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I Wish You Egypt: An open letter to people of conscience in the West. Omar Barghouti

March 24, 2011

Guest post by OMAR BARGHOUTI

I wish you Egypt!

I wish you empowerment to resist; to fight for social and economic justice; to win your real freedom and equal rights.

I wish you the will and skill to break out of your carefully concealed prison walls. See, in our part of the world, prison walls and thick inviolable doors are all too overt, obvious, over-bearing, choking; this is why we remain restive, rebellious, agitated, and always in preparation for our day of freedom, of light, when we gather a critical mass of people power enough to cross all the hitherto categorical red lines. We can then smash the thick, cold ugly, rusty chains that have incarcerated our minds and bodies for all our lives like the overpowering stench of a rotting corpse in our claustrophobic prison cell.

Your prison cells, however, are quite different. The walls are well hidden lest they evoke your will to resist. There is no door to your prison cell — you may roam about “freely,” never recognizing the much larger prison you are still confined to.

I wish you Egypt so you can decolonize your minds, for only then can you envision real liberty, real justice, real equality, and real dignity.

I wish you Egypt so you can tear apart the sheet with the multiple-choice question, “what do you want?”, for all the answers you are given are dead wrong. Your only choice there seems to be between evil and a lesser one.

I wish you Egypt so you can, like the Tunisians, the Egyptians, the Libyans, the Bahrainis, the Yemenis, and certainly the Palestinians, shout “No! We do not want to select the least wrong answer. We want another choice altogether that is not on your damned list.” Given the choice between slavery and death, we unequivocally opt for freedom and dignified life — no slavery, and no death.

I wish you Egypt so you can collectively, democratically, and responsibly re-build your societies; to reset the rules so as to serve the people, not savage capital and its banking arm; to end racism and all sorts of discrimination; to look after and be in harmony with the environment; to cut wars and war crimes, not jobs, benefits and public services; to invest in education and healthcare, not in fossil fuel and weapons research; to overthrow the repressive, tyrannical rule of multinationals; and to get the hell out of Afghanistan, Iraq, and everywhere else where under the guise of “spreading democracy” your self-righteous crusades have spread social and cultural disintegration, abject poverty and utter hopelessness.

I wish you Egypt so you can fulfill your countries’ legal and moral obligations to help rebuild the ravished, de-developed economies and societies of your former — or current — colonies, so that their young men can find their own homelands viable, livable and lovable again, instead of risking death — or worse — on the high seas to reach your mirage-washed shores, giving up loved ones and a place they once called home. You see, they’re “here” because you were there… and we all know what you did there!

I wish you Egypt so you can rekindle the spirit of the South African anti-apartheid struggle by holding Israel accountable to international law and universal principles of human rights, by adopting boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), called for by an overwhelming majority in Palestinian civil society. There is no more effective, non-violent way to end Israel’s occupation, racial discrimination and decades-old denial of the UN-sanctioned right of Palestinian refugees to return.

Our oppression and yours are deeply interrelated and intertwined — it is never a zero-sum game! Our joint struggle for universal rights and freedoms is not merely a self gratifying slogan that we raise; rather, it is a fight for true emancipation and self determination, an idea whose time has vociferously arrived.

After Egypt, it is our time. It is time for Palestinian freedom and justice. It is time for all the people of this world, particularly the most exploited and downtrodden, to reassert our common humanity and reclaim control over our common destiny.

I wish you Egypt!

Omar Barghouti is a Palestinian human rights activist, former resident of Egypt, and author of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS): The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights (Haymarket: 2011). Published originally in the Huffington Post.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. Harsha permalink
    March 24, 2011 12:43 PM

    What about the future of the Coptic Christian community of Egypt

  2. March 25, 2011 10:21 AM

    I have been a follower of Egypt since I was very small- then I got married to an Egyptian (am an Indian) and fell in love with the warm people of Egypt even more

    I always was very curious to understand the stand off attitude between Egypt and Israel – underneath lies pure hatred at times I think on both sides- till one day it was explained to me in the context of Pak vis a vis India relationship

    So the moot issue once again is corrupt politicians allowing those frissons to remain and consolidate as it suits their interests.

    I completely empathize with this post- beautifully written and sincerely wish Egypt peace and real freedom always

    • shama zaidi permalink
      March 25, 2011 10:55 AM

      @Mee. The Pakistan-India parallel with Egypt-Israel is way off. India-Pakistan-Bangladesh are three countries formed out of an undivided India. Though the divide is religious, the people and their culture are similar.Whereas Israel is a settler nation of outsiders who have taken over some one else’s country because 2000 years ago people of their faith dominated that area. Israeli culture and Palestinian culture have very little in common. It just so happens that the Palestinians who could not be driven off from their homes in what is now Israel are now willy-nilly Israelis and the rest are stateless.

  3. March 25, 2011 11:13 AM

    @shama zaidi. Thx. At times such truths as stated by you simply do not get absorbed by me

    One nation being hived off into BD or Pak has left massive corrosion and hatred behind? (these 3 nations continue to remember the East India days even today)

    Israelis came and took over Palestine and made it their home, leaving the Palestinians homeless – is, equally about corrosion and hatred?:(

    At the base of it all is peoples idea of “home” versus some peoples idea of power, ambition and domination

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