Free Political Prisoners, Human Rights, Revolution

Egypt: The Bread and Freedom Revolution

(French translation below)

After decades of suffocating under dictatorship, people in Egypt poured into the streets by the millions to say they have had enough, they can no longer take this, and they deserve a humane life.

The events in Egypt are not thunder from a blue sky; revolutions never are. If the events in Tunisia – another North African country burning with ongoing revolutionary sentiment – could be called the trigger, Egyptian society has long been a time bomb ready to go off at any moment. This explosion was inevitable, and if the outer humane world has been ignorant of the unbearable sufferings of the Egyptian people over the past decades; if the world has intentionally been kept in the dark so as not to see the unimaginable poverty, famine, unemployment, barbaric exploitation of masses, corruption, and degradation; and if the world has been made unaware of inevitable consequences – i.e., the suppression; the police state; constant crackdowns; thousands upon thousands imprisoned, tortured, and murdered; the daily humiliation and corruption eating the whole society from within; and the rage accumulating over the years – the world should have seen and witnessed the rising and spreading wave of radical protests of the Egyptian working class, the majority of Egyptian population.

In today’s Egypt, where 80 percent of the population of 80 million is living under the poverty line, and 40 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day, one does not need to be a socioeconomic analyst to gather that this status is not sustainable. But as it is with other dictatorial entities and their so-called democratic allies, policies are not shaped by logic, but rather by pragmatic short term political gains; not based on humane sentiments and solidarity, but on transient economic and political interests.

That incredibly inhumane status was sustained for 30 years. This status ironically was called, and still is referred to by the US administration, “stability.” These 30 years of “stability” were paid for by millions of Egyptians: murdered, imprisoned, tortured, degraded and humiliated on a daily basis. And the financial costs of creating and supporting an institution necessary for such systematic oppression has been paid for by hardworking American taxpayers.

The severe hunger-driven protests in 2005 by the poor, and the uprising which was named after its cause, “bread,” in a society which is the highest consumer of bread in the world is with little doubt the seed of the current revolution. Since the bread uprising, the dissent has only grown larger, and over recent years, labour protests – with millions of Egyptian workers participating in demonstrations, sit-ins, and strikes – have reached their historical height. The Egyptian labour movement has gained enormous energy by – despite brutal crackdowns – forcing the government into retreat, and attaining parts of their demands.

Yet the revolution in Tunisia certainly triggered the Egyptian revolution, as the Egyptian revolution has already encouraged others like Sudan and Yemen, and robbed a good night’s sleep from all the dictators of the region. And no matter which direction the Egyptian revolution takes, Egypt, and the whole region if not the whole world, has passed a point of no return. After the expulsion of Ben Ali, and now the deep and fundamental rejection of Hosni Mubarak, world politics enters a new era.

Today, on the one hand, financing and supporting dictators on the broken backs of the taxpayers, who have no interest in political domination and exploitation of their brothers and sisters on the other side of the globe, is becoming ever more problematic if not yet totally impossible. We are with certainty passing the era in which governments could bank on the people’s ignorance; could feed, arm, and protect dictators and shamelessly call them stable allies. On the contrary, we are witnessing indications that the thunder that smashed the very “stable” Ben Ali and Hosni will be soon felt as far as Washington DC, and people are going to ask questions and demand answers and accountability.

On the other hand, ironically, the much appreciated “stability” – established by eliminating and persecuting all political challenges, actual or potential –has inevitably left Western powers with very few “suitable” alternatives, if any, as substitutes to serve their political goals. This is the dilemma that the West, the United States and its allies are facing in Tunisia, Egypt and other dictatorships of the region.

However, what on the surface seems to be the strength of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, i.e., “One nation, one demand: Mubarak must go,” is at the same time and at least in the short run their Achilles’ heel. The crackdowns, suppression, and physical elimination of advocates of radical change, labour and human rights activists; the total absence of the slightest political and social rights and activities; combined with unimaginable hatred for the dictator among an absolute majority of the people; has deprived the revolution of its revolutionary leadership and organization. The revolution has not managed yet to clarify its immediate demands. We know that women of Egypt are burning for their equal rights; we know the workers want wages that guarantee that 80 percent of the population its share of a humanly acceptable life; we know the people in the street barricades want unconditional freedom of thought and speech, health care and education for all, we know that Egyptians want social and economic justice, and a standard of living equal to that in Western Europe. But what we know, and what the people in Tahrir Square clearly demand and condition any change in the system and form of governance on, are two different realities.

