Egypt in Chaos

By Xeni Jardin on Friday, Jan 28, 2011

A protester stands in front of a burning barricade during a demonstration in Cairo January 28, 2011. Police and demonstrators fought running battles on the streets of Cairo on Friday in a fourth day of unprecedented protests by tens of thousands of Egyptians demanding an end to President Hosni Mubarak's three-decade rule. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

Protests are raging throughout Egypt today, the largest mass demonstrations yet demanding an end to the 30-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak. Thousands took to the streets today, after Friday Prayers.

A roundup of recent Boing Boing posts related to ongoing events in Egypt, and throughout the region:

Egypt turns off internet, Lieberman wants same option for US
Joe Biden says Mubarak isn't a dictator, questions legitimacy of protesters' demands
Egypt: to thwart protests, government attempts to leave the internet
NYT: Wikileaks cables reveal details of US-Egypt diplomacy
After Egypt, Tunisia unrest, Syria cranks up the 'net censorship
What is happening in Egypt, explained
Egyptian activists' protest plan, translated to English
Guardian reporter beaten, detained at Egypt protests; records audio throughout
Egypt: Protests inspired by Tunisia and fanned by social media break out all over
Egypt's men in Washington
Egypt: yet another iconic photo of a brave protester smooching a bewildered cop
Egypt: without internet, country may face "economic doom" Monday
Mubarak: I'm dissolving Egypt's government, new one forms tomorrow, I'm not going anywhere

For continuing live coverage, we recommend following Global Voices' coverage of Egypt, with eyewitness reports throughout the region. (RSS feed here).

Al Jazeera has live streaming video coverage here, and a liveblog of today's events here.
Their Creative Commons-licensed Flickr stream of images is here.

The Guardian's live blog is here.

Salon's live blog is here.

And CNET has an update on Egypt's internet going dark, with confirmation that carriers were ordered to halt communications within the country.

51 Responses to “Egypt in Chaos”

  1. Pliny the Elder says:

    Al Jazeera English has a live stream:

    It’s dark there now so most of the footage is burning buildings but there are constant updates from journalists in the field.

  2. JaxSean says:

    Not so much “chaos”… simply the measured and responsible deconstruction of an authoritarian state apparatus.

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      Egyptian history shows these kinds of popular tumults and/or revolutions of power occurring about once every century or so, on average, does it not?

      IMHO, in many ways, Egypt has ever and always been in some sense its own world. Kinda like China.

      I hope things work out well for most, if not all, of them.

      • JaxSean says:

        “Egyptian history shows these kinds of popular tumults and/or revolutions of power occurring about once every century or so, on average, does it not?”

        I have trouble naming a country for which that is not true.

        “Egypt has ever and always been in some sense its own world. Kinda like China.”

        You like to start your morning with coffee and a dash of orientalism?

        There are details particular to the Arab uprisings happening at the moment, but there is nothing happening in Egypt that could not similarly be accomplished in a Western country.

        Want to wrest control of a country from the hands of dictator, an oligarchy, or a poorly managed ‘representative’ democracy? The method is pretty consistent – large numbers of people, willing to harm and be harmed. Start peacefully, but if the state starts shooting, burn their police stations and party offices, arm yourselves, and if necessary, shoot back.

        It’s a pretty standard method throughout most of the globe.

        • ncinerate says:

          I like you’re response jax. Honestly, I think Egypt’s response to this has been the absolute -wrong- way to handle it. They’ve practically run the “instigate a revolution” playbook.

          People start to protest the 30-fricken-year reign of a president. They have some legitimate concerns and want to be heard, they get together on the internet and set up times and places to be heard.

          Should the president:

          A: Speak to his people addressing their concerns, perhaps enacting a new term limit for presidency and offering to step down at a specified time for new democratic elections.


          B: Shut down the entire internet and bring out the riot police and military to silence the dissent.

          I’m just going to go out here on a limb and say that shutting down the ENTIRE internet and putting military/police on the streets is almost guaranteed to make the numbers of protesters EXPLODE in size bolstered by a large amount of radical youths. A few words of reason could have defused this whole situation.

