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Ayman Nour calls on Egypt to rise for a ‘second wave’ to improve lives

Speech by Dr. Ayman Nour, former Egyptian presidential candidate, to the Egyptian people on the centenary of the 1919 revolution
Dr. Ayman Nour, former Egyptian presidential candidate in Istanbul, Turkey on 9 October 2018 [OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images]
Dr. Ayman Nour, former Egyptian presidential candidate in Istanbul, Turkey on 9 October 2018 [OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images]

In the name of Allah Most Gracious Most Merciful,

I stand before you today to mark an occasion that is dear to every Egyptian and every Arab and to all free nations who recognised the value of a great revolution that emanated out of Egypt, a revolution from which the world learned the principles of peacefulness, struggle and sacrifice. Perhaps what was said by the great Indian leader, Gandhi, is the best proof that the 1919 revolution had an impact on him personally and on his country and its revolution for independence and freedom.

The 1919 revolution which erupted on this day 100 years ago was not just an Egyptian revolution but the spark that ignited numerous revolutions in the region such as the 1920 revolution in Iraq, the 1921 countryside revolution in Morocco, the revolution in Libya, the Great Syrian revolution in 1925 and other movements in the region.

I should begin by saluting the martyrs of our mother revolution, the revolution of 1919 and the soul of Saad Zagloul and his comrades, foremost among them is the late Mustafa Al-Nahas and his successor and disciple, my own mentor and spiritual father, Fuad Siraj Al-Din.

I should also salute the souls of all the martyrs of our own revolution, the January 25 Revolution, and the souls of all those who continue to pay the price and those who have perished in the struggle for our freedom and human dignity in Egypt and in the countries of the Arab Spring from Tunisia to Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen. I salute whoever is still defending freedom in the prisons of the despotic oppressors.

READ: The Arab Spring is on its way to Sudan and Algeria

I should salute on this occasion the struggle and sacrifices of our brothers and sisters in fraternal Sudan and heroic Algeria, in a new wave of Arab Spring. And prior to all, I should salute our people in free Palestine, who continue the struggle despite the occupation and its Arab allies.

Brothers and Sisters,

A hundred years ago, this people rose in a revolution whose slogan was: independence and constitution. The people offered martyrs and blood for the two objectives together at a time when many advanced nations knew nothing about the constitution or did not pay it much attention.

Although it is a matter that calls for pride, it is also a matter that calls for sorrow, that in the aftermath of two real revolutions, 1919 and 25 January, Egypt is still, after 100 years of revolution, in need of hoisting the same slogan once more “independence and constitution” around which it might unite its stance and mend the split that afflict its unity and threaten its image before the civilised nations.

Egyptians come together, participating in the revolution that took place on 25th January 2011 [Twitter]

Egyptians come together, participating in the revolution that took place on 25th January 2011 [Twitter]

Brothers and Sisters,

The second independence has become mandatory for Egypt to regain its place and status after despotism led to sacrificing our national decision for the sake of the Zionist will and the wills of states that operate in the service of the Zionist colonial project.

The second independence of Egypt means that it should be free from all the features of the republic of fear, of detentions, of political executions and from all the features of  impoverishing the people and humiliating them.

The second independence means that our will is freed from military rule, from poverty and corruption, in all its forms and shapes.

Without this second independence the deterioration will simply continue.

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And without the constitution, Egypt will never be restored and the rights of the people and a better today and a better tomorrow will not be secured. Nor will Egyptians be able to choose those that rule them without succumbing to any power apart from the power of the mind and that of national conscience.

One hundred years after upholding the slogan of independence and constitution, we believe more than at any time before that this people deserves to live in a free and constitutional homeland whose skies are not shielded by the despotic clouds of a new Pharaoh; whose rituals are not blemished by the worship of a despot who monopolises power and authority and who imposes restrictions on the freedom of expression; and whose air is not poisoned by rigged polls that do not represent the people but that truly mutilates it.

Today, we call upon the Egyptian people and the free peoples of the world to reject the disastrous amendments that Al-Sisi intends to make to the constitution, which while we reject it we also oppose Al-Sisi’s attempt to empty it from the last remaining accomplishments of our revolution and our struggle to limit the duration of the presidential term to a maximum of eight years. We oppose conducting a referendum without real guarantees and real observation.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi in Cairo, Egypt on 5 June 2018 [Egyptian President Office/Apaimages]

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi in Cairo, Egypt on 5 June 2018 [Egyptian President Office/Apaimages]

What we call for today is a second independence from the tyrannical rule of the Pharaoh, who serves a dubious Zionist agenda. We also call for rejecting his criminal amendments to the current constitution and opposing a referendum without guarantees.

