The film ‘The Square’ is a documentary which follows young activists who have engaged in the revolutions from the early stage. This reminded me the days in Egypt and life with Egyptian people from January 2012 to April 2014, and motivated me to write down my thought here.
The revolution started in January 2011 was filled with energy, anger against regimes, ambitions to the future at the beginning. However, as the time had passed, it begun to create violence and grievance, and transform revolutionaries’ original aim, which was to fell down the president, to the further aims, such as elections and new constitution. Witnessing this slight but clear transformation, I came up with some questions.
Revolution as/for democracy?
Yes, it is likely true that the revolutions, especially the January 25th revolution, played a crucial role to spread civilians’ voice against existing regimes, unite and mobilise people, achieve their first aim which to fell down the 3 decades-long Mubarak regime and bring ‘democracy’. But, is the revolution a way to perform their rights to democracy? Have the revolution really brought them democracy? And, what kinds of democracy do people need?
If they define the democracy as that they can have rights to free speech, to social justice, liberation, or whatever, do they keep doing revolution every time they feel oppressed or inequalities? I saw many times that many social systems were down because people were in the street and the squares in order to emerge revolution and people’s daily lives become more difficult. Moreover, I am doubtful that Egyptian people have really gained rights to free speech after the revolution. Specifically, since 30th June 2013, people have divided into two groups, pro-Morsi and anti-Morsi, and seemed that they have begun to hostile each other more or less. As anti-Morsi became superior among the society, I felt there was no room to discuss politics and forced to support the next regime, Sisi. Furthermore, the revolution revealed the limits of democracy in Egypt. Even if they could create a new regime by the very democratic way, election, they would make it step down by doing revolution. It means that they have denied democracy which they have sought by themselves. In my viewpoint, they will keep doing revolution until the consequences can reach what people want. But it is impossible to satisfy everyone’s needs. Seeking alternative way except revolution is a big challenge for Egyptian people.
Revolution as culture?
In the film, a guy of leading role says ‘revolution is now our culture’. But there are risks to accept revolution as a culture and continue it again and again. As I mentioned above, revolutions have create another revolution, and it is still unclear whether revolution have brought something better for their lives. Moreover, repeating revolution can mean that people are allowed to keep showing their complaint in public to others, such as regimes and authorities. It may be welcomed to some extent in the country which has been oppressed to be silent for decades. On the other hand, however, it can allow people to express their feeling directly to others, and can create intolerance to different groups from own beliefs. We also witnessed that religious became instrument to mobilise people through the activities, and sometimes it triggered people to hostile to others.
I would like to emphasise that I don’t want to deny Egyptians revolutions. I can say that these revolutions are crucial moment in their history, not only for nation itself but also for each Egyptian people. I do have to keep in mind that many people have cried when their families or friends were sacrificed since 2011 spring. I do have to keep in mind that people are struggling and stepping forward no matter which direction they intend to go, and even if they don’t know which direction they are going, carrying a tough history from 2011.
Wishing that every Egyptian people have a peaceful 4th anniversary on 25th January.