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

Morning in Cairo: Egyptians ‘always awake’

An ocean of people: It is hard to imagine a million people gathered in one place, but estimates of protest attendance at Tahrir Square indicate that up to four times that number have already converged on at least one occasion to demand the ouster of the hated Mubarak regime and the recognition of popular demands for economic justice and an end to repression. And these numbers — almost inconceivable in the US — are expected to be matched weekly until all the protesters’ demands are met.

'Dimuqratiya': A new day begins for Egypt

Dimuqratiya: Egyptians in Cairo's Tahrir Square hail the rise of democracy in this iconic rendition.
[ Image Source ]

Meanwhile, Mubarak has gone, but those who care about Egypt’s future are not about to celebrate a victory not yet won. The military has established what it would like to see accepted as a provisional government, to mixed reactions from the populace. Egyptians regard the army as essentially on their side, but they also know that this really applies only to ordinary soldiers and junior officers; the senior officers are holdovers from a Mubarak government that always was dominated by military men, including Mubarak himself, and have shown themselves as defenders of the unjust system that is the real target of the protests.

But wherever there is injustice, there are those who profit from it. And they upon whom inequality confers its privileges are not slow to use any means to prevent the loss of those privileges: violence, corruption, bribery, intimidation, deceit, division: All the weapons of the pathocrat will be brought into play, and conscience will sleep on. Thus it is that much of the world watches and worries, for this revolution is not yet won.

Every concern expressed in this article has also been written or spoken by many others, for the forces that international ruling elites can bring to bear are many and diverse, and many of them will remain hidden from the world’s cameras. No YouTube video, no Facebook page, no StumbleUpon review, no tweet will be seen or heard when US “democracy advocates” begin to wield their unwholesome influence and seek to divide Egyptian against Egyptian, to sow confusion and water it with lies, to buy the loyalty of one group or sell another to its adversaries. All of this will be done by whispers in the dark, by money changing hands in some hidden redoubt, by revolutionary leaders done to death where none can see or hear. And in the end, many fear, the revolution will fail as the military reconstitutes an approximation of the old despotism and corrupt neoliberalism resumes its sway.

Ultimately, however, I think that this represents an underestimation of the resolve, intelligence and fortitude of Egyptians.

Cairo resident and internet entrepreneur Omar Abdelwahed El-Shal is a fairly typical representative of the democracy movement. Like most of the protesters, the 33-year-old El-Shal is young, but far less politically naïve than Western standards would lead one to expect. “Don't be worry,” El-Shal assured me in response to an email I sent expressing my fear that the revolution would be hijacked by the military. “We are all awake, we decided to make a million demonstration every Friday till they give us our demands.

“We know that Mubarak decided to kill before with our army’s bullets and small officers refused while senior officers were about to kill us, so we will be always awake.”

Originally published as a review of a mrzine.monthlyreview.org article on the Egyptian protests.

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