6 July 2013

You can leave a reply or contribute a poem on this subject by going to “Leave a reply” at the bottom of this page.

Tahrir square two years on

A little over two years ago I wrote a poem about the Egyptian uprising and the celebrations in Tahrir Square on 11 February 2011. At that time there was jubilation because the dictator, Mubarak, had been overthrown and the general thought in Egypt was that freedom would follow the overthrow of the dictator. I suggested in my poem that the celebrations were perhaps rather too soon. Sadly this appears to be the case.

Yesterday, 30th of June 2013, following a long period of protest there was a huge protest again in Tahrir square. This time it was against the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood and in particular, President Morsi. The complaint is that he is ruling in favour of the Muslim Brotherhood rather than for the Egyptian people as a whole and that he has not delivered on his promises. People are more desperately poor than they were before under President Mubarak.

This difficulty (the desperate unhappiness with democracy) has arisen because elections followed swiftly after the overthrow of Mubarak. All those who opposed him were united in their opposition to him but were not organised into political parties focused around a particular political programme. Only the Muslim Brotherhood were organised and they were able through their organisation to secure a majority of votes in the election. The organisation of political parties is vital to the functioning of a national democracy.

The protests will go on. In the meantime, by clicking this YouTube video link you can hear the sound of celebration in Tahrir Square in February 2011 and also my poem about that occasion. At the end of the video you can hear Egyptians speaking about their joy and hopes on that day.

David Roberts

The celebration of Egyptian democracy is still premature

Egypt is learning democracy. In February 2011 massive street protests, especially in Tahrir Square, led to the downfall of President Mubarak. At this point the Egyptian people were wild with jubilation, as if getting rid of a dictator would automatically usher in a new era of justice peace and prosperity. The jubilation appeared premature. See the 2011 page of the Warpoetry Website for some poems.

The first-ever democratic elections in Egypt followed six months later. Those who had so vehemently opposed Mubarak were not well-organised into political parties with political programmes of action from which the electorate could make sensible choices. The groupings that existed were not well-known. Only the Muslim Brotherhood, which had existed as an organisation since 1928, was ready to field candidates and with a programme to present to the people. Even so, the brotherhood won the elections by a fairly small margin. The Brotherhood’s leader, Mohammed Morsi, made promises to rule on behalf of all Egyptians and improve the economic lot of the majority of Egyptians. In the event, he appeared to be set primarily on converting Egypt into an Islamic State with Sharia law whilst  failing to pay attention to improving the economic conditions of the ordinary Egyptian.

The first week of July 2013 was a week of crisis for democracy in Egypt. The sense of outrage at the failure of President Morsi to keep his promises, and even worse for failing to appear to be aiming to keep his promises, brought hundreds of thousands onto the streets across Egypt. On Monday the Egyptian army announced that if President Morsi did not change tack by agreeing a compromise with those who criticised his failures then it would act. On Wednesday a defiant President Morsi issued a statement saying that he was democratically elected and nobody has a right to call for his removal and that he would not change his policies.

Early on Thursday, 4 July, the Egyptian Army arrested President Morsi and some of his key supporters.

Huge pro-Morsi demonstrations followed even larger demonstrations celebrating the downfall of President Morsi. Huge, vehement and opposing crowds confronted each other on the streets. The situation was clearly volatile and the possibility of civil war appeared.

Democracies are not supposed to work like this. Whilst politicians in democracies often fail to keep their promises they are expected at the very least to appear to be trying to keep them. Normally elected leaders are allowed to carry on as long as they feel able to fulfil their promised programme.

Quite understandably, the Muslim Brotherhood claimed that the army had carried out a coup and that this was anti democratic. But democracy does mean rule by the people and it was clear that the people’s expressed will had been ignored by President Morsi to such an extent that they could tolerate his failure is no longer.

Once again, celebrating the downfall of a deeply unpopular leader is a little premature.

The army appears to be taking a sensible line and acting in the interests of all Egyptians. It has installed an interim president and has a plan to bring forward fresh elections when, hopefully, those who were not so well organised into political parties last time will be better organised so that the Egyptian people can be offered real choices.

For the present the Egyptian Army has suspended the constitution, it has plans to install a civilian technocratic government, the supreme court has been ordered to organise parliamentary elections and presidential polls, and something not so easy to understand is that a “charter of honour” will be drawn up to be followed by the media.

