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Revolution Dishonoured

To understand today’s pungent pain you must absorb the degree of yesterday’s hope

Amr Khalifa
Amr Khalifa

Eight hundred and sixty two souls, the official count of the dead of the 25 January Revolution, are in divine hands now. In a unified voice they ask: we died for this? An SUV carried Gamal and Alaa Mubarak for a sumptuous welcome home dinner, a mere sixty hours before the fourth anniversary of a revolution that time has proven to be more uprising and less revolution.

The fact that the children of a man who slowly murdered a nation of millions, usurped much of its wealth, and abused the power of the presidential office spent last night in regal beds, while honourable revolutionaries slept in unheated prison cells, speaks volumes of an uprising gone astray. Where unencumbered dreams walked the asphalt of Tahrir Square now only tanks of the true rulers of Egypt are to be found.

This is the dark reality. This is the Egypt of Tantawi, SCAF, Morsi, Adly and Al-Sisi. Little did anyone know we would leave one nightmare behind only to have the dream of revolution besmirched with the paint brush of Machiavellian manoeuvres. To tell the tale of a revolution dishonoured is a painful necessity on the road to political maturity.

Many analysts, both Egyptian and western, have penned numerous accounts attempting to deconstruct the failure of the Egyptian uprising, but what some gain intellectually they lack in emotional mapping of the Egyptian Zeitgeist. To understand today’s pungent pain you must absorb the degree of yesterday’s hope.

For years preceding the historic day, there had been demonstrations, some by Kefaya yet others by 6 April, but at their zenith they generally didn’t exceed hundreds and were usually counted in the tens. But the call for 25 January had been well advertised online, and well organised on the ground by experienced activists and a strong network of alliances and contacts. Nonetheless, expectations, even those injected by passion and anger, couldn’t fathom anything more than a few thousand demonstrators materialising.

But uprisings are convective thunderstorms of anger and emotion and divorce reason on the way to faceoff with the very system enslaving the down trodden. As the sun found its way to its centre point in the sky, tens became hundreds instantly and to the surprise of all, not least of all the government and the uprising’s organisers, hundreds quickly became thousands. On that day, despite government’s best efforts to the contrary, the deaf would hear the moans of tens of thousands marching in Cairo to denounce everything about a system pressing against their proverbial chests for thirty years. This time, those in the balconies, watching the demonstrations grow in size and power, and descended to the streets. Men, women, girls and boys, activists and laymen alike, stood chest to chest with the regime’s brutal security apparatus on 28 January, Friday of Anger.

One stood and the other ran. Doing the running were those possessing the guns. No moment captured the breaking of the mold of stultifying fear more than when a young man stood, singlehandedly, chest puffed out, against a behemoth of a police APC, armed with a powerful water cannon, to protect hundreds of fellow protesters running behind him. In the background of the video recording, you could hear an Egyptian couple, standing in their balcony, predicting the coming attack by tens of police led by that APC. When the realisation that this noble fellow Egyptian was willing to surrender his life in an instant for them hit home, they exploded: “Brave one, what a man…what a man.” The flower of uprising was watered with the blood of many martyrs on that day.

There would be many other face-offs with the regime in the days to come, most famously an iconic faceoff on Cairo’s most famous bridge Qasr Al-Nil and a few days later the Battle of the Camels. The dead would fall and so would the injured by the thousands, but the people rose. When an ashen Omar Suleiman, Egyptian VP at the time, would announce, in the evening of 11 February 2011, the departure of Hosni Mubarak, the sigh of relief and the sounds of celebration could, seemingly, be heard across the oceans.

The celebration heard and seen around the world would not last. By the time Mohamed Morsi would rise to power, a mere 16 months later, Egyptians, and particularly the revolutionary class, would be doused with barrels of ice cold, realpolitik, water. First came the many clashes with the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) leaving many dead and injured, a phase that saw many Egyptians in the vice of military trials. Followed, the depression creating reality of an Islamist reign that, four months later, showed cynically dictatorial instinct when Morsi attempted to arrest power from a highly questionable judiciary through a supra-constitutional coup.

