Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Bloodless Coup: My Emotional Take on the Egyptian Revolution

Yes, the title is a preemptive tactic against charges of me being only superficially informed and the subject not being properly researched. I write this before I read all those editorials in hard and soft media, on the quiet and peaceful dignity with which the people of Egypt drove out an autocratic ruler who had the backing of the mighty big brother and the small brother who piggy rides on him. It's an emotional response, i admit. But i would like to have it out before my feelings are tempered by common sense.

“Amazing, isn’t it Sunny, that for 18 long days such a huge movement should remain bloodless, that too after the efforts of pro Mubarak miscreants to trigger off violence?” I told my husband.

“I guess’, he said, “it has something to do with the fact that it is a very ancient civilization. The inherent strength is what we saw these past eighteen days.”

I thought he’d hit the nail on the head. Nonviolence is possible only if you are strong. That applies to an individual and a nation. I thought of how Gandhiji baffled the British, both in India and South Africa, with this weapon. It unnerves the opponent – particularly if the opponent has some redeeming human qualities unlike Hitler. Mubarak knew the game was up, particularly since he failed to incite the crowds into violence, which would have given him a reason for suppression.

Today’s newspapers carried pictures of the peopleof Egypt helping the army to clean the 18 days’ mess on the streets of Cairo!

These are a truly evolved people. Wasn’t Nonalignment Nasser’s idea? Was not Egypt the first Arab country to accept the reality called Israel? Anwar Sadat had the foresight to see that Israel had come to stay, and when you cannot avoid the inevitable, it is best to accept it. That’s the only road to peaceful co existence. He took this policy decision knowing fully well it would endanger his life. And it did. He succumbed to an assassin’s bullet like Gandhiji did. Like many champions of non violence, he too had a violent death, sacrificing his life to the idea of a nonviolent Middle-east of tomorrow.

Just a couple of days back, I had to, out of sheer courtesy, listen nonviolently:-) :-( to an Indian citizen cursing Gandhiji for accepting Muslims like brothers. I could have told her that Gandhi was being pragmatic (like Sadat when he went for a truce with Israel). I could have told her that civilizations once evolved through invasions, the violence which followed them and the eventual merging of races comprising the invader and invaded into composite cultures leading to the happy ending of peaceful coexistence . Owing to a historical phenomenon, lakhs of Muslims have become part of India. Gandhi knew that we cannot and should not wish or will our Muslim brothers away. They have as much right to the subcontinent as anyone else. So the best and the right thing to do was to see them as Indians and human beings. That’s the right way out - to make the best of a difficult situation.

But it takes strength born of an inherited inclusive philosophy to rise to such an occasion and address a crisis situation in a nonviolent way.

What happened in Egypt validates the Gandhian method of resistance. Violence strengthens the opponent. Nonviolence disarms them, in every sense of the word.

Today, India seems to have shelved Gandhi. Hence, it is heartening to see another nation following his footprints. The great man would not have lived and died in vain if the middle east became democratic in bloodless coups.

Nostrodamuses of the world have prophesied that the saviour of modern strife torn civilization would rise in the Middle East. Could this be the beginning? Would the fever for democracy that is spreading in the Middle East now result in dispensations that embrace nonviolence? Will Islamic nations which unfortunately had been stigmatized as the breeding ground for violence become the epicenter of a new political philosophy derived from the Gandhian principles of a spiritualised (not religious, please) politics, where ends do not justify means and truth will not be compromised?

One never knows - - - -

I hope the post Mubarak Egypt will not disappoint.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. As you noted, could be the tempering of centuries of culture and civilization that gave the Egyptians the character to stand up sans violence and ignore the agent provocateurs (who unleashed violence occasionally). And also it was certainly the absence of any bigoted religious leadership not playing any role in the vigil.
    Mubarak had the audacity to repeat till the last that, after him it would be the deluge. The Pharaohs also harboured the same notion.
    History also tells us that when threatened the Pharaohs have always unleashed violence.
    But ”the last Pharaoh” Mr Mubarak was weak kneed and pliable in the face organized mass reaction. When he saw that his benefactors in Washington D.C let things take its toll and deserted him, he understood the game was up, though some brave statements were sent out for public consumption.
    Another dynasty and despot who have enjoyed the blessings of the US has vanished.
    Perhaps, this will be the harbinger of the good tidings to come about in the Islamic world where despots in religious robes and with divine trappings have continued to hold the voices of freedom and human rights down under.

    Well the Gandhian philosophy of non violent action has already brought change in Africa a couple of decades ago- “South Africa”. That, because of the only living legend in the world Nelson Mandela! It takes honesty, character, conviction and courage to desist from using violence for enforcing what one feel is right. Gandhi had it, Mr Mandela has it.

    “Yes, the title is a preemptive tactic against charges of me being only superficially informed and the subject not being properly researched. ……. But i would like to have it out before my feelings are tempered by common sense”.

    Perhaps if we take what we call an ‘allegation’ serious, and introspect we may find it true. And if bias is kept away we may see things different.

  3. I think it is too early to come to conclusions in matters related to this.You don't have an idea about things in this part of the world.Everything starts off as apparently innocuous groups and factions.It is almost like the Saddam regime in Iraq.Some people can be kept in obedience only under the threat of power.Here are some people who only know the language of power.Democracy is something of a hear say in this part. It needs good nurturing to understand and practice democracy.All the so called Islamic nations,who wanted to practice justice and democracy..where are they? What has happened to human rights in those places?
    Yes,Like Anil asked' after me,who?.There are people waiting anxiously in the background.I seriously doubt if this chapter will be remembered as the true beginning of any democracy. Wait and see.


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