Sarah Topol in Slate: "Egypt has a sexual harassment problem. In a 2008 study, 86 percent of women said they had been harassed on Egypt's streets--any woman walking through a crowd of men in Egypt braces to get groped. But in the square, crammed in shoulder-to-shoulder, men apologized if they so much as bumped into you. After wandering around the protests for days, it suddenly dawned on me that I hadn't been groped, a constant annoyance when I'm faced with large crowds in Cairo. When I pointed this out to other women in the square, we all took a moment to reflect. 'I hadn't even thought of that,' one woman in Tahrir told me. 'But it's because we're all so focused on one goal, we're a family here."
Video Link. 26-year-old Asmaa Mahfouz of Egypt recorded this video on January 18th, uploaded it to YouTube, and shared it on her Facebook. Within days, the video went viral within Egypt and beyond.
"Whoever says women shouldn't go to the protests because they will get beaten, let him have some honor and manhood and come with me on January 25th" she says in the video, "They don't even have to go to Tahrir Square, just go anywhere and say it: that we are free human beings."
And she condemns the couch potatoes and armchair internet activists, in no uncertain terms.
"Sitting home and just following us on news or on Facebook leads to our humiliation -- it leads to my humiliation!," she says in the video.
"If you have honor and dignity as a man, come and protect me, and other girls in the protest. if you stay home, you deserve what's being done to you, and you will be guilty before your nation and your people. Go down to the street, send SMSes, post it on the internet, make people aware."
The video is popularly credited with helping inspire fellow Egyptians by the thousands to participate in protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square, calling for an end of the 30-year authoritarian rule of Hosni Mubarak. The video is also credited with helping to inspire the Egyptian government to block Facebook. Whether it's accurate to credit this one video, and this one young woman, with all of that, I'll leave to activists in Egypt who know the history better than I. But at the very least, her powerful video captures the spirit of an important moment in history.
Spencer Ackerman at Wired News on Mubarak's speech just now in Cairo: "That sounds like an invitation for a crackdown. Although there has been some rioting, the protests have been largely peaceful. One protester in Cairo today even told Al Jazeera that her friends are starting a soccer tournament in the packed Tahrir Square. But if the police still consider Mubarak's instructions to have the force of law, those protesters may soon be under assault if they don't disperse. Will the Army defend the protesters against the police, after saying earlier that soldiers won't open fire on civilians?"
A report released by Human Rights Watch documents how Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's government effectively condones police abuse by failing to ensure that law enforcement officers who are accused of torture are investigated and criminally prosecuted.
HRW describes torture as "an endemic problem in Egypt." According to HRW, ending police abuse—and the cycle of impunity for those crimes—is a driving element behind the massive popular demonstrations in Egypt this past week. Snip from introduction:
'Work on Him Until He Confesses': Impunity for Torture in Egypt," documents how President Hosni Mubarak's government implicitly condones police abuse by failing to ensure that law enforcement officials accused of torture are investigated and criminally prosecuted, leaving victims without a remedy.
"Egyptians deserve a clean break from the incredibly entrenched practice of torture," said Joe Stork, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Division at Human Rights Watch. "The Egyptian government's foul record on this issue is a huge part of what is still bringing crowds onto the streets today."
The case of Khaled Said, a 28-year-old man beaten to death by two undercover police officers on an Alexandria street in June, dominated headlines and set off demonstrations across the country. The local prosecutor initially closed an investigation and ordered Said's burial, but escalating public protests prompted the Public Prosecutor to reopen the investigation and refer it to court. "We Are All Khaled Said" is the name of the Facebook group that helped initiate the mass demonstrations on January 25, 2011.
[ Warning: disturbing content. The report contains graphic descriptions of torture. ]
[Video Link] Waseem Wagdi, an Egyptian living in London talks about recent events in Egypt during a protest outside the Egyptian Embassy, London.
A reminder of online resources for Boing Boing readers who are following the significant and fast-moving events in Egypt today. I'm keeping several browser tabs open for these three liveblogs: The Guardian, Al Jazeera English, and New York Times.
Here are three helpful Twitter lists, some of which focus on people reporting on the ground in Egypt, others also include smart analytical voices currently based elsewhere: New York Times, NPR, and Washington Post.
"Egypt's Cabinet has just submitted its resignation, and a new Prime Minister has been appointed. As Egypt's Minister of Communications and Information Technology since 2004, you are now most likely heading back to private life. As a friend, I write to urge you to take one final action before you walk out the door of your Ministry: Give the order to reconnect Egypt to the global Internet, and to drop all remaining blocks on wireless networks."—Andrew McLaughlin, in the Huffington Post. You can follow him on Twitter. (via Anil Dash)
Marilyn Terrell of National Geographicpoints us to the photo above making the rounds on Twitter and Facebook today, and explains:
Citizens linking arms in front of the Egyptian Museum to prevent looters from entering. I found this photo on Twitter, posted by @theplayethic, who also tweeted, "Power memes in #Egypt. Reports of soldiers roaming damaged Cairo museum, armed criminals in suburbs."
Margaret Maitland, an Egyptology student at Oxford University, examines Al Jazeera video to assess what has been damaged during rioting at the Cairo Museum. She thinks the damaged objects include items from Tutankahmun's tomb.
Would-be looters broke into Cairo's famed Egyptian Museum, ripping the heads off two mummies and damaging about 10 small artifacts before being caught and detained by soldiers, Egypt's antiquities chief [Zahi Hawass] said Saturday.
Photo: A protester kisses a police officer 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 Mubarak's three-decade rule. (REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)