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February 8, 2011
Public Forum

What Does The Egyptian Mass Movement
Mean For North Africa & The Middle East?

Organized by Mobilization Against War & Occupation (MAWO)


February 8 MAWO Forum Report

On Tuesday February 8th, Joe's Cafe in East Vancouver once again became an important meeting place for people who believe in social justice and a better world. In attendance were people from all walks of life who came together in order to discuss the significance of the current mass uprising in Egypt. Called “Egypt on the Rise,” this forum was the third in a series of public presentations and discussions about the current wave of mass protests against corrupt and despotic US-backed governments in North Africa and the Middle East.

It has now been almost one month since the overthrow of Ben Ali, the former president of Tunisia, an event that is seen as the first giant victory and a spark to the current movement in the region. Since then tens of millions of people have come out onto the streets of Egypt demanding their rights for self-determination and control over their own resources. Tuesday's forum came after almost a week of vicious attacks on people demonstrating in Egypt by government backed security forces and provocateurs. But, the mood in the room full of participants who were students, workers and elders was one of strong solidarity with the people of Egypt and conviction to continue to support them as long as they are out on the streets.

The first section of the forum was a selection of video clips. This week, videos included not only the striking footage from demonstrations in Egypt, but also footage from solidarity rallies all over the world from Turkey and Saudi Arabia, to places further away like Malaysia and Venezuela. The strength and courage of people in Egypt that we saw on the videos was apparent in their faces, creative signs and banners, and their words of determination to remain on the streets until the US-puppet Mubarak steps down and leaves Egypt.

This week's forum brought back the dynamic panel of speakers from the previous forum. Ahmad Badawi, a long-time Egyptian political and social justice activist, Zeinab Ali, an Egyptian student peace and social justice activist and Ali Yerevani, Iranian social justice organizer and participant in the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

Janine Solanki, the Outreach Coordinator of MAWO, opened up the forum by calling for a round of applause for the people of Egypt, North Africa and the Middle East, reminding us all that they are standing up for the dignity and integrity of all of humanity. Everyone enthusiastically joined in.

Each speaker on the panel then brought a fresh perspective brought on by another week of rapid developments in Egypt. Zeinab began by expressing her continued pride in the people of Egypt and the causes of the revolutionary uprising - the lack of basic human rights and dignity under the current Mubarak regime. As a recent youth organizer in Egypt, Ahmad spoke about the social conditions in Egypt that have shaped the character of the latest demonstrations – he also emphasized the importance of Egyptians uniting around the demand of Mubarak Out!

The final speaker, Ali, spoke about the historical significance of this internationalist movement for self-determination led by Egypt, explaining how the popular mass movement in Egypt, which has shut the country down, has opened a new era of revolution and counter revolution for the past two weeks. He also reminded the audience of the massive shock that the Iranian Revolution gave to imperialist powers in the Middle East, as the balance of forces in the region changed and waves of revolt spread throughout the Middle East. Ali ended by giving to everyone great hope, as victory for the people of Egypt and their fight for all humanity would bring waves of resistance and massive shock to imperialist war, occupation and domination far greater then the Iranian Revolution.

Discussion between participants went until near mid-night, just as another day of massive protests, coupled with strikes and labour action, began in Egypt.

Join MAWO for the next forums and actions in support of the people of Egypt, as we continue to discuss the roots and causes of this mass struggle in North Africa and the Middle East , the role of the U.S. and other imperialist countries' in causing this deep social and political crisis, and most importantly, how we can support and build the solidarity movement at home.

Long live the people of Egypt!
Long live the people of Tunisia!
Long live the people of Jordan, Yemen, and Algeria!