Egypt’s Tamarrud: A Revolution for the Lazy?

Egyptian opposition supporters hold their national flag during a demonstration against President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo's landmark Tahrir Square on 29 June 2013. (Photo: AFP - Gianluigi Guercia)

By: Bisan Kassab

Published Saturday, June 29, 2013

During the first days of the January 2011 revolution, sharp-witted Egyptians coined a term for those who turned their backs on the protests, fearing instability and the loss of the old. Dubbed the “Couch Party,” this group stayed at home on their couches while millions valiantly poured into the streets.

This segment of the population, though it did little during the 18 days of revolution, represented an impenetrable, informal bloc. Though it’s estimated that more than 15 million participated in the revolution, this sedentary “party” prevailed at every major turning point, as long as it did not face the bullets being fired in public squares. The home dwellers supported the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) against the voices of change.

As June 30 nears, it seems the “Tamarrud,” or Rebellion, movement has achieved a miracle. Against all expectations, the campaign succeeded in penetrating the “Couch Party,” even garnering the support of countryside residents and traditional communities, like the Sufis.

For decades, Sufis supported successive Egyptian regimes as part of a tacit agreement among its sheiks to support those in power. It was astonishing to note Tamarrud’s sweeping success in collecting signatures on a petition demanding Mursi’s resignation during celebrations of Sayidda Zainab’s birth.

This historic step away from the couch makes Mahmoud Badr, one of Tamarrud’s founders, proud. Badr told Al-Akhbar that he and his colleagues came to a realization about the sporadic opposition protests of the past two years. The public failed to respond to such protest calls because they considered them ineffective, producing little results.

“Tamarrud, instead, made a simple proposal to this public, a proposal that suits their nature and does not require a great deal of sacrifice on their part. We asked them to sign a petition to oust Morsi,” he said. “But we also called on them to protest on the set date to defend the free will that they voiced.”

Badr added: “This campaign went to the people on their own turf, transferring the revolution from the squares to neighborhoods, factories, and the countryside.”

Yet things are not that easy. The Tamarrud public includes a silent majority that would prefer a quick and easy solution to oust the Brotherhood, possibly including a transfer of power to any party, even the military, that they think will restore stability.

Tamarrud’s public includes other kinds of “rebels,” such as a large segment of the youth who were politicized by the revolution. The role of the army in the transitional period, if Tamarrud’s campaign bears fruit, remains a controversial matter.

There is no doubt that the military continues to exercise a central role in the political arena even if this role is concealed at times. Developments may force it to carry out a military coup.

Badr appears optimistic that the so-called “June 30 Front” will be formed based on the transitional roadmap outlined in its declaration, which will prevent a sudden army intervention. Yet the danger lies in the possibility of reproducing the experience of the Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution – the 2011 umbrella group for the forces of the revolutionary youth – that could not translate the revolutionary momentum into a good electoral campaign.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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