The Obama administration has hovered on a knife’s edge while hundreds of thousands of people have demonstrated against their autocratic President, Hosni Mubarak, in Cairo, Alexandria, and across Egypt. The choice was obvious long ago–the United States must stand for democracy and human rights–but now that Mubarak has sent his murderous thugs into Tahrir Square, we call for Mubarak must go! We must call for it immediately. The longer we stand on the side of thuggery, the less credible our rhetoric of “freedom for all” will be. Will we enforce “democracy” with gasoline bombs and bullies? Or will we support the people who want to choose their own leaders?
The New York Times reports,
The deployment of plainclothes forces paid by Mr. Mubarak’s ruling party — men known here as baltageya — has been a hallmark of the Mubarak government, and there were many signs that the violence was carefully choreographed.
The anti-Mubarak demonstrators had organized themselves to try to avoid violence. Men held hands in long chains to keep the two groups apart. Others, with effusive apologies, searched those entering the square for weapons. Some stepped in with whistles to break up arguments that had started to grow heated.
Several people interviewed independently said that ruling party operatives had offered them 50 Egyptian pounds, less than $10, if they agreed to demonstrate in the square on Mr. Mubarak’s behalf. “Fifty pounds for my country!” said Yasmina Salah, 29.