The Egyptian revolution is a revolution without a head, and the body, although simmering with revolutionary spirit, is without a leading revolutionary organization to crystallize the immediate demands of the revolution in the minds of the body of the revolution. The revolution has only declared one objective: “Mubarak must go” – which, although a precondition to any change, including a radical social and economical change, is by no means the only objective. This revolution is about Mubarak and what he politically, economically and socially represents. As long as the revolution has not pulled itself together, organized itself, and introduced its demands, the counter-revolution has free hands to suppress the revolutionary masses, from above and on the shoulders of the revolution – at least in this round of confrontations between the revolution and the enemies of the poor and the disadvantaged.

The revolution of Egypt is unmistakably a revolution of freedom, dignity and bread. There is no doubt that Mubarak’s dictatorship has reached its end. The nature of tomorrow’s government is highly dependent on the clarity of the immediate goals and objectives of the revolution, and the organized efforts to achieve them and the power behind them.

Revolutions are won by heroism and sacrifice but they are not judged by that. Revolutions are judged by their achievements. The status of Egyptian women, wages and bread on the table of Egyptian workers, health and education and freedom – these are the factors that determine the defeat or the victory derived from the sacrifices we witness today.

Long Live Revolution.

Ahmad Fatemi
5 February 2011


Egypte : La révolution pour le pain et la liberté
Translation courtesy of Pascal Yasmina, Révolution en Iran

Après avoir suffoquée des décennies sous la dictature, la population d’Egypte a envahi les rues par millions pour dire qu’il y en a assez, que les gens ne peuvent plus accepter cela et qu’ils méritent une vie humaine.

Les événements en Egypte ne sont pas un coup de tonnerre dans un ciel bleu, les révolutions ne le sont jamais. Si les événements en Tunisie, un autre pays d’Afrique du Nord où brule le sentiment révolutionnaire, peuvent être considérés comme un détonateur, la société égyptienne est depuis longtemps une bombe à retardement prête à exploser à tout moment. Cette explosion était inévitable, et si le genre humain extérieur était dans l’ignorance des souffrances indescriptibles du peuple égyptien pendant ces dernières décennies, si le monde a intentionnellement maintenu l’obscurité pour qu’on voit pas l’inimaginable pauvreté, la famine, le chômage, l’exploitation barbare des masses, la corruption et la misère et si le monde a été mis dans l’ignorance de leurs inévitables conséquences, c’est-à-dire l’oppression, l’Etat policier et la répression constante, des milliers et milliers d’emprisonnés, de torturés et d’assassinés, l’humiliation quotidienne et la corruption bouffant toute la société de l’intérieur, et la rage accumulée pendant des années, le monde doit voir et être témoin du développement et de l’intensification des protestations radicales de la classe ouvrière égyptienne, de la majorité de la population d’Egypte.

Aujourd’hui en Egypte, 80% d’une population de 80 millions de personnes vit sous le seuil de pauvreté et 40% de la population vit avec moins de 2 $ par jour, et il n’est pas nécessaire d’être un analyste socio-économique pour comprendre que cette situation n’est pas vivable. Mais comme dans d’autres entités dictatoriales et leurs alliés soi-disant démocratiques, les politiques ne se basent pas sur la logique, mais plutôt en gains politiques à court terme, ne se basent pas sur la solidarité et les sentiments humains, mais sur les intérêts politiques et économiques immédiats.

Cette incroyable situation inhumaine a duré 30 ans. Cette situation était ironiquement appelée, et est toujours désignée ainsi par l’administration US, comme « stabilité ». Ces trente années de « stabilité » ont été payées par des millions d’Egyptiens : assassinats, emprisonnements, tortures, misère et humiliations quotidiennes. Et le coût financier pour créer et soutenir l’appareil nécessaire à une telle répression systématique a été payé par le dur labeur des contribuables américains.

Les dures protestations de la faim menées en 2005 par les pauvres, et les révoltes nommées par leur cause, ceux « du pain », dans une société qui a la plus consommation de pain la plus élevée au monde, est sans le moindre doute la racine de la révolution en cours. Depuis la révolte du pain, la dissidence s’est développée, et ces dernières années, les protestations ouvrières, avec des millions de travailleurs égyptiens qui ont participé à des manifestations, à des sit-in, et à des grèves, ont atteint un niveau historique. Le mouvement ouvrier égyptien, malgré la répression brutale, a gagné une immense énergie, forçat le gouvernement à des reculs et obtenant une partie de ses revendications.

