A critical note on the post-Arab Spring Tunisia, which has gone back to one-man rule.
Three years ago, the Egyptian Revolution was fighting for its life in Tahrir Square. For 18 days and nights, the women and men of the Square faced off against President Hosni Mubarak’s security forces and thugs. In the end Mubarak was forced to follow Tunisia’s President-for-life, Ben Ali, into retirement and shame. The light of freedom spread–Square to Square, occupation to occupation. It was a historic turning point.
It was this global struggle that the military coup that ousted Morsi, and led to the massacre of over 800 of his supporters, was meant to stop short. Now, revolution continues, and the freedom idea lives, but the old world has tried hard to destroy it. Egypt’s newest new Constitution, passed Jan. 15 under the military rule of General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, evokes only faint echoes of Tahrir. As artist Hanaa Safwat said, “The referendum is stained in innocent people’s blood. It has been built on the dead bodies of 800 people in Rabaa al-Adawiya.”
The mass protests in Turkey, the presidential election in Iran and, above all, the continuing struggle for the Syrian revolution express the depth of today’s social crisis. These crises are interpenetrated and inseparable. The stakes are high.
Across the Maghreb and Middle East there have been demonstrations and uprisings, from Bahrain to Algeria to Morocco, Sudan to Yemen to Iran. The revolts have included some of the lowest and deepest layers of the oppressed people and have seen the ruling classes of the world tremble.