Desperate Times, Desperate Action....

Desperate Need for Change Tariq Rehman COM 694 Northern Kentucky University

One year ago, the countries of Tunisia and Egypt were at the epicenter of media coverage and at the peak of their resistance movements against corrupt tyrannical governments. As Egypt erupted with joyous celebration after the resignation of Hosni Mubarak, other countries in the region, such as Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria, took up their own banners to oust their corrupt leaders as well. The 2011 Egyptian Revolution was a game-changer for the entire Middle East region. It was the wakeup call the populous in several countries needed to help become motivated to change what has been set as the standard for decades.

A few months later, in the same year, the Occupy Movement began in New York City’s Zuccotti Park with dozens protesting the inequality of wealth distribution in this country. Those dozens grew into hundreds, and eventually the Occupy movement spread across the

country with hundreds and hundreds of people “occupying” in a number of major cities. Why compare Tahrir Square in Cairo with Zuccotti Park in New York City? The only comparisons than can be made are the vast differences in both movements, but how each one inspired resistance in order to change one’s life.

(Image Source: BuzzFeed) The Arab Spring, and what is currently happening in Syria, is an act of desperation on the part of the people because they wanted things to change. The message out of Tahrir Square a year ago, and other countries around the region, was in order to change the current state of living, people need to work hard for it. The massive population of Egypt (most populated of the Arab countries) was the spark that ignited the massive Spring movement. It was a powerful message sent to the U.S. government who supported the corrupt leaders and politicians of these Arab countries; the power is truly with the people.

The people in the Arab countries rallied behind one solid goal; to oust their corrupt leaders and ruling parties in order to improve their lives. Before any revolution took place in that part of the world, corruption was rampant; starting with the leaders and pouring down to the police force that is charged to protect the rights of people. Not only was corruption rampant, jobs were scarce, especially for an evergrowing young and educated population in Egypt where people were, and still are living in abject poverty. The people had had enough, and so they started a movement, which in turn became a pivotal revolution for the entire region. The people stayed true to the main objective, and worked hard to fulfill it. Support poured in from across the world via the Internet and the social media networks, which helped start this revolution as well. From there, the people could not be silenced. Demonstrators in the Occupy Movement, inspired by the Egyptian revolution, took similar action to protest the vast inequality of wealth distribution in this country A shortened version of an interview by Kai Ryssdal from Marketplace, American Public Media on January 25, 2012, let us hear from activists in Cairo and New York how the Arab Spring protests inspired the Occupy movement:
Kai Ryssdal: Part of what we've been looking at this week, as we mark a year since the protests in Tahrir Square, is how closely -- if at all -- the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street were connected. Ahmed Naguib is an Egyptian pro-democracy activist. He was in Tahrir Square again today. Tammy Shapiro is an Occupy Wall Street organizer in New York. We got them together to explore that common ground and where both movements go from here. Ryssdal: Ahmed, let me ask you first of all, when you looked at Occupy Wall Street and when you saw that happening last fall in New York and then across this country what were you thinking? Naguib: I was thinking, good for them, because I believe our generation is all about change. And I don't see what's happening in the States, nor Greece, nor Spain or

other countries in Europe, and even India and this Arab Spring as detached. In essence we're all after the same thing. You know, those bankers and politicians that failed us and have increased the margins of poverty all around the world -- we need to fix that system. Ryssdal: Tammy Shapiro, that line he just said, "we're all after the same thing." You agree with that? Shapiro: I think we are. I think our struggles look different -- they have different flavors to them -- but at the end of the day we're looking for a system that works for everyone. I think an important difference is the violence that we face. You know, I think that people in Egypt are really putting their lives on the line. And while some folks in Occupy are putting their future in the line or, you know, dropping everything and we don't know where things are going to go -- we're not facing the same kind of violence and repression. Ryssdal: Ahmed this is a little bit sideways, but it occurs to me that the Occupy Movement really hit on something. They hit on a thing that resonated and they figured out a way to market it, right? They've got the slogan of "we are the 99 percent" and they've got this idea of occupy. Is there the same thing in the Arab Spring and happening across that part of the world. Naguib: Well, actually I see that the Occupy movement has much bigger challenges. Because you have a nation that's so huge and so decentralized in many ways, it's very hard to get the nation behind you on such a cause. But I think they're doing a pretty good for the time being. And people are starting to identify more and more. I think it's about targeting your people that you want to mobilize and the techniques and tools you need to use for that. Ryssdal: So Tammy, what happens now? I mean, that challenge he speaks of is not insignificant. Shapiro: Yeah, I think in this country there's a lot of people who are unemployed, there's a lot of people who are losing their homes. But there are also people who are doing OK And in order to really build a mass-based movement, there are certainly people who say, "The worse things get, the larger our movement will grow. And, you know, small reforms that pacify people aren't actually helping us in the long run." There are people who think that. And there are people who think that the worse things get, the worse things get.

Shapiro: And we won't be able build a movement and people won't have the freedom to fight. And I'm not exactly sure where I fall on that, but I do think that there is a sense that a lot of people need to get to desperation before they're willing to stand up and put everything on the line. Ryssdal: Ahmed, the people Tammy was talking about -- the people who are doing OK in this country -- are you finding in Egypt and across the Middle East that the people that are doing OK are interested in what the democracy activists are saying? Naguib: I think what differentiates us in the East from the West is that we're still on the lower part of the food chain when it comes to democracy, freedom and civil rights. So we have more to fight for. To engage those 1 percent and you tell them: "Take bureaucracy and take away corruption. We could do way much better." A lot of people ask me in Tahrir Square, "I mean, you look like from a decent and good background, great education, you have a great job. What made you go down on the street?" And I respond to them exactly like this. I tell them that the day, on 28th of the Friday of Anger, I took both my little kids -- seven and five -- into my arms and kissed them. And I wanted them to hear -- maybe -- my last words to them, which is "I'm going out to get you a better tomorrow." (Interview by Kai Ryssdal, American Public Media: Marketplace, January 25, 2012)

Change isn’t easy, especially when it’s resistance towards a set system. However when something is fundamentally wrong with the system where people are suffering across the spectrum except for a select few, then there will be a rise in resistance from the masses in order to change the flawed standard, as seen from both the Occupy and Arab Spring movements.

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