The second Egyptian revolution: millions of Egyptians have left their homes

The renowned Egyptian feminist writer, activist, physician, and psychiatrist wrote from the eye of the storm on November 25, 2011. This text is published in cooperation with the Norwegian weekly Ny Tid and it's "Voices without borders" project.
Nawal El Saadawi
20 December 2011

Early morning on November 25, 2011.

Marching into Tahrir Square and all the other squares and streets of towns all over Egypt are women and men, from youth, children, students, to the middle aged and elderly. Most of them are young people from the poor or middle and lower middle classes.

The hearts of many of the mothers and fathers amongst them bleed with the bloodshed of their own sons or daughters. How many grandmothers or grandfathers have carried their grandchildren's bodies, killed by a bullet through the head? The distraught mother looks through all the corpses for the features of her son's face. But all the features have become alike from the bruising and the frozen blood. The mother looks for her son's fingers for identification, for a birthmark on his neck, stomach or chest.

They say that those who killed them - the military and the police – have offered an apology for what happened to all these bereaved mothers, who are striking their temples on the ground, tearing their hair out with their nails, their eyes filled with pain and rage. Will an apology bring back a son’s blood, his lost soul? Will it bring the light back into his ruptured eyes? Will it bring the money and gold back to a looted Egypt? Or those who died from the effect of poisonous gas grenades, like the newly graduated medical student, Rania Foad whose picture in the press on Thursday November 24 stared out at us, her round face like that of a surprised child, her eyes wide and full of sadness – a look which feels like an internal wound to the heart, body and soul?

Rania Foad volunteered with her colleagues at the Tahrir Square hospital to aid the wounded. The central security forces fired the poisonous gas 'fosgin' directly at the hospital. The unconscious young doctor went into a coma while the security forces proceeded to raid the hospital, arresting a large number of doctors. They were beaten up and dragged off to prison.

Forty people were killed and 1800 seriously injured. Around 1400 activists have been imprisoned and are awaiting military trials. But official numbers are lower than the reality.

The poisonous gas 'fosgin' (phosgene) was produced by the US in 1917 and was used in the Vietnam and Korean wars. It was later issued to other governments in its colonies. This poisonous gas is very dangerous for the respiratory system, causing suffocation, then death. It was banned in the Geneva Convention.

Waterfalls of people are blocking the streets and squares, cascades of anger and revolutionary spirit directed against those who arose from what remains of Mubarak's regime to obstruct the transition. Waterfalls of anger on his army, police, media, ministers, intellectuals, press, and his attendant religious currents, like the Salafis and the members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Waterfalls of anger at the colonising forces of the Americans, Europeans, Israelis, and NATO.

The abortive attempts of the first revolution in January and February were brought to an end by the alliances between the external colonising forces and the internal authoritarian, political, and religious elements; the harassment of women, the poor, and the revolutionary youth; the young revolutionary women accused of adultery and corruption, and forced to undergo virginity tests when they were captured; the revolutionary youth who were arrested for ‘thuggery’ and ‘receiving foreign funds’, accused of being traitors to the nation.

The revolutionary has been turned into a thug in the eyes of the media, while the true thugs have become the leaders of a revolutionary national party. The adulterer has become a feminist leader, while the woman who is the true revolutionary fighter is regarded as a decadent, owned by the West. The thieves have become the religious leaders very popular in the media and satellite TV, with Arab oil money and American dollars. Children are veiled and sold to the elderly and rich in the season for prostitution tourism. Even Apis, the Egyptian god, has been veiled. The beards and moustaches are long and the faked prayers have reached their climax. While it is Mubarak and his aides who committed treason, the real revolutionaries have been accused in military court of theft and betraying the nation. Those who stole billions from the people were transferred to formal civilian courts that pronounced no judgments on those who were guilty and failed to prevent the money from being siphoned abroad.

In this second Egyptian revolution, the anti-revolutionary forces from the first revolution have been defeated. The interim government – headed by a minister from Mubarak's time – has also fallen. He tried to leapfrog over the revolution using a parachute, just like the Salafi religious current, with their friends in the military council and the Brotherhood. The remnants of the regime worked together with them both secretly and in the open. There is bloodshed in the streets but these people are still adamant about having the elections on time. Why have they clung to the November 28 elections? Is this another secret agreement between the military, the Brotherhood, and the remnant of the old regime to divide up the parliamentary seats? Those who trade with religion try to trade also with the Palestinian cause. They aim to fracture the unity in this revolution by calling for a demonstration outside the Al-Azhar mosque against the Israelis.

This second revolution has succeeded in revealing the relationship between those merchants of religion, the military and Mubarak's remnants. It has also revealed the opportunistic nature of the old and new parties that have tried to surf on the back of January's revolution, negotiating with those in power while the youth have bled on the streets and in the squares. They are insisting on a fake election before the production of the new constitution. Their sole concern is to leap into power, even if that means killing people and destroying Egypt.

They have given up on logic, and have put the cart before the horse, and the elections before a new constitution. Sacrifice in the second revolution is made at the expense of our blood and our eyesight, as it was in the first. The goals also are the same: freedom, justice, kindness, and equality.

It is not enough to assemble an emergency government that enjoys absolute power. Because an absolute regime belongs to those who resume the old forms of authority. A collective revolutionary council that includes all revolutionaries from different age groups and with wide-ranging experiences is what is needed to make sure that its goals are properly defended and to save us from a government that deviates from its proper objectives. The predictable candidates for presidency ran for it a whole year beforehand, rushing to the media to fight each other with their words. Their election cry that they will serve the nation is overheated. Are they really willing to die for Egypt as they say? Who believes them?

The second revolution in November will sweep away the political and religious corruption and hypocrisy. It will reject the hypocritical faces from the previous regime. So far not a single example has been set to expose and punish past corruption in the land.

Why does the military council put forward faces from the former era, people like Kamal El-Ganzoori[1] , as their candidates for president of the second revolution? Is this yet another devious move to cause the abortion of the second revolution? What about a figure from the revolutionary youth instead?

The second revolution has been successful enough left to its own devices, with millions of people spontaneously rebelling and using their own creativity and sense of justice to do so. It was successful without all the old or new parties, including the religious parties, the Brotherhood, Salafis, Sufi, Shi’a, Sunni and all the others. The second revolution has been successful. And if they try to abort it, a third and fourth revolution will be born from the womb of the Egyptian people, forever.


This piece was commissioned as part of the "Voices without borders" project of the Norwegian weekly news magazine Ny Tid , ("New Time", English site). The project was founded in memory of Anna Politkovskaya (1958-2006), who in 2006 contributed exclusive columns to the magazine until she was murdered on October 7th. Every week since her death Ny Tid has published columns from leading female writers in freedom of speech-threatened countries around the world, including Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Iran, Egypt, Afghanistan, Burma, Tibet, Zimbabwe, and Cuba. You can subscribe, or support the project, by mailing [email protected].

The article was translated by Mazen Zoabi

[1]The ‘J’ (jeem) in Egyptian dialect is pronounced ‘G’ and ‘Ganzouri’ is the standard transliteration used in most English-language media.

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