Where the Arab spring will end is anyone’s guess

Arab unrest has become a permanent feature of the global landscape, unfinished business wherever it is happening.

Egyptian protester with portraits of Mohamed Bouazizi and Khaled Said

The Arab Spring united protesters across the region, but it is still unclear how the situation will play out in many countries. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Tunisia‘s Jasmine revolution will always be remembered as the event that triggered the Arab spring, which has shattered the status quo from Libyato Syria and is widely seen as the biggest transformative event of the 21st century so far. But, six months on, progress has been patchy.

Mohammed Bouazizi, the young Tunisian who started it all by burning himself to death in December 2010, had his desperate imitators in Egypt, where revolution erupted days after Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s flight into Saudi exile; and in Jordan, which has seen sporadic unrest but no uprising.

But if the politics of the Arab spring are local, many factors are common across: young people angry and frustrated at the lack of freedoms, opportunities and jobs, unaccountable and corrupt governments, cronyism and, in a few places, grinding poverty.

Rich and poor alike lived in fear of the secret police. But Tunisia, one of the most repressive regimes, fell quickly. The decision by the army to dump the president and not crush the protests was a vital lesson for the Egyptian generals. The alternative is the cruelty of the dictators’ fightbacks in Tripoli and Damascus. Regional differences were ignored in the chain reaction that followed. Yemen’s protests were galvanised by the drama in Cairo’s Tahrir Square but they also involved tribalism, elite rivalry and a small but alarming al-Qaida presence against a background of resource depletion and fear of state failure. Sectarian tensions were the key to the trouble in Bahrain, where a Sunni monarchy rules over a restive Shia majority.

Islamists, the bogeymen of the west and the enemies of all autocratic Arab regimes, have not – yet – played a significant role. Still, Ennahda in Tunisia and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt have new opportunities in multi-party systems that will in turn change them. The killing of Osama bin Laden was a timely reminder of the defeat of jihadi ideology in an Arab world being transformed by people power.

Another variable has been the response: French support for Ben Ali was embarrassing; the US was praising Mubarak days before he departed. Muammar Gaddafi had no friends – and the Arab League was crucial in providing a figleaf for UN-sanctioned Nato intervention. Bashar al-Assad, by contrast, has yet to be condemned by the UN for a crackdown that has cost at least 1,300 lives. Bahrain is too strategically important to face more than a rebuke from the US.

Elsewhere in the region, Israel is nervous about the demise of Mubarak. Turkey fears instability in Syria. The Palestinians, eclipsed by drama elsewhere, are trying to learn lessons. Iran’s support for the Arab uprisings is sheer hypocrisy given its crushing of democratic protests since 2009.

Now the EU and the US must stop being seen by Arabs as “partners for dictators” in the words of the Tunisian academic Ahmed Driss. Billions of dollars will be needed to support democracy and development.

Tunisia and Egypt fear instability as they face free elections. But the really hard transformational work, as the respected commentator Rami Khouri has observed, “will start in the years after the new parliaments are elected and the complete infrastructure of political governance is forged according to the will of the majority”.

There are exceptions. The Saudis are investing to create jobs and defuse dissent. Jordan and Morocco have tried liberal gestures. Algeria’s oil wealth and experience of civil war have helped maintain peace there. But it is striking how Arab unrest has become a permanent feature of the global landscape. It is unfinished business wherever it is happening. “The outcome of this tectonic realignment is not just unpredictable but unknowable,” said Prince Hassan of Jordan.

 

Source : Guardian

Ganzeer: The Artist behind the Blueprints for the Revolution!

On the 27th of January, 2 days after the revolution started, and one day before the famous Friday 28 (The Day of Rage), Western Media reported the surfacing of an Anonymous flyer that gives a blueprint for the revolution. This caught our attention later on, because it negated those who said that there was no “planning” and that the revolution was a spontaneous occurrence.

The presence of such a flyer suggests careful planning, and the full knowledge of what was going to take place. It is simply a recruitment and rallying communiqué and ultimately proves that there were schemers and plotters. Now we are not against the presence of those, but the important question is why didn’t they come out after the revolution? And why is everyone who was involved in the revolution trying to prove that it wasn’t planned?!!

Anyhow, we first picked up the news about the flyer on The Guardian.uk, which wrote of:“Anonymous leaflets circulating in Cairo” that provide “practical and tactical advice for mass demonstrations, confronting riot police, and besieging and taking control of government offices.”


The booklet/flyer was titled “How to revolt cleverly” (كيف تثور بحدائة) and it consisted of 26 pages of tactical advices and black & white illustrations (probably to facilitate photocopying), arranged in a neat and straight layout, the booklet is signed only by: “long live Egypt”.

