Friday, February 4, 2011

It's Not Over

I listened to people yesterday who seemed to have accepted Hosni Mubarak's speech on Tuesday night, and wanted the fight for freedom to end.

Mubarak is old. And he's a war hero. And he's Mubarak. We can't humiliate him any longer. And besides, he said he won't run again in September. And that there will be constitutional changes.

Come on. Enough is enough. We want our lives back.

And then I listened to all those who were still in Al-Tahrir Square, saying that after the immense crackdown on Wednesday on the peaceful protests (that was clearly at least in part performed by Mubarak's state security people), how can they trust him? After 30 years of despotic rule, how can they trust him? After the hundreds that gave their lives for the struggle for a free Egypt in the past week, how can they give up?

And how in the world can we trust a regime who's broadcasting propaganda on state TV so far from the truth that even the journalists presenting it quit because they can't bare to lie anymore?

Then I got a message from somebody asking me to stop writing what I'm writing because Egypt doesn't need this. Egypt needs stability now.

I wavered a little. Was the revolution over? Was I supporting something even Egyptians had given up?

Who could I ask?

My very dear friend Hani in Cairo. He would tell me like it is, regardless of his personal viewpoint.

This is what he said:
"Ever heard of the Stockholm Syndrome? (you must have, you're from Sweden!) 
I've seen many do the same today and over the past few days (give up on the revolution and back Mubarak). People are scared and confused. But I have also seen many more with unwavering resolve. This is a defining time for Egypt, and -even more important for the answer to "what's next?" - for my generation in Egypt. When I see some not being able to cope with the overwhelming stress, my mind is tempted to scream "Betrayal!", but I know that people's coping capacities are different.  
Let me speak for my own demographic and age group (late twenties, educated): I have never seen young Egyptians so determined on anything like this before. Whatever happens tomorrow or next week doesn't matter. Mubarak's dirty regime is done. They dug their own grave. 
It is a very difficult time, but we are emerging from this with a revived sense of *ownership* of Egypt. Is this what all "revolutionaries" before us felt before? I don't know, but I know it feels good."
I asked him about his take on the likeliness of the Muslim Brotherhood hijacking the revolution.
"The Ikhwan (the Muslim Brotherhood) are a potential threat and should be taken seriously, but an amended constitution can hedge against that to a pretty good extent. Also, it is erroneous to draw parallels between Egypt and Iran because we're very different religiously. Furthermore, the revolution will ideally set some ground rules and "lessons learned" that will uproot tendencies towards a blind regress into a theocracy. I also think that Egyptian secular intellectuals will have a much bigger influence now, and they are many. 
There were Ikhwan dudes hugging Christians in Tahrir today. There were Christians forming a human cordon around praying Muslims in Tahrir yesterday. It might just be the "heat of the moment", but it says something about the social fabric of Egypt."

I am reassured. By Hani's words, and by the amazing live pictures from Egypt today, when once again hundreds of thousands are flooding the streets. Al-Tahrir Square is absolutely packed with people who have no desire for violence. All they want is a free Egypt.

In the words of @hmikail on Twitter a moment ago:
"Tahrir Square is hosting the biggest freedom festival this planet has ever seen!"
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