Sunday, February 13, 2011

A long way from Egypt

Excerpt from Observer column | Monday 7 Feb 2011

by Jean Lowrie-Chin

In the very rare event that anyone "roughs up" a Jamaican journalist, physically or verbally, there is general condemnation. The children of Garvey will not take bullying from any quarter. What horror we feel as we watch local and overseas journalists being attacked on the streets of Cairo. On Thursday night we saw CNN's Anderson Cooper reporting on this violent turn by pro-Mubarak thugs. He showed earlier footage of a truck driving at full speed through a crowd of protestors, injuring several, and then a speeding fire truck running over a demonstrator - horrible!

Commentator Halani Gorani, holed up with Cooper in an undisclosed location, opined, "If democracy takes hold in Egypt, it will change the entire region." We saw Katie Couric of CBS and ABC's Christiane Amanpour being jostled.

"If I resign now, there would be chaos," Mubarak told Amanpour in an interview last week. So was he saying that the scenes being beamed around the world are not chaotic? There are suggestions that there may be extremists participating in the anti-government rally but the peaceful scenes of the earlier days of the protests showed intelligent, resolute people. The hotheads later emerged but they were carrying a pro-government line.

Photojournalist Andrew Burton reported that it was "sincerely frightening" when he was set upon by the pro-government agitators. About six peaceful demonstrators surrounded him to protect him. "They saved my life," he said. "They took many more blows and punches than I did."

We are changing channels from our comparatively less ominous news reports to these harrowing accounts and giving thanks that we already have what the Egyptians are fighting for: democracy. What we now need to look at are the opportunities that this democracy affords us.

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