Continuing Protests: Update 11/23

38 dead by Reuters count, 35 by Al Masry Al Youm count, more than 2,000 injured (250 an hour at one point according to Al Ahram online).  Apparently now they’re using nerve gas as well.  There’s some horrible footage going around of this stuff in use within the past three days.  Conveniently for Tantawi and the military, Egypt is one of seven countries (out of 195) that never signed the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, which is an agreement to outlaw the production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons as well as destruction of existing chemical weapons.  Therefore, legally, Egypt can do as it pleases as far as chemical weapons go.

Tantawi accepted the prime minister and the cabinet’s resignation in his speech last night.  He slathered on the syrup, saying that, “The military does not aspire to govern, but places the country’s interests above all.” Says the head of a government that praised the Egyptian state security personnel for their “restraint” in recent events.  Human Rights Watch has asked the Egyptian government to stop riot police from continuing their use of brutal force.  “This latest crisis is a reminder of everything that has not happened in the past months during Egypt’s promised transition,” HRW said. “We have yet to see the military begin reforming the security services or ending the abusive practices and policies of the Mubarak era.”

Things turned violent in Alexandria today, but I have only heard about it on the news.  It is not my place to participate anyway, as my presence might send the wrong message.  This is Egypt’s day, not America’s.  I don’t know how to feel about the three American University in Cairo students who were arrested yesterday, accused of throwing Molotov cocktails at the army.  It feels like a cheapening of the movement that these Americans are making bigger news in the States than the protests themselves.  Shouldn’t we be paying attention to the injustices and atrocities that SCAF is levying on its people?  The issue is not that three Americans were arrested.  Hundreds of Egyptians have been arrested, too, and many will have a much worse fate simply because causing Americans serious harm would make the government look worse and threaten international interference.

The country is buzzing with electricity, but I feel guilt for this weirdly privileged state as an American citizen. Watching the news unfold, it is hard knowing that I am witnessing history in the making while yet, as a foreigner, Uncle Sam will swoop in and get me out should things take a turn for the worse.  Most Egyptians do not have that option.  But would they really want to leave, anyway?  Things are bad, yes, but if everyone maintains their ground, something has got to give.  Whether it takes days, months, or years for the regime to step down, there are too many people who want change in this country to give up and accept the status quo.

So far it looks like elections will take place as planned next Monday.

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