||17 June 2012 07:00
|Show: ||Carte Blanche|
Egypt's fragile democratic gains are under threat after a surprise court ruling to dissolve the Islamist-led parliament, just two days before an election to replace ousted leader Hosni Mubarak, recently sentenced to life in prison. Just when all seemed on track in Egypt, which has known little but turmoil in the past 18 months.
Derek Watts (Carte Blanche presenter): 'You are, or you were, a banker leading quite a comfortable life, so how did you get into this new world of actually starting an uprising?'
Waleed Rashed (Activist): 'Actually it was very useful for me to be as a banker because I used to work in bank as a sales team leader. And the revolution is some kind of sales and marketing job exactly.'
Derek: 'That's the way you look at it? A marketing operation?'
Waleed: 'Exactly! Exactly as you are selling any product; we consider ourselves, the activist, we are as a salespeople. And our people, they are our customers. And our product is the change or the revolution. We said, 'Okay, let's go to Facebook.' And we say: 'We are calling people to a general strike in Egypt.' And the call is: 'Stay at home.' The surprise is, in a few days only we got 76 000 - they are supporting the idea of strike.'
Derek: 'On Facebook?'
Waleed: 'On Facebook page. And when people come to say it's a Facebook or social network revolution, it's totally wrong, because Facebook just only one tool; and we have many, many tools for marketing.'
Derek: 'That's what I wanted to ask you - how did you get people from being online activists to actually protesting in the streets and putting their lives on the line?'
Waleed: 'For example, taxi drivers, we have very funny kind of taxi drivers in Egypt. They love to speak a lot with passengers; they couldn't be silent at all. We decide, one day, we want to use taxi drivers as our media. So we decide just once you be in a taxi, just have a call in front of taxi driver to one of your colleagues and speak very, very softly. Just let taxi driver feel there is something going to be something on 25 January. So I hold the phone like that and I start talking to the other side, 'Hey man, just be ready for 25th of January. This is the plan... I'll be in this square, you'll be in this square.' And taxi driver was curious to know what is going on. He's like recorder beside me; he want to use this story. And they start telling any passengers, 'I heard today one guy who was a passenger here and he is telling this story about 25th January.''
Derek: 'Waleed honestly, when that revolution started, surely you didn't think Mubarak would be out of office in 18 days?'
Waleed: "I remember that when he stepped down I was running around Tahrir Square saying only one sentence: 'Now I have a former president in my life.' Now I can say, 'No more Mubarak in my life.' It was critical moment. I always think that any dictatorship, not only Mubarak, any dictatorship, he is in power not because he's too much strong, but because people are weak, because people are silent, because people are passive. And especially because we have something in Egypt called emergency law. Emergency law means it's not allowed for five guys to sit together in a closed meeting. Emergency law means there is no court. They can arrest anybody to put him in jail, for how long they want to put you in jail. And we tell people, yes there is emergency law, I understand that you are scared to be arrested. But if we become a million in the street there is no place in jail for a million.'
Derek: 'What about your parents Waleed, were they worried about you getting involved?'
Waleed: 'They thought that we are crazy actually. And even my mum she come one day to tell me, 'What the hell you are doing? You are going to put yourself in jail.''
Derek: 'What did you say?'
Waleed: "'I told her [that] I tried to be normal but I couldn't."
Derek: 'What is interesting and sad was the death of a colleague, Khaled Said, a young man who was tortured and killed by police which lead to almost his image almost becoming a part of the revolution.'
Waleed: 'The problem is everybody think in himself, 'Khaled Said was yesterday so I'm going to be tomorrow.' But Khaled Said killed was a biggest wake-up call for this generation that if you keep silent you will be tomorrow.'
Derek: 'But Waleed, don't you think there's also a danger that people might just start protesting for any reason and for the wrong reasons?'
Waleed: 'People are not protesting because they love to protest. This is very important! But because of this situation they couldn't be silent.'
Derek: 'So you feel young people will work towards a solution and will just not continue to protest?'
Waleed: 'For sure. For sure. For sure. If everything is fine why I will go back to Tahrir Square?'
Derek: 'What I'm saying is, maybe not everything will be fine because of the economy and unemployment.'
Waleed: 'No, but we supposed to give chance. You supposed to give chance. For sure.'
Derek: 'Is there a place for ministers in the old regime?'
Waleed: 'We tried them for 30 years. If you try restaurant only for one time and was bad restaurant you will never go back for the same restaurant, yes? We tried this restaurant for 30 years. So I think it's more enough, we must shut down this restaurant. I'm not worried about who is the next president is coming. If he want to be like Mubarak, it's okay, fine, Tahrir Square is there. We can go back anytime to Tahrir Square. That's why when Mubarak been in jail, his picture was very, very important. And was clear message to any president after him: 'Just look where is Mubarak right now. You can be like him anytime.''
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