A musical interlude, the day after Mubarak gave Egypt to the military

Via Facebook (where else?), a pause for some day-after music, after all-night celebrations in Egypt’s Tahrir Square following Husni Mubarak’s instructions to the Egyptian military to take over running the country…for the time being.

Sawt al-Hurriya (Sout al-Horeya) – from a link shared on Facebook by Abed Alsalaam Abu Askar and Bill Van Esveld:
with Amir Eid – Hany Adel – Hawary On Guitar & Sherif On Keyboards

Tahiya Masr via a link on Facebook posted by Sabeel al-Quds:

And, the anthem of Tahrir Square, Irhal! (Get Out!)
We all want one thing, we are asking one thing: Irhal! Irhal! Irhal! Irhal!

Wael Ghonim, Google Executive, released after 12 days detention for part in Egyptian protests

Here is the extraordinary interview — that caused a sensation on Twitter — with Google marketing executive Wael Ghonim conducted by Egypt’s Dream TV at 10:00 pm on Monday night (7 February) just after Ghonim’s release from 12 days of detention during the massive protests around Egypt.

Ghonim said he had been blindfolded the entire time, and was agonized over his family’s worrying and suffering, as he was not allowed to contact them or anyone during that time. He also said he sometimes sang to himself. And, he said, he feared he would be forgotten.

He said he had not slept much during his 12 days detention, and not at all for the 48 hours previous to the interview.

Part One:

To see the English subtitles, press the “CC” button in the video player to turn them on.

Part Two:

When pictures were shown, during the interview, of some of the young men who had been killed since the sustained protests began on 25 January, Ghonim wept bitterly, grieving. He expressed his sorrow to the parents of those killed, then added: “but it’s not our fault. It’s the fault of everyone who hung on power and clung to it”.

Part Three:

Ghonim, as we have previously reported here, was the Administrator for the “I am Khaled Said” Facebook page – put up in memory of a 28-year-old blogger who was accosted by plainclothed security officers at a cafe in Alexandria in June, and was then brutally beaten to death. Ghonim said in the Dream TV interview that “my biggest torment was that people would find out I am the Administrator”.
Yet, he said, what he did was not heroic at all — “I was only using the keyboard”.

“This revolution belonged to the internet youth (the Facebook youth), then Egyptian youth, then the Egyptian people — they are the heroes”.

He said that whenever he was interrogated he “said the entire truth — I am proud of what I’ve done”.

An AP report from Cairo published this evening in the Jerusalem Post gives these additional background details:
“Ghonim’s reappearance gave a clearer picture of the stunning trajectory of the protests, which swelled from the online organizing of small Internet activist groups into the first and greatest mass challenge ever to Mubarak’s rule. Ghonim is an Egyptian who oversees Google Inc.’s marketing in the Middle East and Africa from Dubai, one of the United Arab Emirates. He vanished two days after the protests began on Jan. 25, snatched off the street by security forces and hustled to a secret location. Earlier this year, Ghonim — anonymously — launched a Facebook page commemorating Khaled Said, a 28-year-old businessman in Alexandria who was beaten to death by two policemen in June. The page became a rallying point for a campaign against police brutality, with hundreds of thousands joining. For many Egyptians, it was the first time to learn details of the extent of widespread torture in their own country. Small-scale protests over Said’s death took place for months. The Khaled Said group worked online with other activists, including the April 6 movement named after the date of 2008 labor protests and the campaign of Nobel Peace laureate and democracy advocate Mohamed ElBaradei. Ghonim’s page was “the information channel,” said Ziad al-Oleimi, a pro-ElBaradei organizer. Together they decided to hold a larger gathering on Jan. 25, announced on Ghonim’s page, to coincide with Police Day — a state holiday honoring security forces. By phone and Internet, they got out the word to supporters in Cairo and other cities, but didn’t expect much. ‘We really thought that on Jan. 25, we will be arrested in five minutes. I am not kidding’, said al-Oleimi”. This is posted here.

Meanwhile, the U.S. White House reported, here, that Vice President Joe Biden spoke today to Egyptian Vice President Omar Soliman [Suleiman]. According to the notes provided by the White House, “Biden discussed additional steps that the United States supports, including:
* Restraining the Ministry of Interior’s conduct by immediately ending the arrests, harassment, beating, and detention of journalists, and political and civil society activists, and by allowing freedom of assembly and expression;
* immediately rescinding the emergency law;
* broadening participation in the national dialogue to include a wide range of opposition members; and
* inviting the opposition as a partner in jointly developing a roadmap and timetable for transition.
These steps, and a clear policy of no reprisals, are what the broad opposition is calling for and what the government is saying it is prepared to accept”.

