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    “How dare he talk to us like naughty children?”

    Arab dictators insist on treating citizens either as simple fools who need wise guidance or disobedient children who need to be beaten into submission.

    (copyright Reuters)

    After listening to Ben Ali’s address to the Tunisian people just before they kicked him out of the country, reading Bashar Assad’s interview in the Wall Street Journal a few days ago, and yesterday listening to Hosni Mubarak’s speech, it’s absolutely clear that behind all the cynical rhetoric, these men are delusional. Two days ago, I blogged about Assad’s perceptions of Syrian society and citizens, and yesterday Mubarak’s spoke along the same lines as Assad; namely that Egyptian citizens are being “mobilised and controlled by political forces that wanted to escalate and worsen the situation”. That is, simple fools led astray by dark sinister forces. Of course anyone watching Jazeera over the past week knows precisely that the Egyptian people are not fools at all, and know exactly what they want.

    (copyright guardian.co.uk)

    (Moreover, as with Assad, we have again the stress on “dialogue” before reform – which could take 6 months, 2 years, 10 years…).

    And of course the Pharaoh complex (even though he has completely lost any popular legitimacy): “I entrust the government…”, “I charge the police…” (watch this video if you want to know how the Egyptian police carries out its duties), “I demand the judicial and supervisory authorities…”.

    Following Mubarak’s speech, I remembered something in an old school history book on French Revolution when privileges handed down by the king to his subjects became fundamental human rights. So I opened wikipedia.org (where else?). Scrolling down the page, I found this quote:

    “Thousands of men and even many women gained firsthand experience in the political arena: they talked, read, and listened in new ways; they voted; they joined new organizations; and they marched for their political goals. Revolution became a tradition, and republicanism an enduring option.” Some historians argue that the French people underwent a fundamental transformation in self-identity, evidenced by the elimination of privileges and their replacement by rights as well as the growing decline in social deference that highlighted the principle of equality throughout the Revolution.”

    This is what we’re witnessing today in Egypt, and it has been building up for years.

    The title of this post is borrowed from an article on the guardian.co.uk website (watch this video which collects reactions from people in Tahrir Square following Mubarak’s address).

    UPDATE (2:50pm): Did I mention that Arab dictators hate their subjects citizens? Mubarak makes cynical promises to the Egyptian people and then unleashes his thugs on them, all to drive home the point that they need his protection after all… from himself.

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