Breakdown of trust, loss of faith, desperation, aggression, hope beyond reason, shock, pain, poss, suffering, and confusion. I was assaulted by a multitude of feeling as I was walking through Tahrir on the afternoon of June the 29th. I missed out on the battle of that raged during the night between the families of the martyrs and their supporters and the central security forces (CSF), who seemed engaged in taking out vengeance against the protesters. They CSF wanted to engage in petty payback for the setback in suffered exactly five months earlier. The video below details what has been going on.
The battle raged for over ten hours with plenty of rock throwing, teargas, rubber bullets, and Molotov cocktails. Over one thousand protester were injured during the confrontations. The protesters were determined not the let the CSF have the upper hand. The would allow the CSF scoring a victory over their ability to sit-in or express their grievances. For some background read this article
from Time magazine, or the insightful perspective by the accomplished Egyptian writer Ahdaf Soueif
. Official media in Egypt started to describe the protesters as thugs, agents of foreign powers, and even wilder conspiracies.
A friend of mine who was in Tahrir that night wrote to me about his perplexity with what is going on and his the perspective he gets from being in Tahrir vs. the mainstream opinions and views :
I’m Really lost in the political opinions and the question that always come in mind “is this a revolution ? are we still in the revolutionary phase or is it time to keep going and start constructing and forsake justice and faith? Should we concentrate now on the economical state?”
I was in Tahrir June 28th I didn’t go for a specific demand, I was just driven by anger that the Central Security Forces are still treating protesters with same brutality as before.
I didn’t see any thugs, and when I came home and watch TV I kept wondering “Am I a thug ? Are we destroying the country unconsciously? Egypt on TV is so different than Egypt on Facebook than Egypt on Twitter Than Egypt on the street.
Information is so contradicting that it gets me to wonder if this was all wrong from the beginning! Or if our problem is deeper than a economical and political issues, a problem been forged in generations of cultural pollution and educational corruption, A problem that needs some sort or metaphysical higher power to do the solution for us, Should we forsake science and analysis because the problem is too hard to solve ?
I need your immediate opinion before I lose my mind!
My response was
I understand your confusion. Your situation must be aggravated by many of your friends and family casting doubt on your actions and portraying it in a totally different light.
The statement lets concentrate on X, is very silly and fallacious. It might work for one person. If X=economy and I was an economist, I would clearly know where my focus is. But if I was a student, what would “lets concentrate on the economy” mean (other than switching major)? It is quite absurd to suggest to a mother of a martyr that she should now concentrate on the economy, election, the constitution or whatever.
I follow a certain principle when trying to examine my actions. It can be expressed as follows “noble motives may give rise noble outcomes, but petty and base motives will almost certainly give rise to disastrous outcomes”. For me (and some might disagree), pure anger or hate is quite negative and pretty evil things can arise from them. However, if you were mainly in Tahrir to defend the families of the martyrs and fight against brutality, lies, and falsehood. That is pretty noble, that is something worthy dying for. The intention or motive is sometimes more important that the action itself.
I did not go out on June 28th (I really wanted to, but couldn’t), by many of my old Tahrir friends did. I respect and admire them for it, knowing what drove them to be there and their motives.
The revolution will not magically solve all the problems of Egypt in a blink of an eye. What are we fighting for then? If not a solution, then what? We are fighting for having a country that would be have enough room for all of us, whatever our social class, religious background, or political inclinations. In that society we will have the space and freedom to solve our problems, we will be able to dream of a better future and work hard to realize it. In order for us to create that free and open society there are certain prerequisites:
1. Justice (specially for those who died for that dream)
3. Integrity (no lies)
4. A mechanism for collective problem solving (i.e. some form of democracy)
We seem to be losing on all those areas. If we can not satisfy those prerequisites we are are building a new Egypt based on lies and falsehood. It will be nothing more than the old rotten Egypt with a few label changes. The question regarding how do we realize those prerequisites is not a easy one to answer, and would require a lengthy discussion. Certainly we could use as much divine help as possible, but divine help only makes itself manifest when we purify ourselves and our intentions.
However a few things are certain and clear. When the families of the martyrs are ill treated or attacked, this is a clear travesty of justice and requires a serious stand and a loud response. When the police is brutal with your friends, you don’t abandon them for the comfort of your bed, but stand beside them and support them with your utmost ability. That is the decent thing to do.
Finally, we should never forsake science or analysis. We should try to use our knowledge to the best of our abilities. However, when doing so it is important to remind ourselves of the limitations of our analysis and the extent of there usefulness.
It is my view that sometimes it is better to simply stand for what you believe in and what your heart dictates than to engage in a calculus of power analysis. That is in some way a rational choice. For even when the odds seem stacked up against you and your loss seems certain, you make a clear choice that you prefer death, imprisonment, or injury than to live a life of fear,tyranny and oppression.