Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mubarak in his Labyrinth

Egypt is uneasily waiting for her moment in history. The faceless crowd thronging the squares cannot have what they wanted - not yet. The fear of reprisal is at the back of everyone’s mind, that nobody knows the price of freedom for now. Mubarak is holding out, chiding his stubborn subjects to go home and resume their lives, sending policemen in plainclothes and reminding them of evil designs of the west, all the while reminding foreign diplomats of the Islamic terror waiting to pounce at the slightest pretext. Military who has a lot to lose in the bargain is waiting in the middle for the endgame to begin.

A few days in Cairo broke age old stereotypes of irrational Arab rage boys and the West’s criminal excuses to legitimize dictators of choice. The few Islamic bogeymen from these unjust lands were enough for American governments of both varieties to scare its citizens to look away from the misery of the people who had oppression written in their DNA. Perhaps for the first time the world has seen humanity in Arab lands beyond the threat of Islamic caliphate.

Then there is the story of Iran where a revolution was hijacked by clerics and the West got it all wrong with their misplaced priorities and policies. But that was in the era of cold war and bounty hunt was on for oil. You have the example of Pakistan where an entire citizenry has been radicalized to self-destruct, to achieve meaningless territorial ambitions. These two models have been discredited by the wave of terrorism and oppression by clerics in the last decade. Egypt has to find a model of its own device.

What began in Tunisia, caught fire in Egypt where political elites and their cronies took the wealth and dignity away from their countrymen with impunity. You can see the same scenario in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Yemen. Most of their leaders are best buddies of the presidents and prime ministers of hypocrite democracies from Europe and United States. The collective consciousness of population around the world has connected through the neural nodes of internet.

Mubarak is stuck in a bygone time warp. His paternal pronouncements and invocation of self-serving constitution had only enraged and insulted the intelligence of his countrymen. Even Muslim Brotherhood took several steps back having seen the force of human craving for freedom and justice beyond the realms of their brand of religion. People seem to have a collective vision of clarity. Long back I remember reading novelist Naguib Mahfouz’s idea of Egyptians looking for Zaabalawi, the mythical inner persona, in his story Zaabalawi:

“It was easy enough with him in the old days when his place of abode was known. Today, though, the world has changed and after having enjoyed a position attained only by potentates, he is now pursued by the police on a charge of false pretences. It is therefore no longer an easy matter to reach him, but have patience and be sure that you will do so.”

In a way the revolution having no face is what this is all about. Common people who have been oppressed from the time of Pharaohs found their voice. Voice calling out to be free. They can’t let that go, and Tahrir Square would not stop at Tianenmen square. World is waiting.

Saving the World!

It came about in this way. During the children's revolt of the sixties and the seventies, I was just old enough to understand what t...