Khush Amdeed (Welcome)

Welcome to Chowraha - crossroads!

Chowraha is the crossroads of thoughts, events, opinions and feelings...all that have been shaped by individuals living in an increasingly complex world inter-connected through various means of communications.

This blog is about the crossroads in society - whether it is those of a diaspora community, global media complicating the structure of nations and cultures, or individuals finding parallels in spaces unknown to them.

Note:
The above picture is courtesy a much-admired photographer (Ali Khurshid) whose work is a source of inspiration and reaffirms the belief in the complex beauty of this world.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What Egypt Taught Me: People plus Media is equal to Power

As I sit here breathless in London, flicking channels between Al Jazeera English, BBC, CNN and France 24, in anxiety and excitement to see what Hosni Mubarak will announce within the hour, I cant help but realize what the last 14 days with Egypt has taught me. It's been a rush of emotions, for me in the last few hours, a non-Egyptian, feeling in one with the Egyptians standing on Tahrir Square, and all the revolutionaries around the world. I have been going to work every day but keeping my browser tabs open to Twitter, Al Jazeera English Live stream and BBC live stream following closely what the youth in Cairo and Alexandria were achieving by the mere power of their unity and patience.

Power of People


Hundreds of people sacrificed their lives in this struggle but it only strengthened the resolve of the activists from Maidan Tahrir (Liberation Square). Noam Chomsky has spoken about people power being a power to reckon with, that when united can confront the political-economic powers of the world combined. Egyptians demonstrated in their country the essential ingredients of " people power" - a combination of unity, faith and discipline - essential ingredients for success in any country as pointed out by Muhammad Ali Jinnah during the movement for the creation of Pakistan.

Wael Ghonem and April 6th Movement activists demonstrated how it was not a spur of the moment reaction that Egyptian youth undertook but an intelligent coming together of plans, strategies and its execution. The queues outside Tahrir Square were a sight of immense strength, the patience of protestors camping at Tahrir square sharing celebrations, foods, and keeping their struggle a peaceful one was immensely exciting.

This power of the people can not only be seen to bring down authoritarian regimes like Tunisia and Egypt but also international powers like USA, China, France, and UK repeatedly wording out their commitment to allow Egyptians to draw out their own history. Media too has been manipulated by people power. The images on State TV in Egypt throughout the revolting period were a mellowed down version of the protests, editorial policies that showed things were under the government's control. Now, half an hour before Mubarak makes his appearance live, State television is showing the same images of hundreds of thousands of Egyptians celebrating their near victory as any other independent channel.

Power of People Using "Media"

What these last two weeks have also taught me is the power of people when they embrace all tools available to them to express their opinions. Technology has played a huge role in the roll-out of events in Egypt. Wael Ghonim in an interview to an international channel confessed that it was months of preparation over internet that galvanized the revolutionaries.

Despite Egypt censoring internet providers for almost a week in Egypt since January 25th the power of global communication thanks to the presence of internet technology defeated the Mubarak regime on this front too. At this point in time, matters are so different that there is even free wireless setup at Tahrir square for the hundreds of thousands of civilians to make use of. Al Jazeera English tweeted its news throughout this internet black out, being re-tweeted by internet activists from around the world and spreading the word throughout the world. Journalists from within Egypt spoke to colleagues and friends outside of Egypt over telephone, who in return tweeted on their behalf.

At this moment, when television channels from around the world are showing the scenes from Egypt at their prime, I cannot help but notice that I am blogging on my laptop, following tweets on the side, Whatsapping on iphone with my friend in Egypt, watching Al Jazeera and BBC on TV and noticing the crowds of people waving their country's flags and chanting slogans and singing songs in anticipation for what looks like the victory of people power!