The army also claims to be taking measures to empower young people and to set up a national reconciliation committee.

The army has major task in keeping the supporters of President Morsi apart from the masses who have brought about his downfall. Serious clashes have taken place. On Friday, 5 July, across Egypt 30 people were killed and more than 1000 injured. The army says that protest is permissible but violence is not. It will intervene to prevent violence.

There are many difficulties remaining along the road to democracy in Egypt. The rightful and urgently necessary struggle of the Egyptian people goes on. My poem about the Egyptian revolution remains relevant.

David Roberts

30 July 2013

Egyptian army making serious mistakes.

Only two weeks ago I wrote,

“The army appears to be taking a sensible line and acting in the interests of all Egyptians. It has installed an interim president and has a plan to bring forward fresh elections when, hopefully, those who were not so well organised into political parties last time will be better organised so that the Egyptian people can be offered real choices. . . the supreme court has been ordered to organise parliamentary elections and presidential polls. . .  The army has major task in keeping the supporters of President Morsi apart from the masses who have brought about his downfall.”

51 Muslim Brotherhood supporters killed on Monday, 8 July 2013

The killing 51 peaceful protesters, Muslim Brotherhood supporters, by the Egyptian army cannot be justified. Their demonstration appears to have been legitimate and even if it was not then minimum force should have been used  - and this cannot possibly be what was actually done. This was a tragic day for Egypt.

On Saturday 27th of July at least 120 pro-Morsi supporters were killed by the Egyptian army at a sit-in at Rabaa al-Adawiya, east Cairo. Many thousands  of his supporters had been camping there for over three weeks.

For success democracy depends on compromise, moderation, negotiation, discussion, willingness to listen, patience, respect for human rights, respect for the views of those with whom one disagrees. The use of brute force by the Egyptian army, whatever its protestations of believing in democracy and wishing to bring forward elections in due course, is extremely counter-productive and worrying. It is a complete betrayal of the revolution of February 2011 which was the subject of my poem that may be seen on YouTube.

David Roberts

You can leave a reply or contribute a poem on this subject by going to “Leave a reply” below.




79 thoughts on “Egypt

  1. Tonight’s Must See Monday program was comprised of a topic both fascinating and eye-opening in terms of the way I see the world. Eric Newton, advisor to the president of the Knight Foundation, spoke to the crowd about advancements of mankind and just how much progress we, as a species, have made since the year 1767. He divided time periods of new innovation into different categories and then described the impact of each upon the world. A piece of information I found to be intriguing was that about every 80 years a crisis occurs. Think about it. The civil war, WWIII and 9/11 have all been enacted out of conflict, even though accessible materials of the time are totally different. The world as we know it has evolved and humans have created great things; however, this knowledge could be just as destructive as it is beneficiary to mankind. With advancements in journalistic methods also means advancements in nuclear devices, cyber bullying and nanotechnology. Newton theorized that this will all inevitably lead to WW3.0, an invisible war of the digital age. He explains that the printed newspaper cannot continue to coexist with new forms of mass media, and its steady decline will come to an end in the year 2040. He also believes that by this time, all data will be universally transparent once it is admitted into any computer. This is because all humans have an incessant need to tell, and new ways will be heard in every generation. It is easy to realize that predictions of modern devices were presumed long ago in past forms of media. For example, Skype in The Jetsons, cell phones in Star Trek, and even drawings of future cityscapes. Soon enough, our expectations for the future will become a reality with artificial intelligence and self-learning robots up until WW4.0. Newton presumes that this war will be the first between humanity and a non-human entity. Whether this may be technology or something unforeseen at this time, Newton chuckles at this point saying, “at least I will be long gone by this time.” Although he reminds the captivated audience that there are 7 billion reasons for any of these events not to happen, it causes the full crowd of students to sit up a little straighter in their seats when he concludes by saying “it’s crazy, so it just might happen.”

  2. The Ducth have a long experience in flood control. Therefore with climate change beeing a reality, they do not have to play around with the problem just like some countries are seing it. To the dutch I believe it is not a joking matter. For them you either take action now or they are no more tommorrow! The threat of rising sea levels that is affecting California should not be a jimmick of who is who at the fore front of the debate but should be a carefully evaluated push that will save the delta like the dutch do during dialogue. Calmenness is needed and everyone should respect the views of others!

