Amgad Muhammad

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What would you change in the Arab Spring?

After reading many comments on various TED talks related to the Arab spring, I noticed that TED community has different perceptions regarding the uprising. I'm not discussing here whether the Arab spring is a good thing or a bad thing, I'm rather asking ..

What would you have done differently if you were a participant of the revolution? what do you think the Arab youth should have done back then and what do you think they should do NOW ?

  • Oct 17 2012: womens rights and equality would be a positive nucleus for change in all of islam
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    Oct 12 2012: Do not ask .... just do what you like and make your dream and other dreams come through but in a manner to not disturb your people and neighbours
  • Oct 12 2012: The Arab Spring is a wind of change, just as it happened years before with the events that brought down the Berlin Wall. Changes sometimes are traumatic. And the Arab Spring was no exception. A political change usually turns violent when a leader tries to stay in power forever. This builds up pressure and when the time of change comes this pressure is released sometimes in form of violence. But if the political cycle goes as it has to go. The changes will take place nice and easy, and there will be no pressure build up.
    What the arab need. Is to let the new leaders do their job, and the new leaders must do their best for their country. And this leaders must stick to the law and respect the political cycle. And hold elections when have to be done so the political cycle is accomplished.
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    Oct 11 2012: I'm glad the Spring happened, to most of the planet it was a shot out of the blue but it was bound to happen sooner or later. It was like a wave and now if you guys can keep the people you elect to stick to the letter of the law you voted in then i think you might have a bright future to pass onto your children and that's the whole point of feeling good about the future when you know you can feel safe there is a good future.
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    Oct 11 2012: Amgad, as you live in Egypt, I expect you will have a better idea of what can and cannot work in your region than those of us can who do not live there.

    What would you have done differently had you been able to influence everyone's actions?

    What changes do you believe may seem to those looking from afar to be advantageous that you know not to be, because of your clearer understanding of the situation "on the ground?"
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      Oct 11 2012: Well that's the point; I live there, so maybe I'm missing something.

      Sometimes when we're in the middle of things we don't have a clear understanding of what they are, only afterward do we start collecting the pieces and make sense out of them. But even then we're judging from a player's point of view, maybe those watching from outside saw something different.

      It’s not that we – Arab youth – think that we now have ultimate democratic countries or that we’re even close to having ones. But at the same time we don’t think we could have done any better regarding the things we had in our hands. You cannot suddenly educate a country about their rights, or spread awareness about what democracy looks like or how freedom feels, or that we've been living in a cage for the last 3 decades or more, especially when the government blocks internet and their media tell the citizens that we’re Iranian-American-Hamasian-Israeli spies.

      Yet, all that was manageable, it was democracy that actually kind of betrayed us. For instance, you would be forced to choose a parliament member who’s either an old regime, or imprisoned for being not an old regime. While the first guy is out of the list, you cannot just vote for someone you never heard of him. The result is a country with no old regime, but with no experience on how to run a country (how can someone have an experience in running the country unless he was an “old regime”?). That kind of things might be bad, but how could I’ve prevented them?

      That’s my perspective developed from living the events, but I wonder what those outside the chaos would say?
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        Oct 11 2012: I appreciate your sharing this background information about the context and challenges.
  • Oct 10 2012: Recognize history. Revolutions for the last 60 years have almost all come out the same. Secular intelligent well educated young people revolt against an oppressive government. They have no plan for running the new government and thus a power vacuum is formed. The only organized group are religious (in the case of China communism was treated almost with religious zeal) anti-intellectuals who often pillory the academic class that helped foster the revolution. When something that vaguely appears to be democratic gets put into place the revolutionaries are dismayed by the people flocking to a group that will end up oppressing them, making them ignorant and poor.

    Those who seek great change need to recognize the need for stability and either not seek that change until they are very sure they have a means of replacing the stabilizing agents, or if it is not too late get very very busy in constructing a secular system that is acceptable to the people. It is the flaw of the academic classes to forget what people are really like.
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      Oct 11 2012: I think what you say is logical, but

      1- If we are to wait till a secular party is formed ( that is if we decided we wanted a secular party to rule) then nothing would ever get done, those who were really a threat to the old regime were either banned from the country, not allowed to be in a group, cannot leave their houses, or their party is labeled "prohibited". Mubarak was not winning elections with a 99% for nothing.

      2- There were many parties shaped after the 18 days and some were secular, but none of them could find the fund or the ability to compete with parties that existed for years. The time was very narrow and they eventually got very few seats in the parliament.

      Your analysis makes perfect sense but I don't see how we could have acted differently to prevent it, and yet have an exit from what we've been living in.
      • Oct 11 2012: Your question was about the past of the Arab Spring. I would question you, given that I fully understand your points (did all the way through it) The better question now is what are you gong to do to prevent this outcome. Knowing what has "always" happened does not mean that yo are doomed to repeat it. There have been other revolutions in the past (US and France) that led to secular democratic governments. It has only been in the last 100 years that this pattern has emerged. Learn from it. The job of the revolutionary is not over with the toppling of the government. Like the US in Iraq - it was easy to destroy what was, it is a whole different task to engage in nation building.

        I know, if you were involved in the destroying part, it was not easy at all. My point - my goad to you - is that your work has only now just begun in earnest. And those of us who cheered you on are still hoping you can do this. This means you may need to work at coalescing your secular groups and seeking alternative means of funding. You may also find yourselves having to be even more vigilant against rising theocracy.

        I do wish you luck. Keep asking for as much advice as you can get. Think for yourself! You've done an amazing and brave thing that will go down in history, congratulations! Now get to work.