Egyptian revolution and the lessons it offers
The fortress of coercion and terror is always built on a shaky ground. The decades of military rule, muzzling of dissent, brutal suppression of people might provide some “comfortable” cushions to the regime to hold its grip and raise the edifice of its bullying power, yet the very foundation remains unstable. The laws of gravitation are not subservient to forces of imperialism or monarchy and dictatorship. No political manipulation or military might can stop simmering lava of rebellion from accumulating a critical mass and then blowing up citadels of hubris into smithereens. On Friday, 11th Husni Mubarak regime reached to its tipping point and Egypt ushered into a history-making mega event. It took just thirty seconds for the vice president, Omar Suilleman, he nominated a barely week ago, to read his fifty-word speech announcing Mubarak’s resignation on national TV. A whirling thirty seconds for the nemesis to reach at his door steps and knock Mubarak’s thirty year brutal dictatorship down into oblivion and sent him in exile in his own country. (His once powerful son has already fled to London for safety with his wife). Making them a living example for autocratic dispensations and imperialistic forces. Of how dreadful it is to subjugate people and deny them the opportunity to script their destiny themselves.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the revolution, that has just 18 day gestation period and which culminated in splendid victory on Friday last, has in it manifold ramifications not only in the Arab but beyond the region as well. A political stirring is in the offing and many despotic regimes are sure to get unhinged. Even countries putting on democratic veneer will be losing their sleep as they remain glued to their television sets during all these tumultuous days.
Some key elements glaringly point to, how the revolution, that in the ripple effect stimulated from the unprecedented developments in the adjacent Tunisia, made a tryst with its destiny. One, it was truly a people’s movement with Marx and Angels, Hasnul Albana and Syed Qatub Shaheed, new and old, ‘conservatives’ and ‘liberals’, ‘radicals’ and ‘progressive’, all cementing in one human chain. It was a unique carnival of hues and colors. “Classless society”, speaking one language of defiance. No one superior or inferior. All “drunk mad” circumambulating around the one monolithic kaaba of Aazadi, of loosening their necks from repressive jackboots of the oppressor. An Arafat-like junoon overcoming carnal and materialistic desires. All supportive. Enduring. The bond of equality knitting them together on the floor. In the open, on streets and at the defense of the fortress.
2. Al-Tahreer Square, that has venerated into a sacrosanct symbol of people’s power, showed to the world that key to success lies in maintaining exemplary discipline. Howsoever the hues investment of all kinds of sacrifices in romance of cherished ambition, unless the protests are disciplined, a surging sea of a million on roads will leave a trail of disappointment and noise pollution with a searing pain of vocal cords. It does not mean the protestors camped in Square while allowed merry-making nights. The dictator unleashed his goons and loyalist police personnel in civvies which came charging in columns on camels and horses with iron rods and sticks and row into the Square creating havoc. But far from loosing their nerves, the people stood to the ground and refused to be forcibly evacuated. Tear gas canisters, showers of bullets were used on unarmed protestors. Two days of state violence left nearly three hundred people dead and hundreds injured. That kind of brutality couldn’t shake people’s resolve and they valiantly fought tyrannical forces of the regime. But in this hour of emotions running high their bravery did not let them inundate banks of patience. They did not set government buildings on fire or caused damage to properties. Baring a few police vehicles, where from they were shelled and fired upon, they protected everything they had their reach on. They didn’t force closure of business or institutions and offices. They did not break window panes of vehicles. After the infamous police were off the roads they patrolled the streets, manned traffic and cooperated with each others. They didn’t shy from taking brooms and got to sweeping roads. Cast in the roll of scavengers irrespective of status and class, they showed how in crisis resistance movement should behave.
3. Conscious of the fact that Mubarak was a stooge of US and the West, and knowing the Israeli brutality in Hamas, they did not burn their national flags. Sky didn’t reverberate with marg bar America, or murda baad, murda baad like slogans. Only one flag, national flag of Egypt the people carried. Only one slogan irhil irhil Mubarak (go Mubarak go) the people chanted.
4. the Ikhwan-ul-Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood), which is the largest and most organized political opposition in the country, positioned itself for a role, in the new emerging situation, in a highly responsible and impressive manner. Though it faired well in the countries notoriously rigged 2005 election, winning as many as 80 parliamentary seats out of a total of 454, a brutal suppression on the Ikhwan by the rattled regime ensured it didn’t win a single seat in 2010 elections. The Islamist Organization remaining invisibly visible behind the scene used its organizational strength and mobilized large number of its supporters for the protest that was mainly non-religious and spontaneous in character. Despite being banned from political activity it accepted the invitation for discussion on political transition. But not for mere photo session. It didn’t allow itself to get snared in the web of deceit and continued to energize protestors and put pressure on the regime. Projecting a more pragmatic image of itself to domestic and international audience Ikhwan declared it is an ‘Egyptian revolution, not an Islamic revolution’. With one stroke of political acumen and dexterity it blunted many arrows aimed at it from Washington, Brussels and Tel-Aviv.
5. The uprising commanded inclusive character of all the ‘sons of the soil’. It was not left to the political activists or the young cyber generation alone. Lawyers in their black gowns and doctors in their white coats, journalists, civil society, employees all added grace to the Tahreer Square and trooped there.
6. It was not a leaderless revolution, contrary to the canard that is being spread out. While Google executive and Cyber active caigner Wael Ghonim, who has emerged as one of the symbols of uprising, and his colleagues were at the front, Ikhwan, even though maintaining a low profile, guarded and reinforced the rear and flanks of the resistance.
7. It was ultimately people’s resilience, steadfastness and do or die spirit that prevailed over all the sinister designs, and bullying language of arrogance. Only one day before his ignominious exit Mubarak refused to step down and his deputy Omar Suleiman threatened to use military force to crush the uprising. Instead of getting dampened in spirits, protestors upped their ante and marched towards the presidential palace and TV station. At the Al-Tahreer Square Wael Ghonim called the bluff: ‘you are not going to stop us. Kidnap me, kidnap all my colleagues. Put us in jail. Kill us. Do what ever you want to do. We are getting back our country. You guys have been running the country for thirty years. Enough. Enough. Enough.’
8. The army did not fire on the protestors. Instead, it demonstrated a sense of belonging and offered prayers with the protestors, distributed biscuits and coffee and hugged them. People lifted army officers on shoulders. Army’s behavior did reflect that it was not an occupying force holding the territory at the point of gun. The use of army and force in near future will be litmus test for determining face of the countries up against peaceful protests. Democratic or imperialistic.
9. Entire democratic world acknowledged the non-violent character of the protests and supported the uprising. Media created a fraternity bond across the globe and establishment did not dare to use the option of military force to crush people.
10. The means adopted were so effective and approaches so pragmatic that authorities succumbed. And people forced their solution to problems.
11. Change of wind is likely rather definitely to blow in many countries; it is only a matter of time. The oppressive forces shell have to face new discourse sweeping across the globe that reads: no matter how strong and powerful the oppressor is, at the end of the day the power of people matters. If today Al-Tahreer Square sent twenty first century Pharaoh of Egypt in the dark dungeons of history, some other Squares are waiting and gearing up for replicating Al-Tahreer. Beware of people’s revolution! You can’t cage the wind.
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