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"Protesters" who burn buildings, and other deceptions

analysis of a Time magazine article on a Cairo street debate, with an Emperor's Clothes exclusive report revealing the destruction of Egypt's National Council for Women

by Jared Israel
Edited by Samantha Criscione

Research on the destruction of the National Council for Women by Samantha Criscione

[Posted April 7, 2011]


Table of Contents

I. "Protesters" with military weapons?  A note on terminology as deception

II. The burning of Egypt's National Council for Women

III. Shameful behavior of top U.N. officials

IV. Thoughts on "A Cairo Street Debate," or, Time magazine inadvertently tells the truth

V. Appendix: "Cairo Street Debate: When Mubarak Foes and Backers Clash," by Rania Abouzeid, Time, January 31, 2011


I. "Protesters" with military weapons?
A note on terminology as deception


Before I get to my critique of the Time magazine article, followed by the full text of that article, let me explain why in my comments I use the term "so-called protesters."

All media reports (including the Time piece) have referred to anti-government forces in Egypt as the "demonstrators" or "protesters." In my view, that abuses the language and legitimizes the gangsterization of dissent. [1]

It does so by stretching the traditional use of the term "protest" beyond all recognition, thereby trivializing the criminal acts and disguising the political character of the Egyptian anti-government forces. 

After January 25, 2011, and especially but not only from January 27 to 31, those forces engaged in a campaign of military-level destruction, which could be described as insurrection or (and I think more accurately) arson and terror, attacking residential, social and governmental targets all over Egypt and freeing thousands of inmates from prisons -- terrorists and ordinary criminals alike -- conducting these operations using fire bombs, rocket-propelled grenades, high-power explosives and other serious weapons.


II. The burning of Egypt's National Council for Women


Of the many structures that the "protesters" destroyed, the largest was the Cairo building of the National Council for Women, which had spearheaded the Egyptian government's campaign for women's rights, thus making it a prime target for the so-called "protesters."

While many English-language media reported that "protesters" or "angry protesters" had deliberately wrecked, burned and pillaged the building, none of the English-language media reported that said "protesters" had attacked the building of the National Council for Women. (Only one English-language newspaper did imply that "protesters" had burned the Council, and that newspaper was, of all places, in South China [2].) 

How can that be?  It can be because, remarkably, media sources ran pictures of the burned building but misidentified it!  For example, MSNBC ran the following picture from the European Photopress Agency (EPA) --
For a larger-size version of the above photo, go to

This photo is copyright Hannibal Hanschke/European Photopress Agency (EPA) 2011.  It is reproduced here for educational purposes, for Fair Use Only.

-- with this caption:

"Onlookers visit the looted and burned out headquarter of the National Democratic Party, the governing party of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, in Cairo, on Saturday, January 29, 2011." [3]  
[My emphasis -- J.I.] 

MSNBC and the EPA were perfectly aware that in fact this was not the National Democratic Party but the National Council for Women because the name is engraved on the building's architrave, as shown in the enlarged detail below:

News photo services send their images to the media in high resolution and large size. The detail above is taken from the EPA photo as posted online on MSNBC, where it is 900 pixels wide.  We enlarged it 163%.  In enlarging it, we lost resolution.  However, the photo as sent around by EPA, that is, as received by MSNBC and all other mass media outlets, is 2000 pixels in width
[4or 1.36 times as large as the detail above, and high resolution as well, not the fuzzy resolution resulting from our enlargement.

Thus news editors all over the world knew that the Council had been attacked and burned, but according to the Lexis-Nexis news archive none mentioned this destruction in a news report, let alone an editorial, except the South China News, which mentioned it as a bit of trivia in passing (see footnote [2]). Not to mention that the South China News can only be accessed by paid subscribers or those using paid services like Lexis-Nexis.

The point is, the media knew; they kept the news from the people; and they falsely identified the building as Mubarak's party headquarters, lending seeming justification to the idea that this was a rebellion by people fed up with autocratic rule.

Below is another EPA picture taken on January 29, 2011, many hours after the attack on the Council.  (The fire burned for several days, with no effort to put it out.)

This photo is copyright Hannibal Hanschke/European Photopress Agency (EPA) 2011.  It is reproduced here for educational purposes, for Fair Use Only.

Here is the EPA caption with the usual false identification:

"Smoke emanates from the burned headquarter building of the 'National Democratic Party', the governing party of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, in Cairo, Egypt, 29 January 2011. Protest demonstrations continued in central Cairo after the government-ordered overnight curfew expired, with the military taking charge of security after Fridays violence. While the atmosphere was still described as tense, the streets were calm as the Egyptian military were seen taking a non-aggressive posture as they kept watch, eyewitnesses said."
[My emphasis -- J.I.]

