Last modified: 7:58 AM Saturday, 14 January 2017

Warning: Graphic content.

Khaled Said, the pebble that wrecked a juggernaut

Perhaps it is always so. The road of history to come stretches ahead of us, and as far as eyes can see it runs smooth and straight; upon it the powerful ride in unperturbed impunity, secure in the shared illusion that the present order is immutable. Then, heedless with hubris, they ride over some seemingly inconsequential bump: Some unhappy commoner dares stand in their way, or fails to jump aside fast enough, and ends his days mangled by the wheels of power wielded without conscience. And on the fulcrum of that minor obstacle, whether they realize it or not, the road veers sharply aside from an unguessed crevasse that yawns ineluctably ahead of them.

Khaled Said, dead

Khaled Said, above, was beaten to death by two police officers at age 28 for exposing the crimes of the Mubarak regime in his blog. The police later claimed he was a criminal who’d died of “asphyxiation” after trying to swallow a bag of drugs.
[ Image Source ]

From that moment, they are lost. Unwittingly, airborne from the barely felt impact, they hurtle toward their doom, believing until too late that they can still turn or stop. But the road is no longer beneath their wheels, for their people will no longer consent to obey them.

And what of that fatal bump, that pebble that became a fulcrum?

In Egypt as in Tunisia, a single name, a single face, a single plain and modest citizen set unvanquishable multitudes in motion. Tunisia’s Mohamed Bouazizi was a fruit vendor in the small town of Sidi Bouzid; Khaled Said, a blogger in Cairo. Had events gone slightly otherwise, no one save their loved ones might ever know their faces or their fates. But the way each man died emblazoned his name and image upon a million hearts, a symbol of all the good people destroyed by pathological authority, and a seed-crystal of Nemesis.

History is about people, and when it turns unexpectedly, then we see that the stories that constitute it are as often about people like you and me as about the children of fortune whom blind tradition casts as its protagonists. Those stories often end in unavailing despair, in loss and lamentation — but they are not always told in vain.


Peace, liberty, unity, justice, equality
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