Arab Spring, Democracy, Freedom


2011 is the year of freedom. It is the year where I personally got hooked on this new opium of the people and started largely dealing it. I dealt it by tweeting and posting on Facebook walls. I dealt it by blogging and passing on information to the press. I consumed it and called it peaceful democratic transition. I even became an enabler and I wasn’t alone in doing that. Like every other drug, freedom has its dealers, consumers, producers, middle men, gangs, and victims. As we the people readily consume it, we never look around to see who surrounds us, or fear being trapped. Think tanks, media and government empires feeding us links and news, all forms of freedom products, that we freely, unconsciously and voluntarily consume, tweet, retweet, post, share, deal, infuse, inject… propagating agendas, ideologies, serving freedom and servitude, and helping God, and its enemies, all at the same time. This year, we dealt and wanted more freedom by the day. We consumed the new opium so generously provided and available to us in cozy social media lounges that sustain our addiction, and ensure that we become long term enablers.

When dealing freedom, the means don’t always justify the ends. The powerful mean that is the voice of the people doesn’t always guarantee the defeat of the most organized oppressors, and dealing freedom can even lend a hand to chaos. As we strive to achieve freedom, we make the most unexpected friends, and when left hands shake rights ones, we build the most dangerous liaisons. Like love and drugs, when it comes to freedom, there is no rationale and there are no limits.

2011 was the year of people protesting, demanding freedom, they say to achieve a better future. They want it now, all of it and fast…do they want it at any cost? The voice of one million people in Egypt became the voice of 83 million and toppled Mubarak. But soon it became again the voice of a predominant ideology, and back again the voice of a new oppressor. A few months ago, Asma Mahfouz used a powerful youtube video to call for a revolution against Mubarak, and she succeeded in injecting us all with freedom, in Egypt and beyond: in Freedom we trust! But not long ago, she stood military trial. She was merely warned that the new oppressor had taken power, and was determined to keep it. Where is freedom?  While the cries of true democrats join all the others to dig the tunnel to salvation, newly free enslavers wait at the end of the tunnel to set their toll.

Recently, on their Facebook walls, freedom addicts joyfully proclaimed that Libya was free. But if Libya is free of Gaddhafi, will it actually be free? Who are the rebels? Why are my democratic friends so eager to congratulate the Libyan people? Are we so high on freedom that we can’t see ourselves merely clinging to symbols, to yet another type of “mission accomplished” snafu? Close to ten years later, and even as consumption of the freedom drug spreads, Iraq is still not free.

On Facebook, a friend got a little moment of sobriety and warned a common friend and freedom enabler: “do not rejoice yet about freedom in Libya…Families were killed, children, moms, to what use? Was it worth it? Who are the rebels and what will they do?” “Sometimes that’s the cost to pay for freedom.” his friend replied. “Tunisia and Egypt did it without a civil war.” He insisted.

I felt suddenly weighed down by the hefty onset of an overdose: “Beware of the invisible hand,” I worried. My friend’s response sounded the wake-up call: “We are all enablers and part of the invisible hand.”



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