Something for Iran’s young revolutionaries to think about: Now that they have accomplished their objective of ousting President Hosni Mubarak, leaders of Egypt’s Facebook revolution are now in a dilemma. They no longer agree on their objectives, are accustomed to everyone having an equal voice, and have nobody to lead them.
The latter point could be an asset – absence of an individual leader prevents the movement from becoming personalized and subject to being identified with one person’s character, flaws and all; and it prevents anyone from neutralizing the movement by neutralizing its leadership.
However, the very traits that made the movement so strong in ousting Mubarak are the ones making it so fractured and weak today, the Washington Post reports. The editors at IranChannel think that this has lessons for Iran’s younger generation.
According to the Post,
Part of the problem, for groups such as April 6, is organizational structure, or lack thereof. Youths in Egypt proudly point out that theirs was a leaderless revolution, a deliberate philosophy born in part out of the nonviolence books and Serbian Otpor! movement that inspired the April 6 founders.
The problem also has to do with the movement’s origins online, where everyone has a right to post a comment. In the days after the revolution, the group tried applying similar principles to meetings, giving everyone who attended two minutes to speak. The resulting marathon sessions went on for hours with little consensus.
But the leaderless philosophy extends far beyond the April 6 group. During the revolution, several youth groups banded together to form the Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution, a loose-knit board that included two representatives from each faction. Since then, the coalition — which has played a large role in negotiating with the Egyptian military — has studiously avoided anointing any leaders.
In fact, before Mubarak stepped down, when one of the coalition’s members, Google executive Wael Ghonim, was released from captivity, some youth activists said they had asked Ghonim to scale back his media appearances. They noticed that media coverage had begun to identify him as the face of the revolution. Since then, he has largely faded from the spotlight, granting few interviews and restricting his public comments in recent weeks to Twitter and Facebook.
“Our reasoning is this,” said Muhammad Adal, 23, a core member of April 6. “A leader can be arrested, slandered, dragged down into the mud. But if your leader is an idea, this is something no one can kill.”