What happened in 1954?
Last year Big Brosky (Mickey Boston) was reading Leila Khaled’s account of the struggle for “Arab Revolution” from the McGill library. There is an instance in which she storms out of her lecture, sent to the dean’s office for her rebellious political stance. As result, the chapter moves towards her being austerely firm in her loud and rather rambunctious screamings in the institution’s corridors. She continued to scream “Revolution, the Revolution cannot be stopped, long live the Revolution!”
In essence, Leila Khalid was obsessed with the idea of Revolution in a realm of undeniably familiar and ever present Arab nationalism within the region. Mickey Boston undeniably found the book quite amusing let alone entertaining. Khalid’s vision was a passion-driven one. It was sincere and sometimes cluttered with nuages of vanity. Revolution and Vanity went hand-in-hand occasionally as noted in one of Khalid’s most popular photographs.
Despite such nuances, the struggle for “Freedom” within the greater Arab geographical circa may not have been existent within the modern era. Moreover, it is vivid that it hasnt been such since the creation of the occupying state of Israel. While Israel in itself may take pride in assuming itself as the most “democratic” state in the Middle-East, it is an oxymoronic statement within itself, clashing with the ideals of Palestinian oppression that has foreshadowed its very existence and pillars of establishment within the region since 1948.
“Peace” and “Freedom” in Israel has come to the expense of established dictatorships within its neighbouring Arab states. Moreover, the establishment of Egypt was what evoked the aspect of “Resistance” on the part of Arab states and/or Arab peoples. The creation of “Resistance” movements has been undeniably rooted in the notion and genuine fact that oppression exists within the region. Any political scientist can affirm to one that “Resistance” is the response to “Oppression.”
History continues to haunt the Arab landscape both literally and figuratively alike. In context of Egypt, history has much to communicate from one generation to a newer, younger, social network equipped generation. Back in ’54, a tsunami of youthful and vibrant protesters flooded the streets of Cairo in like manner of the 2011 protests. It was on a balmy March 1954 that students spewed from university gates onto the streets with the sublime determination and intent to cross none other than the Qasr el Nil bridge and align themselves physically with fellow protesters on the other side for a large-scale demo at the gates of the official presidential palace in Abdin Square.
The scene of chaos on the bridge has vivid parallels with the bridge confrontation of 2011. It is undeniable that the youtube raw footage of the clashes will be forever remembered and embedded in the minds so many, from those who were there, to those werent there but watched it via social media or al-jazeera live webcasts from home. What is riveting is the aspect of the water cannon spraying protesting Egyptians on the bridge as they prayed. As they stood shoulder to shoulder in salat, they were sprayed repeatedly. As they bowed and prostrated to the Almighty, they continued to be antagonized by the cold, heavy pressured water cannon sprays, repeatedly soaking and gushing them in a puddle of water.
WATCH THE ABOVE AT 3:20MIN
This footage is striking and what is even more striking is the resilience of the people, not breaking the line. What was to ensue, a full assault, was to become even more haunting. Indeed, there are some slight parallels of 1954, however have things gotten much more brutal? From the looks of it, unfortunately yes.
As of right now, the protests are an ongoing series of street demonstrations, marches, rallies, acts of civil disobedience, riots, and violent clashes that began inEgypt on 25 January 2011, a day selected to coincide with the National Police Day holiday.The protests began with tens of thousands marching in Cairo and a string of other cities in Egypt. While localised protests had been common in previous years, the 2011 protests have been the largest demonstrations seen in Egypt since the 1977 Bread Riots and unprecedented in scope, drawing participants from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds and faiths.
In hindsight, looking back at 1954, Egypt itself had recently shifted itself from the rule of King Farouk, who was ousted in a military coup led by Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1952. The coup was initially met with support and hope however, this was to only rapidly assume a dissipation for the worst as the Egyptian people watched their new leadership align itself with nothing more than intimidation and brutal repression. Newspapers were nationalized, the constitution was suspended and members of the opposition were arrested, something only repetitious over the past six decades which was to assume a trans-generational vicious cycle.
The question now arises, where is the Arab world going? will the Arab peoples finally remove their despotic regimes via peaceful protest, social media and strikes? The power may not be in the people nor their social media. Undeniably, as mentioned earlier in this piece, “Resistance” is solely created via the presence of an “Oppression”; it is almost as if Batman would not exist without the Joker. Indeed, without the villain, there is no hero and hence heroism is contingent upon villainy.
What has occured in Egypt is not a “Revolution.” The tyrannical regime has not been removed. The creation and current existence of banned groups of the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Hezbollah are clearly due to the presence of Israel. It is undoubtedly such that if Israel did not exist or even cease to exist, would these “rogue” governments and organizations be in function? Most likely not.
In 1954, Americans were more focused Marilyn Monroe being married to Joe DiMaggio. This was the gossip of the era. Individuals cannot fault the times, state controlled newspapers are not today’s realm of wikileaks, al-jazeera English live stream, Iphones, blackberries and of course, facebook and twitter respectively. Today, the people do undeniably stand a better chance at a “Revolution” than back in ’54 where Joey Giardello knocked out Willie Tory at Madison Square Garden, in the first televised boxing prize fight to be shown in colour.
Oh and a few other things from ’54, the first operational subway line in Canada opens in Toronto, Ontario, a CIA-engineered military coup occurs in Guatemala, the Miss America Pageant is broadcast on television for the first time and of course, Dwight D. Eisenhower gives his “domino theory” speech during a news conference. The ‘domino theory’ is kind of like how Tunisia 2011 moved to Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Jordan.