Ebook excerpt: The key plan that began Egypt’s revolution | Options
The next is an edited excerpt from Rusha Latif’s new guide, Tahrir’s Youth: Leaders of a Leaderless Revolution. The guide tells the story of the younger activists who sparked the mass rebellion in Egypt that led to the spectacular collapse of the federal government of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and who struggled within the succeeding years to remake the nation. The excerpt explains the technique conceived by the organisers to assist Egyptians, particularly these of decrease class backgrounds, overcome their concern of the police and be part of them en masse within the streets on January 25, 2011. Twenty secret places have been introduced on social media websites, which served as a decoy from a twenty first secret location.
The activists I interviewed confirmed that the key technique for the January 25 protest was the brainchild of April 6 activist Mahmoud Samy, a dapper and astute younger man acknowledged for his intelligent improvements in street-protest techniques.
A son of Cairo’s common quarters himself, he was nicely versed within the areas, mobility, and vulnerabilities of its subaltern inhabitants and understood how one can negotiate them in his planning to the benefit of January 25’s day of protest.
This class capital knowledgeable his collection of Nahya Road within the impoverished, casual quarter of Bulaq al-Dakrur, close to his neighborhood Awsim, as the positioning of their twenty-first secret location and the beginning of their march.
The aim was to determine how one can get Egyptians to beat their concern of the police who patrolled their neighborhoods and be part of their protest. “Once I considered it,” Mahmoud stated,
“I recalled that one of many issues we frequently encountered earlier than this throughout protests is that the folks watching have been afraid to affix us. Why have been they afraid to affix us? As a result of our numbers have been small. So you’ve got two selections: you make it in order that there are not any police, otherwise you be sure that your quantity is massive. How do you make yourselves many? There was the thought of the snowball, that the extra headway your march makes, the bigger it swells.”
The concept was to begin with a secret rally in a low-profile, confined house located in one in every of Cairo’s many crowded common neighbourhoods.
There they’d focus a couple of hundred of their fellow activists to impart the phantasm of a big crowd to spectators needing the peace of mind of security in numbers earlier than deciding to affix in.
What attracted Mahmoud essentially the most to Nahya Road in Bulaq, of all the favored areas he surveyed, was the bridge on the finish that related it to Arab League Road, a serious, bustling thoroughfare peppered with high-rise condominium buildings, retail retailers, and eating places.
The overpass completely tied this casual space to the upscale district of Mohandiseen, the place they might doubtlessly attract much more demonstrators, showcasing of their march a various cross-section of society.
In the event that they deliberate it proper, they’d shock police and observers with a stunning present of resistance hitherto unseen in these elements.
With the assist of fellow April 6 organiser Amr from Imbaba and one other peer from the Youth for Justice and Freedom Motion, Mahmoud designed a route and plotted the main points of a march that will take them from their assembly level close to a small, nondescript bakery on the far finish of Nahya Road down Arab League Road, permitting their numbers to snowball earlier than they’d hyperlink up with the demonstration at Mustafa Mahmud Sq..
There, they deliberate to steer a standing demonstration for a couple of hours earlier than dispersing.
To make sure the profitable execution of this protest, they visited the world recurrently within the two weeks main as much as Police Day to hold out follow runs, timing how lengthy it could take to stroll, jog, and run to see how a lot time they would want to synchronise with the marches coming from different elements of Giza in addition to Shubra, which have been being deliberate by different teams just like the Revolutionary Socialists. Additionally they developed methods for potential police ambushes.
There was no agency intention to protest in Tahrir Sq. at this stage, though Mahmoud and his friends had lengthy dreamed of descending upon and conquering the sq. with 1000’s of protesters.
Positioned in Cairo’s downtown, Tahrir – which appropriately means “Liberation” – was the biggest public house within the metropolis, and it derived its symbolic weight because the flashpoint for political resistance from the encircling establishments of state energy.
Mahmoud shared that there was some speak of the situations beneath which they may take into account heading to Tahrir.
He stated that the settlement was to proceed to Tahrir if luck was on their facet and their numbers reached one thousand, a goal which they felt on the time was fairly formidable.
This displays how unlikely they felt it was that they’d be capable of rally a big sufficient group of protesters to make such a dramatic and daring transfer.
January 25: Managing a Fashionable Rebellion
On the morning of January 25, Mahmoud, Amr, and the remainder of their cohort anxiously ready to execute their plan.
To make sure high secrecy, the plotters solely knowledgeable ten activists of the Nahya location.
