Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Agony of Betrayal: An Ugly Face of Revolution

From a longer-term perspective, the remarkable tenacity of Egyptian protesters (surfacing repeatedly despite bruising setbacks) likely bodes well for the eventual success of the revolution in achieving lasting and fundamental change.

But there is no escaping the agony that accompanies this process. This has been no more clearly evident than in the last 3 days when vicious battles have taken place between protesters and the military.

Let one argue as one might about shared responsibility (e.g., provocative vandalism on the part of the protesters) or unsophisticated tactics (Stones are Easy - Raise the Price of Your Blood), there still can be no justification for the brutality with which military or police abuse and cripple those that challenge them.

For Egyptians, it is especially excruciating that it is their military (as opposed to the never-respected security police who were the targets of earlier protests) that is now, not just occasionally, but fully leading these escalating assaults. The callous, cruel, and sometimes savage beating of citizens that populates news broadcasts of revolutions across the world sears Egyptians particularly, because these military perpetrators not long ago walked hand in hand with those they now abuse.

Indeed, during the early phase of the revolution youths took pains to defend against sterile media portrayals of the Egyptian miitary as self-interested, articulating and explaining how unified the citizenry has always been with the military. Referring to the January revolution, one youth from our project summarized the remarkable calm between citizens and military by expressing, "We knew they wouldn't hurt us; and they knew we wouldn't hurt them." Others elaborated on the heralded bond between citizenry and military that is forged both by the nationalist ethos that is foundational to Egyptian military training ("you are here to serve and protect the people") and by the camradery of peerhood ("they are my classmates").

But, as one youth, Sherine, wrote today, "What is most disturbing right now is that there is no trust between SCAF and the military on one side, and the people on the other. This loss of trust will take years to reclaim and much damage will result until this happens." - and yesterday, "Egypt is getting raped by those entrusted with its protection."

I've had enough experience in Egypt this year to know just how grave these sentiments are. This is not just a blip of an outburst. Deep wounds are being carved in these days, with the essence of the brutality being the betrayal.

No better summarized than by elmoghazy09 in the lead in to his video: The Transgressions of the Military Council and Its Fabrications, and by the awful images it records:

To whomever defends the military council

To those whose eyes are covered and believe that the army and the people are hand in hand

To Ganzawiry, is what you said the truth

And finally . . . are these the good soldiers of the land?

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