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What If the Egyptian Protesters Were Democrats?

[Image from unknown archive]

Their recent upheaval would certainly have been different, perhaps dramatically different.  In the past month, the people of Egypt—inspired by the recent democratic revolution in Tunisia and preceding emergent revolutions in Libya, Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan, Yemen, and Syria—have undertaken a revolt of truly stunning proportions, one that includes men and women from all class strata, religious and ethnic origins, and ideological commitments. They managed to rid themselves of a longstanding and brutal dictator worth over $40 billion and supported by the collective power of the United States, European Union, Israel, and the Arab Gulf States.  Now that two ...

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Morocco on the Eve of the Demonstrations

[Image from the Mouvement du 20 Fevrier Facebook site]

“When I go out in the street, no cares about #feb20, I connect and boom, the revolution is brewing” (Qd je sors ds la rue, no one cares about #feb20, je me connecte et boom c'est la révolution qui couve). The above, tweeted yesterday in the style of much that’s being produced on the internet about the demonstrations on Sunday — a combination of text message French and English (and often transliterated Darija) — is a perfect encapsulation of the immediate situation, at least in Rabat (as I write this, demonstrations have just turned to riots in Tangier, to which I’ll return below). Here, however, on the streets, little is visible, in the air an almost palpable lack of ...

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King Abdullah Announces a Discount for Dictators

[King Abdullah, Image from Unknown Archive]

Two Arab dictators are out of the game, but there are others. Here is a cartoon by Khalil Bendib about possible efforts to accomodate future ex-presidents.  

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The Long Shadow of the 1952 Revolution

[Cover from Ruz al-Yusuf magazine on the 1952 Revolution. From the Bibliotheca Alexandrina's

Almost exactly fifty-nine years ago, on January 26, 1952, downtown Cairo was in flames. Cinemas, department stores, and hotels were set alight by rioters in the streets. The identity of these rioters would become the focus of enormous speculation: Were they revolutionaries who sought the expulsion of British colonial rule from Egypt, or rather, were they counterrevolutionary forces who were giving the then-Egyptian regime or the army a pretext to intervene? Whatever the case, within a matter of six months, that regime – which the vast majority of Egyptians saw as corrupt, unrepresentative, and brutal in its repression of peaceful protest – was overthrown by a cadre of ...

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Imperial Feminism, Islamophobia, and the Egyptian Revolution

[Image from unknown archive]

". . . I’m making this video to give you one simply message: We want to go down to Tahrir Square on January 25. If we still have honor and want to live with dignity on this land, we have to go down on January 25. We’ll go down and demand our rights, our fundamental human rights...The entire government is corrupt—a corrupt president and a corrupt security force…If you stay home, you deserve what will happen to you…and you’ll be guilty, before your nation and your people…Go down to the street, send SMS’s, post it post it on the ‘net. Make people aware…you know your own social circle, your building, your family, your friends, tell them to ...

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From the Blogosphere to the Street: The Role of Social Media in the Egyptian Uprising

[Image from unknown archive]

While the uprising in Egypt caught most observers of the Middle East off guard, it did not come out of the blue. The seeds of this spectacular mobilization had been sown as far back as the early 2000s and had been carefully cultivated by activists from across the political spectrum, many of these working online via Facebook, twitter, and within the Egyptian blogosphere. Working within these media, activists began to forge a new political language, one that cut across the institutional barriers that had until then polarized Egypt’s political terrain, between more Islamicly-oriented currents (most prominent among them, the Muslim Brotherhood) and secular-liberal ones. ...

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Why Egypt's Progressives Win

[Women protesting in Tahrir Square; Image from AP]

On 6 February 2011, Egypt’s hastily appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman invited in the old guard or what we could call the Businessmen’s Wing of the Muslim Brothers into a stately meeting in the polished rosewood Cabinet Chamber of Mubarak’s Presidential Palace. The aim of their tea party was to discuss some kind of accord that would end the national uprising and restore “normalcy.” When news of the meeting broke, expressions of delight and terror tore through the blogosphere. Was the nightmare scenario of both the political left and right about to be realized? Would the US/Israel surrogate Suleiman merge his military-police apparatus with the power of the ...

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State Culture, State Anarchy

[Gaber Asfour Sworn in as Minister of Culture. Image from Alarabiyya]

Mubarak told Christiane Amanpour that Egyptian “culture” was anarchic in nature—and that chaos would break out if he stepped down. So, Egyptians are barbaric and can be tamed only by the strong hand of a loving father—what else is new? This is not just what Lord Cromer used to say, it is exactly what the autumnal patriarch has been saying for twenty years now, channeling the stark (and false) choice once proposed by Matthew Arnold, "culture or anarchy." The slogan analog appeared on signs carried by Mubarak’s goon squads this week: “Thirty years of stability, Nine days of chaos.” While “culture” has little to do with the underlying demands of the people ...

