Forrest Myers, [Revolt! Bite the Hand That Bleeds You] , ca. 1970
The six Al-Jazeera reporters arrested last week during the protests in Egypt were released Monday but they were not allowed to take their camera equipment with them. They were denied photo documentation of the present crisis, further highlighting the suppression of freedom at the heart of the protests.
The recent upheaval in Egypt is nothing foreign to Egypt’s history over the last century. In 1919, British forces denied Egyptians’ sovereignty over Sudan and refused to withdraw forces from the Suez Canal. In the 1952 Revolution, these issues still boiled while Egyptians aimed to overthrow King Farouk’s pro-British, constitutional monarchy in favor of a republic. Now, in 2011, Egyptian civilians revolt in hopes of ending President Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade-long government.
In a world where actions speak louder than words, Mubarak’s talks on January 30 that promised future dialogue with rival political parties will need to produce more tangible results. When the government turned off cellular and Internet service Friday to hinder communication between protestors, freedom and democracy did not seem like Mubarak’s priorities. Mubarak remarked that demonstrations were “peaceful” but made violent by groups like the Muslim Brotherhood who use the name of religion to “spread fear.” Islamists promise that their rule will be more democratic than Mubarak’s “dictatorship,” despite Western misunderstanding of extreme religious parties.
Whether the future of Egypt’s government lies in collaboration or full leadership by Mubarak’s newly appointed Vice President Omar Souleiman, his son Gamal, or even the Muslim Brotherhood, the hopes of democracy will not rest.
Images of the 1919 and 1956 revolts in the ICP archives affirm long-held beliefs in freedom of documentation and for hopes of educating and enlightening a more democratic world.
Chim (David Seymour), Port Said during the Suez War, Egypt, 1956
The New York Times Mid-Week Pictorial War Extra, “Egypt in Revolt,” April 17, 1919
Chim (David Seymour), At the close of the Suez fighting, Port Said, 1956
Sources and Recommended Readings:
“Egypt Protests: Cairo prison break prompts fear of fundamentalism,” Simon Tisdell, January 30, 2011
“Lawlessness could hijack Egypt’s Popular Uprising,” Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, January 31, 2011