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Letters
Last Updated: 02/08/2011
Let the Revolution Grow!
Amr Abdallah

Dr Abdallah comments on the ongoing protests in Egypt, advising that demonstrators maintain a firm commitment to non-violence as a practical strategy to achieve much needed and revolutionary political change in the country.


Let the Revolution Grow!

I wake up everyday with one worry: Will the revolution fizzle out and lose steam? It has been over two weeks; many people must be tired, need to go back to their families, work and school, and some may be swayed by the official propaganda trying to convince them that what the government has done is more than enough, that the continuing protest and demonstrations are hurting the country, and more seriously, are motivated by foreign powers. In other words, if you participate in the demonstrations, you are a traitor!

But everyday, as I intently watch the news from Egypt, I realize that the determination of the Egyptian people is far more stronger than that of an ailing regime using all its vicious tactics to try to suck out the spirit of this revolution. Today, Tuesday 7 February 2011, we see new trends among the demonstrators. Among the significant trends is that more professional groups are joining such as university professors, journalists and government officials from some ministries.

The feeling I get today is that the number of people demonstrating in Cairo and other cities is growing immensely. According to some commentators on Aljazeera, the return yesterday and today of normal life to Cairo and other cities led to an increase of the number of demonstrators, who, after meeting at work and school, decided to join the demonstrations. I also believe that the amazingly peaceful, organized, disciplined, and festive mood of the demonstrations have assured people that it is safe to join them in such a historic moment of their national struggle.

I think that there is a new variable motivating this, and may actually change the direction of this revolution towards a quick departure of President Mubarak and the collapse of the entire regime. The new variable is the news we have heard yesterday and the day before that President Mubarak and his family’s wealth is estimated at $40-70 Billion (with B not M!). Even if this number was in the Millions, it would be outrageous. Of course it is too early to judge the accuracy of such information, but given that they were circulated by credible media sources in England and Europe, it is difficult not to at least ask for a response. But for an already angry, impoverished, relatively-deprived, made-to-be-anomic population, such news are sufficient to motivate them to take on to the streets and join in the demonstrations. This variable (Mubarak and his family’s wealth) may be the final blow to the regime; the lethal one that the regime has no protection against.

A group of twenty lawyers filed a petition with the Prosecutor General to investigate such allegations. Will the General Prosecutor take action on such allegations? May be he will, and may be not. This is an unprecedented allegation. At the same time, it will be difficult under such circumstances to brush off such allegations, or dismiss them as foreign plots to destabilize Egypt (the preferred official line against any problem facing the nation).

As of 10 am EST (5 pm in Egypt), I am optimistic that the revolution is growing and is on the right track to bring down the regime. I pray for its peaceful success. My advice to the leaders of this revolution is to consider nonviolent tactics in addition to street demonstrations. I worry that eventually people may get tired, and perhaps this is what the regime is banking on. The revolution needs to keep its voice heard using other forms. I think that the demonstrators, and official representatives of the opposition, should demand a secure space on official state TV and radio to voice their grievances, demands, and to tell their stories on a daily basis. I think that such approach may prove to be a serious test of the government’s sincerity. If a demand is made that the government allows space for the revolution’s voice on TV and radio, this will ensure that even if demonstrations on the street slow down, the voice will continue to be heard. I hope that the momentum that seems to continue, and grow, will not necessitate turning to official media to keep the voice heard. But at the same time I hope that the demonstrators will explore additional nonviolent means to continue the revolution, while making it realistic for people to participate.

In 1805, for the first time in their history, Egyptians took on to the streets of Cairo to demand the removal of the Ottoman appointed ruler, Khourshid Basha, to appoint in his stead their preferred leader Mohamed Ali, and to apply “constitutional” guarantees against unilateral tax impositions and other public decisions. Of 200,000 inhabitants of Cairo at that time, 40,000 women, men and children, participated in the demonstrations and a four-month siege of the seat of government, The Citadel. For four months, from May to August, Egyptians continued to demonstrate and take on to the streets until the Ottoman government agreed to the demands of people. How long will it take the grand daughters and sons of the 1805 revolutionists to fulfill their goals?

In peace, justice and freedom for Egypt and Egyptians.

Amr

Amr Abdallah, PhD., is Vice Rector of the University for Peace. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own, and do not necessarily represent the official position of the University for Peace.


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