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ARABICA - A Daily Shot Of What the Arab World is Saying/Hearing/Sharing
Kristen Gillespie


A R A B I C A
ارابيكا


THUG BACKLASH
*Thugs stormed the Helwan metro station in an attempt to rob the cashier but were thwarted by citizens, Egyptian news site Musrawi.com reported. The word "thug" has a particular meaning in Arabic. In Egypt, the word is "bultigiya." In Syrian, they are called "shabiha." Thugs in the Arab world are goons in the service of the authorities, in particular, the Interior Ministries around the region. Dressed in civilian clothes and virtually unaccountable for their actions, thugs are henchmen used to create plausible deniability. Arab authorities deny the thugs are attached to them as they wreak havoc at protests and elsewhere.

But in Egypt, the thugs went too far during the now infamous Feb. 2 "Battle of the Camel," perhaps a misnomer because there wasn't much of a battle when the camel-riding attackers targeted unarmed civilians in the streets, killing several. The topic of thugs, rarely if ever discussed publicly before, exploded in the Arab media and on social-networking sites. After days of protests around the country, Egyptian authorities arrested the thugs involved in the "battle" and put them on trial. And so when a band of thugs burst into the Helwan station, something entirely different happened: People took action to stop them. The thugs roughed up people in the station as others went for the cash register. Usually, they do their work unchallenged. While some fled as subway workers tried to catch them, others were stopped and taken off by the police. A security source admitted the group was part of the security services, but denied the account of the eyewitnesses.

CORRUPTION PROBES
*The business of Egypt's revolution is hardly over, as protests continue almost daily to demand the military leadership accelerate the pace of reforms and prosecute those accused of police brutality, including Mubarak-era officials. One of the most powerful figures under Mubarak, then-Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, has been ordered into detention for 15 days while judicial officials investigate his business activities. Nazif allegedly sold public land for private gain, netting himself $10 million in profit on one deal alone for land in Luxor. With the cooperation of the then-governor, a businessman named Samir Farag, Nazif is accused of selling the land to an investor and pocketing most of the profits.

RAMADAN PLANS
*The Syrian Revolution facebook group is asking for suggestions for Ramadan, the month of fasting that will begin on August 1st. Within one hour, 245 commenters submitted their thoughts. Proposals include public prayers outdoors followed by demonstrations and early-morning protests following the dawn prayers.

July 25, 2011

photo credit: illustir

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