'The World Tomorrow' Ep 4. Rajab & El-Fattah: Arab Spring (video)
This week's episode of the controversial talk show discusses the Arab Spring. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange interviews Nabeel Rajab, human rights leader from Bahrain and Alaa Abd El-Fattah, political activist from Egypt.
Julian Assange interviews both activists who are involved in the Arab Spring to find out the latest status of the movement.
is the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and is the foremost critic of the Al-Khalifa regime in the country, which continues its brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters. With over 140,000 followers on Twitter, he is one of the most well-known online activists in the Arab world.
Rajab is a member of a staunch pro-regime family and has agitated for reform in Bahrain since his return from university in 1988.
Along with the Bahraini-Danish human rights defender Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, he helped establish the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights in 2002. Rajab is reasonably new to the limelight -- becoming a face for the Bahrain uprising of February 14 2011, after the sit-in at Pearl Roundabout. Since then, he has been a public face for the revolution, waging a social media war on Twitter with PR companies working for the regime. After al-Khawaja was imprisoned, he led protests for his release. He has endured beatings, arrests and legal harrassment for engaging in pro-democracy demonstrations.
Rajab was detained just days before the showing of this episode, due to a tweet he sent when he was on his way to the interview. When he sent the tweet, advising that he was about to be interviewed by Julian Assange on RT, his house was instantly surrounded by 100 policemen armed with machineguns. Luckily he was not in residence at the time - a message was left telling him to appear at the prosecutor's office at 4.00 o'clock, but he chose instead to continue with the interview.
On arriving home, he was immediately arrested and his court case is set for May 22. More details of his arrest can be read here
The second person interviewed is Alaa Abd El-Fattah
from Egypt. El-Fattah is a long-time Egyptian blogger, programmer and political activist.
El-Fattah's parents were human rights campaigners under Anwar Sadat; his sister Mona Seif became a Twitter star during the 2011 Egyptian revolution, and is a founder of the No Military Trials for Civilians group formed under the post-Mubarak military junta.
El-Fattah was imprisoned for 45 days in 2006 for protesting under the Mubarak regime, and released after "Free Alaa" solidarity protests in Egypt and around the world. In 2011, from abroad, El-Fattah helped route around Mubarak's internet blockade.
El-Fattah has been imprisoned and banned from travel and has become the icon of a revolution betrayed.
Julian Assange begins the interview with an important question: "Is the Arab Spring the enactment of a dream, or is it an impossible fantasy?"
He asks the two activists about the revolutions across the Middle East - have they been successful, crushed or concealed, and what motivates them both to continue to put their lives on the line.
Rajab begins by telling Assange that he has already been detained, kidnapped and beaten in front of his family over his criticism of the regime in Bahrain. He was apparently detained for half a day after being beaten in the streets, and he recalls that a few months before this detention, he was kidnapped from his home by masked security personnel.
The security personnel then blindfolded and handcuffed him and he was taken to an unknown place and tortured.
Rajab states in the interview that Bahrain has been under family rule for 200 years and that the country has both wealth and American support, but there is no legitimacy for the Bahraini people. He states that 50% of the people are involved in a peaceful revolution in the country.
He says further that the Arab Al Jazeera does not cover the situation in Bahrain and are taking the side of the government. When the Saudis sent troops into Bahrain, there was silence in the media. The Saudis have the backing of the U.S.A. and Europe for arms sales, oil movement and other mutual interests. These interests get far more priority than the human rights of the Bahraini people. He states that daily people are dying in the country, often from tear gas in the peaceful protests.
With the fear mongering about Iran, the Saudis and U.S.A. want Bahrain quiet and stable. The Saudis do not want a revolution in Bahrain as this would impact on their interests.
He states that the democracy and freedom that they are fighting for has a cost, and that cost, and the cost may be very expensive. But they are willing to pay the price for the changes they are fighting for.
Alaa Abd El-Fattah
El-Fattah states that he is still pending prosecution and the case is under investigation. He is banned from travel and is accused of murder, sabotage of public property, stealing military weapons and inciting illegal assembly for the purpose of terrorism. He states he is, "Basically being accused of beating the hell out of a couple of platoons, stealing their weapons and then killing them." He says that he must be a superman to be able to do these things. He states that prosecution witnesses have even placed him in two places at the same time.
He says this gives him very good "street cred" in prison, as most people are in prison for stealing cars, but he is being accused of stealing tanks.
He continues discussing what is happening in the Egyptian revolution.
El-Fattah, on being asked "Is the dream finished?", states that the dream would not require Assange to do the job he is doing, the dream would not require Occupy Wall Street. The dream would bring real democracy to the world.
Towards the end of the interview, Assange asks both Rajab and El-Fattah how their families are coping with their frequent arrests, beatings etc. Both parties explain that it is difficult for their families, but that in each case their families are gradually becoming activists on their own part.
A very moving episode with some very brave men fighting for the rights of their people.
"The World Tomorrow
" is broadcast live every Tuesday on RT at 11:30 GMT and published on Digital Journal as soon as the video is available.
Previous episodes are as follows:
Episode 1: Julian Assange 'The World Tomorrow' Episode 1 — Hassan Nasrallah
Episode 2: Assange — 'The World Tomorrow' — Ep. 2: Zizek & Horowitz (Video)
Episode 3: 'The World Tomorrow' — Ep 3: Assange & Tunisian president (video)