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Egypt Government Cracks Down on Foreign Observers, Death Toll Rises

Egypt Government Cracks Down on Foreign Observers, Death Toll Rises

Just this evening, today’s New York Times reports that the Obama administration is in discussions with Egyptian officials about a proposal for President Hosni Mubarak to resign immediately and to turn over power to a transitional government headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman with the support of the Egyptian military. The proposal calls for the new government to ‘invite members from a broad range of opposition groups, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood, to begin work to open up the country’s electoral system in an effort to bring about free and fair elections in September.’

 

The uprising in Egypt entered its tenth day with more reports of violence and with the government arresting foreign journalists and human rights activists. The Feburary 3rd Guardian reports that, since violence between protesters and supporters of Mubarak broke out on Thursday, thirteen people have died and some 1200 injured. While the government seems to be making some concessions, Mubarak continues to refuse to step down immediately and claimed that, should he do so, there would be even more disorder and chaos in Egypt.

Christiane Amanpour Interviews Mubarak

 In an interview with Christiane Amanpour of ABC News, Mubarak said that he is ‘”fed up”‘ with being Egypt’s president and that ‘”after 62 years in public service I have had enough. I want to go.”‘ With his son Gamal—who has resigned from the ruling National Democratic party, according to Egypt Daily News–beside him, Mubarak said that he had told President Obama:

“You don’t understand the Egyptian culture and what would happen if I step down now.”

The New York Times notes that the Egyptian government has been seeking to ‘increasingly spread an image that foreigners were inciting the uprising’ in which tens of thousands of Egyptians have taken to the street to call for Mubarak to step down after thirty years in power. These suggestions, the New York Times notes, are ‘part of a days-long Egyptian news media campaign that has portrayed the protesters as troublemakers and ignored the scope of an uprising that has captivated the Arab world.’ In Jordan, King Hussein dissolved his cabinet on Tuesday while in Yemen, the government offered concessions to the opposition, which has promised to call a demonstration every Thursday until March. And in Syria, there were calls for a “day of rage” this weekend against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Egyptian Government Appears to Offer Political Concessions

In an interview on Egyptian state television, recently appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman stated that Mubarak’s son, Gamal, would not run for president in September. He also ‘called for dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood, which remains banned, even though it is the country’s most influential opposition group.’ In referring to the Muslim Brotherhood by name ‘rather than the government’s usual coded language,’ Suleiman suggested a significant change in the government’s position toward the group. 

However, it seems that the Egyptian government has embarked on a strategy of ‘turning broader opinion in the country against the protests and perhaps wearing down the protesters themselves, some of whom seemed exhausted by two days of clashes.’ Suleiman ‘appealed to Egypt’s sense of decency in allowing the president to serve out his term,’ and he spoke of the ‘mounting losses’ that have been ‘inflicted on a crippled Egyptian economy’ by the uprising.

 

Violence Against Foreign Observers Rises

Supporters of Mubarak and the Egyptian government have attacked journalists—including CNN’s Anderson Cooper—and smashed their equipment. News media outlets with operations overlooking Tahrir Square, which has been the ‘epicenter’ of the protests, were shut down, today’s New York Times reports. 

The attacks on foreign journalists suggest that the government is attempting to control the flow of information about what is going on in Egypt. The Guardian reports that two journalists from the New York Times were detained overnight by the police. the Washington Post’s bureau chief and a photographer were among two dozen journalists detained by the Interior Ministry on Thursday morning. 

And it is not only American journalists who have been attacked:  The Greek newspaper Kathimerini said that one of its journalists was treated in the hospital for a stab wound to the leg after being attacked by pro-Mubarak supporters. Al-Jazeera—whose Cairo bureau was shut down by the authorities on Sunday—reports that three of its reporters have been detained. Reporter Jean-Francois Lepine of Canada’s CBC all-French RDI network said that he and a cameraman were ‘surrounded by a mob that beat them until they were rescued by the Egyptian army’: ‘”Without them, we probably would have been beaten to death,” he added. White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, has condemned these attacks on journalists as ‘“completely and totally unacceptable.”‘

In addition, two employees of Amnesty International and one from Human Rights Watch have been detained and an informal center set up by human rights workers in Tahrir Square seized by Mubarak’s supporters.  The offices of two groups in Cairo – the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre and the Centre for Economic and Social Rights – have been raided and some of their staff arrested.