They "kept watch"? "Non-aggressive posture" indeed! Terror made possible by treachery would be more accurate. 

According to the official American Forces Press Service, Lt. Gen. Sami Enan, chief of staff of the Egyptian military, was in Washington meeting with U.S. military leaders when the Egyptian so-called "revolution" was launched. Flying home immediately, he effectively continued meeting regularly by phone with Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. [6]

American Forces Press Service dispatches give the distinct impression that Admiral Mullen was directing General Enan's actions, as if Enan was a top subordinate, with the U.S. ready to intervene directly should the military fall out of Western control. Thus Mullen said during an interview on the 'Daily Show':

" 'that we’ve got our military ready, should any kind of response or support be required,' he said. 'That isn’t the case right now, but I’m very focused on that.' "
[My emphasis -- J.I.]
-- American Forces Press Service, February 4, 2011

Which raises two questions:

Question 1: Egyptian sovereignty?  What sovereignty?

Question 2: What was the case, such that the U.S. "ready" military did not need to take direct action? Mullen made that clear when he told an armed forces podcast on January 31 (while the fires were still burning in the National Council for Women and many other buildings):

" 'So far, the Egyptian military have handled themselves exceptionally well,' he said. [A gold star for the Egyptian military; three gold stars and they get a cookie. -- J.I.] 'You can see that just from the pictures that have been displayed, in terms of how they have been accepted by their people.' "
-- American Forces Press Service, January 31, 2011

Mullen was of course talking about "their people" in Tahrir Square, seen in numerous photographs and videos fraternizing with soldiers.  Is it now U.S. military doctrine that when prisons are being blown up and buildings burned down -- a veritable reign of terror -- the proper measure of a military is whether they are "accepted" by the forces doing the blowing up and burning down? Accepted because they do not take the steps necessary to crush said terror? Because terror = democracy? The answer to all the above is: it is indeed U.S. military doctrine when the U.S. and other Western powers are sponsoring the forces carrying out the terror.

If Western establishments did not sponsor the Egyptian so-called "revolution," why is it that no Western politician (e.g., Obama, Cameron, Clinton, Sarkozy, Merkel, the EU's Ashton, etc.) ever mentioned let alone expressed outrage over the destruction by the "protesters" of the National Council for Women, the main government agency devoted to fighting for Egyptian women's rights?  Can anyone suggest a reason for their silence other than a desire by Western leaders to fool ordinary people about the nature of the "protesters," presenting fanatics -- who other than fanatics would want to destroy Egypt's National Council for Women? -- as tolerant Facebook democracy-lovers?


III. Shameful behavior of top U.N. officials


In December 2010, Philippe Duamelle, the UNICEF representative in Egypt, lauded the National Council for Women as "one of UNICEF's most important development partners." [9]  In 2007, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) published a report assessing progress towards its goal of  "increased awareness on participation of women in society."  The report stated that:

"The most important underlying factor that has affected the status of the outcome [i.e., "increased awareness on participation of women in society" -- J.I.], positively, was the establishment in 2000 of the National Council for Women (NCW). Established by presidential decree and headed by the First Lady, NCW possesses the necessary leverage that has helped getting things done, especially at policy and legislative levels. However, such high level political commitment is opposed by deeply rooted patriarchal norms as well as by relatively recent radical movements in the society that have started to hinder progress with regards to women’s status and progress, especially in the political domain."
[My emphasis - J.I.]
UNDP, "Increased awareness on participation of women in society," Outcome Evaluation Report 2002-2006 [10]  

On February 2, 2011, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon went out of his way -- all the way to the U.K., to be precise -- in order to publicly ally himself with U.K. Prime Minister Cameron in blaming the fighting between political opponents in Tahrir Square on the Egyptian government, and in demanding immediate "reform," meaning the destruction of said government. [11] One can judge the sincerity of Ban Ki-moon's claimed concern about violence by the fact that neither he nor any other U.N. official, including any from UNICEF or the U.N. Development Programme, uttered so much as a peep about the destruction of the Council for Women, "one of UNICEF's most important development partners."

For the media to call the people who went from room to room and floor to floor, burning books, documents, furniture and the interior walls, and smashing windows and computers and other equipment in the National Council for Women building, not to mention undoubtedly attacking and perhaps killing any employees caught working in the building -- to call such people "protesters" is a nightmare worthy of Orwell's 1984. 

