Pro-democracy protesters have vacated Tahrir Square, but they insist the revolution will continue until its all of its major goals are met, creating a fully democratic Egypt
As a host of goups, youth movements and organizations, created before, during or after the outbreak of the 25 Januaray Revolution, rush to expand and develop their organizational and political capacities, there seems to be a consensus among them that the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak is merely a beginning, and insist that the revolution’s goals are still to be realized. Foremost on their agendas is the abolishing of the infamous 30-year-long state of emergency, the immediate release of all political prisoners, full freedom to form political parties and trade unions, and the formation of a national unity government of independents and technocrats that excludes the former ruling National Democratic Party.
Having willingly vacated Tahrir Square following Mubarak’s resignation, the groups would like to see Friday continue as a day of protest, until such a time as their demands are met in full. Yet another “Million Man” demonstration has been called for tomorrow, 18 February, to celeberate the success of the revolution and ensure that it continues until democracy is achieved. The demonstration will take place in the now world-famous Tahrir square in downtown Cairo.
Dozens of small initiatives and groups have also been formed recently. One of these is the Revolution Youth Coalition (RYC) which combines the 6th of April movement, Freedom and Justice movement, Muslim Brotherhood youth, the Democratic Front Party youth, the Youth Movement in Support of El Baradei, and the youth of the National Association for Change.
Khaled Abdel Hamid of the RYC believes that they will continue to protest every Friday until their demands are met. He adds that the outbreak of labour strikes is keeping the revolution alive and driving it towards complete success.
Mohammed Waked, a leftist activist and member of the Revolutionary Socialists, agrees with Hamid. “Labour protests are powerful because the government can neither buy them nor oppress them. So there will be more protests and they will increase and spread from one company to another, it will spread to different sectors too,” saysWaked, “Now it is economic but it will be political soon.”
Labour activists have been very busy lately, calling for a new independent labour union and the abolishment of the existing pro-government union.
Following the fall of Mubarak, strikes and protests spread to almost every sector in Egypt, both public and private.
Widely known Egyptian blogger Alaa Abdel Fatah coordinates meetings for the newly formed “Professionals’ coalition”, which includes Doctors Without Borders, the 9 March University Professors Movement and Cinema Professionals, among others. He takes part in other initiatives as well and says “Most of these movements don’t work together, but when you see the documents and demands they come up with, you see they have a consensus on certain things like the immediate release of political prisoners, canceling the emergency law and a technocratic national unity government for at least nine months or a year until proper elections are held.” Alaa Abdel Fatah also shared his list of suggested technocrats for this new government on his blog http://www.manalaa.net.
Other initiatives include one group that is forming a leftist party. “This has to be done, because often in Tahrir you could see a lot of leftists who don’t want to join the (legal) Tagammu party. Also, it is very important to have a leftist voice alongside the strong liberal and Islamist voices coming up,” says Elham Aidarous, a pending member of the yet-to-be leftist party.
However, many of the people who participated in the revolution and camped out in Tahrir square until the regime was forced to step down are not politically active at all.
“Many of them are middle and upper-middle class with no political experience, but they all aspire to a democratic and liberal political atmosphere,” says Waked, who works with many of these initiatives.
Aidarous agrees with Waked, but believes that in about two months time many of these people may choose to join either a liberal or a leftist party once they become more politically aware.
Abdel Hamid of the YRC agrees with Aidarous that this is how politics typically works, and is against any party that wants to hijack the revolution. “I am against any party that wants to call itself the 25 January party, or Tahrir revolution party, because the revolution is for everyone,” says Abdel Hamid, in reference to two parties currently being formed. He also accused the people setting up these parties of not having a clear political agenda, and recommends they get experience in politics first before forming a political party.
Finally, there are local committees to protect the revolution in Maadi, Helwan, Boulak and other neighborhoods in Cairo. These committees conduct community awareness campaigns in their neighbourhoods to make sure the revolution persists until its demands are met and a true democracy is established.