Thursday, February 03, 2011

#Jan25: Egypt's revolution... How does it all start?!

It is the night of January 27, 2011. This post was written while the internet access was blocked all over Egypt. I know so many updates has taken place since then and I will write about my own perspective on these updates in following posts, but I found it really important to publish this post to document for the current revolution… God bless Egypt, God bless brave Egyptians.

Probably writing is the best way to utilize the vast free time of isolation which the government has given to us by blocking internet access and mobile internet and text message services all over Egypt. I think what we are witnessing in Egypt today is history in the making. The change in Egypt could change the entire history of the Middle East and North Africa region. 

For the third consecutive day, Egyptians are persistently expressing their anger and calling for change. The Egyptian Police Day, January 25, 2011 will be remembered forever as People Day; the day when Egyptians broke the barriers of fear and had their voices heard. Inspired by the Tunisian revolution that put an end to Ben Ali’s dictatorship of 23 years, tens of thousands of ordinary citizens and young activists rallied in streets calling for change, democracy, freedom, and justice. Despite the exaggerated use of violence in Suez as a result of killing four citizens by security forces during clashes, the majority of protesters all over Egypt are still nonviolent so far.

The protests in urban and rural districts of Cairo, Alexandria, Suez, and Upper Egypt were not organized by the well-known opposition elite and intellectuals or by the popular leaders of opposition political parties and groups. They were created by young cyber activists who organized themselves via Facebook and Twitter. Khaled Said group on Facebook played a great role in creating the event, calling for the protests, and distributing online leaflets of instructions. The Khaled Said group was created by young cyber activists few months ago in protest to beating Khaled Said, 28, to death by policemen in Alexandria. In parallel with the street protests, there was a virtual fight on the Internet. The government blocked Twitter since the evening of January 25th till the night of January 26. Then returned back to blocking Facebook and Twitter entirely on the evening of January 27 and announced the official banning of some internet services in Egypt on Friday.

Elbaradie has returned to Egypt after being absent for so long and expressed his willingness to lead the protests. However, his offer was not met by any welcome from the young people. They think he chose to be left behind from the beginning and it is not appropriate of him to show up now. As soon as I heard the news of Elbaradie’s offer, I ran a quick survey via my Facebook and Twitter pages asking people if they would like to see Elbaradie as a president in case the upheaval succeeded in bringing Mubarak down. None of the responses were positive. Most of the responses were against his offer to lead to protests and refused entirely the idea of having him as president, while the a smaller portion of responses asserted that we should focus only on what we are doing right now and keep argument over Elbaradie legitimacy to a later time. “We welcome Elbaradie to participate in Friday demonstrations as a citizen but not as a leader,” one of my followers in Twitter responded to my question. It was interesting to know through my little survey that by his absence Elbaradie has a lost a lot of his former supporters.

Elbaradie is not the only opposition elite who wants to hijack people’s protest for his own favor. The Muslim Brotherhood are doing the same thing for the same reason; showing off. The MB announced that they will participate in the protests that are planned after noon prayers on Friday (tomorrow). It is noteworthy that the regime has accused the MB of practicing violence in the protests that ran in the past two days, while in fact this is not true at all. The MB members who participated in the last two days protests did not represent any thing except their own selves as Egyptian citizens. But tomorrow, unfortunately, they will play a different role.

The most encouraging feature of the current upheaval is the massive participation of women; not only the young educated women who uses the internet but also the grassroots uneducated older women from rural cities. This is a proof that the protests that were initially driven by Egyptian internet users is turning perfectly into a real on-ground upheaval composed of Egyptians from different age groups and social backgrounds and that is exactly the reason why the protests are so strong and persistent so far.

Tomorrow, Friday, is believed to be the definite day for the future of Egypt. The ball is now in the court of the regime. They have the choice either to spill gas on the fire by using extreme violence against protesters to scare them away or to listen to the people and do what they want. Actually, the regime is in a big dilemma; both options are bad for them. However, the less risky option for the regime is to listen to the people and have their demands fulfilled. The option of using violence would only lead to more violence, more chaos, and disaster. The people has been waiting for the regime, particularly President Mubarak, to show up and speak to them and do his best to have their requests made. After all, that is what presidents do – i.e., take care of their people and satisfy their needs. I hope Mubarak’s prejudice won’t make him underestimate the situation and look at the massive protests as a ridiculous act of some silly kids who would run away if the guns are pointed towards their chests! It is much bigger than that. It is a real upheaval of angry people who are fed up with government’s corruption and deteriorating economic situation.

* Wait for more views and ideas on the following posts.