In Egypt, Images From American Protests Evoke a Lost Revolution


Yet one striking parallel lies in the reaction of President Trump, an American leader who frequently has praised Egypt’s current authoritarian leader, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi — even jokingly calling him “my favorite dictator” — and who now, as protests burn American cities, seems set on emulating his spirit, if not his methods.

In recent days Mr. Trump has called for violence against looters, made inflammatory suggestions that the protests were being driven by saboteurs and, in a phone call on Monday, called the protesters “terrorists” and urged American governors to “do retribution” against them.

Even at the height of the Arab Spring, Mr. Mubarak used softer language and struck a more conciliatory tone, said Ahdaf Soueif, an Egyptian writer and activist who was recently arrested for leading street protests in Cairo. Mr. Trump “is a more crass, more vulgar version of our leaders,” she said.

At least Mr. Mubarak, she added, “occasionally made a good joke.”

Like Mr. Floyd, the face of Egypt’s uprising was also a victim of police brutality. In June 2010, two police officers pulled Khaled Said from an internet cafe in Alexandria and beat him to death. When photos of Mr. Said’s disfigured corpse circulated on social media, they set off a wave of public anger that forced Mr. Mubarak from power seven months later.

Now, just as Mr. Said’s death symbolized the impunity of Egypt’s brutal police, Mr. Floyd’s has galvanized public attention to systemic failures in the United States, said Belal Fadl, an Egyptian screenwriter and satirist who lives in New York City.

Mr. Fadl said he felt a sense of déjà vu when he saw the raw passions unleashed in American cities in recent days. “It is evidence of failure,” he said. “Evidence of a society that can no longer talk to itself.”



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