, the heroic Egyptian people won a historic victory with the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. Now they are proceeding to secure this victory by moving on to eliminate the rest of this hated regime, and to win the freedom, jobs, equality and dignity which has motivated their revolution from the start.

Mubarak’s resignation was coupled with news that the officers of the Armed Forces are now running the country. This comes as more rank and file soldiers and lower-level officers were joining the protests, and as others stood by as protesters blockaded the state TV, parliament and other government facilities.

No military regime in power in history has ceded true democracy to their people. We can be sure that the military hierarchy in alliance with what’s left of the old regime will do everything in their power to stop the blossoming revolution in its tracks, to tell the protesters they must go home now and to wait for gifts from on high. THE DANGER IS REAL THAT WHEN THE MASSES SAY NO THAT THE MILITARY WILL RESPOND WITH REPRESSION.
We can be equally sure that Washington will give its full blessing and backing to these efforts of the remnants of the old regime and the military. Obama has made clear that he is solidly committed to the new face of the Egyptian regime, Omar Suleiman, who has proven over the years that he will collaborate with Washington in its torture and rendition policies. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was quoted in the New York Times saying that Washington would help organize political parties for future elections in Egypt – a maneuver used to subvert revolutions.

The United National Antiwar Committee has urged supporters to mobilize for demonstrations called by Egyptian organizations in the US in solidarity with the revolution in Egypt and against US military and diplomatic intervention. As Egyptians in the US hold victory celebrations and protests to support continued progress, UNAC points out the special obligations of antiwar activists in the US given Washington’s efforts to obstruct the wishes of the majority of the Egyptian people.

 The $1.3 billion a year in military aid which the US gives to Egypt must be cut off immediately.
    All US soldiers serving in Egypt, such as those in the Multinational Force in the Sinai, must be immediately withdrawn.
        US warships headed for Egypt must be immediately turned around.
From its founding, UNAC has opposed all US aid to Israel. That position is particularly important now given the danger that as the Egyptian revolution advances, Israel will intervene to derail it – or launch new attacks against Lebanon, Gaza, or elsewhere as a diversionary tactic.
Amidst the euphoria in Cairo, Al Jazeera interviewed a young woman in the crowd, who said: "It’s not just about Mubarak stepping down. It is about the process of bringing the people to power… The issue of women, the issue of Palestine, now everything seems possible."


Finally, we urge all supporters of the Egyptian people to redouble efforts to build the national antiwar marches called by UNAC for April 9th in New York and April 10th in San Francisco. These marches, called to demand an end to US wars and occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, an end to support for Israeli occupation, and for social justice and jobs, take on even more importance with the revolts in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere throughout the Arab world and Washington’s attempts to crush or derail them.



United National
Antiwar Committee or UNAC at P.O. Box 123, Delmar, NY 12054



Reflections on the (Possible) Revolution in Egypt

As’ad AbuKhalil,
The Angry Arab News Service, 11 February 2011

This is big: very big. 

I was talking to a friend earlier: this is possibly the biggest strategic shift in the Middle East since the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982.  The beauty of it for dreamers (and its alarm for enemies like Israel) is that it is unpredictable. 

The biggest victory is that `Umar Sulaman is out of the picture now.  Israel/US/Saudi Arabia were hoping that he would be the extension of Mubarak until some other clone of Mubarak is found.  That was not meant to be. 

Don't get me wrong: US and Saudi Arabia will now rush with bags of gold and cash to influence all members of the military command council.  The beauty of that is that there is no one person: it is a collective leadership (even if this rules for a transitional period) and the momentum of the Egyptian people will restrict their powers, notwithstanding wishes to the contrary by US/Israel/Saudi Arabia. 

One person in the council will emerge; we don't know who: and there will be leaks and back stabbing and plots and conspiracies.  There will be chaos in Egypt: which is good. 

People will come from nowhere: don't memorize the news names of this developing news story: you will hear of new names soon. 

This is a big strategic development: if Tunisia affected Egypt: Egypt is destined to affect the entire region (unless you believe that the announcement of cash bonuses from the Bahraini King this morning was a pure act of charity). 

