Unemployment – especially among the young – falling living standards and lockdowns have sparked riots across the cradle of the Arab Spring, reports the Guardian.
I have said it numerous times, and people usually get upset: The revolution in Tunisia has failed (co-opted).
Yes, they didn’t witness massacres (thankfully) like Egypt, Syria and elsewhere. They have relatively fair elections. But the two main factors that triggered the revolt (police repression and social inequalities) remain unchanged, if not worsened.
It’s interesting also to follow the coverage of Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabi of the recent protests. They have been focusing largely on the “sabotage and destruction of public property,” adopting the conspiratorial narrative of the Tunisian state re “outside forces exploiting the Tunisian youth” etc.
It’s good that people protest, and demand answers and justice. But the odds are stacked against them. Not one officer has been successfully prosecuted over a death in custody. And figures released this week showed, when cops are found to have potentially committed gross misconduct, over 90 percent keep their jobs. Police are violent and racist because their job is to uphold a violent and racist system. We need to fight over every death in custody and every police assault. But to end police brutality for good, we need to end the brutal system they serve.
The Interior Ministry issued a new propaganda video, about how wonderful health care is inside prisons, that one wishes hospitals outside were as good, according to the video. This is not my sarcasm. This was literally said.
The video is what one would normally expect, of shiny clinics in prisons, clean facilities, and praise showered from “prisoners” on how ethically they are treated.
One thing that struck me though was seeing Samir Omar, the Sky News Arabia correspondent in Cairo, going on to give a propaganda speech in defense of the Interior Ministry.
I haven’t been in touch with Samir for years, but at some point in my life he was a friend. From Nasserist activists’ ranks he went on to join Al-Jazeera and became its star Cairo correspondent for years, covering the Kefaya protests and the burgeoning scene of dissent. Samir was very brave journalist and sympathetic to grassroots activists and human rights defenders. It is a pity to see him hitting rock bottom.
It’s already disgusting he’s sold his soul to Sky News Arabia, the official mouthpiece of Arab counterrevolutions, but gosh! It was a shock to see him praising the same prisons he had reported for years on their brutality and horrors, prisons that housed (and still house) former friends of his!