Feb 19, 2011

Notes on a Revolution

There are many taboos in each society. However, there has been a consensus that there are three main taboos: sex, religion and politics. When I started this blog I thought I’d focus more on the first two categories. But I now believe more than ever before that everything is political.

The whole world has been watching Egypt as its youth led a people revolution that shook the Egyptian regime. The dictator Mubarak who has been ruling for all my life, 26 years that is, is finally gone.

“Protesting is an inalienable human right”, you would hear that sentence in a lot of conferences, statements, etc. The repressive regimes of our region haven’t really picked up that line. I (like most other youth) considered taking the streets protesting a major taboo. We were living in a strict police state. Protesting in the streets meant the possibility of violence, detention and torture at the hands of the police.

What we did on Jan25 was groundbreaking. We broke all those fears and took the streets. The violence against us despite us being peaceful made us more determined. There were people from different socioeconomic class, religious beliefs, gender, etc. They were all part of making it happen.

There’s a great sense of empowerment by this revolution. You find yourself rediscovering yourself, redefining your role. For Egyptians, there is now a great sense of ownership of their country. This sense was destroyed by the authoritarian regime. It has to be maintained and perpetuated.

I believe when people live in freedom and dignity, when their voices are heard, there is more room for social change. I also believe that people tend to oppress each other when they are already feeling oppressed. I am hopeful that this emerging state of mind would help us make more achievement in the social struggles related to human rights, religious freedom, gender equality, health for all, etc.  

The struggle is not over. What is coming is not easier than what have already been achieved. It’s always harder to create than it is to criticize.


  1. Congratulations. The achievement of the Egyptian people is an example for all people. I hope as a new government develops, you are about to avoid the many problems that politics creates. May you achieve a government that represents and protects all your people and not just the elite few.


  2. Agree with Ken, don't let politics become an end in itself, constant renewal.

  3. Here is hoping the what results is a peoples government that gives equal votes to all the citizens of Egypt to decide who governs their country and give rights to the people to remove that government at proper elections periodically if they do not perform for the people.

  4. Will there still be an admission fee to the Sphinx?

  5. After the Revolution?

    For Egypt, Are Elections the Way Forward?

    The people of Egypt are standing at an historic crossroad. But to hear other people tell it, Egyptians are travelling down the highway to democracy. They’ve been stalled for decades but now their engines are revving and they are all but on their way to western style democracy. First stop: free and fair elections.

    To all those who died and sacrificed, it would be a disservice to commence this trip without fully examining the destination and any and all alternatives. Required reading before you embark on this journey is Animal Farm by George Orwell. Moral: If new people are put into any version of the same system, no matter how reformed, you will eventually end up with the same results. The problems may be to a lesser degree, more benign, but you will not have the freedom for which people died. And if you’ve read it before, read it again lest you start wearing clothes and walking on two feet.

    As an American who dabbled in local politics, consider this my postcard from Destination: Democracy. I don’t wish you were here. Sure, I have a vote; I have a voice, but it is not heard. If you have a voice which you can’t use, are you in a worse position than one who can use their voice, unheard? What is the difference?

    "Although Bahrain has a parliamentary system, many Shias feel elections have only served to co-opt them into the political system and did not improve their access to government jobs and services." (http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/02/201121251854857192.html - 2-12-11)

    So, apparently, no difference. Free elections only encourage those who would, to achieve power, do and say anything, those with no scruples, the lowest of our low. Anyone who says they want to run for a political office should be immediately disqualified from politics. The process of running for office does not appeal to anyone who is, at heart, a good honest person. Isn’t that who we need now, good honest people?

    There should never be a political class, a group of people who make their living as politicians. The political class is insulated, protected from the very people whom they are supposed to represent. How then, can politicians represent people?

    Is there another way, a different road to take? First, decide what your destination is. For the voices of the people to be heard. For the will of the people to be enacted. To be free; to rule ourselves.

    Well, it’s clear that free democratic elections won’t get you there. I suggest the direct route. Fill all political offices by lottery. It works for jury duty. I haven’t heard of that system being corrupt, beyond people trying to get undeserved exemptions. It works for military duty except, again, people trying to get exempted.

    This system is called lottocracy, sortition, or demarchy. It was used in ancient Athens.The people of Egypt could vote on the framework of the system. Who is included in the pool? How often can people from the same family be eligible for duty? Should eligibility for national positions rotate geographically? Should we have an allotted chamber which chooses individuals for positions?

    Enough! of political intrigue and manipulation. Enough! of corporate interests instead of those of the people. Enough! of rule by the rich, for the rich. Politicians are a scourge and they do not represent people. We the people should start to begin to represent and rule ourselves. In this age of crowdsourcing we know that we can create, we can collaborate. Yes, WE can. Not ‘we can get him elected to change things’; WE can make change.

    If you don’t take this opportunity to now try something new you will regret it. For the highway to democracy is actually a ring road. Eventually you will end up where you started and you will see your grandchildren in Tahrir Square. But, they will go home unsuccessful, unheard. Because, they will live in a democracy and they will have a vote.

  6. Hi Ahmed..thanks for this brave and informative blog.
    What struck my most about your revolution -and the long build-up to it-was the creativity.
    Now, hopefully, you get to dis-assemble the machinery of the state, clean it and make a new and better version.And that's the easy part!
    Changing the cultural landscape is a far bigger and slower task, and I have enormous admiration for how you have already started by raising the issues in this blog. I hope you get plenty of support.
    I grew up in a patriarchal(in the religious, cultural and political sense) and sectarian country-Ireland. We have taken great steps forward in the past 40 years in terms of human rights, minority rights etc, at least on paper. We still have a long way to go on pluralism.
    I watched Tahrir avidly every chance I got, because you embodied the purity of vision so many of us had in the 70's, but you were organizing and communicating differently. The internet, for all its faults, is an amazing tool of liberation.
    I also loved to see the western world cheering for young Arabs and Muslims instead of sitting inside the usual walls of ignorance and prejudice.
    I salute your courage and wish you great success.

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