Tuesday, 20 December 2011

A tactic of last resort

In the news yesterday was an article about riots in Egypt. The ruling council described the pro-democracy campaigners as trying to bring down the state and said they were provoking soldiers into retaliation. This was not how the BBC reporter saw it when describing an attack on a female protestor who was fully veiled prior to the attack but she was kicked and beaten and her body exposed. The case for the protestors is also strengthened with the incontrovertible evidence of hundreds with injuries and twelve people who have died. The beating is one of the worst that I have seen in many months. Add to that the religious implications and it is easy to see that Egyptian problems are rising.

There was also footage of an Egyptian soldier firing his gun directly into the crowd. I am old enough to remember the Guardian advert in which you saw what you thought was a certain outcome and it turned out there was an alternative meaning to the images. Then we found out a third reason for what was happening. It really is hard to argue against the way the BBC reported the incident so let's take this story at face value. The forces of law and order had taken things far too far and a moving crowd was being shot at. The likely outcome was that one more protestor was going to be shot and perhaps became one of the twelve who died.

Compare that with today's news. It has been suggested that our police force could be issued with live firearms in order to deal with riots. Indeed the review from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary suggests that the police may be justified in shooting arsonists or protestors throwing missiles. Of course this would be a tactic of last resort but I wonder if that was the justification for the Egyptian soldier shooting into the crowd.

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