Aujourd’hui, la révolution en Tunisie a certainement déclenché la révolution égyptienne, tout comme la révolution égyptienne en a déjà encouragé d’autres comme au Soudan et au Yémen, et empêche de dormir tous les dictateurs de la région. Et qu’importe la direction que prend la révolution égyptienne, l’Egypte et toute la région, si ce n’est le monde entier, est arrivé à un point de non retour. Après l’expulsion de Ben Ali, et maintenant le rejet profond et total de Hosni Moubarak, la politique mondiale entre dans une nouvelle ère.

Aujourd’hui, le financement et le soutien de dictateurs sur le dos de contribuables qui n’ont aucun intérêt dans la domination politique et l’exploitation de leurs frères et sœurs de l’autre côté du globe, devient de plus en plus problématique si ce n’est impossible. Nous dépassons certainement l’époque où des gouvernements pouvaient miser sur l’ignorance du peuple, nourrir, armer et protéger des dictateurs et les appeler sans honte leurs alliés stables. Au contraire, nous assistons au moment où le tonnerre qui a brisé les très « stables » Ben Ali et Hosni se ressentira bientôt jusqu’à Washington et que les gens poseront des questions et demanderont des réponses et des comptes.

D’un autre côté, ironiquement, la « stabilité » si appréciée, établie avec l’élimination et la persécution de toute opposition politique réelle ou potentielle, a inévitablement laissé aux puissances occidentales très peu d’alternatives « souhaitables », s’il y en a, en tant que substituts pour servir leurs buts politiques. C’est là le dilemme de l’Occident, auquel les Etats-Unis et leurs alliés font face en Tunisie, en Egypte et dans les autres dictatures de la région.

Pourtant, ce qui semble être en surface la force des révolutions tunisienne et égyptienne, « une nation, une revendication, Moubarak doit partir », est en même temps à court terme son talon d’achille. Les répressions, l’oppression, et l’élimination physique des défenseurs du changement radical, des militants ouvriers et des droits humains, l’absence totale des moindres droits aux activités politiques et sociales, combinées à la haine inimaginable pour le dictateur dans l’immense majorité du peuple, a privé la révolution de sa direction et de son organisation révolutionnaires. Nous savons que les femmes d’Egypte brûlent d’avoir leurs droits à l’égalité, nous savons que les ouvriers revendiquent des salaires qui assurent une vie humainement acceptable à 80% de la population, nous savons que le peuple sur les barricades veut la liberté inconditionnelle d’opinion et d’expression, la santé et l’éducation pour tous, nous savons que les Egyptiens veulent la justice sociale et économique et un niveau de vie égale à celui de l’Europe occidentale. Mais ce que nous savons et ce que les gens revendiquent clairement Place Tahrir et les conditions du changement de système et des formes de gouvernement sont deux réalités différentes.

La révolution égyptienne est une révolution sans tête, et le corps, bien qu’animé par l’esprit révolutionnaire, est sans organisation révolutionnaire pour cristalliser les revendications immédiates de la révolution dans l’esprit du corps de la révolution. La révolution n’a déclaré qu’un seul objectif : « Moubarak doit pazrtir », ce qui, bien que cela soit la première condition à tout changement, dont les transformations sociales et économiques radicales, n’est en aucun cas le seul objectif. Cette révolution est contre Moubarak et ce qu’il représente politiquement, économiquement et socialement. Aussi longtemps que la révolution ne s’est pas rassemblée, organisée elle-même, et mis en avant ses revendications, la contre-révolution a les mains libres pour réprimer les masses révolutionnaires, depuis le haut et sur les épaules de la révolution, au moins à cette étape de l’affrontement entre la révolution et les ennemis des pauvres et des défavorisés.

La révolution en Egypte est sans aucun doute une révolution pour la liberté, la dignité et le pain. Il n’y a aucun doute que la dictature de Moubarak arrive à sa fin. La nature du futur gouvernement est complètement dépendant de la clarification des buts et objectifs immédiats de la révolution et des efforts organisés pour les obtenir et de la force qu’il y a derrière.

