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The Egyptian Revolution 'code book' deciphered

Ahram Online compiles a selection of words that framed public discourse and ideological battles following the January 25 Revolution. Enjoy!

Hatem Maher, Sherif Tarek, Sunday 22 Jan 2012
Demonstrators hold banners with Arabic words that reads " Open strike there is retribution" center,
Demonstrators hold banners with Arabic words that reads " Open strike there is retribution" center, " I'm a thug" ridiculing official accusations that protesters are violent thugs, right, and " Revolutionaries but they call us thugs." left, as they protest in the Martyrs Square in Suez, Egypt, Tuesday, 5 July, 2011(Photo: AP)

Felool (remnants of the former regime)

Felool is one of the most common negative words in post-revolution Egypt. Felool mainly refers to former members of the now-disbanded National Democratic Party (NDP) whom revolutionaries have exerted persistent efforts to force out of political life.

The NDP of ousted president Hosni Mubarak was dissolved on 16 April 2011 by order of the Supreme Administrative Court. In order to get back into the parliament, some of its former members established a set of new political parties to run behind.

A campaign called "Emsek Feloul," or "Catch the remnants" was subsequently launched to blow the whistle on them, exposing front parties for what they really are and keep the felool off the political landscape.

Mowateneen Shorafaa (honourable citizens)

The term was created by the notorious state-run media and anti-revolution outlets that usually hasten to defame protesters and revolutionaries on every possible occasion. Just as they may describe peaceful protesters as "thugs," they often brand violent assailants as "honest citizens."

Consequently, mowateneen shorafaa, amid the revolutionaries, refers to those who assault demonstrators, like those who attacked protesters last year while marching in the district of Abbasiya.

Most of the state media reported that it was the residents of Abbasiya who attacked the march, while many protesters insisted they were hired thugs who acted under the supervision of military forces.

Hezb El-Kanaba (the couch party)

This party is, needless to say, a fictional one. The term was invented by revolutionaries and protesters to make fun of the politically apathetic.

The accurate description of couch party “members” is those who prefer home, sitting on a couch, watching news and talk shows on TV, to being involved in politics or demonstrations.

El-Aghlabya El-Samta (the silent majority)

Whether this so-called silent majority does exist or not remains a mystery until now. Again, it is a term most used by state-run media, as well as some governmental officials from the old regime. El-Aghlabya El-Samta is more or less close to Hezb El-Kanaba. The difference, however, is that the silent majority is supposedly against the revolution and not completely indifferent.

Thus, anti-revolution figures might occasionally call on that alleged majority to take it to the street to support the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and object to its critics.

Millioniya (a million-man march)        

Simply an Arabic word for a million-man march.

Million-man marches have become familiar since the January 18-day revolt when millions of Egyptians hit the streets on a nationwide scale to demand the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.

Protesters in mass demos in post-Mubarak Egypt usually do not reach a million. Still, any mass protest could be referred to as millionia these days, especially if held in Tahrir Square.

Al-Askar (army)

While many simply refer to the military forces as El-Geish (the army), protesters used another word to define them in the aftermath of notorious post-revolution incidents of violence that put the military junta under huge pressure.

Al-Askar is used to degrade the SCAF, implying that its officials can only handle army-related issues and are not qualified to be in power or to deal with civilians.

The term was criticised by many pundits and pro-SCAF analysts, who deemed it a rude.

Aidy/Asabee Kharegia (foreign hands/fingers)

This is one of several terms used to describe an alleged foreign element spurring protests and violence in Egypt since the January uprising.

As the conspiracy theory dominated many post-revolution political discussions between ordinary Egyptians, aidy/asabee kharegiawas was widely uttered by anti-revolution forces, and more importantly SCAF and governmental officials.

However, none has clarified who is actually behind this alleged foreign plot, who deserve to be referred to as foreign hands/fingers.

Taraf Talet (third party)

For local conspiracies, there is the term taraf talet (third party) or mondaseen (infiltrators).

Both terms were repeatedly used during November’s clashes in Mohamed Mahomoud Street by authorities in order to justify the use of firearms while dealing with what they described as "riots".

Mondaseen, nonetheless, was also used frequently by pro-revolution protesters to name those who actually infiltrated them to defame them by wreaking havoc.

Agenda (agenda)

Talk about self-interest has abounded following the uprising, resulting in the widespread use of the word “agenda”.

It usually indicates that certain people or organisations stir unrest for hidden purposes, to serve “malicious” interests, or the interests of other countries.

Agalet El-Entag (wheel of production)

This phrase was mainly used by Egyptians in pleas to protesters to calm down, so the country could recover from its economic woes.

They repeatedly called on political activists to “let the wheel of production spin” by abandoning demonstrations, at least temporarily.

The term was the subject of much sarcasm on the part of revolutionary forces.

Baltageya (thugs)

The term was widely known before the revolution, but took another twist following the uprising. In post-revolution Egypt, it mainly refers to those who are hired to attack protesters.

The ruling military also uses the term while justifying the continuance of highly-controversial emergency law, saying it only seeks to crack down on el-baltageya.

The revolutionaries, nonetheless, have been making fun of the word over recent months after SCAF seems to be using it rather excessively when referring to protesters.

Many believe its use is part of an attempt to justify brutality while dealing with peaceful demonstrators.

El-Makhloua (the ousted)

Since 11 February, El-Makhloua has become another name for Mubarak. In addition to the negative meaning for the word, the revolutionaries tend to use it to underline that fact that he was actually toppled and did not step down by free will, as SCAF announced after the 18-day revolt.

Mubarak’s supporters see the term as offensive and unacceptable. They opt for "former president," or even Mr President!

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