          Look, you’ve been president for 30 years, you’ve had a good run. Show some consideration and demonstrate your willingness to help create a better world for your people. Set up some rules to prevent future “president’s for life”, expand a few freedoms, show your worth as a leader, then willingly step down for the better of your country to a new elected leader.

          • AdrenalineSleep says:

            From what I am hearing, it sounds as though Mubarak’s sole purpose is to never let anything like scenario ‘A’ happen at any cost. I don’t think he can consider that an option as it is what he stands against.

          • ncinerate says:

            I know adrenalinesleep, but it just defies logic!

            The guy’s been president-for-life, he’s undoubtedly led a fine life and I’m certain he has a HUGE golden parachute to fall back on. Step up, address your people, make some changes for the better and accept that times have changed as you retire to your private island.

            At this point he doesn’t even have a chance. There is nothing he could say or do – it’s over – the crowd has taken over. Any further escalation would only make things worse, and any kind words would be ignored.

            And let this be a lesson for any other countries out there who think the best idea to stop an internet-supported demonstration is to shut down the whole fricken internet. Revolutions have traditionally led by the youth. The internet has become a virtually necessary piece of life for youth the world over. Cutting it off is like ripping off an arm. You’re going to piss a -lot- of people off, AND simultaneously give them nothing better to do than hit the streets and shout about it. From there, the power of the mob takes over. A million little ants…..

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            Look, you’ve been president for 30 years, you’ve had a good run.

            Hello? Mubarak has bio-political spawn. There will be no transfer of power except to his son.


  3. Yamara says:

    It’s spread to Yemen:

    Al Jazeera credited with informing people…

  4. andrewheiss says:

    Al Jazeera English has the best reporting out there!

    You can watch it online ( or download their iPhone app.

  5. dmer says:

    anyone know of a link for an audio feed to english.aljazeera?

  6. James says:

    According to Al Jazeera, police have largely stopped opposing the protesters.

    Is it clear whether the army is abandoning the scene(s), attacking the protesters, or moving in to remove the Mubarak regime?

    • kc0bbq says:

      I don’t get the sense that the military is doing anything for either side outside showing up to reign in the tactics of the police.

      Hopefully it doesn’t give enough cover for the crazies to start blowing up Copts, or whatever other ideas they want to try out. :(

      There are a few more places I can see this spreading to. I imagine the security in some of the more heavily controlled areas of North Africa and the Middle East are getting ready to stomp people.

      I just hope that this time something good comes of it. A lot of times there’s no real net change. Go go silent masses.

  7. turbokoala says:

    The Al Jazeera feed, is really good; that’s what I’m watching. CNN has a live stream also.

  8. EH says:

    You know, I’ve been mulling Biden’s remarks over the last day and I think I’ve come to a positive interpretation. The more he can be a lightning rod for external opinions, taking the attention of, say, international activists away from Egypt while Egypt figures out what they’re going to do for themselves, the better.

    I’m not Egyptian, I have no idea how good El Baradei would be if he was in power (or whatever his interests might be), I don’t think Egypt should be remade in the image of my imagination or academic studies. This is an Egypt thing, and I’m fine watching from the sidelines, and I think Biden’s remarks (and Hillary’s this morning) serve to create those sidelines.

    The Egyptians should be allowed their sovereignty even in transformation. It’s not an opportunity to create a “too many cooks” situation (though I’m sure Erik Prince would beg to differ).

  9. James says:

    Thanks, Kcobbq. Did Al Jazeera just get taken offline? Or just too much traffic for the server?

  10. mindysan33 says:

    Thanks for posting this round up Xeni! I don’t see this, an ongoing aggregate of the Twitters, which I think is the #Jan25 (I don’t twitters, so I’m not sure I’m writing that right):

    The most compelling scenes have been people praying in the street.

    All I can say is that I wish the people of Egypt the best in their fight against their tyrannical government!

  11. AdrenalineSleep says:

    Aside from the cascading protests in countries the world over, do we have any sense of what this could mean for international relations in general? If Mubarak’s is being assisted in some fashion by the United States, how do the people of Egypt feel about Americans?