Ultimately, this led to 30 June, initially thought by many to be a revolution to rid Egypt of Muslim Brotherhood rule, a coup that gave Egypt more martyrs in one day, nearly a thousand, than an uprising of 18 days would. Long before Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi would come to power, within the space of 20 weeks, 2665 Egyptians would be dead, according to the highly respected Wiki Thawra.

Months into the Al-Sisi reign, many things are clear but, chief among them, is the fact that Al-Sisi’s public smile is but a veneer to a draconian instinct that has seen torture and rape return as a methodology of communication with many dissidents. As of nine months ago, the number of political prisoners had exploded to over 41,000, far outpacing statistics for the Mubarak 30 year tenure, and has, in all likelihood, risen since. The very protests that brought back the army to rule, embodied by Al-Sisi, are now illegal by a sinister protest law meant to combat all opposition, both Islamist and ‘liberal’.

Indeed, many of the very same activists like Alaa Abdel Fatah, Ahmed Douma and Ahmed Maher call prison home now. The pretence has been eschewed, and in a shock to the system of many revolutionaries from varying political stripes, the counter revolution has come to the presidential palace with bayonet atop its shoulder; no less stunningly, with massive public support.

In more traditional parts of Egypt, families do not accept condolences or hold a funeral until the blood of their kin has been vanquished. There can be no doubt that the ruling cadre has gone about systematically killing any semblance of the spirit of 25 January. But rationale dictates that revenge is not the solution. The Middle East is strewn with nations exploding with violence and imploding with division, sectarian and otherwise, and it is a person with more than their share of stupidity who believes that violence is the answer.

But truer words cannot be spoken: the current situation is an untenable one. Should Al-Sisi continue to press his army boot against the chest of a people, full of hope four years ago, it will not take another four years before another explosion ensues. The problem, from this vantage point, is two-fold. On one side of the analytical ledger is a leadership devoid of an ability to learn from history, both short and long term.

On the other, is an opposition that is both disjointed, in jail and highly divided with Islamists on one side and the 25 January camp on the other. As we shed a tear for those who perished for a dream that has turned nightmarishly dark, those in the revolutionary camp, must awaken from the state of shock and revolutionary fatigue that has enveloped them.

In blunt terms, the alternative, without political solutions, organisation and a semblance of unity will not merely be military rule, blood and dictatorship. When you look back fondly, in coming days, understand that what has passed is a mere hand grenade to the future’s hydrogen bomb of anger percolating beneath the mirage of a stable veneer.

Amr Khalifa is a freelance journalist recently published by Ahram Online, Tahrir Institute, Muftah and Mada Masr

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  • Learned_Goyim

    Another informative and well delivered piece by Amr.
    I would respectfully however diverge on two points.
    Firstly, Morsi’s decree to sidestep the judiciary which was declared unconstitutional by the high court was not in my opinion the reason for his demise. As you have stated, the judiciary has been corrupt all along, and their independence has been questioned and still is to this day. Having said that, the Mubarak cronies who should have been removed from positions of power, connived to align themselves with the revolutionaries in the wholly anti-Morsi crusade of sorts. The decree was the cause celebre used by the disingenuous coup apologists. Morsi was perhaps not the best post-revolution choice to lead Egypt, but he was the choice Egyptian people made at the ballots. Perhaps if the Egyptian electorate were more educated, the choices and outcomes could have been different. Which brings me to my second point. namely about the future. I wish I were more optimistic but the reality indicates otherwise. For democracy to occur, folks needs to be conscious not only of their deprivation the agents behind it. South Korea and Brazil transition from military dictatorship to democratic and economic power houses was only doable when the military allowed for educational reforms and economic participation.
    I can’t see Sissy’s regime letting go anytime soon. They would be naive to do so with so much blood on their hands for fear of retributions. The fact that the army controls a big chunk of Egypt’s GDP makes it even harder.Sissy and company, backed by a corrupt media, are here to stay as long as average Egyptians still believe in the myth that “the Army and the People are One”!

    • Boss

      You and amr belong together! Two People who does not care more than writing about the Egyptian people. You do not represent the Egyptian people. You are two puny voices that scream for attention!