Said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, the regional coordinator of the Campaign to Protect Journalists in the Guardian:

“The Egyptian government is employing a strategy of eliminating witnesses to their actions.”

 

United Nations Orders Evacuation of Its Staff; World Leaders Call for Immediate Reform in Egypt

With the violence rising, the United Nations has ordered the evacuation of much of its staff on Thursday. And the American Embassy, which has ordered the compulsory evacuation of some diplomats and their families, said that more than 1900 American citizens had been flown out of Egypt on Monday, with more scheduled to leave on Thursday.

Many foreign leaders have been calling for an ‘immediate and profound reform’ of the Egyptian government.  A joint statement by the leaders of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Spain reads:

“Only a quick and orderly transition to a broad-based government will make it possible to overcome the challenges Egypt is now facing. That transition process must start now.”

Like President Obama, European leaders ‘stopped short’ of calling for Mubarak’s immediate resignation.  As the Guardian notes, United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, was more direct, saying:

“President Mubarak’s announcement that he will stay until the end of his term and will not run for re-election – I’m not sure that will satisfy the demands of his people. If there is a need for change, it should happen now.”

Friday could ‘prove decisive to the uprising,’ says the New York Times. Organizers have declared tomorrow a ‘Friday of departure’ for Mubarak, and plan to march on the presidential palace. Many Egyptians continue to post updates via Twitter directly from Tahrir Square. They include Hossam el-Hamalawy, who writes on Twitter as @3arabawy; Mona Seif, who writes on Twitter as @monasosh; Seif’s brother, Alaa Abd El Fattah,who writes on Twitter as @alaa; and Ramy Raoof, who writes on Twitter as @ramyraoof. Other activists and bloggers are noted on the New York Times’ Lede blog. If you follow their updates, you get a sometimes minute-by-minute view of what is going on in Egypt, right from Tahrir Square.

 

Previous Care2 coverage

Obama Administration Middle East Policy Approach Evolving

Is the Egyptian Government Behind the Pro-Mubarak Protesters?

Egyptian Protests Turn Violent As Pro-Mubarak Supporters Clash With Protesters

Read more: , , , , , , , , , ,

Photo taken on January 29, 2011, by RamyRaoof.

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88 comments

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5:17PM PST on Mar 8, 2011

I don't have enough knowledge of this situation to have anything to comment on, but I would like thank whoever in responsible for this article. Whether it is true, false or somewhere in the middle, reading this reminds me to keep the Egyptian people in my thoughts and prayers.

4:56PM PST on Mar 8, 2011

I don't have enough knowledge of this situation to have anything to comment on, but I would like thank whoever in responsible for this article. Whether it is true, false or somewhere in the middle, reading this reminds me to keep the Egyptian in my thoughts and prayers.

3:06AM PST on Feb 9, 2011

a few notes:
first egyptians as a majourity are moderate moslems that is they are moslems and belive in god but are not with sharia law stoinning and all,
second the muslim brotherhood are not a majourity in egypt thier number doesnt exceed 2 million in 87 million ppl nor are they influencial,
third the brotherhood wasn't banned for anything but an attembted assasination of gamal abdelnasser that was in the 50es
fourth: Egyptians are more aware of what thier country needs and they can think on thier own, everyone who thinks he knows what is good for egyptian just think for a minute if someone comes and tell you how the ppl of your country should live or act.

power to the ppl
best regards from an egyptian

7:15AM PST on Feb 8, 2011

Ilk Charles "AN EMERGENCY MEETING OF THE UNITED NATIONS SHOULD CONVENE TO TAKE STEPS TOWARDS RESOLVING THE HUMAN TRAGEDY IN EGYPT."

