In the past 18 days, I have followed the struggle of the Egyptian people. My interest is beyond the casual observer. I was born and raised in Egypt, although I am Greek/Lebanese, ethnically, my family felt Egyptian, first. I watched a peaceful, non-violent struggle against the old order of tyranny, patriarchy and darkness. A struggle for a democratic and just society. A society that respects the human rights of every Egyptian. I watched as Mubarak and Suleiman used every trick in the repertoire to break down the spirit of the Egyptian people: brute force, fear, then divisiveness, paternalism. None worked . The game book failed. The Egyptian people wrote their own playbook. It was time to remove the tyrants who replaced the old foreign colonials.
The Egyptian people through a non -violent, home-bred “balady”, no charismatic leader and non sectarian revolution, toppled the regime. Desperate voices from the outside kept asking Egyptians: ”Who do you want” ” Who are the leaders of the revolution?”. One after one the Egyptian people kept saying: ”We will see when we start the process of Democracy.” ”When we have parties; when we have free press.” ”We will see when we have a legitimate electoral process, constitution and we have choices.”
The idea of Egyptians having choices has alarmed many in the world: “What if they make the wrong choices?” This is where the hypocritical talk about enlightenment and democratic ideals fails. How dare you ask such questions? How dare you deserve an opinion? It is the choice of the Egyptian people. I heard an ex-American administration official giving advice on how we should influence the process for outcomes that are beneficial to American interests. No, thank you.
Authoritarian states are not stable.
I hear rumblings from the American right, that if not for the Bush Iraq war and occupation may have incited the people of Egypt towards Democracy. This type of thinking is on par with the Mubarak delusional thinking. Iraq was just another part of authoritarianism. Treating nations like children. A policy steeped in violence, force and brutality. Egypt was the polar opposite of what Iraq was and is in every form.
For now, the Egyptian people and the world need to celebrate the spirit and the strength of the Egyptians and the Tunisians.
Who is next journalists ask? The answer is simple, the people of the various nations get to decide who is next. Can the world really handle self- determination?
Just as the wall of fear fell in Egypt, I saw as many people around the world, and here in America particularly, realized the human face of the Islamic/Arabic enemy they have been slowly trained to fear. 18 days of seeing real Egyptian men, women and children. Listening to Egyptian voices beyond the caricatures that we were fed for years, broke down the fear of the demonized “Arabic Street”. For the first time, we went beyond the simplistic binaries that separate us and Americans got a chance to feel the humanity of the other. Now, how do we go to the next stage? People got to hear the human aspirations of the Egyptian people and gosh darn it, they are not so foreign, or scary. They are the same human desires and struggles.
Imagine how hard it will be for politicians to fool us if we break down the years of demonizing other human beings? It’s not easy to choose to oppress and kill people if you see the humanity you share.
This song is by a wonderful young Egyptian singer, Hamza Namira.
( I found the videos via 3arabawy)