In Translation: Wael Qandil on uniting Tahrir

Wael Qandil, the managing editor of al-Shorouk, penned a powerful op-ed after Mubarak stepped down in February 2011. He’s been re-running it after the constitutional coup made by SCAF on June 17. We are seeing some signs of the unity he called for in the last few days, but no doubt around a different man that he had hoped.

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Hope Not Lost for Tahrir Square

Wael Qandil, al-Shorouk, 19 June 2012

The lines below were published in the early morning of Saturday, 19 February 2011, only one week after the fall of ousted President [Hosni Mubarak]. I hope the reader will allow me to republish this article because the events we are living through now resemble those very moments that followed the maturation of the first fruits from the tree of the revolution.

No matter how hard they may try to contain it, splinter it, or bring it under control there is no need to worry about the revolution as long as there is Tahrir Square in Cairo, and the Square of Forty in the Suez, and al-Manshiyya Square in Alexandria, and others like these in all of Egypt’s governorates.

Any attempts by the pirates to implement their plans will be scattered by the wind, for the [Egyptian] people are creative, genius, and civilized. The Egyptian people have demanded the greatest degree of change and reform. Regardless of how much they try to stop the wheels of change from spinning, no one can prevent the revolution from completing its due course.

What I mean is that those who toppled the ruler of the old regime are also capable of putting a stop to those who keep trying, however pathetically, to turn back the hands of time to the moments before the 25th of January 2011. There is no doubt that the great crowds that met once again in revolution squares yesterday listened well to the martyrs’ whispering blood spilt on the ground. I believe that the crowds will neither forget them nor disappoint them; they will not give anyone the opportunity to undermine this moment of cohesion and union around the utmost demands for which the Egyptian people’s revolution occurred. The youth started this revolution and all Egyptians embraced it, except for that cabal or bunch of grim faces that erased all the glorious features from Egypt’s face.

Moreover, it is now essential for the revolutionaries to come together to support one man in order to continue on this path. The most difficult work is still to come. Attempts to quell and break the revolutionary ranks will not stop. We hear every day from the councils of the secretaries, trustees, and swindlers as well, who try to appear in the picture and [thereby] disrupt the communal spirit, to break it up into revolutionary kiosks, boutiques, and salons.

What is certain is that we need a revolutionary coalition that brings together all the movements and [ideological] currents that made this revolution possible, from the utmost right to the utmost left and everything in between from across the entire political spectrum. In fact, those that first lined up together in a single, united entity were able to create a clear program for complete change. He who wishes to help by way of this entity, you are welcome; and he who does not want to help, then it is better for him to keep quiet and suffice with sympathy [for the cause]. These individuals must not [be allowed] to create other entities that interfere with this coalition and contaminate this extraordinary state of cohesion.

I know that everyone who went to Tahrir Square between the January 25 and February 11 has a share in the revolution and contributed to its success. Objectivity, however, requires one to admit that this blessing is thanks to the men and youth who organized, came together in droves, proposed a plan for action and set the bar for demands. They neither bargained nor did they secretly – or publicly – negotiate before they achieved their greatest demands. It is of utmost importance that we leave them to continue this journey, without anyone disturbing them or leading Egyptians to believe that the revolutionaries are split.

The blood of the innocent martyrs is calling upon you and encouraging you to swear on the souls of those who have fallen defending this dream that you will not quarrel and be dispersed like dust in the wind. Their blood beseeches you to be aware that the remnants of the former regime still continue to hiss, incite chaos, and destructively defend their survival and corrupt ways.

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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.