San Francisco photojournalist par excellence, Zombie, was initially intrigued, then puzzled by the “Arab Spring” protest in his/her area, earlier this month.
The Facebook page announcing the event called it “San Francisco Rally and March for Democracy in the Middle East,” with a tagline that said,
Protest and march to stand in solidarity with the people of Syria, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and other countries in the region as they struggle against dictatorships and repressive governments.
Democracy? Opposing dictatorships? What’s not to like? So my first urge was to sympathize with the protest.
But then again…I scan the news each day, and I’ve read many essays from American analysts and pundits who worry that the “Arab Spring” may only serve to open the door to Islamic extremists seeking to seize control of various Arab countries. In other words, the revolutions wouldn’t necessarily get rid of totalitarian government as a concept; they might only replace one form of totalitarianism with another.
So, if the Arab Spring revolutions were successful, they could have two possible outcomes: “democracy” (assumed by most analysts to mean moderate/secular/flexible elected leadership); and “Islamic fundamentalism” (i.e. religiously based and inflexible).
Zombie looked around and took a few pictures like this one:
The rally was pretty small; somewhere around 100-200 people was my estimate. And most of the people in attendance were Middle Easterners themselves. And my first impression was that they wanted the same thing I do: a democratic and secular Arab world.
***Not everyone at the rally was Middle Eastern. Around the periphery was a smattering of various non-Arab types, such as this schmuck showing off his hammer-and-sickle shirt.
And he wasn’t the only one.
Zombie noticed a pile of Middle Eastern flags that all had the same initials on them, so he/she decided to to Google it up:
Turns out that AROC stands for Arab Resource and Organizing Center, a local San Francisco Arab political organization that was behind the rally.
What kind of Arab political organization, you might ask? Well, that’s where things get, shall we say, interesting.
No, they’re not Islamist. I was right about that. But a quick survey of their Web site revealed various buzzwords and telltale phrases:
“oppose all war and occupation”
…and so on.
Furthermore, their “values” platform includes:
“1. Challenge the racism and religious discrimination.
2. Work to create an economically just world free from occupation and exploitation.
3. Oppose sexism, homophobia, classism, and ableism within our organization….”
…etc. They’re also stridently pro-Palestinian and demand the “right of return.”
And it dawned on me: These are the exact same phrases one sees spouted by American socialist and communist groups. And so these must be…Arab communists!
Read the full report with more pictures at Pajamas Media.
2009: April 6 Movement attends training in Serbia under CANVAS.
2010: February, April 6 Movement meets US International Crisis Group trustee Mohamed ElBaradei at Cario’s airport. With Google exec Wael Ghonim, they begin conducting ElBaradei’s presidential campaign and organizing protests on behalf of ElBaradei’s “National Front for Change” for the next year.
2011: January-February April 6, Mohamed ElBaradei, the National Front for Change, assist in the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.
2011: February, George Soros funded NGOs begin submitting draft constitutions for Egypt’s new government.