Egyptian, Polish – human Solidarity

Feb 14, 2011 by

Egyptian, Polish –  human Solidarity

This year we celebrate  the 30th anniversary of the establishment of Polish Trade Union Movement Solidarity. From August 1980, 10 mln people around Poland joined the peaceful movement for change. I’ve first written “a peaceful movement for democratic change” but I corrected myself – at the time no one believed and could possibly envision the fall of Communism.  It has been in place for fifty years but seemed to have been there forever. Mubarak has been in power for thirty years – enough to imagine he would stay there forever.

But he fell. When I listened to the chanting of people from the roofs of Cairo, the chanting of people whose voice was heard, I thought about the chanting of the Polish people, gathered around their Pope, listening to him speak about human dignity, inalienable human rights and freedom. The form of chanting is different – the Middle Eastern tunes have little to do with Polish folk and church melodies. But the content is similar – the song of solidarity of people fighting for change and feeling that their ‘song’ matters. That the power of people’s beliefs and values is greater than the power of rifles.

There are differences between the two movements – the main one is the lapse of time and the development of technology. The world knew about the events in Poland in 1980, but access to information was limited and censored. Ruth Gruber, who was the only American correspondent from Poland in the years 1980-84, visited Yale on Saturday and spoke about her experiences. In 1984 she was thrown out of the country in a widely publicized scandal, with charges of espionage circling around her car, as she was leaving Poland. She had 48 hours before her official visa expired. She drove too fast, was stopped by a Polish policeman who, after looking at her driving license, asked in disbelief: “Are you the journalist that is being expelled?!”, “Yes,” Well then good luck, carry on, just don’t speed too much.” Who wouldn’t in this situation?

The work of foreign correspondents in Egypt is hard, but incomparable to what it was for her. Twitter, Facebook, U-tube have made the changes in Egypt more real to the outside world than any protests in the past. People care and support the Egyptians.  Naguib Mahfoux, an Egyptian Literature Nobel Prize winner, spoke today on the BBC World Service about the effect of the international support on the Egyptian revolution. “It felt so intimate, so close.” Who would expect that Facebook, so often accused of breaking and depersonalizing communication  between individuals, could prove such a powerful tool of strengthening communication between nations and of bringing international diplomacy to the grassroots level of the people – the carriers of change.

The moment is difficult – it is only the start of change. It took 10 years between Solidarity’s set up and the eventual fall of the Communist regime and the establishment of functioning democracy in Poland. Mubarak’s fall is not a guarantee of anything, but it opens a window of opportunity.

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1 Comment

  1. Jacek

    Sounds as the editorial in Guardian or NYT!

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