Forgive me. On Fridays, you normally see me post poetry, and originally, I had planned on posting a little more of my short story.
Today, that seems unimportant to me, however, as I have been captivated by something else entirely. Allow me to don my journalist hat for a moment…if you’ve been reading Twitter, you’ve undoubtedly already seen it in action. Mine, and thousands of others. Today, is a day of news. It is a day of political upheaval. Of great social movements. Of change. Of people.
Look anywhere on the internet, and you’ll find it. Egypt is in turmoil. It all began, in many ways, with Tunisia. They were the first, a ground-breaking movement that set the Arab world spinning – no one saw it coming there, but the “Jasmine Revolution,” as it is known, showed the potential power of the people in Africa…as well as revealed the truly tenuous hold that even the most established and ingrained dictators possess. There, they set a precedent, and the Arabic world has been roiling with it since.
Protests have since erupted in Jordan, in Yemen, and, most prominently, in Egypt.
That is what I have been watching today. All day. Revolution. Tens of thousands have taken to the street in Egypt, and for the past few days, they have battled the police for control of the streets. Curfews were ordered. Internet and mobile phone services have been cut. President Mubarak, the target of the uprising, ordered everyone off the streets and made it clear he would take whatever measures necessary to quell the movement. More than 800 people have been wounded in Cairo alone, according to Reuters, some with gunshot wounds.
But it goes on. And the American news services have been woefully behind. They are doing their best, I realize, but Al Jazeera has beaten them. It has had live feeds directly from the country, its information is top notch, its reporters are in the know and on the go. Through their eyes, we can truly see the revolution unfolding, and it is astounding to behold.
You can see their live feed here.
My eyes have been darting back between their coverage, Salon.com’s, and CNN’s, though. Diversity. Diversity of news. It’s very important. You can’t get everything from one source or you’re not really getting anything at all. But all seem to be leading to the same end…people on the move, and a government crumbling.
Attempts to enforce curfew on the protesters have failed. In many places, police have given up altogether. Some have stripped badges and joined ranks with the protesters. In other places, the extensive riot police are still fighting a pitched and losing battle. Plain-clothes security officers have been said to be dragging off protesters where they can, and some of the images coming out of this mess are breathtaking. Some, chilling.
Mubarak announced several hours ago that he would make an address to the nation. He has not done so. He has remained silent, and in hiding…no one seems to know exactly where he is.
The army has now been sent in. But it’s not going exactly as planned, I’m sure. Al Jazeera and Salon have both cited reports that protesters are cheering the army’s arrival, even shouting, “The people and the army — we are one.” The army is taking control of police stations across the country, and it is being reported that in some cases, the military and the police have been fighting. Helicopters have been spotted over Cairo as fires burn. The ruling NDP (National Democratic Party) party’s offices have been reported attacked and burned in Cairo and several other cities, yet firefighters are nowhere in sight, according to Al Jazeera. People have been sighted riding tanks and cheering.
We are seeing revolution live, people. But we mustn’t forget the danger behind it either. As Salon reports:
“At least 410 people have been injured and two people have died today in Cairo. Al Jazeera reports widespread beatings of journalists, and apparently, foreign correspondents are being targeted. One BBC reporter said he was beaten badly with steel bars by security forces. A CNN also tweeted that he’d had his camera equipment destroyed by police.”
To all those journalists in Egypt right now, thank you for all you are doing. Thank you for bringing this struggle, this movement to the attention of the world, and not letting it be smothered in misinformation, cut off by government efforts. But please, be careful. The information highway is a dangerous road to walk.
I will be updating my Twitter throughout the day to reflect the movement of events. For more, see: http://twitter.com/#!/Aurinth