      • Learned_Goyim

        It’s an honour to be in the company of brave voices, which I reckon there aren’t too many among you sheeple out there.
        As Mark Twain wisely put it: Go to heaven for the climate, to hell for the company. ( you may need to google that one)
        One more thing: be the “Boss” of your English. it’s kinda sucks!

        • B

          If you like to be compared with a dick is good thing !?

          • Learned_Goyim

            Even for trolls, proper English is essential. Take some time to work on that skill, you troll-wannabe!

          • B

            It’s enough to make you understand pea brain !!

          • Learned_Goyim

            I can’t argue with that. You won!
            Just like the great Mark Twain warned” Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience” 😉

  • George

    I am most pleased with your piece. I am most pleased to see your ignominous defeat and that of your friends described by your own pen.

    And the best part is: There is nothing you can do about it ! Absolutely nothing.

    Deal with it : Surrender unconditionnally so that Egypt can at long last live .

    • Mark

      Ukraine, Burkina Faso, Tunisia, Mubarak, and countless cases say otherwise. Obscurantism cannot defeat progress. Reaction is itself destined to irrevocal and exceedingly ignominious defeat. See Chile, Brazil, Nepal, Argentina, etc al.

    • Learned_Goyim

      “Surrender unconditionnally so that Egypt can at long last live”

      Boot-licker rehearsed warning.
      Winning one battle is not winning the war, you amateur!

    • Sisi is a terrorist

      Disgusting pro-regime trash can will never be able to face the souls of Khaled Said or Shaimaa al-Sabbagh. Those who sacrifice their humanity have already lost and forfeit any prospect of victory.

    • Libya is winning against Sisi

      Misrata is giving Sisi a right ass kicking in Libya. Sisi’s terrorism in Libya has not just failed, it has also made the scumbag one of the most hated regional terrorists from the viewpoint of Libyans.
      Egyptian terrorism is not wanted in Libya.

      • Hate Lybia

        Your little dirty dog! If it had not been for Al-Sisi you would have been sitting as the dirty little beggar you are, here on Egypt’s streets ya Kosseomak!!

        • Egypt has become a cesspool

          Shut up racist moron. You have a dumbass hatred of every country in the world.

          Your stupid, stone age ilk is nothing compared to the superior Libyan people.

          Tell for you barbaric terror proxies to go back to the primitive hovel in which you reside. Patriots driven Egyptian exported terror trash to the margins and your idiot president has failed to subjugate Libya.
          Now that Saudi money is drying up, don’t count on your Wahhabi loon friends to help your terror allies in Libya.

          • Hate Lybia

            Libya is nothing but a retard country with oil.!! You have nothing!! But I have work for you. You can come and wash my Dick!! Maybe Bring your mother!

          • Egypt has become a cesspool

            Libya is much less retarded than Egypt. Egypt has even less. Egypt is much worse off than almost any country in the Maghreb. Tunisia? Light years ahead of Egypt. Morocco? Same thing. Even Algeria is heading in a better direction right now. Egyptian supremacism is a joke.
            Egyptian sponsorship of terrorism is disgusting.

            No one cares about your genitalia.

          • Egypt has become a cesspool

            Libya is separate from Egypt, deal with it you stupid little Egyptian retard.
            Your stupidity, your problem.
            Egyptian terrorism has failed to promote Egyptian interests throughout the region.
            Egyptians are not a master race, idiot. Deal with it.
            Sisi’s ass was whupped in Libya. His plan failed. Saudi Arabia is tightening the leash, too.

          • Hate Lybia

            Hahahaha…What do Lybia have? Your Government is hiding in a hotel and the terrorists have control over your oil. You deserved Gaddafi, he knew how he would trample on you!!! Your mothers are Dogs! And all of you are sons of Bitches!!!

          • Egypt has become a cesspool.