    While I am certainly compelled to wish the people of Egypt good fortune in overthrowing a dictator who refuses to relinquish power by any means, I am concerned about what Egypt will look like post Mubarak. I suppose that goes for all of the countries currently experiencing unrest. We (Americans) have lots of conflicts brewing all over the place and having more states with governments unfavorable to the U.S. feels like it could be a problem for us. I guess we’ll have to let the people decide.

    Best of luck to the people of Egypt!
    Go team, go!!

  12. ncinerate says:

    And, small note. U.S. tear-gas companies:

    Can you guys please not stamp “MADE IN THE USA” across the teargas canisters? Is this really something we need to be proud of producing right here at home?


  13. Vasco says:

    Biden might not be willing to endorse democracy in Egypt, but at least someone is:

  14. James says:

    Just wanted to point out: It appears as though taking the Internet and other communications services offline, that the main impact has been:

    Continue rioting. Forever.

    Because there is no way for the people to decide to stop.

  15. taj1f says:

    #1 sign you’re living in an authoritarian regime: giant banners everywhere featuring the leader’s smiling face.

  16. bobthecitizen says:

    I’m with and we are preparing to have an emergency airdrop of lolcatz, keyboard cat, and some rick rolls. Pray with us that our planes get through and the fine citizens of wherewe’llivadenextistan, I mean, eqypt, get this shipment of vital interweb content.

    Seriously though, the US leaders should see this as a crystal ball for what’s gonna happen here as they strip away our liberties. We’re all in a corner, nowhere to be pushed back further, we’ll all come out swinging and the headline around the world… “US gets comeuppance”

  17. James says:

    Al Jazeera is now reporting that military is surrounding government buildings, leading government officials have fled the country, and Mubarak is MIA from his speech he was supposed to make earlier today.

    Commentators have said that after attacking his own people, cutting off their communications, 30 years of arrogant rule, etc., he can no longer lead the country.

  18. ncinerate says:

    I’m just going to come out and say something here too – I think I’ve had the wrong impression about Al Jazeera.

    This is the first time I’ve actually sat here watching Al Jazeera in any length because I’ve always just assumed (very short minded) that it was a biased network with an anti-american sentiment for the ears of an arabic audience, sort of like fox news catering to republicans and tea partiers.

    Anyway, what I’ve seen so far today has been very fair reporting with some interesting angles. Was I seriously -this- misinformed? Is Al Jazeera a legitimate and fair news source? I flipped over to CNN for a bit and turned it back off to flip back on Al Jazeera… I’m enjoying the open and informed coverage….

    Shattered preconceptions are scary sometimes :).

    • mindysan33 says:

      Al Jazeera generally has great coverage on all sorts of fronts. Not too long ago I saw a great interview with Slavoj Zizek — the interviewer (Riz Kahn maybe?) asked in-depth and informed questions about Zizek’s work, especially the particular book. It was a half hour interview. Then a saw a great half hour piece on children who live on the street in Indonesia. AJE is not perfect, but it really is miles and away better than the cable news here in the states. They use their 24 hour news cycle to actually get into some weighty issues, rather than just cover Charlie Sheen or the Beckhams or whatever. I wish our cable carrier had it.

    • penguinchris says:

      From what I’ve heard from people who track it closely, Al Jazeera is indeed biased. Of course they are – they cater to a specific audience. Some in the US find their stance unagreeable. I’m sure those in the middle east find CNN and Fox News appalling, though!

      In my opinion, compared to CNN and Fox News, Al Jazeera is quite good. Most importantly, they do an excellent job with international coverage – both within the middle east (e.g. Egypt) and elsewhere. Similar in quality to the BBC and the like in most cases, and usually with a different point of view which makes them interesting and important to pay attention to if you’re closely following something of interest to you – you will definitely get a different point of view on middle east happenings from Al Jazeera compared to the BBC.

      In Thailand and many other places, Al Jazeera in English is one of the standard international cable channels you’ll get on hotel tvs and so on (along with BBC, NHK, CCTV (China), Bloomberg, CNN, France 24, and others). It’s very interesting to be sitting in someplace like Thailand while something’s going on elsewhere in the world, browsing through the various international channels to see how the coverage varies! I wanted to mention Thailand though because Al Jazeera had very good coverage of the recent problems there compared to other international sources, and that’s something I’m very familiar with.

