Josh Wood

A journalist's observations on Lebanon and elsewhere

Who Are Mubarak’s Supporters?

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A supporter of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak holds a sign saying “yes to Mubarak” on February 2, 2011. Photo by Sam Tarling.

Since last Wednesday, the words “pro-Mubarak” have largely come to refer to the legions of thugs who stormed the peaceful protesters at Tahrir Square, colluded with the police and mukhabarat and violently targeted and attacked foreigners, journalists and anti-government Egyptians throughout Cairo. Such hostility has largely made it difficult to get a picture of those who stand behind the Mubarak movement.

A week ago on February 2, Sam Tarling and I went to a pro-Mubarak rally in the upscale neighborhood of Mohandiseen on the western side of the Nile before things ratcheted up.  This was the first day that Mubarak’s supporters really came out in force and we were eager to see the other side of the story.

Sam has a post about it here so I will be brief.

As we headed to the center of Mohandiseen from Dokki, the crowds amassing were (relatively) friendly to journalists and eager to shout their slogans for us and get in front of the cameras.  In the square in Mohandiseen where they were marching to, the mood was a bit different.  Many people shouted either expletives at us or simply to “go home”.  At a few points I was circled up by some rougher youths who pushed me and tried to instigate trouble, but there were usually somebody who understood that journalists are not Mossad agents or foreign instigators as state media had been saying who would intervene.  Lots of mukhabarat were on the scene as well.

The people I ended up speaking to mostly ended up being the well-off.  Logistically, it was safest after I had a few interviews that quickly spiraled towards chaos after I asked more pointed questions.  The main thing that most of these people stressed was stability – that Egypt’s future without Mubarak could be chaos and that the economy could suffer.  Not all necessarily liked Mr. Mubarak as much as their fellow protesters (like the ones who shouted that he was “like a father” and professed their sadness that he was to be stepping down) but judging by their Lacoste sweatshirts and Blackberries, they certainly did well under his rule.  In a country where business is muddied with politics through corruption so much, an end to the Mubarak era could mean that a lot on the upper fringes of society lose big time.

The question of Mubarak’s support base is a big one and I really want to look in to the mobilization of the “thugs” along with take a look at why some “average” Egyptians might support him, but am lacking the time now.  I hope I will post a bit more on Egypt up here soon.

In the meantime, check out the video below by Al Jazeera English (which, I must say has provided some really fantastic coverage of Egypt) which dives a little deeper into the fears of Cairo’s elite.

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Written by woodenbeirut

February 9, 2011 at 12:57 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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