Comparisons between Lower Manhattan and Tahrir Square seem overdrawn – but the bond between the Occupy movement and protestors in Egypt has become quite real. To a large extent, that bond has been formed digitally: through media coverage, Twitter, blogs, Facebook and every manner of social media communication. An Occupy Wall Street expedition to Egypt was already planned, but now New York Occupiers are “considering an Egyptian civil rights coalition’s invitation to some of its members to help monitor elections in Egypt.”
Sadly, it seems that another emerging parallel between the two is violence. Egypt’s protestors have been ramping up their efforts to depose the new military government, staging massive protests in Tahrir Square again – and the military has struck back with lethal force. From today’s New York Times:
Egyptian troops had been heralded as saviors when their generals ushered out President Mubarak on Feb. 11, but on Sunday they led a new push to clear the square and the Health Ministry said Monday that at least 23 people were killed. Since Saturday, more than 1,500 people had been wounded, the ministry said.
The force used by the police here in America, though by no means equivalent to what’s happening in Cairo, is being cast as a rhetorical green light in Egypt. From a report translated by Arab journalist Sultan Al Qassemi:
Egypt State TV anchor: We saw the firm stance the US took against OWS people & the German govt against green protesters to secure the state
It’s hardly apt for Egypt to claim “We learned it by watching you!” Regardless of the source, another parallel can be drawn: the use of force doesn’t seem to have the effect that authorities intend. More from the Times article:
The violence has seemed to reinforce the revolutionary urgency that had returned to the square, and when the army moved to push out the thousands of protesters on Sunday, more than twice as many quickly flooded back…
“This is the breaking point we were all waiting for,” said Tarek Salama, a surgeon working in the field hospital. “Getting rid of Mubarak was just the warm-up. This is the real showdown.”