A rally in solidarity with revolting Egyptians has been called for this Sunday from 3pm @ the Consulate General of the Arab Republic of Egypt, (Level 6) 50 Market Street, Melbourne. The official tag is ‘Come and support the right of the Egyptian People to choose their government and parliament’. Being Sunday, the Consulate will be closed. Also, seeing as it’s gonna be like 40°C or something, it’s probably a good idea to take supplies if you’re going. Otherwise… President Muhammad Hosni Mubarak’s regime is in some slight trouble ’cause of public protest, but moreover ’cause of who’s gonna take over after he goes he goes he just goes. ‘Mubarak’s Last Breath’ by Adam Shatz (May 2010) provides a neat overview of the historical background, while Robert Fisk (January 28, 2011) reckons ‘Egypt’s day of reckoning’ has arrived.
People talk of revolution but there is no one to replace Mubarak’s men – he never appointed a vice-president – and one Egyptian journalist yesterday told me he had even found some friends who feel sorry for the isolated, lonely President. Mubarak is 82 and even hinted he would stand for president again – to the outrage of millions of Egyptians.
The barren, horrible truth, however, is that save for its brutal police force and its ominously docile army – which, by the way, does not look favourably upon Mubarak’s son Gamal – the government is powerless. This is revolution by Twitter and revolution by Facebook, and technology long ago took away the dismal rules of censorship.
A real crisis of leadership among the ruling elites in Egypt, in other words, and also a revolution facilitated by Facebook, Inc. and Twitter Inc.. Jadaliyya is an interesting sauce of infos too, and one writer sounds a horribly optimistic note:
We were told, time and again, that “revolution” and “the people” were obsolete terms, irrelevant in a post-revolutionary world, especially in the Arab world. This, after all, was a place where the burden of the past weighed so heavily and the cultural DNA somehow preconditioned those who carried it to feel more at home with tyrants and terror. Too many trees were killed theorizing about the region’s inhospitability to democracy. “Reform” was the most one could hope for. Revolution? No way! That was the stuff of outmoded leftists and dreamers left behind as history marched forward. The referent for “revolution” resided in the past (or in the west), but never in the present, or near future. The latter, was eternally deferred. Revolutions were dormant in archives, dictionaries and documentary footage. Revolutions were celebrated and imagined in songs and poems fading from collective memory and oral history.
Even those of us who didn’t buy into this narrative for obvious reasons fell prey to despair and pessimism. It wasn’t just hereditary dictatorships mushrooming left and right, but neocolonialism, military occupations, sectarianism and civil wars. It was even difficult, at times, to be a pessoptimist à la Habibi.
Then there was Tunisia…