Why Did Mubarak's Thugs Ride In On Camels? → Washingtons Blog
Why Did Mubarak's Thugs Ride In On Camels? - Washingtons Blog

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Why Did Mubarak's Thugs Ride In On Camels?

The photos of Mubarak's thugs riding in on camels to attack the peaceful protesters with whips is getting worldwide attention:

As CNN notes:

All at once, about 50 or 60 people carrying clubs and riding horses and camels charged into the square, beating some protesters. At least one man was pulled off his horse and beaten.

As a FoxNews blogger writes:

Just seen guys racing in on camels into Tahrir square to join the protests. Amazing sight.

But the situation is getting very tense. Aggressive pro-Mubarak supporters, some seemingly organized by the government, are driving into the square and coming face-to-face with angry anti-regime protesters.

The pro-government groups are much smaller than those calling for change, who gather in large clusters of 500 or more and then stream endlessly into the square.
Given that a CNN news crew was attacked, and Anderson Cooper was punched in the head 10 times by pro-Mubarak forces (and see this), and that the pro-Mubarak forces are attacking Al Jazeera and Al-Arabiya reporters as well, it is safe to say that the anti-democracy thugs were not trying to be subtle.

Instead, it is obvious that they were trying to make a statement.

The statement is that there will be chaos unless the protesters go home and agree to let Mubarak stay in power, at least until September's elections.

As the New York Times' Nicholas Kristof writes today:
It is absurd to think of this as simply “clashes” between two rival groups. The pro-democracy protesters are unarmed and have been peaceful at every step. But the pro-Mubarak thugs are arriving in buses and are armed — and they’re using their weapons.

In my area of Tahrir, the thugs were armed with machetes, straight razors, clubs and stones. And they all had the same chants, the same slogans and the same hostility to journalists. They clearly had been organized and briefed. So the idea that this is some spontaneous outpouring of pro-Mubarak supporters, both in Cairo and in Alexandria, who happen to end up clashing with other side — that is preposterous. It’s difficult to know what is happening, and I’m only one observer, but to me these seem to be organized thugs sent in to crack heads, chase out journalists, intimidate the pro-democracy forces and perhaps create a pretext for an even harsher crackdown.

I have no idea whether this tactic will work. But the idea that President Mubarak should make the case that he is necessary for Egypt’s stability by unleashing violence and chaos on his nation’s youth — it’s a sad and shameful end to his career.

Indeed, the guy riding on a camel has a very Arab-looking headscarf, and a wildly bright and eye-catching orange camel blanket.

That's a "look at me" get-up if there ever was one.

But why camels - a uniquely Arab symbol? And why such blatantly Arab looking head-covering?

Well, pictures of millions of peaceful protesters wearing largely Western clothing is a universal image of people power.

Mubarak and his backers couldn't have that, could they?

Instead, most Western media is now showing the camel shots and saying "Pro- and Anti-Mubarak forces clash", without providing any explanation that the pro-Mubark forces did all of the attacking.

Moreover, many consumers of Western news will see the camel pictures and think to themselves:
There go those camel jockeys again.
("Camel jockey" is a racist slur for Arabs used by Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and their ilk.)

In other words, people who get their news from Limbaugh, Coulter, Fox News and the like will see the pictures and decide that the entire Egyptian struggle for freedom can be written off as dusky Arabs fighting other dusky Arabs.

Maybe I'm taking it too far. Maybe there wasn't a decision to use propaganda in such a scripted manner.

But - at the very least - it is important to understand how these images will be interpreted by many busy people in the West who have no time to learn the facts.


  1. We all know the canadian mounties have a nationalistic attraction, the mounted police use horses and the added height to overwhelm crowds, both for visibility and for manpower leverage, 100 to one .
    What paid yahoo/jailbreak/thug wouldnt jump at such an opportunity, to whip and pummel innocents,...
    Whatever , it shows the character of Mubaraks supporters, might we respectfully call them brutal and barbarous? Woe to citizens of any country facing such malevolent governmental supporters.

  2. I thought they rode horses and camels because it was fun to do - it asserts the class position that one is "above" the masses - they were also using whips - it is a cavalier attitude

    beasts of burden represent Tradition - order - respect for authority

    I doubt that they even know that "camel jockey" is intended as pejorative, and I further doubt that the viewers of Fox News are their intended audience

  3. You are thinking too much about that single guy in the camel with "Arab headdress" (kiffiyeh). It's obvious that the police has been recruiting lumpenproletarian thugs from prisons (now empty) and rural areas and this particular individual seems of the second category. This is the only one person riding a camel in all the thug squad (I saw several on horse but only one on a camel). I also saw one with a sword, so?

    It's not any sort of "Arab" vs. "Western" statement but just of which kind of marginal individuals the secret services have been able to recruit for this kind of junk "stormtroopers".

    IMO it's a statement of how weak is Mubarak because I am watching the "fights" online at Al Jazeera and I'm astonished that the thugs have not been able to even make a single breach in all day.

    IMO tomorrow there will be a coup and Mubarak will be packed in a plane to Saudi Arabia or Israel. Because this is becoming a matter of dignity for the generals... and colonels (colonels are the ones who make the coups in most cases).

    The only thing that has kept Mubarak for so long is Israeli (and US) panic. But that's simply not enough to keep him in power.

  4. this program brought to you courtesy of your US taxpayer dollars.

  5. Hi GW,

    Thank you for this post. I read it at ZH but wasn't sure if you would read my comment based on the amount of lame posts and junks. I encourage you to check out the account from Robert Fisk from a local radio show (starts at about 17:30): http://kpfa.org/archive/id/67280

  6. The street fighting coming as it did the day after Mubarek tried to sell himself as the only man who could guarantee peace and stability makes it a slam dunk that everything about the day's event was a mere propaganda campaign. It plays into western stereotypes, frightens the Egyptians and gives the MSM a shiny object with which to distract the public.

  7. I don't wanna be uc but Mubarak only knows barbarity. He misuse people. Even animals. Jerk.


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