Orientalist propaganda/image-making by the Mubarak regime

Consider the recent violent image making by the Egyptian state in
its staging of counterinsurgency terror in mufti. I refer to the charging of
Liberation square in Cairo by thugs on horses  and camels, and by
vigilantes on foot armed with home made swords. 
This is deliberate Orientalist theater  orchestrated by the state to promote a picture of generalized anti- modern
anarchy for western media consumption.  These mounted and
pedestrian thugs are being imported from nearby rural areas, released from
prisons and recruited from security forces in civilian drag.  (The mounted
thugs are described by apologists for the state as disgruntled tour guides who
sell rides on camels and horses protesting their loss of income. But why
expose your  valuable mount to harm and injury by charging a crowd if these animals are a prime
source of income) .

 The current posture of
the army with their tanks, armored cars and water hoses as the placid
embodiment of modern techno-rationality is now clear–they are waiting for the  protests  to devolve into murky street fighting before intervening to
demobilize the democratic opposition if this does not previously occur on its own for fear of vigilante attacks.  The major ideological weakness of the protestors has been their belief that the military
is essentially a populist institution; this faith will be betrayed as was
already signaled by the jet planes that previously harried the protests.

Addendum: My experience work in Northern Ireland in the
1980s and South Africa in the 1990s, has taught me  that in situations of popular political
mobilization the repressive apparatus forges patron/client networks with local criminal
networks.

Related Posts

Interview: Richard Ledes on Haiti and Horror Movies   Introduction: Richard Ledes is an award-winning New York City-based filmmaker. His films include A Hole in One (2004) and The Caller (2008), which won Tribeca Film Festival's Made in New York award. His current project, Foreclosure, is a horror film about a broken family that struggles t...
Revolution in Ukraine: The View from Lviv   These photographs show the Euromaidan revolution in Ukraine from the perspective of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.  All photographs were made in Lviv between February 19-23, 2014.  The Euromaidan revolution began as a public protest in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, on November 21, 2013...
History is what the Present is made of   An Interview with Matthew Frye Jacobson     1. A Tense Moment of Hope and Danger   Michael Mandiberg: So tell us about the Historian's Eye project... Matthew Frye Jacobson: This started for me back in about 2007-2008. I was trying to think about different ways of getting intellectual work out ...
Photographing Disaster: Typhoon Yolanda On November 8, 2013, Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name “Haiyan”) made landfall in the Eastern Visayan Islands of the Philippines. With winds of up to 195 mph, it is regarded as the strongest tropical storm of all time. It killed over 7,000 people, left over 4,000,000 people homeless, or near...

Allen Feldman

Allen Feldman, a pioneer in the ethnography of violence, the body, and the senses, is the author of Archives of the Insensible: Of War, Photopolitics and Dead Memory (University of Chicago, 2015) and Formations of Violence: the Narrative of the Body and Political Terror in Northern Ireland (1991).