Tahrir: Hearts & Minds?

I’m sorry to say this, but some clearly have no clue what’s going on. The facts are these: Nothing has been achieved so far except empty promises from a regime that doesn’t know how to do anything except lie, cheat, and steal. The revolution in Tahrir is the only chance we’ve had in over 59 years to actually change this country and put it on the right track. If, in return, your lives are made a little uncomfortable for a week or two, or even longer – you must remember what is at stake; the entire future of what should be – what COULD be – the greatest country in the region. Instead – this regime has offered you poverty, illiteracy, corruption, despotism, police brutality, and a complete lack of transparency. If we stop now, this is what you will live with, and it is what you are dooming your children to endure.

I’m completely weirded out by people who seem to appreciate what we’ve done so far (which, apart from showing the government that the Egyptian population can be a formidable force – isn’t much) and yet – still ask the people in Tahrir to go home or to give it up – as though we were playing some game.

This is not a game. The entire future history of Egypt is at stake, and will not be won by cowardice, or by people who simply miss being able to have their food delivered, or who are afraid of the Ikhwan, or who believe the lies propagated by the government, or who are happy to accept the lies of a government they have never, ever, trusted before but who choose to believe it now because they are tired. That’s not how countries are made, and certainly not how countries are fixed.

The people in Tahrir need your support, not your impatience, and certainly not your paranoid suspicions. We do not need to see you controlled by the fear the government has sown amongst you simply to make you wish for stability.

Everybody used to say this country needs to change, and now – when we’re finally almost there, and just because it’s taking more than 10 days – some of you have suddenly retreated into wishes of ‘stability’?

Have some guts, people. Begad.

And if you haven’t been to Tahrir, go – see what’s actually happening there. Experience for yourself what is now a wonderful community of well intentioned individuals from all classes and all segments of Egyptian society. They are all brothers there, all looking out for each other, all willing to risk their lives on a daily basis in the hope that we will be able to build a better country.

Do not believe the lies, and there are many. I’ve been accused of being on Baradei’s payroll when I don’t even like the guy and have always made that clear. I’ve heard rumors that 90% of the people there are Ikhwan, as though that should scare me even if it were true. There are all kinds of rumors.

And let me tell you this – if you’re worried about the demographics in Tahrir, if you think the fate of Egypt will be decided by a crowd you don’t trust – then the best thing to do is to go. Go to Tahrir and make your voices heard in the only place in Egypt which is now truly free. The only place in Egypt that is now truly liberated. The price of that liberty so far has been occasional attacks by hired thugs who want to maintain their brutal grip on the whole Egyptian population. The solution to Egypt’s problems isn’t that the protesters go home, it’s that Tahrir must grow to encompass the whole country, in spirit if not in body.

This cannot become a civil war for one simple reason – there are no people on the other side unless the government manages to divide us by scaring you and making you afraid enough to choose to live as you had lived before.

When we asked for a million people on Tuesday, we got over 1.5 million in Cairo alone, and another 4 or 5 million all over Egypt. When the weakening regime asked for a demonstration they numbered no more than several thousand. When 20,000 of us were attacked by thugs and molotovs, the very next day our numbers swelled to over 200,000. We grow when we sense danger, because we have faith in a cause. Instead – when the government thugs were held back, when they lost a battle on Wednesday, the next day, their numbers dwindled, it did not increase. Instead of several thousand – we saw only a few hundred. They fight for money, whereas we fight for dignity and a future – that is why they cannot win.

The only division in Egypt now is between people who want the country to change, and a government that is trying to hold on to it’s power so it can continue to rob, steal, and oppress.

Don’t allow them to divide the people, don’t allow them to divide US into those who have patience and those who do not! Especially when our end goals are the same!

Do not betray this movement, do not betray your own hopes and aspirations for this country. Your support is needed, your fear is understandable, but must not control you.

The seed of Egyptian liberty, of Egyptian democracy, of a truly liberal secular society lies in Tahrir right NOW. Nurture it. Embrace it, and if you come around, you can help shape it.

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3 Comments

  1. We too, took a chance after 30 years, in Iran. And we are living proof that going home only makes the adversary more bloodthirsty. We have since been living with more and more poverty, illiteracy, corruption, despotism, police brutality, and lack of transparency.
    Our next fight, and believe me it is coming, will be much harder.
    To your victory…this round.

  2. Nice post. I think that aside from people who just want life to go back to normal – who are indeed being selfish and shortsighted – there is an argument about tactics, strategy.

    What is a more effective way to create the change people want? There is the option of leading street protests demanding that SCAF create the changes. In this scenario, remember that Egyptian army generals are about as capable of managing systemic political change as Egyptian civilians are at managing an army – ie, it is not their skill set at all.

    Like it or not, these protests do come with costs, which I think we all know of.

    There is another option, of organising as an actual political force that can win elections and create the changes people want, this time from the vantage point of actually being the government, with the army back in its barracks. Instead of protests, hold campaign rallies in hundreds of locations across the country, hold town-hall meetings to get input on local concerns, recruit the tens of thousands of volunteers you will need to win an election.

    In the short term, this option will not bring immediate satisfaction. It won’t reform the police and security services, it won’t ensure all crimes of the old regime are prosecuted, and it won’t address the deeper issue of the army’s role in politics and the economy. But it seems naive to think that SCAF – who are both incompetent and, most likely, unable to do these things anyhow, given their limited experience and motivation for governing.

    It seems to me – and please tell me if I’m wrong – that few are taking the second, political option, aside from the Islamist parties and then to some degree, the new liberal parties like Al Adl and Masryeen al Ahrar, neither of which seem to be getting big mainstream support from the people protesting in Tahrir. At some point, activist politics need to become electoral politics.

  3. Holy shit, I just posted that comment and then realised this post is five months old. You could post the exact same thing today and it would be just as relevant (as I thought you did)

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