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Tamarod: From rebellious youth to political actors

Egypt's young revolutionary face of June 30 is reinventing itself in order to maintain its privileged position on the political scene

Mariam Rizk , Tuesday 5 Nov 2013
Tamarod (Photo: Official Facebook Page)
Views: 5484
Views: 5484

Tamarod was the word in Egypt three months ago; everyone was enthusiastic about it, and anyone could have been a campaigner or volunteer. You could find street campaigners while waiting in traffic or shopping in the city’s markets. Colleagues at work and family members touted the photocopied forms, calling on Islamist president Mohamed Morsi to step down.

Now that the aim of the campaign has been fulfilled - Morsi was ousted by the military in July following the mass protests that Tamarod spearheaded - the youth group is reinventing itself in order to maintain its privileged position on the political scene.

The word Tamarod, Arabic for rebellion, essentially means to not settle for the least and to speak out against oppression and dictatorship. In the current moment, many are accusing Tamarod of blindly supporting Egypt's new authorities. The young revolutionary face of June 30 has been a strong supporter of the interim-government's roadmap for the transitional period.

Mohammed Abdel Aziz and Mahmoud Badr, two of the group founders, are representatives in the 50-member committee assigned to amend the constitution. The group has also repeatedly spoken in favour of the presidential candidacy of Military Chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sissy.

Tamarod, as a revolutionary idea, was supported by almost all political forces opposing the Muslim Brotherhood's strategy.

“The Brotherhood's failure pushed the media to talk about Tamarod and parties to open their offices for them. That's why they became popular,” suggested Alfred Raouf, founding member of the Dostour party, one of the groups who opened their offices for the processing of Tamarod forms.

Over time, Tamarod's young activists have become players in their own right on the political scene. The group recently announced it would run in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The group’s leaders maintain it is no longer a question of what they don't want (the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood), but rather a question of what they do want to achieve in the future.

“As a political movement, we want to achieve the goals of June 30 and Jan 25 revolts… One of the main ways of doing so is to join parliamentary elections and reach positions that will enable Tamarod to influence legislation that represents revolutionary goals,” Mohammed Abdel Aziz, one of the group’s founders told Ahram Online.

Some political currents have criticised Tamarod for tolerating the military's return to politics and breaches to human rights in the name of security.

“Human rights are not their priority, but they didn’t promise they would be,” Gamal Abdel Gawad, political analyst at the Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic studies, explained.

Critics refer to Tamarod’s approval of the forceful dispersal of two main pro-Morsi sit-ins by security forces, which left hundreds dead.

“Disbanding the Rabaa sit-in was a revolutionary demand, because it was not a peaceful but an armed camp... What occurred in Rabaa is the least that could happen to an armed camp,” Abdel Aziz said.

Tamarod campaign forms, on which the group claim to have gathered around 22 million signatures, highlighted one central demand: “No confidence to Morsi,” and early presidential elections. The list of demands that followed were collated after days of mass protests and the refusal by the Morsi-government to compromise.

The initial and subsequent ultimatums given by Military Chief Abdel-Fatah El-Sissi for all political powers to reach an agreement, took the protests to a whole new level.

“Military intervention was not in the list of demands they [Tamarod] gathered signatures for; they shouldn't have fooled people,” Wael Abbas, a political activist and blogger said.

Internal Conflict

Tamarod is not only facing external criticism, it is also contested from within. In the last two months, collective resignations were submitted by leaders and members of the group in the southern provinces of Sohag and Beni-Suef, for the marginalising of offices outside Cairo and “the shameful political positions adopted by the movement's central office, without the consultation of coordinators in the governorates,” claimed Tamarod Sohag's online page.

Abdel Aziz refused to comment on the resignations, but confirmed that “decisions are made through the central committee of the movement and the political office,” based in Cairo.

A founding member, who left the campaign before June 30, said decisions in the central committee were taken with no real consensus between members.

Ghada Mohammed Naguib criticised Tamarod's political stances, including the group's silence over military trials for civilians and the forceful dispersal of the sit-ins. “Principals are indivisible,” she said.

The group is having to defend their positions, not only to political currents that supported them, but also to the rest of their members and the wider Egyptian public.

"Tamarod became a movement competing for power. This is a breach of the covenant between us and the people," Moheb Doss, one of the group's founders told Ahram Online, "I do not consider myself splitting from Tamarod, as the majority of the campaign's founders are in consensus over taking another route," he added.

