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counterpunch, 27 octobre 2013

Egypte : Fear in the Air

par Andre VITCHEK

An anti-Mursi protester holds a crossed-out picture of President Mohamed Mursi during a sit-in at Tahrir Square, ahead of the June 30 planned protest against Mursi, in Cairo June 29, 2013. The words on the picture read : "30/6/2013 The General Strike"

At seven o’clock, tanks left several side streets and moved directly to the El-Gaish Road, to that magnificent sea front avenue and promenade, the pride of the ancient city ofAlexandria. That day 2 people died. The victims were two protesters, members of the Muslim Brotherhood. And so the number of casualties is increasing ; two more citizens, two more lost lives in that apparently unstoppable carnage that began on the day of the coup d’état, 3rd July 2013, when, as described in "objective" and cold language by
mass media outlets, "General Abdul Fatah al-Sisi removed President Mohamed Morsi and suspended the Egyptian Constitution".


After the "event", almost immediately, countless reports were filed, and clichés established, calling the coup "bloodless". But according to several of my sources in the capital, by early September 2013 at least 1600 Egyptian men, women and children had already spilt their blood, mostly victims of brutal actions conducted by the security forces, the military and the police. And the real numbers are most likely higher, much higher. Just to put all this into some perspective, during and after that beastly military coup in Chile (on 11 September 1973), performed by General Augusto Pinochet and his cohorts,
planned and backed by the US government, several private foreign and local companies, between 2000 and 4000 people lost their lives. If the situation in Egypt does not change rapidly, before the end of the year, the country can
easily beat those Chilean numbers of victims, in just a short period of 6 months.

Protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi gather during a demonstration at Tahrir Square in Cairo June 30, 2013

Before the killings in Alexandria, on that very same day, I drove through the El-Gaish Road, and a few hours later I went to one of the epicenters of the protests. I went on foot. My local guides, two university students, were too scared to accompany me. They went away, stayed behind. Their last advice was, as they saw me chatting with several Muslim Brotherhood members : “Either way you will get messed up… If you make Brotherhood people angry, you are finished… If you befriend them, security people or snipers will see it and they will get you !” This time, nothing happened. The Brotherhood members appeared to be grateful to have me here. They were posing for the lenses of my cameras, shouting pro-Morsi slogans, waving flags, and insulting the military. They were not hostile at all, on the contrary. I was the only foreign looking filmmaker and photographer there, at that moment, and that gained me some "mileage", and certain spontaneous respect.

Anti-Mursi protesters (bottom) and residents of an area in Sidi Gaber, clash in a side street off a main street where a massive anti-Mursi protest is taking place, in Alexandria, June 30, 2013

I had not come here to promote the Muslim Brotherhood, certainly not. I came to try to make sense of what was happening in the post-coup d’état Egypt, just working in the middle of this riot or protest, or whatever it could be called, I was moving in the middle of that mess, and Brotherhood people simply let me do what I came here to do. We were not friends and we were not enemies. I came to give images to the world, and they were longing for exposure. I had to move fast, to make the job of snipers extremely difficult, almost impossible. And I had been changing my locations of filming and photographing, on several occasions, very rapidly.



  • Andre VITCHEK

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    éditeur : Frank Brunner | ouverture : 11 novembre 2000 | reproduction autorisée en citant la source