The Man who Overthrew a President

From Ahram Online, perhaps the making of a hero, but the portrait of the man who designed the Rebel Campaign:

Far from being overawed, Badr was soon arguing with General Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi about the military’s roadmap for a political transition, and rejecting his suggestion that Morsi should call a referendum on his continued rule.

Millions of people were demonstrating for the recall of the president, not for a referendum, the activist told Sisi.

“I tell you, sir, you may be the general commander of the Egyptian army but the Egyptian people are your supreme commander, and they are immediately ordering you to side with their will and call an early presidential election,” he said.

The general surrendered. A bunch of kids in T-shirts had changed the course of the Arab world’s most populous nation by mobilising mass protests against the ruling Muslim Brotherhood, then threatening to turn on anyone who resists their demands.

“We own the streets because we stand with the people and the will of the people, and we will always do so,” Badr said.

Like many activists of the Facebook generation, he cut his political teeth in the uprising that toppled veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011. He started working as a journalist and voted for Morsi a year ago but became disillusioned.

He told the generals that if they opted for a half-way solution, they would be lost. If they stuck to the referendum idea, he and his movement would walk out.

“I don’t have a blank cheque from the people,” he told Sisi. “People signed Tamarud’s petition for an early presidential election so I can’t go out and tell them anything else.

“If you are worried about the Brotherhood’s reaction, they will also refuse a referendum, so in that case you will lose both sides. Win the Egyptian people!”

A senior military source confirmed that Sisi dropped the idea of a referendum in deference to Tamarud’s argument.

Fascinating article, which includes speculation that the Rebel Campaign was eventually infiltrated by state security and old regime supporters.

But the Rebel Campaign did what many liberal politicians would or could not – work the street. The transition now is in the hands of politicians, and they will do well to remember where their authority comes from.

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