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Impromptu: The Cairo Commune

[Egyptian protester hooked to an IV drip, image from unknown archive]

They fought tooth and nail Wednesday night and defended al-Tahrir Square after a long day during which the last Pharao played his last card by unleashing his hired dogs to attack unarmed protesters who shook the earth in Egypt under his throne. When darkness fell, those heroes persevered despite a rain of rocks, Molotov cocktails and sniper bullets. They barricaded themselves and sealed the entrances to al-Tahrir. Their real barricades, however, were their hearts and spirit and those supporting them. Hundreds were wounded and some lost their lives. Their spirits were hovering over al-Tahrir, waiting and looking down at their comrades who were determined to defend the ...

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Singing for the Revolution

[Nigm and Imam Performing, Image from Unknown Archive]

So was it Wikileaks, Facebook, or Twitter? Perhaps all three contributed to the revolutionary winds in the Arab world? This is one of the questions repeated ad nauseam by a great number of commentators and parroted by many in the United States and elsewhere in the “civilized world.” Others wonder if perhaps it was Obama’s speech in Cairo or even the Bush doctrine (for Fox-infested minds and they are many)? Yes, new technologies and social media definitely played a role and provided a new space and mode, but this discourse eliminates and erases the real agents of these revolutions: the women and men who are making history before our eyes. Members of our species have done ...

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“Our Assessment Is That the Egyptian Government Is Stable”: Thinking of Cairo from New York (Updated)

Tahrir Square, Cairo [BBC]

As Jadaliyya's Tough Niece reminds us (My Mother and My Neighbor's Dog on the Tunisian Revolution and Its Aftermath), there has been a lot of fairly uninformed stuff written in the blogosphere about Tunisia and its aftermath, rhapsodies about the revolutionary role of social media and overconfident assessments about what will happen next. I hesitate to contribute to this outpouring. And yet I find it impossible not to write something about Cairo, something for Cairo, just before the breaking of dawn on a day that promises to bring the biggest wave of protest so far. Seeing photos of the thousands upon thousands of people rallying in Midan Tahrir, reading accounts ...

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Islam in American Barrios & Prisons: Converts Reclaim Moorish Spain, Reject Church

[Image by SpearIt]

For those in the US typically designated as “Latino” or “Hispanic,” the historical legacy of Islam plays a role similar to that in the African-American context. As the term “Moor” was embraced by various African-American leaders to unite poor, disenfranchised blacks with the glory of Islam, the connection to Moorish Spain provides a powerful tool to re-imagine Latino identity. Converts learn that popular Latin American terms like ojala (“may God will”) derive from the Arabic allah and that their African ancestors used to chant “Allah, Allah, Allah,” which in Spain became “Ole, Ole, Ole.” Such connections offer evidence of Islam’s influence on Spanish pedigree, regardless ...

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A Word on Africa: Djibouti

“Arab world unrest reaches Horn of Africa” was how the Israeli website Ynet led off its coverage of the demonstrations that began in Djibouti yesterday. On Friday, thousands of protesters — 6,000, according to the Independent, in a country with a population of less than a million people — demanded the resignation of President Ismail Omar Guelleh, among other political reforms. Authorities used batons and fired tear gas grenades at demonstrators; by the end of the day, according to official reports, one ...

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Iraq and Its Tahrir Square

[This article is a slightly updated and edited translation of the original Arabic version that was posted on Jadaliyya and can be found here.] Iraq’s absence from the “Egypt Today, Tomorrow the World” map, published a week after the massive demonstration in Egypt on January 25th and which included the dates of planned demonstrations in different Arab capitals, was striking. The absence was not limited to the dates listed. Iraq as a country was not included. It is as if the absence of protests indicated ...

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Iranians In Solidarity with Egyptians and Tunisians Need Your Support, Now

While celebrating the exhilarating achievements of the popular democratic uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, I have also been consumed with a restless hope and deepening concern for Iranians with parallel dreams of realizing a free and democratic society. Iranian pro-democracy activists and opposition figures Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi have called for peaceful rallies across the country today, on the 25th of Bahman (February 14), to express solidarity for the spreading democratic movements in ...

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Egypt's Revolution 2.0: The Facebook Factor

The call for a Day of Rage on January 25, 2011 that ignited the Egyptian revolution originated from a Facebook page. Many have since asked: Is this a “Facebook Revolution?”  It is high time to put this question to rest and insist that political and social movements belong to people and not to communication tools and technologies. Facebook, like cell phones, the internet, and twitter, do not have agency, a moral universe, and are not predisposed to any particular ideological or political orientation. ...

