Bringing the Statue of Liberty to Egypt

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Two years on from Mubarrak’s downfall and the Muslim Brotherhood backed Freedom and Justice Party believe Egypt has achieved the libertarian goals of the revolution. Suzy Hanna disapproves.

 

A new epidemic sweeps over Egypt. Kidnapping male political activists opposing the Muslim Brotherhood, torturing them and then savagely raping them. Sometimes they are murdered- others are set free.

Karim Nasser recounted on television, being taken to police stations where he and at least 25 other young men were brutally raped, only to be told by a spokesperson from the ‘Hezb el Bena wel Tanmeya’ (Party of Building and Nurturing; an extremist Islamist Group that is emerging in Egypt) who angrily replied, that instead of complaining about the rapes on the media, he should lodge a complaint to the police. A police complaint filed at the very same station that he was raped in, one wonders?

Egypt – the country of the accidental revolution. What began as a protest with the chants of, “Bread, Freedom, Social Justice, Human Dignity” ended in ousting a dictator who had been in power for 30 years. Two years later and the situation in Egypt is paradoxically worse in all of the areas that the people demanded to be reformed. A rarely reiterated historic fact is that the Statue of Liberty was originally intended to be a gift from France to Egypt, but was eventually given to America. Today, apart from Tahrir Square, which literally means ‘Liberation’ Square and the ironically named ruling Party, the Freedom and Justice Party, (the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood) there are currently no signifiers of any freedom or liberation in Egypt.

When numerous mothers of innocent youths whose only crime was to oppose the government, come on national television and hit themselves repeatedly with shoes (a cultural gesture for inflicting shame or humiliation), whilst weeping, cursing themselves and praying to God that their hands had been paralysed before voting for Dr Mursi . When parents of the dead, weeping on television for their children and blaming the tyrannical government for their deaths, becomes a daily occurrence on television…When Christians are charged with the Maspero Massacre, one of the most notorious State led attacks on Christians who were staging a peaceful sit-in outside the national television Channel, (protesting the biased reporting of demolition of churches), in which youths were shot and crushed beneath army tanks, while the true criminals roam free. When Rasha Magdy, the television journalist who encouraged civilians to take arms against the Christians at Maspero in order to ‘protect Egypt’s army’ is chosen to report on His Holiness Pope Tawadros’ enthronement. The State knew that she has become the face of the Maspero Massacre, rubbing salt in each Copt’s wound in Egypt and around the world, in what was supposed to be a historic and religious celebration

When the kidnapping and forced conversions of Christian women and girls are so common that it no longer receives attention that 14 year old Sara Abdelmalek has been kidnapped and forced into a marriage and to convert. When Christian churches are demolished daily. When youths at a soccer game have the lights turned off, doors locked and are subsequently slaughtered for political activism. When justice was not given in the sentences of the murderers, including one of the ‘defendants’ who was given a death sentence being a member of the slaughtered team, sympathetic youths went out on the streets and protested, only to be murdered for their opposition. And when their families tried to bury their dead, carrying the coffins of their children above their heads, they were shot at from the roof. Panic ensued and in the process of running for their lives, taking shelter from the hail of bullets, the men dropped their coffins as they were shot in what could only be described as one of the most heart wrenching scenes since the revolution.

When thousands of civilians are charged under military courts, simply for opposing the political decisions of the ruling party… When Hamada Saber is surrounded by police officers who strip him naked, beat him, then drag him across the concrete, rocks and gravel, then refuse him medical treatment in any public hospital. If that was not enough, he was forced to appear on national television and take responsibility for what happened to him, because of the State’s threats against his family. Subsequently, he is accused of atrocious crimes to tarnish his reputation and excuse the simple and inexcusable fact that an innocent man was beaten and humiliated by security forces whose duty is to protect him.

When the Ministry for the Interior convert their prisons into torture chambers and youths like Muhammad Elgindi are tortured to their deaths by the State. Tens of young men are reported missing hourly. Children as young as twelve recount being rounded up by police, taken to chambers in police stations where they watched the beatings, electrocution and rapes of helpless men who are brutalized in revolting ways too vile to recount. Some are let free to live a life of culturally “broken masculinity” and others are tortured in different ways then murdered and left by the side of the road or in rubbish dumps. And in every case, the State denies their murder. As in the case of Muhammad Elgindi, the Department of Public Prosecution does not begin a criminal procedure, because they do not believe that the victim was murdered.  (Unbelievably it is a car that tortures victims. It is a car that rapes victims). When most of the Human Rights overseers in Egypt are members of the Freedom and Justice Party and defend these actions of the State. And when the Minister of Justice says that victims were hit by cars before the coroner has finished investigations and refuses the case to go to a Criminal Court (his title should be changed to Minister for Injustice.)

When Omar, a 12 year old boy who spent half of his short life selling sweet potatoes to support his family was found amongst the corpses in Tahrir Square, stories were made up about what happened. It was only after extensive investigation by the people who regularly sort through the corpses looking for their loved ones that the truth emerged. A soldier had shot him and tried to cover what happened by just getting rid of the body. Such lays the innocent, lifeless, demoralizing face of the Egyptian Revolution.

Maybe we needed the Statue of Liberty after all, because that would have been the only symbol of liberty anywhere in Egypt today – even if its meaning is metaphorical.

 

Suzy Hanna is member of The Australian Coptic Movement Association working within the media and public  relations area. With a Bachelor in Law/Arts, Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, Bachelor in Arts (Honours) and  Bachelor in Secondary Teaching, Suzy’s education and personal interest in sociological affairs of Copts and Egypt  has  seen her on the front lines of elevating the Coptic Cause. Suzy has fronted an array of media outlets including  SBS  Broadcasting, Sky and local and independent media. You can contact Suzy via suzy@auscma.com.

 

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