I listened to the shouting crowds from my balcony yesterday, as groups of protesters were heading to Tahrir square. I wished I could join but fear held me back. Fear of being harassed or harmed by the forces of the National Security* , fear that going through pain and humiliation would make me more and more hateful of our circumstances, and thus lose my stamina towards carrying on my efforts in making things better on the long term without any political confrontation.
Media manipulation and Twitter blocking changed my stance, it got on my nerves so much that I could not stay in. A one minute phone call from a friend got me out of the house, together we went to Tahrir square.
Yesterday was a firm answer putting an end to all the allegations and brain washing that claimed that the current system is better than all other options in front of us, it was also a good revision to all that I have learned through my Political Science courses. And because I believe in what I’ve learned, I see a ray of light. If change doesn’t happen now, it’s coming none the less. We have changed, and we have proven that we want and deserve to change. And even though all political theories may fail to forecast what will happen, one theory stands true, God is Fair.
First of all, it’s a message to the class of people who claim to be intellectual and civilized, the people who look down at the chaos and express that “this is an ignorant population who don’t deserve democracy”, as if they alone got the exclusive seal of democracy for being from a long gone aristocratic descent or holding passports from democratic countries, without possessing any of the democratic political culture of those countries. Yesterday for the first time in downtown, I was not sexually harassed. For the first time I see youth who are not part of Environmental organizations picking up the garbage, and thousands of people, united despite their differences, sharing food, and water and exchanging opinions, carrying appropriate respectful banners.
Second of all, it’s an answer to all those who think that the Muslim Brotherhood is the only alternative. We did not see them in the demonstrations, and I can claim that the only person I heard chanting religious statements while asking for the downfall of the government, received minimal chanting back compared to others.
Thirdly, it’s a response to all those who don’t value information and freedom of expression. Any contribution adds weight even if it’s through the Internet pages. I admit I was critical of all the Twitter fans in the past since I felt they do nothing but talk and complain. I apologize for that now, if it weren’t for those sites, the information sharing and above all the feeling of unity that was created through people’s comments and pictures, no one would have gone to the streets yesterday.
This has proved that each individual has a role to play considering their abilities. If it weren’t for the people who stayed at home trying to find means of sharing information through the Internet or telephones, and if it weren’t for those who put efforts to transmit and provide coverage of the events, we would have all believed that police officers received flowers and gifts in celebration of the police day and similar ridiculous stories, most interesting of which that some newspapers announced the end of the protests before they actually ended. If it weren’t for those who shared facts on how to deal with the tear gas through the various communication channels, many of us, who are far from experienced in the rituals of protests and demonstrations in countries like ours, would not have lasted these many hours.
Fourth, it’s an answer for all those who accuse the political opposition forces of being traitors. They showed up yesterday and integrated into the crowds without carrying signs or statements of their parties, they joined united for one cause.
Fifth, it’s a response for those who say “we are not like Tunis”, no we are like Tunis, and more. I don’t deny that I initially looked at the issue from a purely theoretical perspective. I believed that we needed to have a large base of educated middle class, rather than a polarized population between a struggling incapable class, and an elite indifferent class. However, yesterday proved that the Egyptian people have had enough. Even those who are not facing the daily struggle of finding food for survival, have vision and have a conscience that pushed them to act.
We are a generation not raised on a culture of confrontation; we have had fear built into us since we were born. We are a generation whose intellectuals have been terrorized by the ruling regime, taught to conform and obey. Now is the time to learn the rules of the game.
* As I left the demonstration, I could sense the hesitation and confusion of the national security guards, as if what is on their minds is “maybe these people are right”