- Reform Issues
- June 28, 2011
- 31 minutes read
Panel Discusses the Spirit of the Egyptian Revolution and Methods to Keep it Alive
As protestors in Cairo’s Tahrir Square made the decision to end a dictatorial rule and peacefully overthrow the 30 year reign of oppression, tyranny and violence; the world looked on. Undoubtedly Egypt’s revolution will permanently change the way of life that Egyptians have come to hate, instilling in them a more positive outlook into the future.
A recent panel discussion and dialogue on a document titled "The Spirit of the Egyptian Revolution" which was agreed upon by numerous political factions including members from the Muslim Brotherhood took place.
A delegation from different political factions, which included Freedom and Justice Party leader Dr. Mohamed Morsy, Ikhwanweb editor Khaled Hamza, AUC Professor and Leftist activist Samer Soliman, Farida Mortada, Seif Khawanky, Karim Kasim, Sondos Assem and Ammar Elbeltagy, took part in the discussion which highlighted that if political history teaches us anything it is without doubt the truth of the adage, ‘unity is strength’ where the study cites was evident during the historical people’s revolution. The values and lessons learnt from the revolution’s spirit in the now famous Tahrir Square emphasize that without doubt the revolution’s success came about as a result of the people’s decision to abandon differences and adopt solidarity for the well being of a nation and its people.
The document "The Spirit of the Egyptian Revolution" is a public document on the values of the revolution of January 25th that gathered all Egyptians in one area,Tahrir Square, under one flag, the Egyptian flag, and for one goal, toppling the regime, within the eighteen days from January 25th till February 11th.
It is understood that the ethics of Tahrir and the values of Tahrir are no longer as binding for the whole array of Egyptians in the period after leaving the square; those differences have emerged in many subsequent practices, both between those who attended and lived the experience in Tahrir and those who did not.
Perhaps it is important to mention that those who graduated – so to speak – from the School of Tahrir Square could not induce much impact, or did not make the due effort to influence the ones who did not engage themselves in this experience, and to those who attended but did not abide by the values of the square in their lives and daily practices after the Tahrir experience.
However, this document is not aimed to bring us back to the fantasy status and is not meant to take us towards a non-realistic extension of the extraordinary humanistic situation of the revolutionary dream in our souls. On the contrary, this document is simply attempting to document what happened in Tahrir Square in human terms, and to record and represent the system of values that prevailed during the period of the revolution, so that these values may become a reference for the generations that are yet to be born, and to be an incentive for the current generations who were present during the revolution.
It should be noted that on Sunday June 26, the document in its current form passed through lengthy discussions and successive formulations through the participation of representatives of various actors in the Egyptian political spectrum and the Egyptian community before it reached its current form.
For any other questions please contact: [email protected]
"The Spirit of the Egyptian Revolution"
We – the working group on the document "The Spirit of the Egyptian Revolution" – represent an independent group of Egyptians people concerned with the future of this country. We come from all across the political, social and intellectual spectrum. We not only come together for the future, progress and development of Egypt, but also for the emphasis on the purity and the innate spontaneous and proactive nature of those people who took it to Tahrir Square and other squares and places all over Egypt, all demanding dignity and rights in the most creative and spontaneous way.
We wish that the document is received with attention by you, and we welcome any ideas and suggestions to help in the dissemination and the adoption of the document so that it may be a reference that would generally help us all to start heading forward in building awareness throughout Egypt regarding what happened in Tahrir Square. Furthermore this would allow us to sow the seeds of these values in the soil of our Egyptian community, so that they would further develop in the upcoming years as inherent values to the nation enabling us to change the present and formulate the future for this country and this nation.
The Spirit of the Egyptian Revolution
This document is one that we write for ourselves as revolutionaries and for our children are yet to be born. We write it for ourselves lest we forget. The years will pass and will separate us from this historical event which brought people together; years may separate us and we will eventually split into different parties and political groups, and certainly we will need to recall the spirit of the revolution when the need comes to assemble and to seek a national consensus on public objectives.
We write this document for our children because they will need to turn and revolt or start their own revolutions and rebellions demanding a better future. The progress has no limits, because there is always something better that lies beyond our present moment.
Why have our people succeeded in 2011 in getting rid of the tyranny and humiliation? Why did they not succeed before this date? What is behind "the Spirit of the Egyptian revolution" The people who lived subjected to humiliation under Mubarak’s regime are the same people who revolted in January 2011 to demand freedom. What has changed in the Egyptian people, and what are the features of those new people who deserved this victory?
