"What do we mean by the Revolution? The war? That was no part of the revolution; it was only an effect and consequence of it. The revolution was in the minds of the people."~~John Adams in an 1815 letter to Thomas Jefferson
Historians and political scientists study revolutions and analyze their impact, not only on their societies, where the political, economic, and social order is fundamentally transformed, but also on neighboring countries and beyond.
The Egyptian revolution, though still in its infancy, promises to be such a phenomenon. Admitting its historic nature was none other than the U.S. President, Barack Obama, who lauded the Egyptians as having "inspired us," and praised their revolution, which he said represented a "moral force that bent the arc of history toward justice."
He further added, "The word Tahrir means liberation. It's a word that speaks to that something in our souls that cries out for freedom." He went on to describe the momentous event and its impact on the world, saying, "And forever more it will remind us of the Egyptian people-of what they did, of the things that they stood for, and how they changed their country, and in doing so changed the world."
By M. Soli
Like similar great historical events, the triumph of the Egyptian revolution will have direct and significant consequences on the country, the region, and the world. Unsurprisingly some of the conditions that factored considerably in the success of the revolution have now become facts on the ground, such as the larger role of youth and women in politics and public life. Thus they are discussed here as well. Here are some of the most important consequences of Egypt's revolution.
The role of the people: For many decades, the Egyptian people have been marginalized and their interests ignored. Since 1981, the deposed president had ruled the country based on the state of emergency law, which virtually suspended most of the people's civil rights and political freedoms.
It had built an enormous security apparatus using a convoluted, multi-layered system that included uniformed, riot, and secret police, as well as intelligence officers and the dreaded state security personnel, consisting of well over one million people nationwide. The regime ruled by fear and intimidation, employing wide use of brutal tactics including torture and summary military trials that sentenced opponents to long years of hard labor based on political beliefs.
Dr. Ahmad Okasha, president of the Egyptian Psychological Society explained that throughout the Mubarak years "the collective psyche of the Egyptian people was damaged." Furthermore, he added, "the majority of the people were in a deep state of depression." They felt insulted and abused by the authorities, powerless to change anything in society, literally strangers in their own country.
So what the revolution offered the people was the opportunity to restore their sense of self-esteem, honor and dignity. Once the fear barrier was knocked down, they acquired a new sense of pride and empowerment that not only challenged the state monopoly on violence but also defeated it using solely peaceful means. With each passing day they became more determined to fight for their rights and quite willing to tender the sacrifices needed to gain their freedom.
Hence, once the people realized their enormous collective power and what they are capable of achieving, they never looked back and would not be disregarded again.
The role of the youth: By sucking the air out of the political space, the deposed regime employed all of its resources to divert the attention of the youth and channel their energies into non-threatening matters such as sports competitions (recall the Algerian-Egyptian conflict that consumed the country last year, lasting for months because of a soccer game) or exhaust people by encouraging mass consumerism.
But since the youth have played a significant role in setting off and sustaining the revolution, their role in society will never be the same. Egyptian youth under 35 represent over 60 per cent of society, yet before the revolution they were not taken seriously nor given much credit.
Now, not only are they part of the most significant event in their modern history but they will also have a seat at the table to determine their country's future. Already they are a major part of every organization, coalition, and committee appointed or elected to determine the next state of affairs in the country. The ruling military council has already met with their representatives several times. All opposition groups have welcomed them in their parties, offering them leadership positions.
The role of women: Similarly, the women of Egypt have played a major role in this revolution. They demonstrated in large numbers, and were essential organizers, leaders, and spokespersons during all phases of the revolution, including during the most difficult times when they came under physical attack by the security forces and thugs of the ruling party.