It's Not Over Yet
Acquaintances and friends have been asking me in many different ways two questions: is the revolution over and will this coup ever end? My short answer to both questions is no. Different thoughts come to mind in attempting to answer each question. Let me start with the first, is the revolution over?
Those of us who were in Tahrir on the 25th of January 2011 experienced a rare episode of humanity discovering its deep positive essence of existence. We experienced a Camelot where a group of people were not simply united for a social cause but could for the first time see what values they shared as humans, experience happiness and safety despite their individual or group differences and understand that the limits of their potential could inspire the world. So for many of us witnessing some of the events happening today we quickly shake our heads concluding that this is not quite the same spirit we experienced on Jan 25th. Now this may imply that I am saying that the revolution is over but I am confident it is not. There are at least three key reasons why I make such a confident statement.
First and foremost is the increasing awareness of the revolutionaries about what the revolution needs to do to succeed. To a large extent we were naïve on the 25th of January, and the days that followed those glorious 18 days along with the military coup revealed so many learnings about the nature of change required in the current Egyptian social system. Actually, and this may anger some people, the coup was a huge blessing that enabled us to revamp the Egyptian revolution. Many of us already knew that the military leadership and its puppets needed to be deposed as much as Mubarak, but few of us knew the extent of weakness and corruption existing in the rest of the Egyptian society. The nostalgic aura of Tahrir and our thirst to believe that there is still some good left in us overwhelmed our hearts and logic. Some of us would never have understood the degree of incompetence of the Muslim brotherhood in running a state had they not come to power. We assumed in good faith that because they had survived for so long in the face of persecution and demonstrated some organizational capabilities in the square and the elections that they could lead the country. Well it is obvious now, they can’t. Some of us would never have imagined that some of our own family members would accept to authorize the people in power to kill their own kindred for having a different political stand. We would never have imagined that they would go to the streets chasing after the protestors with guns to help the police arrest some of us. I mean after all those were the people that for a while talked about us as the revolutionary generation that would rebuild a new Egypt. Many of us did not know or comprehend the extent of reach and control that the military had on the key institutions and social groups in the Egypt. Only a few of us could claim that they knew the significant influence some of our neighboring countries had on the people in power and the elites in Egypt. Beyond the abstract rhetoric chanted in our marches, many of us did not know what sort of social system we wanted and did not put sufficient effort to define our thoughts and dreams and rally people around them. We were not able to provide an alternative to two organizational structures, the military and the Brotherhood, which represented to many of us outdated social paradigms. There are so many other lessons that we have learned from these events, and with this knowledge our determination has matured and increased to continue along the path we started three years ago.
The second reason is that as we have become knowledgeable about the task we need to accomplish we are also learning more about the tools and tactics required to execute the task. We know now that this change will not be brought about by simply occupying a square to depose a military dictator and some of his puppets. We know that to begin with we need to possess and implement a variety of tools and tactics that can bring down a military institution that has rooted itself in almost all aspects of our social system. So when I see the rise of the students, the strikes of the labor unions and workers all over the country, the attacks on security vehicles during protests, the increasing participation of women, the hacking of websites and many other actions I see an increasing variation in tactics and tools that tells me that our revolution is far from over. We know now that this is a struggle that will take time. We know now that the effects of the revolution will be felt in every Egyptian home. So when I see groups organizing themselves to engage with the community in discussions around social change, or groups formed to define what we want and how to rally people around those ideas, when I learn about groups organizing to battle women’s abuse in public, when I hear music groups forming to sing against social injustice and call for freedom, I know that the revolution is reorganizing itself to unleash its potential in an unprecedented manner.
My third reason is the practices of the current regime and certain factions of society. The increasing police brutality in dealing with civilians, the deterioration in public services, the unprecedented rate of arrests that is reaching almost all social demographics and the polarizing hatred message promoted by the media are among a few of the usual dictatorship practices that will continuously fuel the spirit of the revolutionaries and take it beyond the political struggle of two powers. When we wake up every day to learn that a twelve year old student was arrested for possessing a ruler with the Rabia sign on it, or 10 year old girls that were sentenced to prison for participating in a march against the coup, or a pathetic military statement on their discovery of a cure for aids, or the death of a young man at the hands of a police officer because the man refused to be treated in a demeaning manner, when we hear of parents notifying the police about their own children for their participation in anti-coup protests, or neighbors becoming informants about people they have lived with for years in the same building, or business owners sending discontented employees to jail on the premise that they are “terrorists”, and many other atrocious stories we are always reminded why our revolution must continue. When I see the Brotherhood and its coalition still adopting their slogans of legitimacy, when I hear them still calling what happened on July 3rd a military coup, when I see them failing to rally the different revolutionary groups to their cause, when I witness the rising discontentment among their lower levels and younger generation my belief that this revolution never was and never will be about the Brotherhood and the military. This is a revolution of social paradigms that is not over yet.
So in all confidence I am sure the revolution will never end. Our generation and at least three other younger ones have firsthand experience of what social injustice at the hand of military dictatorships can and will do to our lives in the deepest sense. It is engraved in our memories, the pellets in our bodies and our emotional injuries are lasting reminders of a social system we no longer accept or wish to belong to. My children will remember, among many other painful experiences, that their father disappeared from their lives over night from fear of being persecuted by a regime and a society that would in cold blood kill those who are at a difference with them. Mark my word; we will never be short of revolutionaries for generations to come. So when someone asks if the revolution is over, tell them in all confidence it’s not over yet.
Does this mean that the coup is about to end? No it is not but the details of this I will share in my next piece.
Written by Ahmad El Nashar
You can learn more about the events of the Egyptian revolution in this document written by Ahmad. Come back next week to learn more in Ahmad's next piece!