The booklet also includes aerial photographs with approach routes marked and diagrams explaining crowd formations. It advises demonstrators to wear clothing such as hooded jackets, running shoes, goggles and scarves to protect against teargas (a piece of advice which we received over facebook and proved very handy on the 28th of Jan), and to carry dustbin lids – to ward off baton blows and rubber bullets – first aid kits.

A key point which highlights the degree of preparation was that the booklet instructed recipients to redistribute it by email and photocopy, and not to use social media such as Facebook and Twitter, which (supposedly) were being monitored by the security forces. The booklet asked protesters in Cairo to gather in large numbers in their own neighborhoods first, to avoid getting detected by police forces and state security, and then move towards key installations such the state broadcasting HQ on the Nile-side Corniche and try to take control of it, “in the name of the people”. Other priority targets listed were the presidential palace and police stations in several parts of central Cairo.

We researched further, and found news of the booklet on many other western news networks, but as usual no mention of it on the national or Arab news networks.

On the same day The Atlantis published a translated version of the leaflets, which it said, it had received from “2 sources” but didn’t disclose who sent it to them, or whether they knew who was behind it or not.

We were very intrigued by the leaflets and wanted to know who were the people behind it, and we researched it extensively for the past months, but with no luck. Until we had a breakthrough two weeks ago.

On May 26, 2011, Twitter was on fire with the news of arrest of three activists for hanging a poster titled “Freedom Mask”. Among those three activists was the artist who designed the poster, a graffiti artist & graphic designer named Mohamed Fahmy, who goes by the net alias Ganzeer. Mohamed Fahmy was released on the same day, but already he had caught our attention.

We researched his work extensively, and immediately we were stricken by the close resemblance between his graphic design and the “Revolution Blueprints”. Fahmy has a very distinctive style in his graphic design and illustrations, and the Revolution booklet bore the trademark of his style.

But what really closed the deal for us and made us 99% certain that he was the artist behind the “How to revolt cleverly” booklet, was his flyer designs, and particularly those two posters prepared after the revolution for two graffiti workshops and an older lealflet he designed in 2009.

The above mentioned works are identical to the revolution booklet (see pictures below), not only do they have almost the same illustration work, but they also had the same fonts, layout design and the black & white clean-cut style of the Revolution booklet.

After we concluded our research, and were 99% certain that Mohamed Fahmy, is in fact the artist behind the “Revolution Blueprint” booklet, we decided to contact him on twitter, and get further information on why he designed the booklet, however, when we asked him if he was the person behind “How to revolt cleverly” booklet, his response was “Shuuush!” and then followed with: “It is not important!”

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Oh… But it is Mr. Ganzeer, it is actually very important!

And the more important question is, who else was involved in this Booklet with you?
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Update: 20:30 – 14/06/2011

Ganzeer responded to this article on his twitter account, denying his connection to the “Revolution Blueprints” and claiming that Black & White designs and the use of similar typefaces is not a proof that he is responsible for the blueprints.

Despite the fact that this is true, however, other than the identical design layout, the style of illustrations in the booklet carries the impeccable finger prints of Ganzeer’s craft.  Not to mention that the graphic designer who designed the leaflets must be an activist involved in the pre-revolution political scene.

It is highly unlikely that there is another activist, who has the same style, design skills & illustration skills of Mohamed Fahmy, and who operates in the same way as he does.

Thus despite his denial, we are still convinced that Mohamed Fahmy is the creator of the “How to revolt cleverly” booklet.

Source : Anarchiext

جنزير:الفنان المصمم لمخططات الثورة المصرية

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في 27 يناير، بعد مرور يومان على بداية الثورة، وقبل يوم واحد من جمعة 28 الشهيرة (يوم الغضب) ، نشرت وسائل الاعلام الغربية أخبار عن ظهور منشورات مجهولة المصدر يتم توزيعها بغرض التخطيط للثورة.  لاقى هذا اهتمامنا في وقت لاحق ، لأنه يبطل إدعاءات البعض بانه لم يكن هناك “تخطيط مسبق”، وبأن الثورة كان حدثا عفويا.

وجود مثل هذه المنشورات يشير إلى تخطيط دقيق، ومعرفة تامة بما سيجري و بالتالي التحسب له بتوزيع هذه المنشورات، التي هي ببساطة وسيلة تحذير و حشد، مما يثبت في النهاية أن هناك مخططين، كانوا يعلمون بما سيحدث أو قد يحدث. و نحن لسنا ضد وجود هؤلاء، ولكن السؤال هو لماذا لم يخرجوا بعد الثورة؟ و لم يصر الجميع على محاولة إثبات أن الثورة كانت مجرد مصادفة!!!

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على أية حال ، نحن التقطت أول الأخبار عن منشورات على صحيفة الجارديان، و التي كتبت: “منشورات مجهولة تتداول في القاهرة” و توفر “نصائح عملية وتكتيكية لكيفية المشاركة في مظاهرات حاشدة ومواجهة رجال شرطة و مكافحة الشغب ، ومحاصرة والسيطرة على المكاتب و الأجهزةالحكومية”.

