When Egypt blows, who ya gonna call? Why, our learned foreign editors and valiant Middle East correspondents of course!
From the air-conditioned comfort of his office at Murdoch's News Ltd, The Australian's Jerusalem Prize-winning foreign editor, Greg Sheridan, tells us there's far far worse in the Middle East than your rickety old Mubarak: "Compared with Iran, Egypt and Tunisia were relatively liberal. In Iran the regime was capable of bludgeoning, raping and killing large numbers of its citizens to stay in power, and willing to do so. Iran is an ideological, totalitarian regime. Egypt and Tunisia are ramshackle authoritarian regimes." (Arab awakening or dawn of dark age, Greg Sheridan, 3/2/11)
Meanwhile, The Australian's man on the ground (albeit in his hotel room) in Cairo, John Lyons, is in no mood for such Israeli talking points as his mind concentrates wonderfully following a 'visit' by some dudes in black leather jackets: "So it's come to this: unidentified men entering the hotel rooms of journalists and taking equipment. Cairo is becoming nastier by the hour... In Hosni Mubarak's Egypt, plainclothesmen can knock on anybody's door, take them away and detain or torture them for as long as they want to." (A decrepit regime stoops to conquer, 5/2/11)
The Sydney Morning Herald's Jason Koutsoukis, by contrast, is mixing it with the masses in Tahrir Square, and revealing hitherto unknown talents - a detailed knowledge of Egyptian ID cards and a mastery of written Arabic no less. There he is, describing the crowd's beating of a suspected plainclothes cop, when all of a sudden: "Three or four men then jumped on him and wrestled him to the ground. Soon enough someone was holding up an ID card. 'Yes', he screamed. 'This proves it. He is a policeman'. Inspecting it myself, the ID card looked like any other Egyptian ID card. There was nothing on it to indicate that this man was a policeman. 'You're not looking at it properly', someone said, trying to suggest that relevant detail was hidden in the card's holographic image." (In this atmosphere, lynching is only a matter of time, 5/2/11)