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           Volume 10 |Issue 09| March 04, 2011 |


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The Maze of Historical Turnarounds

Subir Das

A veiled Egyptian woman protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square as
thousands gather to celebrate the success of their revolution. Photo: AFP

As history is coming across drastic turnarounds in several Muslim countries, we have an opportunity to get a vicarious thrill out of observing the ousting of the autocrats who have continuously squashed the prosperity of the nations into smithereens for the sake of personal interest. If you concur with Barack Obama on his comment, “There are few moments in our lives where we can witness history taking place”, you have found a good number of historical events taking place around the world since the dawn of this millennium and to be precise, the appearance of this year.

In flashback, the dramatic act of terrorism on 9/11-steering aircrafts through skyscrapers and reducing them to rubble within a few seconds, waging war by US against Iraq and Afghanistan, the Mumbai-attack on 26/11- the 62 hours gunfight between Indian troops and terrorists, splitting of the colossal African country Sudan into two parts following referendum, the ousting of Tunisian and Egyptian regimes and movements against repressive regimes rippling through several Muslim countries-are landmarks in the massive historical turnarounds since the beginning of this millennium. Moreover, within the aforementioned timeline, we said farewell to the smallest planet of the solar system, Pluto; Muntazeer Al Zaidi, an Iraqi journalist, issued 'the farewell kiss' to President George W Bush.

The mass upsurge around a sizable part of the globe followed the domino theory in which falling down of a domino had a ripple-effect on the entire system. Egypt, a significant domino next to Tunisia which was caught in the maze of mass upsurge, underwent a crucial historical episode ending a repressive regime through peaceful demonstration. Corruption and human rights abuse were rife in the country. Hosni Mubarak siphoned off millions of US dollars from the country and stashed away the money in a Swiss bank which was frozen immediately after he stepped down, putting an end to 30 years of presidency. It is, however, confounding that US president Barrack Obama swore allegiance to the Mubarak regime, saying, “Mubarak is a good man. He maintained stability. We will continue to support him.” Renowned analyst Noam Chomsky said, “US has been the strongest, most solid and most important supporter of the regime. Egypt is the second largest recipient over a long period of US military and economic aid.”

However, Obama's attitude towards Egypt turned into sheer nonchalance after Hosni Mubarak finally stepped down as president. “Each country is different. America cannot dictate how they run their society. History will end up recording that at every juncture in the situation of Egypt that we were on the right side of the history” – this was his statement after the fall of the Mubarak regime. The diplomatic web woven by the vested quarters has been mysterious. Obama's position on Egypt doesn't make significant difference from that on Kashmir. Obama vowed to solve the Kashmir dispute, what he termed 'one of his critical tasks' during election campaign, but around two years after the election, he made the affirmation that he wouldn't intervene in Kashmir.

Thousands of Egyptians wave their national flag. Photo: AFP

Indubitably, human rights violation in Egypt added fuel to the rebellion swirling around Egypt. Khaled Saeed, a vivacious young Egyptian and a passionate musician was brutally beaten by police officers, and he succumbed to his injuries. The trail was warm as an image of his corpse showed a twisted face and fractured skull. Imbued with grief, his mother recalled that Khaled was beaten to death for uploading a photo which depicted the alleged involvement of police officers in an illegal drug deal. The image of the corpse uploaded to Facebook ignited the sentiment of general people and worked as a catalyst for the rebellion which culminated into the stepping down of Hosni Mubarak (a self-proclaimed patriot). While being interviewed by BBC after the repressive regime was overthrown, Khaled's mother said, “Today I am so happy. Khaled is alive. He was so innocent. These young people– they are protesting– all are Khaled.”

Although human rights abuses did not constitute as being the sole factor in the revolution, it did give an impetus to the mass upsurge which has some resemblance to the situation in Kashmir. Around a year ago, two female members of the same family, Nilofar and Aisha, were found dead in a restricted zone in Kashmir. They were reportedly raped and thrown into the place. Human rights abuse and repression trigger repeated clashes between young people and the troops deployed in the valley. Young protesters formed an organised network through Facebook, taking to the street whenever they get a signal and hurling stones at the troops.

The regimes across the globe should mull over the fact that they are living in the 21st century world where the news of any event may reach the farthest end of the world before one can blink. The reports of repression and human rights violation spread faster than wildfire through Facebook and other mediums. Securing human rights, freedom of speech and free flow of information emerged not only as the demand of the times but the demand of the existence of the regime as well.

The great philosopher and writer, Leo Tolstoy, once said, “The strength of the government lies in the ignorance of people.” However, it may be deduced from the ouster of the repressive regime in Egypt and the swirl of rebellion around several Muslim countries that the weakness of the government lies in the consciousness of the general people. The mass upsurge swirling around a sizeable part of the globe prompted Obama to say that there are few moments where a person can witness historical turnarounds. Please note the word 'witness'. But he should take into account that people are not only the witnesses to history but its designers as well.

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