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In Cyberspace, Disorderly Discourses About the Uprising and Its Opponents

March 10, 2011

Already, it is possible to see struggles over the appropriation of the uprising/revolution. For example, if you follow the video above back to youtube, you will find a series of comments (98 in the six hours between when it was first published to youtube and when I wrote this post). The person who posted the video argues that the army appears to be protecting the thugs and demands an explanation:

the thugs attacked went through the defenses of the protesters and arrived at the round about . The Army also arrived at the same time. To me it looked as if the army was protecting the thugs. But within the Chaos down there , details could not be taken in logically.  WE NEED EXPLANATIONS [A]lso I heard the thugs went on attacking normal people going to buy their vegetables and went as far ar Midan Bab El Louk, and Talaat Harb on the other side.

The first post in response took a very different stance, arguing (in Arabic) that the leaders of the “real youth rebellion” suspended it for two weeks, that these so-called protesters are just people seeking to disrupt the honor of the new government. He concludes (my quick and dirty gloss):

The sit-in at the moment has no meaning, it only distorts the public image of the revolution  ….. And any attempt to topple the honor of the government  is an effort to help the Zionist entity that initiated the attack on the government … Wake up and understand

This writer clearly distinguishes between a “real” protest which overthrew the Mubarak regime and initiated political change and a continuing “fake” protest that is not merely disruptive but seditious. At the time of this posting, the comment had 40 “likes”.

It was followed by a brief post (in Arabic) supporting the army:

All praise to the armed forces for carrying out the demands of thepeople to evacuate the field [in Tahrir Square].

This post had 18 “likes”. Other posts include:

Revolution turned to chaos in the street … Incidents of theft killed … ….. …. Islamic terrorist groups I woke up again …. Escape of prisoners, destruction of hospitals ….. …. the destruction of tourism …. Spies belonging to Iran and the CIA is now in Cairo are working freely.

People’s well aware of the dirty game …… Must now provide terrorists to trial and expelled the U.S. ambassador in Cairo …. Cut off all diplomatic relations with Israel and security

The Egyptian Protesters are CHANGING HISTORY!!! The whole world give them support!!! 😀 …. well except for dictators and their brainwashed slaves.

These protesters are taking a stand for what is sacred in life. This is solid evidence of basic Human Right Violations. Corruption continues……

I noticed that abuse of power and money ALWAYS leads to Human Right Violations. The United Nations should support the voice of the protesters. They stand for what is sacred in life. Suppression is evil. No philosophical rationalization can justify human right violations!

Protesters in the square of terrorist groups, threatening the security of citizens and the community and tourists. Tried to steal the Egyptian Museum and harassment of girls., the police arrested them. Spread chaos among the Muslims and the Christians and killed children in Egypt. Must bring these terrorists to justice urgent

None of these posts had more than 4 “likes”

Clearly, both the revolution and the discourses that seek to comment on it and sort out its meanings remain contingent processes. Although the ongoing protests continue to bring about successes–most recently the change of governments and  the invasions of the state security buildings–at each stage there are many voices who insist that the uprising must stop here, that further protests are unnecessary and do more harm than good,

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