Khamis, 27 Januari 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

The Star Online: World Updates

Could Suez be Egypt's Sidi Bouzid?

Posted: 27 Jan 2011 07:20 AM PST

SUEZ, Egypt (Reuters) - Mosaics lining the road to Suez glorify Egypt's achievements in a 1973 war with Israel but, further on, toppled billboards, charred signposts and shattered glass stand as monuments to a more recent conflict.

The port city has jumped onto the world's radar as the scene of clashes between government forces and protesters demanding the removal of President Hosni Mubarak, a veteran of the war with Israel who has ruled Egypt for three decades.

The capital Cairo was mostly calm on Thursday morning, but in Suez police fired rubber bullets, water cannon and teargas at hundreds of demonstrators, according to witnesses.

Online activists have started calling Suez Egypt's Sidi Bouzid in a nod to the Tunisian city where protests began that toppled autocratic leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali 13 days ago.

Suez residents say they share many of the problems voiced by the Tunisian protesters -- high unemployment, rising prices, official corruption and widespread use of torture, and have taken inspiration from Tunisia's uprising.

As in Tunisia, a large portrait of the country's leader adorns a wall on the road into town. Mubarak's face is beaming and benevolent, his arms outstretched toward his people.

"Our government is a dictatorship. A total dictatorship," said Mohamed Fahim, a 29-year-old glass factory worker, as he stood near the charred skeleton of a car that he said was burned in the protests.

"It's our right to choose our government ourselves. We have been living 29 years, my whole life, without being able to choose a president."

"I've grown bald, and Mubarak has stayed Mubarak," he said, rubbing his bare scalp.

A group of about 20 people quickly gathered around him, shouting out their complaints.

"We can't find bread!" shouted one woman, who identified herself as a Christian.

Hundreds gathered outside a morgue in Suez on Wednesday demanding the body of one of three people killed in the first clashes on Tuesday. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets and chased the demonstrators into side streets.

After nightfall, protesters set a government building on fire in Suez and tried to burn down a local office of Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).

The fires were put out before they engulfed the buildings. The government raised security at key buildings and ordered that shops be closed after looting was reported.


The perception of government corruption is keen in the cities along the Suez Canal, a major source of government income.

People in Suez are well aware of the billions of dollars the canal earns for the country every year, and many complain the money does not translate into improved schools or more jobs.

Suez was caught up in three wars with Israel and people are also aware of the generous U.S. military aid which is seen as a major support for Mubarak's government.

"The youth have no jobs!" shouted a 64-year-old man.

"The companies don't have work for us!" yelled an 18-year-old girl wearing a headscarf.

One man beckoned for calm so a Reuters correspondent could write down their complaints.

"The basic problem of the people here is a social problem of the highest degree," Munir Salaama Ismail, an unemployed 50-year-old, said. The answer is for the system to change, and the choice should be left to the people."

Several people said firms in the city discriminated against locals, preferring to hire people from other governorates.

"In Suez we have, today, petrol companies..., we have factories, we have customs and we have the Suez Canal. And despite all of that, there is enormous unemployment in Suez," said 40-year-old local lawyer Kamal Hassan.

A 55-year-old man in glasses and a sweater who declined to be identified sat at the restaurant he ran downtown. He said he was born in Suez in 1956, the year of Egypt's Suez War with France, Britain and Israel.

He pulled an empty tear gas canister from the latest protests from his desk and held it up: "American," he said, smiling. "The Americans and Israelis are experts in destruction."

He said the tipping point came for many people in late November when the NDP secured a crushing victory in parliamentary elections denounced by rights and opposition groups as blatantly rigged, something the government denied.

"The people," he said, "are choking."

(Additional reporting by Yousri Mohamed; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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UK police arrest WikiLeaks backers for cyber attacks

Posted: 27 Jan 2011 07:20 AM PST

LONDON (Reuters) - British police arrested five young men on Thursday following an investigation into Internet activists who carried out cyber attacks against groups they viewed as enemies of the WikiLeaks website.

"The arrests were related to recent 'distributed denial of service' (DDoS) attacks by an online group calling themselves Anonymous," London police said in a statement.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange emerges to make a statement to the media at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in London January 11, 2011. (REUTERS/Andrew Winning)

Internet activists last month carried out a series of online assaults against institutions they viewed as enemies of WikiLeaks, temporarily bringing down the websites of credit-card giants Visa and MasterCard, and of the Swedish government.

Several companies ended services to WikiLeaks after it angered the U.S. authorities by publishing thousands of secret diplomatic reports. Sweden wants to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from Britain for questioning over sexual assault allegations.

Officers from a specialist London police unit dealing with online crime detained the five males, aged between 15 and 26, in raids at homes in central and southern England.

British police said they were working with counterparts in continental Europe and the United States in their investigation into Anonymous.

Dutch police last month arrested two teenagers suspected of involvement in the online campaign. They face trial later this year.

A DDoS attack consists of swamping the resources of a computer such as a server to make it unavailable to users.

The maximum penalty in Britain for offences of computer misuse is 10 years imprisonment and a fine of 5,000 pounds ($7,953).

(Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)

Copyright © 2008 Reuters

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