“Marxist-Leninist” … like that he introduced himself before we entered the hall in which we would give a lecture in the Italian University of Pisa in Tuscany, central Italy.
I smiled while I shook hands with him. How many years have elapsed since I heard someone sound proud like that introducing himself. Despite my leftist background, I expected to hear from that Moroccan man, who was over seventy and still proud of his Marxism, an emotionless theoretical lecture on the impact of the Arab revolutions on people, like Moroccans, who are still striving to catch up with the Arab Spring.
I asked the head of the political science division at the university to postpone my speech so that my Moroccan Marxist friend could speak first before my speech about the Egyptian revolution and finally a few words by a Tunisian journalist.
The Marxist spoke proudly and enthusiastically about the effect of the Arab revolutions on Moroccan people. He asserted the role of Egypt as a “big brother” among Arab nations, even if that brother does not pay much attention to that role. Part of his address went as follows:
I am an engineer and I have lived during the rule of King Mohamed V, King Hassan II and now under the rule of King Mohamed IV. I was imprisoned during the regime of King Hassan II.
I know well the meaning of fear; when it penetrates in the soul of an Arab citizen and when that citizen mulls it over before uttering a word critical of a king, president or leader.
I do not know why the Makhzen [a word which means the Moroccan government] left me alive. I think I am lucky to live until the present to see how the Moroccans turned from subjects to citizens. The Moroccan king is still known by the law as the ‘prince of believers’ and the Moroccans as his subjects, not citizens.
A true revolution has occurred in the Arab world, because it toppled the fear from souls of youths, women and citizens. You can see anger, exhaustion and suspense in the eyes of citizens of Morocco or of other Arab countries but you can’t see fear.
What we saw in Egypt’s Tahrir Square brought back our pride in the Arab identity and confidence in our ability to accomplish much. It revealed that these regimes pretend to be strong and coherent but, in fact, they are vulnerable, corrupt and weak.
Many of you do not know the February 20 youth movement! It is an image of Egypt’s April 6 Movement, but in a broader way and it has more ability to present social and democratic programmes. The movement includes different generations who are united against fear and are confident that they can make a change.
Egyptians and Tunisians may need to move away from their countries to see the big picture clearly. I know well after my long life that the corruption, suppression and bids to please the west and America were not the most important and dangerous misdeeds of the Arab regimes over the past long decades. Instead it was making Arab citizens lose their self-confidence until their highest dream became to live docilely and not in prison.
This was what the Arab revolutions rejected. The policeman is no longer the master who should be obeyed. The ruler; president, king or prince, is no longer a demi-god. The Arab revolutions removed that mask and brought the ruler back to his natural image as a tyrannical and corrupt dictator who should be toppled and held to account.
The Islamists no longer have a pretext. They have assumed power but through their confusion they have become human beings with visions they attributed to the religion. They have to prove their visions and carry out their slogans that they have been chanting for decades.
The ‘democracy’ that was created by the Arab revolutions was the force through which the Islamists rose to power and it is also the democracy that is capable of replacing them if they fail.
Whether or not Islamists succeed in achieving social justice, Arab societies will benefit from either scenarios, as their claimed ‘magic solutions’ to problems will be proved one way or another.
Thanks to the Marxist-Leninist who made me think the matter over from that point of view. Yes the revolution broke the fear in our souls which is the most important thing, regardless of other details. He who breaks free if fear is able to achieve his dreams and true democracy.