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New word added to Oxford Dictionary: Mubarak (v.): To stick something, or to glue something

[Circulating in the Egyptian Public Space] New word added to Oxford Dictionary:  Mubarak (v.): To stick something, or to glue something.  Example: “I will punch you and mubarak you to the wall”; or “You can mubarak the pieces to hold them together”.     لوحات طريفة يحملها المعتصمون في ميدان التحرير  إمشي بقى إيدي وجعتني! إمشي بقى مراتي وحشتني! إمشي بقى عايز أروح أحلق! إمشي بقى عايز أدخل الحمام!   أحد المعتصمين وقف وقد خلع قميصه وكتب على ظهره: "يسقط ...

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Non-Negotiable

The naysayers who had been suggesting (or, in some cases, hoping) that the protests in Egypt were running out of steam have been proven wrong, once again, by the Egyptian people. By some accounts, the crowds in Midan Tahrir today were the largest yet — “hundreds of thousands,” according to the Guardian’s live reports — and many of those protesting today were coming out onto the streets for the first time. As I write this, protests continue in front of the Parliament building, with the possibility of a ...

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Revolutionary Contagion: Morocco and a Plea for Specificity

Since January 15th, media discourse on the Arab world has almost uniformly coalesced around a single term, “contagion.” This is a telling semantic choice given the word’s broader associations with disease; a synonym for “infection” or “contamination,” it carries rhetorical connotations that are hardly subtle. The Wall Street Journal has analyzed Egypt’s “contagion risk” (Feb. 1st) and in the past two and a half weeks The New York Times has published at least half a dozen articles on the topic, with the ...

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Looking to Egypt, Again

I grew up hearing about Egypt.  The Egypt of those stories, woven inextricably into the memories of my father and his brothers and sisters, was always one of strength, inspiration, beauty and steadfastness. It was the Egypt of Nasser and Um Kulthoum, of Arab Nationalism and of the Bandung Conference. It was the Egypt of solidarity with Palestine. As a child in Beirut, that place seemed as close as the catch in my father’s voice when he would talk about hearing Nasser on the radio. As I grew older, I ...

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Everything Is Illuminated

Everything is exposed. Every crack is showing. Protesters throughout Egypt have put their bodies on the line day after day, their vulnerable, breakable bodies, and with their bodies, they have forced, each day, a bit more of the story to become illuminated. Anyone familiar with the combination of brutality and tactical expertise possessed by the Mubarak regime could not have been surprised by the savage strategy that has been aimed at unarmed protesters in Cairo and throughout the country over the past ...

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The Poetry of Revolt

[This post was selected as one of three winners in Three Quarks Daily Arts & Literature Prize] It is truly inspiring to see the bravery of Egyptians as they rise up to end the criminal rule of Hosni Mubarak. It is especially inspiring to remember that what is happening is the culmination of years of work by activists from a spectrum of pro-democracy movements, human rights groups, labor unions, and civil society organizations. In 2004, when Kefaya began their first public demonstrations, the ...

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Cartoons: Tunisia and Recent Events

Original cartoons for Jadaliyya by Khalil Bendib.    [Jadaliyya is inaugurating its cartoon and arts sections. We encourage the submission of cartoons and other art work. Email your material to post@jadaliyya.com]                     

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وحدة عداء المسافات الطويلة [The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner]

 يبدو أنه سيحقق وقتاً جيداً اليوم. الميل الأول انتهى. ٥ دقائق. يعدو ويعدو ويعدو. تنطلق أفكاره. يفكر أنه فعلاً محظوظ ليتم اختياره للمشاركة بالسباق. يفكر أن صحته تتحسن، ونفسيته تتحسن. يفكر أن هذا كله لن يعني شيئاً بعد بضعة أشهر. ينظر مرة أخرى إلى الساعة. حان وقت الغيار الثاني. الغيار الثاني صار أسهل. أصبح أكثر قدرة على السيطرة على جسده. في البداية كان يشعر أن جسده عدوه. أنه في معركة دائمة معه. أن جسده يخذله في أي فرصة تسنح له. أما الآن فجسده قطع خط الحصار وأصبح حليفه. كأنهما رفيقان في تنظيم، يتعاونان ...

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Jadaliyya’s Culture page is an open space for creative, original and creative texts about culture(s). Jadaliyya understanding of culture encompasses the production and dissemination of meanings in all sites, contexts and in a variety of media and genres.

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