United Across Oceans: Leading Egyptian Activists Join in Solidarity with U.S. Financial Protestors This Week
- Published on Wednesday, 05 October 2011 16:47
This past year, well into the season of recession oppressing the United States, the Arab Spring took to flight. Egypt’s uprising, as the second iteration of the democratic movement across the Middle East region (Tunisia being the first), truly caught the world’s attention and imagination.
Despite initial success with the ousting of ex-leader Mubarak, democracy in Egypt continues to struggle through the labor pains, with military still controlling the country and change moving at a snail’s pace.
Meanwhile, American voices have started rising up in an organized way. It’s easy to cite Obama’s falling poll numbers as the first clear reflection of the American population’s frustration at little to no change or reform in the financial industry- in addition to the failing economy and high unemployment.
But, one could even argue that those falling poll numbers are the first step down the road of real revolution; as protests such as Occupy Wall Street gain momentum and take form, other Americans are slowly releasing the reality-TV induced slumber of apathy to give support to and join forces with these previously “fringe” reformists taking to the streets. And now, events have spread to Washington, D.C.
Has the spirit of the Arab Spring finally crashed upon the shores of the United States? While the problems facing each Mideast country, and the U.S., and Europe (also in the throws of it’s own financial crisis) are unique and different, at the heart of the matter is true Democracy. No shadowy military rulers promising future reform, no electoral systems flushed with the cash of the rich and entitled, no governments who can’t work collaboratively with neighbors for the good of everyone.
With that perspective, this week’s planned solidarity protests in Cairo and Washington, D.C., on October 6th and 7th, could seem inevitable. Sharing values for grass roots democracy, the two groups are working together to coordinate an event they hope will break “East-West” barriers and give a push to both sides’ cause. Noted Egyptian activists such as Asmaa Mahfouz and Ahmed Maher, and notable American social justice advocates such as Noam Chomsky and Chris Hedges, have joined forces to pledge support for the upcoming October 2011 protest and nonviolent occupation of Washington DC’s Freedom Plaza beginning October 6. Leading advocates for both protest movements affirmed mutual support of each other’s common goals, and announced plans for a solidarity protest in Tahrir Square on Friday, October 7.
The October2011.org protests, described on their website as a movement supporting “human needs, not corporate greed,” intends to consolidate leading progressive activists in the United States into a viable umbrella coalition that can work together towards principles of “peace [as well as] social, economic, and environmental justice” that are supported by “super-majorities of Americans” yet get compromised due to political and economic pressures.
“While our nations face many different challenges and remain thousands of miles and cultures apart, we find that we share many of the same concerns within our respective countries,” protest organizers said in a prepared statement. “Both the people of the United States and Egypt require real democracy so that the views of the people are represented.”
“Inspired by the courageous, nonviolent uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Greece, Spain, and elsewhere, people in the United States have come together to form the October 2011 Movement,” said the organizers on their website. On the heels of recent ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests - which a number of October2011.org members participated in - the Freedom Plaza protesters hope in particular to draw attention to recent Congressional budget talks, which to them emphasized wasteful military-industrial spending and corporate handouts over social programs or more sensible foreign policy positions.
The issues are not merely U.S. policy towards Americans, and Egyptian struggles against their own government, but the protests seek to shed light on the deeper policies that affect both populations’ welfare. For example, “Even USAID funds to Egypt have strings attached,” the organizers write, “as 85% of USAID Egyptian funds since January 25 went to US organizations, with only a small fraction going to civil society organizations in Egypt.” Organizers are calling for the binational affirmation that the United States needs to “stop leveraging its economic power to bribe other countries, [or] to force them to follow US wishes.” Given the influence that the United States will undoubtedly wield in future Egyptian aid and development efforts in the next few months, and given the potential influence that it might try to wield in electoral politics, organizers said that the need for transnational partnerships against hegemony were especially necessary at this time.
Aslan Media will be covering these events both in the United States and on the ground in Egypt, so stay tuned. You can follow on Twitter @AslanMedia and @AslanMediaLive for live reports.
The organizers have provided a list of in-depth “Suggestions” and a Manifesto of sorts on their website.
More information can be found at the October2011.org website, including FAQs, schedules, YouTube manifestos from multiple October2011.org participants, and Facebook and Twitter links. Protests are being organized in both DC and Tahrir Square beginning October 6-7.
You can also follow on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/StopTheMach2011
Twitter hashtag: #oct6
*Photo Credit: Andrew Rusk
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