The rulers of tyranny and repression had bet on the calm and forgiving character of the Egyptian people. But they forgot that the calm and forgiving nature when pushed will turn into a complete and ferocious anger. In January and February 2011, people rose after being calm and forgiving for so long. The group, which sparked the revolution, succeeded in igniting the anger inherent among the people, and they directed this anger to become focused on the political power and the ruling regime responsible for the deterioration of the country.
This anger however was not wild as it had been characterized with responsibility and wisdom away from destruction and violence, with only a few exceptions.
The Egyptians’ anger was accompanied with a desire to show a spirit of responsibility; a spirit that was illustrated in the images of the rebelling revolutionaries who were cleaning the square and removing the garbage along with the others who were demonstrating. This is the lesson of the revolution. Sometimes anger is a powerful way for unleashing the positive and creative energy when it follows the correct path linked to positive action to get rid of injustice and oppression.
Insurgency succeeds if associated with the spirit of responsibility; confirming that insurgency is not an end in itself, but it is sought to remedy a wrongful situation and build a better future.
As the energy of anger over injustice and humiliation gained momentum and called for positive action, the sentiment of the oppressed, whose humanity and rights has been subject to violation by their oppressive rulers and their coercive devices, has been basically seeking to see the punishment imposed on their oppressors. This strong sentiment was certainly an unleashed power that contributed to the tremendous defeat of oppression.
Of course, the desire for retribution may be too far and tends to take a retaliatory nature, and thus, this tendency must be resisted at this point. Yet, any revolution would only succeed if it contains a strong desire to retribution, even if it carried in the revolution’s womb some excesses. The oppressed when rising up and demanding punishment for the wrongdoing oppressor should not find any guilt in doing so and never feel tainted.
Faith and Redemption
The Egyptian people paid their blood, sweat and wealth for their freedom and dignity. Those who faced with their bare chests the bullets of repression and those who battled the criminals at the "Battle of the Camel" and defeated them, they all stand witness that there has been a powerful spiritual energy that moved the scene. It is faith. Each of us has his / her own faith; everyone in the revolution has put his / her own faith and spiritual energy to serve the cause of this country.
Yet, the faith that prevailed is the one that is inclusive for all people and that which is based on the belief in the ability of the people to defeat any individual or institution if they are united and insisting on their goal. This belief is what created a state of redemption that seized the Egyptians at the moment of revolution, where many people wanted to die martyrs for the cause they were struggling for.
Ambition and Dream
Before January 25, the bar was low when it comes to the ambitions of most of the Egyptians, and the dream for a better future was an illusion, with the exception of some small groups that wanted change and insisted that the salvation would be through entirely removing the Mubarak regime.
The dream of change in Egypt was often no more than having a slogan on some partial reform. Thus, some thought that reform will only be achieved through cooperation with the existing regime, because there is no way to remove it. This low ceiling had been surpassed before the revolution and during it, typically by the ambitious individuals who were able to raise the ceiling of the collective ambition to the highest extent, that is to demand overthrowing the regime itself and to call for a new state based on human rights and justice and to dream of making Egypt a superpower in this world.
This is the lesson of the revolution. It is the fact that asking for too much would enable you to achieve as much, while demanding only a little, you might not get anything at all.
The Individualism that has Reconciled with the Collectivism
The revolution would not have succeeded without the creative pairing between individualism and collectivism, between the acceptance of the individual’s right to express one’s self, being proud of one’s self and his or her individual claim, and the right of the group to voice the group’s interests where individuals adhere to the collective interests as well. The revolution did not succeed because we had forgotten ourselves, and we suppressed ourselves, but it was successful because it created a delicate compatibility between the interests of the individual and those of the group.
The revolution triumphed because every Egyptian brought his / her personality, skills and interests to serve the revolution and applied these elements through teamwork. The revolution has created the opportunity and space for each one of us to express his / her opinion freely, and write his / her own slogan and carry it in the street. The individual participates and engages in a collective action when he or she feels that this action is a collective one that serves what every individual human being deserves. Free individuals who are proud of themselves are the cornerstones of any collective action.