  3. I really enjoyed tonight’s Must See Monday series. I’ve never really had the idea to create my own business, but I thought Dan Gillmore brought up an interesting point when he said that today’s students might have to create their own jobs later – hence the importance of learning entrepreneurship skills now. I was really impressed by the four different “start up” companies the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship students created. Although I’m interested in checking all of them out, I was really fascinated by WatchTree. WatchTree was designed after its two creators had trouble locating volunteering opportunities in their communities (Scottsdale and Gilbert). WatchTree is designed so people can easily locate and get involved with local volunteering opportunities. One of the site’s creators explained how WatchTree will use social media outlets like Twitter to blast updates about new volunteering opportunities, updates and events to all of its followers.I have wanted to get involved with local community service efforts for a long time, but never seem to follow through because searching for opportunities is too much effort, so WatchTree would be a great resource for me! CityCircles, the next company presented, is an innovative company that aims to provide up-to-date news and events based on fixed interest points. They’re currently working on providing information about events and news near the Phoenix Metro Lightrail stops. As a lightrail commuter, I would definitely consider using this website to find events and restaurants along the lightrail stop. Another company, Fictionado, is still a work in progress, but aims to provide people with access to short stories and articles via their mobile devices. The speaker explained that ads for Fictionado content will include barcodes people can photograph with their mobile devices. These ads will be placed on the lightrail, in waiting rooms, etc. so people who have time to kill can conveniently access something short to read while they wait. (Pretty genius idea, I thought). Once people get the barcode on their device, the content they want will be formatted so it can be viewed on their cell phones, Kindles, iPads, etc. Blimee was the last company to be introduced. The speaker talked about “digital signage, a term (I must admit) I’ve never heard of before. Basically digital signage involves the LCD screens that have been popping up in shopping centers, on buses, etc. lately. They usually display advertisements, “spam” as the speaker put it. Blimee’s objective is to incorporate local news onto these screens. News so local that each screen will only display what’s happening within a few blocks of its location! The speaker also discussed how Blimee hopes to partner with local businesses, allowing them to advertise store sales and other opportunities to customers in the area. I’m really glad I got the opportunity to learn about these new companies. Hopefully they’ll take off!

  4. The weeks Must See Monday is quite special. It features the “History of the Future of News: What 1767 Tells us About 2110”. The intro was done by Dean Callahan. And then Senior Advisor to the Knight Foundation Eric Newton started going over how things from the past influence the future. For instance, the T.V. show “The Jetsens” came up with the idea of skype long before it was real. Newton then went to look at cycles throughout history such as World War 3.0 that is possibly soon to begin. “Cyber space is an arena for war”, Newton stated. If the cycles in history continue then we can expect technology to grow into something unimaginable. Our future could hold things such as having “newsbots” or having real conversations with your computer. With this new influx of technology old media will be sure to fall away into the past. “What’s next?”, Newton asked? The answer is bio media with augmented reality, media implants and nanotechnology. Newton continues to explain that 80 years from World War 3.0 there will be a World War 4.0 of humans v. a nonhuman entity. “Today we’re just scratching the surface of the digital age”. This quote is so true. Our future is rapidly approaching and it is up to us to shape it. Newton continued to explain what a journalist should do with this rapidly growing field. Journalists used to be able to just write on paper with ink and send it out to the world. Now we type up our information and send it out or broadcast our information to thousands over the television. So what is a journalist to do? Keep up with the times in this sea of technology. “Happy Sailing”.

  5. I work in the solar industry and have, on occasion, worked wineries up and down the state. I was surprised to learn from one winery owner that the bulk of his outside labor force was paid very, very well. Apparently, the need for skilled, reliable workers far outweighed the increased cost to retain good help. Of course, these wines are not commodities and command premium prices.

  6. The Must See Monday presented tonight was unbelievable. Eric Newton, presidential advisor of the Knight Foundation, spoke about the progress man, as a species, has made since 1767. He organized the presentation based on innovations and their respective impacts on the world. Mr. Newton stated that a crisis occurs approximately eighty years, a shockingly accurate statement. He also said that all the advancements in technology, as beneficial as they may be, ultimately would lead to WW3.0. Newton also pointed out how current devices were conceived in past media: Skype from the Jetsons, cell phones in Star Trek, and concepts for future cityscapes. However, from this will arise WW4.0, humans vs. robots: the ultimate showdown and the cliché science fiction theme. Such a possibility is scary to consider, because 2040 is not that far away. Newton reassured us that there are 7 billion reasons none of it will happen. It still did not settle the mood because he ended the presentation with “it’s crazy, so it just might happen.”