    • JaxSean says:

      Thanks for the solidarity, and no worries on being ignorant. I think most of us are failing our way up.

      “Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Al-Jazeera is basically BBC with squiggly writing and without the digs at the Tories. It’s an excellent news source as evidenced by the fact that almost every government in the world hates it.

    • bobthecitizen says:

      I guess you just accepted the Bush sponsored view that “al jazeera is evil” as fact.

      In reality Al jazeera has always been known for being very even handed, and has repeatedly been critiqued for not being antiwestern enough by extremists.

      Most other countries have very open press compared to the USA. When overseas I have repeatedly seen very important US news that never once appeared in the US, when I sent newspapers home my relatives ignored them saying “It can’t be true, it would have been on CNN”

      “In Russia it is called propoganda, in the US it is called CNN” (true for fox news as well)

  19. ncinerate says:

    military is supposedly surrounding the main museum there as well – I certainly hope this to be true.

    The raping of museums in Iraq was a tragedy, I’d hate to see the history and artifacts of egypt vanish into the mob – that would be a loss for humanity… Whatever happens to the regime, those relics need to be protected.

  20. Anonymous says:

    i have been pessimistic about the possibility of the egyptian government being toppled. i might be wrong.

    may the road lead to peace and freedom.


  21. Yamara says:


    @1:20 Yes, you were ignorant. Now you aren’t. Happens to me all time. What else might we be ignorant of?

    @1:22 I hope the artifacts are all right, too; I’ve been concerned since the Copt violence was reported. It’s a huge part of Egyptian heritage, and it would bee terrible if the mob finished the despoiling that despots of two centuries past began.

    • ncinerate says:

      I just didn’t realize I was being ignorant.

      I consider myself an open and fairly unbiased individual, but I have a hard time watching -severely- biased news (like Fox, as an example). It’s not that I necessarily disagree with anything they say, it’s just that they tow the party line regardless of wha they know to actually be -correct-. It becomes less information and more propaganda.

      For whatever reason, I lumped al jazeera into that without ever actually watching them. I must have stereotyped them based on the name, and for that, I was wrong.

      I’m pleasantly surprised.

      • Brainspore says:

        I just didn’t realize I was being ignorant.

        Isn’t that a self-obvious statement? :)

        Learning things is awesome!

  22. macegr says:

    A citizen’s revolution can work, and has worked in the past. However, as military technology progresses, the success depends on the people in power having some amount of sense. It won’t work on a dictator who’s gone completely Stalin.

    Citizen revolts are essentially a game of chicken. Militaries have unlimited methods of detecting, jamming, and destroying dissenters. There is no physical obstacle preventing total dominance. However, once enough people agree with a revolutionary stance, the game of chicken begins.

    A dictator (or someone with permanent emergency power) with the tiniest shred of self-preservation knows that he has lost as soon as the streets are filled with dissenters. You cannot rule over what you have killed. Those people are lost to you either way, so the best move is to bow out. The dissenters could be easily destroyed, but the economic and social impact is immensely negative, and tends to get dictators hanged.

    This is why revolution is still possible even in today’s state of high tech military advancement. Sure you can put crosshairs on unarmed civilians from a thousand miles away, but destroying any significant portion of your own citizens doesn’t work if they’re intermixed with the rest of the populace. That’s why the more successful bloody regimes first attempt to frighten, vilify, and physically separate groups before destroying them. Governments who have nothing to lose, or are insane, will take this approach because they do not care about outside opinion or what happens to the nation beyond their own rule. In those cases, a citizen revolt has to be almost simultaneous, comprise a majority of the population, and will be extremely bloody.

  23. Amelia_G says:

    Tried to read a Spiegel article on the latest in Egypt this morning and couldn’t finish because I was distracted and fascinated by the twitter feed constantly updating to the left of the article! People thought, for example, that CNN was embarrassing itself by just rebroadcasting Egyptian state television footage.
    I don’t have a tv, I just read about it.

