If this doesn’t exemplify people power, then I’m not quite sure what does.
Some have called it a second revolution, yet the over 22 million Egyptians who attached their name to the Tamarod (Arabic for rebel) movement by signing their petition for Mohammad Mursi to step down and the overwhelming crowds that keep filling the squares of Egypt, starting from Tahrir Square, are only carrying on with the revolution of January 25, 2011. Revolution doesn’t come easy and on June 30, 2013 it is only its second chapter that has started to be written.
The Arab world stands in awe at the determination of the Egyptian people to cement their newly founded freedom, standing in the face of one dictatorship (that of the Muslim Brotherhood) only months after celebrating the overthrow of another (Hosni Mubarak and those who preceded him). Despite the peculiarities of individual Arab countries, it brings the rest of us to shame, showing us that Arabs truly underestimate their power if they indeed have the will for genuine, deep-seated change.
Egyptians in Tahrir are rebelling with a cause, if for nothing else, to restore the objectives that led them in 2011 to take to the streets in the first place, for freedom, democracy, social justice and equitable prosperity. Today’s popular movement has given the government an ultimatum, threatening civil disobedience if Mursi doesn’t step down.This has been slightly overshadowed by a similar ultimatum by Egypt’s armed forces, which many believe may lead to a coup d’état if Mursi doesn’t step down. It is possible that this powerful show of support by the army will give the will of the people the upper hand, forcing Mursi to give in to the crowds and leave. And even if he doesn’t, his presidency and the role of the Muslim Brotherhood have been severely undermined already. Having said that, is the Arab world destined to have to choose between political Islam and democracy and/or secular rule that is backed and protected by the military? In the years prior to 2011, the armed forces across the region had an interest in portraying the facade of secular rule, whether to stand in the face of Islamist (e.g. in Egypt), or to protect ruling minorities (e.g. in Syria). Today, the Egyptian armed forces stand behind the people they so harshly oppressed, calling for a more democratic and inclusive regime they so strongly opposed. The irony cannot be missed, but maybe in these still delicate times, there is a role for the army to play to cement transitions in so far as it doesn’t go back to its old days and ways. One would think they learned their lesson…
What is more exhilarating than the images from Tahrir are the testimonies of those who are there and those Egyptians witnessing their history unfolding from afar- with their hopes, their fears and their prospects for the future. “Tamarod has restored my Faith in the Revolution” and “We’re Stubborn as Hell” are two such examples I invite you all to read.
… وتحيا مصر
(and long live Egypt)