In Egypt, the secret police are ubiquitous and they make a point of not being all that secret. … In functioning Egyptian society, you come across stories constantly of people beaten and harassed by the police for everything from political activism, to being gay, to smoking marijuana, to being from the wrong class in the eyes of a policeman, and they have untrammeled authority. Part of their daily goal has been to remind the people that the police have complete power over their lives and are ready and willing to use any brutality necessary to keep order.
— Journalist Thanassis Cambanis, on the power of Egypt’s secret police force, on Fresh Air.
Everything that the experts say and everything that the activists and politicians have taken for granted for a generation, at least, is really off the table. What’s been happening, first in Lebanon and then in Tunisia and now in Egypt and who knows further afield, suggests that new forces have been unleashed and we have no idea where they might lead and what new dynamics they might create.
— Veteran Middle East correspondent Thanassis Cambanis, on how no one really knows what’s going to happen in the Middle East, in a wide-ranging discussion today on Fresh Air about the future of Egypt, Hezbollah, and relations with Israel.
We still don’t have a full picture of exactly what’s happening now in Egypt. We don’t know what’s happening inside the military and inside the top levels of the regime. We don’t know exactly what kind of schemes the police have implemented, although there’s evidence of undercover cops looting and trying to provoke chaos. We don’t know how motivated the protesters are to organize for the long term – although we do know their actions until now have defied almost all expert predictions. We don’t know how many people have been killed and arrested. And we hardly know what’s happened beyond Cairo and Alexandria. We don’t know how it will all turn out.
— Tomorrow’s Guest, journalist Thanassis Cambanis, on why you should be wary of those claiming to know what’s going on inside Egypt.
Tens of thousands of protesters in Cairo stoned and confronted police, who fired back with rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons, in a major escalation of challenges to authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak’s 30 year-rule. TV stations also reported clashes between protesters and police in other major cities.