Egypt

Return to Terror Square

December 19, 2011

Multiple Pages
Return to Terror Square

In the sequel, the monster always comes back stronger than before. After a florid incarnation of the so-called “Arab Spring,” Cairo’s inhabitants have just returned election ballots whose resulting extremist successes forebode a Nuclear Winter for liberty.

It was in Tahrir Square that earlier this year protesters against “dictatorship” made their dramatic stand for human rights, civilian dignity, and liberal democratic entitlements. Also among their demands was the privilege to gang-rape Western women.

Lest any have forgotten (great efforts were made to ensure the casual observer never knew about it in the first place), only moments after the much-lauded victory against tyranny, the “protesters” took turns manhandling CBS reporter Lara Logan. Since approximately ten seconds after this occurrence, Western audiences have only heard intermittently from this portion of the international soundstage.

“In the sequel, the monster always comes back stronger than before.”

Following Hosni Mubarak’s resignation it was not civil rights which ruled, but a military junta. Many of the same abuses endured under Mubarak were suffered under the new gaggle of bit-player military dictators. Scant media attention was paid to the additional occupations of Tahrir Square by thousands protesting the continuing abuse. Ignored were ominous signals that the extremists who had long been outlawed from political participation were on the verge of making a very big comeback.

Only in the days after the recent election did the mainstay publishing powers offer a glance back and a look forward. More than one characterized the Freedom and Justice Party ( Muslim Brotherhood) victories as an astonishing development. Many used some variation of the theme that those rascally radicals, like all good movie villains, had “played it smart” and “lay [sic] low during the revolution,” only to emerge at full force during the aftermath.

Now arrives word from multiple sources that not only did the militant Islamists pull off a feat no one expected (except everyone who was paying any attention), they went about celebrating it in much the same way as before. Sadly this is not hyperbole, merely the plodding plotline of a formulaic script.

Caroline Sinz of France 3 television was in Tahrir Square on November 23 when a gang of men beat her and tore the clothes from her body. By her own account, they proceeded to molest her in ways which “would be considered rape.” This behavior continued for three quarters of an hour. Sinz’s cameraman was also beaten.

Another (this time Egyptian) female journalist named Mona Eltahawy was sexually assaulted while at the Egyptian Interior Ministry after being arrested in a street, again adjacent to Tahrir Square. As Eltahawy Tweeted, “5 or 6 surrounded me, groped and prodded my breasts, grabbed my genital area and I lost count how many hands tried to get into my trousers.”

This was while she was in the custody of the authorities, ostensibly the country’s moderates. She was later released with no statement on why she had been held, though the result (aside from psychosexual trauma) was a pair of broken wrists.

In modern Egypt, at least for women and especially for Western women, there is a Technicolor nightmare of “damned if you do get sexually assaulted by the civilians, damned if you don’t get sexually assaulted by the authorities.”

With the election of those who have even less esteem for women and divergent beliefs in general, the soundtrack has taken on an ominously Hitchcockian tone. This film is called Return to Terror Square. Subtitles are to be decided at the viewers’ discretion. This will be a performance little promoted and running only in those out-of-the-way outlets so the majority of viewers are unlikely to be unduly disturbed.

The drama progresses and the scene is set for the trilogy’s last installment, though we will have to wait for its premiere at a later date. In the meantime all the worst fears are realized and all the basest impulses indulged. Will our hero (whoever he may be, assuming he exists) rise to topple the despots and chivalrously hold malign minions liable for their misdeeds? Will the final chapter be given more exposure than this recent sequel? Will anyone still be left to care when and if humanity is restored?

The real horror story here is the lack of shock, the absence of outrage, and the casual acceptance that devious forces are now at work both in the corridors of power and the streets which slither through the Egyptian theater.

 

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