It is true that Egypt’s revolution did not have a leader or a leading party; however it had hundreds and even thousands of leaders in the field. They played important roles behind the scenes, especially in igniting the revolution. Here was the key to victory. There was no one person which the revolution depended. There was no exceptional extraordinary leader whom the people are waiting for his sign in order to move and act. The leader would inevitably become the person who pushes his people to retire sooner or later as he takes over and holds all reins in his hand.
Still, the Egyptian revolution created new models of effective leaderships that were capable of starting initiatives and progressing to lead the masses, without occupying the whole scene, and without making the people only flocking behind.
The defeated regime used to describe its rivals as "adventurers". In the pre-revolution culture, the adventure was something that is blameworthy. The widespread advice was “keep a low profile and make no trouble", that was the highest value, and it was adopted by the regime in relation to the world in the Egyptian foreign affairs. The regime actually tried to plant this concept in the hearts of the Egyptians.
Stability has always been the slogan of the regime. The argument was that "the regime is always stable." Therefore, the revolution restored the confidence in the value of adventure. Politics is not some arithmetic equation that we can know its result beforehand. It is true that the work of politics is basically organization and planning, but it always holds surprises. The freedom revolution in Egypt succeeded because it accepted the principle of adventure and risk.
Communicating with the World and the Arab Region
The Tunisian Revolution inspired the Egyptian one. The Egyptian revolution had borrowed the motto of the Tunisians. The slogan "the people want to overthrow the regime" has been used before in Tunisia and it became heard in the squares of Egypt. The groups that sparked the revolution have also quoted other people’s experiences in their revolution against tyranny, especially the Eastern Europeans. The Egyptian people have the right to learn from others, and they also have the duty of teaching others. People share experiences in spite of the fact that all nations and human groups possess certain distinctions and uniqueness.
The revolution has removed the false theories which claimed that Egypt is different from the rest of the world, and that revolution will never come to Egypt, as well as the stagnant claims that the laws of social and political change that apply to other communities do not apply to Egypt.
Openness to Others and Acceptance of Differences
In the revolution of freedom, the Egyptian people did not only overcome their fear of the regime and repression, but they also overcame their fear of themselves and each other. The stability of the Mubarak regime was based on intimidation and sedition by groups of people hating and fighting with other groups; the regime used to frighten the rich from the poor, Christians from Muslims, create disputes between the generations, the women and the men and so forth.
The revolution did not succeed only because we ripped down the walls that separate us. In fact people are starting to get to know each other, discovering that what had been imagined as differences amongst them were mostly illusions stemming from isolation and lack of appetite for knowledge about the other. The people have succeeded in the revolution to demolish the walls that separated them from each other. This is the lesson of the revolution. We are one people that should know one another and continue to do so; after all the human being is an enemy to what he / she is ignorant about.
Identifying the other does not lead to good communication with him unless the interaction and the mutual contact takes place on the ground of respect and equality between human beings. In the revolution of freedom in Egypt, equality was the sacrosanct principle practiced by everyone, with no preference for a man to a woman, for a Muslim to a non-Muslim or for a rich person to a poor one. We are all one, we are all even. None of us is preferred over the other. The only criterion is the sustained action to serve others in the framework of the collective liberation and renaissance for Egypt.
With the basis of equality and respect, all arrays of people did all they could to participate? In the revolution, Egypt discovered its true reality; Egypt is a multi-diversified entity made of men and women, Muslims and non Muslims, young and old, middle class and working class all existing and coexisting together, with no attempt to expel or isolate any entity. It is civil to accept others and respect them despite differences. Without this acceptance there would be no revolution in Egypt.
The revolution has acquired the Egyptian character regarding the participation of all classes of people in it. Pictures of women in the scene stand as evidence that it was not a revolution of men. Also, images of Christians in the revolution stand as evidence that it was not a revolution of Muslims only. The revolution was by all the people of Egypt. This is the lesson of the revolution; the inevitability to make room for all sectors and groups of the people to participate since this is the only way to give national character to any collective action.
These are some of the values through which the Egyptian people were able to acquire in this glorious revolution. These are the values ??which the Egyptians did not import and did not create out of nothing. These were the values implanted deeply and strongly in the people, and the job was to apply them for the salvation of the nation from the tyrannical regime. These values and characteristics of the revolution must remain alive in us so that we may recall them in time of need.
This document attempts to record some of the values ??that the people of Egypt adopted during the revolution. We must preserve these values and build upon them for the future. The spirit of the revolution, the spirit of Tahrir, should remain forever in our souls.