Tahrir II: The Popular Revolution for a secular, liberal and inclusive Egypt
by Feroze Mithiborwala on 06 Jul 2013 4 Comments

All late night of July 3, one was transfixed watching both Al Jazeerah and CNN as developments fast unfolded in Cairo and all across Egypt. It was clear from the popular mobilisation in Tahrir Square, at the Presidential Palace, Alexandria, Suez to Mansoura and every major city across Egypt, that not only had the Morsi-led Muslim Brotherhood lost the popular mandate of the people, but had never understood it due to their narrow Islamic perspective.


The mobilisation and the determined and buoyant mood far outstripped even the anti-Mubarak uprising in 2011. The Tahrir Revolution I was a Peoples Uprising and not an Islamic Awakening, and this was what the Ikhwaan and Salafists did not comprehend. The revolution was for a democratic, inclusive, plural and diverse Egypt, where the various segments of society would all be given their rightful due. But the Islamists in their fervour entirely misconstrued the mandate and thus betrayed the soul of Egypt and its ancient culture and civilization.


Thus it was the Youth who once again seized the initiative and launched the Tamarod Movement (Rebellion) and collected 22 million (2.2 crore) signatures in three months (Morsi had 13 million votes). They promised to mobilise one million people on the 30th of June and here too they surpassed all calculations, and finally we had figures ranging up to 33 million Egyptians across the country who came out as they felt that the Revolution had been betrayed, that the entire political and social space was being hegemonised by the MB-Salafists, that the economy was worsening, that the Government was promoting religious extremism and sectarianism, that the Coptic Christians were utterly marginalised, and the liberal secular space was lost; that the liberal, secular, leftists, socialists were totally marginalised from the political decision making process. Thus, a battle to retrieve the soul of Egypt had to be waged and they did so successfully. 

As for the key question of the role of the Army, it was clear that it was the People who demanded that the Army step into the picture, so that Egypt could move towards an inclusive democratic dispensation. Those who fear that the military will call the shots need to know that it will be the very same Youth who will be out in Tahrir and send the military packing to the barracks if it betrays the trust and mandate of the People. This they have already proved twice over, first against Mubarak and then again when they came out against the Army that took the reins in the post-Mubarak era. So I am not overly worried about the role of the Army and look forward to a confrontation if it comes to that. 

There were solutions to pre-empt this national crisis. The Muslim Brotherhood itself could have asked Morsi to step down and appealed for the formation of a National Government - which would further re-negotiate the Constitution to ensure that it addresses the aspirations of all sections of society, as it clearly does not at present. [The constitution has since been suspended – ed]


Then, the Brotherhood could have moved towards Parliamentary and Presidential elections. But the MB remained adamant, underestimating the groundswell of discontent and anger and to a large extent had lost contact with the non-Ikhwaan sections of society.


Still, there are some worries. Both Tahrir I and Tahrir II lack in their anti-imperialist anti-Zionist discourse. We would like to see marches to the US and Israeli embassies and demands that they end their wars, occupation and intervention in Palestine, the Arab nations, and the rest of the world.


Egypt as of now is a deeply divided society and the Ikhwaan and Salafists perpetuated this divide through their monopolistic and extremist practices and vituperative tirade. Hence it is the responsibility of the Youth and the liberal, secular, Left, Arab nationalists and religious communities to reach out to all segments of society across religion, gender, class, tribe and sect, engage all political parties and arrive at a national consensus for a national vision in every sphere of Egyptian national life. The imposition of either Islamic or liberal values will lead to a backlash; thus both these cultural systems will have to engage and co-exist with one another in an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding.


There is a need to learn from the democratic socialist experiments underway in Bolivarian South America. The Egyptian revolution needs to challenge the paradigm of capitalist neo-liberalism, austerity measures and subsidy cuts, loans from the IMF and for that matter, from Qatar and the Saudis. These will only pauperise the masses further and ensnare the nation to the dim-witted petro-dollar sheikhs and the US-EU Bankers.


I am confident for the future of this great civilisation, as the Egyptian people led by their Youth have proved themselves thrice over. Now, be it any political dispensation that takes over Cairo, they know that the Youth are watching and will be back soon if they fail to deliver the aspirations of a nation, of a great people that are demanding democracy, social and economic justice, mutual respect and equality for all faiths, with no faith monopolising the political or social space, a liberal and secular, as well as an Islamic and Christian cultural milieu, whilst also rejoicing in the many ancient cultures of Egypt. 


Now the focus should be on the creation of a transitional civilian government drawn from all political parties and social segments. The negotiations and the passing of a new constitution by national referendum, whilst also setting the dates for the presidential and parliamentary elections, are going on, and will hopefully conclude soon. The Egyptian people are learning from their mistakes and at the same time teaching the world the true meaning of Non Violent People´s Power!!

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