أيام الغضب Jan 25th. Jan 28th.
It isn’t a domino effect.1 What happened in Tunisia, isn’t what is happening in Egypt and what is happening in Yemen and what is happening in Lebanon and what will happen in Oman. The internet or twitter or facebook is not behind this.2 Neither is al-Jazeera.3 Each of these states have their very particular histories, very particular teleologies which are more decisive – whether politically or symbolically – than anything in the social media netscape bullcrap. Yes, there are striking similarities: the dis-enfrachised populations, the dictators or prime-ministers propped up by Europe or America (those chaste defenders of freedom everywhere), the young and the connected. Yes, no one wants this to happen – America and Europe would rather eat crow than actually admit to a democratic program in Middle East or Africa (teh Mooslims!) and there are powerful and entrenched forces within these states who will not tolerate any challenge to their hegemony.
What we see is life itself. These are the millions who have been denied participation in their own lives. Millions who have suffered the oppressive, fanatic violence of a state propped up by vested interests. They were always visible, they were always trying to tell their story, trying to eek out an existence of dignity and honor. How long can that quiet struggle last? How many have to give up before one stands and says, I will not go silently.
These are the days of anger – and they will be noted. Some, who are far away, can do more than bear witness. We can raise our voices in support.
update: A nuanced take on Egypt underlining my point about local context is Paul Amar, Why Mubarak is out.———
- The “narrative” likes to see everything connected in the Middle East or Africa, with helpless masses, force fed some conspiracy theory or some mishmash of presumed victimhood are always pawns waiting to tumble. Hence, you cannot have true democracy in the M.E. because the pawns might elect terrorists! To assert a homogeny in these protest is to continue to give credence to such ahistorical, apolitical and biased twaddle. I refuse to play. [↩]
- If credit must be given to technology than give to the lowly mobile phone with the capacity to record video, and send SMS and MMS. [↩]
- I love how everything is a “narrative” to the NYT now [↩]