Dozens have died on the streets of Cairo this week as the Egyptian Army continues to fire blindly into clusters of demonstrators in hopes of dissolving protests against government imposed-austerity measures.
According to Egyptian state television, it was the fantastically efficient police response to the Occupy Wall Street movement in America that motivated this slew of executions overseas.
“We saw the firm stance the US took against OWS people (and the German government against green protesters) to secure the state,” an Egyptian state television anchor said on Sunday (as translated by Sultan Sooud al Qassemi). While it’s without a doubt a hyperbole to compare the deaths of at least 33 of this writing with the indeed brutal but comparably tame assaults carried out by US police departments, it still says something to the forces in the States that their ridiculous response to protests so far has spawned a lethal follow-up in Egypt.
At least it should.
While protesters have proven in America during the last two months of demonstrations to be peaceful, assaults from police officers across the country have only increased in recent weeks. A coordinated crackdown on several cities last week led to mass injuries, and two overzealous raids in New York alone last week left many protesters bloodied and bruised. Peaceful protesters were assaulted by cops with clubs and journalists were assaulted and arrested for doing their job during last Thursday’s Day of Action, which brought tens of thousands to the street of Manhattan. The next morning across the country, campus cops at the University of California Davis fired toxic pepper spray on protesters who sat quietly without provoking the police. In the aftermath, outrage over the handling of the OWS movement by local police departments has only erupted further, with rallies against ongoing brutality occurring in countless cities.
As the events separated by thousands of miles differ in intensity, the reasons for the mass protests aren’t that far off. “We are not clearing the square until there is a national salvation government that is representative and has full responsibility,” activist Rami Shaat tells the Associated Press from Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Mohammed Sayyed, another demonstrator, adds that he “will keep coming back until they kill” him. To the AP, he showed off a bandaged head wound occurred by a rubber bullet fired by police. While dozens have died from police action in Egypt, nothing to that level has occurred in America yet — though a projectile shot by police in Oakland, California last month did leave one protester in critical condition with a fractured skull.
“While the Egyptian authorities have a duty to maintain law and order, they must not use excessive force to crack down on peaceful protests, something that poses a severe threat to Egyptians’ rights to assembly and freedom of expression,” writes representatives from Amnesty International in a recent press release. Across the pond, those in Zuccotti Park and on the streets of Albany, Oakland, DC and hundreds of other cities in America are saying the same thing.
Will the comparisons become more parallel in the days to come? With today announcement from Capitol Hill that the congressional supercommittee failed to find a compromise to deal with America’s deficit, austerity measured just like those that have caused riots overseas should be coming stateside soon. With the congressional panel forfeiting a plan on Monday, automatic spending cuts to the tune of $1.2 trillion will be triggered in only 13 months’ time.