            Egypt has nothing. It has a stupid regime that is becoming increasingly hated by its population because it is unresponsive to the popular will.
            Tripoli, Misrata, Gharyan, and the cities of Libya are in better shape than any place ruled by Egyptian Nazis.
            Morsi, despite his deep flaws, was actually better than you retards deserved. The liberals like Sabahi and Hamzawy are too good for idiots like you.
            Cry tears for your dead Qadaffi terrorist. He was defeated and Sisi too is getting defeated in Libya.
            The Libyan people deserve, democracy while you do not, Egyptian Nazi. Your are Hitler’s heir. Your idiotic genocidal rhetoric is the same.
            Even the worst Libyan Prime Minister is better than genocidal Egyptian Nazi filth.

          • Boss

            Hahahahahaha… I feel sorry for you stupid little Lybian retard! Wait and see!! EGYPT will NEVER fall !!
            God bless Al-Sisi and the proud & mighty Armed Forces of EGYPT !!!

          • U

            I hope Heftar level you to the ground !!

          • Egypt has become a cesspool

            The Amazigh, Misrata, Tripolitanians, Zawiyans, and countless others have tossed the Egyptian Haftar back to his hole. The Egyptian plan to make Haftar the dictator of Libya was an idiotic scheme. Sisi got his ass kicked. Deal with it and go away. Fuck you and fuck your Qadaffi worship.
            Hopefully the Democratic Current and others whup your ass along with Sisi and other trash. Hopefully Egyptian liberals will crush Egyptian Nazis. Hell, the MB whooping you would be better than your current idiotic terrorist leaders.

          • Hate Lybia

            God bless Heftar !!!

          • Egypt has become a cesspool

            The Egyptian Socialist Popular Alliance is far more blessed than Haftar. Haftar could only dream of being the kind of human being that el-Sabbagh was.
            If you hate Libyans and believe they have mental defects, they you must believe that Haftar is “retarded.” Your Nazi ideology contradicts itself.
            Sisi was defeated in Libya and failed to export Egyptian Nazism.

          • Sisi is a terrorist

            Sisi and other Mubarak loving terrorists learned their lessons about messing with Berber lands. Berbers can and will kick your ass.

  • AzzaSedky

    On the eve of January 25th, my book “Cairo Rewind, the first two years of Egypt’s Revolution: 2011-2013” is being made public.

    Click on the icon of the book to access the pdf http://azzasedky.typepad.com/egypt/

    • Fein

      Azza, do you do anything else but go around to news sites promoting yourself? I’ve never seen you say anything of substance for the past few years except to say,”Go to my website.” What a loser.

      • George

        Are you aware there is an information war where Egypt’s existence is at stake ?

        Azza Sedky is one of the most dedicated, inspiring and compelling Egypt’s defender in that war.

        Once we lose that information war, God forbid, people die. Thanks to Azza Sedky and the likes of her that will never happen.

        Tahya masr !

  • Amira El Fekki

    Great piece. meaningful description of the hopes that got crushed. It is so sad that some people take joy in others’ grief. Those who supported Jan 25 were too humble to sympathize with the Brotherhood in Raba’a. The fact that some accuse activists of treason and other horrible voices of the regime speaking is disgusting.

    • B

      Amira El-Fekki = Whore!!!!

      • Learned_Goyim

        That’s all you have to say low-life! Your rebuttal to her valid point is your misogynist insult!!! Do you call your sister or mother a whore when she disagrees with you on any matter?

  • Reda Sobky

    Morbid and narcissistic and glorifying self referential “revolutionaries” who at no point commanded majority support in anything but overthrowing the despot. Beyond that there was nothing…no ideology no structure no thinking and no doing, really. Yes, there was a contribution to ending the status quo but as a reactive force rather than a creative force. The level of democratic change in Egypt is remarkable now whatever your lament regarding your friends. It could be thought that the resonance of the message of the end of the that era coming about was not accompanied by a vision capable of gathering the people to work for a different and better future of the society. That is now an electoral process and not a street process. Your negativity over the situation betrays a personal disappointment which I am sorry to see. What I see is an Egypt poised to self regulate and upgrade to a higher level of functioning, for the first time in a lifetime and it saddens me to see your unwillingness to embrace it, this is how change happens, messy at times but when productive can change the life of a nation.

