The power of the people faces people of power
The awaited day has finally arrived. The marches started exactly a year ago on the same day, Jan. 25, 2011. Today the marches were certainly different. The difference was a whole year of revolution and small steps on the path to freedom from tyranny and oppression. Tahrir square was never that full.
More than 25 organized marches, some with tens of thousands, poured in from all over the city. The anticipation of the days that preceded the first anniversary of Egypt’s continuing revolution was interrupted only by the first session of the newly elected parliament two days before. It was cautiously received and this week overshadowed by Tahrir. Both will continue to be the center of attention as they interact with the struggling powers of leadership.
The people of Egypt came out in even more millions on Jan. 25. Their messages were clear. Surpassing the numbers of the first year of revolution was on its own one big message of where the power lies and where the lies powerless. It was furthermore telling to observe the confidence, determination and resilience in the faces of all. It was a massive day of remembrance of the price in blood and human sacrifice. It was a day of gratitude for all those who gave their lives and their bodies to keep the revolution alive. The Martyrs and the wounded were present in the hearts and minds of the millions who marched through Cairo’s streets as their pictures, names and faces worn as masks filled Tahrir Square. The dominant chants called for just retribution from those who killed and maimed so many, so brutally and have not yet been brought to justice. Demands for a swift exit of the military leadership in favor of civilian rule will be escalated over the weekend demonstrations.
A year ago, the mood was angry yet more cautious. One year later, the picture of the millions swarming the squares all over Egypt might look the same, but they are not. In the past year Egyptians have gained more ground. Although the pace of change seems slow in the perception of many, the speed seems more rapid considering the many millions who have bowed their heads for so many years waiting for the storms to pass. Today, they are the storm; and the storm gathers more power by the day. The power of numbers and demands has also added to the power of thinking and the power of learning and questioning. The squares and beyond are no longer just demonstrations of numbers, they are also hubs of discussion and debate.
If representative democracy, through elected institutions, is the accepted shape of governance, people’s popular democracy will become the powerful tool of pressure over and monitoring and accountability of, the interim elected institutions in Egypt. The people of Egypt have not only woken up, they are no longer the herd that follows, and they are slowly but surely becoming the learned conscience of the land. Continuous efforts to shut them up, confuse them, blind them, scare them or even kill them, will prove futile. The only road forward is to offer them justice, respect and a decent life. Real eyes realize real lies, it is said. The blind seem to be exchanging places.