Egypt

#OccupyWallStreet: A Generation Finds Its Voice

A TV reporter broadcasts from the NY protests last week/Photo by Tim King for Sojourners

I had seen people my age start successful businesses, become pop-stars and even play a key role in partisan political campaigns, but I had never seen them develop and sustain a social movement.

Sure there have been more focused shifts around issues like educational equity, LGBT rights or global poverty that my generation has had a hand in shaping, but nothing that quite had the look or the feel of what I imagined the anti-War or Civil Rights movements of the 1960s to have been. I assumed we -- my contemporaries ( I'm 27) -- simply didn't possess the interest or the will-power to accomplish something that big.

I was wrong.

#OccupyWallStreet: A Digital Hootenanny

Watch live streaming video from globalrevolution at livestream.com

(+Video may contain coarse language+)
Indie music darling, Jeff Mangum, who rarely plays in public, surprised #OccupyWallStreet protesters in New York City earlier this week with an impromptu concert. A New Jersey singer-songwriter pens two songs for revolutions. And an order of Catholic nuns offer free mp3 downloads of a protest song inspired by the life of St. Francis of Assisi.

St. Francis, Pray for Us

Today (Oct. 4) Christians around the world celebrate the life of St. Francis of Assisi, one of the bright lights of the church and one of the most venerated religious figures in history.

The life and witness of Francis is as relevant to the world we live in today as it was 900 years ago. He was one of the first critics of capitalism, one of the earliest Christian environmentalists, a sassy reformer of the church, and one of the classic conscientious objectors to war.

TGIF: Links 'n' Such

A homeless man on San Francisco's Mission Street. Photo by Franco Folini, www.flickr.com/photos/livenature/

The Gubbio Project, which helps churches become refuges for homeless people throughout the U.S., recently earned a new fan: Author Anne Rice. "When I was in San Francisco, I visited St. Boniface Church in the Tenderloin and was moved by the sight of many peaceful homeless people sleeping in the pews of the church," Rice wrote on her Facebook.com page earlier this month. The author of the Vampire Lestat books and most recently the biblically-themed Christ the Lord novels and her spiritual memoir, Called Out of Darkness, provided her "people of the page" as she calls them, a link to the Gubbio Project where they could donate to "this fine work on the part of the Franciscans of St. Boniface in helping the homeless."

Nothing Spontaneous About It

It looked spontaneous. Thousands of people poured into Tahrir Square in Cairo on Jan. 25. Was it an instinctive social surge in a country with a repressive regime or a carefully planned resistance movement that chose a strategic time? In more than a dozen countries people have taken to the streets to demand political and social reform. In Egypt, the "18 days of revolt" -- as a nonviolent movement for social change -- has been years in the planning.

Nonviolence is not new to Egypt. The 1919 campaign for independence from Britain was one of massive nonviolent civil resistance. On April 6, 1919, Mohandas Gandhi called for the first all-India day of nonviolent civil disobedience. Aware of Gandhi's mass protests in India and earlier in South Africa, 10,000 Egyptians marched on Cairo's palace in defiance of British martial law. Women leaders in traditional veils led hundreds of women in open opposition to British occupation. Activists organized labor strikes and boycotts of British commodities, and delivered thousands of petitions to foreign embassies demanding support for the nationalist movement. When organizers chose both the Christian cross and the Muslim crescent as the movement’s symbol, thousands more joined the cause, which won limited independence for Egypt. While violence (mostly from the British) occurred, the nationalist movement was predominantly nonviolent.

Read the Full Article

​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Best Practices in Egypt

Here are nine "best practices" used by organizers that helped lead to a successful nonviolent campaign in Egypt:

1. Clear Goals. The organizers clearly identified their goals early on. They were posted in Tahrir Square for everyone to see. The organizers stuck to these goals, even when pressured to settle for less.

2. Broad Base. The organizers built a wide coalition across Egyptian civil society, including the whole political spectrum: Muslims and Christians; farmers, students, and labor; the poor and the wealthy.

3. Positive relations with the army. The organizers actively and strategically cultivated a positive relationship with the army. After the police withdrew, organizers brought the soldiers tea, flowers, and lots of kisses. This was based on the organizers' understanding of nonviolence, as well as their study of recent successful nonviolent revolutions, during which the army either did not intervene or actively supported the change, such as in Serbia.

4. Women. They created a safe place for women. The organizers encouraged and welcomed the participation of women and children, something that is crucial for the security of everyone. They made it clear that the sexual harassment of women was not allowed (this is something which is a big problem in Cairo), thereby making it safer for women to participate.

5. Cultural Enjoyment. They made the demonstrations fun! Inside Tahrir Square were a number of stages -- one had speakers, at another someone led chants. There were stages with musicians, singing, and comedy acts. They offered face painting and lots of art, especially cartoons for posters. Organizers created a sense of community -- of the "new Egypt" -- inside Tahrir Square.

Read the Full Article

​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Pages

Subscribe