    • Learned_Goyim

      “The level of democratic change in Egypt is remarkable now”

      With a statement like yours, you’re in a very fragile position to be accusing people of ignoring the “transformative democratic shift taking hold of Egypt” today.
      Try this: Go on a demonstration tomorrow, if you survive without being arrested, beaten, harassed or ridiculed, then you prevail and hats off to you.
      If otherwise, perhaps it’s time to wean off from whatever hallucinogens you’re on.
      Fair deal, I think. Isn’t it?

      • Reda Sobky

        There is an election in process now. This is the time for revolutionaries to seize the day and organize the masses they claim to represent and unite them with the youth vote and proceed to implement the policies they hold near and dear. Egypt as a state is threatened by enemies “foreign and domestic” who do not hesitate to destroy humans and property as a way to power and the society has an unbeatable consensus to defeat this threat. Getting oneself mixed up in this crossfire by inappropriate timing and behavior is part of the pushing of the envelope that those who want change now tend to do but now is not the time for it, now is the time for participation in the process and help maximize its integrity. Please be reminded that Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus during the US civil war.

        • Learned_Goyim

          The fact that you’re equating Abe to Sissy is further proof of your detachment from your own people’s struggle for bread and freedom.

          Again, you’re using the same old tired politics of fear to keep people under the boot.
          Remember, this is the same army which has been “protecting” Egyptians from their enemies. I hate to break it to you but it is the same army which lost every single war it engaged in, including that of 73. Crossing one section of the canal was certainly an achievement with that battle won, but the war as a whole was lost when you have enemy forces counter attack and getting as close as 100 km from Cairo. Had it not been for the save-face ceasefire, Cairo would have had fallen.
          I know that most people will be shocked to hear this, but the myth cultivated by the retreating Egyptian Army is that of a feel-good story.
          To this effect, bridges, towns and museums were erected and named 6 October to sell the myth to the masses. So instead of learning from the Japanese or German experiences and focus on a democratic transition with a focus on rebuilding the economy, the Egyptian leadership believed its own lies and felt embolded by them, and went on to give the army carte-blanche in every aspect of the Egyptian life. Close to 40 % of the GDP is military controlled. The role of the army is to defend the border and stays in its barracks in time of peace. Has anyone who believes in the inflated grandeur of the Egyptian military wondered why Sadat had to sign a peace deal to regain Sinai? Countries who win wars gain territories, countries who lose wars wars lose territories. Look it up.
          My goal here is not to upset goodhearted Egyptians but to show myopic boot-lickers out there that the foundation of your military dictatorship has at its root a baseless claim.

  • Tariq

    meanwhile Shaimaa al-Sabbagh is still dead thanks to the police at Taalat Harb

  • SoleimanElHakim

    Dear Amr,

    Please read history carefully, you are a public writer and your knowledge will influence history. No revolution succeeds without world power input.

    Revolutions never succeed without a world power paying from the outside to gain influence. The Russian revolution was paid for by Germany to ease pressure on Eastern front during WWI, American revolution paid for by Louis XVI to battle British, French revolutions by British funded Jacobin, Brotherhood paid for by Nazi to battle British WWII, Ottoman power paid for Egypt Zagloul rebellion to undermine British WWI, Lawrence of Arabia financed Arab Revolt by British to hit Ottoman eastern front, Cuban Revolution by Soviet to gain influence in South America, Afghanistan Mojhadin by U.S to fight Soviets, and so on.

    A little history read and a look under the veneer of the fallacy of “Revolutionary Puritanism” and its false glory, may save the blood of youth not educated in critical thinking. Revolution and armed struggle, mostly paid for by external forces, need to be dissociated from popular internal discontent.

    Unbiased reading from your own history; for example, Mohamed Ali maneuvers and use of the world powers of the time to gain access to the seat of power for himself and descendant. The fallacy of pure revolution was brought to the poorly educated mind by the armed faction of the brotherhood who overthrew King Farouk, gained power, and then indulged fratricides against their political Brothers.

    Your responsibility is read history with critical thinking and study the 25th of January in the context of: world power and geopolitical influence.

    Please also read about how important it is to chose sides: the Ottoman empire chose the losing side in WWI and lost while Ibn Saud forged the longest lasting alliance with the West and broughtShaimaa el-Sabagh wealth and stability to the people of the Arabian Peninsula.

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