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Tahrir's Other Sky

[A Tunisian protestor. Image from unknown archive.] [A Tunisian protestor. Image from unknown archive.]

The Earth is closing on us
pushing us through the last passage
and we tear off our limbs to pass through.

Where should we go after the last frontiers?
Where should the birds fly after the last sky?

-- Mahmoud Darwish

Egypt’s exhilarating call for freedom, as Elliott Colla recently noted is an astonishing moment of poetry. The refrain, "Ish-sha‘b/yu-rîd/is-qât/in-ni-zâm” (The People Want the Fall of the Regime) resoundingly rings for millions in the Arab world and beyond. With all eyes on Liberation Square, many are wrestling with what Maya Mikdashi aptly called the unfamiliar restlessness of hope. As the twists and turns of the 25 January Revolution quickly unfold, another extraordinary process is taking place. The relentless resilience of Egyptians risking life and limb for freedom has seared cracks in the sky and revealed another horizon of politics.

Since 1967, when defeat rang the death knell of the pan Arab anti-colonial project, the figure of the Palestinian revolutionary has been an icon of the liberation struggle, for her courage, resilience, and sumud. The model of the Palestinian fida’i(ya) itself drew from the anti-colonial struggles of Algeria and Cuba. At the center of a battle for land and life against Zionist colonial settlement, subject to expulsion and exile, Palestinian women and men forging forward against a better-funded and heavily-equipped enemy constituted an ideal type.This status is a result of systemic colonial oppression and the now century long denial of self-determination. It also flows from the work of generations dedicated to a struggle that indelibly marked Palestine as a spring of freedom fighters.


This article is now featured in Jadaliyya's edited volume entitled Dawn of the Arab Uprisings: End of An Old Order? (Pluto Press, 2012). The volume documents the first six months of the Arab uprisings, explaining the backgrounds and trajectories of these popular movements. It also archives the range of responses that emanated from activists, scholars, and analysts as they sought to make sense of the rapidly unfolding events. Click here to access the full article by ordering your copy of Dawn of the Arab Uprisings from Amazon, or use the link below to purchase from the publisher.

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