“People Are Determined to Stay Until Mubarak Leaves”: Democracy Now!’s Sharif Abdel Kouddous Reports in Cairo on Day 15 of the Egyptian Pro-Democracy Protests
The pro-democracy protests in Egypt have entered their third week as demonstrators are holding another massive protest in Tahrir Square. While Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is refusing to resign, the German magazine Der Spiegel is reporting that preparations are underway for him to possibly leave Egypt and visit Germany for an "extended medical check-up." Human Rights Watch is reporting 297 people have died over the past two weeks of protests, an estimate far higher than the Egyptian government has acknowledged.
Asmaa Mahfouz & the YouTube Video that Helped Spark the Egyptian Uprising
Three weeks ago today, 26-year-old Egyptian activist Asmaa Mahfouz posted a video online urging people to protest the “corrupt government” of Hosni Mubarak by rallying in Tahrir Square on January 25. Her moving call ultimately helped inspire Egypt’s uprising. "I, a girl, am going down to Tahrir Square, and I will stand alone. And I’ll hold up a banner. Perhaps people will show some honor,” Mahfouz said. "Don’t think you can be safe anymore. None of us are. Come down with us and demand your rights, my rights, your family’s rights. I am going down on January 25th and will say no to corruption, no to this regime." [includes rush transcript]
“The Heroes are the Ones in the Street”: Google Exec and Facebook Activist Wael Ghonim on His Release After 12 Days in Egyptian Jail
Twelve days after being snatched from the streets of Cairo, Wael Ghonim was released Monday from secret detention. He is being hailed as a hero by the pro-democracy movement for administrating a Facebook page key to organizing Egypt’s unprecedented pro-democracy uprising. In his first interview after being released, Ghonim told Egyptian TV, “I never put my live in danger while I was typing away on the internet. The heroes are the ones in the streets. This revolution belongs to the internet youth.”
Shooting the Messenger: Egyptian Journalist Shot Dead by Sniper While Covering Cairo Protests
The only journalist known to have been killed during the Egyptian uprising was honored Monday in Cairo. Ahmed Mohamed Mahmoud was a reporter for the state-owned newspaper Al Ta’awun. He was shot on January 28 when he tried to use his phone to film riot police as they fired tear gas canisters at protesters. He spent a week in the hospital before he died on February 4. On Monday, journalists, family and friends held a symbolic funeral in Cairo, marching from the Journalists’ Syndicate to Tahrir Square holding an empty coffin. We speak to Al Jazeera English producer and writer Laila Al-Arian, who has just returned from Cairo, where she interviewed Mahmoud’s widow.
Detained Al Jazeera Journalist: '[The Military] Viewed So Many of Us as Prisoners of War. Our Hands were Tied Behind Our Back with Cables. Our Eyes were Blindfolded.'
Ayman Mohyeldin, the Cairo bureau chief for Al Jazeera English, was detained by Egyptian police and held for seven hours. Inside the jail, Mohyeldin witnessed rampant police abuse. "We saw the military slap detainees, we saw them kick detainees, we saw them punch them," Mohyeldin said. "One of the soldiers that I was observing had with him a small Taser gun." He also talks about how the Mubarak regime has attempted to silence Al Jazeera. Despite its journalists being arrested and threatened, its offices set on fire and its satellite system cut off, Al Jazeera’s news coverage of the popular uprising has been unchallenged by other news outlets and is battling Egypt’s pro-Mubarak TV outlets for delivering truth to Egyptians. “I think Al Jazeera Arabic and Al Jazeera English have something important to offer. They’re offering the viewers around the world a context that may sometimes be missing from a lot of Western and foreign media,” Mohyeldin says, who was detained by security forces for questioning on Sunday. “More importantly, they’re offering the viewers a view of this country that I think is very hard to get in the absence of less and less media. So, if they were to take Al Jazeera off the air and silence us completely, it would be a great disservice to humanity, and particularly to information.”
Protests Demanding Mubarak’s Resignation Grow Stronger, Despite Some Government Concessions
Newly-appointed Egyptian vice president Omar Suleiman held talks on Sunday with opposition groups in Cairo in an attempt to stem the anti-government protests that continue across the country. Suleiman agreed to several major concessions, including ending the country’s decades-old emergency laws (he did not say when), allowing a free press (even as another Al Jazeera reporter was arrested), and creating a constitutional reform committee. The top demand of demonstrators--the immediate removal of President Hosni Mubarak-was not addressed. Protests continue today across Egypt, and tens of thousands of demonstrators have held their ground in Tahrir Square amidst a heavy military presence. We go to Cairo to speak with Democracy Now! senior producer Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Hossam Bahgat, an Egyptian human rights activist.
"The Empire’s Bagman:" Obama Egypt Envoy Frank Wisner Says Mubarak Should Stay
The official U.S. response to events unfolding in Egypt remains mixed. Over the weekend, the Obama administration distanced itself from U.S. “crisis envoy” to Egypt Frank Wisner after he issued a statement in support of President Hosni Mubarak. Revealing a possible conflict of interest, British journalist Robert Fisk recently reported Wisner works for the law firm Patton Boggs, which openly boasts that it advises "the Egyptian military, the Egyptian Economic Development Agency, and has handled arbitrations and litigation on the [Mubarak] government’s behalf in Europe and the U.S." We are joined by Trinity College Professor Vijay Prashad, who has written about Wisner’s history with the U.S. Department of State and his close relationship with Mubarak.
Media Crackdown: Democracy Now!’s Sharif Abdel Kouddous Reports from Tahrir Square on the Systematic Targeting of Journalists in Egypt
Reporting on the Egyptian uprising has been not only difficult, but even dangerous for many domestic and foreign journalists. Tactics used against media workers include cutting phone lines, repeated arrests and detention, harassment, the seizure of equipment and intimidation. The first fatality of a journalist was also reported last week. Democracy Now! senior producer Sharif Abdel Kouddous speaks with journalists in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. He also visits a media tent set up by activists to collect reports from people on the streets.