Saturday, January 21, 2012

Until Victory.

“We have paid a very high price for the revolution. Colleagues of ours are getting tortured and killed. It is a very dangerous situation now. But the revolution is for bread, for freedom, for social justice for all Egyptians, for minorities, for women. Until then, the revolution will continue. This is not the end of it. This is just the start," Mostafa Hussein told me during a telephone conversation from his home in Cairo this week.

I spoke with Hussein while I was assembling my report on the several front lines of the Arab revolutions a year after Tahrir Square, in today's Ottawa Citizen.

When we talked, the the runoff-vote tallies were still being finalized after the first-ever Egyptian parliamentary elections, but it was already clear that the old Islamist order of the Muslim Brotherhood and its more radical allies in the Salafist movement had won a clear parliamentary majority.

“The elections happened in the context of extreme violence and oppression. The record over the past year is just as bad as it was under Hosni Mubarak. The military ruling class still has the guns, and they don’t shy away from beating women in the streets in front of cameras,” Hussein explained. “But these elections weren’t rigged. We can’t do anything but respect the results.”

Still, the outside world would be very wrong to think the Egyptian revolution is over, Hussein told me. There is no going back now.

On a related subject, just as soon as I get a moment I'm going to be updating this page with a response of a sort to some very kind reviews and helpful critiques of my new book, Come From the Shadows: The Long and Lonely Struggle for Peace in Afghanistan. Some welcome news: The Canadian International Council picked Come From the Shadows as one of the best international books of the year.

I was very humbled by Sohrab Ahmari's beautifully written and generous review in World Affairs Journal, titled "The People Do Not Want To Go Back" (a portion on the free side of a paywall can be found here). I was also heartened by Peter Ryley's review (which is also a very fine essay in its own right), not least because Peter is a writer and a thinker I greatly admire and he has not forgotten what means to be of The Left. Also weighing in with a very generous review is Paula Newberg, director of the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University and a former special adviser to the United Nations in Afghanistan, in the Globe and Mail. And I should thank retired colonel Mike Capstick for the thoughtul consideration he's given the book in this month's Literary Review of Canada.

More later.


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