  24. Manooshi says:

    The U.S. government and media has purposely demonized Al Jazeera as a “biased” and “anti-American” news source due to the fact that they do not sanitize, nor ignore the ground realities of the Middle East, including Uncle Sam’s illegal wars and occupations. Al Jazeera does not censor the ugly and horrific details of these illegal wars and occupations: including the illegal and ruthless Israeli military occupations of the OPT’s. (Occupied Palestinian Territories).

    If providing thorough and accurate coverage of the ground realities of the Middle East is “biased” and “anti-American” – then I don’t know what else to say other than: thanks for the convoluted Orwellian double-speak, My Fellow Americans!

    It’s long overdue that we stop being so prejudiced and ignorant. Especially since our fuKKKed up wars/occupations in the Middle East have pretty much bankrupted our arrogant nation.

    Peace in the Middle East!

  25. Manooshi says:

    P.S.: I sincerely recommend that EVERYONE see the 2004 documentary film, “Control Room” ASAP to truly understand how excellent and professional of a news-source Al-Jazeera is. As well as, to further understand why it’s a crime against ALL peoples of conscious that George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld were never tried with war crimes for being belligerent war criminals.


    • bobthecitizen says:

      That list should really read Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Obama, Biden. Sadly Obama has continued the wars, illegal wiretapping, extraordinary rendition, destruction of civil liberties and in general followed the Bush policies. Except for predator flights and US employment of mercenaries, those he increased 400%. They are all amoral war criminals.

  26. Anonymous says:

    I hate to post vapid compliments, but BB’s recent coverage of Egypt has been very impressive.

  27. guillaume_remy says:

    Sometime fiction his a good way to understand reality. The last film of Youssef Chahine (Chaos) is a good explaination of the problems of Egypt.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Why no link to this?

    The American government secretly backed leading figures behind the Egyptian uprising who have been planning “regime change” for the past three years, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Operation Egyptian Freedom. Semper Fi

  30. Anonymous says:

    Dear all,

    We are a group of Egyptian Expats trying to apply pressure on multi-nationals and governments who still continue to support the oppression of the egyptian people and their basic human rights.
    We need your help, and we need to know, what as dual citizens can we do to force these issues to the international communitee.

    Below is an email to IT and telco corporations, for the sake of our families and countrymen’s basic human rights

    To all the IT & telecom leaders of the world,

    Wherever you are good morning, good afternoon & good evening.

    We have come to a defining moment in man’s history after which nothing will
    be the same again. The elements of human rights now have the explicit right
    to free communication in *all* it’s forms.

    You are called upon as leaders and providers of these technologies and as
    you continuously label yourself “connectors” & “enablers” to *take a stance.

    They say ‘*treaties are signed by governments but peace is made by
    people”*; we see the same applying to your businesses worldwide.

    Years have you profited from this and years to come you will continue to
    from us your customers! Serving your customers, we demand you stand with us
    in support of the deprived and isolated people of Egypt. Unlike before the
    internet net now will not just enable communication but *will save lives*.

    We ask you to issue a combined press release – *from each one of you* – pass
    it through your huge PR machines to the media calling on governments
    globally and those in charge to save lives & give back the internet to the
    people of Egypt.

    *You are not mere CEOs or Chairmen, you are leaders of an industry that was
    built on hope and innovation from the early days of Marconi and Bell till
    the era of ‘connecting people’ & ”power to you’.
    And in the end, please note that if you do support us, nothing will happen
    from our side. If you don’t support us, nothing will happen from our side.

    However, the combined equities of your companies will surely either collapse
    or forever shine in the hearts and minds of your global consumer. In the
    end it’s still a good business deal.

    Who will be first ? Who will be last ? Who will ignore and who will respect

    Choose wise.
    Lives of people or a contract from a government losing power.

    The answer is no longer what you would usually go for.

    Egyptian Expats Unite
    Please get the word out:

  31. marco antonio says:

    My contribution as a designer is a few Egypt-uprising designed tee shirts, to at least raise some awareness: here and here. I’ll be getting mine and wear it proud, as I follow the developments in Egypt. I hope it all comes to a good end!

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