Graeme Wood

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The latest from Tahrir

I filed a post for TheAtlantic.com from Tahrir.

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Filed under: Atlantic Monthly, ,

Running the Asylum

For The Atlantic, I profiled Maj. Gulzar Wazir, mental health activist in Peshawar.

Filed under: Atlantic Monthly

With Mubarak Gone, Will Egyptians Divide?

Originally appeared in The Atlantic.

CAIRO, Egypt — Hosni Mubarak with donkey ears, Hosni Mubarak with a Hitler mustache, Hosni Mubarak as Colonel Sanders — once the protesters started heaping on the scorn, they couldn’t stop. It was a long time coming.
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Filed under: Atlantic Monthly

“Hold Up Your Head!” An Egyptian Festival

Originally appeared in The Atlantic.

CAIRO, Egypt — One longs to know what finally convinced Hosni Mubarak to relinquish his office. What, as of this afternoon, did he see that he could not have seen before? By the end of January, he must have known that his people were desperate to be rid of him. By the end of last week, they showed they were prepared to fight and die. And by yesterday night, after his weird and deluded speech failed to mollify crowds and instead pumped them full of wrath, he must have known that the movement would metastasize beyond Tahrir Square, and that by staying in power he was only making things worse.

One theory: He was watching his own state television network. This afternoon around three o’clock, a crowd of about 1,000 people had the entrance of the building blocked, in an effort to send a message that could penetrate even the waxy ears of official State media. The crowd’s cheers were led by a girl, no older than six, but with the lungs developed far beyond her years. Riding the shoulders of a man, probably at her father, she screamed the familiar incantations of Egyptian democracy, and the crowd screamed with her. Five minutes after she started, I saw her thwack her dad on the back, like a horse: she wanted not to face the crowd, but instead to face the M1 tanks and freshly stretched razor wire that stood between her and the state television building. If Mubarak was looking at the live raw feed from the windows of that building, he would have seen the glare of a child, fixed with bravery and loathing, and leading a crowd of thousands. How can one look back at that and continue in office is beyond me, and perhaps proved beyond him, too.

Filed under: Atlantic Monthly

“Go Away!” Rage in Tahrir Greets Mubarak’s Speech

Originally appeared in The Atlantic.

CAIRO, Egypt — Unless you count the dummies that they’ve been hanging in effigy from lampposts for the last week, the protesters in Tahrir Square have been remarkably nonviolent in the imagery they’ve used against Hosni Mubarak. Tonight that equanimity began melting away. Not long before Mubarak came on television to speak, two men carried into the crowd a banner depicting Mubarak as Pharaoh. In one image he wore a King Tut/Yul Brynner headdress, and in the other he was dead and mummified.
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Filed under: Atlantic Monthly

The Egyptian Revolution’s Coming Second Act

Originally appeared in The Atlantic.

CAIRO, Egypt — The last week in Tahrir has taught a number of cruel lessons, chief among them that the old Marxist chronology of tragedy-then-farce is severely out of date. As my friend Graham Harman has observed, the spectacle of 21st-century camelborne cavalry charges against peaceful demonstrators is itself a blend of Pythonesque absurdity and profound evil. That tragicomedy happened in a single afternoon. What could possibly serve as a second act? Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Atlantic Monthly

Mistrust Spreads Among Egypt’s Protesters: A Day and Night in Tahrir

Originally appeared in The Atlantic.

CAIRO, Egypt — There is trouble in paradise, and its name is fitna. At 2 a.m. yesterday in Tahrir Square, a brawl erupted near the Iberia Airlines office. It was not a fair fight: A crowd ganged up on one middle-aged man who had remarked loudly that he thought the anti-regime coalition was going to fall apart because of religious differences (devout vs. secular, Christian vs. Muslim). Another man overheard him, told him to shut up, and gathered a crowd first to shout him down and then shove him around. The first man gave up and skulked off, eventually scowling alone on the pavement, with his back against the stone wall of a travel agency, his arms hugging his sweater and his hands and face pelted with cold rain. The crowd yelled after him: “Fitna! Fitna! Fitna!” — an Arabic word with a long history and a complicated English meaning, a cross between “strife,” “disagreement,” “discord,” or “sedition.” Or in plain English: “Why can’t we all just get along?”

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Filed under: Atlantic Monthly

Reenergized Protesters Ready to Keep Fighting Off Attacks in Tahrir Square

Originally appeared in The Atlantic.

CAIRO, Egypt — The demonstrators have been calling today “the day of departure” for Hosni Mubarak and, with their mission complete, presumably for themselves, too. Many protesters have been in Tahrir Square for as long as a week — exhausted from stress, from having to sleep body-to-body on cold pavement and patchy grass, and from having to improvise (with miraculous effect) a static defense strategy against an enemy with virtually limitless supply lines.

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Filed under: Atlantic Monthly

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