Egypt: An “elected” regime which imprisons innocent journalists and murders unarmed protesters & activists

A few years ago, a woman, Nedā Āghā-Soltān, was shot dead in Tehran amidst a peaceful protest against the results of the 2009 Iranian presidential elections in which  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been re-elected. As would be expected in such circumstances, the world was outraged and criticised Iran as pictures of the murdered woman emerged.

Fast forward 5+ years later, history seems to have repeated itself. A very similar scenario occured in January this year in Cairo, Egypt, when Shaimaa el-Sabbagh, a 31-year-old mother who was a pro-democracy activist, was shot dead while walking towards Tahrir square. El Sabbagh wanted to lay a wreath of roses remembering the hundreds of people who died from police/army gunfire since the beginning of the Arab Spring in 2011. An honourable symbol to honour the matryrs of the Arab Spring. Unfortunately, Tahrir square had been cordoned off by the Egyptian military, but instead of the authorities allowing an unarmed civilian to go through and lay a wreath, they murdered her. Forcefully depriving her 5 year old child of a mother.

Osama Hammam, a photographer who was covering the protest, described how security forces started firing teargas and shotguns at the protest without warning. In his post to Human Rights Watch (chronicled in a story about the murder here), he says:

“The demonstration was simply 30 people carrying some roses, half of them were old guys, and the street was empty …. “And the police were on the sidewalk on the opposite side.”

According to the Guardian, the day before Sabbagh’s death, another female protester, 17-year-old Sondos Ridha, was also killed.

Curiously and somewhat predictably, while in 2009 a media storm erupted over Nedā’s murder, and while many western countries were quick to criticise Iran, there isn’t much in public rhetoric expressing outrage against Al Sisi. I don’t think the White House even issued a statement criticising the shooting.

So forgive me for asking, but what is the difference between the repression of innocent people by Ahmadinejad’s Iran in 2009, and the current tyranny we are witnessing today in Egypt? A tyranny that imprisons innocent journalists on the pretext of some sick political fantasy. A regime that went as far as banning the news media from discussing the case of Shaimaa el-Sabbagh. Why would they do that if they were innocent,and really acting in the interests of Egyptians?

Can you really claim that the actions that led to the murder were the kind of “Freedom” which the 2011 protesters at Tahrir square fought for (and since then thousands died for)?

I don’t think so.

All brutality must be condemned, irrespective of who is responsible, and where it happens? Because how can you legitimately claim the upper moral ground in the ‘war against terrorism’ and when attempting to undermine jihadists, when certain kinds of terrorism are being easily let off as justified, whereas other types are not? When the perpetrators of some kinds of terrorism are being protected…?

How does Sisi’s regime compare to the brutality of Mubarak’s Egypt, when even fellows at reputable think tanks believe Al Sisi is in fact worse than Mubarak? Doesn’t the support the US affords to Egypt’s current government amount to replacing one dictator with an other?

It doesn’t make sense. And if it did, then it would be dishonest, and wrong.

These politicians who think such a policy is sound will regret their actions. US Foreign Policy has gone mad. Like really mad. After all the disastrous actions of the last 2 decades, and the murderous vermin spawned, you’d have thought these guys will learn from their previous mistakes. But again and again, they have demonstrated that they never learn. Instead, it appears as though Western countries still think they can support oppressive ruthless regimes in North Africa and the middle east, but simultaneously claim to be torchbearers of Freedom and Democracy??

Hypocrisy of the worst kind, if not classic doublethink.

It’s not on. It will never work. It must end.


Speed Cameras vs Surveillance


Despite what some petrolheads would have you believe, speed cameras are useful things.

I know this because studies that have researched their efficacy say so. 🙂

Actually, let me correct that last sentence. One study from 2005 which I have read, which references to several other studies, and uses them as a basis to come to what I think is a sensible conclusion says so.

A bit of a mouthful, I know, but there you have it.

Since most people won’t be interested to read the study which I am refering to, nor will they browse through any similar research report, like this one here, then I think there’s one important bit from the 2005 study which would be worth remembering:

All studies reported a reduction in road traffic collisions and casualties. The reduction in adverse outcomes in the immediate vicinity of camera sites varied considerably across studies, with ranges of 5-69% for collisions, 12-65% for injuries, and 17-71% for deaths at camera sites. Smaller reductions in adverse outcomes were seen over a wider area.
Oh, one other thing. And this is mainly for those of you who need some perspective to this. An extra bite, the thought  in your  subconscious that quietly says “this research was conducted by human beings, and humans are not perfect, so this imperfect research must have some kind of limitation”. It has :-
Published research consistently shows the effectiveness of speed cameras in preventing road traffic collisions
and injuries. However, the level of evidence is relatively poor, and better data need to be collected to improve the evidence base.
 The researchers of the 2005 study are saying that the reason for better data is to improve the evidence base. They are not saying they need more data to disprove the fact that speed cameras are necessary. Why should they say that when most of us agree that speed cameras are essential for a safer society?
What most of us do not agree about is whether the mass surveillance that was recently ruled unlawful in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (a legal body tasked to look at the surveillance of British agencies) is essential for a safer society. I certainly think its the greatest lie ever washed upon mankind. It’s about control and power, and not about safety or security.
Now, we can argue till the cows come home about the extent, methods, level of, acceptable targets, ethics, regulation and other intricacies of mass surveillance. And frankly those kind of debates are tedious.
But I’ll make it easy for you with something a little bit more interesting.
Imagine if we all lived in glass houses where anyone could see through everyone’s house. No one was allowed to hide anything. No curtains, no blinds, no privacy, nothing. Why? Because of Security. If we can all see what everyone is doing, everywhere, at all times, then we’ll all be safe – says groupthink.
So, you’ve just walked into your bedroom, and looking straight through the glass wall you can see in your neighbour’s living room, his wife and kids watching television. At the time, he is in the shower on the first floor. You look up, and from a patch of clearing in the steam covered glass wall of his shower, his soapy face is staring straight down at you. With a massive grin that said:
“Hie there, I see you’ve just had breakfast. Instead of the original Kellogs Special K, you’ve gone for some cheap  German knock off from Aldi. Earlier today I also saw that after you took a shit, you forgot to dry your hands before opening your fridge with wet hands, then after aimlessly walking around your kitchen, you are now standing in your bedroom looking at my wife. I’m watching you”
(***does the two finger and eyes I’m watching you sign***)
Would that be a kind of world you’d want to live in?
mass-surveillance - Copy