However, one does have to call them something.  'Arsonists' and 'terrorists' would be appropriate, but preferring when possible to understate, I use the phrases 'anti-Mubarak forces,' 'anti-government forces,' and, by way of challenging the media's mis-use of language, "protesters," (the quotation marks are my protest), or 'so-called "protesters".' I welcome suggestions.


IV. Thoughts on Time magazine's "Cairo Street Debate"


The Time article "Cairo Street Debate: When Mubarak Foes and Backers Clash," posted in full below, is hostile to the people it calls "Mubarak backers," that is, to people who may in fact have varying attitudes toward Mubarak but are united in opposing the goals and actions of the anti-government so-called "protesters," which they consider destructive.

Thus when "several hundred" of the "protesters" (that's Time's estimate) on their way to Tahrir Square stop and prostrate themselves in the middle of a busy Cairo street in prayer, and a passerby reportedly cries, "The country is going to go to them!" and "It will be the end of our Egypt," Time remarks disapprovingly that this passerby is:

"implying that the act of praying designated the men as Islamists."
[My emphasis -- J.I.] 

This is dishonest editorializing, and it reveals Times' bias.

The passerby did not "designat[e] the men as Islamists" (by which we mean advocates of the Islamic version of clerical fascism, which derives much of its political orientation from the European clerical fascism of the 1930s) because of "the act of praying."  First of all, as stated in the article, it was not the passerby but Time's own writer who used the word "Islamists." Second, the passerby was not upset because they were praying.  He was upset because, as part of a political demonstration, hundreds of them had prostrated themselves in prayer in formation -- very much like a military unit -- in the middle of a busy street.  Taking possession of the street for Allah, as it were, as His worldly representatives.

(C) AP/Ahmed Ali, 2011.  Posted here for educational purposes, for Fair Use Only.

Now, either most people in Egypt do prostrate themselves in prayer in groups of hundreds in military formation in the middle of busy streets -- including during political demonstrations! -- or such actions are the province of a particular religious-political element.

A) Since the passerby who cried out was an Egyptian who therefore presumably would know whether this act was typical Egyptian behavior or the province of a threatening faction, whom the passerby refers to as "them";

B) Since, if it were an act typical of Egyptians as a whole, he would have no reason to cry, "The country is going to go to them," because the people prostrated in prayer would not by their actions have indicated any particular "them" to which the country might be "going";

C) Therefore the fact that this gentleman did cry out indicates that by prostrating themselves in military formation in a busy street in prayer these hundreds of "protesters" marked themselves as members of a particular faction (i.e., "them"), giving the passerby every reason to say, in horror, "The country is going to go to them" and "It will be the end of our Egypt." 

Or look at it this way: according to Time, the passerby did not mention the word "Islamists" but only said, "The country is going to go to them." Therefore, on what basis did the Time writer conclude that the passerby thought the praying men were "Islamists"?  By assuming that when he said, "The country is going to go to them," the passerby meant, "The country is going to go to the Islamists," the Time reporter was unwittingly confirming the very conclusion she belittled: that, yes indeed, the act of praying in military formation on an Egyptian street "designated the men as Islamists."

Keeping in mind that the Time writer is hostile to the so-called "Mubarak supporters," which hostility informs her descriptions, nevertheless the debate, although filtered through Time's bias, is revealing, if only because it shows that random passersby were sufficiently upset with the so-called "protesters" to take a serious risk.

What risk?

In the Time article, one of the passersby says, "Look at the looting, look at the burned buildings!"

Passersby would of course be aware that it was the "protesters," so-called, who must have burned those buildings, meaning that these hundreds of men, fanatical enough to prostrate themselves in prayer in military-like formation in a busy street, would be perceived as quite dangerous.  Absent strong feelings, passersby would not engage "several hundred" such "protesters" in passionate debate. (Indeed, absent strong feelings, would you?)

Conclusion: there was and undoubtedly still is so much rank-and-file opposition among ordinary Egyptians to the so-called "protesters" that, in a random group of passersby, a significant number were willing to risk possible physical attack in order to take the so-called "protesters" to task. 

Therefore, despite Time's bias, which may well mean that the writer has presented the anti-"protester" arguments incompletely and in distorted fashion, and which may explain Time's claim that the "woman in a brown abaya, hijab and gloves," who appears at the end, succeeded in 'calming down' (Time's words) everyone who objected to the anti-Mubarak forces blowup up and burning down buildings (e.g., private residences, hospitals, libraries, shopping centers, police and fire stations, jails, the National Council for Women) by making the ludicrous statement --

" 'So what? We will clean it [all -- J.I.] up and rebuild it,' she responded. 'What are you getting so angry about?' "
[My emphasis -- J.I.]

