Who Is “the People”?
In the “core utopian city” which has become the symbol of the revolution, interestingly enough, no real headquarters, no explicit party structures and no general councils can be found. A lot of different socio-political demands came to be the spirit of this so heterogeneous but pacific community. The youth who are gathering under the plastic tents insist that they are only representing themselves and do not belong to any defined party.
In an interview, the IT-engineer Ahmad (the name is changed) told me the following when I asked him about the organization of the revolution and of Tahrir Square: “There are people who organize committees. Everybody you meet will tell you: “I am the one who made the revolution come true! I am the president of the organizing committee! The revolution belongs to me!” However, you cannot take those people seriously. There are thousands who were and are still demonstrating. Fifteen parties promoted the revolution together. There are a lot of communities, organizations, movements and websites which organize gatherings and come up with ideas and demands. Even though, we are all talking for ourselves. There have been no elections for representatives who might talk in our name. I will help and ally with anyone who shares the same demands and ideas as I have. I am also truly thankful and indebted to the people who come here and take care of the sick, cook food or bring covers to for us. May God protect them and their children! But nobody has the right to talk in the name of the revolution! The guys you see on the television, with nice suites, who wear ties and look clean are not the ones who fought for the revolution. If their eyes are not read and swollen, they have not been exhausted by the revolution. We have a lot of demands, a constitution and the rule of law. I think that there should be a supreme [constitutional] council of five two seven deputies. As soon as we have got a political organ like that, a new constitution can be drafted and we have already made half of our way.”
|Sticker imitating the Egyptian car number plates. Instead of a city, they say: “based on the Tahrir”. Presently to be found on the windows of every second car.|
Something similar was told in the meeting of the High Council of Culture which I attended some hours later. Here the nicely dressed doctors and professors of constitutional law talked not less revolutionary –but this time mostly in classical Arabic and not in dialect– about political change. One professor insisted, that the situation here can neither be compared to the May 68 movement in France, nor to the post-soviet changes of the Eastern European republics. Another –this time female professor– energetically asked why the break has not come earlier; how the system can still continue when all of the people are against it; why the whole legislative backbone of the old regime is not completely removed and replaced. She was the only one to get a spontaneous and loud applause from the audience after her absorbing intervention. A third dignitary in his seventies added that one should keep in mind that the Western democracies are far from being as perfect as they pretend to look. The English hate their Premier Minister, according to him, and the Europeans do not vote whether they want to have troupes in Afghanistan or not. At the same time, he concluded that the USA can´t be taken seriously with their completely fascist behavior.
In whatever surrounding, whether in formal conference-rooms –from which Mubarak’s pictures suddenly disappeared– or in coffee-houses, people eagerly read the newspaper, discuss and reconstruct the country in their minds.
However, what kind of political system will they finally establish? Will the poem-reciting intellectuals with their Palestinian scarves and cut T-shirts, the justice-seeking injured of the lower levels of society, the crying mothers who lost their children as martyrs on the first days of the upheaval, the furiously preaching bearded shaykhs with their long galabiyyas, the women who are wearing the Egyptian flag as a niqab and the lawyers, doctors and professors who are discussing different political systems and constitutions be able to tolerantly live in a new Egyptian democracy?