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Everyone Wants to Speak for Tahrir But Are They Listening to Tahrir?

The day after the Day of Departure, everyone wants to speak for the Youth Protesters in Tahrir Square.

Iranian Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke today of events in Egypt and seemed to want to make Tahrir Square over in the image of Tehran but the Muslim Brotherhood were quick to push back, writing on their newsite, Ikhanweb:

12 :50 MB responds to Iran’s Islamic Leader Mr Khamenai: The MB regards the revolution as the Egyptian People’s Revolution not an Islamic Revolution asserting that the Egyptian People’s Revolution includes Muslims, Christians, from all sects and political

This statement certainly seems close to capturing the message of the Youth.

A Committee of Wise Men – including 18 intellectuals and businessmen has declared that “the main demand of protesters in Tahrir Square was for President Hosni Mubarak to step down and transfer his authority to Vice-President Omar Suleiman.”

And The Arabist (a very valuable resource) writes of another statement (or as the Arabist notes, “yet another!”) issued by a group of influential “establishment government, business, academia and NGO people” calling for:

The President must delegate to his Vice President the responsibilities of managing the transitional period that began yesterday and will be completed by the end of the president’s current term.

These efforts seem surprisingly* close to the trial balloons floated by the Obama administration. The Washington Post outlines the plan:

In Washington, the Obama administration launched an urgent effort to persuade opposition groups to participate in talks with Suleiman in a meeting scheduled for Saturday morning, and called on the army and respected leaders from across Egyptian society to step forward and bless the dialogue.

*… or not so surprising at all

Neither of which sounds like what the people in the square are demanding. As a commenter, Tom, at the Arabist notes:

Why should anyone call for Suleiman to stay in charge of a transition and trust that it will proceed with any sort of justice once the pressure is off?

… I wouldn’t put it past the government to be trying to publish false “demands” that suit them perfectly well and then make a big act of “responding to the people’s demands”.

While all this maneuvering at the top was going on, journalists remain in danger with AJE reporting overnight that the Al Jazeera Arabic bureau chief was arrested by the Security police.

A reporter for the Ah-Ahram, Ahmed Mahmoud, was shot by a sniper in the head on Saturday and died today. Al Masry reports his death but says it’s unclear why, while several commenters at a Facebook page which is maintaining news of those killed report hearing his widow on Al Jazeera (Arabic I assume) saying that:

he was not a part of the protest. he only stood in the balcony of his office and he was trying to take a video with his mobile phone (for personal reasons only). a sniper from the pro-mubarak’s saw him & shot him in the head.

Take a moment to view the video there – the profiles of the dead are heartbreaking.

Several reports from western journalists of their arrests and treatment by the security police over the past few days have been published, including an account in the New York Times:

For one day, we were trapped in the brutal maze where Egyptians are lost for months or even years. Our detainment threw into haunting relief the abuses of security services, the police, the secret police and the intelligence service, and explained why they were at the forefront of complaints made by the protesters.

Many journalists shared this experience, and many were kept in worse conditions — some suffering from injuries as well.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, over the period we were held there were 30 detentions of journalists, 26 assaults and 8 instances of equipment being seized. We saw a journalist with his head bandaged and others brought in with jackets thrown over their heads as they were led by armed men.

In the morning, we could hear the strained voice of a man with a French accent calling out in English: “Where am I? What is happening to me? Answer me. Answer me.”

This prompted us into action — pressing to be released with more urgency, and indeed fear, than before. A plainclothes officer who said his name was Marwan gestured to us. “Come to the door,” he said, “and look out.”

We saw more than 20 people, Westerners and Egyptians, blindfolded and handcuffed. The room had been empty when we arrived the evening before.

“We could be treating you a lot worse,” he said in a flat tone, the facts speaking for themselves. Marwan said Egyptians were being held in the thousands. During the night we heard them being beaten, screaming after every blow.

Al Jazeera liveblog notes:

8:49am: There are differing reports of how many have died in the last 11 days of protests and clashes. The Egyptian health minister says 11 people have died, while the United Nations says 300 people may have been killed across the country since protests began. New agencies have counted more than 150 dead in morgues in Alexandria, Suez and Cairo.

Again, we have no idea what comes next but we do know that many have already died and more are being held in Mubarak’s prisons. While Mubarak may be hoping to ride out the uprising by calling off his thugs and hoping everyone just gets tired and goes home as some are forecasting, so many Egyptians will not forget what has been done to them these past twelve days when they simply asked for democracy – and if the American government continues the attempts to insert Suleiman into power, the Egyptian people will not forget that either.

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Siun is a proud Old Town resident who shares her home with two cats and a Great Pyrenees. She’s worked in media relations and on the net since before the www, led the development of a corporate responsibility news service, and knows what a mult box is thanks to Nico. When not swimming in the Lake, she leads a team working on sustainability tools.

Email: media dot firedoglake at gmail dot com