-- which sounds like something Judy Tenuta might say in her comedy routine [12] -- despite all that, the article is useful in presenting evidence that a large section of the population was and is opposed to the Western-promoted destruction of Egypt's government.

The Time piece is posted in full below.

-- Jared Israel
Emperor's Clothes


V. Appendix

[Time article
"Cairo Street Debate" starts here]

"Cairo Street Debate: When Mubarak Foes and Backers Clash,"
by Rania Abouzeid / Cairo/ January 31, 2011,8599,2045278,00.html

(C) 2011 Time Inc.  Reproduced here for educational purposes, for Fair Use Only.

It was almost midday, and a group of several hundred men paused in front of Cairo's 6 October Bridge, where four sand-colored Egyptian army tanks blocked the group's route to Tahrir Square, the focal point of the antigovernment protests. The men turned away from the Nile River to face Mecca, and a cleric led them in prayer.

Some passersby stopped to watch; several others were intent on heckling those prostrated in prayer.

"The country is going to go to them!" a man with a gray mustache screamed, implying that the act of praying designated the men as Islamists. "It's going to go to them! It will be the end of our Egypt!"

"Have some respect while people are praying," a young female in a hijab told him.

"Hosni Mubarak, Hosni Mubarak," another man chanted, expressing his support for the beleaguered Egyptian President.

The men continued their prayers, oblivious to the attempts to distract them. Minutes later, they were back on their feet, arguing with what had become a small pro-Mubarak contingent.

A young man in a black corduroy jacket pushed his way through the crowd toward the anti-Mubarak group. "Nobody understands anything. The country will fall if Mubarak falls," he said.

"Why should it fall? What did he do for you or me except terrorize us with his police force?" replied another man. A dozen or so soldiers looked on as the two men continued to scream at each other. They were practically nose to nose, spittle flying as their voices rose in tandem with the tension.

"Why won't he leave? Just tell me that. He's 82 years old. Why is he still clinging to power? Hasn't he had enough of it?" someone asked.

"Who will replace him if he does?" the man in the corduroy jacket countered.

"Any dog would be better than him," a voice in the crowd interjected.

"Really?" screamed a woman in a burgundy abaya and black hijab. "God damn you all, you stupid people. We'll all starve in less than a week if Mubarak goes. He is stable. We will be at each other's throats if he leaves."

The threat of starvation is a common claim by Mubarak supporters in these days of turmoil, though food supplies appear steady at the moment. Several local store owners interviewed by TIME say there hasn't been a mad rush for supplies, though people appear to be buying in larger quantities. On Monday, Jan. 31, schools, banks and other institutions remained closed. The Egyptian opposition has called for a "million man march" in Cairo on Tuesday, a week after the countrywide protests began. Although police have returned to the posts they abandoned en masse several days ago, little else has returned to normal in this ancient city.

Monday's spontaneous exchange at the bridge between Mubarak supporters and opponents offered a glimpse of the schisms dividing this country of more than 80 million, the Arab world's most populous.

A young man who had been standing off to the side listening to the melee suddenly stood on the fence separating the Nile from the street and unfurled a handwritten banner that read "I hate ElBaradei," referring to the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who has become the most visible leader in the protest movement.

"Get down, get down," the anti-Mubarak crowd chanted at him. A teenage boy tried to snatch the banner from the young man's hand, almost knocking him off his perch and into the Nile. Several soldiers stepped in to ensure the young man's safety. They asked him to step down, and he obliged. "We don't want any provocations, please," a soldier told him.

The cacophony of angry voices was on the rise. The arguments were getting heated.

"You just want Mubarak gone, but you're not thinking about what happens after," a tall man in a denim jacket shouted.

"We just want our dignity, that's all," somebody responded.

"Can't you see that you're only serving to weaken Egypt, and that's what our enemies want?"

"What enemies? My biggest enemy is Mubarak. He's my oppressor. He's the one who has ruined my future."

A woman in a brown abaya, hijab and gloves proceeded forward. "What are you all arguing about?" she said, speaking to both groups. "Why don't you all think about working together for Egypt? Egypt --- that's what you should all be saying, not screaming at each other."

"Look at it --- look at the looting, look at the burned buildings," a Mubarak supporter told her.

