#Jan25 The myth of ‘non-violence’

by , under Blog

Suez was dubbed as Egypt’s Sidi Bouzid during the 18 day uprising. The city witnessed some of the bloodiest crackdowns by the police, and also some of the fiercest resistance by the protesters. In the video above, shot on the Friday of Anger, January 28, the revolutionaries in Suez after storming the police stations and confiscating the rifles, are using them to fight back the police.

One of the biggest myths invented by the media, tied to this whole Gene Sharp business: the Egyptian revolution was “peaceful.” I’m afraid it wasn’t. The revolution (like any other revolution) witnessed violence by the security forces that led to the killing of at least 846 protesters.

But the people did not sit silent and take this violence with smiles and flowers. We fought back. We fought back the police and Mubarak’s thugs with rocks, Molotov cocktails, sticks, swords and knives. The police stations which were stormed almost in every single neighborhood on the Friday of Anger–that was not the work of “criminals” as the regime and some middle class activists are trying to propagate. Protesters, ordinary citizens, did that.

Egyptians understand well what a police station is for. Every family has a member who got abused, tortured or humiliated by the local police force in his/her neighborhood. And I’m not even talking here about the State Security Police torture factories. I’m talking about the “ordinary police.”

Other symbols of power and corruption were attacked by the protesters and torched down during the uprising. Revolutionary violence is never random. Those buildings torched down or looted largely belonged to Mubarak’s National Democratic Party.

In a number of provinces like in N Sinai and Suez, arms were seized by protesters who used them back against the police to defend themselves. State Security Police office in Rafah and Arish, for example, were blown up using RPGs, hand grenades and automatic rifles, while gas pipelines heading to Jordan and Israel were attacked.

Am I condemning this violence? Totally not. Every single revolution in history witnessed its share of violence. The violence always starts on the hands of the state, not the people. The people are forced to pick up arms or whatever they can put their hands on to protect themselves.

May all our martyrs rest in peace. Their blood will not go in vain. Revolution continues.

UPDATE: Minutes after I published this posting, the gas pipelines in N Sinai that exports to Israel have been reportedly come under new attack. I’m still looking up info.

UPDATE: Here is a report from the BBC, while Shorouk has posted a video of the explosion:

  1. Khaled Moftah

    My thoughts exactly. Peaceful protests encouraged more to join but violence is what turned it into a revolution and forced the beginning of the fall of a corrupt regime. The rest is yet to come.

  2. Nihal

    This revolution, dubbed the “White Revolution” was touted as the bloodless revolt, bloodless at the hand of protestors, but we know that of course is not entirely true, as you described in your post. I however was under the impression that the factor that had a huge impact on the success of the revolution, was the pressure created by the labor strikes that were increasing every day in the days leading up to Februay 11, in essence crippling the regime and forcing the SCAF into action. I would like to think that violence is not the recipe for success in a revolution but your post seems to suggest that it may be the sine quo non of one. I hope that is not true.

  3. blacklisted

    I think that when the media says that the demonstrations in Egypt were peaceful, they mean that the protesters initially presented their demands peacefully; they only became violent when the government made them have to defend themselves. And that is really commendable considering that Arabs are of course inherently crazy mad violent, yet this time they managed to curb their barbaric urges until it was the right time — which is why we deserve the Nobel Peace Prize.

    The truth behind your ideas is so simple, yet it’s still lost on people for some reason. Thanks for writing it.

  4. Karim

    This point needs to be reiterated. The Gene Sharp & Otpor angles have become central to the way the story is told in the US media. The Frontline documentary from a few weeks ago has probably made that permanent in the mind of most viewers.

  5. Joe

    To Blacklisted:
    Name me one place in the Arab world (or the world in general I would say), where demands were not first presented peacefully? Take Palestine, which is the one that usually gets painted as violent. They tried hundreds of non-violent ways but then, like the Egyptians, resorted to violence to protect and defend themselves. Eventually, when all non-violent means are cut off, Libya is a case in point, then violence becomes the main form of resistance. In Egypt, the regime began to crumble before the protesters could really take to arms. Also, the regime did not use heavy arms. They sent thugs who came out with unconventional means (like camels). So the response was rocks and molatov cocktails. had the army opened fire it might have turned into further violence eventually.
    To say the Arabs are inherently violent is orientalist and racist. Of course, you aren’t alone to think this and I’m not blaming you, especially if you are Arab. I would just ask you to look at the Arab world today and rethink your assumptions. What is happening today in our region is not new, it is just happening successfully. But we have been trying for decades, even more than a century, to do what we have done these last months. And we have tried violence and non-violence. As Arabawy said, the two are not mutually exclusive and often feed from each other.

  6. eatbees

    @Joe — When blacklisted said Arabs are “inherently crazy and violent” it was sarcasm I think.

    Hossam keep keeping it real!

  7. Joe

    I hope s/he wasn’t. I wasted all that energy otherwise ;) Anyway, there are too many people out there who would say it in all seriousness. So if not “to blacklisted” then to the rest of those people.

  8. Muddy

    There are basically types of revolutions.
    1. Actually, armed revolution where the revolutionaries actually beat the government on the field of battle, the Libyan revolution is taking this path.

    2. The social disorder revolution, where the revolutionaries strike, protest etc so much the economic cost becomes too high for the elite to continue supporting the government.

    In the second, violence is not the primary method of governmental change, but there can be massive violence in the process. The key difference that the military forces of the government are not defeated, or in most cases even met in the field. I would say that the Egyptian revolution is definitely type two.