Les révolutions sont gagnées par l’héroïsme et le sacrifice mais ne sont pas jugées sur ces critères. Les révolutions sont jugées par leurs réalisations. Le statut des femmes égyptiennes, les salaires et le pain sur la table des ouvriers égyptiens, la santé, l’éducation et la liberté, voilà les facteurs qui déterminent la victoire ou la défaite des sacrifices dont nous sommes témoins aujourd’hui.

Vive la révolution !

Ahmad Fatemi
5 Février 2011


16 thoughts on “Egypt: The Bread and Freedom Revolution

  1. We don’t want your support. Please leave Bahrain and Egypt alone. Those are countries that believe in ISLAM (I can hear it now, I am a tazi butt-kisser). So does Iran (don’t say otherwise), but we are trying to encourage you to get out of our way. Now please get out of here. We are Muslim, we will always be Muslim. We don’t want your help. We have seen enough of the euro-Iranians. We love Islam be it Sunni or Shia and you people simply mean less than nothing to us. We don’t even want your good feelings. These revolutions are by people who want to live as Muslims, no we might not support Muslim brotherhood, but we are not like you murtads who think that shahparast or any other antiIslam pro-Arya bullshit is the way to go

    Posted by Taz | February 15, 2011, 7:53 am
    • People have the right to freedom of belief, of thought, of religion or non-religion. They also have the right to freedom of speech, and a whole panoply of human and civil rights. We do not allow dictators to violate peoples’ fundamental human rights. We stand with people who demand freedom for itself, and freedom from oppressive regimes, whether they are in Egypt, in Iran, in Bahrain, in Sudan, or the United States – we stand with our freedom-loving and freedom-seeking sisters and brothers worldwide.

      I am sorry to see that you do not support their ideals and their demands.


      Posted by missionfreeiran | February 15, 2011, 11:32 am
      • i support the ideals and the demands of good governance and justice. secularists raped your country and that is as clear as day. islamists, and i am waiting for the tazi-butt-kisser comments, are not pure, BUT are better than what you have to offer. i see what you guys say, niggers to the west, lovers of injustice, do you even know what the phrase “child kidnapping rings” means? you ignorant? i am with the egyptians, and when the egyptians will align themselves with the MUSLIMS iran to support the palestinians, you green kafirs will be out in the cold because you can’t accept that islam, a non-racial religion from southeast asia to western africa has certain expectations that you refuse to follow. so please get out of our way, your green movement was dead the first time in 2009 when the election was legitimately won, and you cry babies think you can do it again? hell no.

        Posted by Taz | February 16, 2011, 2:40 am
      • There’s not much worth responding to in this reactionary diatribe; however, I will point out that you are mistaken in your assumption about our political orientation: We do not stand with Mousavi’s green and we never have. We stand for freedom and equality in Iran – and worldwide. Marg bar jomhuri-ye eslamii.

        Posted by missionfreeiran | February 17, 2011, 7:14 am
      • as we speak i saw on twitter, WOMEN in bahrain chanting Husain Ya Husain… Husain Ya Husain. Get over it, even in multi-ethnic persian-arabic bahrain it is ISLAM that will define the events. Your support is not welcome.

        Posted by Taz | February 16, 2011, 2:46 am
      • Maybe you do not welcome our support of women demanding equality in Egypt, or workers demanding their fair wages and benefits, but you are in the minority. It is your efforts to deter support for Egyptian peoples’ demands that are not welcomed by any but a few receding religious ideologues. Their day is passing, quickly.

        Posted by missionfreeiran | February 17, 2011, 6:52 am
  2. wow, when evidence is in your face you still talk non-sense. WOMEN in bahrain, and WOMEN in egypt were at the forefront for the ousters of king and the dictator. you know that, and yet at the same time, you murtad, in egypt and in bahrain those same women were chanting allah akbar(you know, that tazi phrase that tazi butt kissers also recite in that country that you claim is yours, but really isn’t). so don’t go off on your silly talk. and where did i say that i don’t support the right of fair wages or benefits? maybe my english is better than yours so i will forgive you for reading into things that i never said. might it be that in you SICK version of what you claim to be islam (but really isn’t) you want to say that workers rights don’t exist? once again, i repeat, we don’t want your assistance, your help, we don’t even want your thoughts. euro-iranian, islam rejectors have no place in this revolution. native iranian who fought off secular baathist saddam who believe in allah (khodavandah), muhammad (s) and the goodness of his example (not the shit that is written in the book 23 years) are welcome in this revolution. you haven’t even met the people on the streets in egypt or bahrain to know what they want. you won’t even address the fact that all of them bahraini and egyptians are still chanting allah akbar and ya hussain. those were the same musical voices of 1979. we are with those revolutionaries and those are with us. we want the support of THOSE iranians (muslims) we don’t want the support of those who sneaked off with all the ill gotten wealth like little kids when saddam came. now like i said please leave us alone. for those iranians who love islam we say salam dostam khob. lutfan beh ma kammam kunaid. for you euro-iranian aryanist shah murtads, GO AWAY…