Doss highlighted internal conflicts that took place even before Morsi's ouster, but said he thought the "majority of the members in opposition to various positions remained quiet until we had dealt with the main threat [Muslim Brotherhood rule]."

Abdel Aziz acknowledges the shift from "being an oppositional campaign to end Morsi's rule, to becoming a political movement with a certain point of view." However, he says the transition did not gain the support of all members of the group.

"They [Tamarod leaders] considered our disagreement to be a personal conflict," Doss explained.

The Tamarod campaign appealed to the average apolitical Egyptian citizen, as the only commitment was to sign a paper to voice their objection against Morsi. Developing a new movement with the same name, and almost identical key figures, was not helpful in making a clear distinction between the two.

“The idea of rebellion against the Brotherhood regime is different from the goals of the Tamarod movement now,” Raouf said.

Abdel Gawad suggests Tamarod is the practical, pragmatic wing of January 25 currents.

“After a certain period of unrest and big dreams, it [Tamarod] decided to choose between what's available and what's possible,” Abdel Gawad said, “but there is no doubt that the movement eased the return of the military to politics,” he added.

“Support for the military is popular on the street. If Tamarod wants to continue as politically active, their choice to align themselves with the military will gain them favour. Political elites will be angry, but in politics you have to choose,” he concluded.

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19-11-2013 01:25pm
One day history will tell a documentary about Obama and how he joined Brotherhood.I have no doubt that Hollywood will make it a movie.soon!and will show how the president of USA was working against his own country! and reveal secrets of the dirty deal he made with brotherhood and how the American deplomat in Libya were killed cold blood by his allies and he cover it up.
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06-11-2013 06:44pm
what i read here since the 25.1.2011 is nothing but ego in different ways without the slighest form of responsibility to the people each and everyone is faking to represent your country has a serious growth-problem in population,a food problem,a industry problem and last,but not least,due to your idiotic ego-politics a serious income problem...forget about reasonable tourism for years!!!!! you guys have to learn,that you are SERVANTS!!!!! to the voters,not their pharaos,name yourself MBs,liberals or military but your damned mentality will not start to learn untill famine gets its grips into this country,and think what,then you accuse other states and beg them for food supplies the problem is YOUR problem,get a grip and start to stand for your people instead of only yourself ego!
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06-11-2013 06:30pm
hotep and u dont stop
Carry on home boys n girls comin forth by day n nite great people of Africa Maat to you all*
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muslim pharaoh
06-11-2013 03:28am
we can all get along
Egypt, Secularism, Integrationism and Shariah. Egypt needs a purely secular structured democratic government but the government is not the nation. Differentiate between the country and the nation. The country plays a social organizing role, while the nation plays a more structural role. Politicians need to strengthen the military role in protecting the national unity and the Egyptian race which defines Egypt as a nation. The military gives us our beloved Pharaoh back. The Islamic identity needs to be given more symbolic power. This means the judicial authorities need to be bounded by the islamic shariah interpreted by specialized azhar scholars. Al azhar needs to create a corporate body with organizational by-laws and include the muslim constituents. This is how it is done in America, when it comes to religious bodies with power. The religious corporation will then implement the shariah by-laws on muslims only. However, it is bounded by the judicial authority and the rules of the law of the land. This means that certain norms can be implemented by the organization however no ruling or verdict can be enforced except by the rule of law. This gives the freedom for individuals to decide to be part of the muslim community or not, instead of being forced. It is time to rationally design a secular country with all the freedoms but an Egyptian nation with powerful Islamic symbolic values. All the country laws need to go through judicial review to ensure it is in accord with the Egyptian nation. This nation will not intrude on other values because the nation should not require assimilation. One of the tenants of Islam (classical one from al azhar) is it desires for everyone to keep their heritage and does not compel anyone to be a muslim. The model I present forth should construct a multicultural unassimilated country. This model preserves the Egyptian nation which can learn and grow from the multiple integrated heritages and religions into it. On a side note, I suggest we completely forgo the arab identity, since in reality we are more accurately linguistically arabic. I hope for an arabophone economic union similar to the European Union.
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Muslim pharaoh
07-11-2013 03:59pm
Secularism is not part of Christianity. Secularism was there before Christianity in the Greek nations. Secularism just means not absolute, so that means no absolute rule. This translates to thought relative to oneself. A secular government will only think about matters that pertain to itself and not religious, scientific or nongovernmental matters. It focuses on governing and nothing else. Democracy means the government is limited by the people's will.
Iman Qassem
06-11-2013 08:10pm
Egypt needs democracy, not secularism
Egypt needs democracy....If the Egyptian people opt for Islam, everyone ought to accept the will of the people. Besides, secularism is part of Christianity, not Islam. You can not impose secularism on a Muslim nation.