Every was informed forward of time to have their cells meet them at a second location someplace in Cairo of their selecting, and from there they have been to steer them clueless to Nahya.
The whole lot went in keeping with plan.
At 12 p.m., roughly 250 activists managed to evade the discover of police and meet within the small plaza in entrance of a neighborhood bakery referred to as Al-Hayyis, nestled on this dense and crowded impoverished space.
Zyad the lawyer, who spoke softly except he was in revolutionary mode and railing towards the institution, delivered a rousing deal with directed at native residents peering over from their balconies.
“At this time is January 25, Police Day!” he roared into the megaphone. “We determined to return right here at the moment to inform the Egyptian authorities that we are going to not be silent!”
He beckoned the crowds to affix them: “At this time we both stand facet by facet and take our rights collectively, or we lose the possibility! It’s now or by no means!”
Zyad had their ears. The rally shortly started to swell and circulation over into the neighboring alleyways.
Activists started marching, calling on the multitudes watching from their balconies to affix them: “Ya ahalina! Indammu ilayna!” (Our folks! Be part of us!), they chanted, “Inzil! Inzil!” (Come out! Come out!).
The numbers that heeded the activists’ name dramatically exceeded their expectations.
Anticipating to rally a thousand residents at finest from Nahya Road, as an alternative they left it with a shocking march a minimum of 5 thousand protesters sturdy, which solely continued to snowball because it made its method down Arab League Road.
Their numbers have been so massive that when the close by Central Safety Forces caught wind of their march and rushed to the pedestrian walkway on Nahya Bridge to dam them, the protesters have been in a position to forego that route altogether and take over the site visitors lanes as an alternative, making a mockery of the officers who have been hopelessly outnumbered and will do nothing to cease them.
It was a triumphant second for the activists who, for the primary time, had managed to overwhelm and disorient safety forces. They have been deliriously blissful. Abdelrahman described their utter shock and euphoria as they poured over Nahya Bridge and splashed onto Arab League Road:
“I’ll always remember the scene once we bought onto Arab League. It was as if the folks have been gushing from beneath the bottom. This was probably the most shifting scenes . . . and we started crying and hugging one another, and we stored shouting, ‘Intasarna!’ (We received!) What had we received precisely? Who knew?! What was coming, no person knew!”
Mostafa additionally recalled the second excitedly:
“Simply the truth that we have been in a position to take part in a march like this, that we have been in a position to witness a march this massive, was a sheer victory. We began embracing one another and kissing one another, and the folks have been taking a look at us like, ‘Who’re these loopy folks?!’ . . . Earlier than this we’d organise a march and at occasions we’d be solely twenty or thirty folks. When there have been 5 hundred in our protests we have been over the moon. . . . Now, we couldn’t see the start of the march from its finish! We have been so beside ourselves you’ll have thought we have been drunk. I’m speaking borderline hysteria. . . . After which there was this sense at this second, that if this many individuals had mobilized, that meant one thing main had shifted within the nation. A leap had occurred within the folks’s political consciousness – a radical change, a deep need for freedom.”
Because the Nahya marchers approached Mustafa Mahmud Sq. at 2 p.m., they have been met with 1000’s extra protesters.
Their numbers have been additionally so massive that they have been simply in a position to break via the cordons of the safety forces that attempted to include them.
At Mustafa Mahmud Sq., it turned clear to these main the march that the enthusiastic response of the folks was unprecedented, qualitatively and quantitatively completely different from something that they had ever skilled earlier than and from what that they had anticipated.
At this level, they agreed it required a distinct plan of action.
Realising that they had a possible rebellion on their palms, activists from this level onward began making on-the-spot selections, which have been knowledgeable by the wealthy political expertise gained via their energetic participation in a number of, albeit a lot smaller, avenue demonstrations.
This gave strategy to a really current organising course of in a fluid dialectic between the unfolding avenue occasions and their political abilities. Tarek’s reflection captures this finest:
“My feeling at this second was that the road had mobilised, lastly! … The explosion that we wished had really occurred! All of us have been thrown right into a state of shock as a result of we didn’t. . . . I imply, we had thought lots about how we might get the folks to return out, however we had by no means considered what we might do with the folks in the event that they did come out. We have been all dazed and like, ‘What are we going to do with all these folks?!’ As a result of we hadn’t anticipated that they’d come out. So after they really did, it was like, ‘Okay, so what are we going to do now?!’ That’s once we began to say, ‘To Tahrir Sq.!’”