Thursday, March 17, 2011

Serious doubts about the role of the Egyptian military

It is not the first time that reports emerge about the sometimes dubious role of the Egyptian military, after they stepped in in the streets of Cairo, during the protests that ultimately led to the depature of president Hosni Mubarak. Stories of torture had been heard before, and some pictures had circulated. Here are two disturbing stories, one told by th American journalist William J Dobson, the other directly on video: 

Samira Ibrahim Mohamed is a 25-year-old woman from Upper Egypt. She came from her home more than eight hours away in January to join in the protests in Tahrir Square. Like many others, she has stayed in Cairo, occasionally returning to camp out in the square as a reminder of the democratic promises that the military and remnants of the old regime have made. She was in the square on the afternoon of March 9 when members of the army and men in plainclothes attacked the demonstrators, arbitrarily arresting people on sight. Samira was one of the protesters who was dragged away from Tahrir that afternoon.
Soldiers beat and kicked her. They tore her headscarf from her. And then, in what was as bizarre as it was shocking, they took her and other peaceful demonstrators to the famed Egyptian museum on the north side of the square — to be tortured.Continue reading)

Dobson starts his report by saying: 
When the Egyptian army entered the streets of Cairo at the peak of the protests in Tahrir Square in January, its members were welcomed as heroes. When they pledged not to fire on the demonstrators, people in the streets shouted, “The army and the people are one!” It has taken only a matter of weeks for that promise to come undone.
Maybe that conclusion goes too far. But for sure there are a few things that the army should explain. 

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