What Steps??? Like the ones, the UN are taking in Palestine!!!. UN is just a Farce; they are stooges of the Israeli and American Governments. Pretend to NOT see atrocities, whenever instructed by America. They have been turning a Blind Eye, to all the oppression taking place, by the Best Buddies and Tyrannical, Murderous,Dictators ruling the middle eastern countries, as per america's instructions. Almost ALL these tyrants are supported by america ,who, call them their Friends. Double standards, is the name of their political game to increase their personal power and wealth.

7:13AM PST on Feb 8, 2011

Ilk Charles "AN EMERGENCY MEETING OF THE UNITED NATIONS SHOULD CONVENE TO TAKE STEPS TOWARDS RESOLVING THE HUMAN TRAGEDY IN EGYPT."

What Steps??? Like the ones, the UN are taking in Palestine!!!. UN is just a Farce; they are stooges of the Israeli and American Governments. Pretend to NOT see atrocities, whenever instructed by America. They have been turning a Blind Eye, to all the oppression taking place, by the Best Buddies and Tyrannical, Murderous,Dictators ruling the middle eastern countries, as per america's instructions. Almost ALL these tyrants are supported by america ,who, call them their Friends. Double standards, is the name of their political game to increase their personal power and wealth.

7:01AM PST on Feb 8, 2011

Anne C "I would hazard a guess that reporters were held at the police stations and Ministry for the Interior buildings FOR THEIR OWN SAFETY!"

What a load of crap. LOL.

6:22PM PST on Feb 7, 2011

And Becky Y.. you make very good sense! a green star coming ur way :0)

6:18PM PST on Feb 7, 2011

this story makes no sense, One minute news reporters are attacked by pro- Mabarack supporters, detained by police, and Ministry for the Interior,( to stifle news reports)next thing they''re being beaten by a mob until rescued by the Egyptian Army, a mob who would have killed them otherwise. I quote ....
he and a cameraman were 'surrounded by a mob that beat them until they were rescued by the Egyptian army': '"Without them, we probably would have been beaten to death," "' so which is it? the police, the army, SUPPORT Mubarack. WHY would the Army rescue the reporters if they are under Mubaracks orders to crack down on them?? if it doesn't make sense then its not true! this is what I read between the lines! Meddling reporters think they should be safe anywhere! WHY? this is a riot, folks and they are out there amongst rioters who are accusing the USA and the west of meddling in Egypts affairs. They see western reporters! what the hell do you think theyre gonna do? THEY are the enemy too! I would hazard a guess that reporters were held at the police stations and Ministry for the Interior buildings FOR THEIR OWN SAFETY! they shouldn;t even be there! Obama and the media should butt out of Egypts business, its THEIR country, and it will be solved THEIR way!! A recent Pew Poll showed that Egyptians want SHARIA Government, 84% want death for those leaving Islam and 74% want strict Sharia( stoning for adultery, hanging gays, chopping off hands feet for theft)leave them to it!

11:41AM PST on Feb 7, 2011

I am not an Egyptian, have always had my freedom, am a white, liberal female....and I question why reporters and our government feel the need to be everywhere, think they have the right to be everywhere. I think how I would feel if I were in a civil demonstration in America and some foreign reporter is standing in the middle of my outburst against the policies of our government and, smiling begins to tell everyone how there are bleeding people in the streets and we are burning and destroying businesses when, in fact, the truth is that paid agitators have been unleashed on our peaceful demonstration to make it seem like we have caused the violence. Even when we are watching these things, we have no idea what the truth really is. What I pray for is that the people who are in the right win and the oppressors lose and the violence stops and freedom prevails.

7:22PM PST on Feb 6, 2011

thanks for this very post. Egyptian Government can't deny the people desire for long for sure. Mubarak must step down immediately,unconditionally.

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