Culture Wheel

Tucked under the 26th of October overpass in Zamalek, the El Sawy Cultural Wheel was a place you’d go to hear oud masters or poets or a strummy cover band playing “Hotel California”. Lately, its auditorium has become a forum for the various protest movements to meet, share platforms, communicate with the press, etc. Today at El Sawy I attended a session of the Coordination Committee for the Masses of the 25 January Revolution, the largest umbrella organization of protest groups. Several movement leaders delivered speeches addressing the recent (inadequate) cabinet shuffle & the unacceptable composition of the transitional leadership. One orator made it known that any individual who accepted a post in the transitional regime would be discredited in the eyes of the revolutionary youth. A bizarre twist is that Mohamed el-Sawy–the owner & director of the El Sawy Culture Wheel–was named yesterday as the new Minister of Culture…

Today’s meeting was not as packed as previous gatherings because protesters were back on the streets en masse on various fronts for various causes. In Tahrir, protesters demonstrated against the “new” cabinet appointments. (Yes, the Ministers of Tourism / Higher Education / Commerce / etc. have been swapped out, but the Prime Minister, Minister of Interior, and Minister of Defense have been retained—whatever happened to dismantling the police state?) In front of the Television Building (former Ministry of Information), a large crowd gathered to protest the retention of notorious puppets in the apparatus of the state propaganda machine (state owned newspapers, TV stations, radio channels—ugh, there are fewer things slimier on earth than slick assholes on TV going the extra all night mile to tell str8 up lies to discredit & endanger the protesters—e.g. false interviews with blurred out “protesters” “confessing” that they are actually Israeli agents—then the day after Mubarak falls announcing “congratulations, youth! we supported you all along! the most true patriots!”). The TV Building is perhaps the most heavily guarded in the city–even more than the presidential palace—a wall of tanks is positioned behind a hedgerow of razor wire. (I passed through this intimidating cordon this morning on my way to apply for press credentials. In the office that deals with foreign press, two kind ladies with librarian-mom-style jangly necklaces sat at desks astride a massive machine gun installation pointing out from their window. “Is it strange to have a machine gun next to your desk?” “Oh, you get used to it. It makes you feel safe.” I couldn’t tell if either of these statements were jokes.) And lastly, many protesters gathered all afternoon at the Libyan embassy.

Though it goes without saying, Fuck Qaddafi. At a minimum, I support any capable airforce disabling the Libyan airforce &/or its airfields. As it is the dark hobby of the United States to intervene in Mid East affairs, you’d think now would be a good chance to lift a finger.

Some snapshots from outside the embassy: (p.s. can you spot the Bob Marley quote? lol)


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