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From war to revolution
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 06 - 10 - 2011

It took Egypt 38 years to match its historic victory on 6 October 1973 with a glorious revolution for democracy and freedom on 25 January 2011. Just as a generation ago, our young men crossed the canal to destroy the Bar-Lev Line and restore dignity and freedom to our soil, this year our young women and men did the same, crossing the boundaries of fear and repression to bring down the walls of dictatorship and injustice.
Before 1973, the nation aspired for the liberation of its land. "No voice should rise above the voice of battle," was the common slogan in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It is because of the 1973 victory that the nation felt relieved enough to seek justice and democracy, but it took decades for our aspirations to come true.
The 1973 war was a victory for the whole nation, not for the regime or any particular party. So today we celebrate this victory in honour of the rank and file. We pay tribute to the ordinary soldiers and the unknown commanders, and all the men who gave their souls to the country. The spotlight is on you, the ordinary folk of Egypt. The accolades are for the nameless soldiers and commanders who jolted the world with a military miracle that will live forever in our hearts and minds.
We pay tribute to the men who fell in battle and those who went back after the war to their usual jobs in factories, universities, and government departments. The fruits of their victory had been claimed by others. But now the nation has reclaimed its celebrations. Now we honour the ordinary men. We honour those who gave us victory then, in noble humility, retreated to the shadow. We honour those who gave their lives to that a new generation may be born on a free land. And it was this new generation that gave us the 2011 victory against tyranny.
Just as we once rid our land of the occupiers, we have finally rid it of the opportunists who used to lead the processions of victory and wear the garlands of triumph. Now the garlands belong to everyone, to the generation of 1973 who went into battle with faith in their hearts, and the generation of 2011 who took to the streets with freedom on their minds.
Thanks to both generations, we now have victory and freedom. We have restored our land and regained our dignity. And we are poised for the journey towards justice and democracy.
What we need now is to recapture the spirit of 2011. We need to restore the confidence between the army and the people. We need to build bridges of trust and transparency between the people and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, now in charge of one of the most crucial moments in this country's history.
Let's say it again. Let's once more chant that, "The army and the people are one hand." This would be our greatest gift to the nation on this glorious day.


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