Posts Tagged ‘London riots’

An English Girl in England

Wannabe Egyptian, English girl – Samantha Brook, compares the recent protests in England, to those that took place in Egypt earlier this year.

Having just returned to the UK, after having taking part in the recent protests in Egypt, I was surprised to learn of riots taking place in my home country, within 10 days of my return. The riots began with a peaceful protest in Tottenham, after a 29 year old man was shot and killed by police. The peaceful protest soon became an excuse for many to commit acts of vandalism, violence and looting all over London, and later across the country.

As usual many people have had things to say about the riots via social networks such as Facebook and many are comparing the riots to those seen in January 2011 in Egypt.

One Egyptian man, Ibrahim Mohamed Moustafa’s, status read:

“When helpless security disappeared from London, opportunists possessed the worst possible traits, looting and vandalizing properties. When police deliberately fled Cairo in January, Egyptians formed human shields to protect their possessions themselves, teaching the world what dignity & patriotism really mean.
Egyptian, and PROUD.”

It is true that the protests in Egypt were predominantly peaceful and the little violence that occurred was mainly perpetrated by the regime, where as in Britain the violence has been carried out by the people.

While countries in the Middle East fight for democracy, the question has to be asked whether we truly have democracy in the west.

“Gordon Graham, Professor of Philosophy and the Arts at Princeton Theological Seminary, argues that democracy is overrated. “There is a relentlessness about the democratic process that eliminates all possibility of dissent despite the myth to the contrary.”” – BBC Radio 4, Iconoclasts.

Anglo-Egyptian, Sarah Carr, quotes Martin Luther King in her article, “Love me I’m a looter,”

“Martin Luther King said that a riot is the language of the unheard, but Ralph Waldo Emmerson said what you do speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying. The media is not even trying to listen.”

Are the riots currently seen in Britain just an excuse for youngsters to engage in acts of vandalism or is there more to it than that? Is the British government pulling the wool over our eyes? Is it just another government cover up? Earlier this year people in Egypt protested about the corruption and torture in their country, yet there is just as much corruption in this country and in the western world, it’s just better hidden and comes with a sugar coating.

In her Guardian article, “Please Britain, don’t let Mubarak inspire your response to unrest,” Mona Eltahawy, another Anglo-Egyptian, writes,

“It’s not the riots that remind me of the Egyptian uprising – it’s the disdain for civil liberties that leaders in both countries show.”

ElTahawy comments that while many were comparing the fact that in Egypt most of the violence came from the regime, and the protesters were mainly peaceful, some are trying to understand the viewpoint of the rioters and appreciate the reasons behind it.

While British youths have a lot to be thankful for compared to youths in Egypt and in other developing or third world countries, they still have grievances that need to be addressed.

Eltahawy points out the irony of British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who earlier this year criticized Mubarak for using measures such as water cannons, calling in the army and shutting down social media and this week has been talking about using such measures himself.

She concludes her article with this advice to the British protesters,

“Don’t loot, don’t burn. Burn instead with moral indignation that your government could seriously consider measures that we rose up against and continue to fight in Egypt. We’re [Egypt] enjoying being the positive role model because, as blogger Wael Abbas said on Twitter recently, “Tahrir isn’t a place, it’s a state of mind”.”

In both England and Egypt, it seems that the gap between the rich and the poor grows ever wider. In Egypt 40% of people live beneath the poverty gap, earning less than the equivalent of 30GBP per month and have families to support, and there is no such thing as unemployment benefit in Egypt. Here in the UK, a single unemployed person will receive over 1000GBP per month in benefits from the government, over 30 times more than the average working Egyptian, supporting a family.

But what chance do the unemployed British youth have? Many of them have been brought up by a parent or parents and grandparents that have been unemployed and may have been criminals and or drug users. A lot of these kids don’t know any different.

An article on the BBC website quotes former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, saying,

“”The truth is that many of these people are from families that are profoundly dysfunctional, operating on completely different terms from the rest of society, either middle class or poor.”

Maybe the British government could consider building a sustainable future for these kids, rather than giving them handouts. The British could learn from Egyptian NGO, Alashanek ya Balady (AYB). AYB is an association for sustainable development and they provide training and jobs for poor people, as well loans and support for budding entrepreneurs.

I suggest that the government consider such measures as an alternative or addition to benefits and also start listening to the grievances of people. As for the youth, whilst I agree that violence and vandalism are never justified, do certain pockets of people in Britain have legitimate cause for complaint? Has anyone listened to their point of view or are these youths considered too ignorant? In Egypt the people had legitimate reasons for calling the downfall of Mubarak and they achieved this with predominantly peaceful protests. If the youth do have legitimate cause for complaint I urge them to learn from the Egyptians.