  7. Before addressing the myth of the English professor, there are some real differences I experienced in grad school here and at the University of Leicester. While abroad: 1. Faculty went on strike one day in protest for higher wages, which closed down the entire university 2. Graduates prepare tea-time for the seminar break, rather than everyone rushing out (to smoke?). 3. One professor adds Saturday classes to be held in her office if not enough material is covered 4. The U of L has a Paternoster, an “elevator” in constant motion without doors in which people hop in and out. My favorite book on the myths of English professors is David Lodge’s Trading Places. For a scholar exchange program, Morris Zapp from Euphoric State University (US)and Philip Swallow from the University of Rummidge (UK) experience the 1960s on the other side of the Atlantic. (At one point, Swallow entertains at a faculty dinner: he has everyone play a game in which they state what they have not read. A Shakespeare scholar fesses up to not having read what turns out to be the faculty’s highest esteemed text for that field. He later does not get tenure because of this gap in his reading). I teach TP in Transatlantic Literature. The novels in this course express myths between the US and UK when characters encounter the other side of the pond.

  8. Cronkite Night At the Movies“The Pelican Brief” At the beginning of this thrilling movie I, personally, had no idea what the connection was between this movie and journalism. As the movie progressed, though, the connection became clear. Denzel Washington’s character provided an exceptional view of what an investigative reporter does and how they provide a pivotal role to the journalism society. Although this story was based off a book, it is quite possible that something of this nature could happen in real life. This movie provides a visual of how exciting and beneficial investigative journalism can be. The loss of such in depth and accurate reporting has been slightly lost in today’s journalism market, which is quite unsettling. Although investigative reporting is expensive, the field will eventually pay itself off by providing the audience with what is needed and wanted. “The Pelican Brief” was a thrilling to watch, but most of all it placed investigative journalism in a sincere light.

  9. A Look Into The Future of Journalism, By: Analise OrtizAt tonight’s Must-See Monday, Eric Newton discussed the future of journalism as it spirals into a realm never-before known to mankind. Newton discussed that we predict the future by what we know, therefore, in order to accurately predict the future, we must “think crazy.” After demonstrating how predictions of the future in the past have become our present reality, Newton predicted his own view of the future. By 2040, he said, an intelligent media will haven taken over daily newspapers. A person could experience any news event as if they were really there so long as a “newsbot” is on scene. Eventually, man will be able to download information into their own mind. Man will become so integrated with machine, that ones entire life experience could be saved as a datafile. Newton’s notion of the future inspired me to think about being more than just a journalist, but an innovator. As technology evolves, so must news writing evolve with it. And as news writing evolves, the journalist must become more accustomed to these advancements. Additionally, the struggle to be perceived as “creative” and “unique” in an era run primarily by autobots is a task I find intriguing. I believe the journalist will become more humanistic, and less objective, bringing emotions and personal aspects to stories. While the future seems far off, it is rapidly changing with each-coming year. As a student of journalism, I look forward to changing along with the elements of technology used in news media. It can be extremely beneficial, so long as we utilize our tools in a honest and responsible way.

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  11. Looking at a picture of 1999 New York, it is hard to imagine how someone would ever believe this picture’s futuristic qualities would be evident eleven years ago, let alone today. Eric Newton intrigues the crowd by posing the question “what went wrong in this picture?” Overall it was many things that contributed to the photo’s unnatural characteristics. These traits are: multi-time, science fiction writers, books and TV shows/movies. All of these implements allow us the knowledge of what the future has in store for media. Noticing trends, like Great Awakenings happening every eighty years, enhances the accuracy of the predictions that can take place. It is important for us journalist majors to be aware of what the future has in stake. As Newton said “we must focus on not what has been invented, but how the things exponentially grew.” Eric Newton’s presentation was very educational and interesting—especially when he showed a timeline of the things predicted to come all the way up to the year of 2100. Who would have thought there would be a WW4.0 of humans vs. robotics, like the iRobot? His conclusion was inspirational. It made me want to go out and “master a computer assisted reporting/design, watch a lot more science fiction, fool around with a new digital tool every day [and] rewrite [the] codes of ethics.”

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