Politics & Society
September Mon 02, 2013
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Hussein Aboubakr after having taken part with enthusiasm in the Arab Spring that led to the overthrow of Mubarak, has had to deal with the failure of the same Spring, when the Muslim Brotherhood took power. A scholar and teacher of history and Jewish literature, Hussein has suffered persecution from the new regime. Having obtained the status of political refugee, he now lives in California and has a blog, I survived Tahrir Square, where he continues his struggle, as well as collaborating with the newspaper The Times of Israel. Ilsussidiario.net contacted him for this exclusive interview. The name of your blog is "I survived Tahrir Square". Can you tell us what you mean exactly by "surviving"? Can you tell us a little about those days, when Mubarak was sent away? What were your hopes?
I meant surviving in the physical sense, during the 16 months I spent in the Square. From January 2011 until I left Egypt in May 2012, I have witnessed so many bloody battles which a lot of people died in. During that time anyone who was a participant in the revolutionary movement had a very good chance of being killed, severely injured or imprisoned and tortured. While the Western media was celebrating the Arab Spring and the Egyptian revolution, revolutionaries were dying in street battles against the police, the army and militant thugs.
Revolution is not an easy thing, it can't be done really quickly so everyone can go back to his normal life; absolutely not because going "back" to the previous "normal" is a failure of a revolution, not a success.
The Egyptian revolution went through different stages, starting with the first 18 days (January 25th to February 11th) during which Mubarak was removed. Those days were the best days of the revolution as they provoked a euphoria of hope and wishful thoughts for all the people. Our hopes were simple as we crystallized them in our main chant "Bread, liberty and social justice", things which up until this point did not become real. Do you feel that those hopes, the Arab Spring as it was called, were a failure, not only in Egypt but also in Tunisia and Libya?
Indeed the Arab Spring should be considered an absolute miserable failure if your idea about "spring" was an everlasting season of happiness and prosperity, which is not the case in the Middle East. The spring in the desert countries of the Arab world is a short season which is normally followed by a harsh hellish summer which drives everyone to take refuge in their air-conditioned fortified homes. I'm not an expert on Libya or Tunisia, but a country like Egypt for example, was stable--in the American sense of the word--for thirty years.
This stability was artificial and not natural, paid for by billions of dollars from the US. Beneath this stability laid the issues of liberty, freedom of speech, minority rights, social injustice, corruption, bureaucracy, religious fanaticism etc., issues which were not addressed but suppressed by the US backed dictatorship, so when the cap of that dictatorship was removed, all these problems had to pop up after thirty years with a retroactive effect. Imagine an unopened soda can being shaken for an hour and then opened suddenly. That is how it is right now, not exactly the failure of a revolutionary movement but the failure of post-colonial Arab political regimes. Why did you actually need to leave your country to become a political refugee in the USA?
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