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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Reactions to Rantisi’s Killing

As expected, students from major universities in Egypt organized mass demonstrations and sit-ins to protest the killing of Hamas leader Rantisi. They did the usual stuff: burn Israel, US, and UK flags, hold banners, and shout for jihad. A slogan I managed to hear was “Our sitting rulers open the doors of jihad”. Early in the morning, security police vehicles were dispatched to those campuses. During those protests, students are allowed to protest inside their campus but they’re not allowed to leave it. When some students overreact and decide to climb over the campus gates, they’re met with water hoses and sticks!

The government hates those protests for 2 main reasons. First, the government doesn’t like anything that disrupts the peace and this is why the police do everything to control those protests. Second, radicals tend to exploit the fervent emotions and highlight the inability of the government to do anything. When Sheikh Yassen, Hamas’ spiritual leader, was killed about a month ago, the Muslims Brotherhood in Egypt hung posters of him and their logo underneath. They wanted to make the link between this “great martyr”
and their organization. Hamas was actually born out of the Muslim Brotherhood. I hate it when they turn a political issue into a religious crisis.

At the American University in Cairo (AUC), the situation was similar to the other universities. AUC students always want to convey the image that they are not rich spoiled Americanized brats and they do care about what the society cares about. Security vehicles and guards surrounded the campus lest anything goes out of control. I remember during Desert Fox in 1998, AUC students went out of the campus and sat in a circle right in the middle of a busy road. A police officer with a bullhorn asked them politely to return to their campus and warned them that terrorists might exploit the situation and carry out an attack. Then he became more aggressive in his tone when they refused to stand up and leave. The circle was surrounded by anti-riots soldiers armed with sticks and shields. After several warnings, the officer ordered his soldiers to attack. They started beating the students and forced them inside the campus. Girls fainted and guys started kicking the soldiers.

Anyway, I just wanted to give you a glimpse of how protests are carried out here. I really do not want to talk about the Palestinian/Israeli crisis because I’m quite fed up. Iraq is my world now.

Check out this article by Amir Taheri, one of my favorite commentators. Also USA Today’s article on Iraqi bloggers. I remember Omar, an Iraqi blogger, talking about this interview. It was so cool to see it today on USA Today.

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