"So what? We will clean it up and rebuild it," she responded. "What are you getting so angry about? The President will not stay forever."

The woman seemed to calm everyone down. Some 30 minutes after the fracas began, it was over. The anti-Mubarak crowd began to move on. "To Tahrir, to Tahrir," several of them shouted, urging their group forward to its original destination. The pro-Mubarak crowd also dissipated, though several remained engaged in fierce debate with the protesters. "Come on, let's go to Tahrir," a man said as he dragged his friend away. "Don't pay any more attention to these people. Their time is over."

[Time article "Cairo Street Debate" ends here]


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Footnotes and Further Reading


[1] The "gangsterization of dissent" was promoted from 1969 through the 1980s by violent provocateur groups on both sides of the Atlantic, such as the Weathermen, the Black Panthers and the Black Liberation Army in the U.S., the Red Army Faction in Germany and the Red Brigades in Italy.  TENC has published a partly completed series on resurrected Weatherman leaders Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn and their relations with Obama, which also deals with the Black Liberation Army.

The published articles are:

Part 1: Bill Ayers: The Provocateur Exhumed

Part 2: Obama’s "I-was-only-8" Lie

Part 3: Obama Forgets the Early ’80s 

Part 4: A Weatherman Dream in New York

A Nightmare of Human Potential
Reply to Bill Ayers' New York Times Editorial

What is remarkable about the current period is that the media as a whole whitewashes gangster-type political action with terms like "protester," "demonstrator," "militant" and "activist."

[2] "Locals, tourists and soldiers mingle amid the tanks and burnt-out cars," by Maggie Ng, South China Morning Post, January 30, 2011 Sunday,

Here is an excerpt:

"Travelling on the overhead highway into the city, I could see smoke rising from the National Council for Women building opposite the Ramses Hilton by the Nile. Dozens of protesters were chanting outside, as tourists looked on.

"Flames could be seen through some of the shattered windows of nearby government buildings, but no one seemed to be putting the fires out. Occasional fireballs shooting out of the windows did not stop onlookers gathering nearby."

[3]  "Demonstrators in Egypt pose on burned vehicles and atop Army tanks in Cairo," MSNBC PhotoBlog, January 29, 2011

[4] EPA image number 00000402554968

[5] Posted on the website Emirates 24/7 at

[6]  Mullen Reiterates Confidence in Egyptian Military
by Karen Parrish, American Forces Press Service,
Washington, Feb. 2, 2011

[7] Mullen Discusses Egypt, Other Topics on ‘Daily Show’
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2011 –

[8] "Mullen: Egypt’s Military Promises to be Stabilizing Influence,"
By Karen Parrish and Jim Garamone, January 31, 2011
American Forces Press Service 

[9] "UNICEF representative lauds role of NCW for women’s empowerment," Egyptian State Information Service (SIS), Friday, 03 December 2010, at

Given the content of this report, the post-"revolution" Egyptian SIS may remove it. Therefore we have made a screenshot.  Below is the reduced-size version.  You can access the full-page version here.

[10] United Nations Development Programme, Office of the Resident Representative, " 'Increased awareness on participation of women in society.' A NCW-UNDP joint Initiative." Outcome Evaluation Report, UNDP Multi-Year Funding Framework (MYFF) for Egypt, 2002-2006: Outcome 5, August 2007, page 4.
This report can be downloaded as MS Word document at

The author wishes to thank Angie D. for providing this important document.

[11] "Ban Ki-moon Condemns Egypt Violence," Voice of America, by Selah Hennessy, London, February 02, 2011

[12] Judy Tenuta, "Women of the Night," Part 2

The gag I am thinking of is at the beginning of Part Two of Ms. Tenuta's comedy routine, linked above, a wonderful sequence in which she takes her brother Bosco to task for burning down the family home. (I won't spoil Judy Tenuta's joke by giving away her punchline.)  Ms. Tenuta's gag does not involve the same argument as the "woman in a brown abaya, hijab and gloves," as quoted by Time, but both Tenuta and Time (by claiming that the woman's reported statement 'calmed' everyone down) trivialize extreme acts of destruction, achieving a similar level of absurdity.  Actually, given the scale of destruction, Time's gag far outdoes Tenuta's in the extent of its absurdity.  Perhaps Ms. Tenuta is in the wrong business? No, I don't think so.  I think Time is.

This is Jared Israel, and you may quote me.


You may send this article or the link to any person or Internet list.  You may post any TENC article on the Internet as long as you cite Emperor's Clothes as the source, credit the author(s), and state the URL, which in this case is

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