عنوان المنشورات “كيف تثور بحدائة” و تتألف من 26 صفحة من النصائح التكتيكية و الرسوم بالأبيض والأسود (غالباً لتسهيل التصوير)، ورتبت في تصميم أنيق وعلى التوالي، موقعة بعبارة: “تحيا مصر”.

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المنشورات تتضمن صور جوية مع إيضاحيه للطرق الوصول للأهداف الحيوية ورسوم بيانية توضح كيفية تشكيل الحشود.  كما تحتوي على نصائح للمتظاهرين بارتداء ملابس واقية مثل السترات و الأقنعة، و الاحذية الخاصة ، و نظارات واقية و كوفيات للحماية من القنابل المسيلة للدموع ( تلك النصيحة التي تلقيناها من خلال الفيسبوك وأثبتت أنها مفيدة جداً في يوم 28 يناير) ، وأستخدام سواتر من صفائح الزبالة – للحماية من ضربات الهروات والرصاص المطاطي –كما تنصح بحمل معدات الإسعافات الأولية.

و لكن من النقاط الرئيسية التي تسلط الضوء على درجة استعداد أن المنشور به تعليمات للموزعين  تنصح بإعادة التوزيع عن طريق البريد الإلكتروني والنسخ ، وعدم استخدام المواقع الاجتماعية مثل فيسبوك وتويتر ، والتي (يفترض) أنها مراقبة من قبل أجهزة الأمن.  كما نصح المنشور المتظاهرين في القاهرة بالتجمع بأعداد كبيرة في الأحياء الخاصة بهم بعيدا عن أعين قوات الشرطة والجيش ومن ثم التحرك نحو هذه المنشآت الحيوية في الدولة، مثل مقر الإذاعة على كورنيش النيل ومحاولة السيطرة عليه “باسم الشعب”. و حدد أهداف أخرى ذات الأولوية مثل القصر الرئاسي ومراكز الشرطة في عدة أجزاء من وسط القاهرة.

عندما إلتقطنا الخبر، قمنا بالبحث عن مصادر أخرى، فوجدنا الخبر منشور على العديد من الشبكات الإخبارية الغربية، ولكن كالعادة غير منشور على شبكات الأنباء الوطنية أو العربية. في نفس اليوم (27 يناير) نشر موقع اتلانتيك نسخة مترجمة من المنشورات، و كتبوافي المقال أنهم التي حصلوا عليها من “مصادرين” و لكن لم يكشفوا عن هذه المصادر، أو عن ما إذا كانوا يعرفون من مصمم الكتيب أم لا.

منذ أن إلتقطنا أخبار المنشورات و نحن مهتمون جداً بمعرفة من كان وراء هذه المنشورات، فقمنا بالبحث على الإنترنت على نطاق واسع طوال الاشهر الماضية ، ولكن بدون حظ أو توفيق، حتى وقعنا على كشف بالمصادفة البحته خلال الاسبوع الماضي.

في 26 مايو 2011 ، كان موقع تويتر مشتعلاً بأخبارإعتقال ثلاثة من النشطاء بسبب قيامهم بتعليق بوستر بعنوان “قناع الحرية”. بين هؤلاء الناشطين الثلاثة كان الفنان الذي صمم البوستر، وهو مصمم جرافيكس و فنان جرافتي يدعى محمد فهمي، و يستخدم الاسم المستعار “جنزير” على شبكة الإنترنت. تم إطلاق سراح محمد فهمي في اليوم نفسه ، ولكنه على الفور حاذ على إنتباهنا.

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بالبحث في أعمال محمد فهمي الفنيه، لاحظنا على الفورالتشابه الوثيق بين الرسومه وتصميماته و تلك التصميمات و الرسوم الموجودة في منشورات الثورة. أسلوب وطريقة الرسوم التوضيحية واحدة تقريباً في معظم أعماله.

ولكن ما أكد شكوكنا وجعلنا على يقين لا يدع مجالا للشك، بأن محمد فهمي هو الفنان المصمم لكتيب “كيف تثور بحدائه”، كان طريقته في تصميم البوسترات و الكتيبات، وخاصةً في بوسترين مصممين بعد الثورة للدعاية ليوم الجرافيتي(أنظر أسفل) و كتيب قام بتصميمه في 2009. ليس فقط لأنهم يحويان نفس الرسوم التوضيحية، ولكن لأنهم أيضاً مصممين بنفس الخط وتصميم الصفحات كما في منشورات الثورة تماماً.

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و لهذ، و بعد تأكدنا من نتيجة بحثنا – بنسبة 99%-قررنا الاتصال بمحمد فهمي و سؤاله عن كتيب “كيف تثور بحدائه” ، فكان رده على تويتر هو: شششش… ليس مهم!