Haaretz reported, however, that “The White House faulted Egyptian vice President Omar Suleiman for saying his country was not ready for a democracy, calling his comments ‘unhelpful’. White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs made the comment at a daily news briefing on Tuesday”. The Haaretz report is posted here.

Israeli police defy judicial opinion, vow to break up Israeli anti-occupation demonstration in Sheikh Jarrah

Last Friday afternoon, Israeli police arrested 17 Israeli anti-occupation demonstrators who had crossed the Green Line and assembled in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, where over the last year three families have been thrown out of homes built for them in the early 1950s by the the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, on land allocated by the Jordanian authorities who administered the land following the 1948 war that surrounded the creation of the State of Israel.

Jewish (they may not all be Israeli citizens) settlers immediately moved into those three homes, guarded by their own private security organization — and by the Israeli national police and Border Police. The situation in this area is now very tense, but violence has been astonishingly limited.

There have been some verbal confrontations, but the two sides generally make enormous efforts to ignore each other’s presence.

There seems to be no actual threat to the Jewish settlers, other than legal challenges by the Palestinians, and now the protests organized by a new coalition of Israeli activists.

Israeli anti-occupation demonstrators have begun holding Friday afternoon protests there, on a weekly basis over the past several months, in support of the threatened Palestinian families. Last Friday’s arrests may have marked a turning point.

Here is a photo of Didi Remez (from his Facebook site) at the 15 January protest demonstration organized by Israeli anti-occupation activists in solidarity with threatened Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah.  In this now-iconic image, Didi Remez is objecting to the arrests made by the Israeli police, and telling them to “Arrest me, too!”.   The police complied –  he was arrested.

Didi Remez protesting to Israeli police - Arrest me too - in Sheikh Jarrah demonstration on 15 January 2010

After all the commotion, a bigger demonstration is expected today.

UPDATE: Here is a photo of the start of today’s demonstration just tweeted by CNN’s Kevin Flower
KevinFlower of CNN photo of Israeli demonstration 22 January 2010

After last Friday’s arrests, in which the head of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Hagai Elad, was among those taken into custody when he simply approached police to attempt to mediate, the demonstrators spent over 36 hours in jail during the Israeli weekend and the Jewish sabbath, before an Israeli judge ruled that the arrests were not warranted.

This Friday demonstration in Sheikh Jarrah has now become the talk of the town — and of elsewhere in the region.

One of the organizers of the weekly Friday Israeli anti-occupation demonstration in Sheikh Jarrah, Didi Remez, has posted a notice about today’s demonstration, saying that “Police have refused to grant license for [this] Friday procession; refusing to provide reasons. The vigil, unequivocally ruled legal and not requiring licence by Jerusalem Justice of the Peace, will take place at 15:00, as usual. Police, however, have warned organizers that, ruling or no ruling, they will forcibly break up the demonstration”.

Didi Remez was one of those arrested last Friday.  He was also reportedly one of the first of some 20 demonstrators arrested today.

Another photo of the Didi Remez at the Friday 15 January 2010 demonstration in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem.

Didi Remez protesting to Israeli police - Arrest me too - in Sheikh Jarrah demonstration on 15 January 2010

UPDATE: True to their word, the Israeli police broke up the demonstration.  They arrested some 20 Israeli demonstrators, including veteran Israeli politician Yossi Sarid, who told the Ynet website that the arrests were “arbitrary and unruly”. Sarid also said: “I have been following the developments here for the past few months and I have read about what the police did over the past week. I became nauseous and wanted to vomit.”  YNet reported that former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg and Hadash MK Mohammad Barakeh also participated in the demonstration, and that protesters “waved signs reading, ‘Free Sheikh Jarrah’ and chanted, ‘Cowardly settlers, leave the homes at once’.  The YNet story can be read in full here.

Maan photo of police arresting demonstrators in Sheikh Jarrah on 22 Jan 2010

UPDATE: Ben Lynfield has just reported in The Scotsman that “Yehuda Shaul, an activist in the former soldiers’ group Breaking the Silence was dragged away after he led the crowd in a chant of ‘democracy is not built by evicting people from their houses’.” Ben’s article can be read in full here.

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