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The New York Times

Consider Egypt’s Peaceful Masses

What is going on in Egypt undermines the values of the Arab Spring. The military coup against an emerging democracy destroys all the gains of the January 2011 revolution.

The replacement of the winners in the elections by the losing rivals and others demoralizes citizens about their rights to choose their rulers and representatives, which was a first in the history of Egypt. Other gains including freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association, and peaceful protest have been destroyed, and more is on the way. All the above gains, promised by the 2011 revolution, have been confiscated by the coup. Those against the military coup are sent to prisons and cemeteries; their offices and TV stations are shut down. None is allowed to speak up, unless praising the coup and its leaders.

Facing repression, Egyptians' defense of the revolution's values will grow. In Egypt and beyond, the aspirations of the Arab Spring will not die.

The losing political parties in the elections endorsed the suppression exercised by the security authorities and supported ending the sit-ins by force -- further strengthening the coup against democracy. These parties do not contribute to a democratic transition, but are helping to assassinate it. These political groups can talk "rights and freedom," but they don't walk the walk; this hurts the global reputation of Arab advocates of modernity, enlightenment and liberalism. The groups in Egypt have deviated from these values.


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Today, the great Egyptian people are writing an epic of peaceful struggle for freedom, unrepeatable in human history. They peacefully stand in the face of an authoritarian fascist military regime that has killed and wounded thousands of protesters in the recent crackdown.

These peaceful masses give me confidence that, facing repression and sacrifices, Egyptians' defense of the revolution's values will grow. Indeed, even beyond Egypt, the aspirations of the Arab Spring will not die out. We know that the path of peaceful struggle, toward freedom and dignity, requires many sacrifices and must endure much repression.

My message to the Egyptian people is this: “Fill in your freedom-loving hearts with faith that Egypt needs tolerance, not hatred; needs partnership and coexistence, not exclusion and conflict. These noble values must be promoted and adhered to after any great revolution; it is the only way to bring about significant shifts in the lives of people.”

Tawakkol Karman

Tawakkol Karman, a co-recipient of the 2011 Nobel peace prize, chairs Women Journalists Without Chains. She is a human rights activist and leader of the popular revolution movement in Yemen

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