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ولكن في رأينا، يا ا. جنزيرأنه مهم، و مهم جدا ايضاً!
و الأهم هو، هل كانت فكرتك وحدك، أم كان لك شركاء؟؟؟

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تحديث: في 20:30 – 14/06/2011

رد جنزير على هذا المقال على صفحته على تويتر، نافيا علاقته ب “مخططات الثورة”، و كتب أن الأبيض والأسود طريقة تصميم شائعة و أن استخدام الخطوط المماثلة ليس دليل على أنه هو مصمم المخططات.

و على الرغم من أن هذا صحيح، و لكن، بخلاف تصميم الصفحات المتطابقة، فإن  نمط  الرسوم التوضيحية في كتيب يحمل بصمة جنزير المميزة.  ناهيك عن أن مصمم الجرافيك الذي صمم منشورات يجب أن يكون ناشط معروف من قبل الثورة.

ومن المستبعد جدا أن يكون هناك ناشط آخر، له نفس النمط، ومهارات التصميم و الرسم المميز  لمحمد فهمي، و يعمل بنفس طريقته.

و لذلك و على الرغم من نفيه، نحن مازلنا مقتنعون ان محمد فهمي هو مصمم منشورات  ”كيف تثور بحدائة”

Source : Anarchitext

Egyptian man’s death became symbol of callous state

ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT – Had it not been for a leaked morgue photo of his mangled corpse, tenacious relatives and the power of Facebook, the death of Khaled Said would have become a footnote in the annals of Egyptian police brutality.

Instead, outrage over the beating death of the 28-year-old man in this coastal city last summer, and attempts by local authorities to cover it up, helped spark the mass protests demanding the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

The story of Said’s death is in many ways the story of today’s Egypt, where an authoritarian regime is being roiled by a groundswell of popular anger. Fear and resentment of the police has been a prominent theme, and when Google executive Wael Ghonim created a Facebook page titled “We are all Khaled Said,” the grisly morgue photo went viral and the public had a rallying point.

“Every family in Egypt has seen something like this happen to a member,” Ali Kassem, Said’s uncle, said Tuesday. “I will feel like I have attained justice only if the regime falls and a new government is formed.”

Said’s first brush with the detectives accused of killing him came about a month before he was bludgeoned to death in early June, according to Kassem, who provided the following account.

Police officers at an Internet cafe below his apartment were exchanging a video that showed officers divvying up seized narcotics and cash. Relatives think the clip was delivered via Bluetooth to Said’s computer by accident. The young man shared it with friends, who forwarded it to others.

Two of the detectives implicated in the video approached Said outside his building, in the Sidi Gaber district of Alexandria, about noon June 6. One grabbed him by the shoulder and hauled him inside the Internet cafe.

The officers smashed Said’s head against a marble table repeatedly, until the owner of the shop asked them to take it outside. They then dragged Said inside a nearby building where the two kicked him and smashed his head against stone steps, witnesses later told relatives.

The next day, Said’s mother was notified that her son was at the morgue. The cause of death, she was told, was severe cardiovascular asphyxiation caused by a high level of drugs in his system. The initial police report received by the family said Said had apparently died after he swallowed a bag that contained marijuana.

Finding that account suspicious, relatives bribed a guard at the morgue to take a photo of the corpse. It showed Said’s skull had been cracked and his face disfigured.

After local prosecutors expressed little interest in pursuing the case, Kassem, who was a father figure to Said, began holding news conferences. Said’s cousins created a page on Facebook to expose what they called police brutality.

Under pressure, regional prosecutors opened an investigation that led to the arrests of two detectives who are charged in the beating and an officer accused in the coverup. The case has not gone to trial.

For years, human rights groups have documented a pattern of abuse by Egyptian police officers, a problem government officials have played down and in some instances denied.

The issue has long alarmed U.S. officials. In 2009, U.S. Ambassador Margaret Scobey wrote in a cable that police brutality in the country was “routine and pervasive,” according to one of the leaked documents recently released by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.

“Contacts describe the police using force to extract confessions from criminals as a daily event,” Scobey wrote in a cable in January 2009.

Said’s mother and sister have been among the demonstrators who have attended daily protests in central Cairo since the movement began.

Kassem, 65, said supporters have approached him during demonstrations in Alexandria in recent days to remind him of a tradition in Egypt. The ritual says that families should not accept condolences for loved ones killed unjustly until their deaths have been avenged.

“The youth now feel that through this revolution, they have avenged Khaled’s death,” Kassem said. “Khaled’s soul gets more peace every day thanks to the effort and determination of the youth to bring down this corrupt government.”

Special correspondent Ingy Hassieb contributed to this report.

By Ernesto Londono