Saturday, February 12, 2011

Where to From Here?

A lesson to learn from Egyptian victory (The Financial Express)

 Maswood Alam Khan from Maryland, USA

Henry David Thoreau, the 19th century American philosopher from whose famous essay "Civil Disobedience" visionaries like Mahatma Gandhi and revolutionaries like Martin Luther King, Jr. drew ideas and inspirations to launch their non-violent resistance movements against their oppressive rulers, said: "If one advances confidently in the direction of dreams, and endeavours to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours." 

Thoreau's dictum on civil disobedience has once again been proven true in the truest sense of his philosophy -- and this time in Egypt. And from now on, the 18-day non-violent resistance by the brave and patient Egyptians on the Tahrir Square (English: Liberation Square) in Cairo would be fondly recollected by future visionaries and revolutionaries to draw lessons from in their bids to inspire their people in launching their non-violent crusades against future autocrats. 

Thoreau's divination on civil disobedience would perhaps have been proven not so much true in so short a period of only 18 days if non-violence had not been practised by another group of people -- the Egyptian military. 

Pundits, who would be theorising military science and writing martial history in future, must revise the old theory which says that 'military people attain victory only by fighting'. Egyptian military have left a mark that will tell the future generations of military men and women that 'inaction is also an action'. Egyptian military have given a lesson to the armed forces of the whole world that 'non-violence on the part of those equipped with lethal arms and capable of silencing the voices of the non-violent revolutionaries demands extraordinary military courage as well as patience. 

"Now is the time for the Egyptian military to end the oppressive emergency law, revise the constitution and begin preparing for free and fair elections as immediately as possible", American President Barack Obama has rightly said. Comparing the youthful Egyptian protest movement to the tearing down of the Berlin Wall by the Germans, Gandhi's non-violent non-cooperation movement that led India to independence, and the popular protest movement of the Indonesians that forced President Suharto to resign, Obama said: "A democratic Egypt can advance its role of responsible leadership not only in the region but around the world." Will the American President give similar advice to all the kings and all the dictators around the world to embrace democracy? Will America distance itself from the autocrats hiding behind a façade of democracy? 

Now the question is: When will we see revolutions like that in Tunisia and Egypt taking place in Yemen, Sudan, Morocco, Syria, Algeria, Libya, Bahrain, Jordan and Saudi Arabia? 

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