Sam Enslow
05-11-2013 10:43pm
Who are these people?
I am no friend of The Brothers, but once again I see a group that appeared out of nowhere. Who are these people, their backgrounds, their skills, who got them started as political activists, and who financed them? What is their message. I know what they are against, but what are they for? What goals do they want to accomplish if elected, and how do they plan on reaching those goals. When will they leave Cairo and actually talk with the people of the rural villages to know what they want?
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19-11-2013 01:14pm
Talk to the people of villages like your government tried to do here?? get lost.
06-11-2013 08:20pm
Don't hate them if you don't know them
The Ikhwan are the true democrats in Egypt. They represent Islam, the religion of justice and equality. If you want to know them thoroughly, you should studyIslam. But don't get your information on the Islamists from their enemies or from thehostile media.

05-11-2013 09:42pm
Tamarod are a bunch of Old school thugs with no moral compass! History will prove this statement. BELIEVE ME! Shame on the Egyptians who still buy into their filth!
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Nagi Abdelhamid
05-11-2013 08:32pm
Tamarod a political party
I hope you consider the matter very seriously, as the biggest mistake the army made was to call election after the removal of Mubarak. It was not any political party strong enough to challenge the brotherhood, as Mubarak destroy any political party had existed in the past. Also I hope that all the demonstrations stop in order to give the country a chance to move forward, the media should start publish facts and Basem Youssef should return to the air once more, as in democracy satire and jokes is part of it. Strong leader should and must be able to accept and handle any criticism. Good luck for Tamarod young men and women. God bless Egypt, the Egyptian Army and all the Egyptians.
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06-11-2013 02:11am
Brotherhood is again going to be on top if fascist don't stop them from contesting.
They have 40% in parliament, 58% in Shura and 51% in presidential elections.
Sandy Williams
05-11-2013 10:52pm
Egypt is teetering under fascism
My Brother Nagi: People are demonstrating because freedoms are muzzled, newspapers closed down, TV channels shut down and thousands of activists detained without charge or trial. These are the hallmarks of fascism.

Hamdi Ayoub, Subra, Cairo
05-11-2013 08:08pm
A treacherous group
I think it is clear by now that these people were working for the Mubarak regime and the Coptic Church. The Mossad, Iranian ad Saudi intelligence could have been behind them. Their vehment hatred of Islam speaks volumes. As an ordinary Egyptian who had supported the group, I think they have lost90-95% of their erstwhile popularity. I think the Islamists would win the elections if held freely.
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05-11-2013 07:34pm
Job has done
They have done their to bring back the old regime (army+judiciary+mubarak loyal police).they were paid to roll back the Jan 25 they done their jobe.their role has finished,they only can survive if they continue to support the Army otherwise they wil be punished by their masters.
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05-11-2013 06:41pm
Ha ha ha
Tamroad is a bigest agent of Isreal and USA. He want mess up Egypt.
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Hanna Zakariya
06-11-2013 08:30pm
It is a Nazi regime by excellance
Allen..the Islamists have the right to call the current regime Nazi. The current regime committed massacres of innocent people, arrested tens of thousands on fabricated charges, closed down non-conformist media and baned political parties it doesn't like. If this is not Nazizm, then what is it?
06-11-2013 02:12am
How did Morsi served interests of brotherhood ?
- Morsi allowed participation of every one in constitution comettee
05-11-2013 10:38pm
Smear by False associations
When extreemists like the MB really have no intelligent, or a reasonable point to make. The easy way out is just smear every one by false associations. Fashists, Nazi's, Israel etc... That is why only the simple minded allow themselves to be brainwashed by the MB.
05-11-2013 07:35pm
What Nonsese!
Interesting how you blame everything on Israel! Why not accept that Morsi failed because he just served the interests of the Brotherhood? Why does everything for you have to be linked to Israel. Take responsibilities for your OWN failures and enough of blaming Israel!!!

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