This commentary was published in al-Hayat on 15/02/2011
The slogans of March 14 are extremely simple, just like the slogans of change in Egypt: establishing a just state; equality among citizens; rejecting the manipulation of popular will by state oversight bodies and security crackdowns; standing against thuggish behavior and the intimidation of unarmed civilians; the national flag as the rallying-point for people of diverse orientations and affiliations, as it is the only thing that unites them, and not the symbols of political parties, tribes and sects. In addition, the Lebanese and Egyptian movements have been characterized by their peaceful nature, even though millions of people were mobilized, whether in Tahrir Square or in Martyrs’ Square six years ago.
Thus, it is difficult to believe that the masses of people supporting change in Egypt (in Lebanon and outside the country) stand opposed to the slogans of change in Lebanon. Just as the Egyptians have the right to rise up against corruption in their state, along with illegal enrichment from government positions, and reject being subjected to electoral tampering and using weapons in the country to terrorize people, it is natural for the Lebanese to have the same right to run their country’s affairs by themselves, without foreign intervention and demagoguery. The Egyptian uprising for change has proven able to emerge victorious, without the slogans of pan-Arabism and loyalty to foreign powers, in total contrast to the slogans of the 1952 Free Officers Revolt of Gamal Abdel-Nasser. The focus on Egyptian domestic issues was the compass that guided the young people of Egypt in their protest, and they paid no attention to the attempts by foreign powers of various orientations to add to their demands, or “ride the wave.” The slogan “Egypt first” was that of young Egyptians who were rising up in Tahrir Square, just like “Lebanon first” has been the slogan of those with the big dream in the ranks of March 14.
The above involves a number of comparisons. However, it is also an occasion to recall what happened to the young people of March 14 and their dream, and think about what might threaten the revolution in Egypt. One should say that the slogans of sovereignty and independence cannot endure if pro-independence groups do not know how to safeguard them. In Lebanon, the pro-independence groups encountered obstacles aimed at producing paralysis, domestically and externally; they also faced foreign maneuvering that claimed to protect these slogans. But to be frank, one must also say that these pro-independence groups also erred, at the expense of their slogans. These errors ranged from bargaining over their right to translate their true electoral gains into seats in the Cabinet, and the top post in Parliament, to giving the impression that they were prepared to take part in deals involving the right of the families who lost martyrs to assassinations, to learn the identity of who was behind the killing of their fathers and sons. Just as Egyptians today are trying to bring to justice those accused of stealing the public’s money and assaulting people, the right of the Lebanese to arrive at the truth with regard to successive criminal acts is something necessary in the establishment of a just state in which an unarmed opposition can feel safe from being terrorized with the threat of death.
February 14 this year in Lebanon was an occasion to regain the momentum that had been lost by the pro-independence slogans, due to foreign intervention and domestic groups relying on these foreign powers, and the errors made by these groups themselves. Will certain groups win their wager on this safety? Is this still possible?
The questions will be answered in the future. Not just in the future of Lebanon, but also out of concern for the future of the Egyptian uprising, which is being threatened by foreign powers.