Voices of Egypt I: Revolution & America's Role

Jun 6, 2011

By Shadi Rahimi

Last month War Times correspondent Shadi Rahimi spent ten days in Egypt. This is the first of a series of videos she made about what she saw and heard there. It's clear there's a wide range of opinion in Egypt about the meaning of the revolution and considerable anger about the U.S. role in the Arab world. As you'll see, for one man that anger leads to an open admiration of Osama bin Laden:

I'm in Egypt, visiting, learning and sharing. This is a little piece I put together from a protest I attended my first day in Egypt, held in Tahrir Square. The views represented in the video are of the individuals I happened to talk to. There's 20 million residents of Cairo, with very diverse views. One of the best things about being here is watching strangers talk politics with each other on the street.

On the day I arrived in Cairo, May 18, a protest was held in Tahrir Square to call for the release of those arrested outside of the Israeli consulate three days earlier. Those protestors had been commemorating the Palestinian Nakba – the forced dispossession of the Palestinian homeland with the establishment of the State of Israel – by chanting that the ambassador must go. News organizations reported that the protest was mostly peaceful until military police and Central Security Forces used tear gas grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds. Al Jazeera English reported that at least two protesters were shot by live ammunition, one of who was shot in the head. Around 130 people were reportedly arrested and expected to be questioned by a military prosecutor.

The crackdown demonstrated the military’s force and judicial power in post-revolution Egypt - a source of much discontent among many Egyptians I spoke to in Cairo. Thus, the protest I attended in Tahrir Square May 18 was fueled with strong emotions toward Egyptian military rule and the American government, which has provided the hardware for ousted President Hosni Mubarak and the military to rule over Egyptian people with force.

The U.S. is known to be the primary benefactor of the Egyptian regime, and Egypt is among the largest recipients of U.S. assistance, after Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan. It receives $1.3 billion in military aid annually. As Sherif Mickawi, one of the protestors at Tahrir, explained: “The people here believe the U.S. government is not supporting democracy because they support dictatorship regimes and give them the weapons. Already the youth have found out that smoke (bombs) and bullets are made in U.S.A. So how does it work? You support democracy, or old dictatorship? So what we need from U.S.A. is don’t support any dictatorship regimes. Don’t support any regime put pressure on their nation. Because nation always wins. And we will not forgive anyone who supports these regimes.”

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the entire War Times project

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