Egypt’s Violent Aftermath
Egypt’s interim Prime Minister, Hazem Beblawi, defended yesterday’s crackdown, which left well over 600 dead and thousands more injured, saying it was necessary for stability, while the interior minister insisted (without evidence) that the protesters had “threatened national security, incited violence and tortured and killed people.” Beblawi also authorized the military to use deadly force to protect themselves and establishment structures, despite the fact that they were clearly already doing so.
In defiance of the government’s threats, supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood protested again today, but this time more violently. Protesters have stormed and torched at least two government buildings and nine Coptic Christian churches since Wednesday. Relatives of those killed yesterday gathered at mosques that served as makeshift morgues, where hundreds of bodies are piled up. The clear shots through the heads and necks of many of the dead suggest they were killed by snipers, not during clashes with the police. Snipers were also targeting those entering and leaving the mosque. Relatives had hoped to bury their loved ones today, but the Health Ministry has apparently been insisting that they accept death certificates that say the cause of death was suicide.
Despite the carnage, few Egyptians seem to feel sympathy for the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters, whom they believed pushed their Islamist agenda too far and would never settle for a nonviolent, political solution. It’s another bitter reminder, after the hope of the Arab Spring, that pro-democracy revolutions against dictators don’t necessarily lead to peace or democracy.
Bradley Manning Apologizes for Leaks that ‘Hurt the US’
The 25-year-old who faces up to 90 years in prison for releasing a trove of classified documents to Wikileaks took the stand yesterday to deliver an unsworn statement (meaning he could not be cross-examined). In it, he apologized for the “unintended consequences” of his actions, saying that while he understood what he was doing when he leaked the documents, he did not realize the broader effects the leaks would have. He explained, “when I made these decisions, I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people.”
He read the statement quickly and nervously, asking the judge for a chance to rebuild his life and “return to a productive place in society.” By far the saddest quote from Manning’s statement was the following: “how on earth could I… believe I could change the world for the better.”
Deadly Blast Near Hezbollah Complex in Beirut
A powerful car bomb ripped through a Beirut neighborhood near a complex used by Hezbollah, the Shia political party and armed group that has become increasingly involved in Syria’s civil war, on the side of President Bashar al-Assad. While Hezbollah seems to have been the target, the car was positioned between two apartment buildings in the densely-packed neighborhood. The explosion set buildings and cars on fire, sent columns of black smoke up into the air, killed at least 20, and injured over 200.
Hezbollah has been threatened with retaliation for their support of Assad’s regime in the civil war, and shortly after the attack, a previously unknown Syrian Sunni group claimed responsibility, saying “We… send a message to [Hezbollah chief] Hassan Nasrallah’s pigs.” When covering the rescue attempts, an anchor on Hezbollah’s TV station Al-Manar reported that Hezbollah was “paying the price for its position.”
This is the second such bombing in just over a month, a worrying sign that Lebanon is being pulled even further into Syria’s civil war.
Almost 1,500 South African Police Revealed To Be Convicted Criminals
Officials admitted today that some of South Africa’s highest-ranking police officers have been found guilty of serious offenses, including murder, attempted murder, culpable homicide, rape, attempted rape, assault, aiding an escapee, theft, housebreaking, drug trafficking, kidnapping, robbery, malicious damage to property and domestic violence. None has yet been fired.
South Africa’s police have a particularly bad reputation after the massacre of 34 striking miners one year ago in Marikana, the act that triggered the audit. None of those directly involved in the Marikana shootings have been arrested.
Only 306 of the officers covered in the report had been convicted before they joined the police – some even used false fingerprints to cheat the vetting procedure. The rest, even more damningly, had been convicted while actively serving to uphold the law. These numbers do not include the other 8,000 police officers who were excluded from the audit because they had either already been fired or their crimes were not considered serious. Opposition MPs condemned the findings, accusing the police of “serious mismanagement,” a huge understatement.
Protests in Bangladesh Turn Violent
On the second day of a nationwide general strike, activists supporting the major Islamist political party Jamaat-e-Islami clashed with police, leaving one person dead and about 20 injured. The protesters set off crude bombs, blocked roads and burned vehicles in their attempt to enforce the strike. At least 30 people were injured as homemade bombs went off in Dhaka and throughout the country.
Jamaat-e-Islami called the strike to denounce a court decision that its registration with the Election Commission is invalid because its regulations violate the constitutional provision of secularism.