As Egypt and its people struggle through one of the most serious political and social crises in their history, most reasonable people and governments are sympathetic to the millions of Egyptians protesting as peacefully as they can to get rid of a dictator with aspirations for more freedom, opportunity and a better life for themselves and their children.
I said most reasonable people because there are some from the far, far right who are using this crisis to instill fear, anger and divisiveness among us; to make unfounded allegations as to how the Islamic Brotherhood has influence within the U.S. government; and to claim that a "Muslim Caliphate" will control the Middle East and parts of Europe.
I will not further dignify such rants, but will address another development.
Yesterday we saw the crisis in Egypt intensify as thousands of pro-Mubarak supporters attacked the pro-democracy demonstrators in Cairo's Tahrir Square.
Some are praising and supporting the "spontaneous" pro-Mubarak thugs who by the thousands -- many on horseback or riding camels -- stormed Tahrir Square and attacked the peaceful demonstrators, viciously whipping, beating and trampling anyone in their path.
From eyewitness reports:
The pro-Mubarak thugs arrived in trucks and buses and armed with machetes, straight razors, clubs and other weaponry at "the appointed time." Probably many of the same "irregulars" have been used in the past by Mubarak to intimidate the political opposition, to stuff the ballot boxes, etc.
With such a heavy police and military security and roadblocks everywhere, miraculously the pro-Mubarak demonstrators managed to converge unencumbered on Tahrir Square and allowed into the square by the troops surrounding it -- no longer checking IDs, nor checking for weapons.
They all chanted the same chants, had the same slogans and were clearly well-organized.
Some of the attackers who were caught had IDs showing them to be police dressed in civilians clothes. According to the Nation, "Others appeared to be state sponsored 'baltagiya' (gangs) and government employees."
Spontaneous demonstrations supporting Mubarak?
Or, as Mark Urban writes, by sending club-wielding gangs of 'supporters' into action denying the pro-democracy protesters "the kind of iconic image of oppression that come out of China when a man stood in front of a column of tanks in 1989."? (Urban continues, "the use of agent provocateurs to discredit political opponents by sparking acts of violence goes back centuries.")
Or, by sending in organized and paid thugs to crack heads, create chaos to give Mubarak, his interior security thugs, his police and his army the excuse for a final, total and bloody crackdown on the demonstrators and for once and for all "solving the problem"?
I read one of the best descriptions of the "spontaneous demonstrations" at the Moderate Voice.
In his "Mubarak Tries the 'Rent-a-Thug' Gambit," Rick Moran writes:
In the time honored tradition of dictators who have reached the end of their rope, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has decided to crack down on the demonstrations that have brought his regime to its knees.
Rather than use his army or uniformed police to do the dirty work, Mubarak has instituted a jobs program for thugs. He has hired several hundred - perhaps thousands - of bully boys to mix with pro-Mubarak demonstrators and beat the opposition senseless while being given free rein by the army to cavort through the streets tossing Molotov cocktails into the thickest concentration of protesters.
Yes, "spontaneous demonstrations," indeed.