    Posted by Taz | February 17, 2011, 7:34 am
    • Egyptian people stood in Tahrir Square and repeated over and over that they want freedom and human and civil rights. They said Muslim and Christian are together in their demands. Women in Egypt are not tolerating their exclusion from the ongoing political process – they are demanding equality. Freedom, gender equality, and those rights recognized as human and civil cannot exist under any theocracy, Islamic or otherwise.

      Your diatribe is not based on anything that is written in the article that you are commenting on, but rather is based on a heavy dose of racism along with your amusing assumptions of who Mission Free Iran is and what we represent. You know what they say about assumptions…

      But anyway, there’s really no need for you to argue your preconceived notions about us with me – argue with the Egyptian people you claim you support.


      Posted by missionfreeiran | February 17, 2011, 10:51 am
  3. when you said Marg bar jomhuri-ye eslamii what you actually meant was Marg bar eslam. that is coded language i have heard thousand times over. if there are egyptians or bahrainis reading this i can assure you that you have lost their good wishes. BYE.

    Posted by Taz | February 17, 2011, 7:37 am
    • You clearly feel that your personal religion is being threatened. But as I told you from our very first exchange, we demand freedom of religion or non-religion for all people. (That includes you, by the way. ;))

      For people to have freedom of religion, it requires a secular governance, both in practice and on paper. We therefore demand an end to theocracy. And I therefore repeat, MARG BAR JOMHURI-YE ESLAMII, the mass murderers of tens of thousands of Iranian people from Day One of this regime’s murderous counterrevolution.

      By the way, you do know about the Prison Massacres of 1988, don’t you?


      Posted by missionfreeiran | February 17, 2011, 10:57 am
  4. you do not threaten my religion at all. and i can see that as we type the revolutionaries in bahrain and egypt, if they are reading this, and i am sure they are, are supporting you less and less. keep up the good work iranian murtad. while you are showing your colors about how you feel about islam, the true iranian MUSLIMS are supporting their MUSLIM brothers and sisters in egypt and bahrain. are those people tazi-butt-kissers? and with your platitudes like marg bar islam, let me give you something that you probably already know. the iranian government is still supported by the common folk. yes they would love to have a government easier on them, but do they desire the end of islam in the government? they will sacrifice their lives before that happens and you know it. that is why you will not get the support of the iranian masses with your elitist non-sense. but keep talking this way. i am waiting for the tazi remarks… or perhaps i might end up reading how they are … um lizard eaters?

    Posted by Taz | February 17, 2011, 11:34 am
    • It is an absurd assertion that the masses desire a continuation of an Islamic regime in Iran. Please go check the post that is at the top of our site today on the February 14 protests. None of the tens of thousands in the streets on February 14 were supporting even the reformists.

      The people demand toppling of this regime.

      It is a demand that has been made from the beginning, reflected in the fact that the Islamic Republc regime did not take complete control of the country for 2+ years after it countered the popular revolution that deposed the Shah (of which the Islamists were but one part, and not even the majority). The Islamic Republic had to conduct a military offensive against Kurdistan to bring it under control. Because people did not want a theocracy.

      You have a popular albeit incorrect understanding of the history of the peoples’ relationship to the Islamic Republic, from Day One til present, including the idea that toppling this regime is an elitist exercise. The people who have suffered longest in prison as a result of demanding their freedoms in Iran are the poorest ones, the workers, the ones who have no money and no political influence to obtain their release.

      As far as waiting for insults from us… that only shows again a misunderstanding of who we are and what we stand for.


      Posted by missionfreeiran | February 17, 2011, 1:49 pm


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