Brothers and Sisters,

I am not talking about the plans for 2019 or next month. I am talking about the coming days.

Brothers and Sisters,

The state of division and fragmentation, which dominates the relations among the constituents of the national Egyptian community now as well as since 3 July 2013 coup, is not different from the reality endured by Egypt prior to the 1919 revolution. Egypt had seen a sharp societal division that reached its peak with the organisation of the first Coptic conference in 1908 and the second Coptic conference in 1911 with the aim of dividing Egypt into two states, one Islamic and another Coptic.

If the results and accomplishments of the 1919 revolution took some years to transpire, the most important manifestations of that revolution were achieved by restored the unity of the national community. Perhaps it was the scene of the embrace between the crescent and the cross in Al-Azhar that meant Egyptians would not remain divided.

We, the Egyptian people, realise with absolute certainty that the most serious of our ills is our division and that the fatal ill has been the absence of national partnership to salvage a homeland whose current conditions abhor us all.

READ: Egyptian intellectuals predict a second wave of ‘Arab Spring’

Therefore, as we mark this revealing memory, and while learning a lesson from the distant and the near past, a group of the children of this nation have come together to establish and derive from the revolutions of 1919 and 25 January a number of principles and lessons as well as the common foundations upon which we may be able to establish a broad national partnership among the children of this homeland, a partnership among citizens and not among parties or currents, a partnership among those who are within and those who our outside the homeland, of figures and youth, from the extreme right to the extreme left, without excluding anyone and without distinction on religious or ideological basis or on political stances.

I take pleasure in announcing that a gathering will very soon be convened for a dialogue about the nature of this encompassing umbrella and the broad national project.

Brothers and Sisters,

It was not Al-Wafd Party that started the 1919 revolution. Yet, it was one of its outcomes and fruits. So, the 1919 revolution was the actual call for establishing a party that became a universal umbrella for all strands of the national spectrum aimed at defending the accomplishments of the revolution and restoring its correct path. This is what the January revolution has not yet succeeded in accomplishing, in facing existing challenges and even bigger future challenges.

Our call on a revolution’s centenary, in defence of freedom, independence and constitution, cannot be a call for division or for dividing the already divided. Rather, it is a call for unity in facing the aggression of an oppressive and despotic military authority that has placed all people in one camp.

Remembering the Egyptian Revolution - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor

Remembering the Egyptian Revolution – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor

The unity of the Egyptian national community is not partisan. Nor is it an option for some to accept and for others to reject.

We say it today to everyone .. be reassured and assure us about you, for you are not alone and we are not alone. Perhaps our common position of rejecting those constitutional amendments will be the first fruit – and I would not say of our unity but – of our union.

Brothers and Sisters .. we have never ever been in such need for feeling our unity. Unite so as for the sick to find medication, for the poor to find nutrition, and for sons and fathers to meet.

Unite and bring yourselves together for the sake of your religion, your state, your land, your hour and the future of you children; for your Egypt, your Arabism, your freedom and your dignity; and in order for dignified life to be restored to your homes, farms and factories.

Unite so as the scholars, orators, free peoples, workers, students, women and the elderly are able to secure their right to free expression and to feel safe exercising it.

READ: Constitutionalising Egypt’s dictatorship

Unite so as for us to open the prison gates in order to free the detainees, the disappeared, the tortured and those threatened with extrajudicial execution. Unite so we are able to build schools and get rid of the roadblocks; in order for Egypt to regain its image; and in order for us to remove the darkness of reality and of those who are immersed in the swamps of the oppressors’ injustice.

Unite in order for the train of alienation to stop; for you to shed the ropes of humiliation and put on the ropes of pride and glory; and for Egypt to return to the status worthy of it as a free and honourable country.

Unite, for you have been stepped upon by the dwarfs who have called you unbefitting names and your faces and history have been ridiculed by trivial ones who now think they are the decision makers in Egypt.

Unite and put aside personal agendas and interests, for all of these perish while the homeland remains.

Unite, for your enemy only managed to vanquish you when you divided your ranks. So, return to your senses so as for us to regain our might and strength against our enemies and not against our brothers in the homeland.

In the anniversary of your great revolution from which peoples and nations learned sublime and civic principles, we invite you to a second wave to accomplish a second independence and just constitution .. and a decent living.

The words of the leader of the revolution, Saad Zaglul, remain an objective and an aim: “Right is above might and the nation is above government.”

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