Sajed Bhandari

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Archive for February 2011

Revolution: Egypt

“Revolution: Egypt”
Sajed Bhandari

 The great thing about waking up every day is not being completely sure what one will take part in during the subsequent hours. I woke up yesterday thinking I would get some work done for my Accounting Theory class, but I ended up getting a phone call from a close friend of mine; an Egyptian guy who like every good Muslim boy, is going to medical school next semester iA. He called and asked if I wanted to go to the protest in front of the Egyptian consulate in Manhattan. I, wanting to be a revolutionary as badly as can be possible, decided to tag along and go yell and carry signs for a few hours. I am going to leave out the bit about his horrible driving and parking skills and just skip to the part that really mattered; the protest. We walked along 46th street trying to catch up with the protesters who marched towards the consulate from the UN building. In all honesty, I was not expecting a large protest. At the most, I thought it would be my two Egyptian friends, a family or two and I yelling at the consulate. I have never been happier about my expectations failing to comply with reality as I was last night. I was beautifully wrong, my expectations failed marvellously. As we walked along the busy street, I noticed an endless procession of signs and loud Arabs (redundant) turning a corner about two city-blocks ahead of us. I was excited. There are very few times in this life that I have become visibly excited. (Lost Season 4 premiere, getting an offer from a great accounting firm, and waiting on line for the Simpsons Movie being the only three times.) But watching this gathering of so many people, marching in solidarity with the demands of the Egyptians in Tahrir Square and elsewhere in that ancient country was short of nothing but beautiful. It is the only word that would describe a motley crowd of individuals marching for human dignity and liberty. It was beautiful. I intend on keeping this article short and devoid of as many political thoughts as I possibly can.

 We walked, hundreds of Muslim, Christian, religious, secular, Arab, non-Arab, veiled and unveiled individuals along the wintry streets of New York with solidarity with the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutionaries (at least I was, a Tunisian started this whole thing). We marched, socialist and capitalist to remind others of what the Egyptians are fighting for. They are fighting for far more than their daily bread. They are fighting for the right to life, to disagree, to live as life is meant to be lived—with liberty and dignity. They fight for fundamental human rights and democracy is the institution from which all human rights can find any true practice in this world. It is easy for those who do not take part in any form of activism to criticize those who do as hopelessly idealistic and providing no material change in the world. But it took one individual ready to submit to immolation so his countrymen could be free and subsequently spark a revolution that will bring about reform throughout the Muslim world. This revolution emerged from the ashes of Mohamed Bouazizi and the world is a better place for his sacrifice.

 I offer no political commentary or insight because at the end of the day this is not a political issue for me, rather it is an issue of basic human existence. Why am I, a Bengali American, so enthralled by the revolution in Egypt? It is because the revolution is liberty manifest on the ancient streets of Egypt. Liberty is surrounded by risk. The comfort a tyrant offers with his security is beautiful to so many. But at what price? Do we offer atop the tyrant’s altar the dignity of the individual in hopes of the tyrant’s providential hands offering stability? What life is it that requires as the price of security the basic human rights of an individual? The freedom to speak, to worship as one sees fit and to live without coercion are basic human rights. It is time we rid ourselves of the slave mentality and attain the dignity that every human being deserves. The slave mentality is that which states “the stability offered by the tyrant is superior to the risks associated with fighting for liberty”. At its core is the belief that the devil we know is better than the devil we don’t know. The Egyptians and Tunisians fighting on the streets disagree. They rise up against the slave mentality. The devils have ruled far too long over the lives of man and it is time we too rise up against all those who seek to deny life to the living.

Written by sajedbhandari

February 5, 2011 at 7:18 pm

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