Israel is in deep trouble, as is the US; Egypt was an intelligence and sabotage center.  The entire country and its dyamics are now unleashed on the word. There will be new ideas and new currents and trends.

Certainly, the freer the Arabs are, the more trouble for the US/Israel/Saudi Arabia.  Read the statement of the Saudi foreign minister: he just yesterday remembered the justice of the Palestinian cause. There is panic in Arab ruling circles.  I spoke to a dear Jordanian friend this morning: he was calling to congratulate me.  I told him: I now think that I will finally see your farm in Jordan. 

Those who stood by the Egyptian uprising (the Arab people and Hizbullah--Hamas was too afraid to speak a word--and Aljazeera and Arab nationalists everywhere) will be in the good grace of the Egyptian uprising. And those who were opposed: the Wahhabi Arab liberals, Israel, House of Saud and its propaganda outlets will be in trouble.  Let me put it this way: Saudi princes will not feel comfortable in returning to the brothels of Cairo anytime soon. 

The shock for Israel and US is double: not only is Mubarak gone, but so is Sulayman.  The ouster of Sulayman ran against their scheme.  I believe that Mubarak arranged for that (although the people insisted on it) to get back at the US.  Leaving them to scramble.  The good thing is that Minister of Defense Tantawi has the leadership skills of Joe (six pack) Biden. 

Stay tuned.

Egypt: Founding declaration of new independent trade union federation

Posted by Eric Lee on January 31, 2011 

Egypt is going through historical moments… Its people is courageously struggling to defend the right to live a decent life… the right to dignity, freedom and social justice… to decent opportunities and just pay… to a democratic society for all, offering every single citizen a share in its wealth and GNP… a society that does not allow few to buy private jets whereas the rest of the population cannot even afford public transportation… a society that refuses to pay the top of the pyramid salaries higher thousand of time than minimum wage.

A society that allows its people to breathe freely… to freely speak, interact and express itself… a society that allows all people categories and classes to defend their interests and negotiate freely… a society that does not oppress its people, inhibits its ambitions and natural tendencies to develop workers capacities and improve their life conditions.

Workers and people struggled for decades and participated, especially since 4 years, in unprecedented recurrent protest actions to defend their legal rights. They succeeded in their endeavor despite the lack of independent union organization, stolen piece by piece for decades. They succeeded in attracting larges social sectors, and mobilizing greater sympathy among the Egyptian society, workers and union movements.

Workers defended their right to work to face unemployment specter – that devours youth – and demanded to set a new fair minimum wage that guarantees decent living for all workers. They fought courageously to defend their democratic right to organize and create independent union organizations.

Labor struggles paved the way to today’s people revolution. That is why Egypt workers and employees totally refuse that the “governmental” general federation represents them and speaks in their name, because it often denied their rights and claims and even issued the famous statement on January 27 claiming to oppose every single protest action during this period.

Therefore, independent unions and committees [RETA, Retired Workers Union, Health professionals Union, Teachers Independent Union] along with workers independent groups in industries declare the creation of Egyptian Federation for Independent Unions and its constitutional body on Sunday the 30th of January 2011 and emphasizes on the following:

Egypt citizens right to work – and binding the government to “unemployment compensation”.

Define a minimum wage no less than 1200 LE, with a yearly raise proportionate to inflation; guarantee workers rights to bonuses and benefits according to work value, especially work compensation for those facing work hazards. Moreover, maximum wage should never exceed minimum wage by more than ten times.

The right for all Egyptian citizens to fair social security including the right to health care, housing, education “ensuring free education and syllabus development to cope with science and technology evolution”, the right for all retired to decent pensions and benefits.

Workers and employees right to organize, to create their own bylaws, to remove all legal restrictions regarding this right.

Free all detainees imprisoned after January 25th!

Egypt Federation for Independent Unions Constitutional Body invites all Egypt workers to create civil committees in order to defend their workplace, workers and citizens during these critical times and to organize protest actions and strikes in the workplaces, except for vital sectors workplaces, to realize Egypt people claims.

Egyptian Federation for Independent Unions
The “Constitutional Body”